Monday, January 28, 2013
I do miss having a bike in the garage, I feel a little bit like I've walked out the front door with no pants on...something doesn't feel right. The last time I went any real stretch without a bike was back in 2002. Total time without 2 wheels was perhaps 7 or 8 months but that was more about health issues than lack of wanting to ride.
Lo these many years later I feel great but the poor V-Strom wasn't getting ridden much. What to make of that? There is little complain about with the V-Strom 1000, I had no issue with the bike. Honestly, I think I'm a little burned out right now, a little uninspired about riding and writing, so I opted to blow most of the money from the V-Strom on a new camera. People who know me well were actually alarmed when they heard the news. "I can't picture you without a bike" was something I heard more than once.
As I noted in an earlier blog post, I've owned some of the best bikes in the world but have not made that same leap of quality in cameras. It was time.
So above is my now empty bike parking spot in the garage filled with a Nikon D600 equipped with a Nikon 28-70mm f2.8 lens. That's not Nikon's very best gear -- I haven't won the lotto -- bit it's very nice stuff. I'm not likely to upgrade the camera for sometime to come. I know I say that about bikes but oddly enough I do tend to keep cameras around a while by comparison. My Nikon D90 dated to 2008, ancient by digital camera standards.
Ironically, the photo above of the Nikon was taken with my Olympus E-PL1, also a very nice camera that I like a lot but it's not in the Nikon's league. I'll spare you the geek technical reasons why, suffice to say that "size matters" when it comes to DSLR camera sensors as does dynamic range and the ability of the camera to deal with extremes of exposure like bright chrome on a black bike. There, see. There's my justification.
Now I'm putting together a list of events and places I want to visit and photograph, some are motorcycle oriented, some are not. And Lord willing there will be another motorcycle in the garage and that probably before 2013 is done. Stay tuned.
Friday, January 11, 2013
Yes, friends, countless Forty Years On Two Wheels readers lured by fame and fortune sent in photos to for the big 40on2 photo contest. Okay, the number wasn't countless, a few readers did. Brave souls all, as submitting photos to a contest can be a little scary. After all, who wants to be judged by anyone for anything? The first two times I entered a photo contest I won so I've never entered another, I'm going out on top and batting 1000.
Let's look through the submissions and then get to the winner last. Photos are clickable if you wish to see them in a larger size.
Dale S. sent in a candid shot of his ride on the west coast. Last time I saw Dale he was about 9 years old and his dad and I raced dirt bikes together. Dude, you got old! Where did the time go?
Keith B. sent in a biker's lament sort of photo, especially fitting for this time of year. All geared up and snow on the ground. Brrr...I saw snow in a movie once, close enough for me.
Trobairitz sent along this nice shot of a road trip stop in Oregon next to a Conestoga wagon or "prairie schooner." I had no idea those things were that big..or are they riding minibikes?
Art W. offered up a nice POV shot of his wife Judy entering Canyonlands National Park on her Yamaha VStar. Art and his wife are avid riders of small displacement motorcycles. From an e-mail Art sent me regarding my blog entry "Thinking Small": "My wife and I started riding in 2011....took the safety course in CA then took off for Thailand where we purchased two Honda Waves 125cc scoots and rode them around Southeast Asia for 7000mi. returned to CA and bought Yammy VStars 250cc and have put over 24,000 on them in 18 months. Just completed a 10,000mi tour of the western states and Canada. We love our little motos!"
On the other side of the planet, long time 40on2 reader Prateek S sent in a glaring photo taken early morning somewhere in the deserts of Rajasthan state in India. (Prateek had a blog about his rides on his Royal Enfield, but I can't find it, did you take it down, friend?)
Doug U. sent in a shot that at first seems to lack a motorcycle until you look at the weather vane on the top of his barn. Cool. And a nice sunset shot. If I had a barn I'd get myself one of those weather vanes.
And finally.....drum roll please...
Sent in by Steve W. down under in New Zealand, it is a very nice shot done with his cell phone camera. See, you don't have to have an expensive camera to take a nice picture (I won't name names here 'cause I'd have to name myself). All you have to do is frame the shot well, get the sun in the right spot, get the horizon level, and click!
The scene is the Cold Kiwi Rally on the North Island of New Zealand. Mt. Ruapehu is in the background. The subject matter, a vintage Triumph triple in a campground, makes the story. A modern bike sitting there would have been just another bike in a campground although it still would have been a nice shot. Good photos should tell a story even if the viewer doesn't know much about the image.
So congrats, Steve, your $50 gift code to Jafrum.com will be e-mailed to you shortly. Given the distance to your country it may only cover the postage but hey, you won!
Thank you to all who took the time to enter! It was fun getting the photos and fun corresponding a bit with you.
Monday, January 07, 2013
I think the whole article, which I found interesting but overly hopeful in terms of the magazines, comes down to "Readers divided their time between print and new media, and the Internet fed their desire for news on a daily or even hourly basis."
The readership pie is getting cut into smaller and smaller pieces. With nearly unlimited choices of motorcycle reading sources the readership is fragmented so much that all that's left is market niches. Traditional print magazines will shrink until they fill whatever niche is theirs -- probably made up of people who like something to read while sitting on the toilet.
