A blue P-51, Twin Peaks Steve, big bears, and Russian rifles…

18 April 2014
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Wowee, the last two days have been busy…starting with a stop at the CSC plant, rolling up to Running Springs for lunch with my good buddy Twin Peaks Steve, and continuing on into Big Bear to pick up a new toy!

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While I was at the CSC plant yesterday, I spotted a brand new metallic blue P-51 (that’s our 250cc model) parked in front of our showroom.   It’s a real beauty, it just came off the line, and it’s available now.

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This particular P-51 is tastefully customized, including lots of chrome, custom mirrors, polished fork lowers, and chromed billet wheels.   Take a look, boys and girls…

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Somebody is going to be a very proud owner when that bike shows up in their driveway.   It’s awesome.

Two weeks ago, as you blog followers know, I took a ride up to Big Bear to grab some photos for a story I’m doing for my favorite motorcycle magazine (and that, of course, would be Motorcycle Classics).   While I was up there, I spotted a Big 5 sporting goods store, and I just had to stop to see what they had.

Big 5 is one of the larger importers of surplus Mosin-Nagant rifles, and as a shooter and a collector of these fine old rifles, I stop in every Big 5 I see.

Well, the Big Bear Big 5 store had a Mosin-Nagant that was absolutely gorgeous with all matching serial numbers, and at the low prices these go for, I pulled the trigger (pardon the pun).   It was made in 1930 and it is in exceptional condition.   I don’t have photos of it yet, but I will later and I’ll put one or two here on the blog.

Now, you know we live in the People’s Republik of Kalifornia, where we have nutty politicians and even nuttier gun laws.   The bottom line is that after buying the rifle two weeks ago, I had to wait for our left-leaning state’s mandatory 10-day “cooling off” period (you know, just in case I was buying a 100-year-old antique Russian rifle to commit a crime).   Today was the day I rolled back up to Big Bear to pick up my new toy.

I knew I’d be in Twin Peaks Steve’s neighborhood on my run up to Big Bear, so I emailed Steve and we met for a late breakfast at what has become my favorite breakfast spot in the San Bernardino Mountains, the Old Country Coffee Shop…

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We had a great breakfast and we enjoyed a great conversation, including a good talk about last weekend’s company ride up on Glendora Ridge Road.   That sure was a fun ride, and Steve, thanks for breakfast today!

On the way out, I grabbed this photo of Twin Peaks Steve up in the mountains…

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You probably remember me writing about Steve’s custom Bobber…it’s a magnificent motorcycle (one of the nicest customs we’ve ever done)…

There’s something about the colors on Steve’s Bobber that just really work.   It is a very classy bike, and I love that photo.

So, back to the other two topics in this blog’s title…

Let me cover some of the interesting Big Bear stuff first.   The Big Bear region is, in a word, awesome.   To me, it’s like being up in the Swiss Alps (and yes, I’ve been there).   Crisp mountain air, magnificent scenery, awesome roads….you get the idea.   And there actually used to be big bears in these parts…grizzly bears, before they were hunted to extinction.   Today, the area is inhabited by black bears, which aren’t nearly as big as the grizzlies, but they are still pretty cool.  They’ve made lots of movies and TV shows up here (remember Bonanza?), big name boxers and mixed martial arts dudes train up here because of the altitude, and California’s first gold rush actually happened right here.   Like I said, this is a cool area, and I love it.

Okay, the last topic of the day…the Russian rifles.   These Mosin-Nagants are cool, they are inexpensive, and even though they made more than 17 million of them (starting in 1891), the supply is drying up and the prices are climbing.   I bought one a few months ago based on what one of my Cal Poly students told me and I’ve had a lot of fun with it.   The trick is to find one with all matching serial numbers.

The first one I bought was in pretty rough condition, but I refinished it and it looks pretty cool now…

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These rifles have military-style ladder sights (for lobbing rounds into the next county, I guess)…

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About a half dozen companies and Russian arsenals manufactured Mosin-Nagant rifles.   Two of the largest were the Russian Tula arsenal, which is what this rifle is (the star with the arrow rolled into the barrel shows it’s from the Tula arsenal).   This rifle, as you can see from the imprint, was made in 1940.    Right around that time, the quality on these rifles deteriorated sharply as the Soviets were grinding them about during World War II.  But this one is an early 1940 model, and the metal work is superb.   Note the serial number on this one, too…it’s No. 2339.

