Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fantasy Garage: Dain Gingerelli Picks His Top Three

Sports fans have their fantasy camps to help make up for their lost boyhood dreams, and adolescents still rely on tattered issues of Playboy to fulfill their curiosity about the fairer sex. So why can’t we bike guys create our own dream garages to compensate for some of the moto voids in our lives? For lack of a better term, you might call it moto-mojo envy.

 Moto-mojo envy prompted discussion around the CGM water cooler the other day, the topic being motorcycles we once owned, bikes we wished we had owned, and bikes that we as seasoned motorcyclists wish we could own. Thus was born this story idea: the Fantasy Garage, a spin-off of the story “The Perfect Garage” that appeared in Cycle Guide’s December 1984 issue.

Anybody can play Fantasy Garage, and there are only a few rules that you need to know if you want to join in. They are:

Rule 1: You can fantasize about only three bikes.
Rule 2: All brands and vintages are eligible.
Rule 3: You can “own” only these three bikes.
Rule 4: Since this is a fantasy, price isn’t an object.
Rule 5: You’re going to live with these bikes forever. No “selling” them for profit, or because something newer comes along. We’re talking real commitment here.

Okay, the ground rules are established, and I’ll go first. Here’s the Fantasy Garage as seen through the rose-colored lenses of Daingerous Dain:

Triumph Bonneville T100

Thirty-something years ago my fantasy garage certainly would have included a road-race bike. Those days are gone, and today my virtual garage requires space for a daily rider, the bike that I’ll fetch the proverbial loaf of bread with, or ride to the local bike night. And that bike is a new Triumph Bonneville T100. This bike actually fills a few riding requirements that I’d like in a garage filled with bikes. Beyond its daily-rider duties, I like the no-frills approach this bike offers. This is a motorcycle—nothing more, nothing less. I really wanted a classic bike to help relieve my moto-mojo envy, but that meant sacrificing one of the other picks. Again, to the rescue comes the British Bonnie, thanks to its sixties styling cues. There will always be an England, and there will always be a daily rider in my garage.

Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic

Next in line sits my long-distance ride. You know, the bike that churns out the miles while I chase the horizon. You’ll notice this bike is American made—it’s a 2003 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic. Thanks to EPA emissions requirements Harley’s newer 96-inch engines run too lean and therefore too hot, and the earlier single-cam Evo model is too gutless. But the Twin Cam 88 of ’03 is just fine, plus it has fuel injection so a qualified tuner can re-map its fuel pattern for more performance. The big Hog holds more cargo than I can throw at it, which leaves room for a few souvenirs from the many places I’ll visit along the way.

Honda XL350R

My third choice was the toughest of all. I still enjoy riding off-road, so bike number three has to have knobby tires. It also must be street-legal because land-closure laws have gobbled up too many acres; finding suitable riding country in these parts means packing up the pickup for a minimum two-hour drive. And, by chance, my third selection also addresses the “classic” aspect I mentioned earlier. I’ve chosen a 1985 Honda XL350R as my final candidate.

I owned an ’85 XR350R for 20 years, and I quit riding it only because the engine blew up big time. That was a sorrowful day for me in the Mojave Desert, when the engine showed me its guts, because Honda’s single-carb XR350—made only one year, 1985—was the best fire-roading bike I ever rode. I could slide that 350 like it was an XR of another brand (XR750 anyone?), and it came off jumps pretty good, too, considering it was a heavy four-stroke. An XL version helps fill my need to slide in the dirt, but it also allows me to not have to drive my pickup miles and miles to do so. I can hop on the XL350R and within minutes I’ll be tracing the fire roads of nearby Saddleback Mountain, and be home before lunch… if I want to.

So there you have it, all you moto-cowboys. I’ve bared my soul to share my fantasy garage with you. Now let me hear about your lust list. Who knows, maybe one or two of you can convince me to change my choices. —Dain Gingerelli


  1. I agree with the New Bonneville. I would add a 2008 FJR 1300 and a DRZ400 Dual Sport.

  2. I agree with the New Bonneville. I would add a FJR1300 and a XR650L

  3. 1. FJR-1300. Killer commuter bike. Lots of power. Fun to ride. Keeps you dry. Gets the groceries home. Easy to work on.
    2. '07+ SV-650. Another killer commuter & play bike for when it's hot and dry.
    3. NR-750. Oh yeah. Exotic oval-piston love.

