somewhat daily mutterings

/Motorcycling Schuberth C2 Review

I've posted a review of the Schuberth C2 helmet. The review is a work in progress. Eventually I'll have plenty of side-by-side pictures of it with the Concept, for comparison purposes.

Posted: Thu Oct 06 07:12:20 -0700 2005

/Motorcycling New BMW: F800S

webBikeWorld has a story on the upcoming BMW F800S, BMW's first inline twin (a Rotax engine). I'm pretty excited to ride this bike. Oh yes, I am.

Posted: Thu Oct 06 07:08:48 -0700 2005

/Motorcycling A Motorcycle Airbag?

From the "who woulda thunk it?" department: webBikeWorld reports the development of the Honda Motorcycle Airbag. No mention of a three-point seatbelt or passenger airbag (although I suppose the driver could play that role, har har).

Posted: Fri Sep 09 08:30:35 -0700 2005

/Motorcycling I'm an FJR1300

Or, so says the survey. This is fine by me, since that's a bike I often consider buying (sorry Goblin).

Yamaha FJR1300
You scored -3 moxie, 8 zeal, and -1 pomp!
You have the characteristics of a master street rider. On the way to work, your love for riding sometimes leads you to take the long way. The 50-miles-of-back-roads long way. You live for the perfect road, and plan vacations around riding.

You need a bike that can handle your addiction to the twisties as well as comfortably carry two on a weekend trip through the mountains. Your bike is the FJR1300. Can I borrow it someday?




My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 2% on moxie
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 72% on zeal
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 13% on pomp
Link: The Motorcycle Personality Test written by iocaine on OkCupid Free Online Dating

Posted: Fri Jun 17 19:52:39 -0700 2005

/Motorcycling Test Riding the R1200ST

Today offered up the most perfect riding weather imaginable — 70-75o and partly cloudy. So, I suited up and headed out on The Goblin to run a couple of errands, and more importantly, to visit my BMW dealership. Mainly I wanted to check out the new Schuberth helmet (the C2), and to maybe sit on a few bikes. However, as it often goes, the salesman saw me sitting on an R1200ST and immediately said "wanna ride it?". Uh yeah.

My first impression upon mounting the bike is that of lightness. The bodywork takes up a decent amount of space, and gives the bike the look of heft. However, when bringing it off the sidestand I was amazed at how light it felt. It feels very much like an R1100S (more on that to come).

No matter how many times I ride an R-bike, I'm always a little surprised by how they feel and sound taking off from a stop. This time was no different. The bike felt as though it was really lugging at the beginning, and then settled into the familiar boxer drone. I suppose my throttle hand is conditioned to a four-cylinder takeoff, so perhaps I just need to feed the two-bangers more go juice when getting underway. However, once underway, I was happily reminded of what I like about R-bike engines — they never feel or sound as though they're working, and they always offer up great torque.

I immediately felt a little cramped on the ST. The rearview mirrors seemed as though they were sitting on top of my shoulders, and the legroom felt tight. I assume that the seat hight is adjustable, and was likely in the lower position, so I won't hold that against the bike. I also eventually got fairly used to the mirror position. What it comes down to is that the bike has a very "short" front-end (like the R1100S), while my bike definitely does not. This short front end translates into a very light-handling bike, but not squirrely in the least.

The suspension was taut and did a great job over the sometimes very bumpy pavement of the Denver Tech Center, where I do my test rides. A couple of spins through my favorite section of the DTC left me with that familiar point-and-shoot feeling that the R1100S always gives me. The acceleration was great. The R engine is so unflappable and calm, I bumped into the soft rev-limiter once, in first gear, and it totally surprised me. The torque of the engine is great, and the gearing is good (I think I'd like a lower first). I spent most of my time in the DTC in second gear. It almost seems as if BMW could ship it with no gearbox — they could just set it to 2nd at the factory. That's something that makes R-bikes great city bikes, in my opinion.

Something else I've noticed about the new crop of BMWs is that they seem to have perfected the art of the motorcyle seat. Both the ST and the K1200S have very comfortable seats that don't look as though they should be. The seats have just the right amount of firm padding, but not so much that it gets in the way of your legs. When I remounted my K1100RS the seat felt like a beanbag chair by comparison. Matter of fact, this is one of the few times when I've ridden a newer bike, and my K1100RS felt positively antique when I got back on. Uh oh.

