Is That an Armchair?

by Rog42 on 6 April 2014

in Motorbike,SE Corner Tour

Key_largo_for_lunchAs before, with ad hoc bike rental, I continued my trend of riding bikes I haven’t had a chance to ride yet. I figured Miami to the Keys is essentially a straight motorway run, so I’d rent a tourer. My choice was limited to just about any Harley ever produced (and that’s not happening. Ever!), a Honda ST1300, which I rode in my UK trip last year, or a Honda Goldwing.

So my trusty steed for this adventure was the Goldwing. A brand new, 6-cylinder, boxer engined, 1.8l “car on two wheels,” complete with 4 speaker radio, reverse gear, and acres of luggage space. As other bikers disparagingly refer to as “an armchair.” Of course if you’re going to spend entire days on straight motorways, without so much as a bend, fire trail, or bump in sight, you’d probably rather be in an armchair than on a super bike or dual-sport.

Leviathan

This is a BIG bike. A beast that makes the 240kg BMW R1200GS feel like a moped. If this baby falls over, you simply are Not. Lifting. It. Up. Ever! And I don’t even want to think of a leg trapped under this machine. Best not to have reason to.

Initial impressions are of surprising acceleration considering the bulk of the bike. It’s shaft drive, so you’re not going to beat any sports bikes at the lights, but it would be a +$100k sports car to give you a serious run for your money. Of course this bike is so big you’re never going to filter to the front of the lights to find out. But navigating the 4 & 5 lane Florida Turnpike down to US1 was a treat.

You do have to roll power on as you lean into a corner, rather than waiting for the apex. It has a serious tendency to oversteer and drop. Of course counter-steering just makes this worse on a bike, but a handful of throttle gets you around without too many underwear stains.

The weight of the bike lends to a stability that misleads the senses. I noticed Archie dropping way behind as we left Miami, and a quick glance at the speedo brought me up; I was cruising at 95 mph (152 kph). You simply don’t notice the speed. The engine is hardly breaking a sweat, there is no vibration, and whilst there’s turbulence over the top of the windshield, it’s not noticeably different at higher speeds.

Creature Comforts

I’m in Florida, so 5 of the 6 pre-set FM radio stations are Hispanic, which was ok for the time it took me to get used to the layout of the controls and dashboard. Of course you need serious volume to overcome wind noise above 40 mph, and the speakers certainly crank it out. But that doesn’t detract from the actual wind noise. I found the Bluetooth headset in my helmet produced far better quality music, without ads, and knowing glances at traffic lights.

As to that armchair. There is no question that your butt sinks into the plush bucket shaped saddle. Together with the suspension, and simple bulk of the bike, it soaks up most highway impediments. We took 5 hours to get to the Key, and 4 hours back to Eagle Riders next to Miami airport, and there was no hint of iron butt syndrome. And the pillion seat looks even better, with a plush back rest, and footboards rather than pegs. If you’re ever going to be a pillion, this would be the bike to do that on.

Peg-to-seat distance is ok. You’re low down so you can put your legs down at the lights whilst straddling a baby hippo. But the pegs are under you, not in front like a cruiser. This means you don’t get lower back crushes when you hit a pothole. It doesn’t feel like your knees are around your ears, which is how I felt on the ST last year.

The handle bars, however, are another story entirely. I found them too low, which caused serious back pain across my thorax. Nothing I could do, short of standing on the pegs, would alleviate the pain in my back. Perhaps I’m too used to the high, wide, adventure tourer style bars, or simply too old. I did have a massage when we got to Key West, and that along with a couple of Ibuprofen midway through day two, made this manageable. But if I was to buy a large tourer like this, I’d be testing the BMW’s, or installing risers.

Another gripe was the windshield. Bizarrely this is electronically controllable on the ST (i.e. you can raise or lower the windshield), but a fixed feature item on the GW. Its height put a bunch of turbulent air right at my brow. At anything over 40 mph with my visor open, the buffeting would shake my head so hard I couldn’t focus my eyes and my neck hurt. With the visor closed there was still significant buffeting and the greenhouse effect of the Florida sun. Of anything, this is the one item that would put me off ever buying a Goldwing (not that there’s any threat of that).

Money Sink

This is an expensive piece of kit. And one view would be all the value that you get for your money.

If your riding is on the motorways of Europe or the Interstates of the USA, and you’re going to be spending weeks of long days in the saddle, with perhaps a significant, non-rider, other in the back seat; I could see this being a viable option. There’s no question that the luggage space, audio, and seat comfort lends itself to the grey nomad lifestyle.

But be prepared to spend a LOT of money. This thing guzzles fuel like there’s no tomorrow. I easily used more than double what Archie did, over the identical distance at the identical speed. I reckon this thing used more fuel than my car. Certainly a lot more than the Duc.

Then there’s the non-std mod cons you’d be adding: An aux input for your MP3 player, GPS, and adjustable windshield for starters.

If, however, you want to ride your bike more often than the annual motorway tour, or retirement plan, I just don’t get the attraction.

Perhaps it’s a Ducati thing.

I’d love to actually run the numbers, and compare this to an open top roadster. I’m not sure there’d be a lot in it.

There’s Never Too Bad a Day…

…to have a great ride.

I certainly needed to cross this bike off the “bikes I haven’t ridden” list, and I’ve done that.

Was it fun? Sure.

Archie and I had a great time. What’s not to love cruising down the Keys alongside Azure Blue water on a motorbike? Any motorbike.

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Thanks

by Rog42 on 30 March 2014

in Life, the Universe and Everything (else)

Where do you go when you've achieved one of your goals? Well on to the next one of course. For me, since raising $2000 personally, and more importantly contributing to a team goal of $6000 for the Leukaemia foundation, that's to ride a motorbike to the south-eastern most corner of the continental United States.

Ironically that's on an island called Key West.

First though it's imperative to acknowledge no-one really achieves anything on their own. Two weeks after the shave, with a velvety haircut that's about a month from acceptable, I'd like to shout out everyone who supported us in this endeavour:

Firstly, the long-suffering Lucy, with my daughters Amanzi, Charis, Lead, and Em. Not only are they wearing the continual embarrassment that affiliation with me incurs: “It's ok, he's just done the shave for leukaemia,” but they actually dug into their own wallets and donated hard earned cash to the cause. Anyone who donates more than 4 hours wages to charity is pretty inspirational in my books. Thanks.

Then to my unlikely partners in crime, Adrian, Tony, and Rodney. They shed their good looking locks (well Adrian did anyway) and went cap-in-hand to their friends. No easy task. All of them WGS virgins. No longer. Now inducted into the halls of folk who invest their time and pride for a good cause. Thanks guys. Your hair will grow back soon. And you should be proud at raising as much as we did for your first time.

Those that deserve the most thanks of course are you, readers, friends, family and supporters. Your immediate and unwavering generosity never ceases to amaze me. Thank you. I promised not to come for another cause this year, and fully intend to honour that commitment.

Very few people figure out how to buy happiness with money. This ingeniously simple trick is to spend it on others. I hope you enjoy all the blessings that make it better to give than receive. I won't call out names individually to respect privacy. Those that are happy to be publically acknowledged have already indicated this at http://rog42.tv/shave14

And Ewan? He and Kate celebrated Love, Life, and Happiness with a simple exchanging of vows at a reception in their garden at home. A brief respite for Ewan, and a poignant reminder of all that is truly important.

$6000 raised, thank you.

 

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This year I’m asking you my readers, friends and family to support me in just one charitable cause: Once again I’m shaving my head to raise awareness and funds for the Leukaemia Foundation. But for 2014 it will be my only fund-raising drive.

Looking Ruggedly Handsome Looking Ruggedly Handsome

Over the past decade or so it seems I’ve raised funds for them all:

  • Red Cross,
  • Salvation Army,
  • Oxfam,
  • Black Dog Institute (up to twice a year),
  • Movember,
  • CanToo,
  • and of course the Leukaemia Foundation with the World’s Greatest Shave.

And it seems like the number of worthy causes are increasing too:

  • World Vision,
  • Room to Read,
  • Beyond Blue,
  • Police Community Youth Clubs,
  • Rural Fire Service
  • Baptist World Aid,
  • Campus Crusade,
  • Kiva,
  • South Pacific Ministeries
  • HELP Orphanage in Bangladesh
  • Dayspring Children’s Village in South Africa
  • and Operation Mobilisation  are just some of those we regularly support.

So this year, whilst we’re not giving up on any of our personal support of charitable organisations, or sponsorship of friends like you doing crazy things for a good cause, I’ve resolved to do the sponsorship ask just the once.

The World’s Greatest Shave

You long time friends know that I’ve done this particular effort before. But this year it’s more personal. You see, a good friend, a bloke just like me, has been battling Leukaemia for some time. Ewan Hunt, around my age, technologist, dad, husband, ex-pat, and overall great guy (despite being Scottish) is the most positive person I’ve had the opportunity to meet. And when you spend time at hospital with a close friend, you realise just how important it is to beat this illness. How important it is to support people like Kate, his wife, so she can visit him, whilst caring for their 4 year old son, Finlay. So that his teenage daughter, Eilidh, can spend time with her dad.

Now I think Ewan has always been bald. Certainly as long as I’ve known him. So I’m empathising with his age as much as the effects of his treatment. The personal risk? I guess my hair may come back white. Or not at all. So be it. Please do sponsor me, and support people just like Ewan and Kate. Heck, just like you and me.

And if you can’t afford to sponsor financially, for whatever reason, that’s ok. I understand, I really do. Just looking at that list of causes above reminds me of the demand on our resources. If that’s the case, please send a message of encouragement (or ridicule): On Facebook, Twitter, as a comment below, or on my WGS Profile. Please take the time, a minute perhaps, to let us know your thoughts and prayers are with us.

But if you can spare a Dollar (Rand, Pound, Yen, Ruble, Euro) then please do join us and support this great cause too. Here’s the link:

http://rog42.tv/shave14

Can we raise $2,000?

Up for a Personal Challenge?

And if you’d like to raise more for the cause than you could ever donate yourself? If you’d like to challenge yourself to leave your comfort zone? We’d love you to join our team: No Kill Switch on Baldness. (Btw if you’re already bald, how about committing to wear a wig for a week :-))

http://rog42.tv/wgs2014

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Shopping for Bike Gear

by Rog42 on 24 February 2014

in Haiku,Motorbike

Shark, Shoei or Bell
Dainese, or Alpinestars
Enjoying the spend.

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Roast Beef

by Rog42 on 23 February 2014

in Family

All the girls over
For Sunday lunch of roast beef
And Yorkshire puddings

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