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.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Christmas time

Christmas time is here again

Well folks, Christmas is nearly here and, if my calculations are correct, this year marks the 2,055th year since the birth of our Lord and Saviour. That means over 2,000 Christmases have come and gone, but for most of us, I'll guess less than 50 since I don't actually know how young my MotoReaders are. 

Regardless of how many Yuletides this old world has seen, or how many each of us have experienced though, the sentiment remains the same. Christmas is a special time of year for the majority of us because it's a time that we can be a little better versions of ourselves. It's a time that we can get away with being a little goofier, a little merrier and a little nicer to each other simply because of the season. Christmas is a time for happiness and joy, a time for giving, spreading love and enjoying time with our families, friends and our favorite people. 

Christmas is also a great time to check in on those among us who aren't as blessed. A time to feed those who may otherwise go hungry and provide warmth and shelter to those who may not have a roof over their head. I would imagine that, in the Lord's divine grace and knowledge, Christmas being at the beginning of winter and on the eve of a new year, is no accident. After all, it's a great time of year to help our fellow man, feed them, clothe them, and help them, at at time when we are experiencing so much abundance. Being on the eve of a new year also is a great time to remind us to be better people as we go into the future. To resolve to keep up that momentum of giving, sharing and helping all throughout the year.

But how often do we actually do that? How long does our philanthropy last? How long does it take for us to regain our cynicism of the world? 

I remember, from what seems like such a long time ago now, when I was a kid, Christmas was the best time of year. School would let out for the rest of the year, the Sears toy catalog would be delivered and the stores were warm and full of fat guys in red suits. Bells were ringing everywhere you went, colorful lights lit up houses and big ornaments were attached to the street lights through all of the towns you'd pass through. People seemed happier back then. My family moved to the Gulf Coast from the Midwest when I was a kid, so I have Christmas memories of deep snow, puffy jackets, mittens and stocking caps, as well as, memories of warm, sunny Christmas mornings where a new bike could be ridden through the neighborhood, the tides being out leaving the bayous drained to a trickle (perfect for "treasure" hunting) and running around outside like fools with my friends and cousins until the sun went down.

The older we get though, it seems like the shiny magic of Christmas time fades, tarnishes and ceases to glow with the same brilliance as it did when we were kids. We get older, take on responsibilities, have to work, pay bills, navigate through heavier than normal traffic, and stress out over buying gifts and, sometimes, getting ourselves in debt trying to buy gifts for everyone in our lives.

The ironic part is, the best gifts that we can give, are usually the ones that we are least likely to give. Gifts of happy, joyous memories, gifts of spending time, good quality time, with each other. Gifts of our undivided attention with no phones or electronic devices to distract us from the moments. Gifts as simple as a "Merry Christmas" to the cashier at the grocery store, or a putting a sack of potatoes in the food drive donation box for a local church. Doing something as simple as letting a car merge in front of you in traffic, or letting someone have that really good parking spot in front of the store, doesn't cost us a thing. By being considerate of other people and remembering that they may be going through a difficult time, we can literally make a positive impact on each other, because such a simple act of kindness could be the one thing that changes someone's day for the better. 

A new year

As the Christmas bells of 2022 stop ringing and the new year draws nearer, the simple fact remains that the unrelenting march of time continues onward, ticking by in seconds, minutes, hours, days and months until we find ourselves here, in this most Holy time, once again. No matter what you did right, or wrong in 2022, you'll have an opportunity to make it right (or screw it up) in 2023 and, if you're blessed enough, again the next year, and the next year after that. 

The trick of it all though, is that we don't know how many Christmases or how many new years we will be blessed to see. So my advice to you is to live each day, as the day that you want to be remembered by. If today was your last day and your whole life were to be judged by what you  did, or how you treated people, today... what would people remember you for? Would they speak of your generosity? Your kindness? Your positivity? Or would they speak of you in some other, less kind, way? 

Christmas time charity and kindness doesn't have to only be once a year, but rather, it can be the beginning of a new year of kindness, charity and love for each other. 

Remember to always be kind, MotoReaders.


Sunday, December 4, 2022

Amazing Appalachia... Video Series

Amazing Appalachia, Video Series, Chapter 1

After a long hiatus from doing videos, I decided to put the GoPros to work again, so I could share my trip to the Appalachian Mountains last September with my loyal MotoReaders. 

Chapter 1 takes you from The Gulf Coast of Mississippi to the Foothills of the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee in just over 3 minutes.

Please, click the link below and enjoy day one of my trip. 

Amazing Appalachia, Chapter 1

If you like the video, let me know by hitting the "thumbs up" button and if you want to be notified when Chapter 2 gets uploaded, hit the "subscribe" button. 

Thanks again and ride safe, MotoReaders!

Saturday, December 3, 2022


The Hellfighters

Hellfighters... what a cool name, right? But who, or rather what, is the Hellfighters Motorcycle Shop? Check out their website by clicking here. If you're not really in the mood to do any more clickin', keep reading and I'll give you the MotoWriter rundown.

So much more than a motorcycle shop

Hellfighters is a motorcycle shop in Laurel, MS (<click the link for more info), but it's not just a motorcycle shop, it's a swap meet, a gun store, a gift and home store, a restaurant, a chapel, a Rhino Jeeps dealer, and a Christian Ministry, all wrapped up in a huge repurposed industrial building that has been beautifully converted to house it all.

The Hellfighters shop is truly a sight to behold. The last time I was there was several years ago and it was pretty cool then, albeit, relatively small and pretty cramped up. But on this latest visit, just a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that the old building was vacant and the new building, which is situated right around the corner, was clearly open for business... ALL of the business. The new building is over 83,000 square feet of awesomeness. Upon walking in, I saw a massive inventory of used motorcycles, with cool movie props spread around for our viewing pleasure. My wife perused the home decor section for at least half an hour, and my son and I got lost in the rest of the place. Then, after seeing the main section, we saw the swap meet. Let me tell you about the swap meet... it was a huge room, filled with every motorcycle part you could possibly need. I won't get into too much detail about the rest of the place, because honestly, I don't think I could do it justice by mere words. You really do need to go check it out in person. 

