Fireblade Fountains

I finally got the carbs sorted on the Fireblade project (sense of achievement!) and when I fired it up they felt very responsive… but then a giant geyser of oily water spewed out of the valve cover exhaust pipe and hit the ceiling (!).  Never seen that before.

Rather than repeat the fountain, I put a pipe on it, ran it into a container and videoed the weirdness…

(it’s a 360 video, you can move the mouse to look around – like at the oily water dripping off the ceiling)

So the fountain happened both times I ran it, and the stuff that came out looked like watery oil rather than oil with some water in it.  Next step:  drain the oil…

… which looks like water.  That’s not good, and it’s something I’ve never seen before.  Why on earth would anyone ever put water or coolant in an engine like that?



I’ve done head gaskets on cars before and I’m pretty familiar with the consequences of oil mixing with coolant.  It usually goes both ways (oil gets in the coolant, coolant gets in the oil, but the coolant looks brand new and the level is good.  When running there is no bubbling in the coolant overflow (usually a running engine will force gas and oil back into the coolant reservoir if there is a blown head gasket).  As amazing as this sounds, I think the idiot who owned this before me filled the engine with coolant instead of oil, but I really can’t understand why.  It’s either gross incompetence or he sold me a bike with a known blown engine, which is a pretty shitty thing to do.  Incompetent or nasty, not a great set of choices there.

Next up is actually putting oil in the engine and running it again.  I’ve got some used stuff out of the Tiger which is the right weight.  If it works, then the guy who owned this thing before me might be the dumbest human in history.  Once I’ve run the old synthetic out of the Tiger and confirmed everything works, I’ll drain it and put some new stuff in.


My first sports bike has been a bit more baffling than the XS1100 (air cooled, nothing weird there other than the ownership) and the Concours sports tourer which had been through hell, but was owned by a guy who knew what he was doing.


The muppet who owned this bike before me will have me going top to bottom on it before I get it out on the road – I can’t trust anything that was done to it.

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Rich Man Poor Man

I think three bikes would comfortably fit in the garage with room to work.  I’m hoping I can find an insurance deal that lets me run more than one bike without insurance doubling each time.  

If I were to go with three, these would be my poor man/middle class man/rich man choices:


Three of a kind: the low budget option

Keep the current ’07 Kawasaki Ninja 650r. I’ve already cleaned it up and it’s got tons of life left in it.  It’s the obvious choice for a sport/track day bike.  I’ve still got a lot to learn from it as far as sport riding goes.

This ’86 Kawasaki Concours caught my eye last summer.  It’s up for sale again on Kijiji.  For only two and a half grand I’d have a capable touring bike that would comfortably carry two up over long distances.  It has a lot of miles on it, but it looks like it has been meticulously maintained. If I could swing it, I’d get it.





I just stumbled across this ’02 KLR650 on Kijiji.  The price isn’t listed, but with any luck I could pick it up for about what the Concours above cost.  It’s fuggly, but if it would be a simple matter to strip it and repaint it.

I should be able to pick up both bikes for under five grand.  They all happen to be Kawasakis, three of a kind.


Total cost:  ~$5000

Shopping for favourites: the reasonable budget choices



I’d probably still hang on to the Ninja in this scenario, but I like the look of naked street bikes more than the fully faired sport bikes.  if I were to go for an athletic street bike I’d consider the FZ-09 from Yamaha.  It’s surprisingly affordable, super light, and looks great in Orange.  
~$10767




The touring option would get three wheel funky at this level.  I’d go for a Royal Enfield Classic 500 with a sidecar.  As a way to share riding with my son, it’s a fun way to putter around.  We’d have to get some vintage style helmets with googles.  ~$12000





The dual sport choice would be a new Kawasaki KLR650, specifically this very KLR.
~$8700

Total: ~$31500 (taxes included)
       or $20733 if I keep the Ninja


Big spender: the cost no-option choices

I keep hearing about how utterly awesome the Triumph Street Triple is, so if money weren’t an option this would be my naked/sport choice, the top-of-the-line R version.
~$13800
If nothing else the Triumph Configurator is fun to play with.



The Explorer below is an excellent two up bike, so it could do the job, but if cost is no problem I’d consider a Soviet style Ural sidecar outfit.  The Ural Gear-Up is an on-demand 2-wheel drive no-nonsense rig with classic military styling.  It could also handle off road duties when needed.

