Tag Archives: tips

Update – Good Gear Makes For a Good Motorcycle Ride

Olympia-Airglide-3-Mesh Jacket-Neon-Yellow-Men

On September 14th I posted about a pair of Olympia’s Airglide 3 Jackets we bought to replace several leather jackets we owned and why we chose the Olympia jackets over the many offerings from other jacket manufactures. Since we hadn’t had a chance to put any miles on them I promised to give y’all an update when we returned from our Harrison, Arkansas trip. So here goes…

We rode 2035 miles through rain, wind, temperatures as low as 45 degrees and as hot as 95 degrees. Someone commented that in heavier rain the mesh in the outer shell of the Olympia jackets tends to get pretty soggy. So in heavy rain we opted to wear our rain suits.

Janet and I both were very pleased how well the jackets preformed on our ride. The jackets did everything Olympia advertised them to do. In cooler weather we stayed warm. When the temperature climbed into the 70’s we removed the liners and stayed cool. When we returned to Texas the temperatures reached into the 90’s. The low 90’s were bearable wearing the jackets. When we were moving we had good air flow but when it reached the mid 90’s we removed the jackets after riding through larger towns with many traffic lights. When sitting at the lights with our jackets on it did get hot. When it gets that hot, riding nude won’t give you relief from the heat. Besides sunburn would be more uncomfortable.

We also like all the pockets the jackets have. We are still discovering all the pockets and other features of the jackets. We may have to update this post again…

Larry Talley a friend riding with us gave us a good tip that worked well. Instead of attaching the liner to the jacket, it is easier to put on the liners and then put on the jacket. It is much easier and quicker putting on the gear that way.

All in all it was a good ride… Great scenery, great friends, great weather and great gear made for a great ride.

Ride safe and we hope to see you on the road somewhere…

Good Gear Makes For a Good Motorcycle Ride

Olympia Men’s Airglide-3 Jacket Neon Yellow

Olympia Women’s Airglide 3 Mesh Jacket Neon Yellow

Good Gear Makes For a Good Motorcycle Ride – If you are like Janet and me, we have filled a closet with leather riding gear (i.e. Jackets and Chaps). It is good gear and has served us well… but there is one problem with all that leather. It’s big bulky and takes up a lot of room on the bike. If you are wearing it there is no problem but we live in Texas which can be very hot but when we ride north or to higher elevations the temperatures can be much cooler or even very cold and we need that gear. So we need to be prepared for the cooler weather and carry all that bulky leather gear with us which limits what else we are able to carry on the bike.

Since my accident I am always thinking about safety and protection and wearing armor just makes sense.

We have been looking for a good solution to the above issues and have found a jacket that will meet all the above needs. We haven’t had a chance to put it to the ultimate test yet but will when we ride from  hot temperatures in Texas to cooler temperatures in northern Arkansas in a few days.

We did a lot of research. We found several jackets with similar functionality and cheaper prices. The jacket we have chosen is the “Olympia Airglide 3”. We kept coming back to this jacket. It fit us well and everything seemed to function well together.

Enhanced function and versatility are the key elements offered in Olympia’s Airglide 3 Jacket. Heat, wind, rain and cold are no match for this cutting edge style. Constructed in authentic Cordura fabric with ballistic nylon mesh panels, this jacket offers maximum airflow with superior abrasion resistance. For added safety, Airglide offers double rows of 3M Scotchlite piping at the chest, back and sleeves. Equipped with a sporty two stage, wind and waterproof, Thermolite insulated liner jacket, this style delivers the ultimate in multi-season riding comfort.

