Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hoss Hauls Heavy Humanitarian

When you got a lot of stuff to deliver and no
snow for your sleigh to glide on, who ya gonna call?

The biker type guy at the reins is Hoss, the guy on the back is some kind of delivery fellow from the far north. Hoss has managed to ride his Lehman trike every month of the year since he got it, don't hurt to have a third wheel for stability in the ice and snow.
Lehman trikes are made in Westlock, Alberta and Spearfish, South Dakota and sold world wide. The trike conversions are made for all the brands of motorcycles but I think Hoss bought his for the throaty roar and rumble of the Harley engine.
You can usually hear Hoss thumping around town on his Harley most times of the year, he uses it as a daily commuter to work, takes it to meetings, goes golfing on it, and sometimes lets his wife ride on the back. Rumor has it that he will be riding the big white thumper down to Sturgis bike week this upcoming year, dressed to the hilt in his Harley gear, you will know him when you see him, he is hard to miss because he will try to sell you some real estate.
You meet the nicest people on a Honda they say, with a Harley you are sure to be surprised who is going to be riding.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Castor Motorcycle

The Castor Motorcycle Club was born two years ago at the White Goose restaurant in Castor Alberta.
At present we have one member and are not actively recruiting new members. At the organizational meeting over coffee, which I paid for, there were five prospects including myself who were expressing an interest in joining.
The bulletin sent out encouraged prospective members to ride their bike to the meeting, discuss setting up and organizing a motorcycle club and then end the meeting with a ride. Observing the meeting but not participating was the local plumber, a cowboy and the owner of the restaurant none of whom ride motorcycles. The cowboy did want to know if he could join with his horse substituting for a motorcycle. He was denied entry.
Of all the prospects who attended only myself, Rod, and John actually brought our bikes to that first meeting. Rod had a 500cc Enfield he bought in India, and didn't think he could make that Sundays ride, so John and I did a small ride.
The two bikers who were actively encouraging me to get the club up and running never even showed up themselves.
The first meeting was less than stellar, but undaunted we decided to have another meeting in two weeks when the weather was better. The subsequent meeting had a poorer showing with only two bikes in attendance and fewer prospects. John and I went for a ride to celebrate the new club. No meetings and no members have joined since, and John has moved away.
Thus membership is down to one member, me.
In a town the size of Castor, 932 residents, new prospects for the club are slim.
So now memberships in the Castor Motorcycle Club are being offered thru this blog. The only requirements needed are:

1. You must ride a motorcycle.
2. You must live on earth.

As we are a casual club there will be no meetings to attend, no fees to pay, and no colors to wear. Unfortunately we cannot offer charter memberships, as this is the second offering. If you think you have the right stuff and are straining to become a member, act now as this is a limited one time offer that may never come again.
What you need to do is send me a self addressed stamped envelope, with your name, location and cycle that you are currently riding, and in return you will receive a membership card in the mail. Your name will also appear in the upcoming members list. Thats it, thats all it takes to become a member of a motorcycle club, you will be the envy of your friends when you flash your card and tell them you are a member of this exclusive club.

The above photo of the author trying to recruit another biker into the Castor Motorcycle Club while I was having my picture taken.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I can't remember if I read Robert M. Pirsigs book before I got a motorcycle or not, but I believe it was before. I have read the book about three times now and am going to read it again.
The first time I read it, I skipped most of it, only reading the parts about the motorcycle trip from Minnesota to Montana. I didn't read the underlying story as it seemed to be too deep and complicated for my liking.
Within a few pages of reading the book he sums up what I feel like when I am riding my motorcycle.

You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you're always in a compartment, and because you're used to it you don't realize that through that car window everything you see is just more T.V. You're a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.
On a cycle the frame is gone. You're completely in contact with it all. You're in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.

I am in the scene, I am out in the open, the sights the smells are all there touching me, it makes a guy feel alive, in control. Most times when I climb on the bike for a ride, wether it is a short jaunt or a tour of some kind, I can't help but smile to myself, the feeling of freedom and horse power washes all the cares of the day away. Even on a tour last fall where we encountered rain and snow showers I was laughing, so happy to be in that moment. The road was slick, visibilty was poor but the heat and sound rising from the engine, and the impossibility of it all, made for a great ride.
While surfing the net I came upon a site that contains original photos of Pirsigs now famous ride.
He is an unassuming looking fellow but the photos tied all the loose ends together and re-established my link to the book. I found my paperback copy, the pages are yellowed and dusty but in surprisingly good shape and ready for another read.
If you are interest and want to dwell on it further , here is the link to the site;

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Little Wing

1981 Honda GL500 Silverwing interstate

I was looking for another motorcycle after being out of biking for about 12 years when I bought this Interstate.

