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.
Showing posts with label Suzuki. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Suzuki. Show all posts

Saturday, May 4, 2024

MotoReview- Viking Bag’s Dagr Sissy Bar Bag

MotoReview- Viking Bags’ Dagr Sissy Bar Bag

Well, MotoReaders, as promised, I humbly submit to you, my review of the Viking Bags 22L Dagr sissy bar bag! 

Okay, first off- in the interest of FULL disclosure- I did not buy this bag, I do not work for Viking Bags, I am not related to anyone (that I know of) that works for Viking Bags and I do not own any stock in Viking Bags, nor will I benefit from a positive review of, or suffer from a negative review of, this bag (or any other items I review on my site). That said, let’s get to it, shall we?

Initial impression

 When I arrived home from work today, I was excited to see a decent sized brown box, waiting for me at my driveway. I anxiously picked it up and noticed that it had a little heft to it… again, a wave of pleasant surprise and satisfaction washed over me. Once inside, I opened the box to find a nice sized bag wrapped in a clear plastic bag that was tied. Had it been raining, I’m confident that the cardboard box’s contents would have been safe and dry inside. After plucking the bag out of the box and unwrapping it like an impatient child at Christmas, I removed the hefty, well made and very sturdy bag from it’s plastic cocoon. 

I, gratuitously, decided that the best place to take some photos of the bag was on my work bench, where I’ve been working on resurrecting the MotoWriter Dyna, which, if you haven’t heard (or, read about here on the site, yet… click the link here —>>) I crashed a few months back. Yes, I must also admit that the MotoWriter wall sign, that my good friend Nick over at The Wood Shop made for me, makes for a nice background detail… again, I know it’s gratuitous, but hey, I’m grown and I do what I want! 

Digging in

Hearing a distinct rattle when handling the bag, I feverishly began unzipping the compartments to see what goodies the bag contained. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the two side pockets are big. Not, “hold a pair of jeans” big, but definitely “keep your phone, GPS, keys, wallet, Snicker bars, and maybe even some miscellaneous H-D poker chips or challenge coins” big. The best part is, that there are two of them and they are equally large, not like some of those bags that have the random sized compartments that make no real sense. The main compartment held the culprits of the rattling sound- a rain cover, a shoulder strap and two (2) smaller straps for tying the bag to your bike in, probably, any way that you might want. 

In this photo, I’ve got them propped open with a marker (on one side) and a roll of painter’s tape (on the other side). The main compartment is big and has plenty of room for a couple of pairs of socks, underwear and maybe a t-shirt or two if you pack them tight enough (disclaimer- I wear a size large t-shirt, so I can make it work… if you’re bigger than that, it might get tricky for you). Viking also claims that the bag will hold “31 cans”… but I’ve yet to try that, as I’m more of a bourbon man. The “flap” (if you can even call it that) opens up and it has two detachable straps on either side to keep it from flopping open and dumping it’s contents. They are adjustable, so if you only want it to open a little bit, you can. If you want it to open all the way, adjust them out or simply unclip them. I, very loosely, refer to the flap as a “flap” because it doesn’t “flap” at all. There isn’t anything on this bag that is “flappy”, actually. The “flap” is very well made and semi-rigid to keep the contents of the bag safe, while helping to maintain the bag’s shape. On the inside, it has a mesh, zipper close, compartment that could be used for any small items you don’t want falling out of, or getting mixed up in, the main compartment. Did I mention the security? No? Well, I will. The main compartment can be closed and secured with a small padlock- think, “TSA approved.” It won’t keep anyone from stealing your bag, but it will prevent anyone from rooting through your bag and gawking at your weird under britches that have the hearts printed on them. 

Inside the main compartment is another zipper that runs along the entire inner wall. Snooping around and unzipping it, reveals the inner plastic “wall” that gives rigidity to the outside of the bag and maintains the overall shape. The plastic is thick, maybe 3/16” or just a tiny bit thinner and its made of a nice flexible ABS plastic that really looks like it can take a beating without shattering or cracking. The top of the bag has a sewn-in, and riveted, nylon strap handle that has a plastic “comfort strap” (that’s what I’m calling it… maybe the folks at Viking Bags can use that). The handle is well made and will, no doubt, be able to easily hold up to all of the weight that can be crammed into this bag- be it 31 cans of your favorite beverage, or all of those “heart” boxers that your aunt Susie gave you for your birthday.

The intelligent design didn’t stop at the back of the bag either. The strap to attach it to the sissy bar is wide and thick and will easily fit over most sissy bars (or back rests for you folks that are offended by the word “sissy”). It comes with something that, if I’m being honest, I’ve never seen before- two vertical, and removable, metal rods. The rods are used to adjust for the width of your bike’s sissy bar- a very cool feature and one that was very well planned and, from what I can tell so far, very well executed. There are D rings on the rear of the bag that can be used with the straps provided, to secure the bag to your bike, or, convert the bag into a backpack! Very cool! 

