Archive for June, 2008

OFMC Now Has Own Patch

Monday, June 30th, 2008

All right, now this is great!

I’ve talked before about the group of guys I ride with and how we call ourselves, with tongue in cheek, the Old Farts Motorcycle Club. That’s tongue in cheek because, for one thing, several of these guys are pretty dang young.

Well anyway, John did a design a couple years ago of a logo for the group, forming a motorcycle from the letters OFMC. A very ingenious design. Zoom ahead a couple years, and now as we’re getting ready for this summer’s trip John has had the design turned into a sew-on patch and it looks great. Here, see for yourself:
OFMC patch
I can’t wait to get my hands on these. He had enough made so we each get six, and I have three spots picked out already. One will go on my leather jacket, and one will go on a baseball-type cap. The third will go on a denim shirt that already has a patch on it that I want to cover up. It’s a really nice shirt but the patch is for a company where I used to work that I would describe as a bunch of jerks who know nothing about treating people with decency and respect. I haven’t been able to cut it off so I’m just going to cover it up. Then I can start wearing the shirt!

So, oh boy! The bike trip’s coming soon!

Biker Quote for Today

Sometimes the best communication happens when you’re on separate bikes.

Summer of Cycles on Exhibit at Arvada Center

Friday, June 27th, 2008

I haven’t been over to see this yet, and won’t have a chance for a few more weeks, so rather than waiting I’m going to tell you about it now. That way you’ll probably get there before me and you can tell me about it.

The Arvada Center for the Arts & Humanities, at 6901 Wadsworth Blvd, is hosting a free exhibit entitled Summer of Cycles: Motorcycles from the Harry Mathews and Jim Dillard Collections. The exhibit runs through Sept. 7.

Here’s the blurb from the Center’s website:

As an unknown author philosophically remarked, “Four wheels move the body; two wheels move the soul.” Most motorcycle enthusiasts would say amen to that. Perhaps no other single object of industrial design better epitomizes 20th and now 21st century fascination with speed and power as well as more abstract notions of freedom (sometimes even rebellion), progress and danger. And as the exhibition further contends, motorcycles are art objects too, the aesthetic sum of technology and innovation, yet typically styled and adorned to communicate individual personality. Arvadan Harry Mathews and Jim Dillard have lent classic cycles from their considerable personal collections for this exhibition.

I’ll go when I get the chance, and then post some pictures and comments. But now you won’t miss it and complain that no one told you it was going on.

Biker Quote for Today

I like the mechanicalness of motorcycles. I have a ZX-14, and it’s a fantastic bike. But the thing is, it doesn’t need me. It’s the vintage stuff I like.–Jay Leno

The Nudge You Wanted: Get a Motorcycle for Free

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

OK, this particular post is not for all of you who already ride, but it might be for some buddy of yours who you’ve been working on to get a bike. Try this logic on them. Tell them it’s really easy to have a motorcycle free of charge.

No, I don’t mean come hop on and ride away with no money changing hands. I’ve done the math so you don’t have to and what I’m going to show you is how $4 gasoline presents an opportunity.

Let’s say you have never owned a bike and you want to start out easy. First, pick a day at random. How about today? OK, I went over to craigslist.org and clicked on the motorcycle link just to see what people have for sale. There are several good-looking bikes that would do well for new riders. Here’s one many newbies might find very interesting:

The owner of this 1981 Honda CM250 with 7,000 miles on it is asking $1,400. From what the guy says, and from the photos, it looks like a very clean, very well-maintained bike. One possible issue you would definitely want to check is that, with that few miles in that amount of time, the carbs may need cleaning. But he says it runs great, so maybe he took care of that already. And he says it get more than 60 miles per gallon.

OK, now let’s do the math. What kind of gas mileage does your car get? I’m going to use some fairly conservative figures here. Let’s say your car gets 25 MPG. We’re hoping to err on the high side. Then let’s err on the low side with the bike and just say 60 MPG. That’s a 35 MPG difference.

