Hello Scrambler

arun-hello-scrambler***Note*** Sean MacDonald of Cycle World, formerly of Jalopnik, asked me to write an article for the MotoCorsa (Portland, OR) custom Ducati Scrambler build.  He published it as a Q&A to showcase the shop’s sense of humor and it went over very well with his readership!

Here is the original published page: http://lanesplitter.jalopnik.com/youve-never-seen-a-custom-bike-like-this-hello-kitty-th-1756050313


First thing first: Why?

Because motorcycling is inherently a spirited lifestyle which tends to draw in the outlaw, color-out-of-the-borders, free spirit side of those of us who pay our dues by riding in the hectic world of day-to-day commuting. Yes, it’s a choice for most of us but no part of it dictates that it ought to be a boring one.  While we understand the innately attractive draw of the shiny black paint atop mounds of chrome powered by super-turbo-nitro shot fire breathing engines, we also completely get the desire to stand the fuck out.

That’s our specialty: standing out.

Why pink? Because fuck you; that’s why.  Have you seen the visceral reactions the bike gets from everyone, both good and bad?  It’s mouth-watering.  We’ve seen people give it the thumbs up and seen people flip it the bird.  Good! We like it that way! Your matching Klim gear mounted on top of the latest ADV-SUV asphalt guzzler gets lost in a sea of knobby tires while our beloved Hello Scrambler stands out like a pink beacon of hope that there’s still a chance you can be a rebel on a motorcycle.

Arun Sharma, the leader of this motley crew at MotoCorsa had the idea of a pink bike, first.  It got shit-canned as soon as it was suggested, too.  That’s how neck-deep most of us were in the shiny/carbon fiber/titanium/black paint mindset.

“Let’s do plaid surfaces with organic sustainable paints and rubber made out of reused rubbers that were once recycled” or so the suggestion polls went in the initial meetings.  The idea of making a bike look as Pacific Northwestern as possible was tossed around for a week or two.  Then it seemed boring.

“Let’s do a hill climber! That’ll do it!” “Let’s do a side-car rig!” and so it went on and on, in circles. Arun stood by, watching the hurricane of brainstorms clash and smash our heads back and forth until it came full circle back to the pink bike.  There was a bit of worry about the motorcycling community pulling a full on Frankenstein story, regaled with pitchforks and fires ready to burn us down the ground for defacing the very dream of motorcycling, by painting a Ducati pink!

There were many late night after work hours which were contributed by the boys and girls of the parts and service department along with their better half partners who contributed to every single detail.  Ultimately, we wanted the Scrambler to look like it was designed by a committee board of a major toy manufacturer that wanted it to be sales-ready at the local Toys R Us and we hit that nail right on the head.  A customer walked in with his 2 year old little girl and she lit up and ran to it and just HAD to climb up on the thing.  She loved the loud squeeze horn on the handlebar and the training wheels on the back and everything she came into contact with on the bike.

I think there’s a long line of CorsaCrew who want to ride the thing.  We all have aspirations of grandeur on the bike.  One wants to do a rolling burnout.  One wants to wheelie it up and down the fashionable NW 23rd St in Portland’s shopping district.  One wants to ship it out to Florida, this coming March, and take it to Daytona Bike Week.

Mostly, we all want to be around it because it gets such strong reactions from every single pair of eyes that lay on it. It’s an ice and mold breaker and, in typical MotoCorsa and Arun fashion, it blew everyone’s idea of what a motorcycle ought to look and behave like out of the water and that’s exactly what we were trying to achieve.  So, while everyone else touts high-power, low weight machines that dazzles the wanna-be cool guys out there, we are making the true believers giggle and the non-believers shake their heads in ridicule – and isn’t that exactly what motorcycling has always been about?  Nonconformity!

Star Gazing

The truck, a Nissan Patrol, was cruising through the Iranian night at a casual pace and the world was filled with stars, clouds, and tree tops rushing past my eyes.  My 8 year old eyes hadn’t seen the world just yet, but the sky was always the limit and it was clearly visible that night.  An unbroken gaze with it would reveal more stars with the lack of light pollution in my periphery.

The motorcycle, a Ducati Multistrada packed with camping gear, was cruising through the mist laden narrow road, cutting through the Cascades.  My 37 year old eyes had seen the world, and in the wet road ahead things cleared up, one mile at a time.  Miles, a Navy vet who I work with, led the way at a safely brisk pace on his Multistrada.  There is something soothing about the symphonic melody of the Italian built L-twin motor and, if you’re not careful, it can put you into a trance. 

Miles, not afraid of the rain!

Miles, not afraid of the rain!

