New England Trials Clinic (NETA) Trails Cross training Clinic

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Chantal and I…stealing a lil kid’s bicycle?

Sometimes you just need to take a day off and get out of town. So, last Sunday me and some friends from NYC Vin Moto and The Miss-Fires loaded up the trucks and headed up to lovely, lush Connecticut and the Meridan Motorcycle Club….

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Me. ready to ride?

The destination? the New England Trials Clinic (NETA) Trails Cross training Clinic. These clinics are run entirely by volunteers and wholly for the love of the sport. Their theory? How could you NOT want to ride Trials after trying it out. so, the first time’s free kids!

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Kim looking like a pro?

What is Trials? 

Moto Trials (formerly “Observed Trials”) is now the pinnacle of off-road riding, as the riders tackle the most severe terrain capable of being conquered by any two wheeled machine. When someone looks at the obstacles before the riding starts, a frequent comment is a simple “No way!” A big plus for the spectators is that they can watch from just a few feet away as the riders attempt seemingly impossible obstacles. Trials competitions consist of “sections” that are physically defined by marker tape. These sections contain challenging features, both natural and artificial. They may include stream-beds, boulders, logs, and slopes. Tape markers identify different skill class levels for competition; the better the competitor, the more severe the obstacles will be in the corresponding class. A trail loop connects the sections for the event. A typical event will have 8 to 12 sections and the competitor must ride the loop and complete the sections three to five times. Riders cannot practice the sections but may inspect each section just before being judged (or observed) on their ride. Then, one at a time, the riders will enter a section on their motorcycle, as an observer scores the rider’s performance. Like golf, where the least amount of strokes on the course wins, trials are won by the person who touches their foot to the ground the least amount of times over the course of the event. The rider with the lowest score wins. The score goes to a maximum of 5 points for that section if they fail to reach the end gate in time or crash. Riding a section “clean” without footing is the ultimate goal of all riders (score of 0).

The Bikes
Trials motorcycles are very specialized. Years of development have produced a very lightweight (i.e. ~150lbs), very slender, extremely well balanced machine with a powerful 2 or 4 stroke engine. The bikes have high ground clearance, minimal fuel capacity and no seat, creating a highly maneuverable motorcycle capable of overcoming nearly any obstacle.

Competitions
There are many local clubs around the US that host events locally, with some putting on as many as 15 events per year. A listing of NETA’s clubs and events is provided under the “Events Tab” on our website. The United States National Series, governed for the AMA by the North American Trials Council (NATC), hosts the best riders of various classes in America, and consists of 6 to 12 events held in various parts of the country. There are a few select riders in the USA that have the skill to compete at the World Championship level and these riders compete for a spot on the American Trial des Nations Team. The Trial des Nations is held in various countries in the fall of each year, and is a nation vs. nation team competition.

Summing it up
While Trials can be a very challenging and dramatic sport, events by NETA’s local clubs have competition classes for riders of “all” abilities, from beginners on up. Of all the motorcycle sports, it is probably the most
“family-friendly”, and kids can enjoy healthy competition alongside their Moms and Dads and share in an activity that they love. Additionally, trials is easy on the environment. Because of the nature of the bikes and the competitions, environmental damage is minimal, and some clubs have riding areas that have been used for decades with little evidence of any damage to the environment. Trials is also viewed a safer alternative to other forms of motorcycle competition due the lightness of the bikes and the very low speeds (i.e. 1 to 4mph) involved when traversing sections. For this reason alone we continually see veteran enduro and motorcross riders switching to trials competition, and why we commonly to see riders as young as 6 and as old as 70 competing. Lastly, Trials riding also serves as a great cross-training tool for all types of riding such as enduro, endurocross, and motocross. This evidenced by the successfulness of our nation’s top endurocross, and motocross riders (Jeff Aaron, Cody Webb, David Knight, and Taddy Blazusiak) all of which are top trials riders.

Summary courtesy of NETA. READ MORE ABOUT TRIALS FROM THE NETA WEBSITE.

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Charles, Neta President

Though i’m sure they regretted ever inviting us first the first five minutes of the dingbat Miss-Fires girls trying to figure out how to mount a Trials bike with no seats…Charles and the staff were incredibly patient, and knowledgeable.
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Graduation photo

By the end of the clinic…just a few hours later (though it felt like days we were so hot, worn out and beat up), every single one of us could not only balance on the pegs, but manage the slow speed turns, wheelies and rock climbs. Pretty F’in cool for some city slicker motor bike riders!image2

Kim, counting points

After the clinic, and a bag lunch provided by Neta. Yea, they’re that awesome…They put us to work helping judge that days Trials competition. One of the reasons I got into Motorcycles so heavily and that they are now my life, is the community of it. Events like these are only possibly with volunteer support and we were more than happy to help out.

