Who am I and why the hell should you care about reading my blog?

Avid motorcyclist & freelance writer, specializing in motorcycles & motorcycle related topics, with a healthy dose of good humor, good vibes & general advice on simply being a good person.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Not all motorcycles are Harley-Davidsons...and that's perfectly OK.

As the title, implies... this is not going to be about Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Instead, let's just say it's about motorcycles in general... and the love and passion that they inspire.

A good friend of mine acquired a motorcycle a while back from a family member. It's an old bike, not necessarily cool or trendy by today's standards and it wasn't even in good condition. It wasn't running, the tires were dry rotted and flat, the gas tank was rusty and had pinholes in it, one of the head gaskets was blown and just to add an extra level of aggravation to the mix- the carbs were off and not synchronized. I could go on, but why bother? Suffice to say that the bike, by most people's standards, would be considered ready for the scrap heap. But... not for my buddy, nope, he decided that he needed to save it.

Look, I'm pretty handy with a set of wrenches. I know enough basics to get me by, and I am definitely not afraid to take on the task of breathing life back into an old, dilapidated and neglected machine... especially a vintage motorcycle, but my advice to him was "just get a different bike, man." He ignored my advice and decided to start turning wrenches to see what would happen... and I'm so glad he did.

Now, you might have assumed that my friend is a master mechanic, maybe a custom bike builder or some kind of vintage motorcycle expert... and you'd be wrong. He's just a regular guy that goes to work every day and tries to do the best that he can do for the people that he works for. The funny thing is, he's not even a biker! He's never even really ridden a motorcycle before all of this and he sure as hell never rode this one. So, why in the hell would a guy like him, take on a task that even the most experienced of mechanics would shy away from for a bike that he has no idea about? Let's look further, shall we?

The bike in question is an 1983 Honda GL1100i, yep... an ole skool Goldwing Interstate... and his father-in-law gave it to him. The bike is from Canada and it sat in a garage, untouched for the better part of 15 years. When my buddy and his wife moved their family back to the good ole U.S. of A. from the land of maple syrup, he brought this crusty old 'Wing with him, not really even knowing what he might do with it at the time. But, after being bitten by the motorcycling bug (and maybe after receiving some, slight, pressure from yours truly), he decided to make a move on it. He looked at a few different options to bring the bike back to life, but ultimately decided to open up a service manual and start turning wrenches himself.

He's still working on it, but as ole Doc Frank N. Stein said... "that bitch is alive!"  My buddy, who could also be known as Doctor Goldwingenstein, has touched, almost, every part of this motorcycle. Gas tank- repaired, cleaned and sealed; head gaskets- replaced (twice on one... don't ask); timing belts (yeah, apparently some motorcycles need belts for timing, weird)- replaced; one head replaced and all valves lapped; carbs (all four of 'em- sheesh!) rebuilt and synchronized; ignition system- upgraded; brakes- currently being rebuilt; and- just for shits and giggles- every one of those old incandescent light bulbs from the era when John Hughes' movies were in theaters and when MTV actually played music videos (gasp!), you know, those bulbs that looked as if they were actually powered by candlelight, well, those have been replaced with modern LED units. Add to that, he's cleaned, painted, polished and tweaked some of the cosmetic stuff to give it a slightly more modern, but significantly cooler, look.

Some of you reading this may ask, why bother? At the end of the day, he still has a 1983 Goldwing that is so old that it doesn't even show up in the Blue Book or the Nada guides. You might even say, it's not worth the time and effort that he's put into it. But... and this is my favorite part of the true motorcycling culture... it's worth it to him. It has value to my buddy and his wife- in both a sentimental way and in a personal pride and achievement way. He got it running again, not some shop or some mechanic, but he did it. 

