Monday, August 31, 2009

Indian Motorcycles Offers Cash for Clunkers


Not that I'm trying to throw cold water on these nice folks from North Carolina...

At least this attempt at resurrecting the Indian moniker includes a proprietary engine...

But the $3K trade-in amounts to a 10% dent in the $30K MSRP for these bikes. I guess it's nothing to sneeze at, but $27K for what appears to be more or less a Harley-clone with valanced fenders seems high to me. (In fairness, $27K for any 2 wheel vehicle seems high to me.) If I were (the new) Indian motorcycle company, I would focus on making a modern version of the inline 4 engine used in the 1928-43 models (1940 Indian Four). Such a bike would stand out as something truly different among the cruiser crowd.

Good luck Indian.

Indian Motorcycles Offers Cash for Clunkers: "Indian Motorcycles has its own version of the Cash for Clunkers program, offering a $3,000 trade-in toward the purchase of a 2009 Indian Chief."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The future of motorcycling approaches?

Check it out:

Electric motorcycles. To be, or not to be. That is the question.

Have hybrid and soon all electric cars made electric motorcycles inevitable? Electric bike makers have, I believe, a bigger challenge than auto makers.

First, most motorcyclists are performance concious. 30 mph for 2 hours sounds too much like a kids toy. The bike in the link above is being built by a fomer Tesla engineer. Tesla Motorcars is making waves in the auto industry with it's $100k high perforfance, all electric coupe that is said to have exhilarating acceleration and practical range.

Second, motorcyclists are style concious. An electric bike that looks more at home with a kid's Hotwheels collection is going to have little mass market appeal. The bike above is too way out in some futuristic style to appeal to a wide riding audience. Why can't electric bikes look more like standards or cruisers or even touring bikes?

So, what will a successful electric motorcycles need to be successful? Just like with today's fossil fuel burning bikes, there will need to be a variety to appeal to the myriad likes and dislikes of riders:

For the performance enthusiast, the bike above may not be too far off the mark.

For most cruiser riders however, the bike above doesn't cut it. A more laid back riding position with a seat lower to the ground and handlebars that reach back to the rider rather than the other way around will be needed. A nice fat rear tire will work. A raked out front end will be a nice touch.

But, even if it had all these, it will still be missing the all important aural component. No self respecting cruiser rider will ever ride a two-wheel vehicle that makes no sound. So, a successful electric bike for this crowd will need to include a separate electric circuit devoted to a 500 watt amplifier with Dolby Surround 5.1 speakers embedded in faux exhaust pipes to blare out a motorcycle engine sound track. Nice features will include audio jacks to plug in an iPod and a sound mixer to overlay music with the engine soundtrack. Remember, loud pipes save lives.

For me, an electric sport tourer would fit the bill. Something with the lines of a Kawasaki Concours or Honda ST or even a BMW RT. I'm happy to zip silently past traffic so no need for a soundtrack for me. I look forward to the future.

-- Post From My iPod touch

Friday, August 28, 2009

Retro Motorbikes Gone Wild

I really am resisting the urge to re-post existing pieces elsewhere on the Internet. Really.
But this one struck me as particularly interesting because:
1. It's retro. I'm of the age where retro is interesting.
2. It's from the Wall Street Journal. See! I really am sophisticated enough to read the WSJ.

Click the link in the article for the full text.

Retro Motorbikes Gone Wild: "

The Wall Street Journal has published a fun piece on retro motorbikes called “Riding Retro Style.” Here’s the lead

From Chrysler’s PT Cruiser to Chevrolet’s new 1969-style Camaro, retro styling has been used by carmakers to generate buzz and spur sales.

Now motorcycle companies are following the auto industry’s lead, sprinkling the market with midsize, beginner-friendly models that evoke the 1970s.

Harley-Davidson, Triumph and Moto Guzzi are among the makers pushing retro bikes. Moto Guzzi’s V7 Classic has clean, delicate styling typical of bikes from 35 years ago. Matte-black paint and an aggressive rumble give Harley’s Iron 883 an old-school outlaw feel. Triumph’s Scrambler has the wheel spokes and off-road styling of a ‘70s trail bike.

The bikes all have two-cylinder engines between 700 and 900 cubic centimeters in size–midsize by modern standards. Indeed, some riders would consider them small. But each looks and sounds faster than it is and has enough style and attitude to mask the fact that they are mildly powered machines meant for green riders.

They all cost less than $9,000. Yes, it is a lot of money for two wheels, and yes, you could buy at least three nice used motorcycles for the same amount. But in today’s market, bikes under $10,000 get stamped with the “affordable” label.

Here’s the slide show.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Intorducing The eniCycle… [video]

I'm getting one of these....really!

Intorducing The eniCycle… [video]: "

Aleksander Polutnik, an inventor from Slovenia has created the eniCycle, which is an electric unicycle that operates with an electronic gyroscope to help balance and stabilize this one-wheeled wonder. Just like a Segway or the Uno, leaning forward or backward will put the eniCycle in motion and the shifting foot pegs will steer it depending on which direction you want to go.

The top speed is 10 mph and will work for three hours on a full charge, Polutnik, claims that the average user will learn how to ride it in less than 30 minutes, unlike the most frustrating traditional unicycle…

Watch it in full action after the jump.



Motorcycle Stolen Over a Five Year Period

Now that's what I call patience!

