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