How Our Motorcycle Got Named “The Magic Carpet”

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.

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So How Did I End Up Riding A BMW?

It’s a question I get asked all the time.  Why did you get a BMW?  Sometimes the question is “How come you didn’t buy a Harley?”  Well first off there has yet to be a manufacturer that is able to make a motorcycle that suits every rider.  And news flash, while Harley Davidson makes a very good motorcycle they are not the only company building motorcycles.

So here’s how I ended up with a BMW K1200LTE.  In 2006 I wanted to get back into motorcycling.  Like many motorcyclists there had been a break in riding in my life.  Did I set out to buy a BMW?  No I didn’t.  Donna was on board with it.  Donna had never ridden for any length of time on a motorcycle.  She wanted to try but wasn’t sure how she’d like it.  So between the 2 of us some guidelines were set.  We wouldn’t spend a ton of money, it would have some luggage capacity, have a windshield and Donna wanted a passenger back rest.  We decided on a 2006 Suzuki Boulevard C50T in phantom gray.  It was a water-cooled, shaft drive V-Twin motorcycle.  The “50” designated a 50 cubic inch engine which roughly converts to an 820cc engine.  Because it was the “T” model it came with a windshield, hard leather saddlebags and nice big back rest.  In the Suzuki lineup T meant touring.  This motorcycle was basically a Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic with a smaller engine and made in Japan.  It was a good, durable and surprisingly strong motorcycle.  Well, Donna literally took to riding like a duck takes to water.  If I backed the motorcycle out of the garage for anything, she was there with her helmet.  We would go on day rides and even weekend overnight trips on the motorcycle.  Then in 2007 we rode that C50T from home in north Georgia to Bike Week in Daytona  Beach!  We intentionally made the trip down in 2 days even though it is an 8 hour trip for us.  But on that trip we also avoided the interstate as much as possible.  It wasn’t long before we were both longing for a real touring motorcycle because no matter what Suzuki said, the C50T and its big brother the C90T were not really touring motorcycles.  The search began for a true touring motorcycle.

Donna with the C50T in Flagler Beach, FL on our way to Bike Week in 2007.

Donna with the C50T in Flagler Beach, FL on our way to Bike Week in 2007.

In early 2008 we had narrowed our search to the Harley Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Honda Goldwing, Yamaha Royal Star Venture, Victory Vision, BMW K1200LT and a used BMW R1200CL.  I had no specific brand in mind.  An interesting note about BMW was that I didn’t consider them the first time around because I remembered black motorcycles with ugly bags being “old man” motorcycles.  But riding again exposed me to newer BMW motorcycles.  If I had looked at them in 2006 we probably would’ve ended up with an R1200R instead of the Suzuki.  But let’s get back to the search.  A later entrant into the search was the BMW R1200RT.  In the late summer and early fall of 2008 we began searching in earnest and things were lining up.  The Honda and the Yamaha were taken off the list pretty quick because we couldn’t find a dealer anywhere near us that would allow a test ride.  We weren’t spending that kind of money on a motorcycle and not being able to test ride it.  We even had a Honda dealer tell us that we wouldn’t need one and that under the law we had 3 business days after the sale to change our mind anyway and that could be our test ride.  That left Harley Davidson, Victory and BMW; all 3 of which by the way not only allowed test rides but encouraged them.  The next motorcycle to drop off the list was the Victory Vision.  The reason the Victory was dropped was a simple statement from Donna: “It looks cool now.  But will we think that in 2 years?”  The R1200RT was the next to drop off the list because Donna thought that the way the seat looked, it looked like it would make her slide forward.  I had to agree with her and after all she would not be an occasional passenger but a nearly all the time passenger.  No I don’t want to hear that we could buy another seat, we already did that with the Suzuki.  We test rode an Ultra Classic.  It was about 1:oo PM and I asked how long a test ride we could take.  I was told “We close at 6.”  The Ultra was one nice motorcycle and could be very comfortable and eat up the miles.  The next ride was a used BMW R1200CL at BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta.  Donna really wasn’t pleased with the look of the motorcycle and it’s “bat wing” fairing like the Ultra Classic and even said from the side it looked like an ant the way it was segmented.  I then went on a test ride on a BMW K1200LT by myself.  One word: WOW!  Since I was a police officer, I qualified to purchase a Peace Officer Special Edition Ultra Classic at a very significant discount from Harley Davidson.  No, it’s not a police motorcycle but an Ultra Classic with Peace Officer “badging”, blue pin-striping and limited colors.  We priced one out in preparation to order because you had to order them from the factory.  Then one day we saw a used 2002 BMW K1200LTE on the BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta website.  It was green!  But we went to look anyway.  Donna asked if they could take it outside in the bright sunshine.

