Thursday, December 10, 2009

Daytona Bike Week Must See: Sopotnick’s Cabbage Patch

This begins a series of the things you must see when you go to Bike Week in Daytona.

Sopotnick’s Cabbage Patch is a little bar west of New Smyrna beach on 549 County Road 415. This is just a tiny tavern with a few regulars and the occasional out of town biker for 50 weeks a year. During Bikeweek and Biketoberfest it’s a different story. The place is packed with bikers, most who arrive to see the hugely popular coleslaw wrestling match. They wrestle on Wednesday and Saturday.

This is on the grounds of a former cabbage farm, hence the name. Before the big contest they grind up heads of cabbage on a large mound covered with a plastic tarp. Then add some vegetable oil and let the fun begin. The girls tumble and toss each other around until one is pinned. After each match, the girls (all covered with cabbage) go to the garden hose to be sprayed off. Sometimes this is the best part! The winner of the tournament gets $500.

There are campgrounds across the road, if you want to spend the whole week here. The grounds are loaded with vendors serving food of all kinds. There are plenty of bars to get a cold beer and waitresses move around the crowd hawking jello shooters.

It is not a place to take the kids. Women tend to lose their clothes at the cabbage patch for some reason.

Even if you are in the area during one of the 50 non-bikeweeks, it is worth a stop for a cold beer and a look around.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Future of Motorcycling: Thoughts about Harley Davidson

Now that Harley Davidson has shut down its Buell brand and sold off MV Agusta, it can focus on its core business. Buell made high performance sportbikes to appeal to younger riders, but the brand only sold 135,000 bikes since it was started by Erik Buell in 1983. In 2008 Harley bought MV Agusta to increase company penetration in Europe, but then turned around and sold the Italian motorcycle company this fall.
I would say Harley was hoping these bikes would appeal to a new generation of riders, as the buyers of Harley Davidsons have an average age of 47. Harley had hoped that the V-rod would appeal to younger buyers, but it has not been the best seller among the under 40 crowd. Those crazy kids all gravitate to the Japanese crotch rockets, and then go out and ride them like “King Kiyo”. Sadly most do not have half the riding skill of the British Superbike champion. Will those that survive someday gravitate to the more docile V-Twins of their fathers? If they do, will the move to Harley or will they choose the Japanese counterpart made by the same company as their sport bike?

The average Harley rider, being over 45, grew up in a household that probably had American automobiles, and has always believed Americans should buy American products. The under 40 crowd has mostly rejected the “buy American” mantra. They choose to drive Hondas, Toyotas and Mitsubishis. Those that ride motorcycles choose to ride Hondas, Kawasakis, Yamahas, and Suzukis. They don’t feel compelled to buy any product just because it is American made. I see this daily in the attitudes of my 20-something family members and their peers.
I think many who are 27 today and riding sport bikes will be riding when they are 47 though for most it won’t be a sport bike. Will it be a Harley or a Japanese cruiser?
So what is an American motorcycle company to do? Harley has to find a way to appeal to this demographic. Otherwise, Harley might find itself in the same situation the American Automakers are in today.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Upcoming Motorcycle Shows in 2010

This time of year when we can’t ride as much it is fun to spend the weekends looking at new bikes, show bikes from builders, accessories and apparel. Here as some dates for shows within driving distance of Baltimore and Washington. There is not a lot of information published on the web for these shows, but I have included the links that will help you find them

January 9-10 Somerset, NJ

January 15-17 International Motorcycle Show, Washington DC

January 16-17 Pittsburgh, PA

January 23-24 Easyriders Vtwin Bike Motorcycle Show, Charlotte, NC

February 12-14 Timonium, MD

February 20-21 Chantilly, VA

March 20-21 Richmond, VA

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Ideas for the BMW Rider


If there is a BMW motorcycle rider in your life, here are a few ideas for under the Christmas tree. Of course you can always go to your local BMW dealer for genuine parts and accessories. This post offers a few alternatives for online shopping if you can’t get to a dealer.

Flugelnus – This website offers a limited BMW parts and aftermarket accessories such as Hepco Becker luggage. They are a husband/wife team who have a lifetime of riding experience. Being a small business they will give you personal service and answer all your questions. So if you are Christmas shopping for the biker in your life, but you are not sure about what to buy, you can talk to them directly by calling 510-701-1348 or emailing

BMW MOTORRAD USA – This is the official site with all the riding gear and accessories from BMW. They have a very nicely laid out website where you can search for apparel or accessories. Gift certificates are available if you just don’t know what your BMW rider really wants or needs.

BestRest Products – Their slogan is “Hard Parts for Hard Rides.” This site specializes in parts for endurance riding in rugged conditions. They offer back rests, cargo rests, skid plates at lots of other parts to ruggedize your BMW. They offer accessories for the R1200GS, R1100/1150GS, F800GS, and R1200RT.

Touratech-USA – This site offers rugged parts for Motorcycle Adventure Travel. Here you will find everything from GPS navigation, to luggage to rugged suspension parts.

Streetline-USA – This site offers accessories for BMW road and street bikes. It is part of Touratech. They offer body and fairing accessories, lights, luggage, exhausts and much more.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Yamaha Roadliner with Custom Paint

At a bike show in Maryland this Yamaha Roadliner caught my eye as the most unique bike at the show. Being the only metric bike in sight, perhaps it just caught my eye because it was different from the rest. The owner of this machine told me he was torn about how to design the custom paint scheme. He wanted to preserve the trademark horizontal lines that are on the tank of this bike. It is certain that the three horizontal lines on the tank and the oversized chrome headlight give this bike its unique look. The look appeals to some, and not to others. The inspiration for the design comes from the Streamline era of the 1950's and 1960's, when everything that moved was designed to look like it moves very fast.

