Boats get names. Fighter pilots name their airplanes. Babies get names. Pets get names. But I never really thought about naming a motorcycle. But once we bought our BMW K1200LT I noticed on some of the BMW message boards that the motorcycles had names. When we had out Suzuki C50T Boulevard we merely just referred to it as the “The motorcycle” or “The Boulevard”. That seemed simple enough. But BMW riders were naming their motorcycles and I’m sure they’re not the only ones who do it. We were trying to come up with names. “The Big Green Machine” was out, but “The Big German Lady” was a possibility. It was harder than you think to come up with a name. Did we want to come up with a name and then translate it into German?
Then one early one brisk morning we were headed up the road to meet some friends to go riding. We had the stereo, yes a radio station, playing in that nice BMW intercom. It was a classic rock station that we were listening to. Then Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” began playing. My head was moving with the music (luck for Donna I wasn’t singing) and we decided right then that we’d name our BMW K1200LT “The Magic Carpet”. For some reason it just fit and has been that way ever since.
I received a pair of Speed & Strength “Run With The Bulls” motorcycle shoes from Motorcycle House for review. I’ve worn the original BMW Street Sneakers before so I was already used to something that was not a full boot.
When I took the shoes out of the box I immediately noticed that they were a sturdy pair of shoes. They are definitely not regular tennis shoes. They come up to just over the ankle. Right away I found the sizing to be accurate as I normally wear an 8 ½ shoe and I had ordered a 9 (the shoes are only available in whole sizes). My toes come just to the tip of the shoe, are not jammed in and have room to move a bit but the shoes are not lose. I think an 8 would’ve been too small. The shoes are black leather and cordura nylon with hard rubber soles. The laces are exposed very little, using what Speed & Strength calls an “undercover lacing system”. There’s also a velcro strap that covers the knot. The undercover lacing system doesn’t hinder putting the shoe on or tightening the laces once you realize the lacing pattern. There is a hard ankle protector on both the inboard and outboard side of the shoe over the ankle bone. There is a hard rubber heel protector as well. Both shoes have a rubber shift guard on them. I’ve had boots before that only had a shift guard on the left foot and it looked a bit odd. The shoes have flat soles just like tennis shoes so if you have foot pegs instead of floorboards (like I do) this is more comfortable, letting you move your foot more. The soles are also harder and sturdier than tennis shoes. The first time I wore them was on a 470 mile weekend trip in the Great Smoky Mountains and on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The shoes performed flawlessly and were very comfortable. I had no issues or problems with using the gear shift or the rear brake. An unexpected plus was their comfort in walking. They were much more comfortable walking for a distance than my motorcycle boots are, and those have softer soles! After dinner one night we went for a mile walk and while the soles were hard it was a comfortable walk on my feet. It was much more comfortable than I expected it to be. These were the only shoes I brought with me and this was intentional. You could wear these as everyday shoes while you were out riding. The only minor negative I found was one day I wore jeans instead of riding pants and the air at my ankles was something I wasn’t used to. It wasn’t a bad thing, just something I wasn’t used to. These shoes are not advertised as being waterproof. I think they’d keep your feet dry for a short time in a shower but not much more. If you’re riding something like an HD Ultra Classic or HD Road Glide Ultra that have the lowers on the engine guards then you’d be better off as your feet are more protected from the elements already. I imagine it would be the same on Honda Gold Wing as it was on my BMW K1200LT too. I didn’t experience any wet weather while riding to test my theory. I did though wear them when it did rain at night and then stepping back onto wooden decking and painted concrete I felt sure-footed. That brings up another good point, with my foot out at a stop on loaded touring motorcycle riding 2-up the soles of the shoes did not slip even slightly.
- Accurate sizing
- Sturdy and well made
- Comfortable for walking
- A good value
- Laces are not exposed
Check out these shoes and other motorcycle apparel and accessories at Motorcycle House!
These shoes are great and great value to boot! And yes, the pun was intended.
A video review too!
Earlier in the week I wrote a post about the curvy road feature in Garmin’s Basecamp software for planning routes and transferring them to your GPS. I said I’d play with it a bit and see how it went. Well, I haven’t ridden a route planned with it yet but I have let the software work its magic. I gave it a Point A to Point B route from Jasper, GA to Blairsville, GA. I let it use the shortest route and then the curvy roads option. The shortest route came in at 58.4 miles and an estimated trip time of 59 minutes. The route is all on Georgia Highway 515/US 76 and it’s on a 4 lane highway with a grass median between the opposing lanes. But, it is a nice ride if you’re in a hurry. The curvy route was 75.8 miles and had an estimated time of 1 hour and 59 minutes to complete. The curvy route takes twice as long to complete but sure does look a lot more fun. I can attest that some parts of the curvy route are even curvier than the map lets on.
