Category Archives: Power Velocipede

‘ere’s a laff

See, this is why I dislike Winnipeg.

I posted the CBR600 on Kijiji yesterday.  I put an asking price of $3900, and stated that I was open to reasonable offers.  I even italicized reasonable because I know how Winnipeggers are.  I believed that this was very clear.

And just like clockwork, today, the first response I got – “$2500 right now”.  ARGH!

Attention Winnipeg lowballers (that’s the whole town, more or less): first, you will be mocked mercilessly; next,  you will be deleted.

In other news, I reviewed 508 kanji today.  85% success first time through.  Not bad, not good enough.  Regardless it’s high time to add more.  1500-odd to go, after all.

Also the Dakota (a.k.a. wretched steaming pile of money pit) is in the shop again.  Also it’s rusting fast (had no rust at all in fall).  Anyone want to buy a really nice truck?  I’ll give you a good deal!

Also I was kinda on a Card Captor Sakura bender today.  It’s a bit like eating a whole bag of truffles at once.  I feel vaguely ill now so I shall go to bed and have cute dreams.

yay for global warming, or something like that

It appears that this is the year of the Indian summer that just keeps going.  They say that next week will bring snow, but I remain unconvinced.  Highs have been around +5 and are projected to stay there all week.  So much so that we actually took the bikes out this weekend.

First order of business was to get Tony’s bike out of his living room (yes), so that took up Saturday till latish afternoon.  We brought it back from the city with my truck.  The only tricky part was getting it down the steps; my planks weren’t quite long enough and the bike got a bit high-centred on the fairing, but no damage was done.  Then once we had it back to my place (where it will be sleeping for winter), it was time to get things ready and ride a bit.  Didn’t get a whole lot in but enough to figure out what sort of clothing would keep us a little warmer!

Today we set out a bit after 2 in the afternoon, by which time it was +5 or so.  Wool socks, poly longjohns and cycling tights and jeans, a wool cycling jersey and a wool army sweater and a fleece sweater under my jacket.  And a very thin fleece balaclava that did a remarkable job of keeping the neck warm.  I felt a tad not terribly bendable, but indoors was near to a risk of overheating so I figured it ought to work on the road and so it did.  A little cold on the chest, but then my jacket is emphatically a summer jacket, designed to let air through, which it does exceptionally well – you notice that when it’s near freezing.

First stop was Tony’s parents’ place, where his dad admired his bike (which he hadn’t seen yet) and commented that the bit of oilspray on the tire from the chain should “make for better brakestands” – much to his mom’s alarm and our amusement.  Then we had it figured that we’d to go Altona to find a restaurant, since having skipped lunch things were feeling pretty hollow.  But hollow was also a word that could describe that town.  It felt like a wasteland.  There was hardly a soul around.  Out of three restaurants that were actually open, two had no cars in front of them at all, and the other had three, but that was a Chicken Chef and thus didn’t bear consideration.  Back to Winkler it was.  After supper we just had to get a few more miles in so we headed down the road to the Tim’s in Morden.  By then it was dark and getting awfully cold.

I can see now where the heated vest, heated grips, and windproof riding suit would extend the season a great deal.  Even with windproof gear and heated grips I would have been good to go for nearly any distance.

But still, 122 km on November 15th.  Ridiculous.  I love it.

coffee claims another victim

Since long before I actually started riding, I’ve loved the cafe racer style.  This all began in the late 1950’s when young British riders would spend their few hard-earned quid on making their own bikes look and run more like the racers they admired.  The modern analogue would of course be the supersport bikes you can buy that, right off the showroom floor, give you the large majority of the performance and style of a World Superbike or even MotoGP racer, and all you need is a set of team decals.  But the style of the 1960’s lives on and is in fact growing considerably more popular.

So in my usual method of latching on to a trend as it reaches a critical mass of trendiness and hipsterdom, despite having been interested in the style years before it was accepted as cool by the respected authorities (did the same thing with my fixed-gear bikes), I’m just getting started now on building my own cafe racer.

I don’t even have it home yet but this is what I scored yesterday for a rather trifling sum.  Pardon the terrible cameraphone pics.  They are caused by my cameraphone being terrible.  Click to biggify.


It’s a 1980 Yamaha XS850, an 850cc air-cooled triple, originally made as a touring bike.  This is a little odd choice for a cafe bike, and you don’t see them very often.  It’s really a bit too new, it’s shaft drive, and it’s pretty big and heavy.  But the frame has the straight top that is needed for the true cafe look, and the tank fits the style very nicely.  Wire spoked wheels would probably suit the style better, but I don’t think I’ll go to that extent of modification.  Besides, I actually wanted something odd.  There’s a huge majority of Honda twins and fours in the cafe world, and whilst those are certainly the most abundant as well as nearly the most suitable blank canvas for a racer, I’ve never been one to like to do exactly as everyone else.  I prefer my sub-sub-sub-niches, thank you very much.  When I decided to set out on this project, I had in mind one of three things: either a small-displacement twin, like a Honda CB360 or a Kawasaki KZ400, but turbocharged; or a two-stroke; or one of these Yamaha triples, mainly because you can’t beat the sound of an uncorked triple (you can match it, but not beat it!).

I was inspired in large part by this:

For more examples of the cafe style, check out the member’s rides section of the website of the Ace Cafe, which is where it all started.