Makkuro Kurosuke Keychain

Makkuro Kurosuke Keychain

I needed a different keychain for the bike’s key. The first one I used was a little Japanese charm with a bell on it. It was great, but you could hear that bell jingling when riding. Next, I used a pokemon bulbasaur, but it was too big and would get stuck in the little space between the ignition and the handlebars. This one is perfect because it’s soft and compresses so won’t get stuck.

Weekend Riding

I went for a couple nice rides this weekend and put 179 miles on the bike. On Saturday I rode up Parmer north past 1431 where it turns into Ronald Reagan Blvd. I had never been up that way before, so it was fun to head out somewhere new. The street was nice and deserted: only a few cars and a lady riding her trike were on the road with me. Soon I found myself all alone riding past older homes on their plots of land and a few sprinkles came down from the sky. The temperature was perfect, in the low-70’s. I rode to the end of that street, where it Ts at 2238 and I took a right and headed towards Georgetown. The low-fuel light came on so I stopped at an Exxon and filled up the bike and had some water.

At the Gas Station

Crossing I-35, I continued on the road towards the town of Weir and then Granger, where I went the previous week. I decided to head around the lake again and I took a little break near the dam.

Granger Lake

It was here that I put in the earplugs to try them out. I only rode a couple miles before I decided I didn’t like the isolation so I took them out. Next I headed down 95 through the town of  Taylor. The winds were pretty strong, and heading south at more that 60mph was difficult and not at all enjoyable. I ended up pulling off the main highway and rode on some county roads, so I could just cruise at a slower 35-40mph speed and take in the sights This was really enjoyable. The people who lived in the houses I passed were all friendly and waved as I rode by. Returning to Taylor and route 79, I headed west back towards Hutto, then Round Rock where I turned south and rode through Pflugerville and Wells Branch near our old house. I eventually made my way to Lonestar BMW/Triumph where I took a nice little break and checked out all the nice bikes. They had a G650 GS like mine there, but it was a police model with sirens and lights. Was kinda cool, but also a bit odd seeing my bike kitted out like that. After that I headed back home via Rutland, Metric, then Parmer. It was a total of 132 miles and a fair share of regular in-town riding.

Sunday morning I struck out west on 1431 from Cedar Park. I only went as far as the outskirts of Jonestown, where I turned right on Nameless Road. This is another road sign that I had seen many times and wondered about. This time, I saw two bikers on their Harley’s leaving Nameless Road, so I decided to go check it out. It’s a pleasant little 45mph two-lane road with a lot of elevation changes and a few twisties to keep it fun. I passed four other motorcyclists on this road, I think they were coming from Leander towards 1431 and then Marble Falls.

Round Mountain

I didn’t have too much time so after a little side trip down Round Mountain I turned back and headed to 1431. I knew that I needed to pick up some breakfast tacos so I decided on Rudy’s. I went down Lakeline Blvd south, Cypress Creek, Anderson Mill and then took a quick 65mph run down 620 to get the tacos. After that, I was back home with the breakfast delivery for the family. A nice 47 mile Sunday morning ride in beautiful weather.

A couple things I noticed while riding this weekend:

  • Strong headwinds/crosswinds suck. Not only does it blow you around your lane, but it makes the ride a lot noisier.
  • I don’t like wearing earplugs while riding. Maybe this will change, but I felt that I was too removed from the environment while wearing them. Some people really swear by them, so maybe I just need a different kind of earplug.
  • Feeling my backpack/tailbag hitting my lower back is reassuring. It doesn’t provide any kind of support but it makes me feel more protected and therefore more comfortable.
  • I learned to use my knees to stabilize myself on the bike. Now I can keep my arms and hands more relaxed which is much less fatiguing plus it’s easier and quicker to maneuver the bike when I don’t have a deathgrip on the handlebars. Also, by pivoting my body at the waist, it’s a lot quicker to lean the bike into a turn.
  • Accelerating while exiting a curve is a heck of lot of fun.

Accessory Power

I started following Chris Sorbi’s round-the-world motorcycle trip in support of raising awareness for world hunger. It’s an amazing five-year journey for a great cause. He is riding a Suzuki GS850 and has a couple of really good videos that detail his setup on YouTube. Go check out his site at www.motorcyclememoir.com to follow his journey and donate a little money if you can.
I have an old Garmin eTrex Legend on my bike, but it’s really flaky. It sometimes just turns off by itself, and I’m not sure why. Plus it’s so old that it’s a chore to get the data off of it. I’ve been using my G1 phone in my car and figured I could use it on the bike as well, at least to record my tracks (routes I travel) using the My Tracks app by Google. My bike has the optional accessory socket but I needed to use a Powerlet cord to convert the BMW plug to a generic cigarette lighter socket, then plug in the USB adapter so I can run the cord to the G1.

Accessory Socket
The accessory socket

I originally thought that I would run the Powerlet cable to the handle bars and then attach it using cable ties, but after threading it up, I realized that the socket was too big and since the USB adapter would be attached, it just wouldn’t fit nicely. Plus I am keeping the G1 in my backpack/tailbag, so why should I run the cord up front, when the hardware will be in the backpack? I ended up just guiding the cord underneath the seat where there is plenty of room to put the socket and USB adapter. It’s well protected under there, both from the elements and from any tampering since you need a key to remove the seat. (Click the photos for a larger view at Flickr)

Powerlet Cord
Powerlet plug

Powerlet Cord Routing
Under-seat Routing

Powerlet Cord/USB Cable Routing
More Under-seat Routing

Powerlet to USB
The cigarette lighter socket and USB adapter

Powerlet Cord Going Under Seat
With Seat On

USB Cable
Exiting the seat

USB Cable and Backpack
USB cord ready for the G1

Goodbye to the Supercub

It was a sad day yesterday as I let my beloved Honda C70 go to a new owner. I’ve had this bike for several years now, rescued it from a really sorry state and got it running and looking pretty good. I also got it legally registered again. I’m hoping the new owner enjoys it! I do think she found a nice new home.

