Friday 8 May 2020

Zanè Laverda 650/668/750 Twins – The Other, Other Italian Middleweight

Zanè Laverda 750 S Formula Brochure
Laverda 750 S Formula

The vaunted Laverda marque needs little introduction. But I suppose we need to address why a whole series of production Laverdas would warrant an OddBike profile here on Bike-urious. Laverda has long been a fond topic of mine (see my exclusive V6 history on and the company has a long and proud history of producing fine Italian sporting machines, Odd or not.

Zanè Laverda 650 i.e. Sport Brochure
Laverda 650 Sport

There is, however, an entire generation of Laverdas that has been largely forgotten in recent decades: those produced at the Zanè factory through the 1990s. It is time to rectify that and introduce you to the last, and perhaps best, Laverdas that preceded the marque’s descent into irrelevance as a zombie brand punted into a dark corner of the Piaggio Group’s closet.

(Incidentally, for some first-hand experience with building and racing Laverdas during their golden era of the 1970s, I highly recommend you watch my conversation with Kenny Austin on the OddBike YouTube channel. Kenny’s first Laverda was a 750 SFC, to give you an idea of his fascinating history.)

Zanè Laverda 750 Super Sport Brochure
Laverda 750 Super Sport

To understand the Zanè era of Laverda we need to go back to the late 1970s, to the tail end of the Breganze factory’s heyday. Following the success of Laverda’s 650/750 parallel twins and 1000 triples, a new, modern, mid-displacement twin was developed to offer a lighter, more nimble machine in the lucrative middleweight category.

Zanè Laverda 750 SS Brochure
Laverda 750 Super Sport

Interesting Links:
Zane Laverda Photo Gallery
Laverda V6 History on
Kenny Austin interview on OddBike YouTube
Tuning Weber-Marelli Fuel Injection on OddBike YouTube
Moto-Guzzi MGS-01 on OddBike
Laverda 668 technical/service information
Bought on Bike-urious: Laverda 750S Caraneta Part I 
Bought on Bike-urious: Laverda 750S Caraneta Part II
Sport Rider review of the 650 Ghost

Zanè Laverda 750 S Formula II
Laverda 750 S Formula II

Zanè Laverda 750 Brochure
Laverda 750 Brochure

Laverda Quasar Quad ATV 125 180

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Glenn Hammond Curtiss - The Original Hell Rider

Glenn Hammond Curtiss

Who was Glenn Hammond Curtiss, and how does his legacy relate to the introduction of a new concept in cutting edge American electric motorcycle design? This is a question many followers of the Curtiss brand have asked. Perhaps they wonder why a prominent name in American aviation would be applied to a motorcycle, presuming it's a mere nod to a famous name to garner some recognition for a new brand. A few might be aware of Curtiss' involvement in early American motorcycling and his daring records that stood for decades, but they might fail to understand how this relates to the electric revolution Curtiss promises to offer.

Glenn Curtiss
The truth is that Curtiss draws upon a long legacy of innovation, skill, risk-taking, and American ingenuity from a golden era of American exceptionalism that is perfectly summarized by the life and work of Glenn H. Curtiss. The Curtiss of today seeks to push the boundaries of design, engineering and performance while offering an heirloom quality machine designed from first principles that are unlike anything offered by their competition. These are the very same principles espoused by Curtiss in the earliest days of American motorcycling, so it is fitting that the Curtiss of today seeks to pick up where the Curtiss Motor Company left off more than 100 years ago. Curtiss seeks to continue a legacy of innovation that was driven by the vision of one remarkable man whom they have proudly designated their namesake: Glenn Hammond Curtiss.  

Friday 24 April 2020

BFG / MBK 1300 - Boxeur Français

French BFG 1300 Motorbike Brochure
BFG 1300 Brochure

Long time followers of OddBike and Bike-urious will recall that one of my early subjects was the wonderfully horrid Brazilian Amazonas 1600. It’s become one of my fondest profiles, one that was an important part of the development of the OddBike concept celebrating (and poking fun at) the weirdest motorcycles I could dig up. For those unfamiliar with the Amazonas, the short version is it is a thoroughly terrible overweight pig of a machine powered by a Volkswagen Beetle engine that was borne of the necessity of subverting punitive Brazilian tariffs on imported vehicles, in a desperate attempt to build a Harley-esque machine that could serve the local police forces.

