Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Travelling with the house

One of the hardest decisions all motorcycle riders have to make at some point before a trip will be what equipment, tools, clothes and other items to carry on the motorcycle adventure.  I have ridden my motorcycle all over the USA and Canada both on short and long rides and have had to make the hard choices.   I am lucky that I have lots of storage on my motorcycle, a luxury not everyone has but the more space you have the more things somehow accumulate as you prepare for a trip.  The more equipment the heavier the motorcycle will be too, not the ideal scenario.


What you carry will depend if you will be staying in motels or camping.  When camping you will have to carry the tent, the sleeping pad, the sleeping bag and cooking equipment.  If you going through very cold weather a much heavier sleeping bag and pad will be needed. The type of weather you are likely to run into will also affect the clothes needed.  You might start the trip from a hot location and end up traveling through cold mountains or high altitudes were it will most likely be cold.  You will need clothes for warm and cold days.  You have to be prepared for the unexpected too.


Then there's the electronic devices and chargers.  Almost everyone carries a phone and a small camera at a minimum and the two chargers that go with it.  If you are a photographer like me than a bigger camera and lens or multiples lenses are a must.  I usually carry my Canon T3i with the 18-135mm lens.  I also carry my 10-22mm wide-angle for the landscape shots.  The camera will need a charger and a spare battery. A tripod is another good option.  If you are a blogger than a laptop is a necessity.  I have a small laptop and since I don't trust laptop hard drives I carry a small portable hard drive for backups.  The laptop requires another power supply but you can get external USB drives that do not need a power supply, they get the power from the USB port.  I carry a 320GB drive with me.  I recently bought a Chromebook to carry on my future trips, it weighs less than 3 pounds.  The power supply is smaller than most.  The photos below show how I prepared for my trip to Alaska.



The duration of the trip and location will throw another curve into the decision.  Everyone should have a few basic tools but if the trip is to remote locations you might need a better assortment of tools.  You might even have to carry tires if the country you are traveling through doesn't have them.  You will have to think about fuel, will your motorcycle have the range needed for certain areas.
The photo below shows how my Super Tenere was loaded the day before my 34 day trip to Alaska. I camped most of the time, I'm a good packer.


The size of your motorcycle will determine how much equipment you can carry too.  On my Super Tenere I can carry quite a load but some world riders ride much smaller bikes.  I'm reading a blog of a woman travelling around the world on a Honda CRF250.  I followed the couple below as they traveled around the world on two SYM Symba 110.  You can read about their adventure here:
Underboning the World - 2 Symbas, 1 Couple, No Sense


I have also seen riders that go completely overboard with their equipment to the point of making the motorcycle dangerous to ride in my opinion.  If you have to ride through soft sand or mud you want the weight on the bike as low as possible and if you tip over you have to be able to pick the bike up again by yourself.  Below are two examples of amazingly overloaded motorcycles.


Now if money was no objection and I was going to travel the world for a few years then maybe something like the truck below would be better.  I would drive the truck to a new country or location, park it and then use the motorcycle to explore the country.   I could have all the amenities of a home and still have the motorcycle for short distance adventures.
When I was in Alaska I met a German couple that was traveling the world in one of these but they were not carrying a motorcycle.  For me a motorcycle would be a requirement.


The trucks are great but the cost of the truck and the transportation to different countries can make it extremely expensive.  A truck like the one above can cost up to a half a million dollars.
So as you prepare for you next big adventure, think about what you will need, make a list and then remove half the stuff.  You can always buy equipment as needed.  Maybe you don't need heavy clothes for cold days for half your trip, you could pack light and later buy or have the warmer clothes shipped to a location on your trip or vice versa, start with heavier clothes and equipment and then ship it home when it is no longer needed.  If you are traveling with a companion and both have the same motorcycle, maybe you can split the tools.  If you are a couple traveling together on two motorcycles than one can carry the tent and sleeping bag while the other can carry the cooking utensils and sleeping pads. One carries the computer and the other the cameras.  What's important is that you travel as light as possible while still prepared for the unexpected.
If you have to carry the house on the motorcycle than it's no longer a motorcycle adventure.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Yamaha XJR 1300

