Category Archives: Two Wheels

Motorcycles, both bikes and trikes.

Tesla Model S Plaid Beats Hayabusa in Drag Race

As a general rule, pretty much any motorcycle can beat pretty much any car in an acceleration run. That’s part of the fun. But as with many things, Tesla turns that assumption on its head with the Model S Plaid. It beats not just any bike, but a Suzuki Hayabusa, one of the premier drag bikes there is. Edmunds proved it.

OK, we know the Tesla Model S became stupid fast when it’s “gone to plaid,” yet another thinly veiled reference to high-speed travel in Spaceballs. But this beast has 1,020 horsepower in a rather ordinary four-door sedan. That is, to one might say, ludicrous.

Honda’s History-Making Inline-Four Motorcycles

Starting with the CB750, Honda redefined what a motorcycle should be. The other Japanese manufacturers followed Honda’s lead, resulting in the UJM, or “Universal Japanese Motorcycle.” This left its mark on the motorcycle industry, which has never been the same since.

Ultimate Motorcycling has a great article on the history of Honda’s inline-four bikes, starting with the iconic CB750. While my own 1981 model was no longer the barnstormer the original was, it was still a fun bike, and just what I needed at the time. Truth be told, I originally wanted the Magna parked next to it, but after seeing it was smashed down the left side, my eye moved to the CB750 Custom parked next to it. I have no regrets (though I still want a Magna someday).

Paris Sets Draconian Citywide 30 km/h Speed Limit

The early days of motoring, back in the late 19th century, saw the introduction of speed limits. After all, people were operating their new fangled horseless carriages at ludicrous speeds, exceeding 10 mph in some cases!

Obviously things have changed since then — or have they? RFI reports the city of Paris, France, has just set a citywide speed limit of 30 km/h. That’s 19 mph, barely more than some of the speed limits of the 19th century. The goal, then as well as now, was to improve pedestrian safety, as well as cyclists. (Horses are kind of rare in the city these days.) It’s a growing trend across Europe, though, and elsewhere as well. Last week I stayed in Amesbury, Massachusetts, which just set a 25 mph limit across the entire town. By some strange coincidence, I saw numerous speed traps during my travels around town, on roads designed to safely handle speeds greater than 25.

Let’s remember how things used to be in Paris with this whirlwind tour from Rendezvous, where Claude Lelouch might have broken a speed limit or two himself during filming…

Harley-Davidson Claims Pan America Is the Best Selling ADV Bike in North America

A brief Harley-Davidson press release makes the bold claim that the new Pan America adventure bike is “the #1 selling adventure touring motorcycle in North America.”

Unfortunately, H-D provides no actual sales numbers to back up this claim. While there’s a great deal of interest in the Pan America (and definitely include me in that category), without knowing how many Harley sold compared to the BMW R 1250 GS, the Honda Africa Twin, and all the other usual suspects in the big ADV bike world, and in what timeframe this occurred, such claims are little more than posturing.

Is H-D lying? No, I certainly don’t think so. I’ve started seeing Pan Americas on the road. People in motorcycle Facebook groups I’m on have been posting pictures of their new Pan Americas. They’re definitely selling. Additionally, as Canada Moto Guide points out, it’s entirely possible that the international chip shortage has left certain models built elsewhere in the world high and dry, while Harley doesn’t appear to have had any problems building theirs. I would say their claim is, as Mythbusters would describe it, “plausible.”

It’s also possible that they could be only counting sales on Tuesdays between June 28 and August 7, in Iowa, in counties whose names contain the letter C. Like Obi-Wan Kenobi, such claims can still be true, “from a certain point of view.”

Which is it? I don’t know, and I won’t speculate. I’m not getting down on Harley here. I genuinely want to see the Pan America succeed, not just because I’m an adventure bike rider myself, but also because H-D desperately needs to innovate or die. The Pan America is their best shot at breaking out of the mold they’ve created for themselves, as middle-age riders (like me) seem more interested in ADV bikes than cruisers these days.

I absolutely plan on booking a Pan America demo ride at IMS Outdoors. Stay tuned to read how that goes.

How To Buy the Right Motorcycle Helmet

Jonathan Klein of The Drive wrote an excellent primer on the Wonderful World of Helmets. He got it right, and I highly recommend it.

The only thing I’d add is that when you’re trying on a helmet you’re thinking about buying, don’t take it off immediately. Wear it for a good 20 minutes or so. Yes, you’ll look like a dweeb (and yes, Jonathan, that is still a word in 2021). Who cares? You won’t notice the “hot spots” of pain that can develop during a long ride by trying it on for 30 seconds. Different helmets have different shapes, and so do different heads. The key is to match the shape of the helmet with your head. Some people have Arai heads. Others have Shoei heads. Both are excellent brands that I’d trust to protect my brain, but one will likely fit you better than the other.

South Dakota COVID Cases Increase nearly 500 Percent After Sturgis

In the “There’s Absolutely No Way Anybody Could’ve Seen This Coming” department, RideApart tells us that shockingly, COVID-19 cases are rising rapidly after more than 500,000 people attended the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Talk about a super-spreader event.

We saw exactly the same thing happen last year. I even wrote about it. By our nature, bikers tend to take more risks than non-bikers. It’s just the way it is. But by now, we know what’s going to happen when 500,000 unmasked people who don’t take the pandemic seriously gather in one place. Even if you don’t believe the science (and you should), just look at what happened last year. Why would you think the same thing wouldn’t happen again this year? Sure, there’s a vaccine now, but many of these people are the same ones who refuse to get it, or don’t believe it’s effective or even real.

People like this are the reason why people like me always failed our group projects in school. Being the smart kid, I shouldered 90% of the work for the group. But because THAT ONE KID refuses to do their small part, ALL of us fail the project. That’s exactly what’s happening with COVID right now, and why infections are on the rise once again.

Now is sounding like a good time to run away, by myself, in a van down by the river.

MotoGP Malaysian GP Canceled

MotoGP has announced the cancelation of October 22-24 Malaysian GP. As with everything else, the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent entry restrictions to Malaysia are to blame for the cancelation.

Instead, MotoGP will return to Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli for the October weekend. This will give Italian fans one more chance to see Valentino Rossi in action before his retirement at the end of this season.

These Guys Built a Motorcycle Out Of Harbor Freight Parts

Bikes and Beards has done some crazy stuff over the years, but this takes the cake. Using only items that you can buy at Harbor Freight, they’ve built a complete street legal (mostly) motorcycle. Seriously. You have to see it to believe it.

I once built a Harbor Freight trailer, back when they sold them as kits. While it never fell apart on me, the electrical system needed to be completely replaced with something that actually works. This is the same company that recalled its jack stands for failing, and replaced them with jack stands that later also got recalled for failing. Would you trust your life to Harbor Freight parts? I wouldn’t. But these guys did, and I admire them for it.

The Problems of Motorcycle Travel No One Talks About

We all love a good motorcycle travel story. Whether you’re going the Long Way Round, riding a world record poker run, or just getting away for a week or so, there’s a definite allure to bike trips.

It’s not all adventure, scenic vistas, and Instagram posts, though. Motorcyclist pulls the covers off the dark side of motorcycle travel. That still shouldn’t dissuade you from doing it. You totally should. But these are potential issues you should be aware of. They could happen to you, so be ready to deal with them.