Monday, October 29, 2007

2007-2008 Polar Bear Grand Tour - Cape May, NJ

Here are some pictures from the first riding event of the Polar Bear Grand Tour for the 2007-2008 season, the run to Cape May, NJ on October 28, 2007. This event was just before Halloween and some rode down in costume.

Take a look at all the pictures I took, including two short videos.

My riding group encountered a very bad accident on the Garden State Parkway on the way down to Cape May. I believe it was just before the Toms River toll plaza. Traffic was halted in both directions of the Parkway while rescue helicopters landed and transported the injured. We were within 100 yards of the accident and many people got out of their cars and off their motorcycles to observe. I took a few pictures of that too.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


The weather gods smiled on the 7th annual 49 Mile Ride, and we had a perfect day out, snarling up traffic and generally having a good time on the roads of San Francisco. The '49' has inadvertently morphed into the largest urban Vintage motorcycle ride in the US, which has necessitated that the Yerba Buena AMCA help organize catering and chase truck duties, and have someone at all junctions to mark the route.

The horde has grown to 150-plus machines, all pre-1974, and most considerably older than that. Oldest bike present was Kevin Burrell's '29 Norton Model 18, followed by Kim Young's '30 Velo KSS, and my '33 Velo KTT.
Plenty of oil was shed on Treasure Island, our starting point, where coffee and pastries awaited anyone who wasn't busy taking photographs of the amazing variety of machines (and people!) who showed up at 9am on a Sunday for a ride.

Top pic is a classic California shot - a Norton Commando Roadster under the palm trees on a clear blue sky day.

Next is Craig Howell's lovely BMW R60/2, in Dover white, with the SF downtown skyline in the background. Lurking menacingly beside it is Phillipe Murat's Kawasaki H1, the BMW's polar opposite! I've added a pic of Uwe Goedereis (taken by Craig) - Uwe was visiting from Germany, and timed his stay for the '49' and All-British Ride.

Even scooters are OK!

Your scribe on his KTT, with downtown in the back (Treasure Island is 4 miles inside the bay, and has a great view of the city). I'm trying out my new/old green German racing jodhpurs - lined with felt, very comfortable, but a bit warm today. Second pic of the Mule in action courtesy David Blankenhorn... thanks!

The rider's meeting - somewhere in there Pete Young is standing on a truck bed trying to be heard. Bikes as far as the eye can see.

I didn't catch everyone's name (so if you're pictured, send me a note!), but I enjoyed taking pix of some of the characters on the day.

This ranger at Fort Point was happy to see us; his Harley FLH was parked nearby. Unfortunately, we had to move our machines out of the fort's parking lot, as someone had chosen this lovely day to jump off the GG bridge, and the emergency crews soon filled up the lot in our stead.

Fort Point was built in 1798, and can be wonderfully gloomy in the fog, as the walls are 10' thick, and most of the Fort is empty, with no glass, just open gun ports to the foggy sea. The Golden Gate bridge was built directly over the Fort, but soars several hundred feet above the squat brick structure. Most bridge jumpers choose to walk mid-span and jump over water, but some jumpers don't walk far enough, and land on the coastal rocks, or the fort itself. Thus the heavy presence of emergency vehicles (and one fake cable car!) in the photo. The bridge authority tries to downplay all this, but the facts are pretty odd; no one jumps from the Marin side, always the SF side of the bridge, and always facing San Francisco rather than the Pacific ocean. It's the world's #1 suicide spot, apparently - 85% are locals though, and about 30 of the 1300 jumpers have survived. There a great article here.

That's Sonny and his hotrod Norton/Matchless/custom hybrid, still running on ex-dirt track tires, fast as hell, and sounding like tearing calico when wound up.

Behind double trouble here you'll see the fire trucks and cops (note scowl on butch ranger in background). Paul Zell on his SS-ed Ducati GT and Max Schaaf on his completely cool Harley Knucklehead bobber '4Q' - a bike which really warranted a second and third look. The detail shot at the bottom is the 'mating snakes' exhaust system, and tiny custom taillights; a lot of thought and effort went into making this Knuck.

