Tuesday, December 23, 2008

U.S. Frankenmeat v. Euro Scooters!

Q: What does American beef have to do with the price of that KTM MX'er or Piaggio scooter you've been eyeing?  A: Quite a lot...maybe. U.S. Office of Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab announced last month that USTR is seeking public comment on the possible modification of the list of European products subject to increased tariffs in connection with the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement rulings in the EU – Beef Hormones dispute. About 10 years ago the WTO held that the Europe Union's ban on U.S. beef was a no-no.  Funny thing, the Europeans to this day still refuse to buy our hormone-laden beef.  So Uncle Sam is mulling over the idea of increasing (by at least 100%) import tariffs on all Eurpoean motorcycles between 51cc and 500cc. I don't know if that's right or wrong to bring a totally non-related industry into an agricultural dispute, but the effect for we motorcyclists is that it may be a good idea to buy that Euro-scooter sooner rather than later. You can read the AMA's response here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Honda Hoot Cancelled!

American Honda announced yesterday that the 2009 Honda Hoot is cancelled due to "economic uncertainty". The Hoot's website implies that the decision is permanent, which would bring to a close 15 years of what has been one of the most largest rallies in North America. Almost a quarter of a million motorcyclists have attended the Honda Hoot, which was born in the hills of Asheville, North Carolina and eventually moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. Better check your tour calendar and find another rally in late June, or perhaps stay an extra week following Americade.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Widder Going Out of Business

Widder Enterprises, which has been making heated motorcycle gear since 1971, is closing down shop at the end of 2008.  I've read rumours that the owner is retiring and has sold the company to Gerbing's.  No info on either of those points on Widder's website.  Purchases thru Widder's site over $50 are being marked down 35%, so you've still got a few days to grab a good deal, with the caveat that Widder won't extend any warranty beyond 12/31/08.  There never has been much competition in the USA heated m/c gear sector, and now 1/3 of the big dogs is gone, which can't be good for innovation.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

RoadRUNNER PA Dutch Country DVD

I'm lucky to live minutes from one of the best motorcycling areas in the U.S., an area which is also a relatively well-kept secret. Leave it to my favorite motorcycle touring publication, RoadRUNNER magazine, to "discover" this area and blab it to the world! RR recently released a DVD about motorcycle touring in the "Pennsylvania Dutch Country" of south eastern/central Pennsylvania. Publisher Christa Neuhauser enthused that, "If riders liked our first motorcycle touring DVD, they're really going to love this one! Bucolic countryside, twisty tarmac, fascinating attractions, interesting people, humorous encounters, evocative cinematography and the frozen-in-time Amish culture all make for possibly the most entertaining motorcycle tour ever captured in a video." Selling for $19.95, you can order one here. Now that the jig is up, maybe I'll see you on the road someday soon!

Monday, December 08, 2008

AMA sets "Ride Into Political Action" seminar

D.C. is abuzz with change; don't get left in the (political) dust!  To keep up with, and perhaps even influence, the legislative process affecting motorcyclists, attend AMA's Ride Into Political Action seminar February 21-24 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.  Read all about it here.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Kawasaki ZRX1200 Ressurected (for Japan anyway)

Why does Japan always get the cool stuff first? From what I can gather from the BabelFish translation of Kawasaki's Japanese website, a revamped version of the much-loved ZRX1200 will be released in February 2009 (see photo). I'm sure many here in Yankeeville would love to see this one sold here as well. The new ZRX holds faithful to the old ZRX's (itself a re-work of the '80s ZRX Eddie Lawson replica) styling cues, but now will have fuel injection and a 6-speed tranny. Other minor updates apparent from the photo include new wheels, exhaust, fairing, petal brake rotors and perhaps a larger fuel tank. The ZRX was always known for having one of the best-running engines around; hopefully KHI's engineers have the mapping on the new FI worked out appropriately.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Driveline Abuse

I'm guilty of "over maintaining" my motorcycles in some respects, but chains ain't one of them. Some folks have a regimented chain program of cleaning ("must use a size 00 camelhair brush and XYZosene") and lubing ("every 300 miles, bottom run only!") and no online forum is complete without a debate concerning auto-oilers and the best chain lube: 90 wt. gear oil, WD-40, purpose-made lube, nothing at all, etc. Maybe I've got a super-light throttle hand, but I historically get a minimum of 20K miles on a modern, O- or X-ring drivechain with very little time, effort and worry. A couple of months ago I replaced the original chain on my ZR-7S at 25,366 miles because it was worn unevenly (unavoidably caused by power pulses) to the point that it was affecting driveability; however, it wasn't excessively worn -- I had plenty of remaining adjustment range per the swingarm marks and could only pull the chain away from the rear sprocket a tiny bit. And to some folks' horror, I reused my sprockets; I was surpised by that as well, but I compared the new ones I had on hand to the old ones and there was no discernible difference. My chain maintenance regimen? 1) Manually squirt or drip some lube "every so often" or when the chain looks a little dry, on the top run ('cuz it's easier to get to); and, 2) oh yeah, that's it. Cleaning? Puh-leeze. I bought a Grunge Brush in my garage some years ago and it's still in its original packaging. Devoting brain cells to deciding what lube to use? Sorry, can't spare 'em (whatever is on the shelf will do, duPont Teflon of late). I think the biggest factor in chain/sprocket wear is proper adjustment. Judging from the chains I see on many bikes, many if not most folks keep them way too tight, which accelerates wear on both chain and sprockets. I keep my chains within factory specs, which would appear to be too loose to some folks, using the factory-recommended method (on my ZR, as with many bikes, that means on the centerstand, measured mid-way on the bottom run with the chain at its tightest point). BTW, RK makes this nifty tool I used to break my old chain and rivet the master link on my new EK X-ring chain.