Monday, September 10, 2007

Motorcycle Camping

In order to enjoy your camping you have to pack your bike to the nuts with all the things you may need to make life comfortable. Saddlebags, trunk, and a tank bag can accomodate a lot of your stuff, plus you can pile more on top if need be. Thats where a good supply of bungee cords or cargo netting strap comes in handy.
When planning for motorcycle camping, smaller is better and most camping outlet stores have smaller items that are perfect for motorcycle camping. One burner stove, small lantern, folding fry pan, pots with folding handles, paper plates and plastic cutlery will all do the job for you. Think small and buy accordingly and you can pack everything you need.

I even manage to carry a fold up camping chair with me, because one my pet peeves is that when you arrive at the campsight the only place to sit is on the ground or at the picnic table.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Logan Pass-Going to the Sun Highway

[Click on pictures for full size version]
Ian, Darcy and I met up at Grants house in Calgary and started our five day-three-state-two province tour which would include Logans Pass, also known as "The Going To The Sun Highway".

With fresh faces and no lasting hang overs, we assembled the packed and ready bikes and crew for the obligatory line-up and photo op. Seems to be some one missing, never mind he is taking the photo.

We burned a lot of rubber heading south out of Calgary on Highway 2 heading for our lunch stop at Fort MacLeod. I held the big Silverwing back and took up the rear riding position as I expected to have to stop and pick up Yamaha and Harley parts along the way.

Nanton was our first breather stop where we could stretch our legs, scratch our butts and take a picture of an airplane on a stick.

After crossing into Montana, which has some of the best motorcycle roads on earth, we stopped to load the bikes with cheap beer, gas and smokes.

We entered Waterton National Park from the eastern side, stopped and had another photo op, after paying the $12.00 entry fee. I must have intimidated the attendant at the gate as he over charged me outrageously and then had to refund me twice.
The first few miles of the park are rather tame, but a scenic ride none the less.

This stopping point over looking the lake is your first hint of what is to come.

Lots of curves and twister's along the way but the amount of traffic thru the park curtails any canyon carving.

The road that was first blasted thru the mountains in the thirties slowly descends along some sheer cliffs and even the local mountain goats get nervous.

Lots of bike traffic carving its way past the tunnels and waterfalls along the route. Even if you had the road to yourself you would be going slow gawking at the marvelous scenery.

Lots of little pull offs to take a peek over the edge and shoot some pics.

Had a little construction delay that only amounted to about 10 minutes. Had to curtail my nasty smoking habit as there was a fire ban on with a no smoking in the park policy and the cruiser behind us looked ready to enforce the law.

Even the construction stopping spots offer up a great view. They were rebuilding some of the retaining walls.

Logans Pass has to be one of the most scenic rides you will find anywhere, with deep gorges and towering mountains.

After the pass and a night in Kalispel, we headed west towards Libby and Bonners Ferry, Idaho where we consulted the map and looked for the most scenic route.

Great stopping spots along the Thompson Lakes region on Highway 2, Montana.

North of Newport Washington where we found a great little road that took us back up to Canada. Highway 41 north is not a very heavily used road but it was a surprise to us as what a great motorcycle road it turned out to be, if you get the chance check it out.

We wimped out when we made it to Fernie B.C. and stayed in a motel for the night rather than taking a camping spot. In the morning a photo op presented itself and we indulged.

After getting back into Canada the ride to Creston B.C. was another great motorcycle road.

Last day heading home we stopped for a break, some were reluctant to come this route through the Crowsnest Pass as the last time we were thru here in September we were stopped two days in a motel with no power because of an early snow storm. Thankfully this year there was no snow and we made it through.

Just short of Longview Alberta we stopped to suit up as it had been threatening to rain and the low dark clouds ahead had lots of rain in them. We ended up riding the last two hundred miles home in a steady down pour.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Motorcycle Route Planning

Another great tool for planning your motorcycle trips is Google maps.
It's a free service and here I am using it to plan out a five day trip down to Kalispel Montana, Coeur D'Alene Idaho and points beyond.
We may or may not follow the route as planned out but gives us a general idea of where we want to go and how to get there. It also has the the benefit of telling you the mileage and time involved in the journey.

