Friday, January 29, 2010

The Harley-Davidson Edition Goldwing

Each year when Harley-Davidson unveils a "new" motorcycle, it seems to give me the sense that the Im-Co (image company) has a better sense of it's own direction.

We all know that this new Harley-Davidson 48 is just the same old Sportster but in a different skin. But yet, it seems like that's ok now.

We've come accept the fact that Harley no longer creates new technology. Even though I, and many others, have complained that their new motorcycles are not really new motorcycles, that point seems to fall on deaf ears more and more.

In fact somewhere I saw a video, maybe on YouTube, that showcased the designers that work at Harley. I got the sense that Harley is hiring more designers than it is engineers.

The whole "dark series" that Harley is doing right now is in response to the fact that black is now the new chrome. That XR1200 they launched a couple years ago was all about image as well, designing their Sportster with an image that Europeans seem to associate with.

Honda tried to do the same thing that Harley now does not too long ago with their "Fury". They took the same old VTX platform, and put it on a chopperesque chassis. Honda billed it as something bold and new, destined to take the motorcycle division into a new direction. But reporters and bloggers lost their lunches when they saw it wasn't anything innovative at all, just a hunk of junk.

The motorcycling public places different expectations on Honda than it does Harley. We come to expect innovation from Honda, while we come to expect image from Harley.

When either of those companies give us something else, we criticize them.

The last couple of times Harley tried to release something innovative, they were met with groans. Case in point, they replaced their Evolution engine with the Twin Cam, and they launched the V-Rod.

harley davidson 48But when Harley unveiled this new "48" Sportster, it got great press. People judge the 48 Sportster for its looks, not for its innovation. And indeed, it's looks cool.

At this stage of the game, Harley understands it doesn't have to build motorcycles anymore. We've come to accept Harley as an image company, not a motor company. Their motorcycles are just blank-canvasses with which they can splash on color and glitter and express a new idea in lifestyle.

You've all heard of "Eddie Bauer" right? That's a clothes designer that gives hikers and campers a softer look. Remember when they teamed up with Ford to make the Eddie Bauer edition Explorer?

And more closer to motorcycling is the Arlen Ness edition Victory motorcycles. They're Victory motorcycles, but with the design touches of Arlen and Cory Ness.

Well, at some point in time Harley should be able to stop making motorcycles altogether, and instead license their image to other manufacturers. So you can get the Harley edition Goldwing, or the Harley edition V-Strom.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Most Dangerous Roads Are In Your Head

The Smokey Mountain Rider writes today about US Hwy 129, referred by many as "Tail of the Dragon" or "Deals Gap"...
Truth is, motorcycle riders crash here due to their own expectations. The Tail of the Dragon near Deals Gap is so hyped as a challenging and dangerous motorcycle ride people believe they have to make it one.
And I would agree with that, and I think most riders do too.

Here in Southern California, much is made about "Ortega Highway", CA 74, running between Lake Elsinore and San Juan Capistrano. There's a couple of stretches running up and down a mountain range, and down through a steep canyon, where many motorcyclists have died.

Yet, there really isn't anything dangerous about Ortega Highway at all.

And something similar could be said of Palomar Mountain Road (County Hwy S6), also in Southern California, though it seems like far fewer accidents are reported on this road than Ortega Highway, even though Palomar is far more twisty and tight.

I think it's because each accident on Ortega Highway is given a spotlight due to the reputation the public has given it. And because of that reputation, newspapers continue to highlight the accidents, especially if it involved a motorcycle, and those reports only fuel the reputation.

Many women riders around here are afraid to ride Ortega. I've actually listened to some women tell me that. But once they've finally summoned up enough will to ride it, they're overcome with excitement to know that they conquered their fear, and are eager to tell everyone, "Hey guess what, I rode Ortega Highway!"

There is no such thing as a dangerous road. It's all in how you ride it that makes it dangerous. True, you could ride safely and still get creamed by someone else, but then again it's still not the road's fault.

If you're riding over your abilities, then I doubt you're having fun. Somehow, somewhere, peer pressure is causing you to ride that way.

And when enough people get killed on the same stretch of road, we end up fearing the road instead.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Holding in a Piss on a Motorcycle

motorcycles on a desert highwayAbout a few weeks ago, I went out riding with some friends to a couple of a taverns, one an Irish Pub in Dana Point, and another a brew-pub in Ladera Ranch, both in Orange County.

After the last stop, we headed out on our way back home along Ortega Highway, a popular road for motorcyclists in Southern California.

As we waited at the light, I looked over at Brian and said, "I'm going to stop at Hells Kitchen to take a piss."

After irrigating my blood vessels all afternoon, I had only taken one trip to the boys room. I should have done one more before leaving. But at this point, I could still hold it.

