Happy birthday to me

Birthdays in Central Oregon are tough when your birthday is in January and the thing you want most of all is moto-related. Doesn’t matter if it’ a new bike, a motorbike ride or just a new moto farkle. All moto-related birthday wishes make me want to ride. And January in Central Oregon doesn’t alway give me that freedom. It did this year.

Actually the whole weekend leading up to my Tuesday birthday was decent. I rode the DR Saturday and Sunday and had a great time of it. The original plan was to take Tuesday and be on two wheels again–the Tuono if possible. Then I mentioned The Plan to Peter and suddenly we’re on Urals. I was disappointed at first but after we started heading into the canyon I was thankful to be on three as ODOT had apparently been hard at work converting Hwy 27 to gravel…or at least hiding the pavement from the snow under a thick layer of the stuff.

We stopped at the boat ramp leading down into the canyon and shot photos. Peter demoed flying the chair and with nobody around I talked him into teaching me the fine art, or trying to at least. I didn’t get any photos of my tub in the air, but I did manage to snap a couple of Peter.

Peter puts the chair in the air to show me how it's done.
Peter puts the chair in the air to show me how it’s done.

 

On (or more precisely, off) Patroll at Prineville Reservoir.
On (or more precisely, off) Patroll at Prineville Reservoir.

 

We messed around there long enough for me to get a good workout and shed my first layer–off with the glove liners–then it was on down the road for more photos. We found another spot that I usually miss because it’s in a particularly fun set of twisty parts. On a Ural you have more time to react…which is good since getting stopped takes longer.

 

From there it was on down the road a ways. I have a favorite spot for photos and nearly always pull off there on every photo run with every bike I take up or down the canyon–so of course we had to stop there. Usually I sit there long enough to see other bikes going by, but there just weren’t other bikes out…and not many cars either.

 

It wasn’t quite a bluebird sky day, but close–as you can see from the photos here. We headed on into Prineville for lunch at Tastee Treat–which Peter was kind enough to buy. After lunch it was on to the ONeil Hwy, through Redmond and finally home via the Old Bend Redmond Hwy. Was a great ride and made for a great birthday outing.

First post of Sweet ’16

It’s official…I’m posting in 2016. I know this is exciting for you, dear reader, so I’ll ask that you refrain from coming totally unglued. This is, after all, just a blog, and not a very good one at that.

Sometimes you put stuff out there for the wide world and wonder whether anyone will ever see it. Mostly that’s what I do–minus the wondering whether people see it bit. Probably because this blog’s really just for me.

So anyway, this winter has been especially cold and wet. Lots of snow and rain and as a result, I have yet to ride the 2004 Aprilia Tuono I acquired last month. I find this annoying–to say the least–as my birthday is rapidly approaching and I’d very much like to have at least a short ride on the bike.

Aside from the rain and snow and cold, the thing that’s been keeping me from riding is the bike hasn’t started since it came to live with me. It’s funny because I watched the previous owner fire it right up at his place, heard it run. There were no signs of anything being amiss. When he brought it here I didn’t even think to have him start it–why would I? As he drove off with the Guzzi, I tried to crank it up and and it almost lit–then the battery didn’t seem to have enough juice. According to the interwebs this is a common problem. The previous owner claims he never had any issues with it and wanted to blame my charger–the one I hadn’t hooked up to the bike yet. Sigh.

I’ve replaced a couple of known weaknesses–connections to the regulator/rectifier. Put it all back together. Yesterday I ordered a new Yuasa battery–something a bit more potent than the stock battery (of course the battery that was in there wasn’t stock…was a crappy BikeMaster gel battery). Also ordered a Tecmate Optimate 3 battery charger as they’re supposed to be  “smarter” chargers. Hoping that’s all it takes.

The Ducati flag was a Christmas gift. At least it's Italian. The previous owner flew a Confederate flag in his shop.
The Ducati flag was a Christmas gift. At least it’s Italian. The previous owner flew a Confederate flag in his shop.

 

Not long after getting the bike–and not being able to ride it or even fire it  up–I began suffering from buyers remorse. I always considered the Tuono a naked sport bike. Honestly though there’s not much naked about it. They literally stripped the pretty plastic bits off a the Mille sportbike and replaced them with less pretty plastic bits. No relocating anything to tidy up. Just hidden differently. You can only barely see bits and pieces of the motor. It’s the closest thing to a plastic-wrapped rocket I’ve ever owned and that’s just not me. I much prefer to see the motor and after the Guzzi–which hangs its lovely 1100cc motor in the wind for the world to see–the Tuono is a big change.

