Archive for April, 2013

I Do Get Mail–Odds and Ends

Monday, April 29th, 2013
V-Strom in garage

A tight space for my third bike to live in.

Of course I’ll start out with another picture of my new V-Strom. If you’ve seen the last one, this is obviously shot soon afterward because it’s now in the garage and the snow is still on it. I’m going to have to do some rearranging because that door beyond it in this photo is my access to where I keep the other two bikes. The door to the outside from there only opens from the inside so clearly I’m going to need to set things up so I can get in there.

So yeah, as I say, I do get mail. Most recently I got a note from Steve who asked for some assistance. I can’t offer him anything but maybe you can. Here’s his email:

I own a 2005 HD Softail that is fuel injected with a Powercommander. I had the engine bored out in 2009 to 95” and am running the same map that Dynojet recommended for break in. But now I’d like to find a good tuner to get the most out of the bike. I live in Silverthorne, but would go the distance for the right guy. I’m wondering if you could recommend anyone?

OK, I don’t know any Harley tuners. I don’t ride Harleys so it’s not something I pay attention to. But what about you? Any recommendations you have I’ll pass along to Steve. Thanks.

Then here’s another. A guy named Kevin (not my friend who brought my V-Strom) sent just a quick note asking, “How much is a computer for a 2005 big dog?” I replied I had no idea and wondered why he thought I might. He pointed me to a piece I wrote on Big Dog a couple years ago. So anyway, if anyone can answer the question let me know and I’ll pass the info along.

Also, I got a note from Todd, who is coming to Colorado with his brother and sister and their spouses to ride. He sent me a Google mapping of his proposed route and was asking for any suggestions I might have for tweaks. You can take a look at his route here.

It looks like a good trip. Starting out from Colorado Springs they’ll go down to New Mexico via Cuchara Pass, then do the Angel Fire loop out of Taos before coming back north. Out of Colorado City they’ll go up through San Isabel, stopping at Bishop Castle of course, and on to Canon City. From there they’ll hit Buena Vista and take Independence Pass over to Aspen and Glenwood Springs.

Then it’s east on I-70 to pick up US 40 and over Berthoud Pass, to Grand Lake and over Trail Ridge Road, and then to Denver on the Peak-to-Peak. From there it’s back to the Springs with a sidetrip up Pikes Peak.

Sounds pretty good to me but I did offer some suggestions:

Your southern leg will definitely be good. In Canon City be sure to ride Skyline Drive. You might also want to take a side trip to the Royal Gorge. It’s cool to ride across the bridge and the best thing is to keep going out the other way. Most people go in and double back, but the road on through is very narrow, twisty, and pretty.

Leaving Canon City, as an alternative, you might consider going out US 50 to Salida and then catching 285 to Buena Vista. Both routes have their attractions; US 50 takes you up the Arkansas River canyon.

Heading east on I-70 you really ought to go over Loveland Pass rather than through the Eisenhower Tunnel. The descent is breathtaking.

Coming from Denver it will depend on what you do there as to what makes sense. If you’re coming around the city take C-470 south from I-70 on the west. If you do go into town, then coming out by I-25 makes the most sense, but if you make your way over to CO 105 through Perry Park and Palmer Lake that’s much nicer than the interstate.

OK, for anyone who knows Colorado that’s not rocket science, but for someone who doesn’t know the area I hope those are some good ideas. I get these letters all the time and it’s one of the things I enjoy about running this website that I get to help people plan their trips. Sometimes I even get to meet them!

Biker Quote for Today

That road is fabulous, I wish to test it .

My New V-Strom Is Here

Thursday, April 25th, 2013
Kevin and the V-Strom on his trailer

Kevin and my new bike were waiting for me at home on Monday.

I got home from work on Monday and Kevin was sitting in his truck waiting for me. I was glad to see him because I had had some fears that he might be stuck in a white-out on the prairie east of town. As it was, it was snowing and rolling that bike down Kevin’s narrow ramp off the trailer was made extra dicey by the fact that our footing on the trailer was very slick due to the snow.

But we got it down safely and wheeled it into the garage where it’s going to sit for awhile. I need to get it registered and get plates and that’s not going to happen right away because I don’t yet have the title. I’m buying the bike from Kevin’s brother-in-law in Tennessee and he hadn’t found the title by the time Kevin was leaving. They did find it, though, and it’s in the mail.

In the meantime, I’m in possession and that means I needed to get it insured. I logged in to my insurance company’s website and it showed me the policy I had on the other two bikes. I clicked on “Add a vehicle” and it stepped me through the process.