Kim Young trying to find husband Pete, whose sidecar outfit ran out of sparks on the Bay Bridge - frightening enough in a car, potentially lethal on a bike. I've broken down twice on that span, and thus always ride in the side lanes!

After we left Fort Point, we rode along the Great Hwy, and watched the surfers contend with the 50degree water and nasty cross-currents. It looked tempting today though, with 6' waves and no wind.

We're up on Twin Peaks here, overlooking the city from SF's highest point, and hoping the tour buses don't crush our bikes.

Kevin Burrell and his '29 Norton Model 18, running very well, with it's funny silencer (one year only?). The bike was purchased as a very incorrect and ill-running machine, and Kevin's done a nice job with it. He had the tanks repro'd in England.

That's Lynn Miller and his Velo Venom Clubman model. Lynn makes and repairs bagpipes for a living; talk about a niche market! He also likes vintage watches... I see a complication connection.

Chris and Felicity Bonk, and Kim Young, with Philippe Murat in the background.

The road off Twin Peaks can be taken with the engine off for almost a mile, which makes the hairpin corners more exciting. We're on our way to Lindley Meadows in Golden Gate Park here, for our lunch stop.

Lunch was catered, and although they ran out of
food (why is catering so hard to arrange on these rides?), the locale was perfect. The afternoon sunlight slanted through the Monterey Cypress trees, the grass was green, and the lineup of bikes looked great. More motorcyclists (who couldn't get out of bed on time?) joined us, from hotrodded mopeds to real 1% types wearing club colors. An interesting mix.

For more great pix of the ride, click here:

49 Mile Pix

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pictures of the Week - Cindy and Michael

Here are my Pictures of the Week as displayed on the Motorcycle Views Web site. These are taken from the Moto Pic Gallery. See Cindy on her Softail Deuce and Michael with his Road King Custom.

If you'd like to see your bike as Picture of the Week, submit a picture of you and your bike along with a description of the bike.

100 Years of Harley-Davidson: A Picture Gallery

Harley-Davidson began selling motorcycles in 1903. In 2003, the Motor Company celebrated its 100th anniversary.

We present here a look at Harley-Davidson models over these 100 years as provided by visitors to the main Motorcycle Views site. A gallery called "100 Years of Harley-Davidson" is provided that gives a picture and description for each model year from 1903 to 2003.

Some years are vacant and await your submissions. Take a look.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Mike has the 'Harley Chopper' back on the road, and his own words say it best:
"After 3 days work my
Harley Chopper is back on the road. No real serious
damage except the head lite, it took 3 lights to fill
the void left by its absence. I had to remove the
cylinders because there was dirt inside the carb and
all the way to the intake valves. About a pint of dirt
was inside the exhaust system. I want to thank all the
people who helped retrieve my bike from the cliff that
tried to swallow me. Ian Davidson sent me photos and a
new accessory for my bike. It's a incline Gage, or as
I like to call it, a inclinator. It measures lean
angels. Next time I will be able to tell exactly how
steep the cliff I ride off is!"
If anyone reading this can locate an oval headlamp, as pictured in the previous post, please contact me and I'll get you in touch with Mike. I think they came off a 30's car?
I love the Inclinator! It looks entirely home made, yet totally period.

47 Years of Harley-Davidson Sportster: A Picture Gallery

Harley-Davidson began selling motorcycles in 1903. In 1957, Harley-Davidson introduced the Sportster. It has continued in production ever since.

We present here a look at Harley-Davidson Sportster models from the first model in 1957 to the present as provided in pictures submitted by visitors to the Motorcycle Views Web site. A gallery called 47 Years of Sportster is provided that gives a picture and description for each model year from 1957 to 2003.

