Posts Tagged With: safety

It’s Not Really A Farkle, But….

This isn’t really an end of year farkle but it is an end of year safety item.  The new style BMW 49 liter top case has a spot at the top that you can install the optional LED brake light and then have the dealer program the motorcycle’s CAN bus electrical system to recognize the light.  Let’s just say that with the price of this option that BMW is quite proud of it.  To make the option work you need to have the top case that’s pre-wired for the light and the central locking system.  My case isn’t.  But I got to looking at where the light goes and the nearly flat black piece of plastic and thought I could do something to make the motorcycle more visible from the rear.  I came up with the idea of red reflective tape.  So today I took the plastic part off the top case (there are only 4 torx screws involved) and found that to get the flat part out you had to break the mounting rivets that were plastic.  So what I did instead is made a template of the opening with masking tape and then trimmed it up and carefully removed my template.  I then pinned a length of red reflective tape to a board and put the masking tape template right on the tape.  Then with a hobby knife, slowly and carefully cut around the template.  Since the template is made out of tape, it doesn’t move around on the reflective tape.  Then I carefully applied the red reflective tape on the flat part.  But while applying it I found that it’s not as flat as it appears and you can get bubbles along the edge at the slight curve.  Patience in smoothing them out helps but I imagine heating the tap with a hair dryer would help even more.  I didn’t think of the hairdryer trick until I was through.  So now I have red tape up high in the top case and when headlights hit the tap it “lights up” red.  Without the red tape there would just be black plastic there.


The red reflective tape up high in daylight.

The red reflective tape up high in daylight.

The back end of the motorcycle and high, red reflector with flash.

The back end of the motorcycle and high, red reflector with flash.

Categories: Safety | Tags: , | Leave a comment

The 49 Liter Top Case

Ever since Donna has been riding with me she has had a back rest or a top case to lean against for back support.  For those who don’t know what a “top case” is, it’s what BMW calls a trunk.  Harley Davidson calls their version a King Tour Pack or a Tour Pack (depending on the model).  On our 2006 Suzuki C50T she had a nice big, swiveled back rest that she liked.  On the Magic Carpet, our K1200LTE, she had that big top case with a nice, heated back rest.  You know I don’t really blame her.  I’d want the security of a back rest too.  The R1200RT has nothing back there except a small luggage rack.  BMW will sell you your choice of a few top cases that mount quite effortlessly on that luggage rack.  We opted for the new style 49 liter top case that BMW began using for the 2013 model year.  It took the purchasing dealer 4 weeks and a day to get it delivered and they didn’t even key it right to match the motorcycle (even though they were paid to do so).  It took a trip to a second and local dealer to get the lock re-keyed in a matter of minutes.

Since the top case got here a week and half ago and a week since its properly being keyed it’s been much colder than normal here, raining here or Donna had to work.  Donna really wanted the top case and its back rest to ride back there.  She did ride up from Daytona Beach, FL and went on an afternoon ride without the top case but really wasn’t comfortable.  Yesterday it was forecast to be about 65° (F) and sunny so we went for a ride to try out the new top case.  Well the temperature even got up to 70° which made for an even better day of riding.  Donna enjoyed having the back rest on the top case to lean back into.  She wasn’t grabbing my belt anymore.  I could see in the mirrors that she was back to resting her hands on her thighs as she rode back there.  To say she was much more comfortable and at ease is an understatement.  But now she says the foot-pegs feel “squishy”.  But then again she did have those nice big floorboards on the Magic Carpet.  Even the foot-pegs on the Magic Carpet were wide and flat.


The BMW 49 liter top case.

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

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

A Review Of The River Road Laughlin Jacket

I’ve received a Laughlin jacket made by River Road from Motorcycle House in order to write a review of the jacket and Motorcycle House.

To be honest, I picked the Laughlin because it was a fabric jacket and was not leather and was available in a color other than black.  Many of the jackets were nearly identical to a name brand jacket that I already had or were black leather.  I was pleasantly surprised when this jacket arrived.  The jacket is a nice brown color and had the appearance of Carhartt jacket.  When I tried it on Donna even asked “Are you sure that’s a motorcycle jacket?”  She commented that from a distance the jacket even looked like it was suede.  Now on to the review.

