The Truth About Cars » motorcycle The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:27:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » motorcycle There’s Fast, And Then There’s Wagon Fast Tue, 03 Dec 2013 03:22:06 +0000

On the days when my Honda CB550 can be bothered to wake up and run properly for my daily commute, I’m frequently passed by everything from HEMI-powered Grand Cherokees to Vulcan-powered Mercury Sables. That’s because the Honda CB550 is only slightly more powerful than a KitchenAid mixer.

This fellow, on the other hand, has a motorcycle capable of reaching 300 km/h on the rev limiter. That’s 186mph in American money. But as you’ll see, it isn’t quite enough.

To me, the most interesting thing about this video is the cognitive dissonance that I, as an American citizen, experience watching it. What these two are doing is perfectly legal. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s perfectly fine. Nevertheless, no laws were broken. I’ve done a few runs to the neighborhood of 160mph on a motorcycle, but there is simply no margin for error at that speed. As bad as a tire failure or road debris can be in a car at 180-plus miles per hour, when you’re on a bike it’s worse. Still, it’s a fun video to watch. There’s always a bigger fish, you know — and, of course, something like a Corvette ZR1 would have walked ‘em both.

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Generation Why: Honda Goes After Millennials On Two Wheels Rather Than Four Wed, 26 Jun 2013 15:32:54 +0000 GROM_2014_10


This is the Honda Grom. In the rest of the world, it’s called the MSX125. Squint really hard, and it almost looks like a Ducati Monster. I say almost because this thing is tiny – those are 12 inch wheels, you know. It packs a whopping 125 cc, much like a scooter, but it has a real 4-speed gearbox. It also gets 130 mpg.

In the post-recession period, motorcycling was a tough go for many young people. The OEMs focused largely on big cruisers and powerful sport bikes, leaving few options for those looking to start responsibly on small or middleweight machines. Ridership was down, especially among younger folks, as insurance costs on big-boy superbikes priced a number of would be riders out of the market.

Enter Honda, which took the bold step of going after the silent demographic that wanted fun middleweight bikes. In the span of two years, we’ve seen the CBR250R, the CBR500 range and now the Grom. The Grom is expected to cost $2999 and is basically a step up from a Ruckus scooter, the spiritual successor to Honda’s old monkey bikes. Glamorous and sexy? Not at all. It does have a certain cool factor, but most importantly, it is cheap and cheap to run. The tiny footprint means it can be parked anywhere.

I think it will do well with the “young urban dweller” demographic that auto makers are trying so hard to capture. All the concerns that they have about cars; parking, insurance, fuel costs, maintenance, they all go out the window with something like the Grom. It will be seen as a much safer alternative to a “big” motorcycle, but it’s also quicker than riding a bicycle. In fact, I can think of a lot of situations where something like a Grom makes a lot of sense, especially for those in between locations where it’s too far to walk but driving can be an equal waste of time since it will take longer to look for parking than it will to make the actual journey.

I’m really intrigued by the concept of the Grom, but outside of urban environments where speeds are low and space is tight, it’s hard to imagine many people getting real value out of a tiny 125cc motorcycle. Nevertheless, if more and more people start moving to these sorts of locales, then transportation options beyond the car will become increasingly viable. The Grom doesn’t seem to be a bad place to start.

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Hooptie Harley Adventures: Hell Project Shovelhead Hauls LeMons Judge To Road America In Style Tue, 28 Aug 2012 14:30:29 +0000 When we speak of hoopties, we generally mean the four-wheeled variety. However, persuading a nowhere-near-complete Malaise Era Project Hell Bike to transport you to a race track 350 miles distant should, in my opinion, stretch the definition to include two-wheelers as well. My cousin Sam, aka Judge Sam of the 24 Hours of LeMons Supreme Court, decided that he needed to hit the fast-forward button on his ’74 Shovelhead project in order to get from his home in Minnesota to the Chubba Cheddar Enduro in proper fashion. The bike wasn’t quite ready and the journey was an extremely arduous one, but it was worth it.
A little background is in order here. Sam was born about the time my parents decided to ditch Minnesota for California, and so I missed out on the biker culture of my relatives who stayed behind. Sam’s father/my uncle was the legendary Dirty Duck, shown here in his early 20s with the ’57 Plymouth Savoy that he used for the very lucrative Mexico-to-Los-Angeles reefer-smuggling trade in the early 1960s. The Duck taught me much of what I know about wrenching on cars, but I never did pick up any interest in motorcycles.

