Why Nova Scotia?

Why not Nova Scotia might be the better question. It's one of those exotic sounding places that I've never been to and that's reason enough for me. I plan on leaving around the 8th of May and spending several weeks on the ride. Along the way I'll be camping out, visiting unsuspecting friends , and maybe getting to ride along with them for awhile. Let me know if you're up to either!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Mar 20 - More Farkles! The Fanza Tank-set arrives

After my recent enlightenment regarding notebook PC’s and their dislike for high-strength magnetic fields I began researching strap-on tank bags. Naturally this came right on the heels of receiving a new tank bag complete with magnetic mounts… Duh… As it turned out it had a tendency to take on water but only in the most severe rainstorms so it was probably for the best.

I often refer to equipment test reports published by WebBikeWorld http://www.webbikeworld.com/motorcycle-luggage/famsa-260/ and it was there I first became aware of an interesting product made by the Italian firm FAMSA. They make a tank bag set that’s integrated with removable tank panniers, which means you can carry even more stuff than you can imagine! Another great feature is the tank bag itself is zipper mounted on the base that’s strapped to the tank. What this means is when it’s time to refuel you simply unzip one side of the bag, flip it over to the side, and the fuel filler is accessible through a trimmed cutout. What a deal! The bases are made for a variety of bikes plus one that’s a universal fits-all model so it’s a rare beast that can’t be accommodated.

As it happened the WebBikeWorld article was on the Kawasaki Versys which shares a lot of design features with my Ninja 650R. Reading and r e-reading the report a dozen times convinced me it would be a simple matter to adapt the same set to my bike. After surfing around for dealers I got in touch with Peter Harris, owner of HelmetHead Cycle Gear out of Atlanta. http://www.helmetheadcyclegear.com/ Peter proved to be very knowledgeable on the subject of FAMSA’s equipment so off went the order and in just a few days it arrived.

I figured the installation might require some extensive modifications to the mounting system supplied by FAMSA but in actuality it didn’t. The 1” strap that goes around the frame head was short by a couple of inches and easily replaced by spare strapping I had laying around. I also used a 1” strap from REI to secure the pannier’s front mounts to each other via the front of the fairing.

I did encounter one minor issue; the zipper starter tab on the left pannier had been sewn over in the manufacturing process. This prevented it from working and since I know squat about sewing it was off to see my bud Norris the Tailor in Bandon. He took at least 30 seconds figuring out what was wrong and then another 30 seconds to fix it. All told the entire installation took less than an hour (minus the run to Norris the Tailor) and I think the results look pretty good.

Once finished I went for a fully loaded test ride down to Port Orford to see how things handled. My knees barely touch the panniers so that’s no bother at all. Because they shield my legs from the wind I could feel the heat coming off the engine a bit more and on a cool day it was most welcome. What that will be like in the hotter regions of the country may be another matter but I don’t think it will cause any discomfort. Anyway the bike handles great and that means a safer ride.

BTW, did I mention that Chance our Collie failed to show up as the supervisor for this job? Evidently sleeping in the bushes was more interesting so Daisy our Aussie Shepherd filled in. It’s nice being supervised. Makes a body feel sorta....uh....sheepish?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mar 11 - The new GIVI Bags are here!

Some of you may recall an earlier post in which I conducted a real-life exercise to determine the water resistance of my saddle bags & tank bag. All of it failed miserably and being desirous of dry clothing, sleeping bag, etc., I decided to bite the bullet and invest in some decent gear. Enter GIVI, the folks who made the hard case panniers & top box on the Aprilia-Sputnik sidecar I rode to Alaska last summer. None of them had leaked a drop and since they make a nifty system for the Ninja I skimmed off yet another chunk of my children's diminishing inheritance and ordered up a set.

They arrived yesterday afternoon so I beavered away till the wee hours of the morning installing the brackets and relocating the turn signals to their new mounts. This would have been an easy task but of course the original wiring was too short on one side so out came the soldering equipment, etc. I like the way it turned out and only one minor problem has turned up, namely one of the side case locks has lost it's retaining clip. This is not a huge deal and as soon as the repair part arrives it will be a simple matter to fix.

The new setup looked so nice I was inspired to give the beast a thorough washing, something it hasn't had for quite awhile. When that was finished I took a short ride to see how the new weight might affect handling and although there is a subtle difference it's very slight. Chance, our collie spent a great deal of time getting between me and the bike as he tends to be jealous about anything that gets more attention than him. Like he's so neglected. Eh?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Mar 8 - Cold wet ride to Gold Beach & Brookings

Today was our monthly Bikers breakfast get together in Brookings so off I went, all bundled up in my red one-piece 'stich, electric vest, & waterproof winter gloves. This was the first day of Daylight Savings which meant my starting time of 7:00am was really 06:00am, still dark in my part of the world. Whenever it's raining & 38 degrees out it seems more like a winter morning rather than spring. Makes a body want to stay in bed, eh?

