(Note: Only had a cheap cell-phone to take photos due to security....blah ....blah!)
Recently, Motosquirrel (Yours Truly) had the opportunity to travel, relax (Nope) and generally step away from the new Mega-opolis which is Seattle. Our travel to Port Townsend took approximately two and a half hours when you include waiting for the Bainbridge destined Ferry by which we loaded ourselves and embarked via downtown Seattle.
If you are new to the area (Good Luck retaining the timely memories with which you will attach yourselves!), then Motosquirrel would absolutely suggest taking a few rides on any of these local masterpieces of vessel engineering. You will marvel at how many cars can be stuffed into the Ferry, it’s stability (In most weather), the fantastic views of the Puget sound and surrounding areas as well as all of the wonderful and not-so wonderful behaviors of your co-passengers! No Food? No Drink? Need a place to bathroom? No need to fish off the side of the boat! No need to drink the water (Don’t)! And, most importantly there isn’t a need to relieve yourself off the OTHER side of the boat! Washington State Ferries have got you covered with all the on-board comforts and amenities you could wish for!
Enough about the stupid Ferry (We mean beautiful Ferry which costs billions in tax revenues). This isn’t a travel log supporting Washington State excursions etc.
Let’s just note this post as reflections on a weekend past.
Being related to someone who is involved in the Entertainment Industry as well as being a volunteer (Under the producers of the Festival (As Moto was for almost twenty years), we were instantly privy and had access to the pre-show load-in(s) and construction of a large music festival taking place at Fort Worden State Park. There truly isn’t anything that Motosquirrel can add here or in following about this subject without sounding completely jaded. It is just what it is. We are jaded, BUT the show/fest is jaded as well.
It is a show that the local townspeople DID NOT ask for, but will soon be conditioned to love (Through their children), because of the money, socializing, property value and eventually gaining access to more robust cell and other utility services. It is the money with which they hadn’t had for a while, will taste for a short period and eventually move away from due to the higher cost of living. The joke will be on them. It makes me sink inside to know how many millions will be made for another fake ‘Non-Profit’ Theater company. It makes me sink further to think about how so many towns likes these across the U.S. no longer consider the need for actual economic incomes based in industry, not entertainment. But I digress. Jaded, but I have my reasons.
Had to take this shot quickly outside while driving.....!
When we arrive in the evening it is still an amber-like light catching the Fort from the west and there are wild and not-so-wild deer eating everything they can. Already, there were tents being unpacked, orange cones delineating walkways, trucks pulling in and the windows of the Old Fort Barracks seemed to open drowsily, eyes dismissing cold misty morning revelries.
After some impromptu meetings, Motosquirrel’s motosquirrelfriend indicates that it is time to find our very private place to stay in the form of a tastefully constructed shed that thinks of itself as a cabin. The cabin is situated on private property some five miles or so due Southwest of Fort Worden. It is joined on site by a few other rentals owned and operated by a semi-retired (Never retire- Cuz you can’t!) older couple who have found some very inventive ways of creating rental spaces out of things like older non-sea worthy sailboats and our very own unique stay.
There ARE NO coincidences!!- The key fob for our rental! And it lit and Quacked!
It is windy that first night and my Motofriend reminds me of an existing Artillery Museum which is technically a part of Fort Worden State Park. Since we arrived on Thursday evening and set-up of the music Festival will last through Friday into the very final minutes of Saturday morning, we sketch a plan of dropping the extra Squirrel off at the designated employee Barracks (Soldier Housing) building and the Motosquirrel will visit the Artillery Museum in the afternoon. Hell, it was going to be four bucks! I can think of many things that I wasted four green-backs on!
That very next Friday morning was cloudy and eventually rainy. It was evident that the weather had the possibility of changing on that cornered peninsula at a moments notice- and it did.
Entering the Museum as the day began to clear again, I laid down my wad of cash and fully expected to be through with the deceptively small location within what I thought would last a half- an-hour max. I was there almost three hours!
Let me explain.
After entering the museum and making some funny remarks (I’d like to think) to the counter/cashier lady: something like “What the hell happened to this place!- This is supposed to be a Fort? A barracks? I was born and raised on a military barracks…….WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED!?” - She laughed! (Thankfully). So did an older Veteran by the name of Ron Ragle who took a liking to me and offered to spend the afternoon telling me everything that he could. He said, “____________(My real name) I am making you my special project this afternoon- Are you up for it?” and I answered “Hell Yes!”
Ron showed me everything he could. Answered every question that I had. His illustrated knowledge and thorough understanding of the base, it’s equipment, their relative changes throughout the decades, surrounding areas and even his vast comprehension of the realities of war, it’s meanings along with his candidness was jaw dropping! You want to learn a thing or two? Talk to a veteran. Make that a Korean or Vietnam War Veteran! Thank you Ron! I learned much!
Much like entering Dr. Who’s Tardis (Sorry- overused I am sure), it truly was a small but very jam packed museum. And, like the Tardis, I went in for what felt like ten minutes and came back out- losing three hours! I would do it again in a heart beat! I wish we could guide WHERE our State Parks monies and taxes would go. I would definitely select more monies toward museums like this!
It's FUZZY! I know it's FUZZY.....but this what I could get- OK!?
After my museum visit I explored downtown (Sort of a Main Street) where there are older buildings and some boat docks etc. There are quaint Ye Olde flavors going on (I love the old buildings) and a decent amount of motorcycles who are making their stops on treks to and from the peninsula or to Port Angeles. I quickly realize that although property values are lower out here than on some of the adjoining Islands, inlets and other peninsular areas, Port Townsend’s tourist area is NOT cheap at many stops!
Does ANYONE know that rainbow symbolizing is Masonic?
I actually encounter many people that I used to see as acquaintances who were from Seattle proper- areas like Ballard, Queen Anne, Capitol Hill and on and on. There are bands playing and …...well …...they are the same people who I used to see in the late nineties or early 2000’s. Do they sound better? Yep. In some cases smoother, wiser and better. Some more melodic. But I can’t help but feel that they got “Kicked-Out” or out-priced of their old living digs now that Amazon, Google, Adobe, Microsoft and on and on and on has taken over Seattle and artists/musicians can’t afford to live there. Moto included.
You can’t go back. BUT you can inform the future. Will YOU inform our future?
I decided to avoid the debacle which is Thingfest as much as possible, reducing my connection to dropping and plucking up my Motosquirrel out of the madness at the end and beginnings of each event day.
Deserves to be FUZZY!......really who cares?
On my return to the “FEST” on Sunday evening I park at the employee parking lot and have a look around. I venture over to the “Blimp” stage where there is an act that was old TEN years ago (But they are good friends with the producer). They are doing their hip-hop karaoke that is based on Hall and Oates’s “Can’t Go for That”- of course the sample is reduced down to three beats, a lowered octave and their own rhymes added- so as not to (EVER) having to pay royalties to the creators. To me, it sounds like really bad wedding reception DJ music. But when there is a crowd, alcohol and kids who ...”Never saw them before!” it is somehow exciting. The singer, rapper, MC (Whatever) I have seen on many occasions due to the work that I had done for so long. He is old. I am old. He see’s a drunk young blond in the front that he likes. He will meet her after the show. I walk away. Too much rhyme.
