Friday, April 29, 2016

Sport Bike Shoot Out: Four Crotch Rockets - One Rider

On the heels of the Bobber Comparo and last month's Bagger Comparison, I'm announcing my next comparison project:  Four Crotch Rockets - One Rider.

Contrary to popular belief, biking in SL isn't just about cruisers and choppers.  There is a lot of variety inworld.  Recently, I conducted some reviews of sport bikes and they are so much fun.  Truth be told, when I need to distract my mind by intensely focusing on something else, ripping around on a sport bike is incredibly rewarding. 

Saying there is a lot of variety hides another aspect, there aren't many dedicated sport bike builders in SL.  I have found some really great builders which goes to show, if you persevere and dig, you can find what you're seeking.

Four Crotch Rockets - One Rider:  A Competition

One evening, I watched as one of the light speed bike racers posted some equally light speed times at one of the timed tracks.  I'm told these bikes ride the walls at tracks but I don't know because I haven't proven that successful grabbing those kinds of times and I don't really seek to be the fastest on two wheels.  I admire those people who can lay down uber fast times.  If I can get to the top 5, I'm beaming!

Riding these little rockets is a lot of fun.  With realistic animations, you can feel as if you are on the bike, knee dragging and eyes focused on the track.  Sure there is a school of thought suggesting the faster you want to go, the more extraneous scripts need to be removed such as riding animations.   Success to me riding a crotch rocket is how quickly can I ride around a track as smoothly as possible.  This means, I will prepare the bike to be smooth and fluid through the corners at the gearing I'm choosing to use.  I do like the realism factor animations can provide.

Contest Criteria

Each bike tested will be set up similarly.  This doesn't mean the settings will be the same.  What I want to accomplish is to tweak the settings so each bike can move through a track at comparable speeds fluidly at the highest gearing I can handle with my desktop technology setup.  I will concede here and now that someone who is a far better rider could split the sky with one or more of these bikes.  What I hope the test will discover is how a slightly better than average rider can get one of these bikes and have a blast.

Test Standards
  1. One timed track will be used to establish baselines based upon the settings I choose to use.  Each bike will ride the same tracks and multiple tracks will be used with times recorded. A baseline is necessary to ensure the testing is as objective as possible with the only real variables being my abilities and those of the bike's design.
  2. Bike builders will be solicited for donated bikes for the purpose of this test.  The objective isn't to fill my inventory with new bikes.  Instead, the objective is to profile available bikes and how they compare from my point of view.  I will likely use bikes from my inventory as well.
  3. Specific areas of measurement will be based on a score of 1 - 10 with 10 being the best.  I will examine animations, realism, design aspects (mesh grab, soundset, gravity, fit, styling, etc.), and performance.  Ostensibly, if all the settings were equal, the bikes should perform essentially the same though I haven't found that to be completely true. 
  4. Other riders may be invited to ride the bikes so I can gain perspective from their experience and preferences. 
  5. I will also look at versatility.  Essentially, could a normal rider buy a bike, rip around the timed tracks and then take it out on the skytracks on rides with friends or their MC (after appropriate menu settings of course)?  This means I'm looking for a good all-around bike not a true race bike able to do one thing - go fast.

Best of Show

Like the bagger test, I will have an Editor's Choice and IF I get some guest riders, I'll have a Guest Rider's Choice.  Test segment scores will be posted in the narrative.  Objectivity is a goal and it is limited by my ability and the abilities of my guest riders.  In other words, we'll make the contest as fair as possible giving no preconceived advantages before the test commences. 

What do you get if you win?  Absolutely nothing other than the pride you'll have in your great work being recognized!! 

So there you have it!  The announcement and details for the Sport Bike Shoot Out: Four Crotch Rockets - One Rider.  If you are a builder or know one, please share the link to this blog post.  I invite the great bike builders of SL to participate because it will be fun!

