May 31, 2012

Three Little Words

First off, I thoroughly enjoy my Sportster, and I am not ready to let go of it just yet. However, with my hooligan streak out of the closet, I have been working my CFO to approve the change to a two-motorcycle policy.

Decision is still pending but meanwhile didn’t deter me from peeking at a variety of naked bikes in the mid-displacement: Gladius, FZ8, ER-6n, Street Triple, F800R and Shiver, Monster and out of competition the Duc Streetfighter.

While the inclined testosterone driven potential buyer would evaluate speed, torque, rpm, horsepower and the likes, I was looking for the right ergonomics, handling, and weight.

I am not the biggest fan of chain driven motorcycles (The Harley has a belt, one reason I opted for that model at time of purchase.) but I will have to make do, because there is neither a belt driven nor a shaft driven two-wheeler in that class to begin with.

The winner in the category 'most economical' would certainly be the Suzuki SFV650 Gladius, which is also the baby in that category. The Gladius was high on my list back when I lived in Calgary, and I really liked it ok, just never enough to make a purchase.

I haven't found a Yamaha FZ8 on display, but I didn't look hard either. The Kawasaki ER-6n although nice seating position and extremely well priced out, is just not my preferred brand.

I never quite liked the Monster. I like the engine sound of a Ducati though and it comes with ABS. The Ducati Streetfighter really does strike my fancy. The Italian diva doesn't really belong to that group but has that distinct sound only Ducati can produce. It does come at a cost though...

There is the highly favorable Triumph Street Triple R, the reliable BMW F800R and another interesting Italian candidate, the Aprilia Shiver SL750 fighting for pole position.

Alas, Aprilia has a very scattered dealer network, and being an Italian diva, chances are the bike will get in trouble sooner or later.

The looks, the feel and the sound put the Street Triple right on top of my list. But there is the poor fuel economy, no fuel gauge (seriously? Even my Vespa has one...), and no ABS option.

With a similar price tag ABS is available on the Beemer F800R (including heated grips & power outlet).
The Speed Triple (and the Tiger) however comes with ABS and surprise: a fuel gauge. A mighty pretty bike, but it is as heavy as an oil tanker, and the seating position doesn't work for me. 

What a difference three little words make: Antilock Breaking System.  Now, do I need to postpone my purchase until Triumph is ready to offer an ABS version of the Street Triple?

May 30, 2012

All is in flux, nothing stands still

A Beginning with an End: 
Back in 2009 when I picked up riding I made the mistake to try and coax my better half into motorcycle riding. My Honda Hawk looked like a pocket bike on him. Roland gives the term 'knee dragging' a brand new meaning.
Bigger is better, I thought and got a 2006 Honda Silverwing for him. Didn't he look smashing on the bike? But Roland wasn't happy with it. He called it a heavy monster, and when he dropped it once in a slow speed turn maneuver he parked it, and went away. That was it... or not?

A Beginning - Redux:
Two years after what we call 'the scooter fiasco' the spousal unit fell in love with this svelte Italian beauty, and took her home without further ado. I was not unhappy with his choice. As a matter of fact we got a worthy companion for Bella, the Vespa GTS250.

It was all him, combing ads, and contacting sellers. I didn't have any part in it, and I didn't bring a helmet for the test ride. If hubby wants an upgrade he will need to figure it out by himself this time. Just picture me waiting, arms folded, and not commenting (it was tough for me but I managed.)
The test ride on the 2006 Piaggio BV500 left him disappointed. The single cylinder vibrations were annoying and the scooter's condition was rather poor, especially given the asking price.
Then Roland eyed a 2009 Yamaha TMAX. The engine sound was quite throaty, and a short ride around the block convinced him that the scooter is well balanced and easy to handle. The bike is barely broken in, in very good shape, and fairly priced. The spousal unit came back with that mystical smile that only befalls riders once they discover a bike they could come to like.

There is also a Suzuki Burgman 400 out there that needs to be checked out.

To be continued... 

And before you ask: Bella is safe. There are no plans trading her in for a bigger bike. She is going to stay in the family.

