Archive for the ‘Motorcycles’ Category

How to Go 200 MPH with a Stock Kawi Engine

Thursday, June 27th, 2013
Streamlined Motorcycles

Streamlined motorcycles at last year's Vintage Motorcycle Days. That raggedy-looking green bike is Vic Valdes, who made his streamlining out of discarded political posters.

I spoke with Craig Vetter last week, working on an article that I hope I’m not too late getting to Rider magazine. Vetter, as you probably know, is the designer of the Windjammer fairing and a lot of other things, and these days he’s really focused on fuel efficiency.

Vetter has worked out the design for what he calls The Last Vetter Fairing, which is body work that creates a streamlined motorcycle with upright seating and room to carry four bags of groceries.

He told me that in a recent test ride, with two identical motorcycles, one streamlined, the one that was streamlined got double the gas mileage of the stock bike. But he also talked about the power you need to push a bike down the road at 70 mph, and that comes out somewhere in the 20-25 horsepower range.

And here’s the kicker. If you’ve got too much power you’re not going to see any major miles per gallon increase with streamlining, he said, because all that power eats up too much gas.

“What you would notice is you could go probably 200 miles an hour. But where is it legal to go 200 miles an hour?”

I get the point but it still kind of tickles my fancy to think of my Concours going that fast. “I hit 189 miles an hour but the dang thing only gave me 68 miles to the gallon! What a gas hog!”

So anyway, it was a really good conversation and I couldn’t begin to use all the interesting stuff in that one short article for Rider so all the extra will make for some good blog posts here. Stay tuned.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Only a biker knows . . .: Motorcycle wit and wisdom, #27

Biker Quote for Today

I wanna ride this road!

An Email Hello From Someone I Quoted

Thursday, November 8th, 2012
dual-sport bike on gravel road

Gwen wouldn't think twice about taking this road.

If you’ve been reading this blog you know that I end each post with a “Biker Quote for Today.” I gather these quotes from a lot of places. Some I just run across; others I find by searching. One of my most fertile places to search is the discussions on Adventure Riders, or ADV for short.

More than most motorcycle forums, the ADV folks really get into putting cool, funny, interesting remarks in their signatures. Anytime I’m on the site I keep my eyes open to see what gems I can find.

One such gem was the quote I used on Oct. 22, at the end of my “Hoping For Warm Hands In Winter Riding” post. It read, “There’s no adventure in turning around. — Shoganai”

Well guess who I heard from: Gwen Phillips (aka Shoganai).

Gwen said she had been searching on Google “for an old thread I started on an old forum years ago” and lo and behold, “I was stunned to find something I said to Jim aka Drif10 this year when he came to visit our home.” So she was tickled and wrote that she was honored to be quoted.

And actually, I had heard first from Drif10. He noted in regard to Gwen’s quote that, “And she isn’t kidding about that quote, either. She’ll take a road bike places that make me think twice about taking my dirt bike into.”

Good for you Gwen.

This is actually the second time I’ve heard from someone I quoted. Believe me, I really enjoy getting these emails. And I really enjoy the quotes. Some day I’m going to put together a book with the quotes and pictures that match the quotes, more or less. Really, I am. I’ve already got part of it done. But at this rate it will be a few more years before I finish it. I guarantee that when it’s ready you’ll hear about it here.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Book review: How to Ride Off-Road Motorcycles

Biker Quote for Today

Bones heal, chicks dig scars, pain is temporary, glory is forever. — Evel Knievel

Motorcycle Expo Is Sunday At Aurora Town Center

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Lots of motorcycles at Laughlin River Run

No, it probably won't be this packed on Sunday at the Motorcycle Expo but wouldn't it be cool if it were?

I know where I’m going to be at least part of the day on Sunday. ABATE of Colorado is putting on a Motorcycle Expo at Aurora Town Center, which is what they now call what used to be the Aurora Mall.

I know that Terry Howard and the crew at ABATE have put a lot of effort into this thing. Here’s a list of what will be going on.

  • Noise testing — See how loud your bike really is, and how it compares to legal limits.
  • Police demos — These guys are some of the best bike handlers you’ve ever seen. You wish you were this good.
  • Ride in bike show — Enter your bike and see how it compares.
  • Riding gear vendors — See what’s new, what’s too cool to pass up.
  • Swap meet vending for used parts — A must-check-out for those of us on older bikes.
  • MOST and SmarTrainer display — Learn about rider training opportunities.
  • Motorcycle games — Set up by Don Gunn. Have fun on your bike.
  • Motorcycle dealer displays and demos — See what’s available all in one place.
  • Riding organizations — Colorado Sportbike Club, Motorcycle Roadracing Association, dirt-bike school info

And more. The groups sponsoring this event include:

Huh? Don’t know what the scoop is with Erica Rae’s kids. Maybe I’ll find out.

