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A local motorcycle enthusiast's look at motorcycles, motorcycle gear and anything that goes into enjoying a ride — including where you can find the stuff in our area.

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Posted: September 17th, 2012

Wow, I’m just so excited about this bike – it’s why I have written about it I”ve been busy riding it and getting through the brutal break-in period.  Triumph conveniently tells you (right on the tank) what revs to limit the bike to at different mileage.  So for the first 50 miles you limit it to this RPM, the next 50 miles to that.  Right now I’m at 300 miles so I can FINALLY get to 6,000 RPM – which is still sooo frustrating, hehe.  This being my first new bike in many years though I plan on breaking it in properly so that I can keep it for many more.  The 5,000 RPM limit kept it just a hair under 80 – I can’t wait to see how much speed the extra 1,000 RPM will give me, hehe.

So far I’ve added the aforementioned bar-end mirrors and fly screen – and last week Stephanie from Triumph of Erie called to let me know my tailbag was in.  This tailbag is really cool as it simply sits on the passenger portion of the bike and is easily removable.  What I like best about it is that it’s not really that noticeable, and if I do want to hold it instead I can take it off in a flash, even use it as a backpack.

Posted in: Motorcycles, Other
Posted: July 6th, 2012

I stopped in at the new Harley Davidson of Erie location on 12th Street near the airport yesterday not once but twice – I just couldn’t get enough.  First I stopped off just to check things out.  There was a great crowd, and bikes everywhere.  The dealership had their new and used bikes on display and just as awesome were all the riders’ bikes parked out front.  Seemed like everyone was making this an occasion.  I think everything is better about the new dealership than the old – more bikes and more space to view them, seems like they have much more gear on display, parts area is a lot easier to navigate.  I also really love that they have conference type areas for HOG meetings and such – I think that this will be great for local riders.  Service is over on the side, and one thing that hasn’t changed is how helpful David is down there.  On my second after-work stop I listened to him talk to an older couple about buying his first Harley.  They were mesmerized as he spoke with pride – he’s still got that bike twelve years later.  His quote to them was something like “If you’re half as happy with your Harley as I’ve been with mine…”  I didn’t quite hear the last part but they were smiling.  I think the salespeople should give him a kickback, lol.  Anyway after he was done with them I talked to him about a new exhaust I am looking into for my 2010 Fat Bob.  I currently have a Vance and Hines Big Radius 2 into 1 and I love it.  It, in combination with a HD Heavy Breather Air Cleaner Kit, Andrews 48h Cams and a Dynojet Power Vision and a custom tune by Eric over at Horsepower, Inc., makes for a tremendous upgrade in performance at a very reasonable cost.  I’ll be talking about that in more detail in the next few weeks but for now I’m thinking about switching from my Big Radius to a Vance and Hines Big Shots Staggered.  I know, I know – I’ll lose power going from a 2-1 to a 2-2, but this one supposedly has a “Power Chamber” that helps reduce some of the loss.  A few less HP with a really sweet look and sound should be worth it.

Make a long story short – I asked David about the pipes and he looked in the back to see if they had any bikes with the Big Shots – he did, let me listen and now that I’ve heard them I love the sound so I’m probably going to go for it.

I’m going to head over to the Harley of Erie again this weekend to check things out.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Ride safe,

Rob

Posted in: Other
Posted: June 28th, 2012

What to wear?

Full on leather chaps over my jeans?

Armored Kevlar bodysuit?

Shorts and flip-flops?

Jeans and an armored motorcycle jacket are what usually do the trick for me.  Not those paper thin fashion jeans either but thicker jeans that make me at least feel a little protected.  Yeah it’s not quite the same level of protection as the other (first two lol) options but it’s better than what I’ve seen a lot of riders wearing.

The thing is I want a little bit more but I want something that I’ll wear all the time.  I already have chaps and an Iron Man riding suit – they get used once or twice a year and go back into the closet to wait another year.  For me the solution is motorcycle specific jeans with some sort of abrasion resistance in them, in this case Sliders 4.0 jeans from Competition Accessories.

