End of the 2012 Riding Season; Many Changes!

Ok.  No suspense.  I traded the V7 Classic for another bike.  Last July I took her in for a 24,000 mile service to the local Dealer — TT Motorcycles — and told them to add change the tires and fix anything that they might find.  TTM is a small, family-run operation.  You wait for them to get to you, as everyone gets individual service and there are only so many bodies in the store.  Could it be more efficient?  Yes.  Would it lose some of its charm in the process?  Yes.  Be patient.

While I was there, I walked around the showroom.  They had a lot of bikes — many favorites.  A 1200 Sport.  Nice Monsters.  A Tuono.  Griso… There it was…

A killer little 2008 Orange Aprilia Shiver with 1800 miles on the clock.  I threw a leg over it.  hmmm.  fits… so nice….   I got off, and asked about the bike.  It was a one-owner, with actual miles, bone stock.  19 months left on the factory warranty.

I signed the work order and left the store.  The bike kept talking to me…  I no longer had that beastly commute on weekends between Chicago and Detroit as I had now moved to the area.  My commute was from Grosse Pointe to Farmington Hills, as I had begun consulting at Mercedes Benz Financial Services; a 70 mile round trip.  The Guzzi had 24,000 miles and was out of warranty.  the Aprilia had 1800…  The Aprilia had 77 horsepower….

It just gnawed on me for days.  I went back to the shop to see how things were going.  It was mid July and the shop was jammed with bikes in for work.  I hadn’t ridden in a week except for the Parilla, which was hardly a commuter bike for a 65-mile round trip.  I asked, casually, about the Aprilia.  He gave me the details.  I said that it was interesting, and “I wonder what the out-the-door” difference would be in trade for my bike.  He got diverted and we decided to talk later.

TT had my bike for 10 days.  I pressed.  He gave me a number.  I shot back, and we got close.  I saw a Suomy “Tattoo” Helmet that looked cool.  He said he would throw it in.

Deal.

My new Aprilia Shiver

My new Aprilia Shiver

So for very little money, I had a virtually new bike with warranty and a $500 helmet for a 24,000 mile bike.  And I’m back on the road.

me_helmet

…For three weeks.  I had just gotten back from the Mods vs Rockers Show in Cleveland where I had ridden the Parilla (and won Best European bike).  The show was held during an unbelievably warm spell there, and I found out that the little Parilla really likes to be run hard;  not go with too much stop-and-go traffic (I was riding with the mods).

I finally waved them off and met them at the location, with a quick blast around the beltways.  This show is on my list.  Great town. Really great people.

Parilla 250 GS Replica

Parilla 250 GS Replica

Upon my return, I continued commuting on the Shiver. All of a sudden I get the dreaded “Service” light, familiar to early Aprilia Shiver riders.  I checked the Aprilia forums, and it seems that this is a “rite of passage” for ownership of the earlier bikes.  Since it was under warranty, I dropped the bike off in hopes that it would be a small fix.

It wasn’t a small fix, but it was a “free” fix.  The boys at TT Motorcycles actually arranged a conference call with the Factory, TWICE, and they took voltage readings across the throttle settings.  Turns out the throttle bodies were bad, and they replaced everything within two weeks.  I think the amazing part of this story is how Piaggio has gotten its act together over the last 4-5 years and streamlined the ability to deliver parts to the customers in a reasonable time, and to work with the dealers to ensure that these same customers are happy and riding their bikes, instead of complaining about them over a beer to their friends that will be purchasing a bike sometime in the future.

Not much to tell about the rest of the riding season, as it involved a whole lot of commuting, nice morning blasts up the Lodge Freeway, and a couple of short trips around the area.  There was a great Britbike show, where my Parilla came in second in European behind a spectacular Ducati 750SS that was very, very, original.  Still, I rode (insert sour grapes) the 40 miles to the event.

It was a nice long autumn.

Paying the “Stupid Tax”

In early November I decided to get one last commute ride in before it got too cold.  The weather man said the high would be about 58°, and I looked at the weather, showing 38° in the morning.  I geared up and fired up the bike.  Rolling out of the driveway, I took a left onto Meriweather, and then a right-left on Ridge to get down to Mack.

That was the plan.  On the right-left “chicane” on Ridge, there were a few wet leaves that got under my front wheel, and just as I swapped my weight, I was skidding across the tarmac before I even knew what happened.  It was only a 5mph low-side, but it was just plain silly and embarrassing   I snapped off the brake lever, scratched the clutch cover, rubbed a tank bumper and plastic panel, and ground a little off the brake lever.  $250 in stupid tax.  Of course Piaggio had the parts in less than a week, shipped directly to me via my dealer.

