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Thursday, December 16, 2010

And then Steve J sent this in to help me out

Hard to believe it was 32 years ago, shortly before "The Blizzard of '78"
1974 FX in the living room,wire spool coffee table, Dave Mann centerfolds on the wall. Beer courtesy of Anheuser Busch. I've no idea what's in the cigarette.(But I could guess.)

On a warmer note. A "larger" version of myself on another Shovelhead, the Ghetto Glide, at the Lima Ohio Flat track races sometime in the late 80's during my tenure as one of Ken Reid's AMA Road Reps.

Stripped Shovel in the background on an August afternoon in the Buckeye State.

Blonde is the local sheriff's daughter.

And yet another Shovelhead outside a local Honky Tonk.
'Slim Chance& the Can't Hardly Playboys" were probably headlining inside.(with apologies to Billy Joe Shaver)

My current bikes:

Bought this right before Labor Day this year.

The Street Rod has me considering putting the long shocks back on the FXR.

And my feelings toward winter.

Thanks Steve......Good to know i am not alone in my feelings for winter...Howard

Monday, December 13, 2010

I know there are people who read this

and i am now counting on you.  The early winter has really bummed me out.  send me pics, ride stories, something motorcycle related to get me over the next couple days of my funk...
howard.kelly at gmail dot com

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ok I give in...wnter wins

I am just completely bummed...anyone have a time machine for rent? I need it to be April. I hate snow and we are getting about 10 inches of it....ugh....need a star trek transporter so I can blast off to ca for the weekend

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The man totally kept me down today in Lancaster WI

Got a ticket in July in the small town of Lancaster WI. The officer says he had me on radar at 68 in a 55....but I maintain it was bs. He was a jerk when he pulled us over, no talking, no even standing next to us long enough for me to ask if Marcia and I could remove our helmets or was like 90 degrees that day.
Went to court today, he was there, sitting in the room chatting up the assistant DA like they had known each other for years. She turns to me and asks if I will accept the admission of guilt and 3 points instead of 4. I say no as I don't believe I am guilty, and she immediately goes back to chatting up her friend.
Cop goes on the stand and she hits him with a list of questions off a photocopied sheet. It was at that moment I knew there was no chance of me getting anywhere. It was a total set up. Now it was my responsibility to prove the radar gun was faulty...and since I am not an expert at radar guns, I was done.
Nice legal system here in Wisconsin. Especially Lancaster flexibility, no respect for the fact that I had a clean driving record for almost 15 years. Nope just shut the door on their canned way of doing business. I was there on a weekend of exploring and spending tourist money.....I needed gas in my car when I left the courthouse. I nursed it to the next town, I will never spend a penny in that town ever again. They have no flexibility in their set ups, I have only one choice and it is forever boycott all businesses in Lancaster Wisconsin.

Monday, November 1, 2010

a much better rider than me....

i have always believed i was a pretty good rider--not the best by any means--but pretty good.  This guy makes me look like i just started riding...amazing video

Monday, October 25, 2010

Doug asked "where is the quality"

And it is a good question. There is more to building a bike than just the assembly of parts. It needs to start, stop, turn and go over bumps without leaving parts on the ground. Often times a build starts and one of those capabilities is sacrificed in the name of style. And that ends the functionality of the bike. Fine if you admit you are building a show bike. But if you are saying it is a bike to be ridden, well to hen there are some issues.
Back in my magazine days we used to get the very first bikes aftermarket manufacturers built...and most of them saw at least one bike being sent back to be fixed before we tested it. They accepted that the quality and safety of the bikes rider were important and they fixed the bikes so we could do a test. Conversely, a custom bike built too occupy show space and garage space could be built to not ride...but if they couldn't ride they couldn't be included in the magazine..and we were ok with that
I know many more quality builders than I do hacks, but they are out there. If you select a builder, ask him if all the bikes he builds can start, stop, corner and go over bumps...might be an interesting conversation after that

