Tag Archives: motorcycling

Time For A New Product

When I was up in the wasteland, I was out driving one afternoon and saw some yard signs that said “Watch for Motorcycles!”  This isn’t a new message to me.  I see it all the time on bumper stickers where I live.  This might be the first time I’ve seen it on a yard sign, though.

Anyway, the message resonated differently this time.  When I read it, I thought to myself, “Where can I get one of these?”  Where could I buy one?  Not a sign, a watch for motorcycles.  I mean after all, there’s advertising for them all over the place.  Half the cars and trucks down here have a sticker that says “Watch for motorcycles!”  Now there’s yard signs for them too.  Someone is really missing out.  All it would take is some Hammacher Schlemmer (wow, spelt it almost perfectly the first time!) writer to promote it.

The Watch For Motorcycles

Imagine your motorcycle sitting alone in its garage.  It’s cold, alone, and desperately wants to get outside and into the sunlight.  The days pass by with no visitations or consolations.  The sun rises and falls each day and your poor motorbike waits for you.  Wouldn’t it be a joy for your motorcycle to know the actual time of day so it could anticipate your arrival?  The arrival which never comes?

HamSchlem is proud to be the exclusive distributor of the watch for motorcycles.  You’ve seen them hailed on bumper stickers and on yard signs: “Watch for Motorcycles!”  Now, the opportunity to own one of these heralded and yet non-acquirable objects is here at last  Present it to your motorcycle as a token of your affection even as you let the gas go bad in the tank and allow the tires to dry rot.

Fashion trends show that motorcycles have always loved bling and more caring owners lavish their bikes with bling even as they ignore them for months at a time.  You too can be a part of this ridiculous crowd and gift your motorcycle with its very own watch so it can tell time.  At least until the watch battery dies from the neglect you’ll inevitably heap upon it.

So, anyway, that’s a great product idea.  However.  It’s already been done.  Presenting, the “Watch For Motorcycles” watch for motorcycles:


It Only Took Eight Years

Eight years ago, I got a motorcycle.  I’ve documented my ups and downs with it here and in the last few years, it’s been a sad story of neglect and non-involvement.

My recent attempt to revive my bike ended up being well outside my ability level.  I turned the bike over to my neighbor, who is an experienced mechanic.  He disassembled it and did a thorough cleaning of the carburetor, which worked well until his testing revealed the engine was running too lean and stalling out.  That leanness was caused by a crack in the fuel inlet, which is a non-replaceable part.  So, a replacement carburetor was purchased for about $300. 

That new part made the engine run better, but now the bike would die if you suddenly hit the throttle.  There wasn’t enough gas being delivered to the carb.  This was determined to be the fault of the aftermarket petcock I installed, which had a smaller diameter fuel line than the original.  So, another purchase of an OEM petcock for $60 was done.

A few days ago, my neighbor’s kid rang my doorbell and asked if I was ready to go for a ride.  Across the street my bike was idling next to my neighbors bike.  Great.  I haven’t been riding in years and here I am being put on the spot to test out the repair.

I gear up and we went out for a brief ride together.  I was rusty, but I remembered how everything worked and managed just fine.  I had a motorcycle again.

Last night, to help regain my skills and comfort on the bike, I went out for dinner.  Nothing uneventful happened until I got home.  I pulled into the driveway, shut off the engine, put down the kickstand and climbed off.  Suddenly, what the hell is going on?  The bike is moving?  The bike fell away from me and although I initially tried to hold it, you can’t stop a 500lb weight from falling while you’re standing upright. 

The motorcycle came down on its right side with a crash and a crunch – the first time I’ve ever let the bike fall.  I’ve “laid it down” softly in the grass maybe twice in the first year I owned it, but it’s never had an uncontrolled fall. Until now.

My driveway is sloped (maybe designed that way for runoff, maybe it’s just settling) and I have always been a little weirded out that the bike sat near upright when it was on its kickstand.  This time I guess it was just a tiny bit over center.  I made the decision then that I would start parking the other direction so the bike would lean with the slope of the driveway, although at a more severe angle.

