Saturday, March 29, 2014

Riding Scarlett to Loveland Pass

Well, with 54% of the votes, my 2014 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig is officially named Scarlett.  Thanks to all of you who voted.

I left a bit after 9:30 AM, after a "baconey" breakfast by my loving wife, riding Scarlett into a sunny morning with temperatures in the high 30s and with a forecast of even warmer temperatures by the afternoon.

Less than two hours later, Scarlett and I had moseyed to the Continental Divide via mostly frontage roads and brief sprints on the I-70 Super Slab.  In keeping with published engine break-in procedures, we never exceeded 55 MPH, not that I think Scarlett had a chance to surpass that, given the inclines we faces and the stiff head winds!

US6, which one rides to go to the summit of Loveland Pass, is the Hazmat road required by CDOT for use for trucks with hazardous cargo.  Can't be having an accident which might involve hazardous chemical spills within the Eisenhower Tunnel can we?

Scarlett and I motored up US6 with no issues, rolling on top of icy and snow-covered patches of pavement with no issues. Traffic was not very heavy and I was able to pick and choose among the available stopping spots that weren't covered in deep snow.

 On the way to the summit from the eastern end of Loveland Pass Road,
just past the first major hairpin turn.

 A view of I-70, looking west, you can see the tunnel entrances
to the Eisenhower Tunnel which goes under the 
Continental Divide.

 Still heading towards the summit of Loveland Pass, 
the light was causing Scarlett's red paint to take on orange-like hues.

 Almost looks like Valencia's orange color doesn't it?

 Here's Scarlett almost at the summit of Loveland Pass

 Coming back from the western side of the Continental Divide, 
here's Scarlett with snowy mountains behind her.

 As you can see, there's been quite the large amount of snowfall this Winter

Scarlett and I left Loveland Pass around 1:00 PM or so, we rode on the I-70 Slab eastbound back towards the Denver Metro area.  As we were heading downhill from a peak altitude of almost 12,000 feet, Scarlett had no issues achieving and holding 55 MPH all the way back to the Buffalo Overlook exit.  We then took the same frontage road that is US40, all the way back to Red Rocks Park.

It was so warm now, that I stopped in the Creation Rock parking lot to shed a couple of layers.  I left the park quickly as it was swarming with bicyclists, hikers, cagers; all enjoying the warm weather and sunny conditions.

Home by 2:30 PM or so, a quick wash of Scarlett to get rid of the snow scum and mag chloride which had splashed onto her while riding to and from Loveland Pass.  Scarlett went over 800Km today, soon it'll be time for her first service.

Scarlett did great, by the way.  I did experience a stuck rear brake light switch before we headed out this morning while I was doing the usual safety checks.  It's a known issue with URALs, I remove the actuating spring and since the brake lever switch worked, it was all good.  I always use both brakes when slowing down and stopping, so the tailgating cagers behind me knew I was slowing....I'll be asking Randy for a replacement switch, under warranty of course.  :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Nearing the 500 KM Mark on the 2014 Rig

On the commute home, I noted two things:  The 2014 Rig that I picked up this past Friday, was nearing the 500 kilometer mark in terms of mileage; it's now almost halfway to the 1000 Km mark where it's first service is due and the engine's break-in period is over.

The second thing was the low fuel level warning light had started blinking on, more often than not.  The manual says once the light stays lit it means one has reached the gas tank's reserve.  I kept monitoring the light, seeing the warning light remain lit for longer periods of time.  The light will blink more and more as the fuel level draws down and as the gas moves around inside the tank.

As the trip meter turned to 238 Km, I couldn't wait much longer and the warning light was staying on almost consistently so I stopped at the next gas station.

The tank became full with 3.84 gallons of gas, which means I had 1.16 gallons of fuel remaining.  The rig's manual states reserve is at 1 gallon.  The tripmeter reading was 239 Km, a heretofore unseen amount of kilometers, by me, on a URAL sidecar rig!  On Valencia, my 2011 Patrol, one had to switch to manual reserve usually between 170-190 Km.

That's roughly 63 KPG or 37 MPG!

The advertised better fuel economy due to the EFI system is showing very promising results on this second tank of gas used by my 2014 rig.  The first one I didn't count as the rig had the sidecar windshield mounted and it is known to cause a loss of MPG due to wind resistance.

The rig is running fine, just some hesitation and popping when the engine is cold, which goes away once she warms up.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Early Morning View of Pikes Peak

I rose with the sun this morning, noted the 18°F reading on the thermometer, bundled up and rode out on my 2014 URAL Patrol to see what I could find in terms of snowy views.

The back up heated grips worked fine, my regular grips were missing a piece of wiring from when they were removed from Valencia, my 2011 URAL Patrol by the dealer as she was prepped for sale by them.  In fact, they got quite hot, quite fast.

