Driveway Hopping

The clear weather gets everyone excited to be outside. Evan, Archer, and Sawyer were enjoying the sun and their wheels.

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Vulcan 900 Classic or How I Embraced a Cruiser

I’ve complained about cruisers being boring and overall sub-optimal motorcycles. I don’t think that’s changed, but I’ve come to embrace that as another facet of motorcycling.

My first bike was a cruiser (a Vulcan as well, though very different), I’ve also ridden cruisers at Harley-Davidson and Victory demos. While neither of those won me over, I did find things that I enjoyed.

For Harley, it was the classic look of the Heritage Softail Classic (I’m not even trying to decode the model). It looked beautiful and felt substantial. It also drug floorboards on every turn and had a serious case of false-neutrals. Including one that required me to come to a complete stop to get it unstuck. Yeah it shook and rattled … but that was some of the charm.

The Victory felt smooth. The more modern motor and chassis were just more capable. I just couldn’t get behind the style of them. Yes, it’s unique and different, but it didn’t speak to me in the way a cruiser should. I think there was  a veil of performance cast on them which is not what a cruiser is about.

Why was I even looking? That’s a good question. My wife was talking to my friend’s wife about taking a short weekend trip. I was really excited, but then it sunk in that my Scrambler is not setup for this task. After sarcastically saying, “how big of a backpack do you plan on wearing.” We started talking about adding a bike with some more passenger and luggage capabilities.

My search was pretty casual. Look at those Softails, realize that I had no intention of spending that amount of money on a part time bike. Then move on. After a few weeks I opened up my criteria a bit and looked at some of the entry level Dynas. I’d have to change a lot to get the look and feel of what I wanted. While cheaper than the Softail, the Dynas were going to cost a lot in modifications. 

Eventually I ended up at Superstar Cycle Center’s website and was just scrolling through their cruiser inventory. While wading through the bikes with ape hangers or questionable taste in paint and accessories this white and grey bike jumped out at me. A quick message to my wife, was responded to with a “that’s really pretty.” Exactly what I thought.

I mulled it over a bit. I’ve been spoiled by premium motorcycles (Triumph, BMW, Harley). Japanese cruisers always seem like wannabes. It’s only a 900 cc motor. Wouldn’t the 1500 cc be better. It looks heavy. I bet it’s slow and handles like crap. 

Oh well, I went to test ride it anyway!

This is a super mellow bike, in a good way. The undersized motor is more than adequate to haul this thing around. There’s enough ground clearance that I haven’t put metal to pavement, yet. And, I’m not trying to make it anything other than what it is. A big, comfy cruiser that handles a passenger well, takes some luggage (already on it!), and looks really nice! 

While the allure for the Harley is still there, for the price difference, I’d rather buy another sport bike AND a supermoto to round out the stable. This bike hasn’t taken away from my Scrambler either. If anything, I appreciate the Scrambler more than I did and it’s opened up to make some of the modifications that I’d been wanting to make. A win in all directions.

 

 

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Modifications to my Scrambler

This video is a walkthrough of the modifications that I’ve made to my 2013 Triumph Scrambler.

  • British Customs Retro Blinkers (front and rear)
  • BC Front Signal Relocation
  • BC Rear Signal Relocation
  • BC Fender Eliminator
  • BC Retro Taillight
  • Biltwell Grips
  • Metzeler Lasertec Tires
  • BC O2 Sensor Removal
  • BC SAI Removal
  • Airbox Snorkel Removed
  • Airbox Baffle Removed
  • Airbox Cover Clearanced
  • VW Beetle Tailpipes (from Vee Village)
  • Tank Pad Removal
  • Standard Bonneville Shocks (1″ shorter)
  • Custom Tune with TuneECU

I’m pretty strapped for time so these have all been wonderfully quick and easy. Some of the pieces have been more costly than I would like (the O2 and AI removal kits), but the convenience of not having to track down the bolts and the finish of the pieces made the extra money worth it.

This bike makes me smile every time I get on it. It’s not as fast as my Speed Triple R was. It’s doesn’t have as much swagger as my Nightster did. It’s not nearly as versatile as the BMW G650GS was. But, I love this thing. These modifications have made the bike feel like mine, like an extension of me. I know that sounds silly, but it’s true.

If you have any questions about what I’ve done, please let me know in the comments!

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Commute

My life situation and schedule have hanged quite a bit and I no longer commute via motorbike as much as o used to. This week, I was able to ride every single day. 

Yes, I work in a cave. 

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Doing Work

Sometimes our most fun is when we’re working the hardest. These two videos are Evan and I working on getting some of our basic skateboarding skills down better. It’s hard, but in the end it’s really rewarding.

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Some Love from British Customs

A while back I made a long, tedious video of installing the British Customs Fender Eliminator and Turn Signal Relocation kit. The clever people over there picked it up and posted on their blog!

Thanks to Scott for the tip!

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Broken

It’s all broken.

The TV was destroyed by a raging four year old and Wii remote.

My phone isn’t receiving iMessages over cell.

The lone PC in the house was (on purpose) upgraded to Windows 10.

My RAID DAS is flashing red just two days after I copied all of my data to it.

