A blog or two down I mentioned that our motor maestro Rich was doing a hop up on our good buddy John’s CSC 250. It’s a cool project…a ported and polished, milled-down cylinder head…
Rich had the head milled 0.035, and he got to that number by doing a clay impression of the piston at top dead center to make sure that the modified motor would have sufficient valve clearance. Milling the cylinder head reduces the combustion chamber volume, which bumps the compression, which increases power. Very cool stuff, and nobody is better at it than our guy Rich.
A quick shot of the engine…
And a photo of the completed bike in our “skunk works” area…
The CSC 250 you see above is a tastefully-accessorized motorcycle (these bikes look awesome in gloss black, but then, they look good in any color). With the engine mods, it is going to be one quick scooter. John, you’re going to have a lot of fun with this bike!
Yep, we were up in the mountains again today, this time with Ari and Brian from Motorcyclist magazine. Good times, folks…
The orange RX3 in the photos above is absolutely stock with the exception of the handguards. We’ll have those with the CSC logo (the handguards in the photo above are preproduction items) for just $49.95.
Here’s a shot of the blue RX3…
The blue RX3 has our Tourfella aluminum bags ($849.95) and the 19-inch front wheel ($199.95 for the wheel only; $269.95 for the wheel, tire, and matching CST dual sport tire). I rode the blue bike today. It was fun.
I was on the road again today, on my motorcycle, but not for too long. I fired up the Baja Blaster right after we returned from, well, Baja, and she was running rough at low rpm. The little 150 single ran well at higher rpm, but it wouldn’t idle properly. Steve told me the low speed passageways in the jets were most likely clogged. He reminded me I actually wrote a blog about that a few years ago, and he suggested I take a look at it. Son of a gun, that’s what happens when you get old. I did a search on main jet, and whaddaya know…
It’s those little holes along the brass tube that get gummed up, so I cleaned them out and the bike absolutely purrs at low speed now. So much so that I hopped on and rode up to Mt. Baldy…
Good times up there today…I stopped at the Mt. Baldy Lodge and there were a few other bikes, including this Harley belonging to my new good buddy Bill…
Bill was interested in the CSC 150, as is usually the case when anyone sees these Mustangs for the first time. We had a nice chat, we talked about the different surgeries we had endured (another common theme when old bikers get together), and I grabbed another shot of the Baja Blaster and Bill’s Harley…
All this happened before I even left the parking lot. When I got to the Mt. Baldy Lodge front door, I saw another couple of cool bikes…a Triumph and an old Honda Trail 70…
Both of their owners came out and I had another nice chat. Wowee. I was a regular chatty Cathy today.
All talked out, I went inside to have an ice tea. I never drink alcohol when I ride, but there was a Bud somebody left on the bar and I was playing with the camera…
That’s Corina in the background. She’s nice. Had a nice chat with her, too.
I started looking around, and I noticed all of the stuffed animals I had never taken note of before…so, wanting to play with the camera, here we go…
After enjoying my iced tea, I rode down the hill and I got to thinking: It’s been a while since we had a CSC 150/250 ride. All you guys out there…what do you think about getting together this weekend or next for a ride up in the mountains on the modern Mustangs? Drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know if you’re interested. I sure am.
More news…we’re modifying our CSC website. We’re going to have two websites in the near future. One will be focused entirely on the new RX3 line (that one will be www.CSCMotorcycles.com) and the other will be focused on the CSC 150 and CSC 250 (that one will be www.CaliforniaScooterCo.com). If you type in either address today, it takes you to our one site, but within the next month, we’ll have the two different sites described here. The blog will serve both sites and it will continue to feature stories about both bikes.
You’ve probably noticed the new layout and format for the blog. We changed that today. Let me know if you like the new look (you can write to me at the above address).
More good stuff. Rich is hopping up a CSC 250 engine for one of our customers with a port and polish job, and he milled the heads 0.035 to bump the compression. I’m very eager to see how that performs when it’s all bolted back together. I’ll post some photos of it in the next few days.
Still more good stuff: Lots is happening in our accessories world. Thanks to my good buddy Ryan’s efforts, we now have a complete line of lubes and other chemicals for your RX3 and your CSC 150/250, and we’ll be posting prices and special offers on them very shortly.
And yet more: We’re now taking orders on the 19-inch front wheel. It’s a bolt-in replacement steel-rimmed, wire wheel. The good news is this: The complete new 19-inch wheel is $199.95. With a matching tire and tube (matching to the stock CST dual sport tires, that is), the price is $269.95. The bad news is the wheels are 60 days away, but we are taking orders for them now. Folks, that’s a hell of a deal on a complete front wheel. Shop it around and you’ll see what I mean.
Call us at 909 445 0900 and ask for Ryan if you wish to add any of these new accessories to your RX3, and as always, keep an eye on the blog. More news on the accessories is coming up.
The Xian Fei Zhou is currently about 140 miles out of Long Beach, waiting to take her turn in getting a berth in the harbor. She’s the vessel surrounded by the red brackets, and her position is shown below.
