Tuesday 28 July 2020

Stunt Riding is Easier Than You Think in Ontario (and everywhere else evidently)

We were at SMART Adventures Off-road Training last week.  You should go, same price as a day out watching professional sports-ball, but you're the athlete and what you learn there will raise your bikecraft to another level.  While there I got an opportunity to go out for a ride on the new BMW 1250GS with the legendary Clinton Smout.  The new GS is a thing of beauty and a very capable machine, but what struck me most about it was how high the handlebars are set; the bike is very easy to ride while standing on the pegs, which is one of the 'command' positions when riding a dual sport or adventure bike.  I'm a tall guy (6'3") and often have to bend too much to operate a bike from the pegs, but not on that GS. 

We switched to the big bikes after a couple of hours riding trials bikes, which don't have seats at all.  Standing up for that long on these super light weight, powerful and very twitchy machines pretty much wiped me out, so a chance to ride BMW's latest evolution of the legendary GS was a nice change.  It was a blisteringly hot day well into the mid-thirties Celsius and I was drenched after the trials gymnastics, so I did what I usually do and stand up on the pegs once we got moving to air out a bit and get a feel for how the bike moves.

Clinton doing pre-flight checks on the
BMW - it's a digital machine.
When we stopped for a coffee Clinton said something that surprised me.  A friend of his was charged with "stunt riding" for standing on his pegs while riding.  He wasn't doing anything silly or speeding, he just stood up on the pegs on a bike designed to help you control it that way.  This charge is an officer's discretion situation and the OPP officer who pulled him over who may very well have no understanding of motorcycling or this kind of dual purpose machine made the decision that this was stunting.  He fought it in court, but the judge told him if he wanted to stretch he should just pull over to the side of the highway and stretch, which is the kind of advice that'll get you killed.  Along with that bad advice he got whacked with a crippling stunt driving charge.  I can't imagine what this does on your driving record for insurance, let alone the fines and possible jail time.  This is the same charge as doing over 150 kms/hr on a public road!

I've frequently stood up on the pegs while riding in order to maintain a level of comfort by cooling off or stretching that would allow me to ride with better focus.  I've only done this on adventure bikes designed for it and there is no intention of stunting in this.  At other times I've done it to navigate particularly gnarly pavement and construction or provide greater situational awareness by better seeing what's ahead.  The types of bikes I ride are designed to use this variation in rider position to actually enhance control of the vehicle.  Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but ignorance of riding dynamics and best safety practices are evidently par for the course.

The only place 'motorcycle' is mentioned in the law is around wheelies,
otherwise generalizations about cars are all we get.
There was a recent local news article that talked about all the stunt driving going on in the area.  One of the infractions listed in from the Ontario Traffic Act where it looks at the definition of stunt driving is driving while not in the driver's seat.  The intent there is obviously aimed at a car, but Ontario likes to cast a wide net so it can charge citizens and tax them with fines without question, so the vagueness is left in there intentionally and it cost Clinton's buddy big.  This once again reminds me of just how aggressively Ontario pillories motorcyclists.

I'm very conscious of how physically challenging motorcycle riding is and consider it a priority to retain maximum focus and control of these potentially dangerous vehicles.  In Ontario, where riders can't split traffic and filter, and where temperatures in the summer can easily hit danger levels, the unprotected motorcyclist under the baking sun is forced to sit in stationary traffic and fumes and isn't even allowed to stand up to get some air when things move?  It's like Ontario wants to kill people who ride.

I've gone on rides at various times where road conditions are such that standing on the pegs actually helps me navigate circumstances and manage road hazards more safely.  Standing on the pegs can, as CycleWorld describes it, turn "you into a dynamic part of your bike" and "an active part of the suspension."  Thanks to Ontario's vague laws and officious police force and judiciary I can get had up for stunt riding when I stand up to correctly navigate terrible road surfaces (of which Ontario has many), road construction (of which Ontario has lots) or if I simply need a better look at what is happening ahead.  Situation awareness is just another one of the many benefits of standing on your pegs, but Ontario is more interested in charging citizens with harsh, non-specific generalizations that can financially cripple them than it is with focusing motorcyclists on safe operation.