Find me on Facebook

You can get updates and new reviews through my Facebook group "Things that Moves in SL" or on my Google+ page.   I review bikes, boats, cars and aircraft.  If you would like me to review something that moves, send me a message. 

Thank you to the Honey Badger (Lizzy Nightfire Brinner) for her photographic eye
and always being the hero!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Old School Stand Off: Four Bobbers - One Rider

Take the frame of a stock bike and add just enough parts for a bike to be born and essentially, you have a bobber.  My observation is bobbers are all about the UN-essential.  My British friends can take ownership of the Café Racer and do so with pride.  The bobber seems to me very Norte Americano and is married to the same concept of minimalism as the Café Racer.  Regardless of origination, there are some amazing examples in the real world of bobbers and having lived in the Capital of Cool for so many years, I saw a lot of them. 

For ages, motorcycles have become a mechanical canvas for creative minds who toil in dirty garages bringing to life their latest creation.  The bobber is the foundation of rebellion to mass produced, gleaming cruisers ridden by hedge fund managers and attorneys.  Posers don't ride bobbers.  All of this illustration is to project an image of living on the edge and yet...bobbers are....beautiful.

Following up on our first Four Bikes: One Rider comparison, I wanted to explore comparisons with custom bobbers. Instead of making it into a contest with a "best of show", this article was going to be a constructive comparison between builders' approaches to the venerable bobber.  The variations in scoring was so narrow and I knew these bikes were going to be closely matched, any "best of" was going to be at best, subjective.

Old School Stand Off: 
Four Bobbers - One Rider

Now that I've hopefully romanticized the bobber, let's get on with this comparison.  We do have four excellent examples of SL bobbers from four different builders.  Why someone buys or rides a particular style of bike is about individuality.  The focus on bobbers is because they aren't choppers!  Choppers kind of permeate SL and while there are great designs, I just like the old school look...almost rat rod designs of bobbers.

Our Bobbers

JFC Route 66 (41 LI)
The Route 66 is one of those bikes that found my inventory. As a design it is relatively common as other builders have made different versions of similar bikes.  Where it is dissimilar is with the graphics options, all themed around the famed Route 66. I would certainly call this bike a bobber. We reviewed the Route 66 some months ago and it is a sweet ride and well deserving to find itself in this comparison.

JJ Cycles Marauder XE (34 LI)
Jimmie made this bike especially for this comparison.  As a bobber, it compares closely with the Route 66 in the way of sophistication.  Yet it does have this cantilever front suspension (think it is called the Schwinn) that blends old school with contemporary.  There is a little touch I thought was really cool, the exhaust looks to be from a Triumph Bonneville.  In my mind, a bobber that comes from sourced parts would look a lot like this bike.

[sau] 8 Baller (13 LI)
When I first saw the 8 Baller, my first reaction was "Oh yeah!"  It is a unique bike and in my opinion, all bobber.  With all of the graphics change options, you can change the bike to suit any mood.  This is a no frills bike, completely stripped of things like emission controls and any good sense.  In fact, when you twist the throttle, a glacier melts. 

Moto Bazzi Slim Bob/Bob'd (76 LI)
This is a true old school bobber that looks like a barn find.  When I reviewed the Slim Bob'd it was after another review of Moto Bazzi's Ironhorse, a more artistic bobber.  With the springer front end, you can almost smell the hot oil from the Slim Bob'd V-Twin.  Of the four, it might be the most sedate sounding but don't let that fool you, it has all of the looks of any bobber.

Riding Impressions

JFC Route 66
Get on and Go!  That's what comes from the Route 66.  As a rider, the bike has great manners, riding exactly where you want it to go.  Menu options don't provide for any adjustments making this a WYSIWYG type of bike.  Staying true to its bobber roots, you're going to sit low and mean in the seat yet the bike is pillow like as a ride.  Perhaps if it had a touch more weight it wouldn't float as much. Though the float is manageable. When I think of the Route 66, it has a go anywhere feel.

