Friday, April 17, 2015

Los Angeles (Thee Arrival)

Well here we are, finally, in the 'City of Angels'! We've been here three days now, stating with the Tuckers, and fucking about with the bikes... great as it's been, we're pretty keen to hit the road soon as. My bike's had a new fork seal and both Joe and I got new front tyres on. Malcom's really just put the luggage racks and new skid-plate on his and been waiting around for us. The tyres took a while cause we had to order 'em.

Got them on last night though and went for our first ride! Was pretty fucking nuts, trying to ride on the wrong side of the road and then going onto the freeway the first time! Shit, that did all our heads in a little I think. Malcolm's had trouble with his bike cutting out... seemingly randomly. Not good. He's worried (I am too!). We came home and Malcolm and Tucker pulled the carb off and cleaned it up and chucked Joe's spark plugs in it... we're about to go test ride it now.

Mine went good but had a funny rattle that's sorta bugging me... it sounds like the gear box to me, and Malcolm could hear it too when we were riding. Looked over the whole bike last night and can't see anything loose though. We're supposed to be heading for Joshua Tree today so I'll see how it goes I guess. I am one of those riders who is really bugged by 'noises' like this. Hmmm...

Joe's bike, the cheapest, supposedly crappiest, has actually turned out to be the best so far! He's had no problems at all, and I kinda dig the look of his. The Bumble Bee.

Darren arrived last night in the dark on his hired GS650. We were all kinda worried about him getting here from Long Beach in the dark as (just quietly) he only got his bloody license yesterday morning in NZ!!! But he's proved to be a man of means or a quick learner or something and he's doing it!

It's been really great staying with the Tuckers. They've totally taken us in, we've been well fed and their place is amazing. I've got an RV to myself! We've been driven around in a Hummer, taken out for Mexican, got plastered and ended up in their spa pool late at night. Not to mention all James' help with the bikes. Bloody brilliant!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Hesperia gets a new tank...

James has been a busy chap and the 'Hesperia' DR, my bike for this trip, now has it's new Ascerbis 5.3 gallon tank on (above). This will obviously get me a lot further between stops than the original 3.4 gallon one... as seen below:
I also reckon the bigger tank looks heaps better, and I'm looking forward to being able to see how much gas is in it simply by looking at it! I'd never heard of see-thru gas tanks until we started looking at these sorta bikes... I kinda dig them. Wonder if I could get one made up for the Triumph or the Norton? That'd be pretty fucking weird!?

James sent me some pics of his work... kinda wish I could be there doing this myself, but yeah we'll still have plenty to do and this'll save us time and get us on the road ASAP.

So that's the tank above, and below is the petcock plus an extra one we bought since for some reason they only come with a tap on one side???
Making sure the hole's the right size... glad James is doin' it by the book!
Both taps and mounting bits and pieces in place...

And, while the tank was off, James took it as an opportunity to ditch some unnecessary shit like the smog valve and the carbon canister (I remember my Thruxton had shit like this all over it when I got it!)...

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Arrowhead gets some TLC...

James has been doing a bit of work on the bikes prior to our arrival in LA (next week!!!) to save us some time when we get there. This is Malcolm's bike – 'Arrowhead' (named by where they came from so when we talk about them we know whose is whose, since they're all essentially the same kinda bike). This one had chunky dirt tyres and so they've been replaced with new Shinko on-road/off-road ones. James has also chucked a 42T rear sprocket on to make it a little more highway friendly!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Day in The Dirt 2015

Went to the annual Day in The Dirt at Ellesmere Speedway yesterday but it got rained out. We went last year and raced our bikes, but this year I didn't wanna risk getting hurt and not being able to go ride around the USA in 3 weeks! So I decided I'd go and film Joe and Bad racing instead. We got up early, drove all the way there, fucked about for a while, and then drive home. Pretty uneventful, but I wanted to try and do something with the footage because I'm still trying to suss out this Go Pro thang!? Filmed in glorious Shake-O-Vision... of course. (Soundtrack borrowed from the one and only Andre Williams – 'Bacon Fat', 1956)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Elusive Third Bike

Here then we have the third and final DR for our trip. James Tucker got this sorted for us in the weekend. He was slightly worried about it cause the guy selling it was some young punk, but hey it was cheap! And I'm pretty sure if SeƱor Tucker bought it it's gonna be ok cause methinks he has some pretty high standards? Higher than ours anyway!