The general advice online is if you need to stand just lift your butt a bit so you can make the argument that you aren't standing - you are and you're breaking the law, but at least you're putting your life at risk doing it wrong so it looks legal.  This doesn't offer you optimal control, but safe operation of a motorcycle isn't what we're going after anymore, is it?  The other way out is to have a nice, amiable chat with the officer and assure them that what you're doing is pertinent to the nature of the multi-disciplinary machine you're on.  You might not be able to make that argument with sports bikes or cruisers, but if your bike has any off road pretensions, standing on the pegs is something it was designed for that actually helps a rider manage difficult terrain while offering real benefits in situational awareness.

Next time I'm on an atrocious Ontario road getting my teeth knocked out by a loose and dangerous surface I imagine I'll do the safe thing and stand up to better manage it, but I better keep an eye out for the law while I do it.  Wouldn't it be something is safe vehicle operation was what drove our laws instead of vagaries that allow officious cops to make criminals of otherwise law abiding citizens?


Ontario's Traffic Act in relation to 'stunt driving'

"Under the Highway Traffic Act, those convicted of stunt driving or street racing could face a fine ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, a prison term of six months and a driving suspension."

"Standing while riding does more than make you look cool and allow you to stretch your legs – it will keep you balanced and in control of your motorcycle."  Marisa McInturff, Motorcycle Safety Foundation

"your feet are crucial points of contact with and control of the bike. Standing up on the pegs turns you into a dynamic part of your bike rather than just dead weight. It makes you an active part of the suspension."

Ontario isn't the only jurisdiction where the law is out of whack with vehicle dynamics and common sense.

More insanity, this time from BC, where the majority of roads aren't paved by you can't stand up and provide better control and safety while riding!  "a majority of BC’s roads are unpaved and by the letter this law does endanger, if not make outlaws of, responsible dual sport, & adventure riders."

"You want to be standing up straight, but with a slight bend in your knees and elbows, in order to keep good control over the bike’s movement."

"because of the physics of a motorcycle and the percentage of the weight of the bike the rider makes up, leaning off the bike in a turn has a huge effect on the bike’s handling" - in Ontario (and elsewhere) making effective use of that high percentage of control your body mass affords you on a motorbike is illegal.

"Conspicuity of the motorcycle is a critical factor in the multiple vehicle accidents" - I hadn't thought of that, but standing up does make you more conspicuous.

Saturday 25 July 2020

Triumph Tiger 955i Valve Clearance Check

I just measured the valve clearances on the Tiger.  They're supposed to be checked every 20,000kms, I've put 27k on it since I've had it and who knows when they were done previously, so this was well past due.

Getting to the valves isn't that problematic since I've gotten gas tank removals down to under 10 minutes while I try and trace down this frustrating inability to idle.  Here are the numbers:

Cylinder             Intake                     Exhaust
             .13mm & .10mm       .20mm & .23mm
      2         .13mm & .10mm       .20mm & .20mm
      3         .13mm & .10mm       .20mm & .23mm

Intakes are supposed to be 0.10-0.15mm, so they're all within spec.  Exhausts are supposed to be gapped at  0.15 to 0.20mm, so a couple are on the cusp, though they're a tight 0.23mm (you have to push the spacer in there like you mean it - the .2mm is still snug, just not as).

Turning the engine with the rear wheel in top gear was pretty easy - don't grab the spokes, use the tire, you get more torque and it turns pretty easily.  As you turn the back wheel you get the cams pointing up, which is when you check clearances by sliding a feeler gauge under the cam and above the shim.

This Spurtar 32 blade feeler gauge from Amazon is a nicely made thing that offered me a full range of tapered ends that covered what I needed for checking valve clearances on this 955i Triumph Tiger. 

With the Tiger's timing pretty much to spec valve clearance wise, it suggests that my intermittent stalling problem isn't related to valve clearances.  Working on older bikes (and watching Car S.O.S.) has me well aware of what fails on older vehicles:  RUBBER!  Perished rubbers are Tim's go-to in Car S.O.S. when it comes to restoring an old vehicle - this Tim is thinking that's the issue with this 17 year old Tiger too.

I spent today putting things back together and double checking everything.  The vacuum system that feeds the idle control wasn't plugged in 1-2-3 (I had it 1-3-2).  That's something stupid enough that it might be the culprit.  At this point I don't care what it is, I just want the bike to idle to the point where I can depend on it to not stall on me and leave me hanging.