Friday, October 15, 2010

So much to say

How to do it in a few words? Just had good night...the kid that lives next door is like 21 and is on his third bike--a Suzuki Bandit 1200. He washed it today, I know because he borrowed my air dryer and he was returning it tonight. It just so happened my good friend Jeff at church of Choppers and had a cool sweatshirt for sale that I bought in the wrong size, so I gave it to Jonathon tonight. He loved it. And, while he was here he borrowed a helmet, gloves and a jacket so he could take his girlfriend riding tomorrow...his excitement to be out on the bike is infectious and I can't wait too get out this weekend!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


We went for a ride today...unusually warm October day--saw 85 on the digital signs--about a 120 miles total. The sky was filled with high level clouds so while it was nice and warm, there was not blinding sunshine. We left our house and head out to 35 ( that main road that runs to la crosse) but head north onto county road D. From there we went up to Mindoro and and got sort of lost...but not really. I had a general thought as to where we were and it was so beautiful we just kept riding. Once I recovered and got back on some roads I knew we set off for Chaseburg to try and find a farm that we saw for sale. Once we realized we could not find it it was out to Stoddard and then back up the Great River road to La Crosse and then home. The interesting thing is from the time we turned onto County D until we made it back to it 95 miles...not a single traffic light....we were going to take picture of the leaves changing...but we never really stopped

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Something is missing

The excitement and passion of the motorcycle industry...where is it? Why aren't more people making a big deal out of riding and building and seeing bikes? I just don't get it? Why is it a hobby here in America and a way of life in other countries?

I was just in Vegas for a week of work...saw more bikes on display in casinos and stores than I did on the street....ughhhh

Monday, September 20, 2010

29 mpg????

Took the challenger on a short roadtrip this weekend...on the way there it got 29.3 mpg ...which i didn't believe.  on the way home it went an average of 29mpg on the nice for a V-8 Hemi

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Point of reference is everything

I have ridden a lot of motorcycles since I started in 1970. From 3hp mini bikes to the very first Ducati 916 around, from a bone stock Evo to 145ci S&S powered machines. I have seen 178mph (verified on radar and been ticket for 5mph over. I like to think my perspective on what a fast motorcycle feel like is pretty solid.

I bring this up because tonight I met some people looking my Concours 14 over. They had an older Councours and loved it. When we talked about my bike and how fast it was the guy said he had a v65 Sabre back in the day and it was dramatically faster than the new Concours. If memory servers me correct jay "pee wee" gleason was able to push one through the 1/4 in about 10.9 seconds. That means the average guy would be lucky to see 11.8 or so. The Councours has shown pretty consistent 10.5 1/4 mile times with regular magazine guys on them.

I guess the Sabre being the fastest bike he ever rode left an impression on him...and in his mind the 985 memories were fatter than anything today....I would love to have a Sabre, it was a cool bike..and really love to race one....anyone have one?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Top of second gear

Verified it about three times the very top of second gear just as the rev limiter kicks have to love that.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

It's 9/11....

Never forget..but mean it. Never forget that what happened is unforgivable and anyone that gives you liberal conspiracy bs should be punched in the mouth. No hesitation. No thought. Lay them out. It was real and wrong.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

How about guys are realizing what HD guys learned 15 years ago

From the beginning of time, hopping up an engine has been a science. Matching the right combination of air and fuel to the flow in and out of the engine and providing the spark that makes it all work..exciting. When the HD Evo came out, the industry knew this cam with that head and those pipes...would produce X hp and torque. The results were so consistent shops could offer packages and gaurantee a dyne sheet at the end.

Along came the twin cam and the performance world seemed to come to life. But rather than experimental packages of matching one manufacturers cams to heads from another....they started offering complete kits for each range of performance you could want...big displacement, huge torque, high horsepower, whatever...and all designed to be a simple bolt together (ok some machining required but all predictable) package. Perfect for shops to schedule their time

Well, I was watching some early morning car tv and caught a couple shows where they talked about how easy it is to make performance now that XXXX manufacturing makes this kit. Then a week later another show and Zzzz makes a kit....good that they caught on, no?.......