Motorcycle Stolen Over a Five Year Period: "

Zhang, a Chinese factory worker admitted that he started stealing parts back in 2003 and assembling them at home over a five-year period. When the motorcycle was finally completed, the worker was pulled over almost immediately when police noticed he had no license for the bike. Zhang, was ordered to return the motorcycle, fined $725 and put on one-year probation.



Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A reverie while riding

Most of this summer has been all Valkyrie all of the time. I've ridden it almost exclusively to work and most recently on a 1350-mile 5 day jaunt. It's showing its age, but still a great ride. Nothing feels like rolling the throttle of 6 cylinders.

Yesterday and today I commuted to work on my Multistrada. I had forgotten what a pleasurable experience riding a light weight bike can be. The MTS is about half the weight of the Valk with almost the same horsepower. (This isn't entirely accurate but close enough for this analysis.)

The MTS's combination of light weight and good power makes riding on even the most mundane roads an exhilarating experience. Traffic moves into the right lane. Stop lights are always green. Highway patrols are unnecessary. All is right with the world.

If there is a spectrum on which the Multistrada and Valkyrie motorcycles lie, they certainly must be on opposite ends. And yet, both bikes are incredible rides.

I wonder how many motorcycles a person could own and still feel all are worthy?

-- Post From My iPod touch

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Best foot forward on a motorcycle

I was passed by one of those good looking Yamaha Star cruisers. The all black one with the wide rear tire and best proportioned, air cooled, pushrod, V-twin motor in any motorcycle.

However, the foot controls were so far forward the rider looked like his legs were sticking straight out in front of him. Styling considerations aside, this riding position looks very uncomfortable. It looks to be nearly impossible to use your legs to help support your body weight. This can make day long rides unbearable.

Maybe this is why some riders are so shocked to hear we regularly ride 300+ miles or 9+ hours per day?

-- Post From My iPod touch

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Motorcycle adventure - 5 days of mountain roads

Less ambitious than the last two summers, my wife and I took off last week for a 5 day trip swirling around the southern portion of the Blue Ridge and northern bits of the Smokey Mountains. A total of 1380 miles over 5 days averaging about 275 miles and anywhere from 6 to 9 hours a day. We got every weather type available during the summer months: hot, humid, hazy, rain, cold, foggy. Sometimes all the weather in the same day. Here are some highlights:

The route

View Larger Map

Monday - to Point B in Roanoke
We left in the heat via various back roads to Roanoke VA. The map shows a more direct route which was the plan, but we didn't feel compelled to follow the plan. I spent most of the day wetting down my mesh jacket which works quite well as a make shift "evaporative" air conditioner for a couple of hours--it works. We arrived in Roanoke in the late afternoon and relaxed in the pool until dinner time.

Tuesday - to Point C in Maggie Valley
Rain. Rain. Lots of rain. A miserable ride. This was the longest distance riding day and because it rained so long and we were so wet, we opted to get on I-40 through Asheville to make some time. It helped. When we arrived, the rain stopped (of course). We hung out in the hot tub anyway until hunger prompted finding a restaurant for dinner.

Wednesday - to Point D in Johnson City
Rain. Fog. The day didn't look promising. A bit down the road we found a place to stop for breakfast wanting to dry out as much as eat. Thankfully, the rain stopped while we ate. Ultimately, about midday, the sun came out. The heat turned up. And we decided to make a detour through the Dragon Tail, aka Deal's Gap: 318 curves in 11 miles. I rigged my small point & shoot Canon on my handlebars and took video of my wife on her trike. By the end of the day we were whipped. Too whipped to hang out in the pool. We ate dinner and hit the sack.

Thursday - to Point C in Glenville
Took US-19 north through West VA across the New River Gorge bridge, the highest vehicle bridge in this hemisphere. Cool. Unfortunately, it was hot and hazy. So much so, my photos of the bridge weren't exactly picturesque. Ah well.
From 2009 Motorcycle Trip

The hotel we stayed in was in a peculiar place: 10 miles from the nearest town near nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. If felt kind of weird.

Friday - to Point F home
We went north through WV to US Rte 50 and east back home. Nothing particularly exciting except some windmills. We stayed pretty much were on roads that we had been on many times in the past. But it was a nice leisurely and the weather stayed nice, though warm, the whole day.
From 2009 Motorcycle Trip

Overall a great 5 days.

But there's no place like home.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Need another solution

Ok, so emailing to this blog is easy. But the formatting sucks.

So, I broke down and purchased a different blog posting app for my iPod touch--I'm using it now. I hope this works better.

Apparently, I can easily add photos too...

-- Post From My iPod touch

Affecting blog posting frequency

Clearly, I'm not doing too well in increasing the number of blog
posts. There are lots of reasons and I'll avoid the details. Suffice
it to say that, of late, when I feel most like blogging, I'm not
around a computer. And, when I'm around a computer, I don't feel like
doing much of anything much less write a blog post.

To wit: Last week we spent 5 days on the road riding through the
mountains of VA, NC, TN, and WV. I was motivated to write several
posts and did so on my iPod touch blogging app...which didn't work.
Now that I've returned home, I'm too busy getting back into the groove
at work that when I get home, the last thing I want to do is write.
Since I'm loathe to write junk (because that's what it would be if I
forced myself to write), I haven't written at all.

In researching solutions, I discovered I can email a message to a
certain address that will post the message here as a blog entry. In
fact, this message is a test of the capability as I'm writing it as an
email. (Probably everyone on the planet knew that feature exists
except for me.)

So now I'm more likely to be able to post when I feel like writing.
This is great! Stay tuned folks.