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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.”

2014 Harley Davidson CVO Road King.

I need to get this out of the way right now! That tinted or smoked windshield, or whatever the hell it is, has got to go. It really makes the motorcycle look like “crap.” WTF! It invokes anger in me, so much so, I want rip it off with my bare hands. Yep, I have issues. But, doesn’t everyone? Otherwise I’m all good with this motorcycle.

One other thing I’m going to throw out there before you invest too much time reading this: I love Harley Davidson motorcycles. So this isn’t for you if you’re a hater who doesn’t understand the relevance of a Harley Davidson motorcycles. You know who you are! You might want to go to You Tube and watch kitten videos instead of reading this.

That’s right, “love.” I don’t care that they’re not perfect. Also, I know there’s a possibility that my beloved Harley Davidson motorcycle will leave me stranded somewhere. Hopefully, my Harley Davidson won’t strand me during a zombie apocalypse. That would suck big time and that would really piss me off!

Every relationship has its ups and downs, including motorcycle relationships. If I would have wanted a motorcycle that doesn’t break down and would last forever, I would have bought another Honda. I don’t want a perfect relationship. I want a relationship that I can grow from.

Let’s get over this hurdle first. $28,000 for hopped-up Road King? Yep, it seems like a lot of money. But, you’ve got to dig a little deeper to understand the value. This motorcycle comes with a Screaming Eagle twin cam 110 cubic inch engine. You know what they say about engines, “there’s no replacement for displacement.”

This engine produces more horse power and torque than the twin cam 103 engine. So you’ll have that going for you as cruise down the boulevard. Get a few Harley Davidson or S&S catalogs and start collecting the data to convert your 103 cubic inch into a 110 cubic inch engine. Once you do that math, you’ll gladly put your money down on CVO Road King.

The paint jobs on the 2014 Harley Davidson CVO Road King required extra attention to detail to get it right. I’m going to imagine the paint job was done independently of their other models. I’m not big fan green paint jobs on anything except farm tractors. I remember walking up to the motorcycle and thinking to myself, “Green! WTH.”

All the colors on this planet and they’ve got to use green paint? Really green damn paint! But after a while, the green paint job begins to grow on you. You have two other color choices if you’re not happy with Deep Sherwood Pearl and Galactic Black. Yep, you didn’t think Harley Davidson was going to call paint job regular green did you?

This motorcycle comes with a lot of nice amenities that aren’t incorporated in the regular Harley Davidson Road King. The toe-heal-shifter and the linkage are not standard Harley Davidson issue. The upgraded version looks way cooler. The seat is leather and very comfortable for those long rides. This motorcycle comes with an upgraded exhaust system. The V-twin rumble leaving the exhaust pipe is pretty much standard Harley Davidson issue.

The fancy grips and levers also add to the coolness of the motorcycle. You’ve got LED lights all the way around. I not happy that the passing lights are missing. Not groovy! The 2014 Harley Davidson CVO Road King comes with an upgraded speedometer. The speedometer is programmable for different back ground illumination color options. I sure hope Deep Sherwood Pearl is one of the choices.

The front and rear rims are all chromed up. They really look nice in the whole framework of the motorcycle’s design. This motorcycle comes with Harley Davidson’s Reflex™ Anti-lock Braking System. Also, the brakes are linked. I’m a big fan of linked brakes. I know some people have a problem with the concept. I believe Harley-Davidson’s linked brake system disables when the motorcycle is under a certain speed. The brakes provided plenty of stopping power with no fade.

The clutch is hydraulically assisted with some type of slipper mechanism. A slipper clutch is probably a good idea on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to reduce driveline lash during downshifting. The clutch lever had a really light pull and a good feel to it. The 6-speed gearbox I believe is standard Harley-Davidson issue. The gearbox worked like a charm during my demo ride and finding neutral was a breeze.

The brake and clutch lines are braided stainless. The handlebars are black and not chromed. Also, the front and rear crash bars are black. The rear crash bars are smaller and at the bottom of the saddle bags. It doesn’t look like it provides the same protection as the standard crash bars. The majority handlebar wiring runs through the bars providing a clean look.

This motorcycle is also equipped with electronic cruise control system. It appears to be the same system as the regular Road King. Keyless ignition is standard and so is a factory security system. The saddle bag lids open with touch of one hand. The saddle bag locks are now incorporated in the latches.