So, why is this place so big? Why is it so popular? How does a Christian Ministry turn into a motorcycle destination, especially in a modern society that seems to reject, or at the least question, God's existence? The answer, is God.

The Mission

When so many people are afflicted with pain and consumed by addictions of every kind, the Hellfighters Ministry is right there, willing and able to help them find their way to salvation. They are not only spreading the word of God, but they are actively practicing His ways and trying to help save as many lost souls as they can. According to their website- 100% of the profit (that is every cent) goes to Mission at the Cross in Laurel, MS so that men suffering from addiction can find recovery, and Jesus, for free. Mission at the Cross was started by the founders of Hellfighters, Richard and Gina Headrick back in 1998, from a little ministry service that they called "the Bum Ministries." Read more detail about it by clicking here- it really is a neat story and really proves that God works in mysterious ways, and often, He works through the most unassuming people among us, people that we might not normally notice or if we do, we might try our best to avoid.

Location, location, location

They say that location is everything and I'll agree with that. Laurel is a pretty nice place and, it's even gained notoriety from the extremely popular HGTV show, Hometown, which follows Ben and Erin Napier as they renovate one place at a time and ultimately revitalize areas of small, otherwise forgotten little towns. They do great work and show their love of small town USA, again and again in their efforts. I'm not really big into watching television, but I have seen their work in Laurel, MS and in Wetumpka, AL and I'm pretty impressed with it. They've really helped to revitalize these little towns and the small, locally owned businesses there are thriving. As for the location of the Mission at the Cross and the Hellfighters Shop, Laurel is, once again, an ideal spot on the map. It's close enough to be accessible from several larger urban areas, where problems with homelessness and addiction seem to be the worst, but it's far enough away from them to help those in need focus on their recovery. It's also right off of I-59 (and you can't miss the signs). 

Go check 'em out

Make a point to go visit the good folks at Hellfighters USA. Go check out the good work they are doing and, even if you don't need anything, buy a little something from them anyway to help in their mission of helping those poor lost souls to find salvation and recovery. You never know who you might be giving a second chance to. They are open most days from 8am until 5 pm (the others, they're open until 6 pm), except of course on Sundays, when they close the doors to rest, and give thanks to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

One thing I always try to promote here in my little corner of the interweb, is the encouragement to live your life in a good and just way, to be a good person and to live in such a way that honors God and spreads good will. I think that's why I like the Hellfighters so much, because they aren't just writing about it, they have the means to do good and are actively helping people become better versions of themselves, and I think that's a really awesome thing to do.

Ride safe, make good choices and help your fellow man if you can and, if you can't, then try to help those that are already doing it.

MotoWriter side note:

By now, this should go without saying, but I'll say it again- I'm not paid by the Hellfighters, the Mission at the Cross or any other entity for my posts. I just like to review different things and places that I see and, being that I like to stay positive on my blog, I usually only write about the things and places that I really like or that really make a positive impact on me. 

I've often said that I'd be happy to get on a company's payroll, but for this one, I'll forego my previous sentiments. You see, The Hellfighters' mission is not only an honorable endeavor, but one that serves to improve our society, spread the gospel of our Lord and save lives. Even if they did offer to pay me for my humble words, I wouldn't accept their money- I would gladly donate my time and my words in service to their mission. 

-Thank you for your time and support, MotoReaders.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

6 Month Product Review- Adaptive Headlight and LED Turn Signals

Well MotoReaders, if you've been following my blog, you will have figured out a couple of things by now- 1, I like to give my honest opinions on new products, and 2, I like to review them after I've had some time to use them and put them through their paces. You'll also know that I'm not on anyone's payroll, nor do I get discounts for the products I'm reviewing, so there's absolutely no bias or influence for me to sell you on the products... if I like it and think it's a good product and worth the price, you'll know... but if not, I'm going to give it to you straight so you don't waste your hard-earned dough.

With that said, let's get to it!

My basic criteria

Today I share my 6 month review of the J.W. Speaker Adaptive LED Headlight and the Kuryakyn Tracer diffused LED turn signals that I installed on the MotoWriter Road King Special back in May of this year (see My Inner Cheapskate Lost!). 

In my previous post, I mentioned a few points that I'll touch on briefly here. 

1- Price and value. The number one thing I look at when buying or upgrading any product is the price and the value. When I say value, I mean, what am I going to get out of this product for the price I'm going to pay for it? Is it cheap enough to try it, then toss it if I don't like it, or is this going to be a significant investment for me? What is a significant investment for one person, may be quite a bit different for someone else, so I'll qualify that question with this- I'm a blue-collar working man with bills to pay. I don't have "family money" or a job that pays 6 figures, so a headlight that costs more than my motorcycle payment, is going to fall under that "significant investment" category.

2- Cool factor. Yes, this may seem like a very superficial point to consider, but it is an important point nonetheless. Why? Because it's a motorcycle and, while I want it to be functional, I also want it to look good while being functional. Let's be honest for a moment, if we are only concerned with functionality, then we probably wouldn't ride motorcycles in the first place. I can think of several different options for improving the lighting on my motorcycle that would be less expensive, but would look horrible in my opinion (which is all that matters when it comes to how my motorcycle looks). 

Bottom line- it's gotta look good, function well and do what I expect it to do for the price I paid for it. 

