All posts by Bill Whitman

They’ve got your size!


Life is a series of shit storms, with brief periods of calm in between. SchitStorm is a release valve, just like riding a motorcycle. The world has gone just a bit more crazy than usual. Maybe it’s the media screaming at us 24/7/365, maybe it’s the dark powers of the internet, maybe it’s natural erosion of civilization, who knows. SchitStorm is here to have a little fun with it, cause if you can’t laugh, you might as well be dead.

It started as a joke between my cousin and I several years ago that we decided to run with this year, both as an outlet and a statement that no matter what life throws at us, you just have to push through it and laugh about it after. Think of that time on your bike and you just knew the weather was going to turn against you, and you have no choice but to press through it knowing you’ll have a great story to tell down the road.

The SchitStorm line is a series of t-shirts and hoodies.  We only print on very high-quality cotton to make sure it’s one of the shirts you want to wear for comfort alone. There are several moto inspired designs in the line that are just subtle enough, but if you want in-your-face, we have that too.

 

The world may come to its senses sooner or later, but until then we’ll all be living through a SchitStorm so we might as well just ride it out and have as much fun as we can along the way.

 

Free Stickers! – Just visit the website, sign-up for our infrequent emails and send us your address to info@schitstorm.com

Helite Turtle Airbag Vest Hi-Viz

I’m no longer indestructible! Technically, I was never indestructible, but I was really proficient at bad judgement. I can remember back in the day when I used to ride my Harley-Davidson Sportster wearing my Van Halen T-shirt, and a pair of shorts, Ray-Ban sunglasses and a pair of gym shoes. Oh, let’s not forget I was wearing headphones connected to my Sony Walkman. A little history lesson here, a Sony Walkman was this gizmo that you put a cassette tape in it. This cassette tape had audible information on it to play through headphones. These were very dark days, way before iTunes showed up.

Back on track. Yup, nothing but safety first back in the day. Nowhere, in my motorcycling outfit collection, was a helmet, a leather coat, a pair of gloves, reinforce jeans or a pair of boots. I’m trying to remember, I think bought a helmet, but never used it. I think it was still in the box when I gave it away.

Of course, now, I’m at a different place in life. I am amazed every day that this biological machinery which enables my consciousness is still operating at my age. They’re very few things in my realm that are as old as I am. For example, we don’t own a sixty-year-old car. The useful life of my toothbrush, computer, motorcycles and so forth are fraction of my current age.

There are times when I look at my hand and move my fingers back and forth. During this little weird exercise. I can stop thinking about all of the biological systems that have been replaced, repaired and whatever else is going on in my body during my time on this planet.

My main goal when riding motorcycle now is to decrease chances of injury. Over the years I have slowly incorporated more and more motorcycle safety gear. 2005 was ground zero for my safety gear enhancement mode. I no longer just looked at the price of the equipment. Nor do I search out one particular brand. I actually spend a lot time research each piece of motorcycle safety equipment.

In 2008, I bought a Honda Goldwing with an air-bag. It made the cost of the motorcycle about $2,500 more, but I figured it added another level of safety. Of course, I caught a lot of shit from my motorcycle tribe for riding around on a motorcycle with an air-bag.  My Goldwing is almost ten years old now, so now that air-bag has cost me about $250 per year so far. Except, this year the air-bag was replaced under a massive recall by Honda. Ruh-Roh, more math, a new equation! It’s your turn to figure out the cost per year. Give it hell.

Motorcycling is high risk endeavor. It’s a risk-taking behavior. People who ride motorcycles are engaging in an activity that has the potential to be harmful. You may think you have the ability avoid the dangers through your motorcycle riding prowess. Or you might think, making the exhaust system on your motorcycle as loud as possible will fend off the “cagers.”  Well, I say good luck with that! Me, I’m going to pack on the safety gear.

