Thursday, December 24, 2015


Merry Christmas everyone...

Friday, December 11, 2015

Open, for business...

if you catch my drift...

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

This is why 1990s Harleys are so cool.

Sure, they're heavy, but every piece is solid, precisely machined out of quality materials for a predictable "no-hassle" fit every time.

They are either powdercoated (as is this), polished or plated with a deep flawless chrome, and although it's something you can't quite put your finger on, what transpires is a feeling of Quality that's hard to match.

This handlebar clamp is a prime example of why these motorcycles are just so easy to like. As always with photos it may not be easy to capture an object's "feel" but if you can, extend that to the rest of the motorcycle.

The whole bike is made like this, so of course the finished product is one that conveys a constant feeling of reliable quality. What's not to like?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Rugged, part 2.

You may remember the aluminium panniers we got for our R100GS a while back. Marco and Witold also have them on their Beemers and we're all very impressed with the quality and durability of these. We've all gone for slightly different options, so no two sets are alike.

What's in that cardboard box then? Well, I got a very small refund from my previous Sportster's third party insurance, back when it was stolen, and at first I thought I'd just put it towards the Honda's insurance, but then I thought "you know what, screw it":

While I normally detest plastic top boxes (particularly ubiquitous on those two-wheeled automobiles called scooters), I do like this one because it's a custom-made aluminium case, made to measure so all of this can fit in it:

That's the complete tent, sleeping bag and self-inflating pad, plus a small bag for a change of clothes and a few necessities - all you need for a motocamping weekend.

Fitting it to the Honda was straightforward, using the bike's carrier plate (which was an absolutely perfect fit) and existing attachment points, I just marked some reference points, drilled through and bolted everything down using a few washers under the bolt heads. I'll probably revisit this at some point and include some spacers for extra sturdiness.

While I admit it does seem a bit weird, I wouldn't say it's disproportionate: the wide-angle lens makes it look far bigger than it actually is. I don't mind the way it looks, it can be removed with a singe tool in a matter of minutes and allows me to carry what I need with no hassle.

The thing that most surprised me is how well it fits on the bike: it "slots" in on the carrier plate at the front, doesn't extend beyond the rear edge of the plate, doesn't make the bike any wider, and the height of it is very nicely proportionate to the rest of the box, and the bike. After all, this Honda is a very narrow, small motorcycle.

There is also a bracket to carry a 2lt. jerry can, always useful whether it be engine oil or petrol (or, motor oil or gas...).

However, there was one small defect, possibly due to the parcel being banged around during transport, two cracks on one side, which dad had welded up by a local shop in Aprilia, who did an excellent job:

Saturday, November 7, 2015

This is my new Sportster.

well, I don't really know how else to say this... I went and got myself another Sportster.

Crazy? Probably. Irrational? Completely. Prudent and reposnsible? Well, an argument could be made that these things hold their value well, and, in the case of this particular model, I have a feeling they will re-value with time.

But, hear me when I say that this motorcycle delivers one of the most intense, G-pulling riding experiences I've ever come across.

You feel this one in your guts and in your shoulder sockets, because it wants to rip your arms off.

It is a long, long way away from my beloved previous Sportster. Why? Well, the 2001 Sportster 1200S is very special because although it is essentially the same model I had, on the 'S' variant produced between 2000 and 2003 especially, virtually everything had been seriously upgraded at the factory:

there is fully adjustable suspension front and rear, an oil cooler, improved brakes, a more efficient oil pump, better clocks, cool cast alloy wheels, hotter cams with new high-contact ratio gears for quieter engine operation, a better flywheel, an improved ignition system (single fire), higher compression ported heads with bigger valves and DUAL FREAKIN' SPARK PLUGS! (these are actually the aptly named "Thunderstorm" heads that were fitted to Buell bikes) In addition, the previous owner has fitted an unrestricted Screamin' Eagle (Oh Harley, you can be so cheesy...) air filter and the legendary Vance & Hines performance exhaust system, all working together to produce a sound that is hard to believe.

Regrettably, all this grunt comes at the expense of one feature that played no small role in making my previous Sportster such a wonderful machine: the autopilot.
On the other bike, you could just get on and think "go home" and you'd wake up safe and sound in your bed. With this one, you had better be 100% awake, focused and fully engaged, or it will sock you in the chops.

A big thank you to Marco who helped me pick up the bike from the dealership today.

Friday, November 6, 2015

This is gonna be good...

