Tag Archives: the motoworld podcast

Where to find inspiration

I have spent the past years going to races, interviewing racers and loving every minute of it…even when my recorder fails me, like it did today. I have interviewed roadracers and flat trackers and they all have one thing in common, a true passion for racing. Passion and the love of the sport is what drives them each and every day. They eat, sleep and breathe motorcycle racing.

On the way up here last week, Heather and I were talking about others that we have met and talked with that aren’t racers but are doing what they have a passion for in motorcycling. We realized that we produce The MotoWorld out love for motorcycling and motorcycle people, my friend Mitch Boehm of Moto Retro Illustrated magazine started the magazine out of his passion for Vintage motorcycles, and another started photographing motorcycle races following his passion for racing.

Normally when The MotoWorld goes to races we focus our interviews on the racers. Once in a while we’ll talk to a mechanic or technician, but ninety nine percent of the time it’s the racers. This time we decided that we would still talk to as many racers as we could, but also talk with journalists, photographers, anyone that is doing what they do in motorcycling for the love of it. It was amazing the stories that were told to me of following dreams, having something just fall into your lap and never let go of it, to see something start from nothing and watch it grow. The look on a person’s face while they’re telling their story is priceless.

I couldn’t have wished for a greater collection of interviews. In the coming weeks on The MotoWorld podcast you’ll be able to listen to life stories from World Champion racer and Speed TV broadcaster Scott Russell; Superbike Planet.com king Dean Adams; world traveler, journalist and photographer Neale Bayle; author, racer, journalist, and philosopher Peter Jones; SpeedTV broadcaster Ralph Shaheen; Spanish TV announcer and former racer himself Dennis Noyes. All of these men have inspiring stories about following a dream to work and the life they love.

As I said in the beginning here, we do The MotoWorld because we love what we do, and after spending time with these men I love The MotoWorld even more. It’s a good thing it is a labor of love cuz there ain’t no money in it.

And yes, there are going to be good fun racer interviews in there too.

The Church of Speed

Welcome to Sunday morning at the Church of Speed. Everyone is dressed in their Sunday best; racers in their finest leathers, photographers with their cameras hanging around their neck like jewelry, journalists writing sermons, and spectators holding their beers like Holy Water. It’s a perfect Sunday for church in Utah; sunny, not a cloud in the sky, and no wind. All in all a perfect day if you have to spend all of it in church.

The riders are running their practice session right now, the pits are in a flurry and the sound of engines warming up is like the cacophony of a thousand church bells ringing at once. The riders go out for a few laps then dive back into the pits, talk with the mechanics, a few quick adjustments are made and the rider heads back out. Four or five laps later this communal ritual will be repeated. The mechanics are like the brothers in a monastery of exotic high speed machinery, the crew chief is the priest who controls all that happens in his church, and the rider is a mere minion. The congregation is starting to file into the church now.

The congregation, the faithful, will receive their reward in the form of ‘Superpole’. This a sacred ritual that determines which riders sit in the front pews and which listen to the sermon from the back of the church. The faithful watch this ritual with great anticipation knowing that the rider who can read the passages the fastest will gain favor with the monsignor and recieve his blessing, pole position for the race.

Today is the Sunday school before the Mass. This weekend Mass is actually going to be held tomorrow, Monday, because of Memorial Day. Often times though, Sunday school is more exciting.

The trials and tribulations of a cub photojournalist

The MotoWorld’s staff photographer, Heather, got a new toy a couple of weeks ago, a new camera. This is no ordinary camera, it’s basically a computer that happens to take pictures. I’m still using an Instamatic. A few pictures at home for some practice and they all turned out great. Bedtime reading for two weeks was the two thousand page manual, well, at least it looked that thick. But the true test is coming all too soon.

Photographing dogs and roses isn’t quite the same as a motorcycle going by at well over 100 miles per hour. Don’t worry honey there is no stress. During our eleven hour sojourn up here to the racetrack more manual reading was in order. New discoveries of what this marvel will do, and new panics. Really, no stress, our friend Dan from Cornerspeed Photo will be there to help.

