Category Archives: Gear Review

New Saddle Bags

Ty's BikeEarly last spring I picked up a pair of extended saddlebags with the intention of painting them to match my bike. They’ve been sitting in the garage all summer, probably wondering when I was going to get them painted so they could be added to the bike.

Finally did it.

On their maiden voyage as part of my bike, we stopped in Elberta for a quick picture. It definitely changed the look of my Road King while adding some more space for jackets and sundries on a multi-day road trip.

Dan Worth in Salt Lake City did a great job of matching the old paint and the flames. He was very picky about getting the color and the look right. I’d definitely recommend him for any custom painting you might need. At least I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the my bags turned out.

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Dinner in Park City and a Visit with Amanda

Dinner in SnydervilleIf you like the Red Rock Brewery downtown, you know that it’s pretty busy on a Friday night after work. Sue and I discovered a year or so ago that their restaurant in Snyderville at Kimball Junction is a lot less busy. In fact, we have never had to wait and have always been able to walk right in—which has made this a popular ride for Sue and I on Friday evening. I had the fish and chips tonight which were very tasty, while Sue had the lasagna (which she said was delicious).

Hydration VestAfter dinner, we headed back into town but left I-80 at Mountain Del and dropped down to visit Amanda via Emigration Canyon. While the temperature was pretty warm, Sue tried my hydration vest under her mesh jacket for the first time. She gave the vest two thumbs up—so it looks like I’ll need to get her a vest of her own.

I know last week when I was riding through the southwestern desert of Utah, I was glad to have the extra relief from the 90+ degree temperature.

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The Long Way to Durango: Sandy to Avon via Steamboat

Sandy, UT to Avon, COWhat a great day to be in the saddle. Blue skies and fluffy white clouds followed me all the way to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I pretty much had the road to myself if it weren’t for the biplanes from World War I that followed me through Heber. There must have been an air show at the Heber Airport because a World War II bomber was flying low over the Jordanelle Reservoir too.

I made great time to my lunch spot in Vernal as I pulled in about noon. I remember making this drive on a regular basis to my grandparent’s farm in Ft. Duchesne. I enjoyed the farm as a kid, but didn’t really appreciate how beautiful the ride is climbing Daniels Canyon, past Strawberry Reservoir, and through the small towns that dot Highway 40. I gassed up in Roosevelt, named for our rough ride’n 26th President Theodore. He must have been pretty popular in 1906 when the town was established. Which should be no surprise, he was pretty popular all over the country in those days.

I was flying solo today. Kelly had some bike problems he couldn’t get fixed last night and a couple of other guys bailed earlier in the week. When Kelly called me early this morning I decided to push forward anyway. I’m going to meet up with Phil and Kathy in Montrose tomorrow morning. It’s about 190 miles or so from here, so I should be able to connect with them by sometime mid-morning. We’ll end the day in Durango.

I took 131 just out of Steamboat heading south. Without a doubt it was the highlight of today’s ride. A beautiful mountain pass that is well worth doing again. Amazingly, the predicted afternoon thundershowers were ahead of me and other than a few raindrops a time or two I was dry all the way to Avon. I could tell by the wet roads I had just missed it by a few minutes.

I was talking with another friend of mine who rides and both of us mentioned how the smell of wet asphalt, sage, and pine after a summer shower is one of the great pleasures of the road. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big fan of riding in the rain—but if you spend any time on the road you’re gonna get wet once in a while. That said, I do like how everything smells after a rain.

Route JacketI mentioned before that I’ve been looking for a new mid-weight/light-weight textile jacket for riding this time of year. I think I’ve found the one I like. It’s one of the less expensive jackets Harley makes and it performed well on the ride today. It was warm enough in the morning when the temperature was cooler; and with the vents open was great as the mercury started to rise through mid-day.

The jacket looks sharp and fits well, but sometimes it’s the little things that really make a difference. In this case, it’s the zippers. I have three or four jackets, but this is the only one I don’t have to coax the zippers while on the bike. Any time I needed to get into a pocket or unzip (or zip) the vents to regulate my temperature, the zippers flawlessly either zipped or unzipped. Usually, I have to sit up, pull the bottom of my pocket as I zip it back up, but these zippers just zipped. One of the simple pleasures of something doing what it was designed to do. So, in addition to looking sharp, the zippers work.

It doesn’t come with any armor, but there are armor pockets on the elbows and shoulders which I filled with the appropriate protection. Since Kelly’s accident, I somehow feel more comfortable knowing I have some extra protection. I don’t think I’ve seen this particular jacket on the road, which is appealing and I personally like the orange accent.

