Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Sport Touring: A Rendezvous of renewal and unforeseen Pure perfection

Total Distance: 633 miles/ 1018 km
Temperature range: 65F-81F Cloudy/Sunny, 18C/27C
Best mpg: 62 mpg

The Vstrom 650 and Ibex ready to Surf

Day one

Dublin, Ohio to Paw Paw Michigan

The anticipation has begun, it overtakes your senses and awakens you. One anticipates the road, the sights, the smells, the opportunity to launch oneself into the unknown.  On a Friday afternoon my friends SoParider and SoPaguider (SPR & SPG) rolled into Columbus from the East, whom I had not seen in a while. A week prior I opened their phenomenal digital invitation to accompany them for part of their cross-country tour.  Instinctively, there is only one response that will resonate, I'm in. Quotidian obligations must be deferred, the fish, laundry, emails, phone calls, it all can wait and preparations must begin.  It has been sometime since I have gone on a proper tour and never before have I toured with friends, a welcome deviation.

Trip preparations begin long before these physical manisfestations

Has a friend ever told you, hey if I am ever in town  I will look you up and never does. That's not my friends.  On a Saturday morning at around 0825 two motor bikes, three riders depart Dublin, Ohio, destination; Paw Paw, Michigan. SoParider is a master route planner and has meticulously drafted a route void of super slabs and irrelevant distractions such as big rigs, golf courses and mega malls.  Instead we will be surfing the best unknown roads a State has to offer. Direct routes are for  individuals keen on missing the idiosyncrasies that are the essence of an adventure. Indirect routes are for individuals whom welcome rural Main Streets with 25 mph speed limits, mermaid festival parades, grain silos, dilapidated barns, jovial bovines an a 1842 edifice that now serves as the local book repository. 

The weather forecast has toyed with our emotions all week long, predicting rain with variable degrees  of intensity, ready or not kickstand are up and we are rolling along. The skies are unreliable, overcast with Nimbus clouds in the distance ready to intercept our path. SPR & SPG lead the way as I follow three seconds back, the actual route is unknown to me and that is irrelevant at this point, the task at hand is simple: Ride uninhibitedly.  The ever evasive Moto bliss awaits if only one is receptive enough to notice.  The pace is relaxed yet extended, SPR & SPG are proficient Surfers and have earned their bonafide touring credentials, where as I aspire to renew mine.  

No one ever said the crossroads of America are always beautiful 

We managed to reach the halfway point dry, until the clouds once again toy with us and release just enough water to awaken us and quickly dissipate.  In a world fully connected (unnecessarily) and excessive moto-horsepower, SPR & SPG and I are riding modest steeds, unplugged. This is old school navigating, you are never lost rather exploring, one takes unplanned turns that lead to more adventures.  All communication is visual, two steeds, three riders surfing in unison, Beautiful  indeed.   This was my first visit to Michigan (the farthest I have surfed West) and Michigan delivered with its smooth undulating roads.  It is now late afternoon we have been surfing for nearly eight hours, my new two-piece suit (review forthcoming) is performing flawlessly, Ibex is surfing at a constant rate of speed, Rider and machine are now sync.  Except my body is protesting, my throttle hand is numb, my lower back is failing to support me, my  derrière wants to lift off like a rocket and Ibex seems to have  inexplicably gained weight and is becoming unwieldy.  We finally reached our destination safely and serene.

Day 2

Paw Paw Michigan to Columbus, Ohio

From my few decades of existence on this blue Sphere I have now learned that I prefer see you soon as my parting greeting as opposed to good bye, thus parting greetings were exchanged as we headed in opposite directions.  SPR & SPG are heading to the West Coast and I must return East.  This is a more familiar circumstance, one rider one steed, minor trepidation full anticipation of a solo Ride.  There is only one way to overcome it, double down on your existence, make peace with the world mount your steed and Ride.  I have the luxury of zero commitments, zero  responsibilities for the day, so I plan a route that will take me through some back roads and catapult me on to a super slab disguised as OH state road 33.  The weather is exquisite, like a freshly out-of-the oven orange brioche, the wind is consistent, the sun radiates and energizes, the road is demanding yet smooth and Ibex's parallel twin engine throttle response is intoxicating. I know that today I will Surf, and the time is now.  I roll the throttle and proceed to indulge. 