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Here’s a macro shot of the bolt, which shares the same serial number…

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Even the butt plate has the same serial number…

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And one more…these rifles come with a bayonet.   It’s probably long enough to shish-ke-bob two or three of the guys the Russians fought in World War II…and check out the last photo…the bayonet also has a matching serial number!

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I haven’t taken the latest rifle (my newest toy…the one I went to Big Bear to pick up today) out of the box since I came down off the mountain today, but I’ll probably play with it during the weekend and clean the cosmoline off of it.   I’m eager to see how it shoots, because the one I have above is amazing…it regularly shoots  1 1/2 inch groups at 50 yards with iron sights.   And I guess my enthusiasm is infectious….since I started playing with (and talking about) the rifle above, my friends have bought five Mosin-Nagants for themselves.   I probably ought to hit up Big 5 for a commission.

Cool stuff, indeed, and a fun two days for me (but then again, they’re all fun days these days).

So that’s it for now, folks.   Ride safe, shoot straight, and keep your powder dry, my friends!

 

Lane splitting…

17 April 2014
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It’s legal here in So Cal, and although it looks dangerous, when you’re on the bike it actually isn’t.    After my ride with my buddy Jim the other day, I took the KLR to Cal Poly for a late afternoon class.   I used to commute on a bike regularly (I don’t do that anymore; I mostly ride the bike for fun these days).   Anyway, I still had the video cam on my helmet, so here’s a video of my ride home…

I’ll admit, watching the video makes it look dangerous, but it really isn’t if you don’t get stupid. The time savings are real…when I was younger and I had a 40-mile commute, I used a motorcycle regularly. You can take a motorcycle in the car pool lane here in California, and even if there is no car pool lane, when traffic builds up you can split lanes. In my case, it turned an hour-long commute into a 30-minute ride.

Well, enough playing on the Internet…I’m on my way to the CSC plant in a bit.  Later, my friends…

 

Blue Devil versus Blue Angel

17 April 2014
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This one’s been around for a while, folks, but it’s one of my favorites and I thought you might enjoy it, too…

Fun times with two fun machines.  I love it!

 

Lake Isabella MC story online…

17 April 2014
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You may recall that I did a run through the Caliente-Bodfish Road (one of the world’s great motorcycle rides) up to Lake Isabella a few months ago.   That story ran in Motorcycle Classics magazine, and it’s now online.   You can read the online version here.   That location (and the Caliente-Bodfish Road) would make for a great CSC ride.   Any takers?

 

Wily Coyote gets the Hawk…

16 April 2014
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My friend Jim (aka Wily Coyote) changes motorcycles like you or I change underwear, and every time he gets a new bike, he tells me it’s the last one.   I know how that goes (and you probably do, too).

Jim’s latest acquisition is a restored/rebuilt/better-than-new 1988 Honda Hawk.   Amongst serious club racers and canyon carvers, the Hawk was the “go to” bike if you wanted a machine that really handled well back in the ’80s and ’90s, and stories of Hawk riders regularly smoking bikes that had 50 to 80 more horsepower up on the Crest (or at the track) are still common.    The Hawk’s role as the “real deal” handling bike was ultimately eclipsed by the SV 650 Suzuki, but those Hawks are still hot (and hot-handling) motorcycles.    There’s just something about a 650-sized bike that feels right for a performance machine.   Think Triumph Bonneville.  Or Honda Hawk.  Or Suzuki SV.   Or even my KLR.   It’s about ideal for a “do everything” bigger street bike.    That said, my KLR 650 mostly sits in the garage, and when I want a fun ride my CSC 150 nearly always gets the nod.  One of these days I’ll probably sell the KLR.  I don’t think I’ll ever sell the Baja Blaster.

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The Baja Blaster…I had to move it to get to the KLR for my ride with Jim and his new Hawk

All right, I’m rambling…back to the Honda Hawk.   Jim found a guy here in So Cal who specializes in bringing these bikes back to life and making them better than new, so he wrote the check.   I gotta tell you…Jim’s new bike is a good-looking motorcycle.    Jim had it painted in deep gloss black with gold lettering and powder-coated matching gold wheels, with new tires, new suspension, polished cases, and lots of detail work.   The bike is stunning.