Even though it may seem as though I really loved this bike, I actually didn't. I was left feeling that it was "nice". I don't know why, exactly. Perhaps the lightness, which should be a positive attribute, turned me off. I'm sure the cramped leg room had something to do with my overall feeling about the bike, even though I said I wouldn't hold that against it. I'll have to ride one again with the seat properly adjusted, for sure.

Ups

  • Great, flexible engine
  • Comfortable seat
  • Mostly good looks

Downs

  • Stupid, hard to read, oval speedometer, with a poorly chosen font for the numbers
  • Ugly headlight (to me, anyway)
  • Maybe not enough legroom
  • Typical noisy BMW power brakes

Posted: Sat Jun 11 15:06:28 -0700 2005

/Motorcycling First Downtown Commutes

The weather finally allowed a couple of motorcycle commutes to my new job downtown. The morning rides were in around 30 degree temperatures, but I was comfy in my winter gear (none of it heated, and no heated grips, either). The morning commute is fine, since I leave pretty early. The only really shakey part is when I have to cross railroad tracks on Santa Fe. There is one set that crosses at about a 45 degree angle, and the tracks themselves are in horrifically poor condition, with wide gaps and a very rough crossing. I always approach these tracks from the left side of my lane and cut across my lane to the right as I cross, to try to cut down on the angle. No problems yet, but it's pretty nerve-racking just the same.

Unfortunately, I have to admit that the ride home is no fun at all, since I tend to leave during rush hour. Thursday was the worst, when I left at 5:00. It was stop-n-go all the way, and just no fun at all. The ride home almost makes the ride in not worth it. I'm predicting I'll ride in maybe once a week over the next few months. That means I need to start riding more on the weekends.

Posted: Tue Mar 02 19:58:49 -0800 2004

/Motorcycling Funny Sound Fixed

Over the last couple of weeks, my bike had started to sound a bit odd. It was louder than usual, and was backfiring a bit, but overall it wasn't consistent and I thought maybe I was just being oversensitive. Over the last week it seemed to get worse, so I put some real thought into it. I finally decided it must be an exhaust leak. I took it up to the dealership last Wednesday, and the service manager confirmed my guess and even showed me which header bolts were loose.

Wednesday evening I removed the fairing lower in order to just snug up the bolts a bit. Turns out I have virtually every size of metric socket except 12mm, which is exactly what the Beemer needs, so I couldn't actually do anything. I decided to go out and buy a new socket set and torque wrench for the job.

So, yesterday, I treated myself to a new Craftsman socket set (I've had my old one since I was about 14 years old), and a nice Craftsman torque wrench. I really treated myself on the wrench, since I went for the "micro tourque" model, which has a torque release, rather than just a torque meter (it would have been very hard to read a meter with the wrench upside-down and that close to the ground). Well, tools really make the difference, and I had the exhaust nuts snugged up quickly. I went ahead and re-torqued all of them for good measure.

I went out today for a ride around town, and sure enough the odd sounds and backfiring were gone. Score one for the weekend warrior!

Posted: Sun Dec 07 10:18:47 -0800 2003

/Motorcycling Finally, a BMW Top Box!

My search is finally over. Once I'd seen this cool, custom BMW top box for the BMW K1100RS/RT (and K75RS/RT) in a photo on the 'net, I knew I had to have one. Trouble is, they're very difficult to find. I finally gave in and asked a dealer about them. It turns out they are still stocked, but the price for a new one is well over $300!! A little rich for my blood. I decided to put a want ad on IBMWR to see if I could get a used one.

Lo and behold, a few weeks later I got a response from a guy who totalled his K75RT, and was parting it out. After some back-and-forth, we agreed on a price of $75. I received it last week and immediately put it on the bike. I intend to just leave this box in place all the time, so I swapped my pristine rack for the very worn one that came with the box (what a pain). Anyway, here are a couple of pictures:

Front

Rear

Posted: Sun Nov 16 14:57:45 -0800 2003

/Motorcycling 12k-mile Service for the Goblin

A couple of weekends ago I took the Green Goblin in for his 12k service (with 12.5k on the clock), and a new rear tire (Bridgestone BT-54). I knew it would be an expensive trip, but whoa!! The total was about $840, and that was with club discounts! At the time of service, I'd had the bike almost exactly one year.