J.W. Speaker adaptive headlight (model 8790)

First, let's talk about the big one... the $550 headlight. I've known J.W. Speaker products for several years and I know who they are building products for (I'm looking at you, Harley-Davidson and Indian). There's no shame in it though. Rarely, especially these days, do major manufacturers make their own specialty products. For example, companies like Showa, Brembo, Mikuni, Keihin and Delphi have been supplying their parts to a wide array of major manufacturers because, simply put, they have their products dialed in so well (and patented so thoroughly) that it is more cost effective for companies like Yamaha, Harley-Davidson, Indian and so on, to simply buy their ready-made components and either re-brand them, or market them as a selling point (case in point, look at how many companies brag about using Brembo brakes).

So with the J.W. Speaker Adaptive headlight, the biggest question wasn't if the quality of the product was sufficient, but rather, was the functionality of the "adaptive" technology worth the price tag? Living in South Mississippi provides a very long riding season, but the trade-off is, there's not a whole lot of really curvy roads and there's even less mountain roads. So, in order to do a full, fair product review on a headlight that is supposed to illuminate your way through curves, I made a trip to the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, just for my loyal MotoReaders. 

The headlight functions surprisingly well. I do notice it more in left-hand turns and curves more than right hand turns, but it's not because it's not working properly, but rather, the fact that I'm on the right side of the road, so there's less road to be lit up. In right turns, it lights up the shoulder and ditch instead which is still good because now I can see those woodland critters on the edge of the road that are waiting for their chance to ambush an unprepared motorcyclist. The light functions exactly as promised and, as a matter of fact, has spoiled me so much that I don't even want to ride my Dyna at night because I've become so used to the extra light from the Road King's adaptive. It really is that nice. 

While the price tag is hefty, it is worth spending the extra money if you ride at night, especially on curvy back roads. If you are a daytime only rider or do most of your riding on long, straight stretches with little to no curves, then first of all, I'm sorry for you because that sounds awful, but my advice would be to save your money. If, however, you enjoy the peace and solidarity of riding under the stars on sweeping curves, then bust open that little ceramic pig and order yourself a new adaptive headlight from J.W. Speaker. 

Kuryakyn Tracer diffused LED turn signals (2904 & 2906)

The Road King Special, by its very name, is supposed to be "special." One of the biggest things I like about this bike is the styling- it's modern, yet maintains its heritage as a classic Harley-Davidson FLH. With that said, one of my biggest pet peeves is cutting corners and, in my opinion, Harley-Davidson got lazy and cut some corners on this bike. It just annoys me when something is so well executed... 90% of the way, then the last 10% is half-assed because no matter how great that 90% is, the only thing that will be talked about and remembered is the 10% that sucked. Changing an incandescent light bulb on a motorcycle that cost almost as much as an economy sedan, is a good example of that. It's not a deal-killer, but it sure is a stupid thing to have to do, when there are so many better alternatives already on the market. First of all, LED bulbs should be standard on all motorcycles, especially Harley-Davidsons. Why you ask? Because the execs at Harley-Davidson HQ are going all-in on the concept of the company being a "premium brand." So, if H-D is marketing their motorcycles as "premium" then why are they using the same incandescent light bulbs they have been using for the past 20+ years? LED bulb technology has dramatically changed the landscape of artificial and supplemental lighting in everything from street lights, to the lights in your home, to the lights on your vehicles, and everything in between. Several years back, I realized that the incandescents on the Road King Special were sub-standard for this slick, black, Cadillac of a motorcycle (oh yeah, that was a Quiet Riot reference... click the link to rock out, '1980's style!), so I replaced them long ago with some off-the shelf LED bulbs from the local auto parts store. 

While the replacement LEDs functioned well thanks to Harley-Davidson so thoughtfully using an, already load equalized, CAN bus electrical system on the bike (meaning, you don't need to install load equalizers due to the lower amp draw with LED bulbs on the newer Harley-Davidson models), they didn't look that good. I really like the look of the diffused LED tail lights on newer cars. My wife's car has them and they just look like they're from the future... they're one of the few things of the modern age that I do actually like. So, you can imagine my excitement when I saw the Kuryakyn Tracer diffused LED lights available for my, modern classic, Road King Special. At over $100 a pair, they are considerably more expensive than the LED bulbs that I had already picked up, but these lights had the modern look I was after, so it didn't take nearly as much decision making on these. They are super bright, look amazing and, in my humble opinion, really match the sleek, modern aesthetic of my Road King Special. 

For what you get- a very well made, plug and play, aftermarket device that offers an immediate improvement over the stock lighting with a modern, updated, and just plain stylish appearance- all for around $250.That's not too bad for a full LED upgrade, in my opinion.

Final thoughts

So, in the case of this review, you may be wondering why it may seem to be a little more focused on the "pros" than the "cons" and my simple response is this- I pride myself on doing thorough research before I drop a wad of dough on something. In the case of upgrading the lighting on my 2017 Road King Special, it was a deliberate, albeit unnecessary, choice. To be more clear- the Special's stock lighting was sufficient in its stock form. The headlight was bright, the turn signals, signalled and the brake lights lit up sufficiently to satisfy the DOT standards. It was my decision to upgrade the lighting to better suit the style of the bike and improve it's functionality. Is the added expense of the upgrades worth the overall price tag of around $800? Well, that will depend greatly on two things- your budget and your desire. For me, and the kind of riding I do- long road trips and plenty of night time riding on two-lane backroads and the occasional curving mountain roads- it was absolutely worth the expense.

Stay safe MotoReaders and if you're going to get lit, get lit safely and make good choices.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Video Blog

Hello MotoReaders!

I'm contemplating bringing back the video blog... at least every once in a while. Even though it's a lot of work (and no recompense), I actually sort of miss editing and creating videos and, it turns out that, I have a few different reviews that I think I'd like to do. Of course, with autumn in the South usually bringing a bit more rain and cooler temperatures, it's also a good time to sit in a warm, dry garage (or house), editing video content, too.