~$16553


For the dual sport option I’d be looking to Triumph again.  Either the Triumph Tiger 800XC or the big Triumph Tiger Explorer XC.  Since the big bike actually gets the same mileage as the little one, I think I’d go with the distance machine.  It’s big, but I’d train off road and ease into using it that way.  I’m a big guy, I’ll manage it.

~$22000

Total $52353 (taxes included)


You gotta love motorbikes, even the rich-man option that gets you three distinct imports costs less than a Volvo SUV.

1997 CBR900RR Parts, Cables and Hose Routing

Notes for next round of work on the Honda.  Doing it for myself so I can follow what I’m doing on the laptop in the garage, but might help out other ’90s Honda Fireblade CBR900 restorers too.


Missing tank mounting hardware:
BOLT, FLANGE (6X40) (missing bolts for front of gas tank)
COLLAR C6.3, MOUNTING


Throttle cable running under the right side of the centre triple fork

Vacuum routing – but not particularly helpful – air vent tubes probably connect to bottom of air cleaner box…

Upper and lower throttle cables are clear in this – they are over the handlebars now (wrong) – and like a burk, I put them together backwards, so you have to throttle off to throttle on – remove carb, remove cables, reroute and confirm on this before reattaching.

I tried a replacement LED in the neutral light – no joy – try reversing it?  Light receiving voltage when in neutral.  Confirm that?  Trace that  neutral switch wire?  

Double check choke cable – seems good the way I had it, but bike’s in a choke right now, so no movement of front wheel to check routing when the handlebars are turned.

LINKS:


Online Microfiche for parts:
https://www.hondapartsnation.com/oemparts/l/hon/50541057f870021c54bede5e/1997-cbr900rr-ac-parts


’96 Technical Review Document:
https://mototribu.com/constructeur/honda/1996/1000cbr/doc/revuetechnique_900rr.pdf


Sub Air Filter  Honda FILTER, SUB-AIR CLEANER Part # 17254-KAZ-000
https://www.amazon.ca/Honda-17254-KAZ-000-Air-Filter/dp/B00HPTLPEO
Looks to be a foam filter – might see if I can source an equivalent – take the plastic bit in an size a filter.
https://www.hondashadow.net/threads/sub-air-cleaner.300257/
https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/hondashadowacetourer/sub-air-cleaner-what-is-it-39-s-function-t11508.html
https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/atlas-briggs-stratton-lawn-mower-foam-air-filter-0607024p.html#spc





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80/20 split

2003: Faster, a good introduction
to MotoGP

Faster (2003)  is a fast paced documentary with fantastic inside access to MotoGP.  With long-form interviews with all the major names in the sport in the early 2000s, it offers you an accessible look at the sport.

I’ve been a Formula One fan since the early 1990s when I saw a rookie Michael Schumacher astonish in an inferior car.  His race in the rain in Spain with only one gear cemented me as a fan.  While I’ve always enjoyed the technology in F1 it’s the driving that really gets my attention.  I’d much rather watch a Senna or a Villeneuve than a Prost or pretty much any of the modern crop of scientists at the wheel.  I long for rain in a race not for accidents, but to see who can actually drive.

Faster showed me a sport where the human being is still the main element in creating speed.  At one point one of the many interviewees said, “in MotoGP the rider is 80% of the equation and the bike is 20%, in Formula 1 it’s the other way round.”

After watching the last couple of seasons of Formula 1 I’m tempted to agree.  Engineers practically drive the cars from the pits.  Given the top car any one of the drivers would win with it.  I’m no fan of Alonso, but he is a once in a generation talent, like Schumacher, or Senna, and he seldom lands anywhere on the grid except where his engineers place him.  I’d love to see F1 with no live telemetry or radio contact, no driver aids and more open engineering options, but it’ll never happen.  The F1 circus is on its way to Nascar – just a staged media event.

That 80/20 split is of much more interest to me as someone interested in how human beings and machines can combine into something magical.  I really have no interest in seeing how quickly robots can travel around a track, it’s the human expression through machinery that fascinates me.  It’s as apparent in comparing MotoGP to F1 as it is in driving a car or riding a bike on the road.

