Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Alan Smith, Hypermiler

     When this streamliner showed up at The Project Livewire Experience, I had to take a close look. I spoke to the pilot, Alan Smith. He said that the bike had gotten 181.6 miles to the gallon in Ohio. He was referring to The Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge held July 11, in Lexington, Ohio. 
     Smith won in the traditional fuels class on 154 mile course in Central Ohio. The course followed posted speed limits and had to deal with traffic. Under that streamliner skin, Smith's bike is a Kawasaki 250 Ninja.
     Smith said he has an improved kit that will make your bike into a hypermiler.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Project Livewire, Harley Davidson's Electric Motorcycle

    When I learned that the new Harley Davidson electric bike was going to be at our local dealer, I headed right over to sign up. Perhaps they recognized me as the noted motojournalist that I am in my dreams, but more likely there were enough rides to go around.  At any rate I was invited to come and ride the Project Livewire Electric Motorcycle. 

The Project Livewire truck set up in the Sonoma County Harley Davidson parking lot.   


  I talked to Mike Daniels, the west coast tech for the Project Livewire Experience. He said there were 33 of the hand built bikes in existence. He said there were 11 on on tour on the west coast, 11 on the east coast and 11 in Europe.
   I really liked the bike it was fast, fun and light. I had no problem transitioning from a gasoline engine to an electric motor. The bike uses regenerative braking which helped to make the bike feel like it was well under control at all times. The bike is fast and since there is no shifting it feels like the thing would accelerate forever. 
   The one thing I didn't like was the sound. Harley Davidson is obviously very concerned that the bike have a distinctive sound, a recognizable Harley signature sound. I suspect that the sound of this motorcycle is made by something other than its motor and gears. At any rate the sound of the bike was annoying. 
   So would this motorcycle sell? That's the million dollar question. If these things were as cheap as scooters, there might be one in every garage in America, but I don't see the words inexpensive and Harley Davidson often used in the same sentence.
   Poor range, the bugaboo of both electric car and electric motorcycle, is the main problem. The commuter market would probably be the place for the Livewire. Ride to work then plug in, ride home and plug in, repeat.
   Will this bike become a production bike, problematic, however the bike is already a success because of the publicity and interest it has created. It might also influence how R&D projects are viewed by the Harley Davidson Motor Company in the future. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

          We had some storms come through wine country the other day. I stopped and took this photo with my cell phone.  I did get a little wet.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Famous Road Signs, Half Way to the North Pole

Also half way to the equator, this sign is really in the middle (of nowhere).  It's on Highway 97 west of Shaniko, Oregon.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Frank from Walla Walla

     Marie and I stopped at Fat Cats bar in Walla Walla, Washington to wait out a rain storm and maybe have a couple of beers.  Frank came over and introduced himself.  He said he was 82 years old and because of his age had just given up riding.  He pulled out a photo of himself on his Electra Glide.  
     He was really proud of that bike and you know what that motorcycle meant to him that he carries its picture around in his pocket. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Devil's Tower

     The Devil's Tower is about 80 miles from Sturgis and makes a nice day ride.  It's also one of those places you really should see during your lifetime.  

     It gets hot in the Black Hills and the Park Service set up a mist spray in the parking lot, it sure felt good.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Sweet Little Missouri Mule

     I first saw Mark Richman's very cool 2003 Honda XR400R at The Horse Bike Show.  The details were amazing.  Everywhere you look on this bike there is something interesting.  Mark calls his bike Missouri Mule partly because the seat is attached with a mule shoe.  He said he used a mule shoe because they are longer than a horse shoe and fit the seat better.  Mark is also from Missouri so the name was a natural fit.
     I learned that Mark was staying near my place in Nemo, so I hit him up for some photos.  The XR 400 R was introduced by Honda in 1996 and Mark's was made in 2003 the last year of production. Mark's bike would never be mistaken for the red plastic XR that Honda built.

     The original XR had a 2.5 gallon plastic gas tank, Mark's metal tank holds 3.2 gallons and has a cool patina.  This XR needs some extra fuel because it gets ridden.  

     Some bikes with lots of detail look over done but Mark's bike has made the leap from motorcycle to art work.

     I think that artistic detail combined with the obvious fact that this bike gets the heck ridden out of it, convinced Matt Olsen, one of The Horse Bike Show judges, to give this little XR the throphy.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

Deadwood Rain Storm

     We took a ride to Deadwood.  The weather was nice and we left the rain gear behind.  I thought that if a thundershower came through, we would just wait till it passed.

     We enjoyed the warm sun on Deadwood's brick sidewalks.  We people watched and be bike watched.  We went to Saloon No. 10, where Wild Bill Hickok was shot while playing cards.

Then some weather blew in.

     The rainfall set records and it didn't blow over.  It rained for hours.  We holed up and I kept an eye on the Weather Channel Radar Map.  It has a unique feature that projects what the weather will be in the near future.  The map showed that there would a small break at 8:00 PM.      

     At 8:00 PM we were ready.  We scored a couple of large black trash bags from the kitchen staff at a hotel, poked our heads and arms through and we were ready.  Sure enough at the appointed time, the rain quit and we took off.  We made it back to Nemo and didn't get wet.
     We asked someone in the parking lot if they would snap a photo,
the photo came out a little blurry, but you get the idea.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Famous Road Signs, Novak, South Dakota

     Novak is a ghost town now. It was a mining town. The mining began in Novak around 1903 and by 1907 the mine began to turn a profit. The mining company built some houses and a school. The Black Hills & Fort Pierre Railroad built a spur to the town.
     Unlike Deadwood the town of Novak had no saloons or dance halls. When the mine petered out people left Novak. Novak is about 3 miles northwest of Nemo on the way to Deadwood.

     Novak is only one of many ghost towns in Lawrence County, South Dakota. Some of the other abandoned towns are Blacktail, Carbonate, Crook City, Flatiron, Greenwood, Maitland, Ragged Top, Tinton and Trojan are all there. Maybe next year when I go to Sturgis I'll ride out and have a look at a them. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sturgis, The Horse Magazine Bike Show

     My favorite event at Sturgis is The Horse, Backstreet Choppers magazine bike show, at The Full Throttle Saloon.

     My favorite part of the bike show is checking out the details.  I love to see things re purposed as bike parts. These builders are so sharp and subtle that I'm sure I missed most of the really great stuff.


     Some Stampeders came to Sturgis for the show. (left to right) Mr. Miyagi (Steff Brooks), Stampeder and owner of 86 Customs, Grampaw (David Gooden), senior Stampeder and Gary "Smoke" Forberg who started his first Stampede this year.
     Charlie Davis, El Nomad, writes for The Horse magazine (left) was a judge at the show. Grampaw brought his family who scored some swag at the show's raffle. It was really nice to see everyone there.

     But bike shows are all about bikes...