You see, that's the beauty of motorcycles and the motorcycling community as a whole. We see the beauty in things that others may not see. We understand that every bike has a story and that story just gets more interesting as it gets older. In a throw-away society, we choose to salvage these old machines, restore them, customize them and make them our own. Most people that would never even attempt to work on their own car, will turn a wrench on their bike without a second thought. It's because, in part, motorcycles are personal machines. They aren't one-size-fits-all, they are specifically fit to us. Not everybody has, or wants, the same kind of bike, the same make, model or even style. And... the really cool part, is that true motorcyclists don't care what their buddies ride, just as long as they share that common bond- the passion of riding.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Life is short, seize the damn day!

75 good years. That's about all we really have on this planet. Some people make it to, or just over, 100 years alive, but really, how much fun are they having at 100 years above dirt? How much hiking, climbing, skiing, biking, jogging, and/or playing with their grand kids or family are they doing? How much motorcycle riding are they doing?

I submit to you that, in reality, 75 years is probably a bit of an overestimate, but I'll stick to that number for now. You see, while we get credit for those first few years, let's be honest... that's like an introductory offer. For the first, say... 3 years of life, we're pretty much just eating, shitting and growing. We are learning that the stove is hot and that dirt tastes like, well, dirt. It's only after that 4th birthday that we really start getting into some fun times. The world is our playground... the only thing is, our world is only about the size of a playground and it consists of pretty much just our house and our yard. But... nevertheless, we still get credit for it. Once we start eating that birthday cake, we start having more fun, and if we do it right, we can maintain that fun for the next 75 years until our birthday cake looks like a small house fire. If and only if, we've half-assed taken care of ourselves, that is.

Now, I'm in no way trying to bring you down, on the contrary, actually. My point with telling you this is, to get you to stop wasting your time, wishing for the time that you can do, whatever it is that you want to do. The time is NOW. Go hike that trail, take that flight to Zimbabwe, run that marathon, or... for the purposes of my (hopefully fast growing number of) readers...BUY THAT DAMN MOTORCYCLE! I have a very good friend that wants a motorcycle. Every time I see him, I tell him, go get a bike... financing is available and new models are on the showroom floor, waiting to be bought, right now as we speak. But it's always the same thing with him... "not yet, I'm trying to pay off bills." That's great... totally understandable, more or less. Now, I'll be honest with you... you probably don't need to look to me for financial advice.... but... for motorcycle advice and for advice on happy living, I can probably give you some gems.

Let's get back to our timeline, shall we? So, from age 5 to 18, we are pretty much living the school life- learning how to interact with people, learning to fight, learning to love, learning to drive and of course, learning how to read, write and arithmetize. Those can be awkward times- dealing with pimples, bad hair styles and that weird thing that our voice does when we talk to girls. But, once we wrap that up, we are starting to really settle in to the good times. Some go to college, others go to work, but we all get to start doing what we want to do. By the time we graduate high school, we are left with, around 60 good years left. Unfortunately, for most of us, for the next few years, despite our best efforts, we are pretty much still struggling financially. We are dating, going to college or working to get past that "new guy" status in our job. Maybe we've found that special someone and we are making big plans for our future with them. Either way, while we are still trying to get our shit together, our timeline is slowly shrinking.

Every person's life takes a different course, but the reality is this- once we get through college, or internships, or training and we get settled in to that full time, grown -up, job that we have and after we get our family life situated, we are already closing the door on our 20's and our "good years" are already down to around 50 or so left. You see, when we are in our first few "good years", we keep saying, "when I grow up." When we are grown up, but still thinking about proms and that history test that we forgot to study for, we are saying, "when I graduate." And, of course, when we are grown up, graduated and we are living day-to-day, as adults, old enough to drink some hooch and pay our own light bills, we start saying, "when I can (insert whatever excuse you are telling yourself, here)."

I submit to you this- NOW is WHEN and WHEN is NOW. Do it before you can't. I was lucky enough to find a woman that, wholeheartedly, supports me and my motorcycle addiction. Sure, right at first, she wasn't exactly excited about it... I mean, after all, I was a father of two very young sons and I was already working in a pretty dangerous job. But, after we talked about it, she understood and slowly started warming up to the reality that she was married to a man who was, quite possibly, born with a V-twin powered heart. It's been nearly 20 years now that I've been back on two wheels and she's seen me go through about a dozen motorcycles. She even still has enough patience with me to let me keep a few and even supported me teaching my sons how to ride, which, for the protective momma bear that she is, was quite surprising!

