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.

Not a Good Sign

So, I’m at Biggs Harley getting the bling I talk about below installed, and I check out the motor clothes department. They are offering some really nice discounts in the motor clothes, like 45% off of leather jackets.

I decided to look for some boots for the OL. They had a couple of different ones that she’d like, but every time I asked if they had them in her size, which is relatively common (size 7), they didn’t have any. So, I went up to the counter to see what they dids have in her size, and I see a little sign next to the cash register:

ALL SALES ARE FINAL
NO REFUNDS
NO EXCHANGES

I asked the sales guy, “Hey, if I buy her a pair of boots and they don’t fit, I can’t bring them back?”

“Nope,” he says. “Sorry”

“Well, that makes it kind of hard to do any gift buying, doesn’t it?”

“Yeah.”

“OK, then. Nevermind. I guess I don’t need to buy any boots here.”

Now this is the same dealer that, a month ago, closed their Oceanside location for “remodeling”, and fired most of the people in San Marcos, replacing them with some Oceanside employees.

“Hmmmm,” I think to myself. “The oceanside store is closed, half of the employees are fired, they’re clearing out motor clothes with deep discounts, and all sales are final.”

I’m thinking that none of these things are a good sign that a) the “remodeling” in Oceanside is actively occurring, or b) things are going well at the San Marcos dealership. These things seem like signs that Biggs Harley is seriously downsizing. Maybe all the way down, if you know what I mean.

New Accessories Installed

Finally, after a two-week wait, my Kuryakin ISO Mini-Boards arrived. I took off early from work, and headed over to the dealership to have them installed. Also, after I ordered the mini-boards, I picked up the ISO grips as well, after seeing a lot of people say good things about them on the HD Forums. Here are some pics of them installed:

So, a couple of things I’ve noticed in the 15-minute trip from the dealership to the house.

First, the boards are really comfortable! There’s a lot of room for moving your feet around to different positions. That’s really nice compared to the pegs. They also have the rubber isolators, and they really seem to cut way down on the felt vibration. They are also very–and easily–adjustable. There two hex set screws to loosen, and you can set the boards to any angle you desire in minutes. They really are way superior to the foot pegs.

The grips are very nice as well. The rubber isolaters really kill a lot of the vibration, and they provide a very good grip. The rubber is also kind of springy and very comfortable. Having the throttle boss is handy as well, since you can loosen up your grip a whole lot, and just push the throttle boss with the palm of your hand.

The miniboards and the grips were about 90 bucks apiece, and the extra comfort really seems to make them a steal at that price. I think they look good, but the comfort is the real gem of these accessories. I highly recommend them.

Rain, Rain, and More Rain

I’m really starting to hate the rain. It’s been raining for the last week here in Southern California, and I haven’t been able to ride my bike for 10 days now. I hope I haven’t forgotten how.

The poor bike has just been sitting in the garage, lonely and ignored.

Today, it didn’t rain, but, unfortunately, I didn’t get to ride. Beautiful clear skies, temps in the 70s, and I had to take care of the dogs. I have a male boxer, Apollo, and a female cane corso, Contessa. Both of them are great dogs–although that’s probably because we are constantly training them.

They are also both very athletic, high-energy dogs. They really need daily exercise. But, when it rains, they just don’t get it. we can’t take them to the dog park, or, really, anywhere else. Both of them refuse to go out in the rain unless they really have to. Contessa, for example, won’t even go to the bathroom until she just can’t hold it any more. Both of them though, when you take the to the door to let them out, will take one step outside, feel the rain and the cold, and immediately back up into the house again.

So, I haven’t been riding, and they haven’t been getting exercise. As a result, they’ve been bouncing off the walls.

So, since today was a nice day, my primary responsibility was to take them out and let them burn off that excess energy. So, we left the house at about 9:20 this morning, and drove the dogs out to Dog Beach in Del Mar. They got to romp and play on the beach until they finally got tired out at about 1:30 this afternoon. Then it was home for post-beach dog bathing.

All the way out to the beach, and all the way back, there were motorcycles everywhere. road Kings, Ultra Classics, BMW LTs, Softails, CBR1000’s; just about everybody with a motorcycle was out riding today.