Maybe that’s the magic of this that I haven’t been able to articulate: motorcycling is complicated, challenging and offers you, the operator, a much more expressive means of interacting with your machine.

Hot Gear

After getting the basic gear and riding as soon as snow was off the road, I’m now wondering how the summer will go. I’ve been wearing jeans when I ride in to work, but they aren’t particularly comfortable, though they are cooler than the bike pants I got on sale.  Those pants, other than a zip up the side, are solid with no venting.  They’re great on a frosty April morning and they are nice and wind proof, but the thought of putting them on in a thirty-five degree summer day is daunting.  I didn’t even need the liner in them when it was 5°C, I can’t imagine when anyone would need that liner (riding in a snow storm?).

Now that I’m getting a sense of what sort of kit I’m in need off (I tend to be warm by nature, so cooler is always better) cooler gear is what I’m looking for.

I get the sense that the super touring pants (the kind you see on TV) offer a kind of cooling that my cheaper ones can only dream of.  I wish I could get my hands on a pair of the super pants and see just how good they are, but they are expensive and no local retailer in Southern Ontario seems to have any on shelves.  My only option to buy is online, sight unseen, and that makes me uneasy when you’re buying a pair of pants for upwards of three hundred dollars.

My ideal pants would have armor where you need it and lots of ventilation up and down the legs and in the seat.  They would also be a light colour so they reflect heat as well.  The Olympia pants (below) seem like a solid choice, but again, I’m only able to go off the description online, and that’s a lot of money to sink into a best guess.

I like the monochromatic Star Wars
Storm Trooper look
, but the jacket
adds a nice splash of colour…

I was in Toronto recently and stopped by Cycle World in Scarborough.  They actually had the Alpinestars S-MX 1 boots in white there, so I tried them on.  Nice, light weight, low cut boots that breathe well, but for some reason they are $40 more if I drive over to Scarborough to pick them up, so I didn’t.  At least I’ve tried them on and have a tactile idea of how they feel.  I’d have been happy to pick them up right then, if they weren’t so price inflated.

I’m still happy with the Joe Rocket jacket I got.  It fits well, has a removable liner (which I’ve had out for a month now).  With the liner in and a sweater on, I’m toasty and windproof.  With the liner out and the vents open, I need only get moving to cool off.

The Zox helmet I got is working well, though the wind noise is something I’ll address in my next helmet.  In the meantime, I’m loving the swing up face, the drop down sunscreen and the inside of the helmet is very comfortable.  For the money, I don’t think I could have gotten a better lid.

Having the right kit on does a couple of things for me.  It puts me in the mindset to ride, and makes me feel like I’m ready for it.  Windproof clothing is worth its weight in gold when you’re up at speed.  If you’ve never tried it, you’ll be amazed at what you’ve been missing.  Being comfortable while riding is an important part of having your head on straight and avoiding problems.  So many people tend to ignore the gear you need to ride well, which is a shame, because with the right stuff, you’re likely to get out and do it much more often.

My next purchase?  Then I hope I’m ready to ride in the heat… from CANADA’s MOTORCYCLE

Viking Biking: Motorbiking beyond The Wall

I’m day dreaming about another exotic ride:  Iceland!

On the left is Isafjordur!

Below is what it’s all about, vikings, mountains, ocean, wilderness!

How about a two week motorbike drive around Iceland, much of it off road on mountainous trails around fjords and past volcanoes?  Hot springs, aurora borealis, and some of the most remote, beautiful riding you can imagine.

Iceland has a ring road, but the smaller coastal roads offer an even more remote riding opportunity.  2300kms in 15 days.  Time to stop, take diversions and find the road less travelled.

Iceland!  2300kms around the island!
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Biking-Viking/58177814797

A bit of research uncovered Viking Biking in Reykjavik.  So we fly in to Keflavik International Airport and cab it to Reykjavik.  There at Viking Biking we get outfitted in true Long Way Round fashion on BMWs and hit the fjords.

Viking Biking suggests a 7 day circumnavigation, but I think I’d go for 15 days on a BMW F800GS, though going whole hog on Charlie and Ewan’s R1200GS would be a blast too.

Fjord roads!

