Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to all!

And if you don't celebrate Christmas and you're offended, I really don't care. :D

And I mean that in the kindest way I possibly can.

Over the past two days, I have not been out riding. I've had responsibilities that have required the use of my wife's Toyota, so I've been relegated to riding in a cage. Just the same, I did get a look at the new Honda PCX 125 yesterday, and it is a sharp little bugger. I plan to get over there sometime next week, so long as there's no snow on the road, so I can give one a test ride and see if it really is as sporty as it looks.

I'd have taken a picture, but I only had my iPod on me at the time, and it's picture quality for indoor shots is less than stellar.

We went to our church's annual Christmas Eve service tonight and I sang a duet with my pastor while our wives played accompaniment. As you can see, we only have one violinist, so the pastor's wife never ends up playing second fiddle...Buh dum bum.

Christmas Eve is the part of the Christmas season I most look forward to due to the solemnity of the observance.

For all of you who celebrate the holiday, a most blessed and merry Christmas to you. For those of you who do not, merry Christmas to you anyway. :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cold reception

People are funny creatures. Over the last few months, I've learned to recognize a look I get from folks when they see me show up someplace with my helmet in hand. It's that look that expresses a multitude of thoughts all at once, including, "wow, that guy's committed!" all the way to "wow, that guy should be committed!"

Most folks don't get it, but I'm noticing that more people are beginning to understand. With regular gas at over three dollars, folks are once again pondering the wisdom of alternative transportation.

For myself, I'm happily buzzing along despite the cold. My chill-busting outfit makes all the difference and I'm content to ride to work, despite the nip in the air. The scoot takes a bit longer to warm up, but it's well worth it just to be outdoors, instead of cooped up in a vehicle recycling the same air I've already breathed a hundred times.

It's certainly one way to know you're alive.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cold running

Winter has set in yet again, and I'm still riding, mostly just to work.

It's been quite a while since my last post, but life has been treating me well of late and I've been out living it.

The Sabre's carb's are drained and tomorrow it will get some sta-bil in the tank and a new cover to keep the snow off. I wish I had the money to put it in storage, but I'll have to make do with what I have access to.

The scoot is running well, but has it's normal complaints and splutters with the cold, so it's been getting a bit more warm up time as it's gotten in previous winters.

I've been looking into getting a culinary arts degree and have checked out two schools so far. In fact, this morning, my son and I took the train to Philly to check out the Culinary Arts program at the Art Institutes. After viewing the facilities and hearing the sales pitch, we went down Market Street to the historic district. After wandering around in the cold, seeing the underground Ben Franklin museum and the Liberty Bell (and skipping Independence hall because they wanted us to buy a ticket for a tour), we ended up at the National Constitution Center.

They are currently featuring the Art of the American Soldier, which is an exhibition of art compiled over the years by the U.S. military through the work of combat artists. The artwork was very moving and thought provoking, and my son was enthralled by it.

About 2pm, we started walking back to the train station and it was a nice day for it. Between riding my scooter and spending hours in the cold woods, I must have built up a resistance to the extreme cold and hardly noticed it during our trek back up Market Street.

We saw a couple scooters, both Vespas. One was parked and the other was motoring down Market Street while we were heading out of town. I admire fellow scootsters who are willing to brave the elements, though their reasons may differ from mine.

As the winter progresses, I will continue to commute on my scooter, but will gladly hope for spring. I'm warm enough on my commutes, but the cold doesn't really lend itself to longer rides.

I have noticed more folks on scooters over the last month or so, despite the cold, and with gas now cresting the $3.00 mark, I'm not terribly surprised. If the gas prices spark another scooter boom, I hope that those of us who already ride can influence prospective scooter riders into starting with at least 100cc machines. 50's are good and all, but more often than not, they end up being stepping stones to faster machines. This isn't necessarily bad, but it seems more sensible to just skip that step and go with a slightly stronger machine to begin with, with more staying power.

So, despite my flying under the radar, I'm still here. I've been living life and enjoying it. I'm still hunting and riding the scoot to the woods and fields. I haven't gotten a deer yet this year, but I've used the scoot to get to the woods for both bow and rifle seasons.

Proving once again the versatility of these little machines.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I got it covered

It's been a while since my last post. Unfortunately, life has been busy, and a little depressing. I still ride the scoot a lot, and the Sabre too, though the scoot has been getting more use what with the cooler weather. A fairing is a nice thing to have.

I'd had the scoot uncovered for a while due to the cover acting like a sail in the wind. I've had to replace enough broken parts due to falls, so I recently had a local amishman make a custom cover...

Well...two actually.

The pair of covers works rather well, and has allowed me to go out to a dry seat and non-cloudy mirrors for two days in a row now. Since the covers are fitted for both the front and the back of my specific scooter, they work perfectly and the wind has little extra fabric to get a grip on, so the scoot should be less likely to blow over.

There are gromets along the bottom as well, to tie the cover in place with bungees or twine, or whatever.

This will also make seat cleaning a snap once the snow flies...Just pop the cover off, and off we go...Though I'll have to clean off the floorboard.

All in all, I'm pleased with the cover. It has worked well since I picked it up on Tuesday, and despite the cost, it will protect my investment from the elements.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bit of unfortunate scooter news

The owner of the Segway Corporation died over the weekend. He was, apparently, riding a Segway at the time.

See the full story here.

It's ironic really. Sad, but the irony is undeniable.

And yes, I know the Segway is considered somewhat of a joke amongst many in the scooter world, but it is two wheeled transportation, and you have to admit, the technology is pretty darn cool.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tuesdays @ Roots - Meetup and ride

Meeting up with a fellow scootster at Roots Farm Market gave me an idea. I'm right here in East Pete, and so is Roots. Why not set up a weekly meeting with other scootsters in the area for every Tuesday at Roots.

Here's the plan. Meet at the two wheel only parking on the east side of the compound at 9am. Wander around until about 10, then at 10:30, go on a ride through some of the back roads for about an hour or so.

So, if you have a scoot or motorbike and you live in Lancaster County or nearby, meet me at Roots on Tuesday between 9 and 10:30am.

Quite a week I've had...

It hasn't been a bad week, just a long one. Last weekend, the scoot took me hunting on both Friday and Saturday evenings, though Friday was brutally hot so the hunting that day didn't last terribly long. Saturday was nice, with lots of wind.

The fields were peaceful and sitting out in nature was a calming pursuit. Sunday found me exhausted, and I slept through a large chunk of it. Monday came too quickly, and I was back to work again.

(Image edited to blur faces for privacy purposes)

I worked a 16 hour shift since none of the residents had workshop. We all went to the Long's Park Arts and Crafts festival. The gentlemen all enjoyed themselves immensely, and I and the other staff had a pleasant time enjoying our time with them.

We returned home, and the shift changed at 2:30. The staff who had worked with me in the morning left, and two other staff came in to replace her. Both of them are now motorcyclists, at least partially due to my influence. The bikes pictured are a 2001 Suzuki Savage, My 1983 Honda Sabre, and a 1981 Honda CB 750 Custom. I've ridden both bikes, and they are both nice in their own ways.

