Distinguished Gentelmen’s Ride 2015

Unfortunately, I won’t be doing this ride this year. But, you can still contribute! Via Jeff Remsburg’s page.

Jeff and I chatted a little at last year’s ride and rolled out on our Triumphs a few weeks afterward to get a nice fall ride in.

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“I used to …”

I have a penchant for “used to” bikes.

A few weeks into owning my ’09 Nightster, I ran over a piece of metal left over from some construction and blew my bike tire out on I-70. Since the bike was new and had roadside assist, I used it! The tow truck driver “used to” have a Sportster.

It was some special model of the 900, but he was sure it was bigger than that, and that thing would run 200 mile-an-hour in 4th gear. He swore he never used 5th gear because 4th was all it needed.

The BMW G650GS was a little different. It was such a weird looking bike that people gawked at it just because. Then the noticed the little blue and white BMW Roundel.

“I didn’t know BMW made motorcycles.” Being a pedant, I would inform them that the Bavarians had been making motorbikes since 1923. I should have kept my mouth shut, because the next thing was always, “Oh yeah, those flat motors! I used to have one of those. Those would run forever.”

The next two bikes were Triumphs. The first, a Street Triple R which is a sport bike with regular handle bars and the second a Scrambler.

The Street Triple was a looker, bass boat metal flake black with gold wheels and logos. “I used to have a Triumph … ”

The Scrambler even more so since you don’t even have to read to tell it’s a Triumph. “Hey, is that a Triumph. I didn’t know they still made those. I used to have a ’75 … drunken slurs“.

Even other guys on bikes will pull up to me and say something. Yesterday and old guy on a Harley-Davidson FLH-STFU pulled up and said, “Nice bike! I used to have a Triumph. Those are great bikes.”

Well man, if it’s so great, why aren’t you on one?

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Bikers For Babies, Kansas City

Last year’s Distinguished Gentlemen’s ride marked my first organized group ride. This is definitely not a part of bike culture that I tend to be involved with.

Yesterday I got a text from Dave about riding with him and his friends at Bikers for Babies. I had a good time with these guys riding out to Greaserama, so I grudgingly agreed and signed up online.

We were meeting at Dave’s at 8:00 a.m. I was there just a hair before and just hung out outside. Jorge and Justin rolled up with a bit more throttle jockeying and Dave’s mom looked out the window and informed us that he wasn’t there. Apparently, Dave took to partying last night. Jorge, Justin, and I went on to the next spot to meet up with some other guys. After the, “hi new guy” festivities, we headed out to Kansas Speedway for the ride.

IMG_0201Registration gave us all packets that included some coupons, a patch, a pin, and not a map. Thankfully Doug noticed this and grabbed some maps. Some road resurfacing caused a last minute change and the new maps hadn’t been put in all the packets.

We meandered around the grounds for a bit looking at vendors stuff and half watching the opening ceremony. I wan’t interested in too much of the stuff the vendors had. I did see and Indian Scout in the flesh, and I am definitely intrigued by this motorcycle.

That's a lot of bikes!There were a ton of bikes! Way more than I really had a concept of. My jaded eyes didn’t like most of the bikes, but it’s pretty awe-inspiring to see 4,300 bikes all ready to ride together.

The first bit of the ride was a little sketchy with everyone leaving at the same time. Our group got invaded by the Harley version of a squid on some temp-tagged, fat-tired noise maker. I just backed up and gave the asshole some space because I don’t want to be around that at all. Luckily, we peeled up for a pit stop and were able to keep a good spacing between our group and the rest of the riders.

Pit Stop!From that point on the ride was nice an uneventful. Just a group of people riding together enjoying some amazing midwestern weather.

Barbecue.We got back to the Speedway just in time to snag some of the last of the lunch. Some barbecue, some liquids, and a little time out of the saddle and we were all ready to head back to Dan’s place to have a few beers and hang out.

I’m still warming up to this idea of group rides, but the last couple have been pretty positive. I’m still anxious about riding with people I don’t know, but I’ve been fortunate enough to fall in to groups of good riders.

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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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Archer Likes It

Labor day weekend. Up early on Sunday. All the boys at the skatepark.

Archer Likes it!

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Use them. I have to remind myself of this constantly. Dander of the mind building little dust bunnies that end up clogging up the whole works. Time to knock the dust off.

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Never Too Old to Skate

Jim and I skated a LOT through high school. Pretty much every day we were driving from spot to spot, getting hassled by police, and basically having a ton of fun. Recently, we’ve re-connected and have been skating more. It’s good to skate without a bunch of little kids (sorry guys) or teenagers that are actually good. When we’re skating together, it’s at our own pace and style and it feel awful good.

Here’s a quick edit from a few little tricks today. Jim hitting a fakie to nose slide, me ollieing a 3 stair, Jim doing a 50/50, and me … on the 3 stair again.