Posted: Sun Nov 09 12:21:23 -0800 2003

/Motorcycling Rumors/Info on new BMW K-Bike

BMW has been working on a new generation of K-bike for a while, but there hasn't been a lot of info availble. Looks like that's starting to change a bit. From Motorcycle Online:

"Its all pretty radical. A 16V inline four designed for 1000-1300cc variants mounted across the frame is not exactly a novelty outside the BMW-Welt. However, starting with the hefty forward slant of the cylinders (60 degrees) and state of tune (160 to 170PS) things start getting pretty interesting..."

The above article has a comment that links to pictures of the new bike.

Posted: Sun Oct 26 10:47:27 -0800 2003

/Motorcycling A Picture of Me on my Bike

Here's a screen capture from a short movie that Steve took of me on my bike in Utah. Sorry about the quality, but it was a very small image that I blew up a bit.

Mike and Bike

Posted: Sat Oct 18 19:27:10 -0700 2003

/Motorcycling Test Riding the Triumph Trophy

I noticed yesterday that Foothills BMW (not my normal dealership) has become a Triumph dealership as well. "Cool", I thought, and when I saw that they had a 1999 Triumph Trophy on sale for $5k, I thought I'd give it a whirl. Even though I love my '95 K1100RS, I'm always willing to try something new if it represents an improvement (a very tall order, reinforced by my bike's awesome performance on my recent four-day tour).

I headed out to the dealership around 11:00 this morning, on what has to be one of the most perfect riding days ever. Riding to the dealership was made even more pleasant by the fact that I'd replaced the year-old scratched-up shield on my Schuberth Concept helmet with my pristine back-up shield (now to spend another $50 for a new backup).

Once at the dealership, I sat on a few Triumphs, including a brand-new Trophy. I also sat on a 1996 BMW K1100RS because it had a Corbin seat installed (I'll stick with my BMW stock seat, thanks). As I moved from bike to bike, I was approached by a salesperson and took the opportunity to inquire about the used Trophy. Turns out the used one was gone, but he was more than willing to set me up on their demo bike.

The salesman gave me a quick overview of the bike's controls, after which I attempted to fire it up. Easier said than done, even with the choke advanced. I tried unsuccessfully three times to get the bike to start until the salesman told me to crank on the throttle while starting the bike. With this, the Trophy was off to a bad start for sure (pardon the pun), since I'm used to my KRS leaping immediately to life with just one push of the starter switch.

Once underway on the dealership's "preferred route" (a black mark against them, compared to BMW of Denver, which has no such thing), I immediately noticed the softness of the Trophy's suspension, which I didn't like (note that I've had heavier fork oil put in my bike, and have the rear preload cranked to the next-to-highest setting, so I probably like a stiffer suspension than most), and the cheapness of the controls. Everything felt a little more wiggly and light on the Triumph, which did not fill me with confidence in its abilities. The brake lever was adjusted too close for my taste, and when I tried to adjust it at a stop light, I couldn't get the adjustment wheel to turn -- another black mark (unless there was an adjustment lock, or trick to it that I don't know about). These qualities combined to make me feel as though I was riding an old, used bike, not a brand-new one.

After a couple of stop lights, the Trophy was idling very fast, so I backed off the choke. Underway again, I noticed that I loved the seating position on the bike. It had plenty of leg room, and the bar reach seemed about midway between my K1100RS and an R1100RT. The bike's power curve is quite a bit different than my bike's -- it liked to be wound out pretty hard, something I didn't feel comfortable enough on the bike to really do very much. The power curve on the KRS, in contrast, is linear -- almost like an electric motor.

While I was stopped at the last turn before returning to the dealership, the bike died on me. I tried to start it a couple of times, then realized that the choke had been advanced again somehow. I backed it off, and started the bike with some throttle. I felt that I had to ride the throttle a bit while pulling back into the dealership to keep the bike running. All in all, not a confidence/lust-inspiring ride.

On a final note, I must say that I noticed a few things about the Trophy's appearance that aren't my cup of tea (to each his own, of course). The bike has a few chrome details that are a bit precious. The instrument cluster has chrome surrounds, and the dual headlights are also surrounded by chrome. These details were either cheap, or gave the appearance of cheapness, in my opinion. After my K1100RS' teutonically spartan (how's that for mixing cultural metaphors?) presentation, the Trophy seemed kind of tarty. I don't think my KRS has one piece of chrome on it, and that's fine by me. It's all business, mister, in typical German style.

It's always a relief when I'm happy to return to my nearly nine-year-old (but low mileage, at 12,500 miles) KRS after having ridden something newer. In this case, I was re-dedicated to my bike, as I have been a few times before. It truly feels more new than the essentially brand-new Trophy, which says a lot for German engineering (or little for British engineering).