Overall Thoughts

My overall first impression of the Dagr bag is that it is very well made. It has what I like to call “smart engineering and design” all throughout. It’s obvious that whoever designed this bag, did so intentionally. The name, Dagr, is an old Norse word meaning, basically, “day” and that’s exactly what this bag is perfect for (although, I can see myself using it on overnight trips, too). 

Quality is top notch- the stitching is sturdy and the materials are very nice- a mix of nylon rip-stop and a rugged, rubber composite that blends very well into the design, making this bag not only functional, but attractive. The size is perfect for holding a variety of necessities on a road trip- sunglasses (and reading glasses for those of us who are getting a little older these days), sunscreen, gloves, snacks, and whatever else you want, or need, to bring along to make your trip a little better. 

While the MotoWriter Road King has big, cavernous saddlebags and a detachable trunk for my longer trips, I plan on using this bag on the MotoWriter Street Bob, once it’s put back together and ready for road trippin’ again, that is.

Durability, longevity and affordability 

I can’t, personally, speak on affordability, as I didn’t actually buy this bag, but I can tell you that, for the msrp of $69.99, and a current promotion (as of today) of $59.41, I think it’s a steal. This is a bag that you will keep from bike to bike until your significant other or one of your kids (or grandkids) decide to “appropriate” it for their own use. It looks good and is well made. 

As for the durability or the longevity of the bag, I obviously won’t be able to speak on this yet, either, as I just got this thing today. I will honestly be surprised if it doesn’t outlast some of my other gear (and maybe even one of my bikes), but I’ll do a proper follow-up review in 6 months, and another one at a year, to give you some updates on it, in case you’re still not convinced. 

Final thoughts

I’ll leave you with this to ponder- how much do you spend at the coffee shop every month? How much do you spend on fast food? How much do you give to your co-workers’ kids that are always selling cookies or doing some other kind of fund raisers? If you’re an average person, I’d be willing to bet that you could buy two of these bags a month, every month, for what you spend in coffee and fast food alone. So, why not take a chance and get a bag that will, absolutely, last longer than all those McBurgers and Starspressos. Go check out Viking Bags (by clicking the link at the top right of this page) or by clicking here and check out what they have to offer. 

Instead of spending a hundred bucks a month for some overpriced drinks or some, potentially cold, fries that will only give you joy, happiness or satisfaction for a few moments, take a break from the drive-thru line for a few weeks and buy yourself a bag that, I suspect, will give you years of service. Hell, what’s the worst that could happen? If you only use it for one year’s worth of road trips, it will still have given you more use than those deep fried fart sticks and that chalky ass, coffee flavored, sugar water. Make your coffee at home and brown bag your lunch for a month and get something that will actually bring you some joy- the Viking Bags Dagr sissy bar bag. (<<— shameless plug, but click the link and check it out for yourself!)

Now, I better get back to working on the MotoWriter Street Bob, so I can put this bag to good use before the next review!

Until next time, MotoReaders… ride safe and make good choices!

Saturday, January 28, 2023

120th Anniversary Lineup… my thoughts


Harley-Davidson’s 120th Anniversary lineup… Boom or Bust?

Well MotoReaders… there it is, your “new” bikes for what could arguably be one of the most significant anniversaries in Harley-Davidson’s history. So, the question is, did they knock it out of the park, or did they strike out? If there are any H-D execs reading this (which I hope so, but sorta doubt) this next part is directed to you- if this is all you have in your trick bag, I’ll be honest- I’m sorely disappointed. 

The bikes

The paint is gorgeous, the bikes are boring. Sorry, but they are. You guys had a great opportunity to introduce some really cool machines, but it feels like you just phoned it in. The only “new” model is the Road Glide trike and, as a younger old guy, or an older young guy (depending on how you want to look at it), I’m still young enough to handle a two wheeler, but “established” enough to afford a bigger touring bike, so for me… another trike is just plain boring. I’ll keep my 2017 Road King Special (especially now that I have fixed all the things you guys fell short on with that one). You “brought back” the Breakout? Ugh. The only bike that has even garnered a second look from me is the Nightster Special, but that one isn’t even a new model for ‘23. To make matters worse- the “Special” still sports the 975cc mill for 2023. Why not put the 1250 RevMax engine from the Sportster S in the Nightster Special? What exactly is “special” about the Special, anyway? Black paint and a quarter fairing (that was on the previous year model)? Come on… we, your customers, deserve better.

Jochen, are you listening?

Jochen, buddy… listen to me for a minute, I know you want the best for the MoCo, so do I. That’s why I’m offering this advice for free- bring back a twin shock, big twin powered line- yes, I’m talking about the Dyna, for 2023. Do you want to get some loyal H-D customers back? Give them a ground-pounding, M-8 powered bruiser. Something loud, powerful and highly customizable. Something that is raw, fast, classic and true to the H-D spirit. The Softail line is great, but we all know that the LowRider, the Fat Bob and the Street Bob are supposed to be Dynas. They were born as Dynas and they died as Dynas in 2017. These new Softail versions are best described as "Dyna tribute" bikes, for no reason other that to just keep the names alive and we all know it. 

