– the [i] is for [iron].

I realized one of my few materialistic goals as I rode off the lot in my very own motorcycle.  As a kid, it it was more the idea of having a bike that I fell in love with, but at the time I was enamored with the aggressive speed and looks of sport bikes. As I got older, I began realizing that crotch-rockets weren’t really suited for me, and being that I was already prone to speed in the Z’s I’ve owned, I realized that getting something like a Hayabusa at any point in my 20s was the worst thing I could possibly do.

And so there the dream sat  – I didn’t look too hard at “other” bike styles in my youth as felt they all either looked upright and silly (standards) or like the only way I belonged on one is if I was a retired vet (cruisers).

Then, in my late 20s, a group of my friends here in Texas all decided to take the Total Rider motorcycle safety course. Some of them just wanted to do it just to say they did, on up to those who were intending to buy a bike ASAP.  I… was worried at the time. Not worried about what it takes to ride a motorcycle mind you, but worried that doing so would trigger my obsession gene that would stop at nothing until I found the perfect bike for my taste and aesthetics. Go full tilt or go home; the antithesis of a frugal man.

Fate had a say in that weekend as I completed the classroom and test portion of the class and passed with flying colors, and then ended up staying out too late that night and completely sleeping through alarms and phone calls from my friends for the driving portion which began the following morning at like 7 am.  I still feel horrible to this day; one of my dear friends paid for me to take the class and another one of my friends was using me as his ride TO the class, and I failed them both by dropping out.

After that, a few of my friends went on to buy bikes and enjoy them – I tried not to think about it as embarrassing as it was at the time, but I just knew that I had to save me from myself and not entertain the thought.

Now, some 5-6 years later, a lot has changed – including my taste in bikes. I started seeing cruisers that… hey didn’t look half bad.  Even started seeing cruiser styles that were more sleek and modern, and before I knew it I wasn’t even considering sport bikes.

The real catalyst came when my fiancée decided she wanted to take the class – I wasn’t dropping hints or even thinking about it and she was actually looking for my support.  So, we took the class together, only this time I actually made it to riding day, and fell in love just like I knew I would.

As for my “obsession” switch, I managed to curb it and really follow her on the endeavor.  We agreed to start small, and work our way up by buying a 2008 Honda Rebel (250cc).  (Even though the comment from just about everyone was “Woah you sure you want such a small bike?” – I think if everyone started out in a 250 the statistics on accidents involving first-year bikers would go down significantly.)

We bought the bike outright at TJ‘s for a cheap fair price, got it registered and insured in her name.  She drove it every day to work and back, and I became the ravenous secondary driver that eventually offered to get anything she wanted from the store on a whim as long as I got to take the bike.

This lasted for the past two months when I quickly felt that riding the bike was second nature. I wasn’t thinking about shifting, turn signals, speed of approach, etc, it was all automatic. The training and the practice on the little Rebel really let me gain a solid comfort for the road that I think would have taken twice as long had I tried to do it on a bigger, intimidating bike.

In the end, there were a couple of bikes I was considering – ultimately coming down to either a Yamaha “Raven” Stryker, or the Harley Iron 883 Dark Custom.

The Harley won out for several reasons – cost ($7999 vs. $10990), power (I felt 250 to 1300 was too big of a jump), and history (2011 is the first year the Stryker became available, whereas Harley has been tweaking the 883s for over a decade).  And those are just the boring logical reasons – the sound alone on the Harley’s is always a positive over other bikes, as is the raw amount of customization and after-market availability that comes with the brand.

So, without further adieu, check out the newest addition to the menu above, dedicated to my first and only Harley

I’ll be updating it as the bike evolves!