Archive for January, 2013

Westfest set for August 9-11; Really Ride the Rockies

Thursday, January 31st, 2013
Westfest 2013

Westfest 2013 is set for August 9-11.

For those of you who favor getting off the pavement, the time has come to put the biggest event of the year on your calendar. Every year Adventure Riders holds regional events and Westfest is the one for this region. Westfest 2013 will be held August 9-11 up outside of Buena Vista, headquartered at the Arrowhead Point campground. This is a private campground so in addition to paying the $45 Westfest registration fee you’ll also pay $45 per person for tent camping at Arrowhead Point, if that’s where you stay. Of course there are other options, but all the non-riding fun will be centered on the campground.

Make no mistake, this is a dirt bike/dual-sport event. They do have some rides planned for street bikes but other than routes like Independence Pass you should still figure on gravel. If that works for you, that’s great. These folks are out there to ride the hills and have a good time back in camp later. And several meals are included in your Westfest registration.

I had hopes of going to this thing a couple years ago, and wrote about it here several times, but circumstances conspired to prevent that happening. I’m not even going to fantasize this time because with the silly thing called a “job” that I have now I know it just isn’t going to happen.

But if you can get away and like that kind of riding you should definitely go. I’ve been to several Adventure Rider events and they’re a fun group of people. And I will get to this one of these years.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Only a biker knows . . .: Motorcycle wit and wisdom, #25

Biker Quote for Today

Rode down black bear pass on fully loaded bikes–we knew better–but did it anyway.

New MOST Rules Finalized, Await Publication

Monday, January 28th, 2013
MOST Hearing 2012

A MOST legislative hearing in 2012.

Given a reprieve last year following years of poor oversight, the Colorado MOST program’s new rules have been agreed upon and should go into force in mid-March.

MOST, or Motorcycle Operator Safety Training, provides funding to reduce the cost of motorcycle safety training for riders. That funding comes from an extra fee motorcyclists pay each year when they renew their plates, and when they renew their drivers’ licenses.

After surviving the legislative inquest regarding the poor oversight, the program was once again threatened when legislators on the relevant committee concluded they wanted to keep the fees but eliminate the trainee benefit, using the fees only to pay for other motorcycle safety efforts. That would have totally negated the purpose of the MOST program and left motorcyclists paying extra for programs that people in cars and trucks pay nothing extra for. Talk about unfair!

That challenge was faced and overcome, and now the final rules have been laid out and, according to ABATE of Colorado State Coordinator Terry Howard, they are acceptable. Howard told members at yesterday’s ABATE District 10 meeting that now it is time for members to let their legislators know they support the rules.

The process now was spelled out in an email from Emiliano Barela, of the Colorado Department of Transportation:

This email is to let you know that the rules were adopted by the Executive Director with no changes on January 14th. We have submitted them for review to the attorney general’s office today. That office has 20 days to review them, so must send us an opinion prior to Feb. 3rd. Once they send us the opinion, we file them with the Secretary of State: and they are published in the Colorado Register. We believe they will be published on Feb. 10th, and they become effective 5 weeks later, so by mid-March. Attached are the same rules you reviewed for the public rule making hearing (red-line and final draft). There are no changes (except maybe numbering corrections) since that draft. The clean version will be the official rules when they are published.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Only a biker knows . . .: Motorcycle wit and wisdom, #25

Biker Quote for Today

Practice makes perfect and is just an empty parking lot away.

Should Electric Motorcycles Sound Like Cards In Their Spokes?

Thursday, January 24th, 2013
Zero Electic Motorcycles

These Zero electric motorcycles might need playing cards in their spokes.

Every kid who has ever dreamed of riding a motorcycle has at least considered the option of attaching playing cards to their bicycle wheels so the spokes will hit them and make “motorcycle-like” noises. I know I did more than just consider it.

Is that what we need to do with electric motorcycles? After all, they’re so quiet pedestrians are likely to walk out in front of them while busy texting on their smart phones.

This is a serious question, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants to know what you think about it. No, not the playing cards, but should electric motorcycles be required to make some noise that warns people that they’re there?

The proposed rule is titled, “Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles.” Here’s part of it:

As required by the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act (PSEA) of 2010 this rule proposes to establish a Federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) setting minimum sound requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles. This new standard would require hybrid and electric passenger cars, light trucks and vans (LTVs), medium and heavy duty, trucks, and buses, low speed vehicles (LSVs), and motorcycles to produce sounds meeting the requirements of this standard.