Then figure an even $4 for gas. In 1,000 miles it would take you 40 gallons of gas in your car, at a cost of $160. For the little Honda it would be 16.7 gallons, costing $66.80. That’s almost $100 less. Again, for convenience, let’s just round that off to $100. So, in round figures, for every 1,000 miles you drive you could ride this bike and save $100.

How many miles do you drive in a year? Is 14,000 a fair number? If you did that full 14,000 on the bike, in the space of one year you would save enough money on gas to purchase the bike. Your own motorcycle, for free!

OK, we know you’re not going to replace all your driving with the bike. In the winter most of us prefer the warmth of a car. Plus, when you go places with other people along a bike just won’t do, usually. And hauling eight bags of groceries on this bike would not work.

Well then, let’s say it takes you two years to pay off the bike. Or heck, even three years. Is that so horrible? You still get the bike essentially for free, plus, in the meantime, your daily commute has become a lot more enjoyable.

Then, if gas prices continue to go up, you’ll pay off the bike with your savings in even less time. I read yesterday that some “experts” are expecting oil at $200 per barrel in the not too distant future.

Of course, we can’t all buy this one bike. But there are a lot of used bikes for sale out there. And let me say this about buying a used bike: Don’t be afraid of used bikes. You can get some great deals, but of course you have to be careful, just as you would buying a used car. I bought my 1980 CB750 Custom for $900 with 19,500 miles on it. It gets an easy 45 MPG. I’ve ridden it for 19 years now and if I wanted to sell it I’d probably ask $700, so at some point in a bike’s life the depreciation becomes a non-issue.

What else is on craigslist today? You may notice if you look over on the left that I now have an RSS feed from that site, so you can see the very latest listings right here while you’re reading this.

For instance, there’s a 2006 Suzuki M50 with 6,400 miles on it. This is an 800cc bike that is fuel-injected and has shaft drive. I found comments from owners of these bikes and it is considered an excellent starter bike. The owner is asking $5,900 for this one.

Then there’s a 2004 Yamaha FZ6 with 12,000 miles at $4,000. He says it gets in the high 30s. Another good starter bike.

If you’re the Harley type there is a 1999 FXD Super Glide with 11,500 miles for $6,000. He doesn’t say what the gas mileage is but you can do some research and find that out.

And then there’s a 1983 Yamaha Virago 750 with 12,000 miles for $2,000. He says it gets 43 MPG.

You get the picture. Take the numbers and play with them. Maybe your car gets much worse gas mileage. Maybe you drive a lot more than 14,000 miles a year. Or maybe you don’t. I’ll tell you one thing, though. I felt pretty happy today when I filled the tank on my Concours and the bill came to just $16.52.

Biker Quote for Today

Never mistake horsepower for staying power.

I’ll See Your 25 MPG and Raise You 60

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Man oh man! Gas for $4 a gallon! Sure would be nice to get, oh, about 80 miles per gallon. Well, some people do. But you can bet they don’t do it in a Hummer.

On the other hand, take that little scooter next to that green Kawasaki in the photo below. That person is getting around 80 MPG. And probably having more fun getting to and from work than they ever have before.

Motorcycles and scooters ridden to work

Even better than that, Yamaha claims that their Vino 125 gets 96 MPG, and the Yamaha C3 is rated at 115 MPG. Now you’re talking saving real money!

Of course, there are some trade-offs. Those two little Yamahas don’t have much speed and you can’t take them on the highway. However, some bigger scooters don’t cost a lot more than those and can hit top speeds of 75 or more. It’s always a matter of trade-offs.

So, what kind of gas mileage does that Kawi guy get? On a sportbike like his (or hers, you never know) he’s surely in the 40-50 MPG range. The fact is, most motorcycles will get mileage in that approximate range, even the bigger ones. For example, I get around 45 MPG on both my Honda CB750 Custom and my Kawasaki Concours. A Honda Goldwing, one of the biggest bikes on the road, can get up to 40 MPG, although it does have six cylinders and therefore is not as efficient as the more common one-, two-, three- or four-cylinder bikes.

