Category Archives: Going through the gears

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.

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.

2015 Ride for the Kids Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation

Twenty-eight thousand people in the US are living with the diagnosis of a pediatric brain tumor. The Ride for Kids program, a national series of motorcycle rides that supports the work of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, made it their mission to eliminate the challenges of childhood brain tumors by funding medical research and family support programs. Brian Klock of Klock Werks said he felt humbled to be able to help kids and families, and also honored to be paired with “two of the most iconic names in the industry, American Honda and Cycle World.”

“When I was told 13 kids are diagnosed every day, I thought, what can we do to help?” Brian Klock, President and Visionary of Klock Werks said. “Kids are the future of our industry, and of our world, so when you get a chance to help out, you should.”

And that’s exactly what Klock set out to do with the benchmark standard for touring bikes. The new Ride for Kids/Cycle World project bike raffle features a Honda F6B donated by American Honda and customized by Klock Werks. It was on display at the New York International Motorcyle Show December 11th-13th.

“The F6B is a new platform for Honda, designed to bring in a different crowd. It has everything that riders love about a Gold Wing, but is a sportier version of the touring standard.” Klock said. “If you would have told me we could design a windshield to help a Gold Wing handle even better than it already does, I would have doubted it, but when we tested our Flare™ Windshield on it, it did just that! We are really excited to add Honda fitments to the available line of our original Flare™ Windshields, and are proud to be able to showcase our Flare™ along with other custom touches on this project.”

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Klock donated his team’s design and labor time for the F6B project, as well as the original Klock Werks Flare™ Windshield. Other donated parts and accessories include front 180/55-18 and rear tires from Avon Tyres, raked 180 tree kit from Hannigan Motorsports, drink holder, saddlebag trim, floorboards and rear reflector from Kuryakyn, Cerrakote flat black exhaust by Liquid Designz, Mustang seat and backrest pad, Eclipse series “Temper” front wheel from RC Components, SoCal Moto Gear’s HID headlights and smoked mirror turn signals, Monster Oval exhaust system from Vance and Hines, and custom badges and license plate frame, courtesy of XYZ Machine.

“It was great to get our hands on this bike,” Klock said. “We gave the F6B an even thicker look and more attitude with a 180 front tire, along with the rest of these subtle, but custom, touches.”

The winner of this decked-out Honda F6B will be drawn in May 2016. Tickets are available one for $5 or five for $20 at the AIMExpo, the International Motorcycle Shows, the Honda tent in Daytona, the MotoGP in Austin, and The Quail Gathering. They can also be purchased at www.curethekids.org/projectbike.

About Klock Werks

Located in Mitchell, South Dakota, Klock Werks has grown from humble beginnings to a nationally and internationally recognized Brand. Achieving status as “Air Management Experts”, Klock Werks credits this to the success of the original, patented, Flare™ Windshield. Also supplying fenders, handlebars, and other motorcycle parts, Klock Werks proudly leads the industry through innovation in design and quality of materials and fitment. Team Klock Werks has been successful for years designing parts, creating custom motorcycles, and setting records on the Bonneville Salt Flats. You will find motorcycles, family, and faith at the core of Klock Werks, along with a commitment to caring for the needs of enthusiasts around the world who enjoy their products.

Klock Werks Builds A Military Tribute Style Motorcycle

Klock Werks Kustom Cycles is beyond honored and humbled to have the opportunity to partner with Indian Motorcycle on a project that pays tribute to the outstanding service men and women of our country. With an impressive track record of supporting U.S. troops dating back to WWI, Indian Motorcycle has always believed in the importance of standing strong to support the Military.

The 2015 Scout was the perfect platform for Klock Werks to build a military tribute style motorcycle; The USO Scout. The motorcycle has long been a staple in the military ranks as a workhorse, but beyond that and more importantly it helped build the morale of those serving on deployment as a symbol of hope. Hope in one day returning home being reunited with family, friends and a great American motorcycle ride.

“The USO does so much as a non profit for the moral of our troops and entertainment during those long stints away from family, we are proud to give back in such a way that utilizes the talents of our team and a great motorcycle like the Scout”, said Brian Klock, founder of Klock Werks.

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The matte green paint is indicative of a vintage military bike, and was perfectly applied by Brad Smith of The Factory Match. The USO Scout features taillights that are modern street legal reproductions on a custom bracket to mimic the original lights used back in the day.

