Design of the 2015 Indian Scout article published.

soul title shotSoul of a Legend – MCN-March2015
The March 2015 issue of Motorcycle Consumer News has my story about the design of the new Indian Scout. The original Scout from the 1920’s was such a classic and iconic machine that it seemed to me an almost superhuman task to get the design right in a modern bike that could honorably wear the Scout name. My first thought on seeing the bike was “Wow, they really nailed it!” I was intrigued by what it must have taken to get it right. I traveled to Minneapolis after the Sturgis launch and interviewed Rich Christoph for several hours, and we had several subsequent phone calls and email exchanges before my nearly 8,000 word article was finished. I managed to get a behind-the-scenes look at the 2 1/2 year project to bring the 2015 Scout to life. You can read the article by clicking on the link above. Fortunately for you, MCN editor Dave Searle cut it down to 4,000 words.

The Lotus rebuild project is complete – and I wrote a book about it.

A Mistress in the Garage by Steve Larsen

After owning my Lotus Elan for over 40 years, I finally got around to rebuilding it. This books I made with Blurb, documents the process. It’s not intended for anyone to buy, really, but to document the 15 months of work and the people that helped make it happen. Hopefully this link will let you get a FREE version, download an eBook version for less than $1 and for you crazy folks, order the big, suitable for coffee table, book.

Elan Static Weight Distribution

Here is what happened here earlier this month. More than a half dozen Phoenix Lotus Owners (David B., Brett E., Clayton S., Chris H., Larry T., Alain B., Wayne V. and yours truly) gathered in my garage to adjust the static weight distribution on my recently rebuilt 1969 Elan. After 30 minutes of just staring at the car, afraid to touch it due to Clayton’s recent paint detailing, we finally got underway, fortified by coffee and Maggie’s freshly baked Apple Cake and an egg dish. The gorgeous new mirror finish on the Elan is really remarkable. Thanks, Clayton.
Weight Dist # 1
David B. had the right tools for this task and began the morning with a brief lecture on what we were trying to accomplish, why it was important, and how we would ultimately find and set the perfect weight distribution for the Elan, give or take a few pounds. Brett E. and Clayton S. were both familiar with the process as well. Little did we know, we would end up getting it nearly perfect. Continue reading

On order: 2015 Polaris RZR XP4 1000 EPS

RZR XP4 1000
After renting a 4 passenger RZR in Utah earlier this year and riding with Maggie, Jean Kirby and Arthur Einstein, I returned home and instantly sold my two passenger RZR 800S and began shopping for a 4 passenger model. As much fun as my 2-person RZR riding experiences were, having four people along is going to be way more than double the fun. As always, the shopping and comparison phase stretched out for 6-8 weeks. And trust me, this is the sort of research I just love.
Here is the summary between the top two choices:

# 1. 2014/5 Polaris RZR XP 4 1000 EPS. New in 2014, improved for 2015. Very long trailing arms which will improve handling and ride considerably. Horsepower is up to 107/110. Extraordinary suspension travel – up to 18 inches rear, 16 in front. The Polaris has hinged, latching doors vs. nets on the Can-am – edge to Polaris. The engine is made by Polaris, custom to these vehicles. The 2014 engine had some problem with the drive belt overheating and breaking, although it seems this was only reported by those who’d failed to properly break them in. That said, having to change a belt in the field is not my idea of a fun day. To address the issue, the 2015 model incorporates new direct flow intake covers, a new belt and a new clutch cover with more ducting to provide twice the airflow to the clutches. When it comes to ride, the Polaris with its super long trailing arm and 18/16 inch of suspension travel, slightly edges out the Can-am, even though the Can-am has the slightly better shocks (top-of-the-line Fox shocks on Can-am, Excellent Walker Evans on the Polaris). Although, with the lower center of gravity, I could also argue quite persuasively that the Can-am handles better. Maybe this area is a toss up?
maverick 1000

# 2. 2014 Can‐am Maverick Max X rs DPS: Nicer interior and better seats than the Polaris. More passenger room, better grab bars for passengers. It is discounted a bit more than the Polaris and may not quite hold its value as much. Polaris outsells them 5 to 1. I know its not a deal breaker, but the Can-am comes in YELLOW, a real turn on for me, although no one else cares. The engine is lower in the vehicle for a better/lower center of gravity, but that also puts the engine directly under the rear passenger seats. Being in Arizona, with our heat, this is a factor. Rotax engine on the Can-am which I’m familiar with on several BMW motorcycles and they are just bullet-proof.

Why they both sound as if they were named after fax machines, I don’t know. But I finally decided to go with the Polaris. They are both top-of-the-line quality rides, but I think Polaris is just doing everything right these days. It should arrive here the middle of October, in time to take faux neice & nephew for a ride when they visit from Minneapolis at the end of October.

Now that I’ve put a deposit on the Polaris, I’m in the “anticipation” phase of experience.* I have to keep reminding myself that this will be the best part.

For you that have never heard of this, it is Larsen theory #11: Every experience in life has three parts: The anticipation, the event itself, the memory. Of the three, the anticipation is almost always the sweetest. (Think about it for a minute – Christmas when you were a kid, losing your virginity, going to college, a child’s birth, your first brand new car or motorcycle. I’m right, aren’t I? Always strive to live in the moment, enjoy all three aspects of every experience to the fullest.)

Annette Birkman’s book is out

birkmann campingOn a warm night early in 2009, Annette Birkmann stood in front of eighty or so riders at the BMW/Triumph dealership on Old Middlefield Way in Mountain View, California. Birkmann, a blond, Danish woman of average height and weight, with piercing blue eyes and a ready smile, had just arrived after spending a year riding from Tierra del Fuego, the southern tip of South America to San Francisco, alone, on her 2001 BMW F650 Dakar. I was there and observed the affect she had on the assembled riders, who viewed her with intense interest and a palpable awe. Interviewing her a few days later, I shared her adventure with readers of Motorcycle Consumer News in an article later that year.  BirkmannMCN4-09

Birkmann has now told her story in a new book, “The Road to Getting Yourself Out of the Way: A Journey to Effortless Living.” (Amazon.com, $17.99 for paperback, $9.99 for the Kindle), the book chronicles her learning experiences during her year-long trek across South America. Read Birkmann book review (PDF) here.

Her tale is far less a primer on how (or how not) to prepare for a year-long, one-person motorcycle trip through South America than it is one person’s journey of coming to terms with life’s elemental truths, her struggles with wrong-headed thinking and the roadblocks to a state of mind in which she feels the simple joy of just being alive. Her hard-won breakthroughs in understanding are described in terms any long-term rider will understand the feeling of riding without fear, completely present in the Now, when every movement of the bike becomes effortless and time seems to standstill. Highly recommended.