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Our website is all about motorcycles, especially BMW cycles. We cover rides in the Southwest and Mexico, motorcycle modifications and review motorcycle products. 

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Filtering by Author: Ricardo Perez

BMW Motorrad Sport 2 Bags - Comparison

Ricardo Perez

Large BMW Motorrad Bag

My brother and I just happen to have the two BMW Motorrad Sport 2 luggage bags so here's a side-by-side comparison of the two. The obvious difference is the size, but there's more to it than that.

Size: The bigger tail bag is 55 liter capacity while the smaller one has a capacity of 30 liters and can expand an additional 6 liters for a total of 36 liters. For us non-metric guys that about 14.5 gallon capacity in the larger one and 9.5 in the smaller one. The larger one will easily fit a helmet and more stuff.  I was able to fit my Schuberth C3 in XL size in the small bag.  It's a snug fit but it fits even without expanding the bag.

Pockets: The larger one has two sealed zipper pockets on the sides. I use one side pocket for my wires, phone, connectors, sunglasses case, etc. and the other side pocket for my tums, sun screen, vitamins, BMW MOA directory, etc. There is a neat smaller rear pocket where I keep my important papers such as title, registration, and insurance as well as gas receipts. Then there are two other pockets on front and back which hold the carrying handles, but they are zippered so they can hold my Plexiglas cleaner and towel and other stuff that you don't need on every stop. On top is a clear pocket for a map. It can hold two unfolded sections of a typical highway map (ie - Texas map) so that's neat. It's also neat to see a map other than my Garmin Zumo screen, kind of a kickback to the old days when paper maps were the only thing and it's nice to glance at the map to see what's in the area that you might want to visit. This is my favorite pocket. I also stick my State and National Park permits in there so they're in plain site for the rangers. Last, but not least is the biggest pocket which is the main storage. You access it by the double zippers that open the flap where the map pocket it at, but it's not part of the map pocket so that stays undisturbed. Inside is enough space to easily hold a sleeping bag, shaving kit, rain gear, cold riding gear such as a heated vest, with plenty of room left over for a few days worth of clothing. It's also has a neat bag type strap that you can pull shut, like a laundry bag, which is an added protection against rain water. I took it out on a short trip across west Texas and we had a slight rain, but nothing to really test the water resistance of the main compartment or the side pockets. I would venture that they are fairly good. During this three day trip I had everything in this bag and left the side saddle bags for my tool kit, air pump, and for storing my helmet during restaurant stops.

The smaller bag has five pockets.  Each side has thin pockets that can hold smaller items.  On one side I carry extra straps and at times a small 4 oz flask (for emergency use only) and the other side I normally carry my phone and an extra handkerchief.  There is additional room in each of these pockets.  The back of the bag - the side facing to the rear - has a small pocket that holds a phone or multitool.  The remaining small pocket is on the lid of the bag, i.e., the top of the main compartment.  It's the largest of the smaller pockets.  I carry papers and other small items in this pocket.  It gets used at nearly every stop.  Then there is the main compartment.  Like the larger bag this compartment also has the waterproof draw bag inside.  Each side of the inside has a cord loop so that you can tie the waterproof bag out of the way thus keeping the top open for easy access.  I have yet to use the draw string.  All the pockets are water resistant.  The small bag holds much more than I thought it would.  In the main compartment I carry a micro cloth, Corbin seat cover, rain pants, rain jacket, BMW mid weight waterproof gloves, windbreaker, baseball cap, water bottle, and an extra item or two with still some room to spare.  My logic is that if I hit rain while on the road I only need to access this bag and do not have to deal with the saddle bags.

Zippers: The zippers are rubber lined self sealing so as to resist water penetration.  As stated above, all pockets are water resistant with the main compartment having a waterproof liner inside which is attached to the bag.  It stays in place but can be tied wide open to allow fast, easy access to the main pocket.

Reflective Material:  Reflective material exists on both sides of the bags and on the rear facing side also.

Straps & Mounting:  The Sport Bag 2 comes with three sets of straps.  There are 2 long, 2 medium, and 2 short straps included with the bag.  You can probably make either of the longer straps work but I use the two small straps and two medium straps regardless if I mount the small bag on the passenger seat or the luggage rack.  They are the perfect size for mounting on my RT.  If you mount the bag on the seat the bag has a backrest built in that works rather nicely but it looks much better mounted on the rear rack.  In addition, because of the straps on the bottom that hook on the back rack, it is in my opinion that it's a much more secure mounting.

Workmanship & Materials: The bags look first rate.  I have over 3,000 miles on the small bag and it looks new and once mounted I have not had to adjust any straps.  The bags carry a 2 year BMW warranty.

Conclusion: The larger bag is great for long trip simply because of the additional capacity and I would definitely want this bag on those week-long trips. The smaller bag has the advantage of being mounted on the passenger pillion and serves as a nice back rest whereas the larger one cannot be mounted there because it will rub on the saddle bags. The larger bag also obscures a small part of your rear view vision. The smaller bag just looks neat and sleek and the bigger one looks like what it is, 'a big bag'. So depending on your riding style you have two good options.  I (tsp) replaced my Touratech Flat tank bag with the small Sport 2 Bag and really like it.  Where the tank bag had everything mixed together in one compartment I can now separate those items into 5 different pockets thus all my common use stuff is much better organized.

tsp rating: ********** 9.5/10   (Down pour testing pending)

Small Bag

Large bag

Small bag

Small bag

Small BMW bag with the medium Wolfman bag

Motorrad Large Luggage Bag
Where Am I?
Big Bag with Map in Top Pocket

Side Pocket

Small Motorrad Luggage Bag

Top Carrying Handle

Smaller Bag Padding To Lean On
Large Bag

My New Ride: BMW R1200RT 90th Anniversary Edition

Ricardo Perez

2013 BMW R1200RT - 90th Anniversary Edition

Had one of those milestone birthdays and my wife gave me a gift to remember, a 2013 BMW R1200RT - 90th Anniversary Edition bike. The bike is still on some container ship coming from the motherland to NYC Port, due there on 02/18/13 and then at Lone Star BMW in Austin about a week to ten days later. I'll followup with pictures once we pick it up.

Here's my birthday cake!

Honda Super Hawk 996

Ricardo Perez

Tomas, Pancho Cummings, and I made a trip out to Elgin, Texas on Friday, 12/28/12, to look at a 1998 Honda Super Hawk. Tomas ended up buying it so we trailered it home that same day. When the owner saw us showing up with a trailer in tow he must have figured that these guys meant to buy something.
The bike has approximately 9,500 miles on it, and came with lots of extra parts; two additional exhaust systems, a second seat, pegs, rear shock, wind screen and two maintenance manuals, plus maintenance DVD, jet kits and two extra oil filters, and brake pads.
After a short test ride we loaded the bike and headed home. A quick 700 mile trip to pickup a nice looking bike in great shape. They say it's a poor man's Ducati, but with Honda reliability. It sure rides great and looks like we'll soon be on the road to give it a long test ride.

