Saturday, January 31, 2015

Freeze out gloves review - part two of two thing

The lovely Susan actually bought me the Freeze out gloves and jacket all the way in December of last year.  If you been reading the blog with any regularity then you have an idea of why I've not written a review of them till now.

It only makes sense that one of the worst winter storms in years would push cold air into the south and Florida has "suffered" from lower than normal temperatures over the last few days.  The lows were like a fall day growing up in Pennsylvania, for example last night my phone stated it was a balmy 40 F (4.4 C).  I have to admit that I always feel silly talking about "cold weather gear" when I am riding in what is actually Autumn type weather for the rest of the North American riding public.

I suppose however it is all relative.  Humidity affects us in a lot of ways, the higher the humidity the worse it seems.  For example, as I type this the outdoor temperature is 46 F (8 C), but the humidity is 100%.  That just makes it that much harder to regulate our body temperatures.  So proper preparation is needed and I have spoken about the effects of wind chill before.  Still though riding at 10 PM is different than riding home at 2 AM.  One day on the Burgie the temperature hit 32 F (0 C).

Truth be told all I have really have not used the jacket yet (get ready for part 3 of 2), mostly because I like to wear a hooded sweatshirt so I can either tuck the hood around my neck, or wear it under my helmet so if it rains therefore protecting the back of my neck.  Plus I would rather test it during daylight hours.

Photo by cyclegear.com
Here's the good news.  The Freeze Out gloves help.  That being said I think if I wore the gloves under a heavier glove or perhaps under a gauntlet style glove they would have worked better.  My hands were cool, but not chilled.  There have been nights in the past where my hands were ice cold.

They are designed to be windproof  therefore trapping a thin layer of air between the skin and the outside of the glove.  In theory, your natural temperature should heat up the trapped air and make your hands feel warmer.  The Fox gloves that I currently use are not the best for my experiment as they let air flow through them.  

So again if I used them with my heavier "hunter style" gloves or a gauntlet style glove I think I would have had better results.  The question is however:  "Would I recommend them?"

Yes.  Yes, I would.  However there are a few things I think I should mention.

One:  The gloves fit pretty tight for a few days and they eventually stretched out a bit.  However the stitching on the side of the glove should be reinforced a bit.  It did not rip, but I've come across a few reviews where it did.  So it may eventually.

Two:  The overall feel of the glove is good.  It may take a few minutes or days to adjust to the feel of the switches and such depending on the individual.

Finally an update.  Things should be getting back to some level of Normal within a week or so.  I already have two day trips planned and should be getting back to exploring on the bike more regularly soon.  Susan is feeling better and getting stronger after her bouts at the hospital two plus weeks ago.  Many thanks to those that inquired after her.

Be well and ride safe.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Pursuing your bliss

I've been giving a lot of thought lately about THE FUTURE!

The lovely Susan is out of the hospital, beaten up but still the plucky lovely woman I fell in love with all those years ago.  Her daughter will be in town for a few weeks to take care of her while I'm required to be at work. So even though my mind is temporary at ease, it still churns with uncertainty.  I don't care for uncertainty.

I thought about these things after a long and frustrating day at work,  where on paper at least the day appeared to be a good one, but underneath it was crap-tastic.  The ride home, on familiar roads nearly empty of traffic on a warmer than normal night, should have eased a troubled mind but did little to help.  A nice glass of white wine and early to bed should have helped but did not.

A lot of these issues that plague my mind are dealing with retirement (20 - 25 years away EEK!), insurance (I'm exposed) and job related (it's a good job but certainly not what I expected to be doing at this time in my life).

I need a break.  I need to pursue what makes me happy for a bit.  I thought about some of my fellow bloggers adventures and trials as I rode.  Including the Bobscoot projectMotorcycle Philosophy, the Rounders forum and other sites.  Writing makes me happy.

Slowly but surely a nebulous idea started to form in the back of my mind the other night.  In a few days I hope to be contacting many of my fellow bloggers and riders about this idea.  Looking for input and data.  Maybe even a contribution or two...of the non monetary kind.
a postcard of a simpler time.

I'm curious to know what makes us tick.  Those of us the ride all year round, or have given up their cars to fully accept the two wheeled way of life.  Why some of us have given up the comfort of our cars to be cold, wet, hot, sunburned, windburned...and why that makes us happy.

For a brief moment in time my bike was my primary means of transport, in addition to saving some cold hard cash, it was an interesting experience.  Of course, living in Florida, riding year round is a rather easy affair.

I am curious to learn about those where riding year round is not an easy choice.  

Of course, nothing may come of this, the project may never get off the ground...but it should be fun to see if it does.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Fort King Road (being thankful)

**EDIT**  Please see the bottom half.

I had forgotten this road.

