Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Ride to a Covered Bridge

West Montrose Covered Bridge

Back in the mid-sixties, I was the navigator in a car entered in the annual car rally hosted by the Engineering Society at the University of Waterloo. I did not have a car at the time, so I was pretty ignorant of the roads and points of interest around Waterloo. The route took us over this covered bridge...

My Bike Joined by Another Pair

More History is on the Web

Bridge used by Menonite Farmers

Something for Scooterpie

Dar has been in Ontario recently, as any visitor to her blog knows (see on the right for a link to her blog). We have not been able to meet, but I did see something that reminded me of her:

A Rural Bakery

Turned out the raisin tart was tasty. Not like Mum's used to be, she used Black Currants, but it was very good.

Wow, Never Saw Pumkins like This!

Unusual Shapes & Colours

And This Caught My Eye

Very appropriate as we approach our Canadian Thanksgiving in early October.

So, it was a nice ride today.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Nice Ride Today

Great day for a Ride

It was a nice day today, so I was determined to go for a ride.

September Field Visit

A nice blue sky.

A nice blue bike

By the Fence

What you see in the way of countryside is pretty typical of the landscape just north and west of Toronto. Really nice farmland. On a gentle down sloping bit of road, I noticed a nice wide and paved shoulder and decided to stop and take some pics. Let me know which you like and why, if you care to.

The Bluetooth Rocks!

As the edit to the preceding post noted, I updated the firmware in the Cardo G9 last night. I was warned this would require deleting all previous pairings and redoing them again. Shit.

Fortunately, the last time I did this I made a record of what was paired to what. That allowed me to very quickly do the pairing(s) again in the garage. Then, I moved the car away, rode the bike out, put the car back, and dressed for the ride. G9 ON, helmet on head, Start bike. Hear announcement that the GPS is connected, hear music, good to go, I hoped.

And it was! Damn!

I did not put the GPS on a route at first. Just sort of pressed the screen to get the GPS lady to speak. Too much distortion. Well, there is an "audio mixer" screen that had three sliders all maxed out. So I moved them to about 75% and that cured the distortion issue.

The music was controllable for album, track, and playlist. Quality was reasonable. I had heard the BMW Audio System had terrible quality, but I think there are some settings that interact with each other and will fine tune a few of them to see if I can improve it a bit. Still, given the wind noise and all, the music was quite acceptable. Those little helmet speakers ... they are not audiophile quality either.

At a safe place, I touched the NAV V screen, chose Phone, pressed "Call Home" and heard dial tone and dialing! Fortuitously, I was invited to leave a vmail message. I listened to it when I got home and next time I will put the mic right in front of my lips. It was level with them but a bit too for to the right. May have to play with the Cardo AGC function to see if it affects speech clarity. Dianne said before the quality was better with the helmet visor down. Another variable. Still, I was perfectly understandable and you could not determine that I was on a motorcycle. Maybe you might think I had a somewhat poor phone.

Right near the end of the ride, I purposely went off the route. This excited the GPS lady announcer no end. I wanted to do that. I wanted many announcements in a short time. And, that is what I got. The music was interrupted and always resumed. I think they fixed that old problem that caused the music to be disconnected. So, the update might have been a really good thing.

So, altogether a good day. I might play around a bit with the NAV V, extract the track record and see if that might make a good graphic.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

How Easy Is It To Use Bluetooth Stuff?

Bluetooth enabled devices can communicate with each other. Supposedly. Sort of. I have a bunch of them and have been trying to use them the best way possible on my bikes, the 2011 and the 2015.

Here is the list of Equipment.

Cardo G9 + Samsung Galaxy S5 + Nav 5 + BMW Audio system: How to get them all working nicely is the target.

I have tried two setups:

1) G9 paired with GPS and Phone

This worked fine except before each ride I had to fiddle with the phone to start music and verify the GPS could see the contact list in the phone. Sometimes this got more than a little irritating, having to turn the phone off then on and so forth. I also noticed that when the GPS gave a series of messages in rapid succession the music would sometimes not come back on. This occurs with both the old Zumo 550 and the NAV V. Sometimes using the G9 voice command "Music On" would fix this, but sometimes it would not. I have had this happen with a Zumo 550 and an iPod arrangement I used to use. Same thing with the both GPSs and the NAV V. Don't know if this is a G9, Garmin, or S5 issue. I think it may be the G9 and have asked Cardo to fix it. No response yet. It prompted me to try ...

2) I found several hints on the MOA Gear forum and on other web sites about the RT Audio System. BMW wants $110 CAD for the cable to connect an iPod. My friend loaned me one and I had to buy a 30 pin to new lightning connector ($36) to fit my iPod Nano 7. All worked as advertised to allow me to see music and playlists. But, it's too much stuff in the little compartment on the right side of the bike.