But not me.

And, it started raining agin this evening, and it’s scheduled to rain for the next three days.

At least the dogs had a good day.

More Goodies

Wow. hard to believe it’s been more than a month since I’ve posted a blog entry. Holidays were busy, I guess.

Anyway, I’ve ordered a new little upgrade for the bike. Kuryakyn ISO Wing Miniboards to replace the rider footpegs. They’re about 5″ long at the widest point on both sides, with rubber vibration isolators, to smooth out the ride.

I’ve also been thinking about getting the matching ISO grips with a throttle boss, too, but those I think I’d want the dealer to install. i had half-decided to get them, and thought about going to the dealership again to look into it, but, since it’s Monday, the dealership is closed.

The miniboards are on order, so it’ll be a week or so before I get them.

Looking at Beemers

I spent about a half hour talking to a local motorcycle cop about his new ride, a BMW R1200 RT-P. It’s the new bike that all the departments here in California are switching to for their Mary units. He just raved about it.

Well, I’ve never actually seen one up close, so, having nothing else to do after work, I went over to the local BMW dealer on my way home to have a look. I looked at the R1200 RT, the K1200 GT, and the K1200 LT. The designation of R1200 refers to the 2-cylinder, 110hp, 1170cc boxer engine, and the K1200 is an inline four-cylinder transverse mounted engine. The RT is their low end tourer, the GT is a 154-hp sport tourer, and the LT is their top-of-the-line Gold Wing-style tourer.

I sat on them, looked at all the cool dealies on them, and talked to a really nice sales guy. And my overall conclusion was…

Meh.

Maybe if I had to ride one 8 hours a day I’d like them, but I dunno.

First of all, any of them are about $20,000, unless you want the stripped down version. The GT doesn’t have–and you can’t have–a radio. The seat on the LT is about 32 inches off the ground, so the average person can’t even flat-foot it, which, I think, is not something you are looking for in an 850 pound motorcycle. And the seat heights on the R and GT are about 30 inches, so you can flat-foot them, but just barely. The GT and RT both weigh a bit less than the sporty, however.

No forward controls. No floorboards, and even if you could get them, your legs would be spread so wide you probably coudn’t touch the ground anyway.

Yeah, they have a low center of gravity, and some really cool features like heated…everything, and I’m sure they handle like a dream. And I’m sure the GT’s 154 horses are screamingly fast. But I really didn’t come away from looking at them thinking they’d be fun to handle in city traffic. Your little tippy-toes come down on gravel and that bike is gonna go down. Uneven pavement? well, good luck with that.

And when they go down, they go down. It’s not like a Road King, where, if you drop it in a parking lot, it’ll tip over on the crash bars at about 45 degrees, leaving you standing astride it, feeling stupid. If the BMW bikes go down, you’re going to say “hi” to Mr. Pavement. Then, shell out lots and lots of money for all the new plastic fairing and hard bag replacement crap. The LT does have pop-off mirrors, though, so you can snap them back on instead of replacing the whole fairing, and it has these wing-like rubber bumpers on the outer edges of the fairing. That should only cost you a couple of hundred to replace, along with the chromey, plastic bumper dealies on the saddlebags.

I guess I was surprised. I hear people talk about them like they’re the cat’s pajamas, but in real life, they just didn’t seem all that great for the money, or fun to tool around town in. I understand they have excellent handling, which is good for the cops, who really need it, and they’re probably a blast on the highway, but they just don’t strike me as great all-round motorcycles.

Not for anyone with an inseam less than 26″ inches anyway. They’d inspire a lot more confidence if you could plant your feet firmly from the saddle, I guess.

Wh are the seats so danged tall?

Why Ride a Harley?

Being a member of the Harley Davidson forums, I see a lot of people in the various HD forums making a lot of complaints about their bikes. Now, some complaints are good ones. “I just got a new bike, and the farble shaft was incorrectly aligned,” or “I was just riding down the road, and my transverse shim bearing snapped,” or “I just noticed spots of hydraulic fluid on the floor of my garage.” Those are good complaints because they relate to the quality of the machine. As consumers, we have the right to demand that Harley manufactures a quality product. To make those complaints, are to judge the Harley on its own merits.

