Monday, October 30, 2006

MotoGP World Champ Nicky Hayden!

Nicky got a good start while Valentino Rossi got off to a terrible start. I believe Nicky was 2nd and Rossi was running about 6th on about lap 4 when Rossi low-sided in a slow left-hander pressing hard to catch up. Rossi got up and kept going, but ended up 13th. Nicky rode fairly conservatively after Rossi went down and finished 3rd, winning the championship by 5 points. Hayden's championship is the first by an American since 2000 (Kenny Roberts, Jr.) and ends Rossi's amazing streak of 5 straight MotoGP championships.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Tilted Enough For Ya?

The MotoGP championship will be decided this Sunday at Valencia, Spain. Valentino Rossi (left) has an 8-point lead over Nicky Hayden. It's gonna be a good one!

Happy Birthday John Cleese!

Today is the birthday of our favorite government minister and innkeeper!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Gear-Up for Autumn!

(Photo by "Harvey Mushman" from, used by permission)

I'm commuting to work in the mid 30's F here in northern Delaware this week, with wind chills in the 30 - 32F range. Until the time changes this coming weekend, I'm still riding to work in the dark, which makes it seem colder than the weather experts say it is. There has been a fairly large temperature swing; I've been riding home in late afternoons in low 50F temps. This is my typical kit for riding in these temps:
  • Base Layer: Wicking-fabric briefs under silk long-johns (top & bottom)
  • Socks: (heavy weight) SmartWool
  • Long-sleeve Windstopper fabric jersey from Aerostich
  • Aerostich fleece pants and jacket liner
  • Aerostich Windband or Rukka Windstopper-fabric neck warmer
  • Aerostich Darien jacket (3/4 length) & Darien pants
  • Gloves: Lee Parks designs PCI DeerSports or, for below 40-ish temps my trusty old Olympia Goretex-lined nylon winter gauntlets
  • Boots: Rev'It! Fusions (allegedly waterproof)
  • Helmet: Arai Signet GTR, clear shield
  • Just-in-case: I always carry Aerostich Triple-Digit glove rain covers
This combination, almost entirely made from modern synthetics, keeps me plenty warm and dry without being excessively bulky. Don't dress like the Michelin Man! Layering allows me to add or remove items as the temperature swings. In my experience, the keys to staying warm in cooler temps (which means staying dry, too, both from sweat and rain) are a good wicking base layer, followed by a sufficient insulating layer or layers, covered by a windproof/waterproof outer layer.

Safety: My pants and jacket are armored. The jacket has large reflective fabric patches on the rear, front and both sides. The pants have reflective patches on the legs. Additional reflective bits on my boots and a little SOLAS tape on the back of my helmet and on the visor. If it gets foggy or rainy, I throw on my hi-vis yellow reflective vest (less than $10 from RideSafer).

Please share your gear list or comments below.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What I'm Riding

Conowingo Dam, Susquehanna River, Maryland, March 2011

2003 Kawasaki ZR-7S, bought new as a "non-current" (i.e. leftover) model in April 2004. Mileage as of May, 2015: 62,000+ miles/100,000+ km.

  • Tinted and taller "Sport Tour" windscreen from Zero Gravity
  • Throttlemeister throttle lock with custom thumb-wheel
  • Fenda Extenda extension on trailing edge of front fender
  • Garmin 60CSx GPS
  • BMW Sport Grips (formerly used ProGrip gels)
  • Givi E-21 side cases (sometimes also an E-350 top case)
  • Sheepskin Buttpad from Alaska Leathers or Airhawk inflatable pad (on longer rides)
  • Formotion clock on custom bracket
  • Fuel guage re-calibrated by adding a resistor in the circuit
  • Kisan Tailblazer flashing halogen brake light bulbs
  • Datel voltmeter (formerly used a Kisan Chargeguard)
  • 1" spot mirrors
  • Fiamm 125 db horn
  • Progressive fork springs; pre-loaded via PVC spacers
  • Gafler braided stainless steel front brake lines
Current Tires: Dunlop Roadsmart II (have also used Bridgestone BT-023, BT-021 & BT-020 and Dunlop RoadSmart original version)

  • Fuel range: 250+ miles
  • Long-range comfort & ergonomics
  • Reliable as your basic rock
  • Easy to work on
  • Strong on-line community (though fading as bike gets older)
  • Relatively low purchase price
  • Cheap (again, it's all relative) to insure
  • Pearl Chrome Yellow easy to find in a crowd
  • Easy to get on the centerstand
  • Kawasaki's positive neutral-finder is soooo nice in traffic
  • Typical late-model lean factory tuning (carbs)
  • Slight off-idle stumble (see above)
  • Flat spot around 3K (ditto)
  • Stock front brakes could be stronger
  • Stock front forks a bit harsh
  • Rear shock could use a little more rebound dampening
  • Restricted vision from mirrors due to short stalks (hence the 1" spots on mine)

