An upside to all this rain…

My TT250 on Glendora Ridge Road last year…

And there is an upside or two, even though we’ve had flooding here in the Golden State, the rifle range has been closed due to the creek rising (really!), and the weather has not been conducive to riding.   Our reservoirs are being replenished (we’ve been in a severe drought condition for several years), and the flowers this Spring are going to be awesome.   That’s important to us for a couple of reasons:

  • You may not know this, but Glendora Ridge Road is one of the premier wildflower locations in the United States.  During March and April, the colors positively explode up there.  With all the rain we’ve had, this Spring will be spectacular.
  • Baja’s Vizcaino Desert will be awash in color during the CSC 3rd Annual Baja Run.   That ride is coming up (we are less than one month away).   Baja John is in Baja now, and he reports that the desert is very, very green.   It will be amazingly awash with desert flowers when we ride in March.  If you’re on the Baja ride and you don’t have a camera with a circular polarizer, you’ve still got time to fix that oversight!

I’m looking forward to the good times that are immediately ahead, folks!

It’s going to be a lot greener and there will an explosion of wildflowers when we’re in Baja next month!

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Pre-Owned!

We always have a stream of pre-owned motorcycles moving through the shop, and my good buddy Matt created a page featuring them here.  I had my trusty Nikon D3300 with me a couple of days ago and I grabbed a few photos.  These are cool bikes.

The first is an ’05 Harley Softail Deluxe.   It’s awesome, and of all the Harley models, it is probably my favorite.   Say what you will about Harleys; there’s just no taking away from their incredible style.   Check this out…

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I’ve owned a couple of Harleys, and I enjoyed both of them.  One was a ’79 Electra Glide Classic, and the other was a ’92 Heritage Softail.

There’s something about a Harley.   I miss the ones I’ve owned.  I’m tempted to buy the ’05 in that delicious deep root beer brown color you see above, but I have no room in the garage.  That Harley sure is beautiful.   Somebody is going to get a great motorcycle.

Okay, on to the next one, and that’s the ’07 BMW R1200RTP police bike Steve has on sale….

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Those old police Beemers are way cool.   My friend Bob Brown rides these bikes exclusively, and they sure are fun.   Police Beemers are as tough as Zongshen motorcycles.   They even have a second battery (one was used for the bike, and the other was used for all of the police gear).   What was cool about riding the retired police Beemers is that when folks see one, they immediately and naturally assume you’re a police officer and they give you plenty of room.   I even made that immediate assumption.  I was riding with Bob in Mexico one time (me on my KLR 650, and Bob on a police bike).   I was running flat out on the KLR (just under a hundred miles an hour) and Bob tucked in two feet behind and to my right.  When I caught a glance of his bike in my right rear view mirror, I immediately thought I’d been busted!

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And there’s one more, and that’s a ’15 RX3 in what is inarguably the fastest color…

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That RX3 has a ton of options on it, including spots, the big front wheel and brake kit, knobbies, and lots more…

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It’s stopped raining here in So Cal, but I think the break is temporary.  It’s overcast and dark out there and the weather folks say there’s more rain coming (the prediction is for 6 to 10 inches of rain this weekend).   I guess that’s a good thing (we’ve been living with a drought for the last several years), but it sure has crimped our riding and other outdoor activities.   If the break is long enough, I may fire up my TT250 and get out for a ride.  We’ll see.

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A nice note from Josh…

Wow, another nice note from a CSC good buddy and a cool accompanying video!  Take a look at this, folks…

Hey Joe,

Just wanted to let you know I finished the first installment of our off road ride on Saturday. Check it out!

Feel free to share it on the blog, although I noticed the blog has been pretty busy lately. Thank you and the rest of CSC Motorcycles for providing an affordable & reliable way to enjoy life on two wheels.

Part Two will most likely be out next week.

Thanks again!

Josh

That’s a cool video, Josh.   Thanks very much for sharing it with us!

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A Savagely inexpensive straight shooter…

You guys know I’m a rifle enthusiast, you know I can’t pass on an interesting experience, and you know I’m basically a cheap son of a gun (I almost said something else, but I caught myself).  So the other day when I was in the local gunshop, I was surprised and intrigued to see a consignment rifle go on the rack at a ridiculously low price.  It was a 50-year-old Savage 340 bolt action rifle in .222 Remington (complete with a period-correct telescopic sight) for only $180.

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Folks, this is a rifle that probably sold new for around $35 or $40, but like I said, that was 50 years ago.  These days, any kind of a shooter for $180 is a steal.   I was immediately attracted to the Savage by the price and the thought that it might make for a nice gunstock refinishing project.  What really got my attention, though, was the cartridge for which it was chambered:  The .222 Remington.

