Category Archives: Miscellaneous Archives
by Mark DesCartes
We rolled down the hill to the boat landing on the Mississippi River near Cassville, Wisconsin; the two dual-sport bikes laden with everything we needed for a four-day trip on the Trans-Wisconsin Trail. Chet and I killed our motors to take in the fog roiling over the Mississippi and to double-check our GPS tracks. It wasn’t yet 7am, our bikes were fueled, our bellies full, and the waypoint pointed northwest.
“What’s with your tire?” Chet asked.
I looked down at the bike and my stomach dropped. Several knobs on the rear Dunlop 606 had been ripped back, revealing the cords below.
Treds - 12” Motorcycle Overboots
by Gus Breiland
With spring comes the every day threat of rain, slush, grime and just pain filth. I love riding, but sometimes this crap really gets to me. It is not so much the riding conditions themselves, but what these conditions do to your gear.
Last year I finally found some waterproof boots that I enjoy both riding in and walking around in once I get there. Now I have a way to guarantee that those boots will survive the filthy salt spray that comes from the light rainy days of Minnesota’s spring. I am not worried about the water proofing of my boots not working, but what the road salt and chemicals that MNDOT puts down all winter will do to those boots. That stuff tends to not only eat motorcycle and auto parts but it tends to dry out my leather boots so I look and feel like the Wicked Witch after Dorothy drops a house on me.
The T.R.E.D.S 12” Overboot is a great piece of gear. The one-piece construction pulls on with relative ease and snaps snugly around my shin. They fit over hiking boots, riding boots, sneakers, dress shoes or even your bare feet. This latex rubber boot stretches up to 800% its size and resists tearing.
Not only does it resist tearing but I could not force the issue either. I tried tearing a sample of the material provided to MMM and also the boot itself. The sample piece had a splice in it and after pulling on that splice, I could not increase the length of the cut. I put 2 or 3 more cuts into the sample (not an easy task in itself) trying to find the grain of the rubber, but no dice. This material returns to its original shape and tears do not increase in size at all.
The boot adds a bit of height to your toe for the shifter. It is not a big deal, but it will change your spacing a bit. Some will find that they have to adjust their shifter while others will just adjust their shifter foot. I am the latter.
Not only is this a great addition to your riding gear but also your gardening gear, construction gear, or pushing your buddy’s boat off the shore gear. The boots come in a box folded one over another and strapped with the same material. Save the strap and throw the boots into your saddlebag on long rides. When weather threatens, pull them out and pull ‘em on. You will find that they take up little room and are quite valuable if you like dry feet.
T.R.E.D.S has a wide variety of boots that include the over the shoe, a 12” boot, 16” and even a 17” tall boot. I have been using the 12” boot and if works just fine. I slip them on, tuck them under my riding pants and my feet are dry from start to finish. The 12” boots cost roughly $30 plus shipping. I highly recommend grabbing a set for yourself, if not for gifts for your riding friends. They may even invite you back to their house or forgive any past transgressions you my have been guilty of.
You can order your T.R.E.D.S directly from http://www.treds.com/ or 1-513-489-2283. Otherwise if you have questions, email them at email@example.com. Their sizing was right on for me. I have a size 11-foot, so I ordered the 11-12 boot and it fit perfectly. Since the boot stretches so much, the boot will adjust to your foot (stretching that is) rather than your foot having to adjust for the boot.
by Bill Hufnagle
Have you ever been pick-pocketed or mugged? How did you feel knowing someone was stealing your hard-earned money? Wouldn’t it feel even worse if they were using your money to fund a scheme to rob you again and again?
You bet it would. If you are a law-abiding, motorcycle-riding American citizen, this is happening to you. A crafty group of self-proclaimed safety advocates, and very likely one or more businesses you write checks to, have aligned themselves to steal your right to ride. They are even trying to eliminate funding for rider safety education programs. You can be certain that if they succeed, those surcharges on your motorcycle license won’t disappear. The money will be spent on something else totally unrelated to true motorcycle safety.
These groups are undermining legislation we propose to make public roads safer and dangerous drivers more responsible for the harm they do. Consider the mere slap on the wrist the ex-congressman Janklow got for killing a motorcyclist in South Dakota. Watch and see what the court metes out to Bishop O’Brien, convicted of a hit-and-run death involving a pedestrian in Arizona. Something tells me the penalty for killing a pedestrian is higher than for killing a biker. While I know that these cases are not identical, there is still no reason in God’s creation that one human life is worth more than another because of a chosen, legal mode of transportation.
Why do the courts, juries, and halls of elected government seem to tilt against us? Why are sensible laws that would increase our safety dead-ended, while laws mandating helmet use or forced organ donation seem to pop up as predictably as crocuses in the spring? The reason is clear. We are losing the public relations battle in the halls of power. Our opponents are simply better funded. Therefore, they are more capable of buying political results. They are also more motivated since they are working against us out of corporate greed.
We just want to be left alone to ride free and enjoy our private lives. Please don’t get me wrong. We have our advocates and many of us spend loads of time and money supporting them. I often call upon my fellow motorcyclists to join and support those groups. But that is not what I want to ask you to do today. I have another technique I would like you to consider.
