Saturday 25 March 2017

Your 2017 Motorcycle Road Rally Schedule

It's on this year and this time it's a four event season! If you're anywhere near Ontario hop on your bike and come along for a great day of riding: Sunday June 11th, Saturday July 22nd, Saturday August 19th and Friday October 13th. Pick your day(s)!

Last summer my motorcycle buddy Jeff and I did our first long distance motorcycle scavenger hunt/rally, it was a blast! We spent an exhausting, hot, August day covering more miles than anyone else. Our lousy trip planning skills aside, we had a great day seeing all sorts of hidden spots we'd never seen before.  I just found out that Lobo Loco is back for 2017, and bigger than ever! 

The idea of this kind of rally is that you begin from wherever you are at 8am with a gas receipt to set your starting place.  From there you find your way to gps points shared with you a week before.  Different places are worth different points depending on how hard they are to get to.  You can go after themed stops to try and get the highest points in a particular category or go for the rally win by planning out a route that collects you the most points quickly.  Or you can just take it easy and pootle about, enjoying the camaraderie that is infectious in an event like this.  You'll be seeing a lot of other competitors on your travels.

Last year Jeff and I decided to ride out of the cities because neither of us really like riding in the urban pall.  We rode along miles of country roads through scenic little towns all the way to the shores of Huron before working our way back to Brantford, arriving with three whole minutes to spare.

We did it on our big adventure bikes, but the parking lot at the end of the race had everything from a 200cc Yamaha to massive Harley v-twins, and everything in between.  There is no 'right' bike to do this sort of thing on.  There is no 'right' way to plan your route (though we missed top score by thousands of points, so I don't really know what I'm talking about).  We had a great time doing our high mileage country route.  Others had a blast cashing in on close together points locations in the Greater Toronto Area.

Whatever you like to ride, however you like to ride, you can customize the Lobo Loco Scavenger Hunt to how you want to do it.  We ended up being the only people to make it to the bee beard for huge points because it was in the middle of nowhere and was only happening for about half an hour (no one else was crazy or quick enough to try it!).  Our half assed approach got us the top bee keeping score and the longest ride iron butt award.

If you're looking for a single day event that is both fun and will show you new places you'd never otherwise find in your own backyard, the Lobo Loco Rally is your ticket.  The first ride this year (the WTF Rally) happens on Sunday, June 11th.  Here are the specs from the website:

WTF Rally
"Weird Things Found"
... or something like that...
Sunday, June 11th, 2017
This is our first of 4 Events for 2017.  We're going to start the season off with an easier and fun Scavenger Hunt Rally.  You'll be rolling through the back roads of Southern Ontario stopping to take pictures of some of the most bizarre roadside items, signs, or places... things that will make you say, "WTF?!"
8 Hour Rally - Remote Start
​8:00am Start
Start ANYWHERE in Southern Ontario.
The Finish Line is in Woodstock, ON
Scoring begins at 3:00pm
Time Penalties begin to accrue at 4:00pm
DNF if not at the Finish Line by 5:00pm

​$80 per Rider, or $100 for 1 Bike - 2 Up Team Riders

I'm aiming to be there.  Hope to see you at the buffet.  Sign up here.

The stop in Lucan had us wanting to return to get some garage art...

Over an hour on sand and sand covered pavement getting to a single stop on the shores of Lake Huron was our biggest navigational error (too much time for too little reward).  Even then, it helped get us the iron butt high mileage award and it was all part of the adventure.

Friday 24 March 2017

MotoGP 2017 Season: It Has Begun!

Is it just me or did Cal just say something rude before the picture was taken?

MotoGP starts this weekend in Qatar.  Maverick Viñales has launched his first season on the championship capable Yamaha with zeal, topping the time sheets in early free practice.

This year's shakeup, with new riders in many teams, promises to stir in some chaos.  Marquez doesn't seem to be able to catch Viñales and this tends to make the volatile Spaniard crashy and dangerous.  A newer, more mature Marques appeared last year more intent on getting points than always being out front, but that was tempered by him actually being out front sometimes.  If Maverick runs away and Marc gets frustrated, this could make for a very interesting season.

I think Lorenzo will only improve as he develops the Ducati into the instrument he needs it to be.  He might be a surprise on Sunday.  I'm a Rossi fan through and through, but unless he can sort out the bike (and if anyone can the Doctor can), he will be an afterthought.  Speculation is already rife around that, but don't give up on the old dog yet, he's still got some new tricks I think.

