Friday, September 12, 2008

Motorcycle Touring - Preparation

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Four-Tee-Five not your Average Motorcycle

The lanky vehicle isn't a run-of-the-mill motorcycle: Five seats and bars atop a quartet of vintage 1950s Harley-Davidson 45-cubic-inch motorcycle engines.

But for one Shawano County business owner, the unique motorcycle is not only a product of a desire to take on challenging projects, but it's also a tribute to the 105-year history of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles.
"I didn't even know I was going to build this four-engine motorcycle," said Stephen "Doc" Hopkins, owner of Doc's Harley-Davidson, near Bonduel. "I knew I wanted to build something out of old flathead motors — something told me to do that. Then one night it struck me to put four of them in a row."
He considered putting eight people on the motorcycle, but decided that would make the bike cumbersome.
"I started with a pile of iron … and just started cutting and bending, welding and making the frame," Hopkins said earlier this week, standing in the dealership's shop with the motorcycle in front of him. "I had a pile of old motors I'd bought at a swap meet in … Pennsylvania, and I started tearing those apart and rebuilding them."
The motorcycle was built in about 17 days. Hopkins said he wanted to get it done in time for the 105th anniversary parade in Milwaukee.
"I gave Willie G. Davidson, the grandson of the original Davidsons, not really a promise, but my best shot that I was going to get this thing ready for his parade," he said. "I did it, and that's what drove me to do a lot of it."
The motorcycle is heading for Milwaukee today and will be part of the anniversary parade. Hopkins said the bike will be displayed at the dealership afterward.
Plans for the Four-Tee-Five, as the motorcycle is named, were sketched out on a pair of white pieces of paper with pen. Hopkins opens the folded pages showing a design that looks like the finished product.
Written on one of the plans are the words: "Yes … We can do it!"
Hopkins said that phrase was written before building got under way.
"I just enjoy building things, and people like to stop in here to see what's next," the Algoma native said. "I like the challenge. I didn't do this to become famous or anything, I just did it because I enjoy the challenge."
Hopkins added a reserve fuel tank, a small Hamm's tapper keg, to augment the three gallons of fuel stored in the frame.
Harley-Davidson is putting on a four-day 105th anniversary celebration this weekend, and expects more than 100,000 people to show up and rumble the city where the storied company is based.
The celebration, which starts today, coincides with the 25th anniversary of the Harley Owners Group, or HOG. Last year, it surpassed the 1 million-member mark and has 1,400 chapters in 135 countries.
"Just riding on two wheels is really not the point; it's really more about an emotional experience, and an experience of self-definition as well," said Mark-Hans Richer, the company's chief marketing officer.
"Harley has been around for 105 years, and we have a unique credibility and authenticity that none of our competitors can match even though they desperately try to copy us."
Hopkins, who has also raced top-fuel Harleys, has been a dealer for almost three decades.
He's seen the ups and downs of Harley — including a time in the mid-1980s when he said the company was within 20 minutes of going into receivership — and has seen his own business continue to flourish over the decades, to the point where it does $7 million to $8 million a year in sales.
Hopkins, who bought his dealership for $30,000, attributes much of the business growth to an old-school approach to customer service.
"I don't care if you're a doctor, lawyer or some Joe working in a factory; it doesn't matter who you are or what you do we treat you all the same," said Hopkins, who pointed out he is more concerned about keeping customers happy and employees working than growing the bottom line. "We bend over backward to help each person as much as we possibly can."
Aside from motorcycles sales and service and a riding school, the dealership on Wisconsin 29 also houses a classic car and motorcycle museum, a zoo, Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast and pirate ship — which Hopkins also built.
"We have to give people a reason to come to farm country," he said with a laugh. "It's a draw. It's a destination. … We want to keep this place interesting for people to come see."
Harley says it has organized 105 starting points around the nation, which feed into 25 major routes bound for Milwaukee. Thousands were expected to arrive Wednesday, a day before the celebration starts.
"Now that's a ride home," said Bill Davidson, director of motorcycle product development, on a video posted on the company's Web site.

via greenbaypressgazette — The Associated Press also contributed to this story.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Checking out a Secondhand Bike

Over the years I have read a number of articles relating to the purchase of a Second Hand Motorcycle.
While most have basic common sense approach, I am often left wondering whether the author actually rides a motorcycle.
I found this article more by accident than looking for information on buying a secondhand bike. There are references made to things that are specific to New Zealand but I know you will be able to cross reference, to what is applicable, to where you live.

Whether you're after a grunty bike or a nippy scooter, buying a second hand motorbike involves the same risks as buying a used car. Here are some words of wisdom for those buying a used motorcycle:

1. Buy an original
Do your research before going to look at a potential bike: find out what to look for in an original of the make and model you want. Buying an original is much more worthwhile than getting a custom motorbike if you are considering reselling in future.

2. Get a good fit
Check that the bike is suited to your height. You should be able to reach the ground easily, get the motorbike easily on and off its stands, and adjust the controls and levers.

