Category Archives: Going through the gears

I rode an Indian Motorcycle, or I think I did?

I went to an Indian motorcycle demo ride in Madison Wisconsin a few weeks ago. I’ve been on a lot of demo rides in my time. But this was the most attended one to date. It was jammed! I got to give credit to Polaris for creating that kind of hype around a brand new product. I mean they really did a good job. Even though I registered about a half-hour after the demo ride started I still had to wait two hours to get on and Indian motorcycle.

The one thing that is starting to bother me about the Polaris’s Indian motorcycle brand is its attempt to link it with the Indian motorcycles of the past. According to Wikipedia all production of all Indian motorcycles stopped in 1953. Five years before my introduction to this planet. There have been several attempts to resurrect the Indian brand none have been commercially successful to date.

The Polaris / Indian truck
The Polaris / Indian Demo Truck

There was one individual who used the Indian brand name without actually purchasing the rights to sell minibikes. I guess you can’t blame him for trying. So all I really know in my time on this planet is a bunch of Indian knockoffs and the products produced by Harley-Davidson continuously from 1903. So technically I have no reference of the Indians before 1953 and probably have a bias towards the product in favor of Harley-Davidson.

I know Polaris wants to create street credentials by using the Indian brand so they can go toe to toe with Harley-Davidson brand. So basically that’s where the problem begins for me. On their demo truck they have in big letters”America’s First Motorcycle Company.” It’s their truck so they can write what ever they want on it. But to me it sends the wrong message.

Yep, the original Indian motorcycle company did start manufacturing motorcycles before Harley-Davidson did. Okay, I’m cool with that, if you’re first in line, your first in line. But the idea that some other company can purchase a brand name to link the present and past products is a little bit unnerving and a falsity for me. Sorry, that’s just the way I’m wired.

I don’t want you to leave with the idea that I’m a Polaris hater. I’ve said this over and over on my YouTube channel and previous blogs that if I didn’t own a Harley my ass would be sitting on a Victory. Also, the new Indian motorcycle is way cool to ride so don’t get me wrong about the product. But their marketing ploy seems like shenanigans to me. So I guess I rode an Indian motorcycle, or I think I did?

Your thoughts?

 

 

Where’s my Dealer Network, Dude?

Okay I’m no different than anybody else who likes motorcycles. I don’t know if like is the correct word but I’m going to go with it. I’ve been checking the Internet over and over again to get a glimpse of the new Indian motorcycles. I want a front row seat to the big event. I’ve seen a  few pictures and videos for the ” Thunder Stroke 111 engine.” But I want more, damn it!

So I fired up the old Google search engine today. I typed in “Indian Motorcycles” in the search bar. Right at top of the web page was the link. Polaris is probably dishing out some big monies to Google AdWords for this placement. Clicked on link to the Indian motorcycle homepage and then my life finally became complete.  After staring at the webpage in a comatose state for a few minutes, I’ve come to terms with which Indian motorcycle I’d like to buy. I’m in! Where do I send the check? Do I need to get on waiting list? Hope there’s still some room in the garage. The wife will be so happy to see another motorcycle in the garage.

My choice would be the Indian Chief Classic. No bags or windshield for me. I like the wind in my face!  I guess it would be considered the base model or essentially the cheapest one of the three. It really has a lot of nice features for a base model. Cruise control and anti-lock brakes are nice standard features. It’s listed on the web site for$18,999. That’s in the same ballpark as one of Harley Davidson’s motorcycles. So I guess the price is not too far out of whack. A lot more competitively priced than their previous models.

I would definitely go with the Springfield blue paint job. I’ve never owned a blue motorcycle. Now that I think about it, I’ve never owned a blue anything. It might be time to own something  painted blue. I wonder what the color blue says about me. The blue paint job is going to cost a little extra, but it’s only money. So now my future Indian Chief Classic is $19,399 without taxes and other fees. Blue paint must be really hard to come by. Well I guess it’s still under $20,000.

