Motorcycle Riding Photography

This is a bit difficult to write because my public image is all about motorcycle safety and this topic flys in the face of logic. But God knows we didn’t get into motorcycling due to logic! I’ll have to say that motorcycle riding photography (taking pictures while you are riding) should be reserved for non group riding adventures and on slow speed roads if anyone is going to do it. I also have to say I was inspired by the interview with Josh Kurpius which I posted in March. He was featured in HOG magaizine this past month but not related to photography. Although this is dangerous it’s not like I’m practicing heel clickers for the X-Games.

Click here for Josh Kurpius Interview

I added Josh’s blog to my blogroll. He and his friends have a blog called Kemosabe and the Lodge.

Back in the spring Diana and I visited the Blue Ridge Parkway where I took alot of pictures using an old Nikon CoolPix 995. The Nikon was my first digital camera and it cost an arm and a leg. It had 3.34 megapixels and 4x zoom. The delay time before the camera would show image in the digital screen was terribly slow. Here are some pics I shot while riding.

going back across the viaduct

Rear View Mirror

here we go

across the valley

riding to the top of the world

road to heaven

The Nikon died on us and we covered Gettysburg Bike Week as reporters with our dinky Kodak EasyShare CX7530 with 5.0 megapixels. The on/off switch is a dial which is not good for a riding camera. Need a button to turn off and on with one hand. Very easy to shoot though even though I prefer a bigger camera to work while riding. Bigger cameras also have a neck strap which is required equipment for riding and shooting. A wrist strap doesn’t cut it! The neck strap must be comfortable! The cheap ones that come cameras are too rough. The one that came with my Nikon chewed up the back of my neck and I felt like I had a bad sunburn. The little Kodak camera was terrible indoors even with it’s flash on. The delay between pictures on this camera was also lagging. Here is one picture taken on the self guided tour through Gettysburg battlefields while riding.

Battlefield 1

For our trip to Fox Creek leathers and a return to the Blue Ridge Parkway we decided to upgrade. Diana will be upgrading to an SLR soon but only the most expensive SLR’s show the picture on the digital screen before you snap your shot. This won’t work for me for riding and shooting. I can’t be using the eyepiece to frame shots while riding! A big screen is a must. A screen that can angle and swivel is a bonus. I bought a Canon Power Shot SX20IS with 12.1 megapixel and 20x optical zoom. This camera was pretty expensive but seemed to be the best I could get while maintaining the simplicity of a point and shoot. The Canon accepts filters so I purchased a UV filter to protect the lens and improve quality of pictures. This camera has a great shape for right handed only operation. Can be turned on and off with thumb. Zoom can be controlled with index finger. The camera takes awesome video with really good sound. The swivel screen allows for great worm eye and overhead shots (not to be taken while riding).  The Nikon probably still works but the battery charger that powers the battery is probably what really died. The Nikon was powered by a strange hard to get and expensive rechargeable battery. One of the features we like about our Canon and our little Kodak is that they use AA batteries that you can buy anywhere. Here are some shots to compare with the previous Blue Ridge Parkway pictures.

Fox Creek Trip 1

return to Linn Cove viaduct

Foxcreek Trip 2

Foxcreek Trip 3

Foxcreek Trip 4

foxcreek Trip 5

Foxcreek Trip 6

SHIFT Lodown Street Jean

I reached a new biker accomplishment! I wore the same jeans everyday for a four day trip! This is a skill one needs in order to pack light. The jeans I talk about are the Kevlar Reinforced Lodown Street Jean made by Shift Racing. Part# 70137

Jay and his Lodown Jeans from Riders Discount

These jeans are comfortable as long as the temperatures are mild to cool. In warmer weather I would get a little monkey butt syndrome after a long day in the saddle. These jeans feel very sturdy and protective. They feature three layers. They are made of durable 14 oz denim. They have Kevlar reinforced panels in the saddle, knee, hip and shin. The Kevlar is covered by a layer of cotton poplin for comfort. Needless to say although I feel protected in these pants, they are not my first choice on a hot humid summer day like the ones we had this year. Here is an inside out picture of the jeans so you can see the protective kevlar panels.

