Early fall is prime weather for riding a motorcycle in California, and for riders lucky enough to be in the San Diego area Saturday, September 28, 2013, the Biggs Chapter of the North San Diego County Harley Owners Group is hosting the 4th Annual Indian Summer Poker Run. We’re highlighting the event, which is one of hundreds of poker runs that take place across the U.S. this time of year, because of the beautiful scenery along the ride, the great causes it supports and the focus on motorcycle safety awareness.
Linda Torres, Biggs Chapter member, said they expect 600 to 700 participants this September, and that the event gets larger every year. The ride takes bikers up the North San Diego back roads and features several great views. Another unique part of the event is called the “Roadkill Rodeo”. “We set up a situation with a large RV or semi truck, then we put motorcycles around it and let people get inside the truck or RV to show them that riders can’t be seen on a motorcycle,” Torres shares. “It’s amazing to people when they get up inside our semi that you can’t see a motorcycle that’s directly in front of it.”
The Indian Summer Poker Run also features games such as races and a helmet toss. In classic carnival style winners can receive stuffed animals or raffle tickets. The chapter has collected almost $10,000 in raffle prizes to give out at the event (including a Biker Gift Shop gift certificate, so get excited.)
Torres, who has been a member of the chapter for almost 3 years, said the main thing about the poker run is that everyone has a good time. They host a bar-be-cue lunch, give out raffle prizes and have a director’s challenge every year. They also invite a lot of military people to join the event. “Last year, the lieutenant colonel joined us and participated in the director’s challenge and actually won it,” Torres added.
Curious to learn more or interested in joining the event. Visit the Biggs Chapter of North San Diego County website to get the full details.
You probably think your motorcycle was made with attention to detail, but on a recent trip to the DIA in downtown Detroit, my family and I got to enjoy this piece of artwork.
The life-size motorcycle is carved completely out of wood. The artist was sculptor Fumio Yoshimura who created the work in 1973, and in person it looks like you could hop on, rev it up and drive past the Andy Warhol prints in the next room. Yoshimura became famous for his sculptures of tomato plants, kites, sewing machines and other very exact looking objects, but we all agreed the wooden motorcycle was his best subject, although I read he actually sculpted a full-size hot dog cart during his career!
So even if it won’t run, it sure looks pretty. (You can almost say the same thing about a lot of OCC’s creations, but anyway).
In only the last two years, thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts have joined biker social media sites in droves. No longer stuck dealing with the masses on Facebook or Twitter, bikers have their own online community, or rather a whole bunch of online communities to choose from.
There are plenty of reasons this is a good idea. It gets bikers together to share experiences, knowledge and tips, and bonus, there are almost never pictures of people’s cats. What’s not to like? And honestly we can’t always be riding with our biker pals. Sometimes a biker social network is the next best thing.
But why now?
Why are biker social networks suddenly so popular? We see four likely trends converging to create this situation.
1. First, people are buying motorcycles again. The recession is over and people have money not only for bikes but to plan trips, make repairs and more. Even CNN Money agrees: Hog Wild: Harley-Davidson sales are rolling again.
With more people investing in the lifestyle, there is naturally going to be more interest online. People want answers to questions about what bike to get, how to fix that scratch on the fender, where the best rides in North Carolina are, you name it. And then there is just the desire to talk to others who share their passion.
2. The second trend is niche social networks are big business. Not everyone can found the next Facebook, but the next Facebook for bikers ... or eco-friendly types or knitters or parents, that’s a bit more doable. And to let you see behind the curtain, marketers love the kind of targeted audience these niche social sites provide.
3. Third, the demographics of motorcycle riders are changing. Boomers, Gen X and Millennials are all riding these days and they all have their own style when using the Internet. Different biker social networks try to meet these different styles, but the bottom line is that no matter the generation, so much time is spent online that it’s natural that people would want to come together to talk about their affinity for motorcycles.
4. Fourth, biker culture is going more mainstream. From biker reality shows such as the questionable “The Devils Ride” to gritty dramas like “Sons of Anarchy”, people are interested in the biker lifestyle, and it’s affecting more than just entertainment. Fashion is making a nod as well. This fall biker jackets and vests are expected to be a popular trend even for people who have never sat on a motorcycle.
So, this is definitely a thing, for now, but you might be wondering which sites are actually worth your time. If so, read on.
