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Trinity Street Christmas Lights

Last week I went on a ride around my hood, and took a detour via Trinity Street, where each winter the neighbours have a Christmas Lights competition for charity

Indian Arm ride

P1030630

Last weekend myself and my workforce proximity associate who just got a brand new Husky FE350 went up Mamquam Road to ride to the top of the Indian Arm Inlet from the Squamish side.

I had never gone on that ride before but I heard a lot of good things about it, so I was pretty excited that I finally was going to do it. Having seen the video by the Overland Jeep club I was preparing for the baby head-sized boulders, washouts and blockade crossings; but ended up doing a really chill low-key ride. Both of us brought extra fuel (a gallon each), which, as we later learned, was unnecessary.

Husqvarna FE350 and Suzuki DRZ400 Sea To Sky
My fuel bottle was not filled yet at this point

The meeting point was at 9 am Lions Bay General Store. We were having coffee, while my buddy was equipping my helmet with a Sena communicator, a GoPro 4 and a power bank (we ended up taking a lot of footage, which I will edit and have posted sometime in the next couple of weeks).

By 9.30 we were on the road. I had a difficult choice to make as I was getting dressed, because since it was October, the shaded long stretches of the highway would have been cold, but I didn’t want to be too hot on the relatively sunny road to Indian Arm at a later time. So I decided to put on a windbreaker in between the armor and the Scoyco mesh jacket (I should have taken a scarf too, but it was bearable without one).

I am glad that I did, because it did get pretty hot after 11, and it would have been utmost unpleasant in my full cordura jacket.

With a couple stops here and there, including one where I went down after loosing traction on a wet wooden bridge (we spent about 15 minutes reattaching my seat as one of the non-OEM bolts was too short and bent, and it felt out).

The road was pretty straightforward, and we had no problems navigating ourselves to the very end. There were a few spots that would have been tricky for a 2WD sedan, but two light trail bikes had absolutely no problems making it through.

Norton Lake Squamish BC
At the far end of Norton Lake

At around 12.30 PM we made it to the end of the road, took a few pictures, and had a short chat with another group of dual-sporters. They said they were heading to the Norton Lake afterwards, and since it was still early in the day, and we had a lot of fuel left, we decided to check it out as well.

The entrance to the Norton Lake road was a few km’s back down the Indian Arm FSR, on the right-hand side. If you are looking for a more challenging ride, Norton Lake has a bigger incline, and many decent-sized rocks on the road. It was not an issue for our bikes, and we made it to the end of the lake within 30 minutes.

We headed back after a short brake on the lake, had a short snack break at a coffee shop in Brackendale, and decided to call it a day.

Indian Arm Inlet North End
Indian Arm Inlet – the Northern End (Wigwam Inn on the right, but not seen in the picture)
Indian River waterfall
Indian River waterfall – about half-way down the road. Don’t miss it!

Motorcycle storage

How to properly store a motorcycle?


How to winterize a motorcycle?


This is how to not store a motorcycle in the winter

I consider myself lucky because I live in the city that doesn’t get much snow (last winter we’ve had a total of 4 days when the roads were icy), so I get to ride year-round. However, most of us still have to put our beloved bikes away for the colder months.

The reason I’m familiar with the proper storage techniques is simple. I’ve had more than one bike at a time, but only the main commuter was insured. The other bike was quietly sitting in the corner by itself until it got sold.

A lot of stores offer winterizing kits, and winter storage options. But I prefer doing my own work; especially when it is that easy.

Note, that if you do not have a garage, and it rains/snows a lot during the period you will have the bike waiting for you, it makes sense to arrange somebody to store it for you.

Otherwise, read further.


Things you will need:
WD-40, silicone-free grease, battery tender, fuel stabilizer.

Things you should get:
Tire foam, breathable cover, battery terminal harness.

 

  

Winterizing your motorcycle should not take more than 1-2 hours. I follow these simple instructions:

1. Wash your bike entirely. Allow some time for the water to dry. The dirt left over winter will become times more difficult, if not impossible to clean. Do not polish or add wax coating to it yet, because you will need to briefly clean it again after you finish steps 2 through 7.

