Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist

2.01.2018

My first foray into motorcycle vlogging. (Sorry about the dirty windshield.)

I picked up a GoPro Hero 5 Black as a personal gift to myself after switching jobs back in September, and since then I have been thinking of ways to use this little camera on my motorcycle. So far, I've tried a helmet mount, but I received too much wind buffeting and resistance at freeway speeds. In later tests, I went with a RAM mount setup since I already have five RAM balls spread out along my handlebars. Another perk of opting to place the camera on my bike instead of my helmet was that I could plug the camera into my built-in USB-C power cable that's usually reserved for my Google Pixel XL smartphone. This means that I can record extremely long videos without worrying about the camera going out on me.

This is one of a couple configurations I can use when mounting the GoPro to my FJR1300. My RAM Cup Holder would normally be in the spot where the GoPro is hanging from. However, I do have the option of taking the RAM X-Grip (left), moving it to the lower ball, and mounting the camera on the left side of the bars. It doesn't affect my ability to use my handlebars in either place. Of course, your configuration will vary depending on the model of your motorcycle.
After a few months of messing with the camera by itself, I picked up the GoPro 3.5mm Mic Adapter and a basic lavalier microphone to start recording narrations while I was riding. My biggest challenge in the setup was the location of the mic inside my helmet. In the first sample video, I had the lavalier clipped to the bottom fabric lip of my full-face helmet pointing up toward my face. This limited the microphone's usefulness to speeds below 55MPH, and I could imagine that threshold to have been lower if I didn't have a significant windshield on my motorcycle. I also had the microphone setting on the GoPro set to "Standard Mic+" which I found to be unnecessary because the sound was peaking and cracking, even at slow speeds.


In the second video, I adjusted the lavalier mic so that it was nested behind my helmet's rubber breath guard. I also returned the GoPro mic settings back to "Standard." That worked out perfectly and the mic sound was clear at all speeds, even during the short moment when I raised my face shield to scratch my nose. So for now, that microphone positioning will be my go-to when recording my voice with the camera on.
(Top) Lavalier microphone. (Bottom) Microphone for my Sena SMH10 headset. There is no interference or feedback between the two microphones despite their close proximity to each other.
Here's the lavalier mic's clip from the outside. I can't see it when I'm riding, but I do admit that it is a tad bit goofy to look at from this angle.
So here's the second test that confirmed my theory about microphone positioning. I will have to find better times to do my recordings because heading eastbound in the morning and westbound after work will put me directly into the sun's path. However, I am pleased with these first trials. Next task: clean my windshield!

1.22.2018

NorCal Revisited Part 5: Motorcycles and hockey do mix with surprising results.

Long time, no see! I'm starting 2018 with the conclusion of an adventure that I started back in July 2017. Yeah, I admit to being that far behind, but I have reasons. I will say that it is extremely satisfying to come back and finish telling this story, especially because the circumstances that prevented me from completing this no longer exist.

The last half of 2017 had been inundated with incidents and events that have kept me away from my blog space (not to mention grad school), but I hope to add to the random stories throughout this year. As for the tales of this vacation from July 2017, let's just say that not long after my ride home in the triple digits (both in temperature and in mileage), my work life went into a tailspin and far out of my control, and that waking nightmare didn't end until September. Anyway, I'm very glad to be back and I'm determined to stay on track the best I can. So, without further adieu, I get to talk about the part of my motorcycle vacation that involved a hockey tournament.

11.29.2017

2018 Yamaha Star Eluder: Test Ride Video!

Hey, it's been a while! I'm trying something new with my acquisition of a GoPro Hero 5 Black, and for the first time, I was able to do a video of my entire test ride of the 2018 Yamaha Star Eluder bagger motorcycle. Enjoy the show!



Overall, I found the bike to be very well-balanced and smooth. Its engine is identical to the original Yamaha Roadliner/Stratoliner that debuted in 2006. The electronic cockpit was easy to read from a quick glance, and the onboard dual speakers are more than enough to counter the wind noise. One of my few critiques of the bike is that it lacks a heel-toe shifter which would be perfect for a bike with such a forward foot position. I recommend taking a test ride on one of them for kicks. You won't be disappointed.