The gallery is not complete. If you own a Sportster, consider sending a picture and description of it to be considered for inclusion in the gallery.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Motorcycle Pictures of the Week - CC Rider and Vicki Gray

Here are my Pictures of the Week as displayed on the Motorcycle Views Web site. These are taken from the Moto Pic Gallery. See CC Rider on his Triumph Bonneville and Vicki Gray on her Ducati 1098S.

If you'd like to see your bike as Picture of the Week, submit a picture of you and your bike along with a description of the bike.

Kawasaki Issues Recall of KL650 Models for Loose Muffler Bolts

Kawasaki has issued a recall of certain 2002-2007 KL650A and 2008 KL650E motorcycles.

On certain motorcycles, insufficient tightening of the muffler mounting bolts could allow the bolts to loosen. If the bolts loosen completely, it is possible for the muffler to separate from the motorcycle and create the potential for a crash.

33365 units are affected.

Check out my Motorcycle Recalls feature for more details.

Ducati Recalls 2007 Monster S4RS for Cooling Defect

Ducati has issued a recall of certain 2007 Monster S4RS motorcycles.

On certain motorcycles, the water impeller does not turn due to the installation of an incorrect layshaft. Improper operation of the water pump could occur causing overheating of the engine components and possibly engine seizure. If the engine stopped while the motorcycle was being driven, it could increase the risk of a crash.

Only eight (8) units are affected.

Check out my Motorcycle Recalls feature for more details.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Women Riders Video

Here's a great visual and musical video called SHOCKING BLUE -HARLEY DAVIDSON/ GET IT ON (69/75). It's all about women on motorcycles. Not to be missed. (See other videos by the same author and read some details about the content of this video by clicking here.)

Be sure to also check out my own Women Riders subject that includes a Women on Motorcycles Picture Gallery.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ducati Recalls 2008 Hypermotard for Electrical Problem

Ducati has issued a recall of certain 2008 Hypermotard motorcycles.

On certain motorcycles, the battery can move side to side inside the fuel tank mounting compartment. This movement could result in main wiring harness damage at the battery terminal. This condition could cause an electrical short consequently stopping the engine. If the engine stops while the motorcycle is being driven, it could increase the risk of a crash.

385 units are affected.

Check out my Motorcycle Recalls feature for more details.

Vintage, Antique, and Classic Motorcycle Pictures

The Motorcycle Views main site has created many galleries of motorcycle pictures. I'll be discussing a few of these over the next few days. To start off, I'll show you the Vintage, Antique, and Classic Motorcycles gallery.

This gallery contains pictures and descriptions of motorcycles manufactured up to and including 1953. Thus, all motorcycles in the gallery will be at least 50 years old.

I'm lumping antique, vintage, and classic motorcycles into this group without regard to the special distinctions that many people may have on what an antique, vintage, or classic motorcycle is. To me, it's any bike more than 50 years old. Add your own comments on the distinctions among these three classes, below.

The picture shown above is a 1929 BMW R63.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


The Melo Velo rally was moved to Pozo (actually Santa Margarita Lake) this year from its previous home in Ojai, where it had been originated in the late 70's by Pat Peddicord, then taken over for many years by Tim Kenney. Tim has been seeking to pass the baton, so Pete Young and I decided to hold the event near Atascadero, as we had attended some pre-16 rides in the area and thought it rich in potential, with good roads, good weather, the Pozo saloon, and some excellent camping areas.

About 30 Velocettistas arrived on Friday night and Saturday morning (I pulled in at 2am), and we had an excellent ride through the hills and vineyards of Atascadero/Creston/Paso Robles, to the ocean and back. The trees had turned autumn colors (especially the poison oak - vivid red!), the grass was brown, and the vineyards were full of shades from green to red.

Our route included Hwy 229 ('Rossi's Driveway' - a single-lane ribbon which almost loops on itself), Peachy Canyon Road (full of peach trees in bright yellow), and Old Creek Road (which zig-zags to the ocean dramatically). Between the beautifully paved canyon racetracks were stretches of gently rolling hills covered with vines - the old ranches and orchards are making way for the inevitable grape.