The Savage is a little low and light for my tastes, but it seems a competent ride. The CB Custom is by far a completely different bike. The inline four does not like to rev as much as my Sabre's V4, nor does it have the same unbridled ferocity, but it's ride is so gentle and unhurried, I think I could ride it comfortably for hours. If I had to compare them to cars, the Savage would be a compact hatchback; functional and easy to ride, the Sabre would be like a muscle car (perhaps a late 70's Camaro); lots of punch and only enough comfort to make the ride bearable, and the CB would be akin to an old Buick; plush, unhurried, and comfortable with no question of getting to one's destination.

On Tuesday morning, I met another friend at Roots' Farm Market here in East Petersburg. He came buzzing in on his Genuine Buddy International (150cc). The picture was taken with a Helix I found parked on the West side of the complex. We walked around the grounds a bit, then rode to Columbia to take some flowers to my wife.

The Buddy seems like a nice enough scooter. It's got nice looks and is at least as peppy as my Kymco. He had whitewalls on it, and it was classy looking. I'd look into them for the People 150, but I don't think they would look right.

So, while Summer comes nearer its end, and autumn looms on the horizon, the weather has cooled and riding is enjoyable once again. Both my scooter and bike are inspected and my Sabre's speedometer finally works.

All seems to be well with the world.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Getting out

Wednesday marked the first day of dove and goose season. I got off work at 9:30 and headed across the road to the neighboring farm where the cornfield had recently been cut. The landowner was happy enough to give me permission to hunt his land, and on my way back to my scooter, I saw this little bundle of fur piled up in front of a shed.

I'm a cat person...well, more of a kitten person really, so I had to have a picture. The little fuzzballs are about three weeks old, having just opened their eyes about a week ago. If I didn't already have enough cats, I would be very tempted to adopt the little black one.

My son had an appointment at 2:00, so while he was being seen, I went to the hardware store to pick up some bolts for making my rack more secure. On my way there, I saw this nice little Vespa LX150 parked outside a pizza shop.

I got my bolts and went back to get my kid, then at 5 pm, I headed off to the fields. My rack modifications worked great. The gun case stayed on perfectly and while I had to be more cautious of my width, it was well worth it.

It was warm, but not unbearably so. I'm so out of practice with my shotgun that the mourning doves were perfectly safe. I went through about a half box without taking any game.

The steers in the neighboring field did not seem to mind. They looked up every now and again, but the camouflaged hunter with the noisy shotgun didn't faze them.

As I was pulling into my driveway, my neighbor noticed the gun case on the back of the scoot. My neighbor had the perfect observation:

"You might be a redneck if..."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Nice rack!

Perhaps the greatest challenge for the scooterist, aside from avoiding crazy motorists, is carrying the things you wish to carry, in order to do the things you wish to do, whatever that may be and wherever that may take you.

For this reason, most modern scooters come with a back rack and underseat storage. Some scooter companies offer additional add-on options such as front baskets, hard bags, and so on. Such things are also available as after-market items as well. The downside of this is that these additional items cost money.

If you're like me, money is probably something you are currently trying to save rather than spend, so you may need to be creative. While it is equipped with a rear luggage rack, the People 150's rack is tiny compared to some others, and will not accomodate a crate or other contrivance, so I had to modify the rear rack myself.

I looked at several options. PVC pipe was a thought, but I could not find connectors that would work for my needs. Copper pipe was another option, but I didn't think I wanted that kind of temptation out there for copper scavengers, plus, the stuff is not cheap. So I turned to my basement where I found some 1X3 lumber from a previous project.

A few slices with a saw, a couple holes made with a drill, and several countersunk screws later, and I had my rack extender.

I secured it with some bolts, and then decided to look at my options for carrying devices.

A crate will fit nicely and can be bungeed or zip-tied in place. While it doesn't look elegant at all, a crate can be highly utilitarian.

Since I don't have a car, I was concerned about how I could get my shotgun to the range or the fields without alarming other motorists. A shotgun slung over the shoulder would likely raise too many eyebrows.

I have two Plano hard gun cases, so I used one for some experimentation. For the moment it is secured with screws, but I will be changing that to bolts and wingnuts eventually to enable relatively easy removal.

A test ride revealed that the balance and aerodynamics of the scoot have not been affected. I will have to be careful to balance the load inside the box, but while empty, it doesn't cause any ill effects.

As I was riding, I stopped in at Lee's house. I've been meaning to get over there, and since my afternoon was open, it was an excellent time to stop in. We talked over some iced tea, and he suggested that I attach some reflectors to the box to minimize raised eyebrows from those with badges.

We talked a little more before I hopped back on the scoot. Lee had pointed out one of his neighbors who rebuilds bikes as a hobby. Since I was passing by that gentleman's house, I stopped to admire his most recent accomplishment; a fully restored 1984 Kawasaki 454. While we were talking, he said he had some reflectors I could have, so they are now on either side of the hard case.

I suppose it's a bit unorthodox, but as I said, sometimes you just have to be creative when you don't have any extra funds to throw around. All told, my day's expenses total exactly $0.00. That's a number I can gladly accept.

**Edited to add:**

I rode around with the gun case on the back a little more and one of the nuts holding the rack on came loose. I replaced it and put it on with a lock-washer this time. Now it should hold.

All I need to do now is stain it and try to weatherproof it a bit.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Relaxing after work.

Today was a fun day at work. I mean that in the most sarcastic way possible.

It wasn't the residents, they were fine.

It wasn't my co-workers, they were fine too.

It wasn't the work, since I really enjoy my job.

It was the migraine I had from about 7 am until I left work.

I'm wondering if it's not something in the heating/cooling system ducts that might be messing with me, but it was not a good time in any event.

After I got on the bike and got the wind in my face, my headache went away. The Sabre thrummed along happily beneath me, taking me safely home. Once I got home, my son and I went fishing along the Conestoga River.

We took the car, since my wife wanted to come along, and she sat at a picnic table reading while we loaded some live bait on circle hooks and headed down to the water.

The water itself was refreshingly cool, despite the 90 degree heat, and I had soon settled into the rhythm of casting my makeshift fishing combo out into the flow of the river. It is interesting how necessity breeds odd bedfellows, as I did something with my tackle which would probably give a fly-fishing purist an aneurysm. I paired an ultralight spinning reel with my 15 year old 8 ft fly rod and I was amazed by the flowing casts I achieved. It also made fighting the smallmouth and red-eyes (rock bass) very entertaining.

The Conestoga is, perhaps, not the best smallmouth bass fishery in south-central PA, but it's not far from home and the bass aren't afflicted by any of the issues they are having in the Susquehanna River at the moment (odd fin formations and such).

My son did not do as well as I, but he did manage to hook a bullhead and one tiny smallmouth.

All told, I caught around ten fish, of which none were gut hooked and all were released, though one exceptional specimen (about 14 inches), was allowed to pose with me in the above picture. This was accomplished through the use of a circle hook, which I have come to trust as my weapon of choice for all live bait fishing. Circle hooks, due to their shape, tend to cut down on gut-hooking, which allows for more successful catch and release.

