31 May 2011—Summer riding–(John)

Watching WSB from Utah and seeing the snow made me realize that here on the Gulf Coast we are in for a long, hot, humid, riding season.

We had a shockingly mild and cool spring. This weekend, however, the heat and humidity hit like Thor’s hammer and the forecast is for 98 degree days for the next five months.

I invested in my first mesh jacket and pants last summer after buying the RC51. I also added some Sidi “Air” boots and Held “Airstream” gloves to round out the ensemble.

I spent a considerable amount of time researching different mesh jacket, pants, gloves and boots. I’m a proponent of “ATGATT”—All The Gear, All The Time. I’ve worn a one piece Aerostich Roadcrafter for the last eight years while riding my Monster and V-Strom. It actually flows a pretty good amount of air. When I bought the RC51, I discovered that the Roadcrafter just does not work on that machine. The sleeves aren’t forward rotated for the superbike riding position. I wanted a summer riding outfit, so buying this RC51 gave me the excuse to pull the trigger on a second set of gear.

I settled on the Dainese “Shotgun” textile jacket and “Drake Air” pants. They are not the full mesh style, but have big mesh panels. After riding in a Roadcrafter all the time, trying on the full mesh gear just gave me visions of skin grafts if I ever had an accident. So I settled on gear that flowed more air than the Roadcrafter, but was not full mesh.

I’m very happy with this gear. I’m very comfy on the RC51, it flows enough air to make summer riding tolerable, and I feel protected enough for street riding. The jacket has a Dainese “Air” back protector in it.

What do you folks wear while summer riding? Am I paranoid about crash protection? Do you ride with less gear in the hot summer months? Do you sacrifice some crash protection for comfort? Do you stop riding when the temperature hits 90 or above? Do you ride and sweat it out with full gear no matter what?

Keep riding, my friends.

26 May 2011 – Happy Memorial Weekend

I added a few new products to the website this week and will be adding more in coming weeks. I also finished my article on Johnson City and did half of the service on the Yella ST4 that I’ll be selling. I’m pouring money into her. The clutch was completely shot, which alone consumed $500. Thus far the valves look pretty good. She’ll purr when I’m finished and a lucky owner will get a better than new ST4 with the choice mods for a good deal.

I’m not riding this Sat or Sunday due to social obligations. I will be riding Memorial day, but I’m riding early – 0630. I won’t even ask anybody else to come at that time.  That will get me off the road before the heat gets extreme. I have Army duty looming for a few weeks, so it will probably be my last jaunt aboard a bike for awhile. My yard will appreciate getting me back for some time on the weekends. For 7 months of the year it gets ignored in favor of riding.

Enjoy your memorial weekend.

LT evo

23 May 2011 – Warp Speed Captain

I rode both days this past weekend, first a breakfast run on Sat on the Hyper and then the S2R800 through Blackwater on Sunday. The Saturday ride is always a low-key affair where you actually get to see some scenery. Not so much on Sunday. Two thirds of the Robinson clan rode on Sunday along with Mark and me. Mark and I swapped rides on the way back. It was first time on a ZX since I rode a ZX-11 back in the mid 90s. It’s a shock moving from a naked twin to an inline 4 Japanese bike. I’m used to swapping rides all day long when I test for the magazine, but it’s different when you swap with a buddy that has a bike set up right. All my testing is on bone-stock bikes. ick… The ZX felt a bit top-heavy, but that may be due to the bar location. The bars are up and back to make the riding position comfy. You can actually use the ZX as a tourer. But the bars are narrow, so it’s not something you hop on and immediately feel at ease on. I was a sissy in the corners, but the thing has so much torque that gear selection is optional. And if you go to slow through a corner, just give a gentle twist of the throttle and you’re doing warp speed in a few seconds. I had to watch the speeds coming up to corners because you don’t get the sensation of speed like you do on most bikes. It’s sneaky fast. Anyway, it was a nice change of pace and Mark has the ZX set up about as good as one can be set up. Riding the S2R with the steering damper was nice, but the front end is so light that when I got lazy and forgot to lean over the front end, it still wanted to shake its head coming out of turns. I like the bars on my M1100s better, but it too has a light front end. I just keep reminding myself that they are nakeds not designed for doing the ton. They’ll do it, but they’ll wear you out in short order if you’re a taller rider.