Saturday, October 24, 2015


As you've probably guessed I don't have a lot of time to dedicate to motorcycles lately, and I'm about to have even less for the foreseeable future. Add to that the start of the crappy season just around the corner and I might as well put up a sign that says "see you in the spring!".

The problem with not having time to wrench or ride is that you start thinking. And ideas are very dangerous things!

Apply this to the Sportster: obviously I was really bummed when my bike was stolen, but other than feeling numb right after it happened, I stopped thinking about it pretty quickly and, I must confess, I really haven't missed it all that much, which surprised me more than anyone, considering how many miles I'd done with that thing and how much I liked it.

Now that I don't have time to wrench or ride any of my bikes, something strange happens as my focus begins to shift.

I started reading about Ducati's new Scrambler and thinking "ooh, I fancy me a bit o'that!"

then I read some more and found out that only the official dealerships/workshops can reset error messages and warning lights that come up on the digital display, and that made me very sad for the state of current motorcycles.

All this excessive and slavish deference to electronics is ruining motorcycles! Motorcycles are supposed to be simple, essential - nay - elemental machines. To corrupt them with sensors, switches and wires that the owner can't get into is not only madness, it is offensive and it is turning motorcyclists into a bunch of sissies too afraid to get their hands dirty and too scared to ride something that doesn't have ABS, traction control, assisted this-and-that. Pah!

So, naturally I retreated into familiar territory and started looking at old photos of my Sportster and think "man, what a cool bike that was..." As always, older is better.

So, what is the point of any of this? Probably nothing, probably just idle ramblings.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

Our lady of the sacred Fastback

This one speaks for itself I think, Alessio's beautiful Fastback:

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Handlebar vs. handlebars

After riding the Norton with the new handlebar, I can make a proper comparison with the clip-ons I had before, and I can say this:
pretty though it was, trying to handle the bike with the clip-ons was like trying to write calligraphy while wearing boxing gloves.
With the new handlebar, it's like shooting a rifle with a hair trigger.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

the Campotosto Mystic Trip 2 - "Shamans of the Astral Plane": a report.

Much like last year, we covered A LOT of ground for this trip, our course meandered through so many small towns, hills, valleys, forests and proper mountains, one after the other, until you no longer know where you really are, and the passage of time feels like the memory of a half-remembered song.

As motorcycles and riders started to resonate with each other and everything else around them, that's when we gradually emerged onto the psychic trail and the real trip began. There are no signposts along the way, but plenty of signs, markers and animal spirit guides like the white boar. Far out man...

Once again, only three Shamans rode out to the mountain lake, perhaps such a mystical trip has a component of numerology? Perhaps next year we can make it seven then?

Sandro joined us on his perfectly stock Honda CBR600F, tires down to the canvas and motor oil a little past its prime, but I'm so glad he could come with us.

Witold, still in considerable pain from a broken throttle hand, chose an incredibly futuristic Honda CN250 Spazio, duly thrashed it and was faster than a lot of sports bikes we encountered along the way:
He is the Psychopomp! He manifested himself to guide us across layers and ripples of reality! Make an offering of the sacred herb to him, and all will be well:
Here are some more snapshots from along the way, who knows where we were!
Who's a good boy? YOU'RE A GOOD BOY!!
Here are some more from the side of my head.
Taking in the view at Salto:
Getting things moving:
Grassy lanes? No problem:
It's ok, this doesn't mean what it means in Britain:
Offroading on the Spazio, not for the fainthearted:
Behold, the majesty of this wonderful lake and the Holy Mountains that surround it:
As for the Norton, this outing and the short round trip to the mountain rally last month, made for a good shakedown and real-world test of the newly assembled top end.

I can safely say that this engine has never run so well (and that clutch upgrade is working a real treat, lemme tell ya).

Even Witold had to concede that it sounds spectacular, does not burn oil and feels (even at a distance) purposeful and precise. Hats off to SRM, once again.

Some of you may know what I'm talking about here, you spend the whole day on a motorcycle, especially a British classic with their unrestricted exhausts, and by the time you go to sleep you can't help but notice this peculiar ringing in your ears, part droning sound, part echo, yet very present. You may think it's the effect of all those hours exposed to the loud exhaust but what you've actually tuned into is the eternal cosmic cymbal that's always ringing but only a few can hear, sending out wave after cosmic wave of mystical revelations.

Until next time, safe trips to everyone.