But I’ve noticed several complaints about the various Harleys in relation to other bikes. “My Aprilia was so much faster.” “My BMW steers much better.” “My Gold Wing was so much smoother.” “My Vulcan had way more torque.” That, I think, is a different kind of complaint.

Because if those are your complaints, I have to wonder why you would buy a Harley in the first place. Maybe it just isn’t the bike for you.

Harley attempts to do one thing and do it well. They make cruising motorcycles and touring motorcycles. That’s it. They don’t have the biggest engines, the highest speed, or the most torque. They aren’t designed to be high-performance speedsters, and they aren’t mean to be smooth or tame or ultra-quiet. They are intended to be–and are–the personification of motorcycle cruising.

That’s a different style of riding. It’s not about aggressive maneuvering, or fantastic speeds. It’s about the freedom of hitting the open road, feeling the sun on your back and the wind in your face. Hearing the basso profundo throbbing of the pipes, and feeling the throb of that V-twin between your knees. You don’t have to scrape the pegs at every corner, of blast through every sweeper with a hard turn of the thottle. Oh, sure, you can do those things–and often do–but it isn’t esssential to the ride. Because for a cruiser, the ride’s the thing. It’s the journey itself that matters.

Second, the Harley is simply beautiful. There’s a reason why the Boulevard, and the Stars, and the Vulcans look the way they do. It’s because they take their styling cues from Harley-Davidson. The Harley is the standard for the cruiser look. When Squarejohn Citizen thinks about motorcycles, he thinks of Harley-Davidson. The Harley is a work of art, visually. It retains a classic look that speaks to you in a way that the copies don’t. You can stick a batwing fairing on a Midnight Venture but it just doesn’t look the same.

Finally, when you buy a Harley, you are buying something more than just a mototrcycle. You are buying into a mystique; a tradition. You are buying into a style of motorcycle–and motorcycling–that is different. The Harley speaks to a life-style of independence, freedom, and yes, rebellion, that others may try to copy, but can never quite duplicate. To own a Harley-Davidson is to participate in a particluar life-style and culture, even if only at the periphery. It carries an aura of danger-whether that’s individually true or not of the rider–that other bikes don’t. No one’s clutching his wife a little closer, or getting that nervous feeling in the pit of his stomach when group of BMW riders pull into the parking lot.

If you want the quiet, smooth, “I can hardly tell it’s running” feeling, then get a Gold Wing. If you need to just tear up the streets at all times, get a Speed Triple. There’s nothing wrong with a Boulevard or V-Star. They’re great bikes. Lots of people love them. And if that’s what you want, you should get it. There’s nothing wrong with getting what you want. No one should put you down for it, or disdain riding with you.

But if you get a Harley, judge it on its own terms, not in terms of its relation to a bike that’s meant to be something else. By all means, complain about poor quality or shoddy workmanship. Anyone who asks for several grand of your hard-earned money owes that to you, and they need to hear it when they aren’t getting the job done.

But if it isn’t the kind of bike that you want…well, that’s not the bikes fault.

Tourmaster Riding Clothes

Two weeks ago, I went in to North County Yamaha, and purchased the Tourmaster Pivot 2 textile jacket. I love it!

It has hard CE armor at the elbows and shoulders, soft armor for the back, a toasty warm zip-out quilted liner, and for when it’s warm, frickin’ vents everywhere. It’s waterproof and windproof.

I’ve been wearing it every day on my way into work. Temps in the morning have been down in the 40s and 50s, and so far, it’s kept me as warm as I could want. I highly recommend it.

The only downside has been that, since I only have leather chaps, my legs have been a little cool after 15 minutes or so. And, of course, since chaps are crotchless, my naughty bits have been decidely cooler than I’d like.

So, I went back to NCY this afternoon after work, and picked up a pair of Tourmaster Venture pants. It’s got exactly the same features the jacket has, with hard CE armor at the knees, and soft hip armor. The legs unzip all the way to the thigh, so you can slip ’em on over your pants and boots. The pants and jacket also have a mating KYY zipper so you can hook them together. the pants also have a long velcro strip at the bottom, so you can bind them tightly around your ankles.

