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Volume 18 No. 3
Motorcycles, Travel & Adventure
Smokey Mountain Rendezvous
Meandering with Marc The Maine Attraction All our great monthly columns, Product Spotlights and Reviews
W H A T ’ S MON THLY COLUMN S
I N S I D E FEAT URES
FREE WHEELIN’.................................................................................4 WHATCHATHINKIN’..........................................................................6 ON THE MARK ..................................................................................8 POSTCARDS FROM THE HEDGE .................................................9 THOUGHTS FROM THE ROAD ...................................................10 BACKLASH........................................................................................11
SMOKEY MOUNTAIN RENDEZVOUS........................................24 NYC INTERNATIONAL MOTORCYCLE SHOW ........................40 MEANDERING WITH MARC ........................................................51 THE MAINE ATTRACTION ...........................................................53
PRODUCT REVIEW S
INDUSTRY INFOBITES ..................................................................46
CYCLE WIPES...................................................................................19 LIVE FULL THROTTLE ...................................................................23 NOLAN N104 MODULAR HELMET ..........................................33 KEYPORT SLIDE..............................................................................34 ICON REIGHN BOOTS ...................................................................35 A COUPLE FROM WHITEHORSE PRESS.................................45 PRODUCT SPOTLIGHTS................................................................48 MOTORCYCLE-FRIENDLY LODGING IN VIRGINIA..................50 2012 HONDA NC700X..................................................................55
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE .......................................................49
RKA LUGGAGE 11-LITER PINE FLAT .........................................56
MYSTERIOUS AMERICA...............................................................13 WE’RE OUTTA HERE......................................................................15 GREAT ALL AMERICAN DINER RUN.........................................17 BIG CITY GETAWAY .......................................................................20 UPCOMING EVENTS CALENDAR ..............................................38 MOTORCYCLE MARKETPLACE...................................................42
Brian Rathjen • Shira Kamil ~ Publishers Contributors: Jeff Bahr, Mark Byers, Don McDaniels, Bill Heald, Genevieve Schmitt, Tom Watson
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BACKROADS (ISSN 1087-2088) is published monthly by BACKROADS™, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved. BACKROADS™ may not be reproduced in any manner without specific written consent from the publisher. BACKROADS™ welcomes and encourages submissions (text and photos) and suggestions. Include phone number with submissions. BACKROADS™ will only return material with enclosed sufficient postage. The written articles and opinions printed in BACKROADS™ are not necessarily those of the publisher and should not be considered an endorsement. The Rip & Rides® published are ridden on the sole responsibilty of the rider. BACKROADS™ is not responsible for the conditions of the public roadways traversed. Please respect the environment, read your owner’s manual and wear proper protective gear and helmet. Ride within your limits, not over them.
MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
FREE WHEELIN’ BRIAN RATHJEN
Running Blind “Running on, running on empty Running on, running blind Running on, running into the sun But I’m running behind” Jackson Browne I like to steal rides whenever I can, usually early in the day or late afternoon if life and the day permit. Around this time of year your ride needs to be done with one eye on the clock as that 4’ish time of day finds the sun dropping quickly and along with this some of the worst sun glare you can imagine, especially if you are headed west. I found myself in this predicament a few days back. I had done the “Good Son” thing and taken my mother for a little lunch ride through northeastern Pennsylvania. The day was unusually balmy for mid-November so we were dressed lightly, with no need to bundle up or electrify. My mother hasn’t been on the back of a bike for a number of years, but she did ride pillion back in the day and she has always had a love for motorcycles – even if she is a mom. It took her all of about 10 miles to get relaxed and comfortable, even if getting on and off the tall GS was like a scene from a Keystone Cops movie. With lunch done I dropped her by the Narrowsburg Inn where you can find her many afternoons tending bar (drop by and say hi!) and after using the facilities and saying goodbye to the Cheers-like crowd that calls the Inn home
I hopped on my bike and headed towards New Jersey, running along County Road 23 that parallels Route 97 then on the riverside road itself, cutting through the almost finished Hawks Nest. By this time the sun was at that horrible angle and although it is great for photography it wreaks havoc with your vision with a sharp glare just about blinding you whenever the road heads into the setting sun’s direction. Right about then the GS’s fuel light came on, but being frugal I wanted to get as close to home and in New Jersey before I paid New York prices for fuel. Sometimes I tend to find irony in the little things that come my way each day so it did make me chuckle when the XM radio, playing softly in the background of my helmet, started with JB’s Running on Empty. I was running blind, and empty. Each minute lowered the sun and increased the glare factor to almost off the chart. I was starting to ride with my hand shielding my eyes just to see. I knew once I reached Route 206 and headed south the sun would be over my right shoulder and then all I would be racing against was the oncoming night and the billion deer that were waiting to tango with me. So much fun this time of year. My mind was brought back to when I lived right outside Manhattan and used to head up this way on stolen rides and how much the glare used to make me wonder what the heck I was doing out there. I knew the answer then and I know it now – I was out riding, empty, occasionally blind but having a blast. So steal those rides when you can this winter but be prepared for the elements, especially the sun or you’ll end up like another great rockers song – Springsteen’s Blinded by the Light. Have some ‘Thoughts from the Road’ - send them in. You’ll get your name in print and some gas money. Email to email@example.com.
MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
W H ATC H AT H I N K I N ’ SHIRA KAMIL
What to Ride Just recently, in an exchange with Mark Byers, author extraordinaire of On the Mark, he spoke of the recent International Motorcycle Show he attended in Washington, DC. This was the initial comment: I had a prospective new rider with me, a woman of around my age, and we were looking for potential bikes for her. She’s nearly my height, but there weren’t really any motorcycles sized for her (unless she wanted the ubiquitous cruiser with forward controls). I saw some guy’s poor wife trying on a big cruiser just because it was the only thing with a saddle height low enough for her. It was clearly more bike than she wanted and I’m sure the comfort was going to be crap. The other women I saw were dressed in tight skirts and handing out literature as “booth decorations.” Don’t get me wrong, I like looking at attractive ladies, but c’mon moto industry: let’s get them onto some motorcycles in the pilot position and not on the “bitch pad.” I dunno. You’ve lived the realities. Did YOU find any great motorcycles at the show that you’d feel comfortable on? That a new female rider would? Heck, the closest thing we could find for my friend in the “standard” category was the Kawi Versys and it was still on the tall side. We’re currently looking for a used standard for her to buy as a first bike, but to get something other than a cruiser, we’re probably going to have to go somewhat vintage. It was interesting to see the show in the eyes of a new female rider. And this was my initial response: From one female rider to another, and you know this as well – start with a used bike that fits both stance and budget. It’s going to be dropped, so why chance banging up a brand new bike. There are plenty of good, safe, used bikes on the market. Ride it for a year then she can decide where she wants to go and with what.
Recapping the offerings at the NY Motorcycle Show, just a few more than at DC, I was quite pleased with what I saw. Kawasaki had the aforementioned Versys with a 33.7 seat height – a bit tall for me but I AM vertically challenged. My personal choice from Kawi for a great entry-level bike for just about anyone would be the Ninja 250. It’s got enough power to get you where you want to go, a low seat height of 30.5 inches, low weight of 375 lbs. and a 4.8 gallon tank, plenty for a great weekend ride. Another great starter-bike would be the Ninja 650. At a little less than a hundred pounds more than the 250 and about an inch taller, you get bunches more power and a better platform to build on. Honda introduced their previously European-only NC700X, a great option for riders of all types. While the seat was just a hint tall for me, 32.7 inches – tippy-toeing at best – the platform is excellent. With a fully-loaded 3.7 gallon tank, it weighs in at 472. All sorts of luggage is available so you can set this puppy up for short or long distance rides. And at a starting price of $6,999 it’s almost a no-brainer. Perhaps you are more of a retro-rider. Take a look at what Triumph has on the table. Their Bonneville, which has a soft place in my heart as it was my introduction to motorcycles, comes in with a seat height of just 29.1. A nice classic look and ride, this will serve to bring you to marvelous places and get you the looks you may desire. If you really want something special, go for the limited edition Steve McQueen Bonneville T100. Being a BMW rider, I am partial to the 650GS, either F or G. Yes, they come with the BMW pricetag and quirkiness that is BMW, but they will bring you ANYWHERE you want to go. I have ridden versions of this motorcycle all around the world and, believe me, they stand up to just about anything. Seat height ranges from 30.1 to 32.9 inches and the fully loaded, ready to ride weight is 439 pounds. With the 4.2 gallon tank under the seat, this is one very balanced motorcycle. Also shown at this year’s show (Continued on Page 12)
MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
ON THE MARK MARK BYERS
Meditation Work was crap today. Filled with meetings, it left me with the feeling I’d turned the hamster wheel just a few revolutions, running much, but getting nowhere. Diligent efforts were swept aside for the sake of expediency and my give-a-shit needle bounced off the bottom peg of the gauge. I walked out of a numbered, nameless building into a day adorned with a blue sky and unseasonably warm temperatures and, instead of walking into another building, I drove home. I needed some time to myself. I needed some meditation. I needed a motorcycle. There are two types of moto meditation: moving and stationary. In the former, ills are washed away by the sounds of air flowing over a helmet, accompanied by the soul music of an internal combustion engine and the sights of an undulating road. In the latter, deft hands massage a tranquil motorcycle as negative energy becomes positive, healing mechanical motion. It’s never clear who heals whom: typically, both parties benefit. I’m usually not a riding meditator: the attention required to preserve life while piloting a motorcycle interferes with my ability to turn on my mental neutral light. I’d rather be very much in the moment in case another vehicle decides to occupy my space and time. Instead, frustration begets maintenance. When life is out of order or out of control, the road to inner peace winds through my garage. Sometimes I’ll just clean. It’s strange how I can get right with the world by using a soft rag and a can of spray wax. Turning a scratched, milky windshield into a useful transparency again brings me a real sense of satisfaction: it’s tangible, measurable progress in a world where success is sometimes measured by virtual rather than actual accomplishment. To me, giving a motorcycle a wax massage yields a sense of calm nearly the equivalent of getting one myself. Maintenance is another mutually beneficial tonic: if I can’t fix anything else, there’s usually something I can fix on my motorcycles. I have to exer-
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cise discretion in selection of stress-relieving repairs; however, as a stubborn fastener has foiled my intentions on many occasions. I am a never-say-die mechanic, so I usually confine stress-relieving work to repairs with a high chance of success. Beating on a frozen fastener like the ape in “2001” is usually not advantageous to either party. Tonight was a typical evening: I needed a sense of accomplishment, no matter how small, and a little motorcycle in need of a battery transplant was my ticket to tranquility. I opened my garage to an unusually docile January afternoon and opened my toolbox to find everything I needed right where it should be. To a gearhead, an orderly toolbox is the spiritual equivalent of a Japanese rock garden. Sidecover and battery screws yielded to a well-selected Phillips bit and the stress of the day began to yield too. The new battery slid home with a fresh coat of anticorrosive grease on the terminals. I improvised a new hold-down strap to replace the damaged original and the sidecovers went back on after the requisite cleaning. That might seem like overkill, but my attitude is “while you’ve got it off, you might as well clean it.” A key turn revealed a strong green light and a quick button smash yielded sweet, four-stroke, combustion music. The tune of the little, single cylinder was a solo compared to the symphony of an inline four or the outright magnum opus of a CBX-1000 six, but it was enough. When I was done with the battery change, the rag and polish came out. There’s always something you can clean, even on a dual-sport - some lingering piece of mud or a leaf stem stuck in the heat shield. Slowly, deliberately, I hit every piece of plastic and metal on that machine. Hell, I even put Rain-X on the mirrors and clocks. Control and accomplishment were mine again. One little corner of the world was right, and it was mine. I pushed the little single out in the late afternoon sunshine and sat on the porch with a beer and a smile, admiring my handiwork. I don’t know how long I was there, lost in my moto meditation, but I was still there, staring at my handiwork like some stalker, when my wife came home from work. “You’re home early,” she said. “Yeah,” said I, “it was a tough day, but it turned out OK.”
girls e e t th e e r s m e m Co a rb ikini B fr o m B s o f th e s ta r w est e’s ne r o h S Jersey ality show. hit re
BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
P O S TC A R D S FROM THE HEDGE BILL HEALD
a MotoFeast FoR the senses Usually this time of year I’m starting to think about the reawakening of a motorcycle after a winter hibernation, but this winter’s been so odd that the nap hasn’t taken place yet and the machinery has continued to be active. But I know that by the time you read this there will have been some down time, and it will be time to awaken the kraken(s). Hopefully the actual re-firing process will go smoothly, too, as during tundra-like conditions I put my batteries on a charger from time to time and put some fuel stabilizer in the gas to insure some relatively goo-free petrol. This is pretty much all it takes these days for temporary storage, and if you have fuel injection odds are the first punch of the starter after a period of dormancy will be a happy occasion instead of a source of uncertainty (like when the engine coughs and makes all kinds of “I’m not so sure about this” comments). In my household carbureted bikes tend to take a bit longer to rouse from their sleep, but provided you have a good stout charge on your battery you can proceed to step two of this lovely, lively ceremony. One of my favorite aspects of this ritual is the fact that it’s a treat for all the senses, provided you don’t have to deal with a real problem. For example, no matter what type of machine or how old it is, after it has been sitting for a few weeks and you start it up you can detect the odor of dust starting to cook in the exhaust system. I love that smell. It’s right up there with the aroma of racing fuel when you walk into the pits, the lure of lamb chops on the grill and the inviting olfactory welcome you get when you open the door to a good saddle shop. Like all these scents it’s an announcement to your nose of great things to come, and part of the reward of surviving another winter. Of course, there are fragrances you don’t want to encounter as well. The first is the smell of raw fuel, which (unlike the smell of racing fuel in the air at a crowded racetrack) is a harbinger of something not exactly right with your fuel supply system. On the low end of the potential disaster scale it can just be a venting issue, but at the high end of the spectrum it can mean something’s about to blow up and crater your domicile. Best shut things down and check things over. Carefully. If, as the engine warms up, you detect that nasty aroma of oil getting hot on the outside of the engine rather than inside then this, too, is a way of your motorcycle telling you it may not be feeling too good. Ditto for the wafting bouquet of coolant (if so equipped), as I once knew a chap who discovered a hole in a radiator hose after storing for the winter, courtesy of some type of mammal activity when the snows where high and shelter was scarce. If you smell said wafting bouquet of coolant and you have an air-cooled motorcycle, I would check a) your clothing, b) your cologne (if so equipped) and c) your sanity, in that order. Something is definitely up, but it’s likely not with your two-wheeler. Then comes one of my favorite bits of feedback that our stirring mechanical friend doles out in force: the whirring, chuffing, often mysterious sounds of internal combustion. We’re lucky, we motorcyclists, as we tend to sit right on top of our engines which lets us hear pretty much everything they’re up to. We few, we happy few, we band of banshees; we can tell many things about the health of our thumpers, twins, triples, fours, sixes, rotaries, etc. that we use to propel us around just from the splendid concert between our legs. However, there are sounds that are (or become) puzzling over time, and a long-slumbering, stone-cold engine can make some pretty odd noises as all those
whirring, chuffing parts come up to temperature and get back to work once again. If you’re fortunate enough to have a new (to you, at least) moto, one of the first journeys of discovery is an auditory one. I’ll never forget the first time I wakened my now “classic” VFR from a long sleep, and heard some really wild sounds emanating from the engine cases. It turned out to be those very trick gear-driven cams, and it worried me initially until I realized this was normal for this engine, especially when it’s super cold. Over the years this sound has changed subtly (no doubt a wee bit of gear play has appeared as the engine racks up the miles), but it’s still such that it is recognizable and I know now is perfectly normal. My much newer Triumph has many a curious sound as well, especially from the exhaust system. But, as before, I’ve leaned it’s all normal. Once you learn the music you know the tune. Then, when there’s something amiss in the band you can usually spot it quickly, which can head off potential nastiness (hopefully) before it gets out of hand. What a wonder is a bike, eh? Endless entertainment, even when it’s just warming up. I think the take-home lesson hear is learn to notice everything, and while these first smells, noises etc. of your bike as it emerges from suspended animation can be vexing, they should either be recognizable or disappear over time. If they don’t, maybe you should investigate further. But at least initially, don’t be freaked out. Shoot, the machine may even just be reflecting the characteristics of the owner. When I get up from a long sleep, there are all kinds of scary noises that are generated from all kinds of moving parts on my person. They go away in time. Usually. Must be the gear-driven gams. Ouch! Sorry about that.
