It’s that time of year when manufacturers announce their new models, and press introductions usually follow. Already busy with laying out the issue, writing stories, and keeping up with our new web site, I am always willing to do a little more work for another great two-wheeled trip. Trying to finagle at least one of these cush trips that involve flying somewhere warm, being put up at a beautiful resort, being wined and dined, and riding motorcycles before anyone else gets to is difficult to pry from editor Steve’s grip. But because another media event overlapped, I was the lucky one from the office who got to head out to Austin, Texas to test the new Star Stryker in early October.
Checking out the bike’s press photos before I went, I couldn’t really tell the difference between it and the Raider. But never having ridden the Raider, it would’ve been new to me anyway. Turns out, the Stryker’s powerplant is really a V-Star 1300 engine, and almost all the other parts are all new. It shares wheel specs with the Raider, and the design elements are similar, but the frame, exhaust, dash, and just about everything else is unique to the Stryker. To read my review, pick up a copy of RoadBike’s Jan/Feb issue (on newsstands 11/23). It’s the one with yours truly riding a blue Stryker on the cover. Check out the bonus extras on our web site by clicking this link.
Also in the same issue, is my bike review of the Aprilia Mana 850 GT ABS. We had that bike in our test bike pool on and off throughout the summer. You may have caught a glimpse of it if you saw me riding from CT to Ontario Canada for the International Women in Motorcycling Conference this past August. It made for a wonderful touring bike, with its continually variable tranny and tons of hard bag storage space. I especially liked what Aprilia calls the “helmet compartment” which is located in the area that looks like a fuel tank. You push a button on the left grip that pops open the lid. Inside is a 12-volt charging station, where I kept my iPod charged for my entire 1,400-mile trek.
Most recently, I just got back from testing the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 in California. Team Green had the press intro in Mill Valley, which is just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. After riding around up there, they let me keep the bike long enough to wind my way down the coast, finally returning the bike to Kawi’s corporate offices in Irvine. How great is my job? Who else gets to spend four full days in a row, tossing a fantastic sporty-standard into smoothly-paved, uninterrupted, banked turns, from sea level to several thousand feet? I saw elephant seals and tarantulas, visited old friends and made new ones, rode past wineries and ocean waves that had to be 50 feet high. The vistas where amazing, the weather was perfect, and the whole experience was nothing short of delightful. I loved the bike as much as the roads I was riding. Now I’ve got to get to the hard part – editing photos and choosing the right words to portray my experiences. But it’s a job I still wouldn’t trade for the world.