Posts Tagged With: gadgets

I’m Really Liking This Motorcycle!

I took the R1200RT out for a short 126 mile ride this morning.  One of the things I wanted to do was familiarize myself with the BMW Navigator V GPS system using a route I already had saved in Garmin’s BaseCamp software.  There are some differences in the way the new Navigator V and the older Garmin Zumo 220 load routes and where they keep them.  I left the new Navigator V GPS set so that it would give me prompts and directions through the motorcycle’s on-board audio system through the fairing speakers.

We’re still waiting for our top case to be delivered so this was going to be a solo ride.  Donna prefers the security of the top case and its backrest behind her plus she had to work today.

I took a short and fun route that we’ve ridden a number of times and written about here.  I have the route saved in BaseCamp as “Hillbilly Drive“.  I take GA HWY 53 across to Dawsonville where I take a nice local road back out to GA HWY 183 going towards Amicalola Falls State Park.  Before getting to the park I take GA HWY 136 over Burnt Mountain and through its curves before getting to Talking Rock, GA and heading for home.

It was a cool but gorgeous day to ride!  It started out right at 50º (F) and dropped to 48 going over the mountain before rising again to the mid 50’s.  I was comfortable with the liner in my jacket, a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of riding pants.  I even wore unlined plain leather gloves but cheated and used the heated grips.  I had the SiriusXM radio tuned to the Grateful Dead station and my route in the GPS.  Whenever I had an upcoming turn, the audio system automatically muted and played the instructions from the GPS.  It was easier to hear the GPS than it was the music.  The R1200RT fell right into the curves!  I’ll admit that this was always a fun road on the K1200LT but the boxer twin R1200RT increases the fun factor exponentially.  I stopped for a short break at the scenic overlook.  There’s still just a little bit of color in the trees too.  But after last weekend’s winter weather there was already some sand and gravel spread on a few parts of Highway 136.  The boxer goes too!  There were some parts of the route that I’m used to downshifting from 5th to 4th on the K1200LT to get better power.  But with the R1200RT’s boxer twin you just open the throttle and it goes.

I even tried out BMW’s Hill Start Assist today just to see what it’s all about.  It’s like using a parking brake that automatically releases when you give the bike some throttle to start moving again.  When pulling out onto the main highway up there, GA HWY 515, I finally tried out another option, BMW’s Shift Assistant Pro.  Wow what an option!  Shift Assistant Pro allows upshifts and downshifts without the use of the clutch.  After pulling onto the highway and rolling I shifted into 3rd through 6th gears by revving and shifting and NOT using the clutch.  I remember reading somewhere that Shift Assistant Pro is better suited to a more performance oriented ride.

I did miss having Donna back there though.  I hope that top case gets here soon.

Categories: Accessories, Rides | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Ride To Eat (RTE)

The couple we’ll ride with, Sean & Christine were out-of-town and came back yesterday.  What’s the first thing Donna wanted to get together and do?  Well it was to go riding of course!  Sean & Christine are now in the home stretch of being full-time RV’ers with a contract on their house and had already planned to look at campers and motorhomes today.  We’re leaning in that direction ourselves so Donna came up with the idea for a short ride to lunch for some BBQ and then back towards home to look at campers.  We met later in the morning than normal since it was a lunch ride and we headed for Dawsonville and over Burnt Mountain for lunch in Talking Rock, GA at Biguns BBQ.  This is the same short lunch ride I had led some members of my Blue Knights Chapter on earlier in the week.  But it does amaze me of how much cooler it is on the top of that mountain and it’s not very high.  Today it was sunny and it was 8 degrees (F) cooler on the top of the mountain.  We headed on to Biguns before it got too crowded and it sure did get crowded today.  After lunch it was time to head down to Camping World to do some window shopping.  Donna and I even found a real nice Class C motorhome that we really liked.  It was to the point that we were looking at each other and scheming.  We were at the point that we decided that if we could right now, we’d buy it then buy a trailer for the Magic Carpet and just hit the road.  Maybe in another year or so though.

