Monday, September 07, 2015

Wounded Duc...

I went out for a ride with my buddy, B. I met him at his place and we left. Less than a mile out, I looked back and he wasn't behind me. That was odd, I thought. I pulled over, actually off the road because there was no shoulder, into a farmer's field, and called him. It turns out he had low pressure in his tire, so he turned around to reinflate the tire.

"No problem," I said. "I'll just turn around and meet you back at your place."

I started to go forward, paralleling the road, when all of a sudden my wheel caught a rut. The rut turned the wheel sharply to the left and down we went. To make matters worse, I was close enough to the road that,new hen I went down, the bike and I hit the asphalt,narthex than a soft farm field. Dammit!!!

I scratched up the left side, notably the mirror. Crushed on the glass side, scratched on the outside.

 The fairing saw some action as well...

 ...and the tank, which realy went down hard.

I aso managed to bend the shift lever; this is interesting because I learned this is supposed to happen. It bends so the shaft that leads to the transmission does not bend or break. Fortunately, I have a friend R. with a blow torch and some mad skillz... We will see how that turns out.

I also busticated the handguard. Of course, it had to be one with an ingrate turn signal, instead of a simple, cheap, black piece of plastic. We will see what my local body shop can do with this.

And, I snapped the end off the clutch lever, another part that is meant to "give" in a crash.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Different Bike, Same Place

The Bridges of Perry County:



Twenty-Third Psalm Ride

Twenty-Third Psalm Ride...

The Lord is my Shepherd;
I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You annoint my head with oil;

My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hand Made Shaving Bowl

I oredered this handmade shaving bowl from Nicole Pangas Ceramics on Etsy

 It arrived quickly and well packed for the safety of the product. The bowl is shallow, with ridges at the bottom to promote a quicker, fuller build up of lather. It is beautifully made, and has a really nice weight that holds in the heat when I am building the lather.

A couple of things I might do differently, in hindsight:
1. A deeper bowl to build up more lather without spilling over the sides. I am new to the whole "prper shaving" scene, so I know part of it is my own sloppiness. I am sure I will get better with this as time goes by.
2. A more varied glaze, just to make it more interesting. Nicole has some really cool stuff in her shop, for sure.
3. I'm still not sure how I feel about the handle. It allows me to really grip the bowl (good) but is diffficult to disengage when I am trying to put the bowl down (not so good). I suspect this, too, will get easier with time.

All in all, I would highly recommend Nicole. It's a great product with strong attention to detail. And, it's especially nice to support a small artist who is making a go of it. And, doing so in the USA, to boot.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

What I've Learned: Slow in, Fast out

When I started riding, I wasn't on what I would term technical roads very often. The turns were more of the long, sweeping variety. As a result, I could maintain speed through them, and even minor slowing got me through the curve.

As my riding progressed, I sought out twistier, more challenging roads. There are a lot of them here in South Central PA, and they meander through countryside, farmland, and alongside the hills that pass for mountains in my area of the state/country. At first, I thought the best approach to these corners was to let off the throttle and to apply the brakes. This slowed the bike down, and also moved the weight forward, giving a better turning feel. But in these more technical areeas, what I was finding was two things: First, I often came into the corner too hot, approaching at a speed that felt not quite as safe as it should be. Even with the braking, it didn't feel like I was slowing down enough to get the bike around, nd I found myself scrambling to make adjustments while I was in the turn. Second, when I went to accelerate out of the turn, the bike lugged because it didn't have a high enough RPM. The bike felt unnaturally heavy in those moments, not like it was going to fall over, but like it could. I was on a Suzuki SV1000, and the sport-bike nature kept me upright in those situations, in essence making adjustments for my lack of skill.

So I started trying to downshift. At first, I tried to do it in the turn, but that really didn't feel right.  I graduated to a Tiger 800, which is a much more upright bike, and the feel of the lean in the turn was much more dramatic from this perch. On the Suzuki, it felt like I was diving into turns nose first, whereas with the Tiger, it felt more like a tipping over and just riding around them. Interestingly, I also became much more aware of oncoming traffic, because that upright position puts your eyes up with them. Then, I read Keith Code's Twist of the Wrist and saw how downshifting BEFORE the turn sets the whole bike up. The weight shifts forward AND the RPMs are high. I just started tipping into corners, picking the best line, then accelerating out of them. It was like magic.

I'm on the Multistrada now, and I am still experimenting with this (How much brake? How many downshifts - I usually do two? What is the BEST line?). One of the surprises to me is just how far the lean can go. Watching sportbike riders, I think to myself I won't ever lean over to the point where I am scraping knees, footpegs, or bags. Nor do I want to do this. But, there are roads with which I am very familiar, and I have found myself leaning a bit farther into the turns, and actually experiencing that it is more comfortable to lean farther. The bike just WANTS to go in to the lean.