Once the ship berths (we don’t know when that will be), she has to be unloaded (that part goes quickly), and then the cargo has to move through Customs (that part is also tough to predict). Our cargo from the Germany (the one that arrived last week) is still waiting to clear Customs, so we’re close, but still a ways off.
We’re back…crossed the border yesterday at Mexicali (a swing way to the east to avoid the labor riots) and we are back in the good old USA. It’s been an interesting few days.
When I was a lot younger I thought Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark was one of the coolest movies I had ever seen (I still feel that way). I even have an Indiana Jones hat. Actually finding yourself in a dangerous situation with no easy way out, though, isn’t quite as glamorous as it seemed to be in that movie. All that’s in the rear view mirror now. We’re home. Safe and sound.
So, the first question a lot of you are wondering about has got to be this:
Is the Baja trip still a go?
Folks, the answer is yes.
I’ve thought about this nonstop for the last several days and I’m not going to get a bunch of thugs destroy something for me that I’ve enjoyed greatly for the last 20+ years. Folks, we’re going! More on this later.
For now, more photos and more storytelling. My apologies in advance…I’m sitting here on a Monday morning, enjoying a cup of coffee, and I feel like writing. The problem is the dates are all running together and some of the photos are out of order with the preceding three or four blogs. No big deal…just bear with me.
Up above…that’s the best plate of quacamole and chips Susie and I ever enjoyed. Good stuff. We ate at Malarimmo’s restaurant the night before we ventured out to see the whales, and Susie ordered it as an appetizer. Just awesome, but not nearly as awesome as the next day’s events.
We were up early in anticipation of seeing the whales. It’s exciting. It’s like being a little kid again. You meet in front of the hotel, the little van picks you up, you get to the docks, it’s life vest lessons 101, and you’re off, bouncing off the waves at around 30 mph, racing to that part of Scammon’s Lagoon (aka Laguna Ojo de Liebre) where the whales hang out.
The entire region is fascinating. The town is called Guerrero Negro, which means the black warrior in Spanish. It’s the name of a whaling ship that sank off the coast in this region in the 1800s. The locals starting referring to the area as Guerrero Negro, which is unusual in itself because unlike most Mexican towns, it’s not named for a hero of the Mexican Revolution or a saint.
And the lagoon has quite a history, too. Nobody used to know where the whales were going during their annual migration, and the whaling ships of the day just wandered up and down the Pacific coast trying to harpoon them. It sounds strange today, but the whales were needed for their oil. Whaling was a big industry back then. Real Moby Dick stuff, I guess.
Well, ol’ Captain Scammon discovered where the whales were going on their annual southern migration, and it was Baja. He sailed into the lagoon that you see in the videos on this blog and in the photos below, and it was a slaughter. So much so that he and the other whalers of that era nearly eradicated the herd.
That’s when the Mexican government stepped in and enacted laws to protect the whales, and those laws worked well. The herd is now estimated to be over 20,000 whales, which is as big as it was prior to the Scammon-led slaughter of the innocents. Today, this area is the only place in the world where you can actually touch a gray whale. The remote location keeps the numbers down, and surprisingly, you don’t see that many Americans doing this. It’s mostly Mexican folks and a few Canadians.
The first hour is always slow…you’ll spot whales off in the distance, surfacing and spouting, and it always seems like maybe that’s as good as it will get. Then the whales get used to the little pongas (it’s what they call the boats these guys use in Baja), and they start approaching.
Folks, let the fun begin…
And a bunch of photos showing the day’s fun times…
Susie pets a baby whale…
And just for the sake of completeness, here’s that video I posted yesterday, showing the whales having fun with us..
After we completed our whale watching activities, the next leg of our journey was to get around San Quintin. That seemed like it would be tough to me, because as I’ve said before, there’s only one paved road down and back through Baja. It’s the Transpeninsular Highway, and it rolls right through San Quintin. I did not want a repeat of what happened to us on the way down, and that meant we had to take to the dirt.
I’d never done this route before, and depending on who I talked to, we’d either be in the dirt for 45 miles or 80 miles. Most folks in southern Baja knew that the road south of San Felipe (on the Sea of Cortez side) was supposed to be paved some day, but no one seemed to know the road’s current status.
We rolled north on Highway 1 for about 80 miles out of Guerrero Negro, and then turned east, on the dirt road, to head across the peninsula.
One mile into it, we met an old guy on a 1st generation BMW GS motorcycle who had a flat tire. It was hot out, he was suited up in his riding coveralls, and he said his onboard tire pump wasn’t working. That’s the little compressor like I talked about as an accessory for the RX3 several blogs ago. He asked if he could plug it into my cigarette lighter (the one in the Subie), and we did so. It was dead. I then noticed that it had an on/off switch, and I turned it to the opposite position it was when he handed it to me. The little compressor fired up, scaring all three of us with its noise. That poor old guy was so discombobulated by the heat that he had forgotten to turn the thing on! That happens…you get overheated and then you stop thinking clearly.
