Sunday, January 27, 2013

Just You and the Baby?

I put on my motorcycle gear, and headed out the door today. I was riding the Ural, and because it was warmer, I didn’t need my heated gear. When I arrived at the restaurant, I went to check in. I had made reservations for two. I squeezed past the crowd waiting at the door and walked up to the girl working the counter.

Me: “Hi! I have a reservation for two under ‘Chris L’ “

Girl: “Yes, ok. I see. Two plus the baby or just you and the baby?”

Me: “No just two. It’s under Chris L. Are you sure you have the right one?”

Girl: “Yes, right here two for Chris L. Is that with the baby? Do you need a highchair?”

I’m very confused now.

Me: “Um. No just two adults. No baby.”

Girl looks very confused now, and looks carefully at me from around her podium.

Girl: “Oh, that’s a helmet. I thought it was a baby carrier!”

Me: “ugh… nope!“

What?! ROFL! She confused my helmet with a baby carrier? Me standing in my full riding gear holding my helmet by the straps!? Hilarious! Hey, wait a minute. My head isn’t THAT big. lol.

Ural on Frozen Lake in Snow Storm

After a good lunch with an old friend, I came outside to discover it was snowing heavily. Great! I love riding in snow!! I took the long way home, and made sure to visit a local lake on the way to ughh.. test the traction of my tires during extreme turns… yea. that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Ural + snow = awesome. Girl thinking my helmet is a baby = hilarious!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Subzero Uraling to Scrambler Cycle

Subzero Uraling

It seems I have a knack for picking one of the coldest days of the year to get my Ural work done at Scrambler Cycle. Today, it was –5F when I woke up. I waited for it to get to 0F before I left, but as I rode north the temp kept dropping. I rode most of the 100 miles in subzero temps. I stopped about half way to warm up my feet. My toes were like ice cubes wiggling around in my boots.


Kevin at Scrambler Cycle has several projects going for various customers. A couple nice looking old bikes in the works. Kevin has upgraded his facilities, so I enjoyed his wi-fi while he wrenched.

Scrambler Cycle

He quickly got to work on my Ural replacing the rear brake switch. It died for the fourth time in three year, and finally we could upgrade the rear brake pedal to the new model and use the new style (for Ural) brake switch common on Japanese bikes.

Old vs New Ural Rear Brake Pedal

The pedals look almost identical. The old on the left and new on the right.


From this angle you can see the difference. New on the left, old on the right. The new one has a tab and a hole for the spring to attach.

New Pedal Installed

Here it is installed. Kevin adjusted the brake lever travel and the sidecar brake. It is very comfortable to use now. I was impressed with the stopping power with properly adjusted brakes. I didn’t know what I was missing.

He also fixed a few other things that needed attention. I spent most of the day there, so it was up to 18F by the time I left. The 100 mile ride home was much warmer. My feet were not frozen. The sunset wasn’t as nice as the sunrise though, and I made it home just before it became completely dark.

When I got home, I ordered a set of heated socks from Gerbing. Four winters of cold feet is enough. I’m ready for my feet to be as warm as my hands.

A good days riding and wrenching.


ps: more Malaysia photos soon.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Malaysian Sidecars and Trikes

In my previous post, I wrote about motorcycles in Malaysia and how numerous they are, but I intentionally left out three-wheelers like sidecars and trikes.

Malaysian Sidecar

The trikes I saw really weren’t trikes at all because they were the trike-kits that just add two wheels to a scooter-framed motorcycle effectively giving it four wheels.

Malaysian Trike

I saw more than just these two, but didn’t manage to get a photo worth posting.

Malaysian Trike

As for the sidecars, I saw more of them than I did the “trikes”. They were all “working” sidecars though not the passenger style that is common in the US.

For example, this ice-cream sidecar. It was hot and sunny in Malaysia. Riding under an umbrella would have bee nice. Of course, the handy frozen treats would help beat the heat as well. I might have eaten my inventory before being able to sell it.

Malaysian Icecream Sidecar

Here he is back on the main road going to the next neighborhood.

Malaysian Icecream Sidecar

Another working sidecar hauling sacks of rice.

