Thursday, May 30, 2013

Antique Auto Museum at Hershey

The Antique Auto Museum at Hershey, in...wait for it...Hershey, Pennsylvania had been on my "ride to" list for years, so I was happy to have the opportunity to drop in a couple of weeks ago. Highly recommended! The 10-year old museum's permanent collection includes cars,  trucks, motorcycles and buses (you may recognize the Forrest Gump bus below) dating from the first automobiles in the late 1800s through the 1970s, some of which are displayed in detailed dioramas including a 1940s service station, a drive-in movie theatre and a diner. When I happened to visit, there was a special exhibit of British motorcycles from the 1950s, '60s and '70s.  Below are a few of the pics I shot (click to enlarge), heavy on motorcycles, this being a moto-blog.  To view all my images, including the four and more wheelers, click here

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tips: Renting a motorcycle for your UK holiday.

Tips for Enjoying a Great Motorcycle Holiday

The UK is a diverse holiday destination, and one that offers a vast number of resorts and activities to suit a broad range of tastes. The southwest of England is particularly appealing to a wide range of visitors, as it combines beautiful countryside with booming metropolitan cities like few other geographical regions. This region is especially popular among motorcycle enthusiasts, thanks primarily to the large number of trails that exist in West Sussex and its neighbouring counties.

Enjoying a Great Motorcycle Holiday in the Southwest of England

With this in mind, what steps can you take to plan a unique and ultimately enjoyable motorcycle holidays in one of England’s picturesque locations? Consider the following: -

Plan an Itinerary that Takes in Several Locations

Depending on the length of time that you are hoping to travel for, you should create a flexible itinerary that allows you to take in as much of your chosen destination as possible. There are numerous places along the West Coast in particular, and a well planned motorbike holiday can allow you take in as much of the natural beauty and opulence as possible. Motorcycling provides you with a unique opportunity to sample outdoor terrain and landscape, and an organized approach is key to enjoying everything that your chosen region has to offer.

Hire a Motorbike for the Occasion

While you may be inclined to take your own motorcycle as transportation, this is not necessarily the most beneficial way of travelling. After all, if you rely on your motorbike as an everyday mode of transportation, it would be unwise to risk damaging it as you traverse the open countryside and variable roadside terrain. This could incur long term costs and a significant amount of disruption, so while renting a new model may require an initial investment it save you money in the long term. For the most affordable and competitive deals, consider West Sussex Motorcycle Hire.

Ensure that your Paperwork and Documentation is up to Date

If you do decide to take your own motorbike, then it is your duty as a responsible road user to guarantee that it is in peak condition and fit for purpose. Not only will you need to ensure that your motorbike is well maintained and fully serviced, but you will also need to have paperwork and documentation that supports this. Taking these steps may be time consuming and a little monotonous, but they will ensure that your bike is capable of handling any terrain and also well protected in the event of an accident or collision.

Enjoying a Unique Motorcycle Experience in the UK

As any motorcycle enthusiast will testify, there is nothing quite like traversing the open countryside during the height of summer. That said, it is important to be prepared and plan efficiently for your motorcycle adventure, as this will help you to enjoy a more enriching experience that delivers greater value for your hard earned money.

Labels: , ,

Vintage Motorcycle Meet, Oley, PA

I made a wrong turn on the way to the office on Friday, April 26th and ended up a couple of hours away at an antique motorcycle meet in Oley, Pennsylvania.  This is a 2-day event, which is one of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America's annual meets.  I first attended this event about 16 years ago; no clue why I waited so long to return because it's awesome.  These images are just a tease: click here to see everything I shot.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, May 17, 2013

Scottish Games tomorrow!

While not a motorcycle event per se, the annual Scottish Games and Gathering of the Clans being held at the Fair Hill, Maryland Natural Resources Management Area tomorrow. It's a huge, unique one-day event that would be an excellent excuse (as if you needed one) to take a ride.  As 18th Century explorer Alexander Mackenzie is my great-times-six-grandfather,  I claim my tenuous Scottish heritage this one day each year. Among the attractions are the caber-toss, sheaf-toss, sheep dog demonstrations, marching band competitions, bagpipes galore, and of course more red-haired folks in one place than you're likely to see anywhere outside of Scotland itself. There will also be food and Scottish-product vendors, plus plenty of McEwan's Strong Ale, so take it easy if you're arriving on two wheels OK?  See ya there!

Labels: ,

Retreads Rally 2013

I've spent the last two days at the three-day annual rally hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Retreads International motorcycle club. The rally is HQ'd in Bird-In-Hand, Pennsylvania in the heart of Amish country. If you're not familiar with Retreads, we're an AMA-chartered club that's been around since 1970.  Retreads is a non-profit, socially oriented organization of some 5,000+ members around the world, all of whom share two things:  an age of 40 plus (I'm one of the youngest at age 52), and a love of motorcycling. Other than those requirements, Retreads is open to anyone. This rally usually brings 500-600 attendees, primarily from the Mid-Atlantic region as one would expect, but we get folks from as far away as Maine; there is also have a regular contingent from Canada. There will be many well-organized group rides, self-guided tours, poker runs, vendors, prizes and (typical of Amish country) food, food, food!  

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, May 13, 2013

Spares and maintenance for Chinese bikes

The growing popularity of Chinese motorcycles around the world shows the power of China’s manufacturing and export industries; the country is now producing the largest number of bikes in the world by some stretch. They are renowned for being particularly good value for money, and build standards have improved considerably in recent years. However, they do still take some maintaining and making sure you’ve got the motorbike spares that you need to hand is important. With that in mind, what are the parts and maintenance procedures you should pay particular attention to?

Chains/drive mechanisms
The chains and drive mechanisms of some Chinese bikes can be a little precious; there is a reasonable likelihood you might need to spend some extra time on them given that production methods in the east haven’t yet caught up with the west. The shaft drive should ideally have its oil changed when the main oil is changed, if possible. On a similar note the belt drive’s tension should be examined and the belt drive itself should be cleaned on a regular basis.

Wiring Looms
The wiring loom on some Sinnis bikes has been flagged as potentially not being as waterproof, compact or generally durable as that of a Honda or Yamaha, as a result it may need to be replaced more often. If you’re able to check it fairly regularly you should hopefully be able to avoid this.

In terms of electrics, shorts can occur on Rocket/Qingqi bikes as a result of problems with insulation or wiring in which case a talented local mechanic will probably be your best bet, although if you’re careful and know what you’re doing you can always give fixing it a go yourself, assuming you earth yourself and insulate yourself from the electrics-you might need to strip off quite a lot of the casing to ensure you can see and get to all you need to.

Fuel and petrol tanks
Occasionally a problem - both the fuel tank and the sump of the Lexmoto Street have been reported to leak. To reduce the chances of this happening if you own one, check the filter and fuel lines regularly to make sure that there’s no weakness there or anything that might give you reason to suspect the tank might be having difficulties. If the tank has had the same fuel in it for several months it might be worth bleeding off the excess and refilling it with fresh fuel to reduce the chances of decomposition. Lastly, turning the fuel tap off when you park should help to seal off the tank and stop leaks elsewhere as well.
Chinese bikes are great fun, and make a very good introduction to biking for those who might find the financing of a higher-end bike difficult. They do need to be looked after a bit more than other bikes though, so brushing up on basic mechanical knowledge is a good idea before investing in this growing market.


Monday, May 06, 2013

Seen at Ephrata Ride-In, May 2013

There were easily 700-800 motorcycles at the Ephrata "First Sunday" event yesterday; here a few that caught my eye.  The (sorta) Moto-Guzzi "whatsit?" at bottom stole the show. (As always, click on images to enlarge.)
Water Buffalo anyone?

Largely hand-fabbed 58cc Moto-Guzzi powered moped meets mountain bike meets board track racer meets steam punk. Full of great touches like leather tank hangers, braided cable covers, brass bits and coiled copper fuel line.

Hand-made tank
Yes, somehow it's street legal
Coolest helmet at the event hands-down!
What, you don't measure speed in PSI? The owner tells me he's going to make this a working speedo; should be a doodle as he's a watchmaker by trade.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, May 03, 2013

Book Review: Red Tape and White Knuckles

Red Tape and White Knuckles is an inspiring chronicle of Lois Pryce's motorcycle adventure through Africa, which was in turns lonely, beautiful, difficult and downright dangerous.  From her London departure to her Cape of Good Hope "finish line" 10,000 miles later, Lois overcomes many natural, logistical, cultural and political challenges with a combination of  insight, positive spirit, and faith in humanity, always with an undercurrent of the famed wry British wit and humor.

Lois' writing is conversational, accessible and engaging with vivid descriptions of the many places and characters she encounters. I enjoyed that while she can be self-effacing, she also doesn't pull her punches in critiquing others (something lacking in the typical "all is rosy despite" travelogue.)  As we're inundated nowadays with celebrity motorcycle "Which Way 'Round" stories in print and on film, it's refreshing that Ms. Pryce doesn't play to her considerable fame among big-time motorcycle adventurer fans, instead choosing to travel in a bare-bones, un-supported manner, upon a small dual-sport bike neither sporting a certain spinning-propeller roundel, nor festooned in sponsor banners.
As a woman travelling alone through war-torn and Islam-dominated countries, Lois' account necessarily touches upon "heavy" themes such as gender, paternalism and religion, but Red Tape remains a light read without the overarching social commentary of say, Ted Simon's classic Jupiter's Travels (not that either approach is "better," just different) and therefore, coupled with the dearth of detailed technical information of interest only to die-hard motorcycle adventure-touring types, I believe this book has broad appeal, to include folks who have no interest in motorcycles whatsoever.  Personally, I was left wanting for a bit more introspection, and most of all: photographs! But like the best of motorcycle adventure chronicles, such as the aforementioned Jupiter's Travels and Helge Pedersen's Ten Years on Two Wheels, by the end of Red Tape and White Knuckles, the reader is likely to be inspired to set out on one's own adventure, or at least to be a little more adventurous in life's daily pursuits, which to my way of thinking is high praise.

Red Tape and White Knuckles
416 ppg.
Octane Press
ISBN: 9781937747138

Labels: , ,