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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 Category: "Review"

The Other Bike

Tomas Perez

1998 Honda VTR1000F Super Hawk

No matter how happy we can be with our current bike(s) there always seems to come a time when our eyes wonder and we like/must have/need to try another bike. I have always told my friends that I am sticking to my current bike... at least until further notice. In addition, what makes this a rather strange or different move on my part is that I have always owned touring or sport touring bikes. And I would further clarify that the sport touring bikes that I have owned are 80% touring and 20% sport. A "mature" person's motorcycle. :)

Maybe it was my brother's influence when I saw him having fun working on his old 1979 R100RT or just a need for something different for my short rides. I did not want anything similar to my main bike and that being a touring bike. I am very happy with my touring motorcycle because it is made for eating up miles on end, light weight for a tourer, carrying capacity, good mileage and range, and a long list options available to meet just about anybody's needs. But on with my search... The first bikes I looked at were cruisers. And they were made by the least likely motorcycle company - BMW. The R1200C is a middle weight cruiser with a rather weak engine (in regard to HP) but has a good amount of torque. I found it very easy to ride because of it's low seat and low center of gravity and lots of torque. But in many regards it was overlapping what I currently have. As a matter of fact many of the C models are setup with the larger windshield and saddle bags. Then I rode a Super Hawk that a friend had for sale and asked me to check it out for him. The bike had sat pretty much since 2005 since that was the last time it was liscensed and the bike showed it by refusing to idle. That made it very hard to ride but I was nevertheless very impressed by the feel of the 90 degree V twin engine. Lots of torque and power across a very wide RPM range made it a pleasure to ride and I was limited to a large parking lot! I never got past 3rd gear!

I've had the VTR1000F Super Hawk for only 2 weeks but I have taken it out for short rides every day except for a few days when we had rain. For the last two weeks I have been working on little things on the bike. The engine and all running gear are in very good condition mostly in part because the bike only had 9,500 miles and the prior owner did a good job of maintaining the bike. The previous owner recently stopped riding the bike because of health issues so there were a few things that needed a little TLC plus I wanted to make a few changes with the extra parts that were included with the bike. I started the same night I got the bike home by washing and waxing it. Following is a partial list of what I did to the bike in the first 10 days:

  • Replaced the touring windshield with the stock windshield.
  • Replaced the stock mufflers with a high mount MIG exhaust system.
  • A little WD40 fixed a signal switch that was slow to return to normal.
  • A heavy throttle was fixed by using a little chain/cable lube.
  • Front fork returned to normal from a 15 mm drop (maybe not as quick to turn but more stable).
  • Front preload was set back to normal (it was set very light).
  • Dampening was returned closer to normal from a very soft setting.
  • Chain lubed - twice.
  • Throttle lock (Vista Cruise) installed.
  • Engine oil and oil filter replaced with Mobile 1 10W-40.

The bike came with a Factory Pro jet kit that was removed by the previous owner but it is running so nice that I don't want to mess with it in that regard. There are days that I think about that jet kit and ask myself "can it get any better than this?" but, I like said before, it is so nice as it is now. The stock jets are in the bike right now.

Today I took the bike out for my first long ride and away from traffic. Shortly before sunset I went to a small farming community located to the north west from where I live. We pass that area often when we travel west or north which is most of the time since we have very little riding area to the south (MX) and not much more to the east (Gulf of MX).

This area produces a lot of grain

A little McCook history

My goal was to make it to the small chuch that serves the community and take some photos if the daylight holds out. It's hard to call McCook a town because the main intersection is only a four way stop and there are exactly two convenience stores at the intersection. That's right, two of the four corners are empty lots.

Since the roads in this area are seldom traveled it gave me the opportunity to see what the bike can do at speed. I know the bike is fast but I wanted to know if it was stable and how the fairing and wind shield protected the rider. What I like about this bike is regardless how fast you are going simply twisting the throttle open takes the sag off the front end and the speed increases at a rapid rate. In addition, running thru the gears is a pleasure. The sound from the engine and the thrust is very nice. I find myself shifting at 4,500 or 5,000 RPMs but the engine redlines at 9,500! I'm still telling myself that this bike is too much bike for me. Time will tell.

The other bike...

