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, March 27, 2021

March 2021's Bike of the Month- Presley P.'s Sporty!

March 2021 Bike of the Month- Presley P.'s 2011 Sportster 883 Low!

I love motorcycles. That's probably pretty obvious to anyone who happens to stumble across this blog. It's not just the machines that I love, though. It's the people who ride them and the stories that they have to tell that really fascinates me. Motorcyclists are as unique as the machines they ride and they come from all walks of life. Each has their own direction in life and each takes their own different path to reach their goals. Many of us started our two-wheeled journeys in a similar way, but rarely do we have the same stories to tell. That's one of the reasons I started the Bike of the Month feature on this page- to hear your stories and share them with the rest of the motorcycling community. While Presley may not have a lot of stories from the road just yet... he's well on his way with his 2011 Harley-Davidson Sportster XL 883L.

Sportsters are...

Bad ass. I don't care what anyone says about Sportsters- I like them. We've all heard the same old crap about Harley-Davidson's incredibly popular XL family of motorcycles- "they are (insert whatever disparaging comment here)". One of the most common- they are "chick bikes." The ironic part is, for as many "chicks" that I've seen riding Sportsters, I've seen just as many ladies riding Road Glides, Street Glides, Road Kings, Wide Glides and Low Riders... so the attempts at feminizing the Sportster sort of falls dead on that one.

Brief history

The Sporty was born in 1957 and replaced the popular K model. The K model was different than the rest of the Motor Company's line-up with it's small, nimble, lightweight frame and unitized motor. The folks at H-D recognized the K's popularity and capitalized on the design for the new bike. The new Sportster's iron barrel cylinder heads earned it the nickname "Ironhead" and the MoCo ran that engine and it's variants for the next 28 years, until 1985. In 1986, H-D introduced the new Evolution Sportster engine and we've seen that mill in every Sportster since. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Evolution powered Sportster! The Evo engine comes in two sizes from Milwaukee- 883cc and 1200cc, but the beauty of the Evo mill is that with a few hand tools, some general knowledge of small engines and a relatively inexpensive kit of parts- an 883 is easily converted to a 1200. This also lends to the popularity of the bikes. Well, that and the endless customization potential of the Sportster. 

That's enough history for today though, let's talk about Presley and his 883L!

Presley's journey started early

Presley grew up around motorcycles his whole life, so it's really no surprise that he became the proud owner of his own scooter when he grew into adulthood. I've known Presley since he was a baby- his dad and I grew up together and even though our careers have kept us on separate continents, we have always stayed in touch and kept up with each other and each others' families. As such, I knew that Presley had spent much of his childhood on the back of his dad's bikes and had caught the motorcycle fever from a very early age. When Presley reached out to me and submitted his bike for consideration for the BOTM feature, he said that, even though he wasn't as "seasoned" as my usual crowd, he still wanted to submit his bike. Well, as far as I'm concerned, anybody that has spent their whole life on or around motorcycles, is seasoned enough to be featured in my little corner of the interweb.

Presley grew up as a military kid, living much of his young life overseas. When he graduated high school, he decided to attend college back home in the good ole' U.S. of A. After Presley moved back to the states, he got a car and went to work on his studies. As Presley was nearing the end of his college career, his parents decided to give him the gift of two-wheels. That was last March. Yep, right before the coronavirus pandemic started sweeping across the world. Needless to say, the timing was perfect. 

Getting the bike

Right before everything shut down, Presley and a friend drove four hours away to pick it up. Presley looked it over, then saddled up and set out on his ride back home. Just shy of a hundred miles into the journey though, he pulled into a gas station and realized that his new scoot was leaking oil, and leaking bad. Upon closer inspection, Presley saw that it was leaking from the derby cover, so he called the dealership that he bought it from and found out that they had recently done a service on it and the tech had probably pinched the gasket. But, Presley didn't have the tools to check it and fix it, so he decided to limp it to the next dealership... which was 30 miles down the road. He made it safely to the next dealer, who quickly got it fixed for him. It wasn't long before he was back on the road, heading home under clear, blue skies. Presley described the rest of his ride home as "otherwise uneventful in only the best motorcycle rider's ways."