We pressed on, and the road became pretty gnarly. The little Subie was a champ, and I was thinking how fortunate we were that my War Wagon has 4-wheel drive.
Then, up ahead, we saw another vehicle carefully picking its way across the rocks and the ruts. It was a Chrysler mini-van (a real soccer mom vehicle), and it had a taxi medallion on top! A mini-van taxi out in the middle of nowhere, on a dirt road across the central Baja peninsula’s mountainous spine! Only in Baja, folks! I would have liked to have grabbed a photo of that, but Susie and I were laughing too hard and I was concentrating too intensely on piloting the Subie over the rough stuff.
The dirt road in that photo above looks pretty smooth, and at that point it was. I was too scared to stop elsewhere on this road for a photo.
The old guy on the BMW told us the rough stuff lasted for 23 miles, but based on the stories I had heard from other Bajaenos, I did not know if that meant the rough part of the dirt road, or the length of the dirt road.
Well, we got lucky. After 23 miles, just like our BMW ancient mariner had told us, we pulled into the Gonzaga Bay area (on the Sea of Cortez) and onto a newly paved road that was literally brand new! Woohoo! It was pavement all the way up to San Felipe. The next approximately 80 miles were paved, and not dirt!
Here’s a photo of Susie and the Subie overlooking Gonzaga Bay on the new road…
We spent our final night (for this trip, anyway) in San Felipe. San Felipe is a tourist town and quite frankly, it’s too touristy for my tastes. Susie and I walked along the Malecon (the shoreline) after a seafood dinner at Chuy’s (not as good as I remembered it from a previous trip) and I grabbed a few evening photos…
We were up early the next morning, we rolled the 130 miles north to Mexicali (a large industrial town of about a million people, right on the border), waited the 45 minutes to get up to the crossing, and then from there it was a quick 200 miles back to our home.
This trip was definitely one for the record books. Our mission was to scout out what was happening in advance of our CSC RX3 Inaugural Baja Run, and we sure did that! Vultures, rattlesnakes, Ospreys, cave paintings, riots, the Sea of Cortez, Santa Rosalia, dirt roads, and on it goes.
After that first day, I was mad at Mexico. Those folks staging the riot ruined my vacation, or so I thought. Everyone we bumped into south of that point was talking about it, and the desk clerk at the hotel in Catavina (where we spent our first night) said it was a very bad situation. Then I got to thinking about it. 21 years of touring Baja. One bad experience that we got though okay, other than some minor war wounds on the Subie. Was it worth discarding one of the most beautiful parts of the planet I’d ever seen over that?
One of our fellow travelers exchanged email addresses with us and we received this note while we were down there:
Hello Joe and Sue!
We met you on the church steps at San Ignacio – Hope your trip to Mulege has been good.
We’ve had a great time including the whale trip to the lagoon. The worst part was the hugely long detour we had to take when strikers closed the roads at Colonet – but GOOD NEWS —We drove from Catavina home to San Diego today and the road all the way north is open. Beginning in San Quintin we did see some scorched roadways where fires had been built, and people taking down wood barriers to protect their store fronts/windows. Most of the OXXO stores were closed until we got to Ensenada.
Best of luck in your travels —
Pat & Greg
My thoughts were that for our Baja ride, we could come down through San Felipe and take the dirt road I described above on the RX3s, but truth be told, that road is just too gnarly (in my opinion) for the bikes. There are huge stretches of soft sand and I don’t like riding through that on a motorcycle. The road through the San Quintin area (the Transpeninsular Highway) has been brought under control and it’s open. That’s the way to go.
I also received several notes from you in response to my earlier question about doing a tour through the US instead of Baja. Every one of you said you’d do whatever I felt was best, but you would greatly prefer Baja. My Baja buddy John Welker told me I’d find out who the real adventurers were based on whether they opted for Baja or a US trip. Well, I did, and it’s you.
Boys and girls, we’re Baja bound!
Stay tuned, and we’ll be confirming the dates as soon as we know for sure when the bikes will be here.
Good times in Baja today, boys and girls. After spending the evening in Santa Rosalia, we regaled in the glory of, well, the title of this blog…pinturas rupestre (I’ll tell you what that means in a minute), reptiles, and raptors.
First, one of two photos from last night. We spotted these two young ladies enjoying an after-dinner walk in front of the Gustav Eiffel church downtown…
And of course, a quick shot inside the church…
Susie and I were up early heading north, and we spotted this member of the Baja Sanitation Department checking things out from atop a Cardon cactus…
The plan today was to visit the pinturas rupestre, or Baja’s ancient cave paintings. I’d always wanted to see these but never made the trek. Today we did. We diverted about 30 miles off Hwy 1 and wow, what a ride and what scenery! Starting, of course, with this guy…
I included that last shot because you can actually see the remnants of his (of her?) last meal…no doubt a hair from a hare. Cool stuff.
