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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

when riding is not a "special occasion" but an everyday thing

It is no secret that I enjoy social media. I would probably say, in order, I enjoy Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and make use of them most of the week. Why I enjoy it is not as much about keeping up with friends, my real friends get direct contact from me, but to see what the motorcycle owners of the USA are doing.

Yes owners, not riders. See, that vast group of people I see on social media prattle on and on about this special occasion they rode their motorcycle. And as such, the once, or dare it be, twice a week they ride becomes a special occasion. Really? Why is that? Bike choice? Outfit choice? Don't really love riding as much as owning a motorcycle?

See, here is the thing. For the most part, with a touch of planning, there is nothing you cannot do on a motorcycle--within reason. True you can't carry lumber, bags of concrete or a flat screen TV, but normal day-to-day commuting, the right motorcycle and gear choice let you ride all the time.

Example: I always buy a bike that has either quick release saddlebags or a way to secure a bag on the back seat, giving me carrying capacity. On top of that, I have an Aerostich Courier bag that can carry almost anything. Groceries, tools, sprinkler parts, ammunition, even a cat once, have all traveled within the confines of my motorcycle storage systems. And I always have gear that permits me to do what I need to do. I have gone to meetings that required me to be in a suit by putting a riding suit on over the fancy clothes and carrying proper shoes to replace the boots in my saddlebag. Saved a ton of time in traffic that way, and got to ride my motorcycle mid day, instead of being in my car--because I had a meeting.

At one point in my career, office attire required slacks, shirt and tie. So, I would take a few changes of clothes, stash them in my office and ride in 5 minutes early, which was easy on the bike, change and be the tie wearing dude I needed to be until 5, when I changed and head home. In the cooler months I just switched to wearing an oversuit and office clothes underneath.

For me, riding anytime is better than being in a car--and I LOVE my car. But it seems every time I choose the car over the bike, I end up wishing I was on the bike. So I built my life around always owning a bike that was a bit functional--a GSXR is not exactly a great commuter/carry stuff bike but I made it work--and gear that let me ride when I want.

So, if you follow me on various social media outlets, odds are you won't see me post a lot of "I am taking a special ride" pics, but more likely my motorcycles doing my daily errands and commutes. Life is much better on two wheels--all the time.

Monday, May 26, 2014

NSFW--but funny...100 funniest movie insults

I need to write some of these down. Apparently there are movies with great funny lines that I have not seen. But these are some of the best movie insults ever..... I will be filling up my Netflix and Hulu watch lists.....

Sunday, May 25, 2014

what is your cylinder count? a real live survey

Recently I have looked closely at those people I call friends and realized that all but one, have a deep, focused commitment to internal combustion. Motorcycles, cars, planes, boats, ATV/SUV and anything else that falls into the category of generating power.  Among this group of friends I have a smaller group that share an email digest. Every year or two a missive goes out asking for a full report of your personal cylinder count. This is to include basically anything that has a piston/cylinder (we are not really sure what to do about rotary engines) and itemize the list.

The list is an entertaining read, and not surprising, it gets competitive as guys are wont to do. Suddenly revisions to the list pop up as lawn mowers, leaf blowers and even novelty blenders get into the count. I think we drew the line at substitute electric edges because the 2 stroke gas unit blew up.

So, currently I am at a fairly low level, having cleaned out a lot of projects lately but my list is as follows:

Dodge Challenger-----8 cylinders (it is a Hemi so I should get some extra points here)
Kawasaki Concourse---4 cylinders
Suzuki V-Strom---2 cylinders
MBZ C300------6 cylinders (wife's car)
Briggs and Stratton Lawn Mower--1 cylinder
Garage air compressor--1 cylinder (this is where the stretching starts)
Total = 22 (a really disappointing representation, I need to buy some stuff)

It would be fun if everyone that read this commented with their count, and where they live, just in case any international competitors are reading this.

sometimes a video says it best..... wheelies!!!

Friday, May 23, 2014

why i have ridden motorcycles for 44 years now

I was 8. My dad bought me a go-kart, I was a lucky kid, but I convinced him to sell it and get me a mini bike. Nothing special at all, just a tube frame, 3.5 hp lawn mower engine, a throttle and a rear brake that was a flat plate of steel that rubbed the back tire. Changed my life. That feeling of a motorcycle as an extension of my mind began and the longest I have gone without a bike since that day is 31 days. 31 days? Yup, totaled a bike and it took 30 days to get a check, bought a new bike the next day.