May 27, 2012

Real Badass Bikers

David, the blogging Vespa commuter from Montreal is in town for business, or so he said, because he also brought his complete motorcycle gear along. Equipped with a loan scooter from Gary, a buddy of Wetcoast Bob's he was ready to hit the road and meet us at Whitespot for breakfast.

For the first time Big Guy Small Scooter Dave tagged along for the ride, and made a perfect addition to the badass scooter team.

Shortly after we were heading out to paint the town red on our badass machines. Watch out and get your kids off the street. Scooter riders are on the loose.
We stopped at Buntzen Lake, and naturally the group got a lot attention. People were intimidated just by their looks.

We had the pleasure to show David a bit more of our backyard and stopped in Belcarra before we hit the dreadful stretch that would bring us to North Vancouver.

Blue skies and waters, green forest and snow capped mountains. What's not to love, when the sun shines at the we(s)t coast. By the time we got to Horseshoe Bay the scooter posse was hungry again, and we found a good pub with west coast style food to satisfy our needs.

Time flew by, and we needed to lead David back to his posh downtown hotel. Yet again we got stuck in a stupid traffic jam. Thanks to bad infrastructure planning the city lacks highways. If only filtering and lane splitting were considered legal...
Oh well, it gave me the opportunity for some photo ops, always looking at the bright side of scooter life.
Here we are back at David's hotel, where a concierge tried to shoo us away, but we chose to ignore him, and continued to take pictures and say our farewells.

A perfect day comes to an end. Gorgeous weather, breathtaking scenery, good food, and a trip with scooter buddies. Life is so good, sometimes!

And all the way from the black market in Montreal for Dar and myself. A miniature Vespa! Thanks a lot, David. We had a blast!

May 26, 2012

What if...

... you were to sell your house, your car and all your worldly possessions in order to fulfill your dreams?

Kati and Jens from Germany do what most of us only dream about, and they blog about their continued adventure: Around the world on motorcycles. 
In eighteen months they have traveled over 60,000 km on their modified BMW F800GS', and their next destination is going to be Alaska.
They are currently 'stuck' in Vancouver (not the worst place to hang out for a while I'd say!) for an overhaul of damaged gear and US Visa application. So, I contacted them if they would like to meet up, and share some stories.

We met at the wharf in Steveston, and listened breathless to their tales from the road while destroying big portions of fish and chips at Pajo's.
Later on we strolled along the pier, grabbed a coffee (and tea for me) at the Waves Coffee House, and enjoyed the dry and warm weather outside until the sun set.

Kati and Jens are totally down to earth people, and have great humor, and we all together enjoyed making fun of the typical conservative German lifestyle that we all left behind for good.
It was quite exciting to meet those globetrotters, and they have once again re-fueled my desire for epic trips. Thanks for sharing your stories, guys. Always keep the rubberside down, and

Gute Reise!

May 24, 2012

The Man behind the Visor

He goes by his real name. Chris Luhman. He blogs, and twitters (tweets?). You can find him on facebook, youtube, flickr and the likes. With five bikes in the stable, and the sincere determination to ride all year round in Minnesota (!), we get it that he must like motorcycle riding. A lot. But otherwise he remains an enigma in the www, and like the stig, he barely ever shows his face.

What do we really know about the motorcyclist from Minneapolis, determined to ride to San Diego everyday for 7 weeks, by way of Alaska no less?

Social media aside, Chris is a very private person in public, and a very open and easy going guy in private. We talked the night away sharing our motorcycle and life related stories while he was staying with us, and we genuinely enjoyed his company. If you want to know more about Chris, however you won’t find it in this place.
Just a word of advice: 
Meet Chris in person, and find out who's the man behind the visor.
 Here's something that gives him away though:
He really, really likes good food!

May 23, 2012

A Surprise Guest

I thought it would be good to repay some of the good karma I received while in New Zealand...

May 22, 2012

Just stop raining already!