The ritual: pack-ride-unpack repeat

Navigating Unplugged

The view from the Cockpit

I have now covered in excess of 500 miles, the dash registers 76 mph, 5k rpm, my mind decelerates as I glide pass a mammoth lorry and the digitally connected yet absent minded cage operator verifying his irrelevant status in my realm.  I surf to renew this state, the moment where irrelevant complexities are simply that, irrelevant.  If only for this fleeting instance, I will indulge, indulge in Moto-bliss. As I surf I recalled this quote: The Secret of Change Is to Focus All of Your Energy, Not on Fighting the Old, But on Building the New (Socrates?). Thus all of my energy is focused on this micro-occurrence as the catalyst for momentum forward.  In this moment, all that matters are the electrical impulses being transfer to a machine that propels me forward as a metaphor for my existence.  In this realm time perception is suspended, and it is here that I find what I seek.   

Seek and you will find these places that will imprint lasting memories

Post Ride debrief activities

And you may asked what does Pure perfection look like? I'm unable to answer that, I can only narrate what it feels like, Intuitively Effortless.  If you were to be granted a wish with exactly what you asked for, would you know what to do with this Gift?  My name is Fredo, I'm a TarmacSurfer and this is my reality, exponentially beautiful reality.

Ready to Tarmac Surf, intuitively Effortless.

SPR & SPG, with friends like you I gladly welcome the future. Safe travels. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Sport Touring: The Buckeye State Reloaded

I have been now living in Ohio for twenty-nine months, and I am now just starting to find a rhythm. You may say about time, and I agree.  There have been many changes, in the last few months, yet  most importantly what remains intact is the passion for the sport, Sport Touring. Thus, I am looking forward to a new year, new Moto season and a new found soloist lifestyle. Let's Ride.

I started this season by attending the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Motorcycle Hall of Fame Bike Nite. If you have never been to it, I highly recommend it. It is a chance to see a diverse number of old, new, interesting machinery and their jockeys.  It is probably one of the few times that I am amongst the tribe, as you already know I usually ride on my own.  We all must go home sometime and this sometimes feels as a temporary homecoming. 

The day was cloudy and cool with noticeable wind disturbance, not a bad day to enjoy the tarmac. It was the first time taking Ibex out for the season.  A time to awaken muscle memory and rewire neurons.  After almost five months without riding Ibex feels like riding a cow, awkward and far from intuitive.  It will be a few more hundred miles before one reaches that stage where it all feels effortless.  Where riding becomes as easy as walking, when the mind and engine sync and one can ride unobstructed by frivolous thoughts.  I'm a Tarmac Surfer and this is my reality, exponentially beautiful reality. 

An impressive Moto with Bonafide touring credentials

A Vintage Ducati

An oversize Trooper Hog

A unique steed for those with eccentric tendencies

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sport Touring: Welcome to the Buckeye State...

It's Saturday morning and I have been anticipating this day for a while.  The air is cool, and Fall is comfortably settling in, with an ambient temperature of 49F and a slightly disturbing wind.  The Moto is ready,  I am ready and thus it is time to surf.  I have been in Ohio now for nearly 11 long months, and I have been less then enthuse to explore, it lacks a beach and mountains.  However, there is still plenty of tarmac and a few rolling hills with exquisite back roads.  I set out this morning to find a few of these hidden gems.

In order to reach my destination I must surf the super slab and a high speed state road south east of Columbus, and share space with cage operators more concern with checking their status rather than ensure safety for all. That is the world we must experience.  After over an hour of high speed surfing I finally reached my destination state road (SR) 691.  I am the only moto on this road, excellent!  

