Thursday, December 20, 2012

Keep me warm!

I've been riding year round for a few years, but I've avoided heated gear. Tethered to the bike by an electrical cord carrying enough current to heat me? That just didn't jibe with my principles.

Rational or not, I looked at other solutions. Heated grips, piping coolant through handlebars, hand guards, windshields - these would help, but while fun to implement and shop for, they don't warm your core.

I have relied on the layered approach - a snug base layer (not cotton), and as many layers a you can fit between that and your riding gear. I've learned, however, that this approach simply delays the inevitable.

But alas, I finally gave electric heat a try this Fall - in the form of a battery-powered base layer. A quick skip to my conclusion:

I dig it. I recommend it.

The power source is this little lithium-ion battery pack that you charge with the provided wall wart. When all the lights are lit, it's charged. Sweet.

When it's charged up, you slip into the snug, stretchy shirt, which has heating elements at your pecks and upper back. Plug the battery in to the shirt's electric cord and stuff the mess into a built-in pocket.

It keeps my core warm, and my arms and legs get colder far slower than before.  I've only used heat settings 1 and 2 (out of 4), and I find 2 to be rather warm.  But the best part of this product? Battery life.  On this battery's maiden voyage, it heated me on setting 1 for over 6 hours.  I haven't tried a marathon run with heat setting 2 but I have a feeling I won't be disappointed.

The only negative I've found is that, if I'm in just the right position with just the right thickness of clothes on, the layers press the heating element against my skin firmly.  If this happens for a prolonged period of time, it becomes quite irritating...

Want to try it? It's the Longmen Shirt from

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Road trip wrap-up

After a few days with my family in my home state, I hight-tailed it home with extra fuel to ensure I could outrun the radius of the #njgas crisis.

Note to self: never carry a gas can in this manner again.

I got to test two new goodies this trip - the SLS bags by and a heated base layer I picked up from I'll be sure to follow up with a mini review of each.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

#Sandy lingers...

I was planning a trip to NJ, but Sandy got in the way. No matter, I'm flexible - so I waited for it to pass, the forecast gave me a green light, and I shot up 15 and 78.

Crossed the PA/NJ border, and it was gas-up time. The first exit I took had a long line at the gas station. The 2nd exit had dead traffic signals, a gas station that was being looted, and an even longer line at the one gas station that appeared to have gas.

No thanks to modern cars and their unsiphonable gas tanks, my Dad and a kind NJ native got my bike enough go-juice to finish the trip. Now to fill the tank for my return...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I'm a day late on a trip I had planned. So I spent today's lunch and evening catching up.

The ZX is chock full of luggage and I'll be trying a new solution to staying warm. More to come!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bleeding on my iPhone

Not too long ago I bigged-up Speed Bleeders.  Those friendly brake bleeder fittings with a built-in check-valve.

When I bought that set for the ZX6R, I also bought a set for the SV650's front calipers, figuring that I'd be bleeding them eventually as well.  And sure enough, the front lever got soft today.  So I dug the package of brand spanking-new Speed Bleeders out of a drawer; drained the old nastiness and installed the new bleeders.

Then my Dad gave me a ring and I talked to him while I bled both calipers with one hand.  Man, that open-squeeze-close-release method is for the birds.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Road to WERA: Gauges

To the best of my knowledge, I'm the third owner of my Ninjette. The first owner put the bike through some front end damage - bent-up the fairing stay, cracked the upper bodywork, etc. The second owner received it in this state, and cleverly turned the bike into a streetfighter. He chopped the bodywork, made some brackets out of aluminum, and even did some clever electrical work with the speedometer and idiot lights.


I focused my attention one night on what's left of the front end bodywork - the headlight, windscreen, turn signals, and speedometer. I don't need any of these items, but I would like some gauges. I know some racers dump all the gauges claiming that all they need to see is the tarmac ahead of them. While I agree with this, I've only ridden this Ninja once, and I'd like what little diagnostic information I don't have to pay for, even if it's only while I'm in the paddock. I say "don't have to pay for" because the guy I bought the 250 from gave me the stock gauge cluster. Since I don't have a stock fairing stay (or the inner body work for the gauge cluster), I fabbed-up some crude bracketry for the cluster.