So, I returned all the items except the Nano. Then I bought a 64 GB USB stick ($27 on sale at Staples!), put 15 GB of .mp3 files on it, plus some .mu3 playlists. If you put this into the USB receptacle on the cable in the bike's compartment, use the SRC button to find USB, you will be able to choose a playlist just as if the stick was an iPod.

  •  pair and connect the Audio System to the G9. Music under control and heard in the helmet.

  •  pair and connect the NAV V to the Audio system. GPS prompts go to the helmet.

  • pair the smartphone to the NAV V. Phonebook seen on the Nav. 

  • pair the smartphone to the G9. Phone calls heard in the helmet.

This is going to be my setup for a while. I have done this and checked it out only in the garage. Rainy days are preventing my going riding.

Questions as yet unanswered: When I start things up, will they all reconnect nicely without fiddling? They should. The G9 has told me before things like "GPS connected" and "Mobile phone 1 connected" without any fooling around.

Will advise.

Edit 11:15 Sunday (day of post)

Just browsed to the Cardo site and discovered there is a software update. With unspecified bug fixes. Well, I did the upgrade and will now have to re-pair the bluetooth devices for audio system and NAV V. Did the NAV V and now will have to do the audio system - in the morning. And test. And fix, likely.

As above, will advise.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Hemingway would be proud of me, I think, with a blog title that concise and evocative. So would my high school English teachers, I'm sure.

Yes, I am an Engineer, and yes, I like writing. Today, I will also show you some pics.

Dianne was kind enough to battle the Toronto 401 truck traffic and the Don Valley Expressway stop and go to get me all the way downtown to BMW Toronto so I could buy the bike and r-i-d-e!

So, Tim (left) and Roger helped me complete the paper work, relieving me of some considerable amount of dollars for the bike and the BMW Nav V GPS:

Turns out it was Roger who put the 480 original km on the bike. He took it to the August BMW Motorrad Days event. It also turns out he lives in Streetsville, about 10 minutes from my house. And he is a Brit, and most Brits of his age who ride bikes and work for dealers are mint. Meaning, my new blue machine was in better hands than mine for the first few km.

So, they took a picture of me:

You are supposed to admire the bike, not me of course.

So, after ATGATT (minus the bulky pants, just for now, until the low seat comes in), off I went. A bit of downtown Queen St. traffic, just a bit, then onto the DVP north this time. It was 30 degrees C, and stop and go, so I got off and took Lawrence West to Leslie, then north to the 401 West.

Along the way, I thought I would try out the shift assist (no clutch, just shift, it works great, faster than any human can shift unless they are racers) and also Hill Start, which was a different experience altogether.

There is a school that modern writers of manuals must go to. If I ever find the location, I promise to become an outright bad guy and find a way to end its existence. Or, to teach them how to write a procedure. I took from the manual and from the BMW Canada guy at the demo ride a couple of weeks ago that the bike would recognize you are pulling away and release the rear brake. After twice causing enormous bucking and ASC warnings, I figured out that was not exactly true. I now believe, after reading the manual 30 more times, that if the circled H is on, the rear brake is locked. I think the idea is then to pull the brake lever one more time to tell the bike you are going to start up now and then when you pull away, the rear brake releases. Will test this theory tomorrow. There really is no excuse for BMW to not make this crystal clear. I did the first assist experiment into merging traffic. Now, the traffic was far away. I am not totally stupid.

West on the 401, stop and go sometimes, then north on Winston Churchill to the 10th Sideroad W, roadwork to Trafalgar, north to Sideroad 15, a favourite twisty road to the Guelph Line, north to Acton, down Trafalgar to the 10th again and back home.

There were a few hills en route. John said to really roll on the throttle up the hills, but not exceed the 5000 rpm limit during breakin. I did that. I liked doing that. It was quite the ride!

607 - 480 =   127 km. And the bike ran great. Recall I put 34,000 km on the 2011, twice to the west coast and back and once to the east coast but not back, alas. So, I kinda know what a 1200 boxer based bike should feel like. Well, this is a totally new bike. New engine, we all knew that. New chassis - I did not expect the vastness of the difference. It is a huge improvement on the 2011. Huge. Is there a word that could convey the idea of REALLY HUGE!!! ? Immense?

The extra 15 hp means it accelerates. The throttle is By-Wire, not cable and faster response with less throttle return spring. Less wrist soreness!

The clutch is a wet clutch now, and a slipper clutch! Much easier friction point engagement. I really like it. When I use it that is. See, you don't normally have to use it at all, and the "clutchless shift assist" with the slipper clutch and electronic magic engine control just does the job!


Do you think I love it?

If you get a chance to ride one of these magnificent machines, do not pass it up. They might be big but they are docile, well, as long as you don't grab a handful of throttle - best to be hanging on really tight in that case... .

So here are a few more pics:

About to enter the garage.

Almost useless left glove box. Electric lock!