The days of pouring over paper maps is over and one doesn't have to go out and buy the latest in GPS technology to find your way around the world.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Getting Ready to Ride

One of the better parts of going motorcycle camping is the anticipation and preparation before the ride.
Of course no one really likes packing but going by motorcycle presents a challenge of trying to get everything on two wheels that you may need after leaving home.

The Tank Bag

The tank bag, or man purse as I like to call it sometimes, is one of the neatest and most versatile pieces of luggage one can get for the bike. I only have a small one but find it handy for carrying lots of personal items such as gloves, sunglasses, camera, and various other knick-knacks as well as holding a map. I resisted for many years but after acquiring one I really like it.


Whether you have hard bags or soft bags, this is where most of your gear will go. As you can tell from the picture above I have mine crammed full of camping and cooking gear. I managed to squeeze in a lantern, cook stove, coffee pot, condiments, cutlery, fry pan, inflator mug, portable BBQ, and other handy little items.

Trunk and Rear Passenger Seat

The rear passenger seat for me will hold the most amount of gear, including tent, air mattress, camp chair, sleeping bag and clothes bag. Of course this is held all together with a stretchy and versatile cargo net that will hold anything and everything in place. If you ride two-up you will not have this option and have to load up your trunk or rear luggage rack.

In my small trunk I carry my rain suit, snap on visor, tool kit and a few other misc. items

Smaller is better when it comes to packing items for the back of your motorcycle and with a little practise and a few bungee cords you can tie on all the necessities that you will need.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Packing for Motorcycle Camping

Getting ready for a five day motorcycle/camping tour to Montana-Idaho and Washington state and it is time to pack the essentials.
One tool that I found to be most useful is the Motorcycle/camping list that can be custom made for yourself.
It is available from Micapeak a very good site for motorcycle enthusiasts, check it out and use this valuable tool to help you pack efficiently.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Very First Motorcycle

It only happens to you once in a lifetime, and that is the joy of owning your first motorcycle.

It happened for my friend Jayden today and I was quite happy he stopped to give me a look and without hesitation offered me a short test drive.
I was impressed with the little bike and it was surprisingly comfortable to drive, with an ample seat, automatic drive, and integrated front and rear brakes. The fat bob tires smooth out the ride as it has a rigid suspension with loads of fender clearance.
It is powered by a 196cc four stroke Honda clone engine, and has a rope start, chain drive, giant headlight and kill switch on the handlebars.
When Jayden arrived the engine was warm as I think he had been riding the back alleys ever since they got the new bike home.
There is already talk of some serious modifications, which would include a sissy bar, custom exhaust, and making the bike street legal.
I think I was in my mid thirties when I got my first bike but I remember my smile was just as broad as Jaydens is today.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Gravel Roads

Once in a while you will have the fortune, or misfortune, depending on how you look at it to travel down a gravel road with your motorcycle.
Gravel and street motorcycles are not that compatible but with a little common sense they can be navigated with ease.
Sometimes the only access to your destination is by gravel roads and you will not want to bypass it just because of a little gravel.
The best way to stay upright on a gravel road is to slow down take an ultra light grasp of the bars and let the front end of the motorcycle do its thing.
The loose stones on the road will jerk the front tire around and the worst thing you want to do is jerk back or try to man handle the steering. Usually you can follow in the tire tracks of the cars where the loose stones have been pushed to the side and all that is left is the packed base. It is when the tire tracks cross where you will ride over loose stones and your front tire will skip from side to side and this is where the loose hands on the steering comes in, let the front tire jump around a bit and it will correct itself.
Gravel road graders usually grade the road by bring the gravel, kicked off to the side, back to the middle of the road to form a crown. So riding close to the ditch will keep you out of the really loose stuff and some times all that is left on the sides is hard pack.
At any rate if you are out riding around with no destination try a little patch of gravel riding to practise just in case you find out that you have to challenge a gravel road some day.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Finally Got To Ride

After suffering through a couple of weeks of cold weather including a week of fresh snow I finally got the bike out for a ride.
It wasn't without some minor setbacks and repairs as I had to do the same as Broke Down Suzuki Rider and remove and clean my carbs.
I took the bike out for a small ride around town on Saturday and noticed there was fuel overflowing onto the ground. Sticky needle and seat on one of the carbs so Saturday I removed the carbs and cleaned them with some carb cleaner.
BDSR came over on Sunday afternoon and we took a little ride up to the Halkirk Hotel and enjoyed a cool beverage with the saloon owner and one of his faithful patrons.
Just a short little jaunt as the weather was still on the cool side but the bike ran great with no more fuel marking the ground.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Red Deer Motorcycle Swap Meet

