4th july a

     What a great month June was for taking the bike out of town on a ride. The weather was perfect and that streak has continued into July with only a hint of rain and even less road construction on my usual routes. I spent the month almost on constant rides and I’ve fallen behind in blog postings. But judging by the posts, or lack of them, on motorcycle blogs I follow I wasn’t the only one so I’m in good company on that count.

     After some spring maintenance on the bike I started the month by riding over to North Idaho for their Spring Opener. If you haven’t ridden over yet for the event then it is something to put on your to do list for next year. If you don’t know what a Spring Opener is then let me elaborate. It is an event in your state that marks the official start to the riding season. Usually a two or three day party with events, rides, camping, bands and beer. Many states will also hold a Fall Bash to mark the official end of the riding season. In other words, a really great excuse to get the bike out and go for a ride.

mountains

     The event was again held in Kingston, ID as it has been for a few years now. The pic at the top of this post is at a chain area before heading over 4th of July pass on the way there from Spokane, WA. The location they have over there is a great one right on the river and surrounded by mountains. Easy to find and was still cool even during the hottest parts of the day. I went over on a Saturday only ticket so don’t know how good the camping is but from the looks of it I’ll be staying the whole three days next year.

rodeo 1

     The rodeo area was surrounded by all kinds of vendors. The philly steak sandwich I had for lunch is almost enough excuse by itself to ride back again next year for another. The prices at the beer garden were low for an outdoor event held in the middle of nowhere too. The band wasn’t too shabby either. Really had a good time with no complaints other than I had to head out too early so I didn’t have to go over the pass after dark. Really need a better headlight.

     The bike games had all kinds of people and bikes trying their best to take home a prize. There was the Joust event, spear as many rings as possible.

joust

     Ride the plank. 30 feet of 2×6 and measured for distance.

plank

     The ever popular, and my favorite, Slow race. First one to the finish line loses.

slow 1

     And then those events that I didn’t get pictures for. The Keg Roll, Honey I’m Home and Weenie Bite.

     All in all a great day and a perfect start to the riding season in North Idaho. Looking forward to hitting up the event next year and try out the camping. There are lots of back highways and twisty side roads to explore in that area so an excuse to take a ride shouldn’t be hard to find.

My Ride Stats
130 Miles
61 MPG (New Record! Following an oil change and new spark plug caps)

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The West Report

The opinions expressed in The West Report are the author’s own. Feel free to repost or share, we just ask you credit or link to this article as a source.

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bike header 1    

     Three weeks later and over 150 motorcyclists are still being held in a Texas prison for no other reason than attending a political meeting while being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

     Waco city police along with Texas state troopers, SWAT, FBI and ATF used the unfortunate incident on May 17th to conduct a mass arrest of just about anyone they wanted to. Those arrested have included citizens on the other side of the building, a man who doesn’t even own a motorcycle who was just giving some friends a lift and at least one rider who showed up late for the meet after events were over.

     As reported by ABC News Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton stated, “At last count we have 170 individuals that we have arrested and are booking or have been booked into the McLennan County Jail. Those individuals are being charged with engaging in organized crime in reference to the shooting at Twin Peaks, which is a capital murder.”

     What?

     So everyone. Protagonists, antagonists, witnesses, victims and innocent bystander alike have all been arrested and charged. Seriously? How would you like to be shot then arrested for helping the person who shot you. According to Texas officials not one single person who attended the pre-scheduled public legislative meeting is the victim of a crime. There are no witnesses or innocent bystanders. Everyone who attended the event is guilty of being a biker and that’s good enough for Texas.

     Regardless of what state you are in this should really be raising some red flags. And apparently the red one being raised in Texas is that of China. Since when was attending a political gathering considered a capitol crime against the State in America?

     And yes, that’s exactly what the May meeting was. The under reporting by news outlets on that fact I find infuriating. Every state in America has a COC (Confederation of Clubs) meeting to discuss legislative issues that all riders no matter who have a vested interest in. Three seconds of research by any news reporter could of confirmed that. But in Texas showing up for a public gathering to hear the latest on House Bill 2459 is a crime against the state and if anyone steps out of line you will all be arrested.

     An online petition to Free the Waco Bikers has been started and could use your signature.

     Texas House Bill 2459 by the way is a proposal that would make drivers give motorcycles a three foot buffer when passing or making a turn. I haven’t seen the actual agenda but it’s a reasonable assumption this might of been one of the topics to be discussed. And as an example this would be one of the topics you could expect to spend some time on when attending a COC or any MRO (Motorcycle Rights Organization) meeting. Don’t let the Hooters knockoff location fool you. Anyone who’s attended an MRO conference can tell you that if you can stay awake for the whole thing it’s considered a success.

     But in the People’s Republic of Texas political activists, MRO groups and concerned citizens alike are all considered members of criminal gangs for the purpose of mass roundups and detentions. Makes for more dramatic headlines don’t ‘cha know. It also helps distract from arrests being conducted without individual probable cause, punitive $1,000,000 bonds, presumed guilt by association, refusals of public information requests and a projected three months of imprisonment without a court appearance.

