Thursday, December 28, 2006


The seasons have gone from green, to brown, and finally to white. Yes, there's a few inches of snow on the ground, and although it only came on boxing day, I guess since the holidays aren't over yet I'm still technically safe to be whistling "White Christmas". The same as the seasons are changing, so are many aspects of my life. Got a new job now, and I'm making a bit more money, which invariably means that I'll be spending more money (ain't capitalism great?). So rather than go out and spend it frivolously, we've decided to build our house.

The next nine months or so are going to be crazy. First, we have to sell our current home, then there'll be the infinite number of meetings with the contractor, waiting in line at city hall for building permits, picking paint colours from swatches, kitchen cabinets, lighting fixtures, flooring, etc... Ah yes, sweet misery!

Luckily for me, my wife's great at coordinating (read: giving orders), so this will really be her moment to shine. Essentially, I'm trusting her with most of the decisions; since she knows what she's doing and I obviously don't. My only criteria for the house was that it have a double-garage with a workshop... and I got it! Finally, I'll have some elbow room when working on the bike.

To all my fellow cyber-bikers out there, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Prosperous Eid ul-Adha, or whatever else you wish to celebrate during this holiday season. Hope to catch you around the bend in 2007!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Liquid-Cooled Sportster?

O.K. - so it seems the rumour mill is running full steam, and there have been many reports of a prototype liquid-cooled HD Sportster being spied in Arizona or somewhere. Motorcyclist Magazine even went as far as producing a photoshopped version of what it might look like.

The feedback in some HD forums has been pretty much split; sure the die-hards don't want anything to change (I've even met some that were upset when HD started rubber-mounting the engine), but many seemed open to the idea. Eventually, HD will have to do something to make their engines a little more eco-friendly to meet EPA regulations - maybe liquid cooling could help them meet these objectives?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Dismount the Carousel

Yet another calendar is on its way towards the garbage can as this seventh post-millenium year is slowly approaching its expiration date. For most people, a year's end is time to contemplate, or celebrate... for motorcycle nuts like me its time to overdose on all the new models and accessories that are coming out!

The bigger 'n better trend is always obvious, although in the cruiser category I think most manufacturers have signed a temporary truce due to the Vulcan 2000 and Rocket III pretty much trumping everything else! Yamaha has still fired a shot though with their Stratoliner/Roadliner duo; and although the "Neo-Streamline" styline is nice, it still doesn't up the ante in the cruiser displacement wars. Nope, one of the coolest things I can spot this year is in the sport-touring category.

After a 20+ year run and building a large following of dedicated fans, Kawi has finally decided to give the Connie an overhaul. But, man-o-man, was it ever worth the wait! Although initial details are still preliminary, what we do know is that the engine and tranny are based on the ZX-14 (ouch!), with an interesting shaft drive that should minimize or eliminate jacking. Add creature comforts like electrically adjustable windshield, big seat, and beautifully integrated luggage and you've got me salivating. I wonder if the big guys at Yamaha and BMW are sweating yet? It will all come down to how much Kawi wants for the new Concours. If they can bring it to market for about $1K less than the FJR, they've got a winner.

Speaking of affordable performance, Ducati's new 1098 (say 10-9-8, like a countdown) is not only an improvement over the 999 performance-wise, it's also a real thing of beauty. Oh, and did I mention that it retails for just under $15K? Yeah, baby! I'm thinking that this could be a real good seller for Ducati and just might leave a mark on the Big-4 Japanese brands.

BMW continues with it's complete revamp of all models, first it was the GS, then the RT, R, K-GT, and now they're coming out with some twins and revised thumpers. Seems like the only "aged" model in their stable is luxo-tourer K1200LT. It probably won't be too long before that too gets a makeover (easy guess: new inline-4 from the rest of the K series, retuned for more bottom-end torque).

So far, it's lining up to be a very good year!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

For Medicinal Purposes

I’ve got a rather cheerful demeanour. I always try to keep a smile on my face and take life’s low points with a grain of salt (and a lime wedge, and a shot of tequila). But every year at about this time I get a case of the blues which usually lasts a few weeks. I can feel it coming on and I dread it more than just about anything else. The symptoms are consistent from year to year: lack of enthusiasm, no energy, mildly depressive, etc…

The root of my problem is quite simple: I hate winter. I don’t like the cold and all the little inconveniences it brings. Numb toes, scraping the windshield, salty pant cuffs, slippery sidewalks: these are a few of my least favourite things. Above all, the idea of putting away the bike for (at least) four months is what really gets to me.

You see, for me the motorcycle truly does represent “The Perfect Vehicle” as Melissa Holbrook Pierson so eloquently wrote. When I’m riding, I’m much more aware of my surroundings. I feel the bike under me, and I know that by shifting my weight a certain way, the bike will react accordingly. Freshly cut hay fields and pine forests offer a sensory buffet; while the bike sometimes hums, and other times sings.

For me, that remains the best therapy for dealing with life’s ups and downs. Maybe it’s simply the thought of losing those daily “sessions” that eventually gets to me and brings on the dreaded cabin fever blues.

The upside (and yes, there really is one) is that absence makes the heart grow fonder; and when spring rolls around and I pull the tarp off of my two-wheeled steed, all is wonderful in the world yet again.

Getting C-C-C-Cold!

After a few weeks of Indian summer with temps in the high teens it's back to reality with the mercury hoverying just above the freezing mark. The temp was only 2° Celsius this morning . Gawd do I hate winter! Guess I'll have to switch to four wheels soon and put the Strom away for winter.

Yeah, I'll admit to being a wimp when it comes to riding in winter. I mean, on some days it's hard to get to work in the car - so I can't imagine how challenging it would be on the bike. Of course, we can't all be die-hard motorcyclists like Gary!

To all my two-wheeled friends in colder climes, I tip my hat and raise my glass to you! Here's a toast: "May winter be short and the frost heaves be mild, and when the sun shines again may your spirit be wild!"

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Passion, or Practicality?

Why do we ride the bikes we do? I mean, what pushes an individual to choose a certain brand, style or type of motorcycle? Although I haven’t been able to find any hard numbers on the subject, I think I’d be willing to make an educated guess. It all boils down to either practicality or passion, and more often than not it’s a combination of both. But which one tips the scales?

If we were to look at it on a global scale, the differences between riders from Europe, Asia, Africa and North America would be great. It’s rather safe to say that for most North American riders, motorcycling is more about passion than practicality. We’re weekend riders for the most part, with very few of us commuting on two wheels. In über-congested cities in Europe and Asia, it’s a whole different story. People from all walks of life, from students to bankers and whatever in between, ride scooters and small-displacement bikes as a practical and economical means of transportation. Check out the European websites for some of the major motorcycle manufacturers and count how many 125cc street bikes they’re offering. On this side of the pond, the only one that comes to mind would be Kawi’s cruiser-like Eliminator.

In most cases, I think North Americans follow their hearts rather than their heads and go with the passion. Call it sentimentality or melancholy, but we all want something that moves us not just physically, but emotionally too. For many riders out there, a cruiser or chopper is what does it: primal, powerful (looking & sounding, at least) and plenty of flash (chrome, leather, and oh-so-many accessories). Put on your doo-rag, chaps and leather-fringe jacket and voilà: instant badass! OK, I’ll admit to a bit of sarcasm in the last remark, but essentially it all comes down to escaping the everyday. We all know a Hell’s Accountant or a member of the Orthodontist Outlaw Biker club; people who work from 9 to 5 in a repetitive job that might not light their fires the way it used to. For these riders, putting on the leathers and going out for a ride provides a much needed escape. More power to ‘em, I say. If riding makes you feel good, then by all means embrace your inner outlaw.

What about the squids? Same escapism. Downshifting to fifth gear and feeling the unchained power of a screaming inline-4 putting down insane amounts of horsepower to the rear wheel while you launch into orbit is one surefire way to remind yourself what it means to be alive. Sure, some guys ride crotch rockets much more for show than go; and although they can do wheelies and stoppies ‘til they’re blue in the face, many really lose it when faced with a decreasing radius turn and end up on the wrong side of the double yellow. Still, for that split second when the engine is spinning at over 10,000 rpm and your pegs are shooting sparks off the pavement while you’re holding on for dear life in a sphincter pucker moment, you completely forget what was troubling you at the office that day. I’ve got to admit, it’s about as close to nirvana as you can get without heavy meditation or illegal substances!

Maybe leaving scratches in the dirt in some forestscape or sand dune is more your liking? Again, you’d have to be the world’s most advent yuppie to be thinking about your latest stock transaction while you’re getting some really nice air between two dirt mounds at high velocity.

When it comes to dirtbikes, I think the accent tends to be more on the practicality then pure passion. Sure, there’s a certain amount of passion involved when riding any bike; but only a true afficionado will get that warm fuzzy feeling when simply looking at a mud encrusted trail whacker. Dirtbikes are built to a specific purpose, and to meet the requirements they must be light, tall and cary enough oomph to get you over that next hill. Don’t look for fancy fairings or chrome doodads on something with knobbies - it just doesn’t belong there because it serves no useful purpose. Just the right tool for the job.

So what kind of emotional escape does a touring bike offer you? Sure it won’t impress the girls at the local bar, and you’ll rarely try to pull a stoppie on a full dresser - although, I’ve known a few who were just crazy enough... Nope, a touring bike lets you really escape. To the next town, down the road less travelled, or heck you might even want to try out a whole other country.