Donna with the Magic Carpet at the Florida Welcome Center on the way to Bike Week in 2010.

Donna with the Magic Carpet at the Florida Welcome Center on the way to Bike Week in 2010.

The doors were opened and out she went.  Donna made the comment, “It sure looks fast and sexy.”  Her next comment was that even though it was green it look very good and very different.  Then came the offer for the test ride.  We took them up on the offer and went for over an hour test ride.  By the end of the week we owned that green K1200LTE that later became know as The Magic Carpet.  I called the Harley Davidson dealer to tell the salesman I would not be coming in to order the Ultra Classic because I had bought another motorcycle.  He said he understood (the peace officer editions don’t count towards their allotment or sales) but asked what I had bought.  When I told him a BMW K1200LTE he said “That’s a really great bike.  You’re going to enjoy it.  At least you didn’t call to tell me you bought a Goldwing!”  When we bought the K1200LTE I kept the C50T for a while.  But there was now no comparison.  The BMW had servo assisted brakes (power brakes like a car) while the Suzuki had a drum rear brake and a single disc front brake.  When I rode the C50T I felt like I wasn’t going to stop.  We sold her to a good home.  We owned the C50T just over 2 years and put 14,000 miles on her.  When we bought the K1200LTE it had 39,000 miles on it and it now has just under 84,000 miles as I write this (our next day ride will probably reach 84,000).  Very soon after buying the K1200LTE we took it on its first real trip.  We went to Florida to visit my parents in the Daytona Beach area for Thanksgiving.  We did it in one day this time with stops only for food and gas.  We were going across I-10 in north Florida when I told Donna on the intercom that it was about lunch time.  She said “We can keep going for a while, I’m fine.”  I had to tell her it was me who was ready for a break.

Basically the BMW fell into our laps at just right time.  Plain and simple.  I didn’t set out for a BMW or any other brand in the beginning and they all started out equal.

Since I’ve owned the BMW I’ve learned 3 major things about motorcylists and the make they ride:

  • Harley Davidson riders dress like pirates.
  • BMW riders dress like armadillos
  • Sport bike riders of any make dress like Power Rangers.

It doesn’t matter what brand you ride.  Just find something you like and ride it!

 

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Speed And Strength Motorcycle Shoe Review

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.

Pros:

  • Comfortable
  • Accurate sizing
  • Sturdy and well made
  • Comfortable for walking
  • A good value
  • Laces are not exposed

Cons:

  • No reflective material

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.

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A video review too!

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A Birthday Motorcycle Trip

My birthday was this past weekend.  How did we celebrate you ask?  Well, we went on a motorcycle trip of course.  We decided that we’d ride up to Maggie Valley, NC and spend two nights at The Jonathan Creek Inn.  We’ve stayed there on group trips before but this was our first solo stay there.  We stayed in Maggie Valley nearly three years ago on our Blue Ridge Parkway “End To End” trip but didn’t stay at Jonathan Creek.  So we left out late Saturday morning with half a tank of gas and headed for North Carolina.  We got a nice surprise at a gas stop in Blue Ridge, Georgia when I found that the premium unleaded gas was ethanol free!  After gassing up and showing some kids from Florida the motorcycle we continued on.  Within two hours of being on the road we had been in three states; Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina.  We went up going through, Blue Ridge to McCaysville in Georgia and then Copperhill in Tennessee.  Once in North Carolina we headed for Andrews, Murphy, Topton, through the Nantahala Gorge into Cherokee and then on into Maggie Valley. The trip is about three and half hours of riding for us.  The Jonathan Creek Inn gets its name because the Jonathan Creek runs behind the motel.  Some of the rooms have a rear door that goes out to the creek or a screened in porch or patio.  There was couple staying there that made home-made ice cream with fresh-cut peaches for anyone who wanted it.  Yep, they did it just to do it.

