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Posted: February 28th, 2013

I was taking a look through my archives and came across this interesting post.  I think it’s pretty relevant because now is just a perfect time to do the kinds of upgrades I discuss.

 

Let me know what you think…

 

What I loved about my Fat Bob is that being a Harley the world is my oyster when it comes to customization.  I mean seriously, there are like a million different manufacturers, even small one-off places.  For example there’s Horsepower, Inc – where they make their own custom performance upgrades including a terrific air cleaner system.  I compared this against the stock air cleaner, a Harley Davidson Screaming Eagle Air Cleaner and the Vance and Hines VO2 NakedAir Intake, with a decorative cover that just reeked of quality.

They all had a significant improvement in power and responsiveness over stock, but I was happy to see that the Home Team did really well – it tied with the Vance and Hines for best horsepower improvement, and totally crushed the competition when it came to torque where the Horsepower V2 came in at a whopping 96 lbs compared to 93 for the Vance and Hines and 90 for the Harley.  Just to be fair, the Harley unit tested here was the entry level one and the Horsepower unit the priciest by quite a bit.  If you’re on a little bit of a budget, but want to get great bang for your buck the Vance and Hines comes in at $139.95 for the intake and you can re-use your cover.  Their rather splendid looking cover  comes in at just $50 and really does a good job of making the bike stand out.  If you’re like me and are itching to squeeze every ounce of performance you can out of your bike without having to shell out the really big bucks that an engine upgrade costs then I really do recommend the Horsepower unit.  They actually have two versions, so you can save a little if you go with their more basic one.

Did I go with the Horespower unit?

Well no I didn’t actually – but that’s because I’m in love with those forward facing bad-a$$ air intakes, like the Screamin’ Eagle Heavy Breather.  It’s a little pricey at $299 but the good thing is that it performs very well.  On a different Dyno than the other intakes, it came in second with 95 lbs of torque and first in horsepower.  I kept it on there for looks though – I just think it’s awesome looking.  But the fact that it’s near the top in terms of power certainly doesn’t hurt.

Forgetting about dyno sheets for a minute and talking about real world feedback all three intakes really make a heck of a difference.  I didn’t get to ride the Fat Bob with the Horsepower Intake but I rode a friend’s Street Bob and it felt really strong – as did the Heavy Breather that I did ride on my own bike.  The basic Harley air cleaner kit and the Vance and Hines kit both felt good, and again the Vance and Hines gets my cote for bang for the buck.  There were quite a few more upgrades done – we’ll talk about those in the next few weeks, but what really brought everything together was adding in a Power Vision by Dynojet and having Eric at Horsepower custom Dyno-Tune it.  I’ve used Eric and the team before on several bikes but this time he really outdid himself.  The difference was amazing and the bike ran cooler, smoother and more efficiently than before.

I chose the Power Vision over their Power Commander V for a couple of reasons.  First off the new Power Vision seems to be a lot more powerful than the PCV.  If I were to do the tune myself, which the PCV certainly makes easy, I’d probably go with that one.  Since I had the bike dyno tuned though I figured I’d go all out and get the Power Vision, which competes very well with Harley Davidson’s Super Tuner.  Whether you have a simple pipe, fuel manager and intake deal or you crack the motor open and get really busy a good dyno tune really gets things going.  The other key component I added in was Dynojet’s Autotune module.  This incredible product let’s me basically take Eric on the road with me wherever I go.  What I mean is that it learns from my riding style, environmental changes, etc, and auto-corrects the program.  Even better, if I add (or remove) any equipment it will learn from that too and get my map just right.  Dynojet states that you don’t even need to have a professional tuner work on your bike, but as far as I’m concerned the best starting point is working with a pro like Eric and letting the Autotune go from there.

Horsepower, Inc. is one of two (that I know about) Dynos in the area, with the other being at Precision Bikeworks.  I haven’t given them a chance yet as far as Dyno work goes, but I’ve heard good things. Either way dialing your bike in properly is a smart move and you’ll thank me for it if you do.

