Monday, March 2, 2015


Nothing stays the same forever. Even Stonehenge and the Pyramids show their age.

When it comes to web sites, I'm generally not a fan of change.

More often than not, when a web site goes through a 'refresh', it's rarely an improvement. Stuff that was easy to find becomes impossible to find, stuff that should have clear links right on the home page becomes buried, making the user click repeatedly with growing frustration trying to find the thing that used to be right there.

Lately I've been prodded by my daughter Lauren to update the look, broaden the appeal, in a word, to 'refresh' the ScootCommute. Life on two wheels lends itself a little better to covering some of my other interests along with motorbikes. It's a subtle thing, but putting the emphasis on the blog's primary name, rather than the by-line, may lead to greater editorial freedom.

I followed with interest when Steve Williams went through a similar process, switching Scooter in the Sticks from Blogger to WordPress, and to a custom domain name. Steve is continuing to make changes, upping his game. Clearly making these kinds of changes isn't trivial. Getting the changes right, and by right I mean changes that most readers will appreciate, is a tall order.

I'm doing my homework, and taking baby steps. If you're the observant type (I'm not a particularly good observer), you'll see that the URL has changed. Hopefully it was more or less seamless, but some springs sprang loose all the same. I think everything has settled down now (crosses fingers).

Right now I'm looking at blogs to see what others are doing that I think works. My personal belief is that the container should enhance the content, not get in the way.

One ingredient is certainly fashion.

Often, fashion is what drives the changes to a website, and often the look is a killer look, but the functionality is also killer, the killjoy breed of assassin. The 1994 look based on primary colors, content in html tables, and Times Roman font for all text, is pretty much dead everywhere. Everywhere except RefDesk. The reputed go-to news and reference site Washington power brokers swore by has not evolved one little bit. Craigslist is another high-functioning dinosaur. Compare those sites to the Huffington Post which is the more modern graphic idiom. Then compare all of those to the TV network sites. RefDesk and Craigslist get more information into their dashboard home page using old-school web design than most other sites.

Don't expect this site to be emulating RefDesk or Craigslist any time soon.

Who knows, maybe there won't be change. But maybe there will.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Comfort zones

Each of us has our well-worn comfort zones.

I'm no mad adventurer. I know that because I have a very close friend who is a heli-skier. Now that's mad adventure. I know people, people I've traded e-mail with, who have crossed continents on Vespas, including Africa, and ventured to the furthest reaches of North America, to the Arctic Circle, on two wheels. That's not me, and unless something snaps, it won't likely be me.

I know that I'm more adventurous than some. I may perhaps be more adventurous than most. Just above-average on the adventurous scale. I've pushed the envelope on some occasions. Like zip-lining down a massive mountain in Colorado in pitch blackness. One of the reasons I didn't chicken-out was, that next in line behind me, were a couple of ten-year-olds. That, and I was with my son, Andrew. He's at the very least in the mid-range of the fourth MAS quintile (the Masse Adventure Spectrum).

What does it feel like to venture beyond the comfort zone? Well I certainly can't speak for anyone else. Here are my thoughts on Monday's flirtation with mad adventure.

Let me see if I can break it down.

The past me, the guy from two or three months ago, is definitely the most fearless, the most dangerously reckless, of my alter-egos. Let's call him 'the planner'. He's the guy who sets the wheels (pardon the pun) in motion. He's the guy who gets the wacky idea (how cool would it be to ride a motorbike in Florida?), the guy who chats it up with blogger-buddies, the guy who rents a motorbike, and the guy who gets on the plane.

The future me is the guy who gets the past me to plan in the first place. The future me is the cool guy who exagerates to anyone who cares to listen (or can't plot a decent excuse to break free) over a cappucino, or a Corona, or a flute of Proseco, the glorious carefree motorbike ride up the coast of Vancouver Island, along the rolling ancient hills of Tuscany, or wedged between a dome of blue sky and the vast expanse of the Florida Everglades.

The present me, the guy in the passenger seat being driven by his wife, with the credit card in his wallet, headed to the Eagle Riders Harley-Davidson rental shop in Fort Lauderdale, is the guy left with the actual job of stretching the envelope, breaking the plate-glass partition lining the air-conditioned, elevator-music, marble-floored, comfort zone, and otherwise dealing with the vicissitudes of reality. If karma is a bitch, reality can be a hard mistress.

