Sunday, May 27, 2012

Berkshire Big Adventure 2012

Last Sunday I participated in the Berkshire Trail Riders spring ride.  I have been wanting to do this ride for four years but something always got in the way.  This year I cleared the date months in advance.

A number of my friends did the ride but I rode primarily with Craig on a GS1200 and Bill on a Triumph Tiger 800.  I got separated early from a couple of other friends, Beemer Jim and Dr. Mike.  Two others, Andy and Chris, were concentrating on the hero sections.

I got in with a group of four other riders.  Besides Craig and Bill, I rode with Neil, whom I'd never met before, and Tom, who I'd corresponded with on  Tom came up to do the ride from Delaware.

We stuck to the main route (no hero sections), which was about 115 miles.  About 75-80% of it was dirt, but the paved roads were nice too.  There were only a couple of sections that I would consider challenging for bikes without knobbies.  These had mud, ruts or rocks.  The rest of the route consisted of gravel/dirt roads in isolated areas of the Berkshires.

By the end of the day we were pretty tired, but "good tired."  The bikes did great and there were no mishaps.  I made a couple of new friends and have some stories to share with the old ones too.

Here are some videos of the day:

 This is a 17 minute video of my entire day.

Getting Passed by a Pack of Enduros

Fighting through the Mud

Bannis Road, one of the best sections

I want to thank Vince, who laid out the route, and the rest of the Berkshire Trail Riders for putting on a first class event.  It was well organized and put me on roads I'd never been on before.  If you like adventure riding I highly recommend it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

GoPro Camera

As soon as I saw my friend Andy's GoPro Hero video camera I knew I wanted one.  For my birthday recently I got enough gift cards to finally make it happen.  A week ago the GoPro hero 2 finally arrived.

The GoPro is an extremely simple solution to something that I've strugged with for years:  how to get quality onboard motorcycle videos.  The GoPro only has 2 buttons, a power and a shutter button.  It took a little time to become used to navigating the menus but it becomes intuitive after a short time.  The Motorsports Edition has a number of possible mounts.  The clips use 3M tape and can be secured to helmets.  There is also a suction cup mount for getting video from all possible angles from your bike.  I had some problems with the suction cup at first.  It won't stick to any graphics and needs a totally flat surface to properly adhere.  I was able to put it on the side of the fairings and the rear fender with good results.

The quality of the video is amazing:  shooting in 1080 or 720p from such a small camera is incredible.  You have other options besides video.  You can shoot a photo burst (10 pictures in 1 second) or do some time lapse or single photo images.

I went out on the KLR a few times playing with the different mounts and video settings.  Here are a couple of youtube videos of the options.

My previous method of shooting videos was with a point and shoot digital camera.  The results were never satisfactory.  Here's one from a few years ago:

The videos are relatively easy to edit using Windows Movie Maker Live.  With unlimited viewing angles and high quality video the GoPro Hero 2 is a winner.

Tomorrow is the Berkshire Big Adventure ride and I'm looking forward to shooting a lot of video.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

60,000 Mile Spark Plugs

Last weekend I celebrated my birthday with friends on a three day weekend, riding around Scranton, Penna.  We had a great time and the VFR ran perfect, racking up another 800 miles.  We even met the guys from American Pickers at our hotel.

Mike told us that the day before he had scored a Vincent Black Shadow in Milwaukee.  Hard to believe.  I guess they were out picking in the area.  Mike was really cool, but Frank was kind of jerk.  I don't know if he was hung over or what but he was pretty non-responsive to anything we asked him.

It was a great trip, eastern Pennsylvania has some awesome riding:  long stretches of isolated roads and fast sweeping turns.  You can read the trip report here.

I had been meaning to change the spark plugs in the VFR, but didn't get to it until today.  The last time they were changed was in 2006 at 40,000 miles when the dealer did it. 

I was intimidated at first by the process, which is why the dealer did it 6 years ago.  The shop manual said to remove the side plastics as well as the gas tank.  I have small hands so I didn't need to remove anything; I just lifted the gas tank.

The plugs came out easy and the old ones still had the correct gap after so many years.

Buttoned the bike back up and it's running perfect with 101,032 miles on it.

Great Service From Whitehorse Gear

A few weeks ago I was out riding with friends when a weld broke on one of the arms of my SW Motech luggage racks.  We were just riding gravel roads, nothing too hardcore.  We stopped for a break and the bags seemed awfully loose.

I wasn't too broken up about it.

When I got home I checked through my receipts and saw that I had only bought the rack about a year ago.  WTH?  That shouldn't happen.  I emailed Whitehorse Press in Conway, NH, where I bought them.  The next day I got a personalized email from Jeff Adams, the Technical Advisor.  Within a few days I got another email from Jeff saying that a new rack was on its way, free of charge.

You can see on the old rack how the arm is just welded to the frame.
On the new rack you can see that it's has been modified to add a gusseted piece to that arm.  I guess there must be an issue with the SW Mototech racks. 
The rear arm also has a gusset added.
The right side rack is still the old style, so I'm curious to see how long it lasts.

A big thanks to Jeff and Whitehorse Gear.  That level of customer service is pretty rare these days and explains why I've been a customer for so many years.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

VFR Hits 100,000 Miles

I've been waiting for this day for several years!  I've been wanting to get a bike over 100,000 miles for a long, long time and it seemed like it took forever on the VFR.  I bought the bike in 2003 and in those first few years I was racking up nearly 20,000 miles a year.  At the start of the 2010 season I had 91,500 miles on it but enjoying the KLR and my inability to commute to work anymore really cut down on the yearly mileage.  Last year I only rode it 2,500 miles.

To make matters worse at 99,800 miles the VFR developed an issue charging the battery.  A month and $750 later, I got it back yesterday from the dealer.  I took a nice ride with my friend Craig and pulled into the garage yesterday evening with the odometer showing:

I spent last evening going over all my receipts and records I've accumulated over the years.  I was surprised to find that I'd spent nearly $9,000 maintaining and farkling out the VFR over the past 9 years.  This included 4 sets of chains and sprockets, 7 sets of tires and 33 oil changes.

Today I went out to finally put the 100,000th mile on the bike.

I wrote up some information on the bike and the miles on VFR Discussion, the best VFR website out there. 
click here

I've been thinking about selling the VFR, worrying about taking long, multi-day trips out of state on it.  But it runs great and I feel like the bike has a new lease on life.  It still runs smooth and strong and I don't have a clear idea what I would even replace the VFR with.

I'm taking it on a 3 day trip to Pennsylvania with friends in less than 2 weeks.  Can't wait.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

VFR Headed Home

Heard from the shop yesterday that the VFR has a bad stator.  It should be done on Friday or Saturday.  Looking forward to having it back again.  I miss the smooth power delivery and lack of vibration compared to the KLR.  I'm planning a trip to Pennsylvania in a month so it will be perfect for a long distance trip.

This weekend some friends and I are going to ride the Trans-Mass Trail so the KLR will still be getting some love.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Surveying Irene

I only had a couple of hours today to ride and managed to get a great one in.  I wanted to see how the reconstruction of Route 2 went and I found a few nice dirt roads to fill in the boring parts.

ADV Ride Report

The KLR might be the perfect motorcycle.  I can ride the daylights out of it on the twisty parts of Route 116 and tackle anything that counts as a road around here.  It allows me to see everything I want to.