Monday, April 27, 2015

2015 AMCA Meet, Oley, PA

This past Saturday I rode up to the Antique Motorcycle Club of America's annual meet in Oley, Pennsylvania.  Two days later, my legs are still sore from repeated crouching down to shoot photos of so much great vintage iron; everything from Concours-quality restorations to bikes that looked as if they were just unearthed from the back of a barn that morning.  More than you may think were ridden to the meet, too.  Below is a mere sampling; click here to see many more from 2015, and click here to see motorcycles from 2013's meet.

Don't see this brand every day.

Liter bikes aren't new; this model was Lawrence of Arabia's favorite ride.

Beverly Hillbillies meets The Munsters?

This had a number plate autographed by Jack Penton, too.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

MotoStays: an Airbnb for motorcyclists?

MotoStays, the web site that connects motorcyclists with free home stays in other motorcyclists’ homes, announces free memberships for another twenty-five days, until May 15, 2015. “We’ve been offering the MotoStays membership for free for the past year and the site has expanded to include twenty-six countries,” said Tad Haas, co-founder of MotoStays.

MotoStays is a growing motorcycle community that promotes and provides access to home-sharing opportunities throughout the world. The MotoStays network provides a convenient alternative to camping and hotels by connecting motorcyclists with local hosts along their route. MotoStays also features motorcycle-friendly businesses that offer accommodations for members at reasonable rates.

Launched in June of 2014, is the motorcyclist’s equivalent to Airbnb; the difference being the overnight stays are free. Motorcyclists create a membership account and profile listing then look for places to stay. Using the member location, photos, amenities and accommodation details to see which hosts best match their needs, members then contact potential hosts to work out the details.

“There are lots of people doing this, and have been doing it for years; it just hasn’t happened in an organized way until now,” said Gaila Gutierrez, MotoStays co-founder. “What we’ve done is create a community that is based on reciprocal hospitality and consolidated it in a way that people can actually plan around. It eliminates the randomness and connects people who share the passion of motorcycling in a unique and interesting way.”

Haas and Gutierrez quit their jobs, rented their house and took off on their motorcycles for fourteen months in 2012-2013. Traveling over 40,000 miles through ten different countries, the trip opened their minds to a new way of thinking. Upon their return home they decided to build a community where other motorcyclists could take advantage of the experiences that result when you share space and a connection with other people and founded MotoStays.

MotoStays will be offering free one-year memberships through May 15, 2015. More information can be found on

If anyone uses this service, please drop me a line or a comment to let me know of your experience.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Finally, a real ride this winter.

Made a wrong turn on the way to work yesterday.  Funny how that happened on a relatively warm (~40F) sunny day.  Spent the day wandering around Maryland's eastern shore.  I chose that area of Maryland over my usual Pennsylvania haunts because the eastern shore roads get plenty of sunlight, so ice wouldn't be a problem, and they're very lightly traveled, so trucks wouldn't be a problem (this was a workday for everyone else, after all). Also weighing against PA is experience, which tells me that its back roads would be full of new potholes/broken pavement, salt/dirt/mud and lingering ice in the shady areas. It wasn't a huge ride, 205 miles, but it was sorely needed.  Since 2015 rang in, my riding had consisted of a small handful of commutes, and a few rides of barely 100 miles each.   I'm hoping the constant freeze/thaw/freeze cycle we've been in this winter is finally done, but March is a rather fickle month for the motorcyclist.

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Thursday, March 05, 2015

It's snow-go for riding this winter.

I don't recall a winter when I've ridden fewer miles.  I doubt I've done 500 miles since Xmas. Today's pic is typical of what we've faced the last couple of months.  So sick of snow, ice and salt!  I'll be shoveling as Daytona Bike Week begins tomorrow...

If my bike were an animal, it'd be a Sad Panda.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Book Review: Tracks, Racing the Sun

The icy/salty/snowy roads that have pervaded my neck of the woods during the last month or so has provided (forced) some down time, so I've been trying to catch up on some reading. Even though I almost never post non-motorcycle content, Sandro Martini's Tracks: Racing the Sun is a worthy exception. A product of ten (!) years' research by the author, this is a highly detailed piece of historical fiction set in the early days of auto racing in Europe. A great read for anyone who enjoys motorsports, politics, WWII-era history, or simply an engrossing story mixing bravery, recklessness, nationalism and larger-than-life characters.  You may even be inspired, as I was, to learn more about the real-life drivers who inspired this novel (some of whom began their careers as motorcycle racers -- ah, there's the connection.) Highly recommended! For more reviews, follow the links at the bottom of this post.