Another big road bike, the Harley-Davidson Road King, is rated at 54 MPG on the highway and 35 in the city. The Yamaha FJR1300A delivers around 40. Honda’s Shadow Spirit 1100 is rated at about 48 MPG on the highway and 38 in the city. (Sorry I don’t have city/highway splits for all these bikes.)

The mileage you get on a bike generally depends on the same three things that determines a car’s fuel efficiency: weight, your driving habits, and engine size. The big six-cylinder bikes eat more gas than a V-twin, but any bike with six cylinders is also a heavy bike. For a smaller bike, around 1,000 cc’s, you’ll get pretty much the same mileage with a V-twin or an inline four.

And then, as the city/highway splits show, speed matters. While I normally expect 45 MPG from my 1,000-cc Concours, riding easily on curvy mountain roads has at times given me as much as 55 MPG from the beast.

Do the math. A lot of other people already have. There are a lot more people joining us on the roads on two wheels. Welcome to the club.

Biker Quote for Today

Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul.

Did You Hear the One About the Biker Who . . .

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Today is joke day. I’ll admit unabashedly that I found these jokes on other blogs or websites and copied them down. So hey, when was the last time you invented a joke? Here, enjoy.

A rookie police officer pulled a biker over for speeding and had the following exchange:

Officer: May I see your driver’s license?
Biker: I don’t have one. I had it suspended when I got my 5th DUI.
Officer: May I see the owner’s card for this vehicle?
Biker: It’s not my bike. I stole it.
Officer: The motorcycle is stolen?
Biker: That’s right. But come to think of it, I think I saw the owner’s card in the tool bag when I was putting my gun in there.
Officer: There’s a gun in the tool bag?
Biker: Yes sir. That’s where I put it after I shot and killed the dude who owns this bike and stuffed his dope in the saddle bags.
Officer: There’s drugs in the saddle bags too?!?!?
Biker: Yes, sir.

Hearing this, the rookie immediately called his captain. The biker was quickly surrounded by police, and the captain approached the biker to handle the tense situation:

Captain: Sir, can I see your license?
Biker: Sure. Here it is.

It was valid.

Captain: Who’s motorcycle is this?
Biker: It’s mine, officer. Here’s the registration.
Captain: Could you slowly open your tool bag so I can see if there’s a gun in it?
Biker: Yes, sir, but there’s no gun in it.

Sure enough, there was nothing in the tool bag.

Captain: Would you mind opening your saddle bags? I was told you said there’s drugs in them.
Biker: No problem.

The saddle bags were opened; no drugs.

Captain: I don’t understand it. The officer who stopped you said you told him you didn’t have a license, stole this motorcycle, had a gun in the tool bag, and that there were drugs in the saddle bags.
Biker: Yeah, I’ll bet he told you I was speeding, too.

*************

A Highway Patrolman waited outside a popular biker bar, hoping for a bust. At closing time everyone come out and he spotted his potential quarry. The man was so obviously inebriated that he could barely walk. He stumbled around the parking lot for a few minutes, looking for his motorcycle. After trying his keys on five other bikes, he finally found his own bike. He sat on his motorcycle for a good 10 minutes, as the other patrons left. He turned his lights on, then off, and again on and off. He started his engine and pull forward into the grass, then stopped.

Finally, he pulled out onto the road and started to drive away. The patrolman, waiting for this, turned on his lights and pulled the man over. He administered the breathalyzer test, and to his great surprise, the man blew a 0.00.

The patrolman was dumbfounded. “This equipment must be broken!” he exclaimed.

“I doubt it,” said the man, “You see, tonight I am the designated decoy . . . I haven’t had a drink all day!”

*************

A woman and her husband were riding their Harley Electra Glide on vacation, but had to interrupt their trip to go to the dentist.

“I want a tooth pulled and I don’t want to waste any time with any pain killers because we’re in a big hurry,” the woman said. “Just extract the tooth as quickly as possible and we’ll be on our way.”

The dentist was quite impressed. “You’re certainly a courageous woman,” he said. “Which tooth is it?”

