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

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Revolving Garage Door?

2007 Kawasaki VN900 Classic LT
I should put a revolving door on my garage for the bikes that come and go. The previous '03 Kawasaki Concours was a great bike but the wrong one for me this particular time, or so I adjudged.

I've been casting about looking for something interesting, something that would entertain to some degree on the shorter rides I mostly do these days. I toyed with the idea of a Harley, even thought about customizing it, but deep in my heart I knew that the rougher ride of the Sporty would not be acceptable to a body that is now paying me back for decades of abuse.

I thought perhaps another "airhead" BMW would be fun, some of the best rides of my life were on older BMWs when they were new, but the airheads I found that I'd seriously consider buying were too far away and a fly-'n-ride or bike shipment wouldn't fit the budget. In the end I settled on another V-twin bike mostly for the nice sound that a v-twin makes: It is real auditory entertainment of the best sort and something no iPod can equal.

Outside the Robles House, built in 1881, Florence, AZ. Needs paint and a bit of work.
I grabbed another Kawasaki Vulcan (stupid model name), this time the VN900. I've had the 1500 Drifter and the 1600 Classic in days gone by and this time I downsized mostly because of budget constraints but also because I'm growing weary of wrestling larger bikes.

A previous owner bought the 900, found that riding wasn't his cup of tea, and sold me the '07 900 Classic LT with just 6600 miles on for $4300. The seller was asking a bit more than $4300 but the bike had been dropped once scraping the front fender so some money needed to be deducted for a new fender. I wasn't going to spend the next six months explaining to everyone that saw the bike that it was the PREVIOUS owner that did it, not me. Also, my clean and orderly bike fetish was not going to be able to endure an obviously scratched front fender either. The new fender has been secured and the old one now hangs on the wall in the garage with a silver Sharpie note scrawled on it saying "I didn't do this." I've dropped bikes before but I'm not taking the razzing from my riding pals for this one.

I found out after I bought it that the bike still has an extended warranty on it to 2011 and that was a pleasant surprise. Buying a used bike is always a roll of the dice when it comes to problems and having a bit of factory warranty left eases the mind.

Car & bike gathering. Scottsdale, AZ. This is not a motorcycle but I like it a lot.
I've been riding the Kaw around a bit, including the regular Saturday night car and bike gathering up in Scottsdale, AZ. It's riding season now here in central and southern Arizona, completely backward from most of the country, and the nice cars and bikes are out in force. I've put about 500 miles on bike wandering about taking photos, and visiting friends. The 900cc engine lacks the punch of either the 1500 or 1600 Kaw but that's no surprise, just something I miss a little. So for now, the new/used Kaw will serve it purpose, probably at least through this riding season. Then we'll see if I win the lottery next Spring and can buy something snazzier which I'll then keep for six months and sell too.

I'm not hard to please, I just have a short attention span.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Walk Through An AZ Motorcycle Swap Meet

Every year there is a motorcycle swap meet at the county fairgrounds about twelve miles from where I live. For some reason I've never gone so this year I vowed to make it to the event. Motorcycle swap meets are great fun, full of interesting people, and with so much bike junk around there is lots of fodder for photographs.

The gathering this year at the fairgrounds was billed as "Arizona's largest motorcycle swap meet." Compared to the mega meets I see pictures of from other parts of the country this one is pretty minuscule. Still, there were some interesting tidbits and a wider range of bike clubs than we usually see at the annual vintage bike meets.

I came within an inch of buying a '57 Sportster engine cover with some engraving. The part was well used, not expensive, would have looked great on the wall in the garage just as a piece of vintage motorcycle art, but in the end I let it go by. Sort of sorry now that I did.

Motorcycle people make great photographic subjects if you can get them to let you take the photo. Since a good many of the people at the meet today were from 1% clubs or close to it, I didn't take too many people pictures. Actually, I took none. Someone told me once that in a crowd of bikers I looked like a cop. Geez, there's a warm and fuzzy thought. I've never forgotten that and it's probably true, I'm too mainstream to ever "look like a biker" and if I tried I'd probably look like a cop trying to look like a biker.

I'm not a cop, by the way, although I've known a few over the years same as I've known some...uh...not-cops. In the end I'm big on live and let live. I don't mess in other people's business as long as they stay out of mine. Regardless, pointing a large DSLR camera at people has a way of stiffening them up and spoiling the photo. I thought my red Bultaco hat maybe eased my straight-laced appearance a little, seems to work ok at the vintage meets, but with todays crowd I was definitely an outsider at what appeared to me as much a social gathering as a swap meet.

Unloved: Suzuki GSXR carbs for sale at a mostly Harley swap meet. Yeah, I know how they feel.

I've noticed when I look through my pictures and the ones that the the Mrs. shoots that she tends to shoot pictures of people while I shoot pictures of bikes and parts. I mentioned to her today that she should try to avoid taking pictures of people without asking, especially taking pictures of the "colorful" vest or jacket art. She comes off as a lot more innocent looking than me; she told me she kept pointing her camera at some guy with a three pigtail beaded beard and he kept throwing up his arm to cover his face. "He really looked like a character!" Hint: He doesn't want his picture taken. He has his reasons. I'd have probably gotten my lights punched out for that. The innocent look has it's advantages.

I walked up to one group today out in the parking lot, didn't even have the camera up, and half of them got up and walked away before I got much past "Hi." Not even people with colors, just camera shy, I guess.

Perfect match.

Here's more pictures from today's excursion:

AMF Harley. Ah, the good old days when you could buy a matching bowling ball to go with your Harley. Oh wait, you still can.

A David Mann fan

A little paint, some Armor All on the tires, and it's ready for Craig's List as "mint condition."

Modern retro out in the parking lot. Very nice!

From what I see at the bike gatherings and on-line the days of the stretch out, swoopy chopper are over. Hooray!

Wanna go postal?

My vote for one of the coolest bikes there. I didn't get to meet the owner, the bike was just out in the parking lot. Clearly the guy was proud of his days as an Army Ranger, as well he should be. Nice, nice, clean, machine.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Bonneville World Finals 2009

Yes, more stuff from the Bonneville Salt Flats, partly because I like it and partly because I'm too lazy to blog anything else at the moment.

The "World Finals" are the last event of the Bonneville season so I thought I'd toss out a picture and a link. The picture is from "Seldom Seen Slim" who is reporting semi-hourly right from the Salt Flats courtesy of a Verizon AirCard. If you've a mind to see more pictures of the variety of bikes that run at a Bonneville event and also read through the running commentary the link to Landracing.com is here.

Two more pictures courtesy of SSS:

Not everyone races stretched out, missile shaped race bikes that don't look like bikes.

Tom Liberatore ran his M/PG 750 class Moto Guzzi to a new record of 138.280 mph

...and your basic double engine Harley

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Update: The Worlds Fastest Motorcycle

I love to go fast and nearly every bike I've ever owned I've pushed to it's top speed at least once. My Yamaha TW200 with the smaller rear sprocket will top at at 62 mph. Woosh!!! When I got the chance to drive fast cars home from work I'd usually try to make at least one top speed blast before I had to give them back. I only ever got to drive one car that I couldn't/wouldn't wind all the way out on a public road and that was the Bentley Continental Fly Spur. 186 mph on a public road didn't seem wise unless the car was dialed in a little closer than usual. I won't admit in writing what speed I did get the big Bentley up to but I did scare the crap out of my son. Imagine a motorcycle that's just at half throttle at 186 mph. Here's what bike going 370 mph+ looks like:

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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

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