The jeans are just a part of their Sliders collection of affordably priced gear and for a little more than a pair of name brand jeans – $79.99 in this case – you get a pair of jeans with Kevlar abrasion protection in key areas.  This being their fourth version the pants were extremely comfortable and I’ve been wearing them just about every time I ride, other than work.  They also have armored Khakis, which are very interesting to me to wear into the office.

Back to the jeans…  What I really like about them is that they look pretty much like regular jeans.  Could they be a cooler shade of blue, more like fashion jeans than work ones?  Sure I guess, but they aren’t that bright blue jeans of my childhood so I don’t mind the look at all.  The most important thing to me is that in addition to providing good protection at an affordable price they are comfortable, and other jeans I’ve tried – such as early offerings from Icon – were bulky and stiff, particularly in the armored areas.

They run a little big – and I’ve put on like ten pounds in the last six month – so I would try going maybe one size down from your normal.  Talk to their excellent customer service team though; they’ll be able to steer you right.

In the end any protection is better than none, so if some armored jeans help you out on a slide then they’ve earned their pay.  Good luck with your choice and ride safe.

Posted in: Other, Riding Advice
Posted: May 18th, 2012

I’ve never really been one to listen to music on my bike.  Never really felt the need to talk to my buddies or listen to my passenger with the exception of a signal to stop.  Given all that I wasn’t too particularly excited about reviewing bike to bike communicators like the Cardo Scala Rider G4, Sena SMH10 and Chatterbox XBi.  I mean I can appreciate that they make things convenient, but beyond that I didn’t really need one.

You’re probably getting used to this by now but boy was I wrong.  Being able to listen to music is cool, but what really gets me is the ability to warn my riding mates about the road ahead (or just as good be warned) and the simple shared appreciation of a beautiful day.  I’m not saying we jabber back and forth but it made a 3 hour ride to Pittsburgh feel like 20 minutes.

The one I’m going to talk about today is the Cardo Scala G4.  The Powerset comes with everything you need for two set-ups.  The retail cost is $489.95 but you can get some great deals on it if you shop around.  Yeah I know the G9 is out, and it looks amazing with its ability to add up to 8 riders and a range of 1 mile, but the G4 is a brilliant piece of engineering all by itself, even if it pairs up with fewer communicators.   (Check out the Cardo video at the bottom of this post)

The G4 was extremely easy to set-up, and connected to my helmet very easily as well.  The sound quality was excellent and it even has a built-in FM transmitter.  I was able to listen to the radio as long as I wanted to and then switched over to my iPhone when I got sick of what was playing.  The G4 also connects to GPS (I want one!!!) and you can supposedly hear the directions over the speakers, which I’m sure you can since it delivered on everything else.

The most important feature, as I mentioned, is the intercom.  With the G4 you have the ability to pair up a few different ways.  For me the best would be 3 riders, but you can also do 2 riders and 2 passengers.  Good news is you can also set it up so that the passengers can just talk to each other, which is great if you just want to enjoy the ride a bit and let them do the planning.  They say the range is a mile – I got a little over a mile on a beautiful day and no interference, but somewhat less in the hills.  I think even half the range would be enough – if you get lost you can just pull over and switch to cell phone and find your buddies.  The sound quality was excellent as well – these things have come a VERY long way.  I remember the early ones that were functional but sounded like the NYC subway system.  Customer service is also excellent – they really stand by their product.  I had some questions during install and set-up and they were fast, helpful and genuinely concerned.

I definitely recommend this unit – you can order a set or two at the local Harley shop www.hderie.com, ask for John since he already looked everything up to make sure.

Thanks for reading and ride safe.

Posted in: Other, Reviews
Posted: December 23rd, 2011

Snow, really?

So this year I’ve been able to ride my bike a lot later in the season than other years, but sadly I know it’s all about to end. Last weekend we got a glimpse of what the weather is supposed to really be like and with snow on the horizon it looks like bike season is almost over.

