08 November 2011

Finally ...

What we actually wanted to buy when we came to the US - but it wasn't available at the time.

2012 VW Golf TDI - stick shift of course

28 October 2011

Spot Tracker or Personal Beacon?

In my opinion an "adventure trip" on a motorcycle means going to remote places, riding lonely roads, often unpaved, sometimes trails. Going to places like the Death Valley or Mojave back country. Riding in places where you might not see another person for hours.

Yes, this kind of riding can be dangerous. Small things that on a normal paved road with traffic wouldn't be a problem can become a major issue in the back of beyond. A flat tire or broken down bike 50 miles or more away from the next water supply in 40C heat, an injury from a fall on the tough terrain - you name it and you can probably imagine what I'm talking about.

So, what are the typical pre-cautions? Of course, proper riding gear, boots, gloves, helmets, sometimes even dirt riding gear like pressure suits or similar. Having a basic repair kit. Tools for fixing a tire. Water. A first aid kit.

But what happens if you really need help?

How do you notify somebody if you have no cell phone coverage and there is nobody around that might be able to ride out and alert someone?

The tools for this are basically two different flavors of GPS enabled devices:
  1. Tracking tools with two way communication like a SPOT tracker.
  2. A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) which you only activate when you need help.
There are some major differences between the two:
  • SPOT is more active. It sends your position to a Satellite system on a regular basis so that you can lay out a "breadcrumb" trail other people can follow, e.g. on a website. There is nothing like this with PLBs.
  • The SPOT backchannel (sending messages to the system) is supported by a commercial entity while PLBs use SARSAT, the federal Search And Rescue system.
  • When you hit the "help" button on a SPOT device, your call is routed to a "call center"-type support group which will then alert local authorities and communicate your GPS to those. When you activate a PLB, federal and local authorities are notified directly without a man in the middle.
  • The SPOT system communicates your GPS position to the SPOT communication center. You can only hope that this is precise and actually works. A PLB sends your GPS position and turns on an analog "beacon" radio signal that can be used by search and rescue teams for finding your position.
  • PLB signal strength for sending the help signal is many times stronger than the SPOT signal. 
  • Even if your satellite signal is not making it, there is a chance that the analog radio emergency signal is caught by someone listening on the official emergency channel.
  • With SPOT you can send a "I'm okay" message. There isn't really something comparable with PLBs. With those "no news are good news".
  • SPOT has been known to work only in 98% of the cases at best. Many people had trouble with the actual devices, hardware and software glitches were very common for the first as well as the second generation.
  • There is no yearly fee for a PLB, SPOT service costs around $100 / year.
Now, you can probably already see where this is heading. 

To make it short: if you want to signal "I'm okay", have someone follow your "trail" actively and maybe have a chance of calling for help when you're in trouble, SPOT is what you want.

Personally, I'll rather go the route of not sending my position all the time, having the nice tracking website that tells people that the house is empty and they can break in, but instead I want to have a device I can really rely on when I'm in trouble. Something I will only turn on when I need help. But then, when I need help - I want to be as certain as possible that someone actually receives that call. 

Therefore, a Personal Locator Beacon is the tool for me. This is what I'll get for the adventures to come (motorcycle trips to California deserts and other trails, a planned hiking trip through the Grand Canyon, Andrea's climbing tours, etc):

ACR ResQLink

It's an ACR ResQLink Personal Beacon. When activated it locks on the GPS satellite system to get the current position, communicates this position to SARSAT, meaning to special authorities that actually know something about Search And Rescue, and then continues to send an analog signal that can be used for locating the device. It also has a bright LED strobe light at the front, adding a visual effect to the mix.

This is probably the only gear that I hope I will never ever use. But if I need to - I'll be glad to have it and I want the best chances that it actually works.

26 October 2011

Sneaky Peek ...

For a trip I plan to make in November, here are some parts I have received something today that'll give you an impression of the planned ride:

Dunlop D606 Rear Tire

It's a set of Dunlop D606 tires. I'll mount them on 21" front and 18" rear rims I have already received. These are for my WR250X of course.

