BikeBandit Guest Blogger Series: My Lifelong Journey of Finding My Perfect Bike

When I take the time to look back over my life, and realize the vast number of bikes I have owned, I am amazed at how fortunate I have been to ride as many motorcycles as I have. At 63 years young, I can still vividly remember something special and unique about each of the bikes I’ve owned, regardless of the actual amount of time they were in my possession.

I got my first bike when I was in college in 1974. It was a Yamaha 350 – orange & black. It was my vehicle of choice around campus, with the occasional 200 mile trip home. I was new to motorcycles, and learned a lot from this bike. It was an eye-opening experience when someone showed me how to remove the baffles from the pipes and then I started it up for the first time. My bike had transformed from a street bike to a “Chopper”… (At least in my mind).

After a year or so with the Yamaha, a friend of mine offered me his Honda 500-4 that he was selling. Going from a 2 cylinder to a 4… going from 2 pipes to 4, and going to a true “Chopper” style bike, complete with high rise handlebars (at that time I wasn’t familiar with the term “ape hangers”) was more of a temptation than I could take, so I sold the Yamaha and bought the Honda. I had the Honda for several years, and it saw my first marriage and my first child, while it was a part of the family. It finally reached the point where I was working on it more than I was riding it, so I made an offer to one of our neighbors and it was his.

Perfect Bike - Darrell Holladay
The Yamaha 650 wasn’t the perfect bike for me but it filled the void so I could still enjoy the open road with my wife.

After the Honda, I went back to Yamaha again. This time it was a 650 – 2 cylinder…again, set up like a chopper. Fast and low, but not the most comfortable bike in the world. We had found a great babysitter, so one of our favorite things to do was to just hop on the bike and ride — we didn’t really care where. That year, when I took my one week of vacation, we spent 4 of the days on the bike. We didn’t have a lot of money then, and couldn’t afford any hotels, so we had my Mother-in-Law watch our son for 4 days. On Monday, we headed west and ended up back home after dark. The next day we headed south, again not making it back until well after 10:00pm. That scenario repeated itself for East & North. Other than the gas and the very modest meals we ate while we were out, that was the total cost and extent of our vacation. To this day, it’s one of my best vacation memories.

The next bike is the only “hiccup” in this equation, which requires just a bit of explanation. I sold the 650 to a friend who had been trying to buy it from me and replaced it with a Yamaha 250 Enduro!!! Here’s why. My father, who was 50 at the time, decided he wanted a motorcycle. Had never had one before, and as far as I knew, had never ridden one before. A friend of a friend had this “great” deal, and it was perfect for a “first time” rider. Dad bought the bike and had it delivered to his house. He was going to ride it around the neighborhood, until he got used to it, and then go for his test. After three weeks, the bike was still sitting in the same place. I found out he couldn’t even get it started!! No electric start back then, and he had just decided that this “wasn’t for him”. I personally think that the “wanting” the bike turned out to be better than “having” the bike. He made me an “offer I couldn’t refuse” and I ended up with the 250. My only memories of this bike were “Why did I agree to buy this??” The one advantage of a bike that size — both of my kids rode on the tank, in front of me, for their first bike rides…..

Without going into a long, boring detail on each of my bikes, let me just list the ones (that I can remember) that got me to where I am now………

  • 1978 Kawasaki 750
  • Honda 750F
  • Honda 750K
  • 1978 Gold Wing
  • 1984 Gold Wing – 2 (red one and a blue one)
  • 1988 Vulcan 750
  • 1997 Honda Shadow 1100
  • 2004 Yamaha Virago
Perfect Bike - Darrell Holladay
The Honda 750F had to have been one of my best investments and shortest time to own a bike….. EVER.

