The Russ rack!

26 November 2014
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Hey, boys and girls, check out this dynamite car carrier our good buddy Russ designed and built for his CSC-250!

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Your P-51 is a serious touring machine, Russ.   We really like the way you have it equipped.   Nice job, and thanks so much for sharing this photo with us!

 

Look Ma, no chicken strips!

26 November 2014
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Watching the experts from ADVPulse and ADVMoto magazines wring out the CSC Cyclone last weekend was fun, and let me tell you, those boys know how to take a bike to its limits!  I know all of you are eager to see their reports, and so are we.

Steve put the Cyclone up on the lift today and I got a good look at the Cyclone’s rear tire.   You can usually judge how hard a bike has been pushed in the corners by the width of its chicken strips.  That’s the unused area of the tread on the sides.  Check this out, boys and girls…no chicken strips whatsoever!

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While the magazine guys were pushing the Cyclone hard into the corners, I was gingerly picking my way through the turns because I lost the rear brake on my Kawasaki KLR 650.   I guess I can use that as an excuse for being on a 650 and not being able to keep with a 250, but the fact of the matter is that the difference between rider skills and the nimble handling of the RX-3 are what really made the difference.

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You know from reading the blog that the caliper bolts on my KLR fell out, and you also know that I had to order them because none of the local dealers had any in stock.   On the way into the plant today, I stopped at a specialty bolt store and they had 6×18 socket head bolts in stock.   I bought two sizes because I wasn’t sure which one the Kawasaki needed.  They were only $0.30 each.   I had to pay almost $4 per bolt from the Kawasaki dealer who’s shipping them to me, and another $11.99 because “that’s the minimum we always charge” (typical dealer stuff; it will be interesting to see what the actual shipping charges are when they arrive).  Speaking of which, the bolts were supposed to arrive yesterday and they didn’t, which is why I stopped at the specialty bolt store.

The delinquent delivery of the Kawasaki bolts notwithstanding, this was turning out to be a good day.   I like hardware stores, and the specialty store I visited this morning was no exception.   But things got even better.   I have this Olympia motorcycle jacket in fluorescent yellow I really like.   Well, that’s not quite true.  I like the look and fit of it.  I don’t like the jacket because it started to fall apart the first time I washed it.

When I called Olympia, their help consisted of recommending I take it to a tailor.  The thing was just out of warranty and it kind of annoyed me (I have a Joe Rocket jacket that’s 12 years old and it’s still in good shape).    But I did what Olympia suggested and paid to have the thing repaired.   The next time I washed it, the jacket really fell apart.   Basically, Olympia used an inadequate edge distance when they sewed it together.  The jacket has been sitting in the back of my Subaru for some time, and when I left the bolt house, there was a tailor shop right around the corner.   The nice lady in there told me I could have it next week and it will only cost me $25.

Incidentally, that photo of me in the yellow jacket was shot by none other than Carla King, the famous motojournalist who wrote American Borders.  We were on a ride in the Sierra Nevada Mountains just outside of Tahoe a couple of years ago.   I love that photo and I love the look of that jacket.    One thing about fluorescent yellow motorcycle jackets, though…the color drives dogs nuts.   But that’s another story for another time…

Okay, back to the bolt story…there may be a reason Kawasaki gets $4 per bolt, because the smaller of the two bolts I bought this morning was too short, and the longer of the two was too long.   We learned that when we attempted to attach the KLR caliper to its mount.  Lupe grabbed the bolts that were too long and fixed that problem real fast…

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Steve and Lupe buttoned up the KLR for me, and like they say in France, oila!   Yours truly and the old KLR were back in business.   I played around in the parking lot a bit and when I pulled back into the service bay, whaddaya know, even more good news…my new Tourmaster jacket had just arrived  (unlike the Kawasaki bolts, the jacket actually did arrive the next day, just like the company we ordered it from promised).

