• BeginnerBikes.com Year in Review

    reprinted from BB.com , December 2003
    copyright owned by author

    BB Year In Review

    Well here we are, December. Another year has come and gone, albeit our first entire year under the new look of the forum and website along with the direction of our current BB team. A lot has happened in the past twelve months, we've had our thrills, chills, and spills but we're still rolling stronger than ever. I had another article ready to go for this month but felt compelled to do this one instead,the other one seemed a bit negative and I'd rather close the year on a positive note, so I tossed the other article. With our warm winter riding gear on, let's take a brief look at 2003:

    I'll start with the worst first, fursten wursten (said in my best imitation of the Swedish Chef from"the Muppet Show", now I'm showing my age!), "the Spills". We've had our share of "spills" here at Beginner Bikes as well, not just with the members who have gotten their first few drops out of the way along their routes of proficient handling and learned lessons, but the site had some as well. We had a couple instances where finances for BB were up in the air, but thanks to the generosity of our overall membership things continue to roll at an accelerated pace. Even our fearless leader is now amongst the "biker brethren", after receiving one heck of an offer from another forum member to acquire a decent ride. The compassion of the Beginner Biker knows no bounds, my DOT approved hat's off to you (but it's only off while I'm not riding).

    Then there was the chills. First off is the topsy-turvy new and discontinued models. The GS-500 makes a glorious return after a year of BB grumbling. A sporty new 250 cruiser lurks on the horizon from Kymco. That's one new bike and a comeback, which brings us to the disheartening farewell to Honda's two chain driven 750 Shadows (the ACE and Spirit) which are being replaced by the shaft driven 750 Aero. We also bid farewell to a pair of fabulous second tier bikes from Honda, the Magna and Nighthawk. And finally, Harley announces an exciting upgrade for the 04 Sportsters: rubber mounted engines. Speaking of chills, in addition to the winter weather (which as I mentioned in prior editorials is a swell time for a motorcycle's face lift), there were the amassing number of close calls that no doubt all of us can recall a few of, myself included. In fact after a few barks from the rear tire of my rigid along with the rattled loose and broken components resulting from "no rear shock road vibes", I am ready to face the insanity of a hardtail rear end and revert back to some semblance of suspension back there. Yep, the old spine tells me it would like to grow up to become an older spine. But back to the winter weather...for those of us that are fortunate enough to live in a warmer climate we don't have much to contend with, but for those that are storing their beloved for the next couple of months I feel your pain. Okay, I have enough bikes where I won't feel it, but my heart goes out to you nonetheless. And for those of you that are shopping, even in the warmer climates great deals can be had this time of year on a used bike so if you're in the market it's a target rich environment, some of the big boys have to sell their toys so they can buy the little boys their Christmas toys so keep an eye peeled. My hat's off to anyone that scores a great deal on a winter sale or uses this time wisely to make a few stylish upgrades. And for those of you that are braving the harsh winter weather, my hat's off to you as well for enduring such conditions for the simple joy of riding.

    And finally there were thrills. So many to list, let's start with each new member that came to us for help or recommendations on what to start off with. Many heeded our words and acquired that perfect first bike and are enjoying the heck out of it. Some went astray and acquired something a little beyond the normal recommended realm but are also enjoying the heck out of them. And then there's the folks that went looking for ways to make their ride theirs, they came to us with questions and went away with answers, only to return with a satisfied "hey look at my bike NOW" expression. Then there was the barrage of questions concerning gear, after all it has to be more than good looking, it has to be comfortable and offer some degree of protection too. I even answered a few questions along the way about chopper mods, I think it's great to see that wild eyed look in a new rider to want something truly unique, and while I throw words of caution concerning the altered handling back at them, I know deep down that these folks will someday be sending pics of their revamped bike once they throw some mileage behind them (and folks continue to tell me that the chopper craze is over). And then there's the 250/500cc sportbiker that writes "I need to buy some knee guards now, man I'm having a blast with my sub-super sport bike!" And let's not forget the folks that came in just a tad too late, asking for info on how to make their new bike fit them better or how to handle it in such and such conditions. And my hat stays off for all that participated in the MSF class, you got a great foundation based on what I've read on the forum, and you all have a much better idea how to use that marvelous two wheeled machine now.

    Which brings me to my moment of hypocrisy, time for the truth, I'm laying my cards down: the ol' Shackster never took the MSF course despite my multitude of recommendations. Nay, I survived my first few years on self reliance and quite possibly good old fashioned doo-dah luck, although I always held fast to the belief of only riding as fast as my angel can fly. With 6 1/2 years, 8 bikes (minus one sold), and 56,000 miles behind me, I have learned one thing and that would be I'll never learn it all. I have attempted to enroll twice in the past two years and was foiled each time, last year I tried to get both myself and my wife into the class but her health and surgery got that one, and this year an unexpected career change nailed this attempt. But I can say one thing, that 250cc bike I picked up last year actually clued me in to some things I missed in the previous five years. Truth be told once again, after owning mid-sized and larger bikes over the years I used to look down at the 250cc bikes before I found this site, but only after actually owning one did I discover their true nature and found out what a great learning tool they can be, even to an experienced rider. I've been wearing the tires of my larger bikes closer to the sidewalls since buying that 250cc bike for the wife to learn on, guess what...she ain't the only one that's learning something. So to all that have shunned the typical phony baloney "you'll outgrow that bike" philosophy and acquired a 250cc learning tool, once again that hat is off to you as I truly hope that you do outgrow that bike, because once you outgrow it you'll be ready for the next one or perhaps you'll even be 100% happy with it as it is when you've mastered it.

    In summary, this year was quite the adventure to us all. Keep your knees in the breeze my fellow BBers, and keep those mileage reports and tales from the road rolling. It's been a pleasure being an associate editor here with you folks, we at Beginner Bikes get all warm and fuzzy knowing that our advice is hitting home. So here's a hat's off to an even better next year. Follow that front wheel to whatever destination it takes you, but let us know in the forum where that destination finds you.

    When Shadow Shack is finished riding for the day and has his DOT approved hat off, he will answer any email you send through his profile

    "Customarily Minded Machine of the Month"

    "Tail-Draggin' VLX"

    December's Customarily Minded Machine of the Month is a finely tuned and tailored 1994 Shadow VLX. Starting up front, dual 4 1/2" headlights via J&P Cycles are flanked by fork mounted directionals, and a Highway Hawk wishbone handlebar with Arlen Ness mirrors rises above the lighting. A chromed radiator cover accents the lower portion of the black frame, while a FatBob extra capacity fuel tank and Travelcade Fastback saddle alters the rider's section. Vance & Hines Cruzers and a tear drop K&N filter kit hop up the motor, and following the rear is a tail dragger fender accented with three sets of lights. Chrome swingarm covers clean up the rear wheel and a relocated license plate and light finish up the business end. The owner of this marvelous motorbike has done an exceptional job in the Customarily Minded world of alterations.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: BeginnerBikes.com Year in Review started by Shadow Shack View original post
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