Features:

  • Outer shell constructed in 500 denier Cordura fabric with ballistic airflow mesh panels
  • Removable CE approved Motion Flex armor at elbows and shoulders
  • Removable CE approved Motion Flex articulated back protector
  • Cool mesh airflow lining
  • Custom Fit detailing at collar, cuffs, elbows and waist
  • Comfort neoprene framed collar
  • 3M Scotchlite reflective piping at front, sides and back
  • 8” connecting zipper for pants
  • Five storage pockets
  • Two stage waterproof liner jacket: Sturdy wind and waterproof-breathable rip stop nylon shell with removable Thermolite insulation, rib collar, two waterproof zipper pockets and interior cell phone pocket

The advantages for us are we can wear the outer jacket during heat, add one or both inter liners as they are needed. The two liners are easily fold and store well without taking up much space.

We will update this post when we return, so check back see how we and the jackets did.

Ride safe…

Here is the update on how the jackets did.

 

Help, my bike has fallen and I can’t pick it up!

Help, my bike has fallen and I can’t pick it up! There an app for that… No not really but there is a helpful trick.

There are two kinds of people who say they have never dropped their bike. 1) They haven’t been riding long or 2) THEY ARE LYING. Ride long enough and you will drop your bike. It happens to the best of riders. With the weight of the big bikes these days you will eventually lean the bike past the point of no return and it is going down. There are two bad things that happens whenever you do drop your bike… 1) You have to pick it up and… 2) IT IS EMARRASSING. It just doesn’t look cool and all bikers are cool… why else would they ride?

Sometimes there isn’t anyone around so it isn’t embarrassing but it does make you mad at yourself. NOW, how do I get this many hundred pound (900+ pounds for the Goldwing I ride now) beast back upright by myself? Fortunately you are not picking up the full weight of the bike. Hopefully your bike has a low center of gravity (my Goldwing does). One of the problems is finding places to grab hold of on the bike to pick it up. You need someplace strong enough to hold the weight. I usually grab the handlebar and the pillion grab rails. Hopefully you can get a good hold with your back to the bike. You can do it facing the bike but its easier with your back to the bike…With your back to the bike you can do the lifting with your legs. Most people can get her up… especially if the adrenaline has kicked in.

I mention a trick earlier. Here it is… This makes a world of difference. Rather than explain… Here is a good video demonstrating the technique.

As you can tell I HAVE dropped my bike… I have lost count the number of times and on several occasions I did have to pick it up by myself. I’m 5’6” and weight 145 pounds and older than dirt, so if I can do it I’m sure you can too.

I have had one person tell me that when he gets a new bike he lays it down in the grass and practices picking it up by himself so… when it does happen he will know what works best on that bike.

Well I hope this helps when the inevitable does happen and it WILL happen!

Ride safe…

P.S. For a laugh… Things can go wrong. How not to do it… Practice makes perfect.

 

What Motorcycle I Ride and Why

Someone is always asking me what motorcycle I ride and why. I’ve owned only 5 two-wheeled vehicles (1 scooter & 4 motorcycles). My first was a 1963 Cushman Super Silver Eagle motor scooter. I loved that scooter and had a blast riding it and it ignited my love of riding. Later in my late 20’s I bought a Kawasaki 250 and rode it for a few months. I soon wanted something bigger. A friend was riding a Honda 450 and I wanted something like that. I bought a new 1975 Kawasaki KZ400. I rode the wheels off of it. I took two long trips (Dallas, Texas to Denver, Colorado – 1837 miles & Houston, Texas to Bryant, Alabama – 1650 miles) on the KZ400. From those two trips I was hooked on motorcycle touring. But… not long afterward I got married and sold my KZ400 when our first daughter was born (the sale helped with the hospital bill). It wasn’t until 2000 that I was able to renew my passion for riding and touring. I told my wife I would like to get another motorcycle and she said “You should… You never buy anything for yourself”… And the rest is history.

Cushman Super Eagle

Me and my Cushman Super Eagle

What I Ride and Why

What I Ride and Why

Not my Kawasaki 250 but one like it…

What I Ride and Why

My KZ400 ready to go to Alabama…

What I Ride and Why

My 2000 Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad.