Out to Port Angeles......place my house here!
I think back to when I lived in an old converted Japanese Theater turned into an apartment building in the early 2000’s. Several artists, designers, musicians, crafters, writers, intellectuals and even a very well known young filmmaker all resided there.
When coming home one afternoon, I waited for the small elevator to do it’s slow travel from the top sixth floor down to the lobby where I stood. I could clearly hear a gentleman's voice singing loudly, unabashedly reverberate from the elevator and it’s surrounding elevator shaft. He was singing Hall and Oates’s “Can’t Go for That (No can do)”. And I mean loudly. The Elevator door opened abruptly in front of me (It was erratic and never signaled when you got to the floor you needed). A young African American man with earbuds on was surprised at the door opening and quickly stopped his singing. Startled, he quickly grabbed his music player to make some changes (I assumed) and started rapping loudly, almost meanly. He looked red! I remember thinking that he was a student and that I hadn’t known he had owned such an incredible voice!
But then, later, I considered whether the world would want to hear it.-If everyone hated bands like Hall and Oates, Foreigner or Journey (Add list here) who the hell bought all those millions of albums?
Thingfest- “I Can’t Go for That- No Can Do”……….use my body ….now you want my soul….
Motobike stuff coming soon!
Finally Home (Seattle).....only to experience our Neighbor's new TESLA that seems to sense us and assumes we are terrorsists! Lights go on, City Sounds Blarring........Arghh!
A Duck switch? What in the hell is a duck switch? Ha Ha! We at Motosquirrel are here to ask you why YOU don't know what a "Duck Switch" is!
We mean really! YOU! Don't know what a Motorcycle "Duck Switch" is?
Your response is perfectly reasonable. We didn't know what one of these little yellow baby duckies were until recently when we......wait for it.......INVENTED IT!- Yes, we here at Motosquirrel will invent, craft and otherwise McGyver anything at all when a need or desire arises....
So Motosquirrelfriends.....what on the Furry Gods green earth or Tarmac is this freshly invented "Duck Switch"?. Read On! -Remember you learned it here first.
This newly minted invention came about several months ago when we Motosquirrelers recognized a unique quality shared by ALL MOTORCYCLISTS AROUND THE GLOBE!!
It is this: WE FORGET SH*T ALL THE TIME BEFORE WE RIDE!!
We are the first to admit it. Think about it. How many times have you gone on a ride after preparing for what seems like an endless amount of time, gathering odds and ends both in the areas of necessity and comfort prior to take-off, only to forget that ONE DAMB THING! And so often we find it is that same one DAMB THING!! - Argh!
For some riders it might be the garage door opener thingy, perhaps a neck warmer, maybe a cell phone, a work door key and, still, for others it could be something so basic as to remembering to back off on their choke before taking off! Whatever the object that is continually forgotten (We forgot already), it is guaranteed to be enjoyed by an imaginary rider who is tiny and left inside your home! Unless.....there is installed on your motorcycle such a device as the miraculous and previously teased at "Duck Switch".
This device will allow you to remember (For your dumbass self- yep we said it!) anything before you ride. But there is just one hitch (We'll get to that later).
How this "New Technology" works-
Physical parts needed:
One: A small, slightly garish, cute (Chotchkeesque) token-like, possibly (But Not Necessary) a biological facsimile, likely humorous figurine with a small, but STRONG neodyne or ceramic magnet installed on it's underside or up it's butt! (Sorry for the graphic content).
Two: (IMPORTANT) This small figure must have a front and rear as recognized by you! An ass front as well as back, for example, just won't work. We suggest sticking to small animals or figurines (Maybe a pewter toy-soldier would work nicely on some bikes....hmmmm). The point here is to know the front from the back!
Three: (IMPORTANT) If your Motorcycle does NOT have any metal surface with which your "Duck Switch" can stick to: YOU WILL NEED TO EMPLOY SOME WELL TRUSTED VELCRO male and female sides to your own chosen "Duck Switch".
Fitment/Mounting: Apply your non-marring figurine (Hopefully chosen well by you) either by applied velcro (Ask a certified velcro installer to help you) or the good Ol' Fashioned magnetic way to a most centered and conspicuous part within the triple-crown/dash area of your Motorbike.
The placement should be such that the figure can be seen clearly from the side AS WELL as prior to riding.
Please Note: (This Duck Switch should NOT IMPEDE your visual perception or awareness of the road, NOR should the color clash with your sensibilities or cause heartburn- THIS IS A SERIOUS PIECE OF GEAR THAT MUST BE TREATED WITH SAFETY MINDEDNESS!) Please abandon use of apparatus if it causes ill concern or heartburn!
Five: Proper Usage (Example given is for illustration purposes only).
Let's say that the object continually forgotten prior to every ride are your "Special" sunglasses.
It is now time to employ our most special invention,"The Duck Switch", with it's mission.
Step One(*): Place meaning or infix into your selected object/"Ducky" in parallel with your rider mind that it is now charged with the task of remembering this specific object (In this case extra glasses). The position of the Duck Switch is KEY here. The Duckswitch has taken care of or "Knows" that you have remembered to bring your "Sunglasses" only when it is facing forward (As a Motorcyclist would- Unless you are crazy or are a stunt rider). The rider shares responsibility by looking down at his/her Duckswitch and ascertaining the object(s) with which they were to bring. “The rider must ask themselves the question: “Did I bring those glasses?” If the answer is a “Yes”, the Duckswitch get’s physically turned to the forward facing position. When our "Ducky" is facing backward, it should be understood by the rider that the sunglasses HAVE NOT been accounted for or included along for their ride.
When you, as the rider (Not the Ducky- Nope) have realized that you have FORGOTTEN to wear or pack away the glasses, the "Duck Switch" should remain facing backwards! Only when you are positive that you have this needed object on your person or packed on your bike are you to ........wait for it.....(Trendy) TURN the Duck Switch to the FORWARD FACING position!
Got It? When riding and you spy your "Duck Switch" facing forward, it should directly correspond with the glasses on your face!
It's that simple. Effective, Direct, Fast, Efficient technology as only we here at MOTOSQUIRREL can and WILL continue to bring you. Just as assuredly we will continue to over capitalize words, bastardize spellings and otherwise offer undue and unsolicited exclamations for our readers!!
Get your own "Duck Switch" TODAY!!
Advisory from Motosquirrel: All riders should consult a professional BMW mechanic or equally qualified technician to assess, measure and install a "Duck Switch" onto your machine. Motosquirrel cannot accept any liability for your safety!
*There is no step two!
Also (Hitch) Please Note: Have backups of all utilized "Duckswitches" as local children may make backups of yours!!
Happy Riding and you can thank us later!!
This was/is an unbelievable find as a Motofoto (We coined it!) or MotoSnap, Caught-In-The-Wild etc. on the part of Motosquirrel.
It is unreal on all accounts. Firstly, although we at Motosquirrel are positive that if you do any Overland Expo's, Search the Tinnernet, Gaagle or just harvest photos via KLR forums, we are certain that you will find some photos of working/designed both new and abandoned of such side-car projects as the photo illustrates below.