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Victory Demo

I’ll say right up front, I don’t like cruisers. The way I like to ride and the ergonomics that I like are anathema to the way cruisers are designed. But, I love bikes and will take any opportunity to ride something new or different.

This demo was on a Tuesday so attendance was pretty light, which made getting the bike you wanted easier. Other demos made you sign up for a certain bike at a certain time. Here, you put your helmet on a bike to claim it.

This is the only demo I’ve been on that hit the interstate. It made for some interesting problems trying to stay in a group of 10-15 bikes while avoiding the other interstate traffic.

victory - 1The first bike I rode was the Gunner. Once I sat down, I was immediately reminded of a Honda VTX 1300. Everything was very nicely put together and felt well built, but it was not really exciting. The motor sounded really nice and had the typical V-twin cadence. Everything felt oversized, the grips, the lever the pegs the pedals. Even the throw of the shifter was big and heavy.

Like all low cruisers, I would change a few key things. First, get the ass in the air. This is just too low. I’ll happily give up “flat-footing” at a stop for better handling and visibility. Second, I like the pegs under me. The foot forward position kills my back makes me feel like I have less control.

The motor felt nice. It’s not a paint shaker like a Harley (good and bad) but it’s got a familiar laid back gallop. Power was surprisingly good, it really reminded me the V-rod. A good, powerful motor that needs a chassis.

victory - 3Next up was the Hammer 8-Ball. Basically the same bike as the Gunner, but dressed up a little different. Especially at the back with a ridiculous 250 mm tire.

I’d never ridden one of the super wide rear tires. I don’t like the look and I couldn’t imagine they would handle well. I was right. By the time you’re leaned enough to get to the radius of the shoulder, boots or pegs are dragging. It’s like wrestling a bear to get off the center of the tire … and then it get light and loose feeling once it gets over. I about tapped out after the first few turns as I didn’t feel like I had control over this thing. I stuck it out, but I didn’t like it at all.

Somewhere deep down, I want to like cruisers. It’s what I grew up around and some of them seem pretty cool. I just can’t seem to find one that works the way I think a bike works. This is my hangup as there are plenty of people that ride these bikes and love it. Maybe I’ll slow down and relax as I get older. But for now, I’ll pass on this class of bike.

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Silly Motorcycle Dealers

Every day that I commute I drive past a Victory dealer. I’ve been slightly intrigued by some of their bikes, but never serious enough to waste a sales person’s time with a test ride.

Last week, I drove by Austin’s Trailers and Motorsports and saw the Victory demo truck. I gave them a call and was informed that the truck was packed up and heading out. There wasn’t any indication that there was going to be a demo event prior to me actually seeing the trailer.

I love demoing new bikes, so I looked at the next Victory event, which is farther away, but still reasonably close. I hit up the Shawnee Cycle Plaza website and … see absolutely NO MENTION of the Victory demo truck.

As a consumer, the test ride is the most important part of purchasing a motorcycle. The stats are out there. The wonderful images of how cool a bike is or what dress up parts can be added are there. But getting butts in seats is important.

I’m shocked at how terrible dealers (and manufacturers) are about getting the word out about demo events like this. This lack of marketing ability is just another thing that makes motorcycling a hobby and not a valid form of transportation.

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This Is What My Ears Looks Like

This is what my ear looks like.
My ears ring. Actually, they’ve always had a ring to them. As early as I can remember I had a faint little whistle in my ears any time it got really quiet. As I got older all-ages shows and band practice took hold and my ears have taken a beating. Pretty much every hobby I have is bad on my ears. Motorcycles, music, guns, baby-making … those things are loud!

I’ve been buying the normal foam earplugs in bulk packages for years and they are always fine. But there’s a lot on nuance lost and they eventually get uncomfortable. Today, Engle Motors had their spring open house and had Mary and Gary Droege with Big Ear on site making custom molded ear plugs.

This is something that had been on my TODO list for a long time. These things sit ALL THE WAY in the ear and attenuate the frequencies in a more linear fashion. The foam plugs really dull the high frequencies. On the motorcycle this isn’t terrible, since it’s that high frequency wind noise that really gets your ears, but for other things … I like the balance.

Another advantage here is that these don’t require the awkward “roll up the ear plug, pull the ear up, repeat” action. They slide right in with a twisting motion and just sit there like they’re supposed to.

Red is RightI paid $5 extra to get them in different colors so I can easily tell which one goes in which ear. I picked red for right (just like RCA cables) and went with blue for the left.

Right now, I’ve worn them while driving my van and briefly while playing drums. They really attenuate the sound, much better than anything else I’ve used. I’ll be updating as I use these on and off of motorcycles, but the first impression is that these are stellar!

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