• Jun 29 2012

    RideApart 11: Hell on Wheels Moto Rally


    Our friends Wes and Grant at Hell for Leather Magazine have executed a brilliant plan—they’re avid motorcyclists (Wes freely admits to liking motorcycles better than cars, even though he was the editor of Jalopnik) and have infiltrated a car show.  Drive is a YouTube channel that puts out a video every weekday from some of the best automotive journalists on the web.  Yesterday, for instance, Mike Spinelli interviewed Chris Harris about technology in cars and if it is ruining them (our opinion:  Yes!  Too much technological firepower bloats cars and makes them less rewarding—and sometimes scary—to drive).



    Episode 11 features English motorcycle racer Jamie Robinson blagging a ride in a vintage motorcycle race.  It’s obvious from the first corner that he knows what he’s doing.


    Since Hell for Leather’s series—RideApart—piggybacks on car-centric Drive, it doesn’t always cater to the most hardcore motorcyclists.  That’s because they’re hoping to attract new riders from the car-enthusiast demographic.  It’s a noble goal.  During the latest episodes, the boys at Hell for Leather really seem to have gotten their stride, and Episode 11 may be our favorite yet.


    The best part?  It’s free.  That’s in contrast to Hell for Leather Magazine itself, which famously employs a $1.99 / month charge for their content (we gladly pay).  Check out the Drive channel on Youtube.


  • Jun 28 2012

    Customize your own Victory Judge


    We returned our Judge to the folks at Rolling Fast Cycles in Lebanon, NJ a few weeks ago, but haven’t stopped thinking about it. The bike had Victory’s optional “Stage 1 Straights Exhaust System”, a kit that lets it breathe a little easier, thanks to a freer flowing air-filter, a less restrictive exhaust, and an ignition remap. We had longed for a rortier sound from the Cross Country Tour we had, and the Stage 1 was the perfect balance of quiet partial-throttle running and staccato full-throttle mayhem. It sounds great when you’re on the gas.



    We found ourselves making excuses to ride the Judge, and when were on it, we made excuses to wind it out, just to hear the glory of the 1740 cc. It’s a fast bike—about 200 lbs lighter than the Cross Country Tour at 660 lbs, and with a bit of extra power thanks to the exhaust. The GoPro microphone in the video below didn’t capture the sound as well as we’d hoped it would—even with the fenestrated GoPro case—but there are a few acceleration runs where the spirit comes through.



    Interested in your own Judge? Check out the configurator on Victory’s website—it’ll let you spec pipes, windshields, seats, bags, and more—and the bike gets customized before your eyes. They’re also up-front about prices—you get to see the monthly payment change right before your eyes.



    We put together this slick orange Judge—which starts at $14,399 (the black one is $13,999), and added $2k worth of options. With the bags, windshield, pipes and engine cover the bike comes to $16,583 or $282 per month.



    Victory Configurator


  • Jun 26 2012

    It’s amazing they run for thirty seconds, let alone 100k miles


    Modern engines are miraculous. Scores of parts work together in perfect harmony, and thin layers of oil keep any of them from touching each other. They cope with colossal stress each time a cylinder fires, and they put up with it for hundreds of thousands of miles. It used to be hard to get a quick idea of what’s going on inside an engine, and the difference between a two-stroke and a four-stroke, but now there are animations for lots of popular engines, and the enterprising searcher can always find something interesting.


    Here are two videos. The first is of a DOCH Ford Duratec car engine (it has a configuration similar to a four-cylinder superbike engine), and the second is an explanation of how a two-stroke works.




    A two-stroke is a more elegant solution, at least mechanically. The piston fires on every revolution of the crankshaft and there are far fewer moving parts, but the fuel is mixed with oil and the exhaust pollutes more than that of a four stroke. Also, some unburned fuel makes its way out of the exhaust port on each revolution. Still, two-strokes are great fun, and every motorcycle enthusiast should have a ride on one at some point during his career.


  • Jun 22 2012

    50 House members have signed onto an anti-motorcycle checkpoint bill!


    Two years ago, we took an exit off FDR Drive on the east side of Manhattan, and were waved to the side of the road by two police officers. We stopped, perplexed, and asked why we had been pulled over. They explained that it was a motorcycle-only checkpoint and demanded our license, insurance, and registration. We provided it and were waved on, but stopped at the next block when we saw two more police officers on the corner. Big mistake! They wrote us a ticket for filtering through lanes (we had ridden past a stopped car to get to them), and one for no proof of insurance (they wandered off before we could dig through our pockets again to find it). Their behavior was intrusive and discriminatory.


    That’s why we’re so pleased to see that 50 U.S. House Members have signed onto a bill that would prohibit the U.S. transportation secretary from funding for motorcycle-only checkpoints. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin authored H.R. 904, and would prohibit the grants or funds from the transportation secretary to states, counties, towns, townships, Indian tribes, municipalities, or other local government to check safety equipment or set up arbitrary motorcycle checkpoints.


    Sensenbrenner and Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) teamed up with 29 other Congressmen to send a letter to the House-Senate Transportation Reauthorization Conference Committee to request that the conference report include language specifically prohibiting the transportation secretary from funding motorcycle-only checkpoints.


    The letter included the following two paragraphs:


    “Motorcycle-only checkpoints are a controversial and unproven method of addressing motorcyclist safety and have not been an efficient use of limited federal dollars. The very existence of this program essentially profiles a group of citizens — the motorcycling community — for operating a legal mode of transportation”


    “The DOT should focus on programs to instruct motorcyclists on the importance of proper licensing, rider education, and motorcycle awareness campaigns.”


    Police have been setting up motorcycle-only checkpoints since 2007, often on the outskirts of motorcycle events like Bike Week and Rolling Thunder.


    From motorcycle-usa, picture from


  • Jun 20 2012

    Fighting back against Ralph Nader’s influence on your shifter


    Before the early 70’s, motorcycle controls varied from model to model. Indians had left foot clutches, British bikes had shifters on the right hand side gears, and until the 50’s some Harleys had suicide shifters, with a left-foot clutch and a hand-operated shift lever by the tank.



    Motorcycle controls were standardized in the early 70’s, when a law Ralph Nader pushed through congress mandated that motorcycle controls follow a standard arrangement. Nader opined that controls scattered according to manufacturers’ whims might not make for safe motorcycling.


    And so it was that motorcycles got the controls we have today. Now everything from Harleys to the Desmosedici are federally mandated to have standard controls, with a left-side foot shifter and a right-side foot brake for the rear wheel.



    Now that’s changing slowly. In the past few years, a few bikes have come with automatic transmissions, like Honda’s wacky DN-01, and Aprilia’s CVT Mana 850 (top pic), which can be shifted with a foot lever, buttons on the handlebars, or left in full-automatic mode.



    Dirtbikes are even stranger. Rekluse has been making autoclutches for a few years. Autoclutches let you ride a bike without operating the clutch—it acts as a centrifugal clutch in every gear. You can’t stall it since it’s a centrifugal clutch, and any throttle with make the clutch bite.


    It is so effective that it’s even possible to remove the clutch lever entirely and run both brake levers on the bars, mountain-bike style. Nader would flip out.


    An autoclutch probably the fastest setup going for most riders, though Metzeler ride Taddy Blazusiak still kicks it old school with a traditional clutch and lever, even during his Erzberg and Enduro X wins. He’s that good.



latest comments