Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: July 2013


Insta-farkle: 1" RAM mount "built-in" for the Yamaha FJR1300

Even after six years of owning Eleanor, my 2007 Yamaha FJR1300A I still don't know everything about her. However, it does help that I work for a motorcycle store that gives me a lot of products to ponder over and experiment on her. In this thought experiment, I came up with this idea from the plethora of RAM Mounts at my disposal.

Anyway, for those of you that own a Yamaha FJR1300 (all years), have you wondered about that random hole that sits on the left side of the handlebars next to your clutch's master cylinder? Yamaha did us riders a favor for aesthetics and put a plastic plug there to hide it. But of course being my curious self, I removed it and exposed what looked like a 10mm hole with coarse threading. After looking through a few screw-on style RAM mounts, I discovered that a RAM-B-349U (RAM M10 X 1.25 Pitch Male Thread with 1" Ball) and a little blue Loctite is a perfect fit for that hole!

Sometimes I wonder if Yamaha did this on purpose.
That is disturbing and beautifully functional.
For this thought experiment, I installed my Sony Webbie HD MHS-CM1 compact high-definition camera attached to a medium double-ball arm (RAM-B-201U), pointing inward. As you can see from the photo below, the arm is hovering over the clutch's master cylinder reservoir. The camera itself is mounted on a RAM-B-202AU (RAM 2.5" Round Base (AMPs Hole Pattern), 1" Ball & 1/4"-20 Threaded Male Post for Cameras).

Side view of the mounted camera.
Front view of the mounted camera. Of course, the camera can be tilted/adjusted as needed.
With the camera adjusted to be straight when the bike is upright, this device just barely clears the windshield when the bars are at full lock. Considering this is a taller unit than a lot of the newer "action sports" cameras, there would probably be more success with a GoPro Hero, Liquid Image, Venom, Contour, etc.
Here is the full handlebar lock video test of the mounted camera.

A shot of my somewhat busy cockpit. Other accessories here include two RAM Motorcycle Brake/Clutch Reservoir Base with (2 Quantity) 1" Balls (RAM-B-309-2U), Garmin Zumo 550 with Touratech locking bracketa RAM X-Grip phone mount, RAM Drink Cup Holder (RAM-B-132BU). That brings a total of FIVE mounting options in front of me! The RAM Antenna Adapter Plate (RAM-344U) on the left behind the GPS once held my XM Radio antenna and will now hold my E-ZPass with a little industrial Velcro. 
A few final thoughts...
- Make sure the mounted devices clear the windshield and front panel at full handlebar lock. The restriction of your motorcycle's range of motion is just downright dangerous and not recommended.
- This would be a great alternative for those who only want one ball and doesn't want to install the Brake/Clutch Reservoir Base.
- Theoretically, the long arm could work if it was sticking out away from the bike, but I have not tried this with the long 6" (RAM-B-201U-C) arm option. However, both the short 2.38" (RAM-B-201U-A) and medium 3.69" (RAM-B-201U) arms will clear the windshield.
- What else can be mounted there? Perhaps a spotlight? Radar detector or SPOT GPS Tracker with an X-Grip pointed upward? Or for humor for the firearms enthusiasts out there, a cross-draw or left-handed draw pistol mount?


Day 4: Celebrating America's Birthday. In America. At the Mall of America - July 4th Tour through Minneapolis/St. Paul.

**This series of posts recap my two-week trip to Billings, MT and back from July 1-16, 2013. For the entire list of my featured rides, click here.**

This was a very involved Fourth of July!

It started at dawn. I was up by 5AM for a 6AM departure from Apple Valley, MN and a 35 mile ride with my friends to an Emma Krumbee's in Belle Plaine for a very tasty breakfast. We parted ways afterward as they headed toward South Dakota and I backtracked to Minneapolis/St. Paul to do some sightseeing before I continued north to my next stop in Minot, ND. No worries, I was going to meet up with them again in Billings for the WOW International Ride-In™.

Salmon fillet Eggs Benedict? You betcha. You'll be seeing quite a bit of food during this trip.
My first stop was downtown St. Paul, the state capital of Minnesota. As a huge Peanuts fan, heading to Charles M. Schultz's hometown is like returning to Mecca. This state has not forgotten one of its most famous sons, and sculptures of his work dot various parts of the city and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport among other locations. Of course, with giant statues combined with an empty downtown and free parking (thank you federal holiday!) come very absurd photos.


Day 3: A Gas Shortage in Iowa, near Waterloo. Couldn't escape if I wanted to.

**This series of posts recap my two-week trip to Billings, MT and back from July 1-16, 2013. For the entire list of my featured rides, click here.**
Murphy's Law: "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."
I don't know who you are, Murphy, but if I ever meet you in a parking lot, you're getting a swift kick to the nuts.

At least the first part of the day was just fine and dandy. Actually it wasn't.


In Memoriam: Bandit the Rat (2012-2013)

I will never think of Pop Tart boxes the same way again after Bandit wore one like he owned it. Matt thought the hole he had cut in the box wasn't big enough for his massive frame, but Bandit proved him wrong.

