Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

For those familiar with Harley touring models, you know that in 2010 Harley Davidson abandoned the large taillight in favor of two dual purpose brake lights and turn signals. Although it adds to the sleek look of the bike, it really allows for poor visibility to other motorists during daytime riding, especially on sunny days.  I have been told countless times by those I ride with that my bike is virtually invisible when I”m braking – especially in direct sunlight.

After doing numerous cosmetic and “performance” upgrades to my dearest Beatrice, I decided it was finally time to do something that could potentially save us both.

I ordered the Custom Dynamics Dynamic Ringz, LED brake lights, and load stabilizer online for $172 shipped. They arrived within eight days, and they took all of 30 minutes to install.

Installation in the front and rear is as easy as popping off the existing lens covers, unscrewing and removing the halogen unit, and inserting the LED unit. Pop the lens cover back on. Many choose, at this point, to run smoked lenses on all four lights. I chose to install clears in the front, and I kept my red lenses in the rear. I felt it was a better aesthetic fit for the bike. A flat head screwdriver is all you need to complete this task.

The load stabilizer was the longest and trickiest part of the install. The load stabilizer mounts underneath the bike’s side panel and connects into the main wiring harness. Positive and negative terminals also attach to the bike’s battery. Truthfully, this wasn’t an arduous process – once I located the main wiring harness. Connecting to the battery requires nothing more than a screwdriver, just do me a favor and make sure you properly feed your wires underneath the frame otherwise the seat will be resting on them. As you can surmise, I had to reroute my wires because I screwed it up the first time.  Syncing the lights and stabilizer are simple. A few left blinks followed by 10 or so right blinks, back to the left and done.

Front: The Dynamic Ringz convert the stock halogen turn signals to full time LED running lights and, when activated, amber turn signals. They have 48 LEDs on each insert. The outer ring of 24 are white, and the inner 24 are amber. The outer white ring is very noticeable to oncoming traffic (see pic below). At night, it does not light up the road too much more, as the LEDs are aimed straight out, but they do reflect brightly off of any reflective surface – for example stop signs, road paint, and the eyes of animals watching from the side of the road.

Rear: The improvement from my stock tail lights was remarkable. In direct sunlight daylight, the rear running lights are brighter than the stock brake lights. And the brake lights, when activated, are extremely hard to miss.  One of the first upgrades I made when I first bought the bike was the tri-bar upgrade, which converted the tri-bar on the bottom of the fender to running and brake lights. These new Custom Dynamics drown out the tri-bar brake light entirely. The photos below show the Custom Dynamics LEDs as running lights on the left, and as brake lights on the right.

Rear OneRear Two

The Verdict: This upgrade is a must for anyone concerned with increasing their likelihood of being seen by other drivers on the road in all riding conditions at all times of the day – the bike is highly visible from the front and the rear. It is a relatively low cost upgrade which requires minimal mechanical skills to complete.

Visit Custom Dynamics on the web.

 

Up Next: Harley Daymaker Reflector

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

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Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

For the last year and half or so, I have read, heard, and seen countless gripes about buffeting on a Street Glide. And for the last year and a half or so, I swore to myself and others that I did not feel any buffeting. Do I feel wind hitting me in the face as I look over a 4 inch windshield? Absolutely. Did it shake my head or make my ride uncomfortable and dangerous? Absolutely not. But in the back of my mind I always wondered how a new windshield would affect my ride.

The Design

Klock Werks owner, Brian Klock, designed the Flare windshield to help channel the air around the rider, while applying a downward pressure on the front of the fairing to provide better handling. Rather than write the information, here is a video by shield creator Brian Klock talking about the Flare design:


I have always put function over form, and the flare windshield is no different. Although I am not a huge fan of it’s looks, if it delivers on its promises, I can easily live and ride with the curvy design.