Most parts of this trip look beyond epic, but with whole sections that trace fjords around rugged coast, this would be some truly unforgettable riding.  That’s without considering the stops at hot springs, volcanoes and the stunning wildlife in these remote locations.

Budget & Planning

17 day trip (one day coming in, one day coming out, 15 days on the road)
Depart:  August 20, arrive Aug 21

FLIGHT DETAILS
Tue. Aug. 20 (Arriving Aug. 21) Toronto, ON to Reykjavik, Iceland
Toronto (YYZ) to Boston (BOS)
Depart 4:25pm  Arrive 6:00pm
Layover: Boston (Logan Intl.) 3h 0m
Boston (BOS) to Reykjavik (KEF)
Depart 9:00pm  Arrive 6:00am +1 day
Duration: 5h 0m
Total trip time: 9h 35m | 4,608 km
  • 1 day in Reykjavik, check in at Viking Biking, prepare for early departure on the 22nd
  • Aug 22 early to Sept 5th (15 days) return bikes Sept 5th afternoon
  • Sept 5-6th morning: R&R in Reykjavik and fly home

Return: Sept 6th

FLIGHT DETAILS
Fri. Sep. 6 Reykjavik, Iceland to Toronto, ON
Reykjavik (KEF) to Boston (BOS)
Depart 10:30am  Arrive 12:05pm
Duration: 5h 35m
Layover: Boston (Logan Intl.) 2h 15m
Boston (BOS) to Toronto (YYZ)
Depart 2:20pm  Arrive 4:03pm
Duration: 1h 43m
Total trip time: 9h 33m | 4,608 km

Bike Rental for 15 days: $2400
Airfare Toronto to Reykjavik: $1000 return
Hotels: $150/night for 16 nights, $2400

Sundry: $1400
TOTAL:  ~ $6900 solo (cheaper per person if travelling in a group with shared accommodation)

I think I’d have to do at least a bit of this dressed for Game of Thrones!

Motorcycle Social Media

Originally published on Tim’s Motorcycle Diaries in May of 2014:  http://tkmotorcyclediaries.blogspot.com/2014/05/motorcycle-social-media.html

The online motorcycle community is a beautiful thing.  I’ve been following a number of people on Tumblr and Pinterest as well as other social media platforms.  I’m a visual thinker, and being able to find images of bikes on these platforms really feeds my motorcycle aesthetic.  If you’re into motorcycle design and aesthetics, these are good places to find ideas:


Pinterest:  a online graphic pin-up tool designed to share images.  Nice because it focuses on the visual, also nice because it is predominantly female, so you get a different vibe out of it when it comes to motorbikes (less pin-up, more motorcycle as art).





Tumblr: a bit more rough and tumble but offers an immersive graphics format and a staggeringly wide range of images including some very specific sub cultures of biking.  If you’re into cafe racers, Tumblr doesn’t disappoint.

Want something really specific, like motorcycle anime?  Ok!  Tumblr is also heavy on the animated GIF, so you get a lot of motion in your visual soup.


Facebook:  Of course, you can find lots of motorcycle related material on Facebook too, I like it specifically for following motorcycle celebrities:

Think Nick Sanders is cool?  You can follow him across Asia live on Facebook (he’s doing it right now).  


Are you a fan of Austin Vince?  He’s well connected on Facebook where you can keep up with his latest work.

Think Guy Martin is the man?  His racing management team keeps you up with what he’s doing on big blue.

You can find all sorts of local companies on there too.  If I’m going to get advertised to on Facebook I’d rather it be by local companies that I’m actually likely to shop at.

Facebook is also a good place to find motorcycle media updates.  Why We Ride is a lovely film, but they didn’t stop there.  The Facebook site is a great place to find the latest in riding inspiration.


It might sound odd, but traditional media still plays a big role in connecting me to online media.  Bike Magazine connected me to Greasy Hands Preachers and Rider connected me to my favorite motorcycle author.  Between traditional and new media, we’re living in a motorcycle media renaissance, I hope you’re partaking.  It feeds all interests from the most general to the most mind-bogglingly specific.
















KDF: Kingfisher Digital Foundry

In my day job I’m a high school computer engineering teacher.  The subject is still relatively new and covers a ridiculous range of differing technologies, all lumped under ‘computer technology’ because they all have some vague connection to it.  While teaching it in class can be demanding, the upside is that in the decade I’ve been working away at it I’ve become familiar with technology well beyond my background in IT.  From electronics engineering to 3d modelling and 3d printing, I’ve had a front row seat to the evolution of digital technology as it rapidly expands and evolves in the 21st Century.