It was a long and cold ride to the annual springtime Motorcycle swap meet in Red Deer this past Saturday. In fact it was so cold and miserable with a forecast of snow that I took the truck instead of the bike.
Not many bikes in the parking lot either and but a few local diehards did ride their cycles to the meet.
There was not as many bikes there as I thought there would be but I did spy a couple of nice choppers.
The place was packed with people by the time I got there and it was hard getting close to some of the tables to have a good look at all the chrome and leather for sale.
Lots of vendors with lots of nice stuff but as usual it was mostly Harley Davidson with a smattering of Asian and English bike stuff . As it turned out I never bought a thing at the swap meet even though I had filled my pockets with some cash.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Broke Down Suzuki Rider

Went with Basil, aka; Broke Down Suzuki Rider, to check out the work he was doing on his bike.

At the end of the riding season last year the old Suzuki had a little leak down in one of the outer cylinders and filled his crankcase with extra fluids.

Suspecting a malfunctioning float BDSR pulled the bank of carbs off and checked the faulty float.

Nothing major seemed to be wrong with the floater other than it and the other three carbs needed a good cleaning.

With the assistance of a Harley rider, whose repair kit contains a hammer and chisel, the cleaning project swung into full gear.

As can happen during minor repairs one of the float posts decided to break under light hammering which initiated a barrage of cuss words.

With the Handyman's Other Secret weapon, J-B Weld, a quick and tardy repair was needed.

I assisted the best I could considering I had to offer sage advice whilst drinking a beer.

But in due time and a couple of beers later the repair was completed and BDSR had the parts back on by the next morning and reports were that It actually sounded and ran better.

Good motorcycle mechanics are not born, they are trained while drinking beer.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Not Looking Good

I may be taking the truck to the upcoming swap meet this weekend as it looks like Mom Nature is still not done with dumping on us.
I got to the friendly neighbourhood Wal-Mart on the week-end and picked up a new battery for the bike and installed it. The little Wing was reluctant to start and only wanted to chug on one lung until I drained the carbs down and tried again. And then with a little more persuading it roared to life with a whimper.
I still haven't changed the oil, topped up the fluids or changed gear oil as one look at the weather makes me wonder what the heck is the point when the weather is going to turn extra crappy.
Will the spring weather ever come?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Upcoming Swap Meet

I look forward to this every year, usually lots of bikers and lots of bikers with tables selling biker stuff. How could you not love going to a motorcycle swap meet and browsing for hours.
I just hope the weather is decent so I can ride the motorcycle and not have to take the truck. On the other hand if I took the truck I could haul more biker stuff home.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Grinding My Gears

One thing that grinds my gears is motorcycle batteries.

No matter what kind of tender loving care you give them over the winter they always seem to let you down. You can tend them monthly over the winter months keeping them in a cool dry place and sending a small trickle charge into them to keep them topped up and fresh. But in the spring when you need them they are dead as a doorknob.

On the other hand friends who put their bike away for for the winter with nary a thought to their battery, dig them out in the spring and after a quick charge are on their way.

Seems like the meaner and nastier that you treat them the better they work.

Batteries!, you can't live with them and you can't ride without them.

Looks like I am going shopping.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Twiddling My Thumbs

Dragged the bike out of its winter storage last Saturday and started doing some of the prep work for the upcoming riding season.
Removed the seat and gas tank to access the radiator cap and topped off the coolant. Bike need a new battery this year so didn't get it started yet to warm up the oil and do an oil change.
One of the features of the old Silverwing is that I can have a passenger seat in place or the trunk. The past year I had the seat in place and used the trunk relocation kit but this year have changed the bike back into its solo seat configuration. I don't need the rear seat for extra storage space when I am pulling my cargo trailer but without the trailer it is a great place to put a duffel bag which can substitute as a back rest.
Saturday was a warm day and it felt good to get out and fiddle around with the bike but as it turned out the weather turned colder the next day and then snowed again.
The next few days are supposed to be warm enough to melt the remaining snow pack and my riding may resume by the end of the month.
The roads are clear enough to ride on but the alley behind the house is still full of ice and snow and the driveway is a mess of mud and ice. So my motorcycle and myself are still being held hostage by the elements.
No use being in a hurry can't do much till the snow and mud clears but at least I can go out to the shop and check things over and make sure everything is in order for the upcoming riding year.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