The new Tourmaster is a near-perfect match for the KLR.   Lupe grabbed this shot of me.   I think I make the jacket look good.

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What do you think?

 

What we’ll see in Baja…

26 November 2014
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A few quick photos…what we’ll see…just to whet your appetite for the scenery and the excitement of the inaugural Cyclone Baja run…

Fish tacos at Mama Espinosa's in El Rosario

Fish tacos at Mama Espinosa’s in El Rosario

Quentin Tarantinula in the Vizcaino Desert

Quentin Tarantinula in the Vizcaino Desert

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Near a mission somewhere in Baja

Along Bahia de Concepcion, and yes, the water really looks like that!

Along Bahia de Concepcion, and yes, the water really looks like that!

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The remains of a burro who didn’t quite make it

The mission in San Ignacio

The mission in San Ignacio

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The real deal…Mr. and Mrs. Moby Dick…up close and personal!

If you don’t have a camera, that might be an accessory you should consider for this trip!

 

Changing the KLR 650′s oil….

25 November 2014
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So, last week we posted a pretty comprehensive blog on changing your CSC Cyclone’s oil.   I just found this YouTube video, which provides similar information for the KLR 650…

I know some of the folks who are researching the RX-3 might own a KLR, so I thought I would include this for your information…

 

Good stuff happening….

25 November 2014
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Whoa…I just found out I’m getting an opportunity to visit where they make parts for Harley-Davidson, Vespa, BMW, Kymco, and CSC motorcycles next month!

No, I’m not traveling to Milwaukee, Italy, Bavaria, Taiwan, and California…I’m going to Chongqing!

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Located at the intersection of the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers in western China, Chongqing is where Zongshen (manufacturer of the CSC RX-3 Cyclone) is located.  I’ve been there before, and you can bet I am very excited about my return!

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We’re finalizing the details on your motorcycles, and it is going to be a blast.   I may get a bit more seat time on the RX-3 while I am over there, and it’s always good to meet face-to-face with my friends in this little town of 30 million people.   Susie’s going with me, so this trip will be tons of fun.   We’re going to see the Three Gorges Dam while we’re there and many of the other attractions in and around this dynamic town.   I may even buy a new camera before I go (that Nikon D-810 is looking pretty good), and you can bet I’ll be posting lots of photos.   I knew I wanted to return to Zongshen and Chongqing for more photos, and that’s just what I’m doing!

JCBMore good news…we’re getting the RX-3 out in the dirt again this weekend.   It will be a fun ride.  My good buddies J, Tom, Steve and yours truly are heading up to Sheep Canyon and points west in the San Gabriels.  Looks like we’ll have at least a couple of KLRs, Tom’s big Honda thumper, and of course, the trusty (and soon to be dusty) blue Cyclone.   You’ve sort of met all of these fellows, and I’ve ridden all over Hell’s half acre with them.   They are always a hoot.   That’s J in the photo on the left (you can just see me and my hi-viz Olympia jacket reflected in J’s visor) when we rode on the Tahoe Tour a couple of years ago.   Steve, of course, is our CEO…he’s the guy who’s bringing the Cyclone to North America.   And you know Tom, too…he’s the guy we featured a few blogs down in a set of ”then and now” photos (the “then” photo reached back 55 years to show Tom with a Powell scooter; the “now” photo showed Tom with his Triumph Tiger).  Good times coming up, boys and girls…it will be a fun weekend!

WineTransitionI ordered the 6-18 rear brake caliper bolts for my KLR yesterday.   I had to call three dealers before I found a dealer that had the parts in stock, a problem you’ll never have with us on the RX-3.   That’s because we are building our inventory, and by the time your motorcycles arrive, we will have 100% of everything it takes to make an RX-3 on our shelves here in California.   We’ll keep it that way, too.  Our intent is that you’ll never have to wait for an RX-3 part.   We’ve done that on our other bikes and we’re doing the same thing with the RX-3.   So, back to the Kawasaki KLR:  I should have the caliper bolts tomorrow, and when I get them, it will be torque wrench and Loctite time.