The road up to the cave was gnarly. I was glad I was in the Subie. I don’t think I would want to do this on a motorcycle (especially with critters like the one you see above out and about)…
It doesn’t look that bad in the photo above, but trust me on this, it got a lot worse. Sheer cliffs on one side, no room to turn around, and not enough room for an oncoming vehicle to pass. Whew!
When we got to the top, this fellow (his name was Enrique) sold us our official passes and hooked us up with a guide, all for about $15 (for both Susie and yours truly).
The cave paintings are thought to be about 1500 years old, and no one is sure who put them here. They’re from a civilization that vanished. Gone. Poof. Wiped clean from the face of the Earth.
Okay, enough of the Indiana Jones stuff…here are the photos…
We had a good time, and we met some nice folks while we were up there. One of the fellows you see in this photo is a Tijuana lawyer with a daughter who is a professor at NYU, another is a physical education professor somewhere here in Mexico, and the third guy was our guide this morning.
That’s Susie, of course, in the middle…
After that it was a blitz into Guerrero Negro. I stopped along the way for a War Wagon glamor shot…
When we made Guerrero Negro late this afternoon (getting to the pinturas rupestre and back is pretty much an all day affair), we stopped for another round of fish tacos at Tony’s…
We had a couple of hours of daylight left so we pointed the Subie east and drove out to the Guerrero Negro light house. This entire area is a Mexican nature preserve, and one of its many inhabitants is the Osprey. They are pretty cool looking, and we watched one doing the same thing we did…he (or maybe she?) was enjoying a fish taco, but without the tortilla…
Oh, and the light house…this was the turnaround point of our drive out to the Pacific today…
Tomorrow we’re going out to see the whales, and if everything goes right, I’ll have some great photos of that, too.
If you’ve been following the War Wagon chronicles, you know that we hit a little trouble in San Quintin two days ago, and it’s been hard to get updates on it down here. My good buddy Charles Fleming from the LA Times told me they picked up the story today, but it’s been hard to get a read on current status in that area. The consensus is the situation is still unsettled. We’re going to take dirt roads after seeing the whales tomorrow and come up along Baja’s eastern coast on the Sea of Cortez. The plan is to make San Felipe by nightfall, spend the night there, and then re-enter the US through either Tecate or Mexicali the next day. That will keep us completely out of the San Quintin area.
The question for all of us is this: Do you folks still want the Inaugural Run to be through Baja (with a diversion around San Quintin), or would you rather do a 4 or 5 day ride through the American Southwest, hitting spots we select from places like the Pacific Coast Highway, California’s Sequoia National Park, Laughlin, the Grand Canyon, Zion, and maybe Bisbee? I’m okay either way, so let’s hear your thoughts, all you future RX3 riders!
Susie and I are down in Baja scouting the locations for the Inaugural Baja run, and it sure has been an interesting two days. I didn’t have any Internet access in Catavina yesterday, but I have a spotty connection down in Santa Rosalia tonight, right on the Sea of Cortez, and we’ll see how much of this gets through.
First, a few quick photos of our first couple of stops…
Rolling across the US border into Mexico…
Jesus, a giant statue on the way to Ensenada
Breakfast in Velero’s in Ensenada…worth the trip into Mexico all by itself!
The Blue Pearl, on the beach…
After we rolled through Ensenada, it was on through the mountains south of there and the agricultural district. Boy oh boy, did we have an adventure.
All that stuff I’ve been telling you about how safe it is down here? Well, I still believe it, but my confidence (and Susie’s) was sorely tested yesterday.
See that guy in the photo below? FYI, you’re not supposed to take photos at these roadblocks, and I want you to keep that in mind on our CSC Baja trip…but I never have done too well following rules….
I’m talking about the infantryman talking to the car in front of us at our first military roadblock on the way down. He’s the dude standing to the left of the white car…
Mr. “Okay, go ahead…”
Well, things got very interesting yesterday. That shot was about 175 miles south of the border, just north of San Quintin, where we got caught in a mini-labor riot. Turns out the migrant workers down here are not happy with their wages on the farms. A lot of them come from mainland Mexico with their families, including their kids, whom they evidently put to work picking whatever crops they pick in the fields north of San Quintin. The Mexican government is clamping down on child labor, so that affects these people and they are plenty angry about it. Real angry, apparently.
One of the military checkpoint guys told us the road was closed (that dude in the photo above) about 80 km ahead but he didn’t speak English and he didn’t tell us why. I thought it was because they were working on the road, which happens frequently in Baja, and when that happens the road is closed for about 20 minutes. Then you can proceed. Happens all the time. Amazingly (based on what we found out a few miles down the road) that young soldier let the car in front of us proceed, and then he let us proceed.
About 30 miles later, we started seeing what we thought were small piles of asphalt on the road with lots of wires (you know, like for fixing potholes, which they have a lot of, but I couldn’t figure out what the wires were). We saw this for about the next 15 miles. We saw hundreds of people milling around, too; far more than I’ve ever seen in these little farming towns.
