Author Archives: Bruce
I love high performance vehicles. And, if you think about it, almost all motorcycles qualify as high performance vehicles. On the other hand, most cars do not qualify as high performance vehicles. And, those that do qualify are expensive. Like, as in, ‘I’m not getting one anytime soon’ expensive. So I ride motorcycles.
Blurring the lines between cars and motorcycles is the 2015 Polaris Slingshot, a vehicle that may represent the highest value for the money in its segment. There are actually two flavors of the vehicle: the Slingshot and Slingshot SL. The standard model, available in grey, retails for $19,999. The Slingshot SL, with bigger wheels, Red Pearl paint and a blade windshield retails for $23,999.
Similar to a Lotus Seven or a Caterham, the Slingshot is just barely not an open-wheel car. The Feds say three wheels equals motorcycle. The styling, angular and swoopy all at the same time, suits the vehicle and certainly attracts attention – lots of attention from everyone, especially from those into performance vehicles and from small children who appeared to lose their minds and all self control when the Slingshot passed by.
While the exterior of the Slingshot appears to have an uncommon layout, the cockpit does not. Inside, the layout is standard sports car fare – steering wheel and three pedals with a standard 5-speed transmission. In its narrow footwell, the pedals are placed for easy heel-toe driving and there is a solid dead pedal off to the side.
Finding Adventure with Bilbo And Two Wheels
By Paul Berglund
Somewhere back in grade school I was handed a book of excerpts from other books; reading it was required, so I set about my task. My lackadaisical brain grew grumpy from the effort. Then I came upon one excerpt from The Hobbit. I was hooked. I went out and bought the book, not an easy thing to do for a kid in rural Minnesota in the 1960s. I read it many times over the years. When I got my first (and only) dog, I named him Bilbo. Thankfully he was an Australian Shepard and reputedly, he was smarter than me. Together we hiked along the river, over fields and through the swamp. I would be gone all day, returning only when I was hungry, or the smell of us grew too foul.
About the time I was age 12 someone gave me a bamboo pole. I don’t know where it came from, other than China. It was one of the most wondrous gifts I ever got. It was from the other side of the world. It was so light and yet incredibly strong. It joined Bilbo and I on our adventures. I would pole-vault from clump to clump and reach impassable parts of the swamp. Only Bilbo would stink of swamp from then on. With the bamboo I could poke the untouchable or fend off an enraged woodchuck. It was the most versatile of tools. It came to symbolize much more than a walking stick.
By Thomas Day
I was exploring some of the dirt roads between St. Paul and Taylors Falls on a Saturday morning this past fall, when I had the occasion to come to a couple of emergency stops. The first time was after a short series of 15mph turns on a paved farm road, I was barely out of one of the turns when a large deer wandered into the road and stopped to observe my on-coming motorcycle. He was in the middle of my lane and, since a truck was coming the other direction, the only evasive maneuver available to me was a quick stop.
I’ve read several reviews of my WR250X that implied that the brakes are “weak” or “mushy.” I beg to differ. Maybe for a racer’s tastes those descriptions are apt, but for my weekend warrior playbike purposes the WR stops just fine. And it did.
A few years back, I managed to execute a similar maneuver at night on a mostly-empty highway on my 650 V-Strom. For the most part, that incident had a happy ending, too, other than getting me gore-coated when an opposite-direction pickup splattered the deer all over his truck, emptying the contents of the deer’s bowels all over me in the process.
By Jesse Walters
If you are reading this, you are likely to be more than just a casual motorcyclist. Chances are, you enjoy riding, reading, working on, and talking bikes with your riding friends whenever possible. Unfortunately, business trips, daily commutes and time at the gym distract us from focusing on our two-wheel passion. Fortunately in this great digital on-demand age, there are a myriad of motorcycle podcasts that can satisfy your need for motorcycle content.