Biker Social Network Sites
Let’s jump in with the true biker social media sites. These sites offer more than just a forum. They feature user profiles, photos, and multiple interactive functions. I’ll review each, but know that this is just a sample of what’s out there.
Probably the most comprehensive and well-maintained of the biker social networks I’ve tried. The interface is clean and well-designed, and the community is very welcoming to new members. Just post a greeting in the new members forum and you’ll like make 10 new friends right away. Besides an active forum, the site features public biker and motorcycle blogs, a motorcycle event calendar with events you can look up by location, photo albums and videos and an easy-to-use chat and messaging function. The site currently has around 20,000 members and growing.
First impression is that this site looks great. It also has an impressive interface and an edgy design. The forums aren’t quite as active as Cycle Fish, but it seems like this social site is growing. It appears geared most to people who want to share information and tips on rides they’ve been on. The site lets members use free personal classifieds to sell items in their profile. The community map is another great feature. It shows you a map with pictures of members that are currently online in real time. The site features a few interactive games with more planned for the future.
Sadly, HarleySpace.com is no more. Site owner James Coulbourne was sued by Harley-Davidson last year for trademark infringement, and despite putting up a pretty major legal fight, he at least at this time does not have the site up. The details if you're interested.
This site is perhaps the best at accomplishing the goal of getting bikers connected with other bikers. The Bikers Nearby feature actually displays the profiles of members in your area in the left of your screen. With a few clicks you can add them to your network. This site takes a lot of its cues from Facebook. It has a news feed, status wall, and fan pages. Speaking of ... you should all check out and friend Biker Gift Shop's Biker or Not Fan Page right now.
Done? Okay, good. Now, the site has all the expected features to let you find rides and local events. The site is also set up to work well as dating site. In fact you can’t even create a profile without giving a relationship status.
This one gets an asterisk for adult content. I saw plenty of male private parts, but no unclothed women, so don’t get too excited. Over all a little creepy and the interface could use some work, but they do have a pretty active market page if you have items to sell.
If you are planning a motorcycle tour or a weekend getaway ride, this site is an excellent planning tool and a pretty solid way to network with motorcycle riders as well. The create a map feature is one of the more unique tools. Just enter your start and finish and the site will create a map with topographical details. You are then able to share maps with friends or clubs to plan rides. Members can post and share photos and videos as well.
Biker Dating Sites
Having trouble finding enough bikers on Match.com. In that case BikerKiss.com might be the right alternative. It has a clean, easy-to-navigate design, and has plenty of features to get members a date. You put in your age and location and the site finds potential matches. Once you have your list, you can wink or message.The set-up should feel familiar to online daters with the exception that you already know for certain you have one thing in common. A great first-wipe-out-on-your-bike story.
This is a free dating site for bikers. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of some other sites, but you can chat, use the forums and get to know other biker singles.
That’s what we’ve got for now. I know there are dozens of other sites out there, and if you have another favorite site or know of some we missed contact us and we’ll update. You are also welcome to check out our store pages for a little biker shopping break from all your social networking.
Tucked into the rolling hills near Great Smoky Mountains National Park sits an 11-mile stretch of road known to many as the Tail of the Dragon. It’s legendary for its ability to test motorsport enthusiasts’ skill, whether they ride motorcycles or drive sports cars, thanks to 318 tight, winding turns in rapid succession. There was even a novel written in 2012 about this thing.
The point is, it’s not a challenge to take lightly. Many riders and drivers have met misfortune on this road either because of mistakes or just plain bad luck, and the road isn’t a track. If you wipe out it can take an ambulance 20 minutes just to get to you, and there’s no cell phone reception to call them anyway. And that’s assuming you don’t slide off the hill into the brush where they can’t find you at all.
So, Tail of the Dragon is famous, it’s dangerous, and bestows bragging rights on those who make it through. Obviously it had been on my bucket list for a while. So when the opportunity to ride Tail of the Dragon presented itself last fall, I was in.
The cool early November day was warmed by a bright sun that quickly burned off the area’s signature smoky fog. At 10 a.m. I arrived in Maryville, Tennessee, to pick up a black and chrome Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic from Smoky Mountain Harley-Davidson and was on the road by 11 a.m. They like their Harley’s in Tennessee, and the expansive store was a clear sign. It had a rustic country theme with a restaurant in back and a concert venue in the parking lot!