During my demo ride the motorcycle felt stable through some pretty demanding curves. I’m going to attribute this to the upgraded touring frame which includes larger front forks. The bearings in the steering head have also been upgraded. The handlebars seem to be lower and wider when compared to the regular Road King. I think the lower and wider handlebars provide the rider with more control when cornering the motorcycle.

There was noticeable difference when I turned the throttle during the demo ride. There’s monstrous low end torque being generated from the twist of the wrist. In theory, the 2014 Harley Davidson CVO Road King produces 118 ft. lbs. of torque at 3750 rpm. There also seems to be a lot less vibration emitting from the 110 engine as compared to the 103 engine. It was a pretty cool day during the demo ride, so I can’t comment on engine heat. But, I’m going with bigger engine more heat produced. That’s just a fact of life with air-cooled engines.

There’s a very big chromed up air cleaner on the right side of the engine. In Harley Davidson’s brochure it’s called the “Heavy Breather.” Yep, that pretty much says it all. The air cleaner is probably instrumental in getting enough air in to the combustion chambers. There’s plenty “Screaming Eagle” badging all over the engine.

Would I buy a 2014 Harley Davidson CVO Road King? Probably not. I’m not one of those guys who customizes his motorcycle. I may buy a few odds and ends, such as bag guards, rear rack or backrest. I’m just not a big fan of billet pieces on a motorcycle. I know all about making it your own, but I’m pretty happy with the way it comes from Harley Davidson. Although, that Screaming Eagle twin cam 110 cubic inch engine is pretty damn sweet.

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.

2015 KTM 390 Duke

I’m going to start right here. This motorcycle weighs about 307 pounds without the fluids. The fluids would include oil, fuel and coolant. So let’s add another 20 pounds to be on the safe side. So the approximate weight of this motorcycle ready to ride is 327 pounds. That’s about 100 or so odd pounds heavier than a competitive motocross motorcycle. Eat enough Wheaties you could probably carry this motorcycle around by strapping it on your back.

The liquid cooled single cylinder engine generates about 44 HP. That seems like a lot of power for something that has only 375 cc. My Honda lawnmower has 159 cc and produces 6 HP on a good day. The four valves are controlled by two overhead cams. Yep, this little engine has four valves per cylinder. It’s all about moving gases through the combustion chamber with the least resistance. The engine is equipped with two oil pumps to keep all the moving metal parts nice and slippery. The engine weighs in at 80 pounds, let me guess, without fluids?

I’m a big fan of KTM’s engine design. First off, the outward appearance of the engines looks way mechanical, dude. Like every square inch has something to do with producing more HP. No fancy curves or any intrusion of arties stuff to increase the visual appeal of the engine. This baby is all business! On paper KTM’s engines seems to have a higher power to weight ratio than other manufacturers.

A state of the art injection electronics system keeps the fuel following into the combustion chamber without a hitch. Throttle response is spot on without delays or mishaps. The engine revs up quickly so you better be prepared to use the gearbox. Failure to use the gearbox correctly will introduce you to the rev limiter indicator on the display on a regular basis.

The engine is coupled with a 6-speed gearbox. The clutch is in an oil bath and has multi–plates. No slipper clutch on this baby. The clutch is not hydraulic assisted. But it had a very light pull on the lever. The transmission worked like a charm. The only problem I had was the length of shift lever. Way too short for my size 11 boots. Missed a few shifts because of my boots.

The frame is composed of tubular steel. The frame design looks pretty ridgid with some beautiful welds. The swing-arm is composed of lightweight alloys and is manufactured from some type of die-casting process. If you look closely at the swing-arm, it does look pretty cool with the bracing design. The frame and the rims are painted KTM orange, no big surprise there.

The front forks are inverted with a hefty 43 mm thickness. The suspension duties in the rear are handled by a mono-shock right smack dab in the middle of the swing-arm and the frame. According to KTM, the suspension travel in the front and rear is 6 inches. That seems like a lot of travel to me. It might be a misprint from KTM’s website.