Items I have ordered to convert the "X" into a little Adventure Tourer:
  • 21" front rim, 18" rear rim
  • 44T rear sprocket
  • All necessary bits and pieces to mount the tires myself to the rims and the wheels then to the bike
  • Wolfman side racks
  • Wolfman Expedition Dry Bags
  • OEM Spark Arrestor
  • R-Model side stand as the X side stand is too short for the bike when I remove the lowering links and install the much taller tires

A few missing pieces where I have to decide on the exact item to order:
  • Larger gas tank, likely a Safari 3.7 gallon tank (original is 1.9 gallon which is a bad joke) (Link to a blue one installed on a WR250R - I'd get it in white)
  • Hand guards, likely Barkbuster Storm as they have good weather protection and are reasonably priced
  • A skid plate - for this bike it makes actually sense, though I might not do it for this years trip, yet to decide on this

08 October 2011

Fun Bike - Yamaha WR250X

Two weeks ago, I bought another motorcycle. Yes, I really did and I know it's crazy. It falls under MBS (Multiple Bikes Syndrom), a condition some people have that does not allow them to own just a single motorcycle.

Ah, enough about me, what about the bike? A photo first:

My new to me Yamaha WR250X

I was looking for a bike for dirt riding for quite a while. Didn't admit it early, but I really wanted one. But, I wanted one that is also street legal and a nice ride on back roads. Something versatile and fun, still capable to ride dirt roads, single tracks, trails, fire service roads and so on. It was all about the things I couldn't or wouldn't want to do with my BMW. So, it had to be light weight, not too expensive (when dropped), dirt oriented. 

One of the bikes that came to mind was the Suzuki DR200SE Andrea had earlier. But it has two really big downsides: First, a carburetor which clogs up with the crappy ethanol contaminated gas we have here in California if you let the bike sit for a few weeks - which might happen. Second, it was a bit short on power with it's 20HP (at crank and on paper, big thumb calculation and seat-of-pants feeling says around 15HP at the rear wheel at max on good days). It was sometimes a bit scary on a highway as it would go over 60 mph but it certainly took it's time and it really didn't like it there all too much. All the same is true for the Yamaha XT250 or XT225.

Next a Kawasaki KLX250S came to mind. This also has a carburetor but it scores around 20 to 21 usable rear wheel HP, at least 25% more - getting close. Carburetor still was an issue for me. 

I never considered the Suzuki DRZ400 as I wanted a smoother motorcycle, not a vibrator ... and I also never considered the 650cc class - these are too heavy for what I was looking for and the available models from the Japanese companies in the US are also technically very outdated, you could say "dinosaur like" outdated.

My criteria were:
  • around 130kg wet weight
  • around 30HP (crank, hopefully around 25 to 30 rear wheel)
  • fuel injection
  • not too bad with regard to vibrations
  • high quality suspension
  • good after market support
I immediately discounted all things KTM, Husqvarna, and whatnot as too esoteric.

Given all this, there was actually only a single bike on the market that might do it for me - the  Yamaha WR250R (or X with a second set of wheels). Now, here we are getting close. I would have loved this bike in a 350cc or 400cc package but that's not available and so I was absolutely willing to get a 250. 

The street legal Yamaha WR250 comes in two versions: a supermoto style WR250X with street wheels and tires, slightly tighter suspension setup, stronger front brake, and the dirt style WR250R. I was mostly looking for the R model but as the components are pretty much interchangeable I also included the X in my search. And lucky that I did as there were much more X models available. My most hated dealership around the corner here, the Honda dealer in Sunnyvale, had a 2009 WR250X in black, 5000 miles, $5000. But true to their normal style that was about $800 over Kelly Blue Book dealer retail price for a 2009 model with half the miles and better condition and I told them this. They wouldn't move so I told them to stick ... ah, lets not get into details. But all the better, I wouldn't have wanted to buy from these guys anyways - they always try to rip you off, and proved this all over again.