With an engine displacement of 1854 cc (113 cubic inches), this pushrod v-twin has more than enough torque and horsepower to pull your arms out of their sockets when you twist the throttle hard. When I have ridden one of these bikes I find that it goes like hell in a straight line, but requires some manhandling in tight turns. It is very smooth and graceful in long-radius, sweeping turns. If you live in Florida where the roads are flat and straight, this bike will be right at home. If you live in West Virginia where the mountain roads are narrow and twisty, you might want a lighter bike with a shorter wheelbase.
If you are in the market for a max-sized v-twin, compare this bike to the Honda VTX 1800 Shadow, the new Kawasaki Vulcan 2000, the Victory Hammer or the Harley Softails.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Biker Doggie

Biker Doggie, originally uploaded by bikerphoto.

This little dog rides a Harely with his owner. I really liked the goggles.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Biker Road Food - DJ's Deck in Port Orange, FL

When in Daytona for bike week, biketoberfest, NASCAR or for any other reason, I always stop at DJ's Deck. This is a very causal waterfront restaurant/bar where they serve seafood caught fresh and brought to the dock daily. Next door is a seafood market where all the locals know they can get freshly caught seafood daily.

When I post a review of a restaurant on this blog I have no financial interest in the business. As always, I am just posting to let you know about the best places I have found.

Mrs. Bikerphoto and I certainly enjoyed our stop at DJ's Deck in July. Take a look at this shellfish platter. Makes me hungry just looking at it.

So where is DJ's Deck? It is just under the bridge where A1A crosses the Haifax River on the south side of Daytona Beach. The address is 79 E. Dunlawton Ave, Port Orange, FL 32129.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


V-REX, originally uploaded by bikerphoto.

This bike is on display at bruce Rossmeyer's Destination Daytona, the mega Harley-Davidson dealer in Daytona Beach. The bike has a V-Rod engine, but is not a Harley.

Tim Cameron first designed the bike using a 3D digital design system. Christian Travert saw the design and decided to build the bike. The Travertson V-REX is available to buy for a price in the ballpark of $44K.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sunrise Reflected - Daytona Beach

Sunrise Reflected - Daytona Beach, originally uploaded by mstoy.

First I must give credit to mstoy on for this excellent photo. Next week I will be on vacation in Daytona Beach. I can only hope I will be able to get a photo as good as this one. What a fantastic sunrise shot!

While in Daytona I will be visiting a few biker hangouts, though I won't be on the bike. I'll post anything interesting I find. My current plan is to be in Daytona again for 2010 Bike Week in March.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Slices of Americana

When in Charlotte, NC one can experience two nostalgic drive-in restaurants that still have curb service. Better take warning: if you are on a motorcycle it will be hard to hang the tray on your bike.

Curb Service Still Lives

At 2900 Wilkinson Blvd. you will find Bar-B-Q King. This place has been in business since 1961 -- a time when big gas gulping muscle cars cruised into drive-ins treating the whole family to tasty American food. This is a throwback to an era when Americana was defined by the automobile. Families drove their cars everywhere without considering the cost of gas.

The Famous 21 South Drive In

Just off the Independence expressway on the other side of town is the 21 South Drive-in - in business since 1955. You can't beat a good burger and onion rings served on a tray that hangs off your car window. Too bad we don't have Dad's old 57 Chevy to cruise in for a burger, fries and shake. There is nothing like a Super Boy burger to fill your belly!

It is great to see these places have withstood the test of time. They still stand despite the encroachment of corporate chains. If all we had were fast food and casual dining chains every town in America would look the same.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Pennsylvania Anti-Turnpike Part 2: US Route 30 from Gettysburg to York

View Larger Map
Note: This is a follow-up to the post on May 3, 2009.

US Route 30 between Gettysburg and York is not a particularly enjoyable ride, but it might be preferable to the Turnpike if you are looking for lots of places to stop for a break. If you are in hurry, opt for the traffic, trucks and rough road on the Turnpike. It is only a 29 mile ride from Gettysburg to York on US 30, but it will take every bit of an hour. The traffic moves slow. There are traffic lights and several towns to go through. Better not be in a hurry.

I always enjoy riding through small towns, imagining what life is like living there, how people make their living, and what they do in the town for recreation. Stopping the bike for a bottle of water and a restroom break always gives the chance to talk to people. If you are on a motorcycle with out of state tags, they are sometimes just as curious about you as you are about them.

You can start in Gettysburg, soaking up the history. Park the bike and walk around town. There are many shops and cafes to enjoy along the streets of Gettysburg.

Along this stretch of US 30 you will find Battlefield Harley-Davidson. This dealer on the east side of Gettysburg. This Harley dealer is well known as one of the nicest facilities in the area.

If you didn't stop in Gettysburg, the town of New Oxford is worth a stop. This is a very typical Pennsylvania town, with Victorian architecture, a busy town square and down-to-earth people.

The rest of the ride is pretty unremarkable, but once you move east of York, there is Amish Country in Lancaster, PA. Look for the Part 3 post coming soon covering York to Philadelphia.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Has Anyone Heard of Victory Motorcycles?

This blog covers all types of bikes from all makers, with no favorites, and no brand bashing. I am not for or against any brand. Just making some observations.

Victory is "the other" American motorcycle company. Why does nobody know this?

