Your Great Motorcycle Road

The Road, oh you know it, that perfect road you stumbled upon after that left turn in the middle of “where the hell am I” hollow. That one you have found your way back to a few times for the turns, scenery and feeling that this is MY road. Open and uncluttered by every weekend warrior, Son’s of Anarchy, want to be biker in the state. It’s just you, and the road and you want to keep it that way.

I had MY road. It was a beautiful dancing snake of secluded country tarmac. Winding by creeks, picturesque farms and rolling hills. Rough in places to keep you focused but smooth in the rest so you can glide with speed from turn to turn.

Had. I had a road, but my pride got the best of me and I bragged about it one time too many. I was pressured to lead a “ride” there. To preface this story let me be clear. I ride alone. I dislike others’ pace or having to set one. If I pass a small dirt road that obviously leads to somewhere I have no business being… I take it. I love getting lost. I will take unknown roads, and make random direction changes just to see where I end up. This en route entropy is how I found MY road. I was lost, wandering around back roads, when there it was, riding bliss! Like something out of a Greek myth that only reveals itself to those who choose to abandon the compass and give in to the sirens’ song of aimlessness. A gift bestowed by the Goddess of Gone Astray. I love that, I love giving in to “wherever”. Sure, you run across a few trailer trash meth labs, but that’s all part of the fun, just don’t stop and shop, eyes front, gas and go!

So the very idea of me leading people to MY road was an appalling thought, but the beer spoke before the brain got its pants on, so the deal was done. We met at a beer and burrito dive that wasn’t far from a good road that would eventually lead us to THE road. I pulled in, pulled off the skull bucket and went in to meet the pack. I was expecting 2 but found 5. One of the guys asked if he could bring friends, “sure, the more the merrier” (What did I just say? What has happened to me?) So it was a group. We have the core, the two I knew, James and Chuck (an auditor and a professor), and James’s friends, two musicians, one of whom brought his wife. I have to begrudging admit I’m glad they were riding with us. They had vintage motorcycles, tattoos, and added a level of biker cred I feel we otherwise sorely lacked. And once I got to know them, they were very interesting and charming folks.

I didn’t take photos on that day (I didn’t want to be THAT guy) so I will use photo stand ins to represent those attending.

The professor

The Auditor

The Two Musicians and Wife

Oh, and me

You get the picture.

On with the ride. We did what I’m assuming is a preride tradition, look over the machines, talk some smack, gear up and go!

It was a beautiful day and, as expected, a great ride. We stopped at another beer and burrito joint to talk after the ride. At the end of the day, despite my reservations, it was a fun day. I have learned that sharing an experience is rewarding. (Who knew all those kids’ shows I forced my child to watch were right!) Not only did the group’s reaction to MY road feed my ever growing ego, but I truly enjoyed the conversation and riding stories of the group when the ride was done.

Note: the road photos that accompanied this post are from MY NEW road. Still mine… For now.

Directions to MY road (mentioned in the post above) are available upon request. There will be a vetting process and will require a signed letter from your mother.

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Categories: KLR 650, Motorcycle Story, Tennessee Roads | Leave a comment

Brough Superior the Rebirth of a Legend


Let’s admit it, for the last few years there have been quite a few car manufacturers that have rolled out modern redesigns of classic cars and, to my discerning eye, they all failed to regain the style and edginess of the original car. This happens from time to time in the world of motorcycles as well, so when I heard that there was a redesign of the legendary Brough Superior a part of me died. There is no way they can… Wow! They did it! It’s beautiful, powerful, and worthy of the legendary name. (in my humble opinion)

The Legend

The ability to hit 100 miles an hour was a rare treat in 1920’s and 30’s and an expensive one as will. So only the likes of Lawrence of Arabia (T. E. Lawrence) could afford the “Rolls Royce” of motorcycles. It would, of course, be the undoing of Lawrence, but we will look past that unpleasantry and focus on this legendary machine. Winning endless events, as well as breaking all the speed records of its day, it was a milestone in motorcycle engineering.
The new version boasts an 88-degree liquid-cooled v-twin capable of up to 140 hp. The Brough is still only in the reach of the Lucky few, there is limited production and it will set you back over $65,000. So you’re not getting one, really, go ask your wife, I’ll wait here…… Told ya.

