Saturday, November 21, 2009

Keeping Busy

I haven't been updating my blog for awhile because I've been busy with motorcycley things. Mostly outdoors or in the garage.

I really like my Sporty but I don't like riding it when it's wet out because it's so nice and shiny, and the saddlebags on it are made of leather which soaks through in the rain. I looked into saddle bag upgrades and a rack - but those are pretty pricey and I like the clean look of the Sportster as it is.

Not that I'd buy them, but a pair of color-matched Harley hard bags for a Sportster are $1400 and a rack/sideplates/sissy bar/light relocation kit is another $350. Throw in a windshield and a fairing and you are getting up there.

Once I'd justified to myself that another motorcycle might actually be less expensive then adding those things - and allow me to leave my Sportster looking cool, I started looking for a used bike. One that already had storage space, and maybe a windshield and fairing. Something I could ride and not care if it got wet and dirty. I know a Harley could be just fine in the rain and slop - I just wanted something to beat around on and want to keep my Harley shiny and new looking for awhile at least.

I ended up getting a 2000 KZP 1000 (Kawasaki Police Motorcycle Model P19), from a guy in Silvana, for commuting when the weather isn't so nice and for general banging around. The bike has 29K miles on it and belonged to the Snohomish County Sherriff's Department. He bought it at a local auction. The P models were made from 1982 to 2005 in Lincoln, Nebraska, and are all basically the same motorcycle so parts are easy to find.

It has two hard bags, a big rack, three nice bright head lights, a windshield and fairing with a couple of storage pockets. It also has a big trunk the previous owner gave me off another bike that I can mount with a little drilling and adapting.

I've been busy riding and learning the basics of maintaining the bike, getting the owners manual, repair manual, oil and filter change, air filter, tire pressure, brake pads, chain lube...that kind of stuff.

It's a fun bike to ride to work and has enough storage space to carry my stuff. So far it runs great and it's old enough that it needs a fair amount of tinkering for fixing small stuff - which I like. It still has the run-flat tires on it so if I ever have to run across a spike strip roadblock, I have that going for me.


I've been doing some online lurking in the various motorcycle forums like What is the strangest thing you hit/almost hit? - ADVrider

You can learn a lot from those forums - for example I learned that if you ride a motorcycle you should stay the hell out of Georgia - they have all kinds of weird crap on the road that might hurt you. One guy from Georgia has this almost hitlist -

"1) A live turkey, back roads, Austell, GA. Spun me around but I did not go down.

2) Aluminum Ladder, I-285 Atlanta. Kinda jumped it, should have wrecked but didn't.

3) A steel nut, about 2 inches in diameter, straight to the chest (thought it stopped my heart it hit so hard) I-285 Atlanta

4) Muffler and attached exhaust pipe, 575 near Canton, GA. No wreck

5) Water melon, I-75 near Valdosta. Almost, and I mean almost but no wreck.

6) Wooden pallet (empty) East/West Connector, Austell, GA. Scared me shitless.

7) A helmet, unstrapped and blew off another rider in front of me, Daytona. No wreck.

8) German Shepherd, near Bo-Bo's house. No wreck but torn up a guys fresh grass stopping it."

"Weirdest I have heard, guy from Earl Smalls Harley Davidson in Marietta, Ga was headed to the Hard Rock Cafe in Atlantawith a group of bikes. I-75 south after dark. He hit an upside down wheelbarrow tub that already had the wheels and supports knocked off. Was almost a perfect ramp. Said he was about 8 feet off the ground, got some good distance and landed without crashing. LOTS and LOTS of damage to the bike."

But he's not done yet...

"And then on I-20 near Madison, Ga early one morning I am zipping along behind a big generic Fed-Ex/UPS kinda truck when he abruptly swerves and right there was a camper shell from a pick-up! Easy to react on a bike but still odd. Same place the next year was a bed liner."
They must not have much traffic in Georgia because if there was that much stuff laying on I-5 in the Seattle area we'd have total gridlock or a lot of accidents quick.

My stories are boring compared to that guys. I grazed a pig at high speed one time (me at high speed not the pig...he was going pretty slow and came up out of some brush as I was rounding a corner). I was Southbound out of Columbus Montana just before the bridge over the Yellowstone River, steep banks on either side - so there wasn't much room to maneuver. I swerved and just clipped him which bent the shifter pedal sideways. Another time lane-splitting in California I got my foot caught between a tire on a car going about 70 mph and my foot peg. The friction from that spinning tire melted my cheapie tennis shoe really quick. Nothing that exciting - I haven't got any air jumping over upside down wheelbarrows on the interstate...yet.