The shortest route selected by BaseCamp.
The curvy route selected by BaseCamp.
Our Garmin Zumo 220 GPS shipped with MapSource as the routing software to accompany it. Garmin has since abandoned MapSource and began using its own software, BaseCamp, which is available for free as a download. The idea with BaseCamp (and was with MapSource) was that you could create a trip or a route on your computer, transfer it to your GPS and then load the route on your GPS and follow it. It is nice to do. By default BaseCamp checks for updates every time you load it. In BaseCamp you set options for profiles such as motorcycling, driving, hiking, etc.. With the options for each setting you can set the profile to not route you on things such as toll roads, dirt roads, avoid u-turns, highways and many more things. I noticed a feature in the motorcycle profile that I don’t know if it’s new or I’ve been missing it all this time. It’s a “curvy roads” routing feature. That’s right, curvy roads for a motorcycle! Who would’ve thought that motorcycles would like curvy roads? Well it’s an option I’m going to start playing with and see what results I get.
The curvy roads options in the motorcycling profile.
I’ve received a Laughlin jacket made by River Road from Motorcycle House in order to write a review of the jacket and Motorcycle House.
To be honest, I picked the Laughlin because it was a fabric jacket and was not leather and was available in a color other than black. Many of the jackets were nearly identical to a name brand jacket that I already had or were black leather. I was pleasantly surprised when this jacket arrived. The jacket is a nice brown color and had the appearance of Carhartt jacket. When I tried it on Donna even asked “Are you sure that’s a motorcycle jacket?” She commented that from a distance the jacket even looked like it was suede. Now on to the review.
I ordered the jacket in an XL and the jacket is true to size and maybe even a little larger as it is not snug and has a looser fit but can be adjusted somewhat by the tab at the waist. It is a waist length jacket. It is a polyester/nylon blend jacket that has the appearance of cotton or canvas. It definitely does not have the nylon or carbolex look. The Laughlin has reflective piping on the front and the back. There are a total of NINE pockets on this jacket! There are 2 snap pockets on the chest, the 2 zipper chest vents are also pockets, 2 zippered handwarmer style pockets, on the inside of the jacket there is a zippered map style pocket and the liner has a cell phone style pocket and large Velcro pocket. If you remove the insulated liner, the cell phone pocket and Velcro pocket are also on the mesh lining of the jacket itself. The waist can be tightened by tabs with snaps on them. The sleeves zip to the wrist and can also be cinched tighter by snaps. The collar can be snapped down so that it does not flap in the wind, but can also be zipped all they way to cover your neck and keep it warm. I rode about 100 miles wearing the jacket yesterday. It was 46º F and sunny when I started. I had a long-sleeved t-shirt on and was quite comfortable. Although I could feel some cold air seeping in at the waist I merely tightened the snaps when I stopped to meet my riding partner for the day. I also had the neck zipped all the way up covering my neck and it was soft and comfortable and more importantly did not interfere with my helmet. Throughout the morning and into the afternoon I was very comfortable. But as normal, if it were to be colder I would’ve been wearing more than a long sleeve t-shirt. While we crested some mountains in north Georgia the temperature dipped back to 45º. As the afternoon warmed up into the mid 60’s I stopped to remove the liner. I also opened up the vents and felt good air flow around my torso using the front should vents and the rear exhaust vents. This is an armored motorcycle jacket having CE Approved armor in the elbows and shoulders and a foam protection pad for the back. All of the armor is removable. The armor is not noticeable perhaps making this jacket appeal to even a broader spectrum of riders. I rode about 100 miles with the jacket yesterday. This jacket is so comfortable that it will quite likely be my “go to” jacket next winter for casual wear. I really like this jacket a lot if you can’t tell.
You’ll see my review of Motorcycle House along with the jacket’s pros and cons below the pictures of the jacket and the video. You have to review the retailer too don’t you? Especially when that’s what they want!
- Warm and comfortable in cooler temperatures. With liner removed and vents opened jacket moves air around body.
- Collar will snap down or zip up to cover neck.
- When off the motorcycle it does not look like a motorcycle jacket.
- It has a lot of pockets.
- Cell phone pocket will even accommodate a smart phone in an Otterbox case.
- True to size fitting.
- CE Approved armor in elbows and shoulders with foam padding for the spine.
- The armor is not highly visible.
- Reflective piping.
- Water repellent.
- Back vents can be hard to reach while wearing jacket.
