• Dec 30 2011

    Around the West by Goldwing


    Read the first part of this story here


    Stefan took us through the various features of the Goldwing, and there were many.  The key fob can lock the three panniers remotely, there are two wheels to control the temperatures of the heated seats and grips, and a little knob opens a flap by the headers to allow warm air onto your tootsies.  Our Goldwing was, in a word, lush.  It didn’t have ABS or an airbag, but it was far and away the most complicated and well-equipped motorcycle we’ve ever ridden.  We were relieved to see that it was wearing Metzeler ME880s, since riding unfamiliar roads with a passenger, full panniers, and on someone else’s $20k+ motorcycle is the last place you want to make any sort of compromise on tires.



    After being shown how the reverse button works (with the bike running, select neutral, press a toggle-switch, then press the starter button to run reverse off the starter motor), we nervously stepped astride for a test-ride around the block.  The bike weighs well over 900 lbs unladen, and at a walking pace, it certainly feels like it.  The clutch takeup was quite sharp, and the first time we let it out the bike leapt forward.


    We were finally off!  At the turn out of the parking lot, our excitement subsided—the ‘wing felt so big and heavy that we weren’t sure we could get it straight in the first lane, and had to wait until two lanes were clear before we were comfortable proceeding.  Once straight, the big six took over (and has some weird hum, probably from the alternator, which has to power four headlights, four brake lights, heated everything, and the stereo) and launched us down the road.



    We went back to Escape Eagles, packed the rest of our gear in the panniers, and headed out onto I-15.  You feel safe at speed on a Goldwing, in the cocoon of still air behind the adjustable windshield, and able to engage warp-drive with the twist of a heated grip.  However much people joke about it being a two-wheeled car, it’s still a motorcycle, with the same lovely lean through corners, the same wind noise (though much less of it) and the same difficult communication where you can’t quite hear your passenger.  We didn’t have intercoms in our helmets, but wished we did; without them, we had to slow down to 55 if ever we wanted to chat.



    The first 60 miles of our trip were spent on southbound I-15, and we wondered if maybe we’d made the wrong decision.  A rental car would have cost half as much, we would have been able to chat the whole time, and we wouldn’t be chilly at all.  But then we turned onto Cima Rd toward Cima, Ca.  It was a two-lane, rough-textured concrete road through the desert.  We saw no tumbleweeds, but plenty of tumbleweed candidates.


    On the highway, there’s always a struggle to maintain enough attention.  It’s boring, frankly.  Finally free of that monotony, we blasted toward Cima, taking in the desert countryside and keeping our eyes peeled just in case a desert-dwelling beast decided it was time to bound across the road.  We were headed to Palm Springs, and out of the three hundred miles between there and Las Vegas, we spent only a third on highways.  The rest were on deserted two-lane roads through huge desert valleys.  The Goldwing never skipped a beat, and returned 37.7 mpg at our first fuel stop.  We were smitten.


    We rented the ‘wing from Escape Eagles


  • Dec 29 2011

    Yamaha’s 2012 WR450F launched on Metzeler’s 6 Days Extreme

    Here’s a video from the European launch of the 2012 Yamaha WR450F.  The new big-daddy WR is basically a YZ250 chassis with the delectable 5-titanium-valve WR450F motor and wide-ratio 5-speed transmission shoehorned in.  The outgoing WR’s 39mm carb has been replaced by fuel injection, which means that there will be no more fiddling with jets for different temperatures and altitudes.



    The WR450f also gets the YZ’s KYB SSS forks and shock, electric-start, and slim bodywork.  An enduro computer comes standard—you could probably make this bike street-legal in most states, and it’d be a blast to ride it to a race (the bike is eligible for a California green sticker).



    The bikes in the video are all running Metzeler’s race-proven MCE 6 Days Extreme.  It’s the same tire Taddy Blazusiak used to win the inaugural X Games Enduro X event this year.  It’s a tough tire, with Metzeler’s “High Resistence Polyester” carcass and “X-ply” constuction, which keeps the tire going in the most extreme conditions.  The knob design, distribution, and compound provides excellent traction in both dry and wet conditions—check out some of Taddy’s endurocross performances for proof!



    See Yamaha’s WR450F page for more on the bike


    See Metzeler’s 6 Days Extreme page for more on the tire


  • Dec 27 2011

    A Ruckus in Texas


    Jake Reining’s slammed Ruckus is but one month old, yet it has already taken Best Bike at Import FacOff Houston, and received 3rd place in “Best Import” at WekFest Fort Worth.  The best part?  That 3rd place was in a category that included cars as well.



    At Ridexperience, we’re well aware of the fun to be had running about on small-displacement bikes.  We own an old Honda Cub and used to rip around New York City on a pair of 50cc, two-stroke Honda Hobbit mopeds.  Reining’s Ruckus certainly looks the part, though it looks like it sacrifices some rideability at the altar of coolness.