Not to wish ill on anyone, but if Maverick can knock the cocky Marques back a step,  Lorenzo sorts out his Ducati and Rossi does what he always does and remains relevant against all odds, this could turn into a four-or-more-way run at the championship across at least three manufacturers.  That would be epic.  If Dani and Iannone could find form and the rookies (especially Zarco, I love Zarco) keep nipping at their heels, this could be a perfect storm.

... and there's always Cal Crutchlow to shock and awe when no one thinks he will.  This year might be one for the history books.

Marc has put me off and I've always found it difficult to like Lorenzo, but Maverick is much like Dani Pedrosa. I'd be happy with either of these gentlemen winning a championship, though it looks like Maverick is leading the charge.

Tuesday 21 March 2017

March Break

Snow storms and freezing temperatures, but I managed to squeeze a quick ride up and down the river on Sunday afternoon just before it was back to work time.

I am here to steal Firefox!

Snow in the gullies...

That's a quality Ontario paved road

Everything on here came off the 360Fly4k camera.  

Stills pulled off the 360Fly Director software.  

The video was just dumped onto Youtube because the Director software won't render video.  Quite frustrating... they need an update.  When you run the point of view video editor it just doesn't seem to pick up the rendering thread.

Monday 20 March 2017

A Little Natural Sunlight

With snow and cold all week it's been a garage door closed situation, but the sun came out on the last day of the break and that full spectrum light likes to point out details for the camera.  And so here is a little industrial art courtesy of Triumph and Kawasaki:

Old bikes tell stories...

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Were I Home

March Break in the UK is a very different proposition to March Break in Ontario, Canada.  Here we're looking at freezing temperatures, snow storms and general misery.  Everyone who was able has left.  A few minutes outside today in -20° wind chill left me broken.  Back home it's mid to high teens with sunny spring days and flowers blooming.,+UK/Burnham+Market/Docking,+United+Kingdom/Little+Walsingham/Binham+Priory,+United+Kingdom/Holt,+United+Kingdom/Sheringham,+UK/@52.5765983,0.5092616,39429a,20y,32.27h,48.69t/data=!3m1!1e3!4m44!4m43!1m5!1m1!1s0x47d7420507fe2853:0x28893ae0d0038bb1!2m2!1d1.2109589!2d52.944421!1m5!1m1!1s0x47d79c72ddd583fb:0x4f530fb307bca40f!2m2!1d0.730548!2d52.9459298!1m5!1m1!1s0x47d79a58658420b3:0x67607f9abfd74be0!2m2!1d0.623673!2d52.900964!1m5!1m1!1s0x47d7773ec8894047:0xf4debb646673fe03!2m2!1d0.8753991!2d52.8959389!1m5!1m1!1s0x47d77107648dde6d:0xaf597e6138722b04!2m2!1d0.94664!2d52.920277!1m5!1m1!1s0x47d768147573d50b:0x8966fb6feeb2b4bc!2m2!1d1.086747!2d52.909359!1m5!1m1!1s0x47d7420507fe2853:0x28893ae0d0038bb1!2m2!1d1.2109589!2d52.944421!3e0?hl=enWere I home I'd be rolling the Triumph Speed Triple out of the shed and going for a ride along the North Norfolk coast.  It'd be cool but clear.  Norfolk roads are medieval narrow, especially out in the country.  With tall hedge rows and few shoulders you don't travel at break neck speed, but that's kind of the point.

Enroute I'd be passing by small fishing villages, medieval priories and castle ruins.  Lunch stops could be any one of a dozen centuries old pubs.  When not doing that, pulling up a a seaside layby to watch the waves roll in would beat frostbite any day.

Do I ever miss being home sometimes.

Speaking of which, a nice little house on Beeston Hill is going for about £200k.  With a shed in the backyard to park up the motorbikes in, I'd have the ideal place to ride out into Norfolk from, and it's less than a mile from each of the two houses I grew up in.

What would I do on these beautiful spring days?  Familiarize myself with the back roads of the country I grew up in for eight years before being emigrated to the land of ice and snow.  A Triumph Scrambler might be a better choice for going off piste in deepest, darkest Norfolk where mud is the norm rather than the exception.

I'd be sharing roads that generations of my people have ridden on two wheels.  Maybe while out on those roads I'll meet up with some family ghosts and be able to go riding with them for a while...

My great Aunt died on a motorbike before I was born.  I imagine she's still
out there in spirit enjoying those scenic county lanes.
That old Coventry Eagle disappearing around the hedgerow ahead of me could be Grandad Morris out for a spirited ride.

