12 Nov What's your bikes name?

What's your bike’s name?

Like many of you from my demographic I grew up on Tojo Films masterpiece, Godzilla. That was T-Rex gone wild before there was Jurassic Park. From that iconic roar to kicking the shit out of model cities it was just the bees knees to mid 1970’s American boys. At least that's when I became aware of it.

The original film, with a slightly different name, was released in 1954 to Japanese audiences as a tale of caution against the horrors of nuclear war and technology as personified by a gigantor radioactive sea dragon.

Cool huh!

According to rumors the title of the original movie came from the nickname of a rather stocky built stage hand on the set. However in 1956 as the movie migrated theaters to the states the poignant ending, along with the name of the title character, was edited to suit happy Americans who were emerging into the ATOMIC AGE! Thus was born the American version, Godzilla.

My apologies here…I’m a bit of a history dork. But when I name something it has meaning.

In 1909 Michio Suzuki founded a loom company in Japan. Yeah you read that right…a loom company.

Wtf does that have to do with motorcycles you ask? I’m getting there. Patience Luke.

Japan had a thriving industry in silk. It was the right biz at the right time. As a fellow entrepreneur I get it! Respect for seeing an opportunity! It's the American way! But that wasn't the last time Michio saw an opportunity.

In 1937 he goofed around with automobile concepts to diversify his business. Sadly as the country entered into WWII ideas such as the car for the common man were deemed non essential for the war effort. However in 1951, after the war, being the guy with an eye for opportunity, he comes up with a brilliant idea. Clip-on motors for bicycles!

The rest, as they say, is history.

Fast forward to 2006.

Gotta give props where it's due. Harley Davidson came out with the V Rod in 2001, thus starting a whole new sub genre of motorcycle, the muscle bike. Not your granpappy’s panhead and not a moto go road rocket but something a bit of both.

So Japan went to work and did what they have done so well for a long time. Took a good idea and made it better. They already had a winning race bike department as demonstrated by Mat Mladin in the AMA super bikes with 8 titles. So they did something Japan is NOT known for. They got creative. They had their cruiser department go into cahoots with their race bike department and design a bike together. And from this unholy union that lived across the railroad tracks from each other was birthed the 1783 cc, DOHC, high torque high revving 5 speed with massive double front discs, inverted race style front forks, long sexy slash cut pipes and at the time the widest factory rear tire on the market. The Suzuki M109R. I was in love….

Over the years I have been asked by many an admiring girl (admiring my bike, not me) what her name was. I know it's common for men to name their machines after women. But for me my bike has been more of a man's best friend. Strong, dependable, ready to play at a moments notice. So I never thought of it as a girl. But as a big dog. As it's a brilliant cobalt blue that lights up burple in the sunshine I secretly called it Blue Dragon. But even that sounded tacky. One day however it hit me. Big Japanese beast from across the sea born of race technology….

Oh and the nickname of that stage hand in the original 1954 film?

Gojira

That's my bike. What's yours?

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02 Nov Are you a rain rider?

This will be the beginning of the SSC weekly blog. And for the first post I'd like to share a really unpleasant trip I made back from a popular Pacific NW rally near Arlington Washington.

Let me preface this story with an admission about motorcycle riding in the great North West. If it ain't raining you are nearly morally obligated to ride…that or ride between the raindrops. Considering it's the rain capital of the mainland states with areas reaching 130+ inches of rain a year you don't get much in the way of good riding days. Sometimes the sun is so rare you'd best strap your water wings on or wait for the blessed moments of calling in sick to work when that strange yellow orb in the sky burns through and everyone just stops to stare while awaiting the arrival of Richard Dreyfus from the Close Encounters mother ship. No seriously it's not often to see the sun around here. According to the healthy living website care2.com of the top 10 cities in America with the worst weather three are in the northwest and top the list with first AND second place! No wonder coffee and beer are taken so seriously up here. Starbucks and Mcmenamins Brothers Brewing might as well be pharmacies!

However I digress.

I was visiting friends up in Arlington, north of Seattle, for a weekend of bonfires, partying, great American food, foosball and bikes. On a beautiful, slightly foggy yet sunny, Sunday morning we all threw a leg over and rumbled down to the Mukilteo ferry crossing to Whidbey Island where we staged up within long lines of bikes all headed to the rally. Trust me when I say that being a part of nearly 100 V twins embarking a ferry is a satisfyingly loud experience. After a short 20 minutes skip across the Puget Sound we head on up 525 North for one of the most beautiful rides you will ever see in the mainland US. The vistas of the Sound, the Olympic Peninsula and up toward Canada are stunning. There's a road side stop at Deception pass, just before the bridge, between the islands of Whidbey and Fidalgo that's worth the gander.

