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.

You Ride like a Girl – you wish!

This video was shot in 2014 at a gymkhana event known as Top Gun, held at the Montevallo Safety Center.  The event was free, and meant to help riders improve their skills.  It was quickly apparent that a few riders did not need any improvement, so WHY were they there?  It was very obvious that these same riders had mastered the graceful movement of motorcycles around the course, weaving between the cones like dancers in a ballet.  All skill levels were present, from new riders, to confident and experienced, and finally the experts.  The question remains, why were the experts there?  The answer is simple – They are EXPERTS!  They did not become experts at birth, or at some random point like the flip of a digit on the odometer.  They become experts by practicing their skills.  The experts are separated from EVERYONE else by the possession of a few traits.  The primary trait should be the absence of the idea they were experts.  These people would call themselves “decent” riders, and they are confident in their skill level.  A second and very important trait is the knowledge they can always improve, and the more they practice, the more confidence they collect in return.  Third, these experts are willing to put the time and work in to improve their skill level, and spend time every year doing “silly circles in a parking lot”, or something similar.

gymkhana usaOccasionally, they will knock over a cone.  Sometimes they may even drop their bike – especially if they are running a timed event, competing against other riders for the best time.  They are on display every time they go out to an event, so they are very vulnerable bone-headed moves, and embarrassment in front of hundreds of people.  Yet they still go.  They go because they know the value of an event like this, and the dramatic affect these drills can have on skills.  They know they may screw up, right next to everyone else, and they laugh it off with everyone else.

gymkhana wallflowers

Everyone else laughs, EXCEPT the folks that need the most help.  You may see a few of the folks on the side, watching in disbelief.  These WallFlowers are quite aware that the turns are difficult for the un-practiced.  Most of them don’t even believe they can execute the turns.  Many even blame their machines for the impossibility of turning at a reasonable angle.  Not many people want to admit they cannot execute simple low-speed turns on the machines they should know how to ride.  It is a major problem in America, a lack of basic skills held by most riders.  These skill events are not designed to create experts.  They are designed to illuminate gaps in your skill, and offer a pathway to improvement.  American Gymkhana was designed as a free, fun, and easy path to quickly(1-2 hours) improving your skills.  The results are visible in the experts, the advanced riders, and event the beginners.

 

Weekend adventure illustrates two extremes

I love the video below because it illustrates well the two extremes of adventure motorcycles and gear. The whole idea of having a perfect bike for adventure is ludicrous, and hopefully after watching, you will agree. From my experience, there so often seems to be a reluctance to ride without proper tools (bike, gear, tents, etc.) and silly things like a perceived need of all-or-nothing solutions. This video perfectly points out many aspects of each choice that weighs in one direction or the other.  The conclusion the guys come to is that the “perfect bike” is probably somewhere in the middle, while my conclusion is always Run what ya Brung.

The clear illustration presented is that you can have an adventure regardless of the chosen tools, your budget, time or distance.  So the takeaway is get on your bike and ride this weekend……to somewhere new or cool, with what you have.

Loud Pipes Kill Puppies

Since the first time I heard the phrase “Loud pipes save lives” I wondered where someone gathered the data needed to make the claim.  After discussing the concept with several of it’s advocates, I quickly realized the concept was a PR/marketing device – designed to persuade normal citizenry that the outrageous behavior had a positive benefit.   In other words, the narrative is a prima facie example of the stereotypical, narcissistic biker.  Yet no one seems to ever challenge the concept, for some reason?  The lack of challenge motivates me to create my own spin, and develop an equally absurd assertion – Loud Pipes Kill Puppies.

Oh sure, it sounds ridiculous when first read, but in reality, the idea is just as valid.   Saving Lives vs. Killing Puppies.  The numbers do not speak for themselves, but the propositions, spoken often enough, might actually make a difference in perception.  So to counter a ridiculous notion, I present one of my own.   My hope is that a bit of rational thought *gasp* might reverse the trend of Louder-Is-Better mentality.  Perhaps we can reverse the trend and the effect ridiculous noise-makers have on on your ears.  Maybe we can return a bit of the tranquility of living without daily explosions.  So I think the new narrative might discourage rattling the world’s cage, especially when they consider, only for a moment, their impact of destruction – Think About the Puppies!

loud pipes save lives - NOT

 

Guide to Selling Motorcycles on Craigslist

After years of observing attempted sales on Craigslist, I have been able to compile a list of critical considerations to help you quickly sell your used motorcycle on the worlds largest FREE marketplace.  So here it is, a TOP TEN List of tips to help exchange your motorcycle for cash.

