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  1. nhchris

    Fast & Furious - My Favorite Demo Rides

    Thanks for the comments guys. I added a few links to the story to some related info on the bikes discussed. cb
  2. I am a senior rider of average ability, but I love riding motorcycles of all makes and styles. I learn a little something from each bike I ride. The chance to demo a variety of bikes is what draws me to Americade in Lake George NY each June. I’ve taken some pretty wild rides at Americade over the years. These are some of my favorite demo memories. Suzuki GSX-R 750 — Redline or Bust I was used to the relatively low revving V4 engine on my ST-1300. At around 8 grand call it a day and shift. Then I demo’d a GSX-R 750. The ride leader was on a GSX-R 1000, so you know she was serious about this demo. All you have to do is follow, right? As I shot up the highway entrance ramp in second gear I watched the tach spin past high noon and keep right on going. Why shift when you have thousands of RPM left to spend on the way to 14 thousand? Tucked in behind the leader at 90 mph on the interstate I finally slipped the bike into third while as its air box howled and exhaust can screamed. Pure demo joy on a bike someone else maintains. The rest of the ride was a blur as I tried to keep up with her and my fellow crazies. All I know is that little 750 provided one of the most exhilarating demo rides I’ve ever taken. Indian Chieftain — Landing Gear Down My wife wanted to try out one of the BIG Indian baggers, so we queued up for a ride on a Chieftain. As I settled into the saddle and she on pillion, the girth of the bike impressed me. I don’t know what it weighed, but it made my ST feel sprightly. “Are you sure you can you hold this thing up?” she ask. I grunted, lifted it off the side stand, and started the engine. The guy ahead of me on a smaller Indian was a bit erratic, moving around his lane and figuring out the balance thing. But as we exited the Interstate to a twisty secondary road he was doing fine. I decided not too push the Chieftain through the corners. So we loped and vibrated along at a leisurely pace through the Adirondack countryside. Up ahead I could see a Stop sign at the first real intersection on the ride. Brake lights blinked on as the line of stately Indians slowed. At the Stop sign the guy in front of me came to a graceful stop and then slowly fell over. The full weight of that shinny new Indian pinned him to the road like a butterfly in a museum display. Ride leaders quickly lifted the bike off him as he explained that his normal ride was a CanAm Spyder and he was not in the habit it of putting his feet down at a stop. We all had a good laugh at the poor fellow's expense and the ride headed back to the paddock. The leader told me later this happens at least once every year. Kawasaki Concourse — More Counter Force Coming off an ST fitted with Angel GTs I was used to fairly light steering inputs. Nudge the bar and the old girl complied. Not the case with the Concourse I tried out one year. Part of the demo route covers a very tricky downhill left-right-left.sequence on a two-lane section of road. This bit comes near the end of the ride when you are getting to know the bike and probably a bit over confident in your mastery of an unfamiliar machine. I was eager to push the big Connie on the two-lane and the ride leader set a rapid pace. I stayed on his tail through a series of uphill turns. The Connie felt heavy but seemed to handle much like my trusty ST. As we crested the top of the hill and began the downhill section I made mental note about the decreasing radius left coming up. On the brakes hard entering the first turn of the sequence I found myself inches from the lead bikes rear tire. But the Connie’s brakes were good and I was able to put some distance between us for the next turn. As we railed through that turn I realized I was getting in over my head. I wasn’t sure I had enough traction downhill to pull in more brake, but my entry speed into the next corner was fast. I began counter steering and trail braking while that decreasing radius corner swept up on me. Problem: Counter steering was not having the desired effect. I began to run wide. More pressure on the bar. Still wide. Even more pressure on the bar. Still wide but starting to come around. Push harder! Harder. Harder. Jesus! I have never pushed a bar as hard as I did on that Connie. I’m not sure if its reluctance to turn in was due to the downhill, the OEM front tire or the bike’s geometry. But man it took a ton of bar force to get it around that corner. My ST felt like a sports car after that demo. Aprilla RSV4 RR - You’ll Let Me Ride That? I’m captivated by Italian race bikes homologated for the street. One of my faves is the Aprilla RSV4 RR. This 200 HP, 450 pound beast performs so far above my pay grade I have no business even thinking about it. But there is sat in the demo line just waiting for someone to hop on. The demo gal noticed me ogling it and