Before I get to my last bike, a very interesting thing happened with the Honda 750F. I had been looking for a bike for several weeks, and came across this one. We negotiated the price, and I ended up giving him $800 and riding the bike home. We stopped at the bank and got the title notarized. This was when the banks were open on Saturday mornings. I had it sitting in my driveway, starting my “anal” cleaning process, when A guy drove by in a truck with Tennessee tags (we lived in Austin, IN). He stopped, rolled down the window, and said “Nice bike. Is it for sale?” I just replied that no, it wasn’t for sale, and drove on his way. About 15 minutes later he was back and again asked me if I was SURE the bike wasn’t for sale. I laughed and told him that I had just brought it home, and that I was quite sure it wasn’t for sale. He looked over the bike, thanked me for my time, and drove off again. I was still thinking how unusual that encounter had been, when I look up and the same truck is coming back down the street. He stops again, gets out and walks up to me and says – “I’m from Tennessee. I really like your bike, and I’d like to take it home with me. What is it going to take for you to sell it to me?” I sat there just looking at him, and he said “Just quote me a price, at least.” Without thinking about it too much, and realizing that if he wanted the bike THAT badly, I could start with a ridiculous price, I doubled what I just paid and told him “$1,600”. He said that he appreciated me giving him a price… reached in his wallet and pulled out sixteen $100 bills… and asked me if I could help him load it into his truck!!!! When I told him the title has been notarized by the seller, but that I didn’t have a title in my name, he looked at the title and said it wouldn’t be a problem. He drove off with the bike and the title, and I walked inside with $1,600 in my hand. My wife looked at me and asked “Where’s the bike?”

Perfect Bike - Darrell Holladay
She’s likely the last motorcycle that I’ll ever own and is perfect for me. It took me years to find “the one” and once I did, I’ve given her the personal touches that make it the perfect bike for me.

And that brings this story to the present day. In 2014 I was in a position to buy my 2007 Honda VTX 1800-T.

When I bought the bike, it only had 523 miles on it…. in SEVEN years!!!! I bought it bone stock, and over the last 4 years I have added, changed, upgraded and customized this bike until it is an absolute reflection of ME…. My wife buys me one thing each year, either for my bike or for my gun collection. For the last three years, the gifts have been – 1) Honda Line light bar; 2) Progressive 430 shocks; and most recently 3) Ultimate Big Boy seat combination. I realize how fortunate I am to have this bike, and to be in a position to dress it up to suit my fancy. This will be the last bike I own… until I’m either too old to ride, or not strong enough to hold it up… and then I might downsize to a smaller bike or even a trike.
But for now… needless to say…I am one happy biker…..

Honda Announces 2019 Honda CRF450L

This is the bike so many have been waiting for. The one serious riders have dreamed about. A true street-legal dirtbike that offers the reliability, refinement and quality of a Honda, along with the light weight, handling, and power of our best off-road machines. Introducing the new 2019 CRF450L.

Developed in tandem with the all-new 2019 CRF450X, it features a powerful 449cc Unicam engine, twin-spar aluminum CRF chassis, six-speed transmission, and premium suspension. Electric start? Naturally. All-LED lighting package? Of course. Until now, you’ve always had to choose between performance and reliability. No longer—with the CRF450L, you get the best of both worlds. And “best” is a word you’re going to hear a lot when you’re talking about this bike.

The CRF450L is equipped with a catalytic converter and is fully street legal in all 50 states. That means you can ride it wherever it’s legal to operate a motor vehicle—in state and national parks, on the road, on public lands. Plus, you don’t need to haul your bike to the trailhead in a truck or on a trailer. Best of all, it makes finding gas a breeze.

An electric start system ensures trouble-free starting in all conditions. The electric starter also drives the clutch side of the crankshaft to provide superior lubrication to starter gears while producing a narrow engine with a short, strong crank.

Honda’s Unicam cylinder heads combine the best of single- and double-overhead-cam designs. The configuration contributes to a compact engine that saves weight over a comparable dual-overhead-camshaft motor and also permits a narrow included valve angle. This flattens the combustion chamber to facilitate ignition flame propagation, allowing a high compression ratio. Since less space is taken up in the cylinder head, the camshaft sits lower in the head for a more compact engine and a lower center of gravity.

Like our CRF450X, the CRF450L rocks a six-speed gearbox. That gives you a low gear perfect for tight, slow situations, and a top gear that’s tall enough for highway riding to the next gas stop or trailhead.

2019 CRF450L SPECIFICATIONS

  • ENGINE

Engine Type

449cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke

Bore And Stroke

96mm x 62.1mm

Compression Ratio

12.0:1

Valve Train

Unicam OHC, four-valve

Induction

Programmed Fuel Injection (PGM-FI), 46mm downdraft throttle body

Ignition

Fully transistorized with electronic advance

  • DRIVE TRAIN

Transmission

Close-ratio six-speed

Final Drive

#520 Chain

  • CHASSIS / SUSPENSION / BRAKES

Front Suspension

49mm leading-axle inverted telescopic Showa coil-spring fork with rebound and compression damping adjustability

Rear Suspension

Pro-Link Showa single shock with adjustable spring preload, rebound and compression damping adjustability

Front Brake

Single 260mm disc with twin-piston caliper

Rear Brake

Single 240mm disc

Front Tire

IRC GP21 80/100-21 w/tube

Rear Tire

IRC GP22 120/80-18 w/tube

  • DIMENSIONS

Wheelbase

58.9 inches

Rake (Caster Angle)

28° 20′

Trail

4.6 inches

Seat Height

37.1 inches

Ground Clearance

12.4 inches

Fuel Capacity

2.01 gallons

Curb Weight

289 pounds (Includes all standard equipment, required fluids and full tank of fuel—ready to ride.)