It feels good to be on the road again. I really enjoy these tours and the ride from here to Durango should be beautiful tomorrow.

I’ve got some great video of the section of 131 that I’ll publish later (once I’ve had time to edit it).

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Early Evening in Kamas Valley

Kamas ValleyI was feeling a little cooped up and claustrophobic, but only had a couple of hours to blow out the cobwebs with some wind in my face, so I decided to point the bike towards the Kamas Valley. The area is the gateway to another couple of great rides—the Mirror Lake Highway and the road over Wolf Creek Pass—but it’s also a beautiful ride through pastoral landscape and a decent destination when you don’t have a lot of time. It’s a great ride for after work.

Like many rides in the area, it starts by climbing up out of the Salt Lake Valley through Parley’s Canyon. I opted for the Brown’s Canyon Road rather than the Interstate to Wanship due to the construction, so jumped on Highway 40 for a few until the Park City exit on Hwy 248. Another five or so minutes and I was on the Brown’s Canyon Road. At 4:00 in the afternoon, I pretty much had the road to myself.

Dropping down into the sleepy little town of Peoa, I took a right and headed through town toward Oakley and Kamas. The temperature was ideal and my mesh riding jacket was all I needed. Everything was green and lush as I passed the ranch houses and cabins approaching Kamas. If I’d had another half hour, I would have continued on to Francis and around the south side of Jordanelle, but I was running out of time and jumped back on 248 toward Park City and home.

Mesh JacketThis time of year, on days when the weather is warm, a mesh riding jacket is just the ticket. Several years ago I bought this jacket and have come to really like it. It’s a great alternative to a vest, let’s the breeze blow through, and still offers some protection. What’s more, when the weather gets really hot later in the summer, adding a hydration vest underneath turns it into a great air conditioner.

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Filed under Gear Review, Utah Rides

It Feels Like Spring Might Be Just Around the Corner

3/14/2015It was another wonderful March day. Pushing 70 degrees in the middle of March is a treat for anyone who wants to get out on the road. In fact, there were so many other bikes on the road, I started counting. I made it to about 40 before I pulled into the driveway. If that’s any indication, I’d say spring is at the doors—of course it helps when the weatherman is saying it’s only a couple more weeks away.

There’s a little canyon between Goshen and Mona that we stumbled upon last fall that we couldn’t find when we rode through Mona from Nephi last week. I recognized where we dumped out in Goshen as we rode past, so Phil and I decided to retrace our steps and put our fingers on the beginning of the road in Mona.

It’s not very long, but it’s a fun little road. It reminded me of the little stretch of Route 66 east of Oatman, AZ (only the road surface on this one is a lot better). There weren’t as many curves so I’m not sure why it made me think of it—it must have been the narrow road and the speed we were going, but I would have been very happy to tack 30 or so more miles of that little canyon onto the ride.

We stopped in Nephi again today and had some lunch and shot the breeze for a while before heading home via I-15. It was a beautiful day for spending a few hours in the saddle.

Bell Pit BossThe last couple of rides I’ve been using some new gear I purchased for our upcoming trip to Texas. I bought a new helmet that I’ve come to quite like—the Bell Pit Boss.

I’ve wanted a helmet with a drop-down visor for the rain for a long time, but wasn’t sold on Kelly’s Scorpion when I wore it to Wyoming last year (there was a hot-spot on my forehead that got sore over the four or five days on the road). With the exception of the big “Bell” logo on the front of the helmet, I really like this one. It’s comfortable on my noggin and I really like the ratchet mechanism in the back. I don’t feel like this thing is coming off my head. It doesn’t budge at 75-80 mph on the freeway, which is very nice.

Tourmaster RavenI also wanted a mid-weight textile jacket for the Texas trip instead of my heavy leather. I have a lot of stuff with the motor company’s logo on it so was looking for something a little different. I wanted something black and understated and have been wearing the Raven by Tourmaster. I once heard a podcaster reviewing a jacket suggest something like, “I don’t know if there is really a perfect jacket.” I have to agree. There are things I really like about this jacket, like the texture, all the vents, how much lighter is is than my leather jacket, and the price tag (less than $150). But there are one or two things I don’t like.

It’s likely just the way I’m built, but the fit isn’t what I had hoped for while sitting on the bike. It’s super comfortable, I have plenty of range of motion, and off the bike it looks like it fits me very well. The problem is when I’m in the saddle, it bunches up in the front. Not a big enough deal to send it back or not wear it, but I’ll likely keep looking for the perfect mid-weight textile jacket. This jacket is close, but not quite there yet.

I’m just waiting for Mother Nature to dump another snowstorm on us, but it’s hard to complain when the weather in March is this nice.