New resolutions aside, I had to get the bike back up and see what the damage was.  My first evaluation was that the mirror broke off and the taillight was crushed.  I used the standard technique for raising a dropped bike, the one that you may have been taught but never have to use, like changing a car tire.  I put my back to the bike, got a firm grip on the handlebar and wheel well then walked it back upright.

Additional inspection showed that the damage was limited to the two things I had first noticed.  No paint damage, no significant chrome damage, no dents.  Considering how violently it came down, I am amazed at the limit of the damage.

To avoid any opportunity to dwell on the incident, I purchased replacement parts right away.  I decided to replace the mirrors completely even though only one mirror mount was snapped off.  It’s something I’d been kicking around for a while since they were gathering some slight surface rust.  Hopefully, I can get back on the road within a week.

That Thing I Don’t Use

I can’t believe this.  The last post about my motorcycle is over three years ago.  Three Years.  And you know what it’s been doing in that time?  Sitting there.  Sitting outside.  I am a bad, bad owner.  And I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Today, I thought I would clean up the bike and maybe take it out for a ride tomorrow.  I had taken the bike’s battery out long ago (apparently very long ago) to prevent it from draining and dying (been there, done that).  But the battery still has a 95% charge, so I should be good to go.  I grabbed some rags and headed out to do some cleaning.  The bike is in understandably bad shape, having been left out in the elements for years.  I cleaned leaves out of various areas and then I found a hard-stop to my riding plans.  The fuel line has rotted and leaked gas out all over the place.  Sigh.

As I’m inspecting this issue, my neighbor comes over and asks what’s up.  I explain that I was going to try and clean up the bike for a ride and he tells me he’s noticed I haven’t been riding or taking care of my bike in a long time.  He wonders if I’m interested in selling it.  Apparently, he’s had multiple people ask him what’s up with the motorcycle in the driveway that never moves.  We chat a bit more and get talking about the fuel line.  My neighbor inspects it closely and says, yeah, it’s pretty much gone, you’ll have to replace that.  Should be pretty easy.  Then he pulls on the fuel line and finishes the job, breaking it off.  Well, I guess I have to fix it now.  Thanks.

As this is going on, a kid of one of my other neighbors comes over to see what’s happening.  Thankfully, the kid helps me get everything disassembled and disconnected (his dad has a motorcycle, too, so the whole family is handy).  I bought a new fuel line and it’s prepped for reinstall.  I’m leaving the bike all disassembled for now so I can get into every corner and clean it up.  There’s wasp nests all through it – wonderful.

On the topic of selling the bike, I threw out a random number to my neighbor.  The number is less than half the price I bought the bike for, which, given its current condition, is probably fair.  I don’t exactly want to sell the bike.  I love its styling.  It’s all paid off, registered and insured for the year, so it’s nice to have available should I want to use it.  But I haven’t used it for years.  Riding is generally a hassle because of the whole ceremony of getting ready and finishing up.  It’s not jumping in a car and leaving.

So, I’ll still attempt my cleaning and reassembly tomorrow.  We’ll see how I feel after a short ride as to keeping the bike or not.

As I finish this post, I just realized that the fuel line was only damaged at the one end.  I could have trimmed the hose and continued to use it instead doing of all this disassembly and replacement.  Maybe it’s for the best the whole fuel line was replaced.  Maybe I’m just an idiot.

The Tools of Efficiency

Oh, wretched neglect. 

I pulled my motorcycle, Nile, out after yet another long period of ignoring.  The poor thing was covered in cobwebs and everything in the trunk was mildewed to death.  I might need to buy a new trunk, it’s so bad.

But you know what?  I have pulled Nile out on average only once every six months and she has never let me down.  It takes a bit to start, but the battery is never dead, she never fails to eventually start, and she rides as solid as I would expect.  Because I ride so little, I can never tell if she’s riding poorly or not.

