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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sturgis Ride - What Worked....What Didn't

It's fair to say I over-prepared for my ride from Virginia to Sturgis this year. Heck, I even went to the extreme of buying another motorcycle just for the ride, but I'll use any excuse to get another Harley, so I'll rule that out. This is about things that worked well, things that were a bust, and things that fell into the "It seemed like a good idea at the time." department.

What worked well:

Reda Gas Container - Though I never once needed it, that Reda 1-gallon gas container provided peace of mind on two occasions, and I was damn glad I had it. Gladder still that I remembered to put gas in it! (thanks to Chuck for the reminders!)

A bike with a fairing - This falls under the bike purchase, sorta, but I did long ride on a Softail Custom with a detachable windshield and wind deflectors mounted, so I had an idea of a baseline for daily mileage. Having a fairing made the longer ride far less fatiguing, and gave me a longer daily range.

The Softail Custom, as set up for the road in 2010. (Yep, ugly as sin)

The Road King with Memphis Shades Fairing

True Track stabilizer - Made a world of difference in Big Blue. Stable for the entire ride, and took out almost all the Bagger Wobble. It paid for itself on every sweeping 80mph curve on I79 in West Virginia. I enjoyed every mile of it.

Kruzer Kaddy cup holder - Get one.

Saddlebag/Tour-Pack liners - I bought these liners a while back, just in case, and wow did they make my overnight stops easier. I just opened up the tour pack or saddlebag and hauled the liner, with contents, into the hotel room. No running back to the parking lot in my boxers to dig in the saddlebag for the toothbrush!

Powerlet 12V accessory plug, bar mounted - Kept the iPhone charged all the way up and back.

Harley rain gear - This Harley stuff may be pricey, but it works. Don't buy the cheap stuff. You'll just toss it and buy the good stuff anyway. (That's easy for me to say. My son and daughter-in-law gave me mine for a gift. Thanks Kenny and Debbie!)

PIAA High Intensity Headlamp - Nice....Far better than stock, and illuminated the critters that were all over the freakin' road out west. Two Gold Stars for Mark at Patriot HD for suggesting the upgrade.

New Metzler M880 Marathon tires. Great ride characteristics. I liked the way the bike felt with this tire design and tread pattern, and no worries on wet roads. And after the 4,920 miles, they still looked almost new, so these don't wear as fast as the Harley Dunlops.

Cruise Mate - This was an addition I made at Sturgis. I needed something to relieve the right-hand cramps and numbness on long stretches, and using the stock Harley star wheel just wasn't easy. The Cruise-Mate Throttle Control was a nice looking piece of machine work, and Kuryakn only charged me $50 for it, plus another $15 bucks to install it at the J&P Cycles lot at Sturgis. This little gizmo did the trick, working as I hoped. A quick flick with the thumb, and I was able to relax that right hand.

Installation, while pretty simple, requires rethreading a hole in the control, by the way. Minor mod to the stock hardware. Hence my request to get the Kuryakn guys to slap it on. Hell for 15 bucks, how could I say no?

There was just one thing that took some getting used to: there's no serious sense of pressure or resistance when it locks. It just didn't feel like it was "tightening up" against anything, but it worked just fine. I could also easily operate the throttle when it was on, so the rotational resistance applied by the CruiseMate's 1/4 turn doesn't cause safety issues. And a quick flick of your thumb disengages it completely.

Remember that a Cruise Mate is a throttle lock, and not a cruise control. When using it, uphill sections mean you'll slow down, and going downhill causes you to speed up (like a fucking rocket), but this little deal is an outstanding, low-cost solution for giving your right hand a rest on long trips, and is a lifesaver on the long flat stretches. Like anywhere between Denver and the eastern border of Kansas....

I tried to get one of these Cruise Mates installed before I left Virginia, but I ran out of time and opted instead for a quickly-available and slightly-easier-to-install solution from eBay. See below.

What didn't:

Manual Cruise / Throttle Lock, which is the exact name to search for on eBay - This throttle lock solution also worked, and saved me from a little numbness on the ride to Sturgis, but the damn thing was loaded with sharp edges, and it takes up some room at the top end of the grip. The lost room on the grip, half an inch or more, moved my hand down just a little too far to reach my turn signal button easily (doesn't take much), and that lever sticking up always seemed to catch on something.

And there were all those damn sharp edges. I thought I was going to need stitches before I got to Sturgis.

Bottom Line: I took it off at Sturgis and had the CruiseMate installed. But it does work, and doesn't require any mods to existing hardware. $33 bucks or so on eBay. Or stop by my place and I'll give you one, plus a couple bandaids.

ScalaRider Pro 2 headset - I spent a lot of time trying to make sure I found a helmet headset that enabled me to stream music from my phone via bluetooth. While I'm sure I wasn't doing things just right, I only got it to work once during the entire trip. Even then, the volume was low and I couldn't hear it well.

Yes, I know I'm partially deaf, but even cranked up, I didn't hear much, while the GPS voice was SCREAMING AT ME. TURN, TURN, TURN!!!! That fucking woman drove me nuts.....

Scala Headset Pt 2 - I wasn't using the microphone, but the damn thing must stay attached in order to use the rest of the unit. It was always in the way. After a while, I just gave up on this thing.

Note that in this pic, the receiver unit wasn't even attached. By this point, I'd given up on hearing any tunes, and that lady in the GPS was getting on my nerves.....

Scala Headset Conclusion - For the trip, it was a waste of money, but maybe it'll be OK for riding 2-up, so I won't list it on eBay. Yet.

GPS SunShade - High expectations, but could barely see the GPS in sunlight, before or after installation. Left it on cause it was better than nothing, but don't get your hopes up. And as you can see, despite the pretty pictures on the internet, it's sorta ugly.


TomTom Rider 2 GPS - On this ride, I really didn't need the GPS, but it was a convenience, and saved me from a few wrong turns. That said, trying to look at it in the bright sun, while simultaneously trying to keep from being run over, also caused me to miss a few turns so......

I also found out that this particular GPS wouldn't let me store a campsite location since it wasn't actually on a road. I thought that was a little fucked up.

On one occasion, I did get turned around in the Black Hills and wasn't sure which way was home, but in the Black Hills, with all the scenery and riding a motorcycle, who cares? Anyway, the TomTom Rider 2 GPS helped get me home.

iPhone handlebar mount - Damn, who cares where your iPhone is while you're riding?!? I thought having it up there would be convenient and cool, but in reality, not much value at all. The mount was close to the 12V power source so I guess that helped, but the phone could just as easily been in the windshield bag. I sure wasn't checking Facebook or reading texts while riding,,,,

One of the reasons for getting that mount was having the phone in a decent location for the bluetooth connection/reception, but since that was a bust, it almost wasn't worth the trouble of using the mount. I will say that the phone never got wet while in there, so that's a plus, but sometimes I wanted to use the phone, and had to unsnap the case, unplug the phone, etc, etc. etc.

Saddlebag lid organizer - They were there but I didn't use 'em. Just something extra to dig through.....

So that's just a few thoughts on equipment for a road trip. There was definitely more good than bad, and maybe I could have saved a couple hundred, but all in all, no regrets except I can still hear all those pings, voices, and nagging reminders that were received loud and clear through the headset, yet I couldn't hear the fucking music.