SoCal 4: Desperately Scrambling Down to Los Angeles on a Bad Bike

I am loath to disparage other motorcyclists.  Riding is a small community, and yet there are certain transgressions that are unforgivable, and this happened today when Mo at EagleRider San Francisco put me on an unsafe bike that nearly killed me due to his neglect.

I picked up a Ducati Scrambler last night with my friend Patty, who happens to run Desmo Silicon Valley, a Ducati Owner's Club in the Bay Area. Similar to NYC, the riding scene in San Francisco / San Jose seems fairly well-connected, and Patty knew Mo from various bike events.  Last year, I had a great experience with a Ducati Hyperstrada, but when Patty dropped me off to pick up the Scrambler, I nervously noticed that not only did the bike have over 27,000 miles on it, the Desmo service light was on.

Ducati motorcycles require valves to be checked regularly, I asked Mo about the light (with Patty as a witness), and he laughed it off, saying he just serviced the bike, but didn't have the software to flash the ECU (and thus reset the maintenance light).  Now I know a number of riders who check their own valves, and Mo owns multiple Ducs, so I trusted him as his word.  Unfortunately, this would turn out to be a huge mistake.

This morning I was up by 5am, and suited up to head south.  Patty and Eric had convinced me to skip Yosemite, and stick to some canyon carving in Southern California.
Initially, I had planned on doing the PCH, but there had been several landslides knocking out bridges and Route 1, so I resigned myself to slab much of the route to get down there, but possibly take the coastal route back.
I was on the road by 6am, and took a scenic detour on Route 25,  from Hollister through San Benito to Lonoak, California.

There was nearly no-one on the road, and it was probably in the mid forties, with a dense fog clinging to the tops of the hills, obscuring your view and chilling you to the bone riding through it.

But as the sun came out, the scenery was dazzling and other-worldly.
After stopping briefly to warm up my fingers, I continued on back on the 101 South all the way to San Luis Obisbo and Pismo Beach, where the palm trees beckoned the seeming beginning of Southern California.

I then got off the highway, and headed towards some amazing roads along Route 166 going into Los Padres National Forest. 
 I was a bit grumpy over an earlier fight I had had with my girlfriend,
 but stopping to pee I started to appreciate this alien landscape (at least for an East Coaster).
Looking down in during my rest-stop, I noticed a dead coyote or wolf in the canyon, and realized I was somewhere totally different.  

The canyons and roads of Los Padres are phenomenal, but unfortunately approaching Ojala is was when my bike started to malfunction.  
Completely leaned over in a turn, the throttle of the machine started to jerk.
  At first, stood the bike up, and shrugged it off thinking this was a new machine (to me), and that every rider doubts a bike once in a while, when going over a steel-grate bridge for example, or changing from asphalt to a concrete surface.
 
So maybe it was just me... But then I started to lean the bike over around turns again, and the throttle cut out again.

I found myself having to rev extra, and the throttle-response would suddenly lurch, which is incredibly unsafe when trying to power out of a canyon corner.

Here I was in some of the most spectacular country I'd ever seen, on one of the best roads I'd ever ridden, on a bike that I didn't trust.
I then began to wonder if there was something wrong with the throttle, 
or if the chain was too tight (I had a similar issue when getting a tire changed on my ST3. 
 I didn't think this bike came with DTC, but perhaps there was something wrong with the traction control going around corners.
The issue seemed to settle when I didn't push the bike, so I began to doubt the issue again. 

I ended up picking up the 101 in Ventura, California, and decided to shoot for Ducati Westlake, a large dealer Patty had told me about the day before. 

I was back in traffic, and realized that I could split (legally), and suddenly the engine started to surge again, this time quite violently, making me feel like my life was in danger for the second time today.  Changing gears at about 4200rpms and the engine would sputter and either surge or cut out, and bobbed and weaved and eventually made it down to the Ducati shop by about 3pm.
© 2017 Tigh Loughhead

SoCal 2: Desmoto San Francisco

Just as I had stumbled on the fabled Munroe Motors (Ducati San Francisco) last year while at Dreamforce, I wandered by a shop this year overflowing with Italian Motorcycles which turned out to be Desmoto.

Walking around the Mission looking for a Best Buy (so I could find a card-reader to download my GoPro videos riding),

I happened to pass by a Cycle Gear and Desmoto.