One important note, when fishing for bass it is pertinent that the fisher limit handling of the body of any fish that he or she will be releasing. Bass secrete a protective mucous on their scales which can be rubbed off by the hands of a careless fishermen; however, through use of a net and picking the fish up by the lower jaw, this can be largely eliminated (as illustrated in the above photo). This method does not harm the fish, and minimizes contact with the mucous which the fish depends on to protect itself from bacteria and the like.

It was nice to get out fishing this weekend. I've only been out a few times so far, and I have to say, I miss the sport dearly.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The price of exhaustion

No, I did not wreck, but I did learn something about my limits this week.

I have read many times, and heard it said many more, that riding long distances or for long periods of time, can wear out a motorcyclist. For this reason, I have never ridden long distances without pacing myself and taking breaks when necessary.

This week marked the annual day camp and teen week for my Church. As one of the youth leaders, I pitched in and helped out with the teens on four of the five evenings. It was a genuine blast by the way.

This event is held at Woodcrest Retreat just northeast of Ephrata, PA. For the first three days, my wife and I took our son to the camp in our Toyota, but for the last day, my wife was not feeling well, so the kid and I hopped on the Sabre, and off we went. Knowing that the roads deeper into the retreat were gravel, I told him he would need to dismount once we were past the paved areas. Even so, I didn't proceed much further and parked the bike at the top of the hill instead of parking down the gravel drive near the pavilion.

Now comes the part about exhaustion.

After the teen camp festivities had concluded for the evening, I slowly coaxed the Sabre out of the graveled areas, and onto unbroken pavement, where my son re-mounted and we started home. We were nearing home when I started to feel some difficulty keeping the bike upright. It dawned on me that I was overtired and this was a symptom. I had worked all week, then devoted four hours each evening to the church's teen camp, and the week's activities had taken their toll. I said a quick prayer and was able to regain my focus, but I immediately got off the highway and made my way to quieter roads which would provide less risk to myself and my precious passenger.

We made it home without incident, but I have a new perspective on exhaustion and riding that I had little previous appreciation for. I'm not sure if it is a feature of ADHD or just something unique to me, but even when I am tired, I've never felt quite the same while riding, and riding my bike or scooter has never driven me to the point of exhaustion. We folks with ADHD tend to have higher metabolisms and tend to have trouble slowing down. Perhaps this accounts for my heightened stamina while riding, and could explain why I have never had the same difficulty riding as I experienced last night.

I wanted to take a ride tonight, but had worked another eight hours this morning, then spent a few hours at my church's annual carnival. Having learned my lesson from last evening, I decided to remain at home and watch Bicentenial Man with my wife.

My point is this, for less experienced, and even more, the warnings regarding exhaustion and riding must not be ignored. From personal experience, I can now vouch for how true these warnings are.

I'm very thankful that my experience ended well. I can't say I will never ride while exhausted again, but I hope I will be able to avoid doing so with a passenger, especially when that passenger is my son.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Inspection blues

It just so happens that both of my bikes are due for inspection and registration renewal at the end of August. The scooter passed inspection, but needed a replacement left brake lever. The Sabre, on the other hand...

Let's just say the speedo issue is catching up with me. While I was able to replace the cable and sensor about a month ago, the speedo still bobbles up and down but doesn't register anything about 10mph, which indicates that one of the gears, either on the top end, or the bottom end has probably lost some teeth.

So, I've got the bottom end on its way from a seller on eBay. Hopefully this fixes the problem. I just have to find somebody with a jack and an air wrench so I can get the front wheel off.

This should be fun.

On the plus side, I was able to take a friend riding yesterday. He gets around in a wheelchair and had never ridden a motorcycle before. He held on for dear life, but reported that he had enjoyed himself.

Hopefully I can get this speedo situation resolved so I can provide more rides in the future.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Interesting electric concept

After finishing my previous article, I got to looking at the Zap! electric vehicles website, and came across the Alias.

If it's not just talk, this could be a step in the right direction. It's still a plug-in electric and doesn't answer the problems of pollution from power plants, or the price aspects, but it does address some of the performance concerns, and a range of 100 mpc (miles per charge) is better than most other electrics. They make the claim that they are in collaboration with Lotus on the design aspects, which is promising.

It's a classy looking vehicle in the photos (though the above photo was obviously computer manipulated: the lighting and shadows aren't right).

If they can pull it off, and put a more affordable pricetag on it, the Alias might just be the ticket.

It's Electric!...

But it only goes 40 miles on a charge and costs more than a Prius!

I've been sitting on this topic for a few weeks because I've been trying to ponder all of the angles and provide as fair an assessment as possible.

Chevy recently unveiled the Volt and it was touted by our president as groundbreaking and so on. Well, I hate to say he's wrong, but he's wrong.

First off, GM has been talking about the Volt for several years now. As I recall, it was supposed to have hit production a few years ago, but they hit some technological snags. Now, they present it as such a wonderful breakthrough and herald it as an eco-vehicle.
Well...It's not.

Let's start with the range. 40 miles, extended by a gas generator if necessary. That 40 miles is achieved by plugging in the car to a power outlet, where the power most likely comes from a coal fired power plant. Yeah, that's "eco-friendly" alright. Now, if it were powered by a nuclear plant, I'd easily concede that point, but with the current view of nuclear power by the current regime in Washington, that's not likely to happen.

The range on the electrical charge is about the same or perhaps a bit better than most of the completely electric vehicles from China.

Take the "Zap Xebra" for example. It gets 25 mpc (miles per charge) stock, which, if I remember correctly, can be extended to about 40 mpc with an optional expansion battery pack. The Xebra lacks a gas engine and only has three wheels, which are two of its biggest drawbacks. It qualifies as a motorcycle due to its wheel configuration, requiring the operator to obtain a motorcycle license. On the other hand, at $11,000, it's far less expensive than the Volt, and for someone who will use it for short commutes, it may be a far more attractive option (despite the country of origin and the inferior fit and finish that usually entails).

That takes us to the second issue with the Volt; its price. At over 40 grand, the only vehicle that Chevy currently makes that costs more is the 'Vette. The average American, struggling to break even in our current economy (raises hand), can't pay that much for a new car. The price relegates the Volt to "Fashion accessory" status for the elite who want to tout how "green" they are. This is as hypocritical as those who drive a Prius for the same reason. Even if they run the vehicle solely on battery power without ever hitting the gas generator, they still have to plug it in, which (as mentioned) probably uses coal power, which adds pollutants to the air, endangers the lives of coal miners, and so on. Then there's the question of what to do with the battery once it is no longer viable for recharging (which will happen eventually). The toxins in the battery will need to be disposed of and could be ecologically damaging (the biggest issue I have with the Prius).

It seems I rolled my third point into the second. In any case, I want electric vehicles to succeed. I want to see the U.S. move to clean, sustainable, constant power options (read clean nuclear). The problem is, the current electric vehicle market just doesn't measure up. Other than the Tesla Roadster, none of the electric vehicles that are currently available have anything resembling a respectable range. Not only that, but electric vehicles have yet to solve the problems of affordability for the masses and being truly environmentally friendly.

