Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Esmeralda Villa Lobos, or, The Little Ninja that Could

This is my bike. Its a Kawasaki EX-500.

This is Esmeralda Villa Lobos, a bit character from "Pulp Fiction". Why is my bike named after her? Why not. Just popped into my head, and that's as good a reason as any. Something about the orange stripes.

Anyways, this is not what you'd call a "touring bike". It weights about 430 lbs fulled fueled. It only puts out about 60 hp from its liquid cooled, twin-cam 8 valve parallel twin engine. Its basically a cheap commuter bike with a fairing on it, so I look like a SUPER POWER RANGER RACER when I ride it.

Pictured; what people see when I ride past them.

At any rate, this bike was designed in 1986 as a cheap beginner bike, then basically left unchanged until it was discontinued in 2000 and freaking 8! The engine design is basically half of the legendary GPZ900, the first mass produced bike with a 4-valve, liquid cooled, 4-cylinder engine in it.

Perhaps you recognize it?

What does this mean for touring? It means its going to be hard. Physically, not much can fit on the bike; one or two pairs of socks/underwear, jeans, tiny tent, sleeping bag, spare parts, maps, and that's about it. The windscreen is good if you're in a semi-tucked position, but that's not exactly comfortable when you're doing 500 miles across Kansas in a day. While it doesn't have a super-sport, pretzel-leg, humping-the-gas-tank riding position, it isn't exactly a Goldwing. Unlike modern touring bikes, it has no GPS, no hand warmers, no 12v accessory charging ports. It doesn't even have a freaking gas gauge!

So why am I doing this? I really admire T.E. Lawrence.

Pictured: the most badass badass who every lived.

T.E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia, was known for, amongst other things, being an amazing traveler. He crossed the "uncrossable" Nefud desert to attack the Turkish stronghold in Aqaba, which he took with a tiny Bedouin army; Aqaba had no defenses on the desert side, because, hey, it was uncrossable, right? Not bad for a pasty white Englishman. So, if I admire somebody, shouldn't I, in a small way, attempt to emulate him? Of course I should. Turns out, T.E. Lawrence also loved motorcycles.

Specifically, the Brough Superior. Probably faster than the Ninja.

Wait, isn't there more to the story about his love of motorcycles?...



  1. Squid - congratulations on making this decision - wishing you well from me and the big guy.
    Elaine Spitz