If I do break out the GoPros... I have a few cool things to show you guys. First, I've done a bit of work to the MotoWriter Street Bob that has changed the look a bit and, I've added some new lighting to the MotoWriter Road King that I'm pretty excited to talk about. I've also picked up a couple of new motorcycles that I'm eager to share my thoughts on. I'm sure I could add in a few product reviews and I've even thought about doing another long(er) term review of my Road King Special... as a follow-up to my previous video, since I've done a bit of work to it since making that video. 

When, and if, I do start shooting and posting new videos... look for the links to them here on theMotoWriter.com, since I'm adamantly opposed to getting back on social media (I might even talk about my reasoning for that in a video, too). 

Finally, if you are one of my loyal readers, and have wondered whatever happened to my plans for offering up some MotoWriter merchandise... the person I was working with to make my decals and t-shirts has shut down her operation indefinitely and I've just been too busy with my "real job" stuff to seek out another vendor for it. Maybe, if all works out, I'll be able to get that done in the next couple of months and will be able to add a link to the site, where y'all can order from. 

Whatever happens, stay tuned for more content here on the MotoWriter.com, because as the temps drop and the rain starts to come more often, I'll be doing less riding and doing more writing.

THANKS for being a part of this! Ride safe and make good choices!

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Tales from the Asphalt, Volume 2

Tales from the asphalt

Alone on the highway, the man in black rides his steel horse westbound, westbound, westbound... on what feels like an endless ribbon of asphalt. With no destination, he pushes on, seeking nothing more than the simple peace that he finds on the lonesome journey. 

Volume 2, The Lone Star Wide Glide


Ride to nowhere

I just don’t care for having “destinations”, in the sense that most people do, while traveling. My destinations are always more like, general ideas of arriving in a particular area, and may not actually include getting off of the motorcycle, but instead, riding around in the area that I end up in. In other words- I don’t like scheduling lunch stops or gas stops, because doing so creates rigid waypoints that force me to stay on a schedule while traveling. I prefer taking it mile by mile and hour by hour instead and just seeing what's around the next corner. That kind of riding isn't for everyone, which is why I usually ride alone. 

It was a Monday in the early summer and, at that time, my day off. My steed was a 2012 Harley-Davidson Wide Glide and I was planning on putting some miles on it that day. I asked some buddies if they wanted to ride with me, but with no destination and no real plan, no one would commit, although a few had claimed that they wanted to go. On the morning of the ride, after a particularly busy and stressful week of work, I woke up around 6:30 am and got dressed for the day. I put on a fresh pot of coffee, filled my cup and went out on the front porch to revel in the glory of seeing the world wake up. I sat down, took a sip of my first cup of coffee and sent out a message to everybody on our group text.

With no surprise to me, there was no response from anyone. Most of the guys I was riding with at the time, would rather ride for half an hour, then stop and hang out for two, which was definitely not my kind of riding. I finished my first cup of coffee within the hour and figured the couple of guys who did say they wanted to go were probably still getting up… it was still pretty early after all. I went back to the kitchen, filled my cup again and returned to the porch. After I finished the second cup of coffee, and still not receiving any response to my message on the group, I filled my cup once again, then went to the garage and pulled my bike out. I sent out another message to the group letting them know that I would be leaving soon, after all, I didn’t want to leave my best riding pals behind- what if they were in the process of getting ready and they weren’t checking their phones? So I waited a little longer, then a little longer again. I ended up finishing the whole pot of coffee over the course of a few hours and at this point, no one had answered my messages on the group text… everyone had completely flaked out. 

Time to ride

It was around 10:00 am when I set out with no direction and no destination. On my days off, I like to leave earlier, especially if I think, even for a moment, that the day may end with a couple hundred more miles on the odometer, but 10 am is still early enough for a good day’s ride. Often times, I’ll pick a general “that way” kind of direction and I’ll go that way until I get ready to turn back. This was one of those days. 

I tend to stay on the backroads, because my love affair with two lane highways and scenic routes is rooted deep in my childhood memories, when my family would trek halfway across the country every few summers to see family in the midwest and dad would almost always take the scenic routes. For whatever reason, though, on this particular day, I got on the interstate and headed toward Louisiana. I knew I wanted to go west from the beginning, but I typically try to avoid the super slab unless I’m trying to get somewhere in particular, and trying to get there fast. This day it just felt right, so I settled down into the Dyna’s saddle, twisted the throttle and followed the mindless stream of tractor-trailers, sedans and SUVs as they plodded toward whatever destinations they were heading to. My Wide Glide had a quick detach windshield, which I put on before leaving, just in case, and I was glad I did. After a couple of hours on the interstate, I had settled into a nice, relaxing rhythm and I wasn’t quite ready to abandon my fellow westbound travelers. 

I hit the Louisiana state line pretty quick, as I don't live too far from the Pelican State, and continued west along the interstate. I wasn't sure where I was going or why, but the interstate just felt "right" today. I passed town after town, and exit after exit, of what probably would have led me down to some pretty amazing back roads along the swamps and through the marshes, but for whatever reason, something kept telling me to stay on the slab. Maybe it was nothing more than the hum of the Twincam 103, pulling me along effortlessly or maybe it was the morning sun at my back, but whatever it was, I followed along and kept my heading. 

I crossed over the Atchafalaya Basin bridge around noon or so, over the long twin span bridges as they hovered over the tops of the cypress trees in the swamp below. Riding close to the edge, I could see down into the water, where I spotted some large fish swimming and several alligator gar, lurking just below the surface of the murky water. At the halfway point on the bridges, there is a visitor's center with restrooms and complimentary water, coffee and soda, so I pulled in, parked the Dyna and stretched my legs a bit. I went inside and used the restroom, then took the greeter up on their offer of a fresh cup of coffee. It's never too late for coffee, after all. After taking a walk around the short walking trail out back, I saddled up again and continued my trek west. 