This motorcycle has a pretty big front brake rotor. 300 mm big! The front calliper has four pistons and the rear has one. With this braking configuration, I see a lot of stoppies in the future for this motorcycle. Way cool, ABS is standard! I believe KTM is staying ahead of the curve by putting ABS on this motorcycle. The EU is going to force motorcycle manufacturers to have ABS braking systems future. The EU is going to be a big market for this motorcycle anyway.

The 17 inch rims are a light weight casted alloy material. The rims are equipped road griping Metezeler tires. There’s 110 mm in the front and 150 mm in the rear. This combination should keep this motorcycle well planted on the road regardless of the driving conditions.

The seat is about 31.5 inches off the ground which should be a good fit for a lot of motorcyclists. The seat is pretty damn comfortable for this type of motorcycle. Usually they give you plank with ¼ inch of foam and some cheap vinyl covering. The seat was actually very comfy, not La-Z-Boy comfy, but comfy none the least.

I wasn’t a big fan of the speedometer in the beginning. It looked cheap and out of place. But during the demo ride, I learned to embrace it. It was easy to read in any of the sunlight conditions during that day. I wished the tach portion was a little bit bigger on display.

What was it like to ride the KTM 390 Duke? First off, the motorcycle feels small, almost tiny. I can’t see this motorcycle being a good fit for some over 6 feet in height. The second thing that comes to mind is “fun.” Even though this is not the motorcycle for me, it did hit the “damn cool” level in the motorcycle section of my brain.

During my demo ride, the frame felt rock-solid as I pushed it through the turns. The suspension worked like a charm handling my mass during the ride. I did on one occasion squeeze the front brake lever too much causing the front end to dive. After that, I adjusted how I used the front brake. Every motorcycle has a learning curve. The engine provided plenty of get-up-and–go.

Overall, the motorcycle is a very attractive package. In my mind, this motorcycle is about three notches above entry level. The power-to-weight ratio is pretty high for an entry level motorcycle. Using KTM’s tag line, this motorcycle is “ready to race.”

There’s also a restricted version of this motorcycle to comply with the UK’s A2 driver’s license category. In the UK, new riders have HP restrictions on their motorcycles. In the good old USA, a new rider can go directly to a 200 HP machine. Yeah baby!

Also, I’d like to thank KTM and Motorcycle Center for hosting this demo ride. Motorcycle Center is located Villa Park IL and they are KTM dealership.

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.

Victory’s 2014 Cross Roads Classic

Victory’s 2014 Cross Roads Classic is solid bagger in a crowded market segment. All of the other motorcycle manufacturers have one or multiple entries in this arena. I get the whole bagger business because every motorcycle that I own has bags on it. I guess I just can’t leave home without taking a lot of stuff with me. This might be related to age, because back in the day, I never brought anything with me when I rode a motorcycle.

This motorcycle is equipped with the Freedom 106 V-twin engine. The displacement is a little north of 1700 cc. This is Victory’s bread and butter prime mover for all of their models. The engine relies on air and oil cooling to keep engine heat at bay. The engine uses a wet sump configuration to store the oil. There’s an oil cooler mounted in lower front of the engine. It’s mounted right between the two frame down tubes.

Four valves are used to move the air, fuel and exhaust for combustion in each cylinder. Most of the vibration is absorbed through the rotating counter balance system inside the engine. The electronic fuel injection worked without a hiccup. Very linear engine control though changes to handgrip position. No surprises or dead spots during my demo ride.

The six speed overdrive constant mesh gearbox worked like champ. No whining, clunking or other weird sounds emanating from the gearbox. The primary drive is a gear. No chains or belts on this baby. The rear wheel is driven by a belt. A belt drive system has become standard issue on this type motorcycle throughout the different manufacturers.

 

I didn’t make it to the sixth or the overdrive gear during the demo ride. I’m pretty sure everything still would have been groovy if I shifted the transmission into 6th gear. During the demo, I didn’t have to hunt for neutral. That’s one of things that really pisses me off! No toe-heal-shifter! This type of motorcycle should come standard with a toe-heal-shifter.

The front suspension is an inverted cartridge telescopic fork with 5.1 inches of travel. The rear suspension is a single mono-tube gas shock with 4.7 inches of travel. The front suspension in not adjustable, what you see is what you get. I’m pretty sure the rear suspension has a pre-load adjustment. Either way the suspension did a good job soaking up the bumps in the road.

