Small Displacement Madness!

My bike lust has been focused on dual sports for quite some time but this winter a strange twist has developed.  Where I was once drooling over a KLR650 or DR650, I know find myself thinking about smaller bikes with less power.  I've always had a hankering for a DRZ400SM but I rode a TW200 once and it really made an impression.  Now, I find myself thinking about those big beautiful fat tires, big fuel mileage and little thumpy engine. 

Realistically, my riding will be 90% commute/fun and 10% long range.  The wee little TDub excels at city work and fun riding but long distance is not it's strong suit.  However, with a change in gearing it can run at acceptable US Highway speeds.  The tiny fuel tank can be swapped out for one from an XT350 which should yield about 180 miles before reserve.  The idea of minimal touring on such a small bike sounds good to me.  After all, there isn't anything to see on the interstate. 



With the death of EBR looking to actually be the end of Erik Buell's time building production bikes, another phoenix has risen out of the ashes!

47Moto was started by Mike Samarzja, a long time Buell design manager. The design definitely shows the EBR influence.  The first bike, the Mosquito looks like an absolute blast!  Boasting 90mpg and up to 90mph, adjustable foot pegs, and intelligent EFI.

The site promises future bikes, including the Firefly, a City-X Adventure bike! That definitely sounds (looks) like small version of my favorite bike, the Buell XB12X Ulysses.  

This looks like it could be the perfect bike for my needs. 

I hope they will be able to offer affordable bikes with great features and not become another failed start up. 


GS650GL Resurrection: Part 1

A few years ago, a friend purchased his first bike, a 1981 Suzuki GS650GL.  It's your average UJM in cruiser dress, sporting an inline 4 with shaft drive.  Shortly after he bought it, he couldn't get it started.  While digging into the cause, we found a lot of half-assed "work" by the previous owner (spit).  He decided to tear down the carbs and give it a good once over. This being his first dive into all things mechanical, it had a bumpy start, followed by some progress, then nothing.  His free time decreased until the little Suzuki sat in my garage, rotting away.

Flash forward, his wife is due in 3 weeks and the little 'Zuki was still hibernating in the garage at my old house.  I offered to get it back on the road but in exchange I could ride it until his life gets back to a point where he can start riding again.  With the deal accepted, it was time to free the bike from it's cocoon and move it to my new garage.

Under the cruiser guise sits potential for a fun bike!

Not as much room as my last garage but the space is better. Sometimes, less is more.

Within the hour, I had the tank pulled and drained, the carbs pulled and bowls off. 

Not too bad for a bike that hasn't run in about 2 years.

Since I don't own the bike, I can't make any permanent mods.  I plan on adding taller rear shocks, dropping the triple down about an inch, replacing the bars and fabing my own seat and mounts for a top case.

Stay tuned.


Mating Ritual: LS2 Pioneer and SENA SMH5

A couple of people have asked how I installed my SENA SMH5 on to the LS2 Pioneer.  It wasn't very difficult compared to my other helmets but the slider for the internal visor is right in the sweet spot for a Bluetooth module.

I used the clamp mount and positioned it just behind the slider.

The internal part of the mount is between the EPS liner and shell. It's going to take some force to get it in there, so don't be gentle with it. You may need to separate the mount pieces.  After the mount was in place, I removed the liner, neck roll and cheek pads to make installing the speakers and microphone easier.

A little gaffer tape helps keep the microphone in place. 

To avoid wind noise, keep the microphone off to the side.

Extra wiring hidden under the neck roll.

Left speaker in place.

There are no real speaker pockets but there is enough room to squeeze them in there.  It will take some trial and error to get them in a position that is comfortable and gives you the best sound quality. 

I used a zip tie to help keep strain off the wires and hold them in place.

I love this helmet.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Stay safe out there.


Still alive...


We're still here, just busy with non motorcycle parts of life.  In the meantime, feast your eyes on a wasteland worthy KTM.  (Just in time to get excited for the 2017 Indy Mad Max Run.)