Kept an eye on Craigslist and suddenly, there it was: a white 2010 WR250X (yeah, not an R, but, so what), 790 miles, lowered with Yamalinks but original links included, stock plus a low seat, Renthal handlebar and softer grips, axle sliders front and rear, Graves free flow exhaust tip (Damn - is there someone out there who wants to sell me their OEM spark arrestor / exhaust tip?) custom decals. All together for less than the older model at the dealer that had 4000 miles more ... 

Only downside: it was sold in Los Angeles. Hmmm, did I say downside? What's better then buying a bike and immediately going on a road trip? Even if it is a short one! So, talked to the seller, agreed on price and what was included, booked a flight to L.A., picked the bike up and rode it home via the beautiful California coast (Highway 1). 

Somewhere along Highway 1 - Big Sur or so

Gave it a first service to make sure everything is nice and in order and now it sits here in the garage happily next to the two GSs. Ha! 

Custom Decals

It really is a surprisingly capable bike. Today I put it through its paces - Black Road, Skyline Blvd, Alice's Restaurant for breakfast, down on Page Mill Road and back home. Chased a Honda 900RR something or other (looked like a very nicely stripped CBR900RR with super bike bars, Ducati hand guards with bar end mirrors, and so on) down Page Mill Road and didn't have all too much trouble keeping up. He wasn't a bad rider or a beginner or so, he rode very technical, shifting his weight for corners properly, but he couldn't use the abundance of four times the power compared to my little one. 

What can I say? The WR250X is an insanely fun bike to ride. Surprisingly powerful and quick, light steering, good suspension (though it got wobbly in some spots on Page Mill, might have some setup to do), good road tires. The tires are now scrubbed in all the way around - not like they were when I picked it up: a one inch strip that was never used and still slippery.

Oh, and one of the best things: so far I'm averaging 3.7L/100km (64mpg). With a best of 3.3L/100km (70mpg) and never really bad. And that was all while not taking it slow.

There are a few things I want to do with the bike though:
  1. Get a set of dirt wheels / tires. 21" front, 18" rear. Something not too knobby, but a 60:40 setup like the Heidenau K60 or Metzeler Enduro 3. Maybe even a Dunlop D606 
  2. Get a rack for soft luggage (very likely Wolfman). 
  3. Get a rear top rack (have one sitting here now, need to install it).
  4. Install some strong hand guards and possibly heated grips.
  5. Maybe make the seat more comfortable. Not sure how yet.
  6. Install a larger fuel tank. What did they think installing a 7.4L (1.9 gallon) tank on that thing? That's ridiculous! 125 to 140 miles range is all.
  7. Install a holder for my GPS.
  8. Get either a Spot Tracker or a Personal Beacon.
Then I plan on some excursions into California's back roads and deserts. We'll see whether I can find some time for it.


05 October 2011

In Memory of Steve

Steve Jobs – 1955 - 2011
Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. - Apple Inc. 

25 September 2011

05 August 2011

Touratech must be completely nuts now ...

When I look at this page I can't believe they really want to sell anything. A set of panniers that cost about 20% of a full bike (Tiger 800)? That is insane and I think they lost their mind completely now.

Especially when you can get a set of Micatechs for $970, a set of Jesse Panniers for $1250, or the same freaking set of Touratech panniers bought in Germany are just $1500 before tax. Sorry Touratech USA, but I hereby declare you officially as one beer short of a sixpack ...

24 July 2011

Review - Sena SMH10 Bluetooth Intercom

We had been planning the rafting trip for a bit and as we knew we would be on some longer rides to get there and back, we also thought about how to communicate. So far, we have been doing this with hand signals, stopping and shouting (we both wear ear plugs whenever we ride) or just not communicating at all.

This got a little bit annoying as we like to ride together but then it is more as we are both on our own. Therefore, we were thinking about a communication system for a while now.

