Saturday, July 18, 2015

CycleGear turning customers away.

Now I'm a pretty loyal customer, I buy my motorcycle gear, parts, and sundries from several local shops to help keep their doors open. And I do my best to shop local before searching online, but local brick and mortar shops of late are making it all too easy to 180º out their door, go home, open up the laptop, (and a cold yummy beer for that matter), while I relax in the comfort of my own home, scroll, click... and purchase.
Oh look! Free shipping to my door!
Would you like to use Paypal to place an order?
Yes, please.
Return policy?
Of course, in fact we'll even pay return shipping for a simple exchange.
Why, thank you.
Oh, and you earned 6 Bonus Bucks for this purchase that you can use for your next purchase.
Would you like to use your loyal customer discount on your purchase today?
Yes, please.
When you receive your item, look in the box for a 15% off coupon too.

That is how you keep customers happy.

Unfortunately, my conversation with CycleGear today went more like this:
I bought a MegaBoost battery with the lifetime warranty in October of 2010, it's starting to act up, and I'm afraid it's going to leave me stranded soon, is there any way you could check it for me?
Do you have the battery with you?
Yes, it's outside in my bike.
Well, our battery tester is in the back, you'll have to remove the battery from your bike and bring it in, sorry but we don't have any tools to assist you.
I have a toolkit, I'll be right back... here's the battery, man it is hot outside.
We'll have to put it on a charger overnight to make sure it's fully charged before testing it.
(Voice in my head) Are you kidding me?!? Why did you have me take the battery out of my bike?!?
Well, I was actually hoping that you'd warranty it for me as it's 5 years old.
We'll have to look in our computer system for the receipt.
No problem, I marked the battery with a Sharpie when I bought it on October 20th 2010, it was midweek because I came up after work to pick it up. I talked to Lauren who used to work here.
(Voice in my head again) Brad, you can't remember what you had for breakfast most days, how the hell did you pull that tidbit of information from your memory?!? Oh yeah, Lauren is cute and now works for Team Oregon.

Lauren and I working together for a Team Oregon photo shoot.

Well, Megaboost changed their policy and doesn't offer the lifetime warranty unless it was before 2011.
Breathe Brad, deep breaths.
Great! I bought the battery in 2010, so it is still under warranty.
Well, we can test your battery but if it holds a charge it is still good.
Fine, go test it then.
It could be your voltage regulator or stator.
Yes, I suppose it could be. But you think that possibly it could be the 5 year old battery?
How about I buy a new battery, you keep the old one overnight, I'll be back tomorrow, then you can refund my purchase price?
But if it holds a charge, then we can't warranty it.
How long does it take to charge the battery?
About 5 hours, but they do come with an initial charge. You'd have install it, ride home then charge it.
That's fine, but you won't warranty the old battery?
No, not if it holds a charge.
Here's a thought, what if you keep the battery in the back room for a year, then when it good and dead you can call me and issue me a refund?
And I can't find record of you purchasing the battery at this store. Sorry we can't help you.
Really?!? Okay, let's review. I'm asking to buy a new battery from you, dispose of the old one, fuck the warranty and you can't grasp that concept?
No problem, thanks for your help, have a great weekend!

Oh look, has a Yuasa battery for my bike, in stock, ready to ship to my door, I receive a 15% AMA member discount, and I earn $2.20 in Bandit Bucks!!!

Oh darn, another cold yummy beer is in the fridge, a mere 20 feet away.

BTW, we noticed Wullerton has the same syllables as CycleGear.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pushing the Limits of Stupid

I'm still alive, we just haven't been doing very much lately, nor anything worth writing about. Since I am not chained to a desk for work, I am not on a computer for 45+ hours a week like I used to be when I started this blog. I was told asked to "be available" during my hour long lunch breaks, so I would use that time to read and write blog posts. My current job has me operating a forklift on the warehouse floor so no cell phones let alone computer access, a quick half hour lunch break, and four 10 hour work days. I love my current schedule, however with being so disconnected, my blog has suffered, my apologies.

~ ~ ~

I have been using my time off riding my mountain bike, however I've been getting bored with the local trails close to home. Trails too close to town means too many people, too many people lead to too many dogs, and too many people with too many dogs leads to too many dog shits. Not pleasant.

So one must travel further away from town to enjoy the fresh air and tranquility. This means loading the bike onto the car and driving for a half hour or more to get to the good trails. So not only for the fun of it, but to save money and gas, Polar Bear and I load up one car and drive to the trails. This can be better for the environment, but putting both of us together in a confined space for more than a half hour has a tendency to lead to some pretty harebrained discussions and ideas.

Many of our discussions usually start off "What if.......?" or  "I've been thinking....." then before long we find ourselves asking each other "How could we........?"

