Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ducati Recalls 1098 for Engine Stalling Problem

Ducati has issued a recall of certain 2007 1098 models.

On certain motorcycles, the electronic control unit (ECU) ignition timing and idle mixture were improperly set during production causing the engine speed to drop and stall the engine when the temperature of the cooling system exceeded 180F. If the engine stops while the motorcycle is being driven, it could increase the risk of a crash.

1516 units are affected.

Check out my Motorcycle Recalls feature for more details.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Are Motorcycles Safer than Horses?

The old motorcycle helmet debate may be shifting to the equestrian world where many horse riders are being seriously injured since they don't wear helmets or protective apparel. Here's a quote from

"Hour-per-hour in the saddle, more riders are seriously injured riding horses than motorcycles.

That is the surprising revelation of a new study from researchers at the University of Calgary.

Equally surprising is that those being hurt and killed are not rookie equestrians but, in large part, veteran riders." -- ANDRÉ PICARD

Read more.

Offer your own comment below.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

10 Motorcycle Riders Create Art by Burnout

Last Monday, an unusual art exhibition was held at the Seventh Regiment Armory in New York City. It involved 10 motorcycle stunt riders who rode for seven minutes on 288 panels of painted plywood. So much smoke was expected that a special test run was done with smoke machines to confirm that the air would still be breathable. Here's a quote from the New York Times article by Carol Vogel, entitled, "After Test Runs, an Armory Is Ready to Declare, ‘Artists, Start Your Engines’ ."

"Look, it’s going in the right direction,” said Doreen Remen, a founder of the Art Production Fund, a nonprofit organization that presents unusual public art projects. With her co-founder, Yvonne Force Villareal, and the artist Aaron Young she gazed upward with relief as the smoke began filtering out the open windows along the rafters."

At the actual show played to 500 invited guests including members of the Hells Angels, art history was made. Read more.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Two Motorcycle Worlds

This week finds me somewhat between two motorcycle worlds. A few days ago I received the new riding schedule for the 2007-2008 Polar Bear Grand Tour. It’s my job to convert this schedule into something readable on the Polar Bear Grand Tour Web site. Then when the season starts, I take pictures at each run and post them on the site. The season doesn’t start until October 28th, the last Sunday in October. However, over 500 participants will be looking for the new schedule shortly so it’s important that not a lot of time goes by before it’s posted. Unfortunately my wife and I were scheduled to attend a state rally here in NJ for the GWRRA (Gold Wing Road Riders Association) so all work on the schedule stopped.

As I’m thinking about winter riding again with the Polar Bears, I see many riders in the north starting to think about slowing down their riding and putting their bikes away. Of course, most riders will prolong this until riding just gets too cold. The Polar Bears see no benefit in putting their bikes away and so don heavy protective clothing, most opting for electrically heated vests, gloves, pants, and even socks as the temperatures drop into the 40s, 30s, 20s, and lower.

Meanwhile, the GWRRA rally turns out to be a pretty late rally falling this year on September 6-8. That’s after Labor Day so people have stopped thinking about vacations and are now concentrating on school and jobs. That means it’s hard to attract people to attend. Next year, this rally will be held in early August.

The GWRRA gathering we attended was small and most of the participants knew each other. Although the organization is divided into chapters located across the state and nation and even internationally, there is considerable interaction of members among chapters. That makes many GWRRA gatherings seem like family reunions to outsiders. That’s what outsiders have remarked after seeing so much hugging and kissing going on as member couples run into each other at functions. Often it’s difficult to go from point A to point B without getting stopped by other couples for lengthy conversations. After one conversation ends you almost immediately run into another couple which starts another conversation. And so it goes.

Of course, historically, GWRRA tends to attract husband and wife riding couples who ride two-up on the same motorcycle. Lately, however, in the last five or six years, I’ve seen a steady increase in the number of women riding their own bikes. Thus, where ten years ago, almost no GWRRA women rode their own bikes but instead chose to ride pillion, now many GWRRA couples have two bikes, a Gold Wing for the husband and a separate bike (not necessarily a Gold Wing) for the wife. The couple concept remains except one bike has been replaced by two in some cases.

There has also been an increase in the number of riders preferring to ride motorcycle trikes. Again, within GWRRA the Gold Wing motorcycle is the basis for the trike with the rear wheel removed and replaced by two automotive wheels and an automotive rear end. The trike part has extra trunk space needed since the normal saddlebags have been removed. Again, in keeping with the need in some cases for both the husband and wife to ride their own motorcycle, some couples have opted to ride individual trikes. Such is the case for my wife and me.