I ordered the jacket in an XL and the jacket is true to size and maybe even a little larger as it is not snug and has a looser fit but can be adjusted somewhat by the tab at the waist.  It is a waist length jacket.  It is a polyester/nylon blend jacket that has the appearance of cotton or canvas.  It definitely does not have the nylon or carbolex look.  The Laughlin has reflective piping on the front and the back.  There are a total of NINE pockets on this jacket!  There are 2 snap pockets on the chest, the 2 zipper chest vents are also pockets, 2 zippered handwarmer style pockets, on the inside of the jacket there is a zippered map style pocket and the liner has a cell phone style pocket and large Velcro pocket.  If you remove the insulated liner, the cell phone pocket and Velcro pocket are also on the mesh lining of the jacket itself.  The waist can be tightened by tabs with snaps on them.  The sleeves zip to the wrist and can also be cinched tighter by snaps.  The collar can be snapped down so that it does not flap in the wind, but can also be zipped all they way to cover your neck and keep it warm.  I rode about 100 miles wearing the jacket yesterday.  It was 46º F and sunny when I started.  I had a long-sleeved t-shirt on and was quite comfortable.  Although I could feel some cold air seeping in at the waist I merely tightened the snaps when I stopped to meet my riding partner for the day.  I also had the neck zipped all the way up covering my neck and it was soft and comfortable and more importantly did not interfere with my helmet.  Throughout the morning and into the afternoon I was very comfortable.  But as normal, if it were to be colder I would’ve been wearing more than a long sleeve t-shirt.  While we crested some mountains in north Georgia the temperature dipped back to 45º.  As the afternoon warmed up into the mid 60’s I stopped to remove the liner.  I also opened up the vents and felt good air flow around my torso using the front should vents and the rear exhaust vents.  This is an armored motorcycle jacket having CE Approved armor in the elbows and shoulders and a foam protection pad for the back.  All of the armor is removable.  The armor is not noticeable perhaps making this jacket appeal to even a broader spectrum of riders.  I rode about 100 miles with the jacket yesterday.  This jacket is so comfortable that it will quite likely be my “go to” jacket next winter for casual wear.  I really like this jacket a lot if you can’t tell.

You’ll see my review of Motorcycle House along with the jacket’s pros and cons below the pictures of the jacket and the video.  You have to review the retailer too don’t you?  Especially when that’s what they want!

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Jacket Pros:

  • Warm and comfortable in cooler temperatures.  With liner removed and vents opened jacket moves air around body.
  • Collar will snap down or zip up to cover neck.
  • When off the motorcycle it does not look like a motorcycle jacket.
  • It has a lot of pockets.
  • Cell phone pocket will even accommodate a smart phone in an Otterbox case.
  • True to size fitting.
  • CE Approved armor in elbows and shoulders with foam padding for the spine.
  • The armor is not highly visible.
  • Reflective piping.
  • Water repellent.

Jacket Cons:

  • Back vents can be hard to reach while wearing jacket.

Motorcycle House

It was a bit odd when the marketing representative from Motorcycle House contacted me about this.  They supplied the choices to pick from after we started firming things up.  Most were jackets of the “cruiser” variety or something I already had.  I then selected the River Road Laughlin.  I’ll admit there were some bumps in the road that made me wonder things.  It was took over a week to ship and they said it was due to weather.  I then realized the area had an earthquake about 2 days after they said they’d ship.  They are located near San Bernardino, CA and the jacket was sent to them from a warehouse in Illinois.  But to their credit, they stayed in near constant contact through email.  Once they shipped from California it made it here in under 4 full business days (shipped late on Wednesday and arrived on a Monday).  They also provided me tracking numbers from the warehouse to them and then from them to me.  The jacket did arrive a day earlier than UPS had estimated.  When you go to the web site you’ll often quickly get a chat window from customer service asking if they can help you.  If you click on the chat link for them, they quickly respond.  I did notice that they nearly always had their own brand of article in stock but currently (as this can change) nearly all Tourmaster or Cortech items will show as out of stock.  They did deliver to me as a demo within what I would consider a reasonable time.  I was always able to get in touch with someone, even when being anonymous using their support link while browsing.  I’d give them a chance if you’re looking for motorcycle gear or even saddlebags.  Yes they even sell saddle bags!  They made me wonder at first but I can be cynical, but in reality they came through as promised.  Motorcycle House is just trying to get their name out there and spread around.  They’re at if you want to take a look.