Do you want me to buy a new bike? Offer me an M-8 powered Wide Glide. A true, twin shock frame with mini-ape handlebars and a tall sissy bar. Build it with an old-school ducktail rear fender, and offer a sick, diamond stitched king and queen seat in the P&A catalog. Bring back the Super Glide and spin some variants off of that like Willie G did back in the day. THAT would be an exciting lineup. While we’re talking about "come back" bikes… let’s talk about the Breakout for a second. When you wanted to bring back a discontinued Softail model, your best idea was to bring back... the Breakout? Not the Deluxe? What? Really? There is so much you could do with the Deluxe in terms of trim and customization. While I’m at it… what idiot said it would be a good idea to kill off the Road King? Has it ever crossed your minds that, not everyone is into the blacked out Specials? Personally, I happen to love my FLHRXS, but I know that not everyone does. There is a significant amount of people in the H-D market that want the classic, chromed out, do-it-all machine that is the Road King. A bike that has Touring DNA mixed with cruiser styling at a, somewhat, reasonable price tag. Enough of that… y’all probably aren’t reading this anyway. If you want to hear more, have your people call my people. 

Am I being too critical?

What do you, my MotoReaders, think? Am I off base here? Am I being too harsh with the Milwaukee Crew? Look, I’m not trying to be an ass… it’s just frustrating to see wasted opportunities. I’m usually the first to admit that I’m no expert. Hell, I’m just some random guy that pays a few bucks a year for a web address so that I can share my thoughts with whoever is out there that might want to read them. I’m not making any money from my blog and I’m not making any money on my YouTube channel. Nobody is compensating me for mentioning their products or creating an occasional video. No, this blog and those videos on my YT channel are a labor of love and it’s from that love where this post is coming from. 

By the numbers

I have always been a huge fan of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. Even before I bought my first one in 2009, I always loved them. As a kid, I can remember sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car, looking out the window and seeing them running down the highways. Those loud, raucous machines usually had some bearded, leather clad dudes riding them and I remember thinking how cool the bikes looked, blazing down the asphalt. When I talk about missed opportunities, I’m talking about this company that has such a rich heritage emblazoned on so many of our memories, slowing killing itself off by not staying true to itself. Harley-Davidson was never intended to be a “luxury” brand. It was never intended to be a brand that only the rich could afford. H-D was a brand that anyone could afford. Blue collar guys could go to their local dealership and buy a brand new motorcycle. Jochen and his boys need to return to that ethos. I’m not saying they need to build cheap, junky bikes just to stay competitive in the market, far from it. I’m saying that $20 grand for a basic, cruiser motorcycle is a bit ridiculous. For example, check out these numbers:

120th Anniversary (2023) prices, versus the 110th Anniversary (2013) prices.
  • Nightster- $13,500 (Iron 883- $8,000)
  • Nightster Special- $15,000 (Forty Eight- $10,600)
  • Softail Street Bob- $16,600 (Dyna Street Bob-$13,000)
  • Fat Boy- $20,200 ($17,000)
  • Heritage Classic- $21,200 ($17,600)
  • Street Glide- $22,000 ($19,800)
  • Road King Special- $24,000 ($19,900 for a Road King Classic)
  • Ultra Limited- $29,800 ($24,200)
I won’t even list the obscene prices of the CVOs or the Trikes. Don’t get me wrong, I understand how inflation works and I also recognize that I chose a ten year gap to compare my prices, but let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment- the entry level Harley price increased by over $5,000 in only ten years! Want a more recent comparison? Fine, I can play that game, too. The Iron 883 in 2017 only had a price tag of $8,950 that’s less than a one thousand dollar increase. The 2017 Street Bob (the last year of the Dyna) only saw an increase of a paltry $850 bucks, for a MSRP of $13,850 and the Ultra Limited sat on the showroom floor for $27,000. Those are 2017 price tags and even then, they were astronomical for a lot of blue collar folks, but at least they were somewhat attainable with the right credit score and a bit of financial planning. 

You get what you pay for... or, do you?

Look, I’d probably be a little less critical of the prices if I hadn’t seen, first hand, questionable quality in my own $22k (2017 price) Road King Special. Parts falling off, rust on fasteners and mirror stems and so on. It might have been a different story if my bike was a yard bird (you know, a bike that is parked outside all the time), but it’s been garage kept since I rode it off the showroom floor. Yeah, I’ve ridden in rain on it, but that definitely isn’t a common occurrence and it gets washed and waxed regularly, so there’s really no explanation for those issues other than sub-par finishing or just piss-poor design. Only time will tell if the finishes and designs of the new  bikes hold up better than my 2017 has. For Jochen’s sake, I really hope they do, too because his idea of making Harley-Davidson a “luxury” brand might just be the death blow if they don’t. I’ll tell you something else, too- if the design team doesn’t come up with something fresh, and do it soon, then H-D might just be losing a few more customers to its competitors. The MoCo needs to remember that they are no longer the only kids on the block and they're also just barely, if at all, still the most popular. Now that the family from Springfield has come back and bought the house next door- those kids are starting to get more and more attention. Then there are the kids from the United Kingdom, those other kids from Germany and let’s not forget about the kids from Britain (the ones that moved to India)… and then there are all the kids from Japan that have been there for decades, building high quality, extremely dependable and very affordable machines. The toughest part for H-D here is, they used to have one thing that all the others didn’t- a high quality product that was attainable by the very people that designed, engineered and built them, right here in the good old U S of A. Over the years though, quality has gone down, while prices have gone up. I don't care what business you're in... that combination is always a recipe for disaster.