Miles Per Gallon

TBD

  • OTHER

Available Colors

Red

Model ID

CRF450L

BikeBandit Guest Blogger Spotlight: Ted Edwards

It wasn’t long ago that we put out an open call for guest bloggers to help create unique content for our readers to enjoy. To my surprise we got an overwhelming response from people that wanted to share their experiences with the rest of the BikeBandit.com community. A few have submitted a single story that left an impression on readers but we’ve also had a few that submitted stories that sparked something inside them to keep pounding the keys. One of these contributors is Ted Edwards.

When I read his first story, “The Observer Effect,” I knew we had a writer that was truly passionate about what he was doing. What made it even better was that we readers could tell that he enjoyed this with a very close knit group of riders, which included both his father and his son. We could also tell that our readers were really receptive to his stories from the amount of comments that were being left as well. With that kind of reception, it wasn’t long before Ted wanted to share even more of his 2-wheel adventures with “When Going Wrong, Goes Right” Right out of the gate this was another hit with our readers.

Guest Blogger Spotlight - Ted Edwards
Say hello to the Mild Hogs.

Knowing that we had two hit stories, I wanted to follow up with the Honda VFR fanatic out of Wenatchee, WA to see who the man behind the helmet was. His passion for riding motorcycles started around the time when he was 9 years old on an old Honda Trail 90. He questions whether or not he was even that old when he first threw a leg over a motorcycle. “Ever since that day, I’ve been hooked and it’s something I love to do.” If you live in the Pacific Northwest and hear the sound of a Honda VFR, it might just be Ted out with riding group the Mild Hogs. He’s been chronicling their misadventures and is even the current VP of its offshoot, the Wild Rose Squad.

Guest Blogger Spotlight - Ted Edwards
Ahh… The Honda VFR. It’s V-4 engine make a great exhaust tone that Ted loves to hear when he’s able to crack the throttles open and let the motorcycle stretch its legs.

If you’ve not figured it out, he has a fond love for his Honda VFR and the distinctive sound of its V-4 exhaust notes when he’s given the opportunity to twist the throttle and let it stretch its legs. It’s obvious he’s a motorcycle nut, but what does he do when the roads are covered or it’s too cold to get out and ride? Is it possible for it to be too cold?

He’ll be the first to admit that even with his heated gear that it can get too cold to be flying out on the open road so he takes up skiing during the winter months. He’s actually a ski patroller at one of his local ski resorts, which has its benefits when he’s out on the highway during the warmer months. “In my experience as a ski patroller, I’ve seen and had to tend to many various injuries. This is good because in the event that something happens out on the highway, I’ve been exposed to the trauma side of things and am capable of handling some medical emergencies if the situation ever arises.” His other interest include going to the gym, hiking, camping, spending time with his family, which includes his chocolate lab, writing and even wrenching on his ’66 convertible Mustang.

Guest Blogger Spotlight - Ted Edwards
Ted snapped this pic of the Lima Mountains on his way to KLIM HQ for a tour of the facilities as he was road testing some of their new Latitude gear for us here at BikeBandit.

I personally am a fan of his stories. He gives great detail, but does it in a way that is very entertaining and makes me feel that I’m missing out by being behind a desk and not out on the open road. I was really curious as to whether or not he has a favorite riding trip that trumps all the others. “Honestly the best trip is one that I just returned from. I was given the opportunity to review a set of Klim Latitude pants and jacket, which snowballed into a 4-day motorcycle trip where I rode out to Klim HQ in Rigby, ID, was given a tour of the facility and got to spend time with Dustin Pancheri their Brand Training Manager. I rode some of the most beautiful roads in the west, camped in freezing conditions, saw how some of the best gear ever gets tested and got an amazing set of gear for all of my future endeavors. Sure the free gear is great, but overall the experience is the best thing about it. Honestly as long as I’m on the road exploring, I am in my element. I just hope to get the opportunity to travel in other countries sometime.”