     Still unexplained is what exactly 18-22 local and SWAT police were doing there in the first place. Ask yourself this. When attending a public event or scheduled political gathering and extra police are present to help keep the peace are they stationed throughout the venue? Or are they all waiting out front with automatic rifles.

     Yeah, thought so.

     The actions taken by police following this tragic event should be a concern for all riders, not just those in Texas. It’s too easy to think this type of thing couldn’t happen to you because any reasonable person should expect to be treated equally before the law. Especially here in Washington.

     Why especially us? Because a few years ago we passed a motorcycle anti-profiling bill that said these types of mass arrests and presumptions of guilt by association are wrong and illegal. And yet even here this is still happening.

     RCW 43.101.419 – Motorcycle profiling.

     (3) For the purposes of this section, “motorcycle profiling” means the illegal use of the fact that a person rides a motorcycle or wears motorcycle-related paraphernalia as a factor in deciding to stop and question, take enforcement action, arrest, or search a person or vehicle with or without a legal basis under the United States Constitution or Washington state Constitution.

     The language of the law seems pretty clear cut me but that didn’t stop police in the Tri-Cities. The Tri-City Herald reported back in June of last year that police in Benton county had stopped motorcyclists to gather potential gang information unrelated to any traffic violation. It was stated that photos and videos were taken of the motorcyclists, including having some of the women remove pieces of clothing so photos of tattoos could be taken. One of the stops involving eight motorcyclists occurred as they were leaving a political meeting hosted by the COC to discuss legislative issues. Following the incident public officials then went on with refusals to public information requests about the detentions.

     Sound familiar?

     The same newspaper has since reported that a suit against the city of Kennewick for refusing those information requests was settled in favor of the motorcyclists. The rest of the suit has since moved and is pending in Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Washington State against the City of Kennewick, Benton County and the officers involved in the stops. It will be the first major legal test of the anti-profiling law we passed a few years ago. Here’s me hoping the motorcyclists win. 

     Without a similar law protecting riders in Texas it is unclear what suits will be filed against the city, county and state. The Waco Tribune has reported that at least one suit for unlawful arrest, detention and property seizure has been filed. I would expect this to be just the first of many. Simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time isn’t supposed to be a crime in this country.

     For those riders reading this and are thinking, “But I’m not a member of any Motorcycle Rights Organizations!” My reply would be, “Well why the hell aren’t you?”

     Our local and national MROs are the reason we are slowly putting an end to Motorcycle Only Checkpoints. Ever wonder why we don’t have to dress up like Power Rangers with inflatable air bag suits? MROs. Who is putting a stop to motorcycle seatbelts and reducing the use of cheese grater guardrails? Your Motorcycle Rights Organizations that who. I encourage all riders to look up their local chapters and help secure your rights.

     The Texas COC has issued two alerts asking concerned citizens to act, First and Second. Help yourself by helping a fellow rider in Texas and let officials know that these actions will not stand.

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The West Report

The opinions expressed in The West Report are the author’s own. Feel free to repost or share, we just ask you credit or link to this article as a source.

VS 700 Intruder

 

     With the weather warming up it’s best to start working on excuses to take a ride now rather than find yourself without one during the summer. There are very few things in life worse or more annoying than having nowhere to ride to on a beautiful day. So here are some excuses to use this riding season to help kick start your list.

     Breakfast

     At the top of this post is a picture I took the other morning of my VS700 at Frank’s Diner. Breakfast is not only a good excuse for a ride but it is after all the most important meal of the day. And best of all as an excuse it can be used seven days a week all year long.

     Non-ethanol gas

     My bike is 30 years old with dual carburetors and really really hates the 10% ethanol gas that is just about everywhere now. Filling up with non-ethanol is almost like a full tune-up with how much better it runs. Here in the Spokane area we are down to just five places that you can get real gas. The good part though is that they are all at least a 20 minute ride away from me. Pure-Gas.org has a list of stations that still have it so take a look and do your bike a favor by taking a ride and filling up on the real stuff.

     It might rain later so I’d better go now

     Probably a better excuse on the west side of the state than over here but it’s a tried and true excuse to go for a ride. Rain can be substituted with hail, snow or locust swarm depending on where you live. Better safe than sitting at home is what I say.

     Keep the battery charged

     It isn’t going to charge itself you know. Where I park doesn’t have electricity so I am unable to keep a tender going on the battery all the time. So its not just a good excuse for a ride but a necessity! Absolutely vital to take the bike out for a good ride and keep that battery in shape. Considering that my last motorcycle blog post was about putting in a new battery this year I can even add getting my money’s worth out of it.

