Dec 16

And that’s not necessarily a good thing. I read a review comparing the Ducati Monster 1100 and the HD XR1200. (Motorcycle.com review). There was some empirical data in the review such as horsepower and torque rating at various rpms. But there was a lot of talk about “style” as well.
While the XR1200 nipped at the 1100’s heels, it never quite managed to catch the Italian bike in anything except price. It came in a bare $1,200 less than the Monster. The Harley is a heavier and longer bike with less ground clearance in a turn. It has a bigger engine, producing less horsepower. Given equal riders, it won’t keep up with the Ducati.
It seemed to me that the Motorcycle.com review tried hard to make excuses for Harley. It referred to the “American viewpoint,” and gave Harley credit for the “Cool Factor.” I’m not sure a rider stopped at a stoplight in the middle of the summer, sitting atop a Harley engine vibrating so bad it blurs his vision, would think of the word “cool.”
No doubt Harley produces very good classic American cruisers. But if you’re going to try something different, then don’t do things the same way. I’ve got the image in my head of an engineer at HD, trying to make a faster, lighter, cooler and less noisy engine, slapping his forehead in frustration when he realizes that he’s stuck with a 45-degree, air-cooled V-twin design.
If Harley is happy making “cool” bikes, then arguably it is there and no one can touch it. If HD wants to make fast bikes, then it’s time to acknowledge physics. Doing something different means it won’t be like it was.

Ducati Monster 1100 vs Harley-davidson Xr1200

Ducati Monster 1100 vs Harley-davidson Xr1200

— Guy Wheatley

Dec 1

I was on a forum, lurking in on the lively debate about 10 percent alcohol found at some gas pumps. There were a diverse set of opinions. Some saw it as a step in the right direction, while others predicted the fall of civilization. As a rule, most bikers aren’t big on the idea of alternative fule sources for motorcycles. I mean we’re already balancing on two wheels and exposing ourselves to the elements in the process of achieving 45 to 50 miles per gallon.
And while a few bikers have explored the idea of electric bikes, they are a very small subset of the motorcycle-riding fraternity. I know a lot of bikers who work on their exhaust pipes, tuning them like fine pipe organs. Where the uninitiated may hear an aggravating roar, these greasy-handed virtuosos hear the music of the spheres. Not for them then, the quiet whine of an electric engine.
But electrons aren’t the only possible alternative power source available. Knocking around the Internet, I ran across an unusual tricycle built in France in 1875 called the Cynosphere..
cynos
Each rear wheel was large enough to house a circular cage with a dog in it. The dogs in the accompanying drawing look like Airedales to me. The site I found goes on to mention a super bike version driven by Great Danes, and a woman’s modle driven by poodles. The site also says that a group called the Society for the Protection of Animals managed to stop production of the machines. Somehow I’m more suspicious of performance issues than ethical qualms as the cause for this thing’s demise.
I don’t think that even the greenest of the Greens have offered anything like this in the 21st century. Too bad. It would be fun lurking in on a forum debating the performance characteristics of Old Roy, Purina and Alpo.

— Guy Wheatley