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

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Letting It Go

Over at Nigel Benson's blog, A Dented Mind And A Harley-Davidson, he writes about dropping his new-to-him Triumph Sprint.  Nigel is recovering from a traumatic head injury and despite his situation and desire to use a motorcycle to gain some peace, the universe showed him no mercy and he tipped over his Triumph.   I commented to  Nigel not to sweat it, it happens to every rider at one time or another.

It got me to thinking about the whole matter of tipping over your own bike.  Not crashing it, but having it get away from you when moving it around the garage, driveway, or a parking space.  The reality is that if you ride motorcycles for very long you're going to drop your bike for one dumb reason or another.  They are heavy and awkward and do not have to get too far from vertical when stopped for them to flop over.  This is especially true for the really big machines like my new Gold Wing.  When 900lbs starts to keel over it's best to step away and plan your next move because the current one the bike will complete with or without you.

Oh yeah, it was fine in '79
Way back about 1979 or so I was traveling 2-up through the back roads of San Joaquin valley of California and stopped by the side of straight road in the middle of nowhere to check my map.  I'd have used my GPS but they had not been invented yet.  As I stood there unfolding the map my decked out Suzuki 850 proceed to start to fall AWAY from me and into a turgid field irrigation canal that paralleled the road.   It couldn't just fall towards me and merely crush me, oh no, it had to try and destroy itself.  I lunged for the porky Suzuki and made a herculean effort to keep it from tumbling into a muddy farm canal.  Success!  Sort of.

I did save the 850 from a green slime bath but in the process severely wrenched my back.  It was late in the afternoon and I was still 150 miles from home.  I managed to get on the bike and could lift my arms just high enough to take hold of the handlebars.  And it hurt. A lot.  I gritted my teeth and started for home.  It was a very, very long 150 miles.  Stopping for gas had me wincing just to get on and off the bike.

Arriving home I put the bike away and called my friend Terry who was a chiropractor.  "Terry!  Halp!!"  He was kind enough to let me come to his house at 9:00 at night for a quick chiropractic fix up which would become the first of several normal visits to his office over the next several weeks to put Humpty Dumpty together again.

Back about '04 my Aprilia Caponord got tired and took a rest in front of a roadside chapel near Amado, AZ.  Combine the 500lb weight of the Capo with damp ground and stuff happens.  The Caponord is a rather top heavy machine when stopped and has a propensity for tipping over, The first owner of mine had tipped over it in a gas station once, pinning him against a gas pump.  He had to be rescued by other customers at the station.

A few years ago my friend Jim was pulling into a parking lot, 2-up, on his new-to-him Yamaha Venture Royale.  A little bobble at a stop sign and over it went dumping he and his wife unharmed on the ground.  He was mad and embarrassed as I helped him pick up his machine.  There may have been some bad language on his part.   I reminded him that it happens to everyone eventually.   About two weeks later I rolled my '02 Gold Wing out of the garage, got myself into an awkward position with the 850lb beast, and over it went right there in my own driveway.  Sitting next door in his own driveway Jim shouted to me "Hey, you were right!"

The only real takeaway from all this is 1. You will drop your bike eventually.  2.  Don't fight it unless you must.   Even a small bike is heavier than you are and the combo of hundreds of pounds of dead wait and bad angles can hurt you bad.  Let it go.

A small addendum, three excellent videos on how to pick up a heavy motorcycle:

and for those who don't ride a land yacht:

and the reality of it all:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Some Thoughts On The New Indian Motorcycles

2014 Indian Motorcycles.   Image via Indian Motorcycles
The new Indian is out, this time built by Polaris Industries who have also built the Victory Motorcycle line for about fifteen years now.  With real money and engineering behind it, Indian Motorcycles, one of the most iconic brands in motorcycling, finally has a chance at real revival and despite my thoughts below, I wish them well.

There is much talk around the moto-net about the new Indian and what it is an isn't.  Some of the comments are downright hilarious and by hilarious I mean stupid.   One commenter couldn't imagine anyone preferring the Indian to a Harley and another called Polaris "a snowmobile company trying to build a motorcycle" -- as if fifteen years experience and success with the Victory Motorcycle brand taught them nothing. 

I thought it would be interesting to look at Indians over the last "generations" beginning with my friend Don's for real Indian Chief.

The Real Deal. 1946 Indian Chief

(Note: After Indian closed in 1953 they were "revived" in the form of machines using Royal Enfield motorcycle engines along with assorted other brands.  I have not included a picture of those "Chiefs" here so as to avoid damaging anyone's eyesight.)

Complete with a cloned Harley motor, a Gilroy built Indian Chief of about 2000-03

Built in North Carolina by Stellican, the 2012 Indian. I saw the Stellican Indian a time or two and in person they were beautiful with excellent fit and finish.  But with their $35,000 price tag few were seen outside of dealer showrooms.  image:

2014 Indian built by Polaris.  Starting at $19,000 mere mortals may be able to afford them.
Image via Indian Motorcycles

and just for fun:

The 1999 Kawasaki Drifter 1500.  Img:

I had a 1999 Drifter so I might be biased but I think Kawasaki's homage to the Chief came closer than the others over all to the "feel" of the old Indians even if it is absolutely a Kawasaki.  The Stellican Indian was a nice looking machine, closer in pleasing proportions to the original than the others.   But none of the modern Indian versions have the historic jauntiness of the original Chief.  Don made a comment about the spring seat and the empty space below it giving a more distinctive look to the original bike.   I think that makes sense and Kawasaki at least took a shot at it with their design.  