French BFG 1300 Motorbike Brochure
BFG 1300 Brochure

Today on Bike-urious I present the Amazonas’ sophisticated French cousin, who is probably even more obscure than her Latin-American counterpart: behold the BFG/MBK 1300, another ill-fated attempt at stuffing an automotive engine into a heavyweight motorcycle.

French BFG 1300 Motorbike Brochure
BFG 1300 Brochure

Interesting Links:
Moto Club BFG
BFG 1300 Photos
Amazonas 1600
Van Veen OCR
Moto Francaise MF 650
BFG 1300 in the Lane Motor Museum in Tennessee
BFG Wiki
Citroen GS Wiki
Citroen G-Series Boxer Wiki
Review of the pre-production BFG GTA and GTB
Citroenet information of the BFG and MF
BFG 1300 fan page with some handy parts cross references

French BFG 1300 Motorbike Brochure
BFG 1300 Brochure

Citroen GS Boxer Engine Motor
Citroen G Series Boxer Engine

BFG 1300 Motorcycles Escorting Pope John Paul II in France
BFG 1300s escorting Pope John Paul II

Monday 11 November 2019

Julian Farnam's Dirtbag Rat - Yamaha Banshee-Powered Funny Front End Mutant

Julian Farnam Dirtbag Rat Yamaha Banshee RZ350
Image courtesy Alan Lapp

"Hey Jason, I hope all is well. I thought I'd reach out and mention that I've just completed a new project that may (or may not) be of interest..."

Julian Farnam Dirtbag Rat Yamaha Banshee RZ350 Girder Fork FFE
Image courtesy Alan Lapp

The photos that followed in Julian's email made me lean back in my chair and giggle with glee. You are goddamned right this is "OF INTEREST". You should know my taste by now Julian, because every time you send me something you nail it.

Julian Farnam Dirtbag Rat Yamaha Banshee RZ350 Front Wheel
Image courtesy Alan Lapp

If you've followed OddBike for any period of time you should be familiar with Julian Farnam and his designs. He has become a staple subject of the site for years, and for damned good reason: there are few backyard tinkerers as talented or as innovative as Julian is, and every time he puts Tig to metal he concocts something inspiring that speaks to the very heart of OddBike. Or at least something so thoroughly weird and wonderful that it will cleanse your palette of the dull Hondas and derivative Triumphs that populate your feeds for the remainder of the week.

Julian Farnam Dirtbag Rat Yamaha Banshee RZ350 Rear Wheel
Image courtesy Alan Lapp

Thursday 8 August 2019

OddBike Merchandise Now Available on Teespring!

Attention OddBikers!

Does your wardrobe lack a certain je ne sais quois? That bit of flippant disgust for the status quo in motorcycling that hints at long winded articles celebrating the two-weird world composed of sarcastic hyperbole?

Do your sappy Hallmark mugs simply lack the edge to impress your coworkers on a Monday morning when your only muse is a bottomless cup of pot sludge masquerading as coffee?

Is your bumper devoid of witticisms that could demonstrate your superior intellect to all those neanderthal drivers who conspire to make your commute a living hell?

If you answered "yes" or "what?" to any or all of the above questions, I have the superfluous solution to your imagined problems!

You can now and forever purchase official OddBike Branded Merchandise on my newly minted Teespring store!

OddBike Teespring Store

Teespring ships all over North America and Europe and offers small creators like myself the opportunity to supply high-quality swag to my followers on a just-in-time basis. Up until now I've had to wait until crowdfunding drives to sell batches and have my merch made to order; Teespring allows me to offer a greater variety of designs without having to stockpile all these OddBike thongs that nobody seems to want.

So if you need to fill that OddBike-shaped hole in your life, visit the OddBike Teespring Store and start shopping!

If you have any product or design suggestions please let me know! I welcome new ideas for cool merchandise to expand the brand.

Monday 15 July 2019

Guest Post - Robert Horn's RoHorn Two Wheel Steering Recumbent Racer

Robert Horn RoHorn Racer
Image courtesy Margaret Oliver
I'm pleased to present this guest post courtesy of motorcycle innovator Robert Horn, who has spent several decades developing a series of machines that redefine the motorcycle by combining alternative suspension with two wheel steering into a recumbent chassis, which ultimately became the RoHorn racer. Here is Robert's story, in his own words:

Like old biplanes? Who doesn’t! They were once state of the art – those are what airplanes were supposed to look like - almost a century ago. Now imagine how progress in aviation would seem like if the only advances made since then were only with materials and electronics – would a carbon fiber covered titanium framed biplane with digital fuel injection sound like the peak of aviation development to you?

