Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Man I wish that mopeds required keys right about now. I was idly looking at Honda VFRs on ebay today and found this product. It's a viking skull mounted to a key blank for a honda VFR. It's really awesome. I imagine myself walking out of a bar, pulling out my viking skull key, and burning rubber into the distance while the sword I have mounted on the back of the bike drags and causes sparks to fly.

Obviously the sword dragging would merely sharpen the weapon. Do you think I'm some sort of idiot and would ruin my sword or something? Duh.

Here is the key in use:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Failure failure failure...

I find myself often ignoring the idea that a stock moped is a dependable moped and a souped (suped?) up moped is likely to be faster but exponentially more likely to break. Why do I do this? Because I'm an idiot that's why. Get off my back, what have you done lately?

Since slapping the Pinto together I have had moments of glory within ages of pure chagrin. Lately, the quest for glory has been to install the new cdi that treats has recently come out with. So far I have spent about a week dicking around on it, timing it, trying various cdi controllers, installing a proper kill switch, etc. I have managed to get it running, however, the incredible performance increase that I was hoping for has actually manifested itself as a mediocre performance decrease. I get about 5-8mph less top speed than I did before and my low end is worse. Hmmm.... I don't think that the fault lies within the unit itself, I suspect that I'm probably doing something wrong and have lately been considering a full breakdown and build up of this bike from scratch.

One major performance issue has been a top speed surging. When I hit the top of my power, rather than it just sort of hanging out there, the bike surges and loses power until I lay off on the throttle a little bit. It was exhibiting this same issue in L.A. and I thought that it was perhaps an issue with the Tillotson carburetor. However, Michael Mike, the mechanic whose example I usually follow, has not seen this problem in the nearly identical setup that he built so now I search for the root of the issue.

A) Fuel Flow
Perhaps I am just not pushing enough fuel through my carb. My petcock is fairly janky and so maybe when I hit the top speed I'm simply not getting enough fuel pushed through the carb. I had a little fuel pump kicking around my shop so last night I thought I'd throw it in there and see if anything improved. I tied it in to the pumper line on the bike and also tied in the fuel line and it didn't seem to effect anything negatively... until this morning when I couldn't start the bike at all. I suspect that over night the carb drained dry and now I need to prime the carb prior to starting it so that I have some suction. Lame. The problem is that I couldn't prime the carb and start it in place because I munched my pedal chain tensioner and had no pedal chain. The fuel pump also didn't seem to effect the surging issue so for now I'm thinking it may not be the fuel flow. Unless it's the petcock that is causing issues...

B) Dented up header on the pipe
My pipe is in pretty bad shape. Not so horrible that it won't run, but it certainly isn't helping things.

C) Seized up blued up kit
My 64cc polini has treated me pretty well if you don't consider the three times it's near-cataclysmically exploded on me. I've replaced the piston once, and the rings twice. It CAN go fast sometimes, but I feel like when you are making fine adjustments on a every other piece of equipment and the main hunk of metal that produces the power looks like it's been chewed by truckasaurus... it might be time to throw in the towel on ol' polini power and buy a cheap kit that I can hack on. "Rosanna, I need to buy a new kit. Do we really need to eat this month?" Probably will not happen for a while.

I think my issues come down to this truth that Responsible Jon so eloquently stated, "Kitted mopeds are only reliable if you are willing to replace EVERYTHING. Even the things that are sort of still working." Essentially, if I want to continue using this crap bucket as a daily rider, I'm going to need set it aside, ride my stockers to work and back and spend time and money slowly on the super bike, taking my time to figure things out instead of plugging the sieve holes one at a time.

I'll illustrate this post with photos of my blued up parts later.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Escape from LA

"The three of us were still sitting there, talking aimlessly, when the patrol car suddenly jumped backward, made a tight circle in the parking lot and zoomed off down the highway. I quickly finished my beer and was packing up my tape recorder when there was a tremendous sound all around us. Seconds later, a phalanx of motorcycles came roaring over the hill from the west. Both Gut and Buzzard rushed toward the highway, waving and shouting happily. The road was dense with bikes. The hot dog stand was on the crest of a hill above Bass Lake; it was the last geographic barrier between the Angels and their destination. The police, in their wisdom, had managed to pile up at least a hundred bikes at the roadblock-where the restraining orders were ceremoniously handed out-and then release them all at once. So instead of arriving in quiet knots, the outlaws crested the hill in a great body... howling, hooting, waving bandanas and presenting the citizens with a really terrifying spectacle."
-Hunter S. Thompson "Hell's Angels"

Well it wasn't quite Hell's Angels, and I really hate how journalists automatically compare moped club to them, however, this was certainly the most lawless moped rally I've ever experienced.

On Friday night, after blasting the pack I realized that I had missed a turn. Upon turning around and catching up with the slow pack, I pushed my way to the front along with Carl from the Latebirds. As we pushed up, we realized that the large white SUV was talking to us, "Pull over to the side of the road RIGHT NOW!!!" Naturally, Carl and I looked at each other and knowing full well that the slow bikes would serve as sacrificial lambs, we rode as fast as we could away from the scene. Six or seven other bikes seemed to have the same idea and Carl and I rode through side roads and alleys until we returned to the warehouse. Later, after being assured that the large group was at a bar near by, I struck out on my own. It wasn't long though, until LAPD found me and pulled me over. I don't have a license plate and forgot to turn my tail flasher on so I suppose I was a bit conspicuous. I played ignorant and after learning that I didn't have any priors, I wasn't drunk, and I was from a small fishing village in the north-country called Seattle, they let me go telling me that I was not going to get a ticket, however I was not street legal and that they were aware of the moped presence in LA this weekend.

Over the rest of the weekend there were intermittent police interactions, the one in particular, that made me think of the above Hunter S. Thompson quote, was somewhere near Glendale, we had ridden for about an hour or so, and we were about to ride Angel's Crest. What is Angel's Crest you ask? I wish I could tell you. I heard that it was going to be AMAZING but as we fired up our bikes and were moments from pulling out, word came down that there was a roadblock of forest rangers that had already stopped five bikes. Other than the word "Roadblock" coming into the rally lexicon, that was about as eventful as the Angel's Crest ride got.

The greatest moment in moped-policio interaction came on Sunday night. After a hard day of riding and hanging out, Rosanna and myself and a bunch of other mosquitos were sacking out in the bus when Travis yells, "Oh shit! There is a police helicopter outside and they have Nik and Cam up against the wall at gunpoint!" So I rose sort of Dracula style from my spot in the fron t of the bus and peered outside and indeed there was a full on Rodney King style LAPD assault on a couple of Latebirds. Ok, I suppose technically no one was being assaulted, but there were certainly shotguns pointed at the heads of my friends. Apparently, some smart people who will remain nameless were lighting off fireworks and shooting roman candles at a puddle of gasoline. So after the cops figured out that it was not gun fire but instead fireworks in the ghetto, they told Nik and Cam that they were idiots and then left the neighborhood.

All in all, the rally was the most fun rally I've ever been to. And there are far to many stories to encapsulate in a hundred blog entries.

Thanks Latebirds!