It occurred to me that we are missing the meaning of Honda’s slogan, “The Power of Dreams”. It’s a wonderful Honda pun.
So, someone tell me exactly where you go to buy motorcycle boots around here.
It’s time for me to retire another pair of Dainese touring boots, and that means a replacement pair is required. Worn soles, leaky membranes, small perforations, etc. I’ve found several pair that I’d like to try on, but the trying on part is the sticking point. I can’t find a place that either carries them or bothers stocking them. Because, you know, women’s gear isn’t a deal here in the midwest. Or anywhere in the US, as far as I can tell. Which is pretty darn lame because like most women, I want to try things on before I buy them.
I contacted the local internet shop, Sport Bike Track Gear. Great website with a lot of gear on it, but when I asked about visiting the shop, Eric explained that they “don’t really have any women’s gear” in stock at the showroom.
Revzilla suggested that I check my item numbers using their stock checker tool, and I found out that they have exactly one of the five pair I am interested in at their Philly gear boutique. Again, women’s = no stock. This extra sucks because I’ll be in Philly this weekend and I would gladly head over to drop some cash on boots and winter gloves. Maybe even a heated vest. Which they also don’t stock in the boutique. For women. I’m sensing a trend.
What’s missing here is neither place offered to bring the boots in for me by appointment. Sad, because I need boots and whoever can get my feet into them is getting a sale.
CycleGear carries the brands I want, but not the actual boots. The problem there is that I want the high-end styles with GoreTex. Too spendy for the average CG customer, maybe? Regardless, it’s still a dead end, albeit a bit closer to home over near Cleveland.
The Iron Pony is hit or miss depending on what they have bought out lately. And in this case, totally miss. Too bad, I’d enjoy the ride down to Columbus.
The rest of the gear “shops” I’ve found are internet only. Super.
To pull off actually trying on the boots side-by-side, I figure that I will need to drop upwards of $1700 on my credit card to get them all delivered to my doorstep, and then I’ll have to deal with the hassle of shipping the unwanted ones back. Presuming at least one pair is actually wanted. And whoever I order them from will get socked with a bunch of shipping costs.
I suppose I could just price shop to the bitter end and order another pair of Dainese boots that I know will fit and that I will get three years out of. Or I could just put plastic bags in my existing boots for another few months until I can snag a trip back to Germany. Over there, I can simply go downtown to the motorbike corner and *gasp* go across the street if I want to try on more than three or four pair at a time.
American retailers need to get the point – women riders will gladly buy. But they have to stock the gear first. And “available online” is not the same as stocking in store. Sorry.
More than a few people have asked me about the scraps of text taped to my fauxtank on the BMW. They are straight outta Keith Code’s A Twist of the Wrist 1 & 2, and in both English and German. Because I learned to ride in Germany, I can get stuck in German sometimes while riding. If everything is going well, English suffices.
Code’s concept is that there are a few mistakes that people make while interacting with their environment (these apply to every form of transit that removes one’s feet from the surface), and by learning to recognize them, we can learn to avoid making them. Additionally, there are a few rules for controlling the motorcycle that can make these mistakes not only less disturbing to the motorcycle, but also less dangerous for the rider. I wish I had read his books early on in my automotive track career.
A pointed note on Rule 1, the most misunderstood sentence in all of motorcycling. “Cracked open” means exactly that. “Rolled on continuously” means exactly that. Not “whacked open” and “whacked open all the way”. The concept of Rule 1 centers on the fact that a very slight amount of throttle angle increase is required to bring the bike back up to speed in the turn and recover from the lean, setting up for launching out of the turn exit. This increase must be made in a manner that does not upset the suspension of the bike. Think of snap oversteer in your favorite rear-engined RWD car. This is an example of upset suspension leading to pain. If the throttle angle is increased in the appropriate manner, the suspension remains composed and the rear tyre remains in tractive contact with the tarmac. It is also good execution of Rule 1 that allows riders to break the rear end loose and maintain control, analogous to drifting one’s car.
Thems the rules. Berndt Spiegel says it’s ok to tape them to your bike, too.
Motorcyclists talk about finding their dream bike. What they don’t talk about is what to do once you’ve found it.
The first time this usually comes up is when someone wants to purchase their first bike. “I’ve been dreaming about a XYZ1000 for years!” People jump all over them saying no, get a little bike, a starter bike. “But then I’ll just have to get the one I want later!” new person wails.
Well, that’s kind of the point. Getting another one, I mean. I have some experience with that.
