Hi everyone, I am Mike from Sweden. Up here we are rapidly moving from late autumn to winter which means shortening days, freezing nights and roads covered by colorful, but slippery leaves. Snow could be falling any day and most riders have stored their bikes for the standard six month utterly depressive hibernation. So I decided this was a good time to get a new bike I had recently sold my 140+ hp Fazer 1000 which had been a great bike. Powerful, acceptable suspension and superb brakes. Just mounting the saddle made you grow huge horns under the helmet that obliterated all understanding of speed limits. I took it to a track-day and we had a blast. We toured the city and zig zaged between the daily commuter chaos. We tried the local curvy roads but, after a while, I longed for more flexibility and sold it off. Here´s a short clip of us touring the town this summer. <object width="445" height="364"> <embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/_EfN4lOQPDw&hl=sv&fs=1&color1=0x3a3a3a&color2=0x999999&border=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="445" height="364"></object> The decision to change was helped along by the nephews having gotten shiny German beasts that could eat gravel. I also wanted one of those but my budget runs on a different scale. I spent several nights scanning ads for anything within my winter budget. I had almost given up as the days kept getting shorter when I spotted an ad that had nice pics and a inviting price. Called the owner who turned out to be in Norway :huh and slashed the price from low to lower. He was obviously desperate. I was desperate too. Done deal, and I boarded the train to Norway to pick it up. Checked out a street mag on the train from Stockholm to Oslo, while the landscape zipped by. Scandinavia is not heavily populated so there are long stretches of mostly trees and deserted rural landscape between the towns. Changed to a local train in Oslo and headed off to a remote suburb. Not many people on that train... Blind-dating is lottery and I spent my time on that train telling myself the nice pics would come true. The owner picked me up at the station, chatted about everything except bikes on the way to his home, and introduced me to my new bike. I couldn't help but chuckle at the 18 year old thumper with the beauty-box white Samsonite-styled panniers, hand painted fairing and faded glossy seat. Looks a better on pic than in reality don´t they all? Anyway, I thought it was pretty cool. It is essentially a rat so I won´t be calling it a she or a he. It's an it. "Want to try it?" I didn't spot any leaks and here I was, having crossed the country on a whim and the day was coming to an end.. "Naw." So we rushed the paperwork and I packed the boxes and jumped aboard. Managed to get it started by manhandling the rusty choke wire and tried the clutch. WTF? The bike was slowly sputtering awake from cold sleep but what was up with the clutch? It´s a bit stiff he yelled. Just give it a good yank. Right. I finally got a gear in and off we went. During the next 2 days I would yank that clutch with my whole body weight making me wobble over the road at every gear. The rat has wide and lowered foot pegs (which are wonderful) but the standard foot brake lever remains way too high even when adjusted. You can´t see it in the pic but the pedal is so much higher than the foot peg that it defeats any human ankle and braking demands a total lifting of the leg and dosage with a hovering foot. It also turned out to have a serious case of wheezy cough putting it asleep at every slowing opportunity no matter how hard you try to keep it thumping. It doesn't just miss a beat. It goes into a coma. Together with the clutch and the foot brake thing, dropping into towns and red lights was pretty interesting. Don´t ask about the front brake. Let´s just say I wasn't using it. The frame felt ok though, without any major wobbles, and we were on our way home. Norway has great roads for bikers of all kinds and magnificent vistas, although most of the fancy stuff is on the western side. We were heading east and back to Sweden. From time to time, it would sputter asleep and I would take that as a sign to snap shots of where we were. The eastern part of Norway seems to be a lot about farming and the farms probably look like farms in many other places. We rattled along and if it hadn't been for the cold we would have been having a great time. I stopped to change to winter gloves and noticed that somewhere along the way it decided to shed some parts. If it had been a she I would have called her a cantankerous bitch. But it's an it. A rat, and being clunky and dropping parts is what aging bikes sometimes do. As it was, me and the funky rat were getting along ok. After some time we reached the Swedish border. We kept going with frequent stops since the cold was really biting. Why had I not brought the inner liners? Mandatory bike nourishment and hot coffee helped bring some color back into my frozen hands. I gave up on the outskirts of the city Karlstad and found a cheap hotel for the night and treated myself to some celebration over the day's events. All in all, I was liking the bike.