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MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
TH OUGHTS FROM THE ROAD
a Recap oF My Riding liFe Having survived more than 8 decades here on planet earth, many of my life experiences hover between ridicules and the sublime but among my fondest memories are the times spent in the pursuit of whatever it is that advocates of the motorized 2 wheel persuasion pursue. My first exposure to a lifetime of wind-burnt features, bugs in my teeth and the twitching of my throttle hand came when I accepted the position of a working cowboy on a ranch in Central California. The hours were long and the pay was short and after several payless paydays I made the decision to seek my fortunes elsewhere. The ranch owned a war surplus Harley Davidson, resplendent in the Olive Drab paint favored by the military in those post war days, with large white stars painted on the attached side car. Used in feeding the cows, hauling fencing supplies and sundry other inglorious ranch chores the little HD proved to be both my means of escape and payment for services rendered. Late one moonless night I gathered my meager belongings consisting of a bedroll, warbag and my Sears and Roebuck rough side out saddle, deposited them in the side hack, pushed the Harley down the lane for a mile or so then proceeded to jump up and down on the kick starter until the beast sprang to life, and off I went resplendent in my boots and spurs, my cowboy hat and my red angora chaps to ward off the chilly evening.
My trip to the Southern California climes from which I had so foolishly ventured was a comedy of errors, but after several near fatal incidents including the loss of my beloved sombrero somewhere in the vicinity of Bakersfield, when it sailed from my head only to be trampled to death by an 18 wheeler traveling in close proximity of my rear fender, I arrived hungry, hatless and chapless (I sold them for gas money) at a relative’s house firmly infused with the love of the wind in my face and the throbbing of a V-Twin beneath my nether regions. After several weeks among the unemployed I heard of work up in Yosemite Valley as a government mule packer and hastened forthwith with my cousin Bob, our belongings and our saddles, loaded firmly in and around the dimunitive Harley. The trip was uneventful other than blowing a head gasket which we replaced with an oil soaked old leather boot top. The summer spent in the high Sierras accompanied by our long eared companions was a fruitful one, and we departed Yosemite with a summer’s wages burning in our pockets. My first expenditure upon arriving in Southern California was to trade my purloined Harley in for a well used, stock, 1945 Harley Flathead at the Ed Kretz dealership in Monterey Park, California. According to the latest fashions my remaining funds were spent on a bobbed rear fender, Flanders handlebars and risers, a suicide clutch and removal of the front fender among other improvements. My cowboy clothes forgotten, I was clad in a wool plaid shirt, leather biker jacket, Levis with a cuff rolled up, engineer boots with the buckle on the
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outside and a WWII leather aviator’s helmet and goggles. My Black and Red hog somehow survived until I rode it cross country to Faribault, Minnesota, arriving there on Christmas Day, then selling it to the first unsuspecting native that approached me rather than make an attempt at a frigid return trip. 1949 found me in dire financial straits (again) so I enlisted in the Navy and after boot camp and some swimming lessons in San Diego I was transferred to the Sea Bee base in Oxnard, Ca to complete combat diver school. Rather than the accepted mode of transport I purchased a Vincent Black Shadow for little or nothing from a sailor who was shipping out and proceeded to my new duty station albeit with quite an accumulation of speeding citations from the local fuzz. Motorcycles were not allowed on base, so were parked outside the gate where my Vincent stood out like a poodle in a pig pen. After a few days on base I was notified that rather than school, I was to be shipped out the next day to the South Pacific, and bidding a fond farewell to my Vincent I sailed off into the sunset never to see her again. After a few training weeks in Hawaii I found myself on the island of Guam, where I acquired a WWII leftover, an Indian Junior Scout, 30.5 cid with a 3 speed shifter on the right. Being attached to a Sea Bee group, me and several other bike aficionados wasted no time (Continued on Page 12)
BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
Letters to the Editor
Shira and the Flute
From the NY IMS and Facebook
Dear Shira, I just read your column in the newest issue and have to tell you something. As a French-born citizen I did not know the song “Mary had a little lamb” until a few years ago. This was never translated into French, go figure… I discovered it promptly after Harry got into his head to learn to play the accordion… do you remember the accordion era? For months, Harry did not go anywhere without one of his many squeeze-boxes. The unfortunate part of that is… he could only play one tune. Yes, you guessed it. For months and months, around the country he went, with his wondrous instrument in tow, baffling every TSA worker at every airport, and playing the same tune. And I will tell you this: I’m not sure how painful it is to listen to someone learn to play the flute, but it is really hard on the nerve to listen to someone learning the accordion. It could only have been worse if he had decided to follow his natural ancestry and had chosen the bagpipes… Big hugs, Catherine Epain
Hey Backroads, It was great seeing you folks at the show on Saturday. Shira, was wonderful to meet you finally. I was looking at name tags for Brian but I missed seeing him. My girlfriend later said he had come up behind you while we were talking and I never saw his tag to say hi. I’m embarrassed and sort a mortified to think I missed him and he was right there. Brian I apologize profusely for that slip. It was not a total loss though ‘cause I renewed my subscription to the best damn motorcycle magazine there is and signed up a family member for a year also. Keep up the great work and maybe we will see you BOTH at a diner run this spring/summer. Joe Blazky
Shira, It makes no difference what the topic is, from flutes to fluegelhorns, you and your writing are a “thing of beauty.” Sorry Brian. Should I sign up now to purchase your first gold CD ? You go gal. Philip Eramo Columbus, Ohio And one more from Philip… Brian/Shira, You guys never cease to amaze me. First Shira’s musical talents and then the wonderful road trip by John Petrocelli. We have already contacted the Old Schoolhouse Inn in Benham, KY. Will take a run down there for sure come Spring. That’s the kind of reading we enjoy in Backroads.
Hey Shira Thanks for a great magazine! Nice to see you, Brian, Mr. Happy and Pepe in person today! All the best. Lisa Veliath-Houston Mr. Happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Shawn Nordlund Nice to see you at show today. Think Spring! Ron Paret Shira, From what I understand your R1150R up and quit on you. The shocks that were on should fit my R1150RT after a spring upgrade for the front and the rear to carry the extra weight of the RT as well as my frame. Being height disadvantaged, the fact that they are set up to lower the bike caught my eye. I haven’t purchased the set yet, I’m in need of a bit more information before
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MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
Page 12 I make a commitment to buy. I have already contacted Klaus Huenecke at EPM to check on fitment and cost of rebuilding and upgrading the shocks as well as the guys at Beemer Boneyard. Ok, enough of my rambling. I would like any information you could tell me about the shocks. Did you like them? How did they perform? Which model are they and anything else you could think of adding about them. I just might sign up for your magazine. I checked out a few of the articles online and liked what I saw. Thanks for your time and trouble. Ron Prater
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were the new BMW C600 Sport and C650 GT scooters, which were just concepts last year. These will be available later in 2012, and I, for one, am very much looking forward to test-riding all of them.
Ron, The R1150R was lowered with Wilbur Shocks from Klaus and Shira thought the ride was superb. They performed perfectly until the BMW gave up the ghost. The BMW1200GS has Hyper-Pro shocks for three years – also from Klaus – and the performance and handling are excellent. Yes, shocks are expensive, but a great ride is priceless.
Loving the Cha Cha Hut Hi Brian, Went to Cha Cha Hut today and had some of the greatest bar-b-que. Saw your story on the wall. I do some freelance writing for Thunder Press. Going to contact my editor and see if I could do a story on them also. I have a small (seasonal) cabin not too far from them in Margaretville and love the people and the area. Dom Mazza Dom, We love these folks - looking forward to seeing their new restaurant. Get that piece done – more press for the Cha Cha is always a good thing!
Got something to say? We’d love to hear it. Letters may be edited, never censored, to fit. Mail: BACKROADS, POB 317, Branchville, NJ 07826 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org thoughts FRoM the Road
(Continued from Page 10)
in building a ½ mile T.T track out in the boondocks and with a few modifications I raced the Indian until we found a Velocette KTT in an abandoned warehouse (the greatest bike I ever rode). With that machine I became the king of TT on the island, that is until a sailor riding a stock, yellow, Indian Scout wearing his dress white uniform lapped me 10 time in a 10 lap race. A recent arrival on the island “Feets’ Minert had been a factory racer for BSA, won the Isle of Man and the Catalina race among others. After a few years in and around the South Pacific, practicing demolition on various reefs, sunken ships etc. I found myself in Korea doing the same type of work and in my spare time I ‘acquired’ a 2 stroke machine of unknown origins and rode it until my departure from the land of milk and honey (carts). Back in the US of A in the mid ‘50s, I acquired another Harley which I rode until romance reared its ugly head and my future bride had no intention of being associated with a ‘Biker’ (As things turned out I shoulda kept the Hog) Life moved on and I was bikeless for several years, until I discovered and became addicted to dirt bikes. My first attempt at this noble art was on a Kawasaki 250 enduro, which I destroyed on my first outing, abandoning it, bent and broken in the high desert near California City, California. In rapid succession there were a YamahaTT 500, Suzuki 250, Honda 250, Husquavarna 450, Honda 500, etc. I raced Baja, ran Enduros (without much success) gleefully playing in the dirt at the slightest provocation, finally winning my class in 1990. Around the turn of this century, at an age well beyond the age of consent I happened upon an advertisement touting a “Tour For Africa” - WTH why not? I flew from San Diego to New York, met the other riders, among them
Of course there are all the cruisers offered from almost all the marques, with their low seat heights, but, as Honey Badger might say, I just don’t give a… Yes, they are well manufactured, ride excellently, bring you where you want to go and, if you are of that mind, comfortably. Over the past few years the manufacturers have taken into account the number of new female riders and developed motorcycles they may be more inclined to start their riding careers on. I don’t like to pigeonhole motorcycles to gender, as the only real difference may be the person’s inseam or strength. As riders get older, gravity and strength are more of a factor and I do believe the developers of motorcycles need to take this into account. As most of us who ride know, the median age is not getting any lower. Perhaps that is why the Can-Am Spyder is doing so well. What to ride will always be a question looming large for new or returning riders. Thankfully, there is a great selection new and old and, hopefully, there always will be. a young couple who publish the most popular motorcycle touring magazine in the country and we winged our way to Johannesburg, spending several days together, them in their spiffy touring outfits and me in an old Malcolm Smith enduro jacket and motocross boots. This was my introduction to the more gentile art of astrideness. Upon arriving back stateside, I promptly purchased a BMW F 650 thumper, from which I directed several tours along the route of the Baja 1000 and also rode down into Mexico’s Copper Canyon. After totaling wreck in Baja and a short hospital stay I acquired a Honda Shadow which I traded in on a Kawasaki KLR, then traded again for another Beemer which I sold when I moved to Arizona. I also flew to Glasgow, Scotland, bussed to Inverness and spent 10 glorious days riding Northern Scotland on a rented BMW GS1000. Another few, frustrating bikeless years due to the Arizona heat index and my fortunes brought me here to Northwest Pennsylvania and the mother of all riding. In less than a year my throttle hand began to twitch, my shifting foot moved up and down on its own and, after close examination, my bike riding doctor diagnosed me with severe withdrawal symptoms and, when coupled with my addiction, the prognoses was frightening. Acting on his advise I acquired a nice little 1988 600cc low mileage Honda Shadow and my symptoms have all disappeared. So, now approaching my 84th anniversary on earth I am once more astride, despite the moans and groans of family and friends, happily putting my way along the highways and byways of the Northeast. So if you spot an elderly man person astride a maroon, pin striped Saki-Sucker with a satisfied smile on his face, please wave, I’ll do my best to return the greeting.
BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
Morton’s BMW Motorcycles Presents Dr. Seymour O’Life’s M YST ER IOU S AM ER IC A the cuRse oF Ötzi - the ice Man oF the alps Ötzi the Iceman was found near Hauslabjoch in the Ötzal Alps on September 19, 1991, by Helmut and Erika Simon, two vacationing German hikers. Helmut was walking a bit ahead of his wife, when he spotted something. He thought it was some trash left by a careless hiker. But when he and his wife looked closer, they realized that they were looking at the body of a person, lying face down in some melting ice. Disturbed by their discovery, they assumed that they had found the mummified remains of an unfortunate mountain climber. Since it can
be difficult to recover the body of a fallen climber, especially if a fresh snowfall covers the area, many people who have died in the mountains are often left there. Their body freezes and does not deteriorate; many such mummies have been recovered. Helmut Simon wanted to take a photo, but his wife was appalled at the thought of taking a photo of a dead person. Still, Helmut managed to take one photo of the body (he had only two left photos on his roll of film). Then he got closer in order to inspect the body, which was in kind of gully. He saw an object or two around the body, but they meant nothing to him. The Simons weren’t sure that they would report the body. They wondered if their vacation would be interrupted by completing police reports and other official requirements when a body is discovered. But after hike down the mountain for an hour, they stopped at a rustic lodge for something to drink. Only then did they decide to report their find to Markus Pirpamer, the caretaker of the lodge. In turn, he called the proper authorities who said they would recover the body the following day. The Simons, believing that they had discovered only a modern corpse, could not wait and continued down the mountain, heading for their hotel. Before they left, they provided Pirpamer with directions to the corspe. When the authorities arrived, they were well aware that the glacier had
MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
Page 14 been melting. Three weeks earlier, the bodies of a man and woman who had gone hiking in 1934 and never returned had been discovered. For this reason, they, like the Simons, assumed that the person had died in a climbing accident. This could not be further from the truth. The mummy was removed by helicopter and brought to Innsbruck. Days later it was announced that Ötzi, as he was colorfully named by the press, was nearly 3,500 years old. This was a huge scientific discovery. After a long legal battle where nation’s boundary lines were redrawn, Italy took possession of the mummy and today in Bolzano you will find a most impressive museum dedicated to Ötzi. On last year’s Backroads Alps Adventure, many in our group took the time during the off-day in the city to visit our old friend and everyone was more than impressed. But, as fantastic as this story is, there could be more as Doctor O’Life has found. Is there a Curse of Ötzi? So far, seven people associated with the Iceman or his discoverers have died. When these deaths are added up and viewed together, some people
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have concluded that a Curse of Ötzi truly exists. Here are the deaths, in order of occurrence: First death: Rainer Henn, 64, a forensic pathologist from the University of Innsbruck who placed the Iceman in a body bag with his bare hands. Second death: Kurt Fritz, 52, a mountain guide who supposedly led Dr. Henn to the Iceman’s body and who was said to have uncovered the Iceman’s face when it was recovered from the ice. Third death: Rainer Hölz, 47, a filmmaker who made a documentary about the recovery of Ötzi from the ice for the ORF network. He died of a brain tumor. Fourth death: Helmut Simon, 69, who, along with his wife, discovered the Iceman’s body. His body was discovered October 23, 2004, after he went missing while on a mountain hike. Eight days after he had failed to return from a mountain hike, searchers discovered Simon’s body in a stream. Fifth death: Dieter Warnecke, 45, who headed the rescue team looking for Simon’s frozen body. He died of a heart attack just hours after Helmut Simon’s funeral. Sixth death: Konrad Spindler, 66, who led the scientific team that recovered and examined the Iceman in Innsbruck, Austria, in 1991. Seventh death: Tom Loy, 63, a molecular archaeologist who discovered human blood on Ötzi’s weapons and clothing. Is this really a curse or just coincidence; probably the later. But, like King Tut, no one can prove or disprove such a thing. It is all part of Mysterious Amer…I mean Alps!
BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
Bergen County Harley-Davidson Presents
W E’RE OUT TA HERE
a weekend destination keeping you on the backroads
the MiMslyn inn 401 West Main stReet, luRay, ViRginia 22835 WWW.MiMslyninn.coM • 540-743-5105 It might be that time again. Work and that thing called life might be getting you down and you know only a good road trip will lift your spirits up once again. So fuel up the bike, pack your saddlebags and follow us to the heart of Virginia… ‘cause we’re outta here! Deep in the valley of the Shenandoah lies a historic jewel. Sitting comfortably on a hill with a commanding view of the surrounding mountains the Mimslyn Inn’s sixteen strong white Doric columns and stately manner stand this place of rest far above the rest. Built back in 1931 by the Mims, during the height of the depression, the hotel was created for still thriving Washington elite who could travel down to the town of Luray by train. An escape of sorts from the trials and tribulations of the nation’s capital. It is said that when Franklin Roosevelt came down to dedicate the region as a National Park he wanted to camp in mountains to which his wife Eleanor exclaimed, “Franklin you can rough it if you want – I’ll be at the Mimslyn.” The First Family staying here brought instant fame to the place and today the Mimslyn is still as grand as she ever was. The place is now owned and operated by the same people who run the Bavarian Inn in West Virginia. Backroads used the Bavarian as a starting point for one of our Spring Break Rallies a few years back.
We kind of stumbled onto this great American hotel by accident. Riding down the Stone Wall Jackson Highway we ran into a tempest of unyielding strength. It was obvious that this storm was only going to get heavier and to the right we flashed by a sign that spoke of the Mimslyn Inn. It sounded like a plan, but riding up the driveway’s hill to the place we wondered if they would be welcoming to two very wet riders. They were more than welcoming. The Mimslyn’s 45 rooms are all comfortably appointed and the hot
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Page 16 showers were just what we needed this day. The lobby itself is quite the sight as the grand winding staircase, piano and small bar dominate the room. This place harkens back to a forgotten era in American hotels – but, it is here for you today. The Mimslyn Inn has two restaurants – the Circa 31, with its Prohibition-style menu and formal setting, and the Speakeasy Tavern downstairs which, at one time, was just that during the nation’s dark times of the 18th amendment. That night we took in the Speakeasy. It was a Tuesday and they had a Jazz quintet playing and they were very, very good, as was the fresh local trout and the local beef. The manicured grounds, as you might think, are beautifully kept and you’ll find an inviting pool and hot tub as well as a gazebo and gardens. If you want there is a workout room and a Day Spa where a long massage might be in order after a great ride to the Shenandoah Valley. Located amongst some of the sweetest roads in the region you’ll find the Skyline Drive atop the peaks to the east and the famed Luray Caverns just a two-minute ride away. With all this found at the Mimslyn Inn, how could we not invite you to join us there for our 2012 Spring Break? And that’s just what we did. For all those who booked early, we’ll see you there May 17-20. For those who have put off the reservationmaking, you can find lodging just down the road at the Best Western. We’ll see you there. For updates on the schedule for the Spring Break, including routes and possible group dinner, please call Backroads at 973-948-4176 or check our website: www.backroadsusa.com/events
MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
G REAT ALL AMERICAN DINER RUN hunteR’s lodge 64 Rte. 46 , delaWaRe, nJ 908-475-0060 • WWW.hunteRslodge.net When some riders from say, Bergen county or even New York City, think of US 46 in New Jersey apparitions of an immensely crowded thoroughfare full of new and used car dealers, shopping malls and crappy pavement come to mind. But, we’re here to tell some of you that, in places, old 46 ain’t that bad. In fact as one rides along the western edges of the Garden State this muchmaligned route takes on an entirely different character. A personality that harkens back to long before the Baby Boomers made their charge across suburbia; a time when roadside eateries and small lodges were the norm in America. This bit of Americana still lives as US 46 heads towards the Delaware River and Pennsylvania and you can find it in places like the Hunter’s Lodge. Located in Delaware, New Jersey, on a long meadow above the river, the Hunter’s Lodge has been in the area for decades but was starting to show its age. As luck would have it the old place was taken over by Paul Rodrigues a few years back and Paul took his time bringing the Hunter’s Lodge back to life but with distinct flavor of yesteryear. On a gift of a Saturday back in January we took a spin south from Backroads Central while
tasty places to take your bike
at the same time The Philly Crew, a group that have become good friends from our various rallies, rode up from the south. If we wanted to see how good the Hunter’s Lodge was food-wise there are no tougher epicurean critics than Brad and the boys. We got to the Hunter’s Lodge first and spent some time walking around the place admiring the ‘50s-style neon sign that the lodge shares with the hotel behind the place. The hotel is still running but has nothing to do with the Hunter’s Lodge these days. The Hunter’s Lodge has a decent sized and friendly looking bar - if you are using the hotel and parked for the night and we bet one could have a good time there on Fridays and Saturdays as many local musicians play on weekends. But, we came to this lovely part of New Jersey to eat so when the group arrived we grabbed seats and a long table and took in the lunch menu. You can start with calamari or steamers. The wings looked excellent and
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MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
Page 18 everyone enjoyed the Black & Tan onion rings made with a Yuengling beer batter. The Hunter’s Lodge even has “frickles” deep fried dill pickles served with savory honey mustard sauce. You haven’t lived till you had a frickle! Being this is the Hunter’s Lodge your basic burger choices are anything but basic. You can have burgers created from various meats – bison, elk, lamb or if you want good ol’ beef it will be of the Black Angus variety. There is also a Veggie Burger for that sorry lot that wishes for such things. The “Fixins” include tomato, lettuce and onion along with American, Swiss or cheddar
cheeses, smoked applewood bacon or sautéed mushrooms and onions; basically everything you would need to make a truly different burger that much more spectacular. You can also dress up your food with garlic or roasted red pepper aioli. If wraps and paninis are your thing they have four delectable choices – grilled cheddar and ham, grilled chicken panini, a feisty Mediterranean wrap with grilled chicken, black olives, feta cheese, red onions and a tangy lemon herb vinaigrette and superb wrap called the Sloppy Hunter that has thin slices of ham and turkey with Swiss, their awesome “purple” coleslaw and Russian dressing.
Rip & Ride® • HUNTER’S LODGE 64 RTE. 46 , DELAWARE, NJ • 908-475-0060 • WWW.HUNTERSLODGE.NET OUT OF THE RED APPLE REST MAKE LEFT ONTO RTE. 17 BEAR RIGHT AT RTE. 17A LEFT AT RTE. 94 RIGHT ONTO RTE. 1A INTO RTE. 1 LEFT AT RTE. 284 RIGHT AT T (UNIONVILLE POST OFFICE) BEAR LEFT ONTO OC 36 INTO NEW JERSEY AND SC 651 WATCH 15MPH TURNS! RIGHT AT GORGE ROAD RIGHT AT RTE. 23 NORTH LEFT AT SC 519 (SPACE FARMS SIGN) RIGHT AT DECKERTOWN ROAD CR 650 CROSS RTE. 206 LEFT AT OLD MINE ROAD
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BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
Page 19 The house specials continue the eating fun with the ribeye cheese steak – something even the Philly boys loved, even if the Hunter’s Lodge makes theirs with a Cajun sauce – it was very good. We got thumbs up on the pulled pork sandwich as well. The place has a few salads to choose from as well – the Southwest shrimp salad has a great combination of that part of the nation combined with tasty shrimp. We tried the Hunter’s chili and found it to be the thickest we have ever had with a great smoky flavor that couldn’t be beat.
After our large group was all done Paul sent around some bread pudding with our coffees – simply excellent and the perfect way to end a great meal along an old stretch of US 46. As usual we will get you down to the Hunter’s Lodge in a most interesting way and we will start it at another great piece of Americana that sadly has been gone for years – the Red Apple Rest in Southfields, New York. Enjoy the ride and enjoy the food.
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MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
BIG CIT Y G ETAWAY
daytrip ideas to get out of the daily grind
aMeRica on Wheels When tWo Wheels aRe siMply not enough Jeff Bahr Many years ago when our beloved Backroads was still a hatchling, columnist Bill Heald (Postcards from the Hedge) headed up another department called Gilded Cages. In each issue, Heald took temporary leave of our twowheeled existence to examine automobiles of every type and stripe. The underlying message in Heald’s column was unmistakable: In addition to bikes, motorcyclists fancy pretty much anything with wheels. “If it rolls what’s not to like?” goes this intoxicating train of thought. Not a bad sentiment if you ask me. Underscoring this love affair with locomotion, the America on Wheels Museum (AOW) in Allentown, Pennsylvania tells much of America’s transportation story, and yes, just in case you’re wondering, it contains its share of motorcycles too. Spread over a vast 48,000 sq, ft., the spiffy $17 million effort screams first-class from the get-go. But it wasn’t always so. It’s hard to believe when looking at it now but the site was once occupied by a grimy meat packing plant; a crumbling and rank reminder of a manufacturing era long past. The museum’s November 8, 2008 grand opening capped off a twenty-year struggle aimed at area revitalization. Nazareth resident and Indy racing legend Mario Andretti, on hand that night for a brief autograph signing, was so taken with the museum he stuck around for the entire evening. When asked his opinion of the
new enterprise, Andretti gushed, “It’s got so much information, so, so very well done; I’m totally impressed, I’m blown away!” This was high praise from a high source but one that was truly deserved. Since that time the museum has only gotten better. This is one big operation with a lot to see. The first floor contains three separate sections. The lobby, a large open area flanked by a gift shop to its left and AOW’s newest attraction the 1950’s style Hubcap Café to its right – features sports cars, hot rods, bicycles, and yes our beloved motorcycles. Linda Merkel, the museum’s Executive Director, met me in this room and gave me a quick rundown of the items not to be missed.
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BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
Soon I was swimming in a chrome and carbon-fiber sea of alluring hardware. A yellow 1962 Jag’ XKE hummed its sweet lullaby and reminded me that I never did become successful enough to actually own one, while a 125cc Bonneville Streamliner motorcycle showed me precisely what can be accomplished with a mere cupful of displacement. This particular speedster was unleashed on the salt flats on September 2, 2009. After two runs it returned an official world record speed of 133.165 mph, shattering the previous mark by almost 10 mph. Whoosh! Another treasure brought a huge smirk to my face. It was Pee Wee Herman’s tricked-out bicycle from the hit flick Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Appropriately, it hung large from the ceiling. Next it was on to the South Gallery where a boatload (truckload?) of trucks holds court. To say that Mack Trucks has left its imprint here would be like saying that the brawny Mack bulldog sometimes marks his territory. Since Mack’s world headquarters is located in the Allentown area, this was hardly surprising. Then I entered a racing section that featured a full-blown NASCAR stocker hulking over a small, but immensely powerful Indy car. If given the choice,
I’ll take the open-wheeler; that baby is sexy just standing still! Motorcycles are interspersed throughout the museum but nothing grabbed me as much as a group of Cushman and Salsbury scooters located on the museum’s secondfloor. If you’ve never seen these lovable-looking rides from the not-too-distant-past, just conjure up an image of Shirley Temple, add a pinch of Doris Day for seasoning, then stir and combine with two-wheels. They’re that cute! Museum volunteer Dennis Aronyos saw me staring quizzically at a Chevy Corvette and walked over to help me fill in the blanks. Dennis is a committed “car guy” who has done some splendid restorations to GM vehicles. Similar to a walking encyclopedia, the former schoolteacher provided wonderful details and back-stories to many of the vehicles on display. The Corvette was part of the “100 Years of Chevrolet” exhibit – just one of many rotating displays found in this cavernous second-floor room. Interestingly, project developers chose to keep the meat packing plant’s original office wing – a worthy choice considering the beauty of its period architecture. The old building looks a tad out of place from the exterior,
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MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
mostly because it butts-up against AOW’s hulking ultra-modern display building, but the setup works nonetheless. Fittingly, the museum uses this space to house their offices. When Dennis led me inside it was like walking through a time warp. Elegant chandeliers hung from its vaulted ceiling and a dramatic opposed staircase flanked either side of the room, showing that, for some at least, toil was once done with style and panache. At this point my feet were tired and my belly was growling. Dennis suggested a stop at the museum’s newest attraction – the 1950’s themed Hubcap Café where the ravenous can grab a burger or dog, shake or sundae. While
noshing there, you’ll be forgiven if you expect a leather-jacketed figure to jump out at you and scream “AAAYYY!” From the jukebox to the menu board, the red and chrome spinstools to the checkered-flag floor-tiles, the place oozes malt-shop atmosphere.
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Dennis spoke proudly about the museum’s latest developments and those planned for the future. It seems the sky’s the limit so far as this operation is concerned. And who’s to doubt such ambitious plans? These committed folks have already transformed a smelly old meat plant into a genuine sight to behold. Bravo.
america on Wheels 5 north Front street , allentown, pa 18102 610-432-4200 • www.americaonwheels.org closed Mondays. tuesday - saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. sunday noon - 5 p.m. hours and days of operation subject to change call ahead to confirm.