It turns out that we what thought were piles of asphalt were actually the remnants of burning tires. As in “let’s light a fire and shut the main highway down…” The ag workers have been having demonstrations (actually, labor riots) in the San Quintin area, and we found out (kind of the hard way) that this had been going on for 2 days.
We went a few more miles and encountered a roadblock (more burning tire remnants and boulders blocking the road) with about 50 men milling about who immediately surrounded us. They wouldn’t let us go forward or turn around. One of them threatened the Subie with a 2×4. They were all over the car. Susie had the presence of mind to lock the doors. These guys were mad at the world, and we were the world at that instant. I didn’t know what to do, so I fell back on what always seemed to work elsewhere in the world: I asked the guy who seemed to be in charge if I could pay the “toll” to get through. He seemed genuinely surprised at that, he thought about it for maybe 5 seconds (duly observed by his subordinate seditionists), and then he realized this might be a viable way to make a living. My wife designs and manages automated toll roads in the US, and it seems to work for us. Our Mexican revolutionary said, “hokay,” I gave him a ten dollar bill, and he told the insurrectionists “let them pass.” Crisis averted. Whew!
The tire remnants continued for another 5 miles, but no more roadblocks. When we were stopped at the impromptu toll plaza, one of the seditionists keyed my car door on Susie’s side with initials, presumably the initials of their labor movement (LPS or something like that). I’ll guess I’ll get my body shop guy to repaint it when I get home. That little Subie is going to end up having more bodywork than Joan Rivers. A couple of months ago I dropped one of the RX3s into it. This week it was the Nuevo Mexican Revolution. I’m keeping the body shop business alive in California. Or maybe not. I might leave those initials there as a war wound. At the very minimum, I am re-christening the Subie. She’s no longer the Starship Subaru (sorry, Carl, that was a good moniker, but its time has come and gone). My car is now known as the War Wagon.
We found out from a busload of people in El Rosario (next town down the before getting into the mountains) that they expect this to continue for a couple more days and then it should be over. One guy had his windows shattered, probably by the same guy we saw with the 2×4.
Folks, all the tourists down here (and there are lots of us) were talking about this. No one had ever experienced anything like it before, and most of us have been coming down here for decades. It’s a blip, and I’m guessing it is already over. Sure was exciting there for a bit, though.
We continued south after that…time for a few more photos…
Mama Espinosa’s in El Rosario…great burritos!
The War Wagon in the Vizcaino Desert south of El Rosario
Cardon cactus in the Vizcaino Desert
At one point on our way to Guerrero Negro, I spotted several vultures fighting over a dead rabbit. Time to put the 70-300 on the Nikon and see how close I could get…
The Baja Department of Sanitation hard at work
When you roll into Guerrero Negro, there’s a giant Mexican flag flying in front of a giant metal structure (an artist’s interpretation of the Mexican Eagle). You’re not supposed to take pictures here (it’s a military installation), but I still had the 300mm lens on the camera and I got sneaky…
The largest flag I’ve ever seen…
That point is right on the 28th Parallel, which marks the border between Baja and Baja Sur (the two Mexican states in Baja).
You know, being anywhere near the 28th Parallel and not stopping for a fish taco or two at Tony’s would be a crime. I’ve been stopping at his truck for the last 21 years…every time I come down here. What’s cool about it is Tony always recognizes me, even though sometimes it’s a year or more since I’ve seen him!
The best fish tacos in the world!
My good buddy Tony Lopez, who is a fish taco chef extraordinaire!
Tony told me he’s been in business for 22 years. I bought my first fish taco from him 21 years ago. You can read about that story here.
We stopped in San Ignacio next and I grabbed a couple of photos of (and in) the mission there….
The San Ignacio Mission, built by the Jesuits in the 1700s…it’s still in use as a working church
Flowers inside the Mission
One of the figures inside the San Ignacio Mission
That’s it for tonight, my friends. Time to sign off and get some shuteye. We’re headed south again tomorrow. Watch for more photos!
San Jacinto, about 175 miles south of the border, on the Pacific side of Baja
So, after getting the delivery date wrong and telling you all about it, nearly everyone who responded had kind words. Much appreciated, folks. We deeply believe that our customers come first and everything we do is centered on getting the best value for you. I know I let you down on that ship business.
That said, folks around the plant were whispering that I’m fleeing the country after getting the ships mixed up. I am, but but not because of the shipping mistake. I’m Baja Bound, boys and girls, and it’s for two reasons: To negotiate the best rates I can at the hotels and sites we’ll be visiting on our Inaugural Baja Run, and well, to kick back and have some fun.
First things first…I’ve been communicating with the good folks at Baja Bound Insurance, the specialists in insuring motor vehicles for gringos and gringas going to Baja. We’ve got a good deal, and what it boils down to is this: You can get insurance from Baja Bound for something between $10 to $14 per day, depending on the coverage you want. That’s about as good as it gets, and the better news is that these guys are for real. I’ve been using Baja Bound exclusively for the 20+ years I’ve been riding down into Baja, and I wouldn’t insure with anyone else.