asked if I’d like a ride. “I can ride that?” I asked incredulously. “Well, if you want the Tuono instead that’s fine too.” “No, no, the RSV4 will be fine” I heard myself saying. The next thing I knew I was astride that Italian beauty with the engine burbling as the ride leader walked me through a maze of race-ready computer electronics. He suggested Street mode rather than Track, which I was to discover was a very wise recommendation. He mounted a Tuono and a few other riders and I were off in a snarling line of super bikes. The V4 growled and snuffed at low RPM as we chugged down Main Street. At the highway entrance ramp I rolled the throttle open and felt the bike bolt forward. I had a death-grip on the bars to stay on the seat. I had never experienced an acceleration rush close to that. And we were just getting started. We exited the Interstate and the leader disappeared down the road. A few of us gave chase and we soon caught sight of his tail light braking hard for a sweeping turn. I stole a glance at the speedo and to my amazement it read 103 mph. I pulled in a major chunk of front brake and those race-ready Brembos sheared off speed like I had hit a brick wall. The power, feel and linearity of the braking was unworldly compared to a “normal” bike. So this is what a race bike feels like. The rest of the ride alternated between frightful acceleration and heart-stopping braking. I put my average riding skills in the hands of Aprilla’s electronic gods of corner-ABS, traction control, wheelie control and quick shift (Who has time to pull a clutch?). I had never ridden a bike like the RSV 4 RR. And I probably never will again! KTM 390 Duke — Stir that Gearbox I love the KTM brand. This Austrian company does it all. Adventure, touring, street, squid. You name it. They have a bike for every occasion. Motorcyclist editor Ari Henning had been campaigning an RC 390 on the California road race scene and I followed his adventures monthly. When I saw the little Duke in KTMs demo lineup I wanted to try it. While the rest of the demo dogs fought over the 1190s and 1290s, I quietly folded my 6-foot frame over the little 390. I felt a bit silly sitting on it: Like a moose on a pit bike. But once the engines were started the child’s play was over. The 390 Duke is a 40 HP, single cylinder, 350 pound machine with a 6-speed gearbox. The red line is a modest 10,000 RPM and to keep speed up you gotta shift shift shift. And while you’re at it keep the revs high near the top of the power band. This was one demo I would feel guilty about afterwards because the poor 390 kept flashing its over-rev light at me during most of the ride. But if I was to keep the big bikes in sight I just had no choice. There was no way I could stay with the big Dukes on the interstate as they howled into the sunset in a KTM-orange blur. But once into the twisty section of the ride the little Duke came into its own. Luckily for me the 1190s were equipped with mild off-road tires. This kept these powerful beasts from running away from me in corners. Aware of their tire situation, the big dogs took it easy when leaned over. They key to riding small-displacement bikes quickly is keeping corner speed up and staying on top of the power. And the 390 obliged. As we carved and strafed the demo route I stayed with the big Dukes by braking late and maintaining corner speed with steep lean angles. It was fun to repeatedly pull up beside an 1190 at corner entry, hang on his tail through the apex and watch him pull away as he poured power on at exit. Then do it again at the next corner. Over and over we danced this ballet chasing the ride leader home. He had true street tires and was completely untouchable. As I mull over these wonderful demo rides I offer a silent thank you to Lake George law enforcement. These guys and gals seem to know what’s in a demo rider’s heart. While they won’t give you a pass to go nuts, they aren’t hiding behind every bush with a radar gun trying to write tickets. Demo ride leaders are also great at what they do — allowing average riders like me to experience what a motorcycle can do in the real world.
  3. Has anyone actually dropped their FJ equipped with crash bars? If so, did the bars reduced damage appreciably? I ask because it looks like lots of pieces are still vulnerable with bars installed including plastic and various engine and transmission covers. Have bars saved you damage or not? cb
  4. FIRE AND ICE Some say the world will end in fire,Some say in ice.From what I’ve tasted of desireI hold with those who favor fire.But if it had to perish twice,I think I know enough of hateTo say that for destruction iceIs also greatAnd would suffice. Robert Frost, 1920 cb
  5. This guy reminds me of me! I too bought with the naive illusion that the small 460 pound bike that replaced my 800 pound ST 1300 would be as comfy, quiet, settled and sweet as I was used to. NOT!. But, it's 460 pounds -- Yaaaaay! Buy a Concourse if ya want to ride a couch on the Interstate. cb
  6. nhchris