Guest Blogger Spotlight - Ted Edwards
While he appears like Top Gears silent test driver The Stig, he’s far more approachable and is always willing to talk shop.

One of my final questions to Ted was, “What is your dream bike?” I could have guessed his answer but he elaborated. “My dream motorcycle would be my 5 Gen Honda VFR bumped up to 1000cc with about 30 more HP and 20 more ft lbs of torque, built in beverage cooler and a trailer hitch so I can pull my personal taco truck behind me on trips. Are you listening Honda? I know you can make this happen!” We also know that he’s a beer connoisseur, so we’re guessing that taco cart might have a kegerator for those overnight stops.

What it comes down to is that Ted is an average ordinary guy that like you or me that shares our passion for riding motorcycles. He even recounted a recent experience where he was recognized by someone who had read one of his pieces we posted to our site.

“So, I just went to lunch with our team. While I was handing my plate to the fry cook at our Mongolian grill, he paused, looked at me and said, “Hey, are you Ted Edwards?”
“Yeah,” I replied puzzled.
“You write for Bike Bandit, right? I just read your article about going to Canada and having your bikes break down the whole time.”
Stunned silence on my part.
We then chatted about the other stories, his upcoming bike purchase and he asked me for some gear recommendations, to which I could give him plenty, but I kept it short so I could keep the line moving. And I was hungry.”

He’s approachable and willing to talk about all things riding related…. Even when he’s hungry. He’s also made it clear that if you leave a comment after one of his stories, he will personally respond because if you’ve taken the time to write, he’ll do the same in return. This is especially helpful when his gear reviews start to get posted.

Do you want to be a guest blogger like Ted? We can’t guarantee any kind of celebrity status, but we can assure you that you’ll have a great audience that loves to do what you do. You can also get the opportunity to test and KEEP some great gear when we have it available to test. Send an email to [email protected] and put GUEST BLOGGER in the subject line and we’ll follow up with you on how to get you on your path to stardom.

Moose Racing Hybrid Peg Review

I have been testing the Moose Hybrid Peg with the 1/2″ offset on our 2018 KTM 350XC-F project bike. My goal is to lower and move back the peg position because my knees are cramped with the stock KTM pegs.

Moose Hybrid Footpegs with 1/2″ Offset
Product testing on 2018 KTM 350xc-f in Baja

Here is my video review

The Good:

  • Wide platform
  • Good grip, feel
  • Sturdy construction

The Bad:

      • Not as far offset as advertised
      • Outside cleats seem far too tall and sharp, need modified
      • Heavier than OEM KTM pegs

There are available for all full size KTM’s. 2017 and newer models are a new design. The old style KTM pegs fit all full size models back to 1991.

Pastrana To Recreate Evel Knievel Jumps

Nitro Circus and Indian Motorcycle, America’s first motorcycle company, announced today that Travis Pastrana will be jumping an Indian Scout FTR750 when he looks to pay tribute to Evel Knievel, the founding father of motorcycle stunts, and surpass America’s most iconic daredevil.

“Evel Live”, an unprecedented three-hour live event premiering Sunday, July 8th at 8PM ET/ 5PM PT on HISTORY® in partnership with Nitro Circus, will see Travis Pastrana attempt three of Knievel’s most famed jumps on the Scout FTR750, including jumping the length of 52+ crushed cars, 16 Greyhound buses, and the ill-fated Caesars Palace fountain jump that left Knievel grasping for his life. If successful, Pastrana will be the first individual to complete all three jumps in one three-hour timespan and on a motorcycle similar to those Evel used.

The Indian Scout FTR750 is a flat track racing motorcycle designed to push the boundaries of speed and redefine control with two wheels firmly on the ground. Rewinding time, you find the motorcycles Evel jumped were designed for similar purposes. However, neither were intended for jumping.

“It was extremely important to use a motorcycle similar to the ones Evel jumped. The Indian Scout FTR 750 is just that, a modern-day evolution of the flat track motorcycles of the past,” said Pastrana. “It has the power I need and handles well, but I’m only going to have a few days to get comfortable on it, not to mention I’ve never jumped a V-twin before. I’ve got my work cut out, but we’re used to going big at Nitro Circus, so we’ll make it happen.”