I hate to say it, but until something better comes along, the internal combustion engine is here to stay.

Whatever happened to Hydrogen Fuel cells?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Rough day - Some bright points.

I woke up this morning feeling dizzy. It was a poor start to the day. I was supposed to teach Sunday School for the teen boys at church, but I could not risk trying to ride 20 miles while feeling loopy, so I called one of the other teachers to have her fill in. I went back to bed and felt a bit better by the afternoon.

Unfortunately, my son decided it was time to express his teenager-ness. I know it's normal, but this was a bit over-the-top. I was hurt and was very close to losing my temper. Since I was feeling physically better, I went for a little ride on the Sabre to clear my head. As I was riding, I came across a field of Sunflowers.

The bright yellow flowers were a reminder of God's grace. He knew I would need cheering up, and led me to a road with just the remedy.

After shooting the above image, I passed a tractor pulling a haywagon loaded with kids. As they hollared for me to blow my horn, I revved the V4 and blew the Sabre's dual horns in glee as I whizzed past. I don't generally hotdog at all, and this probably only marginally qualified, but it was fun to hear the kids on the wagon cheer and laugh.

So, it's been a day of pluses and minuses, but in the end, I am aware that God is good. Even in my darkest times when I am feeling lost and hurt, He has control and will get me through.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

More mechanical shenanigans

Today was a very relaxing and mostly uneventful day. I started out the day by running to the local Honda dealer for some oil and a filter, then took my wife and son to Costco for the obtaining of household necessities, we then went to the local hospital to return a holter monitor that I had to wear yesterday to observe for heart palpitations (fun fun), and returned home after that.

The Sabre needed an oil change (hence the visit to the Honda dealer), so I got out the necessary tools and got to work. There's something about getting down on the ground with tools and getting grease and grime under your fingernails that is terribly fulfilling. I think I've said something similar before, but it's worth saying again. After I finished with the Sabre, I changed the scoot's oil as well. My kid helped me clean the scoot's air filter as well.

I then rode the Sabre to work since one of my clients needed to buy some things at Walmart, and it seemed to purr with the fresh oil in it. After helping my friend out with his shopping, I decided stretch the Sabre's legs a bit. and headed for the highway.

As I turned onto the on ramp for 222 south, I was confronted by a huge line of traffic which did not seem inclined to move. I backed off the ramp, as many others were doing, and went around by another route. I turned onto Hunsicker road to see if I could see the reason the traffic was not moving. At this point, it appeared that the vehicular constipation had eased a bit, but the cause was obvious. A truck had caught fire in the opposite lanes and was completely obstructing nothing. Hence the need to go slow and stare at the burned out hulk of the trailer (all that remained at the scene), even though the emergency vehicles and the tow truck had already departed.

On the positive side, I got to take the roundabout route, which allowed me to stop in Neffsville and give the Sabre a bath at the car wash.

After coming home, my son wanted to go for a bike ride, so the bikes came up from the basement, got a tuneup on the front walk, and once I got on the seat of my old 18 speed mountain bike, I almost fell right off. I had discovered the difference between a bicycle and a motorcyle or scooter: several hundred pounds.

I finally got my bearings and we were off to explore some of the local paved bike trails, and I was reminded of something else I'd forgotten: I am very out of shape.

On the other side of it, I had fun spending time with my son. I'll be sore tomorrow, but it was worth it. It felt good to be outside, moving myself rather than trusting an engine. Not that I plan to stop riding the Sabre or the Scoot anytime soon, but it was nice to break from my normal routine.

All in all, it was a good day to mess around with my tools and spend some quality time with my kid. He's had a rough couple months and seemed to enjoy the one on one time.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


After two months of trying to find the right tool for the job, I have finally managed to replace the overlarge radiator hose that was used to patch my bike up on my ride north in May. It took a very short screwdriver and several bruised knuckles.

I think I still need to tighten one of the hose clamps a bit more, but after fighting with it for an hour in the heat, I have retreated to my nicely air conditioned home.

There are major advantages to doing your own wrench work on a motorcycle. These I will proceed to relate:

  • No mechanic fees...until you break something that you can't fix yourself and have to take it to the mechanic anyway.
  • Extra hardware you never knew you had. Those screws and bolts weren't under your bike when you started, but now you have more to add to your toolbox, since they couldn't possibly belong least as far as you can remember.
  • The discovery that tools have multiple purposes, not only can you use them to fix things, but if they slip, you might suddenly have a piercing where you never expected it...and a nice ride to the ER to get the blood to stop flowing.
  • Cheap cologne, though the smells of oil, antifreeze, gasoline, and sweat tend to drive the ladies away rather than attract them.
  • New scars and bruises that you can tell your friends were from a nasty fall while taking a turn too fast, when in reality you caught your fingers on something while you were elbows deep in the engine, and while trying to pull yourself free, the bike fell on top of you.
So grab your tool kit, buy yourself an old CB-175 or something equally troglodytic, and go validate yourself while conquering your mechanical beast...Just keep your mechanic's number handy, and have someone else on hand to call 911...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Spousal permit test - First attempt

The wife went to try for her permit this afternoon. She didn't pass, but only by one question. If I remember correctly, I only got to question 16 before I had used up all my wrong answers. She's going to brush up on the book some more and we'll go back again on Friday.

I went for a ride with my pastor again today. His scooter is back in working order again, and he's been riding around all day to visit various parishioners.

I was impressed at the lean he's able to achieve when cornering. He scrapes the center stand almost every time. Of course, he's about 250 pounds and riding on 10" wheels, so he's riding a bit lower than I.

All in all, it's been a pretty nice day. I'm sitting next to my kid on the couch, playing computer and video games with him. I'd go out and mow the lawn, but it's brown and not even the weeds are growing.

Friday, June 25, 2010


This is getting entirely too irritating.

It seems like every day now, when I check blogger to see if there are any comments, there are one or two, and they are always represented by little boxes filled with Chinese language characters, with a link to some site that has nothing to do with the content of this one.

Need I say it? I hate spam and spammers! I especially detest those nefarious individuals involved in phishing and such.

The "bot" filter obviously does no good, and the disclaimer I've enabled has done no good either.

I will continue to reject comments that contain links, are not in English, or have absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand.

Some of my readers do post links to legitimate websites with helpful information, and those will still be posted.

It's not bad enough that my Internet service is horrible. It seems now I have to wade through a bunch of muck just to blog a little.

Ok, enough griping, I have to go to work now. The scoot's low on gas, so I'm going to take the Sabre instead.

I was able to obtain the official replacement Honda radiator hose I needed. Had I known it was just the hose, and not the clamps that were to go with it, I would have shopped around and found the correct diameter hose. It cost $26.99 + tax.

With that, I really need to head out the door. I hope my readers have a better day than I have had so far.

