Friday, December 17, 2010


I haven't posted in three months. That's terrible. It doesn't, however, mean I haven't driven in three months. Until mid-October I was able to take the Beast to work. Then the first snow arrived.
Early this year, said those who'd know.
Well, it melted, and for another two weeks I was, at least partially, able to commute on two wheels. Then for another two weeks I reduced my riding to the weekends, before the snow came to stay. Our last tour was short, one hour, crisscrossing the Appenzells. It was cold too.
The next morning my driveway was snowed over.
This morning it looked thusly:

Oh yeah, allow me to introduce my guardian angel of winter: Bacchus. A '97 Dodge Dakota, nearly 100,000 km, average gas mileage 20 liters per 100 km. A treasure.
The V8 is joy to listen to, but after four weeks of abstinence, the longest I've ever gone without taking the Beast out, has me skittish and getting impatient.
Please go away after Christmas, snow. All I want for Christmas is a 10°C weather forecast for the mountain.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Customer service, capitalized

Monday morning at 6 a.m. the Beast rolled out with torn drive belt. Ronny’s words from the previous Sunday were fresh in my mind: “Keep an eye on that; it’s not going to last much longer.”

I shouldn’t even complain, because 34’410 kilometers on a single belt is a record for me. So far they’ve ripped at 18 and 20 thousand klicks, respectively. But 12 kilometers from home and a good 70 from work, I couldn’t help feeling a little frustrated. Even more so when I discovered that the nearest Harley dealership, where Buell Assistance had my bike taken, was closed on Mondays.

I called them Tuesday morning and discovered that they didn’t have drive belts in stock. An “urgent” order placement would only have the belt there on Friday.

Five days without my motorcycle – factually without transport? I was half-panicked when I called my mechanic in Zurich to ask if they had a belt in stock. And as so often, they were my salvation. They had a belt, and they’d send someone out to the dealership in Weinfelden with it. I could pick up the Beast that evening.

Proof again that I have the best Harley mechanic in the entire world.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Metal side down

August 25-29 August: Alpengrollen, yearly Buell meet in the mountains.
I put the fairly detailed record of the meet on MySpace; this is here is a wreckage recording. Which isn't as bad as it sounds, because the Beast still lives. I'm bruised and it's scarred, but this isn't a case of having to procure my fourth Buell in my fourth year of motorcycle driving.


And after.
On August 30, I discovered that the Pirelli Angel ST tire is useless after 6500 km on a wet road. It still had plenty of profile; I wasn't even down to the minimum marks. And the road wasn't flooded; just a little damp (and nearly dry ten minutes later).
The Angel flew off, and it took the Beast and me thirty meters of sliding before we hit gravel and stopped. Now I kinda know what GP pilots feel like.
And a Buell looks like this after 30 meters of sliding on its side:

Squashed manifold.

Bent rear brake lever and scratched belt tensioner which can be rotated by hand now. I had that on Silver; it's not serious.

A badly bent handlebar which we replaced that same day with a carbon-look cross bar. I realize, though, that I'm oging to need a superbike handlebar sooner or later, because on long rides my shoulders really notice my lower, wider, farther forward sitting position.
Also, for the, oh, fifth or sixth time I'll need new Rizoma grips and bar ends. The Pazzo brake lever is ordered and will be replaced on Friday.
The frame puck is half sheared away but the frame is completely unscathed. I'm beginning to wonder if there's any way to put frame pucks on a colored frame without ruining the color concept, because I'm really worried about anything happening to Silver...
A dreadfully scratched and sheared swingarm, which I've sprayed black to hide the marks from casual glances. The rear pulley is dented and scratched too and isn't perfectly aligned anymore, but the belt doesn't strafe and I won't replace it just yet.

Beat up front spoiler.

But the Beast still lives, and we've added 1000 km since then.
On Friday it'll go in for its 32,000 km service - at over 33,000, but no matter. The Pazzo lever and the righthand frame puck will be replaces; the Angel gets replaced with a Continental Road Attack. (I do believe I'm settling on a favorite tire.) For financial reasons I'm going to leave the handlebar and Rizomas as is for now, unless they happen to have an LSL in stock just then. Come Saturday the Termignoni with its manifold will be mounted, thanks to Ronny, so that nasty dented piping will disappear too. Whenever I've got extra money I'll invest in new foot levers, probably from Pfeffi, the belt tensioner and rear pulley from Free Spirits and all the Rizoma shinies for up front.