 

1.  Motorcycles Increase in Value – ever been to a vintage motorcycle show?  If you have, you would know that motorcycles triple in value.  Now is the best time to buy one, while they are CHEAP!

 

2  Kelly Blue Book is Wrong – you know what your damn bike is worth, not some damn nerd with a book.  Never listen to anyone that writes books for a living.  If you DON’T know what your bike is worth, look at other similar bikes on Craigslist – they DO KNOW what their bike is worth, otherwise they would not be asking that price for it – especially the ones that are listed for months – they are standing FIRM on price because they KNOW what it is worth.

3. Farkles add value – we all know that adding stuff to your bike adds value.  It may have been a nice bike when it left the factory, but now it is an AWESOME bike with the American flag bracket, BillBoard LEDs, and Ear-Crusher StraightPipes.  Not only do your farkles add the value you paid for them, your time to install them is worth Big Bucks too.  Always figure in:  What you paid+shipping+and hourly rate equivalent to a certified mechanic.

4.  Use keywords and phrases to sell – you would never know it, but fancy keywords and phrases really do work to get the most money for your bike.  Be sure to use phrases like:  “Never seen rain” |  “Barely broken in”  |  “Never been down” | “Never raced”  | “Pussy Magnet”  |  “Real head-turner” | “Never ridden below 75 degrees”  |  “Rare”  |  “Custom Factory Chopper”  Using phrases like these will sell your bike faster than anything else.

cl-ad45.  Stand your ground – don’t be intimidated by folks offering what they call a “fair price”, they are all liars trying to cheat you out of your money.  You should always be upset because they are STEALING from you.   They just insulted your manhood by offering you less than you were asking.  You might even consider hunting them down for an ass beating, teach these crooks a lesson.

6.  Don’t take pictures – everybody knows what your bike should look like, and if they don’t, you can send them some pictures if they ask for them.

7.  Be cryptic in the description – everyone loves a mystery, so the less description, the better.  Make them come check it out, so you can close the deal (or assault them if they offer less)

cl-ad

 

8.  Post several ads every day –  if you want to rise to the top, always post several ads every day so you can beat those other idiots by selling your bike first.

9.   Sending pictures – never post pictures in the ad (#6 above), but be ready to send pictures when asked, even if you have to take the pictures in the middle of the night.  Use your phone to take the pictures, turn off the flash, and smear ear-wax on the lens so nobody can see the bike unless they come to look at it.  Trust me, the suspense will drive them to your garage.

cl-ad2

cl10.  Never tell the truth – if you want to sell your bike, never tell the truth.  Bait buyers with promises of extremely desirable bikes at giveaway prices, and switch them to your bike.  Never tell them what is wrong with your bike, or what has happened to them.  Bad things are never good to reveal to a buyer.  In short, lie.  Lie your ass off till that crap bike is out of your garage.  Once it is gone, it is THEIR problem, let them deal with the broken shit.  You got your money.

Motorcycle Flattrack Racing in Alabama – it’s back

Is it for real?  C’mon, this can’t be for real, unless it is a bunch of old rednecks in a

 

cornfield?  Dirt track racing died out in the 70’s did it not?  I picture the old-timers drifting sideways on the old Harleys and Triumphs, smacking into those old wooden fences and tumbling into the crowd.  So I always assumed it died out because all the riders died out, from crashing or old age.  Sanity prevents newer riders from engaging in this activity – right?

For the last year or so I have been hearing rumors, seeing pictures and even had a few invitations to attend some flat track events in Alabama.  Well the stars aligned Saturday – it was an amazing, cool spring day – prefect for the ride to Toney Al, to attend my FIRST ever dirttrack event at Beaver Creek Speedway.

As I roll into the gate, the kid’s cart racers are coming out, just having finished their events.  I see the bikes are already lined up under ease-ups, and it looks like a smaller version of the Barber Vintage Festival paddock, sans oil-drip-pans.  I feel I am flashing back to an earlier time.  I hear The Stones, and Led Zep playing in my head, a cloud of Turkish drifts in the air.  Then I park the bi ke, and snap back into reality.

The crowd seems very laid back, and after talking to the guy with the microphone, it seems even cooler than ever.  Just a bunch of cool guys that like to race, they are all friends, that miss the days of racing around a banked oval track.  Pat Bedford, President of Tennessee Valley Flattrackers, gave me a short history of the revival of the sport, after a decade or more of absence.  He and some friends just decided to put something back together, and made it happen.

