Tuesday, August 29, 2006

For future farkle: A Fuse Block for Gretl

So after talking to this guy at work, decided to invest on a good fuse block to use for hooking up electronic accessories on the motorcycle. It's from Painless Electronics and I gotta tell ya, it's truly painless. While not incompetent in such matters, I am no wiz at hooking up electronic gear and this farkle was very easy to install and get running.

Took me longer to figure out where I would mount the unit than it did to figure out how to hook it up and connected. Every wire is labeled to prevent error and now the only thing hooked directly to the battery now is the fuse block. Each circuit (3 always hot, 4 ignition hot) are protected by 20 amp fuses and the whole thing is protected by a 30amp relay. Its all weather-resistant, where the wires go into the fuse block its sealed, there's a cover over the fuses...I am sure my riding in rain will not affect this puppy.

I recommend this unit to anyone needing extra power circuits in their motorcycle or car for accessories!

I bought it from summitracing.com, click here for a link to the item. I am in no way connected to these guys except as a very satisfied customer. Here's their description of the item:

The safe way to add electrical accessories is with Painless Performance Cirkit Boss kits, the first circuit isolators that provide both constant and ignition hot circuits. Instead of tapping into an existing wire or spare circuit at the fuse block, Cirkit Boss kits are add-on, relay-activated fuse blocks, activated by a small wire from any ignition source. Cirkit Boss kits protect bulbs, accessories, and computers from the harmful spikes that may occur in a poorly connected power supply. All Cirkit Boss units are made using TXL cross link polyurethane wire rated to 275 degrees F at 600V, and they include a 30 amp inline circuit breaker, a relay, mounting hardware, and an assortment of terminals. Circuits are individually fused for up to 20 amp applications and use a heavy duty 30 amp relay. All wires are machine-terminated for reliability.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Rainy start, sunny ending....colorado riding

They've a saying here in Colorado, if you don't like the weather, wait a few and it'll change. That's sometimes quite true specially in any season but summer. Summer, it's just hot and sunny most of the time. Today though, I got rained on quite heavily about 5 mins into ride to rendezvous with Sanoke. Luckily I had started of with all my rain gear on and my "herman the german" army boots. Stayed quite dry and comfortable.

I had my summer gloves on at the start and my hands started getting cold fast. There's no such thing as warm rain here in CO so that was no surprise. Got to the rendezvous point, put on some latex gloves and my Olympia leather gloves and my hands were nice and warm again as the rain tapered off.

Once I met up with Sanoke, the rain had pretty much ended and we started riding the county roads towards Kiowa, ended up taking a coffee break in the small city of Elizabeth and then Sanoke showed me a back way into the Denver Tech Center which was quite nice. Not to mention also the backway to Parker Rd and Lincoln Avenue which dumped me in the middle of Parker. Nice.

It was a short ride today as we both had commitments this afternoon. I tested the Vista Cruise control on Gretl and it worked perfectly, the highway pegs once again allowed me to stretch out my legs on the long straightaways, and my riding gear kept me dry and warm. Good tests all around. Sanoke gave me some tips on installing the heated grips I intend to buy soon, made it sound pretty simple overall.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Another farkle for Gretl - Vista Cruise Control

Got it in the mail today and installed it when I got home. It's an inexpensive (ok, cheap) mechanical clamping device you attach to the throttle grip on the motorcycle, when engaged it's supposed to hold the present position of the throttle allowing one to take your right hand of the throttle grip and relax it a bit on the longer rides.

I must say my right hand has cramped quite a bit a times on the longer rides and I've looked for ways to get a few seconds off the throttle to shake out my right hand and restore some blood flow. This farkle should allow me to do that and still allow me to maintain speed and not have to hope for a stoplight or make a stop.

I get to try it out tomorrow as I get to go our riding with Sanoke to try out my engine guard mounted highway pegs on some long highway stretches in the general direction of Limon. Having the Vista Cruise Control is a bonus. Took me a bit to figure out how it installed, most of that time was spent trimming the rubber filling piece so that it'd fit with my grip.

Note for those of you thinking of buying one and installing it using the pic above as a guide: It's wrong! The black ring with the small allen-headed screws goes to the right of the silver band with the locking lever attached! I think they just put it on some motorcycle for the pic on the merchant's website.

And yes, I did have to move my brake fluid reservoir over a bit for the clamp to fit. No big deal, just something to keep in mind.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Rush hour on the Dam Road = no fun.

Today I had to work later than usual and hit the Cherry Creek Dam Road after 5PM and during full rush hour. It's a long dam with a road on top that one must use to get past the water reservoir that stands between where I work and where I live. Traffic was crawling along and I did not get out of walking speed until 3/4 of the way atop the dam. What a pain it was.

I got to practice my slow speed riding during this time but even going as slowly as possible, still kept catching up to the car in front of me and having to put the feet down momentarily.

All the while, the skies above kept getting darker and angry clouds continued to build and move closer to me.

The weather also played havoc with FM radio reception so I didn't even have quality sound/tunes as I crawled along with everyone else!

