Shake your Bike
by Deke Tailpipe
Every now and then ya just gotta pick
up your bike and give it a good shake! You'll be amazed at the stuff
that drops out... keys, bolts, screws, combs, tools.
Problem is - most bikes are several times your body weight. Unless
you have a few huge buddies standing around willing to help, a body's
got to use a little creativity. Looking back on times things have shaken
loose of bikes of mine or my riding buds' rigs - I have a few questionable,
but effective suggestions.
There's the dropping-on-the-steep-banked-road approach. This discovered by
one pal of mine while attempting a 180 degree turn on a steeply banked country
road, going back in search of our group's 'tail gunner' fallen' behind. (Now
that I think of it, every time we go back for our lost 'tail gunner' someone
drops their bike... maybe we're not gonna go back for him anymore! -
Anywho - this tip-over produced a missing bolt he had searched for for hours
after an engine swap.
Slightly more dramatic would be the topple-in-a-ditch method, discovered by
yours truly on an otherwise great day. I had done my first illustration for
the NASCAR race at Sears Point and rode down to Vallejo to take a picture of
the billboard it was up on - the first time I had ever seen my artwork on a
road sign. Realizing what a great shot it made of my old Honda 750 with the
sign in the background, I crouched to frame the shot and noticed my tool bag
was hanging off to the side behind the seat. Still looking through the viewfinder,
I reached out with my boot, nudging the bag back into place. As I prepared
to click the shutter, I thought to myself, Why's the bike getting smaller in
the lens? As my head eliminated the possibility of my somehow moving backward,
I watched the bike oh-so-f##king slowly pitch over and down the embankment.
That I found my long lost 10 mil box wrench "thrown clear" ( like
a car crash victim in the old days ) was less than the thrill it might otherwise
have been. I loved that wrench... don't ask me why.
Then there's the camp-gear-driveway-flip-over. If you find just dropping your
bike on the road to be unsatisfying, or just ineffective, pack for a two week
road trip - pull the bike out of the garage and lean it over on the kick stand.
Oh yeah... ya have to kick the stand down only half way. Gives you just enough
time to climb off and watch the show. Never saw the under side of my old goldwing's
motor so clearly before, or since (knock, knock). Hey... my pocket comb! -
Hey... fluids leaking, fluids leaking!
If you really insist on sh#t-loosening techniques that don't entail dropping,
tipping or plummeting try the time honored pothole gambit. Most effective when
snuck up on (try to keep your tongue out of the way of your teeth) at slightly-above-legal
speed. After two hours of watching a buddy search for his bike key (not exactly
an uncommon scene - though rarely over 10 minutes) we realized that my old
ignition switch would plug into his bike (same makes and I had installed a
tank top ignition). Later that ride he hit an especially sneaky pothole and
something shiny and blue skipped along beside me for a second. Remembering
his keychain was blue, I pulled over and ran back for it. I was sitting on
my bike, twirling it on my index finger as he came back to see what had happened.
There you have it - just a few options for anyone who's ever lost anything
around their bike. Some more dramatic, some a bit less painful to the wallet.
Like it or not, if you want to see what the gremlins have jammed into the crevasses
of your machine, ya got no stinkin' choice.
Pick up your bike and shake it!
case you care…
In case you care, these quips and blurbs are
my contribution to our little electronic rag. Who the hell is
Deke Tailpipe? He’s the ghost in my machine, I guess you could
say. The insidious secret ingredient in my psychic stew that manifests
itself as a sort of itch at the back of my soul that builds in intensity
every moment I’m not out on the road. Deke is that quirk in all
of us that runs with the wind and sucks us along with, just fer sh*ts
Long live Deke!
I dusted off a couple of old pieces I wrote years ago, probably in
some snotty mood or other, and finished up a blurb inspired by a 1997
road trip through the desert and a Haiku experiment from a teaching
seminar I took one winter that I rode to on my bike. Lastly, the first
mindless rant of my semi-regular e-pinion column: Road Noise.