The first test session was actually at the local Friday night motocross and the results were quite impressive. This morning is the real test flight. CSpeed Dan took Heather on her maiden voyage to the track, an hour so later she’s downloading over a thousand pictures, don’t you just love four frames per second speed. Then came the daunting task,editing. Every few minutes I hear a heavy sigh.

So after some serious eliminations she has come up with some pretty terrific pictures for a cub photojournalist don’t you think.

Superbike Schmuperbike

I’m supposed to be writing this morning what a great day today is going be here at World Superbike, but last night I found the best entertainment value here by the track. No, they don't have those kind of clubs around here, this is Utah you know.

Yeah, World Superbike is exciting and being here at the race is always special. The racing is the best in the motosports world and the facility here at Miller Motorsports Park is the best we attend all year. Yesterday was a somewhat quiet day, some interviews with racers and other journalists, some photos and in general just settling in. Our day ended around 6:30 in the evening looking forward to a nice cold Martini and hoping our tent hadn't blown away.

When we got back to the Deseret Complex the first sound we heard was the sigh of relief that our deluxe accommodations were still standing, the second sound was the local motocross track. We sat in our chairs, chatted with new arrivals and neighbors, planned supper and watched the sun on the snow in the mountains…an excellent evening. After supper it was still too early to go to bed, off to the Friday night motocross we went, it’s only 100 yards away, why not?

As we went in it was obvious that this is truly a family event: moms, dads and kids all dressed in their MX gear, pushing their bikes around and watching friends race. For the next two hours we watched dads helping out the little pee wee racers, giving them a push when they got stuck in a corner, even off the starting line. It didn’t matter whose kid it was, there was a mom or a dad cheering them on. The bigger kids meant faster racing, bigger jumps, boys and girls. And of course there were the old guys, and now it was the pee wee’s cheering on dad, or mom in some cases. We were parked next to a family with four trophies on the tailgate of their truck, a fast family.

Yep, the local Friday night motocross is by far the best entertainment this weekend, and if you ever have a chance to go to your local motocross track to watch the pee wees race, take your camera and be prepared to smile, grimace, laugh, and cheer on the little tikes on their little bikes. I wish we could do it again tonight.

Cruisin’ the pit’s…always fun

CIMG5935We just got back from cruising the pits which I love doing. I love watching mechanics swarm over a motorcycle when it comes in off the track. The rider jumps off, starts talking to the crew chief, the bike goes up on the stands, if it is going back out the tyre warmers go on or new wheels put on, a technician hooks up a laptop computer to download the information from the bikes computer, evrything is checked over, everyone has their job, including the guy that polishes the bike. The rider going back out hasn’t even taken off his helmet and is surrounded by mechanics, tyre tech and a suspension tech. Controlled chaos…I love it.

If the session is over or there is serious problem with the motorcycle it’s less chaotic, but not much. Computer tech plugs into the bike, wheels come off, bodywork comes off and work begins. The motorcycle looks a skeleton of itself. It’s a similar story if the practice session is over. The mechanics still swarm the motorcycle, the computer tech hooks into the bike instantly, wheels come off, bodywork comes off, mechanics are discecting every thing. The bike looks like a skeleton of itself.CIMG5870

This time the riders helmet is off he get’s a chance to sit down and is surrounded by the crew. They analyze the data from the computer,they talk about feel and how to improve the bike. Debriefing they call it and it takes about twenty to thirty minutes. Mechanics are working away and and that’s when we in the media get a chance to talk to the rider about how things are going. This is a great job.CIMG5974

Superbikes return to Utah…and so do we.

Well, it was a year ago that we started down the path motojournalism and what road it it has become. The MotoWorld Podcast has more than tripled in listeners, magazine articles being published and more traveling, which brings us back to Utah, more specifically Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, UtahCIMG5854

Last year we arrived after midnight, the campground gate was closed and we ended up sleeping in the back of the truck on a windy night. When we got up in the morning to get our credentials we looked like something the cat dragged, at least I did. I’m surprised they let us in. We vowed right then and there the next year would be different. The rest of the weekend went great, we were motojournalists.