I find the low bars nice at speed because the wind blast helps to support your upper body. Lucky for me that I have a rather quiet helmet although from about 80 and above it is loud when riding without earplugs. The same goes for vibration... very smooth until I'm above 80 when I start to get buzzing on either hand grips or foot pegs depending on speed. But at normal speeds I am surprised how smooth the V twin is. On the ride back I came upon a line of 5 pickup trucks in a line headed south. I came up behind them right before a long easy curve so I waited until after the curve to get around them. Once past the curve - which they took at about 60 MPH - I proceeded to pass them. I hit 70 MPH and only manage to be even with the last truck. Obviously they too were accelerating once out of the curve. I'm on a 2 lane road so I either drop back or get on it and pass them all. I twist the throttle a little and with a rush of speed and an intoxicating exhaust note I pass all the trucks. I look down at my speed and the speedometer is at an even 100 MPH and not even breaking a sweat. I twist on for an instant before I let up on the gas just to get a feel for how much more the bike can pull and once again ask myself if this bike is going to get me in trouble. That's what the brain says... my heart says that I need this bike.

It's old fashion with no ABS and carburetors just like my brother's R100RT. It even has a chain. I haven't had a motorcycle with a chain for many years. The old BMWs are known to be very reliable but so are the Honda products. It's rather light with a dry weight of about 426 pounds. It's a 265 mile ride (one way) to get my BMW serviced by a dealer but I have a Honda dealer only about 4 miles from my home. The Super Hawk has a forward lean but I'm telling myself that it's a form of exercise for me. I need to add here that the bike had the clip ons replaced with VFR clip ons that raise and widen the bars. That's a welcomed improvement for me. The bike is very easy to maintain - takes minutes to change oil and filter. Even changing sparks plugs is done in minutes. The bike has 2 cylinders with 100+ HP and 70+ lb-ft on a small frame. Yes... it is very different than my R1200RT and a joy to ride but it will never replace my RT for long touring. Just a different ride... my "other" bike.


Posted with Blogsy

Posted with Blogsy

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 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.

Grip Buddies Review

Tomas Perez

Original Beemer Buddy
Updated... (see bottom of article)

I got these grips mostly to make the grips a bit thicker than stock - not so much to reduce vibration.  To this end the grips feel just right when I'm wearing Summer riding gloves.  With winter gloves the grips feel a bit fatter than what I want.  I also got a chance to use them in cold weather.  The heat transfer seems to work fine in both low and high heat settings.  I guess they help with vibration also but I can't tell if they help in this area.

My weak points with the grips is that they look like an add-on item.  In addition they are a wrap around product not a slip on product therefore they have a seam the length of the grip.  The instructions say to place the seam where your hand and fingers don't touch it.  Good advise of course and that also places the seam near dead bottom for each grip.  The additional advantage is that you can't see the seam in that location.  My problem is that I still know the seam is there (it's like an OCD thing for me).  I'm also wondering how they will hold up with wear and tear.  My original grips were showing signs of wear with 24,000 miles.  Neither is an expensive item to replace.

The seam
The cost was $19.95 plus shipping and purchased here.

Update - 09/17/2012
After my long tour this Summer the Grip Buddies took a beating.  The ride was 4,453 miles in 10 days.  I am guessing I had 3,000 miles on the grips before my ride.  As a future point of reference I am at 33,000 miles on my bike.  The photos below tell the story.  The foam is cracked on the right grip and is wearing off on two different areas on the left grip.  I still like the grips but keep in mind that they seem to have a rather short life.  Not too much to complain about for a $20 (plus shipping) item.  As a point of reference the stock grips showed a little wear with a total of just over 20,000 miles.

Left grip - front view

Left grip - rear view

Right grip

Update - 04/08/2013
I removed these grip buddies this week.  Bike was at about 38,900 miles.  The wearing you see above was not too big of an issue with me.  The reason I removed them was that the left side grip was always rotating on the grip.  It's weird that the right side (throttle side) that is always being twisted did not move much but the left side did.  I think it was tension that was on it as I held the clutch in.  Anyway, I got tired of fixing it on the road so I removed them.  Rating changed to reflect this issue.

Rating=5   Scale 1-10 with 1=lowest rating (save your money), 5=average, 10=An excellent product.


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.

Reads 37,858

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

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.