Building a Motorcycle Tool Kit: Road Trip Preparation

STriumph Scrambler Shawnee Forest Road MotoADVRpring is finally in the air in these parts and I’ve already started to do a bit of off-roading locally and down at Shawnee State Forest. Some of my posts on Instagram have received several questions about what tools I keep on the bike for local and long trips, so I figured I’d compile a list and offer a few comments about why I have this or that.

 

The Daily Grind

Since I commute to work most days, I have to have some place to stash my lunch. In virtually every photo of the Rosie the Scrambler, and even the Speedmaster, you’ve probably noticed my Saddlemen tail bag. At 21 liters, the tail bag has enough room for my dress clothes, lunch box, and space for thermals or extra gloves if I need them. Along with the daily necessities, in the side pockets I typically keep the following items:

  • Micro-fiber towel
  • A spritz bottle of S100 special surfaces cleaner
  • Spanner for Hagon rear shocks
  • 6mm hex key (came with the bike)
  • Side stand pucks

Triumph Scrambler Tailbag Took Kit MotoADVRThe S100 and towel are obviously to clean the bug guts off my visor, and occasionally water spots off the mirrors and speedo (I’m obsessive-compulsive about that…). I don’t adjust the shocks a whole lot, but if I’m riding anywhere sporty I like to bump them up a notch, so it’s just easier to have the spanner on hand. Same goes for the Hex Key, most of the important bits on a Triumph can be removed with a hex key (like the seat). Anyone who’s ridden off-road with me will also attest to the fact I have a clown car full of side-stand pucks. I’ve collected them over several years at motorcycle events and I’ve just never taken them out of that pocket. In my riding jacket I also carry a set of ear plugs in a pill bottle key chain, and typically a tire pressure gauge in a waterproof pocket.

 

The Tool Kit

Leather Motorcycle Tool Roll MotoADVRFor long trips, or virtually any time I’m riding off-road, I load up a tool kit to handle a flat tire or other random failure that I might encounter. There are a number of tool kit recommendations out there; the Iron Butt Association (IBA), used to have a really lengthy recommended list, and I’m sure I’ve seen an even more in depth list on ADVrider.com at some point. I arrived at this list after identifying all of tools that I use when performing the 6,000 mile interval services on the bike, along with any tools I need to fix a flat tire in a jam.

Leather Motorcycle Tool Roll Layout MotoADVRThe main tool list:

  • Leather tool roll
  • Tire irons/spoons x2
  • Rim protectors
  • Valve core tool
  • Tube patch kit
  • 12 volt air compressor
  • 3/8” drive ratchet
  • 1/2” drive ratchet
  • Channel locks
  • Adjustable wrench (up to 1”)
  • Combination box wrenches (8, 10, & 12 mm)
  • Wire cutters
  • Combination screw driver
  • Metric hex key set (1.5-6 mm)
  • 3/8″ drive hex key sockets (5, 6, & 8 mm)
  • 3/8” drive sockets (8, 10, 12, 19 mm, & ½”)
  • 3/8” drive deep well sockets (10, 12, 14, & 18 mm)
  • 3/8” drive extension bar
  • 1/2” drive sockets (15/16”)
  • 3/8” to 1/2” drive adapter
  • “Midget” combination wrenches set (4-11 mm)
  • Torx sockets (T27 & T30)

 

Triumph Scrambler tool kit prep MotoADVRI will admit that this is actually a pretty Spartan list. There are some small redundancies with various sockets, but that’s mostly because you cannot reach certain bolts on the bike with or without an extension bar, at which point the deep well sockets are needed. I will typically throw in a bag of zip ties, electrical tape, a flashlight, my Leatherman multi-tool, and potentially spare inner tubes depending on how long the trip will beBattery Tender 12V SAE Adapter MotoADVR (like the Dragon Raid). On the same note, I will also switch out the daily tail bag for my Saddlemen BR3400 tail bag for the long trips; I also expect to see my new Biltwell EXFIL-80 in action later this year. I also use a Battery Tender 12V adapter in my tank bag that plugs into my SAE pig tail. The 12V adapter powers my Garmin GPS, charges my cell phone, or will run the air compressor if needed.

This list also has some deficiencies that I need to remedy in the near future, namely a more convenient bag; the leather tool roll is heavy and a bit old-school. It’s also a good idea to bring along a few extra fuses, a length of automotive wire (especially if you have an 80’s UJM…), spare headlight bulb(s), an oil filter wrench (strap or chain), and a pair of vice-grips.

Leather Motorcycle Tool Roll with Tools MotoADVRAs I mentioned to a buddy of mine in conversation recently, you can easily go nuts with a tool kit and prepare for every apocalyptic calamity imaginable. I’ve heard guys say they bring along spare brake and clutch levers, spare clutch cables, spare shift levers, along with the rest of the kitchen sink. That said, when you’re east of the Mississippi, access to a phone is typically only a few miles away, or in my case, I usually only need to limp the bike five to 10 miles down a dirt road to get close enough to civilization so I can flag down a passing vehicle. On the other hand, if you’re trekking up the Dalton Highway, yeah, you need to be prepared to repair a clutch basket right then and there.

Like I said, this is not the most comprehensive list, so what else is in your tool kit?

Shawnee State Forest Road 2 MotoADVR

Posted in Gear and Safety, Motorcycle Maintenance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Cold Weather Motorcycle Riding: 13 Tips to Keep You Warm

triumph-scrambler-7-degrees-motoadvrDespite the fact that spring is technically around the corner, it snowed this week, and it’s not at all unheard of for Dayton to experience snow in April. That said, this topic has come up quite a bit in the past week; obviously quite a few guys in my circle of riding friends are chomping at the bit to get back out on that road. “Winter Riding” tips may be viewed as a little “late” considering that we’re on the verge of spring, but cold spring mornings apply to this theory just that same as winter afternoons.