Not long after that you roll up highway 20 into downtown Anacortes and…you guessed it. BIKES BIKES AND MORE BIKES.

After half a day of walking around in boots meant for foot pegs and not asphalt, eating too many burgers and ice cream, and seeing at least half a dozen bikes that make you look at yours like an up and coming ex wife, you're ready to get back to riding. After wading your way through stop and go biker rush hour, slow pedestrians at cross walks and the occasional scowling long arm of the law on your way out of town you finally toe it into second, third and on up. The wind rushes by you. Your Motor rumbles. The mountains and forests and smell of the ocean caress your senses. And you think to yourself, ok darl’n, you're not some Orange County trailer queen but you ain't so bad.

We get back, have another great night of bonding with great friends, several of which flew in from Australia, and head back to our hotel rooms. The next morning after a breakfast to give a rhino food coma I say goodbye to all my biker friends and set out for home…Oregon.

So here's the thing. Nearly every major aboriginal culture throughout history has a rain god. Central and South America, Australia, Africa. Even the nomadic Middle East has a rain god...no surprise there. And then there's China who has an entire hierarchy of rain gods and dragons. Really…rain dragons?

Except tribes of the Pacific Northwest. They don't need one. Everyone else's rain gods all live there in condos, timeshares and vacation rentals around lake Washington or some adorable cottage out near Alki point, the western most part of Seattle that gazes right out on the deep waters of the puget sound.

You go to any drought ridden landscape and there will be some poor soul tasked with enticing their deity of the downpour to get off his high and mightily worshipped ass and spread a little liquid sunshine. Sadly their particular rain god is hanging out at a crochet coffee clatch meetup at one of the local Starbucks that can be found about every five hundred feet in Seattle with his or her demigod Facebook friends from North and South American, Australia, and China!

Anyway…thundering down I-5 south at 75 mph fifteen miles north of downtown Seattle…I swear it was one of those damn flannel wearing rain dragons watching a documentary on Kurt Cobain. Cue the waterworks...

So the grunge movement came out of Seattle. You ever wonder why? Try living in a city where it rains thirteen months out of the year and you'd be a pretty pissed off too. Yeah…it came down. And down and down and down…

At one point I was whisking through the expressways of the central business district with a semi in front of me, a semi to the left, one to the right and…well I dont know what was behind me as the amount of water being moved would have impressed Moses at the Red Sea. It was like that all the way through to the far side of the state capital, Olympia. It was so cold at one point I feared spontaneously changing sex as my boys were trying to crawl back up inside. My teeth were chattering, my finger tips were stinging, I was miserable.

Never have I enjoyed the first world indulgence of a hot shower like I did at the end of that day.

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07 Feb Which way did he go?

Good Grief!

 

It's been far too long since I've spoken to my peeps.  The business has gone through great and terrible times since last summer.  And it's still in the woods as of yet.


First I would like to apologize to all my wonderful customers who have been so patient over the fall holiday season and beyond.  The business had to make some unexpected adjustments right when business went unexpectedly through the roof.


Damn you all for patronizing my business...stop spending money!


Do I really need to explain the previous statement?  However ya'll weren't getting your orders in a reasonable amount of time.  That was my fault.  I'm learning.  Never imagined you freaks would actually by this stuff.  But it makes me all warm and fuzzy knowing there's crazy people out there like me who love this and use it.


Anyway the biz is moving forward and going and growing through pain, love and gnashing of teeth.  We've got some good stuff coming but I won't say what just yet.  I had learned about getting ahead of myself last year and don't open my piehole until there's something actually on the site.


So more to come.  Stay tuned kids...

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13 May Yes I suck...

So I have been teasing forever about new masks coming out and they are here and just about here.  The Black Diamond Maul, Black Rider Edition is finally up and for sale for all you freaks that can't get enough black.  But the big mystery mask is hot on it's heals.  It's actually done but the production costs are being finalized so I can get a price together for y'all.  Also as it turns out, updating a business website is a time consuming, soul sucking process for a guy who'd rather be on his bike.  Some corporate CEO big shot I'm going to be....

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22 Mar Are you a facebooker?

Just an FYI I am in the process of building a facebook page for SSC. There will be a link to it on the website when it’s close to being done. I plan to have new product info and public surveys on what riders want from new designs in it. It’s a chance for SSC customers to connect with each other and give input on new designs. And of course it’s a way to market SSC through networking. But mostly it’s going to be a forum where I can ask questions and get input from y’all about what mask or features to offer next.

And to be fair it’s also a place where you can bitch up a storm if something isn’t the way you want it. It’s always nice to help happy customers but it’s a privilege to satisfy an unhappy customer.

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24 Feb Sitting here...drumming my fingers...waiting...