Corbin Seat on My BMW R100RT

Ricardo Perez

Corbin Saddle
As I continue with my restoration project of my 1979 BMW R100RT I replaced my seat with a new Corbin Touring saddle. When I purchased the bike it had America's ugliest saddle, one hand made by a boot maker somewhere in south Texas. I replaced that with an old custom made cafe racer styled seat which was a much better look than the original, but still not too comfortable for extended rides. My brother has always used Corbin saddles and I like the fact that they are leather instead of vinyl.
The Corbin website has exactly what I needed, a touring model seat for my vintage 1979 bike. The fact that they still carry a saddle for an old BMW and had one in stock was enough for me. It's listed at $399 and I ordered it and within a few days it arrived at my office.

I was expecting some degree of work in making the seat fit, after all, we're talking about a 33 year old bike, but the fit was perfect. The cafe style saddle I had on was rubbing on the tank so I had to use a color matched, specially fabricated material (duct tape) to keep that seat from scratching the tank. Well, that can come off with the Corbin seat allowing just the right "gap" between the seat and the tank. I had ordered the cowling that goes under the seat from Maxx BMW and had it painted before the seat arrived so I was a little concerned that the saddle may not be a good fit or that the holes on the seat would not align themselves with the cowling, but everything fit perfectly. The hinges also fit perfectly as did the plunge bar that locks the seat in place.

True to the story line, the seat is "firm" and it takes some riding to "break-in" the seat. I've only about 500 miles on the seat so I'm of the opinion that I've got another thousand miles or so to get through the "break-in" period. My seat already feels much more at home on it than when I first got it and it's starting to feel "just right".

Perfect Fit At Tank
The seat not as wide as the Corbin on my brother's 2010 RT, by about three inches, but for a guy my size it seems to be just right. I'm 5'10" and weigh 172lbs with a 33 waist. Of course, riding the 2010 RT is a joy and the seat is very nice. A seat that size on the R100RT would make it look disproportionate to the slender 100RT design.

On Cowling
Here's the writeup from Corbin, "Maximum comfort and classic looks. This model is extremely popular on RT models for two-up distance riding. Ergonomically engineered platforms provide deep supportive bucket and long range comfort. Sculpted to eliminate hot spots and provide better weight distribution for longer riding range.
Accepts a removable backrest in the passenger AND rider's positions for added comfort and security (requires hardware #OPL). We offer a variety of backrest styles to suit your taste and the amount of support you desire. Corbin backrests install easily with a single bolt and are adjustable to provide a tailored fit to your copilot's posture.
Inside, our Comfort Cell foam material provides a firm, resilient ride that lasts. Our foam won't break down like the stock pad so you remain in comfort all day. Although Corbin seats feel firm at first, it is this firmness that allows the seat to support your body over the miles.
Includes genuine leather seating in your choice of colors and styles. Leather will provide a luxurious perch that breathes with your body and will break in along with the foam shape for a personalized fit. Be sure to care for your new leather saddle properly with a good conditioner like our Saddle Cream. This will help it to age gracefully and remain weather resistant.
Mounts up easily to your BMW dual cowling and includes new hinges and adjustable latch pin." 

PIAA Slender Horn

Ricardo Perez

PIAA Slender Horn
I purchased the PIAA Slender Horn to replace my stock horns on my 1979 BMW R100RT. They're a simple replacement with two leads, one being for a ground wire to the chassis.

Here's what PIAA says about this horn:  The “Slender Horn” represents a lightweight horn that is the world’s thinnest spiral horn. It is a new horn with the world’s thinnest body in the popular “400Hz / 500Hz” bass range.

Stock Horn
The stock horn on my '79 BMW RT is attached to the frame by a flat metal blade and using a size 13mm nut and bolt which is easily removed. The tab on the PIAA horn places the horn at a different orientation, more downward direction than forward. The instructions make it clear not to remove the attachment tab on the PIAA horn because it's vital to the vibration which produces the "honk" so I didn't mess with that tab.

The horn is much louder than my stock horns, but they're also new. It's a simple install and a neat upgrade.

Stock Horn

PIAA Horn Installed: Much Smaller than Original

Leads with Ground Lead 

Review: The "S" Plug Canal Buds

Ricardo Perez

 I typically use ear plugs while I'm riding, especially when on the Harley with those Monster Ovals. I have a narrow ear canal so over the years I've had some issues in finding the right sized ear plugs. After riding 13 or 14 hours with ear plugs (and sometimes sleeping with them when I share a room with my snoring brother) my ear canals hurt so I've been careful to get the right size for myself. On my last ride I was on my '79 RT which has no radio or stereo so I was without any music or news at all. I picked up a pair of TheSplug at Hank's Motoshop in Dilley just to try them out. They blew me away with the sound quality.
I was also impressed by the feel and the fact that when you're putting on a helmet the helmet doesn't knock them off or even pull them out of place. I plugged them into my iPhone and cranked up the volume, mistake, it only needs to be at about 40 to 50 percent volume to hear things clearly with the bike running. I just popped the iPhone into my inside jacket pocket listening to Pandora Radio for the next three hours.
As you can see by the photos, the ear buds are small and unobtrusive. At one point we stopped to put our rain gear on and while doing that I got a phone call which I took without a glitch, but it's unlikely you can do that while traveling at speed since the Splug does not have a microphone. For me it serves two main functions: (1) they now replace my standard ear plugs, and (2) they offer exceptional quality that's bound to make any long highway seem much shorter. I'd give these a solid 8 points out of 10. Big plus: incredible sound transmission, won't fall out and Big Minus: no microphone. They're about $140 and the Dual Driver is about another $100. Happy listening.

BMW 1979 R100RT: Part III - Test Ride

Ricardo Perez

Fuel Line Filter
I finally got a chance to take the bike out on its first maiden run; a short 85 mile ride. I've had the bike put back together for a few weeks now, but every time I'd take it out the carburetor float bowls would start leaking, usually within five miles of taking off. I would just pull over and take the bowl off, let some gas run through the needle valve and pop it back on. Good to go for another four or five miles!
Of course, the inside of my gas tank is rusty and it sitting at the painter's for over a month sure didn't help. I know I've got to treat that tank, but it seems no one sells the solution I'm looking for in South Texas (it's a water soluble thing called Evaporust). Well, it finally dawned on me that I should just put in a pair of small and inexpensive fuel line filters. I picked up two of the smallest I could find at Autozone for $4.99 each, cut the fuel line, and popped them in. Took less than five minutes. My brother said he did the same thing years ago with his Honda CBX (six cylinder) and said that after the filter clogged the bike stalled on him on some lonely highway. He just punched a hole in the filter with a screw driver and kept on riding.
We left Saturday morning for a breakfast run to San Isidrio, Texas. Those fuel line filters worked like a charm. About 35 miles down the highway I opened up the throttle a bit and went from a pedestrian 65mph to 85.3mph according to my Garmin GPS. I know it's accurate because it's been certified by radar in the Texas Hill Country.  According to the local Sheriff in Camp Wood he said he clocked me at 65mph in a 55mph zone and I had my cruise control set right at 65mph, on the Garmin not on the speedometer.
The bike ran great, smooth and once it warmed up it shifted smoother and just ran better. It idled perfectly at 1,100rpm and should do much better once I get the carbs tuned. Of course, the bike feels much taller and nimbler than my Harley Ultra Classic. I did notice a little wavy (loose) feeling in the rear section as I held the bike at 85mph. I'm not sure if that was because of the wind or some mechanical issue. At 75mph it was totally smooth; at 65mph it was smoother, very quiet, and felt like it could stay at that speed forever.
Once I got home the only noticeable problem was some gear oil weeping from the gear shifter shaft entering the transmission. Maybe that's due to my replacing all the fluids with synthetic oils and perhaps I should go back to the old dino oils. I'm ordering the new seal and that should take care of that problem. I also felt that the saddle just wouldn't do on a day-long ride so I may look at getting a Corbin saddle to replace the custom job on there now.
Conclusion: Yes, I'm very happy with the bike and just want to keep tinkering with it.

