Monday, June 21, 2010

First Day of Summer, North Bend

I've mentioned that we had an unseasonably warm and sunny winter, but spring has been the opposite, with cold and rain the norm. This trend continues into summer - here are some pictures from my walk today in town:
As you can see, no summer weather today, with the fog and clouds hanging low on the flanks of Mt. Si:

Just up the street, the local movie theater is showing free movies during the summer and is in the World Cup spirit:

These local residents immediately got out of their plastic igloo as I walked by:

One of the local landmarks, North Bend Community Church, was built in 1897 and still has services for the faithful:

While originally residential, parts of North Bend have now converted to a commercial/residential mix, such as this building (being occupied by a professional services company, possibly a design firm):

And right across the street, you might be able to tell that this is the main office of a high-end home builder:
The main street of downtown North Bend has been undergoing a revitalization - Boxley's is a fantastic restaurant that offers nightly jazz, and is a great supporter of the community. My daughter's Jazz Choir has sung here a couple of times:
I think the goats are OK with this first day of summer:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Look What Followed Me Home

I am now the proud owner of a bike that's been on my wish list for some time - a 1987 Honda Super Magna.

She has just under 7500 miles, and is in real nice condition for a 23 year old bike. I worked with a local restorer to get this bike - he has done the mechanical work necessary to get her up and running so it's now in great mechanical condition. She needs a bit of prettying up, but looks great as is. Everything is there, and stock.

I love the 80's power cruisers, such as the Magnas, VMax and Eliminator, and the Super Magna is special since this particular design was only made for two years - 1987 and 1988.

Here are some specifications on this bike:

In 1987, the US model's 700 cc engine produced 80 bhp (60 kW) @ 9500 rpm, with torque being 46 ft lbs (62 N·m) @ 7500 rpm

Wet weight: 529lbs
Engine: dohc 4-valve 90-degree V-four
Displacement: 700cc
Transmission: 6-speed
Seat height: 27.8 in.
Final Drive: Shaft
Cooling: Liquid
Brakes: Single Disc-Front, Drum-Back

Friday, June 4, 2010

1982 Honda C70 Passport Restoration

My son and I have started restoring my Honda Passport. Maybe "restoration" is giving us too much credit - we'll see when this long process is complete whether the bike qualifies as a restoration.

Our plan is to take the bike down to its frame, and either have it powdercoated or painted professionally, or we will do the painting. The wheels are pretty rusted, so we will have to determine whether they can be salvaged or replaced. We will replace other parts as necessary, and try to clean/refurbish those parts that we can. Luckily for us, while the Passport is no longer sold in the US, it is still sold in the rest of the world so parts are available from Honda, on Ebay or via other online sources.

Since my son and I have no experience in restoring a motorcycle, this will be an interesting project for both of us. We will certainly learn alot along the way.
We will also learn more about each other - will I turn into Paul Sr. of America Chopper, and throw tools around when deadlines aren't met? I will keep you posted on our progress.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Let it Shine

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I have begun the process of increasing the chances that I will be seen on the road, or "conpiscuity" as some call it. I will admit, I should probably consider wearing something other than my black leather jacket or black helmet, since that tends to blend in - for that matter I probably shouldn't even have a black bike. But that being what it is, my goal is to make me and my bike as noticeable as possible, and I have decided to do that with some extra lighting.

On the rear, I have replaced the stock brake light with Kisan's Tailblazer. Here is the link to their site - This turns your brake light into a modulating light; when you apply the brake, your brake light blinks for about 4 seconds until it becomes a steady on. I've looked in my mirror to see if this works, and it does seem to me that drivers respond to the modulating light. I've heard tragic stories of riders being rear ended, so anything I can do to help myself in this area is worth the $70 cost of the Tailblazer. The best thing about the model I got is that it is "plug and play" - I simply replaced my existing bulb with the Tailblazer.

In front, I have been vacillating as to the best solution. One possibility that I considered was to add the Triumph light bar, which adds two 35watt spotlights, but I wasn't sure if I liked the look, plus it's a $300 item (not including shipping and installation). Aftermarket lightbars were available, but some had fitment issues, and again, looks were of a concern to me.

I ended up with this solution:

These are Silver Bullet Lights from Kuryakyn. Further information on these lights can be found here - I have the small Silver Bullets, which are 20watts a piece. I got these off eBay from Custom Dynamics for about $80 with shipping. Kuryakyn also sells a wiring kit which I bought as well and which I thought would make the install easy. But an electrician I am not, so after cutting a few wires, blowing the headlamp bulb, and still not getting the lights to work, I took everything down to my dealer, paid $150 and had them installed very professionally in two hours. To me, this gives me added light, and looks like it came with the bike.