Next time we’ll talk about the exhaust upgrade and what an amazing improvement over stock it was in terms of both power and sound.  You guys voted for it – the Vance and Hines Big Radius 2 into 1.

The great things about all of the products I mention here today is that they are super easy to find locally.  Our sponsor, Precision Bikeworks/Triumph of Erie can get them, as well as many other places around town.

In the meantime be well and ride safe,

Rob

 

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 27th, 2013

 

Schuberth C3 Modular Helmet  

I’ve been thinking about this write-up for a long time now, not quite sure how to put my feelings into words that won’t sound too over-the-top.  It’s hard, you know.  You could read all the real serious reviews of  this helmet on the internet and get a little bit of understanding.  You could look at the big shoot-outs in different magazines and get a little more.  But to be brutally honest what you really need to do with this helmet is pick it up and wear it.  Since no one in Erie stocks it though I’ll tell you a little bit of what I can…

It started with Sarah Schilke, Schuberth’s North American Marketing and PR Manager.  She called me at my home, and we Skyped over my iPad.  That alone was super cool AND my first time, although I didn’t admit that to Sarah, lol.  For well over an hour she told me all about what makes Schuberth so special, from their building techniques to their quality control to their incredible customer service.  I felt really special, until I learned that the people at Schuberth do this for all of their customers if they need it.  Okay, maybe not to the same level but still.

At $699 the Schuberth C3 isn’t cheap.  But the level of comfort on it is incredible.  It is by far the most comfortable helmet I’ve ever worn, and their very clever retention system, that creates a sort of curtain around your neck, inspires confidence that should you fall your lid isn’t going anywhere.  It also has a built-in sun visor that works perfectly, and offers excellent visibility overall.

It’s also extremely quiet – quieter than my previous favorite full-face Bell Star and quieter than my buddy’s Arai.  According to some of the reviews I’ve read it’s one of the quietest helmets around, which is great considering you can also get it with an integrated communication system that fits in with the retention collar.  With this installed you barely notice the added weight, but you get a top-notch comm that works with the award winning Cardo Scala system.

Fit and finish of this helmet blew me out of the water too, along with the very light weight, especially for a modular.

Another area where this helmet distanced itself from the competition was ventilation.  Besides the fact that it would just not fog up (thanks to the pin lock visor) it kept me very cool in some very hot riding.  Frankly it had much better venting than any other modular I’ve worn, by a large degree.

I understand that $699 seems like a ton of money, but if you can swing it (or maybe skip a night out or two) this helmet will reward you.  Schuberth’s excellent warranty and customer service should mean that any problems you might come across will at least be addressed if not resolved the right way.  I’m dying to see their full-face helmets, like the S2 as well as an uber-helmet I keep hearing whispers about.

Schuberth also very thoughtfully makes this helmet in a Ladies’ specific version, the C3W - very smart as women represent so much of the growth in the hobby.

The closest store that you can actually try one of these on is BMW Motorcycles of Cleveland, over in Aurora.  They are only 77 miles away so it’s not too bad.  If your travels take you more often to Pittsburgh they carry them at European Motorcycles of Pittsburgh as well.  I’m hoping that one of the local dealers will start carrying them – we are lucky enough to have Off-Road Express carry Arai now so if someone else steps up and carries these that would be terrific.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: September 25th, 2012

I’ve had these boots for a little bit now – you might remember I used them on my ride back from Philly last fall when I
picked up my Yamaha Stratoliner S (a bike I’ll own again one day).  They were great, but one ride on the Turnpike wasn’t nearly enough to get a good idea as to their benefits.  Now that I’ve had a lot more time to evaluate them I can tell you that my first impression was actually rather conservative – these are terrific boots.  Extremely affordable at only $200 they offer features found on much more expensive boots, and fit and finish that is better than many more expensive boots.  What I really like about the boots is their water resistance and their level of protection in case of a fall.  The tread is great too, although I do strongly prefer a boot with a lug sole like normal non-riding boots tend to have.  That’s a personal preference though – these soles really do the trick and are long lasting to boot.

