All posts by Bill Whitman

I wonder if my Aprilia Tuono dreams?

I rode my Aprilia Tuono to work the fuel stabilizer through it and prepare myself mentally for our long winter separation. Almost like losing a good friend for few months. My wife will not let me keep it in our bedroom, she’s funny that way. During the ride I realized how disconnected I am from everything but the motorcycle. The Tuono and I are moving through the ever-expanding universe as one bio-mechanical life force, man and machine. As opposed to a man and his dog. In my case that would be dogs, but that’s another blog.

My Aprilia Tuono is now 6.5 years old. I don’t know how many years that is in human years. There most be some factor for calculating its age in humans years. I only have about 4500 miles on it. Not a lot of miles on it, so in mechanically it’s in good shape. But in terms of motorcycle technology it’s getting old, not ready for retirement yet, but well on the way. The motorcycles coming out now make my Tuono look like a riding lawnmower. Tuono has about 120 HP at the rear wheel compared to the new motorcycles which generate about 160 HP and above at the rear wheel. None of that fancy stuff either, no traction control, ABS or those other gizmos.

Operating the Tuono keeps me in the now or the moment. As though I’m in some type moving bubble that keeps everything out but gravity. Good thing gravity gets in the bubble, that would be a problem if it didn’t. Enjoying only the essences of the motorcycle of the as I ride it, if there’s such a thing. Think about it, couple of billion years ago some stars exploded and spit out the pieces to create my Tuono and everything else. Maybe, in couple billion years from now the pieces from my Tuono will recombine back into another sun and restart the cycle. So I guess, I’m sticking with the word “essences.” hopefully the next cycle will see some different colors.

When I’m riding the Aprilia there’s symphony of movements, working the front brake lever, clutch lever, the brake pedal, gear shift lever and shifting my body around. The variations in the vibration in the handgrips, changes in pitch from the engine and the increase volume of the pulsating exhaust are all following me note for note in my little symphony. Somehow my Tuono knows my favorite song.

Down-shifting and up-shifting to keep the engine in the middle of its power band. Continually watching tachometer as I go through the gears. No slipper clutch on this baby. The tachometer is the most important instrument on this motorcycle, just like the EKG machine for humans. Even though I live in the States the speedometer still reads kilometers, I guess could change it, but I don’t. Might as well leave it in its native language. It’s hard to learn a new language when you get older. Besides who looks at the speedometer thing anyhow.

This the oldest motorcycle in the group of motorcycles that I own. Always the first one to go up for the winter and last to get out for the summer. Tucked away in the back corner of the garage. Far away from the cold Chicagoland winter winds. The last thing I have to do to the Tuono before I put the cover on is to remove the battery. When I’m removing the battery the movie “2001: Space Odyssey” comes to mind. The part where they’re removing circuit boards to shut the computer “HAL 9000” down. I wonder if my Tuono dreams?

Thank you for reading my blog. I wish I could pay you for reading my blogs, but I can’t. Although, it’s likely that you are much smarter now than you were a few minutes ago. Hopefully it only took you few minutes. Don’t run and get an IQ test just yet. Your increased intelligence can’t be measured in the old fashioned regular ways, but you are, you’ll just have to take my word for it. If you need proof for your employer please contact at bill@coolcycledude.com.

Wear your helmet, enjoy your life and be safe.

No Moto Guzzi For Me!

I finally got to ride a Moto Guzzi. Sort of a life long dream for me to ride this brand of motorcycle. Was really looking forward to it. This was supposed to be one those moments in my life. I hate to use this analogy, but I will any way. It’s like losing your virginity with someone  is one of those moments. Losing it by yourself doesn’t count by the way. I don’t care what they told you. Those are one of the moments we’re taking about here. Hopefully it lasted longer than a minute for you. Oh, don’t you pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about either. I have one word to describe this losing my virginity-like moment: primitive.  That’s right, primitive. I thought for a moment that I had slipped back into time and was riding my very first mini-bike.

Before I go to far into this blog I need to frame a few things. The motorcycle had 16,000 miles or 26,000 kilometers on it. There was oil seeping from bottom of the cylinder and the tires needed to be replaced. Also, there’s possibility that I have been spoiled because I ride mostly Japanese motorcycles. Just in case you don’t know it, I can hear what you are thinking. “Coolcycledude, you suck, you loser. Why don’t you own a Harley Davidson?” I can answer that. Yes, I sure can. I did own a Harley Davidson during the AMF years. Enough said!

Well, let’s start with problem number one. When I used the center stand, the foot peg smashes into my calf. Ouch! I tried three different approaches to keep from hitting my leg. Still ouch! Even though I like the idea of a center stand, I don’t like the one on this bike. Just to make sure that there wasn’t something wrong with me, I had the shop owner put the motorcycle on the center stand. From the other side of the motorcycle, I saw the look on his face that said “ouch!” This stand punishes you when you use it.

