The Twenty-Buck Bike

Feb 26, 2013 View Comments by

Kawasaki-Ninja 300Ever notice how twenties can fly out of your wallet like confetti if you’ve got several of them, but how long one can last if it’s all you have? I’ve occasionally made it through a week on twenty bucks for lunches and afternoon coffee, and while it wasn’t quite business as usual, it wasn’t bad. I dare say it might have even been somewhat liberating, paring things down to the bare essentials and realizing that it can be done. Typical sacrifices include free coffee at the bank or a cup of Columbian at the BP station instead of the usual latte with syrup, and two items from the dollar menu and water for lunch instead of a meal deal.

I’ve recently been giving a lot of thought to a certain new motorcycle on the market, and the motorcycle/twenty dollar bill analogy came to me this morning as I lay in bed, somewhere between the dream I didn’t remember and full consciousness. I hope it makes sense to you, because it did to me at the time. The particular motorcycle that I’m talking about is the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300. A 300cc bike is about the last thing I thought I’d be interested in at this stage of the game, with over 35 years of on-road riding experience, but I think my thought process has at least some merit.

Here’s my reasoning: sometimes things can actually be better when pared down to the bare essentials. With the right frame of mind, a free cup of coffee can be just as satisfying as the four-buck a cup concoction from the coffee house. Similarly, a good riding experience isn’t just about being on an expensive or powerful bike. It’s a mix of great roads, being on a bike that “feels” right and responds well to your commands, and it’s the satisfaction of mastering the blend of simultaneous commands that make a bike flow effortlessly along a twisting ribbon of asphalt.

In that regard, I propose that taking a large measure of horsepower out of the mix may actually increase a rider’s satisfaction by forcing him or her to focus on other aspects of the ride. Maintaining momentum through rider skill is ultimately more rewarding than grabbing a handful of throttle and accelerating hard out of a poorly executed turn. With a top speed hitting triple-digit territory, the little Ninja can definitely acquire all the momentum needed in nearly any remotely legal riding situation. It will just take a bit longer to get there.

There you have it; essentially a “sometimes less is more” approach to motorcycling that has been on my mind since I swung a leg over the bantamweight Ninja at an expo recently. My curiosity has definitely been piqued, and when it is, I generally don’t rest until I’ve investigated things thoroughly. I’ll keep you updated on my findings when I get my hands on the Ninja or something similar. Bring it on, little guy!

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