Tag Archives: V-twin

Anybody know about the Valleymen Motorcycle Club?

21 Nov

Valleymen M.C. sign

A couple years back I picked up this sign at the Long Beach antique swap and have been looking for info about the Valleymen Motorcycle Club ever since.

Valleymen M.C.A Google search turns up some info, such as this page from a 1965 issue of American Motorcycling. The Valleymen M.C. out of Reseda, Calif., are listed as newly chartered AMA club. Another result is from a V-Twin Forum in which someone posts that his parents rode with the Valleymen in the 1960s. Still another is an obituary for Pauline Clarre Jennings, who, along with her husband Dean, rode with the Valleymen until he died in 1988.

I would love to know more about this sign and about the Valleymen. Anybody know anything?


Gard and Keanu’s excellent adventure: Arch Motorcycle Company

4 Oct

These are images of the KR GT-1 Prototype, the first model built by Arch Motorcycle Company. Arch is a new collaboration between custom builder Gard Hollinger of L.A. County Choprods and actor Keanu Reeves, who both are apparently simpatico when it comes to building high-design, performance-oriented custom v-twins.

Keanu Reeves Arch Motorcycles Gard Hollinger

Check out more about Arch and the new partnership over here at Dealernews. In the meantime, check out the pics and the vid of Reeves zipping around on the bike. We see on the L.A. County Choprods site that the build involved such industry notables as Bennett’s Performance, Ohlins Suspension, Baker Drivetrain, Yoshimura RD, K&N Filters, Evil Engineering and a host of other fine vendors.
Arch Motorcycle Company Keanu Reeves Gard Hollinger

Raising the dead: Past thoughts on Harley-Davidson’s Iron 883

15 Sep
Iron 883 Harley-Davidson

Image courtesy of Harley-Davidson

It’s been four years since Harley-Davidson introduced the Iron 883 as part of its Dark Custom lineup, and the same timespan since I got one for a test ride and review. That bike is still one of my Top 10 fun bikes to ride. There’s something very no bullshit about it.

At the time, it seemed that Sportsters were still H-D’s dirty little secret — one viewed by the Harley faithful as the Motor Co.’s “little bike” or “girl’s bike.” Since then, you can’t hit the So Cal highways and byways without spotting a Sporty blasting down the lanes, rider decked out in the proper uniform — open-face helmet, T-shirt or T-shirt/flannel combo, skinny Levis and Converse/Vans/work boots/hipster boots.

The Sportster!This is great as the Sportster, in all of its incarnations, is an absolute blast to ride. Lightweight and zippy (well, zippy enough). At one time in my two-wheeled life, I owned an Ironhead Sportster (hey, there it is to the left) that sat more often than it ran, but damn did it look good sitting there. The problem was electrical gremlins (after a homegrown rewiring job) but it also liked to shed parts while going down the road. Take the generator for instance. No really, take it, because it’s laying back there in the No. 1 lane on Artesia Blvd. in Torrance. Bolt holes in the case stripped out easily and had to to Heli-Coil or filled and retapped. Damn do I miss that bike.

Well the new generation of Sportsters has found a new generation of fans and that’s pretty cool. In honor of these little runabouts, I’m resurrecting a review I did back in 2009 on the Iron 883.

For me, one of the absolute wonders of riding a motorcycle has always been that minute you crest a hill and start to let gravity influence your ride. Where it’s less of you piloting the bike and more of you just riding it. While I love uphill cornering and sections of twisties — with all the physics they represent as I roll off, brake, lean and accelerate in that sublime danceable rhythm — it’s that moment, when you’re no longer pushing it that grabs me and lets me fly.

As a kid I used to trek up to the higher points of the South Bay area of Los Angeles on my Strand cruiser and then make that bomb run downhill. Free flying. Wind swooping. Sensory overload. The pull of flat land bringing you down to its level. It’s the pure sensation of motion, where movement and rolling forward is the only thing.

While riding pretty much anything with two wheels and a motor is a good time, some motorcycles are just more fun, the kind of fun that hints back to those coasting runs on 26-inch balloon-tired wheels. I found this sensation recently on Harley-Davidson’s latest introduction to the Dark Custom line, the Iron 883.

Harley-Davidson Iron 883Much like its older brother, the Nightster, the Iron 883 is simply a motorcycle in its most basic form. There’s no bells and whistles and with the Motor Co.’s Dark Customs, that seems to be the point. It’s a blacked-out version of the Sportster 883 Low that’s lighter by about 20 pounds and a lot more sparse and gritty given the flat paint scheme, some sweet rubber fork gaiters and the taillight/brakelight/turn signal combo and fold-away license plate that first appeared on the Nightster.

Unlike the Nightster’s spoked wheels, the Iron 883 comes with black 13-spoke cast aluminum wheels — not much of a difference in my book, though I’m partial to the traditional chrome spokes (Yes, that’s a horrible pic to the right). Also unlike the bigger blacked-out bike, the Iron comes with narrower, tucked-in handlebars that give the already compact package a slightly tighter feel. (It’s also three inches shorter in total length than the 883 Low.)

The styling is immaculate and lives up to Harley’s reputation for a beautiful fit and finish — right down to the black plastic cover that covers the standard rear brake fluid reservoir. Chrome staggered dual pipes help offset the whole black-out theme. It’s a nice contrast.

How does all this translate into on-the-road riding? It’s simple, not only is this a great entry-level bike as it’s very, very easy to ride, it’s also a great little get-around-town ass-kicker of a hot rod for those looking for a bit more oomph. The Nightster’s 1200cc motor offered that much more power, but even the pared down V-twin in the Iron gives enough go-go grunt to smear a smile across your face.

For those requiring rocket-style speed, the Iron probably isn’t for you. But those looking for a broad torque band can find it here. I should note that the bike pulls strong while clicking through each gear, but almost as a matter of course I was hitting the rev limiter through every speed. It was an odd sensation and I couldn’t see where my RPMs were as the Iron is tach-less.

But getting to the earlier point, this is simply a fun bike to ride. It’s in the class of motorcycles where it’s less about operating the bike  and more about riding it. It’s almost an intangible feeling Continue reading

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