A recent realization is that a certain motorcycle company has always been a part of my life. It all started when my father brought home an early 70’s Suzuki TC90. It was a barn find that he took home for the price of free! He tuned it up, put tires, chain, sprocket and grips on it and we fired it up to ride around the yard.
This was the bike that my sister immediately learned that motorcycling was not for her. The incredibly well-executed wheelie in our yard landed her and the bike in the shrubs that lined the perimeter of our yard. Her decision to not ride was solidified as my parents pulled the numerous woody thorns that were 2-3 inches in length from her flesh.
A couple other Japanese branded machines filled my teenage years. It wasn’t until college that the big “S” made another appearance. This time, I was on the lookout for affordable commuting around campus and town. This really made little sense as my college in the far reaches of Northern Minnesota had a limited riding season. For a mere $400, I picked up a 1977 Suzuki GS400X. The bike was a gas-sipping blast. I got my endorsement on that bike. Rode the wheels, chain and very worn sprocket off that bike during the summer. A beautiful young woman donned a helmet and leather jacket to go on many rides with me. That little 400cc bike gave me enough badass credo that I won her over. Later that year, I put a ring on that woman’s finger and she said “yes.”
Fresh out of college I landed a job with the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center. It was a great gig that let me put my college training to use with my passion for two wheels. Of course, I was flat broke at the time and without a motorcycle. That situation felt a bit off. The fire in my gut needed two wheels again. That’s when a 1984 Suzuki GR650 Tempter entered my garage. It was a real beast of a bike, but with some elbow grease it took my new wife and I on numerous trips. I never did take it much further than 200 miles from home. The weak metal of the gas tank constantly sprung leaks. One such pin-hole leak sprung as I was dressed in a suit and commuting to work. The stench of gasoline filled the office air. My colleagues asked that I leave! The bike remained parked as I took the city bus home. People on the bus were obviously disturbed by the gas smell, but couldn’t place from where it was coming. It seemed to come from the direction of the guy decked out in a business suit, but it couldn’t be him that smells this bad.
At this point, my wife and I had decent jobs and we worked on the side managing a 36-unit apartment building. Being a country kid that was stuck in the city, there was a tremendous need within me to get out and explore rural America. Managing that apartment building was like having three extra jobs, but it allowed me to pick up a new motorcycle. This time, I didn’t pick up some 20-30 year old bike. This was going to be my first (and only to this point) new bike.
There were many options for new motorcycles. It was a 2007 Suzuki DL 650 V-Strom that fit my need for a commuting and touring steed. All the hard work paid off as I paid cash for the bike.
The bike needed a strong name that depicted its adventurous personality. When spoken, the name needed to elicit day dreams of far off places. Victor Stromboli was born.
Here we are several years and nearly 50,000 miles later. In a garage with four motorcycles in it, Victor is still my primary motorcycle. It has taken us across the country on several trips, over the mountains, down fire service roads and has gotten me in over my head on several dirt trails.
It is the last situation that recently got me looking for another motorcycle. A limited budget and a deep internal “need” for a capable off-road explorer got me researching the many small to mid-size dual sport bikes available on the used market. Suzuki answers the call again. A 1991 Suzuki DR350S fit my desire for a simple motorcycle that could get to the single track trails on its own accord and still manage the rugged terrain.
I am not tied to any particular brand of motorcycle. I don’t count myself as a “Suzuki” guy. It just so happens that the company always has a reliable, affordable and good solution to my motorcycling demands. This is a recent realization for me that 90 percent of the miles that I’ve put on motorcycles has been on a single brand, Suzuki.
Kudos to you, Suzuki. I may in fact be a “Suzuki” guy.