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.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Nikola Tesla would be so proud!

We test rode the 2020 Harley-Davidson Livewire!

A reason to celebrate!

For those of you that also watch my YouTube Channel, you may have noticed in my Long Term Review of my 2017 Road King Special that I commented about being a little "congested" and joked about not having COVID-19. As it turns out, I probably shouldn't have been so smug because it turned out that I actually did have it. Thankfully, I got over the worst of it pretty quickly and, after a couple of weeks of mandatory quarantine, the Nurse Practitioner called to tell me that I had been freed! I was finally released to rejoin civilization, so what was the first thing I did? Well obviously, I did exactly what you would expect the MotoWriter to do- I jumped on the motorcycle and took a, much needed, celebratory ride!

'Rona free and ready to ride!

I saddled up on my '17 Road King Special and my eldest son, Jake, jumped on my '11 Street Bob. We took the long way down to, then along, the Coast then we hit a few back roads and found ourselves suspiciously close to one of our favorite dealerships, Mike Bruno's Northshore Harley-Davidson in Slidell, LA. Jake reminded me that I needed to get the stuff to change the oil on the Road King and any excuse to stop in and see my buddies at the Harley shop is a good one, so we pointed the scoots westbound and a short time later, we were hanging our helmets on the handlebars and walking in. 

Before I got too distracted by the inevitable ogling of all the brand new Milwaukee steel on the floor, I headed to the parts counter and told my pal, Fozzy, what I needed. After a friendly conversation about the crazy state of the world right now, Fozzy bagged up my oil change supplies and I made a point to holler at my good buddy, Mikey before I left. Mikey and I became fast friends several years ago, when I was still riding my first Harley-Davidson motorcycle and he was still working the parts counter at Northshore H-D. Over the years, I watched as he worked his way from Parts Specialist, to Fit Specialist to his current position as Assistant Sales Manager and he watched as I changed motorcycles like I was changing shoes. Mikey and the rest of the crew at Northshore have always treated me like family and that's why, when Fit Specialist, Zach, engaged me and Jake in a conversation about the 2020 Livewire that they had on the showroom floor, I knew that there was no ulterior motives other than simply talking about motorcycles. Sure, don't get me wrong, Zach would have been happy to take my money if I had decided to make a purchase, after all, his job is to sell motorcycles, but that's the great part about this dealership- they are there to facilitate a sale, but there is no pressure to make one and they are content to make friends first, and sales second. 

We took a test ride, just for the fun of it... and it was FUN!

After talking to Zach for a few minutes about the crazy machine that is the Harley-Davidson Livewire, Jake and I were ready to head out the door when Zach looked at us with an obvious grin hiding under his "anti-coronavirus mask" and said, "do y'all want to take it for a ride?" Initially, I said no and told him that I didn't want to waste his time because I would never buy one, but after a few minutes, I could tell that Zach just wanted to get out of the shop for a bit and go for a ride. It was, after all, an absolutely beautiful day and I suppose that one of the best perks of working for a Harley-Davidson dealership would have to be getting out of the shop every so often and getting paid to go ride different motorcycles. Then, Mikey dropped the gauntlet and told me that anyone that test rode a Livewire before July 31st would get a $25 gift card! Wait... so Jake and I get to ride a brand new motorcycle AND we each get a $25 gift card that we can use to buy even more cool H-D stuff? There was no need to say another word, Jake and I were convinced! There really wasn't much need to offer the gift card, though. After all, I've been wanting to test ride one of these weird, futuristic machines ever since I saw the mid-development concept bike at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, back in 2014. 

After doing a quick bit of required paperwork, Zach pulled the two demo Livewires outside and after a couple of minutes, Jake and I anxiously (and maybe even a little nervously) made our way out to the parking lot where these two Jetson-esque machines were silently waiting for us. Zach gave us a quick tutorial and a couple of pointers on riding them and then he saddled up on a used Road King Special, as Jake and I mounted our respective machines- Jake on the bike swathed in the MoCo's "Yellow Fuse" paint, which looked more like a weird version of pea green to me, and I chose to ride the bike wearing the "Orange Fuse" paint, which helped make it feel a little more "Harley-ish", in my opinion.


This bike is a futuristic P-O-W-E-R-H-O-U-S-E.

I'll admit that I was more than a little nervous about riding a $30,000 motorcycle that had no clutch, no gear shifter and instant power to the rear wheel with nothing more than a quick snap of the throttle. The first thing I noticed was the fully digital "instrument panel." It basically looked like a hybrid of a smart phone and a tablet that was mounted over the triple-tree. It had a beautiful, high resolution, digital display that was easy to see and read, even in the bright sunlight. The ride position is best described as "fast." Imagine the ride position of any sport bike and that's how the Livewire is. The strangest part, though, is that the bike is completely silent when it is "running." Of course, "running" on the Livewire, simply means that the motor (and throttle) are live and ready to go. A slight twist of the throttle and you start moving- no gear, no clutch, no sound. It's bizarre, but really neat. Once we started moving, I noticed that the only sounds that the bike makes is the rolling of the tires on the road and a futuristic sounding electrical whine that is reminiscent of the "lightcycle" in the movie, Tron. Power is instant, but not unmanageable. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't recommend that someone with no motorcycle riding experience to get on this bike- having whiskey throttle on the Livewire might just put a newbie in the hospital. Of course, to help with that, it does have a few "ride control" options- Sport (which is what Jake and I rode in), Road, Range (eco) and Rain modes. The Rain mode apparently limits power to the rear wheel and increases some of the traction control functions. Yep, you heard that right, traction control. This motorcycle is truly a highly advanced, technology-packed, machine. 

