• 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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  • Valuing Your Car

    Selling Your Car? Here’s How to Get the Best Idea of What It’s Worth.

    If you’re in the market to sell off your old car you have a few different options when it comes to a valuation, even without leaving the comfort of your own home. These vary both in terms of how involved they are, and how precise the results are, so here are your options, and our verdict on which to go with.

    The Old Fashioned Way

    We say old fashioned, but you’d most likely use the internet for this method in this day and age. This is the quick and dirty method to get a very rough idea of what you can expect your wheels to go for.

    It basically entails looking up the prices of other cars of the same or similar make and model that are currently on the market to get a ballpark figure and that’s kind of it. This might be the first method that comes to mind for some people but we honestly can’t recommend it.

    It probably takes more effort than either of the other popular methods, and gives less accurate results, so it really has nothing going for it.
    Of course, there’s also the really old fashioned way—just drive the car to a dealership and ask them how much they’ll give you for it.

    Free Valuation Tools

    There is a wide array of online car valuation tools that are free to use and easy to find — they’re literally the first thing that will come up if you type ‘car valuation’ into a search engine. They’re typically found on car selling sites, but you’re under no obligation to use those sites — you can even use two different tools to double check any figure you get.

    These tools ask for your various details about your car like make, model, mileage, and license plate number and perform a simple search to pull up a reasonable price, but they can’t account for everything so this will always be an approximation.

    HPI Check

    Car valuations are one of the many uses for a car history check. Unlike the other options you’ll have to pay a fee, but the cost is negligible, and the valuation will be based on a much more complete picture of your car, including its service history, optional extras and so forth.

    This means it will be much more accurate, and all the information will be pulled from databases meaning that the input you have to provide is a lot less than the other options on this list. This one is our recommendation if you want to get the best price for your car.

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  • The 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth Now Available

    The 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth is a new and limited edition model in the Sport Heritage range. It teams the Japanese company with a famous name from the car world. Abarth was originally founded in 1949, and has specialised in small sports cars for 60 years, including being featured as the sportier end of the FIAT brand.

    2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth
    The 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth

    Abarth already sponsors the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team and supplies a number of specialist vehicles as part of that relationship. So it seems only right that Yamaha honour them by producing a total of 695 bikes with some exclusive lightweight parts.

    Typically for a factory special, the 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth features the standard 950cc three-cylinder engine with traction control and slipper clutch. But what it does gain is a full lightweight Akrapovic exhaust system with titanium double slip-on silencer. So that will help acceleration a bit, as well as making you sound faster.

    2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth
    Just running in the 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth

    Also helping you feel faster is a sportier riding position, thanks to swallow ‘clip-on’ style handlebars and the single racing seat. It’s finished with a suede cover and red stitching. And the seat cowl is one of the new lighweight carbon parts which feature the Abarth logo, along with the carbon front mudguard.

    Online order registrations opened on January 17th with the first 95 customers getting an invitation to an exclusive Yamaha VIP Abarth Experience, along with their choice of companion. The events will be confirmed when the new owners finish their purchase, and will take place between May 1st and June 16th 2017 at circuits in Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Austria and the UK.

    Each event includes the chance to test drive a range of Abarth vehicles on the circuit, take a drive with a professional racing driver, and also be given the chance to visit Abarth’s Turin headquarters by prior appointment throughout 2017.

    Once the initial 95 models of the 2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth have gone, the remain 600 are available to order from your local Yamaha dealer from April 2017. And to be fair, you’ll have as much fun on the road or track on the XSR900 as you would in any car.

    Then again, if you do appreciate small, four-wheeled vehicles, then you might like the fact Abarth have also procuded a concept car to match the bike. The 695 Tributo XSR has the same grey and red livery, an extensive array of carbon fibre, and also gets an Akrapovic exhaust system.

    2017 Yamaha XSR900 Abarth and Car

    It’s just a shame they haven’t produced a matching motorcycle trailer and made it all available as a set!

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  • Signs of Confusion?

    The British have always been great travellers with some of the world’s most famous explorers hailing from our shores: Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh and Captain James Cook to name but a few who faced incredible dangers in uncharted territories with constant threats from disaster, disease, wild animals and hostile locals. It seems that Brits have been successful in reaching every corner of the globe (assuming that globes actually have corners!) but there is one peril that these heroic globetrotters did not have to face but one that lies in wait for any unwary modern-day British traveller brave enough to venture from these sheltered isles. That danger arises from the apparent inability of the British to understand other countries’ road signs.

    Of course any traveller needs to understand a little of the local lingo even if such knowledge is limited to STOP, LEFT and RIGHT but it seems that most confusion arises with the signs containing pictures or symbols. Although there have been moves towards standardisation of road signs for many years (a protocol to which the UK did not sign-up), there remains much national diversity and there are even some signs which have different meanings in different countries. This failure to understand, and consequently not to follow, the instructions given by these signs has been cited as one of main causes of accidents abroad and this fact has been recognised by overseas car-hire companies who are now imposing additional insurance requirements on British drivers who they regard as being a bad risk. This may slightly dent the pride of our usually well-respected motorists but insurance companies report that the countries from which the most accident claims originate are: Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and Australia. The latter, being an English speaking country, may be surprising and many visitors from the UK expect driving here to be just like at home, with the possible exception of a few signs showing Skippy bouncing across the road, and are not prepared for some of the unusual road signs. The Australian sign for “The Road Ahead Will Change” is a classic example of a sign where the image seems to bear no resemblance to the message it is purporting to convey. It seems that you really need to think Australian to fully understand the logic. Some of the Icelandic signs are also highly symbolic rather than pictorial so need to be carefully studied.

    Both in the UK and overseas, there are also signs which are unlikely to have any relevance to the average motorist such as the prohibition of vehicles carrying explosives but the whole business of understanding other countries’ road signs is a matter which should be taken very seriously and some, such as those advising which roads are “priority routes”, inform drivers as to who has the right of way and abiding by this is almost as important as driving on the correct side of the road.

    The most important thing is to recognise which signs are concerned with road safety and which are simply providing information about local facilities. In France for example a sign simply showing the letter é over a silhouette of a village church simply indicates the location of a stop-over village (Village Étape) and a single letter t indicates the toll booth location for season ticket holders. It may be some consolation to know that French drivers’ knowledge of some of these minor signs is not much better than that of UK drivers.

    It should always be remembered that UK road signs are probably just as confusing to overseas visitors and we can only wonder what a Renault-driving Frenchman would do when confronted with a sign saying “FORD”.

    So, whatever country is to be visited, some time should be taken to become familiar with that country’s road signs and, if it has been some time since a driving test was passed, it would do no harm at all to also study the latest UK road signs as their numbers also steadily rise. The realisation that most of the important overseas road signs are intuitive comes as something of a relief to those with limited language skills and the few which are symbolic rather than pictorial can easily be learnt. Driving in a safe and considerate manner should be no more difficult overseas than at home and will win the respect and appreciation of local motorists. It also enables such trips to be fully enjoyed, carrying on the British tradition of travel and exploration. Take a look at the coop’s infographic:

    Road signs

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