Saturday, June 30, 2012

How to Own a Sport Bike for Cheap.

Motorcycles can be inexpensive to insure and inexpensive to maintain. But sport bikes can get expensive quite quickly if one is not paying attention. I have owned a few sport bikes and I think I have centered on some ways to keep costs down. Sharing means caring. 

So, if you are not full of money but thinking about getting a bike, start with this, maybe:

1) Get an older bike. 

This is crucial. You have to get a bike that has been around long enough for its parts to be well represented at salvage yards, craigslist and Ebay. You don’t have to go back that far to accomplish this. Four years ought to do it. Your search for a bike to buy should also include a general search for that bike’s parts on the internet. The more parts there are, the more likely those parts are to be less expensive than parts for newer bikes that have not had a chance to get crashed by squids.

2) Okay, so you got a bike. Awesome. Now, you have to keep it stock. 

You can put all the stickers and fender eliminators that you want; just leave the engine and drive chain sprocket ratio alone. 

A lot of cats really want performance increases from their bikes. Racers need them. But racers have already decided to throw mad chunks of money at their machines. If you are not a racer, the only performance upgrade that you really need is personal improvement as a rider. Remember. There are a lot of slow riders on fast bikes. And a lot of fast riders on "slow" bikes. There are dudes out there on SV650s that will leave the rest of us in the dust. We should strive to be like those guys, instead of guys with trick parts that can’t square a corner. Keep the bike stock. I’m serious about this. 

Even if you are like, “oh I just want to go down a tooth in the front and up a couple teeth in the back so I can get more power durr dah durr,” you are setting yourself up for grief. If it is a 1000, the new sprocket will most likely be a 520 conversion kit, which means you will have to get a new chain. But no matter what displacement your bike, your gas mileage will decrease since the (differently sized) front sprocket will now be making more revolutions per mile traveled at any given rpm. Then your speedometer will be all fucked; it will tell you that you are going slower than you really are. And one day you will forget this and think you are going an okay speed as you pass the cops… Yeah. Also, your odometer will be off; it will register more miles than the bike has actually travelled, which will decrease the value of your bike if you have to sell it.

Of course, you could get the speedo healer to fix the odometer and speedometer. But that shit costs money, as does the chain and sprocket. And we are trying to not spend any money, dummy. Try to keep up.

Case in point: the other day I bought a brand new chain from a salvage yard for 30 bucks. A chain and sprocket conversion would have cost at least 150. Plus the extra gas due to decreased gas mileage. And, once again, fuck all that. Spend that money on tires. 

3) Tires!

Speaking of tires, if you are a daily commuter type rider, or a squid, or a weekend warrior type cat, you should probably stick with the sport-touring tires. Like the Michelin Pilot Road 3 or the Dunlop Roadsmart. These tires last a long time. A loooong time. Like, I know a guy who rides a 600 who got 21000 out of his front tire, a Roadsmart. Also, they are surprisingly sticky, since they are dual compound tires. I have ridden on race tires, super street tires, and sport touring tires. There are differences, yes. But the differences are not worth the money unless you are a stupid fast knee dragger. And if you were, 1) you would be able to go fast on any kind of tire and 2) you would not be reading this shit. So get  tires that last long. Do not get fucking Shinkos. Don’t get cheap tires. Which brings me to a general point:

4) Get shit for cheap, but don’t get cheap shit.

Ebay is your friend. Just don’t buy non-name brand shit from outside the country. It may seem like a good idea, because of the cost. But it ain’t. Brake rotors will warp. Parts won’t fit right or be the right color. Get new stuff from brands that everybody knows or salvage stuff. Or wait for deals to pop up. Save the auction so that you can bargain with other people. I got a wiring harness the other day for 30 bucks less than what the salvage guys initially asked because I showed them the item for the cheaper price on Ebay. Keeping tabs of things on Ebay will give you an overall idea of how much something costs, and this will help you know when a thing is a deal and when it really ain’t. Once you get the deal, you can go forward to the wrenching.

5) Work on the bike “yourself.”

A lot of jobs that seem hard really aren’t that bad. It helps if you have a friend who has rocked bikes before. It also helps to check the online forum for your bike. Every bike has a forum online. Join it at read all you can. Forums will save your life. With the right knowledge and advice, you will be surprised what you can do. The only time you should see the dealership is when it is time for the valve adjustment. Other than that, it should be all you and some tools. I know a dude who built his own tire change station with wood. Like, just wood, yo. WTF.

6) Let’s see, what else… Oh yeah. Wear gear.