Final thoughts

It's still only the beginning of the year and Jochen has already teased that more new models are on the way for this 120th anniversary year. I'm hopeful that there will actually be something new, cool and fresh that I can get excited about because, honestly, I haven't stepped foot in an H-D dealership in quite a long time. That is a far cry from just a few years ago when I was able to come up with some reason or another to go see what was new on the showroom floor at least a few times a year. Hell, my local dealership knew me so well that they were trying to recruit me for their team because not only did I give them a lot of my business, I also brought them a lot of business through my referrals. While I'm disappointed on the 120th Anniversary's launch, I'm still hopeful that the MoCo can pull a few rabbits out of their hats and make me want to come in and take a test ride. After all, one really fun part of being a motorcycle enthusiast is the process of buying a new bike, and I still have enough room in my garage for one or two more. I'm not saying that I'm in the market for another new motorcycle, but if a real, twin shock, big twin Wide Glide was to make a come back, I might be inclined to run over to the dealership on my way to the bank. 

Ride safe and make good choices, 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, June 12, 2021

Summer Bummin'

I'm still here... sorta

If you've been wondering why you haven't been seeing much activity on The MotoWriter site lately, I'd love to tell you that it's been because I've been bummin' around, riding, relaxing and exploring new backroads on my scooter. Unfortunately though, that hasn't been the case at all. I've been working... A LOT... around my house and at my "payin' job". I've had quite a few projects at the house that have been long overdue and I've finally had an opportunity to start working on them. One of the more relevant to this blog has been a fork tube replacement for my Sportster and all the rest has been manual labor stuff around my property. My 8-5 job, which at times has a tendency to numb my creativity like a bottle of cheap bourbon, has been demanding a lot of my time and energy and most nights all I've wanted to do was stretch out and let my brain rest. 

No need to worry though, I've got some new stuff in the works that I hope to post over the next couple of weeks. Doing all this work at my place has been giving me plenty of time to think about, and reflect on, a variety of things and I'm looking forward to sharing some of those observations with you, my MotoReaders. I've also been working on getting some swag designed and made for you guys (think- stickers, t-shirts, coozies and maybe even some kind of bandana). The first to get some goodies will be my BOTM features (Lee, Matt & Presley- I'm talking about you!). Sadly, I never received any submissions for April, May or June... so it looks like the BOTM feature may have been a short-lived venture that met an early demise. I was really hoping to get a little more interaction with my readers, but it's no sweat... not everyone wants to show off their bikes or tell their stories and that's A-OK with me. I'm cool with y'all just popping in from time to time to read my blog or watch my videos. 

So if you haven't given up on me yet, and you're still checking in on my little corner of the interweb, reading my words, thank you. I sincerely appreciate you and I'll do my best to push out some new stuff soon. Hell, I might even try to kick out a new vlog post on my YouTube channel, just to show you what's new on the best little coastline in the country.

Check back soon and in the meantime, enjoy this warm weather, ride safe and make good choices! 


Saturday, February 6, 2021


January 2021

For the very first (and hopefully not last) Bike of the Month feature here on The MotoWriter.com, I present to you, the MotoWriter's January 2021, Bike of the Month... 

Lee's 2014 Indian Chief Vintage!
My good friend, Lee picked up his beautiful, Springfield Blue Indian Chief Vintage as soon as Polaris released the revived brand into dealerships in 2014, which just happened to be the same year that Lee retired from the United Stated Navy with over 20 years of service to our country. Lee and his family moved back to Mainland, USA from his last duty station in Rota, Spain in 2014 and dropped their gear in the great state of Texas. When Lee got back to the Lone Star State, he was bike-less, because he had to leave his beloved 2006 Harley-Davidson Dyna Street Bob, aptly nicknamed "El Fuego", behind in Spain when the Navy shipped him back home. While Lee loved his Dyna, he had been anticipating the release of the new Indians since he first heard that Polaris had bought the rights to the Indian name and was planning on resurrecting America's First Motorcycle CompanyIt's only fitting that Lee would buy an Indian Chief Vintage, after all, the name "Chief" was very special to him, you see- Lee honorably retired from the U.S. Navy, at the rank of Chief. 