This standard would ensure that blind, visually-impaired, and other pedestrians are able to detect and recognize nearby hybrid and electric vehicles, as required by the PSEA, by requiring that hybrid and electric vehicles emit sound that pedestrians would be able to hear in a range of ambient environments and contain acoustic signal content that pedestrians will recognize as being emitted from a vehicle.

So the NHTSA is asking for comments. The Motorcycle Industry Council has come out against the rule, for a variety of reasons that I don’t find particularly compelling. Not that I support the rule; I just don’t think the MIC has made much of an argument.

So what do other people think? Well, conveniently, the (currently) 80 comments are all right there for anyone to read, so let’s read a few.

Kipling Inscore (is that his name?) says, in part:

I do not believe that current study shows sufficient evidence of a safety problem caused by electric (EV) and hybrid (HV) vehicles being too quiet; I think further study is needed. I will, however, state my remaining points as if assuming that there is a “quiet vehicle problem” and that the solution is to impose a minimum sound requirement. A minimum sound requirement should apply to all motor vehicles, not just those currently most likely to be too quiet.

Now there’s a familiar argument. Funny, I’m accustomed to seeing it presented in regard to the issue of motorcycles making too much noise.

Joel Stottlemire says that:

The proposed regulation on minimum sound requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles are at best only minimally effective. At any speed faster than a few feet per second, audible warnings do not give sufficient reaction time to pedestrians and contribute to noise pollution.

Says David B. Rees:

I oppose mandatory noise pollution. The proposed standards do not appear to appreciably increase safety but do increase noise pollution. We should be aiming to make noisy cars quieter, not quiet cars noisier.

And here’s a note from Joe Adams:

Our society is becoming more and more noisy. Many low flow toilets sound like an explosion when operating. Many hand driers sound like a jet aircraft. City streets are extraordinarily noisy. The new electric cars are a step in the direction of achieving more QUIET in society. Adding an artificial noise to these cars is similar to adding the reverse backup “beep” on construction vehicles. The flaw in the concept of reverse backup alarms is that such alarms fail to acknowledge a basic trait in human nature: people tend to filter out irritating noises that go on all day long.

There seems to be a consistent theme there. I didn’t read them all but the comments I did read are pretty solidly in opposition to this rule. What do you think? You can offer your own comments to the NHTSA up until March 15.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
A motorcycling year in pictures – 2012

Biker Quote for Today

You’re a biker wannabe if your $500 boots aren’t scuffed from riding.

Petition The Prez To End Motorcycle-only Stops

Monday, January 21st, 2013
We The People -- petition against motorcycle-only stops

We The People -- petition against motorcycle-only stops.

Here’s something the Motorcycle Riders Foundation is promoting and everyone who rides ought to sign in and add their name to the list. Unless you like being singled out for a police stop just because you’re riding a motorcycle.

Maybe you’ve heard about the petition process set up where the president has said any petition getting 25,000 signatures will be given consideration. Thanks to a petition calling for the U.S. to create a death star, as in the Star Wars movies, that baseline is being increased to 100,000. (The White House responded that the administration “is not in favor of blowing up planets.”)

Apparently, however, the petition I’m here to promote, one that calls for ending federal funding for motorcycle-only checkpoints, has made it under the wire and will only need the 25,000 signatures.

Here’s the text of the petition, and this is the link you want to follow.

We petition the obama administration to:
Cease the funding of motorcycle-only checkpoints through the NHTSA and other federal agencies.

State and local governments have begun to implement motorcycle-only checkpoints that unfairly target motorcyclists for inspection by law enforcement officers.

Many of these motorcycle-only checkpoints are funded by grants given by the federal government, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

This petition calls for the cessation of the NHTSA’s direct and indirect funding of the motorcycle-only checkpoints through its grants and other measures, and asks that the laws for vehicle conformity and passenger safety be applied equally to motorcycles and automobiles alike.

By the way, from what the site says, the 25,000 signatures must be collected within 30 days. It was created on January 8 and so far there are 3,033 signatures. Tell your buddies to sign it, too.

When you go to the site you’ll need to register and give a valid email address, and then click the link in the email they will send to you. Once you’ve registered one time you can sign other petitions without the hassle.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
LoJack announces top five motorcycle recoveries for 2012

Biker Quote for Today

Bikes are better than women because if your motorcycle smokes you can do something about it.

Make Sure It’s The Right Battery

Saturday, January 19th, 2013
The battery in place in my CB750

The battery in place in my CB750.

Experience is what ensures that we are completely prepared to fight the last war. Too bad the next war is likely to be completely unlike the last one.