Week two of training Daryl commences today. I’ve got this week and next week to bring him up to speed, then the Army yanks me again for a few weeks. My board file for LTC popped up online, and, of course, it’s missing a few important documents… like the fact that I attended an Advance Course and Command & General Staff College. It’s also missing my decorations and a few other items. I keep my own personnel file, so I did some scanning and emailing this weekend to get the file updated. If I get LTC, I think I’ll apply for a battalion command within a 500 mile radius. I really enjoyed my Company Command 10 years ago, and going out in command of a Battalion would be cool. Of course, if I get that, maybe War College and a push for full bird, but that’s getting a little ahead of myself.

MotoGP in Estoril is this weekend. I’m going to have a low-key bar-b-que affair on Sunday and watch the Eurosport feed of the event in the Ark. 1600 hrs if any of my usual riding clan are interested. I’ll need a head count.

I was looking at the specs on the new MV F4-RR. The engine specs look very impressive and are a step up from my ’07. I’m guessing it will put out 175 hp at the rear wheel.  That’s a full 15 more than my ’07. But the new RR bike weighs the same. That mutes my enthusiasm. 

I have this week to knock out my article on Johnson City. I’ll be doing that at night and trying to keep Daryl busy during the mornings. That leaves the afternoons to tear into the ST4.

Enjoy your work week.

 – LT evo

21 May, 2011–Last day on earth….What to ride? (John)

You have access to every motorcycle ever made in history.

The world will end at 6PM.

Which bike would you choose for your last ride before the mushroom clouds envelope us?

20 May 2011 – Monstering it

I spent the week split between time at the U, training Daryl and working in the shop. The M900 is purring again thanks to cleaning the carbs. I’m blaming the carb clog to ethanol. It doesn’t take much to clog a jet.

I had an existing client develop a problem with his M620. The culprit was a fuel line that disconnected from the fuel pump inside the tank. It’s a 1 minute fix that took an hour due to getting the darn fuel pump out. You need a skinny arm in order to snake it inside the tank to pull the pump. It bruises my forearm every time. While in there, I noticed a lot of rust from water deposits. Water settles at the rear of the tank by the hinge. After 5 years or so the tank begins to leak, and the tank is then finished. Gas dryer needs to be a staple of anybody with a metal tank.

The donor ST4 goes up on the lift next week for a full service and the Mh900e will roll in to troubleshoot the no-start issues. 

Good comments on the racing action last weekend, at it sounds like Bill’s mountain exp was good despite the crashes. The local riders said the same about their time up there.

Enjoy your weekend.

17 May 2011 – Rides this weekend

Sat bfast run to Oasis – depart Ark at 0730

Sun – full Blackwater run – depart Whataburger at 0730.

15 May 2011 – Updates

MotoGP Spoiler below

Here’s another hodge podge of random thoughts.

1. One of the discussions I had with a journalist last week was over ergonomics. He commented that when  you walk into a bicycle shop, they take your measurements and put together a bike that fits you. I motorcycling, they design a bike with no consideration for the shapes and sizes of the riding masses. I agree with John’s comments with regards to economies of scale, but it doesn’t take much to provide a bike with adjustable footpeg and clip on height.

2. I rode the SS1000 through Blackwater today with John Robinson. He was on his new-to-him SV1000S.  The SS1000 is the closest Ducati ever came to a 2v Superbike. It corners like a dream, without having to replace the stock suspension.

3. John filled me on on the events in the mountains for the 11 riders that went. 3 rashed bikes and 1 broken leg.  I got tired of people’s crashes ruining the fun a long time ago. 3-4 riders max is just about right. More than that is like too many cooks in the kitchen.

