Farkle testing (Speedy, Caribou, Pinlock, Motoport, etc.)
This is a bit longish. It's my failed attempt to tour from Lincoln to Denver last week. Who knew that a cold front would blow in the last minute, and a warm/wet front would come up simultaneously from the south?! It didn't help that ALL forecasts pointed to 70s and sunny before I left. So I packed shorts and T-shirts only.
So, making lemonade out of lemons, I've decided to use this character building experience to assess the functionality of the farkles that I've installed on the V. Note that we were in the low forties (F) and torrential rain for all three days of riding. The wind was out of NW, then NE around 20 mph. With us travelling at 65 mph, I think that the windchill brought the effective ambient temperature down to the 20s.
The V behaved very well. NE roads (highways and blue routes) were mostly well paved, with infrequent cow pies. The rain washed most of them off, and the stock Dunlops worked okay. I didn't experience the adverse handling that the cousins across the pond have been complaining about. But then I didn't try to drag knees at all. Brakes worked fine, not up to the Brembo standards, but will perform with a firm squeeze. Wind gusts and semitruck wakes were a bit bothersome, especially in a head-on pass while in the downwind lane to a live-stock truck. The "country" smell after the great wash would last at least 5 minutes. I'm still getting ~60 mpg (going 65 mph average).
The Speedy lowering block and the flat foot worked as advertized: effective and unintrusive. Installation was 30 minutes for the lowering block. The first 15 minutes were spent finding the car jack stands. The last 5 minutes was sipping the Laphroaig and admiring the better-than-government fab quality from Speedy. It looked better than stock. I think that it should anodized in gold to shame Kawasaki. Oh, lowering the front was also done within the 30 minutes time frame. Note that I am just a shade tree mechanic with borrowed tools. Now, the flat foot was a different story, not because of any manufacturing deficiency, but due to my need to 'lean' the bike over a bit more when on the side stand. I cut the side stand close to 2.25 inches (Speedy suggested 1.5"). I then realized that the shaft was actually tapered and at the section that I cut, the shaft diameter was a bit too great for a slip fit into the Speedy foot. I spent another 30 minutes grinding down the shaft for it to slip into the foot. Word of advice: DO NOT use a hammer to pound the foot into the shaft. The shaft appears to be a hollow cast piece and may be a bit brittle. The bike now leans over a bit more (securely).
The HB crash bars worked, again. Walking the bike backwards (yep, with the low gel seat and the lowering of the suspension, I can do this!) in the parking lot at the rest stop, my left foot stepped on wet leaves covering a grease patch. Lesson learned: burn the leaves and always bring a bottle of toluene to wash off the pavement before relocating bike. Luckily, it was raining so hard that no one else was at the rest stop for that Kodak moment. The Caribou side case and the HB case guards stood the bike off the pavement. A spritz of rattle can black after the trip erased all evidence. I have now dropped it three times at <0.1 mph, but none at speed. Wonder what it means...
The SW Motech EVO racks coupled with the Caribou (Pelican) luggage kept everything thing dry. I need to learn to pack more lavishly. For a planned week trip, I only filled up 3/4 of the space (2X35L). Both the cases and the racks can be quickly removed. Construction appeared more robust than the stock Givi racks, and the Pelicans are certainly more durable than the Givi plastic cases. Neither the rack nor the cases rattled the whole trip. I now need to adhere some glow stickers/tape to pose as an ADV-rider. Although the rack kit was also furnished with rear blinker relocating attachment, I didn't bother. So, this is a viable alternative to the stock Givi offering.
I had the Givi screen. I'm not sure why people raved about it. At any height, it sucked. I kept getting the detached reverse flow, hence buffeting. I'm 5'9" and sitting on the low gel seat (am I too short?!). I finally relocated it to the lowest position and added 3/4" washers (1" rubber stopper drilled through lengthwise) on the bottom to tilt more horizontally. This gave cleaner air to my helmet. I believe that a Laminar Lip installed on top would do the trick. This is the next mod/experiment.
The Speedy GPS bracket is the shiznit for any item that one wants to mount directly in the line-of-sight, just above the clocks. I mounted my Garmin Zumo to it. Both performed fine. The mount was secure, and the Zumo did not mind the rain. I did not utilize the other gee gaws on the Zumo: blue tooth/XM-traffic. I just don't like a lot of electronics, otherwise I would've gotten the Goldwing, like my riding partner, with Sirius radio, CB and CD player, heated grips and seat, as well as a hot engine vent the directs toward the feet.
Now the NE countryside tend to be a bit boring, especially in the torrential and horizontal rain. My entertainment was the iPod Classic with the Q-Jay ear buds. The latter are also noise reducing, just like the popular Etymotic ER6s and ER4s. Since it's raining, I put the iPod under the jack where it's dry, and wirelessly control it with the iJet device. This combination worked well.
My riding gear consisted of Shoei Multitec/HJC SyMax3, Motoport kevlar mesh jacket/pants (remember, I expected Indian summer) with Gore Tex like zipped-in liners, Warm'n'Safe electric jack and gloves, Buff neck gaiters and old Sidi Stradas. Both helmets were quiet, but the Shoei was warmer and it has the Pinlock inserts on the shield. The Pinlock was absolutely essential during this rain filled trip. It never fogged up. I believe that they also stock shields for Arai. I was experimenting with helmets, so brought both on the trip. The Motoport gear rocks. I was never wet. True that the mesh was dripping a lot when we stopped, but the inner liner just plain worked, probably better than the 'Stich (that I also have). The only downside is that it takes a bit more effort to get in and out. At the cafes that we stopped for meals, my disrobing in the alcoves took a lot longer than any of the pole dancers at the gentlemen's clubs, certainly not as scintillating, but more amusing. The Warm'n'Safe probably saved my life, as I only had a pair of jeans and T-shirt on underneath. When I cranked the heatroller up to near max, I was toasty in the core. Unfortunately, I didn't get their water proof gloves. So, although the heating elements were trying to warm my hands, the wet leather and the 65 mph convective breeze kept my hands cold. I am going to contact Farklemasters for a pair of Gore Tex over gloves soon. The Buffs prevented my head from getting an ice cream headache. Alas, the old Sidis must go. My feet were wet, cold and miserable the whole time. I am looking at the Sidi Canyons as a possible replacement.
Well, I don't know if three days riding in the cold rain made me a better rider. It certainly made me a miserable one. It is the height of irony that I of all people, working intimately in the weather satellite business, did not sufficiently prepare/forecast prior to the trip. Oh well. I paid my dues. Maybe the next trip will be better.