• QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING: BEST OF THE BEST!

    Cool temperatures fail to lower motorcycle fever at the Quail and keep Jim Palam from delivering this photo report.

    Low temperatures, brisk winds and overcast skies did nothing to dampen the spirits of over 3,000 visitors to the 2017 Quail Motorcycle Gathering on May 6 at the beautiful Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel, CA.

    Gordon McCall, motorsports director for the Quail Lodge, was once again the perfect ringleader for this 9th Annual gathering. It featured over 300 rare and historic bikes, as well as a generous sampling of custom and modified rides from some of the rising stars in the motorcycle enthusiast’s expanding universe. GEICO Motorcycles presented the event.

    Jim Palam, our man (and Triumph rider) on the West Coast was up and out early to capture the action. The show was so good that he forgot to eat his complimentary gourmet lunch – but he did take a big bite of The Gathering’s tasty essence – yours now to enjoy.

    Taking the Design and Style Award was Simon Waterfall’s super-clean and serious ‘75 Moto Guzzi 850T, Top, rebadged as Supernaturale. Designed and built by Hugo Eccler of Untitled Motorcycles of San Francisco (pictured) the bike features a custom aluminum tank, advanced electronics and fingertip controls. Its overall brushed satin finish will intentionally age gracefully, developing an individualized patina from the way the rider handles the bike.

    What do you do if you have a beautiful old Triumph race tank? If you’re Californian Bryan Thompson you build the quintessential ‘58 Triumph Tiger from ground up, around the tank. So good is this build that this Black Beauty has been racking up a bounty of awards – including First Place in the Quail’s Custom/Modified category. Well-done Bryan!

    Chris Carter has become almost as famous as the spectacular motorcycles in his amazing All Things Two Wheels collection. So thanks Chris for bringing your gorgeous ‘14 Jefferson Board Track Racer to The Gathering. It took 2nd Place in the American category.

    Considered one of the most innovative motorcycles ever created, only 10 hand-crafted Britten V1000 superbikes were ever built. This Britten, #10, resides in the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum, just a few blocks from my home. It belongs to the museum’s owner Virgil Elings and he proudly displayed it at The Gathering. Virgil’s son Jeff rode it up onto the winner’s ramp to accept the Significance in Racing Award.

    I met Richard Mitchell as he was rolling this meticulously customized BSA A65 Thunderbolt up to the Entrant’s Window late Friday afternoon. When Richard is not designing for Tesla, his passion is motorcycles. His beautiful creation went on to win 2nd Place in the Custom/Modified category.

    Ole #38 didn’t look like much when from a distance when I spotted owner Gary Landeen trying to kick-start her for a bevy of patient judges. On what was surely his last kick she fired up – and like the menacing roar of a Coliseum lion she fired up the crowd as well! This bike is the legendary Ed “Iron Man” Kretz’s Pre-War Big Base Indian Scout FDB 381 that competed successfully on a national level from 1941 through 1967. What a thrill to see and hear #38 roar at The Gathering!

    Two For The Road! If you’re a Motorhead you find beauty in design, function and performance. So forgive me if my heart beats a little faster when I take in the sexy symmetry of John Stein’s ‘70 Twin Motor BSA drag bike – bared for all to see in the Competition On Road Class.

    The 750 Sport was essentially a racier version of Ducati’s first big V-Twin, the 750GT. Its Goldenrod Yellow and black paint scheme and lean, aggressive styling made this Italian beauty really stand out from the crowd. Robert Jordon owns this stunning and pristine example.

    Wake Me Up Before You Goggo! The Hans Glas GMBH Company of Germany produced the Goggo Motorscooter in the 1950s. They were dependable and offered better performance than their Italian counterparts. They were however a bit pricier and few ever made it to the States. Harley and Deb Welch brought this nifty ‘55 Goggo 150 to The Gathering.

    And now for something different: The ‘76 Hercules W2000. Powered by an air-cooled, single-rotor Sachs-designed Wankel engine, it was manufactured in Germany. Innovative for sure, but criticized for its high cost, insufficient ground clearance and low performance. And of course, now, in high-demand by collectors! Congratulations to Stephan Haddad for the bike’s 2nd Place win in the Other European category.

    Words & photos by Jim Palam, http://www.jimpalam.com/

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  • Volvo celebrates its 90th birthday

    Volvo Cars starts production of its new XC60 mid-size SUV in Gothenburg, Sweden, this month – 90 years after the first-ever Volvo, the ÖV4, saw the light of day on April 14, 1927.

    New Volvo XC60A A total of just 275 vehicles were sold in its lifetime, which was modest even in those days, while the new XC60 replaces one of the best-selling models in Volvo’s history.

    The original XC60 became a phenomenon, with climbing sales every year since it was introduced in 2008.

    Seven years after it was revealed, it became the bestselling premium mid-sized SUV in Europe, and in its ninth year it is still selling in big numbers, accounting for around 30% of Volvo’s total global sales. In fact, April 2017 will see XC60 production exceed 1,000,000.

    Original Volvo XC60Volvo’s founder, Assar Gabrielsson, saw an opportunity for car manufacturing in Sweden after observing the growing automotive industries in the US and Europe from his position within sales at the Swedish ball bearing maker SKF – a supplier to the car industry.

    He managed to convince SKF to invest in a spin-off car business called AB Volvo and the first mass-produced Swedish car was quite a conventional vehicle, with elements of American car design, a wooden frame made of ash tree and beech, a 1.9-litre side-valve engine and artillery wheels with wooden spokes.

