Monday, September 29, 2008

Baffles, or the lack of...

We kept busy this weekend and our minds occupied by doing some long overdo projects around the house. And Brandy helped me in the garage to remove some baffles from my bike. I've been reading the BonnevilleAmerica forum for months on how to make the Triumph America a little bit louder without a spending a lot of money. This appeals to me not only money wise but too many after market pipes are too loud. I didn't want to spent several hundred dollars on an expensive set of pipes that would wake the neighbors, and I love the look of the tapered stock pipes. I just wanted a little bit deeper growl from the exhaust. The stock pipes don't have a simple removable baffle set screw, they are fixed/welded. A fellow America rider and forum member designed a hole saw that would fit down the pipe to cut the inner baffle and offered it to fellow forum members, nice guy eh?

I used a smaller hole saw first to allow the inner dimension of the extended hole saw to pass over the inner pipe of the exhaust.

Then I used a larger hole saw to remove the rest of the material at the end of the pipe.

And then the "debaffler" or extended hole saw to finish it up

The result is a nice, modest rumble at idle, more authoritative growl during acceleration and still fairly quiet at cruising speed. I am happy with it. I can hear the bike now over the wind noise but it's not the loud droning roar of most HDs. I did notice a little more vibration in the bars and pegs but I don't think it is anything that would bother me too bad. I haven't noticed any performance gain but I still need to adjust the A/F mixture as all my mods have had to do with breathing. AI removed, snorkel removed, baffles removed and soon a K&N filter.

Everything you wanted to know about your exhaust but were afraid to ask:


Sunday, September 28, 2008

We'll miss you Baxter

We lost the older one of our two cats this weekend. He failed to come home Thursday night which was odd, but nothing to get worried about, until he didn't show up by Friday morning. Saturday morning I discovered that Baxter had been accidently hit by a car while trying to cross a busy road close to our house. We had Baxter for 5 years and the first three were spent at our old house with a very small yard and was under constant surveillance whenever he went outside. We now live in a smaller house but our yard is almost three times the size with an expansive green area behind us.

Cats are funny, with that much room and freedom, he still needed just a little bit more.

He just loved to be outside and to explore. Kinda sounds like us doesn't it?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

These are the people in your neighborhood...

in your neighborhood, in your neigh...bor...hood.

One advantage to riding a motorcycle to work everday is the opportunity to wave at people in your neighborhood. The lady down the street who walks her dog every morning but struggles to keep him under control as I do my best not to aggrevate the situation. There are two people that walk along the country road I use to commute and every time I pass I always get a wave from both of them. I don't know who they are and they don't know me, but a friendly wave does make for a more pleasant morning. The joggers, walkers and bicycle commuters you see everyday. I find that everyone is more apt to wave when you are on a bike instead of in a car. "You meet the nicest people on a...."

I am on a schedule, I have to be at work at a certain time, I leave the house the same time everyday and I take the same route to work everyday. You get to learn everyone else's schedule as well and I can usually tell if I am running a little bit late or not. I refuse to put a clock on my bike but I know that if I pass and wave to the rider on the BMW DualSport on a certain part of my route and not on another, I know I need to either hustle or I am able to slow down a little bit. I can usually count on a couple of other bikes too, the Gixxer and the unknown bike behind the Vetter fairing, but that BMW rides rain or shine, my constant. It's funny because I am somewhat disappointed when I don't see him. Funny, even strange I know, but I wonder if I am part someone's schedule, routine or clock.

Corvallis is a college town and the students are back in town for orientation. I believe the city population increases by 17,000 or more when school is in and you can sure tell by the traffic congestion, it is as if someone opened a gate or something. New students, lost in an unfamiliar town, all trying to find their way to class or wherever kids need to be. But, I get used to it and I adjust my schedule by leaving a little bit earlier, arriving home a little bit later and being a whole lot more patient. The students will coordinate their schedules, find their rhythm and eventually become part of the neighborhood and part of my daily routine for another year.

We'll see how my positive mental attitude is after my commute home Thursday evening with the OSU game day traffic backing up both major arteries into town.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bye bye, summer, bye bye...

....and with it comes the fall equinox or autumnal equinox.