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how it should look.

The riders competing ranged in age from 8 to 80 and as with all moto sports, everyone is patient and supportive. Truly incredible to have been part of it, learn a new skill and challenge myself to be a better rider, risk taker and face my fears. God damn those rocks are scary when you’re staring them down from the pegs of a Gas Gas!

Corinna Mantlo

1962 Ford Ranchero, 1968 BSA 650, 1971 Yamaha AT1, 2014 Royal Enfield Continental GT

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Adventures in riding ice

15_0207_IceRacing_116APhoto by Ryan Handt Photography

Winter in New York is always hard for motorcyclists. As ice and snow cover the streets, we put our bikes in storage, and spend hours reminiscing about summer, longing for spring, and cursing the Instagram feeds of our friends in warmer climates. This year has been particularly long and hard, and so I decided to make the most of it and use every minute and dime I had repairing and sprucing up my two bikes, as well as learning something new!

I’ve done a little bit of flattrack, by way of American Supercamp a few years back, and last year on the track with the help of fellow Miss-Fire Kara (Check out that story HERE). Kara races with Five & Dime Racing and just split town to defend the #1 plate in her class (ead her story HERE). So this winter, my goal was a similar, but even crazier sounding sport, Ice Riding!

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drilling screws into tires for grip.

It took a few weeks of talking to friends, asking technical questions, and inquiring about secret locations, but after not too long, I’d found a schedule for races 3 hours away and hopped in the car with some buddy’s to check it out. In short, it was everything I’d hoped for, cold, crazy, and so much fun to watch.

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We had a great day, and that started the ball rolling. More friends popped up with advice, and even offered to take me up to a private track on a river upstate. So, after getting the best text ever (above), I ran on over to Works Engineering and we spent several nights eating pizza, drinking beer and drilling thousands of screws into knobby tires.

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Photo by Ryan Handt Photography

Bright and early the next morning, we packed up the trucks, and headed upstate. The track was cleared and waiting for us along with a fire pit to keep warm in between turns courtesy of our gracious hosts, a lovely couple who race motorcycles, including flattrack.

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Jason wailing around a turn. Photo by Ryan Handt Photography

It was great to watch everyone from the kids to the pros, find their way around the track. and I quickly came to understand the techniques that had been explained to me prior.

15_0207_IceRacing_036AOur host Scott. Photo by Ryan Handt Photography

On dirttrack (or flattrack), you accelerate down the straight-aways, then lean and slide he bike around the turns with your leg extended out and into the turn, and that arm pushing into the handlebars, while your outside arm is raised high, and that leg is on the pegs and pushing against the tank. Looking all the while far down the track. That lesson of looking where I want the bike to go and it will go there, is something I originally learned riding horses years ago and it’s still one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned in regards to motorcycling, and I use it every day.

15_0207_IceRacing_087AMe. Photo by Ryan Handt Photography

With the addition of the screws into the tires, the amount of grip is surprising. I had envisioned sliding all over slick ice, as if I was ice skating in dress shoes but in fact, The bike felt completely in control, and powered through the ice with grace and stability. Getting it to slide was indeed very similar to conditions of a dirttrack and after only a few turns, though I was slow and wobbly, I was starting to get it!

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Me. Photo By Miss-Fire Erika

Being new to not just ice riding, but motorcycle as off-road sport in general, gear was daunting. I did a bunch of research and found that it’s very similar to motocross, with some cold weather additions. You want to be warm, protected, and yet still able to have a full range of motion. I also found that an open MX helmet and Goggle combo was necessary as a full face helmet with flip down shield was prone to fogging badly.

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Photo by Ryan Handt Photography

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Jeanette. Photo by Ryan Handt Photography

Jeanette (above) riding her first day on ice. She got her foot down on the very next lap!15_0207_IceRacing_080AErik showing Henry the track. Photo by Ryan Handt Photography

All in all, an amazing day spent with friends learning a new skill and challenging myself with every turn on the track, and the only think that’s almost made me wish winter will last just a little longer…ALMOST.

Corinna Mantlo

1968 BSA Lightning 650, 1971 Yamaha At1 125, 1962 Ford Ranchero

GO FAST, TURN LEFT!!

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WTF is Flat track motorcycle racing, and Why the F do i do it??

