Dec 21
Pink thunder
icon1 Guy | icon2 Events, News, Small Talk | icon4 12 21st, 2010| icon3No Comments »
Team SuperMartXe VIP

Paris Hilton announces the Team SuperMartXe VIP Moto GP entry in the
125cc class.
- photo by the Associated Press.

I’ve never been a big fan of Moto GP. It’s not that I have some passionate dislike of the sport, but there just isn’t much in it that appeals to me. I just see it as unrealistic bikes on an unrealistic course. I can’t make a connection between anything I see in Moto GP and the things that I appreciate about motorcycle riding.
I do occasionally watch the Isle of Man TT races. This races uses production motorcycles racing on actual roads. While it’s not exactly long-haul scenic cruising, it does at least resemble conditions an ordinary rider might find, and features bikes available at the local dealership. The 37-mile course offers enough scenic beauty and variation to make it interesting, going from cramped downtown streets to breathtaking coastal vistas.
Not so, with Moto GP. This features purpose made bikes that are neither for sale to the public, nor street legal, racing on a closed racing track. About thing only thing that could make this less relevant to my take on motorcycle riding would be to throw in some clueless celebrity endorsement. Enter Ms Hilton.
Wearing a low-cut, pink and white, rhinestone-studded racing suit, she announced the SuperMartXe VIP by Paris Hilton team in Madrid on Dec. 20. They will enter an Aprilla RSA bike in the 125cc class. Team colors are pink and white. Ms Hilton won’t be riding the bike, but promises to attend as many races as she can.
SuperMartXe VIP is a dance series in Ibiza, Spain. From what I can discover, it is known for its excess of, well, excess and its dearth of clothes. I’m at a complete loss to explain why they could have any interest in Moto GP other than the opportunity to see Ms Hilton bedecked in a low-cut, pink and white, rhinestone-studded racing suit.
Aprilla makes a low-slung, automatic transmission motorcycle, often thought of as a “woman’s bike.” Maybe it hopes to attract more female riders by bedecking Ms Hilton in a low-cut, pink and white, rhinestone-studded racing suit, and having her announce their pink and white addition to the circuit. Good luck with that.
If any of my faithful readers understand the motivation behind this, please don’t explain it to me. I’d rather just put on some black leather, and go for a ride on the open road.

- Guy Wheatley

Dec 14
Bug vs Biker
icon1 Guy | icon2 Small Talk | icon4 12 14th, 2010| icon3No Comments »
A real biker call identify the species by the taste.

A real biker call identify the species by the taste.

The show Mythbusters recently did an episode themed on bugs. One of the segments was about a biker being killed by hitting a bug. The myth was based on death caused directly by the bug strike, not secondary factors such as injuries from the crash caused by the bug strike.
They used a 2011 Victoy Kingpin. The motorcycle was mated to a custom Motorvation Engineering Spyder sidecar so that they could set up a test dummy with a force detector mounted where the head would usually be.
Checking with a physician they were told that a force of 75 pounds directly on the cartilage of larynx could crush it, causing the rider to suffocate. So the question they had was, is there a bug that could generate that much force if the rider hit it going 85 mp? The Myth barely squeaked into the plausible category, requiring the largest member of an exotic species, not native to North America, to hit a tiny spot that is usually well protected.
OK, so the chances of meeting your demise by gigantic insectoid is comfortingly slim. But any biker can tell you that bugs can certainly get your attention. I classify their annoying characteristics into 3 major categories. Stingers, Splatterers, and Bangers.
Stingers usually have to wind up inside your clothing or helmet the do much damage. An angry bee or wasp buzzing around between your eyes and face plate can be a bit of a distraction. I know of one rider who ran off the road after such an encounter. Fortunately, he survived the incident with only a little swelling from the stings.
Bangers are hard shelled bugs large enough to cause pain with their mass. Bumblebees and June bugs come to mind. During the summer I wear a half shell helmet. I wear glasses and rarely use a face shield or goggles. I do have tall windshields on both of my bikes that give me protection. I’d imagine a Banger in the eye would cause problems. I’ve taken a few hits on the arms and legs that hurt pretty bad, but nothing that caused enough distraction to be a real danger.
Splatterers are those flying bags of goo surrounded by a bug body that make such a mess on your windshield. It’s hard to name a species based on the remains of an encounter, but they must be mainly some fat, soft-bodied bug capable of flight. As hard as the mess can be to clean up, I think some of then were sucking on a tube of Superglue right before they flew into my bike. The sun in front of you can turn a bug gut smeared windshield opaque. Try topping a hill and having your windshield go opaque a second after spotting the oncoming 18-wheeler. That’ll get the adrenaline going.
But if you’re going to ride a motorcycle, the bugs are a part of the experience. I’ve heard that a real biker can identify the species by the taste.

- Guy Wheatley

Dec 7
The Fat Lady Sings

The fat lady sings for the last Valkyrie.

Being the owner of a sail boat named Rose, I never though twice about naming my bikes. It just seemed the natural thing to do. I recently came across a conversation on a bulletin board that made me realize not everybody names their motorcycles. Not everybody thinks of their bikes as a friend or lover.
I frequent two motorcycle forums each focusing on one of the two bikes that I have. It’s interesting to see the difference in the way the two groups identify with their machines. Many people on the Valkyrie board refer to their bikes by name. “Old blue isn’t feeling well,” or “Traveler and I took a ride yesterday.” Most of the names are feminine, but not all.
Someone on the Valkyrie forum asked if everybody named their fat lady. Link to VRCC thread. Even the way he phrased the question says a lot about the relationship between these riders and their bikes. Valkyries are commonly referred to as “Fat Ladies.” on the board. There are a couple of intertwining reasons for this. First of all, that flat-six power plant gives the bike a girth rivaled by only a few other production bikes like the Goldwing and Boss Hoss. Then, with a name like Valkyrie, there is the inevitable association to opera. This convolution of references gets summed up in the remark made by a guy racing his bike against another brand. He said no other cruiser could keep up with him, the sound of his exhaust was like music and the race was over when his fat lady sang.
The other board is for a similar, but smaller bike. Both the Valkyrie and the Magna have been discontinued. They are both multicylinder high revving muscle cruisers. As most of the world turns to Harley knock-off V-twins, Valkyrie and Magna riders become increasingly rare and select groups. Yet for all of their similarities the Magna owners rarely name their bikes. And almost all of the Magnas named are named Maggie. That’s almost not a proper name, being more of a moniker for the model. Magna owners are just as enthusiastic about their bikes as Valkyrie owners, but are more likely to see their rides as machines, lacking an organic personality.
I know several folks who ride Harleys, but I don’t know of any Harley owner who has named his bike. I do know some who have called their bikes names, but that’s another blog. I think this tendency to name your motorcycle is more common among Valkyrie owners. Most of these riders really seem to feel that their bikes have distinct personalities. The Valkyrie is a unique machine. Unfortunately, no more are being made. It will be a sad day when the last one stops running and the last fat lady sings.

- Guy Wheatley