Waste not, want not. 

Ever since I bought my ’13 Bonnie I’ve been bolting on aftermarket items and I’ve started to accumulate spare stock parts. They have been sitting and collecting dust in my garage. As I was sitting in my garage enjoying a delicious beverage I started to look around and take an inventory of the junk that has started to overtake my space. I was getting a little uncomfortable sitting on a stack of spare shingles in the corner. It was then that I saw my stock seat from the T100 (or the ironing board as I have called it since the moment I rode the Bonnie out of the shop). I grabbed it off the shelf and sat it down on top of the shingles. It was actually rather comfortable. That’s when I had my idea: to make a shop bench out of it.

[ This guest post is courtesy of Scott Sowers. When not teaching science, he can be found doing home improvement projects, being a dad, being a husband, and maybe riding a motorcycle. — ed.]

IMG_0261.JPGI grabbed another beer and got to work. I need to take a second to say that I am a new father as of July 31st, so my attention has been primarily on my daughter. I get few moments to myself and they come generally only when she is napping. So let’s just say that time was working against me. This wasn’t going to be a pretty creation. It was just something fun to do. I grabbed a box of screws, my screwgun, and my saw and started throwing scrap wood in a pile outside.

IMG_0262.JPGIn the corner of my garage was an old rickety ladder left by the previous homeowners. A few weeks ago when my dad was over he told me he liked it and wanted to take it home but it didn’t quite fit in his truck. Well we fixed it – we sawed off about 2 feet from the bottom! For some reason I kept the extra bit of the ladder (probably for firewood for the winter). That became the base of the bench. The rest of the wood was simply scraps. I reinforced it so that it wouldn’t collapse under my weight and mounted the saddle to the top. There was no measuring; just eyeballing. It looked good but something was missing. I grabbed the stock pipes and a couple of pieces of wood, and before long my bench had some shiny chrome!

This is not a masterpiece by any stretch, but it’s my creation. It looks perfect in the garage with the rest of my stuff, and it’s actually not a bad place to sit and contemplate when I need an escape from the daily grind.

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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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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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I Love the Idea of a Scrambler R

Bike EXIF is a wonderful site for “bike porn.” Wonderful photography, lots of information, and good stories about the bikes. The Tramontana Scrambler really caught my eye!

The idea of an “R” version of the Scrambler is posed at the end of this article, especially if it were even remotely close to this beautiful machine.

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Review: Texavina Saddle

Motorcycle accessories are expensive. In a twist of irony, most motorcyclists I know are very thrifty. Purchases are often poured over for weeks and we expect perfection at Wal-Mart prices. The adage of “get what you pay for” holds true most of the time, but sometimes it gets flipped. The ease of moving goods and currency through the global economy has opened up opportunities for entrepreneurs, factories, and bargain seeking customizers.

Scott has contributed this review of the Texavina saddle he recently purchased to go with his Bailey and Watkins bag. — ed

I’ve been looking for custom saddles for my Triumph Bonneville T100 for some time. In fact, I found a pretty decent used Corbin Gunfighter and Lady saddle on eBay. It was comfortable but looked like a giant loaf of bread. I needed something more streamlined to show the lines of the bike but also something that can work for riding two up. I also wanted the option of a seat that is not just the typical black, but a chocolatey brown. That’s when I realized that aftermarket seats are not only limited in design and style but way too expensive.

I did what any one of us would do. I turned to the forums. I found a bunch of other guys in my same boat on TriumphRat looking for custom saddles. One site, Texavina, was mentioned. At first glance, the shop seems to be based out of Texas, which I later found out was not entirely accurate. The shop is operated by Tex; a really nice guy out of Vietnam.

Texavina makes saddles for many makes and models, but specializes in cafe racers and vintage import bikes. They claim that they can make any design as requested. The selection of seats for my motorcycle was great. There are many different styles, colors, and stitching. Any design can be modified. All I had to do was contact Tex.

Saddle with The Parallel
Saddle with The Parallel

I selected a seat and ordered it as it came. The price was great! Just $185 for the seat and $69 for shipping. It took about three weeks for the seat to arrive, but I was notified every step of the way via email. Tex even gave me his personal cell number to contact him if I had any questions or concerns.

Upon delivery of my new saddle I couldn’t help but notice the packaging. This seat came from across the world so it was essential that the package needed to be sturdy. It was! A solid layer of foam protected the bubble-wrapped saddle from the dangers of its transoceanic voyage. After I got the seat out of the package I was very impressed. The build quality is great for the amount I paid for it. Stitching is top-notch, the metal seat pan is solid, and the vinyl seems to be good quality. Tex included a matching grab strap as well.

