Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Long Beach M/C show..part Deux

Well, here we are back at the Long Beach Convention Center for the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show. I've been coming to this show for as long as it's been around..haven't missed a year and I gotta say this is the most crowded I've ever seen. An interesting note here is how many women were there and not just beacause the man in their life dragged them along...many were actively trying on motorcycles. The manufacturers are beginning to see this trend as seat heights are getting lower, bikes getting lighter and even colors are changing a bit. The clothing and accessory market for women has exploded. More than leather chaps and fringed jackets, companies like ICON have gone all the way into high tech gear sized and styled for women..lots of pink, light blue and more. Joe Rocket has also jumped on the bandwagon. It's a good sign.
I love the Adventure Tourer category of motorcycles..I have a '92 Yamaha TDM850 and my riding buddies have TDM's, BMW GS's and KTM' riding somewhere and spotting a dirt road heading into the unknown..well, thats high giggle factor riding. So, it comes as no surprise that I was instantly attracted to the Buell Ulysses. When I first saw the pictures a couple of months ago I was intriqued..after seeing and sitting on it..I'm hooked. I had never been a Buell fan because the motorcycles are ergonomically all wrong for me. But..the Ulysses is just right. A nice wide and comfy seat..comfortable for two as well, great overall postioning from handlebar to seat to feels terrific. I'm going to slide over to Simi Valley Harley Davidson and convince my friend Andy to let me test ride it..I'll report my findings! We tried on all the adventure tourers we could. As I stated before the Suzuki V-Strom was almost perfect. The Aprillia Caponard was a lighter feel but a cramped riding position for two up took it out of contention..same thing with the Ducati Multistrada..however..if I were riding solo..the Multistrada would be the sled of choice..light feeling, good looking and fast enough for some serious fun. Well, actually it would be between the Buell and the Ducati...I've already got a Ducati so......
Speaking of Ducati...last year the Italian firm showed their 'Sport Classics' for the first time and everyone was truly excited..excitied enough to put their hard earned $$$$ down a year in advance! Well, now they're showing in dealers and they're beautiful. The one example showed at this show..see picture....oh so sweet..but Ducati had a sign on the seat.."please don't sit on the motorcycle"..damn! But beautiful.
Another bike I was really intigued by since seeing the pictures is the new Kawasaki NInja 650. A really nice motorcycle. Will it knock the Suzuki SV650 off?? The Kawasaki is a bit taller but a better seat to bar relationship. It's a very cool looking motorcycle and should sell really well to newcomers and experienced riders who like mid-size bikes for commuting and canyon's too bad Kawasaki stuck the 'Ninja' moniker on companies just love that name..cha-ching!!!!
This is a great time to be a motorcycle rider. So many great bikes to choose from. Sportbikes, Power Cruisers, Factory Styled Choppers, Big Touring bikes. Everything out there is great..the hard thing to do is choose. I think I'll choose my little 'ol Honda 350 and go for a ride...
See you on the road

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Long Beach M/C show

Happy Monday to everyone,
Well, this past weekend was the big M/C show in Long Beach, California, my wonderful pillion Heather and I spent a few hours oggling the latest from Japan, Europe and the good 'Ol USA. Besides the show, there was an Arena-Cross event also scheduled so the parking lot was full of motorhomes and trailers getting ready for the Saturday night event. Wait, let me rephrase that..the motorhomes and trailers weren't getting ready for the Arenacross, but the bikes and riders inside were!
There were some very interesting things going on at the show...besides all the pretty young girls at each manufacturers display...the interest in high zoot Scooters!!!! Suzuki and Piaggio seemed to be the main focus of this attention. The Suzuki Burgman attracted it's fair share of admirers but the oohs and aahs mainly came from Piaggio and Vespa..same company, different scoots. We checked out the Piaggio Scarabeo 500, very cool and amazingly comfortable for two. Fully setup for touring with hard saddlebags and a tail trunk this scooter has tons of storage and plenty of oomph for solo touring and maybe just enough for two up. $7399.00, pretty pricey compared to a regular motorcylcle with a bigger motor and much more power. But if you want great comfort and an automatic transmission..this is your new ride. For around town scootin', you can't beat the Vespa 250. Classic Vespa styling, plenty of power for getting around town or to and from work..a gazillion miles per gallon and folding racks front and rear for hauling groceries. A very neat little ride. You should have seen how many people were lined up to sit on them and like them. Especially women but plenty of guys as well..Scooters are gaining a cool factor in a big way!!

