Oct 30, 2019

You Can’t Have It Both Ways

Gangsters and cops have similar problems; they both want to have the public’s fear and respect. Fear and respect are, however, not the same thing and you can’t have one and the other.

Fear is easy to generate. You just have to be willing to do things decent people would never do. Shoot a few unarmed minority kids in the back and you have successfully terrified a community. Dress up like Hell’s Angels, Banditos, or the Outlaws and make more noise than a freight train hauling 100 tanker cars while the cops pretend they don’t see or hear you and you’ve sent a pretty powerful message to the public, “Even the cops are scared of us.” That’s fear.
Respect is what cops get when they run toward an “active shooter” when everyone else is running away. Respect is what firemen earn when they go into burning buildings to rescue people. Nobody respects bikers, but bikers aren’t bright enough to know fear from respect or they don’t care as long as they can convince themselves that they’re getting respect from the people they’ve terrorized.

Recently, our city police chief was asked, on Facebook, to explain the law surrounding Minnesota’s idiotic “Road Guard” legislation. Obviously, the questioner was pissed off at being detained by some nitwit pirate waving a pile of even dumber gangbangers through a public intersection. Being at the tailend of my life, between myasthenia gravis and CHF, I’ve pretty much had it with political correctness and fear. So, I commented on how stupid I think that whole law and pirate/gangbanger biker parades are. The response was expected and predictable, including the hilarious claim that pirate parades raise money for charities; as if it is impossible to contribute money to charities without the noise and air pollution of motorcycle exhaust.

Honestly, I didn’t expect any sort of rational response from either the police chief or the bikers. The bikers are flat out fun to fire up because they are consistently a pack of clueless nitwits.I really do hate the "road guard" legislation and our simpering wimp legislature totally bend over and took it up the ass from ABATE and the biker/gangster crowd in passing this total joke of a law. Asking working people to wait while a parade of incompetent jerks on tractors pretends to be doing something important really highlights the decadence in our lawless, irrational Failing Empire. There is NOTHING about a biker parade that is worthwhile and, at the least, a rational society would relegate this sort of silliness to unpaved farm roads. 

And that is exactly what I think.  

Oct 14, 2019

I Remember Liking This, I Think

Believe it or not, in late August I finally pretty much got the WR back together. It took all day to do it. Nothing went well. Thanks to my last season of commuting on Minnesota roads, the rear axle was rusted to the inner spacing sleeve; probably the result of too many months of neglect during the commotion between the end of my work life and retirement and the move to Red Wing. I spent a solid two hours working that axle out of the wheel. It came out cleanly but damn that was exhausting. 

Then, I clearly forgot everything I ever knew about removing a tire, because I made that job a lot harder than it should have been (do NOT forget the soapy water, dumb ass!). After wrestling with getting the tire off for way too long, I soaked the tire in soapy water and it practically fell off of the wheel. How do you forget lessons like that, outside off the likely Alzheimer's onset? I have probably replaced at least 250 motorcycle tires in my lifetime and used a few hundred gallons of soapy water in the process. The end of that project left me feeling like the dumbest guy in Minnesota.

The bolts that hold the rear sprocket to the wheel were about half-seized and there went another hour, just removing six bolts.The damn screw that holds the chain guard in place was seized, too. Another long, painful half-hour there.That was good timing, though. That plastic guard protects both the top and bottom of the swingarm from the chain was worn but not so much that the wear allowed the chain to do damage to the swingarm. That long-travel suspension can cause the chain to tear up both sides of the swingarm, but none of that had occured. I've replaced that guard routinely with every sprocket change, each time before it was a problem. s

The chain should have been easy, but since I did a dozen or so projects (that didn't require decent eyesight) between when I hauled my tools down to the basement and some friends helped me move the bike into the basement, I managed to bury my rolling garden seat into a corner and pile crap on top of it; which is where my chain breaking tool was finally found. Another hour down, so I ended up resorting to a clip master link, because I forgot how to use the damn tool for the riveted link and I was running out of day and patience. Finally, ready to install the rear wheel and . . . the damn rear aftermarket (Sumo) brake pads are clearly too thick. Another miserable hour burned. At least those giant thick pads ought to last a while.

Finally, the bike is all back together, except for some piddly stuff I can deal with later. And the freaking bike jack won't release. Patience gone, I pretty much ripped the bike off of the stand, wrestled it out of the basement and into the garage, and I'm done for the day. Tomorrow, I'll pick up the tool pile and haul it all up to the garage, sweep up the mess, install the new battery and front sprocket cover, and, maybe, have time for a short test ride. I sorta remember enjoying working on my motorcycles, but after today those memories might have been replaced with something else. I have really been enjoying the simplicity of working on my eBike and it might be a long stretch for me to get back to hassling with all of the unnecessary crap that comes with a full size motorcycle.

And that was my August "spring maintenance" day.

Oct 10, 2019

Ya Missed It

Because I managed to lose the email with the link to this auction, I didn't get the message to you all that this Sale of the Century was going on last week.