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Riding the Open Range in February

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 12.22.25 PMEvery ride this time of year is a bonus, but pushing 60 degrees in the middle of February has me thinking of Spring. It was surprisingly warm as we pushed south and west past Cedar Fort and Eagle Mountain toward the west desert and the open road. Our objective was lunch in Delta, but we tend to take the long way to get just about everywhere we go.

The temperature dropped a little as we past the old Pony Express stop at Faust, so I pulled over in Vernon to add a layer and put on some warmer gloves. The forecast was for cloudy weather, but no rain. Although we stayed dry for the entire day on the road, it looked like it was raining or snowing in the mountains all around us.

In addition to Kelly and Phil, one of Kelly’s friends joined us today. He was on a Triumph Rocket—which looked like a very nice bike. He’d bought it just before the start of winter, so like us was glad to be on the road in February.Delta

We stopped for lunch at a little Mexican restaurant called Mi Rancherita. The service was friendly and my two chicken enchiladas were good. I’d stop there again.

Phil and Kelly have both recently installed the new Daymaker headlights to their bikes and riding behind me, Phil’s light profile was bright as could be. Kelly was the leader today, so I never road in front of his Road Glide, but the light’s on Phil’s Ultra Classic were definitely brighter than those on Randy’s Triumph.

IMG_3131Chilhowee Leather is a great place for leather goods I found a couple of years ago. I’ve purchased a number of things from them over the years and haven’t been disappointed yet. I’ve been hunting for some winter gloves to fit that space between a pair of unlined gloves and my heated gloves, but what I’ve been using was too stiff and just weren’t very comfortable. Chilhowee makes a number of glove styles out of deerskin—including a gauntlet style with some kind of fleece lining I decided to give a try.

These are great gloves. Lightweight, warm, soft, what more could you ask for. In the winter I like the idea of a gauntlet so there’s no chance for wind to blow up my sleeves and these gloves were great. They fit the spot I was looking for perfectly. And, everything Chil Livingood says about the fit and feel of deerskin is spot on. There is no question, this is where I’ll be buying gloves in the future.

After lunch in Delta we retraced out steps until the turnoff to the old mining town of Eureka. There were 20 or 30 bikes in town as we rode through. We obviously weren’t the only guys taking advantage of the bluebird day.

I noticed it looks like the ice on Utah Lake is starting to thaw. Hopefully there will be more days like today before winter gives up the ghost. Who knows, maybe spring is on the way after all.

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A Day in the Rain, the Night in Richfield

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 2.52.01 PMI’m not sure why every road trip this year seems to start with rain. We had originally planned on heading north to Jackson a couple weeks ago, but decided to choose rain for the first day instead of snow and headed south into central Utah. We were riding with Kelly and his wife Chris, along with two other couples we didn’t know—Jerry & Linda and Roger & Tamara. I knew we would get along when I saw the sticker on the back of Tamara’s helmet: “Hair by Helmet.” Sue hates helmet hair, but Tamara always seemed to look flawless whenever we got off the bike.

The rain started a few minutes after we got on the bike and didn’t stop until we reached Richfield. Fortunately, we were prepared and the short ride (designed to get Chris and Sue back on the bikes again down the road) ended at the Holiday Inn Express just off the freeway. We ran through a little hail just south of Nephi, and being the only half helmet on the ride, I was the only rider forced to duck down behind the windshield—ouch.

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 6.53.23 AMNot too long ago, in anticipation of this ride, I purchased a couple of Sena Bluetooth headsets—the SMH10 for Sue’s full-face helmet and the SPH10H for my half helmet. I’d read several reviews of the headsets before purchasing them from Amazon.com and they performed flawlessly. That is to say, they were an excellent intercom system at freeway speed.

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 7.01.38 AMIn addition to acting as an intercom, they also connect via bluetooth to my iPhone, which is convenient should you want to make a phone call, listen to music, or play your latest Audible book on the way into work (which is what I do). Although playing music from the iPhone works quite well at speeds  under 50 mph with my half helmet, it’s a waste of time at highway speeds. I typically prefer to hear the sounds of the road when on a trip anyway, so this isn’t a big deal to me, but if you’re looking for high-quality stereo sound from a headset, you won’t be happy with this set. Nevertheless, as an intercom, we were very pleased with them.

Part of what makes riding in a group fun is what happens at the end of the day when the ride is over. We pretty much took over the breakfast area of the lobby playing dominoes and eating snacks until it was time to hit the sack. Despite the weather, it was a fun day. Riding in the rain isn’t one of my favorite things to do, but any day on the bike is a pretty good day.

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