If I get it all back together and find that I'm still stuck with an intermittent stall I'm going to start systemically replacing all the rubbers in it.  Doing a deep cleaning on the fuel injectors is an idea too.  I ran into an old guy at Canadian Tire who swore by Sea Foam for cleaning fuel systems, so I got a can.  I've got some in the Tiger tank for the rebuild which will hopefully be done by tomorrow.  In a perfect world the Tiger will be back to normal and I can go after the valves in the winter if I'm so inclined.  If it's still stalling out on me, It'll be a perished rubber hunt next.

I'm already on it, replacing things as I find them...

It seemed like an extraneous expense when I got this set from our local NAPA auto parts shop, but having o-ring replacements at hand saves a lot of waiting.

A very shiny valve cover going back together again.  10Nm is all you tighten the valve cover down to.

Replacing the o-rings at the fuel inputs (I replaced the original terrible plastic ones with these aeronautically sound stainless steel ones shortly after getting the Tiger). 

I was hoping to get it all together, but I'm fabricating rubber grommets and trying to look into details as I go, so this is as far as I got in the 35°C heat.

Sunday 19 July 2020

Triumph 955i Stalling Issues Part 3, between a rock and a hard place

This started in June with intermittent stalling.  I've done all the obvious things like spark plugs, fuel and air filters, but the problem persisted intermittently, so I had another go at it in JulyThe Tiger has been my go-to ride for over four years now.  I've put over twenty-seven thousand kilometres on it, and up until this year it's been as dependable as a sunrise.

This week I chased down some other possible electrical issues.  The ECU was covered in muck so I cleaned it up and sealed the plastic underbody around it so it won't get mucky again any time soon.  I then found out how to test the ECU relay under the seat:

That's the main how-to test Triumph 955i relays video, here are the two follow up videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwkhX461GjM   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDmh7FdpDDQ

Everything else is sorted on the bike, so I'm down to the valves, which I really should have done in the winter.  I'm now between a rock and a hard place since I'm not sure I'm hanging on to the Tiger and it takes weird, old 25mm over bucket shims that Japanese bikes haven't used since the '80s.  Modern bikes use much smaller under bucket shims.   My nearest dealer is far away and dropping off the bike there would be a real hassle, so I'm looking at getting the Triumph valve shim removal tool T3880012.  But you don't need that if you're willing to remove the cams, so now I'm elbow deep into pulling most of the top end out if I want to avoid getting a special tool for a bike I'm selling on. 

On the other hand, one of the reasons I got into bikes was to get back into mechanics, and any self respecting rider should know how to do valves, so I'm kinda keen to do the job since I haven't done it yet.  I'm just shying away from sidelining my long distance motorbike in the middle of a too-short Canadian riding season while I wait for COVID crippled parts delivery on a 17 year old European bike.  The valves need doing anyway, but doing them might still not sort out the stalling issue, which would be very aggravating.

If I can move the Honda on I'd get the C14 Concours I've been eyeing and then the Tiger could take as much spa time as it needed.  I just had the Honda up for a few days in the four thousands, which is high for what it is, and only got an offer for a trade.  I'm going to put it up this week in the threes and see if it goes, then I can do some shuffling and take the weight of expectations off the old Tiger.

Motorcycle Valve Adjustment Research:

Good primer on valve clearance from Revzilla:  https://www.revzilla.com/common-tread/why-do-bikes-use-shim-under-bucket-valve-adjusters

Why higher revving bike engines have bikes have solid rather than hydraulic valve lifters that need adjusting (cars and Harleys rev less and so use hydraulic/self adjusting valve lifters:  https://www.quora.com/Why-do-motorcycles-require-valve-adjustments-when-automobiles-dont-require-them

Why checking your valve adjustment is important.

Triumph 955i specific valve clearance primer:  https://www.canyonchasers.net/2006/02/triumph-t955i-valve-adjustment-tips-tricks/

Local advice on how hard it is to find 25mm shims for the Triumph 955i engine: https://www.gtamotorcycle.com/xf/threads/help-looking-for-25mm-valve-shims.201738/

Some 955i engines are under bucket shims, the Tiger has over bucket shims (which is why the tool is needed if you don't want to remove the cam):  https://www.triumphrat.net/threads/05-955i-valve-shims.6986/

Good advice on when to do your valve clearances (when you stop hearing the valves 'rustle'): https://www.mikesxs.net/25mm-valve-shims-sizes-2-30-to-3-10-honda-yamaha-triumph.html

Shim sizing on 955i Triumphs (25mm over bucket shims are hard to find!):  https://www.triumphrat.net/threads/2000-955i-shim-diameter.230758/

BikeBandit has the tool (1-2 week wait, and a 25mm shim set for $335US/$455CAD because even though the US is making a mess of COVID19, their currency seems to be immune to their poor management.

