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MSF Beggining Rider’s Class – First Day on the Bikes!

The MSF motorcycles we rode and part of the practice range

The MSF motorcycles we rode and part of the practice range

Hey there everyone :)  Today was the first day of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s (MSF) class that we actually got to get on a motorcycle and have some fun learning!  I was going to write up a whole new post, but I’m just flat tired after everything, so I decided to post here what I posted earlier over at advrider.com :wink:

For those of you who don’t know about it, the MSF is a private organization that trains people to ride motorcycles among other things.  Passing their class in some states (including Nevada) will mean you don’t have to take a written or riding test at the DMV to get your license :cool:

It’s time for the after first ride at MSF report :D  Out of eight students, four of us had never ridden a motorcycle before.  I think we all did pretty good considering nobody crash tested their gear and only one of us (NOT ME!) dropped a bike when they forgot the kick stand.

There were two types of bikes to choose from.  I got next to last pick and spent an incredibly fun day on 125cc of screaming power, twisted steel and sex appeal known as the Kawasaki Eliminator :cool:  The only times I had trouble were on the wide, slow slalom and my first quick stop.  The slalom was just difficult from a speed and control standpoint and the entire class had a tough time of it.

The first quick stop revealed that I have a habit from bicycles that needs to be broken in motorcycling.  On my mountain bike I’d hold the grip with my thumb and index finger while covering the rear brake with my other three fingers.  Not so good on the motorcycle.  I didn’t roll off the throttle properly and didn’t brake too well.  Thankfully I did grab full clutch so all I did was go a few feet too far and made a lot of noise.  Didn’t do that again :P:1

The only other minor issue I had today concerned neutral.  First I couldn’t find it without serious effort.  Then I could find it easily when I was trying to shift from first to second and didn’t want it.  By the end of the day it was a complete non-issue :)

The things I thought I might have a problem with were throttle control, clutch control, and especially up-shifts.  I’ve driven a stick shift car for the last 10 years or so and it made the concept easy, but I thought there might be an adjustment period.  As for the throttle, I’d be doing things with the handlebars other than worrying about twisting that the right amount.  Shifting – I usually wear a size 10.5 or 11 wide because my feet are actually a super wide size 9.5 which leaves me with lots of extra toe room.  In the end none of this was an issue at all :wink:

I found that I rode best when I kept my head up, my eyes on the horizon or looking through the turn to its end, my knees on the tank, feet on the pegs.  Everything went especially well when I just relaxed :cool:

I’m also glad I invested in some good gear before the class. The Fox gloves worked well, but I’m still going to see about getting the fingers shortened.  The HJC CL-16 helmet was comfortable, had plenty of air flow, and they weren’t lying when they said the liner absorbs sweat!  Last, but not least I absolutely LOVE my Tourmaster Intake Air 2 jacket :thumb:  Morning was cold by Vegas standards and the liners worked great.  I yanked ‘em both out during our first break and the mesh allowed enough air flow that I pretty much felt like I was riding in a T-shirt.

After only five hours on the bikes, I now have to try to figure out a couple of things I’ve seen other riders on the street.  Why would someone drag their toes on the ground for 100′ or more and why ride in a tank top without a mesh jacket :wtf:  There’s more, but I’m too tired to think of ‘em right now.

Oh yeah – we all passed the written test and I only got one wrong that I had correct the first time. Day two’s going to be a blast :thumb:

Ride safe everyone :cheers:

Once I pass the actual skills test tomorrow all I have to do is go up to the DMV after work on Monday, show them the certificate, and collect my Class M endorsement :D

Have fun and I’ll be back tomorrow to report on the whole class :mrgreen:

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Essential Motorcycle Gear – My First Helmet

As you’ve no doubt seen from my previous post, I headed down to Carter Powersports yesterday to check out a few bikes and I’ve pretty much decided that the Kawasaki KLR 650 is the one I’m going to buy in a few months :)  I had other reasons for heading down to the dealership though.  I needed to get some vital gear for my upcoming MSF course.  You know – the one that starts on Friday :mrgreen:  I’ve got a pair of gloves that are more for off road, but they’ll be fine for the class.  I also usually wear boots that cover my ankles which also meet the class requirements.  I made sure to confirm that my usual black fatigue pants will be OK as well.  That just left a helmet and either a long sleeve shirt or a jacket.  I’ve found an acronym for a saying that pretty much describes how I plan on riding my motorcycle – ATGATT.  ATGATT stands for All The Gear All The Time.  As the old saying goes, dress for the crash – not for the ride :)

I thought about going down to Wal Mart and getting a long sleeve shirt, but then I thought better of that idea after my little incident with the Kawasaki KLX250s where I ended up on the showroom floor along with the bike and found that my elbow was bleeding a bit.  Sure I can legally ride in a T-shirt, but I’m not about to do that.  No, I’ve been down on the ground enough due to stuff going wrong on bicycles and rollerblades to know just how bad road rash sucks and how long it takes to heal.  I’m not about to get on the road with just a shirt between my skin and the pavement if something goes wrong.  I may as well just buy the jacket now.  And I would have bought it on Saturday if they’d have had my size in stock.  I’m calling Heather in the parts department tomorrow morning to confirm which color I want and I still haven’t decided between white and bright, screaming yellow.  Either way, I’ll make sure to post pictures and such once I get it later this week :)

