The Scoop

140 foot-pounds on a dry lake bed could be a handful

Several months ago, I was involved in an online discussion on the subject of Zero Motorcycle’s new SR/F electric motorcycle. For reasons that I had a difficult time understanding, all of the new model coverage in the media omitted the most significant technical feature of the new motorcycle.

Being me, I said exactly that.

One individual immediately agreed with that opinion.

That most significant technical feature was Bosch’s Motorcycle Stability Control (MSC) – and the implementation of it on the Zero was the first one to come to market applying this state of the art suite of electronic rider aids to an electric motorcycle.

The guy that had agreed with me turned out to be Justin Magri – A Technical Project Manager that works for Bosch, and a guy that had worked on the MSC Integration Project with Zero.

After a few traded e-mails and a phone call or two, I knew I had a story that needed to be told.

Insanely Short MSC Cycle Times are clear to see – look at the traces in the gravel

Justin engaged and got the blessing of Bosch’s PR and Marketing Departments. I made a few calls over to Zero – who’d worked with me previously on a review of their DS/R Motorcycle.

Everybody signed up, everybody wanted their story told, and so I did what writers do, which is talk to people and try to get right to the bone of the story.

Only I didn’t.

With all of the significant distractions I had going on in my life, my first cut at the story frankly missed the mark. From this point the whole tale gets as hairy as a full throttleZero with no MSC running on fine beach sand. Shopping a reworked story around, it was accepted by a prestigious motorcycle print publication. I was ecstatic for about three seconds which promptly ended when said print publication promptly ceased publication.

Good Timing has never been my thing.

A couple of earth/sky/earth/sky/earth/sky post motorcycle crash tumbles later, the story found a home at Revzilla’s Common Tread.

Click here to read the story.

I hope you enjoy and learn as much reading it as I did writing it.


Had Quite The Adventure Monday Evening

The Big Boxer

American Honda Motor Co. has finally come through and provided a 2018 GoldWing Tour to test.

I had to pick up the bike from the previous journos at Maryland Public Television’s studios for the MotorWeek program in Owings Mills, MD. When I got there, the bike was parked in Goss’ Garage. As somebody that has watched the show and Pat Goss’ maintenance segments for years, I’ll admit I had a tiny star-struck moment firing the Wing up on the set and riding it out.

Backroaded about half the way back to Jefferson to come to terms with the bike and operation of the Dual Clutch Transmission — needless to say this is not your Grandpa’s Touring Sofa — then hit the interstate and wicked it up into the engine’s Happy Zone.

Look for a full test in the September/October Issue of Motorcycle Times, with extended coverage in RPP.

Now I just need to find some places to go!

“Is this thing broken?…”

I went out to run an errand this morning.

The Zero DSR that I’ve been riding for the last month was picked up yesterday.

I had a UPS package that needed to go to the depot, so I snapped some bags on the Slash 5, strapped the parcel up top, and thumbed the old boxer to life.

Heading out of town I gave her some throttle, and immediately felt that something was wrong.

“Is my clutch slipping? Is this thing broken?

Testing! TESTING!  Is this thing onnnnnn?…….”

Nothing was broken. Everything was fine.

It’s just that the old Toaster Tank’s power delivery now suddenly seems like a gentle caress, when compared with the Zero E-bike’s Punch Right In Your Face.

This is going to take some re-adjustment. I hope I’m going to be OK.

There will be a full test that will appear in the November/December issue of Motorcycle Times.


Got the Zero

Made a trip up to PowerSports East in Bear, Delaware, to pick up a press pool test bike provided by Zero Electric Motorcycles.

I’ll be using the Zero as my daily rider over the next 30 days, and then writing a review of the bike for Motorcycle Times.

I’m now a regular contributor to MT — the Zero review should appear in their November/December issue.

Until then I will be whizzing about, looking for unguarded electric plugs in public places, and trying to think of something else to do with my clutch hand.

One think to think about — 116 ft/lbs of torque available at 0 rpm.

Fasten your chinstrap!

Awright. Now Listen Up.

Rolling Physics Problem is a strange combination.

While the superfical intent is to be about the Rolling Phyics Problem that is artful motorcycling, as often as not it is also about the literary art. The writer looks to create and share works that have meaning — meaning which can result from putting together experiences that appear not to be related, but by putting them together, they somehow become that way.


It sounds like a word from physics but its actually a word from the scientists of the mind.