You might be wondering: Can’t I just blow off getting this insurance?. Well, the answer to that is this: Not if you want to ride with us. Mexico requires that you have vehicle insurance. If you have an accident down there or if you get stopped for a traffic infraction and you don’t have insurance, you’re going to a place called la prision. For the $60 or so it costs to insure your bike for this ride, it would be silly not to have insurance.
A quick word on our route…we’ll cross the border at TJ, blow through there quickly, and stay on the Transpeninsular Highway all the way down…
Ah, Baja…our route!
On the way home, instead of re-entering the US through TJ, we’ll pick up Mexico Hwy 3 in Ensenada. It’s the road you see veering off to the east in the map above, and we’ll come home through Tecate. Hwy 3 is the Ruta Vinacola, and it goes through Mexico’s version of Napa Valley. It’s one of their top wine-producing regions. We’ll stop at LA Cetto Vineyards for a visit, but the real treat is the scenery. You’ll see.
Right now, I’m not too sure how far south we’ll get, but I’m trying to work it so we get at least as far as Santa Rosalia. Everyone needs to see that town and the Sea of Cortez. They’ve got this amazing church in the town square designed by Gustav Eiffel (the same dude who designed the Eiffel Tower) with amazing stained glass…
Inside Santa Rosalia’s Gustav Eiffel designed church
Some more info…one of my new RX3 friends asked me if I had any guidelines for the Baja trip. I wrote some things for her and then I thought it would be a good idea to repeat what I said here. So, here we go…these are my guidelines, rules, suggestions, or whatever you want to call them. It’s what I tell everyone who rides into Baja with me.
I like to ride in a staggered riding formation with lots of space between riders. No side by side stuff and no tailgating. Space is your friend when you ride in a group.
I like everyone to keep their high beams on in the day time. It’s easier to see if anybody has dropped out, and it’s safer because cars see you better. Notice I didn’t say anything about night time. That’s because we won’t be riding at night. There are animals on the road at night. If you crash into a cow on a motorcycle, the cow usually wins. Sometimes, you might even have a real jackass pull out right in front of you…
On the CSC 150 Baja run just north of Cabo San Lucas…can you believe this jackass?
As I mentioned above, everyone has to have Mexican insurance (we’ll give you more details on how to get this from Baja Bound as soon as we nail the dates down). You’ll also need a driver’s license and a passport. You can get into Mexico without a passport, but you can’t get back into the US without one. Hey, maybe you’ll want to stay down there. My buddy John is going to retire in Baja. But if you want to come home with us on this trip, bring a valid passport.
Don’t bring any illegal drugs with you. Legit prescriptions are okay, but if you come from a place where marijuana is now legal, good luck explaining that to a Federale. Trust me on this: They will find it.
I like to have a drink at the end of the day in the hotel bar. One drink. Maybe two, but that’s it. Moderation, folks. And absolutely no beer or other alcohol while we’re on the road. If you’re hung over and you don’t feel like riding the next morning, you’re on your own. We won’t wait for you to finish barfing.
I almost feel silly saying this, but I’ll say it anyway. Don’t bring a gun into Mexico. If you do, you will get caught. Hey, if that happens, look on the bright side…you’ll have lots of time to learn Spanish from your new bunkmates. Years, actually. The Mexican authorities take guns very seriously. You won’t get to go to traffic school for this one…you’ll be looking at serious prison time. I’m a 2nd Amendment guy and a certified gun nut, but folks, we’re not going to be in the US. And if you think you can hide something on your bike or on your person, well, you haven’t gone through the military checkpoints. We’ll go through lots of those. The military checkpoints are there for just two reasons…to find drugs and guns. I hear they’re pretty good at what they do.
You’ll want to bring sufficient cash. I posted a blog about this a few months ago, and my guesstimate at that time was about $750. I’ll have better numbers after my trip into Baja this week. A few places take credit cards and there are ATMs down there, but don’t count on this. We’re going to be in some pretty woolly areas.
You’ll want decent tires at the start of the trip (that won’t be a problem, as we’ll all be on new RX3 motorcycles). The stock RX3 tires are perfect for the kind of riding we’ll be doing. In fact, the RX3 is a perfect motorcycle for Baja.
We’ll be on the road at 8:00 a.m. sharp each morning. That means we’ll be eating breakfast at around 7:00 a.m. If you’re not ready, we won’t wait. I’ve done group rides before and this is the only way to keep things moving. Leading a group ride is a bit like herding cats. It’s fun and we’re going to have fun, but we have to keep to our schedule.
No nutty riding or racing. We’re all going to come home in the same shape we left. Safety first, folks.
ATGATT. That stands for all the gear, all the time. You’ll need a good helmet, a good jacket, good riding footwear, and good gloves. I’d recommend rain gear. I’ve never had a ride in Baja where I didn’t encounter some rain. Mexico requires that you wear a helmet. It’s not enforced by the Mexican authorities, but I won’t ride with you if you don’t wear a helmet.
