Ready to Move On

I don’t know when, but sooner or later, the Sporty’s gone. I don’t hate it, of course. I still ride it every day. And I’m gonna keep on riding it. But, she’s on her way out. Whenever I can, i.e., as soon as it makes financial sense to do so I’m getting rid of her.

Because lately, when I crack the throttle open all the way, I’ve started thinking, “Really? That’s it?” When I hit the curves, I think, “If I could lean just a little more, I could attack this curve even faster…”

I find myself walking into other motorcycle dealers, and looking at the Honda ST1300, the Yamaha FJR1300, the Kawasaki Concours14, and the BMW K1200GT. I’m not even looking at cruisers. And yet, when I walked into the Honda dealership to look at the ST1300–which they really wanted to sell me–I just couldn’t pull the trigger.

I’m the first guy to defend anyone’s right to buy a UJM bike, if that’s what they want. But I really don’t want to ride one myself.

The trouble is, no one makes the bike I want. If I was designing the perfect bike for me, it would have the following items:

1. Good performance, By which I mean loads of torque, great acceleration, good ground clearance and lean angle for cornering, effective–and adjustable suspension, excellent braking.

2. Comfort for a passenger. Chris hates the Sportster, because it just doesn’t give her enough room and the seat isn’t comfortable. I need a bike she can ride for a while in comfort.

3. Full bags, preferably hard ones. because I use the bike for everything, including trips to the grocery store, I have to have capacious luggage capacity.

4. Light weight. Yes, a big bike is more stable on the freeway, but in all other conditions, I really have no interest in lugging around 800 pounds of Road Glide.

5. Weather protection is important, because I ride all year ’round. Cold doesn’t really bother me that much. I have a full suit, so I can ride comfortably in the 30s–as long s I have good enough weather and wind protection to give me a cocoon of calm air in the cockpit. Also, fighting the wind on the freeway is a bit tiring.

6. A frickin’ stereo. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so, if I want to spend less than $18,000 for a motorcycle.

By my counting, I can get more or less 4 out of six of my requirements on most bikes. I can get all 6, but only if I want to pay $22,000 for a BMW R1200RT. I really don’t want to do that, however. Cost of ownership on a BMW is simply outrageous, as is the cost of simply acquiring one.

I’ve noticed, however, that Buell has released a new, shorter, street-centric touring version of the Ulysses, the XB12XT.

It comes close to meeting what I’m looking for. Signifigantly better performance than the Sporty. Very comfortable and spacious seating for both rider and pillion. Full bags and heated handgrips are standard. The weight is more than 100 pounds less than the Sportster. That leaves us with two shortcomings. Poor weather protection, and no sound system.

For less than $200, Parabellum, Cal Sci, and Cee Bailey make full-sized windshields for the Ulysses. That would give me weather protection equal to or better than what I have now, when you consider that the Uly also has handguards and heated grips.

The Uly also comes standard with two standard auto 12-volt outlets, one of which is right in the dash, and the other of which is under the seat. With that, and the capacious storage under the seat, I can put together a decent stereo system, install the speakers on the handlebar cross-brace, and plug the amp into the under seat 12-volt outlet. And I can run all the wiring under the faux-tank “airbox” cover.

And, of course, it’s an American bike. I’d prefer that.

I’d really like to test ride one, though, to see if it’s something I really want.

But, as much as I have enjoyed her, I’m thinking that I want to move one from the Sporty. And not to something bigger, heavier, and slower, either.

But it’s extremely hard to find what I want.

Well, that didn’t last long…

I took the bike into Biggs today, so they could install the rear brake pads they were supposed to install last week. I also had them look at the stereo system, to see if they could install it. They looked at it, and hemmed and hawed, and basically came to the conclusion that they didn’t want to mess with it.

However, I talked to one of the techs, and pointed out the battery tender connection under the tank. He though that I could probably connect to that to power the stereo, although it isn’t switched, so I’d have to unplug it every time I turned the bike off.

Well, I though, That was worth a try. I could velcro the amp inside one of the saddle bags, and run thew wires under the seat. So, I went to Radio Shack and bought some wire connectors, then to AutoZone for a connecter that would mate to the battery tender connector.

As soo as I got home, I spliced the wire connectors, then trotted out to the driveway to connect the amp to the battery tender cable. I plugged it in, just to see if the little LED on the amp would come on. It did, for about one second. Then something inside the amp went POP!, and smoke started curling out of it.