The school will loan you a helmet, but I wanted my own and I’d have to buy one anyway before I could ride my new motorcycle.  I figured I’d just get one now :wink:

There were quite a few choices when it came to which helmet I wanted.  First there was whether I wanted to get a street helmet, a dual sport helmet, or an off road helmet.  All three choices are DOT rated and legal for street use.  The street helmet is the one you see here.  I was intent on getting a full face helmet for protective reasons, especially considering the fact that I’m a complete novice when it comes to motorcycles.  The full face street helmet has a shield that can be opened or closed and a chin bar.  It’s great for the road as it keeps all the weather out, but dirt can get into the shield’s hinges and cause problems.  An off road helmet has a big chin bar, but no shield as it’s intended to be used with goggles in dusty and dirty conditions and they usually have a visor or “peak” to keep the sun out of your eyes and possibly help keep branches out of your face.  Dual sport helmets are a cross between the two and can accommodate goggles under their shield if needed.  Some have removable peaks as well.

I would’ve loved a dual sport helmet which is a cross between street and dirt, but there were problems with that.  I wanted to buy my first helmet at a brick and mortar store where I could try it on and make sure it fit right.  The only dual sport helmet available locally was a good helmet, but it just didn’t fit my head shape all that well.  With the dual sport helmet out of the running, I was really leaning toward an off road helmet as I plan to leave the pavement quite often.  I changed my mind after I realized I’d be paying about $110 for the helmet and another $40 for the goggles.  OK, the money wasn’t the real problem.  The real problem was that I tried all the gear on and it was fine, but for much of my street riding and the class I’m taking I realized it would be a real pain in the ass to have to deal with getting the helmet on, then the glasses, and finally the goggles.  Oh yeah, that “peak” would also probably catch some decent air and add drag to the helmet when I’m on the highway.

I also want to address another factor in my helmet choice overall – Color.  I’ve noticed that helmets come in so many different colors and patterns it’s enough to make your head spin.  For some reason though, I see a whole bunch of ‘em in black.  Call me crazy if you want (actually, you’d have to stand in line to do that), but I refuse to wear a black helmet – especially on a motorcycle.  A rider’s helmet is the highest thing on the bike and right about at eye level with car or SUV drivers.  It’s one of the most visible things to them.  I’d much rather be noticed and avoided than look “cool” in a black helmet and have a driver hit me.  No, it’s not the only thing to consider, but helmet color can be a big factor.  I also wanted a solid color helmet that wouldn’t have as much camouflage effect as some of the graphics I’ve seen and would look better with the reflective decals I’m dreaming up.  OK, solid color helmets usually cost a bit less, too :)

My first helmet - HJC CL-16 - Front view with shield down

My first helmet - HJC CL-16 - Front view with shield down

After weighing the strengths and weaknesses of the different types of helmets, I came to the decision to go with a street helmet.  No, it’s not the greatest thing in the dirt for many reasons, but I realized that I’d be on the road quite a bit more than the dirt at least while I’m starting out.  I also figured that doing the exercises on the motorcycles in class and working with the ridercoaches would be much easier with a flip up shield than if I’d had to use goggles :wink:

The helmet I finally chose is the HJC CL-16 and I think I’ll be happy with it for quite a while :)  The price was right – It only cost $135 and less expensive is better with everything else being equal.  It’s DOT rated and if I’d fit the XXL instead of XXXL I’d have a SNELL rated helmet as well.  Oh well, I don’t feel under-protected with it and it fits right, so that’s good enough for me.  All the other choices around town were somewhere over $200 and didn’t offer any better protection so I think I made a good choice.

Once the decision on the model of helmet was made there was one more decision to go – which color did I want?  The CL-16 comes in quite a few different solid colors but there were only two in stock to choose from at the dealer.  I could have flat black or gloss white.  Remember that bit I just wrote above about visibility?  Yeah, it didn’t even take any thinking about which one I liked better.  I’d also been leaning toward white as it’s visible against so many different backgrounds.  I’d have gone with bright, screaming, neon yellow or green if they’d had it in stock but white should do just fine :cool:  I’m already coming up with some designs to have made into reflective decals, too :D

My first helmet - HJC CL-16 - View of chin vents with shield slightly open

My first helmet - HJC CL-16 - View of chin vents with shield slightly open

My first helmet - HJC CL-16 - Front quarter view with shield open half way

My first helmet - HJC CL-16 - Front quarter view with shield open half way

My first helmet - HJC CL-16 - Side view with shield completely open

My first helmet - HJC CL-16 - Side view with shield completely open

My first helmet - HJC CL-16 - Rear quarter view showing both left rear vents

My first helmet - HJC CL-16 - Rear quarter view showing both left rear vents

My first helmet - HJC CL-16 - Rear view of the helmet showing all rear vents

My first helmet - HJC CL-16 - Rear view of the helmet showing all rear vents

Price was far from the only factor I took into consideration when it came to the thing I’m trusting to protect my brain.  Yeah, all the helmets I considered are DOT certified and rated, but protection to DOT standard is a must for a helmet that’s going to see any miles on the public highway.  A big factor was how well the helmet’s venting system works. I’m in a place that’s known for hot summers and a helmets vent system is the only thing that’s going to keep me cool.