Wednesday afternoon the winds picked up and it got cold. Sunday we have awaken to a little bit of rain, not enough to help the fire fighters with the area forest fires though.
It has not been terribly cold but it sure has me considering pulling out the warmer gear sooner than expected. We are preparing for winter by tackling the usual chores, we have our supply of pellets for our stove, I'll be buttoning up the house with weatherstripping and covering the foundation vents. The yard will need fall preparation of mulch, rose pruning, overseeding the lawn and coiling up all the hoses and rounding up the sprinklers soon.

This will be my first winter on the America, last year I had some protection from the cold with the fairing of the Sprint.

I've considered buying a winter commuter bike, possibly a KLR250 or KLR650, something that would handle a little rain, sleet or snow. Something that if I dropped it and broke a clutch lever or brake lever off I wouldn't be too upset.
Then I thought, how's that for setting myself up, actually expecting to drop it, mentally telling crash.
Fortunately, a sense of reason set in when Brandy saw the photo of the KLR250 I was looking at online and said "looks like you have to kick it". I already have a bike I have to kick that I never ride, my kz, which I have also considered riding through the winter.

Riding a 32 year old bike in the rain, cold and dark just does not appeal to me at all. Besides, the lights are poor, tires are bald and it is a torque monster, not something you want to be riding when frost forms on the highway. Steady as she goes.

The early models of the Yamaha FJR1300 that cooked the rider in the summer would make a great winter bike. A little out of my budget and too big for Brandy to practice. I could use something with a fairing, yet light and nimble to build confidence in a new rider. Oh yeah, with electric start, kick starting is soooo 20th century. Sounds like a Ninja 250 to me, how much trouble can I get into with one of these?

Of course, I could always put some frame sliders on it, you know, just in case 'somebody' drops it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Product humble opinion

I take my time when making a purchase, whether it be for a couple of bucks or several hundred dollars. I research most products online, checking reviews and forums before I even walk into a store or commit to the online checkout, which may be days, weeks and even months later. Brandy can attest to this as a widow to what we both call motorcycle porn. I have spent many an hour, wee into the night reading reviews on motorcycle products, gadgets, gizmos, whatever.

I have also spent funds on products that didn't work, or were not as expected or were just a general disappointment. I wonder how many review sites, magazines and forum entries are really just an avenue for marketing new products.

Working out in the garage last night, on my bike, installing my latest purchase had me singing the praises of this new product and thoughts about spreading the word. Not only this time, with this product, but a continuing segment revealing the good, bad or ugly of many products I've either used or are collecting dust in the rafters of my garage.

I'll start with last night's project, the Turn Signal Conversion Kit from Electrical Connection. I found this on one of the forums I read and from members I trust. With the days getting shorter and many of us soon to be riding in the dark I thought $49 was more than reasonable for this bit of safety. It utilizes the normally 'dead' rear signal lights as running lights as well as additional brake lights. All the original wiring and lighting stays intact and a circuit board ring of LED lights are added around the bulb. This is not a double filament conversion you see on some bikes, these do emit red light at night through the amber lens, keeping everything legal.

Difficult to see in the daylight....

but nighttime is when this product shines...

First, what an easy install, I think I put about 2 hours into this and that included reading the instructions. I did cheat and use the quick connects that came with the kit, but to keep them all dry I made all the connections under the seat as opposed to out in the elements,(elements, bulbs, get it?). There was not a lot of room to accommodate splicing, soldering and shrink tube nor was I comfortable cutting my factory wiring. I ran the wires along side the existing wiring and zip tied them together inside my rear fender. I'll see how they hold up this winter through the rain and cold.

Another 'safety feature' (terminology I learned when I sold cars) is the LEDs light up a fraction of a second faster than the incandescent brake light bulb.

I would have to argue that now I'm in the market for an LED brake light. LEDs can be addicting, just look at any owner operator of a long haul truck on the road.

I am very happy with the look, the results and I recommend this product and the company. Components required to fulfill my order were back ordered but I was informed immediately and I still received the product within 2 weeks of placing the order.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Chowdah Run

I posted, on a local forum, a time and a place to meet for a ride to the coast for clam chowder. We had just been there the week before on the same route but I am always looking for an excuse to ride. We met at a coffee shop and we had six bikes show up and then met another along the way. Now I was a little concerned to be the only one riding a cruiser and the only one riding two up. However, I don't think I was nearly as concerned as Brandy was, her being the 2 up-ee.