The saddlebags seen are an Indian Accessory; the “Klassic” seat kit has been custom upholstered using the exact same hides as on the saddlebags. That same leather wraps the base of the Indian quick detach windshield.

The front fender is a Klock Werks “Klassic” design for the new Scout model.

The fork caps and rear shock covers are custom rapid prototype parts designed on Klock Werks Stratasys equipment.

The Indian Chieftain floorboards feature custom Klock Werks designed mounting brackets and hardware.

The luggage rack is a custom one off billet top with metal side plates featuring the USO logo.

The exhaust has been ceramic coated to blend with the frame coloration.

The right side features a “Klassic” round cover with a faux serial number for effect.

The custom gun scabbard mount holds a Thompson sub machine gun with a custom gunstock by Boyds Gunstocks of Mitchell, SD. The USO and Indian logos are both featured in the wood.

“The balance of custom touches and keeping the bike ride able for events was critical. We were not trying to recreate an old bike but rather conjure up images of yesteryear while paying homage to the modern water-cooled powerplant, and innovative design elements”, Brian stated. “Klock Werks team took Indian’s direction and executed a fully functional motorcycle. The talented team from Boyd’s Gunstocks certainly added the frosting to the cake with their efforts. We are fortunate to be able to work with the USO on furthering their cause and be surrounded by the talent in Mitchell, SD.”

Valerie Thompson returns to NHRA drag racing series and land speed racing in 2016

America’s Queen of Speed combines forces with Star Racing and Chris Rivas for 2016 NHRA season

(Scottsdale, AZ) – Nov. 10, 2015 – Seven-time land speed record holder Valerie Thompson plans to compete for a full season of NHRA drag racing next year with a Star Racing built Pro Stock Motorcycle as an independent team owner and driver. Thompson will also continue seeking new land speed racing records with her team’s BMW S 1000 RR at select events in 2016.

In addition with technical support by Star Racing, Thompson’s team will be led by recently appointed crew chief, Chris Rivas. Rivas is a former Pro Stock Motorcycle racer with four NHRA event wins and six land speed racing world records.

“Chris Rivas has been successful in drag racing while setting new land speed records. As a crew chief, he will be one of my biggest assets. He understands the difference between quarter-mile and land speed racing, so he can help our team with everything from bike set-up to my riding technique as I transition back to drag racing,” added Thompson.

Thompson’s motorcycle-racing career began in the All Harley Drag Racing Association (AHDRA) where she finished third in the V-Rod Destroyer class in 2007 and was featured in a Super Bowl commercial with Danica Patrick. She also entered several NHRA in 2008 with a best elapsed time 7.05 seconds.

“I have a real passion for land speed racing, but I can’t express how excited I am to return to my ‘racing roots’ with a bike built by George Bryce’s Star Racing team. George and his wife Jackie, operate one of the most successful NHRA Pro Stock motorcycle teams in the history of the sport, so I’m confident we will do well next year,” said Thompson.

“I’m delighted to see Valerie returning to drag racing and thankful she chose Star Racing to help her new team. We are also looking forward to working with Chris Rivas again,” said George Bryce, Star Racing owner.

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. This year, 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.”

Chicagoland Wings!

During the 2015 season I rode with several different motorcycle groups. I guess it’s time to write about my experiences with these groups. I just read an interesting article about USA motorcycle riders’ behavior. 58% of us are what’s referred to as “Lone Wolf Riders.” No groups, no vests and no patches. We just roll our motorcycles out of the garage and go.

First up is the Chicagoland Wings! Here’s a link to their website. http://gwrra-ilz2.com/. Before I write about my experience I’m going to give you the official statement from their website. “We are one of several Illinois Chapters of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association. The world’s largest single-marque social organization for owners and riders of Honda Gold Wing and Valkyrie motorcycles. We are dedicated to our motto, Friends for Fun, Safety and Knowledge. GWRRA members enjoy the freedom of belonging to a not-for-profit, non-religious, and non-political organization.”

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. I don’t own a Honda Gold Wing or a Valkyrie motorcycle. Can I still participate in this group if I don’t own one of these motorcycles? Well, I’m going with yes. Considering fact that I’ve showed up on my Moto Gizzi and other riders at the meetings have different motorcycle brands too. So I’m going to throw this out there, it pretty much looks like if you like to ride a motorcycle you can be a participant in this group.