There are two disk brakes on the front wheel and one disk brake on the rear wheel. The ABS is optional on this model. The model that I rode was enhanced with ABS. No way to turn it off either in case you’re one of the people who doesn’t need or like ABS controlled brakes. Me, I’m a big fan of ABS used to decelerate a motorcycle I’m driving. I felt a little pulsing on the foot brake during hard braking. Otherwise, the brakes did their job during the whole demo ride.

The brake rotors are 300mm all the way around. There are 4-piston calipers in the front. The rear brake has a 2-piston caliper. The overall length of the motorcycle is 104 inches. This is a long motorcycle! A 2015 Harley Davidson Road King has an overall length of about 97 inches. The Victory Cross Road Classic is a good seven inches longer than Harley Davidson’s Road King.

This motorcycle is equipped a 5.8 gallon fuel tank. That should get well over 200 miles down the road. The dry weight of this motorcycle is around 780 pounds. So I’m going guess the “wet” weight is around 810 pounds. Why do manufactures provide you with the dry weight? Do they think you’re going to ship it from place to place instead of riding it? Duh!!

The seat height is about 26 inches from the ground. So it falls right in line with similar models from different manufacturers. When you change the oil, you’ll need five quarts instead of four. The color scheme of the motorcycle I rode was a Two-Tone Bronze Mist & Khaki. I’m not completely sure, but I think that’s your only choice. It grows on you over time. Sort of, I guess.

There are four things that I don’t like about this motorcycle. The speedometer is one of them. Don’t get me wrong, the speedometer functions like a charm, providing you with speed, gear position, engine RPM and all of the usual idiot lights. It’s just doesn’t “POP.” It looks like just some add-on device to the design of the motorcycle.

I’d like give you an example of speedometer that “POPS”: The Harley-Davidson V-Rod has such a device. The V-Rod’s speedometer looks like piece of art. The speedometer is actually incorporated in to the design of the motorcycle. It enhances the look of the motorcycle. Not just something that has been added at the last moment during the design phase.

I’m going to throw this out there. It seems to me Victory motorcycles are designed for tall people. Let me rephrase this, people with long arms. The seat height falls in line with that of other cruiser manufacturers. So inseam-challenged people should be okay. It’s just turning the handlebars from one stop position to the other requires long arms. I’m talking about blocking a jump shot long.

What’s up with the cruise control buttons? You’re going to need a really long thumb to work them without removing you hand from the handgrip. Also, they’re a little bit on the “cheesy” side. While I’m bitching, I think white wall tires would have been a nice addition to the overall look of the motorcycles.

What did I like about this motorcycle? I’m going to start with the floorboards. There’s plenty of room to move your feet around. Ride a motorcycle for few hours and you’ll understand how cool that is. The engine, it’s bullet-proof. I’m pretty sure in produces less vibration than its competition. Just change the oil and maybe it could go on forever. The seat was very comfortable during my 40-minute demo ride. As I recall, it was the stock seat. Sometime on demo rides they install upgraded seats on the motorcycles.

Even though this motorcycle is on “long” side, pushing into the turns builds confidence. Don’t try dropping your knee into the turns! The floorboards will quickly remind you of what type of motorcycle you’re on. The transmission is a true asset on this motorcycle. No battling for neutral or shifting into “ghost” gears. Throttle response is on the money. There were no delays or abrupt operation during the demo ride.

The big question is would I buy one? The answer is “Hell Yeah!”

Under the category of “this blows big time”: Victory has decided to remove this motorcycle from their 2015 line up. I’m hoping this is a temporary discussion on their part. They have knocked off five models total in 2015. It must be a cold cruel world in the motorcycle business to have to cut five models of their lineup.

My Moto Guzzi is Well!

I picked up my Moto Guzzi from the dealer last Saturday night and rode it for a couple hours. My two hour ride was to make sure everything was groovy. There was no charge for the repairs because my Moto Guzzi was still under warranty. The warranty period ends in June 2015. So I guess I just made it under the wire. I was very glad to see my mechanical friend again after a painful 6.5 week separation.

