Saturday 30 June 2012

Happy Canada Day

To all my Canadian blogging friends:
Canada Day
Hope you have a great Canada Day and if two wheels are on the agenda, ride safe.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

The Great Race

gr-logoThis year’s Great Race was a circumnavigation of the Great Lakes. Starting in Traverse City Michigan, the race had an overnight stop at the end of Day 4 in Kanata, Ontario (a suburb of Ottawa). It’s only about a 45-minute ride so as soon as I heard the Race was coming here I put it in my calendar. When you have 90 vintage cars arriving on your (almost) doorstep, some of which you’ll never, ever see otherwise, of course you have to go.
I’m not sure if it was planned this way, but the Ottawa stop, and the venue, coincided with the regular Tuesday Kanata Cruise Night. So not only were there these amazing vintage racers to drool over but there were about 350 local drivers showing off their vintage cars, hot rods, and custom cruisers as well.  It was a gearhead’s dream come true!
Now all I have to do is sort through the videos and still photos to make some sense of them, but as a teaser, here are a couple of my favourites.
BARN FND – This car was part of the Cruise Night. According to the owner(?) this car is pretty much just the way he found it a few years ago. Aside from some basic mechanical work to get it running and stopping safely, the car is “as found” hence the plate. What was most amazing to me was how little serious rust there was on the vehicle; even the chrome pieces, while pitted, were in great condition. Doesn’t everyone dream of coming across something like this one day?
TEVIE’S TERMITE TAXI – The hand painted sign says it all. This car was in the Great Race (and judging from the old decals still on the car, is a multi-year competitor). Compared to the others cars, many of which are well into 6 figures in value, this old Chrysler tells me that the driver(s) are in the Race for the fun of it and not necessarily the glory of winning, and so they get my vote.

Monday 25 June 2012

Motorcycle travel photography

Ten TipsParticipants in the motorcycle blogosphere generally have 2 main interests in common – we ride motorcycles and we take photographs of our travels to share online and with friends and family. So I was intrigued by a message I got from John Flores, a contributing editor to RoadRUNNER magazine, asking me to review an e-book he’d written on that very topic.
Ten Tips: Motorcycle Travel Photos is a small book (only 47 pages) but it contains a wealth of advice for photo newbies and reminders of the fundamentals for us old folks who have many thousands of images under our belts. Basic information to be sure (no advanced studio lighting or trick photography here) but it deals with natural lighting and composition in a straightforward manner with illustrative examples from his own portfolio. And best of all the tips are equally applicable whether you have a cell phone camera, a $100 point and shoot, or a pro-quality digital SLR.
So if your photos seem somewhat lacking and you want a few ideas to help put some punch into them, you might find this little e-book well worth the princely sum of $2.99. (Available from Amazon for Kindle.)

Saturday 23 June 2012

Need some saddle hours

We got lucky back in March with a glorious warm week for getting the bikes out of hibernation and getting the first few rides of the season in. Then it all went to hell in a handbasket with cold, wet and windy conditions for most of April and May – at least on those days when I could have gone for a ride but for other commitments.
But now we’re into June and the weather is, well, summery. The way it’s supposed to be. The way we’ve been waiting for since last September. And our very short riding season is well upon us. As is our equally short golfing season. (My other summer passion.)
And coming up fast is a Friday the 13th, July 13 to be specific. And that means Port Dover! (It’s kind of a crappy web site, but you get the idea.) I haven’t been for a couple of years but this year I have some extra incentive as that July week also coincides with the spousal unit’s almost-annual Crab Fest. So scarce is what I will make myself for a few days.
The current plan is to head out for Kitchener-Waterloo where I have two brothers and a nephew who also ride. Then get a couple of days of riding in and perhaps a round or two of golf before joining the throngs heading to Port Dover on Friday. The only problem? K-W is about 500 kilometres (300 miles) away and the longest ride I’ve been on so far this year is 200 kilometres (120 miles). And since my old raggedy ass seems to take longer every year to adjust to a motorcycle seat I need to get some serious saddle time in ASAP or I’ll be one sore puppy when I finally roll into the brother’s driveway.
I also need to get my GoPro functioning properly for the trip. Lately it’s been crapping out and either giving me a SOS message or corrupting the files on the SD card – and sometimes both. After much trial and error, cursing, and gnashing of teeth I think I’ve isolated the problem to a faulty SD card (although how a solid state device can suddenly go bad defies explanation). A quick trip into the city for a new card on Monday and hopefully that problem will be solved – and a few more bottom-conditioning miles will be logged.
Port Dover route
Hopefully it will all come together over the next couple of weeks, but if not there’s always plan B!

Thursday 21 June 2012

Wooden you like one of these?

Sorry for the bad pun, but from Bikes in the Fast Lane comes this post about a Hungarian tractor driver who built his own wooden motorcycle. Apparently built from firewood I expect it handles much like a pile of firewood would, but it would still be pretty cool to ride up and down the street on special occasions.