Sometimes it pays to think a little before firing up.  I let my want get the better of my better sense, and paid the price.  I guess it was lucky I wasn’t on the freeway.

Another Guzzi

I have a couple of aggregation sites that I watch showing Craigslist listings over most of the US.  One of these showed a Moto Guzzi Stornello Sport in Indianapolis for $450.  I traded some emails with the owner, and just after Christmas I picked it up.  I promised Sheila that I would work on it after the kitchen is finished.  It is very complete, and after running the serial numbers, I found it to be a 1965 Sport America, surprisingly stock, but in need of cosmetics and some of the chrome bits and stuff cleaned up, along with a complete wiring harness.  Nothing scary.

stonello_1

stornello2

It’s all there.  17 inch wheels and all.  I can’t wait to fire it up this summer.  Trying to decide on a color scheme.  I think I have one in mind, along with a very stylized early 50’s Moto Guzzi logo.  Oh boy, it’s going to be a fun 2013.

Moto Guzzi V7 Classic – 20,010 Miles and Time for some Mods

Where has time gone?  I haven’t written anything about my V7 Classic in more than a year.  I guess life and the enjoyment of life kinda get in the way, plus just actually getting down to business and writing something out can involve a little mental effort.  Funny thing, life may have gotten in the way of writing more articles about this wonderful Moto Guzzi small block, but it definitely wove itself around it!

A long weekly commute for 18 months.

I took a position as an Enterprise Architect Consultant in Detroit mid 2010, and started an 18 month long period of living in an apartment in Grosse Pointe Park, MI, for 4 nights a week.  Weekends were spent at home after making the 300 mile journey back to my home in Oak Park, IL.

I started work around May 1 2010, and, until the riding season ended in Mid October, I never drove a car in Detroit.  Most of the commutes were made on the V7 Classic, so I was making two 300 mile trips a week on the bike, and then 30 miles a day commuting, along with some very fun trips, which I’ll get to in a bit.

Outside of Jackson, MI

Outside of Jackson, MI

The Little Guzzi was awesome.  I only had to take the train back to Chicago on a few occasional weekends when the weather was too rough to ride, and even then I had a couple of episodes when I got caught in a downpour anyway. Continue reading

Moto Guzzi V7 Classic – 20,010 Miles and Time for some Mods

Where has time gone?  I haven’t written anything about my V7 Classic in more than a year.  I guess life and the enjoyment of life kinda get in the way, plus just actually getting down to business and writing something out can involve a little mental effort.  Funny thing, life may have gotten in the way of writing more articles about this wonderful Moto Guzzi small block, but it definitely wove itself around it!

A long weekly commute for 18 months.

I took a position as an Enterprise Architect Consultant in Detroit mid 2010, and started an 18 month long period of living in an apartment in Grosse Pointe Park, MI, for 4 nights a week.  Weekends were spent at home after making the 300 mile journey back to my home in Oak Park, IL.

I started work around May 1 2010, and, until the riding season ended in Mid October, I never drove a car in Detroit.  Most of the commutes were made on the V7 Classic, so I was making two 300 mile trips a week on the bike, and then 30 miles a day commuting, along with some very fun trips, which I’ll get to in a bit.

Outside of Jackson, MI

Outside of Jackson, MI

The Little Guzzi was awesome.  I only had to take the train back to Chicago on a few occasional weekends when the weather was too rough to ride, and even then I had a couple of episodes when I got caught in a downpour anyway. Continue reading

Moto Guzzi V7 Classic – 20,010 Miles and Time for some Mods

Where has time gone?  I haven’t written anything about my V7 Classic in more than a year.  I guess life and the enjoyment of life kinda get in the way, plus just actually getting down to business and writing something out can involve a little mental effort.  Funny thing, life may have gotten in the way of writing more articles about this wonderful Moto Guzzi small block, but it definitely wove itself around it!

A long weekly commute for 18 months.

I took a position as an Enterprise Architect Consultant in Detroit mid 2010, and started an 18 month long period of living in an apartment in Grosse Pointe Park, MI, for 4 nights a week.  Weekends were spent at home after making the 300 mile journey back to my home in Oak Park, IL.

I started work around May 1 2010, and, until the riding season ended in Mid October, I never drove a car in Detroit.  Most of the commutes were made on the V7 Classic, so I was making two 300 mile trips a week on the bike, and then 30 miles a day commuting, along with some very fun trips, which I’ll get to in a bit.