3. Check registration and WOF
Ensure the motorbike has current registration and Warrant of Fitness (WOF). When buying used New Zealand motorbikes you should also check when registration is next due; take this into account when negotiating a price. A current WOF should signal that the motorcycle is roadworthy, but it also pays to check tyres (should be undamaged with legal tread depth), indicators, brake lights and headlights. Registration and WOF stickers should be visible.

4. Find out the bike's maintenance history
Ask what work has been done on the motorcycle and check for aftermarket parts and telltale signs of corrosion or rust. The bike's owner may have a recorded history; this is ideal and will allow you to see at a glance any alterations, repairs or potential problem areas. Do your research, so that you know what a new bike of your chosen make and model looks like and can compare this with the second hand bike.

5. Check how the motorbike runs
The area beside the engine should be cold; if it's been pre-warmed, this could be a warning sign. Ask the owner to start the bike – it should run smoothly as it warms up (although a small amount of smoke is acceptable when the bike is first started). Check for a quick response to the throttle by gently revving the engine – it should return immediately to a normal idle speed of between 1,000 and 1,200 rpm. You should check: tyres, chain and sprockets, steering, brake pads, lights, muffler and suspension.

6. Ride before you buy
If possible, take the bike for a spin round the block. You might want to take someone with you who can stay behind, or alternatively, give the bike's owner your driver's licence. Needless to say, you should ride with great care. Take this opportunity to check that the bike manoeuvres well, brakes without jerking, accelerates smoothly, has easy gearshift and a functioning speedometer.

7. Negotiate a fair price
Do your homework and find out what you can expect to pay for a used bike of your chosen make and model. If the seller's asking price seems high, don't be afraid to bargain.

Once you've settled on a quality used motorbike and negotiated a fair price, it's time to ensure you have a current New Zealand motorcycle licence. Land Transport NZ's site is a handy reference, letting you know the what's and wherefore's of learner, restricted and full motorcycle licences in New Zealand. Once you're legally allowed on the road, enjoy a cruise into the sunset on your (near) new wheels.

Article Source

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Choosing the Right Jacket

The choices of motorcycle jackets available today are varied and plentiful. Styles are as unique as their designers, and modern synthetic materials give the biker an added option over the standard leather jacket, a tried and true material for protection against the elements and the road

When making a decision on the purchase of a new motorcycle jacket, there are basically three areas of consideration that come into play, with various degrees of magnitude:

  • the style of jacket preferred by the individual consumer
  • the comfort and durability of the style and material used
  • protection against the elements of wind, water, and temperature, as well as against the road

By today's standards, most of the major motorcycle apparel manufacturers have come to agree on a common set of characteristics that tend to the specific needs of bikers as learned over the years. Many of these needs vary with personal taste, and will vary with the type of riding being done, and the individual priorities of the discerning consumer.

To begin with, lets discuss the different styles of motorcycle jackets that have made the biker culture into a sub category of the fashion industry.

For Motorcycle Jackets, Style Counts

While it may seem frivolous compared to the dire consequences of safety and protection, motorcycle fashion has evolved into distinct styles that offer the consumer choices based on just what kind of riding is being done, how often, and in what kind of weather.

As is its nature, the fashion industry has come up with just the right piece of clothing, tailored to fit your kind of riding, and making sure you are looking good doing it! Lets look at some of the general styles available.

The Traditional Classic Motorcycle Jacket

The traditional motorcycle jacket first came on the scene in 1928 in the form of the double sided Perfecto, manufactured by Schott NYC. Through the years the Perfecto style has been improved upon in many ways, but the basic traditional style remains a constant.

The traditional motorcycle jacket has enjoyed wild bouts of popularity in the fashion world. In 1958 Marlon Brando debuted the style in the film The Wild Ones, and subsequent appearances in films by James Dean and others have brought the jacket in and out of style throughout its history. Perhaps because of the kind of films it was portrayed in, the traditional motorcycle jacket has taken on a somewhat bad boy image, a rebel type personality, or even a criminal element, consequently gaining or loosing cool points, depending on your side of the fence.

While fads and fashion trends go in and out of style, for the biker community, the classic motorcycle jackets popularity is based not on its cool good looks, but on its practicality

Traditional style motorcycle jackets have become classic mainly because the material they are made of, leather, is and remains one of the best form of protection from the elements. More importantly, it provides a second layer of skin between the biker and the rough surface of an asphalt road, reducing the likelihood of painful skin grafts in the event of an unfortunate skid across the road.

Of course, leather jackets can be made into many different styles, but what makes the classic motorcycle jacket unique for bikers is that it tends to the bikers needs. Plenty of storage is provided for with cargo pockets, inside pockets, and the generous use of zippers and snaps in the form of pockets, air vents, sleeve cuffs, and snap downs.

The modern motorcycle jacket is designed with an eye on the various positions a biker might find himself in. Slightly longer arm length provides for a more comfortable ride when leaning forward, and the backs of the jackets provide for some extra length so they dont ride up in the same position.

