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Sunday, March 28, 2010

A 30 inch wheel.....

why?  I can't even explain why I don't like this so much, but mostly its because it looks funny.  Forget turning a perfectly good for almost anything bagger into something that looks good on a black and white checkered garage floor, the fact is it looks funny....

Maybe I am old, maybe i ride too much, maybe I have lost my connectyion to what is cool in custom bikes, but I just don't like it....

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Just ride....

It was a balmy 39 degrees when i opened the garage door this morning.  Didn't matter.  It was above freezing and pushing to 60-ish degrees for my ride home and I didn't want to miss that.  So I slid on the FXRG pants, jacket liner, jacket and Aerostich fleece neck warmer, helmet and gloves and set out.  My route to the office is the same each time, along the lake for a mile, cut out through the farms for 2.5 and then its 26 miles of freeway (highway, interstate or whatever you call it) and I am at work.  In my Challenger it takes 28-30 minutes.  Somehow it took me only 24 minutes today--might have been repeated bursts of 100mph but i might not actually ever admit that i did that--it's illegal to go over 65 mph you know...

The point is, it could have been more comfortable for me to hop in the 5.7 litre Hemi powered Challenger and dig the BackSpin channel on Sirius all the way here, but I layered up and took the bike because it makes me so much happier.  Whatever you have, just get out and ride it.  I promise layers or not you will be happier....

Now this pic isn't from the morning...but i just wanted to add something besides words

Saturday, March 20, 2010

very high on my i-want-one-list

When i was in high school--pre drivers license--my dad had a Suzuki GT-380.  It was black with a two-stroke three cyclinder engine, and i thought it was the coolest bike ever.  I remember sitting on the back of it with my dad riding--no more like looking around for who he might race--all over the streets of Philadelphia.  In my mind this was the greatest bike there was--I might have thought that because of all the fun we had racing people on it--or because I was like 12 and we regularly went over 100mph on it.  Whatever it was, I was in love with the bike and snuck it out of the garage to ride it a few times around the neighborhood.  i am pretty sure my dad knew that i was stealing his bike, but he never said anything to me. 
In reality it was a crappy bike with poor suspension, shitty brakes and chrome trim in places it just didn't need to be, but each time i see a pic of one it takes me back to my childhood.
I regret not buying one for myself in the early 80s when they were plentiful and not collectible, but sooner or later i will find one that is not abused or valued as a retirement fund for the current owner.  if you spot one, let me know

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Roaring Ride--La Crosse 6/5/2010

I have been involved in this ride since the beginning.  It benefits Family and Children's Center in the La Crosse area and its a great day.  However it rains pretty much every time we have the ride.  Last year, not only did it rain, but it was damn cold.  My wife Marcia was a trooper and sat on the back of the bike the whole day as we chugged around, but it wasn't really fun.
So after the ride at the planning meeting for this year I thought--I have a Dodge Challenger, it's a cool car.  I would take it on a "poker run" style ride...why don't we include really cool cars?  Then, if it rains, I can drive the Challenger and not feel like a weenie for not riding....

So with buy in from fellow committee members we set out to do a promo for this years ride.  I gathered up a crowd of cool cars and bikes by Lake Onalaska and shot this for the save the date cards....i think it should be a t-shirt too, but I may be biased.
if youa re around the area in June check it out
If its raining I will be the guy in the White Challenger......

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Smokin' hot bagger???

OK so it wasn't really that fast, but the CVO bagger when it came out was a big deal.  Problem was, how would we make it look cool in the magazine?  Well, especially back in like 2002 a standing-next-to-the-bike-burnout should be a way to grab some attention.  We ran over to Samson Exhaust and borowed Kenny's parking lot for what was to be a picture posted on many websites around the country....I felt kinda goofy having a helmet, jacket and gloves on for the shot...but I did ride away afterwards to cool the engine down a little.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Colder weather made easier

no secret, i like wearing the right gear.  One of my favorite pieces of cooler weather gear is the Wind Triangle from Aerostich.  Its made from a Cordura like outer material with a fleece backing and closes with Velcro.  Wrap it around your neck, tuck it into your jacket and buckle your helmet over it and your neck and chin stay nice and warm.  you can also wet it and put it on your nack backwards on those brutal Death Valley rides to help keep you cool. 
if you have never checked out aerostich you should

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Welcome to the blog--Trading Bro Status for Clear Mirrors

As usual, I am a day late and a dollar short on something--in this case blogging.  I am going to try to post some random thoughts on motorcycles--not just Harleys or choppers--but all bikes because I really do like all bikes.  Certainly some more than others, but I still like them all.

