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

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Winging It Again

Park Link Road, north of Tucson, AZ.  The view over the windscreen
Decisions, decisions.  I've sat here for weeks now pondering what machine would fill the void in the garage and in the part of my imagination devoted to motorcycle riding.  I pondered a lot of bikes  but I was very much leaning towards another Wing,  I've always missed the '02 that I had.  I visited several dealers and sat on this bike and that, a Moto Guzzi, a Triumph Scrambler, a Kaw 1600 Nomad, a BMW R1200RT, a K1300LT, and pretty much anything else that seemed plausible to me.  I even thought about just buying another used KLR650 to keep myself amused and then that sent me down the imagination trail of dual sporting, something I've done in days gone by and still sometimes miss.  But essentially I ride alone so dual sporting would mean finding someone to ride with or joining a dual sport club and I was not so inclined.  I'm pretty much not a joiner.

Dale, up in Washington at at Empire Cycle, and a regular 40on2 reader, wrote and suggested the new Triumph Trophy 1200 SE.  He even offered me an excellent deal.  A quick check showed the Triumph to be a very viable candidate and I seriously considered to doing a fly & ride up to see Dale and his dad (who is my old racing buddy Steve) and buy the Triumph.  The new Triumph looks amazing and has a ton of nifty features including traction control, and for a good chunk less than the comparable BMW R1200RT.   Very tempting.
image: Triumph Motorcycles

So I set out to see the Triumph in person and swing a leg over it here in AZ.  No way I was going to fly to Spokane, Washington without at least "showrooming" the bike down here.  Turns out the Trophy is popular in these parts, the dealers get them in and they go right out with their new owner.  No chance to even sit on one and less chance of a nice discount like Dale offered me.   But while visiting GoAZ Motorcycles up in Scottsdale, the sales guy mentioned that they had an '05 Gold Wing in stock, a 30th Anniversary Edition with just 15,000 miles on it.  For a Gold Wing, 15k is hardly even broken in.

 I was still thinking "Triumph" so I didn't even bother to look at the Wing or check the price.  Back at home, I sat and pondered what to do.  Long ago someone told me when you are not sure what bike you want, close your eyes, imagine yourself on the best day ever riding down the road, birds singing in the trees, sun shining, meadows and mountains rolling by, no traffic.  Now look down.  What bike are you riding?   I realized that when thinking about riding I nearly always reverted to the big Gold Wing I'd had and it's plush ride and amazing 6 cylinder engine.

So I looked at the GoAZ web site and there was the '05 Wing in all it's snow white glory.  Wow...white...lots of white...not my favorite color for a bike but better than black for keeping clean and staying cool here in Arizona.   I e-mailed the sales guy, he e-mailed back a price.  I wrote back and said, assuming the bike passed muster in person, I'd buy it out the door for their asking price -- no tax, license, or phony doc fees added on, they'd have to take those out of their profit.   Another e-mail or two and the bike was mine at my price.

I might have gotten it a little cheaper but I do feel like dealers deserve to make a profit, otherwise they go out of business and what good is that?  All in all, while not an ideal experience, I enjoyed doing business with GoAZ Motorcycles.  Their store is huge and carries a wide variety of brands.  More importantly, every person I talked to there actually rides motorcycles, it's not just flaky car operation masquerading as a bike shop.

As for the bike, it came with an Kuryakan back rest that I knew I'd hate before I even finished the test ride.  I've tried back rests on bikes three times now and disliked them every time.  It's for sale if anyone needs one.  And there was a cup holder on the bike and it was big enough to hold a 32oz mug and ugly enough to look at home on a farm tractor.  It's been removed also.

So today I headed out for short ride, 125 miles over and around.  It was only 88° at 8:00 AM outside so the heat wasn't especially unpleasant although it was headed that way by the time I got home at 10:30 AM.  The big Wing rides just like a I remembered they do, a magic carpet of a motorcycle that is polished, poised, and comfortable enough to make 500 mile days a piece of cake.

I'm not sure how much riding I'll be doing over the next month or two, it's still plenty hot and unless I get up early and head for the hills and make it a 12 hour riding day, there won't be much chance for a casual ride.  I'll endure as best as I can and when Fall gets here I'll grab the Nikon and be out and about like I have not been for a two or three years.

I've been riding 47 years now and heading for 50 years in style.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

CrashLight For Your Smart Phone

Back in January of 2012 I blogged about a crash notification app called CRADAR.   Short and sweet:  If you crash your bike, CRADAR sends a text message and your GPS coordinates to someone you pre-select.   Now, the Toronto, Canada based motorcycle news and social site EatSleepRide has, with some expert scientific help, put together an improved crash reporting app called CrashLight.  CrashLight has the very significant advantage of texting up to three people and will do it in any country where your phone can access the local SMS service.

