False Neutral #10: Gettin’ Dirty


After Garrett gives us some MotoGP and Sportster Roadster news, dirt bikes and off-road riding is our topic this week. We discuss our dirt bike riding experiences (of which Garrett has many; Eric and I not so much), two-strokes v. four-strokes, motocross v. trail riding, dirt experiences for everyone from novices to trials wizards, having fun on mini-bikes (including drifting a pair 60cc four-wheel ATVs on concrete), where to ride, and off-road adventure tours.

The video I was trying to think of was KTM factory rider Jonny Walker riding The Red Bull Romaniacs Prologue. The Bultaco Pursang desert ride video I mention is here.

CORRECTION: At one point I incorrectly refer to legendary trials rider and author Don Smith as “Mick Walker.” This is an understandable mistake because those names are not at all similar and Mr. Walker had no connection to observed trials that I know of.

False Neutral – Gettin’ Dirty


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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Center-Mounted Headlights


Mounting a headlight along the center-line of the vehicle is one of those recurrent ideas that seem offer plausible advantages with a minimum of technical difficulty, but for some reason simply don’t become popular, either with the public or with designers. But there have been a number of production cars that have tried it, and they are subject of our encyclopedia entry for today. We want your help compiling a list of all the cars with a center-mounted headlight.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • Single-headlight cyclopes or third-eye overachievers are both allowable.
  • “Headlight” means “headlight.” It can be auxiliary in nature, but it must be something intended primarily to provide forward illumination, not just a marker/position light or glowing hood ornament.
  • Likewise, it needs to be conspicuously in the center of the vehicle: in other words, lighty-uppy stuff that’s only vaguely centralized and multiple element light bars that uniformly traverse the whole front of the vehicle don’t count, even if there is technically a point of illumination along the center-line.
  • Production cars only. No concept cars, one-offs, customs or race cars.
  • Original equipment only. No aftermarket accessories.
  • Trucks, both light and heavy-duty, are allowed, as long as they are road-legal. No construction machinery, mining equipment, or lawn mowers.
  • As far as motorcycles go, you know that chuckle-then-slap animated GIF? It’s just waiting for YOU, pal.

Difficulty: Medium Rare. For some of you, the low-hanging fruit on this one is already out of reach.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Sources: wikipedia.org & bbc.com.

False Neutral #9: Bikes We Love, Part 2


In this two-episode discussion of the bikes we love, we challenge each other to name our favorite bikes in a number of categories. In Part Two, Our conversation continues as each of us names the bike we most dearly love despite not wanting to own personally, and then talk about what we think are the best bikes to come on the market in the last couple of years.

Leave us a question or note telling us what you like or don’t like about the podcast, and please rate and review us on iTunes.

False Neutral – The Bikes We Love, Part 2


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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Thieving Foreign Parts Bins


Low-volume car models are somewhat notorious for raiding existing cars’ parts books for easily adaptable components. Rear light assemblies are a case in point. The De Tomaso sourced the Pantera’s tail lights from whatever designs Alfa had sitting around, and there was a downright incestuous level of British parts-bin raiding by Bristol. Lotus, however, endured an extra level of contempt for re-purposing Renault Alpine GTA rear lights on the Elan. As if FWD wasn’t bad enough, the indignity of French components on a British design was almost too much for some Lotus fans to bear.

Which brings us to our encyclopedia heading for today: car designs that raided neither their own maker’s parts bin nor their countrymen’s, but reused existing components from a manufacturer in (gasp!) a foreign nation.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • This does NOT mean parts co-developed between two manufacturers as a technology-sharing partnership, or common parts used on sister brands as a result of intra-corporate cooperation, even if they’re located in different countries. The scenario we’re looking for is this: Company 1 in Nation A puts a part on its cars. At some later point, that part shows up on Company 2’s cars, manufactured in Nation B. Capisce?
  • Generic parts that are manufactured and sold with the intention of being used on multiple vehicles don’t count.
  • Likewise, components commonly sold to a variety of manufacturers by third party component builders don’t count. Allison, Getrag, Bilstein, Brembo and Dana have whored themsel— um, supplied just about everybody at one time or another.
  • Production road cars only. No customs, prototypes, concept cars, or works race vehicles. Which is, admittedly, kind of a shame.
  • No aircraft or marine craft, unless it’s because they stole parts from existing cars.

