Davey Johnson missing since June 5th

Motorcyclist and journalist Davey Johnson has been missing since June 5th after crossing Sonoma Pass on a CB1000R on a test ride. He checked in by test, next to a waterway, and has not been heard from since. His motorcycle, gloves and helmet were discovered close by, and later his backpack, and phone were also discovered. Searchers are looking near the river he was last known to be at.

Gymkhana for Beginners

First day of riding with my little brother turned into a half hour in a parking lot working on some skills to use and practice to increase agility on a motorcycle. It became apparent that this session needed to be shared with anyone that rides a motorcycle. The drill and skills practiced in this video are fundamental for gymkhana, and are also essential skills for low speed and high speed riding in any environment. Too bad I did not get much video of the ride after the training, as that was almost as cool. Find out more about American Gymkhana http://amgrass.com/ Join the discussion HERE: http://amgrass.com/forum/

Camping in Cheaha and the Talladega

Nice weekend on the ridge

Finalizing the new moto setup

Minimal Moto Camping Setup

A first attempt to downsize my motocamping gear and setup.

The WRONG Bike

I have always been fascinated by the idea of “the wrong bike”. Ever since I started taking the wrong bike to the wrong place, I have enjoyed watching other people do the same thing. It also brings up the idea – what makes the “right” bike? Why can’t you ride a cruiser or sportbike down a dirt road, or a trail? Why do you have special bikes for certain types of riding? What makes one bike better than the other? I think the video below illustrates suspension issues that limit the sportbike dramatically, but the guys is STILL have fun on the wrong bike, and it rarely should limit you from taking the wrong bike down the wrong path too maybe?

Death of a Motorcycle Community

Why does it happen?  Why does any community have a limited shelf-life?  It seems that most online communities at least, have a few years as a blazing, bright star, before they mellow into a brown dwarf and finally fizzle like a sparkler on the 4th.  Sad but true.  The sadness is proportional with the former brightness and warmth of the dying star.

 

The sadness was briefly illustrated in a post made on Motorcycle Alabama this weekend, until it was removed.  I believe I remember what I was thinking when I posted the new thread(I was hammered).  It was mostly sadness and disappointment, but also a bit of anger.  The anger comes from thought of the hours/years spent building the community with the help of several dedicated and motivated people that shared my vision.  Seeing the activity decline to this point motivated me to say something.  Was it well said?  Of course not, I was 3 sheets.  I could barely find the keys to type my rant.  Was it inappropriate?  Meh?  Was it honest?  They were my thoughts, even clouded, they came from my head.   Was it controversial?  Sure.  Why else would I join in the discussion?  Was I angry my thread was deleted?  You bet!

So what is my plan to deal with this slight, this slap in the face?  Most likely my evil plan will begin and end with this post, as I really have not given the topic much thought until this morning.  I am still sad tho?  I am sad that there exists no local online place for real conversation about motorcycles, or real conversation about anything anymore.  I am not even sure there exists such a place nationally/internationally?  With the ever increasing sensitivity to exposure to new ideas, it seems that the reaction is to limit controversy.  It has never been more apparent than it is today that there is a wall being constructed in this country.  This is not a border wall, but it creates a very strong boundary nonetheless.   The wall that is being constructed is a metaphor.  The boundary it creates is much more dangerous than a physical barrier.

The wall is extensive, but it has gates, and gatekeepers.  The gatekeepers make judgments on what ideas can pass thru the gate.  This is where the problems exist – judgement.  When the media gates close, ideas cannot move from one mind to another easily.  Ideas are trapped in the mind(s) of the creator.  Dialogue, discussion and debate are suppressed, and progress is halted.  Bubbles form.  Walls get thicker.  Opinions and ideas are hardened.  Ideas are no longer about truth, they become identity.  If you do not possess the same ideology, you are not “one of us”.  You do not belong in our group, our bubble, or our side of the wall.  Go back to where you came from, heathen!

 

The demise of hugely popular communities like Geo-Cities, MySpace, and now sadly G+, have left a void of connection.  The void was filled by Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and the like.  Unfortunately, Facebook still grows.  It’s success due in large part the user’s ability to create walls.  Users on Facebook can limit how much interaction they have between people and ideas they disagree with.  They can also form and join private and public groups, just like we do in society.  In addition, Facebook still regulates speech thru moderation, removes offending content, speech, and even users – banned – permanently.  Facebook uses humans and algorithms to delete controversial content and users, many based on subjective “rules” of behavior.  I have no real problems with standards or rules.  If I don’t like your dress code, I will visit more casual establishments.    If your town gives me a ticket for 3 miles over the speed limit, I do not return.  I do not have problems with moderation of my speech.  I have problems with hypocrisy.

