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. 

2014 Chicago Motorcycle Show

So Megan and I went to the motorcycle show again this Saturday. This has sort of become an annual thing for us each year. I have to say that there wasn't much that really caught my eye this year, with the exception of the new Yamah Bolt crusier. That bike looks really nice and has a great, gritty urban feel to it. I think it is positioned really well to give the HD 883 a run for its money. The specs as with most cruisers won't blow you out of the water. It only has a single disc for the front break and the engine is rather low for overall HP with only a 9-1 compression ratio for a V-Twin, but it makes up for it with some nice touches on the pipes and engine. It also has all LED lights that are positioned in a very modern looking setup. 

I am not normally into cruiser style bikes, but if I had to pick one, I would probably take the Bolt. Spec'ing the whole bike out with the "R-Spec" accessories and the brass finishes brings the base price to $8,999 up to just over $10,000, but overall it has a great look as you can see from the customization site. 

I also had a chance to check out the new BMW R Nine-T which everyone seems to be losing their minds over. I of course didn't have a chance to ride it, but my initial look was rather disappointing. For the price of the bike, there didn't seem to be much there and the comfort wasn't super apparent. The handlebars and seating position was leaning much more forward than I would have initially thought. the engine seems to be pretty much the same as the other oil/air cooled BMW twins, so I would expect there performance to be pretty well known. The lack of a a tele-lever though was obviously apparent and after having one of those for a few years now, I sort of find it hard to live without it. May be I will get to actually ride one later this year at a demo day or something.  

The other thing that I really noticed at the show this year was the amount of "booth babes". They seemed to be all over the place and they never seemed to be prevalent in years past. 

Ride Log - September 21st, 2013: Test Running the Illinois River By Way

So last year I rode the Illinois River Byway down by Peoria. I had an OK time with it, but I sort of expected more river. After reflecting upon it for a while I actually realized that I enjoyed the ride quite a bit, despite getting lost. I wanted to do this ride again this fall with a group of people, so I headed out today to scope the ride out and plan my approached. 

I decided to to take the route down in the opposite direction this time, on the west side of the river. This proved to be a much more enjoyable ride overall. I was able to take highway 29 down to Peoria quickly and then I ended up with a beautiful drive into the marshlands and wildlife refuge just outside of Havanna. Riding north back on the east side of the river also made for some easier transitions to some side roads and highway 26 on the way back up is a nice long stretch of almost uninterrupted highway, which makes for a nice ride at the end of the day. 

Overall it was very productive. I ran into a couple of construction detours that threw me for a loop on one-way streets in Peoria, but I think I have a plan worked out on how to bypass those. 

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.

Ridelog - August 11th, 2013: Harley-Davidson Museum

So this past Sunday I rode up to the Harley-Davidson Museum  up in Milwaukee. This one isn't so much a ridelog as it is just a collection of photos from the museum. I basically just I-94 straight up from Chicago, but I used this as an excuse to have some more fun with my Olympus OM-1. On the whole most of the photos turned out pretty good. A few even turned out really well I dare say. 

Ridelog - July 14th, 2013: East Troy Railroad Museum

Last week I had the opportunity to head up to the East Troy electric railroad museum. At first I wasn't quite sure if I was going to enjoy this ride, but in the end it was a really fund day. East Troy appears to have several little historical things in their downtown area focused around an old railway. We took an electric trolley over to a farm house for some lunch, where I had Wisconsin grilled cheese along with some apple pie. We then took the train back to East Troy where we finished off the day with some ice cream at an old fashioned ice cream shop. 

Frustrating Motorcycle Season So Far

It has been a pretty frustrating motorcycle season so far this year. The weather has not really cooperated with my schedule. The days that I have been free unfortunately have seemed to have pretty bad weather. Not really an excuse, I know, but I really need to find some time to get some rides in. 

Ridelog: May 5th, 2013 - Slimy Crud Run

View 05-05-13: Slimy Crud Run in a larger map

It has taken me forever to get this stuff uploaded. This week has been a nightmare, but last weekend I had a wonderful time doing my first Slimy Crud in Wisconsin. It was a blast......Well it was once we got past our first hiccup. The day started out with us all meeting at the Belvidere Oasis off of I-90. Not more than five minutes into our ride one of our riders crashed on an off ramp. What turned out to be an annoying inconvenience turned into something much worse when a state trooper showed up and immediately was a jack-ass right out the gate. 

The crash also unfortunately resulted in our group getting split up at first, since about half of us didn't see the crash and kept on riding. This led to one of our other riders (Hans) and I getting split up from the group and partially getting lost. We saw some people double back to try and meet up, but it was a divided highway. Hans and I ended up continuing to ride for a while, but we were not sure what the turn off was. This ended up in a rather funny incident with us trying to find out where people were and us following a random guy who was headed towards Galena. 

In the end though we found our group, literally as we were about to turn around and the ride ended up being one of the better ones I have been on for a while. Great roads up in Wisconsin, some good people and a fun bite to eat at the end. 

Ridelog: 04-21-13

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Went for a nice ride today and decided to just sort of head south on 55 and then turn off to head west somewhere. I sort of randomly found myself ambling just south of the Des Plaines river. There is a nice bit of scenic riding through here and i was pleasantly surprised.

After a few hours of riding i came upon route 23 and thought to myself that looked awfully familiar. After taking a pit stop and then checking my phone, I found that I was right near Starved Rock. Who would have thought.

Apparently there are two nuclear power stations in this area and i even happened upon a wind farm on my way back that I had to check out. Riding through the wind farm was actually really cool, despite the roads just being straight. You can see in my map that I zigzagged through that for about 20 minutes.

The Dresden Cooling Lake also had a really interesting covered bridge going over it that at first had me thinking that I stumbled onto some sort of private access road or something.