Archive for August, 2012

Racing: A Prod And An Impediment To Motorcycle Development

Thursday, August 30th, 2012
An entrant in this year's Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge.

An entrant in this year's Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge.

Racing has a long history of pushing motorcycle development forward, as solutions to punishing conditions on the track migrate to street bikes to make them better and better.

What is less well known is how some areas of motorcycle development have been blocked by the rules promulgated by the powers that be in racing. Specifically, today’s motorcycles would probably be a lot more aerodynamic were it not for limitations imposed by racing.

Craig Vetter is renowned for his fairing designs as well as a lot of other work on motorcycles. As Grand Marshal at the American Motorcyclist Association’s Vintage Motorcycle Days a few weeks ago, he also hosted the Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge. The Challenge solicits entries of bikes that can move at highway speed while getting the greater mileage based on fuel cost, all the while serving as a viable alternative to a car. As the key to meeting that last demand, the bikes are required to be able to carry four bags of groceries.

In the presentation he gave on the purposes of the challenge, Vetter also covered some history that had much to do with why motorcycles look the way they do today. Following World War II, he said, German, Italian, and Japanese designers worked to make motorcycles more aerodynamic, and therefore more economical. The designs they were coming up with looked a lot like the designed used today on the bikes that go to the Bonneville Salt Flats to set land speed records. That is to say, they have a rounded nose and come to a point in the rear, with smooth body paneling over the rest of the bike.

Said Vetter, “They were looking . . . not like what you could buy. Remember the old adage, ‘Win Sunday, Sell Monday’? That’s what motorcycle dealers said. Well, these motorcycles didn’t look like anything you could buy on Monday. And so the FIM, which was the world sanctioning body for racing at that time, was under pressure from the people with money–motorcycle manufacturers–to eliminate streamlining. Now, they could have said, ‘You motorcycle manufacturers, you should change your ways,’ but they didn’t. They bowed to the pressure of the motorcycle industry of the time, and this is what they did. This is why the motorcycles on the track out here today look like they do and do not look like real streamliners, which is very significant.

“We already know that this is real streamlining (showing slide of round-nosed, pointed tail, enclosed body bike). It only takes 3 horse power to take you 60 miles an hour. Here’s what the FIM did with their rules. In one sweep at the end of 1956 they said, ‘Oh, you’ve got to see the front wheel. Oh, you’ve got to cut it all off in front of the axle. You can’t have anything sticking in front of the front axle. Oh, you can’t have anything sticking behind the rear wheel either, behind the rear axle. This is now illegal. Plus, you’ve got to see the rider from the side, everything, you can’t cover him up. You’ve got to see the rider totally from the side. The back end can’t be high either. You’ve got to cut it off 5 inches high. You can’t have anything on the back. The fairing can’t slope any more than 30 degrees.’

“And that’s what we have on the track today. They intentionally gave us dumb streamlining. They could have said, ‘No, we want technology to advance. We’re gonna require tracks to be better, to handle faster speeds.’ They could have said, ‘Hey you guys have got to come up with better brakes. You guys gotta come up with better cooling.’ But they didn’t. They intentionally slowed motorcycles down and made them . . . made it hard to go fast.”

Now you know.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Demo riding the 2013 Victory Hammer 8-Ball

Biker Quote for Today

What in the wide, wide world of sports is a-goin’ on here?

Bicycle Race Aborts Ride To Estes Park

Monday, August 27th, 2012

It shows you what can happen if you ignore other events going on around you. I don’t care about bicycle racing, so I didn’t pay any attention to the USA Pro Challenge races that were going on around the state last week. Apparently neither did Judy or Friggs.

Motorcycle on the Peak to Peak Highway

Cruising on the Peak to Peak Highway.

So we met up on Saturday morning, took a ride up to Black Hawk to have breakfast, and then headed north on the Peak to Peak Highway headed for Estes Park. What a beautiful day for a ride in the mountains.

Then we reached Nederland. Coming into town the traffic was stopped, advancing slowly, car length by car length. As we worked our way ahead we could finally see some flashing lights, so we thought maybe there was an accident.

