Alright! It's that time of year where we collect up all the scratch and dent merch and our own personal moto-junk and throw it all out in the parking lot at a deep discount. See the above flyer for details. We'll have Dang Brother's Pizza slinging hand-made pies and McGoo and GF Paula are going to be your personal baristas at the free coffee bar. Four Aces Wes, Johnny Surprise and Tiger Shack Ryan are all going to have their race bikes on display. We've got a bunch of friends bringing parts and junk to sell, so show up with that bundle of Christmas cash granny sent ya' and be ready to party!
The finicky canine with his back to this little CB450 is my life partner Willis. Among all creatures great and small, no one has watched me suck at motorcycle maintenance more than he has. Willis's zen approach to ambivalence is highly motivational, and his casual demeanor is the polar opposite of my own manic obsession with getting shit done. Taoist dogs and tempests in a teapot make strange bedfellows, but we mange to find balance. Sometimes, unfortunately, that balance might take a house pet's lifetime to materialize.
An old friend whose day job, like mine, always seems to get in the way of the stuff he'd rather be doing gifted me this basket case in 2007. Not wanting to insult Maximum Bob's generosity, I enlisted the help of Duane Ballard and our friend Alex Cardone to bang out the machine you see here: a stripped-down, spruced up custom street tracker of eclectic pedigree. Both gentlemen have badass CB750s in their personal quivers, so I knew their collective skills would be helpful.
The frame on my fun-sized custom is a '72 CB450. Kutty Noteboom helped me shoehorn a '77 CB750 swingarm into the chassis by sectioning and narrowing the stock construction perpendicular to the pivot shaft. The forks and trees are from a Sportster, onto which I grafted a custom lathe-turned and TIG-welded steer tube extension. This was required in order to install the H-D trees on the longer loose ball neck on the stock frame. After sussing the basic chassis I cut off various bits to clean things up and to accommodate the installation of bodywork and tank from GP Glassworks.
I'm fussy about wheels, and this bike features some doozies. The 18-inch rear is a 32-spoke Excel alloy hoop laced to a '75 CR250 Elsinore drum hub with Buchanan spokes. The 19-inch front is a 40-spoke number on a matching powder coated alloy rim grafted to an H-D Midglide hub from which I shaved 4mm off the rotor mounting surface to squeeze it and an XL caliper between the shaved sliders. I could have simply groped around for a Sportster hub, but I was too stupid at the time to know there was a difference. Bottom line: she stops like a champ, with millimeters to spare between friction bits.
Uncle Bitchin' did a stellar job spraying the '70s Elsinore MX livery I envisioned for my CB's paint. Gold leaf in the Honda wings on each side of the tank is a nice touch. During the initial build I skipped lining the fiberglass gas tank on the promise from its maker that no such fuss would be required. Bullshit. A couple months after her maiden shakedown, residual gas broke down the resin inside the glasswork, turning both 26mm Mikuni carbs into a gummed-up mess. All this happened in 2008.
It took me 42 dog years to finally exorcise my street tracker's demons, but today she is a high-revving screamer. Not the fastest bike in the Biltwell stable, but certainly one of the most fun to ride. To determine the best jetting and ignition settings for my rice rocket, I enlisted the talents of a wily old Japanese motorcycle vet from Orange County. After he returned the CB to my stable I installed a Biltwell Mako taillight, a set of 7/8-inch Tracker bars, two Biltwell mufflers and a pair of Thruster grips.
I'm particularly happy with the look and sound of my CB450's exhaust. I used a section of 1" x 1/4" 6061 alloy to cobble a pair of simple muffler hangers, then employed one Biltwell Muffler clamp on each side to create a mounting point for both pipe/mini muffler assemblies. The look is super clean, and no welding or cutting was required.
It took me six years to finish it, but my new-and-improved street tracker makes me smile. Willis doesn't seem to give a shit, but that's because this little CB450 is the only thing in my life that gets more love than he does. â€“ McGoo
They also asked us to design and manufacture 50 items that they can sell as limited editions with this issue. I've been wanting to do a small-scale traditional seabag, but with a couple extra features like Molle webbing that would be easy to attach to just about any sissy bar. I sketched up the dimensions, picked up a couple full-size seabags and headed to Duane Ballard's where we built the first prototype. That bag got a little six hundred or so mile shakedown and I learned a few things and made some modifications. Our vest guy in Los Angeles custom-dyed a lot of 100% cotton 18 oz. duck canvas and stitched 'em up. I'm gonna hand tie the closures and install the brass snap link as soon as they get back from the screen printer where the underside of each bag's lid is getting a little artwork and serial number added. The volume of most bags or luggage is usually measured in liters, but we thought it would be more fitting to use cans of beer since more of our customers would probably identify with that. This bag fit 36 Coors originals perfectly, hence the name EXFIL-36. We've found it's just about right for a weekend trip if you throw your tent on the bars and especially if you have tools and junk in an EXFIL-7. Got a little extra stuff? clip it on to the Molle straps on the side or add modular ammo pouches, etc. This bag is only available with DicE issue #59 which should be available on their webstore Dec. 22: http://dicemagazine.bigcartel.com They will only be a hundred bucks and once they sell the 50 bags, that's it.