This year the preparations were better, equipment better and the trip up much better. A little less than twelve hours drive and we arrive at camp in daylight!!! Woohoo. We caught up with a couple old friends, made plans for a get together, had an evening libation and crawled into nice warm sleeping bags.

This is the U.S round of the Superbike World Championships and really excited about it. This year we know where to go, what to do, how to do it and who to see. The media center here at Miller Motorsports is full of the “Rock Stars” of motorcycle journalism from all over the world. Looking over the shoulders of the best phographers in Moto Sports ia awe inspiring.

Today is Friday, mostly practice and setup for the race teams and the energy level is so high it’s catching. A couple of American ‘Wild Card’ racers including the first woman in World Supersport racing.There are new race teams, new bikes and a great race series going on right now.There is nothing like the World Championships coming to your backyardCIMG5852

Family ties and Vintage Racing

Last weekend was the annual AHRMA Moto Corsa Classica at Willow Springs Raceway here in Southern California. Motorcycle racing, a classic motorcycle show and a swap meet…what else could a proper motorcycle nut want? Great weather (even with the required Willow Springs ‘breeze’..read 35mph wind!!), catching up with old racing friends and making new ones.CIMG5661
When I first started down the dark path of ‘Vintage’ motorcycle racing back in the early nineties, I thought racing a Honda 350 would be an easy and not too expensive way to dip my toes in the water. In my early research I came across the guru of building racing Honda’s, Todd Henning. I spent a good amount of time with Todd on the phone and learned that building a really competitive 350 was not the cheap entry into vintage racing I thought it would be. I learned a lot from Todd and ended up using some of that knowledge on my street-going 350’s. Thank you Todd.

Ten years ago, Todd had a serious crash while racing the AHRMA race at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma California resulting in head injury and a long time in a coma. It took a while, but thankfully Todd did recover. His racing career was over, however. But…the Henning dynasty lives on.

While cruising the pits at the Willow Springs AHRMA races I saw a young man getting into his leathers, the name on his chest, Ari. Next to his truck was a motorcycle I thought I recognized, a very well set up Honda 350. It turns out that Ari is Ari Henning, Todd Henning’s son and it was his dad’s old racebike next to the truck. A quick introduction and asking how his dad was doing, we arranged for a better meeting later in the day. CIMG5660

Ari went on to win both races he was entered in that day. Afterwards we had a good chat about his new career as a moto-journalist with Motorcyclist Magazine and finished up with a call to his proud dad. There is an old racing saying, “age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill”; in young Ari Henning riding his fathers racer it’s the best of both worlds.CIMG5710

The Sunday Ride

rockstoreThe Sunday ride can take many forms and many routes. My Sunday rides started with desert races and enduro’s on a Bultaco Matador. Then, when I was old enough for a drivers license, I rode the same Matador all over the place…it was street legal…it had to be for enduro’s. The hills of the San Fernando and the Santa Clarita Valley’s were prime riding area’s. Jeep trails, single track trails, small hill climbs..it didn’t matter,,we got to ride any where we wanted. Well, kind of…Too much fun.

As time went on and population grew, off-road riding areas shrank. Fences, signs and the Sheriffs Dept took away a lot of the fun. Oh well, life goes on…so does riding.

Fast forward a bit, it’s off dirt bikes and on to streetbikes. Quite a change really, dirt bikes…lots of clean and prep work (Ok..repair the crash damage from last weekend..); streetbikes… check the air pressure in the tyres, check the oil, maybe wash it, fill up the gas tank and you’re on the road. Sometimes you have a destination in mind and other times it’s just wherever the road takes you.
On a Sunday ride a while back I saw a friend that I used to ride with every Sunday. We started reminiscing about days and rides gone by…hey, that’s what happens when you start to get older, you can’t help it…we talked about rides, friends and bikes.3097402671_1376ec8d23

For a number of years a group of us would meet early on Sunday mornings,(really early if there was a Formula One race on TV) have coffee, look over what each of us had done or not done on our bikes and plan our ride. The route was based on two things..first, where to eat and second, the most entertaining way to get there. The general rule was a tank of gas away and a tank of gas back. As you can imagine we had some very creative routes.

