Vulcan 900 Classic or How I Embraced a Cruiser

I’ve complained about cruisers being boring and overall sub-optimal motorcycles. I don’t think that’s changed, but I’ve come to embrace that as another facet of motorcycling.

My first bike was a cruiser (a Vulcan as well, though very different), I’ve also ridden cruisers at Harley-Davidson and Victory demos. While neither of those won me over, I did find things that I enjoyed.

For Harley, it was the classic look of the Heritage Softail Classic (I’m not even trying to decode the model). It looked beautiful and felt substantial. It also drug floorboards on every turn and had a serious case of false-neutrals. Including one that required me to come to a complete stop to get it unstuck. Yeah it shook and rattled … but that was some of the charm.

The Victory felt smooth. The more modern motor and chassis were just more capable. I just couldn’t get behind the style of them. Yes, it’s unique and different, but it didn’t speak to me in the way a cruiser should. I think there was  a veil of performance cast on them which is not what a cruiser is about.

Why was I even looking? That’s a good question. My wife was talking to my friend’s wife about taking a short weekend trip. I was really excited, but then it sunk in that my Scrambler is not setup for this task. After sarcastically saying, “how big of a backpack do you plan on wearing.” We started talking about adding a bike with some more passenger and luggage capabilities.

My search was pretty casual. Look at those Softails, realize that I had no intention of spending that amount of money on a part time bike. Then move on. After a few weeks I opened up my criteria a bit and looked at some of the entry level Dynas. I’d have to change a lot to get the look and feel of what I wanted. While cheaper than the Softail, the Dynas were going to cost a lot in modifications. 

Eventually I ended up at Superstar Cycle Center’s website and was just scrolling through their cruiser inventory. While wading through the bikes with ape hangers or questionable taste in paint and accessories this white and grey bike jumped out at me. A quick message to my wife, was responded to with a “that’s really pretty.” Exactly what I thought.

I mulled it over a bit. I’ve been spoiled by premium motorcycles (Triumph, BMW, Harley). Japanese cruisers always seem like wannabes. It’s only a 900 cc motor. Wouldn’t the 1500 cc be better. It looks heavy. I bet it’s slow and handles like crap. 

Oh well, I went to test ride it anyway!

This is a super mellow bike, in a good way. The undersized motor is more than adequate to haul this thing around. There’s enough ground clearance that I haven’t put metal to pavement, yet. And, I’m not trying to make it anything other than what it is. A big, comfy cruiser that handles a passenger well, takes some luggage (already on it!), and looks really nice! 

While the allure for the Harley is still there, for the price difference, I’d rather buy another sport bike AND a supermoto to round out the stable. This bike hasn’t taken away from my Scrambler either. If anything, I appreciate the Scrambler more than I did and it’s opened up to make some of the modifications that I’d been wanting to make. A win in all directions.

 

 

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Commute

My life situation and schedule have hanged quite a bit and I no longer commute via motorbike as much as o used to. This week, I was able to ride every single day. 

Yes, I work in a cave. 

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Fender Eliminator from British Customs

I always say I’m not modifying motorcycles … but guess what, I do. This one was kind of necessary as I accidentally broke my taillight lens by backing my Scrambler into the corner of my house. Whoops.

I looked at a few kits and stuck with this one as I liked the shape of the lights included. If you want to kill 25 minutes, here’s a YouTube video (scroll down for more text and pictures).

If you watched the video you’ll see that I was pretty frustrated by the lack of instructions. With all of the work that would go in to designing this and sourcing the parts, a few simple pages would have been easy to knock out. An especially bad part is the wiring. The colors didn’t match up to the Triumph colors (at all … not even kind of close). Luckily, some people on Triumph Rat had gone through the trouble of blowing fuses so I didn’t have to. This is made even worse when I look at how much this cost.

On the plus side, British Customs shipped the same day I ordered, everything was packed well, and the parts all feel like quality parts.

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A NOT boring Motorcycle Video

Sure, it’s an ad, but this video by Roland Sands Design is probably the most entertaining bike video I’ve seen on YouTube lately.

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First Photos of Spring

This is by not, by far, the first ride of the year. I ride year round. But these are the first photos I stopped to take.

Hiatuses happen. This one was a good one. A new baby, a new job, a new … damn near a whole new life. It’s been slow to get to the point that I can write or take photos or engage in these less “important” pursuits. I’m lucky to have people around me that support me and make sure I do the things that make a richer life.

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Commuting

I commute via motorbike as often as feasible. With family and bands and such this has become harder to do. This video is what my commute has been for the last 11.5 years. Starting in November I’m going to make a Part 2 that shows the commute to my new job.

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It was fun playing dress up …

But it’s awfully nice to be back in jeans and boots.

Back to normal

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TBT: Solo Camping

This week I’m going WAY back to 2009. I loaded up my BMW and headed down to Arkansas to enjoy the winding roads and the vastness of nature.

