Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Betrayal (Precinct 11)

Copied from prior blog.

Tyndale House Publishers was kind enough to send me a reader review copy of The Betrayal (Precinct 11) by Jerry B. Jenkins. To comply with FTC blogger guidelines and disclosure, I received this book free of charge with the expectation of a review.

If the authors name sounds familiar, that’s probably because he co-authors another popular series of books called Left Behind. If I understand right, this is one of others stories in the Precinct 11 world.

The Betrayal is solely written by Jenkins. I have never read a book in the Left Behind series, nor have I read any books by Jenkins. I’m entering into his work and writing with a first time perspective.

The story this far is a detective is shot while protecting a witness. This witness is needed to “bust” a Chicago crime gang. He suspects an informant is on the inside and that’s where it starts to get interesting. Other then that, I don’t want to give out any spoilers.

The story doesn’t have an aversion to Christianity. God comes up in this book a lot. The story draws you in because you want to see what’s next. That keeps you reading. I understand there’s a Precinct 11 release before this one. I am now interested in checking it out.

Jenkins seems to be a good writer and storyteller. Once this book gets going, it’s hard to put it down. If it wasn’t for my lack of time and busy schedule, I would have easily finished it sooner. If you like police, detective or crime mysteries, you may want to check out this book.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Winter Motorcycle Agenda

Copied from prior blog.

I'm usually an all season rider. This winter is being extremely harsh. We just had one of the coldest days we've had in three years. Without being able to even occasionally ride, I've decided to catch up on maintenance. I've also decided to treat myself to some new accessories. This way my bike will be ready to go for spring. My to-do list has been (some of it is already done):
  • Oil Change
  • Scheduled Service Check
  • Battery Health (just had to replace)
  • New Accessories
  • Setting up with a quality smart charger
  • Check tire health
You don't have to forget about your bike during the cold. I don't. If you give your bike attention during the winter months, your bikes health will be exponentially increased. If you do need to let it set for awhile, here's what I would do.
  • Setup your battery with a smart charger.
  • Store your bike in a somewhat heated garage. (At least out of the weather)
  • Drain the gas tank. (or at least use no ethanol fuel for storage, and/or pour in a quality marine grade fuel treatment.)
  • Every 3-4 weeks move your bike. (So the tires don't develop bad spots)
  • I also might occasionally start it and let it idle for awhile to full operating temperature. (fyi, some bike won't charge the battery with this kind of idling)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Victory Cross Roads and the Kingpin

Copied from prior blog.

This weekend I participated in Victory Motorcycle's Go Break Boundaries test ride. I road a Cross Roads and a Kingpin. I had prior test road and reviewed a Victory Kingpin here.

The Cross Roads

My first ride was a Cross Roads. I was attracted to this motorcycle because of the storage options. The luggage carrying capacity of this bike is huge as you can see from the photo.

My first riding impressions was a bit baffling at first. Counter steering in turns didn't immediately come natural. The handlebars were set back and that felt odd at first.

The problem was I think, I was in town and unfamiliar with this bike. This bike is best meant for the open road and long distance riding. The set back handle bars would be more comfortable on a long distance haul. Due to the set back feel of the handlebars and the size of this bike, be prepared to spend a little riding time getting used to the unique feel.

The engine power was excellent. The storage/luggage options versus other bikes is uncontested. The stock seating comfort was more than acceptable. For a long distance trip, this bike, a Cross Country or a Cross Country Tour would be a great choice.

The Kingpin (again)

If long distance riding is only an occasional happening, then look to the Kingpin. This is a "bridge" bike. What I mean by bridge is, it's good enough around town, and good enough for a long distance ride. In fact this thing is a hellion in twistys, and it had floor boards!

Everyone who got off this bike after the test ride, got off with a big smile. This bike has fair to good luggage options, but no where near what the Victory "Cross" series offers. The power is excellent. Accelerating on the freeway without a windscreen felt like I was going to fly off the bike. The gas mileage is pretty good. I think it's 40+ highway.

Would I like to own both bikes? Yes. At this time, I prefer the Kingpin. If I was going to do a lot of long distance riding, then one of the "Cross" series bikes would be what I would want.

I haven't test road a Vegas. Hopefully I'll get to do that soon on there next trip out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Delmore Schwartz

I've always been captured by this line from Delmore Schwartz.
"Time is the fire in which we burn"

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Victory Kingpin and the Triumph Thunderbird

Copied from prior blog.

