Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Riding to save the environment

My V-Strom 650 gets an average of 50 mpg. On most longer trips it gets up to 54 mpg. Last week I rode my bike to work every day in an effort to save money on gas (my car only gets 24 mpg). Of course, it rained four out of those five days. By the end of the week I was sick of riding. That feeling lasted five minutes, of course.

I know someone that bought a V-Strom primarily as a commuting vehicle and only rides it recreationally a few weekends a month, if he's lucky. I bought my V-Strom for long multi-day solo road trips and tours, and am just now getting into the habit of commuting on it.

What's great about this bike is it will serve each purpose equally well. It's probably the best bang for the buck of any touring bike available today. There are other bikes that may be more comfortable or have greater luggage capacity for long trips, but they cost twice as much (or more). I've got $10,000 into my bike, including all my riding clothes and helmet and just about every farkle and accessory you can imagine (except for a GPS unit; there's always Christmas). Most other bikes cost more than that before you've paid for a single add-on or luggage item.

For me, long trips was the reason for the bike's purchase. Riding to work is a bonus.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Going really fast without leaving the building

Last night I was able to go really really fast around a race track without ever actually stepping outside. A fellow V-Strom rider buddy of mine named Keven is friends with one of the chief engineers at Motoczysz in Portland, Oregon (pronounced "moto-sizz"). They are a custom race bike manufacturer coming out with a revolutionary new bike called the C1. The specifics of what makes it revolutionary are hush-hush -- we had to sign non-disclosure agreements before entering the building -- but I can tell you it is definitely not an 'also ran' like the big bike manufacturers.

We were given a tour of their entire facility and got to see how they concept, design, engineer, prototype, test, and manufacturer almost every component of the bike (very little of it is after-market). Even if the bike itself were ordinary and uninteresting -- two descriptions that definitely do not apply -- being able to see their facility and processes was a fascinating treat.

Four V-Strommers outside Motoczysz
After our tour we parked our bikes in front of their logo-painted motor coach and took a group photo. I'm the one on the far right that looks like the Secret Service bodyguard detail attached to the group.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Funny how your priorities change

Anyone that knows me can tell you that computers are an important part of my life. They practically are my life, considering I've made a career out of numerous aspects of the information technology field (I'm currently the IT Manager for a fisheries consulting firm). So a funny thing happened a few weeks back during a discussion with my wife about priorities.

Times are tough with the economy in the toilet. Unemployment is up and many people are fearful of losing their job, assuming they still have one. My wife and I were discussing what we'd do if either one of us became unexpectedly unemployed. We talked about what kind of jobs we'd pursue and what steps we'd take to tighten the belt and cut back on expenses.

She asked me if I would sell any of my computers.

At first that idea sounded as preposterous as asking me if I'd sell my family to an off-shore sweat shop. But then I gave it some more thought and realized that I really would be willing to sell my precious computers. In fact, after further contemplation I came to a realization. I would take all the things I own and put them on a list. I would prioritize that list with the first to go at the top. What would be at the bottom of that list?

My motorcycle.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Chain, chain, chain

Sing it with me now, "Chain, chain, chain ..... chain of fools" No, seriously, it's not foolish to put a decent chain and new sprockets on your bike. Especially when it's hit 12,000 miles, as mine did over the weekend. My original factory chain and sprockets aren't looking too bad, but I've got some big trips this summer and 12,000 miles is a good change interval for original equipment.

I bought a DID 525 'gold' chain from Adventure Motostuff in Nevada and will have my local Suzuki dealer install it. It's a highly recommended brand/model and if I take good care of it I can expect to get up to 25,000 miles out of it. I'll get OEM sprockets, front and rear, from my dealer and have them swapped out at the same time. My bike's also due to have the throttle bodies synced. The engine has been running fine and my fuel mileage is still between 50-53 mpg, but I hear the TBS usually needs to be done every 10,000 miles anyway.

My tires still look good. I'm running Metzler Tourance and have been very happy with them. I've got a small degree of flattening going on in the center of my rear tire, but the amount of actual tread remaining is still at least 80-90% of original, plenty to last the season.

So far the bike has been flawless with no mechanical or other problems whatsoever. From all that I gather, as long as I take care of it my V-Strom will be trouble-free for a very long time.