Monday, November 30, 2009

Commuting – November 30

Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul

It was 28F this morning when I left for work. As I rode, I admired the numerous little ponds and lakes that were just starting to get a layer of ice on the top. The roads still had lots of grip and I didn’t encounter any ice with the Super 9.

Because I was running late in the morning, I was able to watch the sunrise (something I’ve missed lately). I was also able to ride home during sunset since I stayed later than usual to make up the time. The ride home was a balmy 41F!

The photo above is the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul. I ride past it almost every day, and tonight it looked great with the sunset and the purple-blue sky.

The capitol building was built in 1905 and gives a nod to Washington DC. It is Minnesota’s third state capitol building. The first was destroyed by fire, and the second was too small. You can see more facts here.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

My new Ural

I woke up early today and got a ride out to the local Ural dealer in Wisconsin (St. Croix Ural). It’s about an hour from my house located NE of Somerset. I was interested in the 2008 Patrol below. It was the demo model and was discounted over $1100 from new.

2008 Ural Patrol

After we arrived, the owner Dell came out showed me how it worked and let us take a ride around the parking lot. The sidecar controls are similar to a motorcycle, but the handling is completely different. I practiced many figure eights and general turns and shifting. Once I was comfortable, we took off down the road. It was great fun, but I need a lot more practice.

I was really impressed they let me ride the motorcycle first. Nearly every other motorcycle dealer I’ve visited in the area will not let you ride the bikes except for “demo days” which are usually once or twice a year. If you missed it, tough luck!

While we waiting for the paperwork to get sorted I started reading the Ural owners manual. It’s the best owner’s manual for a bike I’ve ever seen. The Ural also comes with a book on how to operate a sidecar which I also started reading.

After waiting a couple of hours, Dell let us know that their bank would not provide a loan for a new ‘08. Dell then offered to sell me a 2009 Ural Patrol for the same price he had quoted me on the ‘08. He even said he would deliver it in a few days for free since it was still in a crate. The pic of my new Patrol is below:

My new 2009 Ural Patrol still in crate

In addition to the Patrol, I negotiated and got the windshield and leg fairings free. Dell assured me this bike would take anything a Minnesota winter could dish out, and with the upgraded alternator it can run all my heated gear. It also comes with a two year unlimited mile warranty. The unlimited part sounds like a challenge to me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Commuting – November 25

como park

I’ve been riding the SV to work most days since those days are numbered. I took the scooter along a different route today through Como park (to the left). It was around 39 and misty. I was quite warm and comfy, but I did have a couple issues with helmet fogging.

The Ural was my original choice for riding in the Minnesota winter, but I dismissed it for financial reasons. Now that I’ve sold my car, I am free of a car payment. I’m going to go look at some Urals this weekend at St. Croix Ural.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Safe Riding and Training

While I was talking to a non-riding friend today, the conversation shifted to motorcycles and scooters. We chatted for a bit about perception and motorcycling. I had been thinking about it after reading Dru's article. I was glad to hear they think I'm a safe rider, but even more happy when they said my choices and perspective has helped them warm to motorcycling and scootering when they were not fond of those vehicles or the people who operated them before me.

It got me thinking about riding next year, and I started looking for training schedules. I like to take at least a couple riding classes each year. In 2009, I took two advanced riding courses and a basic dirt bike class. I learned a lot from all three. In 2010, I hope to take at least an ERC, Total Control Clinic, and a couple track days.

I found two great perception tests on the MSF site while I was looking for schedules: One for road signs and one for collision traps. I scored a 18/20 on both test the first time through on medium; I managed a 19/20 the second time through on fast. They change each time, so try them a few times. I found first a good reminder on uncommon and common road signs. The second was great for some of the common hazards and another reminder to look at the bigger picture when riding. MSF also has the Motorcycle Challenge which is also good. The animations help visualise what might happen, and I like the trivia while waiting for them to load.

I also found the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center (MMSC) is giving away free reflective decals. I ordered a set and will put them on my helmet. The MMSC has a great list of courses available in Minnesota check it out here.

BTW: no training schedules for 2010 yet...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Super9 Parts Installed - Center Stand, Rear Fender, and Breather Hose

IMGP6164UPS brought presents today! The parts I ordered finally showed up. I am impressed with the delivery speed. I ordered them a week ago and here they are. I was told it would be at least two weeks. Great job Stadium Yamaha!

The parts are for the center stand and the rear fender. I also purchased a new hose that had torn in half. Some of the parts I ordered, I actually didn’t need because they came attached to the center stand or the rear fender. I guess I have extras now. I was also impressed with the low weight. I expected the above to weigh more, but it was only 5lbs including the box.
I used these tools to get everything installed:
I installed the center stand first, so the scooter would be steady while I worked on the other two items. The spring was really hard to install since it was so still. I eventually became brave and hooked one end of the spring on the top spring mount and then used the screwdriver to lever the other end down and under the centerstand spring mount. It took a couple tries, but I got it hooked.

