Sunday, November 26, 2006

18k Service on the R1200ST

Well, I finally did it, even if it was a few miles late (at 19, 300).

Rebecca came over for bagels and lox on Thanksgiving morning. After finishing breakfast, we headed out to the garage to tackle the service on the R1200ST.

I was fairly confident that the valve adjust would be a breeze. I had printed out the entire section on valve adjusts from my service CD, and also a very good thread from Advrider.

Instructions? Check! Tools? Check! Gloves? Check! Grease smudge on nose? CHECK!

Open engine surgery: this is the scary part.

The valve adjust was even easier than expected. I don't think I'll ever again pay a dealership to do it. Next we moved on to an oil change, draining some very black oil and refilling it with clean Shell Rotella T Synthetic.

Next step: Beg a Twinmax-owning friend to help me sync the throttle bodies.

Full Beaver Moon Tech Day

Last weekend, Rebecca, Deb, Eric, and I rode up to Canton, TX to attend a tech day, BBQ, and camp-out held by Howard and Jill from TWTex.

I only took a few pictures, but the photo thread is here on TWT.

I didn't get anything done on the R1200ST, but I *supervised* while Rebecca did an oil change, replaced brake pads, and did a brake fluid bleed. Deb got assisted with some electrical wiring, and Eric was along for the ride.

The hosts were prepared with excellent smoked turkey and brisket. The bonfire was huge, and made even more entertaining by the meteor shower happening that night. The four of us snuggled up on Rebecca's queen size air mattress to get a better view (and keep warm).

The ride back to Houston on Sunday took a little detour through Tyler and the piney woods with lunch at a cafe in Henderson. We were having such a good time that it almost didn't matter that we were eight miles from the Louisiana border at sunset.

The ride into Houston in darkness was a good test of my new winter gear. My on-board temperature gauge was in the high 40s to low 50s. I was using my Widder vest, heated grips, and balaclava. I was very glad of the extra clothes I'd brought for layering purposes.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Cool and Crisp

This morning it was 54 degrees, with a clear blue sky and a light breeze. Perfect riding weather, eh?

I could just imagine bundling into my warm new winter gear, plugging in the Widder vest, flipping on the grip warmers, and heading out for an exciting adventure on the road.

Instead I mentally waved to my little sister, Amy. She departed this morning in her pick-up truck on a quick dash from Houston to San Luis Obispo, CA to get her belongings out of storage. She needs to be back by Turkey day, so it's not exactly a pleasure cruise at 1730 miles each way.

I'm still jealous. Did I say that I love road trips?

She called me while I was commuting to work in my truck to ask for advice about a bypass around San Antonio that her GPS is telling her to take.

No worries. Tomorrow morning's weather will likely be a repeat. And Tomorrow (singing: to-morrow!) I'll be loading up the R1200ST for a TWT tech day / campout / BBQ up north followed by a nice long riding day on Sunday as I head home with a detour through the piney woods.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Cancun Photos

Just got back from Cancun this evening. I'm not going to do a big report, but here are a few choice pictures:

The beach at my hotel, the Hilton Cancun:
We arrived at sunset on Wednesday. I spent a few hours on Thursday relaxing on the beach, sipping a fresh lime daiquiri.

On Friday, I decided to be adventurous and take the ferry to Isla Mujeres. I took the Cancun city bus to a ferry terminal downtown, getting off at the wrong stop and briefly wandering around in a less touristy area of Cancun before getting back on the bus.

By the port:

It was a 25 minute cruise to Isla Mujeres:

I had lunch on the island: a filet of of fish "isleƱo" style. The island is a popular jumping off point for diving and snorkeling tours, so the beaches were littered with small watercraft.

The sun was getting low during my cruise back to Cancun, so I took the opportunity to get some "sunset on the water" pics.

On Saturday I took a tour bus out to Chichen Itza, an ancient Mayan archaeological site.
Ball court: the game you'd secretly rather lose, because the WINNER gets sacrificed to the gods.

A sunken pond located a few minutes walk away from the main complex. Supposedly, female sacrifices were draped with jewelry, tied hand and foot, and thrown into the deep waters. Tons of jade and human bones have been retrieved from this pond. Those sheer cliffs lined the entire perimeter of the 50-some meter diameter pond...

The main attraction, the great pyramid of Chichen Itza. The chamber on top holds a statue where human hearts were sacrificed. Unfortunately, visitors are no longer allowed to climb the pyramid. Too many people have fallen off the steep steps or vandalized the stones.

A lesser pyramid. There were far too many pyramids to see in the 3 hours I was there. Notice the snakes forming the railing of the steps (see the heads at the base of the pyramid).

One more of the largest and most famous pyramid.

On the way back to Cancun we stopped at a cenote and climbed 91 steps down to swim in a beautiful cave lined with stalactites. The water was cool and refreshing after the heat of walking around the Mayan site.

I got in a few more hours on the beach on Sunday before we had to head to the airport. It was overcast and rainy, but it was still warm and pleasant to jump waves in the sea.
These are the views from the balcony off my hotel room.

Thumbnails with links to all of my pictures (close to 200) from this trip are here.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Review: Racer Multi-Top Gloves

Waterproof & Good Feel, Without Compromising Protection:

I'm kinda a gear-collector (to put it nicely). I have several different pairs of jackets, pants, gloves, and boots. I look for quality and comfort, but also protection.

Lately I've been particularly challenged in choosing gloves. My every-day riding gloves (Tourmaster Scarabs) are leather, with armor over the knuckles, a long adjustable gauntlet, and a wrist-strap to keep them on my hands in the event of a crash.