Robert Horn RoHorn Racer 2 Wheel Steering Motorcycle

Would PlaneExif feature old aircraft with the latest developments in ironically inappropriate undercarriage tires, patina by numbers, and smug purveyors of artistically diminished airworthiness for the edgy iPilot? Well, that’s not too far off from what’s happened to the motorcycle world. For the high performance end of the market, how many years in a row of bold new graphics, .01mm smaller valve stems with 1.2 degrees less included angle for 2.4 more horsepower, and 17% more bodywork tortuosity does everyone have to get from press release regurgitators before everyone tunes out?

Robert Horn RoHorn Racer

Are motorcyclists that braindead? I’m not innovation intolerant - if the OEMs won’t offer real innovation, fine, I’ll take that as an opportunity to do it myself. I don’t have any qualifications, credentials, or connections to do what I’m doing, but if the results from the qualified, credentialed, and connected are anything to go by, I’m better off for that.

Two Wheel Steering Motorcycle Robert Horn RoHorn Racer

I see the vast majority of the motorcycle industry as horrifyingly uninspired, unenthusiastic, and antipathetic. Look at any of the “Motorcycle Art” sites and bore yourself to death with endless images of Battle Tarts™ on dystopian café racers. How do you get that screwed up to think that’s exciting, attractive, or even remotely interesting? Am I the only one that doesn’t “Get it”? Maybe I need to look pretty far back to see why I’m headed the other way.

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Morbidelli 850 V8 - Eight Cylinder Exotica on

Morbidelli V8 Motorcycle Barber Museum

Thanks to Abhi over at for sponsoring this post! Be sure to follow his site for daily doses of weird and wonderful motorcycles.

There are two factors in the motorcycle industry that can and usually will doom any bike from the beginning:

1. An extremely high price tag.
2. Styling courtesy of an automotive design house.

The subject of today's profile applied both of these deadly sins to their full effect. It was certified by Guinness as the most expensive motorcycle of all time. And it was declared the ugliest motorcycle of all time by anyone who had the misfortune to gaze upon the bodywork penned by Pininfarina.

This is the Morbidelli 850 V8. Technologically fascinating and produced by a company that should have had no right to build an eight-cylinder grand touring machine, it was an ambitious attempt to break into what has traditionally been the black hole of motorcycle genres: the boutique luxury motorcycle.

Morbidelli V8 Motorcycle Barber Museum

Interesting Links:
Morbidelli Museum Website
Ultimate Motorcycling on the only privately-owned Morbidelli V8
Giancarlo Morbidelli and his museum
Morbidelli - A Story of Men and Fast Motorcycles 2014 documentary
Morbidelli V12 Project
Morbidelli V12 on the Kneeslider
Press on financial trouble at the Morbidelli Museum
OddBike Morbidelli Gallery
Phil Aynsley gallery of the Morbidelli Museum and the V12 project

Morbidelli V8 Barber Museum

Monday 14 January 2019

OddBike Tech - How to Tune Ducati Motorcycle Fuel Injection

This week on the OddBike YouTube Channel I'm presenting the first installment of a new series called OddBike Tech.

OddBike Tech will be a showcase of the sort of in-depth technical information OddBike has become known for. No dumbing it down for the masses here. The appeal will certainly be limited, but the knowledge we can share will be invaluable to those who desire to learn.

For our first installment of OddBike Tech I'll be covering a topic that I'm intimately familiar with, but isn't well documented online: tuning Ducati fuel injection. 

Specifically I'll be covering the basics of tuning the EPROM-based Magneti-Marelli Alpha-N systems used in the 851, 888, 916, 996, 748, ST2, and ST4 in the form of the P7, P8 and 1.6M ECUs. These procedures also apply to similar systems used in mid-to-late 1990s Moto Guzzi and MV Agusta models.