     Road test

     Sure, I have a battery tender that I can only use once in a while but what I don’t have is a load tester. It might say fully charged but the only way to know for sure is to take the bike out for a good ride. The road test excuse can also work for a list of other things like; scuffing up new tires, checking fork seals, listening for rattles and unusual engine noise, windshield placement, action camera settings, headlight aim or periphery test with a new helmet. So take the bike out and when you get home you’ll sleep better that night with the peace of mind coming from knowing the saddlebags didn’t fall off.

     Milkshake

     Oddly enough I only seem to crave ice cream during the winter but over the summer nothing beats a good milkshake. Well, maybe a root beer float, but there just happens to be a burger stand with both only 20 miles away. Plus I get to ride along the Spokane River for most of it so even on the hottest days the ride is still mostly cool. Wherever you live it is a good idea to plan ahead and find something similar to ride to this year when the need arises. Oddly enough the further away it is the better the milkshake tastes. Not kidding, try it out for yourself.

     Almost out of smokes

     Washington has one of the highest cigarette taxes in the nation. A carton of smokes on average is running about $85 around these parts. Lucky for me Idaho is only an hour ride away where I can get the same carton of smokes for $15. Not only a great excuse to go for a ride but over the course of this year’s riding season my bike will have almost paid for itself with smoke runs. For those of you who don’t smoke then make a run for a buddy who does and save ‘em some money by taking the bike out for a ride.

     Poker run or charity ride

     Chances are one is happening soon somewhere in your area. I know here there are two benefit rides and three poker runs coming up and the riding season hasn’t even officially started yet. These are great excuses to go out for a ride, meet some fellow riders and is usually for a good cause.

     Photo tag

     As far as I have been able to track down this started in Portland, Oregon but since has spread to just about everywhere. Chances are an online motorcycle forum in your area has one going. Basically someone posts a pic of their bike somewhere and the challenge is to go out and find it. Once found take a pic of your bike there then find another location. Take a pic of your bike in the new location and post up the old and new pics. Tag, your it. Great excuse to take a ride at any time.

So there are a few excuses that I have used to take the bike out for a spin. Hope this gets your list started and have fun out there this summer.

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The West Report

The opinions expressed in The West Report are the author’s own. Feel free to repost or share, we just ask you credit or link to this article as a source.

Batteries not included

March 18, 2015

battery box

Changing the battery on a VS700 Intruder is such a joy! Not just because I have a brake rod on one side and a rectifier on the other covering up the connection bolts mind. Though that can be hours of family fun to navigate around. No. The best part is that the battery drops out of the bottom of the bike and I only have 3 inches of low side clearance to work with.

Let the fun begin!

Well, fun for someone anyway. I’m sure there is a bunch of engineers over at Suzuki still laughing about that one. I don’t know if it is still this way after they renamed the Intruder to the Boulevard line of bikes but I wouldn’t doubt it. A running joke like that around the office is too good to fix.

Lucky for me the parking area at my place is gravel and not paved. After securing the stand on a block of wood so it doesn’t sink into the ground and tip the bike over I just dig a hole under the box to drop the battery out with. I know, real high tech stuff huh? With no space to slide a lift under this beats the hell out of trying to kill yourself with a scissor jack.

Or so I’ve heard I mean. Ahem.

So I’ve been up to the shop and traded in the old battery. Cleaned all the wire ends and checked for pinches. Dug my trench to install the new battery and only then do I notice it.

Top and front posts.

old battery

To say the least I was not having hours of family fun at this point.

Same exact battery yet sometime over the last three years the posts were changed. Are they looking at the same bike I am? To be fair with the shop I have checked a bunch of sites and they all say this battery is an exact fit for me. And sure, I should of checked the battery they pulled instead of just matching serial numbers.

Still.

You can’t go in from the top or the front on a VS700. Even with triple jointed tools it still doesn’t work because the battery case top that snaps down after install has no room for top or front bolts. There is a hole in the side for it.

The shop at least didn’t screw me and leave me stuck with a battery I couldn’t use. None of the XT16B-A1 types there had the right terminals. I was able to trade it in and go a step up to a XT16BS-1 with side facing connections for $20 more. Same height but a tiny bit thinner and I had to suck up the space with a bit of foam so it wouldn’t move. Not a perfect solution but whatever gets you down the road eh?

Since the swap I have not been able since to find a XT16B-1 with the right terminals searching online. There IS a replacement for it on one site I found listed UB16B-A with the right ones but I don’t know how old that picture is. Something to keep my eyes out for while I wander through other shops this spring.

The bike certainly likes our new battery and is sounding great. Fired right up after sitting since November. If the battery is my only stumbling block heading into the riding season then I’m calling it all good.

The mirrors I ordered over the winter to fix my broken ones actually fit. Wonder of wonders. The stems are a little longer than the old ones and I can even see better than I could before. The weather is getting warmer, only 36 degrees last night so we are staying above freezing. Won’t be long now.

Hope your spring tunes are all going smooth out there and I’ll see you on the road.

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The West Report

The opinions expressed in The West Report are the author’s own. Feel free to repost or share, we just ask you credit or link to this article as a source.