When work sends you from Canada to Hawaii in winter, it pays to remember to pack your motorcycle gear.
by Mark DT
When I am not moderating this site, I am tending to my full time job which fortunately for me brings a lot of travel. While the temperatures at home have been staying above freezing, it has been rare to get a day above 10’C / 50F for months. Imagine how happy I was when I learned I was going to be spending two nights in Honolulu, Hawaii this month with my job. Looks like this year my first ride would be a Hawaiian motorcycle rental.
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What to bring, what to bring? It all needed to fit in my carry-on suitcase, so I decided to pack my mesh Joe Rocket riding jacket minus the rain liner, my Sartso Kevlar Jeans, and my Icon short gloves, and boots. The forecast was calling for warm sunshine, so hot weather gear would suffice. (Or so I thought…)
I’ve rented motorcycles before in Hawaii. While there are no helmet laws in that particular state, I wouldn’t think of riding without having a full face helmet. Two local companies that I like were walking distance from my hotel. Both had two of my preferences for a motorcycle rental. A Triumph motorcycle with good rubber, and a full face helmet.
My first time renting in Hawaii I used a rental outfit called Cruizin Hawaii which was an excellent company. They have a nice mix of bikes, and the owner is a great guy to deal with. This time I tried out Chase Rentals, primarily because they had a brand new 2012 Triumph Bonneville with only 2000 miles on the odometer, and it was a two minute walk from my hotel. Chase Rentals is a much bigger company and their inventory of rental motorcycles is impressive to say the least.
For those that are thinking of renting a motorcycle in the Hawaiian Islands, the Triumph Bonneville is near perfect for the job. It is super light and flickable for such a comfortable cruiser, has great ergonomics, and nice smooth power delivery. It is completely un-faired with classic old school looks, which in the tropics normally works very well. Chase Rentals while providing me a great bike and helmet, were a little slow to get me out on the road. They have several locations, and they failed to bring the bike to location specified when I booked the bike. Normally I am on the road in 15 minutes, this time it took almost one hour as they had to run the bike and full face helmet over to the location I specified for pick up. This is my first rental with them, and as the staff were friendly and the bike was in perfect shape I’ll let this slide and will likely rent from them again if staying on that side of Waikiki.
I would strongly recommend a bike of similar displacement or horsepower in Oahu, as there are very few places on these islands to really open the throttle. On the scenic coastal roads you are seldom above 40 MPH / 80 KM/H. Getting a 600cc sport bike, or a massive V-Twin cruiser is overkill for the type of roads and distances you will cover. An HD Sportster, the Triumph Bonneville, and Kawasaki Ninja 650 are all ideally suited for the roads and traffic out there. Any motorcycle that is under 80 horses, with a comfy riding position, and light to maneuver is my recommendation. If you are riding on the Big Island, or Maui you may wish to consider a larger bike, but if you are staying in Waikiki less is really more when it comes to the ideal motorcycle to rent.
An excellent lunch.
I found a really nice and small Mexican family restaurant about 5-10 minutes past Makapu’u beach. They also served the best coffee I had on this trip. Located in the town of Waimanalo, Serg’s Mexican Kitchen was a great place to stop, dry off and enjoy some very authentic Mexican food.
The views and Oahu in general.
Beautiful tropical mountains and sea views abound. There is a reason people from around the world continue to flock to Hawaii. Oahu is the most famous/popular island of the Hawaiian Islands and is home to the capital of Honolulu.
I was impressed with the average cager here. Five hours on the bike, no real surprises from being cut off, left turners, etc. I think I drew more surprised looks and sympathy from drivers because of the rainy weather that day.
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The reality was the only way I could have gotten more wet in my motorcycle gear was to go swimming in it….
Despite the ridiculous rainfall, I had an absolute blast!
The Weather Network, Apple iPhone Weather, and Google weather.
All were calling for clear sunny skies 48 hours before my rental. This was used for my decision to put a deposit hold on the bike I wanted to rent. The morning of the rental despite grey skies and a mild shower that had passed through hours earlier, the forecast had been updated to 30% chance of showers until noon then clearing. My sixth sense was guessing heavy rain. Well like they say, always trust what your gut is telling you.
The reality was the only way I could have gotten more wet in my motorcycle gear was to go swimming in it. I have never seen rain like this while on two wheels and I live near Vancouver, BC which is famous for its rainfall. Three different weather forecasts got it completely wrong. I know, I know, first world problems.
Final Thoughts…Would you spend $100 to ride in a down pour?
In the end, the crazy rain just didn’t matter. Despite the ridiculous rainfall, I had an absolute blast! In fact in hindsight I’m glad that the forecast was way off as I may have left my gear at home otherwise and cancelled my rental. Instead I got away from the hotel strip in Waikiki and saw parts of the island often missed by tourists. I rode a brand new beautiful motorcycle through rainy mountain valleys, and past wet empty beaches, and loved every single minute of it. Did I regret bringing my rain liner? Of course, but I had zero regrets about riding that day. While most Canadians were shoveling their driveways, I spent the day on two wheels. Life can be pretty good sometimes.
So now that the first ride of 2013 is completed with a Hawaiian motorcycle rental on a Bonneville, the next question is when to get the plates back on my own Tiger? I’m thinking soon, very soon. (See editor’s note below…)
Editors note: The Tiger had its plates renewed before this article got published. Bring on the spring!