Issue #13 of Grease Monkey Magazine is in the stores now. Be sure to grab a copy and check out my photos of the DoMaCo Norton, as well as re-cap photos of the 2013 Spring Thaw bike and Rat Show. You can view the entire magazine here.
The Ton Up Nashville British Motorcycle Club held their 11th annual vintage bike show on Sunday May 20. I try to make this show every year because it brings out some bikes (all kinds, not just British) that you don’t see at the other shows around town. Here are some of my favorites.
As many of you know… I’m in the (slow) process of “bobbing” my Harley-Davidson Sportster and when I complete it, it won’t exactly be the most comfortable motorcycle I’ve ever owned. I’m not talking horrible, but I won’t be taking any weekend trips on it. So… I’ve been thinking. (A dangerous thing!) What would I really want for cruising or commuting to go along with the Sporty Bob? Certainly my interest in large touring H-D bikes is way-gone so they are out. I’d love to have a Sport Tourer such as the Kawasaki Concourse or Honda ST1300 but a daughter in college rules those awesome machines out on price alone. So what’s left? Of course, it would be the Sportbike family. But that’s a problem too. While I would love the performance and reliability of an R6 or CBR600, frankly… when I sold my Sportbike last year I vowed that I would never again own a bike that forced my body into a racing position. (Old age I guess.) But what if I could find that performance, reliability and wow factor in a more traditional riding position? Do those bikes exist? Yes they do… and they are commonly referred to as “Naked” bikes. These stripped down Spotbikes never quite caught on here in the US like they have abroad but there are some out there on the used market and they offer the ergos and performance I would be looking for at fairly affordable prices. Three in particular have caught my eye… The Ducati Monster, Honda 599 and the Suzuki SV. Here’s a look at all three in their 2004 versions.
2004 DUCATI MONSTER 620: Of the three, I like the looks of this one the best. Something about that tubular frame and racing red color seem to be screaming for my attention. Two things bother me about it though. I don’t know if I could ever get used to the clanky sound of a Ducati engine and my research indicates that maintenance on this bike is significantly more costly than on the other two. KBB Retail: $3570
2004 HONDA 599: Some people feel like this bike looks fat and bulky. I disagree. I like it’s looks and while I have never ridden one, just looking at it, the Honda seems like it would feel more substantial than the others. I also love Honda’s reputation for bullet-proof engines. Performance specs are good as well… the downside to this one? Hmmmm… I’m really not sure there is one. KBB Retail: $3120
2004 SUZUKI SV650: I owned the “S” version (lay-down with fairing) of this bike for a while, and while it performed well, it always felt a little squirrely to me. More than once I was not happy with how it handled when pushing through the curves. Still, I think the non “S” version here might be a good option for what I would want… and it is also the most affordable of the bunch. To bad it doesn’t look better KBB Retail: $2850
Of course, trying to compare these bikes without riding them is somewhat ridiculous but these are my initial impressions. Let me know what you think… and who knows… maybe one day soon I will be riding naked!
I went to a local bike show today. It was at a local Harley-Davidson shop but the bike that caught my attention was not a Harley-Davidson… it was a Honda Shadow that had been customized to look like an old-school bobber. Take a look… what do you think? Does an old-school bobber have to be a Harley-Davidson? This is a pretty good argument that the answer is no… this bike looks great to me.
This weekend was yet another one filled with temperatures that should be against the law… I’m talking 30’s… and to help with my weather induced biker-depression I made my way down to the local Honda dealership just to wander for a while. I’m glad I did because I got to see the new 2010 Honda NT700V for the first time. You may not have heard of this bike yet but I have a feeling it is going to be making a pretty good splash real soon. What’s the big deal you ask? Well, Honda has done something with the NT I have been expecting for some time… they have brought a true sport-touring bike to the market in the 700cc range that can be had for less that $10K. This bike can be used as a commuter and a long-distance touring bike and keeps the cool lines of the ST1300, it’s big brother. What do you think? Here are a few specs:
680cc Liquid-Cooled V-Twin, Fuel-Injected, 5-Speed Transmission, Shaft Drive, Adjustable Rear Suspension, 562lb Curb Weight, Estimated 50MPG
Photo’s courtesy of powersports.honda.com. Click on either photo for more information about the 2010 Honda NT700V.
It’s an obsession I suppose, but I am always on the lookout for interesting 2-wheelers. It’s so bad that I almost always carry a camera with me to be sure I can grab a shot when one crosses my path.
Well… it paid off recently when I came across this pristine Honda CB1000. The “naked” Litre Honda sportbike is one that I had never seen before so I did a little research when I got home. Apparently these bikes were only produced between 1992 and 1997 (before the “naked” craze kicked in) and featured a 998cc DOHC liquid-cooled in-line 4, with 5-speed transmission.
If anybody knows anything more about this cool bike… please comment below.
