Friday, March 30, 2012

A Change of the blog's subject

I've sworn off motorcycling for the time being, since the crash in Nov. 2009.

So I think I'm going to re-focus the blog on cycling.

What has happened in the past couple years? I sold the motorcycles and used the proceeds to buy a nice bicycle, a Specialized TriCross Sport in 2010. This is the long range bike that can also take a knock or two without breaking on me.

I also picked up an urban bike, a Gary Fisher Simple City 3-spd, which was stolen from the train station near where I work. I miss that bike, so I recently replaced it with a Schwinn Coffee 3-spd. I now use this for the home-end of my multi-mode commute. 1.8 miles each way. Not a huge distance, but enough to get some exercise and fresh air.

More on these bikes, including photos in the future. Posting pictures with this blog software and getting them to appear at the right place in the post has been a real pain. I'm going to try the new interface pretty soon. I hope it works with Chrome from a Mac...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Final Blog update

Well fellas, I crashed my KLR Nov. 22, 2009. It was my fault. Went into a turn too fast. Leaned over to try to make it. Scraped pegs. Wasn't making it still. Leaned over further. Lifted the rear wheel off the ground. Low-sided, and caught the toe of my right foot on the ground. It twisted my leg and broke it in three places; spiral fracture.

Then, I went for a nice flight into the woods. My buddies took good care of me. Called my wife and the ambulance.

It has been a pretty bad couple of months since then. Two more weeks and I can start putting weight on it again. I've been on crutches ever since. (it will have been three months) I now have a metal plate that goes from my ankle to just below my knee.

This was a right turn. I'm damned lucky there was not an oncoming vehicle, or it would have been lights-out for me.

We haven't had kids yet, so I think I'll hang up my gloves, fix and sell the bikes, and maybe consider a Miata some day when we can afford it. I left the door open to resume riding when our kids are grown.

Have fun everyone, and try to keep the rubber side down. It seems to be more fun that way. ;)


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cold weather riding.

Usually, I pack it up when it starts to get to 40°F and below. As I type this, it is hovering right around 40. This year, however, I didn't do as much riding as I would have liked. I rode my scooter quite a bit, but hardly rode a motorcycle at all until I traded the FJR for the KLR. Now, I'm enjoying riding more, but the KLR's wind & weather protection is lacking when compared to the FJR's.

So, I just placed an order at for a set of boots, cold weather gloves, and a windproof balaclava.

I've never had a proper set of cold weather riding gloves. In the past, I have made do with Gore-Tex ski gloves. They don't allow good enough finger & thumb articulation for motorcycle riding though. I'm hoping these are better, as they're motorcycle-specific. Here's to hoping!

I already have a set of Oxtar Matrix boots with the Gore-Tex liner. However, I bought them in size 42, which fits perfectly with thin socks. Unfortunately, cold weather riding is better done with warmer, slightly thicker socks. So these, I ordered in US Size 10 (Euro 43) and will hopefully have room for warmer socks. I also felt like it was overkill for the boots to go up so high. (these are only 3/4 height) If I'm wearing my riding pants, I'm not as worried about getting hit in the shins by rocks as I would otherwise. I think I will enjoy the better ankle flexibilty.

I'm hoping to get another month of riding in before the snow flies.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Finished 685cc project for Schnitz

The other day, I finished the installation of the Schnitz 685cc kit for my KLR650. After only 3,000 miles, it was burning oil. Unacceptable. I researched the issue at, and the word on the street is that Kawasaki would measure the oil loss, and if it is above a certain amount, they would re-hone the cylinder and install new rings. Pfft. Then what, it will probably start burning oil in another 3,000 miles. Also unacceptable.

The good folks at said that installing the 685cc piston kit stopped all oil-burning problems, leading me to believe that it is probably an issue with bad rings or a cylinder bored out-of round. In either case, I should be good to go. I hope so, as I really like this bike. It is quick enough to be fun, but not fast enough that I'm always speeding like crazy. (like I was on the FJR) It makes hardly any engine heat in the hot summer months. It's super-easy to work on too. The only problems so far have been the massive oil consumption and The Death Weave it exhibits if I try to take a sweeping turn at 80+ mph. I can deal with that. I've decided that if this doesn't fix the issues, I'm going to sell it as soon as it's paid-for, and get a Honda Deauville, which they're bringing to the USA next year. (it has been a hot seller in the UK for years; it is a shaft-driven, 700cc, V-twin with integrated hard bags and shaft drive)

I just finished the break-in on the new piston today, having clicked over 200 miles on the odometer. I'm supposed to change the oil & filter again now.

I'm also overdue for lubing the chain. God, I sure didn't miss this when I had a shaft-driven bike.