Seat Height

It was then I started looking for the perfect touring motorcycle. There were many bikes to choose from but there were a lot of things to consider. As a vertically challenged person (5’ 6”) there are issues. There are advantages to being short but not very many and when it comes to motorcycle riding there aren’t any… So I am jealous of you taller riders… In order to handle the bigger touring bikes you as a rider need to be able to get your feet solidly on the ground.

  1. A must for balance.
  2. A must to pushing the bike backward.
  3. A must for passenger mounting and dismounting.
  4. A must for stopping on uneven ground.

At this time seat height was my main concern and thus a limitation for several of the bikes I looked at. The weight of the bike was not an issue for me as long as I had my feet firmly planted. I decided that a seat height of 29” was a maximum height for me and that was pushing it.

I learned this from riding larger bikes of friends and checking out the different bikes in showrooms. My best friend an old Air Force buddy bought a 2000 Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad. I had ridden his bike and it was a good fit. I had looked at other bikes… mainly the Yamaha’s and the Kawasaki Voyager. I had thought about the Honda Goldwing also but the Nomad had everything I wanted and was reasonably priced. I purchased a 2000 Nomad in July of 2000.

Nice and Necessary

I loved the Nomad and over time found all those things I thought to be “nice but not necessary” were “necessary and not nice to not have them”.

Namely…

  1. A large comfortable seat and backrest for my wife. Nobody’s happy if the wife is not happy… Just kidding… I realized long ago as a rider you need a good seat if you are in the saddle very long. I like having my wife ride with me and I would do anything to insure that she continued riding.
  2. A trunk. Duh, you can never have too much storage space especially when traveling with the love of you life.
  3. An intercom for rider & passenger. It wasn’t long that Janet & I bought an intercom to solve the problem of communicating.
  4. A CB. When riding in a group and everyone but you has a CB radio it doesn’t take long to figure out a CB is essential.
  5. A weather radio. This is a “duh” after riding very long. Not knowing for sure what those dark clouds up ahead have in store for you. With the weather band you can find out and take action if needed.
  6. A GPS. I thought this was stupid even in a car but after Janet got me one for Christmas, it didn’t take long to realize the need. Especially when riding through large cities and towns you aren’t familiar with. It also helps find gas stations, motels… etc.
  7. AM/FM radio & CD player. Sometimes it is just nice to listen to music.  You can also get local weather information. Don’t get me wrong, riding with nothing but the hum of the engine and wind is nice too.
  8. A larger gas tank. When riding in remote areas like West Texas where gas stations are few and far between and sometime not open when you need them, a larger tank for longer cruising range is a must.

Having realize all of the above, I began looking for solutions. I loved the Nomad but it was lacking. My solution was to add after market products. The products I added are…

  1. Radio Caddy Batwing Fairing.
  2. AM/FM/CD Marine radio.
  3. CB radio with intercom and ability to integrate other audio equipment. (AM/FM/CD radio & GPS)
  4. GPS.
  5. Tour Pack Style trunk with Mustang backrest.

What I Ride and Why, 2000 Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad

My customized Nomad

What I Ride and Why, 2000 Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad

My customized Nomad in Big Bend

These addition served us well but what I really wanted was something more like a Honda Goldwing. These additions were invaluable but only delayed me buying a new bike with “all of the above”.

Center of Gravity

Over time I realized another consideration was the bike’s center of gravity. When stopped a high center of gravity means the point where you lean and drop the bike is slight. Dropping a bike is no fun… 1) You have to pick it up and… 2) IT IS EMBARRASSING! The center of gravity also affects how the bike handles at slow speeds. Like when maneuvering through parking lots and tight places. The lower the center of gravity the better it handles…