Tracks: Racing The Sun
Sandro Martini,  2014
335 ppg.
Aurora Metro Books
ISBN 978-906582-43-2

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Fed funding for motorcycle-only checkpoints to end?

U.S. Senators Shaheen (D-N.H.), Johnson (R-Wis.), Ayotte (R-N.H.), Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Collins (R-Maine) have introduced S.B. 127, the Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act, which would prohibit federal funding for motorcycle-only checkpoints, limiting the implementation of these discriminatory checkpoints nationwide.  

During the past few years, federal, state and local governments spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars on motorcycle-only checkpoints, funds that could have been better spent on programs to prevent distracted driving, increase rider education programs or improve motorist awareness. I've never been pulled into one of these checkpoints, but I have friends who have, particularly in New York State on the major arteries leading to the annual Americade Rally in Lake George.  While I have no sympathy for those riding unregistered or uninsured bikes, or with unlawfully loud pipes, motorcycle-only checkpoints is in my view an unlawfully discriminatory practice. If a governmental entity feels the need to check motor vehicles for certain compliance, then pull all non-commercial (commercial is subject to different rules) vehicular traffic into a given checkpoint, not just motorcycles.

What sayeth thou?


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Throw-Back Thursday: Trail Riding Gear

Off-road gear has come a ways since the day this post-ride pic of my brother and father was taken in our backyard; probably about 1974.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

New ADV Online Magazine

Stumbled across Road+Trail, a brand new adventure touring publication, while perusing today. Give it a look; great ride reports!

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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Are You A Motorcyclist?

No matter how trained, skilled, safe, psychologically sound or ATGATT'd we believe ourselves to be, motorcycles are fundamentally rolling bombs.  Humomgously-entertaining rolling bombs.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Ride to Vote, Vote to Ride!

Remember to vote today!  It's not only your duty as an American citizen, it's a chance to have a voice in issues that may affect your rights as a motorcyclist...ethanol and health care insurance exemptions for example.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Motorcycle lane-splitting study

Photo: Randall Benton/Sacramento Bee

A recent California study has arrived at the rather obvious conclusion that lane-splitting on a motorcycle becomes increasingly riskier as the speed differential increases. Last year, the California Highway Patrol published guidelines suggesting riders should not travel more than 10 mph faster than surrounding traffic, and should not lane-split at all if other vehicles are traveling faster than 30 mph. That isn't law, but seems like a common-sense suggestion. As you may know, though it's common in civilized places like Europe, California is the only US state in which lane-splitting is expressly permitted. Many states, such as mine, do not expressly prohibit lane-splitting, but it's an uncommon practice and a lane-splitting rider is subject to LEO interpretation of whether the maneuver constitutes a violation of "catch-all" traffic laws such as careless or reckless driving. In my neck of the woods, a lane-splitter may also expect to get clothes-lined, cut-off, or have a driver's door opened by a disgruntled/jealous motorist. Frankly, it won't be worth the risk around here until driver attitudes change. I've only done it a handful of times, and then only while traffic is stopped, in order to get around extremely slow-moving vehicles such as farm equipment, street sweepers, etc. What are your thoughts and/or lane-splitting experience?

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Vintage Trials this weekend!

This Sunday, vintage trials returns to the duPont family's Granogue estate outside of Wilmington, Delaware.  This year, there is a viewing route available to spectators riding dual-sport or ADV bikes. Having been years since I've attended an observed trials event, I may have to shlep up there and have a look.

