This is not a normal bike review….painstakingly researched,carefully considered,un-biased opinions…..this isn't that.
My bike – I ride a CB600F2 Hornet.It was due for a service so i headed to my mechanic early on Sat. morn to pick up the loaner before a full days shooting at the local race track.
Now generally,bike repair shops in Cape Town don't offer loaners so i've been treated well and i hate being without (my) wheels so i'm also very gratefull.That being said,when he wheeled this out,i thought…
'..wow..it's even crappier than mine…and it looks funny..'
…but no matter,it was transport and i was off to work.Swung a leg over and set off on a laid back 20km ride.Wait…did i say laid back?
About 400 meters down the road ,the abject horror of what had just befallen me began to sink in.You see,cruisers are kinda cool.You hit the starter,put up your legs and head out on the highway.Not the Virago 535 though… Who designed this motorcycle!?I bet it was done by committee.
First of all,a cruiser should be comfortable,the prime directive you might say but ooooh no….that little piece of obvious wisdom seemed to have escaped the R&D department.You squat down all undignified like, on the low seat.Then you put one foot on the peg so your body can adjust to this impending,never before attempted ergonomic contortion….feed a little clutch,lift the other foot and boom,you're stuck in a japanese restriction torture chamber….is their such a thing?…yes..s'called a Virago.
The footpegs are close,the handlebars are closer… and narrow by cruiser standards and when you try to observe the abovementioned laid back position,the top of the pillion seat sticks into your lower back.You're forced to sit forward,feet close and your arms doing,what i can only describe as the T-Rex.
Stopped at a red light i tried scooching up onto the pillion seat…
….i thought but scooched down again when i saw the guy in the car next to me smiling bemused.
'Ah gets no respect on this bike.'
Light goes green,i turn right,the peg scrapes…'cos it handles like clown shoes.The last stretch,i decide to give her a little stick,hoping to salvage something from my opinion.The little v-twin (it's not that little) vibrates happily as the needle climbs but wait….red light on the dash.It's written in Japanese but i know what a red light means so i throttle back to take stock but as i do,the light goes off.Give it another turn,the needle climbs,the light goes on…and always at exactly 80km/h…where a huge red zone starts on the speedo.I can only deduce that the Virago warns you when you're approaching motorcycle speeds.
…'She's five gears of boredom and regret.'
I spent the day sport photographing and commuting between posts at the track with a face…this one…
Not me but that is the exact face.I always thought that this is the face you get on a cruiser…..cos you feel like such a bad-ass.But after spending the day on Virago 535 i can tell you that this is not the bad-ass cruiser face.This is the 'i ordered a-la-carte and this chickens off' face.
Something good about the bike?….the mirrors.
And that's where i left it…or would have liked to 'cept that the mechanic called around 5 to say he needed more time….i should keep the loaner till Monday.Then i realised that in another diabolical stroke of misfortune,my helmet matched the bike perfectly….and it's an openface.
'My ego will never recover from this.'