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Monday, October 29, 2012

Applications for my smart phone...

Recently I finally upgraded to a smart phone.  I did this for several reasons and frankly they were all bike related.  A simple GPS device on my phone could get me home if I got lost on back country roads, and could tuck easily into my jacket pocket with some attached ear buds.  Recently I downloaded Waze which seems like an interesting idea, "crowd sourcing" traffic information.  In other words, getting real time information on accidents, slow downs, police and other things that are along my programmed route.  Even providing different options on how to avoid something.  All the information is gathered by reports supplied by different Waze users.
(credit:  Waze)
The problem of course is how crowed the screen can get, and how you might be distracted by the information coming at you.   Nor is things like a slow down in traffic and accidents mentioned while you drive, although it did warn me of a car on the side of the road...when I was on top of it.  So if your not looking at the screen, your going to miss it.  Looking at the screen while riding the bike has some disadvantages of course.

I have already sung the praises of such programs as CRADAR and Guardian Angel and have downloaded applications that let me keep track of my maintenance.  What to do if I am in an accident (complete with a separate folder for photographs of said accident).  It even includes my doctor's name and emergency contacts. I'm not in a hurry to test these applications.

There is a large part of me that likes the idea of having all that info at my fingertips when needed.  There is even a program that will let me track my route on the bike for future downloads, sadly however that program seems unstable...being designed more for hiking and biking.  I could see using a similar program to map out my rides just in case I find something interesting.  I may try it again.   I recently learned of an application for my android phone called Trip Journal which I will have to try soon.  BreadCrumbz looks interesting as well.

An application available through Best Biking Roads which gives me access to available known routes, and living more or less in the center of the state of Florida I seem to have access to various routes, is pretty cool. However at a $9.00 cost to download it I'm not sure if it's worth it to me.

Then again the big question for will I actually use this stuff?  I have owned my Burgie for a little over a year and I can count the numbers of recreational rides I've had on it using my fingers.  Well I enjoy commuting on the bike daily, it was the reason I primary bought the bike for, I also know that the Burgie is built for riding.  That I enjoy exploring back roads and mysterious places.  That getting lost is not a bad thing.

First things first however, clutch replacement and a new front tire.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ah Maintenance your name is money!

Someone, somewhere in my comments section said that owning a bike is like owning a boat.  There is always going to be an issue somewhere.   How does that old joke go?  "What does BOAT stand for?"  "Bring on another thousand."

Lately I've been feeling that way about the bike.  I finally got my ugly ass in gear and had a major maintenance day on the bike.  I knew going in that this would would run me some money, after all I was finally installing the new CVT belt.  While that was open I figured I would get the final drive oil replaced, after all it had been over a year since that was done and it was time.  I had to get the engine oil changed out, the brake fluid levels checked, the front tire would also need to be replaced soon.  In other words, lots of little things that add up.

My front tire showing wear and crowning
Other than these basic maintenance needs the Burgie has been running fine.  Better than I could have hoped for really.  She needed a wash too but that could wait.

Normally I would take her to the place where I bought her, Eco Green Machine, but I had issues with them ever since the rear brake issues.  When I requested they open up the CVT casing and give me an idea on the belt life during an oil change they somehow managed to take all day and still could not get the casing off.  Even though they had a air hammer and I was there when the casing was attached with a air hammer.  I am not going to use any negative words here but lets say that I could no longer trust there work.  Nor would I feel comfortable in recommending them to another.

So I took my bike to a mechanic's shop here in town.  Frankly I could not be happier with there work so far, even though it is a little pricier you get what you pay for.  My whole bill was $180 for the work done and it only took them three or four hours for everything.   Sadly though they uncovered a problem.

This picture shows some uneven wear and tear on the clutch assembly.  If you look closely you can see where it actually created some grooves into the metal.  According to the mechanic it may have been sold to me that way or may have been assembled wrong.

Additional photo of the clutch assembly.  Notice the dark lines and groves.

Chipped and broken pieces here.  Somehow the rollers and sliders however were still in good shape.

I'm in the market for a clutch.  The price that they quoted me was for the Dr Pully HIT clutch, which is a quality part but frankly its an older bike and I am thinking that the Dr Pully clutch may, in fact, outlive the bike.  So it's tempting.

I'm in the process of getting some info now.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rally Season

Although I lived in North Carolina for years, the seasons here in Florida are different.   We still have four seasons of course.  Summer, "Snowbird Season" or Winter, "Love Bug Season" when we are surround by the mutant bugs from hell, and finally the Hurricane season.  Summer which by definition may be several 90 degree days in a row can occur at any time and can last three to nine months.