Touring bikes are some kind of a compromise. Many have all the comfort, power and electronics of a small corporate jet. You’ll even find things like ABS, GPS and even airbags and traction control to make sure the journey is a safe one. But they’ve also got the drool factor built-in. Luxo-tourers like the K1200LT and Goldwing are huge and impressive. Sport tourers like the venerable FJR, the ST1300 or the R1200RT combine all-day comfort with agressive lean angle while still turning a few heads when fuelling-up. After all, it’s one thing to bragg about your latest Iron Butt ride; but if no one actually takes the time to walk over and check out your bike what’s the use?

The bottom line, and to quote rockin’ songstress Sheryl Crow: “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad”.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Lord Tunderin' - Ban The Loud Exhausts!

Just got back from a week of meetings in Québec City. Unfortunately, my employer no longer allows us to use our personal vehicles for company travel - so I had to hop on a plane rather than ride my trusty V-Strom. Boring? Yes. However, I was surprised that the security personnel at the airport were at least pleasant to deal with (contrary to their usual demeanor). But I digress, this is a motorcycle blog after all!

For those of you who've never been to Québec City, I highly recommend it. It's about as close to Europe as you can get without leaving the continent (of course, St-Pierre and Miquelon islands are an exception). The Old City is among North America's only fortified cities (it's enclosed within a stone wall), and it's listed on UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. A word of advice however: take the plane, or the car, or even a horse. Ain't no use in going on two wheels, because you won't be able to visit some of the city's best assets with that particular mode of transportation. Wondering why? Read on.

I was lucky enough to be staying at the beautiful Château Laurier, just a few steps from the Old City and its European flair. While walking along the streets that line one of the gates into the Old City, a number of street signs caught my eye. The first was posted on all the parking meters along the Grande Allée, which is a busy street lined with restaurants, terraces, hotels and various nightclubs. These small stick-on signs were on the posts for the parking meters and had the international icon for "No Parking" with a depiction of a motorcycle underneath. Yup, you guessed it! Motorcycles are not allowed to park along this street. Not only that, most of the metered and drive-in parking lots within a three block radius of this area are off limits to motorcycles! Care to ponder why? Simple, the local business owners and residents were fed-up with the excessive noise of straight-pipes and sport exhausts; so they lobbied city hall and had the restrictions put in place. So if you're in this particular area in Québec City, you can drive through but don't stop, 'cause you'll have no place to park.

Of course, if you are driving through, be sure to take the detour before you get to the gates of the Old City. As is clearly marked on street signs along Grande Allée, all motorcycles must exit before the gates, as they are not allowed within the narrow streets of the Old City. Again, you can thank the Loud Pipes crowd for that one. Since these streets are narrow, mostly made of cobblestones, and most of the small historical buildings are made of brick, stone and mortar; the sound from loud exhausts would reverberate throughout these streets and be a nuisance to all within earshot.

Now I read that Edmonton's Chief of Police is lobbying for similar rules in certain parts of that city. Once again, motorcyclists everywhere will be made to pay for other's need for attention.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Motorcycle Movies (That Don't Suck)!

I've been tasked with organising movie night for a bunch of buddies (all motorcyclists), and I'm wondering if anybody has some suggestions for a good motorcycle-oriented movie. Before you start listing names though, here are some that I've already crossed out:

  • Easy Rider: C'mon, it's just too kitsh. Besides, who hasn't seen it anyhow? Not to mention that it wouldn't be a very original choice...
  • Motorcycle Diaries: Although a very good movie, it doesn't so much evolve around the motorcycle.
  • Torque: Cheesy.
  • Biker Boyz: Über-cheesy.

Once movie I've been considering is The Fastest Indian starring Sir Anthony Hopkins. I've heard alot of good things about it, so maybe that'll be the ticket.

Suggestions are welcomed!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Dangerous Deeds

My mother hates motorcycles. But then again, who's mother doesn't?

Time and time again I've heard her retell the story of the biker that crashed in front of the family farm when she was a young girl. The biker in question didn't die, but I can understand how the mangled and bloody mess of a man that he was could've left a few emotional scars on any child who witnessed it. I've never lied about how dangerous riding a motorcycle can be - not to my mother or to myself - but does that mean that I should cower away and hide, never to ride a motorcycle again? Hell no!

Like so many other things in life that put a smile on your face, there is some risk involved and you must gauge that risk everytime you head out. How well you evaluate the risk will most likely define how good a motorcyclist you really are, much moreso than wheelies and stoppies. So many times when I'm riding through time, either on my daily commute or just running errands, I see motorcyclists doing stupid things. This can range from bad form, like tailgating or wrong lane position; to complete dumb ass behaviour like the aforementioned wheelies.

Do I have a problem with stunt riders? No. What I do have a problem with is when these same riders chose to demonstrate their skills in city traffic. It's not only the inherent danger of going nuts on city streets that rubs me the wrong way; but I also hate the image of motorcyclists in general that they're promoting. Every town has a few abandoned roads or parking lots where they can go nuts; so why don't they? Simple reason, they need the attention. Like children who scream "Pick Me!" to their teacher, they need the validation of others to justify their existence. OK, I admit that was a bit psychological - but you've got to admit that there's some truth to it.

Anyhow - rant mode off. Final message is this: "Don't worry Mom, although there are alot of dumb riders out there, you raised me better than that!"

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Paint Yourself Into A Corner

I've got a few friends who ride Harleys and, although I'm not a big fan of the marque, I do admire how HD has gone from near bankruptcy under AMF's lead in the early eighties to being über-profitable thanks in large part to Willie G. and Vaughn Beals. The quality has gone up, as have the prices (exponentially so). And of course, people are still lining up to get a Hog; but not as much as they were a few years ago. The big-4 Japanese manufacturers are coming out with bikes designed to steal HD's thunder: Yamaha's Roadliner is more powerful yet lighter than most of HD's offerings, Kawasaki shook everybody's boots with the massive 2-litre V-Twin in their Vulcan 2000, and now even Suzuki who has been lacking in the cruiser department has come out with the M109, a rather modern looking machine with plenty of power to slap many a' Hog's bottom.

The biggest problem I can foresee for poor old HD is how to evolve without losing its fanbase. Sure, the whole VRSC series is new; but then again the feedback from hardcore dyed-in-the-wool HD aficionados was anything but pleasant when it first came out. Many were dismayed that the Harley badge would be afixed to a water-cooled 60-degree V-Twin engine that was designed in large part by Porsche - a german company. However, marketing got the best of everybody and the V-Rod and its various offspring are selling rather nicely.

But what if the design team at HD wants to go further? I'm sure that there are sketches of more modern looking bikes in the desk drawers at HD, and I wouldn't be so quick to blame Willie G. for holding them back. In essence, Harley has created a monster that they can't seem to overcome: their own customers. A big chunk of HD's clientèle are the recently retired baby boomers who either had a bike "before", or have always dreamed of getting one. Check out any Harley advertisement and it's rather obvious who they're aiming for. It's the American Dream: freedom of the open road, no rules, no schedule... Essentially, pure unadulterated fun - exactly what the doctor ordered after a lifetime of sitting behind a desk.

But the boomers aren't dreaming of Ninjas or Gixxers - they want the bike that stirred their souls when they were kids, and the only brand still available is Harley Davidson. And wouldn't you know it; they're still producing practically the same bikes that were cool back when Dad still had hair. Take the money you've been saving for a rainy day and buy one off the showroom floor; then show your individuality by customizing it with accessories from the official HD catalog (the same catalog that all your other HD friends are buying from).

So what happens to the younger crowd, generation x'ers like me: thirty-something DINKs (Dual-Income, No Kids) that don't buy into the melancholy marketing because we simply weren't born back then and couldn't give a damn about Captain America. That's your generation Pops, not mine. There's money in our pockets and we're looking to spend it, but HD doesn't have the product. We simply go to whatever else is out there; be it Japanese, Italian, Deutshe or British. Even ancient manufacturers like Triumph have managed to keep one foot in the past to keep the traditionalists happy (ex. Bonneville), while looking towards the future with more modern machines for the younger crowd (ex. Daytona 675) - and they've still managed to retain their identity in the process.

So how does Harley break out of the paradigm? Well, Buell is a step in the right direction. HD found an ingenious young motorcycle designer and partnered with him (i.e. more or less bought 'em out) to start producing sportbikes. There is one broken tooth in the cog though; it's a given that Erik Buell's designs are truly original and forward thinking in many aspects, but the heart and soul of these bikes, namely the engine, is simply out of the tired old Sportster's parts bin. The "Evolution" V-Twin is not exactly what I'd call cutting-edge technology, which would explain why most Buells will get left in the dust when up against Japan and Italy's finest.

So maybe the movers and shakers at HD should take it one step further and start yet another spinoff brand. A hypothetical name could be "Freedom Motorcycles" or maybe "Liberty Bikes", I mean just about any word judged to be patriotic could do the trick - no matter. They could distance themselves a bit more from this sub-brand, and the advantage to this duality would be two-fold. On one hand, they could pull in a younger demographic who never would've considered getting an HD, and on the other hand this would prevent upsetting the more traditional crowd. Maybe then they could start producing bikes that would really compete with what the rest of the world is offering right now. How about designing a small V6 engine to power a sportsbike? Think it sounds crazy? Well, maybe you remember Mazda's 1.8 litre V6. French custom bike builder Ludovic Lazareth built a frame around it and turned it into something special. Heck, I'm sure the same engine would be easy to fit into a true luxury touring bike to compete with the Goldwing and K1200LT. Or maybe they could design a smaller V3 to fit in some naked bikes. They could stick in some technology that the older generation wouldn't consider kosher; stuff like ABS, variable valve timing, shaft drives, and the list goes on... Whatever - the slate is clean. They just wouldn't have to concentrate on cruisers anymore; they've already got that segment covered.

Anyhow, I'm just thinking out loud... Maybe somebody over at Harley Davidson headquarters in Milwaukee will come across this blog and it'll spark a few ideas? Here's to hoping that the spark catches!