The Livewire's ride is smooth, the suspension is tight and responsive, it is very well balanced and the riding position is surprisingly comfortable for a sport bike. I'm not suggesting that the Livewire is as comfortable as a Road King or an ElectraGlide, but for what it is- it's not bad. What is it, you might ask? It's a great city commuter and sporty little fun-machine. It has a range of around 150 miles and it takes anywhere from an hour (using a "fast" charge station) to several hours (using the supplied wall charger) to re-charge the huge battery pack that is nestled nicely in the frame. If you were to ride it to work, say... 30-50 miles one way, plug it in and go to work, by the time you hit the out-punch on your time card, your bike would be fully charged and ready to bring you home via the scenic route.

Overall, Jake and I were impressed; maybe not enough to buy one... but impressed, nonetheless. The Livewire is unique, it's powerful and it's fun to ride. Sure, it's basically just a really expensive sport bike and it's definitely not practical but, as the MoCo continues to develop their electric-motorcycle technology, hopefully they will be able to drop the prices, while they increase range and reduce charge times. 

While I wouldn't personally buy a 2020 Livewire for $30 grand, I'm not saying that I would never buy an electric motorcycle. I ride a Road King as my primary motorcycle because I like to do long distance rides and the six gallon gas tank feeding the 107 cubic inch V-twin certainly accommodates that kind of a trip. But there are quite a lot of motorcycle riders out there that measure their trips in speed, agility and power instead of how many miles they rack up on the odometer and the Livewire is certainly punchy enough to provide all the smiles those riders need. Is $30 grand too much to spend? Maybe, but when you consider that the first scheduled maintenance isn't due until somewhere around 15 or 20 thousand miles, there is no oil to change, no gas to buy, no transmission or clutch to service and nothing but a giant cellphone charger to keep it powered up for your weekend adventures, well... that price doesn't seem too horrible.

My final thoughts on the day. 

When I woke up that first morning with all the symptoms of COVID-19, I didn't know what to expect next. Thanks to my loving wife and awesome family, they kept me from getting worse while they kept themselves from getting sick, too. Two weeks of being separated from them was rough; not having the energy to get out and get some mototherapy was pretty crappy, too. When I finally got around to feeling better, and was finally released from quarantine, I figured that a nice relaxing ride on my Harley-Davidson would be the most interesting part of the day. I had no idea that I'd not only be able to ride my motorcycle, but I'd also be able to spend the day with my oldest son and that we'd be able to visit with some old friends and take an exhilarating ride on a totally new and totally futuristic motorcycle. While I'm not sure if the masks help to curb the spread of COVID, or any other kind of sickness, I'm sure that it doesn't hurt to try and the same goes for Harley-Davidson and the Livewire motorcycle. While they may not know if introducing such a wild and unconventional motorcycle will help their company's future growth, it certainly doesn't hurt to try and I'm personally glad they did. I think that William Harley and Arthur, William and Walter Davidson would all agree that it was the right thing to do. 

If you get the hankering to take one for a test ride yourself, I highly recommend that you do it- it's a blast to ride and you won't regret it. If you happen to be within a day's ride from Slidell, Louisiana, head on over to Northshore Harley-Davidson and let my friends there take care of you. Tell 'em that J.D., "aka the MotoWriter", sent you.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

The motorcycle wave- do you do it?

Among the many awesome things about being a motorcycle rider is the camaraderie that we have with fellow motorcycle riders. Often, that can be seen, and expressed, with a simple gesture- the left arm, extended out and low, often with a couple of fingers extended, just to say, "hello" to a passing motorcyclist.

But why do some people wave and others don't and are there rules or guidelines as to who, or what kind of bike, you should wave at? For example, if you ride a Harley-Davidson or an Indian cruiser, should you wave at someone on a sport bike or... *gasp*... a scooter? If you are on an Adventure motorcycle or a Motard bike, is it acceptable to throw a wave at a guy on Honda Goldwing or a lady on a Can-Am Spyder? And what about those little bikes like the Honda Ruckus' or the Groms? After all, it can be tricky to determine what kind of rider is approaching, when all you can see on the road in front of you is the glow of a headlight. 

With so many types and styles of motorcycles out there on the road, it can get a bit confusing, so please allow me to help guide you and give you some direction with one simple piece of advice: 

Don't be a snob and just wave at everybody on two wheels.

