Friday, June 30, 2006

Alaska, here I come again

Tomorrow I’m going to be back in Anchorage. You would think I’d get better at this packing thing, after all this is my third trip to AK since April. It still takes me two evenings to pack, I haven’t gotten any faster at this. I think I’m getting better at sleeping on the plane though.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

New top case rack and ride to Mendota, IL

My ST3 has a new addition, the GIVI (it's actually a Ducati rack) but it's made by GIVI .

Rack install, removing tail piece plastics

Rack for top case

The GIVI mounting plate didn’t come with the rubber stoppers, otherwise I would have taken the top case out for a spin too. I’ve got some coming, so soon I’ll be able to try it out with the top case.

Today was just a short ride, I was gone about 5.5 hours. I took the Olympia Airglide jacket and pants out for a longer ride, to see if they are tour worthy. They did OK, pretty comfortable, it was pretty warm today too, in the upper 80‘s even.

I managed to run in to rain, so instead of heading west and get wet I went south on 251 where the skies were still clear. Then I remembered the cool windmills off 251. I went past them to Mendota, stopped there for a drink and a snack and headed back.

I turned toward Paw Paw to get a closer look at the windmills, they are pretty cool but there was no where to pull over for a picture. The rain was moving in so I jumped on I-39, then it started raining, I got to 64 and headed for home. The temperature dropped and I was almost thinking of putting on the rain liner, I was a bit chilly, but then the rain stopped and it was pleasant again.

Even though I ran in to some rain, the weather was pretty nice today. Traffic was heavy in the suburbs as I got closer to home and even though the days are their longest right now, it was starting to get dark at 8:45PM when I got home.

Monday, June 19, 2006

ST3: Oil Change #3

Today was a special day, I did the first oil change with my own tools on my ST3, it was the 3rd oil change for this bike. Oil change #1 was done at the dealership for the break in service and oil change #2 my friend Rick did at his house before I owned any tools to do my own.

12 Easy Steps

1. Run engine

2. Remove lower right fairing

3. Cover pipe with aluminum foil

4. Open drain plug (10mm hex wrench) and drain oil

Clean metallic particles from the magnetic drain plug

5. Remove outer cover for strainer (14mm hex wrench)

6. Remover strainer itself (14mm hex wrench)

7. Remove old oil filer

8. Fill new oil filer ¾ with oil and rub oil on rubber-o-ring

9. Install new filter

10. Replace drain plug and new crushed washer

11. Fill engine with approx. 3.5 quarts of oil

12. Run engine and look for leaks

Friday, June 16, 2006

Hot weather commuting

With the purchase of my third bike I have decided to start commuting to work regularity since it’s impossible to ride 3 bikes over the two day weekend.

But first I needed to get some gear that I could wear over my work clothes, that I could remove easily and wear in very hot temperatures and also cooler temperatures and in the rain.

I didn’t want to spend too much money

I didn’t want anything black or dark colored

I wanted mesh or vented textiles

I wanted the zip-out liner to be waterproof, not the jacket itself

I liked the looks of the Olympia Airglide and I found a pretty good deal at on last years model. It looks close to this years, my jacket has stripes down the sleeves, this years doesn’t and the liners are different.

BTW, superb service at moto liberty, including a nice e-mail letting me know when the stuff would ship and really quick service. I placed the order on a Monday and I got the stuff on Thursday.

As for the gear, I got to test it out today in 90+ degree weather. I wore jeans under the pants and a t-shirt under the jacket, I was comfortable even sitting in traffic. The gear is pretty comfy, the pants are size 4 and a bit too big on me, but considering that I’m wearing them over jeans, I think I like them a bit loose, plus once I zip the liner in, they will be snug and puffy.

Airglide jacket and pants

I’m actually confused over thickness of the material on this jacket, it’s says it’s 500 denier, like my Marsee jacket, but in reality it’s thinner stuff. The jacket is a small and fits nice when the liner is in, without the liner the sleeves are a bit too wide and flap in the wind a bit, not too bad.
The only issue I really have is with the armor. It moves around in the jacket too much, since the armor just sits in these hanging pockets. The armor is CE approved Motion Flex, it’s thicker stuff, not that foam stuff, but I just think it could be secured better so it doesn't move around. Another thing, the pants ride up on me a bit, the bottoms are kind of narrow, not the biggest deal I guess.

