The end of the road, and the beginning

This is literally the end of the road, and also where my ride began. It was about 40 years ago on this gravel driveway that I first rode a motorcycle, a neglected Honda 50 step-through. The Daytona is not ideal for the surface, but it sure is prettier than the Honda was.

June is here, it’s a beautiful day for a ride, and a beautiful bike ready for the ride. Life’s good.

That is all.

Triumph Daytona 675

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Four years on a Kawasaki Versys

Two years ago, I wrote a post called Two years on a Kawasaki Versys. For a long time it was the most-read post on this blog. That’s mostly the result of people searching for real-world accounts of living with the Versys over the long term.

2009 Kawasaki Versys

My 2009 Versys that I bought four years ago today.

Magazine and website tests are great resources. I occasionally write them myself. But a magazine writer tests a brand-new, well prepped bike for anywhere from a day to a month or two, at best, and some issues only show up a year or more down the road. Or when you try to do some simple maintenance task and find that it’s nearly impossible because the engineers designed the bike so that you have to dismantle the entire motorcycle to get to a simple part.

So while the magazine testers are mostly knowledgeable expert riders, some insight is best gained from long-term use. That’s why, two years later, I’m following up with a new report: Four years on a Kawasaki Versys. Continue reading Four years on a Kawasaki Versys →

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Mounting an E-ZPass on your motorcycle

E-ZPass transponder on a motorcycle

Reads reliably at toll booths, removes in a second and costs almost nothing: I think this is the best way to mount an E-ZPass transponder on a motorcycle.

In an earlier post, I wrote about mounting an E-ZPass transponder on my Kawasaki Versys because of the regular trips I’m making from my home in Ohio to Philadelphia for my work. Having now spent way too much time experimenting, and even more time thinking about it, I think I have found the best way, among the many available options, to mount an E-ZPass on my motorcycle. For maximum convenience, the best possible effectiveness and lowest cost, I mounted the transponder using magnets. Read on for the details. Continue reading Mounting an E-ZPass on your motorcycle →

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What a difference 12 weeks makes

For my regular trips from my home office in Bexley, Ohio, to RevZilla HQ in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Turnpike is the expedient route, not the scenic route. A 475-mile day makes for head-down, keep-moving kind of travel, not the preferred sightseeing, spur-of-the-moment detouring, back-road routes that are the motorcycling ideal.

That was especially true of my first trip there, which was also my second annual February motorcycle trip. This past week, I rode to Philadelphia again. Obligations on both ends meant it was still more about getting there and getting home than about enjoying the ride, but the ride is automatically a whole lot more enjoyable when the temperature is in the 70s (going) or 60s (returning) instead of the 40s (going) and 30s (returning). Let these two photos of roadside Pennsylvania farms along the Turnpike do the talking of what a difference 12 weeks make.

snowy farm scene

February, 2014

spring farm scene

May, 2014

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The long winter’s nap ends

Daytona 675 in springThere are a few reliable signs of spring: the swallows return to San Juan Capistrano, the buzzards come back to Hinckley, and my Daytona 675 comes out of hibernation. The first two happen in March, and the third, which is a less reliable signal than the birds, may take place any time during April or May. Continue reading The long winter’s nap ends →

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Spring: sprung

spring flowers

At last, spring flowers and motorcycle weather. No trying to feel the throttle and brake through bulky winter gloves.

This winter, in my part of the world, has been one to chill the spirit and numb the will. Officially, it was the second snowiest on record here. Having never had a single pipe freeze in this old house, this year I had two burst on the multiple sub-zero nights we suffered. But all that’s behind me now because today I rode my motorcycle, for the first time this year, without an insulating layer (or three) under my jacket, with uninsulated leather gloves and no need for the heated handgrips. Just 250 miles of riding, and no rush to hurry home to the warmth of the figurative hearth. Riding the way it’s supposed to be. Continue reading Spring: sprung →

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Experiments in E-ZPass on a motorcycle

This will be old stuff to those who live and ride in the Northeast, but for riders like me, who live where freeways really are free, it’s a dance we come to  late. I’ve finally installed an E-ZPass on my motorcycle. So far, it hasn’t been quite the smooth experience I’d hoped for. Continue reading Experiments in E-ZPass on a motorcycle →

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A very different kind of custom

When we envision a “custom” motorcycle, we almost always imagine a motorcycle that has had some of its utility removed in the name of art.

Choppers are ever more stretched, seats get lower and lower, ape-hangers get higher and higher. As a result, lean angle is reduced to five degrees and front end feel is gone with the bling. Sportbikes get long swingarms and lowered suspension, until the sweetest handling bikes ever built are converted into something that turns with the responsiveness of a garbage scow. At the V-Twin Expo this year, I saw my first 32-inch front wheel. I’m sure lots of people thought it was cool. I couldn’t help thinking what a nightmare it must be to ride that bike at anything above parade pace.

Mark Morel's ZX-10RWhat if building a custom didn’t mean sacrificing function for form? After all, “custom,” at its most basic level, means building a one-of-a-kind machine that responds to one man’s (or one woman’s) personal ideal.

That’s what Mark Morel did. He modified his motorcycle with his own hands and skills to suit him. His motorcycle wouldn’t get a second look from the guys at the V-Twin Expo, unless they were looking at it to disparage it. The hard-core sportbike crowd would probably consider it a sacrilege. But it’s every bit a custom: one man’s perception of just exactly the bike he wanted. Continue reading A very different kind of custom →

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