Blogs » Motorcycle Blog: Beyond the Ride
A local motorcycle enthusiast's look at motorcycles, motorcycle gear and anything that goes into enjoying a ride — including where you can find the stuff in our area.
Posted: February 28th, 2013

I was taking a look through my archives and came across this interesting post.  I think it’s pretty relevant because now is just a perfect time to do the kinds of upgrades I discuss.

 

Let me know what you think…

 

What I loved about my Fat Bob is that being a Harley the world is my oyster when it comes to customization.  I mean seriously, there are like a million different manufacturers, even small one-off places.  For example there’s Horsepower, Inc – where they make their own custom performance upgrades including a terrific air cleaner system.  I compared this against the stock air cleaner, a Harley Davidson Screaming Eagle Air Cleaner and the Vance and Hines VO2 NakedAir Intake, with a decorative cover that just reeked of quality.

They all had a significant improvement in power and responsiveness over stock, but I was happy to see that the Home Team did really well – it tied with the Vance and Hines for best horsepower improvement, and totally crushed the competition when it came to torque where the Horsepower V2 came in at a whopping 96 lbs compared to 93 for the Vance and Hines and 90 for the Harley.  Just to be fair, the Harley unit tested here was the entry level one and the Horsepower unit the priciest by quite a bit.  If you’re on a little bit of a budget, but want to get great bang for your buck the Vance and Hines comes in at $139.95 for the intake and you can re-use your cover.  Their rather splendid looking cover  comes in at just $50 and really does a good job of making the bike stand out.  If you’re like me and are itching to squeeze every ounce of performance you can out of your bike without having to shell out the really big bucks that an engine upgrade costs then I really do recommend the Horsepower unit.  They actually have two versions, so you can save a little if you go with their more basic one.

Did I go with the Horespower unit?

Well no I didn’t actually – but that’s because I’m in love with those forward facing bad-a$$ air intakes, like the Screamin’ Eagle Heavy Breather.  It’s a little pricey at $299 but the good thing is that it performs very well.  On a different Dyno than the other intakes, it came in second with 95 lbs of torque and first in horsepower.  I kept it on there for looks though – I just think it’s awesome looking.  But the fact that it’s near the top in terms of power certainly doesn’t hurt.

Forgetting about dyno sheets for a minute and talking about real world feedback all three intakes really make a heck of a difference.  I didn’t get to ride the Fat Bob with the Horsepower Intake but I rode a friend’s Street Bob and it felt really strong – as did the Heavy Breather that I did ride on my own bike.  The basic Harley air cleaner kit and the Vance and Hines kit both felt good, and again the Vance and Hines gets my cote for bang for the buck.  There were quite a few more upgrades done – we’ll talk about those in the next few weeks, but what really brought everything together was adding in a Power Vision by Dynojet and having Eric at Horsepower custom Dyno-Tune it.  I’ve used Eric and the team before on several bikes but this time he really outdid himself.  The difference was amazing and the bike ran cooler, smoother and more efficiently than before.

I chose the Power Vision over their Power Commander V for a couple of reasons.  First off the new Power Vision seems to be a lot more powerful than the PCV.  If I were to do the tune myself, which the PCV certainly makes easy, I’d probably go with that one.  Since I had the bike dyno tuned though I figured I’d go all out and get the Power Vision, which competes very well with Harley Davidson’s Super Tuner.  Whether you have a simple pipe, fuel manager and intake deal or you crack the motor open and get really busy a good dyno tune really gets things going.  The other key component I added in was Dynojet’s Autotune module.  This incredible product let’s me basically take Eric on the road with me wherever I go.  What I mean is that it learns from my riding style, environmental changes, etc, and auto-corrects the program.  Even better, if I add (or remove) any equipment it will learn from that too and get my map just right.  Dynojet states that you don’t even need to have a professional tuner work on your bike, but as far as I’m concerned the best starting point is working with a pro like Eric and letting the Autotune go from there.

Horsepower, Inc. is one of two (that I know about) Dynos in the area, with the other being at Precision Bikeworks.  I haven’t given them a chance yet as far as Dyno work goes, but I’ve heard good things. Either way dialing your bike in properly is a smart move and you’ll thank me for it if you do.

Next time we’ll talk about the exhaust upgrade and what an amazing improvement over stock it was in terms of both power and sound.  You guys voted for it – the Vance and Hines Big Radius 2 into 1.

The great things about all of the products I mention here today is that they are super easy to find locally.  Our sponsor, Precision Bikeworks/Triumph of Erie can get them, as well as many other places around town.

