Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Puttin’ On The Bags

Just as I had been promised by the fellow who took my order from US Saddlebag, my bags arrived right on time. They were in a huge box sitting on my front porch when I got home from work.

I opened the box and was amazed at how large the bags really are. These were the standard size bags. I was glad I hadn’t gone for it and ordered the “large capacity” bags. The ones I have were advertised as able to hold a 12-pack of cans, on each side! What more could you ask?

I had my dinner and then decided I would go out in the garage and see about installing the bolt-on frames on my Vulcan. I knew it wouldn’t take too long. The next day was going to be nice so I had planned to ride to work. The saddlebags would sure come in handy for carrying my lunch and small e-bay packages to mail on my way as I passed by the local Post Office.

The frames only required removing 2 bolts from each side of the rear fender. I don’t have tools for the bike all organized in a kit yet. So I had to find the right size Allen wrench to fit. They were pretty tight but I finally got them loosened.

I undid one bolt at a time and then installed the spacers along with the new long bolt and the frame. The new bolts required a different size Allen wrench so I had to scrounge a while to find that one. Those 2 sizes were the only ones required for installation.

The second frame went on just as easily. Once everything was tightened it was time to hang each bag on its frame and attach from inside the bag with turn-key fasteners. It really required a lot of force the first time to engage the shaft until it would turn and lock in place. It fits over a rubber grommet so it was a tight fit at first. There are 2 on each bag. In between these is an actual lock with a key that attaches the bag and locks it so it can’t be removed. The key stays with you.

There is a hanging zippered organizer just inside the bag which keeps the locking mechanism out of sight and is a nice place to keep small items, pockets for extra glasses, camera, etc. I love this feature.

Then a Velcro strip goes along the top edge which keeps it pretty water tight and seals it shut. Next the whole bag zips closed with 2 zippers. The outer flap comes over all of this and has 2 quick release fasteners underneath the buckles. I love the heavy leather which encases the whole bag. The inside is a solid, hard plastic which seems pretty resistant to heat.

The bags fit firmly on the frames so there is no vibration or rattling at all. They are very solid, well attached, and have plenty of room for a quick overnight trip. Overall I absolutely LOVE the bags. They look a little wider from the rear than I had wanted, but I have no complaints.

I used them all last weekend every where I went, and they were awesome. I plan to get a couple of small luggage locks to attach to the inside zippers if I leave anything of value in the bags. I haven’t been able to fit my small helmet inside the bags, which would have been great. I highly recommend the US Saddlebag for a quality and sharp looking product. They’ve thought of everything.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

My New Melon Cover

I’ve been on a shopping spree lately. As a female, I am a little unusual in that I don’t like to shop! In fact, I despise it. If I need clothing for a certain occasion I will go looking, but it isn’t enjoyable in any way to me. Then Al Gore invented the internet (he says) and a wonderful thing happened. I could go online and browse to my heart’s content for items that I need. It saves a lot of gas and I love receiving packages!

So I’ve ordered a set of saddlebags, which I have and will talk about later. There are also the Harley boots that I ordered from Zappos and love them almost as much as my bike (that is saying a lot). Once I ordered the saddlebags I was on a roll. The next day I ordered a Drifter Half Helmet from Motorcycle Superstore. It came 2 days later and I wore it around the house for a couple of hours until it felt formed to my head. The neighbors already know that I’m crazy. At least I didn’t do the ‘chicken dance’ while I had it on.

Saturday morning I drove Dave to the airport for a 4 day trip. The temps were promising to be in the 80’s and it was already very warm by 7:30 a.m. when I got back home. This called for a ride. I needed to try out my new melon cover and this was the perfect day for it.

I rode north up Hi-way 9 to Marysville to visit my son for a while. The first thing I noticed was the freedom that I felt. Not because my husband was gone for a few days, but because the air was flowing across my face and it felt great! It was hot and the little beads of perspiration were building up on my nose. I had a slight itch on my upper lip, so I reached up and scratched it. I felt a joy riding that I hadn’t felt before. All this from a different style of helmet. I wore dark glasses for eye protection, and the visibility was much improved from that of wearing a full-face helmet. I love the protection of an FFH, but the feeling of warm air and sun on your face is worth the risk. Dave doesn’t like the idea of the half-helmet, but I assured him that not only would it be my face that would be disfigured if I crashed, but the rest of me would probably have more damage. He was not convinced by that argument.