Need Tires?

Check out www.michelinman.com, which has an innovative new tire selector that guides you to your decision based on driving style.

That all said despite the fact that winter is over it doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be on the lookout for things that can help you; a big thing in that regards is the right winter tire. I actually believe in snow tires even in places that aren’t the sixth snowiest in the country, according to the Daily Beast’s 2010 report. The way I look at it is that snow tires are pretty much free, as long as you plan on keeping your car for a while. Yeah, that might sound kinda crazy but look at it this way… What season damages your expensive all-season tires the most? Umm that would be winter. The ice, salt, snow, potholes, etc – plus the increased chance of an accident – all eat away at all-seasons far more quickly than the other three, far more benign, seasons. So if you keep your car 100,000 miles and that would normally require 2 or three all-season replacements, then sneak in a winter tire there and the number of tire swaps should actually stay the same AND bring you safer road conditions. Oh yeah, the safety. It’s actually more important than the savings, truth be told… The tire I’ll be looking it is the Michelin X-Ice Xi2, a studless Ice and Snow tire that is aimed squarely at climates like ours. Sure I could have gone with a more performance oriented Michelin, like the Alpin, but the X-Ice is a tire that will be way more available for the cars that most of us drive.
Like I said I’ve always believed in snow tires – I just have never bought the Michelins because I thought they were a little pricey. They are among the more expensive snow tires out there – about $25 more a tire than the Blizzaks I usually get (on my car – in some cases the Michelins are the same price or even less), but I figured there must be a good reason why there were so consistently ranked number one.

The tires arrived straight from Michelin just in time for our first decent snow of the year last weekend. I got myself over to Dunn Tire on Peach and Adam was able to get me swapped out in no time. Maybe my old tires were lousy or worn, but I swear the X-Ice tires actually handle better on the pre-snow roads better; they handled and braked well, were rather quiet and didn’t negatively impact my gas mileage. The next morning though, when I awoke to about four to six inches (probably 3 inches; I always exaggerate that sorta thing) of snow I eagerly jumped in the car and went for a drive. Right off the bat I was VERY impressed. While I was aware of the snow I felt like the tires were helping me pull one over on the car. Acceleration was fine, predictable with no wheelspin, cornering was excellent and braking was superb. The Michelin X-Ice Xi2’s gave me a tremendous sense of confidence on the road that morning – I can’t wait for some deeper snow to try them out in that. When I got back home I took my buddy’s all-season equipped Prius (yep!) and took it out for contrast. Even though the Prius’ Yokohama Avid Touring’s are well reviewed for light snow, there was absolutely no comparison – none at all. The Prius – a normally very stable car and a fine automobile – shook and shimmied its way up the hill on Steretannia towards 90 and while we got back in one piece just fine it certainly wasn’t carving its initials in the snow.

I also compared it to the Blizzaks that I usually love. After testing out the Prius I drove a vehicle equipped with Blizzak WS70’s – a very, very good snow tire. As I have for years, I loved the characteristics of the Blizzaks. I have to say though that the Michelins were, in my opinion, better in most areas. Were they $100 better? I guess that depends on you. They handled better, stopped better and made less noise on dry pavement. I know the Blizzaks are almost untouchable in deeper snow so I look forward to comparing them a little more when the time comes but as of right now I am very comfortable with the Michelin X-Ice Xi2.

Michelin puts out extremely high quality tires. I love their High Performance Pilot Sport All Season, which is ideal for performance cars as well as their excellent Grand Touring tire, the Primacy MXM4. Now I can add another tire to the list of Michelins I would recommend freely – the X-Ice Xi2. Michelin (or their Ad Agency) is very smart in putting so much emphasis on safety and the importance of the passengers that ride in your vehicle. “Because so much is riding on your tires” – Michelin’s former catch-phrase (http://daryllang.com/blog/3196) – definitely speaks to me; in my size the Michelin would be less than the price of dinner for four more. It makes me think really…

Happy Holidays!

Posted in: Other

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