Sunday was going to be our riding and tourist day.  We had planned to ride a short stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway, have lunch in Waynesville, NC and then possibly go to the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum back in Maggie Valley if we had time before heading back and enjoying the creek.  I got up and strolled around, and got us some coffee from the lobby and met another motorcyclist who was quite impressed with the

They rode this Kawasaki Vulcan down from Wisconsin to North Carolina. They were leaving for home when they posed for this picture.

roads in and around The Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  He said he and his wife were from “mid Wisconsin” and they didn’t have roads like that back home.  He and his wife were riding his Kawasaki Vulcan.  A few minutes later she showed up with their helmets and he said they were ready to go.  I asked him where they were headed and he said “Home.”  That’s right, they rode that Vulcan with soft saddlebags for luggage down from Wisconsin!  They said they were going to try to make Indianapolis that night!  They ride for about two hours before taking a break and set a destination and ride until they get there, be it 5 in the afternoon or 9 at night.  Now that’s a motorcycling couple!  My hat is off to them!  Or should I say my helmet is off to them?

After our breakfast we headed up and got on the Blue Ridge Parkway at about mile marker 26 and were going to ride to mile marker 0 down at Cherokee, NC.  We were gaining in altitude the first part of the ride and within the first 10 miles the temperature dropped from 85°F to 69°F!  The road is just as fun as I remember it and there was almost no traffic on the Parkway.  We had the nice curvy road almost all to ourselves.  It seemed like we could almost reach out and touch the clouds.  After lunch in we did decide to drop in at the Wheels Through Time museum.  I’ve heard so much about this museum and was told it was a “must see”.  Personally I was quite disappointed.  First off it’s not just motorcycles of any kind, but only American motorcycles.  Yes there were some interesting things to see but there didn’t seem to be any order to it.  You didn’t follow a timeline, it was more haphazard and you had no way of telling what a lot of the stuff was.  I mean you could look and say, “Oh that’s a V-twin, you can’t read what it is but I bet it’s a Harley or an Indian.”  Plus it was hot inside too.  Now there was an interesting Harley Davidson upstairs that if you took a quick glance at some angles you might thing it was a BMW GS series motorcycle.  There was a WWII display that had a Harley Davidson that was quite apparently a Harley/BMW hybrid.  Most of the parts said Harley Davidson but that sure was an old boxer twin and a shaft drive put in that Harley frame somehow.  I thought it was quite a display of ingenuity in using what you could scrounge.  I wondered if it was American mechanics who scrounged the BMW parts or German mechanics that scrounged the Harley parts.  But the place really didn’t tell you the history of the American motorcycle.  I felt like I was going to run into the guys from American Pickers at any minute.  Sunday was also the day that a guy showed up with a Harley on a trailer, unloaded it, and then parked his motorcycle, the trailer and his SUV all in their own spaces.  Yes he took up 3 spaces in a hotel that had limited parking already.  We thought it was funny how some of the Harley riders at the hotel, you know the ones who rode their motorcycles, were talking about that guy.  For dinner that night we decided to try a BBQ restaurant called Butts On The Creek.  Take our advice and if you’re ever in Maggie Valley, don’t bother with it.  It was probably the blandest BBQ pork I’ve ever had.  It was gray and flavorless.  There was no smoke flavor or BBQ flavor to it at all.

After some pretty bad storms on Sunday night we woke up on Monday morning to clear skies and it was time for use to head home.  After a hardy breakfast we loaded the Magic Carpet and said goodbye to Maggie Valley and were back home by early afternoon.  Oh we did stop in Jasper, GA for a nice BBQ lunch though.  It even looked and tasted like BBQ!

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Florida And Back

Last Sunday I headed down on a solo trip to Florida to visit my Dad in the Daytona Beach area.  It’s a trip that’s made a couple of times a year.  The route isn’t anything spectacular as the whole idea is to get there.  As you can imagine it’s all interstate highways to get there (although we have an alternate or two) going down I-75 to I-10, around Jacksonville on I-295 (believe me, you want to go around Jacksonville and not through) and then I-95 to my destination.  See, I told you it was an interesting route.  Departure is usually early in the morning letting me (or us) arrive in the afternoon.  This trip was a little different and I left late in the morning so I’d get there in the very early evening (when I’m solo I can travel much quicker and take shorter stops).

