Tag Archives: Motorcycles

Alive

Howdy,

Yes, I’m still alive, even though I’ve been out riding my bike for the last few weeks. It actually makes me feel more alive. Yes,  I know it’s a terrible cliché, but it’s true nonetheless.

Been making a few mods as well:

  • Modifying and attaching the mounting thingy to the new saddlebags. They now support more weight and are easy to attach and remove, which is great for going shopping since they easily hold a full grocery bag each, and I don’t need to have them on all the time like the last ones. Should make longer road trips a whole lot easier as well, as I don’t have to unpack them at each sleepover, I can just pop them off.
  • Reversed the passenger pegs to move them forward and outward to not interfere with the previously mentioned bags. The excellent guide on Volusia Riders forum was a great help, even though I used shorter bolts and spacers than described in the guide to avoid long term twisting of the frame mount. M thought that her riding position improved a lot with this and made riding easier on her back, so two good things in one!
  • A custom made brake fluid reservoir lid. Pictures may come later.

I’ve also bought a new, chromed horn that I plan to install next week as the current one is on the fritz.

More things have happened in my life, but I’ll keep that private for now.

Catch you on the flipside.

A package arrived today. Or actually, it didn’t.

I got a package today, stuff I ordered about a week ago as a birthday present to myself. Motorcycle stuff from Louis.de (good online store).

But first, let me tell you about the Swedish postal system and how complicated it can be to get a package, especially if you order stuff from abroad.
Here is what I learned today from a disgruntled (but very helpful) employee at Posten‘s (The main Swedish postal service) helpdesk:
What most people doesn’t know is that the mail part and the parcel/logistics part of Posten are two separate companies. They do have the same name, logotype, homepage etc., but they are in fact separate. And more, they are rivals. Even though they seem to work together, they apparently don’t. Or, at least not very well.

Example from today; I awaited a large package, around 1 x 1 x 0.5 meter, arriving from Germany. I followed the current location of the package online, using my tracking ID at Posten’s common homepage. When I checked the status during lunch, I could see a new note from 11:49, saying “The recipient’s door code is not stated on the package. The postal item is notified”.

Question 1: Why didn’t the guy delivering the package have the door code, when his colleague that delivers letters and smaller parcels every day have it?

Answer: Because they are rivals, and rivals don’t share information. The competition between the two parts of Posten is so stiff, despite the fact that they work under the same umbrella, that they will not even share the door codes, allowing the delivery men to enter the apartment building.

Question 2: So if the door code is not known on the first round, when will they actually deliver the package?

Answer: They won’t. It’s not possible to schedule a new delivery time, even if you provide them with the door code and stay home for an entire day. Instead, you are forced to go to Posten’s company center, 6.6 kilometers away. And 1 kilometer to the closest train station. During business hours. So if you don’t have a car and can leave work early, you are pretty much screwed. Unless you want to carry a big ass package a kilometer, then try to get it aboard the train, followed by the walk home. Luckily, I could get away from work earlier today and have a brother that could give me a ride.

But seriously, do they really expect people to be home in the middle of the day (and they will not inform you before which day or time they are coming)? And do they expect that there won’t be any door codes in apartment buildings whatsoever? Even so, they have probably made a number of deliveries to this very address this year alone, and should have the code by now. They didn’t even bother to call, even to just get the code. If they would, the package could actually have been delivered since M was in fact at home that time today.

All of this for a package that you actually paid for to be delivered to your doorstep.

Seriously Posten, get your shit together.

Ok, let’s move on. Oh yeah, what was in the package?

First off was a set of saddle bags, about twice the size of my previous bags (27 liters each). They are also better looking and more practical, allowing you to take them off without unscrewing the passenger seat. They should be more water proof as well, but just in case I also bought a set of rain covers for them that can be rigged as shower caps. Or actually, I bought two sets. I thought they were sold one by one, but them came in pairs so now I have a spare pair.