Them's The Brakes

It would seem that the rumours that have been floating around the various V-Strom forums for the past few months are true; Suzuki is actually coming out with optional ABS for the DL650 on the new 2007 models. What's surprising is that they'll be offering no such option for big brother DL1000. Although details are sketchy, the one thing that has been confirmed is the price - an ABS equipped Wee-Strom will cost you an extra $500. I'm hoping that it'll have a shut-off on the ABS, similar to some BMW GS models, so that you can disable it when riding in gravel or dirt.

More details to follow...

To Roll, Or Not To Roll...

So I didn't sleep very well last night due to a mild case of the sniffles. Woke up this morning feeling pretty much shitty, so I called in sick at work and decided to take it slow. Checked out a few blogs, dropped a comment here and there, and just generally didn't do anything constructive. So here's my dilemma: the sun just came out, I'm feeling much better, and the road beckons... So what should I do?

Although the temptation is great, I'd feel really bad about going out on the bike when (in all honesty) I could've gone to work this afternoon. The office has already called me this morning 'cause they needed my input on a draft procedures document - so what do I do if they try to reach me this afternoon and I'm out carving the curves?

Ah hell, having a guilty conscience is a real bitch. Think I'll just go out in the garage and work on the bike instead; at least that'll give me a bit of "quality time" for now.

Hide or Synth?

Picked-up the latest copy of Motorcycle Escape last weekend, a touring-oriented magazine that was published about once a year by the folks over at Primedia (also responsible for Motorcycle Cruiser, Motorcyclist, Dirt Rider, etc.). I was glad to read in Jamie's editorial that they've decided to start publishing Motorcycle Escape seasonally (4x per year), as I find it's a rather good read. Although similar in content to Road Runner, I find the overall layout a tad better in Escape.

The Riding Boots Buyer's Guide was a good read, although certain models seem to have been left out... But what really caught my attention while flipping through the pages was the Leather vs. Textile comparison that Marc Cook penned. It seems that this is a constant debate amongst motorcyclists. Although Cook's article wasn't anywhere as deep and researched as the now legendary helmet article that appeared in Motorcyclist last year, it's still a good overview of the pros and cons of both leather and textiles. Although the conclusions weren't surprising to anyone, it's still nice to have it put in print. Leather does offer better protection, but it should be noted that not all hides are created equal. Many of the more "fashion" leathers that I see some bikers riding around in won't offer much protection in a fall. What looks good at the bar might not do so well going over the bars! In a long slide, race-quality leather will offer the best protection without overheating or tearing apart.

So if leather is the safest option, why shell-out big bucks for an Aerostich suit? Simple, it's a matter of comfort. Textile is simply a more versatile material. This is most likely why many long-distance tourers have gone to synthetics rather than their former cowhide. A Cordura jacket is lighter and cooler than a leather equivalent, plus it offers other advantages like being easy to wash. Textiles are usually better in rain and humidity; where leather will take hours and hours to dry, I usually just empty the pockets on my suit, take out the armor and throw it in the dryer. This is a big plus for me, as when I'm touring I don't always have the time to wait for a leather suit to dry up before heading out again. [TOURING TIP: If you're riding long hours in the rain - even with a rainsuit over your gear - stop for a break at a truckstop. Most of them offer laundry facilities. Take off your jacket and riding pants and throw them in the dryer while you go for a slice of pie and a cup of coffee. It's alot easier heading back out in the rain when you've got a nice warm and dry suit on. You just can't do this with leather.]

My overall opinion is that leather is best for specific applications; like racing, canyon carving, or lazy afternoon cruising when the weather's right. Textiles, although offering less protection than high quality cowhide, are resilient and versatile. When you're leaving for two weeks of touring and luggage space is limited, it's a fair bet that a textile suit will be your final choice simply because it can adapt more easily to varying weather.

One rule does apply to both leather and synthetics: cheap price equals low quality. If you're serious about your own hide, don't skimp when getting gear to protect it!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Body By Coleman, Part II

I’ve been making fun of Yamaha’s new odd-duck of a scooter, the oddly named XF50 C3-Cubed, when in fact they can’t even be blamed for coming up with the basis of this design in the first place. That distinction would have to go to Harley-Davidson’s mid-sixties “Topper” – yes, you heard right boys and girls, HD once made a scooter! The Topper was interesting in the fact that it was big when compared to other scoots. In all fairness though, most scooters from the sixties and seventies were none too nice to look at with the possible exception of Vespas.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Cager’s Perception of Motorcyclists

I consider myself to be a well grounded person, so I’m not often struck by great discoveries and shouts of “Eureka”. This makes it all the more surprising when I do have a notable moment of lucidity. Such an event happened last week at work when I was chatting with one of my co-workers about motorcycling; which in itself holds no big surprise, as it’s one of my favourite subjects. The guy I was talking with is your typical mid-forties office worker with wife and kids, a house in the suburbs, minivan, etc. He likes hockey, talking politics, and has a beer every now and then. He takes two weeks off in the summer, one week at Christmastime, and another for March Break. He doesn’t ride and has never ridden a motorcycle, nor has anybody in his family, so when it comes to motorcycling he’s a complete virgin full of preconceptions.

It was while talking to him that I had one of those “A-ha!” moments when it all finally made sense. Here’s my big conclusion: Cagers actually accept media hype as the truth when it comes to motorcycling. This guy couldn’t believe that I actually rode a motorcycle without being in some kind of “gang”. To me this was a great surprise, as I had no idea that it was some kind of prerequisite. So I simply explained (very slowly) that motorcycles are not only a fun way to get from point A to point B; but they also make sense from an economical and environmental standpoint. He had to sit patiently through my spiel which goes something like this: “How often have you noticed a big gas guzzling SUV rolling down the highway with the driver as the sole occupant? Now imagine if that same driver had been riding a +50mpg motorcycle. Wouldn’t that make more sense?” I love this argument because anybody with a shred of ecological conscience (and at least half an ounce of grey matter) simply can’t refute it.

He was then surprised to learn that my riding suit covered everything from head to toe in a synthetic material (i.e. no chaps or leather fringe). Again, I explained that many riders prefer to have a riding suit that adheres to a certain fashion; while my personal preference was to wear something that would keep me as safe as possible in case of an accident. I didn’t bother going into the whole leather vs. synthetic issue as both have their pros and cons, and such a discussion would most likely have been over his head.

Finally, he was left completely confused after looking at my bike, which clearly isn’t a cruiser, nor is it a sportbike. Again, I explained that there are many different styles of motorcycles that correspond to different riders’ styles and preferences. My choice is a motorcycle that can handle both the daily commute and a cross-country trip.

I figure I’ll let my teachings sink into buddy’s cranium before I start instructing him on the fine points of countersteering, but I can just hear it now: “You mean by turning left you go right?!?” Oh boy, my work here is not done.

Engine By Yamaha, Body By Coleman!

OK, so it seems the designers at Yamaha have attended one too many tailgate parties and their fondness of beer coolers have made it not only onto the drawing board, but into full-fledged production! If you're wondering what I'm referring to, check out the new-for-2007 XF50 C-Cubed scooter. Uhm, yeah... Their marketing blurb even states "Bet you will have trouble wiping the smile from your face." Sure, I'm always smiling when I'm nauseous.

I'm wondering what Yamaha's been trying to do with their latest designs. Sure the Maxam 3000 concept scooter was an interesting retro design that harks back to the domestic mega-sedans of the late sixties and seventies; but that was a concept. This thing is actually available (or will be) at a dealer near you.

Aww heck, what do I know? If Honda was actually able to sell both the Ruckus and Big Ruckus scooters which look like they were designed by Caterpillar, maybe Yamaha's two-wheeled Coleman will actually sell a few units after all...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Fearing What's Ahead

Last week I rambled on about fear and its effects on the motorcyclist when riding. In the right dose it can be a good thing, but too much of it will kill you (applicable to so many other things in life, I know). Yesterday morning I was out riding and fear was there, hidden in one of the dark corners of my mind of which there are so many. This fear was different though, as it was a more general feeling; not a specific sort of "watch out for that tree" or "cellphone wearing SUV cager" kind of fear, which creeps up on you when you least expect it (so always expect it, eh?). Nope, this was a fear that starts to rear its ugly mug every year about this time: winter's coming.

OK, I'll admit that it's rather grim to start talking about the "W" word in late August, but I've already seen the signs: days are getting shorter fast, the nights are way cooler, and - horror of horrors - I've even seen the boys at the Dept. of Transportation working on their snowplows! I suppose this yearly cycle is something that should be embedded in my soul, having been born in the snow on that January morning thirty-some years ago; but sometimes I can't help but wonder if there is any truth to the concept of reincarnation, and if so I'm quite convinced that my previous life (or lives) was spent somewhere warm with no snow, or freezing rain, or frost heaved roads, etc.

Late August is always a rather blue time of year for me, as it signals the downward spiral towards winter. Everything before the 8th month is a build-up, but after there's little hope until next spring. Oh, there's still alot of good riding time left before the V-Strom gets put into hibernation (last year roads were good until mid-december), but the added layers of clothing, thicker gloves and frost on the helmet visor somehow take a bit away from the fun of it.

Oh yeah, and riding in a cage just isn't fun (they lean the wrong way in corners you know)!

Bah, enough doom and gloom, I better go out riding before December gets here.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Fischer Motors Revisited

So the Fischer MRX is actually going into full production... OK, at the risk of again getting some flack from cybernauts, I've still got to raise a few issues about Fischer's new "American Superbike". Some of you may recall my critique of Fischer's marketing department and their choice to label the MRX as an American bike (see here and here). Now, I don't personally have a problem with using patriotism to sell wares when the label accurately fits (heck, it's worked rather well for HD); but the MRX is a British-designed, Korean-powered bike with more imported components than you can shake a shift lever at.