On the way south through Gold Beach the rain paused a few minutes so I stopped for a stretch and shot a couple of pics along the harbor. I love the bridge across the bay, they don't seem to build them with that architectural style any longer, probably too costly these days. Most all coastal harbors have their share of sunken or abandoned ships and Gold Beach is no exception. There's one close to Jerry's Rogue Jets, a popular tourist attraction that runs wide-eyed folks up and down the Rogue river. At that hour I was definitely the only tourist there.

Our turn out for breakfast was on the low side, barely a dozen or so hearty souls most of whom drove instead of riding. Blame it on gnarly weather or higher intellects, which ever works. I rode per usual as did Susan, one of the regulars. Unless she's off to Alaska or on some other adventurous ride she shows up, rain or shine. Our group is very diversified, some cruisers, some adventure riders, and a scattering of sports riders.

After the feeding frenzy ended it was back out into the familiar rain heading north towards Bandon and home. As I started across the bridge in Gold Beach it began to hail like nobodies business and I figured I was really in for it. Luckily it only lasted a few miles and then settled down into more miserable rain accompanied by wind gusts. Ugh, I don't like riding in hail.

Drifting through Langlois I paused again for another photo op, this time to record for all posterity the Greasy Spoon Cafe. Hey why not, how many more years has that puppy got? They're closed on Sundays so no inside shots but the I've eaten there (once) and I can honestly say it's, er, uh, different? The lady who runs the place is very nice and the locals who stop by for lunch are laid back and friendly. If you're in the area around noon maybe you should pop in for a burger or chowder? Places like the Greasy Spoon are fast disappearing from the American landscape and in a few more years many of them won't be around.

That's it, all done for today, I got home around 11:30am cold but not too wet thanks to the gear I wore. My email informs me the new volt meter for the bike is on it's way from the UK and should arrive early next week so I can start on another mini project. Yippee...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mar 4 - So many maps, so little time

A few days ago I realized nearly all of my maps were so outdated Lewis & Clark could have used them. So, being a long-time member of the auto club, aka AAA, I ordered up a whole slug of them to use on my jaunt. When they arrived I was stunned at how many there were but then I remembered where I was going. I'd started a trip planner on the AAA web site but my ISP was in one of it's snail modes so I'd given up on it and placed the order. Now I have no excuse, it's time to get serious about establishing a general direction of travel. Like maybe east for instance? Or how about south? Yeah, I like south, that's where I'll go, and then east for awhile, and then maybe north? Did you know if you go far enough north and then a little ways east it becomes "nort"? What is that anyway, Canadian? Eh? Eh?

Odd...film at eleven...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mar 1 – The Great Rain Gear Operational Test #1

On my ride to Alaska last year I discovered the hard way that my new Rev’It outfit wasn’t exactly the best rain gear around. During the first day in a really hard downpour I got totally soaked within an hour and needless to say I wasn’t a happy camper when I had to buy a rain suit to wear over my rain gear. From Wal-Mart no less… When I got home I ordered up a bottle each of NixWax Tech Wash and NixWax TX Direct Wash-In water proofing treatment and ran the Rev’It outfit through the works. It seems to have helped as today I really put it through the acid test riding nearly 100 miles through a very tough rain storm. Some water got through but compared to the Alaska boondoggle it would probably be an acceptable amount. It’s still far from perfect though and as I write this the entire outfit is disassembled and hanging all over the house drying.

I’m now curious to see how well my old leathers used together with a separate rain suit will fare. That’s what I wore on my first ride to Alaska 3 years ago and unless my memory is totally shot it worked better than the Rev’It outfit. The main reason I bought the Rev’It was for the flexibility it offered; a removable rain liner and a removable winter liner after which removed left a light weight shell with zippered vents to be opened in hot weather. All of this constructed from the latest high-tech fabrics that promised to deliver the best performance in any kind of weather. Maybe the Rev’It people haven’t had to deal with hard driving rain storms? If it’s still pouring down tomorrow I’ll suit up in the cow hide costume and have another go at it.

You can see by the photos I was carrying a full load of gear, pretty much the same as I’ll be taking on the run to Nova Scotia. I wanted to see how the bike handled with everything on board plus I wanted to see how water resistant the bags were. I’d sprayed them with silicone based water repellant carefully following the manufacturer’s instructions and hoped they would magically become water proof. Not. It looks like I had it right 3 years ago when I covered everything with the manufacturer’s plastic rain covers. Those work fine but they tend to come apart after a couple of weeks unless you ride around 40 mph. Not even I can ride that slowly.