Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Wikipedia on Motorcycles
Wikipedia, the free-content, user supported, online encyclopedia, has a great entry on motorcycles that's worth a read. Included is a decent, if not akwardly technical, explanation of countersteering.
Gyroscopic precession of the front wheel is one of the phenomena that cause both counter-steer, and steering by leaning. The turning wheel rotates the effect of a force applied to the wheel by ninety degrees. So, counter-steer happens because pressing on the left handlebar applies a rightward force on the front of the wheel, and a leftward force on the back of the wheel. The wheel's motion is rotated ninety degrees: the top of the wheel (ninety degrees from the back) moves left, leaning the bike. Leaning the bike left causes the front of the wheel (ninety degrees from the top) to steer to the left.
In the same entry, I found the brief commentary on the Harley-Davidson model naming convention to be downright funny.
Harley Davidson has a unique naming scheme that has evolved over the company's existence. It's incredibly complex, convoluted, and confusing to anyone who isn't steeped in "Harley" lore. In their defense HD as a company has come quite long way in simplifying this even while their motorcycles retain the same basic design they utilized in the 1950s.
(Emphasis added.) Disagree with anything in the entry? Sign up to edit it yourself!

Bluetooth Helmet Roundup
Bikes in the Fast Lane has a great post on Bluetooth enabled motorcycle helmets.
...in recent months many of the motorcycle helmet manufacturers have introduced their first Bluetooth equipped helmets. All these helmets allow the rider to communicate with any Bluetooth equipped device, specifically another Bluetooth helmet (ie your pillion), or with a GSM telephone and/or MP3/XM Radio/any BT device.
Does it bet any better than Bluetooth helmets? I submit that it does not. Read the whole thing.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Respecting my Elders
Came across Doug Klassen's "Forty Years on Two Wheels" tonight. Do yourself a favor and read it all. Take special note of his rant on Stunting, in which he manages to rant about stunting, RUBS, SQUIDS, Senator Danforth, and even The Rolling Stones, all in one post.
Generally, stunting on sport bikes seems to consist of what are in fact amazing feats of balance and coordination on sport bikes. Sadly, it's not real riding. No it's not. Sorry. Riding well, riding skillfully, consists of operating the motorcycle as a motorcycle, sometimes to it's intended limits, and not as mechanical phallic symbol in order to impress empty headed, tank-topped, 20-something girls. Riding in baggy pants or shorts with your butt hanging out, no helmet, shirtless, doing stoppies on in traffic or doing wheelies at 150 mph on a crowded highway are not riding motorcycles, it's merely showing off and helping to clean out the shallow end of the gene pool.
Don't miss the videos he links at the end of the post. You won't be dissapointed.

The Biker Wave
Excellent post from "In The Scene" on the biker wave. New bikers and old alike take note.
This past weekend I took my niece out for a spin on the bike. After explaining the passenger rules (don't counterlean, feet and pegs are not to separate, etc.), we took off through town, heading for backcountry blacktop. As we went down the mainstreet, I tapped her on the knee and said "do you know about the wave?". "No. What wave?", she answered.

"When we pass another bike, give them a wave."


"It's something we do."
Why, indeed? Read the whole thing and find out. Or not.

Too Much Polishing Leads To Idolatry
As a matter of principle, I don't wash the bike all that often. I'm one of those riders that loves riding way more than I love any motorcycle. Sure, I love a bright, shiny, clean bike as much as the next guy, but I'd rather ride than spend hours every week cleaning, polishing, and fussing over my ride. Unfortunately for me, today is going to be a cleaning day.

I was headed back to work after lunch yesterday, headed down the local interstate at a slightly illegal rate of speed. Way up ahead, I saw quite a lot of smoke, and figured that there was a really bad wreck. I slowed down a little, increased the spacing between myself and the guys in front of me, and started paying very careful attention to traffic. To my surprise, there was no gridlock up ahead and no wreck.

About 10 miles later, I found out where all of the smoke was coming from. There wasn't a fire, there wasn't a wreck, but there was an 18-wheeler, sans trailer, belching some seriously stanky exhaust out onto the freeway. As I got ready to pass him, I was baptized in what I thought at the time was soot. When I finally got back to work and looked the bike over, I found droplets of oil all over the front of my bike. That jackass had blown a gasket and was spraying oil all over the interstate. Now I've got to wash the bike, one of my least favorite chores of all.