Look folks, we aren't promised tomorrow. I've lost enough people in my life and I've seen death's grisly blank stare and bony fingers randomly take lives at every conceivable age and condition. Trust me... we aren't promised a single moment past this very one that we are in right now. Plan for tomorrow... plan for all the tomorrows. Hell, by all means, start planning for that 102nd birthday party... but by all the grace that may find you...LIVE for TODAY. Play with your kids, take your wife to that ridiculously overpriced restaurant and by all means... buy the motorcycle and go explore our world on it... do these things now, before you completely run out of those precious few "good years" you have left.

May peace be with you always, even when the days aren't so good.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Dyna LOVE!

I posted a picture of my Dyna Street Bob today on the 'Gram, just because I got a decent picture of it last weekend, and damn! What a response! There's a lot of people that absolutely LOVE the Harley-Davidson Dyna family of bikes, me being one of them. Which makes me wonder, just why in the world did the execs over at the MoCo decide to drop it from the lineup?

When H-D first introduced the Dyna, or the FXD line...waaaaay back in 1991, it was just the next in the generation of the middle-weight cruisers, a spawn of the FXR, if you will. But, the "new" bikes (Fat Bob, Street Bob, Low Rider and Low Rider 'S') are simply Dyna names in a whole different family... the Softails. Now, to give you an idea what the significance of that is, think about it like this... remember Jordan Peele's movie "Us"? That is sort of the same concept. A Softail Low Rider S is still a cool ass bike, but it's just a little...off. If you haven't seen the movie, then do yourself a favor and check it out...JP's got some cool (albeit twisted) story lines in his head. 

I did a slideshow a while back on the "death" of the Dyna... you can check it out here -Is the Dyna really dead?

MUCH thanks to all of y'all awesome folks that are hitting the like button on my InstaPics. It's really cool to see all the love for my "back from the dead" Street Bob from all over the world. If you haven't already, check out my space on the Instabook and Facegram here- Motowriter74 on Insta and Motowriter on the Book of faces


Alright, alright alright!

Welcome to my blog! So, this is new territory for me and I'm still not 100% sure what the hell I'm doing, but hopefully this comes through clear and understandable.

If you're wondering who I am and more importantly, WHY you should spend your precious time reading my blog or following me... please allow me a quick introduction-

My name is John Barnes and I'm pretty much just a regular guy with a regular job that happens to also be a huge motorcycle enthusiast. I'm a bit of an introvert, I'm married to my best friend and I am a proud dad. I have been riding motorcycles for a couple of decades now, and I have been writing for just a few years. Up till now, I only wrote for two places (this blog makes three, if it counts, that is). I learned that I had a knack for writing almost 20 years ago, when I wrote a few articles (opinion pieces mainly) for a local motorsports magazine. It didn't pay, but at the time, the novelty of seeing my words published in a print magazine was all the pay I needed. I couldn't keep up with it due to, well... life. It wasn't until three years ago, when I was perusing the ole interwebs that I came across an opportunity to start writing again. I sent in a sample and the next thing I knew, I was creating slideshow articles for Internet Brands' Harley-Davidson Forums (you can read my stuff here- https://www.hdforums.com/articles/author/john-barnes/).

So... WHY should you follow me? I don't know... I have a passion for motorcycles and for the joy that they bring and I know that there are a lot of folks out there that need just a little bit of joy. There's also a lot of negativity in the world and I strive to keep my head above those dark, murky waters. I want my readers to be entertained, enlightened and hopefully looking forward to the next publication. I will always bring my readers an honest, down to earth perspective that they can relate to and try to offer some helpful insights along the way. So, if you're still here, reading this...thanks for taking the time, your time, to read this and I really hope you follow my journey.

Sincerely- John Barnes, aka "MotoWriter"