Ridelog - July 28th: 2014 BMW MOA International Rally

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Last week I took a long weekend road trip up to Minneapolis for the 2014 BMW MOA International Rally. On my way up we road the Great River Road up through Wisconsin, which is a very scenic road following the Mississippi River. Overall I would highly recommend it as a (long) day right out there for anyone interested. There is some really fantastic shots. I took my GoPro along with me, but unfortunately I only turned it on after La Crosse so I didn't get the best of the ride on film. I will have to do that at another point. 

A New Rear Rack for the Motorcycle

So this summer I hope to get Megan on the back of the motorcycle and do some trips. Part of this involves here getting some gear, but it also has involved her having some sort of "backrest" for the back of the bike to lean against. My bike doesn't have a ton of options for this, but after doing quite a bit of research this winter I opted to go with the Givi system. It was cheaper than the BMW system (and the case looks better) and it didn't involve me purchasing an entire new seat for the bike. 

After getting the rear rack on the bike, I am not thrilled with how it looks, but it looks fine. It just detracts from the minimalism that I like on the bike. The Givi gear seems to be really well built. I just feel that the top plate they have is a bit thick and it unfortunately does not have any utility for strapping gear down when the case isn't on the bike. I may look into trying to fabricate a replacement aluminum plate which could be thinner, but we will see. Again, it doesn't look horrible. 

I can't deny the utility of the top case though. I used it riding to work last week and the 47l case can hold quite a lot. 

Installation of Skene Design P3 LED System

Last week I picked up some new LED lights for my motorcycle and installed the P3 lights for the tail end of my motorcycle. Installation over all was very easy and I spent more time running the wires than I did doing the actual installation. 

Here I took of the tail end of the bike and setup to run the controller from just under the seat. I ran the wiring along the left side of the bike following the existing breaklight wiring as closely as possible. 

Here you can see the wire coming out just under the the bottom left side of the rear fender where the existing license plate lighting wire runs from. I basically followed this wire all the way down. 

Here is a picture of the LED units mounted on either side of the license plate. The screws and brackets were mounted to the top holes of the license plate. 

Here is a closer look of the wiring as it runs down the side of the bike and how I tried to tuck it away behind the rear bracket. 

The controller was mounted to the rear frame piece under the seat with some zip ties and I wrapped all of the wires in cold shrink tape in the end. 

10,000 Miles

So this evening I had to ride home just behind a thunderstorm in the Chicago area. I basically just followed the storm south east and it resulted in one of the coolest lightning storms I have ever seen. Lightning must have been. Going off every half second or so.

Unfortunately I couldn't get any photos of the storm, but. I did pass 10,000 miles on my motorcycle on this drive home.

A Frustrating Learning Experience with my BMW Motorcycle

I just have to shake my head sometimes. So I have owned the r1200r now since September of last year and I love the bike. This is my first "modern" motorcycle with fuel injection and a computer, etc. A couple of months ago I posted a thread in the user forum asking why there weren't very many aftermarket parts for the r1200r compared to the older Japanese bikes that I have seen.In retrospect that seems like such a funny thread now.

Over this winter I have attempted two minor modifications and both have been foiled with frustration, both of which have been easily done on my previously owned bikes. Many of you probably saw my Banshee Horn post from a week ago. That one I probably can do and the failure was more on my issues with the aesthetic of the bike with the horn more than anything else.

Today I attempted to install the Signal Dynamics' Back Off XP. It is a tail light modulator.  The journey on this one of course started off fine enough, but even at the outset when I exposed the wiring I found myself confused right out of the gate. I was presented with some of the weirdest wiring colors I have ever seen . A black/grey/yellow wire, a grey/red/white wire and a brown wire. The brown is negative btw.

After installing the Back Off kept getting a lamp fault on the bike when I started it up. I could not for the life of me figure out what was going on. Were my splices and butt connectors bad? I finally went online and figured out it was the canbus. So much for another project. Now I am just slightly pissed because I had to cut back quite a bit of the insulation wrap on the wires to expose them. They are now of course also butt crimped back together rather than being nice and clean. The more I own this bike the more I sort of look at it like an Apple computer (which I own and use). They are gorgeous, beautifully engineered pieces of equipment. Even the wiring was gorgeously laid out (on both!!!!) There are easy to install after market accessories that are equally as beautiful and pricy. But, if you really want to mess with stuff though it seems like that is sort of a "no-no". Don't crack that box open too much. The gear is too smart for its own good. All said and done, I suppose I just need to stop fiddling with the bike and just ride the damn thing.