Getting even closer we were now seeing a lot of cars pulling out and turning around or else taking a left turn into the business district. There was nobody coming the other direction so some braver folks just pulled into the oncoming lane and drove a block or so to get across the creek that divides the town. Then they turned left.

OK, we’re on motorcycles, and motorcycles ought to be allowed to lane split, regardless of whether our legislators think so. I pulled out and cruised along and we made the turn. Now (I thought) we’ll be able to skirt around the roundabout in the center of town where the blockage was centered and get onto the road going west before it swings north again.

Wrong. All access to the highway was blocked by tape. It was apparently part of the route of the bicycle race. But it didn’t make a lot of sense. We could see that the highway was open to the north and the road was then shut down just barely to the west of where we could get to. If they had positioned the barricade about 50 yards further east, everyone could have come that way and gotten through. Couldn’t they have possibly modified the route that much?

Oh well. Nothing to do but go back the way we had come and head down Coal Creek Canyon. Still a beautiful day for a ride in the hills, just not quite the ride we planned.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Demo riding the 2012 Victory Hard-Ball

Biker Quote for Today

All too easy to dump money into these . . . but smile per $ is up there.

An Opportunity to Ride Some Victorys

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012
Me on a Victory motorcycle.

That's me on a Victory in 2010 at the Laughlin River Run.

I’ve got a pretty good idea where I’m going to be tomorrow. Victory Motorcycles is bringing in a truckload of bikes to Grand Prix Motorsports, down at 3105 W. County Line Road, in Littleton, and they’re offering demo rides. Oh boy, a chance to ride some new bikes! Count me in.

In fact, they’ll be around on Saturday as well, so if you have to be in the office on Friday you can still get out there and try out some bikes on Saturday.

I did some test rides on some Victorys a couple years ago, when I was down at the Laughlin River Run. I was surprised how much I liked the Kingpin. It was a very good-looking bike, sat low, and the reach to the foot and hand controls was comfortable. I’m not a cruiser guy but if I had unlimited storage space and unlimited cash I could see owning one.

That’s one of the things I like about doing demo rides. You never know when you’ll test ride a bike and find that it is wonderful. And you also might get to find out that the bike you’ve been developing a hankering for is maybe not so well suited to you and your style of riding as you thought. Nothing beats a test ride.

So if you see me at Grand Prix tomorrow, say hi. I love to actually meet the people who read this blog.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Motorcycle touring with Ball O’ String

Biker Quote for Today

I don’t always ride street bikes, but when I do I prefer V-Stroms.

A New Motorcycle I Would Love

Monday, August 20th, 2012
Jon Siedel and the Honda CB1100

American Honda's Jon Seidel poses with the CB1100.

I saw a motorcycle it was impossible not to love recently. At least impossible for me not to love.

That’s it in the photo above, a Honda CB1100. Of course I’m partial to a bike like that, considering that one of my rides is a 1980 CB750 Custom.

I saw this bike recently at the Motorcycle Sport Touring Association’s STAR 2012 rally up in Avon. Jon Seidel, who works in the motorcycle press department for American Honda, had brought the bike to show and to solicit responses from potential buyers.

As Jon explained, the bike went on sale in Japan, Australia, and New Zealand in 2010 and was made available in Europe this year. The question is whether it will be brought to the U.S.

Here’s a quick run-through of some of the specs:

  • Inline 4
  • 1100cc
  • Air/oil-cooled engine
  • Dual disks in front, single disk in back
  • Latest generation combined braking system–only linked rear to front, so use the front brake and only get front, but use the back brake and get front and back braking
  • 4-gallon tank
  • Wheelbase 68 inches
  • Seat height 30-30.5 inches
  • 4 into 1 exhaust
  • 18″ wheels
  • Chain drive

Jon was a good one to be showing the bike because he loves it.

“This is the motorcycle I want to buy. I love this motorcycle. I love the look, everything about it,” he said. “It’s a period-type piece. Our thought about it is that, for a Honda fan, this has a lot of Honda signature DNA in it. It’s an extremely enjoyable motorcycle to ride. It puts a grin on your face.”

