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7.19.2017

NorCal Revisited Part 1: Riding through the broiler.

I had a chance to escape from Los Angeles life for a while, so I jumped on a very much repaired Eleanor and headed up north to the Bay Area to recharge myself. However, to pull that off, she and I had to blast through a little bit of hell...more like 430 miles of it.

My return up to Northern California will be the first time I've done so since 2011. As I progressed through this trip, I was able to revise a few stories and memories that had stemmed back to 2007 and a previous life.

The traffic wasn't anything unexpected leaving LA on the 405 North. Temperatures on I-5 started off nice in the 70s, but as soon as I reached the Grapevine region, it had suddenly risen to the 90s, forcing me to pull out the evaporative cooling vest to supplement my Fly Racing Flux Air Mesh jacket that I had chosen to take up with me instead of my standard Aerostitch Roadcrafter jacket. To top off the set was my Camelback Rogue 70oz Hydration Pack filled with ice water. There was no logical way that I could survive the temperatures with my standard, in-town gear, so out came the hot weather accessories.

The ride up was hot and uneventful. Eleanor had no issue blasting past the trucks and the cars, maintaining constant speed the whole time. I was really happy with my shorter Cee Bailey windshield that I had replaced my old one with, and its additional thickness and weight kept it from flopping around in the gusts. I only stopped a few times to get gas, soak my cooling vest, and refill my Camelbak. However, I did take one special break in Gustine/Santa Nella, CA to Pea Soup Andersen's to revise a memory from a previous journey to the location in Buellton. Thanks to that trip, I now have officially been to both locations in California!

Hot soup during this time of the day? If it's split pea soup, hell yes!

Exterior of Pea Soup Anderson's in Santa Nella/Gustine, CA.
I made it to my first stop, Dharma Trading Company in Petaluma, CA, by around 2 PM (I had started riding around 6:30 AM.) to visit my friend and pick up the key for my lodging. She had kept a sign that I had sent to her a couple years back that was passed on to me by another friend. Considering that she works for a dye company, it was so fitting that she had this displayed prominently in her office.


I was zonked after that 430-mile ride, so I had a fried chicken sandwich at the nearby Pub Republic before heading back to the house, unloading my gear, and relaxing.


Once my friend came home from work, we walked through Downtown Petaluma and had some Mexican food. Honestly, the food was pretty forgettable as the shrimp did not have to be that salty at all. But we did stop by a 7-11 to get Lotto tickets and an It's-It ice cream treat. This is one of those regional things that I had heard of but did not get the chance to try until now. I think it will be slightly mandatory for me to have at least one of these every time I come up to visit. Besides, every good motorcycle ride has to end in ice cream. That's a very well-known unwritten rule!

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.