Ride safe.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

No riding today...and other odd ramblings

Yesterday started as it normally does, save for a slight tickle in my throat, and a mild mucousy cough. I went to work, came home played some PS2 games with the kid, then took a nap, a very long nap for me, which should have been a sign of certain doom.

Anyway, after my nap, my wife wanted to go ride the scooter, so I said sure, and off we went. I was feeling a little weak, but decided I'd be ok if I got some more rest. Shelly did very well, and even went on the short road between the parking lots. She is tightening up her turns a little, and is talking seriously about getting her motorcycle permit.

After we returned from the park, I rested some more, and actually felt worse when it was time to leave for church. By the time we got to church, I felt like my lungs were being stretched out and I was very lightheaded. We ended up at the doctor's office not long after that.

The PA who saw me said I didn't have bronchitis or anything like that yet, but that I was suffering from a bad sinus infection. Oh the joy! She gave me a prescription for a Z-Pack, and sent me on my way.

So, I've been laying on the couch, alternately sleeping and messing about with my various video game contraptions.

I really wish I were riding instead.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lights on the horizon

It's the middle of June, and already, a phenomenon I've observed every year I've lived in Lancaster County is occurring. I noticed it last night while I was riding my scooter home from work around dusk.

The cornfields on either side of the road were flashing and flickering with millions of little yellow lights. Fireflies seem to abound in the cornfields of Lancaster county. I'm not certain why, but it is beautiful to behold.

I pulled my scooter to a safe place on the side of the road and watched a while, wishing I had a camera capable of capturing the scene. The gentle putt-putt of the engine accenting the sounds of the night.

Rural Lancaster County is so peaceful and idyllic and is, in may ways, out of place. Not ten miles from where I sat, Lancaster City crouched like some noisy urban beast, ready to devour the peace and serenity of its surroundings. Even so, compared to most cities, Lancaster is small and relatively tame. The urban sprawl turns into Suburban sprawl, which suddenly mixes with patchy corn fields and farms, tapering off into farmland for as far as the eye can see.

And at night, in the late spring and summer, that farmland comes alive with lights far more beautiful than any city can produce, flickering and flashing by the millions.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Learning curve

When I first learned to ride a scooter, it was an old Honda Aero 50. This was in the fall of 1993. I was in my first year of college at a little known Bible institute in Pottersville New York. One of the guys in my dorm, remembered now only by his nickname, Shleppi, owned the scooter and let me use it on occasion to pop around here and there.

It cruised at about 25, only hitting 30 to 35 on downhill slopes, but putzed along well enough with it's 4 stroke engine. I didn't know much about scooters then, but it got me into wanting one for myself eventually.

So, the time finally came when I would have my first scooter delivered to my home. The little red bugger arrived on the back of a truck, and I decided to ride it to work, only to nearly run into a curb while pulling out of my development.

Now, over two years later, I'm teaching my wife how to ride. I've learned from my experiences and she has come a long way in the four practice rides she has taken. Yesterday, we went back to the parking lot near the East Petersburg pool, and she rode with confidence. She is actually considering going to get her permit this week so we can ride some back roads together.

I wish I could get her a scooter of her own, perhaps a cute little 125 with a coat of pink paint, but money is tight at the moment, so she will just have to use mine.

It's been exciting for me to see how quickly she has taken to riding. She's still a little wobbly, but she is getting the idea of leaning and cornering. We'll still take it slow for a while, but I am thrilled to finally have my wife as a riding companion.

Breaking News: New Exfoliant Discovered!

It's the tail end of spring, and motorcyclists across Pennsylvania are riding around the countryside without their helmets. I rarely ride without mine since I really like keeping my brains inside my head; however, the other day, I forgot to grab mine, was locked out of the house since my wife had our son at an appointment and I'd forgotten my house key inside, so I decided to take the risk and ride the motorcycle without it.

This is how I discovered a new exfoliant! Riding without a face-shield in the late spring is a great way to rid yourself of all that dry facial skin that built up over the winter. After riding several miles through swarms of bugs, you're likely to have little skin left on your face at all.

This led me to think about the other great exfoliants we motorcyclists and scootsters encounter.

  • Sand - Found in many places around the world, this natural exfoliant will not only take your bike out from under you, but it will also take a fair amount of skin off your arms, legs, face, torso, etc., should you leave them unprotected.
  • Gravel - Like sand, but courser. This exfoliant will leave you with brand new baby skin, after it grows back in a few weeks.
  • Birds - I have yet to actually hit one of these while riding, but I can imagine one of these would at least do a good job of changing skin coloring to a nice hue of blueish-purple if it hit unprotected skin. Perhaps not an exfoliant, but it would save the cost of a tattoo artist.
  • Pavement in general - I've been down once, thankfully only once, and I was wearing a protective jacket at the time, so I was unable to enjoy the exfoliating properties of pavement, but from what I have seen of other bikers and scootsters who have gone down, I can attest to the fact that it is, indeed, able to clean the skin right off of unprotected flesh.
After my discovery, I decided that I do not need to exfoliate that much, so I will make a concentrated effort to never forget my helmet again.

I've also had a reminder not to wear shorts while riding the Saber. I burned my calf on the left tailpipe while trying to put it on the center stand, and I almost went down when an idiot in an Escalade decided to pull out in front of me. So, I don't want to exfoliate that way either.

Disclaimer: Please take the above as tongue in cheek. I know many bikers have been seriously hurt in accidents, and my heart goes out to them; however, I think it is a good thing for us all to remember that the dangers we face are real. I was glad of the reminders I had this week, and thought it might be fun to write about it in a jovial manner.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Another Convert!

I finally got to my wife!


I took her to a local private parking lot and she went for a spin. Granted, she topped out at 5 mph, but still! I am so proud of her for taking this step toward two wheels.

The only downside is, now she wants a pink Vespa!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mid-Atlantic Scooter Rally, Spring 2010, Saturday Morning

I left my house at 7:45 this morning and rode my scooter to New Holland over the back roads I love so much. She made it safely to Yoder's Restaurant where I parked her amongst the other scooters. There were definitely more scooters this year than last, and more were arriving by the minute.

The breakfast in the banquet facility was very good. We all went to the buffet and enjoyed the various tasty items available.

After Breakfast, Will gave a rundown of basic group ride protocol and how to ride in a staggered formation. He went over the planned route and we then departed to get on our scooters.

The ride was to take us from New Holland to Strasburg in three groups of up to 50 riders each. There were no mishaps on the way, though some riders had trouble riding in formation. I kept counting "one Mississippi, two Mississippi," when the rider ahead of me would pass a stationary object to keep my distance even, but the rider who was supposed to be in the left-hand side of the lane next to the rider ahead of me, kept falling back. This screwed up the formation and was a bit unnerving. Additionally, the rider ahead of me put her feet up behind her on the back of her seat at one point, which freaked me out just a bit.

All in all, the ride to the Strasburg Railroad was fun, but since I'd already been there a few times, I became a little bored after a while (not the fault of the leadership, rather just my short attention span). Luckily for me, another group had decided they wanted to get back to New Holland rather than waiting for the rest of the group. Since I'm hyperactive, I didn't hesitate and decided to go with them. The splinter group went to Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, which I also found a bit on the tedious side, but then, I'm not into shopping at tourist traps.

