Tuesday, July 10, 2018

I Got The Shaft

So, I’ve recently transitioned to a new-to-me bike. In my nearly three decades of riding, I’ve owned in the neighborhood of a dozen bikes (I could count, but I’m too lazy at the moment). This new(ish) bike is a 2006 Suzuki Boulevard S83, and even though she’s in the shop at the moment getting an electrical gremlin hunted down, I’ve loved every minute I’ve spent riding her. Don’t get me wrong – I can’t say anything negative about the SV1000 that just went away. Well, maybe something about that seat, but I digress. The SV was a bit of a departure for me – I’ve always had UJMs and cruisers. I like to refer to her as my midlife crisis bike.

Now, it’s not a knock on the SV itself, but one big hassle with a lot of bikes is chain maintenance. It used to be that nearly all bikes were driven by chains, but somewhere along the way some smart guy invented the Kevlar drive belt, and then those clever engineers in Japan started putting drive shafts on a few of their bikes.

I’ve had several chain drive bikes, two belt drives, and I’m now on my third shaftie. The belts are kinda nice in that you don’t have to lube them, but you do still need to check the slack and adjust them occasionally, and I just never quite got the hang of belt maintenance. Also, they’re much more expensive to replace than a chain when they break. Ask me about the time I slung a belt off my Sportster on Hwy 183 rolling through Austin, TX traffic…

Which brings me back to the shaft. When I started thinking about what my next bike would be, I decided a while back that one of the tick boxes on the checklist had to be shaft drive. I put over 100,000 miles on the SV. I can’t even begin to guess how much time and effort was spent on lubing, adjusting, and changing chains. Plus how much money went into chains and lube over the ten years I had her. I’m guessing it was in the neighborhood of $Toodamnmuch. Matter of fact, I think I still have a couple of partial cans of lube, and a spray can of chain cleaner. Hit me up if you want them.

Now, the shaft drive. Ah, the shaft. No adjustment whatsoever. Lube? Sure; every year or two, drain the gear oil from the housing at the rear wheel, and pour a quart or liter or whatever in to replace it. Boom. Done.

So I’ve developed this weird obsession with shaft drive bikes. Since I’ve already owned multiples of each Japanese brand plus a Harley, BMW and Triumph were already on my bucket list. Now, due to my new quirky little preoccupation, Triumph has taken third place, replaced by Moto Guzzi. Matter of fact, the third place slot is precarious for the little limey, because there are other bikes out there competing for my attention: older Yamaha Maxims, older Honda Shadows (my second bike was a 1985 Shadow 700 with a shaft drive), Suzuki cruisers, Honda baggers, the VTX, and even the venerable Nighthawk. Even the bike you see everywhere on the hipster cafĂ©/custom circuit: the Honda CX500.  Hmm. Honda seems to be as fond of shaft drive bikes as I am. Maybe I need to look into them some more…

Luckily, my financial situation doesn’t exactly lend itself to impulsive purchases, or I’d have a back yard full of second hand R- and K- models, CXes, Maxims, and at least one Guzzi.

Wait. How exactly would that be a bad thing?

So, yeah. If you have some old bike with a shaft drive just sitting around taking up space, and you want to find it a loving home, leave a comment below.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

I haven’t written much at all lately. Like, in months. In spite of promises to the contrary on my blogs and to myself.

Ironically, the problem often isn’t that I don’t have anything I want to say, but that I have too much to say, and it gets hard – daunting – to open the white screen and put fingertips to keyboard and.



So that’s what this near-meaningless, borderline whiny post is all about. I’m making myself write something. Anything. Just to fucking do it.

I’m going through a similar physical experience. I’ve let my body get to the point where ten pushups is a strain. Bending over to tie my shoes is painful to my lower back. But I’m making myself start somewhere, even if it’s an embarrassing starting line. Something about a journey of a thousand miles and a single step, right?

So I’ll post this on both my blogs, and then hopefully there will be a flurry of posts on both. Hopefully it won’t stop after that initial flurry, but just settle down to a steady pace.

Oh, and just to put extra stress on myself, I’m considering trying to throw some fiction into the mix…


Thursday, February 15, 2018

When The New Bike Works Just Right

Turning left on the way home tonight, a car going the other way turned right. Should've been no problem, except the driver decided to make an immediate left into a strip center on the corner. Why she didn't go through the intersection and make a simple, single right turn is beyond me. I should've had two lanes to choose from, but she had had the entire left lane blocked, with the rear of her car extending into the right lane too. I was already in a hard left lean, so I pushed the right handlebar and swerved hard right. Got past the bumper and was pointed at the curb, so I gave a hard shove on the left handelbar to swerve back to point the right way. Wound up feeling a slight slide from the rear tire as I found the edge of the tread.
Damn, I'm loving this bike! She went right where I told her to go, when I told her to. This is also why I love drag bars.
Ride on, y'all. Mileage is knowledge!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

That's Not How Uber Works

I saw something a couple of weeks ago that I had to share with my readers.

