Motorcycle Performance Anxiety | Cranked

By Joe Gresh, Photography by Colleen Tagle

I receive a lot of offers to improve my sexual performance. Most of them from people I’ve never had sex with. Multitudes of cyber-Samaritans feel the need to turn me into a cuddly version of legendary porn star "Big John' Holmes. I’m all for continuing education, and maybe I have lost a step or two, but I’m 52. Now is not the time to be adding 3-6 inches. Besides, where would the extra material come from? My skin is not as elastic as it used to be.

My motorcycle riding ability has become less than rousing also. I used to be pretty good. I could pop a wheelie for miles 30 years ago. I was fast, too: streetbike-fast. I never got an elbow down but I could get the old bias-ply tires drifting nicely in the corners.

I trace the beginning of the decline to 1990, when I pulled a geographic and moved from San Diego to the Florida Keys. The Atlantic Ocean laps peacefully at my back door now. There’s only one stoplight in town. I don’t miss the rat race of Southern California, but the roads here in paradise are all perfectly straight.

In the Keys there’s not a huge selection when it comes to used motorcycles, so when a clean 1999 Kawasaki ZRX1100 with 2300 miles popped up, I gave the man $3500 and it was mine. The big-boned 1100’s perform-ance envelope has plenty of space for my empty bag of tricks. Under acceleration I find myself skootching back-and-forth on the seat, trying to urge the last dollop of speed out of the lime-green Kawasaki. With a paltry 96 horsepower pushing a quarter-ton of Eddie Lawson Replicalia, it’s all I can do to get in trouble.

The thing gets astronomical fuel mileage, easily returning 50-plus mpg riding at the Keys’ average 55-65 mph. The bike runs super-lean at small throttle openings. I could probably fix it by yanking the block-off plugs and re-adjusting the idle-mixture screws. Sadly, only my fingers have become incredibly long and hard from regular applications of enhancement cream, to the point that I can no longer manipulate standard-sized hand tools. It’s kind of an embarrassing situation with my gigantic digits garnering unwanted admiration out in public. I find I’m really only comfortable in football stadiums anymore. Thus the low-speed stumble continues.

Handling-wise, the Z-Rex is the best big bike I’ve owned. (Temper that statement with the fact that a Yamaha V-Max was the last big bike I owned.) The steering is light, the chassis rock-steady in both of the curves I rode the bike around. High-speed wobbles are nowhere to be found and the wide, 17-inch radials grip the road like kitten-on-fleece. The front brakes are so powerful, I can skid the tire using just one grotesquely large finger. Add a centerstand and the ZRX would be perfect.

Compared to the latest bikes the corpulent Kawasaki may have lost a step or two, but I’m 52. Now is not the time to be adding 30-60 horsepower. My skin does not heal as quickly as it used to. However, unlike my sexual performance, when it comes to bikes, I’m still open to suggestions.

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I keep my bikes until they are worn out or submerged in seawater.  

The Rex fits perfectly, runs hard enough, and looks so pretty.  You won't be getting mine but there's lots for sale.
I had one of those bikes from 99 till 2010 and can honestly say I absolutely loved it...I did find it was under powered and made a HUGE mistake by replacing it with a B-King. Should have punched it out, re-carb'd/cammed and saved many thousands. I gave the Suzuki away and may need to find another ZRX...maybe you could "hop" yours up and ride it to CA and if you don't like it I will give you your $3500 back....enjoy and be safe.
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