I was looking for a used Goldwing, about an 82 or 83, and most of the ones I had seen were high mileage models. I had almost purchased an 82 Goldwing in Red Deer and had talked the dealer down in price but did not have a chance to take a good look at the bike or test ride it, when I returned the following Saturday to inspect the bike better, the salesman told me the bike had been sold. OH well I thought, thats what I get for being lackadaisical about the purchase.

I returned to the dealer a couple of weeks later and the same bike was back on the sales floor with a higher price tag on it. I guess they had considered my offer and thought it to be too low and took the bike off the floor, only to return it with a higher price. I had checked periodically and the same bike is still sitting on the sales floor one year later.

I had seen this Silverwing in Camrose earlier and liked it, lower mileage, good price and in excellent shape. Since I was pissed at the Red Deer dealer anyway, I dropped in one day at the Camrose dealer while I was on a trip to Edmonton with a friend and purchased the little wing. $1,500. dollars of Canadian cash and I was a biker again, felt good. A few days later with my old beater of a helmet I had the same friend drop me off in Camrose to pick up the bike.

Being nervous after those many years of non-riding I felt a little apprehensive about riding and headed straight into the residential area to practice up a bit. Five minutes of riding, starting and stopping did the trick and I felt confident enough to hit the main roads and tangle with traffic.I rode the bike home, about 100 miles, on a hot sunny day. I did the speed limit still trying to sharpen my biking skills riding without incident, only having a couple of road hogs close in fast from behind and pass too close for my liking. It's been over a year since I bought the bike but I can still fell the heat of the sun, road and engine as I road that day. The Silverwing has a V-twin engine but is mounted so the heads stick out the sides next to the riders knees, a small pain in hot weather riding but a pleasure in the cold.

It was in September that I purchased the bike and so I had a limited amount of riding before the snows of winter came, but I managed a few small trips to familiarize myself with the bike. The previous owner had mounted forward footpegs, extra driving lights and added a cycle sound radio mount complete with radio and speakers. The tires were wore out, with the back one being completely void of any tread and the front one was cupped badly. The paint was good on the fairing trunk and bags showing only little wear and tear, but the seat had some minor tears, and the fairing mounted mirrors were replaced with handle bar mounted vibrating useless cheapoos.

In the spring I replaced the tires with a set of matching Bridgestones, had the seat recovered, threw away the cheapoo mirrors and bought some expensive replacements from the Honda dealer. And the first thing that I usually have to install is a cigarette lighter, for me smoking and riding go together. Am I worried about getting cancer? Hell NO, I ride a bike, smoking is a minor matter in the grand scheme of things.I also bought some Harley floor boards, manufactured some mounts and threw away the pegs. Much more comfortable riding with floorboard rather than the stock pegs as you have more range for foot positioning.

The replacement mirrors were another matter entirely. Although the replacements which were identical to stock mirrors looked a lot better mounted on the fairing rather than the handle bars, the mirror surface had a flat surface and a tint to them which I did not like. I did manage to find a set of OEM mirrors at a swap meet. In swapping out the glass I managed to break one and now have an original clear convex mirrror on one side and an ugly, flat, tinted on the other side. Oh well more swap meet hunting should resolve the matter.

The next project was to make and install a tow hitch to the bike. I had a Gold wing before and towed a small cargo trailer and wanted the same setup although lighter to match the bike. With the help of some non biking friends with access to a welder, cutting torch and some ingenuity we managed to come up with a decent looking hitch.

One draw back that I thought the bike lacked was protection for the lower legs and feet. Although the fairing, which is identical except for the lowers is the same used on the Goldwings of that era, provide good upper body protection the bottom is quite open and breezy. I fashioned a couple of curved alluminum pieces and attached them to the existing lower fairing. I tested them in some rainy and snowy weather and they proved to be good and give the feet more protection from the elements. It could be another matter when the warm weather rolls around but they are only secured by two bolts apiece and take only seconds to remove.