Flat track racing is about 100 years old. It started with motorcycles pulling bicycles (fixed gear, of course) onto an oval wooden track for velodrome races. When the bicycles were up to speed, the motorcycle would pull off, and the race would begin. That evolved into the team’s motorcycles racing around the track, also called board tracking. As the motorcycles got larger, heavier, and faster they moved onto the dirt oval. Thus, flat tracking was born. Bicyclist Following Motorcyclist    1910  

 Photo credit: Overwood and Overwood       Courtesy The Selvedge Yard boardtrack Date Unknown

Motorcycle Board tracking 4f83c508a9b9b9dc7ee2b71a31d9d4ff 1950’s  

Early dirt track racing. Notice the steel shoe so one doesn’t rip ones leg off. CS5008 1970’s  Crazy nuts on motorcycles

In the 1960’s, they (the race oraganizers) decided to require a rear brake on the new motorcycles. Again, the product of the bikes getting bigger and faster. By the 70’s, bikes were reaching speeds well over 100 mphs on the one-mile tracks.

Now that you know what flat track is. Im going to try and break down my story and why I do this insane sport.

To make a long story short, i met this guy, Jeff Davis, while working as a bicycle messenger in Boston in 1996. He was selling bicycles for extra cash while working as a surveyor. He was a crazy nutball with crazy ideas. I needed a wheel. He had a wheel. We became good buddies. I retired from the bike gig. He retired forever to western, MA. But we still made an effort to hang out, kick around in his barn, and throw back a few beers once in a while.

One day, about 9 years ago he called and said, “Hey, do you want to go for a road trip down South and see some vintage flat track races? I bought this skeleton bare Volvo station wagon. Just have to fix the brakes, but I’m sure we’ll get there.” I probably had about 50 illegal miles under my belt on a borrowed motorcycle, but i was into this motorcycle thing, so why not? Going South in late February? Yes!

After a day or so of driving, and a dangerous brake situation in Connecticut, we finally got to a track in some po-dunk town in E.B.F. cow country. It sounds so trite, but i was immediately enthralled with. IT. ALL. The sound, the speed, the leather suits, the dirt (i’m a gardener. i love dirt), being in the middle of nowhere, the people, the stories, and…the crashes. Spectacular, all of it.

About a year later Jeff calls me up and says he bought some flat track bikes, a couple racing leathers, a couple steel shoes, and that we should have at it. Well Hell’s Yes!! Going from bike messengering to gardening and farming was missing that Do or Die element, know what i mean?

We practiced about 3-5 times a year, for about 3 years, with a couple of races thrown in here and there. Our home track was mainly a small, 1/5 track in Winchendon, Mass. At this point i was racing what we dubbed the Dung Beetle. A 1980 Honda 175. Let me tell you, at first it was a bit of an ego-bruiser to be racing in the 175cc class against 10 and 12 year old kids, but i soon realized that kids were fierce competition! No fear! They pushed me to do better, because, duh, who wants to lose to a 12 year old kid?!  I just accepted that this was the way it was going to be for a while and just went with the flow. I started high-fiving and knuckle bumping the kids before the races. We’d talk smack to each other. I’d say hello to the parents. It was all great fun. Which is what the goal still is today. 1798871_10152059927659608_484285421_n   The Dung Beetle

I got my first taste of real racing at an indoor track in Windsor, Conn. I still sucked, but figured i had to break my cherry racing with the “big boys” at some point. I signed up for the Open Vintage class. I didn’t know what i was in for! I lined up at staging with everything from 350 Hondas to 750 Triumphs. Shaking and clueless even to the fact of what flag meant what, I rolled to the start. Well, after 3 re-starts because of crashes (scary as hell track…now closed) I was out there going left. I saw a blue flag go up. What? Keep going. Huge motorcycles whizzing past me a foot or two away. More blue flag. Huh? Then a black flag. Finally I looked at the flag guy and he was waving me off the track. Now I know the blue flag means ” You are a moving hazard. Get off the track immediately”. And the black flag means “Disqualified”. O.K. That sucked. Live and learn??

Two years later I moved to NYC. Jeff and I had met a guy at a race in upstate NY who lived in NYC. Mr. Van Asher. He gave me a card and said that when I moved, to give the guy on the card a call. Well, it was the # for Sixth Street Racing. Hugh Mackie’s name on it. I went down there within the month of moving here. I walked in, introduced myself, told him what my story was. By the end of that afternoon he told me that I could park my bike there for free. But I had better make good on my promise to go flat tracking on the weekends, and not be full of hot air like a lot of the other fellas. Nice guy, huh?! From there, I met my first NYC family. They watched, gave me tips, supported me, and otherwise generally became my closest friends. Three years ago, Jeff and I decided to race the AMA Vintage Dirt Track Grand National Championship circuit. It’s a points race, with 13-15 rounds of racing at different tracks. _20150226_005432Hugh, me, Jeff, Dennis, Carol, Alan, Brian and Fumi Astor, Florida

Fast forward to present day. I have the #1 plate in the 250 brakeless class. IMG_20150226_145217Did I mention i have the #1 plate?!

