VFR Update

So, I’ve tooled around town on the new bike. Some initial impressions below. But first, a walkaround video and some pics.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTCr83dsjkA

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I’m keeping it very sedate while I’m breaking it in, so I haven’t pushed the engine more than a little bit. But even a little bit of pushing and this thing takes off. For instance, i

n automatic, there’s a standard Drive mode that short-shifts and is very strongly biased to fuel economy…to the extent that you’re in 6th gear by 40mph. Not very exciting at all.  Like a moderately sporty scooter. Then there’s the Sport mode. It’s…the opposite. It shifts at redline. And, while I can’t really use the sport mode much during the break-in period, it is…exciting. Let’s just say you can leave rubber from the rear wheel…in 3rd gear, though with brand-new tires.

You don’t need to know how I know that. Or how badly my pants were soiled.

The hardest thing to get used to is not shifting. Over the last three years, I’ve built up all these habits on the FJR. I upshifted with my foot, but downshifted by tapping the handlebar paddle. But there’s no need to shift at all on the VFR with the auto tranny. So, I have to keep stopping myself from tapping the shift lever on the handlebar, and pulling out of auto into manual mode.

Also, the FJR didn’t do anything at all until the RPMs hit 2,500. But as soon as you touch the throttle on the VFR, it goes. So, I’ve gotten a little sloppy on the throttle, because twisting it slightly on the FJR didn’t do anything. That is not the case with the VFR, so I’m re-learning how to discipline my throttle hand.

I haven’t yet figured out the optimum process for making sharp turns, or low-speed maneuvering in general. Like the FJR, the VFR takes a combination of throttle input and rear brake, but I just haven’t found that optimum amount of each that makes turning smooth. Without a clutch to keep at the friction point, low-speed stuff is a little tricky. I had it mastered on the FJR, but now I’m having to relearn it. It’s trickier on the VFR because it responds instantly to the throttle.

Interestingly enough, the VFR doesn’t pull hard from a dead stop, like the FJR did. The VFR stomps at >3,000 RPM, but the initial takeoff is fairly smooth and easy. Having said that, I also haven’t twisted the grip hard yet.  We’ll have to revisit this impression after break-in.

I really like it so far. It seems much lighter than the FJR, though it isn’t, really, at just 50 lbs lighter. I’ve also only been able to ride in town, so I have no experience with the twisties, and even when I ride to work the next few weeks, I won’t be able to push it.

This break-in period is really hampering my usual riding style, which is…not conservative. Mainly, I’m riding it in the standard auto mode, which is so biased towards low RPM that it shifts to 6th gear at 40 MPH. So, I’m gonna have to wait for another 550 miles before I can get into the performance aspect of the machine.

So far, it’s exactly what I expected, and exactly what I wanted in a fancy gentleman’s sporting bike.

I guess I’m a VFR guy now

Yeah, I haven’t posted for 6 months. Mainly it’s because I’ve been really busy with other things. That seems to be my standard MO with this site. Post a lot for 6 months, then sort of move on to other things. Then, eventually, come back.

Well, I have a reason to come back, now.

Yesterday, on my ride home from work, I decided to go by North County House of motorcycles. While there, I saw a brand new 2010 VFR1200F with the DCT automatic transmission on sale. They’d marked it down from $17,499 to $11,999. So, I traded my FJR1300AE for it on the spot.

DalesNewVFR

This is the only picture I have of it, a crappy cell phone pic the sales guy took just before I geared up and rode off on it. I didn’t get bags with it, but I put my tailbag on it as soon as I got home.

I had a lots of work to do today, so I only got a chance to ride it to the store and back. So I’ve only got 20 miles on it. I can already tell that there’s a bit of a learning curve for it.  I’ll keep updating my experiences with it as I break it in and get used to it.

The main difference is that, unlike the FJR AE model, you don’t have to hit 2,500RPM on the tach before it starts to move. Touck the throttle and it goes. And I mean goes. The performance simply outclasses the FJR in every way…if you want it to.

It’s got lots less wind protection and general cushy comfort than the FJR had, though I knew that going into it. I miss the heated grips, too.

But it’s a stonkin’ great engine. Which is what I was looking for in this case.

My cunning plan is to have both a fancy man’s sporty bike like a VFR or K1300S, and a fancy man’s touring bike, either the R1200RT or K1600GT. So, I guess I’m halfway there.

Quick Notes

If I was to tell you how packed my schedule has been this week, you’d be so bored you’d want to slit your own throat. So I won’t. But I do have time to take note of a few things.

The ATK/Hyosung GT650R I’ve been evaluating for ATK is doing fine. I’m convinced that, given some ergos more forgiving to my 46 year-old frame, it’d be a fine commuter/city bike. It’s easy to ride, with predictable performance, and has a surprisingly comfy seat.

The Honda CBR1000RR is about the deadliest racing weapon imaginable in the hands of Casey Stoner.

Is the new Kawasaki ZX-10R good enough to beat the BMWS1000RR in a head-on comparo? No. Seems like a close call, though.