4. I started inspecting the M900 on the lift this weekend. She’ll come off the lift later this week and await pickup. I really don’t have any feelings over the matter, even though I’ve owned her for 15 years. I just ride too fast to enjoy her any more, and it’s not fair to flog the motor. The M900 is prettier, but I’ve gone down the road of performance… sort of. If I was really into performance for a naked I’d eye the Streetfighter, but then I prefer my nakeds to be air/oil cooled.

5. Kudos to Ducati for scoring a podium again. That matches my expectations for Rossi this year. The Duke is down on horsepower, but not by much.  If Ducati takes a win, I’ll have a promotion to celebrate. The Simoncelli/Pedrosa mishap was unfortunate. That pretty much dooms Pedrosa’s title hopes. The guy has a knack for injuries. Anyway, some of the riders have complained to the FIM about Simoncelli’s riding habits. In short, I think they’re pussies. His pass of Pedrosa was bold, but if it was Rossi, there wouldn’t have been a stop and go penalty. Simoncelli is a good kid. I’d rather see somebody that has some flash than whining babies. Remember when Gibernau used to complain about Rossi. That got him real far. I guess I’m just not a fan of Pedrosa or Lorenzo. And I’m getting fed up with Stoner’s whining too. Now that he’s away from Ducati, I can bitch.

6. I’ve got 3 weeks to square things away before the Army takes me again. I’m starting to feel like a yoyo.

7. I had to retire my HJC AC11 after 6 years of faithful service. The inner lining is bio-degrading. I also retired an old Arai that I never wear.  My NEXX is my newest fave helmet. I’m also going to give a Scorpion EXO-500 a go.

8. I set the S2R gearing to 15/40. That should give her some longer legs for Blackwater.

9. I start training Daryl tomorrow.

Enjoy your workweek.

LT evo

12 May 2011 – Back at it

Nice post Ken. I was discussing the same issue with fellow moto-journalists at dinner last night. If Ducati would put effort into fuel economy instead of horsepower, just think of where we’d be. In a similar vein, check out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-8dFbvh_lY

I had a nice visit with family up in PA, and stopped off in Tennessee to blitz twisties on a 400SM for a few days. It was a good choice for most of the rides, but my HMs does everything better then the 400SM. But I can’t complain – free bike and gas, free food, nice room at the DoubleTree, and awesome tour guides of the area.  Johnson City TN is a very biker-friendly city and is courting motorcycling big time. They have developed a series of rides called the Southern Dozen, which all eminate from the town. I did 6 of the dozen, enough to recommend it. It’s too far for us panhandlers, but for others within driving distance, it might be appealing. I’ll be writing the MCN piece on it next week.

See:

http://www.johnsoncitytnchamber.com/visit/motorcycle-tours/

I’ll knock out the 37 orders in the shopping cart and get to my other catch-up chores.  The rest of the month is nothing but DT.  I start showing Daryl the biz on Monday.

Enjoy the rest of your week

LT evo

9 May 2011 – Motorcycles Going Forward (Ken)

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately; as I’ve been trying to encourage a couple of family members to get on two wheels. The research done so far would make for a really long post, but I’m not going to write about that today. Why? Well, because facts usually have little to do with reality.

For example. The sale of heavy motorcycles with economy less than that achieved by cars continues. BMW, once the bastion of technology for the sake of advancement, introduced an inline-6 that I just don’t understand. It’s nice, or so the reports say, but what does it accomplish other than add two cylinders to an already existing platform that could have had money spent someplace else? A 1200cc engine is more than enough for even the heaviest load, especially if coupled to a super or turbocharger (which would normalize performance no matter how high the mountains you climbed).  If anyone thinks that this would be beyond the capability / add too much cost, ask yourself how much it cost to develop a new engine from scratch.