Useful links: 

TunerPro Software
Moates Burn 2 Harware
GuzziDiag programs and XDF definition files for various Italian motorcycles Speedzilla Forum thread on tuning Ducati ECUs
Innovate MTX-L wideband AFR gauge
Brad Black Ducati Tuning Reports, a wealth of information for anyone tuning Ducatis 

OddBike Tech - How to Tune Ducati Fuel Injection 916

Monday 24 December 2018

Editorial - The Future of OddBike

Drinking with JT Nesbitt and Michael Walshaw

Merry Christmas to all my loyal OddBikers!

Sweet Jesus it's been a while since I've written anything.

It's not for lack of desire, it's due to a general lack of energy and inspiration following a day/week/month of working my ass ragged and trying to maintain some semblance of a personal life outside of my day job. Plus I got a new old car that needed sorting out over the course of many weekends.

1993 GSXR 1100 WP Motorcycle Apartment Rebuild

I also spent some time rebuilding a 1993 GSXR 1100 WP in my living room, which I dubbed Project Vanilla Ice. I bought the bike in pieces through a friend of mine who found it on Kijiji in Red Deer, Alberta. It was complete and in fine shape aside from being torn apart and put into boxes, allegedly due to a transmission issue the owner never bothered to fix. I lucked out as the worst of it was a toasted clutch pack and some moderate dog wear on second gear. I had the whole thing restored in a few months and wheeled it out of my apartment just in time for the first month of Spring.

Suzuki GSXR 1100 Engine Rebuild

I immediately sold it after a mere 200 kms of shakedown rides when I came to the sudden realization that I have no desire to own a fat old Japanese superbike.

1993 Suzuki GSXR 1100 WP

It could have made a neat restomod project but I had zero interest in putting any more money into it after I finished the rebuild. I quickly realized it was a pig-heavy brute that had the chassis tying itself into knots anytime the rider attempted to do anything other than accelerate in a straight line on a smooth road. It wasn't even exciting in its general terribleness, just rather soft and fluffy with wobbly vagueness coming on at anything more than city street pace. Even that once monstrous engine is pretty tame by modern standards. Not slow, but far from fast. It had no qualities endearing enough to make me want to keep it around. So off it went, netting me a modest profit and the satisfaction of rescuing a basket case from oblivion. It'll serve its new owner well.

1993 Suzuki GSXR 1100 WP

I've been pondering the future of OddBike and my career as a freelance moto journalist. I'm finding it increasingly difficult to devote myself to my writing as I get older, my mind getting mushier as I approach my mid 30s. Add to that the exponential growth of the complexity of my profiles - my techniques have become more detailed and "professional" while my subjects have become more obscure, making the prospect of hammering out a quality article rather daunting. I have a half dozen stalled pieces sitting in limbo due to a simple lack of sources.

Monday 12 March 2018

The Majestic - Art Deco OddBike

The Majestic Motorcycle Headlight

It is the 1920s. The heady period following the First World War has, without a doubt, produced some of the most iconic and beautiful European vehicles the world would see until well into the latter half of the 20th century. The futuristic minimalism of Art Deco has superceded the organic forms of Art Nouveau, and set the template for the clean, flowing forms of Streamline Moderne that would follow. Storied marques like Bugatti, Delahaye, Talbot and countless others are producing spectacular automobiles that will define the melding of art and design for decades to come. It is a definition that will be cut short by the economic downturn of the Great Depression and the destruction wrought by the Second World War.

Motorcycles, too, benefit from this all-too brief period of carefree optimism. French marques in particular are flourishing, producing modern and beautifully styled machines that attempt to elevate the motorcycle from mere populist transportation into the realm of luxurious motoring - the likes of which hadn't been seen amongst the crude, noisy, and messy contraptions that defined motorcycling at the turn of the 20th Century.

The Majestic Motorcycle

Amongst these forward-thinking designs one machine in particular has captivated designers and collectors who appreciate how the refinement of the period was applied in the two-wheeled realm. The Majestic is one of the most intriguing of these clean, streamlined motos that, for a brief instant, promised to offer the beauty and style that was associated with the luxurious automotive brands. It was a moment when motorcycles might have caught up to the innovation and grace of the finest cars, but instead the experiment faded into obscurity. It remained a short-lived diversion in the history of the motorcycle, but for a time machines like the Majestic offered something special to riders seeking something more sophisticated.

Monday 26 February 2018

OddBike Stories - Jason Cormier

What is OddBike? How did it start? Where is it going? What is wrong with the motorcycle industry and what am I doing in response? Why should you contribute to OddBike on Patreon?

