May 7
Epic journey
icon1 Guy | icon2 Bikes, News | icon4 05 7th, 2012| icon31 Comment »
Ocean going Harley-Davidson.” width=

The Harley-Davidson bike that made an epic journey across the
Pacific Ocean. – Inset shows bike before the tsunami.

Epic journeys always stir the imagination. There was Lewis and Clark, Shackleton, Lindbergh, even Milo and Otis. Some journeys are planned, while others are unexpected. Most of these travels are taken by people, but some have involved animals. There will be a story in the news a couple of times every year about some dog or cat, who made their way back to a family after an unfortunate, and usually unexpected, separation. So far the principals of all of the tales I’ve read or heard about were biological creatures.
But now comes the news of a 4,000-mile journey from Japan to Graham Island, off the coast of British Columbia, taken by a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The trek was taken over water, unusual for a motorcycle, and sans rider. The bike, owned by Japan’s IkuoYokoyam, was stored in a white container. It was washed out to sea during the March 11, 2011, tsunami. It was found on April 18, 2012, by Canadian Peter Mark. Apparently the bike, inside the container box, had ridden the ocean currents across the Pacific. No epic journey is ever leisurely, leaving the one undertaking it unscathed. And this one is no different. When found, the bike was covered in corrosion. It’s unclear whether it will be salvageable. But also, like all epic tales, this one ends with a trip home. The bike will be shipped back to Japan, and the shop that sold it to Mr. Yokoyama will help with the paperwork and storage. The faithful steed, after being ripped away from home, will return to its owner, somewhat worse for wear but undefeated.
There will be those who will snort and say that a piece of trash just washed up on a beach. Some will insist that this in an inanimate object and that imbuing it with the nobility of cause is nothing but anthropomorphizing.
“It’s a machine for crying out loud,” they’ll say. “It can’t have any affection for an owner.”
But those of us who’ve thrown leg over beloved machines know better. They can be cantankerous and pouty when left setting up too long. But they can bring joy and freedom of spirit too. They can share with you eldritch moments that only speak heart to heart. And when the chips are down they can hang in there for you, continuing to run even as they’re hurting to take you the last miles to home.
They don’t come from the factory like this. The soul of a bike comes from its rider. It absorbs, or maybe merely echoes, the emotions we experience as we ride. But eventually the bike will take on those characteristics, and its rider will feel and respond to them.
The reunion will be bittersweet. Mr. Yokoyama will feel joy at the reunion, and sadness for what his bike has suffered. Hopefully the wounds can be healed and they will share many more moments and miles.

- Guy Wheatley

May 3
Corbin ridge-like seat” width=

Corbin ridge-like seat.

A California man is suing BMW and third-party seat maker Corbin-Pacific, claiming that he suffered a 20- month erection as result of the combined products. Henry Wolf of California claims his issue began after a four-hour ride on his 1993 BMW motorcycle with a ridge like seat. He is seeking compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and emotional distress.
Though I’m certainly not a urologist, I have heard of priapism. The condition is no laughing matter as it can results in the loss of the organ. WebMD lists several causes of the condition including trauma to the spinal cord or genital area. One supposes that is the basis of his claim, that the seat and motorcycle combination somehow caused the underlying trauma. Though there is apparently no other recorded case of this happening, it still would not give Mr. Wolf a winnable claim against the two companies named in his suit, if proven true. They would have to be proven negligent. As this condition seems to have never occurred before in recorded history, it’s hard to see how BMW and/or Corbin could be held negligent for not preventing it. Additionally, one might suppose that if an extensive amount of trauma was occurring over a four-hour period, Mr. Wolf might have decided to dismount the bike.
Many riders are familiar with the effects of long rides with uncomfortable or ill-fitting seats. Usually the problems make themselves known a little further back in the buttocks or lower back. But that much vibration in the crotch can have an effect. I have experienced, and heard other riders speak of, mild stimulation caused by the inevitable vibration of straddling a motorcycle. But the long-term result is usually numbness. I’m just not sure Mr. Wolf’s claim will stand up in court. As far as litigation goes, it won’t last very long if it goes to a jury of motorcycle riders. I’ve seen links to this posted on three different boards, and the reaction has been universally negative. I’ve yet to come across a rider who buys Mr. Wolf’s claim. Most of us don’t believe him, and would like to think our fellow riders are made of better ethical stuff. From what I’ve read, he’s going to have a hard time getting other bikers on his side. A lot of us have ridden a lot of miles, and nobody else has had this problem.
If it is somehow proven that BMW and/or Corbin are responsible for Mr Wolf’s condition, then I suggest dumping any stock you may have in the company that makes Viagra. And you can bet that BMW motorcycle you planned to buy with the Corbin seat will be on back-order for several years.

