Isle of Man

Tam posted a great IoM video.

I'm fairly certain that is the "lottery dream" of about 98% of motorcyclist across the globe.  Kids riding 5 up in Indonesia have dreams of racing around an island they have never heard of.  Maybe the Isle is the gateway to the kingdom of the Moto-gods.  If you get smeared there, it's straight to the big racetrack in the netherworld.  Valhalla for bikers, racers, trail riders and all other two-wheeled souls.


YAMAHA SECA II: Now featuring MSR Handguards

A few weeks ago I took a short motorcycle trip on the Yamaha Seca II. Nothing crazy but the weather was a bit chilly. When I purchased the Yamaha Seca II from Red, it came with a set of soft MSR hard guards and heated grips. Those two things have made wearing 3 season gloves very tolerable. One issues with the soft hand guards were that they put pressure on the control levers. The left guard would ride the clutch while the right guard activited the brake light. To fix this I ordered a set of MSR Handguards.

The MSR Handguards come in two colors. Black and Silver. I went with silver because I like shinny things. After the package arrived I popped open the plastic on the dinner table. A spattering of small parts did a lovely dance towards the table edges. When I gathered everything up in a pile I realized some of the parts didn’t make sense. I tried my best to solve the parts puzzle but I was thrown off when parts that initially didn’t fit did. Some parts were in a small plastic bag and others were loose in the package. I wondered if there was some logic behind that. So far I've determined no.

I searched the package for some instructions and found none. I also went online to look at the pictures. Still didn’t help. Next step, to the bike.

The bar clamps were obvious so I started there. Once I got the bars attached to the clamps problems began to reveal themselves. Due to the length of the handlebars, the bar clamps needed attached close to the control cables. I assume this is because I’m attempting to put guards on a street bike other than a dirt or dual sport bike. The front brake side gave me the most grief. I had to negotiate the clamp under the control cables so tightly that it was necessary to remove factory the cable tie.

Once I got the claps securely on I needed to remove the bar ends. As a substitute for the bar ends, ideally two metals pieces would expand affixing themselves within the handlebars. I do not like the fact that this leaves an open area in the bar for dirt, water and other grim to get in. This mounting option didn't work for me. I suspect the Seca bars are two narrow for the MSR handguard bars. Using the rubber included in the package, I compressed against the "nut" inside the bar ends. The compression caused the rubber to expand and seated well within the bar end threads. I’m hoping the rubber does its job keeping stuff out and the nut doesn't vibrate loose falling inside the handlebars.

With the bars now on I had to position them slightly above the control levers. The ball ends on the levers will bump the insides of the bars. I’m hoping they are still protected in the event of a crash. The MSR bars feel solid and secure.

After the bar installation I strapped the MSR soft hand guards on. Perfect. I plan on riding in the cold weather this weekend to see how they work.

During the summer I may remove them or order the small plastic hand guards that attach on the inside of the MSR bars.

Overall they add another character to the bike and I have no doubt they’ll do their job on my next winter motorcycle adventure.


Cold Weather Ride Report - Saturday 1/5/2013

Red looking Hi Viz
Today Red, Wheels, and I got the bikes out for a short 25 degree weather ride. We choose to meet at a local Yamaha dealership. It was the closest motorcycle dealership to me and I suspected that I might need new gloves for cold riding days.

On the way to the dealership it became evident that I was going to have two problems in the weather. Fog in my face shield and numb fingertips. I was trying to do the windshield calculation on the way over, wondering if it was cold enough to do permanent damage to my fingers. Running full blast, my grip warmers did do a great job of keeping my palms warm but they couldn't keep up with the wind passing over my finger tips.

Wheels packing the BMW F 800 GS
With all the torture, you couldn't help to feel a little hardcore when you pull into a motorcycle dealership that was dominated by cars in the parking lot. Even drivers on the road look at you in amazement or disgust, it was hard to tell through the fog.

I settled on a pair of Firstgear Carbon Heated gloves. Of course I didn't have a controller to run them and after spending $130 another $60–$150 just wasn't in the budget. Graciously Wheels had a spare at his house.