In the meantime be well and ride safe,

Rob

 

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: February 27th, 2013

 

Schuberth C3 Modular Helmet  

I’ve been thinking about this write-up for a long time now, not quite sure how to put my feelings into words that won’t sound too over-the-top.  It’s hard, you know.  You could read all the real serious reviews of  this helmet on the internet and get a little bit of understanding.  You could look at the big shoot-outs in different magazines and get a little more.  But to be brutally honest what you really need to do with this helmet is pick it up and wear it.  Since no one in Erie stocks it though I’ll tell you a little bit of what I can…

It started with Sarah Schilke, Schuberth’s North American Marketing and PR Manager.  She called me at my home, and we Skyped over my iPad.  That alone was super cool AND my first time, although I didn’t admit that to Sarah, lol.  For well over an hour she told me all about what makes Schuberth so special, from their building techniques to their quality control to their incredible customer service.  I felt really special, until I learned that the people at Schuberth do this for all of their customers if they need it.  Okay, maybe not to the same level but still.

At $699 the Schuberth C3 isn’t cheap.  But the level of comfort on it is incredible.  It is by far the most comfortable helmet I’ve ever worn, and their very clever retention system, that creates a sort of curtain around your neck, inspires confidence that should you fall your lid isn’t going anywhere.  It also has a built-in sun visor that works perfectly, and offers excellent visibility overall.

It’s also extremely quiet – quieter than my previous favorite full-face Bell Star and quieter than my buddy’s Arai.  According to some of the reviews I’ve read it’s one of the quietest helmets around, which is great considering you can also get it with an integrated communication system that fits in with the retention collar.  With this installed you barely notice the added weight, but you get a top-notch comm that works with the award winning Cardo Scala system.

Fit and finish of this helmet blew me out of the water too, along with the very light weight, especially for a modular.

Another area where this helmet distanced itself from the competition was ventilation.  Besides the fact that it would just not fog up (thanks to the pin lock visor) it kept me very cool in some very hot riding.  Frankly it had much better venting than any other modular I’ve worn, by a large degree.

I understand that $699 seems like a ton of money, but if you can swing it (or maybe skip a night out or two) this helmet will reward you.  Schuberth’s excellent warranty and customer service should mean that any problems you might come across will at least be addressed if not resolved the right way.  I’m dying to see their full-face helmets, like the S2 as well as an uber-helmet I keep hearing whispers about.

Schuberth also very thoughtfully makes this helmet in a Ladies’ specific version, the C3W - very smart as women represent so much of the growth in the hobby.

The closest store that you can actually try one of these on is BMW Motorcycles of Cleveland, over in Aurora.  They are only 77 miles away so it’s not too bad.  If your travels take you more often to Pittsburgh they carry them at European Motorcycles of Pittsburgh as well.  I’m hoping that one of the local dealers will start carrying them – we are lucky enough to have Off-Road Express carry Arai now so if someone else steps up and carries these that would be terrific.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: December 4th, 2012

Hello everyone – hope you are enjoying the weather.

I’ve mentioned before that winter is a great time to buy a motorcycle and I’m sticking to my previous statement – especially if you don’t have to trade one in or sell one to benefit.

You can get a terrific deal at all of the local dealers on leftover new bikes, whether it’s a 2012 Road King at Harley Davidson of Erie or a Speed Triple (Great Bike!!!) at Triumph of Erie – or a killer new Victory Judge over at Off-Road Express.  I just checked with “Robo” at Offroad and he said they have a red one and that’s it, and that they will make a deal on it.  He’s a good salesperson who will work hard to win your business and keep you satisfied after the sale too.  These leftovers come with full warranties and typically excellent savings.  If you find a leftover 2011 or older – and if you work hard and are flexible I’m sure you will – you can really get a sweet deal on brand new bike.

Used bikes are great winter buys as well – whether at the dealer or privately.  I would check out the GoErie motorcycle section, although in the winter they run a little thin naturally.  I would also really check out www.advrider.com for a huge variety of privately owned bikes, although most aren’t local so what I would really do is use the pricing you find on sites like it to keep the dealers straight.  They probably can’t go as low as some guy in Kentucky but you also don’t have to drive 8 hours and have a local relationship to help you with issues and upgrades.  Trust me I’ve learned the hard way that a good local relationship is better than saving a few hundred bucks and having to start from scratch.

My picks:

Offroad has a very interesting 2011 V-Strom 650 ABS and a 2012 Victory High-Ball that I bet you could get a great deal on considering some other guy already took the depreciation.  Don’t forget to ask for Robo.