I suggest that we also fight this battle on another front by hitting them where they will really feel it—their bottom line. As I alluded to before, these companies are taking your money and spending it against your freedom and safety. Let’s work to reduce that funding. Consider these groups of “safety advocates,” and then look at their actions against our rights and where they get their money:
1) Advocates for Highway Safety (AAHS)—The name sounds innocent enough. But, these folks are at the forefront of attacks on our motorcycle rights and our safety initiatives.
2) Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) —Their name says it all: they represent the economic interests of the insurance industry.
3) Public Citizen (PC) —Formed by Ralph Nader and now run by our longtime archenemy Joan Claybrook, this group is another vocal advocate against our rights. Claybrook was the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NTHSA) under President Carter. If you are old enough to remember those days, you also remember the federal highway-funds blackmail of states about mandatory helmet use, the 55 MPH speed limit, and the long waits in lines to buy gas at inflated prices—assuming it was even a day you were allowed to buy gas.
There are more groups, but these stand at the forefront. I suggest you do some web searching on them and see what they stand for, how they are connected, and where they get their funding. You won’t like what you find. Insurance companies directly fund both AAHS and IIHS. You directly fund these. PC claims it “does not accept funds from corporations, professional associations or government agencies.” But, it has a seat on the board of directors of AAHS. These groups are too tightly woven together, too connected in the halls of government, and too supported by the insurance industry—either directly or indirectly. The insurance industry is just looking out for its bottom line. If the companies can take your money and keep you from exercising your right to manage your own risks, they will profit more. A quick review of which insurance companies are using your money against you will no doubt reveal that you might not be able to find one that doesn’t. So what can you do?
Here is my suggestion: Research who your insurance company is and which groups they support. Then take action. Write polite letters to them. Tell them that you are unhappy that they are taking your money and using it against you. Make sure to tell them how much you pay them per year. Ask them to stop it immediately.
Here is where it can get really effective. Most of you own some stocks and or mutual funds or are part of some type of retirement fund, probably invested in some of these insurance company stocks. Further, your employer, union, city, town, county, state, and so on have money in pension funds that are probably invested in these insurance companies as well. Write polite letters to all of these fund managers and stockbrokers demanding that they divest of these stocks. Also send them a copy of the letter you sent to the insurance company. Send the insurance company a copy of the letter to the funds managers and brokers. Civic-minded investing helped end apartheid in South Africa, and it can help change the second-class treatment of motorcycle riders in America.
It is just a modest proposal, but maybe some motorcycling organization can champion this and make it a movement. Then some day we can overcome these injustices and be set free. Ride Free!
My friend Kelly McEnany from Asheville, North Carolina, told me about a dish that used cauliflower like mashed potatoes. The idea sounded so good that I rode home and made it in my own fiery way. The flavor of the cauliflower makes spuds look like duds. I have served this to people who dislike cauliflower and they loved it. It’s a great way to get the little bikers in your house eat their veggies.
1 medium-size head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets and steamed until tender
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1. In a food processor, combine cauliflower, butter, white pepper, salt, cayenne, and garlic powder and pulse several times to break up the cauliflower florets.
2. With the machine running, slowly add the half-and-half through the feed tube and process until the cauliflower is smooth. (If the cauliflower is very moist you may not need all the half-and-half.)
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Biker Billy hosts a syndicated television cooking show, “Biker Billy Cooks with Fire”, and has authored three cookbooks. Just released in 2003 is his latest book, “BIKER BILLY’S HOG WILD ON A HARLEY COOKBOOK”. The book includes 200 recipes from HOG members and Harley riders across America and an ample supply of Biker Billy’s own fiery recipes.
The book is endowed with Biker Billy’s unique biker banter. It is sure to bring the adventure and flavor of the open road to your table and family.
The illustrated book is published by Harvard Common Press and is available in bookstores everywhere for $19/95, or on Biker Billy’s web site where you can have it autographed. Check out www.bikerbilly.com where you can also find information on Biker Billy’s touring schedule.
Column copyright Bill Hufnagle 2003. Recipe reprinted with permission from “BIKER BILLY’S HOG WILD ON A HARLEY COOKBOOK”, published by Harvard Common Press, Boston copyright Bill Hufnagle 2003.
By Gary Charpentier
I’ve never been a patient man. The fact that I turned forty last year is simply a chronological curiosity. It is nothing more than another mile marker on what is turning out to be a long and difficult journey. Age has not mellowed me at all, especially when it comes to spring fever. I still get the same jittery urges I’ve always had `round about this time of year. As soon as the snow cover gives way to mud and dead flora, my throttle hand starts twitching and my mind begins playing those old road movies again.
But Old Man Winter is a stubborn brute. He is hanging on by his fingernails, blowing his last frigid gasp into the middle of March, stirring up the final, feeble snowstorms of the season, and keeping those salt-slingin’ plow trucks in business. I hate that wretched geezer! Why can’t he just retire gracefully and go back to the icy hell that spawned him? Could this be yet another sign of global warming? NOT! (Sorry Mr. Soucheray…)
So far the month of March has given me a couple of false starts. Twice this year I have ridden Kermit to work, and while it wasn’t exactly pleasant, it wasn’t too terrible either. I dressed in my trusty leather snowmobile gear and braved the elements with minimal drama. When I came to ice on the road, I just rolled across it with a steady hand on the throttle. You have to stay loose in these situations, ready to respond but not all tensed up. The scenery wasn’t all that great, as late winter is the ugliest of seasons here in Minnesota. All the stuff that died last fall has been smushed down and slightly decayed under heavy mounds of disgusting snow. At least it hasn’t begun to stink yet….