  Like many roads in Florida it is straight, unlike many roads in Florida this one cuts through hilly terrain.  It's not very high, it's peak is only 254 feet above see level making it one of the highest points in Florida.
From the E2E rally 2014

Over the last few days I've been driving this road, running between my home in Zephyrhills to the hospital in Dade City. It's a short run, only 11 miles (17.7 KM) but it feels good to look off to the side and see farmland stretched before me, or two horses galloping about.  A lone plant with golden flowers growing in a otherwise empty field.

I love how I crest a hill and look out over acres of land, how old to realize that yes; your looking at acres of land when you only a few hundred feet above the plains.

I wish I had a camera, other than my phone's, and I vow that in the coming months that is going to be my goal.  To stop and take more pictures of what catches my eye.  To capture moments before they flutter away.

Statue in Plant City.
Since the new year it's been an odd time in the Wilson home, while we are financially stronger then we have been in a long time, what really matters - our health - is low.  Those that I love are frankly not doing very well, I know I still have a cough from the flu I had in December that will not quit. It seems to be aggravated when I ride.

So for now I will be thankful for those moments, those little joyful moments of cows bellowing, of horses leaning on fences and playful light off of the many lakes in Florida.

**EDIT**  I was originally not going into the reason into the trip to the hospital, but since the lovely Susan posted about it on her Facebook page: I feel I can mention it here.  Susan has a variety of medical issues including but not limited to high blood pressure and diabetes (type 2).  Recently we learned that her knee would have to be replaced and she was placed on another medication.  Long story short the meds interacted in such a way as to have her collapse in our driveway.  She ended up in the hospital and was there till Wednesday morning.

I did not ride the bike back and forth but took the car due to a persistent cough.  

Saturday, January 10, 2015

We will pay the price, but we will not count the cost.

I suppose it had to be done.  I knew that my bike needed a tune up, after 21 thousand or so odd miles that it was the right thing to do.

I had it confirmed the day I started my bike after putting in the new battery, it sat covered for one day.  It didn't start, I moved it back rocking her gently and then tried again.  My beloved Kimmie started right up.  Vapor lock was looking more and more like the culprit, although the carburetor might be the issue as well?

In no particular order it was time to inspect, clean and adjust the:

Throttle
Carburetor
Brakes
Battery - which was brand new anyway.
Suspension
Nuts and bolts
Wheels and tires
Steering

Ninety nine percent of which I've no clue on how to do.  I had a pretty new air filter in the bike already, and I was perfectly happy to let the mechanic find, clean or freaking replace the spark plug!.

I had my regular mechanic change out the gear oil about a year ago but could not remember how long ago it was, but hey, it could not hurt right?

My normal mechanic would not be able to get to it till the 17th, a full week away.  I had a new Michelin City tire ready to go and with the coming threat of rain all this week, decided to take the bike to Cahills and have the work done there.  If I was caught out in the rain I would rather have a good rear tire on instead of the worn, slick tire I had.

Over all a bit over $250 dollars, including the tire.  The tire run me $80, the battery about $70...so about $400 in three weeks to get the lovely Kimmy up and running again.  

It's not like me to spend that amount of money on anything unless I feel it's worth it.  Or if it's going to last.  Did I mention that I was a cheap son of a bitch?

In this case I guess I felt it was.  

Craig told me it was still cheaper than same service on his Harley.  

It's the first time I've really had a big expense on any of my bikes.  A repair on my previous Burgman would have cost about a grand, which at the time I was considering paying, but the bike was replaced shortly after that.  

Sometimes we pay the price, but we can not count the cost.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

In search of the missing spark plug.

It was a brilliant day.  The weather was a very comfortable 75 degrees (23 C) and the sun was shining.  Susan's friend Craig, who rides a 10 year old Harley Road King, was going to help me with the battery change out and while we are at it, probably a oil change as well.

Afterwards we had plans for lunch and then ride the southern part of the Green Swamp trail.  Had it really been two years since I last rode the southern part of it?

I had purchased a battery from Amazon and although it was recommend that I get a gel type battery from the Kymco Forums, I went with the maintenance free chemical battery from YUASA (model # YTX14-BS) although it occurred to me after reading the instructions that I may need to buy a tender later.  Such is life.

Step one...Getting the old battery out.  Surprisingly simple.

Step two...Set up the new battery by adding sulfuric acid.  Done easily enough and included some "Breaking Bad" jokes as well.

Step three...Put the new battery in.  Again no issues.

Step four...Turn on the bike and start her up.  Nothing happens.

a)  repeat step four.  Same result.

b)  repeat step four.  Same result.

c)  repeat step four.  Same result.

Step five...Stroke beard with thoughtful "WTF" expression on face.

The bike would turn over but not start.  It wasn't the battery of that I was positive.  Which brought us to a couple of options.  The spark plug was bad or it was either a bad fuel line, fuel filter or fuel pump or all of the above.

Craig and I turned to the internet.  We figured the spark plug would be the easiest thing to fix...only we could not find the plug.  Frankly ripping off the various plastics that make up the Kymco appealed to neither of us.  We knew the info we needed was somewhere.

