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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Kobalt Air Compressor: A review - little things impress

I am the first to admit I am not a "gear head" (good at working on bikes/autos), but I do try to learn and do more of my own work and maintenance each year.  With that said this post may seem silly to some, but for this ordinary biker a great tool has been found.

I have owned portable air compressors and shop air compressors and they have all functioned well.  However; I recently found myself without either and in need of one.  Since downsizing my life over the last 18 months I wanted/needed a portable compressors due to storage space.
Photo from Lowes.com
I had to borrow a neighbors Kobalt 12-Volt air compressor to get the bike's tires to proper pressure and loved it so much I decided to purchase one for myself from Lowes.

The Kobalt 12-Volt Car Air Inflator is very versatile and has some very useful features.  The unit comes with a power cord for use in an automobile power plug and a cord for home outlet usage.  A simple flick of the switch lets the compressor know the source of electricity. 

Use at home or with the car
Multiple nozzle options for inflating various items are included.  The digital air gauge displays current tire pressure so an additional air gauge is not needed.  I really like that once I connect the compressor I don't have to disconnect until finished.
User friendly button and display
Once the compressor measures the current air pressure the desired ("Target") air pressure is entered using the up or down arrows.  Once target pressure is selected a push of the run/pause button starts the compressor and it automatically shuts off when the target pressure is achieved.  This feautree is great because it allows for multitasking without concern of over inflation.

The cords fit neatly either in or on the unit making it easy to handle, manageable and tidy.
Automobile power plug stores inside the unit.  Photo at Lowes.com
With a width of 12 inches, a height of 10 inches, depth of 5 inches ( 30.48cm X25.4cm X12.7cm) and weight of 9 lbs (4.08 kg) it is too big to carry on motorcycle trips, but is very handy at home or in the automobile.

It is rugged, sturdy and durable and functions great!  Glad this amateur mechanic (I use that term loosely) found it.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Taking care of the feet

On February 18, 2016 fellow blogger and international biker Gary France posed a question on his Flies in your Teeth page - "You cannot ride without....what"?  I thought it was a very good question and it made me examine what I pack for my multi-day trips.
http://garysusatour.blogspot.com/
Gary's blog
Gary later posted compiled and organized lists from all the answers submitted -Essential riding items - The Results.  The lists are a great place to start for any biker planning a ride.

For his "Something you wear when riding" category I answered "comfortable socks."   Tired, hot (or cold), sweaty feet at the end of the day are not comfortable.  So, as discretionary income has increased over the years I have tried different and more expensive socks.  Although I still can not bring my self to pay $10+ for one pair of socks I have moved away from the 12 pack sock purchase.  (At times I have been called "cheap", I prefer to think of myself as frugal.  After all, I want to maximize my gas and tire budget so I try to save in other areas).

I watch for and purchase higher quality hiking socks when they are on sale.  I am glad I have started do this!

REI Performance Crew - REI.com
Many of  the specialty hiking or running wicking socks have proven to make a day of riding less stressful on my feet.  In particular the REI Performance Crew and the REI Side Stripe Sock have become my two favorite motorcycle riding socks.
REI Side Stripe - REI.com
Both pair have flat toe seams, wicks moisture away, dries quickly and because they are made with some spandex they are flexible and durable.  The Side Stripe is my #1 choice.  The comfort and performance helps my feet to feel much better at the end of the day whether riding, hiking or a combination.

On colder days I will wear sock liners with these socks to keep my feet warm.  During the warmer times these socks work great at wicking moisture and are not too warm on the feet.

In the past I would not of thought spending more on socks would be a worthy investment, but I have changed my mind.  Having been blessed to get to take a lot of multi-day trips with some all day riding I can honestly say a good pair of socks makes a BIG difference.

Take care of your feet and they will take care of you.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Rising up on the Honda VFR 1200 - Helibars review

The Honda VFR 1200 is a great machine with plenty of horsepower (172 reported by topspeed.com), ABS, traction control and a sleek top notched finish.  This sport-touring motorcycle, however, has one of the most aggressive seating positions for its class. It took a little getting use to after almost four years on the Yamaha FJR 1300 and its less aggressive position.
Photo taken during first all day ride shortly after purchasing the VFR.
On shorter rides (200 miles or less) the riding position was OK and the fun factor was great, but I did notice more discomfort than I would like, especially on the 653 mile day I rode in July 2014 to Walsenburg, CO.
Riding and camping in Colorado & New Mexico, July 2014
In January, 2016 I started considering selling the VFR and purchasing another FJR (both are great bikes).  After a lot of thought and discussion with fellow riders I decided to customize the VFR for me.  The top priority was to relax the sitting position.