In this installment of our ongoing OddBike Stories video series I turn the camera on myself to introduce the viewer to what OddBike is about and how I ended up in charge of this beautiful mess.

It's a good introduction to the site for new readers and people who might be wondering how OddBike came to be - which I can assure you was quite accidental, borne out of a fit of boredom one afternoon in November 2012.

OddBike Stories - Jason Cormier Britten V1000

Monday 19 February 2018

OddBike Stories - Ken Austin, Uncut

The full-length OddBike Stories video interview with Ken Austin of Kenny's Tuning. Ken shares his thoughts on the motorcycle industry, his career racing Laverdas and Suzukis and his techniques as a racer, and his race tuning experience in Canadian Superbike and AMA events across Canada and the United States.

A self-taught mechanic and skilled tuner who has spent more than 40 years working in the motorcycle industry, Ken is a natural story teller and his experiences are fascinating. It was difficult to select just a few points to share in the edited version of our interview, so I chose to present the full-length version here for the benefit of those who want to know more about Ken and his work. It's well worth a watch!

OddBike Stories - Ken Austin, Uncut

Monday 12 February 2018

OddBike Stories - Ken Austin, Kenny's Tuning

This marks the first foray of OddBike into the video realm, the opening installment of a series called OddBike Stories

Stories will showcase interviews with motorcycle personalities you might not know, but should. They will be the underdogs, the innovators, and the quiet geniuses who probably won't get any mention in the mainstream motorcycle press. 

It will be a place where the most interesting people you've never heard of can share their experiences.

Each episode will be presented in two formats: a condensed version edited into a 15-20 minute video, and an uncut version featuring the complete interview for those who want to learn more.  

Our first Story presents Ken Austin, an independent motorcycle tuner and mechanic based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Ken works independently at Kenny's Tuning, a home-based shop where he applies his considerable skill as a mechanic to work on a wide variety of bikes.

Ken caters to discerning riders in Alberta who have learned of his skills through word of mouth, but his reputation as a superb mechanic didn't come out of nowhere. He is one of the most intelligent and inquisitive tradesmen you'll ever meet, and his skills have been hard won through decades of experience as a mechanic, motorcycle/sailboat/mountain bike racer, and CSBK/AMA race tuner. His story is fascinating and I'm proud to present Ken as the subject of our first OddBike Story.

OddBike Stories: Ken Austin

Monday 5 February 2018

Editorial - Classic Italian Hot Rodding

Jason Cormier Ducati 916

I can never leave well enough alone.

I don't usually consider this a character flaw, unless I manage to tinker something to a dead stop or make something worse than when I began messing with it. Both are rare occurrences in my experience; perhaps luck has favoured me over the years and minimized my catastrophic fuckups. At least when it comes to mechanical devices. I can't say I've been so fortunate in my social life.

In then 12 years I've owned it, I've never left my 916 alone. I wasn't about to stop messing with it now that I'd slotted in a freshly built 996 mill. In fact I considered the 996 engine the first big step towards building the machine I always wanted.

Perhaps a little background is in order to understand my compulsion.

While I'd never call the 916 unsatisfying in any configuration, it has one major flaw. Nothing wrong with the bike in particular, though as with anything else it can be improved in a lot of ways - particularly 25 years after its introduction.

Wednesday 31 January 2018

OddBike USA Tour 2015 Travelogue

The collected installments of the second OddBike USA Tour travelogue, completed in 2015.

Aprilia Tuono Highway 93 British Columbia

Just a few more months. Everything you are doing is towards this goal. You need this trip. You need this escape.

Don't jeopardize it now.

I've been repeating this mantra in my head endlessly over the past several months, a process of self-medication to try and ease my tortured mind. It's a small but crucial balm to soothe my stress and bring my life back into focus.

Forget the drudgery of the day and the cruelty of working mindlessly, endlessly. The goal is on the horizon. Soon you can escape, however briefly.

Syringa Provincial Park

My journey begins as they often do, early on a cold, grey morning punctuated by the gut-twisting anxiety I often struggle with whenever I'm about to embark into the unknown. Or pretty much every time I get up before sunrise and try to force a meal down when my bowels are going haywire from being awoken at such an ungodly hour. My best laid plans of departing just as the sun cracks over the horizon are usually derailed by a few visits to the bathroom before I even get my gear on, and suddenly my eager 6 AM departure becomes a leisurely roll out sometime around 8. So it was this morning, as per my usual, that I hobbled down to the parking garage with an armload of 30 pounds of luggage well after my intended start time while I silently cursed my overactive gut.

