An Ode to 3rd Gear and saying Goodbye to a Friend

I’ve been a motorcycle rider since 2005. I’ve owned three Yamaha FJRs (my first bike was a 2005 Yamaha Royal Star Tour Deluxe). My latest is a 2014 FJR1300 ES with 75,000 km (46,600 miles) on it. His name is Temeraire. And if I took my last ride on it this past Thursday, I’ll be sad but happy I got to ride such an amazing motorcycle.

Like all of us, life catches up to you and makes changes you may or may not be ready for or see coming.

Our “casual riding” season is coming to the end here on The Sunshine Coast. In past years, I have insured my bike and ridden it year-round, mostly because I don’t have a car and needed the transportation. But now that I’m (very happily!) married, we use my wife’s car 95% of the time. Sadly, I’ve become a casual rider. The insurance is up on the bike on September 10th and there’s really no reason to insure it for riding over the winter. And, because of “life changes” that will likely be happening next spring, I’ll probably sell the bike before the riding season starts again.

So, knowing this, I went for one “last” ride on Thursday. If in fact it was my last on this bike, I couldn’t have asked for a better last trip on this amazing motorcycle.

We live on the lovely Sunshine Coast of British Columbia in a little town called Gibsons. It’s spectacularly beautiful but, because of the location, weirdly isolated. We’re not officially on an island but the only way off the Coast is by a ferry to Vancouver or Nanaimo. So, unless you want to take a boat ride, you’re stuck riding between Gibsons and Earls Cove:

And frankly, from Gibsons to about Secret Cove (is it really a “secret” if there are signs pointing to it?), it’s boring.

But, after Secret Cove to Earls Cove, it can be damn fun when there’s no traffic. So that’s where I went for my last trip of 2018. And it was glorious.

I stopped next to Trout Lake to watch a fly fisherman for a bit and then decided to take off and see what I could do on the FJR if I pushed myself harder than usual. I figured I’d head to Earls Cove to do a recon of the road to makes sure there were no issues along the way. I timed it well as I just missed the ferry traffic out of Earls Cove.

After a bit of a break, I headed home. I decided I was going to do the entire 80 km (50 mile), one hour trip in my favourite gear – third.

I don’t have enough experience with enough motorcycles to know if this is true of all of them but for me and the FJR, third gear is the most fun. The FJR can easily be ridden in third down to 30 kmh (19mph) all the way up to XXX kmh (XXX mph) and redlines at nine thousand RPM. I definitely bounced off the rev limiter a few times on this short trip.

The FJR is amazing. It’s a much better motorcycle than I am a rider. I love riding but I would not be considered by any measure particularly “aggressive”. I’ve only scraped my pegs once or twice and, even then, it was on curves that cambered up to meet me. I don’t hang off or get my knee anywhere near the ground. But I definitely have fun. And the FJR makes that fun possible.

I can get as aggressive as I’m comfortable with knowing full well the bike won’t do anything to upset me or scare me. Even when I went into one turn a little too hot, the bike was like, “Dude. Chill. I got this.” A little extra pressure on the handlebars and Temeraire easily swung into the turn and saved my bacon.

One of a motorcycle rider’s favourite games is, “What other bike would I buy?” For me, there’s never been any question. For the kind of rider I am and the kind of riding I do, even if I had all the money in the world, I’d still ride an FJR. It’s the perfect bike for me.

I don’t know what life holds for me in the coming year. Most likely, I’ll be moving to Australia in the spring, if not sooner. So there’d be no point in re-insuring the FJR. If it means that Thursday was my last ride on Temeraire, I’ll be grateful for the 75,000 kms he provided, the smiles, the comraderie, and the community of fellow FJR riders.

And I’ll definitely buy another one in Australia!

Goodbye my friend and thank you.

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