A few friends and I decided earlier this year that it would be fun to do a motorcycle trip from Portland down to Bonneville to watch the top speed racing. We’re now within the 1 month mark so preparations have begun in earnest.

First consideration is route.

There are a few options presented by google maps, but I’m going to let the other guys take the lead on which route we want to take. Based on this though, We can expect it to be no less than 1600 miles round trip, probably closer to 2000 since the current plan is to get there via the southernmost route. More if I stick around and explore the southwest for a few days after those guys head back north.

This brings up the question (in my case) of which bike? Right off the bat, all the scooters are out. While part of me really wants to do a 2000+ mile ride on a 50cc (hey, I’ve done 250 miles days on them multiple times!), I do not think the other people coming would appreciate that choice.

One of the longer 50cc rides I did, to the pacific coast an back to Portland in a day.

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The DR-Z could probably do it, but it’s real loud and is not exactly comfortable at highway speeds. That leaves the Triumph.

It could make the trip without any issues. I may have to do a few modifications (windscreen, extra tie downs for luggage) but It would do just fine.

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However I got to thinking, do I really want to bring something I genuinely care for onto a giant lake bed made of salt? (you have to park on the salt even to watch) Unlike cars, motorcycles generally do not have corrosion protection of any kind. No undercoatings, fasteners are not plated, so salt would get into all the moving parts in the suspension and slowly rust away the bearings and fasteners. Not a great idea for something I routinely take to triple digit speeds.

This got me thinking about renting a bike for the trip. Found a few companies that do rentals, but overall price would be in the $2k range. I thought to myself “hell, I could buy a bike for that”So I started shopping around.

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Considering that this trip is mostly highway, I figured I’d branch out a bit and buy a big cruiser. Pretty far from my norm, but what better way to experience a different class of bike than the exact environment that class is made for?

Had a few requirements that were guiding my search

1. Fuel injection, I really don’t want to have to screw with carbs on the road

2. Sub $4000, kind of a soft limit as I intend to sell whatever I buy right after returning. Don’t have the space for another long term bike right now

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3. Reliable, while the thought of doing the ride on a vintage British bike is appealing... it is also very not appealing

4. Something I am unlikely to become emotionally attached to and end up keeping or feel bad about taking onto salt.

5. More than 1000cc. Because everyone knows more is better.

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These requirements basically focus my search on year 2000 and later Japanese cruisers. They generally have a really steep depreciation curve due to being “not Harley Davidsons”, while being very reliable and plentiful in the second hand market.

I went and looked at a few this weekend and this particular Honda followed me home for only $2600

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It’s a 2002 Honda VTX1800. Yes, the 1800 is a reference to the engine size, and this thing is an absolute monster. At the time it was introduced, it was the largest twin cylinder engine ever fitted to a motorcycle by more than 100cc. It’s heavy, really heavy at around 800lbs, but the engine makes around 120 ft lbs so it moves out of it’s own way with surprising quickness. Being a fuel injected an water cooled Honda, a basic service (just to make sure everything is up to date) should set this thing up for about 15k miles of trouble and relatively maintenance fee motoring.

I’ll make a longer post about the bike in a couple weeks once I get to know it a little better. As it stands I’ve only ridden it a couple days so far.