I was a little surprised when I found that the insurance on the new bike would be more than the insurance on the other two combined. I guess that’s because one of the old ones is 33 years old and the other is 14 years old. But I fiddled with the coverage, increasing my deductible a little, and knocked the total down enough to satisfy me. So I got that taken care of. Of course, it never hurts to shop around any time you’re changing your insurance coverage–you never know where you might find better coverage for less money.

Just as soon as I get plates on it I need to spend a little more money. As Kevin had told me, the front tire is pretty much shot and he says the chain is in bad shape. In my experience that means I’ll probably be replacing the sprockets, too. The really, really nice thing about having a job these days is that I have a paycheck coming in and that means I have the money to pay for these things. Hallelujah!

Of course then, the other thing that needs to happen is that it needs to stop snowing. I was talking to my friend Dan the other day and he was saying that due to two foot surgeries over the winter he hadn’t had the chance to ride in five months. Now he can ride and it just won’t stop snowing! One way or another though, he said, he’s leaving here on May 5 to ride to Maine by way of Florida. Can you tell he’s an Iron Butt guy?

My time will come. Patience is a virtue. And then I’m figuring on seeing a whole lot of Colorado I’ve never seen before.

Biker Quote for Today

There is something wrong about pics of motorcycles in the snow that is just wonderful….

‘Your New Ride’

Monday, April 22nd, 2013
Suzuki V-Strom on a trailer

My V-Strom as it prepares to leave Tennessee.

Mine, that is.

See that photo above of that 2007 V-Strom 650 on that trailer? That’s my new bike and at the moment this post is being published it is on that trailer on its way to me here in Denver. Here’s how this whole thing came down.

As anyone who knows me or who reads this blog is aware, I’ve been wanting a dual-sport bike for a long time. Working full-time as a motorcycle freelance writer, however, I never had the money. Since November I’ve been working a contract gig as an editor at the National Park Service so I finally have some spare cash.

In the meantime, my friend Kevin Smith, who runs Colorado Mountain Moto out of Gunnison, had gone down to Tennessee to do some remodeling work for his sister. He drove down and took his trailer with him because his brother-in-law had a V-Strom he wanted to sell and Kevin figured he could use it in his motorcycle rental business. Kevin favors V-Stroms and it is largely through him that I have ridden V-Stroms quite a bit. I like them quite a bit.

As Kevin tells it, however, he got down to Tennessee and the more he thought about it the more he got to thinking that money was tight and he really needed the money more than he needed another bike. So he sent me the following email:

Hey Ken if your still thinking about another bike I found a Vstrom in TN. Not sure I need it yet 07 17000 miles I could bring it with me if your interested. $3500. Cheers Kevin

I quickly did some checking to see how that price matched up to others locally and it looked pretty good, although some local bikes had extras this one does not, and Kevin said it will need a front tire and a new chain soon. I hesitated. I’ve finally got a bit of a financial reserve again and draining it significantly was a hard thing for me to decide to do.

However, much to the envy of a lot of guys, I’m sure, my wife Judy was all for it. She kept pushing me. “Come on, you’ve wanted this for a long time. Do it!”

So I did it. And now it’s on its way here. Kevin will be here later today and will spend the night with us before heading on to Gunnison. And I’ll add a Suzuki to go with my Honda and my Kawasaki. People who I meet and to whom I mention that I ride invariably ask, “Do you have a Harley?” No I don’t. Harleys just don’t interest me. I guess that’s pretty clear by now. Not dissing you guys who do; it’s just not my kind of bike. But oh boy, I’m going to like having this V-Strom.

My friend Dan, who does ride a Harley, also has a GS800 from BMW. He’s been wanting to sell it but hasn’t yet. I was telling him on Saturday about the V-Strom and he said “let’s go ride.” I’ll definitely be taking him up on that.

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Biker Quote for Today

I’m not lost. I’m explorin’.

Becoming A Better Rider

Thursday, April 18th, 2013
BMW S1000RR

A BMW S1000RR I rode once.

My Concours is a sport-touring bike so it kind of qualifies as a sport-bike. For that reason and a variety of others I am a member of the Sportbikes.net forum and I recently got a notice of a thread on that forum that I thought would be worth sharing.

The question posed was, “Becoming a Better Rider – What helped you?”

Here are some of the replies.

  • Safer: A bunch of mistakes etched into my memory. I do things and afterwards think “if X had happened, I would have been screwed!” Then I commit it to memory to avoid that possibility in the future. Crossing my fingers and hoping X never happens on the first time a situation arises.
  • Definitely hanging out with people who were better than me. Its the same thing I’ve found with being a musician… you’ll tend to plateau after a while, but playing with some new people that force you to sharpen your skills helps a ton. This doesn’t mean squids doing stupid stuff on public roads. It means friends that actually have skill, do track days, etc.
  • Crashing.