In other news, a fellow rider and I went riding today. He suggested we go offroad and see where a fire road led to. I told him that I didn't think it led anywhere, as we were near my place and the suburbs are too dense for it to lead anywhere. I figured what the hell, and let him lead me on his Triumph Tiger. He had street-biased tires, I had 50/50 tires (mostly bald in the rear). I went down in a rutted muddy trail, he didn't. I need to get more experience on this type of terrtain I guess. This is the first drop on the KLR. It took it like a champ; we were only going maybe 5 mph. But I wore the mud on my side and on the bike like a mark of shame for the rest of the day.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rustic Roads Project: Continued

Yesterday was a productive day for me, Rustic Roads-wise. I managed to hit 7 more Rustic Roads. (see photos below) That puts me over the 10 required minimum to win the first Rustic Roads patch. There are 108 dedicated Rustic Roads now. I don't think I'll ever get them all, but when I feel like going for rides and don't have any ideas, I think that's what I'll do. Just try and hit them here and there. In the photos, the shot that is not by a numbered sign is #30. The signs are missing on both ends of this one. I hope I can still get credit for it! Also, you can tell that those are not my usual quality photos. I forgot my camera and had to use my cell phone camera. Bummer. I guess they'll do for evidence purposes.

One thing I'm wanting more than ever these days is a proper GPS for motorcycling. With maps and a compass, one is able to do the same things one can do with a GPS, but frequent stops are needed to change maps, get bearings, etc.

After doing some research, I think I'll probably go with a Garmin 60Cx when I can scrape together a few hundred dollars. This is a handheld GPS, one that has a basemap built in, but also has all the features of a handheld GPS.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Received the Wolfman Expedition Lite Tankbag Today

It was delivered today at work. I slept in this morning. Missed the last train, so I had to ride. I took Burgertime, since it gets better gas mileage (60 mpg vs. 52) and since it is better in traffic. I didn't realize the tankbag was coming today, or I might've taken the KLR.

I took a few available shots of the tankbag on the bike. ISO 800 on the Elph is very grainy, but here's a trick to make the shots usable at those high ISO settings: Take the photo at the highest quality and highest resolution. Then, when you reduce them in size to 800 x 600 or 640 x 480, they don't look terrible. They still don't look great, but at least they don't look terrible. Good enough for a blog at least, hehehe.

The funny thing is that I haven't really needed the extra storage so far. The thing I missed most about having a tankbag was the map pocket.

I'm all set for the annual STn Region 4 meet in a couple weekends.

In other news, Kate got a basket for the handlebars of her bicycle, so that she can take Floyd for bike rides. Here's a short youtube video of it in action. If you (or your wife) has a small dog and might like to try this, it is called a Snoozer buddy, and we got it on ebay for $50.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rustic Roads Project

The state of Wisconsin has 108 designated Rustic Roads. They are old-fashioned country roads, but all of them are a little more scenic than usual. They are either embedded in scenic landscapes, rolling hills, twisty bits... something interesting for the motorist.

The state gives a patch to each motorcyclist who sends in a photo of himself or his bike at the numbered sign. If 10 are sent in, a certain patch is given out. If 25 are sent in, another one is given out. They have even introduced a special one for 100! I don't know if I will get that many, but it will be fun to try.
Here are a couple of shots I got while I was out hitting four of them today:

This one started it all out. Another motorcyclist even showed up just in time to fill in the empty road.

Here's the start of another one I hit today.

Later on, it got very hilly; a nice change from the Chicago suburbs.

Sailor Dan's bar was along one of those, I think it was #11.

Now that I have a KLR and occasionally call myself an "Adventure Rider," I have to take opportunities like this from time to time. It looked to me like an access road for the utility company to get to the power lines. I didn't see any signs that said "No Trespassing" or "Private Property," so I went ahead and explored a bit. I stopped and deflated my tires from 30 psi to 15 psi, so I would have enough traction in the grass and dirt.

A bit further in, it got rougher and rougher, until it looked like this:
...and finally, like this. I wound up in some farmer's back yard. I had to turn around so as not to be rude, riding across his property uninvited.

When I got back to the road, I re-inflated to ~30 psi.
It was a little sad to have to ride home again. It was a great afternoon. The summer here in the midwest has been pretty weak. There were only a few days where the temperature got above 90°F. Most of the summer, it has been in the 70s, which is fine with me!
I kept an eye on oil level at the sight glass. After this ride of around 170 miles, I don't seem to have burned any more oil. I assume this is because I was nearly always below 4500 RPM.
I can't wait to get started on the Schnitz 685cc big-bore kit. I think it is a little ironic that my four stroke motorcycle burns more oil than it would if it were a two-stroke. At least if it were a two-stroke 650cc bike, it would make a ton more power and weigh a lot less!
The BeadRider seat pad is great. Again, not as comfortable as an aftermarket saddle, but I didn't get Monkey Butt either, so it is doing its job.