Categories: Accessories, Reviews | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

A Warm Ride In February

Today, a Sunday in February was forecast to be sunny and 70 degrees (F).  My friend Sean and I took advantage of it and went out to burn some gas in our motorcycles.  We each rode solo today, but normally have our wives sitting right behind us.  Since we didn’t meet until 12:30 pm my only request was that we stop somewhere along the way for lunch!  We met in Woodstock, GA and headed up through Canton, to US Highway 411 to Chatsworth which was our lunch stop.  After lunch we took Georgia HWY 2 & 52 (actually the same road) up and over Fort Mountain and past Fort Mountain State Park.  HWY 2/52 is a VERY curvy and nice road!  I can’t believe the portions of it that are posted with speed limits of 55 mph.  I didn’t notice any gravel on the road from the recent snows and that made the ride even more enjoyable.  But on the way back down, headed for Ellijay, there were a number of trees down right along the road and some even in part of the right side of the road. How would you like to be on a motorcycle or in a car and smack into one of those trees as you come out of a curve or are in the middle of the curve?  I noticed that parts of them had been cut and had fluorescent plastic ribbons tied to the protruding ends in an effort to make them more visible.  For the life of me I can’t figure out why GDOT just didn’t cut the trees up and clear the whole road.  I don’t know if the trees were downed by the recent snows or the severe thunderstorms we had earlier this week.  Because of changes in altitude on this ride our temperatures ranged from the low 70’s to the low 60’s and back to the 70’s.  I was quite content in a mesh jacket with the wind/rain liner in it (and a long-sleeved shirt underneath).  Once reaching Ellijay it was out to GA HWY 515 until it became I-575 to head for home.  It was a fun day to get out and ride on a warm winter’s day.  From driveway to driveway I put just over 160 on the odometer today.

The weather conditions as Sean & I prepared to leave from lunch.

The weather conditions as Sean & I prepared to leave from lunch.

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

Preserve Your Hearing

Seriously though you do need to preserve your hearing.  For quite a few years I’ve suffered from tinnitus (ringing in the ears).  It started out as something I’d occasionally hear.  But during the past couple of years it has gotten increasingly worse; even to the point that I wouldn’t hear things at time.  That, coupled with a hearing loss made for some very frustrating times.  In some restaurants, I couldn’t follow or even hear conversations.

So what caused my tinnitus and hearing loss?  Well you really can’t put a finger on it.  It could’ve been an injury, disease or illness or prolonged exposure to loud noises.  Could it have been working on and around steam engines, yes real steam engines when I was young?  Probably.  Concerts?  Sure.  Working in a mechanic’s machine shop when I was young?  Sure.  Riding a motorcycle even with a full face or open face helmet?  Sure.  Working as a police officer riding a motorcycle with one of those “half or shorty” helmets (most of it on a Harley Davidson that the muffler baffles somehow got punched through)?  Probably.  Riding my own motorcycle with a half helmet?  Probably.

But we get older and want to preserve what he have.  Just over a year ago I started wearing ear plugs when I rode the motorcycle even though now we wear modular helmets.  I experimented with 3 kinds.  I tried the roll up foam ones but the always felt like they were coming out.  I tried the home kit where you mold them into your ear but those seemed like they muffled everything except wind noise.  Then I tried some thing called ETY Plugs from Etymotic.  The ETY plugs were comfortable and blocked a good bit of wind noise and due to their design they allowed for intercom use and even conversation off the motorcycle at fuel stops.  They’re reusable and about $13.00 a pair.  I’ve using and cleaning the same pair for a year now.  They do pull some “stuff” out when you remove them but just clean them with a damp cloth.  The funny part is that the audiologist I go to has brochures for these ear plugs and recommends them.  She actually discourages the use of foam plugs but admits that “they’re better than nothing.”