Some of the other helmets I looked at have what appear to be small vents on the front and very small or no vents in the back.  That’s just not going to work – especially the part about small or no vents in the back.  It might sound counter-intuitive at first, but think about just how much drag a round object has going through the air.  While the front vents do give some airflow, it’s the turbulence and vacuum behind a helmet moving through the air that actually suck air out of the back vents.  The CL-16 has good vents front and back.  I could’ve had better venting, but I can’t really spend the money right now for something better.

OK, so it’s DOT rated and has decent venting.  There are a couple of other features that drove me to the CL-16.  That shield in the pics above has a few really cool things going for it.  For one thing it takes about five seconds to remove it and another five to install it.  That’s great if you want to switch shield colors and tints :)  But that’s not the whole story.  It’s also got a shield lock button on the left side that prevents the shield from opening at all while it’s engaged.  I don’t know just how much this feature’s going to mean to me on the road, but I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it as it doesn’t add any appreciable weight :wink:

That’s not the end of the shield’s great features either!  HJC is now including a really great product with the CL-16 known as a Pinlock shield.  If you look closely at the pictures of the shield, you can see what looks like a secondary layer.  That’s the pin lock shield.  It’s held in place by tension against two plastic pins in the main shield which makes it very easy to swap out which is nice as it comes in several different colors and tints.  The Pinlock shield itself also has a silicon bead that seals it against the main shield which creates a trapped, insulated air space just like you’d find in a double pane window in your house.  That dead air space along with the Pinlock’s porous plastic pretty much put an end to any trouble you might have had with a visor that fogs up.  Fogging will probably be a non-issue here in Vegas with our incredibly low humidity, but I’m not planning on staying in Vegas all the time.  In any case it was included at no extra charge and doesn’t cause any problems for me at all, so I’ll take it and be happy :cool:

I’ve done the best I can right now to show off my cool new motorcycle helmet and to explain why I chose it among many other competing for my money, but I’m just a guy who’s new to this. Here’s a video that was made by someone who deals in helmets for a living that shows off the CL-16 better than I can :)

Trying to describe the Pinlock shield and how it works isn’t the easiest thing on the planet. I found this video that should give you a better idea of what it is and how it works :wink:

Well, that’s all I have to say about helmets for tonight. There might be more stuff in the future as I’m still considering adding a couple of accessories to my CL-16, but I’ve got to call it a night.  Have fun and try to have a great Monday everyone :thumb:

And before I forget, I also hope you had a great Easter as well :mrgreen:

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23 April 2011 – The Plan Revised (Again) – Kawasaki KLR 650

Hey there everyone :D  It’s been another positively joyful week with continued dental work and I’ve been tired from a few things.  But I still haven’t lost sight of my goal – being up on two wheels that will carry me over the roads and continuing on when the pavement ends :)

After much discussion with quite a few people I’ve come to the conclusion that while a KLX250s would work, it really wouldn’t be the best tool for the job.  Kind of like when you use a fork to cut things with when you’re eating – it will work on most things, but a knife works better on the vast majority of them.  I’d be putting quite a strain on the brakes, clutch, and all the rest.  It’s rated for about 400 pounds and I’m about 75% of that, but it was really made for someone around 180 pounds and I’ve got quite a bit more to lose if I’m going to get that thin!  No, a 650cc bike would be better for me.  Usually a 650 is considered a bit big for a brand new rider, but then again new riders weigh less than I do :wink:

I’d had two problems with the 650cc class of bikes before now and both have been overcome.  One was the cost of insurance which was remedied by shopping around a bit.  The other was the 35″ or higher seat that seems to come as a standard feature in these bikes.  The BMW G650GS and F650GS are both lower than that and are no problem for me.  The F800GS is about that high and I can do OK on it.  My real seat height problem came when I tried to dismount from a KLX250s a couple of weeks ago and ended up on the floor along with the bike.  Mike down at Carter Powersports was great in helping me get that figured out and now a 35″ seat is no problem :cool:

I headed on down to Carter Powersports again today to look into two different motorcycles which had been very highly recommended by different members over at advrider.com.  Those bikes were the Suzuki DR650SE, Suzuki DR-Z400S, and the Kawasaki KLR 650.  The KLR 650 and DR650SE both cost about the same and both have 35″ seats.  The DR-Z400S is higher and costs more.  Each has its strengths and weaknesses and I had to figure out which one would work best for me.  I’d called ahead and Mike was more than happy to help me out even on a Saturday afternoon :cheers:

23 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - Suzuki DR650SE

23 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - Suzuki DR650SE

Here’s the bike I was looking at for quite a few reasons, but which ultimately fell short.  It’s the Suzuki DR650SE and it’s a great bike :)  The problems for me are the lack of any sort of wind protection, a three gallon fuel tank, and a seat that just wasn’t comfortable at all even in the showroom.  Sure, it’s lighter, quicker, and better off road than the Kawasaki, but I didn’t want a bike with the downsides this one presents.

I didn’t get any pictures of the DR-Z400S and I didn’t bother getting up on the seat either.  The DR-Z is taller with a 37″ seat and that seat looks the same as the one on the DR650.  Add to that a higher price tag and less power and I’m willing to pass on it.  Yes, it’s a better dirt bike in many regards but it’s just not for me.