  • Engine Type: 4-stroke, In-Line Four
  • Displacement: 738cc
  • Bore & Stroke: 66 x 54mm
  • Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
  • Valve system: DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
  • Cooling system: Air
  • Fuel system: Keihin CVK32 x 4
  • Ignition: TCBI with digital advance and K-TRIC
  • Starting: Electric
  • Transmission: 5-speed with Positive Neutral Finder
  • Frame type: Double-cradle, high-tensile steel
  • Rake/trail: 25.5┬░/94 mm (3.7 inches)
  • Suspension, front: 41mm conventional fork
  • Suspension, rear: Bottom-Link UNI-TRAK┬« with 7-way preload and 4-way rebound damping
  • Tires; front/rear: 120/70-ZR17; 160/60-ZR17 tubeless radials
  • Brakes, front: Dual 300mm discs with dual 2-piston calipers
  • Brake, rear: Disc with 2-piston caliper
  • Wheelbase: 1455 mm (57.3 inches)
  • Seat height: 800 mm (31.5 inches)
  • Fuel capacity: 22 litres (5.8 gallons)
  • Dry weight: 210 kg (463 pounds)
  • Color (US 2003 model): Pearl Chrome Yellow Metallic

Adirondak Mountains 2011

Monday, October 23, 2006

Why We Ride

Photo Copyright, used by permission

Excerpted from Seasons of the Bike by Dave Karlotski

"...lapses of sanity like this are common among motorcyclists. When you let a motorcycle into your life you're changed forever. The letters "MC" are stamped on your driver's license right next to your sex and height as if "motorcycle" was just another of your physical characteristics, or maybe a mental condition.

But when warm weather finally does come around all those cold snaps and rainstorms are paid in full because a motorcycle summer is worth any price. A motorcycle is not just a two-wheeled car; the difference between driving a car and climbing onto a motorcycle is the difference between watching TV and actually living your life. We spend all our time sealed in boxes and cars are just the rolling boxes that shuffle us languidly from home-box to work-box to store-box and back, the whole time entombed in stale air, temperature regulated, sound insulated, and smelling of carpets.

On a motorcycle I know I'm alive. When I ride, even the familiar seems strange and glorious. The air has weight and substance as I push through it and its touch is as intimate as water to a swimmer. I feel the cool wells of air that pool under trees and the warm spokes of sunlight that fall through them. I can see everything in a sweeping 360 degrees, up, down and around, wider than PanaVision and higher than IMAX and unrestricted by ceiling or dashboard.

Sometimes I even hear music. It's like hearing phantom telephones in the shower or false doorbells when vacuuming; the pattern-loving brain, seeking signals in the noise, raises acoustic ghosts out of the wind's roar. But on a motorcycle I hear whole songs: rock 'n roll, dark orchestras, women's voices, all hidden in the air and released by speed.

At 30 miles an hour and up, smells become uncannily vivid. All the individual tree-smells and flower-smells and grass-smells flit by like chemical notes in a great plant symphony. Sometimes the smells evoke memories so strongly that it's as though the past hangs invisible in the air around me, wanting only the most casual of rumbling time machines to unlock it. A ride on a summer afternoon can border on the rapturous. The sheer volume and variety of stimuli is like a bath for my nervous system, an electrical massage for my brain, a systems check for my soul. It tears smiles out of me: a minute ago I was dour, depressed, apathetic, numb, but now, on two wheels, big, ragged, windy smiles flap against the side of my face, billowing out of me like air from a decompressing plane. Transportation is only a secondary function. A motorcycle is a joy machine. It's a machine of wonders, a metal bird, a motorized prosthetic. It's light and dark and shiny and dirty and warm and cold lapping over each other; it's a conduit of grace, it's a catalyst for bonding the gritty and the holy.

I still think of myself as a motorcycle amateur, but by now I've had a handful of bikes over a half dozen years and slept under my share of bridges. I wouldn't trade one second of either the good times or the misery. Learning to ride was one of the best things I've done.

Cars lie to us and tell us we're safe, powerful, and in control. The air-conditioning fans murmur empty assurances and whisper, "Sleep, sleep." Motorcycles tell us a more useful truth: we are small and exposed, and probably moving too fast for our own good, but that's no reason not to enjoy every minute of the ride."

Vendor Hall of Fame 2006

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.

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.

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

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).

Feel free to share your positive experiences with these vendors by clicking on "Comment" below.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

My New Stupid Little Blog

The "Hawk's Nest" area of NY 97, June 2004

It's alive! I hope to fill this, my first venture into blogdom, with info and misc. ramblings that will be of interest to all motorcyclists, regardless of type of bike or riding style. It will however, lean towards sport-touring; what I term "sport-commuting" (i.e. hitting the twisties before punching the clock); year 'round all-weather riding; clubs, orgs & other motorcycling communities (online and off) and blogs and forums. I also plan to post info regarding charitible events; travel, navigation/mapping, lodging & destinations; dealers & vendors; accessories/farkles; gear; and, DIY mods & maintenence. I don't anticipate that this will be the typical online diary type of blog (do you really care what I ate for breakfast?), but rather will serve as a source of useful information with the occasional sprinkling of opinion, general nonsense and Geekitude thrown in. Thanks for visiting and please stay tuned!