But what I really remember is the bike. With this Harley, you just hop on, flip the switch and start it up. It had a passive start feature that allowed me keep the key in my pocket and just press a button, and once I pressed it, I got that great engine revving rumble. I was unfortunately unable to get my own bike to the trail at the time, but as rentals go, this was a winner. In case you haven’t picked it up yet, I love Harley Davidson. It’s a true iconic American brand, and bonus, if something happens to your bike for whatever reason (breaks down, crashes, wipes out, gets hit by a deer. . .) there’s almost always a dealership nearby. But I’m getting off topic.
Now, Tail of the Dragon is in the middle of nowhere, so traffic is light. But this is a real section of Highway 129 through Deal’s Gap, North Carolina, and it’s not uncommon for the uninitiated truck driver to mistakenly attempt what they think is a shortcut with their rigs. This adds to the excitement, and you should watch out just in case.
The road borders Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so you get pristine views of thick forest all around. Also because there is no development along the road, there’s no risk of someone pulling out of a driveway.
The road was repaved as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but looking down you’ll see the fresh pavement already scrapped and scarred from the wrecks of the unlucky. The scars in the blacktop should remind you to be careful and not to ride outside your limits. I probably scrapped my footboards on each and every one of the 318 turns.
It was a little intimidating at first once I started the ride because a lot of people take the road really fast. I was getting passed by people who knew what they were doing; it was probably the tenth time that day they’d driven Tail of the Dragon. On your first time, you want to be cautious to get a feel for things. I read all the warnings about taking the corner too fast, drifting into the other lane and being hit by a tractor trailer. But at the same time there’s a strong desire to keep up. You don’t want to be a pace car for the guy behind you, slowing him down and spoiling his fun, but you also don’t want to drive off the side of the mountain.
Another thing that stands out from the ride is how scenic it is. At the Tail of the Dragon Overlook at the top of the mountain, everybody stops to enjoy the view. The scenery is beautiful. When you’re riding, you’re trying to take it all in, but it’s very technical at the same time.
From the North: It’s 27.6 miles to Tabcat Creek bridge (the north end of the Dragon), so if you’re on a cruiser, just ride there from wherever you’re staying. If you’re trailering down from the North there are many places along the lake to park. My favorite is across from the Harley Davidson seasonal outpost at US 129 and Tallahasse Rd. There’s a large parking lot for trailers accessing the lake right across the street. That’s where I’d stop. It’s before the Chilhowee Dam, but there are still many places to pull off before you start the run if you miss it. Calderwood highway runs along a peaceful tree-lined lake.
When to go:
Any time when there isn’t snow on the ground can be a good time to visit Tail of the Dragon. I found a weekday in early November to be a great time. It was quiet, peaceful, in the 60s and sunny. There’s still fall color on the trees, but it’s easier to see through the turns. There aren’t wet leaves on the ground to slip on. However, going in fall is a roll of the dice because when I was there for example there was a frost advisory that night. Like most places in the middle of the U.S. if you don’t like the weather, just wait a day. Spring, summer, and fall are all good times to go.
After crossing the Tennessee border and arriving at Deals Gap, North Carolina, you can stop, fill up gas and buy a t-shirt. There’s actually a motorcycle resort if you want to spend the night and run the Dragon again the next day. There’s a restaurant there and two different t-shirt places.
From Deals Gap you can either head east or south. If you head east on US 28, you go towards the Fontana Dam along the southern edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and along the lakes which are just as scenic and picturesque as on the north side. You can keep heading east all the way to Cherokee and back into the park or to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I went east on US 28, headed south on US 143 to Robinsville, NC, and then went back north to make a big loop.
In six hours I rode 160 miles stopping frequently for photos along the way. It was a great day and I can’t wait to go back.
The speed limit used to be 55, but if you tried to take a corner at that speed, you wouldn’t survive the first turn. They say it’s been more heavily patrolled recently, but the day I was there I didn’t see one police officer. You still need to watch out for traffic. I got stuck behind a Budget rental van pulling a Dodge Caliber for a mile before it pulled off to let four bikes and a Focus pass. There’s just no way for longer vehicles to stay in their lane on the switchbacks, so be careful around blind corners. For me it was annoying more than anything, but thankfully there are many pull offs along the 11 miles of switchbacks. Glad I didn’t get surprised in a corner coming the other way.
There is a lot of great info at tailofthedragon.com.