Prepping the Rider

First off, you can absolutely run out and buy top of the line Klim gear or an Aerostich Roadcrafter. While I don’t have any of that stuff, I’m sure their street credit is likely founded; my method is more about making small purchases and combining them with your existing gear to extend your riding season, or worst case, get you out of a jam on short notice.

1. Layer up

Base layers are all the rage now from a lot of the moto-gear manufacturers.MotoADVR_RainierLiner3 I admit, I have invested in a dual material Triumph thermal, but for the longest time I’ve used polypropylene and/or micro-fiber long-johns under my riding jacket and pants. Obviously you need to make tactical decisions with your thermal layers; you need to keep the heat in, but also have the mobility to operate the motorcycle. Under 40°F I usually throw on a thermal layer between my jacket and T-shirt; under 32°F I usually go with a long sleeved shirt in lieu of the T-shirt; and under 25°F I start getting into apocalypse mode, which usually involves at least a sweatshirt.

2. Use your rain suit

Some of you are probably thinking, “I thought he said winter weather?” Cutting the wind is your number one priority, fortunately the wonderful water resistant qualities of your rain suit also work to block the wind. Nelson Rigg Rain Suit MotoADVRUsing a rain suit as a winter garment even gives you options, you can layer up with thermals under your motorcycle gear, and if you still get cold you can put your rain gear on over it. On the other hand, you can use your rain gear as an additional layer under your motorcycle gear. I personally prefer the latter because I hate the sound of my rain jacket fluttering in the wind (on top of the extra wind resistance), but folks with traditional textile gear may also prefer this method as mesh jackets are all but useless in winter.

3. Get a good set of Gore-Tex boots

SIDI Canyon Boots MotoADVRIf you have perused “The Gear” section of Moto Adventurer, you may have seen some of these items before. I have recently acquired a set of SIDI Canyon Boots; ultimately I bought these boots because I needed a good waterproof Adventure/Touring boot, however, considering their Gore-Tex waterproof nature, they also double as excellent cold weather boots. Needless to say, you don’t necessarily need “Adventure” boots, but a good set of waterproof boots will help you cut the cold air.

4. Wear a solid set rain gloves, and don’t forget the squeegee!

Are you detecting a theme here? Same story, winter weight gloves, and definitively waterproof.Winter Gloves Squeegee MotoADVR I have a cheap set of rain gloves I picked up at a local dealer a couple years ago; those go a long way when it’s above 40°F, but when things get close to freezing, you’re going to need some dedicated winter gloves, maybe even electric, but more on that in a minute. The other important piece here is the squeegee. Yes, I’m all about the squeegee; it’s super convenient in the rain, however the winter piece here is fog. On more than one occasion I have left the house at around 35°F and foggy. As I rode out of the humidity of the river valley, the temperature actually dropped and the fog literally froze to my face shield, which is where the squeegee comes in. Just be prepared.

5. Install a “Pinlock” or dual lens visor

Gmax 54S Helmet Dual Lens MotoADVRSegueing from my fog and squeegee comment, fog on the inside of the visor is another problem you need to be prepared for. When it’s 40°F, cracking the visor for additional airflow to clear the fog isn’t all that bad. However, once it’s sub-freezing, the frozen air stings pretty bad in your eyes; at those temperatures,  I don’t recommend cracking the shield above 10 MPH if you can avoid it. I had a Dual Lens visor for my GMax helmet that was 99.9% fog-proof, rain or cold weather. At some point here soon, I will be getting a Pinlock visor and insert for my new Scorpion EXO-AT950 helmet for all the same reasons.

6. Wear a neck gaiter or balaclava

From about 55°F and down, I wear my neck gaiter religiously (some readers probably already do this as well). Schampa Balaclava MotoADVRAs I started accumulating better gear and my cold weather riding tolerance increased, I also picked up a motorcycle specific balaclava. The neck gaiter is great, but I actually found that the skin under the helmet vents started to sting from the little bit of air that squeezed through. The Schampa “Pharoh” facemask is constructed with two materials, a comfort thermal layer over your head that is also covered by the helmet, and a wind breaking chin curtain to block the brisk air below the chin bar. It takes a little getting used to, but the full face coverage also helps keep the visor fogging down.

7. Wear Latex gloves in a pinch

A few weeks back I published “How cold is too cold to ride?” That day was pretty nuts, but it was one of a short list of days I actually put on a set of latex gloves before putting on my normal winter riding gloves. The latex helps lock in some of the body heat while not sacrificing a whole lot of flexibility and “feel”. This “trick” isn’t going to buy you a substantial amount of additional comfort, but when it’s 7°F outside, every bit counts.

8. When all else fails, buy heated gear

In my case, the extra money I’ve saved by not buying a ‘Stitch, I’ve invested in heated gear.Tour Master Synergy 2.0 Heated Gloves MotoADVR I will even go as far as to say that heated gear was an arm and a leg just a few years ago, but these days heated gloves are only a few dollars more than a lot of standard winter gloves currently for sale. I currently have a set of Tour Master Synergy 2.0 Heated Gloves along with a Tour Master heated vest. I admit, I have recently resorted to using the heated vest, and I stand by my previous opinion, the lack of heated sleeves makes no sense at all. I expect I will be upgrading to the heated jacket liner as soon as possible. For “cold blooded” folks, you can also invest in heated pants, and even resort to heated socks and boot insoles if you so choose.

