As a motorcycle journalist, you get to do a lot of cool things. Nothing quite tops what Kawasaki invited me to participate in recently, however. How does this sound to you? Ride 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 2000s all morning with the top motorcycle journalists in the United States, end up in the NBC studio parking lot just in time to attend the taping of the Tonight Show, and then hang out with the star of that show, Jay Leno, while looking at Jay’s collection of rare cars and motorcycles. I cut my family vacation in Laguna Seca short by one day to attend this event. It was well worth it.
The Vulcan 2000 ride was really fun. Despite the rather hectic weekend we had in Laguna Seca, and the quick trip back to Southern California for this ride (combined with little sleep in the hotel room the night before) I felt relaxed, and rode fairly well. Despite frequent stops for water (it is still very hot in California, and extremely humid), we got quite a bit of riding in before grabbing lunch.
We rode the big cruisers both stock and modified (I was on a bike for a while that featured a Corbin seat — very comfortable), through some serious twisties with the faster group battling ground clearance issues (as you do on every cruiser) scraping the floorboards of the big 2000 through virtually every corner. What a blast! The Vulcan 2000 is the same bike I remember from our first ride reported on November 19, 2003. That is, powerful, smooth and remarkably nimble for its massive size. The big bruiser felt like it was on rails, and even the brakes failed to fade after repeatedly scrubbing off speed for tight corner entries. As far as I am concerned, the Vulcan 2000 is still the class of the V-twin cruiser field.
After eating, we made the short trip over to the NBC studios for the taping of the Tonight Show. Parked in the number one parking spot for “Jay Leno” was none other than a Kawasaki Vulcan 2000, which Jay would later ride over to the storage facility for his automobile and motorcycle collections.
I have never attended the Tonight show before, and it was fun. Frankly, however, it was far from the highlight of the day. That would come after the show when we received a personal tour from Jay of his collection, and even watched him kick start a couple of bikes, and offer rides to a few of the journalists in an old steam-powered automobile. As you might expect, Jay Leno, despite his wealth and fame, is a very nice person off stage. He is extremely passionate about both motorcycles and cars. I won’t begin to try and describe his entire collection of vehicles (which certainly approaches 1,000), but I will say this. If Jay thinks a car or a bike is cool, he finds one and buys it. Everything from vintage bikes and automobiles dated from the dawn of their eras to modern stuff (including several of the latest supercars) is in his personal collection. The guy loves bikes and cars as much as any of you do. The only difference is he has plenty of money to indulge his fantasies.
I wish I could say that every day in the life of a motorcycle journalist is similar to the one I spent with Kawasaki and Jay Leno recently, but that could not be further from the truth. This was a special day. One I will never forget.