You can also get gear to improve your trip on our shop pages.
It’s cold out, but so what? If there’s no snow or ice on the ground then riding in temperatures in the 40s can be its own kind of thrill. Just be sure you have the right gear for the job. The first step you’ll want to take is making sure your motorcycle is equipped with heated handgrips. When your hands are sticking out in front of you taking the full force of the wind, they will feel like they are experiencing temperatures as much as 20 degrees colder than what it reads on the thermometer. Besides being unpleasant, this can also be dangerous if it causes your hands to lose dexterity and control of the throttle. Heating elements work best when they are built into the grips themselves. Along the same line, heated seats can be a good way to make sliding onto a chilly bike a bit more bearable. Look for seats that are designed for your bike’s make and model for the most comfortable fit.
Now that your bike is warmed up, its time to warm up yourself. Heated vests and heated jacket liners are popular gear choices for riders wishing to extend the riding season. They work similarly to electric blankets. For power these electric vests and jackets hook into your bike’s battery with a wiring harness and produce heat by passing current through wires in the garment. You’ll want to wear these items over clothing and be sure to seal off wind. It’s also important to remember to look for synthetic clothing when choosing a base layer. You may think you won’t be sweating when it’s 40 degrees out, but with all your heated clothing pumping out the warmth, you don’t want to have a wet base layer when you do cool down. Heated gear is only effective if the heat can stay near your body, so a dry base layer is essential. Before getting completely suited up in heated gear, however, be sure to check that your bike’s battery can handle the added electricity needs.
A balaclava that covers your entire face except for the eyes can be worn under your helmet for extra wind protection. Neoprene masks are another great option. They come in a wide variety of colors, designs and sizes and will keep your face and neck warm and dry. Overpants are a good way to keep your legs warm and some versions will also keep the rain and sleet. Electric heated pants that work the same way as the vests and jackets are also an option.
For more options for bikers in the winter check out "Bikers, Winter Doesn’t Have to Suck: What to Do When It’s Too Cold to Ride Your Motorcycle".
The Progressive International Motorcycle Show was in the Detroit area last weekend, and the fam and I decided to check it out. Because of the icy roads and falling snow, no one was actually riding their motorcycles to get there. But despite the weather, the place was packed - with people and motorcycles. If you’re in the market for a new bike, I highly recommend the show, which is basically a glorified commercial for all of the brands there. And there are a lot. Harley Davidson, BMW, Honda, Triumph, Indian, Yamaha, Ducati, Victory, Kawasaki, Suzuki; pretty much everyone is there with their latest models.
Like last year, the J&P Cycles Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show was the highlight of the show for me. Here are a few of my favorites from the contest.
"Fat Ass Bagger" - a Custom 2003 Harley Davidson FLHTSI
"Bastard Deluxe" - A Custom Motorcycle from the Progressive International Motorcycle Show
"Checkmate" - A custom 2011 Harley Davidson FLHX
"El Vaquero" - A custom Honda GL 1000 Gold Wing motorcycle
Another high point from this year’s show was seeing the PJD Armed Forces Honor bike. As a fairly loyal American Chopper viewer, I saw the episode where Paul Jr. built that bike, and it was a totally different experience seeing it in person. The detail on that thing was really incredible. I was also struck by how big it is. I actually felt a little bad about making fun of it in my blog a few months ago. It is far more impressive in person than on TV. We did our best to capture the moment in photos, but it’s one of those things where I guess you have to be there.
Paul Jr. Designs "Armed Forces" chopper for GEICO as seen on "American Chopper"
The show is still traveling, and they have a lot more information on their website than I care to go into here. http://www.motorcycleshows.com/
On this episode of American Chopper, Rick ties the knot, Jr. rocks a faux hawk and Sr. drives a dump truck through the wall to make room for his new restaurant. But perhaps the biggest surprise of the episode came before the show even got started. We are no longer watching “American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior” - According to the opening credits and my DVR, it’s just “American Chopper” again. Does this mean we’re still watching Season 4, or is this Season 7 of the old “American Chopper”, or should we just simplify things and call it Season 10?
Whatever season this is, there was plenty going on. It starts out with Sr. still pushing for a joint project between OCC and PJD for charity. Jr. (probably correctly) sees this as a recipe for trouble given that the two are still not able to have a conversation without breaking into an argument. Even though Jr. seems pretty firm about his decision, it’s hard to ignore the dramatic irony in an episode titled “The Build is On.” My guess is we haven’t heard the last on this topic.