I installed the new breather hose since my scooter came with one that was torn. It wouldn't go on at first, but a tiny bit of axle grease solved that problem. Here is the old and new:

I also installed the rear fender. I could never understand why the center stand and rear fender were removed. They are both very light weight and too handy to not have on the bike. The third mounting point for the rear fender is missing since the stock airbox was removed. I rigged something up with a ziptie until I can fabricate something out of metal. I think it will work well to keep the road spray off of the engine and the scooter.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Riding – November 15


I finally got out on a ride with my newly replaced heated vest. The old one had died and I brought it in for warranty work. I originally purchased it as an XL because it was only $40!! (used to be $140). The store was nice enough to go down a few sizes on the replacement, so it actually fits properly. What a difference it makes in heat!

Today was 40F. With the old vest, I would have had it on high the entire time, but with the new vest, I kept toggling between low and medium.

As you can see from the photo above, it was a great day to be out riding. I only saw one other motorcycle which was a bit sad. I put in about 150 miles on the SV650. I didn’t go anywhere interesting, I just rode around the greater metro area looking at the lakes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Commuting - November 10

Another beautiful day today -- a totally clear sky with highs in the low 60s! It was a chilly 29F this morning on the way in, but the amazing sunrise made up for it. I was surprised how cold I wasn't. I didn't have my heated gloves or vest -- only my heated grips. My poor vest is still being held hostage by Hitching Post. I might get it tomorrow. Maybe.

Wow! I just finished typing the above and they call saying I can pick it up today. They only changed the expected date three times from two to three days to two weeks.

The photo above isn't the best, but I thought the fog formation coming off the compost heap was pretty neat.

The sun is shining and it's 60F outside, time to go ride! We don't get many November days like this in Minnesota.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Free Boots

I was lucky enough to get a free pair of Oneil off road boots in a slightly large size from a riding friend. I plan on wearing these this winter over some thick merino wool socks and/or some water proof socks. I chose some Seal Skinz from REI because of their fantastic return policy. A quick test for five minutes in a bucket of water and the insides were still dry, so that is a good sign. The Seal Skinz should be more than adequate for my needs.

As you can see below, they have had many adventures including the Copper Canyon in Mexico 4 or 5 times, Baja once, and through the High Sierra's once.

free boots before

Below is the after photo:

free boots after

I spent a lot of time with a rag, an old tooth brush, and saddle soap to get them cleaned up. A little leather glue and some black shoe polish and they look decent again. I bought some Dry Camp, a silicon sealant, and sprayed them liberally. The Dry Camp is supposed to make them water proof. I plan on using two coats. I need to use a bit more glue and maybe a little duct tape inside the boots (the tongues are both a bit torn), and then they'll be ready for winter.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dual Sport Ride Report – November 7th

Paul from TC_DualSport organized a dual sport ride from Hastings, MN to Red Wing, MN on almost all gravel roads. We met up at 10am at the Hasting Walgreens. I arrived early, so I could ride around Hastings and take some photos. 15 people showed up for the ride on all different kinds of dual sports from 250cc to 1000cc. We road for about an hour and then stopped for a break near the Cannon Falls bike trail.

During the ride, I took a couple corners a bit hot and had the pleasure of riding through the ditch! :) On my last ditch adventure, I decided to test out my riding gear. It worked great! I picked up the bike and we continued on the ride to lunch. Around 1pm we arrived at Hay Creek for lunch. I was almost out of gas even though I filled up in Hastings.

After lunch, we road a few more gravel roads and arrived in Red Wing about 2:30pm. We found a gas station, and I put 1.73 gallons in a 2.0 gallon tank after riding 89 miles, not too bad considering I was thoroughly enjoying the throttle. I was a bit tense about running out of gas near the end, but still had a lot of fun.

Paul led the way back to the cities on HWY 61. He took a couple of us on a few more gravel roads along the way back home. We each went our separate ways after getting on I94. I pulled into the garage after putting 176 miles on the WR250R. It was a short day, but a lot of fun. I enjoyed the roads and the fun people on the ride. It’s not often that we get a 65F day in November in Minnesota.

Unfortunately, I made a mistake with the GPS on my phone, and I didn’t get a track file created. Hopefully, someone else from the ride has one I can use to make a map of the route.

UPDATE: Nov 9, 2009: I received a track file and made a map of the route.

Downtown Hastings:


The HWY 61 bridge over the Mississippi:


Obligatory posed bike shot of the WR250R:


Sign along the river:


The Mississippi River:


Another shot the bridge and river:


Hastings City Hall:


Getting ready to leave the parking lot at Walgreens:


Near the Mississippi on a great minimum maintenance road:


Another gravel road:


The bikes at our first break of the morning:


More gravel:


Random farm:


More gravel:


Paul waiting for all of us to catch up with him:



Lunch stop:


Saturday, November 7, 2009

First Thursday – November 2009

First Thursday - November 2009

The first Thursday of every month, bikes from all over the Twin Cities area decent upon the Dulono's Pizza parking lot. There weren’t a lot of bikes that made it down this month. The sky was clear and the temperature was in the mid to high 40s. The parking lot was only 3/4 full with only about 100 bikes. Two months ago there was 500+.

