Sunday 26 February 2017

Really Annoying: Talent Show - Funny 2017 Kia Forte TV Commercial

I'd describe this as not funny at all.  This ad is all over TV at the moment and it makes me grind my teeth every time I see it.  KIA isn't the only company pushing the "don't worry if you're useless, we've made a car that puts you on the road anyway!" sub-text.

From a motorcyclist's perspective, especially one in you-can't-lane-split Ontario where I'm expected to wait in a lane as clueless drivers imagining they are on reality TV approach me at killing speed from behind, do these systems work on something as small as a motorbike?  This article by Consumer Reports suggests that pedestrian aware systems are distinct from vehicle aware systems.  "...Some newer systems can also detect bicyclists."  That's heart warming.

How long will it be before people, already willing to take my life in their incompetent hands while they take selfies and answer texts that just can't wait, figure that they don't need to be competent at driving at all?  We're already close.

I haven't seen anything in motorcycle media about this, but this is turning into a life or death situation for people on two wheels.  Someone with more resources than I needs to see just how big the blind spots are on these systems and then tell motorcyclists how best to be seen by them.  Our lives increasingly depend on it.

"Motorcycles are the biggest problem, with systems detecting them a full 26% later than other vehicle types, and this with motorcycles already being the hardest motor vehicles on the road to see..."

Motorcycle Things: Winter '17 Wishlist

A motorcycle wish list circa 2017:

Jon Campbell on Google+ shared updated colours on the Aerostich line of motorcycle clothing.  I've always loved the look of Aerostich kit.  Unfortunately, a Roadcrafter suit costs more than most of the motorcycles I've purchased.  

One of these days I'll get the coin together and spring for an Aerostich one piece suit.  By all accounts it'll be the last time I need to.  

They have lots of custom options so I should be able to find a long in the body, regular inseam that fits me properly.  With colour choices aplenty, making an original looking suit that fits is an ongoing pastime.


Keeping with the orange kit theme, I'm also wishing for a go with the updated Desmo RO32 transformable helmet.  Quieter, more comfortable and more spacious, it's my go-to Desmo helmet evolved.  Short of buying one from overseas untried, I'm stuck.  If we end up in France this summer, a trip to Roof might be in the cards through.


With the Tiger's winter maintenance done, I'm hoping to return focus to the Concours ZG1000 Fury streetfighter I've got half finished.  

On the to-do list is getting a rear light and indicators.  I'd ordered them through Amazon but the dodgy Chinese company that makes them never evidently sent it, though they charged me for it.  The Amazon marketplace seems to be increasingly filled with overseas companies that have a very slow delivery time, assuming they ship at all.

It'd be nice to get this running smoothly by the summer for some blistering solo rides where I finally get to find out what those new Michelin tires feel like.  In a perfect world I'd enjoy the summer on it, ride it to the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride in Toronto next September where someone offers to buy it for what it cost me to make it.  I could then role that over into next winter's project.


A couple of road trips this summer would be nice.  I've had a trip around Lake Superior in mind for a while now.  It's about 2000kms around from Manitoulin Island and back again, and another couple of hundred kilometres and a ferry ride home.

Launching from Little Current at the north end of Manitoulin, I'd go the Ontario side first just to avoid the misery that is the border crossing into Michigan at The Sault.  After sitting at that for almost two hours last year, I'll go backwards around Superior just to avoid it.  Doing 350km/days on average, we'd get around Superior in about six days.  If we wanted a day off, we could push for a couple of days to get a day of rest.  A day up to Manitoulin and a day back at the end means eight days on the road.

A trip down the Appalachians to see the full solar eclipse this summer is also on the short list.  Doing this one for ten days means we'd have a couple of days to explore areas on the way down and on the way back instead of making miles every day.

From just over the border in New York state all the way down to Tennessee, this is motorcycle nirvana with mile after mile of twisting mountain roads.


Racer5 is running their introduction to track riding again this year.  A May long weekend getting familiar with the racing dynamics of a motorcycle would be pretty wicked.  By the end of the course I'd be qualified to race.  The next step would be getting myself into the VRRA for some vintage racing.


I never get bored of imagining throwing a few grand down on some motorcycle racing gear.  My two pairs of Alpinestar boots have been excellent, so I'd probably base a lot of the racing gear on what they offer.  I'd read reviews of the Handroid Knox racing gloves and they sound totally next level.  An Arai helmet has always been a long term, top end motorcycle helmet wishlist item, and they have a nice Isle of Man special out this year.

A track-day specialist bike would also be nice to have tucked away, only to be trailered to the track for hard work.   This '99 CBR600 F4 is well cared for and going for about three grand.   I'd strip it down to bare essentials and put a carbon single seat cowling on the back.  After wearing out the tires on it, I'd go to racing tires and continue to evolve the bike into a track specialist.


