29 July 2012

Having Fun on the Tiger 800

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24 July 2012

Things That Worked and Things That Didn't

During our trip to Lake Tahoe we found a few things that worked well, and others that didn't work out so well.

For all of you who are interested, here's the list.

Things that worked well:
  1. The bikes were excellent. Both are in good shape, ride well, and are good for 350 to 400 miles a day (if need be) on back roads and small highways. 
  2. The CamelBak backpack I had bought last year is great. Andrea used this one with a 3L water reservoir, not completely full, but probably with one to two liters most of the time. It worked well for her. No fiddling around with bottles, no opening tank bags or top case to find the water bottle, just flip up the helmet, grab the tube, and get some water. The water also stayed surprisingly cool at least in my backpack, it was only the first drops that where in the hose that had warmed up. We refilled along the way with fresh water we bought at gas stations.
  3. Having some food with us helped. We packed some high energy fruit bars, fresh fruit, some bread with cheese. It was good to have as the restaurant where I actually wanted to have lunch was closed. We just had our snack shortly after. Worked out well.
  4. The Touratech tank bag I bought while in Germany was a good thing to have. It worked out nicely, it has the right size, not too small, not too big, a large map pocket, big enough for spare helmet visors, cameras, second set of gloves, wallet and some other items. The quick disconnect with velcro and two clips works well enough. 
  5. The bright yellow BMW rain suit we bought for Andrea did an excellent job. She had it with her. Therefore it didn't rain. Forecast was for rain and even thunderstorms around Lake Tahoe but we didn't see anything. Would have poured down if we hadn't stopped at BMW San Jose and picked up the rain suit.
  6. Stopping often enough for photos, breaks, food, drinking. Just stretching and generally taking a break is good.
  7. We used three small liner bags I still had from my Micatech luggage for our clothes. They fit nicely in my top case and we just grabbed them and took them with us to the hotel room along with Andrea's small top case and my tank bag. Easy and quick. Case liners rock. 
  8. All our other clothes worked out fine. We generally wear long underwear under the motorcycle gear as it is easier to wash than the gear, and it keeps us dry in the heat and warm in the chilly air in the mountains. Worked out great again.
  9. Having centerstands rocks as it makes it super quick and easy to check and lube the chains after a day's ride. Would be better to not have chains at all, but okay, we have them, we deal with them.
  10. Having a map in the tank bag wasn't strictly necessary, but handy to know where we were all the time.
Things that need improvement / replacement:
  1. We both had trouble with the seats on our bikes after the long days. Andrea's F650GS has a super hard seat, mine is firm, feels hard after a while (but I'm a sissy anyways, it's just rare that Andrea complains). We will look into sheepskin and / or Airhawk pads and / or replacement seats. What made this even worse was that in my infinite wisdom I had briefs for the second day with me that were exactly the same as the ones I was wearing the first day. Seams at the same spots didn't make the day easier ... seamless underwear is in order. Or at least underwear that is cut differently for the next day.
  2. Top cases are handy storage for items you use over the day, but put load too far back and too high. It does affect handling. Not bad as we didn't take all too much with us, but for me definitely noticeable.  For weekend trips lockable side cases would be super nice to have as we wouldn't have anything outside of locked cases. Could leave the bike unattended for a while without worrying too much. Of course, cases only keep honest people honest, but that's at least something. So, looking into this topic again. Grmbl.
  3. Some small storage space would also be nice. Just to stow away rain gear and not have it in the top case with our dry stuff if we get caught. Maybe something like this would work.
  4. As Andrea used my CamelBak I was using my normal North Face backpack with a 3L water reservoir. It worked, but was uncomfortable and I'm certain it contributed to the shoulder and neck pain I had after the first day and still deal with. Another small and light hydration pack will be added. Either a CamelBak or a Kriega, or ... 
  5. I need hand guards and need to install my heated grips. Barkbusters are ordered and heated grips "only" need to be installed. Maybe something for the coming weekend.
  6. Andrea needs a tank bag for a small camera and other small items used during the day.
  7. Cramp busters or throttle lock would help with long highway parts. I guess we'll start with cramp busters and see whether we can get used to them.
I might update this post for a while, but will try to highlight new items when I do so.

How the Triumph Rocket Is Made

17 July 2012

Lake Tahoe Trip - Summer 2012

A few weeks ago, we decided that we need to get out again - just for a weekend completely gone from pretty much everything. Taking the bikes is always a good thing as it relaxing for the body (except for body parts you sit on) and mind (except when it gets too packed or curvy).