Back of jacket

Over all I can’t complain for the price I paid, it’s pretty decent and the thin-sulated waterproof zip-in liners for the jacket and pants are really convenient. I do think thing I look like a dork wearing it though, I feel like an astronaut or something, I think I’ve been wearing leather for too long.

Olympia Ladies Airglide
Outer shell constructed in 500 denier DuPont Cordura® with ballistic airflow mesh panels.
Waterproof, Thermolite® insulated liner jacket
Removable CE approved Motion Flex armor at elbows and shoulders
Removable CE approved Motion Flex articulated back protector
Cool mesh airflow lining
Custom Fit detailing at collar, cuffs, elbows and waist.
Comfort neoprene collar and neck inserts
3M Scotchlite® reflective piping at front, sides and back.
8” connecting zipper for pants
Five storage pockets

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Second ride: 900SS

Another sort of nasty day out, cold, upper 50’s and rainy. I avoided most of the rain by riding away from the dark clouds, but I still got rained on a bit. The good thing is, the roads have been pretty empty all this weekend since people maybe decided to stay home.

Gloomy day, fun bike

I had on two additional layers today and I was still cold at times. I'm so spoiled with my heated vest and grips on my 954RR and ST3.

Managed to put on 280 miles today. I like the bike even better today then yesterday. My back wasn’t bothering me as much today either. I need to strengthen those back muscles up more.

I though this was a hydraulic clutch, why is it so easy to pull in? I’m not having any problems with it like the one on my ST3. Also, the shifting on the bike is so much smoother and nicer compared to my ST3 and my ST3 has twice as mile son it then the 900SS …Hmmm.

Photo op near the nuclear plant

Stopped by the Rock River again on the way back from Stockton

Saturday, June 10, 2006

First ride: 900SS

A new bike to ride waiting in the garage, and I wake up to rain. It rained, it stopped, it finally dried out and I took off in the afternoon. Since it was late already I guess it was going to be a short ride. The weather people were still forecasting scattered showers in the area and the temperatures were only going to be in the high 50’s and low 60’s.

I geared up and took off toward the west. For the first time ever I actually enjoyed sitting at red lights, each red light was an opportunity to enjoy the sweet music of the dry clutch. That thing is loud. The exhaust starts to sing at 5,000 RPM’s, sounds like a cross between a hippo and trumpet, or a hippo playing a trumpet? Maybe not. The stock exhaust is not very loud and it’s kind of high pitched, I’d like it to be deeper, like the exhaust on my ST3, which is also stock.

It’s amazing that 80HP’s can feel so fast, I guess it’s all the torque. The thing really start moving at 5,000 RPM’s, for cruising 4,500 - 5,500RPM’s is sufficient, just like on the ST3. This bike has a lot of pep, and passing multiple cars was effortless, I wound it up to 8,000 RPM‘s and it shot forward nicely with plenty of power. The bike is peppy, light and nimble and a lot of fun. It corners pretty darn well too, although I didn’t go though any tight corners today, only medium ones and a bunch of sweepers. The cornering was very precise, I pointed the bike and it stayed on course effortlessly. I’m sure the 170 back tire allows the bike to turn in quicker too.

Off route 2 in Grand Detour, IL

The amazing thing is who ever had this bike before me, must have had small hands, both the clutch and brake levers are at setting #2 and the shifter fits my big Lady Daytona boot, I didn’t even have to move it, it was perfect. This bike is as tall as my lowered 954 and the ST3, which has a shaved seat.

I did about 250 miles today and since the sitting position in the 900SS is more aggressive then on the 954 and the ST3, I feel a tiny knot in my lower back, I’m not used to leaning over so much anymore. It’s still a very comfortable bike, I can’t imagine not having Heli-bars though.

Lowden State Park

I arrived home at night, the headlight was pretty bright. I was sort of cold only having on two layers and the jacket. Yep, I said I wanted to do a short ride today, but I was just enjoying myself too much to stop. Even when it started raining, I didn’t want to go home, it didn’t rain much or hard, but the clouds stayed with me all afternoon and evening.

A nice clean mirror window in Oregon, IL

I’m very happy with this bike so far, it’s such a sweet ride. Totally different from my ST3 and 954RR. The only thing is, I feel the bike just doesn't lean enough while it's on the kickstand. This one is even worst then my ST3.

Friday, June 09, 2006

My 900SS is home

Dry clutch sounds sweet, but this bike needs an after market exhaust pronto!