Wow? Really? I guess if you live to learn the lesson, the lesson does stick.

  • MSF course – It picked out fundamental flaws in my riding.
  • Track days – #1 thing I learned from trackdays is to look up. This is a valuable life lesson. Look up, it works!!!
  • American Supercamp – I learned that people online preach an ideology about riding that may not be the best for me. I learned a lot just talking to real racers about riding motorcycles at Supercamp as well.
    Riding a dirtbike – Reinforced a lot of the things I learned at Supercamp, but helped me loosen up on the bike.
    Then I read a book called “Total Control,” which taught me how to be a faster/controlled rider and encouraged me to practice what I had read. Then trackdays, and hanging out with trackday junkies instead of squids.
  • Track. Easiest way to learn your limits and the limits of your bike/tires. Best thing to do is to get behind someone slightly faster than you and try and keep up with them.
  • Keith Code California Superbike School for me.
  • Two things I think… I’m constantly experimenting with different techniques on the same road to see what works and what doesn’t. But that’s just how I learn, doesn’t work for everyone. I also only work on one thing at a time. Like at the beginning of the season I focused a lot on upper body placement, where my head should be and what my hands and arms should be doing. Then I moved on to lower body, which I struggled with a lot. Now I’m currently working on foot placement and the most effective way to move my feet when transitioning. The other thing that really helped was riding in crappy conditions. Once I learned how to relax while riding in sand my awareness improved overall.
  • Wrecking also helped to make me a safer rider. It slowed me down and kept me from taking needless risks (not that I was really all that reckless before).

OK, so I get it. Crashing really can teach you a lot, as long as it doesn’t end your riding days. I don’t think anyone would recommend this approach, though. You just have to take advantage of it when the opportunity presents itself.

Here’s one more I like.

  • I learned by not being too proud to seek training.

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Biker Quote for Today

The twisties – not the superslabs -separate the riders from the squids.

Flying in the Air and on the Ground

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Here’s an amusing coincidence. I was going to do a post about an event coming up on Saturday in a couple weeks and I wanted to see where this place was. I used Google Earth to get a ground-level view and it turns out it is a place I have history with. Let’s start at the beginning.

Adventuring South

Adventuring South poster.

I got an email awhile ago from Ben Kriederman, who rents BMW motorcycles through House of Motorrad, about an event they are putting on or sponsoring or whatever. It’s two Saturdays from now, April 27, and it is a slideshow presentation titled “Adventuring South.” It’s the story of a father and son who decided to ride their BMWs from Colorado to Argentina. No charge and as a promotional event for House of Motorrad they are giving away some goodies–plus free food and beer.

Sounds good to me. Maybe I’ll go, although I’m leaving town the next morning so it may not work out.

Oh yeah: where? This is where it gets interesting.

The location is 15801 W. Colfax, at a place called Uhl Studios. Zooming in on Google Earth to see the place I was surprised to see it is the same–although greatly remodeled–place that used to be home to Golden Skysails. Golden Skysails was a hang-glider dealer and trainer, and it was through Golden Skysails that I bought and learned to fly a hang-glider many years ago.

Of course, that whole business tied directly into motorcycling for me as well. I learned to fly, though not very well, and eventually I had a pretty bad crash. The only time I’ve ever flown in a helicopter was when I was air-lifted to the hospital.

After I was recovered I still wanted to fly so I repaired my glider and went out again a few times to fly but ran into a common issue: no air time. You see, the issue with hang-gliding is that you can get up early and load all your gear, then drive for a couple hours to a suitable place to fly, only to sit there all day and never get wind in the right direction. So you then break everything back down, load it up, drive a couple hours home, and you never got to do what you were planning to do. And the whole day is gone.

So after this happened a couple times I got fed up and decided to sell the glider. I promised myself that I would then take the money I sold the glider for and buy a motorcycle, because at least with a motorcycle, as soon as I threw my leg over and fired it up I would be doing what I came to do. And that’s what I did and I’ve never looked back.

Now we come full circle. I don’t know what Uhl Studios is but they’re in that space I was familiar with long ago. I’d sure like to be there on Saturday night but I suspect I just won’t have time. Oh well.

