Friday, June 18 2004

Things I like about my motorcycle

  • Heated grips.
  • 60+ miles per gallon (they claim 55mpg at 75mph and vice versa, I’ve measured it at 62), 4 gallon tank.
  • Terrific headlight, brighter and with better coverage than many of the cars I’m out on the road with. The high-beam is rarely necessary, but still fun to use.
  • ABS brakes.
  • Smooth throttle response across the usable rev range (apparently a big improvement over the pre-2004 CS bikes (which some owners have found a cheap fix for)). The service loaner I rode yesterday had the problems described in these links, and it was not a fun ride.
  • Stuff bay. I’ll have to put up some pictures of this, but basically, the place where most bikes have their gas tank is a storage area on the CS, sized to fit a large helmet, tank bag, locking hard case, or powered speaker system. I’ve got the helmet spider installed on mine (as shown in my first baby picture), which hides under the tank bag when riding, and provides reasonable security for a helmet when parked. I’m not planning to buy the speakers.
  • Nimble. Hard to quantify, but compared to most of the other bikes I rode while shopping, it feels “sportier”. The low-mounted gas tank definitely contributes to this.
  • Comfortable riding position. My ride to work is about seventy miles of highway, with a strong crosswind most afternoons and evenings. The upright body position creates a stronger sail effect than a sportbike crouch (especially with the boxy Samsonite Moab backpack that’s holding my laptop and other accessories), but I don’t get blown around too much, and my back approves.
  • Ergonomic controls. All the buttons and switches are well-placed and sized, and easily operated with a gloved hand.
  • Accessory socket. The BMW battery charger plugs right into this, as does a heated vest. Yes, it sounds a little odd to make a fuss about electric heating in California in June, but the wind coming in off the Pacific is cool and damp, and when you’re zooming around on a motorcycle at 3am, you want heat.
  • Comfy seat. It could use a bit more padding for long trips, but the aftermarket has that covered.
  • Looks. Okay, it’s… “non-traditional,” but I think it’s rather attractive. The mirrors took some getting used to, but combined with the dual headlights they contribute to a bug-eyed monster effect from the front, and that’s a good thing. And I love the color.
  • Logo on side panel just the right size to replace with laminated printout of anime character. The leading candidate for this small customization is still Steel Angel Saki, but I’m exploring the options. Phil Foglio’s Buck Godot: Zap Gun For Hire series includes a small goofy-looking alien race that would look good on a round portrait. It’s not a sexy anime chick, but it seems appropriate: it’s called a Beemah.

What don’t I like? The current lack of support for hard luggage. BMW’s top case has been delayed due to mounting problems (and now that I’ve seen pictures, I understand why; the added “support brace” bolts onto the plastics, not the frame!), and is pretty small. The Happy Trails mounts for a full set of Givi cases look quite sturdy, but even if you just buy their side-case mounts, you have to take off the stock luggage-rack mount, which changes the lines of the bike. The Krauser side cases still look ugly to me, and Riderhaus seems to be in the middle of switching their online sales to Twisted Throttle. Hepco & Becker have mounts for side and top cases that look nice, but not only do you have to relocate your turn signals for the side mounts, there’s also just enough of a design change in the ’05 bikes that only one of their side-case styles will fit.

So, if I give up on the side cases for now, there are two basic options: Hepco & Becker and Givi. Unlike the current mount for the BMW case, both of these have supports that bolt onto the frame, and the cases you can mount are a lot larger (up to a 45 liter Givi scooter case or a 48 liter H&B). The price is about the same. I’m leaning slightly toward the Givi.

What’s the problem with side cases and bags? The gas cap. It’s located on the right side, below the passenger seat (where the logo is on the left side). All the standard products cover this space; many soft saddlebags would also extend through the space occupied by the luggage rack. The Happy Trails and Krauser side mounts partially obscure the rear turn signals; the H&B relocates them. Of course, the F650GS has the same design, but everyone’s worked around it; the CS seems to be the redheaded stepchild in the current BMW lineup.

Update: Still looking for a good Saki or Beemah graphic to use, but for now, I think I’ll go with this image from the free Girl Genius Holiday Gift Tag collection:

Mimmoth

Of course, if someone else pops a mimmoth, he’d add mine to his collection, but that joke will only make sense to people who’ve played the Girl Genius card game.