My bovine suit is keeping me warm, my tactile senses are on hyper mode and I can easily operate my Moto controls, the tachometer sways right and left as I adjust the speed in order to meet road conditions successfully.  The parallel twin's 650cc hum beautifully and begs to be unleashed.  The falling leaves come out to greet me and fly pass me at leisure speed, the road is decorated with deceased raccoons, foxes, and skunks aromas that ensure I remain alert to road conditions.  This is what I have been missing, a band aid fix to a bigger conundrum.  It shall suffice for today. I must exist in the present and in the present time I am surfing, smooth two lane tarmac.

The roads in the area offer a beautiful yet simplistic experience to the moto-surfer punctuated by the questionable  banners on front lawns.  I am here to experience and meditate as I surf at variable rates of speed.  And realize that I must return to my origins as I would be unwelcome here.  I stopped to refuel in Nelsonville Ohio, as an old red 1993 Dodge Ram 150 drives by rusted and bellowing, a relic of times past.  I reached SR 56 and arrived in Athens, Ohio, what appears to be a 1970's  era hold out.  

I ride through town and the Ohio University Campus, it seems like a nice place but time is short and I must now surf north bound.  I easily locate SR 33 north and rolled the throttle, Ibex abides and settled in at a rapid 70mph pace.  The wind speed has increased and I must lean into the wind to avoid being swept off the tarmac.  The sky is blue and sunny, the leaves are vibrant and my mind is clear.  This is the ever evasive motor bliss.  I know that am almost home.  This is my reality, exponentially beautiful reality. 

Ready to Surf with Ibex

A good way to end or start a ride, orange brioche and iced tea

A beautiful relic
A tarmac surfer's welcome sign

A view from the cockpit

Beauty is subjective...Nature is Beautiful

Semper Fidelis

In a time of hyper-activism...

Friday, June 10, 2016

Sport Touring: Test riding the Indian Scout Sixty

On a cloudy stormy day I headed out on the tarmac to meet the Indian Scout Sixty for a test ride.  I had been looking forward to test riding this moto for sometime now, and a little rain was not going to deter me from accomplishing my goal of the day.  I know what you may be thinking,  aren't you a sport tourer? a sport bike type? Well, No.  I am a motorcyclist and by an unofficial  definition one who admires motos.

And that  is how I decided that I must test ride the Scout.  First, I will start by saying that I was impressed by this moto.  It's craftsmanship and image is astonishing.  Beautiful sparkling white paint, adorned by wide fat tires and black-out engine and wheels, complimented by a relaxed geometry that beckons the open road.

As a former Sportster owner I can attest that this moto blows the Sporty off its Iron pedestal!  The look, the power (78 hp), the torque down low, the smooth engine, the liquid cooled factor, it all overwhelmed the aforementioned all American from Milwaukee .  After about 20 miles of tooling around on this bike I can only find four flaws and those are:  the clutch requires a strong pull that is less than ideal for city commuting, what happened to ABS and where is the fuel gauge?? Really?  If I am going cross-country on this beast I'd like to know how much fuel is in the tank.  And lastly, accessories for this moto will leave a serious dent on your wallet.   Minor details, not a deal breaker since once you look at this moto in person all you want to do is ride it!

This is an excellent specimen of cruiser style moto, simplistic, stylish and functional.  One that would make a superb addition to anyone's stable.

Source: www.indianmotorcycle.com

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Sport Touring: The Tarmac Surfer heads West....

The time finally arrived, sixty-six months after taking an unplanned turn and arriving in the D.C area it is time to leave it all behind.  It is time to find new destinations and new tarmac to surf in Ohio and beyond. Yes, I said Ohio.  My exit from the Matrix was rather anti-climatic since I was unable to surf my way out of there and instead I had to ship Ibex via trailer in order to avoid the deluge that was battering the area. 

Furthermore, the arrival of full fledge winter weather means that all surfing operations are now grounded and in hibernation mode.  This season was my least road active season to date, once again time and obligations conspired against me and my moto ambitions.  Does this mean I am bitter about it as a double  IPA? Far from it, I am rather at ease.  Tarmac Surfing is about qualitative experiences.
In an ideal world one would be able to ride for thousands of miles consecutively. I am far from idealist and know that perfection is attainable yet unsustainable. It's all in perspective. 