But it’s now beginning to be riding season here, with the deadly heat, bugs, and monsoon rains going away.  Which means it might be time to begin considering spending money on something different.  The bike needs new turn signals.  The rubber stalks are dry-rotted to the core and are literally crumbling apart.  So, I purchased new turn signals.  That will probably end up with a blog page, with pictures of the whole process.  And then, I’ll do the front signals.

In order to change out the front signals, I’ll need to take the front fork apart.  That requires a 22mm socket, which I don’t have.  You know what that means… shopping!

So, long story short, a 22mm socket is $7 at Sears.  But, they had a 255-piece tool kit on clearance that included a 22mm socket for only $180.  The decision was pretty easy.  See, the last time I bought tools was probably about 15 years ago.  It was an entry-level Craftsman socket set.  That set served me very well for all those years, but taken as a whole, my tool collection was pretty poor.  The sockets were “organized” in ziplock bags, the wrenches were incomplete, random, china-made castoffs.  Despite having a massive two-level rolling toolbox, I didn’t have any way to organize my tools.

Now with this set, every piece has a molded place in a removable tray.  My wrench set is fully complete and my socket set is expanded.  The kit makes the task of replacing the motorcycle turn signals a breeze, knowing I have the exact tools I need right at hand.  I don’t have to fish around for the right sockets or wrenches (usually discovering that the size I need is not in my collection).  Most importantly, finishing up means returning each piece to its proper place.  This will make me more productive in the long run.  It’s the same premise I based my office redesign on. (future post spoiler)  And despite having more tools now, having a cohesive set makes it seem like it’s one unit, instead of sets of sockets, wrenches, and screwdrivers.

But, back to the bike.  I have changed out the rear signals and I have been riding more.  I did recently  get soaked to the bone on one ride home from work – just like the good ol’ days.  And I still can’t complain that Nile has been rock-solid for me.


Tonight, I found myself talking to my bike, pretty much a one-sided conversation, I guess.  Her name is Nile.  My vehicles have names, but I usually don’t refer to them by their name in conversation.  For reference, the MX-5 is Isis.  Nile is named for her striking blue color – blue Nile.  Isis is named for her blue color as well, which is like the deep blue found in Egyptian art.  So, on with the story.  Using the names will make things so much easier.

  I was just finishing up polishing up the wax I had put on Isis (the MX-5) and I looked over at Nile (the Vulcan) sitting at the edge of the driveway.  I was overcome with a feeling of guilt.  Nile has been an incredible bike.  She’s only six years old and I’ve owned her for the last two.  She’s never complained, never broken down, always ready to go.  Every time I ride, she’s been safe and predictable.  And since Isis came along, she’s been a little neglected.

I still shine her up, but not before or after every ride like I used to.  She’s been left in the rain, which is something that pains me.  I’ve treated her to some nice jewelry – chrome pegs, bars, and grips, but still don’t give her all the attention she could want.

So when I’m washing and waxing Isis for the second time in a week, I see Nile quietly waiting for some attention.  The last couple times I went out for a ride I said I’d polish her up when we got back.  It never happened.  So I decided to try and make up a little bit of that tonight.

I went to the shed and got the quick detailer spray, figuring I could do a quick wipe-down.  And that’s how I started, hitting the front fender and the fork.  I got up to the mirrors and their posts and found myself mentally talking to Nile saying “that’s better, isn’t it?” All of a sudden, it wasn’t a quick wipe-down anymore.  Round and round the bike I went, cleaning more and more detailed areas and the sunlight started fading.  As I kept at the cleaning, I kept up the conversation, thanking Nile for the great service she’s always given and apologizing for not keeping up on her cleaning and maintenance.  The conversation made me emotionally invested in doing a good job.

I remember a time almost six months ago, I had run into another rider and we were talking about bikes.  I was riding Nile nearly every day at that time and I commented to him how strongly you can bond with your bike, like a horse and rider.  Ironically, the MX-5/Miata creed is “Jinba-Ittai”, Japanese for “Rider and horse as one”.  Indeed, if Nile was a horse, she’s been just as faithful, loyal, and forgiving.  And I’ve been a terrible owner.