I really like both of these modifications to my Triumph, and I think they will help me to be more noticeable out on the road. So, if you see my, wave!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

2009 Triumph Bonneville America - 3500 Mile Report

Actually, a little over 3500 miles. With the mild weather I have been able to get more riding time than I could have imagined. I thought it would be a good time to post my observations on my Triumph Bonneville America.

Maintenance Required - None really. The only services I have brought the bike in for was its 600 mile oil change and check up, and another oil change at 3000 miles. The bike has not left me stranded, and has performed flawlessly. More on performance below.

Performance - I continue to be amazed at how this bike performs. I know this is very subjective, but it does seem that the bike's acceleration has improved as the engine has broken in. Throttle response is excellent, and the torque is always satisfying to me. At about 70 mph, the bike is running at around 3800 rpm. While the big cruisers will drop into the high 2k or low 3k with a 6th gear, the America never feels buzzy for me at highway speeds. Triumph's 865cc parallel twin is a proven engine and can stand up to all sorts of driving requirements.

Handling - Triumph's are known for their handling, and the America does not disappoint. It is truly enjoyable to ride the twisties on this cruiser. It's not a sport bike, but for a cruiser this bike takes curves with a lot of grace. Also, since it's not as heavy as the big cruisers, the America is easy to take around town and to park.

Gas Mileage - I get from the low to mid 40's on the America, with a mix of street and freeway riding.

Looks - OK, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but I still think this bike is stunning. I get a lot of compliments on the bike, and a lot of "when I was young I had a Triumph" comments. The America is a great conversation starter.

Overall - If you want a bike that can do a lot of things very well - an in-town bike, a long-distance cruiser, something to take on the country backroads, or mountain curves, I recommend the Bonneville America. I have found the bike great for all of these, and it does it at a relatively inexpensive price (around $8700).

I have lightly modded the bike, mostly cosmetic in nature. When I bought the America, I had it "stage one'd" which included the long Triumph Off-Road Silencers (Triumph-speak for pipes), and a better breathing airfilter. That's the only thing I have done performance-wise (and it improved the bike's rumble as well). I have the Triumph Roadster Windshield, Triumph Engine Dresser Bars (Triumph-speak for engine guards). I have a set of bags for which I purchased EZ Brackets (I haven't installed these since I really like the "naked" look of this bike). I removed the pillion and replaced that with a chrome fender bib, and have added a tool bag up front.

I have been considering a light bar for additional light and conspicuousness on the road, but have instead ordered a set of Kuryakin Silver Bullet Halogen Lights to install on my forks for this purpose. I installed a Kisan Tailblazer modulating tail light - I have noticed almost immediately the improvement in drivers seeing my back end with this product - more on this in a future post.

The America is a keeper as far as I am concerned - I may include other bikes in the garage, but they will be in addition to, not as a replacement for, this bike.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

3000 Mile Service and Issaquah, Washington

I am approaching 3000 miles on the Triumph, and it was suggested by my dealer when I purchased the bike that I bring it in for an oil change at that interval, even though the manual technically doesn't call for any service until 6000 miles. I also wanted to have them check a bit of an intermittent squeak from the front brake area when I pushed the bike forward in the garage when parking it. So, last Saturday morning I brought my bike to I-90 Motorsports in Issaquah.

In this age of $19.95 oil changes for cars, it came as a surprise to me the cost of an oil service for my bike. All the Triumph dealers in the area charge about $130 for the service. I even called a local auto mechanic in North Bend who works on bikes in his spare time, and it looked like it would be near $100. A part of the cost is the synthetic oil and filter, but I still haven't really accepted the premium charge for this service. I think next time I will do this myself.
I was told the service would take about an hour, so I took the opportunity to walk around Issaquah with my camera. Right next to I-90 Motorsports is a drive-in restaurant that serves up burgers 1950's style, with a lot of music and motorsports paraphernalia. They also host a number of vintage car shows in their parking lot throughout the summer. I am not sure if this Buddy Holly Tour bus is a replica or the real thing, but it looks pretty cool, and is from the year of my birth:

Along Front Street stands a vintage Shell station - for many years this structure was very run down, but someone has renovated it quite nicely:

The Issaquah Creek meanders throughout town, and has been the source of some pretty significant flooding over the years, but today the creek looks quite tame:

I call this "getting your ducks in a row":