The Ride

In view of last Friday’s 450 mile run, I figured it was at last time to take advantage of the local dealership’s test ride program. I headed down to TSI Harley Davidson in Ellington and grabbed myself the Klock Werks 6.5 flare windshield. I brought it home, quickly swapped out shields (the three screw process is as easy as it gets), and immediately sat on the bike. As a tall rider, the 4 inch stock windshield is not in my line of sight at all. My initial thought when I mounted the bike was that the extra 2.5 inches were going to affect my visibility.

The first part of the trip was all highway riding and it took me all of 30 seconds to get used to the new windshield. I found the windshield worked well to limit the wind noise blowing by my ears, however it did little to reduce the wind that was hitting me behind the fairing. I was actually playing my stereo at 3/4 the volume I normally had it set to. And my initial claim was that I didn’t like it, but I would not change it out and I would give it a fair shake. 450 miles later, it had grown on me, but it wasn’t ride changing.

The Flare 6.5

Saturday morning I swapped the 6.5 for the 8.5 figuring the 8.5 might improve the areas the 6.5 was lacking. Much to my surprise, the 8.5 was intolerable at best. On the backroads and the highway I had wind hitting me from all directions behind the windshield and fairing. Head buffeting was at its highest I’ve ever experienced, making the ride increasingly more uncomfortable. As an aside, for those riders that utilize the 3 pouch windshield bags, the Flare 8.5 is designed to accomodate them.

The Flare 8.5

One thing I did not get to try with either of the windshields was 2-up riding. A common complaint from many riders seems to be the wind flow on the passenger. Truthfully, I have never heard this from passengers, only salesmen. Although I wanted to prove the truth or debunk the myth, the opportunity just did not present itself. Then again, my wife always says she gets no airflow sitting behind me, and I can’t imagine a windshield would change that.

The Verdict: Not Love at First Ride

If forced to buy a brand new windshield today, the 8.5 Flare is not the way to go for me. I found the air to be swirling behind the windshield, and perhaps due to the height of the air channels on the shield, I felt more buffeting from the sides out of the 8.5 than I did running both the 6.5 and the Street Glide stock shields.

This 6.5 inch screen was nice, but it was not love at first ride. Perhaps I was foolish to think all the wind would disappear entirely. And perhaps I was being even more foolish to think I wanted the wind to disappear entirely. The day of riding was in the upper 80’s and lower 90’s and I was baking on the bike. One thing I noticed, the swirling wind behind the fairing definitely wasn’t the same as the clean and cooling wind that hits you directly in the chest.

If the 6.5 was my full time windshield, I might learn to appreciate its benefits, but it did not provide me with enough of a positive change in wind feel to warrant the $150+ price tag at Amazon (the seemingly cheapest retailer at the moment including free shipping – eBay does offer it cheaper if you choose to go that route). I expect a major change for the price paid, and if the positives of the KW6.5 are few, then that may be money better spent else where.  I will not rule out the 6.5 entirely however, as I plan to take it out for a second ride at some point this summer.

In the future I also plan to try the Harley Wind Splitter, and would like to test the Long Ride Shields Ultra if I can find one (currently they don’t offer test rides), but for now, stock is the way to go.

To learn more about the Klock Werks line, please check out their website kustombaggers.com.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

This is probably one of the hardest riding related pieces I’ve ever tried to write. And why is that? Quite simply, Melisa and I packed so much into 3 days of riding that I wouldn’t even know where to begin! It started off as a quick getaway… a nice ride, time at the beach, and lobster dinners. And we kept adding to the list from there. The best way to format it is to try day-by-day…

Wednesday August 22, 2012:

We left CT after 9:00 am with the hopes of making it up to Seacoast Harley Davidson between 12 and 2 – I had a service appointment to install the Boom! Audio speakers on my bike. And this wouldn’t have been a problem had our stomachs not gotten in the way. On our previous trip to Maine with Todd and Kim (see A New England Weekend series of posts dates July 28-31) we passed a restaurant on RT 1 in New Hampshire that touted the best lobster roll in New England. Seeing as the point of the July trip was to try “the best lobster roll” Todd and Kim had ever eaten, it was safe to say The Beach Plum (the restaurant on RT 1) would become the brunt of many jokes that weekend. But fast forward a few weeks. On my weekend trip to Vermont, The Beach Plum came up again in conversation; this time from Jeremy, a resident of the area. He swore they were the best. If what he was saying was true, Melisa and I weren’t about to let the “best lobster roll in New England” go untasted. And of course, we were stopping for lunch before our service appointment!