Last evening I watched Paul Tuetul, Sr. and his sons of Orange County Choppers, you know the TLC show "American Chopper", on Larry King Live. I love that show. Those guys are interesting. The bikes they build are awesome. Anyway, one of the questions Larry King asked: "Is Harley the only American motorcycle company?" The Tuetuls all look at each other, shrugged and said that they think it is.

The people at Polaris Industries who make Victory Motorcycles must be devastated by that. No doubt Victory has a very ineffective marketing program if "bike guys" like the OCC gang have no idea there is another American motorcycle company. The company is in Medina, Minnesota for God sake!

Most newbie riders (and wannabes) that I talk to always say they want a Harley. Nobody says they want a Victory. Again, I think it is Harley's awesome marketing program. What other commercial brand do you know that is so sought after that people tatoo the brand name on their body? Harley's marketing program might be the best in the history of business! I would be interested in hearing what marketing pros think. I am not one.

Victory definately needs a marketing program if they ever want to penetrate the market. I did some googling and found a Victory owner's blog that makes the same case.$300-000-000-image-makeover/

For the record, I would consider buying a Victory. They look very exciting. They seem well built. I recently met a rider who has ridden his Victory over 100,000 miles.

Can Victory ever make a significant dent in the market share Harley holds? Comments please?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cats are Starving while I Wait for the Storm to Pass

I sit in my office waiting for a thunderstorm to pass. Today at lunch I knew there was a 40% chance of thunderstorms. Forty percent? That is less than half-a-chance it will rain. It's a no brainer. Go home for lunch and get the bike.

All was fine until time to go home. 5 PM, lightning started flashing to the west. A quick check of the online radar map showed a huge storm bearing down on me. So I sat in my office with a co-worker and watched the storm approach. Wind tore at the trees. Lightining struck the building across the parking lot. Rain fell in sheets.

So I waited an hour after it stopped. The pavement is starting to dry. Lo and behold, a lightning bolt struck again just a mile from here. Another storm is popping up out of thin air! Ahh....these hot humid days of summer on the Eastern Seaboard.

I don't mind the rain to much if I am dressed for it. I like a full face helmet and a rainsuit. Today I left my rainsuit behind and wore my shorty helmet. The ligtning is prohibitive anyway. I guess I will wait another hour. I've already had my quota of riding in the rain so far this year with that stormy trip I took to Charlotte 3 weeks ago.

Ms. Bikerphoto just called to remind me to pick up catfood. Those cats are eating me out of house and home...but that is another story for another time.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The King of Motorcycle Seat Upholstery

This is what John Longo has on his business card. He is in Rockville, MD. For 40 years, he has designed and hand sewn leather seats on many show bikes. 365 times bikes with his seats have been featured in the centerfold of biker magazines. Here are some photos of his work.

Seat by John Longo

Seat by John Longo

Elvis seat by John Longo


His website is

Yamaha Royal Star Tour Deluxe - Silverado

Yamaha Royal Star Silverado
Here is a photo of a Yamaha Royal Star that caught my eye in the parking area at Outlanders in Luray. Like me he has sought out a gravel area to park this heavy bike. My Kawi Nomad is pushing 800 pounds and this Yamaha is 787 dry, so the muddy parking area was out of the question for these bikes.

The Royal Star is super smooth. The silky whir of the v-four sounds somewhat turbine-like, something that takes some getting used to. It is only a 1300 - a detuned version of the super speedy V-Max engine. The four valves per cylinder with overhead cams are meant for higher revving, so keep those rpms up for max power. It doesn't make loads of low end torque like a Harley, but when you get it wound up it makes nearly 100 hp. That's more than enough to haul two people and a load of luggage up a mountain.

The dash and speedometer is styled a lot like a 58 Buick, wih the speedometer needle moving horizontally. Photo courtesy of Dave 77459 on flickr.

I'm not sure why these bikes don't sell better. They are rock solid machines starting at under $15,000. Yet they are rarely seen on the road. I suppose it is largely due to Harley having a much better marketing program than Yamaha, so most people opt for an Ultra Classic when in the market for a touring bike.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Rebuilt Street Glide

When riding near Charlestown, WV I stopped for gas and met a biker on this Harley Street Glide. Alec had bought this bike wrecked, sold his Ultra Classic and rebuilt the front end. The chrome wheels really caught my eye, so I asked Alec if I could photograph the bike. I really like the 19 inch front wheel and the chrome accents on the engine. This black cherry color looks beautiful when complemented with just the right amount of chrome, and I think Alec has just the right amount on this bike.

Click on the images to view them larger.

Outlanders Poker Run and Biker Party - Luray, VA

Outlanders is a KTM dealer and motorcycle apparel store in Luray, VA. Each year they hold a poker run for local charity and a good party. We rode down to take in all the happenings on June 6. There were vendors, show bikes, models in bikinis, and plenty to eat. This post is a few of the better pictures I took.

There were quite a few nice choppers, but the crowd around them made it hard to get a good shot. Sorry I don't have any information on the builder of these bikes.

VegasFuel Chopper

Outlanders Chopper

Now, no biker party would be complete without a girl like this.

Penthouse Model

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Danger of Electric Motorcycles

If loud pipes save lives, electric motorcycles are deadly. I have walked in front of an approaching hybrid car because I didn't hear it coming. Thanks to the quick reaction of that driver I didn't get hit. So think of what it would be like to be riding your silent electric street bike on a city street. Not hearing your approach, a pedestrian steps off the curb right in front of you.

Fans of electric vehicles seem to not remember their high school physics. It takes exactly the same amount of energy to move a vehicle regardless or where that engegy comes from. It is very likely that the electricity used to charge the battery is generated by burning fossil fuels. Electric vehicles do very little if anything to reduce carbon emissions.

