Category Archives: Motorcycle Madness

Dedicated to all things directly, and sometimes indirectly, motorcycle related.

Q is for Quietness…

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…culled from On City Streets, a quick read described as ****A remarkable compendium of poems and photographs that captures the heart and soul of the city and its people****

Perhaps…but one must question the placement of a cafe racer beneath a poem extolling the virtues of silence. But, perhaps it was a little joke by the editor. On City Streets was published in 1968, and one can imagine the noisy little two-stroke blasting around the empty avenues of a 1960’s Sunday’s Manhattan. Note the single downturned bar-end mirror, air scoop on the front drum, and low handlebars. As for the rider; bubble helmet, fingerless gloves, and loafers complete the look. At first glance, the bike is a Kawasaki..one of their infamous two strokes. But no…it’s something else. A Bultaco…maybe?

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a Boy and his CB500T

…smoking nude in a beach chair chugging an ice cold Coors 24 oz can, my tiny rented room in Flatbush filling up with acrid cigar smoke making its way into every nook and cranny. The heat is oppressive and the blinds shut. The Cuban hails from Buenos Aires, an archaeological remnant of the last great ride…

First apartment in NYC. My 81 year old Chinese roommate.

First apartment in NYC. My 81 year old Chinese roommate and kitchen shower.

Look, fielding the voluminous amount of fan mail that we receive here at Silveryboy on a daily, even hourly, basis is a full-time job. One boy, or even a boy and his bike, cannot do it alone. We already have jobs, bad ones, and we can’t afford to hire someone or cobble together the infrastructure needed to care for an intern. Regardless, it seems that people need closure. What happened to the CB500T? How did you get back to New York?

The book is definitively shut on the South American exodus wrought and wrung out on the legendary CB500T. But less simply, yea the CB and me spent an inordinate amount of time together. Time and miles. We did something like 40,000 miles from New York to the Arctic Circle and then to Tierra del Fuego. The CB500T is an alright bike I guess, but it is a bike and not a horse; a machine meant to be used and bought and sold and traded and given away. Eventually it will return to the earth from whence it came, a loose conglomeration of metals and minerals and vitamins and oil. But does it have a soul?

Watching Richard with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. The Cb500T, would never stop. It would never leave him, and it would never hurt him, never shout at him, or get drunk and hit him, or say it was too busy to spend time with him. It would always be there. And it would die, to protect him. Of all the would-be bikes who came and went over the years, this thing, this machine, was the only one who measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice…

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Indeed the CB500T was a finicky little beast, requiring constant attention, but its most pleasing trait, above all and everything, was it’s reliability. It was unbearably heavy and ill-equipped for the mud roads of Latin America. Kick start only. Well, that’s about it I guess and a body can’t really complain too hard. There were only a few places it just could not go. But it never stopped. 40,000 miles and it never broke theatrically in the middle of the desert or downtown Tegucigalpa, shedding a piston or cracking a case. I hope that if it stands for something it would be a symbolic fuck you to anyone riding a brand new BMW adventure motorcycle in a plastic suit.

CB500T highlights:

  • 40,000 miles and nary a flat tire
  • 7 tires used
  • 6 chains
  • in the end it became a total loss oiling system. this was due to a leaking seal and buying oil was cheaper and easier than sourcing the seal in south america
  • i used to oil the chain with used motor oil and everything from my legs back was covered with it
  • only ever serious problem was a stripped spark plug hole. it still made it to the machinist on one cylinder at 6,000 feet.
  • the clutch cable setup was horrible and the cheap bicycle grade cables would snap every few thousand miles. This happened in the middle of the desert, the middle of Patagonia, and on the windswept wastes of Tierra del Fugeo. To fix is a complicated process
  • I had 4 people on the back in the Amazon
  • the rear frame cracked because of that a couple weeks later, then cracked again in Peru
  • epic Fail on Ruta 40. 2 hours of troubleshooting led to shorted wire behind the broken speedo

