About Me

Lynnwood, Washington, United States
These are The Adventures of Motorcycle Max. I hope you enjoy this great collection of stories, all true - No fiction here! Tune in while we discuss Motorcycles, Racing - both now and then, and whatever else sparks our fancy. Do you have a question for Max? Send it to us! And Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 9, 2011

When is a speeding ticket not always a bad thing?

Back in the mid 90’s my wife wanted to go over to the Washington peninsula for a short vacation. I think she read about the place on Lake Crescent in Sunset magazine or something. I was thinking that it didn’t sound like all that much fun unless I could take the bike. So she being the accommodating person she is, drove the car and I rode my Honda CBR600F2.

After riding part of the day in the rain we got to the little cabin at Piedmont (North side of the Park).
The next day I decided to go for a ride and my younger daughter wanted to go as well.  This back in the day when you looked at a map for all the little squiggly lines for the best ride.  Jessica and I are very similar and if I wanted to dial it up a notch or two, it was certainly alright with her. We found a couple of nice back roads and cruised out to Neah Bay at a fairly brisk pace.

This area is Washington’s rainforest and the scenery is stunning.  During the mid-90’s, most of the logging industry had fallen on hard times (Spotted Owl anyone?), thus the forests were largely dense.  The Olympic Mountains are spectacular as are the roads; and the law enforcement was as thick as the trees!

As we were coming back through the National Park, everything was perfect; beauty all around us, perfect pavement, lots of nice twisties, and sweeping curves.  Then we got behind a Ford Crew Cab Diesel with a bunch of loggers in it. This was not really a problem as they were going 35-50 and I was sure they knew the road as well as anyone.

We followed them for maybe 10 miles until we all caught up with the tourists that were gawking at the lovely lake and doing the speed limit (which I think was 30mph).  Even though it was a double yellow line, the Ford and I are picking them off as safely as possible. Finally we got around the last one and we were back on pace. I followed the Ford for another mile or so and got tired of inhaling diesel fumes and decided pass. Just as I got around the truck, we met up with Smokey the Bear (park ranger) with his radar on.

The good news was that he did not see the pass over the double yellow line, but we got it for 20mph over the limit.

My wife wasn’t too happy about my new award nor about the poor example I was setting for our daughter.  There was an upside to the incident besides the really great ride. Jessica tells her older sister, who tells all her friends, and now the word is out!  All the young men she knows now think her dad is ‘pretty cool’ as he is known to ride ‘briskly’.

Unfortunately, sometimes you pay to be "cool".

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What have you found in a Barn lately?

The story of the 1962 BSA Goldstar DBD34GS

Everyone dreams about and talks about finding the ‘old board tracker’ or the Vincent in a barn, but rarely does it happen. However I own one of those and the entire story is not as romantic as it sounds.

In 1976 I was working in a Kawasaki shop and a gentleman in his 60’s comes in and asked to buy a throttle cable. I asked him what it was for and he said that whatever he got will need to be modified. Again I inquired what it was for, as perhaps I could get at least one end correct. He tells me it’s a 1962 BSA Goldstar. My mind is telling me that this is the good one…the pre-unit one…with the racing history. After confirming that was truly what it was, I told him “If you ever want to sell it, give me a call.”

One day, as I’m coming back into work after a day off, I get a message.  “ Some guy called and wants to sell you his BSA” .  I had forgotten about the guy as it had been a year since he was last in the shop.  But I really didn’t want some leaky old British bike but I’d call out of courtesy.  When I returned his call, it all came back.  I arrange to go see the thing, out in the country, in an old horse barn. Actually it was more of a giant shed, dirt floors, stalls and lots of junk.

When I first saw it I was quite disappointed. I asked if it ran and he said “Runs good”…could have fooled me. One thing about this bike was that it had the 1½ GP carb; the float bowl was not built into the carb and all the mounting hardware was missing. It was only held on with the fuel lines. This was one of those bikes that had a definite starting drill. My brother-in-law used to have one when I was a kid so I knew what the drill was but had never done it. I think he was impressed that I knew it and got it started.
Then I discovered surprise number two. The side stand had no spring to hold it up. I took off around this rutty cow pasture in the dark with the side stand banging.  Every time it starts to run out of fuel I grabbed the float bowl and lift it up so it would run. Craziest test ride I have ever been on, but it did run good…sort of.

Then the negotiations started. He wanted $500, which was way TOO much.  I asked what he was going to spend the cash on? He said he needed a used motorcycle to ride because his wife was sick and she needed the car. I said we had a CB450 at the shop for $500 would he trade? The next day he picked up the Honda (that I bought from the shop for $350). That night I went to his place to get the BSA and as we were loading it I was already having buyer’s remorse. I was thinking “what have you gotten into with this old piece of junk?”

