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If you were old enough in the early 1990s to enjoy the Cranberries then you probably paid attention when the world found out that Dolores O’Riordan had died on 15 January 2018. This is a pencil drawing of Dolores O’Riordan from when the Cranberries performed “Zombie” on Late Show with David Letterman – in November 1994.

Please enjoy!

Dolores O’Riordan: 1971 – 2018
“Zombie!”

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Weeks: 1 | 2

The quest continues…

This week I’m continuing with the motorcycle I started drawing last week. This week I’m spending time reviewing YouTube tutorials on how to draw life-like or photorealistic images. There is lots of great information out there. The most important thing I learned was that there is a place for graphite pencils and there is a place for charcoal pencils. I think it’s time to invest in an art kit to have the right tools to succeed in this quest. I learned that for those really dark areas on a drawing, graphite doesn’t work because it creates a shiny appearance. The best option is using a charcoal pencil for really, life-like dark areas.

Enough talk, let’s see some of your drawing, Rick.

Ok, here’s a progression from last week to today. With the sketch of the motorcycle done, it was time to start the shading process to attempt to present a life-like appearance.

Started week 3 with continuing the sketch from week 2

Week 3 – getting the rear tire done

Week 3 – finishing the rear tire and shading the fairing

Week 3 – How about the seat and some of the frame?

Week 3 – working on the tank and handlebars

Check back for a status update. I hope to complete this motorcycle in week 3, but shading, I’m finding, is an arduous process and takes a long time. I may have to finish this thumper in week 4.

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Weeks: 1|2

So week 1 came and went and while I didn’t produce a finished motorcycle drawing, I walked away with some insights into what I needed to improve on. Some of my biggest challenges included drawing tires in perspective, spacial layout of the motorcycle parts, developing a consistent starting point, sketching the entire concept before diving into details of individual parts and focusing on the concept of 2-point perspective to ensure the motorcycle’s lines all make sense. So, where do I go from here.

The end result of my week 1 efforts

To effectively eat an elephant one must eat one bite at a time. I need to use this concept in my 52-week quest to become good at drawing photo-realistic motorcycles. So this week I will focus on tires. I will focus on understanding the typical parts of a tire and how to draw them in perspective. In week 3 I will focus on spacial layout of the motorcycle parts.

Drawing tires presents a challenge allow two planes: perspective and lean. Often we’ll see a motorcycle on its side stand and at an angle. It’s these two plans that make drawing motorcycle tires so challenging. Here we go.

Here’s this week’s motorcycle that I’ll use to practice on drawing tires. You’ll notice that I have 2 planes or axes that I need to be concerned with. First the bike’s lean angle – identified with the top-to-bottom diagonal red arrows. The second axis to deal with is the perspective axis – identified with the green left-to-right diagonal arrows.

Drawing motorcycle tires requires understand the bike’s lean angle (red arrows) and the perspective view (green arrows).

First, I’ll work with the green arrows – or perspective. The concept is this: when looking at a wheel in a perpendicular view (directly at the tire from the side view) the tire is a perfect circle. The further you move your view to the front or the rear of the motorcycle, the more oval the tire’s shape becomes. Here’s my first attempt at sketching tires in the perspective axis (no bike angle).

First sketch attempt – tires in perspective with no bike lean angle.

This was a very helpful YouTube video:

How to Draw Car Wheels (Perspective + Practice) - YouTube

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Artistic ability has always lingered beneath the surface. I was often drawing as a kid and took several years of fine art in high school. I even completed a two-year associate’s degree in architectural engineering after high school. I am in awe of those who can seemingly effortlessly produce stunning art. I’ve tried on many occasions to continue with my art, but the perfectionist in me always points out the flaws – leading me to quit

I have a new plan.

My goal is to become proficient at drawing photo-realistic motorcycles. I love riding motorcycles and want to be able to reproduce photos of motorcycles using pencil. My approach is to draw 1 motorcycle or motorcycle part each week for the next 52 weeks and post my progress on MotorcycleMelee.com. I will find random motorcycle photos on the web and attempt to draw them. My hope is that by the 52nd week I’ll be really good at this stuff.

I will be constantly wrestling with the inner perfectionist who will relentlessly try to convince me I’ll never achieve my goal. I promise to fight back vehemently!

Here’s week one. This is a BMW motorcycle I saw on Instagram.