Ok..back to Motorcycles...
One of the highlights of the show for me was the new Kawasaki ZX14! Wow...lined up to knock the Suzuki Hayabusa off the top speed throne this is a beautiful motorcycle. It's not as sleek as the ZX10 but still very stylish. It looks bigger from the side than it does while sitting on it. Sitting on it was surprisingly very comfortable, much better than the Hayabusa. The seat is wide and firm enough to support you well and doesn't jam the family jewels against the tank. When Heather got on the passenger pillion we were amazed at how much room there was for two! And she had plenty of leg room...most sporty bikes have barely enough passenger room for a very small teenager and then for only a little while..but the ZX14 was roomy. The textured material seat also helped eliminate sliding forward into the pilot. All in all a great bike for ultra highspeed touring. Hopefully Genmar will make some handlebar rises for this bike and then it will be damn near perfect!!
Speaking of damn near perfect...for two up riding we didn't find anything better than the Suzuki DS1000 V-Strom. Despite being kind of bulbous looking and feeling a bit heavy, this was far and away thee most comfortable bike we sat on. A little problem for me, I'm 6'2, but Heather is only a shade over 5'3, so getting up to the passenger peg to get aboard was a little bit of effort but once on...perfection! While we were looking at the bike a couple stopped and gave us a 15 minute dissertation on how much they LOVED their V-Strom. Lots of traveling fully loaded..30k miles with nothing more than basic maintainence and amazingly comfortable. A good recommendation I think.
Because we tend to travel quite a bit on different motorcycles..Yamaha TDM850, Triumph Daytona900, and Ducati Darmah we look at all kinds of bikes for two up riding. We sat on a wide array of bikes except for the Gold Wing and BMW LT..we're not quite that old yet!!?? The Aprillia Cappanord was a pretty nice adventure tourer as was the Ducati Multi-Strada, but neither was as comfy as the Suzuki. I wish Triumph had been at the show..I would have liked to try the Tiger again.
The MotoGuzzi Breva 1100 was a favorite of mine. I've always had a thing for Guzzi's and someday hope to have one parked in our Garage-Mahal. I spoke with the Guzzi rep and he said that the new Guzzi Norge sport tourer WILL be coming to the US Next June or July and will be priced in the $15-16,000 range. The Vintage Tourer will be showing up in September and the price is unknown at this time. The Breva 1100 has a very light feeling and looks great.
It is too bad that the Triumph factory wasn't there but South Bay Triumph of Lomita California was and they brought some of thier customised Bonnevilles. Using the Thruxton model as the base they have a variety of High Performance mods that you can get done that make the Bonneville a very exciting ride.
And last but not least is the new Yamaha FJR1300. Clutchless shifting. Anytime anyone of us sits on a motorcycle the first thing we do is try the brake and clutch levers..but wait..there's no clutch lever!!!! Feels..well, a bit odd. THe FJR has an F1 style paddle shifter on the left handlebar. After a few minutes with it, it felt very natural. You can switch to foot shifting but..why??? Let's see how it works in the real world of long distance riding but I think Yamaha is on to something here.
Thats it for this time..I have more news from the show..but I'm sure you're bored of reading about now...
See you on the road..

Sunday, December 04, 2005

the motoworld podcast

Just up today the first edition of themotoworld podcast. A very simple beginning just to get it going!

Friday, November 25, 2005

everything but hail..part two..or...

...the rest of Heathers first big moto tour! So, after a great evening of eating and drinking at Lake Tahoe it was time to head back home. Sunday morning in Tahoe was beautiful..twenty eight degrees beautiful!!!! Getting tired of being cold and Heather is pretty burned out on looking like the Michelin Woman! Ah well..hey wait..theres a Sports Bar up the street..let's go watch MotoGP have breakfast and let the day warm up!! What an idea. So after a good race (on 3 big screen TV's!) a great breakfast and a Bloody Mary..anti-freeze ya know!..the day has warmed up just great, as in now it's twenty nine degrees!! Load the TDM, pile on the electric clothing and the Michelin Woman and I are on the road.
Out towards Truckee Californina and Hiway 89 through Sierraville. High mountain meadows a couple of Sportbike riders at rapid pace..heading for breakfast no doubt..and then onto Hiway of my all time favorites. South towards Nevada City with a quick stop in Downieville. Riding along the Yuba River is one of the most beautiful rides in all of California, you really must do it sometime. The problem is it's so beautiful that every now and then it's "whoa! Where'd that corner come from?" All in all truly wonderful Sierra riding.
Gas stop. Nevada City. A classic old California gold mining town. It's also eighty seven degrees with warm stuff into the ventilated gear..oh and a beer too! Continuing along Hwy 49 through Grass Valley, Auburn and Placerville then turn east on Ebbits Pass. No Cars, big wide open sweepers and's damn cold again!! As we crest the Pacific Summit..another 9000' plus pass it's back on with the warmies. In the span of six hours we've gone from 29' to 87' back down to 30'. All in a days ride in the Sierra's. Down Monitor Pass to Hwy 395 and look for a campground. Chris Flat along the Walker River. No one there..perfect set up for an axe murderer movie!? Also..really damn cold and windy. Now, where's that anti freeze??
Monday morning..beyond cold. Water bottles frozen solid and Heathers contact lenses keep sticking to her finger..she can't get them in her eyes. Oh well, I look better when she can't see anyway. Even Jeffs BMW GS didn't want to wake up and go. More great scenery and then the spectacular June Lake Loop. Fall colors like you can't believe..right out of a Kodak film commercial. Stopping for pictures every fifty yards sure slows down a trip..but well worth it!!
The day is warming up but we can see some not so pretty scenery looming on the horizon..sure enough..a little more than hour later..on with the rain gear!!?? Doesn't really rain too bad until Red Rock Canyon then the Biblical Forty days and Forty Nights hits us and Hurricane Zelda...all over the road we're in the left we're not..we're in the right the left. Sheesh. A quick gas stop in Mojave and we're on the last leg home. A little detour by Willow Springs Raceway..Heather wanted to see where I used to race..and it's back onto Hwy 138. I forgot one thing about big rain storms in the desert..FLASH FLOODS!!! We rode through a dozen axel deep washouts over the next 30 miles. A half an hour later that road was closed. Onto I5..people looking at us like we're nuts!! We are!! Especially because we were going faster than all of them. Once you get used to riding in the rain,it's pretty fun.
So we made it home and Heathers big tour came to a soggy end. The best part...she was still smiling and wondering when our next one was going to be. Thats my girl.
See you on the road,