So as I say, I’m definitely going to be there on Sunday. If you’re there at the same time, say hi.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Zero Motorcycles reports massive sales growth in first quarter 2012

Biker Quote for Today

I ride, therefore I am.

Show Off Your Riding Pix, Win A Trip

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
motorcycles on Skyline Drive in Colorado

The OFMC rides Skyline Drive.

This just in from the folks at EagleRider. They’re celebrating their 20th anniversary this year and have set up a contest to bring the winner a nice prize and bring themselves some good PR. (I assume you know that EagleRider rents motorcycles; I don’t really need to explain that, do I?)

So in this social media era, of course the first step in entering the contest is to “like” EagleRider on Facebook. When you’ve done that, right below the Like button you’ll see an EagleRider emblem, with text below that reads 20 Years on the Highway. Click that. What they want you to do is enter a photo from one of your rides. Ultimately, one person’s entry will be declared the winner, “voted on by the fans,” and that person will receive an all-expenses paid trip to EagleRider’s 20th anniversary celebration in Los Angeles. They don’t say exactly when that will be. Also, once a week, some random entrant will receive an EagleRider t-shirt.

So what the heck, I went ahead and entered. That photo at top is my entrant. That’s Skyline Drive down by Canon City. And just so you’ll know, apparently you can only enter once. I tried a second time with a different photo and got a message that I had reached the limit on number of entries.

The deadline for entry is May 15. Even if you don’t feel like entering, what’s really kind of interesting is looking at what other people have entered. To do that, look for the little link near the bottom of the page titled “See the entries.”

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
May is Motorcycle Awareness Month

Biker Quote for Today

You know you’re becoming addicted to riding when you now leave for work early because you are now riding around the town instead of driving directly to work!

Thief Hops On Bike At Steele’s, Rides Off

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

If your neighbor came home about a week ago with a new motorcycle, specifically a blue 2007 Yamaha YZF R1, you might be in a position to earn yourself a nice reward. It seems a prospective “buyer” asked to look at one of those at Steele’s Cycles South, 2025 W. Union, and as the sale guy was pulling his hoodie off the “buyer” hopped on and rode away. Good-bye bike.

stolen 2007 Yamaha YZF R-1

Spot this bike and you might earn yourself a reward.

That’s a picture of the actual bike there. Steele’s has posted a notice on Craigslist and elsewhere that they are offering a “substantial” reward information. The theft occurred on March 15.

According to the notice, the bike (last six of vin # 007178) was taken by “a young Hispanic male about five foot nine, 135 pounds believed to own a late model Yamaha R6 and residing in the Englewood/Littleton area.”

Greg Zick, the salesman who was dealing with the guy, said he had been in previously looking at the bike, so he was pretty pleased to see him show up again. The fellow asked to have the bike turned on so he could hear it run, Zick went to pull off his hoodie, and bingo!

Now, my bet is that that bike will never be seen on the road again. If this guy already has a comparable bike, I’ll bet he figured this would be a good way to get an inexpensive parts bike. Some people are just jerks.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
AMA declares April is ‘Get Out and Ride! Month’

Biker Quote for Today

Squid: The definition of stupid.

Viper Motorcycles Come To Colorado

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

The Viper Diamondback

Interested in picking up a Viper motorcycle? What? You’ve never heard of them? Neither had I, but they will soon be on sale in Glenwood Springs at Aspen Valley Harley-Davidson. So let’s find out a little bit about this outfit.

First off, the Viper Motorcycle Company is not a new company. I’m guessing that fans of expensive custom bikes have been aware of their existence for some time. Call me ignorant. As near as I can tell, they released their first models in 2008. The company is based in Minnesota and built a production plant in Alabama. The first model, the 152-cubic-inch Diamondback, just rolled off the assembly line. And, as you can see from that promo above, they’re claiming it to be the fastest production V-twin super cruiser in the world.

Hey, it’s a nice looking bike. I’ll definitely give them that. Since they’re not ringing on my phone to offer me a test ride I’ll direct you to this ride report in case you want to learn more. And to get the lowdown on features, go here and then click on the “Features” tab.

