Jul 24
icon1 Guy | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 07 24th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

I was watching the Isle of Mann TT practice runs and happened to catch an interview with a guy developing an airbag system for motorcyclists.

At first thought, the idea of an airbag on a motorcycle seem ludicrous. OK, so technically the airbag isn’t on the motorcycle, it’s on the rider. It’s still a concept sure to raise some eyebrows. But watching the demonstration at the TT practice, it started to seem a little more practical. Unlike the video above, the demonstrator at the the TT had the bag deploy under a stretchable outer jacket. As a result, it stayed around the rider much better.
Arms and legs were still flailing around and prone to be broken, but usually those will heal. The bag appeared to give significant additional protection to the upper torso, neck, and even the head. It looks like, when deployed correctly, a rider is much less likely to suffer fatal trauma to those areas. This system is not going to make a crash fun, but it make some of them survivable.
They were collecting data for the electronic controller at the TT practice to refine the deployment algorithms. You want to be sure it goes off in a wreck, but not before then. The developer said he hoped to go to market in about 2 years.
If it’s not hopelessly expensive, I just might get one.

— Guy Wheatley

Jul 20
Leader of the pack
icon1 Guy | icon2 Small Talk | icon4 07 20th, 2009| icon31 Comment »

It seems like every group has this guy. He’s the one every body looks at when there’s a group question. Or if someone has an idea, he’s the one they’ll ask or pitch it to. In the little group I ride with, the guy filling this slot doesn’t particularly want the position. We’ll just call him “The Old Man,” for the benefit of this blog. He’s always trying to get someone else to take the lead both literally in the riding order, and figuratively in the pecking order. He’s not had much luck.
Part of the reason we all look to him is simply his gregarious personality. His wife is an excellent rider and they often have the rest of the group over to their house. He’s never met a stranger and is always willing to extend a helping hand. Visits to their house often turn into to mini wrench sessions in his well appointed shop.
That leads to another part of why he’s the one out front. He’s very good at working on bikes and is a genius with body work and a paint gun. If anybody is having trouble with their bike or wants to modify it, this is the go-to guy. And it’s great having him along on the road. If anybody breaks down, we all stop and wait for his magic to make it better.
My wife and I ride alone quite often. After learning quite a bit about bike repair and maintenance from The Old Man, I don’t worry much about breakdowns. I can take care of anything that could be reasonably fixed in the road. Otherwise, there’s AAA and a cell phone.
But on group rides, let any bike make a funny noise or act a bit strange and all heads will turn to The Old Man. I guess it just gets to be a habit after a while. So, here’s to the leader of the pack. Better you than me buddy.

— Guy Wheatley

Jul 8
Riding in the rain
icon1 Guy | icon2 Rides | icon4 07 8th, 2009| icon3No Comments »

We took a little ride Sunday afternoon. As we left the house, headed for First Old River lake, the sky was overcast and threatening rain. My son would be heading back to Dallas in a few hours and we wanted to get in one more ride before he left. Temperatures had dropped out of the triple digits into the low 90s. My wife was going to two-up with me on the Magna and my son would be on the Shadow. We decided to chance the rain. We packed some rain gear in the saddle bags and headed out.
It had rained earlier and the roads were still damp, but washed free of the oil that floats out of the road at the start of a rain. Though damp, the road still gave our tires a good bite. We reached out destination enduring only occasional light sprinkles. My wife is learning to ride and we had been coming out to this isolated spot for her to get some saddle time. She decided to make a few runs while we were there. As we got ready to head back, I suggested she take the Shadow as far back toward town as she felt comfortable.
We had barely covered one of the 18 miles back to town when the rain set in. It wasn’t a hard pounding rain, but it was steady and certainly more than sprinkles. I kept expecting her to pull over and let Brandon take the Shadow, but she kept going. As we pulled up to a stop together, I asked her if she wanted the rain gear. She said no. The temperature was mild and the rain felt good.
We eased back rarely going faster than 45, and taking corners at 25. We were on the edge of town before she finally pulled over. She still doesn’t want to ride in town, but she put a good 15 miles on the bike that day in the rain. While you would normally think of riding a motorcycle in the rain as an unpleasant experience, we had fun. The ride was relaxing and enjoyable. Even better, a new rider got a great confidence boost discovering that she could handle a bike in the rain.
I need more days like that in my life. What a great rainy day.

— Guy Wheatley

Jul 2

I was heading home a few days ago and stopped at an intersection. There was a car coming from my left with his left blinker on. I’ve seen too many drivers plow straight through an intersection with their blinkers on, signaling a turn that never came. If you’re in a car and pull out in front of someone like that, then you get out survey the damage and exchange insurance information. If you’re on a motorcycle and pull out in front of somebody who doesn’t turn, then the other guys calls the morgue after he rolls over you. You can have lights and arrows and everything else on the front of your car. I’ll believe you’re turning when I see your front wheels cut over.
I watched the guy and sure enough, he rolls right through the intersection. I made a right turn and fell in behind him. I followed him a couple of blocks as we drove in front of a hospital. The entrance to the hospital parking lot was on our left. A pedestrian further up the street saw us coming and must have assumed that the man in the car was going to pull into the parking lot. His blinker was on after all. I could see the pedestrian’s eyes get big as the motorists passed the parking lot entrance and continued toward him.
The pedestrian stopped and back-stepped off the road back onto the curb. The guy in the cars comes to a halt, blinker still going, and begins waving at the pedestrian to cross. Warily he does, and the guy in the car starts rolling again still signaling a left turn.
I follow him for another block, wondering how far he’ll go before realizing his turn-signal is on. In exasperation, I take a deep breath and lower my head. My gaze falls across the instrument cluster on my triple tree and I discover that MY FLIPPIN BLINKER IS ON! I’ve been signaling a right turn since I fell in behind this guy.
OK, he drove a few blocks with his blinker on. Give him a break. It could happen to anybody.


— Guy Wheatley