One point of interest for me is the chain drive. My old CB has chain drive and I do not miss it when I’m on my shaft-driven Kawasaki Concours. Apparently, times have changed.

“Chains nowadays are nothing at all like they were even five years ago,” said Jon. “These are sealed o-ring chains, they will go thousands and thousands of miles, and require minimum — almost no maintenance or lubrication. If you knew what chains were in the past, this is nothing like that any more.”

That’s good to know.

So yeah, I’d love to have this bike. But Honda better not count on me buying one if they do bring it here. At least not unless my old CB dies. When I buy a bike–or a car–I stick with it for years. If everyone was like me our whole economy would grind to a halt. But if I can pick up a used one in maybe 10 years, that could happen.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Motorcycle touring with Ball O’ String

Biker Quote for Today

So many bikes, so many roads … not enough time.

OFMC Rides 24th Annual Bike Trip

Thursday, August 16th, 2012
The OFMC at the Grand Canyon

The OFMC at the Grand Canyon.

You’d hardly know it from reading this blog but the OFMC took its 24th annual summer trip a couple weeks ago. As always, it was a good one. We’ve never had a bad one.

I’ve already told the story of how it started out with all of the group gathering in Grand Junction, except me, because I had a flat tire and ended up spending the night in Eagle. The following day they all rode on to Marysvale, UT, and after my bike was rideable again I headed there, too. I rolled in around 9 p.m. to finally join the gang.

Up to the point of turning off I-70 to get to Marysvale, the ride was nothing special. I mean, it was interstate. But then heading up that canyon on U.S. 89 was another thing entirely. I’ve never been on that stretch of road before but I’m sure I will be again. Very, very nice. Utah is just gorgeous, you know?

The place we stayed was pretty interesting, too. It’s called the Big Rock Candy Mountain Resort. It’s named for the hills around there. That gives you an idea.

We followed U.S. 89 south through Panguitch and took UT 143 over to Cedar Breaks National Monument, the first in a series of national parks and monuments we visited on this trip. UT 148 took us down to UT 14, which carried us down Cedar Canyon to Cedar City. Then we hopped onto I-15 and blasted down to Mesquite, NV.

After two days of gambling, golf, and sitting in the pool, we backtracked as far as St. George and caught UT 9, which took us to Zion National Park. We hadn’t come to see the park this time so we just passed through on the highway, but that’s a pretty spectacular ride on its own. East of the park we picked up U.S. 89 again and cruised down to Kanab.

Just beyond Kanab, U.S. 89 splits off an Alternate 89, which we followed to Jacob Lake, AZ, which sits at the intersection to the road that runs down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. That was our stop for two nights as rode down into the park on the intervening day. Our first night there it was chilly and rainy so we sat around on the deck of one of our cabins wearing our rain gear. The rooms were too small to get all of us into one and there was no roof over the deck. So it was rain gear.

The ride into the park was especially satisfying for me considering the troubles I had experienced the last time the OFMC came here about 20 years ago. I got to see the sights I didn’t see then and I got to drink that beer on the patio of the Grand Canyon Lodge, overlooking the canyon, that I missed out of back then.

We backtracked from Jacob Lake to Kanab and almost to Panguitch on 89. Just a tip: if you go this way some time, the view headed north, coming down off the plateau that forms the North Rim, is kick ass. We didn’t realize it coming the other way but heading down it was an “Oh my goodness!” moment.

Just south of Panguitch we turned east on UT 12 to Bryce Canyon National Park. Having been there pretty recently, and having been without WiFi for four days, I didn’t go into the park, choosing instead to sit in the Best Western and use their internet connection. The rest of the guys went in. One thing we saw again and again on this trip was the amazing number of foreign–mostly Asian–tourists. They thought we were pretty interesting and in several instances asked to have photos taken with us. That happened again in Bryce, but one of the kids didn’t realize Randy’s exhaust pipes were hot and as everyone crowded together he got a pretty bad burn on his leg. Yeah, he’ll remember that part of his trip for a long time.