You may have heard that another thing DicE likes to do is this: party. Because one party couldn't possibly be enough, we are throwing a pre-party at Powerplant's store "For the Love of Motorcycles" on Saturday Dec 20th starting at 5:00PM. We will have a couple bikes that are featured in issue #59 and some other surprises on display, all of Yaniv's super neat stuff, plus drinks, music, etc. At about 8:00PM we are going to brave the nasty weather and ride a grueling 1.7 miles (better bring a bed roll!) down to Pour Vous for the "Official Issue Release Party" There will be free bike parking, free admission and appropriately the Jesus Sons will be the musical entertainment. DicE gives out free mags at all of their release parties and of course we'll have a few things for you to.
Thanks DicE for letting kooks like us crash your magazine, and thanks Powerplant for letting us party at your store!
Get off the internet and ride your damn chopper like this fine gentleman.
Kumbaya starts each night at dusk
Â¿Uno mas cerveza, por favor?
High times, low tides
Last weekend, we went on a little pre-run to make sure everything is good-to-go for EDR15. Yep, the desert, beach, beer, potholes, federales, hookers, bars, palapas, twisty roads and all that good stuff is all still there and ready to party. Basically, nothing has changed.
Here's your lodging details:
SAN FELIPE / THURSDAY / FRIDAY / May 28 / 29
This sexy beast is here to party!
Have you seen him?
There are a handful of palapas now open for paid reservations at Kiki's Campo.
Kiki also has a dozen or so brand new hotel rooms behind the camp, at the north end of the Circle of Death track.
You can contact him directly for either reservations, and should do so soon because things are starting to fill up already.
Two nights free lodging in Ruben's palapas and on the beach. Thank your sponsors
If you can't figure out how to get into your tent, just sleep on top of it. Try to wake up before the sunburn gets too bad
Ruben's camp next door is ready to go and free palapas will be given on a first-come-first-served basis. Biltwell covered the cost of these palapas, so they are free to riders. If you miss out on one, you can also camp on the beach (best spot anyway) for free, and park your bike in either camp. There will be plenty of cheap beer, tacos and "entertainment" at Ruben's Camp both nights, as well as good deals on breakfast and coffee in the morning. This is not a family-friendly environment, you have been warned.
La Palapa RV Camp on the other side of Ruben's
An alternative, La Palapa RV camp on the south side of Ruben's will have palapas for rent, but they are not free (probably about $30 per night and you can fit about 4 people in each one). The boss lady here is not able to take reservations in advance, but the campground is large and there are plenty of spots, so it's just about guaranteed that you wont get skunked. Should be plenty of palapas for everyone.
Circle of Death style points
Better to low-side than high-side, right?
This is why we run the track backward (clockwise)
The Route to San Felipe:
For riders following our route from Temecula, there is a new gas station on the south side of HWY 8 about 66 miles out of Santa Ysabel, so we don't need to fill small tanks from pickups like last time.
The road south of the Mexicali border to San Felipe has no significant changes and is in the best condition we've ever seen. No construction at this time. Still has some potholes and is typical Mexico, but no surprises so far.
ENSENADA / SATURDAY / SUNDAY May 30 / June 1
Everyone is staying at the Villa Marina hotel, which is the largest, pinkest building in Ensenada. If you get lost, head towards the coast and the giant Mexican flag. Near that flag, the VM is the only twelve-story building in town.
You absolutely need to make your reservations well in advance. Juan Carlos at Baja Voyager handles dozens of race teams for the Baja 1000, is a professional guide for factory Toyota and has fixed the Ensenada side of the El Diablo Run for years. Go to his website to contact him here for your reservations: bajavoyager.com/contact.html
The Villa Marina has a nice pool and secure bike parking. We've arranged good deals on food and booze here and there will be two bars set up: one in the parking lot and one by the pool. The VM is not the Ritz, but it is very accommodating and we've got the whole thing locked down so it'll pretty much be a big party the whole time.
Generous pool area at Villa Marina in Ensenada
Plenty of secure parking at Villa Marina
The Route to Ensenada:
From San Felipe to Ensenada, it is as rough as it has even been. Plenty of potholes that will totally ruin your day. Remember those surprise speed bumps? Yep, still there, but they've moved them and they are unmarked just to test your skills. Slow down. There was no construction on this stretch today, but who knows what will be in store for us in May? This route is only a little over 150 miles, but it can take a while depending on circumstances. Just chill out and enjoy it and you will have a much better time than if you decide to haul ass. More than a few crashes have happened along this part of the ride and most of them have been a result of riding too fast. Don't forget to pull off to the left in Valle De Trinidad if you are going to need gas along the way. There is also gas in Ojos Negros, but it's around 100 miles from SF, so if you are a tiny tank nerd like us, you better stop in Trinidad to top off.