2. Top up the fuel tank. This will help to prevent the inner tank corrosion. Add some fuel stabilizer, so the fuel does not gum up the fuel system. Run the bike for about 5 minutes so the fuel with the fuel stabilizer replaces the old fuel.

There are several options for the fuel stabilizers. STA-BIL seems to be what a lot of people choose. I use Sea Foam, because I always have a can on hands that I periodically (every month or so) add to my fuel to clean the fuel system form the gunk buildup.

If you have a carburetor, make sure to shut off the petcock and drain the carb; otherwise it may gum up, and you will have to rebuild and clean it (and it takes A LOT longer than draining it). If you have a fuel-injected bike – congratulations, you get to skip this step.

3. Change the oil. Changing oil in the motorcycle is an imperative maintenance procedure, and it is no good for your bike to spend the winter with the old and dirty oil in her. When you change the oil, put in a new oil filter too (they are usually really cheap; I bought 3 oil filters for my DRZ for just $12.26).

Before I change my oil, I like to add some Sea Foam to the old oil and go on a 30+ minutes ride so it cycles through. If time allows, add some Sea Foam and go for a ride the night before you do the final oil change.

Changing the coolant and brake fluid wouldn’t hurt either, but may not be necessary – use your judgement.

4. Check the tires. Inflate them to the proper air pressure, and if possible, store the bike elevated from the ground, so the tires do not touch the ground. This way you are minimizing the chances of them developing lumps.

If you do not have a way of lifting the bike up, make sure to balance it evenly (put something under the kickstand so it stays straight), just be careful not to tip your bike over. It is also a good idea to rotate the tires a little every 2-3 weeks to avoid tire lumps.

5. Take care of the battery. Even when your bike is turned off, the battery still works. I have a digital speedo and odometer, and a digital clock, so some energy is required to keep the numbers memorized. The battery will likely drain, and you may not be able to start the bike if you just let it be.

A battery tender typically costs around $20-30. It will charge the battery to an appropriate level if needed, and should keep it in the standby mode to maintain the charge (cheap tenders may not have the standby mode, so look out for that). To use the tender, you need to either take the battery out, or run a terminal harness to the surface.

There isn’t really a place where you have to have the plug. On my old CBR (that is in the picture above) I’ve had the previous owner wire it under the passenger seat, so it was accessible by removing the rear cowl. On my DRZ I wired this cable from the battery to the top of the seat so I can also plug my heated vest in it. Use your imagination; just make sure to not have the open end come into contact with metal.

6. Add extra lube onto all the moving parts that require it: the gear shifter lever, the rear brake lever, etc. I use WD-40 Lithium Grease for that.

7. Clean the engine. I use tire Tire foam for detailing, any tire spray would do, as long as it it silicone-free. If you can only find ones with silicone, you just need to be careful to not spray it on any air intake holes, so it would require some knowledge of your bike. An engine degreaser is another option.

8. Wash the bike again, if needed. Allow the water to dry, and polish the bike. Inspect the bike for leaks and loose wires

After the bike is dry, coat all the engine parts in a light layer of oil / grease to prevent the rust from building up. First I put on a layer of WD-40 to remove the existing moisture, let it sit for 5 minutes, wipe the rest off; then put on a layer of WD-40 Lithium Grease, and wipe the excess off.

9. Pack the exhaust (insert a clean rag or a piece of foam) to prevent rodents from occupying it. I would spray some WD-40 over the metallic part, put a dry clean rag over it, and secure it with a rubber band.

[optional] 10. Cover the bike. This will reduce the amount of dust accumulated. I use the Tour Master Journey breathable cover that I can recommend. Try to not go for a cheap cover, because if the cover isn’t waterproof and breathable is a shortcut to rust. Besides, what is the point of spending $20-30 on a piece of crap that doesn’t really do what it is meant to do, if you can get exactly what you need for $40?

