Week of 26 September 2011

Local Riding – The plan was to ride the SC1000 for the ride on Saturday. I did what most of  you do the night before a ride – I checked over the bike, made sure it started, and checked tire pressure. Confident the bike was ready to go, I went to bed Friday night. I climbed aboard the SC at 0600 to make the trek to our breakfast meetup. The bike started just fine, then died as soon as I put it in gear. The words “Goddam it” filled the early morning air around my compound — a frozen clutch pack. The blight of running an open clutch cover is if moisture gets to the clutch pack. The friction plates get stuck to the driven plates and it locks up the clutch. To free it, you have to pull the entire pack and separate the plates by hand. That takes 15 or 20 minutes. I didnt’ have time for that, so I mounted the MTS1000 that I rode the previous weekend and did a shortened Blackwater run with the boys. I fixed the SC clutch that afternoon, so it will be ready for this weekend’s romp.  I have to ride on Sat again this weekend. I’m heading to Ala to visit family on Sunday.

Ducati Racing-Related: Thanks for the comments about the Ducati frameless design. To play devil’s advocate with myself, rumors are that the 1199 is setting lap records in trial runs. If that’s the case, perhaps the frameless design works.. It did for the Britten.

Although not an impossibilitty, it is virtually impossible for Checa to blow his WSB lead. He only needs 4 points total between the last 4 races to sew up the title. With Biaggi injured and Melandri fading, the title is Checa’s to lose. I was glad to see Haga do well in both races. Kudos to Ducati though for having a very consistent competitive bike all season. I’ll celebrate Ducati’s championship in the usual fashion the Monday after the next race, so be prepared.

Ducati Lineup – My new policy is NO MORE DUCATIS in the garage unless one leaves. There are a few I’d love to have, but the Ark is already full and I’m still bothered by the maintenance on the stable of 10+ bikes.  Still, I’d love to have a Streetfighter.. or a Panigale R. I have some time before the latter is even available.

Biz – Business was decent last week. I sold my first clutch-related product in 3 months. To compare that, I usually sell at least a clutch pack or basket per week.

Fall Seminar – The webpage for the Level II seminar is up on the website. I’m holding a Fall Rally for Italian Bikes the following weekend. I need help for the Fall Rally so if you’re interested in helping me, pls let me know. Those 2 events will exhaust my social penchant for the rest of the year. Us non-social types can step outside our box occasionally, but it doesn’t last long

A special thanks to those that showed up for my 5oth birthday celebration. It was an enjoyable affair, capped off with a 12 year old bottle of Dom Perignon.

Enjoy your week.

TTYL – LT evo

Week of 19 September 2011

The weeks are flying by on the remainder of this year. Here’s my list of tidbits for the week.

Local Riding – I rode the SS1000DS on Saturday through a full Blackwater route. 3 other local riders joined in. The weather was just about perfect. The only issue was bicyclists. There was a bike race in Blackwater on Saturday and there was no police escort or road blocks. There was a little bit of a pucker passing groups of bicyclists, but it didn’t cause too much of a problem. The SS was brilliant. That 2-v Superbike is the bomb for spirited twisty riding. On Sunday I enjoyed a 2-up local ride on the MTS1000. Somewhere along the route I shed the carbon rear sprocket guard. Damn. Losing carbon parts, albeit small ones, is expensive.

Ducati Racing-Related: So Ducati is incorporating aluminum frame members to the carbon frame in MotoGP to help with handling issues. The results of the latest MotoGP effort don’t show much of an improvement, or is 6th the best a Ducati can do for the foreseeable future?  My concern isn’t MotoGP but rather what the frameless 1199 design will bring. I think the frame absorbs vibration and provides “feel”.   We’ll see.

