Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Honeymoon Report

When you buy a new motorcycle you go through three stages just like in your love life.  At first you fall in love, everything is just beautiful, maybe it's the color, maybe it's the shape or even the sound, you are blind to the imperfections, you are in love and all is rosy.

Then you go through the honeymoon phase where you now live together and have to accept each other, nothing can go wrong, you love everything and are together all the time, always touching, feeling each other, there might be a few hiccups, the rosy moments can turn blue but all is still covered by love.

After a while the honeymoon is over and now you have to accept the fact that there might be some dark moments, moments when you might hate each other and everything turns black, but now you have to live with the good and the bad as you are now stuck for the duration of the loan.

I'm happy to have gone through the first stage, it was a long courtship but we finally got together.  Now the honeymoon phase starts and we can finally go places together and enjoy each other.  I took her out on Saturday to meet my friends for the first time with a little apprehension, you never know how they going to react to your new love.

I had organized to meet at the Brass Ring Cafe in Hopewell where my friends would be waiting to have lunch and then we would take a ride to the Van Sant Airport in Pennsylvania, a local hangout for bikers. It wasn't going to be a long ride, just long enough to get accustomed to each other.

I have to say she's very comfortable, a little tall but since she's light on her feet I can handle her well.  The exceptionally compact 1199cc parallel twin with a unique 270° crank makes wonderful sounds. The combination offers excellent torque and traction and the engine mass is kept low for excellent handling.  The narrow 2-cylinder inline engine is slim and compact with two engine maps.  "Touring" for when you just want to enjoy the scenery, give her throttle and she gently pulls away in no rush, smoothness is her character. "Sport" when you want to be rough and play dirty.  I was surprised the first time I put her in "Sport" mode how she completely changed, give her a little throttle and she throws you back, you get propelled like you were shot out of a canon, no apologies, just a brute force from low rpm's all the way to the red line. It's a "Jekyll and Hyde" feeling, two distinct personalities.

I arrive at the Cafe with her and the guys are bowing to us, they are instantly in love with her, the looks, the sound, how skinny and light she is, we both felt the love.  My brother asks me to go around so he can film it with his Iphone and that's when I ran into her twin sister, different color but just as beautiful.  I wave and she comes over to join the party.

I had originally fallen in love and picked the "Raven" back in September 2010.  After about two months I changed my mind after some members of the family suggested the "Impact Blue" was nicer.  I reluctantly changed my order but I had instructed the dealer that I did not want to fall out of line and if changing the color was going to affect delivery than forget it since I loved them both. I'm not sure what happened but something was lost in the translation. Two weeks ago the dealer finally called to tell me my "Raven" Super Ténéré had arrived.  I was surprised but the "Raven" had been my first love after all.  They are both beautiful but I definitely prefer the "Raven" and would not change a thing on her.

L to R - Yous trully, Paul (my brother), Wayne, Jack, Duke and Jeff

After lunch we head to the airport crossing into Pennsylvania in Frenchtown.  I am finally able to open her a little, the twin downdraft fuel injection throttle delivering acceleration with precise throttle response.  She glides through the air taking the twisty part of route 32 with an unbelievable lightness.   Compared to my previous love, she's nimble and I feel I have complete control over her.  I throw her left and right and she responds with complete confidence.  We arrive at the airport and I decide to test how good her traction really is.

I take her on the grass and give her a little twist on the throttle.  Her 3-position Traction Control lets me get on the gas with confidence, I give her a little more throttle and I finally feel her wheels spin just a little, her brain regulating the ignition timing and fuel injection based on wheel spin, she pulls away with hardly a complaint.  I didn't turn the traction control off, she's too new for me to get rough with her. Three modes are available to match my riding style.

She has both an Antilock Braking System (ABS) and Unified Braking System. With the Unified Braking System, squeezing the front brake alone also provides some rear-wheel braking; pressing the rear brake first overrides the Unififed Braking System for traditional separate front and rear braking action.  I didn't have the courage to test her ABS but the unified braking system works extremely well allowing the use of the front brake with confidence.  I accelerated and then braked hard on the long road leading to the airport and she responded by slowing down like someone had dropped an anchor behind us with nary a fuss.

With an adjustable seat and windshield, her body components helping protect the legs against cold weather, her side mounted radiator extracting the engine heat through the side vents, the grooved foot pegs with rubber cushions which provide excellent comfort while sitting while letting the rider’s boots contact the metal foot peg surface when standing to tackle more technical riding conditions, I feel comfortable we will have a long relationship and will travel together on many new adventures.

