My Velocity Squared

September 4, 2010


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?”


“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.

August 30, 2010

Miscellanous Hoonage I’m involved in.

Filed under: Uncategorized — smarmbeast @ 6:59 am

I specialize in doing stupid things. I specialize in doing the things that you shouldn’t do.

People think that it’s adventurous. Something to strive for, something they wish they could aspire to if they could pare down their life.

They are wrong.

It is an addiction. This is a single bedroom apartment filled a couple of computers, some guitars, and a whole lot of leather, kevlar and gortex. A triplet of canceled passports in the corner, and plane ticket stubs.

There is one person here. Me. There are no cats, no dog. Nothing that can’t be left alone for ten days or so and die from neglect. No SO, so no awkward discussions about thinking about being safe for “us”, being home on weekends, etc. This is a selfish addiction. It wants me, cash, and time. Like all addictions, it gives back something I need. A feeling of freedom. A feeling of what’s over there. A feeling of can it go faster, or farther?


SCCA Rally Cross and Road Rally.

Stopped doing road rally because it is only fun for accountants. This is America… we hate rally racing here, so we have castrated it. Rally cross is like a special stage rally, only put into a very small box to make if terribly unfun, and with cones instead of trees. Also unfun. Actually…. anything the SCCA is involved with is categorically unfun. I get letters asking me to join again. I would rather pound a dull nail through my foot and pour scotch on the wound.

Rally America events, US RC, Cars.

The good stuff. Used to do the Snowbowl rally in a Dodge Omni with a 2.2 turbo. Ended tragically on the second year, after my co-driver told me the turn was a increasing 2 left, and it was in fact, a decreasing 5 RIGHT. I flicked for the left. A nice pine tree put the fuel cel rather nicely between both seats. He blamed the pace notes, I blamed him for writing and reading the pace notes. We didn’t talk for 3 years. Also, stopped racing cars after this. Now have severe issues trusting co-drivers and co-navigators. This precipitated my move to motorcycles.

Note there is only one event, the PPHC in the entire state of Colorado. Even though we have more Subaru WRX’s than any other state in the union. Go figure. I would love to do the PPHC. On something crazy, like unlimited sidecar class.

24 hour of LeMons:

$500 car, $1500 in safety gear. You and three of your most brain damaged friends. Buying the car in Oct. May go British. I would consider it a personal point of pride to make any $500 British car last 24 hours in an endurance race. First foray into car racing in forever. Should be fun. No goddamn pace notes, no co-driver.


Drag racing

The great things about most motorcycles is math. Simple math:

Stock ST1300: 630lbs + rider (260) / 117hp = 7.6lbs per HP. $15,000
Ferrari 360: 2,976lbs / 400hp = 7.8lbs per HP. $180,000

Out of the box, you can go and turn a 12.28 in a $15,000 motorcycle. That has luggage, and tours. A Suzuki Hayabusa on craigslist is five grand, and it will do the same in 11 seconds. Add a 15×10 slick, swing arm and a tank of laugh gas for another five grand, and you can turn 8’s. An 8 second quarter mile is ludicrously fast.

I like drag racing. It is pure and simple, but underneath lies enormous complexity. There is a view that people at drag racing tracks are knuckle dragging philistines. This is about the furthest from the truth. See, you can read a couple of books, build a bike with a more experienced person for $10,000 – $15,000, and that bike will turn 8’s or maybe 7’s. However, in order to win, you have to think.

When confronted with the shock of a drag launch, the mind does crazy things. The first thing it can do is roll off the throttle. This is a flight response. Most people do this automatically in a 13 second or faster vehicle the first couple of times. This is your brain going “Oh, shit, we are going die, STOP, STOP, STOP!”

The second thing that can happen is that you will fight. Open it up, keep a death grip on it and go. This is a problem if say… you need to stop. Routinely, a fast bike without drag bars will get unsettled if you are inexperienced. It is very important that roll off the throttle at this point smoothly, but quickly. Highsiding twenty feet off the staging line is bad form.

Another thing is reaction time. A sportsman’s drag racing tree has three yellow lights, one green, and one red. The rules are simple, Stage, yellow, yellow, yellow, green, go.