I also ordered a new TourMaster Transition 3 riding jacket this morning.  I’ve been looking at these for a while and I really like this riding jacket.  All of my other jackets are short jackets (you know, the jacket ends at your beltline).   This one is more like a coat because the lower portions drop down further.   It’s got zillions of pockets and it fit me really well.   I wanted one in bright red or hi-viz yellow, but this jacket is so popular no one had those colors in stock, so I’m going with the wine colored one (like you see in the photo on the right).   It should be pretty and it will match the KLR.

_DSC0024-650-250All of this jacket business and the riding I’ve been doing lately has me thinking anew about what color I want my new RX-3 to be.   I was pretty sure I wanted the orange one, but I’ve been putting miles on the blue Cyclone and I’m getting to where I really like that color.   The red Cyclone is stunning, too, and it will match my new jacket.   But then again, the blue Cyclone really photographs well, and with my blog duties and all, that is important.   And I already have a blue jacket that goes well with the blue RX-3.    But the red RX-3 takes a nice picture, too.   Or I could get the hi-viz jacket when they come in and paint the RX-3 to match…I always thought a hi-viz motorcycle paint job would look great.   But is hi-viz yellow really yellow, or is it green?   I always heard that green was an unlucky color for a motorcycle, so maybe that’s out.   Or maybe I could shop around more and find a jacket that matches the orange Cyclone…

Ah, decisions, decisions…

 

Cyclone shots…

24 November 2014
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Last blog for today, folks….these are my personal favorites focused on yesterday’s CSC Cyclone adventure…

Facing the Sheep Canyon descent...

Facing the Sheep Canyon descent…

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Rob on the Cyclone…

Racing east on a graded road...

Racing east on a graded road…

Running west, kicking up dust, with I-15 way in the background...

Running west, kicking up dust, with I-15 way in the background…

On Angeles Crest Highway at about 8000 ft...it was cold up there!

On Angeles Crest Highway at about 8000 ft…it was cold up there!

Another Angeles Crest Highway shot...

Another Angeles Crest Highway shot…

One last shot in front of Newcomb's Ranch...one of So Cal's famous moto spots!

One last shot in front of Newcomb’s Ranch…one of So Cal’s famous moto spots!

Whew…I’m about out of photos…time to get out and create a few more!

 

Running with the Big Dogs…

24 November 2014
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Here are a few miscellaneous photos of the other bikes on our ADV Moto and ADV Pulse  ride yesterday…

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These guys were serious about their riding.   When we were close to Sheep Canyon Road, they pulled over to drop the air pressure in their tires to 24 psi.   The idea is that the lower pressure gives more control in the rough stuff.  I’ll confess…I’ve never tried this.   Next time.

 

Uh oh…

24 November 2014
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Great day yesterday, with the guys from ADV Moto and ADV Pulse.   They gave the CSC Cyclone a thorough eval on dirt, on the freeway, and up in the twisties along Angeles Crest Highway.   I rode my KLR 650 because we wanted the experts to ride the RX-3.

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My old KLR 650

Things were going well.   We ran a cool 28 miles on the 210 and 15 freeways (in super windy conditions) to get to Sheep Canyon Road, a very technical and steeply-downhill dirt road.    I followed the guys down the mountain on my KLR, enjoying the brisk mountain air and sunshine, and watching the CSC Cyclone lead a procession of guys on KLRs, GS 1200s, and the other bikes the magazine pros were riding.

After Sheep Canyon Road, we were back on asphalt on Lone Pine Road, a long uphill climb into Wrightwood on the northern slope of the San Gabriel Mountains.   Wrightwood is a cool little mountain village and my plan was to stop there for lunch.   On this particular portion of our ride, I was the lead dog, mostly because I knew the way to the Grizzly Café.