 

The Vintage racers

vintage motorcycle racing in alabama

Lucky for me, we also were treated to the vintage machines with AHRMA racing on the same day.  It was great to see the modified machines, singles, twins, 4 stroke, 2-smoke, all fun to watch.  Talk about a flash back.  Even got to experienc

 

e legendary racer Dave Aldana show everyone how it was and is done in the hard-packed dirt.  Truly a cool experience, and a great way to spend an evening, and I highly recommend to anyone into any kind of racing.  Also a cool event if you just like bikes.

Accessible racing

One thing Pat stressed is how simple and affordable it is to get started in FT racing.  Drop the suspension, cheap road tires, and $20, and you can race too.  Besides the vintage bikes that were there, most others were dirtbike/motards that looked mostly stock – not a single $10k race bike in the mix.  In fact, he also stress

 

ed that it is SO affordable that even kids can race, XR100s with knobbies can run out there.  I really like the idea of accessible racing, and even better racing with your buddies.

 

This might also be the experience that all of our motard-crowd is looking for.  With cheap trackdays typically starting around $150, and don’t even get me started about WERA – this is accessible racing for just about everyone in the family.  Leave the GIXXER at home, pick up a cheap motard/dirtbike and get out there.  Man that looks like fun.

My year of living carefully, dangerously

OK, so it’s been a while since I’ve posted and shared, and I’m sorry about that.  Thought I’d do a little sharing here today, when I can make myself sit still at the computer.

Since December 15, 2013, I’ve done 17 track-days.  This November alone, I did 3 track-days, one of which coincided with a race school (my first of many, I hope).  These numbers should show you what niche I’ve settled in to…although I am by no means giving up the street (as many on the track pipe do)!

As some of you may remember, I started riding a motorcycle in late June/early July of 2013.  That’s a year and a half ago.  A few things I’ve learned about myself:  damn, am I a determined, overthinking stubborn ass!  Thanks to a wonderful crew of guys (one of whom is on Bama Rides too: Lostinbama), we’ve all helped each other help each other, on our path toward becoming racers and better sportbike riders.  We each have varying years of experience and different natures when attacking this extremely challenging sport, but we are all highly motivated and very determined to get there.

Anyways, more about me   I’m sure some of you know that I’m eager to learn, but I am no risk taker; I take things slow, always taking care not to push my mental and physical limits.  At the same time, my head is the one thing holding me back.

I have good mental days and bad mental days at the track, and more often, I have a day with good and bad sessions back to back.  Now what does that say about how much influence your head has on your riding??!!    More recently, I’ve had more good days than bad, or more good sessions than bad sessions, and at this last trackday, I learned that I can have a bad mental session and still do well lap time-wise, which means I’m getting faster.

Earlier in the year, I would write down a few tangible goals before each trackday, of things to work on to improve.  For example, I’d say “1. Get my head lower,” or “2. let off the throttle and brake later,” etc.  That stuff should be easy; just follow the instructions, right?  No.  Until I get my head straight, until I let most of the fears go, my mind will only let me go so fast.  I must work on my head first, and then I can work on those other things.  Since the realization of this (the crew may have had something to do with that epiphany), my goals have since changed before a trackday.  They are now to relax, have fun and trust my bike/tires.  Some of you naturals or those who’ve been riding since before you left the womb may think those goals are silly or too easy, but that is not the case for everyone.

The bump up

I got my bump from Novice to Intermediate after an evaluation by SportBike Track Time (“STT,” the track-day organizer) at Little Tally in July.  At that point, I had already purchased a Novice slot at Road Atlanta in August, but decided to stay in Novice because I had never been to that track…and thank God that I did!  I intimidated myself about the unfamiliar track.  People joke that it’s a few drag strips with some turns in between them, making for a fast track.  It has an extremely long back straight, (in which you can literally top out your bike), that ends in a 90* left turn.  The turns are mostly 90* and tight chicanes, unlike the sweeping curves of Barber.  In the first few sessions, I didn’t like it, and it showed in my pace.  Finally, the rain came!     Why was I so happy about this?  Well, me and one of the guys went out in this pouring rain (we were the only two to brave the track while it was raining) and cruised around the track at a no-pressure speed (as you can imagine).  I was finally able to see the track, instead of trying to fly through it.  It calmed my mind and my perceived “this is too fast!” diminished.  After that session, the track had mostly dried (love the South!) and I had two decent sessions: I felt good, looked good, and did well.  I’ll be forever grateful to the rain for salvaging my day at a track that I was ready to write-off.