A lot is written nowadays about the future of motorcycling. Some think electric bikes are the wave of the future. I certainly hope they are wrong.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It's a Vegas, Baby!

So you say you want to be different? You already ride motorcycles. That makes you different from those plain vanilla people in the office. But do you want to be different from other bikers, or do you want to be just like all the rest of them. You can be a member of the club and ride what all your buddies ride, or you can standout and ride something different. Go for the gusto! Ride a Vegas, Baby!

Lucky Lime

The 2009 Victory Vegas comes in a standard model. There is also the blacked-out 8 Ball model, and the stunning Jackpot model. Just looking at the Vegas Jackpot will make you forget about your boss. Riding it will make your heart race. The 106 cubic inch v-twin comes to life and pulls smooth and hard from idle. With this much torque at the low end, no need to worry about winding the bike out. No matter when you shift, the next gear is ready to pull with power. The seat height is a nice 25.7 inches, which should allow most people to stand flat footed while waiting to drag race those other bikes to the next traffic light.

With 4 vales per cylinder, self-adjusting cam chains and hydraluic lifters, there is no need for periodic valve adjustments. This is a low maintenance machine designed for long life and high performance. The 5 year warranty offered on all Victory Motorcycles is unmet by any other company.

At $18,499 the Vegas Jackpot is not for the casual biker. It will set you back a few grand, but you get lasting pleasure, unlike what happens in that town in Nevada where the pleasure is oh so temporary. If you are more price concious, the all blacked out Vegas 8 ball goes for just $13,799. What a bargain! Then you can take the five grand you save and ride your Vegas to Las Vegas!

Photo courtesy of:
Rickey Brown
Bayou Photography
Owner: Jeff Funderburk
Elizabeth, Louisiana
Model: Kacee LaNell
2009 Victory Vegas Jackpot Lucky Lime
106 C.I.

By the way, the pipes on the bike pictured are not stock.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Riding Destination: Solomons Island, MD

Going Crabbing, originally uploaded by bikerphoto.

One Saturday recently I decided to take the bike to Solomons Island for some sunrise photography. Taking photos at sunrise by the water is a beautiful way to relax, but rising early enough to get there before the sun comes up is kinda hard for me. I had intended to get up at 3:30, hop on the bike and ride the 80 miles to be there and set up by 5:30. The alarm went off at 3:30 and I thought, "Geesh, what a stupid idea." Then I had a hard time going back to sleep, so I finally hit the road at 5 AM.

I knew I would get there well after sunrise, so I would use the trip to scout around for the best places to set up the next time. It was not a great sunrise to shoot anyway. The sky was perfectly clear, as a cold front had just moved through. Sunrise is always more interesting if there are some clouds to make it look dramatic.

When I arrived at Solomons it was about 6:30. People were out walking along the waterfront. I parked the bike and walked around some, taking in the scenery. I found some men working on loading crab pots on a boat. Making a living on the water as a professional crabber is a rough life. In Maryland it is the Blue Crab they go after. The television show, Deadliest Catch shows the extreme conditions professional crab fishermen have to endure in the Arctic. In Maryland on this day, the conditions were not so extreme. In fact, it even looks peaceful seeing these guys head out to work, but there are nor'easters, tropical storms and even hurricanes that these guys have to deal with at times.

Before they shoved off, I talked to them a while. Working watermen are men of few words.

"How is the crabbing this year?"

"Not bad."

"Just now heading out for today?"


"Mind if I take a few picutures while you are working?"

"As long as you are not with America's Most Wanted."

Hmmm....Made me wonder if I should look on the AMW website to see if I recognize these guys.

Solomons is a nice day trip from the Richmond area or the Shanandoah Valley of Virginia. When you ride your bike here you will see primo sailboats as well as working crab boats like this one. There are many waterfront restaurants to satisfy your appetitie for seafood after a long ride. Take some time to look around and relax. Bed and breakfast inns offer a quaint place to spend the night. Just off the island there is a Comfort Inn and a Holiday Inn express.

Park your bike, get off and look around. You can walk the island to enjoy the waterfront views, or just sit and relax on the benches at the waterfront. The Calvert Marine Museum is a must-see where you can learn the history of Southern Maryland. Other things to see are Solomons Island Winery and Drum Point Lighthouse.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Heartland USA Customizing Kit for Harley Rocker

For owners of the Harley Rocker Softail, there is a customizing option that is affordable and easy. Heartland USA offers a kit for $1999 that will turn this bike into a machine that turns heads everywhere you go. Heartland has been around for about 12 years. They provide easy, pre-fabricated customizing kits for Harley Softails. Everything is cut and pre-drilled, ready to be bolted on. It is perfect for a guy who is good with hand tools but doesn't have a complete metal working shop in his garage.

Jim Grove started this company after selling his business designing interiors for BMW autos (not bikes). He was working on customizing his own softail in his 6th floor condo. All who saw it wanted him to design the customizing for their bikes. That gave him the idea of starting a company that offers easy customizing kits

Heartland makes easy customizing kits for all softails. You can see all the Heartland custom products on their website at

Photo courtesy of Heartland USA.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Bikers in Haw River North Carolina

While riding in North Carolina last weekend I met some nice folks at a gas stop. They were all out for a day ride. One of the best things about riding a motorcycle is you meet the nicest people along the way. Riders are always eager to talk about their bike and where they are riding to. I always enjoy posting pictures of fellow riders I meet along the way.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Harley Rocker

FXCWC Softail Rocker C, originally uploaded by Toni_V.

