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

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

No Bikes, Just A Small Photo

Old timers flying an old timer. Model design from 1939.
Pilot, seated, slightly newer.
 The magazine is Model Aviation, the monthly publication of the Academy of Model Aeronautics.  Circulation is about 175,000 per month.  I shot the photo along with a bunch of others back in January and the fellow who writes the "Old Timers" column for MA liked the shot well enough to use it for his column in the magazine.   No money in this for me, my hobby remains a hobby, but it's nice to get some recognition for a photo as now National Geographic and Cycle World know for whom to look. 

I've had photos and images published before, three shots in a motorcycle parts catalog in 2001 and some infrared images of mine were widely published in Germany in 2004, but this is the first time I actually got name credit for an image.  Everything else I've had published up until now was shot for one business or another so my name got left off.  Fame and fortune have been illusive.

Someone once said that men in their 20s want sex, in their 30s and 40s want money, and in their 50s and 60s want recognition.   Money would have been useful but the recognition is nice.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

A Russian Jig Saw Puzzle

Photos are clickable and look better full size.
The weather forecast for today was for morning low temp of 80° so I decided to drag myself out of bed early and go for a ride.  The bike has been parked for about 3 weeks now, my last ride being a run up to the Kawasaki dealer in Mesa to have a new rear tire fitted (got a Pirelli, works well).

With the temp starting out at 80° I knew the ride wouldn't be a long one because it heats up fast here this time of the year and 100° by noon would be a sure thing.  So I set out to do my usual Sunday jaunt.  It's predicable, not very exciting, but pleasant and sometimes it gets more interesting.  More importantly, it got me out of the house.

Some guys have a bigger space than others for their toys. This is not my garage but I wish...
I made my usual stop at Coolidge Airport and found that Ray Bachman was there working with his helper, Kenny.  Ray has an Aero L-29 Delfin jet trainer in the hanger but today I also found his other plane, a MiG 17F.  Or at least half of the MiG.
1/2 of a 12,000lb, 750 mph gas guzzler
An engine fire three years ago chewed up the back of the plane and it's been a long haul to try and get the 1955, Polish built, Russian jig saw puzzle together again.

Just two American guys wiling away a Sunday working on a plane that would have been a top secret  Soviet aircraft in 1950 or so.  Joe Stalin would be so pissed.

Cockpit bits. Good to be organized.  MiG 17 Tech support closed 40 years ago.
Ray and Kenny were redoing the cockpit instrument panels and tidying things up, not much else to do at this point until the engine and back half reappear from the overhaul shop and can be bolted up.

Kenny stands on an OSHA approved platform.

Below is a photo I snapped of Ray's plane back in 2006 when it was all in one piece.  Ray flies the MiG in air shows around the country.  It's sort of like taking your vintage bike to vintage bike events around the country except that your vintage bike doesn't burn 3 - 5 gallons of jet fuel per minute just getting there.
The guys said it should be back to flying in a few months.

Fun morning.  Never know what you'll find on a ride, even in rural Arizona.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Kill A Motorcyclist, Get 18 Easy Months

Link:  Foundation Against Distracted Driving

In my darker moments sometimes I feel that a little vigilante biker justice could be a good thing to instill a useful fear of of motorcyclists into a willingly ignorant driving public and a brain dead judiciary.  Okay, I'm not really advocating actual violence against anyone, repaying wrong with wrong solves nothing and drags us to the level of the criminal, but it's maddening to see courts let people get off with little more than a token sentence as punishment for carelessly killing another human being.  A more cogent commentary on the situation is over at DealerNews.com.

Rest In Peace, Anita Zaffke

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Beater Bikes

The Kaw 900 has been around for a year now and I've put a couple of thousand miles on it, mostly with short rides.  I have no major complaints about the bike except the rather harsh and limited rear suspension.

Since Kaw has been around a whole year I'm afraid my thoughts have strayed once again to other possible bikes.  I can't help myself, it just happens.   I've tried to stop, stayed away from Craig's List motorcycle ads for weeks at a time.   I thought I was clean, kicked the habit.  No more bikes. 

