~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

30th Annual Vintage Bike Show in Phoenix

This year was the 30th annual, more or less, and I've been going to them since they were a "vintage picnic" at a local park. It's been interesting to see the event grow, get too big and attract the wrong crowd, get small, then start to grow again only to be hit by the downturn in the economy. This year was interesting, there seemed to be fewer vintage bikes than ever but the biggest crowd I've seen in several years. The swap meet was well populated also. I'm not sure why the turn out of vintage bikes is getting worse, there's lots of them around Arizona, but it was mostly the usual suspects that turned up again this year. I suspect it's a case of a club drifting and not really trying real hard to promote the event. I sent them three e-mails with a question about getting in early to shoot pictures will the light was good but never got a single reply.

There were some interesting bikes though, like the Simson. I'd never even heard of the brand before, it was another German brand that had been taken away from it's Jewish founders by the Nazis and then re-emerged in East Germany under communist control after the war. I spoke with the owner, he spotted it sitting in someone apartment as a decor piece and managed to buy it. He said it's taken a bit of fiddling and some parts but it's working again and he rode it to the event on Sunday. He said he's in it about twice what it's worth now and isn't sure how much further he'll go in refurbishing it but it's fun to play with.

The club apparently decided branch out this year offering special classes for cafe racers and bobbers but to no great success. There were a handful of interesting bikes between the two groups, the CB750 below being one of the nicest.

Photo cropped to protect cosplay guilty.
The above Sporty based bike was out in the parking lot, ridden in and out by someone who believes in go, not just show. The parking lot had it's share of Craig's List bobbers and flannel shirt/low top tennis shoe/metal flake helmet wearing motorsicklists.  If the $60k butt jewelry chopper fad is over (hooray!) the bobber craze driven by people with a hack saw and a rattle can of flat black paint is going strong.  The bike above is a bit extreme but actually well executed unlike some of the bastard step children bikes elsewhere in the parking lot.

A Hercules showed up, first one I've ever seen in person. I kept imagining some engineers and designers stepping back from the prototype thinking "Ja! Zis vill change de verld!"

Oddly enough there were almost no dirt bikes this year and not a single Bultaco. Booo...hiss! There was a Ariel 500cc raced with some success back in the late forties and now kept by the rider's son.

One lone Ducati 250, included here for the Italian bike fans out there:

And while we're thinking Italian, a very nice Benelli 650 Tornado. I think this is the first one of these I've seen in person too. Pretty bike, almost more German looking that Italian but for the red paint.

And finally, a 1926 Indian Prince, unrestored:

I spoke with the lady who owns the Indian, the bike is for sale. Her husband's father bought it new in '26 and lost interest after a while so the bike was put away in a barn on their 500 acre cherry orchard in Michigan. There it sat for the next 80+ years. She said her husband knew about it but wasn't interested. He's passed now so the bike is hers and she has no need of it and recognizes both it's value and need for a proper home to preserve it.

More pics from the day here.

Monday, April 07, 2014

The Blighty Boys Blog

I rarely recommend other blogs apart from the blog roll down below, there are too many that are equally good.  But a couple of smiling Brits have embarked on a long tour around the USA and after I followed a similar trip blog done by their fellow countryman Gary France a few years ago, I can't help but feel like the Blighty Boys,  John and Jon, will provide readers some good entertainment too. 

 My friend Simon over in England did a shorter US tour back in 2011 and was amazed to discover, as Gary France did, that Hollywood isn't America and what's in the news isn't typical America, it just stuff that happens in America. Way better things happen here -- good people, friendly people are still to be found between the headlines.  It will be very interesting to read about what the Blighty Boys discover.   John and Jon have already made landfall in the States, down Florida way, and will be headed west shortly.

image via Blighty Boys blog
I recommend you warm up some beer and cruise on over to The Blight Boys blog and say "Hi."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review: Viking Luggage Seat Bag

 The nice folks at Viking Bags contacted me and asked if I'd like to do a review of one of their luggage items.  Given that my Gold Wing is bedecked with acres of plastic storage compartment space I couldn't find anything on the Viking website that would do much for me.  The luggage on the site seems very targeted towards cruisers or sport bikes rather than fully equipped tourers like the big Wing.  What to do?  I hate to turn down free stuff especially when it's good stuff.

I recalled that my buddy Keith, over in California, was looking for a tail bag for his BMW K1200RS.   I checked with him and "Why yes," he'd love some free luggage.  Go figure.  Anyway, He selected the "Motorcycle Tunnel Seat Luggage" from the Viking site and in due course it arrived here in Arizona for my inspection.   I looked it over carefully and once again was impressed with how much quality Viking puts into their products for a very modest price, in this case $109.   After some photos back into the box the bag went and off to California for Keith's evaluation and use.

At right, Keith's K1200RS out at Vasquez Rocks in the California desert.  If they look familiar, Vasquez Rocks has been a shooting location for many TV shows and movies including Star Trek.  If you remember a scene in Star Trek where Captain Kirk rolls a boulder onto a lizard-like alien called a Gorn, this would be the general location.

Keith is a former aerospace test engineer and and I'm a retired automotive test engineer so between the two of us we can raise pickyness to a fine art but we didn't find much to be picky about with this bag.  About the worst thing we could find wrong was that it has a strong "plastic" odor when you open it up but a day of sitting open in the sun took care of that.

The bag comes with a variety of tie-down options and tie-down points including a fabric base that can be secured to the bike so the bag can be quick detached and carried like luggage.   Keith still struggled to attached it well to his BMW.  The smooth, plastic design of the back of the Beemer didn't give a lot of tie point but with a bit of creativity he got it done.  The bag also has a carry handle and strap and Keith commented Once the bag was off, it has a good, comfortable luggage style handle much like a suitcase handle."

Mounting base, assorted straps, and a rain cover

The bag looks good on the BMW, it blends in about as well as can be expected.  No one ever accused Keith of being a style maven but he still didn't want something that looks like a big kludge lashed onto the back of an otherwise fine looking machine.

You can't see it in the photo but the bottom of the bag is tunnel shaped to allow it to slight fit over a normal seat.  This helps the bag stay more secure and less likely to slip off to one side.

One of the things Keith told me he really appreciated was the low profile of the bag, it makes it a little easier to get one's leg up and over when getting on and off the bike and doesn't catch him in the back or but even if the bag is over-stuffed.  

Space, the final frontier: 

The bag isn't a giant bag. From another company I have a tail bag that holds waaay more stuff, but then it opens higher and higher until it looks like you strapped the "leaning tower of luggage" onto the back of the bike.   For some people speed and traveling still require a bit of style.  Looking like the Joad family headed west from Oklahoma isn't an option.   The Viking seat bag had a good amount of storage and pockets, I'd say enough space all on it's own for a long weekend ride.  Further than that and you're still going to need some saddle bags.

The Viking bag has eight or nine different storage compartments for your sundries.  It's nice to be able to compartmentalize your travel junk rather than fish around in the bottom of one big cavernous bag.
Some, not all, of the compartments

I'll let Keith sum it up since he's been using the bag for a month or so now:  "For the money the bag sells for, the size, and versatility, I think it’s an excellent bag" and "...The more I used it, the better I liked it."

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