9. Chap stick… seriously

I hate Chap Stick, with a passion. It’s all waxy and gross; can’t stand it. This one isn’t necessarily about staying warm, however, after a long morning in frigid temperatures, I know I’m desperate to do something about chapped lips. It’s gross, and a goofy topic to be discussed among “men”, but find some at a service station, and put it in your (exterior) winter jacket pocket; you can thank me later.

Preparing the Bike

Without going into a long spiel about the concerns of corrosion, T-CLOCS, tire grip, and air pressure, let’s assume you already understand the importance of those things, and focus on trying to stay warm. There are a few extra farkles you may want to invest in to extend your riding season.

10. Slide on some heated grips

This may sound very European, but I don’t understand why more motorcycles don’t have heated grips fitted as “standard”.motoadvr_oxfordheaterzgrips I have pretty much decided that heated grips are a “must” for every bike I own. I had a set of Bike Master heated grips fitted on the Speedmaster. Those were pretty decent down to about freezing, but fell short not long after. I now have Oxford Heaterz on my Scrambler, which are superb. Based on my current experience, heated grips are more effective, and get more use than heated gloves. Beyond prepping for extreme cold, you’ll find yourself wearing your summer gloves sooner in spring, just because you can turn up the heat a little. Just keep in mind your bike’s alternator capacity before plugging in every electric item you can buy; I suspect most modern machines can handle it, but I doubt your ’82 Nighthawk is prepared for that kind of draw.

11. Bolt on some hand guards or “Hippo Hands”

Hand guards are another “must” on my “winter motorcycle” (which is currently my only motorcycle…). Hand guards come in many shapes and sizes; from the off-road “Bark Busters” type, to the winter wind protection variety.Scrambler Tiger HandGuards MotoADVR Longtime followers of the blog will also recall my DIY piece on hand guards for the Speedmaster. Crafty folks can buy acrylic sheets from the hardware store and bend them to suit their needs; it’s not much for crash protection, but it will at least keep your hands warm. I’ve also heard lots of stories about folks cutting up bleach bottles and strapping them to their bars to stay warm. In my case, push is rapidly approaching shove, after my whole single digit excursion, I will probably be investing in a set of motorcycle “mitts”. A lot of folks call them “Hippo Hands”, but several brands make these mitts, including Bike Master. They’re pretty affordable, and from what I’ve heard, paired with heated grips your hands are downright cozy. If I’m going to attempt more single digit rides, a set of mitts may be the only way to get it done while keep my fingers intact.

12. Invest in a windshield or fairing

Triumph Speedmaster 13 inch Shield MotoADVRThis probably goes without saying; guys at the helm of a “Wing” are probably saying “Winter? What’s that?” However, for the rest of us mortals, wind management is a lot easier with a good shield. I’m somewhat of a hold-out in this department (I prefer the fly screen), a “good shield” is probably going to be one of the most expensive items you purchase to stay warm. I personally would rather have the heated gear, however if you’re cold blooded, you might want to put a little extra in the budget.

13. Clip on a throttle lock

Go-Cruise Throttle Lock MotoADVRSimilar to the comment about latex gloves, if you don’t have a throttle lock, get one. You may never ride long enough to use it on any normal day, but on a cold morning, having the ability to reach down and “grab the jugs” is invaluable. Throttle locks aren’t particularly complicated (or reliable) devices, but they’re cheap, and they’ll give your throttle hand a break long enough to give it a little warm up to tide you over until the next service station.

This is obviously not a completely comprehensive list of “sniffle” gear, but it covers the vast majority of Motorcycle accessories I use or plan to buy. I’ve told others, the biggest secret is having a positive attitude, layer up (in waterproof gear), and make routine stops. You’ll probably be surprised how much more comfortable you are with something as simple as heated grips, which, like most of these items, won’t break the bank.

What “tricks” do you use to stay warm?

Posted in Gear and Safety, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Change a Tire with Zip Ties: DIY Motorcycle Maintenance

Triumph Scrambler on Jack MotoADVRBack in December I replaced the worn Shinko 705 rear tire on the Scrambler with a Heidenau K60 Scout. Expecting an especially stiff sidewall, I wanted to avoid the labor intensive “traditional” tire change method, so I decided to give the “zip tie method” a shot. Many of you may have already seen videos of moto-wrenchers installing a new tire with zip ties, however I have yet to see it done with a tube type tire. This weekend I decided to spoon on a new Shinko 805 knobby on Rosie the Scrambler, so I figured I’d publish a few photos and short tips; I promise, it sure beats pinching a tube with an iron right as you get the last bead seated…
Motorcycle Tire Change Tools MotoADVRI’m going to call this the “abridged” version, as I assume most folks attempting this already know how to get the bike on the jack, and remove the appropriate wheel. I will also say that there are surplus of YouTube videos available on changing motorcycle tires, which are likely far more eloquent than my two-cents here.

 

 

Once the wheel is off the bike, the biggest part of the job here is breaking the bead. I admit I’m still doing this “the hard way”, with soap, tire irons, possibly a C-clamp… Breaking The Bead Motorcycle Tire MotoADVRbut mostly brute force. Up until this stubborn Anakee 3, the previous Shinko and Continental tires have been relatively easy to break loose with a little extra “oomph”,Removing Tire from Motorcycle Rim MotoADVR but this Michelin was an absolute bear. So much so I can potentially see myself paying for a dedicated bead breaker. Insult to injury, getting the last bead off the rim was also particularly difficult; I loved that Michelin tire, but the pain of removing it will probably stick with my for a long time.

 
Stuff Tube into Motorcycle Tire MotoADVROnce the old tire is off the rim, I begin prepping the new tire by putting a fresh tube down inside the tire. When doing this, make sure that you place the tube valve stem opposite the “heavy” mark on the tire (if it has one).

ZipTie Tire Shut MotoADVRWith the tube gently placed inside the tire, I begin installing zip ties at equally spaced points around the tire. I don’t cinch them tight at first, that way I can still press the tube completely inside the tire before “zipping” it shut.

Confirm Tire Shut MotoADVROnce 8-10 zip ties are in place, I begin cinching down each one, being sure to press the tube inside the tire as not to be pinched between the beads. The goal is to get the beads “closed” and in contact with one another so you can push both beads over the rim at the same time.

Lube New Tire Bead Before Mounting MotoADVRWith the tire zipped shut, I use soapy water to lubricate both the rim (top side), and the beads of the tire.

Installing New Tire MotoADVRWith suds on the new tire beads, I push the tire down over the rim to seat about 40% of the tire if I can. With a rim protector and my 24” iron, I carefully pull the tire over the rim until about 60% of the tire is seated.

From there, it’s mostly knees and elbows pushing the tire on. When I installed the Heidenau in December, I only used the iron one time, this time around, I needed to give the tire a little more help when it was about 80% mounted, from there it was all elbow grease.
Once the tire is completely on the rim, I cut the zip ties adjacent to where the valve stem was tucked inside the tire.Cutting ZipTies MotoADVR I wiggle the tire carefully to line up the valve stem with the hole in the rim. With the two beads located in the trough, it’s usually pretty easy to thread the valve stem through the hole, but you may need to use the valve stem tool to fight a stubborn tube. Once the valve stem is threaded and secured with the threaded nut, I begin snipping the rest of the zip ties and removing them, carefully to not snag the new tube.

With the zip ties all removed, there’s nothing left but to inflate the tube until both beads seat, check the air pressure, balance, and remount the tire.

Posted in Motorcycle Maintenance | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sobremesa Cervantes Fino: The Finer Things in Life

sobremesa-beer-and-notes-motoadvrI’m almost eight months into a new job and I’m still struggling to get back into my rhythm with the blog. I’ve fortunately been riding quite a bit as of late, but it’s been difficult to find quiet time to put thoughts “on paper” and cover some of other aspects of Moto Adventurer that I enjoy talking about (Pubs & Street Eats?). I actually had big plans to get this posted back in November when things seemed to “calm down”, but that rapidly went out the window. Fortunately, I’ve finally circled back, and as it turns out, the wait may have made things better in the end. At any rate, I took a few moments Friday evening and enjoyed another one of those “finer things” and here’s my report.

 

The Stick

sobremesa-on-caddy-motoadvrThe Sobremesa Cervantes Fino (Corona), 6 ½” x 46 (complements of Cigars City), is produced by Steve Saka’s Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust. You may recognize Saka from his time with Drew Estate, more specifically the Liga Privada cigar line. The Sobremesa is rolled in the Joya de Nicaragua factory, the filler includes a blend of Nicaraguan Seco, and Viso tobaccos along with a Lancaster County Ligero Broadleaf, a Mexican Matacapan Negro de Temporal binder, and is completed with La Meca Ecuador habano dark rosado wrapper.

 

The Sobremesa is a two banded cigar; the branding is ultra-simple with only “Sobremesa” at the foot, and the crown on the main band; which I find somewhat reminiscent of Drew Estate’s Undercrown. sobremesa-bands-motoadvrThe “branding” is actually very discreet, even more so than Blind Man’s Bluff, but an earthy cocoa aroma immediately emerged from the wrapper once opened. Parallel to the earthy scents, the habano wrapper is a dark chocolatey color, seemed to be wrapped tightly, and the stick was medium weight in the hand. I again went with the straight cut, and I’m glad I did, as the initial pre-light draw seemed kind of tight to me, and as expected, included matching coffee notes.

sobremesa-straight-cut-motoadvr

The Toast

sobremesa-toast-motoadvrDuring the initial light, I detected a shade of barnyard in the smoke, but it was quickly overshadowed by bold coffee notes. After lighting the stick, I was absolutely intoxicated with the rich cocoa and coffee essences; I simply can’t emphasize the richness of deep cocoa scents after the first few puffs. Progressing through the first third I picked up a hint of pepper, but almost exclusively to the retro-hale; it simply couldn’t overpower earthy coffee overtones.sobremesa-first-third-motoadvr Initially the smoke was light and the draw was still a shade firm; I was a little concerned that it may end up being difficult to keep lit. The ash was a mostly white, with just a shade dark hints. Most of the way through the first third, the burn line stayed very consistent, with the ash holding solid for about an inch to inch and a half.
sobremesa-halfway-motoadvrThe previously light smoke did start to build some as the stick burned down into the second third. Admittedly my palate is somewhat unrefined, but somewhere under the copious deep coffee and cocoa I began to detect subtle woody cedar notes. Through the mid-section the woody notes combined with deeper earth tones started to move towards the top, and more pepper notes were detected in the smoke. Still in the second third, the burn line was just a shade uneven but surprisingly it stayed lit quite well, despite my previous concerns with the draw.
sobremesa-last-third-motoadvrMoving into the last third, the cocoa coffee notes started to soften as earth and cedar notes became even more prevalent; I also picked up a very subtle creaminess. Progressing through the last third I corrected the burn line just a bit, not a big deal. Heat finally started to build a bit in the last third, but nothing like the fire I experienced with Blind Man’s Bluff. Burning down to the nub, as I was trying to get every last puff out of the cigar, it finally got too hot to hold, overall very earthy and consistent.

