Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wanting it all

Ever since I had the pleasure of beholding the Motus MST sport tourers, I've been asking myself why I spent so much time and money turning our SV650 into a tourer.
black_fists
I mean, don't get me wrong, the SV is a wonderful, approachable machine that is capable of more than I am.  But I do have a supersport 600 with fully adjustable front and rear suspension, opposed-piston calipers, and gobs of power.  So every time I take the SV, I'm leaving behind a more capable bike.
mahRad
I've been pondering - why tour the SV, with it's economical components, when I could instead tour the bike with top-shelf parts?  Well, it doesn't take long to come up with the first answer to that question: tour the SV because there isn't a part or modification you can't get for it.  Framework for hard luggage, hand guards, adjustable foot pegs, mirrors - just visit Twisted Throttle and tell the website you've got a 2nd gen SV.  It'll shower you with ways to throw away your income on mods and all you need is a set of sockets.  To be clear -  this is not the case for the 2005-2006 Kawasaki ZX6R.

So I've been doing some research on what is available to sport-tour my 2006 ZX6R.  I've narrowed down the list of ideal components to:
  1. Handle bar risers (clip-on risers) - comfort
  2. Adjustable foot pegs - comfort
  3. Saddle bags (hard, ideally) - storage
And here's what I've found...

1. Handle bar risers

Convertibars were the first to come to mind, and they thankfully have a kit for my ZX.

But unfortunately they want a cool $400 for it.  Yeeowch!  It may very well be worth it, as their kits are insanely adjustable.  But gosh, $400?  I'd have to seriously stretch my budget to fit these in...


Apex Manufacturing (who?) slides into first with a $219 solution that actually looks like a compelling option.

Cheap man's Convertibars, to be blunt (which is not an insult).

There is a product called the Variobar Riser Kit.  I've found little info about this, and it's one of those products where there's a basic kit, and then an application-specific part.  Kneedraggers gives some sign of what's going on, but not enough to paint a full picture.  So I'm not really considering this...

And the last option I've seen is an approach where you replace your top triple clamp with a custom part that accepts a one-piece handlebar.  I want to be able to quickly get the ZX ready for the track, so I don't really consider this an option.

2. Adjustable foot pegs


The MFW Vario Footpegs at Twisted Throttle seem up to the task.  $150 for a complete kit.

3. Saddle bags

Aside from DIY custom solutions, there really isn't a good way to mount hard saddle bags to the ZX (as far as I can find).  The product closest to solving this problem, in my opinion, is the SLS kit by The Cycle Guys.

I've covered this product before - it's not ideal, but it's a pretty slick, bolt-on solution.  I've contacted them about whether it will fit my ZX (which is not explicitly supported), but to be sure they'd have to see my passenger foot pegs.  In the meantime, I've got a Pelican 1550 on my pillion, so I can carry stuff.

Conclusion

I don't have one.  It looks like I can get more comfortable for ~$370, and really, that's the bulk of the problem when long-distancing my supersport.  Any thoughts from the public?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Learn the easy way

Motorcycle education is good.  It helps keep you alive while having fun.  Usually, it seems to entail taking some big, intimidating step - like doing a track day or conquering a challenging road on your full-sized, powerful street bike.  Or at least that's how I've approached things thus far.



But one recent weekend, I had the pleasure of giving all I had to a Honda CRF 50F - a children's 50cc dirt bike with 3 speeds and no clutch.  And let me tell you, guy - it was more fun that anyone should be allowed to have.



This was the first dirt bike I had ever ridden, and by the end of the weekend I was throwing the bike into turns, rear wheel spinning all the way through the corners.  I had 2 major wipeouts that resulted in no pain to me or damage to the bike.  You can practically ghost ride these little machines into the woods and pick them up with no major damage (one of us sorta did that, actually).

Low risk, big fun, and a better rider at the end.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hand guards

far-out-eSSvEE



Background

We dumped our good-times MR2 to become a one-car family.  One of the biggest reasons was to dedicate a parking spot (of which we have 2) to the motorcycles.  Then we wouldn't have to move a car to get a bike out.  So we moved both bikes to the new, vacant parking spot and times were good!