When Lee picked up his new Indian, he immediately started racking up the miles. He was riding his Chief Vintage all over Texas and even made a trip to South Mississippi to visit his ole buddy- yours truly. As a matter of fact, the day that he rode over, we took our bikes up the highway to Hattiesburg, so that he could get his first service done. As it turned out, we would only ride together one more time before he got offered a job back in Spain. Shortly after getting back to Rota, Lee quickly unpacked the Chief and set out to racking up the miles, or rather- the kilometers. In the past 6 years, Lee's Indian Chief Vintage has taken him through 11 countries, 5 of which he knocked out in a single trip, earning him the Iron Butt Association's "Saddlesore 1000" certificate, for riding at least 1,000 miles in 24 hours.

During another summer abroad, Lee took advantage of his ability to ride through multiple countries, by riding into France, then taking the Chunnel into the United Kingdom, riding through England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland. Most recently, before the country locked down again due to the resurgence of COVID-19, Lee was able to take his Chief on an 8 day trip, circumnavigating Spain. In all, Lee has racked up a whopping 100,000 kilometers (that's a little over 62k miles for the rest of us). That's an awful lot of riding, considering the fact that he works a full time job and lives in a country that is smaller than the state of Texas. 

Upgrades and Goodies

Lee's Chief Vintage remains mostly stock, with the most significant upgrades being a set of 16" ape hangers, a Stage 1 kit complete with hi-flow intake, those classic fishtail pipes and a Dynojet fuel controller, rear air shock, color-matched tank console, aftermarket windshield, a heated seat to keep him toasty on those cool Spanish nights, and a Kuryakyn Road Thunder soundbar to provide some toe-tapping tunes to help the miles pass by a little easier. Up next on Lee's list of upgrades is going to be a set of Cuztomkraft amber afterburner tail light lenses. Being in Spain, the availability and accessibility of aftermarket parts can be a little tricky as compared to living in the States, so a lot of the goodies he's added to the Chief have been ordered from all over the world, with the latest order coming in from Australia.

It's not what you ride

Lee and I share the common belief that, it's not what you ride, but rather, that you ride. You see, Lee and I both grew up in working class homes and we learned at a very young age that it doesn't matter what you have- as long as you're happy. Lee and I both started out riding old, ratty street bikes- I had an old Kawasaki EX500 and he had an old Honda Interceptor 500 and, at the time, we felt like the coolest kids on our respective blocks. Of course, as the years went by and we started enjoying some success in our individual careers, our bikes got much better. Lee has owned a variety of bikes to include a Suzuki, an Aprilia, a Harley-Davidson and now an Indian. He routinely organizes and leads group rides around the Navy base in Rota which often consist of every make and model of motorcycle available in the area. Following one of the most basic rules of motorcycle group riding, he and the rest of the group simply ride to the skill level and ability of the weakest rider on the smallest bike. Being an MSF instructor for the base in Rota, Lee understands the importance of teaching new riders the skills they need, so that one day they will be able to carve the corners of some random, mountain road and stay safe when doing it, just like Lee does, on his 2014 Indian Chief Vintage. 

Check out more pics of Lee's 2014 Indian Chief Vintage, here:

Chief 1

Saturday, December 5, 2020

What was your first motorcycle?

Do you remember your first motorcycle?

I'm afraid that I might be a little too analytical to answer my own question in a simple way, as I tend to overthink things way too much. For example, the first motorcycle that I actually owned, as in- the bike was legally registered in my name- was a 1990 Kawasaki EX500. My very first motorbike, however, was a very used Otasco mini-bike. It had no suspension, a horizontal shaft, pull start Tecumseh engine with a whopping 3.5 horsepower, an extremely worn out centrifugal clutch and a completely exposed chain. Ah yes, by today's standards it was a veritable death trap! My dad bought it for me from my big brother's junior high friend and I tore up the streets and trails on that little bike. In all honesty, I was probably a little too big for it, but I didn't care- I was having the time of my life. 

Motorcycles just make everything better. 

Terminator was a cool movie... but it got even cooler when the cybernetic killer from the future threw his leg over that Honda 750 Four and started chasing down the heroes while wielding a machine gun. When Beatrix Kiddo (aka Uma Thurman) donned that skin tight yellow riding suit and straddled that Kawasaki ZZR250, it certainly didn't hurt ticket sales... although that one may have had more to do with who was riding, rather than what she was riding. Regardless though... she wouldn't have been wearing that motorcycle suit if she wasn't riding a motorcycle in the movie. 

I'd be willing to bet that you know, or have known someone that you were never really interested in talking to until you found out they rode a motorcycle, then they suddenly became more interesting. Funeral escorts seem more dignified when they are being escorted by police motorcycles, Mardi Gras parades are often kicked off by police motorcycles rolling through the parade route first. Kids of all ages love seeing them riding and most people who cringe at the sight of a police officer will be the first to run up and take a picture with a Motor cop. I think the reason is because almost everyone can relate, in some way, to a person on a motorcycle. Motorcycles make people cooler and more approachable.

What bike inspired you, or your passion for riding?

The bike that did it for me was a 1980 Suzuki GN400X that my brother got from a friend of his. The bike was brought over to our house in boxes and I was immediately enthralled by it. I asked my brother what he was going to do with it and when he said that he wasn't going to do anything with it, I jumped on the opportunity to put the puzzle back together. I was maybe 13 or 14, had no knowledge of motorcycles, no service manuals to guide me and no Google to ask because the internet didn't even exist yet. But with a lot of determination, a little patience, a lot of trial and error and a fair share of blind luck, I was able to piece and part that thing back together. 