The bike

After getting his Sportster home, Presley soon realized that there were a few things that he wanted to change. He started off with a better seat, swapping the saddle with a gel cooled Saddleman Profiler seat for those long, hot Texas days. Soon after, he installed a sissy bar to secure his luggage to. When Presley bought his 883, a previous owner had already installed a set of Vance & Hines Shortshots, so it was plenty loud enough to get him some attention on those busy Lone Star streets. Other than that, Presley's Sportster remains mostly unchanged from when it rolled out of the factory in 2011. 

Chasing sunsets and dreams

Presley rides his Sportster as his regular commuter to work as much as he can, but the rides that he looks forward to the most are the ones where he can find a sense of freedom, where he is free to wander and claim a piece of blacktop for his own, even if only for a few miles. He says that he yearns to feel the rumble of his bike through his entire body, as if it's telling him to "go faster, dive into that corner and find the next beautiful sunset." 

Presley recently graduated from college and is now chasing his dreams of working in the film industry. Perhaps he will produce the next Hollywood blockbuster, or maybe the next iconic motorcycle film? Either way, I have no doubt that he'll be successful in whatever he endeavors to do, because he comes from a good, loving and supportive family that has instilled in him, the love of riding and the courage to venture out into the world to forge his own path. 

Do you want to see your bike featured as the MotoWriter's Bike of the Month? Email me in your high-res photos and your personal motorcycle story to me and, if I pick your bike, not only will you get some pretty rad bragging rights, but you'll also receive a small bit of swag to show off your support of the MotoWriter! Thanks for all your support!

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

TCX X-Blend Boots- One year(ish) review!

One year... ish 

Okay, I'll admit... this one took a bit longer than expected, hence the "ish" in the title. I originally planned on doing this review right at the one year mark, or as close to it as possible, but the curse of 2020 wouldn't let go, and I wasn't able to do it until now. But enough about those arbitrary timelines- let's talk about these boots! 

First of all, if you haven't read my 6 month review, you can read it by clicking here. If you've already read it, or don't really care about what I said about them last May, then keep reading to see how these puppies have held up so far.

A brief recap

I bought my X-Blends from Union Garage in Brooklyn, NY back in October of 2019 and had them shipped all the way to my humble home in beautiful, sunny South Mississippi. The best part? The good folks at Union Garage shipped them to me from the Big Apple for free, which was nice considering that I dropped $199 on them. Now, don't get me wrong- I'm not saying that $200 is an excessive amount of money for good riding boots, I'm just expressing to you the fact that I tend to be a bit of a cheapskate at times, and I don't like spending $100 bucks (or more) per foot for my brick kickers. 
My TCX X-Blends, when they first showed up on my doorstep

When I first got them, I was like a kid at Christmas. I couldn't wait to get them on my feet and get them broken in. It didn't take long either, because I pretty much wore them ALL OF THE TIME. Actually, I still do.

 Really holding up 

These boots are still my favorite footwear, ever since I first laced them up, way back when the only people that wore masks regularly were doctors and bank robbers. They really are holding up quite well, considering that they are pretty much my primary footwear away from the office. They still look good enough to wear on casual Fridays too. Overall, the leather is still supple and strong and it's pretty obvious to me that the hide they used to stitch these babies up came from one tough bovine, because I have abused these things. Aside from riding in them, I also wear them when working in the garage and have scraped the leather on the concrete, scuffed them while playing with my dog, worn them while cutting the lawn and even accidentally spilled grease from the grill on them! I actually thought that I might have ruined them with that one, but after some cleaning and a bit of leather conditioner, I got them cleaned right up. 

Now, don't get me wrong. I have done some basic maintenance on these boots. I'll admit that the rich, brown color of these boots has been maintained and "spruced up" a bit over the last 17 months with brown Kiwi shoe polish. The Kiwi has helped maintain their good looks as well as helped them keep their water resistance. The nicest part about the leather of these boots, though, is the way that it's wearing in. The boots look awesome and feel great. They are flexible and supple, but still feel rigid and strong enough to instill confidence in their ability to keep my feet and ankles safe in a slide- God forbid I have one.