From Bryce we continued on 12 to Escalante, Boulder, and up to Torrey. From Torrey, U.S. 24 carried us through Capitol Reef National Park, to Hanksville and up to where we got back on I-70 heading east. A little east of Green River we turned south on U.S. 191, which cruises right along the boundary to Arches National Park on its way to Moab. We took a sidetrip that would have taken us into Canyonlands National Park if we had gone one way, but took us instead to Dead Horse Point State Park. The view there is of the confluence of the Green River and the Colorado River.

After a night in Moab we rode UT 128 along the Colorado River as it continues to form the boundary of Arches, along the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway, and back up to I-70. Then it was a blast on I-70 to home. Another OFMC trip in the books.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Motorcycle touring with Ball O’ String

Biker Quote for Today

I enjoyed being lost in such a nice place minus the gravel.

A Couple Riders In The Rain

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
wet motorcycle

My Kawi has been getting wet quite frequently of late.

An appropriate biker quote at the end of this post would be, “If you don’t ride in the rain, you don’t ride.” I’ve already used that, though, so we’ll just mention it here.

I’ve done a lot of riding in the rain recently, most particularly yesterday. Judy and I had been up in Eagle over the weekend, doing some riding with Willie and Jungle and others as part of a tour they were running. As you may recall, Willie runs Ball O’ String Custom Adventure Tours and when she has only one paying customer on a particular tour, she invites friends along to make a larger, more fun group. Of course we pay our own way.

We went up on Friday, had a couple good days of riding Saturday and Sunday, and then when Monday morning dawned we found the sky grey and dripping. No problem, we have good rain gear.

As we layered the stuff on, I offered Judy my rubber booties because she just had hiking boots, while my riding boots are pretty water-resistant all on their own. Jungle had a pair of neoprene gloves–the stuff they make wet-suits out of–that are too small for him but fit me perfectly, so I also gave Judy my rubber mittens. She stood there like a little kid getting all prepared by Mom to go play in the snow and when we were done there was no way any moisture was going to reach her other than the occasional drops that do get in under your helmet.

We took off and quickly ran into what proved to be the worst of the storm. Just the day before, between Eagle and Vail, we had seen a car that had apparently hydroplaned into the guard rail, and the ruts in the road in the car tire tracks were filled with water. Now here we were on that same stretch of road with those same ruts filled with water again. Yes, I was nervous. I stuck as best I could to the crown of the road but that’s not always possible. I tip my hat to the people who design tires for doing their job well. We had no problems.

Heading up over Vail Pass it was cold and colder. It doesn’t matter that this is August, when you get up over 10,000 feet it’s cooler than at lower elevations. Once we got over the top, though, I felt good knowing that was the worst we would be encountering. The rain continued to just past Georgetown and then the sky cleared a bit. Fortunately, it didn’t actually get warm until we were in the city, or else we’d have been stopping alongside the road to peel all this gear off.

Along the way I couldn’t help but wonder about Tom and Marsha, the paying customers we had been riding with, who I knew were also headed back to Denver. I knew Tom had good rain gear but as far as I was aware, neither of them had much to wear for warmth. Plus, they only had half helmets that Mile High Harley-Davidson had supplied to them. I couldn’t help but suspect the ride was going to be much more unpleasant for them than for us. And I did hear from Willie today that they got there safely but, yes, they got very cold.

So if there’s anyone out there reading this who is planning a riding trip to Colorado, this is why this site has the Good to Know page. It opens with this paragraph:

If you’re coming to ride Colorado’s passes and canyons in the summer you may think you won’t need warm clothing. You would be wrong. With some passes higher than 12,000 feet, it is not unusual to run into temperatures in the 40s even in August. Snow is not out of the question. Be sure to bring all your winter gear: gloves, electric vest, leather chaps, whatever.

Believe it.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
More parks and more memories on OFMC 2012 ride

Biker Quote for Today

You’re a biker wannabe if you don’t own a rain suit.