I forget how hot south-central Georgia can be once you get south of Macon!  In southern Georgia I was motoring along in the center lane with the cruise control set just above 70 mph.  In the right lane there was an SUV pulling an open trailer and I was slowly gaining on them.  As I got closer I could see some children’s bicycles on the trailer along with what looked like some waterproof boxes.  And then I saw it.  There was a BMW R1200GSA travelling on down the road on the trailer!  I slowly pulled alongside and adjusted the cruise control to match his speed.  The driver saw me and energetically waved at me.  I waved back.  Then, I pointed to the motorcycle shaking my head and waving my finger in “no no” fashion like a parent would to a child.  He burst out laughing!  Then he shrugged his shoulders and pointed to his wife (I’m assuming) in the passenger seat, as if to say “It was her idea!”  I motioned again and she started laughing too.  It was kind of fun.  I had hoped I’d run into them at a gas stop or rest area so I could tell him something like “I was going to call 911 when I saw a BMW on a trailer because I thought it was stolen.” or “I knew Harley Davidson was coming out with 2 new models but I didn’t know they looked like an R1200GSA.”  In all fairness to this family they had Canadian license plates so it would’ve been a long family ride.  But, his wife does get major points for letting him bring the motorcycle along.

The rest of the trip went pretty much according to plan until I got to the Jacksonville area.  The skies ahead were darkening and I knew rain was coming.  I went ahead and stopped for my last gas stop on the way.  After gassing up I checked the weather radar and saw storms on a map that was only 2 minutes old.  But knowing the area and seeing the map I felt confident that by getting on I-295 very shortly and then heading south that I’d miss the storms.  Well Murphy’s Law took over.  It wasn’t long down the road when the bottom fell out with one of those good old-fashioned Florida summer thunderstorms. I was wearing a mesh jacket and my Tourmaster mesh pants.  Did you know that rain goes right through mesh gear just like wind does?  In no time I was soaked and there was no overpass around to duck under which to put rain gear on so I motored on.  The thunderstorm lasted only about 10 minutes and then I was riding on dry road again.  But I also found out that mesh riding gear also dries off really quick too.  I had 2 more bouts with the rain once I got on I-95.  After the second thundershower I just left the rain pants on and left the rain liner in the mesh jacket.  I did get pretty warm.  That last hour and half or so was the worst part of the trip and got me to my Dad’s much later than expected.

Once there it was the typical visiting my Dad.  I always knew that my Dad had originally enlisted in the Marine Corps at 15 years old during WWII and was sent home when it was discovered.  One rainy day over lunch on the water, and a beer in my Dad, I got the full story.  It was the summer of 1945 and he was 15 years old and falsified his age to join the Marines.  The Drill Instructors had been coming in since the beginning and telling them that if they were not old enough to be there to step forward.  The Boots (recruits) would even be pushed onto to bunks or onto the floor.  They were several weeks into Boot Camp and he figured they were on to him.  So when they said to step forward if you weren’t old enough, he did, along with a guy across the aisle too.  They were both ushered off and interviewed separately by the Drill Instructor.  My Dad said the Drill Instructor asked him what he wanted to do and what he thought should be done to him.  He said the demeanor was now different, apparently since he now knew he was speaking with a 15-year-old boy.  My Dad said they were halfway through with Boot Camp and he felt he had a duty to complete it.  He was sent out to rejoin his platoon and complete Boot Camp and wasn’t treated any different from anyone else.  He said that Parris Island was packed with Marines who had already completed Boot Camp and were continuing their training right there while they were living in “tent cities” while the Boots were in barracks.  One day the platoon was gathered and they were told that a “secret bomb” had been dropped on Japan, that the one bomb had leveled an entire city and it was hoped it would end the war.  It was years later when he learned that after Boot Camp that their training was for the invasion of the home island of Japan.  There were told only it would be the fiercest fighting ever faced by the Marines or the Army.  They continued to train.  Japan surrendered and they continued to train.  My Dad graduated Boot Camp and turned 16 years old at Parris Island.  It was October when he was summoned to the Company Commander.  He was told that a relative had written a letter, presumably to a Congressman or Senator that he was too young to enlist.  The war was now over and he was being given a General Discharge under “Honorable Circumstances” with the reason for the discharge being a Falsified Enlistment.  The Honorable Circumstances meant that he could re-enlist when he was old enough, which he later did.  That lunchtime conversation made the entire trip worth while.