At Deezul's Appalachian Speedway, the 66 was smooth and quick, like a jackrabbit on a date.  Because the menu doesn't provide for adjustments in the settings, the faster I pushed the bike, the wider I took the turns.  This happens with bikes in SL.  It isn't yet possible to modulate steering on the fly as you would in a simulation or even in RL. 

The take-away is slow down for the turns, plan your entry or just slow down.  Turning and track navigation was not a problem but it is observable.

The ride at Legends allowed the Route 66 to explore some scenery.  Timed tracks are fun,
scenic roads are relaxing.  With the twists, climbs and hills at Legends, the Route 66 purred along with ease.  The destination wasn't the purpose, it was the ride.  Even with the bike's soft manners, it handled the deviations in road types very well. 

Lizzy's Perspective:  She loved the sit and riding poses as they felt very realistic. This bike is the most realistic riding as well.  Here's the funny thing, Lizzy was my model when I reviewed the Route 66 some months ago and she didn't remember it.  We went on a ride after her reviews and she took this bike around Deezul loving every moment.  It's good when a badger smiles!

JJ Cycles Marauder XE
When I've reviewed other JJ Cycles bikes, I see a progression in scripting.  The build quality has always been there but earlier versions felt a little twitchy to me.  Along comes the Marauder XE and of the other bikes in this comparison, it is defensive tackle.  You know the big kid on the front line who moves left, the whole world moves with him.  The Marauder is a smooth riding bike into and out of the turns.  Gearing is set to lower values leaving some of the speed performance optional and to your own preference.  From a rider's point of view, this bike is well behaved even if it sounds like a Doberman growling.

I wouldn't take any of the four test bikes to set any land speed records.  The Marauder is very different from other JJ bikes. It is slower and without talking with Jimmie about this, I kind of feel he made it slower on purpose, to emulate an older school ride.  After just a few minutes riding the bike, I believe I can take it to the older sky tracks and handle the narrow roads easily.  In fact, we will but not just yet.  For the Raceway, I easily managed the twisties without much correction or too many control inputs. 

Starting from the ground, at Legends with bikes, I notice a bit more lag than up in the sky.  I'm sure someone can explain my eyes glaze over.  Expecting some lag anyway, I was surprised how well the Marauder moved down the road.  It is an advanced bike and if you're moderately experienced, you'll know to pay attention and plan your turns.  This bike was responsive and went exactly where and how I wanted it to go.

From Lizzy's Perspective:  This isn't a beginner's bike but for advanced riders it is a great ride.  Cornering required a little practice but given a little time, it was easy to get around the track.  Lizzy liked the pirate theme, sound and style.

[sau] 8 Baller
When I think of a bobber and the bikes in my inventory (there are way too many), the 8 Baller is top of mind.  It is my definition of one.  Out of the box and after you resize and fit your avatar onto the bike, you'll need to pay some attention to the handling.  It'll ride quite well without tweaking the settings but the Steering Bonus is set to 10 compared to the other bikes that are set more to the range of 0.25 to 0.45.  What does this mean?  The bike is a little more twitchy and sensitive in comparison to others.  I took 20 minutes and decreased the Bonus, one click at a time, from 10.0 to 0.40.  After that, the bike rides so much better for me.

With tweaks to the steering bonus made satisfactory, the 8 Baller ate up the asphalt at the Raceway just as well as other bikes.  Gearing might be a little higher from third on up compared to the Marauder (again this is something you can change) making the bike quicker and it can handle quick.  Negotiating turns was simple and predictable. 

Where the Marauder is the fat kid on the move, the 8 Baller is the guy who can steal home from third. 

The 8 Baller reminds me of my Border Collie...full of energy and just a little ADD.  Tight tracks aren't any trouble at all but I had to pay attention to keep the bike from weaving.  There is room for more tweaks to the settings  but who cares, the bike looks and sounds great as the knobbies claw across the asphalt.

