My Velocity Squared

September 28, 2010

We are not missing this!

Filed under: Uncategorized — smarmbeast @ 1:26 am

Dental health be damned. I will remove you on the side of the road with an ice skate and a shot of whiskey if necessary you little treasonous saboteur!

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September 17, 2010

Review: Hummer H3 Alpha

Filed under: Reviews — smarmbeast @ 8:07 pm

Ah another American vehicle to eviscerate.

Except that I can’t.

This is an example of the type of vehicle that we are good at building here in the States. All of the money has gone into SUV development here, and I think at least half of it went it to this vehicle.

Interior:

A bit plastic. However, not half as shit as most GMC line fisher price nonsense. I would compare it to  late 90’s, early ’00 VW interior.

Controls for AC, etc are all intuitive, well placed. Seating is comfortable.  Bolsters on the seats are very nice. But again, they have to be. See later.

Windows are small. Very small. This is a somewhat exotic vehicle, and they let you know it through designs that are dubious and dangerous. One must point the sideview mirrors down quite a bit to make sure you don’t accidentally crush a Honda.

Review mirror camera is excellent. Standard I hope as well, because that’s the only way you can see what is behind this monstrosity when backing up.

Nice leather accenting on the interior, that is *gasp* tasteful. And so well stitched, I can almost guarantee it wasn’t done on this continent.

Stereo is terrible. No 1/8′ jack, Built in Nav.

For the record car manufactures… unless you are Aston, Ferarri, or Lamborghini, you are forbidden from having a factory NAV option. They get outdated, updates are impossible to get, etc. They just sit around unused taking up valuable dash real estate. If you want to be useful, develop a standard that will take any touch screen device and put it on a builtin display. So I can plug in my iphone, crackberry, garmin, etc.

Sunroof is stellar. Huge, tinted just right, love it. The kind of sunroof you could stand up out of, even me. Love it.

Engine:

5.3 Litre V8. Snappy, full or torque, piss and vinegar. Passes easily. Never feels underpowered. Never feels fuel efficient either. 14MPG.

Handling, onroad:

Nice, felt connected with the road, firm without being battering, felt stable at all times. Handled LA traffic with ease.

Handling offroad:

Spectacular. Fulltime AWD, with locking center diff, and locking front and back. Go into low, lock everything up, and it will crawl up ATV trails. Did this on a hill overlooking Pi-town. One of the few vehicles that will handle MOAB’s escalator without mods.

I cannot emphasize how stellar this vehicle is off the beaten path. Sand, gravel, dirt… it eats is up and asks for more.

Also, be aware. This vehicle is nice, but basically a souped up GMC Canyon. Do not ford water with it. Those snorkels on the top are in fact cosmetic. Rental companies frown on hydrolocked engines.

Brakes:

The rest of the package is pretty stellar. Well, except for the brakes. They start out promising for about 2 seconds. And then they turn to mush. I’m pretty sure aftermarket pads could fix this easily, maybe slightly larger rotors. Ceramic would be a nice option to arrest the bulk of this thing.

Cock quotient:

Audi level. Other people don’t really matter, after all you are in a Hummer!

You can’t see them, they have to look up at you. Lane changes consist of throwing on a blinker, and praying people notice the shadow looming over them and move out of thew way; I mean it’s not like you can actually see the small people right? And no one road rages against you that isn’t driving another Hummer or suicidal. Ride in this baby, and you’ll be a raging tool in less than 15 minutes.

September 10, 2010

Review: Impala LT

Filed under: Reviews — smarmbeast @ 12:38 am

The Impala LT

There are some things that are so bad, they are good. The Chevy Impala is unfortunately not one of those things.

The interior, like most American automobiles, is utter shit. Chevy has truly outdone themselves here. The Impala LT is *the* new benchmark is awful interiors. Let’s run it down:

– AC controls. Faux dual zone climate control. I hate dual zone climate because in reality it never quite is. But that is not my quibble on this POS. My quibble is with the controls. Two roller dials with little protrusions. These are so loose (2300 miles on the car.) that if you try to touch them, the slam up and down. It is impossible to adjust them in any reasonable manner. The suspension is so loose that you just slam from full hot to full cold again and again.

– Crappy plastic. Awful Fisher Price plastic, everywhere. Ugly seams, hollow sounding when you wrap on it. The seat controls are the worst example of this.

– Steering wheel controls: No feedback. No way to tell if when you are pressing the cruise that it is actually doing anything. So you have to smash it down as hard as you can. Normally even if the controls didn’t click, you could tell the car was slowing down or speeding up… but that would require an engine less indifferent to input than whatever is under the hood in this thing.