It took me an hour and 45 minutes to bend up my fresh strip of aluminum bar stock to mount the cluster. The pictures are pretty bad, but the brake side bracket is bolted to 2 of the gauge cluster's mount points - the clutch side bracket bolted to one mount point. Mine was a bit of a cantilever approach, but it's not all that bouncy, and it seems pretty sturdy.


Have you ever counted the number of key changes in "You Don't Own Me"? I'm young, and I love to be young...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Road to WERA

RaceBikeCanvas by inajamaica
RaceBikeCanvas, a photo by inajamaica on Flickr.

A friend woke me up to WERA's E Super Stock - 250cc bikes in competition. I recently got hungry to participate and began hunting for a race bike candidiate.

I found one :). Now to get it ready for the track!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Woodcraft rearsets

After the wind recently wrapped its gusty claw around my ZX6R and mercilessly slammed it to the ground, I was short one intact, brake-side rearset. I did some research, and determined that the best value for the dollar was a Woodcraft rearset kit. Goodbye brittle, candy-cane OEM rearset, hello billet 6061--T6 (what?) aluminum rearsets!

If you are willing to reuse your stock foot pedals (and if Enemy Wind didn't bustify them), you can bag the rearset kit for a bit over $200. That's not chump change, but good luck finding equivalent quality for the price. Also, I opted to buy a 2007 ZX6R kit for my 2006 because the 2007s are black (and go quite well with my ZX's black frame).

Cue dramatic image:


My two-ride review:

  1. Amazing price (if you re-use your stock pedals)
  2. Strong as hell
  3. Do not fold up like OEM pegs; so they double as frame sliders
  4. Gnarled peg has crazy grip
  5. Simple
  1. You can't try a different peg position without unbolting the rearset entirely
  2. Minimally adjustable
  3. Pegs are higher and more rear-set; Less comfortable
  4. No hookup for the brake light switch

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Gravity Storm

I received an e-mail from my neighbor while we were away. He kindly let me know that my ZX blew over in some heavy winds and was leaking gas. When I arrived home I dove right into CSI mode - looking over the impacted side of the bike for damage. Blinkers, foot peg, clip-on, mirror, body work...

First, a rear turn signal:
This is a PITA because the bodywork that the signal mounts to is cracked. I'll play some games with jbweld and/or super glue to see if I can fashion a fix without having to track down a used part.

Second, a brake lever mount (and really, the whole rearset):
This irked me the most. I mean sh*t, this OEM rearset snapped like peanut brittle. And shouldn't the foot peg have hit first? Why did the brake pedal even make contact with the asphalt? And it hit me a day later - the stock foot pegs always bend up for some odd reason. I'm thinking about grabbing a set of Woodcraft rearsets since a single, used OEM replacement is over $100 (and the Woodcraft basic kit is about $230).

And third, some minor body work:
Disappointing but minor.

The funny part of the story? The local fire department drove their truck on over to right the bike and spread some absorbant on the spilled gasoline. Wish I had a picture of that! *Sigh* - damn gravity storms. They don't give no warning signs...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

#29in29 fail

I signed up for the #29in29 challenge, but fell to the flu and gave up after about only 9 days. Oh well, maybe next time...


...on the bright side, I've finally recovered enough to #ride2wrk today in the below-freezing weather! Here's hoping I'm not signing myself up to get sick again :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012



Been sick the past few days, and bikes have remained undercover...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012



If you like to get lost in the surreal aspects of human/machine relationships, then you'll probably like Rideback. There are some really neat scenes - it's a bit of a goofy show, but it's short and on Netflix!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Using stuff up. Nothing like a track day to maximize your rate of consumption.