As usual, the biggest hazard by far was the four-wheeled traffic of SUVs and pocket-rocket punk cars. They don’t expect motorcycles to be on the road yet. “Not until the sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and birds are singing.” as an old “biker dude” once told me. Sitting tall in the saddle of my KLR, I realized quickly that I wasn’t as confident as I had been on my sneaky-fast Ducati or even my old Cafe Scrambler. Kermit doesn’t always have the horsepower necessary to blast our way out of dangerous, confining situations. Cars and trucks get faster and larger every year, which makes them more dangerous to those of us who choose two wheels for transport. Meanwhile, drivers get more distracted with gadgets and fast food and psycho talk-radio as they try to hustle their way to work. I really had to keep my head on a swivel and use the horn and high beam to make sure I was noticed. It was harrowing, to say the least, but a thrill nonetheless. Sparring with violent death has always been one of my favorite hobbies.
The weather forecast for the next week contains snow showers separated by partly cloudy days in the low forties. Well foggitaboudit, I’m gonna ride! Simply put, I’m done with waiting. If Old Man Winter gets in my way, I’m gonna kick him in the balls and ride a wheelie over his writhing, withered carcass! I know this means that I will expose my nearly new motorbike to salt-spray and somnolent motorists. I am truly sorry for that. But a man can only take so much, and I’ve reached my limit. I will rinse off the salt as best I can and blow everything dry with compressed air. Then I can squirt on a coat of WD-40 to help ward off corrosion. Worst-case will have me disassembling my faithful steed just like my old friend the M-16A1 and lovingly apply a coat of gun-oil to all of it’s working parts. Can’t hurt, right? (I love the smell of gun-oil in the morning!)
Just to test my commitment on this, I took a little ride tonight. It was twenty-six degrees, the roads were full of salt and sand, little patches of ice here and there, but certainly navigable to someone who had ridden in the depths of winter before. Kermit and I roamed the side streets of South Saint Paul, leisurely exploring the old neighborhoods, taking note of Turnabout Books on Southview for later investigation. I say that because with all the gear I was wearing, it just wasn’t convenient to stop in and browse for literary treasure. I’d have looked pretty silly waddling around the store in my black leather space suit. I think I’ll wait until spring really gets here to pay them a visit. Besides, by then I’ll have installed my new Dirt Bagz panniers and we’ll have more luggage room for the ton of books I almost always buy. Turnabout had to close their store on Smith Avenue, which is closer to my home. There was a lack of foot traffic and parking in the area. That’s a shame, but too often it’s the inevitable fate of Mom-n-Pop stores located in the urban jungle.
So on we rode, right to the end of streets overlooking the Mississippi River valley and the old stockyards. I stood there astride Kermit at the guardrails, looking down and remembering the horrible stench that used to emanate from the abattoirs. I recall riding in the back of Dad’s `65 Plymouth station wagon over the 494 bridge, knowing we were close to home by the presence of that putrid odor. It’s mostly gone now, but on some days if the wind is just right, you can still catch a whiff.
We followed serpentine pavement down the hill to familiar Concord Avenue, turning right to take that road south past the great 494 loop and into the southern suburbs. It’s interesting to note the juxtaposition of new development with the landscape of my early childhood memories. It seems like two different worlds, set in uneasy proximity. When I was only a toddler, my parents rented an apartment along Concord with a spectacular view of the Ashland refinery. I remember dark winter nights when my breath would mist on my bedroom window as I gazed out at the flames of waste gas burning from the tops of those tall pipes, all set in a sea of brilliant mercury vapor lights. “Puff the Magic Dragon” was on the Top Forty charts at that time, and I would hum that song to myself as I dreamed up fantasies of fire-breathing monsters and castles made of stars.
Just before we got to Highway 52, I turned Kermit around to head back home again. The chill was starting to get to me, and Amy would have dinner ready by the time I arrived. We rode back past the defunct Indian Motorcycle dealership. The place now sells something called Big Dog. Bunch of over-priced, over-painted, baubles-on-wheels if you ask me. But apparently some people like them well enough to keep them in business. Subtlety doesn’t seem to be in fashion these days. We passed the sign for Betty’s Truck stop and Cafe, which closed only last year, and affirms my maxim that nothing cool ever lasts.
After climbing up the backside of Ton-Up Hill, we pulled into the garage and I shut Kermit down for the night. We are supposed to get an inch or two of snow by tomorrow morning. I don’t know if that’s true, or if the weather geeks are trying to cover their collective asses. Doesn’t matter much to me. I’m all through with waitin’. Tomorrow we RIDE!
By Troy Johnson
“Was that a six?” “It looked like a CBX engine?” “That was no CBX.” “What was that?”