 

Boom! Now you’re done. Now go watch or read the Twist of the Wrist: The Motorcycle Roadracers Handbook until it’s warm again.

P.S.: You may have the urge to run the bike for a short period of time while it is stored.

YOU MUST RESIST IT – this will create unnecessary condensation. 

Do you want rust? Because that’s how you get rust. It would be stupid to go through all the preparation only to let it go to waste. 

Water-resistant winter gloves

Notice how it says “water-resistant”, not “waterproof”?

That’s because there are no fully waterproof gloves, at least not at this price level.

If you need heavy-duty gloves for serious touring, you may want to consider Gore-Tex gloves. KLIM is a brand with a solid reputation, that most people I ride with recommend. They do cost accordingly, though.

If you need gloves for just regular casual riding to work and what-not, read further.

Best water-resistant winter gloves from AliExpress

1. Yohe MTO-06

Water-resistant, touchscreen-friendly, with reflective tape inserts and built-in LED strips.

I have reviewed them before, and I will note again that these are solid gloves for the price paid. And the fact that they now sell for $29.99 makes it an even simpler buying decision.

Black1

These are my winter gloves, and this will be my second season with them. I actually have two pairs – blue and black. The blue ones are older, and have been used more often. The LED’s stopped working on one of the blue ones (not the battery – I checked), the touchscreen-friendly material rubbed off, and the cloth loop that held the adjusting strap ripped off from me pulling too hard.

I kept them as a backup pair, and I use the black ones for day-to-day riding in the cold and rainy weather.

The water gets through after a while, but even when it does the gloves still stay warm. I used them on excessively rainy days, and never had to worry about freezing my fingers. I also use them when I snowboard.

Check them out here.

Price: $29.99 (3 color options)


2. MadBike MAD-15 (MD15)

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These aren’t new either, but they are the best-selling waterproof (well, water-resistant) motorcycle gloves on AliExpress. The highest-selling listing is currently at $14.39 (829 orders), and the cheapest I could find is $12.77.

I have used them for a few months until I got the Yohe ones, and my girlfriend still uses them in colder weather.

They have plastic knuckle armor, rubber finger protection, and rubber/foam pads on the lower portion of the palm. I think that for the price, they have very adequate protection, and in my opinion are much better than plain ski/snowboard gloves.

Check them out here.

Price: $12.77


3. MadBike MAD-19 (MD19)

MadBike MAD-19 MD19 AliExpress

These are another gloves from MadBike, but made out of cordura-like material, and with carbon fiber knuckle armor.

In contrast to the MD15‘s, the entire glove is made of skid-resistant material; the velcro patch is on the very end of the wrist, and the rubber fingers protectors have been replaced with a leather-like material (I’d rather keep the rubber ones, but I understand the reasoning, since the main material is already skid-resistant).

There also is a reflective stripe on the outer palm, and on 3 fingertips for better nighttime visibility.

I think that MAD-19 are a better option than MAD-15 if you ride at higher speeds; and for the city riding there

Check them out here.

Price: $23.65


4. Scoyco MC15

Scoyco MC15 AliExpress

I have not had any experience with these gloves, but I am a big fan of Scoyco products.

These gloves are made with emphasis on street-only adventure-style riding. They are light, and lack any serious protection you may want to see on the off-road oriented gloves. On the contrary, they are made with comfort in mind, for light touring.

There are is no plastic protective armor; instead they rely on skid-resistant material, reinforcement patches on the index, middle and ring fingers; and multi-material build.

Scoyco MC15‘s come in 3 different color options: black, blue, and red.

Check them out here.

Price: $21.94


I hope that everyone has a pleasant winter, whether you are riding, or winterizing.

Don’t forget to subscribe via the form in the sidebar.

Ride safe! Cheers! 

New front tire on my DRZ400S – Bridgestone Trailwing TW301.