I’ve decided to purchase a radical piece of motorcycle safety gear. The Turtle Airbag Vest is a relativity new product. Here’s a link to their website Helite, you can get all the nuts and bolts stuff from them. Yup, I’m one lazy-ass-blogger, back on track! I’ve been reading about this technology for two years. Read about all of the iterations before it was brought to market place. Collect as much data as I could about the effectiveness of the product. The data can from the manufacturers and not from any governing body.I’d better throw this out there before someone gets the wrong idea or tries to sue me. I do not believe that my safety gear will keep me from getting hurt. But, I do know the outcome will be much better than if I was wearing my long-gone trusty Van Halen T-shirt.

2018 Harley Davidson Fat Boy

The 2018 Harley Davidson Fat Boy looked pretty damn cool from where I was sitting. But, it’s not the motorcycle for me. Not a fan of solid rims, big front tires, or that satin look where chrome should be. I can take or leave the speedometer. On second thought, I’m going to leave it.

A 114 cubic inch engine! That’s three cubic inches bigger than Indian’s Thunder Stroke 111 engine, for those of you who are good at math.  Ruh-roh for Indian. The new 114 Milwaukee-Eight engine has oil circulating around the exhaust valves. Trying to increase rider comfort and improve engine performance.  Moto Guzzi has been doing that gig for a while. I predict it will be very warm to hot as hell between the rider’s legs. Nomex underwear will need to be on the H-D dealers’ shelves soon. Don’t worry, they’ll have the bar and shield on them.

Okay, time to talk about the frame and suspension. H-D has hit a home run out of the park baby! The frame has fewer parts and welds needed to assemble it, making it stiffer and lighter. The new engine is now directly bolted to the frame. The rear suspension has been redesigned for better leverage and more travel. The front forks have been modified to compete with the rear suspension. The preload for the rear shock is now accessible for adjustment.

I’m not happy with some of the exposed wiring and cabling on the motorcycle. I think it should have been tucked away somewhere. The oil dipstick/fill is an upgraded design. It appears to be very accessible. The fit and finish is damn close to 90%. There’s one part on the lower back of the frame that looks like I casted it high school. Then I painted it so my teacher wouldn’t see my screw up.

I’m really glad H-D has stepped up with LED lighting. I’ve have two motorcycles with LED lighting and it makes a big difference. I consider LED Lighting a safety feature and not just some new-fangled gizmo. I’m not sure about the new headlight design yet, but it’s growing on me each time I look at it.

I think H-D has scored big time with the changes they’ve made to the Softail frame. They really needed to improve rider comfort on the Softail models. Streamlining the assembly process and improving the overall functionality of the frame will enhance H-D’s ability to compete in the market place. The LED lighting shows a commitment to modernization. There’s definitely some design departures on this Fat Boy that the H-D faithful might not like. But as far as I’m concerned, they’re welcome changes.

I doubt that I will ever ride this motorcycle, just not my gig.  But I know someone else will.  I hope H-D hits the bullseye with this model.

My Moto Guzzi is four years old!

I am entering my fourth year with my Moto Guzzi. Drumroll, please. Yup, four rotations around the sun. I don’t know how many dog years that is either.  Somewhere around 6,500 miles on the digital odometer, or clock as they call it across the pond. On its second set of tires. This motorcycle is probably one of my all-time favorites in my 45+ years of riding motorcycles. I bought this motorcycle in June of 2013.  I went to a Moto Guzzi dealer that is about 45 miles northwest from our home.

This motorcycle actually started out as a California 1400 Custom. Moto Guzzi has since dropped the California 1400 Custom from the lineup. The California 1400 Custom was touted as the Italian V-Max. Referring to Yamaha’s V-Max, I owned a red 2010 Yamaha V-Max. The Yamaha V- Max would blow by the California 1400 Custom like hurricane. But it was nice marketing ploy.