Triumph of Erie has my old 2009 Speed Triple that I personally loved, as well as an insane 2010 Thunderbird that I just can not believe is still on their website.  This thing is a monster and would make a Harley CVO costing three times the amount have to sit back and enjoy its taillights.  They also have a 2007 Scrambler that I’m fighting the urge not to call Gary Hammer about – you never find those and they have it listed for $5,395.

Harley of Erie has a 2010 Wide Glide with 820 miles – wow is that special – I would ask for Denny over there.  He’s one of those guys that will always greet you by name and takes the time to get to know his customers.

Finally Forest Park Honda has one of the best used bikes in town, a 2012 Triumph Tiger Explorer.  I spoke to Carl and he told me about the special exhaust, rear case and other items that are on the bike.  What I like is the super low mileage (3000ish) and the fact that their STARTING price is thousands less than the $15,699 base price if you were to buy it new.  Add in the extras and you’re easily over $17K – Carl’s asking only $13,995 and given the time of year I’d try to negotiate that a bit but even so you have a fair price.

There are more dealers in the area to look for and more outlets as well, but these are my picks for the season – I’d be glad to own any of these.

Ride safe!

Posted in: Motorcycles
Posted: November 6th, 2012

I love autumn. I love it in general but I really love it when it comes to riding. The beautiful scenery, cooler weather, less minivans going nowhere while talking on their cell-phones – all these things plus a few good Oktoberfests really make the fall my favorite time of year to ride.

Unfortunately there seem to be fewer riders out there too. A lot of folks I know look at this as the time of year to start putting their bikes away and I’m kind of dismayed by that. Living in Erie, where the winter just crushes us for three or four months, I try to get every minute possible out of riding season. Actually I try to ride at least one day per month even in the dead of winter but that is sometimes tricky.

Anyway I’ve been thinking about why some people put away their rides just when it starts getting fun and I’m guessing it has a little bit to do with safety. Sure, that guy on the Fat Boy dripping in chrome and LED’s (and maybe a little leather fringe too) probably isn’t taking a chance once the weather starts getting rough, but he could with just a little bit of a change in plans.

First things first is gear. I don’t care what you ride. If you’re not prepared for the weather, you aren’t going to have a fun time. In fact you could have a downright dangerous time. If you’ve taken an Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course (if you haven’t click here and TAKE ONE http://www.pamsp.com/), you already know how important matching your clothing to your ride is, but just in case here’s a primer:

1. Be prepared for changing conditions. In the summer it’s a little easier to predict the weather. In the fall, as you know, it can start off warm and bright and finish up a wet, chilly night. Layers will help you here, along with a good vented jacket that you can seal up if things get too cold. If you have bags all the better, then it’s cake to have a set of thermals as back-up. Footwear and gloves are important too. Not only do you need your extremities warm enough to give you feel on the grips and a solid stance when you are stopped, but having a good pair of slip-resistant boots can help prevent falling at a leaf covered intersection — and having to find one of those minivan drivers help you pick the bike up.

2. Many riders don’t typically wear helmets, but in the fall a helmet can provide warmth in addition to security. A brightly-colored lid can help you be spotted  more easily if it’s gets a little drab out. Bring something for your neck too.  Any cold weather on your neck can feel like a sliver of ice if the rest of you is nice and toasty.

3. You’ve hopefully put on quite a few miles in the summer, so take a moment and make sure your bike is in tip-top shape. MSF has an acronym – T-CLOCS – that stands for:

  • T – Tires, Wheels, and Brakes
  • C – Controls
  • L – Lights and Electrics
  • O – Oil and Other Fluids
  • C – Chassis
  • S – Stands

Go through your owner’s manual and check into each one of these separate pieces and make sure it is in the same shape it was when the season started. If you want more detail, you can check out the MSF’s website and download the PDF of the entire Basic Rider Course manual http://www.msf-usa.org/CurriculumMaterials/BRCHandbook2009.pdf.

4. Buddy up. I love riding solo – but in the fall, riding with a friend or two can make your experience all the more interesting as well as increase your level of safety. An investment in helmet-to-helmet communicators (which we will be reviewing shortly), can add to the experience as long as it does not become distraction.  In addition, having a friend can result in longer rest stops (to talk about the ride) and gives you another set of eyes if the weather gets ugly.

5. To sum it up: Make sure that you think about your route, your bike and yourself. If they all check out fine then get out and enjoy the day!