25 Year Collection of 500 "Motorcycles."

Oct 4, 2019

SOLD: 2008 Yamaha WR250X Supermoto

After a lot of anguish, changing-of-the-mind, and reminiscing, in early April 2020 I put my Yamaha WR250X up for sale on Craig's List. Mostly, due to health reasons, it's become more clear every day that I'm not going to be doing any big miles on a motorcycle from here out. I wish it weren't true, but it is.The bike sold after the ad had been online for about two weeks.

2008 Yamaha WR250X Supermoto

I have ridden my WR250X for 8 of the last 9 years commuting to work in St. Paul (10 miles round trip), over most of New Mexico and Colorado, and around even more of Minnesota and Ontario.  I am at the end of my 55 years of motorcycling. I love riding this motorcycle and it is the best all-around two-wheeled transportation I have ever owned. It really hurts to be selling it, but I haven't ridden it for a year and a half and I don't see that changing.

If you've read my Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly column, "Geezer with A Grudge," you've heard a lot about my experience with my WR250X. During the 9 years that I've owned this motorcycle it has been adventurous, economical (at least 55mpg under all conditions), interesting, versatile, reliable, dependable transportation. Thanks to Yamaha's terrific fuel injection system, the WR250X starts in any kind of weather, including -25F Minnesota winters. For all but the last year, my spring maintenance and trip preparation routines were almost as much a part of my motorcycle life as the actual riding. I replaced the chain, sprockets, rear tire, fluids, brakes, battery, and engine oil this past September (2019). The front tire has less than 500 miles of use. The bike has a little over 24,000 miles on the odometer.

Engine and Transmission
Displacement: 250.00 ccm (15.26 cubic inches)
Engine type: Twin, four-stroke
Power: 30.31 HP (22.1 kW)) @ 10000 RPM
Torque: 23.70 Nm (2.4 kgf-m or 17.5 ft.lbs) @ 8000 RPM
Compression: 11.8:1
Bore x stroke: 77.0 x 53.6 mm (3.0 x 2.1 inches)
Valves per cylinder: 4
Fuel system: Injection
Fuel control: Double Overhead Cams/Twin Cam (DOHC)
Ignition: TCI
Cooling system: Liquid
Gearbox: 6-speed
Transmission type, final drive: Chain
Fuel consumption: 3.31 litres/100 km (30.2 km/l or 71.06 mpg)
Chassis, Suspension, Brakes and Wheels
Rake (fork angle): 25.0°
Trail: 76 mm (3.0 inches)
Front suspension: Inverted fork
Front wheel travel: 269 mm (10.6 inches)
Rear suspension: Single shock
Rear wheel travel: 264 mm (10.4 inches)
Front tyre: 110/70-17
Rear tyre: 140/70-17
Front brakes: Single disc. Hydraulic disc. Hydraulic disc.
Front brakes diameter: 298 mm (11.7 inches)
Rear brakes: Single disc
Rear brakes diameter: 230 mm (9.1 inches)
Physical Measures and Capacities
Weight incl. oil, gas, etc: 136.0 kg (299.8 pounds)
Seat height: 894 mm (35.2 inches) If adjustable, lowest setting.
Overall height: 1,191 mm (46.9 inches)
Overall length: 2,115 mm (83.3 inches)
Overall width: 810 mm (31.9 inches)
Ground clearance: 259 mm (10.2 inches)
Wheelbase: 1,425 mm (56.1 inches)
Fuel capacity: 7.57 litres (2.00 gallons)
Oil capacity: 1.50 litres (0.10 quarts)
Accessories and Improvements
* IMS 3 Gallon durable, cross-linked Polyethylene Tank
* K&N Air Filter
* 14-54 Sprocket set (new) with Case Saver Kit
* Acerbis Handguards
* YamaLink WR250X Lowering Link
* Flatland Engine Case Bashplate
* easily removed Spitfire windscreeen
* RotoPax 1 Gallon Fuel Pack and mounting plate
I have the stock shock link, fuel tank, seat, luggage rack cover, and most of the stock parts that I've replaced with aftermarket bits.

I have always garaged this motorcycle (except when I bought it into my basement for maintenance) and I always do a complete maintenance before putting it away for the winter. After sitting untouched all winter, the motor fired up instantly with the new battery this spring, just like every other year. The engine does not use oil and my oil change interval has always been 3,000 miles. I always use Valvoline or Mobile One synthetic motorcycle oil. The valve clearances were last checked at 12,000 miles and they did not need adjustment. This motorcycle and I have done several 600+ mile days together and I wouldn't hesitate to take this motorcycle on cross-country mile trip in its current condition. If I only could, there is no chance I would be selling it today.

If you are looking for a test ride, be sure you bring a copy of your motorcycle endorsement, insurance evidence, at least a helmet and preferably real motorcycle gear, and a deposit. 

 And there she goes.

What Are They Selling?