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I’ve never owned a gun chambered in .222 Remington.  It’s a cartridge that has a cult following, as it one of those special numbers known to be inherently accurate.   It’s very similar to the .223 Remington (the 5.56 NATO round), but the .222 is a little bit shorter with a longer case neck.  It’s proportions are reported to be ideal for phenomenal accuracy.   Like I said, I’ve never had a .222, but for $180, I could afford to find out if the stories were true.

Okay, on to Step 2 of this saga, and that’s the reloading aspect.  Accuracy can be greatly enhanced by reloading.   You know, that’s the deal where you save the fired brass, resize it in a reloading press, punch out the old primer, insert a new primer, load a precisely-controlled amount of new gunpowder, and seat a new bullet.  Oilà…a new round.   The deal with reloading is that you can experiment with different powders, different powder weights, different primers, different brass manufacturers, different bullet makers, different bullet weights, different bullet seating depths, and more.   The concept is that you can tune the ammunition to precisely match a rifle’s preferences and achieve improved accuracy.  I’ve been reloading ammo for close to 50 years and I’m here to tell you it works.

Now, back to that Savage rifle.  I waited my obligatory 10 days (the Peoples Republik of Kalifornia’s “kooling off” period) and in the Governor’s eyes I had cooled sufficiently.  I picked up my new-to-me, 50-year-old Savage last week and loaded several different ammo recipes to see how the old 340 would work.  In a word, it was awesome…

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You can see that different loads do indeed result in different accuracy levels.  This is encouraging stuff, and what makes it even more promising is it shows the results of just one reloading session.  The load that printed a 0.538-inch group is clearly pointing toward what the Savage likes, and my next set of loads will refine that combination.   Good stuff and great fun, and all with a rifle that only cost $180!

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Smooth…

When I stopped in the plant a day or two ago I was surprised to see Roland’s race bike with the engine out…

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Whoa, somebody’s working some magic here, I thought to myself.   Sure enough, Gerry was hard at it…

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“Whatcha got going on here, Gerry?” I asked.

“Oh, just smoothing things out a bit,” our Impresario del Motore told me, and then Gerry showed me the RC3 mods he was making.   The first thing involved opening up the RC3’s cylinder head intake port.   Here’s the before picture…

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And here’s the after picture.  Notice that the port’s outer contour opening has been enlarged to match the intake manifold contour, the septum has been reduced substantially, and then the intake port walls have been cut back and smoother over with epoxy…

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But wait, there’s more.   Gerry showed me a stock combustion chamber roof.  Note the sharp steps around the valves in the cylinder head (the pen points to these)…

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Gerry’s work on the modified RC3 cylinder head involved contouring those machined steps to allow smoother flow over the valves.  Cool.

And then one more thing:  Gerry told me that the inside of the exhaust pipe had a fair amount of weld material obstructing the exhaust.   He ground that off to smooth the exhaust gas flow through the header…

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It’s all very cool stuff…basic hot rodder tricks intended to increase horsepower.   Gerry’s tried these techniques on other engines he’s modified over his 30+ years of experience and the guy just flat knows what he’s doing.   It’s cool to see these talents being applied to our motorcycles.  Roland’s racing again in a few weeks and we’re eager to see how this is going to impact his RC3’s performance.

As always, we’ll keep you posted.

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A note from another Joe…

Here’s a cool note and three cool videos I found in my inbox this morning from our good buddy Joe M…

Hey Joe, it’s the other Joe, Joe M from up in Washington state.  I wanted to pass along my video stories of taking my 2016 CSC RX3 Cyclone down to Southern California for some off-road training and touring with RawHyde Adventures.  For perspective, RawHyde Adventures is the official off-road training facility for BMW. 

My RX3 was surrounded by F800s and 1200GSs!  My trip started out going south as fast as I could, a day ahead of schedule, to get in front of a series of storms that were planned to hit from Washington all the way to California.  In Cali, it got named winter storm Leo and didn’t give me the wonderful SoCal weather I was hoping for.  Since I got down to SoCal early it gave me a chance to visit CSC HQ and meet the folks, tour the facility and pick up a new Seat Concepts seat and some miscellaneous spares.  I had a great time doing that and got a nice CSC RX3 T-Shirt to wear proudly with my Dual Sport Club get togethers.  The CSC team is awesome and were very gracious with their time to take care of me. 

Then I headed up to Castaic to connect at RawHyde Adventures camp.  We did 3 days of adventure training there and then I headed out on the first part of the tour called Base Camp Alpha in the Mojave Desert and continued with the Mid-Winter Adventure in Death Valley.  In total, it was 8 days of great riding. 