The Harley Rocker C is the only Rocker model that Harley will offer for 2010. Gone is the black Rocker. Personally, I like the standard Rocker with its gray powder coated engine. It would be real cool to have a blacked out Rocker. They could call it the Night Rocker. If Harley decides to do this, you heard it here first.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

2010 Honda Fury - First Look

The Fury, originally uploaded by RichardUpshur.

The first Honda Furys are hitting the dealerships now. I sat on a blue one (not the one pictured) at my dealer in Laurel, MD yesterday. The bike certainly gives the feel of a chopper with the arms stretched, feet forward seating position. Choppers aren't made for long distance riding. the seating position dictates getting off the bike often to stretch and stand up straight. Chopper seats are usually hard on the fanny too, but in my short time sitting on the Fury this seat felt pretty good.

Somehow the thought of a Honda chopper doesn't really register. Those who follow this blog will know that I like all types of bikes. My first thought was to wonder why Honda didn't choose the 1800 for their chopper platform, rather than the mid-sized 1300. I suppose they have their reasons, but a thumping 1800 engine would gain more respect from die-hard big motor chopper fans. In the chopper world quaking the bike with every beat of the motor and pounding your eardrums with the concussion of big combustion chambers is the name of the game.

Being a Honda, this bike will likely be a lot more reliable than most custom-built choppers. Liquid cooling, which is not unusual for Honda but is very unusual for a chopper, will give better operation on hot days and longer engine life.

One thing most buyers will change is the exhaust. The bike is way too quiet for a chopper. Moreover the canister-shaped mufflers just don't look like something you would find on a chopper. When we start seeing them on the streets with custom exhausts and cool air intakes, then the Fury will truly turn heads.

The $13,000 price tag saves you a lot compared to the factory chopper from Harley Davidson - The Rocker - which sits on the show room floor for just shy of $20,000. So if you are in the market for a budget priced chopper, the Fury should do the trick.

Looking Forward: watch this blog for future articles and comparison of the Fury against the Harley Rocker and the Victory Vegas. Also watch for an article next week on US Route 30 in Pennsylvania, which I call the Pennsylvania Anti-Turnpike.

Photo by Richard Upshur on

The Pennsylvania Anti-Turnpike: US Route 30 from Gettysburg to Breezewood

This is the first of a series of occasional articles on US Route 30 in Pennsylvania.

Most of us who travel by motorcycle like to stay off the freeways, turnpikes and beltways in favor of the "old road". In Pennsylvania we can avoid semis, motorhomes, toll booths and traffic congestion by traveling US Route 30. When you are a biker, being on the road is the experience. It is not about getting from point A to point B the fastest possible. It is about taking the most interesting and fun road to get from point A to point B. So most of us take the old road when we have the time.

View Larger Map

As old roads go, US 30 in PA has a lot to offer. History, food, interesting towns, mountain vistas, sweeping turns, and interesting people are just a few of the reasons to ride US 30, which roughly parallels and criss-crosses the Pennsylvania Turnpike. US 30 runs along or near the historic Lincoln Highway, which was the first paved transcontinental road in the United States before US routes were designated.

US 30 is two lanes in some places, and three or four lanes at times. West of Chambersburg, the elevation is constantly changing. Up and down, up and down, as you traverse the many spines of mountain range that run roughly northeast to southwest in Pennsylania. The mountain ranges between Gettysburg and Breezewood are easy to climb, though steep in places. The curves on the mountian ranges are higher speed sweepers, rather than footpeg dragging hairpins.The pavement is smooth and plenty wide allowing a relaxing leisurely pace of about 50 mph through the long sweepers.

In the towns, you will slow to stop and go traffic. Passing through the heart of these small towns such as Chambersburg and Gettysburg is an opportunity to stop and get a cup of coffee or lunch in a local establishment. Bikers always get attention when we stop in small towns. Some of the characters you can meet make the trip all the more interesting. The best restaurants are always the mom and pop places, and at bikerphoto we are always amazed at how many mom and pop restaurants there are in every town throughout the keystone state.

In Gettysburg the place to visit is National Military Park, where in the summer of 1863 the Union won the battle that was the turning point of the Civil War. It is a solemn thought that 51,000 Americans died in this battle, the streams running red with blood.

On a much lighter note, there is a good biker stop between Chambersburg and McConnelsburg.

Mountain House Bar and Grill

Photo by Matthew Singer.

Heading west from Gettysburg, the road turns to long sweeping turns up to the top of Tuscarora Ridge, where right on top of the summit is Mountain House Bar and Grill. This is a very popular stop for bikers with bikes always in the parking lot. The food is tasty, and you might get lucky enough to be there when they have a live band. The place is a bar, but you can get a soda as well as a beer. It is never a good idea to drink and drive, especially on a motorcycle.

Further west is the commercial strip in Breezewood. This is where I-70 actually pours onto US 30 for a short stretch of hotels, restaurants and gas stations. This is a very unsual gap in an interstate highway. One can only surmise that policital interests in Breezewood influenced this plan to route all travelers through the town.

Coming soon on the bikerphoto blog is the eastern portion of US 30 in Pennsylvania from Gettysburg to Philadelphia. Be sure to check back!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Should we have liquid cooling on Harley Davidsons?

I witnessed recently two Harley Davidsons with the Twin Cam 96 engine overheating in traffic on a hot day. One rider was off his Fatboy, pushing it along on the freeway as the traffic inched forward. The other pushed his Ultra Classic off to the shoulder because it had gotten so hot it shut down.

The Harley dealer can install a software download that shuts off fuel to the real cylinder at idle when the bike is stationary. They also will sell you an auxiliary fan to cool the engine. Richening the fuel mixture will reduce heat as well.