At this point I'm stuck between over four hundred bucks in tools, parts and the opportunity to do my first valve adjustment and whatever Inglis Cycle gets back to me with costs wise - though that'll also include having to get it over 140kms down there and get it back again on another day.  If they get back to me with a price north of $600 and a long delay in getting it done, I'll be going after the tools to DIY it, though I don't want to go crazy with a fancy set of 25mm shims when most modern bikes don't seem to use these big over bucket shims any more.

I'd go with Fortnine, but for some reason they're selling the identical shim kit to BikeBandit ($179US/$243CAD) for $278CAD. 

If I can move the Honda, I could get the C14 Concours and then have time to work on the Tiger without depending on it as my main long distance tool.  On the other hand, selling the Honda means I've just sold the only bike that's working right at the moment.  The Tiger picked a bad time during the summer of COVID to tighten up on me, though I'm well past when the valves should have been checked so I only really have myself to blame.

Saturday 18 July 2020

Triumph 955i Engine Stalling: next steps

The Tiger continues to stall out on me at the most inopportune times.  It starts from cold and idles high, but once warm the lower idle doesn't seem to hold and the bike will stall, but not all the time, only when I really don't want it to.  Riding back from Haliburton last weekend, the bike stalled at lights and when I got stuck in traffic on a 6 lane highway traffic jam during a rain storm, but when I pulled over later it idled normally.  This kind of intermittent failure is very hard to diagnose.

Looking up the issue online, intermittent stalling on a Triumph 955i engine seems to be an issue.  I've replaced the idle control system and tested the vacuum tubes again (no leaks), so I don't think that's the issue.  It might be a sensor that doesn't return information consistently, but there are a lot of sensors feeding the computer that controls the fuel injection, so unless the bike is showing an error, I don't want to start replacing them willy-nilly.

The bike does occasionally show errors on the Tuneboy Software that came with the bike:

July 1st it showed:
P0113 Intake air temperature sensor
P0230 fuel pump relay fault
P1231 fuel pump relay open

P0462 fuel level sensor input
P0463 fuel level sensor input
P0505 Idle control system malfunction
... but then they all seemed to go away and the bike was running well when I left for the long ride last weekend (over 800kms over 2 days), at least until I was riding home at the end of it when the intermittent stalling returned.  It was showing this again this week:

I'm not sure that the air temperature sensor would be enough to stall out the engine, but this at least gives me a couple of things to look into: that air temp sensor and the fuel level sensor (though again, that shouldn't affect the idle).

Some advice people have given (on the internet, so take this advice with a healthy dose of skepticism) is that out of balance throttle bodies might cause the issue, so I got a Carbmate vacuum balancer from Fortnine who have their shit back together as far as filling orders go and got it to me in less than 2 days (use UPS, not Canada Post, who are still not working properly).

I balanced the throttle bodies with it, but the stalling persists.  I'm now looking at the mapping for the bike in addition to keeping an eye on errors that might pop up.  This video uses Easy Tune, which I haven't monkeyed with, but gives the impression that early Triumph electronic fuel injection was a bit of a mess and many dealers don't know how to resolve it:

That's a bit worrying because if I'm still stumped I was going to take the Tiger down to Inglis Cycle and have them resolve this with some factory testing, but if I'm going to pay dealer rates and get the bike back still stalling, that's not cool.

TuneECU was a free Windows software download (it's still available but not supported any more), but now it's an Android app you have to pay for (though fifteen bucks isn't unreasonable if it gives you control over your bike's ECU).  Unfortunately the Tuneboy cable and software I have isn't directly compatible with it without some dark Windows driver mojo (newer windows auto-install a driver that doesn't work with the old chipset on the Tuneboy cable).  Triumph uses the same FTDi FT232RL VAG-COM OBDII/USB cable as VW does, but I think I'm going to try and resolve any mapping issues with the Tuneboy since it came with the bike and works.

