Sunday, July 25, 2010

Back on the home front with a bloody maria

Well, I forgot to check the front end to make sure nothing was coming loose. But all was fine anyway.

My top speed was 75. I guess the speedometer on old Molly needed some warming up. Still, it only went to 70, but the needle wasn't jumping up and down like it did going 65.

It actually was a little windy today with the impending rain on its way through the Tri-State area. We made it back to Brooklyn before it fell, and settled down for a beer and a bloody maria (a bloody mary with tequila) at one of our favorite haunts, Superfine, in Dumbo.

I didn't know before how many miles Molly would get on a gallon of gasoline. Riding only in the city, Molly got only about 35. Sometimes 25 if there are a lot of red lights. Today, I felt the engine sputter and thought the tank might have been close to empty, so I switched the gas line to reserve and went to the next gas station. Turns out it wasn't low fuel. It was probably a dirty carburetor. Molly's right side has been backfiring and I keep forgetting that I have to clean it. Anyway, on one gallon riding on highways and up and down mountain roads, she got 70 mpg.

We went to Bear Mountain in downstate New York. At 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the shade from the trees was a nice relief from the sweltering highways. Since I replaced the brake caliper myself, I was a little nervous going down a mountainside, so I stayed slow-- about as slow as cagers drive. The brakes worked. Molly rocked. We rode back up the mountain, went to Bear Mountain State Park, enjoyed the view, took pictures, talked to strangers on bikes...(It's a big biker destination. Even Harley riders are friendly. Hahaha. I'm teasing.)

Jason rides a Triumph Scrambler, and when we ride together, he usually gets all the love from admirers. But today on Bear Mountain, Molly got love from a guy who said the CX500 C was his first bike. He asked where my fender was. Oh yeah, so we were going to replace the fender yesterday before leaving, and after removing the tire, found out that the fender brackets are 5 mm short of the fork holes. Either have to drill new holes in the fender, get the proper front fender, or make my own. If I didn't work full time, I'd make my own. I'll probably drill holes. So, I also mentioned to the guy that Molly's foot pegs come from a Deluxe, and handlebars were a spare part that came with Jason's old CB350, which he doesn't have anymore.

All in all, my first ride out of New York City was fun. Jason said I didn't do anything stupid. That's good. I was definitely more cautious having swapped out the front end without a professional mechanic. Today's ride was more comfortable than yesterday, I guess cause I realized that wind is normal. If there were no cars on the road, I would have been more aggressive. We did ride on Seven Ponds Road, which had very few cars. The speed limit was 40, but it was so clear, I had to go a little faster.

Now back in Brooklyn, we've relaxed from the ride, made it inside before the rain, and settled with some cold beverages. Bloody maria for me. Mmmm. Cheers.

Above: Footage Jason got after we got back to Brooklyn from Bear Mountain. Notice at the end, the evasive move. There was an SUV double-parked. Got ready for it to pull out, just in case.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Icon Hella Street Angel boots review

They look funky with the red detail, and the hardware looks cool, but these boots are not for riders.

Maybe it's fine for passengers, but I could not ride my bike with these boots. Could not even walk in them. They are inflexible. I could not lift my toe to shift. They look cheap. The heels are plastic and the ankle protector is located too high. Didn't even cover the malleolus.

At least the sizing is correct. But besides that, if you want a good riding boot, don't bother with these.

Riding Upstate

After 2 hours on the road, all I can say is, "I'm pooped."

I've got to write this down, because I don't want to forget what it was like riding on the highway for the first time.

I had no idea how fast I was going until asking Jason, because my speedometer gets stuck between 50 and 60. I knew we weren't going that fast. It felt windy, so I kept the speed a bit slow. Little did I realize that the wind I felt was from riding. The air was actually pretty still.

Now that I'm aware of how windy it feels in the driver's position, I'll probably roll the throttle just a little more tomorrow.

We spent about an hour on highways. Even though our route was supposed to take us onto winding slow roads, I missed an exit and kept going until there seemed to be an alternate route. Though there was an opportunity to get back on the planned route, I decided to stay on the highway. It was a winding highway-- fun to ride.

Molly rode triumphantly.

