Archive for the ArtBiker’s Thoughts Category

www.ArtBikerWorld.com is now LIVE!!!!

Posted in American Motorcycle, ArtBiker's Thoughts, Biker News, Biker TV, Book Reviews and Author News, Build Your Own, Custom Bike Show, Custom Motorcycle, Fine Art Fridays, Harley-Davidson, Motorcycle Club, Motorcycle Event, Motorcycle Industry News, Motorcycle Rally, Motorcycle Tour and Travel, movie mondays, Outlaw Biker, Press Release, Product Reviews, Tattoosday, Uncategorized, Weekend Pass : Biker's Rights and the Law with tags , , , , , on September 29, 2009 by ArtBiker

Yes Friends!  www.ArtBikerWorld.com is now live and all the new posts are going to be at the new site.  Don’t worry if you have not been here before, everything ever done here has been ported over for your perusal.  So, please do yourself a favor and head over to the new site, add it to your favorites, bookmark the RSS Feeds, and let everyone know!

We really appreciate you reading this little blog of ours and we love you all for it… I think big things are about to happen with the new site.

Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,

ArtBiker

Sidecars Part II

Posted in American Motorcycle, ArtBiker's Thoughts, Custom Motorcycle, Product Reviews, Uncategorized with tags on October 23, 2008 by ArtBiker

I have listed a few of the OEM Sidecar Manufacturers in North America, but again, there are sure to be more out there… Here is an attempt at a more complete list.  Please feel free to add companies and builders, as we would love to find them!

Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,

ArtBiker

 

www.CaliforniaSidecar.com

www.ChampionSidecars.com

www.CycleSidecar.com

www.DauntlessMotors.com

www.Harley-Davidson.com

www.IMZ-Ural.com

www.LibertySidecars.com

www.Motorvation.com

www.SidecarCanada.com

www.SideStrider.com

www.SpaldingSide.com

www.TexasSidecars.com

www.VelorexUSA.com

Cool sidecars, past and present… http://www.bikemenu.com/photossidecar.html

Other really good sidecar sites to check out:

www.sidecar-industry.com

www.sidecar.com

www.hackd.com

 

Sidecars Part I

Posted in American Motorcycle, ArtBiker's Thoughts, Build Your Own, Custom Motorcycle, Harley-Davidson, Motorcycle Industry News, Uncategorized with tags on October 21, 2008 by ArtBiker

 

Today we make the leap from trikes to sidecars.  Those unusual little bikes that bring to mind a lone stranger traveling across the states with his dog in the dead of winter, or the rig that is slowly putting down a country road with an elderly woman enjoying the scenery as her driver tries to keep the bumps to a minimum.  Sidecars have a decidedly nostalgic feel to them.  Besides early America, they also bring to mind small towns in Europe where the townsfolk move at a slower pace and the beauty of life is more appreciated.

 

 

A quirky mode of transport to say the least, the sidecar is also ultimately useful.  It is stable and can be run off road as well as in the snow, it has a wonderful carrying capacity and can be used to pick up and deliver items as well as a mobile vending unit, it gives those with certain physical limitations another option in enjoying the open air of a motorcycle, and your narcoleptic buddy can ride in the car and fall asleep without you worrying that he is going to fall off the back.

 

 

I have just purchased my first sidecar rig and it serves my purposes perfectly.  It gives me a way to take my two young daughters for a ride around the block, it gives me a nice space to stash my things on my way too and from work without having to ride with overflowing saddlebags, it also gives me a place to ride and photograph the world from a unique perspective.  Besides, my Ol’ Lady rides and she can use it to get groceries and other items that she can’t carry on her two wheeler, pick up the kids from a play date, or take a couple friends for a spin to the local pub for a girl’s night out.  So for us, it was a fantastic investment.  Not that it was expensive by any stretch.  We picked up a 1975 Yamaha XS650 with an American Eagle sidecar.  Nothing fancy, nothing too shiny, nothing but a fun workhorse for us to play with.

 

 

For those of you who have never ridden a sidecar rig, and I expect that is most of us, it is a very different animal.  Yes, it is a motorcycle, but it steers like a car.  Because of the third wheel, you cannot drive the rig with the same counter steering techniques used on a two-wheeled machine.  This is really not difficult to get over, and it has not given me any trouble thus far.  The thing that is a little hard to get used to is the fact that during right hand turns the sidecar, or “chair” as it is sometimes called, will “fly.”  Now that sounds fun and all, but if you go into a right hand turn at any significant speed at all, the “flying of the chair” can cause a little squinting action.  I am working on mastering the technique now and understand that it can be an exciting and fun thing to do when you are prepared for it.  The thing that is hardest to remember is that when the car goes up in the air, you are suddenly on a two-wheeled motorcycle again and need to counter steer to keep yourself going where you want to go! 

