I finally got the chance to work the cobwebs off my Katana this weekend, after enduring weeks of unusual wet and cold weather. I had just finished repairing some gremlins in the speedo gauge, unsticking the camchain tensioner, as well as resetting the suspension settings from the last decent ride in summer. Time to get to know the old girl again! The Katana is an odd bike. I still haven't figured out what I'm supposed to do with it. Hopefully a 300-ish kilometre ride up the Putty Road, then down to Windsor, then back home to the Blue Mountains will help reset my brain. My first sensation is one of inertia. It's a heavy thing in many respects. It was regarded as a rev-happy sportster in its heyday, but today it is feeling car-like in picking up its revs. Riding a Honda Hornet 600 last week only amplified the sensation that the Katana took its sweet time to build up power. Nevertheless, there is enough grunt to push me down the great Western Highway with the holiday traffic from 2000rpm onwards. The fun began from 4000rpm and up, with the whole bike vibrating like an electric toothbrush to its 8000rpm redline. The power wasn't so much a kick in the pants, but rather a gentle surge, more in common with a v-twin than a modern 4-cylinder screamer. I'm not left wanting for any more power (due to the strange handling, more on that later), but it does feel a bit dull after having ridden modern sportsbikes. Perhaps it's like watching episodes of Monkey or The Goodies - you remember them as awesome when you were a kid, but seeing the re-runs again makes you doubt the nostalgia after a decade of Simpsons and South Park. Next I tried to come to terms with the chassis again. I still had memories of being pummelled nearly to death by the rock hard suspension on my last Putty Road ride - I had set the rear preload to 'Sport" on the original shocks (as per the factory manual) - and therefore softened things up before I'd left. How can I sum up the chassis performance? It's like someone took a cruiser frame, then put rearset pegs and clip-on bars on it without changing anything else. I guess that's not too far from the truth. The rear suspension has minimal travel, and we're looking at a large 19" front wheel / 17" rear wheel - not much different to your average Harley Dyna. Throw on some tall and skinny Bridgestone crossplies, and we're instantly dealing with old school dynamics. Lots of heave-ho is required to pull the old Kat into a corner, and it kept its line without a hint of bar wiggle. Nevertheless there is the sensation that you're not quite in touch with what's going on - perhaps those tall tyre sidewalls are flexing? I'm rediscovering the meaning of 'muscle bike' as well - every corner needs commitment and body language. The seating ergonomics were controversial in 1982, but I think the torture rack reputation is undeserved. I didn't experience any numb bum at all. Perhaps the foetal crouch is just redistributing the pain evenly through the body! I decided about 20km out from the Halfway House that a motorcyclist can only go as fast as their vision, brakes and suspension lets them. Anything above 100km/h on the bumpy Putty Road surface turned the whole bike into a bucking bronco - it was like sitting on an imbalanced washing machine on spin dry. However, the bike would instantly revert to placid Hindu cow the moment I hit the smooth resurfaced parts of the road. There's a lot to be said for modern multilink swingarms and cartridge forks. I only have one word for the single piston, rigid disc, anti-dive braking system: pants. Yes, it will stop the bike, but in the same way that the pull start on your mower works - eventually something will happen, but you just don't know when. So why have I got one of these? And why is this my second one, despite the seemingly unfavourable comments I've just written? It's because I believe motorcycling, as a recreational activity, is about passion (and some degree of fantasy). It was one of my dream bikes when I was in primary school, flipping through the Tamiya plastic model catalogues and the leftover Two Wheels magazines in the library. It's about finally getting my hands on a real one, and then slowly discovering, and learning to love, the true nature of the bike. The only other analogy I can use is a relationship - you meet someone that for some reason is attractive to you, and then over time slowly discover their true personality and qualities. I'm trying very hard not to use the label 'character', but I think you know what I mean. I hope this little review may whet some of the youngsters' appetites to try out classic biking - there are rewards from a long term relationship that you just don't get from a one night stand!