- Guy Wheatley

Mar 19
Proud of their bikes
icon1 Guy | icon2 News | icon4 03 19th, 2012| icon32 Comments »
The MST from Motus” width=

The MST from Motus makes its debut.

Here in my neck of the woods, we comment on something being expensive by saying that the seller is “proud of it.” Motus is certainly “proud” of their new bikes, the MST and MST-R. There is good reason for some of that pride. These are truly revolutionary bikes, incorporating the unique KMV-4, Gasoline Direct Injection engines from Katech. And the bikes themselves were subjected to 6,000 miles “real world” testing in a coast-to-coast shakedown/exposure run for the concept bikes. The data collected was reportedly used for final tweaking of the production bikes. So while I’ve never had the opportunity to put seat in the saddle of an MST, I have no doubt that they are exceptionally well engineered and handle very well. Taking all of that into consideration I expected that these motorcycles would not be inexpensive. But I didn’t expect the pricing schedule they opened with. MRSP prices were recently revealed in a
dealernews.com article. Did I say, “Not inexpensive?” At $30,000 and $36,975 for the MST and MST-R, respectively, I’d say that’s a bit of an understatement.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether I think those prices are a tad high. The only opinion that matters in the end is the opinion of the consumer. But just who is Motus’ target consumer? To me, both bikes look like sport bikes. I’d guess that the riders who would be interested would also be looking at bikes like the Suzuki Hayabusa – $13,999†, the GSX-R 1000 – $13,799† or the Ninja ZX-10R ABS – $14,999†. Motus will have to be producing a heck of a bike to come in at double the price of the well-established competitors.
But there is always the possibility that I’m missing the true target market. Maybe they’re actually going after the buyers of slightly more exotic bikes, like the Triumph Rocket 3 – $17,494† or the Ducati Diavel AMG – $26,495†. They’re still out of line on the pricing.
The most expensive class of motorcycle is the cruiser. A Honda GoldWing will set you back $26,199†. Or you can look at a Victory Vision – $20,999† or Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic for $22,714†. But these are fully dressed bikes with loads of accessories like built in sound systems and GPS. They all have fairings to keep wind and water off the rider and lots of storage in the form of large saddle bags and trunks. Far larger than the fanny packs slung as an afterthought over the MST’s rear fender. Yet, they still cost considerably less than the offerings from Motus.
As I’ve said before, I want to see Motus succeed. And just because I don’t understand their marketing strategy doesn’t mean they don’t have a good one. But it’s beyond my comprehension at the moment.
I’ll be watching this company, with fingers crossed in the months ahead. Good luck guys. I’m pulling for you.

† MSRP pricing found online.

- Guy Wheatley

Sep 22
Good for what ails you” width=

Take two rides and call me in the morning. Sometimes
a good ride is just what the doctor ordered.