Up at the top right corner of the Indian Motorcycle web page is the find dealer button. I moved the mouse pointer over it and click! Up pops a map, nice! As I scan the directions looking for the most important piece of data. The distance from our house to the Indian dealer. The dealer is just a little over 60 miles one way. Let’s do some math, 60 miles plus 60 miles equals 120 miles. So the dealer is actually 120 miles away from me. Okay, not the end of the world.

I travel 110 miles round-trip to the dealer that sold and services my Moto Guzzi motorcycle. But Moto Guzzi has no interest in going toe to toe with the Harley-Davidson motorcycle manufacturing machine. Moto Guzzi would be happy to sell a couple hundred extra motorcycles a year. The Indian brand on the other hand would like to go toe to toe with Harley-Davidson. I’m pretty damn sure Polaris knows exactly what they’re up against. I sure as hell hope Polaris isn’t using the ” we will build it and they will buy it” strategy.

I would have thought that Scott Wine, the CEO of Polaris Industries, would have been working to increase their dealer network before they unleashed their new motorcycles. It almost seems like they put the proverbial “cart before the horse.” I know potential buyers are very excited about these motorcycles and most likely thinking “Where’s my dealer network, dude?” I know I sure am.

I sure hope Polaris doesn’t try to put the Indian motorcycles and the Victory motorcycles in the same dealership. I really believe this would dilute the Victory brand which is a really good product. I’ve ridden a lot of Victory motorcycles and if I wasn’t partial to Harley-Davidson’s motorcycles I definitely would have my butt on a Victory motorcycle.

Where I live I could set off a thermonuclear bomb and destroy at least five Harley-Davidson dealerships. Let’s pray that homeland security doesn’t read my blog like everyone else. Having dealerships close by really helps support the brand marketing strategies. Trying to take away market share from Harley-Davidson is going to be an epic battle. All of the current manufacturers have tried and several have failed which cause them to stop participating in this particular market segment. A lot of you haters are not going to like this, but Harley-Davidson kicks ass in this market segment.

I’m going to guess the Polaris dumped a  lot of monies into this Indian Motorcycle venture.  So Scott should’ve been driving around pounding on every potential dealer’s door offering them just about anything they want to get their motorcycles on the dealer’s showroom floors. Without a strong dealer network, I see troubles ahead for the Indian motorcycles. Not everyone is like me willing to drive 120 odd miles to a dealership for particular motorcycle.

Mechanical Poetry!

I got the opportunity to ride Harley Davidson’s Softail Deluxe about ten months ago. I know, I know, little slow on writing about it. I might as well spill the beans right now, get it all the way out, this is my favorite Harley Davidson motorcycle.

It just fits me perfectively, like we we’re made for each other. I’ve ridden this motorcycle about ten times in the last few years. I’m very surprised Harley Davidson hasn’t sent me a bill! Or post a picture of me at the dealerships with a caption under it. Saying something like this, “don’t let this dude pictured above ride anything until he buys something.” I got very close to buy one a few years ago, but I bought a 2010 Yamaha VMax instead. I know, why in the hell did I do that? I like to go fast, really fast. Well I finely pulled the trigger in 2012 and bought one.

My 2012 Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe
My 2012 Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe

Okay back on track. Wildfire Harley Davidson was hosting a demo ride on June 3, 2012.  They had the Harley Davidson factory semitrailer park right out in front of their store. The big rig! A really big billboard! Wildfire Harley Davidson is located in Villa Park Illinois, right on route 64 in the state of ILL.  Wildfire is just a few miles from the Lilac Village. The Lilac Village is where I live with my charming and lovely wife. I need at least one person to read this.

I don’t know how long Wildfire Harley Davidson has been there, but it doesn’t seem that long. I can still remember when there was an empty lot there. The store is humongous, you can probably see it from out-space. It seems like all the new Harley Davidson stores are the size of a mini- Walmart.  Harley Davidson is all about branding their products, nothing like a big store to promote a brand.

It was beautiful day to ride a motorcycle, couldn’t been a better day. Well maybe, it could have been better. It could have been free Harley Davidson motorcycle day. That would have been much-more-better day. Has there ever been a free Harley Davidson motorcycle day? Hope I didn’t miss that day.  The temperature was somewhere around 70 degrees with a light wind blowing. A few clouds where floating around to keep the direct energy of that big ball of hydrogen off of me.