The bike did great and I only had one small crash with no damage to me or the bike.  I happened to carry my iPhone, Contour Roam on my helmet and EKEN H9R facing backwards on the rear of the luggage rack and got a lot of pictures and video.  I took all my footage and put together a video for each part of the trip which I’ve linked below.  Please feel free to share it on the CSC blog if you want as I’d like to show folks interested in the bikes or current owners what it can really do.  I can’t wait to get more proficient so I can really show it off.  Take care and I’ll see you in March for the Baja tour!

Intro to Adventure:

Base Camp Alpha:

Mid-Winter Adventure:

This is awesome stuff, Joe M, and thanks very much for sending it to us!   I know our readers will enjoy it.

Like you, I’m very much looking forward to the Baja ride.  See you in March, Amigo!

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March 4th Motorcycle royalty…

Our Crystal Lake ride scheduled for the 4th of March is shaping up to be a good one.  I think we have eight or nine people signed up now, and while all of our friends are royalty to us, four of the folks who will be on the ride are the stuff of legend.   Let me tell you about them.

I learned just yesterday that Roland Wheeler (our CSC RC3 factory racer) will be riding with us…

Roland, you will recall, won his class at Fontana a couple of weeks ago on his first RC3 race.  That’s mighty impressive.   Roland is a genuine nice guy, and this is a good chance to get to meet him.

The next cool guy is Syl Binau, the rider who successfully piloted our highly-modified CSC 150 to a land speed record in the Modified Scooter class several years ago.   Here’s a great photo of Syl on the race bike (you’ll be able to see the bike at the CSC plant prior to our ride).   That’s our good buddy and artist extraordinaire John Esposito behind him.

I caught a couple of cool shots of Syl on his speed run…

On this last photo, you can see that the heat wrap we had on the exhaust pipe had unraveled.  When folks asked about it, I told them we incorporated a streamer to stabilize the bike at high speed.  I think a few of them believed me…

Our third motorcycle royal family member is Arlene Battishill, President and CEO of Go Go Gear, a company specializing in women’s riding clothes.  This is shot of Arlene on her CSC 150 motorcycle in Santa Rosalia, Baja, with the Sea of Cortez in the background.  It’s one of my favorites.

Arlene and I rode hardtail CSC 150 scooters all the way to Cabo San Lucas a few years ago, and if she looks familiar to you, it might be because you’ve seen her on the TV show Shark Tank.   She’s an awesome lady and I’m looking forward to riding with her again!

And one more…none other than Steve Seidner himself, founder and CEO of CSC Motorcycles.  Here’s a shot of Steve and yours truly on the first RX3 USA ride ever.   It was a 343-mile ride we took on a Saturday from the plant to Joshua Tree National Park, and it was our first indication of just how great a motorcycle the RX3 truly is!

March 4th will be fun.   You’ll want to arrive at the plant well in advance of 9:00 a.m.   Please have a full tank of fuel when you do.  After that it’s about 50 miles of glorious twisties to Crystal Lake and back, and then we’re all headed over to the California Grill Express for the best burgers in the world.   We encourage you to sign up on our Meetup page.

I hope to see you there!

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Improved formats…

Okay, so here’s the deal:  My three favorite motorcycle magazines are Motorcycle Classics, RoadRunner, and Motorcyclist.  Well, okay, I like Cycle World, Motorcycle.com, and ADVMoto, too.   And maybe one or two others.  I like probably like Motorcycle Classics the best because I write regularly for them and I like vintage bikes (if you want to see the articles I wrote for these folks go to www.MotorcycleClassics.com and type Berk in the search bar).

A favorite piece about a favorite place...Utah's Arches National Monument. Story and photography by yours truly.

A favorite piece about a favorite place…Utah’s Arches National Park. Story and photography by yours truly.

The magazine business these days is a tough proposition, though, because we are moving more and more to an online world.   Nearly all of the magazines have an online presence, and the main reason for that is that a print magazine just can’t keep up with real time events.  Basically, everything you read in a print magazine is old news (the stuff you read in a print magazine is at least 30 days old by the time you read it, and in many cases, it is way older than that).

To remain viable, the smarter print pubs realize they need a different angle.   Motorcycle Classics was one of the first moto mags to figure this out.  Their subject matter is less susceptible to late-breaking news (hey, they are all about vintage bikes, so by definition, what Motorcycle Classics prints is already old news and late-breaking news is moot).   But Motorcycle Classics did something else to differentiate themselves.  Their photography, their writing, and their print quality is way ahead of everyone else.   As the other moto mags saw their page count go down, Motorcycle Classics’ went up (even during the recession).  Every time I receive the latest Motorcycle Classics, I am overwhelmed with just how good it is, and then I wonder:  How are they going to top this in the next edition?  And then, of course, they always do.