Regardless, OCC isn’t waiting around. They are busy building a bike for themselves to promote their new OCC cafe, with plans to open up three such theme cafes. At first the concept seemed a little random. But after some thought, I realized the idea is a riff on the Hard Rock Cafe only they will have choppers on display instead of music memorabilia. Could be fun and definitely better than keeping all their bikes in a warehouse collecting dust.
PJD gets back to its roots doing another bike for their first customer, GEICO. Instead of a gecko theme, however, this motorcycle is to promote GEICO’s military department. Mike Baker, director of the Military Marketing Department for GEICO dubs it the Armed Forces Tribute Bike. I would like to point out that unlike a lot of the companies that PJD and OCC build motorcycles for, a bike for GEICO actually makes a bit of sense because they sell motorcycle insurance. It makes a bit more sense than, for example, the My Pillow bike last season. (Although, My Pillow must be doing well after American Chopper because I can’t turn on the TV without seeing their infomercial lately.)
The GEICO marketing team does their usual debrief on what the bike’s design should communicate once complete. They want it to say “honor” and “sacrifice” to those who see it. Well, Jr. took that quite literally. The design has “HONOR” in comic-book style letters right across the gas tank. I’m not sure if that’s quite what the marketing guys were asking for, but I guess they can’t complain.
Now be honest, who wasn’t expecting a bit more drama at Rick’s wedding. He had a ceremony at the Mountain Springs Lake Resort in Reeders, Pennsylvania and invited everyone from OCC and PJD to join. I didn’t think Sr. and Jr. would be yelling and throwing chairs at the reception or anything, but I was surprised that those two were able to exchange a little polite small talk and keep it at that. Maybe Sr. vs. Jr. really is at an end.
In the absence of chair throwing, I had to entertain myself by admiring the full sleeve and collar tattoos on Rick’s new wife, Brittany Petko.
And as expected, before the episode’s end, Jr. rode his Nike swoosh flat black Camaro over to his dad’s house and said that he changed his mind and would like to try restoring a bike together.
As gas prices creep up around the $4 or even $5 mark, the impressive MPG numbers of your motorcycle begin to look better and better. Commuting on a motorcycle sounds like smart way to save money, but before we make a decision let’s take a look at the numbers.
Total Motorcycle has a great tool to find the fuel economy of motorcycles and scooters from modern bikes to those dating all the way back to the ‘30s.
Modern cruisers have a wide range in fuel economy, but your typical Harley-Davidson cruiser will get around 42 mpg and a sport bike can get fuel economy as good as 50 or 60 mpg depending on engine size.
Now compare that to your average modern sedan which will get a combined fuel economy of around 29 mpg or your average small truck with a combined fuel economy around 19 mpg, and the motorcycle begins to look like a bargin.
For more exact calculations of your particular car, fuel economy numbers on almost any modern vehicle are available at fueleconomy.gov.
At this point it might seem like commuting on a motorcycle is a no-brainer for saving money, but there are several more things to consider before you hop on a motorcycle and head to the office.
The majority of Americans commute 20 miles or fewer each day to work and work around 21 days in a month. (Commuting statistics are available at the United States Department of Transportation website. Assuming gas costs $4, that adds up to about $58 a month or $695 a year when driving the sedan. If you were driving the sport bike getting 50 mpg, your commuting gas bill would be only $34 a month or $403 a year, a savings of $292.
This is a decent savings if you were planning on having a motorcycle anyway, but if you add in the cost of the bike ($5000+/-), the insurance ($250), a jacket ($200), yearly maintenance ($100) and helmet ($100) then buying a motorcycle just to save gas money doesn’t add up for most people unless you plan on replacing your car with one.
But what about the super commuters, the 8 percent of the country who commute 70 or more miles a day. The yearly cost of gas for the sedan is $2433 and for the 50 mpg bike it is only $1411. That is savings of $1022. If you can keep your bike running for enough years, you will eventually come out ahead once it is paid off.
Now, money isn’t everything, and if your goal is to burn less gasoline to help cut back on our country’s consumption of oil, then a motorcycle is 100 percent going to do that versus a standard car or truck. The point is to take a moment to do the math for your particular situation. For many people commuting on a motorcycle is about enjoying the ride, having fun on the way to work. The fact that it gets great fuel economy is just an added bonus.