So, in trying to get family and friends on two wheels, they’re asking questions like this: “what kind of gas mileage can I expect?” “Are tires expensive to replace?” “How often do you need to change the oil?” “Does it use regular gas, or do I have to use premium?”

Kind of sounds like they’re buying a piece of transportation equipment instead of a toy, doesn’t it?

That’s what seems to be the problem with so many of the motorcycles that you can find for sale today in the United States. They’re impractical. They’re uncomfortable. They’re expensive.

This is one of the reasons that scooters are pulling a much larger share of the “transition” market than motorcycles. It’s not because people can’t figure out how to shift gears. Aprilia made a motorcycle a few years ago with a CVT instead of a gearbox, but it didn’t capture scooter sales like they expected. Why? I’m going to go out on a limb and say it was because it didn’t make economic sense to people who might be looking for an alternative to a car. Mileage wasn’t all that spectacular compared to a scooter, the tires were more expensive, and servicing it wasn’t nearly as user friendly as the tiny motors on a scooter (which let’s be honest, are often times made to run full out for maximum efficiency and thus there are spare parts available for much less than a replacement scooter).

So, what next?

Well, if any of the motorcycle manufacturers had guts enough to make it, and I think there are a few that might, the next step is a small displacement, multi-cylinder bike with forced induction running low compression that has ABS as standard along with a windscreen and big bags and a comfortable seat (of a height that normal people, including the average woman, can ride comfortably).

The issue right now is that the only people trying to meet any of these goals are electric bike developers. Yep. Even with all of the issues with battery storage, weight, and recharge, electric bikes are coming much closer to this goal than any of the internal combustion folks. Why is this? Probably because they are small and don’t have anything to lose. That’s really sad if you think about it.

The internal combustion engine and the electric motor both have storied pasts, especially in non-automotive uses (if you’ve ever been around big generators, those that are over 1 MW in size, you might have a greater appreciation for the relationship). However, it seems that with gas prices pushing $4 a gallon, and most likely not going back down to $0.79 in my lifetime (Georgia in 1999), consumers need more than “fun” to get them out riding.

This is a time for people of great vision to reshape the landscape. Otherwise, we might find ourselves forced into fuel economy like the auto manufacturers, and emissions testing would follow close on the heels of that you can be sure (where there is a dollar to be made in the economy of today, don’t think that “heritage” or “history” can protect us).

If we don’t start doing it ourselves, someone else will do it for us (to us).

Ken

4 May 2011 – Outta here for a week

I caught up on orders yesterday and today and got the business squared away. I fixed Bryan’s 900ss. It had the common charging malady – a blown voltage regulator. I hooked him up with one of my digital voltmeters, a new battery and a new voltage regulator. One empty wallet later, he’s out the door. 

That concludes the fixes needed in the shop, except for one. I wheeled the M900 up on the lift to use as a display for my Seminar last month, and it still sits there. I still haven’t taken off the FCR’s to blow them out, but will do so when I get back. She’s sold and I got the check yesterday to prove it. I’ll wait until I get back and make sure she’s tuned before I cash the check. Once the M900 is off the lift, the ST4 goes up for a full service and then will be promptly sold. If I sell that, plus 2 more bikes this year, I’ll be happy.

My motorcycle tour of Tennessee changed a bit. It’s now only 2 full days, and my selection of bikes is limited. It will be twisty riding, so I made a choice that would be good for that – a SM. I didn’t think a Mille or an R1 would be a good choice. I had more fun on my HMs in the mountains than just about anything else I’ve ever ridden up there. We’ll see.  I hope Mom understands that I need to bug out halfway through Mother’s day to do a motorcycle ride. I’m getting there two days early as a consolation.

Last year this time was one of the worst weeks of my life. There was enough drama for a lifetime, and things came unglued. I’m glad things are much better this year.

I’m offline for a week. You other editors feel free to post. I even turned off my email on my phone and set up an autoreply. I’m a bit burnt out.

TTYL – LT evo.