The Nissan Patrol hummed along the highway and my father would, from time to time, look back into the truck bed to see me blissfully star gazing.  Creedence Clearwater Revival was barely audible over the noise of the inline-6 work truck engine.  There were no bills to be paid, or deadlines to be met.  There were fleeting thoughts of what the future might bring, easily distracted by the Milky Way’s appearance across the night sky.  I bundled up, more, in my make-shift bed of comforters and pillows that my dad had arranged in the back of the Patrol.

The rain wouldn’t let up nor be agitating enough to complain about and our rain proof gear was doing a good job keeping us warm and dry in the cool early June Oregon morning.  The freedom of coming to peace with a situation is empowering.  Miles pushed along and missed the turn-off for Rte 242, McKenzie Pass.  I laughed in my helmet because I knew just the sort of zone he was in, looking forward and through the trees that lined the very green Cascades.  Two gears down and I passed him and motioned for a U-turn.  He let me lead us through the pass, but I had to stop.  The Douglas Firs were like green and brown giants, towering over these two small and seemingly insignificant mortals.  Miles understood the zone I was in, in full admiration of what’s above.

The bottom, west entry, of McKenzie Pass. 

The bottom, west entry, of McKenzie Pass. 

The ghost of my past isn’t an angry apparition brimmed with war filled rage, as it should be.  It’s a wraith, warm with memories of blankets and pillows in the back of pickup trucks, classic rock’n’roll and the crisp voice of my dad, telling me stories of riding motorcycles in the open roads of pre-Khomeini era Iran with a pretty girl on the back.  The pretty girl who I dreamt about, nightly, as a distant memory of a mother’s embrace. 

At the top of McKenzie Pass, the scenery shocked our senses and took the shape of what I imagine the moon would look like, if I somehow managed to ride Archie, the Multistrada, through its rocky terrain.  Miles and I, tried desperately, to communicate through wild gesticulations and gestures that there’s a sight to behold ahead.  The Dee Wright Observatory, a seemingly medieval guard tower on top of the moon, stuck out above the fog and mist and we had to dismount to discover.  The waterproof motorcycle gear proved a sanctuary of warmth while the wind and fog blew around us, undeterred and impervious to its nagging.

The cab of the truck cut through the wind and kept me oblivious to the highway wind.  Snuggled, as a kid shamelessly does, in my fort of pillows and blankets I wondered about my dream girl, angel of American toys, and motherly beauty.  I worried about atomic bombs and schools that were ruled by stick and ruler wielding nuns, who’d hit you if you didn’t eat your meat and veggies.  How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?  Pink Floyd wasn’t a name to me.  Just a sound that felt good in my ears.

Down McKenzie Pass we went, the pace picking up as the tight switch-backs gave way to lazy turns, best enjoyed in accelerated motions, and the fog and rain slowly gave way to warmth and sunshine.  Welcome to Sisters, Oregon, full of trinket laden store fronts being browsed by trailer dragging, SUV driving retirees.  The sensation of dryness, and the lazy comfort it brought, led us to an instantaneous desire for sustenance.  Pizza and soda is a great way to celebrate sunshine and tourists.  On the other side of my phone was the sweet voice of my Valentine, Ann.  She was glad that we were safely eating pizza in a town she’s never been to, but promised to see it all with me.  That’s the sort of promise I can get behind.

The Nissan Patrol came to a squeaky-brake stop and I woke up to the sound of my dad.  The trip was over and it was time to go to bed.  The sweet warmth of my truck bed camp-out was so good that I remember not wanting to leave, but got up and went to bed.  Or I was carried.  The next day, I woke up and immediately missed being on the road.  The stars are so much brighter on a dark road in the middle of nowhere. 

Miles and I worked our way through the sunshine of central Oregon high desert, looking to pitch a tent near a body of water.  The destination was Cove Palisades State Park.  On the map, it looked like two bodies of water that converged together making it look like someone drew an upside down peace sign hand gesture.  In the middle of the desert, any shaped water feature seems like a good idea.  Greeted by the sight of the grandly carved canyon filled with the green-turquoise waters made us audibly laugh in our helmets.  My old friend, the Milky Way, showed its face that night and I forgot about my bills, my deadlines or responsibilities for a few hours.

Cove Palisades State Park.

Cove Palisades State Park.

Wanderlust – noun: A strong desire to travel.  And maybe see more stars, in the sky, than I possibly could in crowded cities of lights, horns and loud music.  Thanks for the truck rides, dad.  They fill my dreams with memories of the wind, the hum of an engine and miles of stars.  

Archie the Multistrada, my favorite form of transportation, and stars as far as the eye could see in the Oregon high desert. 

Archie the Multistrada, my favorite form of transportation, and stars as far as the eye could see in the Oregon high desert. 