These were the options we thought about:
  • Cardo Scala G4 - sophisticated, fancy, seems to work pretty well and does about everything
  • Sena SMH10 - does not as much as the Cardo, but with a two button user interface it's dead simple to use and really easy even with big gloves
  • Schuberth C3 helmets with SRC systems integrated (basically a G4 build into the C3)
The Schuberth system was very appealing but also very expensive as it comes with a $700 helmet ... not an option right now. The Cardo would have been great but I really wanted the simple use of the Sena. 

So, just in time to get it for our weekend trip, I ordered a dual set of the Sena SMH10


Installing them on our Shoei Multitec helmets was done in about 15 minutes per helmet and setting them up was about one more minute.

And what can I say - they work like a charm! We had them setup for voice activation which means you swear a little bit in the helmet and a few seconds later a channel is open to talk to each other. Or you blow into the microphone, or yell "heeeeeeellooooo". It always takes a while to react and then it takes some time to initiate the Bluetooth connection. I don't know what the norm is there, it felt a bit slow sometimes, nevertheless I think it's normal that it takes a bit to open a Bluetooth channel.

The other option of activating the connection is to press the big jog dial just once and again, a few seconds later a channel is open. Easy. 

When activated by voice, the system takes a 20 second quiet time to go back to sleep, when activated with the button it stays open until one presses the button again. This worked really, really well. We left the communication open for most of the time last Sunday, which meant about  seven hours moving time. Batteries held up well, but we don't know how much longer they would have worked. For really long trips it might be better to use the voice activation and have them off and go a bit on your own. Just remember that a yell "CAREFUL! Dirty Road" needs a few seconds activation time ... so when on really tough roads, just keep the channel open.

The voice and communication quality was absolutely stunning. We could talk and understand each other incredibly well, while riding, at a gas station, stopped for photos and so on. Incredibly good communication quality. And they work over quite a distance as long as you have visual contact - as soon as large chunks of rock get in the way (like for example in the Sierras on Highway 49), you hear some static when loosing sight of each other. We never lost contact though, even when Andrea was two or three corners back. 

Usage was also incredibly simple - either activate by voice or press the big jog dial, channel comes up. Hold both buttons for a second, system turns on. Press both buttons for a short time, system turns off. The jog dial is also for volume adjustment and I have to say - this is how it should be. Great tactile feedback, easy to do even with the biggest winter gloves.

For example I have no idea how I am supposed to find and press the correct button on some other systems like the Schuberth SRC:




It'll work, but the big jog dial and the one button at the rear are just so much easier.

We have not tried the other features, like listening to music while riding or doing phone calls. I have absolutely no interest in either, therefore I really don't care. The main feature, talking to my riding partner while having helmets on, ear plugs in, and riding the bikes is working perfectly, that's all we need and want. It makes riding together an even more enjoyable experience and gives us more "time together" when on the bikes.

So, conclusion is a big thumbs up for Sena - this is how a communication system should work!

23 July 2011

Another Rafting Trip - And a Bike Tour

After we were rafting on the American River and having a really good time in Mai, we took the offer of another rafting trip shortly after. This time it was on the Merced River which wasn't as high last weekend (June 16th) as it had been two weeks before. Still it was a lot of fun in Class IV rapids and some calmer areas.

Again we were lucky, getting a really good guide with lots of experience who also did a lot of fun maneuvers like bumping against a rock, getting into a "hole" and just sitting there, skating over rocks and so on. In my opinion, this was our best rafting trip so far. It won't be our last one, though ...

But, back to the whole trip which started on Friday afternoon.

This time we travelled by bike - Friday afternoon / evening from Sunnyvale to Merced (click on the image for a larger version):

Sunnyvale to Merced

We decided to take the scenic route - over Mount Hamilton. It took quite a bit longer, but it was lots and lots of fun.

Joseph D. Grant County Park

A great bike for a great ride

We arrived in Merced around eight in the evening and were both happy to finally be in the Motel room. It was a day of work, then a 200km ride on partially very challenging and twisty roads. Mount Hamilton Road and from Mount Hamilton to Patterson is really, really curvy. The two GSs were awesome for this kind of terrain. Upright sitting position, great handling, light steering and very sure footed on the sometimes dirty and sandy road.