My Motorcyle History

Looking back at all the bikes I have owned there appears to be a common theme.
They have all been Honda's of early 80's vintage. And after owning nothing but Honda's I am a firm believer in Honda technology. The early bikes had crude engineering but in the early 80's they improved their technology to the point that many of these bikes are still on the road and running strong.

1975 Honda CB500T
First bike which I paid about $700 dollars for and it did not run very well as it strained to achieve a high speed of 60 MPH.

1981 Honda CB400T
Second bike I owned more up-to-date technology and a snappy little runner, more reliable, that banana seat was a butt buster.

1981 Honda CX500 Custom
I took a bare bones bike and made a small tourer out of it, adding fairing, radio, trunk and floorboards.

1980 Honda GL1100 Goldwing
The best of the bunch, added over $2,000. worth of chrome and extras and even pulled a small cargo trailer behind.

1982 Honda CB 900 Custom
What I bought after thinking the Goldwing was too big just to ride around town on.

1981 Honda GL500 Silverwing
My current ride after being out of biking for 12 years.

Not a very impressive list of bikes to be sure but all except the first were good reliable transportation. I put the most miles on the CX500 taking it cross country a couple of times without any major problems.
When I decided to get back into motorcycling a few years ago I was dismayed to find that I could not replace any of the old bikes for the same price I had disposed of them. They all had appreciated in value.
I may not be on the latest marvel of technology but at least I am out there on the road enjoying everything about the lifestyle of motorcycling.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Green Rider, Not Beer

Beer and biking don't seem to mix well as I found out when I was a green rider.

Before I became a motorcycle owner I had the opportunity to ride a friends bike as we had made a temporary trade as he needed four wheels for a bit and I got the chance to ride his bike.

The bike was a 500cc Suzuki, mid sixties vintage and was my first time up and solo on a motorcycle.

No electric starter just a kick starter to bring the Suzuki to life but one had to remember to first turn the ignition key to the on position before attempting to kick start it.
On one occasion of meeting some friends in the saloon and downing a few quarts, we all departed together and they lingered as I donned my helmet astride the big Suzuki. In a vain attempt of trying to show my worldliness of all things motorcycle, I started to kick the beast over.
I kicked and kicked and kicked some more to no avail, the bike would not roar to life. Burning, swearing and sweating out the beer as I kicked my friends looked slightly bemused and wondered if I knew what I was doing.
When I did figure out to turn the ignition key to the on position the warming glow of the beer had worn off to be replaced by deep feelings of stupidity. Bikes and beer do not mix.
Not having learned my lesson yet, on a later occasion I consumed large volumes of lager and with my intelligence level on overdrive I reasoned since it was only a few blocks home I could make it safely.
Being extra cautious and alert to the consequences that I would pay if stopped by the police I proceeded with caution, obeyed every rule of the road and made it back to my apartment parking spot safely.
As I pulled into the parking spot I was congratulating myself on a job well done and as I slowly came to a stop I only missed one small step in the proper operation of a two wheeled vehicle.
When I came to the stop I had forgotten to put my feet on the ground and over I went.
As I lay on the ground with the bike laying on my leg thoughts of stupidity once again entered my thoughts. I crawled out from under the bike, set it upright on its side stand and retired for the evening.
In the cold light of day the damage was not as bad as I thought and only had to replace the signal light and the handlebars, my attitude and intelligence on the other hand needed a major overhaul.
When I am out biking now I still stop on occasion for a beer, but just one, bikes and beer really do not mix that well.
Happy St Patricks Day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Can-Am Spyder-Roadster

The old joke goes that if Harley Davidson built a airplane, would you fly in it, well how about if Bombardier, who builds airplanes, built a bike would you ride it?

Bombardier under their Can-Am name is getting set to unleash their version of a street legal motorcycle which does not look like anything that is on the road at the moment.

