Friday 31 December 2010

Is yellow the new black?

There’s an old adage that says you can never go wrong with a black motorcycle. I suppose it may be because it’s a “tough” colour, intended to strike fear in the hearts of “citizens” everywhere. But it’s more likely because colour is such a personal choice and black motorcycles were the two-wheeled equivalent of beige walls in new homes and apartments – in other words, easier to sell.
I expect that was once true, but is it still?
As I look back over the various rides I’ve had over the years I have to say that black was the dominant colour. I did, and do, own bikes of other colours but when the tank got damaged on my originally gold-coloured CB350, I painted the bike black. My RD350LC was black, as was every one of the several Nortons I owned. The Z-1 was due for a paint job (which would have been black) when I sold it, and my current ride, the Dyna, is also black.  So you could say I’m pretty comfortable with the colour. (I know, purists will insist black isn’t really a colour, but if it’s good enough for H-D to decorate their bikes with I’m happy to call it a colour. But I digress.)
So why is it then that I’ve now become so attracted to yellow motorcycles?
The first yellow bike that really caught my eye was this one, at a dealership in Kitchener. Not pure yellow, it had a green metalflake undercoat and an amazing depth to the paint. The reflected sunlight dazzled as it literally jumped off this yellow Dyna.  In fact it was this bike that first got me thinking about owning a yellow machine.
Then the 2011 H-D models came out, and right there on their web site Harley-Davidson had this gorgeous Fat Boy on display. No wallflower, the Chrome Yellow colour brings the bike to life, demanding passers-by to “look at me!”.
2011 Fat Boy
And then this Norton Commando shows up in my in-box, combining what is arguably my most desirable motorcycle with a colour that is quickly becoming a favourite of mine.
Norton Commando
Is it all a sign? Is someone trying to tell me something? Could I really live with yellow?

Thursday 30 December 2010

Heart over head

The folks over at Motorcycle Picture of the Day posted this photo of a stunning early-70’s vintage Norton Commando. And my heart rate jumped about 20 beats per second.

Norton Commando

As I have posted previously, I have had a long and somewhat conflicted love affair with Nortons, having acquired my first one in the late 70’s and disposed of my last one in 2001, owning 5 or 6 of the beasts during that time.

Nortons always struck me as purpose built sculptures, designed to evoke the baser instincts, and like moth to flame I would succumb, drawn by the sheer muscularity of that power plant and the raw beauty of the machine itself.

But truth be told, they made better sculptures than daily riders. They were temperamental  machines, prone to shake parts loose at the most inopportune time and the Lucas “Prince of Darkness” electrics virtually guaranteed at least one ride home in the dark every few weeks. With no electric start and a compression ration of 10:1 or so, kicking one to life often resulted in a sweat-soaked start to a ride, and possibly a bruised shin or worse (I once actually drove my knee into my chin as a result of a particularly nasty kickback). And while the isolastic suspension kept the engine vibrations from rattling your fillings loose, it did nothing to prevent the exhaust system from periodically heading south, or the kickstart lever falling off. In fact, nearly every ride ended with a must-do maintenance list of several items needing tightening, repair, or replacement. And duct tape became your best friend.

But as my German father-in-law used to say, “Too soon old, too late smart”, and still, every time I see one of these classics the urge strikes again to own one. Then the head wakes up and says, “Are you nuts?” and reality takes over.

Thursday 23 December 2010

Stretch Enfield

Thanks to the folks over at Bikes in the Fast Lane, we have this image of a 3-wheeled Royal Enfield.


Why would anyone do this? Probably so they could do this:

5 on a motorcycle

While the location isn’t specified, the background would appear to put the bike in some third-world country where safety concerns are, at best, of little importance compared to the need for cheap transportation. And I for one would much rather be on the back end of an extended seat on the Royal Enfield than perched with my ass hanging over the back edge of a top box, hanging on to the guy 2 places in front of me, and praying the driver doesn’t crack the throttle and wheelie me and my co-riders into a serious case of road rash.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

Season’s Greetings

Things are about to get a little crazy here at the homestead over the next few days, so I thought I’d best take this opportunity to wish all my readers and fellow motorcycle bloggers a very Merry Christmas. May your day be blessed with friendship and good cheer. And perhaps, if conditions permit, a brief ride while the turkey is in the oven.
Biker Santa

Tuesday 14 December 2010

The old man on the moped

An elderly man on a Moped, looking about 100 years old, pulled up next to a doctor at a street light. The old man looked over at the sleek shiny car and asked, 'What kind of car ya got there, sonny ?'
The doctor replied, 'A Ferrari GTO. It cost half a million dollars!'

'That's a lot of money,' said the old man. 'Why does it cost so much?'

'Because this car can do up to 320 miles an hour!' said the doctor proudly.

The Moped driver asked, 'Mind if I take a look inside?'

'No problem,' replied the doctor. So the old man leaned over, poked his head in the window and looked around. Then, sitting back on his Moped, the old man said, 'That's a pretty nice car, all right... but I'll stick with my Moped!'
Just then the light changed, so the doctor decided to show the old man just what his car could do. He floored it, and within 30 seconds the speedometer read 160 mph. Suddenly, he noticed a dot in his rear view mirror. It seemed to be getting closer!
He slowed down to see what it could be and suddenly WHOOOOSSSHHH!  Something whipped by him going much faster!  'What on earth could be going faster than my Ferrari?' the doctor asked himself.  He pressed harder on the accelerator and took the Ferrari up to 250 mph.  Then, up ahead of him, he saw that it's the old man on the Moped!

Amazed that the Moped could pass his Ferrari, He gave it more gas and passed the Moped at 275 mph. He was feeling pretty good until he looked in his mirror and saw the old man gaining on him AGAIN !

Astounded by the speed of this old guy, he floored the gas pedal and took the Ferrari all the way up to 320 mph.  Not ten seconds later, he saw the Moped bearing down on him again! The Ferrari was flat out, and there was nothing he could do!

Suddenly, the Moped plowed into the back of his Ferrari, demolishing the rear end.

The doctor stopped and jumped out and unbelievably the old man was still alive.

He ran up to the banged-up old guy and said, 'I'm a doctor.... Is there anything I can do for you?'

The old man whispered, "Unhook my suspenders from your side view mirror".

Friday 3 December 2010

The corn field

corn stubble 2I sit there and stare out over the cornfield, reduced by the harvest to stubble, golden in the late afternoon sun. I imagine a giant hand reaching down and brushing across the earth; it would feel like a 2-day-old beard I suppose.
A large flock of geese arrives, looking for overnight shelter and rest on its way to a warmer winter home. Gliding close to the ground, one by one they flare and half land, half crash to the earth. Comical to watch but even this, it seems, is done in formation driven by instincts we can’t possibly understand.
Near the road is a single corn stalk that was somehow missed by the harvester. A survivor, but winter is on its way so the end was not avoided, only delayed. I wonder if being the last person standing after an apocalypse would be a good thing, or a bad thing. I don’t know. And I don’t particularly want to find out.
Then my thoughts are interrupted by the raising of the barrier as the end of the train finally passes.  Back to the real world, I grab a handful of throttle and ride on, the corn field once again relegated to simply scenery.