So a lot of "summertime" activities generally happen in the months traditionally occupied by "winter."  There is a logic to it of course, it's nicer to be outside when the temperatures are cooler and frankly; your taking advantage of the snowbirds as well.  Many of whom are looking for something to do.

Thus our state fair is in the middle of February for example.  With the lower temperatures come various biker and scooter rally's as well.  In a effort to get the word out I'm going to spend a few minutes talking about three upcoming rally's that I know of.  Why you should go to at least one of them, and finally introduce to a neat little smartphone app I found that might save your life.

 Sun, Sand and Scooters is the second annual rally held in St. Petersburg and is being held from November 9th through the 12th.  St. Pete is a very friendly city for scooters and motorcycles and is world famous for it's beaches.  What is really nice about this rally is that one of the sponsors is the Magnuson Hotel and Marina.  So you can literally stay at one of the nicer resorts, go riding, go swimming, go riding, sleep in comfort.  I may be mistaken but I think registration ends soon.
Sadly I did not get to attend this rally last year because I heard about it to late.  I do hope to get the time of of work for this year.

The second annual Snowbird Classic is November 16th through the 18th.  Last year I understand some 90 scooterists showed up for the event and this year promises to be even bigger.  Sadly, do to my job (I work for a GPS company so I am pretty much "on call"), I was not able to attend last year's rally.  However I am providing a special door prize for this rally (more on that below).  So I plan on taking at least two of those three days off and attending this rally come hell or high water.   Orlando is also home to various Florida institutions that are to numerous to name here.   So when not on your ride you can certainly take advantage of some magic.

Recently I learned about the Cocoa Beach Scooter Rally, which will be held from February 22nd through the 24th.  This appears to be less of a riding event and more of a social event, due to the fact that it attracts many British and other Europeans to the event.  However that means that you will have the chance to chat with people that clearly have a more defined "scooter" culture than we have in the states.  There is also a Tiki theme meaning that you will finally be able to wear that coconut bra that is taking up room in the back of your dresser drawer.  Also being this close to the Kennedy Space center it's a shame not to visit.

As some of you may know, in addition to my work in GPS, I am also self employed.  Recently my company became associated with Angelic Imports which is the exclusive importer for the wonderful Goufrais Chocolates from Germany.   I am giving the readers (all 10 or 15 of you) the chance to have this product at a discount, but only if you order through me.  If you desire to go through the website please be sure to mention Trade Specials LLC  although I can not offer you the discount then.   This would make a great door prize at rally's and with Christmas coming up....well need I say more?

OK, that was the plug.

Roughly two or three weeks ago I caved in and bought myself a smart phone.   I have been a fan of CRADAR since I first heard about it and frankly, it was one of the reasons I upgraded to a smartphone.  Riding at night and having deer running around, it just made sense to me to have something contact someone in case of an accident or injury.
Recently I found another application for a smart phone that I wanted to bring to your attention   This is also a free application and has a similar function to CRADAR.    Guardian Angel is an application designed to save your life.  If you have earphones, and who doesn't, you attach them to the phone and then to the bike; or wear them.  In case of a crash the earphones will most likely become unattached  the phone calls your contacts and uses the phone's GPS function to give your location.

Safe riding and I hope to see you at a rally!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Falling for Pennsylvania all over again.

I was born and raised in suburban Pittsburgh.  I grew up there and in a lot of ways it will always be home.  It is over 1600 miles from me now and a lifetime away.

As I drove the back country roads of Butler and Mercer county, where my parents are "snowbirds" and my girlfriend's family still lives year round,  I looked for bikes.  Only one Burgie sighting the entire time there.  Other bikes seemed scarce, probably due to the rain and the promise of cold weather - the temperature was in the low 60's and high 50's while I was there; typical for the time of year.  Most but the most serious motorcyclists had put away their rides for another year and the promise of spring.

In another week or two and the leaves would be in full glorious color and as I drove down some of the twisty roads that make up this part of Pennsylvania all I could think was how much I wished I brought the bike.   There is always next year of course.

A simple trip to nearby McConnells Mill State Park brought back memories of college and what first sparked my interest in hiking and other "outdoor activities."

At times I do miss home and all the memories and friends that I had there.  Florida, despite it's own natural beauty and interesting people is just a different place.  In some ways my home here in West Central Florida is home but my heart belongs somewhere else.   Sometimes I think it belongs in Charlotte, NC.  Other times in Charleston, SC.  Two very different cities where I have fond and loving memories.  You never know where the road takes you, and the heart has it's own GPS.

It just calls to you don't it.

Natural springs outside of Slippery Rock, PA

The New River Gorge Bridge in W Va