From now on, when I go to buy a new battery for one of my motorcycles I will double-check while at the store to ensure that it is the correct one. Of course, for the rest of my life I will probably always be given the correct battery.

That was not what happened today, however.

I knew it was to be a gorgeous day so I was up reasonably early and headed over to Performance Cycles very shortly after they opened at 10 a.m. I had my old battery from the Honda with me and set it on the counter saying, “I want another just like this one.” The guy brought one out, I paid for it, and I headed home.

When I went to put it in, however, it was clearly not the right battery. It was identical with the exception that the poles were swapped. Sliding into the bike transversely, the positive post needs to be on the left, as you can see in the photo. This battery had the positive on the right.

It’s not like I could just rotate the battery 180 degrees. You can see that there is stuff very much in the way. So I had to make a second trip to the store. And then, of course, they were stuck with a battery that had had electrolyte added and had been charged (by me) that they now needed to sell soon lest they later sell someone a “new” battery that was functionally old.

So all of this delayed my ride, but I did finally get out. And hey, what a nice day.

I also put a new headlight bulb in my Kawi. It took some figuring out but I finally did. I had looked in the shop guide to see how to go about accessing that bulb but all it said was “remove the cover and remove the bulb.”

No kidding? Wow, I never could have figured that out.

What I did finally figure out was that you can–if you have small enough hands–reach past the fork tube from above and get to it. There was a plug to pull off, and that was simple. Then there was a rubber gasket/cover that pulled off, and then I could reach the prongs on the bulb. But there was a little wire wicket in there that made certain the bulb stayed in place and getting that sucker off was a trick.

Keep in mind that when you can barely get your hand in, you don’t have a lot room for movement, and therefore don’t have a lot of leverage. Finally a pair of needle-nose pliers did the job.

Then the bulb just wanted to fall out. OK, keep that in mind putting the new one in. Once I got the bulb positioned correctly the wicket actually went back on easily, the gasket went back on easily, and the plug connected easily. I turned the bike on and by golly it all worked! Yee ha!

So now I’m fully functional again with both bikes, and just in time, too. The weather is supposed to be insanely nice this coming week so I may just have to ride to work. Please don’t throw me in that briar-patch!!

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
LoJack announces top five motorcycle recoveries for 2012

Biker Quote for Today

You know you’re becoming addicted to riding when you open the door and push your car backwards with your foot because you forgot about this thing called “reverse.”

Two Chances to See Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route Video

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Going backcountry on adventure motorcycles

This photo is from the Utah Backcountry Discovery Route ride, and is by Jonathan Beck. It was provided to me for the RumBum piece; I hope Jon doesn't object to my reusing it here.

Are you interested in crossing Colorado, border to border, on an adventure motorcycle on unpaved roads and trails? That’s what the Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route is all about and the folks who mapped it out will be showing a video of their riding of this route.

The first showing will be this Saturday, Jan. 19, at BMW of Denver, 2910 S. Havana. The show starts at 5 p.m. They ask that you RSVP to save a seat. The second showing will be the following Saturday, Jan. 26, at Performance Cycle of Denver, 1990 S. Broadway. No further info on their showing. There’s no admission fee.

The Colorado Backcountry Route is another in a series of such efforts headed up for the most part by Touratech, a company that specializes in creating and selling tough gear for adventure motorcyclists. The backcountry route thing is great for off-road riders because it helps establish routes (free GPS files are available) and good for Touratech because it helps them sell more gear.

Paul Guillien is general manager of Touratech and I spoke with him at the time that the non-profit group they formed released the Utah Backcountry Discovery Route. I’d link to that article but unfortunately it was published on and RumBum has shut down operations and it’s not available. I’d republish it here except that I sold all rights to the piece to RumBum, so they own it, not me.

Too bad, it was a good piece. I will, however, excerpt the opening two paragraphs. That’s fair use under copyright law.

By the standard of “It’s not an adventure until someone says, ‘WTF are we doing here??’,” Paul Guillien and his riding companion were pretty certain they were having an adventure coming down from Reservation Ridge.

“Two of us were out scouting away from the group and we got stuck on Reservation Ridge. It’s about 9,000 elevation, we were buzzing along, and next thing we know a rain storm opened up on us and within minutes the bikes were falling down.”

Suffice it to say, this Colorado video is likely to be well worth watching. Even if you don’t ride in the dirt.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
LoJack announces top five motorcycle recoveries for 2012

Biker Quote for Today

We have always taken “very dangerous” and “not recommended” as indicators of where some good riding was to be had.

The Amazing Motorcycle Battery

Thursday, January 10th, 2013
CB750 Custom

Finally time for a new battery for the CB750.