This season I rode a measly 1709 miles/2750 km. And yet I enjoyed almost every single mile.  Every time I ride is a new opportunity to find moto bliss, whether the ride is one mile or one thousand miles.  It is interesting how most times I shared my moto lifestyle choice with some individuals, they feel compelled to either share unpleasant stories or make statements to dissuade me from my moto. Seldom has anyone asked why do I surf, or how does surfing make me feel?  I doubt many questioned B.B. King as to why he played and loved the Blues, given that some may find them as less then uplifting.  Some things are better left unexplained.

Twenty-sixteen has arrived and I shall continue to Tarmac Surf West until I am home again. This is my reality, exponentially beautiful reality. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sport touring: Sena Prism action camera review

It was bound to happen, sooner or later I'd succumb to curiosity and acquire an action camera.  While I never intend on becoming a Vlogger since I prefer written words and am far from a video editing whiz as a tool it does serve a purpose. 

There have been a few occasions while I've been out riding when I thought I wish I could record the outing, whether it was a winding back road, descending a mountain road or the occassional unfriendly actions of auto operators while commuting.  There are many options in terms of small compact action cameras with GoPro being the most popular.  The Prism is one of the latest offerings from Sena a moto specific accessories manufacturer.  

My main criteria in looking for a camera were: it should have decent video quality, affordability, ease of use and mounting to my helmet. The prism meets of all these and as an added bonus it is incredibly compatible with iMovie.  I ordered the Prism Lite pack, it includes a camera, two surface mounts and a helmet clamp mount, perfect. So far it has performed well.  Unlike the old adage a picture is worth a thousand words, how about a video saves a thousand words. 

The following is a short clip while product testing in real world conditions.  Feel free to add your own soundtrack.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sport Touring: Gear testing on a cloudy day…

On a cloudy damp Thursday I decided that it was time to deviate from my quotidian affairs and indulge.  Instead of diligently heading over to my desk jockey location I decided that an early breakfast at my local mart was in order accompanied by my best pal.  Furthermore, I decided that today was a good day to perform gear testing.

If anyone asked you what is something you need in abundance in your life what would you say?  Today time is something I would like in abundance, time to surf, time to…  And when all else fails one must create it.  I recently acquired a few exquisite pieces of gear that had yet to be tested and what more appropriate time to do this then while a tropical storm batters the East Coast, indeed.  I have previously mention that Sport Touring requires some level of training and one variable one must train for is riding in the rain.  Every time I have gone on a tour it has rained.  The 650 (aka Ibex) is ready to roll, and I am ready to test my new Alpinestars Gore-Tex gloves, Sena’s prism action camera, and Kriega’s US 30 dry bag (reviews forthcoming), along with my moto skills.

The air is chilled, humidity levels have dropped to ideal levels, and Ibex is warm up and ready to roll.  I close my eyes take one, two, three deep breaths make peace with the world pull the clutch drop to first, roll the throttle and am on my way.  Whereas before I lived inside the Matrix, my current residence lies outside of it and today I must venture inside.  As soon as I rolled onto the interstate the road spray and vertical precipitation reduces my visibility to less than 100 meters/328 yards, yet cages maintain or exceed posted speed limits.  The rain continues and so do I.  My field of vision is limited as the rain persists, yet it fails to damper my outlook. Today I will surf.  My gear is performing flawlessly, Ibex is steady, I am dry and my heart rate is calm.  Surf on even if I am the only moto on the road.  An hour later and having covered 22 miles I arrived at my destination drenched on the outside yet serene on the inside.
Some may ask, wouldn’t be [insert own thought] if you just drove or…? I am unable to answer this question.  I simply choose to believe that despite what the hyperactive media reports in the U.S., One exists in a jovial world, therefore, I must Surf it.  In a world full of complexities, I am a Tarmac Surfer and this is my reality, exponentially beautiful reality.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sport Touring: Return of the Tarmac Surfer… indeed

There are few things one can know with absolute certainty, however, I can say with certainty that I am a Tarmac-Surfer and that I am California dreaming.  It has been over a yearly cycle since the last adventure, I know.  Life and confounding variables have conspired against me (e.g. training my successor) until now, when I am finally able to make such pompous claim. 

