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Sunday, 17 August 2014

What Happens When Yamaha Builds a Better Harley????

I received an email from the assistant editor of Canada Moto Guide the other day. Basically Zak said......"A Harley Davidson???? Really? In a joking tone of course because even though Zak is a DR650, small bike lovin' enthusiast, he does appreciate all facets of motorcycles. He did say he enjoyed his cross country trip on a Harley Switchback, all for the CMG readers of course. He even camped in a Walmart parking lot without the camper. He may well just be the first person to tent in a Walmart, that wasn't homeless.

Anyway, before this tangent gets too out of control, Zak said the best Harley 883 Iron built was in fact a Yamaha. Holy shit!!!! The blasphemy, how can a Japanese clone be a better Harley? The HD purists are up in arms, dew rags are being thrown to the ground in disgust. It's not possible.

Well I cannot say yay or nay on this, because I haven't ridden the new and improved 883 Iron by Yamaha. Zak had it as a long term test bike, and could be considered an expert in the field of Yamaha, Harley bobber clones. I only have my short 20min demo ride on the 883 to go by, and I did sit on a this so called clone at Atlantic Motoplex. It was a comfortable bike from what I remember for the 3 mins my arse was on the ultra suede seat. 

This better than Harley clone is of course the new Yamaha Bolt. Introduced this year to the motoring public, and according to Yamaha has now become the best selling metric cruiser. I assume "metric" means non-Harley, since everyone in the world is metric except for the good ol', behind the times, USA. Metric is so easy. Get with it America, and for the love of god go to Celcius, the whole Farenheit thing is confusing as hell. Water freezes at 0, boils at 100. Simple. At least Al Roker isn't giving the weather in degrees Calvin.

Shit, off topic again. Yamaha Bolt, right. So what's better about it. Well according to most reviewers on the bike, the motor, brakes and suspension are better, and some say the bike feels bigger, yet is 50lbs (must be an American reviewer) lighter. The Harley folk complain the seam on the tank is hideous, and its a clone. Not much to complain about.  Oh and the frame doesn't hug the engine as nice as the 883 does. Ugly gaps. Afterall there must be some flaws. Lord knows the Harley's have theirs. Now I'm not bashing Harley, they have been making some nice bikes for a lotta of years. The Sporty's in particular. But really until now there has been no direct competition, and competition is good. I mean would HD have improved the brakes and added an optional ABS on the Sporty's if it wasn't for the Bolt? Who knows. But its a bonus for us the consumer, whether you buy an Yamaha or an HD.

Question is....can I still be an Eddie Vedder, old '90's grunge rocker with a Bolt? According to the Yamaha Bolt video, I can at least be an aging hipster. Break out the flannel shirts honey.

I like motorcycles, all of them, ask my wife who gives me shit for wanting a new bike every year. I guess I just haven't found the right one yet. "It's my last one, I promise" has been said repeatedly in this house. Except when I say that I have my fingers crossed behind my back. Most marriages involve a few white lies or exaggerated truths.

So instead of rushing right out and buying an 883 Iron after a 20min demo ride I decided to take Zak's comment and run with it. Plus my darling wife gave me the look, you know the "its gonna cost you later" look if I trade in my bike now. So I am gonna research the Bolt a little more and see if I can get a demo on one. Plus, my friend Tim Hovey just happened to buy Maclean's Powersport, the local Yamaha and Suzuki dealer. He is in the process of having the name changed and overhauling the place. I think he'll do really well with the dealership and bring it to a whole new level. I'd like to help him out in anyway possible, which means purchasing all my new bikes from him. So we will see where this leads.

Once again this year I'll be attending the AIMExpo in Orlando. A very big bike show. They sent me an email asking me to confirm whether or not I'll be attending again this year. Just so happens my flight training is the week after, so I'll be going down early to partake again. I plan on demoing a Bolt this time. Cruising the flat boring roads under a burning Florida sun. Woohoo.