The Lone Star State

With my destination still unknown and no real time constraints, I rolled on the throttle and let that V-Twin sing. I passed the exits for Lake Charles and realized that I was getting pretty close to the west side of the state, but it was still pretty early in the afternoon, so I decided to keep pushing on. The next thing I knew- I was approaching the Texas State Line. I saw the rest area, with its oversized metal star planted in the ground near the highway, and knew that I needed to get a picture, so I cruised in to the parking area and took my obligatory, and slightly gratuitous, travel photo. I was about to start heading back, but with endless blue skies still above me, I decided to find the nearest Harley-Davidson shop, to pick up a souvenir. 

I looked on the map and saw that there was a dealership in Beaumont, TX by the name of Cowboy Harley-Davidson, so I figured with a name like that, it would have to be a pretty decent place to get a collectible poker chip or two. I pressed on, westbound until I found my exit, then I navigated my way down to the shop. It was clean and the people were friendly, so I got my souvenirs then went back out to the parking lot. I ate a quick snack and drank some water, then decided it was time to mount up and head back home.

Where the heart is

The interstate heading back eastbound was just as comfortable as it was going west, so I was making good time. The sun was at my back, and my shadow stretched in front of me, getting longer and longer by each mile that I passed, until it was finally consumed by the darkness that had finally settled in on the dusk of that long summer day. I rolled into my driveway, just after 8pm, with my wife and kids eager to see me and hear about my unplanned, and unexpected, adventure to Texas. 

Interestingly enough, a few months later, I found myself riding my beloved Dyna Wide Glide back over to Beaumont one last time, in order to return to my rightful place, in the saddle a Harley-Davidson Road King. The same bike that I would take to the mountains in Volume One of the MotoWriter's...

Tales from the asphalt 

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Our Janus Experience, Chapter 2

As a wanna-be writer, with skills that I'm sure aren't as good as I think they are, I write for the sheer pleasure of writing. Mainly because nobody is paying me to do it. Maybe, I suppose, that is a good thing, as it keeps my writing pure. With that said... I'm writing this blog post for the second time, as the first piece (which was done and about to be published) was eaten by the internet and has now disappeared into the dark abyss, never to be read again. I won't dwell on this, extremely frustrating, setback... instead, I'll tell my little story... again.

Our Janus Experience, Chapter 2

I originally planned on telling my story in a multi-piece blog post series with cool little "chapters", but as it turned out... between working an unhealthy amount of time at my paying job and some minor setbacks throughout the whole process, it just wasn't meant to be. So, I'll tell the story in the best way that I can, so that I can share this experience with you and still salvage the little bit of Saturday morning that I have left.

At the end of Chapter 1, I left you with our build sheets being sent to the production team. Well, the next part of that journey should have been getting our production numbers (I'll explain later) and our VINs so that we could get our financing in order and then getting the link to our photo albums. Yes, I said photo albums... as in, the team at Janus photographs the bikes as they're being built, so that you can watch your new Janus motorcycle become more than the sum of its parts... so to speak. 

If I've never mentioned this before- I have, what would best be described as, "dumb" luck. My best explanation is this- I wouldn't consider myself to be "unlucky" per se, however... when it comes to me, if something can go wrong, it typically will. I guess you could say that Murphy's Law lives strong here in the ole MotoWriter. Without getting too far off topic, let me give you a hypothetical example: Let's say I was in a line of 500 people, getting an ice cream cone (it's hypothetical, after all). The 499 people before me would experience a delicious frozen treat, smooshed happily inside a delightfully crispy container... but that 500th cone, my cone, would undoubtedly have a hairline crack in the bottom of it and I would end up wearing more of the sugary frozen treat than I actually ate. Now, some people might say that sounds like "bad" luck, but in my case, the rest of the story would go like this: after wearing said ice cream stained shirt for the next hour, someone at a cool store would end up seeing me, and in a random act of kindness, end up giving me 50% off a new shirt. So, basically... it's not bad luck... it's just, well, "dumb luck." 

With that explanation out of the way, our experience with buying a Janus wasn't exactly the same as what most folks were reporting. Shortly after signing off on our build sheets, unbeknownst to my wife and I, one of the team members at Janus HQ got sick and was out for several days. Now, you might think that this shouldn't be much of an issue, but at a small operation like Janus, one critical member of the team going out unexpectedly can greatly affect the overall process of the build. With that being said, though... in our case, it didn't actually affect our builds, only our communication about the builds. 

When the good folks at Janus realized that my wife and I had, sort of, fallen through the cracks... they immediately made up for it. While at work one day, I got a call from an unknown number. I almost ignored it until I saw the call location was Goshen, IN. I immediately answered and, to my surprise, the guy on the other end of the line was none other than Janus Co-Founder and Owner, Richard Worsham! That's right, the Head Cheese, the Big Kahuna, the Big Boss Man himself! Now, I don't care how big or small a company is- for the guy at the very top to take time out of his day to call a customer and offer his condolences for things going a little sideways, then offer to answer any questions or address any concerns, is a major boss thing to do. THAT my friends, is the core of customer service from a guy that truly cares about giving his customers a positive experience along with a quality product. By the end of the call, Richard told me that we'd have our photo albums by the end of the day and, sure enough... we had them before I left for work that day. 

The builds

Now, I'll just say this, while we didn't get the albums of the builds while the builds were happening, that didn't change a thing for me. I'm still enamored by the fact that we have albums of our bikes being built. Imagine, if you will, someone at Harley-Davidson taking pictures of your bike as it was being built. At Janus, they not only take photos, but before the frame ever gets set on the build stand, the technician knows where that motorcycle is going and who it is going to. That is simply unheard of in this fast-paced production focused world we are in. The guys on the production lines at the major manufacturers are simply building bikes for a nameless, faceless customer to be bought from a dealer, somewhere out in the world, but at Janus, they knew that Halcyons #908 and #909 were coming to the Gulf Coast to Mr. and Mrs. MotoWriter and that, my friends, is friggin' awesome. 