Today was also the first day that I finally got Donna to wear earplugs while riding too.  She finally gave in!  She had tried foam earplugs in the past but didn’t like them and admittedly they did loosen up and fall look like they were going to fall out.  It was time for me to replace my ETY plugs so I just ordered 2 pair this time.  She really liked them when she tried them on when they got here and then she wore them all day today and found them comfortable.

Categories: Rides | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do You Want The Shortest Or The Curvy Route?

Earlier in the week I wrote a post about the curvy road feature in Garmin’s Basecamp software for planning routes and transferring them to your GPS.  I said I’d play with it a bit and see how it went.  Well, I haven’t ridden a route planned with it yet but I have let the software work its magic.  I gave it a Point A to Point B route from Jasper, GA to Blairsville, GA.  I let it use the shortest route and then the curvy roads option.  The shortest route came in at 58.4 miles and an estimated trip time of 59 minutes.  The route is all on Georgia Highway 515/US 76 and it’s on a 4 lane highway with a grass median between the opposing lanes.  But, it is a nice ride if you’re in a hurry.  The curvy route was 75.8 miles and had an estimated time of 1 hour and 59 minutes to complete.  The curvy route takes twice as long to complete but sure does look a lot more fun.  I can attest that some parts of the curvy route are even curvier than the map lets on.

The shortest route selected by BaseCamp.

The shortest route selected by BaseCamp.

The curvy route selected by BaseCamp.

The curvy route selected by BaseCamp.

Categories: Accessories | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Little Air Pump That Can

It’s the age-old of question of topping off the air pressure of tires conveniently at home.  Yes you can always go to a gas station or convenience store to do it but everything always lists “psi cold” and the tires heat while driving or riding.  I do have a Slime air compressor that works off a 12 volt cigarette lighter plug.  It’s small and gets the job done but it’s seems noisy too.  To do the motorcycle tires I have to get each motorcycle tire over close enough to the car to use the compressor within reach of the cord and the cigarette lighter in the car.  I started looking for a compressor that I could plug into a wall outlet.  I didn’t need anything with an air tank that could power a nailer or other air tool.  I just needed a light duty air compressor to top off tires.

I found a Kobalt 120 PSI electric air compressor at Lowe’s.  It’s a handy little unit and retails for $49.98.  It runs on 120 volt AC current or 12 volts DC using the cigarette lighter plug.  The compressor has a digital tire gauge on it for checking tire pressures and has accessories for inflating sports equipment and air mattresses.  It also has grommets on the front to hold your valve stem caps.  One of the best features is that you can set the pressure you want in the tire, turn the compressor on and it will turn itself off when it reaches the pre-set pressure. No more guessing, checking, pumping and checking.  The air hose and 120 volt cord wrap around the unit and the 12 volt cord is stored in the compressor.  There’s also a compartment for spare valve stem caps, sports needles and air mattress/toy nozzles.  The 12 volt cord is more than ample to reach all four tires on a vehicle but the 120 volt cord is only 21 inches long.  I’ve checked the pressure against both an Accu-Gage dial pressure gauge and a BMW digital tire pressure gauge and it hasn’t been more than one half pound off.  I think it’ll be a handy tool in the garage.  Now I can leave the motorcycle right where it is and top off the pressure in the tires if needed.

In the video below I let 3 pounds of air from the back tire and then set the compressor at 48 PSI.  It stops when it reaches 48.

Pros of the compressor:

  • Runs off of the cigarette lighter in the car or household current.
  • All cords are retained around or in the compressor.
  • Quiet.
  • Digital pressure gauge.
  • Can be set to turn off at a pre-set pressure.
  • 12 volt automobile cord is long enough to reach all four tires.

Cons of the compressor:

  • 120 volt household cord is way too short and requires an extension cord.
  • After 10 minutes of continuous use it should be allowed to cool for 10 minutes.

No you won’t be able to completely fill and set a bead on a tire with this little gem but it’s great for everyday use in maintaining tire pressures.

