Archive for June, 2003

Gear Review: Chase Harper 650 Tank bag

The Daytona doesn't have a steel tank, so I can't go with the oh so convienent magnetic tank bags. If I was just using it for storage, I could probably live with a tail pack. But a key feature for me is the clear map pocket, right where I need it.

I looked at many different bags before I finally decided on the Chase Harper 650. I had to have the map pocket, and it couldn't be too big. The 650 meets these criteria, and adds a hydration system.

I was really impressed by the construction when it arrived. Quality zippers and stiching were clearly evident. Spacewise, it's just right, any bigger and it wouldn't have fit the Daytona right. I haven't tried the water bottle yet, but it sure seems handy. I've used them before with success while mountain biking.

Gear Review: Skyking bar risers

In preparation for my upcoming cross-country road trip, I've been doing whatever I can to improve the ergonomics of my Daytona. For less than 200 mile rides, I can put up with some pretty agressive ergonomics. The Daytona in stock form while agressive, is still remarkably comfortable. However, the highway has a way of highlighting any ergo shortcomings. The reach to the bars was just enough, that I could tell the shoulder on my throttle hand would start to complain after a few hours on the super-slab.

Skyking again provides a solution: bar risers. These replace the stock clip-ons, thereby raising the bars by 1.75″ and angling them up a bit too. When I took them out of the box, I a bit concerned about their asthetic impact on the bike. They are substantially bigger/squarer than the stock clip-ons. However once installed, and festooned with grips, levers, and assorted wiring, they blended in nicely. (Oh yeah, installation was easy… about 30 minutes start to finish.)

Around town and on the highway is where the bars really make a difference. They just make the bike fit better. I'm able to sit a little more upright, without having to rotate my shoulder forward. There are some drawbacks though… at full lock the bars get very close to the windscreen… you need to move your grip towards the end of the bars to keep your knucles from touching. About the only time you'll see full lock (hopefully) is at 2mph or less, so it's not that big of a deal. In the twisties, I've found the turn-in to be a little slower. I think this is because the bars shift my weight back just a bit. Or maybe it's because my weight is no longer assisting my steering inputs. Either way, I think by adjusting the forks in the triple clamp, for a slightly steeper steering angle, I can tune in a little faster steering.

The full-lock issue, and the wimpy feeling of making a modification for comfort's sake are the only things keeping me from being 100% happy with the change. My rational side tells me that I'll log way more saddle time thanks to a more comfortable ride, and ulitmately that's what it's all about. My Mountain Dew side, says “more extreme = better, dude.” Although, I'm sure after a 10 hour day, my Mnt Dew side will be perfectly happy with the change.

Gear Review: Skyking Double Bubble Windscreen

I purchased a light smoke double bubble windscreen from SkyKing Products for my 1999 Triumph Daytona. The point of the double bubble is to give some additional wind protection… the extra “bubble” adds about an additional 1″ of windscreen height and significantly cleans up the resulting air flow.

If you look closely you can see the difference compared with the dark smoke Zero Gravity windscreen it replaced. I really like the light smoke color… it's the perfect shade.

Even better is the resulting air flow. I find it is significantly cleaner at highway speeds. And while I didn't really speed test the original screen, I found the protection of the double bubble to be excellent up to 140mph.

This was an excellent, no drawbacks upgrade for me. John King the proprietor of Skyking products, was nice to deal with on the phone too.

Protect your liquid assets

That was the tag line on a sticker I saw at Microsoft. It was affixed to one of the many coolers supplying free drinks for the workers. It stated that these were an employee benefit, and should be used while at work (i.e. don't take supply your home with free beverages.)

The interesting bit, was that it stated the cost of the free drink program at over $8 Million per year!

First news from the trenches

Interesting tidbits from the .NET Advisory Council meeting re: Whidbey

In: VB.NET edit & continue
In: slick generic/delegates/anonymous member functionality in C#
Out: NT4 and Win95,ME client support (still in win98)

Wow. No NT4 support at all. Ballsy.

bodily functions

32oz of Coca-Cola at TGI Fridays: $1.89
12oz of water on plane: Free
12oz of Coca-Cola on plane: Free
Finally using hotel bathroom 6 hours later: Priceless.

Feeling unAmerican

I made the mistake of picking up _Fast Food Nation_ at on of the airport bookstores to read on the flight. I had heard enough about it from my friends, that I knew what I was in for. I'm only a few chapters in, and I didn't count on the hateful synergy that would be unleashed reading this book on a plane.

