Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Electric Motorcycle Parking Only

Here's a sign of the times. An IKEA store in Tampines, Singapore, has a special parking lot just for electric motorcycles, and comes with a recharging station...

Source: http://twitpic.com/vtf8r

Here in the USA, we're lucky just to find a special parking area for motorcycles, and more often than not, motorcycle parking is not necessarily more convenient.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

American Throttle - The Board Game

What do bikers do in the winter when there's too much snow and ice on the roads?

Why, they play board games!

And from whence comes American Throttle, the board game.

You ride, you drink, you gamble, and go on a poker run, just like real bikers! It's actually a trivia game, but there's more to it.

Watch the video...

And if you purchase the board game, you get a free biker t-shirt. I mean, how can a biker resist a t-shirt?

Visit American Throttle online...

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Illegal To Sell Motorcycles on Sunday

Good news everyone! The State of Indiana is seeking to make it legal to sell motorcycles on Sunday...


Because it's now illegal to do so.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

What Kenneth Aragon Teaches Us

kenneth aragon lapdArticles like this one published in the Los Angeles Times are always interesting to me because they illustrate the goings-on behind walls.

In this case, Kenneth Aragon, a Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer crashed his bike after drinking too much earlier this month, and died.

On paydays, LAPD officers gather at the police department's training facility at Elysian Park. The training facility apparently has a bar where they serve alcohol. Officers celebrate payday by hanging out late into the night. This is where Aragon was.

So today the LAPD announced they had performed an investigation to determine how much alcohol Aragon consumed, and figured that he had consumed well enough to put him well over the legal limit. According to another article, the LAPD will force the academy bartenders to undergo retraining.

But if you read the first article I linked to above, police officers getting drunk on payday is a tradition. The article went on to say that during the 1970s and 1980s, they partied so hard as to bring girls into the academy for sex. These police officers drink and drive all the time, breaking the very same laws that we get busted for.

But to save face, the LAPD is going to make this guy into a scape goat. Aragon will be branded a bad apple to make us believe that the LAPD doesn't tolerate this kind of behavior.

And we all know that's bullshit.

Drinking and driving is something that we all do, police included. We all know it's dangerous, but we still do it. Just like how everybody breaks the speed limit. Just like how everybody uses a cell phone while driving. We all preach the gospel, but we never follow it.

If police officers and legislators are going to break these same laws, why do we even have these laws?

Isn't it just a game we play? We try to do the things we love to do, but we have to hide it from everyone lest we be caught and publicly humiliated. How stupid is that?

I don't know Kenneth Aragon personally, but I believe he was a good man, yet he was human like all of us. We shouldn't criminalize this guy, or make him out to be a bad apple. He was just like the 99% of us who are good people, but prone to make mistakes. Should we punish his legacy for that?

What I write won't change anything, but police should stick to going after violent criminals, and leave the 99% of us alone. I won't say anything about cops drinking and driving if they don't say anything about me doing it as well.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Choosing Which Motorcycle to Ride

Today my Yamaha Road Star got it's first taste of being trailered. I had called North County Yamaha to come by and pick it up for me.

It seems as if something wrong is with the starter motor. The battery is fine, the lights go on, the fuel pump goes on. Just an electrical "pop" when I hit the start button, and all goes dead. I'm not sure what caused this happen, it worked fine the last time I rode it, which was a long time ago!

I just don't ride the Road Star much anymore.

Yesterday I had tried to push-start it, but no go. I had pushed it up an incline at the end of my block, which was a lot of work. I only got about 80% of the way up there before running out of energy. I had to zig-zag it up there. I turned it around, put in neutral and coasted down. Then I kicked it into 2nd gear, but all it did was make the rear wheel skid. It just wouldn't turn over.

So I called up North County Yamaha, the only metric shop within 50 miles that I trust enough to work on it. They're charging me $50.00 to trailer it to their shop, which is not that bad considering they're about 40 miles from my house.

trailering a motorcycle
I know several people who own two or more motorcycles, and it's interesting to hear how they choose which motorcycle to ride.

In most cases, it's a logical decision. If they're going on a long ride, they take the one that offers the most comfort and the most storage. If their going on an afternoon ride through the twisties, they take the lighter, more nimble bike.

But other times I've heard people say that they're riding this bike because "it gets ignored", or because, "my wife likes the backseat on this one better". Sometimes it's a matter of fitting in. If they're riding with cruiser riders, they take the cruiser. If they're riding with sport bikes, they'll take what fits in best with that group.