Malaysian Sidecar

A closer look at the “working” sidecars. A deck on top and a larger compartment underneath. Sometimes I wish I had something like this for my Ural, but the driveshaft to the sidecar wheel precludes having a low, flat base to pile stuff on.

Malaysian Sidecar

I didn’t see any passenger sidecars. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist there, I just didn’t see any. The differences in sidecars to me further highlights Malaysia as a moto-transport culture vs. the US as a moto-recreation culture.

More Malaysia pictures and posts coming.


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Monday, January 21, 2013

Motorcycles in Malaysia

Malaysia from the Plane

Being so close to the equator, Malaysia is warm year round and really only has two seasons: wet and dry. It’s always hot 80s-90s F. My wife and I enjoyed a couple weeks in Malaysia recently do to a death in the family. While it was a sad time, the hot weather and wonderful time with family made it enjoyable. The photo above is our first glimpse of the Malaysian coast from our plane.

Motorcycle and Palm Trees

When we left Minnesota, it was 28F and when we arrived in Kuala Lumpur it was 28C. A nice improvement. I caught my first glimpse of the thousands of motorcycles I would see during our trip on the taxi ride from the airport into the city (above). He’s enjoying one of the motorcycle-only lanes on the freeway.

Parked Motorcycles Malaysia

Downtown Kuala Lumpur is filled with motorcycles as is the rest of the country. While I was there, I estimated that at least 40% of the vehicles on the road had to be motorcycles. It was a pretty close guess. This study says 50%+.

Street Scene

Like everywhere else in the world (except 49 US states sadly) filtering, splitting, and lane sharing are all perfectly legal and used extensively. The heavy traffic and poor roads means motorcycles are the only sensible way to get through the mess. The hot humid weather is encouraging those who can afford it to use cars though.

Street Scene

The public transit system in Malaysia isn’t very good. They are working on combing the systems, so it is getting better.

Most of the motorcycles were from the big four Japanese names you’d recognize: Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, and Kawasaki with dozens of other names I had never heard of before. Yamaha and Honda seemed the most common to me.

Most of the motorcycles are less than 135cc. The small size makes them very easy to maneuver in heavy traffic weaving in and out of the trapped cars. It also makes them very easy to park. Occasionally, there would be a larger motorcycle. I saw a few 650s, but they were rare.

Parked Motorcycles Malaysia

I was always impressed how close together they could park their bikes. Barely enough room to walk between. I like the Repsol-Honda inspired motorcycles in the shot below. With the Sepang Circuit, there are a large number of MotoGP fans in Malaysia.

Parked Motorcycles Malaysia 

Helmet use is required by law and I saw most people wearing helmets. I only saw a half dozen people wearing any other protective gear such as a motorcycle coat or boots. Normal gear is an open face helmet (usually fastened), thin coat on backwards, and flip-flops for the feet. The heat and high humidity would have made it uncomfortable to wear much else, but would probably increase the longevity of the riders.

Parked Motorcycles Malaysia

It was common to see motorcyclists ignoring traffic rules (the other vehicles did too) like ignoring signal lights and directions of travel. I’m guessing that contributes to their over 50% of traffic fatalities in Malaysia involve motorcycles. It was interesting to observe a completely different traffic dynamic to the US were motorcycles are only 1% vs. the 50% in Malaysia.

Parked Motorcycles Malaysia

Four stroke and two stroke motorcycles were both found in full representation with the four stroke being the most common. 

Parked Motorcycles Malaysia

Despite the plums of smoke and loud exhaust that all the two-stroke seemed to be equipped with, I enjoyed seeing them.

Parked Motorcycles Malaysia

Motorcycles parked in the sidewalk adjacent to the train platform above.

Motorcycle Repair Shop with Old Triumph

Motorcycle shops were very common because of the high number of motorcycles around. Many were simply large garages filled with moto-related stuff. Similar to some of the enthusiast garages I’ve seen in MN. I liked the old triumph in the photo above.

Motorcycle Mechanic on Sidewalk

The mechanics above were tearing down an engine on the sidewalk in front of their shop.

Father and Son Motorcycling

While enjoying some tea, I caught the scene above of a father picking his son up from school. He’s just helping him get his helmet on. Starting him young!

A have a few more Malaysia related posts coming, so stay tuned.


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