It hasn't been all roses owning a bike, I crashed and injured myself in many ways on the dirt, then had a few street accidents too. Watched my best friend in the world die on a bike 20 yards in front of me when a drunk driver lost control of his pick up on a lovely Saturday afternoon in Malibu.

But no matter what the situation or circumstance, I am always drawn back to the feeling. The feeling of how a bike becomes an extension of your mind. See, if you have never ridden, you cannot fully grasp it, but when you take control of a motorcycle, it becomes a part of you. And it doesn't matter what kind of bike you are on, if you are actually in control of the bike it is a part of you. Together you lean into corners, together you share the rush of acceleration and the effects of braking. You are exposed, open to the weather, the smells, the excitement.

What? You drive a performance car? Big deal. It is not the same. You sit in a car and get tossed around by the forces at work. you sip a coffee, adjust the radio and seal your self in a cocoon, separated from the world. Short of the fact that you turn the steering wheel and push on the pedals, you might as well be in row 23, seat c in an airplane.

I will try to explain the feeling. First you have to understand riding a motorcycle goes against the very nature of the motorcycle and physics. Huh? Its a single track vehicle, stand it up on its wheels and it wants to fall over and lay on its side. So just by riding to the end of the block you have accomplished something. But now, you take that natural tendency to fall over and eliminate it by being in control and making the bike do what you want and it is glorious. The acceleration of a motorcycle, even a small displacement bike, is intoxicating. Its raw. twist the throttle, row through the gears and get up to speed. Every action you make has a reaction. Get on a mid to larger sized engine and you will understand power. As you go through the gears you feel yourself pushed back on the seat, the wind picks up and punches you in the chest and helmet. Suddenly you are holding on to a speeding projectile and you connect with the fact you are controlling it. Dialing up or down on the throttle changes the sensation and the effects of the wind/speed. Slow way down and enjoy the scenery and smells, wind it up and the best roller coaster in the world becomes tame. Now its time to turn. In a car you turn left a and get tossed right in the seat--your body going against the forces of nature. Turn a motorcycle and you must let your body lean into the turn, tempting nature as you push the motorcycle towards its natural desire to lay on its side, but countered by momentum and throttle. It feels right, it feels natural and when the turn ends you look for another. That sensation of leaning over at 45 degrees, horizon titled in your helmet, road winding in front of you and you and the motorcycle joining forces to beat physics, its amazing.

Then there is the whole getting from Point A to Point B in a much cooler fashion than everyone else around you. When I used to teach CMSP (MSF for you non Californians), I often talked about first bike selection. I endorsed buying a small, sued bike to get your riding legs under you before buying your dream bike, and I reminded the class of one thing, no matter what bike you are on, you are infinitely cooler than someone in a mini-van. Think about it, when you a re on a bike and stop at a light, poll up in front of a store, or just cruise down the boulevard, people look at you. They make conversation with you a s they walk past your bike. You are Fonzie, Evel Knievel,  and Steve McQueen all in one nice package, picking up groceries on your way home. Non-riders equate what you do with what they know and they know TV motorcycle riders. Thus you are cool.

If you have never ridden before and are reading this, ask someone who rides to read this and see if its true. Even better, go take an MSF course and learn for yourself. I promise you won't be disappointed with motorcycle riding.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

the true Wheelie King--Doug Domokos. Wheelie Wednesday

Met Doug many, many years ago, we used to talk at the IMS shows. Then when I got into the magazine business we kept talking about using him in the mags, sadly we did not move on the idea and Doug is with us no more.
Simply a great guy, missed all the time. Would love to have talked to him about the stunting craze today.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

obviously the tv people are not listening to me

Did you see that show last night? The 'build off'? Did anyone, at all, actually get a good look at the motorcycles? Did anyone see a nice clean view of the left and right sides of the bikes? Nope. Lots of drama, lots of oh no we are builders with a problem prior to deadline, but no focus on the bikes. Its a biker build off right? You would think that implies bikes to be seen, but no, we got wonderful views of guys in a boat, in a parking lot, drinking beer, discussions of MMA deadline settling and lets eat a hot dog with a bottle rocket in it.