We got to our destination, the Cider Mill Inn, a bed and breakfast in Pine Island, New York. It's a quaint house just off County Road 26 in Orange County with a tepid pool and all kinds of charm. And wifi. After checking in and a dip in the pool, we took off toward the village of Warwick.

The roads were pleasant under the trees with plenty of curves and clear pavement with just a few areas of farm dirt from tractor wheels and some other rough spots from road wear. We took Route 1, Pine Island Turnpike, enjoyed the scenic ride, then parked on Main Street and walked around.

On a Saturday evening, the town was quiet. But we found a nice place to eat with air conditioning and friendly waitresses next door to an antique shop that offered complimentary local fruit, I guess because there was so much. Nice welcome.

Tomorrow we hit the winding roads again. Gotta remember to check Molly front end before we leave.

First highway ride

Today I will take my first solo ride on a highway. I suppose at this point I might be a better mechanic than rider given the amount of time I've spent working on the two vintage bikes I've ever ridden.

To prepare for today's trip out of the city and into the beautiful wooded upstate New York scenery, I had to make sure everything worked properly on old Molly. A previous owner butchered her electrical harness, so over the past few week I worked on restoring the wiring as close to stock as possible (a bit difficult since the harness doesn't match Molly's year). The biggest challenge to achieve this was getting all the connectors and wires to fit behind the headlamp inside the headlight bucket.

Now that everything is working, I'm excited to get on the road!

We decided to route out a way that takes less highway than necessary, since I have no idea how Molly will do at high speeds. I've never ridden more than 60 mph. Also, I've replaced her front end by myself. (Previously she had a Deluxe front end, and I've replaced a proper Custom front end with a dual-pot brake caliper.) It's a little scary to ride the highway needless to say. But we've torqued the essential bolts and the axle to proper specs, and everything is aligned. I think Molly will be fine.

It's hot and partially sunny today. Over 90 degrees. I have my white mesh jacket and a brand new pair of textile pants, which unfortunately are black, but there's little choice for women. I would wear my brand new women's Icon Hella boots, but I can't even bring my toes up to shift. The design is poor, and the quality cheap. You can tell the heel is made of plastic wrapped in leather. They're so inflexible that you can't even walk or, as mentioned already, shift. What about brake? How am I supposed to brake if I can't even move my ankle? C'mon Icon, you can do better than these boots.

I better pack. Jason has reserved a B&B for tonight. First thing tomorrow morning, a Sunday, we will ride the winding roads of the countryside. Also a first! Exciting :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

First ride in the rain

In February, Jason got me a 1981 Honda CX500 Custom. I named her Molly and rode her instead of Georgia, which was too small to pass big trucks on the highway. Molly had some electrical issues, but I fixed them. It also seemed that one of her forks might have been bent, and she veered off a bit to one side.

Before getting Molly inspected, we had her tires changed and had the mechanic look at the forks. Sure enough, the left fork was bent. Of course we had to get the forks changed asap.

To make a long story short, after learning that Molly had been put together with parts from at least 4 different bikes-- including three different models-- getting replacements became a two-and-a-half month-long search and wait.

I put the front end together myself. The triple tree, forks and axle came from an 82 Custom in Texas. The caliper came from an 82 Custom in the Midwest.

Finally, today, after receiving the last part-- an air hose for the air-assisted front forks-- I got to ride. It was a dark and cloudy day today, but Jason and I had places to go. So, off we went.

Just minutes into the ride, it started to rain. I was a little nervous, because it was the first time I ever rode my own bike while it rained. I had ridden before on wet pavement, but not while drops were falling. It had also been over two months since riding, so it took some time to get my motorcycle legs back. On top of that, I didn't put the front fender back on. I liked how it looked without it, and well, I didn't think I'd ride in the rain.

Alas, with all the excitement of receiving the last part, riding Molly was imperative.

The water naturally came up off the front tire like a geyser. I must have ridden over an oil slick, because at one point the geyser splashed brownish water on my helmet. And, since the headlamp had been bent from a previous rider's crash, a little water got inside where all the wires are connected. Fortunately, nothing seemed to short. If anything I think the water helped keep the poorly connected blinkers working.

Fortunately, it was a short intermittent summer rain and traffic was light. The heat dried up the streets pretty quickly, so it wasn't too scary. I liked it actually-- riding in the rain, that is. Except next time, I'll have the fender on.