Foregoing our original trip plans, we rode to Wheels place to install the control unit. The installation was quick. Slinging a few zip ties and attaching the unit to the bikes battery we had the installation done in no time. Because the gloves didn't come with the appropriate Y cable, wheels let me borrow his Firstgear heated jacket which had glove plugs in the sleeves.

When we got back on the road the first thing I noticed was how warm that jacket was. We weren't sure which way the switch increased and decreased the heat so we just cranked it clockwise. The jacket got warm. very warm. The gloves themselves felt warm or at least my fingers weren't hurting.
Hanging out at the coffee/bank.

The rest of the ride was spent between grabbing coffee and checking out eye candy at the Ducati dealership.

About 15-20 minutes into my ride on the way home, my hands were nice and toasty in the gloves. I am very impressed with them.

FirstGear Heat Control Knob

Also, I moved the switch from its temporary home to the fairing near my heated grip switch. Now I needed to figure out if I'll purchase the Firsgear heated jacket or grab the Y DC Coax cable to use the gloves without the jacket.

The girls back together


Introduction to smmwheels

Everybody has always called me “Wheels”. I have been riding motorcycles for thirty plus years and had my first car at the age of fourteen. There have been many times in my life where I have owned several bikes and several cars. I have never been one to leave anything the way it was purchased; I have always enjoyed personalizing my vehicles. Wheels was always kind of a cool name until it took on a new meaning in 1999 when after spending a month in a coma with no physical therapy, I was told I would never walk or drive again. WTF. I did all the normal physical therapy stuff and quickly was on my feet and driving again. It took me a little more time to get the strength and desire back to start looking for a new lightweight motorcycle with a way to shift with my toe and heel since I no longer had any strength lifting up my feet. I have been riding dirt bikes since a very young age and went looking at Dual Sport bikes that I could stand flat footed on. I found a very enthusiastic Kawasaki salesman who really wanted to get me riding again. He suggested the 2006 KLR with KoubaLink lowering links -1⅝” and a low Corbin seat which would give me the proper height I needed. He had a welder that owed him a favor so he took the KLR over to him to weld on a toe/heel shifter that would let me shift normally (well like somebody with no disability). He delivered it to my house and I learned to ride again in my neighborhood of familiar turf.  Just like never forgetting to ride a bicycle the love and skills burst forth and I was riding like the old day but this time with an ear-to-ear grin that still exists today. I suffered a little set back at work in December after purchasing the KLR in October; I fell and broke both my tibia and fibula which one again sidelined me for about six months. Red and I worked together at a place neither one of us want to admit but that's where we became friends. During time on the sideline I decided to “personalize” the KLR. I ordered a slip on Supertrapp ISD2 racing exhaust and high performance normal maintenance supplies. I called red and he came over and helped me install the new parts. I had the need to ride again so spent some time in the garage removing my cast; the leg was fine I had a metal plate now holding my leg together. The next winter I ordered new tires switching from the slippery knobby's to a set of Michelin Anakee’s and spent a cold December day on the KLR riding around looking for someone to install my new tires. I rode for hours and finally decided to stop by the Ducati shop by my house. The main tech in that day happened to be the co-owner, he provided great service and we talked about bike and stuff that could be done to help the KLR. So in January I returned to the shop to have some performance modifications like jetting, new gears and a couple hours on the Dyno. The improvements were amazing. That day at Ducati I fell in love with the Ducati Monster 1100 (naked sport bike) and sold the KLR in September of 2009 and got the Monster. The Duc was powerful, well balanced and a lot of fun but it hated temperatures below 45°, so it got put away in the winter, which really was the hardest thing I have ever done. In March I purchased another bike, one that I could ride all the time. I bought a 2010 BMW F800GS (Lava Orange) and quickly fell in love with it. The Monster had an unfortunate demise in July after sliding through a corner with a little gravel on Indiana State Road 135.  Now if I’m out trail riding, I have a favorite motorcycle. If I’m riding on the road, I’ve got a favorite. If I’m jumping, I have a favorite. If I’m racing, I have a favorite. If I’m just doing anything, I’ve got my favorite. All my favorites happen to be my F800GS. Oh’ as for the car I drive an extremely high performance VW GTI.

smmwheels - Steve