But anyway, the actual news today is, as I said at the beginning, that they’ve taken on Aspen Valley Harley-Davidson as a dealer. The dealership’s co-owner, Mike Lehman, is also co-owner of MBL Motorsports in Palm Beach, FL, and these are the first two “gold” dealerships that Viper has announced. What that “gold” refers to I don’t know, but they also have what they call “platinum” dealers.

And now you know where you can go buy one.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Hoka Hey finishers did get money

Biker Quote for Today


MP3: A Three-Wheeled Scooter of the Leaning Variety

Monday, August 1st, 2011

I’ve ridden motorcycle trikes before and I’ve never cared much for them. They don’t lean and they’re too much like driving a car for my taste. So I’ve been very interested for a long time in trying out the Piaggio MP3 scooter, which has three wheels but is not at all the same as a trike in its handling.

Piaggio MP3 above the Coors Brewery in Golden.With abundant thanks to Tai Beldock at Erico Motorsports, I can now report that I have ridden an MP3 and it really is everything I expected it to be.

The difference with an MP3 is what Piaggio calls its “parallelogram suspension.” What they’re saying is that whether you’re leaning into a turn, one wheel’s going into a pothole, or whatever, those two front wheels remain parallel to each other. It’s like having one wheel in front in terms of handling, but two wheels in terms of stability.

That’s not to say that, trike-like, the MP3 won’t fall over; it will. Remember, it handles just like a two-wheeled motorcycle. If you come up to a stop on a regular bike and don’t put your feet down you’d better have exceptionally good balance. Same with the MP3, except that the MP3 has a button you can push at below 5 mph that will lock the fork and keep you upright. The lock disengages as soon as you start rolling again. Still, I found it easier to just treat it like any other bike and put my feet down.

Thanks to the elements I had a good chance to test the MP3’s stability. Going up and down Lookout Mountain there was gravel in many of the curves and having three wheels was very comforting. Later it rained heavily and splashing through puddles and turning on rain-slicked streets the MP3 again felt very secure.

This scoot–and it is a scooter, no gear-shifting going on here–comes in three engine sizes, 250cc, 400cc, and 500cc. While the 250 will theoretically run at interstate speeds, when I tried it I felt best in the right-hand lane. The bigger models do go faster, though not much. The main thing the bigger engines offer is increased acceleration and carrying capacity.

Now, I’m not about to go adding a scooter to my garage any time soon, but presumably decades in the future these big bikes I ride now are going to be a bit much for me. A lot of guys I know say they figure someday they’ll have a trike. Not me. Come that time I’d rather move down to something lighter, whether it’s a motorcycle or a scooter. And the MP3, or whatever like it is on the market at that point, would definitely be an option I would consider. Meanwhile, for anyone today who finds the stability of three wheels appealing, the MP3 is definitely something I would suggest looking at.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Another reason to wear ear plugs when motorcycle riding

Biker Quote for Today

I am in the relentless pursuit of 6th gear. I keep trying and it still isn’t there.

The Progress of Electric Motorcycles

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Stunt rider circles Hooters girls

It was cold, and later it got wet, but I went over to the Fay Myers spring Open House Saturday as planned, to enjoy the show and ride some Zero motorcycles. It was worth it.

The stunt riders did the sort of stunts that by now I’ve seen many times, so even though I can’t come close to doing what they do it’s just not that big a thrill. However, there was a guy doing trials demos and he was definitely impressive. I want to see more of that.

My main reason for going was to demo ride some Zero electric motorcycles. I rode a few about a year ago and the improvements in that year are amazing. Last year we stayed in a parking lot and considering the capabilities of the machines, that was adequate. This year we got out on the street and that just had to be. There’s no way you can experience the power of the new S (street) and DS (dual sport) Zeros in a parking lot. They go fast!

And the Zero guys tell me they also go farther. I can’t wait to see what electrics can do in five years.

So I chatted with a couple of the Zero guys a bit and they filled me in on where things are headed. I asked first if Zero is planning to offer bikes with gears, as Brammo is now doing. There are issues with that, I was told. Adding gears would add weight, which is something they definitely don’t want to do until battery power is better. And I haven’t checked this out so it’s just hearsay, but they guy told me they recently had a race where the new Zeros outran the new geared Brammo. So why add gears?

The Zero SHe also told me that in this race they were competing against gas-powered bikes and the electrics just smoked the gas bikes. Even giving them a head start–I can’t remember how much, three minutes?–he said the electrics all overtook the gassers by the third lap.