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

RSS Feeds Have Been Added To The Blog

There’s been a new edition to the sidebar over on the right.  You can now view or subscribe the RSS feeds for both posts or comments to this blog.  I tried it out earlier myself today in both Internet Explorer and Microsoft Outlook and it works just as expected, giving the text versions without the blog formatting but does display pictures.  Go ahead and take a look if you dare and go ahead and subscribe if you’re even more daring.

Categories: General | Tags: | Leave a comment

Hey What’s The Weather Like?

The weather.  It’s an age old question.  Is it going to rain?  Is it going to be hot?  Is it going to be cold?

I’ve had an Acu-Rite Pro weather station since the summer.  It’s pretty good along with being fun.  For Christmas, Donna gave me something I’ve really been wanting; the internet bridge accessory for the weather station that allows us to remotely check conditions here at the house, receive alerts from the weather station and even share the weather station data on Weather Underground.

The little “weather widget” over on the right now displays the weather being reported by our home weather station and clicking on it will take you to the forecast page and current conditions for our weather station.  While many of the current conditions are from our station, some of the forecasting is from other sources.  You can also view our station on Weather Underground’s “beta” of their new dashboard.  The new dashboard doesn’t have all the details of the full page at current, but shows only the details being provided by our weather station.  And, since it’s a “beta”, not all of the features are working yet.  I may be playing around with the weather widget and changing it a bit since I’m now a Weather Underground “member” and have a few more options.  I’ll be able to have the temperature display in both F and C as well as the wind speed in both mph and kph.

I guess this is motorcycle related since the weather dictates how you’ll dress for a ride or weather or not you should ride.

Categories: General | Tags: | Leave a comment

Let There Be Light

4W bright white LED on left, 50W halogen on right and the HID low beam above.

4W bright white LED on left, 50W halogen on right and the HID low beam above.

The Magic Carpet has Motolights on it.  I really like the triangle of light they provide.  The right side light had stopped working and it was because one of the pins on the bulb had broken.  I had also found that the light housing was loose.  Now I know, Motolights will replace the bulbs for free.  But, you have to find them at a show or contact them and then pay shipping for the bulb.  At an open house at BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta, I already did have the right bulb replaced by Motolight a few years ago.  Besides, it’s no big deal to get a bulb as a it’s a standard MR16 12V bulb available at any home improvement store.  In the process of replacing the bulb I found out that I had a 35W bulb on the right and a 50W bulb on the left.  I was out of balance!  I had already been thinking of replacing the bulbs with LED ones anyway but while both were still working it was a low priority upgrade.  I found a post on BMWLT.COM about low cost LED replacements.  The dealer was a place called Dealextreme and they’re in China.  Now before anyone gets all huffy about buying American I can assure you that had I gone to a home improvement store the name brand bulbs I purchased would’ve come from China anyway.  A few people at BMWLT.COM had ordered from them already.  I felt even more confident ordering as I was using a “gift” debit card from my healthcare provider in case the card got compromised as there was only a few dollars left on it anyway.  I was going to replace both bulbs and found the 4W (watt) bright white LED MR16 bulbs and they were only $4.90 (USD) each.  So the two bulbs were only $9.80!  That’s less than half of ONE LED bulb at the home improvement store.  Oh, the order also qualified for free shipping.  I already knew the free shipping would take a while but took advantage of it anyway, I wasn’t in a rush.

I ordered my bulbs on the afternoon of September 11, 2013 and was sent a confirmation email and that they would ship soon.  The next morning on September 12, 2013 I had an email that had been delivered overnight that my order had shipped.  Today, on September 21, 2013 the postman delivered the bulbs.  I’d say not bad, getting here in 9 days getting here to metro Atlanta, GA from Shanghai, China.  It took just a few minutes of sitting on the floor in the garage on this rainy day to swap the bulbs out.  The new ones are nearly an identical match to the HID low beam headlight in color temperature appearance.  Not a bad deal for under $10.00!  They do ship worldwide too.  The photo above shows the comparison between the old halogen bulb and the LED replacement.

Until next time, ride safe!