kevlar reinforcement

These jeans are sturdy but I think their claim to fame is style! Most Kevlar reinforced riding pants look like something from the generic aisle at K-Mart. Not these jeans! These are way styl’n and are probably aimed at the younger sport bike crowd. I feel younger wearing them! The pockets are positioned and cut differently. The stitching is strong and attractive. There is even gratuitous decorative stitching. The texture of the denim itself is more like a designer jean than a riding jean. There is some designer fraying of the material on the edges of the pockets. If you want a Kevlar reinforced riding jean that doesn’t look like a pair of Wally World specials than you need to check these out.

lodown jean rear pocket

Lodwon jean front

The pants retail for $79.95 which is pretty good in comparision to other Kevlar reinforced pants. They only come in different waist sizes. You have to shorten them to your liking. At first I shortened them too much by mistake because they have the new younger Gen X loose baggy fit. When I sat on my motorcycle it hiked the pants up; so we had to let out the hem and make them longer. I purchased mine from Riders Discount and I like them a lot. Try em, I think you’ll like em.

Oz at Just an Ordinary Biker also purchased these jeans at Riders Discount and wrote a review at his blog. Click here to check it out.

Click here to see my review on Sliders Kevlar Reinforced Cargo Pants from Competition Accessories.

Click here for Diana’s review of Brosh Kevlar Reinforced Cargo Pants for women.

I just received a pair of Defender Gusset Jeans from Diamond Gussett to test out. I’ll start wearing them and let you know what I think.

I came across this site while surfing You Tube: http://www.sartsoshop.com/index.php

Run, Brake, Turn Signal Module Kit Harley-Davidson Part 69462-06A

I never liked the idea of relying 100% on a single tailight on my motorcycle to make me visible at night. It seems like too much is riding on that single lightbulb. I noticed a friend on a Heritage who had the Run, Brake, Turn Signal kit installed. In addition to his fender tailight the left and right rear signals acted as run and brake lights. They also blink to signal a turn. The three lights all with red lens caps give the motorcycle a little more substance at night in comparison to a motorcycle with only one red taillight.

The Harley-Davidson Auxiliary Brake/Run/Turn Signal Coversion Kit Part# 69462-06A only costs $59.95 and does not change the look of your bike other than changing the signal lens caps from yellow to red. The installation is a piece of cake. For the added safety I think this one is a no brainer.

To install the module you remove your seat and locate where the Main Harness connects to the Rear Fender Harness. This was easy on my bike because the wires had labels identifying them. I disconnedted them from each other and plugged them into the module so that the module was in between the Main Harness and the Rear Fender Harness. I changed the signal lens caps from the stock yellow ones to the new red ones. Reinstall seat. Installation complete!

69462-06A auxliary brake run turn signal conversion kit

I purchased the last kit in stock at Mike’s Famous Harley-Davidson during the Big Biker Weekend in July. I’ll buy another for Diana’s motorcycle as soon as possible.

Stay tuned to RC USA for reviews on practical motorcycle parts you can put to good use.

Chrome vs Skill

After having spent the majority of my weekend helping park bikes for a large dealership event at Mike’s Famous Harley-Davidson I have come to the following conclusion: Hundreds of motorcyclists own amazing machines but they don’t know how to ride worth a damn! They should have their motorcycles taken away! I am amazed at the lack of riding skill demonstrated by the motorcycle riding public. The majority of bikers need to learn how to maneuver their motorcycles at slow speed. Any novice can ride a motorcycle in a straight line at highway speed. Unfortunately many so called seasoned riders haven’t developed the skill to do much more than that.

My HOG Chapter provided the volunteers who directed riders into a grass field where they were to park their motorcycles for Mike’s Famous Biker Weekend on July 16th -18th in New Castle, DE. There were a variety of bikes including some sport bikes. Most motorcycles were Harley-Davidsons. Riders of every denomination on every type of motorcycle demonstrated poor parking lot skills! I would say less than ten percent knew how to handle their bikes properly! Young ladies on powerful sport bikes seemed to be the least able to control the friction zone. The old guys were just plain scarey. I don’t know how they have been riding for so long. One old timer told me indignently that his Sportster wasn’t a dirt bike! If you can’t make a tight hairpin turn, swerve or stop your motorcycle in an emergency you should stay home and practice until you can. Your life depends on it! Furthermore you should be able to ride on a variety of terrain such as wet pavement, gravel and soft grass.

The fastest way for you to gain the skills I speak of is to order the Ride Like A Pro V training DVD and practice the skills demonstrated on this fantastic learning tool. You can order the Ride Like A Pro DVD’s and the new book at www.Shop.RoadCaptainUSA.com

I hope that someday we stop seeing riders wobble in and out of parking lots with their legs and feet all spread out like airplane landing gear. Please take some of that money you plan on using for chrome this year and put it aside for a MSF Rider course or other training tools such as the above mentioned DVD. The Ride Like A Pro DVD costs $29.95 plus $2.95 S&H. Click the below button to purchase using PayPal.


Sham Wow vs The Absorber – Product Review

Sham Wow is a Scam Wow

Guys know that when you wash a car or motorcycle you need to dry off the water before the sun to avoid water spots. I’m not sure if chicks know this. I’m not sure when or how I learned this; which leads me to believe it might be a genetic instinct.

To clean your motorcycle right you need a good chamois cloth. Chamois leather originated in the 1800’s when it was found out that if prepared properly the skin of the European Antelope known as Chamois would create a non abrasive and super absorbant cloth. Our genetic disposition to out perform each other means that today’s man (whether biker, hot rodder or boater) requires the edge on his competition. To outshine the other guy it is necesary to have a good chamois in your cleaning bucket.

Many of you are familiar with the Sham Wow from television infomercial fame. My findings at this point are that the Sham Wow is a scam wow.  Until well worn the new Sham Wow will leave little particles of orange sham wow hair on your motorcycle. Not a good side affect when you’re trying to reach the ultimate shine on your scooter. Chicks don’t dig a furry Harley. The Sham Wow does not absorb very well for the purpose of wiping down your bike after a good cleaning. In my opinion it barely works at all in this capacity. However I do believe that it will suck up a whole puddle of water it you let it sit there. But it doesn’t take the water off your mirror in a single wipe which is what you need for cleaning a motorcycle.

The Absorber

I find the typical synthetic chamois such as the commonly sold Absorber works a hundred times better. You can buy these cheap at most anywhere in a variety of colors. I have seen them at Walmart, K-Mart, automotive stores and at my local automotive dealer’s service department.

I apologize in advance for using the four wheeled Mustang as the backdrop for this product review. I cleaned it today and was inspired to finally write this piece on the crappy Sham Wow vs the all powerful synthetic chamois known as The Absorber!

CARGO Basics Tailbag – Review

The princess and the blue ridge

Two summers ago I made the difficult decision to give up my first motorcycle.  It was a bittersweet decision though, because I was letting her go in exchange for a “big girl bike” – my 2008 Harley-Davidson Super Glide!  I chose this new bike because it was elegant yet simple, pure machine.  I liked the stripped down, bare bones look of the bike…as well as the stripped down price tag!

I knew I didn’t want to add saddlebags or even a pillion seat.  One day I would like to get some fancy “swoopy” pipes and replace the boring rubber footpegs with something a little prettier, but I definitely do not want to gear it all up.  Although I enjoy using Jay’s Low Rider as my pack mule when we go on trips, I really dislike “the look”.  I don’t even like when he rides around town with the sissy-bar T-Bag as he normally does.  His bike looks sexy when he strips her down and rides her naked!  THAT’s the look I want for my bike.

