There are times (and they are many) that I know I could handle the current traffic situation much better if I was on two wheels. The ability to process incoming visual information and transfer it to moving the bike seems to work at a much faster rate while on two wheels. I'm sure that comes from the fact that one is "more aware" when riding a motorcycle.
2. Feeling of being caged in.
The "cager" name obviously comes from somewhere and you feel it when driving a car. There is too much temptation when driving to be lulled into a "I'm the only one here" frame of mind and there are too many things to distract you from what you really need to be doing. I miss the lack of feedback from the world while being sealed up in a car.
3. Rage demon rears it's head too much.
Have you ever seen the Disney cartoon with Goofy called "Motor Mania"? It came out in 1950 and is classic Goofy. It's also exactly how I see practically anyone who gets behind the wheel of a car. It's like a Jekyll and Hyde transformation and all it takes is one little thing to set someone off. It happens with me as well and I don't like it. I have taken chances that have brought me way too close to an expensive meeting of metal. On bike, I'm calm and much more centered. I may glare at people who act like I'm not there, but my chances of freaking out are slim to none.
4. Lack of visibility
In my mind, motorcycles give you 360 degree vision. At a point in time I can see anything around me with a quick glance. Nothing of my vehicle gets in my way. In a car, the car actually gets in the way of being able to see. There are just way too many blind spots when compared to a bike and when you have passengers...well, stationary blind spots are bad enough...ones that move around and babble are worse.
Actually, hate is a little strong. I really do enjoy driving the car, but as we all know it doesn't even compare to riding bike
It kills me to say that my riding season is over, but Mother Nature has the upper hand here and she is playing all her cards. It's damn cold, there is a good foot of snow and a wacky amount of ice. I'm still holding out for a few nice days, but it looks like winter is here to stay.
Currently, Selene is under the veranda covered up with the battery removed. Snow has touched her twice this year due to unexpected storms and the other day I had to shovel out snow that was around her. The only problem is that I can't afford storage yet. With Xmas only a heart beat away, we just don't have the money. The only chance I have is an offer from the superintendant of our building. He mentioned the possibility of storing her in the garage of building one (we are in building two). But that was months ago and I haven't been able to talk with him since. I hope that pans out...it will save us a ton of money and it will keep Selene very close by.
Have I mentioned that I hate winter?
Okay, the ride home was my coldest ride thus far. -8 C (17.6 F) and that was without the wind. With the wind I was looking at -14 C (6.8 F). Needless to say, it was even colder once I was moving. Thing is, the only thing that got cold was my hands...and I mean cold. It took a dip in cold water to get them back to temperature and to hold off most of the pain. I may have to consider those Widder Lectrics...
Before I go into the more comfortable part of this post, I want to address the "safer" part of it. You see, I have a set route to work in the mornings. It gets me to work in a decent time, avoids most traffic and gives me the best chance at green lights (goggles fog up faster when you stop...go figure). Part of my regular route has suddenly become a life threatening situation. There is a section of the road on the opposite side of a rise that (I can only guess) has a broken water pipe under it. That means that it is always covered in water, day or night. Add to that the fact that morning temperatures are always around 0 C (32 F) and you have a situation that becomes deadly.
I didn't know about the water and I also couldn't see it in time as I approached the rise. By the time I saw it, it was too late to swerve or stop. As soon as I hit the water I knew it wasn't liquid anymore and any attempt to control Selene had gone out the window. The rear wheel broke loose immediately and the entire bike started to wobble. My only saving grace was the fact that the ice patch was only small. When rubber met actual pavement again, Selene straightened up and we were flying straight once more.
I tell ya...I was quite awake after that experience and I learned that motorcycles should not be taken on ice without some extra precautions. Like outriggers or spiked tires.
So now I have a different route for work until they fix that portion of the street.
On the issue of comfort... Recently I've been turned onto Mark's Work Wearhouse and the fantastic things they have. I purchased new jeans that were fully put to the test today. These jeans are painter style with thick jean material lined with felt. In zero degree weather my legs barely got cold. It was amazing and I may have to buy a couple more pairs. This place may actually be my new clothes store.
The only thing I'm having an issue with now is my gloves. The previous "cold weather" ones I purchased now equal crap. My hands are numb by the time I get to work and that is just unacceptable. Cold is one thing, but painful is another. Looks like I have some shopping to do.
Not a half hour later the wind has ramped up to 37 kph (22.9 mph) gusts and leaves are flying everywhere.
I can handle rain, snow and cold...I've been on two wheels in all of it. The one thing that will put me in a bad mood while riding is strong gusty winds. It's like Mother Nature herself is trying to bully me off the road.
I guess it comes down to a loss of control. When you have the wind blowing you all over the place, it's really hard to the bike straight and there is not much you can do to stop it other then parking your butt. Oh, did I mention I was stubborn? If it's nice out, I'm not parking my butt for anything short of a tornado. So instead, I end up in a bad mood after cursing out Mother Nature for however long I'm out on two wheels.
Oh, before I forget...Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians out there!
Want to know how I know that?
I'll start with the fact that I hardly ever turn off my high beam. I whole heartedly believe that it assists in my daytime, dusk and evening visibility.
I was pulling out of the garage at work and took note of my reflection in a window. I noticed that said reflection was missing some very vital light. Flipping the light switch to low beam showed that it was working, but I was SOL for my high beam.
I was not pleased. Not only do I use my high beam the most, but it was dark and I had to travel on some roads that do not have street lights and are very much surrounded by forest.
That was the first reason that popped up for needing a new headlight. The second reason involved a rather large furry animal on the above mentioned road with no street lights.
If my high beam had been working, I would have noticed the dog sized racoon that had stumbled onto the road. Unfortunately, the high beam was not working and I saw the racoon come to a stop about a whisker length away from my front wheel.
I'm still having visions of what could have happened had the furry little critter wandered just a little closer or not stopped at all. Gives me chills.
