My most recent motorcycle purchase was of a 1993 Suzuki DR650; I wrote about it a few months ago. I recently attached an OEM (i.e. original from Suzuki) exhaust pipe and muffler, replacing the far-too-noisy-for-my-taste SuperTrapp muffler the previous-previous owner had installed. I’m all for bikes sounding cool, but loud is right out except at the race track. I also debugged the electrical problem one evening so that the bike could be ridden safely at night again. With that done, I affixed the license plate and finally took it for a proper ride.

It’s a novel experience for me to ride a dual-sport motorcycle. The seating position is up high, the bars are wide, and there is a deep temptation to ride down the nearest railroad track or curious-looking dirt trail. I’m told I will giggle especially hard if I ride it up a local high school’s front stairs, as they will apparently feel like a smooth, if steep, section of road. (It was suggested I do this after school lets out, and under cover of darkness.)

What I was not entirely prepared for was the kick starter. Most people seem to have heard of kick starters, and certainly business people like to talk about “kickstarting” so-and-so project or activity. Maybe they know that kick starting is actually pretty hard to do, though they rarely make it sound that way. The honest reality is that kick starting is fun every time it works, and it sucks every time the bike stalls in traffic. Murphy’s Law dictates that if you stall in traffic, you will require at least five and likely 10-15 kicks to get started again. Simple biology dictates that you will be sweating (no matter the weather) by the fourth kick — the second kick if there’s an 18-wheeler ten feet behind you, waiting for you to get moving again.

So I imagine it’s a lie to say I’m embracing this weight-saving, cool-sounding technology that’s 100 years old (give or take). But it does add a certain appreciation to the ride, by making me directly feel the forces going on inside the engine every time it turns over*. And to be honest, it’s just one more thing to make the bike feel a little different than the others, and I like that.

* The persnickety engineer in me insists I confess that because the DR650 offers a compression release lever, what I’m feeling when I kick start it is actually a lot less of a kick than the piston feels on the compression stroke I’m pushing it through.

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