Headed out to my favorite San Francisco motorbike event today – the Dirtbag Challenge. If you’re not familiar, basically it’s a loosely “organized” annual contest where folks build crazy-ridiculous bikes for less than $1000 (including the cost of the bike) in thirty days or less. Good clean American fun, in a “Wow, I can’t believe the cops still haven’t shown up” kind of way.

The entries are always very interesting, and the bonus is all the cool bikes people ride to the event. Pretty sure that I lost the last remaining bits of hearing I had during a particular smokey burnout session. Never mind the chunks of burned-up tires in my lungs.

Quote of the day that pretty much sums up the event : while waiting for the bikes to come in from the required ride – the bikes have to be rideable – we overheard two dudes talking. “Oh, maybe this is them coming in now… no, wait – those don’t sound sketchy enough.” Someone else pointed out that the headlights seemed too bright, to which I responded “That, and they have headlights.” Seriously, some of these bikes are amazing pieces of work and some of them are just plain dangerous.

Anyways… super fun as always. Check out the pics – maybe by next year I’ll learn how to use my camera. Or maybe I’ll build a bike instead.

Headed out yesterday morning on my VFR800 to scrub in my new tires and get my new front suspension dialed in. Rode north out of SF and ended up riding the hills around Dillon Beach / Tomales Bay, then came back down Highway 1 to Stinson Beach and headed back to the Golden Gate via Panoramic Highway. There were a lot of folks out for the holiday weekend, but in spite of the high number of SUV drivers unable to stay on their side of the double yellow in the twisties, I managed to survive and even had a great time.

After arriving back home, I managed to convince Angelica we should ride down the coast somewhere for dinner. So we headed down Highway 1 through Pacifica to a little seafood joint called Ketch Joanne just north of Half Moon Bay. We chowed down on cioppino and calamari steaks before riding back to San Francisco. Most of the Sunday drivers had disappeared by this time, and the ride back was much more fun.

Total ride time about six hours – a good day. I’m thinking of riding the Cal24 in the next year or two, so I’m trying to get in more long days. Honestly, given the insanely long moto-commutes I’ve done in the past, 6 hours doesn’t feel like all that much.

I’m happy to report that my new Bridgestone BT023s are awesome. Smooth, super easy to lean into turns and very predictable in the twisties. Even better – I’ve heard of guys getting 12,000 miles or more out of them – awesome! And the RaceTech setup Dave over at O’Hanlon set me up with is great – it’s like a new bike!

Here are a few pics from the day’s riding:

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.

© 2013 Surj's House of Awesome

Surj's House of Awesome

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