In my great wisdom, I decided not to get the touring model. I thought to myself, the touring model is just too damn expensive. No way is Moto Guzzi going to get this kind of money out of me. Plus, I’ve already got a Honda Goldwing if I desired to go on any long trips. Perfect logical, critical thinking that any Vulcan would have been proud of. I bought the Moto Guzzi for short hops, back and forth to wherever.

Day five of ownership, I drove it across the state of Illinois. Roughly 250 miles from our home to Iowa and back. As I pulled in our driveway, I already had a list of changes in my head to make to the motorcycles. One of changes was driven by pain in my shoulders. Top priority, the handlebars have got to go. Hasta la vista, baby! Italians must have longer arms than me. Went right to af1racing.com and I started perusing the Moto Guzzi area for available parts.

As I scrolled through the page, I came across touring handlebars for that model. Click! Next up was the windshield and mounting bracket. Another two clicks! As I further scrolled down the page, hey, this passing light looks cool. Click! Damn, they’re not LEDs like on my Harley Davidson. Unclick! Okay, whatever, they still look way cool. Click! Mounting brackets? Nope. Off to the checkout part of the page. Entered all of my data and hit the checkout button. My iPhone immediately buzzed from a confirmation email. All good now, 10 to 15 days to wait for the delivery of my Moto Guzzi parts.

About a week goes by and I’m back on af1racing.com. More perusing in the Moto Guzzi area for available parts. Hmm, look at all of these parts. Hard saddlebags, brackets, and saddlebag guards. Click! Heated grips? Got them on the Honda and Harley. Click! Engine guards. No brainer. Click! A hard trunk with a very cool Moto Guzzi emblem on the back of it, same color as the saddlebags? Click! Ruh-roh, trunk bracket required. Click! Leather seat? Click! Hit the checkout button, once again, an immediate buzz on the iPhone.

Okay, now it dawns on me that I should have bought the touring model instead. Well, good decisions are sometimes elusive from the human thought process. But, now it’s time for a good decision. I contact the vendor and asked if I could change the shipping address. Good news, nothing had shipped yet. Changed the shipping address to the dealership where I bought it. Sent the dealer an email to forewarn them of the upcoming deliveries of parts and a request to get all of this stuff installed. They were on board with this gig. But they told me I needed to change the brake and clutch lines to accommodate the new handlebars. Yup, more parts. Five weeks from my first click on the vendor’s website, I was riding around on my converted California 1400 Custom.

My HD Ultra Limited is getting new shoes!!

Photo courtesy of Michelin and used with permission.

First off and foremost I’d like to thank the folks at Michelin for sending me a set of new motorcycle tires for my 2014 Harley Davidson Ultra Limited. Obviously, my Harley Davidson doesn’t wear gym shoes. (I was trying to use some urban slang to connect with the hip people who read this blog.) Again, I’d like to thank the folks at Michelin for finding my blog in the ocean of motorcycle blogs on the Internet and contacting me. I plan on provide updates on these tires throughout their life. Please check my blog, You Tube channel, and podcasts periodically for these updates.

 

Photo courtesy of Michelin and used with permission.

 

Michelin motorcycle tires have always been a big player in the MotoGP circuit. There must be a lot of smart guys working for Michelin. Not only are they good at mixing rubber compounds. They’ll be pressing ahead with the introduction of enabled wireless technology in their tires for the 2017 MotoGP season. The data from these tires will be shared with the media broadcasting the races. This will give the fans an opportunity to get real-time data from a tire that is zipping around a track at speeds in excess of 200 mph.

Michelin’s line of Scorcher tires have been available through Harley Davidson as OEMs for a while now. But now they can be purchased through authorized Michelin tire dealers. Michelin Scorcher tires offer superb tread life and excellent durability, while Michelin’s ADT (Amplified Density Technology) technology delivers excellent feedback and handling. The tires come in three versions: Scorcher 11, 31 and 32.

 

Photo courtesy of Michelin and used with permission.

