YouTube

I started a YouTube page a long time ago (not about motorcycles) and it’s accumulated a few subscribers over the year.  Nothing brag-worthy, less than 200 subs, but I’ve had the channel for so long that I was able to see YouTube go through changes ranging from being able to monetize based on the performance of one video rather than a channel to getting custom URLs.

Recently, YouTube went through a major shift due to advertiser complaints.  The result was a change to the rules for content creators.  You have to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the last twelve months, for instance.

But I’m not looking to monetize.  At least, that’s not the goal.  I mean, it would be fun to get to the point where I could monetize and then put every dime earned from making videos featuring motorcycles into a savings account to see how large it could possibly grow before an arbitrary date, but it would be more “fun in an experimental, novel,” way than “this plan is going to pay off my house,” way if that makes sense.

The thing that irked me about YouTube’s shift is that, in order to get a custom URL (that isn’t a string of random characters) you have to have a channel that is at least 30 days old (which is fine), have an uploaded photo as a channel icon (makes sense), have uploaded channel art (obviously), and have 100 subscribers.

That last part is what I don’t like.

I don’t know how the popular YouTube channels are able to unveil their channel to an audience of none and then have a hundred thousand subscribers by the end of the month.  I don’t even know how someone could gain one HUNDRED subscribers in a month!

I did the research, watched, just, so many videos about tagging and key words, responding to comments to build emotional connections between viewer and channel, and how you too can become a YouTube Millionaire, but it was largely a waste of time.  Even YouTube’s own hints about making the best videos you can and having a consistent schedule so people can get excited about watching doesn’t work.

And if I’m being honest with you, I care a little more than I care to admit.

For one thing, it’s kind of like a race to get to the custom URL.  There is no The Planet Grom channel on YouTube outside of my own but there could be and I get a bit anxious when I think about someone else swooping in and taking the name, especially considering all the videos I’ve made with the name in them.

So on one hand, it’s a race to legitimacy.  Once I get the URL, I could make stickers or business cards so when I go out on group rides I can hand them out to the other participants so they know exactly where to go to see their bikes being ridden around me.  It would make everything else easier if it didn’t look like I just started the channel.

But I will admit that I also like seeing the numbers rise.  Subscribers, watch minutes, totals – I’m a sucker for data and numbers and it’s fun to see numbers associated with things that I made.

And it’s a ton of fun interacting with the audience.  It might be an ego boost, but a little validation never hurt anyone.

Anyway, like I said, I don’t know how the bigger channels do it.  Most of my subscribers are friends or members of Team Follow-Back.  One YouTuber said he needed to get around a hundred of his friends and family to subscribe to his channel before he started getting new folks he didn’t know subscribing and you can’t help but remember that you need 100 subscribers to get a real URL, making it easier for anyone to find you and build your base.

It’s a frustrating thing.

Currently I’m at 62 subscribers.  Why not come on over and subscribe yourself?  Go ahead and share the channel on whatever social media you want and let’s get my channel anxiety to go down and we can see where we can take this channel?

I’d appreciate it.

Here’s a link to my YouTube page that’s shorter than the channel’s URL now!

What is a Motorcycle Bell?

Motorcycle heritage intrigues me.  I wouldn’t say I’m the type who goes looking for heritage to adhere myself to, perhaps as a way of finding an identity in the values and habits of those before me, but I’m also not the type to eschew older stuff just because it’s old.

I would say I’m practical, if anything.  I like to do my research and come away either liking or disliking whatever it was based on whether or not I have any use for it personally.

But motorcycle bells?  They’re a little different, because they might not be for you at all.  Or, if they are, they may not be what they’re pitched as.  Check out my video and see what I mean:

In Defense of a Honda Ruckus

Motorcycle.com recently published an article about scooters and how motorcyclists are basically too quick to dismiss them.  While the article’s points of scooters being more powerful than the common 49cc, more fun to drive than one might expect, and a way to keep riding after suffering some injuries, the comment section was ablaze with derogatory comments about scooters.

The most interesting one, though, was from a guy who suggested that it’s wise to look into maintenance costs of a scooter since they’re sometimes expensive to keep running and scooter people aren’t likely to work on their own stuff.

I took issue with this generalization.  Perhaps I’m in the minority because I see an awful lot of people riding around on stock scooters, dirty and beat to hell, so perhaps he’s onto something.  Maybe the price of typical low-power scooters is low enough for the rider to value it less than, say, a $10,000 bike.  Maybe it’s looked at as a toy or just something to use and abuse before throwing away.

But mine isn’t.

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Here’s a stock “before” pic and what it currently looks like(ish).  I still have a long way to go to get it where I want.

Actually, mine is something else entirely.  For one thing, it was expensive for a scooter.  But for another thing, I learned all sorts of mechanical stuff on my Ruckus.

I’ve always wanted to get into mechanical things, but was daunted by the traditional way of cars.  Cars are physically imposing, parts are heavy and numerous, and it just seems intimidating.

But a Ruckus is none of those things.  There are few parts, the bike itself is small, it’s only a little heavy, and it’s pretty affordable to work on it with tangible results.

I dove right in.  Within the first week I had parts ordered and began working on it.  It was little things at first: Lowering the seat, adding forward pegs, bar-end mirrors, etc.  With every small project, my confidence grew.  I became more of an active member on Ruckus Facebook pages (particularly my local one) and TotalRuckus.com where folks are beyond helpful and were nothing but patient with me and my questions that I’m sure they’ve seen a billion times.

After a while, I felt like I was ready for the first serious modification: new handlebars.  If you do any research into the project, you’ll see it’s got quite a footprint on the web for being a bit of a pain.

When that was all done, I tackled the stretch which turned into a pretty serious project (and why wouldn’t it? There’s a crazy amount of changes being made with second and third-order effects).  Along the way, the carburetor needed to be re-jet and that was my introduction to the inner workings of the bike – the guts of it all beyond stuff I can bolt onto the bike.

It was scary to get into, but I learned so much – mostly from screwing up.  But with the support system of Ruckus aficionados, I was able to get through it and now I’m less intimidated by the prospect of not only re-jetting, but getting into just about anything.  I feel like I can do just about anything if I read the instructions and have an expert or two to help with any questions I have.

So maybe typical scooters can’t go very fast (mine tops out at 42 on a good day), and perhaps some scooter riders are abusing them until they die, but there are others like me who are learning on them and that’s pretty cool.

Additionally, a friend of mine recently came home from a lengthy trip and his 11-year-old son has been going on and on about getting a dirt bike.  The father isn’t against this by any means but he mentioned my Ruckus to the son and they fell down a YouTube hole of modified Rucks and came out the other side with a bunch of questions.

It sounded to me like the father was looking for a project to do with his son and, honestly, I couldn’t imagine a better one.  The Ruckus can be changed so drastically looks-wise for relatively little money and the mechanical stuff isn’t the hardest in the world.  It could be a pretty valuable learning process for both father and son and at the end of it, the Ruckus would be something fun to bomb around on.

As a kid, I would have loved to do something like this.