Archive for April 2010

New TomTom Urban Rider GPSs Announced   Leave a comment


I just bought a Garmin Zumo 660 motorcycle GPS but while considering the other options came across some news that TomTom has recently announced their new Urban Rider and Urban Rider Pro motorcycle GPSs.

The new TomTom devices sound pretty interesting and have a simplified interface with two buttons: “Navigate to” and “Browse Map”. They are supposed to have intersection/lane guidance features, IQ Routes™ and Map Share™ for community-based map corrections.

  • Lane guidance provides more realistic views of roads and indications of which lane to use for upcoming guidance.
  • IQRoutes™ utilizes actual travel data from other TomTom users via their interaction with the TomTom Home service to improve routing. Sounds interesting but the privacy guy in me wonders if I would be comfortable letting TomTom download location information from my rides. More info available on the IQ Routes™ page.
  • Map Share™ allows users of TomTom devices to edit and update maps and contribute those changes to the community. The changes can also be downloaded

The units are supposed to go 6 hours on a charge, but remove the SD slot in order to accommodate the larger battery. Both come with a RAM Mount and the “Pro” version also includes a Bluetooth® headset (probably from Cardo).

The Urban Rider will be available in the UK in May and will be priced at £249.99 with UK & ROI Maps or £299.99 with European Maps. No word on the “Pro” version’s cost or US availability yet.

The TomTom site hasn’t been updated to show the new units. The existing TomTom Rider 2nd Edition page has more feature information on the current model for comparison.

The Engadget page on the announcement has pics

Posted April 29, 2010 by jeffkeith in General, Motorcycles

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Motorcycle Fatalities Study Released   Leave a comment


The Governors Highway Safety Association recently released some preliminary statistics on motorcycle fatalities for 2009. The good news is that for the 9 months for which they have solid numbers, fatalities are down 16% from 2008. They also estimate that when the last quarter numbers are finalized, fatalities for the entire year will be down at least 10%.

Some of the states provided their opinions about why fatalities had decreased, the report cites poorer economic conditions, fewer beginners, more safety training and bad weather as potential reasons for the decrease. Whatever the actual reasons, it’s always good to see a decrease in those numbers!!!

The report is short, worth reading and is available at:  http://www.naghsr.org/html/publications/spotlight/pdf/spotlight_motorcycles.pdf

Posted April 26, 2010 by jeffkeith in General, Motorcycles

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Chain Adjustment on the Tiger   Leave a comment


Aside from the instructions from the manufacturer, there are a million opinions about how to adjust a chain on a motorcycle. I did a short video on how I adjust my chain. Just to give credit where it’s due – the original method came from someone on the Tiger1050 forum.

Please note that working on or maintaining your own motorcycle can result in serious injury or death. If you’re not comfortable performing these tasks just go to a professional mechanic. If you have never worked on your bike before but are willing to give it a go, at least have a knowledgeable person around to help you and check your work!

Click the image below to go to my Smugmug gallery and see the video

A couple things I forgot to mention in the video:

  • When your chain is too tight you’ll probably hear more noise from the drivetrain. It’s better to have a chain that’s a little loose than too tight. A tight chain puts a lot of strain on the drivetrain, chain and sprockets and will result in premature wear.
  • Check the chain before riding when it’s “cold”. Temperature affects the slack in the chain.
  • Chains stretch quite a bit when they’re new. If you have a brand new bike or a brand new chain (and sprockets), check the chain more frequently. When new, the chain on my Tiger needed adjustment about every 300 miles until I got about 1500 miles on the bike. After that, I’ve only adjusted in around 3 times in the last 4000 miles.
  • Make sure you keep the chain clean and lubricated. If you’re traveling on roads with a lot of debris (sand, gravel, etc.), it will get on the chain and could damage an o-ring. You can see the o-rings by looking at the rear sprocket from the rear of the bike while rotating the tire by hand. If your chain is missing o-rings, replace it.
  • Chains wear out. Don’t use a spent chain! It can jump off the sprockets and jam the rear tire, it can hit you and do a lot of damage or it can leave you without power at the worst time. A $100 chain is a small price to pay for your and your passenger’s safety.

Posted April 26, 2010 by jeffkeith in Maintenance, Motorcycles, Tiger 1050, Triumph

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My Triumph Tiger 1050   Leave a comment


Tiger 1050

Taking a break in Tewksbury, Fall, 2009

I bought a 2007 Triumph Tiger 1050 in 2008 after becoming frustrated with my Kawasaki Versys and looking at a few different bikes. These were the criteria for a bike when I was shopping:

  • Able to handle the rough roads in the area as well as nice motorcycling roads at higher speeds
  • Preferably come with factory luggage or have good aftermarket luggage solutions
  • Be as comfortable as possible – upright riding position, good weather protection
  • Have enough electrical capacity to run a heated vest and grips
  • Have enough motor to have a little fun
  • Have a good base suspension with some adjustability
  • Have a good size fuel tank
  • Be available at a reasonable price
  • Be light enough to manage easily

Obviously, my criteria are subjective and there are a few bikes that fit the bill. Once a rider gets past the “I must own this bike” factor, I think the primary variables for most riders consist of their level of experience, financial situation and physical stature.

Me, I’ve been riding since I was young and have a good deal of street experience. I had some money to put into a bike but the less spent, the better, IMO. As for physical size, I’m about 5’10” and about 185 pounds. Pretty much any bike out there fits me in terms of being able to reach the ground, although I consider a lot of the sportbikes too small for me (which probably has more to do with the riding position than their actual dimensions).

The Tiger is one bike that fit these criteria and, of course, there are a few others that I had looked at. At the time I had a Kawasaki Versys which I got bored with primarily because it didn’t have enough motor. Like I said, I’m an experienced rider and the Versys was my first “getting back to riding” bike after a few years off. While I thought a parallel twin 650 would be enough, it constantly left me wanting more. I also became somewhat frustrated with the limited weather protection on the Versys. Other than those two factors, the Versys is an absolutely great bike.

In my list at the time, the primary competitors to the Tiger were the Triumph Sprint ST or the BMW 1200GS. I ruled out the Sprint based on the riding position and the non-adjustable suspension and the BMW was just too much coin and I somewhat fell victim to the ponderous debate about final drive failures, expensive service and, in the end, lack of availability (after the local BMW dealer stopped carrying the brand).

Posted April 25, 2010 by jeffkeith in General, Motorcycles, Tiger 1050, Triumph

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