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Jim’s ’88 Honda Hawk

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Another view…note the single-sided swingarm and the powder-coated gold wheels

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A close-up photo of the Hawk’s fuel tank

Jim came over to my place yesterday, we rolled over to Vince’s for a spaghetti lunch (Vince’s is an Inland Empire tradition…their spaghetti with meat sauce is the best I’ve ever had), and then we took a quick putt up to the Mt. Baldy Lodge to kick back and sip some iced tea.

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A classy ’59 or ’60 (not sure which) Chevy Brookwood wagon parked in front of Vince’s

It was fun day, and it had been a long time since I had my KLR out.  I really couldn’t keep up with Jim on the KLR, but it was fun trying.

I hadn’t run the KLR in a few months, so getting that beast started took a while (but once it started it ran just fine).    I sure wished the KLR started as easily as the CSC 150.   Sometimes I go a few weeks without riding, and the Baja Blaster never takes more than a single tap on the starter to start purring.

Anyway, I had the Midland video cam on my helmet from the CSC ride this past weekend, and well, you can guess where this story is going….

We had a fun day.   Truth be told, it’s more fun riding the CSC, but it was nice to let the KLR warm itself up for a bit.

That’s it for now, folks.   As always, there’s more coming, so stay tuned!

 

The CSC weekend putt…

15 April 2014
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Folks, here’s more good stuff from the CSC ride this past weekend.

We all met at the plant at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, and we had a nice turnout…Steve, Twin Peaks Steve, Bill, Duane, Bruce, and yours truly.    And I have to tell you…it was cold!   It was overcast, too (as in “it might rain cats and dogs any second”), but that wasn’t about to stop us.

Here’s a shot of Twin Peaks Steve and Bill at the plant before we left…you can tell these boys know they are going to have a good time!

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Twin Peaks Steve rides that black Bobber, and I am still convinced it’s one of the prettiest bikes we’ve ever built.   And Bill (he owns two CSC motorcycles), well, he was not about to be outdone.   Bill crafted this custom cooler on the back of his bike…

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When I first saw Bill’s creation, my mind jumped back to Bill Murar’s Lake Erie Loop CSC endurance bike.   I thought that keg was an auxiliary fuel tank.   I sure was surprised when Bill opened it!

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Bill, that is an amazing piece of craftsmanship, and for all you blog readers out there, no…we are not thinking of offering it in the CSC accessory catalog.   You’ll have to contact Bill directly if you want one for your bike!

We hit the road right as soon as everyone arrived at the plant, and we took Highway 39 into Azusa Canyon.    Steve led the group, and then he pulled over for a few seconds…

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I jumped into the lead spot after that stop, and I shot a bit of video with my trusty helmet-mounted Midland video camera…

Like I said, I was in the lead spot, and it’s why you don’t see any CSC motorcycles in front of me in the video above.

I sure like the way that Midland video camera works.  I now own both the Midland and the Go Pro video cams, and I like the Midland better.   It mounts on the side of my carbon fiber helmet, and it’s a lot easier to turn on and off.  It’s also a lot easier to know from the feel of the switch when it’s on.   The Go Pro, quite frankly, is a bit of a pain to operate when it’s on a helmet.   My good buddy Simon Gandolfi had the same problem with his when we rode the CSC motorcycles in Baja.   The Go Pro is a decent camera, but I think the Midland is better.

Anyway, back to the story…

Our next stop was Camp Williams along the East Fork Road for a cup of Joe.   It was cold, and that coffee hit the spot.   The guy that runs that place is an old Harley rider, and he always jazzes us when we stop in.   Sunday was no exception.   “What happened…was there an escape from the Old Folks Home?” he asked as we pulled into the parking lot.   We were all, as the saying goes, men of a certain age…

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We traded war stories over our coffees and hot chocolates, and then we were back on the road again.   Here’s another video of the boys charging up the hills…

I sure like being in the last guy in the formation.   It’s fun watching the bikes in front of me lean left, lean right, lean left again…well, you get the idea.   Even though it was cold, we were having a great time.

When we arrived at the crest (where Glendora Ridge Road starts), we stopped to talk to some of the other riders.   As always, and no matter what other folks were riding, the CSC motorcycles were the main attraction.    It’s a feeling I’ve never felt bad about…I enjoy riding something that other riders admire.