Fast forward to this summer when my primary care doctor referred me for a hearing test.  They told me that they might be able to help with my tinnitus through something called Tinnitus Retraining Therapy or TRT.  Here’s the simple explanation: you don’t hear the hum of the refrigerator because it’s benign and you’re used to it.  But you hear it now because I mentioned it.  TRT tries to get your brain to ignore the tinnitus by using other sounds, usually “white noise” of some type.  Silence is your enemy with tinnitus too.  TRT wants some sort of low sound to used all the time (tv, music, etc).  There’s sound apps for smart phones and tablets you can use too along with headphones or ear buds.  I found that even listening to a low white noise with ear buds, I could hear more conversation.  But you can’t always do that.  I even used an inexpensive sound machine at night but was told to get one you could play all night.  That sucker really helped at night!

But in the long run I ended up getting hearing aids that have sound generators in them also.  Luckily my hearing loss is not that bad so they (and I) hope these will work.  The hearing part on mine are only 8 channel and mainly enhance voice sounds.  But the sound generator gives me a low, constant white noise to merge with the tinnitus.  Believe me that the white noise is almost un-noticeable as compared to the tinnitus.  I’ve now worn my new hearing aids for a day and a half.  During the tuning process in the audiologist’s office I noticed an immediate difference.  For me they seem to be a worthwhile investment and Donna thinks so too.  But no you can’t wear them while riding!  Think of it, they may only make the damaging sounds louder!  The audiologist says that’s when you put in the ETY plugs.

The morale of the story here is to do something to protect your hearing.  It’s not that hard to do.  At minimum wear ear plugs when riding or mowing the lawn (I wear the old-fashioned ear muff style phones from the pistol range when mowing the lawn).  Once your hearing starts going away, it does not normally come back and there is no cure for tinnitus.

If this article helps just one person on the way to hearing loss prevention or gets them to use ear plugs then it’s a successful article!

Here they are!  The quarter is for size reference.  The silver parts go behind and on top of my hears while the wire loops into my ear.  The other plastic part helps secure it in and on my ear.

Here they are! The quarter is for size reference. The silver parts go behind and on top of my ears while the wire loops into my ear. The other plastic part helps secure it in and on my ear.

The hearing aids are barely noticeable.

The hearing aids are barely noticeable.

Categories: General, Safety | Tags: | 5 Comments

Biker Or Motorcyclist?

I rode back home from Florida today.  Not long after I got on Interstate 95 I was presented with two examples of “biker or motorcyclist”.  A biker can ride any kind of motorcycle and so can a motorcyclist so this has nothing to do with what kind of motorcycles they ride.  In fact, today both the biker and the motorcyclist were on the same make of motorcycle.

Biker:  I was in the center lane and could see a motorcycle slowly coming up in the left lane.  As he pulled alongside I noticed right away it was one of the Harley Davidson Hard Candy Customs and had the bobbed rear end, forward controls and mini ape bars.  It was actually a gorgeous motorcycle.  The rider had on a “pudding bowl” helmet and his feet splayed out.  He just had a look that made me think I’d smell his cologne as he passed by.  I gave him a wave and he looked over, didn’t wave or acknowledge in any other way than looking.  Then he opened up his throttle and pulled away, apparently wanting to let me know that he was a member of the Volusia County Loud Pipes Riding Club.  Oh the bars or poker runs that bike has been too!

Motorcyclist: It was less than 10 minutes later another motorcycle slowly came up in the left lane.  The rider of this motorcycle had on one of those “Captain America” helmets and a worn leather jacket.  The bike was an older Harley Davidson Electra Glide.  This motorcycle had been ridden hard and put up wet many times.  You could tell this motorcycle had some miles on it.  It looked worn but not abused.  It had what looked like a sleeping bag and other luggage lashed to the back seat between its rider and a king tour pack that looked like it was on crooked.  Then it happened.  As we rode along side by side for just a few seconds, we both waved at each other at the same time and he nodded his head at me.  He slowly kept pulling away, maintaining his speed.  Oh the stories from the road and travels that Electra Glide could likely tell.


