Month: March 2011

DaveG – World Traveler

weight loss on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/barron/5152245945/”>My F650 GS

I had a few hours free this morning so I decided to ride over to the coffee shop and get some caffiene. After that, help I dropped off a book at the library then was planning to go home and relax but then I thought I would ride to the nearby school’s parking lot and practice some u-turns. I still have some trouble making these and the last time I practiced, angina I just wasn’t feeling it. I was a little tired and just couldn’t concentrate. I was disappointed because the previous time, I was really getting the hang of it.

But this morning I was fired up (most likely the coffee) and figured I might as well use this opportunity to sharpen my skills rather than just go home and play video games. I’m happy to say that it was clicking for me today and I was making much tighter turns, and my muscle-memory was taking over. That was really cool because I didn’t have to think so much about controlling the clutch and throttle. It just all seemed to work naturally.

A few months ago I bought the book Proficient Motorcycling by David L. Hough. It filled with great information that every motorcyclist should know. One surprisingly short section deals with u-turns and I picked up a couple good tips. I learned that to do a tight turn, you really need to lean the bike over. If you are just slow-speed turning with the bike perpendicular to the ground your turning radius is pretty large. So large in fact that you probably won’t be able to pull off a u-turn on a two lane street. (I know from personal experience!) So first, you need to throw the bike into a lean, while turning the handlebars pretty sharply. Then you need to use the clutch to control the stability. It helps to keep the throttle at a constant rev, and then just feather the clutch. To make a tighter turn, pull in the clutch lever. If the bike is leaning over too much and you feel like it’s tipping, let out the clutch and that power will straighten you up. After a while of practicing that, I started using the throttle more in conjuction with the clutch (and not having just a constant rev). This part is where the muscle memory and practice really paid off. Now when I feel the bike is at the tipping point, I don’t have to think about what to do to get it back in control. My left hand automatically lets out the clutch, and my right applies a bit more throttle. This is a really cool feeling!

A couple other things help me with the u-turns. First is keeping my body and head more perpendicular to the ground, and using the footpegs to maintain balance. It’s like when you are riding a bike up a hill and you stand up to get more pedaling power. The bike leans from side to side as you pump, while your body is pretty much straight up and down. On the motorcycle, you can lean the bike over, then apply pressure to the opposite peg to help balance it.

Another thing that helps is to look where you want to go. That’s one of the first things they teach you in the MSF class. And when you are doing u-turns you not only look with your eyes, but you crane your neck around pretty far. For me, I kind of just imagine the line I want to be taking, then look along that line about 20 feet out. In MSF, they say that if you see an obstacle in the road, don’t fixate on it, because you will head right towards it. For u-turns, I use this target fixation to help me guide where I want the bike to go. Kind of neat since it works!

I’ve also read that it helps to “drag” the rear brake as this will supposedly stabilize the bike. I’ve tried this a little bit, but was probably applying too much brake, since I stalled it out a couple times. Hopefully as the rest of the process becomes second-nature, I can add this element into the mix.

I still need to practice (never stop learning!) especially in one key area. I have trouble initiating the turn immediately from a stop. I usually need about five to eight feet of straight line acceleration before throwing it into the lean. In a few videos I’ve seen online, the rider will turn the bars first, then accelerate directly into a tight turn. Looks so easy! Hopefully I can improve in that area. Looking forward to the day that it “clicks” for me!
pharmacy on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/barron/5561824687/”>CL-MAX

I ordered a new helmet to replace my 5-year old HJC CL-14. I really like the CL-14, but it’s getting old and it’s recommended that you buy a new helmet every 3-5 years because the materials degenerate. Not sure how much of that is true but it’s a good excuse to get some new goodies. For the new helmet, I wanted to get a modular. This kind has a chinbar that flips up. It’s kind of convenient in that you can flip it up to talk to people or go into the gas station without having to take the whole helmet off (and reveal your helmet-hair). I’ve had my eye on the Shoei Multitec but they are pretty expensive. I tried on the Schuberth C3 which and it was so nice — super comfortable and slim-looking. The only problem is that it goes for $699.

So I decided to keep with HJC, which is a decent brand and fits my head well. The CL-MAX came down in price (60% off!) so I decided it was time. I went with a silver color to match my bike. I know white is safer but really liked the look of the silver one. The noise level compared to my old CL-14 is less on the whole, but the main difference is that I don’t hear as much low sound from wind turbulence. Most of the noise is higher-pitched which probably comes from the extra seams in the helmet for the flip-up chinbar. This shifting of the noise frequency is good because earplugs should really remove the highs. The padding inside the helmet seems a whole lot better. The ear-pocket is better protected from wind which means less fatigue when riding at 65mph.

Another plus about the CL-MAX is that it uses the same visor latch size as my CL-14. That means I can use my dark smoke shield on it (and save $25).