Difficulty: 2.9896 megapicas per microcentury.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Sources: oppositelock.kinja.com & carphotographyplus.co.uk

False Neutral #8: Bikes We Love, Part 1

In this two-episode discussion of the bikes we love, we challenge each other to name our favorite bikes in a number of categories. This week, we discuss:

  1. The one bike each of us likes best out of those we’ve owned in the past.
  2. The one bike that we have not ridden that each of us is seriously interested in acquiring in the future, given prevailing prices and availability constraints.

Our answers might surprise you. We surprised each other at times.

And Please! — leave us a question, a note telling us what you like or don’t like about the podcast, or a suggestion of what topics you’d like to hear us discuss.

False Neutral – The Bikes We Love Challenge Part 1


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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Non-Circular Steering Wheels

Last Friday, our esteemed Mr. Emslie asked, “Non-Round Steering Wheels, Brah! or Blah?” Many of our readers cited specific cars thus equipped in their responses (amiable, informative, and entertaining—as always). Unfortunately, the hivemind didn’t produce a definitive list of every car that had something other than a perfectly circular steering wheel. So, let’s keep the irregularly shaped party going. Do us a favor and add an example to our virtual encyclopedia entry today.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • Production road cars only. No customs, purpose-built race cars, or back-alley hack jobs. Otherwise we could post funny cars, dragsters, and F1 cars until the cows came home and the Interweb tubes were full.
  • It should actually have a wheel. Tillers and skid steers would be a humorous first post, but would get old quickly.
  • Motorcycles? See caveat directly above.
  • Airplanes? Oh, I should slap you for just suggesting it. There are twenty-three gazillion non-round control yokes in planes from Cessnas to military transports. We’re NOT going there today.
  • Boats or ships? [Insert Captain Picard facepalm GIF here].

Difficulty: If you go current, not to hard. Not much low-hanging fruit if you want to go vintage.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Sources: LOW-RIDER’s Photobucket account, releasedatesnewcars.com (but quite likely ripped off from Car & Driver or some other legitimate site)

False Neutral #7: “What’s in YOUR Workshop?”


This week we discuss our project bikes, which include Bultakenstein, Garrett’s radical RZ350-based custom, and a few other bikes we’re just trying to keep on the road in more-or-less stock condition. After discussing Dakota Mamola along with his dad, arguing over the definition of “UJM”, and praising the CBR600F2 as a cheap track bike, we end up commiserating over the difficulty of getting anything shop-related accomplished. Whether it’s fabricating one-off custom bikes in a race shop or just going out to the garage to put an old, neglected bike back on the road, the wrenching skills, money and time available never seem to be quite adequate. But we still love doing it.

Well, at least one of us does.

Also, now that we’re finding our footing a bit, won’t you please rate and review us on iTunes? It’s lonely over there when our friends don’t visit.

False Neutral – What’s in YOUR Workshop?

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Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Cars named for mythical creatures


Thanks to the fertile minds of Greeks, Romans, sailors, fantasy authors, and peasants living in thatched roof cottages, there is a nearly limitless catalog (or, if you’re Chris Haining, “catalogue”) of fantastical, nonexistent creatures. And fortunately, most of them 1) sound like they’d be pretty badass, and 2) have been around long enough to be in the public domain. And as well all know, that combination makes them vehicle marketing gold. So, as we do every Monday, we invite you to start your workweek by helping us assemble the consummate list of these vehicles named after mythical creatures.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • “Mythical” means it is widely known and has been around a long time. Not just any made-up name counts. For example, Tiguan (half-tiger/half-iguana) sounds like a plausibly mythical creature, except that it was invented by a reader of Autobild magazine specifically for VW. [Buzzer sounds, trapdoor swings open.]
  • Beyond that first big restriction, go hog wild. Manufacturer names, marques, sub-brands, models and trim lines are all good.
  • Concept cars, one-offs, race cars are fair game, as long as the name was official bestowed by a manufacturer, coachbuilder, or famous customiser/designer.
  • Motorcycles? Trucks? Sure.
  • Airplanes? Oh, why not; I’m feeling particularly liberal today. Just don’t let it get out of hand. — Whaddaya think this is, Atomic Toasters?
  • Boats or ships? NO, because they all get individually named and every potlicker with a dingy thinks he has to come up with a majestic name for the thing.

