I am an ordinary guy who enjoys riding motorcycles. I love riding all makes and models. I love short rides, long rides, and multi-day road trips. I post reviews about motorcycle gear, motorcycles, roads, restaurants, sights, gadgets and more. The Interesting Facts and Trivia page has a new bit of history added each week. Be safe and enjoy the ride, Oz.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Honda VFR 1200 Review

Sport Touring Bike #2
The Honda VFR 1200 is my second sport touring motorcycle and here is a 11,000+ miles review of the 2012 VFR 1200.  Updated at 60,000+ miles


March 23, 2014 
 Shopping for a new Bike
I wasn't looking at the VFR originally, but a friend and R1 rider at the time suggested I consider it.  After some research on my own I decided I should at least sit on a VFR. 

I had a Yamaha FJR 1300 for almost 4 years (60,000+ miles) and was considering another one along with the Aprilla Copone and VFR.  After sitting on all three, looking at options, features, maintenance, insurance and overall "gut" reaction I decided the VFR was top of the three and I should test ride it. 

June 2014 ride to Nocona, Texas

My First Honda
After the test ride the negotiations began.  The discounted price was a big "plus" along with the fact my insurance company priced it as a two year old bike. Saddlebags would have to be ordered, but I could roll the cost into the final amount.
 
On May 31, 2014 I bought my first Honda motorcycle.  A new 2012 VFR 1200 with less than 5 miles on it, even after Mac and I took test rides on it.  For reasons unknown to me the VFR 1200 does not sell that well here in the USA, so this brand new two year old bike was mine at a great price.

The fit and finish is top of the line.  The sleek lines and curves gives the impression the bike is "fast" and the looks are not deceiving.  The 1237cc V4 produces smooth consistent power.  The stock seat is plenty comfortable for me and I have never felt like changing it.

Making it My Bike
I was not as confident as I wanted to be with the stock tires, but once I mounted the Michelin Pilot Road 2, confidence in the curves increased greatly.  I have since used the PR3 and PR4, both great tires.

I ordered the saddlebags for the bike, they do not come stock. I replaced the stock windsheild with the  Zero Gravity windshield.  The tinted windshield looks good and greatly reduced buffeting. I swapped the big bulky stock exhaust with the Two Brothers slip-on exhaust, which greatly improved the looks and the sounnd of the bike as well as dropping 12 lbs! 

I added T-Rex Racing sliders and Grip Buddies. I wanted to sit up more so I changed the clip on handlebars to Helibars.  I loved the comfort and the improved feel I had of the bike/road connection.
The Grip Buddies were added because I like the comfort of the bigger grip and the vibration reducing neoprene.

I added the Givi 46 litter top case since I am able to do a good amount of multi-day trips.  The Givi is durable, convenient and well made.  It is also a substantially less expensive than the OEM top case. 


Zero Gravity tinted windshield is about 2 inches taller than stock and works great.

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 That's a Wrap!
After about 2 years I decided to have a good friend put a wrap on the bike.  I knew what I wanted so I discussed it with Mike.  I left the VFR with him while I was riding in the Alps in Italy and Switzerland.  When I returned I was blown away by the work Mike had done!

In Wyoming on my way to Alaska.

In Wyoming on our way to Alaska
 June 2014 on US129 a.k.a The Tail of the Dragon - photo by Killboy.com

Putting on the Miles
I have commuted, ridden back roads with twisties, ridden in Dallas traffic, taken weekend trips and extended trips.  The VFR has taken me on the windy roads in the Smokey Mountains, including the Tail of the Dragon, and over many mountain passes of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and New Mexico.  I have ridden a few miles in a day up to 650 miles in a day.  I have travel without saddlebags, with saddlebags and even fully loaded for camping.  I have put the bike to the test and I have found myself always smiling.


In Alaska on our way to Valdez
  
New Features for Me
This is the first bike I have owned with traction control and/or a slipper clutch.  I like the both features; however, the first time the traction control engaged was a little surprising and at the same time comforting.  I was glad to feel it work so much quicker than I could react.  The slipper clutch works great and makes downshifting smooth.  The single-side swingarm not only looks sharp it makes changing the tire very convenient.  I love that feature!

Enjoy the view from the Pikes Peak Veterans Memorial outside of Cripple Creek, CO
The seating position is slightly more aggressive than the FJR which took a little getting use to.  I like the lighter weight (589 lbs - wet - although I know that is heavy compared to some bikes) when it comes to backing up or moving around in the garage.  The detachable saddlebags are a great feature requiring just unlock the bag and lift the handle - very convenient.

Very easy to remove saddlebags
Final Impressions
The VFR's handling is solid and breeds confidence in the twisties.  There is plenty of ground clearance for leaning hard.  The levers are adjustable and operate smoothly.  Breaking is the best I have had (6 bikes so far).

I love the bike.  I can not stop smiling when riding (except when a distracted cager makes a bad move).  It is more "sport" than "tourer".  MPG for me has been consistently 39.5 with a mixture of city and hwy. 

If I were to retire and tour for weeks at a time year round I have to admit I would go back with the FJR due to comfort, storage, fuel economy (40mpg vs 44mpg) and sitting position.  But, for now I am loving every mile on the VFR!
Video Review


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* I have personally ordered from and/or visited this business and based on my experiences I recommend this company.  I have an affiliate relationship with this business, which means if you follow this link and purchase, I will receive a small commission and will get to ride more!

# Based on reviews, word of mouth and discussion with others I recommend this company.  I have an affiliate relationship with this business, which means if you follow this link and purchase, I will receive a small commission and will get to ride more!
 
** I am a co-owner of this business and would love for you to try our products! 

Feedback on these businesses is appreciated.  You may comment below.


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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

49 Miles of great New Mexico highway

 In November 2012 I rated some roads I had ridden (Scenic Roads #6-#10 and Scenic Roads #1-#5) and found especially scenic.  Since then I have had the opportunity to ride many other great roads and one in particular has become a "favorite" road.

Northeast New Mexico is a favorite destination for many of us in Texas.  The Enchanted Circle which includes Angel Fire, Eagles Nest, Questa, Red River and Taos is a well known Scenic Byway and is a great place to ride.

However, I have decided the 49 mile stretch of US 64 between Tres Piedras (intersection of US 64 and US 285 northwest of  Taos, NM) and Tierra Amarilla (south of Chama, NM) is a fun, scenic must ride for motorcyclists.    Link to map
https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Tres+Piedras,+NM/Tierra+Amarilla,+NM+87551/@36.6860176,-106.5563251,10z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x8717a4ad062abcc9:0xf1ce24e7761909fb!2m2!1d-105.9672384!2d36.6469626!1m5!1m1!1s0x8717d7fe066b4d35:0xb6b5dcdd97d941e!2m2!1d-106.5497566!2d36.7002922!3e0
Screenshot of map on Google Maps
What does this road have to offer?  Sweeping curves, hairpin turns, elevation change, scenic views and solitude (traffic is minimal).  US 64 cuts through the Carson National Forest so riders need to be aware of the potential for wildlife.  With a total of 5 passes over this road I have seen a bunch of suicidal ground squirrels (they will dart out right in front of you) and a few deer, but never very close to the road.

Spirited riding is almost mandatory.  The sweepers on the eastern portion allows for consistent throttle and very little downshifting. The middle portion has nice elevation changes with some straight sections where some riders (not that I would :) ) could test bike velocity. On the western end there are some tight turns allowing the outer portion of tires to get some usage.
Great view from US 64
Great views abound and the road reaches an elevation of 10,507 feet at Brazos Summit (second highest point on any NM highway), so the temperature can dip even in the summer.  Like all mountain areas, rain is always a possibility.  Two of the five times I have ridden the road I have experience brief light rain showers.
 View from overlook before descent to Tierra Amarilla
The combination of various radius curves, elevation change, minimal traffic and great destinations at each end makes this a road worth the fuel to experience and enjoy.




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Quality Detailing and Cleaning Products for your motorcycle and more **
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Ordinary Biker Oz YouTube Channel has video reviews and more
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXRxEDV5qQLsRsag488Rg4Q?view_as=subscriber


* I have personally ordered from and/or visited this business and based on my experiences I recommend this company.  I have an affiliate relationship with this business, which means if you follow this link and purchase, I will receive a small commission and will get to ride more!

# Based on reviews, word of mouth and discussion with others I recommend this company.  I have an affiliate relationship with this business, which means if you follow this link and purchase, I will receive a small commission and will get to ride more!
 
** I am a co-owner of this business and would love for you to try our products! 

Feedback on these businesses is appreciated.  You may comment below.


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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Poker Alice - Pizza in Lake City, Colorado

Earlier I posted about one of my favorite pizza places in the Rocky Mountains - Beau Jo's in Idaho Springs, Colorado.  Now I want to tell you about another great pizza restaurant in Southwestern Colorado.
Photo from Lakecity.com

Poker Alice sits on the southern end of the main road through Lake City, Colorado (CO 149 a.k.a. Silver Thread) which is the opposite end of town from the awesome Lake City Bakery.  

Poker Alice has both indoor and outdoor seating.  I prefer sitting outdoor and enjoying the view of the surrounding mountains.  The restaurant is named after Alice Ivers Tubbs, known as Poker Alice, the well known Wild West female poker player.
Poker Alice welcomes visitors - photo from Poker Alice Facebook
The eatery has an array of beverages to choose from including soft drinks, coffee, hot chocolate, espresso, chai tea , tea, shakes, smoothies, beer and wine.  A breakfast buffet is available each morning until 11:00 a.m., but be aware they are closed on Sundays.

Lunch and dinner options are plentiful.  Sandwiches, salads, pizza by the slice, soup, hamburger, pasta dishes, calzones, wraps, pizza pies and more are on the menu.
How about some pepperoni and bacon?!
Fresh pizza is the specialty of the house. Fresh ingredients and great timing make for hot satisfying pizza and other great dishes.  My sister and her family eat at Poker Alice's each time they are in Lake City (and they aren't the type to go back to a bad place).

When riding the Silver Thread and you get ready to eat squeeze the brake and stop at Poker Alice Pizza, you will be glad you did.  If you happen to be there for lunch on June 25, 2015 you might catch me there!