I rode the model with the two-tone paint job. It was birch white and midnight pearl, a beautiful color scheme to say the least. This color scheme really highlights all the chrome on the motorcycle.  There’s a lot of chrome on this motorcycle. My second choice color scheme would be the Red Sunglo. Red is a very strong color. The color red can symbolize excitement, energy, speed, strength, danger, passion, and aggression. But with all that said you can’t beat the two-tone paint job. I think Harley-Davidson is putting a lot of effort into painting their motorcycles, their just beautiful look at.

All of the other motorcycles that I already own develop more horse power and torque than the new 103B V-twin engine. After riding this motorcycle I’ve got to say that this engine is really smooth. Smooth for a Harley I mean. The 103B engine clocks in at about 68.1 horsepower @ 5000 rpm and 85.2 foot pounds @3600 rpm. But you don’t buy this motorcycle if your main mission is horsepower and torque. Nope, this isn’t a Suzuki GSXR 1000, Yamaha R1 or a Kawasaki Ninja 1000.

This motorcycle is a cruiser and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else but a cruiser. And to be completely truthful it’s the cruiser that all the other manufacturers are trying to emulate. I’m pretty sure you’ve figured this one out already if you know anything about motorcycles. The idea that the other manufacturers are trying to emulate and duplicate the V twin engine in a Harley Davison motorcycle really shows their limited creativity. The sad part is that most of the other manufacturers have failed to make headway in this market and have given up.

So what what’s the attraction? Every time I get on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. I get transported back in time and space. Bam, there I am in Milwaukee Wisconsin. The date is September 8, 1904. I don’t know what time it is because my iPhone won’t time travel with me. I’m sure Steve Jobs had something to do with that shit. You probably need the time travel app which you can purchase at iTunes.

But anyways, I’m looking at couple guys in 10 by 15 foot wood shed assembling the final pieces of a prototype machine or their very first Harley Davidson motorcycle. What could be cooler? You know this is going to sound odd but I’m going to put this moment right up there with assembling the Pyramids. Okay maybe that comparison was a little bit over the top. But really, what could be cooler? I’m going to give you a few minutes to think about this… okay times up. You got any other ideas? Nope, I didn’t think so!

As I’m standing in the shed I’m listening to their conversations about building a motorcycle. I could almost reach out and touch them. Remember I’m time traveling, not stalking. So I start walking around the shed and looking at the motorcycle from every angle. Also, I’m pretty sure they’ll be drinking a few beers while they put this baby together. Come on its Milwaukee Wisconsin for God”s sakes! I’m sure that one of their conversations is probably a spirited argument about who gets ride it first as they put the finishing touches on the motorcycle. I wish I could stay here for a few years, but the machine uses a lot power. Plus, the wife wants me to mow the lawn.

I wonder if those guys in the shed, had any idea they were creating  “Mechanical Poetry.” Their products have carved out a wide grove in the motorcycle landscape. A Grand Canyon size of grove! Sure they have had a few bumps along the way. Like the AMF years and the Great Depression! I don’t know which was worse for the brand.

But their brand has rich history with represents over 110 years of manufacturing a product. Some of the other manufactures have faded away through time, gone forever. But Harley Davidson keeps chugging along. With over 110 years of momentum, what could stop them?

 

 

Motorcycle Show Baby!

Well, I went to the International Motorcycle Show last weekend, in Rosemont IL. Yep, I sure could use another motorcycle. What the hell! What’s one more motorcycle in the garage really going to affect anything? Somehow after saying that, I just heard my wife inside my brain telling me “You can only ride one at a time.” Well, duh, everyone knows that. I still don’t understand what she’s trying to tell me.

I broke the plane of the atrium right around 8:45 o’clock in the am. Bam, there it was! Looking down from the escalator there was a humongous line of people waiting to get in. And there was another long line of people waiting to buy tickets. This is not what I remember from past motorcycle shows. A lot of times when I got there early in the morning I felt like the Omega Man. Omega Man is a movie that Charlton Heston starred in some 30 odd years ago. He would walk the streets and not see a single soul. You might want to go to Wikipedia to figure out what the hell I’m talking about.