During the trip, Gina met a nice milestone:

4444 miles on Gina

Of course not all miles are added by Andrea - but we've been riding quite a bit in the last months.

After a not so good night due to lots and lots of noise, loud neighbors, a nearby train line, and other noise, we headed out for our rafting trip on Saturday morning. As we wanted to have a good breakfast and a not too long ride, we took the direct way to Midpines:

Morning Ride to Midpines

Unfortunately, we didn't get any photos from rafting this time.

Saturday evening we took the little bit longer, but definitely nicer way back to the Motel:

Evening Ride back to Merced

Back at the motel, we were pretty much done. About 170km on the motorcycles, a few hours rafting, it was a hot and long day. Went out to get some food but couldn't find anything in Merced that looked even halfway decent so we decided to get some snacks and a bottle of Corona at a "7 Eleven" and head back to the Motel. This night we definitely slept better ...

Sunday morning, after some planning, we had the route set: East to 49, North on 49, back west on 132, South to Patterson, Mt. Hamilton, Home. Long, but awesome.

Long Way Home

Awesome Views along the Way

Not Sitting on the Road this Time

Small bike? Nope ...

It definitely isn't small (and light) when you let it drop and have to get it back up and then fix some of the bent parts:

Taking the Valve Cover Guard off
What happened? We did a u-turn on the road and Andrea got stuck in a hollow, I stopped, put the bike on the side stand, ran 20m back, helped pulling Andrea's bike back, looked back to mine - and it was lying on its side. Damn. Should have thought about that down slope, right?

Overall damage assessment: a bent valve cover guard (which I'm taking off in the above photo), some scratches on windshield, handguards, cases, and that's about it. The big GS did well. Luckily.

Merced River - Further Downstream

Some more impressions from the trip:

Rural America ...

Sunflowers Everywhere

Somewhere in the Middle of Nowhere

Don Pedro Lake

And of course, when we see donkeys we have to stop:

Scratching a Donkey's Ear

They like each other!

It was an awesome trip! Lots of fun, lots of beautiful roads to ride. Sunday was pretty long with about 370km but we made it. The way back over Mt. Hamilton was certainly tough and we were both happy when we were home!

Trip statistics: 750km (466 miles) of mostly fun backroads, roughly 18 hours travel time (including breaks) spread over three days, hundreds of curves, some really tight twisties, a day rafting on the Merced River, first drop of a motorcycle in 15 years (granted about 9 of them without riding at all), character added to the big GS, lots of seat time and practice for Andrea. Great fun!

05 July 2011

Micatech V-Pilot Panniers Installed

Last week I received one of the more important farkles for my GS. Panniers. After a lot of back and forth and thinking repeatedly (here, here, here, and here) about it, getting an aftermarket exhaust, I finally ordered and received a set of Micatech V-Pilot cases.

Installing them was not hard but it took quite some time. I took my time aligning everything properly, getting it all setup. To put it bluntly, the quality of all the bits and pieces is astounding. Every single part is high quality, well thought out and engineered and manufactured to perfection.

The case "racks" are basically just mounting rails that have "bullets" where the cases slide on, here is a photo of the rack installed on the bike:

Micatech Case Racks

The racks are very unobtrusive, barely visible when the cases are off. The cases are attached to the bullets with these parts:

"Bullet Holder"

Again, very high quality manufacturing. Three of these are attached to the back of each case. Two attach to the rails on the bike and one per case is for a cross bar in the back.

After installing the cases, the whole affair looks like this:

Rear view - click for larger image

Side Rear view - it's just 32.5 inches wide!

You can see how narrow they are.

Tiny, right? 37L per case. Lots of space.

On the bike, the cases look fairly small but when the bike sits in the garage with them, it's still quite something. Installed they are about 83cm (32.5 inches) wide. The GS handle bars are about 98cm (38.5 inches) wide, so the bars are 15cm wider than the cases which is awesome as I can be absolutely certain to not touch anything when I get through with the bars.