Lizzy's Perspective:  Lizzy liked the ability to change the paint schemes and the choices within each.   The ride on the 8 Baller was a little more difficult compared to the other three. I'll say it isn't a beginner's bike at all though Lizzy is certainly no beginner to riding in SL or RL.  She's ridden dirt bikes as a kid and owns an Indian in RL. 

Moto Bazzi Slim Bob'd
Of the four, this is the oldest of old school examples.  Even the sound set suggests old school.   It is also an easy ride if you lead your turns a little earlier than with other bikes.  If you don't, you'll come out the other side a little wide.  I mentioned "barn find" earlier.  This bike doesn't feel, ride or look like a customized bobber.  It is the grandfather of bobbers.   Riding may not produce the adrenaline surging feel of other bikes but I guarantee if you come across this bike in RL, sitting next to some high powered Harley, you would want to ride this bike. 

Grandfather Bobber is a quick old man!  Maybe it isn't an on the knife's edge kind of ride, the Slim Bob'd confidently handled the Raceway and if you pushed it harder and could talk, it might say, "what is your hurry?  I'm checking my twitter feed."  In comparison, Grandpa Slim rode like it had some experience. 

Now saying that, the menu doesn't provide for tweaks and the bike could use a little more banking but not too much.

I can confidently say the Slim Bob posed a unique presence at Legends.  Firing up the motor to its calm burbling motor, I took off.  This bike hides how fleet footed it really is.  Taking on the twists and turns at Legends, I realized I was grabbing a little too much throttle which caused me to pay more attention to my riding than rubber necking the trees.  Like its friends within this test, the little Slim was more than capable in all conditions and roads. 

From Lizzy's perspective:  This is a very good bike and easy to ride for new and experienced riders alike.  Lizzy is very particular when it comes to bikes, she really liked the Slim Bob'd and said it incredibly detailed as a design and was a very nice riding experience.  She came back after the ride gushing over this bike. 


JFC Route 66
Even if the Route 66 is a relatively common design used by other builders, the ability to modify colors and color theme (around the Route 66 concept) give it something special.  The variability is a cool touch.  If I were to attribute the bike to something in RL, it would be a big bike.  Yet the rider sits low.  Looking it over closely, I would suggest there was a marriage between large motor, large wheels, large tank and small frame. 

From the headlight back, this bobber blends old school with contemporary.  What underscores that most is the springer front end.  All of our bobbers for the comparison feature solo seats, old school front suspensions and hardtail rear ends just as you would expect with a bobber style bike. 

Animations are subtle and fit with from idle all the way through the turns.  Sounds are going to be pretty common for SL V-Twin riders.  You'll get enough of a rumble to let people know you're coming.

JJ Cycles Marauder XE
Bobbers should be custom bikes with parts sourced from other places or created from scratch.  That becomes the purist view.  The Marauder isn't a bike I've seen before. Distinctly a contemporary bobber there are some unique twists.  You can see it first in the front suspension.  I had to research it (yes, I do that) and found it to be called a Schwinn front suspension, taking the technology from Schwinn bicycles.  This is done with a twist as well as there is a gas assisted strut dampening the bumps.  I like the look.

Beyond the suspension, you'll notice the riding position isn't the traditional cruiser look with the feet forward.  The bike has rearsets which fits with bobber cool.  Mate these features with the gently curved drag bar and the riding position is low along the tank.  From a front profile, you see a tire, headlight and my eyes.  I'm peering over some pretty sick paint on the tank for a pirate theme.   

The soundset is something newer.  It isn't the low rumble turning into a growl.  Instead the idle sounds more like a burble.  When you twist the throttle, the engine purrs.  Why does it purr?  Look at the pipes, sourced right from a Triumph Bonneville. 

[sau] 8 Baller
The 8 Baller is one of those few bikes to stop me in my tracks.  Instead of it being solely a street bike, it has some off road characteristics made more clear with the knobby tires.  Like a lot of bobbers, solo seats are often dropped lower on the frame.  Not so with the 8 Baller, the rider sits up high and in charge similar to a dirt bike.  Animations are subtle and reasonable to the bike. 