Iron Butt Association To Meet In Denver Next Week

Friday, August 10th, 2012

I was thinking I’d like to go to the Iron Butt Association’s “InterNational Meet” in Denver next week but I may be late to be getting press credentials. Just too busy these last few weeks. We’ll see.

Iron Butt Association logo

The Iron Butt Association logo.

Regardless, the IBA is going to be meeting here. They came to Denver a couple years ago and apparently liked it so much they’re coming back. I have several friends who are IBA members and I suspect they may be going.

So what do they do at an IBA gathering? Well, since you asked, here’s a listing of at least some of the event:

  • Ride the Rockies & Informal Lunch at BeauJeau’s in Idaho Springs
  • Route & Ride with the Big Dawgs – Win a paid spot in the 2013 IBR – Routing Competition for the first 50 riders with multiday rally experience – Wednesday August 15th
  • Rallying 101 – 3 part seminar for Rally Rookies. Learn rally basics in a real world format hosted by Iron Butt Rally Veterans. Open to 50 first time rallyists. Wednesday August 15th
  • — Rally Basics: Routing seminar with IBR Vet Brian Roberts & Rally Photo Tips with IBA Photographer Steve Hobart; Wednesday August 15
  • — 10 hour rally with Rallymasters Terry & Lynda Lahman and 1999 IBR winner George Barnes; Thursday August 16, 4am – 1pm
  • — Scoring Table Survival Techniques – real world scoring using IBR scorers Thursday August 16, 1-4pm
  • Iron Butt Association Scorer Certification Class – Thursday, August 16 9:00 – 11:30 am
  • Cop Cones Competition – Friday, August 17, 4:30pm
  • Fix A Flat Class – A hands on seminar taught by Brian Roberts, Thursday, August 16, 1-4 pm
    Back by popular demand – Great program of spouse activities hosted by Paula Behm

Now, if that all sounds interesting but you’re not registered you may be out of luck. The website says slots are limited and they sell out quickly. Still, if you’re interested in becoming an Iron Butt rider, I’d be willing to be that if you hang out at the Denver Marriott Tech Center you’ll find lots of people more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Heck, maybe I’ll just do that myself. Who needs a press pass?

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
OFMC checks off more national parks

Biker Quote for Today

Ride for the soul!

My Lesson In Changing A Motorcycle Tire

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
Loading my Connie onto the tow truck.

Loading my Connie onto the tow truck.

I’ve thought for a long time that I ought to learn how to replace a tire on my motorcycle. Having a flat on the first day out of the annual OFMC trip seemed to offer the perfect opportunity. I had the bike towed to Eagle, where my friend Jungle Fuhrman would help me get moving again. Let’s do this job.

My initial intention was to tell Jungle I wanted to do the work myself and just have him give me directions. But he dove right in and I stood and watched closely. The first thing he did was remove the cotter pin from the rear axle. Then he demonstrated to me that I will never change the tire on my bike because the next step was to remove the bolt that the cotter pin held in place. The problem is that the bolt is recessed and in order to get to it you have to have a wrench with a lip that reaches down into the recess. Count me out right there.

So I watched. In order to fully access the various bolts it was necessary to remove the mufflers. That was simple enough, just comprising two bolts per muffler. Then Jungle worked the axle loose and extracted it from the left side. Here he was faced with a problem. He knew from working on his own Concours that he was not going to be able to get the wheel out from under the fender without doing one of two things. What he had done on his own bike, and what he made it clear he was prepared to with mine if I consented, was to cut the lower six inches or so off the rear fender. I didn’t like that idea so I declined to say “Sure, go ahead,” as I knew he wanted me to say.

That meant he also needed to remove the shaft housing where the rotation of the drive shaft is converted 90 degrees to power the rear wheel. That was a matter of removing four bolts and I was pleased to find it wasn’t that much effort. Now the wheel could be pulled out and we could go to work on the tire.