Still, the cases provide a lot of space. An overall volume of 74L in both cases, that makes it only 8L less than the GS Adventure panniers that are 99cm wide. I very much prefer the narrower profile. I can leave the cases on all the time  if I wanted to, but I probably won't.

We will give the luggage a thorough test in two weeks on a weekend trip to Yosemite. I'll report back then.

When installing the cases I also installed a GS Adventure rear luggage rack which I bought used not too long ago. Haven't installed my Givi topcase to it yet, but will do that long term. For around time riding I will install a Pelican on the pillion seat with the quick release for the seat itself. This will take tools and rain gear and some everyday items. I'll post more pictures once this is done.

28 June 2011

Memories

I was reading an article today about a older man, 60 years, who started motorcycling again - because he got tired of traffic jams, high fuel cost, and so on. He had ridden Vespas and mopeds in his youth but never a real motorcycle. Being 60 years old he started with a 125cc Honda Shadow, later a 125cc Varadero, onto a NT650. His wife started riding, too, his daughter got a license with 18 and also started riding. Friends were jealous, thought they were crazy, but still - I think it was a really awesome story about someone finding something in his life that he really, truly enjoys.

It was very interesting to read. Unfortunately, this story was in a magazine, so I can't link to it, but it brought back a lot of old and also quite some recent memories.

When I got my license, I was 25 - I had ridden a 50cc Vespa for a few years before, but I got the motorcycle license later. I learned on a bike like this, a Kawasaki EL250:

Picture from here

Riding school in Germany required me to take a minimum of 20 hours riding, which I did officially, unofficially it was only 19 but a slot for the exam opened and I got in early. I did ride in the Eifel, the city traffic in Bonn, German Autobahn and a bit of mixed other roads. Also two hours at night. From my teacher I learned a lot about driving safely and also with good cornering technique and I want to thank him again for that. It kept me safe during lots and lots of kilometers and miles travelled.

I stepped up to a Suzuki GS400 which fitted me much better than the little cruiser where I always had the knees nearly touching my ears ...

Picture from here
I rode this bike alone, two up, short trips, longer trips, city traffic, pretty much everywhere and it just kept on going. Lots of fun and a great bike to learn on.

After that, I decided, I could take on a real bike. Was a bit of "too much confidence", though. I dropped the XL600V TransAlp a few times. First time on the second day of ownership, after that a few times on unpaved roads, on a meadow, on a wet road, and stupid me with a brand new front tire about 100 meters from home. Nevertheless, the bike faired exceptionally well, it still had only minor scratches, thanks to engine protection bars, a solid build and me trying to keep it upright while it was sometimes slowly and sometimes not so slowly falling over.

Picture from here

The above photo is not my bike but a lookalike.

I loved this bike and did a lot of trips all over Germany. Finally sold it to a very good friend who took it into good care. I moved on to a Honda VFR750F in pearl white. A beautiful bike, but also quite a handful with its 100HP and quite different handling.

Picture from here

Again, a lookalike, not my own bike. To be honest - at that point in time, this bike was the wrong one for me. Too sporty, too leaned over, too much power. I learned to ride it properly, crashed it once while panic braking because some idiot car driver came at me inside my lane in a right corner and I swerved and then braked, but fell. He went off. Asshole. If you are out there somewhere reading this: I wish you pimples everywhere for the rest of your life! May it be miserable.

I fixed the bike and fortunately I was still comfortable on it. Rode a lot again alone and with my girlfriend until I sold it to get a car. What a disaster. But okay. We make mistakes in our lives.

Kept the car for a while, then sold it to get a Honda ST1100 Pan European. This bike had been my dream for quite a while:

Picture from here

This is a lookalike as well, I don't have photos from my old bikes. Unfortunately I didn't take many photos in that period of my life.

I rode the ST again for a while and had to sell it to get a car again. Did this for the girlfriend. Again, this was a mistake ... selling the bike, not the girlfriend ... She didn't ask for it, but I felt she never liked the bike and I didn't want to do anything to make her sad. I did later, but that's a different story, so back to bikes.