These are beautiful and exciting motorcycles. What a shame we can't have new Harleys that require no aftermarket remedies for heat. I think these bikes would be just as beautiful and exciting with a radiator. There are many rumors on the web that Harleys will be liquid cooled in 2010, mandated by government emission standards. Please comment on what you think about liquid cooling on Harleys. Would it make a Harley less exciting? Would you welcome the increased reliability? Do you think radiators on Harleys would ruin their appearance?

More information on reasons and remedies for the Twin Cam 96 heat problem can be found at

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Poker Run to Benefit Special Olympics - May 30, 2009

This run starts at South Richmond Harley Davidson, 10011 Hull Street Road in Richmond. Registration begins at 9:00 AM. For details call (804) 751-4416.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Riding the BMW K1200LT

The BMW K1200LT is always a desirable luxury touring bike. My wife and I got the chance to ride one on our recent trip to Arizona. We rented it from the good folks at MC Tours, LLC in Scottsdale (

The bike is so smooth. It is really a sport bike disguised as a touring bike. The 4 cylinder engine revs very quick. As with all in-line fours, you have to use the transmission to keep the engine revved up. It makes its best power above 4,000 rpm. The ride is very cushy. My wife says it is the most comfortable bike she has ever ridden. However, I found the drivers seat too hard. My butt hurt after an hour in the saddle.

The bike has single shock suspension on both front and rear. It is very stable in sweeping turns, even if you hit a pothole or ripples in the road while fully loaded with two people.

Amenities include high tech luxury features you would expect of a BMW. Heated seats were a favorite of my wife, as it got a little chilly when we took it to Sedona. It also has heated grips. I really liked the electrical adjustable windscreen. In the full up position at high speed on a windy day the windscreen functions as a sail. More than once I was startled by the wind blowing the bike almost into the next lane. So on windy days it is best to lower the windscreen to its lowest setting, and use a full face helmet to protect you from the elements.

The interlinked power abs brakes took some getting used to. I am from the old school where one applies both the front and rear brake at the same time. On the K1200, one only needs to apply the front brake lever to operate both front and rear braking. The brakes are very touchy when the bike is running, but soft and mushy when the engine is off -- just like power brakes on a car.

The bike accelerates slick as a ribbon. Cruising at 60 mpg turns about 3,000 rpm, but you need to downshift to pass a car on a two lane road. No fear winding the bike up -- the redline is well above 8,000 rpm. The engine really comes alive at 4,000 rpm. The Beemer gets an excellent 46 mpg combined mileage with rider and passenger.

It is a touring bike that can get you cross country quickly and in comfort. Even with a price tag over $21,000, you truly do get what you pay for.

Cool features:
- power center stand
- illuminating lights under the bike for dismounting in the dark
- power adjustable windshield
- electronic cruise control
-interlocked abs brakes

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Riding US 19 from Beckley, WV to Princeton WV

If you find yourself on a ride that takes you through Southern WV, US 19 is a road that is one of my all time favorites. If you like curvy roads that are sparsely traveled you will love this road. Total length of this route is 41 miles. The first 11 miles are not the greatest, but the last 30 miles are awesome riding.

Starting in Beckley the journey is a bit congested, but be patient -- traffic thins out after a few miles. You will pass through the little towns of Beaver and then Daniels then Shady Spring. When passing through Sandy Spring, be sure to obey the speed limit. Right after Shady Spring you will come to a long stretch of straight road that goes down a steep hill and then back up another long steep slope. At this point the fun really begins.

The next 8 miles or so are just a warm up for what is ahead. Gently sweeping turns lead you to the top of Flat Top Mountain (elevation ~3200). At Flat Top you can stop and look around at Winterplace Ski resort, or have a home cooked meal at Lakefront Restaurant. Lakefront Restraurant is just opposite the access road for I-77, and Winterplace is just 3 miles south. If you need a bathroom break it is best to stop here, because there are almost no ameneties for the rest of the way.

Don't even think of getting on I-77 at this point. US 19 is the road to ride for fun, while I-77 is a nightmare of trucks and vacationers in motorhomes headed from the mid-west to the southeast and back again.

The last 30 miles into Princeton will rival ANY road in the US. I've been to the motorcycling mecca known as Deales Gap in Tenessee, but it pales in comparison to the scenery, varied contours of curves, and the long fast straights on US 19 in Southern WV.

One of the most interesting things along this road is the old Lake Shawnee Amusement Park.

Ferris wheel

The park is abandoned now. In its heydey it was a popular place among locals. Legend has it that the park is haunted now.

From Lake Shawnee it is only about 5 miles to Princeton, including one hard knee dragging left hander in Kegley, WV. In Princeton, you can pick up I-77, US 460 or continue on US 19 toward Tenessee.

View Larger Map

The Used Bike Emporium is worth a look

If you are near BWI airport and in the market for a used bike, you should stop in at the Used Bike Emporium ( The owner's name is John. He has a showroom that is larger than many new bike dealers. Inventory includes all the major manufacturers. He sells, buys and services all types of street bikes and dirt bikes. My wife and I had a good experience there when we bought a Harley 883 Sportster last year. Over the winter, John serviced my Kawasaki 1500 Nomad, and he told me about several things the dealer has not been servicing properly. What you will get at UBE is personal service. In the motorcycle industry, customer-focused service like that is hard to find.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

maryland charity motorcycle rides coming up

Here are a few charity rides coming up in maryland soon.