I live by a very simple philosophy- if you ride, you're a rider. It doesn't matter what you ride, as long as you are experiencing and enjoying the thrill of being on two (or sometimes three) wheels. We all started somewhere, riding whatever kind of motorcycle that we could afford at the time, so why would you snub someone on a different type of bike? If you are stuck in the mindset of not waving at other riders, then that's your prerogative and I'm not here to change your opinion on the matter, but if you're a bike or brand snob, I hope you remember that you think you're better than everyone when you break down or, God forbid, crash. Don't let that sport bike rider stop and help you out with a flat tire and make sure that you refuse the gas can from the retired woman wearing hi-vis gear who just rode up on a three wheeled Spyder. Make sure that you tell them that you're too good to wave at them while riding, therefore you're too good to accept their help when you break down.

Honestly, if you're the kind of person that thinks you're too good to wave at other riders, then you probably just need to sell your bike and get a car because you just don't get it. Riding isn't about brands, or styles of motorcycles. It's about the freedom of the open road, the exhilaration of feeling the wind in our faces as we straddle a machine that pulls us down the road in a way that connects us to the world around us. It's something that not everyone can do. It's a special skill reserved for the fearless and bold. That's why so many of us believe in acknowledging other people who share that special bond with us.

I wave at everybody on two wheels. Everybody. 

I'm like Forrest Gump waving at "Loo-tin-ant Dan!" 
Hi Forrest Gump GIF - Hi ForrestGump Pennywise - Discover & Share GIFs

Oh, you're on a two-stroke moped from 1977? Cool, here's a wave, dude. Badass custom-built chopper? Boom! You get a wave. Sport bike chick? Goldwing rider wearing full, hi-vis yellow, gear in the middle of summer? ADV rider that still has mud dripping off the fenders? Luxury liner trike or Can-Am Spyder? Boom! Bam! Wham! Wave, wave and yes, another wave! 

Look, I don't care what you ride... if you're brave enough to straddle your particular machine, fire that puppy up and share the road with grandma Jenkins in her Buick Roadmaster, then we have something in common. If you share the thrill of riding, embrace the freedom of the open road and you're in the wind, then that's all the criteria I need to give you a wave. 

                       The Bikers Wave | Honda shadow 600, Ride on, Paixao por moto

Sunday, July 12, 2020

2020 has been a SHIT SHOW!

2020. A number synonymous with great vision... but who had the foresight to see that the year would suck as hard as it has?

I'm not one to be negative. I'm a realist- to me, the glass isn't half full or half empty, it just has some water in it (around the 50% mark). I always try to see the positive and the good, while keeping a wary eye on the bad that is lurking around in the darkness. Realism helps me to deal with bad things as they happen, appreciate the good times and not take anything for granted. 

I'm not a superstitious person, but I'm starting to think that somebody has done something nefarious... maybe someone opened up some ancient book of spells, disturbed an ancient Egyptian tomb, played on a Ouija board too damn long or perhaps, somebody thought it would be funny to summon Thanos? Either way, if the culprit is reading this... I'm sure I speak for the rest of the world when I say, knock that shit off!

I'm not going to get into everything that 2020 has given to, or taken from, me... but I'll tell you that, currently, as I am sitting here typing this post, I have a black eye and several symptoms of a particular illness that originated in a certain Asian country. 

Now, I don't really believe in "luck." Luck is nothing more than a four letter word that we use to blame for our misfortune. I do, however, believe in faith and in our God in Heaven and in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. If that offends you, then that might just be part of the problem of 2020. You see, we don't all have to agree on everything, but we shouldn't be "offended" at different beliefs or opinions. My belief is, as stated... while yours may be completely different. I also believe that cheeseburgers are delicious and that pizza may be the perfect food, but if you're a vegan and won't even eat a slice of cheese, does that mean we have to be mortal enemies? Of course not, it's called tolerance and it's something that we all need to dig deep into our collective hearts and find. 

There is so much division in our country, and the world, right now. Some very bad people are putting us all into categories (white, black, brown, tan, red, blue, gay, straight, male, female, rich, poor, etc...), then pitting all of the categories against each other just to watch as we tear each other apart, limb from limb, like some awful reality TV show. It's sickening.

We all need to come together and stand united to resist, and refuse to be manipulated by, the devil and his disciples who have completely ruined this year so far. We need to stand together, be accepting of each other's beliefs, sexual orientations, political beliefs, races, ethnicities, heritages and any other thing that makes us unique and individual. Maybe, just maybe, if we can come together as children of our respective Gods... we can turn this year around and start seeing something good and positive start coming our ways. 

Hopefully, this shit show that has been the first 7 months of 2020 will finally lose momentum and the pendulum will swing in the opposite direction for the remainder of the year. Maybe we can all enjoy some good times, great motorcycle rides, family gatherings, cookouts and who knows, maybe even a trip or three out of our own backyards.

Let's try having some respect for one another and see if we can finish out this year on a high note, shall we?

Love and Respect from The MotoWriter!