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My Suzuki GSX1400 K2 - four months after purchase

Here's some pictures I took during the first 24 hours I owned the motorcycle. Here's my first thoughts of the brand new bike and why I choose to buy it. Here's a page about the initial (1 000km / 600 miles) inspection.

On this page I tell you about my first ride this year, four months after purchase.

My dirty bike on January 13th 2002 in Strängnäs Sweden, first trip after ”winter storage” outside my apartment. The gray thing behind the bike is ice, if you didn't notice. Photo: Jarmo Haapamäki

Waiting for the roads to melt

If I was living in California USA or Southern Spain I could ride every day with my bike, regardless the season. But I'm living in Sweden where the climate is much colder at winter and the mileage has been quite low. I bought my bike quite late in the autumn and the longer trip I have made with my GSX1400 is still riding the bike home from the shop in Jönköping where I bought it - about 240 kilometers. Therefor I can't tell you what it's like to tour across continents with it. Hopefully I can make a trip across Europe with my beloved bike next summer.

Last weekend I decided it was time to take a first ride this year with my Suzi. After December 15th it has been nearly impossible to use it without changing the byres first, there was snow and ice everywhere. (See the picture of my bike under a snow cover on the problems page.) It would have been too cold to ride anyway. But most of the the snow melted and vanished a couple of days ago - it was time to go biking again!

There was still some ice spots on the roads on Saturday 12th, I decided to wait another day before I hit the road. But I wanted to test if everything was still OK with my bike. The winter had surprised me and the poor thing had been outside nearly a month, several inches snow above it. But there was no harm done, it started right away without hesitating a second. I let the engine idle until the exhaust pipes were warm and there was no more steam coming out of them.

There's another brave biker in Sweden

On Sunday, January 13th, I decided it was safe to use the roads again. Quite early in the morning I phoned my brother Yrjö, a Gold Wing owner from Hallstavik, and asked if he was planning to go out biking on such a beautiful day. Yes, he was planning to take out his bike as well! He lives 200 km from Hälleforsnäs and we decided that we'll meet halfway, at McDonald's in Enköping.

My other brother Risto though we were crazy. There was still snow on the side of the roads and the temperature was only a couple of degrees above water's freezing point. Actually, the driveway at Yrjö's house in Hallstavik was still covered with ice and he had a hard time getting his Gold Wind to the clear roads. ”My neighbors came out and asked if I was OK and tried to convince me to stay home instead of risking my life,” he told me. ”I had serious problems at first, there was still a couple of inches of snow on my home street and the rear tire was slipping all the way. But after that there was no problems,” he continued.

I wouldn't even have started my bike if I hadn't had a totally ice-free road at sight. But that's my brother. When I was a kid he rode his T500 at winter, regardless it was -20°C cold and the roads were all covered with thick ice. He did crash his bike once, but it happened at summer (he could mend the bike himself and the bike is still running in Finland somewhere, I think).

My neighbor was washing his car on that Sunday morning so I decided to wash my bike, too. After all, it had been standing outside for a month and the seat and everything was a bit dirty. With a clean bike I took of on early afternoon. I was happy. It was a great fun to be able to ride a bike again. I had extra clothes and a Gore-tex jacket on so I was quite warm and it felt almost like summer. Hooray, here we go again!

The good thing about riding a bike at winter is that there's no flies and other unidentified kamikaze flyers that get in the way like at summer. There's no need to scrape them off the visor or the head lamp. But there's another problem - salt on the roads. In Sweden they use salt to get rid of the snow and ice on the main roads when the weather is somewhere around 0°C. When it's warmer than -5°C the salt melts the ice to water. But the salt is still there and soon enough I noticed that I couldn't see a thing unless I wiped the visor of my helmet clean all the time. There had not been many days the conditions had been perfect in every way after the day I bought my GSX1400 - perhaps none. But it's still fun.

Low visibility but no bugs

I took it quite easy with the throttle. I was feeling how the bike reacted on the damp surface. The tires were cold and probably a bit harder than the last time I was on the road. The bike handled well but I have always thought it warns very early when the road is not totally dry and the grip 100 per cent. When the surface is dry and clean the tires seem to have all the grip in the world but when it rains or the road is damp I get a feeling the bike is telling me to take it easy - much easier than I usually do. I don't really know if that's mostly me or the bike - I have slowed down a lot every time I have got the feeling. I'm not aching to find out exactly how fast I can ride at the corners at damp or wet surface. I'd guess it would painful in several ways to find out what happens if the bike looses the grip. Probably not that much?

I filled the tank before I left town. For the first time chose unleaded 98 instead of the 95 I normally use. I don't know if it was the fuel (probably not) or if the engine has loosened up a bit after traveling a bit over 2000 kilometers, but I got a feeling it ran smoother than it has done before. I have always loved the engine for it's enormous torque but when releasing the throttle completely it felt almost like I was hitting the rear brake. It seems like it occurred only when the engine was brand new.

I also think that the pipes are a bit louder now, compared to the first time I used my bike. The bike sounds quite masculine now, not like a wimpy Singer anymore.