I struck up a conversation with the service manager Brien, and even though he didn't ride Ducs,
he told me that Desmoto specializes in all types of European machines, from service to restoration to race-tuning.
 There were race farings and Italian machines everwhere, like this 850GT Moto Guzzi sitting next to a Ducati Monster.
 In addition, there were a whole slew of trophies and posters from years past.
 Brien told me that the space had gotten incredibly expensive, and was slated to move to Portrero sometime in the coming months.
 I told him about my upcoming trip,
 and my plans to try and hit Yellowstone before heading south towards LA.
 Brien also knew Patty (with whom I was going to hang out with the next day) and Mo, from whom I was renting a Ducati, who he claimed had hid bikes serviced at Desmoto, though not too frequently as I was about to learn in over the next few days.
© 2017 Tigh Loughhead

SoCal 1: Ducati at Dreamforce

SoCal 3: Desmo Silicon Valley and Alices Restaurant

Last year, I had a quite a bit of awesome route guidance from friends who had lived or ridden the West Coast, but none better than from someone I had not met yet named Patty, introduced to me by a local friend Sandro, who helps to run DESMO on the East Coast.
Selfie Photo Credit: Patty

MV Agusta Edition: Tail of the Dragon


Tigh Loughhead rides Ducati Streetfighter Motorcycles at the Tail of the Dragon North Carolina
Motorcycles are one of the best things to ever happen to me...

MV Agusta Edition: Cherohala Skyway

Today was one of those halcyon motorcycling days that I'll see in my memory in sepia-tones for the rest of my life. 
I finally got a chance to ride the Tail of the Dragon and Cherohala Skyway. 

MV Agusta Edition: Gapalicious Thursday


A few weeks ago, I had an utter fail at the Tail, where I broke my key in Georgia the day I was finally intending to ride the famed Tail of the Dragon.  I've wanted to ride this stretch of Route 129 for years, ever since I left two friends in Asheville headed to Cherohala en route across the country on Italian Ducati and Aprilia superbikes.

Fail at the Tail


I've wanted to do the Tail of the Dragon for years... The Tail of the Dragon is one of the few motorcycle trips on my bucket list (besides maybe the Bavarian Alps) that I haven't ridden before.
If you don't know, the Tail spans a vertiginous 308 turns in 11 miles from North Carolina to Tennessee,  nestled in between the Smokey Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest, and which is widely considered one of the riding Meccas in the United States.

9th Annual Brooklyn Invitational Custom Motorcycle Show 2017

I stopped by North 14th Street with my buddy Eric last weekend for my fifth consecutive year attending the Brooklyn Invitational.
If you don't know, the Brooklyn Invitational Custom Motorcycle Show is a custom bike show in Greenpoint, Brooklyn each year, started less than a decade by custom motorcycle-builder Keino Sasaki, artist John Copeland and photographer Jeffrey Schad.

Back on the Blue Ridge Parkway

One of the greatest motorcycle trips I ever rode was a trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway about three and a half years ago.  Back then, riding my M600 Ducati Monster, I'd attempt to keep up with two friends riding the first 899 Panigale ever imported to the United States, and a brand new Aprilia Tuono.

Best of Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

If you consider yourself a motorcycle-sort of person, then a trip to Barber will become more of a religious experience than an educational trip to a museum.

Riding a 1980 Ducati 900SD Darmah vs 1981 Moto Guzzi CX100 Le Mans

Last week I was down in PA, belatedly celebrating a bday, and my buddy Alex asked if I wanted to try riding a couple of his vintage Italian motorcycles.  Now I've long lusted after the 1980 Ducati 900SD Darmah and 1981 Moto Guzzi CX100 Le Mans that sat in his garage, so I grabbed my GoPro and headed over to Giegertown. 

RideHVMC Track Day during the Solar Eclipse at New York Safety Track

After the DESMO BBQ, a few Desmo and East Coast Duc members Glenn, Melissa, Michael and I were going to head up a few hours north to Harpersfield, to New York Safety Track, one of the favorite racetracks for speedy motorcyclists.


Sunset at Safety Track

DESMO Ducati Owner's Club 17th Annual BBQ and Bike Show

This will be my fifth consecutive barbecue and bike show since joining DESMO, the New York and Tri-State area's officially recognized Ducati Owner's Club.