Last weekend, though, I got the rest of the wiring done on the bike and put it back together. The sky was blue and it was nearly warm. I pulled the bike into the sun near the rollup doors and admired it. I realized it’s really sexy and was inspired to shoot some photos–some of which are attached to this post. As I took pics, I thought about the exotic bits on the bike: titanium, magnesium, billet aluminum, carbon fiber, brembo brakes…all very sexy. Now I can’t wait to hear it again. Can’t wait to ride it. And if while I’m riding the front wheel should happen to levitate over bumps in the road…well that’ll be a bonus.

The Goose’s final ride

After several weeks of back and forth on Craigslist, the Guzzi went home with its new owner to Prineville today. I’d been trying to sell it since August after a ride that demonstrated to me once and for all how bad the ergonomics were for me by triggering my degenerative disk disease and causing neck/arm pain bad enough to make me go see a doctor.

After several months of no interest from the CraigsListees, I finally reached out to someone who’d left open the idea of trading and that’s how it ended up working out. In the Guzzi’s place is a 2004 Aprilia Tuono–dripping with sexy Italian red paint. I haven’t even ridden it yet, but I figure worst case, I’ll just sell it–which is what ultimately happens to all of my bikes anyway.

The Tuono occupies its new home in the shop
The Tuono occupies its new home in the shop

Some good news, some bad news, but at least I’ve been riding

When I have good and bad news to tell, I usually like to start with the bad–just seems better to get it out of the way. In this case the bad news is sort of the reason for the good news anyway, so it’ll also be chronological order. Oh, but there’s also the riding…which in general has been good this year as reported in my last post (aside from my head giving me grief).

I took the Stone up over McKenzie Pass this year–I didn’t do the entire thing, but did get down the west side past most of the hairpin turns before I turned around to head back. It’s always beautiful up there and this trip was no exception.

The Bad News

I had another couple of rides locally on the Goose after this, but the last one–yep you read that right–was a doozy. I was determined to get a ride in one weekend and left for a short one on a Sunday. I headed up onto Cascade Lakes Hwy into a stiff wind and basically fought the wind for the entire ride. Between being tired when I started the ride and fighting the wind during the ride, I was pretty wiped. Little did I know at the time that I’d also screwed up my neck. That’s right, my old herniated disc decided to give me problems again…15 years after the first time.

After dealing with the neck for a couple of days I went to see a doctor friend of mine because I was due to head out on a driving vacation with the family a few days later. I was afraid my neck wouldn’t like being on the road for 8-10 hours in the car (when the herniated disc showed up 15 years ago I couldn’t be in the car for more than 45 minutes–and I was miserable the whole time). My friend told me that if I was worried about it I probably shouldn’t go, so I ended up sending my family on vacation to see the redwoods in Northern California without me.

The Good News

Staying home worked. I took lots of ibuprofen. I stretched. I chilled. I stayed off bikes. I got better. And I got on CraigsList. I found another bike and I went and looked–a Honda NC700X owned by the owner of Cibellis pizza. Cool. Then I went and looked at another–a Suzuki V-Strom 650 owned by a gentlemen whose name I don’t recall, but he had great taste in motorcycles. In his shop were no less than seven motorcycles–a W650, DRZ400, DR650, the Wee Strom, a big-daddy Vstrom (the new version), a KTM 1290 Super Adventure and a Suzuki GSXR-750 track bike. There may have also been a TW200 in there somewhere. Ultimately I didn’t buy any of those bikes but had good fun meeting the owners and admiring them.

The following weekend, though, I found and agreed to buy a 2009 Suzuki DR650. The bike was a little more money than I wanted to spend, but had low miles and lots of farkles including the two big ones: aftermarket seat and a great big gas tank. I took it for a test ride and knew immediately it’s what I was looking for and haven’t regretted buying it since.

Once I got the bike home, the customization started immediately: returned to stock height, put the stock kickstand back on, ditched the windscreen and added my universal top case mount for my Givi top case. Within a week or two I’d ordered a jet kit from ProCycle.us and I installed it the day it came in. Of course it created issues with surging that I sorted with a little help from the interwebz. Turns out the carb is very sensitive to air flow/pressure, so I tweaked the airbox cuts I made and extended a hose from the carb that’s tied to air pressure and it runs great.

