There is no 2 seat trainer for the Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt. So, one day after spending weeks flying a T-38 trainer a new pilot walks out and jumps into an A-10 and takes his first flight. To me that has to be a little nerve wracking. I felt a lot of the same apprehension as I took off for a day of looking at and test riding bikes I had never been on. Easing myself onto the saddle of each bike was part thrill and part anxiety. Both bikes I rode were bigger and heavier than the Buells I rode in class and in both cases I took them from a short driveway straight on to a state highway with a speed limit of 55.
The Silverwing Interstate.
The first thought that ran through my mind as I walked up to it was that it was a monster. It just looked huge. As I walked around the bike the current owner pointed out minor issues and needed repairs. There were numerous. A tip for sellers: Don't point out an issue and in the same breath say that it is only a quick turn of a screwdriver to repair. If that is so, you should turn the screwdriver then it wouldn't need to be mentioned.
The bike had a seat back on the saddle which I had never ridden with before, so I had to figure out how to mount the bike because I could not use my customary way of throwing my leg around the back side of the bike with the seat back in the way. I finally my leg straight over the saddle and lowered myself onto it but doing it this way meant I could not hold the brake as I mounted. I flipped up the kick stand and took control of the weight. Heavier than what I was used to but controllable. Started the bike and got a feel for the friction zone, then took off down the gravel driveway.
A quick left turn took me back toward a small neighborhood I saw on the way in where I thought I could try some moves. In those first few minutes I decided I didn't like the bike. The fairings felt odd because they did not move when I was turning handlebars -- it felt disjointed. The bike felt heavy, bulky and ungraceful. So I decided to just turn around in the neighborhood and go right back. I turned around (in a small space actually) and headed back. Since I was not real familiar with where the seller's house was, I overshot it. Taking the first right, I had planned to just hook a quick U Turn but something told me to keep going.
I found myself on two lane hilly and curvy country road by a lake. It was a beautiful Michigan fall afternoon, a little crisp (about 50) but sunny and clear. The leaves were all sorts of colours and sun light off the lake pretty too. Soon I hit a series of S curves and the leviathan turned into a ballerina.
The handling was fantastic through all 5 gears. Not only that, the road that was chip and seal and very rough but I wasn't getting beat to death (found out later the GL650 has some sort of air suspension system). I took turns here and there at will to explore the roads and the bike. Then on a long straightaway I dropped the highway pegs, put my feet up and leaned into the seat and cruised. Awesome.
Took the bike back, but it had made an impression. Lots of fun and a comfortable ride. Let me say here that I liked the model, but not necessarily this bike. It needs work, and had some rust on the fuel tank and issues from a prior fall over where a prior owner's wife got off of the wrong side of the bike (how does that happen?). For the price it was not worth it. But I was real impressed with the ride of the Silverwing.
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