So there you go...I need a new head light...really really soon.
Has anyone else noticed that it's chilly out there lately? Sheesh, you wouldn't know but it was fall or something. Oh...wait a minute...where did the summer go?
The end of summer is fast approaching and I'm dreading every minute of it. I go through this every year with the first stage being denial. I hate it when people tell me that there aren't many days left for riding. Like I don't have red X's on my calendar or anything. Bikers are one of the few people in the world that can tell you how many days are left of the summer and what the weather is going to be like over the next seven days. We aren't meteorologists, but the upcoming weather is just as important to us.
I have been thoroughly neglecting my blog for most of the summer, but I think many of us have. There are far too many things going on to sit down and just type. As it is, I haven't gotten all the things done that I wanted to this summer. Life just gets in the way...no, that's not quite right. Life is a part of the ride and the reason we ride, so it doesn't get in the way. It just introduces us to new journeys, adventures and roads. So lets just say that life led me down a few different paths.
This summer has been great. There has only been a couple of days where I couldn't ride to work and one day where I got drenched on the way into work. The short journeys have been plenty and the long ones have been spectacular. I've been to bike shows, bike rallies and show & shines. My CMC riding chapter has grown and we now have a comfortable group that is chomping at the bit for rides. I can't wait until we grow even more. I even rolled over 20, 000 km on Selene and I'm sure she won't have a problem with doing many more.
All in all, I can't really complain.
Oh wait, winter is coming...but I'm sure you've already heard me complain about that. ;)
Start: August 12th, 2007 7:30AM
Surprise, surprise...we slept in. We were supposed to be up by 6:30AM, but as usual we were running a little behind.
We were staying at my parents place, which was already full due to visiting relatives. This gave us a head start, seeing as Sussex is on the way to Nova Scotia for us.
Due to conflicting schedules, this was going to be a short trip. That meant that we could pack light. A two day trip only required a couple of changes of clothes, rain gear (one never knows), snacks, spare helmets (the shorties for the scenic ride), and a few other odds and ends. The saddle bags were only half full and we had the usual piece of luggage bungied to the rear rack.
We had to forego breakfast and get on the road as soon as possible. It's not that we had a schedule to adhear to or anything, it's just that we wanted to travel in as much daylight as possible when we hit the Cabot Trail.
We did hop into Salibury Big Stop for a bite to eat. One can only go so far on an empty stomach.
Taking the highway for a trip doesn't give you much to write about. The only problem we had was a slight turn around in the Moncton area which cost us about another 45 minutes.
The next long stop we made was at the Cobequid Pass Toll Plaza in Nova Scotia. It kind of irked me that a motorcycle has to pay the same toll charge as a car. With a little investigation I found out that bikes are grouped together with cars when figuring the amount of traffic through the toll plaza. Four dollars isn't much, but considering a motorcycle has less of an impact on a highway then a car does, it doesn't seem quite fair.
After that we had to make a short detour into Springhill, NS to make sure we didn't run out of gas. I realized that we were only getting around 186 Km to the reserve tank due to the wind and load. With that fill up and a check in call to mom and dad, we were off again.
At this point, things are pretty boring. It's just straight shots to gas stations for a break and fuel. The next one was at Westville, NS just south of Pictou. You know the highway ride was boring when you reflect on it and can't remember anything interesting to write.
The last gas stop before Cape Breton was at Auld's Cove, NS. A cramped little Irving Big stop that gave us a chance to rest, eat and snap some pictures. At this point we could look across the water and see Cape Breton. It's separated from the mainland by a strait (spanned by a cause way) that runs between St. Georges Bay and Chedabucto Bay.
Once our belly's were full we were mounted and running again. Within a few minutes we were across the cause way and rolling through Cape Breton.
Heading into Cape Breton is like heading into a different country, geography wise. It actually reminds me of my hometown except for all the surrounding ocean. The landscape is hilly and the best road follows the coast line giving you an incredible view.
Our view was particularly great due to the fact that we were on two wheels and the sun was slowly going down. We got to experience the sunset first hand.
We made a quick stop at Inverness, NS so Joey could double check directions and fuel up locations. With that figured out we hung around a bit to take some pictures, relax and stretch.
We quickly found out that some of the instructions we got were a little off. As we rode into a small town I noticed this:
Last Gas for 140km
I didn't have 140km left in the tank, so I figured it would be good to pull into...the abandoned gas station. One of the few things that will make me panic when driving is running out of gas. Mainly because I completely blame it on myself for being stupid and stranding me and whoever is with me.
It turns out it didn't say "Last Gas", but said "Last Esso". Joey figured there had to be another gas station so we puttered on with me using downhill runs to our advantage.
Sure enough, a little while later, we rode into Chéticamp and found a station. In my haste, Selene got an extra special treat. I accidently filled her up with supreme which was more then a little expensive. Ah well, she deserved it...I just hoped that she liked it.
With the fill up out of the way we motored on and before long we entered Cape Breton Highlands National Park. This is where things got interesting, fun and seriously picturesque.
As soon as you enter the park you are greeted with this sight:
And afterwards you are not let down. This was easily one of the most gorgeous rides I have ever done. For the entire ride you are skimming the coast, flowing up and down hills of green and gold, and dragging pegs on roads that litterally switch back on themselves. At one point I wasn't sure if Joey's squeals were of delight or fear as we continually used pegs for brakes while doing the slalom downhill.
It was fantastic and we wanted more, but the sun had set and we had quite a distance to go.
It was getting chilly which meant it was time to gear up a little more. We pulled over to stretch, do a map check and dig out my gloves and goggles. The sun was almost completely below the horizon and we had several hours to go. I was only worried about one thing...gas...and that worry would become a problem soon.