I am a member of Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA). I own a 2008 Honda Golwing. I’m pretty sure the membership cost me about $45 a year. The GWRRA creates a magazine that they send out periodically. You can get either by mail or an electronic version to read on your iPad or such.

This magazine is filled with useful motorcycle rider information and advertisement specifically targeting Honda Gold Wing motorcycles. There are other benefits to being a member of this organization but I just don’t have in front of me to write about it. Here’s a link to their website so you can get the correct information. http://www.gwrra.org/

Next let’s talk about the meeting logistics. The meetings are held every third Sunday at the Denny’s located at 17 W 660 22nd street, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181. The meetings start at about 9 am giving you the opportunity to eat breakfast and hear what’s going on in the group and the parent organization (GWRRA). There is also an opportunity for you to gamble because during the meeting they run a 50-50 ticket raffle.

One of my favorite things about this group is that there are women riders in the group. They’re not just passengers but they ride their own motorcycles. In my opinion this reduces the level of testosterone in the group. Maybe reduces the level of testosterone is the wrong thing to say, let’s just say it dilutes the level of testosterone.

Excessive testosterone and motorcycles leads to bad things. I’ve ridden with several all-male groups and the first two things that go out the window are safety and critical thinking. So anytime I see a group that has women riders I’m in.

Before I go any farther I’d like to nail down the relationships between the different organizations. The Chicagoland wings are a chapter of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association. I believe there is more than one Illinois chapter and the technical name for this chapter is “GWRRA Chapter IL-Z2.” I may have this wrong but I believe you have to be a member of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA) in order to participate in a local chapter. Without doing any research I’m going to guess that there are chapters located all over the world.

Okay, who are you riding with in this group? I’m three clicks away from 60 and would consider myself a little bit under the mean average age. I wouldn’t say that I’m an outlier on the Bell curve just a little bit off from the center. I look like I’m in my early forties and sometimes I feel like the “Kid” in the group. But, that’s just me internalizing.

The club president definitely goes out of his way to try to connect with anyone who is new or possibly overwhelmed by this experience their first meeting. This is definitely one of the friendlier groups that I’ve rode with. Example, I’ve been provided with coupons by other members to reduce the cost of my breakfasts on several occasions. I guess this is a small thing, but it’s indicative to the whole culture of the group.

On our last outing we went to Volo Auto Museum located in 27582 Volo Village Rd, Volo, IL . I’ve driven past this place several times, but never stopped in. This particular outing was about a 90 mile round trip I believe. The Volvo Auto Museum is an interesting place for me because it is filled with “muscle cars” from back in the day. I got a chance to reminisce about cars that I always wanted to own.

But true be told, I love my 2015 Honda Accord. I like how every time I get in the driver seat it adjusts to fit me after the wife has just driven it. That is just so “car-gasmic” for me. You can’t beat no key to turn, Bluetooth conductivity, wall-to-wall-air bags and a bunch of technology I don’t know how to use. Muscle cars just don’t seem so cool anymore.

Okay this blog is starting to turn into an episode of the Seinfeld show, a lot about nothing. So improve you social skills and ride with this group!

Be safe, ride your motorcycle, enjoy you life, help those in need, go to pet shelter and try to improve the planet. Oh, one other thing, please checkout all of my media, thanks.

2014 Moto Guzzi California 1400 Touring Almost Got Deported!

It was Sunday morning and I was slipping on my motorcycle boots getting ready for a ride. With my boots on I headed down the hallway trying not to step on our dog. Molly is our Golden Retriever who loves to lie on tile floor in the hallway to the garage. I give her a quick pet and carefully step over her trying not to wake her. Once I’m on the other side of our 80 pound fuzzy bumpy roadblock I headed for the door into the garage. I quickly passed through the door into the garage.

I pretty much had my heart set on riding the Moto Guzzi that morning. I started transferring all of motorcycle stuff from the Harley Davidson Ultra Limited’s saddle bags to the Moto Guzzi’s saddle bags. Once everything was transferred I got on the Moto Guzzi and rolled it to middle of the garage. I got off the motorcycle to press the garage door opener button on the control unit mounted on the wall in the garage. Up goes the garage door. I walked back over to the motorcycle.

I turned the key in the ignition switch and pressed the start button. The next thing I know all hell was breaking loose with my trusted Italian best buddy in the garage. The engine started “surging” as though it was trying to dissemble itself. Not groovy! No way dude! I didn’t wait for the pistons to come flying out of the engine. I hit the kill switch and turned the key to off position to end the suffering.