23 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - 2011 Kawasaki KLR650

23 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - 2011 Kawasaki KLR 650

23 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - 2011 Kawasaki KLR650

23 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - 2011 Kawasaki KLR 650

23 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - 2011 Kawasaki KLR650

23 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - 2011 Kawasaki KLR 650

So here’s the bike I’ve got my heart set on right now.  It’s the Kawasaki KLR 650 and it’s just about perfect for what I’m hoping to do :thumb:

The KLR has been around for a long time, but it got some major updates in 2008.  See that fairing?  Yep, that’s one of the updates.  The fairing, windshield, and the hand guards are pretty good at keeping the wind and weather off you from what I’ve read.  Kawasaki also beefed up the wheels, made the suspension better, and upgraded a few things in the engine during the update.

Even without riding it or any other motorcycle I can already tell this is going to be the better bike for me and the riding I want to do.  The seat is much more comfortable for one thing, its wind and weather protection is far superior to the Suzuki, and the gas tank holds almost twice as much as the DR650′s – 5.8 gallons :shock:  Now that’s what I call range!  Sure, the Kawasaki is more of a street oriented bike, but that’s OK with me.  I’m looking to go out and ride back roads, trails, and see the sights of the desert southwest.  I’m not looking to run the Baja 1000 just yet :wink:

23 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - 2011 Kawasaki KLR650 gauges

23 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - 2011 Kawasaki KLR 650 gauges

The KLR 650 is still a fairly basic machine.  This is the dash with its analog instruments and a few lights.  You get a tach (something not found on the Suzuki bikes), speedometer, main odometer, trip odometer, temp gauge (again not found on the Suzuki bikes), a neutral gear indicator light, high beam indicator light, and turn signal indicator light and that’s it.  Notice there’s no gas gauge?  Yeah, well we can’t seem to have it all and that’s where that trip odometer comes in handy :)  Actually the more I think of it, the more I’ve come to realize it has everything I want from a Vapor Gauge aside from a second trip odometer, clock, and outside air temperature reading.  I can get the mileage I want and the time from my Garmin Vista Cx GPS receiver I bought a couple of years ago for geocaching and I’m sure I can find a suitable thermometer for the outside air temp reading for not a lot of money.  That should save a few dollars!

The controls on the handle bars are just as basic and conventional with the exception of including a choke lever on the left side.  Yes, this bike has a carburetor instead of fuel injection but that’s OK with me too.  I’m still a fan of old technology when it comes to something that has the potential to strand me many miles from home in the middle of nowhere :wink:  Getting back to the controls (sorry for the lack of photos), there’s your standard starter and kill switches on the right handlebar while the horn, conventional turn signal lever/button arrangement, high/low headlight switch, and horn are on the left.  There are no emergency flashers, heated grips, fuel injection (yeah, I know I’m repeating myself here), or ABS like the BMWs have but then again this bike has an MSRP that’s $2500 less (about half the price of the KLR!) than the G650GS.  It really is a question of what you’re willing to live without and how much you can spend.

23 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - Older model pre-owned Kawasaki KLR650

23 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - Older model pre-owned Kawasaki KLR 650

3 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - Older model pre-owned Kawasaki KLR650

3 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - Older model pre-owned Kawasaki KLR 650

I got these pictures of this pre-1988 KLR 650 for a couple of reasons.  First was to show just what the differences in appearance are between the old and the new.  The second reason was to show some of what I’m planning on doing to the new bike as soon as possible after I get it.  See those engine & radiator guard bars?  Yep, those will be priority one.  They’ll protect radiators (very important) when (notice I didn’t say if) I manage to drop my bike.  The new guard bars I’ve seen actually have highway pegs up front for more comfortable cruising :cool:

Priority two will be a center stand for the bike.  That allows quite a few things to be done to the bike without having to have a jack or lift.  Things like changing a flat tire.  Oh yeah – that’s going to be an interesting skill to learn as well.  I’m going to make sure I know what the hell I’m doing before I go somewhere like Death Valley by myself!

The last piece of gotta have modifications is going to be a good skid plate.  I’m sure the factory one’s OK, but I want something a bit more robust.  This is me we’re talking about here and I’m not known for being the easiest person in the world when it comes to how I use my gear.

A few of the other farkles I’m planning on adding include panniers and the racks to carry them, a tank bag, and possibly some driving lights.  I might also add a new seat down the road, but not before I’ve got some miles on the bike and I’ve confirmed that the stock seat really won’t work for me.  I’m not going to go farkle crazy just for the sake of adding another useless farkle, but there are some things that would really help down the road :)

23 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - Honda Rebel 250

23 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - Honda Rebel 250

23 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - Honda Rebel 250

23 April 2011 - Carter Powersports - Honda Rebel 250

You’re probably awfully confused by the inclusion of these Rebel 250s in this post :)  No, I’m not planning on getting a Rebel, but I wanted to show ‘em off a bit because they’re just really cool :cool:  If I weren’t planning on going where I’d need a dual sport I’d probably get one of these.  Hell, they’re only $4,000 MSRP and you know there’s going to be deals on ‘em!  They’re great beginner bikes and could be much more than that depending on what you’re planning on using them for.  Just think of the gas mileage you’d get with a 250cc parallel twin engine and a light bike like this :thumb:

Well, that’s all for this post.  I’ve already got another one in the works about my new helmet :wink:

Have fun everyone :mrgreen:

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Montana. From my Friend Mary

God was missing for six days. Eventually, Michael, the archangel, found him, resting on the seventh day.

He inquired, “Where have you been?”

God smiled deeply and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds, “Look, Michael. Look what I’ve made.”