We left from there to allegedly go back to New Holland, but I had to leave the group after a little while since I needed to get home to my wife and son. I will be going back this evening, but returning home gave me an opportunity to save the money I would have had to spend on supper.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mid-Atlantic Scooter Rally, Spring 2010, Friday Night

I hopped on the scoot this evening and motored over to The Hollander Motel in New Holland for the annual tire kicking and general breeze shooting that occurs on the first night of the rally.

I met up with Gerry, writer of the Scoot Lancaster Blog, and several others whom I had met last year. There were several more people there than I remember from last year, including one rider on a Honda SH-150.

The most common scooters represented were Suzuki Burgmans, but there were a number of Honda models and even a few motorbikes. One intrepid rider came in on a 1970-something CB125. It wasn't in the greatest condition, but it was still pretty cool. Unfortunately, I failed to get a shot of it.
There was a grill set up with burgers and dogs and some pork BBQ as well. I had a dog and some BBQ and settled in to talking with the other scootsters.

After a while, I had to leave so I could get back to my family, so I took some back roads on my way home and ran into my old nemesis: The tar and gravel road. There was so much gravel in fact that I nearly dumped the scoot. Pennsylvania townships really need to abandon this type of road repair. It may be an inexpensive option and may work for cars and trucks, but it could mean a serious crash for a motorcyclist or scootster. I hope we do not run into any of these roads on the ride tomorrow.

I also hope it does not rain.

Off to the Rally...

Today is the first day of the Mid-Atlantic Scooter Rally. Tonight is just a meet and greet, but there will be a ride tomorrow. I'm considering taking the motorbike tonight, but I'm not certain.

I wasn't sure if I'd be able to go, which is why I had not mentioned it yet.

It will be a nice end to my week's vacation.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Honda Elite 110 : A pleasant little puddle jumper

I finally had my opportunity to ride a Honda Elite 110 today. Yesterday, while at Lancaster Honda, I noticed the new Elite sitting there, and Kevin, the Sales Manager, said I should come back today for a test ride, so I did.

The little Elite carried me over to Fruitville Pike and back again so I could pick up some prescriptions for my wife.

It seemed to fit in very well on the suburban roads I took it on and I found that I could easily get used to it's snappy handling.
My initial impressions of the Honda Elite 110 are as follows:
  • Appearance: This is my biggest issue with the Elite 110. From the back, she's a prom queen. From the front, she's a drag queen. The front end looks ok from a distance, but when one draws closer, the horn vents look like a pair of cetacean nostrils (otherwise known as a whale's blow-hole). The back end is nicely done with a very streamlined tail light.
  • Fit and Finish: The Elite seems very well put together, but there were a few places where the paint was scuffed. There was also an issue with the seat lock on the vehicle I tested.
  • Noise polution, from the Elite 110 is minimal. This could be accounted for by the gigantic muffler, but there were no discernable extraneous engine or transmission noises
  • Seat height is good. I was able to stand flat footed when stopped which is comforting. I don't really like the feeling of being on my toes while stopped at a light. It's just a bit unnerving.
  • Footroom is fantastic and easily accommodated my huge feet. There are even secondary footpegs to either side of the seat, just in front of the pop-out passenger pegs, that could serve as an alternate foot rest. The footroom on this scoot is impressively huge.
  • Mirrors are wide set and allowed a good view behind me, but the one on the left was a little loose on the scoot I tested. I was told that this was an error on the dealer's part and not an issue with Honda quality.
  • Vibration is only noticeable at a stop, but it isn't bad.
  • Instruments are easy to read, with bright turn signal and headlight indicators. The speedo is dead center which is a nice touch.
  • No side-stand which could be difficult for more mature riders or those with difficulty lifting.
  • The underseat storage for the new Elite is gigantic. It's large enough to carry a gallon of milk, and a modest amount of groceries, but, while Honda claims that it will hold a full face helmet, they fail to mention that the seat will not close on top of one. Just the same, the storage rivals that of a Silver-wing and is perfectly suited for basic errands in an urban or suburban setting

Now, on to the ride.
  • The stability of the Elite 110 was surprising to me. The wheels are small (10 in rear, 12 in front), but the stability was quite good despite this. The scooter feels extremely well balanced.
  • The Elite 110 handles very nicely. She corners well and counter-steers around bumps and obstacles without feeling too loose or too tight.
  • I was completely taken aback by the suspension. This is a 110cc scooter, but the suspension felt better than its 150cc counterpart. I was so shocked (no pun intended), I even took her over a few manhole covers to reassure myself that I was not mistaken. Sure, you feel the bumps a little, but my experience with small wheeled scooters and even with my big-wheeler, is that even small bumps can be quite jarring. The Elite blew that particular perception away.
  • The seat comfort is decent. It feels softer than other scooter seats I have rested my hindquarters on, and seems to have a little pocket that one settles one's tush into. It's certainly a different feel, and I wonder how it would feel over a longer ride.
The Elite 110's performance is good for its engine size.
  • The fuel injected engine accelerates well, but does not seem particularly aggressive until it reaches about 20 mph (indicated). Between an indicated 20 and 40 mph, acceleration is much more peppy. Bearing in mind that this is a new engine that has not yet been broken in, the acceleration tendencies may change as the scooter is used.
  • The scoot motored up to an indicated 53 or so on the straight stretch outside the Honda dealer. Knowing the tendency for scooter speedos to be optimistic, I'd guess she hit about 45, which, for a 110, particularly one that is brand new out of the box, is not too bad.
  • Braking was competent. It was so competent that I failed to notice anything about it one way or another. I hadn't even realized that I had not thought about the brakes until I arrived back at the dealer. I believe that to be a good thing.
All in all, riding the new Elite was a conflicting experience. While I know the scooter is built in China, it has the solid feel of a well constructed machine.

It sounds beautiful, meaning that it hardly makes a sound at all. This is a scooter that you can stop on the side of the road to have a pleasant conversation with a friend, without shutting off the engine so you don't have to shout at each other.

I think Honda hit a home run with this machine, and with their current price incentives, the Elite's MSRP is $2,499, which makes it competitively priced (which is a shock coming from Honda).

Now if only they could do something about that front end...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Honda 125cc coming to US market

It looks like Honda has heard the distress of her American fans and has deemed that they shall bless us with another scooter, the PCX-125.

They claim that it is inspired by sportbikes, but I'll have to ride one before I agree with that assumption. It has 14" wheels, which are a bit smaller than those on the SH-150, so I'm a little leery of their claims of sportbikeyness (I know, not a word, but I don't care).

They are releasing this scoot to the US as a 2011 model, which means I'll probably be able to test-ride one around mid summer.

As it is, I will finally get an opportunity to test-ride the new Elite. I sat on one at Lancaster Honda this morning, but the weather was not conducive to a ride. I have to say, for a scooter seat, this one is more comfy than most. It's not quite up to the comfort of most motorcycle seats, but it's a far sight better than the seat on my Kymco (not that Kymco seats are known for their cushy-ness).