It's getting to the point where I'm becoming somewhat untemptable. I've ridden almost every BMW, and would consider trading only to a couple of newer models that are out of my price range. The other bikes that I would consider are from brands that don't offer test rides (the Yamaha FJ1300, for example). Therefore, they have no way to convince me that their bike is better than my current ride. I still don't understand how those manufacturers manage to sell $13k bikes to people without a single test ride. Maybe this is a good thing -- it'll keep me on my current bike for a while.

Posted: Sat Oct 18 18:03:11 -0700 2003

/Motorcycling Steve and Mike's Big (Motorcycle) Adventure

The Route [more pix]

Recently, my buddy Steve rode out to CO from KY for a four-day motorcycle trip through CO, NM, AZ, and NM (Oct 9-12). The total mileage for the trip was around 1450 miles (naturally Steve put on tons of other miles just getting out here, and then back home). I thought it was worth writing the trip up.

Day One

Our target for the day was Montrose, CO via Hwy 285 and Hwy 50. We took off around 9:00am, and accessed Hwy 285 from Conifer, CO, which we reached via "High Grade Road" (a hoot). Hwy 285 was pretty and uneventful -- we didn't stop for any pictures.

Lunch was in Buena Vista (pronounced Byoona Vista), after which we rode up to Twin Lakes (great scenery -- I've written about it before), and up Independence Pass. From the pass, we doubled back to Buena Vista and continued south on 285/24, then west on Hwy 50. This part of the ride was all new to me, and was really beautiful. There weren't many aspen, but there were plenty of mountain ash trees, in full color, to entertain. Along Hwy 50 we crossed Monarch Pass, and rode through Gunnison.

Just past Gunnison begins the Blue Mesa Reservoir, a huge man-made lake that stretches for miles along the highway. Unfortunately, we were in this area as the sun was very low on the horizon, so riding west was a bit sketchy. We stopped across from the Dillon Pinnacles until the sun went down. This, of course, made for a dark and cold ride into Montrose, where we stayed at a quite crappy Days Inn for $35 (worth every penny). After unloading the bikes, we ate at a (too) nice (for us, given our road-wearied look) restaurant called the Glen Eyre.

Dillon Pinnacles, Day One [more pix]

Day Two

Day Two's route was to take us to Farmington, NM in order to set up for Day Three's ride through Monument Valley. The route to Farmington included the west side of the "San Juan Skyway" scenic loop (Highways 62 and 145), including a short stop in Telluride, continued on to Cortez, CO, and then westward on Hwy 160 to Durango, and then southward to Farmington.

I have to say that the San Juan Skyway route lives up to its reputation for beauty. I only wish we could have done the whole route. Many stands of Aspen were still in full color, and the mountains seemed close enough to touch. It was so picturesque that photography was frustrating. I'd stop for a minute in one spot, then take off again only to want to stop a minute or so later. We'd never have left the area if I'd have stopped as much as I wanted to.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention our lunch stop. We stopped at what seems to be about the only going business in Rico, CO -- the Rico Hotel Mountain Lodge. There we met some really nice dogs, and grabbed a first-class lunch of Reubens with home fries and onion rings.

The end of Day Two was probably our most trying experience. We made good time into Farmington, and so decided to push on to Shiprock, although we'd been watching a lightning show from that direction as we rode toward Farmington. Just as we were heading out of Farmington toward Shiprock it started to rain, and the wind picked up. We took cover under a flea-market stall and put on our rain suits, then continued on to Farmington in a drizzle. Unfortunately the drizzle was just enough to coat the road with gooey crap that was very hard to see through when plastered onto a face shield, and again we were riding into the sun. We had a particularly close call as we rounded a shady corner into full-on, low, sunlight, and I nearly rode up Steve's rear fender.

Despite the conditions, we made it into Shiprock unscathed, and started scanning for hotels. Our scanning proved fruitless, so we pulled into a Subway on the far side of town to ask where the hotels were. Turns out, Shiprock has no hotels. Can you believe it? A town of 8000 with no hotels. Despondent, we headed back for a wet (and now dark) ride to Farmington. As a bonus, I discovered that my face shield was covered with fine scratches from wiping off road goo with the squeegee-clad finger of my rain gloves (gee, thanks FirstGear). We did get a decent hotel in Farmington (after a few false moves), and got a great meal at another hotel across the street.