I don't too often do plugs for products (no one ever offers me anything that cool) but these days leveraging the power of the now ubiquitous smart phone to keep us a little safer when we ride is too important to not mention here.  CrashLight isn't a standalone app but is contained within EasSleepRide mobile app for their site.  Right now it's available on for iPhones and iPads and is an in-app purchase of $7.95. 

From the EatSleepRide press facts sheet:

"EatSleepRIDE Mobile is the only smartphone-based technology to offer CRASHLIGHT®, an advanced in-app purchase that automatically detects a motorcycle accident and sends alerts for help (including the rider’s geo-location) via phone, text message and voicemail.

EatSleepRIDE Motorcycles® App can be described as On-Star for motorcycle riders. CrashLight® will automatically detect a motorcycle accident and notify selected contacts of the rider’s exact geo-location. The rider has complete control of their safety team in case they go down while riding alone.

EatSleepRIDE Motorcycles App is specifically designed for motorcycle riders. You get motorcycle crash detection, and the ability to search motorcycle roads nearby and find new riders in your area – all in one app!

EatSleepRIDE is about making motorcycling safer, more accessible and way more fun for new and experienced riders. Its mission is to get more people riding more motorcycles more often by providing the tools to help them ride safely and share their experiences."

EatSleepRide is doing a contest right now and they are giving away a free download of the app to people who share/tweet a link to their site. If you're a Twitter user you can    or if you're a blogger you post a link on your blog telling your readers to do the same.  Me?  I use an Android phone so there's no freebie in this for me but I think this kind of stuff is important.  And since I can't try CrashLight myself I can't comment on it's functionality but I can recommend that you give it a look.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Time Draweth Nigh

I sold my V-Strom back in January, bought the Nikon D600, and have been humming right along bikeless but for the old junk Bultaco in the backyard.  But as you might guess, bike fever is starting to take hold.  Here in the depths of summer confinement I can see just over the horizon the beginning of Fall riding season here in Arizona where the riding season is backwards from the rest of America.

So the big debate between my head, my heart, and my pocketbook begins for the 47th time in my 47 years of riding: What bike should I buy?

Monday, July 08, 2013

Motorcycle Movies You Should See

With the exception of The Great Escape, don't see any of the above
 Over on a motorcycle news site (which I won't link to because they don't link to me), I got into a bit of a comment section contestation  over motorcycle movies.   Not a big deal, no knives were pulled or bottles broken on the edge of the bar although as usual certain keyboard commandos were quick to attack me for questioning the apparent conclusions drawn by the author of the piece.  I am amazed at how quickly people are always willing to attack a person rather than their ideas but that seems to be the way of public discussion these days.

I decided the thing to do was to make my own list of motorcycle movies you should see if you have not seen them, and if you have seen them, suggest you see them again.  The list isn't long or definitive and and I've excluded some well known movies because merely having a motorcycle featured in some way doesn't mean it's a motorcycle movie.  They are not in any order of quality or greatness or social importance apart from the first two, no point in starting yet another flame war.

The Wild One

Although the movie seems corny to modern audiences, the dialog stilted, and the situations seem contrived, you have to put the movie in context.  There simply wasn't anything quite like it in the movie theaters of 1950 and it followed on the heels of a lurid, half-truth article in Life Magazine about a bunch of "straight-pipers" and the Hollister Riot.   The magazine and the movie reached millions of decent, upstanding 1950s folks and set the tone for how reactions and the image of motorcycle riders would be for decades to come.  Much of what we see in black leather jacket bike culture today grew out of a Look Magazine article and the movie The Wild One.  One of my favorite scenes:

 On Any Sunday

I am always surprised when motorcycle enthusiasts tell me they've never seen this movie.  On Any Sunday was made by Bruce Brown with the help of Steve McQueen and it's a look at how motorcycling, especially racing, was in 1970-71.  It's simple, direct, honest, and accurate.  I know, I was there.  Literally.   No movie before or since has ever done a better job of portraying the wider sport of motorcycling in a positive, balanced way; On Any Sunday makes you want to take up motorcycling as a hobby, not run from it.  To me it is the best motorcycle movie ever made.


Faster is about MotoGP racing, it's speed, complexity, rivalries, and danger.  The video quality is a bit lacking and it's very similar to "The Doctor, The Tornado, And The Kentucky Kid" and also Fastest.   All three are worth viewing and might get you started down the road of being a MotoGP fan as long as you stay away from the SpeedTV coverage of the races.   I still subscribe each year to the live MotoGP feed because the racing is so very much better than the butchered coverage SpeedTV shows.

 Hells Angels '69

It's a stupid movie but everyone should see at least one of the '60s biker flicks just for fun.  Some years ago a local station got in a rut and ran old biker flicks every Saturday night for weeks so I watched them all.  I picked this one to suggest -- "recommend" is too strong and implies quality -- but they are all equally awful. The actual fun part of watching these old films is looking at the bikes ridden, the variety of brands used by the bad guys and the good guys.   Some bikes are quite unusual.  In one film, the hero of the film, the guy running from the biker gang, was riding a Rickman Matisse enduro.  Nice!   Watch for standard characters in all this genre of movies like the biker chick with a heart, the religious character, and who will be the one to die.  One of each in every movie.  Also listen for the sound of motorcycle tires squealing on dirt roads, always a nice touch of authenticity.