Through racing the circuit, I have amassed the most kind, interesting, supportive amazing flat track extended family. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to meet and race against the old pros. OH, that’s DAVE ALDANA pitted across from us!! oh HI MERT LAWWILL! And I can’t forget George Wills! I get to travel and race halfway across America from Indiana to Florida. I have my own leather suit! I see hundreds of amazing vintage motorcycles. A lot of them immaculately restored. I have fans! So many of the wives of the racers and spectators make a point to come over and say how well i did and that they were cheering me on, how much they appreciate seeing a woman out there, and that i am an inspiration to them and their daughters. My heart breaks a little every time this happens. And most importantly, i still get to have some serious hang time with Jeff.

By now you’d think I’d be cool as a cucumber as i slide my ass onto the seat. Nope. And as i get ready for my race, my hands start shaking as i put on my gloves. On the track I beg my brain not to listen to itself when i’m screaming into a corner with no brakes. Because honestly, you’re doing something that defies human logic and natural reaction. Push the bike towards the ground? What??!

I do this sport because i am in love with it. It never gets old. It puts the pep back in my step.  It feels empowering. Gives me butterflies in my stomach. Brings me sleepless nights. It creates this energy within me that is at once draining and renewing. It challenges me. NO GUTS NO GLORY! Sometimes Im totally blissful. Then pissed as hell, and full circle to bliss again.  I’m going to come right out and say that it’s an addiction. A big money sucking, crazy, hell of a ride that i can’t seem to get off of.

I leave for the first 3 rounds of the circuit in 5 days. Wish me luck, ladies. This season I have some tough competition. But, until the season is over…….I still have the #1 plate!! Yeeeee-Hawwwwwww! Also, I want to give a GINORMOUS THANK YOU to my fellow Miss-Fires, whose camaraderie and support have been in no short supply. You babes are amazing.

If you’re wondering about what the hell is going through my head when im on the track racing with no brakes:

Things that go through my head while on the track:

“Who the hell do you think you are, out here doing this sh*t?? You don’t even have your motorcycle license!”

“This God damned throttle better shut off when i let go..”

“Don’t crash now, because you don’t have a mother f’n office job, bitch!”

“Do it for the ladies! We can do it! Wait, where are the ladies?I love Shayna Texter, she’s so great…”

“If youre not screaming in your helmet,  you’re not going fast enough! (on repeat)”

“JESUS FUCKING CHRIST (on repeat when other said mantra isn’t on repeat)”

“Death or Glory” -The Clash “F*ucking hardtail!”

“Go faster, you whore!!!”

“Maybe this year I’ll finally go to Supercamp”

“If someone falls in front of me, im going to beat them when i get off the track”

“This frame better not break. Again.”

“Is my leg on fire?”

“Shut the fuck up, Kara!”.

Apparently a little self-degredation, anger,  and a lot of sailor mouth do it for me.

Track Life 

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My steed   1965 250 BSA/Triumph brakeless hardtail

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Helping Jeff put his leathers on. You want leathers? We got leathers.

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250 Ironman (brakeless) (Ironwoman?!)

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Blue Ridge Mountains, W.V. On the way to Savannah

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 View going into turn #3 Volusia Speedway, FL

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George Wills, Mike Metzler, and Fumi in staging

for  500cc-750cc Ironman brakeless

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SHAYNA TEXTER!!! She’s awesome. My AMA Pro Flat Track Hero One of two women competing on the Pro level

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Hugh wheeling out the bikes at 6th St. after Hurricane Sandy. 

Bikes were safe, but he lost almost everything in the basement.

Sixth Street Racing  NYC

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On my way to Blackrock Speedway Dundee, NY 

with a loner bike from Hugh, and World’s greatest rockstar parking

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The first of what would be seven frame welds over 3 years. 

5 on the track welds, and 2 off track.

It always blows my mind when  someone steps up to help out another racer.

True Sportsmanship.

Wasseon, Ohio  Vintage Days

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Out with old frame, in with the New Sonic Weld frame for the 2015 season

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First day with the 250cc OVRP 1/4 mi.

Cuddebackville, NY

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Jeff keeping it sexy, and Billy on his 1959 Harley flat tracker 

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It doesn’t get any better than days like this.

Tar Heel, North Carolina

IMG_20120310_161538 Sixth Street pit/social club

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The time I rode the 500 and got to race with the 6th St. guys

Lebannon Valley Race Parkway 1/2 mi., NY

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Strangest thing ive seen at the track. Ever.

Well, beside Marty asking someone to 

hold his teeth before he went out on the track

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Post-racing wind down. 

Daytona Beach, FL.

Practice at Oglethorpe Speedway 1/2 mi. Savannah, Georgia. Not me. But filmed by me. Hard packed red clay, considered one of the fastest tracks around. HIT THE PICTURE, IT’S A VIDEO!!!!

“The road goes on forever, and the party never ends”- J.D.