A state of meaningful coincidences that do not appear to be related. The psychologists that beleive that this is a thing also believe that there is the slightest possibility that these meaningful coincidences occur because we humans have caused them to be associated by thinking about them together.

That we think about things and cause them to happen.





And that things could be happening beacuse we are thinking about them is why I have to make this Public Service Announcement.

Because last week a very strange and unique thing happened to me out of the blue.

Then that selfsame strange — by defintion rare — thing happened a second time in fairly rapid succession.

And it made me wonder whether this thing was a cause, or more wierdly an effect.

And it freaked me out.




It’s an easy enough tale to tell.

A reader reached out to me, to tell me how much he enjoyed my writing, and how since he was going to be laid up for a while, it was great that he now had the time to read it all.

Because he had crashed his bike, and was mending broken bones.

“Shit,” I said, “I sure hope people don’t make a habit of that.”

You can probably tell where this is going.

Whereupon they promptly did.

Not 18 hours had elapsed, before another reader reached out to me, to tell me how much he enjoyed my writing, and how since he was going to be laid up for a while, it was great that he now had the time to read it all.

Because he had crashed his bike, and was mending broken bones.

“Sure,” you say, “having the exact same interaction with crashing bikers isn’t so unusual in this crowd.”

But think about it for a while, and tell me if it happened to you twice in less than 24 hours it wouldn’t get the least bit spooky on you.




So listen up.

I am absolutely not singling out my two readers for any kind of negativity whatsoever. They’ve had some awful luck and I wish them fast healing and shiny new motorcycles.

But the rest of you lot need to knock this crashing stuff the eff off post-haste, full stop.

Rolling Physics Problem is not now, and never has been, an inducment to bend or break the laws of physics.

In fact quite the opposite.

I don’t want to even contemplate that by thinking about the possbility that these stories are some form of causative crashing vortex, that they actually could be.

The links between the actions of the mind and the world around us are much contemplated, with little known.

I’ll think good thoughts.

You ride a good ride.


Folks that know me well know how long I’ve been plotting and scheming to find my youngest son Finn a motorcycle to ride.

Finn is the first of my three children that wanted to learn to ride badly enough that he lobbied both me and his mom to let him complete the MSF Beginning Rider Course, which he totally aced.

This development more or less put paid to any remaining flimsy excuses the parental units may have had to derail the Motorcycling Finn Locomotive.

So the hunt had been on in earnest for more than a couple of weeks.

My spec for a bike for the precious boy was fairly straightforward.

First, it had to be a smoking deal. In a perfect world, we’d have just plonked down 5 grand for a new Yamaha SR400, but that number is somewhere above 5 times our effective budget.

Second, it needed to be no more than two cylinders, and no more than 500 ccs displacement.

Third, it needed to be what people used to call a ‘standard motorcycle’ or, failing that, a dual sport. No cruisers, no racetrack refugee sportbikes, and no plastic wrap of any kind.

Lastly, it needed to have a disk front brake. Finn had tasted my drum-braked Slash 5, and made the icky face after that little taste.

Given that ‘Standard Motorcycles’ are as endangered as ‘Station Wagons’, ‘dial telephones’ and ‘film cameras’, I’d spent a lot of time looking at 60s, 70s and 80s Hondas like CB360s, VT500FTs, CM450s, CX500s and other oldies, like bunches of GS450 Suzukis, that fit the specification.

It had been a total horrorshow of ‘it ran when I parked its’, piles of rust described as projects, and people that thought that their pile of crap was worth 3 to 5 times the NADA book value.

Finn finally provided, as he usually does, concentrated Wisdom.

“I don’t need a project. I just need a motorcycle to ride.”

My virtual riding brother, Abhi Eswarappa, the Los Angeles-based publisher of Bike-curious, had turned me on to the essential riding goodness that is the Buell Blast. The Blast is a small, lightweight 483 cc single made from half a Sportster motor that features modern wheels, brakes and structure. Buell had created the bike to provide Harley Davidson dealerships with Fleets of unthreatening little motorcycles to use for their rider training courses.  Abhi had also featured one seller — as it turned out, one of many — that had purchased entire dealer fleets of 20-30 bikes when the program came to an end.

Against all odds,  Abhi’s featured seller was a Tag and Title Business in Joppa, Maryland — about 70 miles from my house and about 12 miles from my in-laws, where I find myself fairly frequently.

I’d spoken to the seller to construct the bones of a deal.

The next day, Jefferson had 38 inches of snow. That kind of balmy weather put thoughts of any motorcycling other than ice racing on hold for several weeks.