Those new, fancy, premium, printed motorcycle magazines (aping Robb Report or Art Doll Quartely) will get their niche, too, with minuscule circulation numbers but perhaps sufficient to give their publishers hope. I do admire those who are so passionate about bikes and writing that they bet a lot of money on the success of their own print media venture. As the national population grows, and if motorcyclists grow in number also, each niche may get big enough to support it's content providers in some reasonable fashion. The days of huge circulation numbers like Cycle or Cycle World once enjoyed could return but only if their niche grows.
The good news for a select few is that all those sources will need writers and photography so someone who is a talented freelancer may be able to make a living as the publishers, new media and print, watch their enthusiasm and capital drain away. Entrepreneurship is hard. Sometimes even the fittest don't survive.
What has disappeared and will stay disappeared because of market fragmentation is concentrated influence. The old magazines, the big ones, loved their influence and it's ability to sway the market or even a bike manufacturer, and that influence was prized by the publishers and editors for it's ability to draw advertisers and also feed egos. To be embraced by Cycle World publisher Joe Parkhurst or panned by Cycle Magazine editor Cook Nielsen meant something. To be loved or hated by "Bike Trend of the Moment Quarterly" means little to nothing to the wider audience.
To have influence takes sheer numbers of readers who can be influenced and no one content provider, print or new media, will get enough of everyone's attention long enough to be as influential as print magazines were in ye olden days. The attention of motorcyclists is scattered everywhere now and their attention span is measured in seconds, not hours.
Print advertisers are actually feeding the problem too. These days the ads are not designed to sell a product, they are designed to get you to put down the magazine and go to the manufacturer's website where they will sell you the product or help you find the dealer. Putting down the magazine is part of the process. Go to MotorcycleUSA.com or any other well constructed website and when you click on an advertisement it will open in a new browser tab while the old tab stays on the first site. That's not an accident. Advertising is a necessity but they don't want you to leave their site entirely.
Personally, I don't see a bright, profitable future for printed motorcycle magazines, I believe they will come and go for years yet and a one or two general interest magazines like Cycle World or Motorcyclist may endure. I am glad that old print will not entirely go away in my lifetime, sitting on the can with a good motorcycle magazine is one of life's little joys.
Friday, January 04, 2013
My neighbor Jim was in my garage recently. He is one of those guys that buys a bike or a car and keeps it until the wheels come off. He's got a Jeep Cherokee currently pushing 400,000 miles. Jim commented that the V-Strom 1000 had been in residence in my garage about a year now so when was I going to sell it? He always seems slightly amused at how frequently bikes come and go in my garage and there seemed a bit of a taunt in his words, a slight "I dare ya" tone to them.
I hadn't really given much thought to selling my '06 V-Strom 1000, it did most of what I needed done and it wasn't getting ridden that much anyway. Maybe 2500 miles in 2012 was it. Yes, I'm a slacker these days.
About a week ago we had a nice warm Arizona winter afternoon so I rolled the Suzuki out onto the driveway and set about washing off the dead bugs; the bike wasn't ridden a lot in 2011 and it wasn't washed a lot either.
After the machine was all clean and shiny again, the painted parts waxed, the plastic parts dressed with low gloss Armor All, I grabbed my camera and shot a few pictures of it there in the driveway. By then I knew what I had in mind although I'd not fully committed to it nor even intended it when I'd started washing the bike and hour earlier. But now that the bike was clean, pictures taken, there seemed no reason not to just go ahead and list it on Craig's List and see what happened. So I did.
Two days before Christmas isn't the ideal time to sell a used motorcycle so I wasn't expecting much. But after Christmas a nibble or two came along and then I got a call yesterday from a fellow down Tucson way asking if I still had the V-Strom and could he drive up that day and look at it. Sure thing. He seemed anxious. I like anxious lookers.
Well, you long time 40on2 readers know how this turns out. It ends with me watching a perfectly good motorcycle disappear around the corner with it's new owner and yours truly standing in the driveway with a fist full of $100 bills.
Some might think it's a little nutz to trade bikes so often but really, I had the V-Strom a year, rode it when I wanted, had some very nice rides, got some good pictures, and the total cost of ownership for the year, apart from fuel, was $600. Buy the right machine at the right price and you can sell it at the right price and nearly play for free.
What to do next? I'm already having some withdrawal symptoms without a bike in the garage. Even if I don't ride it, the fact that I know a bike is out there and I could ride it is important to my petrol soaked brain.
At times I have owned the best motorcycles in the world (a new 1974 BMW R90S), I own the best dogs in the world (doesn't everyone?), and at times have been able to drive some of the best cars in the world (Bentley Continental, Bugatti Veyron), but I've never owned or used a pro level digital camera. So I confess I am tempted to spend a bunch of money on a new camera and go bike-less for a while.
Going bike-less is an option that would have been unthinkable 30 years ago but as my friend Dave said once "Somewhere along the way I went from being an enthusiastic motorcyclist to a motorcycle enthusiast." I might for at least a little while be content to up my photography game while taking some really nice pictures of motorcycles instead of riding motorcycles. And of course I could always rent a bike for the weekend if I really got the withdrawal shakes.
2013 stretches before me with more possibilities than one might imagine.
What to do?
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"When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour." - T.E. Lawrence
An Important reminder from the past:
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison