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: 


www.honda.com

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).



www.ducati.com

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

www.autorevolution.com

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

www.asphaltandrubber.com

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


www.rideapart.com

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


www.yamaha.com

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. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sport Touring: Day tripping in Pennsylvania… double down on 423W and the Bovine suit


Mileage: 410 miles/ 659 km
Temperature: 60F-85F  humid/ 18C-30C
Average mpg: 71.5

Ocean surfers scrutinize the weather forecast, wind and tide patterns before paddling out and waiting for the perfect set.  As a Tarmac Surfer I follow the weather, scrutinize roads and seek out a set of routes, different environments similar goals. I’ve been on the road for nearly three hours now surfing northeast on PA road 30. The sky is gray, overcast, it’s around 80F, humid, and there are 18-wheeled sentinels everywhere. This was supposed to be a decent road, what happened?  I observe oncoming traffic and their windshield wipers are swaying back and forth like a crowd at a concert listening to a 90’s rock ballad. I’m a little concern.

I left my waterproof suit at home and opted for something different, too late now for regrets, it’s time to let the 250R facilitate surfing and simply let it roll. My destination for this trip is a small town in NE Pennsylvania, Jim Thorpe. I’ve been here once before and thought I should return on my moto, today is that day. After a few thousand miles of sport touring I have learned to never expect ideal weather, rather simply strive for a tranquil state of mind. I only need to cover two hundred miles, except I have a feeling given my current route; I am really going to earn these two hundred miles.

So far I’ve slugged my way through city traffic, found myself surrounded by big rigs under the threat of rain in what feels like a sauna, and now a bright sign informs me to expect delays, really? It’s time to soothe the mind, aggravation would be futile. What surround me are merely everyday irrelevant complexities, right now is just Scully and I, and as Jack Johnson would sing, it’s better when we are together. And so I pushed on.  

It’s around 1330 now, am four miles away from my destination. I’ve just filled up on petrol and am ready to roll. As I as raised my gaze and got ready to roll I spotted an elder gentleman wearing a distinct hat, he is a Leatherneck from a previous era. His facial expression denotes life experiences that are beyond my years and wisdom, he stands tall and proud.  He looks at me as I break and paused, pulled the clutch, stood still on my moto and saluted him with my right hand, and carried on. Sometimes one must pay homage, Semper Fidelis.

 
It took me longer than expected to get there, then again why rush.



Finally, I’ve arrived at my destination. I am tired, sweaty, sleepy but dry.  The town is just as I remembered it, quaint and quiet, excellent. I checked in at my home for the evening and set about to explore on foot.

Another stay at a Historic place, the experience this time was a lot different.

After a few hours of riding in the heat in a leather suit, I was ready for a break, a snack and cooling off.  Freshly brew tea with freshly baked butter soft scones in a historic setting sounded like a good idea, as a bonus it was delicious.

This is a view of the rest of the dining area, in era appropriate colors.

This was home for the evening, it exceeded my expectations.

Dinner on the other hand, offer little to blog about. I may need to send a couple of suggestions to the chef.

Last time I visited this placed they allowed us to bring our canine dependent on board. 



 
A view of the train station, one can board the train for a fee and take a short ride along the river. My pup really enjoyed it on the last visit.  


I went for a stroll on the main square.

And along a few of the side streets. 


 The architecture style of the period is interesting and somewhat visually appealing. 

A different view of the fully "functional" main square clock, as I found out early the next morning. Who needs a wake up call from the front desk when you have this!

Considering my less than adventurous first half of this trip, I needed to find a different set of routes to lead me home. I pondered as to what routes to follow as I sat on the second floor balcony enjoying a Pale Ale watching the rain fall. Some riders are gamblers I am a tactician.  The goal is simple: ride safe and enjoy the ride.  It’s time to double down! Route PA 423W offers an alternative to yesterday’s experience, as I evaluated the route on a one-dimensional map, I had a few doubts in the end I let it roll.

And this is what  greeted me somewhere along  my route.

In my realm smooth tarmac, mountain passes, idyllic towns, green pastures and magnificent sweeping turns and/or twisties are beyond appealing, they are indicative of awakening. State roads such PA 423W can offer some combination of the aforementioned to those willing to surf them. It is time to disconnect, social media is irrelevant and smart phones are merely a distraction. I doubt either one of these tools can direct you to the next farmers’ fruit and vegetable stand along this road or the town’s residents favorite dinner. For this type of information one just might have to ride there. I’m in. 