After over thirteen months of being absent from the Tarmac I have rediscovered the inspiration to once again double down on my existence and Surf again. My steed this time around will be an EX650 Kawasaki Ninja ABS ’15, aka Ibex.  My Moto ambitions remain yet time and life constraints dictate that I must choose between x and y.  I supposed many decisions in life are rather automatic, yet my Moto selection dragged on. The options are bountiful and are parallel to dating, every flavor to satisfy one’s hedonistic inclinations
One day I decided to follow a red light district approach to my search and indulged my aspirations until I found myself lusting after Ducati’s Monster, Triumph’s Tiger XRx, Yamaha’s FZ 07, and BMW’s 650GS, F700GS, F800R and Kawasaki’s Versys ’15. And yet none of these fulfilled the desire nor fully impressed my mind enough to double-down. After a short period of frustration and nebulosity the unexpected happened, my subconscious guided me to a steed I thought had all the incorrect attributes, it turned out it was I whom had the incorrect perspective!

The 650 offered what I had been unable to find up to then, it simply met my criteria.  After waving Au revoir! to my CBR250R ’11 I decided I needed at least 50 hp, ABS and should be able to fit hard cases to my next moto. The 650 fulfilled these criteria and furthermore, it fits me splendidly!  In typical Surfer fashion and without apprehensions I trekked to West Virginia to pick up my steed and ride it home, a beautiful feeling indeed.  The last couple of months have been rather frustrating as I must follow engine break-in procedures for the first 1000 miles and keep the rpms under 6k.  However, my mind has been running at 15k rpm with plenty of Moto-touring ambitions in the planning stages.

My resilient  DNA dictates that I must venture far and wide and my mind shall abide.  How far and wide it is unknown at this time except that the wide, smooth open tarmac is calling and I intent on answering.  I am once again a Tarmac Surfer and this is my reality, exponentially beautiful reality. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sport Touring: In search of a new ride... Yamaha FZ 07 demo

If you are in the market  for a new moto you will encounter the following conundrum: How do you purchase a new shiny moto if the dealer refuses to let one test ride? It has been a few months since my 250 and I parted ways and longer still since I went on a bonafide moto ride. This must be rectified soon.  The other day while reading the latest moto rag I ran across Yamaha's latest offering the naked FZ 07, considering my fruitless search thus far, I thought maybe I should give this a closer look. But first meet the contenders: 


Honda's CBR500R offered the I've been there feeling  with manageable horsepower and classic styling, except dealers won't let go of these at an agreeable amount and the used market is overpriced as well (test rides mostly unavailable).


Ducati's Monster 795 offers beauty and performance at an exorbitant maintenance cost (test rides available).


BMW's F800GT is fast and stylish, a classic sport tourer with a classic insane admission price (test rides most definitely available). 


BMW's G650GS your ticket to adventure riding and beyond if one ever wishes to eat some dirt  (test rides most definitely available).  


Thriumph's Street Tiple R simply astonishing, one may have to contact Thriumph's regional corporate office in order to secure a test ride. 


Yamaha's FZ 07 the new moto on the block.  I had to drive 120 miles roundtrip to a Yahama demo day event in order to test ride the latest hot moto on the scene!

Rider profile:               5'6", 130lbs, 29' inseam/ 171cm,59kg, 74cm inseam
Years riding:                Not enough
Preferred moto style:   Sport touring

At first I was a bit apprehensive about the the test ride, but there is only way to find out if you'd like to spend your hard earned currency on  a moto or not, one must test ride; considering it was a major holiday in my geographic area of residence there weren't many people around to interrupt my cheap thrills and search for moto bliss. 

The Yamaha reps were friendly and after signing the usual "ride at your own risk and don't wreck our machine" waiver I was off on an escorted test ride.  This machine embodies the beauty of pure simplicity. Allow me to elaborate: it is a basic approach to tarmac surfing, a potent engine, adorned by wheels and body work in different shades of appealing colors. The following are missing: fairing, ABS, traction control, throttle by wire, electronic adjustable suspension on the fly, nope, good luck if this is what you wish for. 