No being a jerk with the Mexicans, including the hotel wait staff, the authorities, the guys selling us fish tacos (those are awesome), and anybody else we come across. The Bajaenos are a warm and friendly bunch. We need to be the same. Our friends south of the border want to show us a good time, and if you’ve never been to Baja, you’re in for a real treat. Throw all the stereotypes about Mexico out the window. Baja is special. We’re going to have a good time.
The big question is still the date for our Baja adventure. Dock strikes, flaky info on which shipping container contains what, and US Customs have kept us guessing. We’re getting close, though. I’ll be posting photos, hotel costs, and other info from Baja for the next several days, so keep an eye on the blog. I was going to take one of the RX3 test mules on this trip, but Susie told me she wanted to go, too, and that meant it’s the Starship Subie for us this week. It’s going to be fun.
This maintenance tutorial explains how to set up your new RX3 motorcycle. If you opt to do the setup yourself, your RX3 motorcycle will be delivered in a crate as you see in the video below.
Let’s get the warnings and stuff out of the way first:
The first thing you should do is check the condition of the delivered crate. If there are any anomalies, stop and give us a call at 909 445 0900.
The next thing you should do is check the VIN numbers on the exterior of the crate. Compare these numbers to the documentation delivered to you. If the numbers don’t match, stop and give us a call at 909 445 0900.
We’re not expecting any problems, but I had to tell you the above to satisfy the legal beagles.
Disassemble the shipping crate, taking care not to damage the motorcycle or its components. When you cut the cardboard off, cut it straight at the vertical corners so if you need to box it up again, you can tape it (bear with me, folks…more legal beagle stuff).
Carefully examine the motorcycle and the other components to make sure there’s no shipping damage. If there is any shipping damage, call us at 909 445 0900.
Unbolt the top and sides of the shipping container. Take out the parts around the motorcycle. Note that the motorcycle will not have the front wheel installed (the motorcycle forks will be bolted to the shipping container base). The motorcycle’s rear wheel will be captured in a trough in the shipping container.
At this point, it’s best to proceed with two people. You don’t have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger types; on our bikes, Steve and Lupe did the unpacking and the steps I’m going to describe next.
You have to get the motorcycle off the shipping container base to set it up. Unbolt the front forks from the shipping container base. Lift the rear of the motorcycle and swing it out of the shipping container base. Lift the front end of the motorcycle, swing the front end away from the shipping container base, and prop up the motorcycle with a suitable support. You want the front forks off the ground so you can install the front wheel.
Front Wheel Installation
Install the front wheel using the hardware already installed in the front forks (the front axle, the front axle nut, and the four clamp bolts). Add grease to the bearings, the speedometer drive, and the axle. We recommend Maxima grease, and if you need this, give us a call at 909 445 0900.
Make sure the speedometer drive is aligned with the slots in the front wheel. Move the front axle through the forks from right to left, oriented as in the photograph. Install the 17mm axle nut and tighten. Tighten the two pinch bolts on the right fork.
At this point, you can take the motorcycle off the support used to get the front end up in the air and put the motorcycle on its sidestand.
Install the handlebar into the top yoke with it centered and adjusted before fitting the clamps. Install four M8×30 hexagon socket head screws and tighten. Be careful not to scratch the motorcycle.
Clutch Lever Installation
Remove the bolts from the clutch lever support using an 8mm wrench. Install the clutch lever on the handlebar and tighten.
Motorcycle Guard Bar Installation
We used to call these crash bars. Now they are guard bars (ah, those lawyers again). We’re going to install the forward guards first. The forward motorcycle guard bar layout and required fasteners are shown below.
Start by installing the upper portion beneath the front fender. It attaches with a single M8×16 flange bolt as shown in the photos below. It’s under the headlight.
Next, we’ll install the lower portion of the forward motorcycle guard. Install the guard with two bushings to the lower portion of the guard and two M8×50 flange bolts. Install the U-bolt and attach to the frame using two M8 flanged self-locking nuts. Install two M8×45 flange bolts to connect the upper and lower portion of the forward motorcycle guards.
Once you’ve assembled everything with all of the nuts and bolts, tighten all of the fasteners.
When finished, the forward motorcycle guards should appear as shown below, with red arrows indicating the bolt attachment points.
Okay, so far, so good. Let’s install the rear rack next. Carefully install the rear rack over the rear body panels (be real careful not to scratch the rear body panels). Although the rear rack bolts and the rear guard is shown in this photo, don’t install them yet. Steve and Lupe got a little ahead of me when I was photographing the setup of this motorcycle.
Rear Motorcycle Guard Installation
The rear motorcycle guards and their components are shown in the photo below.
The photo below shows the rear engine guards assembled off the motorcycle. I’m showing you this photo only for the purpose of clarifying the relative position of the parts in the assembled condition. Don’t pre-assemble these pieces yet; I only wanted to show you how everything fits together so it will be more clear in the instructions below.