When we got our albums and we could see the bikes coming together, part by part, it was exciting to see. You also may be wondering, if you caught it, what I meant by our "production numbers." Well, one thing that is really cool with Janus, is that they (much like every other manufacturer) keep up with their production numbers of their different models. The biggest difference being, they proudly display it on their bikes. On the Halcyon 250's, for example, they have an "old school" registration plate on the front fender that has the
 production number painted on it. Why, you might ask? Simple- they are proud of their motorcycles and, in the Janus Owners Community, the production numbers are a point of pride. For example, the guy that has Halcyon JM-001 may not necessarily have a more valuable bike than the guy with JM-500, but it's certainly cool to say he has it. Plus, it's just cool to have a "pedestrian slicer" as it's commonly known, on the front fender of your bike... it's a really neat throwback detail.

Janus really delivers... literally

Once your bike has been built and your financing is in place (or you've paid the balance on it), you have two options- pick it up from the factory in Goshen, IN, or have it delivered. Being that we are a full day drive away from the quaint little town where our motorcycles came into existence, and the fact that we were both working long hours over several days, my wife and I opted for delivery. Just over a week ago, I got a phone call from Mitch McLane, telling me that he and Kyle Norwood were southbound, heading to our house. The next morning, right on schedule, the Janus van pulled into our driveway.  My wife and I watched in eager anticipation as Mitch and Kyle unloaded our bikes. The guys were actually on their way to Barber Motorsports in Birmingham, AL so they had a few bikes in the back of the van. Due to the limited space, Kyle had to leave the mirrors and the engine guards off our bikes, so I let him use my garage to get them all buttoned up as we went inside with Mitch to get all the legal stuff taken care of. Did I mention that Kyle was one of the guys who actually built our bikes? How cool is that? Before finding Janus, I couldn't have imagined that any company could offer that kind of personal connection with their customers. These are production bikes with the one-on-one personal touch of having a one-off custom built bike. You won't find that anywhere else. Period. 

Not to mention, my wife's bike was ordered with a picnic basket and, when Mitch noticed that it wasn't sitting on the bike perfectly, he took it off, placed it back in the van and said that he would have a new one sent to her as soon as he got back home. He sincerely apologized that her bike wasn't perfect when it left Goshen. After Mitch and Kyle left, on their way to the Barber Motorsports Vintage Motorcycle Festival, my wife and I just sat back and enjoyed the simple elegance of our new steeds before we had to leave to go to our respective jobs.

The next chapter

While my storytelling of our Janus buying experience may be coming to an end with this post, I assure you that our Janus ownership experience is only just beginning. My wife still has yet to learn the basics of operating and riding her new motorcycle and I'm looking forward to teaching her to ride safely, cautiously and defensively. While Mrs. MotoWriter and her bike patiently wait for their first ride, my little Halcyon and I already have a few miles on the clock together. 

Riding a small bore motorcycle isn't for everyone. The vintage styling and rudimentary technology of the Janus Halcyon 250 isn't for everyone either. But for genuine motorcycle enthusiasts like me, these motorcycles are unbelievably cool. My Road King Special is my refined, sophisticated and very comfortable cruiser/tourer; my Dyna Street Bob is my ripper; and my Halcyon is the bike I'll ride when I'm longing for those days gone by, when life was simple, calm and easy.

Whatever you do in life, make it meaningful, make it fun and make it memorable with the ones you love. Ride safe and make happy choices, MotoReaders.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Our Janus Experience, Chapter 1

Chapter 1, Finding Janus 

Before I shut down my socials, I would occasionally see ads for Janus Motorcycles. At first glance, I thought, “hey that’s pretty cool looking” but, being a “Harley guy” for over 10 years, once I noticed that they were small displacement bikes, I just sort of overlooked them and went on with my mindless scrolling (hence the reason for my signing off). I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was overlooking something that was, potentially, going to be a game changer for me.

So, you may be asking, if I kept overlooking Janus while I was on social media, then how did I end up finding it again, after I signed off? Well, the funny thing is, I was actually doing some research for one of my recent blog posts- A Star is Born. You see, I like to pretend that I’m a real writer, so I do as much research as I can before I start writing. Maybe I’m hoping that one day, some big executive at a major motorcycle rag or, even better, a motorcycle company, will stumble upon my blog and want to hire me as a full time writer after I retire from my current job. Who knows. Either way, I realized that I had been writing a lot of posts about making good choices and dealing with stress, and sort of dropped the ball on writing about actual motorcycle related topics

Before I settled on the piece on Star Motorcycles, I looked up all the different companies I could think of, just to see if there was anything new and exciting out, or about to be released. The results were pretty lackluster, so I went with the story on Star. During my research though, I had come across the Janus website and, after finishing the Star post, I went back to the Janus site to spend a little more time there. 

As I perused their website, I started playing with the bike builder with my wife and over the next couple of hours, we configured several different combinations. I read several reviews and we watched enough YouTube videos to make our eyes hurt. The more we watched, configured and read about them, the more excited my wife got about this little motorcycle from Indiana. So much so, that by the end of it all, she was telling me to put a deposit down on one that day!

This was different

My wife has always been very supportive about my moto-addiction. When we were dating, I spent a lot of time working on my car and she was right there with me, pumping brakes, handing me wrenches, or simply sitting there, just keeping me company. Early on, she recognized my passion for old cars and motorcycles and she has been there with me, every step of the way. 