Bewildered comments like these follow Greg Smith whenever he rides his bike into town from his farm in Elk River. If you’ve seen this six-cylinder, pearl-white puzzle roll by on a sunny, Sunday morning, you have had the privilege of gazing at a Moto Martin framed CBX. This is one of the two currently garaged in the United States.
The six-cylinder, 24-valve, CBX powerplant is a large landmark on the road of Honda engineering, and the bike has become one of the few Japanese collectibles. Surprisingly, this beloved machine was a thorn in Honda’s side during its production life.
The bike didn’t sell. It didn’t sell in 1979 and 1980 as a twin-shock, unfaired standard, so Honda added bodywork and a mono-shock in 1981 and pointed the CBX to the touring market. It still didn’t sell. After the 1982 model year, Honda was out of ideas for its six, and Honda warehouses were full of unsold CBXs. They pulled the plug.
Honda inadvertently insured the CBX’s future cult status by giving the leftover bikes to mechanics’ schools. The 100+ horsepower, 1,047cc six imprinted itself into the brains of scores of young wrench-spinners, and the schools’ CBXs were unregisterable–brand new parts bikes.
One of the reasons for the CBX’s dismal sales was its handling characteristics. It weighed in excess of 580 pounds with fuel and sported a frame that, if ridden hard, allowed the engine and wheels to go in three directions at once.
The French firm, Moto Martin, was not as quick as Honda to give up on the CBX. In 1984, Moto Martin isolated the handling problems and eliminated them by unbolting the engine and throwing everything else away. Right motor, wrong bike.
Moto Martin provided the big six with a new home that was both stiffer and lighter than the original. They used the original CBX chassis geometry (58.5″ wheelbase, 27.5º rake, 4.7″ trail) as a jumping off point, but they tied the front and back of the bike together with a straighter, saner frame. The polished nickel tubes came off the steering head, made a wide bow around the bank of six stock carbs and turned once a couple inches above the swing-arm pivot to clear the lower crankcase. 42mm Moto Martin forks replaced the stock 37mm tubes. The mounts for the single, rear shock place it horizontally under the seat. The fiberglass seat/tank/tail section was one piece. Brembo supplied the brakes, and the whole works weighed just over 500 pounds with fuel.
The engine in Greg Smith’s example is an ’81 crate motor, that he found in California and just finished breaking in. This bike is fitted with Dyna coils and ignition and Stage 3 jets.
The frame rails don’t leave much room for air cleaners, so Uni filters work best. The exhaust system is a beautiful D&G six-into-one unit that Greg sent out to Airborne for a ceramic-on-steel coating. This has given the pipes a deep, semi-gloss luster and left them impervious to corrosion. The handle bar is a solid aluminum piece from K&M.
Moto Martin supplied this chassis in kit form, so each motorcycle is slightly different in the details. Smith is the proprietor of Kuhnhenn Machine Werks and fashioned the billet aluminum parts on this Martin specimen himself. His creations include the triple clamps, the motor mounts, the footpegs, and the aluminum fork boots that replaced the pedestrian rubber boots. There is no chrome on this motorcycle. All the shiny parts are polished metal.
Both Greg Smith and a 1984 issue of Cycle News praise the Moto Martin’s road manners. Smith says his bike is “always stable.” Cycle News shaved four seconds off the previous best CBX lap time at Willow Springs while taking care not to scrape anything on their bright red Martin loaner.
The Moto Martin CBX is an uncompromised cafe racer. It has a legendary engine, a chassis that keeps everything moving in a straight line, and the simple elegance that defines the genre.
By Lee Meyer
Violent, gut-wrenching, hang-on-for-dear-life acceleration and the spirit of competition are why we do it. Drag race. Horsepower is God in this sport, and those who control their power win the show. Many of you may think this sport is easy, dull even. Hit the gas when the light turns green, and the first one to go a quarter mile wins, right? It only works that way in the pro classes.
Since you could buy a house for the dough it takes to build a pro bike, let’s explore the world of small-time racing: Bracket racing or “run whatcha brung”. The rules in the pro classes insure that fairly equally built and prepared machines race against one another. The range and variety of machines at a Bracket meet are huge. Obviously, the most powerful machine has an advantage, so a handicap system evens things out.
Here’s how it works. You get several time trials to establish how fast you and your machine can go. Using the info on the time slips you get after each run, you write a “dial-in” time in white shoe polish on your bike, so the folks in the tower can see it. In an honest world, your dial-in is as fast as you and your bike will go. Each lane at the strip has its own lights. The tower uses the dial-ins to calculate a staged start. The slower rider gets to go first. In that same honest world, both bikes should finish at the same time. This never happens. Never. Scorekeepers figure your times down to the hundredth, thousandth or ten-thousandth of a second. Someone will get there first. Oh, to make things a little more interesting, if you run faster than your dial-in, you lose! They call this “breaking out”. If both parties break out, the least broken one wins.
Consistency is what you want. Speed is fun, but if you can’t run right on your dial-in, you’ll never see the second round of eliminations. Rider skill, a well-tuned machine and a little luck are what win in Bracket racing.