Kara

1971 500cc Triumph Daytona T100R

1965 250cc BSA/Triumph hardtail brakeless race bike   .

Some thoughts on motorcycling and being a female rider

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 2.55.40 PMFeatured Rider – Corinna

We know theres a wide diversity of riders out there. Today we get to interview someone who is quite well known in the world of vintage bikes and was even featured in a book “ My Cool Motorcycle. “ It’s not very often that we get to interview someone with this much insight and knowledge about a variety of bikes. Her name is Corinna and rides in the busiest city in the USA- New York City. She also modifies and makes custom seats for bikes. She also is a part of a female motorcycle group called the missfires- https://themissfires.com/. We love that she isn’t the typical Viking Bags cruiser rider either! Here’s our interview with her.

10177459 10152166146119608 6722476976868115899 n Featured Rider   Corinna 1. How long have you been riding?

I’ve been riding off and on since 2001 but seriously for the last 5 years.

2. How many bikes have you owned?

I’ve had a 1982 honda rebel, 1976 Triumph Bonneville, 1973 Triumph Tiger 750, 1978 Yamaha SR500, and I currently have 1971 Yamaha AT1 125, 1971 BSA Victor 250, 1968 BSA Lightning 650/Thunderbolt 650 hot rod.

3. What is your current bike?( and which was your favorite? Why? Any bike in particular that you DISLIKE? )

Of the 3 bikes I currently own, I love love them all for their own beauties. the yamaha at1 because a tiny dual purpose dirt/street bike is a blast to ride in NYC and is a perfect get around bike. The BSA Victor 250 I bought to ride and race off road and it’s been a great vintage bike to learn on, though from having it i learned the reasons I don’t love it for myself…too heavy, too finicky and so with love it’ll soon go to a new home and I’ll find something more suited to me in the woods. The BSA 650 hot rod is truly my current love as I’ve put a ton of work into it to make it fast and mean and soon it’ll be finished and gorgeous to match.

4. What made you want to ride a bike? Have you made any long distance trips with it yet? Do you have any planned?

I ride old bikes and drive old cars because of my love of classic film. it’s buster keaton, marlon brando, peter fonda and steve mcqueen that gave me the itch for the open road and because of I’ve always had a passion for vintage aesthetics (and everything), owning, riding and subsequently maintaining classics ha always been the way for me. 

I haven’t yet done a truly long distance ride though I hope to go cross country next spring, among other long distance plans.

5. Would you ride a different type of bike, i.e. Cruiser if you have a sport bike or sport bike if you have a cruiser.

Different for me would be modern. I very much want to own a modern bike to experience becoming truly a better rider on long trips as i’ve always had to battle unreliability and unforeseen issues with the vintage bikes.

6. Whats your dream bike and or next bike? Do you enjoy any vintage bikes like café racers and restoration?

Vintage bikes and proper cafe racers (performance modified…not just clip ons and slick paint) are most definitely my love. taking a stock bike that was probably bought on the cheap and finding ways to make it better and faster and then thrashing the hell out of it is something I aspire to do well. For me though, as I work around the clock making perfectly custom seats for gorgeous bikes and hot rods that other people build, I am simply aspiring to own a finished perfect classic that performs. Dream bikes at the moment are the italians. I dream of a Guzzi.

7. What type of rider do you think you are? (Aggressive, conservative, Point A – B )

I’m a “conscious aggressive” rider. I like to push it but on my rattly old brit bike, i’m aware of my drum brakes, etc. I absolutely live for the ride, not the getting from point A to B.

8. What made you want to ride and commit to the motorcycle lifestyle? Any regrets?

I don’t now really. I loved the peace and alone-ness you find inside a helmet, vulnerable and exposed on the rode. Getting past the fear of death and finding that peace and happiness is a feeling only a rider understand i think. You are responsible for every move you make and it’s implications can be deadly. But, even in cold and rain ad close calls….I always have a smile on my face while i ride…which, glancing over at a sour face inside a heated car and realizing you don’t envy them for even a second is truly freedom.

9. What advice do you wish you knew, when you first started out? Any other pieces of wisdom?

when i say i’ve been riding since 2001 but only the last 5 years seriously, that is indeed because of the advice i wish i’d been able to tale and now give others on a daily basis. 

-1. buy a reliable bike. i’ve never had money to buy new, but buy something that runs in your price range. it will allow you to learn how to ride…not wrench, but just ride.
-2. don’t buy something small. you’ll outgrow it fast. the weight of a bike isn’t in the CI of the engine. riding a honda S90 and trying to keep up with the experienced riders on modern or larger bikes will NOT make you a better or more confident rider. the same goes for not riding mopeds or scooters as a way to ‘build up’ to a motorcycle.
-3. surround yourself with motorcycle friends. community is the key to succeeding on two wheels. Joining a vintage club 5 years ago is what made me a good rider and a happy person. Now my all womens rider group, The Miss-Fires gives me riding partners, support, confidence and inspiration to be a better rider every day.

