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.
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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.
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.
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.
- 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.
It’s review time again! I received a Back Seat Roll Bag from Viking Bags to try out and review. If you go to Viking Bags you’ll notice that most of their luggage is made for cruiser motorcycles such has Harley Davidson and the metric cruiser style motorcycles. It looks like nice stuff too. You’ll even notice that BMW is not even listed as one of the choices for saddlebags. I agreed again to give a fair review so here it goes.
The bag is a cylinder and made of heavy-duty Cordura nylon. It has a plastic insert in the bag so that it holds it shape even when empty and won’t collapse. On each end there’s a zippered extension that lengthens the bag about 4 inches. There’s an included removable shoulder strap and easy to install rain cover. The zippered “hatch” to get into the bag has a mesh organizer pocket on the inside. The bag has a carry handle. It’s a well made bag.
When I first received the bag I wasn’t sure that I could even use it on a BMW K1200LT. The instructions and video showed it being mounted to a back rest, sissy bar or a much narrower seat. I got concerned. I tried it on my top case rack and it was definitely a “no-go” as it wasn’t secure enough and moved around too much. Since it mentioned the passenger grab rails, I decided to try mounting it to the side case/passenger grab handles on the side cases. I decided to try it with the attached wide Velcro straps and it went right on. I just passed the straps through the handles and back on themselves so that the Velcro would grab (just like they were intended to do). I just took the extra and folded in and then tucked it up under the bag. I also tried the narrower and removable straps but the bag was harder to mount and didn’t feel as secure. I mounted it to the back seat again using the wide straps and snugged it down. I filled it with a tool bag, towel and some other items. I could rock the bag forward and back just a bit (hey it’s a roll bag isn’t it?) but there was absolutely no side to side movement. I intentionally did not fill the bag all the way and filled it with heavy items to increase the chance of it moving around. I then took the bag for a ride on some local roads and on the highway. In my blind spot mirrors I could see the bag rock forward and back less than and inch. The bag never moved sideways (a good thing) and the extra length of the straps never came out from under the bag and flapped in the wind. I didn’t try the rain cover.
The bag was not made for the kind of motorcycle I was using it on but it adapted very well. This this would be an excellent piece of luggage on something like a Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic, Suzuki C50T or C90T or Yamaha V-Star Silverado. I’m sure there’s many others but I know those models have passenger back rests. Actually it would easily fit on any motorcycle with a passenger back rest. The bag would attach to the supports of the back rest very easily or the back rest itself and you could even use the extra supporting straps. I can see that the bag could either sit on the back seat in front of the passenger back rest or behind it even on a small luggage rack if you had a passenger with you. The plastic insert in the bag is rigid enough it could sit on a small luggage rack and not sag. If I had a cruiser style motorcycle I’d be using this bag all that time as it’s that durable and easy to install.
The roll bag is available at Vikingbags “dot” com. You can click on any of the images below for the full-sized picture.
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.
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!
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.
It was a beautiful day to go out riding today. We met some friends and we headed up to Young Harris, Georgia. From our meeting location in Jasper, GA to home we totaled 216 miles on the Magic Carpet today. We took some nice roads that we’ve been on numerous times but that doesn’t make them any less fun. We stopped in at Rider’s Hill near Dahlonega to look around before heading for our planned lunch stop at the Brasstown Valley Resort for their Pasta, Soup, Salad & Dessert Buffet!
Usually I cringe when I get behind a car with a Florida license plate while riding in the mountains. It seems like those “flatlanders” are either scared to ride on mountain roads (but want to) or just don’t know how. Today was different though. We came up behind a SUV with a Florida tag and they were moving right along but then at the first paved pull off they reached, they pulled off and waved as we went past.
After lunch I forgot to put my ear plugs back in and realized it as soon as Donna said something in the intercom. Everyone was already loaded up and ready to go, so I toughed it out. I rode back down to Dahlonega where Sean stopped for gas and I hated it! While Sean and Christine gassed up I put my ear plugs back in. This was also my first long ride with the mesh jacket. The other day I wore it and was sweating good underneath the back padding. I’ve since taken the back pad out and I’ll just risk it with the shoulder and elbow armor. The highest temperature we saw today was 87 degrees and I don’t think I was any warmer with the jacket. But when stopped in traffic I did seem a bit warmer. But as soon as we started moving, the breeze through the mesh of the jacket felt good. I’ve never felt that with a just a shirt on. While moving down the road I think I was actually cooler with the jacket though. I got the jacket in hi-vis green and I think the fact that the sun is not shining on my arms makes me feel cooler. I’m going to keep wearing the jacket in the summer.
As usual, we had a great time riding!