BMW Motorrad All Around 2 Rain Gloves

Ricardo Perez

BMW Motorrad All Around 2 Rain Gloves
I've got plenty of gloves, but only two favorites, these rain gloves and my BMW Motorrad Air Flow II. The Air Flow are just about perfect for South Texas' one season, hot! The rain gloves on the other hand are like the forgotten step child, just sitting around in my luggage waiting for that rare rainy day. So when they do get out they love it and show that by taking on any rain storm. We've ridden in some heavy rain storms, but I've never had a problem with getting my hands wet or cold. The double Velcro closures helps keep those cuffs from being too wide open and makes it easy to slip your rain gear sleeve right over the cuff without it becoming a major struggle.
These gloves have an outstanding reflective strip running along the entire length of the glove which really helps you be a little more visible especially at night and that's always a safety plus. These gloves are soft and the fingers are pre-curved so keeping a grip on the handlebars is less fatiguing on long rides. Of course, these gloves are bulkier than your average summer riding gloves; therefore, not as comfortable, but they do a great job of keeping your hands from getting too cold. These are not winter gloves and you'll feel the chill once you're riding in temperatures below the mid-forties unless you've got heated grips.
Rubber Visor Wiper
Far and away the greatest feature is that little rubber visor wiper on the forefinger. It's only on the left hand, the non-throttle hand, which makes sense. My little squeegee has saved my life more than once. I sit behind a fairing, but in a frog choker it doesn't much matter, you're going to get lots of rain on that face shield and that squeegee works like a charm. Riding in the Southwest now means we share the road with all those oil fracking tractor trailers and on more than one occasion I've had them splash me with a great mix of water and mud that totally cuts off your view, but thanks to that squeegee I've been able to just wipe away the grime and restore my vision.
Everything else on these gloves is typical BMW Motorrad quality. The leather is soft, fingers are pre-curved, palm is double padded, and outer palm is breathable Cordura 500 textile.
I'm not sure how many riding seasons I've had these gloves, but they remain like new with no noticeable wear other than on the useless label that I keep forgetting to remove. Anyway, those labels, three of them are sewn in so well that it would be wise not to rip them off, but carefully cut them off with a knife or scissors.
Double Layer Palm
The nice fleece-like material inside the glove makes it difficult to put your gloves on once your hands are wet which is often the case in my situation since I seldom stop before it starts raining. I always believe that I"ll squeeze in-between those clouds and avoid the rain! Of course, putting on any gloves with wet hands is always difficult. I've learned to push my hand inside the glove and set my fingers all the way inside the glove by pushing the glove between the fingers against my mirror stems (or brake/clutch levers). Of course, the best thing is always to put them on before you hit that rain.
So even though they mostly sit in my luggage bags the times they do come out is great. We've gone more than a few hundred miles in and out of rain and they have yet to let me down so I'm sold on my rain gloves. I never leave home without them.

Soft and Comfortable After Many Miles

Size 8/8.5

Double Velcro Closures

Rubber Visor!

Velcro Closures

Cordura 500

SmartWool Socks

Ricardo Perez

My poor feet. Once upon a time they could run a quarter mile bare with nothing but the callous on the soles. That was long ago, now stepping on anything other than a flat floor hurts and my toe nails are starting to resemble barred-wire. Since they now demand much more attention than when I was in my younger, I've since been on a seven year quest for good, comfortable socks. I think I've finally found a brand that fit and feel just right, Smartwool socks, made in the USA from imported yarns. I purchased a pair a few months ago at an Outdoor Gear store in Fredericksburg, Texas at full retail price of $19.95, but I noticed on the SmartWool website that they're about two dollars less than the $20. It takes a real effort for me to spend nearly $20 on a pair of socks so I had already made up my mine that these two pair would have to last me about five years before I sprung for another pair. Fortunately, my brother found these same SmartWool socks on special at Sierra Trading Post for just $5.95 a pair. My five year wait went out the window.
The SmartWool sock is 74% wool, 25% nylon, and 1% elastic and the one I use is the "Medium Cushion  Hiking Socks". I use them with my Sidi Street Boots and they are a perfect fit. It's true what they say about wool, it allows your feet to stay cool when it's hot and warm when it's cold. I used them on an 800 mile day and my feet felt fine.
SmartWool makes a thinner sock which I like using with my Red Wing Boots. It's the SmartWool Walking Socks.

SmartWool's logo is "seriously comfortable" and they are just that with ribbed cuff that keeps the sock up; reinforced sole; flat-knit side panel to prevent  bunching, and other features that make it my socks for years to come.

I've used them on long rides in the heat and in the rain and they were the last thing I had to think about. I have also used them while working on the yard and working in the garage and they never bunched up on my feet or made my feet feel hot and tired. These socks are advertised for walking and hiking, but in my opinion they're great for any boot wearer especially for those day log summer rides when the pavement is above 120 degrees. So yes, after years of looking for just the right pair of socks and  trying many brands I think I've found them in SmartWool socks.

BMW 1979 R100RT Project: Part II

Ricardo Perez

Work In Progress!

  Well I finally got my parts back from the paint shop. I worked on it a full two days, the second joined by my brother who helped me out quite a bit. It still needs the pin-striping work, but I got so impatient with the long wait on the paint job, five weeks, that I  just told him that we'd do the pin-striping later. 
Well it looks a lot better than it was back on February 29th when I bought it, but it still has a long way to go. Hopefully, I can now take my time with anything I tackle next knowing that I can take it out for a spin at any time. I plan on taking it on our maiden voyage this week, maybe doing a hundred miles or so to see how it handles and holds up. I have yet to get it up to it's sweet spot which I'm told is somewhere around 4,500rpm? Here's some of the basic things we've done to date on the bike. First off, we removed that very ugly seat, old styled fog lights, passenger riding pegs, and the Reynolds rear rack. We have new Metzelers on both front and rear, new front brake pads, new fork seals, new progressive springs in front forks, new progressive shocks, new push-rod seals, valves adjusted, carburetor float and needle valve, new clutch cable, new air filter, new oil filter, all the fluids changed, replaced seat with older seat more to my liking, new fairing mirrors, new front fork fender brace, and side reflectors on front and rear. Replaced many screws, nuts, bolts, etc. I'm sure I'm forgetting some things, but there's still lots to do. 
Putting on the fairing can be a little hard, especially if it's just one person, lots better if you have help. I'm telling myself that now I'll go back and redo everything, but at a slower pace just to make sure I've got everything right. I'll make sure that every screw is the right one, and new without mixing some new with old. The important thing for me is that it run well enough that I can confidentially take it on an out of state ride this summer. 
New Fork Brace & Reflectors

Looking Good!