We were on the home stretch and gunning it. We passed a moose grazing on the side of the road. I smiled and realized that I probably could have reached out and touched him. Then I realized I should probably slow down...not that speed would save us in the case of hitting a moose. Looking in my mirrors I could see all the traffic coming to an abrupt halt as they all wanted to see the moose.
Another set of twisties popped in front of us as we exited the park yet again. Taking these in the dark was rather surreal. All you could see was the yellow and white lines of the road which glowed and twisted like some ghostly snake. We kept catching up to a car that was taking the road much slower then we were. I think they got tired of us because they pulled over when there was a straight away.
On to the gas issue.
We rolled into Ingonish well after dark and pulled into a very empty and very closed gas station. All this with only about 40Kms left in my tank. Considering that Sydney was around 125Km away from Ingonish, it was obvious we were screwed. Initiate panic mode and a few choice words.
We traveled up the road a bit to see what we could see and discovered a police station...that was empty. No help there. There was, however, a restaurant across the way which was opened and full of people. Joey went inside to inquire, she is more of a people person then I am.
She finds out that one of the girls working there knows the people that own the gas station. Within seconds she is on the phone asking if they can open up to give us gas. The only real downside was being charged a 15 dollar service fee for having him do that. Let's see...lose 15 bucks for gas or 85 bucks on the hotel room. Can you guess which way we went?
With Selene filled up and new directions in our heads, we were on our way again.
It was a straight shot this time, Sydney or bust. We were glad to see that the ferry, which would cut considerable time off our journey, was operating 24 hours. That would have to be one heck of a boring job. I have to say that he was very friendly though. We chatted about the evening and our destination for a bit before we paid him and went on our way.
Within an hour, the city was well in site.
Sidebar: and Joey will hate me for this one. Earlier that day Joey said, "Now, you will see a lot of signs for Sydney. Sydney Mines, North Sydney... Just follow the one for Sydney and we will be fine." Okay, nothing to it. As we entered Sydney I noticed a sign for our hotel which said the exit we needed. It wouldn't be for some time, but it was easy enough to follow the highway. Minutes later Joey is tapping my arm to pull off the highway on an exit for North Sydney. Do you see a problem here? She saw a sign for King Street, which led into North Sydney. Unfortunately our hotel was on King Road...in Sydney.
With the little mishap out of the way, we finally made it to our hotel. We were exhausted, relieved and ecstatic. It had been a wonderful ride with great weather and now we were at a big comfortable hotel. They were kind enough to let me park the bike in front of the hotel lobby doors so she would be safe. After some exploring a bit we retired to our room to watch a movie and snuggle into our king sized bed.
Joey wasn't able to get the same amount of time that I was so we made due with what we had. We managed to fit in a full road trip to another province and a smaller road trip, via car, with our daughter.
Along with all that, I had family visiting my parents for that whole stretch. It was great to see my aunt, uncle and their kids again. I was able to stay at mom and dads for my whole vacation, it's nice to be around family.
The bike road trip was to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to hit the Cabot Trail. It was only a two day trip, but it was truly about the ride. I think anyone who rides two wheels should ride the Cabot Trail at some point. The scenery is gorgeous and the twisties are to die for...quite literally. Most times you are riding the edge of a rather steep drop in elevation.
It was quite an adventure and next time it will be longer then a couple of days. We plan to get a cottage near the beach and use it as a base camp to explore the island.
I'll have a write up for the trip ready (hopefully) for tomorrow along with a few pictures. Speaking of which, you can see them all right here.
There is no way we could go the entire summer without a trip of some kind, so Joey set up plan B.
Plan B is a two day trip to the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia/Cape Breton. Weather permitting, it should be great. I've heard nothing but good things about riding the Cabot Trail so it Should be a good opportunity to take a bunch of pictures as well.
Four years ago today I married the woman that is now my pillion. Four years that have been far from smooth. Four years that has demanded change from a person that resists change like a brick wall resists wind.
I'm not sure if you can tell, but I never thought I would end up married. I always thought the expense was silly for a simple piece of paper that says we are together. But regardless of my thoughts and beliefs here I am, four years later, bound by a piece of paper and all manner of things that I don't believe in.
Saying that things haven't been smooth is a bit of an understatement. It's been pretty damn rough and for the most part, I've been the root cause of it all. My nature is to be resistant, hard headed, and solitary. I am an only child and while not spoiled, I certainly was able to have my way and spent a lot of my time alone doing things that I wanted to do. I detest having people relying and being dependant on me and I hate being proded into making decisions.
Can you get a hint of what I'm like to live with?
Well, my fellow rider through this pot hole laden life, has held onto that pillion and weathered through it all. She has put up with every storm that I've thrown her way and even made a few of her own which have changed me and my views.
At one point we had almost taken separate roads, but the introduction of a rather sleek mistress changed that. Selene glided into the picture on a rather mundane trip to the local dealership. Oh, and get this...it wasn't my idea. How many men can actually say their wife encouraged them, nigh pushed them into getting a motorcycle? If you can be counted among those, consider yourself lucky...as I'm sure you do.
Selene was originally going to be my transportation as I went my separate way, but she seemed to steer me in another direction. She gave me the ability to disappear and dwell in my own little world. The chance to get away from everything and make it not exist if only for a few hours. She became my decompression tank and I left many a mile of stress behind while riding.
After that, things got better. A long distance ride that was supposed to be solo ended up being two up. She braved a stock seat and miserable weather on a ride to Ontario and back not being able to talk to anyone while moving and thoroughly enjoyed it. That ride put a link between us again and harkened back to the days when the only transportation we had was a motorcycle.
Mind you, things aren't perfect. We still have our problems and I still have my times, but I'm working on it. I'm happy to be where I am and I'm happy to be with her. Believe me, that's a long way from where I was not too long ago.
Looks like one loud, well designed machine did more than one over paid shrink could ever do.
Here's to us! And here is to the mistress that showed me the way.
Speaking of rides...