I return to the group and park her next to the other ladies.  My brother's BMW GS1200 Adventure, two Triumph ST's, a Triumph Trophy and a BMW R1200RT. I'm sure the newcomer had lots to talk about.
We sat in the shade under the trees, watched the gliders take off and discussed the better things in life, woman and motorcycles.

We leave the airport and head home passing through the town of New Hope, the future ahead of us.

I am now working on a few additions that will enhance my Yamaha Super Ténéré and make our travels more comfortable.  I'm still enjoying my honeymoon, she's all I expected and more.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ride it like you Stole it

I picked up my new Yamaha Super Ténéré last Friday and on Monday afternoon the bike was ready for its first 600 mile service. I rode it like I had stolen it.
As most of you know I had put a deposit sight unseen last September and had been waiting for the bike since then.  I had a chance to see and sit on one for the first time last January at the NY Motorcycle Show.  I had not heard the engine running live, only on various Youtube videos made by Ténéré owners around the world.  I had taken a leap of faith with Yamaha.   I am very happy with my choice to purchase this wonderful machine.  It's everything I thought it was going to be and more.
I had asked the dealer to call me as soon as the Yamaha truck delivered the bike.  On Friday, July 29th they called and I dropped everything and headed to the dealer in a hurry.  The box was out back and still closed.  I opened the box myself and was finally able to see my Super Ténéré.

The dealer was closed on Monday but by Tuesday my bike was being assembled.  On Friday I left work early and headed to the dealer to pick up the bike. I heard the engine running for the first time, a big 1200cc engine that sounds like a big thumper, it was music to my ears.

Yamaha started distributing the bikes to dealers at the end of July and some owners had already received their bikes by the end of the month but most of the owners reporting they had picked up the bikes were from the south. On Saturday, August 6th, I went out for my first ride and to introduce the bike to my friends, to my amazement I ran into another owner near the meeting place with a blue Ténéré.  Later in the day while riding in Pennsylvania we ran into another owner, this time a black one just like mine.

I will be writing a full report soon but in the mean time here's a video made by my brother when I rode to meet the group at the Brass Ring Cafe in Hopewell NJ.

First Ride

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Scorching BMW MOA Rally

If I had to pick two words to describe the BMW MOA Rally (Motorcycle Owners of America) it would have to be SCORCHING and HUMID.  By Sunday my brain was cooked from the 100+ degrees at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds, my occipital lobe had slowed down to a crawl, it had stopped interpreting information from the retinas of the eyes, and the thinking function had stopped operating completely, drinking beer did not help.
The four days I spent camping were so hot that by the time I got home the bike was at least 50 pounds lighter, either I lost a lot of weight or I might have left stuff behind, in either case, who cares, I was riding, I had fun and that's all it matters.

I attended last years rally in Redmond Oregon with my brother, this year we had Wayne join us for the trip.  The weather guys had predicted 95 degrees for Thursday, I decided to meet Wayne at his house, about 45 minutes from mine and leave early, my brother would meet us there later, he works nights and it would be difficult for him to get up early.

I was stopped in front of Wayne's house loaded and ready to hit the road at 8am.  We had 160 miles ahead of us, about 2.5 hours riding.  We head across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania and cut north on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Extension.  About halfway up we pass a red pickup truck with two BMW motorcycles on a trailer, one of them looks familiar to me, a red K75 also known as the flying brick.  Wayne riding a Triumph Sprint ST waves his finger at them, pointing out the fact that BMW's should be ridden to the rally, not taken on a trailer as most riders of another motorcycle marque usually do.   Wayne likes to stir trouble.
With the temperature climbing faster than fireworks on a 4th of July, we pull in to a rest area for a drink and some refuge from the heat.  We had parked the bikes and were about to go inside when a certain red pickup comes around, here comes trouble was my first thought.  The pickup slows down as it rounds the parking area, I throw a glance at it and see a big guy smiling at me instead of an angry face.  I turn around and I'm faced with Jack Riepe's smile, we immediately recognize each other.  You see, Jack has this blog called "Twisted Roads By Jack Riepe" which I have been following for a long time and he had recently started reading mine but we had never met.  We had exchanged a few e-mails and had planned on meeting at the rally during his seminar.    We introduce ourselves, shake hands, I excuse my friend's actions as just another hooligan Triumph rider and we all move inside to chat.  I will leave it to Jack to explain why he was not riding his flying brick, the very famous K75 AKA "Fireballs".