Hospital costs are bike costs. If you go down all basic, like in lowside, your gear will keep you from needing skin grafts or repeat doctor visits. I got hit by a car once. Broke some shit. It was rough. But when I was in ER, all the nurses kept asking me: “You were in a bike wreck? Where are the rest of your injuries?” Most of the bozos who come in there are way worse off than I was and therefor had more expensive hospital bills, because they didn’t wear gear. Wear your fucking gear. (A note, I am not even addressing the asshats who don’t wear helmets. You people don’t even exist to me.) 

7) Next up: roll with the right crew. 

If you are slow, but you are trying to roll with cats who are mad faster than you, you are basically biding your time until 1) you crash or 2) you get pulled over. I have run off the road following fast cats. Cats have run off the road following me. It is not even about having an ego, wanting to be as fast as the fast guys. It is also just a matter of following a cat and getting “sucked in” and suddenly realizing that you are going faster that you are comfortable going. Or following a cat around a bend that they know well and you don’t know that well. It is important to push limits, yes. But you need at least some level of speed parity to ride as safely as possible. Crashes cost money.

And so do run ins with the cops. If you are the slowest rider, the police car is going to pull over your slow ass and your fast friends are going to roll off into the distance. This almost happened to me once; a super fast friend of mine said that when he saw the police lights, his first thought was to just take off. Then he took pity on me and pulled over. This is a good friend of mine. Imagine if he was just one of many people in a fast crew that didn’t give a fuck. Police tickets are also bike costs, yo. You can’t do anything to get you in trouble with the law. This contributes to a related, more global point:

8) Watch for the cops. 

I mean a few things by this. Don’t ride with reckless abandon. Be fast, but don’t be i-don’t-give-a-fuck-about-anything-else fast. Take your moment. Steal some speed on the on ramp, or out in the farm landy countryside, or on that one stretch where you never see anybody. Don’t ride the fuck out on the highway right in the city center. Don’t ride balls out coming over the crest of a hill. Because the fucking cops will be at the bottom of that hill. And yeah, you could try to outrun them. But you will have to step outside of your comfort level to ride in the mode of escape. And that is always a bad idea, since you could make mistakes to jack you sideways. Plus, cops are like agents in the matrix. They could radio ahead and have you set the fuck up. Or god forbid they get a glimpse of your plates. Then they will just be at your house. And that will suck. 

When you do get pulled over, be super cooperative. The crucial moment is all the time before the cop goes back to his car. When you pull over, dismount, remove your helmet, go to get your info with your hands in full view of the cop. When he asks why you got pulled over, take the tone of, yeah, I know what I did without saying exactly what you did. “Yeah, I took off from the line a bit quick” or “sigh. I have been getting a bit too excited about riding today. I’m sorry, officer.” See? You respectfully placate yourself before the law without giving details. If he asks you what the speed limit is, you fucking say what the speed limit is. Don’t act like you don’t know. If he asks you how fast you were going, give a number higher than the speed limit. Be specific, depending on the vibe you are getting from the cop. And look them in the eyes, as though you are complete equals. Cops hold all the cards, yo. If they think you are trying to get out of facing up to the moment, they will stick you. They will stick you regardless probably. But you have to make the best possible case at the outset. This, at least, is how do things. I have been pulled over like 10 times and I have never gotten a ticket. I can’t imagine this streak will last too much longer, but the previous  10 fucking times is already quite a bit of savings, yo.

And this is why I think you should keep your exhaust stock, or at least quiet. Cops will interpret that loud as shit as an invitation. Thieves will look at your aftermarket niceness in exactly the same way. And plus riding around all loud, blowing out people’s ears is kind of douchey. I know, you can save money and still be a douche, but come on, yo. Be nice.

Aight. I’m done. Think I will go riding in this crazy ass heat.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Image of the Race.

Graphic artist RM88, also known as DJ Fuego has put out a round of pics that are based off the latest rounds of MotoGP and WSBK racing. 

There is something to be gained in this transformation of race footage. The era of HD has put us on the seeming front lines of our beloved games and races. But this is the grossest ideology. Increased immersion through resolution and production value is, really, the seal of the viewer's hopeless distance from the finish line. If you were there, you would not see a replay in slow motion. You would not hear a commentator narrate your world, overtly controlling your interpretation of the action. You would not be taken in by the nervousness of the mechanics back in the pit garage. In front of the screen, your feeling of "being there" is a powerful lie. You are enraptured by your own absence.

The serene stills of these pics do more to evoke the machine-extended passion of the moto race than the live feed could ever hope to do. There is an incomprehensibility in the conduct of the world class racer. Apollo and Dionysus meet on the side grip of a race worn tire and there is no commentator or camera pan that brings us to the truth of that moment. Behind the visor of any given racer is an abyss of instinct and desire, a drive at once for death and resurrection. If we could peer within, we would have to shut our eyes, blinded. Only the sideways glance allows us to understand the brightness of these cyborg bodies who spit in the face of gravity so long as they have the traction.