I realize that in the past five years or so, the motorcycle industry has taken a savage beating. I don’t know if beating is the correct word, probably an all-out ass kicking. Things have been very tough for the motorcycle industry. They had to condense the number of models they have offered in the past. Eliminate models with sub-par sales history. Create all new strategies to capture market share. Also, I think people need to realize that the United States is pretty much topped out or leveled off on the number of motorcycles that will be purchased in the future. The new emerging markets such as India, China and South America will be the customers of the future.

Many motorcycle manufacturers are focusing on these new customers. The manufacturers are adjusting their models to meet the demographics and requirements of their new customers. Honda motorcycle Corporation is a prime example. They are currently manufacturing lower cc sport models that can be sold in other countries. Kawasaki has also jumped on the bandwagon with one of their products. There’s also some chatter that Harley-Davidson may soon be gluing together a product in India. This motorcycle will in no way be a relative of the products that they currently manufacturing in the USA.

Okay, enough about the woes of the motorcycle industry. It’s time to talk about my experience at the show. Well, first off as I step down the stairway into the main show floor, I was greeted by the Progressive Insurance Company’s army of people handing out their promotional bags. They have been there the last five years or possibly longer. I don’t know about you, but every time I got a quote from Progressive, they’re always higher than the current insurance company that I have. I guess if they quit handing out those damn bags their rates might be cheaper. Yeah, I took a few of those bags, got a trunk full of them from the last five years. Need something to carry the groceries home in.

This year, Progressive had a really nice display that took up a considerable amount of space. One part of their show floor area was set up so you could get your picture taken on a motorcycle. I was somewhat surprised because the motorcycle in the picture was a Yamaha. Not that I have anything against Yamaha motorcycles, I’ve got one, I just thought another brand might have been cooler. Yep, I thought about waiting in line to get my picture taken on a motorcycle. But then it dawned on me they were not just taking pictures, but they were mining for data. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need any more people calling me or sending me crap in the mail.

First stop, the Ducati display! I have a thing for Italian motorcycles. But once I got near their floor space, I couldn’t get near a motorcycle. It was like some sort of choreographed dance where they would hop off one motorcycle on to the next. The people jumping from one motorcycle to the next almost looked like they were in some sort of trance. I tried to determine where the entry point was so they could somehow participate in this dance, but I didn’t see an opening. So I watched from the sidelines. Their area was jammed with people. Last year I had the opportunity to ride the Diavel. I really liked that motorcycle. It is really a genuine anomaly as a new motorcycle product. I’ve got my ride posted on YouTube if you want to check it out.

Explaining the Ducati Diavel experience is hard. So I’m going to leave you with this. This is going to be a hard visualization but I’m going to give it a shot. Imagine a Harley-Davidson Road King classic had sex with a Suzuki GSX R 1000, the offspring would be the Diavel. I told you it was going to be tough to visualize. After making a few laps around the show floor, I returned back to the Ducati area and the dance was still going on, lucky them.

There was a brand new vendor this year! KTM showed up with their very fancy display. In actuality, it looks like a folding shipping container. But it really turned out to be a nice display. It was orange, white and very shiny. I’m no expert in marketing, but I think the color orange really perpetuates a brand. All of the other manufacturers have used this color from time to time, but KTM is in love with orange.

 

While I was walking around I started talking to this lady and she told me the whole reason she came to the show was because of KTM’s display. As we continued to talk, I found out that she rode a motocross motorcycle. “Two-stroke, four-strokes have no balls,” she blurts out. “Okay, cool,” I responded quickly so she didn’t realize she just put my brain at a dead stop. I was still processing the “no balls” part of her statement. Well I don’t know for sure, but I believe it’s the first time a woman has told me something has “no balls.”

My brain finally reengaged and I asked more about her motocross adventures. She talked about her broken arm, broken legs and a broken hip during her not yet finished racing career. She even told me about some techniques that she used to cut the corners as fast as possible. Now I didn’t want to break eye contact during our communication, but I started to scan her physically. I’m not completely sure since she was in “really good shape,” but I don’t think she was too far from my age bracket.