Even as the bike sports a Model A tail light, this isn't one of Henry Ford's tin lizzies, "you can have any color you want as long as it is black."  With some clicks of the menu, you can work through a myriad of color schemes to give you a unique look.  [sau] incorporated the same springer front suspension found in The Ace which is a little different than other springers you commonly see.  Then there is the suicide shifter.  If you can ride a bike with this kind of shifter, you are my hero! 

While [sau] has developed bikes also developed by other builders, there are some unique bikes and the 8 Baller is one.  One of the cooler touches is the soundset.  It sounds a little more metallic than other V-Twins and I appreciate this as it makes the motor sound more old school.

Moto Bazzi Slim Bob'd
Stylistically, the Slim Bob'd/Bob  is probably one of the best looking of the four.  Here's why.  If you are into realistic looking bikes, this one looks absolutely like something you would see in RL. Further, it looks like a bike you would want to ride in RL.  From the box, you do get a few versions sized for female and male avatars which shows a lot of savvy in delivering a great product for consumers.  The suicide shifter is a great touch too. 

It doesn't need a lot of flash and splash though does have one little thing to add to this bike's personality.  There is a skeletonized hand flipping a finger on the rear fender. 

The soundset is not as aggressive sounding as the other bikes.  What you'll hear is more of a subdued "put put put" throughout your ride which hides the performance of the bike.  If you found this old bike in a garage or barn, waiting to be ridden once more, it would sound just like it does. 

 Final Thoughts

For people somewhat interested in riding bikes in SL, they might have some old bike in their inventory which isn't particularly well made or a great performer.  Having a bad bike is a tragedy since there are so many great ones available.  Of the four bikes tested, they all retail for less than L$2,500 which is about $10USD.  You don't have to spend a lot of your hard earned money to get a great bike.

Show up at one of the tracks such as StarRiders, Deezul Raceway or The Badlands and look at what people are riding.  If you see a bunch of stretched and raked choppers and that's your thing, you can find a chopper.  If you like the cruisers and sport bikes, you can find those too.  Today, I focused on bobber styled bikes. 

Do I have a favorite from the four bikes tested?  Each one can be a favorite depending upon my mood at the time I ride.  I love all four of these bikes for different reasons.  They aren't perfect bikes and I have yet to find that one bike that meets every one of my needs.  All four bikes are as competent on the long skytracks as they are on the timed tracks.  Each one has a different kind of charm to attract and would be rider. 

Customer service is important to the four bike builders.  JFC isn't just JFC, it is Jayra Magic and she reached out to me personally with an update of the Route 66 because I had a question about it.  Jimmie Jax is just a nice guy and great builder which shows with his JJ Cycles.  RoxyCyn of Moto Bazzi owns a bike shop in RL and is into choppers.  She's also a nice person and savvy businesswoman.  NiR McBride has to be an artist as you can see an expression of art in her [sau] bikes plus she cares about her customers. Do business with good people and you'll never go wrong. 

As always, I would like to thank Jayra Magic, RoxyCyn, Jimmie Jax and NiR McBride for building some great bikes.  All four are bobbers to the core!

Where can you buy these bikes?

Here are the SLurls for our four bike shops.  You can find JFC, JJ Cycles and [sau] on Marketplace.  I do recommend visiting each of the bike shops inworld to experience the tested bikes and many more available to you.  Each builder offers a "try for your buy" opportunity and it is a great way to spend some time.

JJ Cycles
Moto Bazzi

Where do we go from here? 

I hope you are enjoying the comparison reviews.  They are little more complicated to put together but so much more fun to write.  We first talked about custom baggers and now bobbers.  Next, I'm going to spotlight some sport bikes and for that test, do a deep dive to sort out what can be done with this sector.  Of course, I'll do so within my skills! 