The Indian Scout FTR750 is far different from the lightweight motocross bikes you would typically find Travis Pastrana jumping. The engine of the FTR750 features a powerful 750cc 53-degree V-Twin and utilizes 43mm conventional front suspension with an adjustable Ohlin’s mono-shock on the rear. Introduced in the American Flat Track racing series in 2017, the Indian Scout FTR750 secured 14 victories along with the manufacturer’s and rider’s championship in its first year of competition.

“We couldn’t be more excited for Travis to be piloting the Scout FTR750 as he looks to make history by recreating three of Evel Knievel’s most historic jumps in a single evening,” said Reid Wilson, Senior Director, Marketing and Product Development for Indian Motorcycle. “Evel Knievel is truly a global icon, and we’re proud to be a part of this incredible event that pays homage to his legacy in such grand fashion.”

Will Travis Pastrana successfully complete all three jumps on the Indian Scout FTR 750? Tune-in to HISTORY on Sunday, July 8th at 8PM ET/ 5PM PT to find out.

To learn more about the Indian Scout FTR750 and Travis Pastrana’s attempt to make history with it on “Evel Live,” as well as for periodic updates leading up to the event, visit IndianMotorcycle.com or follow along on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

# # #

Dunlop’s New Q4 High Performance Track Day Tire

Dunlop Expands Sportmax Line with the Addition of the Track-Day High-Performance Q4

Buffalo, NY: Here’s the first thing you need to know about Dunlop’s all-new Sportmax Q4®: This purpose-built track day tire achieves lean angles up to 62 degrees*, more than any other street-legal tire Dunlop has ever made.

Utilizing technology shared by Dunlop’s cutting-edge MotoAmerica road race tires, the Q4 is made in Dunlop’s Buffalo, New York, plant on the same proprietary equipment as the racing products. Only Dunlop makes sport tires in America.

The Q4 is not a replacement for Dunlop’s popular Q3+, but instead adds depth to the Sportmax family lineup to accommodate track-day-level riding like no other Dunlop DOT street tire has before.

The Sportmax Q4 will be sold through all Dunlop retailers, as well as race distributors, so it’s easily accessible to all riders.

At a glance, the all-new Q4 features:

  • Dunlop sportmax q4Bold on-tread branding that’s remarkably detailed.
  • New tread pattern with low groove density that puts down a massive footprint, especially during maximum lean angles.
  • Street-friendly performance—does not require tire warmers, and minimizes the need for chassis adjustments.
  • Designed in new sizes such as 180/60ZR17 and 200/55ZR17 to work on sport bikes with sophisticated electronics packages. These new sizes also offer a more aggressive profile option for track use for many sport bikes.
  • The rear tire features Dunlop’s Jointless Tread (JLT) technology, the same process used in Dunlop’s racing slicks. JLT applies a continuously wound tread strip over the carcass to achieve the ideal stability, flex, and grip across the tire’s tread profile.
  • Dunlop’s proprietary Carbon Fiber Technology (CFT) in the sidewalls for even greater stability.
  • Dunlop’s proprietary Intuitive Response Profile (IRP) for ultra-linear and responsive steering.

Availability
The Sportmax Q4 will be available in May 2018 in an expanded size range to cover a variety of Japanese and European sport bikes.

Sportmax Q4 Front
Size (Load Speed)
120/70ZR17 (58W)

Sportmax Q4 Rear
Size (Load Speed)
180/55ZR17 (73W)
180/60ZR17 (75W)
190/50ZR17 (73W)
190/55ZR17 (75W)
200/55ZR17 (78W)

*As tested by Dunlop on a 2017 Suzuki GSX-R 1000 RR on a closed track at Barber Motorsports Park.

About Dunlop Motorcycle Tires
Dunlop is the largest supplier and manufacturer of original equipment and replacement motorcycle tires in the U.S.A. For more information, visit www.dunlopmotorcycletires.com.

KTM Announces 300xc-w TPI and 150xc-w For 2019

KTM’s announces 2019 offroad lineup that will include the new 150xc-w and expansion of the TPI lineup. The 300xc-w will join last years revolutionary 250xc-w TPI.

2019 KTM 150xc-w

 

Thanks to a long history as part of the foundation of the company and with many milestones achieved in producing READY TO RACE, world-beating enduro machines, KTM’s strive for excellence has ensured the orange brand remains the market-leader in the segment with the KTM XC-W and EXC-F lineup. Last year the Austrian manufacturer announced the world’s first serial-production, fuel-injection 2-stroke offroad competition machines with the KTM 250 XC-W TPI and KTM 300 XC-W TPI models that have taken the possibilities of enduro to new heights, whilst complimenting the high-quality, high-performing 4-stroke models within the range.