Categories: Daytona, General, Safety, Trips | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 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

How My Motorcycle Saved My Life

Yesterday morning I was riding on a residential road (not a neighborhood street) near the house on my way to meet a vacationing motorcyclist for ride when my motorcycle saved my life.

I was on a straight section of this road and not in a curve or on a hillcrest.  The entire length of road has a nice double yellow line running down the middle.  It was a cool (for early September in Georgia) and overcast morning.  I had on my headlight, the moto-lights, a white helmet and a hi-vis jacket.  Overcast skies seem to make hi-vis gear “pop”.  There was an SUV headed towards me from the opposite direction.  I then noticed the  SUV was drifting into my lane!  The closer it got, the more it came into my lane!  Since I was on the motorcycle I was able to move over to the right side of MY lane to get out of the way of the oncoming vehicle that had crossed the centerline.  As the SUV got close I blew my horn (our K1200LT has what sounds like a BMW car horn and not the little “meep meep” of most motorcycle horns).  The driver seemed oblivious.  I then noticed clearly she had both her wrists resting on the top of the steering wheel and was holding what sure looked to be a cell phone and poking at it as she passed.  Although she was in my lane she was not close to me.  But,  had I been in a car, she surely would’ve hit me head on or at least side swiped me going the opposite direction.  So since I was on a motorcycle I was able to give her both lanes of the two lane road.

Now you’re probably thinking to yourself “If you were in a car, you would’ve been big enough for her to see you and it wouldn’t have happened.”  It is a good thought but it’s wrong and here’s how I know why.  For starters, a motorcycle is a licensed and registered motor vehicle, pays taxes and tags and is therefore entitled to the same laws, rights and restrcictions as other vehicles.  Second, there was another vehicle on the road behind me.  It was another SUV and they had pulled up behind me at the stop sign and like me had made the right turn on the road and was behind me a bit.  The SUV behind me either had their headlights or was a General Motors product with daytime running lights.  As the approaching SUV passed me, I then heard another horn behind me.  In my mirror I could see the SUV that was following me was partially in the grass and the SUV that had approached me was still partially on the wrong side of the road.  I expected to hear a crash but didn’t.

It became very apparent that the woman driving the approaching SUV was reading or sending a text message.  She was so enthralled by the message that she didn’t realize she on the wrong side of the road and therefore not nearly struck not one, but two vehicles.

Here in Georgia it is illegal to text and drive.  But no one cares and does it anyway.  In fact the law is very clear in saying you cannot read, create, compose, reply to text messages or email or perform web browsing unless you pull out of the roadway to do so.  How about that?  Georgia even threw in web browsing.  Most people seem to think it’s OK to text while stopped in traffic but no, off the roadway is what the law says.

What makes this such and issue?  What makes the text messages so important?  I personally know of someone who says it makes them a better driver!  I’m sorry but anything that makes you take your eyes off the road and hands off the steering wheel is distracting you from what you’re supposed to be doing; driving your vehicle.  They can complain it’s their right.  Bull!  Driving is a privilege and not a right, courts have long ago decided that.  And to use that privilege you have to obey the laws.  I know someone from the United Kingdom and the whole country is hands free.  That’s right you can’t even hold your cell phone to talk!  The police can’t even hold a radio mic and use push to talk buttons on the steering wheel.  Even a driver who is slightly impaired by alcohol is at least trying to drive good to avoid getting caught!

Please wait until you get to your destination to start those text messages or do like the law says and pull off the road if they’re that important.  Not texting while driving is more than just a good idea, here in Georgia it’s even a law.

Please feel free to share this post, especially with those who give excuses why it’s not dangerous to text and drive.

Categories: General, Safety | Tags: | 3 Comments

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