Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Definition of a Biker: By Oxford Dictionary Online

I prefer "motorcycle enthusiast"...

                      ...but I've been called worse than "biker."

Oxford Dictionary Softens ‘Biker’ Definition — Will Motorcyclists Like It?

By Jonathan Welsh (from Driver's Seat HOME PAGE)
When people say “biker,” it may not be a compliment.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word “biker” started out in the 1880s as a way to identify people who rode bicycles. But by the 1950s the word had traveled downhill to the point where it often referred to members of motorcycle gangs, and the “OED” defined it that way.

But the folks at Oxford just gave motorcyclists a break, sort of.

The Oxford Dictionary Online, sometimes called ODO, has tweaked its definition of biker to the following: a motorcyclist, especially one who is a member of a gang or group.

Did you catch it? The change was the addition of the words “or group.” It reflects a slight shift in the way people use the term today. It often identifies everyday motorcyclists who enjoy riding together and are not particularly menacing. This is a departure from associations with the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club or other motorcycle groups regarded as outlaws. Still, good-citizen motorcycle riders may be disappointed that “gang” remains in the definition.

“Our research suggests that ‘biker’ is now marginally more closely aligned with ‘motorcyclist’ (‘a person who rides a motorcycle’) than words such as ‘hell’s angel’ (‘a member of any of a number of gangs of male motorcycle enthusiasts, first formed in California in the 1950s and originally notorious for lawless behaviour’),” the Oxford University Press said in a statement.

The dictionary’s publisher also said it changed its usage example for the word to “a biker was involved in a collision with a car” from an example that mentioned “a long-haired biker in dirty denims.”

A spokeswoman for the publisher said long hair and dirty denims never were part of the dictionary’s definition. The definition changed in the online dictionary but not in the vast, historic Oxford English version.

So, what do you call yourself?

The 10 Phases of KLR650 Ownership

The Kawasaki KLR has been described as a bike that can do nothing extremely well and almost everything fairly well.  Huh??!!

While I don't agree with all of the below points, I would like to think that the author was using tongue in cheek humor to discuss KLR ownership. 

Or maybe it's a case of sour grapes. Or maybe I'm still in Phase 1 or 2? 

Some comments from other KLRistsas have been added.

The Phases of KLR Ownership:
1) Honeymoon. Joy. Adventure is on the horizon; what fun! Those 'nutty' brakes.  Wow, this is entertaining!

2) Exploration. Find sites like Adventure Riders and become one of 'them.'

3) Trouble in Paradise. Realize that sites like ADV are chock full of bikes like KTM and BMW, and frankly the KLR is the mutt in the purebred's midst. Try to retain pride. Yeah, the KTM and Beemer are nice, but neither has the aftermarket and spare parts support that the KLR has, an
d while they are filling up ...again. You just keep on riding.

4) Dismay. Spending time on sites like 'enlightens' you and all of a sudden you need everything from new rubber, to a new saddle, replacing everthing in-between. Everything fails no matter what, all the time.

KLRista comment: Dont fall for all the BS of those websites. You'll know when you ride it what it will need. The steel braided lines are a must, the seat is fine, the suspension is fine (it aint a stump jumper, folks) mirror dampeners, etc.
5) Anger. You're angry at Kawasaki for selling a bike that needs this much work. You're angry at the dealer for not just giving it to you, with five bucks for gas. You're angry at yourself for not realizing this bike is for suckers... YOU JUST BOUGHT AN EDSEL!

KLRista comment: The bike really doesnt need anything. If you think about it, it's been in production for more than 20 years. If the bike needed that much work and owners were tht upset, you'd hear more complaints. Dont mess with a good thing. The stock KLR is set up almost perfect, except for that front brake.
6) Separation. Your sportbike friends and HDs are having sport with you at red lights. You've been out-accellerated by a Hundai. You put it up for sale and stop riding it.

KLRista comment: Wrong, I ride my KLR with a 4 friends. One on a CBR 1000, a 929 and a ZX9. Because of the strong low end of a KLR, guess who's off the line first? Also when you put road tires on it, it will out corner anything, except maybe another KLR or KTM.

7) Loathing acceptance. You're never going to get all the money you put into the KLR back out of it. Might as well keep it and go shopping for a 'real' bike. You start to take it out again since, you've resigned yourself to the fact that you're tied to the KLR for life.

KLRista comment: Look at what used KLRs are going for on eBay. Even KLRs that are total basket cases are fetching a lot of money. But then again, you don't need to put a whole lot of money into (except the $50 braided lines).
8) New Dawn. One day, for no particular reason, you realize that you've been having fun riding it (at least alone) the whole time. Thinking about it a little more, you realize that you can go everywhere a GS1200 can get to (just maybe not as quickly), that you're more offroad capable than a GS650 Dakar -- and probably just as on-road capable -- and all for several thousand less dollars. It can do more highway miles than a DR without having to spend $250 on a Corbin saddle to avoid picking it out of your backside after half an hour on the highway, and you can have it serviced anywhere on the planet unlike a KTM (which was also a lot more). Whoa, hold on, this bike is pretty cool!

KLRista comment: Exactly, my friend. That's the reason I bought it. If I'm going to ride cross country, I know I can get parts very easily in the middle of nowhere a lot faster than for the Tiger 955, the BMW or the KTM. Also, if you can find anyone that has the tools and the knowledge of a lawnmower on up, you got a mechanic!

9) Farkle time! You've just realized that you can accessorize the KLR with just about every possible modification you've ever imagined (except extra horsepower). Spend away, young rider! Hold on, is a set of decent tires less than I used to pay for just a rear? Throw on a Big Gun exhaust and rejet it. Add a 16t sprocket with a 44T chain for road use and the sportbikers will be wondering what that ugly thing was that just passed 'em in the corner. Yeah it aint a rocket, but if it can do 100 mph...which it can...thats good for me. (But dont do 100 mph with the knobbies.)

10) Happily deluded. The KLR rocks! Yeah, it still sux, but it rocks!

KLRista comment: After having the Bandit 600 for years, the TBird Sport, the pig iron Seca 900 and various other buzzy, heavy "you shouldnt do that with that bike" bikes, I wasnt expecting chocolates and roses with the KLR. But I knew when it was all said and done.......there is no competitor on the market to the KLR. What is really nice, the valve adjustment section of the shop manual takes up a page and half.

And there ya have it, folks.  Opinions on the ugly tractor that is the KLR650.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

When farkling goes wrong: How costs add up...

Here's a post on how quickly farkles can add up.

Here's how it starts:

  • Why, that shiny. sparkly thing is only $39--gotta have that.
  • Ooh, a set of whatchamabobs for only $86 -- I gotsta me some of those.
  • A 24th anniversary KLR/KLX Arizona meet-up patch for only $11.95 plus shipping. How can I pass that up?

(Fast forward a week.)

The wife approaches me--while I'm in the garage, farkling, no less--with checkbook in hand and "that" look in her eye. Cardboard boxes surround me as several packages, still unopened, bear witness against me.

She: I couldn't help but notice that $463 was sent to "Tim, Tom and Tina" last week.

Me: Uh, that prolly wasn't me. I only bought a couple of things that "we" need.

She: C'mon, you;re on a first-name basis with the FedEx guy.  
You just hit the platinum level with the UPS miles program. You've spent more on  accessories than you did for the actual motorcycle.  You have a sickness; I'm getting you some help.

Me: No. I can quit. I'm almost done. Give me another chance!

She: No, we need an intervention.

Me: Will Eagle Mike be there? That would be cool!

She: @&%@@#$#!@$@#!!! (Or words to that effect.)

And that's how it goes.

Here's Eagle Mike's site for you KLR folks: Eagle Mike

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How to fix anything, anywhere, any time

Ol' grand dad always said that WD-40, duct tape and a big hammer will fix anything.

Please use this handy  flowchart to fix what ails ya.

And for future reference, here's what you need on any long distance motorbike ride:


That got me to thinking...what other tools are indispensable on the road, far from home, in the dark?

I'd be interested in hearing what you always carry with you.

Here are some ideas:

1.  Vise grips are adjustable pliers that you can lock in place, and they come in handy when you need an extra hand but only have your own two mitts to work with.  
2.  Flashlight 
3.  Credit card! 
4.  Smith & Wesson.  Uh, I'll have to look at that one... 
5.  Cable ties, baling wire, string/rope.

And if that doesn't do the trick, these items may help...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Doing the Doo (KLR650 Balancer Idle Lever & Spring upgrade)

Doing the Doo. (Kawasaki KLR 650 Balancer Idle Lever & Spring upgrade)

Just a quick report for those KLR riders who may be as mechanically disinclined as I am. (That’s right: Put me in round room with 5 metal washers; I’ll lose two and break the rest.)

I have about 1,100 miles on my 2011 Kawasaki KLR 650 and wanted to upgrade the balancer idle lever & spring (AKA: the Eagle Mike doohickey upgrade) before there was a problem. As you might’ve read, these issues have plagued KLRs for years yet Kawasaki has yet to stand up and implement a fix. Leave that up to a local boy, San Diego’s Eagle Mike (Eagle Mfg.) who fabricates and sells KLR stuff that Kawasaki should be using in their stock bikes. But I digress…

Anyhow, even though there is plenty of information about the installation process, to include the special tools that are required, I decided to have someone else do the work. I contacted Eagle Mike directly who recommended his friend and fellow gearhead Mike Sorchy who runs a high performance bike outfit (Epic Power) in the San Diego area. This meant I didn’t have to purchase or borrow the special tools required for the process (even though the local SDAR guys offered to give them to me at no cost).

Mike had not previously done the doohickey upgrade ( on a KLR so, in consultation with Eagle Mike, he estimated he could complete the work in under three hours. And that included the Thermo-bob kit ( and an oil/filter change. How could I pass up that deal?

I dropped my bike off with Mike @ Epic Power on Monday and picked it up on Thursday. I was charged under 3 hours of labor for the entire job. If you only want the doohickey work done, it will be less.

NOTE: It appears that Mike Sorchy will be doing a lot more of these jobs as the greater San Diego area is chock full of numbskulls like me.

I've added a few photos from a recent eagle Mike tech day in El Cajon, CA. One of the local guys is seen doing the Doo (with Chuck B and Eagle Mike overseeing the work.)

I acquired new Eagle Mike doohickey, torsion spring and Thermo-Bob kits from a local rider who sold his KLR before he could install them. You may buy the kits on-line or from Eagle Mike’s shop.

Anyhow, contact me if I can provide any info on the process, or contact either Mike directly. If you're in the SD area and want this work done, here’s the contact info for Mike Sorchy:

Mike Sorchy/Epic Power
1145 Greenfield Dr. Suite H
El Cajon, CA 92021
O: (619) 356-3742

Useful links:

Videos and step-by-step instructions can easily be located all over the I-net.

Take care, KLRistas!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Lane-splitting in California (update and CHP guide)

About this time last year (February 2012), I posted a thread about lane splitting. Link Lane Splitting is not illegal in California, though many frown on the practice. Anyhow, the CHP has issued a lane-splitting guide for California riders and plans to start a public awareness campaign to educate riders and drivers about the long-accepted practice. The guide can be viewed at: Looks like good info. Ride safe.