On Bike
On Bike

When I began the installation I noticed the hooks were bolted on backwards. This was an easy fix but it was a little annoying to have to do that. It was just a matter of unbolting and switching the hooks. No biggie. The seat installs quickly and feels fairly solid on the bike. I do think the firmness will take a few rides to get used to. It’s significantly firmer than the stock ironing board and my old Corbin. It’s the same length as the stock saddle but it feels about an inch less wide and around an inch lower. This makes backing up much easier for me as I am a short guy.

All in all, I think this was a good purchase and I recommend Texavina to anyone looking for a cheaper alternative to the big-named custom saddle companies. It looks great and follows the lines of the bike very nicely.

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Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride – Kansas City – 2014

I’m not a fan of group rides. Three to five close friends is the most comfortable group size for me. This ride was different.

I wore a charcoal suit, white shirt, red argyle socks, and Doc Marten’s wingtips. The ride to the ride was surreal. I’m used to being ignored or abhorred by car drivers. Riding around in a suit changes that. Waves, smiles, thumbs up … all manner of accolades.

The dress of the other riders varied, but in spirit with the ride. Suits, steampunk-esque goggles, tweed blazers, selvedge jeans. It was great and varied. Just like Kansas City.

Also like Kansas City, we were inclusive. The official rules are somewhat limiting on what type of bike is allowed. This group, eschewed those rules to good end. We raised a good bit of money and the people one the “wrong” bikes were there in the “right” spirit. I did not take part last year due to the rules and not having the “right” bike.

The route started at Coffee Girls in Waldo and headed out to Blue River Road. That’s not populous, but it’s a damned good road to ride on. From there, we headed into the heart of the city as we made our way North to end up at Grinder’s in the heart of the Crossroads.

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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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The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride

Yes, it’s late, but I’ll be participating in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride this Sunday.

The link above is to my sponsor page, please feel free to click it and donate a little bit. Here’s the pitch:

Let’s be straight here, gentlefolk. At The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR), we ride for a purpose.

Our focus is on gentlemen who are dealt a tough hand in life. In particular, we raise funds for research into prostate cancer as part of our mission to support men’s health.

With your support, DGR is aiming to raise $1 Million USD this year to assist in finding a cure for a disease that kills 1300 men a day worldwide.

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The Parallel by Bailey and Watkins

Motorcycles and leather. A pairing based in functionality but often embraced for style.

Being close friends with the wonderful people behind Bailey and Watkins, I get to see their work take shape. This piece, The Parallel, doubles as a day bag and saddle bag for a Triumph Bonneville.

The Triumph influence carries through the name and into the entire concept of these pieces. His and hers, in parallel, just like the motor powering them down the road.

The Bailey and Watkins website has the entire backstory for this, and all, of their amazing creations.

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Interview: Camping on a Scrambler with Beer and Guns

Will Shoemaker posted a picture of his recent camping trip to /r/motorcycles and it gained a lot of attention and caused a bit of controversy due to some of the items he packed.Will's Scrambler

I knew I had to get the backstory on the bike and the person riding it into the woods.

WorldOf2: I loved the title you gave your post on Reddit (Nobody wanted to go camping with me, fuck it I’ll go by myself then.). It really encompasses the way a lot of people feel about motorcycling being an escape. Avid campers that I know feel the same. Which came first: camping or motorcycling?

Will: Camping came first, my earliest memories are camping with my mom in pops in VA. I started riding when I was 19 and my first bike was a KLR 250 so moto camping logically followed suit.

That’s the attitude you have to have when you want to ride though, you have to say fuck it. Fuck it I’ll ride alone, fuck it I’ll ride in the rain, fuck it 600 miles isn’t that far.

Wo2: Do you have much experience with moto-camping?

W: The type of moto camping I do now isn’t like how I started out. I’d bring my KLR up to the mountains when I was a dumb kid and we’d get drunk and ride it around on trails but we’d take all our gear in the trucks. Now I can pack enough gear for 2 weeks on my bike and camp comfortably and not get drunk and crash my bike on some mountain bike trail like a dumbarse.

Wo2: You have a pretty interesting load out, and one that made for some controversy in some of the comments when first posted on Reddit. Can you give a run down of your luggage, gear, and packing technique?