The link below is for the current line of the Michelin Scorcher series tires for Harley Davidson motorcycles. This is by no means a complete reference, and in the near future, could possibly be out of date. I would recommend that you contact Michelin or a Michelin motorcycle tire dealer directly.

2017_Scorcher_Brochure_ENG_V3

Replicate or Innovate?

 

I don’t know about you, but it really pisses me off when companies replicate instead of innovate. Case in point: I’m looking at two new Indian motorcycle bagger models. The Indian Chieftain Limited and the Indian Chieftain Elite. Both of these motorcycles look a lot like Harley Davidson’s Street Glide. The motorcycle bagger market is the “cash cow” for HD. Road Glides and Street Glides are leaving HD’s factories like bullets out of AR-15 in full auto! Sorry about the gun reference, but it fits.

You don’t need a PhD to figure out that Indian’s Chieftain Limited is trying to go head-to-head with HD’s Street Glide Special. Duh! Nor do you need to use a super computer to determine which HD model Indian’s Chieftain Elite is gunning for. Double duh!! Before this goes any further, I own a 2015 Indian Roadmaster and a 2014 HD Ultra Limited. So you don’t need to reply with the following words of wisdom. You suck big time, Harley boy! Or my all-time favorite, “F$$k you, f$$k your Harley, I’m going to kill you when I see you.” Writing a blog is a lot more dangerous than you might imagine.

Okay, you’re probably wondering what’s the point to all of this babble. Companies that replicate will go the way of the dinosaur. Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Victory and Yamaha have all failed against the motorcycle giant Harley Davidson. In many cases, the other manufacturers built a better mousetrap. But when you compare silhouettes, they were pretty much copies of what was already in the marketplace. The lesson learned is that most consumers don’t want replicas or derivatives, they want the original.

Just so were clear here. Innovation is a tough road to go. It takes balls and a lot of money. To make matters worse, the motorcycle marketplace takes no prisoners. Either you’re going to sell your product or you’re going to shut down the assembly lines. It’s that simple. The fairytale story of four guys building a motorcycle in a shed sounds wonderful and also provides solid street cred for the brand. But the truth is that Wall Street runs the show.

Polaris has resurrected the Indian brand which provided them with some leverage that the other manufacturers didn’t have to use in the marketplace. They also kept true to the design of the prior Indian motorcycle models. That was enough for me to purchase one. I believed they had a line of motorcycles that could stand on their own in the marketplace. With a little patience and a whole lot of money, I’m pretty sure that the Indian brand would be a strong competitor with Harley Davidson in the market place.

But it appears, Polaris is running out of patience and looking at their stock prices and seem to be running out of money. I find this a troubling trend to parallel what Harley Davidson is doing. In my opinion, this strategy threatens the brand’s survival in the marketplace.

Since I can’t just grab photos of Harley Davidson’s Street Glide Special or Indian’s Chieftain Limited off of the internet. This act could land me in copyright jail. I provided two links below. Do me a favor, click on these links below and compare them. I’d like to hear your thoughts about the two motorcycles.

Harley Davidson’s Street Glide Special

Indian’s Chieftain Limited

My 2014 Moto Guzzi Touring Motorcycle gets an upgrade!

Yep, we’ve put a man on the moon around 50 years ago and my 2014 Moto Guzzi touring motorcycle still does not have self-canceling turn signals. How is that possible in this day and age? Three out of the four motorcycles that I own have self-canceling turn signals. The other three were manufactured in the United States. I own a Harley-Davidson, an Indian and a Honda. The Honda is a 2008 Gold Wing with an airbag. This was the last year that Honda assembled Gold Wing’s in the United States.

I know that there are a lot of less expensive motorcycles that do not have self-canceling turn signals. I’m going to guess this is some type of cost-cutting measure to make the motorcycles more competitive in the marketplace. But, it’s hard for me to imagine why my 2014 Moto Guzzi touring model doesn’t have this modern feature. For God sake, it’s the Moto Guzzi damn flagship!

