Home Motorcycling

New tires

I just had new tires put on my V-Strom. At 31,700 miles total bike miles and approx. 9,000 miles on this set of Metzeler Tourance’s, they needed to be replaced. I had Yamaha Sports Plaza — in the same location as the former Action Motor Sports dealership — install a new set of Bridgestone Battle Wings, purchased from (great prices and free shipping!) I also had them flush and replace the coolant in my bike.

Review: MotoCentric Mototrek Sport Tail Bag, Tank Bag, and Side bags

I purchased a set of MotoCentric soft luggage for my 2012 GSX-R750 in August of 2012. I paid $62.99 for the tail bag, $69.29 for the magnetic tank bag, and $119.99 for the side bags from (I had a 10% discount coupon).

I’ve since put a few thousand miles on the bike, mostly commuting to work and local day rides, but recently I used them for an overnight trip (250 miles each way) to John Day, Oregon.

Up to this point I’ve been used to hard luggage, using Givi side cases and top case on my 2007 Suzuki V-Strom 650. The MotoCentric set was my first use of soft luggage. I selected them based on reviews, features, and benefit vs. cost. Before I get into the details of my review, I’ll summarize for those with short attention spans:

The MotoCentric Mototrek soft luggage system represents a solid value in soft luggage for sport bikes.

Review Details

The tank bag is used on my Gixxer all the time. Since my AGVSport leathers only have a single interior pocket, I put my garage door opener and cell phone in the tank bag. I also put spare gloves, a rag, and a few other miscellaneous items in it. The magnets are very secure and it’s nearly impossible to lift the bag straight up. You have to peal it back from front to back to remove it from the bike — that approach works easily.

The side bags take a half hour to install and adjust to the bike, but once that’s done, they go on and off in a matter of minutes. The tail bag takes even less time to adjust, install and uninstall. Once mounted, both the side bags and tail bag are rock solid, even at high speed.

I’ve not loaded the bags to capacity yet. The tail bag and side bags have zipped expansion panels that make them wider and add to their capacity. On my recent overnight trip, I was able to carry a fair bit of clothes, toiletries, an iPad, and a few other items without needing to open up the expansion panels. The additional weight in the side bags didn’t seem to affect how they hang on the bike at all. I was impressed.

The individual features and details of the MotoCentric bags show attention to detail. Although they are relatively inexpensive, they aren’t cheap in terms of features or quality. The zippers work well, fit and finish exceeds my expectations, and the materials used are high quality.

This past weekend I rode up through the Cascades to the small town of Detroit, Oregon. It was raining the first quarter of the journey so I pulled over and put the waterproof covers over the tank bag, tail bag, and side bags. The cover for the tank bag resides in a small pouch on the forward tip of the bag. The cover is permanently attached at one point on the front, then wraps around the part of the bag closest to the rider’s chest using elastic. There are no tie-downs or snaps, just elastic. While riding, the cover remained secure.

The covers for the side bags are similar to a shower cap, with an elastic band around the opening. They also feature a springy drawstring that can be cinched tight. The covers flap around in the wind when riding, but that cinch strap keeps them on the sidebags.

Unfortunately, the cover for the tail bag wasn’t as secure. It uses only elastic, no cinch cord, and when riding back toward home it came off and now has to be replaced. It’s possible I didn’t have it pulled down all the way around the tail bag, but I’m usually pretty meticulous about checking those kind of things. A cinch cord on the tail bag cover, like the one used on the side bag covers, wouldn’t cost the manufacturer much and would provide a more secure fit.

Other than losing the tail bag waterproof cover, I have no complaints about the MotoCentric soft bag products. I view them as a good value, worth more in features and quality than their cost.

Where’s Dr. Seuss on such a cold, cold, rainy day?

It’s raining. It’s Oregon. It’s November. That’s what happens in Oregon in November.

It rains.

I’m not talking namby pamby pissle drizzle. I’m talking rain.

All day long.

It’s the reason why GoreTex(tm) is the State Fabric. It’s the reason why owning a motorcycle in Oregon is a part-time job. Spring and Fall, and Summer, too = fantastic riding. Potentially some of the best three-season riding conditions in these United States of America.

But from November through February, it sucks. Here’s the current weather radar image for the area so you can see what I mean. [external link]

In the meantime, what I do while I’m stuck inside looking out the window at the gray and wet is dream of past and future rides in a state that otherwise is my favorite in the land.

Motorcycle Trip Journals

Motorcycle trip journals
Motorcycle trip journals

There’s a saying that if you didn’t write it down, it didn’t happen. I think that maxim was created by astronomers, but it’s likely someone came up with the idea long before scientists started looking at the stars.

In my case, I began carrying a journal on my first motorcycle trip back in February 2007. I took it along on a solo weekend trip to visit my sister. The inspiration for journaling my motorcycle adventures came from reading Neil Peart’s autobiography, Ghost Rider.

It’s amazing how much comes back to me when reading over my old journal entries. I can recall the scenery, people I met, places I ate, things I saw, even smells. Sometimes I can even recall the song I was listening to in my earphones as I went around a particular curve on a specific trip.

I no longer own a motorcycle and have stopped riding as a result. Although I don’t regret getting out of motorcycling, I still miss it. I get a lot of enjoyment thinking of the memories of the many roads I’ve traveled and adventures I survived.

Motorcycling isn’t for everyone, but many people enjoy various forms of travel, whether it be on foot along a local hiking trail, or via jet plane or sailing vessel to distant lands across continents or oceans. I suggest to those who do like to travel to get into the habit of journaling their adventures. A handwritten notebook is subjectively ideal. Don’t rely on just the photos you take with a cell phone. Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but a few hundred — or even a few dozen — words can convey far more than a photo viewed out of context at a later date ever could.

