Motorcycles

My first bike

I don't know much about motorcycles, I just like them. I learned to ride on the side of a mountain summers in Vermont during college at my uncle Arthur who had raced in the 50s, then a few years later in New Mexico my buddies put me on a Yamaha XS650. One Sunday afternoon back in Albuquerque a year later, at a softball game, a reformed Harley varmint named Mike the Mouth filled me in on his life story, and some quips ("Women -- ain't worth the cost of the powder it'd take to blow'em away") and my patience was rewarded with by a turn on his dark cherry Yamaha Maxim XJ650 around the block. So when in 1990 I paid a friend of a friend $500 for his black '83 Maxim when the guy was stuck -- well, that was fate, although Dave, if it makes you feel better, it was all I had at the time.  

The inline-four Maxim, with big buckhorn bars and cast-iron spiral rims, looked like a Japanese Black Sabbath groupie's idea of a cool ride.
 
Maxim magazine ad from mid-1980s
 
It survived a score of long-distance trips and my changing the steering-head bearings.  When I bought it I knew even less about bikes, so I aimed my modem at Compuserve and joined the racing forum, where I mostly lurked and made the acquaintance of people like Dean Adams and Keith Patti. You could say Dean has done nicely for motorcycle racing, and every once in a while he lets me do something soft.  

 

Profiles in Helmets, part 1

Profiles in Helmets, by Ray Tennenbaum and Martin Kozlowski

Martin Kozlowski drew the cartoons for these biker portraits as part of the Hartford Courant's annual summer motorcycle feature in 2003.

Ride of a Lifetime

In the summer of '06 I set out on a cross-country motorcycle trip, from Brooklyn to Seattle and back, on a Moto Guzzi California Aluminum, making rendezvous with my golf clubs at selectively-placed courses along the way, and Vic Williams of Fairways and Greens kindly let me put together this road trip story.

Road Geekery

The histories and mysteries of roads and highways! From the Hartford Courant, this was way fun to research.

Family Squabbles

Just because the AMA has done a lot for motorcyclists doesn't mean they can't be a whipping-boy for an enterprising essayist with an axe to grind. From the Hartford Courant (June 15, 2003)

So you want to be a biker?

How to get started motorcycling: a primer, originally published in Investor's Business Daily in June, 1995

Head Case

It really used to rile me that the AMA had this position where they endorsed helmet use, but opposed helmet laws. I used to complain about it all the time because it was so transparently a way for them to have it both ways. Read this Newsday op-ed from July of 1998 to see me completely destroy their whole position logically, and even besmirch them with the legacy of slavery and the Confederacy! OH YEAH!! Ask them if they care. Please??!!

Riding to Vermont

Originally published in Continental Profiles (September 1995)

Baby You Can't Drive My Bike

Body: 

It bothers me when people say "drive" a motorcycle. Because you don't drive a motorcycle, you ride it, just like you ride a bicycle. In a way it would make sense to refer to “driving” a bicycle, since you actually provide the motive force for it -- but no one says that, probably because the sense of "drive" is really more about steering and controlling the vehicle’s speed and handling. On the other hand, if no one ever suggests you “drive your bicycle to my house" why do people so often say "drive your motorcycle"?