Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Godfather of Motorcycles

This is Floyd Garrett, without him I probably would not even be writing this blog. Many people have helped in my journey through the motorcycle community. There are countless individuals before Floyd and many enablers that came after. But Floyd is a Rosetta stone into the world of motorcycling for me. Without Floyd I'd just be another motorcyclist, biker or nothing.

In the beginning he introduced me to Jim Fraser, a fellow Velocette Owner that also rode BMWs. At Belknap he introduced me to Dave Roper and countless others. Wherever I rode with him, I was amazed at the people he knew or introduced me to. Whenever I had a mechanical question or just wanted to talk to a person with sage advice, Floyd was there. Fondly I can hear him say to me 'oh?..... you've got ROCKS in your head!' When I would do something foolish without forethought. And the truth is that I do have rocks in my head! But that's another story....

Within the first years of knowing Floyd, with his help, I became a motorcyclist and a mechanic that some might even say is first rate. Many a night I would call and ask about how or what or even who, if he didn't have an answer he knew who I should talk to. Every phone call is always the feeling of the student talking to the master. Not a mastery of just motorcycles but how to live as a peaceful human being. My spirit of motorcycling grew and the knowledge came to me. History and knowledge are always the central theme. Even as I write this, I know that Floyd will hear what has been said and I will know he has!
Also central to my education is Floyd's 1946 Velocette MAC. Floyd had done several road trips across America with his 46' MAC. His Velo has been there mile after mile; many a tale can be heard over a coffee or a ramblings at a show. MAC is the central motorcycle in all of Floyd's tales. I would spend many hours examining MAC and the patina that has developed. It's not everyday you can ask the owner where every dent, scratch or whatnot came from. This is a rare experience that few can stop to absorb in daily living. My first motorcycle road trip out of the U.S. was with Floyd. We had gone up to Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia to the Vintage TT at the Atlantic Motorsport Park on 2004. The races no longer run, but I can say that I've gone and been there.

At my first ride with Floyd to Auburn Elks motorcycle show, I was so excited to join in a ride with Floyd that I rode 60 miles in the rain to his house even though the show was about 18 miles from my house in the other direction. It was my first real ride with other motorcyclists. The rain came down steady on that first ride ; as I rode on to be at Floyd's by 7:30AM. When I arrived at Floyd's house, we waited for the other riders. I must have looked like a drowned rat! But to be part of this, my first ride, was just a slice or rapture and sublime; rain was all part of it and the true experience of the ride. After a few minutes of standing around the chill set into my bones. I'd stand in uncomfortable positions to keep the wet clothes off my legs. Floyd looked at me and asked if I'd like a rain suit for the ride. But to show that I was a true biker and that I was worthy, I declined. When the chill got good and damn cold, I asked if I could use the suit (it be warmer in a rain suit than just wet clothes!). Floyd went into the house and shortly appeared with a bright yellow rain slicker that a fisherman might wear. Upon seeing this Bright visible monstrosity appear from the depths of the house I rescinded the decision to use it. Floyd looked at me in a calm and gentlemanly way and said 'John, put the rain suit on'. A turning point within my motorcycling experience. Always wear the appropriate riding kit!
There are many other like tales; Floyd always could do so much with so little. He could make that little MAC look effortless. He may have been riding 55mph in a 60mph zone but in the twisty roads he could keep MAC at 55mph in the 30's mph! Always a consistent in his meter. At his camp in NH, He could make a stew that would chase the chill right from your bones. Floyd is my Godfather of Motorcycling, a educator, a true New Englander

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Autumn Autobahn

There's alot to be said about New England driving and riding but when it comes to the best season autumn wins hands down. You really feel alive rolling down an uncharted back road, top down and just enveloped in the moment. Fond memories of gear oil and Triumphs and MGAs as the leaves were falling in the crisp woodsmoke scented air. Watching stonewalls and oak trees glide by as the glorious engine drones a power note.

Here are a few pictures of the perfect modern all around autumn roller. This is a 1994 Mazda Miata that belongs to a good friend of mine. It'll get you all the sensations a crisp British sports car of the day- without all of the niggling British problems. With a 1.8l engine- bolt action, manual steering for crisp response at all times:, a basic no trouble machine. All of the mods he's decided on have been spot on; suspension, brakes, sway bars, extra gauges and nice sneakers.
These pictures are right after I installed his Hard Dog roll bar. The install took a bit longer than I thought it would, but some things just can't be rushed. Hard Dog could used a little more time with a tech writer for their install PDF. On the other hand they definitely took good time to create a solid product. Welds are spot on an fit is right on, allowances are good too (nothing is perfect in every chassis). If you install measure three times and cut slowly. You really need to have a small 90 degree drill setup and good sharp drills.
Its too bad that I'm not as good with working with the carpet material. Would love to make it perfect in every way. He'll get it right, he always does! enjoy the pictures! And if you like the pics, try your hand at a Miata just a great little machine!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Getting to grips with Clip Ons

Its taken a few years to get to this point, but the first sets are done! Living in a hole in the wall and in New England modified BMW parts are not very accessible. If you want it, then you've got to make it. These are my home made Bars for any 1970 to 1988 BMW twins with nickel plating rather than chrome. The nickel gives it a more 'traditional' look of old world BMW quality. Not that any of the post 1970 BMW have any similarity with the hand built pre 1969 BMWs.

This is theR75/5 Woody bike sporting the original prototype bars [P1]. The drop was fine but the offset caused the original BMW switches to strike the tank. Not a real big problem as the first machine was a run and bump but it would get your attention when the horn would sound!
Another, but not great view of the prototype set. The wing nut?, that was the ignition switch for the Woody bike.
This is the Hot Rod sporting the second prototype bars [P2]. As you can see from this picture, the posture is not as radical as one might think. I'm 5'6" and the bars are quite comfortable for the good 150+ mile ride. The drop is the same as the [P1] bars but the offset is just forward of the fork tubes. This gives the clearance for using Stock BMW switch gear.
A side view of the Hot Rod with [P2] bars. I'll be starting on the next Hot Rod machine for the Nickel plated bars!