Jungle’s tire-changing tools are over at a friend’s house so we went there for that part of the work. I had seen this done often enough that there was nothing new here. The tire was pulled off and Jungle applied a patch. He put the tire back on the wheel and aired it up and . . . it still leaked. Off came the tire once again and now we went to another friend’s shop to get a tool to truly prepare the inner tire surface to take good hold of the patch. With a patch applied in a way that had to be good enough, the tire was remounted, aired, and . . . it still leaked.

Now Jungle was thinking that there must be some damage to the plies allowing air to pass through and out. Which meant the tire could not be saved. A plug might work, or it might not. But it would be better to replace it.

Of course, this really hurt considering that I had just bought that tire six days earlier and had only put 1,500 miles on it, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. Normally, getting a replacement tire in Eagle on a Saturday could have been simply out of the question, leaving me to get even further behind my friends and possibly ending my trip right there.

But this is where the amazing good fortune of having this occur just 55 miles from Eagle came into play. Jungle has a Concours just like mine so I figured he just might have a tire on hand. In fact he had two. One was a brand new tire that he had bought for another bike, but it was the right size. Only thing is it was bias ply and the Connie usually takes radials. Plus, that would mean mixing a radial front with a bias-ply rear. The other was an old tire off Jungle’s Concours. He and Willie do a lot of traveling and when the tires on the bike aren’t going to be good enough to last the entire trip he will put on new tires before the trip. Thus, he had a partially used, radial Avon tire of the right size. My tires were Dunlops so that meant mixing a Dunlop front with an Avon rear, but I figured that was the best bet.

So Jungle mounted up the Avon, got everything put back together, and I was in business! I was able to leave Eagle around 2 p.m. that afternoon and then had to do some hard riding to catch up with the guys, who had since gone on from Grand Junction to Marysvale, Utah. I arrived there around 9 p.m. and finally the OFMC was together and off on this year’s ride.

Just a word about Jungle. He’s a mechanic but doesn’t work out of a shop. He is an I-come-to-you mechanic, so if you’re in the Eagle area and need a motorcycle or auto mechanic, give him a call. He’s in the phone book.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Problems, miscues kick off OFMC 2012 ride

Biker Quote for Today

Before enlightenment, change oil and adjust valves; after enlightenment, change oil and adjust valves.

Do Your Own Motorcycle Repairs Without Voiding Your Warranty

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

The following is a guest post provided by ProTool Warehouse.

Man working on motorcycle. Image Source:

Man working on motorcycle. Image Source:

Due to misleading claims made by motorcycle manufactures/distributors regarding warranty fulfillment requirements, you may be wondering if it is possible for you to do your own motorcycle repairs without voiding your warranty. Contrary to popular misconception, you are allowed to perform repairs using your own equipment and aftermarket parts, without having to worry about violating your manufacturer’s warranty.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975

Almost 4 decades ago, the U.S. Government enacted a warranty-governing statute, sponsored by Sen. Warren Magnuson and U.S. Representative John Moss, known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The “Tie-In Sales” provision within this act actually declares it illegal for a dealership or manufacturer to imply that a warranty will be voided if repairs are performed independently or with the use of aftermarket parts. In other words, a manufacturer is not allowed to require a consumer to purchase a part/service from a specific company in order for their warranty to remain valid, as this would create a conflict of interest in which manufacturers could force artificial monopolization by coercing people to buy from them only.

Federal Trade Commission Legislation

Furthermore, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) reiterates the provisions of the Magnuson-Moss Act in an online report entitled “Auto Warranties, Routine Maintenance, and Repairs: Is Using the Dealer a Must?” which can be found on the FTC official website. In summary, the report states that you are not obligated to purchase your parts or repairs from the dealer whom you bought your motorcycle from, and that any dealer who tells you this is in direct violation of U.S. statutes.

Other Reasons to Repair Your Own Motorcycle

Now that you know your warranty won’t be voided if you decide to repair your motorcycle independently, consider the advantages of doing so:

Conducting your own motorcycle repairs will let you save money in two ways – you’ll be purchasing the necessary parts directly (instead of through a dealership/repair shop), and you won’t be paying for the labor involved. You’ll also gain knowledge about how your bike works, so if you ever need to perform emergency repairs in the future, you’ll be well prepared to do so. Also, once you’ve become knowledgeable about the mechanics of your motorcycle, the saying “if you want something done right, do it yourself” holds true, as you can be sure that repairs are performed to your specifications. If you’re going to be working on your bike independently, you may want to begin comparing specialty tool sets to ensure you’re equipped with the necessary hardware.