Whatever caused the slow logjam on Dam road cleared finally and I scooted off it and onto the rest of my commute with no further issues. I even managed to make it to the house about 10 minutes before a huge rain hit the house!

Cheap Farkle for Gretl - Windshield off

Ok, Ok, a few more bits and farkle for Gretl are in the works, one I mounted last night to her handlebar is a cheapie FM radio I got at Target. It's expendable, uses only one AAA battery but puts out enough sound to be able to hear the music while riding the motorcycle with a set of headphones.

I thought the music would be a distraction or prevent me from hearing traffic but so far so good.

What's Farkle? Electronics/Gadgets one gets for the motorcycle.

Oh, and I've decided to take the deflector windshield off Gretl for when I expect to do just regular commute riding, putting it on only for long rides on the weekends. It comes off easily enough with a couple of knob twists and Gretl does look "cleaner" without it.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Movie Review: The Long Way Round

I recently viewed this movie which was a documentary on Bravo back in 2004 I believe. I read the book that came out about it at the same time and with some comments do heartily recommend viewing the film if you are at all interested in Motorcyle Touring and just riding motorcycles in general. The trip was planned for 20,000 miles of travel on motorcycles! The terrain they had to traverse once they left Europe and entered the wilds of Asia was amazing in its beauty and incredibly tough to ride through in many spots.

Truly is the US highway system an incredible achievement when compared to some of the stuff these guys and their support crews had to traverse.

For you BMW riders out there, they used BMW motorcycles and apparently the motorcycles performed very well given the conditions.

Just be prepared for what I perceived to a bit of whinning from both riders where even though they were on the adventure of a lifetime, they thought "things were just too hard", "I miss my family", and even had thoughts of changing their route in search of better roads. Not sure what they expected the trip would be like but when reality hit, they faltered but eventually they "did a package check" and drove on.

Easy for me to criticize of course, I was not there, axle deep in muddy goo, constantly having the motorcycle fall over and having to pick it up and helping pick up the other's motorcycles as well, sleeping in tents with wet gear and at times eating weird and exotic foods from the locals. However, these guys had support vehicles and satellite phones for Christ's sakes!

The handling issues they had in rough terrain (and yes, at times it was impossible terrain) I got the impression came from their overloading their motorcycles with gear. Their cameraman did not apparently have as many issues with handling and his load was lighter it seems. Again, I was not there but that was my thought at the time. Their ability to get their motorcycles repaired though was great and they were fortunate to find locals with mechanical/welding skills when mishaps happened.

I found their interactions with each suceeding local culture most interesting even though they were ill prepared once they entered eastern europe and points beyond in terms of language. Of course, their being able to call up on the satphone, get an interpreter and have him talk to the local officials they encountered probably enable them to slack off on the language lessons. God knows Russian is a very hard language to learn!

Still, despite the negatives above, a great film to watch for motorcycle buffs.

From the website:

A once in a lifetime adventure….

Setting off in London in April 2004, Ewan and Charley travelled through some of the most beautiful, and at times dangerous, terrain the world has to offer. Crossing over into mainland Europe, they rode through France, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Siberia, Alaska, Canada before arriving 115 days later at their final destination, New York City, USA.

Ewan McGregor: “Now it’s come to an end I can hardly believe that we’ve made our dreams come true and although at times its been very, very tough, the people and places on the way have moved and touched me to my core. It’s been a ‘Long Way Round’ but I’m glad to be home.”

Charley Boorman: “The trip has been incredible in itself but it’s the people in all the countries that we’ve met that have made it fantastic.”

More stuff for Gretl, More comfort for me

Well, hopefully I've reached a point in the purchasing of add-on accessories for Gretl. I put on engine bars, highway pegs and a helmet lock this week. Now I can stretch out my legs a bit more when not shifting/braking in the city and can fully stretch out my legs when on the highway!

Since I've already tipped the motorcycle over twice while stopped or coming to a stop, the engine guards will definitely come in handy besides being a mount point for the highway pegs. Had to mount a helmet lock because with the deflector windshield, I can no longer use the motorcycle lock on the handlebar to secure my helmet to the motorcycle.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Me and Gretl

This picture was taken before the addition of the windshield, replacement of the stock horn (it's now a 130db horn, baby!) and new tool bag in the back of the passenger seat. Updated pics will follow once I get and install the engine guards and highway pegs which are due here in a couple of days....can't wait! : )

Third time's a charm? I hope so.

I got a small deflector type windshield last week from Ebay, a Slipstream Spitfire which mounts on my motorcycle's handlebars.

Got it to cut down the wind hitting my chest and making me hang on tightly to the grips while at highway speeds. Makes you tired after a while and cuts down on the enjoyment of the ride. Tonight was my third positional adjustment of the thing, I would ride a couple of days with it in one position to try it out and tonight I experienced the least turbulence so far while at highway speeds.

In the first attempt, the turbulence was so bad it was causing bluriness when reading the signs on the highway and moving my helmeted head about, not good.

