Whether raising the roof or making it rain, Joe Gresh's oversized digits point to his Kawa
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.