The Biker Elite (from 1996)
by Deke Tailpipe
The "Ties that Bind" groups of people
are all well and good,... God knows humankind can use all the excuses
for unity and pride we can get, but, holding oneself or ones group
above others for any reason (especially for your possessions) is
just bullshit... plain and simple!
The true measure of riders isn't what we ride, but rather, that we
In my book, someone who rides a beat-up old 200cc
rice-burner 365 days a year is a hundred times the biker that the
on his or her precious off-the-rack Hog covered with after-market chrome
and leather and wearing the latest LogoClothes, will ever be!
Granted, there are those grass-roots old-timers (with grease under
their fingernails that will still be there a century and a half after
their bones are dust in the ground) who have actually earned the right
to cop an attitude. Still, the best of them have ridden all kinds of
bikes in their collective eons of riding experience and know in their
road-bitten hearts that what defines a rider is the extent to which
they suffer from (and rejoice in) addiction to the open road.
I don't know, when it comes to Hog-Snobs, which
I find the most annoying... the bona-fide, long-time Harley owners
or the increasingly swelled ranks of the swelled-headed Wannabes.
You know the type...those who ride on the backs of bikes, or worse,
those who wouldn't know American Iron from Rice-Clones (or Vespas
for that matter) if one ran over them (wishful thinking?), yet still
parade around in "Live to ride..." rags
and other such wannabe attire. Those who have to ask "Is that
a Harley?", and if it's not, say something pithy like "Why
don't you get a real bike!". Actually, I guess the latter wins
that dubious trophy hands down!
Then there are the "Rubbies" (rich
urban bikers) as they have been dubbed. Frankly I'm sick of taking
attitude off of people on bikes with five-figure price tags and triple-digit
odometer readings. I'm sorry, but, not all of us have twenty grand
to throw at a bike (Hell, I remember when you could buy a brand-new
Ferrari for that! ).
My current ride, a lovingly resurrected
20-year-old vintage Goldwing, has barely $1,000 invested in it (including
the original purchase price). It's a beautiful machine now that I
removed all the factory decals and do-dads, buffed and polished aluminum
and chrome and gave it a tasty two-color pearl fade paint job. It's
perfectly set up for my cross-town / cross-country, carry-everything
who-needs-a-car riding needs. I ride it year round and she has never
let me down or left me stranded...(knock wood).
Before you get the idea that I'm an anti-Harley elitist or a Poverty-snob,
you should know that in my quarter-of-a-century or so of road riding
I've owned several makes of motorcycle (including a '52 Panhead old-school
chopper when I was 18) and only my starving-artist financial status
currently limits my bike collection to one. In fact, if I were to win
the Lottery tomorrow (more wishful thinking?) I would probably buy
any number of Harleys, new and vintage. But, just as certainly, they
would not be the only marque in my collection nor would they be my
regular ride (at least not for long haul riding).
My point here is that when I rode a Triumph,
I didn't think "Trumpets
rule!"...when I rode a Honda it wasn't because I thought "Hondas
are the greatest"... When I rode my Panhead I didn't look down
on all those non-Harley-ridin' wimps. I'm not saying you shouldn't
be proud of your ride, whatever it is... I'm just saying: Why don't
we all just 'get a life', appreciate everything and everyone for what
they really are and just get over all this crap!
Ride on brothers and sisters.
(Author's note: I currently ride a big, shiny V-twin (not from Milwaukee)
and I still don't care what anyone rides, but I don't get much attitude
HARLEY MYSTIQUE vs. the RICE-CLONES
By Deke Tailpipe
Let's start off with a couple of crutial points
that seem to elude most Hog-snobs and Wannabes when the issue
of "Harley-clones" is
#1...The "classic" look of the
V-twin engine, tear-drop tanks, fat-tires and massive valenced fenders
was not the brainchild of the original Harley-Davidson factory...
it was simply the design style of the times. Harley was merely the
only manufaturer to retain most of these elements over the years...
and it damn near buried them until the family reclaimed and resurected
the company in the 80's.