My front TKC80 was already on its last breath, and after the recent Bass Coast trip, and with the upcoming Harrison Hot Springs ride (my girlfriend’s and my 4 year anniversary) it really needed to be replaced. I had 30 minutes until the closest store’s closing time, so I ran down to the Honda center to check out what they had in my size. I didn’t really remember the stock size (80/100 – 21), so I went with the size that I had installed, 90/90-21.


OEM tire sizes for the DRZ400S are 80/100 – 21 front, and 120/90-18 rear


First Ben, the gentleman who works in the parts section upstairs, suggested Dunlop D606’s, which being a 90-10 off-on tire looked like a very uncomfortable highway ride, and I suspected I would shred them really fast on the pavement. The other option Ben suggested was the Bridgestore Trailwing TW301, which looked a lot more like what I was looking for.

TW301

I knew that the stock tires for the DRZ are the Trailwings TW41, which are sometimes called “Death Wings” for their inability to properly handle wet and muddy terrain; but the TW301’s looked like they would be more stable. Besides, I only had a few minutes until the store closing time; so I grabbed it, and two tire spoons, and went home to try and mount it.

As I took the front wheel off, I realized that one of the bearings broke apart, and had no balls inside – not sure if they felt out, or got ground into dust.

I looked up a few videos for replacement, and the one I liked the most is here:

There was also an interesting method involving zip-ties. I tried both methods, as I pinched first the existing and then the spare tube (a part of the problem may have been the fact that I did not have a valve core removal tool). Since I only had one spare, I decided to take this Friday off work, and bring the the rim and the new tire to the Suzuki dealership. Even though the Honda center had the bearings for some CRF, which, according to Ben are the same as the ones for the DRZ; the seals likely wouldn’t fit. They also costed $12.99 more than the ones I needed.

Good thing I went to the shop, because there was no way I would be able to remove the second part of the bearing that was stuck to the rim without welding it onto something first.

On Saturday I picked up the ready wheel from the shop, paying a total of CAD$204.93 for the removal of the bearing, new tube, mount, balance and weights. But it wasn’t over: the axle did not want to go through. I had to bring it back to the store to have it looked at, and it turned out it was bent (probably, it was the reason the bearing felt apart in the first place); so I paid another $20 to have it redone.

Finally, my front wheel is all well, installed and currently running. So far so good on the street, but is yet to be tested off-road. Matt and I are going for a ride next Saturday, so I’ll write a short update.

Next time I would probably go for the Kenda K784, or the Shinko E-804.


Bridgestone TW301 DRZ400S
By the looks and feels, I think it should last for at least 7,000 – 8,000 miles

Scoyco N03 neck brace from AliExpress

 

SCOYCO N03 Motocross Neck Brace | Review


Purchase link: http://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/Q3biuNF2z


Scoyco N03 is a motorcycle neck brace, which, according to the seller, is CE-certified. It weighs ~1.3 lbs (0.6 kg), and is made of what I think is viscoelastic – the same material most CE armor is made of. This would mean this neck brace is good not only for off-roading, but for the on-road riding as well.

Unlike Scoyco N02 and N04, the N03 does not require to be mounted to your jacket, so it can be worn with most clothing, and independently.

The armor is removable from the pouch, of needed, so the pouch can be cleaned. The neck diameter is adjustable.

Check it out on AliExpress.

Scoyco cheap neck brace Aliexpress 2

 

Scoyco cheap neck brace Aliexpress 3

Scoyco cheap neck brace Aliexpress 4

Scoyco N03 Aliexpress neck guard

Scoyco cheap neck brace Aliexpress 5

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Universal motorcycle helmet bungee cord


Universal motorcycle helmet bungee cord – holder strap | Review


Purchase link: http://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/ia2ZznMBU


Today I came across this wonderful strap.

Instead of using cargo nets, which have 6 hooks, this helmet-specific strap only has 2 hooks. The 4 adjustable straps are secured by these two hooks. The material is stretchy, but solid, and handles well on higher speeds.

It may not be necessary, but I would use the rear passenger holder to wedge the helmet against so it does not slip back and forth – the seat may be slippery.