BEFORE Restoration

After it was in the truck he asked if I want the 2 apple boxes with the extra parts in them. Parts???? (Lesson learned here is to ALWAYS ask for the extra parts!) The two boxes had the instruments and mounts, some of the sheet metal and a bunch of brackets.

The parts were worth as much as the bike. It took me 10 years of scrounging to scrape together all the other bits and pieces I needed.  Yet I was in no hurry and not willing to spend much on the project. During my travels, both work and personal, I was always looking for the parts I needed. 

One time, probably in the early ‘80s, I was in a shop in Portland called the Cycle Hub.  The owner, Cliff was a somewhat unique individual. There also happened to be two fellows from England and they were asking about a large Goldstar tank. My ears perked up because I needed one as well at that time.

“Do you have one?” they asked.
”Yep, sure do and still in the box.” Cliff replied
“How much?” they inquired
“$800” he replied…..and I almost choked (Remember I only paid $350 for my bike!)
“Could we see it?” the lads asked
“If I have to go get, it the price will be $1,000” retorted Cliff.
Well that was the end of the discussion and interest in Cliff’s tank.

I found a big Clubman gas tank and took it to England to have it restored. Little did I know the bike I bought was a Clubman and when it was done I had a proper 1962 BSA Goldstar DBD34GS.

The RESTORED Goldstar!
Just one of the many motorcycles that Max has in his own “Barn”!  

Friday, July 8, 2011

The New Rider and Tire Repair

Having worked in various dealerships for 10 years, starting in the early 70’s, I have met a lot of really great enthusiasts, as well as helping new people get started in our fantastic sport.

One day in the summer of 1973, I had a young man in his late teens come in the shop.  He wore a long sleeve shirt that was torn and asked if he could use our bathroom. He then showed me his forearm that sported some new ‘road rash’. It was very obvious that he had just crashed. After helping him to clean up and apply a little first aid I asked him what happened. His first statement was actually a question “Does everybody crash when they get a flat tire?” I responded that that was not normally what happens.  I gave him a few pointers on how to deal with a flat when it happens. He was obviously a new rider and I did not want to insult his riding skills. I then sold him a new tube for his Honda CB350. He said he hoped to never have another flat; as this was the second time he had one and had crashed both times! After a little more discussion he asked if I would look at his bike to see if I though something might be wrong with it. I said I would be glad to have a look.
The best replica of what the New Rider had that we could find online!
We then walked out of the shop and around to the side where the bike was and at first glance it was very apparent what the problem was. This bike had extended forks that were at least +8” but I think were probably +10” and ‘Z’ bars. The fact that he was not hurt as bad as it could have been was a testament to his current skill level. I then gave him a lesson on motorcycle geometry and why the factory setup had its advantages. He said he bought it that way because it looked ‘cool’. 

Today’s motorcycles are far safer that ever before. Not going into chassis design or anything else but the fact that most have tubeless tires versus the old tube is a major step. With a tube the air is forced out with a puncture (think of a toy balloon); where with a tubeless tire the tire pinches the object and the pressure helps it stay in the tire. Commonly the puncture is not noticed until one notices the tire is low on air because it comes out more slowly.

Be very careful about adding sealants to street bike tires as a preventative measure. This will cause the puncture to seal and the object and move around as the tire goes through the contact patch.  It can also eat up the casing, which has a great potential of causing a catastrophic failure. 

40 years later, Tire repair is still a touchy subject!  We here at Ventura-MCA have a great new product, GRYYP Emergency Tire Repair Systems, made in Spain.  The Cargol Turn & Go is a revolutionary NEW way to quickly repair a tubeless tire in an emergency situation.  Check them out on our website, www.ventura-mca.com! 
Cargol Turn & Go System.  Remove the Object, Screw in the Cargol, Break off the Head, Air up the tire, and GO!!
Want one of these for your own?  Order direct or from one of our dealers!  Go online to www.ventura-mca.com!

Gryyp Kit #K004; Auto/Motorcycle

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The origin of the Gangster Whitewall

When Harley Davidson was starting to build up sales momentum in the 1980’s there was also an increased interest in nostalgia.

I was prompted by a friend, who was an Indian collector and enthusiast, to see if Avon would consider building an H speed rated whitewall tire. At the time the only wide whitewall motorcycle tire was made by the Coker Tire Company.  They were marketed toward machines that were mainly for display. Goodyear had long ceased production of their whitewall, which had been a favorite of the Harley crowd.

 I asked the Export manager at Avon if they would build such a tire, and I wanted it based on Avon’s old style Roadrunner Universal. This way only one tire would be needed as it could be used on both front and rear applications.  Every time I asked he would tell me how difficult it was to make as the entire production for whitewalls would have to be done differently.

