No Moto Guzzi For Me!

September 23, 2010 3 comments

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?”

September 7, 2010 Leave a comment

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 word “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

August 30, 2010 2 comments

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?

August 23, 2010 2 comments

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.

I never got a chance to ride a Buell

August 10, 2010 1 comment

I’m a big fan of V-twin motorcycle engines. Owned a version of just about every configuration of motorcycle engine one time or another. The only exception is a BMW with the opposed two cylinders. My legs are too short to ride their motorcycles; always needed a step stool to just to get on one. Not that I’m really that short. It’s just my legs are not that long. I don’t want you to get the idea that I’m some type of mutant. The fact is I won’t make living playing basketball.

Currently three of the four motorcycles that I own are the V-twin engine configurations. The other motorcycle I own has an opposed 6-cylinder engine.

I like motorcycles that have a lot technology in them. I’m not interested in riding motorcycle with a lawnmower engine and gearbox. Been there done that (see my blog about that subject). Although, I’ve always been intrigued by Buell motorcycles. I think the idea of the complete disconnect from the other manufacturer trends appealed to me. Not the new ones with the Rotex engine, but older ones with the air-cooled V-twins.

The Rotex engine was a last ditch effort to inject technology into the Buell motorcycle company. Trying to make it something is wasn’t. Competing with the other manufacturers in very competitive market segment was truly insane. I wonder what they were smoking at the Buell motorcycle company to get that idea. I think it was the same stuff guys at Honda were smoking when they created the DN-01.

There was never much cutting edge technology used to make these motorcycles more competitive in the market place. Compaired to what the other manufacturers were doing. But the creativity that went into these motorcycles is what made them stand out to me.

An air-cooled engine will not make the same HP as a water cooled one. So what did Buell do? He used the swing arm as an oil cooler. Trying to remove as much heat as possible from the air-cooled engine. Also, he had a small fan to blow air on the rear cylinder to help keep it cool. Putting the fuel in the frame allowed him to put the exhaust under the engine. This lowered the center mass point helping the motorcycle to corner better. He worked with what he had and tried to make things workout the best he could.

I see the Buell motorcycle as piece of artwork. A painting that has been intertwined in the American landscape by Eric Buell. A motorcycle “Mona Lisa” if you will let me make that comparison. Really, you don’t have a choice, I’m writing this. A part of motorcycling history that will be forgotten one day. When you have chance you should look up Eric Buell on the Internet and read about him. Not now, you need to finish this blog first.

I realize that Harley-Davidson is trying to survive in these tough economic times. Sadly, cutting Buell was one of the ways to help streamline their operation. But long term they’ve made a mistake by removing some creativity from their business model.

Wear your helmet, we don’t want you to damage the streets!

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.” 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. You might want to read that blog if you didn’t already. 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.

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