Needs Pin Striping

Ready to Roll

BMW R100RT: The Paint Job - Part I

Ricardo Perez

What Have I Done!
So I'm doing things my way and that includes doing a paint job well before I finish the mechanical work on the bike. I just couldn't stand the 'sort of' wine color of my RT and figured once it's my color it's really mine. Removing the parts to be painted can be a real job, especially when screws and bolts are frozen due to 33 years of never been moved. I started with something that wouldn't discourage, that being the side battery covers that just flip off once you remove the oversized rubber band holding them to the frame. That was easy.
Next came the front fender with the frame brace. The fender and brace came off easily, but the nuts that held the brace to the fender were flat blots on the underside of the fender and three of them would turn freely when I tried to remove the carriage nuts. My wife turned them with a 10mm wrench while I hung on to the 1/8th inch bolt lip with my channel grips and got them off. That two pieces off and making progress. I then removed the gas tank and flushed it out while I had it off the bike. It needed flushing.
Fairing sits on these two braces
Then it's on to the fairing. I had no idea of where to start so I moved to the vent cover and flap on the underside of the front fairing between the front forks and front engine. Those parts came off rather easily.
I next removed the headlight lens on the fairing. Its rubber gasket covers four screws that release the lens. Just turn the rubber corner down and insert your screw driver to release the lens. Remember its glass so it'll break. Set it aside somewhere safe. I then removed the front park light lens (the small narrow one over the headlight) and I reached in and unplugged the gauges on the dash.  Once I had the headlight lens out and pulled out the boot surrounding the headlight housing. I mistakenly began to remove the pockets on the inside of the fairing only to find that there is one screw on the bottom which was impossible for me to get to so I abandoned that strategy and slowly started to remove the bolts on the front brace. It was a tight squeeze but eventually I was able to remove all four bolts and the ones on the back brace under the gas tank. The fairing still didn't slide off so I removed some of the screws holding the center piece to the two side pieces. I only removed some of the lower part of the fairing screws since the top part is held together by the dash which has rivets holding it to the fairing, but that was enough to allow the fairing to open a bit and up and around the front brace and in one up and forward movement it was off.
Here's my bike with all parts to be painted 

So that was it for the tupperware. I decided to have it painted in black. We'll see how it looks. I removed the rear frame bracket to have it powder coated as well as the bracket for the fog lights. I'm making a list of things I need to replace. While everything is off I plan have a little mechanical work done on the bike. I need to replace the front fork seals, replace the seals on the push rods, redo the brakes, and check the points.

Now that I have it apart I hope to take pictures as I put everything back together again and I'll have a better description on how to remove and re-install the fairing.

Naked Bike!

'79 BMW R100RT: Third Day Progress

Ricardo Perez

New Mud Flap & Renewed Plates!

I've had the RT now for about two weeks, but yesterday, a Saturday, I had time to work on it for the third time. This time I installed a new air filter element; changed the oil and oil filter; changed out the transmission fluid; and the rear end fluid. I used Mobile 1 VTwin motor oil and Royal Purple 75W145 for the transmission and Mobile 1 75W145 for the rear end. All the plug bolts were fairly frozen on so it took some doing to get them loose and the old oil filter was the wrong one so it was tough getting it out. BMW makes a filter that is two piece so you can install and remove it without having the frame interfere like it does when using the one piece type. I don't know how they got that filter in, but I had to tear it to get it out.
We adjusted the idle speed to just over 1,000rpm so as to make sure that the oil light didn't come on as it was doing when the idle was at about 750rmp. I also used some de-greaser to clean up the rims and the disc brakes. I lightly sanded the front discs and the breaks seem to work much better.
We took the bike for a short test run and it's running smoother and shifts better. We're still getting some oil weeping from the pushrod entry point into the block and from the oil pan gasket, but those seem to be very minor and can get to them on our next work day.

1979 BMW R100RT Motorcycle Video

Ricardo Perez

Okay, here's a short video of our first day's work on the bike!

Well it's day two with the Beemer. Today we replaced the float and needle valve on the left side; replaced all the fuel lines; installed a new clutch cable; replaced saddle with one I picked up for $75; replaced some old 50 watt driving lights with my Hella DE Xenon HID Micro Lights; inflated the tires to proper levels; emptied gas tank and replaced it with new gasoline; installed my Garmin Zumo 550 brackets and cradle; installed a battery charger pig tail; and did a ten mile test run. Brick by brick it'll come together. It's already running great considering how it was running on Wednesday when I purchased it. More to come later!

Purchased Rare Find: 1979 BMW R100RT

Ricardo Perez

 That 1979 BMW R100RT that my brother Tomas, pictured above, found under a tarp in McAllen, Texas is now my new bike. Yesterday, being leap year, seemed like a great day to buy a good looking motorcycle. It was only about seven miles from my house so riding it home I never made it past fourth gear, but I could tell that this bike has a lot of life left in it. It was a great price and the doctor owner said he'd like to see it go to a good home. It came with the rare air pump and original tool kit.
The odometer is not working, but the seller said that it can't have more than 40,000 miles on it because he hardly ever rode it. Overall the bike looks good and except for a few minor dings it's in great condition. My brother and I spent the day just tinkering with it and here's what we've jumped into:
We drained the tank and will be getting some fresh gasoline tomorrow. There was water and trash in the gas so we're glad that was covered;
I pulled off an old add-on stop light that was not working;
I removed those huge driving lamps and hope to install a set of HID lights I've got in my workshop;
We washed it twice to knock off old dirt, grease, and spider webs;
My brother removed the speedometer to check it out and clean the lens from the inside. Only problem with odometer is that the gear that turns the numbers slides off the worm drive that turns it. It seems as though it should have a stop or something at the opposite end to keep it from sliding away from the worm gear, but it conical shape at the end makes it hard to add any kind of "stop". Any ideas are welcome.
Greased all grease nibs;
My brother fixed the wind shield knobs that were not working thus not allowing us to adjust its height;
Before we drained the gas we had added some "sea foam" to get the water out;
I removed the seat to check for the standard pegs so I can start looking for a replacement "stock" seat;
and we tinkered with other odds and ends.
We still need to work on the clutch since first gear take offs are somewhat abrupt unless you really give it some gas and slowly engage the clutch.
Tomorrow I'm going over to check out a friend who's got a stock seat that may fit my bike. Then there's lots of little things that need attention, but overall this is one great bike in my opinion.

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Wheels are dirty, but in fine shape with new Michelins 

BMW Motorrad RainLock 2: Motorcycle Rain Gear Review

Ricardo Perez

Rain & Mud
UPDATE No. 2: The RainLock 2 size I purchased is size "L" (large). I"m 5'10" and weigh 175.  I use a size 40 coat size and the rain jacket is just about perfect for me, but it can't be any smaller without restricting my arm movement and tightness on the upper back shoulders. I figure an XL would work on me as well, but it might be a bit loose. The pant's waist are about 30" with the elastic un-stretched and about 38" stretched to the max. My waist is 34" so they fit just right over my jeans. The inseam is only about 30" but the measurement from the waist to the crouch is 15". I have a 31" inseam, but these rain pants cover my entire jean without it ever riding up. I rode in a hell of a rain storm and never got wet on my way to Big Bend National Park a couple of weeks ago.