Next update will be during the Deer Lake 67 ultra marathon, followed by the Fundy Adventure Ride shortly afterwards. If I can still walk, or at least stand on the pegs.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Crossing

 I saw this posted on CMG's website this morning. Who needs a big GS adventure bike to have fun and explore. Go with one of the original adv bikes......A Royal Enfield. Great video, all shot on GoPro. Nice work fellas

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Hardly Ableson

Ok, the majority of people that read this blog are most likely adventure riders, actually the majority of riders that read this blog are Pete and I.

Lately..... since I was 19 years old, I have wanted a.....wait for it......a Harley Davidson. "WTF" you say. "The TLH, Vstrom riding adventure guy wants a Harley, how can that be?" Truth be told, I have had a love, hate relationship with the iconic American brand for 26 years. Love to have one, but thought they rode like shit, broke down a lot, and I really did not want to dress like a pirate to have to fit in. The other issue was, the only bikes in the Harley line-up that I liked were the Sportsters.

A little bit of Harley rider logic, or at least from what I have gathered from my years of research. Some, not all Harley riders ( mostly the doctors or lawyers by day, and SOA prospects on the weekend, the ones that can't ride in the rain, or get my bike dirty types) consider all other bikes inferior to HD. This is the same group that then slam any HD riders on Vrods (liquid cooled engine i.e. modern engine) because they are not "real" Harleys. Sportsters......well those are chick bikes, even though more women ride Dynas. They also call them half-a-Harley, or piglets. If your lazy boy on wheels called an Ultra Classic Limited is a HOG, then the Sporty is a piglet. If there isn't 1800cc's in the frame, it's too small. For the love of Christ when did an almost 900cc motorcycle become small. That was huge in my day.

Corporate badass's

yes, girls do ride Sporty's

I have never seen such a passionate and hateful group of riders anywhere. Now the dressing up like a bad ass pirate, Hells Angel wannabe. I get it, you have to look the part to be accepted into the group. No different than the ADV guys, in our head to toe matching riding suits, looking like a stromtrooper (notice that little slip), I mean stormtrooper, or Power Ranger. The sport bike riders looking like they just got off the MotoGP track, in head to toe leathers, with knee pucks that haven't had a scratch.

Please shoot me if I ever show up anywhere dressed like this, that includes Halloween parties.

The current trend is the hipster look, lots of flannel, Doc Martins or Vans, Bell retro helmets, groovy glasses (do bifocals count) because I'm all over that. Can a 45 year old be a hipster? Am I too young to be an old hippy. Wait, I got it.......I'm an old grunge rocker from the '90's. YES, THAT's IT. I have found my look. Dave Grohl, Eddie Vetter, and Terry Burt.

Eddie likes dogs and Airstream trailers.....he is a god

Anyway, I've gotten a bit off topic. Where is this going? Well....this week I went in search of Sportster 883 Iron. One of the 3 bikes in Harley's line-up that I really love. The others being a Sportster 48 and 72. Unlike the adventure bikes I lusted for in the past that were priced at the top of the scale $25K GS Adventure. The Sporty's are Harley's most affordable bikes. $10K for an 883 Iron, which pales in comparison to some that are close to $50K. This maybe the first time that I wanted something cheap. Whoa.

So I headed up the local HD dealer to just have a look and see what was on the showroom. They had one of each, an 883 Iron, a 48 and a 72. The 883 has a, you guessed it, 883cc V-twin, air cooled fuel-injected motor. the 48 and 72 are 1200cc. It's practically the same engine, and for a few hundred bucks the 883 can be brought up to 1250cc.

The demo bike

Low and behold they have an 883 demo available, damn thing only has 22km on it, and it's a beautiful flat black colour. Harley calls it "black denim". For a tough biker image, it's a lame colour name. Geez, why didn't they just call it "gay biker bar black" instead. After signing a waiver that basically says, "you break it, you buy it" I was on my way. This is only my second Harley riding experience. I took my friend's (Scotty Goggles) Street Glide for a ride once. Hated it. It was too big, too stretched out, hated having my feet up in front of me, and it didn't want to corner. Every time I'd lean it into a corner, it wanted to stand back up again. It wasn't for me.