BUT- Here is the catch (Literally). To find this bike within the two or so mile perimeter of MOTOSQUIRREL Headquarters is nearly IMPOSSIBLE! Yes, we do encounter the odd (But Cool) supermoto, old-school Dual Sport etc. traveling through the surrounding area as we are located within an exploding Metropolis Populis.
But this, THIS is highly unusual. Where it is parked causes one to contemplate the juxtaposition alone. It was found at an elementary school (One of the MOST P.C. schools in the U.S.A.- arguably), within an Uber (Literal and Figuratively) Liberal stronghold of the PNW. This area prides itself on Battery Operated Bikes, Communitarianism, Green Everything, Don't Be a Bully, Share a Mercedes, Share Your Wife (Kidding), and Globalism "Hug The Trees Before Someone Shoots them with a Bazooka type Stuff". This incredible self project was so startlling to see (Not shown in photo) that we scrambled to take a photo of it with our dumb-phone in the sun without being able to check for focus etc. Not included in the photo is the perspective that it was indeed parked next to a Prius- Truth!
BACK TO THE BIKE!!-
Just look at this thing! Anyone who has been reading Motosquirrel for a while knows that we love everything KLR 650 and DR 650. This bike screams "Take me to the ends of the Earth please- and let people catch up LATER!" You can tell that it is a work of love and knowledge without pretense- Purposeful building with an eye to function first, form later. Notice the customized leader fork out front, smaller front cast wheel (BOTH front and back) as well as bespoke side-car suspension (Looks like swinging arm etc.-Also please note that Motosquirrel was in super-hurry mode and was unable to get a complete look! Plus the Squirrel was also walking it's dog friend!).
We all know that both the KLR and DR are canvasses with which to build the ultimate bike and this is certainly an amazing example of that plus, most likely, ingenuity on the part of the owner. Also check out the front winch (Don't believe it is for looks either!), solar panels, signal lights, working lights, electrical sockets, high front screen and a meanness that only a KLR lover could understand.
This is not unlike discovering a brand new Dukes Of Hazard play car set made 30 years ago in the Sahara desert. "What was it doing here?" - we asked ourselves as we noticed a person trying to access a battery operated rental bike with their dumb-phone only 20 yards away at the Schoolyard/Park. This is a school that teaches children how to hate anything American, anything difficult to do and to put down the Western pioneering spirit altogether!
What was this bike doing here? We loved it- Just wish we could've spoken to the owner- whoever he/she may be!
A Moto License BEFORE a Car License?
(Well just maybe....read on)
As I was driving through my neighborhood the other day, as a cager, I sort of had the world's smallest epiphany!
Making my way around a very European and Un-American roundabout, I had kept my gaze focused all the way to my left and alternated this view repeatedly with my right towards entering traffic. It was almost as if I was riding on my motorcycle!
You see, I was not only peering or scanning straight ahead with only a casual attention paid to my left or right as I used to prior to learning how to ride all things moto, but I was also searching very far in the distance beyond the turning circle or the curve! Like so many skills that I have learned, painfully acquired and adopted into my cycle repertoire, this particular one has seamlessly graduated into my car driving.
It made me smile while realizing this! What other skills had I incorporated into my Cager driving....? It was definitely worth pondering. I pulled the car over to think about it, jot some notes down. Sometimes our physical bodies adapt and utilize skills so effortlessly from one actiivity to another that it causes one to question your habits, skills and attitudes while driving or riding your bike.
Scrambling scribbled notes down, my mind kept pulling parallels that I hadn't put down on paper before.
Just the mere act of pulling over to the side of the road had changed! Yep- it was true! After being a biker I understand that when I park a car to the side of the road I make sure that I give enough room for traffic or other bikes to get by! Also when in the city, I make sure to check the driver's side mirror prior to opening my door in anticipation of a possible oncoming car or bike.
I wrote down more skills and knowledge absorbed from biking.
(Side Note: When I entered the Washington State Motorcycle Safety course- I hated it. Having already acquired a motorcycle, I had been riding on the street already and commuting. I thought that I had nothing to learn or gain! I will admit here and now that at the time of the class I was oblivious to such basics as to what counter-steering was! This is how cocky WE ALL CAN BE! Thank your local, patient and caring Motorcycle Instructors!)
What else had my driving skills gained through motorcycles! The list continued. Hmmm.....what do I do now while driving a car that I hadn't done prior to learning to handle a bike? Wow- it hit me! Almost everything! From how I approach driving a car for the first part of the day, how I highway drive and how I care about driving around other vehicles- especially my fellow bikers!
Prior to getting into my car for a real drive, just as I learned in Motorcycle Safety class, I check the tires, give the car a walk around, pay attention to the car's oil and gas levels, spy the vehicle's mirrors and glass as well as make sure I have everything that I need as a driver to make the ride safer and more comfortable. Examples include: Emergency gear in the back, cold gear for longer trips (In case of getting stuck), sunglasses for shiny days, tools, patch kit/tire repair, inflator and the list goes on! Did they teach me these things back in the day when I got a car license? Nope!
There are countless examples of skills and knowlege osmosis gained from motorbike riding while driving our caged vehicles down the road. Nowadays when I am traveling down the state roadway along a curve and I see a motorcycle approaching at a distance from the oncoming lane, I definitely widen my approach and give them plenty of room. I also make sure that I don't blind oncoming motorcyclists with my high beams. With the advent and usage of overly powerful LED car headlights, this is something that we should all be concerned about as motorcyclists. There is brightening up our way to see down the road, and then there is blinding each other to the point of oblivion! (Enter the "I Wear My Sunglasses At Night" song here)
When driving in the rain or on hills generally while following BOTH motorcycles and cars, I now give them plenty of room to get started. I also never assume that just because someone is on a Dual-Sport 1000cc bike that he or she can make it over a construction plate or obstacle easily.
After learning to shift, clutch and countless engine and combination braking techniques, I appreciate listening to the engine of a motorcycle a lot more, and, thus I now listen to ALL vehicle engines a lot more. How does this help you may ask? Well it saved Motosquirrel money when realizing something wasn't shifting correctly on my (Yes automatic) car from 1st gear into 2nd. I was able to get it checked, corrected and fixed right away without it costing thousands of dollars! Because of this engine whisperer/listening ability I can anticipate things like a distant Semi-Truck engine breaking while on the highway or when another motorcycle is coming up from behind or in trouble etc.
Because I am especially concerned about tire pressure on the motorcycle, I have become very aware of the tire pressures I see on cars as I encounter them on the roadway. Why stay behind an over-loaded truck whose tires are going to tear, slip or sneaker a flying object into your car? (Just like when on your bike).
When I can, as a driver, I look out for other cars and motorcyclists who need help. When I was first riding a bike I had to learn the choke and letting it warm up etc. On one particular ride, I had thought that I had run out of gas. Thankfully, all I needed to do was put the tank on reserve. But this challenged me to consider how I would move it in case of an emergency. Would I need to have straps, extra tools and, perhaps, a way to strap it down onto a delivery or tow vehicle?- These are all questions that Motosquirrel feels regular car drivers should have answers to. It is all too convenient to say "No Problem- I've got triple A!". Which brings up a story of witnessing many folks in a multiple accident where there wasn't ENOUGH triple A tow-trucks around due to it being a holiday! Be prepared people!