For those of you still gapping your points, tickling your carbs and kick-starting your parallel twins, an explanation of podcasts might be in order. In short, podcasts are Internet radio shows. Most are recorded weekly, some more often than others. The production quality ranges from homegrown podcasts recorded on laptops to full studio productions. Podcasts can vary greatly in this regard, but enthusiasm for motorcycles is their common denominator. Instead of being broadcasted on your FM dial, they are broadcasted digitally across the Internet. The beauty of podcasts is their on-demand playback. You can download the podcast and play it when you want to; at the gym, in the workshop or on the commute.
It’s September and I’m trying to figure out where the summer has gone. My summer of 2014 has been completely owned by our home sale and new home purchase. We decided this Spring to sell our home of the past 10 years. It was a five bedroom, 3 bathroom house that no longer housed our four children. It was time to down size. We bought a house in NE Minneapolis that is about half the size. This translated into getting rid of half our stuff. My lovely wife did most of the work. I was not nearly as helpful as I should have been. I’m much better at accumulating stuff than I am at getting rid of it.
I’m sure you’re wondering what any of this has to do with motorcycles. For starters, I had to sell a bike because we won’t have room for it. I’ll be lucky if I put 5,000 miles on my road bike this summer and finally, I haven’t been trail riding since last fall. On the upside, I have been enjoying some fond memories of past riding experiences. A couple of things triggered this. Feeling older because my kids are all gone and I’m moving to a smaller house, and a Minnesota 1000 sticker on my tool box.
By David Harrington
For several years now I have been helping out at Scooterville on Saturdays. Bob’s crew is a joy to work with and it’s great fun to help introduce scootering to people.
Many of the customers who come in are looking for their first powered two-wheeled conveyance and have a great number of questions. Sometimes, a person will come in who has already invested a great deal of time in selecting what they want. That was the case with Deirdre (name changed to protect the guilty, very, very guilty). She was an accountant and, true to the stereotype, she had done her research and knew just what she was after.
Direct by Maury Dexter
American International Pictures, 1968
82 minutes, Not Rated
by Tammy Wanchena
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and this 1968 cinematic classic is further proof. When rodeo star, Jeff Logan marries a brunette, his blonde ex, Shayne goes out of her way to teach him the error of his ways. And since Shayne is the leader of the bad ass biker gang, the Mini-Skirt Mob, she has reinforcements to assist her in her reign of terror. She uses super creative ways to terrorize him, such as playing “hogs of the road” (using their Honda 305 Scramblers and the like) to run Jeff’s camper trailer off the road. When it results in the death of one of their own, Shayne convinces the gang it was Jeff’s fault their friend died.
Pat Matter, the founder and 20-year president of Hells Angels’ Minnesota chapter, served nine years in prison after rolling over on cohorts during a dogged investigation by former Hennepin County Sheriff’s detective and retired Capt. Chris Omodt.
In 2012, few months after Matter was released from federal prison, the two agreed to co-author a book. Available now, “Breaking the Code” is written from the perspectives of both Omodt and Matter, with chapters alternating between the two.
Matter tells the story of his life as a Hells Angel in the Twin Cities and Omodt tells the investigation side of the story.
“We’d come to learn that his drug distribution business ran into the multi-millions of dollars,” Omodt wrote in the book. “His Hells Angels chapter was the envy of other outlaw motorcycle gangs. And his custom motorcycle shop – his one business that had eventually become legitimate – had been featured nationally in countless cycle magazines.”
“I had a choice to make and I made it,” Matter wrote in the book. “We all make choices. We all live our lives the best we know how and we do what we have to do. That’s just the way life works and I’m not going to apologize for it.”
Küryakyn Launches Performance Division
Küryakyn, the bolt-on parts and accessories specialist based in Somerset, Wis., celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2014.
Küryakyn says its goal has been to design one new product every day, resulting in more than 250 new products being brought to market every year. As a part of that massive product offensive, the company recently came out with a new V-twin sub-brand it calls Crusher Performance.
New product development is already in full swing, with the Maverick 4” slip-on and 2-into-2 exhaust systems debuting in Sturgis.
Learn more at Crusher Performance www.crusherperformance.com
Lube-Tech Enters Polaris Hall of Fame
Lube-Tech, an oil company located in Golden Valley, has been inducted into the Polaris Industries Hall of Fame for its “significant contributions” to the vehicle manufacturer.