The other benefit of this front row seat is that I’ve gotten to work with some skilled teachers with diverse technical backgrounds.  From Jeff who was working in CAD and 3d industrial design when most people didn’t have a computer to Katy the engineer who was one of the only people in our school board who could get the first generation of 3d printers dependable enough to actually use in class, I know some very technically adept adults.

Then there are my graduates, who have gone off to work in fields ranging from robotics and industrial engineering to electronics, IT and computer science; I know years of very technically advanced young adults who bring a staggering array of expertise and intelligence to the table.

On this cold and rainy March Break Tuesday in the middle of the COVID-19 epidemic, I’m wondering how we could leverage all that expertise and create a niche product that could serve a number of different markets.

I recently found myself frustrated by a lack of parts for the late ’90s Honda Fireblade I was restoring.  Knowing that Katy has been using 3d printing to create prototypes in her class, including printing in flexible materials, I was wondering why no one has filled this gap as business proposition.  To replace one perished airbox rubber tube I would have had to pay to get four them shipped from a place in the UK at over €100; no one in North America had one.  I suspect Jeff could have made an accurate model in an hour and then Katy could have printed it in about 30 minutes.  We’d then have that model on hand if it was ever ordered again and could be filling individual orders for them in thirty minutes.  At $20 plus shipping for the part we’d be offering rare parts that meet specific needs for way less than the market is willing or able to at the moment.  For ten bucks more we could put initials or a symbol on a printed piece to satisfy the customizers.  Beyond the capital costs of getting the 3d printer needed, printing a part we had a model for is a quick and easy process and would only require maybe $5 in parts and power.

There are other angles to this besides micro-manufacturing old, out of production parts.  We could also create small batch bespoke parts for companies building prototypes.  By rapidly producing accurate, high tolerance parts, we’d also be creating a library of digital 3d model files that could also be part of the service. Those models could then go on be used in production.

Beyond the out-of-production parts market and assisting companies in with their prototyping needs, there is also the opportunity to pursue bespoke custom parts.  Within five minutes of the first time I saw 3d printed additive manufacturing technology, I started thinking about custom motorcycle fairings.  The default at the moment is to stamp out cheap copies of fairings, but it wouldn’t cost much more to digitally redesign unique 3d variants of fairings and sell those, it would just need a large format printer.  Variations in ducting for people wanting to fit a turbocharger?  No problem.  Want to get really crazy?  A dragon scale fairing for a Game of Thrones fan?  This is a 3d printed fairing with scales that have depth and texture.  It would take custom motorcycle design to the next level, especially with a sympathetic paint job on top.


As far as the technology needed to create our digital foundry, I’m partial to the Formlabs 3d printers because they look like something out of Terminator.  They also produce very high resolution models. Their new 3L large format printer comes close to being able to make detailed, high resolution models almost up to a cubic foot in size.


The process of additive manufacturing (3d printing) is surging forward.  It isn’t quite ready for the range of parts I have in mind, which would include being able to print 3d flexible parts that are fuel resistant, but this is more a chemical engineering bottleneck than anything else, and chemistry these days is rocketing ahead

I’m hoping that just as I’m ready to retire from teaching, micro-manufacturing will have caught up and I can retire right into another profession making locally developed and manufactured bespoke components in a micro-manufacturing facility of my own, Big Hero 6 style.

Front right is a holographic desktop and keyboard – not quite there yet, but I’ve got physical hardware that does the same job now.  The blue thing in the back right corner is a large format 3d printer – in the film he prints everything from carbon fibre armour to metal mechanical parts.  This kind of localized production will be the norm rather than the exception in the next couple of decades.  You can watch Big Hero 6 on Disney – I highly recommend it.

***


This isn’t the first time I’ve kicked around the idea of applying emerging digital technologies to mechanics and manufacturing:


Yesterday I was out in the garage using a Structure Sensor to 3d model my motorcycles, there are so many things we could do digitally with mechanical engineering and manufacturing:

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Voracious Reader: Canadian Motorcycle Magazines

With riding coming to an end in the Great White North I’m looking more closely at motorcycle media to sustain me through the long, dark cold.  Some magazines have already made the cut and are a sure thing when it comes to subscribing.  