One Week

One Week is a little known Canadian movie about a fellow who sets out on a trip across Canada much to the dismay of his family and fiancée.   The movie is a bit slow paced (hey, it's Canadian), a trifle odd, but intriguing.  No blood, no guts, no wild bar fights, hardly even any sex, but One Week is a movie that makes you think about what's important to you and what isn't and even challenges you to make a choice.  I've watched it twice on Netflix.


Wild Hogs

What? "Wild Hogs??"  Dumb movie.  Silly.  I only watched it because friends invited me over to see it and there was free pizza involved.  But if you look close and you know motorcycling and bike movie history you'll see that someone was paying attention when they made the movie, so there are little golden moments for the real bike enthusiast, like the one end when the legendary head of the biker gang shows up and gives advice to the Wild Hogs.  I confess I actually enjoyed the movie and I certainly had not expected to do so.

World's Fastest Indian

Based on the true life adventures of legendary land speed racer Burt Munro, the movie celebrates what is good about the spirit of motorcycling.   Munro truly is a legend in the land speed racing world, so much so that if you announce that you intend to break one of his records, now considered "sacred" by other racers, many say they will refuse to help you should you need help.   Also, find some pictures of the real Indian Munro rode to 190+ miles per hour at the Bonneville Salt Flats.  Holy cow but he was nutz, what an accident waiting to happen!  Do this too: Buy the DVD for the movie and after you watch the movie, look in the menus for the director's original documentary about Munro.  It's better than the movie and you'll see how the dramatic movie is definitely from real life.  Good stuff!  Sir Anthony Hopkins, who plays Munro in the movie, said once that of all his movie roles, the character of Burt Munro was his favorite.

 Dust To Glory

Dust to Glory covers the running of the 2003 Baja 1000 off road race and gives a look inside the world of two and four wheel off-road racing.   Seeing the then-and-now footage of guys like J.N. Roberts and Malcolm Smith is great fun (see them in OAS circa 1971).   Guys like Smith and Roberts were super fast when they were young and I'd be most of those old guys...the ones still with us...are now only really fast. 
My original 2005 review of Dust To Glory is here.

Any of the Duke Videos about the Isle of Man TT race

The Isle of Man TT race has been going on for over 100 years now.  It crazy dangerous, 37 miles of twisting public roads ridden absurdly fast.  The POV shots from the race bikes lapping at an average of 130+ mph are mesmerizing.  A few years ago 9 times World Champion Valentino Rossi visited the race and when asked if he'd want to compete he just laughed and pronounced it too dangerous.  Too dangerous for a man who regularly races at speeds up to 210 mph.  Duke Video does a fine job of covering the event each year.  Buy the latest edition, grab something to drink, and imagine yourself riding even half that well.

Then Came Bronson (TV movie)

Then Came Bronson was a TV series from 1969-70.  The pilot was a made-for-TV movie by the same title.  The story revolved around "Jim Bronson," a newspaper reporter who finds life is offering more questions than answers so he quits his job and sets off from San Francisco on his Harley Sportster to see America and sort things out.  The laconic character of Jim Bronson was played by Michael Parks and is based on the real life person of Birney Jarvis.    Birney Jarvis was a reporter, a Hells Angel, a blue water sailor, boxer, and general larger than life character.  The adventures of Jim Bronson were in keeping with Birney's life.   More importantly, Then Came Bronson was probably the first movie or TV series to portray motorcycling in a reasonable light and Bronson's wanderings and philosophical bent motivated lots of young men to see the Harley Sportster oe motorcycles in general as a ticket to freedom.

Now, friends, there are lots and lots of other motorcycle movies out there, some good, most lousy.  Goodness knows that biker movies are a dime a dozen and most are not worth even their share of the dime.  The common thread is bad acting and a music sound track intended to be radical but that often sounds like a garage band demo tape.  There are other motorcycle racing films out there, too.   On Any Sunday II is floating around but it's just crap, a pale imitation of it's namesake.   Most racing themed flicks seem clumsy with fake action scenes but can be fun because they are about motorcycles, more or less.

And there are dramatic films that more or less feature motorcycles but frankly, put me off.  I never saw Motorcycle Diaries because Che Guevara was a murderous thug who doesn't deserve to be remembered well in any sense, and I never saw Electra-Glide in Blue because, frankly, the movie just didn't appeal to me.  The poster shot of the dead cop sitting in the road might have something to do with that.   I saw Easy Rider when it came out several hundred years ago now, and have never understood the cult following of the movie.  Silly losers do drugs, ride around, and finally get shot. It's 60s philosophical pretentiousness with motorcycles added.  If you can watch Easy Rider for free I suppose it's worth the time but no more so than Chopper Chicks In Zombie Town could be.

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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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