Tomorrow morning, I’m taking a two-hour ride up to LA for Turkey Day with the family. I’m a lot happier about the ride knowing that my junk won’t freeze off.

Price for the jacket: $129. Price for the pants: $109. As far as I’m concerned, anything this well made and this versatile is well worth the money.

It’s Like a Whole New Bike

Now that I’ve had several post-Stage I days of riding the Sporty, I have to say that it doesn’t feel like the same bike I bought in July.

It pulls hard in every gear. Grab a handful of throttle and it wants to dump you off the back. It just never seems like the bike is straining at any speed. When I first got it, I was disappointed at how it seemed like it was poorly suited for the open highway, but now, I’ve been cruising at 88MPH on the highway all week, and it just purrs along.

I knew, intellectually, that the Stage I would add some pep to it. But everything–performance, sound, and feel–is pretty much exactly what I was hoping for when I first got it.

And I love having the bags and trunk for it. When I go to work, I can carry all my stuff, and when I get there, I can lock up all my riding gear, instead of wearing it or lugging it all into the building with me.

Finally, it’s exactly how I want it.

Whether I keep it or not, is now pretty much up to The Lovely Christine. She is starting to ride 2-up with me on trips around town. The Sporty’s fine for that, but she’s also talking about longer trips. That would get a little cramped.

Right now, I’m thinking that she might get to the point where she might want to start riding again herself. In that case, a used V Star 650 would probably be perfect for her, and I could just keep the Sportster.

If not, though, at this time next year I might be looking for another bike. Probably a Harley FLH-series bike. Not the Ultra Classic Electra Glide. Too much crap on that for me. But, maybe a Road King, Road Glide or Electra Glide Classic would be nice for 2-up riding, and still a good commuting bike. I am really conflicted about which one I’d prefer, however.

My initial thought is the Road King. That bike is just a work of art, visually. I’d have to spend a pretty penny–again–to get it set up the way I’d want, though. The Road Glide has everything I want, but I’m iffy on the look of that shark-nosed fairing. The Electra Glide Classic has everything I want,too, but having ridden an Ultra, I don’t like the extra steering weight of the batwing. I’d probably want to detach the Tour-Pak for daily commuting, too.

Every bike has something I like, and something I don’t.

We’ll have to see how that develops.

Why Forums Suck

When I decided to get back into biking, I joined the Harley Davidson forums. It’s about the biggest, unofficial forum for Harley’s around. It’s generally full of good people, and good information

But, now, I’m remembering why I left the Usenet/forums/discussion groups world a few years ago. because on every forum, there’s always one wackjob that ruins it. I’ve found the wackjob. There’s a member who goes by the name of YoDaddyKieth, who joined in September, and somehow, I’ve become his personal whipping boy.

I post in a couple of the sub-forums, and I guess I made the mistake of posting in the touring forum. The subject was crotch rockets, and the silly stuff their riders get up to, like doing wheelies on the freeway at 80 miles an hour. Usually they only kill themselves, but is some cases, they also take out 10 year-old bystanders and the like.

So, I opined that stunting on public roads–which is already an infraction–should be punished by a heavy fine, confiscation of the bike, and revokation of the riders MC endorsement. There are plenty of places to do stunting where you don’t become a safety hazard on public roads.

So, loony-boy replies with:

Come on Dale Franks, get real

Guys like you think you have mastered bikes because you can hold one up and defy gravity tween stop lights…..and you think that’s the limit all bikers should stop at.

I got a lesson for you Dale. Holding a bike up tween redlights is only the beginning of the experience……If stunt riders threaten you and make you feel inadequate, then park your bike……either that or learn to compete with them, but don’t diss a rider who can outride you.

Let’s face it, you bought a Sporty hoping it would make you appear more masculine…you were attempting to capitalize on the ‘vision’ and make yourself more manly looking, huh?…..well, you can tag along as long as you want and enjoy the benifits, but only as long as you don’t try to place stops on the real bikers if we scare you.

I haver a good friend my age from Burma….I made a beer run to his store last night…..He looked out the window at my new bike and made a comment about how badly he wanted one….I told him to go get one….He then pointed to his almost bald dome and said he had recently spent 20K with Bosley on a hair transplant and couldn’t afford the bike and that his wife would never allow it….I laffed at his wasted bucks and misdirected efforts at making himself more attractive and ‘adequate’….Then I told him that 20K he spent with Bosley would have bought him a bike that would put hair on his chest….He didn’t get it.

