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BikeBandit.com Review

Winter projects are a way for me to spend time doing maintenance and other adjustments to my bike that I don’t get to during the riding season. One of those items is always a complete service: Oil, oil filter, air filter, check the tires, spark plugs, brakes, etc. I opt to do this during the off-season because on my Concours anything other than an oil and oil filter change requires removing a good amount of the plastic panels and other bits to get to the engine. I don’t usually have one full day to work on the bike, so it stays in a state of half dress until I can complete the work. That’s why this is a winter project. I hate missing a good day of riding because I don’t have time to put my side panels back on.

One of the pieces I have to remove to get to the air filter is the windshield (I know, right). The Concours windshield is held on with small hex screws. Now, I’m going to admit this but I’m not proud of it, I have a cheap hex socket set. What this means is that smaller screws and bolts that I remove more frequently get damaged. Over time the hex heads get stripped and I have to get new screws. Simple solution would be to buy a better socket set, but that’s hard to justify when the screws are about a buck each.

Yet another reason I work on my bike in the winter. I stripped the head of one of my windshield bolts recently and was unable to get the windshield off, thus not being able to get to the air filter, or the engine, and so I couldn’t complete my service work. I called my local Kawasaki dealer and they would only sell me a whole windshield kit that included all the bolts, mounts, and a new windshield. This was over a $300 and not really what I was looking for. So, off to the internet!

I remembered a friend telling me that BikeBandit.com sold OEM parts and that I should check them out. Off to the site I went. I was pretty impressed with the site. After navigating to the OEM section I entered the make, model, and year of my bike and they had everything I needed. Their OEM section let me navigate to the specific area of the bike I was looking for to find the exact part number from a zoomable online parts diagram. This means I got to pick and order the exact thing I needed to fix my windshield. I found the screw, completed my ordered, and it was in my mailbox shortly afterwards. It saved me time and money and I’m glad I looked them up.

BikeBandit.com has motorcycle tires, accessories, and even riding gear.  They have aftermarket honda motorcycle parts, Kawasaki parts, and just about anything you need for you specific model of motorcycle whether you have a Suzuki, Yamaha, or BMW. Their low price guarantee will match any price if you find a part for lower than they have it. This is especially useful for motorcycle tires. I go through a set of tires every year and they are not cheap for the Connie. It’s to know that I can get the absolute lowest price around on BikeBandit.

I’m hoping to restore a Kawasaki 1981 440 LTD soon. You can bet I’ll be spending a lot of time on BikeBandit once that project gets rolling, but that’s a story for another time.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2017 in Gear Reviews, Motorcycling

 

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IMS and Other Thoughts After a Long Time Away

It’s been a long time since my last post. In July I took on a new role at my company and just haven’t been able to get back into a rhythm with writing and riding since then. Most of my riding in the second half of the year was commuting so nothing exciting there.

Part of my reason for not posting was also that I like to write really finished article style posts. I figure if people are going to read posts on this site the content should be worth their time. I’m slowly coming to the realization that not every post has to take weeks to pull together and edit. It is a blog after all. And it’s free. And it’s mine. So, it really can be whatever I want it to be. I was recently reminded that good content along with consistency is really the key here. I’m going to try harder to do both this year.

The most recent motorcycle related event that’s happened in the past few months was attending the IMS in Washington DC. I always try to make this show every year in January. It’s the perfect way to get a dose of motorcycle excitement in the middle of winter.

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There were two bikes that stood out to me at the show.

2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000LT.

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I am finding myself drawn to the 1000 cc range of bikes that are coming out in the market. They are powerful, agile, and comfortable. The Versys, was all of those things. At least from what I could glean from marketing materials and sitting on the bike for longer than was probably appropriate by the looks I was getting from the booth reps. The bags are a little smaller (28 liter) than those on my Connie 14, but they are large enough to be useful. There’s also an aftermarket top case, so no worries on storage. It has all the technology that I’m looking for in a bike: ABS, traction control, multiple riding modes. All the fun stuff. I also really love the orange color. The Versys is sized well for me too. The reach to the bars from the seat is perfect. No lean over at all (for me). I’m going to try and find an enterprising dealer this summer and see if I can get a ride on one.

For more information on the Versys visit Kawasaki.com

 

2015 Yamaha Super Tenere ES

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The other motorcycle the continues to catch my attention is the Super Tenere.  Everytime I sit on this bike it just seems to fit. It pushes all my buttons too. Electronic suspension, ABS, traction control, multiple fuel maps. Being an “Adventure” bike it has an upright sitting position and easy ergonomics. I know that both of these bikes fit the adventure/off road style of bike that’s become very popular, but that’s not what really draws me. I also think that the reason these style of bikes have “become” popular is that there are no standard bikes anymore. If you want neutral handling, comfortable all day riding bike you have to buy one of these adventure style bikes. I’m fine with that. I’m more interested in comfort for long rides, flexibility, and utility.

