I got talking to a scooter rider recently. He was new to riding but was very pleased with his little 50-cc scooter. He said the best part was that he filled the gas tank every week for around $2.26 - and to cover the same distance in his car would have cost $14.45. And as a bonus, he was thoroughly enjoying riding.
This story has been repeated over many years; fifty years, in the case of the Vespa 50-cc, as the Piaggio company (makers of the Vespa scooter line) celebrate 50 years of their highly popular scooters.
Scooters the world over are popular for commuting, and more are being restored by classic enthusiasts every year. Prices for classic scooters tend to be stable, and for anyone using them as a commuter machine, this is good news--you get to ride it for a few years, save a lot on gas, then get most of your money back. A win-win, if ever there was one.
If ever a motorcycle manufacturer was in the right place at the right time it was Hodaka.
Americans in the 60s were discovering off-road riding by the thousands; anything that could be ridden on dirt was (and a few things that couldn't, too!).
Taking a stock bike and turning it into an off-road fun bike was the beginning of a new style of motorcycle for many. These bikes became known as dual sport. Yamaha supporters claim to have had the first dual sport bike with their DT1, but Hodaka could claim to have been the first company to offer this type of bike with their Ace 90 in 1964, some three years earlier than the Yamaha. And then, of course, there were the European machines that would claim to have been first: Triumph with their Cub in 1953, or even their TR5 (1947) which won the ISDT.
Whoever is responsible for dual sport off-road bikes, we, the motorcycle enthusiasts, should be eternally grateful.
Many motorcycle enthusiasts first became aware of the pleasures of motorcycling from movies. For the last few generations, one viewing of On Any Sunday was all it took to put a competition bike on top of the wish list.
Bikes in movies often bring a level of excitement not seen with cars. The classic scene of Steve McQueen trying to jump his Triumph over a barbed wire fence in The Great Escape would not have been the same with any other form of transport.
But for me, the true story of Burt Monroe and his Indian motorcycle in The World's Fastest Indian takes some beating. Trying (and succeeding) to set a land speed record on a 47-year-old motorcycle is almost beyond belief, but bringing it from New Zealand to Bonneville on a trailer is just . . . well, unbelievable.
Racing a sidecar is not easy; racing one around the IOM TT course is downright difficult. Imagine riding a 145 mph vehicle that turns right when you accelerate, left when you brake, and never lands in a straight line if you jump it. All of this happens between hedge banks and walls in the IOM over a 37 mile course.
To celebrate the 90th anniversary of sidecar racing on the TT course (the first was in 1923), the organizers have a special treat for fans when a parade lap of many famous TT sidecars gets underway before the Senior TT on Friday the 7th of June.
Make sure you pick a good vantage point to see the parade. I have a feeling they will not be sticking to the road course's speed limits!
Motorcycle riders are different from car owners. A motorcycling friend summed it up well when he said "cars are for transport, bikes are for pleasure." There is another aspect of car and bike ownership that separates us. Most bikers like racing.
This interest in motorcycle racing by so many has led manufacturers to produce machines that are replicas of their works race bikes. And some of these replica race bikes are becoming highly collectible in their own right--Hailwood Ducati anyone?
Besides being able to purchase a bike that resembles a Grand Prix or superbike racer, there are many aftermarket decal and sticker suppliers that can supply almost every famous name-branded decal for bikers to get the looks they desire.
I was listening to Click and Clack (the Tappet Brothers) on Public Radio over the weekend and they were going over a list of times when car drivers should pull over because their car had become unsafe. In a few of their examples I would have hoped the driver had the sense not to go out in the first place, but then. . .
I got to thinking about motorcycle riding, and when it is essential to stop riding because of a fault and/or breakage, and I came up with a list of ten. If you can think of any more reasons, drop me a line at:
It's not that long ago that a motorcycle owner would set some time aside to reset the contact points on his or her motorcycle at least once a month. Nor, for that matter, was it all that long ago when a motorcycle owner would periodically have to set the voltage regulator on his machine. And it was a regular job to check the electrolyte solution in a battery before the current maintenance free batteries became readily available.
Thankfully, advances in electrical systems for motorcycles have alleviated? most of these maintenance tasks.
So, if you are considering rewiring your machine (perhaps during a restoration), the updates available should be considered. However, if your machine is completely original and in excellent condition, you must consider, also, that updates may affect the value.
Castrol has issued a product recall notice for some of their 2-stroke oils. The affected items have the following filling batch codes:
Further information is available on Castrol's web site:
Taking a classic or vintage motorcycle back to the country where it was made is a special experience. Many owners have taken their Nortons or Triumphs back to the UK, a few have taken their Ducatis back to Italy, but it's rare to have someone in Europe bring their Indian Chief back to the US. But this is what one reader in Germany did.
Wolfgang Bertsch restored his 1940 Indian Chief in 1977 with a dream of one day taking the bike on a long road trip back in the United States. That dream was realized last year (2012) when an epic trip of some 5,000 miles began in Savannah, Georgia and ended in New York.
A trip of this length on an old motorcycle was bound to have mechanical issues, and so it was for Wolfgang: a broken speedo cable! The reliability of the Indian is a testament to the excellent engineering of the original Indian motorcycle manufacturers. George M. Hendee and Carl Oscar Hedstrom built a fine machine.
Making an informed decision about buying a particular classic may ultimately come down to the parts availability.
Classic motorcycles are typically older machines (25 years old, or older generally), and as such the parts supply from a manufacturer will be very limited--assuming they are still in business!
If the potential buyer intends to cover any large mileage, or to keep the bike for some time, he or she is well advised to thoroughly research the parts availability.