Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Famous Road Signs, Dead Man's Curve

     This sign is located just outside of Sierraville, California on Highway 49 and refers to the fifteen miles to Downieville.  It's a good warning as there are some really tight corners that are at best flat and at worst off camber.  
     Deep shade on the curves keeps moisture from evaporating.  We were there in mid November and it was quite cold, I'm betting that there could be ice on those curves at night and early morning.
     So, thanks for the warning.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I Ride the Indian Scout



     I went to the International Motorcycle Show at San Mateo.  There were several of the big manufacturers giving test rides.  I wanted to ride the new Indian Scout and the line was short so...














     I signed up to ride and the bike I got to ride was this blood red model.
     The test ride was about a half hour and covered a good distance both in town and on freeways.  I really liked the Scout.  It is supposed to have around 100 hp and it is fast and very smooth.  The seat is comfortable and the riding position feels like you could put on a lot of miles without fatigue.  The bike could use a better fork.
     With a price tag around 11 grand, I'm not sure I would buy one, but, like I said, I really liked the bike.






Monday, November 10, 2014

Took My Ol' Harley for a Three Day Cruise

     My friend Greg called to say he had three days off.  A three day cruise sounded terrific.   

     Three days is the perfect amount of time for a rambling cruise through the Sierras. 




























     Ebbetts Pass is about 200 miles from my home in wine country.  To get there, cruise through the Sacramento Delta and through the California Gold Country, then into the High Sierras on Highway 4.  Much of the road over the pass is a very winding one lane road.
     Once over Ebbetts Pass we stopped at the Wolf Creek Inn at Markleeville, a tiny town on the eastern side of the Sierras.  Then it was on to Monitor Pass.


































   


     After Monitor pass we hit Hwy 395 near Topaz Lake and turned north to Reno.  We stayed in Reno, total distance about 250 miles, a great days ride.




























     Next day we left Reno headed north to Highway 70 where we turned west toward Quincy.  It was hot in Quincy, it always is during the summer, so we gassed up and headed into the Feather River Canyon.
    We spent the second night in Chico and hit the Sierra Nevada brewery.  Then an easy ride home, perfect three day cruise.

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 Tavern 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.