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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Guys will be guys, regretably

Went out shopping yesterday for all things Christmas. First stop was Cycle Gear in Manchester. They don't sell motorcycles but they do have every accessory under the sun. How many places stock over 200 helmets, 200 jackets, and enough tools to fill dozens of tool boxes?

Best of all, this is the place where everyone knows your name. When I walked in Jennifer asked why I hadn't been by in a while. When I told her that I had put the bikes away for the year she gave me the "weenie" look. And then told me that Battery Tenders were on sale. Good to be amongst friends.

The place was filled with people like me looking for Christmas presents and deals. The one constant is always the guys who are trying to convince their wives and girl friends to fit into skinny tops as if they were still 16 (or 26, 36, or even 46 in some cases). Hey guys, as they get older they're more interested in what's warm than what's cool.

I've heard it said that when married, or otherwise attached, guys think their women won't change and women think their men will. Both are equally doomed. Luckily my rear end sag is confined to my dirt bikes.

The rest of the day was spent at the mall where there were surprisingly few people. Even the chi-chi shops were devoid of anyone spending money. Either everyone was out on Friday or this is going to be a long dismal season for retailers. Maybe Cycle Gear will be the only bright spot in the cloud.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Vintage Honda Service Manual

While I'm recovering from the usual overdose of large bird and small red berries I'll post this suggestion from Eric in Reno.
Another nice reference....
Eric Lamberts

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Things I'm Thankful For

  • I'm thankful for Battery Tenders. With 30 odd bikes on the premises there is never a time when all the batteries are properly charged.
  • I'm thankful for Sta-Bil which fights the good, but ultimately futile, fight against the crappy gas the greenies foist off on us. (Remember how MTBE was going to save the world until we found out that it was giving us cancer?)
  • I'm thankful that Honda and other manufacturers still support old bikes with parts. Fewer every year but I can still go to my dealer and get parts for 40 year old bikes.
  • I'm thankful that there are sill businesses that put ethics above profit. The two are not mutually exclusive despite the recent events in the world. Burt Ives Honda, Jerry Woods, and B&H Photo come to mind.
  • I'm thankful that roads like US50 still exist and haven't been transmogrified into the pablum of freeways with chain restaurants to serve up the Soylent Green.
  • I'm thankful for the friends that share my joy of riding. I've never been so cold, wet, and tired that there wasn't still a smile on my face. It only gets better when it's shared with a friend.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dates for b3 (b-cubed) are set

The dates for the 1st Annual b3 (b-cubed = Brooklyn⇒Boston⇒Brooklyn) event are finalized. It will be 21-22 Aug 2010.

The start will be at Moto Borgotaro on Saturday  morning and the end will be on Sunday at Works Engineering. Overnight camping will be in the Boston area. The finish will coincide with the Brand-X/Detonation/Whatever Erik calls it this year event.

I'll have a website set up soon with details. T-shirts will be available as soon as somebody (and she knows who she is!) finishes the logo. =;^)

Get your motorcycle ready for this one, it's going to be fun!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Odds and ends

Cold and crummy this morning. Looking out the window I wonder why they don't call them Squirrel Feeders rather than Bird Feeders. Isn't there a truth in advertising law?

Ever wanted a quick way to change the fan belt on your old air cooled VW? Check this out

I've never drunk the Ducati kool-aid. They may, or may not, be the best thing since sliced bread but I've always been put off by the overblown air of superiority of the Ducatistas (rhymes with Starbucks barista). That and the stratospheric prices. Give me a Honda RC-51 any day (and a cup of Dunkin's finest, thank you very much).

However, if you have always been dying for one now may be the time to jump. Even Ducati is suffering in this economy and is having a sales promotion. Nothing down, nothing to pay, and no interest until spring. Hmm, sounds like they want to use your garage for their warehouse for bikes they can't move. However, if it floats your boat, here it is.

What next? Half-price Sportsters?

Monday, November 23, 2009

More Land Speed Record News

Yes, we are very serious about this!

This is the engine and parts I've ordered off eBay to get us going. It's from a Honda CR80 MX bike and will let us set frame sizes and mounting plates to get the show on the road.