I knew right away the Sporty was for me. The unmistakable Harley sound coming from the dual pipes. Not obnoxious and loud (I hate loud pipes, and I don't think they save lives,  they just piss off neighbours) The mid pegs were familiar, and the bike was nice and nimble, effortless to ride. It is top heavy though. Power....well there is no lack of it, nice low and midrange, plenty for my 170lb frame, and for the riding I like to do. The suspension....well it wasn't as bad as I was expecting, there is some, I hit one big bump that was spine jarring, but for the most part it wasn't too bad.

Brakes... I was expecting crap brakes, because that is all I have heard. However in 2014 Harley upgraded the brakes, and they now have a good bite, they certainly were no worst than the ones on the Vstrom.

Handling...well it doesn't corner like a Vstrom, I scrapped the peg feelers a couple of times. The bike has a heavy, yet nimble feel to it, if that makes any sense. As long as you don't get too aggressive in the corners, or carry too much speed it's fine.

Ergos...I found the bike very comfortable for the 20mins I was riding it, I have short legs for being 6ft tall, my pant legs are 32". Plus I am not very heavy. I think for any long trips a set of highway pegs to change position and stretch out a bit maybe in order and a windshield for the highway.

Controls, very nice, except for the self cancelling turn signals, not too sure about them yet. Clutch and brake levers were nice and big, and felt good, handlebar position was nice. The new speedo, is easy to read, and now comes with selectable digital tach and gear position indicator, as well as km to go til empty.

Overall, loved it. This is gonna sound real corny, but I felt like a real badass on that bike. Like an extra on SOA. The sound of the V-twin, the vibrations, it's a raw basic bike, that looks killer. Maybe at 45 I'm now truly going through my mid-life crisis.

Plus the chicks really dig the Harley's. Which is important. When was the last time you saw two chicks straddling a Vstrom like this.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Fundy Hellfest

Our first non-motorcycle video. This one is about our 50km gruelling run/hike around the Fundy Circuit in Fundy National Park. They recommend 3-5 days to complete this.....we did it under 10hrs. It was tough, a lot tougher than I thought it would be. The terrain was brutal.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Fundy Adventure Rally

I received an interesting email last week from 'Arris the editor of Canada Moto Guide. He want to know if I would like to attend the first annual Fundy Adventure Rally being held here in New Brunswick in September. In exchange for getting into the rally for free, and free is good, I would shoot some video and edit together a small promo video. No problem......well in theory, no problem.

Click on the banner for more info and how to register for the rally

The part that may require some big effort and a lot of pain, is that the rally, which is 12hrs and 500km of dirt road and trail, is...........six days after our ultra marathon, the Deer Lake 67. Now, Pete and I ran a very hard, hilly, 6500ft of climbing and descending, 42km yesterday, in the hot sun for 5hrs and 35mins on the logging roads around Sussex. Today I feel like someone beat up my quads with a sledgehammer. The thought of standing or god forbid crouching (that hurts, and going down stairs) on the pegs of a BMW 800GS for 12 hours is haunting.

I won't be participating in the rally per say, more riding it, getting video, and doing some sweeping, for lost, and broken down riders. Perfect.

25km into a 42km run

"Whoa..... wait a minute...800GS, but you have a Vstrom 1000" Yes that is correct. I forgot to mention the good editor 'Arris promised me an 800GS to ride for the rally, since it was being sponsored by BMW and they are going to have demo bikes on hand. Achtung Baby. So with the help of some Advil and possibly Rub A535 on my legs I will be there.

He also asked me to do a presentation on our trip across Labrador, so with the help of an edited video, I can do that. I'm sure the presentation is designed to help everyone go to sleep before the big day of riding.

