Motorcycles


One of the things that made the DGR so successful last year was the sense of fun and inclusion that it brought to the motorcycle community not just in Albuquerque, but around the world. This was the “little idea that could.” A few guys got together to dress in retro fahion on their old British iron to raise money for prostate cancer. The idea got picked up by riders everywhere and hundreds of rides sprung up.

This year, watching the interaction between Mark Hawwa and the organizers of various rides has been disheartening. While the idea of keeping the ride period appropriate, with only certain kinds of bikes and certain attire was understandable, the response to questions about including folks that didn’t have a bobber or a cafe was always a snarky “If you don’t like it, start your own ride!” Hardly the epitome of gentlemanly conversation. Petulant, you might say.

Strike one, as baseball fans might say.

This morning, I woke to an email from our tireless local organizer, Chris Beggio, who announced he was done with the ride after this year. His reasons were encapsulated in a missive from Hawwa that was, to not put too fine a point on it, rude. The DGR organizers out of Australia have made a point of stomping on any dissent or individuality in the local rides. In this case it was to complain about a ride tee-shirt that had been designed to give the New Mexico event an appropriate flair.On the chest was the DGR logo in a Zia — the symbol of the state of New Mexico and a religious symbol that inspires a lot of affection from the residents here.

Hope all is well! Have an awesome ride this Sunday! Can you please don’t create DGR merchandise, I don’t give you permission to its not accountable to the charities. Its a trademark infringement and we don’t want to set a precedence. Ontop of that it looks terrible and there is official merchandise available on the website…

Fair enough. You don’t want competing “merchandise” even though it was provided free by the vendor and people aren’t buying the shirts (unlike onthe website.) It was a bit of swag to encourage people to come back to the ride, not gouge for money. Rather than ask if that was the case, Hawwa tosses out the “trademark infringement” grenade. Strike two.

“Ontop of that it looks terrible…” One — before you send an email, check your spelling and grammar. Two — you could have stopped at the trademark infringement. But no, this was an attempt to be, plainly put, ungentlemanly. Strike three.

At risk of joining this less than gentile behavior, I might point out that having seen the DGR official merchandise, it’s hardly award-winning stuff.

So, this is my last time with this charity. I will ride gentlemanly and distinguished…but I’ll do it my own way.

Scott Rhymer

Last year, I rode the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride here in Albuquerque on my Triumph Thruxton, Trixie, in my kilt (Campbell of Argyll) to help raise money for prostate cancer, and took the prize for “most distinguished gentleman” last year.

Lamp dem gams, ladies!

Lamp dem gams, ladies!

The ride is n again this year, and once more I will be mounting my trusty steed from Hinckley, England to try and save a few poor buggers from cancer. So help out and throw a few samoleans their way, would you? My sponsor page is http://www.gentlemansride.com/rider/blackcampbell

Maybe this year, my kilt will fly up!

Let's not forgot Trixie!

Let’s not forgot Trixie!

Presenting the 1869 Roper Velocepede — a dual-cylinder steam-powered motorcycle with a 1-ish horsepower motor. A later version in the late 1870s/early 1880s was a single-cylinder that produced 3HP and could hit a face-peeling 40 mph!

Here’s an example…and it still runs!

Here’s some specs for Hollow Earth Expedition or its Victorian-period game, Leagues of Adventure or the new Space: 1889

Size: 0   Def: 6   Struct: 4   Speed: 20   Han: 0   Crew: 1   Pass: 0

 

My local dealer finally got one of the most anticipated bikes of the year in this week, the 2015 Ducati Scrambler Icon (or Scrambler Ducati, whatever…) I took it out for a bit this morning to get acquainted, as I’ve liked the look and the reviews have been positive.

2015-04-19 11.35.40First, the styling — it’s a small bike and a nice tip of the hat to the Scrambler of old, but this is a modern bike. It’s just a no-frills modern bike. I hate the over-the-tire bumper thing Ducati and other bike companies have been doing, the faux-aluuminum panels on the sides of the metal tank look a bit cheap, but the single, off-side instrument cluster is a nice touch, the seat is wide and comfortable, and in yellow, it’s not too obnoxious.

Comfort: I was only out for a half hour or so, but that’s about the length of time most folks are going to commute or hit the local coffeeshop with this thing. It’s sprung a little soft, but I don’t mind that. The stock bars are a bit high, but I found that once I got used to them, they didn’t bother me. You could probably have your dealer roll them down and back ten degrees or so and be happy. Leg position is comfortable, although I’m splayed out a bit more than on the Triumph Thruxton I have.