Archangel Michael looked puzzled, and said, “What is it?”

“It’s a planet,” replied God, and I’ve put life on it. I’m going to call it Earth and it’s going to be a place to test Balance.”

“Balance?” inquired Michael, “I’m still confused.”

God explained, pointing to different parts of Earth. “For example, northern Europe will be a place of great opportunity and wealth, while southern Europe is going to be poor. Over here I’ve placed a continent of white people, and over there is a continent of black people. Balance in all things.”

God continued pointing to different countries. “This one will be extremely hot, while this one will be very cold and covered in ice.”

The Archangel, impressed by God’s work, then pointed to a land area and said, “What’s that one?”

“That’s Montana, the most glorious place on earth. There are beautiful mountains, rivers and streams, lakes, forests, hills, and plains. The people from Montana are going to be beautiful, modest, intelligent, and humorous, and they are going to travel the world. They will be extremely sociable, hardworking, high achieving, carriers of peace, and producers of good things.”

Michael gasped in wonder and admiration, but then asked, “But what about balance, God? You said there would be balance.”

God smiled, “I will create Washington, DC. Wait till you see the idiots I put there.”

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Colonoscopy

All Clear.
Got home a while ago. Did the Baconalia at Denny’s in Tehachapi! First solid food since supper on Tuesday.

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From the Past. My first Motorcycle

The Honda CL-Scrambler. It was good for a sixteen year old kid in 1971!

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The Antelope Valley

:tbird: On the way home from my eye exam at the VA Ambulatory Facility in Sepulveda, I stopped at the scenic overlook above Palmdale. Took a few pictures. Hope everyone enjoys them.

I think the mark on the hill in the one is the San Andreas Fault. From checking the maps I can find, it seems to be. I live fifty road miles from there. My sister in law lives down the hill from it in SW Palmdale.

The Fault? Good possibility of that.

It sure does look as though it is the San Andreas. It follows the California Aqueduct for a ways. There is a cut on 14 with folds in the rock that are visible.

Plant 42 at Palmdale Airport.

Plant 42 is the place where the special projects are built. Think the F117, U2, SR71 and others. The Lockheed Skunk Works is there along with operations from Boeing, northrop-Grumman and General Atomics. Out past this in the haze is Edwards AFB.

 

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Picture(s) A Day – 18 April 2011 – Kawasaki KLX250s at Carter Powersports

Ya know, it seems like I’ve gotten into a rhythm of posting about once a week.  I don’t know if it’s that I really can’t stand politics, I’m tired, or I just want to go to sleep after work due to mental fatigue, but I’m runnin’ on empty sometimes.  Lately it’s been the thought of getting my first motorcycle that’s kept me going :)

As I’ve written before, I had a rather uninspiring and embarrassing experience at a motorcycle dealer a week ago Saturday.  Go back and read the last post for details – I don’t want to relive that bit again.  The motorcycle that was involved in that incident is the same one I’m coming back to today – the Kawasaki KLX250s.  Why would I ever do something so potentially negative?  Well, the KLX has a ton of things to recommend it.  Read on and see what I mean and how it all went :cool:

18 April 2011 - Kawasaki KLX250s

18 April 2011 - Kawasaki KLX250s

18 April 2011 - Kawasaki KLX250s

18 April 2011 - Kawasaki KLX250s

On second thought I’m not going to go into too much detail tonight.  I’m planning on going back to the same shop on Saturday with a proper camera and I want to leave something for the post with those pics :wink:  These were taken with my cell phone on short notice :)

OK, I’ll give you a few details :P  The XT has a max weight of around 350 pounds, but the KLX can carry about 400 giving me some fudge factor and then some while I continue to lose my ass the hard way in Vegas :lol:  The KLX has more power, better suspension, and a few other nice features compared to the XT250 as well.  Oh yeah – the price is just about the same on the two bikes :shrug:

About the experience today – it was 180° different from the last time I got on a KLX and I’m thrilled :thumb:  I headed down to Carter Powersports after work and met Mike while I was looking over the bikes.  Mike’s new to Las Vegas, but he knows what he’s doing at this dealership and is a much better salesman than most I’ve dealt with :D

I explained the problem I had last time and he noticed that we’re similar in height and inseam so he jumped on the bike to see what I meant.  Sure enough, the kick stand got in his way too.  Mike’s about 100 pounds lighter than me so it wasn’t all my fault last time.  After figuring out what was going on he showed me how to dismount with the kickstand up while making sure I didn’t nearly faceplant and end up with a bike on my leg again.  After his explanation and demonstration I gave it a try and had no problem whatsoever!  I repeated this a few times and it got easier each time :cool:

Having figured out that this is probably the bike I’m going to end up with in a few months and with my upcoming MSF course in mind, Mike introduced me to Heather back in the parts department for assistance with helmets and such.  This dealer had both of the helmets I’ve been considering in stock and in my size and Heather’s customer service was truly top notch :)

18 April 2011 - Helluva deal on the Kawasaki KLX250s right now!

18 April 2011 - Helluva deal on the Kawasaki KLX250s right now!

Here’s hoping this deal sticks around a while :mrgreen:  Yeah, that’s about what I’m looking for – something that’s priced low enough to make sense and will still get the job done.  I’m not looking to take this bike around the world (yet) but I’m thinking Death Valley, the Grand Canyon, Utah…