I made it through a year with no crashes or problems and now this Buell is showing scars too. It's a pity, but at 33,000 km it's not a disgrace.

Monday, July 26, 2010

First steps

Not two weeks had passed since I'd brought Silver up to Keppi and dumped the entire wreck into his competent hands. He didn't even wait for the first payment to come in before getting to work.
We still have no idea how the machine is supposed to look finished, but I think it's off to a good start.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bike transport by station wagon

Last weekend Silver, wreck sind September 20, 2008, finally came out into the daylight again. Keppi, a Buell customizer in Germany's Hallertau, 45 minutes northeast of Munich, will resurrect it. But in order to do that, I had to get it to him.
Since Silver was half disassembled and the front wheel was removed, Dad said it'd be smartest to load it into the back of his Skoda Octavia station wagon, instead of using Uncle Andy's trailer and having me drive to Germany with a trailer.
Aleks was kind enough to show up at 6 p.m. sharp, and with his help the loading went precisely as planned, to my immense surprise.
Guys are great to have around.
But Silver wasn't the only thing that needed to get to Keppi. I had a 12er engine in the back of the Bonnie that needed to go to. The transfer plan for that took almost more discussion than the loading of Silver had.
I wasn't much of a help, even I do look like I'm saying something really important.

Consider all options...
After all, a 1202 ccm Thunderstorm Motor is pretty big and heavy.

But guys are good at that sort of thing, and the engine joined the bike for a cozy and safe ride up to Germany.

Guys are awesome.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Gray, rainy, not very warm - not really biking weather, but about 30 Buells found their way into a backwater town in the Allgäu, southern Germany. Peffi, maker of beautiful things like filigrane gear shifters and machined heel guards, had extended an invitation for a Buell meet and workshop at his manufactory.
One set of Buellers, myself included, met in Wattwil. We picked up the second contingent on the border. It drizzled the entire morning. I was pleasantly surprised by the water resistance of my Rokker jeans. Except the seat and knees, they stayed dry inside. They were definitely worth the 600.- price tag.
At Pfeffi's, the first patient was soon chosen. A Zuricher's XB12 had the bad habit of running on one cylinder when the rpms fell below 3000, so it was rolled into the shop to be worked on, cursed at and talked about until the problem went away.
I didn't witness the actual repair, because as soon as the rain stopped and a rather watery looking sun appeared, half of us geared up, mounted out bikes and ook off to discover the Allgäu.
Our tour guide was an elderly gentleman, probably around 60, who drove an old Honda C500CX which was promptly christened "manure pump." I seized the position behind the leader for myself and off we went.
Byroads, narrow paths, through a forest where the Honda crawled around every curve because the roads were still wet and covered with gunk. It was pretty slow for my taste, but I figured that since this was my first time in this area driving slower wasn't so bad.
Well, after we stopped to refuel things changed. The roads were drying, and that old Honda suddenly sped off like greased lightning. Right, left, up, down - those roads are better than the ones in the Black Forest! And to top it off, I'd never have guessed that one can get that kind of handling and speed out of such an old junker of bike.
Kalle led us over a very bumpy stretch of gravel to a restaurant where we had lunch, and then the tour went on. Somewhere in there I lost my mirror, which had been loose before. A Zuger had two and very generously offered me one to use until I can get a replacement.
At the second watering hole we met up with the Buellers who'd left once both the Zuricher's cylinders ran properly. We went to refuel together, and then the entire convoy headed back along the route we'd already driven with Kalle.
Werni and I let them go and followed the Honda, whereby we learned that in the Allgäu, one can ignore "no access" signs if one doesn't mind driving a couple kilometers over the sand and pebbles of a road construction site.
We arrived at the Biker Mill, our night quarters, around 8 p.m. The roast pig was long since done being roasted over an open fire and an X11-meet was in full swing; somehow we still managed to squash all our Buells onto the gravel lot.
After beer and supper we joined the sewing machine pilots. They were showing off with burnouts, but when you've got the engine at twenty thousand rpm and it's still only humming instead of roaring, it kind of detracts from the show.
After we'd watched three burnouts Kalle suddenly appeared on his old Honda, placed it on the burn board and let that tire smoke. What had gone up in wisps from the X11s rose in swaths from the 10-year-old tire of the 500er; we got so smoked up the fire alarm went off! We were laughing so hard we could barely stand up. After that show, the ice was broken between us as the Jap lovers.
The next morning, I and three Zurichers left fairly early. I got home to the Schwägalp dry; they got a bit rained upon but not nearly as much as those who left later. I was kinda sorry I wasn't able to personally say goodbye to many guys, but we'll meet up again at the Grollen in August and man, I am so looking forward to that.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Summer's spring

