Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lessons Learned

This was a very insightful trip for me as I really hadn't done any real multi-day rides in many years, and back then I was much younger and a bit more adventurous.  Not being on a real schedule allowed me the flexibility to take the maintenance induced layover in stride and not stress about it.  So, in no particular order, here are some of my observations:

  • I pack too much stuff™.  There were several items I never got around to using and should never have packed in the first place.  I sent home one box from San Antonio but should sent back more stuff.  The bike is not a car, I really have to pack less.
  • Rain gear is nice to have, but if you don't plan on really riding in the rain (as in pulling over and waiting for the downpour to pass) don't bother carrying extra rain specific gear, other than boots (maybe).
  • I really like my Motoport stretch Kevlar pants.  They worked well in the rain and the desert.  Really easy to get in and out of and the armor is great.
  • I'm still very happy with my Tourmaster Snonora 3/4 Air Jacket.  Having two liners gave me all the options I needed for this trip.
  • The Sena SMH10 bluetooth head set continues to work just as advertised.  Really, what more can you ask of a product?
  • Exoficio underwear from REI are great.  Lightweight, wash and dry overnight, and comfortable.  I probably could have done the trip with only one pair, but two made it easy.
  • I really enjoy getting out on a nice long multi-day journey.

  • This bike was more comfortable than I expected.  300 mile days were pretty easy on the stock seat once I got to use the whole seat (see above), and when I added the AirHawk, the one 600 mile day wasn’t bad at all.

  • Know what the instruments are telling you and use the GPS as a backup to physical map (or Google Map) planning.  Running out of gas at night in the middle of nowhere without cell reception could really suck.

  • I hate Vance and Hines pipes.  These suckers are loud and annoying on a long trip.  Around town they are not nearly as annoying as I’m not on the bike that long, but hour after hour of that racket was not to my liking.  YMMV.  Fortunately I’ve found someone with stock pipes that would like the Vance and Hines, so we’re going to swap pipes in the near future – win/win.

  • I really like the Garmin Zumo 660.  It beats the heck out of the TomTom Rider 2 I had been using.  The ability to build a custom route and import it is a wonderful feature.  The ability to listen to pre-recorded music was nice on the long Interstate stretches.  The unit is not without faults, however, as about one out of three times, it would not recognize the micro SD card that contained my music.  I don’t know what the issue is, but I’ll be checking with Garmin and the various support boards.

  • The portable XM radio I purchased specifically to use on the bike (XMp3i) will not work the way I need it to work.  First, and this is not explained in the manuals (I did read these) or anywhere on the website, you cannot use the mp3 function unless you activate the radio; adding it to you existing subscription or starting a subscription of you don’t already have one.

    I wanted to mount the radio using a RAM style mount and plug it into some sort of 12-volt power outlet so as not to have to rely on the internal battery (they claim 4 hours XM Live or 16.5 for playback from the micro SD card - YMMV).  The only way to accomplish that is to use the Power Connect Vehicle Kit as it contains a mount that is powered off a standard 12-v outlet.  The problem is that as soon as you insert the portable radio it demands you have the external antenna attached even though the radio has a built in antenna.  While this might work on the Shadow or my C-10 Kawasaki Concours both of which have metal gas tanks, it will not work on my Norge or any bike that has a plastic tank or tank covering as the external antenna is magnetic mounting. Trying the USB connector doesn't work either.  It assumes you have it connected to a computer and wish to transfer files.  It will charge, but will not play while hooked to the USB cable. Sirius/XM does not make a power adapter that you can plug directly into the radio from a 12-volt power supply.  If you want to carry along the home charging unit, you can recharge the radio every evening when it can be plugged into the wall or you can use the USB method mentioned previously.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip and I'm just about ready to do some more exploring, but first a bit of work around the house, some bike cleaning and maintenance, and then maybe another few days out exploring and having fun.  Who know, maybe my wife will join me next time.


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