When I got home I popped open the garage door and rode my motorcycle into its assigned parking spot on a rubber mat. Put the kickstand down and turn the ignition off. Walked over to where a flashlight is a plugged into an electrical outlet to keep it charged. Grabbed the flashlight and walked over to the Moto Guzzi and inspected it for any type of oil leak. After my careful inspection I didn’t see any type of leak and I noticed that the dealer did a really good job of cleaning up the oil mess on my motorcycle.

I rode it for about eight hours the next day Sunday and again inspected the motorcycle for leaks when I brought it into the garage again. Everything was groovy, no leaks. I got pelted with a little bit of rain during my ride today because I forgot to put my rain suit in one of the saddlebags. For some reason I remembered to pack all my tools and supplies for any possible road mishap. But no rain gear! I think I’m going to develop some type of personal checklist to make sure my motorcycles are ready for anything that the road throws at it. Yep, that’s going to happen!

Okay, how am I going to rate my first issue with my Moto Guzzi motorcycle. To be perfectly honest, I’m not very happy about the 6.5 weeks to make the repair. Second thing in the hopper is that I’m not very happy about the response from the home office. I made several calls to the home office without a single response. This is the first time that I’ve ever called the home office of a motorcycle manufacturer, so I don’t know what kind of response I would’ve gotten from the others and have no data to make a comparison.

One of the reasons that it took 6.5 weeks to make the repair was the availability of parts. This would seem excessive except this is relatively a brand-new model for Moto Guzzi. I did a little research and found out that this is a problem regardless of manufacturer. Also, Moto Guzzi does not produce the same amount of motorcycles as other manufacturers. This fact has a lot to do with the availability of repair parts.

To make matters worse, the Piaggio computer system was experiencing difficulties due to a migration of data into the servers. Piaggio is the parent company of Moto Guzzi. Thinking rationally now, this could possibly be a reason that none of my phone calls were returned from the home office. I’m pretty sure the computer system is tied in with customer service.

Okay, what was wrong with my Moto Guzzi? There are two breather hoses connected to each cylinder head which connects to a Y-tube. The Y-tube connects to another device which returns the oil back to the crankcase. The connection parts on the right cylinder sitting on the bike had failed. Also, the Y-tube developed a crack and was leaking oil that was supposed to be returned to the crankcase. If you have a Moto Guzzi that is similar to mine, you might want to have the dealer inspect the breather system.

I’d like to thank Windy City Triumph in St. Charles Illinois for their communication skills, cleaning my motorcycle and making the repairs in a timely fashion once they had received the parts.

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

2014 Harley Davidson Ultra Limited: How Mine Got It’s Road Mojo

I think the motorcycle gods are out to get me. The kickstand on my 2014 Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited failed. This failure immediately exposed my motorcycle to the effects of gravity. Down my motorcycle went at 9.8 meters per second per second. It came to an abrupt halt when both the front and the rear crash bars hit the ground. Very minor damage to the crash bars, just a little scuffing, no bending.

New bolt for the kickstand.
New bolt for the kickstand.

You might not know this but back in the day, I had the capability to bench press 375 pounds not bad for someone who weighed 210 pounds. So for some strange reason, I thought I still have the capability to bench press 375 pounds and tried lifting the Ultra Limited by myself. I quickly remembered that I’m three clicks away from 60 years old and my 375 pound bench pressing days were 37 years behind me. So apparently I am a near 60 years old weakling.

Good thing a couple of “youts” saw me trying to “clean and jerk” my motorcycle.  The three “youts” walked up to me and asked me if I needed some help. I immediately said, “I sure do.” At this point, my pride had been completely eroded away. Together the four of us lifted my Ultra Limited into its normal operating position. I offered them some money for their help. I told them they could “buy some beers with the money.” They looked at me and smiled. They were probably thinking, “Why does this old dude want to get us drunk?”

So when your kickstand fails on your Harley Davidson where do you go for repairs? Well, I went to the Indian dealer down the road. Yep, the Indian dealer! I remembered the Indian dealership’s location from all of the demo rides I participated in last year. I rolled up to the Indian dealer’s service garage door and asked for some help. The service manager walks up to me and asks “What’s up.” I tell him my sad story about the kickstand. I ‘m thinking I’m going to catch some shit about bringing a downed Harley Davidson motorcycle into an Indian motorcycle dealership.