This summer I test road a Victory Kingpin. On the same day I test road a new Triumph Thunderbird. So how did Victory's gangsta bike compare to Triumph's bad bird? Rather than spending time with specs, here's how the rides felt.

Victory Kingpin

I road the Kingpin in the morning first. This was my first ride on a large V-Twin engine. The stock exhaust sound was nice. The dash lights and gauges are the easiest to see and use on any current cruiser bike. The throttle felt smooth. The engine responded just how I commanded it and I was unfamiliar with this bike.

The Kingpin chewed up the corners and curves with much more aggression and ease than my current bike. This bike was almost saying "give me more," "give me bigger challenges." The braking power was excellent. The Kingpin felt more planted to the ground than other motorcycles. Is this how all Victory's feel?

Triumph Thunderbird 1700

I climbed aboard Triumph's big Parallel Twin Thunderbird that same afternoon. This bike took some getting used to. It's exhaust sound is quiet. I noticed it didn't have immediate response in corners. That was probably due to the bigger front tire. You get used to it. Like a traditional cruiser, the dash lights and gauges are on the fuel tank. This causes you to break from the most talked about rule in basic motorcycle training. To view them you have to take your eyes slightly off the road.

The big parallel twin responded how I wanted from the very smooth throttle. The Thunderbird doesn't have the Kingpin's feel of aggression, but the bike rides so soft that you wonder if your up to speed. Don't get tricked by this bike. Briefly taking your eyes off the road to look at the speedometer, I saw I was almost at 80 m.p.h. in a 60 zone. The braking felt spectacular, and just in time.


An American versus a British take on the cruiser bike couldn't be more different. The one oddity is I ended up on bikes practically the same color. Now comes the hardest part. Which one did I like better? Well, I guess it depends. To say one bike took the other down wouldn't be correct. Unfamiliar with both bikes, I was able to take off on the Victory and shortly it felt like the bike was already an extension of me. With that, the easy viewing controls and being the easiest cornering cruiser I have ridden to date, says to me Polaris Victory has put a lot into its usability.

The Thunderbird took some getting used to, however I felt the Thunderbird's braking ability gave me a greater feeling of confidence. The clutch lever on the T-Bird felt easier. It's balance feels easy for being such a heavy bike. Heavy is probably what makes this bike such a smooth highway ride. This cruiser takes a pass on a gangsta look. I like that.

While I would use words like "power" and "aggressive" to describe the Kingpin, "art" and "finesse" come to mind for the Thunderbird. Where the Kingpin shines is in the corners. This is where I was pulled towards this bike. Where the Thunderbird shines is on a busy freeway and also in stop and go traffic. This is where the Thunderbird's finesse and breaking ability pull me towards this bike. Both are an easy speeding ticket.

Which one do I recommend? Both. I love them both.

Additional side points:
  • Victory's cruiser luggage is better than Triumph's. There's no debate here.
  • Triumph has more dealers (in the USA) to support you than Victory, but that may change soon.
  • Need a Triumph part from the United Kingdom? Be prepared to wait.
  • Need a Victory part from the United States? First, you have to find a dealer.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Riding in the Rain Clinic

I attended a free "Ride in the Rain" clinic. It was sponsored by Eagle Leather, Washington Motorcycle Safety Training, and Puget Sound Safety. The purpose was safety when traveling in less than optimal conditions. I have to say that I'm reassessing my skills. I don't want to ever be at a point where I stop wanting to learn.

I consider myself an all season rider. The conditions I don’t like to ride in are down pouring rain (if I can help it), extreme cold, ice and snow. I know some may claim that you aren’t a "real motorcyclist" if you don’t ride in unsafe conditions. Personally, if your uncomfortable in certain conditions, don’t ride in them! I sure don’t, but getting caught in the rain is going to happen.

We covered proper braking, common braking errors, proper lean angles, ABS brakes and group riding. I know the real purpose for Eagle Leather (in Lakewood, WA) sponsoring this is to sell gear. I have to give credit where credit is due, they are the best motorcycle gear store I have experienced for fitting gear. They are one of my go-to recommendations for helmet fitting. They're one of the rare stores that have a staff that can actually fit you a helmet!