But in my case, it's whatever my heart says. When I walk into the garage, I check my heart to see what I truly feel like riding, either the Yamaha Road Star, or the Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic. For the past year it's always said, "the Ultra". It doesn't matter if I'm spending the day on the twisties, I still take that 900-pound beast.

I think it's because I like all the buttons, dials, electronics, and compartments. That's the geeky side of me. Even though the Road Star is still the more fun bike of the two, it's still my penchance for bells and whistles that wins me over.

The other thing is that I've wanted to master riding the Ultra Classic with it being so heavy and tall. I'm more confident riding the Road Star because it's lighter, has a lower seat height, and I can get my feet flat on the ground. But I can only get half my feet on the ground with the Ultra, and it's bulkiness makes me feel less confident riding it. Thus, I've opted to ride it more often hoping to master it.

But all that has done is made me appreciate the Ultra for what it has to offer. Though, it's still a money-pit, costing me a lot in repairs and maintenance. Actually, if I didn't ride it so much, perhaps it wouldn't cost me so much.

So, I need to get the Road Star fixed so that I can sell it off. The money will help me buy a different bike, hopefully one that I'll actually ride more often. Maybe if I can find a smaller, lighter bike that I'll ride a lot, I'll save money not having to repair the Ultra so often.

But I don't know. My heart still says I'll end up riding the Ultra most of the time. Which is why I've talked about replacing it with a sport tourer.

Bottom line is that I still can't seem to make a decision on this.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sons of Anarchy Harley-Davidson

Sons of Anarchy is today, what Orange County Choppers was yesterday. Where at one time every retailer was selling hats, shirts, hoodies, mousepads, baby bibs, and bikini underwear with "OCC" on it, they're now selling the same stuff with "SOA" on it.

Do people actually have the gonads to wear that stuff in public?

So at the International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach, CA last weekend, the most-busiest place at the Harley-Davidson exhibit was where they had the blacked-out Dyna, with the quarter fairing and drag bars...

Sons of Anarchy Harley-Davidson
Notice behind the bike is a television set playing an episode of Sons of Anarchy. What's hard to see are the display boards explaining all the customization that went into these bikes, just in case you want to build your own.

You had to stand in line to sit on this bike.

I don't know if Harley plans to issue a new Sons of Anarchy edition motorcycle. Maybe they can give it a model number "FXRSOA". But it seems like they'll sell a lot of them.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Kawasaki Concours versus Honda ST versus Yamaha FJR

My wife and I spent some time this afternoon at Temecula Motorsports sitting on various sport touring bikes, the Kawasaki Concours, Honda ST and the Yamaha FJR.

I wanted her to sit on the backseats of these bikes and tell me which she felt was most comfortable.

The winner for her was the Honda ST.

Kawasaki Concours Honda ST1300 Yamaha FJR1300

The footpegs on the ST were lowest, which is important for her because the tighter she has to keep her knees bent, the more painful over the course of riding.

The passenger seat on the ST was also the most cushy between the three, with the Concours coming in second.

The position of the saddlebags on the ST were also best for her because they were lower. This made it easier for her to get on and off the bike. The FJR came in second, while the bags on the Concours were most in the way.

I've read in reviews that the passenger hand rails are the most hardest to reach on the ST. But that didn't seem to be an issue for her.

For me, the ST was easiest to hold steady while she climbed aboard because it has the lowest seat height, allowing me to get more of my feet on the ground.

While never having ridden any of these bikes, I had gravitated towards the Yamaha FJR mostly because I liked the looks of it. But I remembered the nagging my wife gave me while sitting on the back of my Yamaha Road Star, about how the seat was uncomfortable, the high position of the floorboards making her knees hurt. Nothing ruins a day of riding more than an angry woman banging on the top of your helmet.

So it seems I'm now gravitating towards the Honda ST.

I just got some major work done on my Electra Glide Ultra Classic, replacing the entire cam assembly: cam shaft, cam chain, tensioner shoes and arms. They say the tensioner shoes should be replaced around 25,000 miles, but I still had the stockers at 76,000 miles. Well, actually the stockers had all but disintegrated, with the cam chain sliding across the tensioner arms, and the tensioner arms grounded down.

I also replaced a cracked header pipe, replaced a leaky stator plug, and had a leaky seal fixed by the rear shift arm. It cost me a lot of money.

However, it now runs great, and sounds great. Just like a brand new bike. I never realize how bad my bike was running until I got all the shit fixed.

And with 76,000+ miles on it, I really don't know how much longer I'll own it. It'd be nice to put 100,000 miles on it, but then again, that Electra Glide demands a lot of my money in repairs. It's a hog in more ways than just one. I've only had the bike for 3 1/2 years, but I've put a lot of miles on it.

