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6.01.2017

How long does a windshield last on a Yamaha FJR1300?

The answer...about ten years, 190,000 miles, or until I can get around to replacing plastic that was probably on its way out at least 20k miles ago. I don't normally look through my windshield so it was something that I didn't care about for a while.

The original windshield, a Yamaha OEM extended touring version (4" taller, 1/2" wider) made by National Cycle, has been on Eleanor for all but 1200 miles of its life. That's 190k of every possible weather condition short of an absolute blizzard, road salt, bugs of every size, dirt, soot, and all sorts of crap hitting it at any given point on the road. By the end of its life, the plastic had yellowed, especially at the top, and there was a lot of distortion/fogging on it. Yeah, it was time for it to go.

Its replacement is a barely-used, Cee Bailey's 2" above standard OEM windshield taken off of a 2006 Yamaha FJR1300. If you haven't tried a Cee Bailey's windshield, I would suggest giving this company's products a shot. I could feel the quality of this aircraft plastic in my hands as I was installing it.

As for installing it, it's relatively straightforward. There are two bolts at the bottom of the windshield that have to be removed using a 3mm Allen key. That removes the decorative/protective cover that hides the plastic Phillips head screws that keep the shield in place on top of rubber bumpers. The entire process took less than ten minutes to do, and that was me taking my time. And you can do it without having to electronically raise the windshield.

In terms of image, replacing that plastic made my bike look several years younger again. I didn't realize how much of a visual difference it would make to Eleanor, and I'm really glad I did it when I was able to do so. I guess it's the same effect as getting a new pair of eyeglasses. Also, using a windshield that's 2" shorter than what I've been using has increased airflow and has made the bike feel a bit more aerodynamic than I've been used to.

Now that the major electrical issues (failing relays) have been attended to, I can focus on more of the other comfort items on the bike. She's still in the running toward 200k miles barring anything catastrophic so I'll make sure she'll look good on the way there. Perhaps I'll go back to doing some long-distance weekend rides for old times sake. Yes. That would be amazing.

5.29.2017

Introducing...Pam the 2011 Kawasaki Versys 650!

So, with Eleanor having traveled back and forth to the "spa" (a.k.a. sick bay, personal garage at the dealership, etc. etc.) with the ongoing headlight issue that has haunted her for the last year and change, I found some room in the budget back in April to go pick up a little sidekick motorcycle to add to my vehicle fleet. I was looking for something that was utilitarian and not meant to replace my 2007 Yamaha FJR1300 by any means of the imagination. I thought about bikes that I had previously test ridden that were affordable and fit my personal needs, and one of the first that came to mind was the Kawasaki Versys 650.

4.27.2017

Happy 10th Birthday, Eleanor!

This is how Eleanor, my 2007 Yamaha FJR1300AWC and my long-time companion on many a journey, started her 10th year of operation...by not operating very well at all! (Cameo by my cousin who took me home after my tow.)

Eleanor officially turned ten years old on April 26, 2017. This is a testament to both the stubbornness and longevity of this bike and its owner. However, the last couple years have slowed her down a bit as the combination of the road salt of the Midwest, mileage, and having endured every rideable weather condition imaginable in all that time caught up with her. Her electrical connections have required some rehab and cleaning, and every now and then, those issues reappear and deem her unsafe to operate on the street.


Case in point, her headlights stopped functioning on April 25 as I was leaving from my class that night at CSULB. I made it down one exit on the 405 North before I pulled off and hung out at a gas station and a donut shop for about three hours while I waited for a tow truck to transport Eleanor back to Pacific Motorsports in Harbor City. Allow me to explain my difficulties.


Now, I will say that this long span of time being stranded did allow me to broadcast a couple Facebook Live posts and reconnect with a few friends online that I hadn't spoken to in years. When the first tow truck arrived an hour later, I had to decline it because the person showed up without a flatbed vehicle. The second driver, Matt from SoCal Moto Transport, brought the appropriate equipment and vehicle and performed a flawless transport of both her and me back to Harbor City.

I referenced some posts from this time last year, and not surprisingly, Eleanor encountered the exact same issue with her headlights and spent her 9th birthday at the dealership as well. It's pretty obvious that I need a more permanent solution to this repair. However, that engine still runs as strong as the day I bought her from Long Beach Yamaha (now Del Amo Motorsports Long Beach) ten years ago.