So I teased you all about the NEW DESIGN coming out. And here we all sit wondering where it is.

For those of you who have started your own business you totally understand that NOTHING ever happens the way it’s supposed to and in the time frame that it should. We have been working on getting the new mask completed but it’s a little challenging when we are waiting on the parts that we ordered to arrive.

So I would like to apologize to everyone for teasing you and giving you nothing…yet.

It’s coming…

I promise…

really…

no seriously…

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25 Jan Who hasn't been an idiot at some point?

Not that anybody really reads this but I was bored one night and thought I would throw this old story up for y’all to have a laugh at. It has nothing to do with crazy masks but everything to do with being a biker. Originally this was posted on the forum for Suzuki M109 riders, the bike that I ride. My bikes color is affectionately known as “burple” as it is called blue by the manufacturer but it lights up purple in the sun. So it’s big, it’s purple and has entirely too much power for a dumb ass like me to even stand within ten feet of it let alone riding the damn thing. And we M109 riders just call it…the 9. A lawyer would call it an attractive nuisance. It means something that is quite dangerous but very enticing to flirt with.

Read and enjoy.

Here is a little story about how I am an idiot and owning a 9 must lead to brain damage.

Last week I had to run a little errand. The weather was begging me to ride the battleship Burple 109. So I set out to enjoy a little cruise while knocking something off my honey-do list.

A few blocks from home I pull up behind a pickup truck. There is a large group of guys standing at the corner, next to a convenience store, presumably buying beer or what-not. One guy turns around, looks at my 9 and lets out a remark of astonishment. Then all the other eyes turn and you’d think a stripper was walking by. Then someone begs for a burn off. Everyone chimed in. I shook my head no as it’s a $300.00 tire and, just like being a celebrity, sometimes you just get a little tired of pleasing the fans.

They wouldn’t let up.

Somewhere in the back corners of my dormant adolescence something stirred. Something dark and menacing. Something seething with teen aged, hormonal angst. As I squinted my eyes to peer into the darkness I was unsettled to see a pair of pinpoints of light gazing right back at me. Then they sunk low and slowly bobbed back and forth. It was approaching. Just outside of the firelight cast by my conscious mind the predator stopped, frozen. I was being sized up. A low guttural rumble rolled across the space between us as the pinpoints suddenly gleamed. I was declared prey and there was no where to run. In one massive leap it sunk it sickle like claws into my mind and brought it down with careless effort. It was over. My inner child was going to feast.

I said ok and prepared to give them a show. I gripped my hand brake, grabbed the clutch and revved the dragon to life. Then I let go…..

There was a sudden shock as the beast bucked in anger and aggression. This wild animal had no intention of being caged. Like any fool who believes he can control a deadly creature I thought, “I can hold this”. But this day the dragons heart was fell and raging, the strength of his hind quarters uncontrollable. I found myself creeping forward. I never imagined it could have such power and traction.

But like any good rat on a sinking ship…..

I freaked…. the bike was going…. the truck was not….something had to give…. and it was me. I stumbled from danger like a wino chasing a half empty bottle of Night Train along the sidewalk as his shoes keep kicking it out of reach.

What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Well the force falls over on it’s side as it’s right front turn signal is snapped off by the bumper of the immovable object and then proceeds to land on the left front turn signal and snaps that one off too. But not before the force pounds it’s headlight bezel into the immovable objects bumper as well, just for good measure.

So there I stood over the fallen beast. It’s days at an end. The circle of life has come around as the Valkyries descend to escort the dragon to the happy hunting grounds. The onlookers rush to offer their condolences and apologies for their selfish requests.

It was totally “Spear and Magic Helmet”….. Elmer Fudd walks into the sunset with the dead bunny. Cue the string section and the water works. The audience offers to lift the great dragon upon their shoulders to bear it to it’s viking funeral.

They lift….

What’s this….. The beast rights itself?!?! It’s only a flesh wound! NOT A SINGLE SCRATCH, NOT A SINGLE SOLITARY SCRATCH ON IT’S SIDE!!!!

Cue the choir!

Yes folks, just a couple of busted turn signals and a cracked headlight bezel. And as luck had it when I switch out my rear factory signals for the Kuryakyn silver bullets I never threw the old signal housings away. In three hours I switched out the guts from the front signals into the rear housings, reconnected the wiring and BINGO! BOOYAAA!! HOW YA LIKE DEM APPLES SISTER!!!

Back in business…. well except the the headlight bezel that’s on order. 100 shells for that piece of bling.

Of course I have learned my lesson. Never do a burn off right behind a pickup truck. Which is why I am an idiot. The fact that I have a 9 and am prone to childish acts of immature gratuity leads me to believe that I have brain damage which of course must be from the bike. I am a poor unsuspecting consumer. I wonder how much I could get in the settlement from Suzuki for the pain and suffering of owning a machine that is far too dangerous for the average moron to operate.

