Returning Tennessee rider on a VFR750

Doug Adcox, a resident of Tennessee, USA, bought a VFR750 in the Summer of 2002. This was his first motorcycle for a number of years. He and I corresponded after he found this site while searching for information on VFRs.

He subsequently found the bike of his dreams, and I was fortunate enough to receive regular emails detailing the joys of his first rides on the VFR. Below are excerpts from those mails, I'm sure you will find they make for pleasurable reading.

He bought it fitted with a loud D&D pipe. After his first run he replaced it with the stock exhaust, and it is here we catch up with him...
Doug's VFR750 I find the sound of the stock silencer pipe quite nice. It IS quiet, but not to the point of losing its character and unique exhaust sound. Even when riding, the stock pipe has a deep mellow exhaust note - not that tinny sound you hear on so many other sport bikes - and I felt more relaxed and less tense with the quieter pipe. Of course I probably wouldn't even have noticed the D&D's louder exhaust note had I had more current riding time - perhaps the quieter pipe is just a psychological thing with me in that it allowed me to concentrate a little better on my actual riding. I think with time I'll become more relaxed and comfortable with my abilities and with the bike itself.

I doubt, however, that I'll use the louder D&D pipe again. It's just too damned loud and I think it takes away from the riding experience. The stock pipe, although heavy, sounds much better with its quiet yet deep mellow tone. And at my weight what's another 5 or 10 pounds? It's worth the tradeoff in terms of increased enjoyment. The younger lads might differ on that opinion, but for me the stock pipe, with its deep rich baratone sound, is perfectly adequate.

In summation, I must confess my impressions have totally changed with tonight being a profoundly different experience: The VFR was running smoothly and quietly, that deep mellow growl mixing with the geardrive singing away directly beneath me, the steering light and responsive to my slightest input, that intangible feeling of being as one with machine as I sailed along savoring the fragrant cool evening air.
The next day Doug finds himself riding for longer and really finding himself at home on the bike:
After leaving the house, took a nice smooth two lane highway north, basically running along the top of Walden's Ridge for several miles, then took a couple of more rural back roads for another hour or so, these roads were bumpy and twisty but the VFR soaked up the bumps nicely. As these roads were unfamiliar and rough with alot of sharp blind curves, I just cruised along around 35-45mph enjoying the view and fresh cool air.

Later, back on smoother 2 lane, I dropped off the mountain via a beautiful highway with continuous smooth S-turns and hairpins with some spectacular views of the valley below. Once again I just let the bike find its natural speed as it waltzed from one S curve to the next. Very enjoyable. Very little input neded to turn this bike. It's so well balanced that you can almost "think" it through a corner. 2 days ago I thought it "too sensitive" but now that I've adapted to it, the steering is wonderful. You don't need to muscle this bike - just a gentle shift of your body will do the job nicely. Completely neutral steering. Of course I wasn't pushing the bike hard - just having a pleasant and safe ride.

This road ended in Pikeville, and from there I turned north along 127 and followed the road, which by now was a beautiful straight two lane highway with long uphill and downhill grades. This lasted for maybe 20 miles or so, and here I began to experiment w/ cruising speeds, trying different rpm ranges in 6th gear. Have a mental hangup about the high rpm ranges these new bikes cruise at because I'm so used to the older bike's lower cruising rpms at speed.

60mph on the VFR is around 4,500 rpm, which at first seems like alot of rpms, but after 10 or 15 miles, it seemed perfectly happy at this rpm. Later on, 68 mph seems to be right at 5,000. Now 5,000rpm seems like a hell of lot of revs, but these bikes seem happy in any gear at any rpm. If I were on an older bike, 5,000 would be really working the bike hard (towards the upper end of its useable power). But to the VFR (and I suspect the Triumphs and other modern bikes as well) there's nothing to it.

It does seem to appear that these new bikes must be (or rather can be) ridden in a totally different fashion - in so far as engine rpm goes. After awhile the VFR settled in at 5,000rpm and cruised happily for miles without breaking a sweat, the temperature gauge always staying in the lower 25% of the scale. 5,000rpm would be quite a strain on one of my old bikes, but on the VFR it seemed like a piece of cake. I soon forgot about monitoring the tacho because I could tell by cam geardrive sound whining away beneath me that I was pretty much spot on cruising speed of 65-70 mph. Although there is a bit of very very slight vibration, I didn't find it annoying. In fact, all these tactile sensations from the footpegs, engine, suspension, and bars added to the pleasure of riding, making you feel one with the bike itself. I like that.

Doug's VFR750 At the end of this stretch I began a long uphill grade with long smooth gentle S-turns. The little 750 just devoured them one after another, although I wasn't really going very fast (only 50-60 mph). The bike could have gone MUCH MUCH faster, but the rider (me) saw no need to do so. I was completely content just swaying the bike from side to side as we danced up the mountain. This fun section ended to my surprise in the town of Crossville - had no idea I'd come so far! I stopped at Cumberland State Park nearby enjoying a coke and the lovely view of the lake for about an hour. A nice breeze was up and I sat beneath some Hemlock trees on a park bench just admiring the little red bike and savoring the cool pure mountain air. Nirvana!