During the restoration process, I learned a lot about motorbikes. Mechanically, I learned how to rebuild and adjust a carb, adjust valves, adjust timing, change sparkplug and points, change a tire, replace a chain, and do some basic electrical diagnostics. The C70 also taught me about riding a motorbike on the road. I got a lot of practice riding on this small bike. It was easy to apply the basics that I learned in the MSF class I took to this very lightweight but capable motorbike. Maybe someday I will get another one but that’s far in the future.

Ride to Granger

Today I rode the BMW to the town of Granger, and then around the little lake there. It was an 85 mile trip which was longer than I thought it would be. I took no photos even though I brought my camera. There were a couple places just north of the lake on FM971 that were really cool-looking, but I was having so much fun riding that I didn’t want to stop. Most of the time I was moving at about 60-65 mph and the bike was just cruising along. It’s so nice to be able to go from 50 to 65 with just a simple twist of the throttle, but also you need to keep watch of the speed since it is so easy to just gun it. I did go up to around 80 on one stretch where it seemed safe to do so. That was a blast. I’m also really enjoying accelerating from a dead stop more smoothly than before. The shifting is becoming second-nature now, and I have raised the suspension up from its lowest setting (where I could balance on the balls of my feet) to the normal setting (where I have to tiptoe at a stop). The twisties are so much fun. I love leaning the bike (even as a noob) to take the curves. So neat to have the horizon tilt like that. It’s a unique and cool feeling that non-riders never experience.

From the GPS:

Total moving time: 1:53
Average moving speed: 44.9 mph
Maximum speed:79.3 mph
Odometer:85.37 miles

Map of Granger Lake

Doh!

Went to the drug store this evening to pick up a prescription. Still getting used to the process of parking the bike, taking off the gloves and helmet and unzipping the jacket before going into the store. When I came out, I realized that I had left my headlight on. I’m not sure how that happened. Now I am paranoid that the headlight is on in the garage now!

First Ride on the BMW

Drizzly

I bought a used (2007) BMW F650 GS on Saturday! Before I bought it, I met the previous owner at his house to check out the bike, and I was really impressed both with the motorcycle and the seller. He was really knowledgeable about motorcycles and knew a lot about the BMW. He showed me how to take off the center covers, inspect the battery, explained all the controls and suspension tweaks etc. Plus he was really helpful by riding the motorcycle to my house, which saved me a lot of money. I am so fortunate to find a really great bike and seller. But the bike sat in my garage on Saturday because I was so busy.

Sunday morning I woke up and was ready to ride the BMW for the first time. (Actually second time if you count the test ride down the street and back) The bike is so smooth and leaving the driveway and going up the cul-de-sac hill was super easy. The clutch is very forgiving and it is easy to find the friction zone. I got used to taking off from a stop pretty quickly. Basically, you need to accelerate sort of quickly so that you get some inertia and the bike becomes stable. If you are timid about it, you will kind of wobble and lean. I did that a couple times until I got used to the clutch lever and where the clutch engages. What’s cool about my bike is that the clutch lever has three positions so I was able to have the lever sort of close to the grip. The “little” BMW fits me perfectly. The seat height is relatively low, and the handlebars are at a relaxed position. My knees are bent at a comfortable angle, and rest lightly against the sides of the faux tank. Even though it’s considered a smallish bike, it still looked huge in my garage. Everyone who sees it remarks that it is bigger than they thought it would be.

The first place I went to was the middle school nearby. There was a light drizzle as I practiced some hard braking and emergency stops in the parking lot for a few minutes. After that I decided to head down Brushy Creek which is a really nice little road. Some dude in his SUV was tailgating me for a minute, but I refused to go over the speed limit, and eventually he backed off. The road was a little slick and I didn’t want to push it. I eventually crossed under I-35 and headed farther east towards the Dell Diamond. Even at 8am I could smell BBQ as I passed by the Salt Lick. On this stretch of road I realized that it seemed like I was going faster than I really was. Felt like I was doing 60mph, when I was only at about 45mph. The cars in the fast lane were whizzing past me. But the cool thing about the 650 was that it takes just a second or two to get up to speed. Then I found myself doing the speed limit, and cars were still passing me. I just kept to 60mph though and enjoyed the ride. This was actually the fastest I have ridden on a bike before so the experience was both exhilarating and frightening at the same time. It was also a ton of fun. In a few minutes I found myself in Hutto and decided to turn around. When I did that, the low fuel light came on (which meant I had about a gallon or 65 miles left) so I stopped at a gas station to fuel up. The BMW has its gas tank actually under the seat and the gas cap is on the side like a car. The faux tank actually houses the battery and other internals. It’s kind of a neat set up and lowers the center of gravity.

After the gas station, I headed home. I passed by another rider on his Suzuki sportbike and he gave me a wave. That was pretty cool. Later on, I passed a Harley, and the lady riding 2up in the back gave me a wave. I wonder if this will get old after a while? Anyways, on the ride I realized that it is so nice to not be limited to where I can go, unlike when riding the Honda C70 which has a top speed of 40mph. I still enjoyed riding slowly down the curvy Brushy Creek but it was great knowing I could open up the throttle a bit and speed off when I got to the 55mph zone.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first run on my new bike. I totally love it. Cannot wait to go out again!