Alas, I am still a newbie when it comes to these things, so I am probably not the best purveyor of advice.  So, I will direct you to the authority.  I just picked up a copy of “Driving a Sidecar Outfit: a manual on learning to drive a motorcycle/sidecar combination” by David Hough and published by the USCA Sidecar Safety Program, Inc.  These folks have put together this manual to be used as a guide for a sidecar safety course.  Because I cannot find a course in my area, I am simply walking myself through the exercises whenever I have a chance to get to an empty parking lot. 

I did spend some time looking at sidecars before actually taking the plunge.  There are a few companies that make fantastic products out there and I would like to share these with you.  The first is probably the best-known sidecar manufacturer out there, Ural.  In 1939 the USSR Defense Ministry decided to reverse engineer the BMW R71 motorcycle so that it could produce them in preparation for World War II.  In 1941 the first test samples rolled out of the plant and were approved by Stalin. The “new” Russian motorcycle was labeled the M-72 and put into production.  Export of the Ural began in 1953 and hit the shores of developed countries by 1960.  Eventually the company was bought from the Russian Government and became privately owned.  This happened in 1998 and allowed the company to grow, create better quality control, modernized design, and updated technology.  We are looking at a whole new Ural here.  They offer four major designs, the Retro, Tourist, Patrol, and Gear Up.  Check out their site and I am sure you will find one you like. http://www.imz-ural.com/.

 

 

If you are looking for something a little more tailor made, contact Liberty Sidecars in Seattle, Washington.  These folks put sidecars together to fit your exact specifications.  Well, they do use their own chassis and dimensions, but you can order special items like luggage racks, custom interior, tonneau cover, detachable windscreen, custom wheels, spotlight with or without turn signal, sidesteps, and more.  You may have seen one of Liberty’s sidecars in the movies… every see Wild Hogs?  Yup, William H. Macy took a spin in one of these when he lost his bike to a member of the Del Fuegos MC.  Check it all out at http://www.libertysidecars.com/.

 

 

California sidecars (http://www.californiasidecar.com/) makes a pretty cool sidecar called the Friendship III.  This little number fits two people in the car with its bench seat.  It also has 9 cubic feet of trunk storage!  What could make it any better?  Well, the Friendship III has an integrated disc brake system on the car, which improves handling during braking as well as stopping time.  Truly a state of the art hack.

 

 

Speaking of state of the art, Spalding Side Motorcycle Sidecars has some pretty trick looking chairs.  These are sleek and contemporary.  Gone are the “bullet” look of the classic cars and in are the sports car front ends; you can even order one with an air scoop on the hood.  These little numbers open up wide and the passengers step in rather than climb in, very upscale and really good looking.  Check them out at http://www.spaldingside.com/.

 

 

Sidecars, like trikes, seem to be making a comeback these days.  I can’t say they will ever replace the chopper or bagger in popularity, but I certainly think you will see more of them on the roads in the near future.  The utilitarian nature of the sidecar rig was one of the reasons I was attracted to them, but they are actually so fun to drive that I think I will keep one in the stable for a while.

 

Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,

ArtBiker

 

 

 

Welcome to Tattoo Tuesday (or Tattoosday)

Posted in ArtBiker's Thoughts, Tattoosday, Uncategorized with tags , , on October 20, 2008 by ArtBiker

Welcome to the first installment of Tattuesday!  Yes friends, every Tuesday I will be posting something about the art of tattoos, tattoo care, tattoo artists, or other related tattoo subjects. 

 

My love of tattoos began at a fairly early age.  I must have been about 16 when I started to get into them.  I didn’t actually get one, but I devoured every issue of Outlaw Biker’s Tattoo Review.  I also helped to build many a homemade gun that would end up scarring friends at parties and punk rock shows.  Poor guys, I appreciate their enthusiasm and daring demeanor, but you really only have so much skin.  I would not allow myself to be marked by a hack… let alone a hack that was a buddy in homeroom!  Too young and dumb. 

Now, this is not to say that I made every decision perfectly.  I did wait until I was 18 and went to a reputable shop in Phoenix for my first piece.  Piece is not really the word, more like small tattoo… toe in the water, cautious first meeting, etc.  It was (and still is) a logo of Powell Peralta Skateboards called Bones.  The image had a huge history with me and still has a lot of personal meaning.  So at least I thought that part through.  However, as many of us do with our first tattoos, I went smaller than I should have and now the detail has bled and faded away.  If I had listened to the artist and gone a bit bigger, I am sure the piece would have held its integrity.