– Who the hell still uses an on the tree transmission control and a foot e-brake in a car? Chevy. So they can claim there is a third seat in the front. Maybe for a 5 year old. Pointless. Handbrake, and floor, or console protrusion please.

Handling:

None that can be discerned. It is like driving around in a tub of novcaine, everything is numb….

… except when it’s not. Suddenly out of nowhere a bump will hammer through for some reason. Hurts like hell.

Transmission.

Hit pedal, wait 4 seconds for downshift. So don’t try any active evasive maneuvers. Complete rubbish. Sometimes it will downshift fast, but so fast it gives you whiplash and makes you lift off during the pain.

Brakes:

Pads most likely made of steel wool, clamping onto cotton candy. Plan well ahead if you need to stop.

Steering:

No feedback that turning the wheel is actually doing anything. Eventually the car will turn. Then it will start to turn real quickly. Heart stopping. Understeer like you wouldn’t believe. Feels like steering through heavy pudding.

Engine:

Anemic. Soulless. Married to shit transmission, see above.

Stereo:

I suggest getting an inverter, and plugging a clock radio in for superior acoustics.

Trunk:

This is actually amazingly spacious, and well designed.

In the U.S. we love shitty cars, and this is the latest example of of the cream of feces we made possible. I would love to thank every bottom breathing moron that buys cars like this for making this automotive atrocity possible.

September 4, 2010

Cheap

Filed under: Uncategorized — smarmbeast @ 10:31 pm

Touring Europe can be done relatively cheaply by car. Taking the Grand Tour by motorcycle is very expensive.

Motorcycle hire rates for the bike I have are about £490/week, 250 miles a week. This is a bit pricey. One can simply ship a bike over there, for a mere €1500 min round trip. And one can merely spend 2 days getting it out of customs, and be harassed in at every border crossing proving your ownership of said vehicle.

Of course, there are other problems with shipping a bike overseas. During a phone conversation with a friend the following question was posed.

“Jess, do you really want to take a 3.6sec bike into switzerland?”

“Yes.”

“Do you also desire to have an intimate understanding of the Swiss legal system, and the architecture of their jails?”

“Not as such, no.”

So maybe the ST1300 isn’t the best bike for europe. Considering saving 130 Quid a week and going with the NTV7000. Cheaper on hire, and it gets 15 more MPG. And I think that I am going to really appreciate it with the price of gas over there. So although smaller, and 50 less HP, it has the potential to save over £600 on the trip. Money I can use sampling fine German beers, and maybe fitting in a couple more countries.

Land of Enchantment 1000

Filed under: Uncategorized — smarmbeast @ 10:11 pm

Land of Enchantment 1000, Oct 1st-3rd. Thoughts on long distance rallying as a crucible for your soul.

I have entered the Land of Enchantment 1000. 24 hours, 1000+ miles. Unknown route to be planned about ten seconds before you hit the road. The only known waypoints are the start at Los Lunas, and the Trinity Site at the White Sands missile range. The good news is that the name of the road lading to the trinity site is “Jornada del Muerto”. Which really should be the motto for the entire race.

I may have said before that doing a 1000 miles on a motorcycle is hard in 24 hours. I would like to restate this. A motorcycle is two points of contact desperately seeking a third. Add into this a foriegn land, and on the fly route planning, and New Mexican heat, and it’s going to be a fun run.

To prepare for a proper rally, you need a few things:

1. At least a basic grasp of math.

1000 miles / 24 hours = 41.6MPH. In order to finish, you must average 41.6MPH over the course. Be aware, some bonus locations my require more than 1,000 miles to hit. Plus, you at some point will want to rest. So subtract that from your 24 hours. Not resting is a very good way to die.

2. A touring motorcycle. Preferably, a sport touring motorcycle.

This is the important bit. Lay the foundation wrong, and no matter how many farkles you hang off of it, you will not finish.

It must be comfortable. Fully faired, non fatiguing to ride. Smooth engine. Harley’s are out. 40 MPG + with a large gas tank. Most bikes running these events are shaft drive. ST1300’s are very popular. BMW RT1200, Goldwings.

3. Tank Bag

Important bit of kit this. Under estimated by many. Here is where all the essentials go. Must be big enough to fit:

– 2 liters of water
– Phone charger
– Light gloves
– Heavy gloves
– Replacement face shield.
– Replacement pinlock shaded.
– Replacement pinlock un-shaded.
– Lara bars x 6
– Snickers x 6
– Caffenated energy shots.

