So, I’ve had a number of people ask me about my solar setup on the RV. Frankly, it’s not all that extravagant, but it’s probably the single best modification I’ve done to my RV so far. Not just bang-for-the-buck, but all out best thing I think anyone can do for their RV.

I had purchased 6v batteries for the RV, but I didn’t want to waste the two 12v batteries that the coach came with. They’re only 80ah batteries each, but they were brand new when we got the RV…and I’m a waste-not, want-not kinda guy…so I’ve still got the 12v batteries in there, nearly a year later.

Brianna and I spend most of our time off-grid and not plugged into power. In the last 9 months that we’ve had solar, we’ve put approximately 50 hours on the generator. 10 or 11 of those hours were over a 2 day span mid summer when we wanted AC and had no access to shore power.

We do normal things while on battery. We have lights on at night, listen to music ALL the time on the surround sound system, or we’ll watch movies and such. We run the blender for smoothies. We have vent fans and a stand alone 12v fan. You know, normal stuff.

I installed energy efficient EVERYTHING into the RV. The lights are all LED. Even both smart TVs are LED. One is even 40″…So we’ve got that going for us. I check the voltage very regularly, as I’m pretty OCD about stuff being charged…we usually end a night sitting right around 12 to 12.2 volts. We usually wake up to 14 to 14.3 volts.

Solar. Solar was the best thing we’ve done to the coach so far.

I spent $339 on a kit from Renology on Amazon. It had two 100 watt solar panels, the mounting hardware, screws, all the connectors and 10AWG wiring necessary, and a 30amp PWM solar controller.

renology 200w solar self install kit
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I’ve decided to try a photo group ride for the public. I’ve done many in the past for manufacturers and magazines and shootouts and the likes, but I’ve never previously offered one to the public. I’m only offering around a dozen spots though. I don’t want it to be too crowded or chaotic. Safety is still third. ;)

When: Saturday Oct 27th, 2018, 10am, ready to go.
Where: Meeting at the Chevron on main street Chevron: 2370 Main St, Red Bluff, CA 96080 to ride Highway 36, stopping at 5-6 various locations for professional action photos. There will be something for EVERYBODY.
Cost: $40
Sign up: Click here to sign up with paypal
What you get: at the day’s end, after an amazing day of riding some of the best twisties in California, I’ll email you your link to download all your high res photos from the ride!
Who: ALL motos welcome! If you don’t have a huge love for ALLLLL two wheels, then you’re missing out. Sportbikes, ADV, cruisers, and even scooters! Let’s do it! <3





Here’s the basic route where most of the photos will take place:

Here’s a few images from the last photo group ride I shot with the Busa Stampede on hwy 36:

The famous “twisties for 140 miles” sign
140 miles twisties hwy 36 red bluff
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While flying my Karma today using follow me mode in mimic, my Karma had a mid air malfunction, causing it to crash. Nearly everything was destroyed. It had never been crashed prior and had been problem free.

I was riding my motorcycle at approximately 25-27 miles per hour with a passenger who was observing the video (making sure it wasn’t going to fly into the mountain, etc), holding the controller in her hand but not giving any input to the controller (unless necessary, however none were necessary as it had a clear flight path).

The Karma was oriented on my left, slightly ahead of me, as we went into a corner. As we passed underneath the Karma, it suddenly flipped itself upside down from roughly 60ft in height, completely unobstructed, and flew itself into the ground mostly upside down the entire time. I happened to be looking at the screen at the very moment it errored and saw “Camera Disconnected” suddenly flash across the screen while watching it’s last moments in the air before impact. After the crash, I stopped a few feet later and looked back at the screen. It was prompting me to locate the Karma now or later. I selected “now” and found it 64ft (according to the controller) to the right of the road (north), upside down. I took a picture of it in it’s resting place before I picked it up.

Photo link (with full EXIF data): https://photos.smugmug.com/Other/Blog-stuff/n-f3hQL/i-VR6fzv2/0/f2f26ae0/5K/i-VR6fzv2-5K.jpg

crashed gopro karma drone
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This last week has been a weird one, but ultimately a pretty fun one. We’d been staying in the greater Phoenix area for the last 3 weeks as we had a YCRS school that we were working at on Jan 6th and 7th…rather than leave and spend a bunch of money on fuel, we opted to hang out locally.

I made my first big “boo boo” while emptying out our holding tanks…I wrote about it on Facebook:

Jan 4th, 11:22pm
I made such a rookie move tonight while dumping holding tanks in the RV…
I didn’t secure the poop-shoot-tube into the dookie-hole in the ground properly… I popped the valve and EXPLOSION! Hahaha!
I flew backwards like a bandit in a western after catching both barrels to the chest, then ninja-cartwheeled back towards the valve and snapped it shut with only about 3-4 gallons on the deck.
Somehow, some way, nothing splashed on me and I didn’t even step in it.
I cleaned it all up with a nearby hose, flushed my tanks, topped off my water, then slunk off, knowing 100% of that was captured on CCTV and I’m gonna get laughed at tomorrow. #lifeontheroad

There are zero pics or video for proof…except the video the RV place probably has since saved and posted to youtube by now. Haha!