Bandit joined Fuzzy the hairless rat at the Rainbow Bridge this morning after battling a lengthy illness for more than three weeks. I applaud his tenacity and I'm glad that he was able to stick around until I returned from Montana (which I take a break in the ongoing trip recap to write this tribute to him).


Days 1 and 2: Getting off my tuchus and getting it to Peoria...

**This series of posts recap my two-week trip to Billings, MT and back from July 1-16, 2013. For the entire list of my featured rides, click here.**

When I said that I had to (get to packing) to leave for this trip in the previous post, I wasn't joking; I hadn't even started until I hit the "publish" button and stepped away from the computer. Since it's one of those typical long-distance trips that I make every so often, prep falls into a very organized system that has me up and out in about an hour or less. Additionally, Eleanor was serviced/repaired about two weeks ago so she was ready to go...I had to catch up with her.

Of course, that one hour window is pretty accurate, unless I'm completely lazy and just taking my sweet damn time, which I did, since the ride to Peoria to see my best buddy, Susy, has become more or less a routine, 450-500 mile ride that I've made many times before. It's the other place I hang my hat when I can make it westward, and for this year's cross-country trip, it's the first stop of a chain of friends I get to see along the way. Speaking of friends, Mr. Doppler Radar helped me avoid a downpour across I-80 because of the deliberate delay.

I left Eastlake, OH at 5PM and took I-80 across most of the way. This was the first time I've ridden to Peoria from there (I usually left from Columbus, OH via I-70 and I-65 out of Indianapolis). I'm glad I took cash with me because of the turnpike tolls, but other than that, it was an uneventful ride through the night that had me there and in bed by 3AM Central Time. Yep, I'm a slacker.

South Bend, IN...I think I'm the only person wearing any Cardinal and Gold in here. This is quite awkward.


The Road to the 27th Women On Wheels® International Ride-In™

It's that time of year again where Eleanor and I make the trek to this year's Women On Wheels® International Ride-In™, wherever the heck that is.

This year, it's shifted back west to Billings, MT at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center. It's a familiar venue as I had inadvertently spent a night there in July 2011 on the way back to Ohio from that year's Ride-In in San Jose, CA due to volunteer oil spill cleanup workers staying at the more budget-chain hotels.

The return there will be one of accomplishment - this is the first Ride-In™ of which I am serving as an event chair. To have this much of an impact on this storied tradition is quite an honor, and with all that's happened in the last few weeks with my job amid the planning of the details of the Ride-In™, I am relieved to be able to saddle up and get out for a while.

Due to my job's official demise this past Wednesday (yep, I finally got the axe after a number of extensions), I have made the decision to leave several days earlier than I originally planned. This will allow me to visit several friends along the way and take my time on what will become a 2000-mile one-way trip. Also, I will stop at a few points of interest that I had learned about from fellow riders and random readings on the Internet.

Some proposed points of interest:
- Gander Mountain Firearms Super Center (Peoria, IL): This is supposedly the largest gun store in the state of Illinois, which is pretty ironic because Illinois is one of a couple states *cough California cough New Jersey cough New York cough* where gun ownership and carry laws are pretty much damn near Draconian level. It's also pretty awkward to walk into a firearms store where you can't even carry your own concealed weapon in legally. Do I smell a double standard? Thanks a lot, Land of Lincoln.

- World's Largest Ball of Twine Rolled By One Man (Darwin, MN): This is one of several stringy abominations that claim to be the world's biggest ball of twine. This one's just outside of Minneapolis on my direct route and strangely enough, a bucket list item for me as I've always wanted to see it up close. Apparently, Weird Al Yankovic did something in regards to this particular twine ball. And I like Weird Al, so there you go.

- International Peace Garden (Dunseith, ND): This destination that lies right on the 49th Parallel at the top of North Dakota was created to symbolize the peaceful relationship and cooperation between the United States and Canada. This was introduced to me by a good friend that had made the motorcycle trip herself to see it many years ago. There is a cairn of native stone at the border of the two countries with the following inscription to mark this place: “To God in His Glory… We two nations dedicate this garden and pledge ourselves that as long as men shall live we will not take up arms against one another.'' Pretty cool.

Here's a general gist of the route there via Google Maps. Haven't figured out the way back, but I'll make it interesting.

View Larger Map

Here's the current itinerary for the first half of the trip:
7/1 - Depart from Eastlake, OH (Hey, that's today! I better get packing...)
7/1-7/2 - Peoria, IL
7/3 - Minneapolis, MN
7/3- 7/4 - Minneapolis, MN/Minot, ND
7/5-7/6 - Minot, ND/Dunseith, ND (International Peace Garden)/something else
7/7-7/12 - Billings, MT for the WOW International Ride-In™
7/12-? - TBA

More to come as I get on the road! Stay tuned here on or follow my Twitter or Facebook pages for random ramblings amid the full blog posts.