Function: It’s not fast like most Ducatis, and if I get one of these, almost guaranteed it’ll be near year’s end when some doofus who bought this is getting rid of it because it’s not Ducati enough for them. It’s still very quick. All this BS in the magazines about it not being able to “launch” is crap; she takes off nicely, and I redlined the thing in second handily in acceleration. It won’t rip you off the seat, but it’ll get you to speed faster than my Triumph. It’s light and very, very nimble, with copious lock to lock turn on the bars. I was able to U-turn without issues, several times, in residential streets. The brakes are good and come on more progressively than the usual Ducati. Mash down, though, and it STOPS. The shocks are a bit soft, but the bike is overall comfortalbe, very easy to ride, and quick enough to get the blood pumping.

No, it’s not a 1299 Panigale. You want that, go waste $20,000+ on a bike you’ll never use the whole power band on. I’ll take one of these in a heartbeat.

After riding this, I transitioned to my 2010 Thruxton, and I could feel the weight gain, immediately, and while it handes very well, it’s not nimble.. The Scrambler’s a great pop around town bike — nimble, light, quick. At $8,500-ish after tax to get on one, it’s a definite buy.

The 2014 Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride is rode, and yours truly took the prize for Most Dapper Gent, although Trixie lost out to a lovely ’70s Honda 500Four.

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Thanks to Runeslinger for donating!

I will be riding in the 2014 Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, which I assisted in organizing, here in Albuquerque. We are riding in fancy dress, proper attire, post-war period costuming to raise money for prostate cancer.

It might not be as trendy as brest cancer or pouring ice water over yourself for ALS, but it’s a good cause — so pop over to my homepage on the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride page and donate some dosh!

Here’s what I’m wearing:

Klits...they get the pussy.

Klits…they get the pussy.

..and what I’m riding: Trixie, my 2010 Triumph Thruxton:

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Thanks already to Jim Sorenson for giving generously!

 

 

 

I’ve had my 2010 Triumph Thruxton for almost two years, and one thing I’ve been contemplating was modifying the suspension. There’s a lot of threads on the various Triumph boards about the execrable quality of the stock shocks and tires, but to be honest I didn’t really mind the set up, other than it felt squidgy in hard turns and had a tendency to sharply nose dive under hard braking. I’ve had crappy suspension on just about every bike I’ve owned, so this wasn’t really much worse that the 2007 Speed Triple, or the 2010 Street Triple, the 2001 Sprint RS, or even the 2001 Buell Blast I had.

I started off with cosmetic modifications to get the bike where i wanted it visually, but eventually a few sphincter-puckering moments on the Sandia Crest road lead me to start tinkering with the suspension. I dialed the pre-load up and while that tightened the bike up decently, it still had a tendency to get overly-spirited in fast turns. I tried new tires.

The Metzler Lasertecs are nowhere as terrible as the boards have to say — they’re very predictable, hold well, and aren’t expensive, but the Avon AM26 Roadriders truly change the character of the bike. Instead of a polite, staid machine, the Thruxton tips much more aggressively into turns on the British rubber. They hold tight in turns, do well in wet weather, but I found they were awful on that grooves concrete some states use for the highways. The Avons had a tendency to set up a pretty frightening speed wobble on these sorts of roads it didn’t have on the tarmac. At the suggestion of a cafe builder acquaintance, I tried the Shinko 712s — half the price of the Avons ($115 at my local garage wrech’s store…Score for the Scottish guy!), they grip just as well and at 2000 miles on them in just two months, seem to be wearing much slower. They also seem more stable on the concrete roads and don’t feel the wind as much. As a bonus, they have an aggressive-looking tread pattern and are 10mms higher in aspect ratio, giving the bike a more lean and tough appearance.

What the Shinkos and Avons showed, however, was how substandard the suspension was in hard deceleration or turning. A few weeks ago in a fast group ride down the Crest the front end of Trixie tried to tuck in a 35mph, downhill, right hand switchback. So…time to address the suspension. I’ve had a ton of suggestions — from the overly-ambitious and expensive Ohlins shocks and springs/valving, to the more reasonable Gold Valve treatment up front and Icon, cheaper Ohlin rears, to progressive springs up front with Hagon rear shocks. I read through the various boards, looked at my style of riding, and the cost to benefit of blowing over a grand on suspension and decided…

Spending a grand on the suspension is idiotic.

