I’m 36. That means a lot of things. It means in a few years ill be 40, it means I have less hair than I did when I was 26, it means that I’ve been around the block a few times, but mostly it means I grew up in the 80’s and as a result can still word for word recite every original Star Wars movie as though I was actually in it.
Congratulations jackass, you’re a nerd.
Ok so, I’m a nerd. Sue me. I grew up with Star Wars and secretly wanted to be just like Han Solo. But you know, as awesome as Han and his Millennium Falcon were, the Empire always had the cooler looking stuff. I mean, I get it, it was The Empire. They were the bad guys, but come on, Tie Fighters, Stormtroopers, the Death Star, Imperial Walkers?? Tell me the Walkers weren’t awesome.. I dare you. I double dog dare you. But Imperial Walkers aside, it wasnt any of those things that looked like the most fun. It was the speederbikes. Yeah man, remember the speederbikes? Crashing through the forest moon of Endor at a hundred miles an hour whilst kicking some ass? Awesome. I was 8, had a BMX bike, and thought I was scout trooping my way through suburban Massachusetts.
So I’m a little older now, although no less a nerd, and in an attempt to bring my 8 year old desire to ride a speederbike to life, last year I convinced my wife to take the two day Motorcycle Safety Foundation basic rider course with me. I have an uncle who has always had motorcycles, which I always thought was kinda cool, and so after some convincing I signed us up. It was a blast…. On a Honda Rebel… A good starting point, but not a keeper.
I hadn’t decided at that point what kind of bike I wanted, but the more research I did, the less I wanted a cruiser style motorcycle. You know, the giant deafening Harley with the Bat Wing, ElectroDynaGlydeKing with tassels… And flags. Dude, don’t forget the flags…. Um no. Not quite my style. I’m not a thrill seeker/adrenaline junkie, and even though I fly airplanes for a living, I’ve never really felt “the need for speed.” (Thanks Mav) I was looking for something sportier, but something that wasnt going to get me killed. Rightfully so, super sport bikes were out, and so I settled on a used 250cc naked sport bike (read no fairings). It was a decent bike, it was cheap, and did exactly what I needed to do: help me start learning how to ride a motorcycle in the world while trying not to get killed.
Ok, so what the hell does this have to do with Star Wars? Fair question. I had a decent motorcycle, but I wasnt getting that speederbike feeling. Not that it wasnt fast enough… It just… Wasn’t quite right. So I started looking again. Enter, the Ninja.
No, not that ninja.
In 2013 Kawasaki discontinued its tried and true entry level sportbike, the Ninja 250r, and released its new, bigger horsepower, digital speedo, fuel injected replacement, the 300. I saw one of the first ones last fall, when talking with one of the local shop guys, literally stopped in mid sentence and said, “What… thefuck… was that?” “It’s the new Ninja 300,” was the reply, “it’s pretty awesome.” Yes. Yes it is. I made it my business to find out everything I could about this new, slightly faster (but not gonna kill me), more aggressively styled motorcycle. From what I had, it was a decent upgrade, not super expensive, all the reviews I read were overwhelmingly positive, and the new pearl white paint and black accents actually looked like a fucking Stormtrooper. I was in. I traded the 9 year old starter bike, and brought home the Ninja. That was three months and 1500 miles ago.
I had to explain the Stormtrooper concept to my wife the other night. We had gone for a ride to get some ice cream after dinner, and while we were sitting on the fence near the bikes (she rides a Vespa 300 Super. Equally awesome) she told me that when we started this she pictured me on a Triumph or a smaller Sportster: a standard/cruiser. “I never thought you’d like something like this.” It was at that moment I had to, once again, open my nerd vault and admit that I always wanted to ride a speederbike, you know from Return of the Jedi, and with that technology not yet available, this was as close as I could get. “Ah… Well that makes sense.” Aaaand we all get why I love my wife.
You might have noticed from other posts, that not only am I a sci-fi movie nerd, I’m also something of a gear geek. I wanted to be safe, but not go to the post office in full a Stormtrooper looking leather racing suit. They serve a purpose and look awesome on the track, but in my small town with one stop light, a little over the top. I ended up choosing a white Bell Vortex helmet, with a dark smoke shield (because, you know, Stormtrooper), First Gear silver/black mesh jacket, Draggin Jeans and Speed and Strength Run with the Bulls black leather boots. Not super aggressive looking, but some protection if I ever need it. I’m in that “All The Gear All The Time” camp, so even when it’s 90 degrees, as much as I’d like to squid my way to the hardware store, I put my gear on, sweat my ass off and enjoy the ride.
And so, with my early midlife crisis in full swing, I’ve been able to realize my dream (withe the limitations of technology, and I assume the space/time continuum) of riding a speederbike…. Until they actually make speederbikes… Then it’s gonna be on…. You know… Like donkey kong.