A modern roadster to tackle twisting Norfolk lanes single handed?
... or the more tractor like Scrambler to occasionally get dirty on the tractor splattered lanes of rural Norfolk?

Monday 13 March 2017

Updated 3d Modelling Software on Motorcycles

I've had a Structure Sensor for a couple of years now.  They keep updating the software and firmware and improving the detail capture of the device.  After the last round of updates I spent some time in the garage while it's -20°C and snowing outside in March to test out that new detail.

You get all the Structure software with the scanner, but you can also use third party apps to operate the device.  Itseez3d is one of those apps, but I always found it quite buggy.  That all seems to be behind it with the latest update.

                naked concours: Scan of the Concours in the garage using Itseez3d and the Structure Sensor
                by timking17 click on it to open, then you can scroll in to zoom and drag to move it around
                on Sketchfab

The model above is on Sketchfab, but itseez3d is doing 
something like it on its own website.  The detail seems similar on both.  I'd never been able to get a stable large scale model out of itseez3d before, I could this time.  The level of detail and how well it paints the surface of the model using the ipad's camera to catch colour and texture is impressive.  The pictures on the left are the Tiger inside and out as a model on the itseez3d site.

Even with the Structure software I'm finding that the quality of detail in the 3d models the scanner produces are always improving.  A boxed capture of the front section of the Tiger was a way of working close enough to take in a lot of compound curves and mechanical parts to see how well the Structure sensors lasers could feel out those details.  It's producing smoother, more accurate models than ever.

Sunday 12 March 2017

Bike Van

I've been stuck on the Ford Transit Van probably due to my Guy Martin fixation, but there are other choices for a motorcycle carrying vehicle.  I'd been looking at the full sized, extended Transit that is lucky to break 20mpg, but the Transit Connnect is a smaller, more frugal van that will just fit the Tiger while getting more than 30mpg.  It's also on the road for thousands less than the big one.

The Dodge Ram Promaster City cargo van is another choice in the smaller van category.  It seems to beat the Transit in cargo size (the Tiger fits inside it and it's likely to be the largest bike I'd ever transport).  It also gets the best mileage.  Comes in yellow too!

Nissan makes the NV200.  It's the smallest in terms of dimensions and engine (a 2.0l 4 cylinder), and gets the best mileage.  The Tiger wouldn't fit height or length wise in it, but a smaller bike would.

Looking at the three, I think the Dodge gets the nod, though the Transit Connect is within a whisker of it in every category and it starts quite a bit cheaper than the Dodge:

Every one of these manufacturers build a next-size up industrial version of these models.  Nissan makes the NV Cargo, which comes with a big V6 or V8 and gets 20mpg.  The fully sized Ford Transit is similar.  Dodge makes the Ram Promaster which comes with an optional 3.0l eco-diesel that gets an impressive 21/29mpg in a big vehicle.  

If efficiency is the goal, that big Dodge is in a class of its own.  Similar mileage to the little guys but in a van that I could pretty much stand up in and would carry not one by two Tigers.

It too comes in stunning yellow.  A nice Mechanical Sympathy screen on there and I'd be off to winter motorcycling trips, track days and picking up old bikes!

I think I might be over my Ford Transit fixation, but the whole van thing ain't cheap.  Perhaps I can engineer a change to a cage that offers a lot of utility instead of just being what I drive when I can't ride.

This one's got 5k on it with the balance of warranty for $33k.  It still handily swallows the Tiger with inches to spare.  That'd do...

Friday 10 March 2017

Too Far Gone

Bike Magazine had an excerpt from Todd Blubaugh's Too Far Gone in the last issue.  The excerpt was so moving that I just got up and purchased the book on Amazon.

My favourite motorcycle reads have been the philosophical ones that dig deep.  The 'I rode very far every day' travel trips don't always get to the why's of the trip, often getting stuck in the trivial details.  The result ends up feeling like a travel advertisement rather than showing the real power of a journey.

Alternately, you have the books that aim directly at motorcycle culture but end up being dimensionless descriptions of it, hyping up the excitement of the ride without making any attempt to understand why people would take these risks and identify with such a divisive cultural icon.  

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was one of the first books to go deep, showing the depths to which some motorcyclists dive when out in the wind.  Anything by Matt Crawford does the same thing for mechanics in general, although he comes from a place of motorbikes.  Deep thoughts while flying through time and space on two wheels are kind of the point for me.  If I just wanted to go fast, I'd do it in a car or a plane.  There is something elemental about motorcycling that zens you into the moment.  The immediacy of it makes you honest.