I did my first track-day in Intermediate at Barber in late September, and damn was it 180* to the end of the Road Atlanta day in August.  I overwhelmed myself with the idea of now being the slow person in the faster group.  I was tense, and it showed.  I don’t like thinking about this day much…

Next up, Intermediate at Little Tally.  I don’t remember much from this day, so it wasn’t a standout, but I think I did OK, meaning I had some good and some bad sessions.

Then, Barber on October 19th.  I redeemed myself from the awful day back in September!  I was more relaxed, mentally and physically.  My times were more on par.  I had more good sessions than I had been having at previous track-days.

Three Track-days, one month

Now, November:  the month where I did three track-days at three different tracks, and one of them was a race school.
November 2nd:  Little Tally.  And it was a good day!  I had several good sessions, and my times were consistent, which is a good sign.

Then, November 9th.  I did the Jason DiSalvo Speed Academy (JDSA) at Road Atlanta.  When JDSA does a single-day school that coincides with a STT day, you have to have earned your Intermediate or Advanced bump.  As you can imagine, I was a little nervous about riding Intermediate there as my first and last day at Road Atlanta was in Novice, and I didn’t do well for much of it.  For the first session of the day, we did a lead-follow, where one or two of us at a time follow one of the JDSA control riders.  It was brisk that morning, and JDSA students were the only ones braving the cold track initially in that first session, so that forced us to take it slow and ease our tires up to temp.  I followed AMA Daytona Sportbike racer #21, Elena Meyers, and she is tough lol.  There were a couple times when I unknowningly deviated from her line, and she waved me back behind her.  She eased us around the track, and although it was pretty fast for me, it seemed too easy for her (well, it was, let’s be honest), and I guess I felt the lack of pressure, so I rode calmly and felt great.  That was the start I needed to the day!  It sealed my attitude for the remainder of the day, as I questioned my ability to comfortably ride in Intermediate at such a new track at the beginning of the day.  In the county that Road Atlanta is in, they have a 2-hour quiet time on Sundays from 10am-12pm, so after that initial session, we had an almost 2-hour classroom session, taught by none other than AMA Daytona Sportbike racer #40 and co-founder of the school, Jason DiSalvo.  His biggest thing is body position (Google a picture of him, and you’ll understand why), and although I knew that body position is important in safely going faster, I didn’t realize that it could make me mentally and physically relaxed!  He tweaked some things about my body position throughout the day, and well, the rest is glorified fun history!

That day, I had a f’ing great session every time I went out, and I never pitted in from being tired because I was so relaxed (and not tense from my fingertips to my toes like I often am) and because his body position is so efficient (this last weekend at Barber, I learned that you can still get tired, as Barber’s long-ass sweepers take a toll on you no matter how efficient your body position is).  I was smiling every time I rode in from a session, and couldn’t stop grinning even after the day was over.  That was a fucking great day!!!!!   I’m grinning just thinking about it…

Jason DiSalvo to the left (I’m taller than him btw, even if by just a little bit) and Brian Stokes to the right (the other co-founder of JDSA):

 

 

Lap Times

Road Atlanta is 2.54 miles long, and Barber is 2.38 miles long, but because Road Atlanta is much faster, mph-wise, the lap times are actually very similar.  I pulled times off my video, and I did a consistent lap time, andit was faster than my fastest recorded time at Barber.  Remember, this was my second day at this track, and I had ridden Barber 5 times previous to this day, so it goes to show the improvement that I made in Jason’s school.  The improvements I experienced, speed-wise and mentally, made it worth every penny!

This last weekend at Barber, I was a little tense throughout much of the day, yet I still managed to knock over 5 seconds off of my fastest recorded time!

Got all my important stickers on my new plastics:

 

 

I have improved a lot since I first started doing track-days, and even more since I first started riding period.  What’s more hopeful is that I am just getting started:  I see huge improvements still in my future.  I am nowhere near my highest ability, and I can’t wait to experience it when I get there.  I do have plans to race a little next year, so I’ve got lots to work on and many monies to save lol.

My last track visit of the year will be where it a

 

ll started:  Jennings GP in Jennings, FL, next weekend, December 6-7.  It’s going to be a great finish to my first 365 days of track riding, where I’ll get to see my improvement from Day 1 to Day 357 (8 days to the one-year anniversary of my first trackday).

