I write stuff. A lot of it is about cars and motorcycles.

Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for TechCentralStation.com. Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.

Middle Child

2014 Chevrolet Camaro SS

In certain parts of the country, the way you show your family and friends that you’ve hit the big time is to buy yourself a double-wide mobile home and a Chevy Camaro. In these politically correct times, it’s not polite to mention this stereotype, of course. But it’s so prevalent that it’s hard not to do so. For instance, I couldn’t even avoid it in the first sentence of this review.

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Your Craigslist ad sucks

Have you ever tried to sell a car or motorcycle on craigslist and wondered why no one called you? There’s probably a simple explanation for that: Your Craigslist ad sucks. Think about it. You’re trying to get a total stranger to come to your house and give you thousands of dollars. If you expect that to happen, you have to take the time to create an ad that provokes enough interest in your car or bike to make somebody at least give you a call. Show a minimal amount of effort, for crying out loud! Here’s a few tips.

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Bland Ambition

2013 Chrysler 200 Touring Review

Chrysler is a brand of cars that I just don’t understand. They only make four models of car, and, really, those cars are just rebadged Dodges. The mechanicals are all the same, and so are the materials used in the interiors. The only difference between the Chrysler and Dodge versions of a car is that the Dodge incorporates exterior styling that makes it look like it wouldn’t mind slitting a few throats if it got bored. Chryslers have softer exterior styling, and look a little less blue-collar than Dodges on the inside.

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2013 Orange County International Auto Show

Today was the first full day of the Orange County International Auto Show. Thankfully, I was able to free up my schedule to attend. So, what follows is a whole lot of photos of the show, along with my rather occasionally insightful—but mainly disrespectful—comments. Come for the photos. Stay for the snark. All of the photos are clickable, linked to the full-sized, hi-resolution originals.

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The Beast

So, the folks at KTM appear to have gone a bit loony. Today, they announced they will be producing a new naked bike, the 1290 SuperDuke R, which will have 180 HP. They call it “The Beast”.  There will be no fairing. No wind protection. Nothing, in fact, to prevent the force of air from pushing you off the rear of the bike if you open the throttle all the way, other than the death-like grip you’ll need on the handlebars to stay seated.

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Running With the Devil

2013 Ducati Diavel Carbon Review

Two years ago, Ducati apparently decided that making racing bikes and superfast hypermotards wasn’t enough for them. Perhaps they felt that the racing bike market was too limited for them. Perhaps they felt that people weren’t buying hypermotards because “hypermotard” is a stupid name that makes you think the motorcycle is developmentally disabled. In any event, Ducati wanted to break into the cruiser market, and more specifically, the power-cruiser market, which is dominated by the Yamaha V-Max and the…uh…well, the Yamaha V-Max.

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Ducati Diavel Pics

I have a review of the Ducati Diavel coming up in a few days. I’ll have a lot to say about it in the actual review.  In the meantime, here’s a photo gallery of the pics I took for the review. Continue reading

The Crushing Disappointment of Quality

2014 Ford Fiesta ST Review

When you review cars, the good cars are the worst. You see, bad cars allow you to get snarky. You get a chance to gleefully rip years of work by thousands of people into utter shreds. You can reach for colorful metaphors involving the incompetence, ancestry, and probable spiritual destination of everyone involved in the car’s production. You can make fun of the vehicle’s clownish face, and go on for paragraphs about turbo lag, slow shifting, bad suspension, and cheap plastic dashboards.

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Doctor Hoon

2013 Mini John Cooper Works GP

At about the same time that Britain was giving us Doctor Who, they also gave us the original Mini. Badly underpowered by today’s standards, it was so responsive and fun that it quickly became the original hot hatch, and began tearing up rally and racing tracks all over Europe. The years have been more or less kind to both British cultural icons. Doctor Who is in its tenth or eleventh incarnation on TV, and Minis are being built again in Old Blighty. Happily, rather than being built by British Leyland communists in the Midlands, the Mini is now built by Germans in Oxfordshire, which means when you go out to start it in the morning…it will.

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A Buell Sportbike for the Rest of Us?

Erik Buell left—or, more properly—was kicked out of Harley-Davidson in 2009. A non-compete agreement kept out of making streetbikes for several months, but he came back with the 1190RS when he was able. But, since he only made 100 of them, and they cost forty grand, you didn’t get one and I didn’t either. But, based on an announcement today—and securing some financing from GE capital and a partnership with Indian motorcycle giant Hero MotoCorp, that may be changing.

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Save It for the Weekend

2013 Jeep Wrangler Review

If you want to talk about the classic, go-anywhere, do-anything American off-roader, the only vehicle to discuss is the Jeep Wrangler. Since World War II, it’s been an American icon, and unlike many American icons, it actually does exactly what it’s supposed to do—like rock climbing on the Rubicon Trail—very well. Roads, dirt roads, or no roads, the Wrangler will still take you there.

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Reforming English

Dreaming an Impossible Dream

One of my personal little personality quirks is a deep sense of privacy. I mean, I’m civil enough, I suppose, but deep down, I don’t really trust people very much, and I don’t want them to know much about what I’m thinking or doing. For instance, because I have to attend meetings and take lots of notes, I don’t want people to see what I’m writing. But, I also don’t want to be the wierdo who’s obviously guarding his notes from the prying eyes of the other meeting attendees.

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Italy’s Re-Entry Vehicle

2013 Fiat 500 Abarth Review

Italian cars have a bit of a reputation, and it’s both good and bad. The good part of their reputation is that they’re usually pretty, and fun to drive. There’s something that the Italians and their automotive engineers just get about the act of driving, and about how a car should look. The bad part of their reputation is that they don’t get everything else about cars, like, say, reliability. The bad part of that reputation has lingered in the US, because Fiat and Lancia bid goodbye to these shores in the early 1980s after a series of disastrously unreliable cars, followed by Alfa Romeo in the early 1990s.

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A Touch of Milano

2013 Dodge Dart Review

Jeremy Clarkson, the host of BBC’s Top Gear, often says that you can’t really call yourself a car person if you’ve never owned an Alfa Romeo. Having been fortunate enough to have had an ‘84 Spider 2000 for a while, I agree fully.

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A cylinder for each wheel

Can-Am gives the 2014 Spyder a triple

I have a soft spot for the Can-Am Spyder. Back when the original Spyder was announced, I was able to get a ride on one—even before they were publically available—after years of not having ridden a motorcycle. I didn’t even have a motorcycle license then, but, fortunately, California doesn’t require one to ride trikes. After my ride, I was so pleased with the experience, I got my motorcycle license back, and bought a motorcycle—though not a Spyder. But it was the vehicle that got me back into motorcycling, so I’ve always loved it.

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