Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Throttle habits and MPG

When I got the GS, the salesman at the dealership did a thorough walk through to orient me to the new bike. It was a fabulous service for sure. I liked their attention to detail. And, I'm the type of person that likes when someone shows me rather than tells me how to do something. Anyway, one of the points was about the size of the gas tank and how many miles I should get per tank. I'd also talked to my sister-in-law and her husband as they have/had an older F650GS and a Dakar. They were both getting about 200 miles per tank, which is also what the dealer said. That works out to about 70mpg (I think). So, off I went riding my shiny new bike with those figures in mind. But, for some reason, I could only go about 180 miles before the gas light came on. Weird I thought. I wonder what that's about. I made mental notes and kept checking my MPG when I filled up. I even now use an iPhone app that will do all the calculations for me. I just input the data at the pump and voila!

Not long ago I was reading the Chain Gang forum and there was a discussion about how much power is needed to run heated grips and extra lights. One person mentioned that in order to recharge the battery, you should be running a higher than normal rpms. He suggested running at 3,500 to 4,000 rpms to get a good recharge. Hmmm. That's about what I'd been running normally. Could that be the source of my low gas mileage? :-)

So, I did a test, and was a bit lighter on the throttle and paid closer attention to the rpms and sure enough, 200+ miles per tank!

The GS is the first bike I've had with a tach. It's also my first brand new bike. Prior to this, I'd been riding a Honda 450CMX Rebel. That bike did not have a tach and also did not have a whole lot of power. To get the most out of it, you really had to rev it. I'd go WOT off the line just to get it up to speed, which it did very well and was happier that way. So, that's what I'd been used to. Also, the Rebel is loud and vibrates a lot. So, I sort of thought, if I couldn't hear the engine revving on the GS, then I was ok. But, the GS needs more than just that. I'm sure there are lots of folks who think the 650GS is loud and also vibrate a lot. Well, they have never ridden the fabulous Honda Rebel. :-) I'm still getting used to how quiet the GS is.

I guess I really am a bit of an aggressive motorcyclist. And that was reflected in my MPG. I think I can get used to the 200 mile range and the 70mpg though.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mike's Motorcycle - Boulder

My second ever oil change happened recently. 4,000 miles was the magic number. I'm a fairly loyal customer and had planned to use the dealership for service, at least while the GS is still under warranty or still owned by the BMW bank. But, they really are not conveniently located, especially during the week. Fortunately, there is a shop near my work. Mike's Motorcycle is a place I'd visited before, even before I got the GS. I happened upon it when I walked to what I thought was a post office. (It turned out to be a drop box.) It is a 15 minute walk from work. Not only is it close but (surprise!) the oil change is significantly cheaper than the dealer. Win-win. I rode over to the shop to drop off the bike. They even let me leave my helmet there. Very cool! A couple of hours later, it was all done. :-)

The only thing about oil changes is having to remove the tank saddle bags. It's kind of a bummer but I think, after lots of practice, I'll be able to put them back on exactly how I want them. It actually wasn't too tough this first time. I think I'll trim the straps a bit too. That will make the process more manageable.

I may still use the dealer for other things, but we'll see. They do have loaner bikes there, which is enticing. :-)

Daily commute....

I've just been riding and riding and not blogging. Nothing too exciting going on, just the daily commute. The weather is still a bit schizophrenic - snow one day, warm the next, rain, snow, warm, etc. It is a bit maddening. But, such is life in Colorado. And I can't complain really. :-) Here are some of the highlights of my recent commuting adventures...

I nearly hit a squirrel on my way to work not long ago. It was my first near miss. A couple of years ago, when I was on the Rebel, I had this sudden irrational fear of creating road kill. I spent a lot of time thinking about it, querying the Rebel board about it, and even practicing swerving (which isn't the best thing to do). But, I never had an incident and I got over it. Running over small animals with my car seriously creeps me out. On the bike I think it would be even worse. What if it bounces up and hits me? What if I hit it just right (wrong?) and stuff squirts out? The thought of it creeps me out. And suddenly I was faced with it. The squirrel did as squirrels do, it ran across the road, got almost all the way across and then decided to turn around and head back to where it came from... right in front, or under, my GS. Maybe it was because I'd recently taken that MSF class, but I kept my eyes up and looked straight ahead, didn't slow too much, definitely didn't hit the brakes, and just kept going. I don't think I hit it. I didn't see it in the mirrors. There wasn't a bump or anything either. It may have run right between my wheels. I was creeped out for the rest of the ride. But, then I shook it off - literally - and was better.

