Red Dog and Me

This is an on-going dialog between me and a certain motor scooter, namely a 2009 Piaggio MP3 500 that came to live with me in October of 2009. I've named the scooter Red Dog and as yet have not determined its gender. In the past when I've named boats, bikes, and other like characters I've thought of them as feminine due to their behavior characteristics. Red Dog I'm not so sure about...we'll see. Update: OK, Red Dog's a girl...with an attitude

Saturday, May 29, 2010

May 29, 2010 Poor Red Dog gets jilted!

Fate sometimes has a way of dealing a funny hand. My summer ride plans have been centered around Red Dog since she came on board last October. All of her upgrades and modifications have been with that in mind and continued to be so until just recently. But….as much as I enjoy riding her I’ve never quite felt confident in her overall roadworthiness for an extended tour. There are just too many weak areas that although none of them are serious any one could cause delays and gobs of frustration on the road. If they occurred that is.

The busted tire incident in my last post called my attention to that, and I began to rethink things. I’d mentioned in a previous post that I might consider taking the Ducati ST3s since I’d never ridden her further than Portland which is really nothing, distance-wise. With that as an option I began riding her on a regular basis to see how I might fare at the end of a long day. The results were not good, the ergonomics although not bad simply aren’t what I’d want to deal with all day every day. I’d imposed on Jerry Smith, a friend and former Yamaha racer with tons of mechanical knowledge to mess with the suspension bits. The idea was to see how much of an improvement might be accomplished via that avenue. It helped, in fact it helped a lot but still not enough to turn the trick.

Then a few days ago while I was in Coos Bay having coffee with Jerry, Ron Wardman, and Chuck Bruce I mentioned I was going to stop by the local Kawasaki dealership and oggle their bikes. This is the same dealership I bought my Ninja “El Nino” from, the one I rode to Alaska and Nova Scotia. Chuck had said he’d like to ride along on my summer tour so he was naturally interested to see what I might be up to.

There on the showroom floor sat a gorgeous new 2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 900LT, fully equipped with windshield, saddle bags, and back rest. It’s Kawasaki’s entry in the mid-sized cruiser-touring market and it’s a doozy. Reports and test results have rated it well and it’s regarded as an excellent choice for that style of bike.
I was smitten. Done. I talked with the salesman and after a brief bit of haggling arrived at a price I could live with. The deal was they would prep the bike for a test ride the next morning and if I was satisfied it would be mine.

Naturally it rained cats and dogs the next day and I nearly called it off because of it. Then I thought why not, if I can handle it in the rain and slop it should do just fine when it’s nice out. As I was thinking about how to get to Coos Bay for the test ride Chuck called and offered to give me a ride in, “Just in case you decide to bring her home” he said.

Having never ridden a “cruiser” type bike with floorboards and forward foot controls I wasn’t too sure if I’d like it. I needn’t have feared, that riding position is dead simple and the low saddle height makes manoeuvring easy as pie. I toured downtown Coos Bay, then did a bit on the main highway and after a few miles returned satisfied to the dealership. Chuck gave me a huge grin proclaiming “You’re gonna love that bike!” and deep down I knew he was right. I rode her home through broken periods of rain and sunshine, typical of our costal weather and stored her under the garage eves for the night. I've decided to name her Green Girl, it just seems to fit.

My goal of finding a bike I’d be comfortable on long distance tours had ended; with my past experience with Kawasaki’s Ninja I know I can rely on Green Girl to take me where I want to go. Having said that I think it would be appropriate to begin a new blog with her as the star attraction for the upcoming summer tour.

So what about Red Dog, does she just sit and rot in the barn under her cover? Not. I’ll ride her, she’s still an absolute hoot and I think will be my main ride for runs into town, etc. Time will tell but for the moment I’ve got to get moving with Green Girl; if things go as planned we’re on the road next Sunday, June 6th.

See you then.


  1. So, Larry, please advise the name and status of Green Girl on the road blog.
    If you hurry, you and Chuck could join Tobin and me for a few days around AZ/NM/Colo.

  2. You have an amazing blog, it is really very awesome, if you’re interested here is the link to my blog of poetry, it would be awesome if you could check it out and follow if you like.

    Or my facebook page

    Hoping you have a wonderful week filled with inspiration and laughter,