We had a catered lasagne dinner under the stars on Saturday, and the weather gods smiled on us, as it was foggy early in the morning, but the sun shone all afternoon. It had been raining on Friday, so I was a bit concerned that no-one would show up, but I needn't have worried. Many rode from LA or the SF bay area to Santa Margarita Lake, including Mike Jongblood, Larry Luce, Joe Powers III, Dana Shatts, and John Ray. They all left Sunday morning under a cold fog. Ironically, we stayed away from Pozo proper and the infamous Pozo Saloon, as there was a Black Crowes concert scheduled for Saturday, and we didn't want to wade through boozed-up country-rockers at the end of our ride.

(Header pic shows a lovely Vincent Rapide engine - see below)

Pic 1 shows the indomitable George Hays, lately of Port Angeles WA, previously hailing from Alaska. George gave a dissertation on the funny peaked caps used by welders on the Alaska pipeline, showing us how the cap is rotated to keep welding slag out of ones' ears when working underneath a pipe.

Pic 2 is our lunchtime lineup in Paso Robles, where we intersected briefly with a Vincent o/c ride. The mishmash of 'VOC' members was quite a sight, and much oil was shed onto the tarmac. The old town square in the center of town, now renamed 'El Paso de Robles', has been upgraded to a tony sh0pping/eating district, so finding a good eating spot was no problem.

Pic 3 shows Velo owners Mick Felder, Joe Powers III, Satchi and George Shoblo. Note the 'Norton' construction sign we're all parked beneath.

Pic 5 is a lovely Black Shadow. There were about 10 Vincent/HRD's parked near us, in varying states of restoration, from immaculate to merely very nice. They all seemed to be Series C Rapides and Shadows.

Pic 6 is 'Vin Rouge', cabled to several modern sentries for protection. It's a Touring model Rapide, with valanced fenders, smaller diameter wheels, and full luggage, although the 5" diameter Black Shadow speedo sits prominently above the handlebars.

Pic 7 shows a clever topbox, covered in Rexine, looking rather period, if a bit fussy. I like the big latch, but I think if Phil Irving had designed this box, it would have had quick-release tommy bars!

Pic 8 is the big rock out in the ocean, must be Morro Bay, with Velo on the left riding Hwy 1 between Old Creek Road and Hwy 41, which climbed back to Atascadero.

Pic 9 is the unfortunate Dirt Streak which accompanies a 'flying W', and a mildly bent KSS with bruised rider... no names, no recriminations! It all turned out fine, and no it wasn't me this time.

Demystify Motorcycle Specification Terms

On my old forum, people would constantly ask for the definitions of motorcycle terms used in typical motorcycle specifications found on the Internet and in motorcycle magazines. These were usually newbies but not always.

I decided to prepare a set of definitions that could be used by almost anyone to help decipher motorcycle specs.

These definitions of terms should be easier to understand by riders who would rather ride than learn the technical complexities of their machines. Bear in mind that whole books could be written about each term. We are only touching the basics.

Check out my Motorcycle Specifications - Definitions of Terms as contained on my Motorcycle Views Web site.

Go Daddy Founder Saved by Proper Riding Apparel

Somewhat old story but I just saw it. Bob Parsons, founder of Go Daddy, relates his recent experience riding his Ducati when he was forced to severely brake and went down. He attributes his minimal injuries to ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time). Read his account from his own Web site.

Also, be sure to read my Basic Gear for a Motorcycle Beginner for more information.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Motorcycle Road Tests Index

I just added 13 motorcycle road test entries to my Motorcycle Road Tests Index.

These give information about where you can find the actual motorcycle road tests in the major motorcycle magazines. Also given are links to online motorcycle road tests.

Check out the following links, just added:

2008 Models: H-D Rocker C, Kawasaki Concours 14 ABS, and Kawasaki KLR650

2007 Models: Benelli TnT 1130, BMW F800ST, Ducati 1098S, Ducati Multistrada 1100S, Kawasaki Z1000, KTM 450 EXC, Kymco Xciting 500, Moto Guzzi Norge 1200, Suzuki Bandit 1250S ABS, and Suzuki GSX-R1000.