UPDATE No. 1: Rode through heavier rains on May 10, 2012 using my RainLock 2 and stayed perfectly dry. It was a real down pour as we rode to Big Bend National Park we had rain off and on for over 400 miles and at one time, near Dilley, Texas it was very heavy rain, missing some serious golf ball size hail by about five minutes. Bottom line: I stayed nice and dry, the hood sure does help by keeping water from running down the back of your neck and onto your back. This stuff works!

My one-piece BMW Rain-Suit now has about 10 years on it and it's beginning to crack in places so I decided to use my wife's (snug fit) Tour Master two piece rain gear on a recent rainy ride. I opted for the Tour Master simply because it's so much easier to maneuver into and out of compared to my one-piece rain-suit.  My BMW one-piece can get unbearably hot and even in mild temperatures you can break into a good sweat. After about a 265 mile, mostly in rain and drizzle, I discovered that my (wife's) Tour Master pant's inner lining had started to flake away especially at the knees (flex point) leaving me fairly wet from my knees to my boots.
We were at the local Boerne BMW dealer Northwest of San Antonio so I decided to try on the Motorrad RainLock 2; both pants and top. I immediately liked the idea that it's a two piece since there's plenty of times when you want to wear one, but not necessarily both at the same time. The pants are good to use in very light mist or when it's too cool not to have a protective wind layer and the top is good to wear over your jacket on dry cold days. Of course, the other obvious benefit is the ease of getting into the pants and top as compared to the one-piece suit.
Motorrad claims that this suit is breathable. I don't know how they accomplished that, but if it's true then it's a great milestone. It was too cool to be able to tell if it's really breathable on my return ride, but I did ride in temperatures from the high 50's to the mid 70's and never noticed any discomfort although that feeling of comfort may have been caused by my mind telling me that I better not complain about the rain gear after paying a hefty price. The pants were just under a $100 and the jacket was about $130.
Here's what BMW Motorrad says about this gear: " The two-piece rain suit is breathable and keeps out all wind and water. Design, material and fit are all intended for bad weather conditions - including the non-slip material in the seat area. The bright colors and large reflective panels make riders more visible, and therefore safer. All in all, this combination is ideal for taking the worst out of whatever the weather throws at you."  Materials are 100% nylon with waterproof coating; five-layer laminate construction and breathable.  The jacket has collar with adjustable hood built-in; elastic cuffs with velcro fasteners; zip fastener with waterproof storm flap at front; two waterproof front pocket zippers. The pants have a non-slip material in the seat area; heat resistant material in the inner leg area; outer opening zip-fastener at the side, running vertically upwards from the ankle; velcro adjustment mechanism at ankles. It come is sizes S to XXXL. I'm a 34 waist and over my jean I have about another two inches of waist expansion so sizes are more "european" than "american" so if your 35" waist I'd opt for the XL and so on. My rain coat fit just right over my leather jacket (with pads) and I'm a size 40 or 41 jacket size. Jacket is a little hard to put on over leather since nylon just doesn't slide over leather.
I wasn't too crazy of the orange color, preferring a bright yellow, but apparently BMW Motorrad only has one color per year and this year it's orange. It's bright enough to be seen in a heavy rain so that's what counts. There's large reflective panels and that's also a plus. We rode about 50 miles in the rain on Friday afternoon and about 30 or 40 on Saturday (mostly light drizzle) and I stayed totally dry. My flexibility was also good, I could turn my head and upper body to check for traffic without feeling strapped to my rain gear. I also used the hood to keep rain from dripping down my helmet and onto my back.  The non-slip bottom on the pants really work. My seat is plastic covered, but with these pants you never get that uneasy sliding around when its really wet. The boot openings are large enough to get the pants on without much trouble. Of course, like all nylon gear it's best to be seated when putting them. I hate to think what could happen if you're standing and lose you balance while trying to put those pants on.
My brief ride tells me that I'll be very happy with this outfit and like lots of Motorrad clothes it's very well thought out and quality made.

Breathable Material!
Elastic Straps At Mid-Section, Waist, & Hood

Front Zipper Covered by Overlapping Velcro Closing
Collar Straps Shut/Open

Lots of Waterproof Zippers

Hooded Zippers

Large Sleeve Openings

Large Boot Openings/Heat Guards/Elastic Bottom Straps

Garmin Zumo 550 & 660 Motorcyle GPS Units

Ricardo Perez

Here's My Zumo 550 Home Screen Ready for Instructions

Zumo 550

Getting lost on a motorcycle is part of the fun when you're out in the middle of Wyoming, but it's not so much fun when you're in the middle of beautiful downtown colonial Guanajuato, Mexico trying to find your way out of town or you're out in the middle of nowhere and your fuel gauge lights up warning you that you're on reserve. That's when a reliable GPS unit can save the day and perhaps keep you from getting into serious trouble.
I have the Garmin Zumo 550 and my brother has the Garmin 660 which he'll cover in another post.

Zumo Map View
The Garmin Zumo 550 built like a tank and as my brother says, it looks like it can roll off your bike at 70 miles an hour and still keep working.  In reality it can take just about any type of abuse short of my brother's opinion. Its waterproof, offers XM Radio, Hands Free Telephone Calling, Bluetooth with glove-friendly touchscreen with left-handed controls, and sunlight-readable UV-resistant display.  It was a birthday gift from my wife in 2008, what a gal! It has a smaller screen than the 665 models, but it's still just right for my needs and my motorcycle riding. I have the optional XM Radio with the XM antenna bud under my fairing attached to the radio housing. That option is rather expensive as I recall and it requires the XM subscription fee. So you can save a couple of hundred dollars doing without the XM by downloading your MP3 music to the Zumo unit.
The major differences between the Zumo 550 and the 600 series is that the screen is smaller than the 600 series and it does not have the street level 3D view which I can do without, but is nice to have in big city congestion.
I have used my Zumo in freezing weather, in days well over 100 degrees, and in frog-choking downpours and in total, I think it has "reset" itself or just gone "off" several times due to extreme conditions.
When I first got my Zumo I could load just about the entire North America Maps on it, but recently I've had to restrict myself to the lower 48 Southwestern United States Maps due to the limited memory on the 550. I also have the lifetime map upgrades option through the garmin website:  I have the Mexico and Italy MicroSD Cards and being on the border and formerly doing much riding in Mexico I leave the Mexico Card plugged in at all times. The SD card slot and USB port are under the Zumo's bottom cover which flips open. I have my XM wired to it at all times and rarely have my bluetooth connection to my phone since I'm not too keen on taking phone calls while I'm riding.
I also have some scenic Texas routes loaded on it as well as all Harley dealerships in the nation and Best Western Hotels. There a slew of other POIs (Points of Interest) you can load on to it as well.
Zumo Options
When I need gas it's a breeze to get the nearest gas station or any other amenity including hotels, restaurants categorized by types of food, state parks, banks, museums, and just about any other POI you might want to look for. I almost exclusively rely on the speedometer reading which is much more accurate than the Harley speedometer for setting my speed. Other neat features include information such as elevation, time of day, miles to destination, distance to next turn, and of course, the map which zooms in and out to your liking for a view of what's up ahead over that next hill. It automatically switches background color at sunset and provides a nice purple night light viewing.

