25 February 2015


In the taxi going to meet Hau to pick up my "new" motorcycle, I'm actually excited! Since I returned from my adventure in Laos just the day before (17 February), he was kind enough to put of family matters and meet me this morning, the 17th anniversary of his father's death.

As I explained in an earlier post, most Vietnamese people can tell the date of the three previous generations of ancestors' deaths more readily than the birthdays of immediate family members. This is because they believe that the quality of the ancestor's afterlife is at least in part determined by the size of the party in both people and food given every year to celebrate the ancestor. Hau's time this morning is very valuable and I am honored that he is taking some of it to deliver my motorcycle to me.

I was right to be excited; the DR-Z is great!

And pretty, if you like yellow :-) It's not my first choice, though the graphics Hau helped me add make it more tolerable. There will certainly be no valid, "I didn't see you" excuse!

When I first saw it, it was covered in flat black wrap

and I've never been a fan of the blacked-out look... especially when it's less than well-done. I did have to keep the fake Mobil 1 sticker, though

because native English speakers sometimes miss that it's a fake... so it's become a "paying attention" test of sorts...

I like the bike a LOT more now, even though there is an issue I need to resolve on my next trip to HCMC... while the right side is fine, the left side graphics do not align properly from panel to panel.
Hau was pretty sure I would object, though in the hope that I'd been here long enough to accept it, he let it slide. We talked about it and he has promised to make things right.

Do you remember the phrase? Say it with me, now...

"It's Việt Nam!"

Even though it is the same engine displacement (400cc), because it is an enduro (combination street/off-road) it is a totally different feel than the Honda Steed... and I like it! It sits up a LOT taller than the cruiser and although the higher center of gravity takes a bit of getting used to, I rode around the streets of HCMC enough before leaving for Dà Lạt that I feel comfortable enough to tackle the 300km ride.

Hau did a great job of getting it ready and even added something that I came up with... a 10cm PVC tube mounted opposite the exhaust that will hold tools--a panier of sorts.
My tools were with the Steed in Dà Lạt, so I rode the 8 hour trip with it empty. Upon arrival, I noticed that the black Contact-type paper he'd used to wrap it was frayed around the edges of the cap
Then, looking closer, I was VERY GLAD that I'd left it empty and especially that the paintings I bought in Luang Prabang were just a little to long to fit. During my ride, the suspension travel put the wheel up against and, eventually, through the tube!

Okay, it was a good thought with bad placement. There really isn't anywhere else to put such a tube, so I'll devise another way to carry the tools on a trip into the boonies. Maybe placed in a pack that I strap to the rack behind the seat? That's the standard practice, probably because it works. Hey, I tried, right? The good news is that all it cost me was US$2 worth of PVC.

It will be better for most of the areas around Dà Lạt because of all the hills and roads with less-than-optimal traction/stability. My new friend Eric also has an enduro and has promised to take me to some of the areas that he and his friend ride, so I'm looking forward to that.

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