I still remember the feeling I got when I kicked that bike over and it actually fired up, and I'll never forget my very first ride on it. I loved riding dirt bikes, but there was just something different about the feeling I got when I twisted the throttle on that old Suzuki for the first time. Something just clicked and it was as if a piece of my own puzzle had just popped into place. At that very moment, a seed was planted that would take several years to sprout. When it finally broke through to the light though, what started as a tiny little seed would later grow into a towering passion that would come to define so many aspects of my life. I don't think I could have ever imagined that while I was sitting in our driveway on that old Suzuki, with it's single cylinder 400cc engine thumping for the first time in years, that the memory of that moment would become so influential in my life.

Why we ride.

Every person has their own reason, or reasons, why they choose to brave the dangers and ignore the warnings from their mothers, friends and co-workers about the dangers of motorcycle riding. If you've never seen it, I highly recommend the documentary film, Why We Ride. Even if you  don't ride... actually, specifically if you don't ride...  you should watch it. It might give you some insight about those people in your life that do ride motorcycles and why riding is so important to us. 

Riding my motorcycle is therapeutic. It gives me an opportunity to clear my mind and compartmentalize all of those things that are rattling around inside my head so that I can prioritize what's important and dump what's not. My wife has told me that she can see a difference in my overall mood when I've been off the bike for too long. There are so many times in my life that I've been able to find solace behind a set of handlebars and inner peace in the steady rumble of a motorcycle engine. I've also had a lot of fun on a motorcycle. I've enjoyed the camaraderie of riding with groups of friends, the dignity of riding in escorts and the exhilaration of riding through the mountains with my bike leaning so far over that sparks were flying. I've had adventures, explored new places and yes, I've even had a few close calls.

Your story.

What's your life story going to look like? If someone were to make a Hollywood movie about your life, with your favorite actor playing you, what would it be about and how interesting would it be? I'm not suggesting that any of us live our lives like a Tinseltown flick, but when you are drawing your last breaths and looking back over your life, will your life have been an action-adventure, a comedy, a drama or a tragedy?

I'm not sure that my life story would be a blockbuster- instead, I imagine it being a low-budget, over produced, action film with cheesy dad jokes, bad wardrobes and a completely random soundtrack. But I think it would be a fun movie to watch, with a lot of love, a little tragedy and a whole lot of great supporting characters to carry it through to the end credits. 

Fill your life with memories that you fondly remember and give your family and friends a good story to tell after your gone. You don't have to have a lot, to live a lot. After all, you never can tell, sometimes those low-budget, B-rated, movies become cult classics that end up being loved and remembered for generations. 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Brand Loyalty- how far is too far?

Brand loyalty... how far is too far?

OK, I'll admit... I may not be the "best" brand ambassador for Harley-Davidson. But in my defense, I'm honest, hardworking and I don't make a lot of dough, so I need to actually get what I'm paying for. I would consider myself to be more of a spokesman of the working class for Harley-Davidson. I love my Harley-Davidson motorcycles but I'm not a blind follower of them, or of any brand for that matter. If they do something right, I'll sing their praises to everyone I meet, if they shit the bed on something, I'll do my best to try to point it out so they can improve. Think of it like getting constructive criticism from your best friend. 

Take my boots

A year ago, I picked up a pair of TCX riding boots from Union Garage in Brooklyn, NY. I paid $199 and got free shipping... so I got a sweet pair of boots and still had enough left over for a Snicker bar. I bought them without ever even trying them on. Why? Because I read a ton of honest reviews from fellow riders who, like me, refuse to blindly follow a brand name. I believe in the tried and true method of evaluation and review from people who understand that sometimes companies get it right, and sometimes they don't. I did a six month review of my boots back in May (and I'll be doing a one year review soon) so that anyone on a budget that is looking for a new pair of riding boots can read it and, hopefully, get a little insight on them. I got some good feedback on my review and even had some guy claiming to be a rep of the company reach out to me and ask if it was okay if he posted it to the company website (I told him yes, but I don't know if it ever got added). I look at it this way- there might be somebody out there who, like me, has just enough extra scratch at the end of the month to be able to ride motorcycles. Chances are, they probably don't have thousands of dollars a year that they can spend to experiment with gear, so just like reading Yelp reviews on the local greasy spoons- we can get a better idea of where to, or not to, spend our hard-earned money. I don't believe in being a rude, over-critical ass; I just believe in the effectiveness of constructive criticism. 

Die-hard loyalists

I get a kick out of these die-hard loyalists who take the brand loyalty thing way too far. I have a friend, who will remain nameless, that is that guy. His bike is the best- it is the fastest, makes the most horsepower, the most torque, has the best paint, the highest quality finishes and is the most nimble, as well as the most comfortable, motorcycle that has ever been built in the United States and abroad. Of course, that is strictly his, not-at-all humble, opinion. I also get a kick out of these Indian riders who claim that Harley-Davidson is now suddenly going to file for bankruptcy because Polaris has recently breathed life back into the long-dead Indian name. I seem to remember all those same comments being made by the Victory Motorcycle guys a few years back and we can all see how that turned out.

