Friday, December 28, 2012

Sometimes You Have To Take A Step Backwards To Move Forward

Or it could just be a mid-life crisis. What ever you want to call it I have been collecting an assortment of Canon photography equipment from the late seventies to early eighties. I have been utilizing Canon equipment since that period in time so it makes sense, at least to me, to go back to familiar territory. My photography skills are not where I would like them to be, but I get lucky every now and then and wind up making a decent shot. Even though I have a modern Canon DSLR and five lenses ranging from a Canon F1.8 50mm to a 70-300mm F/4-5.6 IS USM lenses. I still like to shoot in manual mode, I do shoot in auto mode here and there but I always feels like I’m cheating. Today’s cameras make us some what lazy, with instant viewing of our shots makes adjusting our cameras a whole lot simpler. That leads us back to my recent procurement of vintage SLR equipment. To this day, some of the vintage lenses and camera bodies still command some pretty stiff prices. The fastest glass and wide angles will cost you several hundred dollars apiece. Unless you stumble across them at a estate, yard sale, or on Craigslist where the people selling them, have no idea how valuable they are. I have made a few scores this way, but they are few and far between.
What I have pictured here is a variety of Canon equipment that I picked up over the past couple of months. I am always buying and selling vintage SLR’s and Rangefinders and I keep certain pieces that I pull from the collections that I buy. I always buy collections because you can break them up and usually more than double your money selling the pieces individually. But sometime a kit pops up at the right price and I will go for these to. If I can’t make one dollar into two or more, I will most likely pass on the purchase. These items represent a total of one hundred dollars investment on my part. The collection includes:
Canon FD 50mm F/1.4 
Canon FD 50mm F/1.8
Canon FD 28mm F/2.8 Wide Angle
Canon FD 135mm F/3.5
Canon FD 35-105mm F/3.5
Canon FD 70-210mm F/4
Canon FD 100-300mm F/5.6
Gemini 2x Doubler
Speedlite 188A
Speedlite 199A
Canon power winder A2
Canon A-1
Canon AE-1 Black
Canon AE-1 Silver All manner of Hoya and Tiffen filters.
If I sold these pieces individually, I would get north of seven hundred dollars for them. But pulling them from collections I bought, I got them for a fraction of there open market value.
I also use the lenses on my DLSR using aPro Optic Canon FD Lens to EOS Body Adapter glass so it will focus to infinity. There is also a 1.3x magnification factor and requires a one stop increase in exposure. And you still have to focus the FD lenses manually. While going through film cost a bit more and you have to wait to see your results, I find shooting with this equipment more rewarding and challenging. It also makes you think about your shots and settings. So come along with me to those simpler times and rediscover the fun you can have using vintage camera equipment no matter the brand preference, there are deals out there on them.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dropped By a Previous Owner

I now reside in that group ( Dropped by a previous owner) I dropped my Viffer while repositioning it in my garage. I had removed the grab handles on the rear part of the bike and installed the seat cowl. I did this to give the bike a cleaner look for the Lunasee video. So as I was moving the bike around, I had my right hand on the seat and was steering with my left. I slipped, and before I knew it, my bike went crashing to the floor with a gut wrenching cracking sound. With no grab handle, it was either this or tear off the rear section as she fell. This reminded me of why I have rode naked bikes for most of my life. One would not think that dropping your bike would cause so much damage.
Luckily for me, the VFR fairing comes in several sections. And the damage was confined to the section between the main side faring and the section where the headlights reside. It is a small section as far as the fairing goes, but is in a very prominent part. I have three options as I see it.

1. Buy a new replacement part from Honda.
2. Search eBay until a suitable replacement pops up.
3. Repair it myself.

I will do two of the three things listed. I plan on repairing the damaged section and I am going to get a replacement section as well. Whether it is new or used depends largely of what pops up on eBay. I figure the new part will be there if I need it, in the mean time I can search eBay on a regular basis and hope one pops up. There is a product out there called PlastiFix, it looks as it work pretty good judging by their YouTube tutorial.