I believe one of our most recent conversations lead to the very question "What if we could carry our mountain bikes on our motorcycles!?!" We could ride our motorcycles to the trails, ride our mountain bikes all day, then ride our motorcycles home!!!
Wow! To think if so much can be accomplished with one mind, can you imagine the endless possibilities when we put our two heads together? Ummmmmmm yeah, that's a rhetorical question, don't answer that.

Andy managed to get his fat bike mounted first and pulled up to the range one morning just as I was finishing up the last exercise of the day. My teaching partner says to me "Hey look! That guy has a bike on the back of his motorcycle!"

Ha, I didn't even have to look, I knew who "that guy" was and during my break I went over to take a look see. He had the bike mounted on a conventional trunk mounted bike rack, then strapped to his top box, perpendicular to his motorcycle. Pretty cool set up, but it was also pretty wide, so I started thinking out loud of other ways to mounting it.

Wait! Squirrel!!! I had to get back to class!

Photo blatantly stolen from Polar Bear

The other instructor with me that day started asking me questions about what we were doing and why. The "what" part of his question was easy to answer, I couldn't explain "why", although I think he knew. He thought it was cool and told me that he used to work in a bicycle shop so he had extra bike mounts kicking around his garage that I could use for my project. Uh oh, not that I need further encouragement, but by not having any parts readily available to me at least I was able to  procrastinate. Not anymore.

I picked up the parts that night and started mocking something up. My thought was to mount the bicycle on the rear rack, parallel or inline with my motorcycle. Using a fork mount and rail I was able to get the bike up there but it needed a much more solid base mount.

Mock up
Friday of last week I went into town to the local metal recycler looking for a piece of aluminum plate to use for a solid mount. They didn't have exactly what I wanted but I scored a couple of aluminum parking signs for cheap and fashioned a sturdy mount out of those.

I got into the project and was anxious to go for a ride, but not in the 100º heat, I had to wait for the temperature to drop that evening. I got everything bolted and strapped down then went for a ride around the block.

I think this is where fear turned to common sense telling me not to do this, but you know what? "Never let fear and common sense stand in your way" and off I went down the road for a shake down ride.

Shake down was exactly that, shaking my bike, shaking my handlebars and shaking my arms. It wasn't too bad at speed, but coming and going from a stop was disconcerting to say the least. I pulled into a deserted parking lot to attempt some professional maneuvers.

"Kids, do not try this at home. I am a professional rider on a closed course."

No, no, no. No way. Nope. Not going to happen. Forget an offset cone weave, I had a hard time completing a straight line cone weave. A swerve at any speed was sloppy at best, and a quick stop was too risky to even try. Forget it, how would I explain a crash like this to my insurance company?

I needed gas in my bike so I wobbled down to the gas station to fill up. I can say that people do see me, I had people gawking, smiling, waving and taking photos of this crazy idiot carrying a mountain bike on his motorcycle.

I topped up my tank and went to head for home. I thumbed the starter button... rrrruurrr, rrruuurrr, rruur.... dead battery! Well... on an up note, technically, I wasn't stranded... I had my bicycle with me.

I pushed the Tiger out of the way and sat for a minute to consider my options. I could ride my bicycle home in 95º heat, or I could call my ever supporting wife to come get me in the car or to boost me. Hmmm, but the battery is under the seat, which is under the bicycle mount, which is bolted to the rack, and my tool kit to undo the bolts is next to the battery, which too is under the bicycle mount, which is bolted to the rack... (along with my motorcycle registration, not that I would get pulled over. A guy with a bicycle on his motorcycle would never attract the attention of the local law enforcement). I didn't, but I guess I should have brought some wrenches with me.

I'll bet, due to the heat that my radiator fan was on and if I wait 10 to 15 minutes, the bike should cool down enough to start. Photo op while we cool down.

"C'mon Lucy, don't let me down! Good girl! Let's go home!"

I plugged her in for the night and gathered up my gear for another weekend of teaching. One stipulation for using the bike rack parts was that I had to show my fellow instructor the completed project. We just happened to be teaching together so Saturday morning I was off to the range, bicycle and all. He loved it and thought it was so cool, but I had to tell him it was not meant to be and that it was just too unstable to keep. He immediately went into devising another way to mount it, "what if you dropped the rear wheel lower?" and "what about mounting it off the passenger peg?"

Isn't funny how friends encourage you to do stupid things?

Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun.  ~George Scialabra

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Inspiration from a Townie

Sonja posted up photos of her Quest for Spring, but it was her Townie bicycle that inspired me to take my Electra Deluxe Relic 3i out for a bicycle ride today. Thanks Sonja!

I love the older style bikes and follow Rat Rod Bikes with admiration for the work these fabricators do and share.

So I thought I'd strip off the modern reflectors, forgo the helmet and go get some photos of my ride with the idea of making a modern bike look old timey. It helps to have an old timey university nearby.

I love this bike, it reminds me of the bike my dad had and how he would take us for rides on as kids.

A simpler time.... a simpler time.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Rider Skills Practice

Spring is just around the corner and many of you may be anxious to get out on your bike, if you haven't already....