Dirty Duck died in 1989, but I was able to capture one his his thousands of biker tales on tape. Here’s The Legend of Hoot’s Panhead, circa 1967.
Sam, meanwhile, stayed true to old-time biker traditions, but a lengthy stint working as a roughneck in the Wyoming gas fields led to him forsaking two-cylinder Milwaukee machines for various cars and trucks. Finally, back in Minnesota, he picked up this very rough Shovelhead, built during the AMF era.
These days, many of the grizzled outlaw bikers who came up in the 1960s and 1970s have switched to German and British machines, because Harleys have become toys ridden by office-cubicle types who feel like they’re experiencing “freedom” when they trade the Dockers for leathers and go for weekend rides with “Born To Be Wild” on an endless loop in their heads. The younger guys with self-applied tatts who rebuild motorcycle engines on the kitchen counter and think nothing of riding a 50-buck bike across the country tend to pick beater Japanese bikes, because they’re cheap and reliable. There’s not much place for a beater Harley that’s used for everyday transportation these days, but that’s what Sam had in mind for his Shovelhead project.
So, he’d been pecking away at the project for a few years, but decided a couple of months back that he would ride the thing from Savage to Elkhart Lake when it came time for him to judge the Chubba Cheddar Enduro, whatever it took. It has a lot of nice custom touches, influenced by his irony-laden Generation X background. For example, this railroad-style lantern has a light-up skull inside and serves as a taillight. No prairie-dogging cubicle slave ever took a break from his PowerPoint slideshow and imagined putting this sort of thing on his $30,000 bike.
The diamond-plate seat looks uncomfortable, but works fine for the first hundred miles or so. Then it’s very uncomfortable.
With time running out, a lot of the linkages ended up being rigged up with hose clamps, zip-ties, and worse. Sam had to be at the track by Sunday night, and left Savage Saturday afternoon. Things started going wrong right away; the bike developed an intermittent power-loss problem that no amount of carburetor and timing tinkering could fix. Every few miles, something would rattle loose.
Sam feels that motorcycle saddlebags are a sign of irreversible moral decay, which means all his tools had to share space with his other supplies in this bungee’d-down milk crate. It took him about six hours to traverse the first 50 miles. When darkness fell, he would park beneath a lone streetlight in tiny Wisconsin towns in order to spin some wrenches, which meant that he kept getting sweated by citizens unhappy with the appearance of what appeared to be the Lone Biker of the Apocalypse.
This nightmare journey continued through the night, with the Shovelhead continuing to sputter, crap out, and shed parts at regular intervals. Naturally, Sam had no GPS, no smartphone, and no light with which to read his paper map, so he ended up lost in a maze of tiny rural roads in western Wisconsin.
Some of the problems seemed to be electrical in nature, but Sam finally figured out that the carb’s super-rich condition was being caused by his knee blocking the air-cleaner-less carburetor’s intake. Once he adjusted his riding position to put some space between his leg and the carb, the bike ran somewhat better.
Even with all the problems, he kept inching southeast. After spending hours trying to find a cup of coffee in Eau Claire, he rolled into Elkhart Lake at 4:00 AM Monday… about five hours prior to the green flag at the race.
When he wasn’t disciplining miscreant drivers over the course of the weekend, Sam worked at fixing the fritzy wiring harness. Here we see him finding the source of his ignition-system problems.
Eventually, he tore out most of the wiring and started over. LeMons racers were very helpful, loaning tools and expertise, and the racers who knew Harleys— that is, the ones who rode relatively modern bikes— just shook their heads in awe at Sam’s accomplishment on a funky AMF-era Shovelhead.
Back in Savage, the surviving greybeards of Dirty Duck’s generation approve of Sam’s customizing touches, as do the 20-year-old rat-rod types with their primer-black Kawasakis.
When the race was almost finished and I got into the usual huddle with Chief Perp Jay Lamm to decide which team got what trophy, we had a helluva time figuring out who most deserved the Most Heroic Fix award. There were the usual engine swaps and suspension repairs, but nothing that really knocked us out. Then we took a look at Sam’s Shovelhead and decided to give him the Most Heroic Fix.