Thanks a lot, dude.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Make-A-Wish Foundation and Custom Choppers
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Midsouth and Memphis Choppers have gotten together and are auctioning off a custom chopper. Tickets are $25 a pop.
The Bike will be raffled off on November 19, 2004. Donations of any amount can be made at BenchMark Realtors and Mortgage, 7990 Trinity Road Suite 201, Cordova, TN 38016, Phone: 901-202-2000, and Memphis Choppers, 5352 Pleasant View, Memphis TN 38134, Phone:901-380-8464
More information on Memphis Choppers can be found here (Registration required).
The nuts and bolts of the shop is motorcycle maintenance. After a year of existence, it's debt free. The master mechanic is Lee Burks, whom Hartfield and Till regard as something of a wizard with a wrench.

But the soul of Memphis Choppers is fabrication, which takes a sometimes vague idea and fashions it into a unique machine.

"Ninety percent of customers don't know exactly what they want," Hartfield says. "So I tell them to go buy magazines and figure out what style they want."

If you don't know the difference between a suicide shifter and a sissy bar, you'll have plenty of time to learn.

"It's not a fast process. It takes two to three months to build," Hartfield says.

They are thorough. For example, they measure the rider's arm so the handlebar fit is just right. And the customer gets to observe the work in progress. "We'll put on a lift and show him what's going on," Till says.
I've seen some of their bikes myself, and been by the shop on a local poker run. Nice bikes, nice folks. If you ever make it through Memphis, do yourself a favor and check them out.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

I Can't Believe It Finally Happened
All of the women in my life told me it would come to this, but I always refused to listen. "Sort your laundry!", they would say, and I would scoff at their advice. Look, I've been jamming every piece of dirty clothing I own into any washer that would accept them for years, and I've never had a problem

Pride comes before a what? The best laid plans of who?

Earlier this year my Mom and my sister went to Europe on vacation. They brought me back a great t-shirt from Italy. It said, "Ciao-Ciao" across the front in the famous Coca-Cola font, and it was bright red. Bright red.

So tonight, like always, It threw all of the dirty laundry I had into the same load. I threw whites in the wash with blacks and boxers in with dish towels, all in the same machine with the bright red Italian t-shirt.

You can imagine what I found when I came back to the machine to put my clothes in the dryer. Everything that was white had a nice pink hue to it. It wasn't that great of a loss, mostly socks and undershirts got the worst of it, but I did lose my Cars Suck t-shirt in the fiasco.

It was a good lesson learned, I had a good laugh at my own expense, and now I have a good excuse to go on an Aerostitch shopping spree.

I guess all those ladies were right after all.

New '05s from, er, Pakistan?
When Mark Tuttle Jr. of Rider Magazine complained about the plethora of new motorcycle models that we won't be getting here in the U.S. (sorry, no link available), somehow I don't think he was referring to these.
ISLAMABAD: Another six different kinds of motorbikes will be introduced in the country which will be available on lowest cast with new models and designs, an official of production ministry said.

“We already introduced the 14 new different varieties of the motorbikes in the country with the cooperation of china to accommodate the public on easy cast and to boost the use of bikes in the country,” he said.

The official claimed that the technology, which will use in the manufacturing of these bikes, would be import from china and Japan.

Good Advice from Sport Rider
Sport Rider offers five tips for the daily rider in their Urban Guerrilla riding tips article. Of course, when all else fails, there is no better advice than being a damn good rider.
When everything goes wrong and the above five steps fail to keep you in safety's arms, you'd better be a good motorcycle rider. Get to an empty parking lot and practice braking; take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Experienced RiderCourse. Experiment with flicking lane changes. Become intimately familiar with the effects of countersteering, experimenting with differing pressures on the handgrips. Practice quick glances in the mirrors and hurried looks over your shoulder, as if you were initiating an emergency lane change. Use your turn signals in all conditions so that you'll remember to cancel them when things get stressful. Know the route you and your neighborhood commuters take on the way to the freeway and study the mistakes being made; when you're not on your bike, watch traffic patterns and instances that would get a rider in trouble.

Bad Ass Bikes for '05
By now you've read tons of articles and posts on many of the new models for '05. Here are two of my favorite bikes for '05: the 2005 BMW K1200R and the 2005 Triumph Speed Triple. Those are some mean looking machines.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Taking Pictures on the Road
If you're like me, you love nothing better than taking tons of pictures on your road trips, and then hoisting them on unsuspecting friends when you get back. Of course, many of my pictures end up coming out pretty badly. Here are some tips from the AMA on taking better pictures, advice I would be wise to follow.

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