Photo scrapbook: Whitehorse Gear Spring Open House

This year, I attended the 7th annual Whitehorse Gear Spring Open House. The event, at the Whitehorse Gear headquarters (also home of sister company Whitehorse Press, publisher of my book), draws hundreds of riders from all around New England, the northeastern United States, and Canada. They come for the socializing, the good riding in the area, the free lunch and, not least of all, the shopping for riding gear, books, videos and more in sales-tax-free New Hampshire.

Here are a few of my snapshots from the day. Continue reading Photo scrapbook: Whitehorse Gear Spring Open House →

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Two years on a Kawasaki Versys

Kawasaki Versys at Hyner View S.P., Pennsylvania

Visiting the “Grand Canyon of the East” in Pennsylvania on my Versys.

Two years ago today, I bought a leftover 2009 Kawasaki Versys. I can say with certainty that while it’s not the best motorcycle I’ve ever owned, it’s the best motorcycling bargain I’ve ever scored.

Read the update:
Four years on a Kawasaki Versys

Continue reading Two years on a Kawasaki Versys →

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The brand-new 40-year-old motorcycle

This story was originally published in Accelerate magazine.

gauges

40-year-old gauges that aren’t faded by the sun and show zero miles are evidence of Chuck Floyd’s approach to building the motorcycle of his childhood.

Remember the excitement of your first motorcycle? Remember the feeling of freedom it gave you, even if you were just a kid putting around in the dirt in a vacant lot?

Chuck Floyd remembers more vividly than most. And he’s acting on that memory more strongly than most. Lots of people in midlife or retirement years buy a motorcycle they owned in their youth, but Floyd didn’t settle for restoring a 1972 Kawasaki F6 enduro like the one that changed his world as a 14-year-old boy growing up in Lansing, Michigan. Instead, he embarked on a multi-year project, now more than 95 percent complete, of building a 1972 F6 almost completely from new old stock (NOS) parts.

That’s right, sometime this year Chuck Floyd is going to have a 1972 Kawasaki F6 that’s brand new in nearly every way: no miles on the engine or transmission, every part as pristine as the day it came out of the Kawasaki box. Because each part did just come out of the box. Continue reading The brand-new 40-year-old motorcycle →

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How to learn to ride a motorcycle

I know a woman whose attempt to learn to ride a motorcycle lasted ten feet. She decided she’d have her boyfriend, a very experienced motorcyclist, teach her. She lurched ten feet across the parking lot, he screamed at her, they started arguing about his teaching technique and she gave up then and there. Never did learn to ride.

Sometimes it’s better to learn from a professional than even the most well intentioned friend or relative.

Fortunately, there’s a program set up to teach you all you need to know to get started riding a motorcycle in just one weekend. Continue reading How to learn to ride a motorcycle →

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What to wear: A non-ideological, common-sense guide to gear

If you want to start a raging, multi-page debate in an online motorcycle forum, there are a few old standbys that always work: what’s the best way to break in an engine, what kind of oil should I use, and do I really need to wear all my gear all the time?

It’s the last one of those three that’s most important, in my mind, because what happens to our bodies has a much greater impact on our lives and is much harder to repair than what happens to our motorcycles. Like most things related to riding, I’ve put a lot of thought (maybe too much) into the issue, in an effort to come up with an ideology-free, common-sense, informed and rational approach to what to wear when riding. Continue reading What to wear: A non-ideological, common-sense guide to gear →

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Should I buy an electric motorcycle?

Brammo Enertia

A Brammo Enertia, an all-electric motorcycle.

It’s not really surprising that most people buying an electric motorcycle these days are not current owners of an internal combustion motorcycle. Many people who ride motorcycles just don’t get the idea of an electric motorcycle. The objection usually goes something like this: I can pay $9,000 for a motorcycle that will make 125 horsepower, will take me 200 miles on a tank of gas and I can refill it in five minutes on just about any street corner. Why would I pay more for a motorcycle that takes me 25 miles and then I have to recharge it for four hours?

A hundred years ago, those people’s ancestors were pointing out that those early production automobiles weren’t really much faster than a horse, were more prone to get stuck in the mud since few roads then were paved, and weren’t as reliable. Surely cars would never catch on. Continue reading Should I buy an electric motorcycle? →

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The 200,000-mile Ninja

Hang around online motorcycle forums any time at all and soon enough you’ll see someone post a request for advice that reads something like this: “I’m thinking of buying this sportbike. It looks clean and the owner seems like he takes care of his stuff, but it has 20,000 miles on it. Is it used up? Should I be worried about the high mileage?”

Only in America is 20,000 miles on a modern, liquid-cooled, high-quality motorcycle considered “high mileage.” So it was with great pleasure that I wrote this story about Willard Huedepohl and his 200,000-mile Kawasaki ZX-9R. Instead of explaining that a well cared for 20,000-mile sportbike is closer to “not broken in” than “used up,” I can just tell them to click here.

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Motorcycle 101

motorcycle campingAlong with the touring stories, personal profiles and articles about one-of-a-kind customs, some of the stories I’ve written for Accelerate magazine have been practical, how-to pieces. Though I’m no master mechanic, I have learned some helpful tips during a lifetime of riding, from how to prep your bike to how to pack for a long tour on the road.

Here are some of those how-to stories:

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