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10. Regarding those who don’t practice ATGATT, how do you feel about them? Do you encourage it?

I am in no way the poster child for ATGATT but i’m getting better every day. It’s unfortunately a lesson everyone needs to learn for themselves. going down sucks and even when it’s a minor down, you can do major damage. slow speed spills’ll take the skin off your hands. what’s the fix, gloves? what’s the benefit? just try limping a perfectly working bike home 10 miles with a bloody, throbbing hand wrapped in a greasy rag that you have to force yourself to twist the throttle with. Just ask me how i know?

As a woman, i’m thrilled that as apposed to 13 years ago,. gear is getting better. more fitted to our curves and sexier in style. no, pink camo doesn’t fit into my 1950’s rocker aesthetic.

The short on ATGATT is once you commit to it, it’s really not an issue. a full face helmet is damn comfy on a windy highway, and i’m blessed to ride with a pack of gorgeous girls who make it look so damn good…they make the guys in t-shirts look a bit silly. I am trying every day to build the perfect ATGATT wardrobe that will protect me and inspire everyone to gear up and look good doing it.

11. When do you think you’ll stop riding? Anytime soon?

never.

12. We know it’s a really painful topic to revisit, but have you ever gone down?

Yes, but never majorly. it’s inevitable and i think about it every day. I simply do the best I can by trying to always be responsible and present when i hop on a bike. it goes without saying that riding drunk or distracted, under geared or underprepared will only add to the possibility of a very bad day. so, while we can’t control bad drivers or bad roads, we can at least go out each day prepared for the worst and planning for the best. oh, and always have health insurance.

13. Last and not least, as a fun question- is there anything else you’d still like to do on a bike? Like a riders bucket list.

My bucket list is probably longer than my life will be. I simply want to do everything. ride as many miles of road and dirt as I can find. become better at trails and TT. Try my hand at road racing. ride in other countries. Build a chopper. Do everything on a motorcycle I can because it’s always an adventure and everything new you learn on bikes goes back to making you a better rider. And lets face it, there isn’t a moment on a motorcycle that is ever truly bad.

Corinna 3 Featured Rider   Corinna Corinna Mantlo

1968 BSA Lightning 650, 1971 Yamaha At1 125, 1962 Ford Ranchero

 

 

 

Strange Days 4

This past weekend a bunch of The Miss-Fires rallied with some of our favorite fellas to head out to Strange Days Motorcycle show/meet-up/camp-out/live music festival/swap meet in Vernon, NJ.  It was Brandon’s (Death or Victory) first ride since his unfortunate wreck 16 weeks ago to the day – a wreck that left him with a broken femur and a totaled bike.   We all met up at his garage and waited while he did some last minute adjustments to his “new” 1985 Harley FXR.

Brandon fixes up his new FXR

Photo by Rich Gone

Assortment of bikes

Photo by Rich Gone

Photo by Suzanne

The crew

Photo by Rich Gone

We hit the road and ran directly into some pretty rough Manhattan traffic.  We did our best to stick together and made it though the Holland Tunnel with everyone except for our girl Rachael and her friend (never got his name!)   It was a hot and humid ride so we took a quick break to gas up and hydrate before navigating some fun scenic back roads of New Jersey.

Photo by Suzanne

It was a great ride until we turned a corner and basically ran directly into a scary situation.  We had found Rachael and her friend, but under the worst circumstances.  She had taken a turn a tad too wide and wound up in the woods off the side of the road.  Aside from being a bit shaken and muddy, she was FINE (huge miracle).  Her Sportster, on the other hand, was a bit dinged up.  She lost her plate and her clutch lever.  We all hung around while John, Scott, Brandon and some of the rest of the crew worked on rigging her lever well enough so that she could ride it to a nearby dealership to have it fixed.

Photo by Suzanne

Photo by Rich Gone

We hit the road and headed to our first destination, the Chatterbox Drive-In Diner.  We just happened to roll in during their weekly car show.  The “mayor” of the car show wasn’t too thrilled that our bikes were taking up their precious parking spaces, so we ate and drank our rootbeer floats as quickly as possible and got the hell out of there before we overstayed our welcome.

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Photo by Rich Gone

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Photo by Rich Gone

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Photo by Rich Gone

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Photo by Rich Gone

Photo by Lynda Lucas

At this point a few of us who needed to get back to the city (my dog has a small bladder) broke off and took the scenic route back – through Bear Mountain.

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Photo by Suzanne

The rest of the crew – I’d say at least 20 people – made it to Strange Days and partied into the night.