18 April 2011 - Kawasaki Eliminator 125

18 April 2011 - Kawasaki Eliminator 125

Before anyone freaks out I’ll put your mind at ease – I am not considering this bike :wink:  It’s the wrong type to begin with and it’s only got a 150cc engine which would rule it out regardless of whether I like it or not.  If someone just wanted a bike to learn on and go around town with, I could see this as a decent option :)  Kawasaki stopped making the Eliminator 125 after the 2009 model year so if you want a new one you’d better hurry.  Just look at that price :shock:  I just thought it was pretty cool to see something like this that would still fill a niche :wink:

That’s it for tonight, but I’ll be back before long.  Have a great day everyone :mrgreen:

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Picture(s) A Day – Yamaha XT250

Howdy folks!  No, I haven’t dropped off the face of the planet :wink:  I’ve been busy and tired again.  I know it seems to be a running theme lately, but it is what it is and I’m just doing what I can to get by these days.  Work’s work and there ain’t a whole lot of time to do much else.

I’m still working on figuring out just which motorcycle I’m going to get.  I’ve still got to get my tax return, renew the car registration, get my helmet, go do the MSF course, and make sure I have money in the bank for a few other things before I can get the motorcycle.  Yeah, it’s a lot of stuff, but thinking about the motorcycle is what’s kept me going for a while now :)

My brother was in town over the weekend and we had a great time!  We ate lunch at the Pink Taco on Saturday as Mr. Lucky’s was too crowded.  It wasn’t cheap, but the food was great – and that’s coming from a San Diego native who knows Mexican food :thumb:

After lunch, we headed out to look at some motorcycles at the BMW dealer (I made sure to say hi to Kurt) and then we headed on over to a big dealership (which shall remain nameless) with Yamaha, Kawasaki, Honda, and several other makes.  I wanted to check out the Kawasaki KLX250S and compare it to some of the other bikes.  Well, let’s just say that I’m glad the KLX wasn’t in motion when it came down along with me.  In the showroom.

It was a bit embarrassing, but I don’t feel too bad.  The bike was so high that I couldn’t tip toe high enough to get the bike to lean a bit to the left so I could keep my balance while dismounting.  The problem was that the kick stand kept getting in the way as it was too long.  The sales guy was enthusiastic enough, but not too helpful when I needed him.  After the incident that left my right elbow scraped and bleeding a bit (nothing bad), he just kept saying that bikes can be lowered and such.  I was hoping he could guide me to some other offerings, but alas it was not to be.

Shortly thereafter, Sales Guy’s manager/closer/whatever came over and his attitude ruined any chance I’d had of buying there.  After all I’d dealt with – the salesman I had talked to on the phone wasn’t there when I arrived (understandable), the incident with the horizontal motorcycle (they’re supposed to be rubber side down), and a salesman whose heart was in the right place but just wasn’t getting the job done right, I had to deal with Mr. Serious.  I swear the guy had a frown on his face when he asked, “So you don’t have any money down right now?”  I’d just gotten done telling him and Sales Guy that I’d be taking my MSF course soon, but that I was around four months out from buying and wanted nothing more than to look and compare bikes.  I’ve probably mentioned it a few times before, but I did a couple years in car sales down in San Diego.  Mr. Serious wouldn’t stand a chance.  I’m assuming that he’s supposed to try to get people to buy something fun and decidedly non essential from his place of employment.  I don’t see how that’s supposed to work.  The admonition to “be careful with the bikes” as parting words (as I’m standing there bleeding in the showroom) with the same frown was just the perfect topping on a $&#@ sundae for me.

Well, after that whole ordeal, I was still intent on investigating my options.  The TW200 is a great bike from all accounts, but nearly everyone remarks on its lack of top speed.  I’m not looking to go win a Moto GP race or win the Baja 1000 but I want a bike that will get up and go when it needs to.  Everyone says the TW will cruise all day at 55 to 60 MPH and that with a 47 tooth rear sprocket it will do just fine at 65 MPH.  That’s good and sounds like it will suit my needs and wants fairly well, but I don’t want to get too much tunnel vision.

I found out about the Yamaha XT250 during the course of my research and noticed that its seat height (very important to me at this point in my riding experience) is only a very small bit higher than the TW’s.  The XT’s seat is 31.9″ where the TW’s is 31.1″ and that sounds rather interesting.  Hey, this could work!

The big dealer I visited on Saturday is part of an interstate chain which owns most of the stores in town.  I wanted to visit someone else in hopes of a better experience and looked up dealers in Las Vegas on Yamaha’s website which is where I found Yamaha of Las Vegas :cool:

I headed down to Yamaha of Las Vegas right after work on Tuesday to check out the XT250 and compare it to the TW200.  I’d already done all that on Yamaha’s website and you can see what I did by clicking here.  The problem is that websites only give you numbers and images on a small computer screen.  I wanted to find out what the differences are in person.

Thankfully, my experience at Yamaha of Las Vegas was nearly the exact opposite of my time at the big store on Saturday.  I met Matt who was competent, knowledgeable, understanding, and anything but pushy.  He had some great insights on the two bikes and was kind enough not only to let me take pics for this post, but also to push the bike into an open area of the floor for better angles :)

Well, enough blabbering – let’s get to the pics and details!