Did I mention that I now no longer shoot the windshield wiper cleaning fluid pump of my car while whizzing down the roadway unless I am positive that there are absolutely NO cars behind me?- Another derivitive of motorcycle riding. How about making sure that all loads on top of my car are secure! This translates well from both Motorcycles AND cars. We don't want to lose anything off of our bikes, BUT we especially don't want to be hit by any loosed debris flying off of a vehicle and hitting us while riding. Makes for an F'd up day! Also, I try to avoid hitting major potholes or divets in the road so as not to crack my wheels (When possible). Did I mention that I pay attention a lot more to how my car's tires contact patch is sustained or hydroplaning in wet weather- another result of motorcycle experience.......or NOT assuming that what I see at a distance at night is an oncoming car with one headlight (or two at a much greater distance), but, perhaps, a motorbike approaching either slowly or at a great speed? Also what about NOT over-driving what my headlights can illuminate at night so that I may stop in time............
The list goes on and on and..........on!
I am now of the opinion that people need to get a small CC'd motorcycle license PRIOR to driving their four wheeled monsters!
The skills, knowledge, appreciation of your and other peoples vehicles as well as improving your ride, safety, speed and efficiency are invaluable and too numerable to mention!
Learn to ride a motorcycle and get back to me!
Welcome back Motosquirrels with installment number three of "Moto Size Matters" here at MOTOSQUIRREL!
Previously we were talking "Mean"-not really, about one of our favorite brands, namely, Kawasaki. Kawi, Kawi Kowee! We were hoping that Kawasaki would have surprised us with a mid-season announcement of an updated KLR this week (while keeping that wonderful thumper engine intact). They could have introduced a few OEM accessories to make the bike more approachable off the floor, more "Streetable" or even more off-road worthy.
One could argue that the KLR, (Out of almost all the bikes that exist minus the DR650), doesn't need any accessories offered at the time of purchase. It is fine just as “Large Marge”as it is and naked as well, only being adorned by it's 2008 upgrades, fairing and by a giant aftermarket if a buyer wishes.
But, as new or returning riders, why couldn't we get into the same options as the smaller Versys X300 or the larger Versys 650 which offer panniers as a touring or travel option? Why not sell the KLR as the adjustable, more rugged old timer that it is with the updates folks have been craving (As evidenced by this bikes world-renowned aftermarket- And NO, those flimsy little half fabric, half baked-in black pannier bags don't cut it!).
Side Note: Recently when visiting a local bike shop full of Dual-Sport bikes for sale both new and old, there wasn't a single one that would fit an experienced sport-bike rider Motosquirrelfriend who is 5'2” inches tall. With boots we will give her 5'4”!
She has tremendous experience with both street and sports bikes of all makes and models. She will ride you out of a new bike, a road lane or beat a sports car if you are willing to bet on it! The mass or the engine block size of a bike does NOT intimidate her, BUT the height does.
She wants to learn off-road and “Adventure” riding, although reassuring her that she has already had more moto adventures than most- doesn't cut it either!
Back to the browsing:
The Honda CB500X: Too Tall, The KTM 1190: Your kidding right?, The KLR650 (The one she wants or a bike like it) towers next to her and promises to squash her like a cave-girl under a fatigued dinosaur of the Jurassic era. Everything is just too darn tall. We always avoid the next “Dealership Dance Step” which is to offer the “Girl” an “XT250”- Yammy that is. But, guess what fellas...? She wants what you want. She earns good money, wants to dig the dirt, travel and be a bad ass! She doesn't want a little XT250- albeit a great bike in it's own right. This great rider girl wants the big horse just like you.
We have already argued that it is time for brands like Kawasaki to offer a serious line-up of accessories that challenge the aftermarket and show a true dedication to the heritage of such legends as the KLR. Why leave all the money to the aftermarket? It is time, in our view for Kawasaki and other brands like Suzuki to cash in on their own Ergo-Gear. Leave the wonderful thumper engines intact! Add digital TFT screens if you must! (Bravo to Suzuki with their introduction of their new retro tribute to the legendary "Katana"). Now, add in adjustability, comfort and fitment parts, windscreens and bar length options.....this is what we are focused on.
So ....back to my small friend who wants to ride big AND on the dirt. What is a girl to do when the Big Japan Three dissappoint? She looks elsewhere.
With lively word-of-mouth, video reviews, photos and brand site splash pages showing off the new KTM 790 ADV and “R” models seemingly everywhere, she is still in anticipatory shopping mode!
Love or hate KTM's willingness to throw convention to the wind, with this latest iteration of their Dual-Sport offerings, it is easy to see some of the methods behind their madness.
Just a single, lustful look at these (2) 790's should make it readily apparent that this company has “Lowered The Bar”- we mean this in a GOOD way when it comes to the overal geometry, set-up, weight distribution and standover considerations of this pair. We will focus on the more road biased version known only as the ADV 790, the other is designated with “R” which is the taller, more dirt-worthy out-of-the-box option.
But what are curiously missing with these designs is the giant gas tank on top of the frame. KTM has been producing both on road and off-road bikes with rearward placed plastic gas tanks for many years. What makes this latest approach different is the fact that the tank sort of lobs over and along both sides of the bike frame just in front and to the sides of the parallel twin engine. This giant tank sort of hugs the bike like that of a coffee bean bag over a donkey. This allows for more clearance up top as well as standover ability and lower weight distribution. Time will tell if this fantastically interesting take on an external gas tank will stand up to the abuse of heavy off-road riding.
Leave it to KTM to try something entirely different!
But....here is the BIG BUTT again! All of KTM's bigger ADV bikes are quite tall! (This is fine by MOTOSQUIRREL if they stay devoted to creating new approachable designs etc.)
Every rider and every bike has his/her needs and purpose, sometimes the "Purpose" is just having fun. Let's face it Motosquirrels: Unless a bike has extremely difficult controls to work or super extreme ergonomics- ALL BIKES ARE FUN! That's why we ride!
These height numbers are approximate. It is hard to find exact measurements via KTM materials as referenced by Motosquirrel. But these are close according to what has been reported etc.
We were watching a favorite vlogger of ours, "The Chronicles of Mr. Fish", recently who is well versed in motorcycles and has endured working in dealerships. But like so many riders in the UK, he has been denied the wonderful experience and access to off-road riding. Like so many countries, Great Britain has suffered the last few decades by so many save the earth and nutters who demand that humans do not walk the earth because they feel nature will never recover. Well, we know that this is hogwash!
Back to our Vlogger! Luckily, our friend Mr. Fish has not been deterred. He has purchased in the last few seasons both a Honda Africa Twin (Unsweetened!) as well as a CRF 250 L Rally. At over 6 feet tall, Fish has found that although the CRF 250 L Rally is a decent height for him to learn green Lanes on, he still needed bar risers to suit his riding stance. All this is to say that it is a thrill watching an old dog learn new tricks! But, once again, it leaves us asking why Honda, as well as many of the other manufacturers aren't taking advantage of the opportunities presented at the time of purchase for better fitment and…… wait for it.....PROFIT? Are you going to tell the Squirrels of MOTOSQUIRREL that Honda or any other of the top bike producers out there cannot craft great risers to begin with? Come on HONDA!