Normally, in the automotive world, when a whitewall is being built they lay down a strip of white rubber on the sidewall then cover it with a layer of black rubber on top. After the tire is pressed (molded) they buff down through the black to the white layer. The problem with an H speed rated motorcycle tire is the side walls are too short and by the time all the necessary legal information is printed on the side, there is no room for a whitewall to buff down to it. 

As a result the Gangster is made with the whitewall having all the lettering in the white. Therefore the tire goes through the factory after it is built, with the white exposed to all types of contamination and any contaminated tires need to be scrapped, increasing the cost.  It took me 4 YEARS of hounding them to get it built.

When we launched the tire it was an immediate success and we were behind 2-3,000 tires for over two years. All of these tires were to come to the US only. In England they put a set on a bike and went out to take photos and when they rode it back to the factory a guy was following them and would not leave until they sold him the tires off the bike. The crazy thing was we were selling tires back to England and France and they were being sent by air.

One time when I was at Harley’s headquarters in Milwaukee they said to me if Avon ever came up with any unique concept they would consider buying tires from Avon.  Here is where the fool in me comes out. I was at Harley on another issue and pulled a Gangster whitewall section out of my bag to ask them what they thought. There was immediate enthusiasm and then they got very subdued saying they would need to consult the design department. Don’t know what I was thinking because as soon as I was out the door I know they called Dunlop and asked for a wide whitewall. The good news was it took Dunlop two years to get it to market which gave Avon two years with no competition.

What was interesting was the Dunlop was technically illegal. They chose the buff down method and the lettering was too small. When the Department of Transportation was notified their response was: “You are contacting us about a labeling infraction? We do not have the time or resources to enforce this problem, but don’t you do it.”

After about four years into production we got a consumer letter condemning the use of the name ‘Gangster’ saying we were hurting motorcycling’s image. Some how I think they missed the concept that this was a nostalgia thing that had the look of the car tires of the 1920’s when gangsters were in their heyday.

So there you have it.  Max’s tale of how the Avon “Gangster” came into play!  The Avon Gangster tyre is still available.  See www.avonmoto.com for a dealer nearest you!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Have you ever wondered where the “Fat Freddie” Tire came From?  In this feature, Max Martin recalls about the inspiration and commencement of the Avon “Fat Freddie” Tire, also known as the start of the Wide Tire Craze!

If you have ever been to a custom bike show, rally or anywhere that custom Harley-Davidsons gather, you have no doubt seen the oversize or fat rear tired monsters. This is the story of how the oversized tire came about. Now you may be thinking that some marketing genius in a corner office behind a fancy desk dreamed it up.  Or that a bunch of marketing guys in a big conference room around a walnut table had a brain storming session. That might be the way some products come into existence, but that is not how the first oversized tire came to be.

When Dealer Expo used to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, there was as much business done in the bar as in the convention center.  I happened to be standing and talking with two well-known custom bike builders. Donnie Smith and Dave Perewitz, as well as the late Gene Koch who was a Drag Specialties sales rep. I asked Donnie if he could have any tire built for him, what he would want. I actually knew he was going to ask for a very large ‘Drag Race’ size tire but I asked anyway. He said “I want the largest tire you can make”. I told him I did not think that was what he really wanted because Avon at that time made some industrial applications that were quite large. The thing I found interesting was he wanted a 16” tire because the east coast roads were poor and the additional sidewall flex would help the ride. I knew the west coast look would have been for a low profile 18”
So my next job was to determine exactly how wide we could go.  I started doing some research and determined the widest tire that would fit a stock HD frame without cutting the frame rails could be 8” wide. You would still have to offset the motor and make everything else yourself. Now I had to convince the factory in England to make it. This was in the days where everything was done by fax. I sent a fax to the UK saying I wanted them to build a 200/60H16. It went kind of like this:

UK: What is the application?
US: Nothing. It is for custom Harleys
UK: Is there a wheel for it? Will it fit? What do you have to do to put it on?
US: There is one rim available. You either have to use a custom frame (one available) or cut the back half of your stock Harley Davidson off and make everything else yourself.
UK: What will the front tire be?
US: Either a 90/90H21 or 90/90H19
UK: Wait a minute. You want us to build a tire that fits nothing, you have to cut you bike in half to put it on and you are going to put a little skinny little tire on the front?  Are you out of you mind?
US: Yes…trust me on this.

AM23 "Fat Freddie" 200/60B16

As they say the rest is history.

Honestly I never thought it would grow into what it is today. The 230 tire came next, and is still in production today.  This also started an entire trend and Hot Bike magazine awarded Avon Tyres the ‘1992 Innovative Product of the Year’.  In the 2000’s came the Venom 250, 300, and even the 330. 