The soles and heels are simply out of this world. I mean like- they must be made out of some kind of other-worldly materials or something, because they barely show any wear at all, seriously, it's insane. I've had boots from other manufacturers and they have all worn pretty quickly on the heels and toward the toe. These X-Blends have taken all my abuse and just shrugged it off like it was nothing at all. When I did my 6 month review of these boots, I described the soles as "lug like" but more "linear and grooved" which I asserted must be so the soles can avoid trapping gravel and mud in them. I still stand by that assertion and can affirm that if that was TCX's intended purpose, they have succeeded in their design. My driveway is a mix of sand, Mississippi hard red clay and pea gravel and these boots don't pick up any of it. They've got plenty of grip though and I've never lost my footing, not even on the worst oil strips that the highways have had to offer.

Issues and oversights 

These X-Blends aren't perfect though and I have identified a few issues and oversights with them. First of all, the brake side (right) toe pad stitching broke loose within the first six months. I'm still baffled as to why this happened though, because it never gets used. The left side, which does get used (more when I ride my Dyna Street Bob than my Road King) is still just as solid as can be. The stitching on the shifter side is strong and secure, just as it should be. The brake side toe pad, however, is peeling back as the stitching continues to unravel. 

The thin fabric covering on the insoles is another annoyance, too. As you can see in the picture, it has worn under my heel and the fabric has a tendency to bunch-up and it can be a little aggravating because it feels like something is in my boot. It's not uncomfortable, mind you- just annoying.

Lastly, the laces are taking a beating. The metal eyelets are strong and sturdy, but it would seem as if the laces aren't quite as durable as they need to be to go up against such a formidable eyelet. Now, don't get me wrong- the laces are holding up; they are still strong and secure, but they are getting abraded by the eyelets. I suppose it's not too bad, considering the amount of use they get though.

Still my favorite footwear 

Despite those aforementioned, relatively minor, issues though, these are still my go-to footwear when I'm not in the office of the job that actually pays my bills. They look good enough to take my bride out to a decent steakhouse and they are rugged enough to keep me safe while I'm out riding my scooter. They are comfortable enough to wear all day- whether I'm walking through the newly opened Mississippi Aquarium, or if I'm standing around in my garage drinking some brewskies, or even if I'm shuffling around the lift, working on one of my motorcycles (like the MotoWriter Dyna that you see strapped down in the photos- that's another story for another day).

The bottom line- I don't like these boots, I love them. They are the perfect balance of comfort, style, durability, safety and price. TCX Boots really hit it out of the park with the X-Blends and, in my most humble opinion, I think these are best damn motorcycle boots you can get for the money. 

My dad always used to tell me, "son, you get what you pay for", and that statement couldn't be more true of the X-Blends from TCX Boots. For just under $200 shipped (from Union Garage anyway- yeah... this is a pretty gratuitous plug for them- hit them up and tell 'em the MotoWriter sent ya. They probably won't give you a discount or even know who I am, but tell 'em anyway), these boots deliver top-notch safety with their integrated ankle cups and strong, durable (and good-looking) cowhide that is stitched to the absolute best soles of any motorcycle boot, or any work boot, that I've ever owned. 

I can't tell you what to buy, but I can tell you that if you want one hell of a great pair of boots to work, play, ride and relax in- you can't go wrong with the X-Blends. While I don't foresee myself wearing these kickers out anytime soon, I can guarantee that I'll be buying another pair of these soon- not because I need them, but because I want them.

A few more pics

One last thing- 
I feel that it is important to note that I am not an employee of, or a paid affiliate of, Union Garage or TCX Boots (or any company for that matter). The article you just read (like all of the posts on this blog), is my honest opinion based on my personal experience with these boots and that store. 