As these bikes are somewhat more technical conceptually, we might just have to pull out the ruler and see which bike is best.

Coming Soon:  Sport Bike Comparo

Find me on Facebook

You can get updates and new reviews through my Facebook group "Things that Moves in SL" or on my Google+ page, friend me, follow me or join the group.   I review bikes, boats, cars and aircraft.  If you would like me to review something that moves, send me a message. 


Photography by me and the Honey Badger (aka Lizzy Nightfire-Brinner) because she is amazing!


Sunday, April 24, 2016

A New Home: Triton Marine at Moto Bazzi Island

RoxyCyn messaged me today to announce the opening of a second Moto Bazzi operation.  I know Moto Bazzi and Roxy through motorcycles and they are some awesome bikes.  Now she has moved forward to include some fun boats and just opened her new boat shop. 

Forging ahead in the vibrant world of watercraft,
we have Triton Marine.
We visited the Triton Marine boat shop located near protected waters and one of the coolest features in SL, The Leviathan Skeleton. Lizzy and I had a lot of fun exploring Roxy's new shop and playing with the boat rezzers.  At least I'm pretty sure they were boat rezzers. I will not admit to breaking into the manager's office to borrow some keys (hiding Lizzy's crowbar).  Sure they were boat rezzers and we were ripping along the surf with some high powered watercraft. 
There are strategies involved in all business pursuits and clearly Roxy is one savvy business owner.  When we talk about business, it is easy to get into the dirty and mercenary nature of selling something for a profit but go with me.  According to Roxy, she sees a gap in the entry level powerboat market within SL and Triton Marine seeks to fill that gap by introducing high performance and great handling boats to people just taking to the water. 
I have to agree.  While the motorcycle market, of which Moto Bazzi is a significant player, the marine and aviation markets are slow and don't tend to produce new products with comparative frequency to the motorcycle market.  There are also fewer players.  Look at MarketPlace and this blog.  What's more, to enter get into a good boat, you need to shell out a lot of lindens on designs that are technologically dated (figure on attached prims). 

Lizzy and I have had some terrific experiences sailing and playing with powerboats.  Triton Marine boats are a lot of fun and easy to operate.  As an entry level wave ripper, you need a boat which will open your eyes and heart to cruising places like the Blake Sea, Bingo Straight or Fruit Islands.  Will you grow into more elaborate boats down the road, sure.  Will you still continue to ride the boat that got you started?  Absolutely! 

We both grew up watching Miami Vice and both of our test boats (shown in the pics) reminded us of watching Don Johnson looking cool and pensive while chasing down the south Florida drug lords.  For the record, we were not carrying contraband at the time we were searched after making some stops along the way and yes we look innocent.  Speak to my attorney!

About Moto Bazzi & Triton Marine

If I was getting paid for this, I would still get to say I have the best job in the world.  Not because I get to play with all of these cool toys (I do kinda like that to be fair).  What I think is the best about writing this blog is when I get to meet all these brilliant builders.  RoxyCyn is one of those brilliant minds and though we don't talk a lot, every conversation has been friendly and fun.  She's good people! 

Moto Bazzi makes some awesomely fun and great looking bikes...bikes that don't look like any other two wheeled beast in SL.  The Ironhorse remains one of my favorites.  To know Roxy is keeping things fun by opening her Triton Marine boat shop is very inviting.  Lizzy and I will be sure to stop in when we're out return the boat keys and maybe to raid the vending machines.  Hey, it's a thing! 

Visit Triton Marine and the Moto Bazzi bike shop, you will not be disappointed!

Find me on Facebook

You can get updates and new reviews through my Facebook group "Things that Moves in SL" or on my Google+ page.   I review bikes, boats, cars and aircraft.  If you would like me to review something that moves, send me a message. 

Thank you to the Honey Badger (Lizzy Nightfire Brinner) for her photographic eye
and always being the hero!