Take a gander at this great video by Jay Leno, a true gear head and a big fan of the Brough Superior. In just over eleven minutes Jay will tell you everything you need to know and take one of his highly collectible 1930 Brough Superior SS100 for a ride – Jay Leno’s Garage

Although I still find the older bike more appealing, this is a beautiful new face of a legend. The Brough Superior site has more detail on the retro modern marvel and includes images like this one that border on pornography.

If that’s not enough, give the 120 page Anniversary book the once over

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Head-up Display for Motorcycles!

The future is now!
Well, almost. No flying cars or hot Cylon space women, but in order to distract us from those crushing disappointments we have been given.. (Drum roll) Head-up displays for motorcycle helmets! ( if you were a pilot in the military keep it to yourself, let us have the illusion that this is new).

The grand geeks over at NUVIZ have cooked up a great gizmo that attaches to your helmet, then syncs with your smartphone to give you features like directional maps, weather, telemetry, hands free cell calls, music, lap times, in ride pictures and video! (yep, all that and a bag of chips!)

Take a peek at their envy inspiring User Experience Preview

You can preorder your “look what I got” gizmo now. They hope to start shipping in the summer of this year! (2014)

NUVIZ, feel free to ship me one if ya need a test monkey.

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The Build – A short film about the love of a machine

The build is a short film focusing on the sacrifice, hard work and borderline obsessive nature of custom Motorcycle builders. We see the art of three passionate craftsmen driven to make unique motorcycles. Our bearded heroes / narrators lead us on a ride through the obsession of motorcycling, its culture, and the feel of that first ride. The film’s style is well put together with well thought out shots and pacing to pull you into the dream and love of the machine.

Watch the intriguing short film on Vimeo

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Categories: Motorcycle Gear, Motorcycle Repair, Motorcycle Story | Leave a comment

Happy New Year Gear Heads!

It’s that time of year again! It’s too cold to ride, Santa has come and gone, and your head hurts from your slightly overzealous welcoming of the Baby New Year.
But there is one thing that will help you loose your midwinter blues… The annual release of the WebBikeWorld’s Top Product picks for 2013!!!


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2014 KLR 650 “New Edition”

The 2014 KLR 650 New Edition will have a new suspension and a wider seat but no word yet on the Dohickey or a 6th gear.

The rumor is the new front and back suspension will improve handling ( I know tightening mine was a vast improvement) and the seat is more of a wedge shape allowing shorter inseam folks, like myself (30 inches), to stand flat footed at stoplights. Also the wider back of the seat will add comfort for long rides.

While this is not the rumored full redesign of the beloved mule, I think this $100 bump up in features maybe a welcome change.

I can’t wait to see one in the showroom and give it the once over in person.

The new KLR 650 features are now listed on the Kawasaki website.

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6 Motorcycle Winter Gear Items for Cheap Bastards

Fall’s chill is a great time to wind some rural roads and drink in nature’s light show, but being southern by birth, cold isn’t my thing. So layers keep me happy and on the road when the weather is inhospitable to my sunny southern sensibilities. Here are a few of the things I adorn to keep me warm on chilly rides:

1. A three season jacket.

( or four season jacket, depending how far north of the Mason Dickson line you live) No need for a different jacket when the temps drop. Get one versatile jacket for all seasons.
This time of year I have to sit on the edge of the bed, bite the bullet and get to work zipping, snapping, and velcroing together the three layers of my three season jacket. ( see gear and gizmos for more information about my Tourmaster jacket.) Although the process is a little time consuming it’s a labor of love. Take care of your jacket and it will take care of you. The outer layer keeps the cold wind out and the inner thermal layer keeps the body warmth in. A well-fitting collar and cuffs are key to a warm seal, so always try your gear on before buying to insure a good fit.

2. Thermal underwear

( top and bottom) Not much to say here, keep da giblets warm and you’re warm. End of story. I bought Duofold after hearing an old yankee sing their praises. They won’t break the bank but they will keep ya warm. The key features are soft, warm, and, important to me, thin, so I can layer over them and not feel like the stay-puff marshmallow man.


