Author Archives: Justin Hughes

About Justin Hughes

Just a guy with a lifelong fascination of anything on wheels.

Puig Clip-On Windscreen Visor

IMG_3134

My new windshield extension arrived right on time from Revzilla. It’s super simple, and at first doesn’t look worth its $108.85 sale price for a piece of clear plastic and two small brackets. But as I assembled and installed it, I could see that the money goes into a well thought out design and high quality parts. A single Allen wrench is all you need. Naturally I lost all of mine in the move, so I took a quick trip to buy a replacement after tearing the house apart looking for them.

That was the most time consuming part of the installation. Two bolts attach each bracket to the visor, and a single bolt loosens and tightens the clamp onto the top of the existing windshield. The clamp is extremely well padded where it clamps down, and shouldn’t hurt the windshield at all. Once attached, I could see how well this should work for me. The visor is easy to raise, lower, and tilt, but the notches in its movement that hold it in place are strong and rigid to prevent vibration. Not only do I have a few heights available to me, I could hypothetically even use it as a wing to channel air down at me behind the windshield for cooling in hot weather. It’ll definitely take some experimentation once it’s warm enough to ride again.

That may happen as early as next week, according to the forecast. I’m not sure if mornings will be warm enough to ride to work yet, but with highs in the 50s and 60s and lows in the 40s, it just might be. In March. Ridiculous, but I’ll take it!

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Updates and First Ride of 2016

pc800

A lot’s gone on since I last posted five months ago. Most notably, the bike had a garage to spend the winter in – mine. Elana and I moved into a house together in early December. Thanks to unusually warm weather, I was able to ride my bike from my old apartment complex to the new house, and tuck it away in the garage for the winter. I’ll be able to take much better care of the bike now. Not that I was slacking much before, but DIY oil changes are now possible (it’ll be getting one soon), as well as a whole lot of cleaning that I haven’t had the facilities to do properly. It’s also great to put a roof over it. The cover that Elana got me last spring is already looking rather well worn after only one season of use, so it’ll live inside year round – except when I’m riding it, of course.

I’m living about half an hour west of where I used to, farther away from Boston. This means I’m much closer to the types of roads I prefer to ride. Even the road I live on now is a fun set of twisties. Western MA and NH are both pretty close, which means I’m going to have some fun riding ahead of me this summer, especially since I won’t have to spend an hour or two fighting my way out of the slow congested suburbs anymore.

It’s been a rather mild winter. We’ve gotten a little snow and a week of particularly cold weather, but we’ve also had fairly mild temperatures a lot of the time, too. Today temperatures rose well above 50*F. This has happened a few times already, but today was the first time it happened when I had no other plans. So I decided it was time to pull the PC800 out of its winter slumber and take a short shakedown cruise. I added air to the tires and oil to the engine, but the battery didn’t need a boost to crank enough to get the engine to fire. I’ve gone through a couple of batteries that died just from sitting outside for the winter, so I’m glad that’s not an issue this year. After testing the other systems in the driveway, I headed out. I filled up with gas to dilute the Sta-Bil in the tank to help it run better.

Then I set a course north, first through some of the back roads I don’t yet know through my new hometown, then out to Rt. 119 through Willard Brook State Park – one of my favorite twisty  bits. I’m pretty thrilled that I’m so close to this area now. Then I took Rt. 31 up into NH, bombed around a little bit, and came home. All in all I was only gone about 90 minutes or so, but any opportunity to ride in “winter” is a good one. Both the bike and I are a bit out of practice. I didn’t want to wear myself out, nor go too far from home just in case the bike developed new problems while resting for the winter. But it didn’t, so life is good.

As I was able to maintain higher speeds than I’m used to on clear, open roads, I realized just how much wind noise there is in my helmet. The problem is that the Clearview windshield is too short for me. I mean, it works fine, but the wind deflected over the top of the windshield into the top of my helmet. If I duck my head an inch or two, it’s extremely quiet, but riding in that position will give me cramps in a real hurry. It isn’t a problem at slower speeds, but I’m going to be riding at higher speeds where I live now. Even when I commute to work I’ll have 15-20 minutes on the highway now.