For us it is something we enjoy immensely as it is time we have together, we can talk all day long through our Sena bluetooth intercom or just let the countryside pass by and enjoy the ride. We do both - depending on the mood. Often enough we have the intercom on standby and just ride, but whenever we want to talk, we can.

So, what we decided to do was a longer trip than our normal short (half-) day trips. And Lake Tahoe is always a good destination. Therefore we planned on repeating the route I had done on my R1200GS in summer 2010: Bay Area - Central Valley - CA132 - CA49 - CA88 - Carson City (stay there overnight) - CA395 to Mono Lake - CA120 through Yosemite and then the straight way home.

Here are some impressions from the trip:

Somewhere along CA49

Beautiful Lake along CA88

Having Fun Along 88

More Fun on 88

Andrea - Concentrating

Organized Chaos after arriving in the Hotel

Yosemite National Park - CA120

Proof we were there!

Really!

Must have mirror photo

As always - a stop at Don Pedro Reservoir

Tiger with Luggage for the Weekend

We had an awesome trip and learned quite a few things for longer trips on these bikes. More to follow in a separate post!

Toolbox Contents Explained ...

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10 July 2012

Ride Height Adjustment

For most people height adjustment on a motorcycle means to lower it to have a chance of "flat footing" the bike with both feet on the ground. This is very popular with the ladies for the simple reason that they often are a little bit shorter than the guys.

Fortunately, I don't have the problem of short legs. Quite the other way around sometimes. I have a 34" jeans inseam and have no trouble riding KTMs, GS Adventures, Tiger XC, and so on.

Now, the Tiger Roadie I have at the moment doesn't give me trouble in that regard - it has a good height, not too high, not too low, but it has one downside: I scrape the foot pegs quite often. I have already shortened the peg feelers on both sides and if I continue to ride like this I fear that sooner rather than later I will touch down with hard-mounted parts. The side stand switch is one of the common victims in that regard.

As I don't want that to happen because it is a) dangerous and b) annoying, I was looking around for ways to raise the bike slightly. I didn't want to go very far with that, just a little bit more ground clearance and therefore lean angle. I found a company in England - Lust Racing - which has so-called "jack up kits" for various bikes, including the Tiger 800. Normally used for racers or wannabe racers to change the handling of the bike, there are various lengths to chose from to optimize just for the situation / rider / required ride change.

After some back and forth, measuring, and discussing this on the Tiger 800 Forum I ordered a +15mm kit. This is the shortest they have and probably just right for what I was looking for. The kit came in today and I installed it right away. These things are so easy to install - it took me about 15 minutes to get them on. Here are some photos:

Originals left, new ones on the right
And yes - shorter "dog bones" make for a higher ride. The concept is that the swing am connects to the bottom of the rear spring with these connectors as can be seen here:

New "dog bones" installed

The longer the connector, the more the bike "hangs down". The same concept is of course used for lowering kits where longer connectors are used. The ones you see above are just slightly shorter than the original ones, but they do create a noticeable change (more than the difference in length).

After I installed them I did a short test ride and noticed no ill effects. I also didn't notice too much of a change in handling which is exactly what I wanted. The bike might handle just a little bit sharper, fall a bit quicker into a corner, but really, there isn't much of a difference.

After that I moved the front forks down in the fork clamps to also gain a little bit of height there. Overall I got 4mm in the front, and 15mm in the back, the bike is now just a little bit higher, when sitting on it I barely notice it. The good part of that small increase is that I have no troubles at all with the side and center stand. When the bike is on the center stand, there is still 10mm between rear wheel and ground, an added benefit is that it goes up on the stand a little bit easier. The side stand is also okay, there is barely any difference in lean.

So far so good, next weekend will be a longer test ride - we will ride to Lake Tahoe on Saturday and back on Sunday. Really looking forward to it!

04 July 2012

Riding Again

After I was so frustrated when hurting my back 10 days ago just before we wanted to go for a longer motorcycle ride, we were out last Sunday (not really worth mentioning) and I was out alone today.

Today I really took the Tiger through the wringer. Did some of my absolute favorite roads, through the Santa Cruz Mountains and along the coast. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the weather at the coast was foggy again, but so what ... I'll put up some photos anyways.

First though, here's the route:

Santa Cruz Mountains - 04.07.2012
I went into the Mountains on Page Mill Road, then over to Alice for breakfast, down on HW84, a quick connector to HW1, up again on Bonny Doon Road, 236 through Big Basin State Park, HW9 and back home.

Fog at the coast

Tiger in the Fog

Tiger Gazing at the Beach

I didn't take a lot of photos as this was just about riding again. Enjoyed a few hours of twisty fun, then headed home to my lovely wife again.

Absolutely Amazing

Windows vs. Mac OS / iOS. Worth reading.