Bacteria has invaded my sinuses and lungs.

On the plus side, I’ve got a wonderful wife and family. I’ve got a job to go to tomorrow. I got a sweet new Santa Cruz patch from Ollie Crate and today I installed Grafana and InfluxDB … so I guess it’s not all bad.

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Change Everything

Change everything.

That’s what I seem to do. On this day, one year ago, Mary and I were preparing for the arrival of our baby. I had taken one week off of work and would go back to a new job once that leave was over.

Everything changed.

I was done having kids. Until this one. I quit a job I had been at for over eleven years. It was scary. It was exciting. These were the best decisions I ever made.

This year I’m doing something similar. Mary and I just married on the 17th and on the 23rd I’ll be leaving the best job I’ve had. It is scary. It is exciting. These may be the best decisions I ever make.

After eleven years at one job things become boring. Some of the job was so rote that I was starting to make stupid mistakes. I wasn’t performing as well as I knew I could or should. I’m also at the age where technical proficiency is coming to its last gasp. I knew if I didn’t start to push myself, I would fall behind.

Taking the job at the National Weather Service pushed me. I knew going in that I didn’t have some of the required skills. I’d never worked on a high traffic website. I’d never worked with some of the networking gear we used. More than that, I’d never worked at such a large organization.

The department I was in was mercifully small and it felt like a small dot-com. The learning curve was dramatic as. I was hired in as the Sr. System Administrator and the previous Sys Admin was gone except for on-call. There was Jr. Admin who was difficult to work with. This was a puzzle.

I had around two hours total with the previous Admin. He sketched out the main pieces. Networks. What servers did what. The basics.

Those first few months were some of the hardest but most rewarding months of my life. Put into the sink-or-swim position, I knew I had to swim.

Learning the networks. Learning to tune Apache and Memcached. Learning to work with developers using agile methods. These were phenomenal experiences.

After a few months there was some reorganization. The little dot-com was swallowed up by a larger piece of the organization. The fast, light, agile methods were replaced with meetings, forms, and authorizations. Release cycles were delayed. Changes were carefully worded so as not to fall under certain controls. It was an exercise in frustration

Tools that should make the life of a Sys Admin easier were implemented in a way that didn’t fit with a modern website. So I found something else and quit.

I’m sad. The mission was noble. The people were great. But I was feeling ineffective. Time was spent mulling over how to get changes made, not making changes.

I’m moving on. I’ll be facing a whole new slew of technologies that I’m rusty on. There will be challenges. There will be legacy systems. There will be resistance.

There will also be learning. Staying relevant in a field that changes fast. New relationships. New contacts.

My last round of “change everything” was driven by a new life. A baby that I needed to support. This change everything is driven my a completion of that family. Marriage, kids, step-kids. All driving me forward. Without them I wouldn’t have made this move. I’ll be forever thankful.

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Waste not, want not. 

Ever since I bought my ’13 Bonnie I’ve been bolting on aftermarket items and I’ve started to accumulate spare stock parts. They have been sitting and collecting dust in my garage. As I was sitting in my garage enjoying a delicious beverage I started to look around and take an inventory of the junk that has started to overtake my space. I was getting a little uncomfortable sitting on a stack of spare shingles in the corner. It was then that I saw my stock seat from the T100 (or the ironing board as I have called it since the moment I rode the Bonnie out of the shop). I grabbed it off the shelf and sat it down on top of the shingles. It was actually rather comfortable. That’s when I had my idea: to make a shop bench out of it.

[ This guest post is courtesy of Scott Sowers. When not teaching science, he can be found doing home improvement projects, being a dad, being a husband, and maybe riding a motorcycle. — ed.]

IMG_0261.JPGI grabbed another beer and got to work. I need to take a second to say that I am a new father as of July 31st, so my attention has been primarily on my daughter. I get few moments to myself and they come generally only when she is napping. So let’s just say that time was working against me. This wasn’t going to be a pretty creation. It was just something fun to do. I grabbed a box of screws, my screwgun, and my saw and started throwing scrap wood in a pile outside.

IMG_0262.JPGIn the corner of my garage was an old rickety ladder left by the previous homeowners. A few weeks ago when my dad was over he told me he liked it and wanted to take it home but it didn’t quite fit in his truck. Well we fixed it – we sawed off about 2 feet from the bottom! For some reason I kept the extra bit of the ladder (probably for firewood for the winter). That became the base of the bench. The rest of the wood was simply scraps. I reinforced it so that it wouldn’t collapse under my weight and mounted the saddle to the top. There was no measuring; just eyeballing. It looked good but something was missing. I grabbed the stock pipes and a couple of pieces of wood, and before long my bench had some shiny chrome!

This is not a masterpiece by any stretch, but it’s my creation. It looks perfect in the garage with the rest of my stuff, and it’s actually not a bad place to sit and contemplate when I need an escape from the daily grind.

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Distinguished Gentelmen’s Ride 2015

Unfortunately, I won’t be doing this ride this year. But, you can still contribute! Via Jeff Remsburg’s page.

Jeff and I chatted a little at last year’s ride and rolled out on our Triumphs a few weeks afterward to get a nice fall ride in.

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