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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Introduction to me, eh? I am 47 years old, and I have never driven a car. The Ninja 400 is my fifth bike if you count a couple scooters.

I started with a 50cc Yamaha Zuma II scooter, which I rode for about 14000 miles (odometer didn't have enough digits, so it had rolled over back to 0 at 10000). I'd take that thing over Highway 9 in California -- maxed out at 15-20 mph uphill, but its big fat tires, removed centerstand and no knees hanging out meant for a fun time downhill. I even caught and passed a "real" motorcycle once! Eventually it locked up on me -- perhaps the chain that held the gas cap and had fallen off into the tank at some point ended up sucked into the fuel line. I don't know.

Not having much money, and being a scrawny fellow who can't handle a big bike anyway, I went then to a used 1987 Honda CH150 Elite scooter. Again, rode it beyond its intentions, e.g. trips from Cupertino to Sacramento, which was basically three hours at continuous full throttle. With a max speed of 65 mph, I could draft up behind a big rig, and try to get past before my momentum died out. Sometimes it would take a few attempts to push through their side wash (crouched down with one arm behind my back) and finally get around 'em! Eventually it was time for a "real" bike so that one was retired.

It was then a 1999 (I think) Kawasaki Ninja 250. At that time I had a commute of 40 miles each way, so was putting on about 15000 miles per year. Fun bike for the mountains too. Just before 60000 miles it started eating metal, so it went for parts to a shop that worked on a lot of 250 Ninja racers.

Off then to a barely used 1993 Yamaha XJ600S ("Seca II" or "Diversion" depending on your country). Had only 3000 miles on it when I got it. Now it has about 80000 (odometer cable broke and not replaced for about two years so I'm not entirely sure!). A few years ago, clutch failure. Thrust washer broke apart. Not too mechanically inclined but managed to take the clutch apart and replace it. Then six months ago, same failure. That time I replaced the entire clutch but for the basket which I don't have the tools to do. This past Wednesday, it failed again. Bah. The cam chain is making a racket and the tensioner is maxed out anyway, so I decided to give up on it.

So on Thursday I walked into a dealership with a wad of cash and bought the last Ninja 400 they had in stock. Black, non-ABS, California model (although in Nevada, I guess they have to sell the California version because we're so close to the border that California residents might be buying here). I would have preferred ABS as I do ride all year round and for half the year my morning commute is in sub-freezing temperatures (sometimes even below zero Fahrenheit), and I do occasionally get caught in the odd snowstorm. But I've never had ABS and ridden that 600 here for nine years, so I'm pretty good about applying brakes with care when it's wet and a little icy.

The 400's stock tires are a bit of a concern as they have pretty much no tread, so when it starts to rain and snow again I may need to change them out for safety's sake to something better suited for the wet. The fatter tires will be a bit trickier in standing water during heavy rains too, I reckon. The 250 and the 600 had narrower tires that cut through standing water with ease.

I do have to get used to the less-upright seating again after so many years in the XJ600's touring stance! And of course the first day I went to work in the morning, I instinctively reached down for a choke... oh yeah, fuel injection! Never had that before...

Anyway, whereas lately I've been not wanting to just "go for a ride" in order to preserve the aging XJ600, now I want again to start going for a ride just for the heck of it! My wife does not ride, however, so it's just a solo thing. As long as I tell her I'm going out for a while and don't just decide to explore some back roads on a whim instead of coming straight home from work one day...!
 

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Welcome to the forums keeper...
That has to be the best introduction ever, your a real go getter. Congrats on the new ninja 400 snow addition.. Theres a bunch of nice folks here from all walks of life and plenty of information about your new ride.

I'm in las Vegas, and fortunately don't have to brave your kind of weather - I don't envy you one bit... but absolutely respect your capabilities to command a two wheeled vehicle in such a harsh environment. I bet you have some amazing stories, Ill be watching for them - Take care sir and be safe.
 

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Howdy, I enjoyed reading your back story. We have two things in common, age and both being scrawny! Makes for a great PTW ratio :biggrin:
60,000 miles out of your old N250 is impressive.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yeah, I don't see the need for anything more powerful... and heck, I wouldn't mind the suspension being a little softer actually! We light people don't weigh it down very much... though I have put on 30 lbs of old-age gut, I'm still only 130 lbs or so (60 kg).

As for snow stories, the worst was going over the mountains into California and back one day/night on the XJ600. There was only a 20-percent chance of snow, so I figured, what the heck. On the way back, a blizzard. Near the area of Kirkwood ski resort already over an inch was on the ground and piling on fast. I kept moving, getting sideways in a straight line as I powered slowly uphill, for if I had stopped I'd have been stranded. 4x4s were blowing past me. I prayed that they realized I was not able to turn much at all, staying perfectly upright. Using up all the road, finally got over the summit, skated my way down and finally out of the storm. Phew. On another trip over those mountains, a funny moment was hitting a storm of freezing rain. It was like being in a popcorn machine as all the ice bounced off me, off the tank, and back up in front of me. I actually started laughing.