We'll be back up to speed in 2018. Until then, stay safe and keep the rubber side down.


Viking Bags - Dirtman Enduro Saddlebags

Commuting on a bike tends to require some storage space for things like rain gear, layers and other daily needs.  On a bike like the Ducati Monster, there aren't a lot of budget friendly, daily use luggage options.  Viking Bags  mainly specializes in luggage for cruiser bikes but recently they have added a line of dirt/dual sport luggage.  It includes the Dirtman Enduro Saddlebags and the Dirtman Enduro Tank Bag.  The Monster already has a tank bag so some saddlebags were needed.  

For $80, you get both saddlebags and the mounting hardware.  The bags are rubber lined on the main compartment so they offer some weather resistance but for serious downpours, I would use either an over bag or a dry sack inside. Each bag has an exterior pocket and a single compression strap. The zippers are nice and large and are covered by a storm flap to help keep out the elements. Total storage space is listed as 1375 cubic inches, it's definitely plenty for a daily use saddlebag or even a long weekend if you pack light.  

Since these are made for a dual sport / enduro bike, it will take some trial and error to get them to work with your street bike.  The install time for the Duc was about 10 min.  Some strap trimming was required.  If you trim, be sure to melt the ends of the webbing so it doesn't fray. 

Once mounted, they've been secure and work perfectly for daily use. Anything larger would really be overkill for daily use and anything smaller wouldn't be enough.  

Plenty of room left over!

Contents of Left Bag
1. Hi Viz Safety Vest
2. LED Light 
3. Gauntlet Gloves
4. Short Cuff Gloves
5. Neck Gaiters (warm and cool weather)

Contents of Right Bag:
1. Rain Jacket
2. Rain Pants
3. Tank Bag Rain Cover
4. Water Bottle

Overall these bags are a killer deal and worth every penny.  I'm looking forward to putting some serious miles on them.  


The Viking Bags Dirtman Enduro Saddlebags were provided by Viking Bags for this review.


Gear Review: LS2 Pioneer Review

LS2 Pioneer Review

Click here for the post covering the SENA SMH5 installation.

I've been lusting after a dual sport helmet ever since I saw the Simpson GS-3 MX.  I loved the styling, the large field of view and the air flow.  However, I didn't buy one due to terrible reviews. When I got my Ulysses, I started shopping for a dual sport lid again.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find one that offered multiple shell sizes, fit for a long oval head and priced under $300.  When LS2 offered me a chance to review their new dual sport helmet, I was ecstatic to learn that not only did it meet the above requirements, it is also DOT / ECE rated and has a whole laundry list of other great features.

First, a little background on the fastest growing helmet company you've probably never heard of.  LS2 has been manufacturing helmets for several large companies for 8 years.  They are the #1 selling helmet company in Spain (their home country), #2 in Italy and #3 in France.  In addition to having a Moto GP Team, they have been worn by winners of the Dakar (3 quad riders and 2 motorcycle).  Their moto is "Best product for the price and the best price for the product.", and if the rest of their products are like the Pioneer, they are sticking to that motto.

LS2 is factory owned, with production done in a factory north of Hong Kong.  The location features a full test lab covering all the major certifications: DOT, SNELL, ECE plus Japanese and Australian certs.  After a helmet is created, samples are sent to Southwest Research for independent testing and verification, the results of those tests can be found on the LS2 website.

Let's get down to the meat and potatoes of the Pioneer!


Made from a proprietary blend, called KPA (Kinetic Polymer Alloy) it keeps the helmet light but delivers low penetration rate and allows the shell to flex in order to assist with energy absorption. The Pioneer is produced in three shell sizes.  As I mentioned in my review of the Icon Airmada, finding a helmet that offers multiple shell sizes is a priority of mine.  The less weight on your neck, the safer you are.