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Photo by Rich Gone

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Photo by Rich Gone

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Photo by Rachael Becker

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Photo by Leslie Padoll

Kristen Reed 2

Photo by Kristen Reed

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Photo by Rachael Becker

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Photo by Rachael Becker

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Photo by Kristen Reed

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Photo by Rich Gone

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Photo by Rich Gone

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Photo by Rich Gone

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Photo by Rich Gone

Let’s do it again for the Gypsy Run!  Save the date, September 12-14…Be there!

Harley Davidson: Project Live Wire

 

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Some of The Miss-Fires that attended the Project Live Wire unveiling party at Harley Davidson NYC. Leeft to right: Rachael, Corinna, Suzanne, Valerie, Robyn, Melissa, and Shillae.

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Recently, several members of The Miss-Fires were invited to be among the first to view and ride the first HD built prototype electric motorcycle, Project Live Wire. We attended the party at their new, show room store in Soho, where we were able to try the bike out on a stationary rig that allowed you to feel the bikes 0-60 in under 4 second potential. It was a great night of wine and discussion about the future of motorcycling with the men and women behind the concept bike. It left us all itching to get home, rest up and head back over the next day to try the bikes out on a street test ride. Here are 4 very different riders thoughts on Project Live Wire…

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Heidi Hackemer

You know how everyone is running around talking about “the future”? This watch is the future or this phone is the future or this stupid dating app is the future. I work with a lot of tech companies so I hear this shit a lot. So when this bike came around, I was definitely curious, but I also was internally rolling my eyes a bit at the “future” hype. I love Harley, but feared that the brand was buying into it’s own bullshit with this talk.

But despite my future hype jadedness, I WAS really looking forward to getting on this bike. I’m a Wisconsin native and grew up about an hour away from Harley headquarters. People from home bleed Harley. It’s religion. And when it came time to get my proper bike, even though I flirted with other makes, at the end of the day there really was no question for me. It was always going to be a Harley. I ride a 48 Sportster and I’m really in love with my bike. She’s a rumbling brute and I love being a part of the Harley gang.

So I was psyched to get on it and hoping that it was as futuristic as they were saying, as I’m always rooting for Harley to win.

I got on the night my test ride at the party and my first reaction to the bike was shock at how light it felt. I was tipping that thing pretty hard side to side and I felt like I was playing with a toy.

The next day was the test ride. I have to admit, it felt a little odd to hop on a Harley, hit the power button and essentially hear nothing. I always, regardless if I’m just going on a short trip, love that moment when I start my bike and it roars to life. It always feels like it’s time to play. So to see a touch-screen light up instead was a bit odd, but also kinda charming in a weird way.

I’m sure the other girls can evaluate the ride of the bike better as they’re way more experienced, but my short take on the specific handling is that it was really easy to manipulate and handled NYC bumps and bangs well. Also, the jump in acceleration was really nice. I felt like had I had the chance to open it up more I could have really gone.

The negatives? The braking is odd, so fast and absolute. I’m sure I would get used to how to work it, but the first time got some speed and then slowed down I felt like I was going to go over the handlebars. Missfire over! Oh my god I would have never lived that down. Ha!

I also do worry about the lack of sound. The sound that it makes is really cool – I felt like I was in Star Wars. But, as we all say, a loud bike is a safe bike and I definitely use my engine as a signal, especially in the city. This bike doesn’t have that sound and you can’t rev it to get some stupid driver or pedestrian who is texting to wake up. That worries me.

Finally, I’d love to Harley up the look a bit. I think they went more plastics in the body because the battery is heavy, but personally I’d like to be able to grunge, matte and/or blackout the bike.

My overall experience, however is this: you know when you’re going on a long ride and you get up into your high gears, sit back and get into the zone? Where you feel like you’re floating? This bike felt like that even at ten miles an hour. It feels otherworldly, like you’re on a cloud. That sense of float left such an impression on me. I wanted to ride it for an hour to see if the sensation held.

Overall, I think this is a great step forward for the brand. This bike isn’t competing with my 48 anytime soon. It’s just a different bike. And that’s totally cool.

Looking at it through my urban lens, I think there’s so much potential with this bike. I believe the charging infrastructure will exist in the cities, it’s light and easy to handle so men and women can get on board and I hope that the eventual price point gets it to mass accessibility.

When you consider that 75% of the world’s population is going to be urban by 2025, and cities are going to be crowded and difficult to transverse (check out the traffic issues in Sao Paulo or the public transport issues in Tokyo for a glimpse of that future), motorcycling seems to be a really smart transportation option of the future. And to think that Harley is making something that is environmentally friendly, city friendly, gender friendly… well, it makes this little Wisconsin girl proud.
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Melissa Diaz

I want one now! Loved riding the Harley Davidson LiveWire! The Future is here! Amazing piece of art and technology!

