My shop is in an over-sized two-car garage attached to my home. My work is a calling, in the theological sense of the word. Ethical and moral questions arise every day – they are hard, sharp, unambiguous and unavoidable.

A note to a young man in search of his first motorcycle.

Posted: November 20th, 2011 | Author: Administrator | Filed under: Editorial, Random Things of Interest | No Comments »


You could have hit the jackpot on the first toss. And it’s a tasteful black and not some of the hey-look-at-me colors they have come in. I did a quick check and NADA avg. retail for an ‘06 Ninjette is – coincidence? – $2,100 – exactly what the seller is asking. The low 4k mi. and it’s alleged excellent mechanical and cosmetic condition make it an above-average bike. But note well that the seller solicits cash offers – always a good sign. And the NADA guides do not take into account the seasonal price cycle – highest on the first warm day of spring and lowest from now through Jan. or so. This seasonal effect is around 20-30%. This is very good for you.

I’d guess from my many years of reading ads that you could load this bike up and take it home for $1.8k – $1.9 for sure. Yes, he could get his $2.1k come spring – but not now. And any motorcycle’s sell-it-this-week-because-I-need-the-money value drops with every passing day for the next 2-3 months. Which means a first offer of $1.5k assuming my inspection confirms its alleged excellent condition. And it also means that if you are not in immediate need of wheels, you may well be able to do better after Thanksgiving when folks are scraping around for Christmas money.

A lot of this can change in the process of on-the-spot negotiations. I buy and sell bikes quite often and am both a student and fan of the process – it’s fun. It’s psycho-theater made up on the spot. Which is to say that a lot of my prior estimates of value and the outcome go out the window. The first thing to find out is whether the seller’s

relationship with the bike was positive or negative – or, rather, if it currently represents a positive or negative in his/her life. Negative and you go for the lowball. On the other hand, I’ve gone to see bikes that were so obviously right – so good in every way – and the seller knew that because he/she made/kept them that way – that to offer less would have been a boorish insult.

But back to the Ninjette. Get one of these jewels, learn to ride the wheels off it, and you will absolutely kill most every big-swinging-dick with a GSXR1000 or suchlike mega-bike when the road gets twisty. You’ve heard of Deal’s Gap aka the Dragon’s Tail? The unofficial record is held by an old guy on a hot-rod Ninja 250. Give the megas a straight bit and they’re by and gone, of course – 180 hp. vs. 30hp. – but it doesn’t take much skill to point it straight and screw it on. My opinion. They’ll stop calling it your “Barbie bike” after you one or two crash their bikes trying to keep you in sight in the mountains.

On a tactical note, you have both my permission and encouragement to forward this missive to your folks. Take my word for it, they will find it reassuring. Well, maybe not the part about going fast – but I did preface that stuff with something about really learning to ride your bike – which means reading/learning/practicing advanced riding skills every time you ride – I still do. When I’m out for a ride – not just running errands – every corner I have a plan – entry speed/turn-in point/line through the corner/exit-and-or transition to the next corner. As I execute that corner I am comparing how reality compares with my intentions. And on exit I am thinking about what I can do better next time. And these are corners I ride almost every day during the season. I still am learning them. Same corners, same bike – for five years and I’m still learning them both.

Please note that to be able to both ride my bike and think about riding my bike means I am not going as fast as I possibly can – not really close – because then I would not be able to think about what I was doing. I’d be re-acting – not acting. Hence my maxim; To go faster, you must slow down.” And it really works. Once I got that simple truth, I was soon sailing serenely through corners at speeds faster than I’d gone with white knuckles and very big eyes. With plenty of mind/control in hand to deal with whatever reasonably might occur.

So, riding a motorcycle well is a mindful practice – and this is true at any level of experience. But wait! What am I telling you this shit for? You are a mtn. bike racer and I’ve been trying to teach my granny to suck eggs – an expression that I never understood but I know what it means. On the other hand, perhaps your parents will be reassured by my advocacy of mindful practice and serene/sustainable speed.



Existential Motorcycles
Alexander, NC 28701

TEL: 828-683-9289

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