My cold-weather riding gloves are similar. Tourmaster Coldfront Carbons are leather, waterproof, and have the same protective features with a whole lot more bulk in the form of insulation. Problem is....they suck to ride in. The insulation takes away from feeling the controls.

I've also got a couple of cheap pairs of less bulky waterproof textile gloves, but I never felt comfortable with the protection levels offered and tend to avoid riding in them.

I really wanted a happy medium.... something with good protective features, but waterproof without the bulk.

About a year ago I found just such a wonder: the Racer Multi-top. I finally scraped together the cash to purchase them two weeks ago.

I first tried them on last year at Road Rider, a large gear store in San Jose, CA and later found them available online at Motostrano in Redwood City, CA.

From the description on Motostrano

Aniline-nappa leather l kangaroo-leather palm and fingers l HIPORA Waterproof l Schoeller® Keprotec® backed l plastic mesh knuckle protector l 2-layer reverse leather palm l non insulated for exceptional fit and feel. A sporty waterproof and breathable touring glove, kangaroo leather palm, Keprotec abrasion resistance, and highest quality craftsmanship.

Comment from another friend who owns these gloves:
"warm, comfy, well built, good mid-weight gloves"


The soft kangaroo palm is flexible and the liner slides comfortably against skin. The hipora waterproof and breathable liner doesn't add much bulk, but these gloves definitely aren't as sensitive as a single layer of leather. Still, when you compare them to something like the Tourmaster Coldfront Carbon (which I own for arctic temperatures), they are like a second skin.

I find riding with the Tourmasters to be difficult. The lining in the Racers subtracted a little from feel, but I would be quite comfortable running some tight twisties in them. I could feel the throttle turning under my fingers and had no problem reaching for the levers.


I haven't done extensive testing, but I had to commute home a few nights ago on the freeway in 50 degree weather (a half hour ride). I felt no need to turn on my gripwarmers. They are advertised as unlined, but the extra few layers that make them waterproof seems to add some significant windchill least enough to get you down to cold temperatures supplemented by gripwarmers.


These gloves seem to run a bit small. I normally wear a men's small in gloves. The Racer men's medium was a better fit, leaving more room for my thumb when curled around the bars, without too much excess in the other fingers. A friend purchased a men's large about a year ago and decided later that a men's XL would have been a better choice. Women's sizes are available.

Going up in size a little bit might be iffy in daily wear race gloves, but isn't an altogether bad idea when it comes to cold weather gloves. I often find that my fingers swell and get stiff in really cold weather, making gloves that fit well in a warm store become slightly constricting and annoying in the cold.


Pricey - $155 from Motostrano. I managed to catch them during a sale and got $10 knocked off that price, with free shipping.

Monday, November 06, 2006

New Gear & One Year on the R1200ST

Just in time for winter.....

I decided a few months ago that my FirstGear Hypertex Air Pants weren't going to cut it for winter. While I don't expect to see any snow, Texas does get colder than California.

After much research and agonizing, I settled on a new Tourmaster Transition jacket, Tourmaster Caliber pants, Sidi Strada Tepor boots, and Racer Multi-top gloves. I updated my gear page with short descriptions of my new gear.

A good in-depth review will have to wait. I've had the stuff for about a week, but only ridden once. The weather has been bad and I had to deal with Cali's illness. Furthermore, I'm leaving for Cancun on Wednesday for an office "retreat" that will last through next weekend.

Look for pictures from Cancun over the next few days, and hopefully a gear review and maintenance write-up once I get back. (Yeah - I still haven't done my 18k service).

In other news, I will have officially been a BMW owner for one year on November 13. In celebration, I finally joined the BMWMOA (BMW Motorcycle Owners Club). The birthday boy R1200ST has 18,800 miles as of today, and I doubt I'll be able to put any more on by the 13th.

Belated Kitty update

I brought Cali home from the vet on Friday. The little guy cost me $730 in vet bills. I'm still debating whether he's worth it. ;)

His surgery went well.

Gory details:
After opening him up, the vet was able to "milk" the rubber cap out of his stomach and down into his colon, where it was retrieved rectally. This meant that they didn't have to cut into his intestinal tract and avoided increased risk of infection. He's got a 4" long line of stiches on his shaved belly. They come out at the end of this week. Thankfully, the vet said stitches removal and the follow-up visit is already included in the bills I paid....or I'd have my dad do it.

Cali was also diagnosed with mild pancreatitis. He's on mild prescription food this week and not allowed to leave my room. Happily, he hasn't done any more vomiting and seems to have plenty of energy. He's been very affectionate and uber-cute in his soft blue E-collar. We spent a lot of the weekend curled up on the bed together.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

STN on hiatus

One of my favorite internet forums,, is currently down while some long-needed maintenance is performed. No one quite knows how long that is going to take, so activity levels are up at a couple of regional forums as STN addicts look for another way to get their fix.

For Region 1 (west coast), twist and bsd43 have put up

For Region 4 (north central), try

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

This little kitty.... having a bad week.

I mentioned in my last post that my cat, Cali, has been vomiting since Sunday morning.

I dropped him off at the vet this morning (his second vet visit of the week) for bloodwork and x-rays. They called me a little while ago with results.

It seems Cali swallowed the rubber end cap from a door stop. He's enjoyed playing with them from kittenhood, so I was able to agree with the vets guess of what he was seeing on the xray.

Cali will stay at the clinic overnight and get rehydrated before having surgery tomorrow morning.

I'm just glad to KNOW what is wrong with him. I think I'll probably be funding replacement of all the door stops in the house with hinge-mounted ones.