BTW, I am a firm believer in ATGATT, which stands for “All The Gear, All The Time”. Motorcycle boots, pants, gloves, jacket, and helmet every time I ride. Besides being safer, it’s also a great excuse to get some nice gear!
I ran across an amazing ride report from DaveG last night. He’s currently on his RTW trip on a Suzuki DRZ400. Before that, pharmacy he rode his BMW F650 GS from Texas down to Tierra del Fuego. Incredible! I was doing a YouTube search on “Austin Motorcycle” and found an old video of his in which he and a friend go off-road for the first time on their DL650 Vstroms. It’s so interesting to see the progression from that video, psychotherapist to the trip to the tip of the South America, decease and even more exciting to follow his travels around the world. I really envy and admire travelers like this. I’m so glad that he shares all this on his blog with good gear lists and bike info. Great stuff. Good luck Dave!

HJC CL-MAX Helmet

weight loss on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/barron/5152245945/”>My F650 GS

I had a few hours free this morning so I decided to ride over to the coffee shop and get some caffiene. After that, help I dropped off a book at the library then was planning to go home and relax but then I thought I would ride to the nearby school’s parking lot and practice some u-turns. I still have some trouble making these and the last time I practiced, angina I just wasn’t feeling it. I was a little tired and just couldn’t concentrate. I was disappointed because the previous time, I was really getting the hang of it.

But this morning I was fired up (most likely the coffee) and figured I might as well use this opportunity to sharpen my skills rather than just go home and play video games. I’m happy to say that it was clicking for me today and I was making much tighter turns, and my muscle-memory was taking over. That was really cool because I didn’t have to think so much about controlling the clutch and throttle. It just all seemed to work naturally.

A few months ago I bought the book Proficient Motorcycling by David L. Hough. It filled with great information that every motorcyclist should know. One surprisingly short section deals with u-turns and I picked up a couple good tips. I learned that to do a tight turn, you really need to lean the bike over. If you are just slow-speed turning with the bike perpendicular to the ground your turning radius is pretty large. So large in fact that you probably won’t be able to pull off a u-turn on a two lane street. (I know from personal experience!) So first, you need to throw the bike into a lean, while turning the handlebars pretty sharply. Then you need to use the clutch to control the stability. It helps to keep the throttle at a constant rev, and then just feather the clutch. To make a tighter turn, pull in the clutch lever. If the bike is leaning over too much and you feel like it’s tipping, let out the clutch and that power will straighten you up. After a while of practicing that, I started using the throttle more in conjuction with the clutch (and not having just a constant rev). This part is where the muscle memory and practice really paid off. Now when I feel the bike is at the tipping point, I don’t have to think about what to do to get it back in control. My left hand automatically lets out the clutch, and my right applies a bit more throttle. This is a really cool feeling!

A couple other things help me with the u-turns. First is keeping my body and head more perpendicular to the ground, and using the footpegs to maintain balance. It’s like when you are riding a bike up a hill and you stand up to get more pedaling power. The bike leans from side to side as you pump, while your body is pretty much straight up and down. On the motorcycle, you can lean the bike over, then apply pressure to the opposite peg to help balance it.

Another thing that helps is to look where you want to go. That’s one of the first things they teach you in the MSF class. And when you are doing u-turns you not only look with your eyes, but you crane your neck around pretty far. For me, I kind of just imagine the line I want to be taking, then look along that line about 20 feet out. In MSF, they say that if you see an obstacle in the road, don’t fixate on it, because you will head right towards it. For u-turns, I use this target fixation to help me guide where I want the bike to go. Kind of neat since it works!

I’ve also read that it helps to “drag” the rear brake as this will supposedly stabilize the bike. I’ve tried this a little bit, but was probably applying too much brake, since I stalled it out a couple times. Hopefully as the rest of the process becomes second-nature, I can add this element into the mix.

I still need to practice (never stop learning!) especially in one key area. I have trouble initiating the turn immediately from a stop. I usually need about five to eight feet of straight line acceleration before throwing it into the lean. In a few videos I’ve seen online, the rider will turn the bars first, then accelerate directly into a tight turn. Looks so easy! Hopefully I can improve in that area. Looking forward to the day that it “clicks” for me!
pharmacy on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/barron/5561824687/”>CL-MAX

I ordered a new helmet to replace my 5-year old HJC CL-14. I really like the CL-14, but it’s getting old and it’s recommended that you buy a new helmet every 3-5 years because the materials degenerate. Not sure how much of that is true but it’s a good excuse to get some new goodies. For the new helmet, I wanted to get a modular. This kind has a chinbar that flips up. It’s kind of convenient in that you can flip it up to talk to people or go into the gas station without having to take the whole helmet off (and reveal your helmet-hair). I’ve had my eye on the Shoei Multitec but they are pretty expensive. I tried on the Schuberth C3 which and it was so nice — super comfortable and slim-looking. The only problem is that it goes for $699.