If anyone knows of an Aprilia RS50 rolling chassis please let me know! I'm looking for forks, brakes, and wheels.

You'll notice the countdown timer on this site. I'm sure that what seems so far away now will soon seem like a looming vision of doom. Hey, if it wasn't for deadlines nothing would ever get done.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bettencourt Auction Report

Can you say crazy!? Over 1000 registered bidders and every one of them had at least one friend with them. What a mob scene. And one little hot dog stand with two people working in it. They were joking that they almost didn't come because they weren't sure that there would be enough people to make it worthwhile.

This picture was from 8:30 in the morning, 2 1/2 hours before the bidding started. It was the last time I was actually able to see the bikes for all the people standing in the way. I ran into a lot of people I knew there, some I haven't seen in a long time. Several others were there that I never got to see in the whirl and swirl of the crowds.

There were more than 250 bikes on auction, some great, some trash, but mostly good rideable bikes. Jerry Wood did his best to keep things moving along but it was still slow going and he was only 2/3rds through the lis when I bailed and went home. I came close to buying a couple of bikes but was outbid in each case. Some of the bikes were bargains but most were going for at or more than market value. Good deal for Dave Bettencourt. Well, more money left over for the LSR bike!

Not that I came home empty handed. George brought down this tasty Yetman 305 that I had bought from him last summer. Pretty!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Combat Touring Boots On Sale

Aerostich is selling their highly regarded Combat Touring Boots and Combat Lite Boots for ~20% off this week. The offer ends 28 Nov. Everyone I know who owns them, Loves them. I will be ordering a pair as soon as I figure out what size I wear.

Look here for the offer

I just got back from the Bettencourt auction. I'll report on it tomorrow. All I can say for now is WOW!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Everything you ever wanted to know about carburetors

I came across a Honda manual on carburetors from a factory school I took a few (dozen) years ago. I think the information has held up pretty well over time and scanned it in so others could read it.The manual covers all the basics for all types of carbs used in motorcycles. It has an especially good explanation of constant velocity carbs with floating pistons.

You can find it here (Caution: it is a big file and is slow to load. Patience is a virtue.)

One of the biggest problems with carbs, especially here in New England where they sit all winter, is getting gummed up with gas that has sat for too long. The newer "green" gasoline formulations are only making this worse. In my opinion, the best carb cleaner is made by Yamaha and is cleverly labeled "Carburetor Cleaner". Your local dealer has probably never even heard of it much less stocked it but it's in his parts accessories book under part number ACC-CARBC-LE-QT. Price the last time I bought it was $7.95 / qt. You mix it 1:3 with gas and pour it into the fuel line after draining the float bowls and let it sit for 1 hour (or overnight if it's real ugly). Works like magic and doesn't hurt the rubber parts!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One auction down, one to go

Went to the RER auction today and the vultures were circling! There were about 4 times as many people there as I expected. The place was a mob scene and the bidding was fast and furious. Not many bargains that I saw. The Dream 50's that I went to bid on sold for a lot more than I was willing to pay. $3400 for one that had been in the showroom. $4000 for one that was still in the crate unassembled. A true collector's item.

I saw a lot of people I knew there including Guzzi Doug who was up from Alabama. He just got back from a trip across Europe and Asia on a Harley. And not any ElectraGlide either, but a chopperish HOG with a 21" front tire and a sissy bar. This is not the first such trip for him on the bike. He has a great time and makes friends wherever he goes. We should all be so adventurous.

Three days to go to the Bettencourt auction. It should be a total zoo! See you there.

Monday, November 16, 2009

When is too much enough?

Cleaning out my closet is probably incorrect since very little ever gets thrown out. Maybe re-stacking it is a better way to put it.

Some of it is for specialized riding like dirt helmets for dirt riding. Some of it is for loaning when a friend drops by. And the extra dirt bike helmet is a souvenir of a couple of great trips that have earned it permanent space.

In my defense, I just took several old leather jackets to Goodwill. I had kept them out of respect for the service they had performed but when I was looking at them with fond memories I realized that it was time to make new memories. It's too easy for those memories to just become ballast after a while.

