Who are Motorcyclists?

Motorcyclists come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds.  There are men and women, young and old.  There are those who were born into a motorcycling family, and those who came upon it on thier own.  One might say that Harley owners all have lots of “disposable income” in order to be able to afford such an expensive luxury, but I have met many a biker for whom that is completely not the case.  A motorcyclist is a motorcyclist deep in the soul, and when that is the case they will make whatever sacrifices are needed in order to feed the need to have their knees in the breeze.

Right here in our moto-blogger community it is evident that motorcyclists come from all different levels of education and many kinds of occupations, such as those listed below:

  • Annuities company employee
  • Assembler of scientific measuring devices
  • Car salesman
  • Coffee shop owner
  • Dental hygienist
  • Interactive art director/web designer
  • Insurance adjuster
  • Motorcycle safety instructor
  • Motorcycle shop owner
  • Photojournalist
  • Plumber
  • Printing Estimator & Purchasing manager
  • Purchasing manager
  • Restaurant server 
  • Teacher – 5th grade
  • Teacher – high school math
  • Truck driver
  • Vehicle test engineer

Now here’s a quiz…   Can you guess which bloggers belong to which occupations?  Check out the motorcycle blogs below, and see if you can match them up!

  1. B.B. – BB’s Road Trip
  2. Becky – Biker Chickz
  3. Crusty – Crusty the Biker
  4. Chessie – Chessie’s Tales, Motorcycles, & Rides
  5. Dean (D-Day) – Musings of a Contemplative Biker
  6. Doug – 40 Years on 2 Wheels
  7. Dave – Road Grits Cafe
  8. Irondad (Dan) – Musings of an Intrepid Commuter
  9. Joker – My Harley-Davidson Mystique
  10. Lady Ridesalot – Glider Rider
  11. Liz – Rippin Kitten
  12. Mark – Mr Motorcycle
  13. Paul – Arizona Harley Dude
  14. Rick – Keep the Rubber Side Down
  15. Ron – Rides, Roads, & Ronman
  16. Stephanie – The Many Thoughts of Harley Girl
  17. Road Captain (Jay) – Road Captain USA
  18. Mrs Road Captain (Diana) – Road Captain USA

First person to get all 18 correct wins a prize. Diana will judge the answers. Send answers to editor@roadcaptainusa.com

Motorcycle ROADCRAFT – Book Review

Motorcycle RoadCraft 

Motor officers are amongst the most well trained motorcycle riders in the world. When a motor officer offers training, endorses a training program or provides information that will make you a better safer rider… the smart thing is to take advantage of the opportunity to learn.

Officer Ruben Torres started blogging about motorcycle safety in November, 2008 at Better Motorcycling. I read this on Ruben’s blog:

Basic police motorcycle was my first real training. It was valuable and I learned much, but it was primarily parking lot practice with no real ‘on the street’ riding. I began to research alternative training that would address street riding.

I discovered the Roadcraft system of motorcycle control. This system is what I was looking for. I found the information to be so valuable that I started writing about it within police circles and then decided I would do whatever to introduce these techniques to as many as would listen.

Ruben was referring to the textbook put out by The Police Foundation and published by the Stationary Office called: Motorcycle ROADCRAFT – the police rider’s handbook to better motorcycling. I was impressed with Ruben’s endorsement and asked him if I could borrow his copy and he was kind enough to mail it to me. Thanks Ruben!

If there is information out there that will make me a better rider, I want it! If there is information out there that will make me a better Road Captain, I want it! If there is valuable information out there for my readers, I want to tell them about it! So I read the book and it is indeed a detailed text book. If you’re not the text book type then this is not for you. If you want to read a text book about a 5 phase system of riding with lots of diagrams and illustrations then this is for you.

I enjoyed Chapter 1 the most. It is called: Becoming a better rider. The rest of the book details the the Roadcraft system. Chapter 1 gets you into a safety mindset like a preride speech before a group ride. It discusses the big picture concept of “attitude” which is probably the single most important factor in deciding who is going to be a good rider and who should trade in their scooter.

I have to give you a heads up; this book is from London, England. There are some important differences which you have to take into consideration such as which side of the road they ride on.

You can order this book at my Amazon.com bookstore where I have pre-selected many of the best motorcycle titles available in books and DVD. Click here to visit my store and click here to get more information on Motorcycle ROADCRAFT.

