Thursday, May 27, 2010

Uh oh....

Sat on one of these beauties at South Sound Motorcycles this morning, while waiting for the charcoal canister recall to be done on my F800GS. It's a 2011 Husquvarna TE630. About 60 pounds lighter than the GS, and a bit more than half the price.

Well, if I was going to get another motorcycle, someday, this would definitely be on my shortlist. Sigh.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Selling My Motorcycle

I love my BMW F800GS. It is the best all-around motorcycle I've ever owned. (Out of ten!) The decision to sell it did not come easily. It started out as what I thought would be a simple financial decision, and quickly turned into something more nuanced. Sure, trying to reduce monthly expenses, to get by what has been a rather lean period in the world of architecture and construction has been part of the background. If that was all there was though I'd probably rationalize a way to keep the bike. There are other factors. 

I was invited by Alex Steffen to take part in the Climate Neutral Seattle unconference on April 3rd, and gave a short presentation on Passive House. I spent the day with passionately committed, intelligent people working toward the same goals I have over the last 20 years, and it felt great and it was totally inspiring.  Many of those folks are car-free. Erica C. Barnett of Publicola made a big impression, in the session she did on car-free living. I've become even more committed to reducing my carbon footprint, and burning fossil fuels as recreation is hard to justify in those terms. 

And even if 350 ppm didn't matter a hoot, I don't see myself taking off for three weeks by myself to do the kind of trip the F800GS is meant for--like the trip I took up to Alaska in 2000 on my BMW R80G/S. If I'm going to take that much time off work I want to at least do something that my son can do with me. Which leaves the motorcycle as personal transportation--still a better choice than cars as far as carbon footprint goes. We've been car-free since last August, so me still having a motorized vehicle has been a bit odd, but still, I can make that work. But the fact is, riding down to Tacoma on I-5 to submit a permit application at Pierce County is really not my idea of a fun motorcycle ride. These days, riding around Seattle running errands is not that much fun either.  I often wish I was on my bicycle instead.

Then there's the safety issue. A good friend of mine--a fantastic, skilled, safe, life-long rider-- was in a couple of random, not horribly bad accidents over the last couple years, one of which left him with some issues that have made it impossible for him to work. He's on disability now. He was a brilliant software engineer. I hope he will be again, but it's taking a long while to heal. Then there's random non-life-threatening stuff that's happened to my riding friends over the last year or so: coming over a rise to find a stopped car on I-5, a spill on diesel at the I-405 interchange, a minor get-off every 50,000 miles, having to wheelie over a log in the HOV lane on I-5, getting run into from behind, and so on. I had a little tip-over on Herb Gudreau's cross-Olympic off-road ride last October (which was a total blast, still!) that kept me off my bicycle for a month and a half with a sprained ankle--and bicycling is my only aerobic exercise these days, which is kinda crucial to me staying alive, it seems. Pretty much all the damage I've done to myself over the last three or four years has been motorcycle-related. I'm a bit tired of that. I have realized, even if I do start riding again (and there's a good chance I could at some point), I want a smaller, lighter bike. I'm too old to be learning to ride off-road on a 500 lb motorcycle! I can buy a 300 lb Yamaha WR250R for $4500, and not have a loan payment, and have cheaper insurance, get practically twice the gas mileage, and do most of the stuff I'd do on my F800GS.  

I've REALLY gotten back into bicycling. I'm signed up to do the STP with my motorcycling friends Eugene, Dani, Helen and Bob. I have a new bicycle. (More on that later.) In the last couple months I've been exploring bicycle culture I've discovered I can do most of what I like to do on a motorcycle on a bicycle. It just takes longer, and is of course physically harder--which is not a bad thing. When I'm riding a bicycle, for the most part I'm extending my life. Riding a motorcycle, I'm risking it. (Have a look at this risk comparison.) I want to stick around to see my son grow up. I came into motorcycling from bicycling, so this is just me heading back to my roots. Thinking about getting a tandem, in fact.... It appears I am one of those dads that is letting go of motorcycling to spend time with their families. I'm not confident enough, nor does my wife enjoy riding enough now, to be one of the dads I admire riding their kids around in scooter sidecars, or teaching them how to dirt bike. I got into motorcycling too late in life for it to be that ingrained in my outlook, I guess. 

I've had a blast with motorcycles over the last 12 years. I've ridden close to 100,000 miles on ten different motorcycles, seen a lot of amazing places and done things I never would have imagined myself doing--say, riding 140 mph down the front straight at Portland International Raceway on my Ducati 916, back tire sliding as I brake heavily into Turn One... Just that, proving to myself that I can be that person, leaned over at 110 mph on Turn Two at Seattle International Raceways, has been worth it. Best of all, I've made truly phenomenal friends.  Now though, it's time for a break. 

I will say, I tried giving up motorcycles once before, and I lasted about three weeks before I got another motorcycle.... We'll see. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Moulton Double Pylon

Another bicycle I would love to ride (and maybe even own) someday, the Moulton. Here we have a Double Pylon, the most Mannerist and architectural of all Moultons. Richard Rogers, architect of the Pompidou Center in Paris, rides one.

Alex Moulton applied his considerable design genius to many fields. He also designed the suspension system of the original Mini.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ron Blumethal's Saluki

Saulki Final Fit 1, originally uploaded by J Ferguson.
As a dyed-in-the-wool (so to speak) fan of Grant Petersen's approach to bicycles, owning a Rivendell has been a dream almost as long as I've thought about having Bill Davidson build me a custom.

At $5,000+, a Davidson is out of reach at the moment, and in any case, even if I had the cash, it would be premature to go that route. It probably makes sense to ride an excellent production bike at least 10,000 miles before even thinking about a custom. My preferences are likely to change and develop over the next few years of riding more.

The Rivendell Saluki was one of the few production road bicycles designed for 650b wheels that was made in my size, ~62cm. As far as I know, the only other options were the Rivendell Bleriot and the Kogswell P/R, both also no longer made.

I tried talking Estaban del Rio into selling me his Protovelo to no avail. I posted a WTB on the Rivendell list, and heard from Ron Blumenthal that he might be interested in selling his 62cm butterscotch Saluki, originally built up by John Ferguson.

Have a look at John Ferguson's original build, here.

The bike as Jeff built it had more of a classic/vintage feel than I would prefer (only because it feels too precious), but all of the components were beautiful and top notch. Ron has since switched out the brake levers for aero levers and installed Silver bar-end shifters. I like that direction. I'm not wild about the butterscotch color, but it's growing on me.

Ron and I are talking....