Since the saddle bags are removable, I also bought a matching 3 liter tool roll. I generally don’t like the looks of them, but this was pretty clean. I intend to use it only when the saddle bags are off, to keep a first aid kit and some emergency items like tire spray and cable ties in. To go with that roll, I also bought a water proof inner bag in roughly the same size. Wouldn’t want the first aid kit to go bad.

Additionally, I  bought a lightweight nylon cover for the entire bike to protect it from the weathers when it’s standing outdoors.

Aside from the luggage and covers, I also bought a new set of mini bullet turn indicators since the original ones on my bike are huge and not very stylish.

The last items were some valve caps with built-in pressure monitors. If the tire pressure drops with 0.2 – 0.3 bar, the indicator in the valve cap turns from green to red. I had a slight pressure drop in the front tire last summer, so this should be useful as I won’t have to stop by gas stations every 500 kilometers to check the pressure – a glance at the indicator should be enough.

On a side note, I have started to assemble my roadtrip music album for 2011. I did this last year, and had a great selection of around 130 songs that went great on the road and got good feedback from others who received a copy. I might write a separate post about that later.

All I need now is for spring to come.

Candy for my bike

Work in Italy

The last few weeks has been quite hectic for me. Being involved in several top-priority projects coupled with preparations for next week has meant a lot of overtime at work, and too little sleep. But the bulk of the projects is over (at least for now), and I can hopefully get back to a normal speed soon.

Tomorrow I’m flying to Rome, Italy for a week. I’m going to hold a course there in one of my areas of expertise for a group of people at one of our big partners. I’m a bit nervous as I have never done anything like this before. Sure, I’ve held small workshops for a handful of people  before, but that was always in or own office and never more than a day long.

Well, at least it’s warmer in Rome than in Stockholm right now. I put away the motorcycle for winter storage the other day due to the cold. Partly because I can’t ride more than an 45 minutes or so without starting to get cold (especially the hands), but mostly because it’s dangerous. Frost in the mornings and fallen leaves on the road is not a good combination when you’re on two wheels. I hope the winter is short this year so that I can bring out the bike early.

Now, time to start packing.

4000 kilometers in 3 weeks

So, what have happened since last time?
I’ve been riding. And riding. And riding.

First off, two days after passing my driver’s exam and buying my bike, I went upp to Strömsund in Swedish Jämtland, around 700 km from Stockholm by bike. From there we went to Finnish Lapland by car, to a town called Ranua about 80 km from Rovaniemi. After close to a week we went back, and I took the bike back to Stockholm via a night in Mora.
Back home I took a few days to wash, repack and plan,and also to install my first modification to the bike: A 12 volt power outlet (cigarette plug) hidden inside the toolbox compartment. This is in turn connected to a relay that I installed, so that it only gives power when the bike is started to prevent the battery from discharging in case I forget the power adapter to the GPS plugged in.

Anyway, me and three friends went back on the road again.
First stop was Tibro, where I lived between I was 5 and 16. Of course we went straight to Tibro Bar & Grill, and then off to our respective friends and family to sleep (3 of 4 were raised in Tibro). The next day it was more or less pouring down the entire time, so we took the shorter route to Hökerum, Ulricehamn, where my parents live. After spending the evening and night there we went on to Linköping, still in the rain. We split up again, and met the next day, when the sun finally came through. Onward to Västervik where MC-dagarna, the largest bike event in northern Europe, was held. Lots and lots of awesome bikes, both at the exhibition and in the camping area. We camped there for a night, and then the rest of the guys went back to Stockholm while I continued on to Öland where my parents had rented a house. After 5 days there, I went back to spend another night in Linköping before going back to Stockholm. Besides that I’ve been cruising around a lot in between, both in Stockholm and on Öland.

Pictures have been requested so pictures are produced:

Best day of the year

Today was a fantastic day for me.

First, I passed the motorcycle driving exam, which means I now have a license for driving the biggest and heaviest bikes. I was nervous but managed to keep quite calm even though my heart was beating at 180 all the time. The examinator simply said something like “well, that was full points on everything”, and it took a second or two for me to understand that I actually passed.