My legs felt a bit colder than usual, I really miss the wind protection provided by the leg guards I forgot to pick up at the dealer back on Friday!

The sun rose quickly as I motored southwards on Parker Road, through the towns of Parker and Franktown.  The skies were clear and the sun would warm things into the low 30s by the time of the ride's end but the chill would stay with me for a while longer.  I think next time I ride in temperatures under 20°F, I will also don my rain gear to block the wind chill's effect.

There's several spots on CO State Road 83, which takes one from Parker to Colorado Springs, where one's view of Pikes Peak is suitable for pictures.  I stopped at the first one of these and got these pictures.

The 2014 Patrol, which remains nameless still, performed just fine.  She's a little "poppy" when the engine is cold, probably a factor of the Electronic Fuel Ignition (EFI) mapping which still needs a bit of tweaking I think for us riders above 6000 ft in altitude.

Yes, Electrojet (the makers of the EFI system) did test their Electronic Control Units (ECU) at high altitude, but they did it in a plane.  I wonder though, how they tested the return to idle behaviour, while in a plane?  Still, the rig runs strong and except for the occasional pop from the exhaust while in first gear, no issues were presented.

As you can see, not much snow fell on us in this part of the great state of Colorado.  There were patches of ice on the roads, especially in the areas that lie in the shadows of trees; my rig did fine though, since I always slowed down for those.

I hope you liked the first pictures of this rig while on a ride.  I got home by 9:30 AM or so and had a late breakfast and coffee to warm up.  Not a bad way to spend an early Sunday morning eh?

Friday, March 21, 2014

My new 2014 URAL Patrol

I drove a rental car up to Unique Rides in Fort Collins, CO this morning and got there soon as Tammy opened the gates!

Three hrs later, paperwork done, dealer checkout done, windshield remounted, and some chatting, I was on the way home.

More later.

16:30hrs: OK, it's later and as Paul Harvey used to say: "Here's the rest of the story"......

Shortly after I arrived, I noted that Randy had positioned Valencia, the 2011 Patrol I'd traded in upon the implosion of her engine back in January at the entrance to the dealership..   Note, I bought her on March 3 of 2012 and two years and 18 days later, she's now for sale at Unique Rides.  A bit over 48K Kilometers we rode together, Valencia and I, and I know she'll be good rig to whomever buys her from Randy and Tammy.

Here's the girls, passing the torch from one to the other.
Valencia is most likely muttering to the new patrol: "Now you're stuck with him"

The red patrol remains unnamed though the family is quickly whittling down the choices.  Randy, walked me through the changes in the 2014 model and we chatted a bit about them, the adjustments I needed to know about and things to watch for.  

He also showed me the software that URAL had the dealers buy to program/balance the ECUs that now provide the Fuel Injection capability to new URAL Sidecar Rigs.

The software is pretty basic, it comes from the company that builds the ECUs, Electrojet.  Randy explained that the recommended factory settings were apparently not suitable for motorcycles in Colorado's "higher" locations.  For instance, you'll notice in the screen above, my ECUs are set to 30 kPa or kilopascals....the factory says to balance them to 35 kPa.

Randy had found though, that if you follow that, the idle goes to 1600 RPM and when you throttle back to idle, the engine remains stuck at 1600 RPM!  That's much too high for "idle".  So, using 30 kPa is what we're going with while discussions continue between Randy, URAL and Electrojet.

I left the dealership shortly after 1315 hrs and almost three hours later, had made it safely home.  In spite of windy conditions, the rig performed in an excellent manner.  Good power, good acceleration and rock steady thanks to Randy's good setup of the sidecar and the steering damper that the new rigs come with.

There's stuff to be sorted out on the new rig of course, Randy recovered the heated grips for me so those have to be installed.  I have to see if the tachometer I had for Valencia will work with the new rig's spark plug cable.  A thermometer has to be installed of course and some tweaking of the windshield is in order; this is the same windshield that was on Valencia.

The break-in period is now 1000 Kilometers, and I went over 200 Km by riding her home.  So, it shouldn't take me very long to "break her in" but it'll more likely be after say 6-8000 Km before her full potential is realized as that how it is with these engines.

I am of course very glad to finally have the new rig home, the wait had seemed interminable at times; and I am not known for patience!

Another great URAL dealership experience at Unique Rides!  Their Factory Demo day is the 4th of April and there will be several 2014 URAL Sidecar Rigs available for test rides!  Don't miss this event!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Saint Patrick's Day Sunrise

Happy Saint Patrick's Day everyone.

It seemed less crowded on the ride into Downtown Denver today, perhaps some folks were still nursing hangovers from festivities this weekend in celebration of Saint Patrick's Day?

Riding in darkness has never been something I enjoy, so I welcome the lengthening days; more so when a nice sunrise is once again gracing Colorado's skies as I arrive safely downtown.