The first one I found was Cycle Canada: a local, opinionated and well written magazine that has no interest in editorial-beige.  They tend toward the no-holds barred British writing approach.  I subscribe to both BIKE and Performance Bike for that approach (though PB has enough grammar problems that I sometimes find it difficult to take seriously).

Cycle Canada is a joy to read, it’s just hard to get a hold of.  I tried to renew my subscription in the summer and the publishing company couldn’t get their website to work, which happens.  I tried again weeks later and it still wasn’t working.  Being told to phone it in doesn’t cut it in 2014 (I don’t like giving credit card info over the phone).  You have to wonder what’s going to happen to a media company that can’t make basic internet functionality work in the 21st Century.

I ended up going through Roger’s Magazine subscription service in July in an attempt to get my mits on CC, it’s the end of October and I haven’t seen a magazine yet.  Cycle Canada?  Great magazine, but pretty hard to get your hands on.


The other Canadian magazine I’ve got a lock on is Motorcyle Mojo.  I think of it as the Canadian version of Rider Magazine (the only US magazine I’m subscribed to).  Excellent layouts and photography (which feel like an afterthought in CC), original travel pieces and knowledgeable editorials.  The writing isn’t as edgy as CC, but Motorcycle Mojo knows what it’s talking about and presents it well.  They also know how to run a website and communicate really well with their subscribers.



Two on the cusp are Inside Motorcycles and Canadian Biker Magazine.  I got both as a present, but I’m not sure if I’ll keep them going.  IM did an article this month on the Polaris Slingshot.  Apart from sounding like an advertisement, it also kept calling the three wheeler “unique”.  One of the first cars I ever rode in in England in the early 1970s was my grandmother’s three wheeler.  I suspect Morgan would dispute the gee-wiz uniqueness of the Slingshot as well.  You can’t be expected to know everything, but if you’re going to write on a vehicle, doing a little research would prevent you from calling the rehash of an idea that’s been around since the birth of motor vehicles, “a whole new class of vehicle.”  Lazy writing like that is what’ll stop me renewing that subscription.



At the same time Canadian Biker Magazine had an editorial by Robert Smith that not only demonstrated a deep and nuanced understanding of the history of three wheelers, but also accurately and incisively deconstructed why this type of vehicle can never let you experience flying in two dimensions like a motorcycle does.  This kind of knowledgeable and opinionated writing is what would keep me re-upping that subscription.

Riding an Iron Horse in The High Desert

Since missing the opportunity to ride in the desert last time I was in Arizona, I’m aiming for a day out on two wheels over this Christmas holiday.  Since the adventure bike I want isn’t available, I’m looking at a pavement orientated trip.  That doesn’t mean I’m suffering for choice in Arizona though.


Route 60 from Globe to Show Low has fantastic reviews and offers a winding way through the mountains.  The views are so spectacular that I won’t tire of seeing them twice.  You see different things riding the other way anyway.  The section of sweeping switchbacks on the way down to the bridge over Salt River look fantastic…

…though I hope I can keep the bike in my lane unlike Sparky in the streetview above.


Route 60 over Salt River looks special.

Phoenix to Superior on the edge of the mountains is about an hour, then it gets even better!

From Superior, AZ into the mountains it’s beautiful riding… easily a hundred miles of sweeping curves and glorious high desert scenery.  It’s only about an hour from AZRide on lightly trafficked, arrow straight roads to get to the good bits, and even there you’re in the desert surrounded by massive saguaro cactuses soaking up the heat.

Once into the mountains, the roads are interesting and the views astounding.

A nice thing about not doing a loop means that we’ll know when enough is enough and turn around.  I was knocking myself out in BC to make sure the bike was back on time.  It won’t be an issue on this out and back excursion.

I’m hoping to get the new Concours from AZride.com sometime between Dec 24th and the 30th for a foray into the high desert, hopefully on a weekday when the roads are quiet.  It’ll handle my son and I with ease while making mince meat of those twisty mountain roads.

The latest generation of my twenty year old Concours.  It looks like a rocket ship and is nuclear powered.  Hope it’s available!