Aug 28

Approaching the end of August, one may fairly hope the worst of the summer heat is behind us. Fall isn’t too far ahead and it’s time to start thinking about those great rides to some of the many harvest festivals in the area.
This coming weekend has the Queen Wilhelmina Rod Run & Bike Show close to Mena Arkansas. Any excuse is good enough to ride this beautiful part of Arkansas. Arkansas folks are friendly and know how to put on a good party, so expect a good reception with good food and great entertainment.
And you’ve got to ride the Talimena scenic drive from Talihina Oklahoma to Mena Arkansas, or the other way if you prefer. The scenic route follows skyline drive north out of Mena and includes the Queen Wilhemina State Park lodge. It’s a little more than 60 miles one way, and will take just more than an hour and a half.
Mena is right at 100 miles from Texarkana, and it will take two hours of riding to get there. My experiences in that part of Arkansas have always been well worth the trip.

— Guy Wheatley

Aug 21
Laying down the law
icon1 Guy | icon2 News | icon4 08 21st, 2009| icon31 Comment »

Several new laws go into effect September 1 that affect motorcycles. Here are some of the Highlights:

HB 537 includes the provision that prohibits a motorcycle operator from carrying a passenger under the age of 5 unless the child is seated in a sidecar attached to the motorcycle.
Full version of HB 537

HB 2012 increases the penalty by making it a Class A misdemeanor if the person driving
without insurance or a valid driver license has an accident and someone is seriously injured or dies as a result of that accident.
Full version of HB 2012

SB 129 defines some smaller electric scooters as “not” motorcycles and exempts them from licensing and helmet requirements.
Full version of SB 129

Senate Bill 1967 makes several motorcycle related changes including changes to helmet requirements, licensing requirements, and penalties for failure to yield right-of-way.
Full version of SB 1967

Several blog sites mention that riders caught without an “M” endorsement on their drivers license will have their bikes impounded until they get the endorsement. I’ve been unable to find the specific bill that references this. It’s possible that it’s not a new bill, merely an increased emphasis on enforcing licensing. Either way, those riding without the endorsement may have their bikes impounded.

— Guy Wheatley

Aug 14

When I started biking a few years ago, I was apparently part of a huge surge of new bikers just coming on the scene. The biking landscape at the time had been sculpted by those who had been riding before us.
I can only imagine what it was like then. While bikers weren’t unheard of, there were not as many bikers in those days. The biking community was more exclusive simply because there weren’t as many people riding. That climate seems to have brought motorcyclists together in their shared enthusiasm. Bikers waved at each other, and the old-timers reminisce about a time when no biker would just drive on past a stranded fellow rider.
I came to motorcycling on the crest of a great wave of new riders. That flood of people with new ideas and expectations must have had an effect on the image held of, and by bikers. Many of the forums I go to have threads about waving. Some are fanatics about it and take it personally when another biker doesn’t wave back. Others are less emotional, but still note a change in this time honored tradition.
Ten years ago you could ride all day and, unless your were at some biking activity or event, you might not see another bike. Today if you’re on a scenic ride on a weekend, you’re going to see a hundred or more bikes. If you try to wave at every bike you meet, you’ll spend as much time with you hand in the air as on the bars.
One long time rider I know told me about taking a weekend ride over a scenic road. On one stretch, as they were rounding a mountain curve, his group of 20 to 30 bikes met another group of 20 to 30 bikes. He described up to 60 bikes roaring past each other on a narrow pass at closing speeds approaching 100 mph, and nobody with both hands on the bars.
“Some of them folks weren’t too steady steering with both hands,” he told me. “I don’t mind that they don’t wave if they just won’t run into me.”
It’s inevitable that the culture will be changed by the weight of people it has attracted. Maybe we can keep the best of it though.

— Guy Wheatley

Aug 7
Circular logic
icon1 Guy | icon2 Bikes | icon4 08 7th, 2009| icon3No Comments »
Poking around on the Internet, I’ve run across some strange and unusual motorcycles. Some of these are one time only bikes, built as a hobby or for a specific show. Sometimes a project bike will inspire others to follow suite and build a bike along a similar line or theme.

Motorcycle with a radial engine similar to those used in avaition.

Motorcycle with a radial engine, similar to those
used in aviation.

One such bike had a radial engine. I kept thinking that there must be a plane flying around somewhere with a V-twin for a power plant. In this one the engine sat vertically at 90˚to the bike, about the same way it would sit in a plane. It looks like you could just ad a propeller and a pair of wings if you wanted to fly.
But it didn’t take long for other hobbyists to put their own spin on the radial engine concept. I soon found other bikes using radial engines, but with different mounting schemes.

Motorcycle with a radial engine similar to those used in avaition.

Motorcycle with a radial engine mounted with
the crank shaft transversely.

Another builder must have thought, as I did, that the radial engine looked a little wide. I can just imagine dragging a head in a hard lean. Or worse yet, misjudging a gap. On this bike, they rotated the engine 90˚on the vertical axis. It makes the bike much narrower.
One would suspect that those big radials produce a lot of torque. You’ve got to wonder if that first bike will try to make a left turn if you get on the throttle too hard. And maybe the second one can pop a wheelie with just engine torque.

Motorcycle with a radial engine similar to those used in avaition.

Radial engine encased in circular cage.

Another bike was built with the same engineering philosophy, but this engine is encased in a circular cage giving the whole thing a very clock-work look.
I’d like to watch somebody ride one of those. I don’t think I’d care to try it myself.


— Guy Wheatley