Friday, October 5, 2007

BMW Recalls 2005-2007 K1200R Sport Motorcycles for Front Brake Problem

BMW has issued a recall of certain 2005-2007 K1200R Sport motorcycles.

On certain motorcycles, during long periods of riding at sustained high engine RPM, vibration within the brake fluid reservoir can cause the brake fluid to foam. This could allow air to enter the front brake system which could lead to a loss of front braking efficiency. Air in the brake system can lead to a loss of braking capability, increasing the risk of a crash.

510 units are affected.

Check out my Motorcycle Recalls feature for more details.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

How to Start and Move a Motorcycle

Beginners can start and move a motorcycle.

This feature gives descriptions and pictures of the steps required to move a motorcycle or start a motorcycle. I'm not talking about shipping a motorcycle. I'm talking about simply moving a motorcycle a short distance. An example might be a case where the rider of a bike has parked it in the garage amidst considerable adjoining boxes, crates, ladders, and other accumulated stuff that might be contained in a garage. Let's say the rider is out of town or even serving in the armed forces and the spouse needs to move the motorcycle to complete a repair to the house. The rider cannot be reached. The job must be done. What is the spouse to do?

Another case might be a new rider who has just purchased a motorcycle and wants to get to know the motorcycle better. Now, bear in mind that I highly recommend that such a rider enroll in a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course and learn the fundamentals the correct way. That's certainly the way I learned, but I did have my own motorcycle at the time which I did not know how to ride. I also wanted to get to know the motorcycle better before I took the course. I had all the basic questions all newbie riders have. I wanted to know how to start the motorcycle, get it in gear, and ride short distances in first or second gear -- at least to the end of my driveway and back.

This article gives you a 10-step procedure to move a motorcycle without the need to start it. The article also gives you a 10-step procedure to move a motorcycle by pressing the start button, putting it in gear, and moving it under its own power.

Remember at all times that a motorcycle is a machine that responds quickly to human commands made by the hands or the feet. You should learn basic operations slowly and safely. These are best left to the experts as they teach you in the MSF course.

Steps given here are done at your own risk. There is always the chance that the motorcycle will fall over or you will not be able to control it.

10-Step Procedure to Move a Motorcycle By Starting It and Putting It In Gear

10-Step Procedure to Move a Motorcycle Without Starting It

Honda Takes Steps to Provide an Automatic Transmission for Motorcycles

Honda Motor Co., Ltd, Japan, has unveiled a new automatic transmission, the Human-Friendly Transmission (HFT), a new automatic transmission system for motorcycles using Honda’s own infinitely variable hydraulic mechanical transmission.

Motorcyclists have ridden with standard transmissions for over 100 years. Although there have been some automatics along the way, they never proved popular with riders who want to make their own gear changes. Scooters come with automatics and they seem to be popular with some riders.

Could this be the next big breakthrough in motorcycling? Read this news release from Honda for all the details.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Motorcycle Left-Turner Accidents - Don't Be a Statistic

I've been harping on safe riding for years. I even wrote 10 Ways To Be Safe on a Motorcycle. Apparently, even with my audience at, I didn't reach enough riders. Another rider just lost his life only two miles from my house. He struck a left turning driver.

Please read my article and pass it on to your friends, even those who don't ride. We need to save a few lives and it all starts with you.

Reading a newspaper account of an accident like this always leaves the reader with questions about just what were the conditions under which the accident occurred. We've all heard reports that the driver didn't see the bike at all. Well, there are conditions where the sun is in your eyes and blocks out the rider. Or, some part of the structure of the car blocks your vision. I know this happens. I have to move forward, back, and side-to-side sometimes to be sure I can see the complete roadway when I'm waiting to turn in my car. And the small profile of a motorcycle coming at you is hard to see even under good conditions. Of course, these days, the possibility of the driver having a cell phone in their ear doesn't help at all.