After the awards ceremony, of course, Sam had to get ready to ride back to Minnesota. The primary drive belt had a pretty bad nick and was making an ominous noise, but nothing could be done about that. He buttoned up the rejuvenated wiring harness and did what adjustments he could.
His new trophy got bungee’d onto the handlebars.
Wednesday morning and time to head west. The trip home was far easier, with most of the bugs having been worked out on the ride out and during further tinkering at the track. Sam made it home in about seven hours, and now he feels confident that the Shovelhead can take him anywhere. Say, for example, to a California LeMons race!

20 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1974 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]> 17
Morgan 3 Wheeler Being Offered To Eccentric American Anglophiles Mon, 30 Apr 2012 14:38:43 +0000

51 years ago, my beloved Grandfather emigrated from England. Despite being a man of modest means, he immediately went out and bought himself the biggest, V8 powered American sedan he could buy (the exact make remains obscure – it tends to change every time my grandmother tells the story), swearing off British cars and his cursed MG Magnette for life. He would be just as bewildered as I am that there is any demand for the Morgan 3 Wheeler in the United States that would result in U.S. sales.

Based on an American design dubbed the Liberty Ace, the Morgan weighs 1,155 lbs, with motivation coming from an 80 horsepower 2.0L V-Twin engine mated to a Mazda Miata 5-speed gearbox. In the UK, the car costs about $40,o00, but pricing hasn’t been announced Stateside. Liberty, along with two other outlets (likely in California and on the East Coast) will be the sole dealers for the car. Morgan will be promoting the car in the Gumball 3000 rally.

Expect to see Jay Leno and a few others take delivery of what is essentially a glorified Can-Am Spyder. I’ll take an AeroMax, thank you very much.

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Piston Slap: What is The Poor Man’s TARDIS? Tue, 01 Nov 2011 18:45:30 +0000  

TTAC commentator horseflesh writes:


Last year I wrote to you seeking the B&B’s help in selling a car. Well, Grandma’s Park Avenue is gone now, in short, I found that the best way to sell a Buick is to befriend a used car dealer and supply him with BBQ meats until he calls some other guys he knows who move a lot of Grandma cars. Done correctly, this takes your friend 5 minutes on the phone, and costs you only 15 minutes at a dealer. It’s a beautiful thing!

But now that the Buick is gone I find myself needing another vehicle… also large, and perhaps also white. I’m looking for something cheap and boxy to haul my toys around in. Mountain bikes, scuba gear, model airplanes… These things can be moved around with a sedan, but it’s a chore and there is never enough room for everything. Oh, there is a Triumph Bonneville 750 in the garage too, so naturally it needs to be taken to the mechanic from time to time. And did I mention the pinball machines that I need to move sometimes? Currently I need to ask friends with trucks for help with those things, and I’d like to become self-sufficient.

So, the ideal vehicle will have a fully enclosed cargo area of TARDIS-like capacity, be indifferent to muddy toys, and be able to haul 500 lbs of broken British motorcycle plus two people. It will be a changing room and occasionally a workshop when a toy breaks. It won’t have to go off-road, but it will have to handle a dirt road. Some kind of sink and potable water tank would be a big plus too–that isn’t mandatory, but being cheap and reliable is.

The ubiquitous Ford E-150 van looks like the right sort of thing, but I don’t know anything about its reliability when well-used, or what other good options might be.

Sajeev Answers:

Yup, you need a full size van. Maybe a Chevy Astro-like Minivan, as they are also cheap and reliable. But the Astro isn’t exactly made for drivers with left feet, so maybe the bigger vans are a smarter idea. Plus, you can get that sink you so greatly desire.

The E-150 is indeed the obvious choice, as it is the 800lb Gorilla in this market. Sprinter Vans are pricey and quite the PITA to service unless you are a certified Sprinter Technician. The older Dodge vans might be okay, but all the ones I’ve experienced suffered from off putting transmission woes. The newer Chevy Express isn’t much to write home about, but the older ones were pretty frickin’ tough and easy on the eyes. You know, for a van.

Oh, and thanks for not giving us a budget to work with. That said, I am assuming you are looking for a beater in the $10,000 or less range…or not much higher.

In that realm? Most definitely the van with the most service records. I’d stick with Fords and Chevys in your price range, with the standard V8, and a smooth (yet not sloppy) shifting transmission. You might find a custom van is your best value, even if you’ll need to hack it up a bit to be more cargo friendly.

Enjoy your rolling TARDIS.

Send your queries to . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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