Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Preston, Washington

With the added power of my Bonneville America, and the favorable summer weather, I continue to commute regularly into my office in Seattle. My daughter is fine with this, as this means she gets the Honda Element for her extremely busy social schedule ever since she received her drivers licence.

It's a 35 mile trip each way, and can take me anywhere from 45 minutes to a little over an hour, depending on my route, and whether I stop for coffee, as in the picture below.

My usual morning route is to go through the Snoqualmie Valley, through North Bend, Snoqualmie, Fall City, Preston, and then onto I-90 for the rest of the trip into downtown Seattle. Preston is an interesting town - it was an old logging town, named after railway official William T. Preston. The Raging River runs through Preston and feeds into the Snoqualmie River at Fall City. As you can see below, there is truth in the name of this river - this was taken during the flood of 2007:

But in summer the river is calm, and meanders through Preston as it makes its way to Fall City. Once I reach Preston, my ride takes me past the community center (at the top of my post) and along a road running parallel to I-90, passing an industrial park, a strip mall with a gas station and some eateries, and some modest rural homes. One of the home sites has a barn that has definitely seen better days:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bonneville America - Initial Riding Impressions

I've had my BA for about a week, and I am approaching the end of the break-in period (500 miles). Tomorrow I will bring her in for her 500 mile service. I've been able to put some good miles on the bike - the weather in the Seattle area has been mostly sunny (except for a mist today), and I have been commuting into the office all week, which is around 70 miles round trip.

(parked in my office building, with her stable mate)

Some initial impressions:

1) Power - It's great having the extra power vs. my GV250. The torque of the BA is impressive for a bike of this size. And the power to maintain highway speeds + more in the back pocket is good to help me stay out of harm's way on the freeway.

2) Sound - The aural experience is impressive. The stock pipes on the BA were nice but a little quiet, so I upgraded to the louder Triumph pipes, and the sound has a nice rumble to it, without being obnoxious.

3) Handling - This quality of Triumph bikes is well-known, and the handling on the BA belies the fact that it is a cruiser. It's no sport bike, but for a mid-size cruiser, it is very good.

4) Comfort - The seat is pretty comfortable for a stock seat. I had to have my GV250 seat worked on to add a gel insert to alleviate the pressure on my tailbone area. I don't think I will have to do this with the BA seat, although it wouldn't hurt (no pun intended), especially for longer rides.

5) Beauty - I think she has ton's of it! Up till now, I've been a "classic" cruiser fan, represented by bikes with heavily valanced, retro looking fenders, but recently started to like the more "custom" look, which the America falls into.

Now, some little oddities:

1) The forward controls took a bit to get used to for me - I am short in the legs, so at first I thought they would be too forward, but actually they are quite comfortable now.

2) The kickstand, like the controls, is placed more forward than on other bikes. I have to stretch a little to get at it, and luckily there's a tab on the kickstand which helps my boot to catch it when putting it up (putting it down is no problem). I think for someone shorter in the leg than me (I'm 5'8" with a 29" inseam), it could be a problem, although I have heard of shorter people being able to get at the kickstand. I had issues with the HD kickstands as well, so it could be my bodily configuration.

3) Fueling - this has been a challenge for me. The GV250 has a fairly large opening for the tank, and I could usually tell when I was getting close to the top of the tank. The BA's opening is smaller, so it's hard to tell how full the bike is, plus depending on the pump nozzle I tend to get more spray on this tank. The pumps with the vapor sleeve nozzles present the most difficulty for me. The older style of pump is no problem, especially if I fill slowly.

4) Tachometer - I think I have a faulty one. The BA doesn't come with a tach standard, but there is a space on the tank console to place either a clock or tach. I like having a tach, which I have on my GV250, so I had the dealer install this. One day, however, I seemed to be showing much higher rpm's than the sound of the engine would dictate. When I turned off the engine, it stayed at 2000 rpm instead of zero. Luckily for me, this issue in known in the Triumph forum, with an easy fix until I replace it tomorrow.

My overall impression is that this is a fantastic bike, and I am glad I made the decision to get some British iron!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Triumph Bonneville America

My Hyosung GV250 has introduced me to a wonderful world of freedom, and great friends (in cyberspace and on the road), and I made the next step in that journey. I picked up my 2009 Triumph Bonneville America today. For some time, I have been browsing for that "next" bike, and got real close to getting a Harley (either a 1200 Sportster or a Dyna (the latter being a bit too expensive for me at this time) ). There's a place close by to my house where I have bought parts/accessories, and they sell Triumph, Honda and Yamaha. I decided to give this dealership a shot at my business, and really felt comfortable there.

I test rode the Bonneville America, and that's all she wrote. Triumph was offering great deals (priced under list, and $1000 of accessories thrown in) plus financing was very attractive. So I decided to get her.
Some specs about the Bonneville America:

Engine Type - Air-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin, 270 degree firing interval
Capacity - 865cc
Fuel System - Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection with SAI
Final Drive - X ring chain
Clutch - Wet, multi-plate
Gearbox - 5-speed
Front Brakes - Single 310mm disc, 2 piston calipers
Rear Brakes - Single 285mm disc, 2 piston caliper
Dimensions - Length 95.2 in Width (Handlebars) 37.8 in Height 46.1 in
Seat Height - 28.3 in
Wheelbase - 65.2 in
Weight (Dry) - 497 lbs
Fuel Tank Capacity - 5.1 Gallons
Performance (Measured at crankshaft to DIN 70020)
Maximum Power - 54bhp at 6,750 rpm
Maximum Torque - 51ft.lbf at 4,800 rpm
She's a beauty, feels very stable at speed, and I can actually keep up with traffic, with power to get out of the way if needed. I like the fact that she is alternative, being the only cruiser out there with a parallel twin engine, instead of the usual V-twin.
Now, a decision has to be made - can I keep my GV250? I may need the funds to help pay down the loan for the Bonneville. If I could keep her, I will, and may end up bobbing her. Decisions, decisions.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


I went into the dentist on Friday to get a tooth pulled. So for Friday and today I was told to keep to soft foods, which luckily included milkshakes. With today being another warm day, I took the Elite out for a ride into town, and pulled into the local shake shack, Scott's Dairy Freeze.

The Dairy Freeze is well-known among the locals and out of towners. They have great burgers and do a wide variety of ice cream desserts. What's also very cool about this place is that it's owned by the Mayor of North Bend (his name is not Scott - that was the original owner), so you will often see him flipping burgers. He's a great guy and does a fine job of running the town.

After my chocolate-banana shake, I set off for a ride around the valley, and came upon this small herd of elk grazing. Sorry, I just have a point and shoot so I couldn't zoom in, but if you click on the picture you'll get a larger image.

A nice picture of Mt. Si, in the early evening: