Tag Archive for Motorcycles

Bike Envy

I dig my bike. Lenore looks good, and she’s been good to me. On the other hand, she’s a bit small and has a tough time carrying both me and a passenger.

Not to mention those Harleys are frickin’ sweet. A Honda’s nice, but nothing turns heads like a Harley’s classic looks. Softails, Sportsters… it’s not hard to see why Honda copied their styling. There’s nothing wrong with Honda-Davidson rides like my Shadow: they’re cheaper, they’re reliable, and many tell me they’re a lot easier to work on. At some point, though, you realize you have to have that American original.

Dead Rider

Arr, matey! Put the hammer down!

There’s not a damn thing I can do about it right now, and I doubt there’s an upgrade in the cards for next year, either, but I find myself drooling over just about every cruiser I stumble across. My karate instructor gives me a hard time for gawking out the dojo windows whenever I hear a bike rumble by, and the Wife swears I must have spotted a girl in a bikini the way my head snaps when we’re out and about. Which one would I choose? Good question.

All I know is I’m not a big Electra Glide guy. Those big touring bikes are workhorses, but by the time you put a full-size passenger seat and the big bag — effectively a trunk — on the back, they just lose their charm. A Road King Classic, though, with the sleek back end, the bags, and the fat front fender? Yeah, that works. Black, of course. Cost may limit me to, say, a Softail Classic, but hey, I’m sure I’d live.

Then again, if money were no object? I’d have to check out an Indian. Dump the tassels from the Chief Dark Horse and I just might love it forever. Or better yet, buy a real classic, hire a wrench to restore it if necessary, learn to maintain it, and ride it ’til it falls apart.

Meanwhile I’ll have to content myself with customizing Lenore. She could use a good set of crash bars. Maybe some highway pegs, too. I wonder how tough it would be to get the decals off the tank and put a different pain job on it? Maybe find a fat fender at a parts shop, or off a junked bike… Yeah.

Damn. Guess I best start selling some books and make some money.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

They Just Don't Get It

I’m really, really glad I only have one car to pump gas into.

Bush is headed out to Saudi Arabia to beg King Abdullah to reduce oil prices because the US economy is suffering. What makes him think Abdullah — or any of the sheiks or princes, for that matter — is going to give a flying dog turd what’s happening in the US? These guys live in ultimate luxury, surrounded by yachts and Rolls Royces, while right across the street their own people live in abject squalor. If they’re more interested in pouring their own money into making the Burj Dubai higher and higher than they are in improving their own country, they sure as hell aren’t going to sweat US unemployment rates or the mortgage crisis.

Meanwhile, a Congressional commission wants to increase gasoline taxes to pay for our aging highway infrastructure, including crumbling bridges. So while Bush is off pissing up a rope, Congress has a panel asking them to make things even worse.

Increasing the tax by 40 cents across five years doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but think about that for a minute: gas down the street from me was $3.07 per gallon last I checked. That means in five years it will be a minimum of $3.47, or a 13% increase. That, of course, is without inflation, speculation, conditions in the Middle East, etc., etc., etc., not pushing the per-barrel pricing up from where it is now (and it seems like every month it’s breaking record highs.

The article also discusses putting money into the rail infrastructure. That too makes a certain amount of sense, but it’s really only practical for people living in the city and the suburbs. While I was unemployed in 2005, I was exploring several job opportunities in downtown Chicago because I could jump on Metra for a reasonable rate; even if it did cost me a little more than gas, it saved time, frustration and wear & tear on the car. I could even have called it a bonus by bringing along a laptop to get some writing done.

But out here in the boonies, we’re not so lucky. Let’s say I want to visit Cullen Bunn in St Louis this weekend. If I drive, it would cost me about $52 in gas. If I take the Amtrak, it would only cost me $36 round trip. However, I would need a ride to the train station about 30 miles away. If my wife drops me off and picks me up with our van, that’s 120 miles for two round trips, which works out to a little under $20 in gas. We break even financially, and even the convenience of writing on the train ride is negated by having to arrange rides on both sides of the trip. (Incidentally, if I bring the whole family, the train ticket price jumps to $90 plus probably parking costs, making the van the clear winner in that scenario.)

Unless the ticket prices get more attractive than gas prices, people (out here) aren’t going to see an advantage in train travel. Even putting ticket pricing aside, we don’t have rail access like the city does. I was once chided by a city dweller for not using my bike or public transportation for day trips. He just couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that I lived in the middle of a cornfield and we have no train stations, and a five-minute bike ride isn’t going to get me past the cornfield, much less into the city. Building the infrastructure out to us would cost a fortune, which would in turn raise ticket prices, making the train even less an incentive than before.

The car companies tease us with electric cars, but they tell us they don’t make them because we don’t buy them. How can we buy what’s not there? Not to mention we just shift our spending from gas to the electric bill. That’s the whole reason I got my motorcycle license last summer: between better mileage and the availability of affordable bikes, they’re cheaper all around to operate (presuming I don’t get my ass run over riding it).

I guess the short answer is solving this problem is going to take some innovative thinking. (Or maybe Jimmy Carter has what we need.)

Unfortunately that’s something our government representatives have in very short supply.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.