So when I first planned to do this blog LAST YEAR IN JUNE I wrote this little piece that will follow...sums up quite a bit of what I feel these days

Trading “Bro” status for clear mirrors

Long-time, incredibly loyal Motorcyclist readers will remember my name. As the shop foreman back in 1993 through early 1994, I was always weaseling my way—and my name—on the pages of the magazine. Appealing as washing motorcycles, schlepping them around in a van easily mistaken for an abducter van, it wasn’t actually writing about motorcycles that I was doing. Nope, I was standing on the outside looking in at what I really wanted in my life. Come mid-1994, I jumped ship to assume a position as Feature Editor at Hot Rod Harleys, Petersen Publishing’s foray into the wildly successful H-D world. Then staffers John Burns, Tim Carrithers, Jason Black and Mitch Boehm ragged on me with every Harley joke you could imagine. But the bottom line was, I was hanging up my wash rag for a seat at the table of the fourth estate.

I was out of place in the V-Twin world, wearing an Aerostich suit, full face helmet and doing wheelies and burnouts on Harleys. I wasn’t so concerned with being seen as I was with having a damn good time on a motorcycle. Every chance I had to go a step further on those pages, I did. And I did my best to embrace the Harley world, even selling my GSXR 750 and replacing it with a Buell S2. Then I really stepped up my Harley credentials, I bought a Dyna. That bike--and the next Dyna to follow--had everything possible done to make it handle better, stop better and go faster. No lowering, no straight pipes, no ape hangers—and I wore a full face helmet each time I rode it. I was an outsider in the Harley world, but I was at least getting paid to ride motorcycles and write about them.

Well, things change and I recently left my connections to the V-Twin world behind and bought the first in-line four cylinder motorcycle I have owned since 1996. Actually it is also the only in-line four that I have put more than 30 miles on in those years as well. The day I had the deposit on my Dyna come in (thank you EBAY!) I rolled down to the Kawasaki dealer and took a test ride on a 2009 Kawasaki Concours 14. Because I had not been riding sport bikes and the like didn’t mean I had not been following the other side of the motorcycle world and I knew what I wanted. The ride was short; no more than 10 miles, but it was enough to know I would own the bike.

So, its 1000 miles into the new ride and I am in heaven. There are some downsides though, as I discovered the first night of ownership. As a rule, regardless of what brand motorcycle I buy, it comes home, rolls into my garage and I tighten everything. The two or three hours spent are well worth it. So I roll into the garage, click on the ceiling fan and the radio, roll the shop seat up to the bike and reach into the toolbox—oh damn. I own like three metric tools, everything else is standard American sizing like you would use on…a Harley. I used to have a huge array of metric tools, but some jerk felt he needed them more than I did when he stole them from the storage area of my old Santa Monica apartment. So it’s off to Sears for a restocking of the toolbox. While not a terrible way to spend the night--who doesn’t like shopping for new tools—it was an unexpected surprise.

The next adjustment came in the form of wind noise. I had not heard wind noise in so long, I forgot how the shape of a helmet in conjunction with the jacket you are wearing can make for different levels of wind noise. See the last H-D had a 116ci S&S engine that pumped out just over 120hp and 125 ft/lbs of torque. It needed that Vance and Hines Pro Pipe to make the numbers it did. The pipes were not as harsh as straight pipes, but they sure were not quiet. That monstrous canister on the Concours 14 manages to strangle every sound coming from the engine, so I hear the wind again. Looks like some new helmet shopping is in order soon.

Finally, my biggest adjustment came this weekend when, after installing a new Corbin seat with backrest, my wife Marcia and I hopped on the 14 for a nice ride along the Mississippi to nearby Red Wing, Minnesota. The route leads you along Ol’ Miss winding through plenty of small towns including Wabasha, yes that Wabasha, where you can find Slippery’s Bar from the movies Grumpy Old Men and Grumpier Old Men. And my friends back in California question why I live here. OK, back to the big adjustment, apparently my “Bro” card was pulled when I sold the Dyna and I didn’t even know it. See on all my rides for the last four years of living in Wisconsin, tens of thousands of Harley riders have given me the “Bro” wave. You know, a fingerless gloved hand slides off the left hand grip and points to the ground much like God points to Adam in Michelangelo’s famous painting—the “Bro” wave. Same roads, same jacket and helmet, just no dudes on Harleys waving at me…don’t they realize I spent close to 15 years as a card carrying “Bro”? I packed nothing but H-D specific tool kits, knew the difference between a pan and a shovelhead. I could pick out the fake S&S teardrop aircleaner in a crowd. Dammit I still have a book about custom Harleys coming out this year, but the minute I swung a leg over that oh-so-quiet-and-smooth Kawasaki I lost my status.

But not all is lost friends, no, no I say, not all is lost. See, on this 200 mile cruise today I saw something I didn’t for about 15 years now, a clear image in my mirrors. For 15 years the mirrors of my Harley vibrated so badly that everything behind me looked like a third year impressionist art student had filled them in. So, I lost my street cred, my “bro” status, but I can see what is behind me. Maybe it’s not such a bad trade off.