Tagged: motorcycles

It’s That Time of Year Again…

This morning I prepped the garage, topped up her tank, added some sta-bil, and moved her into her winter resting spot. I haven’t covered her up yet though – I’m hoping maybe there’s another riding day to be had, though I’m clearly not holding my breath.


It could be worse: my friend Greg in El Paso TX got his new F430 delivered to him in five inches of snow. Not sure I can wrap my head around the concept of five inches of snow in El Paso TX!

The Zen of Leaning

I was first exposed to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance when I was in my early 20s. The Chairman of the Board crooned

love like youth is wasted on the young

and I think that ZAMM might also be wasted on the young. I can tell you for sure that it was wasted on me oh those mumble-mumble years ago.

Why was it wasted on me? The primary reason is that I think I was simply burned out on allegorical learning. Although I wouldn’t trade my liberal arts education for anything (I have a BA in Computer Science, not a BS – go figure), I wasn’t that far out of school when I read ZAMM, and my brain was much more in “geek mode”, if you will.

But two things have happened that brought me back to the book. First, I now have a gaggle more gray hair and children of my own. As Pirsig writes early on in the book:

At age eleven you don’t get very impressed with red-winged blackbirds. You have to get older for that.

Second, I now ride and wrench my own motorcycle.

I had a mentally-draining day today. Lots of stuff going on. Almost uniformly good stuff, but lots of it. I was pretty stressed as I pulled into my driveway this evening. I opened the garage door to see my bike with its rear end in a dozen pieces strewn across the floor (my own doing). The weather forecast for tomorrow is looking yummy, so on a lark I decided I’d put her back together, minus the part I’ve been waiting interminably on. Forty-five or so minutes later, with nary a cuss-word issued, my bike was whole and idling, and I was a new man. Stress gone. Mind clear.

Get thee to a motorcycle dealer, folks! There really is something to this…

[With many thanks to Brad and Dave for exposing me to Pirsig in the first place!]

999 Pricing

So, as previously threatened, I’ve been monitoring 999 prices. All the more so since my FZ6 is in various pieces in my garage, awaiting the never-arriving-part-from-hell. Dealers seem to be willing to move leftover 2006 999s for $13,500 to $15,500 or so (before negotiation). What’s disheartening is that KBB suggests a 2006 999 is worth $9,700 on trade. That’s 30% to 40% depreciation off the lot. Not as bad as your average Bentley, but still…

If anybody out there has a used black 999 available, feel free to drop me a line!

So Much For Cheap 999s?

The latest issue of Motorcyclist Magazine, which hit my mailbox today, contained an exceptionally interesting, and revealing, article comparing the 999S with the 1098S in real track conditions, with a real rider.

Doug Polen, winner of three Superbike Championships in the early 90s, suited up at Buttonwillow to put the two bikes through their paces. The track record there is apparently 1:46.5. Net-net, Polen was able to get the 1098S down to 1:53.31. He was able to get the 999S down to 1:52.25. A second faster than the young gun. While the 1098S outperformed the 999S on the drag strip (the power-to-weight ratio is much better on the new bike), Ducati is clearly engineering at the edge, and newer isn’t necessarily better.

So perhaps my prediction from last year was premature and the 999s will retain their values. Bummer.

The Urge to Lean

The urge to lean has ratcheted up over the last couple weeks. Alas, we got our first real snow of the winter this past week, with more due tomorrow. Much too much ice, salt, and sand on the road for a spin (never mind the mercury). So while I stir impatiently, she sits patiently awaiting spring and a robust, road-washing rain.


Ducati 1098 Swingarm Engineering

When Ducati designed the 1098, they tasked their engineers to figure out how to get back to a single-sided swingarm. The result is a rather choice piece of kit.

Here’s a neat video that shows CAD cutaways of the design, and here’s a snap of the piece of art in situ.



Ducati Styling: 1098 vs. 999

I’ve been a lifelong student of the aesthetic design of motorized vehicles. In the last few months as the upcoming Ducati 1098 photos have been making the rounds online and in print, I have been surprised at, what appears to me, the sudden reversal of opinion on the 999 design.

I don’t own a 999 (though I considered purchasing one this fall), and I’m not on the 1098 lists. Those of you who know me understand however that I do have a penchant for Italian vehicles, so I pay attention to what Ducati is up to (on the race track and on the road).

The article in the latest print issue of Cycle World pushed me over the design confusion edge. I can’t find the article online, but here’s their first ride article, fwiw. Furthermore, you can read all sorts of debates on the styling at the Ducati.ms Superbikes forum.

Beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder. All I know is that a lot of folks are gonna have a lot of fun with a lot of pre-owned Ducati 999s that appear to be ready to plummet in value with the advent of the 1098. Perhaps I’ll pull the trigger in the spring.



Please, may I pay your exorbitant parking fee?

I had a bizarre parking experience a few weeks ago that I’ve been meaning to blog about.

Early one morning I had a meeting scheduled at The Charles Hotel in Harvard Square. I like The Charles Hotel. I have spent many-a-night enjoying jazz gigs at Regattabar, have had many meals at Henrietta’s Table, and my wedding reception was at Rialto. I’m certain I cannot count how many meetings I’ve connected for at The Charles.

So this particular morning the weather was nice and I decided I’d take the motorcycle instead of the cage. Big mistake, apparently.

The Charles Hotel garage adamantly refused to let me park my bike in their garage. I was willing to pay their exorbitant parking fees. I was willing to pay them in advance. I was willing to park in some out of the way space they couldn’t possibly fit a car – this was “free money” for them.

In the end, after cycling through a couple levels of “garage management” (this whole ordeal quickly became an exercise in satisfying my curiosity re: their behavior, not my need to park the bike), I was allowed to alight in a boxed-in, not-car-accessible corner that otherwise would surely have sat empty for the few hours I was at the hotel. They collected their regular parking fee upon my exit.

What confused me is that I could not get a straight answer as to why they have this “no motorcycles” policy (which was not posted at the entrance, AFAIK). One person I spoke with just didn’t know – it was just “the policy”. This is never a good answer for the customer. Another person said the gates wouldn’t open up for something as light as a motorcycle. This seemed specious since I had to pay a human being upon exit, and one can reasonably assume they have control and mastery of a pair of “gate up” and “gate down” switches/levers/etc. Another person said bikes could get around the gates without paying. No motorcycle I’ve ever seen – there are only a few inches of clearance to the wall, and going under would only work if you laid the bike down.

So does anybody know why a garage would have such a policy? Do most garages have a “no motorcycles” policy?


PS: The One Kendall Square garage in East Cambridge next to Landmark Theaters has a “no motorcycles” policy (posted at the garage entrance) however, they provide FREE parking for motorcycles on the other side of the garage outside. Now that’s class!

Lose the Helmet?

The BBC yesterday reported on an interesting study done in the UK about how motorists interact with bicyclists. Specifically, how close the cars travel to the bicycles given different contexts.

Surprisingly, it appears that cars will reduce their margin for error (i.e., drive closer) if they see the rider has a helmet on. Whodathunkit? The tests also suggest that motorists give female bicyclists more room on the road than men.

I’m a proponent of motorcycle helmets. I always wear mine, and I live and ride in a state that requires a motorcycle helmet. But I can’t help wonder what the results of tests like this might be like in helmet-optional geographies.