I set up the ride so I was the leader and we kept a brisk pace down to the coast to try and keep it interesting for the others. It was a bit of a daunting task watching 6 sport bikes in your mirrors through the twisties. I met most of these guys when I rode my Sprint ST but they have accepted the cruiser and my passenger as part of the group, they are a great bunch of guys. Jim even tipped his hat to any woman that'll ride on the back of a bike doing 45 into a 25 mph corner.

The great thing about riding with other riders is having them reveal their secret back roads, shortcuts and routes. It was a pleasant day to the coast but North of Waldport around Seal Rock, the fog rolled in and it got downright chilly. It makes for better tasting chowder but not something you want to ride through again after you just warmed up.

Paul took the lead on his VFR eager to show us his back road to our next fuel stop. It was a great road that headed inland and ended up back onto Hwy 101. As soon as we turned off you could feel the temperature rise and the sunshine warming the ribbon of asphalt welcoming us to ride. What a pleasure to follow a fellow rider through an unfamiliar road, Paul set the perfect pace and never touched the brake, the sweeping corners opening up to vast stretches. The road presenting another corner, gracefully arching into the next.

Brandy is a great passenger and knows I would never push harder than I feel comfortable, it's just that my comfort level is alot faster than hers, especially following a sport bike. I guess I confirmed Jim's earlier tip of his hat when my boot and left pipe scraped through a 20 mph corner. Some couples go to trust building workshops where they fall backward and trust their spouse catch them. I take my wife on a motorcycle ride and try to outrun 6 sport bikes through the twisties.

I ride a cruiser, but I don't think anyone has told my bike yet. I think I'll keep it a secret and let her wear the scar on her pipe as a distinguishing badge of honor.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Age of Aquarium...

Brandy and I watched the skies Sunday morning and Googled weather maps trying to decide if we should take the bike to Newport. What's a little rain?
We had planned weeks ago to meet her brother Tiger and his fiance Tanisha in Newport to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Tiger lives in Coos Bay and rides a Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe, I don't hold it against him, he's family. We all planned to meet on the bikes and after texting and referring to web cams and weather reports we suited up and headed out.
I am not a big fan of Hwy 20 to Newport as it is the main route for lumbering motorhomes towing boats or testosterone trucks trailering quads to the beach. Not to mention the OSP presence, not that I would ever speed, but the one time I'd pull out to pass some tourist traffic they'd be waiting. The other highway is so much less populated, you can keep a safe rhythmic pace and the scenery is worth slowing down to appreciate.
We were expecting the rain but not the cold. It wasn't unbearable but surprisingly chilly for the end of August, a beautiful road for an Augtober day nonetheless. It warmed up as we approached the bay headed into Waldport and the clouds burned off to let the sun shine.
Brandy and I joked before we left how funny it would be if we saw 'TnT' ride by as we approached 101. Well, sure enough the bright white flash of his Harley streaked by, I couldn't have timed it better if I tried. The signal light turned green upon my descent and traffic cleared allowing me to seamlessly roll a right turn and come up behind them on the bridge. It isn't everyday I get to roll up on a Harley rider, flip them off and live to tell the tale.

Coffee and chowdah for lunch at the Rogue Brewery warmed us back up and offered us an opportunity to visit and chat before going over to the aquarium. The Rogue may not be the best chowdah but it is consistent and it beats the tourist trap of Mo's on a holiday weekend. The Oregon Coast chowdah debate is a blog for another day.

We came upon a car show being held in the aquarium parking lot which allowed us premium parking. We were told it was held every Labor Day weekend and an invite was extended to us for next year as there are never any motorcycles that stick around all day for a car show. A capricious bunch, aren't we? Ride or show? Ride or show? Ummmmm....I choose ride, but first the aquarium.

The new Odd Water feature is pretty interesting, there is a lot to learn and plenty to see and even touch.

It made for a great ride, a great visit and a great day at the coast. Stop by if you get a chance, we are all a little odd.