– Rob

Posted in: Riding Advice
Posted: September 25th, 2012

I’ve had these boots for a little bit now – you might remember I used them on my ride back from Philly last fall when I
picked up my Yamaha Stratoliner S (a bike I’ll own again one day).  They were great, but one ride on the Turnpike wasn’t nearly enough to get a good idea as to their benefits.  Now that I’ve had a lot more time to evaluate them I can tell you that my first impression was actually rather conservative – these are terrific boots.  Extremely affordable at only $200 they offer features found on much more expensive boots, and fit and finish that is better than many more expensive boots.  What I really like about the boots is their water resistance and their level of protection in case of a fall.  The tread is great too, although I do strongly prefer a boot with a lug sole like normal non-riding boots tend to have.  That’s a personal preference though – these soles really do the trick and are long lasting to boot.

The only sad thing is that these boots are now discontinued, but I’ve tried on several of their other boots and they all seem to have the same terrific features that these do.  The ones that I would choose that seem to be most comparable to these are the Sidi Traffic Rain.  A little smaller and with that lug sole that I like.  You can get them at Motonation - they happen to be a great source for all sorts of cool, rather unique gear; Vemar helmets, AGV Sport jackets and race suits and more.

Ride Safe,

 

Rob

 

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: September 17th, 2012

Wow, I’m just so excited about this bike – it’s why I have written about it I”ve been busy riding it and getting through the brutal break-in period.  Triumph conveniently tells you (right on the tank) what revs to limit the bike to at different mileage.  So for the first 50 miles you limit it to this RPM, the next 50 miles to that.  Right now I’m at 300 miles so I can FINALLY get to 6,000 RPM – which is still sooo frustrating, hehe.  This being my first new bike in many years though I plan on breaking it in properly so that I can keep it for many more.  The 5,000 RPM limit kept it just a hair under 80 – I can’t wait to see how much speed the extra 1,000 RPM will give me, hehe.

So far I’ve added the aforementioned bar-end mirrors and fly screen – and last week Stephanie from Triumph of Erie called to let me know my tailbag was in.  This tailbag is really cool as it simply sits on the passenger portion of the bike and is easily removable.  What I like best about it is that it’s not really that noticeable, and if I do want to hold it instead I can take it off in a flash, even use it as a backpack.

Posted in: Motorcycles, Other
Posted: September 4th, 2012

Sport Touring bikes are probably the best all-around bikes out there.  A Sport Tourer is designed to handle well, move quickly, over long distance comfort and typically storage.  Their agility makes them at home around town and their power and handling make them great long-range options.  Speaking of options, there are a legion of them to choose from when it comes to Sport Tourers too, and most of them fall in at a different part of the word – from “Sport” to “Touring”.

Take for example this  2011 Kawasaki Concours 14  graciously provided by Joe Askins and the gang over at OffRoad Express…  It is definitely more on the Sport side of the equation if you ask me.  Breathtaking power, superb handling and tight ergonomics make for a bike equally at home at the track as the blacktop.  Sure it has great big saddlebags for storage, and an electronically adjustable fairing – but it’s got a set of cojones that rival those on a dedicated Sport Bike.  Standard ABS, superb traction control and excellent linked braking make the bike feel extremely safe and secure, instilling confidence to the rider.  I love ABS on this type of bike, although I do wish that Kawasaki had allowed the rider to completely shut if off given the right situation.  On the other hand, it’s terrific that those linked brakes come in two modes, so that you can choose how much control you want over what wheel brakes when.

The bike also has excellent heated grips, a very readable display screen and as I mentioned excellent ergonomics.  At first I complained about the location of the controls for the grips – they are on a dial mounted off to the side.  Granted you have to hunt for the dial if you want to change on the fly, but they work so well that you will soon get used to it and set things up in advance.  The display screen is clear and readable as well, delivering the information you need at an easy glance.  As far as the ergos go, I felt like I could ride this thing all day and still be able to enjoy myself once I got to my destination.

The only thing I have to warn you about (he says with a grin) is the power.  This bike really is a monster.  When you twist the throttle it GOES.  Period.  Whatever gear you are in is the right gear, but a little down shift and you’ll feel like you just got shot out of a cannon.  With many other bikes this kind of power can be a challenge, but the Concours does everything it can to keep you right in the zone, and comfy cozy regardless of speed.

I would strongly suggest testing one of these out if you are looking for a great all-around bike – you can form your own opinion at Off-Road Express West on Peach just South of 90.  Greg took care of me and he was a terrific guy – very informative about the bike and willing to talk about all of my options.

Good luck and ride safe,

Rob

 

Posted in: Motorcycles, Reviews

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