These are not the people I want representing our industry. This is not how I want our industry represented. This is not the build quality I want non-riders to perceive for what our industry creates.

Please express your opinions to anyone that will listen about the garbage they keep putting on televising, and again, if you can fund it, I will create the quality programming our industry deserves.

Friday, May 16, 2014

I guess I left a mark in the motorcycle industry—The Horse Magazine STILL Writes about me

Disclaimer: this is going to be a long story, so if you have short attention span, it’s not for you.

One of my dreams as a kid was working on a motorcycle magazine—which prompted me to leave Philadelphia for Los Angeles where it seemed my chances would be greater. The story of how I ended up in the Editor’s chair at HOT BIKE and STREET CHOPPER is a long story, but the part I will share is my interview with Steve Stillwell and Bill Porter (if you don’t recognize those names in relation to publishing, you are not as old school as you think). They sat me down in the conference room at McMullen Argus and handed me three copies of HOT BIKE, a legal pad and a pen. “Take about 30 minutes and write out what you would change in these magazines if you were the editor. We will be back” and they left. Summary of my notes: there were no bikes being ridden, even in the ROAD TESTS and the girls in bikinis had to go. They offered me the job on the spot.

This was May of 1996, and prior for those that don’t know, I had the privilege of learning from Frank Kaisler at HOT ROD HARLEYS serving as feature editor. Prior to that, I was the shop foreman at MOTORCYCLIST. I knew where I wanted this magazine to go. I wanted action, excitement, exhilaration—all the things motorcycles give you, especially when it is January in Philadelphia and you can’t ride, so you read and re-read your motorcycle magazines (firsthand experience pays). We put together a team that was all over the idea and we attacked the market. Now keep in mind the Harley world was EXPLODING at that time and custom everything was at a fevered pitch.

And the magazine grew. Another fun side note here: I was enthralled with seeing my pic doing wheelies, burnouts and any other cool thing on a bike in the magazine, and I wanted everyone to experience that when we shot their bike—so a new rule went into place. If your bike can’t be ridden, it can’t be in HOT BIKE (or STREET CHOPPER later on). So what did the REST of the Harley mag industry do? They started adding riding to their pages. Don’t believe me, grab your old copies of saved magazines going back to 1996 and take a look at 1997 and beyond. And the industry responded. Builders wanted pics of them doing burnouts in their bike features, excitement was taking over.  

But, I am going to let you in on a secret about magazines, they are in print to make money. Whether it is by selling 40$ a year subscriptions or a ton of ads, the bottom line is they line someone’s pocket. Handsomely if done well. So we sold ads. And we did editorial that supported our advertisers. But here is the thing, and you can ask around the industry today and people will verify this, if you sent us a product that sucked, was garbage or didn’t do what you said it did, I wouldn’t put it in the magazine no matter how many ads you bought. We were not going to sell out. Fix it, reinvent it, change its intended purpose and we will look at it again. I pissed of a LOT of people that way, but I protected our readers. If I was going to support the people that supported the magazine, it damn well was going to be good stuff. So we supported our advertisers and promoted good products to our readers without writing negative stuff and slamming people. We took the first rule of business and built lasting relationships with our advertisers—and it worked.

So HOT BIKE kept growing and regularly seeing 240 plus pages each month. And the guys at IRON HORSE took offense. They slammed me for riding a Buell, wearing a full face helmet and promoting (their term) Easter Egg bikes—but such fat fendered, incredibly painted bikes were the core of the CUSTOM MARKET at the time, so we featured them. But we also featured choppers, Pro Street bikes and even baggers. But we were known for the coolest fat tire softails at that time. Fine, I was good with that, because we were seeing the coolest bikes in the industry. But the cats at IRON HORSE thought their market—garage built bikes with no new parts on them—was our market, but it wasn’t. So month after month they mocked me. And month after month I ignored them. We grew, they didn’t. Then one day they were gone. Funny thing about a magazine, it needs advertisers to survive and if you bash the people that would spend money with you, why would they. Now out of that old IRON HORSE crew, I remain friends with a few of the staff guys and we laugh about those old days, but the bottom line? They went away because they didn’t understand the business of a magazine. Do it right, make it interesting to the reader and respect, not serve, the hand that feeds you.