The bike is an off shoot of the Honda CX 500, and was only manufactured for two years as a full dresser 500cc model and in 83, they bumped it to a 650cc. It has about 45hp and is a high revving son of a gun. At highway speed 100kph [60mph] it revs at about 5700 rpm. This can be a little disconcerting to some but after you get used to it, it becomes quite natural and the little bike will go all day at hiway speed plus with out a problem. The higher revving engine delivers a lot of torque and the bike is quite responsive. I had alway liked the look of the bike and had a CX500 previously that I had added a fairing to and tried to make a touring bike out of it. The bike had ample power and I managed to cross the USA and Canada twice before on the old CX500. People who say you need a big bike to go touring on are filling you with BS, after all many others have toured with much smaller and made out quite fine.

If you are in the market and see one of these bikes for sale and wonder how good it is, buy it, you won't be disapointed. They are reasonably priced, nimble to handle, have loads of power and the engine is all but bullet proof. And there are a lot of resources on the internet which include a lot of happy owners.

Homemade Cargo Trailer

I always liked the thought of pulling a little trailer behind the bike, so handy when going camping, you can load it to the nuts with all your gear. I have used it a couple of times and it works great, easy to pull, lots of room, held all my camping gear plus a full set of golf clubs.
I had the trailer frame and just chopped it down narrower, sand blasted the frame and rims, wired it and painted it. The top box is an RV roof top carrier and the luggage rack on top is from a couple of old station wagons.
Seeing as I had most of the items on hand it was an inexpensive project, the most being the RV pod which cost me $100 bucks. I am still on the lookout for an older metal cooler to attach permanently to the tonque and since the stator is not that great on bike, some L.E.D. lights.
It tracks good behind the bike and on the flats does not slow me down, but on the hills I have to down shift now.

Friday, March 17, 2006

My Motorcyle History

Looking back at all the bikes I have owned there appears to be a common theme.
They have all been Honda's of early 80's vintage. And after owning nothing but Honda's I am a firm believer in Honda technology. The early bikes had crude engineering but in the early 80's they improved their technology to the point that many of these bikes are still on the road and running strong.

1975 Honda CB500T
First bike which I paid about $700 dollars for and it did not run very well as it strained to achieve a high speed of 60 MPH.

1981 Honda CB400T
Second bike I owned more up-to-date technology and a snappy little runner, more reliable, that banana seat was a butt buster.

1981 Honda CX500 Custom
I took a bare bones bike and made a small tourer out of it, adding fairing, radio, trunk and floorboards.

1980 Honda GL1100 Goldwing
The best of the bunch, added over $2,000. worth of chrome and extras and even pulled a small cargo trailer behind.

1982 Honda CB 900 Custom
What I bought after thinking the Goldwing was too big just to ride around town on.

1981 Honda GL500 Silverwing
My current ride after being out of biking for 12 years.

Not a very impressive list of bikes to be sure but all except the first were good reliable transportation. I put the most miles on the CX500 taking it cross country a couple of times without any major problems.
When I decided to get back into motorcycling a few years ago I was dismayed to find that I could not replace any of the old bikes for the same price I had disposed of them. They all had appreciated in value.
I may not be on the latest marvel of technology but at least I am out there on the road enjoying everything about the lifestyle of motorcycling.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Can-Am Spyder-Roadster

The old joke goes that if Harley Davidson built a airplane, would you fly in it, well how about if Bombardier, who builds airplanes, built a bike would you ride it?

Bombardier under their Can-Am name is getting set to unleash their version of a street legal motorcycle which does not look like anything that is on the road at the moment.My first impression of the hybrid motorcycle/trike/ATV is that it looked like a snowmobile on wheels, a backward trike, or some kind of fancy garden tractor, but it is quite striking in appearance and upon closer examination it does contain some high tech engineering

Rotax 990 V-Twin Liquid-Cooled with Double Overhead Cams. Providing life under the hood is a Rotax 998cc, V-twin liquid cooled engine. It delivers a strong push and responsive acceleration throughout the power band, with 106 peak horsepower and a peak torque of 77 foot-pounds. Advanced features include double overhead cams and a state-of-the-art electronic fuel management system which provides precise throttle response, crisp acceleration, and reliable engine starting while complying with stringent environmental regulations Technology

The MSRP will start at $ US 14,999 in the United States and $CA 18,499 in Canada. European prices will be communicated at a later date.