"Hey buddy..."

That's the present me whom Ozzy at Eagle Riders is addressing. "Hi" I offer, trying to look pleasantly nonchalant, while softly and silently berating past me for my predicament. "Did they tell you that we don't have the Sportster, so you're getting a Harley Switchback?" Sadly, yes they had. I'm desperately trying to convince myself that transitioning from a 330 pound Vespa GTS 287cc bike with an automatic continuously variable transmission, to a 718 pound Harley-Davidson Dyna Switchback 1,690cc bike with a 6-speed manual transmission is within some realm of possibility. I'm frantically rummaging around the attic of my psyche searching for my inner madly irrational optimist.

I'm led out back and introduced to the blue beast.
I get a thirty second tutorial on the idiosyncrasies of Harleys. Big ignition switch on the tank with a secret locking mechanism, separate left and right turn signal switches, a kill switch that isn't prominent and red, a suicide kickstand without an ignition interlock, and the starter switch that doubles as hazard flashers. How difficult could it be? Over the next couple of hours I'll find that every other time I attempt the starting sequence I'll be just sitting there with a perplexed frowning look, like Marvin the Martian... "there was supposed to be a kaboom..."

Conchscooter rolls effortlessly into the back lot, right on time, with a smile and a warm good-natured greeting. Michael admires my new rental steed and nods appreciatively.
I saddle up, and do my best to look confident.
I must have fooled Michael because in no time at all we hit the road right on schedule at eleven a.m.

Michael takes me out the back way so that I can figure out getting in and out of first gear while avoiding calamity. The learning curve is steep, but the noob doesn't stall, or drop the massive bike. A short stretch south down Federal Highway after a left hand turn at a traffic light, then a long right sweeper onto westbound I-595.

Once the Harley is rolling, it sheds its weight and becomes much more familiar. A twist of the throttle produces a deep growl to accompany the acceleration. 'I could get used to this' I muse.

Doing 60-ish once we hit the back roads, I hit the trusty control on my Sena and ask Siri to play some Colin James. Rocket to the Moon matched my mood perfectly as I thundered down the highway without a care in the world and a big goofy grin on my face.
Conchscooter leads the way. At the first intersection on southbound 27, when the light goes green, I stall. Shit. Clutch-in, hit the starter. "Ba-room boom, boom, boom..." Clearly I didn't downshift enough. I hit the shift and "thunk". 'Idjit!!' I think. And I stall again.

Lesson one: you can't get a Harley rolling in third, or second gear. Oh... and lesson two: first gear goes "ka-chunk" not just "thunk".

Amazingly, the 18-wheeler on my tail never delivered the air horn blast I fully expected as my due. He may have been killing himself laughing and was too distracted to reach for the horn.

Michael takes us down a side road off the Tamiami Trail leading south into the Everglades. Some ways in we roll to a stop on a patch of sandy grass. The attraction here is a pair of alligators.
A six footer lounging on the bank, and another in the water with just the top of its head above the waterline.
Being this close to a pair of indolent stone-cold killers in the wild might stretch some people's comfort zones, but hell, I got here on a big-ass Harley. I've busted loose. Rock on 'gator buddies, rock on! These are not the last wild alligators we'll see on our swamp tour.

Our next stop is an improbable delight. A nice little art gallery tucked away in the swamp.

Naturally, following the 'when in Rome' principle of leisure travel, we park the bikes on the side of the parking lot where an enormous alligator is sunning itself.
The gallery sells the works of Clyde Butcher. He is a large-format old school photographer who has dedicated himself to capturing the natural beauty of Florida's wetlands for all to see and enjoy. If Steve Williams were here with us, we would have never been able to tear him away.

At my suggestion, Michael and I switch bikes. The next destination is a bite to eat and still a ways off.
The Triumph Bonneville is another motorcycling icon and it's truly a privilege for me to experience a second amazing bike on this, my first real shifty-motorcycle experience. If the Harley-Davidson is a hulking freeway bomber, the Triumph Bonneville is a lithe Spitfire. The engine revs easily and delivers instant torque to the slick gearbox. This is a bike built for twisties.