The Ensenada to USA Border has good and bad news. There was a landslide that caved in part of the toll road. But, they fixed it. Then it caved in again. So, there are some detours onto the free road. The free road is a little slower and slightly longer, but scenic and skips one toll, so that's a bonus. This may be fixed by spring, but either way, just head north out of Ensenada and follow detour signs to TJ/San Diego. It's nearly impossible to get lost and there is gas along the way. The really good news is the border crossing has been upgraded and moves WAY faster now. What used to take three hours on a Sunday afternoon in a truck today took about an hour. On a bike, you should split lanes and be through it in a few minutes. The road conditions on this route were very twisty with fun elevation changes but not nearly as rough as the route from San Felipe. Slow truck traffic is the main obstacle.
Most of the highway is not this nice
Don't forget to stop and enjoy the natural beauty Baja has to offer
These are the people and companies that pitch in a little extra to make sure you can camp on the beach, end up with a bunch of free swag, etc. Sponsors are limited to people who actually ride to the event. You might be surprised how many brands get turned away from sponsorship because of this requirement. Every one of these people are friends of ours and rides on the EDR.
The EDR blog has a few pages dedicated to providing as much information on the ride as possible. If you are new to this whole deal, here are a few you should check out before you decide if it is for you or not:
Joel is one of our favorite riding buddies of all time. He's had a ton of old bikes since I've known him, but I've never seen him on one that was actually totally finished. He was sitting on this nice old '48 frame and engine for a while and decided this would be the one. He reached out to several small shops for help, JD at Flying Monkey Fabrication, Kim Boyle at BCM, Slim's Fab and Bob at Temecula Motorcycle Service all pitched in on this thing. In the end, Joel decided that crusty old bikes are more his style and this one's gonna have to go before he scratches it. It's for sale right now on eBay, or you can hit up the old bike broker email@example.com directly if you are interested.
A couple weeks ago we had a chance to hang out with Buddy and Nick from Unknown Industries. They're not very "unknown" these days â€“ you've probably seen them ripping in person at events all over the country or at least on the internets. We fit some of our parts to their trusty FXR's and then kicked back and watched them session our parking lot and a little cul-de-sac down the street.
Best photo of our Murdock risers in action. Ever.
Watching their bike handling skills in person makes it really obvious how much control these guys have. What makes it even neater to me is that they are doing in on nearly stock bikes. These are real motorcycles that you could take a trip on. Nick's is a stock 80" Evo FXR with a Mikuni, Thunderheader, and a chain conversion. OK, Buddy's FXR has a twin cam crammed in there, but he can do this on a totally stock bike too. Once to make a few internet naysayers eat their words, the crew rented a few stock Harleys and rode 'em all over doing 12 o'clock wheelies and all the usual stunts. I think it cost 'em a taillight or two, but proved the point â€“ these guys have serious skills.
Our buddy Geoff shot some great photos of their afternoon in Temecula, and Flynn put together a tidy clip for our YouTube and Vimeo pages. Hope you dig it as much as we did!
We split into two teams for this trip; Alpha did a full 2,000 miles in eight days and Bravo met up two days into the trip for right at 1,500 miles in five days. Not like that is record-breaking mileage, but that was the point. We found time along the way to chill, take a swim in a river, do a little fishing, eat ice cream at every available stop, and hole up in an interesting tavern here and there. In other wordsâ€“it was a near perfect pace. The goal was to make Belden Town, which is a little camp/hotel/bar spot on the Feather River where some of our buds from Nor Cal get together once a year for a little chopper-party action. On the way back we hit some hot springs in Bridgeport and then camped in Mammoth. Bravo hauled balls home, while Alpha spent one last night up on the Kern River.
Our friend Geoff Kowalchuk went along on the shorter portion of the ride and shot photos for next year's catalog, so you may notice a few prototypes of the upcoming Gringo "S" model with an integrated shield and some new color ways of the Gringo and Bonanza helmets.
At one point our crew was well over a dozen riders, and it was pretty amazing that everyone stuck together and other than two flat tires, we really didn't have any issues that couldn't be solved quickly on the side of the road. The line up was something like this: 2 cone shovels, 1 S&S shovel, 1 evo rigid, 2 FXR's, 2 Sportsters, 3 modern Triumphs and a couple Dynas.
Hauling ass to cool places and doing fun stuff is what motorcycles are made for. If you can do it with good friends and ride something you built, or at least modified, then it's even better!
Thanks to our bros up north for the invite, we'll see you next month at the Nor Cal Cycle Swap!
We always try to get some riding in when we go up for the Nor Cal Cycle Swap. This time around we figured it would be fun to invite more people and do a big loop around Lake Tahoe. It was a simple deal, no raffles or prizes, no bike show, no entry fees. Just a group of weirdos riding around the lake more or less together. We met up in Auburn on Saturday morning and had a great turnoutâ€“around 30+ riders on all kinds of bikes; cafes, choppers, Triumphs, H-D's and modern bikes too. Some people just did a leg or two of the ride, some met us half way and others did the whole shebang. Tahoe was crowded as expected but we made the best of it and really enjoyed the sections on the 20 and 49. We ended up in the California bar in Auburn for a couple hours at the end, meeting up with more friends and calling it a day. Thanks to everyone who came out and especially to local tour guides, John and Roy who helped us find good roads and good eats. We'll probably do it again next year, so stay tuned if you wanna roll out.