Ducati Lineup – The baby-streetfighter seems a good product expansion for Ducati. Like the 848 Superbike, the motor is probably better suited for the street, but with everything going to a wet-clutch the streetability of the liter-class bikes is getting better. What isn’t getting better is the waste in HP for the street of the liter bikes versus the 800/848cc bikes. Experienced riders will still want the liter-class power, but I think the 848 Streetfighter will lure in more younger riders to Ducati. Or will it just cannibalize sales from the smaller Monster?

Biz – Business continues to be off more than I would have imagined or thought possible. Not everybody is going to make it through this economic downturn. We’ll see who is left standing, and what what choices remain for Ducati owners. It isn’t like providers can just sit back and wait for customers to start spending again.

Fall Seminar – I’m tentatively planning for a Level II Seminar on Saturday 12 November. As always, only 10 seats. No pre-reservations and no alibis to the stated cap of 10. Participants will either have to had a Level I seminar from me, or another reputable Ducati shop. “I used to work on bikes professionally” isn’t good enough unless they were Ducatis. I’ll pop up the ad for the seminar this weekend on the website and announce it on Twitter/FB.

Birthday Get-Together- I’m meeting some close friends at Jacos on Palafox downtown at 7:00PM on Th to celebrate my 50th. I’m not age sensitive, so it’s just a good excuse to have a get-together.

Have a good week.

TTYL – soon to be AARP LT


Week of 12 September 2011

10 years ago yesterday I was at Ft. Knox Kentucky participating in a battle simulation. I was serving as S2 (intelligence officer) for an Armor battalion and had just finished wargaming the enemy’s reactions to our simulated attack. I had prepared for months for the exercise. There was a television in one of the adjoining rooms to the large sand-table (a large wargaming table where you can put icons and pieces signifying units) I was working on. Somebody called out that the World trade center was on fire. Many of us went to see what CNN was reporting. The first plane his didn’t trigger the “oh shit” alarm bells. We just thought it was an accident. I was standing there watching the first tower on fire when the 2nd plane hit. I remember the feeling of dread, realizing that it was an attack and we were at war.  The exercise was immediately cancelled and we drove for 10 hours that same day to make it back home. Knowing that my Armor unit wasn’t going to have a fight in any upcoming conflict, I transferred within months to a Civil Affairs unit. A year after that I was training Iraqi ex-patriots to be Civil Affairs Operators at a secret base in Hungary. Needless to say, 9/11 changed my life fairly significantly.  I can’t believe it’s been 10 years already.

The weather remained cool enough this weekend to ride in the mornings. I did a Blackwater blast on Saturday on the M1100s. It was the first time I rode it with the Storz damper and Rizoma rearsets installed. It was marvelous. Yesterday,  the HM1100s got a shakedown run. It was be the first time I rode the HM since installing the techlusion F/I box, Motovation starter cables and new Michelin shoes. The techlusion box worked great, but it needs to be on a dyno to dial in the box.  The heat is coming back this week so I appreciated the early opportunity to enjoy some cool air. I’m planning a Sunday ride this weekend after seeing it is supposed to cool off Sat night. Either the MTS or the S2R will be rolled out.

I have nothing but praise for the new Scorpion EXO-500 helmet. It has better fit and finish and features than helmets costing 2x as much. For $200 it’s the best helmet I’ve used. The integral flip-down shield isn’t quite dark enough, but I purchased a darker one. My only complaint is that the ear cups are a bit shallow.

The F4 sits sadly suspended from the ceiling awaiting the new fork seals. It’s amazing how quickly a bike can go from beautiful to pitiful. Fully-faired bikes are fun to ride, but a mofo when it comes to getting to components. If it was a naked I could have taken the forks off in a jiffy.

There’s a good article in the latest Cycle World on the 1199 Superbike and an even better analysis of the current state of the frameless 1199/Carbon-framed MotoGP debate on HellforLeather.  If the 1199 lacks feel because of the absence of a frame (not to mention potential problems with engine casing cracks from the load stress), there will be hell to pay.  From a looks standpoint, all I can say is if you go out on a limb with a radical engine layout, why not use a new look bodywork-wise to set it apart. There’s a lot riding on the success of the 1199. The 999 flopped because of looks, not because it wasn’t a winning design. Ask BMW what happens when you put a great motor in a chassis/suspension package that doesn’t work well.