The option of side laces makes for a snugger, warmer fit in the cold months, and the better traditional motorcycle jackets will have an insulated zip out lining, making it a jacket for all seasons.

One particular aspect of most traditional motorcycle jackets that pretty much defines the look, is the inclusion of a belt. Classic motorcycle jackets that include a belt opt for a half belt more often than not, with a large buckle in the front. Full removable belts complete with belt loops are available on some jackets. Practically speaking, a belt is good for tightening up the jacket, and to keep it from flapping around at high speeds.

Throughout the years, the traditional style motorcycle jacket has catered best to the needs of the biking community by providing a tough and durable jacket that conforms to the unique positions only a biker would find themselves in. With the use of heavy duty hardware, this classic style provides for plenty of places to put things (to counter the lack of such on the motorcycle itself), and includes multiple options for your comfort and protection year round.

Michael Talbert is the creator, owner, and operator of Biker Leather Ltd., an online retailer of fine leather and textile motorcycle jackets, chaps, leather vests and biker accessories. visit the website at

Monday, August 4, 2008

If there isn't enough reasons already to prevent me from riding, the weather this week added
to my displeasure. I have been chaffing at the bit to get out on a bike and get some fresh into me.
Sitting at my desk looking at the work I should be doing, holding a cup of coffee, thinking about
anything but work. Half heartedly I opened a browser and started checking out some of my bookmarked sites.
Not long having bought a new Cortech Denim jacket and a pair of Joe Rocket gloves, my enthusiasim for looking for something new for my riding wardrobe or bling for my bike was a bit low. If you have got the time check out Revzilla they have got some great closeout specials.

Amazing what you find when you idolly surf around checking shit out. is a site for those interested in bikes (bicycles). I think it is anyway, could be about teenage sex!

The 14th XAir Games have been on all weekend. The fact that I now these are on and have been watching them is a testament to my boredom and imprisonment inside.
The talent of the entrants at these games is pushing the goal posts further apart every year.

I dont know alot about skateboarding but on the Big Air ramp these guys are jumping 70 feet and gettingto heights of 22 feet while doing various backflips, 360s etc. Check it out on ESPN/EXPN and I am sure there will video footage on You Tube.
Looking forward to seeing Travis Pastrana in the rally car. Considering he is normally in the Freestyle MX events it should be quite entertaining.
Jeremy Lusk took out the Freestyle MX this year.

With all this watching others doing what they like to do has not really improved my mood to much. At least the rain has stopped and I have got my fingers crossed that the coming weekend will be great for doing what I like - riding. (might even pull the moutain bike out)

See Ya

Sunday, July 27, 2008

........Removing my goggles to prevent fogging and my helmet so I can blow on my fingers to help warm them up. (Motorcross gloves aren't exactly thermally insulated) Mike had set a good ride pace to this point so the rest of me was hot and it didn't take long to get the circulation back.
Other riders where blasting past, oblivious to the cold I thought. Putting my gear back on I head up the track to find 4 others including my riding buddy stopped about 500 meters from where I was. Good to know I'm not the only wimp feeling the cold!

The rest of the loop went a lot better aside from the occasional fogging of the goggles. Getting back to the pits, rain still coming down, people and riders going all directions. If you weren't riding you are taking cover, and the coffee tent with its patio heater was the ideal place to thaw out.

After hot coffee and food we hit the biggest loop -55k of forest and fire breaks.
It took us 2 hours of battling uphills with ruts the gave bike and body a hammering. Steep slippery downhills, rain ruts, mudpits, tight switchback forest trails and fast open stretches. (and we do this for fun??)
Riding back into the pits, a little sore and tired (read - knackered), late in the avo, muddy and wet but with a smile on my face.
The key to enjoying riding, no matter what the elements throw at you, is good riding gear.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Monday mornings could start at nine and I would still be late.
But on Sunday at 6am I'm up and running around like a kid on Christmas day. Its because monday is just another day in the trenchs, while sunday is play day and we aint going to waste a goddam minute of it.
While making coffee the gear check list is going over in my head........helmet, googles, jersey, jacket (its cold and raining going to need it), dont forget my boots there over by the bike workbench. Saying to myself "I know the bike is fine" having already checked it over and done all my pre ride checks. Still I always feel like I forgot to do something.

Driving down the road and my mind is buzzing with ride anticipation. (or to much coffee) Just a couple of stops on the way. First pick up my long time riding buddy Mike and all his gear. Hes a great mate but couldnt organise a party in a pub. After double checking we have everything he needs, we head to gas station for fuel, for us and the bikes.
A little more than an hour later sees us unloading the bikes and gearing up - dddaam its cold!
After sign in, heading to the trails is easy, they are named and well marked.
It may be cold but I am pumped, there is bikes and people everywhere. Trail riding has become a great family outing.
Mike and I choose a 40km loop to warm up on. The terrain is mostly pumice based, plenty of traction, no matter the conditions. But the first ten minutes of riding like a nana, cause my fingers wont work properly, sees me stopping to get some circulation back.