Here’s the motorcycle.

The first motorcycle I’ll draw

Here is a sequence of drawings I’ve done so far.

Starting off. No I don’t know why I started at the rear wheel.

Adding more motorcycle bits.

Working on some shading techniques

It gets harder trying to capture the shapes.

Filling in some missing pieces.

A bit more to do to call this one completed, but you get the idea. Anyone who draws can obviously find the flaws in these sketches — I see them too. But … I’m not giving up (yet). I’ll forge ahead and continue to improve.

If you have any tips on drawing with pencil, please feel free to comment below.

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Short Riders and Commuters Rejoice – 2015 Yamaha FZ-09 20,000 Mile Long-Term Review

I bought my 2015 Yamaha FZ-09 in March 2016 and it had about 10 miles on it. I ride about 450 miles a week – mostly commuting – so I wanted to offer my perspective on this bike in 2 primary areas. First as a short rider (I’m 5’ – 5” with a 28” inseam) and second as a long-distance commuter (I commute about 100 miles a day to and from work).

Short Riders and Commuters – This is a great bike!

For short riders: This bike works well for a short rider. The seat height, foot pegs and handlebars combine to create a comfortable riding position. With my motorcycle boots on (they have about a 3/4 inch sole) I can flat foot both feet. I tend to sit at the front of the seat hugging the gas tank so that may be helping. With sneakers on, I can place the balls of both feet firmly on the ground.

For long-distance commuting: the FZ-09 is nearly perfect. Let me get my two gripes out of the way first.

The stock seat is the main complaint I have. The seat’s material does a marvelous job gripping my jeans which ends up causing me some discomfort after about 20 to 35 minutes of riding. What happens is the seat material grips my jeans while I tend to slide slightly forward. This causes a bit of congestion in my groin. The seat also creates hot spots under my buttocks about 35-40 minutes into my ride. I find myself having to stand on the pegs for a few seconds to let some air flow under my butt to provide some relief. If I was to spend any money on upgrades it would probably be to replace the seat.

Another challenge I have with the bike is what I consider a sort of rattling vibration coming from the area of the automatic cam chain tensioner (ACCT). This was replaced as part of a safety recall, but I still feel like – especially at lower speeds (second gear around 25 MPH) the ACCT isn’t providing the proper tension. I imagine that the cam chain has too much slack causing the sound and vibration.

I feel vibration and hear a rattling noise from this area.

Two separate dealers tell me there is no problem. I bought a second-year extended warranty from Yamaha so if it does cause any damage, I’m hoping it’ll do so before March 2018. If anyone has a similar experience, I’d really appreciate you telling me. I imagine that if it was going to cause damage it would’ve done so by now. This could be psychosomatic because I know they replaced the ACCT for some reason.

Dashboard: The dashboard offers both a gear position indicator and a gas gauge which I really like. The tachometer is a bit hard to read, but frankly after a few months I don’t spend much time looking at that. I find that the gas gauge is a bit peculiar. I’ll get all the way to work (about 45 miles) and the gas gauge will still show a full tank. Then by the time I get home, I’m down to 2 or even 1 bar. I would expect that at work I’d be down 2 bars, then down 2 more bars by the time I get home.

Suspension: I’ve seen reviews where the front forks were given low marks because in cornering or hard braking they dove. I did adjust the front forks so they were a bit stiffer and for my height and weight (175 LBS) they are just fine now. At highway speeds cornering is fine. Sure there is a little dive under severe braking, but manageable. I didn’t adjust the rear shock at all. For my use the suspension works well.

Brakes: I find these brakes work well. I’ve had to do some emergency braking on the highway and they (particularly the front brakes) complied with my wishes to stop quickly. I practice emergency braking every morning, so I’ve grown used to the brakes. The rear tire locks up quickly when applying firm pressure to the rear brakes, so I rely heavily on my front brakes.

Seating Position: The seating position which is upright, but not quite supermoto upright, makes for an effective long-distance commuting position. When I merge onto the highway, the upright position makes it easier than my previous bikes (on which I installed drag bars for a lower hand position) to look over my shoulder for approaching traffic.

Great seating position for short riders!