My focus, now that I am beginning to understand the physics of riding, is how to do it more smoooooothly. I have minimized adjustments in the corners, so the steering is less choppy and the turn is one fluid movement of the bike. It's not pperfect, but it's better. Also, the roll on of the throttle is getting better, because I am becomeing comfortable with wht the bike can do.

Smooth. Comfortable. In control. That's a nice turn.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


FARKLING is like eating potato chips. You can't do just one, and as way leads on to way, it's easy to lose track of time, space, and probably money as well, unil you hit the bottom of the chip bag. Or, your wallet.

The new windscreen solved some of the issues, but not all of them. The buffeting was lessened, though not eliminated, and a lot of the noise remained. One of my favorite sites for learning about riding is Adventure Rider, which features a fantastic forum for asking questions. I connected with Dave, who recommended Aztec Spacers, which create even smoother airflow through the screen by making it stand up straighter.

He actually had an extra set and sent them to me. For free. Because sometimes people are just cool like that. They just arrived, so I set about putting them on.
 Out came the Allen wrenchees...again, with the Allen wrenches!!!
The two larger spacers screw on behind the screen on the top, while the shorter one screws on the bottom, creating the more upright position.
Once I installed the spacers with a simple hand-tighten, I put the screen back on. The holes didn't match up (do they ever? Honestly?) and then just tightened the screen back on. It helped to do the top screws first, as they were a little harder to finagle into position. 

Then, the bottom one..
 You can see the space created by the Aztecs.
 Simple, elegant, easy installation.
The test ride was good. The buffeting is almost completely gone. A little toying with the top of the visor improved it even more, to the point where it is almost a non-issue. The noise is still there, but that too is reduced. I suspect most of that is from the wind coming over the space next to the bottom of the screen. There is a small area that angles up, creating a sort of wind ramp, and I think that it is this area that is letting the last of the noise in. 
I will eradicate it. I will win. In the meantime, a HUGE THANKS to Dave, and a few more gratuitous bike shots...


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Let the Great FARKLE Begin!

I have begun to FARKLE the Multistrada. FARKLE is a term that is a combination of function and sparkle, used by motorcycle enthusiasts to describe the add-ons that make a bike safer and more functional, especially for longer trips (A more recent adaptation of the tem turns it into an acronym for Fancy Accessory Really Kool Likely Expensive). These include lights, heated hand grips, and, in my case, a windscreen that will stop the insane wind noise and buffeting I experience at highway speeds. I had a rainy night and started the project.

From my first trip, I realized that I would have to do something about the noise and buffeting. The wind flowed around the stock screen and came together right on the nose of my helmet. After a bunch of research, I settled on an MRA Vario. It adjusts up and down, offers an additional lip to direct airflow, and looks good on the bike - Winner!

I grabbed the Allen wrench (I'm still not sure why so many of these things require Allen wrenches?) and got started taking the old screen off.

My dad was always a proponent of having a dish to put parts into, and you never realize how good that advice is until a screw rolls away or you're looking for that tiny washer. Of course, he also recommends plastic or metal, a lesson I must have missed.

Gah! She's naked (It's a term I just found recently, denoting bikes with no windscreens and also minimal farkling).
I took the new screen out of the package and was surprised to see it was actually smaller than my current screen. It is also wider, and apparently this width helps to alleviate some of the convergence effect I noted above. Also surprising was the no returns policy of Revzilla. Apparently, this is pretty standard with windscreens, which can get scratched in the installation process.

My father was never too keen on reading the directions, unless he got stuck, at which point he would reluctantly crack them open. I used to be this way, but putting together cribs and Ikea furniture, as well as seeing how well it's worked for my wife for the past twenty years, I have taken to cracking them open toward the beginning of a project. Notice I said toward the beginning, not at the beginning. Consider it a nod and wink to men and our planning process.

I don't know who wrote these directions, but if there was a death penaly for crappy directions, this person would be praying for an electrical outage. They were just awful, and as I said, I've put together Ikea furniture. The pictures were almost completely black, and the prose was non-existent: pretty much useless.
 Still, I got the screen on with a minimum of fuss (it's very intuitive, when you get right down to it) and waited for a dry day to go for a ride. There are spacers that, once you create them...
 ...and attach them, create a little pocket for air to flow up behind the screen.
 Fully installed, it looks pretty sharp.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Quick Spin up the River

I took a little ride up along the Susquehanna River, noodling back and forth across some back country roads. It was a beautiful day for it, sunny with reasonable temperatures and low humidity. I stopped off at the Rockville Bridge, which is still the world's longest stone masonry railroad viaduct at 3,820 feet long. It was built in the early 20th century, mostly by Italian immigrants, and remains a unique piece of engineering architecture.
This is actually a nice place to stop, with beautiful, old growth trees creating a cooling canopy over the little park that sits there.
I took a couple of quick pics and hit the road for home.