Have you ever been out riding and realized that you probably shouldn't be? I went out for a spin yesterday to snap some pictures and found that Selene and I were meshing really well. A little too well. I found I was taking chances that I usual don't and had way too much attitude. I was easily doing double the speed limit in some areas and weaving around traffic in other areas. While I'll admit that it was quite fun and my invincibility seemed to be holding out quite well, there would come a time when reality would smush my little shield and then I would have more repairs to pay for...among other things.
So I cruised home, parked Selene and relaxed for the rest of the day. If I get too many of those day, I'll have to get a track bike.
I've taken a little break from blogging, nothing too serious. All is well in the riding world and otherwise.
The saddle bags are fixed and look as good as new. The place that fixed the gouges also fixed up the "extra" holes that we drilled into them. You wouldn't know they ever existed. I'm not completely pleased with the job, but it's much better then having several glaring scratches on the side. I also picked up a wrench that fits the bolts for the bags and they are now quite snug with very little vibration. All I had originally was a very small thumb wrench that I couldn't fit in between the bags and the fender.
The pipes are once again spotless.
Cleaning done with the help of my good friend Autosol.
The shifter is also, dare I say, bent into a better position. Before the spill I couldn't fit the toe of my boot under the shifter to push up. Now I can do it with ease. The only thing remaining is the fender, but that will have to hold off for a bit until we get some extra money. For some reason you can't just order the front piece. You have to buy the set of two, with one for the front and one for the back. Just plain silly and expensive. Double the price to cover up one scratch.
I also seem to have really messed up my wrist. On a ride back from my parents house the other weekend, we encountered some inclement weather. It was cold, raining occasionally and very very windy. Without a windshield, I'm literally hanging onto the bike for dear life. For some reason I wasn't using my throttle lock as much as I should have and now I'm suffering for it. I can't even pick up a cup of tea without getting agonizing pain in my wrist. Actually typing this hurts. So it looks like I'm going to have to be a lefty for a while and give my wrist a bit of a break. It's not going to stop me from riding, of course... ;)
I still haven't gone out to practice my turns, but then again time hasn't exactly been on my side...or the weather for that matter. My last three days off were a mess of thunder storms. Very entertaining to watch, but not so entertaining to ride in. Won't get much of a chance on my next few days either. A CMC member will be in town to visit, so we're hoping for a good few days of riding weather. Here's hoping Mother Nature agrees with us.
I thank all of you for the support. It's good to have people that understand what it's like to drop a piece of machinery that is "almost" a part of the family. And to Allen; I hope Autumn gets back to new soon and it's good to know that only the your pride took the real beating. Best wishes to you.
And with that update, I leave you with a nice HDR shot of Selene and Joey.
So there it is, the place where Selene had a bit of a lie down. It happened a few feet below the dark patch of pavement. In an odd bit of irony, one of the places that could fix the saddle bags was in the same area that we had the "incident".
As for the repairs, here's the deal. I'm not getting a new front fender as the cost is a little on the prohibitive side. Instead, I'll be purchasing the National Cycle chrome fender tip. It will nicely cover the scuff mark on the the fender and should look good as well.
The shift lever is going to take some doing. I can't seem to bend it back in place and I don't have the tools to be able to do it without scratching the hell out of it.
The last thing is the saddle bag. We spent most of yesterday searching for an autobody shop that could get them back to original condition. It took some doing and a bit of travel, but we found a place that will fix them up for 200 bucks and also fix the "extra" holes me and my dad drilled in them. They should be ready by tomorrow, but I won't be picking them up until Monday due to work.
Once that's done, it's back to the parking lot for turn practice.
I can't say I'm over this. It still bugs me and I keep seeing everything replay in my head. Keep wondering what I could have done differently. The only thing that comes to mind is that I shouldn't have been turning on an incline. I know it can be difficult and at low speeds it's even harder.
But it's done and now we have to fork over more cash to get Selene fixed up. Money that should be going to a new seat or Joey's training course so she can get her license.
We were out for a nice ride at night and I steered us into an area that I wasn't familiar with. We were kinda lost/exploring when I decided that we should just turn around and go back the way we came. I tried to pull a U-turn and the weight shifted too much. I tried everything to stop the bike from going down, but there was nothing I could do.
Joey managed to step off the bike, due to the saddle bag keeping the bike up. I stepped off as well, but mainly due to the fact that I was trying to keep Selene up. She made contact on four points; the front fender, the shift lever, the clutch lever and the left saddle bag. It's not a great amount of damage and she is still very much road worthy, but my heart sinks everytime I look at her.
Without further ado, here are the pictures:
As you can see, things aren't too bad. The saddle bag is the worst of it. The impact and drag actually gouged out a layer of fiber glass. I'm not sure if it will be easier to order a new one or get this one repaired. We've decided not to replace the front fender simply due to the fact that the cost is outrageous. It would cost $627.05 CAD to get a new one. Over six hundred bucks for a plastic fender! I have no words to describe how insane that price is.
It's going to take some pull to get that shifter back in place and I can polish off Joey's boot marks. I'm quite used to that anyway. I'm guessing some fine grit sandpaper will help me remove the scuffs on the the clutch lever and the kick stand.
So there you go. That was our wonderful night. As I said before, aside from some very sore muscles, we are fine. Honestly, my ego was hurt more then anything else...and it's going to take a while for that to heal.
So, here is how beautiful Selene was looking earlier this evening
About an hour later I was fighting to keep her upright while Joey fought to not get trapped underneath her. The brand new saddle bags helped prevent that from happening.
Pictures of the damage and an explanation will come when I get up the nerve to go look...
On a side note; we are very sore, but fine.
So I'm a slacker...sue me. You won't get much anyway...hehe.
Last Saturday there was an early bird ride sponsored by Eldridge's Harley-Davidson/Honda. It was a the first ride of the season and come Hades or high waters I was going to be there.