After registering ourselves we head to the camping area and proceed to setup our tents.  Less than an hour later and already sweating, we head to the vendor area but after a while we make our way to the main building where the air conditioners were running full blast and we knew we could take refuge from the heat.  Inside the building there's a large collection of old BMW's, NSU's, a single Douglas and a Brough Superior which I had never heard of.  Wayne is a motorcycle expert and he quickly explains to me how rare and expensive they are.  Another expert hears us talking about it and quickly points out the bike we are looking at is worth about $350K.  My mouth must have dropped, I thought only cars went that high. I did some research and was totally amazed with these machines.
Brough Superior motorcycles were made by George Brough in his Brough Superior works in Nottingham, England, from 1919 to 1940. They were dubbed the "Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles".  Approximately 3,048 of 19 models were made in 21 years of production. T. E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") owned seven bikes and died from injuries sustained after crashing one. Wikipedia
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916–18. The extraordinary breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia, a title which was used for the 1962 film based on his First World War activities. Wikipedia
Every motorcycle was test ridden to ensure that it performed to specification, and was personally certified by George Brough. The SS100 model was ridden at 100 mph (160 km/h) or more prior to customer delivery.

SS100 Brough Superior made by George Brough

There was a large display of WWII motorcycles, I have always had a fascination with military hardware and seeing these motorcycles up close was very special, I could almost hear the staccato of the machine guns and the sounds of exploding rounds as I stood there admiring these wonderfully well kept machines.

The Harley-Davidson XA (Experimental Army) was a flat-twin shaft drive motorcycle made by Harley-Davidson for the US Army during World War II. The HD XA was based closely on the BMW motorcycles. Though an excellent machine, only about 1000 were produced. Wikipedia

There were lots of vendors selling BMW parts, I talked to a few that will have parts for the Yamaha Tenere. Altrider, Twisted Throttle, Micatech and a few others were mostly displaying BMW farkles.   There was a guy selling used motorcycles, some weird like the Suzuki Bandit trike and others more of my style like the BMW R1200S, one of the most beautiful motorcycles BMW ever made.

Later in the day we rode into Bloomsburg center and stopped for ice coffee at the Phillips Emporium and Coffee shop, a cute little book store that serves an amazing ice coffee.  Bloomsburg is a little town, in the north eastern part of Pennsylvania, with a population of about 15 thousand.  We then went to Applebees for diner, we knew the air conditioner would be running and the waitresses are always friendly.

The sun woke me up early Friday and I quickly got up.  Today I would attend Jack Riepe's seminar "How To Breathe Life Into A Ride Report Or Motorcycle Story".  I have breakfast and get to the grandstands about an hour early, I wanted to make sure I had a seat on the first row, I knew this was going to be a packed room.  Jacks shows up and immediately the fun starts.  I knew there was trouble when he asked the audience if anyone knew anything about computers, you see, he's an Apple computer guy, his computer did not have the standard VGA plug needed to connect to the projector.  Jack's a good writer but a computer geek he is not.  I volunteered to help, luckily he had the correct adapter, after some hiccups and lots of people suggesting different solutions everything was sorted out when we resorted to rebooting the damn computer.  Jack gave an amazing presentation and I got lots of good information.  His stories and jokes thrilled the attendees for about an hour.  I met John Bunce, Richard Machida and Steve Williams, all fellow bloggers I have been following.  Refer to the end of this post for a list of everyone's blogs.  After the seminar we had lunch at one of the vendors, it was extremely hot under the tent as you can see from the picture, we were all wet like someone had turned a hose on us.  With our eyes burning from all the sweat we still managed to down a pulled pork sandwich with Jack Riepe topping it with hot apple dumplings.  Jack has an amazing rapport with the ladies, a discussion quickly ensued about the type of apples and when they would be at the perfect stage for the apple dumplings.  The poor lady had no idea what she was getting into, last thing I heard she had invited us to come back and try the hot apple dumplings in two months, I only see myself going back perhaps in January when it's nice and cold.

L to R - Jack, Steve, Richard and me
In the afternoon we attended the trials where BMW riders were putting their bikes through hell. I do admire these guys putting their bikes though all kinds of terrain, boulders, water, ruts and mud.  There were a few mishaps but nothing to worry about, after all these are true adventure motorcycles.