I Believe I Can Fly – Biker Poetry

Sunshine on my face, wind blowing through my hair
I believe I can fly

96 cubic inches of power rumble between my knees
I believe I can fly

Gliding along a two-lane ribbon of asphalt
I believe I can fly

Cruising in formation with my brothers & sisters
I believe I can fly

Leaning through twisties and s-curves
I believe I can fly

Legs outstretched on highway pegs
I believe I can fly

Tilting wings like Blue Angels rolling through a turn
I believe I can fly

Slaying the Dragon
I believe I can fly

Riding mountain roads that take me through the clouds
I believe I can fly

Reaching the crest of a hill where the road meets the sky
I believe I can fly

Being a part of the scenery, not just an observer passing by
I believe I can fly

Whenever I throw a leg over my Harley
I believe I can fly

A Big HOG Thank You Project

A HOG Chapter can not exist without a Harley-Davidson dealership as their sponsor and a successful HOG Chapter relys on a good relationship with their sponsor. First State HOG enjoys an excellent relationship with their sponsoring dealership: Mike’s Famous Harley-Davidson in New Castle, DE. The 2009 members of First State HOG wanted to show their appreciation to Mike’s Famous Harley-Davidson for all the great things they had been doing for the chapter. We presented our sponsor with a huge custom made decorative mirror emphasizing the MFHD Friends & Family philosophy. Afterall, our HOG Chapter shares a “Friends & Family” relationship not only with our fellow chapter members but many of the staff members at Mike’s Famous.

As a side note, you should also make it a point to thank all your chapter volunteers, officers and the employee’s at your sponsoring dealer who go out of their way to be involved with chapter functions. You can do this by presenting them with special certificates and volunteer pins available through HOG.

To make the above mentioned mirror we found a decorative mirror that needed a home. Diana made a design utizing the MFHD chevron logo and one of the HOG logo’s. She added some flames and it came out pretty cool! She amazes me everyday with her hidden talents! We e-mailed the design to one of our members who had a Cricut Machine. This is an amazing little machine that cuts stencils. She used it to chemically etch the mirror. The etching came out incredible!

I built a custom frame for the mirror like a shadowbox to give it bulk and depth. I fitted it with bolts to make it look industrial. I painted it with the same orange paint used to make our Chili Cook-off trophies. Below are pictures in case you want to make something similar. See my trophy post for more information on the paint color.

build frame

paint frame

insert mirror and apply hanging wire

reinforce corners

Insert bolts

finished product

Biker Chili Cook-off Trophies

Back in 2008 Joker wrote a post about the Blackstone HOG Winter Chili Cook-off in Massachusetts between HOG Chapters. That inspired me to have the 1st Annual First State HOG Chili Cook-off last February. Diana bought me a Craftsman Router Table  and Router for my birthday and I used it to make the plaques for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.

base and deck painted orange

This year I kicked it up a notch by making trophies. I used some scrap wood for the base and top deck. I used the router to put a decorative edge on them. The base is a 5.5″ x 9″ rectangle and the top deck is a 5.5″ square. I painted them with Valspar “Autumn Blaze” 2002-1 Semi Gloss from Lowe’s.

pvc spray painted black 

I purchased two 2′ lengths of 2″ diameter PVC pipe and painted them with flat black spray paint. I cut them to 10″, 8″ and 6″ with my Craftsman Power Mitre Saw that Diana bought me for a housewarming present when I bought my house.

Cut the PVC to 10? 8? and 6?

base rod washers and nuts

I purchased one 12″ long threaded rod, two washers and two nuts for each tropy (1/4″ diameter). I drilled a big hole using a 7/8″ drill bit on the bottom of the base just deep enough to sink the washer and nut. Then I finished the hole all the way through with a 5/16″ bit, I drilled all the way through the top decks with the same bit. The bolt should have wriggle room unless you can make the drill holes perfectly vertical. If you can do that then go ahead and use the 1/4″ bit. Maybe I should have used my drill press. Maybe a tight fit with perfectly vertical drill holes would have made assembly easier. Now that I think of it, another set of washer and nut to secure the bolt to the base would have worked twenty times better. I wish I thought of that before!

drill hole in upper deck

tin can

We ate four cans of canned corn with dinner over a two night period and saved the cans. Took the labels off and washed them. Punched a 1/4″ hole in the bottoms using a nail and hammer to start the hole. Then a phillips head screw driver to make it bigger and then a nail set to finish the hole. Try to get the metal to point down rather than in.

Connect the pieces

inside the can view

under the base view

The next step is to connect the can on top to the top deck with the Base on the bottom with the PVC pipe sandwiched between the base and top deck. A washer and nut go under the base in the sink hole and a washer and nut go inside the can. Getting everything lined up and tightened up is a little tricky. Maybe wingnuts for inside the can would have worked better. Had to use small needle nose Irwin Vice Grips, 7/16″ crescent wrench, and 7/16″ nut driver to get the job done. I didn’t break out my socket set but a 7/16″ socket would have come in handy.

Diana made labels for the cans that have a diamond plate background. She mounted the labels using 3M Super 77 Multipurpose Adhesive in a spray can to glue the labels to the cans. The final touch is to glue a #1, #2 and #3 on the base. I got the numbers at A.C. Moore. they are 3.5″ high and cost $1.29 each. I painted them white and used Elmer’s Carpenter’s Interior Wood Glue to adhere them to the base.

the numbers

The trophies came out great! Now I’m thinking about how to step it up another notch for next year.

cropped off trophy

Bike to Bike Communication Systems Part 1

J&M CB Radio from Cycle Accessory Store

I currently do not have a communication device on my motorcycle but believe that bike to bike communication is way under valued. It is my belief that in the near future bike to bike communication using compact wireless helmet mounted bluetooth technology will become the norm and we will wonder how he got along without it. Something as simple as pulling over because you got some dust in your eye could be easily communicated to your buddy or group. Instead we usually tough it out and do the best we can until the irritation goes away, unless of course you ride by yourself. In that case you do whatever you please whenever you please.