I have dreamed about customizing a motorcycle and do my own interpretation of a Cafe Racer for a long time. I purchased a Suzuki GS850 a while back as the starting point, it's a 4 cylinder carburetor fed engine with a shaft drive. The bike has the stocky look I want in my project.   Unfortunately finances didn't go the way I wanted and with my son graduating from college and my daughter soon going to college I had to put everything on hold.
This is my Suzuki GS850


Yamaha Europe sells the Sports Heritage Range which includes the XJR1300, the model is not sold in the USA.  I think it's a mistake for Yamaha not to offer this model here.  I think it would appeal to a large group of young and old riders that are into customizing motorcycles.  The XJR1300’s slim racer-style fuel tank shows off the aggressive large displacement air-cooled muscular engine.  I love the look of the XJR with it's black 4-2-1 exhaust.


Yamaha created the XJR1300 with the intention of having it customized by the owners.  To help jump start the market for custom parts, Yamaha challenged custom builders from around the world to provide inspirational ideas on how to transform modern Yamaha models into what Yamaha calls ‘Yard Built specials.’  Each builder is then given the opportunity to produce and sell custom aftermarket kits to sell to Yamaha customers.




Various garages around the world took up the challenge and came up with wonderful takes on the XJR design.  Below are some of the offerings.

The Yamaha XJR1300 Monkeefist by the Wrenchmonkees in Denmark





Deus XJR-X by Deus Ex Machina in Italy



Japanese custom bike builder Keinosuke ‘Keino’ Sasaki stunning XJR1300.




The Eau Rouge XJR1300 by Deus Ex Machina in Italy




Friday, January 30, 2015

2015 MotoGP

I have been following MotoGP for a few years and since I own a Super Tenere I root for Yamaha.  Last time Yamaha won the championship was in 2012 with Jorge Lorenzo.  The past two years have been dominated by Marc Márquez on the Repsol Honda.

Yamaha YZR-M1 GP


For 2015 the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP factory team will continue with the same pair of successful riders they have been running for the past two years.  On the number 99 will be 2 time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo and on the number 46 the 7 time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi.



The 2015 Yamaha YZR-M1 looks pretty much the same as last year's since rules hardly change but there's no doubt the bike YZR-M1 has been vastly improved.




Jorge Lorenzo is the 2006 and 2007 250cc World Champion and the 2010 and 2012 MotoGP World Champion.


Valentino Rossi won the 125cc category championship for Aprilia in 1997.  He then moved to the 250cc category with Aprilia and won the 250cc World Championship in 1999. In 2001 he won the 500cc World Championship with Honda and the MotoGP World Championships in 2002 and 2003 with Honda again.  He then left Honda to join Yamaha and won the MotoGP in 2004 and 2005. Rossi won two more times with Yamaha in 2008 and 2009 before leaving for Ducati.  He returned to Yamaha in 2013 finishing 4th in the Championship and continued in 2014 finishing in 2nd behind Marc Márquez.


The front end brakes on a MotoGP bike do most of the ‘stopping’ work.  Corner speeds are crucial to success in MotoGP and if a rider can brake later than his competitors he can lap quicker.  With carbon brakes like these on the Yamaha YZR-M1 GP, Lorenzo and Rossi won't have a problem slowing down.



MotoGP will return on March 29th to the Losail International Circuit for the Grand Prix of Qatar.  May the best rider win.


The Yamaha grid girls will be there to offer support to the Yamaha riders.



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Track Oldies

When I was a kid my dad used to take me to the track to see car and motorcycle races and to this day I still love anything with speed.  My heart would race, my adrenalin would shoot up at the screaming sound of the late 60's and early 70's motorcycles.  It was an amazing feeling to be around all these privateers and their smoking 2-strokes machines.  I was born in Mozambique, we never had any major championship compete there, all racers were privates and races consisted of a plethora of different motorcycles.

Last year I attended an event at the New Jersey Motorsport Park and these are some of the motorcycles at the track.


My dad had a BSA before I was born, I never got to see it but have heard lots of stories about his adventures.


 




I have a large collection of diecast model cars and will be posting pictures of some of them on another post but a few years ago, just before my son left for college, we were cleaning his room and found a stash of toys.  In between all the toys there were a few diecast cars which I kept and a few plastic motorcycles.  I couldn't throw them away so now they sit on a shelf in my office.






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