Let's make the aftermarket work harder. We need to make riders fall in love with there bikes again! Fitment first.
A few notes to the unexperienced, returning riders, riders learning new riding types or styles or.....for that matter, riders that have changed in their own body weight or confidence:
A few things to consider when buying a new or old, trusty mount when it comes to ergonomics: (Some of these will seem a little um.....duh!- But still worth keeping in mind)
1. Sit on the Dam bike!
Whether at a bike event, rally, group ride, dealership, at a friend's garage and even, possibly on a stranger's bike- take advantage of being able to sit atop a motorcycle that you may be interested in! (With permission of the owner(s) first of course!). Motorcycle dealerships especially want you to sit on their bikes because there is a higher likelihood that you'll buy them. But the important thing here is that prior to riding a demo bike, and more importantly if you're NOT allowed to ride the bike you're interested in, it is of great importance that you get a chance to sit on the bike of your choice. Also worth noting, is that it's a good idea to sit for while on a motorcycle, especially after riding it, to better determine the customizations and accessories that you may or may NOT need. Don't leave the dealership without bending their ears about the availability of such upgrades that may be stock. Keep in mind that these accessories such as handlebars, foot pegs and the like from the manufacturer are almost always expensive. (That is the point of this article- to drive these dealer add-on pricing down with market expectation!)
2. Take a look at our rider triangle graphic! This oft talked about generic set of measurement standards is a great starting point but should not be the only determining factor when feeling out your bike. These proportions which are usually obsessed about by manufacturers do not have to be obsessed by you the rider, but definitely experienced. The measure from the handlebar to the seat or foot pegs or the height of the handlebar to the midline of the seat can all be thrown out the window when it comes to your own body's specific needs.
Keep these words written on a notepad when going to check out a bike and how it feels to you. The words are: FEET, KNEES, HIPS, LOWER BACK, UPPER BACK, SHOULDERS, NECK and lastly HANDS. Keep it simple. Just write these words down along the left hand side of your page. Either while you're checking the bike out or immediately afterward a demo ride, write down your immediate thoughts on how each of these areas of your body felt. All of them can work together or interrelate to make your ride more comfortable. This should work for all styles of riding. In other words, if you are doing sport bike riding or weekend track days, all of these parameters will apply WITHIN the position requirements of that sport or activity.
An example might be that you are a returning older rider who has a lot of experience of track riding, but nowadays your hands and wrists suffer from too much weight applied when riding in a tucked position. Our little list comes in handy when you can check off or write a quick little note alongside each word such as FEET, which will say something like "Feels good but too forward"etc. It may just have a smiley face because it is perfect- it's your reference so do what you please. In our example above, when our wrist protective rider finds the bars are a bit too low he/she needs to write down something akin to HANDS "Wrists- PAIN feels too low". If you do this BEFORE and after you ride you can better ascertain what needs to be done. Keep in mind that when you are affecting any ONE part of the triangle you will most definitely affect another. As the bars move up as in our above example, so does the riders spine angle travels more upright along with the helmet/head position- these are all compromises.
3. Just because a bike is right on paper- Doesn't mean that it is that great or appropriate for you in person. A great example of this, especially when considering older and Dual sport bikes, is that a lot of highly suspended bikes have a LOT of sag. If you are a tall rider DON'T assume that a bike will be tall enough or NOT sag under your weight. You've got to try em'.
4. Just because a bike is "LOW" doesn't mean that it is easier to handle for a shorter rider. So often shorter riders are sold cruisers or lower bikes that are very heavy. All is well and good until the smaller riders who may or may not have much upper body strength find themselves trying to push or duck walk their bikes out of a strange parking area, say at the side of an old town road that has a great slant etc. Better yet in and out of a garage that is built at the top of a very quick and severe embankment. In cases such as these it is actually easier to maneuver a more midsize or standard height bike which will enable the rider a better purchase of the motorcycle via the handlebars while standing alongside of it or by other methods.
5. Where are you REALLY going to ride? Everyone has the fantasy of adventurous riding all of the world or on the finest GP tracks of Europe! The reality, for most of us, is that at the very least we will have to travel some portion of terrible highway or commute to the very places that will pay us so that we may AFFORD to do some track days. This means balancing our dreams with the necessities of riding in environments which require us to feel comfortable, confident, safe (But NOT TOO SAFE) and proud to be a Motorcyclist. You may NOT wish to be on a lower bike (Because you are a shorter rider etc.) while riding in traffic because you find that you appreciate the ability to see out ahead of traffic as much as possible. For many, the sacrifice of not being able to plant both feet on the floor is well worth it when being able to see out and BE SEEN by cagers. MOTOSQUIRREL says that if you can dab either of the balls of your feet on the ground when you are in traffic- You have a ticket to ride. Don't forget that fantastic Frenchman who won so many Paris Dakar races on a massively tall mount ......and he was barely 5'4"!!
6. Don't forget thinness! (Check out our graphic) Just because a bike's specs list it as being tall, DOESN'T mean that you can't ride it! Many riders find that because the center of the bike is so thin, they are able to reach to more of the ground. Add in most bikes tendencies to sag.........and voila! You are riding!
7. THERE IS NO SEVEN! Just an observation: Here at Motosquirrel Headquarters we witness a girl rider monster her bike down our street everyday to and from work. She is small. She looks to be about 5'3" or so. She rides a growling, howling Ducati Diavel down the road. She is seated above most of the cagers, is loud enough for them to hear, they keep a fascinated distance away, she looks like she is having a blast, the bike kicks ass and.....wait for it....SHE is kicking ass! If you want to ride a certain bike, MOSTLY you will find a way! We just want the industry to help more!
Cheers for Now and thanks for reading!!
On to more inappropriate MOTOSQUIRREL groaning!
Dual-Sport is such a huge subject, hence, there's not enough space and time to cover so many of the great and not-so great company offerings both in legacy production as well as in newer design.
There is sort of a mixed bag of happenings within each major manufacturer when it comes to bike size, adjust ability and customizable accessories offered etc.
First on the list is Kawasaki. As mentioned above this company has to be commended for their recent attempt at rider fitment and there newer Ergo-Fit program for the Vulcan S. That said, we are talking about a very basic cruiser design where it is not that difficult to offer larger seats, reach back handlebars and adjustable or better placed foot pegs. In a low design such as this is not that difficult to accommodate larger seats and peg placement when the only directions that a designer has to worry about is going more upward backward or forward while the rider triangle is cocked somewhat backward (Just look up a million years of Harley Davidson designs and customs!). But when the overall engine clearance has to be of a certain height as in that of Dual-Sport riding things get a little trickier! How can a mechanical designer or product designer and engineers go about crafting a multipurpose motorcycle that has massive clearance, suspension travel, adjustable ride height, the ability to ride while standing on the pegs, allowances for both standing and sitting stances as well as accommodating possible pillions or bags? Better yet....how do they create a design that is changeable, malleable according to the needs of a rider(s) by it's adjustability, accessories offered or by the altering of a motorcycle's actual dynamics (Getting to that in a moment)?