While the clinic was free, Eagle Leather deserves our patronage. If you live in the Puget Sound area, their stores are found Lakewood and Auburn.

Lakewood Location: 10222 South Tacoma Way Lakewood, WA 98499

Auburn Location: 1407 Auburn Way So. Auburn, WA 98002

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Spring 2011 Ride & Ghost Towns

Copied from prior blog.

April 17th was the first reprieve from the cold and rain the northwest brings. I took a ride on my motorcycle through an area that once was the town of Tono, Washington. Tono was an old Washington State mining town.

Today it’s listed as a ghost town. There’s not much left. This house may not have even been part of the original town, but its on the outskirts.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Motorcycle Safety Training

I must confess I’m disappointed with motorcycle safety training. I now understand why some riders never take a training class. I understand why some disparage training. A longtime bona-fide rider should be excellent with danger management and technical precision. With that said, I’m stunned with behavior I find in supposedly professional "experts".

Every year I tried to fit in one training class, but some of the trainers the US Motorcycle Safety Foundation is sanctioning are not very good. Nothing is perfect but with all the training happening along with, better bikes, better gear, the accident stats aren’t improving.

I believe training can be better, or more accurately the trainers. In the years I’ve been attending training classes I’ve experienced the following personally or witnessed it happen.

The brand of bike

Making disparaging remarks towards the motorcycle a student road to class, needs to go. Cornering a student and asking, “So, what made you buy foreign?” “Um…I got a good deal on a used first bike?” The response… “I’m a proud union man, and it’s why I ride American.”

The gear

Stopping class to make remarks about a student’s gear; with taunts like “I’m a true American” as a reason to not buy foreign gear. It’s especially puzzling when the instructor rode a Honda to class. Most all gear today is made in China or somewhere close.

The "not in my club" attack

There's all different kinds of riders. There are commuters, thrill seekers, and long distance travelers, etc. I’d place my rider type in the “commuter” category. I’m not into being gansta. An instructor giving favoritism to fellow tough guys or ex-military should go. Sending a person out with an endorsement and the overconfidence that his “brother” helped him pass may put that rider in danger. Especially if they're a new rider.

Anger issues

Visible anger issues with the instructor when a student makes a mistake are not healthy for the class. Instructors asking for post class feedback and training improvements should be charitable with feedback. When an instructor hears something they don't like or agree with, they corner and verbally attacks the student after class. That should go to.

Weird gesturing

Don't do odd and strange out of the norm gestures out on a training range. When an inquiring student asks what’s going on, now were onto the next phase (insert instructor anger issue here) where the student was expected to be a mind reader.

Name calling

Calling students stupid, numskull, etc. creates resistance and builds learning barriers. This isn't a boot camp. Calling competing instructors from other schools incompetent f*cks or other like names is childish.

To you professional "experts" who I looked up to, you ruined my confidence...thanks. I’m done with financially subsidizing this kind of behavior.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Oil Change Saturn Car

Two things that I do whether its a bike or a car; before I drain the oil, I make sure I have both the drain bolt AND the filter loose before I drain anything. That way, if one or the other won't come loose, and you have to take it in for service, its just a matter of tightening one thing up and no oil has been drained.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Under and Alone: The True Story of the Undercover Agent Who Infiltrated America's Most Violent Outlaw Motorcycle Gang

So I've read another biker book. Under and Alone: The True Story of the Undercover Agent Who Infiltrated America's Most Violent Outlaw Motorcycle Gang. According to the book, it was written by the law enforcement agent who performed the undercover work.

The focus of the investigation is the Mongols Motorcycle Club. They are mostly a California group. Like all clubs, I’m going to stay out of the debate whether they are just a club or something else.

William Queen an ATF agent, then known as Billy St. John, joins the club and becomes a full time member. He even rises to a chapter vice-president. The thrilling parts of the book is the ride through subterfuge, deception and avoiding woopies that almost expose him in his ride to a full-patch member.

The evidence gathering was enormous and before the tech world that we know now; iPhones, drones, National Security Agency info gathering, etc. Towards the end Queen as Billy, appears to have developed a close relationship with his "brothers." It feels like it’s hard for him to take them down. ATF and other law enforcement agencies descend on that fateful day and gather up more than 50 members on multiple charges.

I don't know why, I couldn't put this down.