I accidentally bought my long-term bike on the first try. It’s a great bike. It was great from day one. I fell for it hard and it’s not losing any charm or fun or anything. I have a bike that I love and fits me like a glove in every way. I don’t know that there actually is a better bike for me. So what? Well, the main problem is that I’m stuck with it. That’s an overly depressing way of looking at it, but it’s accurate. And it means that I miss out on one of the most fun parts of riding – riding all of the bikes. In fact, the only times I have managed to buy other bikes are when my long-term bike was not running. And once it was, I was right back in the saddle. I can’t stay away.
When people say “don’t buy your dream bike right out of the gate,” they mean don’t limit yourself, motorcycle-wise.
It also means don’t assume that what you want before you start riding is what you are going to want after you start riding.
I had some conflicting wants – I wanted to ride a BMW, but I wanted to look at sport bikes. I love how sport bikes look and ride. Standards are fun (the old R65 I want is a standard), but I don’t desire them like I desire sport bikes. Then I started riding, and discovered dual sports. Oops. As much as I love sport bikes and my CBR250R was illegal levels of fun and MV Agusta exists, nothing says “let’s go hoon!” like a dual sport. Nothing says “any time is the right time” like a dual sport. And, of course, nothing says “comfy and loaded” like a BMW. So naturally logic won out and I went out and bought myself a BMW dual sport right out of the gate. Oops.
Now I’m stuck. I want to try all the bikes, but it’s hard to justify it when I’ve got my right bike right here at hand already. Even worse is that now my dream bike is another one just like it, except in black. That’s right – two of them. Gotta match my outfits, you know. I still think about other bikes (I do want to collect an R65 one of these days), but none of them match up to my baby GS very favorably when it gets down to spending money. It’s a downer, I tell you. I think I need to go ride and shake it off.
So if someone suggests that you hold off on your dream bike, take them seriously. Ride all of the other bikes first. Because if it really is your dream bike, you’ll never want to ride anything else, and you’ll miss out on some good motorcycling fun.
… only if you check it. Drownpour on the way home from work that started about two minutes into the ride and ended about two minutes before I got home. Fifteen minutes of pounding surf.
Yeah. There was a little bit of water in my boots.
I hereby claim this idea and name – The Motronic Whisperer®.
Do you have a vehicle with Bosch management? A German vehicle that wishes it had Bosch management? Something with lots of wires that is driving you crazy?
Contact me. I’m starting to get pretty good at this Motronic Whispering thing.
Holy poop on a stick.
I finally threw in the towel on the Sherpa. A kind friend offered up a contact with a trusted mechanic and I jumped on that. Why not. I figured that two hours of expert time would seal the deal. Either it was going to run for him or not. I dropped it off last week.
Two hours later (right on schedule), I had an answer. I was assembling the slide diaphragm the wrong way.
I was just dumping the slide into the bore and sealing the diaphragm into the groove, inserting the spring, and fitting the top cap and bolts. Well…. It turns out that you are supposed to hold the slide open while doing all of this. Holding the slide open allows the diaphragm to fold up properly in the vacuum chamber. Installing it the way I was doing it caused the slide to basically stick shut and the constant vacuum effect was not able to materialize.
I would have never figured that out. I’m searching through manuals now to see if it is something written down somewhere that I should have read and followed the instructions on. The mechanic said that it is just a fact of CV carbs, a sort of apocryphal knowledge.
This explains how the bike ran once – I probably was goofing off and held the slide up without knowing it was important.
Whatever. The Super Sherpa runs once again and I rode it home. I’m happy. I might even try to do the rejet just to prove that I can do this crap. I also now have a resource when I need it – a great mechanic who’s nice and fun to talk to, too.
I was back in Germany again for the last two weeks.
The Jeep Renegade is a huge hit over there. Not only did I see a bunch of them, but all in nutty loud colors and parked to be seen. I like this vehicle a lot and I think FCA hit a home run with it. The popularity in Germany is proof.
Motorcycle parts are far more widely available, as usual. I managed to warp a rear rotor (yes, I actually warped it) due to the crappy Brembo 11mm master cylinder corroding again. In the US, the best fit rotor is the stock BMW one, for $248. EBC makes one that I haven’t seen yet for about $150. The OEM TRW rotor is a whopping 68€ from Louis. Yes, I brought home a brake rotor. The CBP guy who stamped my passport back in looked at his deskmate and said “I clearly need to go over there and buy some parts.” Yes, you do, Mr CBP Officer. A set of matching TRW pads cost a whole 37€. With the exchange rate at stupid lows, that was a no-brainer. I haven’t really addressed the spares situation in the past, but thanks again to Motorrad Alexander who delivered an annoying piece of wiring harness to my desk for 20% of the cost new. It’s in great condition and should resolve some nagging issues I have with harness damage on the BMW. I’ll be repairing the old one and saving it for the other frame.