#2... Even though the current "Heritage Soft-tail" models
have the "official" Harley-Davidson marque, they too are
merely 'clones' of the original classics and are nearly as loaded with
tell-tale concessions to modern times as the Japanese cruisers. Even
the "chopper-styled" models are reminicent of a "look" made
popular not by Harley-Davidson, the company, but by basement customizers
using only the most elemental parts of the original machines (frequently,
but not exclusively, Harleys.)
Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to
dilute the legacy of the only American Motorcycle to survive the
test of time. Nor am I cutting Willie G and company's phenominal
turn-around of a company on it's deathbed. God knows there may never
be a sexier sounding machine in my lifetime, but the overhead valve
/ air-cooled / split-case V-twin configuration is an antiquated design.
Even the slightly more state-of-the-art belt drive is only a minor
concession to efficiency.
For many riders, design features like
overhead cams, liquid cooling, shaft drive and one-piece case-and-tranny
configurations are desirable, if not an absolute requirement. Currently
these individuals looking for classic or chopper styled bikes have
to look to the Rice-clones (as I hesitantly refer to them).
Personally, I think H-D is missing the boat by not offering
a line of more state-of-the-art machines, in addition to (rather than
replacing) the current "Evo" design! After all, virtually
every major manufacturer has at least two or three engine configurations
in it's line. Wake up and smell the consumers, boys.
(Author's note: As we all know, Milwaukee finally did take a stab at
the liquid cooled, overhead cam engine in the V-rod.)
How I Spent My Summer Vacation
(More Self-indulgent Ramblings of an Aging Cycle Gypsy) -circa 1997
by Deke Tailpipe
Snap a picture of this... Scene is the wide-open
nowhere of the Nevada High Desert. My eyes contentedly following the
hypnotic winding of two motorcycles on the road ahead, packed to the
clouds with camp gear and their riders. The latter being two nefarious
individuals who happen to be my riding buddies... brothers of the road,
partners in grime, fellow goofballs. Its the eighth day of our nine-day
'Get-the-hell-out-of-Dodge' ride and also birthday number forty-five
for yours truly. Three days of unrelenting triple digit temperatures
and the emergency road-side tire repair of the previous day, not to
mention the tent-flattening 60 mph sand storm that evening are nearly
gone from my thoughts as we climb, steadily higher, into the greener,
cooler Sierra foothills.
This year's micro-odyssey had taken us across
four states, nearly 2,000 miles and counting, through some of the
most desolate and some of the most breathtakingly beautiful landscapes
this, or any other, continent has to offer. We had seen Bryce, Zion
and the Grand Canyon... traveled
the Extraterrestrial Highway past the infamous Area 51. It was in the
surrounding emptiness of that place, sailing along the arrow-straight
desert asphalt, that my companions and I were treated to a low-level
fly-by of a B-1 bomber and its six fighter escort; the likes of which
Air-Show addicts would kill to see. As we watched the entourage virtually
scraping the rugged landscape, suddenly one lone fighter came straight
at us down the highway, low enough to qualify as oncoming traffic.
The ominous metallic bird-of-prey cocked sideways at the last second,
its pilot showing off his pearly whites as he roared past.
Spectacular lightning storms
had loomed all around our campsites at night, torrential rains inundated
our destinations. And then there was that late afternoon we ran a
gauntlet of fierce squalls, pounded by gale-force cross winds, negotiating
a narrow corridor in the storms while lightning strikes impaled the
desert valley on either side of the highway. All this with barely
a drop of moisture making contact with either bike or body throughout
the entire trip.
A mind tends to wander free
and aimless on long rides, lost in the spirit of the moment. On this
particular afternoon my own sun-fried grey-matter, like the escalating
landscape, is finally showing signs of life...and I find my thoughts
drifting to things marginally profound. The significance of the noble
and piercing glance of a rare Golden Eagle is not lost on me. Swooping
effortlessly overhead, its majestic flight sweeps my thoughts toward
matters of the human condition.
