Ducati Multistrada, the Lemonade Update

Ducati Patch
Credit: Del Campe – Ducati Meccanica

Ok, so we’ve heard from Ducati. Italy.

The word is that despite being (now) 5 months out of warranty, they will honour replacing the parts of both the heated handgrips (~$500) and the rear shock assembly (~$3300). Which is music to my ears.

The unfortunate part is that I still have to foot the labour. I mean I suppose I could technically get the parts and do it myself, or get another mechanic to do it, but essentially the choice is “working bike, pay labour” or “you’re on your own”

What? Oh, how much is the labour and fitting? A “deep breath, figure out which kidney or child to sell,” $675.

Still, I am really happy that they’ve acknowledged the fault, are prepared to replace the parts, and sometime when I get back from my travels, I’ll get my bike back.

Hopefully, rideable.

Yay.

Looking forward to the lemonade from this lemon.

What do you reckon? Is it worth trying to get Ducati to pay for the labour too?

 

Ride Review: My Take On The (Not So New) DVT Multistrada

Finally

It was way back in August that I saw one of the new 2015 DVT (Ducati Variable Timing) Multistrada’s ‘in the wild’ and blogged about the differences. But it has taken until now for me to get to ride one.

Thanks to the great sales team at Frasers, when the service department was out of loan bikes, they lent me a base model Multi.

What a Ride!

The seat is narrower on the new bike. I had no idea just how much narrower until the knobbles in my knees were banging against the trellis frame. Also both calves get hot in traffic, especially the left. It appears the radiator fan blows directly onto your legs.

Confident

The suspension is everything my 2010 Multi was, and so much more. Definitely better than my current bike (hopefully that’s an anomaly). Really confident in the corners in all modes.

Smooth

If anything this bike is smoother again than the previous model. The 2013 introduced dual-spark cylinders to smooth out the ride in low revs, and I’m guessing the DVT does the rest here. Essentially altering the timing of the desmo engine through the rev range.

Confusion

I found the new controls, menus and dash confusing. It seems some of the telemetry of the previous models is missing, but that could be unfamiliarity with the new menu, and that this is a base model.

Interestingly they’ve removed the ‘centre stand assist handle.’ Probably saving on a moving part that few people used.

Worth the Upgrade?

All in all, I loved the ride. If my suspension is a reflection of the 2013 model (rather than a failure) then this alone would be worth the upgrade. If, however, my suspension is improved through the fix, this wouldn’t be worth upgrading to.

Now the new Multistrada Enduro… ūüôā

Free Motorbike Parking?

Multistrada parked at Sydney Airport
For Once, Parked in a genuine motorcycle spot

My second most popular article ever, is Free Parking at Sydney Airport.

One of the reasons is because, well, it’s not click bait. Even today my motorbike is parked at Sydney airport. As you know, I fly a lot, both domestically and internationally, so given the popularity of the post, I was wondering:

Which airport do you park your motorbike at, and is it free?

I’d love to use this blog as a resource for travelling motorcyclists everywhere. Feel free to comment below, or write a full article and reach out to me to guest post.

 

The Ultimate Guide To A Great Ride

The Ultimate Guide To A Great Ride

So you finally wrested permission from the significant financial controller in your life, or are banking on “Forgiveness is easier than permission,” and have bought yourself a motorbike. Or you’re about to. Either way, you plan on firing her up and heading out to the open road.

Firstly, congratulations!! Welcome to the club. For the most part we’re a very social group of people, and you’ll make new friends pretty much everywhere you park your bike. There’s something about sharing near death experiences that builds camaraderie.

Whilst there are heaps of sites that review¬†the best motorcycle gear, (I’ll link to the best of them below.) this guide is to highlight pivotal items you may not have thought of that change every a good ride into a¬†great ride!

1. Mounting Things РThe Quadlock Case & Handlebar Mount

Quadlock Mount MultistradaQuadlock Case & Handlebar Mount (Link gives you 10% discount)

Chances are you have a smartphone. Fantastically enabling technology for the motorcyclist.¬†On the bike you’ll want to use that for everything from podcasts to music, and navigation to location sharing to route tracking. Not to mention selfie videos, tour photos, and communication.

Having it with you in your jacket pocket makes for a good ride, but for a¬†great ride, until we have affordable AR helmets, you’ll want your phone¬†mounted on the handlebars.