Problem

But there's another side to this coin.  We only have one car, which means someone's going to have to drive a motorcycle through the winter (which is beginning to settle in).  I'm all for the challenge, but it's been a while since I commuted through the winter on a motorcycle.  So on a few recent, frosty mornings, I was clearly reminded of the 1st body parts to go numb - my fingers.

Solution?

I decided to give hand guards a try, and a wee bit of research led me to believe that OEM hand guards for the V-Strom 650 (DL650) would fit our 2007 SV650.  I hit Ebay and snagged a DL650 OEM hand guard kit and waited for USPS to bring me my box.  The delivery happend, and under an hour later the black hand guards were installed!

Conclusion

Installation

no,wind.

Installation was surprisingly easy.  I thought I was only buying the guards, but it turned out to be a kit with all hardware included.  I had a bit of trouble with the bar ends because of the rideitmoto aftermarket, bar-end mirrors.  But things worked-out in the end - just like they did for this guy.

Appearance


black_fists



They're pretty in-your-face.  Big, black body work that surely takes away from the SV's nakedness.  But whatevs - small price to pay for less-than-freezing digits.

Functionality


I've so far used them in moderate temperature, rain, and cold (but not below freezing).  In the warm temps, you notice the wind isn't hitting your hands.  In the rain, your gloves clearly stay dryer longer.  And in the cold, it's pretty clear that your hands get colder much slower.  But the temperature still finds its way in.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

#motochat

So I finally discovered #motochat - an organized topic on Twitter where motorcyclists talk it up on Fridays at 2pm EST.  The details are available at the motochat web page.



It's neat to talk it up with a bunch of riders who all seem to take the activity pretty seriously.  I mean, you can find this kind of motorcycle discussion on your thread-based forum of choice - but there's something different about the real-time chat.  And the participants seem far more friendly than those I've found at the __fill_in_the_blank__ forum.

This weekly event has led me to a few internet personalities with interesting blogs about motorcycling, so I recommend jumping into a #motochat or two.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fog prevention


It's November, and it's cold.  You know what that means, don't you?  Time to get the warm gear out, zip the liners back in, grab the turtle furs and clavas, and start licking your glasses.

fog_prevention

That's right - I've searched high and low the last few years for ways to ensure my glasses don't fog up when I'm sitting at traffic lights or stop signs in the cold.  And can you guess which solution I've found?  Spit.  I'm far from the 1st to realize this - head over to altavista and search the netz.  You'll see all kinds of tweeps recommending spit to prevent your glasses from fogging-up.

There are products of all kinds out there, but don't waste your $$$.  Wet your finger, lick your lenses, or project your saliva - however you do it, rub it in afterward and enjoy miles of clarity.  There is nothing more debilitating than steering a motor vehicle while blind.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Roadside repair

On my way home from work yesterday, the rear tire felt like it slid (big time) around two turns. This seemed too coincidental - that there were two slick spots, both in turns at lighted intersections - so I pulled over to inspect.

My chain was crazy-loose.  After some deliberation, I decided the axle must be loose enough to slide around when I roll-on.  But I don't have my breaker bar or rear stand - how am I going to fix this?  So I roll the dice and spill the contents of the SV650's toolkit onto The asphalt.

-BAM!  Pliers - I can remove the rear axle nut's cotter pin.

-POW!  24mm wrench with extender.  I had to work at it, but I was able to break the rear axle nut.

-BOOM!  An open-ended wrench that fits the chain adjustment nuts at the ends of the swing arm.

A few minutes and some greasy hands later I was back on the road conquering off-ramps - rear staying true.  I guess it's a little late for me to be learning this, but you can do a lot with the stock toolkit on a motorcycle.

o-`o

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mayorga Coffee

I wanted to side-step rush hour traffic last Friday, so I spent the 2nd half of the day working from a coffee shop near Battley Cycles (where Motus Motorcycles graced us with the status of their ambitious work).  I figured if I was already in the Gaithersburg area, it would be easy for me to roll a few extra miles to get to the event at 5pm.