You might be saying, "now hold on just a dag-gummed minute Mr. MotoWriter... you can't compare Victory to Indian!" No? Why not? Because Indian has been around "Since 1901" or because it was "America's FIRST motorcycle company"? Well... I wrote a little nugget about that, too. You can read the brief history of Indian Motorcycles here if you'd like. Look, I like Indians and I think that they have a LOT of potential and if the executives over at Polaris want to give me a loaner bike for a year, and some of that sweet Indian swag to go with it, I'll do a fair, honest long-term review and evaluation of their bike and products. Hell, if I like their products enough, I might even buy 'em. 

Harley guys aren't the worst, but they're close

Harley-Davidson is an iconic brand. It has somehow survived over a century, through good and prosperous times and through countless recessions; not to mention, surviving the Great Depression which befell the country a mere 26 years after the company first rolled out their first production motorcycle. They've managed to keep a consistent customer base over the decades, have seen years of profits and years of losses, but yet they remain. The guys and gals that stand behind the Motor Company are, no doubt, a big part of the reason that the Milwaukee based company is still churning out new bikes after all these years. With that said, they can be a bit ridiculous. I've heard people say things like "I'd rather push my Harley than ride a Honda." Really? I'll call bullshit on that one. "Harley's don't leak oil, they mark their territory." Yep- bullshit. If I buy a brand new motorcycle (or any vehicle for that matter) and it leaks oil- somebody's gonna hear about it. I think that one of the reasons Harleys catch such a bad rap from other brand enthusiasts is because of those die-hard loyalists who defend the company even when it's failed or failing it's customers. 

Warning- this next part might offend you.

We may not all agree on this- but defending a company when it produces a crappy product is akin to giving out participation trophies. You're doing them a disservice. You're telling them that putting in a half-assed effort is good enough and that losing is still winning. By blindly defending Harley-Davidson, you are basically telling the MoCo that it's okay that they made a crappy product. In my long term review of my 2017 Road King Special, I beat the MoCo up a little. I wouldn't say that I picked the bike apart, but I did point out some deficiencies in the quality. Maybe, if we are all lucky enough, somebody over at H-D HQ will watch that video and say "damn, we need to correct those issues." If you go to a restaurant and the food is awful, are you going to tell your friends how great it was? I would certainly hope not.

Let's help them survive

Look, I don't know about you, but I want ALL of these companies to improve and survive and the best way to do that, is to hold them each accountable when they screw something up and not be so blindly loyal that we refuse to offer them any sort of criticism, or even recognize what their deficiencies are. I'm not saying let's boycott Harley-Davidson because they put a shitty finish on a few parts and I'm not suggesting that we force Polaris to kill off Indian because they have had some electrical issues. I am, however, suggesting that we, the customers, give them good, honest and constructive criticism so that they can improve their products for us. After all, we will all benefit from those improvements- we (the customers) will get a better product and the companies will make more money in return sales and be able to stay afloat going into the future. 

I truly love the diversity in the motorcycle market. I don't just love Harley-Davidson motorcycles- I love ALL motorcycles. I want Polaris-Indian to put pressure on Harley-Davidson and I want Harley-Davidson to continue making motorcycles that set the standard for overall style, comfort and performance (some people will roll their eyes at this, but history proves this statement to be true). I really hated to see Polaris shut the doors on Victory and it was such a disappointment to see Yamaha dump the Star line of cruisers. Honda is still going strong, introducing an all new Rebel 1100 for 2021 and Suzuki's Boulevard line and Kawasaki's Vulcan line both seem strong. BMW's new R-18 is an exciting addition to the cruiser world and Triumph's line of "Modern Classics" offer even more styles for us to choose from. To be completely honest, I'd love to see the resurrection and success of some of the old motorcycle companies that have fallen to the wayside. Can you imagine if BSA, Brough Superior, Vincent, Victory, Excelsior-Henderson, Pierce-Arrow, Ace, Crocker or Acme were still pushing out new products? Think of the innovation and the options that we might have! I get giddy just thinking about it! 

Competition is a good thing 

Competition drives advancement and each one of these companies should be in a head to head competition with each other, not to destroy the other guys, but to earn our money instead. If we do our part as the end-user and tell them what we want, what we don't want, what we like and yes, even what we don't like, we can give them a clear path to the future to build products for us that we can enjoy for years to come. They might even earn the business of our kids and grandkids and if things work out- maybe every motorcycle company can eventually brag about being in business for over a hundred years.

As for me- I'll just be down here in South Mississippi riding my Harley-Davidson along our beautiful coastline, and writing a few things to entertain you good folks, while I'm waiting patiently for one of these companies to reach out to me to do a long-term review of their products. 

Stay tuned for more reviews coming up, and in the meantime, ride safe and make good choices!