This is the current inventory:
6 helmets - 1 dual-sport, 2 dirt, 2 full face, 1 open face, 0 Nolan style flip-up.1 track suit that is a Miguel Duhamel race replica. With spare knee pucks in case I ever get that far over.
8 jackets - 3 leather, 2 textile, 1 ancient Belstaff that still gets worn a lot.
2 pants - 1 textile, 1 Belstaff to match the jacket
11 gloves - 4 leather, 7 textile of varying degrees of warmth and waterproofness.
4 boots - 1 dirt, 1 street, 1 dual-sport, 1 cowboy (major shifter mark on left toe)
3 tank bags - 2 magnetic, 1 strap for the Transalp
Numberous scarves, neck warmers, and the like.

And then there is the dirt bike equipment bag downstairs with jerseys, pants, armor, and the like.

So what's in your closet?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Speaking of speed

Following up yesterday's LSR announcement here's enough fast bikes to fill a dreary New England Sunday afternoon. Although there are plenty of race bikes of every size check out the 50 and 80cc bikes. That's where we will be starting. There are some tasty Maico road racers just like the one in a friend's studio. You know who you are!


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Next stop Utah

There are few times in a life where everything is clear. This morning was one of them for me.

A friend and I have been talking about building custom racing motorcycles like the Rickman Brothers or David Yetman. The idea of taking his frame skills, my engine abilities, and another friend's fiberglass wizardry and putting them together seemed like a lot of fun even if there was probably not a lot (if any) money to be made.

The tipping point may have been the Bettencourt auction coming up next week. I had planned on taking home the XL600L that was in the pictures. It would have been a perfect match for my XL600V Transalp. However, it was not in the sale catalog and Jerry Wood told me that it was not going to be offered after all.

So I suddenly have a few extra dollars to play with and I'm thinking of all the things I could do. New touring bike? New camera? Another trip to Baja? Leave it in the bank? Then it hit me. I could build the prototype roadracer we had been talking about.

And then, this morning it really hit me. I'm going to build a Bonneville Land Speed Record bike! The fastest I've ever been was an indicated 163mph on the freeway so this seems like a logical step.

Hey, Why Not?!

So stay tuned for progress as it progresses. We have until next August to produce the bike and get it to Utah. In the mean time there are the Maxton events to practice and fine tune the equipment. Until then check out these videos.

Friday, November 13, 2009

How to assemble a GSX-R

Most of the stuff on YouTube is total crap. But every once in a while I find something that impresses me. Here is a well done time lapse video of a GSX-R being assembled in a garage.

Not to be outdone here's a vintage Norton video in the same vein.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Blue Ribbon Coalition Needs You!

The Blue Ribbon Coalition doesn't care about helmet laws, doesn't stage races, and doesn't hold charity rides. All they do is fight OHV area closures. And they do it quite effectively.

Now they are holding a membership drive to sign up new members and renew old ones. I think this is in large part to put together a list of people who will write their congress (mis)representatives on issues of concern to off-roaders.

Right now they have a promotion where your membership costs $29 and you get a $25 gift card back from 4WheelParts. Don't have a Jeep? They have a lot of other things you could use it for like oils or polish although I never saw a Jeep in the woods that looked like it ever got the shiny treatment.

However, 4WP has a program where they match donations to give high intensity driving lights to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan so they can better spot IED's and bad guys. I'm sending my gift card right back to them to be used for this!

Info is here, Do it NOW!

To learn more, check out this video:


Light Saber program:


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

BMW follows Honda technology 30 years later

30 years ago Honda introduced the CBX 6 cylinder motorcycle. BMW just issued a press release stating that they intend to do the same. It caught my eye that the word "supremacy" was used repeatedly. Is that some sort of German thing? Will they be visiting France and Poland again soon?

Lastly, it looks to me that they are using a single throttle body fuel injector. Just like my Buick Roadmaster!

For an interesting article on previous 6 cylinder bikes check out the current (Dec 09) issue of Cycle World magazine (Three Tenors, p48).

From BMW:
Munich. Six-cylinder power units have always had particular appeal, offering not only supreme smoothness and refinement, but also superior power and performance as well as a truly emotional driving – or, in this case, riding – experience. A further point is that the typical sound of a straight-six almost like a turbine is absolutely incomparable, with straight-six power units at BMW having stood for fascinating engine technology in BMW cars for more than seven decades.