Funny thing happened on the way into Wrightwood.  I  tapped the KLR’s rear brake as I rolled into town, and it felt very weak (as in not there at all).   Steve and I had lubed the KLR’s chain before the group left the plant, and my first thought was that some of the chain lube had found its way onto the rear disk.   Then I realized…there was no braking at all!

When I applied the rear brake rolling into town, I thought I heard and felt something, but I didn’t realize what had actually happened…

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The KLR’s caliper zip tied to the passenger peg.

Whoa!   Or perhaps more to the point, no Whoa!  Both bolts securing the KLR’s rear caliper to the swing arm had vibrated out, and that’s what I had heard!

Wowee!  I had never seen this happen before on any motorcycle, nor had any of the five guys we rode with yesterday.   I sure didn’t have any spare bolts, and I didn’t even have any zip ties or duct tape (the 21st century equivalent of the baling wire riders of an earlier generation routinely carried).   Fortunately for me, one of the magazine photogs had some zip ties, and I secured the caliper to the rear foot peg bracket.

I always told folks I hardly ever use the rear brake, but let me tell you, when you don’t have one, it really makes a difference.   I rode the next 100 miles on my KLR (including all of the Angeles Crest Highway) with the front brake only, and it was not a relaxing experience.   I had to really concentrate on not using the rear brake.   Not a lot of fun there, folks.

I was lucky…that caliper could have just as easily fallen into the wheel and locked it up.    I’ve had my KLR for 8 years now, and I just ride the heck out of it.    I learned a few lessons from yesterday’s adventure, though…

  • Always check your bike’s nuts and bolts for presence and for tightness.
  • Always carry tools.
  • Always carry zipties.
  • Always carry duct tape.
  • Always carry a mix of spare fasteners, just in case.

It could have been a lot worse.   Like I said above, my inattentiveness could have locked up the KLR’s rear wheel.  I could have lost the rear brake on the sharp Sheep Canyon Road descent in the dirt (that would have almost certainly resulted in dropping the bike).   It could have happened on the front brake.   I’ve been riding (and writing about riding) for too long to make a bush league dumb-butt move like this.   I’m embarrassed.

I was lucky.  My message to you, my friends, is this:  Give your bike (whatever you ride) a good inspection on a regular basis.  I’m sure going to every time I go out.

 

You talkin’ to me?

24 November 2014
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A great day yesterday…we took the CSC Cyclone up in the mountains through some pretty rough dirt and we rode the length of Angeles Crest Highway, all with the crews of ADV Pulse and ADV Moto magazines.   Good times!

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More to follow, folks!

 

Canada, eh!

23 November 2014
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We’ve completed the emissions and shed testing for the US EPA and CARB, and we’re now doing the testing necessary to secure approval in Canada.   I thought I would share a few photos with you of our test bike to give you an idea of what this consists of…

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That’s Chris in the photo above, our consultant who is handling testing and collection of the data required for RX-3 approval in Canada.    Chris is a real heavyweight in the motorcycle industry, but that’s speaking figuratively.   He’s a bit lighter than what Canada sees as a standard-sized rider, and that’s why you see the barbell weights mounted on the RX-3.

There’s lots of instrumentation to collect all of the required data…here’s a look at some of the data collection devices Chris uses…

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And one last shot showing both the instrumentation and the thermocouple points mounted on the fuel tank…those are the shiny fittings drilled through and epoxied into the fuel tank.

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You can see them in front of and behind the fuel cap.   These are actually used for the US testing we just completed…we have to record the fuel temperature as the motorcycle is being tested.   And all that blue tape?   It’s there to provide a spot for Chris to make notes while he is riding.

All cool stuff.   All moving along sharply.   But that’s enough for now.   I’m going riding with two of my favorite motojournalists early tomorrow, and it’s time for me to grab some shuteye.

Like I always say…stay tuned!

 

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