The Solution

My search for a solution, to all of the above issues, kept bringing me back to the Honda Goldwing. It had everything. All the “Nice and necessary” things mentioned above plus heated seats and grips and a reverse ( no more issues with pushing the bike backwards out of a parking spot)! My biggest issue with the Wing was the seat height of 29.1”. Before buying a wing, I looked at ways of lowering the bike or reducing the seat height. I could stand straddle of the bike flat-footed with my boots on but there wasn’t a lot of room for error. Lowering the seat or bike seemed the solution. The other issue was the price vs. some of the other bike offerings. On returning from one of our trips we stopped a the local Honda dealer here. My friends from Alabama and Georgia told me I could get a good deal from the Honda dealer (Southern Honda) in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Later I check their prices online and they were a lot cheaper. Thousands cheaper. Thus the wheels were turning and I looked at ways to make it happen. In October 2009 I bought a new 2008 Honda Goldwing from the dealer in Chattanooga. I will probably never own a better bike.

After I bought the Wing, I found the seat height hasn’t been that big of a problem. The seat height is still stock. It would be nice if the seat was lower but I am fine with the way it is. The Wing has a very low center of gravity that translates into amazing handling. The “horizontal six” is the smoothest ever and it has lots of power for mountain riding. My wife loves her seat and we both love the heated seats. I thought I would miss the floorboards or the heel/toe shifter but I don’t. I did raise and bring back the handlebars a bit which fits me better. I added the CB and a MP3 player and other things for touring. The Wing is one great bike for traveling and we look forward to making many long trips on it.

What I Ride and Why

My baby…

We have done many long rides on the Nomad and Wing. You can read about them here. Ride safe… I hope we see you somewhere on the road…

Long Distance Motorcycle Touring Tips

Just sharing some of the long distance motorcycle touring tips we have learned over the years. In 2002 we rode to Big Bend National Park. This was the first long ride for Janet and only my third. On my first two trips I was much younger and the only thing I planed was the date of the ride. This ride was much different because…

  1. We had to pack for two people.
  2. I didn’t want any surprises since this was Janet first and hopefully not last long ride.
  3. Last but not least, there are limited gas stations and they are few and far between in West Texas.
  4. The accommodations are also few and far between. During the busier times reservation should be made a year in advance. It is always a good idea reservations when traveling in remote areas.

We learned a lot on that ride and because planning made the ride go fairly smoothly I have been planning every ride down to the last detail. I always want to know where we will be and the distances in between. We are still learning better ways and methods and reading everything we can find about touring. Below are some of the things we have learned and hopefully they will be of good use to you and yours.

Planning

As we have gotten older we are learning we have limits and you should know yours as well. Don’t make your first long ride a week. Start out doing on weekend or long weekend trips. You will learn a lot from those trips and you can extend those beyond your comfort zone. Unfortunately we have made a few rides with too many miles and not enough days. Learn your limits. When riding with others don’t let a marathon rider push you beyond you comfort zone.

Long day rides will help you learn what mileage you can handle before fatigue sets in. Fatigue and concern about getting there before ____ (you fill in the blank) causes you to make bad decisions or react inappropriately to your riding situation. Ride as much as possible before a long trip to get you prepared physically and mentally for what is in store.

I’ve found you can never do too much research. I use various online route planners to come up with approximate mileages between via points. These planners can also show you where restaurants, motels and gas station are located. In places like West Texas it is a good idea to call ahead to verify they are still there and find out their hours of operation. You don’t want to get to Marathon, Texas after everything has closed!

Weather is another very important part of your trip. You can’t control it but you need to be prepared for it. When traveling long distances the weather at home can be completely different from where you are going. In Colorado for example the mountains can be really cold even in the summer and they can even get snow! I always check the weather averages and records for the dates of our trip at http://www.weather.com/ for several points along the way.

Always consider when to take the trip. Seasonal weather and tourism can make a trip a trip from hell. Traffic in some places can be a nightmare during some of these times. We try to avoid these times if at all possible.

Lodging can be a problem at times if your destination is small or remote. We always make reservations for these places. When we do, we call ahead to confirm reservations before leaving. Sleeping at a picnic area with your wife won’t be fun. It hasn’t happened to us but I have heard some horror stories.