It was a bit odd when the marketing representative from Motorcycle House contacted me about this. They supplied the choices to pick from after we started firming things up. Most were jackets of the “cruiser” variety or something I already had. I then selected the River Road Laughlin. I’ll admit there were some bumps in the road that made me wonder things. It was took over a week to ship and they said it was due to weather. I then realized the area had an earthquake about 2 days after they said they’d ship. They are located near San Bernardino, CA and the jacket was sent to them from a warehouse in Illinois. But to their credit, they stayed in near constant contact through email. Once they shipped from California it made it here in under 4 full business days (shipped late on Wednesday and arrived on a Monday). They also provided me tracking numbers from the warehouse to them and then from them to me. The jacket did arrive a day earlier than UPS had estimated. When you go to the web site you’ll often quickly get a chat window from customer service asking if they can help you. If you click on the chat link for them, they quickly respond. I did notice that they nearly always had their own brand of article in stock but currently (as this can change) nearly all Tourmaster or Cortech items will show as out of stock. They did deliver to me as a demo within what I would consider a reasonable time. I was always able to get in touch with someone, even when being anonymous using their support link while browsing. I’d give them a chance if you’re looking for motorcycle gear or even saddlebags. Yes they even sell saddle bags! They made me wonder at first but I can be cynical, but in reality they came through as promised. Motorcycle House is just trying to get their name out there and spread around. They’re at motorcyclehouse.com if you want to take a look.
Earlier this week I had received my pair of Tourmaster Tracker Air Pants. The pants have mesh panels in them to allow for air flow when it’s warm. I got ride over 200 miles while wearing them today. I saw reviews on several websites that the pants were “true to size” or even big. When I took the pants out of the box, they seemed huge! I tried them on and they seemed a bit big and made me think for a while that I should’ve ordered the L instead of the XL. You see, I already have a pair of Tourmaster Quest pants in L and they seem snug but are cut more like jeans. Tourmaster L says 34-36 and XL says 36-38. I can comfortably wear name brand blue jeans with a 38″ inch waste and can squeeze in a pair of 36 so I thought I’d be okay. These pants are also much darker in color than is shown on the Tourmaster and other web sites.
The Tracker Air Pants come with the nylon wind liner already in them. The liner is easily removed with Velcro tabs. I first tried the pants on with the wind liner in them and could already tell that I don’t like it. Unless you are VERY careful putting the pants on, you will pull the liner off the Velcro tabs. Then the wind liner looked like it was longer than the pants themselves and stuck out from the bottom of the legs. It really doesn’t bother me though because I wanted the pants for warm weather wear as I already have cool weather pants. The pants have legs that zip off so you can make them into shorts. I did zip the legs off and on and it was easy to do. Again though, I didn’t buy them to wear as shorts so doing that is something I will probably never do again. The only armor in these pants is the CE rated armor in the knees. The knee armor is not adjustable like it is in other Tourmaster pants, it only has the one position. I think if I had ordered the L the armor would be too high while sitting on the motorcycle. The pants have no back pockets. The only pockets are the 2 zippered front pockets and the cargo pockets on each leg. But the cargo pockets appear to be waterproof (Tourmaster does NOT advertise these pants as having a rain liner to keep you dry). The side zipper on the legs goes all the way to the knee and the cuffs are secured by Velcro. The zipper is covered by a Velcro secured flap which I think is unneccessary. Unless you’re going to put the pants on or take them off while wearing boots you shouldn’t even need to use the leg zippers. There are no belt loops on these pants and you adjust them using the Velcro strap on each side.
Now for the good part….wearing while riding.
I wore them today on a 200+ mile ride with temperatures in the mid 70’s F and a partly cloudy sky. As soon as you start moving you can feel the air moving through the pants. The mesh panels are on the shins, thighs and the backs of the legs. Right away you feel the shins and I’m being a full fairing. As your speed increases you can feel the air on your thighs. I never did notice any breeze on my calves but interestingly could feel it on the back of my thighs. Getting on and off the motorcycle was easy and comfortable, probably due to the stretch panel in the crotch. I felt no binding or tight spots. The legs did not flap in the breeze. Are they cooler than jeans? You bet they are! Even when stopped in traffic they were quite comfortable. The knee armor seemed a bit high but I was able to move around and adjust it before riding off. I found no defects and they are well made. Even though they are mesh, you can’t see skin through the material due to the thinner mesh lining like Tourmaster and Cortech use in their jackets. I do think they are a very worthwhile purchase if you ride in warmer climates as they are cooler than jeans and offer more protection than jeans.