This is my own personal bias but I don’t like motorcycles with dry clutches, never have, never will. They’re noisy making that clanging racket. Like something is lose or about ready to fall off. When you are in neutral or pull in the clutch lever the clanging starts. It’s on the loud side. Dry clutches never seem to grab just right always very very touchy. Tough to use in stop and go traffic. You might as well get off the motorcycle and push it in these situations. The clutch lever pull was very light so that wasn’t a problem.

Engine vibration, oh, I mean whole motorcycle vibration. Don’t bother trying to use the mirrors anywhere from 2,000 to 4,500 rpms. Looking at the mirror during those RPMs was like watching a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. Things in the mirrors were moving side to side, up and down, all over the place. You couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on behind you. The foot pegs vibrated like they were connected directly to the engine. The whole motorcycle vibrated like on of those beds you put a quarter in. It might be more money now, it has been a long while since I’ve been on one of those.

Steering the motorcycle didn’t seem right either. As the turns got tighter, it got harder to turn the handle bars. It was like driving  a “Total Work Gym” or what ever in hell that thing is called. You know, the thing that Chuck Norris pushes late at night. I didn’t try to lean the motorcycle into the corners. The feedback seemed delayed or something. It reminded me of driving a  snow sled on ice. I think the engine is mounted too high in the frame. This raises the center of gravity. Gives it an old feeling in the corners.

Okay, let’s talk about the good. I liked the instrument cluster, really liked the analog  gauges. The seat was nice and comfortable. It comes with Belimo brakes and they work well. That was pretty much it.

Let me make a prediction, Moto Guzzi will never advertise on my blog or website. I would not buy this motorcycle, period. But that doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t. Riding a motorcycle is a very enjoyable experience and everyone has different tastes. Thank you very much for reading my blog. Oh, by the way I’m still trying to get you paid when you read my blogs.

No Tachometer? What The "Fire Truck?"

How can someone ride a motorcycle without tachometer? Why on earth would you want own a motorcycle without a tachometer? Is there something wrong with you? Don’t ask yourself that question, ask someone else, your opinion would be biased. Are you really cheap?  You can ask yourself that one, no second opinion is needed. Are you future dinosaur food?  Only time will tell on that one. Without a tachometer you might as well be riding a riding lawnmower or minbike. You and your John Deere cruising the highway. Do you look good in green?

The tachometer is the most important instrument on your motorcycle. All of that other stuff is to meet some governmental regulation. Just “the man” taking control of your life. That speedometer thing is way overrated. Periodically I’ve notice that the value on the speedometer thing changes from time to time. But otherwise the information from it is completely useless. They might as well tear that thing out and put a clock in its place.

Don’t listen to me, look at the current motorcycle manufacturing trends. The tachometer is getting bigger and that speedometer thing is getting smaller. Very very tiny, so so small. The tachometer on my Vmax is so big you can see it from outer space. The tachometer on the Vmax is so big it works like a windscreen. If I park my Vmax a certain way, the tachometer will cause an eclipse in the state Illinois. I’m pretty sure you got the point now, right?

Let’s say you have motorcycle without a tachometer, there still hope for you, you can be saved. An upgrade kit can be purchased giving you opportunity to fit in with the real motorcycle community. You don’t want people to say “Are you sure that person doesn’t have a tachometer on their motorcycle?” Yes I’m sure! Well I guess the world needs ditch diggers too!

If you plan on getting and riding a motorcycle without a tachometer to shift the gears correctly, you should get one of those Electronic Transmission motorcycles, slacker. Also, you might want to get in line to order power steering for your next motorcycle.

I believe it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due. Using the words “fire truck” to replace another word was not my idea. I wish it was, but it’s not, got the idea from Smosh.com. They have the capability to sing and dance, check it out.

Wear your helmet, I don’t want you to get hurt. I need as many people as possible to read my blogs. As far as I can tell dead people don’t read blogs. Be safe!

Throttle Therapy

I was checking the tweets on my Twitter stream @coolcycledude and came across the phrase “Throttle Therapy.” This phase came from @MissBusa, it was her idea. And after thinking about this, it is really a defining term that describes why I ride a motorcycle. I know in the first blog I wrote about that I like the way motorcycles smell. Reading that blog will probably enhance your life. Or you might want stop reading this and turn on the TV.

I know this has been said thousands of times that riding a motorcycle is a relaxing experience. For me riding a motorcycle is not relaxing, it’s an intense experience. This doesn’t mean that I’m driving on the sidewalk at 100 mph or doing a wheelie down the middle of road. Nor would I stand on the gas tank while riding a motorcycle waving my arms, or riding it on the back wheel while siting on handlebars. Some people like doing this and that’s fine for them, but not for me. Sometimes when I see someone doing something dangerous on a motorcycle, natural selection comes to mind.