So much for one 200-watt amp. I opened the 5Ah fuse in the amp power cable, and it was fried, the way it was supposed to be, but it obviously didn’t fry before destroying the amplifier. So, now I have two expensive, and completely non-functional speakers.

Great.

My New Stereo

Well, finally, the stereo set I ordered arrived.

But, there’s a problem.

I can’t figure out where to put the amplifier. There is absolutely no room under the seat. No way. no how. and the power lines to the amp are only about 14 inches long, so it can’t be mounted too far away from the fuse box.

So, I’m stuck. I think I’m gonna need professional help with this one.

Still Waiting

So, despite the fact that I ordered the stereo amp and speakers Friday night, they didn’t actually ship it until today. The Motorcycle Tunes folks in Amarillo are apparently not too terribly infected with the “Get’r Done!” mentality.

UPS picked up the box today, so, It’ll probably not gt here until Monday or Tuesday. Then we’ll see whether this is an installation I can do, or if I have to take it to the dealer for the electrical work.

Dropped Off the Bike Today

Well, the 10K maintenance bill is finally due. I’m having the 10K maintenance–about $400–and a new rear tire and brake pads installed–about $300.

Considering that I also had an unexpected trip to the dentist this week for a crown to be installed, this is turning into an expensive week.

About the rear brake pads. I didn’t really have to replace them. They’re still good. I’m just not sure I can get away with the current pads for another 10k miles. But, I have a buddy at work who tried to make it through a whole set of rear pads, and eventually, the pads wore down to metal, and he ended up having to get a new rotor, too.

So, better to toss a half-used set of pads, than risk a mistake like that.

By the way, nice try on the service writer’s part in trying to get me to replace the front tire too. “It’s getting kind of low, too,” he says. Uh-huh. Quarter inch of tread left all round. I think I can wait till the next rear tire replacement.

Anyway, it’s in their hands now. Which means i have to drive th truck to work tomorrow.

*sigh*

Maintenance

Well, it’s about time to take the girl back to the shop. I’ve put over 9,000 miles on the bike since July. With the exception of a couple of weeks here and there in January and February–including two straight weeks of rain in Febuary, I’ve ridden her to work every day. And everywhere I can ride, too.

Of course, having the dogs and the chick, my weekends are usually devoted to driving the truck around on errands. My truck now has just broken 10,000 miles, and I’ve had it since 3/17/07. So the majority of that mileage came in the four months I drove it before getting the motorcycle, and a road trip to Tucson and back last year.

Now that the bike is approaching 10,000 miles, it’s time for a service, oil change, etc. And, unfortunately, a new back tire as well. So this will be an expensive trip to the dealer.

My local dealer, by the way, is still open. Apparently, according to a commenter here, Biggs is looking for a new owner. The Oceanside shop is essentially permanently closed, unless the new owner, whoever that might be, decides to re-open it.

It’d be cool if NY Mike decided to buy the dealership and incorporate it into San Diego Harley. There’s a good chance that I’d get my old service writer and parts consultant back if they did, since they are now working at the SD Harley at Claremont Mesa.

But, that’s for the future. For now, it’s going to be an expensive 10k checkup for the Sporty.

New Mods Ordered

Well, I’ve decided that I’m getting tired of riding with little earbuds to listen to my iPod or my XM unit. I either have to make the volume so loud I can’t hear the bike, or so soft, I can’t hear any bass. And it makes me feel like I’m too cut off from the ambient noise of traffic around me, which makes me feel like I’m in danger of missing cues to what’s going on around me.

So, tonight, I ordered the 200-watt amp/speaker setup from Motorcycle Tunes.

I know that 200 watts sound a bit like overkill, but, considering that I am on the open interstate every day, that extra wattage should allow me to listen to my tunes on the highway, and be able to turn it down a bit in town, so I’m not sharing Rage Against The Machine with everyone within a quarter mile.

The only real concern I have is where to stick the amplifier. In the 2007 bikes, the empty spot under the seat is no longer there. Instead, the ECM module takes up that space. At the moment, I’m thinking that I can put a windshield bag on, and stick the amplifier in there.

Hopefully, I’ll have enough room on the handlebars to stick on a universal device mount to hold my XM unit or iPod.

The shipment is coming via UPS Ground, so it’ll take a week or so to get here. I’ll let you know how it sounds after I get it installed.