I wonder if Eleanor has just become a diva in her old age or likes facials, but regardless of the reason, it's been a bit inconvenient to have her unavailable to use for my random video shoots or for those moments when I want to go far but reduce the amount of dead dinosaur juice that I want to burn. My solution, a new addition to my vehicle fleet, will be introduced in another post. I'm still unwilling to give up on my old friend, but my very busy life meant that some issues had to be rectified. I'm very confident that she'll be back to somewhat normal; I just have to wait a little longer.

Enjoy your facial, you silly bike.

1.25.2017

GUEST POST: Tips for Riding in Hot and Humid Conditions (Jason Mueller)

All right, here's another guest post about riding your motorcycle through hot and humid conditions.

If you're a motorcycle enthusiast and are interested in becoming a guest blogger on here, fill out the inquiry form on the right side of the page and I'll get back to you.

Disclaimer: Any opinions expressed within this blog post are those of the author and not necessarily held by Two-Wheeled Tourist.

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Whether you are a seasoned rider or a beginner to the great two-wheeled adventure, if you plan on riding in a hot climate, you will need to think about staying cool during your ride. You have most likely already searched for, and found, the perfect riding jacket, boots, gloves and helmet, but have you considered how to be comfortable during a hot and humid ride? When you are on the motorcycle, heat doesn’t just shine down from the sunshine above, but it can be brutal as it flows straight up from the pavement you are cruising on as you head down the highway.

Bikers who live in hot climates or those that may be headed to a warmer climate from the north this winter will want to consider some of the best ways to take on the heat from riding on a hot and humid day.

Hydrate Often
Most of us know to stop for a good meal along the way or for quick water breaks when it is hot outside, but there are other ways to stay hydrated when riding as well. One thing you can do is wear clothing that helps keep your body hydrated during a long, hot ride. Wearing gear that is well ventilated will help keep your skin cool and your body temperature down.  Another thing to consider is wearing a backpack with a built-in water reservoir to drink while riding. This will help you stay hydrated without needing to make frequent stops for water along the way.

Layer Up
Chances are, when the ride begins it may be early morning or you may be in a colder climate. Once the sun comes up or the day progresses and begins to heat up, you are going to want to shed some clothing to stay cool. Be sure to layer up when you get dressed for the ride so you will be able to take items off one at a time to start cooling down. Make sure your clothing is adequate for the ride and that you don’t wear anything ultra-thin for safety reasons. Even when it’s hot and humid outside, you need to wear proper riding gear to stay safe.

Meshing Around
Mesh vests, gloves and even shirts for men are a way to keep cool during a long ride in the heat. There are many mesh vests, shirts and other outerwear that are made with fabric that help withstand the elements while keeping the skin cooler in the heat. Mesh gloves will keep your hands protected while staying cool. While come may say that worrying too much about the clothing you wear is a little narcissistic, it is definitely necessary to plan your wardrobe when you take a ride whether the weather is hot and humid, wet, cold or even windy.

Plan Your Route
Hopping on your bike and taking off down the highway sounds like a fun thing to do, but taking time to carefully plan your route will save you time and help prevent you from becoming lost or worse, finding yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere with no gas and no filling station in sight. Finding yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere when it is hot and humid outside can not only be inconvenient, but it can also become very dangerous if you have no water or way to cool down.

Contact
Whether you are taking a quick ride to the store, or you will be traveling a hundred miles a day, be sure to take your cell phone so you have a way to contact someone in case there is an emergency on the road.  You also may need to have your cell phone with you if you run into a situation where you need to have the motorcycle shipped due to mechanical issues in the heat or if a collision occurs.

While many riders who have been riding for many years may already know the best clothing to wear and which ways work well to stay hydrated and cool during the heat, this is not true for all riders. Not everyone lives in hot climates and if you are coming from a cooler area, knowing the signs of a heat stroke and taking precautions to keep your body cool inside and out will go a long way to beating the heat and having a great ride. If you have taken the right precautions and feel ready to ride, be sure to keep safe riding at the top of your list of things to do during the ride, and above all else, hop on that bike and have some fun!

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About the Author
Jason grew up riding dirt bikes and then turned to road riding.  He is currently living in Costa Rica where he works online for his company, A-1 Auto Transport.