I have improved a lot since I first started doing trackdays, and even more since I first started riding period.  What’s more hopeful is that I am just getting started:  I see huge improvements still in my future.  I am nowhere near my highest ability, and I can’t wait to experience it when I get there.  I do have plans to race a little next year, so I’ve got lots to work on and many monies to save lol.

Custom Motorcycles or Why To Tear Down A Perfectly Good Bike

I have had my ’08 Sportster for a few years now. Though it was not exactly stock when I bought it and had even been modified further once I got my hands on it, it just wasn’t the bike I wanted it to be. It was high time I tore it apart, changed and replaced some parts and put it all back together again. On the day I started this project a friend was there to drink with me, provide extra hands and, as it would turn out, inspire some pretty thought provoking questions.
There were two things that started the wheels turning. Number one was my swap from wide glide ape hangers to narrow glide ape hangers. If you are reading this, I surmise that you know what ape hanger handlebars are. In case you do not, they are more or less just very tall handlebars. Most aftermarket manufacturers offer both wide and narrow glide apes to accommodate two popular Harley-Davidson front end types.
My bike had wide glide apes on it when I bought it. Since my bike has a narrow glide front end, this mismatch created (to my eyes at least) an unsightly overhang. When I put the new bars up against the old bars, my friend shook his head. To him, the difference was negligible. To me it demanded attention. Changing out handlebars usually isn’t a big deal. It is slightly more painful if your electrical wiring is run through them which, of course, mine was. After attempting to free the pins from their factory quick-disconnects, I decided to cut the wiring harness which seemed to distress my friend even more.
Next up was the paint issue. My bike was black and I repainted it…black. Granted, it is a different shade of black and furthermore a specialty black but still, I went from black to black. Much like changing handlebars, painting a bike is not a huge deal. At least for my DIY “ride not polish” style of bike it isn’t. My friend chuckled at me again shaking his head.
To him, all of these efforts were unnecessary. As he explained, he was happy to tear his bike apart when it needed attention. Around the same time, his bike was suffering from electrical gremlins and it seemed it was coming apart on a daily basis. This type of necessary wrench-turning was acceptable whereas my elective, unnecessary variety was lost on him. I joked that “awesome isn’t for everyone” and we got a laugh out of it but in the end it was clear we did not see eye to eye.
After he finished his Bloody Mary and was on his way, I was left to my own devices and the goal of furthering my customization efforts. I started thinking…why was I doing this? What was my motivation to take something that worked perfectly well and change it? Why did I go about in some way or another modifying every motorcycle I have ever had? Why was stock unacceptable?
I am obviously not alone on this front. Harley-Davidson riders in particular are fond of changing up their bikes. From simple chrome farkles to full-blown one-off choppers and customs, outside of the dealership it is rare to see a factory stock motorcycle. If the part and accessory aftermarket is any indication, Harley is the most modified motorcycle on the market. Why is this? The company would probably sell you a line about their owners being rugged individualists and that change and customization is freedom or some other drivel like that.
I cannot say why most riders change their bikes. I do know that for me, it begins with the idea that a motorcycle is not only transportation. It is fun and excitement. Otherwise, all motorcyclists would all be driving cars. A bike should look just as good in a parking space as it does going down the road. Even at rest it should look sleek, sexy and capable. I feel that the bike should be an extension of the rider. In my case, I would not be caught dead on a yellow bike. One of my friend’s bikes is painted with orange and black tiger stripes. It fits him very well. I like my bikes to look different. I want to look at it and know that it is unique and that it is mine.
I guess since I feel that motorcycles are awesome, I want my bike to fit the best possible vision I have in my head for it. Other people would obviously disagree with how awesome it is or is not and that is a moot point. It is my bike and therein lies the beauty. A lot of custom builders and shops will sacrifice functionality for cool and that is where I draw the line. If a bike’s tank, for example, looks great but doesn’t carry enough fuel to get you down the road, it wouldn’t work on my bike. There are a lot of things in the custom scene that fit into this category but I digress. Besides, it is their bike, not mine.
As long as their have been motorcycles the guys who ride them have been taking them apart to make them, better, worse and most importantly theirs. I just cannot see myself on a stock bike and I think that will be the case until I’m old and have a hip replacement and end up on a factory styled bagger. Even then, if I am too old and tired to turn a wrench or stencil my initials on the hard bags, maybe it is time to hang up the helmet. Until then, they are all coming apart and God willing, when they go back together they will not be the same. They will be custom. They will be awesome. They will be mine.