So, along comes another garage built magazine brought up from the ashes of IRON HORSE called THE HORSE. And guess what? They wrote about me all the time too. HOT BIKE was peaking around 300-352 pages a month towards the end of my time there, and EVERYONE knew it. Harley gave us exclusives, the manufacturers gave us first shot at their parts and generally we were the place to be for those interested in what the latest trend in the industry was –not garage built, no new part bikes. We had nothing against them and ran a few here and there when they caught our eyes, but we were focused on the business of providing a good magazine to the hundreds of thousands of reader we had.

I’m getting somewhere with all this now. Yesterday I was on the phone with a younger guy in the editorial world, explaining some things about us older mag guys and he told me that in the recent issue of THE HORSE, Hammer—Ralph Janus, the OWNER of the magazine, the guy who makes all the coin it generates—was ragging on me and praising Jeff Holt the current editor of HOT BIKE. He wrote the same stuff he has been writing about me for OVER 10 years, corporate, boring, blah blah blah. Now in the last 10 years since leaving HOT BIKE all I have done is write two books and maybe a dozen magazine articles. I should not be a factor in the magazine industry at this point, but he goes on and on, about me and the way I did HOT BIKE and how Jeff Holt (I have never actually met Jeff, and I am sure he is an OK guy, we chat on FACEBOOK once in a while and even talked about me doing an editorial in HOT BIKE, but I never heard back from him) is doing things that are so much cooler than I did. Well, guess what? Jeff is doing the SAME thing I did, but with a different trend in the market. MY time was the explosion of radical customs, Jeff’s time has the explosion of BORN FREE type bikes and FXRs. A different mindset, a different style of bikes to please the readers. Old Ralph, on the other hand, is still beating 10 year old story lines and attempting to generate sensationalism from readers he has had from the beginning. Great you have loyal readers that know my name, but shouldn’t your circulation have grown enough that your readers DON’T know who I am or what HOT BIKE was like OVER 10 years ago?

Remember Ralph, if you are using me to generate buzz in your magazine—that you own and make money off of, shouldn’t you be cutting me a commission check on the side? Shouldn’t your efforts be in producing a better magazine that grows a little? Better editorial, better photos, a greater reason to see people invest in your title? If you really want to sensationalize with my name, offer me a column in your magazine (paid of course) and I will spice things up for you. Otherwise, a line from one of my favorite movies says ….”10 years man, 10 years, 10 years, 10 years man 10 years 10 years”

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

NSFW--sort of, well maybe, but definitely not safe for those with no sense of humor

The last few days on the blog have been pretty serious and digging in a bit deep. So, some absolutely silly, sophomoric humor is required to bring back the fun. And there is nothing funnier than when innuendo abounds...... this can be taken at face value as humorous, or its flat out hysterical when you factor the idea of making it not really safe for work or those that have no sense of humor.

Offended? Sorry. Amused. Great. Not interested. OK.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Biker Television--please stop until its done right......

Much like a fender bender on the side of the highway, I was drawn to look at Biker Live on Discovery last night. And it was about the same result as looking over at two cars on the side of the freeway, "Hmmm, I wonder how that happened?"

A brief history lesson for some of you. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Harley world was on fire. You could not buy a new Harley at MSRP, in fact most dealers were able to add upwards of 5K a bike. This frenzy drove the magazine business to its own frenzy, with as many as 14 Harley based titles capturing the custom bikes as quick as they were spit out--see that time frame also was the beginning of the wild customs becoming prevalent. And it was pre-internet so your information had to come in your mailbox. Mid 90s to early 2000s saw the internet come to life with custom bike things and some of the very first biker TV shows. And the very first biker drama made for TV came along and changed how the world viewed custom bike builders.

Where in the world did the people who make TV get the idea that all good and not-so-good craftsmen function in shops filled with drama, hacking bikes together with hose clamps and big hammers? Every show I have seen on building bikes, cars, customs whatever, somehow requires a storyline that involves a deadline that can't be met, in-shop disagreements and portrays the builders as less than professional. And honestly its pissing me off.