2019 KTM 300xc-w TPI

However, the KTM R&D department in Mattighofen never rests; the latest generation of KTM XC-W enduros and EXC-F models receive updates for model year 2019 with improved WP fork settings, and a reworked WP shock absorber with a re-designed main piston and settings for improved, confidence-inspiring damping characteristics. A new seat cover, stronger battery and new graphics with a READY TO RACE factory-looking orange frame compliment the high-quality Brembo brakes, No-Dirt footpegs, NEKEN handlebar, CNC-milled hubs with high-end black Giant rims and more that comes as standard on these championship-winning machines.

For model year 2019, the KTM 150 XC-W 2-stroke, designed for closed-course use, receives a new cylinder with a machined exhaust port and a new power valve for high-end performance. An optimized kick-starter seat along with an ultra-compact, newly designed DS clutch with a new clutch cover reduces overall engine width over previous models. In addition, a re-worked 6-speed transmission offers better function and improved reliability.

2019 KTM 500exc

“The last two years have been incredibly exciting for our Enduro machine development here at KTM. A brand new ground-breaking generation for model year 2017 that had been re-designed from the ground up, followed by a world first for model year 2018 thanks to the serial-production fuel-injection 2-stroke offroad competition models with the KTM 250 XC-W TPI and KTM 300 XC-W TPI; it’s been an incredibly fast-moving but fruitful few years in terms of development for this segment in which we remain the market leaders. Model year 2019 sees some key adjustments across all models, along with more in-depth refinements for our KTM 150 XC-W machines. As we step into a new era of enduro as a whole, we are looking forward to the latest KTM XC-W models reaching dealer floor,” commented KTM Senior Product Manager Offroad,” Joachim Sauer.

BikeBandit Guest Blogger Series: Honda’s 2018 Gold Wing and The Opinion of A Gold Wing Diehard

Doing some research on the new Gold Wing and listening to the opinions of current Gold Wing riders, reading the cycle magazine tests and comparisons, talking with close Gold Wing riding friends and following the GL1800 forum I have formed an opinion and overview that may help you think differently about the new 2018 GL1833 and I would like to share.

 

2018 Honda Goldwing - James Casey
To say that touring is in my blood is an understatement. I was 17 for my first touring adventure and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Thru the years I grown up with the Gold Wing. I have owned 3 1977 GL1000s, a 1983 GL1100, a 1996 GL1500, a 97 Valkyrie, and an 01, 03, and 05 GL1800. My current bikes are the 05 GL1800 and the 97 Valkyrie (I have put over 100,000 miles on the Valk). These are just the Gold Wings I have owned. I started touring in 1972 on a 1971 CB750. I had added a Wixom Fairing and Bates Bags. In the summer of 72 a buddy of mine and I did 3000 miles thru California. From Tucson to San Diego, up the coast to San Francisco, then to Lake Tahoe and down thru Yosemite NP. Then back to San Diego and back home to Tucson. I was 17 years old and that trip totally hooked me on touring. I was at Tucson Honda when they rolled the first 1975 GL1000 off the truck and I knew I had to have one. I had 2 other CB750s before I was able to buy my first 77 GL1000. Had to mention this so that you would understand that I know a bit about touring.

Years later after my first test ride on the 01 GL1832 I went home and put my GL1500 up for sale. I bought one of the first ABS GL1832s in Denver Vin #000043 in Jan 2001.

Now thinking about the NEW GL1833 and hearing views and comments across the board from “I love it” to “Not for me “ I have to share with you my thoughts. This Gold Wing was not built for the aging Gold Wing rider. The GWRRA which I have been a member for 19 years has aged significantly. If you put in a search for a Gold Wing on eBay 70% of what shows up are trikes. If Honda wanted to build a bike for that demographic the new Gold Wing would have had 3 wheels.

I am still riding strong at 63 years of age. I keep in shape by working out, golfing, snowboarding, and bicycling. I hope to have another 10-12 years of 2 wheel Motorcycling. This new Wing was designed for the younger rider moving up to Touring. Much the way I was looking for that “bigger, better, faster, smoother” tourer after my CB750s. They may have started with a Sport Bike. Then they went to a Sport Tourer. Now they are looking for something for touring cross country and it’s “Not your Fathers Gold Wing.” Look at what is happening at Harley Davidson (YouTube… HD sales). They are closing the plant in Kansas City. Their base doesn’t like change but they are an aging breed also, and they are having a problem with who to target for more sales.