I think I was in love. A woman who races motocross motorcycles and is not afraid to break a few bones. Did I mention that she was in “really good shape” and uses the phrase “no balls.” Almost a match made in heaven, whatever in the hell that means. But then it dawned on me that I was married and a horrible vision went through my head. My wife was on some sort of elevated platform giving me the thumbs down as I asked her if I could keep my motorcycles during our divorce procedures. Love can be fleeting sometimes. We exchanged the final niceties and broke away on our separate life paths.

Whether you know this or not, Polaris industries now own both Victory and Indian motorcycle brands. They are going to be a force to be reckoned with. And you know who they are gunning for. Polaris makes some sort of utility vehicles as their major bread and butter. I don’t know much about what Polaris manufacturers outside of their motorcycle offerings, I guess I should have done a little research.

Apparently Polaris has monies to invest in their motorcycle endeavors. The Indian booth was a vaudeville show. A lot of effort and planning went into pushing and presenting their product at the show. During their presentations they were giving away all kinds of stuff which included shirts, hats, key chains and so forth. Coolcycledude got a free education at this booth. He learned (sorry about the third party speak) that if you give stuff away, you will put people in front of your booth.

One of the cool giveaways was that they had apps for the iPhone and Android phones. I have an iPhone, so I downloaded it right away. It’s pretty cool using it to promote their product right to your mobile device, but one part of the app is really cool. You twist your phone like a throttle and it makes the sound of the engines used in their motorcycles. So once you show your motorcycle friends, they’ll have to have it, too. Nice strategy to put their product in your face and the face of other motorcyclists.

So I walked around the show a little bit wiggling my iPhone near my ear so I could hear the engine noises with a smile on my face. Yep, I’m easily entertained. Okay, so we have the Polaris /Indian marketing campaign that was a warp 10. But there are only a few Indian models available. I am kind of surprised they didn’t try to introduce some new product. But I guess they’re trying to bring something back from the dead and I guess that takes a lot of work.

I also moseyed on over to the Victory show space. They also had some sort of entertainment going on, but nowhere near the magnitude of the Indian area. Last year, I also got a chance to ride all of their models and I thought they were very competitive products. Nice fit and finish, paint jobs and quality materials used in their construction. I myself am a Harley-Davidson man. But I do appreciate that Polaris industries is going to put the pressure on Harley-Davidson to raise the bar a little.

Of course I hit the Harley-Davidson area and was immediately immersed in an ocean of people wearing promotional products, including myself. Yep I’ve got a closet full of their outfits, too. I’m sure the other manufacturers look at the brand loyalty that Harley-Davidson has generated over the years and just drool.

But Harley-Davidson is on top of their game and they had a display where a potential customer could actually operate one of their motorcycles. This was the second year in a row that Harley did this. Again I’m no expert in marketing, but I cannot think of a better way to get potential customers on their motorcycles. And as I watched the people get on the motorcycle and a smile immediately flashed across their face imprinting a life experience that will not leave their brain until they start getting Alzheimer’s disease.

You know what they say “monkey see monkey do.” I still cannot understand why the other manufacturers do not have the same set up at the show. It just boggles my mind. Maybe they’re concerned about insurance or potential liabilities. Or possibly there other constraints at the facility that limit the amount of displays like the one Harley-Davidson has. I don’t know, but I definitely would be paying some people off so I could be doing the same thing to get customers.

Right around 11 o’clock the place got really jammed. I thought I was waiting in line to go to the washroom at Wrigley Field during the seventh inning stretch. I mean I’ve never seen so many people at this motorcycle show before. I’ve probably got around 25 years under my belt attending this show. I really hope this is a sign of the future for the motorcycle industry to prosper in the up and coming years. I don’t know what the official attendance was, but I’m going to guess that it was up from the last year.

Okay, this thing is getting too damn long, so it’s time to end it. You know I once had a rhetoric teacher tell me that I write too much. How in the hell are you supposed to interpret what that means? I guess I better get back on track. The usual suspects were all at the show such as Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Zero and BMW. Also, a first for me, I met up with one of my Twitter motorcycle people and that was very cool. I sometimes wonder who’s on the other end of their Twitter handles in my Twitter stream.

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Another trip around the sun.

