Saturday, September 24, 2011

MMMeee LIKE! Custom Scooters

If you know anything about me... I LOVE this stuff!

Here are some sweet custom scooters at the Thailand Bangkok 2010 Motorcycle show. As you know from my previous posts, any one one of these beauties can cost from $14 - $30K.

I long to attend one of these shows. America is enamored with its big cars and chopper style motorcycles. There are little opportunities to see scooters at a motorcycle show, let alone any custom models. I have tried to contact "Chopper" motorcycle shops in Chicagoland with zero result. When I tell them I want a "Pimped out japanese style scooter" they basically laugh and say they wouldn't waste their time. So my search continues.

Supposedly, most modified scooters are under 400cc because any bike over 250cc must undergo a bi-annual inspection and many of the modifications will not pass this inspection.

The theory is the scooters are lowed down to their bellypan, then lengthen and stretched the rear swing arm and extend the pipes.

Some of the scooters have a modified front and rear suspension with an installed air compressor. This allows the scooter to rise and lower (for park) by switch. The engine compartment is also moved back from the original location for the stretch. LEDs are also a must as well as a custom after market exhaust.

Incase you are curious of what it takes to make one of these babies. Click on this below to go to a Japanese blog ( you don't really need the translation-plenty of photos) and click through to see all the work involved just for the body modification. It's no wonder these little babies are so expensive.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Giving "The Wave" the "Finger"

Okay - The "Wave" Blah, blah, blah, blah...

Should I care if another rider acknowledges my presence on the road as a two-wheel rider?

Uh, no.

I get it... buy a motorcycle and you are now part of The Fraternity.. the belong to "The Club".


This is just another way to be divisive and this whole "acceptance" chestnut gets you nowhere in life. If you needed everyone's acceptance/approval for everything you did, you wouldn't get very far.

Basically: I.... don'

I will tell you why very quickly.

When I was a young artist just starting out, a restaurant where I worked allowed me to hang some of my paintings in one corner.

The next day, group of people were sitting at the booth and staring at my work..obviously not in "appreciation".

So I strolled up to take their order and leaned over conspiratorially said:

"I know, they're awful aren't they!"

They responded in total relief:

"OMG, they are TERRIBLE! " They all spoke at once, so eager to communicate their disgust.

I continued..."I know! And you know what... the person who painted these actually works here!"

"OMG!" They responded and began craning their heads, looking at the rest of the wait staff. "Who is it?"

"Me!" I proclaimed. "Now what would you like from the bar?"

Yeah... they did not stay very long.

See, if I had let those nice opinions of my work affect me, I wouldn't have risen to the level of artistic mediocrity that I enjoy today.

So I will keep riding..with approval of others... or without. It's either that, or I start painting again...and I don't think any of you want that.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Steel Grate Bridges and other slippery surfaces

A fat a$$ scooter in motion tends to stay in motion, unless the fat a$$ scooter is compelled to change its state.

As I ride down Route 53 to the Chicagoland Speedway I have to go over a steel grate bridge. Now these bridges are small and relatively easy to ride over. But a steel grate bridge and 2 wheels are not the best combination.

When scouting out a ride, encountering a steel grate bridge may cause you to change your entire route. Most bridges are not that "long" and can be ridden over easily. How anyone can ride two wheels on the Mackinac Bridge is beyond me. (5 miles long; 199 feet above the water). Maybe if fleeing a zombie apocalypse over the bridge was necessary... if I really needed to mainline some of that fine Mackinac fudge.. then maybe! I hear it can be done, by those with bigger balls than myself!

Any whooo... Riding over a Steel grate bridge is like riding on ice. You just have to make sure you keep your speed constant and let the bike roll you over the grates. Do NOT be afraid. As newtons law states, a body in motion tends to stay in motion. This motion will carry you forward over the grates. You will feel the slip and wiggle of your tires, but as long as you stay calm and maintain a loose grip on the handle bars, you will be fine. A little bit of throttle is okay, to keep your speed up, but gently does it.

Make sure there is plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you because you don't want to have to do a quick stop on the bridge.

If you want any practice, the steel grate bridges in Joliet Illinois are a good place to start. These bridges are relatively short and small with a small arc. I went over them about 4 times yesterday. Just for practice...(not really, it was because I got lost and had to go over one bridge twice...DERP!).