The manufactures are looking for their next target audience. Think back to when most of the 50-65 year olds started touring. We dressed a 750 or a Gold Wing. As we aged the manufactures targeted us. They added fairings and integrated the bags and trunk into the body. Well 50% of that audience is now gone (aging out or riding trikes) what would you do??

2018 Honda Goldwing - James Casey
When I had to give up my Gold Wing for a time, this Valkyrie satiated my 2-wheeled needs till I could get another GL.

I think the new Gold Wing GL1833 is awesome. You will always hear negatives as you did when the GL1832 first came out. I have always said that it should be a pre-requisite that the Gold Wing buyers should also own a Valkyrie or a VTX or some other kind of “Motorcycle” as I do. In 2003 when I sold my 01 GL1832 (financial/new business situation) I bought my Valkyrie (which I fell in love with) to get me thru until I could buy another Wing.

2018 Honda Goldwing - James Casey
Is the Honda Gold Wing the perfect touring bike? Some people may say no, but I disagree and can’t wait till I can get in the saddle of a new one for my next long haul.

After riding the Valkyrie that summer I came to the realization that Honda had built the perfect Touring Motorcycle. The GL1832. Those Gold Wing riders who were complaining about “My leg gets hot” or “the wind hits my hands” were totally spoiled. Go ride any other motorcycle for half a summer and then get back on your Gold Wing and tell me you have room to complain. I had to wait a few years until I could buy another Wing because I wanted to keep the Valkyrie and have both. Two years ago I took a trip from Denver to Daytona Bike Week. Even though I had a beautiful 05 Wing in the Garage I took the Valkyrie 4000 miles in 10 days. Just to remind me of what real motorcycling is all about. Then when I loaded up the Wing in July later that summer and headed to California I had nothing to complain about. Perfect Touring Bike!

Will I own a new GL1833? Not this year but I will own one soon (still have to keep my Valk). Maybe for the Gold Wing owner who has their GL1832 all set up the way they want will not buy a GL1833. But for all you younger sport touring riders out there looking for that “bigger, better, faster, smoother” touring bike to go cross country, WOW, does Honda have a bike that will knock your socks off!

New Yamaha NIKEN – First Look

The radical Yamaha NIKEN is on the way. Oddly reminiscent of the 1993 GTS1000, Yamaha ventures into uncharted territory with another head turner.

I am not quite sure what to make of it, but I sure want to ride one. Yamaha refers to it as a “leaning multi-wheeler” (LMW). NIKEN is equipped with LMW  technology to reduce the effects of changing ride environments and to deliver a high feeling of stability when cornering.

Yamaha NIKEN with leaning multi-wheel technology

It achieves excellent performance for spirited and sporty riding on various road surfaces and the capability to freely carve through the continuous corners of winding roads. The body design makes full use of the unprecedented front-end suspension mechanisms pairing 15-inch front wheels with dual-tube upside-down forks to visually accentuate the machine’s sporty performance.

The real question is – just who is the target market? Is this a three wheeler that should be classed alongside a Can-Am Spyder? Is it some kind of hyper scooter? The motorcycle market is notorious for clambering for new designs and technology that then languish on the shoowroom floor.

Will the NIKEN be a new direction for motorcycling or just another sidebar museum piece for history to look back on with amusement?

 

Here is a first look from Motorcyclist Magazine

Bultaco 360 Frontera – The Next Adventure

I have been pondering my next adventure for a while now. Last year it was Vietnam, an amazing trip. Naturally I was thinking of something similar for the next outing. But I kept having trouble trying to come up with something that would really motivate me, give me something to plan and work on. Vietnam was more of a lark, I got invited so I just hopped on a plane and went along for the ride. I didn’t really put much planning into the trip.

Before tear down, all the shiny bits will go in storage, replaced by plastic Preston Petty reproductions for the upcoming adventure

I realize I probably sound a bit conceited at times and I completely accept that. So bear with me here. My bar for adventure is pretty high. I have ridden or raced in many exotic locales. Trust me when I say, that like anyone, they were things I only dreamed of at one time. I am very fortunate for the opportunities that have come my way. When Baja is your backyard, raising the bar takes some creativity.

Anywho, back to our story. So I was looking for a challenge. Not a race, but a legitimate challenge and something sort of off the beaten path too. I had a couple of ideas floating around, really more like adventure bike rides. I am all for getting the 950 out and heading for parts unknown. But  the ideas were all just a little too easy.