The length of the cord is 60 cm when fully assembled, and 110 when fully extended; so it can be used to carry other objects too, if required.

Check it out!

Motorcycle universal helmet strap

Motorcycle helmet strap 4

Helmet strap length

Motorcycle helmet strap 3

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RS TAICHI RST403 – Review

TAICHI RST403 logo

First impression: wow! RS TAICHI did not fail to impress: these gloves are the shit. They came in several color options, and the ones sold on AliExpress are either black, red on black, or black on white. I chose the black ones, because they seemed to go well with all of my gear.

RST403 in my opinion is an ultimate compromise between the protection of an urban glove, and the comfort and lightness of an off-road glove. They are like an all-season car tire: not the best in one way or another, but much better for urban riding than a motocross glove, and not as awful for off-roading as full moto GP gloves.

So:

RS TAICHI RST403 is a light summer glove composed of leather, nubuck (?), mesh, neoprene (on the wrist) and rubber / carbon fiber armor (read further). There are ventilation holes on the three fingers, and mesh in between the fingers and between the wrist and the knuckle armor.

The knuckle armor, the inner palm and the wrist armor piece is made of real carbon fiber – you can actually see it weave, if you look closely. Additional protective pieces placed on the ends of the index, middle and the ring fingers are made of rubber. Index finger knuckle armor is separated from the plate that covers the other 3 fingers (excluding the thumb, obviously), which makes them more comfortable on longer trips, and when riding off-road.

RST403 have double stitching in the portions that would normally touch the handlebar. The palm consists mostly of leather and nubuck (?).

The RST403 are touchscreen-friendly. The index finger and the thumb have the special coating on both hands; and there is a rubber block that works with GPS screens on each index finger.

The bad:

A couple days in I noticed that the GPS rubber block on the left glove started separating from the base. I don’t know whether it’s because from the way I used them, or it wasn’t glued well to begin with, but I smeared a tiny dab of the black silicone sealant in between to hold them together (pic 2).

UPDATE Jul. 26 (~3 weeks in): the GPS-friendly blocks have officially parted with the gloves.

I also found a small gap between the mesh and the leather on the pinky on the left hand. It did not look like it was torn – it appeared that it was never fully sewn together to begin with (pic 3). I used the silicone sealant to connect the together.

There was also some foam sticking out on the wrist (pic 4). Since it was sewn through, this was purely cosmetic, so I decided to not do anything about it.

To me these three imperfections were not a huge problem, especially on the sub-$25 price. I think, I’ll keep them.

Check them out

TAICHI RST403 1

TAICHI RST403 2

TAICHI RST403 3

TAICHI RST403 12

TAICHI RST403 4

TAICHI RST403 5

TAICHI RST403 6

TAICHI RST403 7

TAICHI RST403 9

TAICHI RST403 10

TAICHI RST403 11

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Best summer city gloves of 2015 from RS TAICHI

You will rarely see RS TAICHI products outside of Japan, which is odd: RS TAICHI is a very reputable company, and the quality of the goods is impeccable. So even if using their product is not going to make you a hipster, it would certainly give you some street cred in the eyes of more experienced riders.

1. RS TAICHI RST390

RS TAICHI RST390RST390 RS TAICHI front view

Just look at this glove. Does it look like a $23.99 glove? Hell no! It sure doesn’t feel like one either.

RS Taichi RST390 are made with goat leather, cow leather and some synthetic leather. The armor plate on knuckles is carbon fiber, that is anatomically correct, and is shaped in the way that does not hurt your arm after a long day of riding. The material and the ventilation inlets on fingers allow the best airflow.

The palm is of composite material to dissipate the impact from a fall. There are force absorbing pads on the bottom of the palm. These gloves are GPS-friendly with the rubber block on index fingers.

The airflow, protection and the comfort make RS Taichi RST390 an ultimate urban riding glove.