The best tool for this, bar none, is the Quadlock Case and Bike Stem Mount.¬†Here’s why:¬†

Flexibility

The mount attaches to the handlebar with 2 zip ties. I.e. it’s easy to mount on just about any motorcycle. I’ve used this on BMW G650, F700, & R1200 GS; the Honda Goldwing & ST1300; a Royal Enfield Bullet 500; and ¬†2¬†Ducati Multistradas.

I have one permanently on my Multi, and a spare I take with me overseas whenever I rent a bike.

Durability

Designed by mountain bikers for mountain bikers, the phone is locked in place with a spring clip. Nothing will dislodge it. Take it from someone who has used these over 60,000 kms across¬†the Himalaya’s, through Death Valley, down to Philip Island, and up to John O’Groats. Neither the roughest terrain, nor torrential downpours have impacted¬†my last three phones (iPhone 5, 6, & 6s+)

Extensibility

Once you have the case, Quadlock produce easy lock mounts for your car, tripod, arm, and belt. And they have an adhesive mount you could stick anywhere: on a desk, a wall, a dashboard. So you simply take it off the bike, and mount it anywhere you need to.

Remember to get your 10% discount here: http://quadlock.refr.cc/SQKF2ZQ

2. Hearing Things РThe Sena SMH-10 Bluetooth Headset

IMG_0430The Sena SMH-10 Bluetooth Headset

Every ride is a good ride, but for a¬†great ride you’ll want to keep eyes on the road, and¬†still connect to people, information and entertainment. The most effective way to do this is through sound.

The best tool for this is with helmet integrated Bluetooth Headset. The most effective I’ve found is the Sena SMH-10¬†which I’ve used since September 2012. Although Sena¬†has since been superseded this with¬†the 20S, and 10C, I still use the SMH-10¬†Here’s why:

Versatility

The Sena will fit pretty much any helmet. You can get both clamp or adhesive mounts, wired or boom mics (good for open face or modular helmets), inset speakers, or a jack for ear buds (you may want ear mold speakers for wind noise mitigation).

Sharing

To my knowledge this is the only BT headset that pairs with every other brand. My experience is that whilst many riders have BT headsets, often others use Scala, or Bauhn (ALDI), or other brand. If you have the Sena you can still connect a BT intercom with them.

Clarity

Apart from navigation, podcasts, and music, I use this as an intercom, to send and receive texts (thanks Siri) and to take calls. Everybody who calls me is¬†surprised when I tell them I’m on the bike. The automatic¬†noise¬†control on the microphone is that good.

Usability

I get 12 hours of life from a single charge. That’s 1.5-2 days on tour, and 5 days of commute at home. Also I have two modules, so it’s easy to pull over at the I5/I405 junction and swap out the flat one.

The jog dial is easy to use even wearing the thickest winter gloves.

I’ll be honest though, I am considering the 10C and combining a helmet cam with the BT headset. Or I might just wait for the IC-R¬†Augmented Reality¬†Helmet.

3. Comfortable Things РShark Explore-R Helmet

You need a helmet, and there are many great helmets to choose from. Since Aug 2014, after 4 years riding¬†with another 5¬†helmets, I¬†settled on¬†the Shark Explore-R Carbon.¬†I also recommend any Shark helmet, and specifically the Vision-R for road riders. Here’s why:

Designed for Headsets

All the new Shark Helmets are designed to integrate with the Sharktooth BT headset. This means there are indents behind the lining for speakers, and indents for cable management. Genius. (& comfortable). These indents work perfectly with the Sena range. That means you don’t have pressure on your ears, or an irritating cable rubbing on the back of your neck.

Seeing things

Both the Explore-R and Vision-R (which share the same shell) have the most visibility of any full face helmet on the market. The peripheral visibility on this helmet is out of this world.

Versatility

Again with the versatility. (Do you spot a trend for me here?) When off-road, or in the mountains, or in winter with low sun, you’ll want a peak & goggles (actually great in the rain too).

When on the track, or in the twisties, you’ll want an Iridium Visor.

At night, or in winter, you might want a clear visor. Perhaps with pinlock.

And when you ride a¬†lot, you’ll want the lightest helmet out there. 10 hours on a dirt track amplifies every 100g of helmet weight.

The Explore-R Carbon provides all this.

But don’t take my word for it. This is deemed the safest and most comfortable helmet in Australia.

4. Tracking Things – GPS Trackers

You know what makes a good ride a terrible one? When you break down, witness, or worse, have an accident and can’t be located. And you don’t have to go very far at all to be hard to find. Most good rides are where roads are twisty, which tend to be in hilly, inaccessible country.