I plan to wear the shorty when it’s really hot, and I’m not on the freeway for long distances. I would want the full protection in that case.

For those of you who might be into purchasing a new half-helmet, the one that I got is the Bell Drifter Skullz a Poppin’ helmet. has them for $10.00 less than other websites, and there was free ground shipping as well if the purchase is over $75.00. I am very pleased with the quality and fit of my Drifter. It looks like many happy summer rides in my future.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Saddlebag Envy

Every time that I ride the Vulcan I wish I had somewhere to put things. I usually carry a messanger bag with my lunch and items for work. If I need more, then I have a backpack that I wear. I feel like a dork.

It took me a long time to decide which way I wanted to go with my Vulcan. I wanted a sissy bar to strap things to, but not your typical Vulcan sissy bar. Then I thought of throw over saddlebags but I was pretty particular the look that I wanted. I couldn't find them. I finally was surfing one day in search of luggage and came across US Saddlebag. They had some bolt on bags that got my attention. On their website there is a place to choose your bike and the mouseover shows exactly what the bag will look like on YOUR bike. I kept going back to the website over the next few days and finally ordered a set for the Vulcan.

Here is what I chose:

These saddlebags have a special internal locking system and zippers that make it waterproof. The quality looks very fine and all of the products are made in New Bedford, Mass. They only take orders over the phone! Does anyone not have online ordering now? These guys are nice, and give that personal touch of friendly service. All shipping is included in their prices. My bags should be here by early next week. I can hardly wait for them to get here so I can put them on. There will be photos.

I'm eyeing the chaps they have at US Saddlebag......they look pretty fine. Might have to get some of those next.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

On a Mission for Barns

Each weekend lately we have had at least one good day for riding the motorcycles. On a previous ride to Snoqualmie Falls, I had noticed the beautiful old barns we passed along the way. I was intending to go back and photograph some of them, since I had a better idea of where they were.

My co-worker told me about a road he knew of to ride where his father-in-law owned land and had a cool barn. We set out on Sunday in search of that road to see if there were barns to be photographed.

It was a lovely, sunny day with temps in the 60’s. It was perfect riding weather for us. Not too hot, and not too cold. Everyone else was out on the roads that day too. We rode up to Monroe, which is a town at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. On the way there, we came across a nice barn that had been left intact and had an overpass and freeway surrounding it. Funny, there was a sign on the barn telling motorcyclists to keep the noise level down (the sign showed a dirt bike). But it was right next to the freeway!

I was leading and usually get lost and turned around, so I failed to find the road I was looking for to turn on. In a round about way I finally found it, after we had stopped to eat and get gas. We headed down a road called Ben Howard road out of Monroe. What a beauty!

The road was a never ending, scenic array of beauty. It followed along a river on your left, and on your right was farmland and homes scattered along the foothills and beautiful mountainous greenery. It was an idyllic setting that took me back in time and made me think I was riding the back roads of East Tennessee. I loved every mile of it. The road wound up and down and got a little curvy at times. Then it would straighten out to green meadows. The smells were fresh and clean.

There were barns, lots of barns. Some of them were old, some new. It was a narrow, 2 lane road with not even a hint of a shoulder. Grassy edges, then a ditch! I was so frustrated to see lovely barns and scenes I would have shot, and no way to get them. There was a little traffic and I didn’t feel safe just stopping in the road.

We came back home through the town of Snohomish, which opens into a valley where there are many, many old Scandinavian, and Dutch style barns. One road we were on passed 4 historic barns in a ½ mile. Once again there was a lot of traffic and no shoulder. These darn country roads are just meant for riding, not stopping.

I finally decided to enjoy the ride, and the scenery. I took it all in, and plan to go back somehow and get some barn shots. They are so unique and beautiful. I wonder if others like them as much as I do.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ladies, Get Out There And Ride - May 2

Back in December I felt compelled to write an article about International Female Ride Day. You can read the entire article here.

It seems just like yesterday, and now the day has arrived. Tomorrow is officially the day for females to get out on their motorcycles in force, and RIDE. You don't have to be part of a group or club, although there will be plenty of organized rides for those of you involved in such things. Since I have to work Friday, I will be riding to work, rain or shine. Then I will probably get out for a scenic ride after work if the weather holds.

Women are enjoying motorcycling more and more so here is a day to celebrate. Those of us who ride all year can still get out to make a statement to the world, 'We are women, hear our motors roar!'

You men can get out on your bikes too, and take in the scenery of all the women out tomorrow.