These are NOT easy tasks, AND to be fair to the designers of the past as well as an ever demanding customer base of riders who are lacking in mechanical skills of today........successful attempts at meeting the different physical requirements/needs of the customer WERE met and articulated in both the past and are now currently.
Enter the venerable and legendary Suzuki DR650 (I am not worthy). This super stalwart and foundational motorcycle of all things Dual-Sport was always adjustable! Suzuki has offered this model with lowering accessories such as a mechanically switchable shorter swing arm bone, the possibility to lower the front forks as well as a lower seat option. All of these options can be installed by the dealer and can lower the bike a good inch or more when being purchased the first time. How's that for been there, done that! Suzuki has always been in the habit of setting new standards when it comes to making motorcycles easier to ride, but not always when it comes to rider comfort or rider triangle adjustability. An example of this type of tweaking is their recent low RPM no clutch assist. Also their one touch engine start on many new bike models is a breeze!
But just as the saying goes "It never pays to be original", it should also be said that it never pays to keep an old original idea grandfathered in forever!
Both the Suzuki DR200 S and the Yamaha XT250 have been running the Dual-Sport small CC' segment for quite a while. The Yamaha receiving some very good upgrades in recent times including a more modern LCD display as well as having a rear disc brake and short seat height at 31.5". Although these bikes are sometimes disparaged as the "Dual-Sport Wife's Bike" in the U.S., throughout the world all folks of age, shape and size have and do use these incredible machines for work, commuting, adventure, farm-hand help and just plain fun!
Enter the Suzuki DR200S. This model has NOT changed for years! It is a small displacement Dual-Sport motorcycle used throughout the world! In so many ways it doesn't need to change. But many of today's riders are demanding conveniences, niceties, gizmos and comforts that these old models no longer offer. Whether due to emissions restrictions, Euro 4 standards, tax exemptions or grandfathered-in import licensing arrangements, great builders like Suzuki are not quick to change old and well selling machines such as the DR200S.
What we at MOTOSQUIRREL wish they WOULD do until the time for major model changes and launches is to offer some of the qualities/abilities that the big DR650 offers in a smaller package, i.e. adjustable ride height via suspension lower, seat height changeability AND why not offer bar risers or shape changes etc.? (We realize that all the Die Hard off road dirt lipped people are laughing when they can reference a million aftermarket parts for these bikes....but we are talking about off the floor puchases without much mechanical investment here) Look at the height differences between the DR200S, the Kawasaki KLX250 and the Yamaha XT250 and you will quickly see which company is offering a lot of rideability out-of-the-box! (See inserted graphics).
Back to Kawasaki ........(You are NOT off the Hook BIG GREEN!)
OK, two years ago you introduced a very well thought out Dual-Sport (We should start a new category called All-Sport! We tire of "ADV") in response to smaller or newer ADV riders or riders who have had all of the "Big Boy" bikes and realize their huge limitations when on real outland Adventures. We at MOTOSQUIRREL recommend visiting CSC Motorcycles RX3 and RX4 as well as viewing the "Bike Show" BMW G310GS vs. F800GS vs. R1200GS Part 1 here. Let alone the multitude of accounts of adventure riders who have ridden the world on mid-sized or smaller ADV bikes, enough said! Kawasaki responded in a focused way with there Versys X-300. This 300cc mini-wonder bike based off the Ninja 300 sportbike is a God-Send for those looking for an agile all-rounder as commuter during the week and gravel or fireroad finder on the weekend.
Here is the BIG BUT! BUT Kawi! Why doesn't this new all-welcoming wonder bike have all the options or at least a lower seat height option much as the Vulcan S? What gives? How about a higher seat option for that matter and bar risers? A 32.1 in seat is great....,however, why not also offer a lowering option for the truly small rider AND upgrades to outfit this bike as a more real off-road option for those who are ready to take it there (See Honda CRF250L Rally)! Also, many of us were hoping that the fine folks of Team Green would bounce up the CC's with the company's recent introduction of the Ninja 400 (Very cool bike) and the Z400. This engine BEGS to be given grunt and SHOVED into the Versys X!(Highway much Kawi?)
To close out our bitching at the very fine Kawasaki Heavy Motor Industries Group (Sorry Greendom- We still love you), you are elliminating one of the most iconic motorcycles of all time (Future article on this - promise), namely, the mighty KLR 650 and without a true Dual-Sport of similar size to replace it.....we, the riding public, are left with the more road oriented Versys 650 (A versatile powerhouse BUT not exactly dirt anything!). What is a new, returning or an experienced ADV rider who is turning her/his back away from BIGGER is better bikes to do (The KLR was definetly a tall beast but we will address this)?
If you look at some of our MOTOSQUIRREL graphics you will quickly see that the Versys X300, Versys 650 and KLX 250 are all above 32 inches. With very little adjustability "Built" in. What if we want a Versys 300X with a slight bit more leg room? What if we desire a 600cc class Dual-Sport that is approachable and customizable over time? Most riders abilities grow as they do more real dirt riding and eventually require more ground clearance etc......where are dirt guys/girls seat options darn it! (Oops now we sound like spoiled millennials!).
What we are trying to relay here, Lord Kawi, is that HERE is your opportunity to take BACK the aftermarket! One online query will prove, due to the KLR's success, for example, there is a world of forever deep aftermarket accessories available for the dirt or ADV market attending this model. Since the KLR sort-of cannot be engine updated (Restrictions...restrictions), why not design a newer more ADV oriented Versys as a rougher version of the current offering. Add in a more articulated rear suspension and (Perhaps) a more techno-rough (See KTM 790 ADV R) swing-arm plus ......wait for it......many adjustable parts which cater to ergonomics, riding style or for differences in intended use as included (Not smartphone speedometers). Sort-of a UniVersys 650! One for more road, the other for more off-road.
Stay tuned Motosquirrels for installment number three of this series where we will review how important and unimportant things such as seat height, bike weight and rider comfort can be as well as the very cool design madness of KTM and their new 790 ADV ......see you soon!
Have motorcycles begun to get taller again?
(Part 1 of a 3 part Series Titled: Moto Size Matters!")
Were the last few years just a manufacturers tease?
We here at MOTOSQUIRREL were most recently contemplating these very important questions!
For all those riders who are endowed with a towering physicality, we salute you.… But you're welcome to skip this article for now (But you really shouldn't)! For the rest of us more normally statured riders, let's dig in and pay attention!
The focus here (as always at MOTOSQUIRREL) is to address the very real and not so technical aspects of motorcycle riding, achieving better rider comfort, as well as gaining better skills. This is NOT just another product launch page.
Many of us who were learning to ride here in the U.S. in the past decade have made many suggestions to local dealerships, motorcycle manufacturers as well as online retailers about the need for bikes and equipment that fit the needs of ALL sizes of people.
We realize that it is impossible for most companies to make their products in a range of sizes to fit everything and everyone due to the very real lack of profit motive to do so, i.e. the Meta dictates of vast market research and the general needs of all manufacturers to stick to a tight budget. Nevertheless, we here at MOTOSQUIRREL think that many Moto Brands got some 'Splain'n' TO DO!