(Click to enlarge)

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rumor Central: Yamaha FJ-09

Related to the below post, Yamaha didn't debut the much-rumored FZ-09 based FJ-09 at InterMot, but the name has been trademarked in the US, and the below image was "leaked" on the internet (it may have been purposefully leaked.)  The old Yamaha FJ series was among the first of what came to be known as sport-touring models, so it's nice to see the name reborn.  Judging merely from images and anticipated specs, the FJ would be in keeping with the new trend of ADV-styled street-only bikes that are in reality the new "standards" or sport-tourers: upright ergos, stonkin' motors, near sportbike-like chassis and brakes, 17" wheels, and luggage capability.   I'm very interested in this one, assuming Yamaha fixes the fueling glitches plaguing the FZ-09 and keeps the pricing reasonable as it has on the FZ-07 and -09. It's sure to be less expensive than the Honda CrossRunner given Honda's pricing strategy over the last few years.  Some color would be nice, too, but wouldn't be a deal-breaker.  Yamaha seems stuck on graphite/grey a lot lately.  How 'bout a retro Yamaha Racing white with red laser stripe scheme?

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Monday, October 20, 2014

2015 Motorcycle Shopping List

Wow; a bunch of awesome ideas for 2015 model-year motorcycles were debuted at Intermot 2014 in Cologne a couple of weeks ago. Below are the ones that are one, likely to make to US dealers, and two, are particularly interesting as possible replacements for my current bike.

Honda Crossrunner, a VFR 800 based strictly-street "ADV" bike.

Suzuki V-strom 650 XT, a somewhat more dirt-capable Wee; still a street bike really.

Revamped Kawasaki Versys 650, now with tidy luggage option

BMW R1200R replacement. Hope it has windscreen & luggage options.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Snell M2015 Standards

Snell has released a new standard for motorcycle helmet certification.  Snell M2015 replaces its M2010 standard.  Manufacturers can now apply to Snell for M2015 certification.  If you're considering replacing a M2010 helmet, you may want to hold-off (if possible; don't wait if you're helmet is in dire need of replacement) for a while to see if/when your favorite model is awarded certification under the new standard.  The helmet experts at have a detailed write-up on the Snell M2015 standard you should read.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Throw-Back Thursday: My First Motorcycle

Santa somehow managed to get  a brand spankin' new Yamaha TY80 down the chimney on Christmas Eve, 1974.  The TY80 was essentially a shrunk-down version of the TY250 and so was a competition-ready trials bike: very low gearing (with neutral at bottom), super-slim, high ground clearance, super-light weight, soft and springy suspension, and massive steering lock.  The engine was capable of chugging along in first with no throttle without stalling, and could loft the front wheel at will over obstacles. It came with plastic fenders, which were just starting to show up on pure dirt bikes, but the fuel tank was still steel.  Though most kids my age (13) were zipping around on 70-80cc MXers or "enduro" bikes, a trials bike offered a great platform to learn some of the finer points of motorcycle control that I still use today, such as traction and momentum preservation, body positioning and "English," and smoothness.  I also cut my mechanical chops (such as they are) on the little two-smoker, though it was so tough and reliable I don't remember having to do much other than normal maintenance.  I did learn how to unclog a carb jet while out in the woods, but that wasn't so rare 40 years ago.  This scan of a textured print (remember those?), likely shot with my trusty Kodak 110 Instamatic, hides a lot of detail, but I see some patchy ice in the foreground -- yup, even back then I didn't have the good sense to quit riding when it got real cold. #TBT

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Thursday, October 02, 2014

Adventure Motorcycle Calendar 2015

The annual Adventure Motorcycle Calendar is back for 2015.  I love these calendars; I'm staring at the 2014 edition as I type this, and the 2015 version will be proudly displayed immediately upon completion of Earth's current orbit. Published by Octane Press, this year's edition features images by professional photographers from around the world, including the stunning photography of Gregor Halenda, a commercial photographer and adventure motorcyclist. His work takes you to some of the most interesting portions of the United States including; Copper Center, Alaska; Moab, Utah; and Rollins Pass, Colorado. 

The calendar also features shots from other photographers that explore the wilds of Russia winding through Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, as well as the Himalayas, remote corners of Alaska, and the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia. 