P1050184The truth was that I planned on blowing it up. In Potosi, Bolivia they sell dynamite at the miner’s market. It only costs a few dollars for a stick of dynamite, fuse, and detonator. I smuggled some out of Bolivia and into Chile by hiding it in a bunch of clothes but when I went to check into Argentina they had these scanning machines. Like, in the middle of the Atacama desert at 14,000 feet at this total outpost. I got nervous…pretended that I had to go back to the bike to get something, dug a little trench with my boot, put the dynamite into it, and covered it up with gravel. Some truck will probably run over it someday, killing someone. Anyway, I had no idea what to expect but..nothing. I just got waved through. No search, nothing. The x-ray machines probably weren’t even plugged in. It’s Argentina man…I didn’t know any better.

Regardless, I was going to light it on fire. Yet, a body tends to get more pragmatic towards the end of things. Patagonia had been breached, conquered. I had supped with seals and dined with penguins. While rich indeed in experience, I realized that I am not a rich man. Maybe people think that but there was no trust fund. There was no rich Dad. There was only…the road. And gas, and food, and oil and beer. I wore the same clothes for 2 years and carried the same tent 40,000 miles. The CB was sold in Chilean Patagonia, the only one of its ilk to be delivered thusly, via tarmac all the way from the Arctic Circle.

2 days later I was back in NYC and things have been weird ever since, Bro.

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The Great Ratsby: Douche Ex Machina²

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For what it’s worth, I thought Marlo’s comment regarding the last Douche Ex Machina post was quite clever, brilliant. Anyone who’s anyone and anyone who’s a fan of this site knows that it’s all tongue in cheek type stuff and that taken at surface level, a lot of this shit doesn’t really make much sense. It does really, as long as you’ve been following along and using your manboy decoder ring while all the while soaking in the essence of what this all actually is, what the great ride actually was, and what being a part of the manchild experience is all about; equal parts gumption, sticktoitiveness, and a healthy disregard for all things milquetoast. These things mixed in the proper amounts and ratios will propel a body and its 1975 Honda motorbike to the ends of the earth.

Understand that and understand the inherent distrust of all things douche because one knows in their heart of hearts that one’s pink shirt would be covered in dirt and grease and shit, especially if you don’t have a front fender and especially if you’re oiling your chain always and often like you should. It is a known fact that all olden-tyme motorbikes are filthy and covered in grease and tar. They fling chain grease all over the rear wheel and the back of one’s pant leg and leak oil on one’s boots. We know this because we rode one to Argentina. C’mon dog, how are you going to change a tire while wearing that tiny children’s blazer?

“ha! i guess you noticed. But the show is about this marketing agent who is riding his bike at the speed limit or just below everywhere. From one hip party to another. It just so happens that one fine day two young kids put a stump out into the middle of wantagh ave as he’s headed to another awesome party at Steve Reinti’s brothers house. He flies over the handlebars and scrapes off his entire face. The doctors can’t perform plastic surgery cause for that he would have to become sober (he’s an alcoholic) and so on. The rest of the season he tries to be cool, but everyone disowns him and he becomes this loner outcast eating rat shit and shit, sucking on rat dicks for more rat shit rations and so on. it’s a good show. give it a chance. Great American riches to rags story.” says Marlo.

Brilliant right? Well, yes of course, but a lot of the quote’s brilliance relies on one obscure reference. To get it, you’d have to go back in time to one’s salad days in Levittown, back to the days when one was cutting his teeth as a young middleschoolian punk. Some Saturday or something, summer vacation or after school Marlo and I grew tired of lighting shit on fire in his backyard and wandered aimlessly around Levittown. Under the mailbox on the corner of Wantagh Ave and Rope Lane was this tree stump, about the size say of a motorcycle helmet but heavy. Solid. It’s probably still there. Somehow, through a chance kick perhaps, it was discerned that said stump was not really rooted to anything, but just a wooden stump sliced even on the top and bottom, weirdly resting under that mailbox. We did what anyone would do and threw it into the street so that a car would hit it. Every car, like they should have, drove around this big heavy lump of wood lying in the middle of the street and then, to our delight, a huge box  trunk ran directly over it, first front wheels then back, gaining noticeable air BAM! BAM! and next squirting it into the path of a speeding motorcycle which missed hitting the stump, and likely a terrible accident, disfigurement or death, and dire consequences for two young boys, by inches. We say inches but likely centimeters WHOOSh!

