Honda ATC 250R

As I said last week, I’m a motorbike addict. It’s Friday afternoon – I must be lusting after motorcycles I don’t need.

Today during my afternoon browsing-for-bikes-on-Craigslist coffee break, I came up a 1986 Honda ATC 250R. ATC as in all-terrain cycle.

As a kid, I rode all kinds of motorcycles ranging from late-sixties, barely-ridable suicide machines to newer, sweeter machines. We had several three-wheelers, and the pinnacle of awesomeness was my 1983 ATC250R. It was brutally, unforgivingly fast – and therefore incredibly fun. Kids these days on their gently-tuned, softly-suspended four-stroke ATVs have no idea of the fury you unleash when you whack the throttle open on a two-stroke screamer. I remember cackling maniacally inside my helmet every time I hit the gas, front wheel pawing the sky, arms stretching as I struggled just to stay on the bike.  I was 13, and felt like I was riding a rocket ship.

This guy’s ad title sounds like me back then, breathless, all-caps screaming, “RUNS GREAT FAST!!!” He’s not joking – this is a crazy-fast machine, a “nasty little bugger” like HST wrote about in Song of the Sausage Creature. To paraphrase, “There are some things nobody needs in this world, and a bright-red, warp-speed 250cc two-stroke ATC is one of them – but I want one anyway, and on some days I actually believe I need one.” Rule Pismo Beach, indeed.

I always lusted after the ’86 ATC250R. It was the last – and greatest – of the three-wheeled Mohicans, due to a ban on three-wheeled all-terrain vehicles. They occasionally turn up on Craigslist, and I immediately fire up my daydream machine. “What I need is a little truck and this here ATC, and I’ll spend my weekends roosting the dunes!” Never mind the last time I rode an ATV up at Prairie City a few years ago, I ate it hard on some river rock and couldn’t walk upright for about a month.

I never really felt comfortable on four-wheeled ATVs, though. I’m pretty sure three wheels are safer, no worries.

My first street bike - 1969 Honda CL350 Scrambler

Gateway Drug: '69 CL350 Scrambler

I’m a motorbike addict, a junkie too far gone to even bother with denial. My morning coffee and lunchtime routines includes a lot of “researching” of the Craigslist motorcycles section and the BARF Classifieds.

Today I came upon a 1969 Honda CL350 Scrambler for sale down in Santa Cruz. This was my first street bike! No, I didn’t start riding in 1969 – I wasn’t even born then, contrary to what the gray in my beard may have you thinking. I bought my CL from a friend of my dad in 1988 for $100. That’s right, one hundred American dollars. It was clean, too – at least as clean as this one, and it ran. I tore around the backroads without a license (wasn’t old enough) or a helmet (I know, very bad!). A year or two later, I got a license, a helmet, and a 1981 Yamaha XT250.

DUDE. I want this bike. There’s no sense to it, none at all. Yeah, early Hondas CBs and CLs are cool bikes – I’ve had several, and loved them all – but there’s no real good reason to buy this bike other than nostalgia. I’d been riding on the dirt for many years, but this is the same exact bike that introduced me to the evil powers of street bikes.

It’s too small for me, and I’m too accustomed to *ahem* real horsepower, the brakes will be about as good as dragging my feet, Flintstone-style, it’ll be impossible to find parts… the list goes on. But I still want it.

So the rationalizing starts… I could get it, hang on to it, eventually restore it, ride it around the neighborhood now and then. Angelica could ride it. Ooh, there we go! And it does look reasonably unmolested, even has the original paint. Sure, the frame has been repainted, but it’s probably ok. The side covers are missing, but that’s nothing that hours upon hours of combing eBay and motorcycle wrecking yards can’t solve. I can probably talk the guy down on the price, maybe get him down to around two grand… hey, that’s only 20 times what I paid for my first one!

And it just so happens we’re going to be down in Santa Cruz this Saturday.

I live within walking distance of a lot of hot startups. Working in the San Francisco Bay Area and rubbing shoulders with all the entrepreneurial royalty, it’s easy to start feeling like everyone has an MBA. Hell, I’m pretty sure the barista downstairs from my place has one to go along with his attitude, and I’ve interviewed lots of folks for very junior roles who had their MBAs in hand before they got any real work experience.

I’m a no-MBA, learn-by-doing hooligan, so this poll on LinkedIn caught my eye. The results are interesting – and for me, reassuring. The included demographic info is worth checking out. Sorry, no spoilers, you’re gonna have to click through to see the results. By the way, the LinkedIn poll tools are slick.

I don’t think the question is as simple as “Should I get an MBA?” You want an MBA? Go for it. It’ll definitely open doors. You want to be bad ass, work hard and do cool stuff? That’s awesome too. Me? I’d rather just jump right in, take stuff apart and put it back together again, whether it’s a motorbike or an online marketing campaign.

There are lots of reasons lane splitting is good. For me, it’s mostly that I become almost immune to traffic congestion and can slip through gridlock smoothly and quickly. Perfect for commuting. Also, it’s fun!

Safety is another really good – but often forgotten – reason motorcyclists should split lanes, as demonstrated in this video. Today in San Francisco, a fellow Barfian was hit from behind at a stop, with his GoPro helmet cam running. The cam captured the experience from his viewpoint. Amazingly, he didn’t hit the ground, even though he was thrown from his bike by the impact.

Motorists often see the bigger shape of the stopped car, and don’t realize there’s a motorbike there too. Filtering to the front in traffic prevents this common accident. Splitting lanes is safer than hanging out behind a car.

Make sure you turn on the sounds when you watch this. Be prepared to cringe. This guy is extremely lucky he wasn’t badly injured, although I’m certain he’ll be plenty sore tomorrow.

Written on February 5th, 2011 , Motorbikes Tags: , , , ,

Today, TechCrunch called out some numbers from the folks over at JiWire that quantify how far people are willing to travel to get higher levels of discounts. Wait – people will travel further for bigger discounts? No way!

Kidding aside… first, this overly simplified take on the data makes me think a lot of people way undervalue their time. 40 percent of respondents will travel up to an hour for a 40% discount on a $100 item? People – haven’t you heard of Woot?

Second, while the implications of this are pretty obvious for location-based promotions, I’d love to see some data that tells the story of how much “work” people will do in exchange for incentives online. How many friends’ email addresses will Joe sell out share in exchange for more vegetables for their virtual farm? How many completely irrelevant offers will Franklin click on to build up points for a gift card? How many times will Susie refresh a page to get a free sample worth less than a buck? What are the incentives required to get engaged users of your product to enthusiastically tell their friends?

I ran a promo in late 2010 where a beauty product that’s normally $89 was offered on an extremely high profile national TV show for just $10. The resulting traffic to the website was roughly 500 times average. The site slowed to a crawl, and would-be customers had difficulty purchasing. One of the most amazing things about this offer was the number of people who complained angrily via Facebook and the more traditional customer service channels that they’d been “refreshing for ten hours” to make the purchase. Important feedback, and very helpful in understanding the level of emotional investment in the product, but the time investment people were willing to give up was way higher than I’d have suspected. The vocal folks in this case were a small minority compared to the overall sales, and I think it’s important to not place too much value on the anecdotal information. Still, ten hours of refreshing to save $79 on a non-essential cosmetic product?

© 2013 Surj's House of Awesome

Surj's House of Awesome

Surj Gish – eCommerce & Online Marketing Expert / Gearhead / Musician