By Rob Harris, CMG
The Fundy Adventure Rally is designed for all Adventurists
The Fundy Adventure Rally (FAR) is a 12 hour, 500+km loop that uses easy dirt and gravel roads designed to accommodate all adventure bikes with a minimum front wheel size of 19-inches (cast or spokes) and stock(ish) tires.
There will be some more challenging options for those so inclined
There will be some more challenging options for those so inclined.
The main idea is to accommodate all dual sport and Adventure riders, from the relative novice who has yet to really venture off-road to the experienced off-roader looking for a bit of a challenge on an adventurous, picturesque, and memorable loop.
Of course, either way the real challenge is the distance but we’ve designed the loop to follow a road route quite closely, allowing riders who are getting tired or falling behind to hop onto the pavement and either catch up or merely finish the event in ease.
Doesn’t sound like a challenge? Well Mr Knievel, just for you we’ve added lots of technical options to accommodate the rider who wants a bit more of a challenge and has a suitable machine (21-inch front wheel, more aggressive tires, and some engine protection) to match. Although these options will vary in difficulty, the idea is to still enable big bikes with a suitable set up and capable rider to ride them.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Pete Pulls a Fast One

OK, just when I thought Pete would do next years invasion of the USA on his trusty "El Diablo" aka the KLR650, he decides to switch up. We were out for a training run for our upcoming ultra marathon in August. Ya, we are running, well more like wogging (a cross between walking and jogging), because only genetic freaks can actually run 67 km.

Anyway, on this training run Pete says to me, you get the Ural and I'll keep the retro old school tradition going and ride a Royal Enfield. I'm like "whoa, where did this come from!" Awesome idea, I never even thought of an Enfield.

This has Oxley written all over it.

So good luck getting across the border now, three scruffy Canadians with plans on burning down the White House again, aka 1812, riding Indian and Russian motorcycles. ( just kidding again about the burning of the White House)

Oh ya, that little run of ours.........only a month and half to go. We are wogging 40km tomorrow, somewhere in the Sussex area on ATV trails and logging roads. Pete's dad is a land baron of the Sussex hillside and owns a bazillion acres up there. Dave is currently busy mapping out a nice 40km route as I write this.

So bright and early tomorrow morning we head out on what will be Pete's longest run to date, and my longest run in 12 years.

This was halfway thru our last run of 30km. Ya I didn't look that happy at the end.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Next Year's Adventure Amended

Alright, I'm sure next years trip will change a half dozen or more times before it even gets close to kicking off. Scooters.....well I do love them, but lets be honest, I, I mean we, are not getting any younger and after a lot of thought.....sitting on a scooter for 2 weeks, with limited space for gear maybe a bit much for my 45 year old bones. 

So, my second love is a Ural, have wanted one for awhile, and those of you who know me, know that I have two awesome Labs, that I would love to take riding with me, aka I need a sidecar. 

So, I think the Vstrom will go for sale in the fall, and next year I will pick myself up a Ural Gear-Up. Two wheel drive, now they are fuel-injected with dual disc brakes. Yes believe it or not Ural has updated the bike from the 1930's. It is off roadable (not sure that is a word) so I can still adventure ride, and look really cool and hip while doing it. I mean that is the most important part right?

The plan still stays the same, invade the USA in Madawaska, this time on a Russian motorcycle, and Pete's ol' KLR or whatever he wants to ride, and hit a bunch of micro breweries and places of interest on our way down Route 1 to Key West Florida, which may or may not be a great kick off point for a Cuban invasion the following year.

Oh....and our good buddy Greg Hemmings, of Hemmings House Pictures wants to come along this time. I think we either make him suffer in the sidecar, or put him on the biggest piece of shit bike we can find. He can carry the bearspray this time.

Between Pete and Greg we can busker for gas money with the boys and their dualing ukeleles. I can play a mean set of spoons or the bongos. Yeehaa