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Everything but hail...or...

...what the hail!
So there we were, girlfriend and I and our best friend ready for ride through the Sierra's...we on a Yamaha TDM850, an overgrown wannabe dirtbike, and Jeff on a his BMW1200GS...after a tipover in the driveway..don't ask.. we're on the way. First stop Lake Isabella at the very south end of the Sierra's, half the trip is a freeway drone, a quarter of it through the farm lands of the central valley in California ( the countrys bread basket) and the last quarter through a beautiful canyon along the Kern River. Friday morning dawns clear and beautiful. Out to Hwy 395 and north we go..a quick stop for breakfast then onto the Laws Museum in Bishop Callifornia. If you've never been or you find yourself in Bishop you gotta go!! A quick stop at the local supermarket for something to cook for dinner and of course some good, cheap wine to go with it.
Continuing up Hwy395 higher into the Sierra's was truly beautiful, nice weather and spectacular scenery..what more could you possibly ask for?! Head west on the Sonora Pass to the other side of the mountain range. After we crest Sonora Pass ( a little under 10,000 feet ) we found a great campsite next to a stream with fishing and a good place to cool down the beer we'd been carrying all day. After a great supper and campfire it was a wonderful nights sleep. Saturday dawned not quite so clear and we were breaking camp it started to, it started to snow!!! I've ridden in the snow before, but not two up fully loaded with camping gear!! Yikes...Anyway, we made it down to the town of Sonora safe and sound if not wet and cold. Hot coffee and a big breakfast we're on our way to another Sierra pass! This time it's Carson Pass heading to the southeast end of the Tahoe Valley. Riding along at pretty good clip ( thats what happens when you ride with ex-roadracers??!! ) we come upon a group of slower riders ( a big group!!) fortunately Jeff knows a little alternate route and we don't get stuck in the 25mph parade. The road keeps climbing up the pass and there is more and more snow on the road..uh..could there be ice too?? Instant two wheel slide says "yeah baby!!" time to slow down maybe?? Nah...but it is time to stop and put on Pat Widders finest!!! Ah..electric vest and gloves..comfy! The rest of the days ride was pretty uneventfull but riding around Lake Tahoe is always awe inspiring. The fall colors unbelievable!
We arrived at Jeffs condo with enough daylight to check over the motorcycles and enjoy cocktails at sunset. Steak and Shrimp BBQ'd on the deck for supper...does life get any better?? I don't think so.
The return trip in the next episode..stay tuned. Also be watching for the premier episode of 'the motoworld' podcast coming in the next day or so..
See you on the road!

Friday, November 18, 2005

I'm just getting ready to put up 'the motoworld'..'the podcast magazine for motorcyclists'..we'll have interviews, stories and motorcycle reviews..everything from visits with motorcycle racing legends and average and touring to make your travels easier and more fun...what gadgets and doo-dads work and which ones don''s all about the people that ride motorcycles.."the best thirty minutes you can spend without twisting the throttle"
What do you think??? What would you like to hear???
Oh..and who am I ????
I've been riding motorcycles since I was 15..I'm 53 now..I started desert racing at 16 and enduros at 18..I've ridden the Barstow to Vegas desert race four times..the Greenhorn Enduro twice..along with a whole slew of AMA Disrtict 37 desert races and enduros..after a few years of ski racing I came back to motorcycle racing...this time on the pavement...Roadracing with the Willow Springs Motorcycle Club, AFM, WERA and AMA...I got turned down to ride the Isle of Man because I WAS TOO OLD!!! I had just finished third in the WERA 24 hour endurance race, 600 superstock..and all I wanted to do was race a Single??!! Ah well...I've travelled all over the western USA and Canada on a Honda CB350 (all over California, Oregon and Washington on a little 350!!) CB750F, Yamaha FJ1200, Triumph Daytona Super3, Ducati Darmah and a Yamaha TDM850. All in all over a half a million miles...
So, as we put this together we'll talk with with Bonneville Land Speed record holders, long distance rally riders, dealership owners, club racers, mechanics and anybody else that will spend time with us...
So..pass along your ideas..lets have fun with this!