I understand issues related to online communities, I have built several successful, active, and thriving communities.  They all did very well until sadly, I lost interest.  The last one was here on Bama Rides.  At the peak, several hundred people visited every day, some were members, some not.  I learned quite a bit, made many friends, and even a few enemies, mostly from moderation and limiting speech, oddly.  So I get it.  It’s hard to walk the fine line of fairness.  Hypocrisy is the default.  We are human.  We have emotions, opinions, and ideas that are VERY rigid, and difficult if not impossible to change.  Even for gatekeepers.

So what is the answer?

My answer is stop caring more about feelings than conversations.  Stop building safe spaces.  Allow people to pop your bubbles and other’s.  Tear down the walls.  Allow idea migration across the rigid boundaries of groups, identities, emotions, and ideology.   The ideas you disagree with are filtered, it’s a natural process for humans apparently.  The problem arises when you open your space, your platform, and your media instrument to the public.  Regardless of the fact your platform is a private institution, you are opening to the public, for public interaction.  When you make poor subjective choices about speech on your platform, you are denying speech to individuals or groups that you disagree with, or,  that are unpopular or controversial.   When you deny public speech to any individual or group, you are de-platforming.

Deplatforming has become a very effective tool used against unpopular or uncomfortable speech.  The major problem with deplatforming is hypocrisy.   This tool is unequally applied.  Rules are rules, and if Terms of Service or rules are broken, violators should suffer the consequences – equally.  The tool is most often used against conservative voices, and then labeled “hate speech” or “bullying”, and a variety of other buzz-terms that most times seem a stretch to rational people.  I have found many things offensive online, but have always voted with my mouse, or my thumb.  The idea of having any person that disagrees with me over taste, and not being able to see, hear, or read someone else’s thoughts really disturbs me.  It should disturb you too, or it will when those chickens come home to roost.

I would love to read your thoughts below, even if you disagree with me?

 

 

Replace Head Gasket on BMW 650

So after the first ride after suspension repair, I noticed a hole in the radiator, which I ignored too long and blew the head gasket.  After repairing the radiator, I also ignored a few signs – discolored water in the radiator, until I noticed water in the oil – game over.  I needed a head gasket.  So after a month of struggling with parts, and head removal, I finally was able to swap out the thin, Teflon-coated aluminum membrane that separates the head from the block.

2019 Harley LiveWire Legacy – The Future of Electric Motorcycles

2019-Harley-LiveWire-Legacy

After years of research and development, Harley has come out with what may be a real contender, not only in the electric motorcycle market, but perhaps a contender in the overall motorcycle market.  The idea that you can compete in a traditional market – cruisers, is an amazing concept, but I believe that this revolutionary machine may be the Internal Combustion Engine Killer – ICE-K.

Why would I say something this extreme?  Simple.  This motorcycle, looks, sounds, and FEELS like a traditional ICE machine, yet out performs and weighs less than an ICE machine, and requires a small fraction of the maintenance.  Crossing the barrier and stigma of GREEN conveyance, and less-than-manly machine between your legs is more than a small thing.  If this motorcycle is able to cross the chasm, it will truly become the ICE-K, and there will be nothing to stop it.

After watching the video below, you may change your opinion, like I have.

The Harley-Davidson-Douchebag-Test

Motorcyclists are a tribal, petty people. We make assumptions early in our careers that turn into biases we’ll vigorously defend to anyone ignorant enough to disagree. Luckily, experience and practical knowledge rarely come into play in these discussions; facts are nearly never welcome and typically dismissed as irrelevant. “Look at this asshole… doesn’t he know all Honda’s have been crap since the VFR with the gear-driven cams?” or “synthetic oil is just a huge waste of money”. These statements probably angered or reassured you. There’s rarely middle ground…

As you wade through motorcycling culture, you’ll discover there is no single topic quite as derisive as that of Harley-Davidson. The mere mention of The Motor Company (MoCo as they’re affectionately or sarcastically referred) elicits knee-jerk emotions ranging from unwavering admiration to unbridled scorn. Therein, friends, lies the value of the Harley-Davidson-Douchebag-Test (H-D-D-T).

harley douchebag test

For this test to be of any value, we have to find common ground in that by and large Harley’s are very pleasant motorcycles and there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a pleasant motorcycle. Are they the fastest bike on the road? Not since the 30’s! Do assholes sometimes ride them? You’re damn right, squid! Regardless, Harley makes a machine that’s enjoyable to cruise around on. They’re designed to be easy to ride and a reasonably fun way for people to spend their leisure time or get from A to B. They do this very well. If you can accept this fact, then congratulations! You’ve just passed the H-D-D-T!