Michael shared his impression of the Harley on his blog, here.
In due course, and without incident (although a one point we did have to avoid a migrating turtle making a mad turtle-dash for the other side of the road) we made it to a charming little Cuban joint out where the pavement ends at the Gulf Coast.
Michael and I shared some traditional Cuban fare and a drink or three (Michael prudently had a couple of diet cokes and I had an ice-cold beer). We lounged and chatted as bad-ass biker dudes are wont to do.

Before we knew it, it was time to shove-off. And this is where I made a serious mis-calculation. I think I have to blame Michael. At some point, Michael commented that he would have to stop for gas before hitting the Everglades.

Here is Michael prudently topping up the Bonneville.
Michael casually mentioned that I was lucky the Harley had a massive gas tank and that I could tour for countless miles. That's why I was taking pictures while Michael pumped.

As we were leaving Chokoloskee, I glanced at the fuel gauge and confidently reported a quarter tank. Michael said we'd stop at Miccosuki for gas. I kind of knew where that was (Alligator Alley and Snake Road), and did some rough calculus that indicated I could probably nurse the Harley all the way there.

Talk about wild baseless optimism coupled with a questionable and far too casual read of the fuel gauge.

During the carefree portion of the ride, the skies became threatening. Michael pulled over, and as the consummate British gentleman he is, offered me a brand new set of Frog Togs rain gear. By this time I had fully morphed into my new-to-me bad-ass-cruiser-dude persona, and so obviously I declined his generous and very considerate offer.

When the heavens eventually opened up and drenched the landscape, we rode on, content for the wet relief from the late afternoon Florida sun.

About the time I was drying up, so was the Harley. I glanced at the fuel gauge. Gosh that seemed lower than I felt it should be. Alligator Alley: definitely not an alley; definitely no alligators; definitely no gas stations either. Other than Miccosuki, that is. When the LCD display came on, cryptically indicating "R: 31" it took a mile or two for me to figure out that it was trying to tell me that my range was, by the time I figured it out, 29 miles. And there began a miserable countdown I won't soon forget.

Michael was riding sweep, because I think his calculus indicated that my burly Harley was doomed to run dryer than a bone in the Nevada desert long before we reached Miccosuki. 24, 23, 20, 18... though the sun was low in the afternoon sky, sweat was building on the back of my neck and trickling down my back. The Boy Scout side of me was tsk-tsk-tsking away, dancing images of my spare touring gas can before my mind's eye... I began to juggle scenarios in my mind... 15, 14, 12, 10... I'd see a sign looming and pray for that gas symbol and a number that fit within my dwindling range number.
No such luck... 9... and then the Harley hit me in the gut: "Low Range" it said. That meant it had given up, and saw no point in attempting to calculate the precise moment the bike would sputter and cough and coast onto the shoulder, leaving me to suffer the hot dusty gales of passing eighteen wheelers, as unseen alligators passed the word through the swamp "prime rib in the Alley, boys".

Unaccountably, I made it. Never have I been so happy to see a miserable fuel stop out in the middle of nowhere. At the intersection of Alligator Alley and Snake Road. Ordinarily not the description of a place you'd want to be. But it was gasoline heaven to me and my Harley.
The day's adventure was coming to a close.

Here we were, with two incredible motorcycles, full tanks of gas, and Snake Road winding away to the North. Now Snake Road is no Tail of the Dragon, but it is listed as a worthy riding road with requisite twisties. Michael sent me off ahead, like you would send a panting six-year-old past the gates and into the wonders of Disney World.
Snake Road is definitely twisty, in a land of ramrod straight orthogonal roadways, that is. Snake Road is a good test for getting texting drivers into the ditch, and perfectly safe for riders who haven't figured out the strange black art of countersteering a motorcycle.

Our Snake Road experience behind us, we hopped back on Alligator Alley and parted ways all too soon, as Michael swung south to the Keys, and I headed East into the tumult of South Florida rush hour insanity.

Thanks to Michael of Conchscooter fame, and Ozzy and the rest of the crew at Eagle Riders of Fort Lauderdale, I am now a bad-ass biker-dude, and fiercely proud of it. Sky's the limit, baby!!