One of the very fortunate things about being the Editor of HOT BIKE when it was at its peak in popularity and circulation was that I had access to the best names in bike building. And I had the chance to meet up and coming builders. I also had a chance to be in their shops--hundreds of them. Yes, I met a few hacks, but if I had to put a percentage to the hacks it was far less than 10%. I can tell you about the days I spent in Jesse James shop, watching him obsess over making a fender fit perfectly, building an exhaust that has never been seen before and generally treating his work like a artist. Matt Hotch, another guy who sweat the details like no one, spending days figuring out how to run all the wires and cable inside the frame of his creation, ensuring a smooth finished product. Arlen Ness, yeah the guy who started it all, standing in his shop, stripping down an Ironhead Sportser engine for a project, painstakingly putting parts in clearly labeled bins as he disassembled it to use in a project he was building. I have watched Kendall Johnson build an engine with the same level of precision that a jeweler uses on a Rolex. Dave Perewitz laying out a paint job with vision and knowledge that it will be right the first time. Jim Nasi metal finishing every part of his build. Wink Eller knowing he can get 10 extra horsepower by tweaking this or that. The list goes on and on. Professionals doing what they feed their families with--professional custom bike building. No drama, no wrenches being thrown, no toolboxes flipped over. Do you know why? Because when you throw things like tools and chairs, they bounce. And when they bounce in a shop full of customer bikes, it costs you money to fix them, and none of these professionals are in business to lose money.

And yet, we watch these shows. And we allow our world to be portrayed as a bunch of goofballs who have crappy tools, don't plan ahead and generally fumble through a build using incredibly questionable technology. Then the drama shows add the riding portion. News flash folks, its a custom bike, of course its going to have glitches on its first few rides. Generally the whole bike is handmade and to that trying out new ideas, innovative ways to improve the look and style and doing something that hasn't been done before. Its not a Harley/Honda/Suzuki/Yamaha/Kawasaki cruiser that just rolled off the assembly line and someone added pipes, a custom seat and new handlebars to. This is a custom creation. And we allow the producers to show the almost fatal meltdown when it backfires on a first start or that a tire expanded on a few hundred mile trip and rubbed the fender. Things happen. And all of the custom builders I know fix those things for their customer when it does. They take pride in their build. They believe in delivering 1000% quality to a paying customer.

Now don't get this wrong--many custom builders are eccentric personalities. They goof off outside of the shop and at events. They do dumb things that we all do, its just you recognize them when they do it. But they are not hacks. And yet TV producers say they are. And we are suckers and we watch it. Why? Because there is no other TV for our passion. I am sure the drama could be replaced by an in depth look at how a cocktail napkin sketch of a part of a whole bike gets transferred to reality. I know the first time I saw a CNC machine programmed or a water jet cutter run, I was entranced.

We live in a Wal-Mart society where craftsmanship is no longer valued. We are a replace not fix world, because why fix the vacuum or TV when you can run to the store and get a new one instantly? What will we do in 20 more years when people no longer know how to fix anything? Its time to praise the craftsmen, the absolute foundation of America, and show that those that build are also those that think. Since I travel in very non-biker crowds often, I hear what they say about builders and customs. First, they think a custom bike can be built for almost nothing but scrap metal pieces and, second, they don't think they last a week. Its embarrassing and really annoying when I have to explain all that is wrong with the shows and how they portray builders. Funny thing the non-riders are fascinated when I tell them the truth about what goes into a custom build, savoring the little tidbits of craftsmanship I throw them in the story. A metal bender? hammer and dolly? CNC what?

If there is anyone with a few million dollars that wants to fund a TV show, I am ready to produce it. Let's go to the best builders, lets get them to share their secrets of how they make a fender, welded onto a rigid frame with a 120ci engine not split on full throttle blasts down the highway. Lets teach people how a guy builds a frame and figures out the right rake and trail to keep his customer alive while riding to the local hangout and still looking good in the parking lot. How about we show what it takes to paint a bike with a graphic that is on the sheet metal and the frame? How about we remove all the drama and show what talent, dedication and intelligence looks like in a bike builder.  I am serious, if you can fund the show, I will make it work.

In the meantime, let's do a service to all the guys that go on these shows. Support them through magazines, websites and blogs. But lets not feed the frenzy of these fake, drama infested atrocities they call biker shows.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

falling in love-with the right motorcycle

Through some interesting twists and turns in my life, I have had a chance to ride a lot of motorcycles that are not mine. From grunt time at Motorcyclist, to the big Editor Chair at HOT BIKE and STREET CHOPPER, to being a part of the industry, I have poked around on some amazing bikes.
I have had the unique opportunity to ride:

**The very first V-Rod from LA to Sturgis and back--it will go 127.4 miles on a tank of gas. Exactly, then it is EMPTY

*The Harley Davidson Marlboro Man movie bike--all over LA for a month. Yes, people knew what it was and asked a lot of questions

*One of 50 street legal Vr1000 Harleys. A day spent cruising the backwoods of Milwaukee doing wheelies and dragging toes. In the heart of Milwaukee I was snubbed by every Harley rider I waved to

* The very, very first Buell S1 from La to Morgan Hill. 400 miles of giggles and torture.