 

Closing Thoughts

sobremesa-nub-motoadvrI actually enjoyed two Sobremesa cigars from Cigars city; with a span of a couple months between them. I kind of feel that the time in the humidor made the second cigar even better than the first. Per my comments above, the rich cocoa smells when removing the packaging cannot be understated. That really set the stage for the whole experience; as an avid coffee drinker, those rich flavors really fell in line with my tastes. I was pretty preoccupied with the tight draw on the first cigar, which proved unfounded, and was completely unnoticeable in the second cigar. I did notice a subtle nicotine buzz on the tail end of the first cigar, but very little with the second. With total smoke time of about an hour to hour and a half, I ultimately enjoyed the first third of the stick the most, with its obvious coffee overtones, followed by the pleasant blend of earth and cedar in the second third. The overall body and flavor is rich, but in no way overpowering; I would say that this is a good medium cigar, despite the dark tones of the wrapper, for both experienced and new cigar smokers that enjoy obvious earth tones. There is no doubt that I will be looking to get more of these cigars.

Posted in The Finer Things In Life | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Rever, Ural Motorcycles, and the #WinterBeDamned Challenge

Just a few weeks ago, there was snow on the ground and I was making plans for rides later this year. As I mentioned, I’ve been a bit miffed about that fact that there doesn’t seem to be an efficient solution for route planning. Well, I bit the bullet and pulled the trigger on a Rever premium subscription, and so far it’s actually working out pretty well.

I found the Rever app early last year through Instagram. At the time, Rever was running a winter mileage challenge of one variety or another, but there was no way I had a chance, so I lost touch for a bit. This year however, it’s been unseasonably mild here in Dayton, Rosie has chopping at the bit to go on a tear, and Rever is running a new #ReverMoto #UralMotorcycles #WinterBeDamned Challenge. 2016-ural-sahara-frontright-motoadvrIf memory serves, similar to last year the goal is again to ride as much as possible between January and the end of February. I’m getting my butt kicked by folks in Florida and southern California, but I think I’m putting up a good fight just the same (for a guy commuting on a Scrambler in February). The big push for me this year is a possible trip to Seattle to go ride a Ural, which as longtime readers here already know, I really want to put a Two-Wheel-Drive Ural in the driveway, sooner rather than later.

DCIM121GOPRO

The past few weeks I have been using Rever on my phone to record rides to add miles toward the challenge, but I have also been tinkering with the various online tools for route planning. After using the antiquated Basecamp, it took a few minutes to get the hang of things, but I’m actually pretty impressed with the interface. Rever’s website appears to be using a very Google-esque map interface and will let you use up to 26 waypoints for route planning. With its “smart” routing, 26 waypoints is actually enough for me to map out complex, twisty routes, from gas station to gas station, something I often struggle with on Google Maps. Rever’s website also has a special tool for Dual Sport route planning that allows you to create a track on a path were no road “exists” according to the map software. I expect I will find this very useful when I’m putting more routes together in eastern Kentucky this summer.
Ride recording, ride “sharing”, the online route planner (including the ability to upload GPX files), and ride challenges are all free services from Rever’s website and application for your mobile. Those features are nice, but in the end I was stilling looking for offline compatibility considering where I ride. Well, per my previous comments, for a monthly (or annual) fee, Rever offers downloadable maps, Butler Map segments, and the ability to export planned rides via GPX files. I had last Friday off, so it was time to put this Rever premium service to the test.

rever-route-planner

rever.co website

I’ve been itching to get down to the Gorge again, but unfortunately time was limited, so I decided I’d throw a route together to go get lunch down in Maysville, Kentucky. When I’m headed to Grandma’s, my Dad and I just burn down US-68 to get into the Bluegrass State, but there was no way I was going to subject myself to that monotony on a “fun-day”. I plotted the start and end points on Rever’s website, and began dragging the route around until I found some of the twistiest bits available down to the river. Rever’s Butler Maps feature recommended that I take KY-435 out of Augusta, which I gladly obliged, and picked up another twisty section northeast back into Maysville to avoid KY-8. After saving the route to Maysville, I planned a return trip and then exported both routes as “Tracks” and imported them into my Garmin, just in case it rained.
After loading up my toolkit and topping off the tank, it was southbound with the Rever app in the “driver’s seat”. My Galaxy S6 has a pretty awful battery, so I packed the tank bag to charge the phone later in the day when things started running low; this happened sooner than expected as I entered the more complicated sections of the ride. I realized it was a pain to keep turning the screen back on, so I just plugged in my phone and left it on. The Rever track was actually easier to see than I expected. I tested it around the neighborhood a few times a while back, and was a bit concerned it was too small, but after running the screen a full brightness, I slowly got the hang of it. I find that the Garmin is great if you’re just watching the road, and the next intersection you need, however Rever does a better job of showing the other details around you, and that’s my complaint with Garmin, if I want to make a last minute turn around or look for another destination, there’s a lot of zooming and fussing that quickly gets frustrating; Rever is much more like Google Maps, albeit, it could be a bit easier to see (road lines could be a bit more pronounced).

DCIM121GOPRO

From home it was a quick jaunt down to some of my favorite local roads around Oregonia, then more of my usual stuff through Blanchester and down toward Batavia. As I neared Owensville, I was relying on Rever a lot more as I entered new sections of this ride I’ve never seen before. It turns out, a covered bridge was included in one of these new sections, which was a pleasant surprise. From Batavia it was back to OH-222 toward the river. 222 is one of the best state routes I’ve been on near Cincinnati, with several tight curves and immaculate asphalt. From Felicity, I started watching the screen a lot closer as I again found myself on roads that I hadn’t ridden before.skiffsville-oh-505-motoadvr Apparently I wasn’t watching it close enough because I rolled right past a left on Skiffsville Road and had to double back a few hundred yards (Rever doesn’t currently have “turn-by-turn” directions, but I’m told that’s coming). Another nice creek bed road, Skiffsville ran me into a nice curvy section of OH-505 that runs all the way to the US-52 on the Ohio River, right near the Augusta Ferry.