Except that this is wrong. You lose. Reaction time or R/T is a huge part of drag racing. When the light hits green, my vehicle should leave the line as soon as close as possible to the lighting the green. If I let out the clutch when I see the green I get an R/T of from .5 to .7 seconds. That will lose you the race. So, you need to start going when you see the last yellow light hit.

Except this is also wrong. You now must account for rollout. The electric eye that stages the car is blocked, indicated you are “staged” by your tire. Your tire must roll past it. This takes time. Generally about .2 seconds. So ideally, you need to start hitting it when you think that last yellow is ABOUT to light. And now you have to be very, very careful. Because if you jump the green light, you get a red light, and your run is binned. So the question becomes, how close do you want to cut it to the red? Top Fuel pros can do .090 or better. My personal best is .153. My average is .25’ish.

Getting back into this with my stock bike. May use as LSR prep or put together a ‘Busa. Cheap fun. ETA, every Wednesday until they close for the winter or I do something my health insurance company will regret.

Sport Bike Track Racing

I must confess, I am terrible at this. Motorcycles handle like shit in curves. Too little rubber on the road, too few points of contact. Too many physical laws begging for a third point of contact, of which it would love to use your skull. Technically, the track sliders on the sides of your knees provide a third point of contact. Who the hell thought of this. “Well then… let’s put a plastic puck there, and slowly grind it away. You know, just so people won’t forget what it is like slide along the road in between near fatal accidents.”

Oh, and until you have wired a track bike with racing wire, you have not experienced true hell. Take a close look at a sport bike. Note all the small bolts on the engine. Now imagine drilling carefully through every single one, routing wire though them, and twisting till you never want to see another pair of safety wire pliers in your life. And if you have to repair anything, you get to do it again. You have to safety wire a few things on a drag track, but here, everything has to be wired. Everything.

I do not track race anymore. Too much risk, too little psychological reward for me. I see bad accidents at almost every event, some of them serious. I have no plans to get back into it.

LSR (Land Speed Record Racing.)

Did this once. Bonneville. Will probably do again. Basically, we had a prepped P-P(Production Chassis, Production Engine.) bike that met the AMA class for BUB speed trials. Decided our bike would easily hit the meager record, registered, and drove to Utah.

Dumb fucking decision. Truely, stupid, Truely Arrogant.

This is not a event of horsepower. Or road traction. It is a race of Voodoo. Absolute Voodoo. This is how it went:

Pass tech. Great.

Make pass one. Whoah. The bike was all over the place. Must have been REALLY fast. Get timing slip. Flip the fuck out. 98MPH.

Spend the next two days getting advise from every “Salt Guru” around. Loose this, add that, set the preload lower, set it higher. Put air in the tires, take them out. A hundred contradictory opinions. We don’t now where to start.

Two days later, we are taking tire pressure out each time. Slowly. You can’t go fast on a bike. We cross 115MPH. We are addicted. We have the fever. We have to go faster. We know we’ll never hit the record, but we have know…. how fast can we go?

I found out that you can go over the handlebars fast. Very fast. Especially when an under inflated rear tire hops the rim, jams the rear axle at 100MPH plus. I don’t know how fast I was going. I flew over the bars before the timing mile. Best crash of my life. Nothing to hit. Some anxiety as I noticed the motorcycle bouncing after me like an over eager golden retriever in my peripheal vision, but otherwise, very pleasant. There was a herioc repair attempt. We passed tech…. but the frame seemed to be warped a bit. Not that we would see, but it was hopeless, something was skewed on our test run. We packed up our kit and headed home.

Anyways, wisdom learned: Suspension is worthless, more or less. Lock it up if you can get away with it. Let the bike sculpt the salt, not the other way around. Don’t run super street tires. We thought the sipes would help, nope. Thin slicks are best. Also, going fast in a non aero/streamliner class is amazing hard. However, doing a streamliner is dicey if you have no proper knowldge of aerodynamics. When things go wrong with amateur aero experiments, they go very wrong. We saw two streamliners do somersaults, both of which seem to have been caused by the vehicles getting very light, very quickly. Possibly late August 2011. Have to find the bike I want to run in a class that is competitive. I would really like to set a record. But realistically, alot of people have been going for 10+ years, and have never had a record in their name.

IBA (Iron Butt Association.)

The most grueling motor event in the world.