MayorgaCoffee

And as luck would have it, I located a coffee shop of note not too far away in Rockville, MD - Mayorga Coffee Roasters.


View Larger Map

All Mayorga coffee is roasted a few blocks away from this coffee shop.  You can find Mayorga coffee beans at Costco, Giant, and lots of other stores.  So the product is local to all us DelMarVans.  The baristas were very friendly, made me 2 double-shot Americanos in a small cup (which were very good), and talked up motorcycles at the end of my stay.  Nothing like good conversation across a granite bar serving up joe.


I_should_smile

I have to be honest, I don't plan on frequenting Rockville.  But I can guarantee you that, should I find myself there again, I'll be making a B-line for Mayorga.

Monday, October 17, 2011

You can finally buy the SLS!

When I first got the ZX, I was not impressed with the luggage solutions available. Was I surprised? I mean, it's a super sport, not a tourer…

Anyway, one of the rays of hope I had discovered was the SLS mounting system by thecycleguys.com. It was a neat semi-hard saddle bag system that mounted in place of the passenger foot pegs. They seemed pretty stylish and functional, so I followed them for many months until they delayed the product release so many times that I had lost hope.

But check it - they can now be had for a few select applications!
   

I still think it's a neat product, no doubt. A few positives that strike me:

  • Stylish
  • Expandable (can fit a helmet, but doesn't have to)
  • Good design - reusing a solid, load-bearing mount
But there are some negatives too:
  • Can't really lock them
  • Pricey
Unfortunately, the lack of security pretty much kills the deal for me. But the price is a serious detractor as well. I'm all for the ingenuity, and I hope they are really successful with these! Get people using those screaming inline 4's to get somewhere more than just the coffee shop! Congrats to The Cycle Guys for finally getting this one out the door!

Sucker for contests

RevZilla (http://www.revzilla.com/) is rocking a $500 give-away for talking up "adventure riding."  And a blog post buys you a few more entries!

http://bmwmoarally.com/motorcycle-adventure-blog-contest

I've never shopped at RevZilla before, but an initial perusal makes it clear that I'd have no trouble spending $500 there!  Time to roll the dice!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Inspiration in Gaithersburg

Motus Motorcycles made a stop in Gaithersburg, MD to show off their goods to a dealership and the local riders.  They did not disappoint!

LitUp

Their MST and MST-R prototypes were gorgeous.  The fairings flow from the front of the bike toward its belly, where a massive ~1.6L V4 points its cylinder to the skies.  The framing of the valve covers is a pretty sexy example of form and function.  And the hardly-noticeable, tubular steel frame (and swingarm) hold together what amounts to a 500lb, 160hp monster that will put out gobs of torque at low RPMs.  Actually, there's probably nothing this bike can't do at low RPMs.



The seat, and frame at the point of the seat, is unbelievably narrow compared with most bikes I've straddled.  This makes for a very easy reach to the ground and even shorter riders will probably find this to be a very comfortable bike.

myTurn!

Motus's turn-around from inception to fruition has impressed the hell out of me - I remember not too long ago seeing the original napkin-style sketch of the bike.  And already they've got a few that apparently ride like a dream.  They expect to have these to market by the middle of 2012.  You know somethin'?  If money was no object, I'd by one and it'd be my street and track bike.

YesIDidShootThis

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Smokies 2011

Another lap around the sun, and we managed to fit in a trip to the Smokies. 28, The Cherohala Skyway, Deal's Gap - we bathed in the land of curvaceous asphalt and warm tires.