My anxiety before a ride has eased in recent years. But there is still some primal fear tempered with anticipation that gets stirred up in the pit of my stomach before I saddle up on a big ride. Not so much when I'm commuting to work, but even after 12 years I still get nauseous on some days and need to take my time to let the jitters subside.

I still have a healthy amount of respect for my bikes and their ability to make me overreach my average abilities in a real hurry, and I nurture a healthy degree of unease before a journey like this one, or anytime I borrow an unfamiliar machine for a ride. I'm not one of those unhinged riders who can jump on anything and proceed to ride it like a gibbering maniac right out of the parking lot. I take my time to ease into the ride and learn the characteristics of a bike before I go and flog it - lest it surprise me in some unpleasant, expensive, or painful way.

Aprilia Tuono Grand Forks British Columbia

I awake at dawn, the sunlight reduced to a dull grey glow filtered through the haze of smoke. It appears that the forest fire smoke has grown denser overnight, and a light coating of soot has formed on the tent and my bike by the time I emerge. I prepare a quick breakfast, my on-the-road staple of oatmeal and instant coffee, before I pack my things and prepare to hit the road - I have a lot of ground to cover today, as I'm aiming to be in the Seattle area by evening to meet with an OddBike follower who has offered me a place to stay. 

I'm remarkably well rested considering I've spent the night sleeping on hard ground with just a one-inch Thermarest sleeping pad keeping the rocks out of my back. The little things are what make the difference when camping and the 100-ish bucks I spent on this pad turned out to be one of the best investments I've made in my camp gear. It had damned well better be, considering I paid about the same amount for the whole tent.

I've planned a route continuing along the Crowsnest Highway down to Osoyoos, where I'll head into Washington through one of the quieter border crossings. One thing I've learned in all my travels into the States is to find the smallest, most isolated community that straddles a border and aim to cross there; you can be guaranteed there won't be a lineup, and the agents are usually pretty relaxed. A painless crossing is always worth a detour.   

Mount Saint Helens

The following day I hit the road alongside Neal. I learn very quickly that at this altitude the Tuono is even more of a homicidal maniac than I'm used to. When a car tries to cut me off in the early morning traffic I give it a handful in first gear to scoot past and the front instantly rockets skyward with the sort of alacrity that is both terrifying and endlessly entertaining. I apologize to Neal for drawing any unwanted attention and gesture to the luggage; the extra weight on the ass end makes this thing ridiculously wheelie happy.

I head down the I-5 through Seattle, painlessly bypassing most of the morning's commuters via the HOV and express lanes. While I’d love to stick around and check out the sights (the Museum of Flight is on my bucket list, but time is too limited this time around) my goal for today is a bit further south.

As a child I was simultaneously terrified and awed by volcanoes, and Mount St. Helens was the prototypical event of the modern era for the overwhelming power of nature's geological wrath. The fact that one day in 1980 a mountain up and exploded, blasting so much ash and rock into the atmosphere that my parents recall the colour of the sky changing on the opposite side of the continent, captivated me. Actually it scared the shit out of me. Mount St. Helens and the story of Parícutin suddenly rising out of a farmer's field in Mexico were the two events that cemented the terrifying power of nature in my young mind. To me the sudden violence of volcanic activity remains the ultimate expression of the supremacy of nature, a force that can only be rivalled by the detonation of atomic weapons (perhaps not coincidentally another one of my terror/awe obsessions).

Aprilia Tuono Oregon Coast

As per my usual habit I awake at sunrise - or rather, I sleepily hobble out of my tent, because a sore, groggy motorcyclist extricating himself from a single-person tent at the ass crack of dawn of a cool morning is about as undignified an act as you can possibly witness - and go through my usual routine of fumbling with packing my gear into the impossibly tight confines of the stuff sacks from whence they will never again fit.

This uncivilized procedure is followed by the soothing effects of the day's first cigarette and an instant coffee prepared over a portable stove. If I'm feeling particularly thrifty I might make some instant oatmeal and skip the pleasure of a greasy breakfast, but today, on this damp morning, I'm feeling like I deserve something more substantial. Today's a day for my favourite practice of riding as long as I can stand on an empty stomach and stopping at whatever eatery happens into view when I can't suppress my hunger any longer.