"The Loop" in the Daytona Beach area.

“The Loop” in the Daytona Beach area.

A few days later I rode “The Loop”, a short ride that begins in Ormond Beach and goes along the Halifax River and then through two state parks.  Once in the parks you ride though some beautiful marsh land.  A portion of the ride is on the thin strip of land between the Halifax River and the Atlantic Ocean.  You’ll ride with very large and expensive homes on one side of the street and cinder block bungalows on the other.  As you right between those houses the road is covered by the branches of trees.  I suppose you could ride along the stretch of Highway A1A along the beach that parallels the river side, but you’ve already ridden along the beach to get there.  No beach riding on this ride.  Portions of the ride make you feel like you’re in a remote wilderness.  The ride gets its name from beginning and ending at the same intersection, hence “The Loop”.  Oh, and the trip wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to BMW Motorcycles of Daytona!

I had planned on leaving late in the morning on Friday as I had done to get there.  My hope was to come through Atlanta after rush hour.  My Dad then figured that it was Friday and if it rained in Atlanta I may not miss rush hour.  So it was decided that I should be on the road by 6:30 am.  I was on the road at 6:20 am.  And as luck would have it, I got stuck behind a large crash on I-75 approaching Atlanta.  I took me well over 30 minutes to travel 2 miles.  That extra time put me going right though Atlanta at the beginning of a Friday afternoon rush hour.  My Dad’s idea would have had me at home before rush hour even began.  Oh well.

I made it back home to Donna and the dogs.  Now we’ll be getting ready for trip that Donna and I will be taking next weekend to Maggie Valley, NC.  We don’t know yet if we’ll ride some on the Blue Ridge Parkway or if we’ll go to the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum.

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Do You Want The Shortest Or The Curvy Route?

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 shortest route selected by BaseCamp.

The curvy route selected by BaseCamp.

The curvy route selected by BaseCamp.

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Time To Recharge Or Get A New Battery

Earlier today the Magic Carpet gave us not one, but two “slow” starts.  You know what I mean, when the battery is weak an turns the starter slow.  But later in the morning it started just fine.  One slow start might be an anomaly but two in the same morning is definitely a warning.  The battery was a Panasonic AGM style and was four and a half years old.  The motorcycle is plugged into a Battery Tender whenever parked in the garage and it’s said this procedure greatly enhances battery longevity.  But tomorrow I’m leaving for a few days in Florida with my Dad and then a week after getting back we’re heading to Maggie Valley, NC.  Donna told me that she’d feel better if I went ahead and got a new battery.  I thought about it and she was right.  I didn’t want to stop for gas or to rest and end up having to call roadside assistance from the BMWMOA and then figuring if the dealer in Marietta, GA, Jacksonville, FL or Daytona Beach, FL was closest should the battery decide to ruin my plans.  I decided to get the Odyssey PC680 battery that comes highly recommended.  I got the battery at BatteriePlus where they had it in stock.  It was kind of ironic that last Saturday the battery in the car went belly up too.

Categories: Maintenance & Repair | Tags: | 2 Comments

Would You Like Curves With That Route?

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.

The curvy roads options in the motorcycling profile.

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Just A 228 Mile Sunday Ride

That’s right we went on a 228 mile ride today.  No it wasn’t a trip, it was a Sunday ride.  It all started the other day when I asked Donna if she wanted to go have lunch at Turner’s Corner Café at the corner of US 129 and Georgia Highway 9 today.  So we got a late morning start and headed up.  Here it is July in Georgia and the forecast was for a high temperature of 85°F, low humidity (rare) and mostly sunny skies.  I played with the GPS software, Basecamp and created a route that would take us up using some local roads we hadn’t been on before and then transferred it to the GPS.  We headed up through Canton, Ballground and Dawsonville before using Georgia Highway 400 for a short time until it ended.  After we made our turn onto Georgia Highway 115 we were only supposed to be on it for a short time before making a left turn and cutting back diagonally on some nice crooked local roads.  But the GPS showed it was 12 miles until our next turn.  I saw what I thought was our turn go past.  For some reason the GPS decided that it wanted to route us up Highway 115 to US 129 which would take us straight to Turner’s Corner Café.  No big deal, we just wanted to have lunch on the river and watch the motorcycles.  Once we got to lunch I brought the GPS in with us and reloaded the route and previewed it.  Sure enough it showed the original route.  I don’t know why the GPS didn’t use the route as planned but this is the second time this has happened.  Both Basecamp and the GPS have the same maps installed.