  Big_Junction

We introduced a newbie to the area this time around, and he was nothing less than impressed :)

  AdamSlayin'

Every year I question whether it's worth the 8 hour drive to get there. And every year (once I'm there) I conclude that it is absolutely worth it. This year was the first time I traveled down on two wheels (instead of towing). Aside from driving home straight through, while sick with a fever, I think I prefer doing the whole event with just the bike.

  aPeacefulDragon

Who wants in next year?

o-`o

Friday, October 7, 2011

See me some MST

The American startup casting the the hottest up-and-coming sport-tourer is headed to my neck of the woods!

http://motusmotorcycles.com/PDF/American%20Sport%20Tour%20template_1_Battley.pdf

Motus Motorcycles (http://motusmotorcycles.com/) is rocking a Northeastern tour with their MST prototypes and they are making a return stop in Gaithersburg, MD.  I'm so there; I'm totally inspired by their quickness in developing what appears to be a powerhouse of a machine.  A large, push rod V4?  It's like American muscle in a European body.

Back in a week with pix!

o-`o

Monday, September 12, 2011

Smoky logistics

A buddy of mine asked me today, "so what are the logistics for your upcoming trip to the Smokies?" I dove into our plan - two of us are heading down there on our bikes (instead of towing them behind the Element). This led to some baiting, which I totally fell for, where my friend told me the logistics seem more complicated when leaving the trailer behind. I disagree - allow me to polish off the last quarter of this Bell's Pale Ale and tell you why.

First of all, I have the trailer prep (and or repair) that I have not yet done this year. Taking the bikes down? No such prep required.

Second, I have the packing. If I'm taking the Element, I may as well pack it with all the safety net items (race stands, toolbox, every piece of gear I own, etc.). But if I'm taking the bike? Whatever fits in the trunks and my tank bag is it. I know what I *need* to take. So packing is easier, faster, and less stressful.

Third, you have the actual act of driving. There will be many miles of boring, straight highway - and of course the convenience of conquering those in a car surely has the motorcycles beat. But then you have the twisties that start not too long after Waynesville. While navigating the good roads with a trailer can be an exciting challenge, it can also be pretty nerve-wracking if you only do it once a year. And if you want to make the most of every twisty road encountered, you may as well be on 2 wheels as soon as possible. Time to recycle this bottle...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

2-wheel_errands

Way-late, but I finally executed my first errand of the summer on my Genesis Track One.

Good times - best transportation for dollar spent.  Ever.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tail end of the year...

Free time has been sparse since May when Declan unwillingly (but hopefully not regretfully) exited the womb...

But alas, the last 1/4 of the year is upon us and it brings the usual 2-wheeling action: a dash to the Smokies for some endless twisties and a long haul to South Carolina for a weekend at Carolina Motorsports Park.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

More to come on the lead-up to and execution of these adventures, as I know the whole 1 or 2 of you are anxiously waiting!

-- FireGlass says

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

No love for the Northeast

Motus is taking their sweet MST prototypes out for a long touring run. And you can even meet them along the way to have a look at their machines! But the Midatlantic/Northeast is out of luck :(

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

*Much* better

I finally installed a stock exhaust on my 2006 ZX6R. My ears, my neighbors, and the sedans next to me on the highway all rejoiced in response to my properly-muffled maiden voyage. A sort of sensory salvation.

IMG_20110528_174455

A while back I landed a Craigslist deal on the parts I needed to replace a deafening aftermarket tin can on my Kawi. But the parts sat in the basement for months until recently. A few short stints tinkering, buying hardware, etc. and:

purrr...

Yeah. That's how is sounds now. Instead of an obnoxious, raspy smoker's voice of an exhaust, my flat blue, two-wheeled road jet now sounds civilized, tuned - almost perfect. And I can already feel a torquier low end. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

All's not awesome, though. I had no solution to the missing stock fender that would hold a license plate. And the previous setup was all bent up and stupid. I didn't want to buy a - dare I say the gross phrase - fender eliminator, so I used spare hardware and angle aluminum I had in the basement:

IMG_20110608_194914

So here we are. How do we look? Cuz I already know we sound frackin' awesome.

IMG_20110609_130006

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Oh how versatile...

itFits!

Today was the 2nd time I transported a 19" LCD monitor on the Ess Vee, so I decided to take a few pix.

protected

An achievement worth writing home about? Maybe not. But it reminds me how far motorcycle luggage can go. I'm always impressed with what I can fit in these Pelican 1550s, and now I've added computer displays to the list.