You will need a couple of safety items if you want to drag race. First, a dead man ignition switch will cut the ignition if you fall off your bike. It would be a touch uncool for your 500 pound, two-wheeled, unguided missile to ghost-ride itself into the bleachers. Second, a chain guard of steel or a substantial thickness of aluminum will keep broken chains under control. Third, you must wear appropriate gear. This includes above-the-ankle leather boots, leather gloves, leather jacket and pants, and a Snell approved helmet.
You might want to let some air out of that rear tire for better traction. How much? You’ll have to figure that out. I bring my big Ninja’s fat ME-Z2 down to 25 psi. In the staging area, a burnout probably isn’t necessary for most street bikes with D.O.T. rubber tires. A short, dry one may be helpful to clean the tire’s surface and give it some heat.
Here is a big hint. When you are staring at that drag strip Christmas Tree, ignore the other rider’s lights. Slowly pull up to the light sensor beam on the track in front of you until you turn on the top little yellow light. Now you are pre-staged. Get yourself ready. Move forward an inch or two until the second little yellow light is on. Now you are staged. The controller may trigger the tree countdown at any time once you are staged, usually very soon. There are three yellow lights, a green and a red. Hopefully, you will never see a red. It means you left too soon and beat yourself before the race even started.
I spent three Sundays in August at drag strips. Grove creek is an eighth mile track about six miles west of Litchfield on Highway 12. Generally, the bikes here run in a trophy class, and entrance fees are $25.00 to race. This is a good place to learn. It is inexpensive, and, because it’s small, you get a lot of trial runs. Time runs start at about 9:00 a.m., so be there early.
When I hit the gas at Grove Creek, I struggled a bit to keep the big ZX under control in first gear. I grabbed second gear and launched the front tire a foot in the air. Upon reaching the finish lights, I noticed I had about 100 yards of slow down room. I was going about 100 mile per hour, so I got on the brakes hard…and now.
After everything was under control, a guy in a small building on the return road handed me my time slip. I looked under my lane and entry number (311) to check my dial-in, reaction time, 60-foot time, mph clocked at the top end, and elapsed time in seconds.
Reaction time is a big deal. Christmas tree lights flash at half second intervals, therefore, a perfect reaction time is 0.500 seconds. 0.499 is a red light. The time from 0.500 up is how long you sat there while the light was green.
My first run was 7.555 seconds at 100.33 mph with a 0.683 reaction time–kind of snoozing at the green. My four elapsed times were 7.55, 7.75, 7.50, and 7.84. I dialed a happy medium of 7.60 seconds.
Eight bikes entered that day, but one Harley never made it off the truck. One of us would get a bye. We drew numbers, and I was the lucky one. I got another time run and automatically advanced to the second round. The bike went 7.61 at 105 mph, and I had an acceptable reaction time of 0.601. Round two found me up against a Harley-Davidson. I noticed he had a tire-spin problem earlier in the day, so I wasn’t too worked up. Easy win. Round three was the final. I took on a V-Max that had been doing pretty well. Max had a decent lead on me most of the way down. Thinking he had me beat, he got off the throttle a touch too early. He forgot that my big ZX-11 makes up time in second and third gear like a screaming maniac. By the time he realized his mistake, it was too late. I won, not by much, but I won. Okay, I was lucky, but I won.
The next Sunday at Rock Falls Raceway, a full quarter mile track in Wisconsin, I entered the money race. Every bike there was set up for the drags with a full compliment of electric doo-dads, slicks, wheelie bars, slipper clutches, and whatever. I was the only street geek.
The heat got worse as the day wore on, and the humidity hovered somewhere around 400%. My Kawasaki ran like a pooch. Ram-air bikes and hot, humid weather don’t mix too well. It’s like forcing water right into the carbs. My first run was my best run of the day (11.42 seconds at 124.84 mph). Every run thereafter was significantly slower. When it came time to dial-in, I winged it, guessed wrong, and crapped out in round one.
The next week back at Grove Creek, I exited in the second round. Broke out in a big way.
What have we learned from all this? They don’t build street bikes for this kind of thing. First gear on my ZX is almost unusable at the strip (unless you like giant king-hell wheelies, large amounts of wheel spin, etc.), and you can forget about using full throttle until nearly second gear. An old Hondamatic would be a killer Bracket bike. Hit the gas and go. It’s the same over and over. Horsepower is fun, but consistency wins.
Dragging is hard on equipment. The second time at Grove Creek I saw Mr. V-Max again. He never made it to eliminations. Something in the Max’s shaft unit self-destructed. Ouch. Back on the trailer. My own ZX is feeling the pain of 20+ drag runs. It now has an internal engine vibration problem. Guess what I’ll be doing this winter.
Would I do all this again? Oh, yea. It’s a kick. Next year the ZX-11 might look a little different. I’m thinking about a wheelie bar, slick, some electric gizmos, and a big rear sprocket. However, drag racing is one of the only motorsports left that allows nearly anyone on anything to compete on a track at a reasonable cost. Beware. It can be addicting. I caught the bug at a very young age, and I am clearly not cured.
Next month is October. I hate to say this, but most of us will be thinking of preparing the machines for the inevitable nine months of deep-freeze. Ick. Let’s take advantage of the nice weather while we have it.