Categories: Accessories, Safety | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Time For An Oil Change And A GPS Map Update

Today was oil change day for the Magic Carpet. It’s a little early but I’ll be headed out on the road to my Dad’s and it’ll come up due on the trip so I got it out-of-the-way before the trip. Today was the “easy” oil change in that it was just the motor oil. I still have to lay on the floor to do it though!

We also decided to get the Lifetime Map Updates for the Garmin Zumo 220 GPS. We got the GPS in September of 2011 and haven’t updated the maps since using the one free update from Garmin within 30 days of the purchase. We figured roads don’t really change all that much but it was time. Garmin offers a one time update for $49.99 or the lifetime updates for $89.00 so it really does make sense to get the lifetime updates. I had heard that Amazon has the lifetime update for less than Garmin. I found the lifetime update sold by Amazon for $58.03! You can guess where we got it from. The map is updating now as I type this.

The Magic Carpet should also reach 75,000 miles on the odometer this weekend while I’m headed to my Dad’s in Florida.

Categories: Accessories, Maintenance & Repair | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Finding A BMW Motorcycle Dealer On The Road

The BMWMOA has a list on their website of all the BMW motorcycle dealers in the United States.  An enterprising member of the organization created a Point Of Interest (POI) file for Garmin GPS units along with directions for installing the file with Garmin’s POI Uploader available as a free download on Garmin’s web site.  Of course you could enter each one from the list into your GPS address book or as a POI individually but that could be time-consuming.  And, since someone else has already done it for us, why not use their work like they want us to?  Since they are points of interest you merely open the POI file on your GPS and it then lists the dealers beginning with the one closest to your location then 2nd, 3rd, etc..  It’s a handy feature to have while on the road and even works with our lowly Garmin Zumo 220.  Our old, original BMW Navigator came with this file pre-loaded as I think the current BMW Navigators do also.  But, dealers change, move or close so it’s nice to be able to update the file.

BMW Motorcycle dealer POI listing.

BMW Motorcycle dealer POI listing.

Categories: Accessories | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Such A Weather Geek

Warning!  This post is not directly related to motorcycling.  You see, I’ve always had an interest in the weather.  It’s not enough of an interest though that I sit and watch the Weather Channel all day.  Weather is just such a dynamic, always changing element.

A few years ago for my birthday, Donna gave me a Weather Channel weather station made by La Crosse.  I loved it!  That is until it died last week.  The station could measure wind speed & gusts (but not direction), outside temperature, wind chill, humidity, barometric pressure, and inside temperature.  I later added a rain collector to the unit but it never worked.  Unfortunately customer support kept recommending (try fresh batteries in all of your units).  But the main unit continued working as expected until the transmitter for the wind and outside measurements suddenly stopped working last week.

Last week we were in Lowe’s Home Improvement when Donna, said “You know your birthday is this month.  If you want, you can look for a replacement weather station.  Just don’t go overboard.”  She had to add the part about not going overboard because I had already been looking online and found some fairly reasonable ones that even transmitted data to web sites such as WeatherBug and Weather Underground.  This blog uses a Weather Underground widget and I thought it’d be so cool to have the widget report weather from our own yard!  But I decided that would be going overboard.  I did find a very nice Acu-Rite Home Weather Station.  And to make it even better, Lowe’s had it at a significant savings over the MSRP on the Acu-Rite web site.  Set up was a snap and it’s totally wireless.  It took me longer to take the old outdoor unit down than it took to put the new one up.  The new one does rainfall (and it works), outside temperature, wind speed, wind direction, highest & average wind in the last hour, humidity, barometric pressure, wind chill, heat index, moon phases, and even has solar power to run a fan for ambient air temperature.  Inside it will measure temperature and humidity.  All of those measurements also have alarms you can set up if you want.

Now the part that connects it to motorcycling.  You see, I can monitor weather trends and use the learned forecast abilities of the unit to monitor riding conditions and to decide what to wear for a ride or to cancel one.  There!  Thanks for bearing with this non motorcycle related post….sort of.

Categories: General | Tags: | 1 Comment

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