Over the years the group grew and shrank and the Sunday rides were a little farther apart…life seems to have a way of interferring with what is really important. Babies came along, some friends moved away, work got in the way, old bikes needed work and worst of all… the dreaded ‘Honey-Do List’.

Recently some riding friends have been getting together at a local bike night and plans of reviving the Sunday ride are in the works. Put the babies in the side car, pretend the lawn mower won’t start and put a new battery in that old Norton. Spring is here, lets go for a ride…where is the best breakfast about 100 miles from here???

See you Sunday.

These guys are sick

We here at Motoworld Central are not prejudiced at all. Got a motor in or on it? We love it. Gas, diesel, electric, we don’t care as long as it powers something fun. Over the course of time I have gone from a lawnmower engine powered mini-bike to a barn packed with thirteen motorcycles. A couple of boats along the way…a hole in the water you pour money into…electric trains all over the place, slot cars and I still have a ’63 Ford Fairlane hot rod parked in the driveway. But yesterday I met a group of guys who have a sickness worse than any of those I have…model airplane flyers.img_9692

My good friend and traveling partner Jeff is one of these guys. Jeff loves building, making, fixing, tinkering with any and everything. No wonder he’s high school shop teacher and handyman. Anyway…a couple of years ago he got into flying model airplanes. At first it was pretty innocent ” oh, I remember I had one of these when I was a kid and I thought it would be fun to do with Amy” . Reality check here…Amy, his daughter, has nothing to do with this, Jeff is a ‘gadget, gizmo, widget, what can I tinker with next’ junkie. Now, his shop is floor to ceiling airplanes and yesterday I learned that other motorcycling friends of mine have that same disease. I wore a necklace of garlic so I woudn’t catch the sickness.

The Channel Islands img_0012Condors Flying Club put on a classic old school style ‘all you can eat breakfast’ to raise money for some good cause or another and I volunteered to help cook. Yeah, I’m a sucker for that sort of thing and besides, I haven’t been around model airplanes at all since I was a kid and it sounded like fun. My how things have changed. It was quiet.

It was too quiet. Where are the planes flying? “Look up dummy and welcome to the 21st Century”. Model airplanes powered by electric motors. OK.  But wait, whats missing? There is something about the sound of a plane climbing and climbing and climbing then starting to spiral down, dead engine, and then at the last minute the engine starts again and the plane avoids a close encounter with the ground. That’s what’s missing, the ethereal experience of the sound of a motor.  img_9623 The planes were beautiful,the flying skills were wonderful to watch and it was just like sitting around at any motorcycle hangout and listening to riders talk about their motorcycles. There are guys having a great time flying their $200 airplane and guys crashing their $30,000 airplane. Just like a Sunday at the Rock Store, but with wings instead of wheels.

Stop on a dime and get nine cents change. Pt1

OK boys and girls, how many of you live where your bike is parked for the winter? Let’s see a show of hands. One, two, three…wow… too many to count. Now here is where I could gloat…living in So Cal and riding year round… but I won’t. I’m your friend, I’m here to help.  Our last podcast (www.themotoworld.libsyn.com) we reviewed motorcycle video games; good fun but only for a little while. Some of us have project bikes to build…I’m working on my Honda 350 Cafe Racer… and we all have maintenance work to do. Whats your project? I have a good one for you and actually, it’s the most important maintenance project you can do.

phpthumb_generated_thumbnailjpegStop!!! Literally.  It’s time to either upgrade your brakes or simply service your current braking system.  Brakes are something we take for granted until they don’t work. But you’re thinking “my brakes work fine, I’ve had no problems…I’d rather put a pipe on, change the bars,  powdercoat or chrome the frame, install a GPS, buy some new saddlebags and maybe a new set of tires.” Yeah OK, lets try this again…It doesn’t matter how fast you can go if you can’t stop when you need to.  Let’s make your bike stop better. And, besides, it’s a good winter project.