Thanks and an Update

I want to give a thank-you to Barry Jones and Jeff McDonald who responded to my request to help me figure out why no one was ever leaving comments on this blog. Turns out, I had things set to where anyone wanting to comment would have to sign up and have a WordPress log-in, and then they would need to be logged in. That’s way too much for most people. So I changed that. Now all you have to do to leave a comment is do a little spam-blocking routine, something along the lines of + 1 = 4, where you enter the 3. So please . . . offer your comments. And yes, I have already gotten a couple spam comments but I also have it set up so that no comment appears until I approve it. So you’ll never see some junk, spammy comment, although your own comment will not appear until I approve it. And I won’t be a censor; all I want to do is make sure it’s a real, bonafide comment, even if you’re telling me I’m the biggest jerk in the world, although I will not permit foul language. Just keep it clean. Thanks.

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Biker Quote for Today

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Petty Motorcycle Gear Gripes

Thursday, April 11th, 2013
boot and case guard

You can see the toe on this boot hits the case guard when I shift.

I was out of my Honda CB750 Custom Saturday on my first ride of April when I encountered a small problem.

I was wearing some new boots and this was the first time I went riding in them. They’re not motorcycle boots; I have a terrific pair of those that I’ve worn many times over many miles. These were western boots–cowboy boots, if you choose–that I bought in January to replace some 20-year-old ones that had holes in them.

The thing with the western boots is that I wanted something I could ride in and walk in. Motorcycle boots are notoriously bad for walking, and I’ve certainly found that to be true of the pair I have. I was in Glenwood Canyon one day and took a bit of a stroll along the river. By the time I got back to my bike I was limping because of blisters on my heels. So if it’s just a matter of riding, the motorcycle boots are great. But if I’m going to be doing any walking I need to bring along some sneakers or something else to change into.

OK, so I’ve got these new western boots and I went riding in them. Well, dang. If you take a look at that photo above you’ll see the issue that I encountered. I have a case guard on the Honda, which is there to protect the engine in case I go down. And you can see that the cover is dented a bit right there from one time many years ago when I did drop the bike, before I put on the case guard.

But when my foot is in the normal position on the peg, which is to say, when the peg is at the intersection of my boot sole and heel, the toe extends far enough forward that it clips the case guard when I shift gears. Now, with a little extra effort it will slip past, but it is definitely an annoyance. And it’s more of an interference when I’m ticking the gear lever down than when I’m upshifting. So I don’t know. I just may not wear these boots when I’m riding the Honda. They’re fine when I’m on the Kawi.

So that got me to thinking about other gear annoyances, and I can name a couple more.

Some years ago I bought a textile riding jacket that I use in the summer. It’s a nice jacket except for one thing. When I turn my head to look behind me, the shoulder armor gets in the way of the chin portion of my helmet. It makes it hard for me to turn my head all the way to be sure who or what is behind me in the lane I’m trying to move into. Pain in the butt.

And then there’s an issue with an Icon helmet I got recently. It has the kind of strap where you feed it through a D-loop and then back the other way, and then you can snap the loose end up so it doesn’t flap wildly in the breeze. Well, once again, when I turn my head, if I’m wearing my leather jacket and have the jacket zipped up all the way, the D-loop catches on the collar of the jacket and interferes with my head turning. I can use some force and it will break free, but it’s an annoyance and a pain in the butt. Or a pain in the neck, perhaps.

Oh, the trials and tribulations we motorcyclists endure for the sake of our passion!

So I’m curious. What sort of gear annoyances do you put up with? Maybe you could leave a comment on this post. I’m actually asking this for two reasons. One, I’d just like to hear what you have to tell. But two, no one ever leaves comments on this blog, and I don’t understand why. I know people read it, but no one ever comments. I’m wondering if the link at the bottom that you click to comment is not functioning. I have tried it and it works for me, but I have privileges on the blog that no one else has. I would appreciate it if you would leave a comment, but if for some reason you can’t, I would also appreciate you telling me that via email. You can email me at kendbin at yahoo dot com. Thanks.

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Biker Quote for Today

The truth will come with ten thousand miles in the saddle. — Corb Lund

All-Makes Vintage Bike Show April 13

Monday, April 8th, 2013
Indian motorcycle

Maybe this old Indian will show up at High Country Harley-Davidson on Saturday.

This could be fun. High Country Harley-Davidson is hosting Ride-In Vintage Bike Show this coming Saturday.

Their promo says it is, “your chance to show off that great old bike you’ve been working on all winter long. We’re looking for pre-1980s vintage bikes that you can ride to the show on April 13th. Whether you’ve got a museum-quality bike or an everyday rider, we want you to bring it in. All makes and models are welcome, not just Harleys. And if you don’t own a vintage bike, but want to have a good time, come on in and see the dozens of great vintage, retro, and antique bikes that’ll be on display in our parking lot. This is a non-judged, free registration event.”