Me: (not happy) Great! Victoria Day weekend is on, and of course has to rain cats and dogs!
Hubby: It's too wet to ride, so what's left to do? (Hoping for a relaxing day on the couch.)
Me: Go hiking!
Hubby: Still wet, though... (sigh!)
 So, yesterday we did the Buntzen Lake Loop.
9.2 km in 2h 6 min
It's a short and easy hike.
Only moderately steep sections, and the trail was of good quality.
 It never ceases to amaze me how close we live to nature.
Nice feature: A suspension bridge!
Weekend Wet Coast Style! More rain today means: 
More hiking.
Happy Victoria Day! 
Note: A rainy day off is better than no day off at all.

May 20, 2012

Travel Scooters

We put the scooters to work today for a five hour trip with no direction or destination in mind.
Naturally, at one point we ended up at a beach. What a gorgeous sight with the ocean in front, and snow capped mountains at the horizon. The water was calm today, not too exciting for sail boats or surfers but for us Vespa riders it felt nice not to get pummeled by the crosswinds for a change.

We both like our quiet times while riding, but found that that sometimes the occasional communication beats hand signs. Hence, we recently procured the intercom system SENA SMH10, and today was the first time we tried it out.

The robust and easy to use SENA does the trick quite well. A detailed review can be found here, and we can only agree. I hate gadgets, and carrying extra 'stuff' but I sure love the Sena for its simplicity, and that it can be easily and safely controlled by gloved hands.

The only downside: While clip-mounting the system on Roland's Shoei was a no-brainer, my Nolan helmet, designed for a very specific other comm system, required the mounting bracket for the Sena to be glued on. Now, I wonder how long this sticky pad will take until it comes off, and I can just hope that it doesn't happen in mid-ride.

Can't wait to get on the road again tomorrow.

May 19, 2012

Xtreme Stripling

Marvelous video of French stunt rider Julien Welsch at work, on a Triumph Street Triple.

May 18, 2012

Double Feature

Pamela over at fabulous Helmet or Heels currently features riding females on her blog. You will find certain familiar faces over there, for example the motobloggeresses Brandy, Karen, Kathy or Rachael (Fuzzy) and many other cool ladies, well, amongst them yours truly. Check it out!

Meanwhile, I was also featured in the print magazine of Riderswest, a Canadian motorcycle magazine. Am I famous or what? Should I give up my day job?

May 17, 2012

Rover's on the Road again

Say what you want about Harley Davidson, but when I started up the Sportster today after six months of hibernation, I was in for a pleasant surprise. I removed the cover, patted Rover's tank, spoke a few magic words, pushed the starter button, and the bike's engine awoke without hesitation. Brilliant!

Air pressure was low, so my first ride took me to the nearest Chevron, and then I was off into the sunset for some snapshots, when it suddenly got loud and we got covered in whirls of dust.
It was quite spectacular. I hope that whoever ended up needing a ride in this air ambulance will be fine.

May 16, 2012

Challenge: What's in your pocket?

Trobairitz inspired to another challenge. So I spent my lunch break turning the pockets of my riding gear inside out. Well, Brandy, here are Sonja's wockets of the day.
Found inside my jacket pockets: Blahberry, metal tube with pain meds, lip balm, USB stick (don't ask me why), air pressure gauge, sticky notes and pen, an extra battery for the camera, my wallet, and the Sony Cyber Shot I took this picture with. I sure have deep pockets.

Found inside my pants pockets: Paolo's insurance papers, ear plugs, chewing gum and a tissue.

The keys are too bulky (scooter key, house keys, key fob, and office keys). Hence, I carry those around my neck attached to a VESPA lanyard, sponsored by Bobskoot.

Attitude Adjustment?

The day I returned from the Holy Land (a.k.a. New Zealand) hubby picked me up at the airport.
Our usual route home would lead as past a certain motorcycle dealership, and it was in fact Roland (I was seriously jet-lagged at that time) that spotted the new BMW scooter as part of the brand annual demo days.
We were told that about 75% of the production will stay in Europe, while the rest of the world will have to fight over the leftovers...

The only chance to keep the name in the draw would be making a (refundable) deposit. And the spousal unit is seriously considering it.
Alas, the bike is not be available in Canada until Fall 2012. A funny way to introduce a new model towards end of the season. What were they thinking?