Isle of Man

BMW F800 Humor: Garage Door Opener

Motorcycle Fashion Icon

As I was all ATGATT dressed up leaving work this week one of the women in the office commented that I had a nice "outfit" on. Hehe. I love thinking of it as an outfit. Yellow lid, red jacket, black pants and boots. I'm so cool.

Over and Off the Road on a KLR650

So I've considering giving into an impulse and getting a real dual sport. I miss the F650GS that I used to have. There's something about simplicity in a thumper that would be nice to have again. Love the FJR, it's my daily rider, my war hammer, into rush hour downtown traffic each day and it does what I want it to well. I've been thinking once it's warmer and the days are long it'd be nice to poke off into the woods and follow a trail somewhere. It might be only in my head though. The last time I did that on the F650GS all I could think of is what if I crash, how am I going to walk out of here. I need a buddy willing to crash with me I suppose. Maybe it's time to join a club or something. Or jsut get a 1200GS and join the thousands of others that never take theirs off road.

Watch Out for the Left Hand Turns

This one just a few block from my house. Just like the data says, watching out for cars not seeing you, making that left hand turn, is paramount. Rider crashes at the West Seattle Junction.

New Tires On the FJR

I finally bit the bullet and got new tires for the FJR. the old ones where at the end of their life and because I commute everyday, in any weather (expect snow!) the expense was worth it. I did save a $175 tire/wheel removal fee and took the wheels off myself. Somewhat nerve racking, as there's no room for failure with motorcycle wheels, but I wanted to have the skill, and save the money. I shopped for tires online, but my local shop mounts and balances them for free (on wheels off the bike) when you buy from them, so there I was buying local. Today I'm going to hand scrub the tires with a scotch-brite pad (not sure if it works, but it can't hurt) and take it really easy for the next couple hundred miles to break them in. Oh, if you're curious I went French. I'm trying out the Michelin Pilot Roads.

Tired Out

I just had the fork springs changed in the FJR, put 2004 springs in my 2003 model, and it's making a big difference. It's a lot more accurate in it's feedback, and almost never as compressed. Anyways, the tech at the shop - that took all my budgeted fun money for the rest of the month - mentioned that I need tires too. I knew that, but this makes it official. Oddly I've been unable to so far find a really great source for tire reviews for bikes. Forums are good, but scattered most of the time. No matter what this time next month I'll have new shoes on the FJR. Driving everyday in rush hour traffic, in downdown Seattle, often in the rain, means a commitment to the good rubber. I have to say, I've been eyeballin' the Avon Storm ST or the Michelin Pilot Road 2, so maybe it'll come down to what the local shop has in stock.

A Bike Named Trophy

It's interesting how one's tastes change. I used to lust after the Honda GB500 Tourist Trophy, back in the day when it came out (here's one on eBay for $4500 now). I would hunt them down and ponder ways to get it shipped to where I was, or because I was mostly broke I'd run small equations on the back of envelopes to see how I could eek out some form of monthly payment. I still think it's a beautiful machine, and I love that Honda gave it life, from concept. However, I clearly have more gray hair showing and maybe that makes me apply more weight to the other parts of actually owning a bike, comfort, power, safety, etc. Not that I'm complaining, just interested in how my desires have changed. If I thought about it there'd be a long line of once lusted after bikes, maybe I'll list those out in a later blog.

Local Dealer Bites the Dust

Wish I would have known they needed the help, I would have pitched a few dollars their way and bought some stuff. Maybe not a bike, but some boots or helmet or something. Sad to see a good bike dealer disappear. University Honda/Yamaha (Sound Rider article here) was close to my office (downtown) and best yet, they were down to earth good people who knew all about bikes and had a good vibe going on. Heck, they had a family dog that hung out in the store. I miss the shop already. The next best one is Renton Motor Sports, but even though I'm sure they're nice people they tend to cater to the young and way too fast crowd. Then again, they're still in business so who's got the better idea?

Dinner Jacket

Another thing I think I'm going to work on this year is a jacket that has awesome visibility. Something better than the gray one I have now. It'll be hard to find the right one, I'm a stickler for a great fit, and most importantly I carry a ton of stuff with me in my pockets when I ride so I need lots-o-pockets. A few gate/garage door openers, paperwork, duct tape, extra keys, bandanna, stuff like that. I recently saw this Joe Rocket Ballistic 7.0 that looked nice and was received well by the reviewers, plus I like the checkers. Still looking though, hard to find just the right mix of colors and style with utility.

They're Back.

Today it got up to 50 degrees, and you know what the means...everyone that rides in the good weather came out today. Saw more bikes today than I've seen in a long time. Even rode in a tiny pack (3 including me) for a bit along the beach. I've been suffering through the dark and rain, and wet all winter and I'm starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Another sure sign the warm is on the way (ok, it'll still be another 2 months away) is I'm looking at bikes again. It's the annual selection of the fittest. So far this year, I've started eyeballing the classic and underrated BMW R1200R, or R1150R. Everyone is out, and it's good to see you all.