These small bridges will give you a wee idea of what you might be up against if you want to try something larger.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

LS 650 Suzukii Boulevard vs BV 500

Ya got a purty face

My BF just bought this sharp little bike on fleabay. It's a purty little thang. Small and light and a perfect starter bike or bike for someone who is vertically challenged.

After my BF rode the bike to my house, (about 32 miles) this was his initial impression.

Suzuki Boulevard S 40 - 650cc

Great starter bike for anyone. Sits low so the balance is good. Good pickup. Single cylinder so top speed not should not exceed 75 mph because it might put too much stress on the engine. But great gas mileage because it is only a single cylinder. Easy to maneuver and smooth on the highway.

The speedometer is not easy to see. At speeds above 75-mph, noticeable vibration in handlebars, but it is engine vibration, not road vibration. Most comfortable at speeds around 60-mph but no more.

Compared to my BV 500 scooter

The Boulevard wins this one because it is smaller and lighter and lower than the BV 500. In cornering and turns, it out performs the BV 500.

The BV 500 out performs the Boulevard in speed and smoothness in acceleration. The BV 500 is a smoother ride at higher speeds.

Starter Bike Capabilities:
This goes to the Boulevard. A BV500 is too much for a beginner to handle, both in power and weight.

Goes to the Boulevard as well, since it is only a single cylinder and the BV 500 is a two cylinder.

Highway Riding:
BV 500 is better. More power and more weight gives you a smoother ride. The Boulevard is great for side streets but is over it's head on the highway.

So basically the Suzuki Boulevard S 40 is a great little starter bike. But the BV 500 is not. Hmmm something we BV 500 owners all ready knew.

BV 500s - not for noobs!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

In which I ride my scooter to a funeral

Matthew Orland

I should ride my scooter to a funeral?

I posted this on MV and the responses varied.

I ended up riding the scooter.

The morning started off very damp and very foggy. Like the world was encased in cotton balls, muted and soft. Then, sun finally came out and the fog melted away. It was a beautiful early September morning. You could tell Fall is on it's way by the crisp bite in the air and in the slant of the light in the trees.

As funerals go, it was typical.

The service was too long. The choirs sang too much. People reminisced forever. At the luncheon there was a crowd of people with faces too young, and mountains of too much food. The pain was too great, and numbness was setting in. It was all too-much and heading for overload.

And underneath it all, was the death of a young man, not even 25 years old, who slipped away seemingly by accident. He slipped off that pontoon boat to swim, and slipped out of everyones lives.

Your parents dying. That is natural. We all know this is going to happen some day. My friends and acquaintances dying of AIDs even that became natural after a few years. After a while, you even understand, disease and cancer, that too is natural. You expect it. You can rationalize it.

A death like this is not natural and cannot be accepted. My own death or injury while riding, is a natural possibility and easier for me to understand than this.

There is no explanation. No reasoning, no logic, that can take away the sting of this loss for Matt's family and friends.

Without answers to my questions, I rode and found it beautiful. The sky was brilliant blue. The air soft and damp. The roads clear. My scooter handled well. As I rode I thought about a young man, the only son of my co-worker. Her only child, lost. And here I rode along, enjoying the day. Was this an effrontery in the face of a somber occasion? How could I enjoy this?

When I arrived at the crowded church, I looked around at all the too-young faces. Matt was a break dancer. He loved different music. He like beer and a quick laugh. He had seemingly hundreds of friends from all walks of life. Riding a scooter to a funeral with this lot was no big deal.

Beauty in the midst of pain. I suppose that is how the human brain works, at least mine does. This world is such a beautiful place, even in the midst of despair and pain, you cannot deny the beauty of life itself. Beauty within the humanity, in the shared loss. I saw this beauty in faces of those who came to pay tribute to this special young man.

I rode my scooter to a funeral because it was a beautiful, sad and tragic day. But above all it was beautiful. Loss cannot destroy it. Loss cannot eradicate it, it is impervious to any destructive force. It is woven into the blue of the sky, into the green of the trees and in the faces of those who are left behind. The ones who have to continue on without Matt.

We are gone too quickly from this beautiful place. Appreciating what we have, that is a gift too great to squander. I think Matt might have understood that. I can only guess.