The thing that worries me the most though is, matching that sixteen year old paint. One thing on my side is, the bike has been stored most of it's life indoors. Only taken out for riding. The guy I bought it from kept it in his basement in the winter and under a cover in his garage during the summer. I park in my garage and in a garage at work as well. Although it has been kept indoors most of the time, it's spent it's fair share in the sunlight. Those of you who paint or have had an older bike or car's crash damage repaired knows the old paint is a few shades lighter than the paint in the repaired spot. For naked bikes this not too much of a problem, there is a bit of real estate between the painted parts so no one notices if they aren't an exact match.
There is hope, I could luck out and find a replacement panel on eBay that is about the same condition as the one it's replacing was in before some Jackwagon dropped it. I'm pretty sure the ones from the factory are not painted, so painting a new one is a crap shoot as well. Then there is always the option of painting the whole bike black. I'm kinda partial to black cars and bikes and every bike I own, stands a chance of getting painted black. I'm still riding as the weather 'round these parts has been on the mild side. But I'm sure it won't be long before the snow flies and the roads are treated with salt and calcium chloride. That is usually the point the bike gets parked, don't want any of that nasty corrosive shit on my bike. I'm hoping that I have at least two to four weeks of riding left. When the snow flies I will turn my attention to fixing the panel. The paint job will have to wait for spring though, no place that isn't warmed without an ignition source to paint in. Am I bummed out that I broke my fairing, not really, while I'm not crazy about it, I can't turn back the hands of time to prevent it. No use getting all worked up about something that is now history, all I can do is deal with it and fix it. I did learn something from this though, the frame sliders have already been purchased.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lunasee ASL-1000 The Video

After living with the ASL-1000 for a while I have to say that it works as advertised. My Brother, Nephew and I put together this video to illustrate how well the system helps your bike stand out when the sun goes down. Thanks guys for all your help.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Better Hurry She Won't Last Long

I know how hard it is to pass up the temptation when you find such a nice bike at such an inviting price.There seems to be a never ending stream of gems such as this on the Detroit Metro Craigslist.

$1400 OBO
Shelly Frame, 900z motor, Disc Brakes
I have service manual for motor.

Real old school chopper!!
Barn Fresh!!

Fun Project!!!!!

Serious Inquires only!!

• Location: Waterford •it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests PostingID: 3299822931

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I'm A Sucker For A Well Done H2 or RD

I have seen this bike at Vintage Motorcycle Days for Three years now. I guess I should say drooled. She is one hell of a beauty. I have owned two H2's, one bone stock and the other I hot rodded. Not nearly to the level of this one here, but for the early eighties she was pretty hot.The photo above is from the 2010 Vmd.

She is about the best laid out H2 I've had the pleasure of ogling. And she get around too, Joe C snapped a shot of her at this years Moto GP at Indy. I love how he has the chambers on the right side. I find nothing wrong with the two one setup, but in this configuration it gives the bike that extra visual pop.
I believe this particular H2 to be the product of Johnny's Vintage Motorcycle Company of Wadsworth Ohio. If you need parts for your vintage Kawasaki project, Johnny's is the place to start your search from what I hear. You can have a bike restored by them. Purchase a fine example from their showroom floor or choose from the massive stock of Kawasaki parts they have on hand.
Besides this jaw dropping H2, there was a very tasty RD250 in cafe' guise the got the hair on the back of my neck standing up as well.While I'm not usually a big fan of bikes festooned with chrome, it looks good on this bike.
This little 250 is a sparkling example of what one can do with these bikes. I love the color and attention to detail of this bike. I love all things RD and this bike has me scanning craigslist for a barn find. But I have to get my XS500E back on the road before I can inhale the sweet smell of Castrol R in my garage again. I have pretty much finished all the big stuff and am concentrating on the bits and pieces now. I'm am going to try ind get the paint on her before it gets too cold. I'm mot the far away. I digress, I will leave Y'all with a couple more shots of this two stroke diamond.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Tron Effect

Here are a couple shots of the ASL-1000 in action. The effect is immediate, I started with system off, rolled the bike about a half wheel turn, then the whole Tron Effect. You can easily see from these shots how well the ASL-1000 lights up your bike.

Friday, October 5, 2012

When The Sun Puts Out The Light I Join The Creatures Of the Night

Let me start by saying, a typical installation of an Lunasee ASL-1000 kit on 99% of motorcycles would take somewhere between 2-4 hours. The kit has everything one needs to fit it to your bike. Actually, more than you need. They include plenty of mounting hardware for a straightforward and simple aplication. My VFR750F has a single sided swing arm and required a bit of fabrication on my part to fashion the LED so it would light up the tape on the right rear side of the bike. This will also apply to Triumph’s sporting bikes, certain Ducatis and BMWs. So all you single sided swing arm owners out there, if you want to have this system on your bike, be prepared to whip up a mount for the side of your bike that is lacking a swing arm. Lunasee provides extra brackets to accomodate almost any type of installation. This is not a shortcoming of the Lunasee package as I see it, it will mount up to the vast majority of bikes with a minimum of fuss.

The instructions say if you can, enlist the help of an extra set of hands. I suggest you follow this bit of advice as it will make the installation process a whole lot easier. Can you mount the ASL-1000 on you bike using just hands that God gave you, certainly, just budget a bit more time for fitment. With that being said, I called on J.J. long time friend and one who shares my enthusiasm for all things motorcycle. We figured a Saturday afternoon would be the perfect time to get together, have a few laughs, drink a beer or two and scratch our heads and do a bit of chin rubbing as well. The front forks posed no problems, just removal of the front fender and couple quick measurements later we decided the medium brackets included in the kit were perfect for the job at hand. It was like they were designed with the 1996 Honda VFR forks in mind. With in an half hour, the front end was done. Wow, this is gonna be a breeze.
The left side, the one that holds the rear wheel to the bike was pretty easy as well. There is a suitable mounting point on the bottom of the swing arm. All we had to do was make a slight modification to the mounting bracket. The Lunasee people have made ease of reworking their brackets a very simple affair. Included in the kit are several paper templates that you cut out to work out any angles you may have to apply to your mounting brackets. And the brackets themselves are very malleable. You can pretty much form them to any angle you need. We used a vise and a hammer to make our bends, but we could have just as easily used the edge of a table and hammer, a couple pairs of vise grips and so on, you get the picture P.S. we used thread locker when mounting the LED units to the mounting brackets, I used red, but blue will do, I have a tendency to over do things every now and then.
Now we come to the right rear, this is where the chin rubbing and head scratching ensues. Everything over here does not move in synch with the rear wheel. You see, the wheel moves independently of virtually every piece on the right side. This is a problem because you need to have the LED that sets the tape you have applied to your wheel a glowin’ to be about, oh, a quarter inch from said tape. Now I’m not the type who wants only three out of four sides of my wheels to glow, so some figuring was in order.
As we twisted the caps from a couple more bottles of Yuenglings Traditional Lagers (Jim had recently returned from a trip to New York State and brought back some of Pennsylvania’s finest beer with him) we pondered our current quandary. That beer is VERY tasty, so it took all our combined will power not to pull out a couple of chairs and continue to sample the Keystone State’s flavorful product till we had lampshades on our heads. So instead of being up to our knees in empty beer bottles, we put our wants aside and commenced to formulate a plan to bring about a mounting platform for the right rear wheel. J.J. started to root through all his metal scraps for items we may be able to use to our advantage. Lesson here kids, keep a box of bits and pieces from previous projects no matter how much your wife wants you to throw them out. To her, that box is just a heap of ugly unusable junk, but we know better. To us, that box contains rare treasures that we will need at some point in the future to complete a project. What do you know, we find ourselves at one of those points at this very moment.

J.J. comes out with a bent up two foot piece of metal tubing and a nice piece of thin plate that will suit our needs nicely. We cut the tubing to lenght and fashioned a mounting bracket from the plate. After a couple more Yuenglings we decided the shock mount would provide our best option for a stable mounting platform. Lunasee provides a couple different brackets you can utilize in a situation like this, but in the end we thought making our own bracket would be the best route to take.

We took the two rear of the three shock bracket bolts off, made our measurements, and cracked out the metal saw, die grinder, drill and welder and initiated the business of building a mounting bracket. It was a pretty simple design and came together quickly. Although I don’t believe it will be on display at the Guggenheim, it’s not the most elegant bracket I’ve seen. Aesthetics aside, it turned out to be very sturdy, J.J. had did a fine job putting it together. After a couple coats of black paint, we mounted it and it pretty much blends in with the exhaust and other brackets.
We thought running the wires of the system through some tubing to route it past a couple of the areas that may pose a risk to the integrity of the coating would be a good idea. You can use almost any tubing you may have lying around. We used a combination of surgical tubing and some brake hose to run my wires through. Wiring your LED units to the control unit could not be simpler. We asked a five year old to do it and with a little coaching it took him about two minutes. It really is that simple to wire up. The only other item left to cross off the list is where to mount the on off switch. I was thinking about mounting it on the dash near the gauges, but decided on a spot near the tail light kinda out of sight as to keep people from doing the I wonder what this is for and pressing it and killing my battery while I’m away from my bike. Not that I’m paranoid or anything.
I have had the ASL-1000 on my bike for almost two weeks now. I wanted to see how durable it was before I wrote about it. So far it has functioned as advertised. I have subjected it to several road surfaces and weather conditions without a hiccup. I took it on a fifty mile ride on I-75 at extra legal speeds and the only problem that arose was all the low flying UFO reports made to local law enforcement agencies.
This is the first of a couple post I will be making on this product. I hope to make a video as well. So far I have to say I’m impressed with the quality and functionality of this system. I am always on the look out for products that make you more visible in this era of distracted drivers. More to come.

Update: I received a letter today 10/08/2012 from William Monk CEO of Lunasee about the fitment of the ASL-1000 to bikes with single sided swing arms. While I look forward to a challenge such as was afforded by the fitment of my ASL-1000 to the right side of my bike, not everyone is going to see it this way. Mr. Monk and the good people at Lunasee are well aware of this, and are working on and welcome any solutions those of us with single sided swing arms may have.

Here is Mr. Monk’s response to those of us with the challenge of mounting the ASL-1000 on our bikes with single sided swing arms.

1. We recognize that single sided swing arm situations are a challenge and that the included mounting hardware is likely not suitable for the side of wheels with no swing arm.

2. We already have available a custom bracket suitable for most BMW GS 1200 models – and are working on solutions for other BMW models.

3.When customers develop their own mounting solutions, we encourage them to share those solutions --- both with Lunasee and with other riders with the same situation (on forums for their particular bike etc.).

4.It is our goal to offer more single sided swing arm mounting solutions in the future, and to share solutions that others have developed and successfully utilized --- so that riders of bikes with single sided swing arms can enjoy the benefits of the ASL 1000.

William Monk

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Best Vintage Off-Road Bikes from the 80s

