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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Great routes for the Fall

The following is a guest post with some great ideas.

3 Great Routes in the USA for Autumn Riding
In the United States, the fall season is one of the most-loved times of the year. The air is beginning to chill, but the sun is still golden with warmth during the day. The leaves paint the landscape with vibrancy, and for motorcycle lovers, the open road is the place to be. Temperatures and weather conditions are perfect for riding, and interstates are often free of congestion, as school is back in session.
 Bright Autumn colors (photo from
This year, find some time to take your bike out for a peaceful ride through the countryside or down one of these three routes, which often boast the best in autumn leaf colors and natural landscapes.

Interstate 93
New England is one of the best places in the United States for fall foliage, and I-93 is a great road to take to see the best of what the region has to offer. The interstate’s southern-most point is in Canton, Massachusetts, near Boston, and its northern-most point is near St. Johnsbury, Vermont. For most of its length, the interstate indirectly parallels U.S. Route 3, so if you feel like veering off the path and getting into more rural territory, you have that option. With a path that runs through Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, I-93 also goes through the White Mountain National Forest and is just a short drive from Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

U.S.Route 23/Interstate 26
Beginning in Ashland, Kentucky, U.S. Route 23 winds south through the Appalachian hills of the eastern part of the state. Once in Tennessee, you’ll veer off onto Interstate 26, which will take you through the thick of the Cherokee National Forest and the boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountains. Keep traveling southeast through the hills of North Carolina, and you will have followed nearly the same route of many of America’s frontiersmen. This route is one of the best, yet least talked about, for fall colors and natural landscapes. There are also plenty of two-road rural roads to exit off and on to throughout the trip. Just be sure to bring along a map or GPS to find connections back onto the interstate. 
 Smoky Mountains near Tennessee/North Carolina state line
(photo by Motor Oz during 2011 summer trip)
The Scenic Byways of Yellowstone National Park
Fall in Yellowstone is quite different from the northeast and southeast parts of the country. Foliage is sparse, but the natural landscape as a whole is breathtaking. To get the most out of your Yellowstone experience, book a room at a lodge and plan to take a few days to complete all of the park’s scenic byways. Road options to travel include U.S. Route 191 (which links to Big Sky, Montana from the north and Grand Teton from the south), U.S. Route 212 (which runs northeast through Cooke City, Montana and Red Lodge, Montana) and U.S. Route 14 (which connects to Cody, Wyoming), among smaller routes in the center of the park.
 US 212 a.k.a. Beartooth Highway
(photo by Motor Oz during summer 2010 trip)
Stacy Holmes is a freelance blogger for She’s been a motorcycle enthusiast since childhood and loves to write about purchasing and maintaining a bike and having fun on the open road. Please leave your comments or questions for Stacy below!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Two years on the Yamaha FJR - a review

Early morning, after workout and before work
September 15, 2010 - I picked up my first non-cruiser, the Yamaha FJR (pre-owned with only 751 miles).  I posted my initial impressions seven days later.  I was impressed and excited about a new style of riding and a bike with a lot of power.

Six months and 6,000 miles later another "review" of the bike was posted.  I had taken the FJR on only one multi-day trip and I was still learning a lot about riding a sport tourer.

Today, 734 days and 33,249 miles later, I enjoy the FJR more than ever!
Actual miles - September 19, 2012
Here is a little background that has influenced my thoughts on the bike: 
(I live in McKinney, Texas)
Trip to North Carolina/Tennessee state line - seven days, five trips on the Tail of the Dragon, and a lot of miles in the Smoky Mountains
One trip to Florida
One trip to southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana
Four trips to Arkansas and the Talimena Drive
One trip to Colorado/Northeast New Mexico - Camping off the bike, several miles on gravel, numerous mountain passes, Million Dollar Highway, Silver Thread Scenic Byway, and Enchanted Circle (NM).
Five days in Texas Hill Country
A lot of days commuting to work
Numerous benefit rides, dinner rides, breakfast rides, ice cream rides (see a pattern :) )
Loaded down for the camping trip in Colorado/New Mexico
 There are several scratches and signs of use, but the performance has been nonstop awesome!

The acceleration of a 1,300 in-line 4 is exhilarating.   It has so much snap and torque.  As I have gotten more familiar with the bike and the riding style I have enjoyed the "take off" a lot.  The 144 horses provides so much power in every gear.  Passing a vehicle is so easy and quick,  I have to be cognitive that the riders following me may not be able to pass as quickly.
Following Hugh on the Honda Saber improved my gas mileage
The economy is good.  When on longer trips the highway mileage can get as high as 55 mpg.  This past summer my friend on his Honda Saber lead 90% of the time on the Colorado/New Mexico trip.  He did not accelerate aggressively and maintained a good speed.  Up until I had a day of riding by myself I was getting 54.5 mpg!  Most of the time with a mixture of city and highway miles I am getting 42 mpg.
Riding the Silver Thread Scenic Byway reduced the MPG, but sure was fun!
I get a lot of questions about the comfort of the bike.  I readily admit the FJR does not have the same creature comforts of the Venture.  I have a harder time extending my legs and the Corbin seat is harder, but I have done well on the trips and I am not ready to change.  The "grin factor" of the ride out weights any of the minor discomforts.

The adjustable windshield is great.  Being able to adjust it while riding has been very helpful, especially when encountering rain.  The detachable luggage is great.  I love being about to carry the saddlebags and truck to the room or campsite.  
It is fun to leave the bags at home and taking the FJR out with the sport bikes and it looks so good!
Hard to tell it is a touring bike
The handling is very impressive.  I am sure that I have not pushed the bike to its limits, but I have leaned into some corners at high speeds with easy.  When riding the Tail of the Dragon it was easy to maneuver through the curves, even when I had a passenger.  Several times the peg feelers kissed the pavement.  It took me a while to learn how to "shift a cheek and drop a knee" and roll through the corners, but the FJR makes it easy.  Best handling bike I have owned so far.
Enjoying the cornering abilities of the FJR
I added the J and M CB/Audio system, GenMar handlebar risers, grip puppies, and the Cobin seat.  The Corbin lowered the seat 1.5 inches which was good since I am only 5'6".

Maintenance has not been difficult.  Both the oil and final drive oil is very easy and straightforward.  The radiator flush and change took some reading and careful work with the fairing.  Spark plug change was not difficult other than learning how to remove the appropriate fairing parts.  When I changed the plugs (later than recommended) I found the plugs in great shape. They looked almost unused.  The engine is so efficient. 

I did not attempt the valve adjustment, that was too involved for me, but my mechanic friend said they were still in range.

The two major "cons" of the FJR for me are: high center of gravity, especially for a short guy & tire wear.  I do realize riding aggressiveness has a great impact on the life of a tire, but it sure is difficult not to "get on it!"

I love the bike and I hope to have her for years to come.  I highly recommend the FJR for anyone who enjoys touring and great performance.

On a personal note, I have been delayed in posting this past couple of months.  I am very blessed to have a mom that turned 92 in June and a dad that will be 88 in October, but as the years have gone by I have been spending more time visiting and assisting them.  I will try to not take so long between post.
An amazing and wonderful couple at the June, '12 family reunion.
I am so blessed to have them as my parents.