Riding the bike has always been soothing for me, and now the drone of the engine and the wind in my face helps calm the fear waiting in the wings for an unguarded moment to pounce. The roughly four hours I spend in transit on each trip gives me time to come to grips with what is happening. It’s an opportunity to build some perspective and start coming to grips with it emotionally.
Back on the Valkyrie headed for Texarkana, I have an almost two-hour ride to digest what I’ve just learned. I may have fudged the speed limit a time or two hitting 80 mph or better as I circled around Shreveport on I-220. The furnace hot blast from this 105 degree day washing over me somehow feels good. For the next two hours I am a biker again. The frailty I’d felt drops away with a twist of the wrist. The 1500cc flat 6 howls my defiance through the 6 into 6 cobra pipes, and it seems that surely not even the big C can catch me while mounted on my powerful phat lady. I know it’s only an illusion, but it is one I will come to cherish more with each subsequent trip.
I just found out I have bladder cancer. Bummer.
The news is not all bad. The type I have is very aggressive, but it is confined to the bladder. With the removal of my bladder, the cancer will be gone. But so will my bladder. I suspect that may be a bit of an inconvenience.
Reviewing my options with my surgeon I decided to go for a more complicated procedure where he will make a new bladder for me from part of my intestine. Things will never be exactly the same, but within a year, I should be able to ride again. My surgery is scheduled for Sept. 27.
It may be several weeks before I’m able to blog again, but I do plan to be back pontificating my fingers off as soon as possible. I want to thank you folks who routinely submit yourselves to my mental ramblings. Your thoughts and prayers are welcome. In the meantime, take a ride and enjoy the wind in your faces for me until I can be back and do it for myself.
Until I see you on the road again, keep the rubber side down.

- Guy Wheatley

Sep 16
Juke Trophy Video” width=

The Juke Trophy video has been removed from youtube, obstensively for
copyright reasons. Public reaction is a more likely factor.

Nissan used to make really good commercials. I remember the days when zipping through the commercial break of a recorded program, I’d go back to watch a Nissan ad. My two favorites were where G. I. Joe steals Barbie from Ken and the one where the flock of pigeons try to soil a freshly washed Nissan car. But that was many years ago. Their ads must be quite forgettable since that time as I can’t recall one. I’m sure I’ve seen them, but they just haven’t had any impact on me. Now however, they gone from forgettable to offensive. In the annals of all time, ill-conceived ad campaigns, the new ad for the Juke, airing in Canada, will surely go right up there with “New Coke.”
The CGI ad has a woman enter a parking garage, only to be accosted by predators on sport bikes. She is rescued as a Juke roars onto the scene and begins to chase down and run over the bikes. As the last bike is destroyed, we see that the Juke’s center console is modeled after a motorcycle gas tank and is supposedly a trophy.
Even getting past the ridiculous idea of the pathetic little car that couldn’t outrun a school bus is chasing down 200 mph sport bikes, we’re left wondering exactly what message Nissan is trying to convey. That it’s OK to run over motorcycles? That motorcycle riders are bad people? That Nissan doesn’t like motorcycles or motorcycle riders? It just makes me wonder if their cars are now as bad as their commercials. I owned a Nissan years ago, and was very pleased with it. Come to think of it, it was during the time of the good commercials.
My four-wheeled vehicles are all GM products now. My bikes are both from Honda. I don’t see a Nissan in my garage any time in the near future. Certainly not a Juke. And watching that commercial just reinforces that conviction.

- Guy Wheatley

Sep 9
Gremlin Bell” width=

The inner workings of a Harley engine.

Four California men have filed a class-action lawsuit against Harley-Davidson. They claim that the Twin Cam 88 and Twin Cam 96 motors run excessively hot, and they have suffered injuries including burns as a result. One of the men, Matt Weyuker, claims the bike set his pants on fire. Matt says Harley has told him there are several things he can do, including installing an oil cooler. Matt argues he shouldn’t have to pay for these changes; Harley should be doing these things to the bikes before they leave the factory. He claims selling the bikes without these cooling modifications is a design flaw. His lawyer, Bill Kershaw, says they think Harley doesn’t want to change the configuration and look of the bike.
I hardly know where to begin. The first clue to Matt’s cluelessness is in his statement, “Harley has always been on the cutting edge of technology, they can figure it out and make it work.” I’ve seen plenty of Harley advertisements hawking style, tradition, image and even attitude. I can’t recall an official Harley spokesman ever claiming they were on the cutting edge of technology. If they have, it’s a pretty good bet it was in reference to the V-rod, a bike using a different engine designed in collaboration with Porsche that is water cooled.
What Harley sells is a 1920s era style of air-cooled, push rod, over head valve, 45 degree V-twin engine that looks like is was chopped out of a WWI era biplane. Far from keeping this a secret, Harley goes to great pains to reach potential new customers with its style, image and tradition. Harley advertises its motorcycles to be exactly what they are. Exactly what Matt bought.
If Matt wants a American motorcycle with an oil cooler, then he should have bought from a plant in Spirit Lake, Iowa. They sell the Victory brand of motorcycles. These are all V-twin bikes with oil coolers. They also have other engineering differences such as overhead cams, dual valves and a 60-degree cylinder separation (EDIT – As pointed out in a comment below, the Freedom Engine actually uses a 50 degree cylinder separation.) that reduces noise and vibration. As a result of these differences they run cooler and quieter, but they don’t look or sound like Harleys. There’s no potato/potato from the pipes, the additional 15 degrees of cylinder separation is more noticeable than you might expect and, finally, that big old radiator -looking oil cooler blocking the front tire’s view of the engine.
I have no sympathy for Matt or the others who may jump into this. These folks had a choice about what to buy and, despite their claims, nobody mislead them. Most of the people who buy Harleys are buying and paying for the Harley experience. That experience includes those hot, noisy, vibration- prone, twin cam engines. If Matt didn’t want that, he should have bought something different.

