by Thomas Day
Dead Shoe Tree Lying in the Middle of the Road
The world famous Nevada “shoe tree” was chopped down by vandals. 125 miles east of Reno on US Highway 50, this motorcyclists’ landmark was a place where adventurers on one of America’s loneliest roads could hang their worn out shoes and mark their existence. The AP reported that the Middlegate, Nevada shoe tree was cut down on New Year’s eve. Local residents held a memorial for the tree on February 13th.
One of our favorite farkel dealers, CycleGadgets, went belly up in mid-January. Caught between “declining sales and increasing costs,” the company was overloaded by debt from its new Eureka Springs, Arkansas facility and a stinking economy and declared bankruptcy. They managed to either ship or cancel all of their customer orders before closing the doors.
Own A Test Track
Honda America is selling the Cantil California Proving Center. For a few million you get 7.5 miles of oval track, a 4.5 mile winding road, and unpaved road courses. Seven miles north off California City, the 4,255 acre test track has engineering offices and workshops, a fuel station, a security office, gated access, and a 1.5 mile driveway.
California Outlaws Motorcycle Theft Tools
California Assembly Bill 1848 makes possession of homemade motorcycle “pigtails” (a secondary ignition system used to steal motorcycles) a misdemeanor with a six months jail term and $1,000 fine. In San Diego more than 1,100 motorcycles were stolen in 2009 and in the first ten months of 2010 the whole state saw more than 5,000 motorcycles and $45 million in insurance claims. These devices allow thieves to steal a modern motorcycle in less than 20 seconds.
Arnie Is the AMA’s MOTY
The AMA Motorcyclist of the Year is awarded for the person who, for good or bad, has the “most profound impact on the world of motorcycling.” For signing the California Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act, SB 435, the AMA has designated California’s past governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, to be the 2010 MOTY. Thanks to this bill, California is mandating OEM fuel and exhaust systems on all 2013-and-newer motorcycles. The AMA has been hyping the Society of Automotive Engineers J-2825 standard “as a fair, practical and economical enforcement tool”, but that organization had minimal credibility during the arguments for and against the bill in Sacramento. [I have to suspect that this group’s irrational insistence on A-weighting for sound pressure levels inappropriate for that standard had something to do with their credibility gap?]
An engineering student from Bournemouth University (UK) designed a motorcycle helmet that easily disassembles for emergency removal. See details here.
Hero Nixes Honda, Invades Europe, with Electric and Diesel Power
Hero of India recently broke up with Honda and has spun off a division called Hero Electric. Hero Electric builds electric mopeds and scooters for the Indian market, but is making plans to get into the European market this season. There were 85,000 electric two-wheelers sold in India last year and the European market is ideal for the limited range, low energy cost vehicles. Hero is also licensed to sell Honda technology until 2014 and the company is exploring Honda’s diesel technology and hopes to be selling home-grown diesel products with larger-than-400cc motors by 2012.
Electric Glide in Blue
Police departments in Scotts Valley, California and Las Vegas are experimenting with electric motorcycles. Scotts Valley is testing one Zero DS while the Vegas department has put seven Vectrix Electronics bikes on patrol duty on the strip.
Guess What It Is?
One of the weirder looking two-wheeled vehicles you’ll ever see is displayed at the Agility Saietta website. Apparently, it’s British. It appears to be an electric “urban sport bike.” Sorry, I don’t know what that means.
SWIGZ Electric Superbike Makes History
Chip Yates and the SWIGZ Racing team pulled off two podium finishes on their electric superbike’s racing debut at the Auto Club Speedway in California. Racing against some of California’s top riders, the SWIGZ team scored a pair of 2nd place podium finishes in the WERA Heavyweight Twins Superstock and posted the fastest lap of the race at a 1:39.792.
Yates said, “We have to thank WERA Motorcycle Roadracing and Evelyne Clarke for their graciousness and vision in welcoming our electric superbike to their nationwide gasoline race series. Out of courtesy to the regular WERA racers, we forfeited the championship points we accumulated today so as not to interfere with the gasoline bike season results and a lot of those racers visited our pits to voice their support of our program”.
The Mission R
Mission Motors introduced the Mission R race bike for the 2011 season. This high-performance electric superbike features the MissionEVT powertrain which delivers 141hp and 14.4 kWh of storage sub-600cc racing package. From the Öhlins, Brembo and Marchesini hardware to the fully configurable MissionEVT 100kW controller with customizable regenerative braking and throttle maps, this bike is intended to be zero emissions race-ready. If you have to ask about the price, you can’t afford it.