Next I’ll tell you the story behind the Avon Gangster Tire.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

Harley's Sport Bike

While working for Avon Tyres, it had put me in contact with some really great people and some interesting situations. Prior to the development of the European Economic Community, the German government had a TUV standard that tires had to pass; today it is the ECE75.  This was because of the high speeds that could be obtained and sustained on the Autobahn. 

In Europe, the motorcycle manufacturers also recommended specific tires for replacement on each model. Therefore, every year the bike and tire manufacturers would get together to test tires. Harley was just starting to sell quite a few more bikes in Europe and at Avon we were having clearance problems with some model tires rubbing on certain model Harleys.

All the tire manufactures made tires in compliance with the ETRTO (European Tire and Rim Technical Organization) which gave the industry some standards for both the tires and the motorcycle manufacturers. However Harley was not going by the rules for the “tire envelope” and parts of the bike were contacting the tires.  Harley had a meeting Milwaukee to discuss this problem. 

So there I was, sitting in this very fancy  meeting room waiting for some of the engineers and the first thing I noticed was that there was a noise coming from the floor above us that sounded like someone was moving boulders around on steel wheeled carts. One of the guys said it was the engine painting department.  He went on to say that the EPA wanted to shut them down but they were “grandfathered in’. I was anticipating someone falling through the ceiling during our upcoming meeting!.

The same guy then says to me, before the meeting started, “What do you ride?”.  I responded “I ride a sportbike’.  At the time I was riding a new Honda CBR600F2 but did not disclose what I owned.  He then responded “Oh, we have a Sportbike!”  

I was familiar with their line of bikes and it was before they owned Buell so I am sitting there running down the list in my mind and not coming up with anything and he adds…..”The Sportster”.           “Oh right” I responded.

One needs sometimes to look back on history because there was a day when the Sportster came out that it was the fastest thing on the street. But times have changed - but the Sportster?  Not too much.

Sportster Then

Sportster Now
Stay tuned for information about "The Britten"!!

And, don't forget, you can know look up your Ventura Motorcycle Dealer on a Map online at www.ventura-mca.com!  Until next time!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Just who was it designing those Kawasaki’s anyway?

In 1976 I started working at Kawasaki Country in Yakima Washington. I have always said there are 3 types of motorcycle shops. Those that make it happen…those that watch it happen….and those that wonder what happened.

Prior to this shop I worked in the latter type of shop, but this was a make it happen place. Don, the owner, was all for being creative and using your imagination. If anything, he had some of the wildest ideas. I will talk about some of the promotions we did another time; but this time I would like to reflect on some of the bikes we created.

In this time period, there was not a demand for the specialized bikes we find today. There were no sportbikes, no cruisers like we see now, and very few touring bikes. Today we see a lot of ‘builders’ around, but in my mind they are mostly assemblers - as all they do is take existing parts off the shelf and assemble a bike (with modifications to it). A real builder starts from scratch and makes his own frame and usually everything but the motor. We made customs.

The first one we did was with a stock KZ400. We found a place that made handlebar mounted fairings and some nice small bags that matched and made what could be called a mini touring bike. This combination sold very well because it looked nice and was very reasonably priced. The regional manager for Kawasaki came by and took pictures.  Then Kawasaki released the KZ400 Deluxe, which cost hundreds more than ours and did not sell.

Next I wanted to build a ‘CafĂ© Racer’ so I took a 1976 KZ900 ordered Lester Mag wheels, a BMW R90S fairing, 4 into 1 pipe, better shocks and an additional disc brake and more. We had it custom painted a blue silver with blue stripes. The Kawasaki came in again armed with a camera.  Again, they took pictures.  Sure enough, in 1978 they introduced the Z1R.

I rode a KZ900 for a year but did not like the weight so when the KZ650 came out, I bought a 1977 KZ650C with the mags. I put a 720cc kit in it, smoothbore carbs, Koni shocks, drilled the disc, BMW fairing again and a KZ750 twin tail section.  I tell you, history continues to repeat itself.  Kawasaki Rep comes out, takes pictures, leaves.  Then Kawasaki introduces the GPZ 750.

At about the same time I had a customer who was a former H2 owner buy a KZ650 but it wasn’t fast enough.  So we turbo charged it – which was unusual in the mid 70’s. Can you say GPZ 750 turbo? I sold the 650 and rode a KZ1000 MKII (J model).

I do remember asking the rep if it was possible to get any of the Eddie Lawson race parts from Racing as I wanted to make a replica.

It was at this time the shop was purchased by the local Harley dealer and we got a new Kawasaki regional rep.

Maybe I should have applied at Kawasaki headquarters for a job.