What you will find is the equivalent of an old fashion muscle vehicle on two wheels: raw power and brakes for the time when one must actually slow down. At a claimed weight of just under 400 lbs. the bike feels light and easy to maneuver, also the seat is really narrow near the tank and wide at the rear allowing those of adverse stature to reach the ground with both boots flat. The first thing I noticed (maybe due to lack of saddle time) is that the throttle felt sort of twitchy and made me wish for some type of adjustment knob. Although, I suspect this could be remedy after a few hundred miles and allowing muscle memory to take over. The brake lever is adjustable while the throttle is not but is easy to operate.    

The geometry of the bike allows for an upright comfortable seating position. The lack of fairing only becomes evident at around 60mph/96km, anything under 50mph/80 and the wind was hardly disruptive. The speedometer/control box is really low and it takes some effort to look down while riding to verify that one is still riding under legal limits.  It does however display a plethora of ride data, to include a gear indicator and ambient temperature, something really useful should one ever have any doubts as to whether it is really 100F!  The gas tank can be locked and it is covered by composite body work. If you carry a tank bag  as I do you may have to procure a small bolt-on-to  rim type of bag, as a magnetic type is out of the question. 

I am far from a suspension expert, so all I can say is that it felt more than adequate for the demands I may exert on it( as did the brakes). I was really impressed with the wide beefy radial tires! Although, I never pushed the limits of the speedometer, the ride felt comfortable and confidence inspiring on the highway, I never had to use the 5th or 6th gear. 

I did find the rear brake pedal to be a bit lower than I'd like but it was not a major issue. The controls  (blinkers, horn) on the left hand were  a bit small and hard to find/feel with gloves on. The fit and finish is better than average. I've only seen the white and red one, I have not seen the graphite with the cool colored wheels yet. If the finish is anything like the other two it should look awesome.  

Yamaha claims a fuel capacity of 3.7 gallons/14 liters and a 58mpg/93km that should provide an approximate range of about 150miles/242km under sedate riding conditions. This is not bad considering that when touring a break is usually taken at around 100 miles. I have looked around and there are already a few aftermarket accessories available to include hard cases that would make this moto a nice option for sport touring. 

Overall I was impressed with Yamaha's offering, critics will fault the lack of abs, (insert own) and other items.  However, the aggregate of machine and the surprisingly moderate asking price make for a notable contender and a fun moto. Only patience and more saddle demo time will determine what my next steed will be. Enjoy the Ride.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sport touring sabbatical...

A few weeks ago I rode the CBR250R fifty miles due west on I66 towards Virginia, at the end of this ride I dismounted, shut it off and handed the keys to a new owner. This act concluded our endeavors.
I am now moto less and evaluating the next odyssey. Some may ask what happened? Wasn't the 250 a half decent steed? What about all of the experiences, tours, endless miles? All valid inquiries. 

One day I found myself browsing catalogs and constantly thinking about upgrades for the CBR, wishing and thinking about what I thought it should be and enjoying less what it actually is.  I was also less inspired to venture out on the tarmac and doubling down on my existence. And that's how I knew a new moto phase was upon us. As the old adage goes "change is good" and so I will be changing motos, I even changed my blog handle.

I am unsure as to when I will return to the tarmac.  There are still plenty of moto aspirations to be fulfilled, all in due time. In the meantime I will stroll down the virtual waxy floors of moto dealerships evaluating their offerings and when my inspiration returns so will I to the open tarmac. This is my reality exponentially beautiful reality. 

Be well, be jovial. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sport Touring: Deciphering the road on a CBR250R… One mile at time

It’s dark and gloomy, the rain is steady and it quickly sodden the ground. The temperature hovers around 48F, a warm day for a late December afternoon in the North East. It’s a welcome change that I am observing this day unfold from the comfort of my subterranean quarters, rather than on the road while touring on my 250. I’m warm, dry, comfortably quaffing an Abbey Ale and contemplating where the road may lead next.