Urban Myth-Buster Vespa
A 2002 Vespa ET4 150 scooter has dispelled the myth of the all-seeing, aggressive NYC metermaid and the city’s famous vandals. The unlicensed, well-used (4,345 miles) scooter sat on the east side of the block between East 56th and 57th Streets for more than a year without being molested, ticketed, or towed. It wasn’t even locked, which allowed residents to occasionally use it to save parking spaces. Even the city’s snow plows managed to miss it. After becoming famous in a NY Times article, the vehicle was towed and claimed by its owners; a couple who used the scooter during the summer then removed the plate to avoid parking tickets.
One of Scientology’s ex-poster boys, Paul Haggis, has gone off the reservation in February’s New Yorker Magazine, after the church/cult ticked him off with their position on California Proposition 8. Once he started talking, Haggis spilled more beans than Wikileaks could ever hope to find on L. Ron Hubbard’s odd science fiction institution.
From our perspective, the most entertaining story in the New Yorker article was about a guy named John Brousseau who used to be a high-end Scientology facility “maintenance” guy who was roped into doing some fancy motorcycle finish work for Tom Cruise and David Miscavige, Scientology’s “chairman of the board of the Religious Technology Center” and official fearless leader. “Brousseau recalls, “Cruise asked me, ‘God, could you paint my bike like that?’ I looked at Miscavige, and Miscavige agreed’”. Cruise brought in two motorcycles to be painted, a Triumph and a Honda Rune; the Honda had been given to him by Spielberg after the filming of War of the Worlds. “The Honda already had a custom paint job by the set designer,’’ Brousseau recalls. Each motorcycle had to be taken apart completely, and all the parts nickel-plated, before it was painted.” Broujsseau was not paid for any of the work he did for the cult. Cruise’s spokesperson claims Brouisseau was just “an adviser” to the contractors who did the work. The FBI is investigating labor violations within the organization.
The whole article is pretty damn funny. Personally, I wonder if any of these suckers have ever watched South Park?
Dirt Bike for the Ruling Class
If you have $16,590 for a 695cc high-maintenance supermoto, TerraMostro has the bike for you (www.terramostro.com). Start with a mild mannered 620 Duc Monstro, add $8,500, and you’ll have a light weight, dual purpose motorcycle that only the richest dirt bikers could afford. Feel even richer? For more bucks TerraMostro will build you a 750 version.
Kawasaki 2011 ZX-10R Technical Hold & Buyback
In early December, the motorcycle press was given a “sneak peak” at the new ZX-10R superbike. In late December, Kawasaki put a “technical hold” on the 2011 Ninja ZX-10R due to an “intake valve seating” problem. Dealers returned unsold units to Kawasaki’s warehouses and owners of sold units were asked to return their motorcycles to their dealer for a full refund. Supposedly, Kawasaki is replacing the camshaft, valve springs, and spring retainers and putting the bikes back on showroom floors.
NHTSA Motorcycle Recalls
Suzuki Accessory Saddlebags: Made for the 2004-2009 DL650/A and DL1000, 2007-2009 GSF1250S/SA, the saddlebags (hard cases) were not equipped with side reflectors. The saddlebags cover the original equipment reflectors. At no charge to owners, Suzuki dealers will install a reflector kit on the saddlebags.
Harley-Davidson 2011 Softail made 6/7/10 to 10/8/10: Water intrusion into the body control module causes engine stall.
Harley-Davidson 2011 Softail: Accessory security system kit P/N 69993-11 allows water intrusion into the control module resulting in engine stall.
Ducati 2003-2004 2006 MTS 1000, 2005 Multistrada 1000 S, 2006 MTS 620, 2007-2008 MTS 1100, 2009 MTS1100: Fuel tank pump flange seal leaks fuel causing a fire.
Ducati 2010 MTS 1200S: Faulty programming of the ECU causes engine stall when downshifting or coasting.
Aprilia 2010 RSV4 & RSV4-R made 07/2 to 10/30/09: Faulty engine connecting rods cause unexpected engine failure and possible loss of control.
Triumph 2010 Sprint ST, GT: Oil dipstick gives improper readings of the oil level resulting in sudden engine failure and loss of vehicle control.