That’s all well and good but remember that these are things that come to mind when rememberances are dreampt of a misspent youth growing up in America’s first suburb. And remember still that there is a way to succeed and a way to suck rat dicks.

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Gentleboys, start your engines. 

Lost in the Darien: Secret Journals of Subcommandante Dickie leaked to Latin American Press Gazette

Dear Father and Mother,

March is the month that I remember which brings not only your wedding anniversary but also Father’s Day and Mother’s birthday. I’m sorry I can’t remember the exact dates, but I hope this card will take care of them all. I’m sorry again I cannot send you my whereabouts like I promised to last year, though I will let on that I am somewhere south of the Darien. The sensitive nature of my work for the government demands the utmost secrecy. I know you will understand. I am healthy and well and seeing lots of things and I even have a recipe for turtle. I have been going with a brown-skinned latina girl for several moons now and I know you would be proud if you could see her. Her name is Betsy but I can tell you no more than that…I hope this card finds you all well as it does me. I hope no one has died. Don’t worry about me. One day, they’ll be a knock on the door and it’ll be me.

Sobre todos con mucho mucho amor

su hijo,

 Subcommandante Dickie.

Let it be known that there is no road between North and South America. No hay camino. Solamente jungla. It’s all jungle. The Darien Gap separates Panama and Colombia and they say it’s dangerous. My guide book says it’s crawling with snakes and angry Indios and the FARC guerillas, all waiting to gobble up lost souls. There was an idea to ditch the bike and hike it but the Panamanians won’t let you through. For your own protection they say.

And now the only safe passage to South America is by boat or plane.

The decision was made to do the Darien on one of the countless overpriced sailboats that ply the coast, ferrying people and 1975 Honda motorcycles back and forth from Panama to Colombia. Overpriced yes, but yet still the cheapest and seemingly most attractive option because you get to spend a few days in the idyllic San Blas islands snorkeling with the Gods. They just strap the bike to the back of the boat and cover it with a tarp, and charge you the same as if it was another person. It doesn’t even get fed, although the CB is always hungry (for adventure). And I’m not a sailor but it seems that you can’t pull a sailboat up to a dock because it sits too deep in the water, so to put a motorcycle on one you first have to put the bike in a smaller boat and then transfer it to the sailboat while both boats are bobbing up and down in the water.

You can’t just drive it on the boat with a ramp or something.

Guey.

P.S.

Godamn these guidebooks. The MooN Guide to Panama sports a boxed text tip to bring a lifejacket to Panama just “to be on the safe side,” especially if you know in advance that you’ll be making any sort of water based trip. What sort or retrosade writes this malarkey? They are easy to carry in your luggage, says MooN. A bald faced lie to anyone who has ever donned a puffy lifejacket. Donate it to a boatsman before you return, that way you’ll have extra space for souvenirs, it says. Si, senor. Yo necesito mas espacio para mi “I went to Panama and I all I got was leshmaniasis” camiseta. I have leshmaniasis. It’s gross…

Backpackers are nerdy enough, but to be bobbing about in a lancha and witness a doughy sun-scarred European rip a home-brought lifejacket out of their oversized backpack or wheeled suitcase would be a divine spectacle, one for the ages and sages, and one that might just bring out the inner bully in anyone, provided they even knew what they were seeing.

Always better to ride the bike than to ride the dog, dog.