*The first Ducati 916 when it came out.... Drool
* Yamaha GTS1000 with the cool, goofy front end. Amazing bike

*A Kawasaki ZX-9R...perhaps the best bike ever in the sporting category. Big, FAST and it handled

* The first FXR2. Lots of explaining that it was NEW FXR, not an old FXR

* A Sportster 1200 at Willow Springs where we were intent on making it faster by switching wheel sizes and combinations

*The first TC88 Softail Classic--which I rode 1018 miles in one day, Denver to Anaheim, an experience that would have been made a lot better with 30 more horsepower.

So, my point that I am blubbering about is I have had a lot of experience on all kinds of bikes, real experiences. When I bought my Kawasaki Concours, I bought it because I was mad at the Harley world. Living in Wisconsin at the time, I was meeting people who basically said, if it wasn't on a Harley they wouldn't ride. In my mind they were not motorcyclists, but hobbyists. Me? I didn't care what I rode as long as it was riding. So I looked at the Concours, 1400cc, shaft drive, radial tires, big brakes, easy detach saddlebags, electrical adjusting windshield and stupid fast. Seemed a perfect replacement for my very custom FXDXT, it would be faster, handle better and require almost no maintenance. So I bought one. And fell in love on the test ride.

Lately I have had a chance to ride a lot of really cool, really fast, really exciting bikes again. Which has kept me off the Concours for about a month. Yesterday I had reason to hop on it and BAM, just like that the love affair is rekindled. Fast, smooth, comfortable and deceivingly amazing handling, the Concours lets me ride fast enough in turns to be entertained, eat up freeway sections with ease and pick up some groceries on the way back.

I will always seek that next experience of being on a new, different motorcycle, but I am pretty sure this one will always be my go to love affair. Have you found yours yet?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Switching gears--literally: Save the Six-Speeds

So, I started riding motorcycle when I was 8 years old. Changing gears--the act of operating a clutch and a shifter mechanism was second nature to me by 9 years old. Hopping in the car with my dad, three pedals on the floor of the car and a shifter between the seats made sense to me.  I think I was about 13 years old when my dad taught me how to drive a stick, just so I could pull the cars in and out of the driveway for him. Driving a car meant shifting gears. Now granted back then a manual transmission meant better gas mileage and a lower cost car, but admittedly, today's automatic transmissions are more efficient and shift quicker than a manual transmission. Still, a manual says you are driving.

Now, remember I am just old enough to have been around when cars did not have cup holders, power steering, air conditioning and automatic transmissions were an option and when you rolled up the windows, you really did roll them up with a handle that inevitably you broke at some point in the ownership of your car. So what? Quite a bit really.

When you learned how to drive in a 4000 pound behemoth with no power steering, you fully understood the importance of getting your parallel parking done in one back up. Combine this steering struggle with having a 3-speed on the column (if you don't know, don't even ask) or a 4 speed on the floor (no six-speeds back then) and you have a recipe for full attention on the car and the road. And this friends, is what is missing from cars today.

People learn to drive in cars that park for them, have power steering, brakes, windows, cruise control, 8-12 speaker stereos and a voice system that reads their Facebook to them. The only connection they have to driving their car is when they reach down to turn the seat massager on. Yes, they are luxurious, comfortable and incredibly safe compared to cars of yore. But, I still maintain everyone should learn to drive in a prehistoric beast to get the understanding and connection to driving.

Then, when you go buy a car, chase down one that still comes in a six-speed. Drive for the experience of coming into a corner, downshifting to just the right gear to power through, click an upshift at redline as you head into the straight and for just a few seconds, feel like Mario Andretti in a race car. In my Challenger R/T, there are days when, for no reason whatsoever, I just bang the 1-2 shift to hear the rear wheels chirp and listen to the engine pull. Its a glorious symphony of internal combustion, exhaust sound and tire shriek. Just as nice doing in from 2nd into 3rd, but that might involve breaking some speed laws, so lets just say I imagine that its fun.