Craig being helpful.
I love this quote we came across in one form or another on various sites, forums and discussion boards.  Even my local mechanic who I called for help said it.  "The Kymco is a well put together bike but a bitch to work on."

Well that's encouraging.

One hour goes by, now two, plastic pieces are not slowing growing in my driveway and we still can't find the spark plug.    Instead of being frustrated I was actually enjoying myself.  It's not often that I get my hands dirty with a technical problem and my mind was engaged.  Craig is also an engineer and we were thinking along the same lines.  We still could not find that damn spark plug.

Making an educated guess, we decided to spray some starter fluid into the carb and see if that would get the bike to turn over.  We rocked it onto the center stand and opened up the carborator but before even spraying the starter fluid in Craig said:  "Try starting it now...just for shit and giggles."

VROOM!!!!   Over and over again she started right up.

"Vapor lock?" I said.  "Vapor lock." He said.

It seems like the local explanation.  It would explain why the bike would not start at all during the cooler temperatures of December.  Why I had the intermittent stalling while sitting in traffic.  Why the bike would suddenly start up after being moved about or rocked onto the center stand.  Why we were having such a hard time starting it.

The good news is that it's a relative easy issue to fix.  I am still going to take the bike in to the local mechanics had have them due a full tune-up.  Let them find the damn spark plug (which I found out is accessible by removing the plastic from the center hump and the use of a 10 mm ratchet on two or three extensions).

It started after that several times without issue.  I did get a chance to ride it as I had a change in plans and had to pick up a friend from the airport which was totally unexpected.  It sat all day, then at 8 PM tonight...started right up.

I know I needed a new back tire, so I ordered that and will wait till it's in before taking the bike to be serviced.  Might was well get it all done at once, including the oil change.  I had been putting off a tire due to no good reason.  Now I had no excuse.  I decided to go with the Michelin City Grips because I've heard good things about them on the forums.  Now lets see if they are worth it.

I'm going to ride tomorrow and the next day, the bike should be going into the shop on Thursday.  This is getting to be an expensive experience.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year end wrap up


It's becoming a little tradition here that I look back over the past year and review some of the highlights and the low moments.

First the highlights of 2014:


Ummm......

Well there was the....no.

How about?   No, not that either.

I did manage to go home in April to my beloved City of Bridges but even that was a bittersweet time for me, as I realized just how much things change.

In all honestly the year was not that bad.  Sue and I did get to go to the Pumpkin Festival which ended up being one of the better memories of the year for us.

I made some new friends thanks to a slow ride, but sadly plans to ride with them again have fallen through, hopefully in the new year I'll be able to.  I'm sure I'll be able to.

Overall though the past year just seems to be wash.  I learned some lessons and had some success, at the same time the failures and mistakes I made cost me.  I'm spending the night inside, cleaning up and doing laundry.  It feels right in a way, to end the year by organizing and tidying up.  

The end of the year mileage on Kimmy was 21,736 miles (34,981 KM).  So in twelve months I only managed 6,534 miles (10,515 KM).  I know that is more miles than a lot of riders put on in year.  Still though it's about half of what I normally do.  Most of it was just commuting as well.

Well it's a new year, new challenges and adventures await.  I'm not promising anything, but I think the year is full of promise.

Happy New Year my friends.  May it be a safe one.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Holidays and an update....

First Off....Happy Holiday's from the Wilson household.  We wish you and yours a safe and happy New Year


Now on with this weeks exciting adventure:

I thought Kimmie was dead.  She had been sitting for two weeks or so, absolutely not turning over until I had to move some boxes into the nearby shed, so I had to move the bike.  Guess who turned over.

I took her out Saturday afternoon, it was a beautiful day in the low 70's (20's C), and she run fine.  The only issue I had is a persistent hacking cough which I was afraid I would aggravate if I rode to long, to far.  So I put a little under 50 miles on her and called it a day.  Sunday it rained all day, so I didn't do any riding at all.

The new battery arrived late Saturday afternoon but due to other commitments it seemed unlikely that I would be able to install it till after the Christmas holiday. Not that I expected to get that much riding in between now and the end of the year.  Partially due to weather, for example we were expecting a 90% chance of rain as I sit and type this.  Partially due to whatever illness I had still lingered in my system.

Still though I was looking forward to getting the battery installed and moving down the road.  2014 generally speaking was a long and hard year for me.  The new battery, a new heart for Kimmie represented new opportunity...and a new mechanical skill to put under my proverbial tool belt.  The next job will most likely be the CVT belt.

I did decide however to try and ride her as much as I could between now and the new year.  I'm not sure how many miles I put on her in 2014, all I do know is that they were not enough.  I will never understand how someone can let a bike sit, and this year it seemed that Kimmie did a lot of sitting.

So yes, I'm looking forward to next year.  I'm looking forward to putting a few more thousands of miles on Kimmie.  I'm looking for adventure...in what ever comes our way.  :P