I took the elevators up to the 40th floor of the Republic Plaza building, the highest of the 56 floors comprising the tallest building in Colorado leased by Encana Natural Gas.

 The sunrise as I first arrived at the 40th floor, the corridor lights were as yet
unlit and so no window glare from inside lights.  Still, the camera caught
the exit sign's reflection, while I missed it.  In the end, I kept the photo as a
commentary on having to work in large cities and their downtown areas.

The building you see is the Wells Fargo "Cash Register" Building 

Brigitta is parked in the parking garage next to and underneath the
TIAA-CREF building.

On the 2014 URAL Patrol front, the shipping company reports the two crates destined for Unique Rides have been unloaded at their service center in Commerce City.  As Unique Rides, as most motorcycle dealerships, is closed won't be until tomorrow at the earliest before the crates are delivered.  I am thinking it'll be Thursday as scheduled.

Friday, March 14, 2014

2014 URAL Patrol is inbound...

The weather and motorcycling gods permitting, the 2014 Red/White Patrol is on the way to Unique Rides in Fort Collins, Colorado.  Finally!


03FEB: Invoice signed.  Expected ship date: 24FEB.

Snow-apocalypse ensues, at least that's what the East Coast was claiming as having messed up planned shipment schedules and logistics.  Shipment of two URAL Crates now delayed to 04MAR.

04MAR ship date missed.  Winter weather blamed.

10MAR ship date missed.

12MAR: URAL Crates finally head out from South Plainfield, NJ Service Center used by Old Dominion Truck Line.  Original pickup location: Carteret, NJ.  Confirmation notice and tracking info given to Unique Rides.  ETA (with heavy emphasis on the estimated part) is 20MAR14.

13MAR: Crates reported as "loaded out" in Carlisle, PA. at 11:00AM MTN.  It appears the crates containing the two URALs destined for Unique Rides are being "relayed" across the country so far.

14MAR: 12:24 hrs:  Shipments shows as "Closed out for Commerce City, CO".   I am assuming at this point, it'll be the same truck all the way to Commerce City, which lies in the NE portion of the Denver Metro Area.

19:23 MTN:  Shipment in Transit, Columbus, Ohio.

15MAR 0723 hrs: Shipment shows as arrived in Columbus, OH.  No actual time reported.

13:39 hrs: In transit to Edwardsville, KS

16:29 hrs: Reported as arrived in Saint Charles, MO, more than halfway to Edwardsville, KS.

16MAR: 0700 hrs: Went to bed last night with the tracking website saying "arrived in Saint Charles, MO", just checked and it says "arrived, Edwardsville, KS".

2003 hrs: Now enroute to Commerce City, CO.  Maybe the driver likes to drive at night.

17MAR: 0352 hrs: Shipment reported as "Arrived, Denver, CO"

0723 hrs:  Cargo being reported as "unloading, Commerce City, CO".  There it will sit today as Unique Rides is not open on Mondays.

19MAR: 12:51hrs: So, it's been over two days, now reported "sitting on the dock" in Commerce City.  I'm guessing the crates will sit there till tomorrow morning.

Appointment Scheduled:Set for 03/20/2014 from 10am to 4pm

20MAR: She's there!  Status: Delivered to UNIQUE RIDES INC on 20140320 at 121032 EST

Updates as I get them.

Note: you can access the status page I am using to track this shipment: LINK

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review: NoNoise Motorsports Hearing Protectors

Rating: Great for blocking Wind Noise!

I recently had a chance to review a pair of NoNoise Hearing protectors which are distributed by

Source: LINK

I'd read about them on a different motorcycling news site and had contacted them to ask for a review pair.
For the testing, I rode Brigitta, my '87 R80 BMW motorcycle, with its minimalist (read non-existent) wind protection over several days to test these protector's ability to block wind noise.

I am happy to report these protectors do what they advertise, all wind noise was blocked to the point that I would just hear "gentle breeze" noises while riding at highway speeds on windy days.  It was quite the welcome relief, as the micro sonic booms one hears in one's helmet not only damage your hearing but make you tired at the end of a long day's worth of riding.

Comfort-wise, I was also pleased.  Though you do feel and know you've got earplugs in, they didn't hurt after several hours and were easy to remove.  Note, these ear plugs seat snugly and don't stick out at all from your ears.

The material used was soft with a slightly grippy texture which made them easy to use.

I could still hear my engine's noise though it was attenuated somewhat and normal traffic sounds such as vehicles coming up behind or to the side of me were easily discernible.  You can carry on a conversation but as with most ear plugs, I ended up asking the other person to speak up a little.

Still, wind noise is what I was seeking to block and these protectors deliver!  Other less expensive ear plugs also block wind noise but also block everything else in my experience.