Friday, February 20, 2015

How size matters to me, or the Slippery Slope

It's still the dead of winter.

My Vespa sits comatose on life support, shrouded in its OEM cover.  The only signs of its dormant existence are the intense glare of the reflective safety markings bouncing the car's headlights back at me, and the soft glow of the battery tender's intravenous drip keeping the battery fit for eventual duty.

That doesn't mean one little bit that very interesting things aren't happening at the ScootCommute.  They're just happening deep below the surface. Like the way that tectonic plates move and grind.  With the potential to change the landscape.

Right now I'm on a mission.  Wednesday night I was cruising along at more than 400 miles an hour, 34,000 feet above the ground.  I was heading south. It was half-past eleven, thirty minutes to midnight, and the land of perpetual summer was slipping by silently below, as Fort Lauderdale crept ever closer on the seatback monitor.  Just Susan and I, and hundreds of other anonymous fellow travelers escaping for a week of sun, and respite from the bone-wracking cold of the Great White North.

One thing that has held my mind in sharp focus these last few days is the Harley Davidson Sportster 883 I've rented for a day.
Well, not this one in particular.  I ran into this one in the men's department at Macy's in the Aventura Mall, of all places.  Until I saw it in the flesh, I was concerned it was a huge bike.  In fact it's only a little longer, and a little skinnier (yes skinnier) than my Vespa GTS 300, and not that much heavier.

That's right folks, just when you thought you had me safely pegged, and permanently pigeon-holed, as the completely dedicated Vespa guy, the urbane scooter commuter, you need to do a little re-think.

Have I been harboring a secret bad-ass cruiser-dude alter-ego?

Be warned, your host is a dreaded Gemini shape-shifter.  Two sides to this coin, my friends, and the coin is set to flip.

There will be more on this topic, much more.

Wait till I share what's in store for this coming Monday.  Crazy stuff.  Wild adventure!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Winter doldrums: Key West!!

January and February are deader than dead, riding-wise.

I think I've found a way to get a riding fix in late February that will keep my spirits up until the 2015 riding season kicks in.


Susan and I are planning to devote a week or so to the Sunshine State.  I'm planning to steal a couple of days, rent a bike at Eagle Rider, and teach myself (with a little tutoring and written encouragement from Dar in her brand-spanking-new moto instructor role) to ride a cruiser.

Dar suggested a 600cc'ish cruiser (Honda Shadow, Yamaha XV S650, or similar).

My plan is to drop in on Conchscooter for a beer and maybe a burger or something.  I'm also hoping to entice some fellow riders to join in.  The thing is that they're all up around Jacksonville or Tampa St-Pete, and it's a lot to ask for folks to take three days or so and put all those extra miles on just for a lark.

Stay tuned my winter-bound friends.  We'll see how this goes.


My Florida plans have been scaled back.  Too little time to get all the bases covered.  Key West has taken a back seat, at least in terms of our upcoming trip.

There will be other occasions, I am quite sure.  Perhaps occasions when the stars will align more auspiciously.  Occasions where a band of riders will be able to join in and ride with abandon to the southernmost point.

I will still rent a bike, but I'll confine the ride to an afternoon.  The A1A in Fort Lauderdale beckons.  Its siren call is no match for Key West, but it has the allure of being doable, and there's a lot to be said for that.

I hope to be able to report in the near-ish future that I have will have expanded my repertoire from Vespas to include shifty cruisers.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Product review: Viking Cycle Stealth textile riding jacket

Given that it's minus twenty degrees Celsius in the Great White North as I commit this review to digital paper, this will be a two part review.  The ride report about the jacket's performance on the road will have to wait until old man winter loosens his frosty grip and gives us back our bare and two-wheel-ride-able roads.

In a nutshell: 

The Viking Cycle Stealth is a very inexpensive, but well-designed, armored, padded, 600 denier, textile riding jacket.  It's part of the jacket line-up (click here, and here) from the folks at Motorcycle House.

The lesson here is that you don't need to spend north of $600 to get a good armored jacket.  There are no excuses for taking risks on the road when there are riding jackets like this one available.  If you're on a tight budget, yet still concerned about your riding safety, this jacket may just be the ticket for you.

Full disclosure:

I did not purchase this jacket, I received it from Motorcycle House free of charge for the purpose of doing this review.