I mentioned before that I couldn’t take my Honda CB750 Custom for a ride on Sunday because I couldn’t get it to start. I put in on the charger and today, Thursday, I came home from work figuring that just for insurance I would take it out tonight for a short spin. It’s supposed to get cold and possibly snow tomorrow.

Before I got all geared up, though, I went out to make sure it would start. It did not. Hmmm.

I figured it must need a new battery. But how long ago was it that I bought this one? I keep my records in triplicate. I keep the hard-copy receipts in one file. I keep a spreadsheet of all my expenses and earnings, for tax purposes. And I keep a list of vehicle expenses on my Palm. (Yes, my wife and I both still uses our Palms.) Somewhere in there I had to have the information I was looking for.

Well, I found it. Amazing as it sounds, it appears I bought that battery in April 2008. That’s nearly 5 years! No wonder it’s died now.

And so no, of course I didn’t get out on the Honda tonight. Now I’m just hoping we don’t have snow and cold and the roads stay frosted over for three weeks or more like what just happened. It’s supposed to be a high on Saturday of about 20 degrees, but I don’t care. If the road is clear I’m going for a ride–after I get a new battery. And what a great, REAL test for my new electric gloves.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
A motorcycling year in pictures – 2012

Biker Quote for Today

Sometimes it takes more than one tank of gas to chase the demons from my head.

A Terrific Day For A First Ride In 2013

Monday, January 7th, 2013
Kawasaki Concours with mountains in the background

Out on my first ride of 2013.

Finally the weather has warmed up and melted the snow and ice off our street. I was able to get out on the Kawasaki today, though efforts to get the Honda out failed because the battery was dead. It’s on the charger now, but it will be next weekend before I can get out on that one.

And what a beautiful day. As always in winter, I stayed down here on the prairie. Clear roads down here do not at all mean clear roads up there. As it was, even down here there was a spot where I ran into ice due to shadows blocking the sun.

So this ride gave me another chance to continue testing the new heated gloves. Still not a really cold day but let’s face it, most of the days I ride in the winter are not really, really cold. They’re mostly like today, with highs in the 40s or so. Still, next weekend, even if the temps are in the 30s or even lower, as long as the road is clear I’ll be out on the Honda. But at the moment next weekend looks like it will probably be even warmer than this weekend. So much for Stock Show weather.

And how are the gloves doing? Terrific. I started out with them set at 75 percent power but didn’t go too far before I cut back to 50 percent power. Plenty warm. And they’re comfortable, too. Many years ago I got some similar–non-electric–gloves and I’ve almost never worn them because they’re just so clunky. I can’t really do anything with my hands while wearing them. These Gerbings are serious gloves but they’re also flexible and allow me considerable dexterity.

Of course one of the things I like about the idea of battery-powered gloves is that I can wear them off the bike as well. I’ve been doing that; like taking the dog for walks. There’s just no reason at all to have cold hands now.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
A motorcycling year in pictures – 2012

Biker Quote for Today

Nice bike. Have you taken her to Mexico? All bikes want their owners to take them there. – tricepilot

Another Big Mileage Year On The Bikes

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013
Kawasaki Concours At Mackinac Bridge

My Connie at the Mackinac Bridge, one of the farther points I reached this year.

I thought for sure I had set a personal record in 2012 for miles on a motorcycle in a year but I was wrong. Not by much, but I guess I did a bit more riding in 2010 than I remembered.

My total on the Concours was 9,437. That compares to 6,875 in 2011, but in 2010 I rode that bike 10,004 miles. I know that’s nothing for you Iron Butt guys but I’m not an Iron Butt guy, so that’s a lot for me.

As seems my norm, I put a scant 504 miles on my CB750 Custom in 2012. That means that bike has just over 85,000 miles on it, though the odometer only shows 29,774. That’s because I had to replace the old one this year when it broke and the salvage item I picked up came with 29,375 on it.

This all still stands up well against my car. I only put 5,081 miles on my car in 2012, and that’s even with having started a job on the other side of town. And my motorcycle miles still came out almost double my car miles. I’m sure that car mileage will go up in 2013, but once the new west light rail line opens in April I plan to take the train to work, so that will have a counter effect.

In the meantime, I’m sure my motorcycle miles will be way down this year. Having a regular type office job will do that to you. Oh well, I do like the paycheck.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
A motorcycling year in pictures – 2012

Biker Quote for Today

Speed has never killed anyone – suddenly becoming stationary, that’s what gets you. — Jeremy Clarkson