Some years I managed to squeeze in 3 track weekends, other years just one. But there used to be no question: the weekend before Thanksgiving we'd meet up at Carolina Motorsports Park with Sportbike Track Time's Southern division and tear up one seriously fast track.

But last year I missed that mark, so I've had the blues for a few months now, as I've gone more than a year without extreme go-stop. *sigh* - as my friend would say, "...first world problems." :)


For the few that follow my blog, I figured I should inform you on my recent posting storm. I found out through Fuzzygalore about a blogging challenge - post a picture each day for this month of February (which happens to have 29 days this year). I accepted the challenge, as did some other moto bloggers. Check 'em out!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Brand Loyalty Monday: Motus


Everyone who knows me knows I'm excited about Motus Motorcycles. What's not to be excited about? They are an American startup throwing caution to the wind with their ground-up designed sport tourer, the MST.

Their president, Lee Conn, is a slick guy I've had the pleasure of talking to twice, and he's clearly a rider who loves what he's doing and believes in their product. The videos and pictures of their progress over the last few years have been a blast to follow.

No, I will definitely not be able to afford their MST when it comes out this Spring. I'm pegging the cost of the machine at $30k, based on my complete lack of expertise on estimating low production motorcycle costs :) But does a V4 sport tourer with top-shelf components, hydraulic lifters, and easily-accessible valve covers sound good to me? You bet your damn leathers it does. Here's hoping a friend of mine buys one and lets me ride it!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

I spy...


... a CBR 250! I finally got to sit on this awesome specimen from Honda at the DC IMS. I was elated to find out that Honda was bringing it to the US, and that it was fuel injected. It's light as hell and I'm sure it would be a blast in the tight twisties.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

Bringin' my stuff


Good luggage. It's what turns a street bike into a useful commuter. Hard, soft, a rack and bungies - whatever allows you to bring your stuff on two wheels. I left with my portable office and returned a bag of cat litter heavier. Did you bring your stuff on in-line wheels today?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Speed bleeders


A few years ago I did some brake work on a Honda Civic that required draining the fluid system completely. I used the task as an excuse to try out the Speed Bleeder product. Thanks to those tricky little bleeder valves, I was able to bleed that Civic's brakes by myself.

Fast-forward to last week: I decided to take my ZX6R out for the first time in a month or so.
I pulled away, squeezed the front brake lever, and found the lever traveled way more than I expected. "Wow, I guess I forgot how late the brake lever tightens-up on this bike," I thought to myself. I learned later in the trip that I was a fool for taking it out and that the brakes were failing.

Anyway, back at my non-garage, I determined I needed to drain and refill the brake fluid system. The reservoir was empty and the fluid looked ... old. Not looking forward to tightening/loosening the bleeder valves for each squeeze of the lever, I called upon the Speed Bleeder product again to make my life easier.

If you've never tried Speed Bleeders, you might want to consider them...

Friday, January 20, 2012

IMS DC 2012

After skipping 2 years, I decided to return to the International Motorcycle Show in DC this year.

I finally met an RC8!

My wife and 8-month-old son joined me, and the youngest of us pretty much set the pace :)  I didn't get as many photos as I had hoped, but I snapped a few and got the chance to sit on some pretty wicked bikes.


It was great to see Motus Motorcycles showing DC some love and bringing their MST to the show (at Battley's tent)!  The other small-time start-ups that I follow didn't seem to consider DC a necessary stop (I'm talking to you, Zero and Brammo).  I'm totally excited about what Motus is bringing to the table, and it's great to see their president in-person when they take to the road.


I was really surprised to see the Erik Buell Racing 1190 at the show.  The Dream Pavilion, which featured a handful of you'll-probably-never-see-one-of-these bikes, had Erik Buell's latest 2-wheel jet on display in all its carbon fiber glory.  I only managed a picture of the front squeezer...

Good times - 2012 is not going to be a sleeper on the motorcycle front!