Both the Suzuki DR200 S and the Yamaha XT250 have been running the Dual-Sport small CC'd segment for quite a while. The Yamaha receiving some very good upgrades in recent times including a more modern LCD display as well as having a rear disc brake and short seat height at 31.5". Although these bikes are sometimes disparaged as the "Dual-Sport Wife's Bike" in the U.S., throughout the world all folks of age, shape and size have and do use these incredible machines for work, commuting, adventure, farm-hand help and just plain fun!
Just as the new technology era made anticipated promises to our world of a new and ever reaching way to communicate, so did it also promise an endless way to design and build in the most innovatively detailed and efficient means possible. Example: One could argue that, at this point, if a customer wanted to pay, perhaps, a little bit more for a manufacturer like BMW to pseudo -custom ( Bespoke for the Blokes) build a bike to fit an individual's specific physique -It WOULD or SHOULD be entirely possible. Albeit at an extra cost or at an extra wait-time penalty. This type of production would definitely have to be limited to changes that stay within the confines of the original product/design.
Back to Reality............
So.........what is a Motorcycle manufacturer to do? We have an ever growing population of salary earners in the east, a growing number of women riders in the west as well as a burgeoning group of younger-than-Millenials (Who are already bored with their "Smart" phones) and....THEY WANT BIKES!. All the above mentioned are generally of a smaller stature (Whether due to ever changing national, cultural, heredital, nutritional or other influences- which are BEYOND the scope of this article!), or are in need of motorcycles that are delivered with a customizable shorter seat height, approachable rider triangle and/or handlebar reach range.
Before we get into our Groaning and moaning, we wanted to spend some time acknowledging the changes and challenges that many builders and brands have already made! Extreme attempts to meet the sizing needs of smaller riders, newer riders, returning cyclists and especially those bikers who prefer smaller, changeable or more agile mid to medium sized motorcycles are plenty and noteworthy.
In just the past five years alone, brands like Triumph, BMW and Kawasaki have started to offer model specific designs meant to engage riders of all sizes, OR bikes that are ready-to-ride for smaller riders like that of Triumphs Tiger 800 XRX "low ride height" friendly LRH (Overly complicated naming conventions on the part of Triumph makes looking up their bikes that much more difficult-KEEP it SIMPLE Triumph!!) this mostly all-rounder bike by Triumph will surely get all sizes of riders into the ADV groove!
We must mention the "Ergo-Fit" system recently introduced by Kawasaki that enables a probable rider of their Vulcan S or S Cafe model the opportunity to retro-fit optional foot pedal placement, handlebar reach and seat height and length as well. This kind of from-the-dealer attention and proper fitting must be commended! What is great about the Ergo-Fit system is that it is scalable both up and down. Whether you are shorter-legged but longer in the arms, vise-versa, tall with a short inseam or, perhaps have other physio issues which might necessitate a single modification, well it COULD and often does mean the difference of whether or not a rider will be comfortable, confident and able to handle this model effectively or not. (It also must be noted here that offerings of simple mods like these are not only to garner more customers, introduce bikes to new riders or to even adapt to ageing riders etc. Many motorcycle 2nd party sellers, wholesalers, accessory manufacturers- even upholsterers! have benefited for years in offering aftermarket bike parts for trusty steeds in dealership line-ups. The manufacturers are attempting (Especially Japan) to get in on this action as bike-units sold numbers are lower recently in the West. Hey!- Why not be like Harley and offer anything under-the-sun for your Vulcan!?)
Here comes our love/hate bias when it comes to BMW! Although this company has been producing behemoths of metal for Off- Road use for what seems like a billion years.…. More recently, well let's be fair, about a decade ago this Bavarian brand started to offer shorter height seat options as well as suspension lowering setups for some of their midrange ADV adventure class motorcycles.
There are plenty of examples of how the industry is responding to a customer that is changing, a demographic that is on the move and ever demanding. To attract new customers it seems that company marketers, designers as well as engineers are flipping over backwards to apply any and every latest electronic gadget on their two wheeled wonder machine! All of these technological gizmos are wonderful toys to behold, but if a buyer cannot operate the motorcycle or feel comfortable on their bike....well...let's just say they may be standing there in a garage with a new bike while playing with a tiny screen. Motorcycles were meant to move and accomodate people moving on them!
BUT! The big BUTT! Are manufacturers slowly sliding back to their old make'm and let'm ride them just the way they are ways?
Let's take a look at a few more recent examples just to get started!
The Scrambler Icon 800 is an incredible little bike with tons of versatility and fun built in. This mini beast runs on a Duc L-Twin Desmodromic distribution, 2 valve per cyclinder and is "Old School" air cooled! It has 73hp @ 8,250 rpm, 49 lb-ft (67 Nm) of torque @ 5,750 rpm, weighs a mere 417 lbs. wet and....wait for it, has a seat height of 31.4 in (798mm) as well as having a LOW seat @ 778mm or (30.6 in.). Like 31.4 isn't low enough!
Ducati, the premium Italian sportbike maker, reinvigorated itself as well as influenced the Moto industry when it launched its scrambler lineup. This cute almost demure and classically designed future retro bike took the industry by storm and is their number one marque. This motorcycle has many benefits and attributes that would attract all kinds of riders. Introduced in 2014, this well designed marvel came in different flavors such as cafe, sport-bike and even a would-be styled "Enduro" model- this original group aimed to please. But the most stand out feature that often gets disregarded, is the scramblers approach ability. Because of its small and practical size as well as curved shapes, a low seat height and easy rider triangle, this bike is like that of the rover mini of the car world. It is fun, easygoing and very fast when you want it to be and it also welcomes lots of different riders physicality (Albeit a bit small for riders above 6 ft. tall).
Most who ride this bike are impressed with it's power-to-weight ratio and handling. The seat height on these little beasts (Excluding the Desert Sled model) is a very approachable 31.4 in. and a low seat is available at 30.6 in. The stand-over is decent with a pretty thinly profiled transition to the tank. Most riders agree that this bike betray's it's engine size with it's smallish chassis/frame body presence. It just looks and feels small.( Note: We here at Motosquirrel ARE NOT in any way advocating for reduced sized or for regularly sized motorcycles of all types to be made smaller, on the contrary,- we appreciate when manufacturers stay faithful to the size and proportions of motorcycles according to their purpose, i.e.: nobody wants a tiny wimpy cruiser or a a two-up tourer to be made tiny. Absolutely not! But we want manufacturers to start creating a bit more flexibility in the fitment available with bikes as purchased to accommodate for different types of the human body, even if that means (As many bigger riders do) making it a bit easier for a BIGGER rider to feel more comfortable on, say, a cafe type etc.)
Just when you thought everything was happy in it's happy-place.........umm nope! Big Duc introduces the new Scrambler 1100 in 2018. This is a bigger, badder version of the more recent and best selling scramblers of the 800cc class.
At 454 lbs. wet weight, 65 lb-ft (88 Nm) of torque @4,750 rpm, better brakes (There are three model options in this class) and a Ducati Monster-ish stance, one could argue that it is LESS the Scramblers big brother, but more the Monster series less aggressive sister. But the point here is to mention that the bigger CC'd Scram grew taller!