They've even got the cojones to claim the MRX to be the "first American Superbike"! Hello, paging Mr. Buell - are you listening to this. Granted, I'm not the biggest Buell fan either, but at least he used an American designed mill and tranny on his bikes.

Oh, and one last thing: I thought that superbikes had to have a 901 to 1000cc engine to fit the designation, at least that's the AMA's definition. Who let this little 650 v-twin in anyhow? Whatever, their marketing department doesn't seem to mind bending the truth now and then if it can get them more hype. I'll be curious to see if sales live up to all the expletives they're throwing around.

Anyhow, let the flaming begin...

BMW's R1200 Goes Nekkid!

Read today on Total Motorcycle that BMW will be coming out with a roadster (i.e. naked) version of their R1200 bike in 2007. No big surprise here, as they've been producing roadster versions of the R series for quite a few years now. If we're to compare with the older R1150R, the new one's lighter (Wet Weight about 492lbs) and more powerful with 109hp.

So if the RT was too big, the S too sporty and the ST, well, too fugly - maybe the R is the one for ya!

Variety Is The Spice Of Life

I wonder how some bikers do it? Riding the same model and/or make of bike for years and years... It seems to me that there are so many bikes out there just waiting for me to hop on, that it would be a waste to keep riding the same one. Of course, some will argue that they've simply found the "perfect fit", which is OK too.

If your current ride is everything you could ever want in a bike, then more power to ya! I guess my problem is that bikes are like jeans or shoes, over the years they seem to mold to your body - but my body sure as hell doesn't fit in the same mold as it used to. Jeans and shoes also wear out eventually, or they go out of style. This is the same with most bikes, except maybe cruisers that have pretty much had the same look for the past sixty years.

One of my bandmates recently labelled me a compulsive consumer that was too easily influenced by media and marketing hype. To be honest, he's probably right. I suppose if I'd chosen some more traditional hobbies like, uhm, I don't know... knitting? Seems you can't really farkle a quilt, or do grandmas really get excited over the latest model titanium knitting needles? But I digress... My passions are photography (new cameras and technologies seem to come out every other day), music (guitars, keyboards, drums - not exactly cheap), and motorcycling (bling, farkles, new models, more power, better ergos, etc.).

Everytime I read a magazine that talks about the latest bikes and what they have to offer over last year's models, I get that warm fuzzy feeling which usually means that my wallet is about to lose some weight. I love it when they come out with some sort of new fangled system, be it ABS, single-sided swingarms, reactive shaft drive, variable valve timing... The stuff that makes the more "traditionalist" crowd of motorcyclists gasp! I admire the guys (and gals) that can wrench an old 50's bike back to life; but let's be honest, if auto manufacturers still produced 50's designs they'd be out of business. For some reason, the nostalgia factor seems to be part of the attraction to many motorcyclists. Hey, whatever works for you. Personally, I want something with today's technology; I'll take lightweight alloys over mild steel any day of the week.

Of course, I love my V-Strom and it's been a very reliable and fun bike; but there's just too many other options to ignore.

Slippin' and a Slidin'

Read an interesting post by Christine where she relates a recent scare she had while negotiating a turn. Seems there was some sand on the road which made her a bit nervous (I know the feeling - tar snakes do the same for me), and while concentrating on the sand she inadvertently went wide and almost into oncoming traffic. Rest assured, nobody got hurt.

I won't go into a long winded discussion on target fixation and how your eyes should always be looking where you want to go, 'cause I figure most motorcyclists have heard it before (if not, please sign-up for a motorcycle safety course now). Specifically, I want to talk about fear.

Fear isn't always a bad thing, and to be quite honest with you I tend to embrace it. But like all things, I guess there's a bit of yin and yang to fear. Good fear is the kind that keeps you alert and reminds you of your own limits; it also pushes you to improve your skills. The bad fear is the crippling kind; when it overpowers your ability to think and react accordingly to the situation at hand. Many have already seen the Bike Crashes Into A Tree video; and although it's an excellent demonstration of how target fixation can be a bad thing, I think it also speaks volumes on fear. Obviously, the guy isn't having a panic attack or anything quite as traumatic, but his fear of the unknown (in this case - the motorcycle) prevented him from doing any number of things to prevent the crash. He could've used the brakes, let go of the throttle, pull-in the cluth, turned the handlebars, etc... Instead, he ran right into the tree at a very low speed (1st gear, barely above idle).

So how does one get over the fear of sand on the roadway? Simple - get a dirtbike and go to school. No matter what kind of streetbike you ride, from a Naked Ducati, to a full dresser Harley, you will learn more in one afternoon of dirtbiking with a 125CC thumper than a full year's worth of pavement pounding. Don't have a dirt bike? Then rent, borrow or buy one. Even a cheap, beat-up MX from the seventies will allow you to feel what it's like to have the rear wheel lose traction in a turn - a very humbling experience the first time around! All that you learn in the dirt will carry over onto the tarmac.

Fill that bag of experience!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hybrid Prototypes

Yesterday I was reading an article in the paper about all the new hybrid cars and SUV's that manufacturers are coming out with and it got me thinking (never a good thing, I know). Why hasn't this technology crossed over to motorcycles yet? Well, it seems some manufacturers are consitering it, in the conceptual sense.

Yamaha unveiled a few concept bikes last year that are interesting. Problem is, they're just concepts... Not to mention that they're not exactly the most appealing bikes to look at! The GEN-Ryu is an interesting idea for a sport touring rig, but the looks sort've remind me of a sixties cartoon vision of the future. But then again, remember how people reacted when Ford came out with the Taurus? I've got to give Yamaha kudos for thinking-up these bikes though; and you've got to admit that if any company were to actually bring this kind of stuff to market, it would be Yami (hint: remember the GTS-1000 with that cool single-sided fork?). Just one thing though, if they do put these into production, I'm hoping the marketing people will put a better name on them. I mean really, would you want to be riding around on a scooter called the FC-Me?!?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Can You Hear Me Now?

Had a chat with some riding buddies about the whole loud pipes issue and I was surprised by some of their opinions. Of course, the guys who already had straight pipes on their bikes were adamant that it was their "right" to do so, and that they did it for "safety" reasons. My oh my, how humble! To be honest, I've heard those rehashed arguments thousands of times and it's not really what I was interested in. What really caught my attention were the ones who did it without really having a reason. Sheep mentality rules, it would seem, as many cruiser riders admitted that they had installed V&H straight pipes (a rather pricey downgrade) because "everybody has loud pipes". These are most likely the same people who get into motorcycling to show their individuality.

I'm not against motorcycles having a certain music to them (the sound from a stock CB750 from the seventies is still music to my ears), but I have to draw the line when a v-twin starts producing enough noise to drown out an Airbus at takeoff. What's truly sad is that some of these cruisers go through all this trouble (and money) to get more attention - why else? - yet a mildly talented rider on a Ninja 250R could still wipe their ass in the twisties! Which brings me to a simple equation:

Loud Noise ≠ Power

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Too Deaf to Hear the Complaints?

It seems the good citizens of Edmonton are now pressuring their elected leaders to do something about the excessive noise generated by some motorcycles. I wouldn't be surprised one bit if they end up getting what they want: an outright ban of motorcycles in parts of the city. Think it sounds a bit too draconian? Consider this: Québec city has a by-law prohibiting motorcycles from entering within the "Old City". Not just straight pipes and sport exhausts - ALL BIKES!

I guess eventually I'll be forced to agree with the "Straight Pipes Save Lives" crowd; because there simply won't be any places left to ride, so there won't be any bike accidents left to speak of!

Oh, and one final message to the fat bastard who rides by my street at midnight on his way home from the bar and does the obligatory blip of the throttle at the stop sign: SCREW YOU!


Tired of the Heat?

CMG Online had the rather peculiar idea to publish a story in the middle of summer (well, maybe the tail-end) about an endurance race held in northern Alberta where people do 24 hours around a 9km track carved onto the surface of a frozen lake with - ahem - scooters.

Sounds too strange to be true? Read-up, it really happened!

When Credit is Due.

Motorcyclist Magazine's September issue is the long awaited "best of 2006" edition. Every year, the two-wheeled editors and staff at the mag (one of my favourite mags - I might add) pick out the year's 10 best bikes, then they pick one as Motorcycle Of The Year (or MOTY as it has become known). Last year's choice, the BMW K1200R, surprised a many readers and the ensuing letters to the editor were ripe with either applauds or pans. This year, they've gone with what Cycle Canada categorized as an "Odd Duck" just last month: the Triumph Daytona 675.

At first glance and from afar, the 675 looks like your typical sportsbike. Its only when you get closer that you notice that it ain't all that. In lieu of the typical inline-4 is a triple. Yup, a triple! Also, just by looking at it you can tell that the ergos are a little more forgiving than on your run-of-the-mill Japanese sportbike. You see, Triumph learned the hard way that you can't compete on the track with the Big-4; so they set out to build an "Urban Sport" bike, i.e. a bike for the street, not the track. Kudos to them! Let's face it, 98% of the sportbikes sold will never see the likes of a racetrack, yet their riders are still required to bend in positions that would make a Cirque-du-Soleil performer blush. Somehow, I still think that the Daytona will wiggle it's way onto a track sooner or later.

I was also very pleased to see that the Mag has named Harry Hurt as their Motorcyclists Of The Year. The now infamous Hurt Report has been quoted more times than Brad and Angelina, and many of the stats and issues it raised over 25 years ago still hold true. It's been a long time coming for Dr. Hurt, and it is well deserved indeed.