According to Todd, “Served with cheap potato chips……I think not.” According to Melisa, it was way better than Day’s.

Following lunch and the subsequent (late) installation of my speakers, we made our way up RT 1 for a whopping 10 minutes until we stopped in Portsmouth – I have been meaning to stop in at The Portsmouth Brewery for quite some time, and I was hoping, although a long shot, that Kate the Great would be on tap at the brewery. Well, it wasn’t. And worse, I found out Kate may never be brewed again [what the article doesn’t mention is that although Ted Mot owns the recipe, The Portsmouth Brewery supposedly retains the rights to the name]. Well, without Kate on tap, we ordered up two beers, which were average at best, and ordered up a plate of nachos. They were definitely above average… see what I mean?

Oh my god… soooo cheesy!!!

After filling ourselves up at The Beach Plum, and then topping off our tanks at Portsmouth Brewing Co., we were ready to make our way into Maine and discuss our dinner options. But first, we had to check in at The Lodge at Kennebunk, unpack, take a dip in the pool, cruise the town a bit, and then, and only then, were we finally able to eat again. As self-proclaimed creatures of habit, we like to stay where we’ve stayed in the past, and we like to eat where we’ve eaten in the past. Tried and tested by me is always better than recommended by another. The Pilot House is a great example. Personally, I can’t stand the places that are touted as “the place where the locals go when they want…” in this case, a lobster meal.” Truthfully, the locals aren’t going anywhere. They are buying their whole lobsters for $2 off a boat and cooking them up at home. But alas, I digress. The Pilot House is not a tourist trap in the expensive sense of the word.  We have learned through many a meal there, that their food is very good, and reasonably priced. You can usually get a lobster dinner around $10 (the cole slaw is worth the price alone, it is sooooooo good!), and if you read all the signs, you can often add a steak to it for a buck more. Cans of PBR are cheap. The outside dining is more like eating in a shipyard than a quaint Maine harbor, and because it’s never as busy as the true tourist traps next door, it feels like you’ve made the right decision choosing a place to eat. And it tastes that way too. Just keep your motorcycle maps off the table, and no one will ever know you’re not from around there (except of course, if you order the lobster dinner).

Finally, after a long, hard day of riding, and a day of constant eating, it was off to bed.

Thursday August 24, 2012:

What should have been a nice relaxing 30 mile ride south into York, turned into a 200 mile jaunt that brought us north for more lobster rolls, then south into York.

Prior to this trip, we had watched Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America on the Travel Channel. One of the restaurants he highlighted for the New England area was in Portsmouth New Hampshire (a crab-filled grilled cheese), but we weren’t heading there again. One of the other sandwiches was a zesty lemon lobster roll in Naples, Maine at a restaurant called The Galley. When debating whether or not we wanted to try it, we concluded, “why wouldn’t we?” And so, we did.

Famously, President Bush (George H.) owns a family home in Kennebunkport, ME. We saw it for the first time on a trip two summers ago, and we couldn’t help but stop again. We were relieved to see the family boat docked safely in the bay after their previous mishap. There is something mystifying about watching Secret Service patrol the premises on golf carts and a fleet of black government vehicles in the driveway. But more so, I like to stare at the home and daydream. I just cannot fathom what it would be like to live in a house with such a stunning view of the water.

The Bush Compound (Kennebunkport, ME)

Melisa, moments before diving in the bay and cruising away on the Bush boat.

