Monday, March 26, 2012

Still shoppin' & CX500

On of the reasons I focused on Triumph's "new classics" in my motorcycle search was the overall package they offered; new parts and modern reliability built into classic-looking designs. They aren't overpriced and while the dealership network for Triumph isn't as comprehensive as Harley-Davidson or the Japanese manufacturers, but it's way ahead of the boutique manufacturers and everything else coming out of Europe (including BMW). For a new(ish) bike, I made the right choice.
Scramber, Thruxton, Speed Triple, & Bonneville T100 (with some ladies)
Photo from
But I do like the aesthetic of bikes from at least 25-30 years ago. On more than one occasion people suggested that I just get an older bike to start with. They're cheaper, a bit under-powered by today's standards, and far simpler to fix/tinker with. That notion fell dead when I came across my Bonnie at the end of my middle eastern tour and the flurry of arrangements that had to be made to reserve it. Despite being completely satisfied with the Bonneville and (up until my little crash) not planning on tinkering with it at all, I've kept looking at other bikes. It's a habit that comes from a solid year of bike shopping in my idle computer time. It would be a shame to let those skills scouring craigslist and dealer inventories rust, right? Some days I say I'm looking for a bike for Sarah, whether I'm worried about how Bonnie would handle with the extra weight or I think Sarah might enjoy driving herself. Sometimes I just want something to grind, paint, and fiddle with mechanically.

Photos from
This is a customized Honda CX500 Sarah and I have taken a liking to. The CX series has a cool-looking and apparently reliable v-twin engine, with a natural riding position, and frame that could be converted for anything from touring to sporty cafe styles. This one is the personal bike and project of David Mucci over at

There have been a few CX500s to come across Craigslist around here in different operating states and prices.  There was a nice blue '81 with saddlebags that supposed ran well a bit out in the country, but I couldn't convince Sarah to go take a look before the listing disappeared. Maybe I'll have to shore up my confidence in the virtues of a second bike first, though.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Weather and Motorbiking

Sarah and I are sitting here watching The Voice under wind advisories and a flash flood watch. 60mph gusts and quarter-sized hail have been reported in this line of storms rolling in from the west. It was a tight squeeze, but we fit both the civic and the motorcycle into our little garage for the night. I don't want to see what hail like that could do.

There are lots of reasons people will tell you not to ride a motorcycle in the rain.  Consider lightning, getting wet, cold, impaired visibility, etc. In general, it's wise to heed such warnings.
Photo from
However, I had ordered a new full-face helmet as a late Christmas present. For the daily highway riding I've been doing, the full face is really more practical, safer, and far more comfortable in the wind. Sunday was warm with passing showers possible and I wanted to try out the new helmet. The good news is it performed great at highway speeds without the windshield and protected my face from the stinging rain. The bad news is that I had a little tumble. I was on a rough secondary road turning left into traffic on a two lane highway. It was raining, but not hard and while trying to accelerate from a stop and turn I fishtailed and dumped the bike. No injury to me save my pride, but the bike had some cosmetic and not-so-cosmetic damage. Nothing so bad that I couldn't ride it home, but Bonnie is no longer the pristine machine she once was.

No Pictures of the damage. I've ordered parts and want to try my hand at fixing her first. When I finish, I'll give you some sort of before/after comparison.

Odometer: 1366

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saint Patrick's Day & Grand Cru

Happy Saint Patrick's day!
I know Austin will be full of rowdy celebration today, but after our trip yesterday, I'm content to stay at home. Temple is pretty calm and doesn't seem to be celebrating outwardly.  Our plans for the day are vague, but should involve finally doing laundry, making Shepherd's Pie for dinner, and Bushmills.

Grand Cru
I really enjoyed this limited production Belgian-style ale from North Coast Brewery. It's got some Irish styling on the bottle, but it's brewed in California with agave and aged in bourbon barrels. Certainly an immigrant medley that could only come about in America. I found it crisp, even-tempered, and slightly sweet. I drank it at room temperature from my Chimay chalice ant it was tasty and accessible from the first pour. Definitely a winner for me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Texas License, Commute, & Hulu

This past week I surrendered my class-C Pennsylvania license for a class-CM temporary Texas license, got my bike registered to ride on post, and finally took the 30-mile ride to work on Friday.
This was my first trip over a few miles or at sustained highway speeds. Overall it easier than I'd feared. The 'oh my; big trucks' feeling on the interstate doesn't last. It was a little rough on my head at higher speeds sans windshield. I don't know if I'll keep the windshield off, but I'll definitely be looking at some riding-specific goggles next weekend.

The bike's reception at the Company was pretty good. I don't know what the guys who knew about my bike were expecting, but most seemed pleasantly surprised.

This is the closest you'll get to action shots until
Sarah learns how to drive and take pictures with
her iPhone at the same time.
Saturday I went on a short ride to Grove Cycles and Owl Creek Park. Grove Cycles is definitely a Harley/cruiser shop, but they're independently owned and friendly folks. My detour to Owl Creek Park was more of a whim after seeing the sign on my way to Grove Cycles. It's just boat launch and a couple of picnic sites on the shore of Belton Lake. Lucky for me, it was too cold for Texans to be making use of the park and I could wander about in solitude.

I found this on Hulu last week; Speed Network has done a special on Triumph Motorcycles and their (then) new Thunderbird. It's part how-it's-made documentary and part advertising exercise, but gives a good history of the company and overview of how their modern bikes are made.  The narrator's chatter doesn't always follow the video footage, though. Half the time he's going on about the new Thunderbird's engine or frame while the video shows technicians working on other models.
Odometer: 1088