Even though I started on metric bikes, over the years I gravitated toward Harley-Davidsons and, after a few years of being back in the saddle, my motorcycles began to grow bigger and bigger in displacement with each bike I got. Several years ago, we saw the film Why We Ride  (if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it). I didn't know it at the time, but after seeing it, my wife became inspired. A few years later, she mentioned that she was interested in possibly getting her own bike, so off we went to the local Harley-Davidson dealership! After looking at a few bikes, mainly Sportsters, she became disenchanted with the idea. The primary reason being that they were loud, heavy and more powerful than she was prepared to handle. A couple of years later, I ended up getting a good deal on an 883 and I tried teaching her to ride it, but again... the weight, power and noise was a little too much and after she dumped it in the yard, she was done with the idea again. 

When we were looking at the Janus though, something was different. She was excited about the size and the simplicity of the Halcyon. Her excitement was electric and it didn't take long before the desire to have her own motorcycle was rekindled. Initially, she just wanted me to get one, but after seeing the Janus Experience video of Terry and Mark, she became inspired! 

If you're not inclined to click the link, I'll briefly tell you that Terry and Mark aren't your typical "biker" types. They are regular people that, through Janus Motorcycles, became motorcyclists. That, to me, is amazing! I love that there is a motorcycle company that can inspire and encourage the love of motorcycling in people that, ordinarily, wouldn't give a second thought to riding. Don't get me wrong, I love my Harleys and I don't plan on getting rid of them at all, but the machines (and the culture) can be intimidating for someone that isn't already all-in on the idea of riding. For my wife, seeing Terry and Mark tell their story, was just the inspiration she needed to get on the site and start building her own. We gave it a couple of weeks for the "whim" of it to wear off, just to make sure that we were ready to commit to it and, in that time, we both configured multiple combinations of the Halcyon 250, trying to decide on what we actually wanted. We never even considered the other bikes- the Halcyon 250 was the one, without a doubt, that we both wanted. 

Go Fast, Don't Die

Now, I would be remiss if I told this story without, at the very least, mentioning another little piece of the puzzle that helped in this overall decision. If you've never heard of the "lifestyle brand" Go Fast Don't Die, do yourself a favor and click the link. I love this brand. They are, in a lot of ways, much like the folks at Janus- they are a small operation that is run by people who are absolutely passionate about the motorcycling culture. To the folks at GFDD, it's not about what you ride, your age, your background, your social status or where you're at in your personal journey- it's all about living the life that you are meant to live. I have a small collection of their merchandise because I love what they're doing and I love why they're doing it. In one of their weekly newsletters, they shared a story from one of their events where they were racing around on little mini-bikes. One woman, who was probably closer in age to my wife and I than to our sons, was riding this little Coleman mini-bike around and having the time of her life. Basically, the point of sharing the story was to remind people that speed was just a number, but going fast was a feeling

That pretty much tied directly in with the Why do we ride motorcycles video that the folks at Janus put out. For those of us who have always had the passion for riding, when we started out, we didn't ride big, 800 pound motorcycles. We started out on small, lightweight machines, most of which had knobby tires and were basic enough that we could work on them ourselves. So why then, should we limit that experience based on our age, or station in life? Why do we think that, once we enter adulthood, we have to conform to some unspoken rule about riding motorcycles? Why do we think that we can't enter this lifestyle unless we have years of riding under our belts and have a big V-twin engine in our garage? When did we get conditioned to believe that being a motorcyclist meant that we had to become a "biker." And, most curiously, where did we get the notion that we had to hit a particular speed before we could have fun? The folks at GFDD hit the nail on the head- fast IS a feeling. It's not the number on the speedometer that exhilarates you, it's the feeling that you get as it relates to what you're doing. 

The small size of the Janus engine, and the top speed being 70 mph became less significant the more we both talked about it and realized how we were planning on using these machines. We are planning on riding them exactly as they were intended to be ridden- along the backroads and beachfront drives, through the twisting country roads and down to our favorite coffee spots. 

The next step

After everything, my wife and I made the decision to get in touch with Mitch McLane at Janus and start the process of Janus ownership. The only delays we've had so far have been on our part because we have both been extremely busy at our respective jobs. Mitch was awesome and got our orders processed quickly and easily, then sent our orders to Kate Snyder for processing. Last week, Kate sent us our respective build sheets to review and sign off on, and now we're just waiting to get our paperwork. That will bring us to the next step which is, according to this video, our orders being sent to the production team! 

Hopefully, we'll get that next week... stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Janus Motorcycles

The Roman God of Past and Future

At the very core of our fast paced, modern society, is the subtle reminders of our connections to our past- those ancient societies built on myths and legends, where life was both mysterious and simple. For example- the month between December and February is named for the Roman god of beginnings and endings, past and future and the duality of time in general. He is known as Janus. It only makes sense that the first month of the new year is named for him and, after seeing the offerings from newest American made motorcycle company, based in Goshen, Indiana, it only makes sense that Richard Worsham and Devin Biek named their company after him. After all, their bikes harken back to a time of simplicity, efficiency and functionality with just the right amount of beauty in their form while at the same time, offering modern conveniences and performance.

The elephant in the room

Now, right off the bat, I want to address the elephant in the room:

The Janus Motorcycle Company uses Chinese engines... 
and I simply do not care. 

Allow me to explain- I've been riding motorcycles since I was a kid. As an adult, I've owned a Kawasaki, a few Hondas, a Yamaha/Star, and several Harley-Davidsons and do you know what each of these motorcycles have in common? They ALL have Chinese parts. My die-hard Harley fans might be cringing at that statement, but it doesn't make it any less true and, let's be honest... there is a reason that China is making all these parts. It's because they can do it for a hell of a lot cheaper than any other country can or will, because they have a strong, non-unionized workforce, as well as, the facilities to get the parts built for pennies on the dollar compared to other countries. Is everything from China great? Of course not... but neither is everything from America or from our European counterparts. 

