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

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Buying Swiftly

A few of blog entries back I wrote about selling my Kawasaki 1600 Nomad without really thinking it through the immediate ramifications of selling the bike.  I tend to be a little impulsive about selling my bikes and usually less impulsive about buying them.   So the big Kaw left just two days before my buddy Keith was due to arrive from California with his Honda VFR 750 and expecting us to go riding together after talking about it for 30+ years.

While I was waiting a few days for the deal to go through on the Kaw I scanned Craig's List with a hurried but eagle eye for just the right bike to snap up at just the right price on the day after I had cash in hand for the Nomad.  Normally I might spend a week or three browsing, e-mailing sellers, and looking at bikes in person, but plans had been made and I didn't want to disappoint my old friend by delaying the long planned trip.   Browsing bikes for sale on Craig's List is great fun, I even do it when I'm not shopping for another bike.  It's like looking at pretty girls except that you know you stand some chance with the bikes.   Here's some of the bikes that came into serious consideration:

I had a Kawasaki 1500 Drifter back in 1999 when they came out and it's on my list of all time favorite bikes.  This one looked promising but memories of lousy storage possibilities and worrying about patching tubed tires on the highway steered me away from my old favorite.

A Kawasaki ZRX1200 seemed like it would be fun and my old VW colleague Jac would like me even more.  But I suspected that while ZRX might prove plenty fast, the bike might otherwise not offer the panache that I was also seeking.

A Suzuki VStrom 1000 appealed because my brother had one and loved it, both sizes of the VStrom enjoy a great reputation for performance and longevity, but the 30k on the odometer still concerned me a little.  I'd rather have had it's classmate, the Aprilia Caponord, but I couldn't find one at a price I could afford or within a reasonable distance.

The object of my perennial moto-lust, the 2006 Triumph Scrambler, was located over in California.  Clean, unmolested Scramblers are not that easy to find unless you're willing to travel.  The miles were low, the pictures the owner sent showed the bike to be in great shape, the color was red and I like red bikes, and best of all, Keith could stop on the way over to AZ, put the bike on the trailer with his VFR, and bring it with him.
Sadly, as the deal heated up, the owner finally told me he didn't have the title in hand, it was with a credit union.  Ack!  No, I wasn't going to give him cash, take the bike, and then wait for some credit union to mail me the title after the seller paid off his loan.   I did a deal that way once with a friend and the bike sat in my garage, un-titleable for two months because of a credit union screw up.

yes, those are the real pictures from the ad

One ad for a Harley caught my eye again and again, apparently it came with options I'd not thought of looking for.  Who wouldn't like an extra set of jugs for their bike?

I bought a new Harley back in '86 and enjoyed the bike a lot and I've never discounted the possibility of getting another one.  I could be part of the gang again and dig out all my old black t-shirts, maybe become a 60 year old  prospect for a club. 

The Ducati Multistrada, another cousin to the VStrom and the Caponord, had the exotic appeal of all Italian bikes.  I pondered it long and hard and worried that I wasn't up to the exotic shop prices for Ducati service and repair work.

And so it went, bike after bike looked at and the the possibilities discarded based on a clue in the pictures or an e-mail from the seller.  But the batch above made the final consideration for one reason or another, none of which were necessarily logical.  

Oh, there was a 2001 Kawasaki Concours that I liked and it had lots of farkles but the pictures in the ad were all upside down and it seemed like too much of an omen or at least and indication that seller might not be into paying attention to his bike.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Honda VFR At Sunset

Dumb luck meets a little knowledge.  My buddy Keith arrived last Wednesday and we've been wandering about a bit on our bikes.  We stopped at Coolidge Airport at sunset on the off chance there might be an interesting vintage plane or two still sitting out.  Keith parked his '95 Honda VFR 750 and walked over to look at the old wooden hanger, one of the last of it's kind in the US, a relic now of WWII airfields.  Coolidge Airport was a transit field during the war and old photos show B17 bombers, P51 Mustangs, and other great planes of that era filling the field as they made their way east and on to the European theater of war. 