The Pioneer comes in two color schemes, Solid and Trigger. I was torn between the Hi Viz Trigger and Matte Black.  Black, especially matte black, being the fastest color, won.

The peak blocks a great amount of sunlight and has minimal drag, even at highway speeds on my naked bike. The drag is decreased by having large cut-outs on the peak. It is removable but I think the benefits far outweigh a little drag.  You can adjust its placement up and down by about 5mm each direction.  If you push it all the way down (forward?) it does contact the visor when it is raised.

There are 5 vents built into the shell: 1x chin vent (close-able), 2x top vents and 2x side vents.  They flow a massive amount of air and funnel it out via 2x exhaust ports on the backside.


The visor gives you a huge field of vision and is UV, fog and scratch resistant.  Most of my commutes have been in temps ranging from 40 to 80 degrees, thanks to all the airflow, fog has not been a problem.  When shopping for dual sport helmets in the past, the visors all seemed to have some distortion due to the curve of the shield.  The Pioneer is distortion free and seems to be 100% optically correct.   It's easy to clean and the removal process, while not as fast as most street helmets, is simple.  Unscrew the side screws, remove the peak and visor. Assembly is the reverse.

The Pioneer features a drop down internal tinted visor that is operated via slider on the left side of the helmet.  Some helmets use a clunky linkage or spring system to operate their visors, the Pioneer uses a cable.  Due to the peak blocking a good amount of sunlight, I haven't really needed to use the internal shield very often.  When I have used it, it has worked well and is easy to operate.

I tested a set of goggles and they fit perfectly.  The goggles fit properly within the eyeport of the helmet, the visor closes over the strap without issue.  The strap sits securely between the exhaust port and a raised section above the DOT tag.  


The Pioneer uses  a multi-density EPS that is channeled to help air flow.  The liner is hypoallergenic, removable, washable, breathable and does a good job at wicking away sweat.  The liner features a recessed portion for glasses.  I wear "vintage" style glasses with thick arms and they fit well without being pressed into my head.

The cheek pads are laser cut from a solid piece of foam and feel much nicer than the standard pieced together cheek pads in most helmets.  Another feature of the cheek pads is the quick removal loops on the bottom.  If you are ever in a crash, EMS workers can pull straight down/out to remove the pads and then remove your helmet with a greatly lower chance of compromising your c-spine. This really should be an industry standard in all helmets.  I spent a brief time as an EMT and removing a helmet from an injured person is no easy task.

Instead of the standard D-ring buckle system, the Pioneer uses a ratcheting buckle system with a quick release tab.  It is DOT approved and a time saver, especially if you need to adjust/remove your helmet while wearing your gloves.

Fit and Comfort

I wear an XS in every helmet I've ever owned. I prefer my helmets to be tight, on the verge of uncomfortable. The Pioneer seems to run a bit big.  Not unsafe but just a bit looser than I like.  This is easily solved by wearing a Buff or other type of balaclava which I do on about 90% of my rides anyway.  The internal shape is a long oval style and fits great with no hot spots or pressure points. The wind noise isn't bad, with ear plugs it's just a bit louder than my other full face helmets.  As I mentioned before, the peak does cause some drag at highway speed but it's not terrible, even without a fairing.  It's only really noticeable during head-checks but it's not enough to jerk your head back.


For a helmet that falls in the sub $150 price range, I was truly amazed at the overall build quality and features that are packed into this lid.  The vents all work well, the chin vent opens and closes smoothly. The visor latches closed securely, there no mid position notches, it's held in place by friction.  I've found no issues or "quirks".  Using black EPS would be a good touch (maybe there is a reason why it's white?).  Overall, the quality is outstanding.  

Final Thoughts

My ICON Airmada was my go-to helmet but I've been grabbing the Pioneer instead. It delivered features and quality far above my expectations, especially for the price.  Besides the slightly loose fit, I have found no negative points to this helmet.