Anyway, I did make a second mistake.  I got a second design without giving it enough thought.  The image again did have personal meaning and for that I am thankful.  However, the size and location were probably wrong and I went ahead and let an apprentice do the work.  Now, an apprentice is not necessarily a poor decision.  Often, they have had enough training to not screw things up too badly, and most reputable shops will have the mentor monitor every pass and stroke.  My shop wasn’t quite that considerate.  Bad scarring was the result of his tearing into my flesh with reckless abandon.  I think I was probably lucky I didn’t have more time to think about what I was getting.  If I had, I am sure the work would have been much more detailed and complex.  I know what the guy did with the simple graphic; I would hate to have seen his rendition of something more artistic.  A year or so later a buddy of mine took me to see his tattoo artist in Denver.  She did a freehand skull that I really dug.  It was added to the original piece the apprentice in Phoenix had done (a blue dragon) and what she added really made the piece for me.  If I had only gone to her to do the entire thing…  Anyway, live and learn. 

Skip ahead about 15 years.  I was still an avid tattoo fan and had become obsessed with checking out all the artists I could.  I spent the following three years researching artists from around the globe to find the best of the best, those that I considered to be the cream of the crop.  I was not only looking for amazing tattoo work, but looking for amazing traditional art as well.  I had decided to put up an exhibition of tattoo artists’ fine artwork at the University where I teach.  The research I put into the exhibition allowed me to discover some artists that I really, really wanted to have work on me. And, they were so good; I wanted real pieces by them.  Something substantial.

So, please join me every Tuesday as we look at a new artist who I consider good enough to give a portion of my limited dermis.  I hope to eventually list artists in every state that I would personally recommend.  If you or someone you know would like to be considered for my list, drop me an e-mail and I will check it out.  I would also love to hear your tattoo stories: good, bad, or ugly.

 

Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,

ArtBiker

House of Blues Opens in Houston

Posted in ArtBiker's Thoughts, Harley-Davidson, Motorcycle Event, Uncategorized with tags , , , on October 18, 2008 by ArtBiker

 

The weather in Houston was beautiful today, perfect for a spin on the sled.  As luck would have it, it was also the day of the House of Blues Rock Ride put on by two of the local Harley dealerships.  I had managed to score two of the tickets to participate and was looking forward to the day out with the Ol’ Lady.  But, as is apt to happen when you are a parent of small children, the plan changed.  The window of opportunity to potty train our oldest daughter threw itself wide open and Big Mamma jumped at the opportunity.  She also told me to go ahead and enjoy the weekend while she took care of business at home… just one of the many reasons I married the woman.

Anyway, a quick call to my Bro 8-Ball and the plan was set.  I met him at the gas station near my place and we started the short jaunt to the dealership where a police escorted ride led by Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi was staging.  The air was cool and refreshing as we rolled handlebar to handlebar on the way to the parade.  I heard the word “cop” as if it was whispered in the wind and my Bro and I instantly slowed to the posted 40mph speed limit.  I watched my mirrors for the next quarter mile while the police car followed at a safe distance.  It finally made a quick u-turn and without a look or nod, both throttles cracked open and we were back at a comfortable 80mph in a matter of seconds.

As we rolled into the parking lot, the other 500 bikes were already staged and ready to leave.  I led Baller around the building so we could line up in back.  As we ran the perimeter of the shop, we saw a separate group of bikes lined up.  We took our places at the end of the staging line and looked at each other.

“You know, that group we just passed behind the building is where we wanna be.” Baller stated.

“Ya think?” I said as I cranked my twin cam up again.

He said, “Go check it out, if I don’t see you back here in a few, I will come join you.”

Well, being self important, I pulled out of line, backtracked to the back of the building and lined up behind the bikes that were there.  As the bikes riders emerged from a huddle and began to mount up, my Bro sauntered across the parking lot and lined up with me.  Within moments we were intermixed with the owners and managers of various House of Blues establishments from around the country.  They had come out to join the festivities. 

We hit the highway and the 500 or so bikes that were waiting in the lot joined us on our escorted ride to the next dealership where we were picking up Dan, Jim, and the other 500 bikers who were lucky enough to get tickets to the party.  One thousand of us hit the road and the police escorts did an amazing job of shutting down the entire freeway system as we rode into downtown to celebrate the opening of the new House of Blues.  As we arrived, the celebrities we were intermingling with were whisked away as the rest of us parked our bikes in front of the club.

En masse we headed upstairs to get in for the free food, drink, and the opportunity to hear the Blues Brothers go through their sound checks and warm up.  Problem was, as we got to the doors of the club, everything was locked up.  The 1000 bikers waited patiently for about ten minutes… at 15 minutes people started to get hot standing in the sun and were a bit agitated… at 20 minutes, the doors finally opened and we all filed in and headed straight for the bar.  Complimentary Coke, Diet Coke, and water were waiting for us, but there was a frightening absence of beer.  Not only was the booze not complimentary (as was implied), but there was no booze to be had at all… couldn’t even buy a beer if you wanted one.  There was some complimentary food: sausage gumbo, jerk chicken, and cornbread.  It was really good and everyone appreciated it.  I downed a couple Diet Cokes as we listened to the roadies do the sound check for the Blues Brothers.  Didn’t take us long to decide to split and find a bar with beer.  (update:  Note to self… patience is a virtue.  The Blues Brothers did take the stage and entertain the group.  I understand it was fantastic!)