Leather jackets are instantly associated with motorcycle riding, and it's not hard to figure out why. Not only do they keep your skin from scraping against the pavement when you have an accident, but they also have the ability to make almost anyone instantly cooler. Check out this kid, if you don't believe me.
But not all leather jackets are created equal. A true motorcycle jacket is a purpose-built piece of equipment, so for those new to riding or for those who what to see if their current jacket is tough enough for the job, read on for an overview of optimum jacket design. (Important note: they don't necessarily have to be made of leather.)
Don't Wear This
It may be tempting to grab any leather jacket from your closet, but a fashion leather jacket simply wasn't built for the road. The leather on a regular jacket is thinner and won't hold up properly against abrasion in an accident. It is also likely to be open at the neck, sleeves and waist, allowing wind to rush in and make for a chilly ride, not to mention the puffed up appearance you're likely to have.
Keeping Out the Wind
A true motorcycle jacket is built with the rushing wind of riding in mind. The main zipper has a flap that can be buttoned down to stop wind from blowing in or snaps near the collar. The sleeves should also have adjusters to cinch tight around the wrist. Many jackets also have adjusters around the waist in the form of laces, elastic, snaps or Velcro. This provides a snug fit against the wind and also allows for adding and taking away under layers depending on the weather.
The Right Cut
One of the qualities that makes a motorcycle jacket easy to recognize is the unique cut. The sleeves are lengthened and rotated forward to form to the riding position. The material behind the rider's shoulders is wider to accommodate better movement despite the thick leather. This is referred to as the action back. (It's also a great place to put patches for a motorcycle club.)
The back is also often cut lower that the front to keep it from slipping up in an accident and provide protection to the rider's kidneys.
Because when you are riding you'll probably want to carry all your most important items on you, a good jacket will have no shortage of pockets. Everything from keys, earplugs, and loose change to a tire gauge or extra gloves may need somewhere to call home. Most pockets zip shut to keep things from flying off and ideally will be covered by storm flaps to keep the rain from coming in through the zipper. You will want to look for an inner pocket for storing your wallet and cell phone.
Temperature and Weather Changes
An advantage of leather is that it is naturally porous which allows it to breathe in addition to being abrasion resistant. However, it is not great at providing warmth, so most jackets come with a liner for insulation in cooler temperatures. When temperatures rise, controllable vents that open to let in air make a jacket more comfortable. The vents should have mesh backing to keep out bugs. Slits are often located by the chest, forearms or back, but you may have to take them off to reach some of them. Despite leather's versatility, it is not great in the rain. Unless it has been treated, leather can turn stiff and discolored. And on the hottest days, a black leather jacket is often the last thing you want to wear. In these cases, textile jackets made of synthetic materials such as nylon, can be the answer.
Jackets made of nylon are petroleum based and therefore resistant to moisture. Water can still come in thorough the weave of fibers, so a waterproof yet breathable liner made of a material like Gore-Tex can provide the added protection needed. For hot days textile jackets can often be lighter and more comfortable for summer riding because the weave thickness comes in different varieties.
Nylon jackets have many great advantages, but don't forget that they are made from petroleum and can melt if exposed to extreme heat, such as from your engine or exhaust pipe. Even the heat of friction during a fall may cause melting.
Whatever motorcycle jacket you choose, it's important to remember that any jacket is better than no jacket in an accident, but a well-built, abrasion-resistant jacket is going to save a lot more of your skin.
On the final two weeks of American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior Season Three, OCC is asked to build an Italian sports car-themed chopper for a mysterious foreigner who wishes to remain anonymous (we’re thinking either Enzo Ferrari’s son, Piero, or maybe one of the Bond villains), and PJD attempts to build a saw-themed bike without using any saw blades.
At OCC we get our first glimpse of the Italian sports car bike in the design phase because Jason finally learned how to provide mechanical drawings with a proper three section view. Rick asks the question we and everyone else has come to expect. He wants to know if this a rideable bike? Is it? It is one of their more ambitious undertakings with extensive sheet metal and body styling, so despite working on the bike for an entire episode there is still a lot to complete.