Made it home just in time, but I still managed to get sprinkled with some rain

I had to see what I look like on it, feels comfortable, looks comfortable

What a bunch of nice bikes

Thursday, June 08, 2006

My other Ducati is a 900SS

Goofy day today, I went to MCC in Villa Park to order a service manual for the ST3 and by the time I walked out I bought a bike.

Couldn’t pass this up, a super clean 2000 Ducati 900SS with 3,600 miles. The previous owner was also short so he had a Corbin seat made that allowed him to reach the ground better. Also, this bike has Heli-bars, the two mods that I would have to make anyway.

The bike needs new tires though, the ones on there are 6 years old and as hard as a rock. I ordered Metzeler M1’s, I’ll bring the bike home after the new tires are mounted.

Super clean

Corbin seat


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Day 2 Flat 4 Tour: Osseo, WI

After some breakfast at the truck stop, my group took off, it was already in the 60’s at 9am and very pleasant. Andy lead the way.

A small dam South of Mindoro, WI

I was taking pictures, so my group got to the gas station in Bangor first, I sill had to do a few things, so they left and I was going to meet up with them in Rockton at the BBQ place for lunch. The group did a few laps though Wildcat Mountain, I went straight to Rockton, so I got there first. By 11:50AM the place started to fill up with Harleys. The F4T groups pulled in a bit after noon, the place was already pretty busy.

I had the usual, the shrimp burger, it was great and only $3. After lunch we decided to change the route a bit and head toward Baraboo to ride the free ferry in Merrimac. Two smaller groups decided to merge and ride as one, but few others and I were in the back of the group and we got left behind when no one waited at the road the group turned on.

I decided to lead the group to the ferry using the most direct way in order to catch up to the other group. We made it to Baraboo and we were glad that we got left behind, a lot of the people from the other group were pulled over by the Police, apparently for speeding.

We waited for them at the gas station, I had some killer coffee and Oreo ice cream in a cone. Some people jetted home and some came with us. Since we had one Wisconsin rider with us, he led us to the ferry, taking a bunch of cool roads.

Waiting for the ferry

The ferry is here

Cool, a FREE ferry ride, never been before

On the Merrimac ferry

From there we jumped on the interstate, I took the exit for Janesville and took back roads all the way arriving in Chicagoland around 8PM. Today’s weather was even better than yesterday, just perfect.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Day 1 Flat 4 Tour: Osseo, WI

The ST3 still needed an oil change, I took the 954RR for the two day ride to Wisconsin, about 400 miles away. Since I just flew back from Alaska Wednesday on the red eye, arriving Thursday morning with barely any sleep, I still needed to get some rest this morning. I decided to get up a bit later and meet everyone in Dubuque, IA at the lunch spot, but my back tire needed air and I left even later then anticipated, I wasn't going to make Iowa for lunch, so I decided to stay on I-90 and meet up with the group in Lansing, IA. I still had plenty of time to get there.

The traffic was heavy on I-90 and there was construction through the toll areas, since they are converting them to open road tolling currently. At the last toll in Illinois, the traffic came to a halt and after about 30 minutes of stop and go traffic and not seeing any exits ahead, I decided to do some lane splitting. I got ahead a bit, but not much, it was another 15-20 minutes before I passed though the toll and was finally in Wisconsin.

162 just past 14

I took the exit for 60 and started to enjoy the sweepers right away, then took 14, stopping in Viroqua for a small lunch at the gas station. I lost a lot of time in traffic on I-90 so now I didn’t even think I was going to make Lansing, IA by 3PM either. I was just going to head to Osseo, WI.

Cool fish in Onalaska, WI on 35 on the Mississippi River

Mississippi River

14 was detoured ahead to 162, which was awesome, since 162 is a really great road, plenty of curves and wonderful pavement. I arrived at 35, The River Road, and kept going North, then I took 93 and finally 53 and arrived in Osseo. I was the first one here so I relaxed at a gas station with some iced tea, but after about 30 minutes there was still no one here. I decided to head down 53 and just ride around but within a few miles I passed up a bunch of bikes, so I turned around and headed back to Osseo.

Near Osseo, WI off 53

Bikes at the Super 8 in Osseo

Silver/Black 954RR #2

Silver/Black 954RR #3

Silver/Black 954RR #4

I can’t believe there were 4 Silver/Black 954’s here, how bizarre.

We hung out in the parking lot for a while, had dinner at the diner next door and then some people bought some fireworks next door and started shooting them. I was asleep by 11:30PM. Awesome weathertoday, upper 70’s and sunny, no wind.

Yummy Wisconsin micro-brew