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Is this my perfect bike?

I have had the Ninja nearly a year and a half now. When I bought it I was debating something else, maybe a 300. Perhaps the ER-6n or it’s more dressed twin, the Ninja 650R (a.k.a. ER-6f.) And then I found the deal on this Ninja 1000.

Even then I wasn’t sold on it. Was I ready for a liter bike? My ex-wife had insisted that I was nowhere close, after all.

I’ve ridden lighter and heavier bikes, from a 300 pound ’05 Ninja 250 to an 800 pound ’98 Kawasaki Voyager XII, and ones with larger engines (1200cc,) but this would be by far the most powerful bike I’ve had. The only thing closest to the combination was a demo ride on a Triumph Street Triple a few years ago. I knew that it would be different than my R1100R, which could get the front wheel just barely off the ground if I did it just right. With the 1000 if I goose the throttle in 1st or 2nd it was going to a question of when, not if, that front wheel left the pavement.

I read and watched reviews, read the specs, and had a good idea of what to expect. In the first month I was cautious with it, not out of fear but respect that I could get myself into trouble with it that wasn’t possible with my prior bikes. With a single exception the bike delivered exactly as I anticipated. That exception was low-speed handling, where it was better than I had expected.

On Labor Day of 2017 I wrecked. I know what I did wrong – I screwed-up a turn and went a bit wide. I didn’t leave my lane but found some fine gravel similar in color to the pavement on the outside edge of my lane. I realize now that still had me shaken a bit until this week.

I began riding with a group in Houston who does faster pace rides. On Friday I was behind an S1000RR whose rider liked to slow a bit extra before turns and accelerate through and out of them. I started doing the same. He could pull away from me slightly if I did a top gear roll-on but if I clicked down to 5th I kept up fine.

We also found a county road that had an unpaved section. Recent rains and a lack of recent maintenance meant there were a few sections of mud which I had no trouble riding through it. When we got to our lunch stop a couple of my fellow riders expressed that they were impressed and I told them it reminded me of when I was a new rider in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I lived on an unpaved road so my rides began and ended with half a mile of dirt or mud and gravel.

200 miles later I realized I had regained my comfort with riding and, in particular, this bike. This Ninja is perfect for me. Sure, I’m never going to have it on the track or be a stunt rider, but those aren’t things I want to do. I know the perfect motorcycle doesn’t exist, but for my interests and purposes, this bike is almost as close as it can be. The only things that would make it better are an OEM top case and electronic cruise control, but I’m not going to complain too much here.

Hybrid travel – motorcycle to/from the airport

Twice this year I’ve had air travel where rides weren’t easily available on the home end so I took the bike. The first was to Minneapolis in August for a conference while the second was to Raleigh in October for a conference and to visit with my parents and friends.

Doing this on a motorcycle is a bit of an experience. For the Minneapolis trip I decided to just use my saddlebag liners as carryon luggage.

As you can see there’s a lot – including a second pair of boots, my drop spindle and fiber, and a purse, plus several changes of clothes.

For the Raleigh trip I used a Rev Pack tail bag (a more square one than the models they make now,) one of the saddlebag liners, and my camera bag.

Houston has two airports and I flew from both across these trips. One has free parking available for motorcycles while the other doesn’t. I used the free parking for the one trip and FastPark for the other.

Sena 20s follow-up

I’ve had the 20s for just over a year and like it even less. The volume change issue remains but now has come poor battery life when powered off. I can charge it one day, use it for around an hour, and the next day it is giving low battery notifications within 10 minutes of use. In regular use it will last far longer than that so it seems something causes the battery to drain when it is powered off.

Raleigh to Houston: the long way around.

In June I moved from Raleigh to Houston. This trip happened in two parts: driving a moving truck out then flying back, and then taking a road trip on my Ninja 1000. The goal of this trip, and the reason for nearly every stop along the way, was to visit friends. The only exceptions were getting a replacement chain in Missouri, and touring a submarine in Oklahoma.

Leaving my apartment for the final time.

Continue reading Raleigh to Houston: the long way around.

Cortech GX-AIR

After my minor wreck on The Snake on Labor Day I needed a new jacket and fast. My local dealer had some but this was the best option that for me.
If you have read my review of the Fieldsheer I had before this jacket is mostly the same. The zipper pulls appear more robust and it lacks the full perimeter zippers of both liners plus the external cuff zippers for the rain liner. Instead it used the snap tabs that go through elastic loops (two at each cuff and two on opposite sides at the waist.) At the collar there are three sets of mating snap tabs, no loops.

My only real dislike is that the insulated liner is a vest rather than full length. This isn’t an issue for most riders but I sure felt it this morning commuting in 28F/-2C.

Sena 20S: I wanted to like it.

Like the SMH10 but with one serious flaw for me: easy inadvertent volume changes.

I went to the mountains of North Carolina for Labor Day Weekend and the ride out included riding through three bands of downpours, the remnants of Hurricane Harvey. On that I found the limits of the weatherproof ability of my SMH10. It wasn’t in spectacular fashion, rather it refused to accept a charge and smelled faintly of the magic smoke plus when I shook it a bit some drops of water came from somewhere inside. I’d already been contemplating replacing it because the battery life was growing short…

I went to the BMW Motorrad dealer in Asheville because they were listed as a dealer of both Cardo and Sena. I was more interested in a Cardo model but they only had Send in stock. Wanting one for the trip I decided to go for it.

The mount is slightly redesigned, which I like. The thing that looks like a thumb tack below the jog wheel is the release; the electronics unit now slides on from the top and has a positive lock. I like this because the plastic spring clip on my SMH10 had fatigued a bit and no longer solidly held all the time. There’s is now a second LED to indicate the charging status, located next to the micro USB socket.

The mount has two other additions: a button on the bottom called Ambient (I haven’t used that yet) and a jack on the front for your preferred earbuds.

The redesigned jog wheel requires a lighter touch. However, if you are one of the people for whom a jacket that fits elsewhere means it is a bit loose in the shoulders you may hit my problem: the jacket can easily rub against the jog wheel and change the volume unexpectedly. I find it happens almost every time I turn my head and cam happen even with slight movements at highway speeds. Tonight, on an in town ride of 7 miles it did so at least a dozen times. If it tries to increase the volume but it’s already at max the result is a rather piercing dual tone from the speakers.

Due to that I’m likely to save up for a Cardo and sell the 20S.

Back to riding

Well, I have been. Angela and I split late last year. We are, as much as possible, keeping things amicable. The R1100R is my only motor vehicle now. I moved downtown and am less than 10 miles from work.

Finally got out today (Sunday) to do a group ride with some friends. The weather here was simply gorgeous.

This photo is from a few weeks ago, on another nice day, at the region biker breakfast meetup.

Blue Ridge trip

In July we took a vacation to Floyd, Virginia, and Little Switzerland, North Carolina. Not a lot to say about it but it was a needed break.

This guy was hanging out in Floyd.

Mabry Mill

At one point I picked up a hitchhiker – a butterfly got stuck against my brake control. Surprisingly it was fine and fluttered away after an hour of being stuck there while I rode.

 While waiting out a rain storm along the Blue Ridge Parkway
The view from our hotel in Little Switzerland.