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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Motorcycles Den

Another one of those bikes that the longer you look at it the cooler it gets.  Back when S&S did the World Builder's Showcase, I had a chance to spend 1/2 a day with this bike in a studio.  It was such a gorgeous piece of work, detailed, different and inviting to look at.  Motorcycles Den is still open and running in Japan...

I will find a few more pics and post them soon....loved this bike for sure.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

New interest for me

OK, not really new, I have always envied trials riders.  I position them as some of the best motorcycle riders in the world.  Nope they don't go fast and nope theo stop on a ledgey don't jump 60 feet in the air, but they do things on a motorcycle that many of us would struggle to do in athletic shoes.
I strongly recommend you do a youtube search for trials motorcycles and watch these riders.  Freakin' amazing!  They sit still on a motorcycle, assess what their next move is and then bam!!! they launch the bike up a wall to stop on a ledge.

I was at Race Tech some years ago working on a story for the magazine when the moring break time came around.  One of the guys in the shop fired up a trials bike, slowly rode across the parking lot, jumped up a four foot retaining wall and then rode up a 30-40-degree hill doing a wheelie.  at the top of the hill he tapped the front tire into a tree and that was his pivot point for the turnaround.  he repeated the move about 15 times, rode the bike back into the shop, and then resumed working.  I was all geeked up with about a million questions for him.  Sooner or later I will pick up a trials machine to pop around the area here and climb up and down places you shouldn't really enjoy riding....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What I miss most and least about Los Angeles

The traffic. 

Had I been here with a motorcycle this week, this would have been a lot of fun.  i loved to lane split when I was here, it was exciting, challenging and a great way to sharpen your riding skills.  However, I was here in a rental car and this type of traffic sucks when you get caught in it.  I went from Irvine to City of Industry, to Canoga park and back to Irvine in one loop so I had the chance to see a lot of this....
Back to Wisconsin in the traffic there....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

One of my favorite custom bikes

Ron Simms of Bay Area Custom Cycles has an unmistakable style when it comes to custom bikes.  Back in the early '90s he would line his bikes up in his booth at shows and you would be drawn to the display.  The bikes looked great, wild colors and paint schemes and basically interchangeable sheetmetal.  Industry insiders used to say that if a dust storm came along in Laughlin it would look like 10 of the same bikes awaiting paint.  But that was the secret to Ron's success back then...he built a low, fat fendered/fat stretched gas tank bike that people were attracted to--and they lined up to pay Ron 40-70,000 dollars for his bikes.  Ron knew exactly what he was doing--and I was always impressed by it.

Of all the bikes Ron built, this was my favorite.  it looked fast standing still and if i were ever to build a custom softail again, it would pretty much copy this one..

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Where/When Did You Get Started/

For me, i was eight years dad bought me a go-kart.  Which I kept trading with a neighbor for his mini bike.  Eventually my dad--and his--got wise to what was happening and before another trade could happen..I had a tube frame mini bike powered by a 3.5 HP Tecumseh.  The thing was as bare bones as it could be.  Tube frame, solid fork and a rear brake pedal that pushed a solid metal plate into the rear tire to slow things down.  Looked similar to the bike in the picture...but cruder.

The bike gave me my first lesson in mechanics.  The old man helped me strip it to the frame and we spray painted it with purple metallic Krylon cans.  It was, after all. the winter of 70-71 and metalflake was the stuff.  Got it back together and rode it darn near every day after school.  Some day i will find one, strip it and paint it purple and put it on display in my house.  it deserves that kind of respect, no?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Whatever happened to road etiquette?

I have been around the block a few times in cool cars and even cooler motorcycles. In the late 80s I spent time running an exotic car body shop in Beverly Hills—got to cruise around in the coolest, baddest cars in the Hills (for free—training for my magazine career). In town, on the highway and on trips up the coast, I remember people—car and truck drivers—having road etiquette. Once I made it into the fourth estate and landed a motorcycle magazine job, I basically gave up on car driving, from the early 90s through the end of 2004 I barely put 2000 miles a year on a car. Left La -La land in 2005 for Wisconsin and a new career and had to start driving a car again—apparently there is this thing called winter that motorcycles suck in.

My driving was on back roads and country two laners in the winter, so I didn’t pay much attention to driving habits. But this past summer my wife Marcia and I were faced with a short notice need to be in Williamsburg, Virginia and back to La Crosse, Wisconsin in four days total. What better excuse to roll my motorcycle to the back of the garage and roll out my 2009 Challenger R/T for a road trip? We left with high hopes of adventure, speed, and the camaraderie of the road.

Not so much. First every damn road along the way seemed to have road construction going on. Then the gaps where there was no road construction brought out the worst manners in drivers I have ever seen. No turn signals, abrupt lane changes, tailgating and then slowing down once you move over to let the moron past and erratic truck drivers. Scary erratic truck drivers. More than once I literally avoided an accident because I had a 5.7 liter Hemi available to get me out of the way of a truck that just changed lanes to avoid some putz drifting in his lane as he adjusted his cd player or texted a message home about what he wants for dinner.

I can’t believe that as a country based on getting around by automobile we have lots all of our dignity and class when it comes to road manners. What happened? I remember being on long road trips and really being relaxed, confident that the group of cars I was running with all had the same goal—getting there as quickly as the road allows without almost killing anyone in the cars around us. I think it is time to do something about it—we need to take back the roads and make them a fun place to be for four days straight.

Maybe it starts with getting driver ed classes to teach some road etiquette. Maybe parents need to be a little less concerned with quieting the kids down with dvds and video games in the car and show them what it is like to share the road with others and respect them. Maybe as a magazine it needs to become a personal campaign to stop the morons by teaching them about turn signals, proper passing space and getting the hell out of the left lane when the traffic is going 75mph and you are going 62 for better fuel economy. We need to teach today’s driver how to give a semi enough space to make a move and not come close to my Challenger—and on the topic of trucks, maybe the drivers an opportunity to fill a few pages explaining what they are up against on the road so the mindless can understand what it is like to run 70mph in a 50-ton vehicle.

Sure this is a rant, but imagine my frustration—385 (or whatever the test that day says) horsepower, a satellite radio pumping out the perfect combination of road tunes and 1100 miles each way. I was jacked up for fun and came home dreading ever doing anything like that again. Funny—I blast all over the country on a bike still and never think about this stuff. Mostly because I can slip through any opening there is without feeling trapped or in danger. But rolling in my R/T I was enraged by the lack of driving etiquette. Shall we fix it?