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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Opinions please

Thanks to the super secret Google stat machine, I know a lot of people read, or at least look, at what I put up on the blog. I write about my thoughts, ideas, or passions for the day.

But here is the thing, many of you have commented privately to me about missing the stuff I used to write in the magazine, so I thought I would put this out there: what would you like to see me write about? Is there a topic that you think I should pay more attention to? A segment of the motorcycle industry? Should I put more effort into my Save the Six-Speed campaign for cars? What then?
Let me know and I will attempt to make it happen.
Thanks
Howard

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lessons to be learned from motorcycle crash compilation videos







There are a few thing to be learned from watching this compilation video

1- a lot of people ride with GoPro type cameras

2-GoPro type camera mounted on your helmet make it real easy to see when you target fixate

3-its a street not a racetrack

4-never ride really close to the guy with the GoPro on his helmet

5-scooters are always dangerous

6-riding in Europe and Asia is a challenge

7-in Europe they open doors into you for lane splitting

8-in many countries in Asia they run over scooter riders

9-Stunting on the street never seems to work out

10-slow down in traffic

11-assume they want to run you over

12-scooters still suck

13--riding gear is a smart thing







Friday, June 20, 2014

Not all Craigslist buyers are jerks

I'm not kidding, its true. Let me explain, no let me sum up, it's quicker.

About 2 years ago, my brother in law bought a Yamaha Virago 250 with 5700 miles on it for a few of our family members to practice on when they finished their MSF courses. Well, 2 years and 500 miles later the little Virago that could, wasn't. Wasn't being ridden. Wasn't getting any love. Wasn't doing anything but gumming up it's carburetor and taking up garage space. It went to a local dealer for a complete carb rebuild and new battery and the decision to sell it was formulated. I have some time right now, so I volunteered to take it on.

The bike started out pretty clean, only 6200 miles on the clock total, so I rolled it into Kelly Garage Inc. and did a quickie clean up and then took some pictures. I shot the bike from both sides, plenty of details and even took shots of the two flaws the bike had figuring it would be easier to disclose everything up front.


Then I carefully crafted an ad for both Craigslist and eBay. I talked about low mileage. I talked about great condition and runs perfectly. I talked about freshly rebuilt carb and new battery. I disclosed the scuffs on the rear fender from the first owner's use of leather saddlebags and the scuff on the rear muffler from a driveway tip over. No detail hidden. And I put a price of $2595 on it. On the high side, but not terrible for such a great bike with a residual value next year similar to what anyone was going to pay for it this year as their beginner bike.

So the Craigslist comments started. Emails at first:
Does it run?-- Yes, like it says in the ad, runs perfectly
Is it in good condition?-- Yes, like it says in the ad
Is there anything wrong with it?-- Yes, like it says in the ad, a scuff and scratch
Will you take $1200 cash?-- How else would you pay and n0

Then the Craigslist text messages started coming in:
Is it still for sale? Yes, that's why the ad is still posted
Is it in good condition? Yes, just like the ad says
Does it run? Yes, perfectly just like the ad says
Does it leak oil? No, its a Yamaha
Will you trade it for my electric guitar? No way dude
Will you take $1200 cash for it right now? No. And seriously how else do you think you are paying for this?

EBay was not as prolific on responses. But the questions were of a more serious nature, mostly revolving around would I pay for shipping to the east coast. Nope. Sorry.

Then the I want to see it texts started coming in. Most were challenged to create full sentences. More often than not I thought about meeting them in a parking lot rather than my house, but time was an issue. So I had two people scheduled to come see the bike yesterday prompting me to prepare


One potential buyer had me thinking this way, the other seemed cooler. Crappy potential customer backed out and cooler customer showed up, girlfriend in tow. Nice kid, plenty of questions that were relevant to the bike and learning to ride. Turns out he was a recent MSF grad and was doing it the right way, versus the cool guy way, and buying a small bike to really learn on. We settled on a much lower price, $2150, because he seemed a good guy and impressed me with solid thinking. We talked about maintenance. We talked about gear--he needed all of it and wasn't going to ride until  he had it. We talked about how a year from now this bike could be for the girlfriend to learn on when he steps up. He asked if I could ride it to his house so it would get home safely--rather than him risk the freeways.
I went into my gear locker in the garage and pulled out a helmet and had him try it on. It fit so I gave it to him to help him get started on the proper gear deal. We talked about buying in local stores versus internet for the rear of the gear. I explained how the pricing may well be cheaper on line, but building a relationship at a small, independent shop might be helpful as a beginner with a bike he may need service on in the future. The best part about him? He listened. He actually wanted the advice and took it in.
I rode the bike to his house and in the car on the way back I told him how impressed I was with his desire to get started riding the right way and offered to serve as a mentor to him. He had my number, he seemed a good kid, it seems the right thing to do. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Burnout Blather