- Guy Wheatley

Link to Sacramento CBS news video

Aug 10

The MST from Motus on its American Sport Tour


After 20 days and 6000 miles of real world testing, the MST from Motus is heading back to the shop. The idea was to incorporate real world experience gained from the real world riding these prototypes experienced into the final production design. Watching the video, it’s hard to imagine what technical deficiencies need to be addressed. My only suggestions are different mufflers, open the faring up to show off the beautiful engine more, and a better paint scheme.
Listening to parts of the video, old scenes from the French Connection, or Bullet came to mind. I can’t wait until riders start customizing their bikes to see what sounds they can coax out of that power plant. Let’s hear what Cobra, or Vance & Hines can do with that sort of raw material.
I was glad to see that at least one of the prototypes had red valve covers. That is a beautiful power plant, and drag or no, it needs to be showcased. Give it a few years, and I’m sure there will be tons of third party bling available for it.
And finaly, this wouldn’t be a blog from me about Motus if I didn’t lament the fact that they’re not building a cruiser. Oh well, there’s always 2013.

- Guy Wheatley

MotusMST

The KMV4 powered MST from Motus.

Jun 17

Title: Grand Opening Whiskey River Harley Davidson
Location: 802 Walton Drive
Link out: Click here
Description: Grand Opening featuring the OAK RIDGE BOYS!!! Vendors, Food, BYOB, Games and good Times!!!

- All current WRHD HOG Members will have lunch and a meet and greet with the Oak Ridge Boys starting at 11:30.
- H-D Demo Truck here!
- Door prizes
- Chance to win $10,000 with the right combination from the WRHD Prize Vault.
- Live bands all day.
- LIVE Performance by the Oak Ridge Boys!
Start Time: 8:30 am
Date: 2011-06-25
End Time: 5:30 pm

Jun 10
FT-Bone

Photo illustration by Brandon Wheatley
The view of me from the perspective of the male passenger in the car I
almost T boned.