For a long time we were hoping for rain in Middle Tennessee… now we can’t seem to turn it off. Things have been so bad this weekend that down in Aetna (about 80 miles southwest of Nashville) people are being evacuated in flat-bottom rescue boats. The National Weather Service even issued a statement, warning about “life-threatening” flooding. Crazy!
It’s not that bad where I live but still we are getting a ton of the wet stuff and my riding plans for the weekend have been completely trashed. (Sounds trivial compared to what the people in Aetna are facing… I know.) So… here I sit again on a Sunday morning at the local coffee shop, eating a little breakfast and writing about motorcycles instead of riding them.
To feed my 2-wheeled addiction I thought I would take a gander at the 2009 offerings from five top manufacturers and see which one bike in particular from each is the no-brainer pick for Swag’s garage. You might be surprised at my choices but here are the bikes that excite me the most.
HONDA: Yeah, I know… everyone is buzzing about the new Fury but honestly; it doesn’t do much for me. And of course there is the awesome Gold Wing but if I can’t seem to get past the ST1300. The combination of sportbike looks and performance with touring comfort seems like a winning combination to me. This bike makes me want to take a month off and ride to the West Coast and back.
YAMAHA: I’ve been a distant fan of the mighty V-Max for several years now and the 2009 version is as bad as ever! I mean what’s not to like? Muscle car looks meets better than muscle car performance.
SUZUKI: Check out the new Gladius. An aggressive looking 650 with street fighter looks… this bike seems like it would be right at home… both in the canyons and on the morning commute to work.
KAWASAKI: Hands down… my choice from Big Green is the Ninja 250R. It’s been a long time since I got excited about a 250cc motorcycle that didn’t have knobby tires on it but this thing has all the “cool” of it’s big brother Ninja’s but is entry rider friendly with its 333lb dry weight and easy to digest MSRP of $3499. My guess is that Kawasaki is going to own the 2009 entry-level market… but may also gain a lot of “bike #2” business from the experienced rider looking for a commuter .
HARLEY-DAVIDSON: As I did with Kawasaki… again, I am foregoing the eye candy and all the bells-and-whistles to go with the entry level Iron 883. Are you telling me that a rider can get into a H-D bike that is dripping with Harley attitude for under 8 grand? Uh… yeah. H-D has a real winner here.
I had to run in to Nashville today to take care of a computer issue and on the way I spotted this Hyabusa… one of the fastest production bikes you can buy. That’s the Nashville sky-line in the background… approaching from the East.
While I was downtown I decided to stop off at Arnold’s for a bite to eat. Arnold’s is a Nashville landmark and serves the best home-style country food you will find anywhere. (Check out Arnold’s here.) After stuffing my face I walked out to find the 2 bikes below parked outside.
The Honda is an old GL650. I haven’t seen one in years and it was cool to check out the sideways V-Twin poking out from the frame. The other bike is a 2001 Suzuki SV non “S” version. Mine is an “S” version and the difference is that mine has a fairing and lower bars for a sportier look and feel. Other than that… same bike as mine.
I had been waiting for this weekend all Winter long! After enduring week after week of less-than-desirable riding conditions… the torture ended this Saturday and Sunday as beautiful riding weather prevailed and sunshine and temperatures in the low 70’s were the fashion in Middle Tennessee.
I took full advantage! On Saturday I hopped on the Electra Glide and lead my first group ride of the year. It was a beautiful backroads route and I completely enjoyed riding with 13 of my friends… some that I hadn’t seen in several weeks.
That afternoon I test rode the 2009 Buell SB12XSs (see RANT from 03/21/09) and on Sunday afternoon I escaped for a ride on the SV, enjoying some of my favorite curveys. Below is a short video from Sunday’s excursion. It was a great weekend of riding!
Last night I completed my third workout of the week. Honestly, I wasn’t thrilled about the thought of torturing myself for another hour of my life but I was a good little boy and resisted the urge to blow off the gym and go for a ride. There was a bright side to it though… other than all that good health stuff. When I finished, I dragged my worn-out body to the parking lot where my truck was parked… but before I got to the Swag-mobile I noticed this beauty parked nearby.
A primo condition Honda CBR1000F. Not sure what year it was but based on the trim my best guess would be that it was a ’93 model. You don’t see many 16 year old sport bikes that are this nice. A real gem for sure!
An interesting side note is that this model is equipped with the factory Linked Breaking System that Honda introduced in 92. The official name for it was the Dual Combined Brake System. I’ve never ridden a bike equipped with DCBS but the idea was that front brake lever operates the front calipers but also proportionally applies the rear brake, while the rear brake engages one front calipers.
Is my motorcycle life pathetic or what? My saddle time has been limited lately so alternatively I have been finding pleasure in snapping pics of random bikes I happen to see while I roll around caged like an animal. That’s messed up man!
The problem is that at the moment I am unable to commute on the bike so my riding time is limited to the weekends… which have not been very cooperative as of late. So here you go again… a couple more shots from today.