For more information on the Super Tenere go to Yamaha’s website.

 

Here are pictures of a few other bikes that were honorable mentions or at least caught my eye.

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Posted by on February 21, 2015 in Motorcycling, Uncategorized

 

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October Cycle World Ninja 1000 Experience Ad

I came across this ad while catching up on my reading. It came out in the October issue of Cycle World. I just thought it was cool that they used my quote in the full page ad. Click to open larger.

Oct. Issue Cycle World Magazine

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2011 in Ninja 1000 Experience

 

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Returning the Ninja 1000

The time has finally come to return the Ninja 1000 to Kawasaki. It’s been a thrilling 3 months of riding and exploring the area around my house on what has proven to be an exciting motorcycle. I find it hard to believe that it’s already been 90 days. Time flies when you’re having fun. My only regret is that I didn’t have more fun. Life has a way of sneaking up and stealing time away.

Thinking back to my first ride out of the dealership on the Ninja 1000 and how different it was from my Harley makes me laugh a little. I’ve become very accustom to this bike and my Concours in a relatively short time. I can’t believe that I spent so much time shying away from sport and sport touring bikes thinking they would be uncomfortable or to much power to manage. The Ninja cured me of that by the time I got home on that first ride and convinced me that sport (touring) bikes are going to be a permanent part of my riding stable.

Living in Virginia in the shadow of the Blue Ridge mountains also gave me a unique opportunity to ride some of the best roads in the country. On these curvy and winding roads the Ninja was in it’s element. I also didn’t have to ride very far to get to those roads which helped. While I originally was unimpressed with the seat, and to some extent the riding position, as the bike and I got to know each other better I was able to put more time in the saddle with less frequent rest stops. This allowed me to enjoy the handling and performance of the Ninja more. Once we hit a groove, all the little niggles I’ve mentioned melted away.

My conclusions about the bike are a little mixed. Where I about ten years younger I would jump at the chance to own this bike. However, being a little older and moving into a different phase of riding, it just does not have the comfort and amenities that I’m currently looking for. As a second ride in my stable this would be a really fun day trip, around town bike. It does what it was built for well and I truly hope that it get’s the recognition that it deserves.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in Ninja 1000 Experience

 

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Comparison: Ninja 1000 Vs. Concours 14 Part IV – Ergonomics

Comfort is a subjective topic. Being an avid reader of all things motorcycle I’ve observed that one person’s perfect bike setup is another person’s idea of medieval torture. Having read a number of motorcycle travel books and blogs comfort is a key topic but the approach varies widely. I’ve seen everything from an almost stock FZ1 taken around the world to a KLR fitted with a Gold Wing seat by it’s owner to thousands of dollars spent on new seats, handlebars, grips and pegs. What this means to me is that what’s comfortable is purely a personal choice. Having ridden mostly cruisers up until recently my idea of comfort was grounded in the standard ergos for that segment of the market. Big and wide padded seats, floor boards, and laid back seating are all standard elements of the riders contact with a cruiser and the reason that this is such a popular motorcycle type. It’s familiar. It’s the way we are used to sitting in our office chairs all day. The feat-under-the-seat riding position of a sport bike is pretty foreign to most people unless they’ve logged some time on a horse and even then only if they’ve ridden English vs. Western (which is a whole other debate/discussion). I’ve been fortunate (?) enough to have experience riding horses both ways and now bikes too. So, what do I prefer? Motorcycles, but that’s a little off topic.
 
The differences in rider ergonomics between the Ninja and the Concours are really one of  scale. To make sure that I wasn’t just fooling myself into thinking this is true based entirely on the fact that the Ninja is smaller than the Concours, I rode them back-to-back down the same road. The Ninja has generally the same seat to peg to bars relationship that the Concours does, just more compressed due to the size of the bike. This ratio of the comfort triangle goes a long way toward the idea that this bike can be a sport-touring machine. It all but cements the Ninja as a great around town/commuter bike which I can attest to personally. As I mentioned before though, comfort is subjective. At 6′ 2″ the compressed ergonomics of the Ninja make an already small bike, for me, feel even smaller. In the twisty back roads and mountain passes near my home, this is a good thing. The Ninja feels small and maneuverable while also building confidence taking corners tight and exiting fast and planted. The Connie is more than capable of strafing the back roads too, however there’s a little more bulk to bustle around and as such greater effort needed to garner the same results as the Ninja. This puts the Ninja’s sweet spot, for me, at short or moderate length trips preferably on twisty fun roads or as an around town errand runner (like picking up some ice cream on a hot summer day after dinner).

