Purchased in August 1995 for $750, third-hand, and intended to be my starter bike (replaced on schedule in 1997 for the Concours). Sadly, I laid it down in gravel west of Manchester, MI (west of Ann Arbor), in September, 1995. It looked like pavement, and it was dusk... Basically, I screwed up. No personal harm done, and all important damage was repaired/replaced at no great expense, but it was several months before I replaced the windshield, which was shattered in the crash. This was really too bad, considering I chose to ride it from Ann Arbor to Detroit (to the new apartment) on a very cold October Saturday afternoon.
Danno says I'm a complete idiot who must have been dropped as a child, but I did manage to go for rides around downtown Detroit on Christmas Eve and Day, 1995. It was cold, so I bundled up. No big deal, though a windshield would have been nice. I also rode my dad's Honda Helix on New Year's Day, but that was in Nashvillian 50°F weather. Actually, every time the weather pretended to get nice for a day or two, I managed to head out for some decent rides. I decided it's easier to ride twice a month than mothball it for the whole winter.
I really didn't ride enough in the summer of 1996, and I felt like a complete loser because of this. I did at least manage a couple of (what I then considered) long rides. One was to Kingsville, Ontario, during which it rained lightly (which really worried me, since I'd left my rain gear at home), and another to Harsen's Island, which is a nice-sized island in the north end of Lake St. Clair (the lake just north of Detroit). You have to take a ferry to get there, which really adds a nice touch to any ride, although riding onto the steel ramp while the ferry's pitching about is a bit scary the first time. It also helps to put the bike on its side stand as soon as possible. Keeps the bike from falling over during the ride over.
July 12-13th, 1997, I finally took the Kaw on a proper trip. Equipped with new nylon saddlebags, I met Danno south of Toledo, then continued to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, near Mansfield, Ohio. All three people I eventually rode back with said they were surpised a 454cc Kaw could actually keep up with higher displacement sport/touring bikes. So either 42 bhp and 400 lbs is a better power:weight ratio than I thought, or else I'm a more furious (or stupid) rider than I would have suspected. Or maybe I'm just more willing to push a weak bike to its limits than the other lads, which is the explanation I prefer. The total ride, by the way, was between 400-500 miles, and the bike turned out to be moderately comfortable. Well, having a sleeping bag and pad rolled up behind my back helped out on the ride home, otherwise my back would have been in serious pain from the completely lousy ergonomics of cruiser-style bikes.
I did get to replace the bike
during the summer of 1997. Danno's Kawasaki Concours was officially voted
"alright" by some respectable mechanics. So I bought it, and
sold the Ltd for $400 to a couple of guys who buy older bikes, fix them
up, and sell them to wholesalers in South America. So since it's summer
down there mostly, I would hope some guy is having a ball cruising around
town looking cool. And not riding too far at a time, lest his back should
hurt too much.
updated: 12 September 2000