One other note on the PCX, it is, yet again, a fuel injected scooter. This is a good thing, and it gives Honda a nice little repertoire of FI scoots.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Safely back to PA.

The ride home was uneventful, which is a good thing. The engine temp remained low, only rising when we would come to a stop.

We were told we would hit rain, but it didn't hit until we got to Lancaster County, which was, again, a good thing. It's a lot cooler here than it was up north, strangely enough, but this spring has been up and down with the weather.

Sometime this week I will need to take Natasha to the Honda dealer to get some radiator hose of the correct diameter to stop the cold leak that she has.

I'll write some more later. I am going to spend some time with my son.

Safely home and on the road again.

We left from Danbury CT on Saturday morning, around 9 am. The ride was a little on the chilly side, but we decided to follow US 202 up into the hills. We caught Route 8 in Torrington and followed it to 44, 318 and so on until we came to that unnamed reservoir I always like to stop at.

My son enjoyed looking out over the lake and we rested for a little while before continuing on.

Shortly after arriving at my mother's house, my sister's family showed up. My nephews wanted to sit on the bike, so all three boys got on for a group picture.

The roadside repairs done to my cooling system seem to be holding up and other than a few cold leaks, it's been ok once the engine is hot. Thankfully, the engine has not been too hot.

I also did some repairs to my exhaust system which I do not have time to discuss at this point since we are stopped at a McDonald's in Danbury CT and my kid wants to get back on the road.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Morning is here.

Wouldn't that be a great sight to wake up to?

It was for me. We had a good nights sleep and are now enjoying breakfast at the Super 8. It's your typical continental breakfast with bagels, waffles, and toast, a juice machine and a coffee machine, as well as a pair of cereal dispensers. Not exactly Denny's, but it works.

The room we got last night was surprisingly clean. It was a smoking room, but did not smell badly of smoke.

We awoke rested and are now ready to continue on our way.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Traveling Mercies...

I remember hearing people pray for "traveling mercies" when I was a kid, but I never really understood what they meant. Until today.

I had planned to take a vacation to visit my mother this week, but had thought I would be unable to do so. My boss would not let me take back my vacation time, so I ended up having it anyway. My wife and I decided that she would go to her parent's house while I went to visit my mom, and our son would go with me. So, this morning, I started out by heading to work. I was about an hour late because, while I had set my alarm, I'd left my phone on vibrate, which is a great way not to hear an alarm if you have an LG Xenon. I got my work done and was home by 10:00 am.

I took a moment to pray and asked God to provide me with a pair of saddlebags so my son could ride with me. I really didn't have the money to purchase a pair, but I called Lancaster Honda and asked the sales manager, Kevin, if he had any used saddlebags for sale that might have come in on a used bike but were not attractive enough to sell on the bike. He did not, but said they had a pair that they were not sure of their ownership that I could borrow over the weekend. Answer to prayer #1.

Since I saved the money I had expected to pay for the saddlebags, I purchased an inexpensive tank bag instead, and hopped back on Natasha with my son and headed home. We packed our stuff in the bags and got ourselves on the road.

We headed up 222 to Allentown and hopped on 78 out to 287 in New Jersey. We stopped for gas, and continued on our way up 287 to 87 in New York. We got off the highway at Exit 16 and took US 6 east to where it connected with 202. We then followed 202 past the Taconic parkway, enjoying the Twisties around the Hudson.

Just east of the Taconic, in Yorktown, NY, Natasha suddenly erupted in a cloud of noxious steam. We pulled over to the side of the road and I turned her off right away. She'd been running a little hot, so I suppose this should not have been a surprise. After pulling over, I noticed a stream of engine coolant flowing from one of the radiator hoses.

I started out by praying and asking God to send someone to help, then I called my insurance company, but they were not of much help, so I looked up "Honda Yorktown NY" and the first hit I got was Mt. Kisco Honda, which I did not realize was about 45 minutes away from Yorktown. I also did not see that they were a car dealer, not a motorcycle shop, but I spoke to one of their mechanics anyway, and while he was unable to help me, he thought for a moment and said, "Wait, Joe knows motorcycles, let me get Joe on the line for you."

The next voice on the phone was that of Joe (big surprise, I know), one of the Service Advisors at the aforementioned Honda dealer, and after explaining my problem, he said "I want to help you," and asked me to text him pictures of the problem area. It took him a while, but he took time out of his Friday evening, to bring some hose material and clamps to fix my trouble. In speaking to him, it turns out that he builds custom street bikes on the side and seemed right at home with his bag of tools by his side and his hands buried in the engine of my Sabre. He changed out the faulty hose right there on the side of the road (it had a sizeable hole in it). I thanked him heartily and gave him a small amount of money for his trouble, though I don't think it was nearly enough for his kindness.

By the time we got on the road again, it was growing dark, so we had to find a place to stay for the night since I didn't want my son falling asleep on the back of the bike, so I prayed again and asked God for a room for $60.00. After walking into the Danbury, CT Comfort suites and being told they wanted $109.oo for a room, we rode down to the Super 8. After explaining my situation, the man at the counter gave us a room, for $60 plus tax.

So, three for three today. I suppose one could say that it was all coincidence, but I believe in my heart that there are no coincidences in life.

* Since I am sure someone will point out the handlebar bag on the front of the Sabre, I did move it to the sissy bar behind the seat, to avoid any possible overheating it might contribute to by blocking airflow. After the bag was moved and the hose was replaced, I had no more trouble with overheating at all.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Vespa Lancaster

I knew this was coming, thanks to Gerry from Scoot Lancaster, and I've previously reported on this myself, but Vespa of Lancaster is now officially open. Keim Pre-owned on Manheim Pike, is where the dealership is currently located.

They still do not have a sign up, but they have received their motorcycle sales license from PennDOT, and their contract with Vespa. They only seem to carry the Vespa line since I did not see any other bikes or scooters there other than a used Kawasaki crotch rocket. I'm sure they could order other Piaggio scooters and Aprillia bikes, but for the moment, they have none in stock and I was only provided with a Vespa brochure.

The sales rep my friend and I met with was not terribly pushy, but my buddy (the one with the Wildfire), did seem to enjoy looking at the creme de la creme of scooterdom and they had a good conversation.

I'm guessing they may be moving the scooters to a different showroom at some point. Hopefully when they do so, they'll bring in some Piaggios as well.

For me though, Vespas are nice enough to look at, and if someone bought me one, I'd be elated, but I honestly can't see spending so much money on a scooter when my $3000 Kymco gets the job done at half the price and with the same reliability.

Friday, May 7, 2010

New opportunities

Spring in the Conestoga Valley is a beautiful time of year. While most of the trees are no longer in bloom, the fields are being turned, the trees are in leaf, and the weather is gorgeous. I've not been on too many joyrides lately, but my best friend and I were out for a bit on Wednesday while he was visiting members of our church's congregation who are confined to nursing homes. I was on the Sabre because I needed to give its battery a good long charge, and he was on his little Chinese Wildfire scooter.