Another Motorcycle First For Me: A Flat Tire

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012
Concours being winched onto tow truck.

My Concours being winched onto the tow truck.

I had just had new tires put on my Concours on Sunday, in Columbus, Ohio, and I rode on home, arriving in Denver on Wednesday. And as I have mentioned previously, I got my first motorcycle speeding ticket less than 50 miles from home on that 17-day, 3,878-mile trip. On Friday I set out mid-afternoon with Brett and Randy, two of the OFMC, on our annual summer trip. We were to meet up with everyone else in Grand Junction. Jason was supposed to be riding with us but he was delayed so he would be along later.

Nearing Rifle, my bike started handling horribly. I was in the rear but I had to pull over immediately. It turned out my brand new rear tire was flat. Not a defect, as I later learned, but a puncture. I tried to put the bike on the side stand but with the tire flat the stand tipped it just past vertical, so it was inclined to topple over onto the right. To my consternation, it was totally impossible for me to rock the bike up onto the center stand. So I had no choice but to standd there holding the bike up until someone came along to help me.

Of course I figured the guys would notice I was not with them, would pull over to wait, and eventually they would come back to find me. But I just waited. Meanwhile, whenever a motorcycle came along on the highway I waved to them to help me. The first one went by without stopping and the second one did stop, though it was a tenth of a mile later before they could stop from 75 mph. As they walked back to me a guy in a pick-up stopped to help. He was a big, strong guy, but it was all the two of us could manage to get the bike onto the center stand. But we did, and I could finally do something else, like, oh, you know, call for assistance.

While I was standing there, though, I had thought about what to do and concluded my best bet was to try to reach my friends in Eagle, Willie and Jungle, to see if they could help me out. They have a Concours like mine and Jungle is a mechanic. This could be a good thing.

I called and spoke to Willie, who put me through to Jungle, and Jungle said sure, have the bike towed here and we’ll see what we can do. I called the AMA roadside assistance number and told them my situation and they said they’d check for tow services and call me back. While I was waiting, Jason came along. He was very surprised to find me standing there by the road, but by then all was taken care of and there was nothing he could do. What he did do was call Brett, who told him they were in Grand Junction. Where was he (Jason)?

“I’m here on the highway outside Rifle with Ken. He has a flat tire.” Oh. Brett said they had stopped and waited for me three times but I never caught up with them. Duh. Thanks guys.

So Jason went on and the tow truck took me back to Eagle. Jungle said it was too late to get started on the bike that night and Willie said I’d be staying with them. That was fine, and we had an enjoyable evening. The next morning Jungle and I got right on it, me watching him and asking questions so I could learn how to do this myself. Ha! Without theh proper tools I’m not doing this myself anytime.

First we tried patching the tire, but after two patches failed there were two options. Jungle had a new tire of the right size, but bias-ply. My Connie wants radials. He also had an old tire he had taken off his Concours when he was leaving on a trip that would have been too much for the tire. Rather than get new tires mid-trip, he started with new rubber. This tire was the right size and radial, but an Avon. My tires were Dunlops. No matter, the Avon went on.

I was finally on my way at 2 p.m. on Saturday, riding hard to meet up with the guys, who were now headed for Marysvale, Utah. I rolled in there around 9 p.m. and it was time for my vacation to begin. Oh, and although I had expected Brett and Randy to immediately come tell me something like, “Oh hey, we’re really sorry for being so stupid and not going back for you,” if fact, neither of them has ever said one word about it. Thanks guys. You’re real pals.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner

Hard riding winds up Vintage Motorcycle Days trip

Biker Quote for Today

“Remember that an enduro tests the endurance of three things: your machine, your body, and your wits. Only one has to fail to keep you from reaching the finish line.” — Cycle World March 1966