Biker Wave

How do you explain the inexplicable to people who want so badly to understand but lack the simple rite of passage to listen out of fear of learning something that may take them beyond the boundaries of their self afflicted box? Do you put on blinders like a horse set on his destination of forward motion, led by a horseman with a gentle whip, galloping along without need to see, or know, who sees what on the sidelines or do you open your eyes and mind and mouth and try, as a calm kindergarten teacher might to tell her children that drawing outside the lines is not a broken law and don’t fear the pencil and paper and draw, my child, draw the world as you see it; with pink clouds and turquoise skies and blue grass and sheep that are colored like the rainbow and you will not feel the hatred of the world for seeing things with an open mind. That black is beautiful and white is peaceful and brown can make you feel warm and red will bring you passion and yellow will help you see the way. That one day you’ll wake up, a man, and hop on your two wheeled machine and feel, for once, what the wind really is trying to tell you as it passes your ears and you smile because you understand humility and mortality and camaraderie as you wave at another fellow and not care about his beliefs and systems and thoughts because for one split second all you two know is that there is something holding you as friends, for one heartbeat, and you wave at one another, left hands outstretched as if to touch one another in this blistering speed.  You know in your heart of hearts that you felt a spark of electricity flow through the air and connect the pair of you and it’s gone from the air as you boom past one another, hearts beating as the motorcycle pulls you to a destination of fun and facts and opinions and love and laughter. And it doesn’t matter that your body hurts from the long haul because your heart feels refreshed enough to turn on the TV and see and hear and deal with the hate and misunderstandings and the pleading look on your favorite news anchor’s eyes, wishing she could choke the idiots who still think that debating about human health and well being is acceptable while your heart beats for the day that we’ll all get along and you won’t have to explain to the blind stares of a million pairs of eyes why you think color and creed and belief aren’t ways to dictate who’s just and who’s not.   

Quad Lock phone mount.


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It’s fair to say that most of us, by now, have moved on from the once fashionable flip phones to the world of the do-it-all smart devices.  This has had many pros (and a few cons, but we aren’t here to talk about that, dear “I have to check my Facebook while driving” drivers).  One of the obvious advantages of having these large, crystal clear, high resolution screens is the very useful GPS add-on feature, whether it be through Google Maps, Waze, or which ever newest software is available.  It sure as heck beats having to pre-plan your ride, using a map and written directions.  (As a note, I would always suggest taking a map because sometimes you end up in the middle-of-nowhere Kansas where the phone is about as useful as a rock)


The irony of having an electronic leash attached to the one piece of freedom hasn’t escaped me but, still, reality is that every single one of us has a phone nowadays.  I’ll just stick to the idea that it’s for location services, only, and move right along.


There are a myriad of options on how to mount your favorite phone to your favorite steed and they range from articulated arms to flimsy nylon and plastic pieces.  While browsing through the Interwebz I came across a once little company by the name of Quad Lock Mounting Systems (www.quadlockcase.com).  They specialize in the active lifestyles, which might need use of their modern phones.  What drew my attention was the sheer simplicity of the Quad Lock design. It’s a four-sided slide-mount with a spring lock, which allows for quick on/off mounting operation.  Simplicity may mean a lack of tendency for failure.  I didn’t find anything specific to motorcycling – are you reading, QD? – but, they do have an adhesive option, which would allow you to post their nifty mount to just about any surface.  If your motorcycle’s handlebar is the round one-piece type, then the bicycle option would easily work for you, as it has for us.  The phone attaches to the locking system via a hard and protective case which the phone sits in, with an optional waterproof top cover just in case your phone isn’t already a waterproof unit.

The mount is small with a simple design, for bicycles, but applicable for those of us with handlebars. 

The mount is small with a simple design, for bicycles, but applicable for those of us with handlebars. 

The phone will sit either horizontally or vertically, depending on your preference. 

The phone will sit either horizontally or vertically, depending on your preference. 

Convenience in a small and useable package. 

Convenience in a small and useable package. 

Although made for bicycle applications, once properly mounted on your motorcycle, the design is pretty fantastic for GPS application usage of your smartphone device. 

Although made for bicycle applications, once properly mounted on your motorcycle, the design is pretty fantastic for GPS application usage of your smartphone device. 


There is even a car mount, which uses a large lever type suction cup to mount the device to the windshield of your car, so it’s pretty easy to transition from motorcycle to car to belt buckle, as their options list is pretty great.  Overall, it’s a nifty device for a very reasonable price and it works, well. 

