May 29

Mayor John Rhodes of Myrtle Beach effectively kicked the Myrtle Beach Bike week out of town this year. The two best known rallies, the Harley-Davidson Dealers Association Spring Rally and the Atlantic Beach Memorial Day Bikefest, were never sponsored by the city and as such the Mayor couldn’t “cancel” them. But the city of Myrtle Beach has passed a list of ordinances that effectively prevent the rallies from taking place in City of Myrtle Beach.
Click here for new rules and ordinances for Myrtle Beach
The Mayor is certainly bucking a trend. Cities and towns around the country are actively appealing to bikers. In fact, at least five cities close to Myrtle Beach and Horry County are taking pains to make it quite clear they don’t share Myrtle Beach’s aversion to motorcycles.
On the other coast, Bikernewsonline reports the city of Temecula California last year began seriously backpedaling to get back the bikers an overzealous police force had run away. The owner of an antique store complained about the noise from some bikes. A word from the police chief and things eventually escalated to the point of fishnet style busts where bikers were pulled over in groups and ticketed for non-DOT helmets and aftermarket pipes. One officer was reported to have told a biker that, “their kind,” wasn’t welcome there.
Several biker forums began calling for a boycott of the Old town area. The chamber of commerce began hearing from business and took action. Police chief Jerry Williams, himself a bike owner, acknowledges some problems and says there will be some changes. The city is now going out of it’s way to make bikers feel welcome.
It isn’t 1960, and bikers of the early 21st century are an economic force to be reckoned with. The cash weekend motorcyclists bring to town is not something to be lightly ignored.

Motorcycles line up along the street at the BOO rally in Jefferson Texas

Motorcycles line up along the street at the BOO rally in Jefferson Texas

— Guy Wheatley

May 27

I’m not as young as I used to be. Since I’ve only been riding a bike for about three years now, I don’t really have memories of riding when I was in my twenty’s to compare with riding now. I’m sure there would be a big difference. There is in the things I can remember.
My chiropractor has me doing exercises every night now to keep my back, neck and hamstrings limber. I remember when exercise was to build bulk and impress the girls. Now it’s to keep me ambulatory.
The longest one day run I’ve taken was a 475 miles from San Antonio to Texarkana. I’d planed to make it a two day trip, but the wife and I were ready to get back home after a week’s vacation, so we just kept going. We handled it pretty well. But recently, even shorter rides seem to take more of a toll on me. Sometimes, just a couple of hundred miles will almost do me in.
I wear a back brace when my lower back threatens me. The stretching exercises keeps my shoulders and neck more limber. But the days when I can just hop on anything and go until the gas is gone are past. I took the leather off my $400 Corbin seat and let a friend take a grinder to the padding. We glued some wings to the side and had the cover put back on by a pro. People were amazed that I was willing to cut into a Corbin. When you hurt bad enough, you’ll cut up anything. It helped.
As I gain more experience in life, (That’s a euphemism for getting old!) I find that comfort isn’t a luxury.

— Guy Wheatley

May 21
Bagging it
icon1 Guy | icon2 Wrenching | icon4 05 21st, 2009| icon3No Comments »

I bought generic saddle bags for my Magna. I don’t even remember the brand. They were real leather from a local shop and were throw over the yoke design that would fit my bike. I mounted them with the cross over piece under the seat. For the first few weeks everything was OK, but then they started to sag down onto the pipes. I’d tighten up the yoke, eventually making new holes for the laces. But eventually they’d sag back down again. Then they started loosing their shape with the outer edge drooping down onto my pipes.

<font size=2, face=arial, color=000000>saddle bags resting on the exhaust pipes. They'd get a little warm on the bottom..</font>

saddle bags resting on the exhaust pipes. They'd get a little warm on the bottom..

Of course I could just replace them with hard bags, but I’ve got a few reasons not to. Actually, I don’t have about 400 reasons to get new ones. So I did what so many other poor bikers have done. I fabricated braces. Some time last year, I had a local machine shop make a couple of T-shapes with holes drilled to fit the bolts on my rear fender assembly. I had them bend out the bottom of the T for the bags to sit on. When I got ready to install them I discovered that they were too long, coming down and touching the pipes. So they sat for a year while I pondered.
Last weekend I decided to finally put on the new rear tire I’d bought. I pulled off the back wheel, removed the old tire and cleaned up the rim. My relief at how easily the new tire went on was short lived as I discovered that it was a 16 inch tire. I needed a 15 inch.
So I’ve been waiting since then for the new tire to come in. I figured that while I had the back wheel off was a good time to get those brackets put on. I cut the arm piece off the T. The ¼ inch of metal the angle grinder ate out was just enough to correct the length. I welded them back on to the shorter shank. I then welded on a piece of plate steel on the bottom for a larger place for the bags to rest.

