Sunday, August 28, 2011

Shaken-n-Douse

Between Earthquakes and Hurricanes on the East Coast, it would make one think that it’s time to move out of town, well almost. Since that is not a real option right now, let’s move on to the next best option: go on a Moto-tour. I have clung onto this idea for quite a few years now, and now it seems like it may actually happen. In the past ten years something always seemed to get in the way, whether it was worthless jobs, a move, school, lack of funds and a bike!

But this time the gear has been gathered and tested (sort of), the bike is almost tune up, training miles logged, now is time to simply step up to the gate roll the throttle and Ride.


Things I’d be interesting in checking out along the way: Blues bars, local Micro Breweries (for a post ride refreshment) Good food, and of course the twisties. Got any suggestions? Le’ts hear about it.

One rider, one Motorbike plus minus 17 days to surf the undulating Tarmac, from base camp in D.C. out west and back. There is no itinerary, no must do or see, simply ride. Ride. Ride to counter the quotidian mental fog and stagnation. Because Riding may assert that “ This life is more than ordinary….This life is more than just a read thru” (RHCP).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Going nowhere fast


That was the end result of yesterday beach landing attempt. Allow me to elaborate. I spent the week preparing my gear and daydreaming about a short -+ 300mile/480km day trip to the Atlantic (Rebohoth Beach, DE).


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Finally, Saturday arrived and Scully and I were ready to ride the tarmac. We set out at around 8:30am feeling rested and excited. The forecast called for a cloudy day with a 40 % chance of rain around 4pm. And here is where the ride goes downhill, sort of. As soon as we reached the Bay Bridge near Annapolis, MD. traffic was crawling so slow it made me think of that scene in Office Space where the older fellow with a walker is going faster than the cars.

Anyway, after paying my $2.50 for the privilege of riding an elevated highway at a blazing 10mph we reached the other side. Finally, after endless miles with cages around me, I decided to pull over near Hillsboro MD. for a roadside snack, hoping traffic would improve, sadly it did not. I turned around, and headed home.





By now is close to 1pm, the sky is looking mighty grey and rather constipated. I know that no matter how fast I ride, today I am the “statue” and the Sky is the “bird”. It’s shower time! The clouds opened up with such explosiveness it was pointless to continue. I pulled over onto the side of the highway. I only have my riding jacket on, too late to try to put on my riding pants. This is a serious summer shower; cars and semis are rolling by and splashing Scully. Not much I could do but watch and stay off the shoulder myself. After awhile the rain let up and I hopped back on the saddle, my first time riding in the rain, on the highway! Nice planning. I finally made it home 150 miles/240km short of my goal, saturated but safe.

This was supposed to be a training run in preparation for an upcoming tour, and it served its purpose. Main lesson: always bring all your rain gear, and spring for waterproof gloves! Amazingly, the bike handled the slick road rather well. Sure I had to slow down and take it easy but the bike felt sure-footed and stable. After 440miles/704km I am still adjusting to the new riding position. Like any aspiring endurance athlete, I must train, before my body can withstand hundreds of miles on the saddle.

There are a few motor biking axioms. First, when your start riding your friends will tell you that riding motorbikes is dangerous, valid point. Second, from the rider’s perspective, riders will tell you that riding is Fun. And, yes there are close calls, rainy days, and aching, sore muscles at the end of a long ride. So why do we get up the next day so anxious to reach our next destination and called it fun? This, I’m unable to explain; you will have to go out and ride and try it for yourself.

Monday, August 1, 2011

It's here!



I finally picked up my bike on 7/30. Wow what a ride, I can't wait to tour on it! I have not given a name yet, but she sure is sexy!
First ride.
I finally got my CBR after a two week wait!  
I bought it from a dealer from WV (I live in MD) so I had a long nice ride back (231 miles to be exact).


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Rider profile: 5' 5" 130lbs 29 inseam. Previous riding experience: 00' 883 Sportster
 logged 6500 miles ten years ago. And this year I rode an 07' 883 sportster for 1300 miles before downsizing to my 250.

When I first sat on it I was a little worry that it would be a tad too high because is about half inch too high with my riding boots on, but after awhile, depending on surface I can just flat foot. My first impression was that this bike was so much lighter (200
 pounds lighter) than my old bike, nice. Right from the start I had to travel through some twisties (Clarksburg WV-DC via Road 50). The bike handled it well.

The riding position is not aggresive but I still found myself putting too much weight on my wrists something that can be corrected by adjusting body lean position. The fairing provided excellent coverage up to 55 mph, that's the fastest I have gone so far. I felt some wind on my lower body which was enough to cool off but not so much that it would be annoying. The wind screen deflected the wind off my chest and sent some up to my chin up, but it was not a problem. I wear a scorpion exo 1000 helmet and it's pretty quiet so combined with the stock windscreen, I did not hear too much wind noise or experienced unwanted buffering.

The ride involved riding through the hills of West Virginia up to 3000 feet in elevation with steep decends of 9 % grade! In some areas I had to crawl at 20-15 mph because of sharp turns and gravel on the road. The engine and transmission handled the shifting great, and the brakes were right on. Traction 
felt fine, as I was going the recommended speed for the terrain and did not lean the bike that much. The engine had more than enough power to climb the hills and never really had to downshift too far down to maintain momentun. I did experience some vibration but only when I had the rpm too low for the gearing. The sweet spot appears to hover around 5500rpm, that's where the bike felt really smooth and had power on tap if I needed it. I never exceeded 6500rpm, not only because is new but because of riding style (non-aggresive) I prefer to keep the rpm in the midrange.


On the straight away the bike cruised smooth, and had enough power to accelerate 
whenever I had a cage on my tail and needed to open up some space between us. The suspension offers enough rebound and compression that I seldom felt any discomfort while going through some narly cracks and bumps. It does feel at bit stiff at times depending on how big the bumps are, but currently I have it at factory settings and I'm a lighweight so there was some air time on the saddle but nothing of concern.

The instruments are well laid out and after some miles on the saddle it all becomes intuitive, after 200 miles I begun to feel more comfortable on the bike and the ride really felt more enjoyable.

Pros:

  • the saddle is surprisingly comfortable for looking and feeling so firm
  • MPG!, 6 speeds
  • the liquid cooling kept the temperature in check through some city riding with outside temperature around 100F
  • Nice bright headlight at nite
Cons (based on personal preference)
  • brake and clutch levers feel really soft, but this is a plus for noobs since it would take conscious effort to smash down on them and locking your wheels.
  • Throttle it felt like it would just spin around the bar, but I got used to it and is not really a problem
Finally I really dig the locking gas tank cap (awesome) and fuel gauge. No more guessing when to fuel up. I love this bike and am looking forward to many fun miles. I'd definitely recommended it to anyone who is looking for a fun, nimble, affordable and reliable bike. I understand there are bigger better, etc, bikes but this one seems to do everything reasonably well for my riding style.