I think I'm going to go back and look at the fuel pump relay and the wiring for it as an intermittent fault there would starve the engine and cause stalling.  Less likely are the air temperature sensor and fuel level sensor, which have been a bit whacky with the fuel gauge going from full to empty and back to full again, but I don't see how that could cause a stall.  If there's gas in the tank, the engine will use it.

My order of operations is:
- fuel pump relay (which might have gotten wet at a recent cleaning, so it's on my mind)
- fuel level sensor
- air temperature sensor

If they aren't crazy expensive, I might just get all 3 new rather than paying shipping x3, which would probably cost more than the parts.



"throttle slides were out of balance"

fuel injector/carb syncronizer

vin looker upper if you're wanting to confirm year and make

'free' ECU tuning options for Triumphs - early FI Triumphs seem to have a number of issues

video guide to TuneECU (I can't stand online how-to videos, I prefer text. Waiting for 30 second intros each time drives me around the bend, but maybe you like that

chip drivers for FTDI cables

Using a Tuneboy cable with TuneECU

connections issue with TuneECU (I found Tuneboy pretty straight forward, but it's a more expensive option that I'm using only because it came with the bike)

Parts diagram for a 2003 Triumph Tiger 955i focusing on the EFI relay (it's under the seat) Triumph RELAY, EFI Part # T2502109

Friday 3 July 2020

DGR: Social Connections Challenge: Remember The Ride

I took a swing at the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride Social Connections Challenge with MOTR Garage in the last post, but that idea might not tick the "innovative and disruptive" box - motorcycle coops already exist, though not in the format I'm suggesting.  My angle was to leverage retired teachers to connect men inter-generationally, but otherwise it's an existing concept and not particularly disruptive, though it is scalable anywhere public education exists.

I just heard back from Motorcycle-Diaries and learned that I did not win their 2020 Dream Ride Contest, though being a top 5 finalist worldwide was pretty good by itself.  The winning trip by Theo De Paepe on riding to the northern lights is a moving piece worthy of the win.  Participating in this contest and reading all of these moving dream rides got me thinking about how digital connectivity might be used to reach out to younger potential riders lost in the digital wastes of 2020.

My own piece for that contest was on riding my granddad Bill's path though France as a part of the British Expeditionary Force in 1939 and 1940 before the Blitzkrieg swept them out of continental Europe.  William Morris's war record was another one of those family secrets that wasn't talked about, but his military service during World War 2 is the stuff of film.  One of only a handful of his RAF squadron that escaped occupied France, Bill recovered downed planes during the Battle of Britain and then experienced three harrowing years in Northern Africa fighting Rommel as a driver in the RAF armoured car division.  He finished his tour in the white helmets motorcycle stunt team, doing drill and stunts on motorbikes!

Discovering my Granddad's history was a great way to reconnect with a man I was close with as a child, but lost connection with when we emigrated to Canada.  As I was working through that family history I uncovered another mystery the family had been very quiet about, the death of my great aunt Faye.  My mum's middle name was Faye, but I hadn't realized she was named after her aunt.  I also didn't know that Faye had died in a motorcycling accident in Norfolk in the mid-sixties when she was hit by an army lorry.  My mother had always stridently opposed me riding, and now that all suddenly made sense.  That my great aunt's death ended my granddad's life long love of riding and also prevented me from getting on a motorcycle when I first started driving is a lasting source of frustration.

Motorcycling isn't easy, but it speaks to your very being, and it tends to self-select a certain kind of person.  It tends to run in families because families are literally all certain kinds of people.  Trying to bury my motorcycling family history only worked on me because I was an immigrant child separated from his extended family.  While I had uncles and cousins riding in the UK, I was oblivious in another country.

Finding my way back to my motorcycling gene played a big part in me eventually getting my license, though I'm frustrated at the lost decades I could have been riding.  It got me thinking about how many people are separated from family and live in a cultural void where they feel like they come from no one and from nowhere.  But we all have history, and many of us will have ancestors who rode.  Motorcycles used to be transportation before they became recreation.  Any rider can tell you how often an old timer will come up and start chatting about a bike they once owned - it happens to me on the Tiger all the time (Triumph is an old brand with a long history and a lot of old-timers have owned one).