CargoBike

A little extra effort and these high performance 2-wheelers can increase fun, save on gas money and provide the flexibility to carry cargo.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Return from Paranoia

I've ranted before about concerns from behind. I spend a lot of time scanning my mirrors and tucking my elbows into my body so I can see who's following me, and how closely. While I think this can be a healthy habit, it can quickly become obsessive. You can't look ahead while you're looking behind, so this can be a delicate trade-off. But is it a trade-off worth making at all?

I installed a set of rideitmoto.com's mirrors a few weeks ago. On a recent trip to work, I realized something was different - I was not looking behind me. I mean, unless I was preparing to change lanes or merge, I was not looking behind me at all. These bar-end mirrors do not land if my field of view unless I deliberately look through them. This is a serious departure from what I'm used to, where stock motorcycle mirrors seem to be visible while looking forward (even if only enough to remind you of their presence).

So I've been thinking. For quite some time now, I've strived to be all-knowing - to maximize my situational awareness on the road and cover as large a radius as my limited organic RAM allows. I believe I used the word obsessive earlier? But what's it buy me? I know I have the training to deal with what's ahead. But what am I going to do about the potential actions of the vehicles behind me?

I've had trouble answering these questions, so I'm left considering these sentiments: what's in front of me is paramount and the rest may simply be distraction.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wantz to see!

I remember hearing about this potentially awesome flick a few months ago:

TT3D: Closer to the Edge

And it appears I've been sleeping, as it was released in the US on 4/22 (at least, TT3D's imdb page says so). But I can't find playing anywhere :(

Looks like I may have to wait for to offer it, but according to what I've read, it may very well be worth the wait!

Update (5/7)
It appears that TT3D may still be in negotations for a US release, as stated by this review. So there's still hope!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Glass I can work with

Problem



The mirrors on our SV have to be adjusted way too often. If I wasn't the last to ride it, I'd have to adjust them. If the all-weather cover was removed (every time the bike is ridden), the mirrors have to be adjusted. If the bike is ridden long enough, the mirrors have to be adjusted because vibration shakes them loose. When they get loose enough, a wrench is required to lock them back into place. There appears to be a ball joint at the back of the mirror, but it's either frozen solid or it isn't actually a ball joint. Who knows. Bottom line, they are not convenient for frequent adjustment.



For 6 months or so, I have been considering rideitmoto.com's billet mirrors as a replacement. And last week, I decided to finally give them a try.

Initial Reaction



The mirrors, stems, and end caps feel like high-quality parts. They are even pretty to look at. The mirrors seem a little small, but when held at arms length, their convex surface actually provides a surprising field of view. The blue tint on the glass is a curious thing ... well, whatevas, we'll see what's up once they're on.

Installation

I removed the old, weighted bar ends and installed the new bar ends, which go through the new mirrors' stems. I'm not sure why so many different spacer rings were provided, as it appears only one mates the provided bar end to the big hole in the mirror stem. Maybe those rings are for re-using your stock bar ends? That surely wasn't an option on this 2007 SV650. Anyway, unlike the stock SV bar ends (which mount with an expanding rubber grommet) the rideitmoto's billet bar ends mount with a metal expanding thingy. Unfortunately, the expanding metal doohicky starts its life at a very small diameter. So you have to get the expansion started in your hands. Vice grips or plyers to grab the inside (round) nut are necessary to keep the nut from spinning. I opted for the bloody hand method. Either way, you'll eventually get to the point where it's of a diameter that fits snugly into the bike's handle bars.



A bit of adjustment, tightening at all 3 joints (bar end to bar, mirror stem to bar end, mirror to stem), and voila, new mirrors! The only issue was clearance for the clutch and brake levers. If squeezed all the way, they made contact with the mirrors stems. But I solved this by loosening the bar clamp for the clutch and brake levers and slid it inward just a bit. Now the ball end of the levers fit in right next to the mirror stems.

Usage



These mirrors are small. The is no getting around the fact that you are sacrificing field of view by switching to these mirrors. That said, they still serve their functional purpose if adjusted correctly. I found I had to give up seeing both behind me and the lane next to me. Otherwise I would have to accept a very large blindspot.