Last Thursday,  the weekend weather report showed Sunny and 65 for the coming Saturday. I called Dave the Title Guy and tried to set up an appointment for Saturday, when he was normally open from 8 am to noon.

“Naah. I’m not working Saturday this week. Give me a few more days advance notice and we’ll set something up.”

In short, he flaked.

When you have more than a few Buell Blasts to sell, and someone that wants to buy one, you should probably make the time.

Just sayin’.

In kinda a fugue state, I went back to the local Craigslists, and took a quick pass through the newest listings.

And in the Harrisburg Craigslist, there was a fresh listing for a 2002 Black Blast with 1790 original miles. It was bone stock, unmolested, uncrashed, and running. The seller was asking $1500.

I sent him a quick e-mail, sharing I had planned to buy a 2007 Blast for $1100, which was what Dave the Title Guy and I had discussed. I told him that my seller had flaked, and this bike was 5 years older, and that NADA was between $600-800. If his bike needed nothing to get through inspection, I’d go as high as $900.

Ten minutes later, my cel phone rang.

Saturday afternoon, I was standing with Finn, Sweet Doris from Baltimore, and Steve the Seller in a K-Mart parking lot in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, looking at this.


It looked like the bike had never been wet in its life.

The engine cases were so clean they looked like they’d never left the showroom floor. No road mung, no dirt, no seepage.

There were some minute scuffs on the plastic bodywork where folks had failed to get their boots across the tailsection when mounting, and a few more on the plastic tank cover, but other than the tank decals being missing, the bike was as delivered.

I asked Steve the Seller about the decals.

“They were purple, man.”

‘Nuff said.

I took the bike for a quick blast around Chambersburg. Throttle response was a little fluffy, but the bike shifted much better than I expected from Sportster bits, the brakes were excellent, and everything electrical worked.

We shook hands, exchanged an envelope with $900, and signed the papers.

I pulled on my ‘stich and rode it home.

On about 30 miles of interstate, it seemed happiest at around 63 mile per hour. Figuring that if you were a motorcycle that had averaged 127 miles a year during your lifetime, and had a tank full of varnish, I shouldn’t push my luck.


I got home without incident, got Finn geared up and chased him around the neighborhood on my Slash 5 just to give him a chance to ride his new bike.

Sure enough, he looks a lot more steady and lot more in command than I would expect from someone who has only ridden on the practice range and passengered on the back of my bike.  His posture and corner entries are sharp, and his overall control looks pretty good.

Unlike the near disowning my first motorcycle brought me, I hope to share what I know with him, and am really looking forward to riding together.

Finn doesn’t look the slightest bit displeased, either.


This morning I checked a few local dealers to try and get an inspection completed, and only Harley Davidson of Frederick works Mondays.

The bike, upon checking, had been a little low on motor oil, and I topped it up.

I finally ran all the stale fuel out of the tank, and replaced it with about 2 gallons of BP Premium.

With fresh fuel and enough oil, the Blast was transformed. It really thumped right along on throttle, and was able to keep pulling top gear as fast as any Blast ought to go.

The Inspector at HD of Frederick was amazed.

“You just don’t see these in this good a shape. Ones that have been sitting the auto-choke usually gums up from the bad fuel. Most of them have spent a fair amount of time on their sides. This one’s perfect. You’re one lucky dude.”

I don’t know about that.

But Finn certainly is.

It’s Go Time….

WP_20151006_09_41_22_Pro 1

My K Bike is completely fettled.

We’ve got fresh tires, clean oil, flushed brake and hydraulic clutch circuits, clean gear oil in the trans and final drive and a new battery.

It’s at times like these I find myself wondering why German motorcycles have soooooo many separate fluids that require maintenance.

Heck, I even sprang for a new farkle-let on what is a very largely farkle-free motorcycle — a USB charging port that plugs into the BMW power plugs, to keep the smart phone working.

Thursday morning, I go wheels up to make the blast from Jefferson to Leeds, Alabama — home of the Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum and home to the Barber Vintage Festival.

Don’t know if I’ll manage to make the 700+ miles in one day, but I aims to find out.

The FIM-approved Racetrack at Barber will host a full calendar of Historic Racing, the Century Race for motorcycles older than one hundred years, Vintage Bikes on display, a swap meet the size of Delaware, and more old motorcycle fun than Doan’s has little back pills.

I’m completely stoked.

Expect lots of pictures and a few ripping yarns in the coming days.

Stay tuned.