Marsee makes very nice tank bags, and to boot they are cheap. Plus, they are waterproof, so you can dump ice in the bottom compartment with your water and bars. There is nothing more refreshing in hot weather than freshly chilled water.

4. Modular helmet.

A few LD riders still ride without them. When time is of the essence, it takes 1 minute to take off a full face helmet with glasses. It takes 2 seconds to flip up a modular.

5. Hydration system.

Camelback. Accept no substitutes. Insulated, with wide mouth for ice. My sippy tube is velcroed inside my helmet so I can take a drink anytime I want.

Hydration is important. Get dehydrated, you start to slow down. Just slowly sip all day. On a 90+ day, you should go through 2 liters of water per tank of gas. Motorcycles can pull a ton of water out of you.

6. Satnav.

Must have. If you can use it with gloves, great. These cost about $600. I prefer stop by a pawn shop and get a couple of decent reviewed Garmins for $100 total. Update the software. Dirty little secret… most Garmins are fairly waterproof. More so if you run a bit of silicon on the seams. A ziplock bag and a couple of rubber bands will fix a thunderstorm. Plus, you have a spare. Useful for when it routes you wrong way and you fling the first one into traffic.

7. Laptop and Street Atlas™

See the satnav above? Great. Punch in addresses manually, or locations that have no proper address and you lose. Plot it out, spam into GPS and go.

8. Technical gear.

Textile, flexible, layerable technical gear. I am partial to Joe Rocket™. They have stepped up, their gear all comes with removable rain liners for a nice price, and works together well. Riding around in hot weather in full leathers, you might get heat stroke. Textile is the choice for most riders in LD events for a reason. ATTGATT. Jacket, Pants, Boots and gloves. Heavy and light gloves. Heated jacket as well, even in the hot areas for nighttime riding.

9. First aid kit.

Bandages, peroxide, povodine iodine, non-narcotic pain killers, immodium. Small wounds wrapped in hot protective gear have a way of getting really, really nasty, really, really quick. Lesson learned outside of Boston 3 years ago where I got a bad leg infection. If you get a wound, take the time and dress it up proper.

Miscellaneous tips and tricks:

Fuel stops are killer. I have a ritual:

– Take of hydration system, hang from handlebar.
– Fuel bike.
– Fill up hydration.
– Chow down on a bar.
– Choke down energy shot.
– Bathroom.
– Check route, contemplate

I factor 10 minutes per fuel stop. It is a bit long, but if you skimp here, you wind up stopping more later to add water, snack, restroom, etc. Make sure you save the receipt.

Do not speed. Wears you out faster, risk of tickets, increased risk of death.

Jornada del Muerto. But at the end, the accomplishment you get from doing a proper run is the best feeling you’ve ever had.

September 3, 2010

AMA/FIM records

Filed under: Uncategorized — smarmbeast @ 3:00 am

Upon a careful review of the AMA and FIM rulebooks, the prospect of running a bike again appears more tempting.

This is the dangerous phase.

The phase were a very bad idea germinates. The phase were you talk yourself into it. It all starts with numbers.

You have twenty two engines classes in the AMA to enter in, and 8 frame classes. 154 possibly records.

In FIM, it is mind boggling.  Three classes, five types, and 15 groups. Tighter rules, but less people are tightly grouped at the top and the bottom.

After looking at the numbers, the 650 class still looks good. The record is now 168.532 in a 2009 Kawa. This is probably a ZX-6R, which is a fast bike, and faired. But this is a P-P model. Oddly enough however, we can cheat. The M-P (Modified frame, production engine.) class record is 102.1 miles per hour.

Everything else is out of reach. So one has to look at two carrots:

1. Run a 650 class motorcycle. Remove frame brackets to qualify for M-P class, and snatch the record for $3,000. Check it off the list. I can get more than 102mph on a SV 650. Cheap, fairly reliable. Danger level in full gear, reasonable. Chance of success, decent. There is an open FIM record in this class, so theoritically, one could put down the track, and take it.

2. Run a stripped ‘Busa with a longer swingarm, slight engine mods in a fueler class. While it would impossible to take a record with this bike, it offers other incentives. A. It is fast. B. One could potentially join the 200MPH club on the long FIM track. The danger level is quite high. The chance of success is iffy. There are significant aero and traction challenges. I am very hesitant to do this despite its visceral attraction. Although I see a P-P bike at 203.77, most likely a stock Hayabusa unlimited. I have alot of questions on how they are able to put that kind of power down to get that speed on that satanic surface. But the salt is not asphalt.

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