3.07.2014

Indy Mad Max Run - Sunday April 27, 2014

In a not so distant dystopian future, there will be the Inaugural Mad Max Run around Indy in the Spring of 2014. This is the ToeCutter's Gang ride (motorcycles only),  dress in any way that is reminiscent of the apocalyptic characters of the Mad Max movies. So grab your Mohawks, leathers, chain mail, furs & sports equipment for the craziest ride of the year.There will be awards too for the most apocalyptically dressed.



The ride starts at 11am to different destinations around the industrial wastelands of Indy and eventually end up at one of the breweries for lunch and a beer. The ride is free and at your own risk.


















1.10.2014

Good Customer Service is hard to find and so are good gloves.

Good fitting gloves are tough for me to find.  Most are too loose or have short fingers.  During the holidays, I spotted some nice looking leather work gloves that looked thick enough for some light motorcycle riding but yet thin enough to actually be useful as work gloves. They're made by a company called Stone Breaker.  I passed them up a few times because I've bought a lot of crappy gloves in the past and didn't want to make that mistake again.

Finally, I decided to pick them up but they were down to one last pair of Mediums.  The index finger on the right glove is twisted counter clockwise but I bought them anyway.  I was browsing around the SB website and found their quality guarantee.  So I sent an email to the customer service team asking if they could be repaired or swapped out for a new pair.  One of the CS Reps emailed me back, apologizing for the issue and wanted to know where to send my new pair of gloves!

Really?   I really didn't expect that response!

**Update**
I just read that the CS Rep I was corresponding to is actually the owner of the company.  Very cool!

Once the weather breaks and I get back to working in the garage and around the house, I'll post a long term review on the Rancher gloves.


12.30.2013

New RIDE for smmwheels

OUT WITH THE "OLD" IN WITH THE "NEW"


 Due to my disability I have not been riding as much as I would have liked. The weight of the F800GS (472 lbs wet) was just too much for me. I sold it and started my search for a new lighter dual sport. 

My biggest problem with the smaller dual sports was their seat height, lack of power, weight, center of gravity and to be honest STYLE. I had a BMW G650GS (423 lbs wet) ordered with low suspension to allow me to stand flat footed and thought was light enough for me.  When the motorcycle finally arrived at the dealership I could in fact throw a leg over it and stand flat footed with no knee bend. While standing over the G650GS, I could not manage to get it up off the lean of the kickstand and balance under my stance, still too heavy and I think overall tall.


After looking at many motorcycles like the Dual Sport Suzuki's, Yamaha's, Kawasaki's, KTM's and many others that were too tall, too heavy and not balanced. I decided to turn my attention to naked sport bikes that I could convert and ride year round.

I previously owed a 2009 Ducati Monster 1100 that I rode until the two of us went sliding through a corner at 45mph and only one of us survived intact. The 1100 Monster had incredible power to weight ratio and really was comfortable to ride long distanced. My first ride on the 1100 was a 400 mile trip through some the curviest roads of southeastern Indiana along the Ohio River. The 1100 was so well balanced that at times I realized I was cornering on one wheel, probably a little more power than I should have given it while turning. In the year and a half I owned it I managed to put over 10,000 miles on it and it was not at all set up for riding in temperatures below 45.



I noticed my local Ducati dealership had a used Monster 696 (407 lbs wet) @ 80hp within my desired price range. After looking at the 696 I decided to look at something with a little more power like the Monster 796 with full

Termignoni exhaust @ 90hp (I have heard that the full Termi exhaust save 15 lbs, I don't know if I believe that or not).

The 796 ABS Monster, at 414 lbs wet does not sound like a big difference but the low center of gravity compared to the G650GS made a HUGE difference for me. Compared to the F800GS the miles per gallon and horse power are about equal, the big saving is the weight difference of 60 lbs. About the only
thing I am giving up is some MPG on the G650GS compared to the Monster. 
  • I got a good deal on this motorcycle and only need to change a few things. It came with two different tires. The rear tire is the Pirelli Angel ST which has decent ratings for all season use. The front is the Pirelli  Diablo which will need to be replaced if I plan on riding it below 45 degrees. I would like the best of both world as to have tires that are sticky and hold high speed corners in the summer and give me excellent traction in the winter. 
  • Since this is considered a "naked" sport bike there is not much available in the way of luggage capacity. I have always been a big fan of Wolfman luggage and have retro-fitted my Rainier Tank bag to fit the Monster. The rear Wolfman Tail bag I already had will be retro fitted as well. When I need major volume for road trip the medium Rollie bag should just strap on the rear on the motorcycle with no problems.  
  • The only other thing I will probably change is the color of the tank and seat cowl. It came with the front bikini fairing that I took and replaced with the electronics cover it came with. On the Ducati Monsters they designed it so the colors could be customized. Ducati sells painted covers for around $700 in a kit that contains the 2 tank covers, the seat cowl, bikini fairing and front fender. I don't need or want to spend that amount of money. I will just get the 2 tank covers and the seat cowl painted to a color I like and nobody else has. The front fender is carbon fiber, so it can stay the CF color. 
  •  With this new smaller lighter motorcycle I will be riding every chance I get. I miss the old days when I was putting major mileage on my motorcycles. This may not be the best bike for long trips but I will make it work since most of my riding will be local and short trips down to the curvy roads in southern Indiana. Although my dirt days and river crossings may have temporarily come to an end, I will always find an enjoyable ear to ear grin inspiring road around the obstacle.     






    12.17.2013

    Moto Foto Monday Tuesday: B&W Edition

    The winter days can seem pretty monochromatic, so let's stick with that theme!





