Saturday 30 November 2013

Motorbike Magazine Mania

Since I'm in riding withdrawal I've been continuing my overdose on motorcycle media.

In one of the many magazines I've been picking up I came across the Overland Adventure Rally, which happens to be only about half an hour away from where I live.  I won't be participating on a Ninja, but I'm working on that.

The magazine picks have been many and varied.  On the Canadian side I have picked up Inside Motorcycles and Canadian Biker.

 IM is very race focused so I've been trying to use it to get a grip on what racing is offered/popular in Canada.  I stumbled across the last MotoGP race of the year on SPEED and gave it a watch.  Utter madness!  But more entertaining than any F1 race I watched this season.

I'm still partial to British bike magazines and pick them up when I come across them.  Motorcycle Sport & Leisure is written from older perspective but the mag holds up the quality end of British magazines.  Few ads, lots of articles on a wide range of subjects, well written too. 
BIKE magazine is a big one in the UK and I can see why.  The writing is top notch, I was laughing out loud as I read one piece on all the ways an author has fallen off a motorcycle.  

I'd pick up Adventure Bike Rider again, but it was hard to find even when I was in the UK this summer.

These hard to find British magazines may drive me to reading on a tablet just so I can get at them.

Cycle Canada is the only bike magazine I've gotten a subscription to so far, no regrets there.

Sunday 24 November 2013

The Bike Hole is Completeth!

The bike hole is done!  From an unfinished, uninsulated garage, I now have a bike hole that'll warm up to room temperature with a small space heater.  Not only is it warm, but it's also organized!

After removing the mouse nest from the toolbox and getting rid of three garbage bags of nonsense, the garage is now a workable space.  Thanks to a tsunami in Japan the upstairs is a workable storage space (instead of a week in Japan I spent days putting flooring into the attic).

Motorbike prints from Norfolk!
Between prints and some well done motorcycle 4x6 photos, I've managed to make a motorbike maker space without a single poster and some inspirational images for a long, cold Canadian winter.  With all the mess organized and stored in the attic there would be room for a couple of bikes in there comfortably.

The current list of things to do:
  • take the fairings off the Ninja and refinish the frame
  • find an old project bike that I can break down as a learning exercise
  • find a good introduction to motorcycle mechanics' text

Saturday 23 November 2013

Motorcycle Media Musings

If you're in the mood for a motorbike adventure to the top of the world, give yourself fifty minutes and give this a watch...  

Evidently the company that runs this trip is no longer doing business, but here's hoping they are able to get it going again, what a journey.

This is a compilation of amazing video.  Other than the first track I generally enjoyed the musical accompaniment too.

What surprised me was the level of acrobatic control that is possible on a bike, and the drifting is astonishing.  Between the stunt bike riding and the race footage, it makes me wonder how someone learns this degree of control.  A bike with no plastic fairings that got dropped a lot must be somewhere in their past.  I've often thought that an old dirt bike that I could drop without worrying about it would help me get a feel for the limits on a bike, even at low speeds.

On a now-for-something-completely-different in terms of motorbike media, I'm finishing up the bike hole.  For decoration I wanted something bikey.  My wife got me some fantastic hand drawn prints while we were in England this summer, so they were destined for the finished garage.  

I also wanted some clean pictures of modern bikes that I like.  We just set up a photo printing station at work, so I found some clean, high-def side views of bikes on white backgrounds that made for some nice 4x6s.

The end result is a nicely bike themed bike hole.  It's not quite finished yet, but it's looking good.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Bike Hole

No room for a car, but a bike...
A long Canadian winter approaches.  Rather than look longingly out into an unusable, uninsulated garage full of junk I'm getting my home reno on and finishing it.

It's supposed to be a single car garage, but with the vent system intrusions and everything else in there I couldn't even fit a Mazda2 into it.  It's turned into more of a shed than a garage.

Since getting the Ninja I've been working on it in the garage.  It was fine over the summer, but with frost on the ground the floor is nasty cold and the wind seems to push the cold through the unfinished walls.

Unfinished, cold and messy...
Step one was to figure out how to finish it.  Rather than dry walling it like the house side of it is, I'm going with wood panels so I can mount shelves where I want them rather than only where studs are available.

It cost under $300 for the paneling, insulation, paint and hardware to do it, not bad for what will be a warm garage at the end.  I'm also going to look at some rubber garage flooring for parts of it, so that will push it over $300, but still a bargain considering I'll get a huge work space out of it.
Saturday afternoon, halfway there...

This past weekend with lows in the -4c at night, I started on it, stripping the shelving off the walls and removing the home made bench at the back.  With all of the stuff under a tarp on the driveway (in the rain), I insulated and hung the board.  

By the end of Sunday I had the three unfinished walls insulated and the board up.  The only slow down was not looking up as I moved down the wall putting up the board.  As I went up the ladder I drilled my head into the garage door hardware hanging from the ceilling.  Head wounds bleed a lot, especially when you get a jagged cut from a rough metal hanger.

I took Monday off (head hurting), and went back at it again Tuesday after work, putting on an unfinished can of primer.  I'll finish the priming this week and paint it next weekend.  Last night when I was doing the priming a single, small space heater made it comfortable in there, it was below zero outside.

The end result will be warm and finished with better lighting and twice the workbench area, more shelving and better organization, so the gardening equipment doesn't take over again.  I'm still thinking about what to put on the walls...

Saturday 2 November 2013

Café racer

I've been getting a handle on café racer culture recently.  A good place to start is the documentary below available on youtube:

A motorcycle phenomenon that combines DIY backyard mechanics, customization, restoration, links to British post war culture and a focus on pure two wheeling?  I'm in!  When you also factor in the old RAF inspired bike gear café racing only gets better.

What first got me thinking about it was It's Better In The Wind, a beautifully shot and music themed short art piece about friends on their classic café racers.  As a mood piece it captured a lot of the gritty romanticism in motorcycling.

Last summer I was reading Shopclass As Soulcraft, and in it Matt Crawford described motorcycling as 'a beautiful war', which captured the risk and reward beautifully.  That book is mind expanding stuff written by a guy who walked away from academia and the magical thinking of the thought economy to open his own independent bike repair shop.  It's a must read, change your life kind of book that will make you want to get your hands busy again; just the sort of thing that racer building encourages.

I've tried my hand at restoring old cars or just keeping them on the road, but that tended to be a make it work to get to work kind of situation, lots of stress in that.  This is a hands on project that may very well lapse into a piece of rolling sculpture.  Mechanics, electronics and sculpture? I'm in love with the idea!

So, I'm on the lookout for an old bike that needs to come in out of the cold for the winter, one that's looking for a new lease on life.  It can be rusty and rough, the more it needs changing the more I'll want to change.  The end result will only enhance the feeling of oneness I've already felt with the Ninja.

There are many café racer links that will catch you up online:

1964: The 'leather boys' later generation rockers on modded cafe racers

Rocker style, 1950s England

One of the genesis locations for Cafe Racing culture ACE CAFE

The leather jackets, boots and gloves, the helmets and googles, RAF uniforms
were an obvious inspiration for the cafe racer look