On the other hand, peace of mind for your significant other, wherever you may be on the planet, contributes to (more) great rides.

Glympse

Since 201o I’ve used Glympse on my iPhone to provide real time location tracking. ¬†This is a great app for multiple riders meeting and riding together. You can easily where everyone is if you split up, and can co-ordinate meet-ups etc. Whilst this is fine¬†for urban riding, it isn’t robust enough for long tours.

SPOT

In 2012, I rode my first international, multi-day tour, and knew there would be many times I’d be out of cellular range. This is where the SPOT Personal Tracker came in. This uses the GPS signalling channel to update your position, which can then be fed to a Google map. Once there you can embed the map on your website¬†for anyone anywhere to see you in near real time.

The SPOT also allows you to save mobile numbers & social media accounts for “I’m OK,”¬†and “I need assistance”¬†messages. This is great to contact people even if they aren’t tracking you. And it has an SOS button that will contact Global Emergency Operations Services, who in turn will contact Local Rescue or fly a chopper in if there isn’t a local rescue service.

Spotwalla

Whilst the SPOT is a great device (I still use the Gen 2) the subscription is expensive, and the company really poor to deal with. Also their website needs a major overhaul. They don’t keep your tracks beyond a couple of months. So I use Spotwalla, a free service that allows you to set up all sorts of devices and tracks. They also keep your history in perpetuity, so you can see all my trips for:

Motion-X GPS

Sometimes even SPOT doesn’t guarantee signal. Like in India. Which doesn’t bode well for tracking your ride there. As it turned out I took my SPOT to the Himalayas, and it worked fine. But as a contingency I used the Motion-X GPS app, saved the track, sent this to my Gmail account where I used a combination of IFTTT and Wappwolf rules to get the data to my blog. Here I used the WP-GPX-Maps plugin to embed my daily route on the web.

This took a little effort to set-up, but once done, every day was automated. I simply started Motion-x on my iPad Mini, chucked it in my backpack, and at the end of the day saved and emailed the track to my gmail account.

Actually Motion-X is a phenomenally powerful piece of software. You can download maps from any provider. It connects to GPS so doesn’t need to be in cell range to work, and provides many features of expensive handheld GPS’ like. If you do¬†nothing¬†else, download this software, and use it to track your rides.

5. Remembering Things РAction Cameras

What’s the point of riding alone? For a ride to qualify as great it must be shared.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t found the optimum solution here. I have tried many solutions and have hundreds of hours of video. But to date none meet all the criteria for seamless, safe, easy to mount, easy to manage, great video.

I’ve had a Contour + ROAM2 helmet mounted camera; a couple of GoPros (Hero 3+ Black, 4 Silver); and the Liquid Image Torque 369 HD Goggles.

The Contour was designed to attach to a helmet, which you¬†can do with the GoPro. As soon as you attach a camera to a helmet, however, you add¬†weight, it’s¬†unsightly, potentially illegal, and depending on how you land in an off, could be dangerous.

Current cameras¬†also add hassle before a ride with alignment and ensuring batteries are charged. During a ride you’re either constantly deciding whether to record something, or recording everything which makes editing a nightmare later.

From an aesthetic & safety perspective, the Torque goggles are the best . There are no protruding bits and the camera is positioned between your eyes. But it’s tough to find a road oriented helmet, even a dual-sport helmet with a big enough viewport (enter the Explore-R). Even so, these goggles significantly constrain peripheral vision, which is ok at 25kph in the Himalayas, not so much at 120kph on the Pacific Coast Highway.

You can mount the GoPro on the bike, but I’ve found no place is ideal, easy or cheap. In fact you’ll probably end up wanting to change it up during a ride for¬†compelling¬†video. Again a continual hassle.

All of the action cameras have ample battery life, and changeable batteries. Whereas the remote battery life is woeful. Great for a 10 minute run down the road, but for the 10 hour day from Leh over the Khardung La, not so much.

I think the best solution is probably the Innovv K-1 Motorbike Dash Cam. This dual-lens system is permanently mounted on the bike discretely front and back. As the primary purpose is for evidence in an incident or accident, the system includes an integrated GPS, is powered by the bike, and set to begin recording with the ignition. It also comes with a handlebar remote, wifi connectivity, and a smartphone app. The HD video from the device looks plenty good enough for ride recording. Which makes it the perfect system for your ride at home.

For touring I’m considering the Sena 10S as I have a BT system anyway, and the GoPro with a Quadlock mount or (homemade zip tie mounts) to clip the camera onto various bars on the bike.