My friend Brian has an Electra Glide Ultra Classic, the same year as mine, 2005. He's going through the same ordeal, which he wrote about on his blog.

The more miles I put on that Electra Glide, the more I'm going to have spend on repairs. It seems every 15,000 miles that seal at the rear shift arm leaks, and it's another several hundred dollars to get it fixed.

All bikes have parts that wear out, but it seems that Harleys have more stuff going wrong with them than other motorcycle brands. It's a gamble, do I keep the bike and hope that oil leaks are all that I have to worry about, or will everything start falling apart the closer I get to 100,000 miles?

So now that this Electra Glide is humming like a song, maybe it's time to sell it, and replace with a different touring bike.

So at lunch today, I explained that to my wife. At first her concern was that whatever touring I bike I bought to replace the Electra Glide needed to have a comfortable seat and leg position. Hence why I took her to Temecula Motorsports today to sit on some different sport tourers.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Women Riders in Black Motorcycle Clubs

Here's a very interesting read from a black woman who claims to be a member in a co-ed black motorcycle club, entitled "First-Wave Feminist Struggles in Black Motorcycle Clubs".

Here's a quote from the article...
The female motorcycle club member is as non-existent in the black motorcycle community as the black motorcycle club is non-existent in the motorcycle world. It is a phantom existence: there but unseen. Voided.
Check it out...


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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Passing of Dr. Harry Hurt

If you've spent a lot of time following the motorcycle safety discussions and debates, you've no doubt read about Dr. Harry Hurt.

Hurt passed away last weekend, as reported by Cruiser Magazine today. He wrote the infamous "Hurt Report", which studied motorcycle accidents and what caused them. The report was a groundbreaking report because no other such study had ever been conducted, it debunked some popular myths, and reinforced beliefs that riders already knew.

Cruiser Magazine went on to say some really interesting things about Dr. Hurt and his report, which I recommend you read.

If there's ever been a common theme in what I've tried to say about motorcycle safety it's that it's each rider's own responsibility.

That is, it's a double-edged sword. Certainly there plenty of cagers who don't take the time to look over their shoulder before making a lane change, and it would be their fault for hitting you. But you also knew that such cagers exist on the road, and yet you still chose to ride a motorcycle.

As long as you had the freedom to buy a pickup truck over a motorcycle, you had a chance to give yourself more protection.

But it would also be short-sided of me to end it on that note. Everyone on the road has the right to use those roads with some expectation of safety, motorcyclists included. But today, it seems that we live in a "me generation", where we tend to blame others for everything and expect some kind of compensation. We seemed to have forgotten that Fate still exists.

My mom still worries about me riding a motorcycle, and still says that I'm going to get killed on it. So I always tell her that I could get killed driving a car just as well. And if you said the same thing yourself, then you agree with me that each rider takes a chance when they ride their motorcycle.

If you really want to be safe, don't ride a motorcycle. Period.

But if you choose to do so, then you've accepted whatever hand Fate deals you. In that case, make sure you have fun.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mandatory Smog Testing for Motorcycles

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality recently asked Federal authorities to drop motorcycles from emissions testing, claiming that testing motorcycles is too much trouble for what little cleaner air they get out of it.

Contrast that to earlier this summer, when a California legislator introduced a bill to require smog testing on motorcycles, claiming that too many motorcycle owners were modifying their exhaust systems.

How could one state try to drop smog testing for motorcycles, while a neighboring state try to implement it?

It's about the perception of motorcycles.

In Arizona, motorcycles are accepted as a part of their culture. In California, they're seen as a status symbol. The $20K Harley is more of a rich guy's toy than it is a culture or a form of transportation. And way too many legislators in California are taking aim at people who can afford this kind of freedom.

One green blogger even went so far as to take pleasure with the thought of wealthy motorcycle owners being forced to make their bikes more politically correct...
We're not convinced the Hell's Angels will take to the new laws. But we suspect upper-income California professionals who've carefully cultivated a faux outlaw image after buying a "midlife crisis bike" will grumble, and then in the end, comply.

Which suggests his support for motorcycle smog testing has more to do with his disdain for people who express their freedom so freely, than it is about cleaner air.

Yet Arizona found that even when they forced motorcycle owners to bring their bikes up to spec with the exhaust standards, it still had no positive effect on air quality.

Both California and Arizona are states with a higher concentration of motorcycles, but with contrasting views. Arizona still seems to govern with common sense, while California continues to burden itself with ideology.

The funny is that in the end, that California legislator was forced to rewrite her bill, after Governor Schwarzenegger announced he would not sign such a bill, noting himself as a Harley rider.

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About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)