Slightly less useless right glove box

The manual warns you the box might bake your smartphone or iPod if you make use of the USB charger and / or audio connection to the radio. Yes, my bike has the expensive and mostly useless radio option. I had no choice. Supposedly, it was a no cost option on my deal. I don't prize the option. I could hear it when stopped, and sort of hear it up to 80 kmph or so. I do wear hearing aids and did have them in today so I could converse reasonably intelligently with Tim and Roger, but don't wear them normally. I do have a Cardo G9 but doubt that it will connect properly. It might, but it has an FM radio and it does connect nicely with my Samsung S5 with the 15 GB of my CD collection, so the radio might get used sometimes. I used it today to set it up, just in case. It's another learning experience in understanding poorly translated badly written instruction manuals.

Sidestand, Dolly, rear wheel baseboard wedge

The sidestand is located more foreward than before and can be deployed without the rider peg getting in the way of the arc. I love it!

The centre stand has the best cam action I have ever experienced on a bike. Needed, because the blue beauty is not exactly lightweight.

The piece of baseboard has a taper so its easy to get the rear wheel up almost a half inch. That really helps when you want to deploy the centre stand on the dolly and not the floor. The dolly lets me drive it in, turn 360 degrees, park it, then later drive out. Hey, I'm 70. And, always was a tad lazy. And weak. Only in body, not mind, not spirit, of course. LOL.

Pointed out, ready to ride, LED driving/parking lights.

On the 2011, in Cape Breton, one of the two low beam bulbs burnt out. I had both replaced when I was at the dealer for the new rear, recall I picked up a cotter pin in it.

Well, the designers decided to replace the two low beams with two high beams plus one low beam and these LED surround lights. When the bike is running, the central low beam is on and more LEDs surround it. John told me not to idle the bike, so no pic right now... .

Bob Leong made me buy the top box, I had no free will!

Bob, we still think of you and thank you for your good advice. It fits nicely.

The front and rear wheels have air filler valves that are part of the spokes, look carefully.

On the 2011, the front had this feature and it was good. The rear had the conventional filler through the rim and the disc brake made it difficult to get the air hose fitting onto the spiggot. Oh, I do know the correct words, I must be exhausted. Buying a bike is such a difficult and emotional thing. Poor me. LOL.

Short legged guys love narrow seats.

This is the normal seat, called the high seat on the 2015s. A low seat is coming. I have ridden a bike with the low seat and am looking forward to it. This seat is not bad, but for me, the low seat allows me to have both feet flat on the ground. Even with the high seat the 2015 is much more stable at a stop and I feel much more confident with it.

I'm told the low seat is low because they removed some padding. It felt fine on a one hour test drive and I tend to stop every two hours, three hours max. On the 2011, that was when my butt was numb and bladder full... .

Notice how wide the seat is at the back? That is much wider than the 2011 and feels great.

It's Mine! All Mine! Eat Your Heart Out!

Kind of a young colour for an old fart like me. On the other hand, my daughter likes blue, it matches her eyes, Dianne's eyes, Emma's eyes, my eyes, ... .

Wind Tunnel Test Results in This

Now, the 2011 had really extensive wind tunnel testing and the electrically operated windscreen was excellent. But, the 2015 is a bit narrower with wider vents at the bottom and is said to be the very best windscreen ever put on a motorcycle. Can't say for sure from my own experience, but I sure did notice the difference. Never read about that in a review, but the motojournalists may not have had the experience I did with the 2011 and would not have noticed most of the changes / refinements I mention in this post.


Those white on black dials are supurb for legibility. The NAV V GPS is the rectangular thing on top and between the dials is a COLOR! LCD display that tilts and is readable in sunlight! Guess what changed from the 2011?

Left Control Cluster

F-18 contol sticks have more complexity by far than this left cluster. Still, it's a handful. The lever pull is more easily adjustable. As an engineer, I really love this sort of refinement. The multicontroller is a wheel and also a side-to-side switch. It does too many things to list and it actually is very intuitive. All those other buttons - they do useful things. And, yes, there is my old and dear friend the fully functional Cruise Control - works just like the one in your car. If you ever do a cross-continent ride with one of these, you will not like doing another without it!

Right Control Cluster

The throttle (By Wire, electronic, not cable) side is a bit simpler. The mode control is important. Above it is the Central Locking switch. Well hell, I normally left the saddle bags unlocked and never had a problem. Hit the switch and you hear a satisfying clunk though. Will I ever remember to use it? I hope so... .

Vale, old and trusty friend, You are gone but not forgotten, and you brought me to a safe and upright stop. Given the oil on the rear wheel, it must have been the electronic stability software doing all the right things. Thank you.

Well, it has been a long post. Much more of a review than most magazines would publish, featuring the subtle but important to me changes that I have noticed so far.

Ride There! is the Aerostich folks motto. I rode 39,000 km on my Triumph 900 from 2000 to 2011. Then, rode 34,000 km from 2011 to 2015 on the 2011 BMW. What will I ride on the new Blue Beauty? Blue Streak? BlueEyes? BabyBlue? 

Do you have a suggested name? I don't usually name my bikes, but I could... .