"Adversity is the first path to truth." - George Gordon Byron

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

It's All About the Looks!

Found this post by RB on the Cycle Canada forum (new and somewhat improved), and I nearly busted a gut laughing! Anyhow, here's a repost of it:

"Now I've Seen Everything

Went for a ride this morning and we stopped at a little restaurant for breakfast. No other bikes in the lot but when we walk in we see 2 guys and a gal decked out in everything Harley. They were also with two "civilians" dressed in plain garb. Our three amigos had H-D chaps, vests, t-shirts and obligatory do-rags. Every piece of leather had as many flaming/snarling/screaming/crapping eagles that could possibly fit into the space available. They also had the fingerless gloves (which they left on while they ate??). I smiled and nodded to them and they just sort of stared back with a "please think that we're cool/tough" sort of look on their mugs. I thought it was funny that I didn't see any bikes but figured what the hell, they must be parked around back or somewhere, so we took a seat.Sooner or later they finish wiping up the egg yolks with their fingerless gloves and they stroll out. I'll bet you they have practised walking that way for each other! Clint Eastwood or John Wayne never walked that tough.I'm just tucking into my omelet when I happen to look out the window and see them..............CLIMBING INTO THE BACK OF A PICKUP!!!!! Now I can be as open minded (some say empty headed) as the next doofus but why get all the gear on just to ride in the back of a truck to breakfast? Maye they were from out of town and were guests of the civilians, who wanted to take them for breakfast? If so, they still had to make the concious decision to get all duded up. These people weren't kids either folks. No sirree, they were full-fledged adults, middle aged if you will.Cripes! What's next? Going grocery shopping with Mom while wearing your gen-u-wine Roy Rogers hat, boots and cap-guns?If I hadn't been so dumbfounded I would have laughed, and likely choked. We finished up and went for a great ride. Now I've got to get busy with my chores."

Misti, by Misti.

Canadiant Streetbike has a nice write-up on Misti Hurst titled: Misti Hurst 12th in the Canadian Amateur 600 Nationals at Race City. I'm wondering how impartial they are, however, when considering that the article was penned by Misti herself!

Kidding aside, I offer congrats to Misti for a good race. Keep it up!

Although it probably sounds chauvenistic, there's something incredibly attractive about a woman who can handle a sportbike.

He's Still Alive, Jim!

Been awhile, but I'm back... Not that I really left anywhere, except this cyber-realm that I tend to hang-out in. Been through some changes lately; some big, some small. I've got a new job (promoted to senior advisor position) with an exterior office so I can get some natural light shining in (no more fluorescent tubes), and my name's on the door. Cool! Not so cool is my new boss (a-hole on a powertrip), but I can be a real pain in the ass too, so we'll just wait to see who breaks down first.

I've also been travelling a bit, on two wheels of course. Me and the missus went down to Boston and Cape Cod for a bit. Lovely area, great people, lots of fun. Boston has now made it to my "Top 10 Nice Cities to Visit in North America", joining noted places like Québec, New York and Miami. As we were just passing through, we barely got to scratch the surface of this beautiful city. Got to hear all the opinions, both pros and cons, regarding the (in)famous Big Dig. Whatever side of the fence you're sitting on, none can deny the huge undertaking that this project has become. Just a few days before we arrived in Boston, a large section of one of the connector tunnels collapsed on some unfortunate motorists - so the topic was quite hot during our passing.

Leaving Boston through some of the smaller towns and communities on our way to the Cape gave us a nice opportunity to appreciate the beauty of these coastal communities. Many of them reminded me of home. Some of the little country roads are nice and twisty; but don't lend themselves very much to spirited riding because of the hidden stopsigns and many houses and driveways.

The Cape was great, although next time I head down that way I probably won't be staying in Hyannis again. It was just too "Touristy" for my tastes. Maybe some of the smaller towns along the coast would've been more to my liking. For what it's worth, we really did love Nantucket Island. Finally, I can associate the name to more than just a dirty limerick and an early nineties sitcom. We only stayed in Nantucket one day, opting for the high-speed catamaran passenger ferry (no vehicles), and renting a little 50cc scooter to get around the island. This little bugger (a Korean-made Kymco) was as much fun to ride as some sportbikes I've tried out; I think it has to do with the thrill of trying to reach 40MPH while riding two-up, down a hill, with a tailwind! What I loved most about Nantucket was the complete absence of mainstream capitalism. No Wal-Mart, Super-8 or MacDonald's to be seen, as these have been bannished from the island. All businesses are independantly owned and operated, and none belong to any chains. This helps keep the Island a little more quaint, not to mention being a boon to the local economy.

No sooner were we back in Monkeytown that we took off again for the Magdalen Islands. Nice ferry crossing, except the constant motion of the waves made me nervous about my two-wheeled steed down below. I kept having visions of it tumbling over, since the ferry doesn't accomodate for tie-downs. My worries turned-out to be in vain, as the 'Strom was still waiting as I left it, ready to go, when we got to the dock.

If you've never been to the Maggies, then you really should consider it. It seems no matter where you go in the world, Islanders always seem to have a more laid-back attitude when compared to us mainlanders. The locals we got to hang around with on the Maggies did not disappoint. Great food too! Just about any Inn, B&B or restaurant on the Islands will feed you ample amounts of fresh seafood (usually caught the very same day). We even had one waitress tell us that the chef was not serving mussels that day (although it was on the menu), because they weren't perfectly fresh.

For more agressive motorcyclists who are looking to carve some asphalt: the Maggies probably aren't for you. True, there are a few nice curves that stir the adrenaline, but mostly you get long straight and narrows with low speed limits and many of Québec's Finest. If you're more the easy-going type, than the "sand-dune highway" with it's pictoresque lagoons and ocean vistas is a must.

A few notes about the motorcycle, a 2004 Suzuki DL650 V-Strom. It's held up quite well this summer, being shod with some new "asphalt-only" tires (Metzeler ME880 Marathons). The only thing that keeps annoying me with this bike is the stupidly short maintenance intervals. I end up spending an afternoon in the garage changing a filter, or adjusting valves, or syncing the throttle bodies... Not to mention what a PITA a chain can be. I installed a chain oiler this year (Loobman) and I'm pleased to say that it works as advertised and keeps the chain nice an loobed. Only problem is that tiny droplets of oil keep flying all over the rear swingarm, the rim, and even up onto the topcase and left sidecase. It ain't much fun to take off the sidecase only to realise later that it's left black grease stains where your pants rubbed against it.

My car (2003 Jetta TDI) has 16,000km maintenance intervals. This, to me, is the way any vehicle that is actually meant to be ridden should be built. I don't care that I have to use synthetic oil in the mill, since it means that I don't have to change it every 5,000kms. Unfortunately, most motorcycle magazines only glance over the maintenance schedule for most motorcycles, and manufacturers don't usually post this information on their websites. So for my next bike, I'm looking for something with a shaft (I know, I've mentioned this one before), with oil change intervals at least at 6,000kms, and major service intervals at least at 20,000kms.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Cape Breton TT - On Again, Off Again...

Well, it would seem that The Cape Bretton Festival of Speed TT
has finally been put down, despite the valiant effort of the organisers, the provincial government has pulled the plug. Something is amiss with the TT, as the powers-that-be had originally vowed their support for the race, only to step away last week.

It's been a bumpy ride for organisers, as in the past few months they've also had to deal with the CMA withdrawing their sanctioning for the event. As I'd mentioned before in a previous post, a street race on Cape Breton roads would be almost suicidal as racers would have to negotiate their way around potholes and frost heaves! Maybe it should've been a motocross race ;-)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Misplaced Patriotism

I got a bit of flack after posting my opinion of Fischer Motors and their new “American Sportbike©” a few weeks ago. It seems I inadvertently ruffled some feathers and stirred-up a few American Patriots in the process... Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa. For those of you who sent-in those lovely emails in which you bestowed upon me the title of Bastard, or even Iddiut (sic.), I can only offer you a heartfelt Bronx Cheer! You guys should go to the library and try to develop your reading comprehension.

Nothing in my previous post was meant to be anti-American, nor did I imply that the new Fischer MRX was a bad bike. For what it’s worth, I think the MRX looks real nice and the specs seem to indicate that it’ll be a fast machine. What I was criticizing was Fischer Motors for using what I consider to be cheap marketing technique. Rather than use the bike itself as a the focus for their marketing campaign, they turn around and use a lame statement like “One more reason to be proud you’re American!”. Oh please, spare me! How can you call this an American Motorcycle when the most important bits (namely the engine and tranny) are Made in KoreaTM?

Some of you are even suffering from severe cases of defeatism. One such bloke asked me “how can you expect us to compete with Japan when they’ve got a bigger marketshare?” Duh – don't mean to surprise you, Sparky, but you are the marketshare! I just wish John Britten was still around; just look at what he accomplished with the V1000 – and imagine what he could’ve done with a few more years’ time.

For what it’s worth, the new Buell XBRR just might be what many have been looking for; but only time will tell. Recent problems at Daytona seem to have delayed the delivery of the V-Twin rocket.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Kindness of (Not Total) Strangers

Although I’m better known for being a cynical bastard than a « Chicken Soup for the Soul » kind of guy, sometimes perfect strangers do things that make me want to re-evaluate my perception of modern society. Case in point is Mike. For now we’ll keep it on a first name basis because a) I’m not sure he’d like to have his full name in print on the net in some guy’s blog, and b) I don’t really know what his full name is.

Mike is from Nova Scotia, but he’s good friends with John – who’s from Ontario. I’m somewhere in the middle here in New Brunswick. Anyhow, to make a long story short, John had a touring windshield for the V-Strom that he was willing to part with and I was willing to take; but how do you ship a windshield without the hassle of packing it and paying exorbitant shipping fees? That’s where Mike comes in!