See you later.
Things Your Mother Never Told You About Motorcycle Insurance…
by Paul J. Hagen
I know insurance probably isn’t the most interesting topic in the world (especially compared to the riding and care of your motorcycle), but it is a necessity item by law. Maybe if you understood a little bit more about how motorcycle and auto insurance works, you could make more educated buying decisions and get more value for what you pay.
Motorcycle licensing in Minnesota does require that you provide at least the mandatory liability coverages according to state law. That means the minimum liability insurance limits of 30/60/10 for bodily injury and property damage coverages. Beyond those state requirements you have options for uninsured motorists and underinsured motorists coverages, medical payment, guest liability coverage and physical damage coverages for comprehensive and collision.
Some companies automatically provide year round coverages. Others simply provide you with the ability to pick a number of months of lay-up where there is no liability coverage, but comprehensive coverage remains (if requested) to protect the bike in storage.
An insurance policy has two distinct sections–the liability and the physical damage coverages sections.
Liability provides protection for you in occurrences for which you are or may be legally liable. This means you were the negligent party, and, to the extent of the policy limits, the company will pay those amounts on your behalf.
The liability section also includes optional guest passenger liability and uninsured/underinsured motorists. Guest passenger liability provides liability protection for you should your passenger become injured and sue you for your negligence as the driver and/or owner of the motorcycle. Uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage provides bodily injury limits to you, the owner/driver, in the case that the other party or parties to your loss do not have any insurance coverages or they have inadequate limits to satisfy your bodily injuries damages. This is the single most overlooked coverage that you can purchase to protect yourself as a motorcycle driver.
There is a catch here. Normally, you may only purchase limits that match or are less than your bodily injury limits. In other words, to get the kinds of limits that might make sense to protect yourself, you have to be open to purchasing higher initial bodily injury liability limits.
Physical damage coverages relate to damage or an occurrence to your vehicle that you purchase yourself on your policy to protect your motorcycle.
Comprehensive coverage is physical damage to your vehicle other than collision. This physical damage may be the result of fire, theft, vandalism, falling objects, flying missiles or a host of other perils.
Collision is an upset, overturn or collision of your motor vehicle with another object. Animal collision (i.e., a deer) is considered a comprehensive claim.
These policies do not cover losses due to wear and tear, mechanical or electrical breakdown or road hazards, unless they occur while someone steals the vehicle.
Let’s say you are 33 years old, married with a young child. You buy your dream bike, a 1992 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200. You borrow from your savings and take a small loan at your credit union. You call your auto or home insurance agent, and they give you a quote based on what you want–the cheapest insurance the law and the credit union require. Before you make this “easy” decision based purely on cost, think about it…
Whether it is auto or motorcycle insurance, the state minimum requirements of 30/60/10 probably won’t provide you with adequate liability protection. If the loss is your fault and exceeds the limits, your insurance carrier can take the option of simply paying its policy limits and walking away from defending you in court. Higher liability limits keep the insurance carrier in the fight, because they have to protect their financial position as well as yours.
Also, the minimum limit of $30,000 for bodily injury doesn’t go very far in paying for liability losses. Should the other party receive a higher judgment, they might be able to take your property and/or garnish future wages or income unless you are willing to file bankruptcy to protect yourself financially.
Consider liability limits of 50/100/25 or 100/300/50. At least get a quote for the difference in cost. Also, ask about the cost for uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage. It is not necessarily cheap, maybe $30.00 to $40.00 per year, but at the time of injury or legal entanglement with an opposing party that has no insurance or assets, you will be relieved to be able to go back to your own company and possibly receive those limits as compensation for your injuries.
There are various association discounts and club member discounts available from insurance companies to help reduce costs. Don’t buy the cheapest coverage. Get the least costly coverage you feel you need.
TIPS ON BUYING INSURANCE
- Check the rates before you buy a high performance bike, especially if you are under 25 and not married. The real rates, even for minimum coverage, will surprise you.
- If you have any non-factory items on the bike, there is probably no coverage for those items. Schedule them specifically as additional items, then there will be no argument or unhappiness at claim time.
- Consider and get a quote for higher limits as an option. It can’t hurt and might not cost that much.
- Consider adding uninsured and/or underinsured motorists coverage even if it adds $25.00 to $40.00 to your annual costs.
- Make sure you are getting the maximum discounts available for safety classes, marital status, multi-bike credit and lay-ups for non-usage in winter months.
- You’ll need physical damage coverage for the bike, and different companies are more or less competitive based on whether you need liability or full coverage. If you are not going to turn in a claim for less than $500.00, consider a higher deductible from the beginning.
- Most companies don’t surcharge premiums heavily for a minor ticket, but if you have a major ticket (DWI, leaving the scene of an accident, or another similar offense), call around to make sure you are getting the best price you can. However, please remember, over a period of time, you’ll save the more money and avoid headaches working with a single insurance agent for all your needs.
Paul Hagen has been an agent and an agency owner for many yeard. He is currently associated with the American/Thom Agency in Waconia.
By M.C. Vee
A transformation that could have global ramifications is occurring in the Black Hills, and I think you should be aware of it.