First, let's understand the reasons for a burnout.
Drag racing--its done to heat the rear tire(s) up for an optimum launch
Showing off--its done to let the world know you have lots of horsepower, or you want attention
Stunting--its called drifting then
Motorcycle events-- its a crowd thriller/attention draw

now, I am a big fan of the show off burnout. I have done dozens of these in magazines over the years and am still prone to doing one when the crowd is right. But tires are darn expensive these days, so I try to keep my show off burnouts to a minimum. being a trained professional, not a drunk at a carnival, I am confident in my knowledge of a motorcycle, how it works and how to tell when a burnout might go bad, so I can do a burnout anywhere at any time on any bike. And since I don't do stationary burnouts on bikes that don't have front brakes--- truthfully I don't enjoy riding bikes with no front brake--I don't need a wall for doing a burnout. I like to freestyle my burnout and score massive showoff points.

 
but as seen above, I have spent time in a burnout box. The Titan you see here roasting its back tire was actually on a hydraulically lifted burnout box 10 feet over the crowd in Myrtle Beach, so I thought it kind of cool. The burnout box/wall serves its purpose for safety when said carnival bike riders have 3-7 beers and want to do a burnout, but I suggest to all bike event promoters there be a change.
Let's steal an idea from the freestyle stunters and create two burnout areas. Your traditional wall where amateurs can put their bike against an immovable object and row through the gears in attempt of shredding their tire, yawn, and a sectioned off area (with those concrete barricades they use for construction) where a wanna-be stunter can get his one-hand-standing-next-to-the-unreleased-Harley-CVO-bagger burnout show off session on.
Let them go in and spin donuts. Stand next to the bike. Stand in front of the bike and do a donut backwards (I have some photos of me doing that, scary as all hell the first time). Show they have control of the bike. The barricades should go far in creating crowd safety, but still allow those that feel they have the skill to go ahead and show off. Let the no front brake, I just want to smell like tire smoke crowd use the burnout box.
With the proliferation of Dyna/FXR customs on the market, along with baggers, front brakes are fairly prevalent in the Harley world. The Sportbike world couldn't imagine a bike without front brakes, so promoters, what do you say? Can we get a stunt show out of these guys? We have professional stunters drifting their bikes in a closed area, maybe a freestyle burnout area will bring another generation of stunters to the show?
  

Saturday, June 7, 2014

action. drama. adventure. heroes. 1990 Italian 500cc moto gp

You have an hour to learn about real men racing? Watch this. Not only were they riding 500cc two stroke machines that weighed something like 350 pounds and produced well over 200 horsepower--- and if you have never ridden a two-stroke, think of the throttle as a light switch, on or off as their powerband is pretty narrow--but they had to switch to mild rain tires because it kept drizzling and threatening to rain. They raced anyway. Non of this sissy NASCAR stuff where they stop racing because the track is wet.


 Nope they just hitch their leathers up a bit higher and race.
Names like Rainey, Gardner, Doohan, Schwantz. The greats doing great things on a motorcycle. Towards the end of the race watch how fast these guys pass the backmarkers.  imagine feeling fast enough on a bike to even consider racing one of these monsters and then being passed by these guys at the speeds they do. Your ego would be crushed forever. Or, these front runners were not mortal, perhaps they were racing deities. Either way, this is an education on what fast looks like on a motorcycle. And no rain delays ;) 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Fastest superbike lap, Isle of Man TT, Bruce Anstey

So you want to know who the fastest rider is, with the most guts ever? A 44 year old dude named Bruce Anstey who averaged 132.2 Mph around the 37.75 mile long Isle of Man TT course this year. Average Speed!!!! Think about that, he traveled 37 miles on public roads, not a race course, at an average speed faster than some people have ever gone in their life.

Take a look at what just a few minutes of this ride looks like and try to tell me this guy, as well as everyone who has ever lapped that course, is not a legend!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Discovery Channel...Please go back to penguin documentaries

So with great anticipation I watched Biker Live last night on Discovery to see the new exciting changes. Thankfully Velocity was running some real motorcycle programming simultaneously, Isle of Man TT racing. That is motorcycle drama I can get behind--a man on a bike challenging the road, weather and time to be the best, fastest and not die in the process.