My day job has had me working with motorcycle brakes for a long time and I’m always amazed at how little riders know about their brakes. From how they work to how to use them. There are a number of riding schools that can teach you how to use your brakes and those lessons are valuable but, most ‘stock’ brake systems are lacking performance. Brake upgrades are easy and not too expensive.

Let’s start with the biggest improvement you can make to your motorcycle, install a set of braided steel brake lines. You will not believe the improvement in performance and feel. Honest. The stock rubber brake lines are junk, jettison them as fast as you can. When you buy a new or used motorcycle, the very first thing you should do is replace the brake lines!standard-galfer-ss-line-kit

Motorcycle brakes 101. What happens when squeeze the brake lever?  Class?..Anyone?…Anyone?  Here’s the basics of your brake system..pull on the brake lever or step on the pedal, fluid is forced from the master cylinder down to the caliper to squeeze the pads onto the rotor and, voila..your motorcycle slows down. Nice. Now picture this, when you send fluid down the stock rubber lines the first thing that happens is that as the pressure increases the rubber expands, kind of like a balloon, then…the fluid heads to the caliper and the general feeling at the lever is vague.

Picture number two; you squeeze the brake lever and your bike slows down faster than it ever has..even better than when it was new!! Stainless lines don’t  expand, they transmit the energy right now, right to the caliper, right to your disc and you came to a stop a lot sooner than you used to. Nicer. Then there is the feel at the brake lever. Positive and predictable. Nicer still. The ability to modulate your brakes entering the corner, mid corner and exiting the corner is crucial to confidence in your riding. You know exacxtly how the brakes are working, no mushiness, no vagueness, just positive feel at your fingertips.

Installing new lines is really easy. Buy the new line kit from your local shop or online store, it should have all the parts you will need…lines, bolts and washers. Get a new bottle of high quality brake fluid, DOT4 or 5.1. Don’t use the one sitting on your shelf since last time you added a bit a year ago. Next, read the installation directions. This is not a piece of IKEA furniture, it’s your life so a couple of minutes reading the manufacturers instructions is a good thing.

Remove the old lines and pay attention to the routing. Some aftermarket line kits have different routing and some are the same as OEM so just look carefully at what you had and what you now have. One thing to add here; always disconnect the brake lines first at the calipers and let them drain out before you disconnect at the the master cylinder and always cover any painted surface with a towel or rag so you don’t accidentally drip brake fluid (which could eat your paint job) on your bike.

After the old brake lines are off install the new lines. But wait….now is the time to make sure you have your routing correct. Hook everything up but don’t tighten everything down just yet. Once the lines are on, move the suspension up and down..no binding?..good. Now move the steering left to right; again, no binding?…good. If your bike has a fairing, the lines aren’t catching anywhere?…good. Looks like you’re set to finish the job.

Before you tighten down all the bolts be aware of one VERY important thing…some aftermarket brakeline companies have different torque spec’s than the motorcycle manufacturer. Back to step one…read the directions.  Many Aftermarket companies use aluminum bolts instead of steel so the torque specs are often times much lower and ‘Armstrong’ torque wrenches aren’t very valid. Make sure you have a good torque wrench and use it per the directions.

Everything is all hooked up, it doesn’t bind and now it’s time for fluid. A good high quality Dot 4 or Dot 5.1 and you are ready. Fill and bleed the system..this is where it is good to have a friend.  But let’s say you don’t have any friends, I have a solution for you, remember, I’m here to help.  The EZ Bleeder. a90f_21We have all used or heard about the Mighty Vac to suck the air out of your brake system but the EZ Bleeder does it just the opposite. The EZ Bleeder ‘pushes’ the air out of the system. It’s simply a syringe you fill up with brake fluid, attach it to the caliper and push fluid ‘UP’. Air likes to go up. System is bled in no time and you are ready to go riding.

A word of caution here…your brakes are going to be a bit more sensitive than they were before. Take a few miles to get used to the new feeling and the improved stopping power. Don’t go grabbing a handfull of brake like you used to, you might just find yourself, well…

Next up will be installing new brake pads..there’s more to it than sliding new pads in and this something you want to do yourself..don’t leave it to the dealer.