That doesn’t happen. All of the sudden, three Indian dealership employees are whirling around the bottom of my Ultra Limited with tools. I felt like a stock car driver at a pit stop.  One of my pit crew members shows me a strip bolt head that was used to hold the locking mechanism on my kickstand. Another member of my pit crew tells me “we might have one of the bolts lying around.”  He digs through the “bolt bin,” but no such luck. Again, the motorcycle gods show their displeasure with me.

I also remember that there’s a Harley-Davidson dealer roughly 10 miles south of the Indian dealership and begin my journey. I tried to pay the service staff at the Indian dealership, but they wouldn’t have it. I’m not sure, but if I would’ve had the title for my Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited on me, I might have driven away on an Indian Chieftain. Damn you, Willy G! Damn you!

I called the Harley-Davidson dealer on my smart phone and told them of my plight. They informed me not to use the kickstand and they would put me at the front of the service line. I thought to myself “cool!” I backed my wounded Ultra Limited out of the service bay and off I went. As I was heading to the Harley-Davidson dealer, I still couldn’t believe that the Indian dudes had an opportunity to let me have it and they were really cool about the whole situation.

As I rolled up to the Harley-Davidson dealership service garage door, I beeped the horn as instructed. A couple of guys immediately came out and asked me if I was the guy with the kickstand problem. I informed them that, yes, I’m the one. The other guy slides a small scissors jack and jacks up my motorcycle so they could look to see what the kickstand problem was. The guy looking at the kickstand looks up at me and tells me, “Yep, the bolt holding the kickstand in the locking mechanism had sheared off.”

Then he proceeds to tell me ”this is the first time he’s seen this type of failure in the kickstand.” He pulls the kickstand off takes it to the back where he can remove the broken bolt with an easy out. A few minutes later, he’s got a brand-new bolt and the kickstand in his hand. He reinstalls the whole assembly test it to make sure it works. He lowers a scissors jack and puts weight on the kickstand wiggling my motorcycle around during the test procedure. He then tells me, “It’s all good now.”

The service manager walks up to me and tells me that he’s going to try to get Harley-Davidson to pay for a new front crash bar and rear crash bar. I thought to myself, “I don’t think I want the crash bars changed now that my motorcycle has some ‘Road Mojo’ and I have a story to tell.”

I’d like to thank American Heritage Motorcycles which is the Indian dealer. They are located at 474 Redington Drive in South Elgin IL  60177. They can be reached by phone at 888-627-2340. Also, I’d Iike to thank Fox River Harley Davidson. They are located at 131 S Randall Rd, St Charles, IL 60174. The can be reached by phone at 630-584-8000.

Ride your motorcycle and be safe!

My Moto Guzzi is Sick!

I guess I may have pulled my Moto Guzzi out a little bit early this year. The very first ride of the season! Usually I take the Goldwing out on the first ride of the season.  The Goldwing is the flagship of my motorcycle fleet. It’s tradition to ride that motorcycle out first. But this year I decided to switch it up. Plus the fact the Goldwing battery is still on the charger. I must be slipping, I had all winter to put it on the charger, but I waited until the last minute. I think my brain is starting to fail me.

I pulled the Moto Guzzi out of garage and fired him or her up. I’m still not into determining the sex or naming my motorcycles yet. I wonder what that says about me. No time to psychoanalyze myself now. I rounded up all of my tools and supplies that I carry with me on motorcycle rides. I like to be prepared, must be the Boy Scout in me.

I know what you’re thinking. What does coolcycledude carry on a motorcycle ride? Okay, here goes:

An air compressor

Two flashlights

Tire repair kit, plug type and that squirt in stuff.

Toolkit Harley Davidson

Toolkit Metric

Pressure Gauge

Wire ties

Wire

Tape

LED road flares

Jumper cables

Rain gear

A second pair of gloves

A light long-sleeve shirt

An extra pair of socks

First aid kit

Two towels

Water

Okay, back on track. I packed the Moto Guzzi up and did the finial walk around to make sure everything is “groovy.”  I throw my leg over and drop my butt in the seat.  Lifted the kickstand up, pull in the clutch, tap the gearlever down and off I went.  Yeah, first ride of summer! Good bye winter! Looked at the speedometer and the temperature display is reading 39 degrees. Okay, not quite summer yet.

