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Kulp on Cars: Or Maybe Bikes

by Sam Kulp

I’m guilty of falling victim to the terribly addicting and immensely exciting hobby of motorcycling. My dad ended up hitting his mid life crisis head on and bought an old bike, and my common sense spirals out of control from there.

The gateway drug in question is a 1984 Honda Sabre VF700. It’s a 699cc V4 muscle bike/streetfighter that was made in response to a tariff on motorcycle engines that were above 700cc in displacement, probably because Harley Davidson didn’t want to lose all their old people to the Japanese. It weighs in at around a hefty 520 lbs wet, making 76 horsepower.

God above is it quick. As my first experience on a motorcycle, the only word that comes to mind to describe it’s acceleration is intoxicating. Enough to convince me that there is nothing on four wheels that will ever be as quick as a motorcycle. It’s simple physics, power to weight. A motorcycle weighs, relative to a car, almost nothing. Even with half the amount of horsepower as my Ford Focus, the Sabre will with no question embarrass a BMW M3 pulling away from the lights. It simply astounds me that there are bikes with twice (some even with four times) more power, weighing 100 pounds less.

It doesn’t look too bad either. I particularly like the design towards the rear, with the 80’s styling of sharp creases and lines. The trend fails at the front however, where the square headlight seems awkward above the horns. With the turn signals jutting out, the whole front end looks like a monkey playing that game, “Head’s Up!”

The riding position is very comfortable, while keeping the feet back enough to prevent it from feeling like a cruiser; the position is more closely to that of a touring bike. It’s a very neutral position, and it allows for some adjustment on the behalf of the rider. The seat is very comfortable, but not enough to offset the pogo-stick suspension. With all the roads around my house being oiled and chipped, my tailbone had a lot to complain about after a spirited ride.


The centerpiece here is the engine, Honda’s then state-of-the-art 90-degree liquid-cooled V four that is nearly completely free of vibration. The motor will cruise at highway speeds until the end of time, without complaint. It sounds magnificent as well. Almost v8 ish in character, except it will give off the same muscle-car engine burble all the way to 10,500 rpm, at which point you’d be better off calling it a roar.

It’s safe to say I’ve officially expanded my interests in motoring. Over the summer I put easily 2500 miles on my dad’s bike, and I can’t imagine what sort of mayhem I would partake in with my own ride. Free time is spent on Craigslist looking for one already, but I tell myself “next summer, next summer.” It will never come soon enough.

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