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12 Jan I spy with my little eye...

Hi again!

So one of the cool little features of website hosting business software is that it tells you where your traffic is coming from. Usually people come to SSC through internet search engines, like Google, because they saw an ad in a print magazine. But every now and then I get that gem of a forum link where I can go in as a guest and see what my peeps are saying about what I make for bikers.

When I started this project I knew that bikers would either love or hate this mask. Sure enough the reactions are strong. But then this isn’t for tee-totaling nannies now is it? And God Bless America we are free to like or dislike whatever the heck we want to.

So for those who love the Maul thanks and I’m glad you enjoy it. But for those who hate it I love you guys bunches. You’re telling me just what the next good thing is with you’re complaints.

Many motorcycle facemask manufacturers simply copy each other, trying to make something about their product “original” by making a scarier clown face or adding a useless do-dad that doesn’t really improve looks, performance or function in an appreciable way. The goal at SSC is to listen to you guys and make what you want, not what we can squeeze out by the tens of thousands a day at sweatshop factories around the world because it’s easier and more lucrative. Don’t get me wrong I want to make money just as much as the next guy but not by selling you what I’m willing to give you instead of what you want. After all, I RIDE. I am one of you.

Soooooooooooo in response to you doubters we have a new mask coming out soon.

What is it you ask? Well I wouldn’t be a good corporate American if I told you anything useful. But I will say that it DIRECTLY ASSAULTS the biggest issue with the naysayers. You’ll know it when you see it.

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25 Dec Maul Winter Testing

Happy Holidays!

I’d first like to thank all my customers across the U.S., Hawaii and Canada. Especially you Canucks! I have been getting a small but steady stream of sales to our northern neighbors who ride all the time. Because lets face it, if you wait for sunny hot weather to ride in Canada your bike will collect a lot of dust. Ride on Canada!

And speaking of riding in stupidly cold weather. I just got back from a half day trip to the middle of my state to meet one of my customers in person to answer questions about his mask. No I am not this amazingly great guy who’d go to the ends of the earth for y’all. He was visiting from out of state to see family for Christmas and wanted to resolve harness adjustment questions that couldn’t be done via email or phone call and I was excited to meet one of my customers as all I ever get to see of you’s guys is your invoice number and shipping info. Though some of you have been so cool as to send in pics of your mask. Thanks.

However I digress.

I have been doing winter time testing of the Maul to see how it performs in the cold in an attempt to improve it’s year round utility. So I thought why not make a 140 mile round trip in the freezing cold to see a customer while wearing the mask. If your gonna test something to make it better for bikers then don’t futz around with it. Put it in the fire and see how it comes out. Only in this case I was putting it in the ice water. The ambient temperature all day here in Oregon was just above freezing. Now throw in the wind chill at 70+ mph! Or at least it would be very cold if I was actually doing 70+…which I wasn’t…because that’s against the law…and that would be wrong. But there are places on I-5 in Oregon where the legal speed limit is 70. So I was there…yes that’s it I was there. Er…um…yeah. Anyway, again I am off track.

Now maybe you’re one of those bikers who doesn’t like a lot of practical and bulky winter clothing messing up his Marlon Brando in The Wild One fashion statement. Yeah I’m one of those morons. Always gotta look good on the bike right? I’m an idiot I admit. But at least I looked good. That counts for something right? So now I can say that I am truly deserving of my ass-less chaps. Because I have no ass. I’m sure you can guess why…

Back to the point of all this. I have ridden with the Maul before in cold weather for short trips near home but never this far in temperatures that even your average Canadian biker would say “EFF THAT EH!” Super sub freezing wind chill…now that’s a test! I can say that despite me being fashionably under dressed, resulting in my manhood turning a vivid hue of over heated cheep chrome header pipes, my face was THE most comfortable part on my whole body. The rest of me was shivering, my toes turned to popsicles and my knees gone numb but my face was comfortable. Heck even my forehead under my helmet felt on the verge of an ice cream headache from the cold jet blasting of winter highway riding. But my nose, mouth and cheeks were good to go all day. So the Maul performed like a nuclear powered Russian ice breaker today, wringing Mr Winter by the neck and making him cry “UNCLE!” It even took his lunch money too…

So I would recommend that if you get or have a Maul go get yourself a balaclava and you will be good to go. If you don’t know what a balaclava is Google it on the internet, get one, wear it while you ride and then slap yourself silly for not having gotten one sooner.

And one afterthought. Why does everyone call them ass-less chaps? If they had an ass they would be PANTS!

Happy New Year and may you all be blessed with great riding and friends to share it with for 2010.

Mark

SOLID STATE COVERS

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