Monday, March 30, 2015

Getting the Bike Ready for Spring

Here on the Middle Coast, the weather is threatening to actually, you know, be halfway decent for riding.  I've seen some other folks out on the road already (including one guy on a Road King whose passenger was a Pomeranian wearing doggles), but I haven't been keen to get my bike all full of deicing chemicals, and deal with leftover gravel on the road and...

Well, actually, those reasons are complete bullshit.  I haven't had Triumph out because I've been waiting for parts. Also, about a week ago, there was a snowstorm that made sure I wouldn't be overly tempted to get Triumph out until I had the new parts installed.

The parts I specifically needed were a new clutch cable, and a battery hold-down strap.  Thankfully, they arrived just in time for me to install them this weekend.

It could have fallen into several spots that
would have been worse.
I've got to say, Triumph is a dream to work on.  Everything seems to be immediately and easily accessible.  On my Suzuki VX800, replacing the clutch cable took an entire afternoon due to all the fiddly little adjustments Suzuki, in their wisdom, decided a clutch needs.  Triumph's engineers, on the other hand, apparently said, "Isn't simply having a clutch lever adjustment enough?"

Changing that cable took me all of twenty minutes.  Five of those were because I dropped a nut into a spot I couldn't easily reach.  Luckily, I had a magnetic screwdriver (I hadn't been aware it was magnetic, so that was a bonus) and I was able to fish it out with minimal difficulty.

More challenging, believe it or not, was getting the battery hold-down strap in place.  That probably took ten minutes on it's own.  There wasn't anything particularly complicated about it, it was just hard to get the sucker into one of the hooks that holds it.

The only thing that remains to be done is to air up the tires a bit, and fix a crack I discovered in the vinyl near the bottom of the saddle.

Triumph should be on the road again soon!

Incidentally, does anyone have any advice on how to fix cracked vinyl?

Friday, February 06, 2015

Maybe This Will Help With The Boredom

Apparently SonjaM is bored enough that she wants to see pictures of my bike.  Well, our bikes.*  "Us" being the moto-blogosphere.

But less chatter, let's get down to the photos.

Sonja said she wants a picture of Triumph in front of a covered bridge.  That's easy!
As found in sunny, friendly Zumbrota Minnesota.
Sonja didn't specifically say she wants pictures of bikes in front of tanks, but she's getting one anyway.  It fits with the theme, I think.  After all, this tank has the bridge above covered.
As found in surprisingly well-armed Zumbrota Minnesota
Slightly trickier is a photo of Triumph in front of an airplane.  For all the time Triumph spends hanging around airports, you'd think I'd have one better than this...
Triumph also flies.  Just at a lower altitude than the planes.
If that's not cutting it for you, well, there's a picture here from the time I posed Triumph in front of a pretend Viking longboat.

There was a small issue with finding a photo of Triumph in front of a barn.  I have, to the best of my knowledge, never taken such a picture.

I have, however, taken a photo of Triumph in front of the Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota (or the world, depending on who you ask.).  Which is in a gazebo-like pagoda.  Which is kind of like a barn, except it's smaller and not shaped like a barn.  And it has a great big twine ball in it.
Yes really.  As found in scenic Darwin, MN.
I feel kind of bad not posting some kind of barn picture, though, so I went through some old photos and found one of me and my super cool, red, 1985 Nissan 200sx in front of a barn, from way back when I was younger and prettier.
As found somewhere in fertile Blue Earth County, MN.
That car was hella fast. And that coat was hella cozy.

Not enough for you?  Here are a few other folks who played along with Sonja's blog challenge:
Jason Ewert
Chiller Tek

*Triumph is convinced the whole thing is all about her.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Go Small, Go Now... But How?

Triumph informed me that she doesn't love dirt roads,
but that she now owns this one, all the same.

Due to a few minor mechanical issues,* and this weird weather here where tiny bits of frozen water fall from the sky, Triumph has been parked since late October. Which has left me with a bit of Parked Motorcycle Syndrome, as well as spare time to daydream about where to take the bike next.

Several people have suggested taking a ride along Minnesota State Highway 1.**

The trick is, it's a 270 mile ride just to get to Ely which, technically speaking, isn't even where MN 1 begins. That's a fairly long day on Triumph, but not that daunting. I've done a couple of 420 mile days, though by the end of those I was in pain. The Speed Four wasn't exactly built for touring.

Highway 1, once I've gotten to it, is roughly 360 miles end to end. It'll be another 360 miles to get back home from the North Dakota border. At the moment, that makes it a three day trip: One to get up north, one to ride across Minnesota, and one to get back to the Twin Cities again. And after three long days on Triumph, I suspect I'll need a day off so my legs and wrists can recover.

And I just realized that if I can add about 10 miles to that whole trip, it'd make an excellent loop to attempt an Iron Butt ride. Something to consider, though I don't think I'll be trying it on Triumph.

At some point, I'd like to get out to the House on the Rock as well. And I'd like to cruise up to Lake Itasca and explore the Minnesota and Wisconsin sections of the Great River Road. I also have a handful of postcards I'd like to send from the northernmost post office in the lower 48, up in scenic Angle Inlet, MN.

One of these is a war machine that rains death upon
any who dare oppose it. The other is a helicopter on a stick.
Lately I've been dreaming of getting a touring bike***, but it's going to take some significant saving before I can afford one. Which means it could be a while.

Cruising sailors say "Go small, go now," and I've always believed the best bike for motorcycle travel is the one you have in the garage. There is no perfect, just things that will work, and things that won't.

I want to spend the day chasing the horizon. But on Triumph, the pain sets in way before my desire to stop riding.

So my situation is this: I want to ride far, I have a naked sportbike, and I'd like to minimize the amount of pain I have to deal with while riding far. I know some of you folks do high daily miles on sportbikes. What tips can you give me for going further in a day and hurting less? How do I make it work?

And, since we're on the subject, any Middle Coast locals want to chime in on Minnesota/Wisconsin rides that shouldn't be missed? Riding season, for those of us who aren't on an Ural, is only 4 short months away. It's time to gather some ideas.

*Also known as "winter projects", I gather. More to come.
** Chris Cope, erstwhile Middle Coast resident and current Bloomington Rock City ambassador to Wales, was the first to suggest it.
***I've got it all picked out. More to come on that, too.