Smartwool tall socks will keep not only your nasty feet warm and dry but your shins warm as well. Smartwool isn’t the cheapest option but I have found they outlasted my bargain brand wool socks so they saved me money in the long run.

4. Wicking layer?

For me, no. I only ride for an hour or two when its cold but for a long ride its something to consider. On long rides with a lot of layers you may get hot and sweat. If that moisture is left against the skin it can make you very cold. A good wicking layer will remove the moisture from your skin and in the long run keep you warmer.

5. Over-gloves (yes, I invented it, if you try this and it works, send me a donut)

There is an endless sea of good winter riding gloves out there but I found that pulling a pair of smart touch gloves over my summer mesh gloves is a great winter answer. It’s warm but thin enough to not affect my grip and I can use the iPhone friendly fingertips to take photos or make a call without taking off my gloves.

6. Okay all the items listed above are quite nice, but the big must have item for me is my Balaclava.

This is hands down my favorite cold weather gear. I have gone on rides in early spring with a pack of motorheads and midway through the run they were warm but their necks were red and half frozen. Not me! Warm and ready to keep riding. The key to this item is the “pharaoh” neck. Covering the exposed area between the neck of your jacket and your helmet. Just pull it over your head, tuck it in your jacket, zip up and ride!
Besides, you look more mysterious when you take off your helmet at the post ride pub. (well, until ya pull it off and the static gives you the hair of an 80’s New Wave band)

That’s it, no full body plug-in electric suit or battery operated moon boots, just layer, protect from the wind and ride! (warning: the above does not apply to those of you living in areas of the country that are not fit for human inhabitants as we journey farther from the sun. (you know… Winter) for you, plug in, skin a bear, drop coal in your shorts, whatever it is that keeps you riding. Or store your bike, rent On Any Sunday, chew some whale fat and await the return of the sun’s warming rays.

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5 Dual-Use Foods for Motorcycle Camping Trips – Carry less, eat well.

Aaah the road. One of my favorite parts of a motorcycle trip is stumbling into a little out of the way mom and pop shop and discovering culinary bliss handed to you via a beehives burnout tracked with tats and tales of woe that would make Tom Waits weep in his warm beer. But when you shed your gear, crack a beer and collapse on a camp site, it’s up to you to satisfy your hunger. Sadly the limitations of motorcycle travel negates ones ability to summon up a soufflĂ© or throw out a tasty turducken, so simple, light and easy will suffice.

My rule is food items must be able to work for more than just one meal.
Example: summer sausage and herbed cheese can be eaten with flat Bread and red wine for dinner

and then sliced and added to a boil in bag omelette in the morning.

Here are a few dual use tips I have picked up during my trips:

1. Pack a frozen carton of egg beaters to keep your beer cold for dinner. By morning it will thaw to act as a base for your omelette.

2. Freeze a bag of water to keep items cold until dinner. The next day it will become a bag of ice cold water you can pour into your hydration pack and will provide you with cold water for the next days ride.

3. Breakfast bars can act as a dessert or a mid-day energy snack.

4. Single serving soy or almond chocolate milk doesn’t have to be refrigerated and can be a sweet treat at anytime of day.

Breakfast. Yes you’re hungry, but you also must satisfy that big ass java monkey on your back. There is an endless supply of camping java ideas that can help curb your caffeine craving but I’ve found that my flow through method produces the best coffee with the least amount of hassle. Store a ziplock bag of finely ground coffee, filter, sweetener, and nondairy creamer in a travel coffee mug.

Fold the edges of the filter over the mug, (secure with a rubber band if you have one) fill with ground java,

bring some water to a boil with a fire or a Jetboil, pour, add sweetener and cream to taste and boom! you’re ramped up for a day of riding!

(Note: Jetboil also sells a coffee press accessory I hear is pretty handy)

5. I bring water to a boil for my boil in bag omelette then use that same boiling water for my pour over coffee. This saves time and water)

I really only pack for dinner and breakfast since midday is when the road will lead you to some of the hidden treasures of American cuisine.