Our trip north took us through the Sebago Lakes area, which was pretty cool to see and ride. We arrived at The Galley around lunch time. We ordered up some of Baxter Brewing Company’s Stowaway IPA, and three lobster rolls… an original, a chicken caesar, and a zesty lemon (thanks to recommendation of Adam Richman… yeah yeah, I know, just earlier I was talking about recommendations as opposed to tried and tested… yada yada). They did not disappoint, however, I am hard pressed to call the flavored rolls better than any traditional lobster roll, simply on the basis of added flavor alone. Don’t get me wrong, they are very good, in fact, they were great. But it’s not like judging similar things… it’s like comparing a hot dog with mustard to a hot dog with chili, cheese, and bacon.

After Naples, and before York, we stopped in Bath. The shipyard was releasing 2nd shift at 4:00… quite a sight it was to see the workers waiting at the gates then running to their cars, and peeling out of the driveway as soon as the whistle blew. I have never seen anyone so happy to leave work. Once the whistle blows they are on personal time, so why stick around?!? On the way down to York we hit the congested Route 1, then jumped onto the highway slab to make it quick and less painful.

Picture it, Cape Neddick and the Nubble Lighthouse on a Thursday evening in August. People everywhere. Barely a spot to park the bike. Tourists taking pictures. Tourists eating seafood dinners and lobster rolls from the neighboring shack. We were those tourists, but we weren’t eating anything. Looking forward to dinner I was, but we still had a hotel to get to, and a pool to swim in… but alas, we took our pictures, we climbed all over the rocks. We read our compass readings.  All in a 45 minute stop! And all in a 45 minute stop we weren’t expecting to make but I followed the GPS wrong. Funny how that stuff happens.

Time for dinner after finally making it to the hotel and grabbing a quick swim. Of course, as tourists, we wanted more lobster. Lobster, lobster, lobster – all I could think of was lobster, and of course, the great scene in Summer Rental…

Upon receiving a recommendation, we felt it better to take a quick ride up to Main Street. Is it even called that?!? It is the Main Street in York, but I don’t know if it’s Main Street. Either way, we parked. We walked. We visited stores we would never normally visit. We bought candy. We visited more stores we only went to because they were there. We ate candy. We visited more stores that sold things we would never buy (besides candy). We watched the salt water taffy being made… you know, all the things kids enjoy doing when they go, but as an adult it might be appealing once. If that. But it was tons of fun because we were doing it.

When we were done being kids we decided to take a little cruise down the beach. There is something awesome and exhilarating about smelling the ocean air on a motorcycle. There is also something kind of awkward about feeling the salt and ocean spray as well. But it was a blast nonetheless. And down the beach we went.  And up the beach. And down the beach. And up the beach. And when it was finally time to stop for dinner, it turned into a son of a beach. Everything closes early. Who would have known. Cheap lobster was not in the cards for us. Pub fare was not in the cards for us. A burger was not in the cards for us. Everything was closed except one restaurant that very politely said, “we are closing so if you could find another place…” And they recommended the York Harbor Inn. Down the road about 3 miles. And I am very happy we went.  We had a casual dinner with live music in their Ship’s Cellar Pub. The nachos were great. The burger was awesome. And the fish sandwich was phenomenal.

Friday August 25, 2012:

There was one mantra for the day. No highway. No asphalt slab. No getting up to speed (a very rapid speed) and just going. No… well, you get the point. Without nary a worry in the world or a reason to get back home (the dogs were being cared for thankfully!) we decided we would spend the day casually riding and stopping where and when we wanted.

We decided to ride Route 1A as far down the coast of  Maine and into New Hampshire as possible. It was bright and sunny, and  the roads were surprisingly empty. I guess it makes sense on a Friday morning at the end of August. There were a few detours, which meant we couldn’t cross 1A into NH, but it wasn’t much of a worry. As we crossed, we noticed what appeared to be a fairly random submarine on the side of the road.

Spontaneous stop number one: The USS Albacore

This was cool! The USS Albacore visitor’s center (yes, it was the biggest Tuna sub I have ever seen) was a small  museum and you could board and tour the submarine. We took a few pictures on the sub… I felt like a giant on this thing. A man of my not-so-athletic physique is not cut out for life on a sub. Hopefully they are building them larger nowadays.

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Click here for more details on the USS Albacore.

