Those that guessed the "mystery" photo in my previous post ("Preview") is part of a motorcycle - you are correct. In fact, it is a velocity stack to a Harley Davidson (actually, this one is a custom, but for the sake of this discussion…). I took the photo today at the Easyriders V-Twin Bike Show Tour in the Sacramento Convention Center. Between the bikes parked outside and those on display inside there were literally thousands of motorcycles there - most of them Harleys. Of course, custom accessory manufacturers, apparel companies and all kinds of other peripheral business interests that could tap into this multi-billion dollar industry were showing their wares as well.
What’s a velocity stack? Well, I’m glad you asked!
A velocity stack is part of, or might be used in place of the air cleaner for a gasoline (or equivalent)-powered internal combustion engine. As the air enters the outer bell-shaped opening, it is funneled down to a smaller exit before entering the carburetor or the throttle body (if fuel-injected). At this point, the basic principles of physics take over – since the same volume of air that enters must exit, the speed of the air must increase to make up for the decreased space in which it is able to travel. In other words, it speeds the air up, allowing for better air flow. Maximizing the air flow through an engine is the key to better performance. More air and fuel equals more power. More power equals… well, you get the picture.
The photo in the "tease" post ("Preview," below) is looking directly into the velocity stack. I was on my way out – it is one of the last photos I snapped. It was the shot, not the bike that was calling to me. On either side of the stack the twin sides of the motor’s “V” can be seen. The bike was like most of the others – shiny, clean and glistening from polished chrome. This particular one had the theme of the local NBA franchise, the Sacramento Kings. It was impressive, even in a sea of impressive bikes.
This is the second year in a row I’ve attended this show. It was pretty much the same as last year. Mostly the same vendors, some with the same scantily clad women, were advertising their merchandise. Even a few of the bikes were returnees from last year. It was still, however, simply remarkable how much cold hard cash is represented by each one of these bikes. Many - strike that - most of them would carry a price tag well in excess of $50,000. Well in excess. And that’s not even counting the bikes that were outside, some sporting comparably lofty price tags, waiting for their owners to return and ride them home.
I am a newbie at all this. Although I’ve owned several motorcycles and have had a motorcycle license for many years, for most of that time, owning and riding a Harley was only a dream; a dream I've had as long as I can remember. The mystique has always been just out of reach. Until a little over a year ago, I could only imagine. I can report today that the mystique is everything I dreamed of and so very much more. The sound, the presence, the look… and the chrome, everything that I admired so much about these American legends is not just hype. It’s real and I get to relive it every time I fire my bike up.
In the world of Harleys, my bike is the lowest rung of the model line. It is the smallest, least expensive, entry-level bike available. It is not the one I wanted or is it the one I will end up with. But it's a Harley. It has two cylinders - one in the front and one in the back. It was available at a price and terms I couldn’t refuse. I got me back on two wheels much sooner than I had hoped. Sooner than I had dared to hope. And although it may be on the bottom of the heap as far as Harleys are concerned - in the world of motorcycles - it’s a Harley. It’s mine. And I get to participate in the mystique.
And that... is enough. More than enough.