The second attempt, same day improved things a bit but felt it was a bit noisier and still had some minor turbulence though not enough to blur things in my vision.

Tonight, it felt pretty good at highway speeds, very very minor buffeting of the top of my helmet where I could feel the wind hitting it. No problems reading signs and no having to hang on for dear life when above 65mph. Yeah, I know, it's rare I'll be at those speeds anyways. But when one is on the expressways, one has to flow with the traffic or be a hazard.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Into the high country with Sanoke

Went riding again this weekend with same riding buddy from the hondashadow.net forum, this time we went into the high country west and south of Denver. Roughly 5-6hrs of saddle time, well worth the sore knees and getting wet from the sporadic showers. We covered a little over 220 miles of beautiful colorado scenery:

Cathedral Rock(Cathedral Spires), not too far from Littleton, CO.

Another view of Cathedral Rock(Cathedral Spires)

Here's the epicenter of the town of Turkey Creek A "Mercantile" store, it was like stepping back a few decades. Felt like I was walking into one of those museum displays of old Americana, but it was a working store, post office and a small taste of the past. (Sanoke's photo)

A cool little bar called the Buck Snort Bar, in Sphinx Park.....hidden away among the rock and pines. It was closed when we got there so we kept riding. (Sanoke's photo)

Here's a view from Kenosha Pass looking down into the valley where the towns of Jefferson and Fairplay are located:

The continental divide as seen from a dirt road west of Jefferson, CO: (Sanoke's photo)

A ride with Sanoke

Today I went on a four hour ride with a rider named John, who is userid Sanoke on hondashadow.net. He's been riding on and off since 1965 and rides a 1100 Shadow. He showed me some of the county roads SE of Denver, the town of Elbert, Palmer Lake, Kiowa, Perry Park and byways and backways I'd never seen before. It was a great way to spend Saturday morning, on a motorcycle, just cruising.

Here's a pic John took of the motorcycles while parked in front of a rock formation he calls "Camel Rock" which I thought was quite fitting. Next time I must remember to bring my own camera.

My motorcycle did the trip fine, the seat modification I'd done recently was proven to be a good one and now I just need to add some flip-out highway pegs to Gretl and I think I'll be good to go for the longer rides when my legs need to stretch out. We covered around 150 miles or so before we parted ways and headed to our own homes. I look forward to riding with John again, it was a good time.

My 1st Group Ride

Today I joined a group of co-workers who are also bikers on a group ride to Echo Lake which is about ten miles short of Mt Evans, which I think is the tallest mountain on this side of the continental divide. We started off from a place near home at 1015am and we arrive in time to be seated at the restaurant near the lake by 1300.

Nice ride up, not too twisty or fast. I did however pull the "classic" noobie mistake and left my turn signal on most of the way up the mountain! Doh! Some other guy did it on the way down so I was not the only one forgetting his turn signals. I had been doing so well up until then too, oh well.

We experienced about a 30 minute delay as we entered Evergreen because we happen to hit it as they were winding up their Evergreen Rodeo parade. Traffic was blocked in the direction we wanted to go so we took a breather and watched the parade go by. Typical hometown parade, the fire department was out with the marchers along with some wagons with waving people. There was one guy with a bullhorn haranguing passerbys and the crowd attempting to be amusing, not sure he succeeded.

We had a nice lunch at the restaurant and then proceeded down from the mountain to Idaho Springs where we go on I-70 for a couple of miles till we could get to Highway 6 which we took into Golden. Traffic was surprisingly light on the interstate which was fine by me during the really short while we were on it.

The road to Golden was nice and twisty too, not as bad as the way up Mt Evans/Echo but nice. I had been trying to figure out the best position for my feet on the footpegs as I had been experiencing some pain in the knees on the way up. Finally found the right position just before we stopped for lunch so I should be good to go from this point on.

Once we got to Golden, we stopped at this restaurant/bar called Buffalo Rose. There were many other bikers there and the place was quite crowded. We had one drink together and then a couple of the group split off to go their own ways. The core group then headed down Highway 6 and to 285 which we used to cross Denver and back to our respective homes. We split apart on Parker Road at the intersection with Quincy, waving goodbyes to each other as we went our own separate ways.

Quite a fun day though I did not realize it would be an all day affair. Quite enjoyable overall, my Honda Shadow performed flawlessly and got me home safe and sound.

I rode a total of 144.9 miles today, started with a full tank and when I went to fill her back up, was only able to put in 2.007 gallons before she was full. Works out to just over 72mpg! Wow.

My Motorcycle

I've over 200 miles riding her now and she's a lot of fun. Now, when I drive my car, it seems boring. Got caught in rain AND hail yesterday as I was riding from work. I had waited one rain shower out and thought myself in the clear; forgetting this is Colorado and the weather is subject to change on a moments notice. I saw the rain move back in and it caught up with me as I was riding on top of a dam's road, man that hail stung as it hit my pants legs and the water soaked me through. Of course, by the time I managed to pull over the rain had basically stopped.