    Riding with eyeglasses

    Wearing glasses was a reason I bought a Shoei modular helmet. Much easier to slip it on, don my glasses and then pull the chin bar down for riding. Also nice to flip it up when fueling and snacking rather than taking it completely off. cb.
  7. nhchris

    Riding with eyeglasses

    I ride with progressive glasses and find it nice to see well in the near and far. I highly recommend progressive lenses. My new helmet has a drop-down sun visor that is REALLY nice and negates the need for Rx sunglasses. I crack the face shield about 1/4 inch to stop fogging on damp and cold days. Works well. cb
  8. nhchris

    More HP - Buy it or Lose It?

    I wonder if the lower end of the triple could survive 15 pounds of boost! In any case, an interesting mod to consider. I read the HP2 turbo breaks the speed of sound when the engine spins high RPM. That alone is worth the price of admission. Just hang on tight when it spools up... cb
  9. nhchris

    More HP - Buy it or Lose It?

    What would you pay for additional horse power and performance for your FJ or Tracer? I got to thinking about that reading accounts of riders on this forum who just gotta have more. Is it a rational purchase or not? I crunched some numbers to try and figure it out. Let’s start by saying the 465 pound (wet) FJ in stock kit produces about 105 HP at the rear wheel. That gives the bike a 4.43 weight to power ratio or 4.3 Pounds per horse. In this state the bike will run a quarter mile in the low 11s and easily hit its governed top speed of 110 MPH. Now the fun begins. Lets add an ECU flash to the mix. For about $250 you can have the stock unit programmed to modify the fuel map and do some other useful stuff (soften throttle response, disable speed limiter, alter fan operation, etc.). A standard ECU flash yields maybe 4 additional HP and that works out to about $65 per pony. Not too bad considering the other benefits that accrue. The ECU flash results in a 4.22 W/P ratio. A very slight improvement that might not even be noticed. The next step is usually an after market exhaust system. Now we begin to spend some serious dinero. For simplicity sake let's round the cost to one thousand dollars including block off plate and other miscellaneous hardware. From what I’ve read the gain might be on the order of 10 HP. With this improvement we are paying about $100 for each additional horse and the weight to power ratio improves to 3.8 pounds per horse from the stock 4.4. So is that roughly half-pound-per-horse improvement to 120 HP worth the $1,250 spent? It will in theory yield about a 0.2 second reduction in Quarter mile time so maybe so. But consider this: The bike doesn’t ride itself. So with a 200 pound rider aboard a stock FJ, the real weight to power ratio around 6.3 pounds per horse. Now, if that rider diets and looses 30 pounds, the weight to power ration improves to 6.0 pounds per HP. And if one HP is roughly equivalent to10 pounds, that weight loss equals 3 additional HP, almost as much as the ECU flash. So what would you pay for a few extra horses?
  10. nhchris

    New owner from NH

    Hello from the Seacoast! cb
  11. nhchris

    Riding in the (Wrong) Zone

    Yup. That’s where I find my body check in is helpful. It’s amazing how much discomfort we can tolerate or ignore on a ride. Eventually it takes its toll on me. cb
  12. nhchris