 

DCIM121GOPRO

Crossing into Augusta, it was just a few blocks of familiarity before I was again in unknown territory. KY-435 was coming up, so I was anxious to see how the Butler Map recommendation was going to turn out. Turning onto 435, I was immediately greeted with freshly minted pavement, likely pressed down late last summer. 435 wound along Bracken Creek through rolling bluegrass hills for about ten miles as it neared the AA Highway. I cut off onto Moyer Road before the AA four-lane, again almost missing the turn, and then over to KY-3056 into Maysville.

I’m currently planning a big ride down to Red River Gorge later this spring, so I’ve been looking for a breakfast/brunch location in Maysville. parc-cafe-maysville-motoadvrParc Café was recommended by some of the Cincinnati area riders, so I made that the planned lunch stop for the day. Sitting down for a Chicken Salad Croissant sandwich, I paused my Rever ride, not remembering that I needed to load the next planned route. Naturally, my phone starting acting up, and I actually lost the route recording (100 miles… poof…). That said, I went ahead and posted the “Planned” route for folks interested in riding down that way.

https://a.rever.co/embed/rides/333906

DCIM121GOPRO

The return trip was unfortunately not as eventful as the ride down. Pressed for time, I forced myself to endure some really long straight sections of OH-133 to make up time. I did however, include OH-763 out of Aberdeen, and a recently discovered North Pole Road, which as luck would have it, included yet another covered bridge. North Pole road put me in a position to navigate around US-68. Rooting around through the Rever ride planner the day prior, I discovered that “Old” US-68 is quite the twisty road down by the river valley. Much like KY-435, it appeared that Old 68 had also just received a fresh layer of asphalt. us68-mail-pouch-barn-motoadvrOld 68 turned out so nicely, I might go as far as to say it was one of the best roads of the day, probably the best “new” road I encountered. From the top of Old 68 in Georgetown it was an assortment of oddly named county roads up to OH-133 in Bethel, and then on to Owensville. In Owensville I simply couldn’t pass up Belfast-Owensville Road, an excellent twisty section that actually runs between at least three different creek beds. From the fun stuff around Owensville it was another set of mostly unremarkable roads until I was back in the Little Miami River corridor. Having made relatively good time, I went ahead and hit all four hair-pin turns in Oregonia before finally heading home.

https://a.Rever.co/embed/rides/334518


While this wasn’t the first time I used the “planned ride” feature of the Rever app, it was certainly the most complicated. I admit, the user interface is undoubtedly more user friendly than my Garmin, but I would like to see some fine tuning to make the screen a bit easier to see while riding. Per my comments, I sent a text over to Rever asking about turn-by-turn directions, and the representative on the other end said that they are working on that feature. I think that will be a significant breakthrough for them. For folks that just want to navigate point-to-point, they can have Google Maps, but for us motorcycle types with overly complicated trip plans, it appears that Rever is actively working to win our business.

Posted in Ride Reports | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Progressive International Motorcycle Show: Chicago Highlights

This is my fourth year attending the Progressive International Motorcycle show and 2nd in Chicago. This year, a buddy of mine that has since moved away wanted to try to catch a show, so we met up in Indy for the trek to the windy city. Needless to say, the show in Chicago draws a bit of a larger crowd, and therefore a larger vendor base than the show in Cleveland, but in many ways, it’s kind of more of the same. The last couple years I was doing some “shopping” and comparison in the “Adventure” sector, while getting a closer look at new models like the Indian Scout and the Yamaha XSR900. My expectations this year was mostly to casually browse the various wares considering that, from my perspective, there hasn’t been a whole lot of buzz about 2017 models among most of the manufacturers. Certainly, there were exceptions, and naturally the following is mostly what caught my eye:

 

Ducati Multistrada 950

ducati-multistrada-950-frontquarter-motoadvrFor whatever reason, Ducatis continue to demand my attention. I assume it has something to do with “the bike that started it all”, but it’s mostly me being star struck by unicorns. The same buddy that I joined for this trip actually had a Multistrada just a couple years back. While I really appreciated that model at the time, I’ve found it simply too expensive, and too electronic for my unsophisticated taste. Enter the Multistrada 950. Ducati has successfully cross bred the Multistrada 1200 Enduro with the Hypermotard and given birth to a Sport Touring “Adventure” bike that is much more suited for my near future interests. The new Multi-950 has the 1200 Multi Enduro’s frame, but 939 Hypermotard mill, double sided swing arm, and has lost the electronic wiz-bang-ery of the 1200 Multi, all at a price just barely more than the Hypermotard. Certainly this bike is a long way off from coming home with me, but it does fill a “simpler” niche in a fleet of bikes that are becoming more technological all the time.

 

 

Ducati Desert Sled

ducati-scrambler-desert-sled-motoadvrUntil the release of the new Desert Sled, even the Ducati Scrambler was yet another road minded bike with a “Scrambler” title. Ducati fortunately, has decided to up the ante with this new Scrambler variation, adding 8 inches of suspension travel to a bike that is already celebrated for its light weight and sporty engine. Thus far, reviews of the Desert Sled appear to be quite positive, I’m looking forward to seeing it in a few multi-bike “Shoot-outs” later this year. Unfortunately, despite all my enthusiasm, this scrambling Desert Sled is carrying the weight of a heavy price tag (~$11,395) for an 800 cc street bike. That leaves a lot of wiggle room to compare cheaper, “true” dual sport motorcycles that are more up to the task.