Difficulty: This one’s a gimmie. In fact, I was somewhat surprised that I hadn’t pitched this one previously.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Sources: carandclassic.co.uk, gmheritagecenter.com, Honda press photo that can be found about 20 gazillion places on the ‘net.

False Neutral #6: Richard Varner & The State of American Road Racing


This weekend, the professional U.S. motorcycle roadracing season gets underway at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. Fittingly, our guest this week is Richard Varner, CFO and co-founder of the KRAVE Group. Not too long ago, KRAVE was awarded the commercial rights to the AMA’s MotoAmerica pro racing series. Richard discusses the state of pro motorcycle roadracing in America and what we can expect this season and into the future. If you have even a passing interest in motorcycle roadracing, what Mr. Varner has to share will be well worth hearing.

Note: Due to the fault of absolutely no one, the sound quality this week leaves a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, this is the sometimes unavoidable result of four open mics and four internet connections of varying quality, all being mixed down “raw” into a single digital track in real time. We processed this episode in post-production to make the source material as listenable as possible, but the result sounds a lot like listening to a homemade AM crystal radio. We promise that next week’s episode will be as rich, dulcet, and noise-free as a DVD-Audio recording of James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman reading Wolf Solent. Okay, perhaps not quite.

False Neutral – Richard Varner of MotoAmerica

Encyclopedia Hoonatica: “We should add a hatchback version!”


An old friend of mine once recalled his father car shopping at the local American Motors dealer in the fall of 1972. He was torn between the utility of the Gremlin and the styling of the Hornet coupe — both of which had been out for two years — until the salesman took him around the back of the building to see the very first Hornet hatchback they’d received, still un-prepped. His dad bought it immediately.

Hatchbacks have not been around nearly as long as coupes and sedans, generally speaking. In fact, the Hornet was the first American-built hatchback model. (The Gremlin was considered a compact wagon at the time.) More to my point, the Hornet hatchback has not been around as long as the rest of the Hornet line-up, and that is the subject of our trivia contest quest for encyclopedic knowledge today. I want you to name all the car models that had a hatchback version added later, after the car was first introduced. Now, “car model” is a somewhat nebulous term. So, just to be clear, I’m looking for hatchbacks that were added to an existing platform mid-cycle, not as part of a new generation across the model range.

The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • Production cars only, obviously. If it wasn’t in meaningful serial production, it doesn’t fit this category.
  • 3-doors and 5-doors are both good, as are so-called “liftbacks.”
  • “Later” means LATER. As in, introduced after the car was shipping — preferably by at least half a model year or so. So DON’T mention that hatchback that was announced alongside the other body styles and just didn’t ship quite as quickly. (Yeah, THAT one.)
  • Non-identical cousins based on a common platform are likely to get a pass today. You can still nominate a “hatchback-come-lately”™, despite an earlier hatchback version, as long as it was only offered in a different wheelbase or in a different market. You might also be able to argue that an earlier hatchback version sold under a different brand name shouldn’t disqualify your nomination, as long as it wasn’t a blatant case of badge engineering.
  • Motorcycles? Airplanes? Boats? Sure, if you can come up with one, why not. Lots’a luck with those.

Difficulty: This one’s somewhat odd; the vast majority of the fruit is neither low-hanging nor truly obscure.

How This Works: Read the comments first and don’t post duplicates! Bonus points for adding photos.

Image Sources: Ate Up With Motor’s Flickr Stream, the Pedia that is Wiki, and manufacturer press photos.