    Riding in the (Wrong) Zone

    I’ve been thinking about the role fatigue plays in our riding experience. And more often than not it’s the role of a villain. A villain who sneaks up on you from behind and clobbers you with a sucker punch. You never knew what hit you. I’ve had three close calls recently due to fatigue and none were the result of high-mileage Iron-Butt days. Each occurred on shorter rides where I was tired and not smart enough to take care of myself. Worse still, I had a passenger on two of these misadventures. Here's what happened... Dragging at the Dragon Over the course of three days I rode from NH to Tennessee to visit The Dragon. We booked a room at Deal’s Gap Resort and settled in for a couple of days of Dragon slaying. The first morning there we woke up, had breakfast and set out to explore the notorious two-lane. After a couple of out-and back passes getting familiar with the road. We were ready to rock. The Dragon is really one continuous corner with few straight sections. Corners are tight and traffic can be heavy. As we stepped up the pace on pass number three the corners came at me with no let up. Left, right, quick left again then another left and a quick right. It was never ending. And then fatigue set in. I began to run wide in right handers and flirted with gravel in lefts. And you know what? I did’t care. I was in some type of “zone” where my brain shut off and my body kept going. I slowed down. I would experience this phenomena again later that summer. Down and Out at a Roundabout It had been a great day at a Maine lake. My wife and I rode two-up to a friends lake-side cottage about 60 miles away to swim, fish, visit and get out on the bike. At the end of the visit we headed home with nice memories and a touch of sunburn. Life was good. Our route was blue-highway two-lane with the occasional intersection sporting signs to China, Norway, Peru and Denmark. About half way home we came upon a traffic rotary. I saw it well in advance but it did not register. At this four-way intersection the wide concrete island forming the center of the rotary was elevated a few inches above the road surface. The shoulder around the center island was gently ramped to meet the road. I entered the rotary eyes wide open. Did not divert right as I should have and rode directly up and over the center island bumping down the other side. My passenger screamed and I woke up. Once again I had zoned out. Brain off, body on. Running on Reserve We had gotten a bit lost on a day-ride through Quebec. So we passed on lunch to lay down miles in an effort to complete our 250-mile loop before dark. With my wife on pillion my gas mileage was less than normal. After noticing the reserve warning had fired I was feeling desperate to find a gas station in our rural location. And finally at the next crossroads there it was. A premium petrol oasis. All I had to do was cross a busy two-lane, pull in and fill up. The road was clear to my left. To my right, way in the distance, a logging truck was bearing down on the intersection. I remember the feeling of urgency I had about getting some gas. Just do it! I began to cross the road and, looking right again, realize I had mis-judged the speed of that monstrous truck. He was almost on top of me… and my passenger. I goosed the throttle and we shot into the gas station as he roared past with horns blaring. Wisely, the folks on the other bikes waited for the truck to blow by before joining me at the pumps. “What the hell did you do that for?” a riding buddy asked. I had no answer. Cause and Effect I’ve thought about these incidents a lot and have come to believe that fatigue was the underlying cause of each. On the Dragon I was tired from the three-day ride to get there. I don’t usually ride three consecutive days and now I know doing so takes a toll on me. In Maine a long day of non-motorcycle activity, combined with too much sun and insufficient hydration, set me up to enter the zombie zone on the ride home. In Quebec blowing off lunch to make more miles caused not only the bike, but also the driver, to almost run out of gas. Each of these unfortunate incidents was totally avoidable and I owed it to my pillion to do much better as the pilot she put her trust in. Fatigue is an insidious companion that can silently creep into your ride. It screws up decision making and judgment without you knowing it. Stupid little mistakes tell me it’s around: forgetting to cancel a turn signal, failing to shift into top gear, focusing in the instruments not the road. Obsessing about a ride-related problem. I’m now aware of these tell-tale signs and take them seriously. Fighting Fatigue Here are some things I do to keep my riding fatigue and in check: Know Thyself - When I was younger my body was a mean machine. I could neglect it and it still did what I demanded: Hike further, run faster, ride longer. Now, well north of retirement age, I know those days are over. To keep running smoothly the machine needs rest, lots of maintenance and constant fueling. One On Ten Off - I stop every hour to stretch legs and break the monotony. It clears my head and readies me for the next hour on. Hydrate or Die - I carry a water bottle and drink during every break to avoid dehydration. In summer I add Gatorade or a similar mineral replacement to counteract the effects of sweating. Feed the Beast - I carry trail bars, nuts, candy and other snacks to munch during breaks, keeping sugar levels ups and replacing calories burned by my brain as it navigates the world on two wheels. Night Night - I make sure I get adequate sleep the night before a long ride. I’ll be tired soon enough once on the bike. I sure don’t want to start that way. How You Doin?- I regularly check in with myself during the ride to see how I’m feeling. Legs cramped? Thirsty? Hungry? Cold? Hot? Back hurt? A quick physical inventory keeps me aware of what’s going on with my body and alerts me fatigue-inducing issues . The insidious thing about fatigue is that it joins my ride slowly, quietly. Little mistakes and oversights grow bigger until a major phuckup seems moments away. I’ve been lucky so far slaying Dragons and dodging logging trucks. But left unchecked, fatigue will always try to claim my ride. At this stage off my riding life , I do everything I can to keep that from happening.
  13. nhchris

    How to change your own tires

    Great video. Thanks. cb
  14. nhchris

    The Great Brexit Road Trip 2019

    Hey @captainscarlet, Given the way things are going in the Parliament., I hope you won't be moving back rather than merely touring through. Take heart, we got our problems over here in the states too. Best, cb
  15. Right. And just a spray or two of ether into the air box gets her going real quick! And winter touring and camping on the FJ just can't be beat... cb