No competitor was in sight, so I chased a swollen sun down Bailer Hill Road. Wind enveloped me. Icy fists drummed my chest and shoulders. Cold fingers probed beneath my helmet, brushing over my nose, cheeks and eyes. The smell of wet earth and dark forest mingled with the damp warmth of my breath.
The bike leaned side to side responding to my gentle pressures as the road snaked left and right. I concentrated sixty yards ahead as fence posts, a ragged fir, a mailbox accelerated toward me…blurrred…then blinked past in a steady rhythm. The road straightened. ‘More speed’ my wrist demanded. The engine’s pitch rose, the sun seemed to grow larger and the long tail of my shadow scrambled to keep up.
I visited The National Air & Space Museum yesterday, the spacious trophy case for America’s greatest achievements. Hidden among the extraordinary flying machines is one fantastic motorcycle: The Curtis 1907 V-8.
The 1903 Wright Flyer–Centerpiece of the Museum
I always start with a salute to Wilbur and Orville at the Wright brothers gallery. Their original “1903 Flyer” fills the room. The audacity, persistence and technical achievement of these self-taught engineers is astonishing. Sadly, only a few years after achieving humankind’s first powered flight, they were embroiled in miserable legal battles with a crowd of imitators who were infringing on their patents. The resulting stress is thought to have contributed to Wilbur’s early death at age 45 and Orville’s sale of the Wright Company three years later. The brothers’ ‘hopeful journey’–freezing in a tent at Kitty Hawk; fixing the Flyer’s driveshaft again and again–in hindsight would seem the happiest period of their lives. (more…)
“Bike”, published in England, is a great motorcycle magazine. Reading it provides a fresh take on our sport (like watching the BBC News gives a different view of world events). Rupert Paul’s column in the March 2013 issue offers the following characteristics of the ultimate motorcycle:
Retro Every seasoned rider Rupert knows is increasingly fascinated by older bikes–simpler, more essential, less plastic. This checks with my experience.
Personality We’re not interested in something that breaks down, rather we want something with personality, something to talk about, stare at, show off, fiddle with, have a relationship with.
Engine The ultimate bike needs the best looking engine…in the world…ever. For Rupert, that engine would strongly resemble a Vincent V-twin minus the leaks and medieval complexity. It would have fins everywhere. A steel tube frame would show it off. A radiator, if required, would be hidden under the seat.