                 

 
 

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Ninja Experience on the Wheelnerds Podcast

I had the fortune to stumble on a post on www.sport-touring.net back in May about a new podcast by the Wheelnerds.  Weekly Chuck and Todd present motorcycle information and “stuff, ‘lots of stuff” in an informative and very entertaining way from their home base in Utah. I was hooked from the first episode. Actually, I had to pull my bike over the other day to stop laughing during the first few minuets of Episode 11: Gumming Up the Works.  A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to call into the show and talk to the Wheelnerds about the Ninja 1000 and the Cycle World Experience. I had a really great time and want to thank Chuck and Todd for having me on the show. If you ride a motorcycle and like to laugh then you need to check out this podcast.

Episode 14: Terrible Fan Service will post on Friday July 27th.  Visit the Wheelnerds site to download or search for them on ITunes. 

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2011 in Ninja 1000 Experience

 

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Comparison: Ninja 1000 Vs. Concours 14 Part III – Wind/Weather Protection

The first two motorcycles I owned had no wind protection, meaning they had no windshields. Being cruisers, they were also absent any protection from the weather, other than what I was wearing. It wasn’t until I purchased my Harley-Davidson Electra Glide that I even understood how much wind and weather protection can improve the pleasure of riding. Now after riding the Ninja 1000 and the Concours I understand even more. Both bikes have adjustable windshields, the Ninja’s manually adjusts to three preset positions and the Concours’ is electronically adjustable.

Ninja Up Ninja Mid Ninja Down
Connie Up Connie Mid Connie Down

In addition to their windshields, both bikes also have a fairing to help with airflow and protect the rider from the elements. The fairing in both cases also serves to push hot air from the engine away from the rider and they both do this very well. I am pleasantly surprised at how well both bikes manage heat. I’ve been stuck in hot weather in stop and go traffic and been cooler (relatively) than I ever was on my Harley. Part of that I’m sure is that these are both liquid cooled bikes, but I have to give credit to the engineering that went into moving the hot engine air away from the rider. No longer do my thighs burn as I stand at a stop light in 90 degree heat waiting for the light to change. Don’t get me wrong, there is heat, but not nearly the level of what is put off by an air cooled engine on a hot day. The similarity in the bikes regarding wind and weather protection pretty much end there.
 

For pure, clean airflow from the windshield to the rider the Ninja is better than almost any other bike I’ve ever ridden. In all three positions the air stream is clean with only a little buffeting in the tallest setting. I’m 6′ 2″ so that’s saying something for this little windscreen. The windshield is not adjustable on the fly (while riding) like the Connie (and as also indicated on the warning label next to the adjustment latch) but takes only a second to change at a stop light or sign. There’s no tools needed, just push down on the latch tucked into the fairing on the right side under the display screen. Not being able to adjust the screen while riding has not been a problem. I usually keep it set to the middle height which still allows air to reach me but does not blow me off the bike when at higher (legal) speeds.

I wish that I could say the same for the Connie’s windshield. In all possible settings there is wind noise and buffeting. The lowest setting is the quietest and the cleanest but it’s still produces some rough air and noise. The benefit to an electronically adjustable windshield however is that, in the few instances where I’ve encountered rain, being able to move the much larger Concours windshield all the way up has kept me pretty dry while in motion. The same cannot be said for the windscreen on the Ninja 1000, it’s just too small to really provide great weather protection. At it’s highest setting the Connie’s shield works well to keep most wind from reaching the rider. I know that this is helpful on the highway from personal experience and I’m sure that it will come in handy when the temperatures start to drop. Wind noise and buffeting when the screen is fully erect though almost negate these benefits. I’m just glad I wear ear plugs. A nice feature of the Concours is the ability to preset the windshield to one of 4 factory set heights so that the shield raises to that height when the bike starts. Setting 1 is full down and setting 4 is full up while 2 and 3 are mid-low and mid-high respectively. The shield retracts to full down when the bike is turned off.

On weather protection, the clear advantage goes to the Concours. It’s designed to push wind and weather past the rider and creates a nice bubble to sit in and just enjoy the ride. The Ninja’s fairing seems primarily built to decrease wind resistance and move engine heat away from the rider, but not for weather protection. In a side-by-side picture it can be seen that the Connie allows the rider to tuck in behind the fairing and the windshield where the Ninja 1000 just does not have the same level of protection.

It’s no surprise to me that the purpose built sport-touring motorcycle, the Concours, has better weather protection. It is surprising that the Ninja 1000 provides the cleaner wind flow and does that with a much smaller windscreen. I’d still not want to take the Ninja into a hard rainstorm, but I’d love to see a windshield built for the Concours that moves air past me like the Ninja does.

Next Up for the Comparison: Ergonomics, a chat with Isosceles …

 

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