This will be Joe's bike for the trip, I'm riding what James affectionately calls the 'Garage Queen', and Malcolm's on the dirty old dirtbike one. Apart from color they'll actually all look fairly similar once our mods, esp large tank on my one, have been done anyway. Here they all are together at James' place:

Pretty exciting seeing them sitting there waiting for us! Can't wait to hit the ground in LA and get to James and Colleen's place!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Our American Steeds (DR 650s... two down, one to go)

This USA/Baja trip is getting close and we have recently purchased two DR 650s via an agent of sorts in LA. A Mr James Tucker is our man on the ground over there, and he's been a real blessing in terms of getting our shit together for this trip. Funnily enough some guy I was emailing via Craigslist about buying his bike put me onto James, who I found through the ADVRider forum. It was kinda nerve-wrecking sending all our money to some guy we'd never met, but we'd checked his credentials (as much as you can from the other side of the world!) and he seemed legit! Actually he's more than legit, he's a god-send! He knows his DRs inside and out as him and his missus have a couple that they rode down to Argentina.

So yeah these are our first two bikes. The stock-standard white one will be getting a bigger 5.3 gallon desert tank, and we're looking at other bits and pieces now like luggage racks. I was keen to chuck an aftermarket muffler on mine, but just discovered the one I was looking at would have to be repacked fairly often given the type of riding we'll be doing, so fuck that!

Anyway the search is on for the third and final bike. All going well James Tucker will have our paperwork in hand when we get off the plane in LA! So excited I'm having trouble sleeping, it's like being a little kid again...

HFoS in Amsterdam!

Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum in Amsterdam is stocking/selling Head Full of Snakes! See their website here (and tell me what it says if you can read Dutch!?). If you're in this part of the world (and I know I've sent a few to Holland in the past) go get copies from them!

Also they interviewed me about the project. Interview is here.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Oliver Sacks 'On The Move'

Thinking about getting Oliver Sacks memoirs, 'On The Move: A Life' to read on our trip around USA/Baja? The blurb –

"When Oliver Sacks was twelve years old, a perceptive schoolmaster wrote in his report: “Sacks will go far, if he does not go too far.” It is now abundantly clear that Sacks has never stopped going. From its opening pages on his youthful obsession with motorcycles and speed, On the Move is infused with his restless energy. As he recounts his experiences as a young neurologist in the early 1960s, first in California, where he struggled with drug addiction and then in New York, where he discovered a long forgotten illness in the back wards of a chronic hospital, we see how his engagement with patients comes to define his life.

With unbridled honesty and humor, Sacks shows us that the same energy that drives his physical passions—weightlifting and swimming—also drives his cerebral passions. He writes about his love affairs, both romantic and intellectual; his guilt over leaving his family to come to America; his bond with his schizophrenic brother; and the writers and scientists — Thom Gunn, A.R. Luria, W.H. Auden, Gerald M. Edelman, Francis Crick — who influenced him. On the Move is the story of a brilliantly unconventional physician and writer — and of the man who has illuminated the many ways that the brain makes us human."

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Brit bikes doco

This is a really good 1hr BBC doco on British motorcycle culture. Really great to see something on motorcycles on the internet that is longer than 5 minutes, informative and watchable!

I was totally obsessed with the whole 50s/60s Rocker scene when as a teenager I got my first bike in the 1980s. Little did I know then that it (well cafe racers at least) would become such a big fad again now! It's nice to be reminded of what I liked about this stuff in the first place. I still think, despite being such easy hipster fodder, that the cafe racer is the ultimate motorcycle of the 20th century. Choppers get fucked!

Thanks Jimi for the link.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Article on 'Colors' magazine

Found this fairly informative write up on 'Colors Motorcycle Magazine' here today. It was a very short-lived (1970–71) thing and is really hard to find these days. I've cited this publication before in terms of precedents for Head Full Full of Snakes. In particular the use of color, the kind of dilettante compositional quality, but also the fact it was a very grass-roots publication that aimed to document something that wasn't going to be dealt with elsewhere, and was made by the people who it was also essentially aimed at... rather than a larger publishing company. It didn't last long but was, I believe, influential in 'Easyriders' being started, and obviously that became fairly huge (while turning into something quite different too, in my humble opinion!).

Thursday, January 29, 2015

USA and Mexico trip (part 1)

Started to make some loose plans last week for our upcoming ride around the West Coast of the USA, down into Baja and across to Mexico. Planning to document this trip and people we meet etc for the next issue of Head Full of Snakes. It may even end up being an 'American' issue (although haven't really talked to Stewy about that yet!)?