Looking at motorcycles, inventive engineers have also tried time and again to offer the enthusiast the thrilling concept of a straight-six power unit. But while a few engines in straight-six configuration have indeed been fitted in motorcycles both lengthwise and crosswise, the straight-six has never really made a genuine breakthrough neither on production models nor in motorcycle racing.

Depending on the way the engine was fitted, six cylinders in-line inevitably made the engine either very long or very wide, creating disadvantages in terms of the running gear, weight distribution, and the centre of gravity. A further drawback was much higher engine weight usually setting off the benefits of extra engine power.

The BMW Concept 6 now proves that a straight-six, benefiting from the most advanced construction and production technology, may offer not only unique prestige, but also a supreme standard of riding dynamics.

The new BMW straight-six will further expand the K-Series in the foreseeable future. The first model to be introduced will be an innovative and luxurious BMW touring machine. Reflecting the tradition of the BMW K-Series, this will of course be a genuine top-of-the-line product.

Highly compact and dynamic six-cylinder.

The starting point for this dynamic introduction of the straight-six in the new Concept 6 from BMW Motorrad is of course the extremely compact form and configuration of the engine. The power unit is approximately 100 mm or 4" slimmer than all former straight-six production engines and only a bit wider than a large-capacity straight-four with conventional technology.

The reduction in width is achieved in particular by the slightly over-square bore: stroke ratio with relatively long stroke and very small gaps between cylinders. To achieve this very compact configuration with minimum width, the electrical ancillaries and their drive components are positioned behind the crankshaft in the open space above the transmission.

High-tech lightweight construction in all areas serves to make the power unit relatively light from the outset, important components in this context being the two hollow-drilled camshafts and the very light connecting rods. The perfect compensation of masses ensured by the configuration and layout of the engine avoids the need for a balance shaft and its drive elements on the new straight-six, which again means lower weight and enhanced running smoothness.

In its layout, the straight-six featured in the Concept 6 follows the well-known straight-four in the K 1300 model series, again coming with cylinders tilted to the front by 55o. This ensures not only a low centre of gravity, but also very good weight balance as an element essential above all under sporting conditions for precise feeling and clear feedback from the front. A further advantage is that the tilted engine provides extra space for the aerodynamically positioned intake manifold directly above the engine and allows ideal configuration of the frame profiles following the flow of power.

The straight-six featured in the BMW Motorrad Concept 6 comes with dry sump lubrication. Apart from greater reliability even under extreme conditions, dry sump technology serves to keep the crankcase particularly low and flat, with the engine being fitted lower down and masses concentrated around the centre of gravity. Doing without an oil sump, the engine may be positioned far lower than on a conventional layout.

The oil reservoir is provided by an oil tank integrated at the rear of the engine block. This avoids the need for a separate tank, again helping to make the entire power unit more compact and reduce weight to a minimum.

Maximum supremacy in running refinement and performance.

Designed and laid out as a straight-six, the engine also opens up new dimensions in motorcycling in terms of supremacy, power reserves, performance and running refinement.

Output of the new six-cylinder will be in approximately the same range as on BMW’s 1.3-litre straight-four power units. Torque, on the other hand, will be right at the top of the range, even in comparison with the largest motorcycle engines, such superior power and muscle coming inter alia from engine capacity of no less than 1.6 litres.

The engine’s power and performance characteristics are equally impressive, offering 130 Nm or 96 lb-ft of torque from just 2,000 rpm and at the same time revving up almost to 9,000 rpm – a dynamic potential quite unparalleled in the tourer segment. This alone qualifies the engine of the Concept 6 as the ideal power unit for a wide range of different motorcycles.

Environmental compatibility and all-round economy re-defined.

The Concept 6 shows the absolute supremacy of its six-cylinder drive system also in ecological and economic terms. Fuel consumption of this six-cylinder naturally equipped with a fully controlled catalytic converter is lower than on a comparable four-cylinder under normal touring conditions. The use of E-gas technology (ride-by-wire) then offers further potentials for enhanced fuel economy and riding dynamics throughout a wide range of different riding modes and conditions. And last but not least in this context, the straight-six power unit featured in the Concept 6 offers long inspection intervals through the use of cup tappets controlling the engine valves.

