One of these days, I’ll make it out to the Isle of Man to watch the most amazing motorbike race in the world. Until then, I’ll make do with videos like this.

I’m really not a racing fan, but the history and sheer awesomeness of the Isle of Man TT coupled with the beauty of the island make for a pretty compelling “Hey darlin’, we really need to make a vacation of this” story.  The Catalina Grand Prix (on again for 2012!) is another. I’m mostly interested in motorbike races on beautiful islands. ;)

I really enjoy listening to Guy Martin – he’s an interesting cat.

Written on June 30th, 2011 , Motorbikes Tags: , , , , ,

So I’m out for a walk with my special ladyfriend this evening, and as we’re heading up Vermont into Potrero Hill we come across this Honda XR650L hanging from a tree.

I have to admire this person’s resourcefulness – I don’t have a good place to work on my bike either, but I also don’t have a tree. I do have to wonder, though – what will the neighbors say!?!?

Motorbikes parked in the Financial District, San FranciscoI’m glad I wore my lightweight jacket today. It’s like summertime!

Unlike some folks, I absolutely love riding the giant, crazy supercross track of San Francisco – especially when the weather is dry and the streets aren’t treacherously slick.

All these fair-weather riders are making it a little tough to find parking. You can see my bike in there somewhere. It’s the yellow one off in the distance. ;)

Written on March 29th, 2011 , Motorbikes Tags: , , ,

I’m pretty consistently retro-grouchy about new bikes. “These new-fangled motorbikes you kids are riding look like something outta that movie about the robot cars. Whattya call those? Trans-foamers?” Believe it or not, I’m extremely conservative about how motorbikes should look. It typically takes about five to ten years for me to like “edgy” new designs. So I was hesitant to jump on the Motus bandwagon. The concepts sounded great early on – especially the engine – but the drawings were ugly.

After seeing the video of the MTS-01 on HellForLeather this morning, I’ve changed my mind. It helped that they made the bike’s styling substantially more conservative than the early drawings – less ugly to my jaded, aging eyes. And it sounds OMG AMAZING. Rumbling, roaring, BAD ASS. Check out the video below to hear it for yourself – this is what motorcycles should sound like.

Successfully launching a new motorbike company is extremely difficult. I wish Motus the best – this looks like an awesome bike. Check out the Motus YouTube channel for more awesomeness.

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.

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: , , , ,

Photo of shadow of riders on motorcycle.Angelica and I went for a ride today – a leisurely, almost touristy, two-up, chatting in the headsets kind of Saturday afternoon ride. We headed out of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate into the Marin Headlands and on. It was a positively magnificent day for motorbiking.

Angelica snapped this photo from the back of the bike near the end of the day. Super cool.

My taste in motorbikes often runs towards the hooligan side of the street – such as my ’07 Speed Triple SE – but I also have a long-running love affair with comparatively “sensible” Boxer-engined Beemers, ever since I rode a buddy’s yellow R90S cafe racer many years ago. Lately, I’ve had my eye on a black and green Rockster around the corner at MotoJava – seems like it’d be a perfect 2-up city bike.

2011 BMW R1200R Classic

2011 BMW R1200R Classic

I wasn’t too excited when I heard there were mild updates to the R1200R for 2011, until I got a load of the R1200R Classic over on Hell For Leather. That’s right – chrome spoked wheels and black paint with white accents gets me every time. And the bike has had decent real world horsepower (110 hp and 88 ft.lb of torque) for a couple years or so now, although I have heard some significant complaints about the reliability of the 1200 engine. Very un-BMW!

I disagree, though, with Hell For Leather’s characterization of the BMW roadster rider as a slipper-wearing, pipe-smoking traditionalist, complete with monocle. Granted, this isn’t the bike for popping block-long wheelies and screaming from stoplight to stoplight with the back tire in flames, but I think it’d make a perfect San Francisco urban assault vehicle. Throw some heated grips and a top box on there, and you’re good to go. Tractable power and a reasonably slim albeit not-so-girlish figure make for an awesome lane splitter, and it should handle well enough to make weekend jaunts down the coast plenty of fun. Yes, please.

Friday morning breakfast discussion, inspired by a particularly perfect example of a Guzzi cafe racer – basically a low barred, GP-piped 1000S built from an ’02 Stone with an injected 1000 cc motor – in the October/November 2010 issue of Cafe Racer Magazine.

Surj: “We need to get a Moto Guzzi.”
Angelica: “We need to get cereal.”
Surj: “That’s not the same.”
Angelica: “Yes, but it’s something we actually need.”

© 2013 Surj's House of Awesome

Surj's House of Awesome

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