I’ve had my beloved Honda Element (affectionately known as the Rallement) for 7 years now. I bought it used with 33K miles on the odometer. I now have 330,600 miles on it. It’s dying now. It needs a heart transplant. And I’m sad.
It’s funny how one can drive so many miles, yet never really leave too far from home. The Rallement has visited California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Utah, and Arizona. It’s literally never been any further than those states. Even though I’ve driven enough miles that I could be nearly halfway home on my return trip from the moon. I could have driven the Rallement to New York City and back 57 times. I could have driven around Earth just over 13 times. There’s so many places I could have gone, things I could have seen. Cultures I could have immersed myself in. People I could have met. Friends, experiences, and memories I don’t have because instead of driving around the Earth 13 times, I simply drove back and forth through the 6 states I mentioned.
Looks like I’m going to have to edit my article later as I just learned some SHOCKING news from Greg Sharp (thanks for pointing it out)… Yamaha has ditched their conventional A, STD, B mode with this bike and effectively reversed it. B mode no longer being the “rain” mode…It’s now what A mode used to be: full power. So I’ll have to ride it again today in B mode.
So, I got a chance to play on the new Yamaha FZ10 today (MT10 for you Europhiles). It’s a bucket of fun.
And a quick disclaimer: I am not the person riding in these photos…I took these photos of the World Champ, Scott Russell today. :)
The bike looks like garbage. I’ll just lead in with that. I don’t know what the hell Yamaha was thinking when they designed it. That actually seems to be a bit of a trend lately with Yamaha and their new line up of bikes. Like the FJ09. It too looks like a recycled can. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love it! The FZ10, not at all to be confused with the FZ1, because that’s a COMPLETELY different mo-sheen, also appears to be made of post-consumer products.
The FZ10 is a completely new motorbike constructed of…well…recycled cans and Yamaha bits. It’s got the tail light from an FZ09, the controls of the Super Tenere, the motor from an R1, Johhny 5’s face, and who knows what else.
Continue reading First Ride on the Yamaha FZ10
Okay, okay, okay! Before you get your panties all in a bunch, I’M not saying sportbikes are the problem…I’m just saying that sportbikes are the problem. Allow me to explain:
Over the last 15 or so years, I’ve owned a handful of bikes. All fully faired, “crotch rocket” style bikes as far as the uneducated masses are concerned. The kind of bike where you see assholes doing wheelies up and down the freeways like lunatics with no regards to anyone else, being menaces to society and probably dealing drugs to kids at the local middle school. You know, sportbikes.
Until last year. I bought what I’ve dubbed an “old man bike.” I got a Yamaha FJ09. It’s the first upright, “non-threatening” street-going motorcycle I’ve owned.
Over the last year and 12,000 miles I’ve put on the bike, my habits in the twisties around other cars haven’t really changed compared to how I was on spr0tbiles back in the day. I still roll up on cars and give them a bit of room. I wait em out for a few mins to see if they’re going to use the turn out like they’re supposed. I’ll gently pass them giving them the shakka when they do in a display of exuberance… or blow their doors off in a look-back wheelie-scowl as I pass them—DY be damned—if they don’t move.
“I hate everything.”
Continue reading Sportbikes are the Problem
I went for a short ride today. 229 miles on the odo. I’ve been so busy since I got home that I wanted to just stop working for the day and GO RIDE. I haven’t ridden my FJ09 much lately, so it had to be done. And it had to be done today, because it’s supposed to rain everywhere all weekend. Meh.
I headed out the door just before 10am. I grabbed my summer gloves… but took pause and stared at my winter gloves thinking that I should bring them, just in case. Afterall, I do live in Reno. Who freggin knows what’s gonna happen with the weather around here. I decided not to take them.
So, off I go. I have a loose plan: 395n, cut across 70 to hwy 49, and ride to Downieville, be back by 4 so that the family and I can go to the movies. :)
I didn’t make it 30 miles before I was literally cursing myself in my helmet… “Joe, you stupid dumb idiot…you HAVE saddle bags. You HAVE the room to carry stuff. WHY THE HELL DIDN’T YOU BRING THE WARMER GLOVES!? God, you’re SOOOO DUMB!” By the time I got around Loyalton, I saw 47 degrees on the ambient temp gauge. So dumb.
“Joe, you’re fired.”
Continue reading Quick Ride to Grass Valley
I originally wrote this as an email to Yamaha. It was sent off to Yamaha over a week ago, and I haven’t heard a single peep in reply. So, on behalf of myself, and anyone else who’s experienced this issue with their FZ/MT/FJ09 motorcycle who also agrees with me…here’s an open letter to Yamaha:
I’m pretty disappointed with Yamaha right now. This is only the second motorcycle I’ve EVER purchased brand new, the first was also a Yamaha.
Long story short, I was riding a fun little section of twisties with my girlfriend, Kinsy, on the back of my new FJ09. I was plodding along around 35-40mph as I crossed a small bridge over a creek. There was a build up of slurry/tar on the transition from road to bridge. Definitely a bump, but nothing so bad to cause for much concern. Until I hit it. And the bike completely bottomed out on the drain plug, shearing off the bottom of my oil pan spraying oil all over my rear tire, saddle bags, undertail, and even all over the backpack Kinsy was wearing.
I didn’t crash. I have lots of experience on two wheels, dirt, track, and street. It was certainly a 500ft death slide afterwards, but I managed to keep it upright in the end.
I’m disappointed because after this happened, I go to research a new oil pan for the bike, I see that I’m not the first person to have this experience. In fact, SO many people have had this happen to them (some in the most trivial of ways), that Yamaha has redesigned the pan and updated their part number to supersede the original design. The originally FLAWED design.
