Traffic seemed especially slow this particular afternoon about a month ago as I was driving home from work. In retrospect, I doubt that anything was different than the norm with regards to traffic flow, but my excitement made the world seem to spin in slow motion. Once home I jumped into my truck and was headed off to Reno. The night before I have removed my camper shell in anticipation to carry a large new purchase. If everything went right I would be hauling back home a new to me motorcycle. Though I have had several motorcycles in the past, never was I considered a full time rider. My motorcycles were always either half broken or borrowed.
I had been searching for a dual sport motorcycle to purchase for some time. A dual sport is essentially a street legal dirt bike. Aside from the obvious features that would make a motorcycle street legal: headlights, brake lights, turn signals, speedometer, etc; they usually have tuned down suspension and often, more stringent emission controls. Living in the People Republic of California, I had to either find a CARB (California air regulator board) approved bike, or a used bike (7500 miles). This limited my choices, including most of the cheap Chinese bikes that have been hitting the market. Size was another consideration. At my current elevation I lose about 20% power from the engine. A fine line is walked between power output and off road handling ability.
For several weeks prior to this evening I have been searching for a Suzuki DR 350se. The "S" was for street, and the "E" for electric start. The used dual sport market is hot. Dual sport shoppers apparently missed the memo stating that we are currently in a recession. Or they did and are trying to help the country by spending their way out of this crisis. Several of the sellers I have contacted had sold their bikes before I had a chance to take a look. The dual sport sector of the motorcycle culture is the fastest growing subdivision (unsubstantiated claim) . Due to shrinking public lands for non street legal dirt bike riding, many MXers are turning to dual sports to expand their riding range, since street legal vehicles are still required on most dirt roads. Also the fact that loading a bike into a truck to drive to a riding location is such a pain in the ass, a dual sport solves this problem by allowing the rider to simple ride to their riding location; sure makes sense to me. The ever increasing gas prices have made many people look towards cheaper two wheeled transports. The utilitarian, Swiss army knife aspect of dual sport motorcycles appeal to the adventurous nature of those who would consider using a motorcycle as transportation.
This particular evening I was traveling to Sparks Nevada to look at a 1994 DR 350Se with 8100 miles on it. The thing was in great shape. I took it for a quick spin around the block and decided that it was going to be mine. I paid $1800 cash.
The next day I spent the morning at the DMV. In 3.5 hours, I had the bike registered, a licences plate, and a motorcycle riding permit.
The next day I had gotten insurance. $45 for six months.
The bike gets 65mpg.