BMW 800GS is Almost Here

Don't you hate it when they know you? I got an email, spam really, from my local BMW motorcycle dealer (South Sound BMW) announcing that they just received their demo BMW F800GS bike. They even included some teaser shot of it being uncrated. I'm trying not to get all giddy about it myself, but I think it's too late. If the starts align I'll get my turn riding the thing, but even if I wanted one I don't think there'll be enough built to get one this year...maybe not even until mid next year. I'm not the only one giddy.

Aprila Mana, Yes, Bike Me.

I don't know what Mana means, and I'm not sure what Aprila's new tag line is about "Bike Me", but Aprila, go ahead and Bike Me because I really want an Aprila Mana 850. If you don't know the Aprila Mana 850 is the kind of bike that I can run at the mouth about, even to non bike types. Sure, I've got a soft spot for the standard bikes, as they're not like the glam rock super bikes, or gay biker Harleys, they're the to wheeled everyman. The go to work, do what's asked and then come home to do it again the next day. What's great about the Aprila Mana is it's innovation. I'm hoping we're seeing new ideas lurch forward into acceptance. I can't wait to drive one and confirm if my theories are correct, or not. My friends, what we have here is what I think is the perfect city commuter bike. CVT? Room for your lid? No clutch or neutral? All hail Aprila. UPDATE: There's a new Mana only site from Aprila here.

Silver Surfer

Robert Frank once talked about what's between the pages that made his photographs. It's what's between the moments that makes the ride. The pinnacles of slicing the corner, or elation for a perfect U turn, or all that definitive moment stuff are all important. But there is a moment of nothing that's everything. Once you realize it's there it starts to shatter and flake away, but while you have it there is perfection. Doing nothing, feet planted on the pegs, body balanced on itself, traffic moving aside and the machine pulling you quickly forward across miles of concrete unencumbered by anything except yourself. There's the moment.

Donut Dominator

I chatted with a motorcycle cop today, about his bike, his training, his attitude when riding. They undergo 2 week of skills training to ride as proficiently as they do. I only took an MSF course for two days. He riding philosophy was solid, it was all about respect. He rides assuming his sergeant is watching, he rides assuming he's the lone representative of the Seattle PD, he rides with respect for the road and other drivers. I'll subscribe to that philosophy. Good on ya motorcycle cop.

Kawasaki Concours vs Yamaha FJR

Is it me or did Kawasaki just give up on innovation and copy the Yamaha FJR with their new Concours 1400 sport touring bike? Admittedly I'm a big fan of the porky FJR, but want the rising tide to lift all boats, and just wished Kawasaki would have let the Concours 1400 bake a little bit more. After all, it is panacea bike class, the Lexus of motorcycles From what I hear the new Honda VFR 1000 should be something impressive, but what VFR hasn't been?

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Pictures Surface

A bit of fascinating news over on The Kneeslider motorcycle blog recently. There are pictures to go with the famous book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Nicely laid out here with the caption and author's footnotes. Far different than the images I had in my head, but just as valuable and much more interesting.

Six Answers

Marcus Aurelies wrote about his six timeless observations on life. They're on the money, and also apply to riding.
Lesson #1: We Are Responsible for Our Own Experience of Life
Sure, they'll cut you off, signal right then turn left, but it's you, the rider, that's responsible for your safety on the road. How far do you follow? Do you always signal? Is your helmet black or yellow?
Lesson #2: Everything Changes
Never assume the road that you ride to work on everyday will be the same tomorrow. New pavement, a dropped bucket of wet paint in the lane, or the worst time ever for your side luggage to come open, everything changes. It's how we deal with it that matters.
Lesson #3: Live a Real Life
Fear no ride. You live a real life because you ride. You chose to ignore all the "my uncle died on a bike" stories and enjoy it, even if there is a risk. Its risk that gives reward.
Lesson #4: Be Grateful
Wave at the guy that let you squeeze into the lane. Be happy that you noticed the smell of fresh bread being baked on the ride to work today, be excited that you enjoy your trip to and from work because you're on two, very fast, wheels.
Lesson #5: Be Detached
So what if that minivan flicked you off. No big deal that the Harley guy just passed you in the bus only lane wearing only shorts and sunglasses. It's his choice. Focus on what you can affect.
Lesson #6: All Is Well
All is indeed well. You live in a country that gives you anything you want, anytime you want it. There is nothing to complain about if you are an American. Our system gives you the opportunity to change it. In the end, all is well. Life is good.