I've also seen a couple of large elk herds on the way home a couple of times. They were hanging out right off of highway 93. I didn't see them right away either, which isn't good. But, they weren't in a good spot for me to pull over and get a photo either. Elk are quite large. They are also very cool. :-)

Speaking of my MSF rider course, I got to use an avoidance maneuver we practiced in the class. The situation reminded me of tbolt's unfortunate get off. I was merging onto 28th Avenue where it stops being Hwy 36 (going from 60mph to 35mph in a short space). There were merging cars ahead of me and traffic slowing on the road to allow us to merge. The car ahead of me was moving slowly but steadily to merge. I checked my mirror and then did a head check. When I looked back, the car ahead of me had nearly stopped and the gap between us was closing. Seemingly without thinking about it, I pressed right to swerve around the back end, and hit the throttle to go ahead of him. There was plenty of room to do this maneuver since I was still in the merge lane. I didn't even blink as I executed the move and settled back into traffic. When I got to work, I was nearly there at this point, I realized I'd successfully put into practice what I learned in class. It was a good feeling.

Shiny side up everyone!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

My New Top Case!!

I have the best husband ever! He has a top case on his CX500 that he mounted to his rear rack. After I got the GS, he got to thinking about how to mount a similar one for me. They are army green night vision goggles cases. We found a few on Craig's List for $15 each. We bought 3. (I use one in my car as a tool box.) He painted mine yellow which just happened to be nearly a perfect match to the Wolfman tank side bags and tank bag that I have. The mount is fitted to the rack and slips on and off very easily. The box is attached to the mount and the whole thing is fixed to the rack.

I also have a matching tool tube but we haven't decided yet where to attach it. Maybe when I get some side cases it will mount there.

I love it!! :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Road Tripping

Yesterday was the first day of fitness boot camp so I packed a bag of workout clothes for the week. It's M-W-F. As I was loading up the bike, I realized, I had enough stuff packed and on the moto for a quick little get away. I had 4 sets of clothes (3 days of work out and what I was going to wear at work that day), two pairs of shoes, a yoga mat, a water bottle, and food for the week (32oz of yogurt, big bag of granola, 3 small packages of Fig Newtons, 2 granola bars, and a container of cashews. In addition to the stuff that's always on the bike like my rain gear, a few tools, flashlight, and various bungies. And it wasn't even packed super efficiently.
We have yet to do a road trip on the motos. I'm itching to do that and soon. The thought did cross my mind to just ride away. But, only briefly, since I do have to work and stuff. :-)

I drove to work today though. We're having some very unpredictable weather. There was rain at my house. I drove through some snow flurries. Reports of hail and lightning all around me but I didn't see any. And it is sunny and windy in Boulder. There are some scary looking dark clouds out there.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hubby's latest project for me...

He's been working on this trunk for the BMW for a little while. It's been too cold to really work on it much, especially the painting. But, now that the weather's warmed up, he's been on a role. I love the yellow color! It is very close to the same yellow as my side tank bags. The part he was still working on was how to attach it to the rear rack so it wouldn't come off. Today, we figured it out. I'll post more photos and details when it is done.

The other project is this tool tube. I saw one on eBay and asked him if he wanted to make one for me. Of course he did because he's the best! It's now the same yellow as the trunk. And, he's going to coat it with some reflective finish spray paint. We aren't sure how that will work but it can't hurt I suppose. I'm thinking we may try to mount the tool tube on top of the trunk. Here's the spray paints he's using.
Stay tuned for more!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Parking Pass

My motorcycle parking pass expired today. The university has some odd rules about moto parking passes. The pass is a sticker that goes on a plate next to your license plate. They have two versions you can purchase for $5 (when I bought mine a few years ago). The passes come in about three varieties with different expiration dates. The expiration dates seem to be fairly random. And the parking department seems to have no control over the range of dates. They get what is sent to them. This time around the options were a pass that expires in May 2010, a pass that expires in August 2010, or a pass that expires in March 2012. Yes, 2012, that's not a typo. I was hoping to get one for a year but that wasn't an option. They let you know that if you want to get a refund, for example, you purchase a 2 year pass and decide you don't want to use it for a few months, you can bring the pass back and get a refund. Keep in mind, it's a sticker. So, you have to peel it off to get your refund. And then, when you want to buy another, you can get another.

Another odd thing is you can't buy a new pass until the old one expires. So, I couldn't buy a new one yesterday. They also won't mail them to you unless you do a payroll deduction. So, you can't pay for them online, like you can a car parking pass. But, if you have a car parking pass, you get a free moto parking pass.

So, I guess I'll be at this job for at least another two years, since that's how long my pass is for. Oh, if I want to pay for the longer pass using payroll deduction, they'll charge me the monthly rate, which goes up each fiscal year. But, if I pay for it outright, I pay the current fiscal year's monthly rate for the duration. I'd set it up as payroll deduction so I didn't have to shell out all of that cash right now. But, I think I'll save myself some money and just pay for it outright.