It has finally happened and I am in mourning. This week old bluey has passed on. After 7 years 5 months of togetherness and friendship over many weekends  he has gone. Gone but not forgotten: many road trips, long and short, some down south, some north, some alone and others with fellow old friends in a social atmosphere.
Of course as good and reliable as a faithful dog the FJR Yamaha in great “galaxy blue” colour finally became a little too heavy in the parking lot and in the garage so it had to go; or I had to go to the gym instead of the pub.
The bike of tomorrow today that is most proven on the road, touring, as a police pursuit bike, pacing the old Pacific Highway, touring around this great country or whatever. Since 2001 when the FJR was born it has been an excellent sports tourer machine for many riders and many pillions.
Mine was a 2004 the last of Generation 1 models but the first with ABS and barring one minor issue (cracked forks clamps of all things) it was a perfect machine that went well for the 10 years for me. It is easy to service and never had a fault.
Purchasing its replacement proved very time consuming and particularly painful as I had no idea what machine I needed as a replacement; just as long as the weight was less (perhaps I should have put Bluey on a diet.
So onto the not so short list of replacements, including BMW RT1200, Triumph Tiger, Yamaha XJR, BMW RS, Honda VFR 800, Ducati Multistrada, Honda VFR1200, Triumph Bonneville and probably more as I have no idea. I researched the internet vigorously, read all the bike mags, asked my friends (big biased mistake!) and consulted salesman and even my wife (another big mistake). I even considered a Harley, for about one minute, then came to my senses!
I had to buy from a dealer as I needed to trade in old bluey: I needed the $$. So off I ride to Blacktown, Parramatta, Concord, Wollongong, St Peters and lastly to our local area of Penrith. I went to these over a period of two months or so. It does take so much time to find an honest salesman, sometimes any salesman, check out what bikes are available (as the 'net is not always updated), do test rides, negotiate with those salesman and their managers (they said the FJR is old, the FJR has a few km on it, the FJR has a scratch or two and the FJRs are numerous thanks to police). Of course once the salesman gets your contact details he hounds you and hounds you and talks you to death to buy something, anything, anytime as he has the best deal..... not making any profit on this one they say! Its a great bike they say! One owner! There won't be another like this!
  Test rides after work in the peak hour (some dealers would not after 3pm) was scary on a strange bike, strange streets, and getting lost. Some dealers follow you and some say “take it for an hour or a day”. I guess so we fall in love with our new bike.
Well I went to Penrith bike dealers last including our major sponsor Western Motorcycles and found a young short salesman called Mitch. Helped me immensely and arranged test rides on anything anytime to help me make a decision on which beast I would be happy on, but of course ultimately it was my decision.
First off the VFR800, good size, looks good, good write-ups and that Steve M has one! I found it a little small body wise and not quite enough grunt (more power I say) bit like a toy bike really. Next up, the BMW touring: wow, off we go swaying and swinging in the breeze. I found a button for the music, Oh my, I can sing along to the Bavarian theme song. I came back to Westerns singing in time with the vibrations of the beemer, little Mitch had a smile ready to close the deal. So he thought! But alas a bit heavy (the bike not Mitch) and a few too many KMs on the clock for its age but I lurv the music (but  distracting).
Another week or so and my next choice, the Honda VFR1200F sports tourer. Shiny red with brand new touring baggage panniers and top box in matching metallic red. Sales guy says a heavy machine, I say not: compared to FJR its around 44kg less so off to a good start. Or rather a good start and I was off. Wobbly at first, head down bum up and never having a six gear before. Out back to Mulgoa, Bringelly, Mamre and almost got the hang of it riding almost in a sports position. And has this thing got some power! Ahhhhhhhhhhh, and that's in third gear. Man it goes, from first gear acceleration, second gear more, third gear reaching 100 +++ but there's more, and more. So onto the M4 into the peak traffic. From Mamre road up to sixth gear and 140kph in fifth, bloody hell!
This thing has a digital speedo and made my eyes go dizzy as it moved quicker than poker machine rollers as they take your money. I need a space rocket licence for this thing (yes it’s true about go faster red colour!). Lucky peak hour traffic slowed at M4 Mulgoa road exit so I could focus for the Lapo hill incline. Its over already, and no white FJRs (with blue lights) to be seen thankfully. So much power this V4 engine could pull a train, and so good looking in metallic red it will shine forever day or night. So lightweight I can pick it up when we fall over (sorry I just confused this bit with my red postie Honda bike).
As you may have guessed I was pretty impressed with the Honda with its speed, power, weight, touring luggage, shaft drive, six gears, mag wheels etc etc. Now to the price and the trade in of the old trustworthy bluey FJR. I had been previously been offered as little as $3,500 on it at other dealers and could not believe it.
So Mitch did his best deal by VFaR and made me a much better deal like no other. I love you Western MC and I am now the proud owner of a red Honda VFR 1200F. (I think the F stands for fast). A real sports machine, more so than a tourer: has lotsa plastic around its body which looks very schmick metallic. Now to make minor changes to suit me and my riding style (not so fast).
Westerns' included at a discounted price and ordered a touring screen, supplied a new softer seat and already had fitted handle bar risers so I virtually am in an almost sit up position. I have ordered adjustable foot pegs from China also. Will adjust the damping suspension to soften the ride a bit for my butt (say that six times). Let's see how I settle in and onto this machine as time goes by...
I have ridden from Penrith to Singleton (just made fuel) and Picton. Gently does it whilst getting accustomed to the red rocket but all good around the twisties, along the Putty road straights and in the car parks. I look forward to removing the plastic bits to see what's inside and underneath, including the power plant with those Honda horses.

Thanks for the story, Paul. Paul wrote to me several times during the looking process, and it was interesting to follow his journey. As I said, to him, looking for a new bike can be fun - for a while, then it gets frustrating! Looks like he ended up with a great bike at a great deal!

Paul wrote to me after this to say that all was not quite as expected. He found the riding-position still to be too aggressively sporty, and it was uncomfortable to ride. Adding to the discomfort was a suspension which didn’t provide the level of comfort he wanted. So he has made a few further changes to try to rectify these problems. It must be so frustrating! It would be understandable if he’d just gone out and bought the first thing he saw, but after such a journey of consideration and evaluation, to end up with something he isn’t happy with would be very frustrating! He even seriously considered buying his old bike back again, but that wasn't financially viable. Hopefully he is able to get it to be the bike he wants it to be.
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