Ms. Fleet Manager is my evil twin, a devil in corporate pantsuit she got for 80% off who can work out cost per mile to three places right of the decimal in her head… Then she logs on to her supercomputer and totally blows your ownership rationalizations out of the water. I swear she’s working the numbers in my head even when I’m sleeping, sort of like the SETI research being done on idle personal computers. So about 1:30 this morning I wake up thinking about how much I’m spending on the thirty year old R80ST. Yup, just like when she woke me up in Florida two weeks ago to taunt me with the prospect of losing my tin shanty on wheels by the big swamp to the landlord, after having paid $15,000 for it and gotten only a few months use of said swamp sanctuary so far. As always, Ms. Fleet Manager’s numbers were cooked- I was generous and paid myself and my two brothers $5k each for their shares in a single wide I’d have trouble getting $5k for now. As for my senile landlord evicting me over the disputed rent amount, I was already headed north anyway and it’d cost him at least  a couple thousand to move the trailer off the lot in hopes he can find another renter who’ll place their trailer there and pay him $400 a month for the privledge. I was honestly more worried that he’d vandalize the Buell than mess with the trailer. But none the less Ms. Fleet Manager caused me to leave the big swamp sleep deprived, and the trailer troubles on the trip back kept me from catching up on said sleep.

Now my evil twin Ms. Fleet Manager seems to co-inhabit my head due to genetic predisposition- besides being gearheads we’re math geeks with an aptitude for card counting and second guessing cash registers. Ms. Fleet Manager has developed rigid rules for the ownership cycle of just about everything, and especially vehicles. Her rules (they’re too rigid to be called a philosophy) are that vehicles should be bought new after at least a years research and bargaining to get the best price, replaced after 10 years and rotated to service as spares, and disposed of at 20 years and certainly before they become eligible for historic plates at 25. Question Ms. Fleet Manager’s “logic”, and you’ll be buried under stats on cost per mile, return on investment, ad naseum. That’s why I often just surrender and let her have her way.

So in the middle of last night Ms. Fleet Manager wakes me to remind me that the 108,000 mile R80ST I’ve already put $3200 into will cost me at least another thousand by the time the heads come back and other odds and ends re figured in. “Assuming the heads come back!” Reminds Ms. Fleet Manager, serving notice that after being shipped out before Christmas they still aren’t out of the shop. Now I’m not quite ready to head off to Pennsylvania with a Writ of Habeus Heads to retrieve the tardy heads, but around this time next month I may have to take such measures if they still haven’t returned- Parade season starts in May and I need to have the bike and sidecar together by April so I’ve got some time for debugging.

So after some sleepless tossin’ & turnin’, I get up, grab some iced tea, and flop into an easy chair in the living room. Before me in the darkness is the Buffalo Ridge, punctuated by the tiny red lights of over a hundred wind turbines. Every couple minutes a truck passes on the highway, and every couple hours a train passes by. Above delicately shines nature’s planetarium. On each side of me are airheads- the worrysome R80ST on the left and the everlasting R65LS on the right. On the other side of the wall is the R100GS, hopefully saved from a life of mechanical sins by a full set of HPD cylinder stud repairs. Only got a couple hundred miles on it though since rehab, so not sure if I should trust it yet. But a contingency plan comes together- if the GS breaks again, put it’s good heads on the ST. The R65LS only mechanical malady is an intermittent slipping clutch and the splines are down to 50%. But I’ve got a whole spare low mileage diff on the shelf, so no big deal… If the ST doesn’t come together in time, put the smaller sidecar back on the LS. With my bottle of iced tea only half drunk, I fell asleep again…

Ms. Fleet Manager did get me thinking thought… I should keep buying a new bike every decade or so, rotating the old bike, now a decade old, into sidecar duty for another decade. Problem is, my 2001 Buell dosen’t seem reliable enough to pull a sidecar, and the just out of warranty BMW F800S rear end is earning the big BMW’s reputation for expensively failing rear drives, so neither is a good candidate for ‘hack’n. Looks like I should have maybe bought the Triumph Scrambler twin that caught my fancy when I was last new bike shopping instead of the F800S?

So I whip out Motorcycle Consumer News latest road test summary and set my specs- less than $10k and 10 years old, at least 50 horses and a frame that sidecar mounts are readily available for (2000 mile one way trips for $1000+ custom mounts don’t count). MCN gives me a dozen options- 1200 Sportster, V-Rod, Honda Valkrie, Guzzi V-11, Griso, Norge, Breva, Suzuki 650 V-Strom, Triumph Bonneville/Scrambler/etc. twins, Rocket 3, Victory, and there’s a pre-hack’d Buell Cyclone for sale nearby.

Time to narrow the field a bit… Dig out the current issue of MCN and peruse their used bike price guide, setting a $5000 limit. That leaves the Sporty, 1100 Guzzis, the Wee Strom, and the older 92 cubic inch Victories. Not sure if I should include the Buell, but they’re asking $5k for it with the hack. Going back to Ms. Fleet Manager’s 10 year old limit, the going price for a 2002 Wee Strom is $2500 and the more hackable Triumph Twins are going for around $2200, with the 1200 Sporty, 1100 Guzzis, and the V92 Victories in the $4000-$5000 range. Gotta admit, Ms. Fleet Manager has a point here- why pour money into a hundred thousand mile airhead when Triumph Twins and Wee Stroms one third the airhead’s age are available for the same money? So I play with the numbers again- what will $5000 buy me, instead of a pretty much rebuilt 30 yeaar old 108,000 mile airhead? Well, $5000 would put me on a 2009 Triumph Twin or a 2008 Wee Strom. Both those bikes have proven ability to go a hundred thousand miles without major mechanical mayhem, both have some dual sport ability, and the Triumph’s with there full frame are easily hackable and look seriously cool with a period repro ‘hack like my Motorvation Spyder.

Think I’m gonna surf on over to craigslist.org an search for Triumph twins…

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