Random Roads

I got to take a ride today.  It had been a little while since I had been out.  Last week I got the bike out and it made it to the driveway for about an hour and had to be put back for bad weather.

So this morning, I got the bike out and started riding before I really had a chance to second-guess myself.  I didn’t really have any destination in mind.  I had a quick thought about a road I always saw cars turning onto and I wondered why everyone wanted to take that road.  Where did it go?

So I went and found out what all the fuss was about.  It turned out to be a parallel road that goes to a neighboring town.  That’s good to know.  It’s good to have options when traffic or whatever happens.

Once in the neighboring town, I thought about what I would eat.  I had another memory that there was a pizza place across the road from the Boston Market that I had always ate at.  Whenever I would eat there, I would stare at this pizza place and wonder what it was like.  So, why not?  The pizza turned out to be pretty good and they had a good salad.  Not awesome, but nothing to stay away from.  While I was there, I could tell it was obviously a “family-run” business.  They had the kids in the back prepping food.  And as only young siblings would do, they were fighting.  Normal employees don’t tell each other to stop doing something and when asked why, state “because you suck at it!”


On the way back, I came across yet another road that I’d wondered where it went to.  It went parallel on the other side of the main route.  So I went out and back on either side of the main router between the cities.  Interesting.

As is evident in the picture, the clouds were pretty prevalent throughout the whole trip, so I got the bike back home and put it away.  When I was out, i didn’t see many bikes; maybe six.  Later that afternoon on the way to dinner, I saw just as many or more, but they were all battling the downpour we were all in.  And I was in my car.

Trip Log 11/26/09

In a previous blog entry, I took a ride to a local beach, but at the time the beach was closed for renovation, to be reopened in the fall.  Well, now it’s the fall and I headed back out to see all the new and great changes that I’d nothing to previously compare to.  It was a little late in the day, partly cloudy and about 65 degrees.  I got a few blocks and decided, no, I am not going to make this trip without insulation.  So I turned around and got my riding jacket’s rain liner, which is a great wind breaker as well.

Back on track, I realized, it’s pretty cold.  But I pressed onward and I made good time because of my comfort level at higher speeds.  Maybe a little over halfway there and I noticed there were some actual clouds ahead.  If it started raining, I would be in a huge amount of trouble in this temperature.  I got under the clouds and the temp dropped even further.  But, no rain.

I made it to that park again and as fate would have it, the beach is still under construction.  So, a good one and a half hour ride in the cold and wind for nothing.  I need something to cheer me up.  Oh, you poor thing.  Have a donut.


Thank you, I will.  That will have to do for now.  It’s now mostly cloudy and the temperature drop I had earlier under the clouds is the new normal.  So I slipped on my 2nd pair of slightly warmer riding gloves and blasted back home.  So cold.  So tired.  So disappointed.

Trip Log 11/22/09

Today was a beach trip.  To a different beach, on a different route.  That meant (oh boy) Interstate travel: 60 minutes at 70+ mph in chaotic conditions with a good wind.  I could see that there were storms to the north and south, but I seemed pretty safe in my path.

An uneventful trip to the beach and a fairly empty parking lot.  I had just gotten off the bike and gotten to the walkway when the parking authority vehicle pulled in.  I walk back to his truck and asked if he could break a $20 for the meters.  He told me not to worry and kept right on going.  Slow day, I guess.


So I got my pictures and took a leisurely ride up and down the local roads.  Not much traffic and what was there was casual.  Stopped at a local place to have a lunch.  The sandwich was not as I would have expected.  What is the deal with sticking a huge pile of meat between slices of bread?  You can’t get your mouth around it and all you taste is meat.  There’s a balance when making a sandwich: the meat-to-bread ratio (or meat-to-bun as I originally termed it for fast food).  You don’t want the flavor of the meat to be lost in the bread, nor do you want excess in the other direction.  Some places just don’t get it.

I did bring along the Zune HD, but I didn’t get to do any Internet surfing.  All the available networks were secured, insulting, or both.