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Los Angeles and Orange County Rant

Where are the motorcycles? I put close to 900 miles on my rental car from Irvine to Agoura Hills (Malibu), Santa Monica, Hollywood, Venice, West LA and down to San Clemente and I barely saw any bikes. What the hell???? I rode every day when I lived here just because of the traffic, now it seems everyone is planted in a car for the ac and satellite radio...seriously, I really did not see many bikes on the road...strange for Cali....
Back to WI today...breaking the bike out first thing tomorrow...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Almost three weeks????

I have to get better at this blog thing...almost three weeks and nothing. Ok, so I have been on the bike a lot, put about 1600 miles on since the new tires. Also had the front rotors replaced under warranty. Bike stops much nicer pulsation in the brake lever.
Off to LA for a week...see why I can find to write about....

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

John Reed's Bikes

Look at the bikes...then look up John if you have not heard of him...amazing guy

and another

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

back in the day

there was a day, a great day, where i was being paid to do this. Back in the Hot Rod Harley magazine days, Kenny Buchanon wanted to illustrate how changing the wheels on your bike made it handle better. we came up with the idea of renting the Streets of Willow (at willow springs) and using his 1200 sportster. We started with the stco 19 and 16 inch wheels and i went out and rode his bike as hard and as fast as I could. Then he installed a set of 19 and 18 inch wheels and I repeated the actions. finally we put a pair of 18-inch wheels on the bike and I was definitely faster. I will have to dig out the lap times one day, but this was an awesome day. what a great memory to have....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Damn rocks in the corners

Was treated to a huge pucker factor yesterday. Left the office to check out a few roads I found on the map that seemed like fun and would still send me in the general direction of home
The first few miles were nice...rolling roads through cornfield and farms. Not many corners but a scenic ride. I crested a hill and wow....some great turns and elevation changes.
The road transitioned into another road that was even more I upped the speeds and started pushing the Kawasaki into the corners and enjoying the relatively new tires. I was laughing in my helmet as I came around a fairly tight left turn when the front end stepped out a few inches ...not enough too make me hit the ground, but enough to shake me up. As I went into the sweeping right that followed I figured out why that turn felt loose also...there was a quarry on my left, so rocks and dust must have been all over the road. I started to slow down for the next left, but I was still moving pretty good when both tires stepped out for s very brief line change....I almost peeled the leather off my Corbin seat and at the same time I tried to relax so I wouldn't tense up on the bars and was a bad moment in my life.
Thankfully the bike and tires are damn good and I didn't crash...but it did shake me up for a few miles. However, I calmed down enough to run the last few good corners of the road and enjoy the ride....
The lesson here? Allow for anything, be prepared for everything, and always, always stay relaxed on the is fun after all!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

360 Miles--some smart--some not so smart

A couple weeks ago I had the weather and the schedule to allow me to ride to work pretty much every day.  Rather than take the straight shot home each night, i delved off onto some of the back roads to get to my house.  Each day I felt a bit more confident on the roads--i knew where the gravel seemed to be accumulating, had a sense of the traffic--and started upping the speeds.  Found the bike sliding in some sharper corners but I attributed it to dust on the road.  Turns out, as a co-worker pointed out to me, my front tire was showing the tread wear bars.  The back was center-worn from all the highway rides to and from work, but I hadn't really noticed the front getting that bad that quickly.  so....a few calls around town and i lined up some tires from my local shop.  Continental Conti Motions...$253 installed...a pretty good deal.

Yesterday I rode down to the shop and had them popped on...left the shop and head to Madison to meet Marcia as she had a class down there over the weekend into next week.  I had about 40 miles on the tires and took a really nice 270 degree, slightly downhill, positive camber freeway exchange.  Felt like the bike was going to lean forever, i instantly liked them.  The ride from La Crosse to Madison is about 135 miles of boring highway.  there are better ways to go, but I was on a time schedule--so i substituted with getting on and off the highway on the interesting looking exits.  The new tires stuck really well.