We're practically in June and we had to wait this long for a decent spring day.
The flowers are in bloom, the fields are luscious, the trees full, and the roads covered in motorcycles. It was about time.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Corsica Sardinia 2010

I'm in love.

I'm in love with the 20 extra Nm that accompany the 10 extra horsepower pumped from an engine 200 ccm larger. I'm in love with the eight-caliper brakes. And once again I'm bummed that the Company decided to go and kill Buell. The XB12SX is the crowning of all Buell's achievements, in my eyes. The Rotax engine needn't exist; the 12SX is the best.
When I picked up the replacement for the Beast on Tuesday evening, I was pretty mopey. I wanted to take my Beastie to Corsica, not some nondescript XB on loan. The levers didn't cooperate like my Pazzos and it had a regular ol' Remus exhaust underneath.
Well, Wednesday morning brought me through my interview with the police and left me convinced I was in no wise what they were looking for. But I didn't have time to think about it as I got home as fast as I could, peeled out of my slate blue suit while pulling on my leathers. Mom corralled me long enough to force some scrambled eggs and chicken down my throat while she braided my hair. Then I heaved the monstrous 80-pound rucksack onto my back, latched the straps and took off toward Erstfeld to meet the other United Bikers.
Susanne joined me on the autobahn after Altdorf, and we rolled in together to find the rest just arrived.
Damian on his BMW GS1200, his girlfriend Sue as baggage. Fabian with his girlfriend Silke on his Triumph Thunderbird. Bruno on his Ducati Hypermotard with his son Luca on Luca's KTM 640. Roger on his fat Triumph Rocket III. They were all there.
We refueled and got drinks before heading south. Luca, who's only had his license since the beginning of the year, managed to drop his KTM while refueling, but the bike being what it is, nothing broke.
Damian led, like GS drivers generally do. I appropriated the shotgun position. I drive best right behind the leader, and I kept that position for most of the vacation, except when I passed Damian to fly through particularly appealing curves.
We boarded the ferry in Savona that night. While we waited to be let on, I commenced the feeling of vacation with a Bailey's. Susanne took a Pietra, a Corsican beer made with chesnuts. Roger tried it, criticized it and ordered a bottle.

Corsica was wonderful. We had a hotel in Propriano. Susanne and I shared a room; everybody bunked double except Roger who got a single room. The weather was great: warm, sunny, dry. In the evening after a motorcycle tour that took all day we'd go out for drinks, dinner, and then more drinks. After dinner the couples would go back the hotel, leaving Bruno, Luca, Susanne, Roger and me to talk shop and whatever else. The first evening we had a nasty grappa; after that we stuck to a cute bar on the waterfront that served a very good Mirto and an even better red wine.

I believe it was Saturday when Susanne and I were up in our room after the tour, relaxing with books, when my cell phone went off. The caller ID announced Craig Jones - definitely the last person I expected to call.
We didn't chat long; he said he'd just finished practicing with the Z1000 and was heading home. He'd dumped Harley Davidson after they killed Buell; he wants to keep driving the Buells but for an interim he's signed on with Kawasaki.
He has a show in Normandy this weekend and said it'd be cool if I could come, but it's an eight-hour drive and I'm so swamped I really can't make it. We did agree to try to meet up in Milan this November instead.

The day we had to leave Corsica was rainy, so we drove direct and got to the ferry in Bonifazio early. Susanne, Bruno and I went to visit the fortress above the port before leaving the island. In Sardinia then we drove fairly directly to our hotel in Cala Genone on the eastern coast, just down the hillside from the famous SS 125.
In Sardinia the weather constantly threatened rain, but we were still able to do a tour every day, 250-300 km.