One day a little Bavarian gnome sat on one shoulder saying "Re-live the old days, buy an old  airhead BMW" and on the other shoulder a little banker angel (there's an oxymoron) said "Be sensible. You're broke!"   But if I sold the Kaw I could get something else and the Kaw, since it was bought right, is still worth what I paid for it.  If I could find one more old BMW like I had in the good ol' days, one proper opposed-twin air cooled Beemer, well, that would be a fine thing, especially if it was black with white pinstriping as all proper BMWs are.  Visions of when I was a 25 years old on my '74 R90S danced in my head.  I dare not dream of another R90S, way out of my price league now, but a nice clean pre-1994 R-bike doesn't seem too much to hope for. 

California Highway 49. 1974

So I slipped back to browsing the motorcycle ads, not every day, but some days, and then every day.

Eventually I spotted a possible candidate, an early '80s BMW R100RT, the pearl white 60th Anniversary Edition with just 57,000 miles on it.  One of 600 made for the USA market. >sweat, sweat<

Should I?  Could I?  No, I mustn't.  But I must.  I'll go look at it when I drive up to the big city about other business, it will probably be gone by then anyway.  And they were asking too much for it. And it's probably a beater bike.

Well, just by coincidence I needed to go to the valley the very next day.  Imagine that.  So I made an appointment to see the bike.

I told the wife "It's probably a beater anyway."

"Why go look then?" she asked.

"Well, because it could be cream puff or at least a diamond in the rough" I said trying not to sound too hopeful.

As we rolled up to the house I saw the BMW sitting in the driveway and from about 150 ft away I said out loud "It's a beater."   We got out to look closer and the bike was dirty, the tires low, and while it wasn't that bad cosmetically and wasn't dented or obviously broken, it would need a lot of help to regain it's Bavarian pride.  Nothing major, nothing a long weekend of scrubbing and detailing wouldn't fix, but help it needed.  I can do that.  I even like doing that.  Hope springs eternal.

The owner had a folder of paperwork for the bike with all kinds of receipts.  That's not unusual for used BMWs, they seem to attract owners who like to keep records.  German thing, I guess.  "Yör paperz muzt be in order!" 

Turned out that the present owner wasn't the one who'd rolled up the 57k on the bike, that was the previous owner of a year or so back.  The bike had been sitting for nearly a year now.  So I looked through the records and something was odd, the bike had a service and minor repairs totaling almost $3000 when it had just 54k miles on it.  No old Beemer at 54k should need that much routine service work and bits & pieces replaced unless it's been ridden very hard.  Hmm. 

image source
I hopped on the bike to take it for a little spin and it was a nice enough ride, just like a remembered my '92 R100RT having.  The old BMWs are amazingly light compared to modern 1000cc bikes and I like that a lot.  Riding up the street I glanced down and saw low on the right inside of the fairing, a plaque...A BMW mileage award plaque for 100,000 miles.  BMW presents those to owners of bikes who can document 100,000 miles of their very own butt-on-seat time on a specific BMW.  Ah...  I don't always catch on quick but I catch on eventually, especially with the evidence staring me right in the face.

Back at the house the owner seemed to know nothing of the plaque or what it meant.  I explained that in all likelihood the bike had 157,000 miles on it, not 57,000.  That would also explain why it needed so much maintenance at 54,000 miles.

I thanked the person for their time and we left.  I was both discouraged and oddly relieved. After we got in the car the Mrs. said simply "How did you know it was a beater before we even pulled to a stop in front of the house?"   "I dunno" I replied.  I had to think about that one for a minute.  What detail could you really see from a moving vehicle a 100+ feet from a bike?  "I guess you can just tell. Something about the aluminum engine parts, the paint doesn't look quite right, the black parts aren't black enough.  It just doesn't look well cared for even from a distance.  I guess I've looked at enough beater bikes over the years to know one now even at a distance."

I'll keep looking for the cream puff or at least looking for a diamond in the rough.  Back to Craig's List.

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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