Zumo Options
It comes with some outstanding RAM mounting hardware which lets you mount the Zumo at just about any location you choose. I have mine on the handlebar, right hand side, but can easily operate it with either right or left hand. I have it on that side since it's easier for me to input information when the bike is off and on the side stand and also best when on a long lonely highway when the bike is on cruise control.  It has its own battery so you can keep the GPS on when you turn your bike off and, of course, the programming allows you to use your system in a variety of different modes with different voices (male, female, british, spanish, etc.) It also comes with suction cups for mounting on your vehicle window, has a built-in speaker and a neat rubber cushioned carrying case. Plus AC charger, vehicle power cable, motorcycle power cable, custom caps to change its appearance, USB cable, owner's manual on disk, security screwdriver, and Garmin stickers.
 In my opinion the Garmin is the best unit out there and if I upgrade it'll have to be another Garmin since I've been very pleased with this product. I'm waiting for a reason to upgrade to the 600 series, but my Zumo has been so reliable that it looks like I may as well wait for the 700 series which is sure to come within the next year or so. 
Ram Mounting Hardware Comes With Unit

The following was posted by tsp...
Garmin Zumo 660

I have the Zumo 660 mounted on a 2010 BMW R1200RT using Ram mounts attached to the handle bar mounts.  This is probably not the best method of mounting the GPS but it's easy and cheap.  I'm still thinking of mounting it above the gauges but for now I'm fine with this installation.

My view from the seat.
Looks better in real life than this picture shows.

The item on the left is an XM radio.  I also use the MP3 capability of the Zumo for music.

Side view of mounts

View thru windshield of Ram mounts
The type of Ram mount I used replaces one of the bolts holding the bar on the triple clamp and passes through a Ram ball.

I went with the 660 instead of the 665 mostly due to cost and the fact that I use the XM that you see in the photos in my house.  I really did not want to use a Zumo inside the house for radio function.  But if you have the money it does offer a clean solution for GPS, MP3, XM, and weather reporting.

The Zumo 660 is much better than my prior GPSs but those were more than 10 years old.  Not a fair comparison.  I also like the fact that the Zumo unit has batteries enabling you to take it with you wherever you go and plan or change travel routes. 

View with XM and GPS removed.
Perspective not correct.  Unit mounts do not block my view of anything .


Rev'It Functional Under Garment Liners For Motorcycle Riding

Ricardo Perez

Rev'It Jacket Fleece Inner Liner

My review of Rev'It liners.
Weather is turning a bit cooler and on a ride to Austin we stopped at Lone Star BMW on Lamar Street to check out riding gear. Early Friday morning the wind chill was in the 30s so we naturally gravitated to the cold weather gear. I wanted something that would keep me comfortable, but not feel restricted in my movements. That's sometimes hard to do when you've layered so much clothes that it makes it difficult to move. I'm a warm bodied person so when it's below 72 degrees I start to layer on clothes. If it's really cold I typically wear, in order, a tee shirt, a long sleeve nike athletic shirt, a long sleeve shirt, my harley heated vest, my jacket liner, and my heavy leather jacket. That's a lot of stuff and if it's below freezing I'll put on my one-piece BMW rain gear over all of that. I end up feeling like the little brother in the movie "Christmas Story" when his mom wraps him up before he steps outside.
Although by mid-morning the chill factor was in the upper 50s, much better riding weather, so I did away with all layers except for my nike athletic long sleeve shirt and my new Rev'It liner under my leather jacket. I also wore the pant liners. I was perfectly comfortable and able to move freely without all my usual bulky layering.

Rev'It Pant Liner
Rev'It Liner
I have Harley Davidson long under pants, but I've never been totally happy with the fit. It seems that the upper section just sits a bit too low for comfort. I tried the Rev'It pant liner and it's a good fit especially under my jeans. The fit and finish of both the jacket and pant liners are top notch. The pant liner's front section is a heavier wind blocking material than the rear leg portion so it makes a very comfortable sitting position. The elastic waist band is just right, not too wide or too narrow, in my honest opinion, and the leg bottoms are nice and snug so they don't ride up on you.
Fit and finish on the jacket liner is very good. It's zipper is good quality and at the top of the zipper is hooded so that you won't be chaffing your chin on the zipper. That's a nice touch that you won't really notice until you're out on a long ride. Other nice touches include overlocking seams, moisture wicking function, elastic, and the slit pockets. The jacket liner also has a nice longer tail so you won't be getting a cold draft coming up your backside. It has two large zippered pockets which come in handy. Overall the vest is tight fitting, water-repellent, and body-warming.  The Rev'It membrane is laminated between two layers of fabric, the outer layer is a stretchable fabric and the inner layer is a soft fleece. I rode over 300 miles with both liners and they were very comfortable.
I'm 5'10" 173 lbs and a size 41 on coats and wear a 16.5 X 33 shirt (large) so I purchased both jacket and pant liner in size "large". The fit is snug and not loose as it should be, but keep in mind that this is a European company from the Netherlands so fit is more typically smaller than US cuts.
Rev'It Collar
The tag says it can be washed, but I haven't tried that yet. Overall, I am really pleased with the comfort of both liners. They performed really well and the fact that it's breathable doesn't leave you feeling clammy so on a scale of one to ten, I'd give these liners a nine. The only negative is that the pant liner comes without a fly opening so that's a small inconvenience, but I'm sure it not there by design to keep that wind chill out. Seem like Rev'It is out to make a mark with top of the line riding gear so in my opinion they're worth checking out next time you're in the market for a good light quality liner for cold riding season. I'm always on the lookout for "functional" riding gear especially living in South Texas where we can have 30 degree shifts within the same day.

Summer Riding Gloves - BMW Motorrad Air Flow II

Ricardo Perez

BMW Motorrad Air Flow II

After years of riding I finally decided to fork over some serious money for a summer riding pair of gloves that might last more than one riding season. I settled on the BMW Motorrad Model: Air Flow II. It doesn't look as cool as many of the perforated leather gloves I've worn, but I decided that I was tired of wearing out a pair of gloves more quickly than I cared for. The Air Flow II cost $105 which is between twice to three times more than I'm used to paying for a pair of gloves so it was tough decision, but I finally pulled out that plastic card. I purchased the gloves in March of 2010 and I've logged enough miles with them to give an honest personal opinion on these gloves. I think their great and absolutely the best pair of gloves I've ever owned. I've used most brands except for Held which I have heard are very good. I've even used several types of work gloves from Home Depot and Tractor Supply and they hold up really well, but lack much of the cooling effects we really need in South and West Texas. 

Surprisingly, although these gloves don't look "cool" they are as cool as any perforated leather gloves I've used. Unlike the perforated type, these gloves have held up remarkably well. It doesn't take me long to wear a hole in either my thumb or palm section on most gloves, but these gloves look as good as they day I bought them and they actually feel better now that I've broken them into the shape of my hands. 

Given the current condition of my gloves they will easily make it through my third summer and that will easily triple the typical lifespan of all the other "summer" type gloves I've ever owned. 