    Other bikes that didn't make the grade: 700 Nighthawk, '82 CB-450SC, RZ-350, Valkyrie (not the Rune POS), VFR, VTX-1800, RC-30, GSXR-750LE with the dry clutch....

  4. OK, I'm a younger guy, still on my first motorcycle. That one's gotta take the top spot!

    1)2005 Kawasaki KLR650
    Yep. Not sexy at all. But it's taken me from the tip of Newfoundland, across to the Pacific and all the way down to the Panama Canal without a hitch. Cheap. Reliable. Easy to work on. The AK-47 of motorcycles.

    2) 1973 Honda CB750 four
    Apparently my father had one of these before I was around. I wouldn't be able to resist building it into a cafe racer, a la

    3) KTM950 Adventure
    Carbs only, no jumpy EFI please. The KTM is what the KLR would be with better parts, and a bigger engine. Minus the "cheap" and "reliable" aspects...

  5. Indian 101 Scout - surely one of the all time Classic American motorcycles. Handsome and one of the best balanced and best handling motorcycles ever.

    Ducati 750 SuperSport roundcase - Sexier than Sophia Loren and classic.

    Current generation Harley Road King - fun, practical and great ll round rider.

  6. My list happens to be the three bikes currently residing in my garage. I have owned a number of bikes over the years but this crop makes me happy. "Happiness is not having what you want but wanting what you have."

    1) '06 Ducati S2R1000 - my canyon carver, fully modded with termi exhaust plus carbon fiber and billet everywhere
    2) '06 BMW K1200S - comfort plus a two-up adrenaline rush (0-60 in 2.8 sec)
    3) '08 Bimota Tesi 3D - I can spend hours (beer in hand) just looking at this bike and no matter where I pull up I doubt I'll see another one

  7. 1. FJR1300. As a Long Distance and Endurance Rally rider, I absolutley have to have a big sport-tourer. There are many good choices these days, but the FJR is a great combination of performance, reliability and low cost of operation. I've logged 60K miles on mine. I'd probably opt for a Gen II with linked ABS for my Fantasy Garage.

    2. Aprilia Futura. Folks could argue there are better bikes and the styling is dated, but after almost a decade I still lust after this one. It's got personality and practicality. Nothing else on the road looks like a Futura. I'll take mine in silver please.

    3. 2010 Ducati Multistrada S Touring. It's too soon to tell, but this might be the one-bike answer to the Fantasy Garage question. Besides dirt, is there anything the new MS won't be able to do? High horsepower, Ohlins suspension, comfort and enough touring capacity to meet my requirement that every bike I own be able to travel. I'm saving my pennies.

  8. Easy
    1 Suzuki GT550--you have to have a three cylinder two stroke for fun and great comments

    2 My 2009 Kawasaki Concours--cannot get over how much I love this bike

    3 Honda case the end of the world comes along--or you need a gallon of milk in town


  9. 1. Vincent Black Shadow - I could just look at for days
    2. 1965 Bonnie - the prettiest to me.
    3. New bonneville maybe a 50th anniversay - something to jump on and ride.

  10. hmmmm, only three huh?

    1. Ducati Monster - sexy, comfortable, exciting
    2. BMW R80 G/S PD - go anywhere dual sport, a true classic
    3. My '04 BMW R1150RT - for when i just want to munch the miles.

  11. My three:
    1) 1974 Norton 850 Interstate MkIIA (non-electric start). I had a brand new 850 Sportster in 74 but the Bandidos stole it. I rode the Interstate for a decade on autobahns, laneways, tundra and desert (Europe and Australia)
    2) MV Agusta F4 1000. The Jessica Alba of motorcycles and she does 300kmh.
    3) Ducati 350 single trials (circa 1972). Absolute minimalism, sculpted beauty and a sound that's note perfect.

  12. I would choose:
    1. Triumph Street Triple R (you never need more engine on actual roads and you cannot beat the handling)
    2. Triumph Bonneville (for all the reasons given here by others)
    3. BMW R1000R (because it is insane)