Prufrock's Motorbike

Can a quiet man find happiness in a world of loud motorcycles?

The Strange Case of the Missing License Plate…

I really can’t blame anyone but myself. I got home a couple of weeks back, after riding (a little hooligan-like - I’m sorry to say) and found that my Sportster was missing its license plate. Gone. Vanished.


I retraced some of my 50 mile journey, but it really felt like a forlorn hope…the summer grass alone the roadside is several feet high by this point and the chances of seeing a chunk of metal the size of modestly thin paperback from a moving car were negligible.

I’m not sure exactly what happened, but its pretty clear the whole shebang - plate, bracket, etc - parted company as a complete unit…leaving only two pathetic little holes. Could I have actually just been relying on J-B Weld to hold the thing together? Usually I’m a little more thorough than that…but not, it appears, this time.


I have a new bracket and pieces all ready…and I’ve bolted/loctited/lock-washered the whole thing to the bike. All that I’m missing is the plate. A new one has been applied for and the state of Wisconsin has promised to send it sometime within the next eight weeks. Meanwhile, the riding season is bleeding away with the calendar…

…and I have no one to blame but myself.


After a couple of weeks, I checked my bank statement…yup, the State of Wisconsin did cash check number 2018 for $2.00. Then, last night, the mail showed up with my new registration card. It really is happening! Unfortunately, in big print at the bottom of the sheet is the statement that my plate will “follow in 10 to 14 business days”…and if I might be tempted otherwise, “It is illegal to operate vehicles under 8000 lbs in Wisconsin on public roads without a license plate.” More waiting.



Nice break from black…



Nice break from black…

(via 2wheelfeel)

Going out with a whimper, rather than a bang…
It looks like the summer riding season is ending in a soggy morass of rain and gloom. What a dreary summer its been.
Sunday morning. Fog and low clouds. I rode south in search of some sunlight, but gloom prevailed. It feels like fall. A cup of coffee in Wausau…where next? On the leg home, the sun burst through the overcast and lit up the late summer fields. This countryside reminds me of Pennsylvania - rolling farmland, woods, and hills. The corn is head-deep in the fields. I love days when I can just wonder through the world.
The picture was taken at a rest-stop along highway 51. All the rest-stops (or “way-sides,” as they call them) around here are on beautiful lakes. Amazing.

Robert Fulton

Little Noises

5000 mile service and I’m trying a new gear oil in the Street Glide: Red Line’s V-Twin Transmission Oil. It is absolutely the strangest color of anything I’ve ever poured into a mechanical device - a bright pinkish-red. It looks sort of like iridescent Pepto-bismol. 

I’ve ridden maybe 100 miles now, since the change. So far, everything seems OK, but I’m in that period of kind of hyper-vigilance where I’m listening for any odd or unpleasant noises. What I’ve noticed is that there are a lot of noises coming from an air-cooled, OHV twin. Most of them are probably completely normal but…like I said, I’m now listening hard…

"What’s that whirring sound on decel in third gear? Was that there before? Wait! Is that a tapping sound? Where’s that coming from?"

What this comes down to for me is a process of acceptance. I have to accept all those strange little noises or I’ll drive myself crazy. Eventually, I’ll grow used to the noises again and it will all sink into the background of consciousness. In the mean time, I just keep telling myself…

"Those are just normal sounds. Let them be. If its a real problem, it will get louder and/or something will break. Then, we’ll deal with it."

Thirty years ago this summer…

I disassembled my 1977 LeMans in the little space behind my house in Baltimore. The engine and gear box were lugged down into the basement. I replaced a bunch of seals, rebuilt the clutch, and installed the factory “racing” B-10 camshaft.

A friend from work sprayed the frame, tank, fenders, and side-covers with red Imron paint - super-toxic and super-durable. She still looks good all these years later.

On a warm evening in June, all the parts were re-assembled in the backyard. About halfway through, I thought to record the process with a cheap polaroid camera. The results languished in a shoe-box (what else?) for many years, until I scanned the disintegrating images into digital eternity.

The other memory is of that first test-ride of my newly recreated motorcycle. I stopped at a gas station in Pikesville to refuel and the the bike starter refused to function. A blown fuse was discovered and ultimately traced to the small harness running to the stop/tail light. In  rush to finish and ride, I had never secured the strand of wires. The rear tire made short work of the insulation and as soon as the brake switch went on - poof- out went the fuse. The started circuit was wired through this same fuse .(Hey, there are only five fuses total on the whole bike.)

It’s The Summer Solstice…

Its been a hard little summer, so far…people getting sick, people getting hurt, work, bad weather. There seems to be no time in-between to ride. Wonder if I’ve clocked 1000 miles combined?

And now, the days grow shorter and shorter…

I’m depressing myself. I think I’ll just go ride in the fog.

Rockwell-esque…love it!

Rockwell-esque…love it!

(via racecafe)