DGR's Social Connections Challenge wants to focus on disruptive, on-the-ground projects that help socially disaffected men who are more prone to suicide.  As a group, immigrant children are more socially disaffected than most, growing up in a strange country where they have no extended family.  The UN's latest report has over two-hundred and seventy million people living as immigrants in countries they weren't born.  On top of that there are many more people living without connection to their family history for various reasons.  Having grown up in a place where I had deep roots and moving to North America, I often meet people who have no idea where their families came from or even who anyone was before their grand parents.  In the early 20th Century motorcycles were transport, not a recreational activity, so many people have family history on two wheels they know nothing about.  I speak from personal experience when I say that making that connection is a powerful thing.

With that in mind, here's another pitch to DGR's Social Connections Challenge:

Granddad Bill on his bike in rural Norfolk well before I was born.
Inspiration:  As an immigrant child I’ve been separated from my extended family for most of my adult life and missed out on motorcycling through family as a result.  After my grandmother’s death I returned home to England for the first time in three decades and discovered secret family motorcycling history which prompted me to get my license.  Family connections have allowed me to bypass the postmodern amnesia many people face; that feeling that we are no one from nowhere. Ride To Remember would be an online resource that connects riders and would be riders to their family motorcycling history.  Realizing that riding is a part of your personal history is powerful.  Not only would this encourage new riders to ride by normalizing what is now considered a high risk activity in our sedentary, safety-first societies, but it would also reconnect us to a sense of continuity and belonging through our own family history.  Motorcycling is an acknowledgement of an inclination that often has roots going back generations.

Target Group:  disassociated men who feel that they don’t have a culture or family history related to riding.  The UN reports over 270 million people have immigrated internationally, and many others are separated from family through circumstances such as adoption.

Proposed Solution:  An interactive website/online community that collects and shares family history related to motorcycling: an ancestry.com for motorcyclists.  By connecting disenfranchised men to their family history, I hope to offer them the same sense of belonging and cultural connection that I have discovered.  By leveraging online connectivity and modern data management, Ride To Remember collates historical motorcycle related media in an easy to access database surrounded by a engaged community that encourages disassociated men to rediscover their moto-roots.

Project vision:  the pilot period involves setting up a .org site that creates an online relational database of motorcycling history using existing online documents tagged with details that allow users to search for material based on time, geographic location, names and other details.  A.I. image recognition software would be used to web-crawl and archive historical motorcycle related online images and online sources.  Long standing manufacturers, museums and vintage motorcycling organizations already have online presences that would provide regional structures in this growing information cloud.   With a growing data structure in place, analytics would allow users to quickly find connections.  They would also be encouraged to add information to the database, further enriching it.  We are at a pivotal time where a lot of analogue material will get lost in digital translation, this project would also encourage digitization of photos and documents for future motorcyclists.  The final stage would be an interactive database that connects people to their motorcycling past and reminds us that none of us comes from no one, nowhere.

Project leads:  writers, photographers and family historians who ride (like myself), anyone with family history in riding (motorbikes used to be family transport!) would be encouraged to share their ancestral motorcyclists.

Project title:  Ride To Remember



The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride Social Connections:

Over 270 million immigrants in the world today:

My granddad's war history and my great aunt's death while riding was hidden family history that, once exposed, allowed me to embrace riding in a deep and personal way:

The Motorcyclist, by George Elliot Clarke - an ode to George's father, who rode at a time when Canada made it difficult for black men to do anything:

We live in a broken world where families are torn apart while chasing (or being stolen) by globalism.  There is a power in riding that self selects a certain kind of person.  Remember The Ride will reconnect lost people to family two-wheel roots that run deep.

Pier 21 in Halifax is the location of the Canadian Immigration Museum.  As a nation of immigrants, Canada is particularly prone to family amnesia.

Wednesday 1 July 2020

Distinguished Gentleman's Ride: Social Connections Challenge

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride is something I've wanted to participate in for a while now, though I never seem to have 'the right kind of bike', which is frustrating.  Fortunately I can grow a bad moustache as well as anyone else, so I've Movembered multiple times.

The DGR started in 2012 and has become a world wide event collecting millions in donations focused on men's health.  One of the main focuses of the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride is suicide.  Men are much more likely to do it and the DGR is now finding ways to support men socially so that they don't feel like this is a solution.  I've got family history with suicide and greatly appreciate the work this Australian charitable organization do around men's health, and particularly their focus on suicide prevention.  You can submit an idea up until July 6th, 2020.