Guy Martin did a race in his Ford Transit van last year where he averaged well over 100mph for an extended length of time.  I wouldn't spend much time in one the other side of 100mph, but having a van would sure be handy.  From transporting my own bikes out of the snow for a cheap ride in the winter, to taking the race bike to the track, having a bike transport system would be mega.  With taxes, a new one nicely spec-ed out is just north of fifty thousand of your finest Canadian dollars.


Some top shelf gear, getting race ready and having the custom Kawasaki on the road... if I came into cash in 2017, that's what I'd be spending it on.

Saturday 25 February 2017

A Ride Stolen From Winter

February isn't a giving month for motorcyclists in Canada.  Last year, with the twenty three year old Kawasaki in pieces, I was unable to get the thing out on the warm weekend we had in December, and couldn't even get it going when the snow finally cleared in March.

Since the Tiger was only getting regular maintenance done, it was turn-key ready when we suddenly had a warm break in February.  With snow melt running across the road and the temperature a heady 7°C, I enjoyed a foggy ride in to work, and a slightly warmer ride the long way around home in the afternoon:

Music by Shannon Rose & The Thorns: Seasons is a brilliant album, you should get it!

Once home I power washed the sand and salt off the Tiger and parked it up again.  A single day on the bike blew off the cobwebs and renewed the promise of things to come.

Sunday 19 February 2017

Chasing Virginia Waterfalls

My cousin in law shared this and I thought it would make for a nice, twisty ride.  It got to double digits yesterday and my throttle hand is getting itchy event though we're still knee deep in snow.

It's a 271 mile ride through the Virginia Appalachian Mountains connecting nine waterfalls.  It might be a bit much to try and manage in a day, but over a couple of days it'd be a two nearly 300km days of twisty road riding with a lot of waterfall watching in between.  If two days of mountain roads and waterfalls don't cure what ails you, nothing will.

I'd previously thought about doing a ride down the Appalachians to Deal's Gap as the full solar eclipse is passing over there in mid-August this year.  This is about two thirds of the way down from Ontario.  It'd make a nice break from the drive back north to spend a couple of days chasing waterfalls along winding mountain roads.

Tuesday 7 February 2017

Honda Getaway

Asking $5577+GST.
I'd offer six grand all in.
It barely has 1000kms on it.
A comfortable fit on a small bike,
even for a big guy like me.
This lovely little Honda CB500x popped up on Kijiij.  As an icestorm approaches I'm dreaming of being elsewhere, as I often do during the off-season.

Two grand looks like it'll get the bike air freighted from Toronto to Ecuador.  The South American tour would take me south down the Andes and then finally to Ushuaia before working my way up the Atlantic side to Rio de Janeiro.

Just over 16,000 kms - a nice 3 month jaunt.
By the time I worked my way back up to Rio on the little Honda, it would have done tens of thousands of kilometres across some pretty rough terrain on not the greatest gas.  I'm sure I could find a happy rider in Rio to hand it off to.

Averaging 250kms per day, it's a 60 day trek.  With some wiggle room, this would be a nice three month jaunt, mid-February to mid-May.  The MotoGP circus passes through Argentina in April, so that'd be a nice thing to be able to ride to as well.

Saturday 4 February 2017

Winter Motorcycle Diaries

I'm waiting on an above freezing day to do the coolant flush on the Tiger (it needs to run to circulate coolant and doing that in a closed garage in freezing temperatures isn't a good idea).  After that I'll be able to put it all back together and aim it at the door for the first possible ride when the snow eventually clears.

In the meantime, Jeff's airhead adventures continue.  The old BMW is in pieces and this week we took the biggest lump over to a local metal shop to get it bead blasted down to the metal.  I'm curious to see what this industrial process does for the BMW engine which looks like a piece of industrial art to begin with.  DK Custom Welding is run by former graduates of the high school we work at.  Their shop out in Salem is a magical place.

The air cooled lump prior to an industrial quality cleanup.

They have a full service metal shop at DK Custom Welding out in Salem.  

Lots of interesting lines and asymmetrical details on the old air head.

A wide variety of classics were getting restored in the shop - they'd done a lovely welding job on a new floor pan on one 60s muscle car.
In other motorcycle news, Triumph Canada had a fantastic sale on some of their clothing, so I jumped on it.  Sturgis Cycle delivered it wicked quick and it's some really quality clothing.  At the price I feel like I stole it!

It's the depths of winter, probably about as far from a ride as I get, but MotoGP is testing in Sepang and their winter programming is always interesting.  Last week I saw their video on Öhlins and how motorcycle suspensions work, which was very insightful.  The amount of punishment a motorcycle shock takes in a single lap when ridden in anger is astonishing.  I'd rather be punishing the new fork oil in my own shocks, but at this time of year I'll take what I can get.