Outside of Jackson, MI

Outside of Jackson, MI

The Little Guzzi was awesome.  I only had to take the train back to Chicago on a few occasional weekends when the weather was too rough to ride, and even then I had a couple of episodes when I got caught in a downpour anyway. Continue reading

Moto Guzzi V7 Classic – 20,010 Miles and Time for some Mods

Where has time gone?  I haven’t written anything about my V7 Classic in more than a year.  I guess life and the enjoyment of life kinda get in the way, plus just actually getting down to business and writing something out can involve a little mental effort.  Funny thing, life may have gotten in the way of writing more articles about this wonderful Moto Guzzi small block, but it definitely wove itself around it!

A long weekly commute for 18 months.

I took a position as an Enterprise Architect Consultant in Detroit mid 2010, and started an 18 month long period of living in an apartment in Grosse Pointe Park, MI, for 4 nights a week.  Weekends were spent at home after making the 300 mile journey back to my home in Oak Park, IL.

I started work around May 1 2010, and, until the riding season ended in Mid October, I never drove a car in Detroit.  Most of the commutes were made on the V7 Classic, so I was making two 300 mile trips a week on the bike, and then 30 miles a day commuting, along with some very fun trips, which I’ll get to in a bit.

Outside of Jackson, MI

Outside of Jackson, MI

The Little Guzzi was awesome.  I only had to take the train back to Chicago on a few occasional weekends when the weather was too rough to ride, and even then I had a couple of episodes when I got caught in a downpour anyway. Continue reading

A Farewell to Chicago Vintage Motorcyclists

As I sit in my new living room in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, I can’t help but miss the motorcyclists and friends from Chicago Vintage Motorcyclists that helped me make my riding life in Chicago utterly fantastic.  One week in, and with the weather closing in, I expect that my garage will be much quieter than it would 3oo miles to the West-Southwest.  Those Wednesday Night Garage Nights were so much fun — I wish I had attended more.  Still, the rides to Southwestern Wisconsin, around town, Rockerbox, Mods and Rockers, Acetoberfest and others, it made the roads around Chicago more than bearable.

Chicago has very little going for it, motorcycle-wise.  No topography.  Few good roads.  REALLY lousy drivers.  6 decent curves in the whole town, maybe.  Still, a late afternoon ride with a bunch of friends in old BSAs, Triumphs, Hondas, a Vincent or two and a smattering of BMWs makes a cruise around the city like a nice weekend ride on the Isle of Man.

Enthusiasm counts.  The ChiVinMoto group exudes enthusiasm and love of the “perfect machine”.  It’s a truly American group, with no hierarchy, no “right” bike to have, and absolutely no class structure.  Income, education, race, occupation or age have no bearing once you throw a leg over the bike.  It’s about the ride, the machine and the comraderie.  Liberty, Egalitie´, Fraternity.  More American than any group I’ve ever been a member of.

Things I’ll miss most are the “Tiddler” ride for small displacement bikes held once or twice a year.  The great vintage bikes from Laverdas, Vincents and BSAs to great early Japanese bikes and BMWs airheads.  Rockerbox in Milwaukee.  Acetoberfest at Chad’s garage — Ace Motorcycle and Scooter Co.  And especially Mods vs. Rockers Chicago.  If you’ve never been to MvR, you haven’t made enough riding friends.

I remember riding back from a Slimy Crud Run a few years’ back, freezing my butt off and riding with a group that were better riders than I, and knew the roads of Southwest Wisconsin far, far better.  We rode as the sun went down, the cold sucking the heat from our bodies.  At each stop or intersection when it was time to make a turn, the leaders would stop and wait to make sure the backmarkers made it back to more navigable territory.  I remember when I finally got home I took a hot shower until I ran out of hot water.  My legs were still cool to the touch hours later.  Bliss.

See you all soon.  Keep shifting with your right foot and stay in the saddle.  You’re all wonderful people.

Sigh — Sometimes You "Don't" Meet the Nicest People on a Guzzi!

The day started off nice enough — cloudy, but mild temps in the 70s.  Good day for a ride from Detroit to Pentwater to meet up with my wife and daughter and celebrate a good friend’s 60th birthday.  No hurry to get there, either — I was an hour ahead of Sheila at least since she was coming from the Central Time Zone, and Chicago traffic would probably burden her further.  Mild weather and my bags packed, I decided to roll out and just get lost on the way to Pentwater, specifically our hotel in Ludington, and travel through some of Michigan’s back roads.

