Friday, June 19, 2009

Batcycle Sold!

Holy economic downturn, Batman!  Apparently, times are very tough indeed on Wayne Industries.  A few days ago the Batcycle from the '60s TV series sold on eBay for the Buy-It-Now price of $29,500. Originally a 250cc 1966 Yamaha Catalina, the Batcycle was equipped with the sidecar/detachable go-kart that poor smuck Robin had to squeeze into. It had 8245 miles on it when sold and was fully functional according to the seller.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fixed my Forkin' Problem

After suffering a mutiny of my ZR-7s' Handling Department last week, which included the Captain nearly being thrown into the drink twice on the same rainy commute, I decided to reign in my tired front boingers. Overboard went the water-thin old fluid (had been in over 29K miles) and OE springs, replaced by Progressive 11-1145 springs and fresh oil. I went with 10W oil (same as stock), using a Motion Pro fork oil syringe-tool thingie to set the level at 140mm (spring out, fully compressed) per Progressive's recommendation. The new springs are much longer, so to measure for the new spacers I simply laid the OE springs and spacer side-by-side with the new springs and supplied PVC pipe. I then added a very scientific "smidge" to make the new spacer an even 3". I reused the OE washers. I must've gotten the preload correct because the spacer stuck up about 3/8" beyond the extended fork tube, which is the "rule of thumb" preload check per Progressive. While the forks were on the bench, I took the opportunity to polish the upper tubes very well to remove dried beetle remains a/k/a fork seal killers. I also cleaned up the brake calipers and re-greased the slider pins. With everything back together, I did a half-arsed sag measurement using a zip-tie on the upper fork tube. It was at 30mm with no riding gear or luggage, so I must be in the neighborhood of the often-recommended 35mm. A test ride on very familiar roads revealed a much better behaved motorcycle; the front soaks up little bumps while holding up to sharp-edged bumps and also diving less under braking, which also gives me better feel for the rear tire while cornering, perhaps because the excessive fork dive/weight transfer is eliminated. Steering is much improved, too; it actually holds a line again. My ZR always handled well enough for me until recently, and now it's probably even better than new. Of course, having better feel out front will probably soon reveal how old the rear shock it getting, which means I better keep the credit card handy.

We don't need no stinkin' jack!
Old v. new. The red tool is a PVC cutter; very handy!
Workmate bench was handy as well.

Monday, June 15, 2009

MotoGP Must-See!

I hope you didn't miss yesterday's duel between Rossi and Lorenzo at the Catalunya MotoGP. Instant classic. Go watch the race on MotoGP's YouTube channel, or click here to see the final two epic laps.

Update 6/24/2009: The link above won't work; try this one instead. Dorna/MotoGP are yanking down fans' YouTube postings as fast as they go up. Instead, you get to watch MotoGP's own ridiculously sucky video, which shows the most critical passes of the last laps in fast forward! What genius decided that was a good way to show off MotoGP? Hey Dorna: you've got one of most exciting finishes in history; just let it play! And stop trying to quell fandom through your IP lawyers. The more vids get posted on YouTube, the stronger your fan-base becomes...get it?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Friendship Blogger Award

So a Texan moto-blogger called Torch (Midlife Motorcycle Madness) bestowed upon this little site a Friendship Blogger Award.  Not so sure I qualify, particularly the "exceedingly charming" criterium, but "Thanks Torch!"  The "FBA" program asks that each recipient in turn honor eight more blogs,  ad infinitum. Each blogger is also to include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award:

These blogs are exceedingly charming.
These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends.
They are not interested in self-aggrandizement.
Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.
Please give more attention to these writers.

If nothing else, this is a great way to discover interesting new blogs. Now, on behalf of Tilted Horizons and the Academy of Blogging Arts & Sciences...the envelope please...the eight coveted "Eff-Bee" awards go to, in no particular order:

Scooter in the Sticks

Living in Bury St. Edmonds


Dante's Dame

Scoot Lancaster


Touring on the Road


She Rides A Beemer

Mongo's Digs

The Iceman Bloggeth



What's that?  More than 8?  I've never been very good with numbers.  Besides,  I couldn't pick just 8.  So sue me; I happen to know a good lawyer.  ;^)

Monday, June 08, 2009

Annual Ride to Work Day a Week Away!

Even if you're not a regular motorcycle commuter, "git on yer bike!" next Monday the 15th for the 18th annual worldwide Ride to Work Day. This year's motorcycle and scooter commuting demonstration is expected to be more than double as many riders become two-wheeled commuters to help demonstrate that riding is an efficient, economical form of personal transportation which makes parking easier and helps traffic flow better. According to Ride to Work, a non-profit advocacy organization: "Riding to work on this day shows the positive value of motorcycles and scooters for transportation. For many people, riding is an economical, efficient and socially responsible form of mobility that saves energy, helps the environment and provides a broad range of other public benefits". Motorcycle and scooter enthusiasts and rider organizations worldwide encourage their members to ride to work on this day.

According to the United States Census Bureau and the Department of Transportation, over eighty million cars and light trucks are used for daily commuting on American roads, and about 200,000 motorcycles and scooters are a regular part of this mix. On Ride To Work Day, the practical side of riding becomes more visible as a larger number of America's 8,000,000 cycles are ridden to work.

Let's hope the weather next Monday is a little better then recently.  I commuted in the wet all last week, including a ride home in a thunderstorm /windstorm that was sufficiently nasty that when I got home the Weather Channel was doing a live report on it!  Not that it wasn't fun on some video-game-like level dodging all stuff flying by: tree branches, roof shingles, Smart Cars, old ladies in rocking chairs (cue Miss Gulch's theme from Wizard of Oz)...

Ride to Work Day, a 501 c4 nonprofit organization, can be reached at:
POB 1072, Proctor, Minnesota, 55810 USA
218 722 9806
Christine Holt
Andy Goldfine

Friday, June 05, 2009

Free AMA Roadside Assistance!

Remember the American Motorcyclist Association's "Mo-Tow" service, with it's separate fee and subscription period, and how you had to double-check the expiration date or perhaps renew before heading out on tour?  Well, forget all that.  When you join or renew your AMA membership in the new "enhanced" categories (Champion, Defender, Hall of Fame or Competition Plus), and opt for automatic renewal, you get AMA Roadside Assistance for free, linked directly to your membership.  (Little secret: if you're among the first 25,000, you'll also get a $10 gift card).  Roadside Assistance is hugely more comprehensive that Mo-Tow, which was basically just a tow service, and includes coverage for all motorcycles, cars, pickups, motorhomes and trailers registered to you, your spouse, and dependent children under the age of 24, living at home or away at college.  The full list of plan benefits are on AMA's site here. Hopefully, one never needs these benefits, but IMHO it's a little extra piece of mind well worth having.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Hillclimb this Sunday!

This Sunday June 7th those hillclimb crazies return to the AMA Class A Professional event at the White Rose Motorcycle Club's hill near Jefferson, PA. I've attended this event a few times previously and I hope to make this one. If you've never watched a real hillclimb, you should. It's one of the oldest forms of motorcycling competition, and also one of the toughest...and most basic: fastest to the top wins (or furthest, if the hill beats everyone). At the White Rose hill, riders hurl themselves up a 300-foot dirt hill; two jumps on the way up make it even more interesting. Of course, anyone lucky and fast enough to cross the finish line with momentum to spare takes a final leap over the crest. Bikes range from converted MXers to purpose-built climbers powered by old British twins or late-model 4-cylinder screamers. The first rider launches at 12:30 PM, rain or shine. That the club can be reached via twisty backroads makes the event that much more fun! Click over to the club's website for More event info.