Roger went back to his diet of eating almost nothing but pizza prosciutto, and our little "core group," changed from last year since Fabian let himself be wrapped around a German waitress's finger, savored the evenings over Ramazotti and Averna. Really, there's nothing better. Get up late at 0630, eat a little breakfast, pull on helmet and gloves and fire up the engine - the Remus sounded better with every passing day - and chase curves for hours, stop somewhere to eat lunch, get back on the bike and just drive until five or six in the evening. Have a beer outside and discuss the driving, then split up to shower, change into fresh clothes and meet for dinner. I lived off seafood, just like last year. Dinners would be accompanied by red wine and finished with a grappa or averna, and then when the couples got out of the way we'd go the bar across from the hotel and have another shot or two. All within bounds; nobody got stone drunk or woke up with a hangover. Yeah, that's my paradise.

Until Wednesday. That day we split into two groups, Susanne and I being averse to driving the straight sections of the SS 125 south. Damian was up to lead a separate tour and Roger would of course go with the girls, so we headed off on four bikes.
We hung around the Nuoro area because the sky threatened rain in all directions. We ate at the pizzeria in Nuoro we'd visited last year and then started out to drive the SS 389, my absolute favorite road in Sardinia.

Damian and I took the lead. Roger had said over lunch that he was "on the rims," not really with it, so he stayed behind Susanne. Well, I chased Damian through the curves, checking back ever three to five twists to make sure I still saw the others. We passed three busses - I hate those things! - and sped on, until I noticed that Susanne was nowhere in sight. I slowed, slowed some more, and stopped. After waiting half a minute Damian drove past me. I turned too and followed. I found them stuck between the second and third busses, driving along.
It made no sense to me, but I turned again and took off, leading the way until I reached a crossroads where there was space to stop and park all the bikes.
There Damian informed me that Roger had driven out of a curve.
The Rocket's radiator was leaking; Roger couldn't set it on its stand. The tank has a dent in it, the passenger footpeg is twisted, the blinker bent and the cowling scraped. There was a mass of dirt and grass in the gearshift assembly.
Roger himself complained of pains in his ribs and shoulder; he'd landed on the same side that got mutilated in his snowboard accident last December. This time he didn't puncture a lung, but he did tear up his elbow, something we only noticed when we brought the Rocket to a back-alley fix-all shop to get the radiator sealed again.
Roger played the tough guy and didn't say much until we got back to the hotel. There, we sat down our bottles of beer and he started to show signs of pain. I'd bandaged his elbow provisionally at the shop, but I told him we should put honey on it so afterwards, when I'd showered and changed he came up and I put a proper bandage on the dent, as well as smearing some gel stuff on a big bruise. Walti had gotten the gel for me last year on the Dolomite tour where my brake hand turned so sore; I figured if it was good for that it'd be good for bruised muscles.
I was sure he'd take it easy the next day before having to drive to Golfo Arancia to head home on Friday, but he did nothing of the sort. He kept driving, and though he moved carefully off the bike he was just as fast as ever on it.

On Friday, Fabian and Silke took the direct route to the port while the rest of us followed curves and discovered roads that would have been glorious if we'd been driving without luggage. Even so, I went ahead and raced through a couple sets, determined to get the most out of what was left of vacation.
In Arancia, Susanne, Bruno and I went shopping while we waited for the ferry to come in. Bruno bought cups and a bottle of Ramazotti for drinks on the ferry (instead of paying their ridiculous prices) and I bought a bottle of Mirto and another bottle of Ramazotti, intending them for my liquor cabinet on the Schwägalp. Well, the first bottle of Ramazotti disappeared pretty darn quickly so we emptied mine 7/8 of the way too. I've got a bit left in as a reminder of the good times, and Roger said he'd bring up a replacement when I have my chalet housewarming.

Now the vacation's over and I'm pretty sad about it, but what can you do. My next trip will be to Baumholder to visit Tony, then a weekend in the Dolomites with Walti, and in August the Alpengrollen with dozens of other Buells. There are things to look forward to, but for the next week or two I'm mostly going to be looking back and wishing the good times didn't fly so fast.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Our good buddy Selim is either a talented driver or a nutcase. Either way, he and Aleks are the fastest in the whole Albis region. Aleks' Husaberg has a knack for shaking itself apart at regular intervals and Selim's Hyosung has been missing its second gear for quite a while.
Yesterday I got to work on Silver again with Florian's help, and I found this on the work table.