My friend Bob has a windshield extension on his ex-cop Harley that he says works rather well, so I started researching something similar for my PC800. I ended up ordering a Puig clip-on visor from RevZilla. I won’t need to  drill any holes in the windshield, and it looks like it will adjust nicely to direct air over my head instead of into it. I’m looking forward to installing and testing it. I’ll be sure to show ‘n’ tell you all about it.

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SaddleSore 1000?

Another month, another lack of any serious rides. But a recent article on LaneSplitter gave me a wacky idea – an Iron Butt SaddleSore 1000.

Such a ride – 1000 miles in 24 hours – goes completely against my usual philosophy of motorcycle trips. I like to pick fun, twisty roads to explore, take my time, make stops along the way, and generally enjoy the trip rather than be on a strict schedule. The SS1k requires the opposite approach. It’s all about putting the miles behind you and making the best progress you possibly can. The best approach for this is to stick to the superslab, which is something I usually try to avoid. Why would a ride like this interest me at all?

My main problem for the past couple of years is that I simply haven’t had the time to take the longer trips like I used to. By definition, the SS1k takes place in a single day. I can schedule it fairly easily, and change the date if I need to with no problem. I wouldn’t want to do it in the rain, for example. It’s an excuse to get me out on the bike for a long ride, and an interesting challenge to undertake. It’s not so much putting me out of my comfort zone, since I’m perfectly comfortable on superslabs, but it’s definitely something I’ve never tried before. I’ve never ridden even 500 miles in a single day, never mind 1000. So it’s worth a shot.

I certainly can’t jump from what little riding I’ve been doing straight into a SS1k. Like a marathon runner, I’ll have to work my way up to it. I’ve already had it in mind to take a day trip including the entire length of New York’s Taconic State Parkway. That would be roughly a 400 mile loop, mostly superslab, which would give me a taste of what a SS1k would be like. I also will not be doing it this year. I don’t have time to build up to it. Nights are shorter than days now, and optimally I’d tackle this sometime near the summer solstice, with the maximum available daylight for safety. (I may also add some better driving lights to the PC800 before then, especially if I attempt a SS1k since it will require some high speed night riding no matter what.) I’d have time to get used to riding again in the spring, do a Taconic loop as a warmup, and tackle a SS1k in mid to late June of next year.

There’s also the question of a route. Optimally, I’d plan a nice 1000 mile loop of superslabs to ride around. That’s pretty easy in the middle of the US, but I live in New England. Houlton, ME, on the Canadian border, is “only” 364 miles from home, and I don’t want to lose any time at border crossings. This is unfortunate, not only because Maine is a beautiful place to ride, but also because of speed limits from 70-75mph much of the way, allowing a higher legal average speed and the ability to maintain it unobstructed due to the lack of traffic. There aren’t any east-west superslabs across northern New England, so I can’t make a big loop out of it without seriously compromising my speed, negating the advantage of the higher speed limits in Maine.

The best solution may not be the most interesting route, but the most effective – straight west on I-90 for about 500 miles, turn around, and come back. West is the only direction I can go 500 miles without hitting water, the Canadian border, or the mess of traffic around New York City. Technically I-80 across Pennsylvania is another possibility, but I know from previous trips to Pennsic that it’s slow, full of traffic, has lots of construction (usually 20 miles shut down to one lane so that a single PennDOT worker can sip coffee on the side of the road), and is generally quite frustrating. But I-90 across New York is much better, despite the lower 65mph speed limit than Maine. The only real potential slowdown is in Buffalo, and Waze has gotten me around it before. There’s a Kwik Fill gas station just across the PA border that’s 519 miles from home – a good turnaround point that puts a few extra miles in the bank in case my calculations are a little bit off.