Other buildings have been renovated, and some public art has been added along Front Street:

I stop at a drive through espresso stand to have some coffee, right across from the Darigold milk processing plant, where a beautiful mural has been painted paying tribute to the early dairy industry:

By the time I get back, my Triumph is ready, with new oil but they couldn't replicate the squeak issue. However, they cleaned the brake pads for good measure. I always feel good after an oil change for any of our vehicles - it's probably just psychological, but it seems that the bike is running smoother. I guess it should for $130.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Duvall, Washington

Last weekend, with continuing sunny weather, I took the Triumph out for a ride to Duvall. Duvall is about 30 miles NW of North Bend, in the Snoqualmie Valley. For those of you who read my post on Carnation, Duvall is the next town north along SR203.

As far as history of this town, Duvall was formally established in 1913, but was historically the home of the Snoqualmie and other ancestral Tulalip tribes. The area was homesteaded in the 1870's by James and Francis Duvall. The area was also known by the names Cherry Valley and Cosgrove (this name from the 6th Governor of our state who was able to serve but one day due to health reasons). Logging and the railroad provided early prosperity to the town, and now beautiful scenery, small-town charm and antique/gift shops continue to provide a reason to stop.

Controversy remains, in my mind only, on the proper pronunciation of the town's name - is it "DuVALL" as in Robert, or DUvall??? I stand in the former camp, although the town's website insists it's the latter.

I stopped at the local espresso shop on the main road, enjoying a cup of coffee and watching the other riders pass through or stop. A couple of HD riders (one with a trike) went to the local BBQ place, and I had a conversation with a couple of sportbike riders. one of them a Ducati rider from Europe, who had some nice things to say about my bike. We all had nice things to say about the riding weather for the day.
I like a BBQ place with attitude:
In between the two Harley's:

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Grass Usually Isn't Greener

Today I rode into work. A bit cold in the morning, and very windy along the I-90 corridor, but it was nice to commute into Seattle on the Triumph. Rain was forecast for the afternoon, but for the most part I was dry on the return trip.

On the way home, I decided to stop in at I-90 Motorsports. This is the place where I bought my Bonneville America. I like this shop - it's pretty low key there, the sales guys are helpful even if you are not buying a bike that day, and they have a nice stock of Triumphs, Hondas, and V-Stars/Yamahas in addition to selling ATV's and personal watercraft.

Why did I stop there? I think it's always cool to look at bikes, sit on them, see how they feel. Maybe there's a bike here that I will say to myself "I should have gotten this one" instead of my Bonneville America.

In one of the recesses of my mind, I think about having a full-fledged bagger; I like the idea of a long distance cruiser, with a lot of comfort, torque, low rpms, and storage to spare. How about rolling into Sturgis on one of these, the Triumph Rocket III?

This bike is the king of displacement - 2300 cc, and fully set up for long distance cruising. The Rocket III is a beautiful bike. Could it replace my Bonneville America? Well, I got on it, and found it to be massive! I am short of leg, and while the seat height is rather low, due to the width of the 3 cylinder engine on this bike I end up on the balls of my feet when I straddle it. Because of the sheer weight of this bike I think it needs a longer-legged rider than me to keep this one stable at stops and low-speed maneuvers.

Next up was the V-Star 1300 - another very nice bike, in a trim that is ready for some long excursions on the interstate:

Unlike the Rocket III, I had less of a problem straddling the V-Star. The bike certainly has ample power, and I have heard much about the quality of the Stars. Maybe I should trade in my Triumph for this bike? Actually, though, if anything I felt a little big on this bike. I seemed to be seated right over the tank, and positioned almost over the handlebars. Also, I had a problem catching my leg on the pillion back rest - I guess I should stretch more often. In any event, this was not as comfortable as I would have hoped.

How about I get some tattoos, some well-placed piercings, change my name to Spike and join the chopper set? It could happen on this Honda Fury:

Of the three, the Fury was the most comfortable. The bike is not as wide as the others, so it was very easy for me to throw a leg over this one. Once seated, the ergonomics of this bike proved to me that Honda really thought this one through, and I have experienced first hand the legendary quality of Honda. I could be the bad boy I have always dreamed of with the Fury, so should this bad boy in waiting trade his America in? Unfortunately, while the Honda looks like the real deal, it does have a lot of plastic on it. Also, even though it's powered by a 1300cc engine, some reports show it generates just 56hp stock. That's less than my America (due to the upgraded pipes and Stage 1 treatment).
I left the shop, got on my America, and basked in the comfort of this bike as I waited for the engine to warm up a bit. My feet reach the ground comfortably, the seat has formed nicely to me, I really like the forward controls, and the handlebars offer a natural reach. For me, this bike just fits right. As I merged back onto I-90, I was reminded once again of the incredible torque band of this bike; not break neck, but enough to make me smile. It's got more than enough power for me, and plenty to spare. While that Fury or a full-dress bagger may make its way into my garage someday, I really can't see them as replacing this bike.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Accessorize, Accessorize, then off to Hobart and Mrs. Freshley's

