Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Random Pic of the Day: ReneCaders

A few of my Americade buddies wished me a happy birthday on the Cybercaders forum the other day, which got me thinking of Americade, my favorite rally. I searched my hard drive and found this pic, which includes a couple of my well-wishers. This was shot atop Whiteface Mountain in September 2002 during the inaugural "official unofficial Americade event" dubbed ReneCade. We had an awesome ride that day in the northern Adirondaks, including a lunch stop and walking tour in Lake Placid. I'm the doofus in the red T-shirt.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

AMA Museum Pic: Matchless G-50

I snapped this at the AMA's Motorcycle Hall of Fame & Museum in Ohio last summer. Early '60s modified Matchless G-50 road racer campaigned by legendary Dick Mann, who raced just about everything: road racers, flat trackers, MX'ers and even trials! I'll be posting more pics from the museum when the mood strikes, so stay tuned if you enjoy vintage cycles, particularly race bikes.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bad Vibes for your GPS?

The first time out with my RAM-mounted Garmin GPS 72, the unit shut down 5 or 6 times between Newark, DE and Gettysburg. (I've since learned this is a common problem among motorcyclists running AA-powered GPS units). When I arrived at the battlefield, I had a brain drizzle as I was removing my foam earplugs. I wedged the rolled-up plugs between the AAs, then quickly reinstalled the battery compartment door before they could expand. That was almost 15,000 miles ago and my GPS hasn't once shut down due to vibration. I put new foamies in with each battery change. Some folks are spending $150 or more for high-tech vibration-dampening mounts. If your GPS suffers from bad vibrations, try my cheapie solution. While it might not work with bikes that are taken off-road, it just might do the trickbut for road warriors -- and hey, you were just gonna chuck those old earplugs in the bin anyway, right?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My Prior Horizon Tilter

Somewhere in Lebanon County, PA in the late '90s.

This is my prior bike, a 1990 Yamaha YX600A "Radian". I bought it used in '94 with only 853 miles (!) on the odometer, rode it for 10 years, then sold it for $50 less than I'd paid for it. I wasn't into commuting back then, so it saw duty primarily as a Sunday morning backroads machine, though it also took me on 4 week-long trips to Americade and a few shorter trips to the old Rider magazine and Retreads rallies. The prior owner of this Radian purchased it with the OEM engine guards, rare OEM luggage rack/backrest, and the super-rare OEM windscreen. I substituted a larger windscreen and changed the bar-ends, grips and mirrors. Stickier tires, upgraded front brake pads, aftermarket shocks and fork springs, tapered roller steering stem bearings and a slightly higher final drive completed my modifications.
I ran soft saddlebags all the time; for long trips I adding a tank bag, and a waterproof duffle bag strapped to the pillion. It was a super-reliable bike that was easy and inexpensive to maintain.

It was a rare bike (because it never sold well) that was often better remembered by other riders than was I. Even though I sold the Radian in 2004 after buying my new ZR-7S,
I still occasionally hear "aren't you the guy who rode that Radian?" and to this day my handle on the Americade message board is RadianGuy.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

S'No Go Today

Got up at 0630, planning on a nice hour-long ride up north to a motorcycle-friendly joint like the Strasburg Creamery or the Gap Diner for breakfast and to scuff in my new rear tire, to be followed by some serious twisties thru the Amish country on the way home. A quick check of Weather.com showed a current temp of 18F with a predicted high of 24F during my ride...ridable temps, but I'd have to plan warm-up/coffee breaks about every hour. But, then I saw there were snow flurries in various places in Lancaster County, where I'd be doing most of my planned ride. Drat! (or R-rated words to that effect). If I had a plastic-covered dual-sport, maybe, but I'm seeing dollar signs for even a dead-stop tipover, and I'm not sure I could even pick up my 550 (probably over 600 with accessories) pound bike on slippery pavement. So, I'm wimping out...or letting discretion get the better part of valor, you choose.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Largest & Smallest Cycles On Earth

I attended the International Motorcycle Show in D.C. yesterday. Yeah, all the new models, customs and race bikes were very cool to see, but two of the most impressive bikes were also two of the most unusual you'll ever see.

Above is Big Toe, certified by Guinness as the world's largest ridable motorcycle. It was built by Swedish inventor Tom Wiberg and is 15' long, 7-1/2 feet tall and weighs 3,636 pounds. Power is from a 300HP Jaguar V-12 engine. Big Toe can reach speeds up to 62 mph. Man, I'd love to commute on this thing!

And here is Wiberg's Little Toe, at a seat height of 2.5" and a weight of about 2.5 pounds it's the world's smallest ridable motorcycle. In case you don't believe it is actually ridable, below is a photo of the ride that set the Guinness World Record. Apparently, Guinness required that it be ridden a minimum of 10 meters; the little thing went about 29 I believe at a top speed of just over 1 MPH. The rider's shoes have metal tangs that fit into those slots on the sides of Little Toe. I'd like to have one to throw in my tank bag for emergency use. OK, my 45 year-old spine is telling me "maybe not".

Friday, January 12, 2007

Product Review: Aerostich Windblock Jersey

Below are quickie reviews I posted on the Riderwearhouse/Aerostich website of its Windblock Jersey. The first time I showed up at work wearing the tan jersey (left), my boss thought I looked like Captain Kirk. Hmmmm, I wonder if these could be marketed to geeky cosplaying Trekkies?

