The Market Had Its Say?

Bicycles vs Motorcycles (3)This week, I made the once-every-couple-of-months Twin Cities tour with my wife. Mostly, she had chores and errands to do, but when she stopped at Har Mar Mall to buy art supplies, I snuck out to peruse Barnes and Noble. I got stopped at the magazine rack looking at electric bicycle magazines and articles. After a bit of that, I decided to see what is left of the motorcycle glossy press.

It took a while to find either motorcycle or car magazines. The “Transportation” rack is as far from the entrance and traffic as possible and appears to be barely maintained. Several of the magazines were May and June issues. That was true for the car rags, also. On top of that neglect, a good number of motorcycle “magazines” were actually retrospective “special issues” that could have been sitting on the shelf for months; or years. Along the same lines, a Rolling Stone “special issue” was about Mick Jagger, if that gives you a clue as to the currency of that magazine format.

Bicycles vs Motorcycles (4)On the other hand, the bicycle section was featured under “Sports” and there were a lot of magazines and articles about electric bicycles in both magazines dedicated to electric bikes and the more mainstream mostly-manual powered bike magazines. The big thing here was that there are a lot of bicycle magazines and there is a lot of interest in electric bicycles; for transportation and sport. A couple of the magazines were almost as fun to read as the old Dirt Bike magazine; when it was edited by Super Hunky Rick Sieman. None of the last twenty years of dirt bike magazines have even come close to that high bar. As I suspected, the traditional motorcycle guys are putting a foot into this water, too. Electric Bike Action magazine had a big feature about Yamaha’s new electric bicycle series. To be sure, in true bicycle and bicyclist fashion, there was a lot of incredibly stupid stuff inside those magazines.

Bicycles vs Motorcycles (2)A line that particularly struck me as hilarious in the Electric Bike Action Yamaha article was, “At first we wondered if they were going to sell the bikes at their powersports dealerships. They only plan to incorporate those e-bikes into powersports dealers that already have a bike shop component, and those are few and far between. There’s a big difference between knowing how to work on a motorcycle and and knowing how to work on an electric bike.” That is true, kiddies. Anyone who can work on a fuel-injected, electronic ignition, fly-by-wire throttle-controlled, ABS’d, and state-of-the-art motorcycle will find electric bicycles to be too simple to be interesting. The customer base will lower that bar even further.

Times are changin’ and they are changin’ a lot faster than many expect. Powersports dealers are beginning to scramble for new revenue sources. It’s no stretch to imagine that a dealer who sells a few motorcycles, a few more ATVs, even more boats, and a buttload of golf carts will find a lot of reasons to become one of those “powersports dealers that already have a bike shop component.” A few bicycles on the showroom will cost a lot less than a few motorcycles that can’t be moved at any price. If that’s what it takes to get in on the electric bicycle boom, I suspect it won’t slow many dealers down.

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Never Do That Again?

IMG_20180626_201217_646When my V-Strom rolled away on its new owner’s trailer and headed north to its new home, one of the first things I thought was “I’ll never do that again.” By “that,” I mean invest that much time and money in a motorcycle. Considering the years and miles, I didn’t have all that much money invested in the V-Strom: 12 years and not more than $5,000 not counting fuel. Still, I put a lot of time, thought, and even hope and love into that motorcycle.

Over the years with Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly and the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center my V-Strom had been a test bed for all sorts of products; from air horns to auto-chain lube devices to excessive electrical experiments (everything short of a 120VAC inverter). I long-term tested an Elka shock that listed for about what I sold the motorcycle for. I even longer-term-tested the very first Sargent seat designed for the then-new V-Strom 650. I put hours of customizing (for touring, not for looks) into this motorcycle over the first decade I owned, especially the first 5 years. While I thought all of my modifications were to make the bike suit me, when the current owner sat on it and took it for a ride, he seemed to think it was perfect for him.

Fifty years ago, my brother brought his Harley Sprint 250 to my place, to hide it from our parents (mostly our father). It was there, what was I supposed to do? I started riding it . . . everywhere. I crashed a lot and things broke. I started taking unnecessary things off of the bike; like headlights, turn signals, the speedo, fenders, and I learned how to weld and braze so I could repair the frame pieces I snapped off of that bike. In a few years, I had my own two-stroke bikes and I really got into “customizing” my off-road race bikes: blue printing the engines, Preston Petty fenders, intake and exhaust mods, carburetor modifications, frame and suspension upgrades, and that went on for years. Every dirt bike and every street bike I’ve ever owned has become “mine.”