I've included a BBQ and bike recap of each of the previous four years below:

2013 Desmo Ducati Owners Club Annual BBQ 

2014 The 14th Annual Desmo BBQ 

2015 The 15th Annual DESMO BBQ

2016 DESMO DOC's 16th Annual BBQ

The Simple Beauty of Walt Siegl Motorcycles Bol dOr MV Agusta

I saw this bike a few years ago, and was profoundly struck with its beauty, even though I didn't know a thing about one of greatest custom motorcycle fabricators at the time.
Walt Siegl might be greatest living Ducati builder alive, designing and manufacturing super-light custom Ducatis (Leggeros), and his precise aesthetic turns already-beautiful machines into something transcendent (in this writer's humble opinion).
Although I was only peripherally aware of the WSM brand at the time, I was awestruck by this highly-modified MV Agusta Brutale triple when I saw it at the Brooklyn Invitational Custom Motorcycle Show a couple summers back, that I learned was part of Walt Siegl's "Bol d'Or" series.
I recall wishing that I had a better camera to capture the beauty of this machine, and I later learned that the bodywork and custom subframe weigh just 8.5lbs.  Known sometimes more for the appearance of his beautiful bikes, Siegl is an engineer and ex-racer, who knows modifications impacting power-to-weight ratio are much more useful than fancy farings, as sublime as they may be.  This Bol d'Or comes in at nearly a hundred pounds lighter than the factory Brutale.
 Walt Siegl builds out of Harrisville, New Hampshire, and is currently working on a couple Ducati projects using prototype aircraft-grade steel.
 I someday hope I can afford one of these machines, which I hear start at about $50,000,  and are backordered for quite some time, but until then... I'll just be happy that bikes this beautiful actually exist.


© 2017 Tigh Loughhead

20th Century Cycles | Billy Joels Motorcycle Collection in Oyster Bay Long Island

I finally got a chance to check out Billy Joel's motorcycle museum in Oyster Bay, Long Island! 

Filipacchi New York

I had a chance to stop into a new motorcycle and riding apparel store called Filipacchi a few months back, and though I was quick to Instagram the moment at the time, I just realized I never posted anything about this great new store.
Although I think they're licensed as a Ural dealer, I noticed the Cleveland CycleWerks cafe racer in the window walking around Soho in the spring rain, on the way to my friend's (and fellow Ducati enthusiast's) fintech event called Empire State Startups Conference at Webster Hall.
Filipacchi sells paintball apparel and outdoor sporting equipment, but their main focus it seems is motorcycles and riding gear, like this customized-yet-affordable cafe racer from Cleveland CycleWerks below.  This hip 500cc single comes in at around $5,000, which isn't a bad alternative to spending that much restoring a CB500 from the 1970's

The store is cool and the staff are super-helpful, so if you're wandering around Nolita near Spring St and the Bowery, go stop by: 

23 Prince St, New York, NY 10012

© 2017 Tigh Loughhead

Ducati Motorcycles of Italian Sporting Bikes of the 70s Bike show


 I had been out really early this morning, riding all around White Plains and 22 up into Connecticut, first with a couple of friends, and then with a bunch of East Coast Ducs as well.  But, I broke off early, as Moto Borgotaro had organized a couple of private collectors to do a classic 1970's Italian superbike bike show in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn in concert with Union Garage and Alpinestars.

Riding the North Shore of Long Island

Tommy and I had an early morning today, meeting a few friends off Exit 48 of the LIE at 7am.  The weather was a bit foggy coming out of the city, but I made it from the Lower East Side out towards Mellville in just over half-an-hour.

2017 is the Year of the Ducati Supersport

I had mixed feelings when Ducati announced Project 1312, which turned out to be the "SuperSport," Ducati's return to sport touring.
 I love the ergonomics of my ST3, which was unfortunately killed off by the introduction of the Multistrada in 2007.  Though their capabilities overlapped, the Multistrada isn't the same, offering aa more upright riding position, and which never really felt like a sportbike.

Sharpie Edition Ducati Monster by Jody Whitsell

I met Jody at last year's DESMO BBQ, the 16th annual New York Ducati enthusiast's summer party. I had seen pictures of her bike before, but never had met the artist,  Jody Whitsell who one day took a Sharpie Marker to one of the most beautiful Ducati motorcycles ever built, a Ducati Monster S2R.
Sharpie Edition Ducati Monster S2R by Jody Whitsell
The funny thing is that I had the exact same idea to do to my Ducati 996, and even bought a set of cheap Chinese plastics, which I either wanted to vinyl-wrap, or paint or draw upon myself.

Anniversario


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