Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Touring Ninja...

So the thought of getting my Ninja all geared up for touring duty has got me pretty excited. I love riding my motorcycle, and I like getting things to accessorize it. So this has got some good potential to give me things to research.

First and foremost will be a new sprocket. A 15 tooth front sprocket will do a couple of things. It will lower the RPMs on the highway at cruising speed. It will also give the bike a slightly higher top speed (not that I ever actually speed). Most of all it will help with gas consumption a little bit. The lower RPM at speed will help to make the bike be a little bit more economical on gas. As it sits, the bike gets over 50 miles per gallon when riding it solely in the city. However, at WOT on the highway for 45 miles it's dipping down to the 42-45 miles per gallon range. Still good, but not as great as one would hope from a 249cc motorcycle. The lower RPM should help get the city riding up to about 60 miles per gallon and hopefully get the highway riding up to about 50 miles per gallon. That will make the bike much cheaper to operate on the highway than my car. The best part is the sprockets are dirt cheap. About $15 gets a really high quality one that will last for thousands of miles.

Second will be some new luggage for the back of the bike. I already have a pretty nice Rapid Transit tank bag. It has served me very well and is extremely useful. This is it here.

However, for real touring duty where you might need to take a change of clothes or some rain gear (like say if we used the bike to commute back and forth to work) the little tank bag isn't quite big enough to store lunches, uniforms, shoes, and anything else that we like to take to work with us (or need to take to work with us). For that, some nice saddle bags would be pretty nice additions to the bike. I was looking around online last night and found that Rapid Transit makes a couple of pretty nice sets of saddle bags. I will be stopping into one of the shops in Lansing to see if they carry them so that I can make sure they'll fit...I know they will, but I just want to be 100%. That, and there are two sizes. I'd LIKE to go with the larger ones if possible, but we'll see. Either way, it's cool that they match the tank bag. I know it's lame, but I like the fact that all of the bike luggage will lock. Here are the saddle bags here.

That should just about get the storage aspects of the touring covered. We'll have plenty of room for stuff to take with us now, and we can always load up a backpack or get a larger tank bag if we absolutely had to have a little bit more room. But with those saddle bags we should easily be able to get a weekends worth of clothing stuffed into them for a trip over to the cottage or whatever. I think a trip to the cottage a few times a summer on the motorcycle would be awesome!!!

The rest of the bike is pretty much set for touring as it is. It's got the largest windscreen that I will put on it, the Zero Gravity Double Bubble. Yes, there are larger ones out there, but they look horrible. The only other thing I will add to the bike itself will be a throttle lock, so that I don't have to "hold" the throttle all the time. The throttle lock will allow me to relax my right wrist from time to time on a longer trip.

The other things that we'll need, however, is going to be a little bit of new gear. I have...ummm...grown out of my Kawasaki leather jacket. It was never the most comfortable anyways, so replacing it was on my list of things to do sometime in the future anyways. But I've got a good idea for a replacement in mind for myself. It's the Tourmaster Transition Series 2 3/4 length touring jacket. It looks to me like it's a pretty good jacket, and "Motorcyclist" magazine just gave it 4/5 stars on a long term test. It's also relatively inexpensive at only $160 or so shipped. I actually like the obnoxiously loud "Day Glo Green" color pictured here.

I'll have to see if Cathy will allow me to have that color, though!!! Best part about the jacket is that they make a women's version, too. Cathy has been wearing my extra gear when we ride together, but it doesn't fit her and as such isn't exactly the safest. They make some more muted colors for the women, so I think she'll be able to find one that she likes. I'll also have to get some different gloves for her. I can wear my black ones which will match this jacket fine because black goes with anything...but my Kawasaki green gloves just won't match it well at fact, the clashing of the two colors might be enough to start World War III!!!!

Also, Cathy is going to have to get fitted for a helmet of her own. She can wear my extra one, but it's also too big. She probably only needs a size medium. Maybe a large. But the XL size helmets that I find fit me don't fit her good enough at all. That'll be something that she'll have to really look around at, because there are so many designs. I don't know if she'd want something girly or something crazy...but she'll have to check those out.

Lastly, we'll probably be getting some helmet-helmet communication system. I've read that there are some good Bluetooth wireless one's out there, but I don't really mind the wires. So who knows...cost will be the main concern with something like that, so who knows. HJC makes a Chatterbox for rider-passenger communications that looks like it should work just fine.

Either way, I'm looking forward to these things. It's going to be cheaper than buying a few scooters or another motorcycle...and who knows, if it works out really well, maybe we'll look into getting a bit bigger bike for touring in the next few years...can you say...Kawasaki Concours???

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