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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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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

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.

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 .


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.