Speaking of Hades...damn, it was warm! It was officially our warmest day of the year. It easily hit 30 C (86 F) and made me regret gearing up with all my warm stuff. I was just glad I didn't wear my leather riding pants...yowch!
The day started off much earlier then normal for a Saturday. Everything started at 11AM, but they were expecting a big turn out. That meant me and Joey were up and out the door before 10AM. Believe me, that is much earlier then I would ever get up on a weekend, but I wanted to make sure we were registered and ahead of everyone else in order to keep the day from getting frustrating.
The day was planned as such:
11:30AM: Barbeque and Show & Shine
1:30PM: Ride starts
Coffee and Doughnut stop halfway in Sussex, NB
Meet up back in Saint John at the Aquarius Bar with prize draws.
I entered Selene in the Show & Shine, but was doomed from the start. She was the only metric in the bunch and she was parked between two custom Harleys. The one to her left was a $30, 000 factory custom springer and on her right was a 2000 Road King that had just had a custom fairing installed that cost $2300. Yeah, she didn't stand a chance.
For the ride we had a police escort out of town. There is nothing like having traffic in all directions halted so you can go through a red light or stop sign. After that, things kind of deteriorated in my eyes. The ride itself was way too fast. On our back roads the speed limit is around 80km/h, but we were easily doing 100km/h plus. I have no problems with going fast and can easily keep up with the best of riders. I also have no doubts about my skills, but a group ride should not be running at those speeds on iffy back roads. I also prefer to keep up with the main group instead of getting left behind, but I was stuck behind someone who obviously had issues with negotiating turns with his motorcycle. On a straight stretch, he would gun it to catch up to the main group, but slow down once a turn came up. I can respect that and I will always be repectful of etiquet on a ride, so I won't pass someone who is having trouble because that can only make things worse. I just find it frustrating.
Here is the biggest problem of the ride though. The halfway stop was not for coffee and doughnuts like the flyer said. The stop was at the Thirsty Mule Saloon in Sussex, NB. It was nice to be able to get something to eat and drink, but seeing so many people drinking alchohol during an H-D sponsored run was very...unnerving. I'm glad that everyone went their separate ways to go back to Saint John, but the last meet up was at another bar!
I'm seriously debating about not going on another of thier group rides. I don't really have an issue with drinks after the ride is over, but during just isn't right and shouldn't be allowed. Double that when talking about rides sponsored by a local dealership with Harley-Davidson attached to the name.
All said and done we were sun burnt, wind burnt, saddle sore, downright exhausted and somewhat annoyed...but we still had fun.
Created with Paul's flickrSLiDR.
So, in my efforts to keep Selene clean I have invested in one of these:
You see, we live in an apartment building and there is no access to outside water taps. I was finding it rather difficult to keep filling up buckets, dragging them downstairs and pouring them over Selene. This holds as much as the buckets, but I use less of it because I can actually direct the water where I need it.
I used it yesterday to clean up Selene for the ride on Saturday and It works like a charm. You can pressurize it, it's made of metal and you can control the water to be a stream or mist. I think I may have to spraypaint it black though...
AKA: How me and my Dad spent our Saturday.
I kid you not. Installing these bags took us most of our Saturday. I do have some advice for people installing these types of bags: follow the instructions and don't second guess yourself. You'll see where that comes from soon enough.
To start, these bags are super easy to scratch. Make sure you have something covering your work area to prevent any marring. That's another lesson I learned and I'm still trying to figure out a way to buff scratches out of fiber glass.
On to the installation...
You will need these tools:
A very straight wall
One thing you have to keep in mind is that these bags are not perfect. There are minor flaws, but you can work around them.
First off, you want to start on the right side of the bike (providing that's where your muffler is). The positioning of the bag above the muffler is the most important part. Break off a piece of foam from the packaging and use the painters tape to hold it in place on top of your muffler. This will give you a place to lay the bag while you are fitting it and it will also serve to give you the perfect spacing from the pipes.
With the foam in place you can remove the bolts in the fender rail on the right hand side. With that done, you can put the mounting brackets in place so you can figure out how everything lines up. Here is where one of my problems surfaced. The brake caliper on the right hand side is on the upper portion of the wheel. This meant that no matter where I placed the front bracket, it was always in the way of the caliper.
The mounting hardware comes with spacers, but there are only eight spacers. This means you can put a maximum of two on each bracket. Even with two spacers, there still wasn't enough room to clear the caliper. My biggest worry was the caliper making contact with the brackets. I can only imagine the disaster if that happened. Had two of the brackets been shorter, then there wouldn't have been a problem. The only thing we could do was angle the brackets further toward the rear of the bike.
Like the instructions indicated, we put painters tape on the area that needed to be drilled. This also helped us in marking where the holes for the brackets needed to be. It took my skinny little hands to make those marks while my Dad held the bag to the bike. I could only make half a circle due to the cramped quarters, so once the bag was off we matched up the bracket and finished drawing the circle. After that, it was just a matter of finding the center of the mark.
I have no pictures of the drilling due to the fact that I had to hold the bags in place. I'm sure you can picture what it looks like though. ;) Be careful drilling the holes and remember that you are working with fiber glass. It will splinter quite easily even with the tape on it. Go slow and be wary of the carpet on the inside of the bag. It's also a good idea to touch up the holes with paint to prevent any further splintering.
With the holes drilled, it's always a good idea to test the mounting one final time to make sure everything looks good. Once that's done, mount the brackets to the bag and use painters tape the second set of brackets to the first.
Put painters tape on the inside surface of the second bag and use a straight wall to line them up as best as possible (Note: the black hinges will mark a white wall). This is where you will discover if there are any imperfections in the bags. This is also where we screwed up. We lined up the bags and I marked where the holes should go. When we sat back and looked at them, they didn't seem to match up. An hour and some measuring later, we were sure that the marks were wrong. I made a template that we could flip over and marked the new holes which we were sure would work. We were wrong and the bag ended up sitting too far forward and way out of line with the other one. A new set of holes had to be drilled with new positioning of the bag. I state again, follow the instructions and do not second guess yourself.