However, while self-assurances are always nice, the real value of the H-D-D-T is in speaking with other riders. Curious if a fellow motorcyclist is capable of rational thought and insightful discourse? Mention the MoCo. If their response is anywhere between “absolute trash” or “greatest bike in the world” they are probably a productive member of the motorcycling community and worthy of your attention. If the response is on either far end of the spectrum, you can be pretty sure they’re a douchebag…

Motorcycle douchebags typically fall into one of two categories, each with their respective haunts. The first is the young squid. He’s relatively recent into motorcycling but left his learner bike behind a few years ago for some sort of used high rev’ing Japanese inline 4. The young squid probably wanted a Harley early in his career but fell in with a bad crowd and has been dispensing the vitriol ever since. It’s safe to say he’s probably never ridden a Harley but he doesn’t need to; the spec sheet tells him his 10 year old 600 CC gixer-busa-R weighs 200 lbs less and makes 30 more HP. You’ll typically find the young squid dispensing wisdom on the internet while taking a break shopping for replacement fairings or blowing past you on a curvy road only to slow down/blow a corner a quarter mile ahead… If he survives past 35, odds are very good he’ll grow into a dual sport enthusiast and become a de-facto productive member of the community.

The second type of douchebag is the true believer. Generally firmly into middle age, the true believer has more money than information and is the primary reason why HD dealerships look so damn nice compared to others. The true believer has always wanted a Harley. For his 44th birthday he bought a brand new FLWTF and barely paid over sticker. In the true believer’s eyes, Harley’s are the only real motorcycle. He’ll flippantly dismiss BMWs, Hondas and Ducatis as “jap trash” or how they’re not a real man’s bike. Typically, you’ll find the true believer out in suburbia. He’s rocking his Orlando Harley Davidson shirt and is more than happy to tell you all about his bike and plans to put in some serious miles once the weather is better. Last year, he and a couple of his other riding buddies rode all the way out to the lake and even stopped at Hooters on the back! The true believer loves to talk bikes when you’re in the office or stopped at the gas station. Just be prepared for questions about when you’re finally going to get a “real motorcycle” and comments about full face helmets being unsafe since you can’t see out of them. The true believer will probably have a low speed wreck because he doesn’t understand counter-steering and never ride again. Unfortunately, hope is lost for redemption but the true believer will always be a source of 15 year old, low mileage bikes. Go ahead and low ball him on Craigslist, he’s not getting any other serious offers…

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably thinking “Wow, this guy sounds like douchebag…”Dear reader, you’re absolutely right. I am a motorcycle omni-douche and, as such, I speak from a position of near absolute authority. Café’d Japanese bikes? Let me show you my hacked up CB750! Harleys? Love mine! Dirt? KTM forever! Sumo? It’s the purest form of motorcycling! “I’ve started collecting vintage superbikes… Please allow me to espouse on the genius of Massimo Tamburini!” I even wave at scooters… For the record, I’m not cool nor have delusions of being so. I’m a self-aware middle-aged banker that walks funny when it rains. I say these things to remind us that motorcycling is fun and we should never take it too seriously. Most people already think we’re a little crazy; but as Hunter S Thompson once surmised “being shot out of a cannon will always be more exciting than being squeezed out of a tube”. You wouldn’t ride if you didn’t agree with him.

The next time you meet a true believer or young squid, spend a little time talking to them. Find some common ground and invite them to try something new. We motorcyclists can be a tribal and petty people, and unfortunately our numbers dwindling. If our hobby is to survive the era of self-driving cars and increasing safety regulations we need to recruit and maintain every freedom loving soul we can. Bamarides was founded as a community of riders supporting other riders and promoting the awesomeness that is motorcycling. We’re glad you’re here.