Tuesdays with Abi and the Oaxacan Wunderkind

Ruta 175 down old Oaxacan way stretches through the mountains and into the clouds, bringing intrepid travellers just a little bit closer to God, before dropping off into the jungle and ending on the tepid shores of el Pacifico. 100 miles of curves.

Guey.

Best to Listen

Zero hour inches ever closer. Soon it shall come and soon it shall pass.

I’ve moved out of my apartment and have been living with my parents for the past week. As wonderful as that is, I am now ripe for departure. Many loose ends have been tied up and yet still many remain left untied, dangling and loose, a testament to my legacy. No worries really, for they’ll be here when I return.

Or will they?

Time will tell.

Or won’t it?

Bah, enough of that; on to more pressing concerns.

My cracked muffler collar has been welded up, thanks to nycvinmoto connections and one Seth Rosko, who welded me up at this little shop in Bushwick and also hooked me up with a set of cb450 headers. Dude did a really good job. Weld was perfect. Mr. Rosko makes custom bicycle and moto parts for a living and races old motos in his spare time. He’s good at it. We talked bikes for a while and discussed the influx of technology and social media into the pantheon of man, for it is ubiquitous and all encompassing. I left inspired to create a flickr account, and then was reminded once more why it is so important that I leave this place as I plodded through NYC traffic in the steamy marroon cauldron that is my Buick Park Avenue for an hour and a half on the way home, the incessant beeping of the parking brake warning chime that has been stuck on for the past four months driving me to the brink of madness.

And alas, I’m sorry Seth, for I will not be using the headers. They require too much manipulation to fit and won’t seal up well enough to the exhaust port, with little puffs of exhaust belying leakage. It’s all well and good though as it will give me a chance to stop worrying and love the CB500T crossover box, which I have thus far so thoroughly maligned. I could try to fit them once more, but I won’t. It is too hot and I am not in the mood. I have come to realize that this is never a good state to work on your moto. Best to be cool and in the mood. Regardless, the CB has received enough attention and I’m already developing an unhealthy co-dependent relationship with it.  Look, this is just the way I am and I obsess over my machines. In the past week, I’ve spooned on a new rear tire, replaced all the wheel bearings, rebuilt the carbs, put in a new heavy duty front tube, and trued that front wheel. It’s as ready as it will ever be. I bought new coils for it, but I’m not going to put them in. I’ll throw them in the saddlebag in the event of failure and replace them on the road if need be. Fuck it, we’ll do it live. The CB will either make it or it won’t.  If you listen closely enough, the motorcycle Gods will whisper in your ear that if it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it.

Best to listen.

Blame it on the rain…

Zip ties to the rescue once more friends.

A non-firing cylinder produced all sorts of worries yesterday as the CB500T coughed and sputtered forth under gray and sullen skies. Running alternately at full power with both cylinders blasting and then, seemingly out of the blue, wheezing and coughing on one strong but singular lung. There was no rhyme or reason here and educated guesses as to the cause of the problem included water in the gas, a funky spark plug, and/or a shorted coil; all owing to the drenching rains that we’ve been receiving this past week. Friends were coming over soon for yet another end-of-the-world/going-away bbq bash and I had to dash any plans I had of delving into this inopportune problem.

Of course, I thought about the Cb the entire time and was unable to enjoy my bbq. Even after 10 beers.

…so I came directly home after work today and got to work, stripped that bitch down and systematically eliminated all possible culprits. A quick points check revealed no spark on the right cylinder. But why? Check the coil. Yes, there it is, a broken connection. Bah, we’ve found the problem. Simple really, but I’m at my apartment and my extra electrical bits are not here. The female Y-connector has shed part of its receptacle and will no longer accept its male compatriot. We need a good connection here to make sparks and go forth into the promised land. This is nothing man. Necessity is the mother of invention and a temporary fix with some wire and a couple of zip ties was all that was needed to get the beast going again. See you in Alaska, dog.

See it?