What I see going on with other magazines is that they realize they need to make their stories more interesting, they need more depth in their writing, and their print quality and photography need to improve.    I mean, really, does anyone care about the latest Gixxer graphics changes or more chrome doodads and fringe on a cruiser these days?   You just can’t fill pages in a print magazine with that kind of drivel.  It’s already been published on the Internet (probably the day it was announced by the manufacturer), and on the Internet, you get the info for free.

There’s another aspect to this, too, and that’s this:  I think people are more interested in experiences than they are in things.  If you have compelling stories about interesting experiences and if you can bring a reader into the story, people will find that intriguing.   Stories about new products?  Well, not so much, I think.   One of the keys to our success here at CSC is our riding and how we share it with you.  We don’t just want to sell you an ADV bike.  We want to bring you into the ADV experience, and we do that with things like our Baja adventures, our books about riding in China and Colombia, and our blog.

So, back to the magazine thing.  This issue doesn’t only affect moto mags (other mags are also experiencing the competitive crush of online pubs).   I was very surprised when reading my latest Guns and Ammo magazine to see a story about riding KLR 650 Kawasaki motorcycles across Utah on a shooting adventure.  It was a great story, with photography by my good buddy Fonzie Palaima (an extraordinarily-talented motojournalist and photographer).  Imagine that:  A motorcycle story in a gun magazine.  I noticed that my latest issue of Guns and Ammo was physically larger, too, and the print quality had improved dramatically.  It was a good move on their part, and I enjoyed reading all of the stories in that magazine.

With my good buddy Fonzie Palaima. The price is out of date; the friendship is not.

I saw a post on Facebook recently that Motorcyclist magazine is going the same way.   Their release said that Motorcyclist will “include larger cut size, thicker paper stock, and expanded feature articles…”

From the Motorcyclist Facebook post about their new magazine format.

From the Motorcyclist Facebook post about their new magazine format.

I think that what Motorcyclist is doing is great, and I think the writing and the stories in their new format will be absolutely outstanding.   I think I know what I’m talking about here, as another good friend of mine, Joe Gresh (the world-famous moto-scribe and small motorcycle aficionado) is one of Motorcyclist’s regular writers.   Joe writes the “Cranked” column and other features for Motorcyclist.   When we first publicized our ride across the western US (featured in 5000 Miles at 8000 RPM), Motorcyclist magazine was the only publication that stepped up to the plate and sent a journalist to ride with us (and that was Joe Gresh).  His story about that ride was awesome.   When we did the China ride last year (which I wrote about in Riding China), Joe rode with us the entire way (all 6000 miles on an epic ride across a magnificent land).  Mark my words: With their new format and emphasis on real stories by supremely-talented guys like Joe Gresh, I think Motorcyclist is going to do extremely well.

Joe Gresh, who decided to go with Chinese food just prior to riding into the Gobi Desert.

Arjiu (Joe Gresh’s Chinese nickname) riding into the Gobi Desert on an RX3. It was the adventure of a lifetime. It’s the kind of stuff you’ll read about in the new Motorcyclist magazine.

So that’s it for now.   We have lots of exciting things coming up, including the Baja trip next month (watch for more information here on the CSC blog about that ride), and our March 4th ride to Crystal Lake up in the San Gabriels.   Our Meetup.com group is starting to gain traction, with well over 40 members already.  Our next CSC Saturday ride is on the 4th of March, and we’ll have some real motorcycle royalty riding with us that day.  It would be a grand time to join us.  We welcome all kinds of motorcycles and scooters, so if you want to meet a great bunch of guys and gals and ride an awesome road, this is a wonderful opportunity to do so!

Okay, one more photo, just because I like it.  It’s my RX3 on Day One, on my ride home from the CSC plant about two years ago…

My RX3 up on Glendora Ridge Road the day I took delivery. It is a wonderful and amazing motorcycle…but you already knew that!

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More Offroad!

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The guys on the weekend offroad ride out in the Mojave Desert (Matt, Evan, Christian, Mike, and Josh) posted a collection of truly outstanding photos.  I asked if I could get copies to post on the CSC blog, and the answer is right here!

Thanks for the photos, guys!

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Those are all great shots, guys, and thanks again for allowing us to share them with our readers!

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Offroad!

Wow, just read this about a great offroad adventure a few of my good buddies had this weekend on their CSC motorcycles!   Check this out…

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Looks like you boys had an awesome ride, and the photography is stunning.  Thanks very much for sharing, guys!

Hey, don’t forget our ride out to Crystal Lake on the 4th of March.   We’re hoping to see all of you, and many others, on our next ride.  Willie, thanks for the great ride poster you put together!

Crystal-LakeWD

Remember, all makes and models of motorcycles and scooters are welcome to join us!

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