Mike was in Ontario for other matters, and agreed to take the windshield and meet me in Moncton on his way back home. This was great for me as a) it saves me money, and b) well, reason “a)” should be enough! Mike gave me a call when he was close to Moncton and we found a place to meet-up. He gave me the windshield, we had a coffee and spoke about motorcycles for a bit as he’s been a rider for awhile; not to mention that he had just bought an old Honda dual-sport for his son to learn how to ride (what a great Dad - all I ever got was Lego blocks and bicycles). He tried to convince me that his ST1100 was the ultimate sport-touring bike, and I begged to differ that the V-Strom could hold its own against any bike (i.e. typical biker "my-bike-is-better-than-yours" banter). After a few chuckles, he got back into his truck and drove off.

Now I usually balk at the whole “biker brotherhood” shtick, as it all too often sounds like yet another tried and true Harley-Davidson marketing ploy to get bored accountants and suit-and-tie lawyers out of their office and among the living – but in some instances there is a bit of truth to the stereotype (as there is to most stereotypes). Non-motorcyclists out there probably can’t understand why a good touring windshield would be important – and I don’t blame them; but Mike most likely understood, which is probably why he agreed to make a detour on his way home to drop off this piece of Lexan to a guy he’d never met before.

So here’s a big tip of the helmet to Mike for making the delivery, and to John for parting ways with such a nice piece of plastic. You guys are just another reason why motorcycling is such a great thing.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Posterior Motive

I've finally decided to upgrade the rear-end on my bike... Actually, I should phrase that differently. I've finally decided to upgrade my bike with regards to my rear-end. You see, my gluteous maximus was feeling a little minimus of late, and I think my two-wheeled stallion's buttpad was partially to blame. The saddle on my bike just didn't seem to have the same support it had when I first bought it. It would seem this is a common problem among touring motorcyclists given the number of aftermarket solutions available.

I finally decided to go with a Corbin seat, since most of the other custom seats required either A) I go onsite to have it custom fitted to my specific buttprint, or B) that I send in my OEM seat for them to strip-down and rebuild. With Corbin, all I had to do was chose seat materials and colours... oh, and sign on the dotted line! Although I'm sure that the Corbin won't be as comfortable as a custom fitted seat, I'd be willing to bet that my worn-down OEM seat will pale in comparison.

A Blog With Two Cylinders

Ducati, long known for their Italian sportbikes regarded as a two-wheeled equivalent to the Ferrari, are moving into Cyberspace. Federico Minoli, Ducati Motor Holding President & CEO, is launching the Desmoblog, the official corporate blog for the Italian company. So far the posts have been an interesting mix of personal, corporate and mechanical-related subjects.

I've got to admit that Ducati seems to be on the right track. Just a short while ago they had serious financial problems and were on the brink of fading away, but they now seem to be climbing back up that hill. It would also seem that they've read a few chapters in the Harley Davidson book of marketing methodology. They're now trying to build brand loyalty by referring to Ducati enthusiasts as Ducatisti; a nice way of snobbing other brands. Some of their new concept models are also very intriguing and an interesting departure from the typical Ducati mold.

The blog is available in both Italian and English.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Fischer Motors (minus a motor)!

It would seem that FISCHER MOTORS are ready to put their Fisher 1 sportbike into production from a recently acquired plant in the Eastern Shore region of Maryland. When I first read this I thought "Cool! Americans will finally build a sportbike that can compete against European and Nippon crotch rockets". I checked out their website and at first it seemed to confirm my thoughts with a page heading straight out of the Harley-Davidson marketing book, "One more reason to be proud you're an American". Yeah, wave the Flag, whatever...

Unfortunately, the devil's in the details and if you read some of the fine print, you'll see that the guts for this bike are produced by Hyosung Motors and Machinery in South Korea. Which makes me wonder if these guys should change their names from Fischer Motors to Fisher Chassis and Body?

Why can't America come out with a viable option for sportbike enthusiasts? Sure, there may be a few custom-built bikes out there, but I'm talking about a full production inline-4 +120hp light-as-a-feather speed machine. I guess its true: you can't compete with Japan.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Well, in case you haven't heard yet, the CAPE BRETON FESTIVAL OF SPEED just might not take place after all... Sigh! I was looking forward to this weekend of road racing. Although the organisers are holding out some hope that they might still turn it around, I'd be surprised if they managed to pull it off without the support of the CMA.

I'd be willing to speculate that there's another reason though, and they're all trying to cover it up (cue X-Files theme)... THE POTHOLES! Last time I was through Cape Breton I had to stop a few times to make sure that all my car's innards were still intact. No wonder most Capers seem to drive SUV's and Pickup trucks, some of the potholes would easily swallow a Civic or Echo!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The MJ Virus

We've all seen the before-and-after pics of Michael Jackson's face. Once a young attractive black man, he's morphed himself into a hideous grey alien-looking freak. I'm just wondering if maybe we've seen those pictures a bit too often, because lately it seems as if everybody is getting a freak face put on and nobody seems to notice anymore. Please allow me to list two examples.

A few weeks ago I was channel surfing while making supper and my trigger finger froze when I landed on Oprah - not my usual TV choice, but read on. Saint Winfrey's special guest was where-is-she-now actress Meg Ryan. Now I've never been a big fan of her movies (except possibly "Courage Under Fire"), but I've always found her to be an attractive woman. Lo and behold, she's contracted the cruel MJ virus which has turned her lips into some sort of appendage that immediately reminded me of Jack Nicholson's incarnation of The Joker in Batman: The Movie. Words fail me other than: DAMN! I don't want to diminish the excellent work she does for CARE in some of the world's poorest and most underpriviledged countries, as I admire her for taking up such a noble cause. But what was she thinking when she asked the surgeon to butcher her face?

Another case in point: country legend and poster child for breast reduction Dolly Parton. Her figure makes her look like a Barbie Doll through an acid-induced haze. Her recent performance at the Oscars, although very good, was overshadowed by her deformed face. I think the producers did a good job of keeping the camera angles wide so we wouldn't see some of the ugly details. It's a shame about Dolly, although I'm not a big fan of her music, I've always admired her strength and determination as a performer considering the rough ride her life has been.

I suppose it's hard to judge without having walked a few miles in their shoes. It must be very difficult accepting that your face - a trademark to your career - is changing. But I still believe that it would be better to grow old gracefully, than to slip into the abyss of being a comedian's punchline.

"Thou who hast the fatal gist of beauty." - Lord Byron

Noggin Protection

A friend of mine recently boasted that his helmet had saved his life three times already. I congratulated him on chosing to use the proper gear and then listened contently as he recalled all three occoasions in overly detailed regala. What surprised me was when he finished his last story with: " darn helmet I've ever had. Wouldn't change it for the world!". Whoah Nelly, back up the wagon here for a second. Yup, you heard correctly - he's been using the same helmet for close to a decade even after three seperate impacts. That's a big NO-NO!

Of course, we got into a heated discussion about microscopic fractures and compromised protection due to inability of foam to absorb impact. Then he threw me an argument that was like a slap in the face with a rotten cod: "But mine's SNELL, so it's designed to stand up to stuff like that!" Duh, sorry to bust your bubble, Bubba - but it ain't so! Its a real shame that helmet manufacturers have been using the SNELL helmet standard as a marketing punchline for all these years (much in the same way that petroleum companies bastardize Octane ratings - but that's another story). The SNELL standard has been heralded as the holy-grail of helmet safety because it requires a much harder shell that won't crumble as easily as a helmet built according to the US DOT standard. But marketing hype can only go so far.

A few months ago Motorcyclist magazine published a daring report on motorcycle helmets that blew the SNELL standard out of the water. What was so great about their report was that the lowly DOT standard, often considered dangerous by many snob motorcyclists, came out as the winner in many crash categories. Motorcyclist even ended up losing some advertising bucks when some of the big expensive manufacturers got peeved that they's award a "Best Helmet" label to an inexpensive $100 helmet by Z1R.

Essentially, a good helmet will only do its job once by crumbling to absorb much of the impact. A helmet that has too rigid a shell will transfer much of the energy from the impact to your cranium - not a good thing. Think of it in much the same matter as automobile crumple zones; sure your car may look like crap after playing chicken with a telephone pole, but you're still there to tell the story.

Oh, and another thing: most helmet manufacturers suggest that you replace your lid every three years. Considering that some of the safest helmets out there (according to Motorcyclist) only cost a few fingers over $100, why not?

"I like a woman with a head on her shoulders. I hate necks." - Steve Martin

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Luggage Limits

Motorcycles are a great method of travel, much moreso than the automobile or train, or even aeroplane. Covering miles on a motorcycle is as much a journey of discovery as it is simply displacing yourself from Point A to Point B. You get a panoramic view of the road and countryside that no automobile can offer. The sights and smells (yes, even the bad ones) are ever present for your enjoyment. In short, its the most rewarding way that I've found to travel.

There is, however, one caveat: Minimal luggage space. Although many of us cling tooth and nail onto the ideal image of the lone traveling motorcyclist with little more than a sleeping bag and knapsack tied to his rear seat with a few bungee cords, in real life it simply doesn't work. At least, not for me! I've gotten rather spoiled by the evolution of man, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I like a fresh change of clothes after a long day in the saddle, all to make me presentable enough so that I may discover what any given town's culinary artists have to offer. I've also grown quite fond of all my digital gadgets and things. After all, what's the use of buying a video camera or digicam if I'm going to leave it at home when I travel?