The woman turned to her husband and said, “Show him your tooth, dear.”

*************

This biker went to a store the other day, and was in there for only about 5 minutes. However, when he came out there was a cop writing a parking ticket.

So the biker went up to him and said, “Come on, buddy, how about giving a guy a break?”

The cop ignored him and continued writing the ticket.

So the biker called the cop a pencil-necked Nazi.

The cop glared at him and started writing another ticket for having worn tires!

So then the biker called the cop a piece of horseshit.

The cop finished the second ticket and put it on the car’s windshield with the first.

Then he started writing a third ticket! This went on for about 20 minutes and the more the biker abused the cop, the more tickets he wrote.

Of course, the biker didn’t care. His motorcycle was parked around the corner.

*************

When I was young I used to pray for a Harley. Then I realized that God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a Harley and prayed for forgiveness.

Biker Quote for Today

I’d rather be riding my motorcycle thinking about God than sitting in church thinking about my motorcycle.

ATGATT? Not Me. My Realistic(?) Compromise.

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Redlegs went down on his bike recently and came out in pretty good shape, with only a separated shoulder. He attributes it to ATGATT. That stands for All The Gear, All The Time.

I’ll back up just a moment to explain that Redlegs is a fellow motorcycle blogger who I have never met but have communicated with a number of times via email and comments we have posted on each others’ blogs. We may actually have literally rubbed shoulders recently at the Top Gun event but didn’t know it until we saw that we had each been there and written about it.

So in another overlap, we both went up to Frisco to the Concours Owners Group rally recently, though I went on Monday and he went on Friday. My trip was fine. For Redlegs, however, things were not so fine. Approaching the Eisenhower Tunnel, he hit some black ice and went down, at high speed. Ouch.

Redlegs says he always does the ATGATT thing, and right now he’s pretty darn happy about that. I have to admit, I don’t. Certainly I understand that if you go down you’re going to be extremely happy to have been wearing every bit of protective gear you own. And referring to another voice, Mark Tuttle Jr., editor of Rider magazine, says in his July 2008 column, “Take it from someone who has left his share of skin on the pavement–you don’t want to.”

I understand this. I believe these guys. So why don’t I do it? And obviously I’m not alone in not doing it. Why do so many of us ignore what we know is good advice?

I’ll be honest. A part of me has never gotten beyond my youthful conviction that I’m immortal and really bad things just won’t happen to me. For another thing, I’ve been riding for about 19 years now and the only time I ever went down on one of my bikes was going down a gravel road at about 5 miles per hour when a big dog walked out from between two parked cars, right into my path. In a slow motion split second I nailed my front brakes, realized they weren’t going to be enough, and touched the rears. Down instantly. But other than a bruised shoulder I was unhurt and my passenger was also unhurt. And we were not wearing helmets, but that was OK because our heads didn’t hit the ground.

The fact is, I like riding without a helmet. First of all, it’s extremely pleasant, and is a large part of what I find so enjoyable about riding. Secondly, when I do wear the helmet it gets very uncomfortable, even painful, when I wear it for a long time. Now, regarding this latter point, it may be that I just need a different helmet. But I’ve had a number of helmets over the years and the same has been true for all of them. They hurt my head. That said, I always wear a helmet in winter, I usually wear one when I’m riding on the interstate, and at other times it just depends on the weather and how I feel.

As for other gear, like leather jacket and chaps and gloves, I wear them depending on the ride and the weather. I wear the jacket and gloves the most, quite a lot of the time. The chaps I primarily wear in winter, when I judge that the possibility for a spill is greater and when the extra warmth they provide is welcome. I have a good pair of boots and I wear them on long rides but if I’m just hopping on the bike to go to the gym I don’t bother.

I’m pretty sure there are a lot of guys like me. ATGATT is a great concept but we just don’t see it as realistic. So I’ve worked out my compromise. In bad weather I wear it all. The odds are just more heavily weighted toward a mishap in bad weather. When I’m just trying to get somewhere and make time, I wear most of it, particularly the helmet and jacket. At times like that, the enjoyment is not the primary focus of the trip so I just hunker down and go. When it’s cold I wear all of it. That’s simple; it keeps me warm. The fact that it would protect me in a spill is secondary, though not unimportant.