I happened to "see the shot" of the VFR when Keith parked his bike, red bikes and sunset are always a winning combo, the light was just right, I had a 20mm f1.7 prime lens on the Olympus E-PL1,  and managed to not to shake too much for the 1/10th of a second shutter speed. The shot is actually a little soft from a bit of shake but I think the softness works with the light.

The light changes very quickly once the sun is on the horizon, a minute or two later it was effectively dark so my photo of the old hanger has quite a different look to it as the camera struggled with the white balance from the fading sunlight mixed with the artificial lighting on the hanger.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Casa Grande Motorcycle Swap Meet 2011

Why do people put OBO?  Why not just say
how much you really want for it?
 Sunday was my third time visit to the Casa Grande motorcycle swap meet and it was definitely worth the $5 to get in.  The turn out in vendors and people was smaller this year and there seemed to be more junk and fewer bikes, maybe a sign of the weak economy which is even weaker in Arizona.   From a browser's standpoint it was thin pickin's.

I'd thought to refill my threadbare wardrobe of motorcycle t-shirts but couldn't even find a proper Bultaco t-shirt worth buying.  The event is predominately a Harley thing and but in the past there's been a smattering of Brit bikes to add some interest.  Even a Norton t-shirt would have been welcome.  There was a booth this year for BMW adventure rentals and it seemed a little out of place.   

I didn't even take that many pictures but here's some shots of the high points.

One man's treasure
While I tend to focus on the cool bike stuff there might be to look at, meeting and talking to the people is still half the fun.  A lifetime around bikes has taught me that I'd rather be around scruffy motorcycle people any day than people wearing suits and ties.   I was snapping photos of some stuff in one booth (not the one above) when one of the young guys hollered "$5 for a photo!"  I looked up from the camera and said "Of you? You gonna take your clothes off?  I can sell the picture for more money if you take your clothes off."  His looked flustered, taken aback; his buddies busted up laughing while he mumbled something about meaning for the bike part picture.

I forgot to ask the year and model on this knucklehead.  Perhaps one of you H-D riders will know and I'll add a proper caption.

Same H-D, different view and in black & white.

I like to imagine the story behind some of the bikes and parts.  I'm guessing this story didn't have a happy ending.  A big grind moving forward, then a quick 90° as the bike went further over.

An H-D saddle bag has given it's all.

Accessories on a well worn Kawasaki 1500 Drifter

Bikes in the parking lot were as interesting as anything in the swap meet. Here's a Kawasaki who's owner has a sense of humor.

The '70s era choppers seem to be starting a small revival.  The perverse part of me thinks that looks like a fun ride but not for very far.

Speaking of rides, I've solved the "replacement bike" problem I created for myself.  No, it's not a chopper, not a Harley, not a bobber, not a cafe racer, not a Gold Wing or Italian bike, and not a Brit bike (although I tried to make that last one happen to no avail).  More to come as soon as I have proper pictures.

Monday, October 10, 2011

I Got High At The Motorcycle Swap Meet

So I'm walking through the annual motorcycle swap meet here in our little town and I'm taking pictures, browsing the junk, and generally enjoying the day. As I walked past a large ladder jutting into the sky from one of the vendor booths I here someone say "Hey Bultaco man, you wanna climb the ladder?"  As I was pretty much the only one around wearing a red Bultaco hat as opposed to the usual H-D doo rag or Viet Nam vet hat everyone else seemed to be wearing I figured it was me that was being called out.  I looked at the ladder then at the guy next to it. He was selling a device called MonkeyRack or some such thing, it allows you to cantilever a large extension ladder off of the back of a truck or utility vehicle. "Why would I climb that" I said eying the 20ft extension ladder poking the sky. "You could get some good photos from up there!" said the fellow.

"Now you're talking" I replied. So I secured my two cameras a little better, crawled up into the bed of the pick up truck and prepared to head skyward on the ladder of death. "It's gonna sway a little" he said. He wasn't kidding but what the heck, the worst that could happen was that I'd plunge to my death at a motorcycle event and there are worse ways to die. Besides, the roll away tool chest in the back of his truck would probably break my fall. So I grabbed onto the ladder and started up, careful to place hands and feet firmly and not look about too much.

