Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

BMW R 1200 R

Today I got my dream bike, a BMW R 1200 R. My Honda VTX 1300 R is a great bike. In the year I owned it I got a sense of what I am looking for in a motorcycle. It's great for cruising and it looks really good plus it is solid as a rock as far as reliability goes. The BMW is sportier, safer, more efficient, lighter and it's just more suited to the kind of riding I do.
I bought it off Craigslist from a lawyer in Maryland. He really took care of it and rigged it for touring even though he mainly used it as a commuter. He added a lot of aftermarket accessories to make his commute easier which will benefit me greatly on my cross country trip.

The additions include.
  • hard saddle bags (lockable)
  • trunk bag big enough to hold my helmet.
  • extra lighting up front and in the rear
  • blinking brake lights
  • red LED brake lights around the license plate
  • highway bars which will be invaluable to me after many long miles on the road.
  • heated grips
  • onboard computer
  • power plug for charging accessories
I can't wait to pick it up on Tuesday and start enjoying it.
I added a ton of pics to my "Coast to Coast on a Motorcycle" set on flicker.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Hardware Upgrade

I'm thinking of upgrading my ride to a bike that is better suited for touring. This weekend I'm going to take a look at a BMW R 1200 R a guy is selling on Craigslist.

The BMW has several advantages over my Honda many of which will be particulalry handy on a long trip. For one it has anti-lock brakes. Also the brakes are linked so when I slam on the front brakes it also engages the rear brakes. This keeps the bike from nose diving as much and reduces the risk of going over the bars. Another cool feature is the "Telelever" on the front fork. Basically this little piece of engineering de-couples steering and suspension. The forks of most bikes handle both of these tasks doing neither optimally. There's similar hardware in the rear called the "Paralever". It keeps the rear wheel where it should be at all times.

The bike has a lot of creature comforts as well: heated grips, on board computer, tachometer, water proof hard cases. As a matter of fact it comes with a trunk bag in addition to the cases (not pictured). I can't wait to test drive it this evening. Theoretically the upright seating position will be more comfortable on long trips because the riders legs are directly beneath him/her. The rider can use his legs to absorb big bumps. On a cruiser like my Honda the legs are out in front of the rider. This puts your spine directly in line with the suspension such that it absorbs all the bumps and potholes.

What I like most about the BMW R 1200 R is it's versatility. Take off the bags and it makes a great city bike or all-purpose cruising bike. Put the bags on and you have a commuter / touring bike.

Check out if you want to see some great pictures from a guy that takes his R12 all over the country and beyond.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Luggage for the trip

Luggage for the trip
Originally uploaded by michaelb1

I just created a set on Flickr that is dedicated to pictures of my cross country motorcycle trip this summer. I really need to come up with a name for this trip so I don't have to type out " my cross country motorcycle trip this summer" everytime.
Here's a link to the set.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Gear Load-out

On the advice of a friend I stopped by REI yesterday to get some gear for my cross country motorcycle trip this July. Motorcycle camping is a lot like back country camping; you need to pack light and small.
REI has a heavily promoted annual sale. Don't expect to save a ton of money over online retailers but you will get the benefit of seeing, touching, feeling before dropping a C note on a sleeping bag.
Case in point, I walked into REI with the goal of purchasing the cheapest best sleeping bag I could find that would allow me to sleep through the night in Glacier National Park in July. After consulting with the shaved headed goatee'd salesman I bought the North Face Cat's Meow sleeping bag for $121. That's a pretty decent price but not cheaper than you can find online.
I'm not complaining though, the price was good and the sales guy helped me out a lot.

As I will be camping most nights of my 3+ week journey I thought I'd go ahead and get everything I need now at REI instead of little by little over the next month and a half. That may have been a mistake, we'll see.

Here's what I got (click links if you care enough to see the brand and model):

Now all that's left is rigging the bike for travel. I need to figure out a way to attach my large bag to the rear fender and saddle bag brackets. Then there is the power plug which I need to charge my cell phone and gps.
I got the North Face duffel from eBags for $130. It's huge so it should hold all the gear I need. I got the white one thinking any extra visibility would help. I plan to add some retro tape to the back and sides as well.