It was so loud that the wife came into garage from the second floor to see if I was okay. I was fine but my Italian best buddy was not. I put the kill switch to on position then I turned the ignition switch to the on position and looked at the speedometer. It had the word “service” in the LCD display. “No shit, no fucking shit” I thought to myself. One other weird thing, the emergency flasher LED was lit on the speedometer, too.

Did I bump the emergency flasher switch near the handgrip? Pressed the emergency flasher switch a few times and no change. WTF! Italian piece of crap, double WTF! I turned the ignition switch to the off position. Waited a few minutes and started the motorcycle again. The engine was now running like it normally did, yeah! I looked at the speedometer and the word “service” was still in the LCD display and the emergency flasher LED was lit on the speedometer. Triple WTF!

Okay, Kelly Blue Book and NADA here I come. How much can I get for Italian best ex-buddy? Maybe, I’ll trade this sucker in for a Honda? Or maybe, it’s time to deport my Moto Guzzi! Nope, that isn’t going to happen. Owning a Moto Guzzi is all about a test of wills. You’re thrown into an epic battle that you must win at all costs. Once the Moto Guzzi sees the fear in your eyes, you’re screwed.

Well, knowledge is power, so off to the Google I go. I typed in my sad story on the computer and boom, there it is. Some other owner had the same problem as me. This dude is the “man” and he understands inner workings of Moto Guzzi motorcycles. As I read his post, it all becomes clears to me. My Italian best buddy has a sensor problem. I now realize that I need professional help to win this war.

I picked up the phone and called Jim at Rose Farm Classics in Woodstock Illinois. After speaking with Jim, he tells me to bring the motorcycle in on Monday. Jim’s shop is about 50 miles from my house. So I ask Jim “Do you think it will make it?” He responds, “I guess we will find out.” Note to self, don’t ask Jim to predict the future again. So Monday morning rolls around and off I go at 4:30 am to beat the traffic.

I arrived at his shop around 6:30 am. Right around 7:00 am Jim shows up. We pushed my Moto Guzzi into his shop to the lift and up it goes. He connects his computer to my Moto Guzzi’s computer and tells me the throttle position sensor had an error. I ask him, “Should it be replaced?” He responds, “Nope,” and follows up with “I’m going to upgrade the software.” He then tells me this should solve my sensor error problem.

I asked Jim if he can do the 6,000 mile service with 5,000 miles on the motorcycle. He says “Sure, but I’ll still need to come back at 6,000 miles so he can reset the computer.” Okay, fine, I’m here, let’s get it done. I wish I could tell you what was done on 6,000 mile service. I can’t, Jim has a really nice leather couch in the showroom. The next thing I know it’s 11:30 am and I’m waking up from a nap on the couch.

I got up off of the couch, walked into the shop and asked Jim if we’re all good, he responded “Yep.” We rolled my Italian best buddy out of the shop. I turned the ignition switch on and up pops Veloce in LCD display. The emergency flasher LED was no longer lit on the speedometer either. Yeah! Veloce is an Italian word which means fast, quick, and speedy. I now have my motorcycle in the sport mode and I hope it’s ready to roll. I hit start button and my Moto Guzzi comes to life. Sweet!

Yep, my Moto Guzzi will remain in the USA in the garage with dual citizenship for now!

2015 Indian Chief Classic’s first 200 mile trip!

This is going be a continuing series about how my 2015 Indian Chief Classic performs and my experience of owning it. I’m not going to bullshit you about anything about this motorcycle. I don’t work for Indian. I’m just another motorcycle consumer like you. If something sucks, you’re going know about it. I’ll deal with facts, figures and my opinion.

Last Sunday, I rode with the Lilac Village War Lords. Nope, not true, sorry. Sounds pretty cool, though, say it with me “Lilac Village War Lords.” The truth is I rode with the Jersey Pine Cruisers. The Jersey Pine Cruiser’s home base is in Mount Prospect Illinois.We rode into the fine state of Wisconsin around the Lake Geneva area.

Okay back on track! I need to have the pre-load adjusted on the rear shock. I’ve got a feeling that motorcycle comes from the factory for someone south of 200 pounds. Well, guess what, I’m north of 200 pounds. So during the ride, my spinal cord got adjusted, a few times. I’m hoping that there’s going to be aftermarket air-shock available soon.