Wow.  So beautiful once you get off the main roads.  Rustic barns, silos, small towns with old storefronts, buildings that give you the sense of history;  Europeans have been traipsing all over the Michigan Peninsula for 300+ years, and I can see why.  At least in the summer, the place looks like Northern England — I’ll bet before the shipwrights completely deforested the island, especially.

This Friday being the kick-off to the Fourth of July Weekend, I was wondering what happened!  No bikes on 96 on the way out of town, but as soon as I turned on the back roads, they were everywhere.  I stopped at two gas stations and spoke with couples on HDs rocking easy through the back country, not a care in the world and very pleasant.  Especially true to this were the couple of riders and pillions in Oceana — they were from Oklahoma and had been travelling for a week.  Made the trip around Lake Michigan and were headed back to Chicago and then down Rt 66 to their home state.  Ear-to-ear grins on their faces — their wives mimicking with their air-adjustable seats and all the commo gear.  Making memories.

Michigan is bereft of diners.  They’re out there, but not nearly as ubiquitous as some of the other states I’ve lived in.  Finally found one near Hardy Damn for breakfast and time to sit out a rain storm.  Gotta look the name of that one up.  The owner rides, but his wife won’t let him park the bike in front of the diner — he was awesome for getting me directions from where I was to where I needed to be, since AT&T and Google Maps had me roughly 3 miles south of where I actually was.  Rode through wonderful lanes that were broadleaf-tree tunnels, nice curves with little or no rocks and dirt — the wet road and unknown traffic patterns kept the speed out of me — I just cruised through the turns, braking easy, leaning smooth and just blissing out until I had to get on Michigan 31 North from Oceana to Ludington for the final leg of the trip.

And that’s where things just got stupid.  For the first 5-8 miles on the Highway it was one lane with construction, but traffic still managed to move along at 60.  The fun started when it finally opened up to two lanes.  I was able to move through the stagger in the traffic since most of the cars in the left lane wanted to pass but, due to their size, had to wait.  I zipped in the wide gaps (most Michigan drivers are actually awesome — they are motorcycle-aware and let you in) and slowly made my way through the logjam — until…

Going to the right of a slow-moving mid-sized pickup with a camper shell, I suddenly realized that the driver had sped up and “shut the door” on me with a slow car moving in front.  At that point I moved in behind because I had nowhere else to go. I’m now uncomfortable.  BRAKE LIGHTS — I’m already braking and slowing trying to get distance from the bumper, and driver pulls a “brake check” on me — I look at in the pickup’s window and an woman is looking in her mirror at me and shaking her finger like “I saw you trying to get around me…”

Then she moves over into the right lane, I guess to let me pass.  I decide it’s time to drop the hammer and just get out of there.  Road rage has left me years ago — I’m too old to deal with drivers like this.  As I pull around her, I see her cell phone sticking out of the car as she’s trying to take a picture of me, wildly trying to stay in her lane — it’s time to get out of there.  I gesture to her with a number that let her know that she was #1 in my book and then scooted.

3 miles later I’m at the Luddington exit, pulling into city traffic — and there she is behind me with her camera!  I just ignore her.  Realizing that I have no idea where the hotel is and that I need to check in, I sit in the bumper-to-bumper traffic and she sits on my tail.  I’m thinking that she has some road rage issues and decide that the better part of valor is to leave the situation; just get in the other lane, then make a right turn.  I get in the right lane, signal right.  She cuts off a car behind me and follows me down the street.  I stop.

She pulls alongside and sticks out her hand as if I’m supposed to shake it, holding her camera.  She blurts out her name is “Val”.  I decide this is too much.  I’m getting creeped out, feeling like in that old black truck with the cracked windshield and wild-eyed operator there just might be a loaded gun.  I’m on vacation and I need to get the hell out of this situation! I drop the bike in first gear, drive around a few blocks as she follows, then finally lose her.  Bike gets parked in the back of my hotel on the other side of town, opposite from where I was so if she’s still looking around for me, we’re not going to run into each other.

Oh my GOD.  Every once in awhile I run into people that have to act as “regulators” and control how other people act in traffic.  I haven’t seen one like this for awhile. Could I have handled it better?  Yes.  I should have backed off and let her get ahead of me, but I thought taking the first exit would have been enough. Sometines you just run into people that take great umbrage at motorcyclists having an advantage of getting through traffic easier — thank heavens that in California people like her can be charged with attempted murder.

Wherever you are Val, I can’t believe your life is so small and shallow, and you’re so mean-spirited.  You need to get some help before your road rage kills a less-experienced rider.