We had met up with a few other Brothers from the Club and we all headed out to a nearby haunt where the beer flowed and the rest of the afternoon was enjoyed.  We were all glad to be included in the event and I would certainly do it again.

The  new House of Blues looked great, the food was good, and I bet those that were able to make the show this evening are having a fantastic time.  The bar should be open, the Blue Brothers themselves will be playing on stage, and everyone will be letting loose.  If you have not been to a House of Blues before, it is worth a visit, good music and a good time.

 

Love, Respect, and Ride Safe

ArtBiker

 

 

 

Trikes… part III

Posted in American Motorcycle, ArtBiker's Thoughts, Biker News, Custom Motorcycle, Motorcycle Industry News, Product Reviews, Uncategorized with tags on October 18, 2008 by ArtBiker

I have spoken about a few bike companies that specialize in trikes, but I have not mentioned them all… Here is a more complete list of OEMs in North America… again, there may be more and there are, of course, a lot of custom builders out there as well.  If you have someone to add, please do so, we would all love to know about them.

Love, Respect, and Ride Safe

ArtBiker

 

www.BoomTrikesUSA.com

www.BossHoss.com

www.CheetahTrikes.com

www.DFTTrikes.com

www.HanniganTrikes.com

www.Harley-Davidson.com

www.IronHorseTrikeworks.com

www.LVTrikes.com

www.LightningMotorcycles.com

www.MTCVoyager.com

www.mysterydesigns.com

www.RatRaceProductions.com

www.RenegadeTrikes.com

www.SantiagoChopper.com

www.sstrikes.com

www.TetraTrikes.com

www.TrikeEnvy.com

www.USTrikes.com

Cool trikes from the past… http://www.bikemenu.com/photostrikesorig.html

Trikes, Trikes (part II)

Posted in American Motorcycle, ArtBiker's Thoughts, Biker News, Custom Bike Show, Custom Motorcycle, Harley-Davidson, Motorcycle Industry News, Product Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , on October 17, 2008 by ArtBiker

 

 

 

Finally, the exciting world of custom bikes has not left the three-wheeled world alone.  We have all seen the Exile trike by Russell Mitchell and the crazy semi engine turned trike by Mr. Jesse James, but there are others out there that turn out really nice trikes for an affordable price.  Other custom builders like Covington’s cycles make the occasional trike as well as high end OEMs like Bourget Bike Works.  You can’t deny that the trike is becoming trick.

 

 

Besides the really nice kits we looked at in the last section of this blog, there are a few other builders/companies that turn out some sweet sleds.  Let’s start with Santiago Choppers.  This homegrown family business is built on five, count ‘em 5, generations of bike enthusiasts.  Alan Bernard is the man behind the scenes at this great shop in Gibsonton, Florida.  The trikes they turn out come in a softail and hardtail version.  They also make some kick ass Harley to trike conversions as well as some sweet traditional chops.  They have too many cool examples of their work to mention here, so I am going to send you directly to their site.  Enjoy! http://www.santiagochopper.com

 

 

Art Morris at Trike Envy in Sherwood, Oregon also creates some beautiful ground up customs.  These bikes remind me much of that big wheel I used to ride as a kid, long, low, and a mother of a back end.  These trikes come with HUGE rear tires.  We are talking funny car, dragster rubber.  Put yourself on one of these sleds and hang on! http://www.trikeenvy.com/

 

 

Alas, we cannot forget the trikes of yore.  Yes, those three wheeled creations that meld the world of bikes and cages, the hybrid of the VW Bug and the stretched out chopper.  Big in the 70’s, these bikes are sure to come back with a vengeance, and the company who will lead the way?  Well, it could very well be Phoenix, AZ locals, Rat Race Productions.  These guys have been turning out badass VW based trikes for over 30 years.  I know you have seen their work in magazines past, but check them out today.  They are still on the ball and at the forefront of their craft. http://www.ratraceproductions.com/

 

 

The last few posts have focused on the trike as art form and ride able machine.  As stated, I do not have any personal experience on trikes, but am hoping to get a demo machine to try out soon.  As soon as I do, I will be letting you know.  Until then, keep your feet on the pegs for a change and enjoy profilin’ on a three-wheeled machine.  Next up?  Sidecars!

 

Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,

ArtBiker