The only sad thing is that these boots are now discontinued, but I’ve tried on several of their other boots and they all seem to have the same terrific features that these do.  The ones that I would choose that seem to be most comparable to these are the Sidi Traffic Rain.  A little smaller and with that lug sole that I like.  You can get them at Motonation - they happen to be a great source for all sorts of cool, rather unique gear; Vemar helmets, AGV Sport jackets and race suits and more.

Ride Safe,

 

Rob

 

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 20th, 2012

My wife and friends think I’m nuts…

I got rid of my Fat Bob a few weeks ago.  Nothing wrong with it at all – in fact it really was terrific, especially given that I’d really individualized it so perfectly.  But ever since riding that 2012 Thunderbird Storm out to Cedar Point every little thing that bugged me about the Harley just became gigantic.  Plus there was that payment – I needed to figure something out so I could get a bike I loved but lose that monthly bill.  That’s why I went looking at the 2001 Speed Triple at Triumph of Erie.  I loved it, but the color wasn’t me and I really like the look of the newer ones.  Unfortunately they didn’t have any used ones, and at the time I didn’t think I could swing a new one so I picked up a sweet 2009 Speed Triple privately.  I have to say a lot of dealers would have been snarky about buying a bike from someone else but these guys made sure I knew that they appreciated me going with a Triumph, and that they would be happy to service it and help me get the parts I needed, etc.

That’s all well and good but here’s where the problem started:

A coupe of day later I noticed a weird noise coming from my bike.  I bring it down and Gary rides it, asks me about the chain and stuff.  On the weekend I clean it up, and the sounds is really minimized.  All good so far, right?

Well kind of, hehe.  Rich (The Boss) suggest I take out their brand new gorgeous Speed Triple R so I can hear if it makes the same noises.  What do I know?  I say “Sure!” like an idiot and take it up the road.

Holy S#$%!!!

First off it’s super comfortable.  Fits me better even than mine, and has more power to boot.  Handles great, stops amazing and looks killer – although I do prefer the old school round eyes on the previous gen Speedies.  And it makes the same noises, only not the chain one that went away.

I thank them, go on my way and ever since I just can’t stop thinking about it.  It’s like some sort of nightmare version of those mid 80′s Honda commercials.

Next time I’m in I asked Gary to give me a price on trading mine in and it’s sooo close I can feel it.  This would be the shortest I’ve ever owned a bike you know, but I keep telling myself it doesn’t count since it’s sort of like a do-over.

I’m going to review the bike in a few weeks, but that will just make things worse.  For now I’m shaking out all my piggy banks and avoiding any eye contact with my wife.

Wish me luck!

 

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 5th, 2012

It was so much fun that we went back on Saturday night with our families and had some of that great grilled food and some ice cold beverages.  I had a 12 ounce Ribeye, awesome baked beans, cornbread and coleslaw, the rest of the table ranged from burgers to chicken cordon bleu.  Food was good but entertainment was great; we got to enjoy Black Widow  performing for a bit – I would definitely recommend checking them out they were awesome.

Enjoy the summer and ride safe,

Rob

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: May 18th, 2012

The CRG Arrow has to be the hottest bar-end mirror I’ve ever seen. I’ve had the little round CRG’s before and they were great but everyone’s got them now. These are unique, have a better field of vision in my opinion and are of the same incredible quality that I’m used to seeing from CRG.

I made the mistake of ordering a cheap set of bar end mirrors off of eBay a while back, and sure they were a quarter of what these go for, but now they just sit in my parts bin collecting cracks. I should have just gotten the good stuff from the start Lesson learned.