I suspect the sales guy thought I might give up part way when he said "If you get to the top, ring the bell." No problem, the swaying ladder rang the bell all the way up. He probably didn't suspect that the dumpy old guy with the cameras was also a former hang glider pilot who's flown places like Glacier Point in Yosemite.  I'm not especially afraid of heights as long as I've got decent equipment. I thought the ladder thing looked decent, it was painted red and hooked to a truck, that seemed like a good sign. Firemen do this stuff all the time, right?

Half way up I stopped to adjust my Nikon so it didn't clunk the ladder. I heard someone below me say "More balls than brains." He might be right, I have a crazy streak and it's not as wide as it once was but it's still there.

So I got to the top, got an arm securely around the ladder and shot a few pictures of the event. 20ft down below the swaying ladder I could see a few people looking up, no doubt hoping the guy on the ladder would plunge to his death and they could tell their friends about the cool thing they saw at the swap meet.

I half expected a crowd to gather and begin yelling "Jump! Jump! Jump!"

The blue tent is the Hells Angels booth. You'd think it would be red and white.
After I got a few shots with the camera the swaying of the ladder became a bit of a concern -- thoughts of buckled aluminum danced in my head -- so I headed back down. I thanked the fellow for the nice photo op and showed him the pictures on the camera's display screen. He seemed pleased.

Anyway, it was fun stuff and livened up an otherwise rather dull event. More pics of bikes and such to come.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Acting Impulsively

I did it again.  With little thinking involved (and I'm usually much better about that) I stuck an ad on Craig's List for my 1600 Kawasaki two or three weeks ago.  I'd sorta kinda been thinking about moving the bike along since I wasn't really in love with it.  Nice bike, very nice, but something was lacking.  I put 2000 miles on it though.  So with too little cogitation involved I placed an ad with a couple of pictures.  Made very little effort to write something wonderful or even use a nice selection of pictures and link to more as I usually do.  Minimal selling effort involve.  No trades, no checks, bring cash, take bike.  And I priced the bike Kaw at $500 more than I paid for it.  Maybe something will happen, maybe not.  Whatever.

Naturally the ad got an immediate reply from a scam artist which was duly deleted.  A couple of weeks went by and I'd practically forgotten about the ad.   Then I got an e-mail from someone who seemed pretty interested.  Wanted to come look at it at 9:30 the next morning.  Drat, that means getting up early.  Blah.  Okay, fine.   I promised myself I wouldn't negotiate on the price, if the bike was going to go it would go for the asking price or stay in my garage; I sorta kinda decided that I didn't really want to sell it anyway.   So the buyer came out, loved the bike, didn't test ride it, never even made me a lower price offer.  After the usual paperwork mumbo jumbo the bike rolled off with it's new owner and left me feeling somewhat regretful for a change.  Hmm...  Not sure that was the thing to do.  I'd just painted myself into a corner motorcyclely speaking (I made up that word).

My old friend Keith, over in California, and I have talked about taking a ride together for over thirty years now but have never done it, mostly because Keith didn't have a bike.  In a fit of familial responsibility he'd sold his last bike, a 750 Norton, back in the '70s.

Then all these years later Keith went mad (with some prompting from me) and bought himself a '95 Honda VFR 750, not exactly the typical re-entry bike for a rider returning to the sport at the age of 65, but buy it he did and ride he is and having a grand time.  He says it's quite a bit faster, more comfortable, and with better brakes than his 1970 Norton.  Uh, yeah.  He's a bit like a Rip Van Winkle awaking to find that the world has changed in forty years.  Fortunately he's a cautious, methodical guy and has done well easing back into riding.

After endless phone calls and discussions of bikes Keith and I made plans to actually go for a ride together after all these years, we'll ride some local stuff here in Arizona and maybe up north to visit my friend Dean at his bunkhouse.  So Keith will be here from California this coming Wednesday with his VFR and I don't seem to have a bike at the moment.  I gotta move fast.  Stay tuned.

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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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