After performing some research I ordered the Helibars VFR 1200 risers which provide a 2 inch rise, 1 inch pull back and are longer by 1 inch.  They arrived in 2 business days complete with detail installation instructions.  With the help from a couple of friends the new bars were installed in short time.
Helibars look so much like the stock bars it is almost impossible to tell the difference
My initial test ride with the Helibars was very positive.  I immediately felt more comfortable and noticed a smoother/easier control on turns & curves.  Suspecting my first impressions might be my optimism and anticipation of the changes I knew I would need to take a much longer ride to gather clearer and more detailed impressions.
Upon inspection one can see the bigger gap between the base of the handlebars and the controls.
A couple of days later I was able to ride the VFR on country and city roads, with and without traffic, through sweeping curves and tight corners - a ride range of riding environments.  Now I can say with all certainty the Helibars were worth the money!

I felt more relaxed, more in control and less fatigued at the end of the day.  The risers decreased my lean angle by approximately 8%.  I was expecting the risers to improve the comfort of my ride, but the improvement and smoothness I felt in the handling is a bonus!  Pressing into the corners feels more fluid.

The Helibars risers' finish is professional and they merge with the stock controls seamlessly.  everything fit perfectly and was easy to reinstall.  Other than the height change one can not distinguish the difference between the stock bars and the Helibars.
Great finish on the Helibars risers - photo from Helibars.com
I highly recommend Helibars, especially if a rider needs to relax the riding position on his/her bike.  Great quality and quick fulfillment of the order.  Installation instructions are clear and complete.

Lets ride!
  

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

You are coming through loud and clear: a Sena review

The Yamaha Venture I had for four months (until a lady decided to run a red light and hit me) came stock with CB/stereo.  With the help from friends my Yamaha FJR was fitted with a J&M communication/CB system.  Both worked well, but I wasn't sure I got my monies worth from the J&M.  Not because it wasn't great - it was a high quality unit.  I just did not need the communication with other riders (during the ride) as much as I thought I would.

I resisted the temptation to add anything to the Honda VFR and chose to listen to my music using earbuds and my cell phone.  It did not take long to discover I was unable to hear the music very well when riding at a "spirited" pace.  Quality moldable earbuds helped; however, cell phones can only crank out a limited volume. Limited volume gets drowned out during moments of "spirited" riding.

After research and visiting with fellow riders who own various communications/stereo systems I decided to purchase the Sena 20S.  A friend and I purchase a dual set at the International Motorcycle Show in Dallas in January.  He needed another Sena for his wife and we both wanted to save money. After some bargaining we purchased a pair for $400 total (taxes covered by the vendor).
Photo of 20s with antenna - photo from Sena.com
The Sena 20S mounts to the helmet easily and is low profile so it fits snugly on side of the helmet.  Weighing only 2.11 oz I don't even notice it when the helmet is on.
Profile view of 20S
The 20S small size does not upset the way the helmet feels.
The unit is 3.7 inches long, 1.9 inches tall and only 1.0 inches wide.  The size and weight minimizes any unbalancing of the helmet (I did not notice any) and there is no noticeable wind resistance.
When the main module is removed there is very little left on the helmet.
The Sena 20S comes with a claimed 13 hours of talk time, a bike to bike range of 1.2 miles in open terrain and an FM radio is built in the system. I have not tried the bike to bike communication yet, but my friend has and says the unit works great and the sound quality is crisp and clear.

I have answered and made phone calls with the unit and have been impressed.  The sound is clear and those on the other end of the phone conversation could not tell I was out riding.  The noise cancellation system works very effectively.  One friend observed that my voice was clearer than when I am talking through the Bluetooth system in my 2010 Ford F150.
Sena 20S
The unit comes with all you need including speakers for the helmet and three different microphones (options for full, 3/4 and 1/2 helmets) plus additional supplies to custom fit your unit (complete list).

Pairing the unit was easy and quick.  The operation of the unit is straightforward. The jog dial and buttons are easy to use even when wearing gloves.  I recommend spending some time on the couch wearing the helmet learning the functions and operations of the unit.

The system comes with an earbud jack.  I use high quality earbuds with the unit if I am going to be riding at "spirited" paces.  The earbuds reduce the wind noise as well as brings the music and communications straight to the ear.

Two features I like include the ability to charge the unit while using it.  If the bike has an auxiliary power port I can use the car charger while riding and using the unit.  This will be beneficial on long trips.  The Ambient Mode button is a nice feature allowing me to hear what is happening outside the helmet.  When I pull side to side with another biker I can use the Ambient Mode to hear what he or she is saying to me.  It will come in handy.
Photo from Sena website
There are other features I still need to try i.e. voice commands and speed dialing. This small unit is packed with quality and features.  I am really impressed with the Sena 20S and without reservation recommend the unit to anyone looking for a communication system.

My Moto Oz business partner is impressed and is buying a unit so we can communicate when I am leading our Moto Oz Beat The Heat Tours (Summer 2016 we are heading to Breckenridge, Colorado).

I also purchased the Sena Prism camera which can pair with the 20S and can be controlled with the 20S unit.  I will post review of the Prism later after more usage, but the preliminary impressions are very positive.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cindi's NY Deli in Dallas gets your motor running

Considering I have never been to New York (but certainly want to visit sometime) I can not speak to the authenticity of Cindi's NY Delicatessen, but I give BIG Kudos to the Dallas eatery.
Cindi's downtown Dallas location - 306 South Houston St.
Visiting downtown Dallas is not something I do often, but at least once a year I head that way for the International Motorcycle Show.  This year I decided to go early and have breakfast somewhere near the convention center.  After some research I decided to take a chance on Cindi's and I am very glad I did.

At 8:45 A.M. my friend, Mac, and I arrived at the simple building housing Cindi's.  We were greeted with a smile and told to sit wherever we wanted.  The server quickly presented us with menus and took our drink order.

The menu is full of standard breakfast choices as well as a lot I had never seen (I suppose they were standard items at a NY deli) i.e. Lox & eggs, Matzo Brie, Cheese Blintzes and Latkes.  Making a decision took some time and a few questions for the server.

Mac ordered the Deli Omelette (corned beef and pastrami) hash browns and a bagel.  I opted for the French toast with one egg and sausage.  It did not take very long until our food was served hot and fresh.
Deli Omelette with hash browns and bagel
Mac's omelette was served "pancake style" - folded over it self creating 4 layers.  The meats were flavorful and complimented the eggs. The omelette and hash browns were enough to fill him up so he had to take the multi-grain bagel with him.  Mac commented, "this is the best omelette I have ever had" and I know for a fact he has eaten a lot of omelettes.
French toast with egg and sausage
My French toast were made with thick Texas sliced bread, cooked to a golden brown & yellow and sprinkled with powered sugar.  Six slices to the order!  The texture and flavor of the toast lived up to my high anticipation.  They tasted as good as they looked.  The egg and sausage were fresh and high quality.  I finished it all.  Good thing I did - when I paid out the various pastries at the counter were very tempting.
Freshly made turnovers
We both left completely satisfied and looking forward to returning in the future.  The time arrived sooner than expected.  Around noon several of us at the International Motorcycle Show began making lunch plans.  None of us wanted to drive somewhere only to drive back and pay the crazy cost of parking so we discussed options within walking distance of the show.

Mac and I mentioned Cindi's along with our praises for the breakfast we had.  Everyone was agreeable to a .7 mile walk to try lunch at Cindi's.  Once again no one was disappointed.  Two pastrami Reuben sandwiches, one corned beef Reuben, one turkey Reuben and one turkey burger were ordered.  I had sweet potato fries with my turkey Reuben.
Turkey Reuben with sweet potato fries and slaw
The Rye bread was grilled with a little butter, the turkey was thinly sliced, the Swiss cheese was a flavorful, but not strong and the sauerkraut topped the sandwich off perfectly.  The slaw had a fresh and traditional flavor.  I ordered the sweet potato fries crispy, which they arrived as ordered.

Once again the meal was filling and although the fresh pastries and desserts (cheesecake, key lime pie and cookies) were tempting I just did not have any more room.
More pastries, donuts and cookies
The lunch was a perfect lunch to go with the show.  It's difficult to top a sunny day, motorcycles and good food.