I hit the road and find myself passing through a series of small harbour communities on the Pacific coast. I hadn't realized how close I was to the ocean when I stopped last night, but now I'm enjoying the pleasure of riding through idyllic seaside towns on a beautiful autumn morning.

Aprilia Tuono San Simeon Sunset

Matt proves to be an engaging host, an experienced racer filled with good stories, interesting contacts and a wealth of knowledge. I'd talked to him online briefly before but hadn't realized how passionate and knowledgeable he truly was, making my stop in Calistoga after a far-too-long ride all the more worthwhile. He is kind enough to prepare a late night meal for me after my day's adventure, a much welcomed gesture given my unfortunate habit of "forgetting" to stop for a meal due to my excitement and determination to complete the journey.

I have a tendency to zone into a task so completely that I neglect to even feed myself, pushing my basic needs aside in favour of seeing myself through to the end. It's a trait I share with my father, who is known for spending long days in the garage without taking a break. I know this practice well, zoning myself out for long hours as I tinker with my machines or work on my hobbies. I usually don't stop until I encounter a roadblock that stymies me, which generally results in something getting broken in a rare fit of blind rage. I am not known for having a temper, usually being quite calm in demeanour, but when something frustrates me beyond the limits of my patience I have a tendency to snap in spectacular fashion. Demons run when good men go to war, or when the quiet man strips a bolt at the wrong moment.

Mullin Museum Voisin C27

I rise early and stumble out into the motel courtyard, exhibiting my usual bleary-eyed pre-caffeinated lack of focus. I wander into a group of immaculate Harley-Davidson touring models tended by a troupe of middle-aged riders. I say hello and someone compliments my Aprilia in a thick European accent, mentioning how few they see over here in America.

It turns out that they are a group of Italians who rented their H-Ds in Oakland to tour around California and Arizona. It seems like a perfectly appropriate way to tour the US of A, and I'm reminded of my dream of riding across Italy aboard one of their uncompromising two-wheeled exports. Probably aboard a Ducati, but an MV, Moto-Guzzi, or Aprilia would be quite alright too.

In the case of our European guests, Harley is the only way to go. They have the right idea. It would be a bit weird (though probably much smarter) to use a Victory or an Indian, Polaris' new pretenders to the Moto-Americana crown. It would somehow not be quite as authentic. H-D hate mongers can go on all they like about how much better the alternatives might be but when it comes to the richness of an experience the flexing of your powers of dull rationality are irrelevant. And unwelcome.

Aprilia Tuono Pro Italia California

I get up early to head back to Pro Italia to make a pilgrimage to one of the dealers I've long been curious about. I've dealt with them in the past for parts orders for my 916, back in the fleeting days when the Loonie was worth a damn and it was cheaper for a Canadian to buy parts in the States. I also wanted an Aprilia mechanic to have a listen to the persistent top end tick in my Tuono, if only to quell my hyperactive imagination and remove the spectre of imminent mechanical catastrophe from my mind before I rode 2500 miles home.

It's another beautiful day in SoCal, perfect weather and bright sunshine warming the air quickly as I slice through the morning traffic on my way to Glendale. Pro Italia is split into two locations, one covering Triumph, KTM and Moto Guzzi, the site of Miguel Galuzzi's presentation last night, and a smaller shop down the street that houses the service department as well as the Ducati and MV showroom.

The shop is remarkably tiny, far smaller than I imagined it would be given their online presence. It's a single room packed with bikes and apparel, with an only slightly bigger service department out back. Dozens of bikes, showroom stock and customer rides here for service, are wheeled out onto the street to make room. It takes me back to my days working at a hole-in-the-wall Triumph dealer that had resisted updates for 30 years, though here the setting is far more polished and professional. And a lot cleaner.

Deus Ex Machina Los Angeles

It's a beautiful Sunday morning in LA and it's time to go riding.

My first stop is just down the street a few miles, the Deus Ex Machina shop. Actually it's less of a shop and more of a café with a clothing store attached. Regardless, Deus has become the model for the snobby hipster builder joint, the prototype for commercialization of the custom scene beyond recognition.

