How a Reliable Bike Revived My Love of Riding

Buying a new motorcycle saved my life.

Buying a new motorcycle saved my life.
A trusty new steed in the stable makes two-wheeled adventures less stressful.©Motorcyclist

Buying a new motorcycle saved my life. You might not hear those words often, so let me elaborate. I've been the proud, yet frustrated, owner of a first-gen, highly customized Ducati Monster 900 for the past 11 years. Proud because it's a lovely little Italian icon, mostly spec'd out to my size, weight, and riding style. Frustrated because, well, as many of you know, once you start down the path of customization, it's like opening Pandora's box. Like falling down the rabbit hole, each adjustment here and there keeps pulling you in deeper and deeper. Until you can't see the light from whence you came.

My beloved Monster (nicknamed Ducky) came with every carbon-fiber piece the previous owner could find in the factory catalog, along with many other mods ranging from exhaust system to custom bodywork. Unfortunately with all these tweaks and mods, a bike already known to have an appetite for maintenance was all the more eager for it. It got to the point where it seemed every ride brought out a new (or sometimes recurring) problem, occasionally stranding me on the side of the road. Over the course of a few years, the frequency of my rides went from weekly to a handful of times a year, and eventually I wasn’t riding at all. As much as I loved my Ducky, its constant need for attention deterred me from riding.

In a moment of weakness, after some prodding from riding friends, I found myself at the local dealership with the intention of test riding a new motorcycle. Just a test ride! I was considering a new bike in part so I could finance it more easily through the dealership but also for its reliability. Just a test ride, huh? A few hours later, I was walking out with keys and paperwork to a 2014 Blazing Orange Yamaha FZ-09. Little did I realize how much my life would change.

The Yamaha gave me back my freedom, my sense of adventure, and rekindled my love of two wheels. Almost immediately after buying that FZ, I met a couple of other women on FZ-09s, both now riding buddies of mine. Recently, I rolled up next to an almost identical orange FZ-09, nodding my head upward at the dude aboard it. After he did a double take, we had a moment of excitement and potential friendship before the light turned green, and we went our separate ways. That feeling of kinship with my fellow riders had returned. Not to mention I could hit the twisties again, fueling my soul with gliding turns through the mountains, filling my helmet with laughter and solo a cappella performances.

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I say that buying a new motorcycle saved my life because, while I was nowhere near dying, I was only living to a limited capacity. I wasn’t enjoying life as much as I could, until I had that reliable bike in the garage or, rather, out on the road. Suddenly I had the freedom to ride wherever I wanted, as far as I wanted, without the worry of, “What would break next?” I could just go. Alone, if I wanted. The freedom that has allowed me is like nothing else. My joy of riding was no longer dependent on an ongoing to-do list of projects to finish. My motorcycle no longer felt like a ball and chain but a liberating pair of wings.

For the record, I did not give up on Ducky. I’m still troubleshooting and tweaking my project bike, but now I can continue riding while taking the project at a manageable pace. Ducky’s restoration is a tale best saved for another story, when it’s finally done, but has encouraged me to just keep my future bike purchases stock. Never mind the new exhaust on the FZ, though. I swear it’ll just be that one mod…