Breakfast biscuit. (sigh) I’m working on this, so far I have only been able to produce an inedible disappointment that only resembled a biscuit in its shape. But rest assured I have a biscuit expert giving me tips and I hope to soon be able to share with you an easy way to create a sacred savory southern biscuit that will make you slap your graceful gray haired granny for the ridiculous round rat food she has buttered and besmirched your plate with all these years.

So check back for updates after I consult with the biscuit expert over at Persnickety Biscuit ( believe me if this woman can’t help me, I’m beyond help).

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Categories: Motorcycle Camping, Motorcycle Gear | Leave a comment

Small, Lightweight Bag

The checkout clerk at the hardware store asked me where I got my bag. He was fascinated by it and wanted to buy one for his Uncle for Christmas ( yep, the cool motorcycle riding Uncle) So I guess it’s time I review this handy little bag.

It’s a full sized day pack that packs down to the size of a kiwi ( think fruit not small flightless bird ) it’s 2.5 oz of tough lightweight material that can easily be stuffed into the inside pocket of your riding jacket.

Despite its tiny pack size, once unfolded, it can hold a surprising amount of stuff! It holds 5.28 gallons ( or 20 Liters for you foreign folks )

In the photo below you can see a few of the items I picked up at the hardware store. There was still quite a bit of room to add more. Note: the little blue thing is the bag all packed up and placed by the items for an easy size comparison.

( yep, guess what I’m doing this weekend )

Its so small and light I just leave it in my jacket, honestly I forget it’s there, until I need to pick something up on the way home from a ride and I’m glad
to have it at the ready. I just unfold it, fill it, toss it on my back and away I go!

It’s made by the fine folks at Sea to Summit who make a host of great things for the great outdoors.

More info you can visit Sea to Summit’s site

Or you can get one for $32.95 from the fine granola munchers at REI

Very handy! ( and you can impress check out clerks!)

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They Should All Be Gloves

Let me start by saying I didn’t always dislike deer. I saw Bambi as a child (yet another Disney orphan story) fine film, cute skunk, etc. So I began life as a admirer of the gentle woodland creatures. Then one day I bought a motorcycle and the suburban rats, as I like to call them, suddenly became my nemesis. Leaping and running beside and in front of my bike as I wind my way down rural and even suburban roads. I found I wasn’t alone in this new found hatred for the wide eyed vernon. I have enjoyed musings of all things motorcycle by the fine gentlemen at the Pace Motorcycle Podcast. They relayed encounters both hilarious and hair raising on the unpredictable, and often dangerous, actions of deer. It’s from them that I borrowed the title of this post “They should all be gloves” which is a phrase that seems to pop up from time to time on the show. I have begun to agree with them and hope to soon protect my palms with a patch from the posterior of one of these pesky pasture pouncers.

This new found deer dislike was brought into focus this evening when I decided to unwind with a relaxing sunset run down some of my favorite country roads. I know that deer are more active at this time of day but the road called and I wasn’t going to let the gangly grass munchers ruin my chance for a good drive. I geared up and got underway. Here is a run down of my deer encounters; Two running next to the road in some strange “I’m afraid and forgot how to turn” race, one crossing the road in front of me, one lurking in a driveway, two in a field just stairing blankly, one at the top of a rise standing in the middle of the road watching me approve like I was an old friend coming at 50 miles an hour to give it a hug, 6 feet out it decided I was not a long lost friend and bolted, rather embarrassed, into near by bushes. And lastly one that started to run across the road, changed its mind and did a 180, nope maybe I do want to cross, did another 180, got half way a cross, nope, nope did yet another 180 and then bolted back to the woods. It was like a new age dance routine. Or a drunk dog on stilts chasing a squirrel. Whatever it was I slowed down and waited for it to reach its final act before speeding up to put distance between me and the impromptu stage.

I love evening rides, I really do, I love the sunsets, cooler weather and abandoned roads but I have to say this Cirque du Soleil of acrobatic deer has me rethinking when it’s best to ride. For safety sake I hope other riders will do the same. For those of you that are interested, I have found some helpful tips for avoiding the doe eyed dopes listed here on Ride Smarter USA

Here is a handy map that lets you know how likely you are to meet a deer on the road, by state.

Ride safe, and buy gloves
(preferably deer skin)

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Categories: Motorcycle Gear, Motorcycle Story | 1 Comment

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