Click for bigger version of Hungarian Wooden Motorcycle

Tuesday 19 June 2012

“White Knuckle”

Last September 50 hardy souls headed out across the USA on pre-1916 motorcycles. I posted on the Cannonball Endurance Run here and here and followed their progress as they motored/limped from North Carolina to California.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to see them en route, but now, the next best thing: a 60-minute video of the race is being released in a week. My copy is already on order.

Monday 18 June 2012

To windscreen or not to windscreen?

A few weeks ago Lady R posted about test riding a Fat Boy (of which she is now the proud owner – hooray for her!) and her newly discovered joy of riding without a windscreen. That post got me thinking about my own choices in that regard.
Unlike Lady R who had always ridden with a windshield, I had never ridden with one until I bought the Dyna. None of my bikes had a windscreen (you can’t really count the 1/2 race fairing on the RD350LC) and so I was quite used to hanging on for dear life at 80 or 90 and dodging June bugs as they headed straight for the tip of my nose or those big juicy grasshoppers that leave a bright yellow smear across your glasses, forehead, and helmet.
But since the Dyna did have a windshield I decided to try it out. It took a while but eventually I found a position that resulted in maximum wind shielding and minimum helmet buffeting. And I got hooked – or probably more accurately, lazy. Even though it was a quick-detach model, it just became easier to leave it on all the time, and so I did.
Then I read Lady R’s post and decided to ride naked for a change. (Clarification:  without windshield, not without clothing. I may not be ATGATT but I draw the line at exposing certain bodily parts to sunburn, flying and biting insects, and the possibility of road rash – not to say arrest.) One trip and I realized what I had been missing.
So now the default position is off. Certainly if there’s rain  or cold temperatures in the forecast, or a long’ish trip is in the works I’ll opt for the windshield – it’s much more comfortable and far less tiring than being out in the wind at speed – but for quick trips into town or over to the golf course the windshield stays in the garage. But my riding glasses need cleaning more often.
bug splatter

Tuesday 12 June 2012

GoPro mount mod

I have managed to collect quite a few different GoPro camera mounts, all in an attempt to find the perfect mount that is stable, flexible, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive.
One of the major limitations of the GoPro mounting system is the lack of a ball and socket type mount that will allow tilt and pan motion of the camera itself. To get that capability I tried combining the RAM mounting system with the GoPro tripod mount. I purchased a yoke clamp along with a double socket arm from RAM.
Then I got a 1” plastic knob at the local hardware store and red-loctited a piece of 1/4 X 20 threaded rod into it. That then gave me a ball I could attach to the GoPro tripod mount.
             Tripod mount
Assembled it looked like this (In this configuration I have the camera clamped to the handlebar riser):

It worked well in all respects except for vibration. The 3” socket arm plus the various connectors meant that  the camera itself was some 5”-6” away from the hard mounting point on the bike, and those pieces, while pretty robust, still flexed and vibrated in the wind enough to make the videos all but unwatchable. (The Harley vibrates enough without any help from external forces.)
So I eliminated the arm as follows.
First I cut the ball off the RAM mount. Then I drilled a hole where the ball used to be and tapped it with a 1/4 X 20 thread.

I took a piece of threaded rod, cut it to length, and red-loctited it into the GoPro tripod mount.
The GoPro mount provides the tilt function, and for panning the camera turns on the threaded base. But to be able to keep it in one spot I needed some sort of a lock nut. I happened to have some flat steel lying around that I used to make a locking nut, but you could possibly find a 1/4 X 20 threaded knob at a machine tool place or even your local hardware store if it’s a good one.
Here are the pieces. The yoke clamp, drilled and tapped; the camera with the GoPro tripod mount attached with threaded rod and locking nut; and the 1” knob. (The knob can be used to convert the clamp back to a knob type for use with other RAM connections if needed for multiple purposes.)

Usage is simple. Thread the tripod mount all the way into the clamp, leaving just enough room for the locking lever to turn. Position the clamp on the bike wherever you want it (maximum opening is about 2”). Tighten the clamp. Aim the camera and then tighten the locking nut so the camera won’t turn. Tighten the GoPro tripod mount for the correct tilt, and you’re ready to go.
Here’s what it looks like now.
Initial testing shows a significant drop in camera motion. (See test video here.) There is, of course, the bike’s own vibrations to contend with but that is more a matter of staying in the right RPM range when filming. Still need to practise that more.
(If you’re interested in the RAM mounting system they also now have a yoke that includes a 1/4 X 20 camera mount option. Purchasing that unit instead of the yoke I have would eliminate the need to cut and drill the yoke itself. You’d still need the GoPro tripod mount, the threaded rod, and the locking nut. There is one advantage to drilling your own though, and that is you can mount the yoke either side up as the hole is drilled right through. This could be useful in tight fit situations.)
Now all I need is a way to remember whether the camera is recording or not. I have a data back but in bright sunlight, with sunglasses on, and at speed, it’s virtually impossible to see the little record icon, hence lots of footage of straight roads, the inside of jacket pockets, and so on.