With 2009 drawing to a close, it was no surprise that Kawasaki came calling for their machine to be returned. Alas, the suspension plans with Race Tech and Progressive Suspension never came to fruition, but frankly, the rear end became much more tolerable after I swapped in the Mustang seat. So last month, I stripped the girl back down to stock and steeled myself for another run down to L.A. from Portland. It being November, I knew there'd be weather issues along the way, and Mother Nature didn't disappoint: much of the I-5 corridor had snow in the passes, so I was forced to take the coastal route. The detour added 350 miles and two days, but through it all, the V2K was ol' reliable: rock solid through rain and hail as well as 35-degree mornings, starting up without complaint and running smoothly even through the worst Bay Area traffic. I was pleasantly reminded of how damn good the stock pipes sound and run, too. The motor is a brute, but never in an obnoxiously aggressive or abrupt way, it just always seemed to be there, with gobs of torque standing at the ready.