Eggs. When you go to the breakfast buffet in Germany, the scrambled eggs are real eggs. I forgot how awesome this is until we went to San Antonio for a long weekend a few weeks ago and had the American version made from powdered eggs. Not even close.
I always forget how much I miss riding the trams and walking everywhere. It’s sooooo nice. A totally different kind of mobility.
I do have a gripe with airline food. I have Celiac disease, which can suck for a variety of reasons. One of them is airplane food. I finally figured out what is going on with the grilled chicken breast, broccoli, and rice that I get on every. single. flight. It’s not only gluten-free, it’s Kosher, Halal, lactose-free, low sodium, and whatever else you can come up with short of vegetarian/vegan. It’s also generally flavor-free and boring. Everyone else gets something different each flight, I get that damn grilled chicken. I have to beg for butter, explaining that I am not lactose intolerant or anything else. I do love the rolls that I get on the flight home, they are way the hell better than the rice cakes I get on the flight out. One positive note is that Delta flight attendants, pursers, and stewards are generally quite food allergy aware. This time, I was able to
get scam an ice cream and it arrived with no cookie! I know that the airlines are kind of dependent on LSG or whoever their food service contractor is, so I don’t want to come off as bagging on Delta. But I would like some fancy food once in a while!
I was counting cars in the parking lot for a project and discovered that Germans like big window glass just as much as Americans do. I wonder if the area of the greenhouse is why people here like SUVs so much? With sedans losing glass at every increasing rates, it seems that eventually the only way to get a real rear window will be in a minivan or other xUV. Hmmm. Now I want to call hatchbacks UUVs – urban utility vehicles. I guess minivans would then be FUVs – family utility vehicles. Let’s tacticool name all the vehicles!
I was completely shopped out from my last trip, but not enough so to avoid looking in the windows at Hein Gericke. Oh, damn, another pair of gloves – from Richa and size Ladies’ XL. What a concept – I have a difficult time finding gloves with long enough fingers, hopefully these will do it. Thankfully, LS2 seems to be doing a great job of bringing HG back into form. The new assortment is quite attractive and continues the tradition of high-end product lines.
I (finally) learned how to pronounce Garching. I used to say /gar’ shing/. Now I say /gar’ hing/. With that silly-sounding Bavarian hissing H.
I had to look it up. My new suspension is wallowing. It seems as if the fork springs are too soft when I get up to freeway speeds. Weird.
Time to play with the suspension, I guess. Might have to do a spring swap with the old forks.
Last year, I wrote about getting my lean back. This year, it is about how it gets better.
It’s spring, and from the looks of things, it’s the first, second, third, and many other seasons for riders. It’s the first few seasons that I’m thinking of. Bikes are approached with wonderment, desire, and maybe a bit of fear or concern. Am I going to be able to ride well? So many long-term riders seem to be able to start and stop riding with such ease, will I ever be one of them? Will riding ever come naturally (after a break)?
My first season was short – a month and a half. Then winter break for a month or so. Getting back on was a bit touchy. I had to basically teach myself to ride again. My head got it, but my body didn’t, and that resulted in a lot of confusing signals. It was work.
My next season was my first full one, and it was good. Coming back after winter break was easier, but I still needed some time to equilibrate. My third season was similar – I needed time to get back on my horse, and then my horse decided to die, which caused all sorts of other issues. Namely, the need for a spare horse. Which I then had to acclimate to. The next winter brought a two-and-a-half-month break and a move back to the US. Different land, different rules, different roads. Oof, it was really a challenge to come back. I had lost my lean. I had lost a lot of things. But slowly, it all came back.
This winter’s break was different for some reason. It was longer – three months. I changed my horse up again by swapping out the suspension for some better-fitting kit. I didn’t take a BRC this year. I’d spent the three months dealing with a back injury. I still faced a few jitters about getting back on. Was it going to be iffy again this year?
That’s what I’m here to tell you. It got better. Not just a bit better, but way better. This year, when I hopped on my bike, my body responded without my brain needing to tell it what to do. I had my lean back from the get-go. The onset of riding is better this year, because finally, my body completely gets it. It gets it well enough not to forget it. I was surprised, I admit. My brain needs to do a little catching up, but doggone, my body… So good. So many things that I notice myself doing right, without even considering the situation consciously. Trusting myself is good. Knowing that I finally have the muscle memory down pat is really good.
So if it’s your first or second spring back from break and you’re not 100% sure of yourself, don’t worry. It gets better every time.