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Victory for Polaris!

I got a chance to ride Victory’s 8-Ball motorcycle. I was pretty surprised on the overall experience. A matter of fact, I was really surprised. As soon as I hit the start button I knew this motorcycle was for real. I had my doubts that Polaris glued some motorcycle together as fast as they could to try to give Harley-Davidson a run for their money. But it would seem a lot of thought went into building this motorcycle.

I do have one concern and that is the name of the motorcycle. Always thought ”8-Ball” referred to some sort of leisure drug. I myself did not participate in leisure drugs as a wee lad, but I did consume plenty of alcohol to make up the difference. So I would have a better understanding of the term “8-Ball” I fired up Google and found this urban dictionary site. Typed in ”8-Ball” and whammo! I got these two definitions. One eighth of an ounce of cocaine or an Old English 800 malt liquor. Not a single reference to anything to do with motorcycle.

Well I have never attended a school for marketing and I probably would never be hired to market a product. That’s assuming that the company is interested in selling the product. So in reality my opinion means exactly zero. So I’m going to assume that Polaris spent a lot of money determining that ”8-Ball” was a good name for a motorcycle.

Enough talk about marketing a product. I think the major focus or probably were the most R&D was spent was in the engine. This baby has a 50° V twin with four valves per cylinder. Lighter springs, smaller valves, it’s all about moving air through the engine. The brochure says that the engine produces 97 HP at 113 foot-pounds of torque. I could’ve gone on the Internet and did a little research but my wife is continually telling me I have trust issues so I’m going to go with what’s in the brochure.

During my ride I decided to see if this power was actually available. And I can say it definitely was available. So much so that I broke the rear wheel loose on three occasions during my ride. So I decided to quit testing my available power theory before I crashed this motorcycle. Also there was no delay or notification that the power was going to be delivered to the rear wheel. It just happened and you better be ready for it. Not that it was uncontrollable but it definitely was a surprise.

I do have one complaint about the engine and it’s the noise the valve train made. The engine has a single overhead cam that is driven by a chain, no pushrods moving the valves. This may be nitpicking and I’m sure I’m going to catch hell for saying this but I heard a distinct whining from the top of the engine. A matter of fact it reminded me a lot of my 2002 Suzuki 750 GSXR motorcycle. Now this whining wasn’t so deafening that it destroyed the whole experience but it was unexpected for of the twin.

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I own a 2005 Honda VTX 1800 with a very similar valve train system. The only real difference is that the Honda has three valves per cylinder and the Victory has four. The Honda doesn’t produce a whining sound probably because of extra mass of the cylinders because they’re water-cooled. Either way the whining wasn’t the end of the world just seemed a little weird for a V twin.

The victory engine which is called “Freedom 106” is air and oil cooled. I don’t know this for a fact but I’m pretty sure that oil is being sprayed inside of the engine and use as a cooling medium. One thing I’m a little bit leery of is air cooled engines that are wet sump. The oil comes in contact with the majority of the hot surfaces and is always pulling heat away. Getting this hot oil out of the engine seems like a top priority to me. But I’m pretty sure that the engine has been tested over and over again for reliability. Also it holds I believe 5 quarts of oil and it has an oil cooler.

Riding this motorcycle was a lot of fun it was very comfortable all the controls were well positioned and accessible. The seat was about a 25 inches off the ground which is probably good for somebody with short legs. The speedometer had an analog display for speed. Also there was a small rectangle digital display that indicated RPM and gear position. There’s whole bunch of warning indicators on the inner circle of the speedometer. Speedometer looked pretty good on the bike and easy to view while you’re riding the motorcycle.

Plenty of usable power through all six speeds of the transmission. Transmission shifted like a charm neutral was always easy to find. I know sometimes when I get on a new motorcycle I have to play “find neutral”, of course this could also be a lack of foot eye coordination on my part. The motorcycle was very stable at approximately 65 MPH and easy to push through the corners at a relatively high speed. Both the front in the rear brakes responded very well during usage.

Okay, the only complaint I have about this motorcycle is that my hands went numb. Now this hasn’t happened in a long time to me. I could attribute this to a poor circulatory system, but my hands have not fallen asleep on any other motorcycle that I’ve ridden lately. So I’m going with it’s not me. This is usually easily corrected by either changing the position of the handlebars or putting some material in the handlebars to dampen the effects of the vibration.

Well I guess I would call this a “Victory for Polaris.” This baby ain’t too shabby. I’m pretty sure shabby is not a technical term.

 

 

Turn the Throttle and Take Your Chances

Riding a motorcycle is a risky endeavor, that’s a fact, no getting around it. If you ride motorcycle, you’re a risk taker, period, that’s who you are. You’re gambling with your well-being when you choose to to ride a motorcycle. You would be much safer driving around in a car than riding a motorcycle. If you don’t understand that you’re taking risk when you ride your motorcycle you should sell your motorcycle.

But those of us who ride motorcycles are willing to take the risk. We’re willing to trade a risk for an experience. The actual experience could be different from person to person, or the same, I don’t know. I just know what I get from riding a motorcycle. This experience is powerful enough to make me take the same risks over and over again.

Motorcycle manufactures have spent millions of dollars trying to nail down the experience of riding a motorcycle to market their products. Trying to focus on your hot buttons to get you to take risks and purchase their products. One manufacturer has been very succesful creating a culture to get you to buy their products, all of their products. But, their vehicles are just as risky as the others.

So with that said, take the time to manage your risks when riding your motorcycle. Don’t leave anything that you can control to chance. Do everything, and I mean everything, you can to put the odds in your favor. Insurance companies are always managing their risks to make sure they’re positioned correctly in the event there’s problem. Why shouldn’t you be doing the same?