The evening couldn't come fast enough, it cooled a little but by 6pm the temperature was still hovering around mid 90's.  We had purchased diner tickets for a meal of authentic German food and BMW had invited a very famous event band from Germany called "Blechblos'n".  The Bavarian group entertained the crowd with excellent German music and American songs but the band brought the house down with funny renditions of Lady Gaga and Tina Turner.

R to L - Wayne, Paul (my brother) and I
The "Blechblos'n"

Click to expand the panoramas

Saturday morning we headed to town for a proper breakfast at the local dinner.  We were standing outside planning the day when a large group of bimmers stopped at the light, there were a few ladies in the group with the pink GS650 being obviously one.  We left town and headed up into the country side following route 44 in a north western direction.  I stopped to take a few pictures of what I thought was a nuclear power station but quickly moved on, didn't want the security guys chasing me down the road.  We passed next to the station and realized it was a coal powered station.

Bush Road, winding road next  3 1/4 miles, I didn't see any problems with the road and we definitely did not follow the suggested  40mph.  We continued through the very hilly and sinuous country side stopping only for a drink.

My brother looks in his GPS and finds out there's a few covered bridges nearby, we plot the course and head to the bridges.  Pretty soon we enter what seemed to be a scene from a Stephen King story, we see lots of detour signs and no matter which direction we followed we ended up on gravel roads and no way out.  Lots of u-turns ensued.  You will notice I'm at this point riding the red Triumph ST, the gold visor being a giveaway, Wayne and I had swapped bikes.  I have always loved the triple sound and I was having lots of fun blipping the throttle on every downshift, the gurgling sound bringing out the hooligan in me.

I had to keep slowing down, the sound of the gravel stones hitting the fairing of the Triumph made me cringe.  My bike is also covered in plastics so we both decided not to continue down gravel roads, I could see the disappointment on my brother's face, of course he wanted to continue, he does ride the big GS1200 Adventure after all.

We were standing by the bridge wondering how nice it would feel to take a swim in the river when a cow started approaching us, we laughed as the cow proceeded to enter the water, I think I detected a smile on the cow.

We return to the campsite just in time to attend the BMW MOA awards ceremony.  We head to the grandstands finding a spot all the way up to escape the sun.  The temperature was about 100 degrees and no wind to help cool us down.  The event organizers had a display of fire shooting cars, very uncharacteristic for BMW riders and pretty soon people were booing. The flames shooting up into the air and blasting the stands with more heat only exacerbated  the agony of the spectators.

Later we moved to the beer garden tent and spent the night listening to various bands, drank beer and enjoyed the night in good company.  The 2011 BMW MOA ended with the last song a little after midnight.

On Sunday morning we quickly take down the campsite and head to Cracker Barrel for a healthy breakfast.  We hit route 80 east and head towards NJ making a stop in New Hope for an Ice Coffee.  I split from my brother and after crossing into NJ make one last stop along the Delaware river in Lambertville.  All the way from Bloomsburg we endured mid 90's temperatures but near the river it felt a little better.  

I continued east towards home knowing my pool was waiting for me, my wife had told me the water was almost 90 degrees.  The last 45 minutes flew by and soon I was parked in front of the garage taking my boots and socks off.  After a quick dash to the backyard I felt much better having jumped in the water with clothes on.  My mom stood there in utter amazement as I fell backwards into the pool while my wife took the pictures.  A few beers later I was feeling much better.

For the first time I saw BMW riders riding around town in shorts and even saw a few without helmets, Pennsylvania has a no helmet law. We don't usually ride without ATGATT but it was so hot that we decided to throw caution into the wind and rode into town in our more casual riding attire.  You will notice my very fashionable plaid shorts, black Nikes with white socks while my brother went for the more Germanic shorts and boots look, having forgotten to bring sneakers.  Wayne, besides the heat, looked very comfortable on his Triumph ST. 

It had been a scorching and humid BMW MOA event but the music, the beer and the camaraderie of the people had made the event special and worth attending.  I got to meet fellow bloggers and extract some valuable information from Jack.
Next year the event is schedule for Sedalia, Missouri in the middle of July, I hope we have a cold wave going by at the time.


Jack Riepe                 Twisted Roads By Jack Riepe
Steve Williams            Scooter in the Sticks
Richard Machida        Richard's Page
John Bunce                John's Alaska