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TROApr 25, 2018CommentShare

Mutha Nature, Son!

Listen in as we discuss the Kawasaki W650, trip planning software and riding the beautiful Cherohala Skyway.

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This episode of The Riding Obsession podcast is brought to you by Ugly Apple Cafe of Madison, Wisconsin where they use local overstock produce to offer a quick, tasty breakfast and also Riding Solutions, helping people become motorcyclists and motorcyclists ride better.

The Riding Obsession podcast is a viewer supported labor of love. If you'd like to help us better its content and recording equipment, show your support. Thanks for listening!

Trav's Activities ...

  • Practiced packing for an upcoming riding trip.
  • Modded his windscreen for better air flow.
  • Installed a securing strap for his top case.

Tim's Activities ...

  • Road 135 of WI Driftless two-up with his girlfriend.
  • Installing drywall in his garage (now a moto-workshop and lounge).
  • Learning new-to-him trip planning software, namely Furkot.

Robin's Activities ...

  • Rode 850 miles from Chicagoland to Daytona Beach.
  • Enjoyed the Cherohala Skyway, Tail of the Dragon and Foothills Parkway on return.
  • Got kicked in the brain by his first MSF course of the season.

Model Focus

The Kawasaki W650 is a 360° crank twin with bevel drive for an 8 valve SOHC.

Noteworthy Articles

This Month In Motorcycle History

Brought to you by Today in Motorcycle History

April 15, 1972 Evel Knievel's X1-Skycycle prototype makes it's first launch attempt. Evel Knievel had hired subcontractor and aeronautical engineer Doug Malewicki to build him a rocket-powered cycle to jump across the Snake River, and called it the X-1 Skycycle. Malwecki's creation was powered by a steam engine built by former Aerojet and Polaris Missile engineer Robert "Bob" Truax.

Evel joined Truax at Snake River to watch the X-1 prototype's trial launch. The launch starts with such promise before losing speed, then altitude, until finally plummeting into the gorge not even halfway across the river reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote with one of his Acme rockets.

The decision was then made to have Truax build the Skycycle X-2 and have it take off and fly more like a rocket than a motorcycle. Two years later on Sunday, September 8, 1974, at 3:36 p.m. MDT (Mountain Daylight Time) at the south rim of the Snake River Canyon, viewed by millions on live television the launch begins with a rumble as the steam that powers the engine is superheated to 500 °F (260 °C).

The drogue parachute prematurely deploys as the X-1 leaves the launching rail and induces significant drag. The Skycycle makes it all the way across the canyon to the north rim, unfortunately the prevailing northwest winds cause it to drift back into the canyon. By the time it reaches the bottom of the canyon, it lands only a few feet from the water on the same side of the canyon from which it had been launched.

Then to add insult to injury, if Evel had landed in the water, he likely would have drowned, due to a jumpsuit/harness malfunction which kept him strapped in. As Knievel raises his fist in disappointment Meep Meep echo's thru the canyon. Today in motorcycle history proudly supports the National Association for Bikers with a Disability (NABD). Posted by Unknown at 7:46 AM Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest.
April 16, 1956 The sticker price of a new BMW motorcycle takes effect today and Erwin Vogelsong of East Orange, New Jersey is the first American to open his wallet. Vogelsong purchases a 500cc R-50 for $915.00 (plus tax) from Butler & Smith in NYC. Dealer records show there was no price haggling.

Erwin opted for the 6000 mile guarantee over the 6-month warranty. Good call. The 1956 BMW line-up shows other than the R-50, there was the R-69 Super Sport, a 600cc 35hp machine, for $1,345.00, the 600cc R-50 for $1,145.00 and a 250cc R-26 listed at $715.00.

Side kick-stands and dual passenger seats were additional.
April 17, 1976 Ross Barelli is killed when his Suzuki's front disc explodes on Austrailia's famed Mount Panorama Circuit. In the final time trials for the Bathurst Unlimited, Ross Barelli is killed when the front disc on his RG500 Suzuki explodes. The freak accident occurs at the end of Con Rod Straight causing him to strike the Armco barrier.