At PJD, Dave Howard, director of brand management for Skil Power Tools wants an iconic American chopper for an iconic American brand. Apparently iconic is the word of the day, boys and girls. Skilsaw Inc. made a name for themselves in the 1920s when their saws became the standard. The chopper was commissioned to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the 77. The worm drive 77 is a type of drive that moves slowly but can produce a lot of torque.
Originally an iconic American brand, Skil was sold to Bosch in 1996, and their offices are now in Breda, Netherlands.
After getting the lowdown on the Skilsaw, the team at PJD gets working on the design, and Jr. actually does a sketch ahead of time! But while the audience is envisioning how awesome those saw blade motorcycle wheels are going to look, Jr. drops this bomb on us, “We don’t want to use saw blades.” He doesn’t want to be too “propy”. Excuse me, but isn’t this the same design team that put a big shovel and pickaxe on the side of the call-before-you-dig bike?
But they find other ways to make the bike exciting. The exhaust pipes wrap horizontally around the engine into a manifold between the notch of the V-twin. There are three outlet pipes angled up to collect rainwater when the bike is parked. Jr. says the the exhaust will be the “coolest ever.” We think the exhaust is literally going to be the hottest exhaust they've ever built.
The gas tank is positioned high on the Skilsaw bike is so that you have to lean on the tank to ride it (unlike the sports car bike). Jr. adds an inlay emblem into the fuel tank, which took 75 hours of machining, that the guys describe as "INSANE". It’s on the impressive side, we’re not going to lie.
A little later at Jr's house, Jr. is frustrated by Sr's reaction to their last off camera meeting. He feels that the "Sr. vs Jr. thing is totally played out". Jr. calls Sr. to setup a meeting, this time with cameras rolling.
Part 2 picks up where Part 1 left off (go figure). At OCC it’s Italian sports car bike day 14, yes 14, and the paint still hasn’t dried. Sr. gets into the act and helps a bit more than usual, but he might be out of practice because he accidentally burns off part of Mike’s mustache while doing some welding. Mike is later seen dancing with a tape measure. Are these events related? We like to think so.
After the 14 days Sr. still thinks the bike "got done in a short amount of time". considering all of the sheet metal work and intense fabrication involved. With this bike there is more fabrication than ever because of the intricate angular sheet metal. Beyond that and the red paint job, it is a clean design without a lot of extra ornamentation. Though the bike is meant to be ridden, the fuel tank will only hold 2 gallons of gas, so it’s not for long drives on the coast of Capri. I think a real Ferrari would burn through that much fuel just on the straightaway.
Sr. takes a test drive and looks a bit odd on the chopper. The bike is intentionally low, so it looks funny with a big guy like Sr. in an upright riding position. It looked almost like a cartoon bike, something out of Nintendo's Mario Kart.
Maybe Sr. and Jr. should swap frame designs.
At PJD the guys put the finishing touches on the Skilsaw bike. The chopper uses the saw housing as the air cleaner, and it blends with the engine cover nicely. And we finally see how they build a Skilsaw bike without using sawblades - they give it worm drive wheels. Jr. says they are his favorite wheels ever. A lot of superlatives for this bike.
We also get a sad goodbye from Mikey. Though it had been building for the last three episodes, it was still another sign of change to see him go. He packed up some books and an easel, threw them in his truck and was off to live a quiet life of painting with pasta sauce, or something.
Before the Skilsaw bike unveil in Las Vegas, they attempt to turn on the bike and get worried when the first two times it fails to start. As we’re about to start making jokes about how they should have spent fewer hours machining the badges and more building an engine that actually runs, it finally roars to life with a sound to send all area lawn mowers off to cower in their sheds.
After the unveil it’s finally time for Jr. and Sr. to have their on camera meeting to figure out if the “vs.” in the show’s title is still accurate.
Jr. meets Sr. at the OCC building and both are visibly nervous and make several awkward attempts at breaking the awkwardness, but after settling into the conference room, it takes a surprisingly short amount of time for them to start arguing and the awkwardness all melts away. They are able to carry out a conversation without throwing chairs or yelling at each other, but as I don’t have a psychology degree I’m not going to try to dissect the conversation too much except to say that Jr. accepted Sr.’s apology and they left the possibility open of doing things together in the future.
The scene cuts away and when we come back, the TV lets us know two days have passed. Sr. gives Jr. a call with a suggestion. Would he like to build a bike together for charity? Jr. ponders for about a minute, opens his mouth and... cut to black. Guess we’ll have to see what happens next season.