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!


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Apr 8 – The Tale of The Big Fatfoot

One of the issues I encountered on my first ride to Alaska in 2006 was all about balance. The bike’s, not mine, although I do tend to wobble about from time to time. Generally that has more to do with the quantity of Big Red I’ve consumed with dinner than anything else, but I digress. Getting back to the bike and the Alaska thing what happened is this: I’d stopped for the day to set up shop at a great campground aptly named Dawson Peaks Resort. My campsite was laid out on sandy soil and after parking the bike I waited for a couple of moments to be sure the kickstand wasn’t going to sink in. It seemed OK so I did the usual camp thing with Big Red and crashed for the evening.

Early next morning I awoke to loud snuffling noises outside my tent which turned out to be a couple of bears checking out food ops. My best blood-curdling shriek sufficed to drive them away and probably woke the entire camp but so what? Except for one other tent everyone else was locked up in their RV’s and posed unlikely prospects for bear breakfast. After the bruins departed I gathered myself up and crawled out of the tent to greet the day and make breakfast.

It was at that moment I noticed the bike leaning over at what seemed a precarious angle, like it would topple over any moment. Not having anything to slip under the kickstand I settled for a rock and more or less shoved it under the foot. Sound familiar? Stepping back to admire my handiwork I allowed that it would suffice and resumed my breakfast preparations. The ensuing noise was exactly what I didn’t want to hear; turning too late I saw the bike laying on the opposite side of it’s kickstand. Apparently I’d used a rock big enough to allow the bike to do a high-side while standing still, no simple task. I won’t continue with what followed, suffice it to say it involved a lot of blue air accompanied by loud grunting noises one makes during the “pick up your bike dummy” process.

All of which brings us up to today’s world and preparations for the ride to Nova Scotia. Since the Alaska trip I’d discovered a number of products designed to prevent just such a topple-over. Namely there are hundreds of cute little designer plates made to slip under your kickstand of which I currently own several. One of them actually has a vivid red flag on a line that you hook to your handlebars as a reminder to not ride off without storing it first. Nice idea.

Then not so long ago I hatched the bright idea of fabricating a really big plate to attach to the kickstand’s foot, sort of a permanent fixture guaranteed to eliminate the sinking-into-the-terra-firma problem. What a genius I am at times. Fortunately over the years I’ve learned that whenever I come up with what seems a truly brilliant idea I’ve only to check around and there it is, in full production by at least 20 companies. Enter Ernie Bell of Dakota, MN and the product he calls the Fatfoot. He doesn’t actually make one specifically for the Ninja 650R but he does make one for Kawasaki’s Versys, a model that shares a lot of design features with the Ninja. Ernie is one of those guys who not only makes cool stuff for bikes but he’s also an experienced biker and understands what it takes to be a good manufacturer.

Here’s the email letter that he replied to my initial inquiry with, you can see by it he’s a responsible business person who cares about his customers:

From: Ernie Bell
To: larrylarry75@ficticious.net
Sent: Friday, March 27, 2009 7:41 PM

Subject: RE: Need Fatfoot Kickstand

Hi Larry, I can't say that I've sold a Versys fatfoot to a Ninja owner yet. I looked at your picture and I must admit that it does look just like the Versys sidestand. Cost with shipping included is $40.00. You can drop me a check in the mail at: Ernie Bell 965 Main street, Dakota Mn 55925. I have them on hand and can ship it out right away when the check arrives. If it doesn’t fit you can send it back and I'll refund your money minus the shipping. Thanks. Ernie 507-643-8888


After receiving Ernie's email I posted my check for $40 and awaited the arrival of the Fatfoot. It came in just a few days later and yesterday I did the install. It was actually quite simple, involved drilling one hole and then clamping the device to the kickstand. It looks to be very substantial in construction and I expect I’d have to park in a swamp to sink it. As a test I parked on our lawn when it was very soggy. I can guarantee without the Fatfoot the bike would have fallen over.

Now the question is do I paint it or leave it as is? Anyway it’s a nice product, thanks Ernie!

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