I had to run to Kmart right after work. I was on the Magna that has only soft leather saddlebags and no trunk. This meant a trip home to drop off my laptop and briefcase as I had no way to lock them up while I was in the store.
Leaving my house, I turned off Wood Street onto West Eighth Street. The speed limit here is 45 mph. It was between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. so the traffic was building to rush-hour volume. I was pacing traffic as we slowed approaching a mass of cars pulling through a traffic signal that had just turned green. I was in the far right hand lane on this three-lane street. We were less than halfway down the block approaching midway. The vehicle in the middle lane was just ahead of me. I was in his blind spot and decided to drop back a little. This proved difficult because we were both already slowing down due of the traffic ahead of us. I did manage to let the car get far enough ahead of me that he wouldn’t hit me with an unexpected lane change.
I noticed a car in the alley on the far side of the road with its bumper sticking out past the curb. I was sure it would cross the road using the alleys as soon as the pack of vehicles cleared that spot. As I was hugging the back of the pack, I wasn’t concerned with it. Even if the driver stomped the gas after the car ahead of me passed, it couldn’t be in my lane before I got past. But that’s not what the driver did.
The far left lane was empty, the last vehicle in it having passed the spot several seconds ago. Just as the front of the car in the middle lane came even with the spot, the driver in the alley accelerated across Eighth street. She had obviously, and correctly, calculated that the vehicle in the center lane would get clear before she reached the middle lane. Apparently she hadn’t seen, or allowed for, me on my bike trailing behind in the far lane.
Fortunately I had been watching her. I wouldn’t be here writing this blog if I hadn’t. But even so, I suddenly found myself in a bad spot. I’ve been in tough spots a few times in my life, and I’m always amazed at the way perception changes. I heard some describe it as, “time slowing down.” I understand why some might describe it that way, but don’t fully agree. It’s more like my brain begins to process thoughts differently. In normal times, I seem to go through a sequential process to reach an inevitable conclusion. In the stress times, I do away with a mental speech process and work with completed concepts. As the car pulled out, I was instantly aware that it would intersect my path resulting in my T-boning it. I didn’t bother forming the words in my mind, but moved immediately to the next impression. I was aware of how inadequate my situational awareness was. I wasn’t sure the lane to my left was clear from behind. Trying to go there to pass behind the car, even if I could make it, might put me in the path of another vehicle.
My body had reacted instinctively hitting both brakes. I became aware of a screeching noise and realized my back tire had locked up. Even as I accepted this information, my foot eased pressure and the squealing stopped. I remember being satisfied that there was no sudden jolt as the tire again found grip, meaning that my back end had not been fishtailing.
Another piece of data my brain found cause to store away was the fact the windows were open on the car. Temperatures were in the upper 90s and most drivers had the air condition running with windows up. It just struck me as odd that this car had both front windows down. I was also surprised that I could hear the occupants of the car. A young woman who appeared to be in her early 20s was driving. Her head was turned in my direction and she seemed to have been talking a male passenger about the same age. I didn’t make out her words, but watched in fascination as her mouth formed a perfect little O as her eyes widened when she saw me bearing down on them.
I had absolutely no chance to stop the bike before reaching the spot presently occupied by the car. But I did have hopes of slowing down enough to let her get out of the way. I remember mentally pleading with her to not hit her brakes. I also found her expression interesting. Her eyes seemed to be pleading with me to do something to somehow prevent the impending collision. Otherwise, she seemed frozen. That may have been fortunate, because she didn’t hit the brakes.
The male passenger had been looking at something in his lap. My screeching tires must have gotten his attention and caused him to look up. He would have seen me closing fast, aimed directly at his door. I heard the “Aaawwwwwww,” very clearly, but only caught the lingual consonant at the beginning of the next word before momentum carried him out of my path. It sounded like air escaping from a punctured tire.
I had been drifting left even as I continued to press the brakes. I was making eye contact with the driver and remember trying to give her a disgusted look that would convey the thought, “Lady, why did you do that?”
Then it was over. The road ahead of me was clear. I’d missed her car by little more than the thickness of a coat of paint. But that was enough to give me the chance to learn a lesson.
“Ride like they’re all trying to kill you,” a friend previously admonished me.
And on this day, it looked like she was.

- Guy Wheatley

May 11
Talimena Run
icon1 Guy | icon2 Events, News, Rides | icon4 05 11th, 2011| icon3No Comments »

Title: Talimena Run
Location: Meet at Whisky River Harley Davidson
Description: Sunday May 15 is the last day of standard registration.
The Talimena Run is 3 days of motorcycles, msic, food nad fellowship May 26 through 28 to benifit the Hooks Children’s Ministry of Hooks Texas.
The run begins Thursday May 26 with a meet and greet ar Whisky River Harley Davidson with a group ride to Fisherman’s Wharf in Hot Springs, Ark., to follow Friday. The Talimena Run Mountain Ride is Saturday, May 28 to Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Mena, Ark. Lunch and dinner will be provided both Friday and Saturday. Points Run tickets will be available for chances to win prizes both days as well.
Standard registration for the run is $40 per person. Cost for registration after Sunday is $50.
For information or to register, call Neil Jones at (903) 547-6720
Start Date: 2011-05-26
End Date: 2011-05-28

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