With the exception of sharing a row with normal human sized passengers, it's the proverbial bad flight. It goes without saying, that I'm stuck in the middle seat. (I really should refuse to fly for business unless I book my own travel.) Multiple loud babies, not crying/wailing babies, just ones that like to hear themselves… You'd think the parents might try to discourage this behavior, but I've seen no signs such efforts. Where is that wonderful Korean woman from the _MASH_ finale when you need her? Adding to the fun are the stereotypical bitchy wife and husband immediately behind me. She keeps complaining about the children and her husband lacks the ability to talk softly. Somethings irratating my sinuses and causing my nose to run… without a napkin or tissue in sight.

Anyway, I'm being exposed to the worst of my fellow humans, and then reading about how at least to some degree they got that way. I'd like to think I'm different, that at least I'm immune to the same mass marketing. But what if that's exactly what they want me to think… I'm in some kind of ounter culture marketing demographic. Argh!

At least I think I'm safe on cars, Alfa hasn't sold a car here in 8 years (and probably wont for at least another 5.) But that satellite dish on the side of our house might as well be the mark of the Devil. At least with Tivo, I can avoid the bulk of commercials and for the most part watch what I want to watch. But I think of the time I spend in front of it, and it makes me sick. Like a mythical Siren it lures me onto my own comfy (rocks from the Odessey) a Pottery Barn couch. Laying on the couch, with wifi enabled laptop, I piss away my evenings… a good part of my weekends too. I often get the feeling that we don't do as much as we used to… probably because it's a fact.

On the other hand, I don't believe in a higher purpose, a meaning of life, or that there is some guy in the sky keeping score. I think this forces me to not only be resposible for my actions, but to be responsible for how I evalutate them. I have to admit, pissing away my life is feeling pretty good (so far.)

Internet and Chicken Patties

I'm rapidly reaching internet saturation. Repeatedly polling Slashdot, FARK, Plastic, and Metafilter just isn't entertaining me any more. I started actually participating more in the last month or two on motorcycle newsgroups, and that's just making it worse. I'm online more and more, and I'm less and less satisfied. I'm getting so bored…

I noticed a similar phenomenon about 17 years ago, with chicken patties. I loved them. I could never get enough of them… my mom never seemed to buy enough. One day my mom found them on sale and stocked up on them… at almost the same time, a bit was flipped, and I started hating chicken patties. In the ensuing 17 years, I've never had another. I can't even smell them… what the hell was I thinking.

I don't think I'll ever kick the Internet habit, but occasionally getting sick of it wouldn't be so bad. The Tivo certainly took most of the fun out of watching the Simpsons…

False Economy

I rarely need to shave (my face) but when I do, I like to have a fresh razor. I thought it would make sense since deb really didn't care that we used the same type of razor, a Gillette Sensor Excel. I got her one with a gray handle, and a black one for myself. Problem is, Deb doesn't see the distinction… then I go to shave and it's like shaving with a hacksaw.

Last week I got a Mach III Turbo in the mail. I can't really tell that it's any better, but it's obviously different from our other razors. Now maybe I can pick up my razor without worry. If not, I've always wanted to have a real straight razor. With the way I shake, that could be interesting.

Roadtrip reminder, check weather report

Well I've got something to blog about today…

Mapped out trip, assembled gear, adjusted chain, checked air pressure/oil/coolant… ready to go.

Almost. I forgot to check the weather.

I made it to Bridgeville, and started heading out 50W in nice summer weather. After about 5 miles I noticed some darkening clouds on the horizon. I knew I'd be heading south soon, so I decided to keep going. Another 5 miles and things were starting to look pretty shity, but I was nearing the turn. A few more miles, I decided to pull over and call my wife for a weather update.

No sooner had I turned off the bike, when the wind hit. I saw sparks fly off the overhead powerlines as the wind continued to build. Probably 50mph+

I didn't bother calling, and turned tail, and tried to out run the storm. No luck there… it was moving really fast, and I rode into a scene from twister. There was debris all over the place. Branches were just sliding across the road. As I pressed on I saw a huge tree get ripped in half as I drove past. It still wasn't raining yet, but I could tell it was coming. I was just hoping to get out ahead of it.

I couldn't believe it as the wind got worse… I was looking for some shelter, a barn maybe. I saw one up ahead, but also saw a big pile of shit on the road. It was a giant piece of the barn roof. As I threaded my way past, I saw another huge chunk peel off and fly across the road behind me. No shelter there.

I was staying even with the front, and made it back to Bridgeville. Of course I didn't fuel up on the way out, and I was now really low. As I stopped to tank up, the rain hit. I still hoped I could out run it, and got out on I79. Holy shit… I was getting blown all over my lane, and the rain became torential. I made it as far as Carnegie, when I decided I had pressed my luck far enough. I found a bank drive through and waited out the worst of the storm. After a half hour wait, and another 20 minutes of riding I was home, totally soaked and getting pretty chilly.

I felt bad flogging the Triumph in the rain, but it really handled it well. I can't be happier with how it has performed so far. After a few tweaks, the suspension really inspires a lot of confidence. No regrets on this purchase.

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