Geroge Washington Crossing Park

Herein lies the problem…  “stripped down” means no place to store or bring along ANYTHING.  No rain gear, no sunscreen, no extra layer for warmth after the sun goes down.  Heck, there’s not even a place to put my wallet & cell phone!  (I’ve already lost one phone flying out of a back pocket somewhere along the North East Extension; I’m not really looking forward to that happening again!)  As the chapter photographer, I MUST have a way to bring along my camera!

So I quickly decided that I would need to put a luggage rack on my rear fender and get a bag to strap onto it.  I searched high and low and found very few choices.  Oh, there are tons of luggage choices for motorcycles, but the vast majority have a vertical design and are made to slip over a sissy bar.  My bike has a solo seat and no back rest, so that was out of the question.  Besides, I didn’t want this stupid bag sticking up and ruining the artful flow and line of my beautiful bike!  My other options for tailbags were all designed for use on a sport bike (which, if ya hadn’t noticed, has an entirely different tail end design than my Harley).  Fitment would be a logistical nightmare, not to mention that the designs were just all wrong.  It would look about as out of place as Bobby Munson wearing a designer jogging suit!

My search was fruitless and downright frustrating, until my hero came to the rescue!  Jay found a sleek yet functional tailbag for my bike at Cycle Gear.  It is the CARGO Basics Tailbag and at $49.99 it won’t break the bank. Part# 61807. The bag comes with an assortment of attachment options including wrap-around flaps with a clip, bungee cords, a set of flat ribbed rubber straps, and lots of hooks and loops to weave straps or cords through.

CARGO Basics Tailbag

After about an hour of working many different options, we cut off the flaps, removed the bungee cords, and wove the rubber straps through several loops and around the fender rack.  It made for a nice snug fit so the bag would not slip and slide from side to side or front to back.  Only problem is that it is not going anywhere, ever.  So the detachable shoulder strap for carrying the bag into your hotel room for instance is useless. 

The bag also sports a zipper around the base perimeter which allows it to expand to near double capacity.  It is supposed to be able to hold a full face helmet when fully expanded.

rain cover

Another feature of the bag is the outside pockets.  There are flat pockets the length of each side.  I keep the included rain cover (aka “shower cap”) on one side, and my chapstick and sunscreen face-stick on the other.  There is also a small compartment on what I’ll call the “front” end of the bag which is a perfect size for my camera or a pair of sunglasses.

The main compartment is just the right size to carry rain gear or a hoodie along with throwing in my wallet, cell phone, house keys, and a bottle of sunscreen.  It closes via a top flap attached at the front with zippers running down each side that are connected by a short cord.  You pull the cord, and both zippers pull closed (or open, as the case may be) easy as pie!  When expanded, I can fit in a rolled up pair of jeans, t-shirt, tank top, nightie, underwear, socks, flip-flops, and a sandwich-sized ziploc bag filled with travel-size toiletry items…in other words, enough gear for a weekend trip!

Diana’s Bike at Harriman State Park

I do really like this bag, and have gotten a LOT of use out of it.  Over the past two years I have had many people ask me about the bag and where I got it.  My only real complaint is that it has faded quite a bit.  It would be nice if I could find a way to mount it that was easy to get on and off, but I need it on the bike probably 95% of the time so I am willing to give up that luxury.

Riding with tailbag

The bottom line is that this is a very useful, attractive bag.  It suits my needs and tastes.  Even after all of the use and abuse that it has gotten, it has held up well and the only sign of wear is the faded color.  I highly recommend this tail bag as an accessory for day & overnight trips.  If you are going to do more serious touring, you are going to need more serious luggage!  For your day-to-day riding needs, this little bag does the trick!