On the there hand, there was Biker Live. Filmed to make seemingly talented guys look like they don't have a clue. Oh the drama. Really? Did we need a monolog about being too young to be a bike builder? Fabrication skills do get better with experience, but if you have them, you have them. Did we need to see a half hearted attempt at making part of a gas tank, just to see it thrown on the shop floor? Did we need a scene showing rolling eyes when discussing how to time a magneto? NO, but Discovery did.

For anyone that plans to support this stuff again, let me help you in case Velocity has racing on again at the same time. Show synopsis: Introduce builders, make them look less capable than they are. Coerce them into making bold, boasting claims on their abilities to build drama. Show timeline discussions of how the bike being built can't be as good as normal. Cut to goofing off in shop or immediately outside of shop. Kick up music for dramatic scene where alleged great bike builder doesn't know how to tune his engine to start. (note, what builder ever, anywhere builds a full bike mock up before paint and doesn't start the bike then, but instead waits until its fully painted and assembled for a first try at starting?). Show celebration as bike fires with just seconds to go before deadline.

Yawn.

Please Discovery, stop making the motorcycle industry look stupid. If you do, we all promise to watch penguin documentaries when you release them

Monday, June 2, 2014

Riding gear--yes, it is worth the cost

Here is a fun fact, when I was the editor of HOT BIKE, I used to get complaint letters and complaint booth visits from members of ABATE about my consistent use of a full-faced helmet. They said that me being in the magazine, always seen with a full-face, was hurting their cause of legalizing no helmets in California. I thanked them for the compliment of thinking my sphere of influence was that great, but said, in reality, I was just exercising my right to choose--and I chose a full face helmet because it made me feel safest.

What gear do you wear when riding? For me, I have two levels of gear.
1- Relaxed mode--when I think I can't get hurt--which by the way is completely ridiculous. But if I am running errands, heading out for a ride just to get somewhere for a meal with a friend, or knowing I am not going to push the limits of tire adhesion.
  • Full face helmet--a current, quality brand. There is no argument here. A good helmet is worth every penny, especially if you are on a long ride and it adds time in the saddle because its comfortable and fits properly
  • Gloves--no fingerless, that's a joke. Real leather, not motocross or pit crew gloves
  • Riding jacket--proper body armor in proper places
  • Jeans--a fallacy of protection, if you hit the ground perfectly they can protect you, but how many crashes are perfect?
  • Leather shoes that cover my ankles--back in the 1990s I wore high top leather sneakers, all white, with plenty of padding around my ankles, now its work boots or riding boots
Like I said, this is relaxed mode. If its really hot, I have a vented jacket that does allow a lot of airflow, but still provides protection. Let me just say this, on the record and factually, the ground, concrete or asphalt, does not get less abrasive because the temperatures go up. Crashing on a 90 degree day is no less painful than crashing on a 60 degree day, the road will still chew your skin up, a fender will still crush your skull. Quality riding gear is your ONLY line of defense against accidents. And no, you are not such a good rider that it can't happen to you.

On those days that I feel the need to see how far my bike can lean, or I have a really long commute in rush hour traffic, I upgrade the jeans to a dedicated riding pant, or an over pant with body armor. It may make me sweat a bit more, but well worth the extra protection. Not much more gear. Why? Because I think about the crash all the time

Don't fool yourself into thinking a t-shirt and leather vest will protect you, they won't. Why? Well, think about walking or bicycling. When you fall or crash, what's the first thing to hit the ground? Your hands and arms. Gloves and a long sleeved jacket would be nice as you meet the asphalt. Want to survive a head on crash? I did, cracked an Arai Signet helmet on the landing, but I was able to tell the police what happened when they arrived. I had a bitching cool pair of Bates leather gloves until that accident. But thankfully they took all the abrasion and I was able to type the very next day. My leather jacket that day? Has some really cool scrape marks on it. Wonderful conversation starters at pre-ride coffee places.

Bottom line, spend on gear what you think your body is worth. Just because a jacket is made out of leather doesn't make it a motorcycle jacket. It needs double stitching, body armor or at least reinforcements in key areas. The stuff you wear to skateboard is probably ok for skateboarding, but how often do you ride a motorcycle at skateboard speeds versus highway speeds. Invest in the crash. And then ride to help prevent it happening.



Sunday, June 1, 2014

sweathogs--debate team?

There was a TV show that broke incredible rules, dealt with issues we all had in high school and made us laugh stupidly --because we had never seen anything like it before, Welcome Back Kotter.
This clip had me laughing at all the double entendre they managed to get away with. Good stuff