Sturgis is becoming…Winnebagoed!
It’s true! I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
The main drag was just too damn thick with bikes, so I tried to find a safe side street spot in which to park my ’94 Road King. I nearly ran out of gas trying. There were cars and campers all over the place. Finally, I dueled it out with some guy who could barely see past his windshield wipers and got a spot.
Mothers and fathers packed their families into RVs, conversion vans, trucks and cars and headed to Sturgis. They were not interested at all in the camaraderie or the riding experience; they just wanted to see 357,000 bikes and bikers. It was a freak show for them, a spectator sport.
How did this happen? Whom can we blame for this tragedy in the making?
Unfortunately, I must admit, that it was my fellow Harley riders.
Not all that long ago, Sturgis was a dangerous place to be during rally week. Hard-core riders would take over the town while residents would board up their homes and leave.
As motorcycling gained popularity in the U.S., the hard-core bikers had to distinguish themselves from the riders who were not as tough. Rather than align their loyalties with other hard-core riders who shared the same attitude, dedication to, and passion for the open road, but who rode different makes, Harleyists aligned with those who only rode Harleys.
So, what does that have to do with Sturgis?
What that means is people realized that their ticket to toughness was simply owning a Harley. They thought they were tougher than the guy who rode his foreign bike around the globe, even if they only used the thing twice a summer to go buy milk at the local store.
Soon, these milk-fetchers began putting on their dry-cleaned and pressed leathers and trailering their bikes to Sturgis (so as not to get wet or dirty). If their Harley broke down, they wouldn’t have to worry about getting home.
Since they have no concept of what cross country biking is all about, the milk-fetchers would return home and tell all their friends what a great costume party it was.
The next thing you know, I can’t find a parking spot.
If we stay on our present course, all you’ll need to become part of the Harley “scene” is a magazine cutout of a Harley in your wallet and a naked chick mural painted on the side of your camper. Sturgis will become a wanna-be rally. The serious enthusiasts, sick of it all, will move to a secluded location with controlled access–no trailers allowed! They will admit clean bikes only with proof by gas receipts that someone rode them there.
By then, the city of Sturgis’ economy will be dependent on the rally. It will fork over huge sums of money to the hard-core biker gangs to keep the “freaks” coming to town.
The event will be so big that television networks will vie for the broadcast rights. Naturally, corporations will want to get their grubby fingers into the pie. They’ll build a stadium with skyboxes! (They will eventually retrofit it with a retractable dome.)
Gangs will get multimillion dollar contracts, brand new bikes and clothing designed to look ratty and old. Promising young felons will score outrageous signing bonuses, even though they’ll be unproven at the professional level. All the toughest bikers will abandon gang loyalty and jump to new gangs for more money during free agency. Bikers’ agents will file for arbitration when they reach an impasse in contract negotiations.
Corporations will market clothing and merchandise to hook kids on Sturgis at an early age. They will advertise Sturgis toy knives and guns during breaks in Saturday morning Sturgis cartoons. Sunday morning will find teenagers glued to the tube watching their favorite “bikers” dueling it out in sold out arena gang wars.
Soon thereafter, the cops will arrest some nine-year-old for killing his best friend using some war technique he saw on TV. Bikers’ Union Local will testify at a U.S. Congressional Hearing that bikers are not role models; parents should raise their own kids; bikers are corporate pawns providing a service at Sturgis for a fee. America will scoff at their testimony.
The Christian Coalition will refuse to endorse the Warner Brothers version of “Sturgis: To Hell and Back” instead supporting Disney’s politically correct “Soo Hong Lee’s Week at the Rally.”
Greenpeace will fly airplane banners over the stadium to protest the displacement of the yellow-headed earthworm. The construction of an eight story parking ramp at Mount Rushmore’s Visitor Center for the Republican National Convention will ruin one of the worm’s six million breeding grounds.
The future will reveal politi-corporate motivation behind the 1996 desecration of the historical monument and grounds. We will discover that the construction of the cavernous monstrosity called the “Visitors’ Center” was a strategic move by Sturgis, Inc. corporate leaders to lay the foundation to win the convention bid. (Could this be the same motivation behind Little Morais, Minnesota’s new 59 story “North Shore Interpretive Center”? Only time will tell.)
Controversy will flare up in Sturgis during a nationally broadcast presidential debate, when one candidate will admit to having sat on a foreign bike once but never starting it up.
Sturgismania will sweep the globe putting all non H-D bike manufacturers out of business. Angry jobless workers will form a terrorist group and infiltrate our Sturgis National Holiday Week. The extensive loss of life will tarnish the images of the corporate sponsors, so they will pull out. The deaths of several visiting foreign dignitaries will enrage other countries and launch us into World War Three.
Let’s avoid this mess. Lose the attitude, and ride your damn bike to Sturgis.
Cool Pipes and Blind Lizards
by Lee Meyer
Without a doubt, the most popular modification done to a motorcycle is the installation of an aftermarket exhaust system. It comes in various forms: the famous four-into-one, the latest four-into-two-into-one, the slip-on replacement muffler, and the two-into-two for twins like the Ducati. What brand and type you choose depend on your reasons for wanting one in the first place. Performance, looks, sound, and weight saving are some of the reasons you may want to change your exhaust. There’s also the “cool factor.” You, J.Q. Customer, are going to have to decide what equipment fits your needs best. Because there are so many makes and models of bikes and pipes, I won’t be able to cover everything for everyone. I do hope to provide some useful info to help you make your choice.