Some bloggers won't do product reviews when they haven't purchased the product, some will.

Some bloggers host advertising on their blogs, some don't.

Most bloggers, myself included, write for public consumption and aren't in the least motivated by a desire to profit.  In many, if not most cases, the cost simply far outweighs the benefit.

I don't want to host AdSense advertising, so I know I have no hope of earning any financial reward for my blogging efforts.

With this review I am however dipping a tentative toe in the pool of freebie product reviews.  We'll see where it takes me.

The fact is that it's not easy for suppliers to entice bloggers.  Witness the comments some seriously good bloggers contributed to my earlier more philosophical post.

On the plus side, fellow bloggers have done promotional pieces that I found very valuable.  To mention just one example, take Steve Williams' motorcycle reviews courtesy of Kissell Motorsports.  Kissell Motorsports lent Steve a number of really nice bikes to ride and review.  His motorcycle review posts are examples of top-notch promotional pieces I found (and still find) really helpful. 

Right now my feeling is that as long as I believe that I'm adding value, along the lines of Steve's contributions, I will do more of these reviews.  When the process becomes too burdensome or irksome, I'll stop.

It's that simple.

Video peak:

I recorded a brief little video.

I apologize for the awkwardness the jacket model clearly exhibits.  It was his first time 'acting' on a stage and his natural reserve and shyness speak louder than the jacket he is supposed to be showing off to best advantage.  I also realize that the production quality is... totally amateurish.  I have a lot to learn about video editing.  I have a whole lot more admiration for those of you who produce nice videos.

The amazing thing is that I got it done at all.

There is no catchy soundtrack or helpful narration in the video.  I was on my way to figuring that out, when I upgraded our iMac to the Yosemite version of OSX, and that turned out to nuke iMovie.  When I finally installed the updated iMovie app... you guessed it, my product review video is no longer compatible.

I suggest you view the video. It's mercifully short, and the rest of the review will benefit from the context.

Safety and protection:
Armor and padding:

CE 1621-1 rated shoulder and elbow armor.  I pulled  the armor (never an easy task) and can confirm that it is stamped with the CE rating, with the same designation as the armor in my BMW Airflow jacket.
The armor in my BMW Airflow jacket looks and feels more polished, but bear in mind i) CE rated is CE rated, and ii) the BMW Airflow is more than five times the price.  The armor in this jacket looks not that different from the armor in my Canadian-made Corazzo 5.0 jacket, at three times the price.

In addition to the removable CE-rated armor, the jacket has polycarbonate exo-skeleton portions aligned with the internal removable shoulder and elbow armor.
Non-rated but removable foam back pad.
Permanent foam pads in the abdomen, chest, and back.
One of the keys with armored clothing is ensuring that the armor is positioned properly, and that it stays optimally positioned in a crash.  This is where fit is critical.  The Viking Cycle Stealth jacket fits very snugly, so much so that it's just a little bit of a struggle getting it on.
Once on, the jacket is comfortable and the armor is well positioned on the arms and shoulders. The sleeves are snug and there are hook-and-loop adjusting straps that allow the sleeves to be snugged up even more.
The impression the jacket leaves is that the armor is likely to stay put in a crash. Neither of my other jackets provide quite the same feeling. My Corazzo 5.0 is the loosest fitting. My BMW Airflow is snugger than the Corazzo 5.0, but not nearly as snug and form-fitting as this Viking Cycle Stealth jacket.
This jacket has a feature my BMW Airflow has, but that my Corazzo 5.0 lacks: the wrist-forearm zipper closure has a full gusset, so even if the zipper opened, the sleeve remains fully enclosed and wouldn't be as likely to separate and ride up in the way that I think that the sleeves on the Corazzo 5.0 might in a good slide. I like that feature, I have to say.
As a final note on protective elements, the jacket has a joining zipper that allows you, should you choose to do so, to join the jacket to your riding pants.  Doing so provides some assurance that the jacket won't ride up and expose you to road rash in a slide.
 Abrasion resistance:
The Viking Cycle Stealth jacket has a 600 denier outer shell which will survive a slide almost as well as Kevlar and competition leathers.  The downside is that after a slide, the jacket will have given its all, and will need to be replaced.  Given the price of this jacket, you could afford quite a number of slides, buying a brand new jacket each time, and still manage to save a decent amount of cash.  