I've come to see road trips like this as a microcosm of human interaction...
a mini Passion Play on wheels, so to speak. And this one has been no
exception. Whenever people place themselves (or are placed by fate)
in an adventurous journey, the need for interdependence and the inescapable
companionship of the road inevitably bring a multitude of issues to
the fore. The most significant difference between travel by motorcycle
and virtually all other forms of conveyance is that each traveler is
self-contained. Where travelers by boat, plane, auto or train are confined
to the same vehicle, cycle-gypsies have the dubious option to cut'n'run
at any time. Continuing in one another's company is always a moment
to moment choice.
Its been said that to really know someone...
travel with them. It
is, in fact, a genuine acid test of friendships (or Jack-acid test,
if you will), frequently making or breaking relationships. On this
particular escapade, I found myself playing the role of mediator to
two guys with somewhat divergent approaches to the ride. One, new to
long haul touring, reminded me a bit of a young pup, racing around
checking everything out, ready to change direction in a heartbeat.
First lagging behind, then racing ahead and missing exits he didn't
know were coming up. The other, an old hand at road trips, doing the
tired old hound routine, sticking to the plan, poo poo-ing this and
poo poo-ing that, raggin' on the pup. Me, not giving a rat's patoot,
stuck in the middle.
I think critical mass was finally reached the
morning the pup caught scent of the Grand Canyon. Never having been
there before, he was determined to go there. I mean, "We're so freaking close, right!" To
which the hound, who had been there several times, said somethin' like "its
just a big f***ing hole in the ground." Next thing I know, one
third of the group is headed west, another third east and me standing
there thinking, what the Hell just happened?
The particulars of the next few hours are a bit of a blur, with a
sitcom's worth of miscues, wrong turns, passing one another in one
direction and then the other, capitulations and screw-yous (I actually
hear the soundtrack for old Keystone Kops movies in my head when I
think back on it.) Ultimately finds all three of us on the wait list
for overflow camping on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. About then
a couple of cute young Canadian gals walk up to the park ranger we're
talking to at the booth and say that several of their group left early
and that there was plenty of space for anyone who might be waiting.
Long story short... stayed two days, recouped, regrouped, loved it,
good time had by all.
Life and camping... never a dull moment, huh?
I guess, what I'm going for here is this: The hound and the pup are
there for a reason. Hound keeps us on track; the pup keeps us alive.
Use 'em right and life is golden, use 'em wrong and it all goes to
Ode to the First Scratch
By Deke Tailpipe
Damn, Coc#s*!king, Muthaf#*!ing, Piece ‘o s*!t, ~#*!
, eat my #*!!~ ?%**#, kiss my royal *&%## *@##*,…
know the rest. The painfully familiar sound spewin’ out of
your very own piehole immediately after that infamous FIRST SCRATCH
in what you used to consider your brand new bike.
I’m not sure
which hurts more, the discovery of the nick, dent or scuff that some
parking lot Bozo left you or the f*#k up you did yourself! Dropin’ a
wrench on a fender, jerkin’ on the front brake in gravel or
off-roadin’ it on your low rider custom.
Doesn’t matter… ‘twas
inevitable quoth the Devil.
Unless you treat the thing like a piece
of garage sculpture, its gonna’ git messed up a bit… sooner
or later. There is, however, a curious sense of freedom that comes
after. Provided you let yourself get over the initial shock. No subsequent
damage ever has the same effect on you as the first (That’s
right… it’ll happen again. Get used to it). Think of
it this way… now it’s the REAL DEAL, not some hot house
flower. After all, how tough can a guy look who ain’t got no
By Deke Tailpipe
Flying in cold rain
on wet pavement
Wind lifts my tired soul
*(Written in reflection upon the motorcycle ride to a teaching credential
class I was taking,
and running late for, at U.C. Berkeley as an in-class