I don't want to leave the motorcycle rider out here. We, as riders, don't always look out for ourselves. We know that we need to consider ourselves invisible to other drivers (and motorcyclists). That means always riding with space around us and constantly practicing defensive riding. Anticipate what a driver will do and allow space in case they do what you expect.

In the case of trying to prepare for a left-turner in front of you, always make sure you don't ride close to the car in front of you. A left-turner will see the car in front of you but you may be blocked from their view. The left-turner sees the car in front of you pass and makes a sudden left turn and you smash into them.

I heard of another accident where a car waiting to make a left turn did nothing wrong except they had their wheels turned left anticipating the turn when a vehicle behind them crashed into them and forced their car into the oncoming lane killing a motorcyclist. Folks, I thought everyone knew that you never turn your wheels at rest while waiting to turn. Always keep them straight ahead. If you're hit, you won't go into the oncoming lane.

I guess one could go on and on about left-turners and how to prevent motorcycle fatalities. However, I know these accidents will keep happening. But we all can prevent a few from happening. Reading my 10 Ways To Be Safe on a Motorcycle will help to put a few ideas in your head that may save your life. And really, all I'm trying to do is save you and keep you riding and riding and riding until the day you choose to stop riding. Hopefully, that day will never come.

If you have any comments on how to be safe on a motorcycle, leave them below.

Monday, October 1, 2007


Mike Kane has a very nice Indian special, built up from various years and models, and decorated with a lot of great period lights and accessories. He attended our Yosemite AMCA ride, and I took a lot of pix of his bike as it is unique and visually compelling.

Mike had an epic spill on Wards Ferry Road, a totally avoidable one as well, but it has a happy ending (or at least not a tragic one!). Mike stopped to assist another rider on the narrow and cliff-clad road - there is certainly no shoulder or guardrail, just a rock wall on one side, and a 150' drop on the other into the canyon below. All riders on our rally were given a detailed 'heads up' on what to expect on the road, which is only 20 miles long, but due to the possibility of going over the side, needs to be ridden with respect.

After helping the other rider, Mike rode off, forgetting to tuck away his side-stand, which is a very stiff item - stiff enough to pogo a 500lb motorcycle towards the edge of a cliff when trying to get around a left turn! Mike did his best to haul the bike to a stop and keep away from the edge of the world, but his front wheel hit the soft dirt verge, and even though he was essentially stopped at this point, the front wheel began to slide down the cliff face. Mike tried his manly best to keep the wheel up, but the rear wheel began to crumble the road edge as well, and soon he was sliding vertically down the dirt cliff face, struggling to keep the bike upright so that it wouldn't crash end-over-end down to the rocks below. It must have looked like he was riding a dirt elevator down the hill!

Somehow the bike caught on a less-steep spot on the hillside, and stopped about 40' vertically down the hill. Mike climbed back up to the road, dirty but unharmed.

It took about an hour for the tow truck to arrive, and after much negotiating, Mike and the driver came up with a plan - 'I can't tell you to get on your bike as I tow it up the hill, but I won't stop you if you do', was the compromise. A cable was lowered from his truck on the road, we removed as many of the fragile items from the bike as we could (horns, lights, one half of his gas tank, speedo, etc), before wrapping a large nylon strap around the forks and steering head. It took some heaving, but we managed to get the bike pointed up the cliff face, and Mike got on it and managed to keep it upright all the way, with lots of yanking from yours truly who was also taking pictures, and keeping out of the likely path of the bike should the strap break! Climbing up and down that cliff six times, hauling tools, bike parts, straps, etc up and down, in leathers on a hot day, was fairly exhausting.

The last pictures really give an idea of how steep was that hill. If Mike had gone over the edge ten feet before or after where he did, it was a sheer rock face for the first 40' down - it doesn't bear imagining. He must have a guardian angel with a sense of humor!