31 December 2010

Playing Around with a new Tracking Software

As Garmin Basecamp is pretty much unusable for any normal Mac user (and don't get me started on the flaws, it would take too much of my precious spare time to list them), I'm looking around for a software I can use for archiving tracks.

So far, the one I have found that might work for me is rubiTrack.

I just started playing around with it and it is more targeted for runners and bicyclists, but it might be good for keeping track of some interesting tracks from motorcycling, too.

Here's a nice screenshot (click the image for a larger view):

It also seems to work directly with my Garmin GPSMap 60CSx. I'll use it for a while and report back, but it looks promising so far.

26 December 2010

It's Christmas - Do Something Good!

If you are in the mood of doing a nice creature something good - click on the photo of the donkey on the right side of the page. It will lead you to the page of the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada where you can either just donate to the cause or even sponsor a donkey.

Donkeys are very lovely, patient, and intelligent animals and they love to be treated well - same as we do. And at the sanctuary they find companions, friends, supporters, and a lot of caring people. It's a good thing to support.

If you can - donate some dollars or sponsor one of the donkeys. We sponsor Earl Grey - and have visited him. He's really a character!

25 December 2010

Making the R1200GS More Off-Road Worthy

One of the things I found when riding in Southern California, being on some non-paved stretches, is that a bike needs good "tummy protection", especially when the ground clearance is not dirt bike like and when sand gets deep and there are ruts and rocks around.

The R1200GS has a not too bad ground clearance of roughly 19cm ( 7.5 inches). That's not too bad, but also not really good. The GS Adventure has quite a bit more but as I have the standard GS, it's something to be aware off.

When I was riding through the deeper sand in SoCal I didn't hit anything and I was pretty careful, but nevertheless, I was thinking of protecting the Catalytic Converter a bit more (sits right behind the standard bash plate and also to protect the side exhaust pipes. Wasn't very high on my list until we started looking into doing some off-road training next year. Even then this special part wasn't high on my list as the R1200GS has some not too bad protection underneath. You'd have to get unlucky to damage something badly.

$10 Well Spent

When I came back from my trip to Southern California I had a few ideas on how to improve the R1200GS for more comfort for me personally.

One thing I noticed are that the grips are fairly "skinny" and that for my hand size I would like them slightly thicker. Now, that was definitely something I didn't want to spent a lot of money on so I searched a bit and found the "Grip Puppies". Hmmm. Ten bucks? Worth a try ...

05 December 2010

More Gear that Works

Somehow, during the move from Germany, one or two of our moving boxes must have been lost somewhere. Maybe we brought them somewhere and forgot, maybe they were lost on the way to Canada or on the way to California. We don't know.

They contained:
  • an old motorcycle jacket from me
  • a full leather motorcycle suit
  • leather pants
  • two pairs of gloves (I really miss the winter gloves)
  • a neck warmer
  • a pair of motocross boots
  • and, one thing I really missed: knee warmers
Sometimes, call me stupid and you are right, I ride with my jeans instead of motorcycle pants with protectors - I only do that in town, on my commute, or similar, it's still stupid, but I just don't want to put the pants on every single time I get on the bike as the bike is my main transport. 

The main problem I have with jeans is the air that goes through so easily. It's not a big problem at the muscles, but it definitely is a problem for my knees. Therefore I had some neoprene knee warmers from Thermo Boy. They were absolutely awesome, I loved them, and I just had to get them, even as they are not sold in North America [1].

The things are just worn over the pants, closed with velcro and they keep your knees really warm. I bought them from an online store in Germany (Polo) for EUR 14.95, had them shipped to my mom there and she sent them to California. Worked out well. (Thanks, Mom!)

Long story short: if you are in Europe, preferrably Germany, or have somebody there, and if you sometimes have trouble with your knees getting cold and stiff when motorcycling, get a pair of those and your problem is solved! They can be worn over leather pants, even over motorcycle pants if the protectors are not too big. But then, if the protectors are large and thick, you won't need them anyways. I have them in my topcase at all times as I even wear them in the summer at night or in the morning, when it's chilly.


When Andrea and I were on the International Motorcycle Show here in San Mateo we also looked around for some gear to complete what we already have.

Andrea got a "neck warmer", a fleece collar that keeps neck and shoulders warm, also a better thingy to keep her hair back under the helmet and we both got some dual sport boots and Sokz.

The boots are Forma Boots (be aware, the site is crappy flash with stupid sound and music). They seem to be decent quality and we got a very good price for two pairs and four pairs of Sokz. Yes, the spelling is correct ...

I used the boots on my 2100km trip to Southern California and must say that they were really good. I might not like them as much in heat, but during the cold ride over Thanksgiving they worked pretty well, keeping my feet reasonably warm. Or, putting it this way, I didn't get cold from the feet up, it rather started at my hands, then arms and shoulders, then legs, then body, the feet really were the last body parts that got cold.

So far, thumbs up for the boots!

What works ...

There are some things I normally carry in my top case just because I know it might be helpful to have them with me (you can click on the picture on the right to see it in full size):

  • A small Maglite flashlight. I actually recommend a head lamp, but right now, I'm carrying the Maglite
  • Two small zip ties (more are in the tool roll)
  • The green thing is a a small towel
  • The black straps are elastic straps useful for pretty much everything that needs to be strapped somewhere
  • A Leatherman Wave combi tool
  • The plugs in the top middle are adaptors from the BMW 12V board system to USB; with this I can recharge an iPhone if I really have to
  • A tire gauge
  • Pre-moistured wipes for my glasses
  • A package of tissues (yes, the good German ones that are actually usable, not the  Kleenex crap); also some bigger paper towels
  • A small roll of duct tape
  • Spare earplugs for me, a potential passenger, and one pair as an emergency spare
Under the seat I currently have a beefed up tool set, that includes most items I need to make small fixes when on a trip, like tightening bolts or adjusting levers. At the moment I don't carry a tire kit, but I would probably just buy a complete one like this.