How do you reduce your risk when you ride a motorcycle? Safety equipment, going through a motorcycle riding course, maintaining your motorcycle and thinking ahead comes to mind. One of the unseen expenses of owning a motorcycle is all of the safety equipment. From now on in motorcycle ads they should have the motorcycle and pile of safety equipment right next to it. Maybe spread the safety equipment all over the floor like the motorcycle had its own bedroom.

Take a motorcycle riding course. Sometimes they’re free! State grant monies are sometimes used to promote motorcycle rider safety. In some cases if you complete the course, insurance companies will give you a discount on your premium. Read a couple of books on riding and maintaining your motorcycle, it couldn’t hurt. Watch videos on YouTube, they’re free.

Maintaining your motorcycle is very important to your safety. Change the tries when they’re showing signs of wear. Don’t be the first person to try to put a 100,000 miles on a set. Make sure there’s brake fluid in reservoir. Imagine your surprise when pull the brake lever and nothing happens. Surprise, surprise, surprise! Check the brake lights to make sure they work when you operate the brakes.

Thinking ahead is your best tool to put the odds in your favor. It’s like having five aces, I meant four aces. When riding your motorcycle, continually scan your riding landscape. Run the different scenarios in your mind that could happen in front, along side or behind you. Never assume some sees you, even if you think they’re looking right at you. Stay out of the blind spots of an automobile drivers. You need to understand the mindset of someone doesn’t drive a motorcycle. They’re looking for other cars when they’re driving, not motorcycles. So even though they see you, your not registering to them as a car and their not looking for motorcycles. Again, you need to think ahead.

The most important factor for your well-being when riding a motorcycle is to continue to read my blogs. These blogs will enlighten, entertain and educate you. That’s right, shameless promotion. Be thankful it’s at the end.

Aggressive Vehicles?

I’m currently reading the Proficient Motorcycling book. After four decades of riding a motorcycle, I thought it was about time to read this book. I might learn something, which would be a good thing. It seems like a pretty good book, color pictures, tables and a CD. What more could you want? On Amazon.com 244 people have written comments about the book, which is pretty good. Considering it’s not on Oprah’s booklist that’s really a lot of feedback.

No sense in starting from the beginning, so I jumped right into a certain section and started reading. Everything was going along just fine until I read the buzzword “Aggressive Vehicles.” Okay, maybe I need to go back and reread that section again. Could it have been that I read it wrong, maybe it said aggressive drivers? Maybe our new dog Bailey distracted me while I was reading the section. He runs around the house like he’s high on speed or something. No, I didn’t misread the section, it said “Aggressive Vehicles.”

Okay, go along with program, new term to learn, “Aggressive Vehicles.” As I read the section, I learned that when a larger vehicle hits a smaller vehicle, the small vehicle takes most of the damage. Good thing I read that because I would never figure that out.

There’s even a table with a list of aggressive vehicles on it. This list came from NHTSA that collected the data. So someone didn’t just make up this list. The most aggressive vehicle according to the table is a Dodge B series van. When I see Dodge B series van I’m going to get the hell out of the way.

The section goes on to talk about when a motorcycle hits an automobile, the motorcycle driver flies over the automobile and hits the ground. When a motorcycle driver hits an aggressive vehicle, he or she will do a body slam into the side of that vehicle. I think all of these things any motorcycle rider can understand.

Riding a motorcycle is a risk-taking event. You can take classes on motorcycle safety, read books and wear safety gear. Every time you get on a motorcycle,  you’re taking a risk. That’s a fact. So when someone gives a vehicle a rating of “Aggressive” that’s stupid talk to me.

I would want to know why motorcycles are involved in accidents with these vehicles at a higher percentage than other vehicles. Maybe they’re design flaws in these vehicles that create blind spots for the driver. Who knows?

Why we need to go fast.

The earth rotates on its axis at about 1000 miles per hour. The earth also files around the sun about 67,000 miles per hour. Our solar system moves through the Milky Way galaxy at about 492,126 miles per hour. Do you see pattern here? Do you get the idea? We’re all on the move.

You have been moving since you were conceived, it’s not your fault. It’s in your DNA. The construction or design of your DNA surely was influenced from all of this motion. So I guess it’s only natural that we have created things that make us go faster. You have been told that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, but that’s not going to keep us from trying.

My favorite thing to go fast on is my 2010 Yamaha Vmax. When I turn the throttle enough– the keyword here is enough; notice I didn’t say all the way, just enough– I go into the “Oh shit” mode. Not the “Really fun” mode or this is “Really cool” mode. No, it’s right to the “Oh shit” mode. The “Oh shit” mode is whole different place. What exactly is the “Oh shit” mode? Well, let’s use this analogy.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfs8cxkPZFE]

Let’s suppose you like skydiving. You jump out of the airplane and after certain time period you reach down to pull the rip-cord. But in your haste to jump out of the airplane, you forgot to put on a parachute. Yep, there it is, the “Oh shit” mode.

As I get older, I thought that my need for speed would decrease, but it didn’t for some reason. Maybe “this a bad idea” neuron didn’t fire in my brain yet. It could be that the connection is disconnected during acceleration or it was blocked by “this is fun” neuron.

It seems that going fast in a car is not the same as going fast on a motorcycle. There’s a lot more feedback when you travel fast on a motorcycle. This is what going fast is all about, feedback from acceleration.

So the next time you get pulled over for doing 100 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour speed zone, just tell the officer that it’s in your DNA. Also remind him that you were really going 492,126,100 miles per hour. See how that goes.

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!