1,000 miles in 24 hours. Or 1,500 miles ins 36. In a car this is no great deal. On a motorcycle this is grueling and dangerous.

And it gets worse.

A couple of times a year, they do 5,000 miles in 5 days, and 10,000 miles in 10 days. The Iron Butt Rally (10,000 in ten days.) I am convinced is the most grueling endurance test in the world. I have done multiple 1,000 in 24 hours. Never bothered to get certified. On my list to do this year. Best endurance 3 consecutive 1,000 mile days. Did attend the conference in Denver this year. Planning on hitting a few 1,000 rally’s and doing the 5,000 mile rally this year. Prep has already begun for that. ST1300 is the defacto IBA vehicle. BMW’s used to be real popular, but they decided to start creating shitty final drive assemblies that like to blow up randomly. Need a new saddle, and to pin down navigation system and the audio system on the bike for endurance. And a quieter helmet. That Nolan is loud. I should have known better than to expect anything Italian to be civilized or quiet. Or practical for that matter. God I hate Italian products. ETA, Aug 2011.

Miscellaneous crap


Is there snow in the Rockies? Then I am in Summit Co. It is nice to be snowboarding again. Missed it alot. Still can’t really feel the sole of my right foot, but I can crack black runs now, so it’s shaking out o.k. Made alot of progress in the last year. A few years ago I didn’t think I would be able to do it again. I am truely happy with the progress here. 5 years from walking with a cane to snowboarding. Still need to shed alot of weight, but slow and steady does it. Ran a 5k this year as well. Unbelievable.

Weird side note, I find my guitar rack makes a great snowboard rack. My guitars are now mounted on the wall. Odd, but it works.


Like doing this. A bit disappointed about picking it up again. If I can drop about 30 more pounds I think it will come back again. As it is, I cannot roll, and after a bad experience in Apple creek getting cut up on rocks, and I have developed a bit of the fright.

Back on the road from a self imposed exile

Filed under: Uncategorized — smarmbeast @ 3:20 am

You see, I can feel it.

Sitting here on the couch, I can feel it.

The buzz of the asphalt zipping beneath my feet.

The dry stone smell of a thousand different roads on three continents.

The way my blood runs fifty thousand volts electric approaching sweeper curves in in a canyon that rust from time before humans walked the earth.

The sinew that ripples beneath my wrists as they recall over a hundred and fifty thousand miles of celluloid memories burning through my neurons.

The breath that seems to take thirty second to inhale as you setup a turn that might sweep to infinity.

I miss the road. I once thought it was lost.

The road.

Not the road they want you to have of itineraries, dates, plane tickets and luggage carousels.

The road you want.

The road of I’m going that way.

The road of I do not know where I lay my head.

The road that invites you to ride down Ansel’s highway and into yourself.

The road that parboils everything down to DEAD or ALIVE.

The road. It is not my road. I cannot possess it. But I can ride with it for a while. May the ride be good.

Review: Honda 2005 ST1300 Initial Impressions after 1,500 miles.

Filed under: Uncategorized — smarmbeast @ 3:12 am

The “Goldwing” light. 1.3liters, V4 twin balance shaft powerplant. It whirs like something out of a science fiction movie at light throttle. Roars like a civilized lion when you twist just a little further.


Perfect mix between sport and touring suspension. A little soft for a pure sport application, but perfect for pouring on the miles with the occasionally spirited cornering session. Most of this could be fixed by adjust the rear preload in my opinion. A large knob is provided for this reason on the left hand side. Also, keep the weight off the rear obviously if you are going out for a cornering session… no top box, and loose the panniers. At $400 a pop, they are expensive to replace.

Wind Protection:

Pros: Can keep every last breeze off of you.

Cons: Will keep every last breeze off of you.Lower body wind protection is perfect, but invariable. You will roast on hot days. But this is biking 101. Deal.

Upper body is nice… I am 5’10” and with the electric windscreen lowered, I can have a nice breeze over my upper body, with no buffeting. Raised all of the way, I can ride in moderate rain and barely get wet. Thoughtfully, when fully raised, their are chines that let air flow up your arms, and a laminar flow underneath the windshield. This stops buffeting, and provides a slight flow of air to keep things from going completely stagnant. This is something Yamaha should be taking notes on. I’m looking at you, FJR. In fact… don’t take any notes. Simply copy of the ST1300. The FJR is rubbish.