Building a Tool Kit for My R 1200R

So one of the first things that I have noticed since getting my R 1200R is that almost all of the bolts on the motorcycle are Torx screws. That means all of my metric tools that I own will not work and I unfortunatley need to pick up some torx tools. As with most motorcycles, the bike did come with a basic tool kit, but to be honest it is something to be desired. It just does not inspire confidence for something that I would want to rely on when broken on the side of the road. So over the past couple of weeks I have been doing some research to try to find some tool rolls or kits that I can add to my bike. Unfortunately the pickings do not seem to be all that good and one of the only pre-made kits i have found is from Cruz Tools. Now, the kit looks fine, but it is not exactly what i am looking for. 

So I have decided to build my own tool roll. A quick search online for what other people are using lead me to some nice R 1200GS links. These are of course not my bike, but the bikes are close enough that everything should work. Here are the links. 



I am going to use these for the basis to build my kit over the next couple of months. Now, I personally am going to be buying Craftsman tools. I know that Craftsman sort of gets some flak these days, but in my opinion they are still the best hand tools around. I just have no frame of reference online for a lot of the other "no-name" brands and I always read about problems when pieces break or don't fit right and strip a screw from cheap branded stuff. I'll pay a bit more for the Craftsman stuff, but it will last forever and I know it will work properly when I need it. The last thing I want to happen is to strip a screw head in the middle of nowhere when I really need my tools to work. The extra $20 now could save me a ton of headache later. 

So far I have picked up just an adjustable 3/8" rachet with an adjustable head and a torx head set T-15 through T-50. I believe I need a T-55 or T-60 as well, but this should probably get me through 80% of the bolts on my bike right now. 

Additional items that I need to pick up will be some allen wrenchs, and appropriately sized wrenches for stuff like the oil filter, etc. Now I have been reading online that some people have picked up some open/closed end wrenchs. I am curious if these are really needed or if I can get by with just getting some equivalent metric sockets. It could save me some space.

Anyways, I will see how this builds out.

Ride Log: 09-30-12

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Nothing spectacular for a ride this afternoon. Just a quick two hour jaunt near the Shipping and Sanitary Canal west of Chicago. While scoping this one out I notice a road that ran parallel to the canal and though that it might have offered a good view. Unfortunately it ended up being mostly industrial areas which at one point road right through the middle of an oil refinery. I even managed to skirt around the outside of a forest preserve. 

Ride Log: 09-23-12 - Starved Rock

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A little over a week ago I bought myself a new motorcycle. A lightly used 2012 BMW R 1200R Classic. The bike is gorgeous and is black with white racing stripes, spoked wheels and of course the great BMW boxer engine. I am turning 30 this year and starting to feel a little old, so I figured I would treat myself. 

To christen the new bike I decided to do an afternoon run down to Starved Rock. I am slightly ashamed to say this, but I have never been to Starved Rock before. I was in for a treat, for the ride was not only a nice one, but the state park is beautiful. I will have to make sure and go back there this fall to go hiking with the changing leaves. 

BMW Demo Day

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to do a demo day at BMW of Countryside. I had a pretty fund time there and was able to ride two bikes. First up was the F 800ST. I really wanted to get on the F 800R, but it was booked and the ST did offer me the opportunity to check out its capability as a touring option. Overall it was a pretty nice bike, but even at 5'8" I found my legs a little bit cramped on the bike. I couldn't really see myself riding it for longer than a few hours.

Later that day I had an opportunity to get on the R 1200R though and as soon as my butt hit the seat I was impressed. Very comformtable, with a nice blended styling. The demo unit they had was the R 1200R classic which featured some additional chrome work as well a super nice blakc with white racing strip paint. Overall I came away very impressed with the engine too. The boxer engine had a great feel to it and the bike is a nice "do-it-all" platform that can easily accomdate luggage for touring. 

I actually stopped by the dealer last week to get pricing info. Nothing to speak for yet, but I hope I could possibly make pricing work out on this one. It was a great feeling bike all around.