If you want to buy meticulously prepared espressos or overpriced t-shirts and surfboards in an environment littered with pretentious magazines, Deus is your place.

If you want to buy motorcycles or anything motorcycle related beyond a motif on a T-shirt, you'll want to go elsewhere.

Aprilia Tuono Malibu Coast

It's time for me to reluctantly begin the journey home. The first leg along the coast north of LA is probably the dullest of the journey, but still plenty scenic. I make San Luis Obispo my destination for the day, a familiar spot to stop and get a motel room where I can spend some time decompressing, catching up on my notes and emails.

After an uneventful day of riding through the still flawless SoCal weather I reach SLO and after checking in I walk downtown to Eureka!, a burger joint recommended to me by one of Abhi's friends.

It's the typical trendy, gentrified grill serving far too many fancy combinations of meat stuffed between two pieces of bread alongside a selection of craft beers I've never heard of. I look mighty out of place here, with my scruffy hair and my raccoon-eyes helmet tan. If you don't show up on your bike, helmet in hand, the grizzled biker appearance makes you end up looking like you just stepped off a construction site, or spent too long staring into an oven. I'm a bit self-conscious as I take a seat at the end of the bar and spend my evening listening to dull conversations and scribbling notes on my scratchpad.

Aprilia Tuono Avenue of the Giants

I head out towards the coast via the 128, the same route I took in the dark on my way south. The roads are lovely. Crossing the Mendocino county line reveals a series of perfect, fresh ribbons of asphalt flowing through avenues of craggy trees forming a canopy overhead. The surface is impeccably groomed and properly cambered, the sightlines good, and there are few decreasing radius bends to catch you off guard. It's motorcycling heaven, roads that are as beautiful as they are challenging, without ever feeling treacherous. You can ride fluidly from one corner to the next, punching up to triple digits along the short straights without fear of overreaching your abilities.

It's a flattering experience, one that renews my faith in my skills. Some of the routes I've taken are so erratic and unpredictable that they shook my confidence, forcing me to pick my way through the bends and occasionally overcook into a blind corner whenever I tried to pick up the pace. Not here. This is my kind of road, with a flow that encourages smooth and fast riding rather than pointing and squirting between hair-raising corners with little to no margin for error. It's also less taxing on the mediocre suspension and tires of the Tuono, which have been giving me grief and sapping my confidence on the tighter canyon roads.

Aprilia Tuono Washington Cascades

I'm still a long way from home, but now we are on the final stretch. The excitement of exploring new locales and unknown destinations is subsiding as a return to normality looms; soon it's back to the grind, back to dull reality. It gives me pause as I roll along, inspiring my usual, recurring fantasy of abandoning my world and fucking off into the wild blue yonder.

Always a tantalizing thought for me, but one I rarely act upon. Debt, complacency, and general laziness always conspire against my ability to pull up roots and run for the hills. Plus I have a Ducati in my living room that I am desperately hoping to rebuild soon, a not insignificant task that will hoover up whatever extra funds I can beg and borrow and keep me anchored to a steady paycheque for a while yet.

Aprilia Tuono Bridal Lake British Columbia

It's a cold morning with a layer of slick dew coating the roads, a heavy mist hanging over the mountains around Castlegar. The weather seems to be appropriate for my pensive mood as I finish my journey home and return to reality of a dull 9 to 5 existence. The perfect weather, amazing roads, and stunning vistas of the West coast are far behind me now; only grim reality and the first frosts of a long Canadian winter lie ahead.

I skirt around Kootenay Lake via the Kootenay Pass, a treacherous route that winds high into the mountains and far away from any evidence of the civilization that surrounds it. The temperature plummets as I go up several thousand feet, from a frigid 10 degrees to something below the freezing mark. Fresh chip seal on the road is wet and slick; I gingerly make my way to the peak of the pass, cursing the cold and my lack of heated gear the whole way.

I stop at the summit to watch the mist clear off Bridal Lake while I hopelessly try to warm myself up. After a few moments taking in the beauty of the scene, the peace is interrupted by the raspy putter of a tiny single cresting the peak. A ragged looking old coot riding a motorized bicycle pulls up. I had passed him on the way up the pass but hadn't realized he was riding a homemade moped; I just thought he was some lunatic BC hippie out for an ill-advised morning ride, trundling along a sheer dropoff above a forested abyss in sub-zero temperatures.