Though this jacket is jet-black, there is an ample reflective strip on the front of the jacket, and a smaller reflective piping on the back.
My personal preference would have been to have as much reflective material on the back as on the front.  The reflective material is black to match the jacket, and is non-apparent until it reflects a light source (oddly, in the photo below, there must have been some stray light that lit up a small section of the reflective strip). 
The reflective material is not as prominent as on my BMW Airflow jacket, and neither of those jackets can hold a candle to the Corazzo 5.0 with its copious, yet nicely designed, reflective striping back, front and side.
Comfort and convenience:

The Viking Cycle Stealth jacket has two exterior zippered pockets that are well-positioned, and suitable for  keeping your hands warm off the bike on a cool day, and to keep cash or coins handy for tolls.
There is also an interior zippered slash pocket just behind the zipper on the left side. I like pockets like this.  My Corazzo 5.0 has one, but my BMW Airflow doesn't. They're a handy place for my iPhone, when it's not in a RAM mount.  The photo below doesn't do a good job of conveying exactly where this pocket is, or how accessible it is.  Check out the video above, since it does a better job of showing off that pocket.
There are two more pockets in the interior of the vest liner, one on the left side designed to hold a cell phone with a hook-and-loop closure....
... and the other on the right side suitable for a wallet or passport with a vertical zippered closure.

The Viking Cycle Stealth jacket came with a removable quilted vest-style liner. The jacket I got for this review did not come with a full sleeve waterproof liner, but the seller's website says that one is normally included.
Overall impression:
The Viking Cycle Stealth jacket is a decent armored jacket, it's inexpensive, it fits very snugly, so much so, as mentioned, that it's just a tiny bit of a struggle getting into it.  The sleeves are designed for the riding position, with a natural curvature from the shoulder to where your hands would be on the handlebars.

Once on, the jacket is comfortable and the armor is well positioned on the arms and shoulders.  The sleeves are snug and there are hook-and-loop adjusting straps that allow the sleeves to be snugged up even more, and there are also hook-and-loop adjustment straps at the waist.
The impression the jacket leaves is that the armor is likely to stay put in a crash.
 So there you have it.

I'll revisit this jacket early in the 2015 riding season and share how it performs on the bike.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Motorcycle House

If I could find a way, I'd figure out how to make a living as a writer.

The odd thing about that statement is, I actually have made a very nice life by writing. That's mostly what lawyers do. The only rub is, it's all too often a stress-inducing affair, and the writing lawyers do lacks, well, appeal.

When I started the ScootCommute my only thought was to provide a public service of sorts, if anyone could find me, of course.

Well, find me they did.  Many more people found me than I ever thought possible.  Still, to cast the ScootCommute in its broadest category, it's a moto blog.  That is a very, very, very narrow slice of the internet pie. The saving grace is that the internet is very, very, very, very, very big, and it's still growing by leaps and bounds. Even a minuscule insignificant crumb off a teeny tiny slice is something.  Like the Earth is, in relation to the known universe.

The ScootCommute has allowed me to practice writing in new ways.  In a more relaxed conversational style.  As a story teller, rather than as a compeller of things yet to pass.  In a way that people may actually read because my writing is tolerable. Not because my preface was 'without prejudice'.

Among the folks who have taken notice are publicists eager to get their products noticed beyond manufacturers' and e-retailers' web sites, in the vast uncharted sea of social media.

And that's how Motorcycle House came to me, as it also came knocking on other bloggers' virtual doors, offering products to review.

I took my time deciding whether reviewing products was something that made sense for me, and for the ScootCommute.

Oh, right.  I have reviewed products.  Lots of products.  Just check out the gear posts. The thing is though, I bought 99% of those products, or received them as gifts from friends and family. I was free to say what I wanted about them, unfettered by any kind of quid pro quo.

I treasure the creative freedom I have here, and I don't want to sacrifice it just to get my hands on some free products.  I also don't want to waste sponsors' time. They have a business to run, and they have needs too.  Last, but far from least, there is you. I don't want to disappoint you.  Whatever I decide to write about, I want you to appreciate my words.  I want you to come away with something you'll value.  After all, a blog without regular readers is just a waste of bits and bytes.