The foot pegs are slightly set back under my butt so it offers a bit of a sporty feel when riding – especially because I put the balls of my feet on the pegs for a more athletic, balanced feel. When I ride on the highway I like to bend my elbows and lean forward slightly which, combined with the slightly rear foot pegs, offers a nice sporty feel.

Torque: The torque is just flippin’ awesome. This bike is famous for its torque and infamous for its sometimes snatchy throttle. I have noticed that sometimes if I let off the throttle too quickly then get back on the throttle that there’s a surge of power that causes the bike to lurch forward. I’ve grown used to the throttle and added a “cramp buster” on the throttle that allows me to rest the padding of my hand on it. This seems to help with any throttle snatchiness. I also removed much of the throttle slack which also seems to have helped with this. Besides the occasionally throttle challenge, the FZ-09’s throttle will get you out of trouble very quickly. It will also get you into heaps of trouble if you abuse it. Whether riding on city streets or on the highway, there is power on demand. When you need to get up and go, give it some throttle and away you go! What I appreciate most about the FZ-09’s torque is the ability for me to get out of dangerous situations – especially when riding on the highway. Sometimes when I feel like I’m getting boxed into traffic, the FZ-09’s torque allows me to get out of that dangerous situation very quickly then settle back into a safer highway speed away from the traffic congestion. Even after 22,000+ miles this bike is a blast to ride. The fastest I’ve gone is about 105 MPH and getting there is dangerously easy to do. In a few situations when I need to get out of a potential boxed-in position, I throttle to get around traffic and look down to see 100+ MPH on the dashboard. You simply don’t feel like you’re going that fast. This can get you in deep trouble – a warning to anyone who likes to let loose their inner hooligan.

The front fender, while I don’t really like the batman ears look, does a fabulous job of keeping dead bugs from accumulating on the forks. On my previous bike (2011 Bonneville) the forks were exposed and after around 8K miles I had to replace the fork seals because the dead bugs calcified and cause wear on the seals.

Modifications: I’ve really only done one modification. I removed the stock mirrors and added bar end mirrors. I did this for two reasons. My primary reason for the bar end mirrors was to get better visibility and my secondary because I like the open look above the handlebars. I also added a small fairing and painted it. I added this small fairing because there are a lot of exposed cables and wiring above the headlight housing and with riding so many highway miles I kill a lot (I mean a lot!) of bugs. Those bugs would’ve gotten trapped in the exposed cabling and wiring making it difficult to remove them.

Killing bugs is easy – cleaning the mess isn’t

Now the bugs die on the small fairing which is a bug ugly, but easier to clean up. One problem I have is that the fairing gets hit by road debris which has chipped the paint job. I’ve had to do some touch up painting to fix some of the larger chips. One more thing I added to help with my commuting was a pair of soft saddle bags. They do detract a bit from the sporty look of the FZ-09, but they also allow me to carry tools and store my cold riding gear (yes it gets down to 30 degrees F here in Arizona in the winter). You can read my initial review of these saddlebags here. They have been discolored from the sun, but they still function very well after all this time. I also attached two ROK straps so I can put my backpack on the back seat. I do this mainly in the summer in the 100+ temperatures. Wearing a backpack makes it very hot and prevents airflow. I’ve been testing a cooling jacket and it works much better when I don’t wear the backpack. The challenge is this unkempt look of the crisscrossing straps and the excess strap material. But, for me it’s acceptable for a quick way to attach my backpack.

Tires: I went through the stock tires in about 8,000 miles and put on the Michelin Pilot Road 4 tires. These tires are getting close to needing to be replaced also, but they’ve given me 14,000 miles so far. They are great tires because of their dual-compound construction. There is harder rubber in the center for the highway riding with softer rubber on the edges for cornering. The combination works well for reducing wear, but the rear tire locks up quickly in hard, straight line braking.

Fun Factor. The fun factor for this bike is pegged at a 12 (on a 1 – 10 scale; 10 being “Can’t believe how much fun this is”). The bike flicks so easily into corners and is as fast as you’ve heard in all the other videos. Not only does it accelerate at an awesome rate, but top speed is so very (dangerously) easy to achieve. After 22+ thousand miles I still look forward to riding this bike to and from work.

Summary: This bike is excellent for both short riders and for those who commute daily long distances. The seating position makes for easier traffic management while the power is unbelievably useful in any situation.

2015 Yamaha FZ-09 22,000-Mile Review - YouTube

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