All these wants and needs are doubled due to my most important accessory when travelling: my wife! Yes, she also has a list of "favourite things" that she can't bare to leave behind, regardless of the mode of transportation. So you see, the two sidecases, topcase and tankbag are usually full to capacity when we head out for a few days of two-wheeled discovery. I had considered getting larger sidecases, but at best they would only add 8 or 10 liters capacity to my current rig, not to mention that they'd look a bit too wide. A friend of mine once commented about a ZX-10 Ninja with Givi sidecases that it "looks like its got a bad case of hemorroids"! I really needed to find a more palatable alternative.

The obvious solution was the one I had been trying to avoid: a trailer. Most motorcycles I had seen pulling a trailer were geriatric luxo-barges (Goldwing et al.) - not exactly my cup 'o tea. Add to that the fact that most trailers seem to have a greater utilitarian leaning than aesthetic (i.e. they're butt-ugly), and you can start to figure out why I'd been trying to mentally block them out of my mind. Enter the mono-wheeled trailer!

The first mono-wheeled trailer I heard of was the Cyclops, which strangely resembles the small trailers that I see many long-distance cyclists tugging along. Although I wasn't too crazy about the look of it, the idea of having a trailer that didn't affect the motorcycle's handling appealed to me. A friend then directed me to the Uni-Go website. This is a small mono-wheeled trailer that (used to) be made in New Zealand. The biggest advantage to the Uni-Go was it's looks! It was simply stunning. The downside, however, was its price: $2,500 or more for a motorcycle trailer is simply, in my mind, ludicrous. I'm not saying it's not worth that much - just that I'm too frugal to pay that amount. I just couldn't bring myself to pay an accessory one quarter the cost of my motorcycle!

Enter the Monogo. Michel Vachon of Granby, Québec has found a very ingenious way to build a mono-wheeled trailer while still keeping costs low. Rather than start from scratch and build the whole trailer from the ground-up, he decided to use parts that were readily available and, best of all, relatively inexpensive. The body of the Monogo trailer is actually a car-top luggage carrier (i.e. a Thule box). By using this, he doesn't have to fabricate the body out of fiberglass or steel. He simply added a lightweight suspension, a simple hitch, and voilà ! You've got a very useful and nice looking trailer for under $1k! This just might end up being the solution to my dilemma.

"Riches do not consist in the possession of treasures, but in the use made of them” - Napoleon Bonaparte

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Everyday Horror Story

Read the following entry on CanyonChasers and it scared me.

Is 25 Years Without Training Acceptable? - Canyonchasers News

It really got me thinking (as always - a dangerous thing) about how many bad drivers share the road with us everyday. The story that Dave relates is, if anything, all too common. How many times in the last few weeks or so have you been witness to somebody running a red light, or cutting somebody off, or narrowly missing a pedestrian? The list goes on and on.

Dave raises some controversial issues; like the privilege to drive for physically or mentally impaired persons. Since we're being controversial, I'd like to raise a few eyebrows myself! Should we require mandatory driver testing at prescribed intervals? I think so. I also think that it should apply to all drivers, not just seniors, or juniors, or handicapped, etc. Every five years or so, we should be obligated to do a written test, and pass a driving exam. If you fail, you go out and get a good pair of walking shoes.

Anyhow, I'm sure my thoughts will piss-off quite a few who believe it's their "God given right" to drive (or ride) like a complete idiot. Here's news Bubba: if it was your right, you wouldn't need a licence now would you?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Isn't this a bit much?

I realize that with our North-American mentality bigger is always better, and super-sizing seems like a good thing... but really! How many people really need a 200hp motorcycle? The operative word being need. Kawasaki's new Ninja ZX14 has a 1400cc inline-4 engine that - most people are predicting - will break the 200hp barrier fresh out of the showroom. All this power on a sportbike sounds like a recipe for disaster.

What will they think of next: a turbine-powered motorcycle? Oops... It's already been done ;-)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Choices: The Good And The Bad

Our lives are defined by the choices we make, so is the burden of being an independant and self-aware being. OK - before you start thinking that I'm in a deeply philosophical mood, I better get to the point. After all, I risk upsetting the very few readers out there that have ever seen my blog! The true subject of this post is photography. 35mm SLR cameras to be exact.

Quite a few years ago when I decided to get into photography, I bought my first real SLR. There were a few used SLR's available - the usual assortment of Nikon's and Canon's - but I chose the road less traveled. It was an old, used and heavily abused Minolta Maxxum 7000 - one of the first autofocus SLR's. To me, it was a beautiful tool that saw me through my formative years. Just about every type of film to grace the Photolab's shelves went through that camera, and over time I acquired a complete collection of lenses and accessories to go with it. Telephoto, wide angle, fisheye, zooms, macro... just about everything is tucked in my camera bag. Eventually the old Maxxum started breaking down on me, and I just couldn't trust it as a primary camera anymore. So I went out and bought a brand spankin' new Maxxum 7 - pure photographic nirvana.

Everything was rosy until I noticed that many pros were switching to digital by simply changing their SLR. Nikon and Canon both came out with digital equivalents to their film-based cameras, which meant that existing lenses and flash units would still work with the newer digital SLR's. Figuring that Minolta wouldn't be too far behind in the trend, I waited... and waited. Eventually I gave up and bought a Fuji model. Minolta did come out with a digital SLR, but it took them a long time.

Just last week I heard that Minolta has sold off all of their photographic technology to Sony who intends on building a digital SLR with interchangeable lenses that will be compatible with Minolta's line of lenses. Maybe all is not lost after all. In this case, my initial choice may not have been as bad as it seems.

"Life is a sum of all your choices." - Albert Camus

What Do Motorcyclists Want?

I've been thinking lately - and that's a dangerous thing. What do motorcyclists want? I'm looking for ideas to manufacture an accessory or farkle for motorcycles, but I'm not sure what to build. Why would I want to do this, you ask? Simple. It sounds like a fun thing to do!

Honestly, I'm getting tired of my daily grind: go to office, deal with issues, get pissed on, go home, repeat. I mean seriously, there's got to be a better way to make a living. I'm not looking for a get-rich-quick scam or something that will generate millions. I don't want this to evolve into a big corporation. I don't look forward to making my IPO. I just want to make a living doing something I enjoy.

So why manufacture a motorcycle accessory? Again, it's very simple. I'm a motorcycle nut - actually, make that an aficionado. I breathe, eat and sleep motorcycles. I also enjoy tinkering; always have. From the moment I developed motor control, I've been having fun building, rebuilding, demolishing, modifying and customizing just about everything I've been able to get my hands on.

What will I build? Well, that's where I'm hoping to get some guidance. What kind of product do motorcyclists want that is currently either a) in short supply, or b) too expensive? I've been toying with the idea of building a mono-wheeled trailer that would offer about 80 liters of baggage space. This came to me as I was looking for one myself and noticed how darn expensive these buggers are. I mean really: $5K for a motorcycle trailer? Get real! My aim would be to manufacture something similar for one quarter of that. Just consider me the Burt Rutan of the motorcycle accessory world.

Anyhow, if anybody has an idea for a cool motorcycle accessory - let me know!

"Analyzing what you haven't got as well as what you have is a necessary ingredient of a career." - Orison Swett Marden

Thursday, January 19, 2006

No Bodies Perfect!

Sometimes, a dark hidden side of me wishes that we were all the same... Same attitude, same size, same measurements - all identical, like a bunch of perfectly duplicated clones. Don't misread this; I'm not against individuality or free will, I'm speaking from a purely practical point of view. Wouldn't it be great if every man was a spitting image of Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man? Think about how simple it would be to shop for clothing, or buy a lazy chair, or get a mattress! Instead of trying to design something that would be the best compromise for all body shapes and sizes, all the designer would have to do is make something that fits them perfectly - since they'd be exactly the same as all their customers...

POOF! Dream's over and reality kicks-in.

I love my motorcycle, and for the most part if fits me like a glove. Unfortunately, my butt doesn't fit in a glove (see previous post about custom seats). It would seem that my gut doesn't fit into any old glove either. Lately I've been shopping for a new riding jacket and pants to replace my rather bulky touring jacket. It's starting to seem like I've tried on thousands (when in fact it's only a few dozen) but regardless of how large the choice is, I still haven't found what I'm looking for (Oops! Gratuitous U2 plug). Most jackets are too tight at the shoulders, or bulky at the back, or are - well - just darn ugly!

My problem is minimal when compared to my wife's. If I can't find a decent riding suit out there, odds are that she won't be able to either. You see, there are far fewer choices out there for women (except for the leather clad biker-chick crowd). Add to that the fact that my wife is very picky - in essence the suit must be "just right".

I've started looking into some of the made-to-measure suits (like Aerostitch), but these are quite pricey and aren't the most stylish, opting for a much more utilitarian angle.

Whatever, it's still January which means that riding season is still a few months away.

"Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, January 09, 2006

Cape Breton TT

If you're an avid motorcycle road racing fan, then you've either been to the Isle of Man TT races or you've dreamt of going. It's a pilgrimage for many fans, with some saving-up their money every year in order to attend the historic event. At first, the Isle may seem an unlikely candidate to host motorcycle races, as its only 53 by 21 kilometers in size. Nevertheless, it has been hosting the TT races annually since 1904. In the beginning, these were automobile races - it wasn't until 1907 that motorcycles were allowed on the course which winds through the island's countryside and small towns.

Well, for North American fans who can't make it to the small British island to attend the racing Mecca, some enterprising racing enthusiasts in Nova Scotia may have something of interest. Cape Breton will be holding it's first annual Festival of Speed in September 2006, and it will model itself off the famed Manx races. They've even got the Isle of Man TT's blessing as an associated event.