So anyways, we’ve been “Wallydocking” about 50% of the time so far… It’s a term I’ve heard being used to describe staying overnight in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Haha! It seems as tho they have a mostly nationwide policy to allow RV’s to stay in their lots overnight. It’s actually pretty convenient!

While walking Bijou, the @TinyTinaTurnerDog the other night, I came across an entirely new sight that brings my faith in humanity to an all time high. ;)

catheter bag at walmart wal-mart wallydocking

I mean, why not, right? Bleh.
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So, as you guys may have read in a previous blog of mine, I did a 12 Step “how to” to replace your FJ09/FZ09/MT09/Tracer oil pan after you crater your shit. If not, you can read it here:

The 12 Step How to Replace the FJ09 Oil Pan

Well, so, yeah…I smashed another oil pan the other day. Luckily, it wasn’t nearly as bad as shearing off the entire bottom of the oil pan like I did last time. This time, I simply put a small hole in it while parking for an epic photo. Yes, while parking. I was doing approximately half a mile an hour. *sigh* I was so livid that I didn’t even get the shot I wanted.

fj09 oil pan cracked fz09 oil pan mt09 oil pan
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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.

Sincerely,

Joe Salas
4theriders.com

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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.

dead fj09 tracer

So I recently fixed the bike and I took pics throughout the process.

EDIT// here’s the FJ09 FZ09 MT09 updated oil pan part number: B56-13400-00-00

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.

fj09 mt09 tracer oil pan broken
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It was May, 2008. I was hosting the 3rd annual Com3 Death Ride. Only Paulo, Matt, and myself were partaking in said ride, but none the less, it was the Death Ride.

The rules were simple: Go fast and don’t die, else be left behind at the mercy of the native Sierra Nevada wildlife.

Rules were broken that day. Paulo ended up in a tree, mostly upright. Matt likey ran over a critter, I don’t fully recall, but for the story’s sake, we’ll go with that…and I…well, I crashed pretty hard. So hard in fact, I was left with a fractured vertebrae, some ribs, some soft bits were mangled, there was blood and all that other fun stuff that happens when you fall down at high-ish rates of speed and your bike decides to exact it’s revenge upon you for treating it so harshly.

Matt stopped for me. I mean, he kinda HAD to, as I’d done the deed right in front of him. Actually, I was in the process of crashing as I was along side Matt, before finishing up just in front of him. Matt, you broke the rules, buddy. ;) Thanks again for not running me over.

I was life flighted off the mountain. I crashed. It was entirely my own fault. I had no one to blame but myself.

As I lay on the gurney in the Level 1 Trauma center, nearly naked from having my leathers cut off and still strapped to the backboard that was designed for someone several inches smaller than myself, quietly crying—more-so emotional rather than the pain, which was really intense—my then wife and 2 year old son came into the room. The look on their faces as I strained my eyeballs to the side to see them (as my head was strapped in still) said it all; I’d made a series of poor choices.

At that moment, I vowed to quit riding on the street. I was too stupid. Too irresponsible. But mostly just too dumb. I cheated death that day and I was lucky to still be amongst the living.

So, what the hell does ANY of that have to do with the mighty FJ09?
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Recently, I was asked to review a backpack for my moto adventures… The Fly Racing Back Country Backpack. I’m a total stickler for backpacks. I own several of them, and each has it’s own function. Normally, you’ll find me in the woods wearing a NorthFace arctic expedition, seal-clubbing, dynamite-carrying, bull-riding adventure pack with all sorts of strappy things and loopy loops and pockety stuff that works flawlessly for what I do when I’m out mashing in the woods at death-defying speeds.

So, being offered a proper back country backpack made by a moto company, Fly Racing, I was totally stoked to give it a whirl!

The day after I received it in the mail, Kevin and myself went on a moto-camping adventure for the weekend. No better time than then!

fly racing back country backpack ttr
merp face!
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I’m super picky about what goes on my hands when I ride and what protects me from 100+mph knuckle-drags across asphalt and dirt. I mean, shouldn’t everyone be? I dunno, I’m also one of those guys with baby soft hands, free of callouses, clean fingernails, and I wash my hands at least 15 times a day…WITH wholesale soap. Most people think I’m odd. Hell, even I think I’m odd. Anyhow…

clean everything hyperbole and a half

When I got the High Speed gloves a few months ago, Lee asked me to review them after I’d had a chance to try them out.

I warned him then and there: “Lee, I’m honest about my reviews. good, bad, ugly….I’ll write EXACTLY what I feel and think…and I’m REALLY picky about gloves…” He had a rather smug look on his face as I said that. I interpreted it as him being fairly confident that I’d write a positive review.
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