When I got home I called on an ad for the previously mentioned bike, Suzuki VL 800 Volusia from 2001 (or Suzuki Intruder Volusia as it was called that particular year even though it has very little do do with the rest of the Intruder family). Two hours later my friend Alex came and picked me up on his new Harley Davidson Night Train, and we went to see the bike in the ad.

Since I had only been riding sport/sport-touring bikes before, it was quite a big change to be seated as low as on the Volusia, and the wide handlebar took some getting used to as well. But I loved it. And the sound! After a 10 minute test run I came back with a grin on my face. “I’ll take it. Definitely.”

Papers were signed, money were exchanged and I was on my way home with my brand new bike.

The seller was kind enough to follow me home in a car so that I could get the original exhaust pipes with me, and after a short stop at home to drop them off, we went out riding again. We met up with Lasse and his girlfriend, and we took a long nice trip to Ekerö. After an extremely nice swim we went back, I think we were gone for about 3 hours total.

Couldn’t be happier with the license, the bike and everything. Awesome day.

Front to back: Suzuki Volusia, HD Night Train, Yamaha Warrior
My Suzuki Volusia (closest). The two smaller bikes in the background are a Harley Davidson Night Train (middle) and a Yamaha Warrior (back).

Second try

Tomorrow it is time again for the motorcycle exam. I think I’m even more nervous this time, partly because my vacation starts next week and it is almost entirely planned based on bike driving. So if I fail again I really don’t know what to do this summer. Exam times are still hard to come buy, so I might not get another try until mid August or September.

I’m way to wound up to sleep now, but I’ve got to try. Big day tomorrow.

Marauder out, Volusia in

I’ve been pretty much settled for buying a Suzuki Marauder 800 when I get my motorcycle driver’s license (final exam – again – in 11 days).

However, after reading a bunch of reviews, particularly one at Motorcycle Cruiser, I’ve decided to  change my goals to a Suzuki Volusia 800 instead, with the Honda A.C.E Shadow 750 as a secondary choice.

The Volusia does not only have a much better comfort, both for driver and passenger, it also handles better, is stronger and has less vibrations. The fact that it has a shaft drive instead of a chain also means that I’ll save about 1500SEK a year in maintenance cost. It is however more expensive to buy, but in the long run you will gain on it.

I am now up to about twice the price of a bike since what I planned this spring, and I’m not sure if I can afford a Volusia at the moment. A third option is to buy a smaller Kawasaki EN 500 for about 20’000 SEK less this season, and aim for a Volusia or similar next year instead. That would also give me time to get more comfortable with the Stockholm traffic, and damaging the bike wouldn’t cost as much.

Anyway, first I have to pass the exam. :p

Suzuki Volusia 800

Nervous

Tomorrow I have the final exam for my motorcycle driver’s license. Would gladly have done it much earlier, but the schedule both for my driving school and the transport agency has been full, so few slots for both practice and examination.

I think (and hope) that I’ll pass, I’m fairly confident in handling the bike, but I’m really afraid I will miss something simple and fail due to that. Like missing a speed limit sign or forgetting to check the blind spot when changing lanes.

Today I went shopping for almost 9k SEK – Motorcycle gear is expensive!

At first I was going to get Condura/Gore Tex or some other water resistant fabric, but none of the clothes fit well due to my build. Or actually, one jacket fit really well, but it wasn’t water resistant and I couldn’t find any matching pants. So I decided to step up in price a bit and go for leather. Even though it’s not very water resistant and can be really warm in the summer, it’s both safe and very good looking. Plus, it matches the kind of bike I’m going to ride much better!

When I got home I called on the bike I’ve been setting my mind on, a Suzuki VZ800 Marauder from 1998. It was still available, and if I pass the license exam I will go and hopefully pick it up tomorrow.

So two outcomes are possible:

1. I fail the exam and have to wait another month or so for a new try.

2. I come home in the afternoon, riding my new bike in my brand new clothes.

I’ll let you know.