So I decided to keep with HJC, which is a decent brand and fits my head well. The CL-MAX came down in price (60% off!) so I decided it was time. I went with a silver color to match my bike. I know white is safer but really liked the look of the silver one. The noise level compared to my old CL-14 is less on the whole, but the main difference is that I don’t hear as much low sound from wind turbulence. Most of the noise is higher-pitched which probably comes from the extra seams in the helmet for the flip-up chinbar. This shifting of the noise frequency is good because earplugs should really remove the highs. The padding inside the helmet seems a whole lot better. The ear-pocket is better protected from wind which means less fatigue when riding at 65mph.

Another plus about the CL-MAX is that it uses the same visor latch size as my CL-14. That means I can use my dark smoke shield on it (and save $25).

BTW, I am a firm believer in ATGATT, which stands for “All The Gear, All The Time”. Motorcycle boots, pants, gloves, jacket, and helmet every time I ride. Besides being safer, it’s also a great excuse to get some nice gear!

2011 G650 GS Video

Some nice 2011 G650 GS footage. Looks like a nice bike! Wonder if that bodywork would fit on my bike…

7k

Some nice 2011 G650 GS footage. Looks like a nice bike! Wonder if that bodywork would fit on my bike…

Some nice 2011 G650 GS footage. Looks like a nice bike! Wonder if that bodywork would fit on my bike…
I went on a really fun ride this morning with my friend Chris around the Hill Country. Put on 202 miles and when I pulled into the garage, information pills
the odometer was at 7,001.!

BMW F650 GS – Changing the Brake Fluid

Today I changed the brake fluid on my GS. The speedometer is at 6, prescription orthopedist 772, tadalafil so it was a little overdue. I think this is the first time it was changed. The old fluid was looking dark in the reservoir, that’s for sure!

With the stock bleeder screws, this would be a two-person operation, where one person would loosen the valve, then the second person would squeeze the brake lever, then the first person would tighten the valve so no air would go back into the system when the brake lever is released. I figured I’d be changing the brake fluid often so I bought a pair of “Speedbleeders“. These are replacement bleeder screws which have a one way valve which won’t let any air back into the system when you release the brake.

Before I could do that, however, I had to change out the stock bleeder screws with the new Speedbleeders. This was pretty easy just using an 11mm wrench. When you are doing this, some of the old fluid is going to come out so it’s best to have some rags or paper towels on hand and maybe put some cardboard on the ground. Brake fluid supposedly eats through paint, so be careful not to get it on any painted parts. I also wore some rubber gloves that I had leftover from when I used to work on the Supercub. Another tip is to not open up the brake fluid reservoir until after you are done replacing the bleeder screws so that there is at least some vacuum pressure keeping the fluid from free-flowing out.

Unscrew the old bleeder screw, then screw the Speedbleed in by hand to make sure you are threading it correctly. Then use the wrench to tighten it all the way down until it seats. There’s some sealing material on the threads, so it will take a little muscle to screw them in. Don’t over-tighten them, however!

Once the new Speedbleeders are installed, it’s time to bleed those brakes! You’ll need to have some rubber tubing and a receptacle for the old fluid. I purchased these from Speedbleeder.com for several bucks. It looks like an IV bag that you’d see at the hospital. I put the bag in a bottle just to keep it upright during the process. Attach the tube to the Speedbleeder nipple, then unscrew Speedbleeder about a quarter to a half turn. At this point I opened the brake fluid reservoir and started pumping the brake lever. The old brake fluid will come through the tube and into the bag. Pump it slowly a few times and keep an eye on the reservoir. Make sure to fill it up with the new brake fluid when it gets low. Don’t let the level go into the tube. So just pump and fill until the fluid coming out the Speedbleeder and into the baggie is a nice clear color and you don’t see any air bubbles. This might take a while. Once that is done, tighten the Speedbleeder screw, remove the plastic tubing, and make sure you fill the reservoir up to the correct level. Close up the reservoir and try out the new (hopefully firmer) brake action.

Rear Brake Fluid Reservoir
Nice, new brake fluid in the rear reservoir

Lastly, you can put the little covers over the Speedbleeder nipple. The one they provide is really cheap, so I used the old stock BMW covers which have a retaining ring. By the way, you can put this on after the operation is done since the retaining ring is stretchy enough to go over the bolt.

Front SpeedBleeder Screw with Cap Off
New front Speedbleeder with cap (off)

Old Bleeder Screw
Old BMW bleeder screw

New Rear SpeedBleeder Screw
The shiny new Speedbleeder on the rear

New Rear SpeedBleeder Screw with Cheap Cover
The cheap nipple cap that came with the kit

Front SpeedBleeder Screw with Cap
With the old BMW cap back on

IV Bag
The tube leading to the receptacle

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