12 April 2011 - Yamaha XT250 - Digital display and indicator lights

12 April 2011 - Yamaha XT250 - Digital display and indicator lights

I usually start off photo posts like this with an overall view of the bike, but I figured I’d change it up a bit tonight :wink:

One of the differences between the XT and the TW is the dash.  Where the TW has three lights (blinker, high beam, and neutral indicators) and an analog speedometer/odometer/trip meter, the XT has a more modern setup with a digital display (speed, odometer, two trip meters, and a clock) and a much newer appearance for the indicator lights.  The TW’s old school, it works, and I like it.  The XT’s newer, fresher, and more advanced.  I have no problems with it, but aside from seeing my speed easier at night I’d call it a draw.  Except that there’s something that’s just nicer about the XT’s display that I can’t quite put my finger on…  Of course, having two trip meters would be nice on a longer ride so that you could have total trip miles on one and miles since your last refueling on the other.

If I do end up getting the TW200, I plan on adding a Vapor gauge by Trail Tech which would give me a digital dash for all of about $130.  Either way I end up with a set of digital gauges.  Actually, I’m leaning toward the TW200 for this one as I wouldn’t be duplicating anything and it would look nicer :)

12 April 2011 - Yamaha XT250 - Left side

12 April 2011 - Yamaha XT250 - Left side

12 April 2011 - Yamaha XT250 - Right side

12 April 2011 - Yamaha XT250 - Right side

You didn’t think I’d just concentrate on small details for the whole post did you :P ?  Well here’s a couple of pics of the entire bike :)

I happen to think the XT250 is rather good looking all the way around.  The round headlight’s more modern looking than the TW200′s square unit for one thing.  The XT’s fender is mounted higher up as well. Of course, those much more standard width tires look much different than the TW’s wide ones too.

Something you can see if you look closely in the top pic (right side of the bike) is the XT’s rear disk brake.  That’s quite a difference from the TW’s rear drum that hasn’t changed (and I’m not joking) since the Reagan administration.  I really don’t see a problem with a rear drum on a bike this small and (usually) slow, but a disk is nicer and better in many ways.

Another plus with the XT is its 2.4 gallon fuel tank.  That’s .6 gallon more than the TW’s tank which might not sound like a big deal at first.  What some people don’t realize is that Yamaha claims that the TW will get about 78 MPG and that the XT gets about 73 MPG.  That works out to a 140 mile max range for the TW and 175 mile max range for the XT and those extra 35 worth of fuel in the XT’s tank might just come in handy when you least expect it.

12 April 2011 - Yamaha XT250 - Left handlebar controls

12 April 2011 - Yamaha XT250 - Left handlebar controls

12 April 2011 - Yamaha XT250 - Right handlebar controls

12 April 2011 - Yamaha XT250 - Right handlebar controls

The controls are nearly if not completely identical on the handlebars of the XT and TW and look to be very well placed and easy to use.  You’ve got all the basics – high beam for the headlight, turn signals, and the horn on the left with the starter and kill switch on the right.

One thing I noticed and asked Matt about was the two lines coming from the throttle.  Matt says Yamaha uses dual throttle cables for the throttle so that one’s always pulling when actuating the throttle in the carburetor.  I don’t know if this is a big deal, but it sounds more reliable when closing the throttle so I don’t have a problem with the few extra ounces of weight it adds to the bike :)

12 April 2011 - Yamaha XT250 - Engine detail

12 April 2011 - Yamaha XT250 - Engine detail

One of the biggest differences between the XT and the TW aside from their tires is their engines.  The TW has a 196cc single cylinder while the XT has a 249cc single cylinder.  I can’t find reliable numbers online to compare the horsepower and torque, but I have a feeling that a 249cc engine will have a bit more power than a 196cc.  Both engines have a reputation for reliability and longevity and I like that they’re air cooled which means no radiators to spring a leak some place like Death Valley.

12 April 2011 - Yamaha XT250 - Folding shifter and left foot peg

12 April 2011 - Yamaha XT250 - Folding shifter and left foot peg

12 April 2011 - Yamaha XT250 - Rear brake pedal and right side foot peg

12 April 2011 - Yamaha XT250 - Rear brake pedal and right side foot peg

Getting down to the foot controls and such, the XT250 has about what you’d expect and it’s pretty similar to the TW200.  It does come standard with a folding shifter.  If you look at the shifter, you can see how the end of it is made to fold rather than bend when you drop your bike out in the dirt.  Yes, I can get a similar folding shifter for the TW, but I’m trying to keep things as inexpensive as possible.

The XT250 is another great bike that’s made my decision quite a bit more difficult.  I really wish I could just go and buy one today – that would make life much easier as I’d have it over and done with :wink:  Oh well, I’ll just keep saving up until I can finally buy one.  I would love to hear what y’all think of the choice between the two bikes – I really am stuck on this one.  I love the low seat, big knobby tires, and character of the TW, but there’s quite a few good points for the XT as well.  At least I have a good choice to make – which bike to get :cool:

Once again a big THANK YOU goes out to Matt and Yamaha of Las Vegas for being such gracious and helpful hosts :thumb:

That’s it for now, but I’ll be back again before too long :)  Have a great night everyone :mrgreen:

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5 April 2011 – Yamaha TW200 and The (New and Improved!) Plan

Well, it’s been a bit over a week, but I have an excuse – I worked the entire weekend :wink:  Yes, that’s another sixteen hours of overtime and I’m feelin’ it a bit today.  We won’t get into work today as it truly was not a good one.