BACKROADS • MARCH 2012 BOOK REVIEW
LIVE FULL THROTTLE • LIFE LESSONS FROM FRIENDS WHO FACED CANCER BY TAMELA RICH Reviewed by Genevieve Schmitt, Editor, WomenRidersNow.com Cancer sucks. Let’s face it, there’s nothing appealing about living with the disease or being told you have it. Many books have been written about how to live with cancer, some from the medical community and some from survivors. Now, for the first time, comes a book about cancer from a motorcyclist’s point of view. Live Full Throttle: Life Lessons from Friends Who Faced Cancer is an enlightening and powerful book written by Tamela Rich, a motorcyclist and professional writer, who gathered material for the book on a cross-country motorcycling road trip she embarked on in the summer of 2011. Along the way, she met and interviewed women riders who have faced cancer in their own lives. Through a series of essays, along with photographs shot by photographer Christina Shook, the reader is taken on a journey of introspection and reflection. Some of the stories will make you tear up, all will make you smile, and each one has a powerful message we all can learn from whether or not we’ve faced cancer in our own lives. The 112-page, full-color, softcover book is broken up into eight lessons with titles like “The Healing Power of Joy” and “When to Fight, When to Flow.” Each is followed by several exercises intended to spark introspection in the reader. The book is well written and well organized, using professional photos to advance the messages or build upon them. Photographer Christina Shook is a rider herself and published a women and motorcycling photography book called “Chicks On Bikes” in 2009. Many of the photos in “Live Full Throttle” were taken during the 2011 Conga IV Rally in Shell, Wyo., a gathering of women who rode in from all over the country and raised money
for breast cancer research along the way. Many of the photos feature the women against the incredible scenery of the Rocky Mountains. Tamela told me about her book project back in June, when she was just getting started on her journey, and I helped her get the word out. It’s heartwarming to see her idea come to fruition in such a beautiful book packed with empowering messages. Anyone dealing with cancer in her or his life can benefit from this book. You don’t have to be a motorcyclist to get something from this, however, it’s nice to see that riding a motorcycle showed up on the bucket lists of some of these women upon hearing they had the disease. The message to “live full throttle” despite obstacles or setbacks, however devastating, applies to any problem people might face in their lives. “Live Full Throttle” makes an ideal gift for someone dealing with cancer, and it would make an inspiring and worthy addition to your own motorcycling book collection. It’s available for $25 from Tamela’s Web site at TamelaRich.com. You can also order from Amazon from that link as well. To read about Tamela’s most recent road trip, visit her blog at : RoadTrip.TamelaRich.com.
MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
SMOKEY MOUNTAIN RENDEZVOUS
words and images: Brian Rathjen
y eyes opened just moments before the motel room began to shake. I thought of Joe Pesci and smiled as I rolled over and tried to shut out the rumble that continued for a good three minutes. Earlier that evening, while checking into the Best Western near Staunton, Virginia the gentleman ahead of us was told that a train might be coming by that night, along the tracks that butted up against the back of the motel.
“What time, how big of a train?” he asked. I couldn’t help myself as I piped up and asked if he had ever seen My Cousin Vinnie.
We had left northern New Jersey late that morning, riding down on two BMWs – Shira on her trusty F650GS and me on the new K1600GT. The K1600 comes in two versions - a full on tourer, the GTL, and the more sport-touring spirited GT. I had ridden both machines earlier this season and, where the GTL is aimed more towards the Gold Wing crowd, the GT is a sportier bike and a bit more to my liking. We spent this first day on the Big Roads eating up miles south. We were heading to North Carolina where we would meet with some friends and a rendezvous of people who had ridden with our buddy Phil Freeman of MotoQuest Motorcycle Tours. These folks do tours in Alaska and around the world and I had ridden with Phil in Alaska a few times and to Ushuaia, in Tierra del Fuego, a couple years back. The 160-horsepower, 6-clylinder machine was a gem on the interstates, comfortable and with seemingly unlimited power. By that evening the Mason-Dixon line was far behind us as we rode through the Autumn-hued Shenandoah Valley. Fried chicken at Mrs. Rowes was just excellent that evening and the day’s ride had set us up for some serious backroads exploration come the next day. The next morning, after chatting it up with a number of riding couples that had found their way to the hotel the previous night, we packed up the BMWs and got back on Shira’s route.
BACKROADS • MARCH 2012 VIRGINIA IS FOR RIDERS Shira has a great love of this part of Virginia and she always seems to pull out some stupendous roadways whenever we ride this region. This day she did not let us down. Our final destination on this weeklong ride would be the Ironhorse Lodge in Stecoah, North Carolina, a few hundred miles to the southeast, but we headed west along Route 254 where we would eventually find Route 42, and the Mount Jefferson National Forest, a companion for a good part of the day. Here we gained more altitude and eventually crossed the Great Eastern Divide. On one side, rain made its way to the Atlantic, on the far side to the Mississippi River. Tiny towns and tinier post offices shot by, along roads that seemed designed just for riders. Along the way Shira had us vectoring off here and there wherever something twisty and different peeked her interest; one being a tiny county road designated 738. The GPS showed what was coming up, as did the signs warning anything long and wide to seek another route. The K1600GT is a real beast, but one that can be tempered; so I switched into “Rain” mode (wasn’t going to go to Dynamic here) which worked extremely well on this tiny, wet, leaf-strewn mountain road that went up and over the ridge. Shira looked at the GPS at the summit and exclaimed it reminded her of a Virginian Paso Del Stelvio. I thought it more like the Gavia Pass. If it were truly like either then I wondered where the restaurants and cafés were. It was way past lunch and we settled for the great view and a couple of bags of trail mix and Camelbak water. Life is good. Continuing on a more southerly road we neared Wytheville where we found lunch in an absolutely fantastic place called The Log House, Dec. 2011’s Great All American Diner Run.
Page 25 Back on Shira’s route, which got better by the miles, we once again crested another summit along roads that ventured high and tight; perhaps Virginia just forgot about the guardrails. Heading east towards the Big Road we took in the snake-like Route 16 through Hungry Mother State Park. Shira had found this road years ago and it is rare that we ride this region and not visit her old friend. Riding down into Marion we realized the day was about done; a bad part of touring in late October, those early-ending days. We found a roadside motel, parked the bikes, showered and went looking for a light dinner. What a difference a morning can make. Last evening was a great midfall end to a fantastic day, but the same cloudless sky allowed for some serious cooling this night and we awoke to frost on the pumpkins, or in this case the motorcycles. We rolled the iced bikes into the morning sunshine and got some coffee, giving everything a chance to warm up. A quick towel wipe and we Gerbinged up and turned on the power. The thermometer was just at 32 degrees and we had to head up. It was a breeze to turn on the heated grips and saddle on the GT via the very easy-to-use Multi-Controller on the left grip. Everything you do comes up on the dash, including BMW Nav IV GPS, basically a souped-up Garmin 660. Thankfully, as we rode into the mountains, the sun was rising too and black ice never came into play. Our route this day was even more technical then the previous day’s event as we hit passes, tight backroads and lost farm paths; your typical Kamil jaunt. In no time we slipped from Virginia into North Carolina.
Page 26 We routed through Valle Cruces to make a lunch stop at the original Mast General Store, a legend when it comes to places like these. They have a number of locations in the region; but we thought the original would be best. You could spend some serious time in this place and the Annex down the road, which we did. We then found lunch across the street and filled up our tanks before taking off along the very best North Carolina and Tennessee, as we kept crossing borders, had to offer. With still about 150 miles to go we had a full afternoon’s ride ahead of us, but there is a big difference in 150 Big Road/Iron Butt miles and 150 twisty Backroads miles. By the time we hit Hendersonville and our friends Karilea and Kevin’s home we had crossed half a dozen peaks and even more valleys. Over one ridge that snaked back from Tennessee into North Carolina we rode along snow and ice that clung in the shadows, even in the late afternoon. As the sun was about to set we rode up to their absolutely stunning (I mean this) home. Built at the beginning of the last century, their home was once a lodge and since they have taken it over they have turned it into something very special. How can you not love a house with a long living room complete with classic motorcycles and a few serious acoustic guitars on hand? All this atop a mountain overlooking North Carolina in the middle of some of the most pristine riding in the nation. It is also very cool that they create some of the best riding gear on the planet as well, Olympia Moto Sports.
MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS Top left: The best part of Mast General Store Middle left: Heading south towards N. Carolina Bottom left: Former Indian Cave Lodge where Jack Dempsey once fought Top right: A very small portion of Wheels Through Time in Maggie Valley, NC Bottom right: Entrance to Pisgah National Forest
BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
Page 27 This motorcycle-centric place is the epitome of what inns should be that are part of our Moto-Inn program. Owners John and Charlene Powell have put in a lot of love and effort to make this the premiere ride-to destination in the region. (Continued on Page 30)
For those of you who know me this is about as close to heaven as you can get. Earlier that day they had picked up Phil from the airport, arriving just an hour before us. Bikes parked, and wine opened it was time to reacquaint with good people. Our ride to the Ironhorse Lodge this next day would be short compared to the previous few but we’d make the best of it, hitting the Blue Ridge Parkway for 50 or so miles, through the Pisgah National Forest, then dropping off the ridgeline into Maggie Valley where we would enjoy a decent North Carolinian barbeque and then spend an hour or so getting a personal tour of Wheels Through Time by Dale Wexler, the owner and creator of this fine museum. If you are really a motorhead and love Americana this is a must see when riding in the Smokey Mountains. Dale has so much interesting artifacts and so many great old motorcycles that he could easily use twice the space and still need room for more. From Wheels Through Time it was a relatively short jaunt through the mountains and the Cherokee Reservation to Stecoah, home of the Ironhorse Lodge.
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MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
Page 30 By the time we got there Phil’s MotoQuest reunion had brought in a goodsize crowd from around the nation and, with the weather promising to be a good gal, we looked forward to a couple of days riding the Smokeys. The Ironhorse Lodge was the perfect place for hosting such an event. Pristine property, great lodgings, whether it be a spacious room, home or tent if you want to get primitive – they offer it all. They also feed you a filling breakfast and superb supper each night.
For the next few days we would go out riding and exploring the region. We have been this way many times so it was fun to see the Dragon at Deal’s Gap and the phenomenal Cherohala Skyway through fresh eyes. All the riders were talented and we thought it a pleasure to share the trip with such a diverse group who really loved to ride motorcycles well. The first day we rode with the group, the second, as they were heading into the woods, we went in search of some of the things we had missed during our 15th anniversary Tour last year. Shira again routed a twistalicious ride through the Smokeys on some roads we had never ridden before. Weyah Road, known locally as Thunder Road, was spectacular. She was in search of waterfalls and I was in search of tartans – we got both this day. In the quaint southern town of Franklin you will find the Scottish Tartans Museum. Dedicated to educating Americans, Scots and those who wish they were Scots about the history of the Tartans, what they mean, how they are made and worn and their interesting history.
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BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
Opposite page: Carving the Dragon Our group overlooking the Fall colors of North Carolina Brian takes in his Scottish heritage, looking for his tartan This page: Dribbling Bridal Veil Falls The more powerful falls on Weyah Road Kicking back after a great day’s ride at Ironhorse Lodge
I was raised in a home of Scots and have lived a few summers in Scotland so this place was a natural for me and both of us really enjoyed it; as well as the haggis we brought home. Following along, Shira brought us up Route 64 that seemed to have another impressive cascade at the end of each turn. Bridal Veil Falls, where you ride behind the water, was barely falling this day, but I stopped for that digital moment just the same. In the town of Highland we ran into the rest of our group, took lunch with them, and then carried on Shira’s Smokey Mountain foray. By evening time we had enough and we headed back towards Stecoah.
With each afternoon rolling in, machines too rolled back to the Ironhorse. The fire was lit, the late Fall sun kept things warm and each night Phil and MotoQuest showed videos on the various places they have tours, a full 15 nations at this point. A few of us that had been on tour with MotoQuest also showed our videos and it seemed to us these last few days were much like a tour in a far away land with some really good and like-minded two-wheeled friends. The last night we were joined by our Atlantean buddies Jim and Marty who rode up to spend the night at the Ironhorse. What a great thing to do and it made the last night here at the Ironhorse even better. Again we watched some videos from around the world, but soon the group found themselves near the large fire under a canopy of October stars telling tall
tales and listening to some guitar playing. All in all this entire trip felt more like a tour you would pay for as the feel and flavor of the last few days were much like the times we had ridden with Phil and Motoquest. The new faces, even on familiar roads, made for an excellent time. We started back home the next day, but with the wonderful weather hanging around the Smokey Mountains we took our time heading north and spent the day riding the backroads in and out of North Carolina and Tennessee. In fact we did nearly 300 miles just getting to the interstate and that was just at the border to Virginia; basically a typical backroads day. We had heard some wintery weather was barreling in from the west and that the World Series was even cancelled this night in St. Louis so our game plan for the next day would be to test the BMW K1600GT’s highway effectiveness. With its powerful 6-cylinder power
Page 32 plant, great seating position and electronically controlled windscreen this machine is a Starship on the big roads. We got a good start and by mid morning it looked like we might even make this run all the way to home in New Jersey. Somewhere in mid-Virginia I saw Shira slowing to the side of I-81 and waving her arms. Stopping she said she thought she had a flat. She was right. Thankfully she had the new Stop N Go Pilot Kit complete with portable air pump. Twenty minutes later we were back on the road moving briskly towards the Mason/Dixon line. Everybody should have this kit with them all the time. Unfortunately, our fair weather luck ran out and a slow drizzle quickly turned into a heavy rain. With the moisture came a sudden and dramatic drop in temperatures. Hitting I-78 the sun dropped and the little ice light came on as well as the Garmin telling me there was snow in the area. With exactly 500 miles under the tires this day and just 70 or so to go we threw in the towel and called it a night just as the rain began to changed to something a bit thicker and slipperier. As they say about discretion… It is funny how you can be alright, while riding, but once off the machines the seriousness of the cold hits into your bones, shaking you to your core. The hot shower has rarely felt so good. The 6th game of the World Series that night was almost as good as ‘86, ceptin’ the Mets weren’t there. The next day we rode back to Jersey under blue skies and dry roads, stop-
MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
ping for the best breakfast in the Garden State at Thisilldous in Belvidere before motoring home about 12 hours ahead of the first snow storm of the season. Timing is everything I have been told.
BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
NOLAN INTRODUCES THE N104 MODULAR HELMET
Nolan introduced their new N-104 to the public at the International Motorcycle Show in NY in January, weeks before the official presentation at Dealer Expo in mid-February. The new N104 is the synthesis of all the innovation that Nolan has introduced in the field of modular helmets, starting with the first and original N100 in 1998. Like all the other Nolan helmets, it is 100% made in Italy and represents the sum of all the safety and comfort features that Nolan was able to put into a contemporary design. With the N104 Nolan has once again raised the bar and the N104 promises to be the helmet that other manufacturers will strive to emulate. Sizes range from XXS to XXXL in two shell sizes (XXS to L in small shell; XL to XXXL in large shell) to keep the weight and volume of the helmet proportionate to the size of the rider. The lightweight and aerodynamic Lexan® polycarbonate shell features a built-in spoiler for improved stability. The new N104 will have an ultra large, optically correct visor to cover the incredibly wide and tall eyeport. It can be changed easily thanks to the simple push-button release mechanism, offers UV400 protection and accepts the Pinlock insert. The VPS, or Vision Protection system has returned using an internal scratch-resistant and fog-resistant sunshield, lowered by a slider and retracted instantly by a new button on the lower trim of the helmet. The pivoting chinbar with stainless steel latching mechanism and patented elliptical trajectory brings the chinbar closer to the helmet, to reduce the resistance to the wind when riding with the helmet open and the P/J slider locks the chinbar in the upper position for additional safety when riding with the helmet open.