I’ve been off the saddle for a couple of months, old winter has arrived along with new responsibilities that conspire against my moto lifestyle, I miss surfing, and I miss my moto. Thus far, I have experienced three successful riding seasons, some would advise me to quit now and cash in my good luck and sit in the safety of my living room. Others may suggest I need a real bike and should acquire a new steed maybe a BMW F800GT, BMW F650GS or a Triumph Street Triple (all stunning motos!).

After >9500 miles on the 250, I still relish the prospect of surfing the open road. The open road where one may find or lose oneself.  My experiences on the road cover a wide spectrum of emotions, sights and actions. These experiences even countered and affected my common outlook and increased my optimism.  During my travels I encountered something unexpected, random kindness.  I seldom worry now while touring, I know that I will find my destination, my moto will be there in the morning, my gear will work as intended and the weather will abate. I should only concern myself with riding to the best of my ability and enjoying the ride.

I have considered forfeiting my moto lifestyle except at the end of the day surfing is what I do best and the 250 is a semi-capable steed, thus I declined procuring any of the aforementioned steeds, at least for now. After a few thousand miles of deciphering the road I now know that my moto is my transporter and it is not the object that I seek rather the realm: a realm that evokes intensity and a lucid perception of reality, exponentially beautiful reality.

And you may ask, what is it like to be out on the road for days by yourself? I am unable to answer this question, but perhaps this image may offer an insight. Indeed, we live in a beautiful world.

Friday, September 13, 2013

CBR250R Sport-touring… Retrospectively

It was back on 2011 July 30th when I took delivery of my CBR250R (aka Scully). Over two years later, I am still here I am still surfing. Thus, I thought it would be appropriate to pause and take a moment to ponder and enjoy the moment. When I set out to start blogging I was apprehensive about writing, about sharing with all who wish to read my perspectives on touring and related topics. And yet I set out to write with only one goal: to share my adventures in a poignant, unapologetic manner.

Sport touring is a questionable endeavor, one full with many perils yet immensely rewarding. As I have mentioned on previous posts, every trip is filled with common uncertainty, elusive perfection. It is this axiom that pervades my mind constantly, the knowledge that any trip at any given time can be a one-way tour. 

I would like to thank my family (and my four legged dependents) for simply being there and supporting my choice and freedom to surf. I would like to thank you the unknown follower for coming along for The Ride. My name is Fredo, I am a Tarmac surfer is what I do best, it is what inspires me, and this is my reality exponentially beautiful reality.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sport Touring: AGV leather suit and touring set up review*

I have been riding the 250 for over two years and over 8300 miles and continuously tinkering with my gear and set up. These are my two cents on the topic.

*Disclaimer: I am not an expert on the subject matter, simply a moto enthusiast.

AGV  Dragon leather jacket and Willow perforated pants
Miles < 500

I opted for this suit on my last trip and it worked really well. The jacket is made of thick  heavy cowhide that feels nice to the touch and reassuring should one happen to slide on the tarmac. The red stripping is a nice touch. It has CE rated armor on the shoulders, and elbows and a regular thin pad on the back. It is not perforated instead it has two zippers in the front and two in the back that provide minimal airflow.

Photo credit by the Tripod

It can get really hot in this thing, at around 85F and humid it was really uncomfortable at a stand still, once moving it was tolerable. 

The fit (at least for me) is just right, at 5’ 6”, 130lbs. I normally wear a size 36 Short coat, but base on AGV’s sizing I ordered a size U.S. 40 and fits nicely.  The jacket comes with a removable thin vest for cooler weather, but I think I will wear my Gore wind stopper fleece under it for extra warmth when needed.  The fit around the neck and shoulder is nice and snug, the armor sits comfortably on the shoulders, forearms and elbows. The only thing that I found may be a problem for some is the forearm fit, they are really narrow and fit snug even for me, maybe is supposed to be this way by design to hold the armor in place during a slide. Either way is not physically uncomfortable but it hot weather the forearms will get really sweaty and stick to the liner. This is not deal breaker for me, since the rest of the jacket fits and is well made for the price.