April 25 - Juvenile Diabetes Poker Run - Prince Frederick, MD - Renegade Classics (301) 855-1999

April 25 - Spring Pig Run - Benefits developmentally disbaled adults - meet at 10 AM, Daniels Restaurant, Elkridge MD

May 2 - Freedom Ride for Dystonia - Laurel, MD - meet at Old Glory Harley Davidson at 9:30 AM (301) 725-1335

May 16 - Lucy Hopkins Memorial Cancer Ride - Laurel, MD - meet at Old Glory Harley Davidson at 10:30 AM

May 23 - Biking in the Boro - Lineboro Volunteer Fire Department - 4224 Main Street, Lineboro, MD - meet at 9:00 AM - (410) 239-4670

Monday, April 13, 2009

Safety Tip: Avoiding Being Hit from Behind

On motorcycles we are vulnerable to being hit from behind while stopped in traffic. Last year, in a car I was hit from behind. The accident caused only minor damage to the car, and no injury to me, but I thought about what it would have been like if I had been on my bike. A simple collision from behind could be very serious on a motorcycle. As a rider you can take precautionary steps to help the driver behind you see you and reduce your risk of being hit from behind.

1) Watch your mirrors. Know if there is a vehicle following you too closely.
2) Brake early to let the driver behind you know that you will be slowing down.
3) Flash your brakelight to get the driver's attention.
4) When stopping in traffic, leave room to manuver out of the way if someone comes up behind you fast and can't stop.
5) Keep pace with traffic when road and weather conditions permit. Don't ride 40 mph on the freeway when all the other traffic is going 70 mph.
6) Get rid of tailgaters. Slow down and let them pass.
7) Keep your following distance safe so you don't have to stop suddenly.
8) Be aware of what is happening far in front of you. Anticipate when traffic might suddenly grind to a halt to avoid sudden braking.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Riding an Electra Glide in Blue

We got the opportunity to test out a 2008 Harley Electra Glide in the Smoky Mountains. Who could pass up a chance like this? We picked it up from Eagle Rider in Maryville, TN on a day when the weather was a perfect 85 degrees. I had ridden older Electra Glides and Road Kings, but this was my first time on a new Harley with the 96 cubic inch engine. I hit the starter, and the Harley roared to life with a pulse of power that really gets your attention. I always loved the sound of the Harley starter. Most people love the exhaust, and it is very sweet, but that Harley electric start has a sound of its own too.

Pulling out on to the highway tapping the brakes to test the feel I was amazed at the sensitivity of the front and rear brake. This bike will stop on a dime, despite being nearly 800 pounds. But there are no worries about accidentally locking the brakes, because this bike is equipped with Harley ABS.

You have to eat pancakes for breakfast when in the Smokies, so I made the obligatory stop for some bad carbs. My wife and I ate our fill of blueberry pancakes with smokiest saltiest bacon I had ever tasted. We were eager to put the bike through its paces, so I followed her to drop our car off at the place we were staying, and we headed out to test the big touring bike on a combination of mountian roads, interstates, not to mention heavy stop-and-go traffic in Gatlinburg.

We headed up US 321 North to Newport, TN, avery fine two lane road with long sweeping turns at the foot of the Smokey Mountain National Park. The Glide cruised like a Cadillac, lazily cruising about 60 mph in 5th gear. I tried to get it into 6th gear, but there is no need for that overdrive gear under 70 mph. We cruised through the little town of Newport, where we picked up US 70 East. This road took us through the mountains to the hamlet of Hot Springs, NC. We stopped at a market for my favorite beverage when visiting North Carolina -- Cheerwine! I'm not real sure what Cheerwine is, but I know i gotta have one every time I go to the Carolinas.
Electra Glide in Blue

From there we headed up NC highway 209. Calling this road a highway is being generous. We tested the bike on a narrow progression of switchbacks that had me gearing down to first a few times. These roads are better suited to a much smaller bike, but the big Harley handled with relative ease on these slow turns, with plenty of torque from the big v-twin to extend the front forks when powering out of the turns. The 96 engine has a longer stroke than the 88, so you have even more of that traditional Harley torque.

Even with a passenger, this bike is stable and comfortable on a narrow curvy road. We seemed to ride endlessly through the mountains. The population is sparse and the towns are few and far between in these mountains on the NC/TN border. Finally we came to a store called Fergusons, where we stopped for more Cheerwine -- hmmm....I think it's a cherry cola. It must have been that salty bacon that made me so thirsty. At Ferguson's there was a stray dog. The owners were trying to find his home, but it seemed to us that the friendly golden retriever knew he had found his new home right there under a John Deere parked out front. Ferguson's is a general store in the tradition of farming communities from decades ago. They have everything in there. I felt like I had been through a time warp waking into that nice store.

American Classics

Next was lunch in Maggie Valley, and up the mountains to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Up on the Parkway, the elevation is 4000 to 5000 feet. This was early July. On an overcast day when it was a muggy and sultry 90 degrees at lower elevations, but the temperature on the Parkway was in the 40's. The 96 Harley engine loves cool air! It is a hot-natured beast that really comes alive when breathing crisp mountain air. The bike accelerated so strongly, and I really regretted that the speed limit on the Parkway is 45 mph. I admit I cheated a good bit, opening the Harley up on some of the longer straights. We hit some fog, and looked over the vistas to our right, where we could see summer thunder storms moving in from the west. Unfortunately, when we reached US 441 at Cherokee, NC, west was the direction we had to turn.