The first one (above) was shot in the morning while it was still very overcast. The guy had a nice little Honda Shadow… and I had to get the “Gun Show” billboard in the background so everyone would immediately know this was shot in Tennessee… Haha! The second shot (below) was taken after the sun made his appearance… a nice GSXR in the parking lot of the local Road House.
For the past few days we have had near perfect riding weather here in Middle Tennessee and bikers (other than me) all over the area have been taking full advantage of it. In fact, I counted 14 bikes yesterday afternoon just on my 18 mile trek home from the office.
As you can imagine, I was about to have a breakdown so I contacted my buddy from the next town over and we made plans to meet at the local Honda/Suzuki Dealer this morning for their monthly breakfast… and from there we planned to head to the not-so-mythical-land of “Idon’tknowwherewearebutIlikeit”-ville!
I got up early and made sure the SV’s tire pressure was good, checked the oil level and was on my way by 7:30am. About 3 blocks from the house I stopped and topped off with 93 octane and just as I put the nozzle back in the pump… I felt it. A fine mist on my cheek. In a fit of denial I headed on towards the meet-up location and before I hit 5 miles on the trip-odometer the heavens opened up and flooded me and the SV. I was bummed for sure (this was not forecasted) but reluctantly turned around and headed back to the house. Regardless of how bad I wanted to ride, spending the morning fighting wet roads and wet clothes trumped it all.
On a positive not though, I did grab a couple of pics of the SV before I left so getting it out wasn’t a total waste. And I did go on to the breakfast (caged) to meet my friend. We had a good time slamming a few pancakes and looking around the shop at all the bikes. BTW, he did make it there on his Kitana. I grabbed the shot of him below as he headed home.
Everyone that rides has a special place in their heart for their first motorcycle. Like many of you, I started with a Briggs & Stratton powered mini-bike but my first “real” motorcycle was a 1970 Honda CL100 “Scrambler”. My dad bought the bike for me in 1973 and the little red Honda probably had more impact on me than any other bike I’ve owned. You see, back in those days most of the guys in the neighborhood were still riding mini-bikes and the ones that did move up were riding Honda 50’s. But the CL100 was a “real” motorcycle with full-size tires, suspension, five-speed transmission and a blistering 99cc’s of raw power! And although I wasn’t… it was even street legal. This was the motorcycle that took me to the next level of riding and instantly crowned me king of the neighborhood motorcycle brats! You should have seen their faces the first time they saw that red beauty!
It’s funny to look back now and see how small it really was (and how young I was) but I owe a lot to that Scrambler. It taught me how to use a clutch which proved invaluable when it came time to learn how to drive a car. It taught me how to use a front brake and why using it while going down a dirt embankment is a bad idea. It taught me that wheelies without proper execution can result in scars. It even gave me my earliest inkling that bikers get the really pretty girls as evidenced by the sudden interest of the lovely neighbor girl. Ahhhh, to be young again!
In retrospect, I really didn’t have the bike that long before moving on to more powerful motocross bikes like my Suzuki RM-100 but I will always have fond memories of the Honda CL100 Scrambler that thrust me into motorcycle manhood! I wish I still had it.
There are still some around… Last summer I attended a motorcycle event in Nashville and ran into a guy who actually had a restored CL100. It was a different color and not the exact same year as mine but man did it ever bring back a flood of good memories. I’m sorry to say that I don’t remember the guys name but he was kind enough to let me snap a few pics. Some are posted here for your pleasure.
Please watch both of the identical videos below and tell me which looks better to you… YouTube or Vimeo. You can email me or use the comment link at the bottom of this post.
I took the super-slab into the city today and was passed by this guy on his Goldwing trike. This is about as “cushy” as it gets… what a nice bike! I’ve never ridden a trike but I can totally see myself on a 3-wheeler when I get older.
Honda has announced a new bike… but when you see it you will be hard pressed to know it’s a Honda. Looking more like a custom chopper, the 2010 Honda Fury is going to surprise a lot of people when they find out that the company who lives off of Sportbike sales has produced something on the complete opposite edge of the spectrum… and it’s pretty cool!
Here’s what a recent Honda Press Release had to say:
“The Fury taps directly into the passion for riding; this is a machine built for people who have always longed for a chopper-style motorcycle. And for good reason–it’s got to be the ultimate as far as cool factor goes, a bike profile that’s instantly known and recognized. But this is also a chopper with a unique difference: you can simply ride it and enjoy, without all of the costs, compromises and headaches typically attached to such machines.”
Could it be that there is actually a classic looking chopper available with tried and true Honda reliability? Time will tell I guess. According to Motorcyle.com, the Fury will hit US Dealerships the latter part of March but before then you can catch a look at several Cycle World International Motorcycle Shows around the country.
CLICK HERE to visit the Fury website.
CLICK HERE to check out Honda’s Press Release from 01/16/09.
(Photos in today’s RANT courtesy of Honda.)
PS… Honda has not released an MSRP yet but it is rumored to be under $15K.