At these small GWRRA gatherings, the standard rally activities occur such as seminars, bike contests, people games, bike games, organized tours, self-guided tours, vendor sales, light parade, entertainment, and awards dinners. There’s plenty of time for socializing, admiring bikes, and eating too. The gathering we attended was heavy on ice cream, birthday and anniversary cakes, laughter, fun, eating, and picture taking. There wasn’t much drinking except for soda, tea, and coffee. That may be the reason that you won’t find many underweight Wingers. Along with all this socializing, the Wingers are very safety conscious taking skill improvement courses all the time to learn how to be safe on the road.

I’m not giving away any inside stories here. If you want to participate in all this fun, you’ll have to join your local GWRRA chapter and go to a rally on your own. However, what happens at GWRRA gatherings can be pretty tame. It’s certainly family oriented. I saw quite a few children who attended with their parents and even two girls who appeared to be about 9-10 years old who won youngest passengers arriving on a motorcycle.

Now, I’m back from the rally and need to get back working on that Polar Bear schedule. Of course, all 500 of us Polar Bears are continually having to explain to outsiders that we don’t go in the water on New Year’s Day. That’s those “other” Polar Bears.

Polar Bear picture by Walter Kern. Cake picture courtesy of Barbara Malone.

Got any comments about your own motorcycle gatherings? Post them below.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Motorcycle Camping

In order to enjoy your camping you have to pack your bike to the nuts with all the things you may need to make life comfortable. Saddlebags, trunk, and a tank bag can accomodate a lot of your stuff, plus you can pile more on top if need be. Thats where a good supply of bungee cords or cargo netting strap comes in handy.
When planning for motorcycle camping, smaller is better and most camping outlet stores have smaller items that are perfect for motorcycle camping. One burner stove, small lantern, folding fry pan, pots with folding handles, paper plates and plastic cutlery will all do the job for you. Think small and buy accordingly and you can pack everything you need.

I even manage to carry a fold up camping chair with me, because one my pet peeves is that when you arrive at the campsight the only place to sit is on the ground or at the picnic table.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Logan Pass-Going to the Sun Highway

[Click on pictures for full size version]
Ian, Darcy and I met up at Grants house in Calgary and started our five day-three-state-two province tour which would include Logans Pass, also known as "The Going To The Sun Highway".

With fresh faces and no lasting hang overs, we assembled the packed and ready bikes and crew for the obligatory line-up and photo op. Seems to be some one missing, never mind he is taking the photo.

We burned a lot of rubber heading south out of Calgary on Highway 2 heading for our lunch stop at Fort MacLeod. I held the big Silverwing back and took up the rear riding position as I expected to have to stop and pick up Yamaha and Harley parts along the way.

Nanton was our first breather stop where we could stretch our legs, scratch our butts and take a picture of an airplane on a stick.

After crossing into Montana, which has some of the best motorcycle roads on earth, we stopped to load the bikes with cheap beer, gas and smokes.

We entered Waterton National Park from the eastern side, stopped and had another photo op, after paying the $12.00 entry fee. I must have intimidated the attendant at the gate as he over charged me outrageously and then had to refund me twice.
The first few miles of the park are rather tame, but a scenic ride none the less.

This stopping point over looking the lake is your first hint of what is to come.

Lots of curves and twister's along the way but the amount of traffic thru the park curtails any canyon carving.

The road that was first blasted thru the mountains in the thirties slowly descends along some sheer cliffs and even the local mountain goats get nervous.

Lots of bike traffic carving its way past the tunnels and waterfalls along the route. Even if you had the road to yourself you would be going slow gawking at the marvelous scenery.

Lots of little pull offs to take a peek over the edge and shoot some pics.

Had a little construction delay that only amounted to about 10 minutes. Had to curtail my nasty smoking habit as there was a fire ban on with a no smoking in the park policy and the cruiser behind us looked ready to enforce the law.

Even the construction stopping spots offer up a great view. They were rebuilding some of the retaining walls.

Logans Pass has to be one of the most scenic rides you will find anywhere, with deep gorges and towering mountains.

After the pass and a night in Kalispel, we headed west towards Libby and Bonners Ferry, Idaho where we consulted the map and looked for the most scenic route.

Great stopping spots along the Thompson Lakes region on Highway 2, Montana.

North of Newport Washington where we found a great little road that took us back up to Canada. Highway 41 north is not a very heavily used road but it was a surprise to us as what a great motorcycle road it turned out to be, if you get the chance check it out.

We wimped out when we made it to Fernie B.C. and stayed in a motel for the night rather than taking a camping spot. In the morning a photo op presented itself and we indulged.

After getting back into Canada the ride to Creston B.C. was another great motorcycle road.

Last day heading home we stopped for a break, some were reluctant to come this route through the Crowsnest Pass as the last time we were thru here in September we were stopped two days in a motel with no power because of an early snow storm. Thankfully this year there was no snow and we made it through.

Just short of Longview Alberta we stopped to suit up as it had been threatening to rain and the low dark clouds ahead had lots of rain in them. We ended up riding the last two hundred miles home in a steady down pour.