W: I have 3 packs that I carry on my Scrambler. Back pack which contains my sleeping bag, AR (I don’t always take a rifle only when I want to plink), a hand gun, and a few other small essentials. I also have a small duffel that contains my sleeping pad, cooking supplies, hammock, pillow, book, webbing, lights, food, various other small essentials. I also have a small soft cooler which contains 12 beers from my local micro brewery of choice and various other small essentials (bottle opener).

A lot of people shit the bed about showing a gun on the motorcycle sub [/r/motorcycles] and I believe my comment in response to this was it was for plinking and something about mountain lions.

Wo2: I notice a few non-stock things on your Scrambler. What all have you done to it?
W: I literally just bought the bike a month ago from a rad older dude back in the mountains. He had put the after market seat on (with the luggage rack) but other than that it was stock. First thing I did was put dirt bars on it because it made the bike feel more like my Monster and the low-profile looked way better.

Wo2: Any planned modifications?

W: Planned Mods? I thought about chopping the tail but then again I hate having water pissing down my backside everytime it rains, thought about getting the 2-1 arrow but the stock exhaust is pretty sick. Honestly I’ll probably just get a head light screen to prevent that from getting fucked up and maybe get some legit dirt bike pegs because the rubber one suck for gripping with my cowboy boots.

Wo2: How off-road did you get and how do you feel the Scrambler handled that?

That was pretty tame off road, I could handle a lot more intense off road without being fully geared down. I feel like with that bike you could take it anywhere but there is always the risk of dropping it because it’s pretty heavy and I’m not a huge fellow but fuck it those would just be battle scars right?

Wo2: What other motorcycles have you owned?

W: Previous bikes, first bike was a 2001 KLR 250. No shit, probably the best bike you can get to learn on, you can drive it off a cliff then pick it up and drive to class the next day. Next bike was a 883 Sportster, also great bike for your first “real” motorcycle I’ll probably get one again one day. After that I got a Monster 696 also solid, good for commuting and touring (believe it or not) blew that fucker up first ride in the rockies. Then I got the Scrambler, had it a month and put 2K miles on it no regrets it’s the coolest bike ever made and it gets me where I need to be.

Wo2: Let’s talk about the AR. Is this a custom build or an off-the-shelf?

W: No it’s not a custom build totally stock Bushmaster M4A3 heavy barrel, I’m not really a gun nut but I have an arsenal for plinking and hunting from when I lived in VA. I haven’t really adapted that to CO yet. I spend to much time riding and working now.

Wo2: Why an AR instead of a handgun? It seems like a handgun would be the easier option on a bike?

W: An AR is an interesting choice for motocamping, but I love to shoot rifles, it’s relaxing for me it’s not often you get to that level of focus. That being said I typically shoot .22 for fun (plinking) but living in CO I can’t find any .22 ammo and I’m saving my last 30 rounds for squirrels and rabbits this fall. A hand gun is always a better option when packing light, and I did have one with me but I don’t enjoy shooting them like I do my rifles. I brought the hand gun for critter defense.

Wo2: Any particular challenges packing the AR?

W: No challenges I had it strapped solidly into the side wall of my pack. I’ve done this many times before and never had it become loose or fall out. The biggest risk is it gets some mud on it or some soccer mom calls the cops on me while I’m gassing up.

Wo2: How was the plinking?

W: Plinking sucked because I bought glass bottles and didn’t have any beer cans to shoot. Also forgot ear plugs this time so I just shot at a tree in a bank about 100 yards out just to squeeze the trigger a bit. Needless to say I’m rusty this year.

Wo2: I assume nomadic moto-camper isn’t your day job, what do you do?

W: I’m an IT Project Manager. I dress up and act nice to people who suck and stare at computers all day so I try to do the exact opposite of that on the weekends.

Wo2: Do you have any more moto-camping trips planned?

W: Yep, next summer/fall I want to explore the Pacific Northwest, I want to head up there and fly fish, hit up some new breweries and visit friends.

I’ve ridden cross country from the East Coast to Colorado and back but never any further north or west.

Here are photos from that trip.

Wo2: Thanks for you time! Anything you want to add in?

W: Yep sure. I see too many people playing dress up or having a dick measuring contest about who’s got the best bike. Riding needs to be about getting you to where you need to be, be that a state of mind or a remote location in the Rockies. Say fuck it and go ride somewhere.

Dammit I just typed a shit load. Blame it on the gin.

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