Returned the same way descending the mountain, and then headed due south back to Pikeville, but instead of returning back up Walden's Ridge I elected to continue south to Dunlap. This was a 30 mile stretch of perfectly straight highway with the usual ascending and descending hills through Tennessee farmland and pastures along the way. Here for the first time I had to now pass a couple of cars. The first time I hadn't bothered downshifting -just rolled it on in 6th and passed with no effort.

On the second occasion, just for the hell of it, I dropped down 2 gears to fourth and gave it a bit more throttle. WOW!! This girl can dance! The bike accelerated quickly, but then an amazing thing happend: Passing through 7000 rpm the bike abruptly changed from a pussy cat into a roaring monster, leaping foward with such a sheer RUSH of acceleration that I felt I'd been shot from a cannon! I couldn't believe such a rush of speed above 7k, and judging from the way it was pulling I'm sure it would have gone to red line with no problem.

I backed it off and settled down to my usual cruising speed of 65 but was utterly astounded with such an amazing transformation. My old bikes would have petered out at 7,000 but this thing doesn't BEGIN to run till 7,000! I have yet explored this "brave new world" beyond 7,000, and in all honesty feel no need to do so. And to think there's still 4500 rpm left before red line? That's a power band as big as my belt size!

I soon saw the Dunlap city limits sign and couldn't believe I was almost home. I tuned off 127 and took the new 111 up the mountain. This is a steep 6% grade but the road is 4 lanes and relatively straight with only a few gentle bends. My old truck will barely pull (I have to drop down from 5th to 3rd to just hang on the edge of the torque curve) so I got myself up a good head of steam (70-75) before attacking the mountain. The bike pulled the ENTIRE MOUNTAIN at 75 in 6th gear without so much as a whimper! For such a relatively heavy bike with only 748cc I couldn't believe the torque. The engine truly is an engineering work of art. Not once did it stumble or miss a beat, that wonderful whine of the gear driven cams singing merily beneath the petrol tank as if to say "is that all you can give me?"

Doug's VFR750 I'm delighted with the bike now. Superb handling, very comfortable seating (my arse isn't even tired), great torque and acceleration, and very powerful stopping ability. Surprisingly the sport fairing is very effective, cutting all wind below my neck and shoulders. I'm tring to find some major fault with this bike but each new time I ride it I discover more and more of its wonderful qualities, and love it more and more. After my first TRUE LONG ride on the bike today it's beginning to feel like an old and trusted friend. There's no better compliment than that.
A month later Doug takes a run through Deal's Gap:
After having rain almost everyday, I finally got in a bit of riding sunday. I had heard alot about "Deal's Gap", which is supposed to be sort of a famous (or infamous) section of road near the Smokey Mountain National Park that runs from Tennessee into North Carolina, with one particular 11 mile section having over 300 curves. The road is very popular with sportbike riders who seem to try and ride it as fast as possible, full leathers, etc., but the road is very unforgiving and has earned the nickname "The Dragon".

After riding it at what I thought a brisk yet safe pace, I learned why so many fatalities. These guys are out for blood (no pun intended) and I soon learned the best rule for survival was monitor my rear- view mirrors and wave them by, then watch in amazement (and horror) as they would flick their bikes from left to right at almost suicidal speeds and then vanish from sight around the next sharp(blind)curve within a matter of seconds.

I didn't return home feeling like a Superbike Hero (More like a whipped puppy with tail between its legs and no balls!) but did return home in one piece, so all's well that ends well. I learned a little more about how to ride the bike properly, and that's all a part of learning to ride again after so many years away from motorcycling.

By day's end I was riding smoother, if not faster, but then riding smoother usually means you're riding faster, even though you're not aware of it. Earlier in the day I was cursing myself constantly as I fumbled and bumbled through the gearbox always either a gear too low or a gear too high as I entered or exited a curve, the poor VFR stutturing and stammering at my lack of coordination and timing. And then having to watch my rear-view mirrors constantly was not exactly conducive to smooth riding either - especially when you are literally either approaching a curve, riding through a curve, or exiting a curve, CONTINUOUSLY without so much as a hint of a straight. I think the longest "straight" I encountered was maybe 100 yards long at the most. Really an unbelievable and fun road, which is how I rode it - just for fun.
October saw Autumn approaching and on a sunny Sunday Doug had this to say:
Well. it's 1:00 pm Sunday afernoon, the sun is out with a brilliant azure sky (a cold front passed through yesterday) and there's a hint of fall (autumn) in the air. I think I hear the VFR calling me.....although I really should go to church......haven't been in 2 or 3 years, heathen that I am. Actually (rationalizing) I can seek God quite well enough when viewing his handiwork from my VFR pew while humming through the countryside, the VFR choral camdrive singing harmony beneath me. Very spiritual. I'm going riding!
I'll say Amen to that. It seems that brother Doug has found God while riding on a VFR. Must be heaven.

More on Deal's Gap
Tail of the Dragon
e-Sportbike News article

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