Other upgrades include Dual action Centromatic release system (pull the tab on the underside of the chinbar, then squeeze together with the front tab) for increased safety. The new Airbooster system allows cooling air from the front air intakes to the exhaust vents in the back, it channels the air through tubes to disperse it efficiently along the crown of the helmet. The forehead vents can be opened independently from the top vents to customize the air flow in the helmet and chinbar vents are operated by a centrally located slider. When it is time to clean the N104 the liner is a fully removable and washable four-piece ClimaComfort padding which is wicking, breathable and treated with natural silver salt to be antibacterial and antifungal. It is designed to accommodate eyeglasses and sunglasses alike. When it gets really hot the separate neck roll can be removed during the summer and reflective panels on the neck roll and the chin curtain improve visibility at night for safety. Of course the N104 comes ready for the Ncom B4 all-inone BlueTooth communication system to be quickly installed and the helmet is DOT approved. The N104 is far lighter and quieter than the previous Nolan helmets and should provide thousands of miles of comfortable and safe riding. The new N104 will be in shops soon and will list for $449.95 in solid colors and $499.995 with Action Graphics. For more information, contact Cima International at 866-243-5638 or log onto www.nolan-usa.com.
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MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
I remember growing up and getting my very first house key. I was so proud to be thought responsible enough and took that responsibility very seriously. I would always check to make sure my key was where it should be and didn’t fall into the hands of the ‘bad guys.’ Then I grew up and the number of keys I became responsible for grew as well. Bicycle lock keys, school locker keys, car keys, apartment keys and, eventually, motorcycle keys. Somewhere, in the drawer that we all have, is a zip-lock baggie with all those random keys that we just can’t throw out but have no idea what they open or unlock. I recently met David Cooper, President of Keyport Inc. Keyport was founded in 2005 by Josh Downes with the goal of streamlining the bulk that has become the keychain. An avid motorcyclist, Josh could never leave his motorcycle key attached to his keychain or the keys would flail around noisily in the wind and scratch the bike’s handlebars. Therefore, he either had to keep it separate from his other keys or he had to take it off the keychain each time he went for a ride, and neither option seemed like a good solution. In addition, he was constantly rearranging his keychain to minimize the number of keys he had to carry on a daily basis. Then Josh had an epiphany - the
blade end of the key is all that is needed. By removing the head of the key, Josh envisioned that he could create a compact device that carried all his keys and fit comfortably in his pocket, but that did not jingle or stab him in the leg. After several design iterations, the very first Keyport was born. David set me up with the makings of my own Keyport. The process is quite simple and quick. You can choose up to six keys for your Keyport, or replace a key spot with an LED light, USB flash drive, bottle opener or barcode insert (to rid yourself of those annoying little plastic additions to your keychain for the gym/supermarket/office supply store). Simply place your order and then download a Key ID Form where you’ll place the keys you’d like to convert to Blades. Snap an image as directed, upload the file to Keyport and in about two weeks you’ll receive your Keyport package. Depending on what you’ve ordered, you’ll get the Keyport Slide V.01, colored node set, detachable lan-
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yard and your Blades and/or inserts. Take the Blades to your local locksmith along with your original keys and have them cut. Get back home, put it all together and you’re good to go. This tidy little package measures just 2.875” in length and, with six Blades, weighs about two ounces and fits in the fifth pocket of your jeans. Its skin is stainless steel with a PVD and DLC finish and comes in a variety of colors. But, you say, my motorcycle has a chip in the top of the key, how’s that going to work? Chipped keys do take up two ports in the Keyport, one for the Blade and one for the chip insert. With these keys you will have to send in the whole key so that Keyport can duplicate the chip
BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
for the port. In most cases this is less expensive than going to the dealer to order a new key. According to their website, there are certain cylinder keys found on Harley-Davidson which are not compatible as yet with Keyport. Speaking of their website, you can get pretty much all the information you’ll need to get your very own Keyport. They have some great information videos to walk you through and plenty of FAQs for any questions you may have. Their customer service department is top-notch as well. The cost of entry to this tidy key system varies. The basic Keyport base is $39 and it comes in a variety of colors, with Blades starting at $4/each
(chipped keys will be more). If you’d like some cool inserts they start at $5. So, for five standard Blades and an LED light insert you’ll be spending about $75. For this price you will have the absolute coolest key system available. Just think, no more scratching up your bike with jangling keys, separating motorcycle keys from house keys or having a pocket full of spiky metal jabbing you while you ride. Visit www.mykeyport.com to place your order. Enjoy your new key freedom. Shira Kami
ICON REIGN BOOTS One of the weird things about having a lot of choices in life is you have to make a lot of decisions about what your needs actually are. If you’re in the market for a new bike, do you need a Dual-Sport? Bagger? Sport-Tourer? Trials bike? Amazing as it may seem, the world of riding boots is likewise full of options, and your needs may vary depending on the type of riding you typically do. If you’re a street rider, I think you can’t really go wrong with a well-made, all-weather sport-touring boot as they work well in so many applications. That said, they have to meet pretty stringent basic requirements in order to be worth purchasing including good protection (including armor in key areas), the ability to breathe while warding off the elements, and tailoring that makes them suitable for both working well on the bike and comfortable walking around for hours when you arrive at some interesting destination. Icon’s Reign Sport-Touring boots (designed in Portland, Oregon-It rains there a lot as I recall) are an excellent example of all-weather riding footwear done right. These handsome boots are loaded with intelligent engineering, including a mix of leather and ballistic nylon construction (with seams sealed for waterproofness) and armor in all the right places. Fortifications include molded shin and ankle plates, rubber shift interface ribs, an axialmetric steel shank (?!), and slip-resistant high-friction outsoles. The lining is one of those magical blends that lets perspiration out but bars the entrance of larger molecules like water droplets and Orange Julius. Construction is stout but the boots are light in weight, and one of the most interesting features is the tight,
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low-profile uppers that fit tightly on your lower calf so all manner of riding pants slide easily over them. Access is still pretty easy, and huge plastic handles in back help with the booting-up process. Comfort is excellent once broken in, and the smooth soles work great on sport bikes where you can easily reposition your feet when moving around on the bike. If the peg-to-shifter distance is tight then you’ll have to get used to the thickness of the boot (sometimes this can be awkward at first) but they ultimately work fine. The few light rain events I experienced were no problem although I have yet to perform the Deluge Test. My only real gripe is a lack of any reflective material on the boots, which is unusual these days. The Icon Reign Boots are available in men’s sizes 8-13 and women’s sizes 6-10 for an MSRP of $160. www.rideicon.com Bill Heald
MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
ZERO ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLES - IS THE FUTURE ALMOST HERE?
Hundreds of years ago the tiny colony of New Amsterdam began the future of what would eventually become our great nation. On a chilly day in mid-January I found myself onboard what very well may be the future of the sport of motorcycling, or at least a rising segment of it. The Zero Motorcycle, the first real electric motorcycle in the world – and it is American-bred. Riding along the streets of lower Manhattan this irony did not go unnoticed by me. The Zero Company, from Scotts Valley, California, has made great advances since their first generation
of machines were introduced and, even though they admit they are in the infancy, the two machines I got to ride in lower Manhattan were more than a little impressive. This year Zero is offering five different models - two street, two dirt and one dual sport. This day I rode the S and DS models. The S is the more “sporty” of the two and the DS more of an adventure machine. The machines are all powered by Z-Force patented Li-Ion intelligent power packs that come in two different sizes - a 6 kWh and a 9kWh version. Our bikes had the larger batteries that promised to last for more than 300,000 miles and have a slightly greater range. These machines typically cost just about .90 cents to charge and that charge will take you 100 miles plus. The machines plug into any common 110 or 220 outlet. So much for the common complaint that there are no “stations” to recharge these machines. I have about fifty at Backroads Central alone. Both bikes were a bit on the diminutive size compared to their gas burning brethren, but even I, with a little bit of size on me, felt comfortable scooting around New York on them. In fact I had a blast riding these two electric motorcycles from Zero. The Zero machines are powered by a brushless motor, which instantly provides the full amount of torque when the throttle is given a twist. Still, to pull away so quickly and silently was just a bit weird for the first mile or so. They claim a top speed of around 90 miles per hour and I don’t doubt this as I got it near 70 on a rare “two block clear” moment on the West Side Highway. This motor uses onetenth the steel and half the copper of competing DC motors, and delivers one of the best power-to-size ratios in the industry. We are
BACKROADS • MARCH 2012 chine slowing down, the motor works with the motor controller to recharge the power pack. This Re-Gen feature is brilliant. Other than the unique and revolutionary powerplant, the Zero motorcycles are much like regular motorcycles. The motorcycles use an aircraft grade aluminum twin spar frame, cast aluminum wheels on the S and spoked wheels on the DS. Both S and DS utilize inverted front forks that can be externally adjusted to dial in compression and rebound damping. A rigid double diamond rear swing arm keeps the rear wheel planted using a custom rear shock with a fully adjustable spring preload and easily tuned damping. The bikes use a low-maintenance belt for final drive. They also have one hell of a horn – very useful on the mean streets of New York. On the road, once past the eeriness of riding silently, I quickly got into this bike’s groove. For those of you who might be concerned about how the Zero feels on the road - do not fret. They work exactly like your current machine, just quietly and very smoothly. I did “phantom” downshift more than a few times in traffic, as the Zero has one speed and no shifter or clutch. Think of it like those old HO slot cars you had as a child. The more you turn on the power the faster the bike goes. Roll off the throttle and the bike rolls along until you care to slow down with the very capable front and rear disc brakes. Look-wise I will let the pictures speak for themselves. Personally I think they look pretty sharp. The best New York comment was made by a New York City detective, in an unmarked car who, at a light, commented on how small and quiet the Zero was. I told him it was an electric bike, which prompted his response, “Electric? What the F$#k will they come up with next!” I love New York!
My ride around lower Manhattan was far too short, especially when these bikes now have a range of nearly 115 miles on a charge. The folks from Zero had been exploring Manhattan for two days previous and the motorcycles still had about 60% charge left. My thoughts are that the Zero motorcycles, right now, are perfect for short commuter work, easy weekend hops and would be especially good in small towns and cities. They would be superb in college and university communities as well as summer island retreats. The city of London is looking at a small fleet of the Zero motorcycles for use with the London police force and the town of Scotts Valley has bought a few as well. There have been talks with US Special Forces as well. As we know…silent is deadly. This is just the beginning for the people and machines from Zero. We hope to get one or two of their machines for long term riding this summer and with that we can do a bit more in depth testing on the machines. But, right now, I am seeing the possibilities and, although I am not selling my conventional motorcycle just yet, I do have a more positive outlook for the future of Zero and electric powered machines. You can find out more on these capable machines and where your nearest dealer is on their website: www.zeromotorcycles.com. Brian Rathjen
MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
UPCOM IN G EVENTS CAL ENDAR E V E RY M O N T H - W E AT H E R P E R M I T T I N G Every Sunday • Eastern Suffolk ABATE Breakfast Run. Crossroads Diner - Calverton NY. 10:30am. Eat and Ride After • 631-369-2221 First Sunday of the month • Layton Meet at the Layton Deli, corner of Dingmans/Bevans Rd, CR 560, Layton, NJ. Meet around 8am – breakfast available. Join others for a ride or head out on your own Every Tuesday • The Ear - Spring St, NYC. Come meet some fellow riders and do some benchracing or whatever. 8pm-ish Third Tuesday • 7:30pm ABATE of the Garden State, North Jersey chapter. Black River Barn, 1178 Rt. 10 West, Randolph, NJ. 7:30pm. New members and all mc brands welcome. Help fight for rights as a motorcyclist in NJ! Alex Martinez 973-390-1918
What’s Happening lunch ride plus many self-guided routes, Sat. evening BBQ buffet dinner, door prizes and much more. $45 Rally fee/Brat Dinner $10. For more info www.mortonsbmw.com • 5099A Jefferson Davis Hwy, Fredericksburg, VA • 540-891-9844 20 • Ramapo Rumble Poker Run. Sign in: Ramapo College of NJ, 505 Ramapo Valley Rd, Mahwah, NJ @ 8:30am. $25/rider to benefit Ramapo College Foundation. Scenic 100 mile poker run through northern NJ/Greenwood Lake area, followed by BBQ lunch, vendors and live entertainment by the DRB Band. Prize for best poker hand. For more info visit www.ramaporumble.com
JUNE 2012 4 • 7am-5pm • Bob’s BMW is hosting a day at the track with Motorcycle Xcitement for all the speed junkies out there! We want ALL brands to join us—it gives the S1000RR more bragging rights! Our staff and any friends you bring with you will cheer you on trackside under Bob’s VIP hospitality tent. Lunch, snacks, beverages, on-site techs for your mechanical convenience, and more will be included in this unforgettable day! Learn from professionals and then put your new skills to the pavement in a safe environment…no soccer mom’s slowing you down in the fast lane! Spread the word, plan ahead, and mark your calendar TODAY. Registration forms and details regarding orientation available at bobsbmw.com
10 • 11am-Noon • Visit Bob’s BMW Service Department for a live demo of a Multi-Point Inspection. All bikes that enter the service department receive this inspection FREE of charge to verify the bike is performing at its maximum capabilities plus every used motorcycle receives this same inspection before it lands on our showroom floor. To understand what the technicians are looking for and what they base their findings and recommendations on, walk-thru a Bob’s Multi-Point Inspection with one of our certified techs! Contact Hanna.Creekmore@bobsbmw.com with questions. 10720 Guilford Rd, Jessup, MD • 800-269-2627 • www.BobsBMW.com
5-9 • 30th Annual Americade - the world’s largest touring rally. Lake George, NY. If you’ve never been, now’s the time to go; if you have we’ll see you again this year. For everything you’ll need to know visit www.americade.com
22 • Harley-Davidson/Buell of Long Branch Women’s Garage Party. Join us for a night of learning and laughs. Make life-long friends while you learn about riding. It’s fun and it’s free! Sign in @ 6:30/Party @ 7pm. Please RSVP @ 732-229-8518. 671 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ • www.HDLongBranch.com
7-10 • New England MotoMarathon. Re-defining motorcycle sport-touring. It’s about riding as many twisties as possible, over four full days. Routes are kept secret until the night before each event. Through a series of self-recorded checkpoints, riders verify completion at the end of each day’s ride. Get more info here: www.motomarathon.com
24 • Bergen Sport Cycles Hot Winter Nights Open House. Great deals. Get your new ride for the season and save. 30 US H’Way 46, Lodi, NJ • 973-478-7711 • www.bergensportcycle.com
9-17 • 89th Annual Laconia Bike Week - one of the Big Three! Lake Weir, New Hampshire. For all the information visit www.LaconiaMCWeek.com
29 • Harley-Davidson/Buell of Long Branch Men’s Motorcycle Boot Camp. Basic training for guys who are ready to ride. Come meet the girls from Bikini Barbers-stars of the Jersey Shore’s newest hit reality show. Sign in @ 6:30/Party @ 7pm. Please RSVP @ 732229-8518. 671 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ • www.HDLongBranch.com 31 • 9am-4pm • Bob’s BMW third and final warehouse sale (for now!) will feature posters, banners, signage, and other art from the motorcycling industry. Vintage and classic to modern day pieces perfect for decorating anything from the garage to your living room! Great prices on some great finds…one-of-a-kind collectibles, rare wall art, and more! Visit bobsbmw.com for more information • 10720 Guilford Rd, Jessup, MD • 800-2692627 • www.BobsBMW.com
APRIL 2012 14 • Morton’s BMW Spring Open House and Habitat Poker Run. Come demo ride the new odels, shop at our many vendors, talk to manufacturer reps, enjoy a free lunch for the first 400 to register, listen to live music and participate in a poker run to benefit Greater Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity. For more details: www.mortonsbmw.com • 5099A Jefferson Davis Hwy, Fredericksburg, VA • 540-891-9844 28 • 9am-4pm • 2012 is Bob’s BMW 30th Year Anniversary so you better believe we will REALLY be kicking off the season this year! Bring your friends, family, and fellow riders of ALL brands for an exciting day! Enjoy a variety of great foods and beverages, a chance to shop the newest 2012 inventory, speak to product reps one-on-one to get the inside scoop on 2012 products, visit booths and tents to get industry information from club news to insurance options, and more! As details are confirmed they will be announced. Please check on BobsBMW.com often to see what's new. 29 • Hogs for Hope Falls to the River Run to benefit Ronald MacDonald House NY. Sign in: Croton Gorge Park 9am-11am; police-escorted ride leaves 11am. $25/rider;$15/passenger. Endsite: JFK Marina on the Hudson River. Live music, BBQ/Pig Roast, raffles and prizes. For info call 914-760-0611 or 914-424-8007
MAY 2012 6 • South Shore MC/Big Sandbar Chapter AMCA-LI Vintage Motorcycle Show/Swap Meet. South Shore MC Club, 6 Seabro Ave, Amityville, NY. Awards given, food and beverages sold, no alcohol please. $5 admission/pp; under 12 free. For more information please visit www.southshoremc.com or www.thebigsandbar.com 17-20 • Backroads’ Spring Break XIV. Join us for our fourteenth Spring Break as we head south to Luray, Virginia. We’ll stay at the historic Mimslyn Inn (540-743-5105 • www.mimslyninn.com • mention Backroads Group for discount) which has 80 years in hospitality and is home to some of the best riding in the area. For additional overflow lodging please call the Best Western at 540-743-6511. May 17-20 • Concours Owners Group Northeast Spring Fling Rally - Westerly, RI. Time to coincide with a national motorcycle accessory vendor’s open house at their new facility. Rally fee includes group banquet dinner Friday night. Discount for COG members and early registration. For more information contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401-8283354. Check out the COG Northeast calendar at www.cog-online.org or visit the rally webpage at tinyurl.com/COGSpringFling2012 20 – 11th Annual British/European Classic Motorcycle Day for all classic British & European motorcycles built through 1983. 10am-5pm; $10/admission. High Point Farm, Clarksburg, MD. Concours, Swap Meet, door prizes, tech talks, vintage trials demo. www.classicmotorcycleday.org 18-20 - Morton’s BMW 2012 Spring Fling Rally at Natural Bridge, VA. Weekend of fun, great riding, delicious food and some outstanding company in the heart of the scenic Shenandoah Valley. Friday evening Brats n’ Brew dinner social, Satuday seminars, guided
16 • 9am-4pm • Bob's BMW Sport Bike Day. Riders of ALL brands are encouraged to wash and detail your pride and joy, ride to Bob’s, and show off what you’ve got! Enjoy great food while you visit, see the 2012 S1000RR up close and learn about all the new updates and features, get entered to win great prizes, plus more to be announced! 10720 Guilford Rd, Jessup, MD • 800-269-2627 • www.BobsBMW.com 18 • Ride to Work Day • www.RideToWork.org 21-24 • 15th Annual Thunder in the Valley presented by Johnstown Convention and Visitors Bureau. Johnstown, PA. More details: www.JohnstownThunder.com
JULY 2012 28 • 11am-1pm • Ever consider traveling the world by motorcycle? If so, Edelweiss Bike Travel will be at Bob’s BMW to provide you with all the information you need to make your dreams come true! Bob’s is bringing the experts in guided motorcycle tours to you so come prepared with all your questions. Having led thousands of tours worldwide over the past 30 years, you can count on getting all of your questions answered at this seminar. Learn the basics of world travel by bike, plus specific benefits of traveling with Edelweiss. 10720 Guilford Rd, Jessup, MD • 800-269-2627 • www.BobsBMW.com. 10720 Guilford Rd, Jessup, MD • 800-269-2627
SEPTEMBER 2012 29 • 9am-4pm • Celebrate Oktoberfest at Bob’s BMW. This annual, family-fun event is a great way to spend the day. Ride to Bob’s early for fresh coffee and donuts and stay for an authentic German lunch! Kick tires with fellow enthusiasts and shop great specials. Details of the day are in the works. Check back for updates at bobsbmw.com
NOVEMBER 2012 3 • 6-10pm • Bob's BMW 30th Year Anniversary Celebration. Tickets will be available months in advance for this monumental event. You will want to get tickets as soon as they are available …this is going to be a night to remember so we anticipate tickets will go FAST! Stay tuned for specifics to be confirmed, but for now, expect a private, catered evening among fellow friends with lots of surprises, amazing giveaways, first heard announcements from Bob, plus an official tribute to Bob’s BMW! Visit www.BobsBMW for details. 13-16 • Empire State Motomarathon. Re-defining motorcycle sport-touring. It’s about riding as many twisties as possible, over four full days. Routes are kept secret until the night before each event. Through a series of self-recorded checkpoints, riders verify completion at the end of each day’s ride. Get more info here: www.motomarathon.com
POLAR BEAR SCHEDULE 2011-12 Cancellations & updates: 908-722-0128. • www.polarbeargrandtour.com/rides March 4, 2012 • FIREHOUSE EATERY, 455 Saint Georges Ave. Rahway, NJ 07065 Ph# 732 382-9500 • www.firehouseeatery.com March 11, 2012 • LONG VALLEY PUB & BREWERY, 1 Fairmount Rd., Long Valley, NJ 07853 • 908-876-1122 • www.brewpubnj.com • www.restaurantvillageatlongvalley.com March 18, 2012 • THE CHATTERBOX, #1 Rte 15 South, Augusta, NJ 07822 Ph#973300-2300 • www.chatterboxdrivein.com March 25, 2012 • BRIAN’S HARLEY-DAVIDSON, 600 S. Flowers Mill Rd., Langhorne PA Ph# 215 752-9400 • www.brianshd.com April 1, 2012 • CHEEBURGER CHEEBURGER, 100 Reaville Ave. Flemington NJ 08822 Phone # 908-782-9000 • www.cheeburger.com April 15, 2012 • CAPE MAY V.F.W. post #386, N .J. 419 Congress St., Cape May, N .J. 08204 Ph# 609-884-7961.
BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
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MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
PROGRESSIVE® INTERNATIONAL MOTORCYCLE SHOWS IN NEW YORK CITY
It would not be a real show without a bit of the cold white stuff; but snowstorms and even the Giant’s playoff game did not slow down the 65,000+ crowds at this year’s International Motorcycle Show held at New York’s Javits Center on Manhattan’s west side. We got into the center early on Thursday, being the first booth set-up in a nearly empty pavilion. It always amazes me how quickly the Union guys and the industry can raise a show up in such a short amount of time. They do a stellar job. Friday morning found the last few touches being handled as we and others in the media were being escorted around the show to various manufacturers who were showing off the latest and the greatest. BMW and Husqvarna had some interesting new entries, including the new scooters that were just concepts a year ago. Victory showed off some new muscle as well as Ducati, Harley and some great new three-wheeled Spyders. Triumph had a great unveiling, complete with British flags, of the Steve McQueen bike, the powerful Speed triple R and a new Tiger – the Explorer - aimed right at the heart of the BMW-dominated adventure bike segment, and a machine we are very interested in. The big surprise for us was what Honda did at the show. They had a machine under cover all morning and many assumed it would be a very nice new cruiser but all were surprised when the cover was pulled off and there was the new NC700X – a superb mid-weight machine that was a Europeanonly bike, and that will be coming to showrooms later this year. Another machine that made its debut were the electric motorcycles from
Zero. I had a chance to ride two earlier that week and I was more than impressed with what could be the future of motorcycling. Once again the great state of West Virginia gave an informative presentation, along with a needed breakfast. If you have never ridden in the Mountain State this should be the year. Kawasaki Design-A-Bike let folks paint up their own machines by grabbing a digital paint can to turn a brand new Kawasaki into their own personalized two-wheeled canvas. Through the middle of the pavilion were rows of beautifully created bikes, part of the Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show. These machines ranged in taste, style and function but all were truly finely crafted and it was hard to pick a winner. The Javits is going through a makeover and the show was split by a construction zone and so offered two separate venues. Through the weekend seminars and demonstrations were given at the Learning Curve and most of the vendors seemed to be doing a brisk business although there might have been just a few too many steel jewelry kiosks for
BACKROADS • MARCH 2012 our tastes. Seems these took the place of the over-bearing video vendors from a few years back. The Smage Brothers wowed the crowd with their incredible trials riding, showing
many just what can be done with motorcycles and just a bit of talent. For us the show was fantastic! So many of you guys and gals came by to say hi to Shira and me, not to mention Notso Happy and Pepe, who were attending their first show as a team. I think sometimes those two got more attention than Shira and me; but that’s okay they’re little Rock Stars in their own minds. Also we got some great help by our friend Tessa, who spelled us for awhile and gave out hundreds of magazines for us. Thanks Tess! For those of you who began or renewed a subscription to Backroads you were entered into a drawing for our “Mystery Basket of Motorcycle Goodness”
Page 41 which included all sort of products and items motorcycle related including a days instruction with the guys from Ride Like A Pro, some Monkey With a Gun swag and somebody’s very own Mr. Happy puppet. What else could any rider ask for? Check out this month’s Infobites for the outcome. For us the International Motorcycle Show in New York City has become a staple of our lives. It comes at the perfect time for all of us, breaking up the mid-winter blues and given all of us a much needed motorcycle fix. For all of us, here at Backroads, the three days fly by incredibly fast and once again we would like to thank all of you who came by and offered the kindest words, encouragements and great ideas for future stories. The IMS has always been the beginning of the riding season for us and before you know it we’ll all be on the road riding the backroads very soon! Brian Rathjen
MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
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BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
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MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
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BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
BOOK SPOTLIGHTS RIDING IN THE ZONE • Advanced Techniques for Skillful Motorcycling by Ken Condon There is little that can match the sublime sensation of riding down a peaceful backroad completely in tune with your motorcycle and the surroundings, or the exhilaration that comes from slicing skillfully through a series of challenging corners on a long descent. These moments are what good riding is all about and what every rider hopes to experience. RIDING IN THE ZONE explains the techniques that can help any rider find that magical state of being where you are physically and mentally present in the moment, where every sense is sharply attuned to the ride. Your body responds with precise, fluid movements, and you are relaxed, focused, and confident. Every input you make is an expression of your mastery of the sport. Some people call this being “in the groove” or “in the zone.” Condon shows you how to get there. In a clear, highly visual style with detailed diagrams and extensive full-color photographs and illustrations, Condon identifies the many factors that help you enter “the zone.” He addresses each one individually, from the development of awareness and mental skills to mastering complete physical control of your motorcycle. At the end of each chapter are drills designed to transform the book’s ideas and concepts into advanced riding skills that are natural and intuitive. A companion DVD is included with the book to demonstrate these concepts and techniques and show how to perform each practice drill so the lessons may be applied quickly and easily to actual street riding. A motorcyclist for more than three decades, Ken Condon is best known to the motorcycling world as the current author of the monthly Proficient Motorcycling and Street Strategies columns for Motorcycle Consumer News. He is also the chief instructor for Tony’s Track Days and is an experienced Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructor. This is his first book, written for early-intermediate to early-advanced riders. It offers riders of all ages and abilities valuable insight into perfecting their own personal riding style for maximum enjoyment and satisfaction. $29.95 at your local bookstore, motorcycle dealer, or directly from the publisher, Whitehorse Press • 800531-1133 • www.whitehorsepress.com.
THE RIDE SO FAR • Tales from a Motorcycling Life by Lance Oliver What is it about riding a motorcycle that has us all so hooked? The Ride So Far: Tales From a Motorcycling Life by popular motojournalist Lance Oliver, has spent more time than most of us thinking about this question and writing with wit and insight about his own lifelong passion for two wheel tuning and travel. Whether dodging wildlife on a laid-back ramble through West Virginia, describing the sensation of plunging down the famed Corkscrew turn at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, or plumbing the psychological depths of our slightly exaggerated emotional attachments to our motorcycles, these original stories go straight to the essence of what it is about riding that is so much more than another way to get from here to there. Any motorcyclist who has ridden down a highway will identify with these tales, which are by turns whimsical and serious, hilarious and heartfelt. In Part I, Great Places & Memorable Rides, Oliver takes us along to destinations both famous and obscure, from California’s Pacific Coast Highway and the Mount Washington Auto Road in New Hampshire, to anonymous country lanes in Puerto Rico and Canada. Even if you’ve been to some of the places he writes about, you’ll see them from a new perspective, thanks to his eye for detail and his knack for describing not just the destination, but also the unexpected delights found along the way. Oliver also shares some unusual rides you may not have imagined, whether he’s inexpertly troubleshooting a 40-year-old Italian Motobi at roadside during the Motogiro USA vintage road rally, flogging a 125cc tiddler at full throttle in a non-stop charity run around Lake Erie, or test riding a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R on the surrealistically smooth asphalt of Losail International Circuit in Qatar. Part II, Ruminations & Meditations, digs into the things we all talk about when the kickstands are down, such as the potent mix of memories that well up when we think back to our first motorcycles. You’ll find yourself chuckling along (and probably recalling some of your own foibles) as he ‘fesses up to some of his less stellar moments on two wheels (“Nothing focuses a young man’s mind like gasoline streaming toward his crotch, just inches from hot engine parts.”). We have our own reasons for riding, but few accounts are more engaging than these well spun tales from a varied motorcycling life. The Ride So Far will have you nodding in agreement, “Yes, that’s just the way it feels.” It will inspire you to head for the garage and go forth to write your own riding adventures across the face of the earth. $24.95 at your local bookstore, dealer, or directly from the publisher, Whitehorse Press • 800-531-113 • www.whitehorsepress.com.
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MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
INDUS TRY INFOBITES
News from the Inside
AND THE WINNER IS… At this year’s International Motorcycle Show, we were offering those new or renewed subcribers a chance to win a Mystery Basket of Motorcycle Goodness. Well, the ticket has been drawn and the winner is…actually there were two winners, but that’s another story. Glenn Hoffmann, you can pick up your Chrysler Cordoba at Morty’s office. Enrique, your consolation prize is in the mail. And, through the magic of the internet, Glenn’s response: Hi Brian and Shira, Thank you in advance for the Mystery Box of Motorcycle Goodness. I look forward to receiving it. Brian, when I answered the phone this morning I at first thought you were a prank caller. It was nice to see you both. I hope you had a profitable show. The good lord willing, I look forward to riding with you this season. Regards, Glenn Hoffmann
N.H. HARLEY DEALER WINS NOISE ORDINANCE LAWSUIT Seacoast Motorcycles Inc., owner of Seacoast Harley-Davidson in North Hampton, N.H., has won a lawsuit against the town of North Hampton over a noise ordinance. The dealership’s suit was filed as a result of an ordinance passed by the town in 2010 that limited exhaust noise to 80 decibels, according to SeacoastOnline.com. New Hampshire state law permits motorcycle exhaust to reach 106 decibels, so the dealership argued the town didn’t have legal authority to create its more restrictive ordinance. Rockingham County Superior Court Judge Kenneth McHugh ruled in favor of Seacoast Motorcycles, deciding that local municipalities cannot enact laws stricter than what the state allows. “If each town in New Hampshire had the authority to enact different noise emission ordinances, the state would be subject to a checkerboard pattern of laws,” he ruled. “For example, a motorcyclist who complies with the state noise emission limit could be precluded from driving through a town because that town enacted a lower noise emission limit than the state.”