Enough about all that – I’ve got news!  I still really love the BMW F650GS and I would probably after much internal debate go for the twin if I were getting one of those, but plans have changed.  I actually sat back, took stock of the whole situation, and came to the conclusion that the plan was just too big.  The bike was too expensive, the whole thing would take way too long, and I really should start small and affordable.  No, the plan wasn’t completely tossed out the window – it was just amended for the sake of reality :)

The current version of The Plan is to use some of that overtime money and another $300 I managed to win at work (long story but they like me!) to get a helmet, gloves, and some time on an actual motorcycle along with my motorcycle endorsement for my driver’s license.  The bike will come along in a few months if all goes to plan :cool:

So just what sort of bike am I looking at?  Is it a technological marvel with heated grips, a heated seat, extraterrestrial means of fuel injection, and a turbo?  Will it have more horsepower than a locomotive and the speed of a Formula One race car?  Is it (to paraphrase something I found on a forum site) made of titanium blessed by the pope, weighing less than a fart, and costing more than a divorce?

Read on to find out :P

5 April 2011 - Yamaha TW200

5 April 2011 - Yamaha TW200 - 282 pounds and 13 BHP of twisted steel and sex appeal!

The answer to all of the above is a resounding “HELL NO!!!” that can be heard all the way to Japan :lol:  The bike I’m looking at has all of around thirteen screaming horsepower coming from a 200cc, SOHC, single cylinder engine that’s fitted with a no kidding carburetor :shock:  It has a chain drive, a five speed transmission, an analog (and mechanical) speedometer and odometer.  Those are real spoked wheels and the tires have real inner tubes in them.  The front brake may be a 200mm disc, but it has a drum brake in the rear like my HHR.  Not much has changed on this bike since it was introduced to the U.S. market a bit over 20 years ago.

This is the Yamaha TW200 :thumb:

5 April 2011 - Yamaha TW200

5 April 2011 - Yamaha TW200 - Check out the exhaust and drum brake!

The TW200 won’t carry a full load of panniers and gear like I’d been planning, but its listed weight capacity is 392 pounds which is still quite a bit more than I weigh :wink: According to Motorcycle Consumer News it goes from zero to sixty in 14.75 seconds, runs the quarter mile in 18.61 seconds at 65.62 MPH, and with stock gearing will go a mind-blowing 70+ MPH!  The point is that it’s great for trails, fine for city and old highway use, and can do a stretch on the freeway if needed.  Of course, all those numbers are with the stock gearing – a 14 tooth sprocket up front and a 50 tooth in the back.  Switching to a 15 tooth front or 47 tooth rear sprocket will net you about a 7% loss in torque (not too big a deal) and a 7% lower RPM across the gears meaning 65 MPH is no real problem :)

OK, so it’s not a continent crossing machine with a German pedigree.  I realized that what I really needed was something light, easy to rid, and good to LEARN ON.  This bike is street legal, will go just about anywhere off road (as long as you don’t need to get there in a real hurry), and extremely simple.  It’s light (282 pounds ready to go with gas), has those awesome looking big knobby tires, and it’s low enough for me to put my feet down flat on the ground.  The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) uses these bikes in training brand new riders so it’s got a lot going for it there :)

5 April 2011 - Yamaha TW200

5 April 2011 - Yamaha TW200 - A very simple and old-school 80's style dash

One other thing that’s awesome about the TW200 is its price.  A brand new 2011 model carries an MSRP of $4,350 :shock:  Remember – the BMW G650GS is about $8,500.  The TW200 is also very easy on the gas with Yamaha stating an estimated 78 MPG and a few users’ posts in forums quoting anywhere between 70 and 100 MPG :thumb: On longer trips this will come in handy as the stock gas tank holds a colossal 1.8 gallons of fuel with .8 gallons being the reserve.  Yes, I’m already researching ways to expand this or carry extra gas elsewhere.

I’ve also looked into the costs of insuring a few motorcycles and this is one of the lowest – about an average of $100 less per moth to insure than an F650GS!

Folks, this may look like a kid’s toy in some ways, but don’t let that fool you :wink:  A couple of guys at the Adventure Rider forum (advrider.com) have really put this machine through its paces and come away smiling :)  One guy posted a very good review of his experiences while another member posted his ride report from riding a TW200 from St. George, UT to Skagway, AK and back :)  There’s even an 80 page thread with almost 1,200 posts just about this bike!

It’s getting late again, so I’m going to cut this short for now.  Basically, I can get a brand new bike that should be just about perfect to learn and go interesting places on for less than I was planning on saving up as a down payment for the BMW.  It gets great mileage and holds its value pretty well, too.  The vast majority of reviews say it’s great and it looks like just the ticket for me.  That’s my thinking on The Plan for now – what do you think?  Am I on the right track now?

One last thing before I go – I have to say another huge THANK YOU!!! to RideNow Powersports on Ranch Drive here in Las Vegas, NV for their wonderful hospitality today :thumb:  I showed up unannounced and they were more than helpful :)  The bike in the pictures above was already spoken for and had been brought up from another one of their dealerships, but they let me get good pictures and sit on it to get a good feel.  The salesman and parts guys were both named Mike and went out of their way to answer any questions and help me out.  Thanks to both of them I’m feeling better about my choice of motorcycle and my upcoming selection of helmets and other gear :cool:

Have a great day, everyone :mrgreen:

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