Friday, November 20, 2009

A Lifeline for Buell?

From a press release dated November 20:

New Venture Will Build Buell 1125R-based Racing Motorcycles and Supply Parts

Milwaukee, Wis. (November 20, 2009) - Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE:HOG) announced today that following the company’s recent decision to discontinue the Buell motorcycle product line, Erik Buell, Chairman and Chief Technical Officer of Buell Motorcycle Company, will leave the company to establish Erik Buell Racing, an independent motorcycle race shop.

Erik Buell Racing will specialize in the supply of race-use-only Buell motorcycle parts and race preparation services for engines and motorcycles, and the building and sale of Buell® 1125R-based race-use-only motorcycles under license from Harley-Davidson, as well as providing technical support to racers of Buell motorcycles.

“I’m looking forward to helping Buell racers keep their bikes flying,” said Erik Buell. “We’ve got some exciting race development projects in the works and it will mean a lot to me personally to see Buell racers competing for wins and championships in the 2010 season and beyond.”

“I’m pleased that Harley-Davidson is assisting Erik in establishing this business to continue supporting the racing efforts he has had so much passion for over the years,” said Buell President and COO Jon Flickinger. “Harley-Davidson and the Buell Motorcycle Company will always be proud of their affiliation with Erik, and we wish him well in this new endeavor to support Buell racers.”

Erik Buell Racing will be based in East Troy, Wisconsin and will be staffed by Erik Buell and a veteran team of personnel. For more information, after December 1, 2009, contact:

Erik Buell Racing, LLC
2799 Buell Drive, Unit C
East Troy, WI 53120

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cooking With Gas(oline)

How to make a Smartuki: Add one GSX-R1000 engine to one Smart Car. Stir until ingredients are blended. Bake at 12,000 rpm until tires are smoking hot. Serves one or two.

More recipes here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Unpopular Opinions: Be Careful What You Wish For

Sometimes well-intentioned actions produce an outcome that’s the opposite of what was originally intended, or they solve one problem while creating another that’s just as bad. Let’s say you drive a gas guzzler and you’re feeling guilty about your contribution to global warming. So you sell the guzzler and buy a smaller, more fuel-efficient car.

But have you really made a difference? You sold your old car to someone who will go right on driving it, and you bought a new car to replace it. Now there are two cars on the road where there was only one to begin with. You haven’t done anything to reduce global warming; if anything you’ve made it worse. All you’ve really done is sell your guilt.

You can see the potential for this sort of backfire in the effort to promote motorcycles as a viable transportation alternative, and convince people to leave their cars at home and ride bikes to work, to school, to the grocery store...well, maybe not the grocery store. As someone who didn’t own or have access to a car for about a year back in the 1970s, I can tell you the number of round trips I had to make to Safeway on a CB500/Four just to keep the cupboards half full was more than enough to offset any savings on gas.

There are more good reasons why riding a bike instead of driving a car just doesn’t pencil out. If the price of gas is putting a serious hurt on you, what do you think the monthly payments on a bike will do? Then there’s riding gear—a helmet, a jacket and pants, gloves, boots—none of which you need in your car. Throw in another insurance policy, and the price of maintenance and tires, then factor in the number of days each year when it’s too hot, too cold, or too wet to ride, or the task at hand demands a device with a trunk, seating for more than two, and some weather protection—days the motorcycle sits in the garage unused—and it’s obvious why you’re never going to get Joe and Mrs. Suburbia to trade in the Tahoe for a couple of scooters.

But suppose they did, along with hundreds of thousands of other people, making one of the motorcycle industry’s fondest wishes come true. That would be a good thing, right?

Wouldn’t it?

More riders will inevitably result in more crashes and fatalities, no matter how well trained those riders are. That will attract the attention of legislators, regulators, insurers, a national media already convinced that motorcycles are death machines, and—you might want to send the children out of the room now—lawyers.

This will inevitably lead to more restrictive laws—mandatory DOT-approved fully armored protective jacket and pants laws, anyone?—more public backlash as a few bad apples suddenly become entire orchards of them, and in general the kind of governmental scrutiny on the local, state, and federal level that motorcycling has so far escaped by virtue of being too small an insect to bother swatting very hard.

Currently motorcyclists can argue that they should be exempt from emissions regulations because they constitute a small minority of road users. But if the number of bikes on the road gets high enough, that excuse won’t fly. If you laughed when you saw the optional air bag on the latest Honda Gold Wing, you probably won’t think it’s very funny when it’s a government-mandated requirement on your dual-sport, along with a roll cage, arm restraints, and any number of half-assed “safety” features thought up by know-nothing politicians.

The sad thing is I’m pretty sure I’ll live long enough to see some of this stuff anyway. So why hurry it along? Next time someone asks you why you ride a motorcycle, tell them it’s because you’re too poor to afford a car. Don’t let on how much you enjoy it. The longer we keep the secret, the longer the fun will last.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Motorcycle That Builds Itself

Cool, but what we really need is a bike that makes its own payments.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Craigslist Motorcycle Ads Decoded

“It ran when I parked it.” ...six years ago under the awning on the side of my motorhome with the gas cap open so the bad gas would evaporate.

“No title, but I have a bill of sale.” ...written on the back of a Taco Bell napkin. The seller’s handwriting wasn't too good, so you can tell the DMV you bought it from me. I’ll back you up if anybody asks.

“Very rare.” Nobody bought them when they were new.

“Classic.” They don’t make parts for them any more.

“Starts with no problem.” Unless kicking it over for 30 minutes is a problem.

“Minor surface rust.” All minor surfaces are rusted.

“Don’t need it any more.” Don’t want it any more.

“Will consider trades.” Anything has got to be better than this.

“Great commuter bike.” Slow and dull.

“Gets great gas mileage.” Uses a quart of oil every 100 miles.

“Perfect Christmas present.” For me, if you pay cash.

“No time to ride.” Had to get second job to pay speeding tickets.

“Never been dropped.” Fell over by itself a few times.

“Tags good until 2011.” As soon as you pay for them.