That explains the missing second gear. What we still don't know is how the teeth broke off.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The season has started

Lord knows I don't subscribe to the idea of biking season. If the roads are anything but icy or snowy, the bike comes out, no matter how cold it is.
But this winter - I daren't say "past" yet - delivered a lot of icy and snowy, and in the past two months the Beast and I were lucky to drive a hundred kilometers.
There was no passing up the sun and 6° C today offered. We covered about 60 kilometers out to Einsiedeln and back, and afterward the Beast was relieved of a complete winter's dirt and salt.

The scaredy-cat stripes on the tire edges might as well be neon orange in these pictures, they show up so well. I can't wait for the snow to disappear and the roads to be dry again.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Snow and tractor tires

In comparison to other motorcycle tires, the Pirelli Scorpion Syncs are semi-tractor tires. Yesterday, and generally in the winter, I wish the profile rills were twice as deep.
The drives to the office in the morning and to the Säumerstrasse midday were as usual, though on my way to Rüschlikon I did notice some lazy snowflakes floating around in the sky.
After work at Opa's I went to Regina's for two hours to help her out. When I left her apartment at twenty after eight, it was snowing thickly and the road was slowly but surely turning white.
Well, it couldn't be helped. I started the Beast, pulled on gloves and my helmet and we headed off home as fast as we could, which, considering the circumstances, wasn't very fast at all. Especially since I was driving with an open visor because I can't see through the tinted glass in the dark.
To get home from Regina's I have to go over the Gattikon hill and up to the Langenberg, and the altitude changes were obvious.
Going through Gattikon worked all right, though the road was already completely brushed with a thin layer of white. The Albisstrasse, on the other hand, was the limit for parading a fat back tire. Luckily I had no one behind me; I drove the whole stretch in first gear.
One car driver was so kind as to alert me by flashing his brights to the fact that motorcycles really don't belong on the roads in these conditions. As if I didn't notice.
Finally I could set the blinker and turn into the Vögelistrasse. Ever since that useless road renovation got done we have a sharp bump between the main road and our "driveway" so you have to exit the main road very slowly if you're on two wheels. Well, we got off the Albisstrasse but then the snow was really too thick, and the back wheel kept breaking out at the slightest touch of the gas.
So I turned off the Beast and called Löchen.
He and Joshua both came jogging and pushed the bike into the garage for me, where it still stands, hoping, like me, for a quick disappearance of the white blanket.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Best customer

My birthday's in ten days. I'm thinking about taking the day off since I'm going to pick Kris up from the airport in the morning anyway. I haven't a clue what I want to do to make the day special. Go somewhere, do something, but what?
I think I'd be a lot less lethargic if this darn snow would ever disappear. Poor Beastie's getting entirely ignored and I can tell my, what's it called, psychological balance is going off kilter, not being able to drive.
For further bother, I realized today that the Love Ride is on May 2, which means I'll be missing Craig Jones there after already missing his show in Milan. I'm ticked; I told him several times I'd see him in Dübendorf. I'm going to write to him and hope he's got an Italian show in April or May that I can go to despite our 11-day Corsica/Sardinia tour.
Now the reason for the post's title.
Wednesday morning Michi called me and said he'd stumbled over a couple boxes of original parts that evidently belonged to me.
I thought I'd fetched everything in August, but I guess not. So on my way to Opa's midday I swung by the Müllerstrasse and picked the stuff up. First Ralf, one of their German mechanics came out; then Beni dropped was he was doing and came out to shake my hand and thank me for the cakes I brought them before Christmas. He asked after my health and I said aside from the snow I was doing all right, and why didn't they stock spiked tires for winter? He said it was for my own protection, so that I didn't blame them for potential damage... Can't argue with the danger of potential damage. Then Michi and Fabio both came down from an upper story. Michi went to go find the boxes while Fabio told me I could bring the car in.
They still had a seat and some cowling parts from me. I never realized I was missing those. We talked for a couple minutes, and Fabio let the comment fall that I was their best customer, marking up kilometers and always coming in for another service. "Or a new bike, though I haven't wrecked the last one yet," I added.
He quickly said he hadn't meant it that way, and then added thoughtfully, "But if you're going to, you better hurry, because we're about out of Buells."