If performance or maximum horsepower gain is your only objective, you have probably been looking at a top of the line, big-dollar pipe with an ultra-light carbon fiber canister. This system might be great if you are planning to race your machine on a track, but it is not very practical, and it’s hard on the wallet. Carbon fiber is not cost effective. Carbon fiber systems will make no more horsepower, but they will cost considerably more money. Your average weight savings with a carbon can is only a few pounds. Save a couple hundred bucks by doing a few sit-ups.
Conversely, cheap pipes often look cheap, and they are sometimes more restrictive and make less power than your stock set-up. Brands like Vance & Hines, Two Brothers, or Micron have a very nice fit and finish. The V&H SS2R is probably the quietest of the bunch–a nice bonus for your neighbors. Less noise means less power. Expect two to three fewer horsepower out of the SS2R compared to other top shelf systems.
It’s a good idea to start by checking out pipes on other bikes like yours. I thought I wanted a Muzzy for my ZX-11, until I saw someone else’s ZX-11 equipped with one. The lower left fairing was melting and bubbling right on the pipe. Instant turn-off. Go to a bike race at BIR or Road America. A dozen or so of the zillion bikes there will be the exact year, make and model as yours. Compare bikes and talk to the owners. Grill them with questions. Did they have to trim body work? Were the supplied brackets of use, or was major modification or complete refabrication necessary? How is the maintenance? Can they change the oil without removing the pipe or are the filters locked in cages of tube steel? How does it sound? Mellow? Throaty? Buzzy? When they hit the gas, do their fillings drop right out of their head from all the racket? Remember you have to ride it. Maybe you,re looking to get rid of that dental work.
Slip-ons can be an affordable alternative, and they are generally a breeze to install. Unbolt the stock mufflers, and bolt on the new. If you can change your own oil, you should be able to install these no sweat. You can achieve nice looks, good sound and noticeable performance gains at minimal cost. The big liter bike sport tourers really wake up nicely with these, because their factory mufflers are huge and whisper-quiet restrictive. And they don’t lose the low end grunt like they can with a full pipe. Another benefit is a jet kit is usually not mandatory. It may help, but you can probably do without it.
Aaaah, jet kits. Installation of a pipe will likely lean out carburetion. This can cause bogging, hesitations, flat spots, or a very hot engine if your machine is air cooled. You will have to recalibrate your carbs to keep your engine a happy camper. The brand of jet kit you choose makes no difference. You will get the same results, but these kits are designed for various climates and altitudes. You can install it according to the instruction sheets, and everything can work out well. Or you can still have a hesitation. Or maybe now you run rich. Installing these kits can be somewhat tricky. If you are going to attempt this yourself, be prepared to disassemble and reassemble your machine a few times before you get it right. Here’s one more thing about these kits. Each brand has several stages or levels of performance. DO NOT buy the higher level kits thinking bigger is better. These are designed for modified engines only! A header does not a modified engine make. Stick to the lower stage kits.
Okay, J.Q. Customer. You have picked out a pipe for your soon to be rockin’ sport bike, but completely disassembling your hot-rod doesn’t sound like your bag. If you are at all hesitant about doing this yourself, pass. Stress kills, and shop mechanics do not dig reassembling someone else’s abandoned project.
Let’s have a look at your bill: pipe, $450.00; jet kit, $100.00; you haven’t had a recent valve adjustment, and this is a must for this project to work, $150.00; installation and various parts not included, $300.00; one trip to the dyno for Ego Fuel and Bragging Ammo, $50.00; total, $1,050.00. Congratulations. You now have ten more horsepower. That’s one hundred dollars per one horsepower. Don’t get me wrong. Ten ponies is a very noticeable improvement, and your “cool factor” is waaay up. You can (usually) do older bikes, standards and cruisers for considerably less dough. Some sport bikes and V-Maxes may be more expensive. One thousand bucks is quite a wallet spanking, and your bike won’t be worth more than it is stock. If you may be selling your bike soon, this is not a swell idea, but this could be the bees’ knees for the long term owner.
Keep those old pipes. Someday you may wish to reverse this little decision, or you may want to sell your bike to someone who thinks your “cool factor” is silly. They may still buy, if you can pull out those mint, stock pipes.
On a personal note: one of my favorite bike rallies, The Blind Lizard MC Picnic on Nicollet Island, celebrated its 20th and final year on June 16, 1996. This was one of the largest and most anticipated rallies. Everything on two wheels showed up: BMWs, Ducatis, Nortons, Triumphs, Beezers, Whizzers, Laverdas, Urals, various Japanese sport bikes (including mine and a Gamma 500), Moto Guzzis, various custom bicycles and even Harley-Davidsons. There were more, but I am out of breath. Great food. Great people. Plenty of beer and rain. We’ll miss it. Farewell to the Lizard.
See you next month. The Doc.