US 441 from Cherokee NC to Gatlinburg TN is the Smokey Mountain Parkway, rising to elevations over 6000 feet. It gets chilly up there, espeically in the rain. After we got suited up, we headed out into the down pour -- and the lightning! I don't mind rain much, but being caught in a lightning storm on a bike gives me concern. We headed across the Smokies, winds gusting, small tree limbs blowing into the road, and huge raindrops pelting us. My goggles fogged up making it very difficult to see. I pulled off the road to wipe them, sitting still in the down pour. The elevation got higher and higher, the temperature got cooler and cooler. Lots of bikes were pulled off, sitting in the rain, waiting on it to stopped. It is probably safer to stop and wait in the rain that to ride in a downpour such as this, but we pressed on.

Finally, at the top of the summit, Clingman's Dome -- elevation 6643 - temperature 42 degrees on July 2, 2008 -- and pouring rain! It's all down hill from here. As we descended into the Tennessee the weather cleared, the temperature rose, and we soon found ourselves in Gatlinburg, at a muggy 85 degrees. We headed back out to our condo for a shower and a beer and some dinner. We still had one more day with the Glide, so we collapsed into sound sleep, looking forward to more riding the next day.

Day 2 found us meeting Carol, my wife's best friend since second grade on her 1200 Sportster and her boyfriend Tommy on a softail EVO. We headed out to find more roads that criss cross the mountains. We took the three bikes out to find the Cherohala Skyway. This road runs east to west across the mounatins from Tellico Plains, TN to Robbinsville, NC. The elevation gets above 5400 feet at one point. It is a relatively straight road, where you can take some long sweepers at high speed. I finally got the Glide into 6th gear coming down the NC side, hitting about 80 mph, when a coyote ran across right in front of me. The traffic was pretty sparse up there. I think the coyote was wating on a bike to come by so he could play chicken.

From Robbinsville, it is just a short ride over to the world famous Tail of the Dragon! This is a road that motorcycle riders from all over the world want to ride. I found it somewhat underwhelming. 318 switchbacks, crowded with thousands of bikes. Fast sportbikes overtaking you and passing on blind turns, it is an accident waiting to happen. We saw one bike down. Locals tell me crashes are a daily occurrence on this road.

Overall the Harley Elecra Glide Classic is a very fine motorcycle. It is bargain priced compared to the Ultra Classic. The only thing you get for your extra money on the Ultra are fairing lowers and lights on the rear tourbox. The 96 engine has a bit of a heat problem in stop and go traffic on hot days. The heat will swealter you. I'v heard stories of the rear cylinder getting to 350 degree plus measured at the cylinder head. That is HOT! The Harley is not well suited for city traffic on hot days, due to this heat problem. So keep it on the highway and enjoy the ride!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Motorcycle apparel for women

At the Timonuim motorcycle show I became aware of This is a new business in Maryland designing apparel for the classy female motorcycle rider. Hardclass offers a line of clothing that celebrates the female rider. Wearing Hardclass clothing allows a woman to proudly tell the world that she is a classy biker. The founder of Hardclass told me that more and more women are riding motorcycles, and she was dismayed that there was no clothing out there that is truly positive for classy women. So she decided to start a company to provide good quality feminine clothing for women who ride motorcycles. The clothing is tasteful, and designed to fit a woman. My helmet is off to anyone who starts a new business, especially one for motorcyclists. For more info, visit

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chopper Pictures from the Timonium Motorcycle Show

This post is just to show you a few more pictures I took of the two choppers I liked best at the Timonium show.

Long Low and Mean

Best looking chopper at the show

jack daniels barrels

jack daniels

The riders view on the jack daniels chopper

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Carribean Cruiser

custom painted kawasaki vulcan

This Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Classic has a fantastic paint job. The owner told me the paint was done by a guy in Harford County, Maryland. I did not write the name of the painter down, but I think it was Mark Brown.

Here is a full view of the bike.

Custom Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Classic

Monday, February 9, 2009

BMW F650 GS vs. Kawasaki Versys

If I say BMW, what do you think of? Most think of rock solid machines at a premium price. The mention of Kawasaki conjures up images of high performance motorcycles dating back to the Kawasaki Z1 in 1972. But BMW makes affordable bikes, and Kawasaki makes practical bikes. The Beemer 650 and the Kawasaki Versys are where fun, reliability and affordability come together in one package.

At a price tag of about $7K, the Versys is certainly affordable. It's hard to get your hands on one of these machines. Dealers sell them as soon as they can get them. This 2008 motorcycle of the year is perfect for zipping around town, daytrips to the next county, and riding back roads with fishing tackle strapped on the way to catch your dinner. It is comfortable on the highway, back roads, dirt roads. The smooth tread OEM tires don't really inspire off-road riding, but graded non-pavement roads are a snap. The Kawasaki isn't really billed as an off-road bike. It is better suited to urban riding, IMHO.

Motorcycle of the Year 2008

With a base price of about $9K, the BMW F 650 GS is the premium priced choice of these two. BWM offers lots of options that I am not sure you can get easily for the Kawasaki, such as lowered suspension, heated grips, abs, on board computer, anti-theft alarm and others. With these options, the price can rise to over $11K. The OEM tires on the BMW are better suited for off road riding. If you plan to do a lot of riding off pavement, the BMW is probably the better choice.

2009 Timonium Motorcycle Show

Bikes and melting snow

The 2009 motorcycle show in Timonium, MD was on a balmy weekend that saw many bikes coming out for the first time this year. Bikes parked next to mounds of melting snow, with their riders eager to go inside and see all the new bikes, show bikes and riding gear.

The economy is in the tank, but motorcycle enthusiasts always come out to dream about getting a new bike, even if they aren't ready to buy right now.

No shortage of interest

This show seemed more crowded than in past years. Cars and bikes lined up on York Road, wrapping around to Padonia Road and even backing up on I-83. In years past, we have braved snow, ice and frigid temperatures. This year we got an early taste of Spring.