- Well made
- Knee armor
- Cargo pockets appear to be waterproof
- Allow good air flow
- Cuffs are adjustable
- Reflective piping down entire length of leg
- Reflective piping matches pants and is invisible until light find it in the dark
- Don’t ride up while riding
- Don’t flap in breeze
- Cooler than jeans
- More protection than jeans
- You may be able to wear over a pair of jeans
- Wind liner comes loose
- Wind liner appears to be an after thought
- No belt loops for wearing a belt
- Knee armor is not adjustable
- No hip armor
- Seem to run large
- No back pockets
Well maybe it’s not so much a farkle but more of a sticker. The local BMW Motorcycle dealer has begun selling some stickers after a few years absence. I could resist getting one. After all, the Magic Carpet is not a trailer queen! I actually meant to put this in the New Years Day ride post but forgot.
If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand.
4W bright white LED on left, 50W halogen on right and the HID low beam above.
The Magic Carpet has Motolights on it. I really like the triangle of light they provide. The right side light had stopped working and it was because one of the pins on the bulb had broken. I had also found that the light housing was loose. Now I know, Motolights will replace the bulbs for free. But, you have to find them at a show or contact them and then pay shipping for the bulb. At an open house at BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta, I already did have the right bulb replaced by Motolight a few years ago. Besides, it’s no big deal to get a bulb as a it’s a standard MR16 12V bulb available at any home improvement store. In the process of replacing the bulb I found out that I had a 35W bulb on the right and a 50W bulb on the left. I was out of balance! I had already been thinking of replacing the bulbs with LED ones anyway but while both were still working it was a low priority upgrade. I found a post on BMWLT.COM about low cost LED replacements. The dealer was a place called Dealextreme and they’re in China. Now before anyone gets all huffy about buying American I can assure you that had I gone to a home improvement store the name brand bulbs I purchased would’ve come from China anyway. A few people at BMWLT.COM had ordered from them already. I felt even more confident ordering as I was using a “gift” debit card from my healthcare provider in case the card got compromised as there was only a few dollars left on it anyway. I was going to replace both bulbs and found the 4W (watt) bright white LED MR16 bulbs and they were only $4.90 (USD) each. So the two bulbs were only $9.80! That’s less than half of ONE LED bulb at the home improvement store. Oh, the order also qualified for free shipping. I already knew the free shipping would take a while but took advantage of it anyway, I wasn’t in a rush.
I ordered my bulbs on the afternoon of September 11, 2013 and was sent a confirmation email and that they would ship soon. The next morning on September 12, 2013 I had an email that had been delivered overnight that my order had shipped. Today, on September 21, 2013 the postman delivered the bulbs. I’d say not bad, getting here in 9 days getting here to metro Atlanta, GA from Shanghai, China. It took just a few minutes of sitting on the floor in the garage on this rainy day to swap the bulbs out. The new ones are nearly an identical match to the HID low beam headlight in color temperature appearance. Not a bad deal for under $10.00! They do ship worldwide too. The photo above shows the comparison between the old halogen bulb and the LED replacement.
Until next time, ride safe!
Today was oil change day for the Magic Carpet. It’s a little early but I’ll be headed out on the road to my Dad’s and it’ll come up due on the trip so I got it out-of-the-way before the trip. Today was the “easy” oil change in that it was just the motor oil. I still have to lay on the floor to do it though!
We also decided to get the Lifetime Map Updates for the Garmin Zumo 220 GPS. We got the GPS in September of 2011 and haven’t updated the maps since using the one free update from Garmin within 30 days of the purchase. We figured roads don’t really change all that much but it was time. Garmin offers a one time update for $49.99 or the lifetime updates for $89.00 so it really does make sense to get the lifetime updates. I had heard that Amazon has the lifetime update for less than Garmin. I found the lifetime update sold by Amazon for $58.03! You can guess where we got it from. The map is updating now as I type this.
The Magic Carpet should also reach 75,000 miles on the odometer this weekend while I’m headed to my Dad’s in Florida.
The BMWMOA has a list on their website of all the BMW motorcycle dealers in the United States. An enterprising member of the organization created a Point Of Interest (POI) file for Garmin GPS units along with directions for installing the file with Garmin’s POI Uploader available as a free download on Garmin’s web site. Of course you could enter each one from the list into your GPS address book or as a POI individually but that could be time-consuming. And, since someone else has already done it for us, why not use their work like they want us to? Since they are points of interest you merely open the POI file on your GPS and it then lists the dealers beginning with the one closest to your location then 2nd, 3rd, etc.. It’s a handy feature to have while on the road and even works with our lowly Garmin Zumo 220. Our old, original BMW Navigator came with this file pre-loaded as I think the current BMW Navigators do also. But, dealers change, move or close so it’s nice to be able to update the file.
BMW Motorcycle dealer POI listing.