I sat inside and talked with friends. It was a good time. I am curious how many motorcyclist will show up next month.

The bike below is from the 60s and was raced at the salt flats at least three times according to the inspection stickers on it. I’m guessing the bike carrier is the same vintage as the bike.

First Thursday - November 2009 First Thursday - November 2009
First Thursday - November 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Super 9 Parts

I stopped being lazy today and finally ordered the missing parts for my Super 9 moped. One of the previous owners had removed the center stand and rear fender. The duct colling below was also ripped in half. It provides cool air to the transmission, and in the current state would provide cool air and water. No good. I need the rear fender to ride in the rain and the snow without getting myself and the scooter covered in grime, and a center stand is just handy.

I looked around on the internet and locally. I sent some e-mails and never heard back from the local guys, so I decided to just order online. The Super9 group claims that Stadium Yamaha is the place to order parts. I called them with a question about a specific part number after browsing their online parts list. I was not impressed with VJ as I had to tell him three times I have a red 2005 Kymco Super 9.

I still placed the order with them because their prices are reasonable and they came recommended. For the record, I ordered the following which should be here the day before Thanksgiving:

SKU   Item   Price   Qty   Ext
19410-KEB7-9000   DUCT COLLING   $6.42   1   $6.42
80108-KEB7-9000   PLATE SPLASH GUARD   $5.80   1   $5.80
80107-KEB7-900-N1R   (N1R) BLACK, NON GLOSS PLASTIC FENDER B REAR   $12.29   1   $12.29
80109-KEB7-9000   RUBBER RR FENDER B   $4.28   1   $4.28
80100-KEB7-9000   COLLAR RUBBER   $1.76   1   $1.76
95701-06020-07   BOLT WASHER 6*20   $0.97   1   $0.97
93404-06016-07   BOLT WASHER 6*16   $2.12   2   $4.24
50503-KEB7-9000   SHAFT MAIN STAND   $13.53   1   $13.53
50527-KED5-9000   BUSH OILES   $5.92   2   $11.84
5050A-KGB5-9000   STAND ASSY MAIN   $40.89   1   $40.89
94101-08700   WASHER PLAIN 8MM   $1.64   1   $1.64
94251-08400   PIN LOCK 8MM   $1.64   1   $1.64
95014-71402   SPG D MAIN STAND   $3.20   1   $3.20
50505-KBE-9000   STOPPER RUBBER   $2.24   1   $2.24

I also received a status update today on my ACF-50 Anti-Corrosion spray order from last month, they are on back order and will likely ship on November 12 which also means I should receive the spray about Thanksgiving. I hope we have a mild November in Minnesota this year.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Helmet Woes and Commuting – November 3rd

sunriseI started later than usual today, so I could go vote before riding to work. The sky was clear and it was a deceiving 27F. By the end of the day, it was dark, raining, and 35F. My new coat and pants are great. They have been keeping me warm and dry through numerous rains now. My old one piece rain suit is getting lonely.


The night before, my helmet was knocked off the table and it landed on the left side. I have an Arai Quantum-II, and it uses an overly complicated mechanism to hold the face shield on. There is a plastic shield base plate which screws into the outside of the helmet. Another plastic over snaps onto the base plate to hold the shield which slips in between the two. Arai claims its safer because the integrity of the helmet isn’t compromised by the shield mount. I find it annoying. It makes it harder to change the shield, and it apparently breaks more often than it should.

The photo below is missing the little tab on the plastic disc. It holds on the outer plastic cover. Lucky for me, Midwest Motorcycle had the covers below in stock and it only cost me $9 and the use of my uncomfortable old HJC.

broken arai helmet tabbroken arai helmet tab

I am kind of glad it broke last night. It forced me out on a great lunch time ride to south Minneapolis to enjoy a beautiful sunny day. I also learned how my Arai helmet comes apart and why I paid so much for it compared to my old HJC – the fantastic comfort.

Monday, November 2, 2009

SV650 Voltmeter Install

I found some time this weekend to play with my new Xscorpion DVM3R voltmeters.
Xscorpion VoltmeterXscorpion Voltmeter Xscorpion Voltmeter
Xscorpion Voltmeter
I purchased two of them. One is going to go on my SV650 and the other is temporarily soldered to a battery tender cable to make it portable, but will likely get permanently attached to the Super9.
The BatteryTender-Voltmeter combo
volt meter combine with battery tender cable

My prototype mount for the voltmeter on the SV650. I have it bolted on, but I don’t have the wires hooked up yet. It is bolted to the bar riser on the right side of the handlebar. If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice I put the mounting holes horizontally when the holes on the voltmeter are vertical. I had to drill new holes to make it work.
volt meter mounting bracketvolt meter mounted on SV650