That's it. Once the second one is ready, do the test fit and you should be good. Use the supplied hardware, mount the bags permanently and your bike should have a sexy behind like this:
Due to our mistake, there were two extra holes in the left side bag. We fixed this up with silicone and black duct tape. Because it's facing the bike, you don't even notice it and the silicone seals the holes.
Here are some things that we changed and a few others that I'm going to change:
We didn't like how small the washers were for the inside of the bags. Instead we used larger washers, that my father had in his collection of odds and ends, to help distribute the weight of the bags on the bolts.
Having two separate spacers on each mounting bracket looks bad. I have full intentions on buying single large spacers for each bracket.
The rubber grommets that are used for sealing the outside of the bags (at the drilled holes) are already starting to crack. I'll definitely need replace those really soon.
The one thing I would really like to do is use two strips of metal inside the bags. One strip to go between the top part of the mounts and one strip for the bottom. This would help distribute the weight of the bags more evenly and alleviate my fears of the mounting brackets eventually breaking the fiber glass due to vibration and spine jarring bumps.
All in all, I love them. They look great on Selene and are well worth the money paid. My only real complaint is the fact that everything is riveted to the bags. The hinges, the clasps and the prop arm aren't screwed in place, they are riveted. This makes it impossible to readjust anything if you find it isn't fitting right.
I have yet to test the ability of the bags to keep out water. The only bad weather I've been in is thick fog. I got soaked, but the bags barely got wet. The rubber seals seem snug, but the only real test will be a down pour. I'm sure the Maritimes won't have any issues providing me with testing grounds.
Now I'm seconds away from ordering a new Corbin seat. I'd tell you why, but Joey would kick my ass...
Yup, a little piece of yellow paper that isn't even laminated or made of card stock. It says that she can ride a bike, but not on the road or anywhere else... Pretty cool, eh?
She did get things straightened out as to what the permit entitles though. I am allowed to drive her and the bike to the testing lot so she can practice, but it has to be after hours. Also, if someone comes there to do parallel parking, we have to stop until they leave. That's what we will be doing until we can scrounge up the cash to pay for the course. Without taking the course, her insurance would be astronomical, so it's definitely in our best interest.
It's going to be interesting giving her the basics and making sure she can handle Selene, although I'm not sure how Selene is going to take being handled by someone else... ;) The reason for Selene being in the mix is the fact that Joey needs a large bike for the test or she will have to go back again to get the higher grade license. Aw, graduated licensing...you gotta love it. Oh, and here's to my patience...may I have a lot of it...hehe.
In other news, Selene has her saddle bags on and she is looking pretty good with her big behind. ;) I'll post the pictures in the next couple of days along with the ordeal that me and my dad went through to get them mounted. Ugh, what a day.
I remember the first time I went for mine. It was pretty simplistic with a few multiple choice questions, sign recognition and a vision test. After that you could ride as long as you had a licensed driver following you, not on the highway and not at night. It was the perfect situation and it wasn't long before I had my license. Of course, this was also long before the graded licenses and quite some time before I got my car license. As a matter of fact, once I got my bike license I had no intentions on learning to drive a car. I didn't see the point.
I got a call at 10:20am, it was joey, she had just finished the test and ace'd the motorcycle section. Here is the funny part and the part that makes me wonder about the validity of the beginners test. There were ten questions for the motorcycle section and 20 questions for the car section. The CAR section! There were questions on there about passengers in a car,seat belts and even when studs are allowed on tires for the winter! What in the blazes do these questions have to do with a motorcycle and why are there so many more car questions than motorcycle questions? It blows my mind that she failed a motorcycle test due to irrelevant questions about operating a car!
The fact that there are twice as many questions about operating a car then operating a motorcycle just goes to show how relevant they think motorcycles are. The only saving grace is that they offer a motorcycle training course, but that will run you around 400 bucks and it's not mandatory! If the New Brunswick DOT can't be bothered with creating a test that fully covers motorcycle operation how can they expect the riders to take motorcycles seriously?
Even when she gets the beginners license, she can't go anywhere. I can't follow behind her in the car so she can get used to riding and I can't take her to a parking lot to practice. She has to practice on our own property with no other vehicles around. What good is that? We live in an apartment and have no property to speak of which only leaves us with paying 400 for the course. Now don't get me wrong I really want her to take it, but we can't afford it quite yet and I would like to get her used to the bike before enrolling.
Needless to say, I'm a little miffed and more then a little disgusted with how all this works. At least when I took my test the booklet was all about motorcycles and so were the questions. The booklet they gave her is 134 pages long and had a whole 11 pages devoted to motorcycles...that's really sad.
I'm not sure what things are like where you are, but I'm sure they are a damn sight better than this...
Thanks to Biker Betty for letting me in on this one. I have to say, this is one of the more cute personality tests I've seen. I'll have to make sure my wife looks it over to make sure this particular Dæmon fits me.
Not much has been going on otherwise. The weather here has been pretty crappy and Selene has be sulking under the veranda. She is a little mad at me for being a bit too careless when covering her up the other night. A part of the cover melted onto her pipes and now I have a rather large clean up job ahead of me. Oops.
I have some observations about how guys react around motorcycles. You can file these under stereotypes if you want, they are just silly little things that make me smile. They are also the things I encounter most when I start talking to a guy about my bike.
1. "Nice bike!" Usually follows after, "Is that your bike?" Well, I'm standing by it and I'm dressed in leather, you do the math.
2. "What year is it?" As if that matters. I get this so much that I'm thinking of having it painted on the tank.
3. "How fast is it?" Um, it can do the speed limit.
4. "I used to have a bike, but the wife made me get rid of it." Um, what now? You'll have to pardon me, but no one could ever make me give up my bike. Oh, and my wife? She told me to buy a new one. ;) You may need to rethink your situation.
