Tag Archives: motorcycling

No Moto Guzzi For Me!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Tachometer? What The "Fire Truck?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Electronic Transmissions On Motorcycles… Why?

I don’t know if I want to live in this country anymore. I wonder if Canada would take me? Hopefully, the Canadians aren’t still be pissed off aboot the South Park movie. Although, I don’t officially approve of movies that criticize other countries, I did see the movie twice at the show and own a DVD copy. If I were to destroy a copy of the movie at the border, they might let me in.

We are a bunch of lazy Americans. I don’t really know if lazy is the right word that defines us. Calling us lazy is like saying that the universe is big. We now have three motorcycles in this country with electronic transmissions. That’s right an “ Electronic Transmission. ” I guess an automatic transmission isn’t good enough, it needs to be an electronic transmission. This has to be a sign that the end of the world will happen in 2012. This was mentioned on the back of Mayan calendar, in the lower corner.

That’s right your friends at Honda, not mine, have created another motorcycle with an electronic transmission in their line up. The VFR1200F is brand new and the DN-01 is an older model. Yamaha started the ball rolling about three years ago with the FJR1300AE. Could someone please explain to me why we need motorcycles with electronic transmissions? Why? Why? The only reason I can think of is we’re really really lazy.

What are we going to do with our right foot? No clutch lever to pull in either, instead you have paddles. Paddles! Really, paddles with plus and minus on symbols them. Just like the paddles in some cars. Operating the clutch and going through the gears is the essence of the experience of riding motorcycles which creates that all important inner peace. I think the lyrics from the song “In the Year 2525” were more about motorcycle design then anything else. If you’re under 35, you’ll need to go to Wikipedia for an explanation of the last sentence.

I knew we were in trouble when the manufacturers removed the kick-starters from motorcycles. After that, I knew, without doubt, dark days were head of us. That’s right, “us” the motorcycling community. Oh, I so see power steering coming next, you can bet your last dollar on that one. Here’s list of other future standard equipment coming to motorcycles: power kickstand, power mirrors, power foot pegs, power handlebars and a power seat. Who knows, maybe voice command motorcycles will appear down the road. Oh, I can hear it now. “Turn left, gear change, speed up.”

The first time I saw Honda’s VFR1200F was at the Oshkosh air show a few weeks ago. That’s right, the air show! I think Honda would promote their products at the supermarkets if the could them through the doors. I’m surprised they don’t have pictures of their vehicles on the inside of McDonald’s Happy Meal boxes. Oh, here’s an even better idea, Google Ad-pictures.

Looking at the motorcycle I noticed the clutch lever was missing. Shoddy workmanship? Doubtful. That instant, I felt as though I fell through a rip in space-time fabric and landed in some bizarro world. In this world, electrons have a positive charge and motorcycles have electronic transmissions. Then I realized I couldn’t be in bizarro world because my friend Len was standing near me. Len and bizarro world wouldn’t mix. A really really really big explosion would happen.

If you would like to shift your motorcycles with paddles that have pluses and minuses on them, then go back to your TV and continue to watch CSI Mars. Otherwise, we need to fight this trend with every breath we have. This an epic battle that we, the motorcycling community, will need to fight. We need to fight the man-ufacturers.

Wear a helmet.

1,000 Miles on the Vmax

Well, I have just over 1,000 miles on my Yamaha 2010 Vmax. During the first 600 miles I treated it like a baby staying under 4,000 RPMs on all of my rides. The break-in period for a motorcycle engine is very important for the longevity of that engine. So even though it was tempting to light up the rear tire and see how fast I could leave a stop light, I didn’t. Motorcycles tires are not cheap to replace. Replacing the tires on my Honda VTX 1800 cost me about $550. So watching someone trying to burn up their tires is fascinating to me. I guess they see smoke flying off the tires, I see money.

Been thinking about buy a Yamaha Vmax for about 10 years. But the older generations Vmaxs had several problems that bothered me. First off, no fuel injection, it had carburetors just like on your lawnmower or gas-powered weed whacker. Why is Yamaha manufacturing a performance motorcycle without fuel injection? Brakes, I’m all about ABS brakes. They will save your life in the event you need to brake hard. Some people will tell you that it’s not worth the money to get them. Well, they’re wrong! Checkout motorcycle accident data. It will tell you something different. The frame would flex when you went into a turn giving you that carnival ride experience. You know the experience, the sliding from side to side of a rollercoaster on the track. Didn’t want any of that noise, that’s for sure. This motorcycle was completely redesigned, no parts from the older version, not a one. This was a big commitment from a manufacturer to completely redesign a motorcycle. A lot of motorcycle manufacturers don’t put this kind of effort into one of their products like Yamaha did. So I was very much looking forward to the outcome.

When I first saw the new Yamaha Vmax at the motorcycle show in Chicago in 2009, I thought to my self , “Damn, that thing is big.” Pretty weird because I’ve been riding Goldwings for last 24 years. Sat on the motorcycle at the show and thought, “Man is this thing going fit in our garage? Might have to punch out the back of the garage to get it to fit.” I was about ready to call my wife and have her measure the garage, to make sure it would fit. Somehow this motorcycle distorted spatial relations for me.

Didn’t buy one during its first year of production want to make sure all of the problems are worked out first. Also, I already have a black motorcycle and hoped they would come out with different color. They did come out with a different color, red. Okay red it is, I guess, no other choices anyhow. The last hurdle was the insurance rate. Well a big surprise here, it was cheaper than the insurance on my Goldwing. Okay time to write the check, 20,400 dollars with extended warranty and out the door. Ouch! The first condo I lived in cost me 34,000 dollars. But you can’t ride a condo or tune a fish.

I can’t think of anything negative to say about the motorcycle. The engine gets hot, but I saw that coming. It has a big engine that’s generating a lot of power, so it’s going to get hot. Handling of the motorcycle surpassed all of my expectations. Cornering this motorcycle is a dream. It sticks to line without floating around so you’re not correcting it during a turn. It stops on a dime and it has some big brakes. The engine is very manageable at low RPMs. It requires premium fuel. Saw that coming too. Goes through fuel like water goes through a screen door on a submarine. Didn’t see that coming.

Okay, there is only one problem and it’s me. That’s right it’s me. My behavior changes when I’m riding my Vmax. Going fast seems to be the overriding theme. Fear of damaging my body fades away with every gear change. I think it was best said by Hunter S. Thompson “Faster, Faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death.”

Wear your helmet!

Throttle Therapy

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

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

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

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

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 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!