No longer a motorcyclist?

I just sold my 2007 Suzuki V-Strom 650. This means I no longer own a motorcycle. Does that mean I am no longer a motorcyclist?

I don’t think so. Motorcycling has been a part of my adult life since late 2006, and I’ve ridden all over the west coast of the United States and Canada. Some of my life’s fondest memories are of times spent on two wheels. That will always be a part of me.

The fact that I don’t currently have a motorcycle doesn’t mean I’m not still a motorcyclist. It’s in my blood in many ways, and definitely in my mind.

You may be wondering why I sold my bike, “The Grey Mule.” It’s a bit of a long story, but ultimately it came down to a shift in priorities. I am moving back into music and composing, which isn’t an inexpensive hobby, and I needed a way to pay for it. I also needed to shift some things around in my home to make room, and by freeing up space in the garage, it freed up space within the house for my new gear.

Stay tuned for the new musical chapter of my life.

Day Ride to Kinzua, Oregon

Bear Hollow CG, Wheeler County
Bear Hollow CG, Wheeler County, on hwy 19 south of Fossil, Oregon

I took a day ride on my 2007 Suzuki V-Strom 650 to Kinzua, Oregon (pronounced ‘kin-zoo’). Kinzua is an abandoned lumber community southeast of Fossil, Oregon. I used to hunt deer in the area with my father back in the early 1980s and wanted to go back to the area and explore around.

My intention was to ride the Kinzua Road (NF21) east from highway 19 to where it connects to highway 207. The maps and online resources said it connected and was open, and even the gas station attendant in Fossil said it was likely open. I rode east on NF21 to the location of where the community and mill site of Kinzua used to be, and spotted a small sign on the side of the road saying that access to hwy. 207 was unavailable.

No access sign, Kinzua, OR
No access to highway 207 from Kinzua, NF21, Wheeler County

I turned around and backtracked the 8 miles to highway 19, then headed south a few miles to have lunch at the Bear Hollow county campground (Wheeler County). The park was deserted, so I had it all to myself. After getting filled up with a lunch of dehydrated “breakfast skillet”, I backtracked my way westward to home.

Bear Hollow CG, Wheeler County
Bear Hollow CG, Wheeler County, on hwy 19 south of Fossil, Oregon

Just west of Shaniko and riding northwest along Bakeoven Road, I noticed wildfire smoke in the distance to the west. I had just ridden from that direction that morning, and although I could smell a bit of wildfire smoke when passing through Maupin, I only saw a bit of smoke haze to the south, near Warm Springs. This fire was new since I had just passed that way a few hours before.

As I approached along highway 216 toward the community of Pine Grove, I could see that the fire was burning very close to the road. There were no roadblocks and I there were cars coming from the west, so I assumed the road itself was still open.

S-503 fire, Oregon
S-503 fire, along highway 216 approaching Pine Grove, Sat. June 19, 2021

Just west of Pine Grove, I stopped to get a photo and some video of the fire. I couldn’t see the flames but could see how they colored the smoke a deep orange. The fire seemed to be burning about a half-mile from the highway. I continued westward uninhibited and made it home after riding 360 miles for the day.

The news labeled it the S-503 fire, and said it had ignited Friday night. It had burned 4,000 acres as of this writing and was only 2% contained. The fire incident map shows it burning to the southeast into the Warm Springs Reservation. The town of Pine Grove is on a level 3 evacuation alert. If the wind shifts and blows to the northeast, that small community would be in its direct path.

S-503 fire, south of highway 216, June 19, 2021
S-503 fire, burning a mile south of highway 216

Detroit Burned

The Cedars restaurant, Detroit, OR
Site of The Cedars restaurant, Detroit, OR

In September, 2020, a wildfire destroyed the resort town of Detroit, Oregon. Do a search for “Detroit” on my blog and you’ll see just how meaningful this town has been for me. I have ridden my motorcycles to this place more times than I can count.

The wildfire that took Detroit threatened my own home in Sandy. The boundary of mandatory evacuation orders came within a few hundred yards of my house. The smoke was so thick we almost left voluntarily just to go someplace with cleaner air. Only the risk of exposing ourselves to family members and possible transmission of COVID-19 prevented us from leaving.

Recently I traveled (by car) to Detroit to see the destruction first hand. The route I usually take along highway 224 through Estacada and Ripplebrook Ranger Station, and then Forest Service road 46 south past Breitenbush, is closed due to clean up efforts and risk of landslides. A section of highway 224 burned a few years ago after target shooters started a wildfire, and it suffered substantially more devastation during the latest conflagration. Instead, I had to drive down 211 through Molalla to Sublimity, and east on highway 22.

Reaching Detroit, I could see the evidence of just how massive the fire was. But when I stopped in the town itself and looked at the charred ground where The Cedars Restaurant and the Detroit Store once stood, I felt a deep sadness for what once was.

Detroit, OR, January 17, 2021
View of downtown Detroit, OR, January 2021, after the fire.
Detroit, OR store site
Site of Detroit, OR store, gone after fire.

In one lot where a building or home once stood, sticking up from the blackened ground was a white PVC pipe with a Trump 2020 flag attached at the top. The juxtaposition of a Trump flag in the middle of scorched earth was a profound metaphor for just how devastating his presidency was, and the profound irony of someone who refuses to acknowledge his incompetence and lies.

I am very curious to see how, or if, the town of Detroit rebounds and recovers. There is still a lot of work to be done and I saw no evidence of any new construction. Perhaps the locals haven’t returned — to what? — or have given up. Time will tell.