<font size=2, face=arial, color=000000>Left bracket in place.</font>

Left bracket in place.

Now,when I say I welded, what I mean is that there was electricity involved along with molten metal, and eventually two pieces of steel stuck together. An hour or two with the angle grinder and most of the blobs and splatters were gone. Of course the pits where I blasted metal out are still there. Oh well, a little filler and a little paint. These things will be hidden by the bags anyway.
With the back wheel off, getting to the bolts was a lot easier. I’d spent about $10 on four stainless steel bolts that were ¼ inch longer, lock washers, and nuts. I put the bolts back in backwards so that the acorn nut was now on the outside. This is so I can remove the brackets with out having to pull the bolts out. Putting everything back together I discovered that the new bolts were too long. The old bolts were just right.

<font size=2, face=arial, color=000000>Bags back on Maggie.</font>

Bags back on Maggie.

So, $10 on needless parts, $25 on the original fabrication by the machine shop, Another $10 for some plate steel, some skinned fingers and a few assorted burns later and I’ve got bag braces.

<font size=2, face=arial, color=000000>Bags are now up off the pipes.</font>

Bags are now up off the pipes.

I wonder what it’ll cost to get them chromed.

— Guy Wheatley

May 19

With the beautiful weather, bikers are hitting the road in increasing numbers. Unfortunately, the number of biker related accidents is also going up. A man on a motorcycle was killed in Texarkana Monday. This is the second motorcycle accident in a seven day period.
Early reports indicate that the driver of a 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander stopped at a stop sign, but didn’t see the biker and pulled out in front of him. The biker wasn’t wearing a helmet. It is believed he was killed instantly.

Staff photo by Megumi Rooze Texas-side police officers investigate the scene where a collision killed a Texarkana man Monday at Pine and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Staff photo by Megumi Rooze Texas-side police officers investigate the scene where a collision killed a
Texarkana man Monday at Pine and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

There is a lot of venting on several forums I belong to about the carnage caused by careless car drivers. There seems to be the perception among some bikers that “cagers,” as drivers of cars and trucks are called, are out to get us. That somehow the life and safety of a motorcyclist is not as important to them as that of other drivers.
As both a biker and a cager, I know how hard it is to see motorcycles. The internet is full of studies about how physics and human perception make it more difficult to spot something the size of a motorcycle moving at speed. If science doesn’t prove it to you, then statistics should.
If you’re going to ride a motorcycle you must take responsibility for your own safety. You need to understand and believe that you are invisible. Right of way and right or wrong simply do not enter into it. Every motorcycle will lose every argument with even the smallest car. The most effective thing a biker can do for safety is wear a helmet. I’m frequently dismayed at the number of bikers who insist that “Loud pipes save lives,” while turning their noses up a helmets. Neither statistics nor studies indicate that loud pipes contribute to safety while countless studies, statistics, and common sense tell us that helmets do.

— Guy Wheatley

May 18
A New Division
icon1 Guy | icon2 News | icon4 05 18th, 2009| icon31 Comment »

2002 92 ci Victory Touring Cruiser

2002 92 ci Victory Touring Cruiser

Polaris Industries announced on their website the creation of a new division called the On-Road Vehicle Division. (Polaris web site.)
The site then goes on for about a page listing the shuffling of executives in an organizational restructuring. The site also says that Victory Motorcycles will be a strong component of the companies drive to “Establish a strong on-road presence.”
The thing is, as far as I know, Victory Motorcycle IS Polairs’ on-road presence. They make Snowmobiles, quads, off road utility vehicles, and even some military hardware. There is nothing else on their website that rolls out of the plant street legal. So if Victory is only going to be a part of their on-road presence, what is the other part? Are they going into the automobile business? If so, this is an interesting time to start a car company. Or maybe they’re just going to pick one up at fire sale prices.
From my personal stand point, the best thing they could do to improve their on-road presence, is bring a dealership back to Texarkana. There was one here when I bought my V92TC. (Victory Touring Cruiser. 92 cubic inches.) I wouldn’t have bought it if there hadn’t been a dealer in town at the time. I’m even considering selling it for that very reason. It’s been a good bike, but I don’t relish the thought of trailering it 120 miles to Hot Springs for something I can’t fix myself.
It will be interesting to see what Polaris has up it’s corporate sleeve. I just hope it gets me closer to a dealership.

— Guy Wheatley

May 12

James T. Kirk on his hub-less bike heading for a Star Fleet recruitment center.

Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures
James T. Kirk on his hub-less bike heading for a Star Fleet recruitment center.