Lube-Tech provides specially formulated oils for a variety of OEMs under private label agreements and has spent more than 20 years as a Polaris supplier.
Polaris, based in Medina, Minn., inducted three retired employees, three dealers and a key supplier to the Hall of Fame during the company’s dealer meeting in late July, during which the OEM also celebrated its 60th anniversary.
Royal Enfield Taps Former H-D Suit
India-based Eicher Motors Ltd. has named Rod Copes as president of its Royal Enfield business in North America as the brand begins work to “rapidly expand” stateside – already the company’s top export market.
Copes previously worked with Harley-Davidson, most recently as head of Global Sales & Customer Service. He holds a Master’s degree in Engineering and an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“The North American region provides an interesting opportunity for the brand,” Copes said. “While lightweight and heavyweight bikes dominate the motorcycle scene in the U.S.A and Canada, Royal Enfield sits right in the middle with classic, fun, approachable designs that appeal to a younger, urban-oriented demographic.”
“We welcome and are encouraged by the appointment of Rod,” Kevin Mahoney, president of Faribault, Minn.-based Royal Enfield importer and distributor Classic Motorworks Ltd., said in a prepared statement. “Rod will be a welcome addition to our team in the U.S. and we are looking forward to working with him.”
Royal Enfield motorcycles are sold in Minneapolis by GoMoto.
One Sexy Biker Chick
Downtown Shakopee has One Sexy Biker Chick. At least, that’s the name of the women’s motorcycle apparel shop Inessa Hansen recently opened to sell shirts, jackets, boots, gloves and accessories.
A resident of Prior Lake, Hansen launched the One Sexy Biker Chick clothing line online in 2010 and sells product at a couple of dozen motorcycle rallies every year.
The Shakopee location – a 1880s era building – features a 2,000-square-foot store and 2,300-square-foot warehouse.
Sturgis Looks Toward 75th
Although official figures have yet to be revealed, visitors to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in early August report attendance appeared to be down compared to the event in 2013, when roughly 467,000 enthusiasts rolled in – according to the tally distributed by organizers.
Nevertheless, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally will celebrate its 75th year in 2015, and some organizers and city leaders estimate the event could attract one million visitors.
“I’m very confident the 75th will be remarkably more heavily attended than anything we have experienced before,” Buffalo Chip President Rod Woodruff told the Rapid City Journal. “It will be the biggest rally we have ever had.”
It had better be. Woodruff went on the say that a banner year for the Black Hills event would buck the trend of other major rallies conducted throughout the U.S., all of which have experienced declining attendance over the past decade.
“Rallies failed,” he said. “A decade ago, Daytona rivaled Sturgis in attendance but it’s virtually gone, a mere shadow of its former self.”
Relatedly, the South Dakota Highway Patrol says it this year tallied 244 DUI arrests, 252 misdemeanor drug arrests, 90 felony drug arrests, and seized more than $25,000 in cash during the course of the annual event. The S.D. Department of Public Safety says 68 crashes resulted in four motorcyclist fatalities, down from six in 2013.
By Guido Ebert
Lets start by pointing out that there have been quite a few bikes that look like this on the market; most, apparently, squarely targeted at Harley-Davidson’s successful Heritage Softail Classic.
Building a LT is a familiar recipe for cruiser manufacturers. Step 1) Base it on a cruiser in your line. Step 2) Raid the parts bin for items that’ll make that existing cruiser comfortable for light touring duties.
In this case, the 2014 Thunderbird LT shares its structure with the equally new Thunderbird Commander ($15,699) and some of the amenities – fore and aft lighting, for instance – appear to come from the Rocket III Touring.
From a technical standpoint, the only real difference between the Commander and the Thunderbird LT is that the Commander runs on a 140/75 ZR17 front tire with 17 x 3.5 in. cast alloy five-spoke and a 200/50 ZR17 rear tire with a 17 x 6 in. cast alloy five-spoke.