My first impression of the hybrid motorcycle/trike/ATV is that it looked like a snowmobile on wheels, a backward trike, or some kind of fancy garden tractor, but it is quite striking in appearance and upon closer examination it does contain some high tech engineering

Rotax 990 V-Twin Liquid-Cooled with Double Overhead Cams. Providing life under the hood is a Rotax 998cc, V-twin liquid cooled engine. It delivers a strong push and responsive acceleration throughout the power band, with 106 peak horsepower and a peak torque of 77 foot-pounds. Advanced features include double overhead cams and a state-of-the-art electronic fuel management system which provides precise throttle response, crisp acceleration, and reliable engine starting while complying with stringent environmental regulations Technology

The MSRP will start at $ US 14,999 in the United States and $CA 18,499 in Canada. European prices will be communicated at a later date.

It is probably going to be a classic case of a face [style] that only an owner could love. You can find more information, technical data and a slick little video about the Spyder-Roadster at the Bombardier website.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

March Motorcycle Madness

The picture above shows how close I am to the riding season. It will be another two weeks of melting before it will be safe enough to go out on the roads here in Alberta. While others in warmer climes are already out and riding all I can do is move some snow in the hopes of moving my bike out of storage and into the shop for its spring tune-up and oil change.
This is the part of the year I dislike the most and envy the riders who keep their bike in their living rooms. I could have had all the spring work and cleaning done on the bike and be raring to go when the streets were safe but I have to wait.
I hate the month of March.
It comes along every year showing promise of the spring to come and tempts us northern riders with some sunny warm days and the start of the snow melt. But it just don't melt fast enough.
Sure the days get longer and the melting begins but just when our hopes are lifted into thinking of an early spring, winter will come roaring back to kick us in the pants.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Don't Twist My Throttle

It sure seems funny to me that owners, of Harley Davidson motorcycles who seem to suffer at the hands of their mechanics the most, are the first to taunt the riders of Asian made motorcycles with "Jap Crap".

Every year I take a glance at the tires, check the fluid levels, charge the battery and I am off and riding. No parts shimmy and shake off, no puddles of icky black fluids appear under the machine, just smooth rides with quick throttle response and a trouble free ride.
Often times when I take off on a road trip with my 26 year old Honda I will pass unfortunate Harley riders who are stopped beside the road peering vainly into the bowels of their V-twin engine.
Don't get me wrong, I think Harley Davidson makes wonderful machines, they just haven't got it down to a science yet like the Asians. Harleys make a wonderful bike with a wonderfull throaty sound, until they poke the guts out of their mufflers with a crow bar, the chrome, leather and finish look good until they start adding oodles of tassels and studs, the riders dress in everything branded with the HD logo including their underwear, but for the love of mechanics could they please get that thing to stop trying to shake itself to bits.
Apparently the V-twin configuration of their engines that makes that distinctive and lovely sound is what sets up the un-godly vibrations that rattle teeth, bone and sends parts scurrying off to the road below.
Another thing that chaffs me in a literal way is that when I buy a bike I am not trying to buy a lifestyle. Being perceived as a non-conforming bad-ass biker while dressing like I belong to an exclusive club of boomers is silly. I already have a conformist lifestyle and like to travel with reliable transportation under my butt.
All bikes have some faults or shortcomings but while Harley riders are waiting at the dealerships for their repairs, us Jap crappers will be putting on the miles and doing some trouble free riding.
Feel free to pile on or defend your ride in the comments below, but please no profanity.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Korean Motorcycle Invasion

The Koreans more than the Chinese are making faster inroads to the American market with the Hyosung 650cc models that rival or try to duplicate existing models. Like they did in the auto market they are bringing in bikes way under the market value.

The GT650R is comparable in looks and performance to other sport bikes in its class yet comes with a price tag that may entice more entry level riders by its price.
The GV650 resembles Harley's V-Rod but can be had for 1/3 the price.
The GT650 is the cheapest of the lot.

To see some of these bikes in action you can go to;
Hyosung Videos

to read some reviews of riders who have bought these bikes go to;

Hyosung Reviews

By my way of thinking the introduction of new models by the Koreans and later by the Chinese should open up the market and inject a little more competition into the motorcycle market. More bikes means more choice and better pricing for first time buyers. Of course with all new entrants into the motorcycle markets the reliability of the bikes and the ability to get replacement parts and service may be dubious for awhile.