    Honda’s Ruckus is already a stand-out scooter; it has chunky tires, an exposed frame, and comically-friendly dual headlights.  To achieve the slammed look, the frame has been extended and air suspension allows the bike to be lowered right to the ground.  The suspension has been built off ForjWorks air suspension kit–and this is the first Ruckus ForjWorks has put a kit on.  ForjWorks went nuts on this setup–there is a polished aluminum air tank under a custom Recaro-badged seat, and the 3” shock is powered by a ViAir compressor.


    From the AirSociety article:  Big props go out to the owner Jake Reining, Team Leader for the North Texas/Oklahoma chapter of Team Sun*Works (a National car crew based out of Houston), Alex Morales of AKGarageworks for making this vision come alive, and of course Paul Higashi from ForjWorks for making this first of its kind project come alive. Greg from MNNTHBX on definitely gets shout outs for making another batch of his “Lazy Eye” headlights.




  • Dec 26 2011

    Metzeler’s Feelfree Wintec Range Expands


    Scooter riders rely on their steeds for practical transportation year-round, and many are big fans of Metzeler’s Feelfree Wintec–a winter tire that keeps scooter riders safe on two wheels during the coldest months of the year.  The tires have had an excellent reception, so Metzeler is introducing a few new sizes to the range.  The new front tire sizes are 100/80-16, 110/70-16, and 110/70-13, and the new sizes for the rear are 120/80-16, 130/70-16, and 140/60-14.  The first pair of sizes fits 150cc bikes like Honda’s SH150i, the second pair fits 300cc bikes like Honda’s SH300i, and the final set fits Piaggio’s 3-wheeled MP3.


    The Wintec line was created in 2007 for maxi-scooters like the Tmax 500 and Burgman 650, and was a fantastic success.  Wintecs allowed riders to ride year-round with surefooted traction, and also had reliable performance in hot and dry conditions.



    From Metzeler’s press release:


    The Feelfree Wintec tread design is the most visible application of Metzeler technology. The tread, characterised by siping, was designed to optimise the empty/full ratio of both front and rear tyres in order to maximise performance, especially in wet conditions, enhancing water drainage. The sipes play a fundamental role because, breaking up the water plane, they provide better traction on wet surfaces (centre of the tread) and an excellent feeling of contact in bends (shoulders). The shape of the sipes was designed to ensure fast warm-up without making the tread excessively mobile.


    Feelfree Wintec is made up of both a conventional structures (for sizes from 10″ to 15″) as well as radial structures(sizes from 14″ to 16″). The conventional structures are made up of a carcass on which two or more layers of rubber textile material are overlaid, with different angles of inclination based on the technical construction requirements and the different desired speed indexes.


    The radial versions associate the famous Metzeler 0° steel belt with a lightened carcass in order to increase ease of riding and handling at high speeds. This technology constitutes a Metzeler patent which the engineers have developed even further, introducing variations on the density of the steel cords in the various areas of the profile.


    Feelfree Wintec has a “three zone A-B-A pattern” which is able to provide a larger tread area. “A-B-A” represents the arrangement of the steel belt, tighter on the shoulder and less at the centre, with a new optimised profile which ensures progressive performance, predictability and maximum riding precision.


    The compound plays an important role and thanks to a specific study on the composition mix, Feelfree is able to provide exceptional grip in all weather conditions. A patented process with an appropriate mix of compounds allows the properties of three different polymers to be added, each of which glazes over at different temperatures. This new patented technology ensures grip on wet surfaces even in extremely cold temperatures (-10°C) and at the same time provides excellent physical strength. An appropriate hardness of the compound in wet conditions and high temperatures stems from a perfectly balanced mixture of components (Silica + Carbon Black) created specifically for this tyre. Metzeler has also applied “Cap & Base” technology: strategic reinforcing fibres under the soft compound with a perfect balance of flexibility and rigidity between tread and structure which ensure transfer of road stress from the tread to the carcass, improving stability.


    To purchase Wintecs, check out Froogle


  • Dec 24 2011

    Scooped up a Goldwing in Vegas, no big deal

    The worst part about being on vacation is being stuck in a rental car.  It’s always a bite to drive around in an automatic shoebox in a nice sunny state while your sportsbike is sitting at home in a garage.


    For Christmas this year, we’re flying from New York to Las Vegas and visiting relatives in Arizona…  On a Goldwing!  We hooked up with Stefan at Escape Eagles motorcycle rental in Las Vegas.  They rent various models of Harleys from V-Rods to Electra Glides, but after looking at how many miles we’d be covering, and the expected temperature, we thought that a 1800cc flat-six with heated grips and heated seats would do us just fine.



    The cost seems to come out at about twice that of a rental car, but if you’re already headed out to Vegas and are planning to rent a car (as we were), it’s possible to turn a normal trip into a motorcycle trip for a couple hundred dollars a week.  Sounds totally worth it to us!



    We’ve never ridden a Goldwing, but we’ve heard rumors of a stereo, heated seats and grips, navigation, and even a stereo.  Of course, the real surprises will probably be the refinement, wind protection, and packaging.  We can’t wait to step astride, and will be posting trip-updates on the blog throughout the week.



    Check out Escape Eagles, and tell Stefan we sent you!