And here’s the blurb off their website: Vintage Ride-In Bike Show

April 13, 2013 10 am to 2 pm
Open House
Get those museum pieces out of your garage and out to High Country for our first Vintage Bike Show. All makes and models welcome. The only rule is that it must be old, preferably 70s and earlier. No registration is necessary. Just come on out!

So color me interested. If the weather is good this might be something Dan and Alan and I could ride up to. FYI, in case you don’t know, High Country is in Frederick, which is up I-25 off the Dacono exit at CO 52. In fact, while they theoretically are in Frederick, they are in fact just south of the interchange on the west side of I-25.

Maybe I’ll see you there.

Recent from National Motorcycle Examiner
Tilting Motor Works offers a fun trike conversion

Biker Quote for Today

See, your bike made you dinner. All it has to do now is fetch you a beer, and then you won’t even need a wife.

I Want a Scooter; I Want a Dual-sport

Thursday, April 4th, 2013
Scooters at a traffic signal

They may not be macho but scooters are fun.

Man, why don’t I just have unlimited wealth so I can buy anything I want? I’ve talked a lot here about wanting a dual-sport bike but I think I’ve also mentioned that I want a scooter.

Hey, I’m not some macho guy who wouldn’t be caught dead on a scooter. They’re fun and simple and I want one. I just want something I can hop on to run off to the grocery store or the post office or the bank–without having to put all this gear on and go through the hassle of rolling one of the bikes out.

Sure I’d still put on a helmet but going out on one of my big motorcycles takes me 5-10 minutes getting ready, depending on the time of year. I want to just hop on and go.

So I’m kind of jealous. Awhile ago Randy, one of the OFMC guys, let us all know he had come by a scooter for free. I don’t recall the details; something like an aunt won it in a raffle but had no use for it so she gave it to him.

Now just the other day Charley asked me if I had a battery charger because Danielle, his girlfriend, had a scooter in her garage and they figured they’d see if they could get it started. It seems her old boyfriend left it behind when he moved out and doesn’t want it. Why doesn’t somebody give me a scooter?

Well I am making money these days, what with this regular job and all, so I’m looking really hard at buying one. But I also want a dual-sport bike, and if I spend money on the scooter that’s money I won’t have for the dual-sport. Oh, these decisions.

But, you know, what I’d really like is one of those electric scooters. Then the dirt cheap cost of operation goes almost to free and you’re not messing with gas and plugs and oil and all that.

Anyway, I’ve been checking craigslist. Maybe some day soon I’ll have news.

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Biker Quote for Today

Bah, anyone can drag their elbow on the pavement at 90 mph.

Coming On Ride To Work Season

Monday, April 1st, 2013
motorcycle and "motorcycle parking only" sign

It's going to be time to start riding to work soon.

Hot diggity, the days are getting warmer–and longer–and riding to work is once again going to be an option. Actually, where I work now, out west of Union on Alameda, there are a couple hard-core BMW guys who already are riding most days.

Of course, I haven’t met them yet, so who knows if maybe they just live 2 miles away. For me it is a 22-mile ride if I take the direct route, or about 26 miles if I take the route with less traffic. You can ignore a lot if you’re only going a few miles.

I don’t like taking the more direct route because that puts me in the thick of commuter traffic, with a lot of stop and go. That’s murder on your clutch wrist. Plus it’s dangerous. I went this same route several years ago when I was working out in the same general area and there was more than one occasion when I was on a bike and someone decided to pull into the next lane without looking to see if anyone–me–might be there who they could not see in their mirror.

The fact is, though, I’m going to be a bit torn in another month or so. The W line for the RTD’s light rail system is set to open April 26 and that will enable me to get on the train very close to home and ride all they way out to 2nd and Union. I’ll need to get on a bus from there but the bus stops right outside our office building. Why battle traffic at all when you don’t need to?

But I will want to ride at least some days. So I guess I won’t be getting a monthly pass. Those things cost enough that if you don’t use them every day you don’t save any money. I guess I’ll just get the book of passes that save you some money and ride the bike some days, ride the light rail some days, and maybe even drive my car some days–maybe not.

Of course that’s the other thing. Right now there is a bottleneck on I-25 where Santa Fe feeds into it, but that project looks like it should be finished in two or three months. Once they get all those north and south lanes open I’m hoping the jam-ups that are there pretty much every day will go away, and then even taking that route by car may be a lot better. Might even go that way on the bike, if it improves a lot.

Till then, though, I’m just looking for it to be nice enough that I won’t have to dress as if it was winter just because I’m leaving home at 7:45 a.m. Then maybe I’ll finally meet those beemer guys.

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Biker Quote for Today

Don’t just look at it – Ride the bloody thing!