The first class view from my cockpit, and unlike on an airline the air is cleaner, the snacks are fresh off the farmers' land and one is free to roam.

  It’s time to surf, the price of admission: complete unselfconsciousness, ride well or kiss the tarmac. The order of the day calls for variable rates of speed punctuated by smooth climbs and long sweeping turns.  This is a two-lane road that meanders up and down small hills, it glides right and left with a subtle yet intoxicating rhythm. For the next eighty-five miles, I surfed uninhibited, unconcerned  over some sweet tarmac, as  sweet as  freshly made vanilla ice cream.  I’ll take a double scoop, thank you very much.

During my time on the road I only experienced a light drizzle, my two-piece bovine suit performed as expected (a gear and touring set up review is forthcoming) and PA 423W delivered! The planning and persistence pays off and I managed to ride all 410 miles on something other than a super slab, safely. That’s reality exponentially beautiful reality.

A Tarmac Surfer's self portrait. Enjoy the Ride. 






















Monday, August 26, 2013

Sport Touring: West Virginia is for Sport-tourers… Ride what you own, Ride where you are.

Mileage: 340 miles/  547 km
Temperature: 59F +/ 15C +
Highest grade: 10 %
Average mpg: 65 mpg

I believe a moto enthusiast from the far South once said: “One is never lost, rather, one is following a path unseen by others” (FC).  I’ve mentioned in previous posts how the West Coast is an awesome place to ride, except I had failed to mentioned and acknowledge how the East Coast can be an awesome place to ride… as well. A drastic change of opinion you may say, indeed.


It’s Friday around 20:00, I’ve been couch surfing for a couple of days trying to decide where to go on a ride. I pondered and pondered and then I set my sights on Seneca Rocks, WV. (Cued soundtrack sit back grab a Pale Ale and enjoy the ride).  There is a process to trip planning sort of habitual, ponder, decide, plan and execute. Except, this time I decided to deviate from the habitual by inviting any willing 250R rider from the area to join the ride.  Twenty-four hours later Zirgs (from the cbr250r.net forum) answered the call and decided to join and set out to tarmac surf. Excellent. I had not expected anyone to respond considering it was on such short notice and high mileage for a day trip.

Fast forward to Sunday at 0745, Haymarket VA. after a brief introduction we are ready to Surf.  The temperature is hovering around 59F, cool with a slight wind, clear skies and low humidity, excellent.  The first 65 miles entailed surfing Interstate 66, a super slab, yes, but one almost void of big rigs. The next 100 miles is what I seek.  We turned southbound I 81 for a couple of miles until a sign welcomed and directed us towards State Road 55. And this is where the idyllic Surfing begins.

Moto enthusiasts will travel near and afar, cross-country or the world in order to find beautiful roads.  I’ve learned a few things during my existence, thus I now know that sometimes it all depends on perspective and outlook. What I seek transcends visual stimulation and it may also be found nearby if one knows where to search.  The air is cool and it brings a chill that rattles one's core, there is a slight hint of fog in the distance,  the tarmac is smooth and it allows the 250R to glide almost effortlessly with only minimal rider input.

The road meanders through green pastures, the smells awaken your senses, the variable speed keeps the rider alert, and the steep climbs and descends offer potential reality checks should one decided to daydream.  This is an environment void of urban monolithic symbols and in their place are new, old, and sometimes dilapidated barns.  To the uninitiated a barn is a simple structure, but if you look closely you will find that simplicity can be beautiful, indeed.

Finally, after a few hours on the road we reached our destination. We arrived, we admired, and we turned back and headed home. And you may ask, that’s it?  Why go there to simply turn around? I can only speak for myself, and as one famous outdoorsman once said “ The Mountains are calling and I must go” (J. Muir) and I concur.  Unlike, a mythical omnipotent being, The Mountains exist, that is reality, exponentially beautiful reality.

170 miles later...

It's time to enjoy the view. 

Same machine, two different perspectives. 

It is possible to hike to the top.



The Visitor Center was impressive.

We even found a gravel road to explore.

Unfortunately, it led  on to private property and we had to stop, so much for ADV riding. The 250R has proven to be highway capable and now dirt road capable. 


After a long day on the saddle it was time to sit back and enjoy an Ale. 


Safe travels Zirgs, and thanks for coming out to tarmac surf.