Dynamic and powerful design in Café Racer style.

Supremacy and dynamism are also borne out clearly by the thrilling design of the Concept 6 and, as usual, this project from BMW Motorrad is more than “just” the attempt to develop a motorcycle of a kind never seen before.

Working on Concept 6, the designers at BMW Motorrad have therefore focused yet again on technical function and quality and, in particular, the emotional element bringing together man and machine. Their rule, quite simply, is that a motorcycle must not only follow the laws of functionality, but also arouse emotion in all its facets. In a nutshell, therefore, the machine must be simply thrilling.

Precisely this is why the design of the Concept 6 focuses in particular on the powerful straight-six engine as the heart of the machine. Conceived as a mixture of classic and modern styling elements in motorcycle construction, the Concept 6, with its long front end and short rear, takes up the design language of the legendary Café Racer. Powerful and muscular, the body elements extend around the power unit finished in a special platinum colour, presenting the engine almost adoringly from every angle.

Smooth and soft lines ensure fully organic integration of the power unit within the machine, while at the same time they create a powerful, exciting and dynamic contrast to the sharply contoured front and rear ends.

The so-called Split Face, a well-known design element of the latest models from BMW Motorrad, extends smoothly from the front of the fairing all along the top of the fuel tank made of carbon-fibre, again confirming the high technological standard of the Concept 6 and forming an exciting contrast to the outer shell in aluminium with its white layers. The division into three sections created by the Split Face is further accentuated at the front by the LED headlight integrated longitudinally in the machine in its rod shape and by the slender LED rear light extending far up into the seat hump.

The powerful and supreme character of the Concept 6 is also underscored by the six-chamber exhaust system complete with sidepipes and the strong presence of the intake ducts again finished in platinum look. Aerodynamic components such as the twin-tipped engine spoiler and the air guide elements derived from the design of the new S 1000 RR Supersports, on the other hand, bridge the gap between functional and clearly visible technology, on the one hand, and the soft and smooth design of other body elements, on the other.

Innovative suspension technology and equipment

The suspension of the BMW Motorrad Concept 6 is built around a light-alloy bridge frame as well as Duolever and lightweight Paralever arms holding and guiding the wheels front and rear. Seventeen-inch HP forged wheels as well as the extra-large brake system with its six-piston fixed callipers emphasise the sporting look of the new machine and its high level of technology.

The outstanding supremacy of the Concept 6 and its drivetrain is also reflected by details such as the instrument panel intentionally kept in minimalist design but nevertheless completely equipped with all the instruments and gauges required. While a digital display performs its usual function of clearly presenting road speed, there is intentionally no rev counter on account of the supreme flow of power at all speeds. So instead of a conventional rev counter, a LED display shows the rider at all times how much torque is readily available whenever required.

Understanding the Harley thing

Joe posted this on another list and I must say they pretty well nail it. No single issue hurts us more than noise. There is supposed to be a "brotherhood" of riders but I don't feel any kinship for the Loud & Look At Me crowd.

I never could understand the Harley rider thing, but this SouthPark episode sums it up, take a look.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Searching on CraigsList

CraigsList is a great place to find bargains of all kinds. Mostly motorcycles in my case. However, searching on one list after another is really tedious and kills a lot of time.

Enter SearchTempest ( ). With ST you can specify a zip code and a radius and it will search all of the CL lists within that area. 250 miles from me takes in everything from Maine to New Jersey.

Better still you can specify wild cards so that xr6* will include both the XR600 and XR650. Maybe you could do it with CL but I never figured out how.

ST will also search EBay for you and return a list of matches.

A great time saver if you are a CL junkie!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Images of the SouthWest

I don't get the WOW feeling from photography the way I used to. Been there, done that, had a salad. However, having traveled extensively throughout the west and southwest on a dual sport bike I was instantly amazed at these images. The time lapse photography really captures the feeling of being camped out in the middle of nowhere far better than any static photo. "Learning To Fly" is obviously one of the best but they are all good and worth watching.