I saw Star Trek this weekend. I had many questions but the most pressing one was of course, “What kind if bikes will we be riding in the 23rd century?” I’m not too sure I got a good answer. Cool ones I guess. I thought it was odd that when James T. Kirk was about 9 or 10-years-old, police were riding really great flying bikes. But then, presumable 10 or 15 years later, we see James T as a young adult, riding a bike with Wheels. I mean the kind that roll along on the ground and get dirt on them. The kind used by motorcycles that don’t fly.
It was also hub-less and shaped like a sport bike. I guess the sport bike design will prove to be classic. It wasn’t a cruiser, but then again you wouldn’t expect a 20 something-year-old Kirk to be chasing women on an old cruiser. Of course he’d be on a hot sport bike. But, it didn’t fly, or hover, or heck it didn’t even do a wheely.
I also couldn’t catch a brand name on either of the bikes. I will say that the police bike looked a lot like a wheel-less Victory Vision. It had that under bite on the front faring that looks just like the Vision. But, I couldn’t catch a name or logo. One wonders which of the venerable names of two wheeled transportation will still be in business by the time the Enterprise takes to the skies.
But two quick looks at the front of the movie was all we got. Then the rest of the movie was all about spaceships and blowing up planets and stuff. They never did get back to the bikes.

— Guy Wheatley

May 7
icon1 Guy | icon2 Bikes, Wrenching | icon4 05 7th, 2009| icon31 Comment »

Sitting on a 2010 Honda Fury

Sitting on a 2010 Honda Fury

There’s a new ride in town. The Honda Fury has shown up at a local dealership. If you want to see it, you’d better get there fast. This thing has been all over the forums. I’ve even seen posts on the V-4 forums by guys who say they’ll trade in their bike for one. Trade in a V-4 for a V-twin? Surely this is blasphemy. There has been a lot of anticipation for this particular bike. I must confess to being a little bemused by it. The idea of a production chopper seems almost oxymoronic.
Choppers have classically been custom bikes, each one hand made and no two alike. They were as individual as each owner had the money or skill to make them. They were expressions of each owners tastes and personality. They didn’t compete with sport bikes for speed, or cruisers for comfort. Most don’t even have a pillion seat. They can carry a rider with what ever he has in his pockets. Their purpose was to be an individual statement.
So we now have choppers rolling off the assembly line in cookie cutter repetition. There will of course be a following, and clubs and forums will pop up dedicated to this particular machine. It’s riders will pass final judgement on the bike’s merits, and will eventually define the culture that surrounds it. It will be interesting to see what niche the Fury has carved out for itself in two years.

May 6
Where was the RE-5
icon1 Guy | icon2 Bikes | icon4 05 6th, 2009| icon31 Comment »

I caught the episode of “Twist the Throttle” on Suzuki. As one might imagine, there was a lot of focus on the GSX and GSXRs. The show was interesting, but it was really more about the GSX series of bikes than it was about Suzuki. They did mention that Suzuki started out as a factory that made looms and was forced into the motorcycle business. From that point on the show focused on the development of the bikes that came to be know as “Gixxers.” Watching the show one would assume that every step was a complete success and that every attempt to reinvent the company or product lead to global acclaim, and financial rewards.
Where was the RE-5? These 497cc rotary engine machines were as bold a step as any taken by any motorcycle company. They just couldn’t give them away. They were manufactured from 1974 through 1976. There were still unsold bikes sitting around in inventory and some were sold as 1977 models. Eventually the company gave up on the bikes. One story goes that Suzuki was so angered by the failure that all of the leftover parts were rounded up and dumped in the sea of Japan. It’s not likely, but it sure makes a good story.
I’d like to have heard more about the RE-5 on the show. Companies are shaped and defined by their failures as well as their successes.

— Guy Wheatley

May 4

There was a lot going on this weekend. Historic reenactments in Jefferson, A poker run in Camden, and a biker revival here in Texarkana. And I missed all of it. When you’re feeling good and the sun is shining, it’s easy to forget how much more physically demanding riding a bike is compared to driving a car. When a nasty little bug knocks the wind out of your sails, it becomes more obvious.
I was able to drive myself to the doctor in my pickup. The thought of trying to ride there on a bike is terrifying. In addition to the fever induced hyper sensitivity of my skin making exposure to even a mild day uncomfortable, I was weak and dizzy. The additional effort required to keep the bike upright would have required more mental effort than normal. That, added to the reduced alertness caused by a stuffy head, would have equaled a serious impairment.
Riding when you’re not healthy isn’t tough. It’s just as foolish and unethical as riding with any other impairment. You’re putting yourself and others at risk by trying to operate a motorcycle when you’re not physically capable.
I’ve about got this thing licked and will hopefully be ready to ride again by the time the weather clears up.

— Guy Wheatley