For the product's press release, just click on the link below the picture for more information.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Sunny Sunday Riding with Stewie

Spring may still be a few weeks off but you could swear it had arrived today in the great state of Colorado.

The morning and early afternoon were spent applying weatherproofing stain to the new gate we recently had installed for the back yard.  Now I can easily wheel the trailer onto the back yard, freeing up half a bay in the garage!

Three P.M. arrived and temperatures were in the high 60s (F) and Stewie begged me to take him out for a ride.  How could I say no?

Geared up, though I didn't wear the riding pants, just jeans.  First though, a peek at the snowy conditions we woke to on Saturday, as mentioned before, the snow didn't stick to the roads, mainly on the lawns and such.

Next, we wandered over to the Travois Development, stopping at the overpass stretching over the E-470 super slab on Ireland Street.

Mount Evans was pretty clear in the distance today, 
I of course, didn't have right camera with me.....

Transiting through the Travois development, I turned onto Inspiration Drive and headed east a short distance, turning south onto the ranching neighborhood to the south of Travois, it's name escapes me at the moment.  There's a spot near the junction of Forest Canyon Drive and Sand Creek Road which lends itself well to view of Mount Evans and nearby mountains.

Stewie of the West

I turned north towards home but first spent some time wandering about the grassland hills near the Aurora Reservoir.  Conditions were slight muddy at points but nothing Stewie couldn't handle with only the occasional use of my feet as outriggers.  The only bad thing was that swine are using the land as a dumping ground, a lot of swine by the amount of junk that had been dumped here and there.  Such a shame.

The Front Range Mountains from near the
Blackstone Country Club

After we safely got out of the grasslands and its muddy trails, Stewie and I headed for home using Smoky Hill Road briefly to get to a point west of Southlands Mall.  Then it was back roads all the way home, in great riding conditions; as evidence by the plethora of Harley owners riding about sans helmets or riding gear for that matter.

27 miles worth of exercise for Stewie, and a way for me to "rest" from weatherproofing the gate today.  That particular chore took about five hours.....I must get a paint sprayer for my next task, weatherproofing the small deck next to the kitchen.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Valencia is repaired and for sale.

I got a text message from Darrell S this morning as I worked around the house.  He and his 2014 Patrol, Babe, were at Unique Rides in Fort Collins.  There is an updated "configuration" for his Patrol's Electronics Control Unit (ECU) (still find it hard to imagine a URAL with an ECU) which is supposed to improve performance so Babe was getting it installed by the dealer.

Anyways, the reason Darrell texted me was to tell me he'd seen my 2011 Patrol, Valencia, sitting pretty in the dealer's lot.  She was next to Yoshie, my 2006 Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom/Dauntless Sidecar rig, though neither sported a price tag yet.

I asked Darrell for pictures and this is what he sent along:

Valencia and Yoshie

This post finishes what this previous post started in terms of reporting status on Valencia's condition.  She's got a rebuilt engine, all her other components should be fine.  I am sure she'll be a fun machine for whomever eventually buys her.  I think Randy, of Unique Rides, is planning on separating Yoshie from the Dauntless Sidecar and selling them as separate units if she doesn't sell easily.

I went for a ride today on Brigitta, my '87 R80 BMW Airhead, an 80 mile loop through Parker, Wolfenberger Road to CO105, North to Sedalia and then US85 to County Line Road which took me home.  Sorry, but didn't see a single instance for picture taking, the sun was bright and harsh, washing out what little color there was around here.

Typical Colorado winter day, snow overnight leading to snow-covered lawns but not much sticking to the roads, which is why I was able to ride this afternoon on dry roads.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

2014 Patrol delayed

Just got word from Tammy of Unique Rides, they won't be shipping the rig till this coming Monday, 10MAR14.  As I feared, the east coast's winter weather is has screwed up logistics.  Sadness ensues.....

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Early March Sunrise

While the east coast is apparently being pummeled by yet another winter storm, we here in Colorado woke to balmy temperatures (mid to high 30sF) and mostly clear skies.  There is some moisture predicted for late this evening but it doesn't sound like its going to be much.

The skies were turning a gorgeous orange/red color in Brigitta's rear view mirrors so I had to stop during my commute into downtown Denver to take these pictures.

 Colorado Sunrise

Mount Evans in the early morning...

Sorry I've not posted much of late, I've been riding my '87 BMW R80, Brigitta to work when I can; caging it in Milli the PT Cruiser when I can't.  As the days lengthened, I would approach and pass the usual picture spots for sunset pictures with the sun too high in the sky; and during the morning ride in, there'd been some light but not enough to take pictures was pretty good in terms of lighting, don't you think?

Speaking of weather, I hope the current storm hitting the east coast doesn't delay the departure of the 2014 Patrol I ordered.  It's supposed to leave the warehouse in New Jersey today.