MOTOQUEST OPENS UP TOUR AND RENTAL SHOP IN LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA Motorcycle Tour and Rental operator MotoQuest, the long-established leader in adventure riding in its native Alaska, is pleased to announce their expansion to the West Coast with the opening of its newest Adventure Center, MotoQuest West, located adjacent to Long Beach BMW / Husqvarna Motorcycles in Long Beach, California. MotoQuest Founder and Lead Guide Phil Freeman says, “We are very excited about this location, it is ideal for offering all of our clients the same outstanding experience they have come to expect from us. We are extending the hassle free airport pick-up and drop-off service we have been providing for our clients for the past 13 years in Anchorage to our Long Beach clients. With our strategic alliance with our friends at Long Beach BMW, we couldn’t have asked for a better situation” General Manager Kevin Hagerty is a lifelong motorcyclist, a 40 year resident of Southern California and a MotoQuest guide. Kevin is anxious to help with suggestions with ride destinations and accommodations. Initially MotoQuest will offer the complete line of BMW GS models, with expansion to street and touring models soon to be added. Whether you are interested in exploring the American Southwest, the historic Pacific Coast Highway, California’s Giant Redwoods, Route “66”, Baja, Death Valley, or the treasure trove of Utah’s National Parks, MotoQuest West is the answer. To contact MotoQuest, go to www.motoquesttours.com or call toll free 1800-756-1990 or Long Beach direct at 1-562-RENT (7368)
BMW MOTORRAD SEES RECORD YEAR BMW Motorrad delivered 104,286 motorcycles worldwide in 2011, the most motorcycles ever delivered in the division’s nearly 90-year history. The number of motorcycles delivered in 2011 eclipsed 2010 deliveries by 6.4 percent, and they surpassed the record of 102,467 motorcycles delivered in 2007 by 1.8 percent. Growth was reported in each month of 2011. In December, 4,232 motorcycles were delivered, an increase of 12.4 percent over the year-ago month.
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BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
BMW Motorrad also reported that its worldwide market share increased more than 12 percent in the above 500cc category, and it has doubled in the past four years. BMW’s Husqvarna brand saw a decrease in deliveries, down 23 percent from 2010, to 9,286. In December, Husqvarna delivered 1,330 bikes, a decrease of 26.1 percent from the year-ago month.
SMOKE CHASING BBQ CONTEST RETURNS The AMA would like to invite riders to ride along once again for the AMA Sponsored Smoke Chasing Grand Tour 2012 (SCGT12). The SCGT12 is a BBQ themed self-paced grand tour designed to combine your love of great food and great riding. Last year, during the inaugural grand tour, they were joined by more than 400 riders covering the spectrum of motorcycle brands and riding styles. This year they have changed the scoring format and added some new twists to keep the ride fresh. The event can be completed in a single state or province or can include every province and territory in Canada and every state in the U.S. for those who enjoy long distance challenges. The Grand Tour is extremely affordable at only $27 and features several prizes including free entry into rallies, cash, gas cards, a radar detection system and a spot tracker in addition to the prizes customarily offered by the AMA (Tires, locks etc). They will also name a Grand Champion based upon BBQ points earned who will have bragging rights and first choice of prizes. For more info log onto www.smokechasing.com.
LIVE FREE AND RIDE A New Hampshire legislator wants his state’s “Live Free or Die” slogan emblazoned across motorcycle license plates. While he hasn’t straddled a bike in some years, State Rep. Tim Copeland (R-Stratham) said “it’s a great saying” that shouldn’t be limited to license plates on cars and trucks. He said the idea was hatched at a convention for lawmakers where candy trays were sold that were made by inmates out of defective license plates. While looking at those candy dishes, Copeland wondered why the quote — from a toast made in 1809 by General John Stark — isn’t celebrated on the backs of motorcycles. Rep. Copeland said there would be no additional cost to the state and he’s been told there’s nothing logistical to prevent stamping the state slogan onto the smaller motorcycle plates. Copeland’s bill is with the House Transportation Committee and proposes replacing the word “motorcycle” at the top of all motorcycle plates with the state motto.
ZERO MOTORCYCLES - IT’S ELECTRIC Zero Motorcycles, the global leader in electric motorcycle manufacturing, recently celebrated the start of production of its ground breaking 2012 model line with the rollout of its first new 2012 Zero DS. Management and staff greeted the arrival of the stunning new Zero DS motorcycle on Dec. 15, 2011 (it was an early Christmas present) with applause and excitement. Additionally, Zero Motorcycles announces that the entire product line is in full production and dealers and consumers alike can expect to see the motorcycles hitting the marketplace throughout the first quarter of 2012. Zero recently debuted the all-new 2012 product line to a very positive response this past November at the 2011 EICMA Motorcycle Show in Milan, Italy. “It’s an amazing feeling to watch the fruition of so much hard work and effort as it comes into being and becomes something that is so special and unique,” said Scot Harden, Vice President of Global Marketing for Zero Motorcycles. “We are very proud of our dedicated team at Zero Motorcycles. Without their passion and dedication to building the very best electric motorcycle, we wouldn’t be in the position we are today. The progress being made is phenomenal, every model in the lineup goes faster, further and is more fun than ever before.” The Zero S, a street fighter, and Zero DS, a dual sport, are both available in a 6 or 9 kWh configuration. As measured by the EPA UDDS, the Zero S is capable of respectively achieving 76 or 114 miles on a single charge. Both motorcycles offer a higher top speed, with the Zero DS hitting 80 mph and the Zero S topping out at 88 mph. Both motorcycles offer a broad torque band and stealthy acceleration from 0 rpm that makes them incredibly fun to ride. In addition, all the street models, including the Zero XU, feature new brushless motors and regenerative braking that allow riders to recoup energy during deceleration. The Zero XU, a motorcycle designed for inner city riding, now uses the same maintenance-free belt drive system as the Zero S and Zero DS. Brushless air-cooled motors, life of motorcycle power packs and belt drive systems make Zero’s lineup of street models just about the world’s easiest-to-own form of transportation. Zero’s new Z-Force™ power pack uses a completely new battery cell chemistry and configuration that is up to 95 percent more energy dense and is rated to 3,000 complete charge cycles before hitting 80 percent capacity. This means that a Zero S could travel as much as 308,000 miles on its original power pack. All of Zero’s on and off-road motorcycles leverage the new technology, meaning that the power pack is designed to exceed the longevity expected of any conventional motorcycle. The result is a complete electric motorcycle line that offers owners exhilarating rides while saving on gas and virtually all-routine powertrain maintenance. The same is true for the all new Zero X and MX. Improvements in styling, performance and range make both of these off-road oriented models a dream to own and operate. With almost three times the range of previous Zero X and MX models, and with substantially more power on tap, these electric dirt motorcycles take off-road riding to an all new level.
MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
PRODUCT SPOTLIGHTS NEW HARLEY-DAVIDSON FXRG FULL FACE HELMET Built with a super-light fiberglass shell and a wide array of ride-based technology, the new men’s FXRG Full Face Helmet, listing for $475 from the Harley-Davidson MotorClothes line, offers a new level of riding performance. The Advanced Channeling Ventilation System delivers full front-to-back airflow for maximum comfort. The Pinlock visor combines with the center one-touch open/close locking system and an adjustable max air-flow top vent for superb fog resistance and a secure seal. A SilverCool interior wicks away moisture and eliminates odor with the removable/washable antibacterial liner. It’s SNELL-approved, meets DOT requirements and features 3M Scotchlite Reflective Material graphics for maximum reflectivity. Available in XS – 2XL sizes. The FXRG Full Face Helmet and other new FXRG gear are available now at most Harley-Davidson dealerships.
SEALING UP YOUR LEAKY BOOTS WITH FLEX SEAL Not long ago, during the very wet and rainy season that we had last year, we were on tour and during one said downpour Shira radioed over that her boot, that she loves for the comfort and protection, had developed negative hydromatic pressure….one was leaking slightly. These boots have many thousands of tough miles on them and until this day were without fault. Still, not all can last forever. When we finished this trip Shira dried out the boot and started to make plans on buying another set as these particular boots were her favorite. One night while watching the television a guy named Phil Swift comes on hawking “rubber in a can” something called Flex Seal. As with Billy May and so many others I am always a bit skeptical on products that promise so much, but I had just seen this same stuff at Bed, Bath & Beyond for half the price on TV, so we thought we’d give it a try. Some newspaper and masking tape later we were ready to strategically spray the seams of the boots where we thought the water had seeped through. You want to wear disposable gloves and eye protection with Flex Seal for if you get this on you, you will have a devil of a time getting it off and you surely want to keep it from your face and especially your eyes. A quick minute of shaking and Flex Seal went onto the exposed boot seams easily and an hour later I did a second coat and later that day one more. By that evening the rubber had completely cured and the boots didn’t look all that bad at all, perhaps a bit shinier where the Flex Seal was. Testing the boots at the office and on the road let us know that the Flex Seal had done the job and still continues to do so. Taking a close look at this stuff it reminds me of auto undercoating, which it just might be, but for a quick fix on the road if your boots spring a leak this odd product from “Seen on TV” did the trick. Look for it at local B, B & B or on the web.
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BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
Welcome to the Jungle - The Art of Learning to Ride Skillfully A column dedicated to your riding survival
Can You See Me Now You are never too old to learn. This is something I have known for years. We have some friends, the Fords, who have always ridden with High-Viz gear and all their machines have plenty of bright retro-reflective stickers prominently applied. Discussing it with them they couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t be wearing such gear ourselves. Truth is years ago we did, but as time has gone by our testing of so many other jackets and gear has had us drifting away. Yep, I do have a great Olympia jacket with High-Viz throughout, but it is a summer-only jacket and my day-today jacket was a flat gray – not so bright - literally. Especially when Olympia has a newer version of the same jacket in High- Viz yellow. But recent events, like Shira getting nailed by a woman who “didn’t see the motorcyclist,” got me thinking it was time to revisit this. There’s a lot to be said about being seen while riding your machine. In fact, the NHTSA has quite a lot to say about High-Visibility. This is from their website: One of the easiest and most effective ways for a motorcyclist to be seen by other motorists is by wearing brightly colored, upper-torso clothing and/or retro-reflective material. However, only a minority of motorcyclists choose such brightly colored apparel, whether for fashion or other reasons. • Social and fashion pressures are apparently a powerful reason for not wearing brightly colored clothing. Although sportbike riders, who imitate racers, have largely accepted bright colors, the larger cruiser category chooses apparel in almost nothing but inconspicuous black. Other categories often choose other hard-to-see colors such as gray, beige, and other neutral colors. The olive-drab and camouflage apparel that the Hurt Report found over-represented in the typical right-of-way-violation crash is still worn. • Manufacturers and distributors of helmets confirm that more than half of the motorcycle helmets sold for street use in the United States are black, which seems to be chosen primarily for fashion. Right now in France they are calling for mandatory High-Viz gear for all riders and although I hate having the state tell me what to do, there is something to be said on the effectiveness of High-Viz gear.
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The company Conspicuity has been manufacturing and selling excellent High-Viz vests and products for over 30 years. They were way ahead of this now growing trend. (www.conspicuity.us) The first real Hi-Vis riding suit that I can recall was Andy Goldfine’s Roadcrafter Suit from Aerostich. As they said “Loud Suits Save Lives!” Now just about every manufacturer of high performance motorcycle jackets has a version of this bright idea. It’s a good thing. Let’s look at the folks who are at the most risk on the roads each day – the Highway Worker. Have you ever seen a Highway Worker wearing black or cammo? Nope. They all are required to wear H/V Vests or tee-shirts. They need to be seen by everybody, and so do we. We recently were on tour in the Alps with a bunch of Backroads readers and many of them were wearing High-Viz. Our friend Nuri, in particular, really stood out with her bright red helmet and High-Viz orange Olympia jacket. I was riding tale gunner a few days and she and her husband, Michael, were way up front and I could always lock onto her gear to get an idea of where everybody was in our group. I am well aware that many other riders might make fun or have some asinine comments if you show up for a ride in High-Viz riding gear, but you really can’t let them bother you. To the brain-dead myopic car driver out there on the streets you will stand out, unlike the other drab, black leather clad riders roaming around. You might have to shrug some comments off and have a thicker skin. Our friends Michael and Michelle Manna ride cruisers and have been wearing bright and functional High-Viz gear for seasons. They really don’t care or listen to other riders they hang with. They know what works… and High-Visability jackets certainly do. Not all High-Viz gear has to be obnoxiously bright. I have seen some great jackets with splashes of High-Viz materials running stylishly through the garments and they still catch the average car driver’s eye. That’s the idea. You can be conspicuous, safe and stylish all at the same time. There are no excuses any more. Brian Rathjen
MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
MOTORCYCLE-FRIENDLY HOTEL OPENS TO ACCOMMODATE RIDERS TOURING NORTHERN VIRGINIA Motorcyclists riding the twisties of Skyline Drive in Virginia now have a new close-by and biker-friendly hotel to enjoy at the end of their day’s ride. The Comfort Inn & Suites in Orange, VA not only welcomes motorcyclists, but sits in the middle of some of the Virginia Piedmont region’s most picturesque scenery for riders to enjoy. Located at the crossroads of Routes 15 and 20, the rural, rolling roads encircling the hotel lend themselves to two-wheeled exploration.
as a bike wash and towels, bottled water, designated covered motorcycle parking and also a rider-exclusive 15-percent discount off their room rate in addition to the hotel’s extensive line of other features. Riders can fuel their bellies beginning with selections from “Your Morning” Breakfast program, which offers hot items, along with a selection of fresh fruit, yogurt, pastries and other breakfast staples. The free Wall Street Journal can get them up to speed on the day’s top stories.
The question “where shall we ride” has many answers here. Whether hopscotching the vineyards connected by winding roads in and around this region, touring our country’s fourth president, James Madison, Montpelier estate or Monticello, home of Madison’s great friend and our third president, Thomas Jefferson you’ll have a great ride. The National Parks of Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway reside just 30 minutes and 60 minutes away, and the snaking roads linking the hotel to the parks provide entertaining jaunts in their own right. After all the two-wheeled exploring, riders can head back to the colonialstyled Comfort Inn & Suites that serves up hospitality Southern-style. A hallmark of the new hotel is the indoor recreation area that features cypress-wood lined walls surrounding a comfortable, heated, indoor pool and whirlpool spa and a well-outfitted fitness center. There is a meeting room that seats 50, as well as the sunny breakfast dining area. Rider-friendly amenities such
The 58-room upscale limited-service hotel offers various room styles featuring flat-panel television sets and Wi-Fi and hard-wired Internet access throughout the building. Pam and Tim Collins—riders themselves, who opened the hotel in September, 2011—said they quickly recognized the combination of picturesque scenery, twisty roads and numerous attractions made the Orange area a great place for riders to use as a base camp of sorts. “All the roads around here lead through beautiful landscapes to interesting places,” says Tim. “And we intend for our Comfort Inn & Suites to provide a great, comfortable place for riders to enjoy in between all those jaunts,” says Pam. The Comfort Inn & Suites is located at 334 Caroline St., Orange, VA. For more information or to make a reservation please call 540 672/3121 or visit their website at www.comfortinn.com/hotel-orange-virginia-VA657.