The Spanish were known for crafting distinctive machines

I kept coming back to the story I recently shared, “Two Yankees in Alaska”. It is hard to describe how much that story captured my imagination. Of course I am sure I have over romanticized it. But I think it is the simplicity that struck me the most, packing some gear on the bike and pointing it toward the horizon.

Any such trip would be so easy today on a big adventure bike. But on an enduro bike of 40 years ago, that would be something completely different. That was my proverbial nail on the head moment. Could I be as tough as they were back then? Could I do it the same way they did? Heck, to them, they were riding the latest equipment and making it work. Can I do the same?

So I have the trip planned out, but I am going to wait to share that part. Today I present to you the bike I have chosen for it – the 1975 Bultaco 360 Frontera. For those who speak Bultaco, a Mark IV M143. As soon as this wild idea formed in my head, I knew this would be just the bike for the adventure.

I come from a long line of Bultacos. Most of my formative years of riding came on one. At 12 years old I was riding an old 250 that I couldn’t touch the ground on. My dad, Gordon, raced them for many years. Our garage saw a string of Bul’s – El Tigre, Campera,  Sherpa, Lobito and even a Frontera. That is right, I actually rode a 250 Frontera quite a bit as a teenager. I have not ridden it much in recent years, but I have a M90 Astro too. It hangs from the rafters in Gordon’s shop. A few years ago while in financial straits I parted with my 125 Streaker.

The Frontera seems like a pretty good choice for an extended adventure ride. It has a wide ratio transmission and comes with a lighting coil. Even by 1975 standards, the Frontera was not quite cutting edge as an enduro race bike. Its low pipe and mild tune were slightly out of step with the likes of KTM, Husky and particularly Can-Am. But it was a durable trail bike and that is what I am looking for.

Original aluminum fenders and Bultaco mudflap

Oh, there is one other thing. I already knew that Gordon would want to come along. At 81 he is still up for anything short of full blown extreme riding. Well, I guess there are two things. The second being, he already has a very nicely restored identical Frontera. He even races it.

Gordon White racing his Frontera in 2017 (Mark Kariya photo)

I now had a whole plan mapped out. But of course it all revolved around me finding a bike for myself too. But I was confident that something would show itself. The Bultaco resto market is pretty strong. A Frontera is not nearly as sought after as a Pursang or something really rare like an El Bandido.

But I had no idea just how close I already was to finding my bike. The first call went to my local restorer, Bruce at BR Bultaco, as it turned out it was also my last. He just happened to have an amazing original condition M143 in need of a new home. A customer had bought it off eBay and had it shipped directly to him. Then came a change of heart and the 360 wasn’t needed and now it sits in my garage.

Huge low pipe spark arrestor exhaust

What you see here is a beautiful condition bike that has not had any major restoration work. It only has 440 original miles on it and the original Pirelli rear tire. Frankly it is too nice for what I have planned. But it was just too good to pass up. All the pretty bits will come off and get replaced by modern plastics.

It has not even been started. So the first task will be to pull the motor to take it back and have the top end and crank inspected. At the very least it will get new crank seals. Other items on the to do list include Mikuni carb, Preston Petty fenders, Clarke tank. Of course I am sure that list will grow. Bruce built the motor in Gordon’s bike and is excited about the adventure too.

I mentioned the new adventure to the group of riders who I went to Vietnam with last year. I casually threw out the idea that maybe they could join the trip on adventure bikes if they wanted. Next thing I knew Brian Holt seized on the idea and a week later he is now a Bultaco owner too! We are a party of 3 and in for quite the adventure.  More on that later, for now feast your eyes on my new ride.

Beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder, so I understand not everyone will see the same grace in the Bultaco as I do. That huge exhaust is sort of an eye sore, but it is forest legal so it will stay just the way it is.

Oh! I forgot another part of the story. Narcis Casas was an engineer/racer who developed the Frontera at Bultaco. He went on to found Gas Gas. I was associated with him when I worked for Gas Gas. I got the chance to talk with him quite a bit about his days at Bultaco and this particular bike. Narcis debuted the Frontera prototype at the 1973 ISDT in Dalton Mass. He would end up with a DNF.

1973 Dalton Mass ISDT Results, showing Bultaco Engineer Narcis Casas retired
Ignacio Chivite with his Dakar prepared Bultaco 370 Frontera