Friday, July 24, 2009

The Simple Life #7

I've been away from the "Simple Life" theme for a while. For those of you who read my earlier simple life posts, you may remember my friend Zora, who was looking for an inexpensive and beautiful place to spend her retirement. Well she recently sent me a picture of her latest prospect.
It seems to lack nothing.

Meanwhile, for those of you who would like to compare, go back to my post for "The Simple Life #2" in October of 2008. There you will find my image of Zora's retirement home.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Keeping Busy

Some have told me that I spend entirely too much time writing this blog and that I should be out riding the bike, chasing women, or working on some project. In other words, Jac get a life.

I have been riding the bike, thinking about chasing women (I know that doesn't count), and accomplishing a few projects, so I thought I would post a few photos as proof.
During the winter, I got thinking about motorcycle safety. It seems that a lot of car/bike crashes come from cars pulling out in front of motorcycles from a side street. Thinking about it, the headlight is on, but not very visible from off-axis, so I came up with a couple of running lights, read always on turn signals, that would be more visible off-axis and even set them with a little toe out. These have aluminum housings which is important because the light being on all the time gives off a lot of heat. I decided to go with amber turn signals rather than white fog lights because I like the way Corvettes look with their amber daylight running lamps.
Note the nice little machined brackets to mount the lights. Also the side view of the speedometer computer that replaced my instrument cluster which was broken last fall. Its mounted on a little rubber isolated box that lifts it to the right height and gives me room for an auxilary power plug and a switch for the running lights.
The speedo is pretty nice, but you do get some glare from the chrome when the sun is in the right place. I think I may have to spray paint it flat black this winter.
I also added a bright LED auxilary brake light on the back. It's surprising how directional that thing is. If you are in the right place its really bright, but get off axis and its just a dull red. Unfortunately, it doesn't photograph well, but watch out if your right behind me.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

More Madness

I was looking at events at the Mid-Ohio Vintage Bike Days and came across Craig Vetter and his "Gathering of Streamliners". I've had some comments that the "Cabin Motorcycles" on my last post looked weird. I think these step it up a bit. Check out these pics from Craig Vetter's website.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cabin Motorcycles

I've always been intrigued by "Cabin Motorcycles", probably because I live in the north and would like to extend my riding year round. I don't think I would want to replace an open motorcycle with one of these during the summer, but on a long trip in the late fall or on a winter day when the roads are reasonably clear, this seems like a good alternative to a car.
Although, I had been thinking about the concept, I had forgotten that there is a company, Peraves, in Switzerland who makes these expensive (>$ 70k) and interesting bikes. Thanks to the Kneeslider for reminding me of their existence and getting me to their website.
But seeing these bikes got me asking the question, what is the right packaging for an enclosed motorcycle. No matter what you do, its going to be a very long wheelbase, by either car or motorcycle standards. Especially if you carry a passenger.
Peraves has essentially split a motorcycle at the steering head. Up front you have the front suspension and the rider/driver with his legs spread around the front wheelhouse in order to get in the right position relative to the handlebars. Out back, the engine and rear wheel are in a relatively normal relationship. The end result is the rider is well connected to the steering and the front wheel, but the rear wheel is very far away and its probably hard to feel what's going on back there.
I was wondering, what if you could make it a front engine, rear drive package like a traditional sports car. The front suspension would be in the normal relationship to the engine and the rider would be sitting behind the engine looking out over the hood. We would have to figure out how to make the steering work back there, but the rider would be in a position more typical of a car, that is, somewhere near the center of the wheelbase (assuming a backseat). A single seat version would put you even closer to the rear wheel and able to feel the front wheel through the handlebars and the rear wheel through your intelligence (seat of the pants).
Any thoughts?

Anyone wanting to check out the Peraves bike should check out their website, in particular, the photos of the Brno driving school. The Peraves link is below.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I haven't done a book report since I was a kid

But if your the right kind of person, this book is worth it.

Kevin Cameron is an editor at Cycle World magazine and he has recently published a book, "The Grand Prix Motorcycle, The Official Technical History". Mr. Cameron is, on the face of it, giving a brief, year by year history of who won the championship and who won each race, but he manages to tell the story in a way that surprises the reader with little technical revelations along the way. It's the same kind of Aha! moment that the racer's of that time must have felt when they discovered that next technological step.

In addition, there are these wonderful technical drawings with descriptions of each motorcycle and its technology. From single cylinder thumpers to inline four 4 strokes to square four 2 strokes, he explains the strengths and weaknesses and shows how the bikes came together.

Naturally, there are racing stories, stories of the riders and of the personalities behind the teams, but the main focus is the motorcycle. Still, I love these old racing photos. Somehow, there is more lean and more speed in the stretched out black and white photos than can ever be felt in the color video of today.

So, if you are that right person, buy the book or borrow it from me when I'm done.