Just got to do some single block laps dreaming of being on the West Side Highway, but I’ll definitely take it on being allowed to ride a $200k prototype! Really crazy having no clutch and being in “drive” as soon as the motorcycle is on, even though it’s completely silent. And, letting this thing respond to put itself in neutral once you completely stop was interesting and then you just hit the throttle to take off. And, once I got to open her up, take off indeed. No problem speeding well the heck up. A caution that as soon as you let up on throttle the bike completely slows to stop, so you gotta tap the brake so others behind you know you’re stopping. Sure, one guy who rides an HD White Glide did say it sounded like he was riding a vacuum cleaner (though 5 minutes later he was really into the ride) but I seriously dig the futuristic sound and feeling like I’m borrowing one of Tom Cruise’s Oblivion or Mission Impossible Motorcycles!

I couldn’t love electric and innovation more, plus the thought of no more wars/battles guarding oil fields/rigs or depleting our planet’s natural resources. The cost of the electric for the same 100 mile charge that my monster goes with also be somewhere around a 10th of the price!

I’d like to think I may have to be first in line once this bike is released (and a full figure is dropped to make it (hopefully low) 5 figures to obtained). I’m definitely smitten!

Your turn next Ducati!

 

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Valerie Figarella (MotorGrrl)

And, a mega thanks to Megan Baldock and Harley’s COO Matt Levatich for personally inviting my staff and I to this event.  I’d also like to give props to  The Miss-Fires,  for spreading the word.  Truly this group of ladies and my staff is like no other, whom I couldn’t be prouder to ride with and who’ve already given me so many amazing experiences but today’s prototype riding lunch break will surely be one of my best ever!

The Big Buzz Electric motorcycles,  I think everyone we know has friend or knows a friend of  friend doing a prototype on electric cycles.  Zero so far has been the leader in with the most per mile per charger factor.   Harley Davidson is no cupcake when it come to R&D. From the risk with Buell to now, the electric trend.

Not letting pride and tradition get in their way to keep up with Jones’.  It’s  great to see Harley step outside it’s comfort zone from big burly loud traditional American motorcycles to  it’s counterpart:  “Project Live Wire” – a sport bike with quick braking that’s super quite (uber quite) and Star Trekky futuristic display,  their electric prototype.

HD is sure challenging it’s customers and potential customer.  Their prototype “Project Live Wire” is automatic has a  mono shock and a front floating rotor still leaves me with some questions .  Though I didn’t have the opportunity to open the throttle, I did get the  gist of its lightness, cornering, maneuverability, and quick braking power (especially upon deceleration) .   The word on the street is people( including myself) miss the loud heart pounding  rumble of a Harley.  I think it’s great to see Harley break through barriers and try different things and continue to be a force in this industry.  But I think, they need to make a loud electric bike.  I will always love and treasure our American Beauty: an old school Harley Davidson; it will never get old.

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Corinna Mantlo

I can honesty say I have no idea why I got an 8am phone call on a saturday morning from Harley Davidson in Florida, inviting me to test ride their newest creation, as i’m generally the only weirdo at a HD event on vintage british iron, and though i giggled to myself for days about the spectacle I’d make arriving for the test ride on my 1968 BSA Lightning hotrod, and having to ask where the kickstart is on this new fangled future thing, I was thrilled to have been selected and truly excited to ride the bike.

I am in complete support of the engineering pioneers building the future of motorcycles. Electric motorcycles even now, with their limited 70 mile range fill perfectly a need for fuel conserving, planet conscious commuting conveyances for over crowded urban environments, and with 74 hp and 52 lb-ft of torque, they also have amazing potential on the track if you can hack the electronically restricted top speed of 92 mph.

The test ride was done in heavy traffic in downtown manhattan. Not ideal conditions at all to really test the potential of the bike, or technical handling in tight turns, but I found it very interesting as like I said I think of these as the perfect mode of transport for urban commuters. For this application, the light and nibble feel of the bike was perfectly suited. The automatic transmission freed me up from my constant battle of up shifting and downshifting at ever stop light which can be maddening, and I immediately felt right at home with the smooth automatic acceleration and deceleration and the bikes unique sound. by the second time around the block I was having a blast. The bike leaned and turned around cars and corners and the suspension handled our NYC potholes well. The read out display and sound design make the future feel like Tron (1982) which I think is perfectly appropriate. It is a future bike. It shouldn’t look like it’s dressed up like a classic Harley, though I give props to the design team for styling the uber modern bike to have a unique look that still completely fits into the traditional HD branding.

I am honored to have been able to ride one of only 33 built and though Harley has no plans to release the bike for sale, it is a step in the right direction and it’s great to see Harley (who is no longer known as a company pushing the envelope to develop new bike technology) making strides for the rest of the industry to follow.

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Video Recap of Project Livewire