I guessed I wanted to try how fast the bike would go with the more expensive fuel but I was nowhere near the top speed. I hadn't been riding for a while and I had to wipe the visor clean every now and then to be able to see the road. 160 km/h seemed like a hellowa speed now, and the bike was good for at least 230 km/h. Actually, 120 km/h felt like a suitable march speed for me and my bike that day.

After riding only 60 kilometers, in Strängnäs, I steered of the highway to a gas station to clean the visor the water and smoke a cigarette. I noticed that washing the bike a couple of hours earlier was a waste of time. As you can see of the photo at the top of the page, my beautiful bike looked like it was a dirt bike after a rally in the woods. OK, it can be cleaned up again.

Passing ice-covered rivers

Twenty kilometers after Strängnäs or so I noticed that I felt a bit tired at my fingers. I have never noticed any vibrations what so ever on the bike that caused such problems. I realized I had been squeezing the steer quite hard - I was a bit nervous. Although there was no ice on the roads, I had been ready for any kind of slippery road conditions. ”Take it easy”, I said to myself. ”There's nothing be be nervous about.” And the first time I realized I hadn't met any other motorcycle rider on my way. Perhaps there was only me and my brother who were crazy enough to get on the roads when the conditions were actually quite poor. The river and lakes I passed were covered with ice and there was snow in the woods. But I felt fine. If I only didn't have to worry about seeing the road in front of me.

The last couple of kilometers in Enköping before the meeting point at McDonald's were riding at a highway. The road was covered with water from melting snow and instead of salt on the visor I had to wipe of water from the visor all the time. I was happy to turn off the highway to the hamburger restaurant.

Outside the McDonald's there is a tiny parking space for motorcycles only. But the restaurant owner hadn't apparently thought that there would be any customers arriving with their bikes in January and the parking space was covered with over half meter of snow. I noticed it to the staff inside. They didn't know to say - the girl behind the counter just stared e like I was a loony.

My GSX outside McDonald's in Enköping Sweden and my brother's Honda Gold Wing. His bike was much cleaner than mine, I'd guess there was less salt and more water on the roads north of Enköping. I came from south. You can see how there's still lots of snow on the side of the parking lot. Photo: Jarmo Haapamäki

My brother and I had no plans whatsoever. After eating a hamburger and visiting an outlet supermarket nearby (I bought a pair of socks) we didn't know what else to do. My brother had to get some gas (the meter on my bike showed full tank after riding 100 km's) and after that we decided to ride home again.

The sun goes up late in the morning and goes down early in the afternoon in Sweden at winter. It was already dark when I steered my Suzi homewards. It wasn't as fun as riding at daylight.

My reaction in the evening I rode my bike for the very first time was how the head light's so powerful. But when the road's damp and covered with a mixture of salt and dirt - with the same shit on the visor and the head light - there's not much you see when you meet another vehicle in the dark. I also use glasses and that doesn't make it better. Every time I met a car I almost stopped the bike when I wasn't able to see the road in front of me. No fun. But I got home all right and was quite happy making the short trip anyway. At least I got rid of the sense that the grip was poor when the road's damp. There was no sign what so ever that the tires couldn't cope with it. The engine didn't mind the weather either.

After washing the dirt and salt from the boots and legs (happily the dirt don't seem to rise above the knees) I took off my riding gear and enjoyed the warmth on a Finnish sauna and the taste of cold Finnish beer. Life is good, sometimes.

Summary: I have a great bike

I have thought of it many times but I can't think of that many things I'm not pleased with my GSX1400. As I told you earlier, I haven't rode very long trips with it but 200 km trips at any speed are relaxing and I never get tired riding with it. Sometimes when the devil in me takes over and I pass cars on heavy traffic narrow roads I can get a bit sore muscles from the G-forces. It's so fun to accelerate from 100 to 230 km/h and do it again and again and... The power is good, the handling very well (at least when the road's dry, otherwise it gives you an early warning - as I have already told you. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.) Other purchasing the little wind screen I haven't regretted that I bought a naked bike. What I still want is hard bags to carry more luggage and perhaps I do something with the exhaust pipes to get more power and noise, but actually I'm quite happy with it for now. A sudden release of the the throttle don't surprise me anymore and I'm still happy with the brakes and everything else with the bike. If I had to say something negative, it would be that the bike is is my opinion a bit too civilized to make every trip an adventure. Steering my old GSX750 was a adrenaline kick at every speeds — riding a GSX1400 at 200 km/h doesn't give the the same feeling as my 750 gave at 140 km/h. Still, today the old 750 doesn't give me no thrills at all. It's in basement waiting for someone to fix it.

I rode my GSX1400 again this afternoon. I purchased a new mobile phone and to test the signal of the operator I rode all the way between Flen and Hälleforsnäs (about 15 km's) with a mobile phone in the other hand and steering with the other. No problems. And the signal was quite good, too, all the way. I'd guess I'm used to the damp roads now.

Jarmo Haapamäki
January 14, 2002
A proud owner of a Suzuki GSX1400 K2, month four

More: Pictures of my GSX1400, May 2002

More: Suzuki GSX1400

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