The Vallee Report - The Realities of Bike Buying

The Vallee Report - The Realities of Bike Buying

Written by  Todd Vallee on Monday, 17 May 2021 16:24

I am cheap. There I said it. It almost feels good. I can almost picture a dozen people sitting in a circle saying “we love you Todd” as they shake cobwebs out of their wallets. I might not be as cheap as my brother-in-law, who I can only imagine spent all of puberty debating the purchase of an Atari 2600 before ultimately deciding video games were just a fad, but I am cheap. Maybe cheap isn’t the right word. Maybe it is more that I don’t spend money well and don’t really like spending money I don’t have. For years now I have wanted to get another bike but every time I thought there was one on the horizon something else came up. You know stuff like a new washing machine, or a family trip to Cuba or maybe you (she) decided it was time to knock down a few walls in the house. Regardless the reason, my bike purchase always got put on hold, but when COVID put a standstill to almost everything fun in the world I figured it was time to pull the trigger. And then the adventure began.

As I mentioned, I don’t spend money well so in my mind I was going to find me a not so bad fixer upper in the $2,000 to $3,000 range. What followed next was two weeks of frustration as I searched for my unicorn. Although I didn’t have a bike in mind, there were lots out there that appealed to me so I thought the process would be easy. Boy was I wrong! Despite my expected low dollar output I wasn’t about to drive to see a bike without asking a few questions first. Apparently that is not what bike sellers are hoping for.

There was Justin in Oshawa who had an SV650 that seemed to look good in the photos. When I asked Justin about regular maintenance on the machine he said he did most of that himself including putting on some neon grips just the other day that were ‘sick’ and I would love them. Super cool Justin, but I was thinking more about oil changes and stuff like that. Justin replied that his cousin Josh usually did that stuff for him but he hadn’t seen Josh in a few years. He did proudly tell me however that a couple of years ago he did blast the air filter thingy with a pressure washer once. No thanks Justin. Then there was Greg in Collingwood that had a pretty sweet VTR1000. Conversation with Greg seemed to flow pretty well until I asked Greg about the cam tensioner. Cricket, cricket. Greg stopped talking to me at that point. What do you kids say these days? I was ghosted? Greg, you there Greg? Hello?

Maybe the topper was when I talked to Steve in Bancroft. Steve had an older Yamaha Radian but he assured me the bike was mint. All it needed was a battery he said. Everything else was perfect. The bike looked nice in the photos although they seemed to be taken from far away. I told Steve I was indeed very interested and I would love to come and check it out. I also told him I was going to bring a few tools and a good battery with me. I won’t use Steve’s language but to paraphrase it involved me fornicating with myself and trying my best to fit that battery where apparently the sun doesn’t shine. Sigh.

Sensing my frustration my lovely wife said the five words no guy figures he will ever hear. “Just get a new one.” Although I was shocked, I modified my search and decided the SV650 had pretty good reviews so I started looking for a new one but in the previous year’s model so I could save a few bucks (please see first paragraph).

You would think that buying a new bike would be much easier but it wasn’t. Sigh. As most of my searching was happening at night, my first contact with dealers regarding a bike was through email. I sent a dozen emails to dealers advertising the bike I wanted using the ‘contact us’ on their website. The results of these dozen emails baffled me to say the least. Despite emailing last June there are still three dealers that have not got back to me. Three of the dealers did get back to me and say that they did not actually have that bike in stock; they were in fact just showing the Suzuki lineup. Of course remember that I was looking for a model that was a year old so that response didn’t make any sense at all. And sadly two other dealers responded to me that they had just sold the bike I was inquiring about (of course) but would love the chance to sell me something ‘better.’

Thankfully I did hear back from four of the dealers and compared prices as well as the gut feeling I got when communicating with them. Ultimately my gut led me to one, Powersports T.O. in Toronto. Doug Goss gave me a sweet price, went out of his way to answer my emails (even on Sunday), and he even had my bike ready one day earlier than originally promised. Thanks Doug. Much appreciated.

So after getting my bike, I have of course done a few mods to make it a little sportier. First thing I changed was the pipe to get a little more growl and then while I was away for a few days my brother-in-law (yes the cheap one) installed a fender elimination kit for me. Thanks Paul. Next up was bar end mirrors and at the start of this season I installed the K&N filter that I got for Christmas. While nowhere near a racing machine, the bike is super fun and certainly makes the trip to work much more enjoyable.

When I first got the bike, my wife said there was pretty well zero chance she was getting on the back with me. When your nickname is Tumblin’ Todd, that is certainly understandable. Within a week of getting the bike however we were out shopping for new helmets and jackets to replace the worn out racing ones we were wearing. Although she constantly makes fun of me for being a fair-weather rider, she wants to be on the bike as much as I do. We now spend the end of our work days ‘chasing the sunset’ and it is amazing how satisfying and enjoyable that can be. Maybe at some point I will try to get her on one of her own, but for now she is my Suzuki sidekick.

Gotta go. Sun sets in 20.

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Last modified on Monday, 17 May 2021 16:30
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