It was a 90 degree day. Good day to see if that big V-twin gets hot between my legs. Guess what? It does! But, it seems to be concentrated on the right side. I saw that coming, not a big deal. Just the nature of the beast. If you want a cooler running engine, then get one that’s water-cooled. I will say this, my old Harley-Davidson 2012 Softail Deluxe would roast both legs, medium well!

The transmission works like a charm. No bouncing back and forth from first to second trying to find neutral. My 2014 Harley Davidson Road King on occasion likes to play “find neutral if you can.” No sponge gears either! What’s a sponge gear? Let’s use my 2014 Moto Guzzi California Touring as an example. Sometimes when I down-shift, it feels like I’m stepping on a sponge. There’s some resistance, but nothing happens. When I feel the “sponge gear” coming on, I up-shift and then down-shift again. It’s all good. It adds some spice to my life.

The engine develops a lot of useful torque. I find myself lazily going through the gears. There have been times when I should have down-shifted, but I didn’t. The engine doesn’t complain by the usual methods. It’s almost like you only need the transmission to get the motorcycle moving. After that, it’s pretty much like an automatic with a few adjustments now and then.

I really don’t feel this motorcycle is drag strip material. It’s new and I haven’t put it through its paces yet, but you can tell. I’m good with that, too. I’m going to guess it’s all about the mass your trying to propel. Send this motorcycle to Weight Watchers for a few months and you’ll have different story to tell.

I can set my helmet on the seat with the engine running. If I try the same feat with my Road King, Ultra Limited or the Moto Guzzi I’d be picking up my helmet off of the ground in seconds. Engine vibrations are kept under control. So if you’re dead set on shaking handlebars, mirrors, floorboards and fuel tanks you’re out of luck.

I read that some people complained about the distance from the handgrips to the levers. I have a normal size hand and didn’t have a problem operating the levers. By normal, I mean I am unable to palm a basketball. The brakes have a really good feel to them. It would appear they provide more than enough stopping power.

I guess my brain is starting to attenuate out the engine noise. It just doesn’t bother me anymore… nor does the rattling coming from the fuel tank area that I once heard in the distant past.

2015 Indian Chief Classic Day One

This is going be a continuing series about how my 2015 Indian Chief Classic performs and my experience of owning it. I’m not going to bullshit you about anything about this motorcycle. I don’t work for Indian. I’m just another motorcycle consumer like you. If something sucks you’re going know about it. I’ll deal with facts, figures and my opinion.

Why did I buy an Indian Motorcycle?

The truth is I wanted own a piece of American motorcycle history. Not the history of a brand that died sometime in the 1960s. I know Polaris is trying to link their Indian motorcycles to the ones that were built in 1901. I’m not having any of those shenanigans. I have no emotional link with those motorcycles. The whole Indian motorcycle beginning and ending happened before my starting date on this planet.

Although, I’ve read about the history of the old Indian brand and their motorcycles in few books that I currently own. My Indian motorcycle’s history started in 2014. This was when a very competitive and cool product was brought to life. Also putting these new motorcycles in the mix was bold move! You’ve gone to war with the “Death Star” aka Harley Davidson. Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Victory and Kawasaki have all made changes to their line ups. They’ve retreated from certain motorcycle segments in hopes of greener grass in other segments. I’m hopeful Polaris / Indian has a lot of cash and the “force” is with them.

Something made in America! Yep, as I get older that’s starting to be a factor in what I purchase these days. I know all of the parts are not made in America, but at least it’s assembled by an American worker in an American factory. I know that people in other countries read my blog. So I want to make this perfectly clear. I am not suggesting that the craftsmanship in other countries is less than what goes on in the United States. I just think it’s cool to build things in the USA.

I’m not a Harley Davidson hater! I’ve been to several Indian demo rides where Harley owners couldn’t trade in their motorcycles in fast enough. There have been some painful and frustrating Harley Davidson experiences for me too. But I consider owning a motorcycle like any other life experience. You’ll have your ups and downs, that’s just how it goes. Without a doubt, I know that Indian dealer will one day will provide me with a painful and frustrating experience too.

Which model did I buy?

I bought a 2015 Chief Classic in black. The 2015 Chief Classic in black was cheapest one of that model. Any other colors than black raised the cost of the motorcycle. I thought about buying the Chieftain in the same color, but I needed to control costs. It’s about a $4,000 dollar difference between the two. Plus, I already have two motorcycles like the Chieftain.