The gloves are made of both high grade doubled leather in the inside hand section and an AirTex high abrasion-resistant DynaFil® with a light, air-permeable mesh structure with completely free air through-flow.  The upper hand has Cordur® sections and the fingers are perforated between each other. There is a velcro width adjuster and a great finger wiper. They also carry a two year warranty, but I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds like I can return them if they rip anytime within a two year period. 
Bottom line is that these gloves are well worth the cost in my honest opinion and they're worth checking out. The fit and feel is excellent for me which is sometimes a challenge for me to find a pair that fits well. 

From the Archives: 2005 BMW K1200LT vs 2005 Harley Ultra Classic

Ricardo Perez

Here's an article from 2005 comparing the BMW LT and the Harley Davidson Ultra Classic: 

2005 K1200LT vs. 2005 Harley Ultra Classic
I am sitting at home waiting-out Hurricane Emily with not much to do, consequently, as promised, here’s my not so professional comparison of the two motorcycles. I’m doing this because some of the forum members asked me to do this. It’s only my personal opinion and it’s not to start some long drawn-out debate on the issue.
I’ve had the Ultra about two weeks and have a little under 1,000 miles on it. As some of you know from my earlier posting, I came to the decision of buying an Ultra without much thought process in making the decision. Here’s a summary taken from that posting of what led to my decision,
My '05 BMW K1200LT 
Well, I'll be signing off the forum, at least as an LT rider, this week. I rode up to Austin to get my new non-working CB radio replaced, but when I got to the dealer I was told that they assumed that it was the relay that was bad on my new CB radio so they had ordered the relay, but not a new CB radio which meant I had to stay overnight to see if they could get one in overnight. I was understanding, but told them that I had to get back home and I wasn't about to make a third trip (660 miles round trip) for the same problem. So I had them remove the CB and credit my account the $768.61 for the CB, Antenna, and Installation. That's about five trips (not including the routine maintenance trips for the 600, 6K, and 12K) that I've had to make for little things (slave cylinder, clutch, communications system, windshield motor, CB, severe front tire cupping, etc.) so all in all, I've traveled about 4K miles or 30% of my riding just for service. I got my bike and took it about a mile down the road and traded it in on a HD Ultra Classic (there's also a dealer about 7 miles from my home). Of course, had I seen a Honda, Ducati, or any other dealer along the way I would have stopped and traded. Impluse buyer is a bad thing. This is my first non-BMW bike (riding since the 60's)...the ride's not as bad as I thought it might be, not as smooth, quick, or powerful as the LT and I miss my LT brakes, but it sure is easier to handle than the LT (imho) and riding two-up doesn't create that LT stress of having to really focus on my stops, go, and turns (granted that's caused by my lack of skill). Maybe I'll get a GS for solo riding? Anyway, I'll miss all the great input from most of you and the expert knowledge you shared with me. Maybe we'll see each other down the road as I putt-putt along. Thanks, and Happy Trails To You!
My brother, an old BMW and currently a Honda ST rider, showed up at the house as soon as he heard the news that I had a new bike. When he walked in I was at the kitchen table checking out the tool kit which comes standard with the Ultra. They look okay, but not exactly what I would call “Snap-On” quality. Right away, my brother says, “Isn’t it thoughtful that Harley makes every combination wrench capable of opening any ‘long neck’ beer bottle!” Without skipping a beat, he added, “I suppose this was included as a complimentary gift”, as he eyed the unopened bag of Pork Rinds on the table. I’m the kid brother, and like my older brother, I grew up only on BMW bikes so his comments were “textbook” and about what I expected. Of course, his critical comments didn’t stop him from taking it on a ride. He called about an hour later saying he stopped at his house for a bit and would bring the bike back in a few days. Later that evening, when he finally returned the bike, he admitted that he’s fond of anything with two wheels, including the Ultra!
So, what do I think? What follows is my personal opinion and there may be some truth in it, but don’t count on it.
Type of Riders: Most of the LT riders I know (not too many) are in technical professions such as engineering. Harley Ultra riders, unlike popular opinion, are not marauding crusaders looking for the closest topless bar, but more like your typical dentists or gynecologists.
Seat: The LT seat is too narrow up front and I get that “monkey butt” feeling after a few hundred miles. The Harley seat is much more comfortable. Advantage to the Ultra.
Sitting Style: The LT sitting style, like all BMWs, is very upright compared to the Ultra. The Ultra is more laid-back with your feet forward. I still get on the Ultra trying to look for the gear and break pedals in the BMW position. I’ve only taken two rides over 300 miles, but both times I haven’t found myself squirming around the seat with the “monkey butt” I get on the LT stock seat. The forward feet configuration is also fairly relaxing on those long rides. I give the edge to the Harley.
Controls: The controls on the LT are much more ergonomically situated compared to the Ultra. The Ultra controls are in about the same place, but I really liked the turn signal controls on the LT. A neat feature on the Ultra is self-canceling turn signals. Of course, with the Harley you don’t find yourself fumbling around for the windshield control either! I do like the Harley rocker controls on the fairing; they seem to be in a logical place and are easy to rock on/off as needed. Edge goes to the LT.
Foot pegs: Not a good comparison since the LT has pegs and the Ultra has massive floor boards which seem to have enough room to carry a case or two. The boards are mounted on some type of springs so that you get no vibration. They’re neat, advantage Ultra.
Windshield: I had the tall windshield on the LT and although I’m 5’10” I still found it to be too tall even at the lowest position to get much air in “stop and go” riding. The motor went out on the LT and had to be replaced under warranty (still an extra 660 mile round trip return to the dealer to get it replaced since no part in stock). The Harley windshield is a good height, but it’s a fixed windshield without the convenience of being able to lower/raise it. Advantage LT.
Gauges: The LT digital display is good, but the LCD is hard to see in the sun which, except for this hurricane pause, is plentiful in south Texas. The Harley has analog type display for speed and RPMs and LCD for Radio. I measured the accuracy of each speedometer against my friend’s GPS (riding side-by-side) and the LT was about 5mph off (reading 80 at 75) and the Harley was accurate (reading 70 at 70). The low fuel, oil, and fuel injection lights on the Harley are very small and hard for me to see (I wear glasses) compared to the LT. I give the advantage to the Harley because I appreciate an accurate speedometer.
Trunk & Side Bags: The Ultra has much more space than the LT (haven’t measured it, just eyeball judgment). I like the Ultra top case. It has lots of room and is much wider than LT trunk so it’s much easier for me to find stuff. I’ve taken the LT trunk off (with Ztechnik rack) and it weighs exactly 30lbs. I don’t know how much the Harley trunk weighs, but it’s construction is not double walled and has to be much lighter (good for keeping that low center of gravity [cog]). The Ultra comes with bag liners as standard equipment. Of course, the central locking system is great on the LT. The locks on the Ultra do they’re job of keeping things closed, but they don’t seem like they can keep any determined thief from easily breaking the lids open. Edge goes to the Ultra.
Gas Tank & Refueling: The LT tank is holds about a gallon and half more than the Ultra (5 gallons) so you travel further than the Ultra on one tank with the LT. The gauges