His brother in-law, Bob Rosenthal, who had been due to ride the ex-Agostini TZ750 Yamaha, withdraws from the meeting.
April 20, 2003 2001 250cc World Champion and two-time Suzuka 8 Hour winner Daijiro Kato dies from injuries he sustained after crashing during the Japanese Grand Prix. In 2000 DaijiroKato, teaming with fellow Japanese rider Tohru Ukawa, won the Suzuka 8 Hours in Japan. The 2001 season foundKato totally dominating the 250cc Class, winning 11 races on his way to being crowned World Champion.

He would also set a new record for the most points in a single season in the 250cc Class with an unheard of 322 points. The following season Kato teamed with American rider Colin Edwards to win the 2002 Suzuka 8 Hours for a second time. On April 6, 2003, the unthinkable would happen during the Japanese Grand Prix when Kato slams into a wall near Suzuka's Casio Triangle chicane at around 125 mph.

Suffering severe head, neck and chest injuries, he would spend two weeks in coma. On April 20, Daijiro Kato would be pronounced dead. He was 26.

After the 2003 season the FIM named him a Grand Prix "Legend", retiring Kato's bike number "74". Satoshi Motoyama, a fellow Japanese racer and a childhood friend, would wear Daijiro's number on his helmet. Italy's Misano World Circuit honored Kato in 2006, (he lived part of the season in the area), by naming a new access road to the circuit "Via Daijiro Kato".

April 21, 1932 A pint on the Fulham Road changes Speedway racing forever. When JAP began it's motorcycle production for the civilian market in 1919, Herbert "Bert" Le Vack was brought in as Development Engineer/Factory Racer (DEFR) and Val Page rejoined the company as Chief Designer (CD). This led to the radical design of a double overhead camshaft (DOHC) racing engine.

On October 27, 1922, Bert LeVack made history by lapping Brooklands at 100.29 mph on a 980cc JAP-powered Zenith becoming the first rider of a British machine to reach 100 mph. By 1924 JAP held 95 World and British Records, set up by only eleven riders which included Bert Le Vack and Teddy Prestwich, one of John’s five sons. Stan Greening, a longtime member of the JAP experimental department, had begged John Prestwich to take a trip down to the Fulham Road to Stamford Bridge Speedway track.

Prestwich was not impressed in the least telling Greening he believed that speedway was little more than a passing fad. But Stan had faith in the sport’s long-term prospects; the factory’s involvement with speedway racing became the subject for further discussion during the 1929 Motor Cycle Show at Olympia when Bill Bragg, Captain of the Stamford Bridge Pensioners Speedway Team, stopped at the JAP booth while John Vivian Prestwich was on duty.

Vivian realized that perhaps Speedway had more to offer than his father had suspected. After long arguments that sometimes lasted until morning, and with some further persuasion (ale) John Prestwich changed his mind and gave the project his blessing. Greening soon started working along the lines that Bill had indicated and in about three months an experimental engine was delivered to Bragg.

By 1932 the legendary JAP Speedway engine had become a reality, at the time it was the world’s most powerful un-supercharged engine of its size and one that would dominate Speedway tracks for the next 25 years. That year Fergus "The Flyin' Scot" Anderson picked up an engine which was guaranteed to produce 37.8 bhp at 5,750 rpm, which he installed in a Grindlay-Peerless machine. In his first lap at Brooklands on April 21, 1932 Fergus brought the virgin engine across the finish line at 98 mph and his second was 109.22 mph.

Fergus would take home the One Hour Trophy when he averaged 100.52 mph.
April 22, 1957 Mike Hailwood competes in his first motorcycle race at Oulton Park in Cheshire, England. He finishes 11th. Within a year he figures out this whole racing thing.At Snetterton on June 15, 1958 he would win all four races he entered, the 125cc, 250cc, 350cc and 500cc, raising the lap record during every race, and was the first rider to lap this track at 90 mph.

He repeated this remarkable performance at Silverstone on July 5th, winning all four classes and setting a new lap record each time. Did you know that Oulton Park can trace its history back to the eleventh century and is mentioned in the Domesday Book as ‘Aleton'.
April 23, 1906 Triumph Engineering Co. Ltd. registered on April 23, 1906 with a capital of 100 pounds.

The new all-British built Triumph motorcycle hits the market with it's new rocking front spring fork, redesigned frame and a new engine design which features the newly-invented Bosch-Simms high-tension magneto.Five hundred bikes are produced in 1906. Motorcycle journalist 'Ixion' tests a prototype 1907 machine but it proves flawed and the frame breaks. He later used an upgraded 1907 model to ride 1,279 miles in six days.

