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owned a lot of motorcycles in the last few years, from Harley Davidson, to
the new Triumph, old Triumph and BSA, a Royal Enfield Bullet to Honda sport bike, and several Japanese
cruisers. I've loved them all. Each bike has its own strengths and weaknesses,
as does each rider. Each bike generates passionate feelings in its owners and in
its onlookers. One only has to peruse such forums as Canadian
Motorcycle Guide Online's Soapbox to read the feelings each rider has
towards his or her machines, towards riding styles, towards mechanics and
dealers - to be a motorcyclist is to be enthusiastic, opinionated and outspoken.
For me, the vintage and classic motorcycles generate the most affection. I
love the lines, their style, their grace, and their history. To read the tales
of British motorcycling from its beginnings more than 110 years ago is to read
the story of popular culture, of invention, of the drive to reach and break
through mechanical boundaries, and of course the goal of speed and performance.
However, although I've owned some wonderful classic bikes, I'm not a
mechanic, and didn't do justice by them. I don't have the time, the skills or
the tools to become one. That might change, if I won a lottery, but until then,
my relationship with classic motorcycles will remain one of enamoured observer.
That doesn't stop me from wanting one. ANd I will, again, some day.
I first encountered the W650 in magazine briefs in late 1999. I was intrigued
by the idea of a modern retro bike. I had owned a beautiful 'new' Enfield India
Bullet a few years ago and enjoyed the machine immensely. However, it proved
less than satisfactory on the busy highways where my work and travels often took me.
And it demanded more mechanical skills than I could muster at the time. When I
saw the W on the floor of the 2000 International Motorcycle Show in Toronto, I
was smitten. It looked like the bikes I loved: a vertical, parallel twin that
could easily be mistaken for a Triumph Bonneville at first glance.
The production quality on the W was marvellous. I liked the way it felt under
me, the smiles it bought to onlookers who couldn't resist giving it a second
glance. But I didn't plan on buying a new bike quite yet - I had purchased a
1999 Kawasaki Drifter in the fall and expected to ride it for at least another
year before considering a trade.
Things change. I ended up selling my Drifter to a local rider who convinced
me it was the bike of his dreams. Since there were no W650s available from
Kawasaki at the time, I ended up with a Honda VFR800 Interceptor, a fast, sleek
and powerful machine that was the essence of modern technology and design.
Somehow I never warmed to it. It performed beautifully on the highway, but it
wasn't the best bike for around-town riding, where low speeds and low revs are
the norm. I never bonded with it as I had my other bikes.
One day, I simply decided to trade it in. I took the VFR to a nearby dealer
who had a W languishing on the shop floor. We made a straight swap - somewhat of
a financial loss for me, but the return on investment in sheer pleasure
has been worth it.
Having the W has given me the opportunity to reconsider what I like about
motorcycling, why I like this style and to defend my choices online. In the following pages, you'll be able to read about the W, its history, the
current retro fad, my review of the bike, readers' comments, plus find links to
other related sites. I hope you enjoy the visit and will add your comments to
the feedback page.