But when it’s a beautiful summer day and we’re out on a lonely two-lane road just taking it easy and enjoying the ride, I’m sorry, I don’t want to wear a helmet. I judge that the danger is slight and it’s just worth it to me to take that small chance. And remember: Last year about 42 percent of motorcyclists killed in accidents were not wearing helmets. That means that 58 percent were wearing helmets and they were killed anyway. Sometimes you just play the odds. Yes, sometimes you lose. But I think this Biker Quote for Today sums it up for me pretty nicely.

Biker Quote for Today

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil, shouting HOLY CRAP!

Sometimes It Doesn’t Feel Like a Brotherhood

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Motorcyclist are all bound together by a brotherhood tie through their love of the sport, and what difference does it make what make of machine he rides as long as he belongs to the clan. – Walter Davidson, 1920

Is it just me? And if there are others of you like me, is it just us, doing this to ourselves?

What I’m talking about is the feeling I got when I went over to Mile High Harley-Davidson last weekend for their Charity Bug Run & Summer Kick-Off Party. Of course I wasn’t on a Harley. I don’t own a Harley. But that wasn’t a big deal. Once I got off the bike no one knew what bike I rode in on. Plus, I had camouflage–I wore a Harley-Davidson cap I’ve had for years.

No, what I’m talking about is how I just felt out of place among all the heavily leathered, heavily tattooed, pony-tailed guys who fit the old Harley rider stereotype. I mean, we all know that many Harley riders these days are doctors, lawyers, and other well-to-do professionals. But I didn’t see many of them there. Maybe those people have little interest in coming to the dealership for events like this.

Again, it may very well just be me doing this to myself. No one looked askance at me. No one treated me rudely or as if I had no business being there. Heck, nobody really paid any attention to me at all. But I felt very stongly like I did not belong there. And consequently, I didn’t stay around very long.

It was totally different a week earlier when I went up to the Concours Owners Group rally in Frisco. Of course, I do own a Connie and I rode it up there so that had to make a difference. But once again, off the bike, it still didn’t matter. These were a bunch of guys who I could identify with, who I felt at home with. I stuck around a long time.

I don’t have any negative feelings about the Harley guys. I don’t have any tattoos but I have had a pony-tail and I do have leathers. Heck, I know most of these guys are just regular joes with families and mortgages like the rest of us. And I’ve never had any kind of confrontation whatsoever with any of them. So why did I feel so out of place? I don’t know. It disturbs me.

Biker Quote for Today

Sooner or later opinions fade, and the name on the tank matters not. I think that happens somewhere between 4th and 5th gear.

Transportation Secretary Mary Peters Rides a Harley

Friday, June 13th, 2008

Transportation Secretary Mary PetersDid you know this? I didn’t. Heck, if you’d asked me I’d have had to admit I couldn’t even name the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. But I know it now. That’s her in the photo.

So Mary Peters has been making some news lately, and raising some hackles. In her efforts to promote motorcycle safety she is accused of ignoring the law that prohibits federal bureaucrats from lobbying for or against specific state laws. In the June 2008 issue of American Motorcyclist, the publication of the American Motorcyclist Association, they have this to say:

But that doesn’t appear to be stopping Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, who told U.S. senators and representatives she wanted to lobby states to divert federal money away from motorcycle safety training and awareness programs and instead push for mandated helmet use.

Here’s my take on this. She crashed on her Harley and escaped serious injury thanks in part to her helmet. Now she’s a helmet evangelist. I’ve seen this before. About 15 years ago there was a young woman who suffered a head injury when the guy she was riding with hit the median on Orchard Road while going about 70 miles an hour. This was the first time she had ever been on a motorcycle but she told reporters from her hospital bed that she intended to devote her life to making helmet usage mandatory for all motorcyclists all the time. The difference between that young woman and Mary Peters is that Mary Peters is in a position to do something about her convictions.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with advocating helmet usage. There is something wrong, however, with becoming focused so totally on helmets that you dismiss other, equally important safety factors. “Divert federal money away from motorcycle safety training and awareness programs”? I’ve made the point before that wearing a helmet is not a be-all and end-all in motorcycle safety. In the report I was discussing it said that “About 42 percent of riders killed were not wearing helmets.” And I responded that what that means then is that 58 percent were wearing helmets — and they were killed anyway.