The final decision was based on thrift, but also on the notion that I could improve the set-up if I didn’t like it. Progressive springs in the front for $89, Hagon 900 three point adjustable shocks in the rear for $199. So how did the el cheapo option pan out?

Great. The springs went in first, as British Customs didn’t have the shocks in stock and we had to reorder directly from Hagon. (Thanks, Christine!) They take your weight, the type of riding (street or sport — unless you’re riding track, ask for springs, if you like your testicles…), and the color of the spring and bodies (chrome or black for either.) The springs immediately tightened up the front end and the same section of road that had been so interesting the week before was a doddle at 40mph. The front end lost a bunch of the chatter it had at speed or in turns, and was a serious confidence booster. It also exposed how absolutely worthless the rear end was.

The Hagons went on in 20 minutes at the local shop and several rides through the Crest road and the less challenging South 14 at perfectly legal speeds (honest!) showed the bike to be a completely different animal — tight, responsive, if a bit stiff. I’m going to wait a few weeks and see if the rear softens a bit as the spring breaks in, otherwise I made have to dial it down a bit. I took my iPhone and fired up the clinometer and ran it over the tire to get an idea of the lean angles I’ve achieved. The next day i was watching GP Moto with a local bike club and got to see what the 48 degrees I’ve been regularly pulling looks like.

I need to slow the f#$% down.

If you want to spend more money and get a wee bit more performance out of your Thruxton, by all means, do so, but if you are looking to tighten the bike up for spirited street riding without breaking the bank, I think this is the set-up to go with.

And she even looks good…

2014-04-24 14.03.05 HDR

2014-04-24 14.03.15 HDRTrixie: 2010 Triumph Thruxton SE with EPCO exhaust, British Customs fender eliminator and turn indicators, Dime City Cycles fork gaiters, mirrors and levers, front fender painted locally, Hagon 900 shocks, Progressive springs, and Shinko 712 tires.

Redheads! Italy! Motorcycles!

I can watch this one over and over…

After 6000 miles or so on the Avon AM26 Roadriders, i decided I needed a new set of feet for the Thruxton. There was probably another 3000 miles left in the tread, but I suspect a combination of underinflation and the tires having been just a bit off balance in their early days was giving rise to an annoying speed wobble in the 50-55mph range — nothing too terrible, but very noticeable — so I figured nip it in the bud.

So what to do? go back to the reliable and predictable Mezlers? Get another set of the Avons with their great turning and grip, but twitchy handling in wind and on grooved concrete? Maybe pop for the fantastic but expensive Dunlop Trailmax dual sport tires? I decided to take the advice of a cafe builder friend out here and try Shinko tires.

The obvious good stuff: they are cheap — the 712s for the Thruxton were about half the cost of a set of Avons. Even with install they’re cheaper than the Avons. They seem to sit just a bit higher on the back tire than the Roadrides did. They have a deep tread, and are nicely sticky, but the lettering style is not attractive. The bad: it’s got the usual center rain groove that doesn’t play well with grooved concrete. Once mounted, I took Trixie for a quick spin on I-40 and South 14’s nice set of twisties just south of Tijeras.

The tires are fairly quiet; I noticed no road noise of note. They have a slight vibration the Avons didn’t, but it’s not finger numbing. They take input very easily and quickly.

On the highway, they do seek on the grooved concrete (and to be fair, it’s an awful stretch of road, as well), but I didn’t get the wobble the Avons liked to give me. On normal pavement, they were sure and solid. I was also catching a hard set of crosswinds coming through the canyon. On the Avons, I would really feel the wind buffeting the bike, but on the Shinkos — as with the OEM Metzlers — there was minimal buffeting.

A quick run down the twisties on S14 (and absolutely not speeding…honest), and I found out the quick response to steering input was not linear (the best way I can put it.) The Avons have a steady fall into turns that is aggressive, but predictable. The Shinkos tip in fast and get progressively move aggressive in turning as you lean. A U-turn at the end of the twisties nearly put me down as the bike hauled over harder than expected, and when I gave it gas she sat up almost as sharply, and I nearly kissed the guard rail. And this is on a bike I know well.

(Hint for you bikers: changing the type tires really can change how your bike feels — be cautious those first few rides until you relearn the new handling.)

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the Shinko 712s, so far. I figure if I get even half the wear as I got out of the Avons, they were worth it.

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