53 years later Triumph will introduce one of the greatest motorcycles in the history of mankind, the T120 Bonneville. In a sick twist of fate, on August 23, 1983 Triumph Motorcycles (Meriden) Ltd. declaresbankruptcy, unable to out ride their financial woes.

Enter John Bloor...
April 24, 2010 The motorcycle season in Latvia officially opens with a parade that leaves unfamiliar onlookers wide-eyed and open-mouthed. An estimated 3,500 motorcycles, stretching nearly two miles, makes a circuit around and through Riga city. Founding members of the Motorcycle Club Association (MCA) of Latvia: Free Hawks Latvia, Brothers of the Wind, and Hermejs Latvia lead the group.

Riders on all things two-wheel, from Harley-Davidson and Kawasaki to Ural, Jawa and Riga mopeds take part in the season-opening tradition.
April 25, 1999 Aboard his RGV500 Suzuki for only the second time, Kenny Roberts Jr. wins the Japanese Grand Prix at Twin Ring Motegi in Motegi, Japan. In 1999, Suzuki signed Junior to their Grand Prix team.

His debut with Suzuki was at the Malaysian Grand Prix where he pulled off a huge upset, defeating the reigning Champion, Honda's Michael Doohan. He went on to win the second GP race at Motegi, where he again defeated Doohan. Twin Ring Motegi's name comes from the facility having two circuits: a 1.5 mile oval and a 3 mile road course.

April 27, 1953 Grand Prix racer and AMA Hall of Famer Pat Hennen is born in Phoenix, Arizona. Pat Hennen was the first American to win a 500cc World Grand Prix road race. His victory at the 1976 Finland Grand Prix paved the way for a flood of riders from the US who would come to seriously compete in the sport.

He proved that an American could win at the highest echelon of motorcycle racing in an era when few thought it could be done. Hennen was battling with Kenny Roberts for the World Championship when his rapidly rising career was prematurely ended by a crash at the Isle of Man TT in 1978. He had just recorded the first sub-twenty minute lap in TT history when he struck a curb at 150 m.p.h.

The subsequent crash caused severe head injuries from which Hennen was able to recover over time, but the lasting effects of the crash forced his retirement from racing. Pat Hennen was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2007.
April 28, 2013 CNN reports that journalist Mary Thom, a prominent feminist who was an editor of Ms. Magazine in its early years, was killed when she crashed her motorcycle in Yonkers, NY, just north of New York City. Thom had just picked up her 1996 Honda Magna 750 from winter storage when she veered into traffic and was struck by a vehicle upon entering the highway.

She helped found Ms.Magazine, theinfluential feminist magazine, and served as an editor there for 20 years. After leaving in 1992, she worked as editor in chief of the features section of the non-profit Women's Media Center, which works to raise women's visibility in the media. Mary Thom was 68.

April 29, 1979 Riding his Can Am, Greg Robertson of Woodland Hills, California finishes 17th on Day 2 of the Pontiac 250 Super Cross at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. Greg began his career riding a Coffin Tank CZ250 on May 28, 1972 at California's Carlsbad Raceway. In his debut he pulled off a respectable sixth place finish.

Belgian motocross legend Joël Robert won three 250cc World Championships ('64,'68,'69) and German Paul Friedrichs won three consecutive 500cc titles ('66,'67,'68) all aboard CZ machines. CZ was the first motorcycle manufacturer to introduce expansion chambers on exhaust systems.
April 30, 1972 The 1972 Grand Prix season kicks off with the West German GP at Nürburgring Circuit in Nürburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. Defending FIM 50cc World Champion Jan De Vries rides his Kreidler to victory on the last day of April. The Dutchman would battle Spain's Angel Nieto all season long in what turns out to be one of the most exciting GP Classes of 1972.

What a finish it would be as the two riders end with 3 checkered flags and 69 points apiece.The championship would be decided on aggregate times, with the winner given the title by mere seconds. On September 23, 1972 the 50cc World Champion is crowned...

Listener Questions

Brandon Turner Asks: How do I do wheelies? I've been riding 6 years and still don't know how to wheelie. Help a brutha out!

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Concluding Bit

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Tune in next time for more discussion on all things specific to sport touring or universal to motorcycling as a whole.

Safe travels, everyone!

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