 

Ducati Supersport

2017-ducati-super-sport-side-motoadvrPer usual, I don’t know when I would find myself in the market for a sport bike (or roadster), I cannot help but to take notice of the new Ducati Super Sport. Ducati obviously has a reputation with the Panigale and Monster models; unfortunately I find the flagship Panigale to be way too rich for my blood, and simply cannot fall in love with the naked Monster (still miss that GT1000 Sport Classic I guess…), enter the new Supersport. At around $13k, like the Multi 950, the new Supersport is a compromise between performance, price, and modest “wiz-bang-ery” that I can appreciate.

 

BMW R NineT Scrambler

2017-bmw-r-ninet-scrambler-1200As a certified Scrambler-phile, I had to see the new Beemer up close. Per previous comments, I’ve had a “thing” for the R NineT for quite a while; it goes without saying this new Scrambler variation is right in my wheel house, with a cheaper price tag to boot. For those that haven’t already heard, BMW made some “performance” sacrifices on the Scrambler to simplify the machine and bring the price down (i.e. conventional front forks). Throwing a leg over the saddle, the R NineT Scrambler felt a bit portly, despite the claimed 500 pound curb weight. Reviews have suggested that geometry and weight make the R NineT Scrambler a more relaxed “around town” bike vs. off-road Scrambler; my first impression would be the same, despite those beautiful Karoo 3 tires. That said, rumor has it that BMW will actually be launching the R NineT “Pure” at a sub $13k price, which would actually have me leaning that direction, in spite of the Scrambler’s utilitarian aesthetics.

 

Royal Enfield Himalayan

royal-enfield-himalayan-leftside-motoadvrEarly in 2016 various news outlets, and Royal Enfield’s own website, began publishing information on the formerly British mark’s new 410 cc “Himalayan”. Even prior to Rosie’s purchase, it was evident there was a soft sport in my heart for all these utilitarian machines emerging from manufacturers. Unfortunately, to my disappointment, there was no initial intent to bring the new Himalayan to U.S. shores. I assumed that emissions standards and red tape were probably to blame, however based on the fact I was just sitting on one at the motorcycle show in Chicago, and a few comments from the sales staff, I suspect we’re on the verge of seeing a press release for U.S. importation of the Himalayan. For those that don’t know, Royal Enfield invested in a completely new 410 cc single cylinder mill. The Royal Enfield rep claims the Himalayan will tip the scales at 400 pounds ready to ride, has 8 inches of suspension travel, and is likely to be priced in the $4,700 range. If all these statements are true, I can’t wait to get my hands on one. Not sure if I would outright buy one, but there is no doubt I want to at least ride one, as I see this as the first true “Factory Scrambler” available to the average Joe.

 

…and some other good stuff:

 

Highlights from the custom/vintage bike show:

Posted in Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

8 Things No One Tells You Before You Buy a Motorcycle

1. Motorcycles are expensive

MotoADVR_DucatiMonster2If you’re buying a motorcycle as a “toy”, this probably won’t phase you, but if you’ve been convinced by the salesman that riding is cheaper than driving, there’s more you should know. Sure, they’re cheaper than a new car (unless it’s a Red Headed Italian Supermodel or has a bar and shield on the tank…), but you may find that that gently used bike you just brought home on the trailer has some additional expenses. Sure, 46 MPG on a bike is common, but it’s really not that gas, it’s the new tires every 5,000 miles (~$150 a tire, plus mounting and balancing), the oil changes every 6,000 miles (likely $200+ at a shop), and the gear you’re likely to accumulate (which could exceed $1000).MotoADVR_888onStand You could squid it up if you choose, but in many states helmets are mandatory, at least for the first year; that’s easily a hundred bucks right off. Before long, you’ll probably want a good riding jacket, so the sleeves aren’t so damn short, and well, it gets cold when the sun goes down (that’s another $200, easy). Chaps or riding jeans are likely to set you back another hundred, and there’s also that whole “rain suit” thing. Not to mention what insurance is going to cost you, suddenly that driving record with a couple speeding tickets makes that new R6 a little steeper than you originally planned.

 

2. Motorcycles don’t have to be expensive

Right now you’re saying “but you just told me they were expensive?” Yes, I realize that, but if you’re not one of those people who buys things to improve your image, isn’t looking for an instrument of a mid-life crisis, and is otherwise frugal, riding a motorcycle can actually be cheap. honda-cb550-four-motoadvrThis of course implies that you’re going to buy something of small displacement, used, and preferably pay cash. This also implies that you’re prepared to make steep, and I mean steep, sacrifices in the comfort department and ride virtually year-round and in inclement weather. I have heard many stories about folks, even here in Dayton, Ohio, that have had a motorcycle as their only vehicle (I assume this was in the 80’s…). Most (American) riders aren’t prepared to make sacrifices in lieu of comfort, or be caught dead on a 250cc bike (or God forbid a scooter) after holding their full endorsement for more than 3 months. However, for those willing to fully commit, one can actually experience a savings on gas, and in the city probably even on parking. suzuki-vanvan200-motoadvrA cheap, used, paid for, reliable Honda (or other UJM) can probably handle more than its fair share of abuse and neglect and is therefore probably not the “Garage Queen” Ducati I previously described; just a few quarts of oil and some “reliable” rubber on the rims and you could make out like a bandit. If nothing else, you’ll definitely have cash left over to buy suitable gear for the inclement weather you’re about to experience. Your motorcycle of choice is unlikely to place in any motorcycle shows, and your friends and family are going to call you “Crazy”. However, in the event gas prices reach $4/gallon again, you’ll start noticing how rarely you hear comments about your boring bike or how crazy you are for riding below freezing.