I’m really surprised that, to my knowledge, the European Union doesn’t require self-canceling turn signals on all of the motorcycles used over there. They have all kinds of other regulations. It just seems weird they left self-canceling turn signals off of the rulebook.

I also find it kind of weird that Harley-Davidson, Indian/Polaris and Victory/Polaris all have self-canceling turn signals on their models. Since I brought up Victory motorcycles, let’s take time for a moment of silence. Polaris, in its great wisdom, has decided to make the Victory motorcycle line go the way of the dinosaur. With all this said, I’m going to guess that these manufacturers have determined that self-canceling turn signals are a plus for schlepping those brands out of the dealer’s showrooms.

And let’s not forget the average age of the individuals piloting these motorcycles. In that age bracket, which I am familiar with, you start to lose your memory, your car keys, your cell phone, and so forth. The idea that you activate your turn signal and have to go back to remember to turn it off is a bad idea. In my case, the turn signal might not go off until I remove the key from the ignition. So, it sure would be nice if there was a gizmo to turn my turn signals off on my 2014 Moto Guzzi Tourer.

Well, it looks like I’m not the only one who reads my blog. Apparently, they’re lonely on the other side of the planet and they decided to read my blog. I got an email from a company called Smart Turn System. We volleyed a few emails back and forth and the next thing I know, this package arrives at my doorstep. In this package is a device which will automatically cancel my turn signals without my interaction.

I’m not going to lie to you, I have not opened the package yet. You’re probably saying to yourself, “Why haven’t you open the package?” The reason I haven’t opened the package is because there’s a high probability I’ll lose the parts. So it’s just best to leave it on the box and wait until I take motorcycle to my ”Moto Guzzi Guy” to have it installed.

Stay tuned for updates. But in the meantime, check out their website at Smart Turn System

The Adventures Mimi and Moto the Motorcycle Monkeys-Book Rewiew

Well I got something in the mail today which was way cool. Very creative little book called The Adventures of Mimi and Moto the Motorcycle Monkeys. Yup, motorcycle monkeys. Its direct application is to get the little tykes involved in motorcycling using a Disney-like genre. This book is approximately 20 odd pages. So, if you’re looking for something along the lines of War and Peace, you’re out of luck. But if you’re looking for a really cool book to read to your children, nieces, nephews, grandkids and anyone under the age of five in your close vicinity, this is definitely the book you want to have in your hand.

Before I go too much further, I want to provide you with the contact information to possibly purchase this book. It can be purchased off of Amazon. And you can purchase it directly by clicking this link to www.mimiandmoto.com. Okay, I got that out of the way. (And I want to thank the authors for sending me this copy of the book to review.)

This book is a children’s motorcycle picture book that will inspire future participants in the motorcycle industry. No “See Spot Run” in this book. Do they even have “See Spot Run” books in schools anymore? Let’s get back on track. The illustrations in this book will spark a child’s imagination while teaching him or her motorcycle safety. It also teaches about camaraderie with your mates on the open road. This is definitely a book that a child would treasure.

This book is 100% coolcycledude approved!

Say good but to Victory motorcycles

Ruh-Roh!!! It looks like Polaris industries has kicked the Victory motorcycle brand to the curb, ouch. Polaris plans to wind down their manufacturing facility for the Victory motorcycle in the next few weeks. This is a big blow to the owners of Victory motorcycles and definitely a tragic event for those who were employed bringing the brand to market.

Polaris will provide parts and service for the next 10 years per what I read in their press release. I kinda get the parts thing because I think it’s a federal law that they are required to manufacture repair parts. But I’m kind of curious how many dealers will continue to service a product that they no longer sell. There is no federal law forcing prior dealers to honor the verbiage in Polaris press release.

I don’t want to be one of those people who say I saw this coming. But I can’t control myself, so I guess, I’m going to be one of them. I’ve ridden several Victory motorcycles at various demo rides over the years. I really like the product, but I noticed there was never any substantial changes to make the product more marketable. Polaris would change the paint jobs, add bigger stereo systems, change the size of the front wheel and incorporate LED lighting. But, no major R&D investment.

Polaris has also brought a competing product to market when they resurrected the Indian motorcycle brand. I’ve read where Polaris thinks that the Indian brand is a better rival to reduce Harley Davidson’s market share. This particular market segment is a battleground of epic proportion. Many other motorcycle manufacturers have fallen due to Harley Davidson’s dominance. A shrinking demographics doesn’t help the situation either.

I’m no expert with stocks and bonds, but it looks like Polaris industries stock has been sliding in the wrong direction. I’m going to guess this was another of the driving forces to shut down the production of the Victory motorcycle. The CEO of Polaris has a responsibility to the board of directors and the stockholders. So, in the end it’s really not a tough decision to make.

Although, if Polaris industries needed money why didn’t they sell the Victory brand. It’s already established, they already have a dealer network and a loyal following. Sounds like a really good idea to sell the Victory brand. I guess they just don’t want another brand competing with their Indian motorcycle brand.

America’s Queen of Speed to appear at Pomona’s 67th Grand National Roadster Show

Seven-time speed record holder, Valerie Thompson, will be a featured celebrity racer at the 67th Grand National Roadster Show at the Fairplex in Pomona. Hand picked from a group of accomplished land speed racers, Thompson’s record setting BMW will be displayed in a special tribute area dedicated to the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) named “Quest for Speed.”

Over 500 show vehicles will compete for awards within the Fairplex buildings during the three-day show January 29 – 31. Another 400 – 800 vehicles will join the event over the weekend for the 11th Annual Grand Daddy Drive-In event.

“I’ve always had a passion for land speed racing. Competing on the Salt Flats of Utah and dry lakebeds of California as an independent racer always reminds me of the unsung heroes who made American racing what it is today. This special invitation to appear at the most prestigious rod show just blows me away,” said Thompson. “More importantly, this exhibit will be used as a fund raiser for the SCTA, a non-profit organization that makes racing dreams possible for all competitors, no matter the size of their pocket book,” added Thompson.

Thompson formed her own land speed racing team in 2012 and recorded a personal best top speed of 217 mph at the 2014 Texas Mile. In 2015, Thompson became the first female member of the Colorado Mile 200 MPH Club on her Quicksilver Powersports Lubricants/CTEK BMW Motorrad and is now a member of six-land speed racing 200 MPH Clubs, including the prestigious Bonneville 200 MPH Club. As a result, she is often referred to as “America’s Queen of Speed.”

The Grand National Roadster show will be held at the Fairplex in Pomona January 29 – 31, located at 1101 W. McKinley Avenue. For schedule updates and tickets, visit https://www.rodshows.com/gnrs/index.

Valerie Thompson Background

Valerie is a seven-time land speed record holder and independent female owner/driver of the Valerie Thompson Land Speed Racing Motorcycle Team who has also competed in the All Harley Drag Racing Association and National Hot Rod Association drag racing series. She set a personal best top speed of 217 mph on her BMW S 1000 RR during the October 2014 Texas Mile competition. Thompson is an official member of the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials 201 MPH Club (formerly BUB Speed Trials), Mojave Magnum 200 MPH Club, ECTA 200 MPH Club, Texas Mile 200 MPH Club, Colorado Mile 200 MPH Club and lifetime member of the famed Bonneville 200 MPH Club. Based on her numerous racing accomplishments and speed records, Thompson is often referred to as “America’s Queen of Speed.”

Grand National Roadster Show Background

The GNRS is now in its 67th year. Once known as the Oakland Roadster Show, it is the longest running indoor car show in the world. This will be the 13th consecutive year the show has been produced at the Pomona Fairplex.