Easy Rider

Well, this video is actually terrifying. A couple motorcyclists are riding along a country road when they come across a pickup truck. Cue video:

Reminds me of that scene from Easy Rider:

Push Starting my Motorcycle in the Middle of Beijing Rush Hour

I thought I’d share my recent problems in my  adventure into the world of Chinese motorcycling. After having just bought a second hand but only one year old Chinese brand motorcycle, I’m already having problems. The first day riding it home was great. I was able to take it on of the major Beijing roads, the 4th ring and navigated my way through traffic no problem. Despite, the sub-freezing temperatures, it was great to be back on two wheels. Then after one day of leaving it parked outside my apartment, I press the ignition only to find that I get no response from the engine whatsoever. At first I think it might be the cold, but the sound the engine would usually make in that situation is a little different. Whereas in the cold the engine is trying to catch with a sort of revving type sound, I was hearing a barely audible click, which would indicate a dead battery. This was bad as I needed to commute to work and was almost late as it was. I noticed a slight incline behind me so I pushed the bike up and started to run it down. Luckily this push start worked and I was able to make it to work on time.

Of course this wasn’t the end of my troubles. A couple of times at stop lights, the engine cut out. I figured, with the engine warmed up there shouldn’t be any more problems. I was wrong and so on the side of a very busy Beijing street with bikes, cars, and pedestrians everywhere, I had to again push start my bike (what it must have looked like to the local Chinese to see a foreigner, which is a strange enough sight as it is, go through this ritual I can only imagine). Luckily I started to get good at push starting as I had to repeat this several times.

Other things of note for diagnosis are how sometimes power wasn’t getting to the horn and that after the bike’s been sitting outside of my office building all day and I turn the power back on, the headlight is barely lit. This all leads me to believe it’s a battery issue.

What’s going to be interesting is to get this all sorted out with the language barrier. I have already been in contact via text with the seller, all in Chinese. His first response was to say it was cold. I explained how it wasn’t because it happened even after running for 20 minutes. His next response was to say that he just changed the battery. This just came off as a typical Chinese response that I’m not too likely to believe. And finally he told me that I just didn’t know how to ride it properly. I’m sorry but that’s just the wrong thing to say.

I’m going to continue to text him now that, after several days, the problem is more than confirmed. Most likely this Saturday (China time of course), I’ll be driving it (after the ritualistic method of push starting I’ve been using the past 3 days) back up to the north end of the city to have him see the problem for himself.

The sad thing of it all is that I’ve been really enjoying the bike otherwise. It rides well, it does what I need it to do (when it’s running), and I like the look of it. Let’s just hope I’m able to get it working smoothly and can be back on the road problem free!

9/11 Memorial Ride

On September 9th, William “Cryovac” Perley will be appearing on Good Morning America as a representative of the NYC HOG chapter to talk about the now annual midnight ride and wreath laying in honor of the tragedy on 9/11/2001 at the World Trade Center in New York City:

“Well it’s not an official HOG event, but the ride assembles at the dealership and leaves around 11pm Sept 10th. Besides our own crew, we expect a lot of bikes this year. We will probably tie up traffic and ruffle the feathers of the cages in mid-town and below, but that’s what it is. We gather at Ground Zero and hang a wreath on the memorial there. It’s been a yearly thing since 2002. All I know about the Good Morning America thing is that they asked the chapter if we would show up at their studio on 57th St. at 6:45 9/9 to talk about the ride to Ground Zero. They want a story and visuals. Bikers are always able to provide that. We’re a little wary because the “parade” is not officially sanctioned by the city. Past years, however, the police have been tolerant of us. Who knows this year”

Day Five: New Orleans

September 1st
Miles: 0

Took the day off today to explore new Orleans a little bit. Unfortunately I was never able to get together with my friend who lives in Baton Rouge, only an hour out of New Orleans. The hostel I managed to find though was really great, the AAE Bourbon House Mansion. It was quite big, the staff were very friendly and helpful (helped me store the bike in a little side alley as well as let me hang out during the day when I still wasn’t sure if I was going to spend another night), great location near a walmart and within walking distance to the French quarter, they also have two great common areas one with a computer and tv with free wifi and the other was an outdoor patio complete with a pool table, and best of all, free pancake breakfast in the morning!

As tends to happen at hostels, there were lots of 20 somethings staying there from all over the world. I had walked downtown and did some site seeing during the day and since I knew I wanted an early start the next day, was t really sure if I would go out. I ended up meeting some interesting people including a 28 year old guy who had just finished his final tour in Iraq with the army and was on his way back home to Texas as well as a 21 year old who had gotten kicked out of his home in Cleveland for growing pot plants and was now just traveling around the country. So anyway, after a couple of beers with my dinner, ended up going out on the town with the Texan and Russian girl also staying at the hostel. We walked to the French Quarter stopping in and having a drink at a bunch of bars along the way, which turned out to be a great way to see the nightlife even if it was on a Wednesday. Didn’t actually get to bed until about 5am as we got stranded on the other side of town where there were no cabs after ending up at a great local, hole in the wall type bar.

Needless to say, it didn’t not seem like I was going to be getting that early start I wanted, but still definitely worth it for a fun night.

Filming on the Tail

A short story that I forgot to mention from the tail. The camera attachment that I have for my bike tends to get some attention seeing as how it’s pretty hard to miss. So at the end, a few other bikers came over to comment, just saying how it would be a pretty cool, nausea inducing movie to watch. Then one of the guys mentioned how a few years back he filmed himself doing the tail… while holding the camera in his hand! He said he “only” shifted without the clutch twice. As if the 318 turns in 11 miles wasn’t dangerous enough!

How to improve on the Megola

Yesterday I wrote a post on the Megola Sport, a German motorcycle made between 1921 and 1925. In 1935, five German engineers attempted to design a more streamlined and modified version of the Megola. After three years, the Killinger and Freund was the result.

The motorcycle featured a three cylinder two-stroke engine built right into the front wheel. Aerodynamics was a priority for the team – they wanted all moving parts covered, the bike to have dirt and mud protection, and an elegant style to boot. Total weight came in at 297 lbs.

The design was intended for civilian production but the start of World War 2 canceled those plans. One motorcycle was found by the U.S. Army in the Spring of 1945 at a German base but it is unknown if this was the original prototype or another Killinger and Freund motorcycle.

The engine was built right in to the front wheel.

Apparently only one bike was made. They say it is still out there somewhere…

The stunning 1922 Megola Sport

The stunning 1922 Megola Sport – a five cylinder, 640cc radial engine with no gears and no clutch. Oh yeah, and the engine was mounted within the front wheel.

To start the engine, you put the bike on its stand (which lifted the front wheel off the ground) and spun the front tire. The engine apparently had tremendous torque and although the power output was quite low it was applied directly to the wheel – stock models had a top speed of 85 kmh (52 mph). Sportier models were apparently powerful enough for top speeds of 140 kmh (88 mph). The crank was hallow and doubled as an intake manifold. This arrangement made for a very low centre of gravity and provided excellent handling capabilities.

Unusual in design but was competitive enough in racing to win the 1924 German Championship.

Here is a video of a 1924 Megola being started:

More on the Megola here.