Yep, not quite summer yet so I turned on the heated grips. Nice! I had about an hour ride to meet the group that I was riding with that day. I arrived at the my destination parked the Moto Guzzi . Took one more walk around the motorcycle.  Walk over to the group and introduced myself. First time riding with this group! You’ve got to get out of your comfort zone and meet new motorcycle people. That’s one of my life rules.

One of the guys from the group had brought pecan rolls for everyone. That was pretty cool. We all started the motorcycle chit-chat for about twenty minutes. Then the destination, route and safety protocol was discussed.  Everyone mounted up and off we went.  About an hour later we arrived at restaurant that had a train car incorporated in it. What in the hell else would you do with an old train car?

After eating lunch we went outside for a photo-shoot. Then we proceeded towards our motorcycles.  I put all my gear on and again walk around my motorcycle.  On the left of my Moto Guzzi there was a small puddle of oil. WTF! There was oil on the engine casing and the saddle bag. Double WTF!! Yep, my Moto Guzzi is sick, damn! I pulled out the smart phone and looked for the nearest Moto Guzzi dealer.

I fired up the Moto Guzzi to see how bad the leak was. It looked like it was seeping out of the cylinder head. The air traveling through the cooling fins must spread oil on the engine casing and the saddle bag. Okay, cool, not the end of world. The nearest dealer was about eight miles away. Now I need to make a decision, do or die time. Will it make it to the dealer before losing its life blood? After several moments of deep thought I came to this conclusion. It better!  So off I went.

Once I hit the dealer which happens to be Harley Davidson dealer that sells Moto Guzzi motorcycles. I just can’t keep my ass out of a Harley Davidson dealerships. I parked my Moto Guzzi near the service garage door. Got off and went to look for the Moto Guzzi doctor. Found the service writer dude and he tells me “The Triumph guy won’t be in until midweek.” “Okaaaay” I’m thinking.  Before I had the chance to say anything else he proceeds to tell me” he also works on Moto Guzzi motorcycles too.”

So my Moto Guzzi motorcycle is at a Harley Davidson dealership wait for “Triumph guy” to fix it. Does anyone else see how the forces of the universe are working against me?

Harley Davidson Livewire

I got a chance to sort of test ride the Harley Davidson’s Livewire electric motorcycle. I attended the Chicago International Motorcycle Show back in February. In the Harley Davidson area they had the Livewire mounted in a contraption that let the rear wheel spin freely, but kept everything else in check. Very similar to what Harley Davidson does with their internal combustion power motorcycles at the show.

I have ridden the Zero electric motorcycle several on occasions. So this isn’t my first rodeo with electric motorcycle. Right of the bat the Livewire looks “cool.” The Livewire looks compact and sleek. It’s on the small side. If you have long legs I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be groovy for you. The seat is also on the small side too. The seat is set back a little so you’re leaning forward to reach the low mounted bars.

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Under the heading of way cool the grips, front brake lever and control buttons are standard Harley Davidson issue. These provide a great feel or transition from Harley Davidson internal combustion models. The speedometer looks like an IPhone on steroids. Probably a great platform for displaying more data for the rider to see as the Livewire progresses through time. It looks like the Livewire has LED lighting front and rear.

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If you never been on an electric motorcycle the first thing you’ll learn is about torque in action. From the very first rotation of electric motor shaft about 95 % of the maximum torque in generated. An internal combustion engine on the other hand needs RPMs to generate torque. That’s why an internal combustion engine on a motorcycle requires transmission.

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Once you have turned the throttle on Harley Davidson Livewire all hell breaks loose. The high pitched whine of the electric motor replaces the one-potato two-potato sound. I was surprised how linear the throttle control felt. The guy run the display told me “go ahead and crank the throttle.” So, I did. The motorcycle leaped like a cheetah launching itself after prey on the African plain. The force caused the front forks to compress and backend lift up.

Now remember the Livewire was mounted in a contraption that let the rear wheel spin freely. So the motorcycle was unable accelerate which would have absorb the energy transmitted to the rear wheel. The suspension and the roller that rear wheel sat on absorbed the energy. Either way the Harley Davidson Livewire seam pretty damn powerful.

I’m hopeful the Livewire demo truck will make it to my part of woods this summer. If it does you know my butt will be waiting in line to ride one.