The never ending debate of “best BBQ”

Who’s to say where you can find the best piece of slow cooked meat in the continental US?  We’ve been all over this beautiful plot of land and have had the fortune to eat as much food as we could stuff in our faces.  Sometimes great and sometimes OK, at best, but always served by a smiling face that’s been proud of their wares.  The real trick is to try to give patronage to the small mom-and-pop joints and feel the spirit of eating with a family.  That’s the whole point, isn’t it? If you have a “home made meal” somewhere in the middle of nowhere America, you’re essentially having a family meal prepared by a fellow human, enjoyed in the company of others. 

So, back to the original question: best BBQ, and who has it?

It’s hard to find a place, if not by the help of Food Network pop stars, that’s got the whole thing figured out.  You might find the best ribs in one place and the best brisket in the next.  This isn’t a bad thing.  It’s a chance to continuously search and have a food-venture on your motorcycle.  What better pay off than to wonder just how you’re going to zip that Alpinestars jacket, right after that final scoop of banana pudding?

We found one and it’s named Botto BBQ (2204 NW Roosevelt, Portland, OR 97210 – Phone number (503) 354-7748).  It’s a food cart, hidden between a Crossfit gym and a paint department store.  There’s no other food place in the street.  The location makes no sense until you understand that Darren, the owner, also does catering so this is just kind of a start-up.  A block and a half away is the country’s number one Ducati dealership. Another block, the other way, is a building full of Amazon employees.  Let’s not forget the Crossfit gym where, after the hectic WOD, people might want some juicy ribs.  Or fatty brisket.  Or home made hot dogs.  Or. Or. Or…  Order anything.  You won’t be disappointed.  It’s that good.


Perfectly seasoned ribs that fall off of the bone.  Bring your appetite!

Perfectly seasoned ribs that fall off of the bone.  Bring your appetite!

Found By Braap – Rodney Rouse

The braaaap found me at the best time in my life. Far removed from the swampy concrete jungle of the past decade. In a new place without friends or family and reeking of outsider in a new area that was a few parts insular and a large part American dream of kids-house-church.  The area was perfectly poised to awake anyone’s sense of adventure. It was beautiful, raw, packed full of dramatic exaggerations that your eyes refused to believe and I seethed with the desire to explore every inch of it.


The excitement found in exploring this place was unparalleled by any earlier life experiences. One day there were snowy back roads climbing through quite, contemplative mountains. Next there’s swooping downhill mountain biking with the brisk winter wind chill reminding you that yeah, you’re alive, and this is pretty fucking great. It was an awakening, a second wind found just in time, providing energy and purpose long missing. I wanted to punch Florida in the face, travel back in time, and punch myself in the face for staying so long. I bought a motorcycle instead.


My girlfriend calls it the green hornet. She says it’s cute. I like to think of my 2015 KLR 650 as the ultimate vehicle to survive the apocalypse, provide never-ending opportunities for adventure, and bullet-proof enough for me to beat the hell out of it on every Oregon back road I can find. I tell her that it’s cute now, but she will need to revaluate when our robot overlords rise and we use the KLR to escape to Canada.  Everyone knows Robots want nothing to do with Canada, too much love and hockey and bacon. 


So now I braaaap with you, my friends.

Burning gas

I’ve broken down and leased an EV (Electric Vehicle).  I had promised myself that this would never happen – that the sound of an internal combustion motor was going to be a mainstay in my life.  I wanted to always feel the torque build up as I wait for just the right time to shift into the next gear and ride the power wave of that fossil fuel burning mega machine and hear it crackle and pop as I decelerate and downshift in anticipation of the next sharp curve.  And then I realized something: In order to keep the fuel burning mega-hot-rods and motorcycles alive, we’ve got to find a way to make our daily commuting a cleaner effort. 

So I signed the dotted line and found myself in the driver’s seat of a bright blue, with angry blacked out “look at me, I’m sporty!” headlights and wheels, Fiat 500e.  Not a single head is left unturned when yours truly listens to heavy metal and quietly slips through the streets of peaceful Portland, OR.  I average 85 miles to the charge and my house electric bill has skyrocketed a mere $2.00 per month with the nightly charging of the Celeste Blu (not a misspell, that’s the advertised color name) not-rod, Buzz Light Beard.

Driving the quietest car on the road has somehow given me an excuse to ride perhaps the loudest motorcycle on the same public roadway with the ever-ready answer to whomever may stop me to lambast the bass boom-boom exhaust note of my fire-breathing Ducati.  I have an eco-friendly car, damn it, and I can “braap” all I want to! Plus, what’s a 5 gallon gas-tank when it gives you nearly 200 miles of joy through a myriad of curves, apexes, and blind corners? 

So, with pride, do I find myself plugging Buzz Light Beard into the garage for another day of quiet, clean, commuting with hopes that the energy required to make the electricity to run the little blue not-rod is less damaging than what fumes a turbo-charged high horsepower car may be doing to our little blue planet.