I rode my Honda VTX 1800 for the last time today for this season. Put the fuel stabilizer in the tank and a fill-up with petrol.  You’re probably thinking to yourself “what the hell is petrol?” It’s what the chaps across the pond call fuel. I’m trying to expand my readership in the UK. Back on track! Off I went for a nice three-hour ride to work the fuel stabilizer through the system. Yep, she’s done for the season. That’s right “She.” She doesn’t have a name yet. I’m still thinking about that. Goodbye my fake Harley until next summer. I sometimes refer to Honda VTX 1800 as my fake Harley. The final wash, the removal of the battery, roll her in the corner and putting on the cover is all that’s left to do.

The snow, ice and cold weather are approaching fast and will soon over take the landscape here in the state of ILL (Illinois). No place for a motorcycle or for me for that matter. The snow is painful and a telling reminder that another year has gone by for me and the motorcycle. Another trip around the sun almost completed for both of us. Another segment of my timeline in this universe is gone. Everything has beginning and end time line in case you don’t understand what I’m talking about. If you still don’t get the idea, email me and I will send you picture.

I put about 4,000 miles on the digital odometer this season. Digital odometer! Man things have changed since my first motorcycle. This gives me a total of around 12,000 miles so far on that fancy digital odometer. Not a lot of miles for a six-year old motorcycle, but the miles were spent doing something that I like to do. Like is probably the wrong word. It just doesn’t define how I feel about ride a motorcycle. I’m worried a little bit that the word addiction might be a better choice. High on motorcycles. Is that possible?

This year was different from the last five years. I worked two full-time jobs during that time and I was numb or at some level of zombie most of the time. Okay, quick break from the main idea here. I used the word “zombie” to catch the younger crowd. They seem to be spending a lot time watching zombie programs. I don’t get this zombie craze, but I’m trying to create a connection with people in all age groups. Sorry for the delay, back on track, again. I finally retired from one of them. That was the plan! I just have a regular job where I go in and come home without any worries of what goes on when I leave. Working two jobs has interfered with my ability to absorb and interact with the life experiences around me. Did I mention the zombie bit?

Riding the VTX 1800 and the other motorcycles that I own was almost like a brand new experience for me this summer. Almost like I just picked them up from the dealer and was on the very first ride home. A sort of a rebirth for me.  I’ve got to stop here for a second, hang on, trying to picture in my mind this whole rebirth thing. Hmm, not a pretty picture. Okay, let’ try this. A revitalization of my passion for riding motorcycles.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read my blog. One of two things is going to happen now. You’ll unfollow me as fast as you can or maybe you’ll start your very own blog. A word of caution if you unfollow me I will find you! Oh, I’m off my meds and the voices in my head are getting louder.  Just want to make that clear before you doing anything rash. Please check out my YouTube channel coolcycledude Also you can follow me on twitter @coolcycledude

That Vmax is going to get me into trouble one day

I was riding north on a certain road in the state of ILL on my Vmax when some meatball on Harley Davidson blows by me in my lane. We meet up at the next light, he looks over at me and with cigar hanging out of his mouth and says “Japanese piece of shit.”  I thought to myself “Okay MOFO, game on, bitch.”

I turned my head toward him to get a better look at my new best buddy. I could see without doubt he was a product of damaged DNA. Probably a neutrino escaping from the sun collided with the DNA sequence used to make brain cells. Leaving him a few billon short. Looked in my mirrors to see his two chimp friends behind us on their HD’s. This is going to be fun I thought.

He had just about every HD promotional product on his body. He had the boots, shirt, vest, gloves and his scarf helmet. Included in his ensemble was a couple HD tattoos on his arm. I don’t know about you but if I wore all that stuff I would want to be paid for it. I know people buy this stuff to feel a sense of belonging. To me buying all this crap just helps the Chinese economy.

The light changes to green and I crack the throttle wide open. Two things are now in my sight, the tachometer needle flying across tachometer and the stupid look disappearing from his face in my mirror. After that it was just shift light flashes and gear changes. I slowed down so we could meet at the next light.