I got my FJR back from the shop on Saturday. Embarrasingly, I had managed to hang my good luck bell in the perfect place…to cut the main wiring harness with the edge of the bell in a full-lock left turn. I’m glad I was backing out of a parking space, instead of trying to do a U-Turn, when the engine went dead.

Instead of spending money on a second bike, I’ve begun wondering if I shouldn’t just get an exhaust system, PowerCommander, and K&N Air Filter.

Stranded

I’m not sure that the guys at North County House of Motorcycle;s came up with a permanent fix for my FJR’s electrical problem. I was in a parking lot this afternoon when I lost all electrical power. Fuses and battery are OK, so the problem is elsewhere. So, NCHM is picking up the bike tomorrow morning to take it in and fix it.

Very disappointing.

On the bright side, I’ll be going to pick up the GT650R in Orange County tomorrow, so I won’t be bikeless while the FJR is being fixed.

My book, Slackernomics, should be available for Kindle tomorrow

I’m happy to announce that sometime tomorrow my book, Slackernomics, will be available on Kindle at the Amazon store for the low, low price of $3. For those who don’t know, Slackernomics is a book on basic economics for people who think economics is boring. Instead of a bunch of charts and math, I present economics in a more enjoyable way.  For instance, here is a portion of my discussion on the role of prices:

Another feature of the price system is that it forces producers to put resources to their most valued uses. This is important because, quite often, consumers demand different goods that use many of the same components.

Let’s take petroleum, for example. People don’t just need gasoline; they need plastics to make computer keyboards and ugly furniture for college students. Businesses need chemicals for industrial production and dyes. Textile companies need artificial fabrics that don’t fade or discolor. Perverts need Vaseline.

So, in bidding for each of those items, their producers are also bidding for the petroleum required to make them. When more people buy Vaseline, Johnson & Johnson has to bid away some of that petroleum from refineries or textile mills. In turn, this increased demand in petroleum causes the price of oil to rise for everyone who uses it.

In order to keep buying oil, everyone now has to pay the price that Johnson & Johnson is willing to pay. As this raises consumer prices for these items, consumers are likely to buy less of them. For example, a consumer, noticing the increase in the cost of Vaseline, decides to spend Saturday night alone.

So, the price that Johnson & Johnson is willing to pay for oil becomes an added cost for all of the other businesses that use oil. If they want to bid away some of that oil, they have to be willing to pay the higher price. But since higher prices tend to mean lower sales, other producers will only bid away as much oil as they think they can use, now that sales are dropping.

The end result is that Johnson & Johnson ends up with a relatively larger portion of oil. In other words, the resource of oil has flowed to the highest valued product, an important…uh…medical lubricant.

Eventually, because there is an increasing supply of Vaseline, demand is affected. At some point, consumers are unwilling to buy it, because there’s enough of it on the shelves. And, of course, with all this petroleum bidding going on, the price has been increasing. So, some consumers may notice that the price of Vaseline has now increased relative to, say KY Jelly, and they may decide to purchase that instead.

Of course, either way, Johnson & Johnson wins.

So, if you’d like to get a better understanding of how economics work, and maybe get a few good laughs on the way, you can get it tomorrow for about 1/6 the price of the physical book.

I’ll provide the direct link to Amazon to purchase it when it becomes available tomorrow.

I got a ticket for splitting lanes. In California.

The day started out very badly.  In my way in to work this morning, I stopped at Albertson’s for some snacks for the day.  This Albertsons is located on the main way in to the military installation where I work.  On one side of the road, it’s two lanes that merge into a single lane.  It is always full of cars, and they are mainly stopped due to the excessive traffic going into the base.

As I reached the entrance to the road from the parking lot, I saw a CHP motor cop almost directly in front of me. I stopped at the edge of the exit from the parking lot, looked to my left to see if any motorcycles were coming up the side of the lane–as hundreds do every day on this stretch of road, since the traffic is always backed up about a block back. Seeing no one coming I turned into the lane, and followed the path shown below  by the pale blue arrow.

Traffic Diagram
Traffic Diagram

The CHP cop pulled out of his lane and lit me up.  I stopped and asked whyt he stopped me, and he said it was for illegal passing. To make a long story short, an argument about lane-splitting ensued, in which the CHP officer denied that the California Vehicle Code allowed lane-sharing in California, and demanded I cite the CVC section that allowed it.  I had my smartphone with me, and punched up the CHP official web site, and showed him the FAQ on lane sharing that is on the CHP’s FAQ page.  His response was to say, “Well, I don’t know why they put that on there.”

In other words, a CHP motorcycle officer denied that California allows lane sharing for motorcycles, and had no knowledge of why the CHP’s official web site said it was legal.

He cited me for unsafe passing on the shoulder, despite the fact that at no time did I cross the white shoulder line, and stayed entirely in the traffic lane. Moreover, it should be obvious from the diagram above that, with the traffic stopped as it was, it would have been physically impossible for him to observe whether or not I crossed the shoulder, as a line of stopped vehicles completely obscured any possible line of sight to the roadway.