In the spirit of the ScootCommute, after deliberation, I am pleased to introduce you to Motorcycle House.  They have a lot to offer. Though the products they sell are primarily aimed at the cruiser crowd, even a scooterist like yours truly can find moto-happiness in their catalog.

Now that the introduction is out of the way, I'm sure that some of you will have clicked on the links to take a peek at their offerings.  I'm equally sure that some of you are wondering which products tickled my fancy.

As you know from a previous post, the answer is 'jackets'.

I love jackets.

Always have, and I think I always will. 

I've mostly been a shy-ish unassuming kind of guy.  Except when it comes to jackets.  One of the great things about riding is that I get to wear jackets.  Serious jackets.  Jackets with body armour.  Jackets that tell a story.  'I think that guy rides. Check out his jacket.'

There was a suede fleece-lined Davy Crocket jacket that saw me through junior college.  I still remember the sound and feel of the fringes as I trudged endless miles on cold cold nights.  The fringe made my thighs sting when it was really truly cold.  I know, I know, but it was the 70's.  1970 in fact.  I rode buses not Vespas back then.  The shoe leather express.  Psychedlic was in, Easy Rider was in, I was in, sort of.  I was serious about peace, love, and rock-and-roll.  My generation had broken with the past in a serious way.  We were revolutionaries, all of us.  We were the counter-culture, we were anti-establishment, man.  Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Frank Zappa, and Jefferson Airplane.  The White Album.  The blues;  Paul Butterfield, Janis Joplin, John Mayall; and serious folk; Joni Mitchell, Carol King and Leonard Cohen.  We were going to change the world.  Woodstock, weed, Vietnam; and my Davy Crocket jacket.  That, and my army jacket with the peace symbol painted on the back.  Honestly.  Those were the days.  Timothy Leary was the high priest with a simple message: tune in, turn on, drop out!  Haight Ashbury and the summer of love, my friends.  How Susan agreed to date me back then is one of life's deep mysteries.  I had hair down to my shoulders!  My god I'm lucky.

Flash forward.  The Motorcycle House jacket I really wanted was out of stock.  Wouldn't you know?

Fortunately, they have a heart of gold.   They suggested that I try another jacket.  Oh well, 'OK' I thought, but without much enthusiasm to be perfectly honest.  'What if we send you this other jacket  and when the jacket you want comes in, we'll send you that one too?'  Really?

And that's how Jacket Number One from Motorcycle House landed on my doorstep.

My next post will be a product review of Jacket Number One.

We'll see what you think.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Unbounded generosity

When Peter Sanderson reads this, he may squirm, but what the hell, when generosity is your hallmark, and you bestow a kindness on a blogger, you're going to get outed.

Those of you who have taken the time to follow Peter's blog know that when Peter commits to something, there are no half-measures.

So it was when Peter set out for an adventure on two wheels.

First Peter bought himself a gorgeous Vespa GTV. For those of you unfamiliar with Vespas, the GTV is the top-of-the-line model. It has features that hark back to vintage Vespas from the 50's and 60's: exposed chrome handlebars, and retro-styled dual saddles.

Not content to leave a beautiful bike be, Peter set to work upgrading. Among other goodies, too numerous to mention, He swapped out the stock exhaust, shock absorbers, and brakes with high-end performance parts.

In no time, Peter found a Vespa GTS for his wife (how blessed is Chantal?) so they could ride together.

They documented their rides and I was pleased to follow their adventures.

In the fullness of time, Peter and Chantal, seriously bitten by the PTW bug, upgraded to motorcycles, and more recently, have purchased matching BMW GS dual sport-bikes, all decked out for serious touring.


That left Peter with a bunch of stock Vespa odds and ends, including the OEM exhaust, and schock absorbers.

Guess what Peter did?

He sold me those precious Vespa parts for a song. And Chantal delivered them right to my front door.

That, dear friends is an act of pure generosity that will top the list for a long, long time to come.

Thank you so much Peter.

When the bike gets serviced in the spring, I think I'll swap exhausts and rid myself of the annoying loose baffle that rattles at low speeds.

Pretty cool, yes?
The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.