A Somewhat Neglected Piece of Gear

I’m a pretty big fan of protective motorcycle gear. I’m pretty close to ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time) and I have handed this philosophy to my friend and brother who both started riding in the last couple of years. While they pretty much picked up all of their gear themselves (or borrowed a bit of mine for a while), there was one piece that I ended up buying both of them. It isn’t protective, but huge for comfort.

The humble Neck Gaiter is possibly the most under appreciated piece of gear.

It’s so important in keeping me comfortable in the mornings that I can’t imagine surviving the cold with out it. In addition a light weight one is worn at all times to prevent any chaffing from my helmet strap and also is good a keeping my long hair (I’m one of those guys) from getting lose and horribly tangled in the wind.

They aren’t great for making fashion statements, I look like an idiot ninja when getting ready to put my helmet on. However, the utility of them is well worth the damage I do to my normally very fashionable look.

I’m too vain anyway…

Uncool Morning


Posted in Gear, motorcycle, Motorcycles | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

The Long Way Home is Broken

On Fridays (and any other day I can manage) I like to leave work a little early and take the extra time to take the long way home. It is a great way to end the week and a fantastic start to the weekend. I’ve written ad nauseam about my long way home ride so I won’t say anything more about the specifics of the route. Except to note that it uses Hwy 35 aka Skyline Rd.

I'd hate me too if I knew this was how I rode home.

I’d hate me too if I knew this was how I rode home.

Now the “Long Way Home” is broken. The last two Fridays I’ve taken it home and there has been construction. The first time I just took an alternate route since I was already running late. The second I waited for the pilot car and completed it, but the road is gravely and the wait for the pilot car is long. Making it not the best fun route home right now. I’m really happy that they are repaving Highway 35. Yay!  It is definitely past time for this to be done.

The crappy thing is that my long way home sucks until they finish. Boo!

Sadly it looks like it might be another couple of weeks or more until they are completely finished. Which means the number of times I’ll be able to enjoy my long way home before the rains come might be over for the year.

Hopefully they do a good job and it will mean even more glorious riding in the spring of next year.


Posted in Life, Motocycling, Riding | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

New Phone: So Many Accesories

I decided to finally replace my aging iPhone 4s. The lure of newer faster phone, a much better camera and much more memory was too much to ignore. There was much deliberation as to what phone to get to replace it with and I won’t bore you with the hows and why (or even what phone I chose.) The crux of the matter is that I was somewhat surprised by how many accessories I needed to get so that my motorcycling with the phone remained relatively unchanged.

To start I have become used to having my phone on my bars, so I can easily check directions from the gps, adjust the volume of my music, and much to the dismay to some read the occasional text message. The last phone mount I used was phone specific, obviously this doesn’t work for the long term, or at least not for the very long term since I will probably replace my phone in the next five years at least once. To this end I picked up a RAM mount which was recoomened to me by a reader and comes highly rated elsewhere.

Works good so far.

Works good so far.

I also needed a new case. I decided to break from my well loved and used Lifeproof case and try an Otterbox for a while. It was a bit cheaper and I thought I would give it a try and see what I think. I suspect the lack of waterproofing will send me back into the arms of Lifeproof, but they don’t make one for my phone yet so we’ll see how the Otterbox holds up until then.

Not as hardy as the Lifeproof, but hopefully will do as well as protecting it from me...

Not as hardy as the Lifeproof, but hopefully will do as well as protecting it from me…

After all that I thought I was done. Until I left go ride home that evening, and realized that I would need a charging cable for the bike. So I went back and picked up another braided rope heavy duty cable, since it seemed to be holding up well so far.

Quite a process, so many things for what was already a tough decision. At least next time the Ram Mount should not need replacing.

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Five Years: I Need a New Helmet

It’s been five years since I was sitting on the side of the road, unable to walk, and wondering what the hell did I do to BMW to deserve this.

It was September 30th 2010 and I had just had the worst crash of my life. Not that I thought of it that way for years, though I knew it wasn’t good.

However, I bring this up now not only to mark the anniversary, but also to note that I need to start looking at new helmets. My Arai Profile is now 5 years old and that is what all motorcycle helmet makers say is the shelf life of the foam that keeps your noggin safe should the worst happen.