    Only one colour combination was available – dark blue with black fenders.

    Despite all these changes over the past 90 years, one thing has remained the same and that’s Volvo’s commitment to making the world’s safest cars.

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  • Just Where Are The Best Deals on Wheels?

    When looking to buy a car there is certainly no shortage of choice. The UK has over 4,900 franchised dealers plus many more generalists. Car auctions, internet sites and private ads offer even more options but this still leaves many buyers wondering just where is the best place to get a really good deal.

    For most people, a car is likely to be the second most expensive single item that they will ever buy and so it is important to get it right. There is certainly plenty of choice and if you are looking to buy a used car in the London area, it is possible to find almost every conceivable make and model within a radius of a few miles. The first decision is whether to buy new or second-hand. New car sales are booming, fuelled largely by some of the new methods of financing them such as personal contract plans and leasing as new recruits to the world of motoring consider car ownership very much along the same lines as mobile phone contracts with a continuous monthly charge and regular upgrades being the order of the day. The canny buyer, however, realises that such a throw-away mentality results in some great cars appearing on the second-hand market and it usually means that the first owner has paid dearly for the privilege of new car ownership or lease. A car’s value depends on several things but one of the most predictable is its age and the depreciation curve is invariably steeper in its early days.

    By steering clear of the lure of new cars, a buyer may suddenly realise that his budget will now stretch to a much better specified car. Most car purchases involve the heart more than the head and even our London buyer may fancifully visualise cruising along deserted country roads with the roof down whereas, in reality, a nose-to-tail daily commute is probably much more likely with emission levels and congestion charges figuring highly in any car buying decision.

    There are undoubtedly some great bargains to be found but the risks should not be underestimated. Perhaps the ideal car could be almost new or fairly young, low mileage, well maintained and with a known history. An ex-demonstrator from a franchised dealer or an ex-lease car could probably fit the bill and some of those previously used by disabled people under the Motability leasing scheme can often be exceptionally good but the range of vehicles on offer may be rather limited. Buying ex-fleet vehicles is another option to be considered but some of these may have covered high mileages and a used taxi or minibus is certainly not to be recommended.

    Another interesting idea is to check what vehicles are available from car rental companies such as those offered under the Hertz Rent2Buy scheme. The idea that ex-rental cars have been roughly treated by uncaring drivers is simply not borne out by the facts and there are some real gems to be found. Hertz even allow for an extended test drive in the form of rental for a few days so there should be no unpleasant surprises here!

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  • 666 Ducati Diavel Diesel Models To Be Built

    The Ducati Diavel Diesel is a limited edition model being produced as a collaboration by the two Italian firms. A total of 666 motorcycles will be produced as a result, featuring what the press releases calls ‘a hyperkinteic dynamism of a post-apocalyptic, retro-futuristic world’. Sounds fancy.

    2017 Ducati Diavel Diesel

    To go with the release of the Ducati Diavel Diesel is a small collection of clothing to match from Diesel. On the way in April with the limited edition, will be a leather jacket, two T-shirts and a pair of Jogg Jeans. Which might be why the new bike was actually unveiled at Milan Men’s Fashion Week before heading to the Motor Bike Expo.

    2017 Ducati Diavel Diesel and Clothing

    Ducati Diavel Diesel Design:

    So it’s obvious that a motorcycle worked on by Ducati and an Italian clothing brand would need to look good. And the Diavel starts off with a hand-brushed stainless steel superstructure with visible welding and rivets. That approach is kept for the fuel tank cover, front cowl and passenger saddle cover.

    2017 Ducati Diavel Diesel Tank Cover
    2017 Ducati Diavel Diesel Tank Cover

    And the saddle itself looks rather lovely, made of real leather, and with a pyramid of three Ds to stand for Ducati, Diesel and Diavel. The mix of leather and visibile steel has that feel of vintage aeroplanes or ships. It’s definitely my favourite part of the bike.

    2017 Ducati Diavel Diesel Saddle and Passenger Cowl
    2017 Ducati Diavel Diesel Saddle and Passenger Cowl

    The black anodised lateral air intakes also ave visible welding, and have intake covers in red methacrylate (or bendy plastic as it’s also known). And some Diesel logos on the inside.

    2017 Ducati Diavel Diesel Intake Cover
    2017 Ducati Diavel Diesel Intake Cover

    There’s a red theme with the LCD dashboard matching the Brembo front brake calipers and even the chain features five red links.

    But the exhaust goes for classic black Zircotec ceramic coating, with black silencers. Both the exhausts end cans and rear-view mirrors are machined from a solid block. You also get a black front mudguard with the DDD pyramid logo on it.

    To show it’s a limited edition, the Ducati Diavel Diesel comes with a numbered plate on the frame. And buyers will be happy to know they get a bike cover and rear stand included in the price – but will have to wait to pick up a matching Diesel T-shirt.

    Mechanically it’s a standard Ducati Diavel, with a 162hp Testastretta engine, with the Ducati Safety Pack (ABS and Traction Control). Which is the point where some people may have lost interest – but as a purely cosmetic limited edition, the Ducati Diavel Diesel has some nice touches to enjoy or possibly emulate.

    There’s no word on price, but we’re sure your local Ducati dealer can find out for you before the bike is released in April. And if you can’t stretch that far, you can always buy a T-shirt instead…

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