We all know certain stereotypes exist on TV and in the movies about bikes and riders. We also know that we see a lot of behaviors depicted that just aren’t realistic. Sure, they’re great for entertainment, but we don’t expect them to happen in real life.

Well, most of us don’t.

Here’s what happened.

I’m on my way to work one afternoon, and hear a bike coming up from behind on my left. Naturally, I glance over as he passed me. Cool, a Yamaha Bolt, with a spare helmet hanging from the side. Yes, the spare lid is relevant. Bear with me.

Well, he passes on by me (I was going slower than usual because I was in my car, because work uniform).  Anyway, a bit later, he makes the same left turn I was making. Right after the left turn, he shoots across both lanes of our side of the road to zoom to a stop at a bus stop. I saw him saying something to a pretty young lady waiting for the bus. He even patted the back seat and pointed at the spare helmet, all while she was (kind of disgustedly) looking him up and down from head to toe, and stepping back from the curb.

Oh. My. God.

Dude, did you just……?

Did you really think that move from Hollywood would actually get a modern woman to just hop on the back of a motorcycle with some dude she’s never even seen before and ride off into the sunset?

I shook my head and laughed the rest of the way to work.

Thanks for the afternoon entertainment, Mr. Hopeful.

Monday, July 24, 2017

No Wasted Trips

I went to the dealership looking for a bike part today. I'd totally forgotten that it's Monday and every dealership in the country is apparently required by the laws of physics to be closed.

See, some people would consider that a waste of time, but a motorcycle rider just makes a U turn in the parking lot and takes the long way home. It's not a wasted trip, it's an opportunity for a ride.

Monday, May 1, 2017

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Baggers (repost)

In the interest of making regular posts, I'm once again throwing out a repost from my original blog (handgrenadesandhorseshoes.blogspot.com).

This one is actually timely, in a way, as the world just lost rider/writer Robert Pirsig in the last week. If you've never read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, go pick up a copy. Especially if you ride.

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Baggers

Photo taken from http://ww2.usca.edu/ResearchProjects/ProfessorGurr/gallery/Pictures-Robert-Pirsigs-original-1968-trip/aam

In the late 1960s, Robert M. Pirsig took a motorcycle trip. He told the story of that trip, and mingled in philosophy and a bit of autobiography in the book "Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance".

Here is a list, excerpted and compiled (and  paraphrased in places) from lists of his own in the book, telling what he carried on his trip:

  1. Two changes of underwear
  2.  Long underwear
  3.  One change of shirt and pants for each of us. I use Army-surplus fatigues. They're cheap, tough, and don't show dirt.
  4. One sweater and jacket each
  5. Gloves
  6. Cycle Boots
  7. Rain Gear
  8. Helmet and sunshade
  9. Bubble (he refers to a snap on face shield available for the helmets of the day - full face helmets weren't around yet)
  10. Goggles
  11. Shop manual for his bike
  12. Chilton's Motorcycle Troubleshooting Guide
  13. A copy of Thoreau's Walden
  14. Two sleeping bags
  15. Two ponchos and one ground cloth. These convert to a tent and protect the luggage from rain
  16. Rope
  17. Maps
  18. Machete
  19. Compass
  20. Canteen
  21. Two Army surplus mess kits with knife, fork, and spoon
  22. Collapsible Sterno stove
  23. Aluminum screw top cans for food and condiment storage
  24. Brillo
  25. Two aluminum-frame backpacks
Toolkit containing:
  1. Large adjustable wrench
  2. Machinist's hammer
  3. Cold Chisel
  4. Taper Punch
  5. Tire Irons
  6. Tire patch kit
  7. Bicycle pump
  8. Chain lube
  9. Impact Driver
  10. Point File
  11. Feeler Gauge
  12. Test Lamp
Spare Parts:
  1. Plugs
  2. Throttle, Clutch, Brake cables
  3. Points
  4. Fuses
  5. Headlight & Taillight Bulbs
  6. Chain Master Link
  7. Cotter Pins
  8. Baling Wire
  9. Spare Chain

Notice he had no cell phone, no rainsuit, was prepared to make major repairs including changing tires and/or the chain while on the side of the road. Also notice his tent was no lightweight, waterproof nylon thing with lightweight shock-corded aluminum poles that set up in five minutes.

Also notice he was traveling with his teenage son, and had all this stuff piled onto the bike. For seventeen days. No interstate travel, either - back roads and two lane highways as much as possible.

What kind of bike did he use? A Harley-Davidson Electra Glide? Nope. Indian? Nope. A Honda CB360. Including the passengers and gear, the bike was probably carrying its own weight.

And nowdays we feel we need fairings and windshields and radios and CBs and CD players and mp3 players and GPS and a big monster engine.

No. We just need two wheels and to get on 'em and RIDE.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Reflections On a Ride Home One Spring Night.

Riding home tonight from across town.

Middle of April, around 9:00 pm. Sun’s been down an hour or so, but all I need is a light cotton long sleeve shirt for warmth at 75 mph.

Riding through a large city, yet I can still catch the occasional whiff of honeysuckle in the air, punctuated by the smell of backyard cookouts.

This is Bike Life in Atlanta. Southern riding at its best.