Yes, in California, New York, Boston or Chicago traffic a manual will suck--big time. But for those miles of no traffic and having control of your car, the manual transmission is a thing of beauty. Try it, you'll like it, or at least connect with your car and you can help save the six-speeds.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

so about that Kawasaki ZX10R.....

I have been banging about on it for a week or so.... what I know:
Its fast
It handles like a race bike
Its fast
It gets a lot of looks
Its fast
It is an exceptional value for the dollars it costs.

What I also learned:
Its more motorcycle than I can ever use--well maybe my 25-30 year old self could have used it, but not now
This bike can exceed every national speed limit in FIRST gear
Its an effortless bike to maneuver
It is not a bike to drove down freeways on, it wants to turn
The anti lock brakes are incredible
So is the traction control
Am I having a genuine blast on it??? Yup.   More to come, but for now, I am accepting the fact that its more bike than I can use and trying to find a way to use more of it.... where is that track day listing??????

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Extreme Trials? yes please...... amazing riding

If you have never ridden a motorcycle before, please don't watch this. It will just confuse your understanding of the laws of physics and how they relate to motorcycles.

If you have ridden before, please try to tell me this doesn't make you want to go buy a trials bike and start practicing......

Saturday, May 3, 2014

do something memorable on a motorcycle....

First, every time you ride a motorcycle its memorable. Just the fact that you are in control of a vehicle that wants to be lying on its side and instead, you are commanding it to go forward, turn, climb hills, do wheelies, whatever you decide on, its memorable. I never lose sight of that and every day I ride, there is something I want to tell someone about my ride.
But I mean do something really memorable on a bike. challenge yourself. Ride something unique. Do something you really shouldn't on that type of bike. Create a story you can share that other riders will say, "cool" and non -riders will be fascinated hearing.
In my case, it was when I had the opportunity to test the bike used in the Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man movie. In case you don't know it started life as a cocktail napkin sketch and was handed to the guys at Bartels Harley-Davidson to create--out of an FXR.   Bartels raked the neck, fit it with struts that dropped the fender to just above the tire at full expansion, added those horrible straight pipes and leather wrapped a piece of steel for a seat. It was not a pleasant bike to ride, but it was one of the two awesome bikes I ever spent time on--i'll scan some pics of the other one another day--no matter where I went, people asked if it was the movie bike. They told me how much they didn't like the movie but loved the bike and wanted to build one just like it. I can still vividly remember stopping at a traffic light on La Cienga Blvd in Beverly Hills, on my way to Sunset Blvd when in a guy in a beautiful red Bentley Turbo rolled his window down and yelled "that is the coolest bike ever!" and gave me a double thumbs up.

I took that bike everywhere for a month. Yes that's me in the pic, Bates jacket on sliding in the dirt in downtown LA for the magazine shoot.... another memory. But the most interesting thing I did with that bike was ride up to a bike show--I forget which one in the Ventura area--and I entered the slow race on the Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man bike. Came in second, riding as slow as possible in a grass field on a rigid strut FXR. That was a memory.
Have any worth talking about from your experiences?

Friday, May 2, 2014

where are all the motorcycles--and why dont you commute on yours?

I topped off the tank on the ZX10r yesterday at 4.39 a gallon, but at close to 40mpg it makes more sense than my Challenger at 19-20mpg for running errands. Sure full on grocery shopping or picking up dry cleaning makes more sense in a car, but most everything else we do can be done by bike. So why aren't you?
I look around when I go places during the week and am shocked at how few bikes I see. Why would you choose a car over a bike? Creature comforts? Stereo? Phone? Your hair looks better afterwards? Dress code at work? All of these can be overcome if you want to be on your bike

If you need to make calls or listen to music that bad, get one of those Bluetooth headsets for your helmet.
Use a helmet liner between yurt wonderfully coiffed dome
Get an overbuilt like an Aerostich or something to that style. Or do like I used to do, drive in one day a week, drop off a load of dressy work clothes, pick up the dirty stuff to take to the dry cleaners, repeat the cycle as necessary.
If you really want to ride, there are no obstacles or objections and with gas at 4 bucks, plus, no better time to work out your complications and start riding more