Martin Luther King Day brought some surprisingly beautiful weather to North Bend. Despite the forecast of rain, the sun was peaking through the clouds, so I got on the Triumph. But first, it was time to accessorize my bike. I bought from another member of the Bonneville America forum ( a fender bib in a chromed flame design, since I recently converted the Triumph to a solo ride. From E-bay I got this nice leather tool bag that is Triumph-embossed.

I really like these - the bib gives a nice look to the rear fender, and the tool bag can hold my wallet, cell-phone, camera, and yes, some tools.

With the installation of these items complete, I decided to ride to Hobart this morning. Hobart is a rural community about 20 miles from North Bend. It's quite a small town, with a population of around 6,700. The residents are spread out on 18 square miles.

To get there, I travel south on Highway 18, over Tiger Mountain (elevation 1,375 feet at the pass), and then east on the Issaquah-Hobart Road. The Issaquah-Hobart Road is perfect for cruising, with speed limits varying between 40-50 mph, and some nice, lazy curves.
I stop by the local ballfield to take a couple of pictures:

The main store in the area is the Hobart Market, which is a small place with a gas station, video rentals, and basic food provisions. The Market also houses the town Post Office, which was established in 1903. Being the only market around, it served as a meeting place for many of the residents. Everyone seemed to know each other, as they were called by name by the lady clerk of the store; me, I was just called "honey." One of the shoppers stopped to talk with me about my Triumph, recalling the times when he and his Dad owned Triumph and Jaguar automobiles.

I didn't have to use the restroom while there, but if I needed to I know where to find it!

I got some coffee and snacks, saving these sprinkled cupcakes for my wife - I had never seen this brand before - we will have to see if Mrs. Freshley is the baker her name promises!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Jobs I am Not Qualified For

There are probably a few, but one job I know that I am definitely not qualified for is a barber. This morning, I decided to give myself a haircut. I don't have a lot of hair, and thus styling options, so it doesn't make sense to pay a barber $15 for what I can do in 2 minutes.

As you can see, I should have had my wife inspect my coiffure before I left the house. Luckily, I was wearing a hat when I was on the bus. When I got into the office, our Administrative Assistant informed me of the ill-placed stripe down one side of my head. One kind colleague said it looked like I had planned it. Another thought it looked like the time they didn't overlap their wheels when mowing the lawn.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year, New Look

Today was my first ride of 2010. I don't think I will winterize the Triumph; instead, I will make an effort to get out as much as is practical (and safe) during the winter months, or at least start the bike up regularly. The weather service here forecasts a 1 1/2 day window of clear weather before the rains kick in again - Wednesday afternoon and all day Thursday are expected to be dry and partly sunny. So, I made arrangements at the office to take this afternoon and tomorrow off.

I've lately been considering changing the look of the Triumph. I don't really use the pillion (rear) seat, since my wife is neither a rider nor a passenger. Plus, I like the solo look - it gives off the "bad boy" image that I exude, and tells the world "no passengers allowed" on this ride! Seriously, I do like the look of bikes with solo seats, such as the Harley 1200cc Nightster (a bike I almost purchased) and bikes from the "bobber" genre.

Above, a very cool looking Harley Nightster. Below, Triumphs lend themselves nicely to the bobber look (both photos from the internet):

Going solo on the Bonneville America is quite easy - all I did was remove one bolt in the back, pushed the pillion forward and up and it was off. I can buy finisher bolts that are a bit more classy than the existing bolt for the seat, or even add a small rack or fender bib:

Above photos from
The great thing is that I can convert back to 2 up riding quickly by just bolting the pillion back on. As you have probably noticed, I can't change the style of my hair, but at least I can change the style of my motorcycle.

I will be finally installing some saddlebags (I will report on this soon in a future post), so I will have to see how the bags work with the new look.

I decided to ride into town and see if the new seating arrangement is comfortable, and it is, although I can tell I used the pillion as a mini backrest to plant my backside. But I do like the new look!