We got only a couple of miles down Ortega Highway, and the vibration of my Electra Glide and the little dips in the road just made it all worse. I couldn't take it any longer. I found a shoulder to pull over, and jumped off the bike, turned my back to the guys, and it fly. And it was a long, restful one too. I could hear the guys saying, "Damn Steve, you done yet?"

After I was done, I noticed one of the other bikes had been dismounted, but I could not find the rider anywhere. Then I noticed him on the other side of the highway, behind a bush, with his pants pulled down, and softening up some sheets of paper.

He came back to his bike minutes later and said, "Oh my God Steve, I am SO glad you pulled over! I didn't know what I was going to do!"

I'm sure he knew what to do. But he made it sound like he would rather crap his pants than to break off from the group. There's still a bit of question in the back of my mind if he actually would have crapped his pants.

And he's not the only one who made me wonder about this.

I know of another rider that has joined me on some rides who seemingly has to take a piss at every stop. That's how you can tell which guys in the group have enlarged prostates. But I haven't seen him pull up to the front of the group and look at me and say, "I gotta take a piss!" So, I can only the imagine the agony he endures.

I'm one of those guys who can hold in a piss for a long time, so it's not uncommon for me to go 2-3 hours of riding after everyone has had their morning coffee. That Electra Glide of mine can do 200 miles of range average.

But I have had guys in the back of the group break off, and me leading the group up front can't see them. I just ride on not realizing they broke off. I wonder if maybe this is one reason why some riders I meet only ride with me once, and then never ride with me again? It could be due to prostate-incompatibility.

I've also had some guys take a piss just before we're about to ride. They usually don't think about it due to being caught up in the excitement of chit-chatting and catching up with the latest news. It's only when they see everyone strapping their helmets on do they realize, "Uh oh, I better take a piss first."

And just this last weekend, I had a guy break off from the group to take a piss. There were only five of us, riding up Mount Palomar, which is like the motorcycle Nirvana of SoCal, seven miles of banked sweeping switchbacks, where riders of all kinds test their skills. Three of us got to the top, and then waited and waited and waited for the other two to catch up.

And when that much time passes by, and you don't see the rest of your guys, it often means someone went down. So with despair, I mounted my motorcycle and began the trek back down, with thoughts of blood and gore going through my mind. And then in a blur, there they go whizzing by me up the mountain. So I turn around, and catch back up to them, and find out someone had to pull over for a piss, in the middle of Palomar!

Imagine the sportbike riders dragging their knees around a corner and seeing some dude with his schlong hanging out?

And BTW, there actually is a company that makes a Texas Catheter for motorsports enthusiasts.

I suppose a really good ride leader would think of these things, and find a place to stop after an hour from morning coffee. But as it is, I don't think enough about these things. I'm usually too much into my own zone when on my bike, and so I'm not really cut out to be a Road Captain. I'm just like the rest of the guys I ride with, I'm just out to ride motorcycles and try not to worry about much.

Oh, and you know that Honda ST1300 that I've been talking about buying? Well it has a range of between 250 to 300 miles, so look out guys!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Farmville Bikers - A New Trend

farmvilleEveryone seems to be on Facebook these days. And eventually, you'll learn about Farmville.

The farm simulation game seems to be quite addicting. I have a lot of "Facebook friends" who ride motorcycles, and it seems several spend a lot time playing Farmville.

I had a Farmville farm going a while back, and then deleted it from my Facebook account. I'm an internet marketer by profession, and am always curious to learn how other internet companies are making money and drawing audiences. And now I know how addicting (and ridiculous) it can be.

I read comments from other Farmville players how they set their alarm clocks to wake up every four hours to harvest crops and maximize experience points, how they spent money via credit card to buy neon-pink barns to decorate their virtual farms.

Just curious, has Farmville had a positive/negative impact on your group/club?

Are your group/club members also Farmville neighbors?

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Getting My Money's Worth

So today I hooked up with some friends to go motorcycle riding. We rode some of the most challenging twisties in Southern California. I scraped the heck out of my floorboards on my Yamaha.

We ate a big lunch at a restaurant that had been featured on the show "Diners, Dives & Drive-Ins.

Then we rode more twisties back home, and stopped at our favorite watering hole to drink some of the world's best microbrews. There, we laughed, we joked, and told each other lies.

And now I'm composing this blog post on my BlackBerry in a steakhouse with my wife over a rib eye steak.

I feel as if I have spent the whole the day and gotten my money's worth. I'm tired right now. That means there's not much left. And if there's not much left then I've given it all I've got.

And so if you can say that you spent the afternoon in the company of riding friends, riding the most challenging roads in the area, and having the most fun doing it, under the sunshine of the best riding environment in the USA, enjoying the best food and drink, and hanging with these buddies like you did in college, and finishing the evening with someone you love, then my friends, you must live in Southern California!

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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...)