So back to the term “Throttle Therapy.” Riding a motorcycle increases my sense of well-being by focusing on a specific task at hand. My body and mind are very busy operating the motorcycle. Just about everything else fades away from my thoughts when I’m riding. All of the voices in my mind or the things that have plagued me throughout my life disappear. We all have these voices or thoughts that reduce our mental well-being. I don’t care how well you are adjusted, your mental well-being could be improved. Unless you’re really mentally well adjusted, say like Buddha, then I guess you are enlightened and shouldn’t be reading this.

But I’m going to guess that Buddha would have worn his helmet when he rode his motorcycle. Thank you for reading my blog.

Why I Ride a Motorcycle

This is going sound pretty weird. But I like the way Aprilia Touno smells when I’m riding it and when I park it after it has been running.

At this point your thinking, “What the hell is an ‘Aprilia Touno?'” The short answer is an old people crotch rocket. Let me rephrase that, it’s an older person crotch rocket. No bending over to reach the handlebars. I’m an older person and I’m too old for the bending over part. You people currently riding a crotch rocket are probably laughing and thinking “Dude, why don’t you ride around in a wheelchair, dude.” One day you will get “older” and then you”ll understand; that I know for a fact! Crotch rocket riders are a lot like surfers, they start and end a sentence with “Dude.” Your next thought is, “Why am I reading a story about someone who smells motorcycles?” One good answer is, you probably need more things to do in your life. Okay let’s move on!

I have inserted a picture and video of my Aprilia Touno motorcycle in this post since a picture is worth a 1000 words. (Where did this phrase come from? Is there scientific data to support it?) Aprilia up and running video

My Aprilia

It’s just not one particular smell, but a whole array of smells. It reminds me of my first minibike. You know and remember the minibike… centrifugal friction clutch, low pressure tires, no suspension, big foam seat. Oxy-acetylene welded steel tubular frame. It was powered by a Briggs and Stratton single cylinder, with 3.5 horsepower lawnmower engine. Your weed whacker probably has the same amount of horsepower; it seemed like a lot at the time. No foot brake or shift lever, just a hand brake. The hand brake looked just like the one on your bicycle. A 5.0 horsepower model was also available, but no sane 10-year-old was going to ride that minibike. There were no gauges of any type. They just weren’t very important. You didn’t care about motor RPMs, speed, engine temperature, or if the fuel tank was almost empty. All of the information from some type of display was completely useless, utter rubbish. (Maybe someone from the UK will read this.) This was all about turning the throttle and going fast. Or what seemed very fast at the time. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 miles per hour.

You got this engine to come alive not by the electric or kick-start, but by a pull start. That’s right, pull start, just like your lawnmower. Unless you have an electric start lawnmower, you still don’t know what I’m talking about. If you have a lawnmower with electric start you probability own a yacht and have no idea what I’m talking about. Oh, just to make this clear I wasn’t stepping in dinosaur poo when I was trying to start my minibike.

Getting my minbike started was no easy task, it never started on the first pull or the second. It was always a test of wills between me and the minbike. Move the choke up then down, check for fuel in the carburetor bowl, and adjust the ideal screw. After this start-up ritual and about ten or so pulls it finely came to life. Thinking back, I don’t think coming to life was the best way to describe it either. It was more like I had awoken something that needed a lot more sleep.

Once it was started, the throbbing and rattling were like music to my ears. I guess if you were going to equate the sounds with today’s music, then rap it is. I still remember the sound of the chain guard rattling. That was my speedometer, the more it rattled the faster I was going… until it fell off and it fell off a lot as I recall. Man, I wish they had Loctite back then.

Okay, here comes the really weird part of this story. To this day I still can remember the smells of chain lubricant, the friction pads in the clutch, the seat, the engine oil leaking from the head gasket. These sensory experiences have somehow been imprinted in my brain and remained there. Also, I think these sensory experiences have overrun the part of my brain where the ability to spell occurs. I’m pretty sure that the next person my wife marries is going to get a spelling test.

I wish I still  had a picture of my old minibike, because I can’t remember what color it was. I’m going to guess it was blue or brown in color. You think the color of it would have stuck in my mind. Maybe, I was repainting it all the time, maybe that’s why I can’t remember.

No, I don’t want you to get the idea my Aprilia Touno and minibike from the past are equals. I sure don’t want piss off a bunch of people in Italy, I saw all of the Godfather movies. No that’s not what this about. That minibike or the experience of riding it was the driving force that led me to purchasing the Touno. Not just Touno, but all the motorcycles I own or have owned. I guess all of the motorcycles I have owned have a little bit minibike in all of them.

Wear your helmet!