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And make no mistake…this spot is the spot to be on a Sunday morning up in the San Gabriels!   There were lots of other bikes there, but the CSC motorcycles were the center of attention…

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We hung out at this gathering spot for a while, talking to the other riders and to each other, taking pictures, and doing the kinds of things boys do when out for a motorcycle ride on a Sunday morning.   Good times, folks…there’s just nothing like riding a motorcycle in the mountains.   We sure are lucky having these kinds of roads right in our back yard.

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I got in one of my reflective moods while we were up there (reflective from a photography perspective, that is).   You saw one of these shots in an earlier blog entry, but I like it so much I’m going to include it (along with another) here once more…

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That’s Duane with me in the photo above…and here’s another with me and a couple of the guys reflected in Twin Peaks Steve’s Bobber…

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My good buddy Bruce had his magical shades on again, and I just had to get a selfie using Bruce as my mirror!

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After that, we rode Glendora Ridge Road into Mt. Baldy Village for a dynamite lunch at the Lodge.   More great conversation, another sampling of fine motorcycle road cuisine, and then it was back down the mountain as we headed for home.

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The sun was just starting to come out as we went home, and that, as they say, was a wrap.  Another great day and another great ride.

Folks, we know you’re having as much fun on your CSC motorcycles as we are on ours.    Keep those photos and stories of your rides coming, and we’ll publish them right here on the blog!

Ride safe, my friends…

 

Bill’s black-and-white cruiser…

15 April 2014
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Our good buddy Bill (who was with us on the company ride this weekend) told me about a black and white photo he shot of his CSC 150 that he really liked.  When he showed it to me I asked him to send it to us so that I could share it with you here on the blog…

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Nice work, Bill, and thanks for sharing your artistry with us.   That photo is awesome!

 

A note from Ralph…

14 April 2014
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I received a cool note and a photo from our good buddy Ralph this morning…

Checked in on the blog this morning. Looks like a “Thoroughbred” model is being considered/tested.

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Looks good!

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Thanks for sending that photo to us, Ralph.   The aft end of that Mustang is interesting…it looks something like a Harley Softail (except the shocks are out in the open instead of hidden beneath the engine).   It’s cool.  I believe it to be different than a stock Mustang Thoroughbred, which you can see here in one of the bikes from Steve’s collection of vintage Mustangs…

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The original Mustang Motor Products Corporation introduced the Thoroughbred in 1960.   It was a first for Mustang, as the Thoroughbred incorporated swingarm rear suspension, a dual seat, and an optional storage compartment under the seat.    Mustang’s Thoroughbred had the Stallion’s 4-speed Burman transmission.   The new Thoroughbred bumped up the engine’s output to 12.5 horsepower.

Several folks have already written to me asking about the bike you saw in the blog yesterday, noting its similarity to Mustang’s original Thoroughbred.   Here’s a better shot of our CSC prototype up on Glendora Ridge Road yesterday…

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Our prototype Thoroughbred II is something we’ve been playing around with for a bit.  Steve rode it instead of his usual ride (the Sarge) on our company ride.   The boss seemed eager for me to give it a try, so I did once we were up on the ridge…I shot some video, too, while we were up there…

It was cold and a bit wet up there yesterday and the T-2 (the Thoroughbred II) didn’t have a windshield like my Baja Blaster.  It was fast (lots more power than my 150cc bike) and the rear suspension felt good.    We haven’t finished evaluating the Thoroughbred II yet, and it’s not anything we’re going to be offering soon.   It’s just one of several projects we have in the skunk works, and Steve said it was okay to share it with you here on the blog.

More to come, folks, so stay tuned and ride safe!

 

A sneak preview….

13 April 2014
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We’ll have more on the blog in a few days, folks, but here’s quick peek at our ride today…

The video above shows the boys leaving Camp Williams after a stop for some coffee to warm up.  It was cold out there today!

I’ll have more video for you in a day or two, and here are a couple of photos as a sneak preview…

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I know you’ll want to know about our ride today and some of you with a penchant for detail might have noticed a thing or two in the photo above…but like I said….more to come!

Ride safe, and keep an eye on the blog!

 

Company ride this Sunday!

12 April 2014
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Yep, tomorrow!

Be at the plant at 9:00 a.m. with a full tank of gas, and we’re heading for the hills….bring an appetite, because we’re going to have lunch at the Mt. Baldy Lodge.

See you tomorrow…

 

 

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