A picture (or a video in this case) is worth a thousand words. Enjoy and happy Friday to everyone.
Archive for March, 2008
This post is not necessarily a gear review but my quick rant about the Alpinestars jeans I bought some time ago. Motodisiac and I stopped at a local cycle gear store to kill some time. And there they were, on sale at 50% off. I decided to try them on as I needed a pair of jeans to walk around the office in.
The jeans fit me pretty well at the store. So I handed over 40 bucks to the cashier (who happened to be a pretty good looking girl). It has been a couple of months now and I have been wearing these jeans pretty much non stop. Yes, I have been washing them too. Now that the weather in Southern California became much warmer I even ride in them instead of the heavier Rev’it Ultimate Pants.
The jeans are made pretty good. A couple of my female friends had found them fairly stylish (sorry for being a little vain here). So long story short - highly recommend. They won’t offer full protection, but as an every day wear pants they’d be just fine. Follow this link to the Alpinestars website to purchase them for full price or search the web to get a better deal.
P.S. No, it’s not my ass in this picture :).
I am sure this post will stir up some controversy like the Prius one. So before I go into more details I would like to say that I am talking purely from my own riding experience. Not a vast one. However I believe that logging approximately 1000 miles (1600 km) per month might entitle me to build some sort of a stereotype about various driver types. Also I am not trying to “target” a certain group out of hate or malice. Again this is just the result of my statistical analysis of all cases of “attacks” or rather clueless and poorly executed maneuvers by drivers on the road that resulted in me hard braking, weaving and/or swerving.
Now that I’ve made this disclaimer I shall proceed with my story.
In my half a year of riding there have been at least 10 instances of close calls if not more. Most of the time these are cases of someone merging pretty much into me. And for the ones who don’t know I am not one of the riders who splits lanes at space rocket like speeds. I try to be cautious and ride defensively. Also my new bike has got a louder exhaust note. And the first day (or night rathe) while riding it back to Los Angeles I was almost swept off the road on the 10 freeway in the LA downtown area by a big black SUV. Motodisiac who was driving his car in front of me saw that also in his rear view mirror. The driver - middle age woman on her cell.
Today I made a quick lunch getaway from the office. My route lied through somewhat congested streets of West Hollywood. As I headed back to the office 2 close calls happened in the time frame of less than 5 minutes. First, as I was splitting lanes while going not more than 35 mph in a 25-30mph traffic a young woman in a red Mini Cooper suddenly changed lanes not more than one inch in front of me. I had to brake hard to avoid being side swiped. And a second later when I was passing her on the left I took a look and, what a surprise, she was talking on her cell and looking straight ahead. 5 minutes later a woman in a big black SUV did pretty much the same, except this time she was a little further away from me. May be 10 inches or so. Again, as I was passing her by to make some eye contact and shake my head I saw her looking straight ahead while talking on her cell phone. I felt much safer riding a beat up 250cc off road bike in Thailand with no protective gear. This was my thought at that moment.
I am not sure if it is women in particular or the fact that they are on the cell phone, or just the fact that a driver talking on his/her cell have to pay or at least try to pay more attention to what they are doing on the road. But this seems like a trend as far as I am concerned.
To conclude this rant I clearly remember one of my first days riding. I took the streets to go visit one of my friends and show off my new toy. A couple of blocks away from his house I was almost hit by a young woman merging left while looking right and holding her cell phone with her left hand. Back then I did not think it was a trend …
|motorcycle||2003 Aprilia Futura RST 1000||2006 Yamaha Off Road / MX|
|engine size||998 cc||250cc|
|mileage||~7K miles||~6500 km (allegedly per renter)|
|condition||as new||beat up|
|helmet||Z1R Blade ~$90||noname camouflage hat ~$10|
|beach volleyball t-shirt - free|
|old faded out quiksilver surf shorts - unknown|
|noname sandals ~$10|
|gloves||Alpine Stars ~$70||no glove|
Yes, riding in Thailand was fun. No, it was not safe, neither was it AGATT compliant. Having a bike however enabled me to go places and see things that I would have never gotten to see had I had a car or taken a tour.
In my defense tons of people ride bikes and scooters (mostly). So the traffic is definitely more rider-aware though I have seen more than one close call. Long story short - you be the judge:
Since the day I bought my Futura I have been thinking about it. It’s very nice to be able to ride the bike without disturbing other people. Yes, loud bikes make people mad and upset instead of saving lives. How many times did you wake up at night when some jackass on a Harley with open pipes passed by, sounding like he has no mufflers at all?
However don’t you hate it when the bike sounds gutless? Aprilia Futura is one of these 1000 cc race bred V-Twin bikes that sound like Zinger. Run the throttle wide open, and it still sounds like it has no balls. Try to attract some attention by blipping the throttle while spliting lanes and nobody hears you coming. The fact that Sideout got Futura with Taylormade exhaust didn’t help the matter. It was time to pull the trigger.
Futura comes stock with pretty restrictive and heavy catalytic converter. Luckly, AF1 Racing makes “H- pipe”, it’s direct bolt on replacement for the catalytic. It shaves a couple pounds off the bike while letting it breath better.