So, is your bike ready?

You've tested the levers and controls, checked that the headlight, the brake light, signals and horn are all functioning properly. You made sure to replace and top up the fluids. You adjusted and oiled the chain, checked the tires and set the pressure. All systems go!

Now, are you ready?

Edmonton Journal photo
Duh, of course! You just spent most of the winter online shopping for new gear, waiting for the snow to melt to try out the new duds.

Okay, but are YOU ready?

How are your skills? Remember, it's been a cold, dark winter. Many of us haven't ridden for several months and those of us who've managed to sneak in a ride or two, our rides have been short and probably less than stellar. I know my rides have been tense, as I shrug and hunker down to keep the cold air out.

Spring is the perfect time to sign up for a Rider Skills Practice (RSP) course. These courses are great for dusting out the cobwebs of your mind, polishing up on those skills and restoring that muscle memory we've neglected all winter.

I sign up and take a rider clinic every year, whether it's a RSP class or an ART course (cornering and braking clinic) to hone my skills as a professional motorcyclist and instructor.

Rider Skill Practice

Rider Skill Practice

I highly recommend every motorcyclist to do the same, if not every year, at the very least every other year. 

Advance Rider Training

Advance Rider Training

In the classroom of our Basic Rider and Intermediate Rider Training courses, we ask students for their expectations of the course, and most reply with a less than enthusiastic "to get my endorsement". It is my job to surpass that expectation and have the students finish the course with so much more than "just their endorsement", but a life long skill set or foundation to build upon.

 A foundation to build upon.

BASIC Rider Training 

So practice the skills you've learned today, then come back next year and take the Rider Skills Practice. You have your endorsement so there isn't the pressure of taking a test or failing.... whew!

This is about you and building on that foundation, but in a safe environment and the familiarity of your own bike, with the benefit of professional coaching to make you a better, safer, more proficient rider.

So before going out and tearing up the streets this Spring, sign up now for a motorcycle safety course.

And special thanks to Princess Scooterpie for inquiring about the RSP and inspiring this post.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Name of the Game

I've decided to change my blog title again... as in life, the only thing constant is change.

I started my blog as Troubadour on a Triumph, Brandy gave me the name 'Troubadour' as they would travel afar to tell stories of their adventures and sing song, I added 'on a Triumph' because I fell in love with Triumph motorcycles the moment I test rode and purchased my Triumph Sprint ST. Since then I've owned my Triumph Bonneville America, Brandy bought her Triumph Bonneville and there's my current Triumph Tiger. The last name change was to Troubadour on a Tiger, thinking I would always own a Triumph Tiger, no worries, I'm not selling Lucy.

However, a recent move by Triumph toward our smaller local shops has me questioning my loyalty. It seems that Triumph wants to market themselves much like another certain brand, with larger, brightly lit, sterile, boutique showrooms where they inventory more bikes, T-shirts and Motor Clothes Triumph gear.


Rod at Cycle Parts Triumph received the same notice as Hansen's, as did many other small shops across the country.

This is unfortunate and I'm sure a hard pill to swallow for these mom and pop shops. Rumor has it that Ducati may soon do the same.

I can appreciate the worldwide marketing plan behind "The Brand" and their non-conformist, uniform clothing line (although I am against leather); but Triumph has always been to me the other hundred year old motorcycle company. Triumph was everything that "The Brand" wasn't, every Triumph shop I've visited has been small, family run, service and repair type shop where you could sit on the bikes and talk to the owner about the weather, never feeling obligated to discuss finance rates, payment terms or fill out paperwork. I was never blinded by bright lights reflecting off acres of chrome, and either escorted through the showroom by a sales representative hovering over me from the moment I walk through the door or just blatantly ignored.

Will I buy another Triumph? Probably not, I'm disappointed in Triumph, they filled a niche and I hope they realize their mistake of money and profit over customer service and loyalty.  I'll frequent and support Cycle Parts, wishing them, Hansen's and other small shops well in their new venture.

A fork in the road

With Triumph going in one direction, I'm taking this opportunity to go the other.
My interests have changed and so will my blog. 

Love for the range

I still enjoy motorcycling and I love teaching new riders, I'll continue to write of our travels, adventures and rides; but I've always used my blog as a journal and limiting myself to motorcycle content, I feel it has limited my posts lately.

Poor, unsuspecting souls. Tomorrow is Traffic Interaction.

I'm no longer focusing on street riding, because well, that's a whole other rant altogether. 

I'm pursuing more solitary activities such as dual sport rides, hikes, mountain bike rides, off-roading in the Subaru and even reading.... gasp! I really like what Trobairitz has done with her blog, so I've changed the title of my blog to Troubadour's Treks and I'll be leaning more toward hiking and biking.

So if you don't mind reading about dirt, mud, forest hikes and mountain bikes, I hope you will please follow along.

- Troubadour