The ST1100 was the last bike for quite some time. I sold it in 1998 and from then on didn't have a motorcycle for 11 years. My life had changed, I met my wife, the best wife of all, we moved first away from Bonn, then away from Germany. Living in Calgary, Canada, I never really had the desire for a motorcycle. The weather was too bad, the drivers too crazy, not enough money, a time limited work permit, and different plans for the future.

Fast forward to 2009, we just recently moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and somehow, I don't really recall how, I got the bike fever again. Was looking around for a used one, test rode some, couldn't decide, went to a dealership, test rode a BMW F800GS and a R1200GS. Couldn't decide, it was a lot of money, and we weren't in the country for so long at that time. But my beautiful wife told me that if that's what I wanted to do - I should just buy one. I picked up the phone, called Tom at SJ BMW and ordered a yellow F800GS.

This now was actually my bike!

I loved the handling, loved the engine, how light it felt. I liked it more than the 2009 R1200GS I rode, too. So that was it. After 11 years, I was back to motorcycling. We had only one car, I had the motorcycle and Andrea could use the car whenever she needed. Perfect. Nearly. I did some trips and over time figured out that I always got headaches when riding the bike for more than 20 minutes over 80 km/h (50mph). Not good. Tried several different windshield but couldn't find one that actually worked.

A year later I sold the F800GS again, and got what I still ride today:



The R1200GS is an awesome bike. The new dual overhead cam (DOHC) engine from the 2010 model year has more grunt down low, is a tiny bit smoother, and just about right for me. I added a GS Adventure windshield, and some other farkles and I'm still happy with that bike. It has a bit over 7000 miles now and is definitely a keeper. I just ordered side cases for longer trips and will hopefully have them soon.

I will keep the R for long, I hope. I love how it rides, how it handles, I made it to fit my needs perfectly and it's exactly the right one for me. It might not always be the only one, but I have absolutely no plans of changing. As said, maybe adding something different to the stable, but not in exchange for the GS. No way.

Having about 200k km of motorcycling in Germany, 13k miles now here in the US - I can also say that this is a hobby that I truly enjoy. It gives me a chance to clear my head from work. I feel so happy that I have a wife who understands me and started riding two years ago, too! It's the best thing that could possibly happen.

17 June 2011

Help Ara & Spirit

[Copied from here]



The motorcycle community can be a generous community. 
Please help spread the word on your blog/FB/Twitter etc. that Ara & Spirit are in need of our help repairing his rig. 
Maybe if you are in a position to send over a donation you will.
Please help if you can!

05 June 2011

New Roof Ordered!

[Written by Andrea]

Yeah, we made it!

Our house needs a new roof. So, what does this have to do with motorcycling? Actually a lot: we needed to do roof shopping (checking out the different metal tile styles and colors) and last weekend we were riding around in the area with our bikes to look at roof examples. By then I never had been riding my F650GS on a highway.

That day we combined them all: Highway 280, 101, 85, 17. In conclusion, it's ok on a highway to reach the desired destination quickly. However, riding close to all these people in their huge cars who see driving only as a secondary activity (Besides texting, having a phone conversation, eating, drinking coffee and correcting their make-up. All at the same time of course.) is not really my favorite!

Part of the Route - The last stretch is missing

As a treat, we took the long way home via Black Road and Skyline Blvd and stopped at Alice's Restaurant for dinner. Oh, as for the roof it will be SteelRock Villa Tiles in Mission Red! :-)

Guadalupe Reservoir


California wildflowers on our way through the Almaden Quicksilver County Park:

Sticky Monkey Flowers

04 June 2011

Sunny California? Not right now!

It's a bit frustrating that over the last few weeks we had fairly bad weather. And always over the weekend. Weeks were mostly dry and sunny, weekends mostly wet and rainy. Where is the summer? Colleagues moan about the very unusual weather, it's hard to not get mad ...

Look at this:


And the satellite image makes it even worse as it clearly shows the storm going over the area right now:


Hopefully it will get better soon - we are getting cabin fever here!