If possible always ride with another rider. It’s always good to have someone with you just in case…

I always carry a map even though I use a GPS. Maps are handy when you need to make route changes. Maps are good to get the big picture. Sometimes GPS’ need a bit of guidance by specifying via points otherwise the GPS will take you the most direct route and that is not always the best or scenic. A GPS has become invaluable in the car and on my bike. Besides routing you to your destination they also provide other useful information like…

  1. What’s ahead? Glancing down at the GPS can show you there is a tight hairpin curve ahead or that a hard curve is ahead.
  2. The GPS can give you a good guestimate when you will arrive at your destination.
  3. The GPS informs you to the distance to your next turn and future turns.
  4. The GPS keeps track of how far you are way from your final destination.
  5. If you need gas, food or lodging it can show what is available and the distances to them.
  6. It can locate many other points of interest… Police, Hospitals etc…

I hope I have convinced you how useful they are. If you haven’t got a GPS you need to get one and learn everything you can about how to use it. One word of caution about using a GPS, keep the GPS maps up to date. Even with an up to date map they can lead you astray. Sometime the maps have errors. When riding in a city on freeways with multiple lanes with access roads they sometimes get confused because of their accuracy and think you are some place you are not. This can be distracting and confusing to you also… be careful… It’s a good idea to get familiar with your route ahead of time so if the GPS starts confusing you, you can read the signs (old school). Again take the time to learn how to use it. Not the day before you leave on your trip. If you don’t do this you will hate the GPS

and it will become a problem instead of a help.

The most important thing of all is, make a checklist of everything and check things off as they are done. You won’t regret making one but you will regret not making one… Trust me, been there done that.

Getting the Bike ready

Make sure your bike is ready for the trip. Do it yourself or have your dealer do it but do it. Make sure the tires, brakes, lights are in good condition and change the oil. Unexpected things are inevitable but you can be ahead of the curve if you do this.

If you are adding extras to your bike for the trip do so well in advance so you can take them on a shakedown run. Do this at least a week ahead. Surprises aren’t fun in some place like West Texas.

Bikes don’t have a spare tire so get a good plug kit, a can of Slime or Fix-A-Flat. There are also small air compressors that are made to carry on bikes. You won’t regret this… I know, been there done that…

If you pull a trailer all of the above applies to the trailer.

Packing Bike

We started out with the bare necessities when we started touring. We didn’t think we needed a lot but over time we have realized that good gear makes for good rides. Comfort, durability and functionality cannot be over looked.

You can make space by putting soft items in ziplock bags and compress them by sitting on the before closing the bag. Don’t laugh it works. Carry extra ziplock bags to keep things dry or keep something wet from getting everything else wet.

Don’t forget the camera and charger.

Your Maintenance

As I have gotten older I have found fatigue is my worst enemy. Plan you trip so you can eat and drink regularly. Carry water, fruit power bar, nuts, and dried fruit or granola bar. Beware of things that melt, they are messy. When you stop for gas replenish your supply.

Wind and heat are quick to take their toll on you. Fatigue will sneak up on you. Recently I purchased a cooling vest for those hot days. It worked amazingly well and I highly recommend using them. Stop often and hydrate. Mental and physical fatigue can affect you judgment. Last but not least don’t forget the sun block and use it often.

Don’t ride past your limits; know your limits they will keep you safe. Be aware of other people’s limits that are riding with you and respect them. Plan your trips with everyones limits in mind.

What If… Plan

Always plan for the unexpected. Carry a flashlight, first aid kit, tools and tire plug kit. You can never over plan a trip but you can certainly under plan it. Know the limits and range of your bike and don’t put yourself and others beyond their limits. Your precautions should increase with the remoteness of your route.

Don’t forget your cell phone and charger, license and insurance.

Some one back home should know of your plans and you should check in regularly.

I will update this post when I can so keep checking back.

Ride safe and have fun…

If you found this post useful you might enjoy these post also…