One of the bikes I rode was the Zero XU, which in truth seems to be pretty much a scooter. It doesn’t have the power or range of the S and DS and is only intended for running around town. So I asked if Zero was considering selling a scooter. The issue there, I was told, is that it costs in terms of design, production lines, and warehouse space every time you add a new model. There’s a lot the company would like to do but until they can ramp up sales significantly those things are just not going to happen.

One aspect of doing this demoing at Fay Myers is that Zero is looking to sign up dealers to carry their bikes. They’re especially interested in the Colorado market because of the terrific tax credits this state offers for electric vehicles. The highest price Zero is the DS, which has an MSRP of $10,495. With state and federal tax credits, we can buy them here for $5,395. With that bike’s improvements, that’s something worth considering, especially since operating the thing costs about a penny a mile in electricity. How does that measure up to your $3.67 a gallon gas?

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Demo riding 2011 Zero electric motorcycles shows huge advancement

Biker Quote for Today

If loud pipes save lives imagine what learning to ride that thing would do!!!

Not the Big-Time Harley Guys I Thought

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

I want this motorcycle (he said)

We all have misconceptions about those things we know little of. Me, I don’t know a lot about Southern motorcyclists so I have what are probably a lot of wrong ideas. I seem to have cleared up one of them, though.

I’m down in South Carolina right now visiting my mother, and over the weekend I went to the Progressive International Motorcycle Show. The show itself was no big deal; kind of a disappointment actually. What surprised me was the parking lots.

Never having ridden a motorcycle in the South, or very much east of the Mississippi River, I had the idea that nearly all these old southern boys would be sitting astride Harleys. I’m not sure why I had that idea, but I did.

Well guess what? Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure there were a lot of Harleys in the parking lot of the show, but it was amazing how many other bikes there were. Unlike big events in Colorado where, unless it’s a brand event such as a BMW rally, Harleys outnumber everything else combined, it wasn’t so here. In fact, while I have no hard numbers, I’d estimate that there were no more than 20 percent Harleys and the rest was everything else.

For one, there were just a ton of sport bikes. Maybe this has to do with how popular racing is in the South. Not too many Harley baggers to be found in the races, except perhaps some Sportsters.

But even for the baggers I saw a lot of Gold Wings, Stars, BMWs, FJRs, you name it. Plus plenty of dual-sport bikes, which makes sense when you figure all the great unpaved roads there are around here. Kind of like in Colorado.

So I stand corrected. Now I wonder what other misconceptions I have about Southern riders. Probably what I need to do is spend a few weeks riding through this part of the country. That would be nice. I just need to fit it into my schedule; that’s always the hard part. Maybe next year.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
>More on helmets and visibility

Biker Quote for Today

Don’t die wondering, die wandering.

Guest Post: Have You Ever Thought About Becoming a Motorcycle Mechanic?

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

OK, I don’t make a regular practice of it, but I was actually approached twice recently about running guest posts here. The first had to do with motorcycle insurance and this second one is about a career as a motorcycle mechanic. I just want to note that I’m not getting anything for running these, and I wouldn’t run them if I didn’t think they contained information that might be useful to readers. I’m assuming there won’t be any more any time soon.

Have You Ever Thought About Becoming a Motorcycle Mechanic?

Which state has the highest concentration of its work force in the motorcycle mechanics field? If you think it’s Wyoming, you’re correct! Fortunately, there are plenty of job opportunities across the country for qualified motorcycle mechanics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 18,800 motorcycle mechanics in the United States in 2008. However, only 5 of them knew what they were doing! Just kidding, of course. But nevertheless, there is some demand out there for well-trained, knowledgeable, hard-working mechanics.

The median wage for motorcycle mechanics in 2008 was $15.08 per hour. The highest paid 10 percent earned over $24.27 per hour. The lowest paid 10 percent made less than $9.76 per hour. With any luck, you’ll be at the higher end of this range if you decide to enter this field.

Dealerships typically pay the most and employ the largest number of motorcycle mechanics. Some of the higher-paying jobs require the skills necessary to install the newest specialized components and computerized equipment on high-end bikes.

Due to harsh winter weather conditions, location matters for steady employment. Even the courageous moped crowd finds alternative forms of transportation during the winter.