Thankfully, these mirrors deliver most where I hoped they would. They adjust very easily since the mirrors mount to their stems with very snug ball joints. So you can adjust one at a stop light, but the joint is snug enough not to vibrate or accidentally knock out of your setting.

Conclusion



A test ride for an americano proved that the mirrors solve my problem. And personally, I think they are a nice piece of kit. But what will Megan think next time she hops on?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Flash Ride

Caribou Coffee @ Fairfax Corner, 1:30pm

Spontaneity is the key. I want a reason to ride that doesn't come solely from my own motivation to get on the bike with no destination in mind. I want a social aspect to motorcycling, but I don't want to plan anything. Accommodating everyone is a pain.

Flash Ride is the answer.


  1. Broadcast the ride (time, location).

  2. Show up.


Anyone on the wire will see your ride. If they're in, they'll show up. You don't have to ask anyone; you don't have to wait for their responses. It's so damn efficient, itn't it?

I've had this idea in my head for quite some time now. This is a new take on getting together to ride, but you do the riding alone. You pick your own route, you don't have to keep up with anyone, and you get to talk it up over coffee when you get to the destination. What you do from there is up to you, but the game is being there on time. There's a silent accountability you develop if you show up, if you're a regular, if you are always the 1st one there, etc. Or maybe you're that guy that broadcasts a ride and doesn't show up.

It's an alternative that's quicker and easier than gathering everyone at a meeting place, and then riding together. In the classic approach to a "ride," you get a mix of skill levels and when the group breaks up you're stuck playing traffic control. Time to spend less time in the rear view and more time safely reaching a destination.

And back to the keyword: spontaneity. Are you broadcasting a ride with a time of 1 hour from now? Or 6? It's all on the table.

You dig? I dig - getting this going on a website (or even just an e-mail list) is still on my to-do list...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sold to Carmax

so_long_MR2

Why
Saves us money
No longer need to pay VA car tax, registration, insurance, or to fill it with gas.

Saves me time
One less vehicle to maintain (oil changes, etc.).

Easy in/out with the bikes!
Now I don't have to move a car to use a two wheeler!

Guest parking
Our neighborhood is parking-challenged. Now we can at least ensure we have one spot handy for a visitor

Carmax
Wow, talk about a no bullsh*t business. They buy cars. They sell cars. Two independent operations and you can participate in one, both, or none. There is no discussion beyond how the process works, and they do not waste your time. I was impressed (with them and their offer for the car). Sold.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Winter blues

I haven't ridden since my last post when I picked up some craigslisted ZX6R parts. In all honesty, those parts are still in the trunks of Megan's SV.

It's cold. The beloved asphalt is laced with sand, gravel, and salt. There's snow in the forecasts. These are the street bike blues.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Stocking up...

Or stocking back? Well, whatever phrase sounds more marketable, I'm on the return my bike to stock bandwagon. There are lots of reasons why, like failed aftermarket tail lights and painfully-loud exhausts. The latter is my current inspiration.

exhaust_inapelican

I was lucky enough to find a Craigslisting in my area for a stock 2005 Kawasaki ZX6R exhaust. It should be the same piece that was originally fitted to my 2006. The buy even included the stock cable pulley that mounts to the exhaust servo motor under the pilot's seat. So I should have all I need to return my exhaust to stock.

Why would I want to bother? Well, first and foremost, because the Cobra aftermarket can that's fitted to my 2006 is annoying. It's way too loud and fitting an aftermarket exhaust for sound is just not reflective of who I am, so I want it off. Second, it's ugly as heck now that I had to put the stock rear blinkers back on. Third, there some voices on the forums that say nothing performs as well as the stock 2005/2006 ZX6R exhaust with the exhaust valve and servo motor working (taking this with a huge grain of salt). So it seems like there's little (if anything) to lose.

Kudos to Megan's SV and the Pelican 1550s for being able to fit a stock 2005 ZX6R exhaust. That thing is much larger than I anticipated...