I try to avoid riding if there's a chance of accumulating snow (wife has to take me to work!). Sometimes the weather report ends up a bit wrong, but usually it's nothing worse than this in those situations:

In the dead of winter when it's well below freezing in the mornings, I wear Ansai Mobile Warming battery-powered heated gloves.
 

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Hi Keeper, I actually bought my bike (solar yellow / gray) from Michael's Cycle Works down in Carson because I saved a couple hundred bucks through the Costco auto program. They actually had it in their system as the green KRT version, so they were a bit surprised when they opened it up. Worked out for me - that was my first choice - and I'm loving the bike so far.

I'm a new rider so this is my first bike - didn't take long at all to get comfortable on it. I'm still in the break-in period so I'm slowly chipping away at the miles while exploring some new roads in / around Reno. Really looking forward to being able to ride around Tahoe and to Virginia City. If you find / know of any awesome roads in the area, I'd love to hear about them! Maybe I'll see you around, and I hope you enjoy your new ride!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yeah, I rode up to Virginia City and back from Carson just to get a feel for it, doing the loop up the truck route (Occidental Grade, the run of the Virginia City Hillclimb races) and down the "normal" route through Gold Hill and Silver City. Going down Geiger Grade into Reno might be nice too. I used to do that side when I lived in Reno for a year.

If you go up to Virginia City, you might consider Six Mile Canyon Road into Dayton. I did that once, in the dead of night, on my old bike. (Actually I went the other way, as I had lived in Reno at the time and went down to Fallon via Fernley to see the races at Rattlesnake Raceway, then returned home via Six Mile Canyon and Geiger Grade.) Just note that as a less-traveled road, not all tight turns have warning signs before them. Similarly, I once tried Monitor Pass between Topaz Lake and Markleeville -- no road signs and some really surprising turns. Nice views though.

One of these days I want to do a lap around Lake Tahoe. I've only ever gone between South Lake and Carnelian Bay around the Nevada side, so much of the California side is unexplored for me. For you coming from Reno, definitely do the Mount Rose Highway over to Incline Village. And for travel to Sacramento, I suggest Highway 50 over Interstate 80, as the latter is basically a fast motocross track. Bumpy as can be. Highway 50 is much more pleasant. Most of my trips into California are to Sutter Creek, which I do via Highway 88 (Carson Pass). Really nice views there, and but for one or two months of the year, there's always snow on the sides of the road near the summit. Prepare for the temperature changes!

If you find yourself in South Lake, you might take a detour down toward Minden via Kingsbury Grade (Highway 207), but take a left onto 206 through Genoa and Jacks Valley Road which comes out here in Indian Hills south of Carson City. I have explored Old Clear Creek Road in Carson City (Lincoln Highway) which now runs all the way through to Highway 50 because of new housing developments and a golf course down there, but the road is not maintained (there's even a sign warning you to this effect), so there are some rough patches.
 

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Awesome stuff man, thanks for taking the time to write that up! It sounds like there are plenty of great spots to explore in the area... really lookin forward to getting out there and seeing them. I've gone through and created a checklist on my phone for the routes you've mentioned so I can start checking them off :).
 

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Yeah, I don't see the need for anything more powerful... and heck, I wouldn't mind the suspension being a little softer actually! We light people don't weigh it down very much... though I have put on 30 lbs of old-age gut, I'm still only 130 lbs or so (60 kg).

As for snow stories, the worst was going over the mountains into California and back one day/night on the XJ600. There was only a 20-percent chance of snow, so I figured, what the heck. On the way back, a blizzard. Near the area of Kirkwood ski resort already over an inch was on the ground and piling on fast. I kept moving, getting sideways in a straight line as I powered slowly uphill, for if I had stopped I'd have been stranded. 4x4s were blowing past me. I prayed that they realized I was not able to turn much at all, staying perfectly upright. Using up all the road, finally got over the summit, skated my way down and finally out of the storm. Phew. On another trip over those mountains, a funny moment was hitting a storm of freezing rain. It was like being in a popcorn machine as all the ice bounced off me, off the tank, and back up in front of me. I actually started laughing.

I try to avoid riding if there's a chance of accumulating snow (wife has to take me to work!). Sometimes the weather report ends up a bit wrong, but usually it's nothing worse than this in those situations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ugw7wXzkXQo

In the dead of winter when it's well below freezing in the mornings, I wear Ansai Mobile Warming battery-powered heated gloves.
I watched the video and I would be scared to death of hitting slush and wiping out... Ive driven on roads with snow and slid almost wrecking when I try and stop, even driving my truck when i hit ice you ca feel it slipping, ya no way Im riding in the snow again, Rain - Love it, Snow - Scared to death...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Awesome stuff man, thanks for taking the time to write that up! It sounds like there are plenty of great spots to explore in the area... really lookin forward to getting out there and seeing them. I've gone through and created a checklist on my phone for the routes you've mentioned so I can start checking them off :).
Yesterday I did the lap around the lake. The southwest portion has some really twisty bits (I think three hairpins marked for 10 mph). Overall it's about 100 miles to circumnavigate the lake. Seems a good way to get some miles on it for break-in! Might have to do it the other way round next, but going counter-clockwise sure made for some amazing views!
 
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