Low beams could be brighter. But I think all low beams could be brighter. I replace them as a matter of reflex with squirrel roasting HID lamps. Generally this blinds other drivers. Given that most drivers cannot drive even if they can see, this is a net gain for me. At least if they can’t see, they stay on the same trajectory. They are however nicely adjustable via electric knob. A adjustment for angle between high and low would be cool, even if manual.

Speaking of, DOT… what is with the specs on motorcycle low beam inclinations? None of them illuminate well enough to drive over 40mph. And to compensate, the high beams are aimed at the level of a Hummer drivers retinas. All this makes people do is either drive around with high beams on, or retrofit HID. And people wonder why most touring motorcycles have aftermarket light kits that look like Betelgeuse just gone super nova…

THIS IS WHY. It is not the 1970’s. Stop this crap now. The only production motorcycle to come with adequate lighting is Goldwing 1800, and that is with the aux lighting option.


Perfect. V4, balance shafts, monocoque w/frame. Perfect. No vibration, no vibration fatigue.

Engine Management:

Where to start? As perfect as possible, almost.

1. EPA 2500 RPM Fuel cut. Whoever is preserving this rule on motorcycles, your days are numbered. As in, when this stupid mindless feature kills one of my friends, I will hunt you down, and murder you. It is abrupt, it is dangerous, and it does not save fuel on motorcycles. It’s only purpose is to unbalance bikes, especially at low speeds. Die in a fire, you incompetent git. I cannot fault Honda for abiding by regulations, but they should really make this simple to deactivate. Like a big jumper under the seat that says…. “For track use only, wink, wink,nudge, nudge…” that turns this off.

2. Fuel rail pressure. Should be 60Psi. Better fuel atomization, better fuel economy, and less little hiccups. Basically, 50Psi, crank the throttle, and the pressure drops just a little too low.. and it… hiccups for a fraction of a second. This is Honda’s fault. I believe after 2007 this is fixed. I have ordered the fix, and it will be installed shortly.

3. Emissions 1000rpm to 4500rpm lean out. This is to pass emissions… wait for it… in Europe. Unless I missed a few millions years of continental drift overnight, this is not Europe.

The problem is there is a rather nice pop from 4500-5500 RPM. More than I would expect from tuned intake runners. This is because the engine is running lean in lower RPM’s to pass emissions (In Europe….). Every FI bike does this, and it is total crap. This is a bike. It gets 40MPG. It burns incredibly clean without a catalytic converter. No state, except Cali, tests bikes for emissions. And the emissions tests Cali runs basically makes sure that the bike isn’t actually pissing gasoline out the tailpipe. Unnecessary tripe that gets in the way of the riding experience. Tripe that makes little frayed edges around an otherwise masterful execution.

Note to bike makers… when in the US, tune for the US. When in Europe, tune for Europe. Please stop shipping us these European ECU maps out with every touring bike that comes down the pipe. And don’t get any ideas… I get a CBR type all or nothing suicidal insanity throttle response from a Japanese ECU map, my next of kin will be very surly.

Luggage space:

Enormous. The Goldwing has more. This has slightly less. The optional trunk fits two full size helmets. Or a cooler, and a weeks worth of clothes and toiletries + widgets. The saddle bags fit an extra set of riding clothes, and my tech bag. The fairing boxes fit 4 red bulls, and riding gloves. I might fit a tailbag for some extra riding clothes during electric season, but… might is the operative word. I am on the fence about this. Filling all of this however will kill the performance. 4.8 seconds something instead of 4 flat. The bike is weight sensitive. It also effects the handling. However, if you are piling all of this stuff on the bike, you probably aren’t out emasculating Porsche Cayenne* owners.


The perfect bike for what I use it for, minus the engine management quibbles. A Goldwing on a diet. Great fuel economy, great handling. Honda reliability.

* If you own a Porsche Cayenne, you are a cock. You are still my friend, but you are a cock. Every single person that has owned a Porsche Cayenne I have ever met is a cock. It is the official SUV of the cock, as the Audi is the official car of the cock, Jabra is the official bluetooth earpiece of the cock, and Oakley is the official sunglasses of the cock. I don’t think cocks have an official motorcycle. Maybe Aprilia.

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