In the 12 years I’ve used this gate into the installation, the common practice is for motorcycles to share the #2 lane. It is done constantly.

But what really burned me up was that after he had cited me, and handed me the yellow copy, he then proceeded to question me about my usual route to work, times, etc. From his tone and demeanor, I inferred that to be a threat to single me out for special attention on my morning commute, solely because I had the temerity to argue with him over the legality of lane sharing, and informing him that I would be fighting the ticket in court. When I asked him why he was questioning me in this manner, he said, “I’m just asking questions.” So, I told him that I had been a police officer for ten years, so I knew exactly what the import of those questions was.

I respond poorly to threats, so, as soon as it opened, I called the Oceanside CHP office and lodged an official complaint against the officer for this.

And, yes, I will contest this in court.

I think I know what I want

2009 Buell 1125R Arctic White
2009 Buell 1125R, Arctic White

I’ve pretty much decided what bike I want for a used 2nd bike. That’s it right over there on the left.

I want the 2009 Buell 1125R, in Arctic White, with the blue screen and wheels. I don’t want the 2010, with ugly “R” on the intake cowlings and the blue stuff blackened.

I want that bike in that color.

I’ve ridden it, and it has fantastic handling.  You’d think the steep rake would make it twitchy, but it isn’t.

It’s a vibey, growly twin that weighs 450lbs wet, and, in stock configuration, puts 130 HP and about 75 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheel, according to Sport Rider. It’d be a big change from my FJR, that’s for sure.

It also has really comfy ergos for me–in sportbike terms, at any rate, and would be great little commuter, especially on the winding roads through Bonsall that I ride twice a day.

The only possible problem I can see is that, looking at Cycle Trader today, there is exactly one available.  In the entire US. And it’s 3,000 miles away in Florida. So, there is the slight possibility that finding exactly this bike, in decent shape, may have some degree of difficulty attached to it. But I remain stupidly optimistic that this obstacle can be overcome.

At the moment, it’s not really an obstacle at all, since I wouldn’t be able to buy so much as a creme-filled donught until I pay of my income tax bill for this year. But, perhaps in late summer…

By the way, I’ve been perusing Craigslist, Oodle, and Cycle Trader a lot over the past week or so.  Here’s an observation for prospective motorcycle sellers. Just because you had a custom paint job consisting of electric blue and gold skulls and half-naked ladies on the fairing, and then chromed the swingarm and all exposed engine parts doesn’t mean that your seven year old CBR1000RR is worth $8,000. Seriously. Trust me on that.

I need two motorcycles

I’ve decided I need a smaller, funner motorcycle to go along with my big, fun, FJR. I’d like something that’s sporty and fun, but commute-y. I don’t want to spend a lot of money, so I’m thinking about used bikes that I can scour Craig’s List for a good deal on. I’d love a new Ninja 1000, but that’s out financially.

These are the options I’m thinking about.

Yamaha FZ1. Fast and fun, but maybe a bit weak down in the lower end of the rev range, where a lot of my commuting would be.

Bandit 1250S. Gobs of torque, but, sadly, flops like a lead balloon on the top end.

GSX-R1000. Screw it. Just go pure sportbike. But not one with an excessively committed riding position.

Those are my top three choices for a used second bike. Any other suggestions?

UPDATE: I forgot about the Buell 1125R. I wouldn’t mind one of those, either.

On Two Wheels Again

I finally got the FJR back from the service department and North County House of Motorcycles today.  It turns out that it was a grounding problem in the electrical system.  They found four bad grounds in the main wiring harness.  Rather than replace the wiring harness, they have a service tech who’s a pretty good electrician, and who rewired it himself.  Seemed to work OK, and saved me a couple of hundred dollars.

I also bought a Tourmaster tail bag.  I’ve been keeping the hard bags on the bike, even when commuting, because I needed the space to carry my laptop, etc., but with the tailbag, I can leave the hard bags off.  The FJR looks really good without bags…or, at least it’s supposed to.  What makes it look good are the six plastic covers that conceal the mounting holes for the hard bags.  They’re color-matched to the bike, so the FJR without bags looks like it’s supposed to be without them.

Sadly, I can’t find the mounting hole covers.  I know where they used to be…which turns out not to be helpful. On the way to get some groceries, I stopped off ay North County Yamaha to order some. Each of the three covers for each side has it’s own part number.  So, one set of covers is in California, and can be here in a couple of days.  One set is in Georgia, and can be here in about a weeks or so.  The third set of covers…well…there are none currently in the United States, and none are expected until March 14.

Oh, and each of these little plastic rectangles, they cost $15.  So, it costs $100 to buy 6, 2 inch-long pieces of plastic.

I didn’t want to order them, but I ripped the garage apart and can’t find the originals, so I didn’t have much choice.  I’m sure I took them out of the garage to put them in a safe location…and now I’ve forgotten the safe location. Which, in one sense, means that they’re as safe as can be.