Ah, the 80s were good to motocross and off-road bikers. Monoschock rear suspensions and two-stroke engines that predated environmental crackdowns, and not to mention the 500cc class that pushed riders to their limits. Sit back and enjoy the nostalgia. 1980 Yamaha YZ 465 A beast of a machine, this model from Yamaha only lived for two years, but it was built with a big-bore engine and monoshocks when most racers were still riding with twin rear shocks. Replaced by the YZ490 4-speed (notoriously hard to keep running), it seems that Yamaha went backward after the 465.
1981 Maico 490 “The Mega 2” These bikes are legendary in the motocross world for outstanding handling and power. To some, the Maico was the king of the open class, and some call it the best motocross bike ever built. It’s hard to find a modern bike better than the Maico 490. Legend has it that Japanese companies bought the bikes just to dismantle them in attempts to recreate the machine.
1982 Suzuki RM250 Suzuki introduced its liquid-cooled RM in 1981 as well as the “Full Floater” monoshock system. However it was in 1982 that the Suzuki RM reached its peak with a liquid-cooled RM250 engine and the new monoshock rear suspension system with adjustable damping refillable oil and gas shock absorbers – and even with the new gear, the bike was 212 pounds, keeping it in the ultra-lightweight class of motocross bikes. There’s a reason it’s in Dirt Bike Magazine’s Hall of Fame.
1983 Honda XL250R I know you’ve probably been expecting to see the Honda CR on this list, (don’t worry, it’s coming) but if there’s a dual purpose bike from the ‘80s that deserves to be on this list, it’s the ’83 XL250. Built to compete in Enduro races, the XL250 is also street legal. The versatility of on- and off-road riding does come with some handling compromises – not enough power for throttle-steering – but it can navigate tight trails and low-traction surfaces just fine.
1984 KX 125To those who knew it best, the KX125 was “unreal” in 1984. The two-stroke engine gave these 125cc bikes a real boost in races, and many say it ran like a smaller 250. It may have been an unfair advantage, but it was something that most racers knew about and used to an advantage (ahem, Jeff Ward). Regardless, the KX 125 is the beloved lightweight bike of the bunch.
1985 Honda XR350 To be honest, 1985 was such an explosive year for off-road bikes, I decided to go with a bike that is just plain well-loved (much like the KX125). Vintage bike lovers praise the Honda XR350 for its durability and power; however, finding parts can be a bit of a challenge. It’s been called the best 350 of its day, and with a bit of love it can still be a lot of fun.
1986 ATK 560 One of the more obscure and exotic brands, ATK was an American motorcycle company founded by Austrian-American Horst Leitner. The early bikes, which used four-stroke Austrian Rotax engines, are still renowned for their power and durability, and were well-loved by dirt-trackers. The ATK 560 made a showing in many of the Top 10 spots in the Barstow to Vegas races of the 80s.
1987 Honda CR500 While some people might argue that ’85 was the best year for the CR500, the ’87 is much easier to handle. An open-class two stroke bike at 500 has a lot of power, and there are more people who want to ride one of these bikes than can actually handle it. The bike also boasts throttle control, and while risk-seekers can navigate tight wood trails, the onslaught of power can be too much for the rookie or the faint of heart.
1988 Honda XR600R The XR600R is an enduro model from Honda that forged the legend of the “big thumper” with a 600cc 4-stroke engine in 1985. The XR600R has the flexibility and balance needed to navigate the narrow tracks of the enduro races, but performs best in open spaces, making it a favorite in American desert races. These bikes are used in off-road races off all types across the world. The 1988 version features a single carb and an 18” rear wheel.
1989 KX 500 The KX 500 won National Championships in ’89 and ’90 with rider Jeff Ward. It also had first place showings in the 90s as well. The 500cc 2-stroke engine was considered to be the edge of sanity for riders – anything more powerful was just gratuitous. Kawasaki was the first company to venture into the 500cc range in the 80s (Maico predated them in the 70s), and the 1988 overhaul cemented the KX 500 as the victor in the race between Honda and Kawasaki for the leader in horsepower.
***** Ok – what did I miss, guys? Any Husky/Cagiva fans out there who want to chime in? Guest poster Stacy Holmes is a bike enthusiast and writer. You can read more of Stacy’s work at If you feel like yellin’ at him, you can leave a comment below.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Complete and Utter Lunasee

I installed the Lunasee kit on my bike, review to come soon. I can't believe how good this system works.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Be Seen

With the rate of distracted driving accidents on the rise, a full quarter of all accidents are now attributed to distracting driving. Being visible to other motorist is more important these days than anytime in history. Lunasee has come up with an innovative product,The ASL-1000 to make motorcyclist and bicyclist more visible, after dark. They use a light emitting tape that you apply to your rims that produces a neon like glow that makes your bike stand out like a nudist at Presidential fund raiser. Here is what makes it go “As the wheels rotate, the LERtape is constantly excited by four discrete high intensity LEDpods mounted on the frame or forks of your motorcycle and targeted at the LERtape. The glowing LERtape creates the visible and striking rings of light without any wires or lights actually on or in your wheels.” I can’t guarantee that this product will keep you from having your molecular properties from being melded with those of a 2001 Ford Focus whose operator is steering with their knee while eating a poptart, texting their friends to see what is going on tonight while applying make up. But I say every little bit counts. If this system can distract our distracted drivers from what they are being distracted by for long enough to keep us from joining them in their front seat via being tossed there from being ran down by said distracted driver is worth the price of admission to me. Wow, that was on long ass sentence. Lunasee can tell you a lot more about how their system works than I can unless I completely plagiarize them. So I suggest you point your pointer to the highlighted links and do some research of their products and pony up some cash, so you can look like a low flying UFO and maybe get noticed by someone who is about to puree you internal organs.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Three Fat Guys, a Body Builder and a German Walk Into a Racetrack

Well walking into is kind of a stretch. It was more like, drove a massive Silverado dually towing a dual axel enclosed trailer that housed a golf cart. I want to ride down every year but am voted down by the swap meet majority in our group. I go mostly for the motorcycles and a bit of racing, they go to buy metric tons of motorcycle parts, hence the moving van sized transport. Now including Big Toe's jacked up golf cart, easier to tote all that swap meet booty back to the waiting cargo hauler and make fifty passes through the swap meet. It also carted our asses to places we had not been to around the track in the past.
Curly and Big Toe

The weather was in stark contrast to the lake of fire that was last years Vintage Motorcycle Days. I thought we would be in for a repeat of last years blazing inferno, especially with all the drought and triple digit temps most of the country has been suffering this year. Much to all of our delight, the weather was about picture perfect, mid eighties, low dew point and partly cloudy. But this post isn’t about the weather.
The 2012 Vintage Motorcycle Days event was kind of a blur this year. The golf cart mentioned earlier made getting around a breeze. It also made missing a thing or two like a ship passing in the night. I think I missed as many bikes as I saw. But one bike I didn’t pass by turned out to be a wicked CB750 produced buy the talented boys over at Café Fabrications. Much like the chopper boom a decade ago, café bikes have made a huge resurgence. I really don’t need to tell you that, if you’re into bikes this is something that is readily apparent to you. Out of all the builders I have seen over the last few years, Café Fabrications hit one out of the park with their well thought out and ultra trick CB750. The hair stood up on my arms the moment I saw this bike. It looks great from every angle. And I have seen countless custom CB café bikes over the years and none come close to this one in my opinion.
They took a beater ‘78 CB and polished it into a jewel. They have a beginning to end pictorial of the transformation on the Bespoke section of their website. They are whipping up trick parts that you, yes you, can buy and bolt onto your project. Of course the whole reason they created this stunning CB is to have a functioning tool to showcase their top shelf products. Swing arms, velocity stacks, exhaust flanges and engine covers are just a few of the tasty tidbits they are offering up for your consideration.
The highlight of this years event for me was getting to meet Surly after a bunch of years of reading his stuff and collaborating on a multi author blog for around a year. We have developed a blogging kinship over the years and it was great to meet him face to face. Although we didn’t spend a whole lot of time talking, about a half hour or so, he turned out to be every bit of the nice guy I knew him to be despite his moniker. Along with his Uncle John, we were supposed to go for a ride up the Western coast of Michigan last August. Unfortunately for me, I had to pass at the last minute because of a large project at work. This is a trip I am always going to regret missing because John is no longer with us.  The good part of last years trip is, Surly and John still went and Surly got to make a great memory with his Uncle that he will carry with him the rest of his life. Like John used to say, life is too short, don’t let it pass you by. I have a sneaking suspicion that Surly and I will meet again and go for more than a few rides
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