The next stop wasn’t very spontaneous. We knew we were stopping back at The Beach Plum for lunch. And we did. And it was just as good as it was two days earlier.

After lunch we followed 1A as far as possible, down the New Hampshire coast, and into Massachusetts. It’s amazing how much Salisbury Beach in Mass reminded me of the dingiest parts of Wildwood, NJ or Atlantic City. Definitely a far cry from beaches in Maine (and even NH).

The way the GPS routed us, we were going to head directly through Boston. In order to enjoy the roads more, we rerouted and winded our way over to route 2 West, and made our way to 2A.

Spontaneous stop number two: Walden Pond

I would like to pretend I was enamored by the site. I would like to pretend I felt the magic and mystique felt by Henry David Thoreau more than 150 years ago. I would like to pretend it was silent and peaceful. I would like to pretend we visited for more than 10 minutes before we got fed up with tourists, and swimmers, and beach goers, and the inability to park, and the… well, you get my drift. We didn’t last very long there.

Click here for more details on Walden Pond

It was 4:30 pm. With the rumble of the engine, the open road ahead of us, and Walden Pond thankfully behind us, I began to wonder out loud in conversation with Melisa whether or not something was wrong with me. Here I am, a high school English teacher, a lover of literature, visiting an important site of American Literature, and I couldn’t tolerate it. Thankfully she couldn’t either.  But nothing was wrong with us, as we learned shortly thereafter. We were riding through some of the most historic towns in American History – Concord, soon Lexington, etc. We were riding on the very roads that now sit on Revolutionary War grounds. Somewhere along Route 2A we hit Lincoln and passed rather quickly a sign that read “Paul Revere Capture Site.” We slowed down, turned around, and decided to give it a few minutes.

Spontaneous stop number three: Paul Rever Capture Site

Although American History is important, I never considered myself a scholar in it, and truthfully, I never gave it much study except where necessary. Figured this would be a quick stop – after all, if I, an English teacher, couldn’t stomach staying at Walden Pond longer than 10 minutes, why would I want to stay here longer than 5?  We were wrong. Our stop was about 30 minutes. It amazes me how a site like this could evoke such a sense of wonderment and awe. Although nothing more than a small monument and plaque, my mind couldn’t get over the fact that I was standing on a site of history. The man never made it to Lexington. There were stories that you never hear in history class. William Dawes was at a bar? Samuel Prescott was with his girlfriend and he was the only one that finished the ride – figuratively and literally I guess. The scene of Revere’s and Dawes’ capture played over and over in my head…

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Click here to read Paul Revere’s account of that night. (Unfortunately I don’t have a link to Sam Prescott’s girlfriend)

Our history lesson over, we snaked our way through east central Massachusetts until we hit Route 20 and followed it west from Wayland, MA, passed Sturbridge, and into Brimfield. Although the sun was down, and it was dark outside, we noticed tremendous amounts of damage to Brimfield and Monson resulting from the tornadoes that hit on June 1, 2011. Although we had seen parts of the damage in the past, this was the first time we had seen how it affected these areas in Massachusetts. It was fascinating to say the least, as I had to force my eyes to stay focused on the road rather than trying to take in all the damage – vast landscapes wiped out (vast for New England), tree branches and tops all gone, bare hillsides, and damaged homes.

The last 30 minutes of the ride were special in their own right. A few teenagers were walking on the streets as we rumbled through Longmeadow, MA. I can only imagine the looks on their faces as they turned to see a Harley Davidson Street Glide cruising to the blaring sounds of Ke$ha’s Animal blaring from the new Boom! Audio speakers that prompted us to take this trip. We arrived home at 9:30, clocking more than 10 hours saddle time from Maine to Connecticut.

As I reflect back, this one day of riding is up there as one of the best, if not the best, days of riding I have ever had. It’s greatness is a result of equal parts shared experience with Melisa, awesome spontaneous stops at interesting sites along the way, many hours in the saddle, and of course, awesome food.

Total Trip: 646 miles.

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

No Riding for Me Today

Posted: July 18, 2012 in General Musings, Video

Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.