5. "I'm thinking about getting a bike." I hear this one a lot. Around here you'll sometimes hear, "or maybe an ATV..." added after. Always good for an internal chuckle. Months go by and they are still thinking about buying one or the other.
Oddly enough, I have never gotten the horrible crash story where someone's friend's relative lost "X" number of limbs and swears they will never again look a bike, let alone ride one.
Honestly, I prefer it when no one bothers me. I'm riding, I'm relaxing, I'm trying to get away from everyone else. For the most part, I am left alone and that's just fine by me. You think it could be the outfit?
That changed on my last ride home from work on April 16th.
The whole ride home my mind is constantly wandering from one thought to another. Cars passing me on our multi lane main street are actually taking me by surprise because I'm not paying attention to my mirrors. My mask and goggles weren't seated correctly and wind kept making my eyes water.
I could handle that stuff. It was only a short ride and I knew it wouldn't be long before I would be home. There was one last thing though and it really bothered me. Actually, it's still bothering me now.
I was approaching an intersection and I was preparing to turn right. The light was green and I didn't have to worry about oncoming traffic. I took the turn and did so many things wrong that I'm surprised I made it home that night.
First, I looked down, saw dirt in the turn and proceeding to drive through it.
Second, I powered through the turn which caused my rear wheel to slip on the dirt that I had been watching.
Third (and this is the one that really gets me), I put my foot down. I PUT MY FOOT DOWN! The bike wasn't going down and my foot hitting the road actually made the bike even more unstable. All I could hear after that was my foot loudly slapping the road. Aside from falling asleep and blowing through an intersection years ago on my Kawasaki, it's probably one of the dumbest things I've done.
You'll have to forgive me, I tend to dwell a lot and I still haven't forgiven myself for slapping that road. It all boils down to inattention and not having a clear enough head to be riding.
So how about you? Got anything motorcycle related that you beat yourself up for? Or are you a little more forgiving of yourself then I am?
Well, I'm a little late with this, but as you know...I've been forgetting to catch up on a lot of things. :)
So here she is in all her glory sporting her brand new Metzelers.
Ain't she sexy?
While browsing my own archives I realized that I'm behind on a few things. One in particular was a review of the Jafrum helmets that were purchased last year. I was supposed to give a full and final review after a month of use...oops.
So here it is, the final review of our Jafrum shortie helmets.
The ones purchased were the 100 series DOT Beanie. I wanted a short style helmet and didn't really want to shell out a ton of money for another helmet when we already had brand new Icon Alliance SS helmets. The two Jafrum helmets cost less then one Icon helmet and that included shipping and duty.
I was very hesitant about buying helmets online due to the fact that you can't be sure they are going to fit properly. After measuring our heads twice and considering our Icon helmets were extra large (I find full face helmets are always bigger), we figured that a large would be fine for both of us. The website has a sizing page that was quite helpful in figuring out the size we needed. Upon receiving the helmets and trying them on, though, I realized we could have gone a size smaller. Joey's helmet is rather loose and so is mine. The only plus for me is that I always wear a do-rag or cap underneath it so it stays rather snug.
The helmet comes with a visor that attaches to the front via three screws. I removed mine and Joey kept hers on. It's easily removable and you can get a face shield that attaches to the same spot. The face shield is a separate purchase though and comes in clear, smoke or mirror tint.
The colour we went with was flat black, but it doesn't look like the helmet was actually painted. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say it was covered with a plastic/vinyl type of material. That works for me as I have found the helmet is very difficult to scratch. As a matter of fact, the only flaws on the helmet right now are some paint marks picked up from the occasional meeting with a wall.
The padding on the interior of the helmet is sufficient for its purpose. There are no hard spots or uncomfortable areas that take against the old noggin. There is even a nice pad that covers the crown of the head.
I was worried about the sturdiness of the straps. They felt cheap and it didn't look like they could take a lot of stress. The inside of the strap is felt lined, but the exterior portion seems to be made of a vinyl type of material. Contrary to what I thought, it has held out rather well. If anything, the straps have become more pliable and comfortable. Believe me, I don't treat the helmet like a baby. I want this one to have a used look and it has more then easily dealt with my punishment.
The only real complaint I have is about the buckle. It came with the seat-belt type strap closure and it's kind of finicky. Once it's closed, there are no problems and it won't easily let go, but the real problem is getting it to click into place. Sometimes it can take a bit of effort to get it to snap in. You can double or triple that effort if you are wearing gloves. The release button is really small and next to impossible to handle with gloves on, let alone bare hands. I've had my issues with it, but Joey is always having problems getting it to snap closed. On the plus side they do have the D ring loops as well, but the only way to use them properly would be to cut off the seat-belt closure. Otherwise the seat-belt portion flaps around in the wind.
We purchased these helmets last August in hopes of being able to wear them when we took our trip to Niagara Falls. We wore the Icons for the trip up and back, but used the Jafrum helmets for any rides around the Niagara Falls area. For the trip, the Jafrum helmets were bungee netted to the top of our luggage and were submitted to heat, cold and one very wet evening. They survived it all without a problem and mine has become my regular helmet. The other night, I took out my Icon to go for a short ride and realized that it was still covered in all the bugs that we had picked up from our trip back from Niagara Falls. I chuckled to myself as I realized that the cheapy little helmet had become my favourite to wear.
I like the open air feel of the beanie/shortie and it's as close to no helmet as I'm going to get in Canada. As for the Jafrum brand, it gets a thumbs up from me. The build quality is good, it's comfortable for long periods and it's quite affordable. Would I buy from them again? Definitely.
That was this morning in a nutshell.
I booted up my computer and started up my internet browser. One of my home pages happens to be the local weather. -3C (26F) and a quick look out the window shows a layer of frost on everything. Add to that the fact that we are supposed to get another snow storm overnight (I work until 9pm) and you've got a perfect recipe for an internal debate.