This is where a got lucky. My original plan was to order H-Pipe and modify stock mufler, gutting it out and filling it with straight cores surrounded by muffler packing. I didn’t want to change the look of the exhaust since I believe it plays important role in bike’s design. To my dismay I found out that the H-Pipes are no longer produced. In desperate attempt I placed wanted ad on AF1 Racing forum. Couple days later I was in contact with the fellow Futura owner who was selling his H-Pipe along with the muffler ALREADY MODIFIED exactly the way I wanted. Did the stars align my way or what?
UPS devilered the box Friday afternoon, and few hours and six pack of cold Foster’s later the exhaust was installed on my bike. This is what V-Twin is supposed to sound like! First ride this morning revealed that the bike sounds amazing at any RPM, now I can honestly say that Sideout’s Taylormade exhaust is blown away. The only side effect I noticed is slowly fluctuating idle, I’m hoping that it will fix itself once ECU “learns” new conditions.
How do you make a very respectable sports car brand mad at you?
- buy their car
- cut it in half
- inserted a 3m (9.5ft) section of hand-built carbon fiber
- keep the badge on and drive this car around town
The brand - Ferrari, the person who made them mad - Dan Cawley, 36, of Cheadle, Manchester. The Ferrari lawyers say that once you modify the car like that it is no longer a Ferrari. Therefore the all prancing horse badges have got to be removed. Mr. Cawley on the other hand is saying that he can do whatever he wishes to with his own property. The legal battle is about to begin as Mr.Cawley was given 14 days to remove the badges from his creation.
Who do you think is right in this situation?
Read the story here.
With gas prices hitting record $106 a barrel there are a lot of discussions regarding gasoline prices. Usually I hear two complaints. One comes from American public, crying that the gas is about to hit $4 per gallon. Opposing opinion comes from members of the European community, letting clueless Americans know that they’ve been paying double that for years.
While both parties have a point, they fail to notice the following. While it costs double to fill up the car on the European continent, average car is much more fuel efficient compared to their American rivals. They drive 1.0 liter econoboxes and 2.0 liter SUV’s. Only in Europe you will see BMW 520 and Mercedes E200. Americans, known to desire everything oversized, will drive 5.8 liter SUV to pick up a cup of Starbucks, in process burning more gas than some Europeans burn in a day of driving. I wouldn’t be surprised if the overall gas spending per mile driven is higher is USA despite lower gas prices. I don’t even take into account the fact that Americans drive more. This is great news for the Land Of The Free since there is room for savings and not such good news for Europeans, who already use fuel efficient vehicles.
So, dear Yankees, please upgrade (or downgrade?) your gas guzzlers with something more down to earth and soaring gas prices will not have you cringe.
Lately we’ve been covering very sad and depressing topics. This one is no different.
In May of 2006 Clayton Schwartz, beginner motorcyclist and avid adventurer, left for a trip of his dreams, riding Kawasaki KLR from Seattle to the south tip on South American continent. It was a trip many of us can only dream of. He was posting daily trip reports here. Sadly, his dream was cut short about a month into the trip near Acapulco, when he hit a donkey and got paralyzed from chest down.
I remember thinking back then, how does one stay positive and keep living when something like this happens? Many great racers get paralyzed but still appear happy and active. Doug Henry, Wayne Rainey, Ernesto Fonseca. The list goes on and on. The truth is that it’s probably very hard to stay positive, for the moment it may seem that the life is over.
In the beginning Clayton struggled, deeply depressed he was even talking about suicide. As time passed his life got back on the track, he even got enrolled in a law school. A week ago he took his life. Unfortunately this is not a Hollywood story.
I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done in his situation.
This will be a superficial kind of post. I am not sure I’ll ever discipline myself to give this subject alot of thoughts. However it is definitely a subject worth discussing.
Fear of death is the most primal of all fears. There are ways to suppress it depending on situations. When I just started riding I had constant images of crashes in my head as I was speeding down a freeway. All these motorcycle crash videos on YouTube, stories from friends who knew someone who knew someone who died in a motorcycle accident etc. I personally knew someone who died in a motorcycle accident when I was 9 years old. It was one of my classmates older brother. He was riding at night and did not see a parked bulldozer. Slammed full speed into its blade. Heck, Lawrence of Arabia died in a motorcycle accident.
I am not sure how I dealt with it. I kept riding daily and gaining more experience, my confidence grew. And slowly these fears were being phased out. I guess it is sort of similar to a soldier in a combat zone. I was in the Army Reserve of my native country some 10 years ago and was lucky enough not to see any combat. But I have had friends who’d seen it. And apparently you fear death at first and then you sort of get used to being in danger and phase these thoughts out. You start believing in the “when your number is up” theory and subconsciously get in the denial mode.
I wish Motodisiac had not touched on this subject. Now my worst fears might come back and haunt me. Regardless of that I believe at this point denial is the best way of dealing with it. So with this said even though it might be a bit selfish I would not want to be a donor.
To wrap it up I will quote Wikipedia on the subject of organ donations in the US (where Motodisiac and I currently reside) - “Under United States law, the regulation of organ donation is left to states within the limitations of the federal National Organ Transplant Act of 1968…Still, it remains a pure consent system rather than an extended consent system or even a dissent opt-out system. Curiously, though, relatives can still dissent even in the presence of evidence of explicit consent by the potential organ donor (driver’s licence, living will, registry information, etc.).” As far as UK goes for instance “organ donation is always voluntary and no consent is presumed”
It does not seem like a very streamlined process to me. I am in denial too, Motodisiac.