Spare Change

I think I'm in the minority with I say that I like the new Buell 1125 CR. I can overlook it's reputation for poor long term quality and it's jackhammer vibrations at a standstill for the bold styling. At some point we, as motorcyclists, have to embrace the new and cultivate our rapidly dying culture of individuality or we make a mockery of the ideas that we are at our core. Doing it your own way, not following the crowd, style, power, all these things are what every guy/gal on a bike is about at some level. You admit to it every time you strap a helmet on to ride to work, or participate in your "hobby". Kudos to Eric Buell for going big and taking a chance. I like the Buell 1125 CR. Screw you if you don't, go get back into your Honda Accord.

Electric Motorcycles

I'm calling out the big manufacturers, right here, right now. Hurry up with the good looking electric bikes, damit. With millions of R&D dollars, a short concept to production time and low material and build costs why haven't we seen more electric motorcycles? There's a niche market, as evidenced by Vespa purchases, for short trip high mpg vehicles, the Prius has become the cost no object symbol of eco pride, and even motorcyclists don't want to waste a drop of gas if they don't have to. I love my 4 cylinder sport touring rig, all 1300ccs of it, but I'd gladly ride a well designed electric bike back and forth to work if it was road worthy. The best of the breed, and it's a low bar right now, is the Enertia Bike from our neighbors to the South, Portland, OR. Consider how awkward the first American motorcycles were, created much in the same was as the Enertia, from guys with a good idea and some shade tree know-how and compare with what a 100 years of innovation will produce. Well, ok, Harley Davidson innovation has been on vacation for the last 60 years, with the remote exception of Buell, but all those other brands, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, heck I'll even throw in Triumph, you get the idea.

Big BMW 1200GS

I'm bias to BMW motorcycles, having owned a BMW F650GS myself just recently, but after test driving the fabled, exalted, and seemingly untouchable BMW 1200GS I'm not impressed. There, I said it. I refuse to follow everyone off the cliff and say it was god on wheels, because it wasn't, but boy did I want it to be. For close to $18,000 out the door it better be stunning. First, it was impressive in that the boys in Germany have done a lot of thinking about where to put the switches, how to position the rider, about what little thing that you've ever wanted on a bike shows up. But that's just it. There's too much going on. It's 100 butlers trying to make you happy at every bump, throttle, and corner. All talking at once it was white noise. It felt spongy, and wide. It was powerful, but not exciting power (I've ridden the BMW K1200R so I know the BMW boys can make power galore.). I was less than expected and without soul, and as I drove around the city, then on the highway I never was able to get what I wanted out of it. An odd duck it was. I wanted so bad to enjoy the ride and start getting the loan in place to call this legend my own, but the ride convinced me otherwise. The king is dead. That is, unless the BMW F800GS due out this fall as learned from the mistakes of the big daddy BMW 1200GS. My wallet still waits to see if the German boys out think themselves.

Lucky to Be

Today I wasn't fluid. I wasn't able to get in exactly the right gear, traffic was dense and I wasn't able to hold my lines, or my speed. Worst, there was a baseball game downtown, near my office, and like a moth to flame thousands of bad drivers swerved slowly toward the stadium, in my way, new to the neighborhood, jockying for their $20 parking spot. I'm sure some of them had bikes at home, that they were the people that ride with shorts, loafers and flame half helmets on Sunday afternoons. Most important, over all my inability to mesh with the machine and the traffic, I was excited. Everyday I get excited about my ride. It's good to ride.

Rolling Under

If I'm as still as the road will let me be, there'll be a moment when the lane, the cars, the scenery roll under me and I no longer move as I fly down the road. It's disorienting, but in a good way. I'm still and everything else moves around me. The bike sucks in each stripe one after another and what's behind me is gone, what's beside me is trivial and I move motionless. Me and the motor, a nuclear powered vacuum sucking the world into into our machine.

Corner Thinking

There's always something to focus on when riding. I rode home from work, across the bridge, and directly into the orange setting sun today. The long sweeping turn that connects the bridge to the highway was all zen. Sat up, air noisy and hitting my body, dropping into 3rd, not too much deceleration, keeping my body balanced and in place, starting to lean forward, I slid off the saddle to the right just a bit and pointed my chin toward the apex, looking around the faring. Entering the corner and feeling the bike tipping over and thinking of the inch of tire that was scrubbing microscopic pieces into the highway, adjusting the path, disappointingly, every second or so I pulled on the throttle just enough to exhale and push out of the curve and moderate the speed to merge into the new traffic.