The beauty of the landscape gets ruined by people with no care or reverence. You can be looking at a beautiful bluff with green grass and trees and on the other side of the road is a yard filled with trash. I understand poverty, but I don’t understand giving up like that. It’s nothing but a little labor to tidy up a yard and being that the people were on their porch drinking beers during the middle of the days suggests that they’ve got some time to spare.

The trip, though short, was great. I went alone. I made it. I had some close calls with riding while too tired or too hungry. My tent failed. My fires were lackluster.

I would do every minute of it again.

Loaded up G650GS

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Motoselfie: Mild Weather

The weather in Kansas City has turned mild. The heat, rain, and humidity are taking a well deserved break. The riding is spectacular.

The daylight doesn’t as long and the first scents of autumn fill my nose. As does the associated allergy driven congestion. The sniffles don’t detract from the feeling of ripping through cool air on two wheels.

Enjoy it while you can.

Motoselfie #1

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Interview: John Velghe

I really can’t stress how much I support what John’s doing (as you can probably tell by all the posts). He’s taking his passion for motorcycling and music and doing something to really help people. Having lost someone close to me who was a registered organ donor, this cause hits close to my heart. Please, chip in to sponsor the tour, donate to the aid organizations, see one of the shows … and check that box on your driver’s license.

John’s tour kicks off on Tuesday, September 16th in St. Louis at Cicero’s St. Louis. A full listing of the shows is on the New Hearts MC website.

WorldOf2: Storage space is a precious resource on a motorbike, I know a lot of people that have trouble just packing clothes for a few days, you’re going much longer than that plus taking all of the things needed to perform. I assume you’ll have merch and your guitar any other music gear? How are you squeezing all this on to your bike?

John Velghe: I’ve done a few two-up camping trips of 10 days each. On those trips it was two people, our camping gear (including sleeping bags and tent for autumn in Colorado, stove, etc.), coffee, food, tools, and clothes. I’ve gotten pretty good at prioritizing what’s crucial and what can stay behind.

On this trip I’m not taking camping gear and won’t be bracing for cold nights at altitude. So this will be a little luxurious by comparison. I have a set of Mica Tech Pilot Cases, which are cavernous. I have a pretty big “top bag” that I mount on the back too.

I’m carrying my clothes and music gear and bike tools with me. A couple rolls of quarters take up a lot less space than clothes, so I’ll be doing laundry along the way. For gear, it’s pared down to an acoustic guitar, an Ear Trumpet Labs Edwina Microphone, a couple cables, a capo, and a tuner.

Wo2: Weather happens, how are you making sure things stay dry?

JV: The MicaTech cases and the top bag are water tight. For the guitar I have a sealed fiberglass case and I picked up a Jack’s Plastic Welding PVC bag that is build to put a guitar in for white water rafting. For me I have a rain suit.

Wo2: Do you have a contingency plan if you run out of merch mid-tour? Are you sending some in advance to the venues or will you rely on overnight shipping?

JV: HA! This tour was the reason I made the “design decision” to go with Digipak CDs instead of (breakable) jewel cases. My plan up until last week was to ship CDs and t-shrits to specific places in advance. My daughter lives in Philly, and good friends live in NYC, Durham and Nashville. I was going to set up shipping to those milestones and then ship back what wasn’t needed. However, a kind soul has made it possible to have Juj and Picco follow along in a car and carry merch. They’re going small too, and Picco required ample space to sleep, so I still have to carry my gear on the bike. But we’re saving the cost and wear and tear of shipping back and forth.

Wo2: Have you hooked up with any other riders that will join you for any of the riding? If not, are is that something you’d be interested in?

JV: I would LOVE to have some riders share a stretch. The whole point of this tour is about humanity connected with one another. That’s sort of what organ donation is, isn’t it? One human connecting with another at a cellular level. So the more people I can have ride along the closer it comes to the essence of the tour. If anyone wants to ride along for a segment they can contact me at my website johnvelghe.com and we’ll coordinate.

Wo2: I love the positive spin you’re putting on the “donor cycle” stereotype. Why did you choose transplant recipients and donors as the benefactors of the tour?

JV: I have a couple friends who’ve been affected by organ donation. One very good friend was never able to get an organ transplant. We all hoped it would happen and he’d be able to move forward in his second chance. Unfortunately he passed away a couple years ago before it could happen. Another friend is in consideration for the UNOS transplant list. And there are member’s of my community whose experiences with organ donation clarified beauty of the process.

Those are the things that lie at the heart of album’s title, Organ Donor Blues. Then there’s the idea that they call motorcyclists “organ donors.” Which in the one hand I say is just contemptuous bullshit and in the other hand I say “So what? Aren’t there worse legacies?” You know, not all organ donors are dead people. There are plenty of people who’ve donated their organs and live to see the beauty of watching someone have a second chance. It’s a beautiful gift, and you don’t have to die to give it.

And anyone who gives of themselves is, in my estimation, an organ donor.
So the title of the album, my friends, and a deep and abiding internal sense of “kiss my ass” made me realize this is something worth doing. If it can help the cause of organ donation and organ transplant recipients specifically, or even just spread the word of the idea of doing something for reasons outside yourself, giving of yourself, then that’s all I really want to come of it.

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