9.13.2017

NorCal Revisited Part 4: Eleanor does the Corbin Factory

It was my kind of vacation day: get out of bed, ride, eat, chill, ride some more, sleep, repeat. There was some hockey thrown in there as well, and I'll talk about it a bit later. But first, I took a 5:30 AM departure on Friday morning from Petaluma all the way down the 101 to the world famous Corbin seat factory in Hollister, CA. It was approximately a 130-mile jaunt from start to finish, and I made it there as the doors were opening at 8 AM. Traffic was non-existent, even in the more populated areas such as Alameda and San Jose on the 580/880, and Eleanor ran like a charm for the straight shot down.

First guest motorcycle here!
So why were we here? Below is Exhibit A. The Corbin seat on Eleanor has seen over 192,000 miles of road in ten years, experiencing every weather condition that has hit the continental United States short of a hurricane and a tornado. The leather was dried up and shot, the foam gone in some places from wear and exposure, and it was long overdue for a complete refurbish. Fortunately, Corbin has a special program in which a seat purchased directly from them can be restored to original factory condition for half the cost of a new one, provided that you bring the seat in. (Side note: if you purchased the Corbin seat private party or through eBay, you would get 30% off a complete refurbishing.)

Now, this isn't the first time that I have been to the Corbin factory. I was here once before back in July 2011 en route to the Women On Wheels® International Ride-In™. If I had thought ahead sooner, I would've had the seat done back then, but like many things in my life, it was worth the extra wait.

This seat has seen many things. It was definitely time for a refresher.
On-site ride in service at the factory is done in an appointment-based, first-come first-served basis. I called ahead on Wednesday to get a slot for Friday. When I made it to Corbin that morning, there was a gentleman with a 2015 version of my Yamaha FJR1300 who was there to get a full rider and passenger seat combo. It was nice to get a neighbor with a newer, yet nearly identical ride (everything from the tank to the tail is practically the same). Since we both had different preferences for what we wanted in our seats, it was fun to see the options that were out there and find out what we each chose for our own needs.



Seat creation/restoration takes a few hours, so I took a break inside the Wizard's Cafe for a little blogging, photo organization, and a breakfast burrito. Coffee was complimentary and there was a lot of it to go around.


This was a very tasty burrito.
After an hour or so, my "seat wizard" came back with my seat without the leather covering. He placed a temporary seat pad on top of the foam and asked me to take a lap around the street to see how I felt. I will say, it had been so long since I had a cushiony seat on Eleanor that it felt like I was riding on a cloud. When I came back from my test ride, I talked to the gentleman with the FJR who had made a slight modification to his custom seat. The middle area was replaced with a softer foam that reduced the pressure to the tailbone and related area. After sitting on his seat in comparison to mine, I requested to have my seat's internals done in the same fashion. It's moments like these when I knew that it was totally worth it to spend the extra miles to get exactly what I wanted. After all, I'm looking at several more years with this bike at the minimum, and I'd like to enjoy every minute of it. It was also great to receive peer feedback and suggestions that helped improve my own seat.

Here's the unfinished seat with a test ride pad.
Here's a closeup of my "neighbor's" seat after the softer foam was added to the main area. My front seat received the same treatment.
The service areas where the trimming and shaping of the foam were within walking distance of where the motorcycles were staged.
My "neighbor's" finished product, a front/rear seat combo with a smooth top (similar to my original seat) with color-matched welt and a textured side vinyl pattern. He was very happy with the results.
As for me, I decided to change it up this time around and requested stitching on the top of the seat. The extra stitching also offered a little extra foam cushion on the top as well as a nice textured look. The sides were lined with a textured vinyl pattern with the welts remaining black.


Eleanor's odometer reading at seat restoration.
The new seat's maiden break-in ride was a 150-mile ride from the factory all the way back up north to Sacramento where I was headed to meet up with my other friend and then carpool another 40 miles westbound toward Vacaville for the first game of the Vacaville Classic hockey tournament. It was a long, yet very productive day, and with the 250+ riding miles on the road that day, I still pulled a 2-0 opening game win. I'll discuss the rest of the outcome of the tournament in the next blog post, but I will say that there were a lot more miles involved as well as really warm temperatures! Not to mention, a surprise ending...