So those are my thoughts for now. I have plenty of time to plan and prepare over the winter. We’ll see if the challenge still appeals to me in the spring.

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Three Months Later…

Wow, I’ve been slacking around here. My other writing projects and sites have taken off so much I’ve neglected to keep up on the motorcycle front. So here’s what’s been going on.

A whole lot of nothing.

I’ve had the PC800 for sale, a few nibbles, and one serious bite, but nothing’s panned out. I haven’t had much chance to ride anyway, between work, vacation, other commitments, and really humid weather that would have me sweating my nuts off by the time I get to work – an unpleasant situation for everyone, I’m sure. I have gotten a few decent half day rides in, though, including one cut short by dodging a bunch of pop-up thunderstorms halfway through (I got home dry and unscathed), and I’ve rebuilt my confidence in this bike. Also, my friend with the Marauder’s life is going through some changes, and the reasons for him to sell it are falling away, which has led me to encourage him to keep it if he wants to start riding again. That would mean I’d keep the PC800, because why not – it’s a good bike in good condition, plus it’s already paid off and it has a title with my name on it. So we’ll see.

I’d really like to get a weekend or at least a full day trip in before the end of the season. I’m just not sure when, because life has this way of kind of sweeping me away.

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Pulling the Trigger

It’s for sale. If you read this blog, you already know the details about the bike. Its inspection runs out today, and my plan to flip the PC800 profit into sending the Marauder to the shop has been approved by my friend who still owns the Marauder, so it’s happening.

It’s kind of bittersweet. I had hoped for more tours with this bike. But we had some good times, and after my first all day trip in two years last weekend, I know it’s reliable once again, which makes it a good time to find it a new home. Today is the last day it’s street legal as I’ve let the inspection run out, having anticipated getting the Marauder on the road by now and being too lazy to get two bikes inspected. So I’ll be without a legal or working bike for a while, but I can handle it. June is looking to be an insanely busy month for me anyway.

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Little Progress

Wow, there goes another month. As usual, I haven’t done much riding. I’ve been busy most weekends, and the weather hasn’t cooperated on other weekends, or in the mornings for riding to work. But it’s a beautiful day today and supposed to be the same tomorrow, so I’m thinking I’ll take a day trip to somewhere tomorrow – something I haven’t done in two years.

For what little riding I have done, the PC800 has worked flawlessly. Today I spent a little time de-modifying it so I can put it up for sale, because while it’s running like a top is the best time to sell it if I’m going to follow through with that idea. The rest of the ham radio APRS setup is out (and I might have a buyer for it), and I removed the stickers from the trunk lid. Because it’s running so reliably is why I’m considering what could be my last major romp on it tomorrow.

The Marauder is coming along, but it probably needs a carburetor cleaning after sitting for a couple of years. I can crank it and get it running smoothly on full choke for a couple of seconds, but then it dies, and no amount of cranking is improving it. I’m considering selling the PC800 now, then using the profit from the sale to send the Marauder to the shop and get whatever it needs to be put back on the road. The timing of this decision also coincides with Massachusetts motorcycle inspections running out at the end of May, and I don’t really want the hassle of getting the PC800 inspected if I’m just about to sell it anyway.

So that’s where I am in the world of bikes. I basically just need to get off my butt and make this swap happen. But not before one last cruise.

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It’s Alive!

Elana and I went up to Brian’s yesterday and extracted the bike from behind his dad’s old Mercedes. There was an oil spot on the cardboard we had conveniently left under it – the result of my tiny leak all winter. We topped it off. The lights turned on with the ignition, and the engine cranked over when I hit the starter. It needed a boost off Brian’s charger to get through the extra cranking necessary for the first start of the year, but it fired up and ran great! It just had a little extra smoke in the exhaust, thanks to the Sta-Bil in the gas.

i geared up, set up my phone to navigate, and plotted a non-highway route home. And then I rode – first ride of the year! The bike worked perfectly. Elana watched her phone closely for a call from me in case I ran into trouble – as happened a few times last year – but not this time. I had a pleasant ride home with no excitement whatsoever – in other words, perfect. Even better, the bike had no problem restarting itself after a 90 minute ride. No new battery necessary this year!