on both the LT and the Ultra (analog) seem to be accurate. I’ve taken both to near fume levels and both read accurate. Of course, as mentioned above, the “low fuel warning” light on the Ultra is about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Refueling the Ultra is much easier than on the LT. Both bikes have the lid and then the screw-off cap. As you know, the LT is on the right side and I always found it a bit troublesome to stop by the pump, with the pump on the right side also, take off my helmet, putting it between the handlebars and the “on/off” key then remembering that I need the key to unlock the lid (small inconvenience which can be avoided by thinking ahead). If I remembered to get the key first then I had to be careful when swinging the handlebar to the left so I can open the gas lid without dropping the helmet. Once the lid is open the little rubber thing that is suppose to hold the gas cap while refueling never really held it in place. The Harley presents none of those small inconveniencies since the lid and cap are in the center of the tank so you can park on either side of the pump and it’s easy to fill it to the brim. Edge to the Ultra.
Fairing: The LT glides through rough winds and it really takes high speed curves well. The Ultra with its “batwing” fairing mounted on the front handlebars and forks is not as stable at high speeds and I found when taking a curve at over 70mph you really need to pick a line and stick to it otherwise I get an uncomfortable wavy feeling. The Harley with the “batwing” fairing and it now comes with new little clear plastic wings for added wind protection. Additionally, it also has the “lowers” for fuller wind coverage. The LT is one piece and great protection (I haven’t hit a hard rain on the Ultra, but it can’t be as good as the LT).Edge goes to the LT.
Lighting: The lights on the LT are anemic (I had the Xenon HID lights added) and the Ultra’s “Spot” lights are very good for stock stuff. Taillights are about the same, but I haven’t given them much thought. The LT floor lighting is very nice, but not essential to me. Edge goes to the Harley.
Side-stand: The LT side-stand is not much to brag about, but then neither is the non-existing center-stand on the Harley. The electrical stand on the LT is great, but to me a little too low, esp. when traveling in Mexico with all its topes (speed bumps). The Harley stand is very sturdy, sturdy enough for my wife to get on the bike with the side-stand down and not have me cringe. It also leans way over, kind of scary way over, but it sits fine and won’t roll off the stand, either forward or backward. It doesn’t look like the wind will topple the Harley. Those two things are welcome additions, advantage Harley.
Heat: The Harley does put out some noticeable heat in city traffic, but that a good thing in cold south Texas! Advantage goes to the LT.
Dropping: I rolled the LT down twice, once on each side the first month I got the bike, but the damage to the bike was only some small scrapes on the “wing” plastic and it was on the underside where it wasn’t noticeable (side bags did not touch). I haven’t dropped the Harley (knock on wood), but it has a roll bar on the “lowers” and rails around the saddle bags, but it sure doesn’t look like it can handle any type of drop without significant damage. Advantage LT.
Brakes: I miss my ABS and power servo brakes on the LT, although the Harley does stop much better than I thought. Big advantage to the LT.
Front Fork: The LT handles better up front, but the Ultra doesn’t give you that sick feeling in your stomach when you press the front brake lever going at a slow speed and having your wheel turned. Advantage to the Harley.
Suspension: It’s much better on the LT. You feel the bumps and those uneven asphalt to cement seams on overpasses. Advantage to the LT.
Tires: Since I had severe cupping on my stock stone which caused a frightening front end wobble (with hands off the handlebars), I give the advantage to the yet (only 1K miles) untested Dunlops. Advantage to the Harley.
a) Standard: The Ultra comes with the bag liners and that’s very nice. I had to purchase the Kathy liners for the LT. The LT came with a tool kit (I’ve heard that they are no longer standard equipment) and the Ultra also has a kit. I don’t think either one is top quality. The LT had the tire repair kit and the Harley does not. The Harley has the CB (with antenna) as standard on the Ultra Classic and it’s not on the LT. I’m sure I’m forgetting lots of things, but if they don’t come to mind then they can’t be that critical. Advantage goes to the Ultra.
b) Optional: To me the LT comes about as loaded as you can get a bike except for the lights. The Harley stores I’ve seen can turn the Ultra into a solid piece of chrome with only bucks getting in the way. I don’t like the fact that everyone pushes the Harley upgrade (at least Stage I: new air intake, computer chip, and exhaust for an extra 2HP maybe at the $700 range) before you even get out the door. Edge goes to the LT.
Power: Of course, the LT. I don’t know if I’ll get that Stage I yet on the Harley. The stock engine seems like it can handle most things. Being from the BMW family, I’ve keep the rpms over 2K so as not to lug the engine. It doesn’t give you that great Harley “potato” sound with the engine revved up a little, but I can’t think of anything worse than lugging an engine.
Acceleration: Here again, the LT. I’ve only taken the Harley to 85mph and it’s okay, but seems happiest at 70mph.
Smoothness: The LT. I always thought the Harley was a very rough ride just from seeing guys at stops with all the vibrating, but amazingly, the Ultra is smooth enough for me at highway speeds.
a) Slow speed handling: To me the Harley is miles ahead in this department. Compared to the LT, the Harley is like riding a bicycle. Edge Harley.
b) Fast speed handling: As mentioned above advantage to the LT.
c) Riding two-up: The Harley is much easier to me. My wife noticed right away that I was much less stressed out on the Harley than the LT, especially in stop and go traffic. Advantage Harley.
d) Non-paved roads: The little I’ve done on the Harley is enough to give the edge to the Harley. It feels a little more grounded. Edge to the Harley.
e) Two-up comfort: My wife says the LT is more comfortable. She told my son that riding on the LT is like riding in our Mercedes, but that the Ultra is not bad and, “hey, it a motorcycle, adapt and get used to it”. What a gal! Advantage to the LT.
f) Overall feel: The LT is a beast to stop and go, you get used to it, but you never dismiss it. The Harley is just the opposite; it’s easy to stop and go, esp. two-up. The LT feels long on the road and the Harley feels short and stubby
(whatever that means). Consequently, the LT ride is smoother with turns and leaning feeling a bit more solid than the Harley which feels quicker. To me, this is a toss-up with the slow speed feel going to the Harley and Highway speeding to the LT.
Appearance: The Lt looks sleek and modern and the Harley looks retro. Having taken the Tupperware off numerous times I know it’s a pain which you don’t have with the Harley. Conversely, it’s a pain to wash the Harley (haven’t done it yet, but it looks like it is) compared to the LT. It’s all a style thing so it doesn’t matter which I think is better…it’s more of a trying to compare apples with oranges.
Conclusion: Well, grasshopper, would I do it again? I never really ridden a Harley too much and I really was amazed at how easy it handles compared to the LT in traffic and in stop and go situations. Sure it’s not as sleek, powerful, or smooth as the LT, but when I get up in the morning and say, “let’s go for ride” without thinking about it, where as in the past, I would really think of “a ride” as an event which I had to “think” about and think about where I was going and what obstacles I would encounter. That intangible is worth making the move.
I know I’d still have the LT if I could get local service, but I can’t and a 600 mile ride for service and to be told “we don’t have the part in stock” is not too practical for me. I’m still going to look at the GS for riding to the Big Bend country which I visit a few times a year!
My '05 Harley Ultra Classic
…gotta go, water’s rising and I have a leak in the sunroom!