Anyhow, for those of you interested in going, you can check their website:

"I know what it means to do an overtaking in the last turn: it is pure adrenalin!" - Graziano Rossi (Valentino's father)

Friday, January 06, 2006

Your Most Sensitive Asset!

When I bought my motorcycle a few years ago I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread, but just like any fling, the flaws start to creep out slowly over time. Last summer I noticed that I simply can't ride long distances in comfort anymore because of the seat on my bike. Now I don't think I've aged that much in so few years, and as far as I can tell my butt hasn't undergone any bizarre transformations. So the only logical explanation is the bike's seat.

Luckily, I'm not the only motorcyclist out there without an iron butt - so there are many aftermarket saddles available. Here are a few of the ones that I've been looking into:

-- Corbin: They've been at it a long time and their saddles have a good reputation. They've recently started adding nice options like backrests and heated elements. The price isn't too bad, but you've got to keep in mind that the padding is somewhat generic, where many other saddlemakers ensure a custom fit. One advantage to the Corbin saddles is the fact that they manufacture their own pan; so you're not sans-seat for a few weeks while your new saddle is on order.
-- Russell Day-Long: The Day-Long seat is a favourite among Iron Butt association members; so that should be a good enough reference for you. These are made to measure, so you can't simply order one over the net and install it. The ideal situation is to ride in and have them measure and fit the seat; if not you must at least send them some pictures of you sitting on your bike so they can estimate riding position, height, etc. Aesthetically, some find it ugly (I do too), but I think this is more a case of function over fashion.
-- Bill Mayer Saddles: Really nice saddles that use molded urethane foam. Rocky Mayer now runs the company that still holds his father's name. Bill was known as both the Saddle Meister and the Dr. of Buttology! He was one of the original custom saddle makers having designed the original "Day-Long" saddle, and many still swear by his designs. I like Rocky's seats because their designs are simple: less stitches, no pillow stitching, etc.
-- Rick Mayer Cycle: Rick is Rocky's brother. So they've both learned from the best, and their styles are somewhat similar. I find Rick puts a little more work into the top stitching, creating nice symmetrical designs. He uses various densities of foam and memory-foam to offer a custom fit. Many who have gone to Rick's shop to have their seat custom fit have commented on what a great guy he is and how he goes out of his way to make things right.

These are the main players, but if you're a tinkerer you might want to consider re-upholstering your own seat. If so, please check out Sunmate Cushions who manufacture much of the foam used by custom seat makers like Rick Mayer. I've actually decided to go this route. I figure that if I screw up, I'll simply have the seat redone anyway - so I don't have very much to lose.

Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.” - Ernest Hemingway

Chrome Trash, or Engineering Marvel?

I don't usually buy into the whole "Chopper" phenomenon, to me most of it is little more than motorcycle-by-numbers with some gratuitous chrome thrown in for good measure. Not to mention that most of the superstar chopper builders that are on TV these days seem to have the combined intellect of a wingnut.

All the more reason why French motorcycle and car tuning company Lazareth continues to get my interest every time they come out with something new. These guys aren't only about the "look", but they push the engineering envelope also - which makes it more interesting than all the other custom bike makers. Their creations aren't all about S&S V-Twins and hardtail frames, most of the time they'll start off with a Yamaha V-Max or even a Suzuki Hayabusa - are you starting to get the picture?

One of their latest incarnations is the Roadster V6... yes, as in V6 engine! What's cool about it is that it's a naked sport bike that doesn't come out looking like the lovechild of Chevy and Harley-Davidson (i.e. Boss Hoss). They've managed to create a naked roadster à-la-Ducati that hides it's innards and weight remarkably well.

Although it may not be easy to see on the picture, it has a transversely-mounted 1800cc V6 engine from a Mazda MX3 coupled to a HD 5-speed tranny. Rear suspension is a single-sided swingarm with single shock, while the front is a single-sided fork with an ingenious shock within the pivot. Brakes are rim-mounted with two 3-pot calipers in front and one in back.

For more info, check out

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Are We Missing Out?

It's too bad that North Americans are so preoccupied with size and the whole "bigger is better" mentality, because we're missing out on some really cool toys out there. Want to have some fun? Check out what most motorcycle manufacturers are offering on the other side of the pond. You'd be amazed what can be bought at Yamaha and Honda dealers in Europe when compared to the one down the street.

A friend of mine suggested that it was because Europeans ride motorcycles not only for pleasure, but also as a viable and economical means of transportation. They're not as caught up in the "bling factor" as we are here. How many beginner bikes are available around here for newbies who want to build up their skills before trying to harness the power of a +100hp machine? Not many... But in Europe there's a whole pack of 125cc bikes that are available cheap and everywhere.

Isn't it a bit odd that we can't get something like the Honda Cub in North America, when that same motorcycle is the all-time best seller worldwide? I'll admit that at times I would love to have a Cub, or a similar standard 125cc bike to ride around town. Nobody in their right mind would want to tour with one of these bikes, but for urban attacks - what more do you need?

Alas, we'd rather pay ridiculous amounts of money for an overweight and unpractical chrome beast that some celebrity chopper shop built out of mail-order parts... Truly sad!

Total freedom of expression does not compensate for lack of talent.” - Nicolas Gomez Davila

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Winter Tips for Motorcyclists.

I figured I'd try to start the new year off on a good note and give some tips and advice to other motorcyclists out there... Not that I'm actually qualified to do so - but what the heck!

Please note that many of these tips are from nowhere else than my own pathetic experience - use at your own risk.

  1. When winterizing your bike, you should also consider winterizing your gear. Riding jackets, pants and gloves should go to the cleaners and then get stored in the plastic bag that the dry cleaner used. Boots should get a good cleaning and buffing; I like to stuff them with newspaper or something to make sure they keep their shape. If your helmet has a removable liner then clean it; if not, spray a few squirts of Febreze or a helmet deodorant before packing it away for the winter. Helmets should be stored in a breathable bag (cotton is best) - not a plastic bag.
  2. For winterizing your bike before hibernation, you should be sure to check the freeze-point of your antifreeze if you're in an area where the temps drop really low (if your bike is liquid-cooled... Duh!). In my area, a low of -35°C is not unheard of, so I always make sure my antifreeze is up to par. You also want to shine the seat! Put some sort of protector on the seat and bring it inside if you can. Vinyl that is soft and pliable in the summer heat can become hard and brittle in sub-zero temps.
  3. Winterize your brain! If you're anything like me, you'll find winter is torturous. You can make it a little more bareable by subscribing to a few motorcycle magazines. Some of my favourite winter reads are magazines that have ride reports (like Road Runner), these give me ideas on trips that I can plan for the next season.
  4. If you can't beat 'em... If you live in an area that has significant snowfall, consider getting into snowmobiling. Of course, it's not the same as motorcycling - but it can help compensate for lack of two-wheeled mobility.
"Winter is nature's way of saying, 'Up yours.' " - Robert Byrne

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Greatest Motorcycles

The Discovery Channel recently aired a show called "The Greatest Ever: Motorcycles" which was basically a Top-10 list of sorts. It was interesting to me as all styles of motorcycles (i.e. cruisers, sportbikes, UJM) were represented and the jury was made up of well respected motorcyclists. For the most part, I am in total agreement with their choices - though I'm sure many will not be.

Among the bikes to make the list, we find the Harley Davidson Knucklehead, MTT's Y2K Turbine Bike, Ducati's 916, Moto Guzzi's V8, the Vespa and Honda's CB750. One of the things that I noticed was that there's only one American bike represented (above noted Knucklehead - number 10) and only one Japanese manufacturer (Honda). All other bikes are European-bred except for one very notable exception: kiwi John Britten's magnificent V1000 racebike.

Marine Turbine Technology's Y2K jet bike probably garnered the most opposing comments from the jury, with some calling it "technical masturbation" while others drooled over its 320hp and 425ft/lbs of torque. Whatever your take on it, you can't deny that this is one very fast bike. Jay Leno's anecdote about melting the front bumper on an Infinity with the Y2K's exhaust jet was hilarious.

Their pick for number one sure surprised me at first, but after thinking about it for a few minutes it makes perfect sense: the Honda C50 Cub. No other motorcycle has known such a long production run (still going after over 50 years) and sold so many units (over 30 million to date). Actor and motorcyclist Charley Boorman (of Long Way Round fame) even ran the poor C50 with used cooking oil in its crankcase to prove how tough the little bugger actually is. The final coup-de-grace was pitching the poor bike off a three story building, then picking it up and kick starting it - on the first try! This is probably another reason why the Cub made it to number one - it is quite possibly indestructible.

"Thank god for Roger Corman. He gave me the part because he'd say, 'Alright, you got to ride this motorcycle and jump off this cliff into this bag.' And I'd do it. It got me a reputation, and people kept hiring me." - Robert Patrick

The Sun Sets...

Well, there goes 2005. The Sun has set on yet another year, and I suppose now is the time to reflect on what transpired in the past 365 days... Bullshit! What's done is done - why waste time on it. It may sound cynical, but I hate all those "year in review" shows on radio and TV that get aired at this time of the year, because they usually concentrate on the negative. Never have I seen a news anchor or radio DJ say something like "all in all, last year was great!"

Here's my review of 2005:
- I'm still healthy, which would probably mean that I'm also still alive.

OK, that's about it! Everything else was either out of my control or something that I had a part in making real (on purpose or unwillingly).

This being said, I still wish a great 2006 to everybody. Hope things roll your way.

Oh, almost forgot to bitch about something that's been nagging me the past few days: DIET PILLS ON TV!!! I'll admit the timing is probably right as I too have erred on the side of excess during the holidays, but does anybody actually believe in these pills? All smoke and snakeoil if you ask me.

"Let our New Year's resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word." - Goran Persson