 

3. Rain is going to terrify you, but it doesn’t have to

Frequenters to the blog have read my comments about this before. On my previous bike, I was borderline terrified of rain. It didn’t handle especially bad in the rain, it was mostly the riding position when the rear wheel broke loose that bothered me. This really isn’t about me though, it’s about you as a first time rider. There you are, a few months under your belt, you’re out riding and the skies open up with nowhere to hide. You start asking yourself “will the front wheel hold?” and “How far should I lean?” Worse still, in the event you actually do spin the rear tire and get that exciting motorcycle fishtail thing going, the pucker-factor cranks up a few more notches. That lack of trust in your tires combined with not having the right gear to combat the elements often makes for a “once bitten, twice shy” situation for some riders, but it doesn’t have to be this way. I personally recommend that you make it a deliberate point to push the bike out into the driveway on a rainy day, and take a short ride around roads that you know just to get acclimated to how the bike handles in the rain. You’ll probably be surprised but just how well most modern tires stick to the pavement. If you’re a selfish guy like me, you might even find that you enjoy the (mostly) empty roadways you find when it’s raining, especially on the weekends. However, if you decide you’re strictly a “Sunny and 70” kind of rider, you may never outgrow this fear.

 

4. You meet people…

At a gas station, at a stop light, or in the parking lot while you’re putting on your gear, people stop and talk to you. triumph-bonneville-vintage-motoadvrSometimes it’s simply “hey that’s a nice bike!” and they move on. Most of the time it’s “Sure is a nice day to be out riding!” or “Be safe!”; but sometimes it’s an older guy who wants to tell you about his old ’68 Bonneville that he loved so much (I call this the “Triumph Experience” which occurs frequently at gas stations when I’m filling up). If you like attention, you’re likely to find it on a motorcycle, but be warned, while you, young man, are looking to pick up “Chicks” with your hot new ride, know now, per my comments above, motorcycles are actually dude magnets.

 

5. No, you REALLY meet people

Despite wearing a full face helmet and tinted visor, you see a lot more while riding. Part of that is of course riding in “the zone”; being ultra-focused on everything going on around you, because if you’re not, it may literally kill you. DCIM114GOPROHowever, the fact that you don’t have an A-pillar at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock blocking your view, you also see a lot more of what’s happening in front of you. Between that and the fact you’re watching every car within 200 yards of your bike, you start to notice what other drivers are “doing”, and in many cases, not doing. While many drivers also notice this, I find that the higher perch on my Scrambler has provided me with a superior view of someone’s game of “Angry Birds”, watching them read “War & Peace”, or occasionally having a bowl of cereal. Text messages and (hopefully) GPS functions are easily the most frequent thing I notice from distracted drivers, but without fail, you’ll see how fellow commuters spend their time behind the wheel.

 

 

6. This isn’t your dream bike

There I was, standing in the dealership about to take home the bike I had lusted after for two years. Then, after a couple, years you suddenly begin to notice… flaws… in your dream bike; be it, not enough power, not enough storage, or simply because you’re bored with it. MotoADVR_YamahaR1-3There are exceptions, I have a co-worker who’s first motorcycle (ever!) was a ’07 Heritage Softail, and he still has it to this day (and no other bike). However, considering you’re not a seasoned motorcyclist, I suspect that odds are, in a relatively short period of time (2-4 years?), your heart starts to drift from that former love affair. Don’t feel bad, it happens to most of us, just keep this in mind before you pay top dollar for a new bike, make permanent (and irreversible) modifications to said motorcycle (like sweet skulls painted on the tank…), and then get your hopes up about getting anything remotely close to what you paid for it. The problem is, from day one, you honestly have no idea what kind of rider you’ll be, and therefore no idea what kind of bike you’ll need, so plan accordingly.

 

7. You find solace in solitude

Others have written about that fact that once you buy a motorcycle, you join a club. They mean that figuratively, and literally in some cases. DCIM118GOPROYour circle friends may be the whole reason you’re buying a bike in the first place; however, you may find that you also enjoy riding alone. While riding in a car can be completely mundane, the journey from “here to there” is completely changed on a motorcycle; suddenly find yourself more “in-tune” with what’s going on around you. While I do often ride with various groups, I make a point of “exploring” the rural backroads solo, I stop when I want to, and just enjoy “my ride” at my pace. There’s just something about the smoky smell of wood burning stoves in the valleys and the sun setting behind the corn fields in fall that makes those rides special… you’ll see.

 

8. It’s Addicting

No really, motorcycles are addicting. While there are unquestionably poor, lonely motorcycles sitting neglected in thousands of garages right now, for many of us, this “hobby” becomes our primary pastime. triumph-scrambler-7-degrees-motoadvrAs I’m writing this, flurries are falling outside the window, so there’s no doubt that others reading this are experiencing the same “winter withdraw” that occurs almost universally among riders this time of year. Come spring time, even riders who typically stick to the “Sunny and 70” rule even start make concessions, just to get back out on two wheels. For some, myself included, you find every excuse to take the bike to any given destination, regardless of what sacrifices must be made. In my case that means an expansive (and expensive) closet of gear to handle each variety of weather challenges; it is “the only way to travel” as far as I’m concerned.triumph-scrambler-snow-motoadvr For someit’s the speed, and for others it’s “the freedom”, and before long, you start rubbing elbows with more of these people, and now you have social engagements to help exacerbate this addiction. You may also find that you like “tinkering” on motorcycles as much as you like riding them, and similar to the previous comment about dream bikes, you may also find that having only one motorcycle simply isn’t enough. Fortunately for your significant other, there are worse things to be addicted to…

Posted in Random Blurbs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments