Considering a motorcycle

I’m poking around craigslist for a bicycle to ride in SF and take to the playa. After being out here 2 weeks and seeing the traffic and parking situation, I’m considering buying a motorcycle. The city heartily encourages motorcycles. In areas with parking meters, you can always find a spot designated for bikes. Where a car pays $0.25 for 10 minutes with a 1 hr limit, the bike meters are $0.10 an hour with a 10 hour limit. In areas with no meters, you can always find motorcycles parked on the sidewalk or tucked into tiny parking spaces… sans parking tickets. In addition, most of the major local streets have a bike lane. Of course those are supposed to be for human powered bicycles but they lend greatly toward getting a motorbike to the front of a lineup of cars at a red light.

So I’m definitely getting a bicycle… I need it for the playa. I wouldn’t dream of using an internal combustion engine in it’s stead on the playa.

Now there’s the question of a motorbike. I did a little browsing on craigslist for prices and such. I don’t know much (read: nuffum) about motorbikes. I found a couple used bikes and googled about them. Here was a 1994 Ninja for $1,800. Hey, I’ve heard of the Ninja. Google .

Oh . . . my . . . . god.

You expect certain things from the Ninja. Power. Quickness. Agility. Focus. Bravado. Attitude. Heavy on the attitude. Still, unless you catapult-launch F-18 Hornets or 6500-horsepower Top Fuel dragsters for a living, this Ninja is a revelation. Prepare yourself for the strongest literbike in the world. Understand that it’s lighter than most 600s. And while that’s sinking in, make a mental note to pack an extra Depends.

One hundred mph arrives before the 13,000-rpm redline in first gear. Shift into second at triple digits and a practiced throttle hand can lift the front Dunlop for obscene distances. The 10R covers a quarter-mile in less time than it takes to read this sentence, and it punishes incompetence, impudence and stupidity even more quickly. Too much throttle, almost anywhere, and it’ll stick you in the ground like a golf tee.

This Ninja doth not suffer fools. It eats them. Whole. Any sportbike commands respect and first-rate skills. Kawasaki’s all-new ZX-10R demands more of both than any motorcycle currently for sale, along with simply heroic willpower. Nothing in any showroom punts you forward with such pure, concentrated, brute force. Its predatory silhouette alone makes small children, domestic pets and impressionable girls hyperventilate. If it lived next door, the ZX-10R would bet heavily on the Oakland Raiders. It would own an overwrought Rottweiler named Cujo and play all 11 Metallica albums every weekend with the dial cranked up to 11. Your mother wouldn’t approve. Your black-sheep uncle doing time for armed robbery would advise against it. Twenty years after the first 900, Kawasaki’s latest literbike is entirely stunning and unmistakably a Ninja.


And this blows what’s left of my mind…

And here’s the kicker. Add that 433-pound wet weight to the 170-pound rider we use for spec-chart calculations, divide by 161.9 horsepower, and you have a weight/power ratio of 3.72 pounds per. It just doesn’t get any better than that, sports fans.

My model airplane brain goes off on this, thinking (this line of thinking isn’t technically accurate but phoey on you, it’s my blog!)…

1 hp=750 watts… so each pound get’s it’s own 200 watts to drag it along. My 1.5 lb model plane peaks at about 180 watts.. or about 120 watts per pound. So this bike offers almost twice the power per pound as my looping, rolling, 0-90mph in 5 seconds, nearly vertical performance model aircraft! If you put a propeller on this bike, it would perform dramatically more powerf^H^H^H^H^H^H dramati^H^H^H^H^H^H^H intens^H^H^H^H^H^H betterer than my plane.


  1. Two words:




    Also, it won’t kill you just for fun, the way a Ninja will.

  2. Rho says:

    No. Please not a Ninja.

    You will have ruined any mental image that I have of you.

  3. WTL says:

    I agree with Rho. ;-)

    I very nearly killed myself on a Ninja back in the day. Do you need it for long distance driving, or just in the city?

    I’d recommend a scooter, or a SMART car.. But they are more expensive than a motocycle, and I’m not even sure if you can get one in the US.

    In Ottawa, I usually see three or so each time I’m out now. (second to last car in the gallery)

  4. Lee says:

    >it won’t kill you just for fun, the way a Ninja will.
    That kinda takes the thrill out of it, no?

    Just to be clear, I’m not really considering a Ninja. But that review really caught my attention!

    I’ll be buying a used bicycle today for the playa and around town. After I use it for a while, I’ll see if a motorcycle is warranted.

    I might end up with anything between a motorized bicycle and a street cruiser…. or nothing at all.

    Like my Sebring convertable, what I get has to be reasonably useful. The car has 4 comfy seats (most convertables have tiny back seats), trunk space, and turns into a stylish pickup truck at the flip of a switch. I loaded and brought my new used Ikea Jerker desk home from a guy in Palo Alto with no trouble at all.

    A 30 mpg $8,000 crotch rocket isn’t my style…

  5. Jeff says:

    The bike that you saw in craigslist was not the same as the one referred to in that particular writeup. Just to clarify gents, the BIKE doesn’t kill you. YOU kill you. I own a 2005 zx-10r Ninja and have 20 odd years under my belt for riding experience and have 2 children. You wanna feel alive? Try one out. Nothin like it. Cheers

  6. Lee says:

    Yeah, it’s pretty obvious that the ad for the USED bike wasn’t referring to the article about the NEW bike. But you should still get the idea, yes? Ninja… Ninja…

    I’ve ridden on the back of a bike just a couple times and wowie, it’s exciting!

  7. Jeff says:

    I can promise you Lee, that words cannot possibly describe the feeling I get from ridiing this bike, and I do so rather responsibly I might add. If you haven’t yet seen “The Worlds Fastest Indian”, please do so. I explains a lot of the fascination that riders have from a man/machine standpoint. I am planning a trip to Bonneville myself in September with the hopes of reaching 200 MPH on mine (no real good reason as to why, just want to do it). What’s more is that it get’s about 40 miles per gallon or better. Riding ANYTHING for a motorcyle is a very peaceful experience, even on a bike that has 160 odd horsepower like my zx-10 does. I ride bicycles as well and love being out on two wheels. Lastly, for the record I will say the author of the article that you used was spot on in his discription. I can tell you from first hand experience that that bike exactly as described and is to not be mistreated and is not for the faint of heart. I love it! Lee, a great bike, if you are taken with the “Ninja” monniker, is the Ninja 250. A great commuter, learner, etc, etc, and will still put a grin on your face. If the curriosity strikes you, check it out. Best wishes.


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