Aspens along Hwy 145, Day Two [more pix]

Day Three

Today was our big trip through Monument Valley. However, to get there, we had to ride deep into northern Arizona (Kayenta, to be exact), and head north. The ride across northern NM and AZ was nothing to write home about, really. Both states have prettier areas, and the roads were pretty crappy. Also, the wind was kicking up pretty hard out of the south, and that was kind of tiring. We reached Kayenta around lunchtime. To my surprise, we had great pizza in Kayenta (Pizza Edge, check it out). From Kayenta we headed north into Monument Valley, then onwards into UT toward Moab. Regrettably, I didn't get any pictures in Monument Valley, though I did make a couple of (failed) attempts at from-the-saddle photography.

In Moab, we made a fairly long stop to goof around on some slickrock and take some photos. Then we got some gas and continued up to Arches National Park. Unfortunately, when we got there, it was getting late, and we didn't think it would be wise to ride out of Moab in darkness. So, we headed out of Moab on 128, which follows the Green River through a beautiful canyon. This was probably my second favorite part of the whole trip, with a great twisty road and scenery almost as good as Arches.

Unfortunately, as we exited the canyon it was twilight and we still had many miles to go to reach I-70. On the way up to I-70, we rode through Cisco, UT, which we thought might be a good place to hole up for the night. Turned out, it would be great -- if you were a ghost! Cisco, at night is a spooky little ghost town with decrepit, twisted buildings, and lights on posts in what seem to be odd places way off the road. It kind of gave me chills riding through it, and it wasn't just because it was freaking cold by then, either.

Just before hopping onto I-70, we added our rainsuits to help block out the cold. Once on I-70, we had a pitch-dark, high-speed run into Grand Junction, where we holed up in a nice Wyndham hotel, and got good food at a local brewpub.

Slickrock, Moab UT, Day Three [more pix]

Day Four

Day Four took us southward from Grand Junction, through Delta, and back into Montrose to rejoin Hwy 50. My main recollection of most of this ride is that of being really freaking cold. My second recollection is that of being worried about running out of gas between Montrose and Gunnison, since my gas light started glowing just outside Montrose. We pushed ahead anyway, hoping for a fuel stop somewhere along the way. After a couple of false stops, we happened on a small station in Cimmaron, CO, where I got my only picture(s) of the day. At this station, Steve grabbed a squeegee out of a pail of water in order to clean his face shield, and pulled out a thick circle of ice with the squeegee. That's how cold it was.

We continued on to Gunnison, where we stopped to warm up in a convenience store. I managed to burn the back of my throat with hot chocolate, but it didn't matter much to me, because I'd snagged the last filled, chocolate-covered donut from the day-old bin (although it was filled with jelly instead of creme, which just ain't right). We chatted for quite a while with a nice couple from Iowa riding a GoldWing, and headed toward the Grand Canyon, then headed back out toward Canon City.

The descent into Canyon City was pretty cool -- almost as cool as the canyon ride out of Moab. One of the great things about it is that it got warmer the closer we got to Canyon City. By the time we got there, I couldn't wait to get out of my cold-weather gear. I'm guessing it was close to 80 degrees at this point. We grabbed a couple of Jalapeno-dogs at a convenience store and headed back out toward Hwy 115 to Colorado Springs. Once through CO Spgs, we exited in Monument, and came into Littleton via 105 and 85 (Santa Fe). We arrived at my house around 4:00, satisfied with the trip, but glad to be home.

Cimmaron, CO, Day Four [more pix]

Posted: Thu Oct 16 20:48:54 -0700 2003

/Motorcycling Retro-reflective Tape Added to the Goblin

I finally got around to applying the black retro-reflective tape I bought nearly a year ago to my hard bags. This stuff is great, because it is fairly invisible (being black), until light hits it. I cosider it a great safety feature, for night-time riding, anyway. Pictures speak louder than words:

Rear Application (note Apple logo) [big pic]

Side and 3/4 Application[big pic]

Unfortunately the pre-cut tape kit I was sent for my bags wasn't even close to fitting. However, the tape is easily cut with scissors, so I improvised. The Apple logo, which I think looks kinda cool, is just a side-effect of having stuck a regular-old Apple sticker onto the reflective tape. What's kind of neat is that during the day it's white, and in the dark, under lighting, it's gray (as you see here).

Posted: Sun Sep 21 20:20:59 -0700 2003

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