Anyway, they are very easy to install: You can just slide them over the end of your bars and tighten them up – they sell adapters if you need to put them inside the bar opening instead of around it.

These guys are a little tough to find, but the manufacturer is terrific so here is their site: http://www.constructorsrg.com/. The closest local shop I could find is European Motorcycles of Pittsburgh. They are a great dealership and the parts and sales guys are really cool. At $109.95 each they are more expensive than most bar-ends, but this product is worth the extra few bucks.

Ride safe.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 7th, 2011

Check this site out – some pretty cool movies featuring bikes. My favorites on this list are Mad Max and Terminator 2. I wonder how many Fat Boys Harley sold because of how insane Arnold looked on the bike…

http://www.motorcycleinsurance.com/10-flicks-starring-awesome-motorcycles/

 

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: November 5th, 2011

Sometimes things don’t go quite as planned…

I was all ready to fly out to Wisconsin this morning to pick up my new (to me) Valkyrie and things just got scrambled up.

Financing, travel plans and a suddenly curious spouse all have thrown a wrench into things.  I’m still picking up a bike this weekend, and it’s still about 400 miles away, but instead of riding through the Windy City, it looks instead like I’ll be passing through the City of Brotherly Love.

And that Valkyrie that I fell in love with – the cool blue and white one with the six-pack pipes?  Well that’s being replaced with a bike 8 years newer and with more of the options that are conducive to riding longer distances.  You know, features like saddlebags, a luggage rack for storage, floorboards for comfort and better fuel economy.

I’m talking about a 2009 Yamaha Stratoliner S.

I think that this bike has all I need – it’s big and comfortable, handles extremely well and has a ton of power.  On paper it performs very similarly to the Valkyrie that had occupied my brain for the last three months.  Specifically, the acceleration and handling are similar; although since it is fuel injection, I won’t have to worry about the six carbs on the Valk suddenly going out of whack.

I actually found a very similar bike one right here in town at Off-Road Express and they were really helpful and friendly  It wasn’t a Stratoliner but was a Roadliner instead.  This is the same bike without the bags, windshield and backrest.

“Robo” helped me out once again (I’d taken a buddy there earlier this year to buy a Kawasaki Versys) and drove me a few miles to the warehouse to see it in all its dust-covered glory.  I couldn’t see much, but he was eager to have me ride it the next day.

When I arrived it was spotless and ready to go.  It rode extremely well and had lot’s of extras, like an after-market pipe and really beautiful chromed rims.  The color was gorgeous too – a beautiful two-tone red and black.  I couldn’t really concentrate on anything else that night, but after coming real close a few times I decided that the extra touring options on the Stratoliner were really important to me – in fact were the main reason I was buying a second bike.  Without those options the Roadliner was a beautiful bike, but it would be hard-pressed to garner any riding time sitting in my garage next to my Griso.

I have to say that Robo is a real pro – he followed up well without being pushy, made sure I was looking at a bike that could suit me, and spent time with me – I didn’t feel rushed even though it was near closing time.

Another great part about Off-Road is that the owner seems to make some sort of contact with everyone in his store, making you feel like more than just a number.

Anyway I know I could have added the bags, but adding another $2K onto a price that’s already more than the Valk was just didn’t fit into my plans, hence my red-eye…  I’ll tell you all about it after the ride back.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 16th, 2011

If you would have asked me ahead of time what my thoughts were on riding in formation, at 10 miles per hour (or less) with a million other bikes I probably would said “there’s no way”.  Add to that waiting in the hot sun for four hours on a parking lot listening to some cover band and you probably would have gotten an expletive or two.You know what?  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The “Bringin’ in the Roar” Bike Parade started in hot, sunny parking lot of the Presque Isle Downs Casino on Thursday afternoon to open the festivities.  Yeah there was a cover band – the M-80’s – and they were awesome. These guys really do a great job, keeping the songs true while at the same time putting a lot of themselves into it.

