Archive for June, 2016


June 26, 2016

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Photo by Genghis

AT SIXTH STREET SPECIALS: Why was Mabel running rough?.

I’m a fairly smart guy. Hey, I don’t belong to MENSA, but I’m no moron either. That’s why it surprises me when I do something stupid with the bike.

The day began innocently enough. It’s a glorious day for riding, one of those days that bespeaks of sunshine not of the orange sort—but euphoria-inducing enough if yer a biker, man.

I went to Mabel’s (my ’71 Stroker Shovelhead) outdoor parking lot, and removed her brand new bike cover. It’s amazing how quickly NYC’s unforgiving winters can destroy a motorcycle cover. Between the harsh whipping winds ( I live near the East River) and the sub-freezing temps, the weather in New York City is a bike cover killer. Mabel’s previous cover was only two years old, yet it was in tatters as I threw it way.

Mabel started right up, and settled down to that hypnotic “RUMPITY-RUMP…RUMPITY-RUMP…RUMPITY-RUMP” Harley cadence that we all know and love. Let’s go, baby!

My plan was to ride around to find a nice, scenic place to take some photos of The Mabes, without a lot of traffic around. I settled on Sixth Street Specials, on Sixth Street between Avenue C and Avenue D in the Lower Beast Side of NYC. But first, I wanted to fill up Mabel’s 3 1/2 gallon Super Glide banana tank.

After gettin’ gas, I started Mabel up. Curiously, she was running rough. Hey, she was running fine when I pulled into the gas station off of the FDR Drive. Fouled plugs? I took off and got back on the highway, to blow off any fouling on the plugs. By the time I got to Sixth Street Specials, Mabel was still running rough, threatening to stall if I didn’t blip the throttle at red lights. When I got to Sixth Street Specials, I shut ‘er down to take a look at what might be wrong.

I pulled the plugs. They didn’t look bad, but I changed to new plugs anyway. After I changed to the new plugs, Mabel kept on running rough. Then I pulled each plug, grounded each against the cylinder to check for spark. No problem there, each was producing a spark.

Could it be fuel starvation? I pulled the fuel line off of the carb, and gas was flowing freely–so the problem wasn’t fuel related. Hmm..what was it?

Then I spotted it. Mabel’s S & S Super B’s enrichener was pulled up! I was in effect, riding around trying to clear the plugs, as if running on choke! It occurred to me that I had inadvertently pulled the enrichener up (muscle memory?) in the gas station, without realizing it—before I turned Mabel over! Ha! Man, did I feel foolish. I missed the forest for the trees! This was one time that I should have heeded Occaam’s Razor: check the simple things first.

Goes to show ya man, that Harleys like Mabel are far more reliable than their human operators. Later.




June 4, 2016

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Photo by Genghis

HEART OF THE CULTURE: Not the biker.

I just read a treatise on the biker subculture, a long-winded screed by a Dartmouth college professor. It made my hair hurt. This college professor qualifies himself as an authority on the culture, by declaring….

“I ride a Harley….it’s a Road King….I have drawers of Harley t-shrts, and a garage full of leather jackets, leather pants, bandanas, wrap-around sunglasses, helmets, boots, knives and skull rings. And on my favorite motorcycle jacket (it’s black, orange and white: Harley colors) I have a patch that says: ‘I RODE MINE, STURGIS ’08’…..”

Is your hair hurting yet? I was actually relieved when I read this tedious piece of officious crap, because I don’t own a single Harley t-shirt, any leather pants and haven’t worn a “motorcycle jacket” for decades. Thank God that I’m in a different sociological classification than this obviously, hardcore outlaw biker with all of his approved accessories.

I ask ya, why would I want to be in the same subcultural boat as this loser? I’d rather be a Loner With A Harley, than a mindless clone who follows all the accepted dress codes, of what this college professor describes in his scholarly essay as, “A sustainable subculture model.” He also classifies his type of bikers, as members of “A new type of subculture–the Super-Subculture.”

At first, there was the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The Biker Subculture began over a century ago, when ordinary citizens who loved machines on wheels, walked into their Harley-Davidson dealerships, and inquired about the price of the Harley cycles they were interested in.

Then, if these ordinary citizens who loved machines on wheels had enough cash to meet the price of the Harley cycles they coveted, they forked over the bread to make their purchases. They then managed to learn just enough on the showroom floor, about the operational intricacies of their new machines, to ride them home.

A BIKER: Taking his new Harley home in the summer.

These citizens who went to buy their Harley motorcycles, wore what was season-appropriate. It all depended on what the respective weather conditions were, at the time. Nobody showed up at the dealership, wearing motorcycle jackets, leather pants, and wrap-around sunglasses. There simply was no need to. They merely had to wear what was appropriately comfortable, for the task at hand: Riding their motorcycles home.

Then, decades later, motorcycle clubs formed after World War II, with the clubs adopting uniforms that identified them as members of their respective clubs. Colors were adopted (we don’t call ’em “cuts”–that’s TV bullshit), and away we go. The Uniform Race was on.

Fast-forward a half a century, and we now have Dartmouth college professors, replete with their black, orange and white motorcycle jackets, leather pants, and pirate bandanas, parading around on their Road Kings, declaring themselves as members of this “Super-Subculture,” an attempt to replicate the uniformity of one-percenters in their colors—but looking foolish and stupid in their Me-Tooism.

Photo by Genghis


So, did the century since the First Bikers walked into their Harley dealers and brought their Harley cycles home, witness an evolution of our biker species—or a devolution into a miasma of mindless copycatism?

We’ll just ask that self-satisfied college professor in his biker uniform, and I’m sure that he’ll tell you with wordy arrogance, that his Super-Subculture of Bikers, represents the highest development of our kind. My hair still hurts. Does yours? What this college professor fails to grasp, is that The Motorcycle has been, and always will be, the heart of the biker subculture, not his sartorial accessorizing. Later.