Made a few other tweaks to the DR as well. One of the previous owners had installed hand guards that prevented the clutch lever from being pulled in all the way so I removed those and reinstalled the stock hand guards. Now I can get the bike in neutral when I come to a stop with it in gear. Also pulled the foot brake lever and installed it one notch down so I don’t have to try so hard to shift gears. Finally I noticed the handlebars weren’t straight after a trip up and over McKenzie Pass–yes I rode the entire thing this time–so I loosened all the bolts tweaked the bars and tightened them back down. Perfect.

Have been riding and loving this bike and will leave you with some gratuitous shots.

Warm 2015 leads to lots of riding…except when my head’s bugging me

This has been one of the warmest years we’ve had so far…or maybe it’s one of the driest…or maybe it’s a bit of both. Either way, there’s been lots of opportunity to ride. Unfortunately for me there’s also been quite a lot of head weirdness. It’s crazy to think that all my issues came from what seemed like a minor concussion two years ago (or it will be on June 3, 2015).

Still have the Ural Patrol and the Moto Guzzi California Stone and still enjoying both quite a lot. Here are a few shots from some rides this year.

A favorite shot of the Ural showing a ride from last winter at Tumalo Reservoir
A favorite shot of the Ural showing a ride from last winter at Tumalo Reservoir
This was taken near Tetherow Golf Course just west of Bend
This was taken near Tetherow Golf Course just west of Bend
I mean...Ural Snowy!
I mean…Ural Snowy!
The Stone catches some rays on an early 2015 ride
The Stone catches some rays on an early 2015 ride

 

Got almost all the major maintenance out of the way already this year. Ural has had all the oil (three different locations) and filter changed plus new plugs and I cleaned the K & N filter. The Goose has had two of three oil changes, new plugs and a valve adjust. Still some minor stuff to take care of but they’re both mostly ready to ride.

I’ve had a couple of odd maintenance bits on both bikes. I lost an engine plug on the Ural–it’s the one that gives a view of the flywheel so you can see the markings for TDC.

Moto Hole O
What happened to the plug?

 

I just happened to notice it missing one day. After trying in vain to order from my normal supplier (after three days of phone tag) I eventually ordered from Pacific Northwest Motorcycles. The part arrived in a couple of days. I think they’ll be my new parts people.

Here's how that hole is supposed to look. Thanks Pacific Northwest Motorcycles.
Here’s how that hole is supposed to look. Thanks Pacific Northwest Motorcycles.

 

The Goose has been just as interesting. First I had some oil seeps that turned out to be bolts in need of torque. The bike shakes a lot, I guess. Today it was a bolt, spacer and acorn nut that holds up the left muffler and also connects the luggage mount. Noticed it missing while on a ride with a friend over to Prineville via the Crooked River Canyon.

This is what it's supposed to look like--though the rubber washer needs replacing
This is what it’s supposed to look like–though the rubber washer needs replacing

 

Luckily there was an Ace Hardware nearby and 20 minutes later I had a better-than-new replacement…complete with a locknut now. Thanks Brian at Ace Hardware in Prineville. Time to do the other side.

After a quick stop at Ace, this is the new setup--complete with lock nut
After a quick stop at Ace, this is the new setup–complete with lock nut

 

I’ve been hankering for a new bike again. We’ve had a lot of rainy and muddy weather and I haven’t been riding because of that–both current bikes are pretty and I don’t like to get them all mudded up. So I’ve been wanting another dual sport. The problem I keep running into is that it’s difficult to imagine finding a bike for the $3000 I could get for the Goose that would put a smile as big on my face. And of course the Ural isn’t going anywhere–I finally found one that I really like. Time for moto number three I guess. But how do I convince my wife it’s a good idea?

Here’s a few more gratuitous shots of the Goose. It really is a great bike and it’s hard to imagine having more fun for the small amount of money I could get for it.

Not me...I'm still married...but that's Mt. Bachelor in the background
Not me…I’m still married…but that’s Mt. Bachelor in the background
The lava flow near Devil's lake is spectacular
The lava flow near Devil’s lake is spectacular
The Stone catches some rays on an early 2015 ride
The Stone catches some rays on an early 2015 ride
Normally there's snow piled six feet high this time of year
Normally there’s snow piled six feet high this time of year

 

Today’s ride, BTW, was incredible. Blue skies for most of it, low wind, another Italian motorcycle to ride with. I was grinning nearly the hole time. Made for a truly great day…one that I’m very thankful for.

Two Italian motos ready to attack the curves of the canyon
Two Italian motos ready to attack the curves of the canyon