We at Motosquirrel ask why? (See the posted illustration comparing the seat heights- Aprx.). With, albeit a hefty L-Shaped V-Twin, it does argue the Design Engineers freedom to set this engine low enough to retain the original seat-height of it's little siblings. We are all for making this bike a bit more stout, but where is the need to heighten the seat? We think many a would-be buyer of Scrambler 1100 may be turned off by how high it got. If Ducati wanted to create a hierarchical Scrambler series with the 1100 at it's top, it begs the question whether the company is ignoring the very reason that many buyers bought into the Scrambler series to begin with? If Ducati's marketing department are expecting the 1100 Scram to be more of a "Fun-Bike" for their more expensive buyers who don't wish to be smiled at on a smaller steed........well ....the Scrambler concept (as in the 60's) was founded on a smaller more vesatile bike originally. Rather than kowtow to higher end buyers (If indeed this is the case with the Scram 1100), why not feature older or more experienced riders (Once in a while) as second photo shots in their advertizing for the standard Scrambler series? Not to scare off the youth, but rather encourage more experienced riders to "Let their hair down" and have some fun! Italian bike style! This way they could open up a space for an Italian standard Bonnevile type bike with a larger engine as the Scrambler 1100 has with an easier going seat height or with adjustability built right in. In our opinion the 1100 series is much too serious a machine to wear the Scrambler badge! So....are Ducati Scramblers getting BIGGER? (We love the Desert Sled and feel that it should be left alone.....remember our form follows function opinion?)
Stay tuned dear readers for our second installment of this series where we talk about WHY these measurements are mostly important BUT sometimes meaningless depending on the size you are and your riding intentions. We will also mention some great "Ups and Downs" of some very popular Moto-brands and how some (Such as KTM) are meeting the size and riding demands of their customers. HEY! That's you and me! See you soon or maybe on the road!
Nah! Just another amazing motorcycle that I witnessed last weekend while in North Bend WA! While stopping by Moon Motorcycles to pick up my newly mounted tires, I got to check out, although rather hurriedly.…. (cuz they were about to close for the day) this outstanding off-road motorcycle.
I've been a fan of Urals for quite some time and I've always wished that I could either afford to have one as an extra bike or for just getting around the city. I could go into all of the amazing abilities, history and the various current uses of these three wheeled vehicles, but for this quick write up the focus is strictly that of Scott Moon's very own personal vehicle. What I would like to note by mentioning the Ural is that whenever myself or other motorcyclists are talking or are taking in considerations of whether or not to purchase a Ural, it always comes down to a final negative which outweighs all the positives: The achilles' heel of these fantastically designed and unconquerable Ural mechanical creatures is the fact that their maximum safe highway speeds are just not speedy enough, unless traveling with other close by motorcycles or urals on most major U.S. highways. Don't get me wrong, you can do it …… But I'm not sure that I would! Nor would I want my closest loved one in that little metal bucket seat on said highway!
(It must be inserted here and stated emphatically, that any high powered or overly high revving or even torquey engine installed or utilized in a sidecar or trike could be deadly and driven without the proper expertise, rider experience, sidecar and earned off-road abilities could prove very dangerous or possibly even fatal!) (Also I would like to note here that although I was only able to look at this terrific motorcycle rig for a few minutes, I can clearly see that it was well designed, crafted and engineered to work well with the combination of both the Yamaha Tenere and the Ural side-car passenger bucket- THIS was no "Weekend Have A Few Beers Project"). -Look out for a future in-depth article on it's build genesis with Mr. Scott Moon of Moon Motorcycles in the future etc.
At a glance: What stands out. WELL! What doesn't ! I have seen Ural, Harley's, Moto Guzzi's, Goldwings and even Vespas with sidecars etc., but never something as off-road ADV aggressive as a Super Tenere!
What Scott pointed out to me right away is the special supportive frame under bracketing or undergirding if you will. There's also a specially customized front leader fork which was milled for this project bike specifically. I did not get to ask Scott, but it looked to me that all of the suspension was specifically customized for this build as well.
Again all apologies for the very rough and unfocused photos of this incredible machine but I'll be getting some better shots soon and updated info!
If you want a better look....you better stop by Moon in North Bend!
Check Out MOON MOTORCYCLES!!
How many times or for that matter, how many videos have we all seen depicting extraordinary usage of ratchet straps? We have witnessed these magnificent straps taking down trees, moving cars, holding up babies and yes supporting our beloved motorcycles!
But what do you do when you own a set of these incredible little straps and have documented their usage for everything under the sun except for the very specific need of somehow supporting your own little motorcycle? Well… You mess around with them until you come up with something!
At this particular time, yours truly, does not have the larger garage space to accommodate a motorcycle stand which would fit properly either in usage or for its storage within a small town home's utility area. Like so many, living in a city, I can afford such equipment but I cannot afford the space. So recently, when I needed to remove both wheels from my little Ninja 250, I experimented like crazy crap!
What I discovered essentially is that the Ninja 250 is light enough to be supported without the use of hydraulics or anything fancy. I realize that many home mechanics and professionals alike already know how lightweight these and other bikes of its class are, but I wish to stress here that I did not have the anchor spots or ability to permanently attach any equipment to the floor or upwards at the joists of my garage.
Incorporating two orange ratchet straps that are rated at about 400 to 500 pounds each, I carefully and evenly ratcheted the tops of the chromed upper portion of the front forks and securely attached the straps to the already lowered and secured center stand. I determined that the straps would not only keep the front fork even, but would also keep the center stand from collapse in case it were to be rocked or jarred accidently etc. I should note here that I also raised the bike up by ¾ inches with a couple of spare ¾ inch plywood base pieces of wood. My idea here was that if all else fails I would still be able to rock or raise either end of the bike enough to remove the axles, even if it required an extra hand or two. But in this exercise I truly intended and succeeded in doing this without any extra help.
Pulling the mechanical hand jack from the spare tire area of my car and adding a small thin layer of ¾ inch corrugated cardboard in between the worm gear hand jack and the bottom belly oil filter area of the engine, I was able to lift the front of the motorcycle up about 3 to 4 inches.
Raising and removing the front wheel first, I had a more industrial type of milk crate at the ready as well as a few super strong quick ties. After removing the front wheel I reinserted the font Axel and secured the front fork to the crate.
Once the front wheel was removed and the crate secure, it was very easy to access the rear wheel. It has to be said that this exercise still was a bit dangerous. There was the possibility that the motorcycle could've been hit or abruptly bumped from side to side and a tip over could have resulted. I was very careful! Also I'd like to note here that while using breaker bars etc the motorcycle did want to winnie upwards or move a bit while wrenching.
All this is to say that the use of ratchet straps seems endless! But, in an overly safe society all forewarning is included here. I am not a professional mechanic, professional consultant, life consultant, coach, expert, master journeyman, psychologist, Dr., Technician or certified Kawasaki mechanic. You take your life into your own hands! I did, and now I have new tires installed with nice new clean wheels!
Check it out my Squirrel Friends! Motosquirrel is back! Please check in (When you are not otherwise preoccupied with steering your motorcycle!) for my new articles, reviews, opinions, art, design and ALL things Motosquirrel! Especially- My new series for 2019 called "MotoSnap!"- Fun Stuff! #MotoSnap!
Designer, artist, writer Motovlogger