When he got to light, I looked over at him and told him “nice motorcycle.”  No response for him, kind of hurt my feelings. I tried to communicate with him again “nice paint job” I told him. He didn’t even look at me. His cigar was now missing from his mouth.He just didn’t look the same without it either. I hope he didn’t swallow it. Gave him one more glance to see if the communication path was open. No, not much to say. He was watching the traffic light like his life depended on it.

The light turned green, off he went laying rubber on the pavement. I started counting, one thousand, two thousand and three thousand. I think his HD buddies were confused with my delay. I turned the throttle and held on.  I think my Vmax realized it was behind and got angry. Like some thoroughbred race horses do when they are behind. I didn’t look at the tachometer this time just the shift light. I passed him like he was standing still.

The rush of all of that speed made me forgo the thought of damage to myself or anyone else. I’m pretty sure I would have continued to increase my velocity if it wasn’t for the speedometer. 137 mph, “oh shit, OH SHIT.” 137 mph in 45 mph speed zone! My non-damaged, but slow, brain quickly did the math. 137 divided 45 equals good-bye drivers license for a long long time. Which means the wife would be driving me around for the next 10 years. I know she would be looking forward to that.

Thank you very much for reading my blog post. Please checkout my You Tube channel coolcycledude and follow me on twitter @coolcycledude. Enjoy your life and be safe.

Running with the pack

Got a chance to take a nice long ride on my Honda VTX 1800 last weekend.  Spent about 7.5 hours traveling across the state of Illinois. Or the state of ILL as I like to call it. Stopped a few times to fill up the fuel tank and leave some fluids.  Didn’t stop to eat anything, kept riding. I rode with some members from the Jersey Pine Cruisers.  They’re located in Des Plaines Illinois. A lot of Goldwing riders, but anyone with a motorcycle is allowed to join in on the rides. Certainly they are a cast of characters, no doubt about that.

My VTX is about 6 years old now, almost one dog year.  Honda stopped making the 1800cc version of the VTX in  2008. Although, they’re still making the 1300 cc version of the VTX. This motorcycle was Honda’s first salvo at trying to increase their market share in the cruiser market. This is a very completive sector of the overall motorcycles market. In reality this was a pretty lofty goal to try to gain market share in this sector.

Honda was aiming to take away from Harley Davidson. Like I said, a pretty lofty goal to say the least. Harley Davidson really has lock on this market. They should. They have created a culture that has crossed race, gender, age and just about every other barrier known to the human race.  Maybe, Harley Davidson should be given a grant from the Federal Government to solve world peace. Just an idea, couldn’t hurt.

Back on track, my ride on my VTX 1800. This motorcycle seems to fit me like glove. Not like the OJ glove either. It’s like the motorcycle and I are like Lego blocks. I just snap in and go. Lego blocks are those things you played with as a kid and step on as an adult. Looking down at your foot right now and thinking “Shit, I haven’t stepped on one of those damn things in a long time.”

There was a time when my VTX 1800 was more of a torture device then a motorcycle. Couldn’t ride it to long before I had a lot pain, everywhere. I rode it for about 2 years before I decided to change the seat. I just had to get rid of the stock seat. Replaced it with a Mustang seat.  The funny part about this is how quickly the new seat changed my riding experience. They first thing that went through my mind was, “Why in the hell did wait so long to do this?” Old dog, new tricks would be the correct answer.

It was perfect day to ride a motorcycle. Not hot or windy, just a beautiful day. One day that I will remember for a very long time. Pushing my motorcycle through the turns. Cracking the throttle full open to hear the engine roar. Watching the gas tank shake as the RPMs increase. Seeing the digital speedometer display 90 MPH and thinking to myself “Man, this is just too fun!”

Only downside was I couldn’t stop to take any pictures or videos. Had the digital camera and the Flip video camera with me. These guys don’t like to stop for anything but fuel. Saw a lot of things that I would have liked to take pictures or video of. Oh well, one day I will make the trip by myself. But still I’ve got the mental pictures and videos in my brain. Plenty of space in there. Just worried about the refresh rate.

Thank you very much for reading my blog post. Please checkout my You Tube channel coolcycledude and follow me on twitter @coolcycledude. Enjoy your life and be safe.

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.

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!