After reading a few pages of excerpts in BIKE, I'm looking forward to reading not so much about Todd's travels but about his insights.  The motorcycle isn't the point, but it's one of the best vehicles for taking you to eureka that I've found, and I'm more willing to follow an author to those moments of enlightenment on two wheels because I believe in the medium.

Wednesday 8 March 2017

March Break

The dream March Break trip? Load the Tiger into the back of the trusty Ford Transit Van and head south to a place where the weather won't suck all week; it will here. While snow is flying during the most pointless school break in Ontario, I'd be driving one thousand kilometres south to Virginia to chase the waterfalls my cousin suggested in January. 

The drive down has us doing an eleven hour slog to Roanoke, Virginia on some back roads through the Allegheny Forest and down through the Adirondacks into the Appalachian Mountains before finally landing at the Hampton Inn off Interstate 81 just outside of Roanoke.

Once in Roanoke we'd put our feet up for the night and then take one of three routes over the next three days.

The weather is lovely: mid-high teens all week, rather than the zero degree snow we've got going on here all week.

Yeah, it'd be cool, but it wouldn't be painful, and the roads would be salt free and winding through the mountains.  To top it all off those waterfalls would be plump from all the run off.  It'd be a photography and media making dream.  The mountains would be blooming in early spring and I'd have the cameras on hand to catch that moment on two wheels.

Each day we'd loop back to Roanoke before heading out in a different direction the next day.  Thanks to all the mountain roads there would be virtually no overlap between loops with each offering unique sites.  Having the same base camp also means the bike will be light on gear and ready to explore the mountains.

Leaving on a Monday morning, we'd be in Roanoke Monday night and ready for a Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday of motorcycle riding from waterfall to waterfall before making the ride back north into the snow and darkness on Friday.

It's not a crazy expensive week.  Under five hundred bucks for hotel then gas and food money.  Two long distance highway days would be all about gas and quick food stops. $200 would feed the van, another $60 would cover the bike.  Five days of food on the road could probably be done for $250.  All in that's a thousand dollar holiday.   The three days in Virginia would be all about slow lunches and dinners and riding between photogenic waterfalls.

Of course, the ongoing issue is not having the bike delivery system.  Mid-winter isn't the worst time to be a motorcyclist in Canada.  The worst time is the end of the off season when the snow is fading but the winter weather hangs on week after week, prolonging the caged life.

Sunday 5 March 2017

Sourcing Parts and Kawasaki Master Brake Cylinders

The rear brake light I ordered on Amazon in December decided to show up today.   I'm going to pass it on to Jeff's BMW cafe racer project and I think I'm done with four month delivery times from Amazon.  Time to source my parts elsewhere I think.  I'm curious to see how soon the rear brake light I got instead from eBay takes.  I have a feeling it's going to make the Amazon Marketplace delivery times look sketchy.

Meanwhile, a coolant overflow tank and master brake cylinder kit arrived for the Concours in a timely fashion from Fortnine.  I wish they'd start stocking customization pieces like those all in one LED lighting systems.

The tank looks like it'll fit nicely on the battery case.  It isn't as big as the stock one, but the stock one isn't that big anyway.  I've routed the coolant overflow tube and it fits nicely down the spine of the bike.  Where it's placed means the overflow pipe can stick out the side and not dump in the path of the rear tire.

The master brake cylinder kit took a bit of work to get into.  Getting it off the bike was easy enough, but getting the compression ring out took some fiddling.  I've replaced the rubbers on the cylinder and I'm ready to put it back together again, but the kit came with 2 copper rings that don't seem to be on the original, so I'm going to figure out where they go before I reassemble.

Brake handle and electronic switch removal was straightforward.  The only tricky bit was the snap ring that holds in the master cylinder.  Compressing the cylinder while getting a pair of compression pliers in there
to squeeze the ring into the groove on the cylinder is swear worthy.

The old outer gasket was in pieces before I even started pulling it out.  Rubbers don't typically last 24 years.
Fancy people pay for that kinda patina - mine comes virtue of the bike being 23 years old and Canadian.

The old gaskets and spring on the cylinder

New gaskets and springs ready to install - as soon as I figure out where the copper rings go.

I don't see copper rings on there anywhere.  I'm still not sure why the
All Balls Racing master cylinder kit has them, but have them it does.