I once went on an ice cream ride with my HOG Chapter where a member from another chapter joined us. He rode without putting any eyewear on. This is illegal and dangerous. I couldn’t tell if this was the way he liked to ride or not. I kept telling myself that it was not my problem, that if he wanted to pull over and put his eyewear on, then it was up to him. There were plenty of opportunities for him to do so but because he was new to the group he didn’t speak up. If I had a CB I could have called up to the lead Road Captain on his Ultra Classic and notified him of the situation to get his oppinion. After we got to the ice cream stop it became known that it was a mistake and he should have let us know he needed to pull over. If we could all communicate I think the experience of riding with a friend or a group of friends would be a hundred times safer and ten times more fun.

Here is a post on Motorcycle Philosophy about the impact of having to take a rest stop while riding with people who don’t take rest stops. Click here to check it out and think how different it would be if these riders could communicate.

Even though I think newer technologies will become the norm, the CB Radio will be more common for quite awhile among cruisers since most touring bikes are already outfitted with them. The sportbike crowd might adapt to FRS Radio and new technologies sooner because they are all on a level playing field. For those of us in the Harley crowd, many of our friends are already outfitted with CB on their Ultra Classics. My wife has done alot of research on the Internet and has only found one handlebar mounted CB Radio specifically for motorcycle use. It is the J&M model and can be ordered as a complete system from www.CycleAccessoryStore.com in North Carolina. Diana ordered a $600 J&M CB Radio system from them for my 2008 Christmas present but; I stupidly exchanged it for two Chatterbox FRS units. The Chatterbox system was half the price of the J&M and was supposed to be voice activiated. I thought that the hands free VOX system would be better than PTT (Push to Talk). Although the FRS radios wouldn’t allow us to communicate with our friends on CB I thought it was more important that Diana and I be able to communicate. The Chatterbox units we received didn’t work well at all and I returned them directly to Chatterbox for a full refund under warranty assuming this is not the way they are supposed to function (defective). I didn’t believe that replacements would work much better. I was tempted to buy the bluetooth Scala Rider system from www.CycleAccesoryStore.com (they have great customer service). At the moment this system is limited to communication between two bikes only. It is the most compact lightweight unit I have seen. It is a little egg shaped device you clip on your helmet. “Look Ma, No wires!”

It is winter time again and I find myself surfing the Net for an affordable compact CB capable of being rigged up to a motorcycle. The J&M is considered the top of the line but it is expensive, unattractive and might not be compatable with my split view mirrors. I came across the Midland 75-822 which appears to be the second most most compact CB radio on the market. It is a complete 40 channel CB radio system in a small handheld unit. It will accept a variety of accessory headsets. The Cobra 75 WX ST is smaller but I do not know if you can attach an accesory headset to it.

Midland CB 75-822 

The Midland 75-822 can be used as a portable (like a walkie talkie) or changes to a mobile unit. It has a belt clip, two battery attachments, a detachable antenna and the mobile attachment. The normal battery attachment holds 6 standard AA batteries. The rechargeable battery attachment holds 8 NiCad rechargeable AA batteries and comes with a plug to charge them up. It also comes with a short flexable detachable walkie talkie size antenna. The mobile attachment has connections for a base mount antenna and cigarette lighter plug. The idea is you can us this CB as a mobile unit in your car, jeep or truck and then take it with you as a portable outside the vehicle. Imagine using it to go on a camping trip. You can use it in the vehicle and then stay in touch with other users and listen to NOAA weather reports from your tent. You can use my 12 Volt Power Port to connect the cigarette lighter plug to your battery tender quick connect on a motorcycle. That means you just gotta figure out how to mount the base antenna and where to keep the radio. You might just want to clip it on your belt. It would be really cool if the little antenna worked well and you didn’t need the base antenna… but I doubt it. We’ll find out when it gets a little warmer. You can find this radio on eBay and Amazon.com for less than $90.

A company called www.HiTechWireless.com sells a motorcycle headset that is compatable with the Midland 75-822. It is called RiderComm and is made by RocketScience. You need to order it with the S1 connector. It is currently on sale for $89.95 and includes the headset with boom microphone, weatherproof PTT button and connecting cables. They told me the only customer complaint they hear is the length of the cables isn’t as long as some people would like and there are no extensions available. I bought the unit from HiTech Wireless and it arrived the next day via Federal Express. I was impressed considering there was no shipping or handling charge.

I bought the Midland CB with a Cobra 300 watt magnetic base antenna from Amazon for $101.72 with Free Super Saver Shipping and received the merchandise in about three days. Click here for more details on the Midland 75-822 CB radio at my Amazon store.

Now I am off to surf the Net for a magnetic tank bag to stash the radio in. “Hang Loose!”