    And last but not least, a little Krampus for your holiday festivities.


    12.09.2013

    Moto Foto Monday!


    This weeks MFM theme is inspired by the film "Why We Ride".  
    So, it will be motorcycles of all sorts! 
    Because all bikes are cool in there own way. 
























    (Only three of these pics belong to me, the rest are property of their owners. If one of them is your image and you'd like me to remove it, just let me know.)

    11.15.2013

    Motorcycle Camping with Sleep Apnea




    In preparation for a motorcycle camping trip, I had some new considerations to accommodate my recent diagnosis of Sleep Apnea. 

    It had been awhile since I last went backpacking and a thorough inventory of my equipment was a must.  Proper storage, good equipment and care has kept my equipment in nice condition over the past 8 years. Digging through my camping storage bin revealed most all the equipment I would need. Much of what I found in that bin will cover most of my needs however, being recently diagnosed with Sleep Apnea has put some constraints on the sleeping freedom I had taken for granted.

    Every night since my Sleep Apnea diagnosis I have had a ResMed S9 Auto CPAP machine clung to my face like an alien face hugger from the movie Alien. With a sleep dependency as my top concern, finding an alternative power source that could run my CPAP machine while I slept at night was my top priority. 

    While my riding group were still in the trip planning phase, I stopped into my local medical supplier to acquire a power adapter and battery that would give me some independence from the AC power outlet I'm currently chained to. Unfortunately, the medical supplier had only the necessary attachments to run my CPAP machine from a 12-volt power source but not a 12v battery.

    The accessories I was given had some large alligator clips to attach to the terminals on a 12 or 24-volt battery. On the other end of the clips was a car lighter receptacle. The power supply provided for the CPAP machine had a male car socket that attached to the receptacle leading from the battery. My next problem was finding a battery that was light enough to carry on the motorcycle and backpacking, durable, and could power a the machine for a a minimum of 8 hours.

    Several options came to mind ranging from RC battery packs, car batteries, even power wheel batteries. After doing a bit of research I decided the best option would be an Absorption Glass Mat battery. An AGM would provide the benefits of a deep cycle battery while keeping the battery light and leak free.


    MagnaPower AGM Battery with ResMed Power Supply
    Confident that the CPAP would run for the amount of time I needed it to, I charged the MagnaPower battery using a automobile battery charger and began packing the bike for the trip.

    Stopping into the local auto part store, I found was a small 12-volt ATV battery with 180 cold cranking amps which would provide a 10amp hour run time. Produced by MagnaPower. Sealed and rugged, these batteries can take a beating and can out perform a deep cycle battery on discharge and charging. The price of the battery was around $75.

    Eager as I am to try new things, I attached the accessories to the battery and ran my CPAP machine for 1 night at home. When I woke the next morning the machine was still running. The battery came pre-charged with a voltage reading of 12.45v. After running the CPAP for 7 hours from the better the voltage indicated 11.45v. Given that the machine was still running I would presume that at a certain voltage the power supply will cut off.


    Unpacking and assembling the CPAP machine was a breeze. At night I protected the battery leads, using the box, just in case I kicked the battery over in my sleep. The machine ran a full 6-8 hours and in the morning I was able to charge my phone from it as well. 



    More recently I've been doing research on this particular battery and the power consumption of the CPAP machine. ResMed provides a nice guide that explores each model, the amp draw at different power settings and a recommendation for the size of battery. According to the chart I would need to use a 12 amp hours per  8 hours of continuous power and ruining a treatment pressure of 10 on my ResMed S9 Auto CPAP. Here is a link to ResMed's Battery Guide

    Though this battery worked for a single night, a daily charging solution will need to be considered. I will be looking into a solar charging option that will also work as a tender for the battery. The solar charging option will give me the ability to charge during the day with out the need to tap into my alternator and risk over taxing it. Overall though, I would recommend purchasing a larger battery that at minimum would last 2 days or if weight isn't a concern, a more traditional sized battery.





    11.13.2013

    Riding to Work: A look at my daily carry

    Being a gear, gadget, and a lots of stuff kind of guy I carry a lot of "essentials" with me from day to day.

    Trying to keep my riding items to a minimum, I left the house today with what I considered to be necessary for the day. Those items break up into 3 categories: cold weather riding gear, clothing/accessories, and work related items. Here is the basic break down.

    Cold Weather Riding Gear

    • Boots
    • Smartwool Socks
    • Riding pants with thermal liner
    • Wicking Shirt
    • Wicking long sleeve base layer
    • Riding jacket with thermal liner
    • Balaclava
    • Ear plugs
    • Heated riding gloves
    • Helmet
    • Sena SMH-10

    Clothing/Accessories

    • Shoes
    • Jeans
    • Shirt
    • Jacket
    • Hair gel 
    • Phone
    • Wallet
    • Charging cable
    • Large duffle bag

    Work Items

    • Misc Papers
    • Notebook
    Items that always stay on the bike include, disc lock, cable lock, tools, rain gear, extra ear plugs, and rain covers for all soft bags.

    I park my bike in a large public lot outside my work. Being that I only have soft bags, it is impossible for me to properly secure something on the bike. As a result I carry almost all of my items into work. Slipping into a bathroom stall, a lackluster superman interpretation, I change and pack all my items into two bags. A large duffle and my tank bag. The duffle contains my boots, jacket, and helmet. My tank bag holds my pants and other smaller gear items.


    Though not ideal, this method has so far been the most compact way to  carry my gear into work. I'm hoping that some hard cases will remedy this situation but for now I'll make due.

    If anyone has another suggestion please feel free to leave a comment below.