To me all the modern editions of the classic Chief have too much of everything while the original machine is three distinct elements, the front fender, engine, and rear fender.   The engine and fenders should have been the star attractions as with the old Chief.  Instead, the chromework seems garrish, the bodywork under the seat too fat, and the fuel tank too small in proportion to the rest of the machine.  All those detract from the original's classic design elements.

I do understand that modern designers and engineers have to deal with realities the original Chief designers never did, things like emission controls, complex fuel injection, an elaborate electrical system with it's bigger battery, etc.  Still, it seems like they could have gotten closer than they did with the look.  Sometimes less is more.  The modern generation of the Chief looks nice but too much as if it might have been styled by Honda or Yamaha and that puts me off a bit.

I do have this idea that it would be fun to buy an Indian for my 65th birthday in three years.  Give them time to refine it a bit, maybe a make a cleaner version.  Could happen.  I've wanted to own an Indian for a long time.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Stealing Steve McQueen

Way back in 2005 I did a post entitled Instamatic Memories.  It had to do with seeing Steve McQueen at the Elsinore Grand Prix long about 1971, the same year Bruce Brown filmed it for his movie "On Any Sunday."  I illustrated my blog entry with a couple of pictures I snapped of McQueen with my little Kodak Instamatic Camera way back then.  Admittedly, most of my photos then or now are not high art but they are mine and they are protected by US copyright laws.  In the case of the Steve McQueen shots I have gone to the trouble to pay the money to fully register them with the US Copyright Office.

Being naive I didn't think too much about copyright stuff when I began 40on2 nor when I posted the McQueen pics, but down the road when Google Images search came on-line I began to poke around and see who might be stealing photos from my blog.  My photos, however modest, have value to me if not anyone else.

Well, lo and behold in 2011 I found my pictures of Steve McQueen used on a commercial web site in England and more recently on site in France.  Not only were they on the sites but my name, "photo by Doug Klassen" had been cropped of one photo and on the French site, PhotoShopped out.   Not nice.   Also illegal.   Apart from that I've also found whole pages from my blog re-posted elsewhere, interestingly, also in the U.K.  Those I got removed with a single e-mail.

I contacted the offending Brit site using my McQueen pic and asked that my photo be removed.  They blustered a bit, said they thought they had a right to use it, blah, blah, blah, but would take it down one of these days.   Eighteen months went by and the photo was still up.  What to do?  Well, I did a bit of research and next wrote not to the website but to the hosting company for their site.  Hosting sites / Internet Service Providers seem to take piracy and copyright matters more seriously than many websites do.    I explained to the hosting company that the photo in question was mine, had in fact been registered with the US Copyright Office, and I provided the copyright registration number for the photo.  I politely asked their assistance in having the photo removed.

Two days later I received and e-mail from the owner of the offending website asking why I'd not contacted them first, "before going to our hosting company??"   I replied that I contacted them on two occasions and I provide them the dates for the e-mails we'd exchanged 18 months earlier.  They had not removed my photos and so I took the next step.   A day after that I got another e-mail offering to pay me for the use of the photo.   Glad to do it (with limitations).  They sent the money to my PayPal account, I acknowledged it, case closed.

The McQueen pictures also reside on a French motoring site and thus far they've not bothered to respond at all to my e-mail.  I'm sure it doesn't help that their site is in French and my knowledge of French is limited to eating French fries and making out at drive-in movies in 1969.  However, they could certainly run my e-mail, which which had as it's subject "Notice of Copyright Infringement" through Google Translate.  My next step with them since they apparently own their own servers so there is no ISP to contact, will be to contact Google and ask that the content be removed from Google searches.  We'll see how that goes.

Had those sites been someone's private, non-commercial blogs (like this one) I'd have probably written and asked that they either give me photo credit and a link or take the photos down.  But the English site and French site are commercial sites out to make money and they have no right to make money off of me or anyone else without proper permission.

In reality there's not much else a small fish like me can do in the big ocean of the global Internet where stealing pictures is the norm.    The McQueen pics are out there in unmarked form and likely will be spread around over time even if they are rather tepid pics.   If I were rich I'd have lawyers sending nasty letters to people but I'm pretty well un-rich.  And one could say "What's the diff?  It's just an old picture."   But for me the issue isn't about money it's about courtesy and doing things the right way.  Without asking they took something that belonged to me and commercial publishing sites most of all know better than to do that.  

If you're not sure about using pictures found on the Internet, what might be copyrighted and what might not be, here's a nice article on the photography site PetaPixel that is worth reading.  Simple and free of legalese, it's worth a few minutes of your time if you routinely use photos other than your own on your blog or website:   10 Bogus Excuses People Use When They Steal Photos from the Web

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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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