Random Pictures From the Road

I take many pictures during my rides and the best are posted here. But, many others are left collecting dust in some forgotten folder on my hard drive. These are subjects I found photo-worthy at a particular moment. With that in mind, here a few of these random pictures from the road:

As an Air Force veteran I have an affinity for vintage military aircraft. This 1960's era T-33 is a common fixture in parks across the country. Three of them are within an hour's ride of me and I have seen them in many other states. It's not a particularly sexy aircraft, but the T-33 was a solid part of our nation's Cold War defense and is still flying for some South American nations.

Abandoned homes are fascinating because under the rotting floor boards you may find a rusty metal box full of old $1000 bills. They are also creepy because you know they are haunted as well as home to a rabid skunk or a serial killer waiting for the next victim to wonder through the door. Either way, best to keep a safe distance and take a picture!

These are the "Wide Open Spaces" the Dixie Chicks used to sing about. I liked this scene, but the barbed wire fence post needed some dressing up. That is the "Punisher" logo on my hat, not one of those aliens that crashed at Roswell, New Mexico.

This was along the Sheyenne River from a ride back in August. This isolated and peaceful spot was at the end of a rough and rutted dirt trail. It was fun to imagine being the first person to discover this place, but a fisherman had left some trash on the river bank. I hate that! When I left, I took the trash with me.

You never feel more alive than when you realize you have gotten way too close to a monster buffalo! I am amazed at how people line up to see and to show their kids these great animals. I believe many people view buffalo as a living connection to the Old West. I can relate to that.

You Never Saw This Before

This is not my bike, but I want to share this picture and it's website. Before you say, so what - it's a cafe bike, take a closer look. A lot of imagination, talent, and dedicated work transformed a former KLR 650 into a cafe racer.
Certainly, going from KLR to Cafe is not for everyone, especially the die-hard cafe purists. But, this project shows off the tremendous potential and versatility of the KLR650. It is slightly odd and totally awesome. The link below connects to this bike's website for the rest of the story and more pictures. 

2013 KLR650 Review

It's the time of year to pull up a chair next to the fire and start reading the reviews of the 2013 bikes. When it comes to the KLR, the reviewers have a difficult time, because this bike is the same as last year's and the previous years's see where I am going.

With that in mind, here is the Total review of the 2013 KLR. The article is right-on in describing the KLR650 and its on-and-off road capabilities. But, I was surprised the article failed to discuss the one significant change in the 2013 model and they did not include a picture - I have corrected their oversight here...

New for 2013, along with the updated decals, the KLR is available in Pearl Solar Yellow. In simpler terms I would call it yellow or gold. That is an unusual color for the bike and will certainly turn some heads when riding on the street.

Aside from that, the Total article reads like previous KLR reviews. It affordably and reliably takes you anywhere you want to go. That's nothing new or exciting to those familiar with the bike.  For those considering the leap into dualsport motorcycling with the KLR 650, it is worth the time to read. Just click the link below...

Total Reveiw of the 2013 KLR650  

2012 KLR650 Project Bike Part 3

This time around Motorcycle USA gives their 2012 KLR650 project bike a LeoVince X3 Slip-on exhaust for improved engine performance. The stock suspension is also upgraded in both the front and rear with a Progressive Suspension Monotube Fork Kit and 465 Series Shock. These are worthwhile upgrades, but do you need them?

LeoVince X3 Exhaust: The stock KLR has extra horsepower that is smothered by the slightly modified vintage tractor exhaust that Kawasaki installs. One solution comes from LeoVince, an Italian company (pronounced as Leo Vin-chay) that is big in aftermarket exhaust systems. Their X3 exhaust has been around for a couple of years and has a lot of positive feedback. This exhaust frees your KLR's smothered ponies for a 10% performance increase and snappier throttle response. That is not bad when you consider that no bank will give you a 10% return on your money. The LeoVince also weighs four pounds less than the stock "tractor" muffler. Less weight plus more horsepower equals a happy rider. This happiness lists for $286.99 at Motorcycle Superstore. Then put your stock muffler on a tractor where it belongs, or use it for a boat anchor.

Progressive Suspension Monotube Fork Kit and 465 Series Shock: KLR suspension upgrades are always a hot topic since the stock suspension is inadequate for any serious off road adventures. Progressive Suspension has several solutions to this. The monotube fork kit and new shock are higher end upgrades with higher end price tags; almost $1,000. The project bike's handling was greatly improved, as you would expect for that price. My KLR handles well for my needs, so that $1,000 would be better spent on a few road trips!!

These over-the-top upgrades are interesting, but are probably not for most people and that is just fine. I consider these muffler and suspension upgrades as "nice to have" and not "must have" upgrades. Only you can decide if these aftermarkets are right for you and your bike. A lot depends on how your bike performs for the way you ride it, and how much spare change is in your "KLR Ugrade" cookie jar. What really matters is that you get out and ride!

Click here for the article 

6 Simple Tips for GoPro Ride Videos

Watch a few motorcycle ride videos on You Tube and before long, you will be browsing the portable video cameras at Best Buy. You will soon discover that GoPro has a great store display with exciting clips of people kyaking, skiing, and skydiving. Five minutes in front of that display will convince you that owning a GoPro is your ticket to becoming the Internet's next viral video star.

That GoPro display was my inspiration for buying the camera and a sack of those plastic mounting things. I was not interested in You Tube stardom, but I was excited about posting some cool clips of my rides. I didn't know that I still needed to learn a few aggravating lessons about using the GoPro. 

From my experience as a GoPro noob, I am passing along these 6 simple pointers that are not mentioned by the store display. Keep them in mind when using your GoPro and you will soon be posting awesome ride videos online.

Before heading out with your GoPro make sure:
  • The battery is fully charged - The battery life indicator is impossible to read with the camera mounted on your helmet and nothing is worse than finishing a ride to find your battery died five minutes after you started.
  • The SD card is inserted - Check this before you leave home since the camera will not work without the SD card. I keep a couple extra SD cards in my tail bag, just to be safe.  
  • The SD card is big enough and empty - The more GB on the card, the more it can record. But if your big card is half full from last week's ride, you will only get few minutes (or seconds) of  today's ride. The camera can record in several different resolutions, but higher resolution fills the SD card faster. That's ok if you have those extra SD cards in the tail or tank bag.
  • The camera is angled correctly - Not too high and not too low. The fish-eye lens is pretty forgiving on the camera angle. But, I dumped once while wearing the helmet cam and the impact pivoted the camera down. The rest of that video was not-so-exciting footage of the top of the gas tank.  
  • Turn it on before you start - Simple enough, but easy to forget when you are with friends and everyone is excited to start down an unexplored trail. After the ride when someone asks if you recorded everything, it's a bad feeling to look in the side mirror and see the camera was off the entire time!.
  • Turn it off and on again while riding - This breaks up the recorded video into smaller files that are much faster to download into the computer and easier to work with in your video editing software.
  • Wipe the lens - Be sure you run your glove across the lens when riding and clean it when you stop. Otherwise, bugs, dirt, dust, and mud can cover the lens and ruin your epic ride video. 
Wild horses! Wait - is the camera on??
Bitter experience from some great opportunities that I missed has improved my GoPo skills and I am better now than when I began. But, learn from my mistakes and perhaps you will find the viral video stardom that has eluded me - probably because I forgot to turn on the camera again.