Position the right rear motorcycle guard on the right side of the motorcycle, like you see in the photo below.
Insert Bolt A through the right rear motorcycle guard and the rack and hand tighten to frame. Do the same on the left side of the motorcycle The next stop is to install Bolt B. There are two of these bolts. They go beneath the fender, and they go through both the left and right rear motorcycle guards.
Now we’re going to install the rear motorcycle subguards. Insert Bolts D and E through both the right and left rear motorcycle subguards. The upper portion of the subguard secures to the rear motorcycle guard with Bolt D; the lower portion of the subguard secures to the rear footguard strut with Bolt E. You can see where these go in the photos below.
Once the rear motorcycle subguards have been installed, the next step is to install the strut that connects them. Install the strut to the left and right rear motorcycle guards with Bolts C, like you see in the photos below.
After completing all steps above for the rear rack and rear motorcycle guards, tighten all of the fasteners.
Top Case Installation
Place the trunk connecting plate bushing beneath the top case support, and install one M8×85 flange bolt.
Install top case support plate with two truss head Allen bolts and two truss head bolts. Tighten all fasteners.
Now we can put the top case on the top case mounting plate with three 4mm Allen head bolts. Tighten the Allen bolts and then install the top case pad over the bolt heads at the bottom of the top case.
Each pannier is secured to the rear motorcycle guard with four M8×20 flange bolts and flanged washers (a pannier is what we used to call a saddlebag). The annular step on the washer faces toward the motorcycle and centers the bolt in the rear motorcycle guard bushing. Install all four bolts and tighten.
After doing the right saddlebag (oops, I mean pannier), repeat the process for the left pannier.
Rearview Mirror Installation
Install the left and right rearview mirrors on the handlebars.
The RX3 motorcycle is shipped with the battery installed in the motorcycle, but the battery contains no electrolyte. The electrolyte is packaged separately and included in the motorcycle shipping crate.
The battery is located under the seat on the right side of the motorcycle. It is accessible by removing the right body panel underneath the seat. It is not necessary to remove the seat to gain access to the battery. It will be easier to work around the battery, however, if you remove both seats.
The red harness is the positive side of the motorcycle electrical circuit; the black terminal is the negative side of the motorcycle electrical circuit.
Remove the electrolyte container, remove the battery cells’ covering strip, and fill each cell with electrolyte. Be careful not to spill the electrolyte. If any electrolyte contacts your skin, flush the area with large quantities of water. If any electrolyte contacts your eyes, flush your eyes with large quantities of water and seek immediate medical attention.
Prior to installing the battery caps, charge the battery with a battery charging device with a charging rate that does not exceed 2 amps. When charging the battery, leave the battery cell caps off. Only charge the battery in a well-ventilated area, and keep the charging battery away from any ignition sources. We recommend using a Battery Tender charging device for this initial charge. These things are great, and I use mine all the time. I keep the my bikes on a battery tender whenever they are in my garage. If you wish to purchase a Battery Tender, please contact us at 909 445 0900.
After the battery is fully charged and the battery caps are secured, reinstall the battery in the motorcycle. The battery should be oriented so that the positive terminal faces the rear of the motorcycle, and the negative terminal faces the front of the motorcycle. Connect the red cable to the positive terminal, and the black cable to the negative terminal. Secure the rubber retention strap around the battery, and reinstall the right body panel.
We recommend that you drain all oil from the engine, and replace it with 1.7 liters (55.4 ounces) of approved 5W-40 or 10W-40 motorcycle oil. Don’t use any oils intended for automotive applications. Those oils usually contain friction inhibitors, which will make your motorcycle’s clutch slip. We sell Maxima motorcycle oil, and if you want us to ship a couple of quarts to you, give us a call at 909 445 0900.
You should check to make sure the radiator fluid is at the proper level (it’s supposed to be even with the bottom of the radiator cap neck), and the overflow reservoir should be about half full. Add approved coolant if the radiator needs to be topped off.
Make sure you use a coolant approved for use in a high performance aluminum engine. We sell that, too (we recommend Maxima Coolanol), so give us a call if you need this item.
Install the windshield on your motorcycle. It is secured with six Allen head bolts like you see in the photos below. A cap head nut is used on the inside of the windshield for each Allen head bolt.
Fill with the fuel tank with 87 octane (or higher) gasoline.
Perform the following inspections after completing the setup procedure:
Check to confirm all fasteners are properly tightened and all components are installed correctly and in an operational state.
Swing the handlebars from side to side to make sure motion is uninhibited.
Insert the ignition key and turn it on.
Check horn function, turn signals, headlight high and low beam, brake lights for front and rear brake activation, and instrument panel readout.
Check the oil level and the tire pressure.
Check the rear wheel alignment and chain tension. These are set up from the factory, but it’s always a good idea to check these items.
Confirm the motorcycle is in neutral.
Pull the clutch in and start the motorcycle. Allow the engine to warm up.
Test ride the motorcycle to confirm everything works the way it is supposed to.