Somewhere in this ad, there is supposed to be a motorcycle.

Oct 1, 2019

Making Friends Wherever We Go

A little more than 20 years ago, my oldest daughter lived in Daytona Beach. My grandson was born there. When she first moved to that beleaguered city, she really loved the place. She lived easy walking or bicycling distance from the ocean, work was a short bike ride every morning, the weather was almost always perfect, her rent was cheap, and the hospital where her son was born (prematurely) was very competent. And then the first month of March rolled around and with it rolled in a half-million bikers and their noisemakers. Her last year in Daytona, 2000, was a record breaker (until 2006) with 15 motorcycle deaths highlighting the 10-day “event.” The noise and pollution from that many illegal motorcycles in a confined space with “law enforcement’ turning a blind eye to everything from burnouts on residential streets to guns fired at all times of the day and night to wannabe gangbangers hanging out anywhere there was something to slouch against convinced her that Florida was no place to raise a kid. It also made things a little tense between us for a while, when she was reminded of my daily motorcycle commute. 

My experience with biker events started long  before that. In 1974, my local (Nebraska) Suzuki dealer was looking to make a dent in the off-road racing sales and service and winning an event or two at the Black Hills Motor Classic was one of his marketing targets. I got tagged to help with his entries in the hill climb, the motocross, and the cross country races. I planned to ride a TM250 for the last two events and we both thought we’d take a shot at the hill on a TM400 Cyclone with big paddle-style tires. 1974 was the first year, I think, for vendors and he’d brought stuff to sell; dirt bike stuff. I think we knew we were in the wrong place with the wrong stuff the moment we drive into the pit area. The motocross event was so normal it was practically non-existent. There were only a few riders, mechanics, parents, and people who looked like they belonged at a motocross and a lot of people who looked like they came straight out of a Dennis Hopper-cast biker movie hanging around the vans, trailers, and any bike that wasn’t being watched closely. We immediately scrapped out plan to camp out in the pit area in tents and opted for waiting to see how things played out at the first races. 

Later that day, the kind of stuff for which Sturgis became infamous began to happen; fights, drunks staggering through the pits looking for fights, tools and bikes stolen, motorcyclists hassled by bikers, and it was really obvious that this wasn’t a motorcycle event. Sore loser performance art? I was pretty much stuck in South Dakota until my friend made up his mind. Since the only things I’d brought were my riding gear, I snagged a ride east with some folks who had also decided to give it up for lost and go back home. They dropped me off in Rapid City and I found a bar near a motel on the west end of town and a phone booth (remember those?). I called my wife to let her know she didn’t have to worry about me getting banged up on the motocross track. A few hours later, my Suzuki dealer/friend showed up; frustrated, bummed-out, and angry. Things back in Sturgis got worse after I left and he’d seen all he needed to see of bikers and the Black Hills Motor Classic. Almost 50 years later, I do not remember what his past experience had been with the event, but I am pretty sure he’d raced there at least a few times previously. We drove straight back home that evening. Back home, there was lots of bad press about the gangsters and hoodlums who had run wild in South Dakota. Being known as a motorcyclist wasn’t a good social move for a long while. 

The next motorcycle rally/event I intentionally experienced was the Steamboat Springs Vintage Motorcycle Weekend in Colorado that ran from 1981 to 1998. Steamboat ended, when the high-rent development in that once-really-cool-town ate up all of the rideable real estate and priced motorcycles out of town. I started going to Steamboat in 1992 and went every year from then to the end. It was a great motorcyclists’ event. For at least 5-6 years, the event was really popular with the local folks, too. That is UNUSUAL! Typically, the locals hate motorcycles, motorcyclists, and bikers by the time an event is over. I’ve spent a lot of miles prowling around South Dakota and if you aren’t on a Harley you will often get an earful of what the locals really think of bikers and the Sturgis train-wreak. For a surprising number of years, that was not the case for Steamboat Springs.

For one, the only noisy bikes at Steamboat were the race bikes--on the track --where noise and race bikes belong. For two, Steamboat wasn’t a gangbanger event, but a motorcycle event that was more about motorcycles and riders than any of the previous two described events could ever hope to be. Instead of partying like drunk circus bears, the late evenings in Steamboat were often folks sitting around a campfire telling adventure touring or racing stories. The motorcycles, both the competitors’ and the fans’ motorcycles, were unusual. No chrome and LED gunked-ujp hippobikes or suspension-mangled sportbikes, but lots of odd and interesting stuff I never saw before and haven’t seen since; outside of coffee table books. The thing to takeaway from Steamboat is that motorcyclists and motorcycles don’t have to be Public Enemy #1. as weird as it sounds, a motorcycle event could be about creating good will between the 99.999…% of the public who do not ride motorcycles and those of us who do. Otherwise, it’s safe to assume motorcycling’s days on public roads are numbered and we’re likely to end up as the same kind of history as horses and buggies and all of the other unlicensed recreational vehicles. Think about it.