I listened silently to the Pres’ stimulus spending plan. My expectation to the plan’s effects are best illustrated by an example. Do you know what happens if you hit the accelerator while driving a car towards an upcoming cliff? You get there faster.

Thank you for the continued comments to the DD. I read all of them and appreciate the thoughtfulness.


5 September 2011

Happy Labor Day, which means I’m working away. It’s nice a peaceful at the office, so I decided to knock out some paperwork. Heck the weekend was a washout anyway, so what the heck.

I caught the WSB and MotoGP races at Dan’s yesterday. Brad came over and we admired Dan’s new place. It was a combination of a cool place and an episode of “Hoarders”. I mean, who keeps a spare GPS/radio unit in their bedroom dresser? Dude, clean up that mess.  We didn’t get to see the wet WSB race, but race 1 was pretty boring. MotoGP, on the other hand, was good. The battle for 4th made it worthwhile. I love watching 6 footers try to look diminutive on a GP bike. I really like Sic. Personality goes a long with with me, and he has it in spades above Dovi, Stoner, and the rest. Of course, personality doesn’t win championships… just babes.  People are expecting next year to be better for MotoGP. With the WSB-spec motors allowed, the feeling is that there will be more bikes on the grid. I think there will be even more of a distinction between the factory and “B” team efforts, and I think electronics will continue to make it a yawner. I don’t want to even think about Ducatis prospects next year. I think I’ll just cheer for their new Superbike effort in WSB. I wonder if Checa will still the poster-child of their non-factory-factory ride. With Edwards getting bumped from the satellite team to a lower team, his exit from MotGP is sooner rather than later. He’s had a good run. I’m concerned about US riders at the world level though. Since AMA’s implosion, the reputation of our country-level series is in question. Remember when it was an automatic that the superbike winner would get a world ride? Can you even name the AMA superbike winner? And is superbike a 600 or 1000 in the US? Who knows? Who cares? I give up.

There are only 3 more races left in BSB, with 20 points separating the top 6 places. Now THAT’S a series. Hopper is third after missing the last race due to injuries sustained at the WSB race. Ducati isn’t competitive in that series. Michael Rutter is so far down in the BSB standings he makes GP Nicky look like a Row 1 guy.

The shop is empty again except for my poor F4 hoisted in the air. The forks are away to Traxxion for new seals. There’s something wrong with tearing the front end off a bike with a mere 1000 miles to get new fork seals. Hey Marzocchi, give me a break.

Other than wrenching, I’ve taken a break from bikes for quite awhile. The riding season is impending, so I’m checking the bikes and gear.  I’m looking forward to trying out some new gear, both on bikes and my head. Army duty in Oct will kill any hopes of a trip this Fall. What else is new. I need to start thinking about a fall Seminar, but not motivated to do so right now. Business has really slacked off, making it easier to go away for Military duty. I may be shifting my focus to the military to make up for the lack of income from DT. A guy’s gotta make a living.  I’ve been eyeing the back of my jeep to see if I can fit a bike in the back. I’m guessing not. Besides, the thing is too damn high to use ramps anyway. I trade the Avalanche for a Ute any day. Too bad the El Camino never sold well.

Have a good first full week of Sept. Remember that this Sunday is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. That day changed my military career and is still vivid to me. I’ve been watching some of the specials on cable about 9/11. The “Rebuilding” series on Discovery is the best. It’s very uplifting. If you haven’t seen what the new World Trade Center building are all about, you’re missing out. I made it to ground zero in 1998. I’m looking forward to visiting again when the construction is complete in 2014. I’d ask my students this week what they were doing on that day, but most were in Junior High School. Doh!!!

TTYL – LT Evo (full ohlins)