Being able to remove the windshield was a big factor in my decision. In July and August it gets very warm in the state of ILL. I’m not a big fan of riding a motorcycle without a leather jacket. I have a Vanson perforated leather jacket that is bearable to wear in warm weather. Removing the windshield even makes it more bearable because air flows through it, cooling me.

What did it cost me?

I paid roughly 6.25% less list price. You do the math! I know you will. The Indian dealer provided me with a mid-size windshield. The windshield was part of a promotion to promote sales. Yep, nothing like giving something to get something. If I would have bought a 2014 model last year, it would have been roughly 9.55% less than list price. Indian had a stronger promotional mechanism in place last year. But, I have a strict unyielding no loan policy, no cash no buy! One of my life rules, I guess.

What Indian extras parts did I buy already?

Well, I cannot go without a toe-heal-shifter. It seems odd to write this down, but it’s a fact. It just doesn’t feel like a motorcycle without floorboards and a toe-heal-shifter. That cost me another $160.00. I’m getting older and lose things on occasion so I bought a second fob. That was damn close to $150.00.

What other extras parts did I buy already?

At this point in my life I can’t go anywhere with my stuff. I don’t know when in the hell that switch flipped but it did. Back in the day I’d ride a motorcycle all day long without bring a single thing with me! Now a days I’ve got hand tools, tire repair kits, air compressor, jumper cables, rain gear and a bunch of other stuff. So I bought a set of soft bags manufactured by US Saddle Bags. These bags are made in the USA. The cost of the bags and mounting hardware was right around $800.00. This was about 40% less than the Indian bags.

US Saddle Bags did not provide me with any monetary incentive to purchase their product. I prefer it that way. There are a couple reoccurring themes in my life, I’m not very good at kissing ass, nor have I ever been employee of month.

I bought the hardware to mount my Garmin GPS unit to the handlebars. I’m a big fan of GPS units. I believe I don’t use GPS unit like most others. I don’t use it to get to a destination. I just use it to find my way home. I roll my motorcycle out of the garage and just go! After three to four hours of riding I hit the home button. It plots a course home and I’m on my way.

I do have one little problem with my new GPS unit. It somehow knew where I lived without programming that information into it. This is a bit unsettling and feeds my paranoia about the New World Order. The old GPS unit required me enter my home address. The guy at Garmin told that when I connected the GPS unit to my computer it got that information. I know he’s probably lying to me and he’s part of the New World Order.

What Indian extras parts do I plan on buying in the future?

I’ll probably buy the front crash bar and the rear crash bars. I don’t know why they call them crash bars, but in reality they’re more like fall over bars. Also I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy the rear backrest and a rack to hold more of my junk. I’m not completely sure, but I’ve estimated that these parts will run me around $2500. Basically I plan on outfitting it exactly the way my 2014 Harley-Davidson Road King is set up.

What is way cool?

This motorcycle is loaded with chrome bits! The Indian branding is all over the motorcycle. I love the sound that resonates from the exhaust pipes. From what I’ve seen so far, it looks like the accessories are extremely easy to install. The transmission has worked like a charm from day one. No fooling around for neutral or ghost gears. I can’t think of a better term to describe its operation than “smooth.” The red background lighting on the faceplates of the speedometer and gas gauge at night.

What blows already?

The engine seems a little bit on the noisy side. Rode it a little bit without a helmet to make I wasn’t hearing other things. The noise is not a big deal, but it’s there. The noise is also hard to define and the exact location can’t be determined.

The suspension seems a little on harsh side. During its next visit to the dealer, I’m going to ask them to adjust the pre-load on the rear shock. I didn’t see any adjustment for the front forks. I’m not going to bitch too much about this, because part of the problem is my mass.

There seems to be some rattles coming from the motorcycle. I noticed this on the several demo rides that I did on other Indian motorcycles over the last two years. So it’s not really a big deal for me because I’m used to riding Harley Davison’s. So I should be conditioned to tune out any rattles. But for some reason these rattles resonate in my brain.

The rear cylinder on right side does generate some heat. I wear Kevlar lined jeans this might help to reflect the heat away from my right leg. To be truthful, it was not as hot as my 2012 Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe that I owned. The fact is on an air and oil cooled engine, the heat is just the nature of the beast.