This has really inspired me to take my camera and tripod along with me the next time I go off into the wild. Must be time to go back to Baja!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tool tip

The Gotcha is a simple tool that you only use once in a while. It holds nuts for you when you have to reach into a space and thread them onto a stud or bolt. You don't need it very often but when you do it's invaluable. A couple of days ago I was trying to assemble some parts and it was a thing of joy.

However, you can't buy one. I called to get the details so that I could post it here and found that the maker, H C Crawford, had passed away three years ago. The woman who answered the phone said that the remaining stock had all been sold and didn't know when (if ever) they would be available again.

When I bought my first Gotcha I talked to H C Crawford at length and formed an image of a simple man who had an idea and made it work. I don't remember exactly but I think he made them as well as running his farm.

When I called back to order a dozen more for friends he told me that he didn't know what the shipping charge would be. He told me that he would send the tools to me and that I should check the postage on the package and send him a check for the total amount. He didn't take credit cards and he said that it was rare that anyone didn't pay for their shipment. Certainly a welcome relief from the present environment of greed and corruption.

So you can't buy one but I wanted to share what might have been. It's also a reminder that all things pass. Plan for tomorrow but live for today.

I've posted a detailed image here - be patient, it's a very large file.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Want to be my friend? - Part II

This time it's Popular Photography magazine trying to pump up their dead tree circulation. They included an offer for new subscriptions for my "friends" at only $5 each. This would normally cost $12/year so it's not a bad deal if you're into cameras and stuff. They are mostly into digital and have a lot of Photoshop tutorials and tips.

Since I would consider anyone reading this blog to be a friend I'll happily sign you up if you send me the cash. To make it real easy just send me $5.80 (80 cents to cover the PayPal fee) by PayPal and I'll add your name to the list. Use the email address and make sure you include the address you want it sent to.

As Mr. Rodgers used to say, "Wouldn't you like to be my friend?" Again?

P.S. If you missed the first offer for Dirt Rider, sorry but it's gone.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

First TransAmerican Motorcycle Ride

Herman sent me this link about the first person to ride a "motor bicycle" across the US. It's quite a fascinating story, all the more so because there were almost no roads and when there was one it was often impassible. Along the way he has to rebuild the engine with parts from sent to him by Railway Express and repair the frame with the help of a blacksmith. Highly Recommended!

It amazes me that people still think that transcontinental travel is a big adventure. When I rode from Atlantic to Pacific on the old US50 a couple of years ago people were amazed at my "courage" and "daring". While I did it solo I was on a Honda Transalp and had a pocket full of credit cards. What could go wrong? It wasn't like the first time I rode cross-country on a 305 Honda SuperHawk with nothing but an old army jacket, a Boy Scout sleeping bag, and maybe $100 in my pocket!

The adventure came when I went off roading in the Moab, UT area for a couple of days but other than that it was sit back, enjoy the scenery, and make new friends at every stop. Images and movies from that trip are here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

B-Cubed pre-announcement (sort of ...)

My friend Eddy Fastguy sent along this info:

B-Cubed, the Brooklyn->Boston->Brooklyn rally is definitely going to happen in 2010. Although the date is still "sometime in August" the rest of the plans are coming along nicely.

What is known so far:
Saturday morning start from Motoborgotaro on Union St.
Two day event with overnight stay in Boston area (camping or motel)
Iron(wo)man challenge for anyone wanting to do it non-stop. Special Mouse award for this one.

Classes (up to 1973):

Tourist (any year any size)

This is a rally, not a race! There will be a set route to follow through the back roads of NY, MA, RI, and CT. Total mileage will be between 600-700 miles. The concept is small, vintage bikes and fun.
Start getting your bikes ready now!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dirt-Deth party review

This follow-up from Larry about the party:
I went with my wife, she thought it was great fun so that's how much fun it was. Alison is usually bored to tears by anything moto. They had a little oval set up in a 40 x 100 lot with one jump that was really too big especially for the skill and intoxication level of the riders, so no one got any actual air. I really wanted to do a few practice runs, if I got there earlier they would have let me. In one race they had a gal handing beer out to the racers (one per lap). Her chest was so hugely
developed that she could put about 4 cans of beer in her bra and still have room left over, very impressive! Alison really got into throwing pumpkin pieces at the racers.
Looking forward to this next year!