So, I guess I won’t be going back there.  I should have had the burger.


Ride to Eat, Eat to Ride

Just a couple of random bike trips for food.  The first was to a place I’d not heard of before, although there are a few locations around here: Village Inn.  I hoped this would be like a King’s or Eat & Park from the northern area, but was a bit disappointed.  I tried the staple meal – burger and fries – but the burger had some seasoning or spice that wasn’t suiting me very well at all.  I could only eat a few bites of it.

It’s not all bad.  I gave up on the entree and went to dessert.  The chocolate pie was excellent and made up for most of the meal’s failure.


Then I went out to tourist country and ate at a Ponderosa.  It’s a location I’d been to before when I was not a local resident.  Interesting how differently you act towards attractions when you could go there every day…  Not that Ponderosa is an attraction, but Old Town is right there and it’s Halloween, which means they have a big push on the haunted house.


This meal I was treated to the excellent stories of a very special person behind me.  My impression is that he sees himself as some sort of consumer superhero.  As I understand the story, superboy was performing some bank transaction through the automated telephone service and answered some personal verification question wrong.  This immediately locked his account.  To resolve this, he called the bank directly.  I have no idea why, but he felt it necessary to disguise his voice, taking on the tone of an agitated old man with respiratory issues.  “Yes, this is so-an-so *cough cough hack snork* and you have locked my *cough COUGH* account with your damn computer *gag hack*.”  During this trial to get him verified, he answered all the questions correctly.  If he didn’t know one (and I’m not sure why he wouldn’t know his personal information), he would have a coughing fit to buy time.  Using typical hyperbole, he said they asked him a hundred questions.  Then using some sort of hybrid of hyperbole and stupidity, he said they asked him for his grandmother’s maiden name, but he answered using her married name.  The only thing I can deduce from these facts is that he was faking access to his father’s account (which would be his father’s mother’s maiden name).

Superboy goes off on a tangent.  Now he’s pissed because everything’s a ripoff.  Drinks are $2.50 (“that’s where they get ya”).  The onion rings cost an extra dollar (“That’s a scam.  They asked me if I wanted onion rings but never said it’d be an extra dollar.”).  But like my Village Inn dessert, it wasn’t all bad (“The 10% coupon I used paid for the extra charge for onion rings”) , but at the same time, he wasn’t letting go.  He somehow changes gears and relates a story about how he had to give a 7 cent refund to a customer because they felt they were incorrectly charged tax on a dollar item and how stupid and petty it was.  He somehow fails to relate his current bitching about the dollar upcharge to this story.

Please let me out of here.


Trip Log 7/5/2009

Today I decided to do a follow-up trip to the beach.  I had discovered another park with beach access that came highly recommended, so I headed out to that one.  This time, I was a little more prepared: I took my GPS and an atlas.

Let’s set something straight first.  This trip, I did not get rained on.  That’s an accomplishment in itself.  But the whole trip wasn’t a success.  I started out like I usually do, getting a bottle of water at the store on the way.  I should plan better for refreshments.  Then I made the run with only a brief stop for gas.  I found a place to eat right near my turn for the beach.


After a much-needed meal, I headed back the road to the park.  It was a very residential area, which seemed odd that a public beach would require travel through such an area.  But while slowly weaving through the roads, I saw signs directing to the beach.  Odd.  Once I got in the actual park, it seemed pretty empty.  I wasn’t sure if that was due to my late-day timing, or because the park wasn’t well-known.  A couple minutes through the park I got my answer.


The roadway to the beach, which is really just a big sandbar, is being renovated.  So I parked the bike and went walking to see how much I could see.  The answer: not much.


There was a nice picnic area and some benches for looking out at the water.  The beach itself was hidden by trees that must line the road heading to it.


So, this trip is rescheduled for the fall.  It seems like a nice place, and if it’s anywhere as uncrowded as it was today, it seems like a very nice place to visit.  Unfortunately, it is a couple of hours away.  I can’t remember the travel time for the usual beach, but maybe it’s comparable.