That’s why I believe that diverting funds from motorcycle safety training to mandating helmets is wrong-headed. We all need to wear helmets at times; some of us wear them all the time. We should all also take an occasional refresher training course. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation and ABATE have expanded their offerings lately due to demand. What we don’t need is some bureaucrat, even one who rides, cutting training funds.

Oh, and by the way, if the law says bureaucrats can’t legally lobby for or against specific state laws, I suggest the Secretary of Transportation ought to obey the law.

Update
I’ve written three follow-up posts on this subject:
Revisiting Mary Peters, Biker and DOT Secretary
Follow-up on Mary Peters, Secretary of US DOT
DOT Sec. Mary Peters Good for Bikers, Wrong on One Priority

Biker Quote for Today

Everyone crashes. Some get back on. Some don’t. Some can’t.

Examiner.com Has Doubled My Motorcycle Writing Efforts

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

I have a new title. I am the official National Motorcycle Examiner. That means that in addition to the three blog postings I do here each week, I am now making three posts each week to Examiner.com, writing about . . . motorcycles!

Who or what the heck (you may ask) is Examiner.com? I can answer that question.

The San Francisco Examiner is an old, established newspaper in San Francisco. In recent years it has gone through a series of transformation, which you can read about here on Wikipedia.

Most recently, local Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz has purchased the Examiner and has started turning it into a national publication. One aspect of this is Examiner.com, with local home pages for cities across the country.

That’s where I come in. While the Examiner.com sites aggregate hard news feeds from other media, they enlist local experts (their term) to write about their passions. Ernie Tucker found me through this blog and asked me if I’d like to write for them. Oh, please don’t throw me in that briar patch! I said yes.

Now I won’t lie to you, I am indeed making some things do double duty on this blog and on Examiner.com. But so far I’ve only copied one item verbatim from one to the other. In a few other cases I have written about the same things but they were two distinct pieces. For the most part I really am writing six articles a week now instead of three.

So if you’re really interested in reading about motorcycles and motorcycling, and you like my stuff (thank you!), I urge you to become a regular visitor at Examiner.com.

Biker Quote for Today

Enjoy the ride . . . the rest takes care of itself.

Some High Roads Open, Some Still Closed

Monday, June 9th, 2008

We’ve had a phenomenal winter for snowfall in the mountains and that has an impact on some of the best motorcycle roads in the state.

The good news is that Independence Pass, CO 82 between Twin Lakes and Aspen is finally open. From what I’ve heard, though, it is still subject to periodic closures depending on conditions. I’d check first before heading that way.

CO 5 to the top of Mount Evans is also open, as is the Pike’s Peak Highway, which goes to the top of that 14,110-foot mountain.

Trail Ridge Road, on the other hand, is still closed. The Colorado Department of Transportation says the closure is “between Milner Pass and Rainbow Curve due to adverse conditions.” They don’t say when it will be open.

A couple other passes that are still closed are only of interest if you’re the sort who doesn’t mind doing some dirt.

Kebler Pass, coming down from Crested Butte toward Paonia is still closed. You can get to Crested Butte on CO 135, which is paved, but the stretch over Kebler, County Road 12, is dirt.

Likewise, Cottonwood Pass is still closed. Again, you can get up the east side of Cottonwood from Buena Vista on a paved road. Just don’t think you’re going to get down the other side, whether you ride dirt or not.

We love the snowfall. The skiers had a good winter. Our reservoirs will be full this summer. But you’re going to have to be patient before you can ride some of these roads.

Biker Quote for Today

Ride often, ride well, have fun.