Everyone was hanging out, laughing, talking, showing off their rides.  So many different types of people.  You had your BMW dudes in their gear (loved it!) and your sport bike riders with their passengers in flip-flops.  You had some old classics and you had your cruisers.  And of course, you had your Harleys.  A sea of them in every size, shape and color.

I’ve had my share of Harleys and I love my Guzzi but after Thursday I’m getting the itch that strains my bank account but fills my garage with American Thunder.  If I can make it through the weekend I should be fine but it could be close.

It wasn’t just the people that were so interesting it was watching them interact.  There was Scott, the banker on his Sport-Tourer sitting right in the front line, talking to everyone and having a great time doing it.  His passenger had never been on a bike before that day and chose the Roar to be her first ride – awesome.  I met up with them later on and they had both had a blast.

Jim, a retired State Trooper was riding his Valkyrie with his son Jim, also on a Valkyrie.  I ran into my buddy Joe from MSF school (he’s now an instructor!) and his dad – these two were on a pair of very cool Harleys.  Joe was new school all the way, riding a VROD (that’s the Harley with the Porsche motor – seriously!) and his dad was in the other direction – his steed was a beautiful pearl white Heritage.  Joe’s wonderfully pregnant wife was there with their young boy supporting them till it was almost time to go.  There were so many more friends, families, colleagues that I could probably fill a book with them.  It was Erie. It was  America. It was great.

I was lucky enough to be in the first section after the Mayor and the other big-wigs, so we didn’t have to wait too long to get going.  I had thought the ride would be something special when I first saw the sea of bikes in the parking lot – it was that and more.

What made it even more special were the people lining the sides of the road waving and laughing as we passed.  Little boys clapping and screaming in joy and a sign asking us to honk for their 93 year old grandma all made me smile the whole time.  Capitalism at it’s best showed its face in the form of teens riding quads  up and down the first leg of the path selling water for a buck or two a bottle (and they collected the empties back too which was great).

We stopped for a while waiting for the beast that made up the rest of the pack to catch up and get lined up and then the fun really began.  We rode into town, people packed on either side of the street almost the entire way.  They cheered us on, waving Old Glory while we honked back and returned some high fives.  We arrived downtown and you all know the rest.  I sure hope the experts are right and this event is bringing $26 million into Erie, but frankly the impact of this event goes way beyond the money.

Next week I’ll be back to speaking about gear – I’ve been trying out three different gloves and I’ll share my findings with you.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 8th, 2011

I love bikes.  I love everything about them; from riding them, to talking about them, to buying them, and everything in-between.  I’ve been riding on and off for about twenty-five years, getting my start on a Suzuki GS 500 and working my way through just about every type of bike out there.  Looking back on all my rides, I have to say my favorites have been my Road King and my Triumph Speed Triple, with my current bike – a Moto Guzzi Griso – right there in the mix.

I love the Griso – it is not something that you see every day and it is an exceptionally fun bike to ride.  Sure it’s not as fast as the VMAX I had before it but it handles much better and it feels plenty quick.  Maybe I’ve finally grown up. but I would rather ride a bike to its limit than let it take me to mine.

As much as I love riding, what I really love is “The Gear.”  I can spend hours at a bike shop just looking at different products whether I need them or not.  One of the things I miss most about my Harley was how easy it was to spend a Saturday morning at the Harley shop.  I would browse through a catalog or explore the walls thinking of new things to do.

I still go there to buy the occasional non-Harley gear, but it’s not as exciting when it’s not there for you to try on.  I know many of my buddies feel the same way with gear that is not too readily available locally, so I’m hoping I can help change some of that for you.  My aim is to check out different products, from helmets, to gloves, to jackets, and more.

I’ll tell you some local places you can get them and even how they fit compared to more readily available items so that the risk in ordering before you try it on is lessened a bit.  I’m even hoping some of the better local dealers will let you swap out sizes without a re-stocking fee.

Posted in: Uncategorized

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