I'm three of those things, so being mindful of suicide
is a wise approach.
As I was reading over this initiative I immediately thought of the various motorcycling cooperatives I've seen online where people get together and work on motorcycles, sharing tools and expertise.  The teacher in me likes the idea that this kind of mentoring could happen in a generational setting where both older men with knowledge and skills to share, could mentor new would-be riders who want to develop technical skills as they get into motorcycling.

Here's the goal for this project:

DGR continues by saying:  We know that:

  • The cultivation of healthy close relationships can increase individual resilience and act as a protective factor against suicide
  • Friends and family can be a significant source of social, emotional and financial support, and can buffer against the impact of external stressors
  • Traditional methods for engaging men about their health are often not effective and deter men from taking action for better health outcomes.
  • Programs designed specifically by and for men and reach them where they naturally gather are more successful.

O U R   S O L U T I O N  –  A N   I N N O V A T I V E F U N D I N G   O P P O R T U N I T Y :

Movember and DGR are proud to challenge the creative and forward-thinking people of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and the US to rethink the box and deliver innovative, concepts that lead to game-changing solutions targeting social connectedness, life satisfaction and mental wellbeing of motorcycle riders. For this initiative, we have prioritised middle-aged men who ride motorcycles and are dealing with key life challenges, and young riders in need of mentorship.

The focus goes on to explain exactly what they're looking for, so while I love the idea of a motorcycling cooperative franchise idea that would prompt shared garages all over the place rather than just in high hipster content urban locations, it might not be as scalable and on target for this project, but I'm going to pitch it anyway.

Here are the look-fors if you're thinking about submitting an idea (and if you've got one, you should):
The Inspiration Statement should describe the following:
  • Your inspiration for this Challenge
  • Who your target group would include
  • Your proposed solution to help male motorcyclists within your target group build relationships to increase their level of social connection, life satisfaction and well-being in an innovative and disruptive way
  • A brief description of your vision for the project beyond the pilot period
  • Project lead (and potential partners if known at this stage)
  • Project title
Inspiration:  I'm a technology teacher in our local high school.  This pathway began for me with my dad, who was a machinist and mechanic in the UK before we emigrated to Canada in 1977. We weren't well off, so if I wanted a car I had to know how to keep it going, and he always spent the time to do that work with me.  One day I asked him how he knew what to do as we repaired a head gasket on my car, and he said something that has stayed with me since, "if a person designed and built it, I can figure out how to repair it."  His mentor-ship led me to my career as a vocational skills teacher.  I've since watched generations of students develop their hands-on skills in technical trades.  I tried to start a high school motorcycling club a few years ago and got laughed out of the meeting.  Schools won't touch motorcycling, but there are other ways to introduce riding that benefit from the credibility and mentoring a teacher can provide.

Target Group:  cooperative education students (many of these are higher risk kids who lack male mentors), recent graduates who are usually forgotten by the system, young men in the community who may know the teacher from when they were in school, and middle-aged men who might even be parents of students; teachers connect through generations in their communities.

Proposed Solution:  MOTR Garages vertically connect men across generations.  Social isolaton can become particularly acute as men retire.  By recognizing and leveraging the skills and networks of retired teachers, this project provides a platform for older men to share their experience and expertise with younger men interested in motorcycling.  By giving older men purpose and an opportunity to share their experience, this project will offer a social space that many men lack.  Motorcycle mechanics offer men an opportunity to socially connect without off-putting social expectations.  While interested in the idea of biking, many younger men have no idea how to get into it. Through a shared motorcycle workspace, MOTR Garages provide a place for men to gather and learn around a shared love of riding.

Project vision:  Create a pathway for retired teachers to retain their links in the community and continue to share their experience and expertise with new generations of riders.  Schools won’t support a high risk activity like motorcycling, but many teachers ride and have developed mentoring and teaching skills that would facilitate the technical confidence many younger men lack.  Working through cooperative education in education and directly with men in the community, many of whom may be former students, MOTR Garages creates a space that values generational experience and sharing in a society intent on diminishing this connection between men.

Project leads:  retired educators with mechanical experience and a love of motorcycling; you'd be surprised at how many teachers ride.

Project title:  Mentoring Old-Hacks Tenacious Rookies  (MOTR Garage)