They say recalls are for safety reasons. Like the new 2015 R1, for example. The transmission locks up and causes the rider to crash, as has happened with one of my friends already. Or the o ring on the oil filter assembly does seat correctly, causing oil to spray from the engine, possibly causing someone to crash, as has also happened to another friend of mine.
Well, having the lowest point of contact be the drain plug on a motorcycle isn’t very safe. Decking it out on the ground at 40mph with your loved one on the back, instantly saturating your rear tire with synthetic oil, IS NOT SAFE.
I’m upset because Yamaha has acknowledged that there is an issue without even saying “there is an issue with our original design.” They simply redesigned it and quietly updated their part number to patch over an issue that many of us with the FZ/FJ/MT09 line of motorbikes is having. AND MAKING US PAY FOR IT.
The fortunate ones, such as myself, who don’t actually crash because talent, scenario, or pure dumb luck was on their side are simply left with a:
– $202 bill for an oil pan
– $18 for a new gasket
– shop labor of 2 hours @ $95 per hour
– roughly $400 for a new set of tires (oil was all over both of my tires)
– plus mount and balance fees of $80
– $35 for a new set of rear brake pads
– and 5 hours of their time cleaning up the mess out of the back of their truck they had to tow the bike home with as well as the bike itself.
And sadly, my newly updated how-it-should-have-been-in-the-first-place design of an oil pan DIDN’T EVEN COME WITH A NOTE SAYING “SORRY THAT HAPPENED. HERE’S YOUR FREE OIL PAN CAUSE WE GOT IT WRONG THE FIRST TIME”
I should have waited to buy the Africa Twin.
So, as some of you guys know already, I cratered the oil pan on my FJ09 while riding two up with Kinsy on Carmel Valley Road over xmas. All 3 quarts of yummy synthetic 10w 40 splooged everywhere. On rear tire, the undercarriage, the saddle bags, and even on the backpack Kinsy was wearing. Everywhere. Instant slip-n-slide-deathride.
So I recently fixed the bike and I took pics throughout the process.
Step 1) Stare at the bike for an incredibly long time, hoping that it will somehow fix itself, only to realize that it will not. And be dissapointed by this fact.
It’s late in the day at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. The sun is low in the sky, yet still shining brightly through a thin layer of clouds. The winds are steady, cold, and piercing through my hoodie I’m wearing. Dust is swirling across the track and upwards into my eyes, my nose, and everywhere as far as I can still see on the horizon. There’s grit in my mouth that I’m constantly spitting out. It’s cold. Very cold.
Where I shall stand
Continue reading Working With The Champ
Well, how to begin? This weekend was an absolute whirlwind! But it does have a beginning…
I’ll skip back a few months: Gordon sent me a text message asking me if I wanted to race a 24 hour endurance race with him on a Grom; The M1GP 24 Hour Super Endurance Charity Race. I think my reply was something along the lines of “FUCK YEAH!” I’ve never raced anything before. I have exactly zero race experience at this point. But a 24 hour endurance race? Why the hell not?!
Months go by, and as in usual Joe-fashion, I wait till zero-hour to actually register for the race…shit just got real. I’ve officially signed up for my very first race ever.
I wasn’t terribly concerned about the racing…I was moreso concerned about making sure I pulled my weight on the team. I didn’t want to be “that guy.” I never want to be “that guy.” I was also worried about sleep. I’m probably the worst insomniac you’ve (n)ever met. My brain turns, whirls, and swirls. Even when I’m so tired I can’t keep my eyes open, my brain doesn’t let me sleep. I’ve been this way since I was a little kid. As early as 3rd grade, I would sneak out of the house on moonlight nights and just go ride my BMX all over town for hours during the night because I couldn’t sleep anyways…so I may as well have fun, right?
I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to sleep at all, and then I would ultimately end up being “that guy” who is absolutely useless. At every race event, every trackday, everything, I’m always the last one to go to bed. While I never really voiced my concerns, I was seriously stressing on it.
Friday: Kinsy and I caravaned to Willow Springs seperately as I had to leave directly from the track to Miller Motorsports Park. We got to the track around 9pm and started setting up camp. We hung out for a short while before going to bed. Tomorrow was gonna be a big day. And I layed there. For a long time. Unable to sleep.
What seemed like only a few minutes later, my alarm clock went off and it’s Saturday morning. I’m a terrible morning person. Not in the sense that I’m crabby or anything, I just really, really dislike getting up in the morning. When I do finally go to sleep at 5, 6, 7am, I’d prefer to sleep to 11. But it was 8am. I was tired. Thankfully, I woke up to Eric already having made a delicious breakfast for the team. That lessened the early-morning-blow. ;)
We were scheduled to have a 40 minute practice before the race. That I know of, none of us had previously ridden the Willow Springs Kart Track. We were all green. I was second to last in rotation. 40 minutes amongst 7 riders = 2 laps, then GTFO! Well, I did 2/3rd of a lap when the checkered flag came out, telling me to exit. Gordon was last in rotation for practice…buuuut….even with everyone only doing 2 laps, we ran out of time.
Gordon was lapless. So who better to START the race than G himself!? :D
Gordon, our courageous and talented team captain takes charge in the Le Mans race start
Continue reading If This is Grom I Don’t Want to be Right
About a week ago I got the privilege of riding with one of the best riding schools I know. Rickdiculous Racing. I have been to a few schools with Joe. I’ve listened in to all the information that they pile on you (and trust me it’s a lot of info) and thought, “Wow, I really, really, REALLY want to take this school.” I loved everything that I was hearing but couldn’t fully grasp the concept. See I’m the type of person that has to “do” to retain.
The Rick program is nothing like I have ever seen. They combine both bikes and CARS as learning tools. Plus, their small class size (one on one coaching) really makes you feel important and not fall into the crowd. They are dedicated to the sport and to your personal best.