This was also my first day riding with a new pair of Do-It-Yourself custom molded earplugs.  I got mine from Ear Plug Superstore.  I’ve tried them before but didn’t quite get them right.  This time however I took my time and didn’t second guess the instructions and they worked.  They are harder to get in your ear but have quite a good seal.  This may sound weird but they’re both quieter and noisier.  They’re quieter in that they “muffle” sound well and I needed to turn my intercom up a bit to hear the GPS and Donna.  But they’re noisier in that I think there’s more wind noise than my ETY plugs.  But then that may be a good thing.  I suffer from tinnitus (a ringing in your ears) and if it’s too quiet, the ringing can seem louder, will be irritating and could just make you uncomfortable.  But the new self moldable plugs gave me the “white noise” effect that my hearing aids also supply and my night-time sound machine.

I figured that after lunch we’d head back home as it was just over an hour and a half ride.  But while eating Donna asked “Where are we riding after this?”  So after lunch we backtracked down US 129 a few miles to Georgia Highway 75 Alt until we made our left (northerly) turn onto Georgia Highway 348, the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway.  This curvy stretch of mountain road only runs between Highway 75 Alt and Georgia Highway 180 and isn’t very long.  There are numerous pull-offs to view the Appalachian Mountains.  It’s a very fun and curvy road but there weren’t many motorcycles on it today.  At the RBR’s end we made the turn on to Highway 180 for a very short distance before heading up and over Blood Mountain on US 129 and then headed for Dahlonega and home.

So we had a great Sunday ride of 228 miles.  Oh, and along the way today the Magic Carpet’s odometer reached and passed 82,000 miles.

Categories: Rides | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

The Little Air Pump That Can

It’s the age-old of question of topping off the air pressure of tires conveniently at home.  Yes you can always go to a gas station or convenience store to do it but everything always lists “psi cold” and the tires heat while driving or riding.  I do have a Slime air compressor that works off a 12 volt cigarette lighter plug.  It’s small and gets the job done but it’s seems noisy too.  To do the motorcycle tires I have to get each motorcycle tire over close enough to the car to use the compressor within reach of the cord and the cigarette lighter in the car.  I started looking for a compressor that I could plug into a wall outlet.  I didn’t need anything with an air tank that could power a nailer or other air tool.  I just needed a light duty air compressor to top off tires.

I found a Kobalt 120 PSI electric air compressor at Lowe’s.  It’s a handy little unit and retails for $49.98.  It runs on 120 volt AC current or 12 volts DC using the cigarette lighter plug.  The compressor has a digital tire gauge on it for checking tire pressures and has accessories for inflating sports equipment and air mattresses.  It also has grommets on the front to hold your valve stem caps.  One of the best features is that you can set the pressure you want in the tire, turn the compressor on and it will turn itself off when it reaches the pre-set pressure. No more guessing, checking, pumping and checking.  The air hose and 120 volt cord wrap around the unit and the 12 volt cord is stored in the compressor.  There’s also a compartment for spare valve stem caps, sports needles and air mattress/toy nozzles.  The 12 volt cord is more than ample to reach all four tires on a vehicle but the 120 volt cord is only 21 inches long.  I’ve checked the pressure against both an Accu-Gage dial pressure gauge and a BMW digital tire pressure gauge and it hasn’t been more than one half pound off.  I think it’ll be a handy tool in the garage.  Now I can leave the motorcycle right where it is and top off the pressure in the tires if needed.

In the video below I let 3 pounds of air from the back tire and then set the compressor at 48 PSI.  It stops when it reaches 48.

Pros of the compressor:

  • Runs off of the cigarette lighter in the car or household current.
  • All cords are retained around or in the compressor.
  • Quiet.
  • Digital pressure gauge.
  • Can be set to turn off at a pre-set pressure.
  • 12 volt automobile cord is long enough to reach all four tires.

Cons of the compressor:

  • 120 volt household cord is way too short and requires an extension cord.
  • After 10 minutes of continuous use it should be allowed to cool for 10 minutes.

No you won’t be able to completely fill and set a bead on a tire with this little gem but it’s great for everyday use in maintaining tire pressures.

Categories: Reviews | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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