We're leaving in April, and while I'm planning to be away for 3 months the other lads (Malcolm, Joe, Darren) are doing a bit more than a month with me. We've been speculating about bikes for ages now. Originally I was thinking I'd buy something old, ride it round and bring it back. Then when these guys came on board we ended up thinking about getting newer more reliable bikes and riding a lot further. At that point we were thinking about newer Harley's, or even Hinckley Triumphs.  However we also started thinking about going to more and more remote places, and especially into deserts. This combined with my lack of funds (due to the fucking house sucking me dry!) has meant that lately we've been looking at 'big' dirt bikes.

The more we've been looking the more excited I'm getting about the prospects these bikes offer, even though it's obviously quite a shift from my original ideas for the trip. All my research seems to point to one bike – the Suzuki DR 650. Been checking heaps of forums etc, and where we'd been thinking about Honda XR650s originally, it sounds like the DRs are better for what we'll be doing in terms of on-road/off-road activity...

Something like this. There's a few already kitted out on CraigsList/Ebay, including this fucking awesome one here (below) with it's 8 gallon tank! ...
image 1

But it's a bit pricey for us at over $7k NZD! We'll picking up bikes in either LA or San Fran I guess so we're focusing our attention there in terms of buying. I've heard there can be problems for foreigners buying motor vehicles in the States, but apparently California has more lenient rules???

If there's anyone out there reading this who has any info at all that might help us on our way it'd be bloody awesome to hear from ya!? Info about buying bikes in Cali would be awesome, as would any info about great spots to ride on the West Coast, Baja, or Mexico. Again we're pretty keen to get off the beaten track where possible...

Will keep updates coming and will be documenting the trip to some extent on this blog I guess!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Death by Audio (Oliver Ackermann)

I was lucky enough to meet/visit this guy and get one of his pedals when I was in NYC in 2006. I think about him and his set-up now and then, so it was cool to see this short vid and be reminded that yes, yes he was pretty fucking choice.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Born Too Late 5

Born Too Late 5 is on real soon... 17th of Jan up in Auckland (actually just outside Auckland in a place called Kumeu). It's a fucking great show put on by some real top cunts and I've heard it may be the last one??? I dunno? Anyway I'm gonna be there and hopefully also gonna run a stall and sell some Head Full of Snakes mags. Been planning on riding up on the Norton, which is going great at the moment, but the bloody house renovations have me all fucked up, and I may end up just flying up to save the time. Regardless I'll be there, I'll have mags, and it'll be a great day out... see ya there.

More info here: BTL5 on Facebook

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Shakin' Evil Limbo Party (Introduction by Joe Wilson)

New band The Shakin' Evil Limbo Party playing our mate Joe Wilson's birthday party in the mountains last night...

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Hex Waves Halloween Show

I've been busy renovating our shitty old house lately and have barely touched a motorcycle. Have played a couple of shows though, one being this kick-ass Halloween party at the Henries warehouse. This is our newest song too, captured by our mate Warren on his phone or something? Thanks to Anna Dean for leaving her awesome multicolored spinning lightbulb behind!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Interview on Design Assembly

Here is an interview I just did for the folk at Design Assembly... in which I spill some beans about the whole Head Full of Snakes business...

(Photo: Self portrait of Stuart and me at the Ilam Press at about 2am in the morning while printing issue #3)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

New Norton Seat

Here – finally!!! – is the new seat for my Norton. This has been a long time coming. About 5 years ago now I bought another Commando seat off TradeMe with the intention of using the pan the make a slimmer version. Earlier this year I gave that seat pan to Marty Winders (who made the T150 breadbox tank fit my Thruxton) and he cut it down for me, welded new sides on, made up new brackets, and painted it. He did an amazing job and got it sitting just perfectly I reckon. I then shaped the foam using the old original stuff and passed it onto my secret upholsterer. I'd been thinking about using leather for this (still dunno if that's a good idea?) and he had some lying around so I went for it. I spec'd up the diamond pattern for him and within a week I had it back.

I was gonna take this bike to the Smash Palace Bike Show but a couple of things prevented that happening, and in the end I think it's good I didn't cause it's nowhere near 'done'. If you've been following this at all you'll know that this seat is actually supposed to go with the Hi-Rider tank I got out of India last year (which I mentioned here). I've been super busy lately and also Marty went to Philip Island Moto GP so the tank didn't get done in time for the show. I'm not at all worried though, cause I'm keen for it all to get done right. And the seat I can surely say I am fucking happy with! I'm really liking the rear end of the Norton now, especially when you sit on it – I love how low, tight, and skinny it all is, without being/looking overly customized. I had been worried that that long rear loop in the frame should have been cut off, but I'm actually strangely happy with the way it all looks now with the new tail light and seat.