August 2006 V-Strom trip (3)I bought my Suzuki V-Strom in 2006, when I was 58 years old. I bought that bike with an Alaska adventure in mind. Practically the day I rode my V-Strom home I started to get it ready for a 13,000 mile trip and seriously long mileage days. Since that first long trip in 2007, my V-Strom has taken me across the country a few times and across Canada once. We’ve driven at least two thousand miles of North Dakota dirt roads, across sections of Montana and Wyoming that I suspect few locals even know exist, and we explored some of the “minimum maintenance” roads I once rode on my 1973 Rickman back when I lived in rural Nebraska. So many qualities of that motorcycle were tweaked for my comfort and preferences that it seemed almost biological. I literally spent months working on that motorcycle, either modifying it or getting it ready for a long trip to somewhere I’d dreamed of traveling. I spent months on that motorcycle riding to places and seeing things nobody else as ever seen the same way. It was truly my “adventure bike” in every sense of the words. 

In 2009, I bought my Yamaha WR250X and the six modifications I’ve made to that bike are a seat cover, a larger fuel tank, a home-made tail rack mount for extra fuel storage, serrated pegs, a bolt-on windscreen, and heated vest wiring. The original owner did a bunch of stupid stuff to the bike and I returned all of that to bone stock. When I sold the V-Strom, I’d planned on buying a Sargent seat for the WR but so far I haven’t been motivated to do that. It still might happen, but it’s more likely won’t.

One thing I know for sure is that I will never put as much effort, thought, and hope into another motorcycle as I did the V-Strom. No motorcycle I will ever own will be as much my own as that bike was. I’ve made a couple of guitars in the last two years and they got that kind of effort. The house we’ bought in Red Wing was a serious fixer-upper and it has become pretty personal looking. The time in my life when I will be making plans to cover a bit of the earth on a motorcycle that needs to be molded to fit my needs is over. I’m not mourning those days, even a little. I, literally, had a great ride and I’m grateful for the good fortune that put me, the Suzuki V-Strom, and the opportunity to take advantage of that freedom in the same place and time.

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Memories on My Luggage

Turned out, the big thing I missed about my 12 year partner in travel, my 2004 DL650 V-Strom, was getting to see those place-marker stickers on the luggage and right side cover. The guy who bought the bike, Paul Purdes, generously took excellent pictures of the cases and stickers which my wife will make into a collage that I can hang on my office wall. In the meantime, I put his pictures and some of my favorite memories of that motorcycle into a video that I can enjoy right now. Hopefully, you find something entertaining in it also.

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Enough Is Enough

IMG_9384That does it! I need to lose weight. Last year, my 20-year-old Lawson camping hammock let go and dumped me on my head while I was “camping” at the Davenport Fairgounds with Tim and Cal. Now, my swing chair bolt broke and dropped me on my ass.

I’m supposed to fast before a physical tomorrow. I’m not gonna eat anything all day and get back on my low carb and sugar diet tomorrow. This is ridiculous.

IMG_9385

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Boeing Wanted Jetpacks, but Got Motorcycles (sort of)

Boeing’s GoFly Contest is a “contest for inventors of personal aircraft that seemed to reinvigorate the decades-old hope of a contraption that could propel its wearer through the air.” Boeing’s design targets are “vehicles must measure fewer than 8.5 feet in any direction and travel 20 miles while carrying a single person. . . [and] run quieter than 87 decibels, as measured by sensors 50 feet away.’” Not just hard targets, but “impossible?” “’The GoFly prize is impossible,’ said Michael Hirschberg, executive director of the Vertical Flight Society, a technical society for people working on vertical takeoff and landing flight. ‘There is no way — based on conventional thinking — that someone can make a device that can meet the low noise, small size and long endurance requirements that it requires.’”

la-1529003364-kwq02l64y8-snap-imageYesterday’s “impossible” is today’s state-of-the-art and going for impossible is what created today’s quality standards, the internet economy, electric cars and motorcycles, and the computer I’m writing this essay on. I have high hopes for “impossible.”

la-1529003192-9hzkdpfrlf-snap-imageAt least a couple of these entries look more like motorcycles than jetpacks.