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2. RS TAICHI RST403

RS TAICHI RST403 mesh glove

RS TAICHI RST403

 

(My review of these gloves review here)

RS TAICHI RST403 come with a reinforced mesh cortex and goat leather palm for durability. These are gloves for those who commute primarily in the city, but also do some highway riding (such as myself). When I am in traffic that moves at 60+ kph (~40 mph) I like to have my wrist covered. I love my NXT047’s, but they don’t look right with the cordura jacket and kevlar jeans.

This is where the RS TAICHI RST403‘s come handy. In contrast with the RST390 above, the RST403 have the carbon fiber armor not only on knuckles, but also on the bottom of the palm and on the inner wrist; and non-carbon fiber (still strong nonetheless) additional plates on the end of the fingers. As a bonus, these gloves are touchscreen-friendly, and also have a GPS-friendly rubber block on index fingers.

At only $22.51 with free shipping, this looks like a pretty sweet deal.

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3. RS TAICHI RST404

RS TAICHI RST404 mesh gloves

 

RS TAICHI RST404 mesh gloves

RS TAICHI RST404 is a compromise between the comfort of the RST390 and the protection of the RST404. The outshell is mostly synthetic leather (47%) and nylon (30%). There are genuine leather inserts in high-impact areas that are double-stitched for maximum durability. The wrist is covered by the force absorption pads with leather on the outside.

These gloves are both touchscreen and GPS compatible. And the price is just right – a modest $23.80.

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My recent stator replacement + “fixing” the low-beam light.

A few weeks ago I have noticed that my low beam light stopped working. I didn’t give it much thought, and kept on riding with the high beam at night and in tunnels, and with the headlight off during the light hours. That was until I noticed that the headlight started coming on again after the bumpy Stave Lake ride, especially when I revved the engine, which made me think there is a loose connection. After the ride I took the headlight assembly off, and all seemed to check out fine, so I concluded this to be a wiring issue.

So I bring the bike to the repair shop on Friday. Wednesday comes in, and I think it should be the time to pick it up; so I email them and ask when would I need to pick it up. An hour later I get a call asking what is wrong with the bike, so it is clear that it wasn’t even looked at. Not great, because I had to ride the bus for the past 5 days, but whatever.

The next afternoon I get an email with the $100 invoice for “testing”, and a ~$1200 estimate for the labour and parts. Stator + gasket replacement, a new chain (they had the old one replaced less than 2,000 miles ago) and sprocket, an oil top up and a few things here and there.

Test results 1

Test results 2

So I forwarded the estimate to Matt, one of the guys who I rode to Brandywine with, who I remember mentioning that he is quite handy with the repairs, to get his input on how bad I am being screwed. I knew I can get that chain business taken care of myself, and Matt was kind enough to agree to help me fix the stator on his own time.

So I ordered a cheap stator off eBay sold under the brand name Caltric from a seller in the US (~$80 USD for the gasket + stator set) so I can get it fixed at least temporarily, and a used OEM stator (about $120 USD with shipping) from someone in Israel, for when (not if) the cheap one fails. The stator arrived last Wednesday, and on Friday Matt and I were sitting in his front yard in between the neatly arranged DRZ guts.

The other options were the RM Stator ($110) and Ricky Stator ($175).

Within 2 hours Matt and I have had the stator replaced (due to my lack of experience it was mostly Matt who did the work), and cleaned the grime and shit from the hard to get to areas. After the stator was replaced (I should have taken the picture, the old one was literally fried), Matt brought the multimeter to have the headlight tested.

We disconnected all the cables from behind the headlight assembly, and had them all tested individually.

The cause of the problem ended up being the broken coil on the headlight bulb…it must have been rubbing on the filament during the Stave Lake ride, hence the light was coming on and off. And who know how long I was riding with a bad stator – but, apparently, the low beam issue was not even related to the stator failure.

Funny how things work.

P.S.: Went on a 250k ride over the weekend – the bike runs fine so far!

P.P.S.: Started a new subreddit on the weekend: /r/BestAliExpressFinds/ for the neatest geeky items on AliExpress. Don’t miss out!