Sunday, September 20, 2020


Living on the Gulf Coast is awesome    

Along America's Southern Coastal border we have around 10 months of great riding weather complimented by coastal breezes, beautiful scenery, friendly people and some of the best food that will ever cross your taste buds. In one day, you can ride next to beautiful white sand beaches, cross over bays, bayous and marshes and, just a few minutes later, be cruising past cattle pastures, old homesteads and rolling hills. Want a piece of big city action? No problem- to the West we have New Orleans and to the East we have Mobile, Gulf Shores, Pensacola and Destin. The roads are pretty decent, there are plenty of gas stations and restaurants to stop at and there is no shortage of motorcycle shops to keep you rolling. But, as is the case with any area that has so many benefits, there is the occasional drawback that is there to keep you humble. In our case, it's the Tropics.

Tropical storms and hurricanes 

Every year, beginning around the month of June, Southerners start tuning in to weather channels, begin checking their generators and re-stocking their supplies of canned goods and bottled water. The reason? June marks the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season. While the tropics don't always deliver storms to our estuary coastline, we always keep a watchful eye on anything that spins too close to the Leeward Islands. For those that are unaware, a Tropical Storm gets it's name when it reaches a wind speed of 39 miles per hour. At 74 mph, it becomes a full-fledged, "category one" hurricane. While a cat-1 storm is more of an annoyance to most of us, a cat-5 storm, with sustained winds over 157 mph, is a bonafide killer. The most recent cat-5 to hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast was Hurricane Camille in 1969. In 2005, we got hit by Katrina, a very powerful, well defined storm that had grown in intensity to a category 5 storm, but according to the weather experts, had dropped to a strong category 3 by the time it made landfall over New Orleans, unleashing it's most powerful and most damaging winds across the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. If you were alive, or at least awake in history class, you will know that Hurricane Katrina was a killer on it's own merit- claiming over 1,800 souls and causing over $125 billion in property damage. That's a billion, with a "B." Our coastline was, quite literally, leveled. If Katrina was a Category 3 when it caused that kind of death and destruction, just try to imagine what a category 5 would do. 

Scary stuff, to be certain.

This year has been a busy one

2020 has maintained it's consistent level of overall SUCK and, only three months into this season, it has given us over 25 named storms. We still have three more months of "in-season" tropical storms to contend with. With that said, we've been pretty fortunate thus far, in that all we've really had to deal with so far has been a few rain-making tropical storms and an annoying category 1, Sally, that finally decided to make landfall to the east of us. We still have to make it until the end of November and, God willing, we will make it to December 1st unscathed.

I'll ride in the rain if I have to, but I don't ever want to

Riding in the rain sucks, that's all there is to it. But sometimes, you can't help it. On a road trip for example, you just can't avoid running in to an occasional rain shower. It's not ideal, but with proper gear, it's manageable. You'll rarely ever see me leave the house in the rain, unless there are some kind of extenuating circumstances. Some people may call me a "fair-weather rider" because I'd prefer to wait it out than assume the extra risks of riding in the rain, with limited visibility on slick roads, but those that know me, know that I've been soaked to the bone while riding through torrential downpours. I simply choose to ride smarter, whenever I can.

The problem with hurricane season 

The biggest problem with hurricane season is the seemingly constant deluge of rain. As I said, I don't exactly mind if I get caught in the rain while I'm out riding, but I definitely don't want to leave the house in a torrent and it seems like that's been every day lately. I said previously that in the South, we have around 10 months of good riding weather, and that is completely true... just not 10 consecutive months. 

Choose your poison, so to speak

We don't always get to pick where we grow up, but we get to pick where we live when we do. As a kid, my family moved to the Coast from the Midwest. When I was just an innocent little freckle faced ginger kid, I remember riding in the back seat of our mid '70's Chevrolet coupe and watching the landscape slowly changing the further we got away from the home I knew, to the home I would later come to know and love. I watched as the trees grew taller and lost their lower branches and saw their leaves turn into needles. The rolling landscape of dirt and rocks, slowly flattened out, the black dirt turning into orange clay and the rocks turning into sand. When we finally stopped, I stood on the edge of the continent as the waves splashed across my 8 year old feet and I smelled the hot salty air. I watched as shrimp boats slowly trawled along the horizon in front of me and seagulls squawked at the setting sun. In this new home, I would later meet the girl that would become my wife and a few years later, she would bless me with the gift of fatherhood. I rode my first motorcycle in this balmy, humid Southern air and I have survived more than 30 hurricane seasons. My wife and I tried to move away once, but we just couldn't resist the beckoning symphony of summertime cicadas buzzing in concert with crickets, tree frogs and owls, or the smell of the salty ocean breeze blowing in off the Gulf of Mexico under a spectacular sunset. 

We chose to make this place our home and even though the, seemingly constant, deluge of rain during hurricane season puts a damper on my motorcycle riding, the rain always breaks, the clouds always clear and the sun always comes back out.

Ride safe and make good choices, y'all.

-The MotoWriter