I could see that it was getting sunny and it's supposed to hit 8C (46F) today. Not that I would be able to enjoy the warmth with me having to work 12 hours, but at least I knew there was some hope for the day.
So I putter around the house, slowly getting ready for work, while my mind goes into a steady debate over the pros and cons: it might be icy, but it's fun, it's going to be cold, but it's fun... On and on it goes.
I don't want to give you the impression that I'm crazy...well, at least not certifiably crazy. The whole time I'm thinking this, I already know what side will win, I already know what form of transportation I will be taking. There is only one resounding thought that blankets it all: if I have a chance to ride, I'll ride.
Summer is too short, life is too short. Do what you enjoy, do what you love to do. Experience everything you can. When I left this morning, I could feel myself getting colder, but it didn't matter. It was something I could easily deal with and it would soon pass. The fact that I could ride was all that mattered. It didn't matter that I was going to work because this would make my work day all the more bearable, knowing that Selene is in the parking garage waiting for the ride home.
So I guess that's it. That's the draw. That's why I will ride every time I get a chance. That's why I'm glued to weather reports. That's why I'll get miffed every time it snows. That's why the internal debate will only go in one direction...
I've been holding off blogging about my new order just in case things ended up with me being disappointed. As of today, I can gladly say that I'm far from disappointed. As much as I would love this to be a review of the installation, it's going to have to be a review of the shipping. The weather out there is crappy and I don't have the tools nor the time
Today I received my order from Tsukayu.
As you can see, it was well packaged. The box itself took a few knocks and was actually broke open in a couple of spots, but it was wrapped in plastic so nothing actually went through the box.
The items were wrapped in a double layer of foam wrap as well as being encased and separated with styrofoam sheets.
I'm always nervous about unwrapping things like this. I hate seeing things so nicely wrapped only to discover that it still didn't protect it. We all know what the mail is like. No matter how many stickers you put on there announcing that it's fragile, there is always someone who just doesn't care.
Much to my delight, there wasn't a mark on them.
They were covered in dust and bits of foam, but that was nothing a good polishing rag couldn't take care of. I am thoroughly impressed with the finish of these saddle bags. They have a mirror finish with no imperfections at all. I'll have to coat them with a few layers of wax to make sure they are well protected.
The details really make these worth it. The new latch style they are using really looks nice. it used to be a barrel style that was set into the case itself. The new chrome latch helps keep the lid closed tightly and really looks nice against the black.
One of the big selling points for me was the felt lining. In comparison, the National Cycle saddle bags cost twice as much and don't come with any kind of lining. The rubber seal looks pretty sturdy and will definitely get tested out with the weather around the Maritimes.
The prop seems sturdy and holds the cover up quite nicely. It locks solid and doesn't flex either. As of right now I have to release the prop lock myself. I'm guessing that's just because it's new and a little stiff. It doesn't bother me either way as long as it keeps the cover up.
The only thing that really bothers me is the plastic hinge on the rear. It's black, so it doesn't show up that much, but I would rather it be chrome. I'm afraid that this type of plastic may not weather well and could quickly become discoloured. I may replace them with chrome hinges myself, but I have other things that are a higher priority than that.
The mounting hardware was wrapped in bubble wrap and foam wrap which in turn was surrounded by a styrofoam box which was, again, wrapped in foam wrap. Each of them was placed inside a saddle bag. I have to hand it to the packers, short of being dropped from a plane, nothing was going to happen to the mounts.
The mounting hardware is quite different then what I'm used to seeing. Apparently they are designed to keep the cases as close to the bike as possible. The metal is quite thick and sturdy, but I have to wonder if they are strong enough to support the cases. In my searches for information on the internet I never encountered one complaint about this type of mount, so I'm guessing I won't have any issues. Besides, you aren't supposed to overload your saddlebags for safety reasons.
Last, but certainly not least, is the bag-O-parts. In here are all the little things you need to make sure the cases stay on the bike. A very good thing indeed. As you can see, there are keys in there. The locks on the latches are very real and will only open with those keys. I figured they would be the "pretend" locks that you can get, where almost any key will open them. I have one of those locks on my Kawasaki's gas cap. I could use my house key to open it. I'm not quite sure if you can tell, but they supply three keys for the cases. That is very handy for a forgetful person such as myself. One key will stay home, one will be with me and one will be with Joey. As you can tell, I've had experience with "misplacing" keys.
All in all, I am not disappointed with choosing Tsukayu. Total cost for the cases came to $643.31CAD ($539.00USD) and it took approximately 25 days (from order date to delivery date) for me to receive them. I know that seems to be a long time, but you have to keep in mind they came from Hong Kong.
In comparison; the National Cycle Cruiserliner Saddlebags are $649.99USD and you have to buy the mounting hardware separately for $229.95USD. Not including duty (which can be high and you can't get away without it paying now) that's $879.94USD ($1001.37CAD)...yikes. And that's without felt lining and an actual chromed latch.
I know the Cruiserliner Saddlebags would be easier to install and I know that National Cycle is a great name, but I just can't justify that much for a set of hard saddlebags. And no, I wasn't about to buy soft ones. Soft bags just aren't my style and some of them are just as expensive as the Tsukayu ones I now have.
I also have to compliment the staff. Mavis and Yoko (the two I dealt with) were more then willing to answer any questions and were very prompt with all replies. Tsukayu was probably the friendliest and most helpful online dealer I've every had the pleasure of communicating with.
Now the bad news. I'm not going to have time to mount them anytime soon. I'm back into my weekend rotations at work and it will be a month before I have actual weekends again. It has to be done on the weekend due to the fact that my Dad has all the cool tools and this is definitely not a one man job. So, the next installment of this review will come at a later date and will be more detailed with just as many pictures...if not more. For the time being I'll just watch the snow melt...or accumulate...*sigh*