Took one side cut into Madison through Barraboo.  The road has some really nice, fast bends and a shot through three traffic circles (when times are tough you get your corners where you can).  The fast sweepers were so easily dispatched at 100mph it was scary.  The Concours has always felt like it handled well, but the new tires took it up a level.

So...the ride down was as good as I could make it--for a straight shot make some time ride. But, preparedness is something we motorcyclists are supposed to take seriously--and i blew it.  See I forgot to bring a clear face shield for my helmet and my two and a half hour ride would see me heading home in the dark for the last 45 minutes or so.  now if you don't live in Wisconsin you probably don't get to see the hundreds of dead deer along the roads that we Wisconsinites do each year.    That thought reminded me of a ride home from Sturgis i did with my friend Dave Withrow

Here is the short version--We rolled out of Spearfish at about 9 am...expecting to do a 500-600 mile day and find a hotel when we got tired.  Sometime just after Denver where the temperature was about 60--a sharp contrast to the 90 degree temps of Spearfish when we left, we found out that Colorado was pretty much sold out of hotel rooms.  There were about 10 different festivals going on and hotels were a commodity.  but about the 750 mile mark in the day darkness had come upon us and we were coming through the fairly unpopulated part of the state.  I dropped speed dramatically and at the next gas stop Dave starts yelling at me the minute my helmet came off "why did you slow down?  I was going crazy behind you going that slow!"  I said "didn't you see the hundreds of deer on the side of the road?" Dave suddenly smiled and said "um, no.  Notice the dark face shield i have on?  I can't see anything but your taillight.  OK, you go ahead and set the pace"... we ended up finding a hotel at about the 900 mile mark, at about 3 a.m..

In my case it wasn't quite that ad, I have a taller Cee bailey shield on the Concours that allows me to put it all the way up and keep my face shield open...but considering that I have saddlebags, it wasn't so smart not packing the clear shield.

More tire reporting to I have to go wash about a billion bugs off the bike

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

the same old crap is starting again

i am seeing people on the net mouthing off about custom bike builders..."they don't build practical bikes....they don't build, they assemble....all that money and no one rides the bike, it just sits in an office lobby so people can take pictures..."


perfect.  that is what they were built for.  to make people aware that custom bikes are really cool.  Much like a Chip Foose or Boyd Covington built car.  Those things can cost up to $500,000...damn skippy I wouldn't take it to pick up gas for the lawn mower.  it would sit wherever I could show it off without getting bugs, birdcrap or door dings.  I might drive it on a perfect day.

If I had a full blown custom bike that cost a boat load of money I would treat it the same way.  I would use whatever regular bike I had for the beating around and show off my rad custom when the time was right--and i wouldn't feel bad about it.  Because if i scaraped the cash together for it I would be proud i pulled it of.  If i were rich i would be protecting my investment.

So...complain, gripe and insult those builders if you must, but try to understand you just don't get it.  Not every bike is built to meet your needs...unless you start paying for everyone's motorcycle.  if you don;t pay for it, I am not sure your opinion is relavant....

gonna ride my motorcycle to work now...wonder if you are riding today or in your car?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I have to slow down

Snuck the bike out for two days in a row. Granted it's just to and from work--OK, I added in a little extra ride after work yesterday through the backroads--but these daily commutes are going to send me to jail. Normally in my car the 29 mile drive takes me 30-32 minutes...mostly around 72mph so the troopers won't pay much attention to the Challenger.
These past days I am finding myself making it to work in about 23 minutes. why? because I keep looking down at the speedometer and seeing 100-plus mph. It is effortless on the Concours and it both impresses me and scares me. I am impressed because the bike is so amazing but scared because it doesn't phase me.
I sold my gsxr750--bored out to a 900--back in 1997 because I found myself doing wheelies on it at 120 mph and not being phased. I am going to learn a little respect for this bike as I want to keep it.....should be an interesting couple month process.....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

much better....

rode to work today....made up some time on the way and still turned decent fuel economy...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Been a long time...since I rode my bike....