Now, if either of these companies wanted to send me a few bucks, give me a discount on my next purchase or even float me a new product to test in the future- I'd be more than happy to accept and I'd be more than willing to offer another honest review. 

Till next time- Ride Safe and MAKE GOOD CHOICES!

Friday, March 5, 2021

February 2021 Bike of the Month

Well folks, I was afraid that the MotoWriter Bike of the Month feature was going to meet an untimely demise, but thanks to the persistence and dedication of a few of my most loyal followers... I present to you:

February 2021's Bike of the Month!

Matt C.'s 2011 Harley-Davidson Rocker

Matt is a native of Lynchburg, VA (not to be confused with the Tennessee town where Mr. Jack Daniel first distilled his famous whiskey) and is currently serving his country in the United States Navy, in his 25th year of service. Matt started riding like many of us did- kicking up rocks on dirtbikes, ATV's, go-carts and of course- those infamous, now banned, 3-wheelers. I could do a whole separate story on those gas burning, bone breaking death machines, but I digress... this story is about the short-lived, but much loved, Rocker Softail that Matt calls his own.

Matt knew that he wanted a Rocker ever since the model was launched in 2008, but because life often has a way of interfering with our motorcycling plans, he had to put off buying his dream bike for a few years. In 2011, everything lined up for him, and I do mean everything. As it turns out, Harley-Davidson discontinued the Rocker for the 2012 model year. If Matt had waited any longer, he would have been forced to buy a used one. Because of the Rocker's unique design and an extremely short production run of only 3 years, their popularity drastically increased along with their market prices, which was driven in large part to their scarcity- you just don't see many of these custom looking bikes on the roads. 

Like most of us, Matt prefers taking the scenic routes whenever he can. Matt is currently stationed in Spain (with last month's BOTM owner) so there are LOTS of beautiful scenic routes to take his FXCW out on. Matt says that whenever he's out riding, he always gets lots of attention, especially when he rides into town, fists gripping his Rocker's custom apehangers, punching the wind. Matt's not sneaking up on anyone either, with those big radius pipes belting out the familiar tune of a Harley-Davidson Twin Cam upgraded with a 106 c.i. big bore kit and ported heads. 

Adventure is always right around the corner on a motorcycle and Matt has embraced those opportunities as much as possible. Last year, when the COVID restrictions were lifted in Spain, he and a friend took a 5 day trip along the inside border of the country. He said that they made a point to stay in a different kind of place each night- from the beach to the city. During that trip, they rode through the Spanish Pyrenees mountains and, on the last night, they stayed in a tiny Spanish village where not one single person spoke English. When they pulled into town, the only hotel was closed for renovations, but in the truest form of Spanish hospitality, the owner was kind enough to open it up for them, giving them two rooms, the keys to the front door and the alarm code so that they could come and go as they pleased. Before the two adventurers rolled out of town the next day, they were met with a large gathering of townspeople. Matt said that it seemed as if the entire village had come to see them off, taking photographs of them and their motorcycles. 

Anyone that rides knows the feeling of rolling into a small town and having people from all walks of life, every ethnicity, race, culture and age turn to see the foreigner on the two-wheeled freedom machine passing by. It's a strange feeling, but a good one. 

Motorcycles are unique machines. They offer functionality, adventure, freedom and opportunity to those brave souls who ignore the fears that hold them back, just to get on these beautiful marvels of engineering. Choosing to live your life without restriction, without limitation and in spite of the fear of the unknown is one of the most genuine expressions of freedom that we have has human beings. 

I'd like to thank Matt for his lifelong commitment to preserving our freedom to ride our bikes, and for sending in his submission for the MotoWriter Bike of the Month feature. If you happen to see Matt out and about on his beautiful 2011 Rocker, make sure you say hello, give him a wave and thank him for his sacrifice of "25 years and counting." 

Do you want to see your bike featured as the MotoWriter's Bike of the Month? Email me your high-res photos and your personal motorcycle story and, if I pick your bike, not only will you get some pretty rad bragging rights, but you'll also receive a small bit of swag to show off your support of the MotoWriter! 

Thanks for all your support!