But that’s not all. I also managed to revive my crashed TomTom GPS. I researched the problem online, and found a solution that basically involved nuking it from orbit, then letting the TomTom Home software download and rebuild it. It worked! I didn’t even lose my Canada maps.

Of course, it’s raining with temperatures in the 40s today. But I’m back on two wheels. I plan to hang into the PC800 until the Marauder is up and running, which I’ll work on some more soon, just so I can ride. I’ll also start working hard on selling the Silverwing, just to finally make it go away.

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Making plans

Scheduling with my friend Brian, who has garaged the PC800 for me over the winter, has been tricky due to his work schedule. The only weekend he’s around this month was this coming one, when Elana and I were supposed to be driving a sweep vehicle at the Empire State Performance Rally. But since the rally has been postponed until the fall, I’m suddenly around, and have made plans to retrieve my bike this Sunday. Hopefully it starts!

I say that because I also tinkered with the Marauder a bit last night. I was sick all last week, but when I returned to work the replacement battery was waiting for me, so I installed it and tried to fire it up. The previous issue of lacking electrical power is solved. It cranks and cranks and cranks, but doesn’t seem to be firing. The gas was treated with Sta-Bil before its long sleep, but the tank wasn’t full, so I added a gallon of premium to dilute it a bit. It sounds like it wants to fire, but it just doesn’t. It was getting late at this point, and I didn’t feel like pulling the gas tank to access and check the spark plugs. But that’s the next step.

With temperatures finally reaching reasonable levels, it’s time to start riding again. The only question is which bike will be ready first?

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And So It Begins…

With temperatures in the high 50s today, and the 10 day forecast showing a warming trend, it’s time. I ordered a battery for the Marauder today. When it arrives, it’s time to put it back on the road. It’s also time to work on getting the PC800 back from its winter home, and put both Hondas up for sale.

It’s also time to put my summer tires on the car instead on my snow tires. This will inevitably cause another snowstorm, but at least it’ll be out of the way.

Speaking of cars, I’ll mention that my writing on Oppositelock has been quite successful. In fact, a number of pieces I wrote have been featured on the front page of Jalopnik over the past few months, beyond all expectations. You can read my car related stuff here. I’ll keep posting bike stuff here, too, as usual.

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Zzz… Huh? What?

It’s been a rough four months. The Boston area received more snow than ever in recorded history, and it still hasn’t warmed up much. Just yesterday snow was still falling from the sky, and it accumulated slightly over the weekend. Normally I’d already be writing about springtime bike preparations, but we’re still dealing with “Second Winter,” which is like the Hobbit tradition of Second Breakfast, but not nearly as enjoyable.

Still, as the calendar is about to arbitrarily flip into April despite the weather seeming more like February, I’m starting to think about bikes again. I have two to sell, and one to prepare, starting with a new battery. There just hasn’t been any point to buying and installing that battery until I’m fairly certain the Marauder won’t end up sitting for a few more weeks due to even more Second Winter and going dead on me.

i have to give a shout out to Brian and Amanda for storing my PC800 this winter. If they hadn’t, I would have lost my bike in the snowbanks in my parking lot. If the condition of my bicycle is any indication, it would have been destroyed by the plows, like my bicycle’s back wheel that now closely resembles a potato chip in shape. And another shout out to Jonah, who is still storing my Silverwing, which never actually got sold.

As the calendar flips, it’s time to start trying to sell the Hondas to make room and make some money to cover the Marauder purchase and minor modifications, like a back rest. So if you’d like to own a piece of Two Wheel Tripping history, drop me a line. With a pedigree like that, I’ll have to give you a discount…

Still, it shouldn’t be long now, hopefully. The snowbanks are shrinking. The roads are growing back to full width. And I can actually see around most corners on my commute now. Someday I’ll ride again…

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