The world is your oyster when you own a motorcycle, and the Adventure Motorcycle Calendar 2015 celebrates the fabulous places and fascinating people who adventure out to see the world on two wheels. The calendar is available for purchase at and wherever books are sold.
Adventure Motorcycle Calendar 2015
Editor: Lee Klancher
ISBN: 978-1-937747-38-1
Publication date: August 1, 2014
17" x 11.5" 
24 pages
24 images

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Quick Post, Just Bee-cause

Lookie what I found today when I went to clean my helmet.  I guess it's not so incredible that a bee would get scooped up into one of the air intakes (not that it has ever happened to me) but what is incredible is that the darn thing is still alive, about 22 hours after I rode home from work yesterday. I'm glad it didn't end up inside, crawling around my neck and ear, like the spider I had to stop and remove weekend before last.  Have you hosted any unwelcome visitors in your helmet?

Related Post: What's That in my Tailpipe?

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Philly & Balto Ride for Kids raises $149K

RFK 2014 Stationery wide
Star Althea and her mom are ready to ride.
Philadelphia Star Althea and her mom are ready to ride.

Ride for Kids motorcyclists in Maryland and Pennsylvania raised more than $149,000 for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation on Sept. 14.
More than 300 riders attended the events in Ellicott City, Md., and Phoenixville, Pa., to honor our Stars, local children with brain tumors: Althea, Elizabeth, Emily, Gabriel, John, Maggie, Nick, Olivia, Paige, Ruxy and Yosef.
“Because of you all, we are finding inspiration which is leading to progress and hope,” Dr. Chetan Bettegowda of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine told the crowd. “There used to be dozens, now we have hundreds and thousands of people around the world working on research for pediatric brain tumors.”
Philadelphia Ride for Kids Star Emily is grateful that motorcyclists support this cause. “I have been fighting since I was 4 years old and I am okay now,” she said. “After 13 years I looked at my X-rays and there was no tumor. I am on the stage because people like you came out and cared about us."
Making life better for Ride for Kids Stars is the reason motorcyclists across the country ride for the PBTF, which funds medical research and family support programs to help eliminate the challenges of childhood brain tumors.
Read more about the rides here:
The events are still collecting donations online at Fundraisers will receive incentive credit through Oct. 14.
Ride for Kids is a national series of motorcycle charity events that raise awareness and funds for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, the world's largest nonprofit funder of research into one of the deadliest forms of childhood cancer. The Ride for Kids program also funds free educational resources and college scholarships for brain tumor survivors. More than 28,000 children in the United States are living with the diagnosis of a brain tumor, and 13 more cases are identified each day. American Honda is the presenting sponsor of Ride for Kids. Other national supporters include GEICO and Cycle World magazine. To ride with us to cure the kids, call 800-253-6530 or go to

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Product Review: Chase-Harper 950XM Tank Bag

I'm a tank-bag whore; I always have at least 3-4 on hand from which to choose. I've used the CH 650XM for a couple of years as my primary bag, which is nearly identical to the 950XM except for the 950's expansion zipper, red interior, and slightly shorter outside mesh pockets (which work great for holding a toll-both transponder.) On both bags, I cut the backpack straps out so I can use that pocket for extra storage. I also cut the strap for the headstock strap as I've never had a magnetic bag that actually needed one. This doesn't come with a rain cover, which for me is no big deal because I've learned over the years that the best method for keeping a tank bag's contents dry (and negating the need to stop) is to use a repellant/UV protector spray on the bag, and forego rain covers in favor of using Pelican cases, Loksaks, zip-loc baggies, etc.  Most rain covers are a PITA to install, flop around at speed, and cover the map case. Speaking of which, this bag comes with a double-sided map case. It also has plenty of interior and exterior pockets, a key clip, a shock-cord web on top, and four extra mounting points on the outside that could be used to strap something down. The magnets grasp the gas tank with limpet-like strength. All in all, a well-designed, feature-filled, top-quality bag.

Update: Chase Harper's customer service and warranty support are sub-par. After using the bag only 2-3 times, one of the elastic cord loops that secure the map case broke, and 2 of the remaining 3 look like they'll break soon, too. Chase Harper tells me it will repair the bag at no cost (though not to like-new condition; it will only "top stitch" the cords onto the bag, which were originally sewn into a seam) but the full cost of shipping the bag from Delaware to California will have to be borne by ME. I fail to understand why I should have to pay a single penny when I was sold a bag with a clear defective design or manufacturing defect. The best motorcycle-product vendors I deal with would likely simply send a replacement ASAP, or send one when the defective bag was returned.