With all that said, however, I trust that Richard and Devin did their due diligence and chose the engines that would best represent their new company's high standards of reliability, power and simplicity and, if I can trust them enough to build a motorcycle that is safe to ride, then I should be able to trust them enough to put an engine on that bike that will have bulletproof reliability. These engines, which are made by Lifan, are simply parts of the motorcycles, much like a turn signal or a seat spring, rather than being the centerpieces of them, meaning that the motorcycle itself, as a whole, is the main attraction. For good reason, too- the rest of the motorcycle is a hand built work of art. 

Riding is the most important thing

Another elephant to address, is that the Janus Motorcycles are not, well... elephants. They aren't big. They aren't powerful. They aren't complex. They are simple, small, lightweight motorcycles designed for short trips on backroads. In other words- they are just like the bikes that many of us grew up on as kids. They are modern motorcycles with the souls of those simple machines that we had so much fun on when we were young. 

Richard and Devin decided to build a motorcycle that didn't focus on engine displacement, technology and performance, but rather... they chose to focus on the one thing that is so easy to overlook these days- they chose to focus on why we ride in the first place. Riding is the most important thing... not how big the bike is, or how fast it goes, or how loud a stereo is or how much technology can be crammed into the frame rails. They focused instead on the experience of being on a machine so simple, that it could almost not even be there. They chose to design machines that were easy to ride, light enough to maneuver by even the newest riders, and easy enough to work on that even the least mechanically inclined riders could maintain them. They don't just allow for their owners to work on the bikes themselves- they encourage it and make tutorial videos to show them how!

The Halcyon 250

Halcyon hal·cy·on /ˈhalsēən/ adjective, denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful. "the halcyon days of the first motorcycles"

A motorcycle with a 14 cubic inch engine that makes a whopping 14 horsepower and 11 foot pounds of torque isn't for everyone, but that's the beauty of it- it's not supposed to be. Neither are dirtbikes, sportbikes or cruisers for that matter, if we're being completely honest. Not all riders are going to be into all types of bikes and that's okay. The Halcyon 250 is one of those types of bikes that has styling that isn't for everyone. It has a hardtail frame, sprung solo seat, leading link front suspension, wide handlebars and a 1.94 gallon gas tank. It looks like something out of the motorcycle history books instead of a modern motorcycle built in the 21st century. The Halcyon would look more at home at a vintage motorcycle festival than at a bike night at a local diner and you will probably never see one buzzing down the interstate, since it only has a top speed of 70 mph. 

You may be asking then, that with such a small engine, little horsepower and a minimalist top speed, why am I spending so much time talking about it? The answer is simple- I'm buying one. Actually, that's not entirely true. The whole truth is, I'm buying TWO. My lovely wife, Mrs. MotoWriter, has decided to embark on this journey with me. She has always been there with me, it's just now... instead of being behind me, she's going to be beside me. You see, for me (as it probably is for many of you), motorcycling is so much more than the representation of a particular brand... it's a way of life. Motorcycling is an opportunity to journey through life unencumbered by the constraints of being in an enclosed vessel; a chance to experience the world around us in such a way that is interesting, exciting, fulfilling and memorable. 

I'm not interested in being a brand ambassador, but rather, a lifestyle ambassador. I'm more interested in sharing the essence of being a motorcycle enthusiast with the rest of the world and I can't think of a better way to do that, than with motorcycles that excite and exhilarate, as well as those that relax and reminisce. My Dyna is loud, fast and aggressive, my Road King is refined, large and powerful and our Janus Halcyons will, hopefully, be fun, exciting and memorable for us.

The Phoenix, the Gryffin and the Halcyon 450

I'll talk briefly, very briefly, about the whole Janus lineup, since they currently have a few different models. I'm not going to spend too terribly much time here, though, because this blog post isn't intended to be a full-on presser on the company, but rather, my humble opinions on them. 

In the 250 class lineup, Janus offers the Gryffin and the Phoenix (for a limited time) alongside the flagship, Halcyon. The Gryffin is their version of a dual-sport scrambler, while the Phoenix is their 250 classed Cafe' bike. Of these two bikes, if I were so inclined to do so, I would most likely add the Gryffin to the garage over the Phoenix. The main reason being that, while a 229cc, single cylinder thumper engine is right at home in the dirt, a cafe' racer (in my opinion, anyway) should have a bit more "oomph" to really fit the "racer" name. 

The guys responded to numerous requests for a larger displacement version of their immensely popular Halcyon, with the new Halcyon 450. The 450 is very similar in a lot of ways to it's little brother, however... there are some distinct differences. Two of which to note, are the hardtail look, but with a Softail rear suspension and the larger, 445cc single cylinder engine. The 450 is a really nice looking motorcycle and, if I didn't have any other bikes, I might consider it to be my only bike. 
*edit- I assumed the 450 was a twin, since it has dual exhaust, but after actually reading the specs, realized I got a little overzealous when writing this- so I corrected this to reflect the accurate information.

The Janus Experience

One thing that I've read about, heard about and seen on several different YouTube videos, is something called the "Janus Experience." Apparently, buying a Janus is quite a bit different than buying a motorcycle from any other manufacturer, because they don't have any kind of dealer network. You literally build the bike online, then buy it directly from the factory. From what I've seen so far, the folks at Janus take the concept of customer satisfaction very seriously. From the initial ordering phase, to the financing (if needed), to the build and to the delivery of the motorcycles- they apparently take a very personal approach to providing the customers with a memorable and pleasant experience. 

Mrs. MotoWriter and I just finally finished building our bikes online, choosing our options and are actually still figuring out the finer points of how this is all going to work out (she doesn't actually know how to ride after all... not yet, that is), but that didn't stop us from pulling the proverbial "trigger" as they say- today, I sent the fine folks at Janus the deposit on our bikes! 

As we continue along on this journey... I'll be posting updates here, to keep you folks in the loop as we undergo our own "Janus Motorcycles Experience" and I hope that you take a few minutes to read them.

While you're waiting for my next post- ride safe, make good choices and try to answer this question for yourself- why do you ride?