Between travel last week and the weather, i have not been on a bike since Saturday a week ago.  It is killing me.  But not all is lost, the cables and brake lines came in for my GS850 project and I hope to get some time to work on it this week.  Still projecting an end of June time for being on the road.  Cannot wait.

No new pics to show though...but I am getting closer!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

from the roaring ride...

note the trans am that went on the was sweet
i tried really hard to get a shot of the Kawasaki parked in front of this display...kills me too.  that is a Honda sl125 on the left...
registration went and bike riders mingling together

we took the bike--saddlebags full of rain gear...just in case

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Roaring RIde this Saturday In Onalaska WI

Lots of fun--cars and bikes...well worth the use of your Saturday,  Benefit some kids that need help, see some cool bikes nd cars, get in about 130 miles of great scenery and enjoy some good food, a killer shirt and a live band at the after party...
more info at

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Time to ride

So it's just about summer in Wisconsin...temps have been pushing 90 and the sun strong. More than anything else it means I can be on the bike as much as I want which is really great. My Kawasaki Concours 14 is fast, handles great and really pumps me up when I look at it. But in the back of my garage is a bike that has been getting quite a bit of attention from me, a 1979 Suzuki GS 850. All I have left to do is fit new throttle cables and brake lines--here soon from Barnett, a company that will make you custom cables when you need them.
Then some new brake pads, tires and I should be on the road. It will be half as fast as the Kaw, handle one third as well and be much less reliable. But I can't wait to ride it. Not only will it transport me to and from work each day, it will transport me back in time. Back to when one bike did everything, like this bike will.
It will have superbike bars, a cheap (really, right off eBay) 1/4 fairings and that's all the changes. But with that it will allow me to run it in the twisties much better than when it had the stock touring bars, do interstate cruising because it has great ergonomics, carry things on the big flat seat and turn heads because it is 31 years old...
I will post some pics when it's done...if I stop riding it

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Remember when everyone wanted a cool custom?

This cartoon--if you have never spent time reading Bloom County and you have a slightly warped sense of humor, you are missing out--nailed it perfectly....

Friday, May 14, 2010

This was the end of a pretty good day... we arapped up the awards ceremony at the S&S 50th anniversary this shot was might recognize a few people here

Thursday, May 13, 2010

more incredible customs

from the by Micheal Lichter

Kendall Johnson
Kim Suter

Donnie Smith

Martin Brothers

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Choppers, Bobbers and Customs

So last year I wrote two books on custom bikes with the amazing photography of Michael Lichter as the visual aspect of them.

I was lucky to be able to do these books--I always wanted to have a book onb a shelf with my name as the author. Some of the bikes i used in the book really were amazing and still stay with me in my mind..and now on my blog.
Jerry Covington's machine

Kris Krome

Fred Kodlin

Cook Customs

and Trevelen

I will probably add a few more of these great bikes later this week

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Super moto----Sort of.....

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Not too long ago I was smitten with the idea of super moto.....taking dirt bike and making it semi street legal and pushing it way past the limits on twisty roads...stupid, but not as bad as doing it on a liter bike with 170 hp.

So I lucked out and Marcia gave me a green light on a Honda xr650l when we moved to Wisconsin as my commuter bike. I quickly found that semi knobbies suck in corners. A connection with a friend, Tom Mcgann helped me with a set of 17-inch wheels. I added a set off Metzeler sport radials, a larger front rotor and I was set. It was stupid fun and I had wheelies in four gears down to a science.

I quickly realized I was treating the bike like a toy...and promptly sold it. That is when a bike is dangerous, when you stop respecting it. I will get another one day when I grow up....

Sunday, May 2, 2010

slimey crud should definitely go sometime...

The run ends in Leland Wi, near Baraboo. Leland is a nothing town (no offense if you live there) that twice a year--sping and fall--gets invaded by hundreds, maybe thousands of bikes. Not just Harleys, not just sport bikes, but everything you can think of.
I even saw my favorite bike ever, the Suzuki GT-750--three cylinder, water-cooled well as plenty of cool bikes