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Sellin’ It Myself

It has been a slow season for motorcycle sales, not just mine but everything I’m watching on Craig’s List and my local dealer’s sales. I’ve only had three bites on my V-Strom and I’m the cheapest V-Strom 650 on the Minnesota Craig’s List by more than a few dollars and with a whole lot more touring accessories and parts added than the competition. So far, all of the prospective buyers are clearly just looky-loos, but they’ve made it pretty clear that is the case. Two have show up to look it over and one of the two is “thinking about it.” Today, though, I got an email that read “I was wondering if I’d be able to come take a look at the bike and maybe take it for a test ride?”

tdmIt’s been a while since I’ve sold a motorcycle and a really long time since anyone asked to take a test ride. The last time I experienced that adventure was when I sold my 1992 Yamaha TDM 850. The buyer showed up in a nice new pickup, with his girlfriend, a nice set of gear, and he looked to be fairly competent and knowledgeable about the Yamaha TDM. LIke today, it had been a fair number of years between my last motorcycle sale and my chops were rusty. He wanted to take the bike for a test ride and like the Minnesota passive-aggressive dweeb I’ve become, I handed him the key.

The TDM is no beginner’s bike, as Victor Wanchena discovered when he test rode one for Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly. My prospective buyer saddled up competently, found first gear without any problem, released the clutch and eased into the street, before he had the bike straightened out and lined up for the big curve in our street, he decided to nail the throttle; I’d guess he was showing off for me, his girlfriend, or both. What he did, instead, was drop the bike on its side so quickly that he didn’t even have a chance to get his leg out from under it. The girlfriend and I held our breath and I ran across the street to help him get out from under the bike. We stood him and the TDM back up, rolled the bike back to my driveway and surveyed the damage: two broken turn signals, one mangled mirror, one bend handlebar, and some scratches on the tank and side panels. To his credit and my great fortune, he paid my asking price without much comment. We loaded the bike up on his pickup, plus the spares and busted bits, and he drove off. I transferred the title immediately, on-line, and I never heard anything from him again. I was lucky.

Today, I’m less inclined to count on luck. Now, I offer the option of my delivering the bike to a mechanic for evaluation and appraisal or this form along with cash in advance:

BILL OF SALE – MOTORCYCLE
6/15/2018
For the consideration of $____________________ I, Thomas Day of my address(“Seller”), hereby sell, assign and transfer to _______________________________________________, of _______________________________________. ____________________ (“Buyer”), the following described motorcycle (“Vehicle”).

Make: Suzuki
Model: DL650 V-Strom
Year: 2004
VIN: ??????????????

Seller states that the mileage reading on the Odometer at time of sale is xxxxxxxx miles. Seller certifies that to the best of Seller’s knowledge, this reading reflects the actual mileage of the Vehicle. Further, the Vehicle’s odometer has not been altered, set back or disconnected while in Seller’s possession, nor does seller have knowledge of anyone else doing so.
Buyer acknowledges the above odometer statement:
___________________________________________________________________________________ (Buyer’s Acknowledgement)
Buyer Name
Seller warrants that the Vehicle is free and clear of any liens or encumbrances.
The Vehicle is being transferred on as “AS IS” basis, with not warranties, express or implied, as to the condition of the Vehicle.
Seller certifies the statements made in the Bill of Sale are true, to the best knowledge of the Seller.
TEST RIDE INFORMATION: If Buyer returns vehicle to Seller within 1 hour of purchase, in its original condition (save for additional mileage), Seller will fully refund the sale price and Seller will retain title to the vehicle.
________________________________________________________________________________________Start time of test ride:
_______________________________________________________________Buyer’s acknowledgement of test ride conditions
Buyer Name
_______________________________________________________________Seller’s acknowledgement of test ride conditions
Transfer of the Vehicle is effective 6/15/2018.
Thomas W. Day (Seller)
Seller Name

I’ve read that some buyers are highly offended by the suggestion that they may not be competent riders, decent human beings, or have the money to actually purchase the motorcycle in question. I apologize, in advance, to those people. You might as well assume you won’t be buying anything substantial from me. I am from Kansas, I am a hick, but I didn’t just get off of the turnip truck yesterday; it was at least a month ago.

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What it all Means







Right Side

Left   Side

1.8 1.7
1.8 1.6
6.5 6.1
8.2 10.1
5.7 6.4
0.2 0.6
5.5 4.4   Full Face Coverage
Area
2.1 1.9 45.3%
Chin 19.4 15.2
Top 0.4
    99.6%

Motorcycle Helmet Impact StudyEver think about that butcher’s chart Icon plastered all over the Airframe Statistic? Your first thought should be how many first impacts occur to the areas of the head unprotected by all helmets that are NOT full face: 45%. Those riciculous things I can only describe as “toilet bowl helmets” add another 12% of unprotected area over traditional 3/4 coverage helmets. I’m not kidding when I say, “That is not a helmet.” It is barely a hat.

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