I bet neither will you.

See ya round Dale.

Now, keep in mind that this is a guy I’ve hardly had any contact with on the forum at all, but I’ve clearly touched a button with this wierdo.

Then, I get an unsolicited Private Message from him, saying:

WTF are you doing in the touring forum?

Because you added bags to your Sporty?….It don’t work that way Dale….this is just like the hwy where your bike has to actually tote the load, not simply look like it will or you will be left behind….and believe me, it won’t, and you will.

Go home-put your hair on-strip the bags off-and be happy you got a Sporty…….If you really want to keep up with the baggers and join in the conversation and the experience, then you gotta pay the price of admission like I did.You can park your bagged sporty next to me and hope to look like me, but don’t fret or bother to keep up once I decide to roll.

What’s sad is the fact you started with a Sporty and dropped tons o money in it trying to make it a bagger….For the same money you could have had the real thing.

Trust me, I got both bikes(and thick curly hair) and I know there is no way to convert either bike to the other-or you to me. Stop wasting your time and money. You only embarrass yourself trying….It’s comedy, and it’s sad.

It’s really too bad though that thick, curly hair and a big Harley still isn’t a substitute for a tiny, childlike cock.

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

I don’t much care what people say in the forum itself. I mean, that’s public, and everyone can see it and make their own conclusions about it. But once you start PM’ing a total stranger with this level of personal abuse, you’re really moving over into Creepy Territory.

And it’s almost impossible to join almost any forum, on almost any subject, without raving loons like this crawling out of the woodwork. Back in the day, the Usenet and discussion group world–while it had it’s share of characters–didn’t have this level of basic wierdness.

But, I guess that once computers and internet access got cheap enough for even lunatics to purchase, it was inevitable.

Post Stage 1 Report

Now that I’ve done the stage one, and had a few days to drive it, I seems like I have a completely different bike.

When the bike was stock, it sounded like it was puffing hard when I pushed it just a little bit. The engine/exhaust sounds were really high and whiny, making me think I was pushing a lot more RPMs than I actually was.

That’s all gone now. And, I can see the RPMs on the tach. The redline is about 6000 RPM, and what I thought were speeds at which I was pushing the bike, like, say 25 MPH in first, weren’t even 3000 RPMs.

The Sporty wants to run at 4000 RPM, which is the peak of its power band. At 4000 RPM, then, you’re talking the following shift points for each gear:

2nd @ 30 MPH
3rd @ 50 MPH
4th @ 65 MPH
5th @ 80 MPH

With 4000 RPM in 5th gear translating out to 88 MPH. That’s where she runs at peak power (torque).

Having done this for the last two days (131 miles), I can tell you that while she really likes to run at those speeds, she also wants to drink a lot more gas. Driving sedately, I’ve been getting around 44 miles per gallon. Riding in the peak power band for the last two days, my mileage, calculated after filling up tonight, has been about 39 MPG. About 1/3 of my driving has been open highway, so I’ve been doing 88 MPH, rather than my usual 75-80.

I’ll be going back to that 75-80 tomorrow, now that my testing is done, because while the CHP will forgive 80 MPH, they will not forgive 88.

That aside, since doing the Stage I, she will pull as hard as you like in any gear. For a cruiser, that is. It’s not a Hyabusa, after all, but it’s plenty powerful enough to pull the front tire off the ground, dump you off the back, or both.

I really like the new sound of the SEII Performance Slip-ons, too. The higher-register noise is gone, with a lot more bass rumble. They say–whoever “they” are–that after about 1,000 miles, after some of the glass and stuff has burned out, it settles down into a very nice tone. But, since the SEIIs are 50-state legal, the sound isn’t annoyingly loud.

Although, having said that, I set off a car alarm for the first time going to work on Monday morning, just by driving by.

It really has improved the performance of the bike, and it’s noticeably quicker in every gear. But especially third. Third gear is my new favorite gear. You crank the throttle in third, and you’re going somewhere.