This is a bigger milestone for me in someways, I have worn a helmet out. All my previous lids have been retired due to forcible contact with the road. having to get a new one because it got old is just… weird.

Good though, and I don’t want to jinx myself but it means I haven’t crashed in five years!

Let’s hope that I can keep that up and go another helmet (or 20) with out crashing.

Old Arai Front Old Arai Helmet

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Shure Headphone Update

I was replacing the foam sleeves on my Shure SE215 headphones the other day and was once again reminded of how much I like them. Just a little maintenance and they are nearly like new again. I probably should have changed the foamy things sooner since the (sorry this is gross) earwax had build up to a point that I couldn’t clean it easily and it was effecting the sound.

This is typically the way I find out that I need to clean them, I end up having to listen to my music at a higher volume than normal. When that happens I know it’s time. Each set of foam sleeves normally last a little over half a year. I can clean them a couple of times before they just need to be replaced.

Since I go through a couple of pairs of sleeves a year I can only imagine what the would cost me if I was buying new headphones instead. It is much easier to replace them!

I also need to look at replacing is the cord. Which thankfully is also a separate piece (thank you Shure). The wire that holds it behind your ear has poked through the rubber at one end, and occasionally pokes me, I can and have been pushing it back in for a few months, but it is getting to the point that after 3 years I think I can justify buying a new cord.

The top one is with the wire sticking out, the bottom after I pushed it in.

The top one is with the wire sticking out, the bottom after I pushed it in.

I’ve been using Shure headphones for over 8 years, I don’t imagine I’ll be switching anytime soon.

Posted in Gear, Life, Riding | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Getting My Brother Up to Speed

Well my brother is out there zipping around on his motorcycle.

I thought I rode a lot… my brother is putting my mile count to shame. He’s already got 3000 miles under his belt and only had the bike for a month.

I’ve done a bit of riding with him, every morning we ride to work together and we have spent a couple of Sunday mornings puttering around the back roads. I hope to get him into the twisties soon now that he has brakes that stop the bike better and to expand his horizons a bit more.

Good view from Skyline.

Good view from Skyline.

It’s been fun, and despite the fact that I have been trying to make sure I warn him about things before he encounters them. I’ve only been partially sucessful with this. He ended up riding home in a heavy fog and had nothing good to say about that experience. He also has had his fair share of heavy traffic which when you’re new and not comfortable with lane sharing can be very unpleasant.

Over all he’s doing good and I look forward to getting him out for more weekend rides before the good weather ends.

Posted in Life, Motocycling, New Rider | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Changing Gears: Longer lasting Chain?

I’ve been riding everything in the garage the last couple of weeks. When I went down to pick up the ST2 after having its charging issues fixed I dropped off my FrankenMonster to see about an annoying oil leak from my cam belt covers. It was not leaking a lot, but enough that it was dripping on to my exhaust which was making quite a bit of smoke. It is embarrassing to sit at a stoplight with smoke pouring off your bike and pretending like you don’t notice…

While it was in there I decided to have them put on a new chain. After talking to Mike for a bit about it he suggested putting a heavier chain on it and see if we could get more miles out of it. (I’m notoriously hard on chains) Since we were replacing the sprockets at the same time this was a good time to do the swap as it required a different sized front sprocket to fit. The end result is that I have different gearing now, it is not a lot different, but it is not exactly the same.

Looks so nice and clean. Sprokets are lighter weight... cause I need to be lighter and faster?

Looks so nice and clean. The sprockets are lighter weight… cause I need to be lighter and faster?

The side effect of the change is that I’m now more tempted to ride a little faster (don’t tell my mom)… since the new gearing means that 5250 rpm is 75 mph instead of 72 mph. This may seem crazy, but below 5000 rpm on the freeway the engine is just not happy, it tends lug just slightly and lacks the immediate torque I need to accelerate easily. So just a little above 5k is my happy zone, enough that I don’t immediately fall below 5k if I run into a head wind or go up a hill.

It is not the end of the world, I’m still nowhere near the fastest person on my commute to and from work so I suspect I’ll be fine. It will be interesting to see how all this effects my gas mileage though.

The main thing to focus on is to really try and get the most life and miles out of this chain. I need to be much better about maintenance. I hope that this will be easier now that I have space to work on the bike.

Posted in FrankenMonster 695, motorcycle, Motorcycles | Tagged , , | 9 Comments