Here’s a list of the metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of motorcycle mechanics:

  • Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Florida
  • Grand Junction, Colorado
  • Winchester Virginia-West Virginia
  • Yuma, Arizona
  • Altoona, Pennsylvania

Here are the top paying states for motorcycle mechanics along with their average annual salaries:

  • California: $41,590
  • Maryland: $39,940
  • Connecticut: $38,860
  • Nevada: $38,630
  • Massachusetts: $38,470

Employment Outlook

The number of people riding motorcycles has steadily increased in recent years, leading to a greater demand for motorcycle technicians. Most of the new jobs will continue to be in the motorcycle dealer sector. The increasing complexity of motorcycles will also provide job opportunities for specialists in independent repair shops.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 9 percent employment growth for motorcycle mechanics from 2008 to 2018. Job prospects should be good for people who have formal training.

Besides repairing and restoring motorcycles, some motorcycle mechanics also work on mopeds, motor scooters, all-terrain vehicles, and dirt bikes. And no, mechanics that work on mopeds are not necessarily wimps. Some motorcycle mechanics also make minor body repairs. Besides repair work, many mechanics add aftermarket components and make modifications to meet an owner’s appetite for speed.

A growing number of mechanics graduate from accredited motorcycle postsecondary degree programs. Many employers prefer these mechanics due to their advanced knowledge. These folks also require less on-the-job training.

Career Options

According to the book “Best Jobs for the 21st Century” (by Michael Farr and Laurence Shatkin), motorcycle mechanic ranked 493 out of the Best 500 Jobs Overall. Whoever put together that list probably wears an ascot, because some of the higher ranking jobs seem EXTREMELY boring.

Motorcycle dealerships: Motorcycle mechanics working at dealerships usually need specialized training from a formal education program. However, some dealers do provide on-the-job training. Steady pay and dependable hours are additional benefits of working for a dealership.

Repair shops: Secondary education, such as an associate’s degree or diploma in motorcycle mechanics, makes it easier to find employment at repair shops. However, apprenticeships are also common. Typically, large shops provide better benefits than small shops.

Self-employment: An associate’s degree, diploma, or certificate can help a self-employed mechanic attract customers.

MotorcycleIndustryJobs has a web page with an extensive amount of job listings. Check it out to get a better idea of what’s out there.


Associate’s of Applied Science degrees in motorcycle service technology are available, as are diplomas and certification courses. These education programs can last anywhere from six months to two years. Some of them include an apprenticeship as a requirement for graduation. Any one of these programs can really enhance a resume.

Professional certification is available through motorcycle manufacturers. This training is provided by technical schools. Some of these schools have partnered with motorcycle manufacturers to provide training for specific brands of motorcycles. Some schools allow you to specialize in Harley-Davidson, European, or Asian motorcycles.

Motorcycle mechanics who perform warranty work for insurance companies or manufacturers usually need to complete courses offered by motorcycle manufacturers. has an extensive list of schools that offer motorcycle technician training.


By the way, William Harley and Arthur Davidson first built motorcycles for the public in 1903 in a 10×15 foot wooden shed. Harley-Davidson Motor Company was scrawled on the door. That’s just another lesson that proves that even the most successful people in our country have to start somewhere.

Harley-Davidson mechanics need a formal education in core motorcycle mechanics. The company has partnerships with several colleges to provide specific training for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. These schools are as follows:

  • Pittsburgh State University (Kansas)
  • Fort Scott Community College (Kansas)
  • Lake Washington Tech (Washington State)
  • Central Carolina Community College (North Carolina)
  • Motorcycle Mechanics Institute (Arizona and Florida)

If you want to work on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, then try getting an internship with a participating Harley-Davidson dealer.

Technician and related jobs at Harley-Davidson dealerships include:

  • Service staff
  • Service technician
  • Service technician expert
  • Master service technician
  • Service writer
  • Master of service technology
  • Shop foreman

Harley-Davidson technicians can find job opportunities at dealerships, with race teams, and at shops that restore old bikes.

By the way, Harley-Davidson no longer uses the term “mechanic.” They instead go with “Harley-Davidson technician.”

If you decide to enroll in a motorcycle education program, do thorough research on the schools you’re considering. Ask representatives of local motorcycle dealerships and repair shops which schools they recommend. Admissions representatives at private, technical schools are usually sales people, so make sure they provide actual data to support any claims about employment for their graduates.

Brady Daniels writes about a variety of topics related to motorcycles for Motorcycle Insurance Quote.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Harley-Davidson to sponsor 2011 Hoka Hey

Biker Quote for Today

Above Ground, and on a Harley, Life is Good!!