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This film highlights the story of Gerard ‘Biscuits’ Baptiste, a young firefighter stationed at FDNY’s Ladder 9, who made the ultimate sacrifice saving the lives of others at the World Trade Center on 9/11. The film depicts the restoration process of the FDNY Dream Bike and the healing powers that come with the work. The restored bike is the culmination of 15 months of work by large corporations, local businesses and individuals who donated time and effort to complete the project. You can get your autographed copy for just $12 + 3 s/h. Mail your check to John Allison, 765 S Sea Shore Ln, Tucson, AZ 85748 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
MEANDERING WITH MARC
How many times have you ridden in your own area? I would bet that answer would be countless. Everybody has their own little routes and roads that they ride but it’s possible, after a while, that they become common and almost routine. But, when you get to see those day-today roads through different eyes you begin to have a renewed appreciation for those old byways. A few months back, when we had that balmy early November, I got a call from our friend Marc. Marc lives north of the border in Canadia and is part of the BMW MOA board. He was down in the Land of the Free to give an Ambassadors Award to a BMW club member in south Jersey and was going to drop by to overnight with us here in the beautiful Skylands region of the Garden State. We always have a bunch of bikes here at Backroads and Marc made sure he had his riding gear stowed in the back of his car. The days leading up to his arrival were quite sunny and warm for November but this day was on the dark “gonna rain at any second” side. But after Marc’s arrival the sun showed up and we geared up. Jumping on the chance to spend an afternoon on the new BMW K1600GT,
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Marc was simply looking for a nice ride. I, on the other hand, was looking to show off to my Canadian friend what northern New Jersey had to offer. After a quick fuel stop we ran down along County Road 519 then looped over towards Swartswood Lake and that twisty snake called County Road 521. My plan was to unload all my guns at once on Marc and ride him through one of the most beautiful parts of New Jersey - the Walpack Valley. This land was taken by the Feds back in the ‘60s for a dam project that never happened and today it is as undeveloped as it comes in New Jersey. Looping down we were greeted by the fact that the road was blocked. Weeks before this mini heat wave began with a freak October snow that tore down many trees. I could only imagine what had happened along the tight tree lined road that runs along the Flat Brook. This road would probably not be open till next spring. Still, that did not deter the big smile on Marc’s face. I think he was digging the region. We doubled back to Blairstown and at the stop sign I told him that this is where they filmed Friday the 13th. Just building up my home in my mind if not his. It was way past lunch so I rerouted us
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MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
Page 52 down through Hope and then north, back on County Road 519. County Road 519 runs along the backbone of New Jersey from a tad east of High Point State Park all the way to Stockton on the Delaware River. The road meanders through forests, farms and tiny town; all the way mimicking the hilly terrain that the Lenape Indians called home for thousands of years. We scooted around the Sussex County Seat of Newton and then down along Augusta Hill Road with its impressive view. I had a little plan here as Shira and I have lobbied for the BMW National rally to be brought to New Jersey and here was my chance to at least semi-impress an MOA Board Member with just what NJ had to offer the rally. At the bottom of the hill Marc exclaimed how stunning the scenery was. I then pointed out that the Sussex Fairgrounds were right down this road. We took a bite to eat at the Chatterbox, another place Marc had heard of but now had a chance to experience. From there we made a quick stop at the Fairgrounds so Marc could get a feel for the facilities and, who knows, maybe one day New Jersey will play host to the BMW National – we can only hope. It was starting to get dark once again and heading back was the plan but not till I got to bring Marc to one last BMW-style attraction. Year’s ago the MOA did a rally in Lima, Ohio and called it Beemerville. Well, don’tcha know it, just a few miles down some tight country roads I brought Marc to the real Beemerville. Beemerville is famous for Space Farms and I don’t think Marc was ready for the buffalo grazing along the roadside.
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Have we got some suggestions for you. Go directly to www.backroadsusa.com and check out the new Moto-Inn Program. Listed by state, all the members actively seek motorcyclists as customers and warmly welcome you. Remember to look for the Moto-Inn logo at these fine establishments and tell them you saw them in BACKROADS.
We did the required BMW shot at the Beemerville Firehouse and then I brought him back on the best part of County Road 519, the part that runs from Beemerville through Branchville; our home town. Back home Marc raved to Shira about how he never knew or imagined that this part of New Jersey would be such a pleasure to ride and explore and for me, seeing it through my friends eyes, I had a whole new admiration and love of this place I call home. Brian Rathjen
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BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
Page 53 Our 2nd night on the road brought us to the Ocean Point Inn... a beautiful waterfront location on the south tip of a peninsula in East Boothbay, ME. The resort was spread out among several buildings along the waterfront, with most of the rooms facing the harbor. Several boats (both pleasure & working lobster rigs) were anchored at moorings, and the ever-present low-toned bellowing of the lighthouse fog horns could be heard about twice per minute. On another occasion, the Ocean Point would be a great place to stay & relax, but I’m here to ride. The lazy days sitting along the sea wall in one of their huge Adirondack chairs will have to wait for another visit. As is customary on the Backroads rallies, Brian & Shira map out a few routes for suggested rides in the area... and one of these was a circuitous loop up to Acadia National Park along the eastern coast of Maine. And as I’d previously read much about Acadia in book & magazine articles, along with a few first-hand accounts from friends who’d been there... it was one of the places I definitely wanted to visit on this trip. As such, it became the “Maine Attraction” for me during the Fiesta. While studying the map before I left home, I took note of the fact that while it was a long route that promised a full day would be spent in the saddle... it enticed me with hints of twisty roads without much traffic. Well I decided to test the theory, and so I left the inn early that morning while most of my fellow riders were still getting their first cup of coffee or eating breakfast. The entire coastal area was still somewhat shrouded by low clouds, but that was perfect for me. Personally, I like that time of day. Not only am I an early riser, but I tend to be a loner by nature... and one of those people who appreciates the contrast of early morning gray clouds against the landscape, and the melancholy mood it puts me in. The roads Brian selected on the route were, of course, “backroads” off of the main highway, and proved to be as advertised: lots of curves, nice elevation changes, great scenery... and very, very little traffic. In fact, in most places there was no one around to see the wide grin on my face inside the helmet, as I leaned into the corners,
The ‘Maine’ Attraction
Tom Watson As a rider who doesn’t really care for the large commercial bike rallies, I always look forward to seeing where Brian & Shira will schedule the next Backroads seasonal meet & greet. Because they’re usually held at locations close to where I live on Long Island, these spring, summer, and fall rallies have become some of my favorite events to attend. Sometimes the rally has a fixed location, and other times it is a rambling affair across the region. Last year’s Fall Fiesta was scheduled to one of the latter... a 6-day New England loop beginning in the Hudson River valley, up into Maine, and then back through New Hampshire & Vermont to the Catskill region of New York. Having never been to Maine before... whenever someone mentioned something about the state to me, I always had instant mental visions of lobster & the color of changing leaves in autumn. Since I’d always wanted to visit... especially in the fall... I began trying to arrange my work schedule so I could attend. While the rambling road show took place over 6 days, my comments here are concentrated on the short time that I spent in the “vacationland” state. Having had the good fortune to attend a few of these rallies in the past, it was good to see & ride with friends from past Backroads trips along the way. Many of us had recently ridden together through the Alps back in July, so it was a good occasion to reminisce together and also share our stories & pictures with those who weren’t fortunate enough to go with us.
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MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
and was occasionally lifted out of my seat while riding those vertical curves that I like to call ‘whoop-dee-doos’. State Route 235 just east of Waldoboro is just one of the roads that fits that description. It runs north and east through the small towns of Union, and then Hope, and all the way to Lincoln Center. About 25 miles in all, it’s lots of fun! Just as the sun began making it’s first appearance of the day, burning through the misty morning fog... I turned south past the Bar Harbor Airport, leaving the solitude & twisty roads behind as I made my approach to Acadia National Park. The park is located on Mount Desert Island... one of the many islands scattered along Maine’s Atlantic border. While the park occupies about half of the island, the main attractions are all situated on the eastern side. Among
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these are the Visitors Center, the Park Loop Road, and the entrance to Cadillac Mountain... the highest point on the Atlantic north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. One could easily spend a few days exploring this beautiful place... but unfortunately for me, I only had a couple of hours at best if I wanted to make it back to our hotel before sundown. With that in mind, I began a simple slow-speed riding tour through the park... stopping every now & then to take pictures. A stop to the Visitors Center should be a first stop to get one’s bearings, and an overview of just what you’ll be seeing. Inside, they have a nice 3-D model of the entire island that you can use to get an appreciation of the terrain and to map out your tour. Oh yeah... while you’re there, don’t forget to get your National Park Passport Book stamped here too!
After getting back on the bike, follow the signs to the Loop Road... a 2-lane, one-way road that runs right along the bluffs of the eastern shoreline. The views are spectacular, and parking in the right lane anywhere along the way is encouraged. The contrast of crystal blue water crashing against the pink-colored rocky bluffs with a forest green background was enough to make me want to stay around for a few hours in that one place... but, of course, I had to move on. A little further along the coast road, there’s even a real sand beach in one of the coves... interestingly enough called Sand Beach. As I pulled into the parking area, I could see many families with their kids set up beside
BACKROADS • MARCH 2012
the water with their chairs & umbrellas, even though the temperature was only in the mid-60s. One of the most popular attractions is, of course, the top of Cadillac Mountain. Like much of the island, it is made up of pink granite, and stands 1,528 feet above sea level overlooking Bar Harbor. Visitors can actually stand on the geographical marker that marks the summit. Because of its height & location on the nation’s northeastern coastline, it’s commonly believed that this site is the first location in the US that the sun’s rays strike each morning. Needless to say, this is a great location for photo opportunities... and everyone you see there has a camera. In fact, while I was there, a cruise ship was anchored in the harbor... and tour buses had brought many of its passengers up to the summit for the photo op. Thinking sunset photos from here would be great, I was again tempted to hang around... but resisted the urge and made my way south, back to our base hotel in East Boothbay. I had planned to stop at a lobster pound along the way to have a late lunch, but I had lingered too long exploring the sights at Acadia. As such, not only did I have to skip lunch, but I needed to take a direct route back along the heavily traveled US-1 through all of the touristy areas along the coast. If you can avoid this, I highly recommend it. The locals are in no hurry, and the traffic volume slows one’s progress appreciatively. Eventually I made my way back to the Ocean Point Inn, where the majority of my fellow riders had spent one of those lazy days I spoke of in the beginning. Some went out riding on a shorter lunch loop, while others simply relaxed by the ocean. By the time the sun went down on another day, we all ended up in the inn’s bar having dinner & drinks while we shared the day’s adventures and watched the final Red Sox game of the season. Yes, that’s right... the Red Sox. After all, we were in New England... and up there, THEY are (were?) the ‘Maine attraction’.
2012 HONDA NC700X THE BIKE WE WANTED TO SEE IN THE UNITED STATES IS HERE As the New York Motorcycle Show began Honda kicked off the new year with another 2012 model that brings a fresh look to the already extensive lineup of new machines. This latest addition, the NC700X, which we thought was a Europe-only machine, features adventurebike styling, an all-new engine tuned for loads of real-world power, plus light and nimble handling thanks to a chassis design that emphasizes mass centralization and a low center of gravity. In addition, the NC700X offers the option of Honda’s unique second-generation automatic Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) and Combined Antilock Braking System together. “This is a really exciting release for 2012 that brings a great new option to Honda’s wide selection of motorcycles and ATVs for the new year,” said Powersports Press Manager Bill Savino. “This is a fun machine that will appeal to all kinds of riders, and with the option of having an automatic Dual Clutch Transmission for unrivaled ease of use, this bike will open the door to many potential newcomers to the sport as well. We are really proud of what the NC700X brings to the table as a motorcycle, but we’re even more enthusiastic about how this bike can help expand interest in motorcycling for a whole new generation of riders.” As you would think Honda will be offering a slew of factory add-ons such as luggage, engine guards and the like making this machine even more desirable. What we especially liked was the base price of $6,999 ($8,999 for the automatic transmission and ABS package) which makes the NC700X an excellent first ride, mid-size tourer or simply a great machine to spend your weekends with. We hope to ride and review the NC700X later this spring and expect the bike at your Honda dealer in the summer.
MARCH 2012 • BACKROADS
RKA LUGGAGE 11-LITER PINE FLAT IN-CHARGE TANK BAG
Sometime smaller is better. When Shira was piloting her R1150R she had a great, if large, RKA Tank Bag. Now riding the smaller F650GS she had found that her old tank bag was impeding her movement. What worked on the larger tank of the R-bike would not work on the small plastic of the F-bike. Since we have had great experience with RKA we went to them asking their thoughts. RKA is owned and operated by Rich and Kathy Battles out in Windsor, California. All of their luggage is designed and handcrafted by them – no mass production here – just quality; and they have been doing it since 1985. They immediately suggested their 11-Liter Pine Flat In-Charge Tank Bag. Shira’s old bag, in addition to carrying all sorts of tiny packable gear, held her Autocom communications system. Rich assured us the smaller 11-liter would do this and handle all of Shira’s other tankbagables too. The bag is constructed from 1000 denier cordura nylon and has ample space measuring 9.5”W x 10”L x 4”H X 7”H. The main compartment of the bag is completely finished and lined. This bag also has a good size front pocket and durable handle for carrying off the bike. Some of that space in this bag has been taken up by a tough velcroed control box that keeps all the communications goodies cozy, together and out of the way. The bag itself is powered by a simple SAE plug that can be attached to your bike’s power in a number of ways, such as straight from the battery to a fuse block as we have on Shira’s bike. This way when the F650 is turned off so is the power to the Pine Flat Bag. The top section of this bag has a netted organizer compartment to hold thinner items, maps, keys, paperwork and rain cover. Atop the bag is a wide and clear map case and atop that is a very neat idea – a base and tracking plate that is created to hold the cradle of your GPS. This tracking plate is also designed so the cradle can be slid from one side to the other depending on your preference. We also have velcroed Shira’s radar detector here. On the left side of the bag are portals to allow the power in and any communication cables to pass easily through as well. All of RKA Tank Bags secure incredibly well. The Pine Flat Bag utilizes four straps keeping the bag stable and put and allows for ease of removal. If you have any questions on installation their website has a number of videos for many different machines, as well as their other fine products. The bag has a nice retro-reflective piping around it for added nighttime conspicuity. The RKA Luggage 11-Liter Pine Flat In-Charge Tank Bag lists for $350 and you can find this and their other bags, luggage and gizmos at www.rka-luggage.com.