The inside of the jacket has one small zippered pocket big enough for a cell phone and a wallet, the outside has an additional two pockets. Overall the jacket feels and fits nicely, has waist zippers so it can be connected to other agv products and for the price it is a really nice and practical deal.

The pants also feel heavy but nice to the touch, the leather is thick and it has CE armor on the knee and shin areas, some padding on the seat, and stretchable fabric behind the knees and crotch area for airflow and comfort.  It also comes with removable pucks attached via Velcro for a possible track session.  Sizing is true to size, at 5’ 6” 30 inseam, I ordered a size 30 and it fit just right.  It fits snug around the waist, but won’t make you feel like a sausage (assuming a one has somewhat slim waist). It comes standard with a zipper, a waist strap, and two small front zippered pockets,  basic but functional design.

The pants feel awkward when standing but once on the bike they fall in place and fit really snug and mostly comfortable.  The only thing I have found so far to be an issue and this may have to do with breaking them in is that the knee pads tend to compress the kneecaps and add pressure after extended periods or riding leading to discomfort.  The calf area fits really snug and it closes via a zipper, I tuck mine in my boots for added safety and comfort. I am not sure if these can be worn over boots.

The pants and jackets can be zip together but I have not worn them attached yet. After nearly five hundred miles mostly worn on the open road I’d give this set up a good rating. I can’t comment on durability yet, but so far craftsmanship is acceptable for the price point.  The leather is not waterproof so if you plan on wearing these on extended trips a rain suit is a must.

250R touring set up

I have had this set up for the entire time I’ve own my bike and had made only slight adjustments.  The saddlebags and tank bag are First Gear Silverstone. They have held up to long miles on the road under high heat and lots of rain. (they are not waterproof). I have used large plastic bags for keeping items dry in the saddlebags but will be switching to 35-liter dry bags as carry on in the near future. The bags did come with rain covers, but I think they are useless. I only use the rain cover for the tank bag. I like to use a minimalist approach to gear when traveling and tend to think that if it does not fit in these bags (excluding my sleeping bag) than I can do without it.

If you look closely you can see the cable running from under the seat to the the tank bag and the gps. On the right side you can see the water reservoir. I use Rok straps to attach the saddle bags to the bike along with DYI saddle bag supports that consist of two 24" aluminum bars attached to passenger pegs via hose clamps. Simple and practical. The only thing missing in this shot is the new yellow dry bag.

I also like to avoid strapping multiple items that flap in the air and can be lost, so lately I acquired a 65 liter compressible dry bag for my sleeping and cold weather gear that tend to be bulky. I also installed a RAM mount to hold my gps, it is a car version a bit outdated but it gets the job done. I also carry an assortment of maps as my primary navigation tools. I used the battery tender power cable to power electronics such as the gps, phone charger or other items. It works well except I can only power one item at a time, I may install a power distributor in the future to handle multiple items simultaneously. When you are out on the road for days it is a welcome luxury to be able to power your phone and gps. 

The challenge is converting this mess into...

Something that looks like an organized Moto traveler

For hydration needs I switched to a Platypus water reservoir (bpa free), it is easier to clean and it won’t make the water taste foul, like other brands. I tend to fill it with one third water and the rest with ice and place it in one of the saddle bags, this allows for neutral tasting, cold water for a few hours. I used to place it in my tank bag, but it takes a lot of space, it could leak and ruing my electronics, and having in it the back forces me to stop for breaks to drink and stretch. 

Depending on my destination I may carry all or a combination of the following: chain lube, three pairs of gloves (heated, perforated, and non heated water proof), paper maps, one person tent, thermarest sleeping pad, 0 degree sleeping bag, gps, phone charger, coins for tolls roads, warm/windproof fleece, pants, shirts and under garments made of breathable materials (not cotton). I also carry spare keys, two disc locks, head lamp, camera w/tripod, ear plugs, sneakers, a travel size bike cover and always a slime tire repair kit with a pump under the seat.

Feel free to comment and let me know if you have suggestions or questions about the set up. Enjoy the Ride.