I received my Windblock Jersey yesterday afternoon. The Medium fit my 5'9" 168# frame very well. The jersey is extremely well constructed and looks nice enough -- the black cuff and neck bands contrast well with the tan fabric.
When I left for work yesterday it was 42F; I was in my trusty 10-year old Darien jacket & pants w/ fleece liners, a long-sleeved cotton T-shirt, and a neck gaiter. Nothing else but briefs -- I seldom wear "street clothes" under my riding gear. This morning it was also 42F when I left, so I have an excellent basis for comparison. I substituted my Windblock Jersey for the long-sleeved cotton T-shirt; all other gear remained the same. This jersey works! I noticed the lack of airflow around my torso, and resulting warmth. I'm certain the difference will increase as the temps decrease over the next few months. As I ride throughout the Winter, this jersey will see a lot of use. Hmmm, maybe I better buy a 2nd?
Wednesday, November 9, 2005

See above. I wear mine so often I did buy a 2nd. As great as the first one I bought...only bluer.
Monday, February 27, 2006

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Product Review: Aerostich Thermal Long Underwear

Below is the short review of Premier Thermo-Gear long-johns I posted on Riderwearhouse/Aerostich's site on December 29, 2006:

I recently replaced my worn-out set of silk long-johns with these. I've given them a good work-out commuting to work in the 28F - 40F temps we're experiencing right now in late December. The Thermo-Gear Premier is "cozier" and noticeably warmer than silk. In fact, I believe they'll be too warm to wear come Summer so I'll likely buy another set of silks so I'll be set year 'round. Nice touches on the Thermo-Gear Premier includes the thumb holes on the shirt sleeve cuffs, which makes layering up a little easier, and the dropped back on the shirt. These make an excellent base layer for colder temps and I'm sure I'll get many miles out of them. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My Motorcycling Library

There are many other essential motorcycle-related books I've yet to read, but these are the ones I own and can recommend without reservation. In no particular order:

10 Years on 2 Wheels

Helge Pedersen
ISBN: 0944958389

Norwegan photographer sells most of his stuff, buys and modifies a BMW R80 G/S, and spends the next 10 years and 250,000 miles traipsing around the globe. Along the way, he enountered enlightening, challenging and occasionally life-threatening events. Pederson became the first motorcyclist ever to ride through the infamous Darien Gap in Central America — 80 roadless miles of virtually impenetrable jungle. Even non-motorcyclists would like this one. 208-page "coffee table" sized book with over 200 amazing photos.

Total Control

Lee Parks
ISBN: 0760314039

High-performance street-riding techniques taught by the founder of the Advanced Riding Clinics and former roadracer and Editor-In-Chief of Motorcycle Consumer News. A must for sport and sport-touring riders. The techniques I picked-up from this book made me both quicker and safer.

Proficient Motorcycling & More Proficient Motorcycling

David L. Hough
ISBN: 1931993033 & 1889540536

Street-survival skills from one of the foremost motorcycling safety gurus and author of the Proficient Motorcycling series of articles published over the years in Motorcycle Consumer News. Must-reads for all riders, but nobody should commute by bike without reading these.

Purple Mountains: America from a Motorcycle

Notch Miyake

American businessman sells his business and decides to ride his bike coast-to-coast to visit old friends and to get a fresh perspective. Honestly describes both the highs and lows of motorcycle touring.

Against the Wind

Ron Ayers
ISBN: 1884313094

First-timer’s account of the 1995 Iron Butt Rally, where finishers typically have to ride around 1,000 miles a day for 11 days. Read it and you’ll begin to understand understand why Iron Butt Association members have those license plate frames that read “World’s Toughest Riders”.

Jupiter’s Travels

Ted Simon
ISBN: 0965478521

Exceptionally well-written tale of an Englishman who, not being a motorcyclist prior, decides the best way to see the world would nonetheless be on a bike (good choice!). He buys a Triumph and heads out for four years, circumnavigating the globe. More psychological and cultural study than travelogue, it's tough to put down.

Note: Please feel free to recommend good reads by using the Comment button below.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Unlimited Horizons!

Not motorcycle-related, but just too cool a to not share. NASA posts a "picture of the day" here. If you're even half the geek I am, you can't avoid become engrossed in the hundreds of awe-inspiring still and video images. Check 'em out!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Hall of Fame Vendors 2007

These are vendors from whom I've purchased at least a few items (many items in some cases) and who consistently offer top-notch products, customer service, technical knowledge and easy transactions. They set the standard to which others would do well to aspire. I recommend them without hesitation.

RideSafer Products: Products to keep motorcyclists safer and more comfortable.

RiderWearHouse: Aerostich products & many other useful and unique items; the primary supplier to the serious sport-tourer, commuter or adventure-rider; publisher of the legendary catalog.

NewEnough: Gear, clothing, & hard parts.

Cycle Gadgets: Tons of cool gadgets & accessories -- farkletastic!

MotoJockey: A local Delaware vendor who sells online and via phone in addition to store sales.

Ron Ayres Motorsports: Big 4 OEM parts; online microfiche; discount prices; amazingly quick shipment.

Southwest Moto Tires: Online-only vendor of all major tire brands; offers technical advice, great prices and very fast shipment (free shipping with 2 or more tires); I got an email reply from Blaine at SWM to a technical question on New Year's Day!