He was actually clipping along fairly well. At one point, I clocked him at 45mph with my GPS. Not bad for a little fiddy. It was downhill, but still, my old Yamaha never topped 42 on the speedo even on an incline.

We parted ways in Farmersville, but a few hours later, he called to inform me that his scooter had blown another belt. That makes five, I believe. So, after having the entire CVT replaced, he's still blowing belts.

We might have a solution for him, one that he was highly enthusiastic about, which is an engine swap. We have a mutual friend with an old Honda Elite 150 that is just the frame, seat, and engine, which the prior owner had used as a pit bike. I hit on the idea of an engine and swingarm swap since the Wildfire R8 comes in both 150cc and 50cc versions using the same frame and body. My pastor's nephew is enormously gifted with anything mechanical, so he would be a resource we can tap into.

He's still ruminating on the idea. I will make further reports if we decide to go that route.

As for an additional opportunity, I will soon be taking a test ride on a Honda VFR1200. I am very excited at the prospect and will take some hefty notes. Having ridden my Sabre for seven months, I am completely sold on the V4 concept, and find the new Interceptor's lines intoxicating in their aerodynamic bliss. I'm a bit busy with work, but I will report again once I have taken the ride.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Small bikes are great. They are light and agile and force the rider to make the most of their capabilities, but big bikes have their own unique charm as well.

In a recent entry, I praised the virtues of riding slow and enjoying the countryside. While this is very true, I am very pleased to note that I have two bikes, which allows me to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Spring is here in full force, and with it comes fantastic riding opportunities. Both my scooter and my motorcycle open up different riding options. As I become more comfortable on the Saber, I find that running it through its gears and taking it around corners and over hills and such is exhilarating. It is capable of greater speed and acceleration than my scooter could ever attain, and while it does not handle nearly as nimbly, it offers other benefits.

One such benefit is the ability to easily carry a passenger. While the scoot has passenger pegs and space on the seat for a passenger, it really isn't designed to carry two adults, at least not American adults (yeah, we tend to be a bit on the heavy side). Today; however, I was able to finally convince my wife to ride with me. Admittedly, we only went around the block, but she actually admitted to enjoying the ride. It was a bit different for me, since I have never ridden with an adult passenger, but she did well with remaining still so as not to offset the balance of the bike, and the ride went without a hitch.

I hope that in time she will become more comfortable with the idea of riding, but we have made a start. Up until now, she was terrified of getting on a motorcycle at all. Now that she has ridden once, she is willing to try again in the future.

I'm hopeful that in time, she will become comfortable enough with riding that she will be able to ride along on her own motorbike or scooter, rather than on the same bike with me. Certainly, having her ride with me was fantastic, but having her ride alongside on a second bike, would be a blast.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Within the last week or so, I have had opportunity to speak to several people whom I have influenced to take up riding or take up scooting.

One of my co-workers recently bought a Suzuki Savage 650 due, in part, to my glowing praise of two wheeled transport. He is still adjusting to the manual transmission, but I am sure that, given enough time, he will become more comfortable. Now he just needs to ride his bike to work so I can get a look at it.

My best friend is still riding his Wildfire R8 50cc scooter, which still runs and started right up this spring. He has had no more problems with the transmission since it was replaced (one should hope not!), and he and I have ridden together several times already this spring. Tomorrow will be another opportunity I am sure.
My boss is considering buying a motorcycle, though I am trying to convince her that a mid-size scooter might be a better choice since she is uncertain if she wants a manual transmission. Unfortunately, she has fallen prey to the common misconception that all scooters are slow and are not for riding on the highway. Certainly, a 150 may not be well suited for such use, but a 250cc or larger engine will be up to the task. Perhaps I should introduce her to the Piaggio BV-500.

The last person on the list is another colleague. He is a gentleman who works for the maintenance team at Friendship. He rides a 2003 Nighthawk 750 (pictured with my Sabre above), and after seeing my scooter, he was full of questions. Since he is an experienced rider, I let him take her for a little spin, and he was even more interested. So, I think I may have brought another scootster into the fold.

If only I could make money convincing people to take up motorcycling and scooting, I'd be a happy guy. Unfortunately, my mechanical savvy isn't quite up to the point where I could start a scooter shop, and I just don't have the killer instinct to be a salesman (tried it once, failed miserably).

Maybe I could write a blog or something...oh...wait...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Planting time

It's that frenetic yet paradoxically peaceful time of year when every living thing is actively pursuing the furtherance of their particular species. Trees are abloom, insects are buzzing about, there is a pair of mallards that are scoping out a nesting site in one of the gardens at work, and the Amish are plowing their fields using the same methods they have for centuries.

Unfortunately, my good camera seems to have given up the ghost, so I am stuck with the 2MP* camera on my phone, but if one looks closely, just a bit to the left of center, there is a dark brownish blob on the lighter brown of the field. That blob is an Amishman with his team of mules, plowing a furrow.

It was a brisk morning which made the ride very pleasant as I took the long way home from work. I still find that peaceful rides in the countryside are more enjoyable on the scooter. The smaller vehicle does not come with the temptation to goose the throttle and rocket up to 65mph in the span of a few heartbeats. It allows one to take a peaceful ride, unencumbered by the need for greater velocity, and unimpeded by the pop and growl of loud tailpipes.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

No Speedo? No problem

Shortly after purchasing my Sabre, I became aware of a glaring issue; The speedometer did not work. I took it back to the shop where it was purchased and the mechanic tried to fix it, but only succeeded in fixing it for a mile or so.
I have a replacement sensor and cable waiting to be installed, but cannot afford to pay someone to do the work, nor do I have the right tools to remove the headlight assembly so I can get at the plug.

I needed another option since I will be traveling on the bike this summer. I have a GPS, but buying a mount for it would cost nearly $40.00. I do not have that kind of money at the moment, so I needed another solution. Then it hit me: Velcro!

A modified rectangle of Velcro on the back of the GPS and a contoured piece on the bike itself, and voila! Instant speedo!

I tried it out on the highway, and it stayed put perfectly. I had to yank on it a bit to get it unstuck!

I also gave my scooter the same treatment, though without quite the same results.

I had previously used the suction cup post stuck to the plastic lens above the speedo as a mount but found that not only did this obscure too much of the built-in display, it was not secure and the GPS was prone to pop out.

With the velcro just above the speedometer, I am able to see enough of the readout to compare it with the GPS speed meter, and I can see my clock and gas gauge. Additionally, it also sticks very well.

Now I just need to get a power port on both my scooter and Sabre so I can use the GPS for extended riding.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Spring has sprung!

While I have not yet seen a robin, I went out to my back yard to survey the damage and see about pulling some weeds before they got a good foothold. To my delight, as I went up the hill behind my house, I found some tulip leaves peeking up out of the flower bed.

I righted a bird feeder that had fallen over in a recent windstorm, and set back toward the house, when to my further joy appeared the flower that is synonymous with early spring; Crocuses!!

Only a few sticking up through the leaves and stubble from last year, but enough to get me excited for a little gardening.