2008 Seattle Motorcycle Show Snapshots

sThe Seattle Motorcycle show was suprisingly small this year, about 1/2 the size of what it was last year. Still, it's a great way to see tons of bike stuff all in one place. I tried on a bunch of jackets and helmets, and hopped on a bunch of bikes. Here are a few of my favs, snapped from my iPhone. The BMW F800GS, by the way, was from Touratech, not BMW. BMW wasn't at the Seattle show, sadly.

Cell Phones While Riding

I ran across this thread the other day, while wondering if there are any good iPhone apps that have to do with motorcycling. Some guy is upset that he can't talk on his iPhone while riding. For me, I don't even listen to music while riding. Even on this years trip from Alaska to Seattle the wife and I didn't listen to music, there was just too much to take in visually, and music was a distraction from the reason we were there. The sounds of the ride were important too, hearing the whine of the engine, the road surface changing, even pulling over here and there to listen to the wind and bald eagles cry while flying over head, there's just so much a visitor should take in on a trip like that. Of course there's the safety issue. I just don't think it's smart to not hear the ambient traffic noise around you, much less have a cell phone conversation while riding. Plus, at least for me, one reason I like to ride is I can be left alone, to be in my own world. In the few times that I've been expecting a call, I've pulled over once I felt the phone vibrate and called the person back. No worries. So it's everyone's own prerogative what they want to do while riding, but my simple advice is to be in the moment and focus on riding, while riding. Riding is fun, we like to do it, so why not concentrate on it?

WWI Paint Job

I was looking over a bike in the parking garage today, and I got to thinking how some bikes look like WWI battleships in camo. Of course they're not purposely painted for this, but I still think the bikes look like the long lost offspring of the ships. I think some of these paint jobs look great, bikes and battleships, just pointing out the similarities.

Now You See Me, Now You Don't.

Now that the days are getting shorter, and the evening falls much earlier I've been looking for ways to be more visible to cars (aside from my bright yellow helmet). I keep my luggage on the bike (top and side bags) to add size and therefore visibility to the bike, and if I ever put it down it's one more layer to skid on before I become the puck. I wanted to add daytime and nighttime visibility so I added these red and white reflective trailer warning stickers. I think they look pretty good, plus they're kind of Christmas like so maybe I'll look jolly too. I can tell I'm old now, when the safety of the bike takes precedence over how it looks. Then again, because I've been a safe (and lucky) rider I get to grow old.

BMW Changes Turn Signal!

(Blog post from Hell For Leather magazine. LOL description of a situation I've been in a few times while test driving BMWs)
To date, attempting to signal the direction of your intended turn whilst riding a BMW precipitated the following sequence of events: Horn honk; confusion induced wobble; signal in the wrong direction; confusion induced wobble; horn honk; turn while signaling in wrong direction; horn honk; signal in correct direction post turn; horn honk; continuing to signal; signal cancelled. But no longer, the company has finally brought its indicator switch mechanism in line with that of every other manufacturer.
We actually kid. While certainly unique, we never had a problem with BMW's old system and fear that it's fallen victim to the increasingly endemic Companies Listening to Old Fart Journalists Syndrome. You see, tasked with not only stuffing themselves with all the free food and drink they can fit in their surprisingly large stomachs, motorcycle journalists also find themselves needing to review multiple bikes after spending only a few minutes in the saddle of each. Afraid of actually criticizing the machines themselves for fear of loosing their access to those free meals, the old fart journalists instead find silly little niggles to complain about. The BMW indicator switches were one of those niggles. Just like iDrive, if you employed a small fraction of your brain's capacity, you could figure them out in about 30 seconds. But that 30 seconds of time was enough to spoil the day of many a crotchety old man, so now BMW riders will have to switch on their indicators just like everyone else.

Rainier Beer Motorcycle Ad

Chrome, Not Just for Google Anymore

Wow. That's a lot of chrome. Kind of turns into Wonder Woman's invisible plane though.

2009 BMW K1300R

Add the new 2009 BMW K1300R bike to the list of bikes that I'd love to have, for no other reason than to own and ride a work of art. This bike, with it's industrial Ugly Betty loveability has just never found wide spread appreciation. I can understand, as it's not much more than an engine wrapped in engineering and no real touring talent or even commuting skills to speak of. All that aside, the last time I was able to throw a leg over the older version of this machine I was supprised how light and accurate everything on it felt. Thanks BMW for keeping ojects of lust like this in production and forgoing your German instinct for only the practicle.

Aprilla Zen Master

Kudos to the dude on the Aprilla RSV making the wet street left turn in front of me today. RSV dude was threatened by a car trying to turn in front of him, aka not seeing him, and did everything right. He passed me as I crossed the street in back of him, his eyes were moved on to the car at the corner. He was locked on to it in an impressive display of looking ahead. Rightfully so, said car started to pull out and cut him off, and he was able to drop on foot to the group as he came to a near full stop as the car slammed it's breaks. Well done Aprilla dude.