I mount my own tires because – I don’t know why. You save money, but it takes an order of magnitude longer to do than if you brought your wheels to a pro.
My bestest friends who got me into motorcycling woke me up to this form of self punishment some 10 years ago. We were track day junkies and my bud was like “get a No Mar mount/demount bar and change your own tires” and I was like “sh*t yeah!”
So I’ve got this MRP dirt bike tire changing stand, a No Mar bar, and some seriously primitive pieces of wood and pipe, and for years I’ve been mounting my own sport bike tires.
I think changing road tires is something I never thought was a DIY activity. I just never thought it was something Joe Schmoe could reasonably do on his own. And actually, it isn’t (without a serious investment in a real changer). But you know what? I disappear late at night, waste 2+ hours, and I come back with new kicks on my rims. And I’m pretty flippin impressed with myself and the world when this happens.
After an awesome, full-immersion race weekend at Carolina Motorsports Park with CCS and LWT Racer, there was a long trip ahead of us to get back home…
Finally back to the first day’s rendezvous point in Maryland, we each emptied our stuff from the enormous Dodson Express trailer. I piled some stuff up here, piled some stuff up there, leaned my backpack against the car, loaded the bike on the trailer, etc.
One of my piles was too far away – I decided to just move my rig forward a little.
Wait – did I lean my backpack up against the car? A quick glance out the window, and I suddenly felt sick…
Well sh*t. That brandy-new (refurbished, actually) MacBook Pro I bought 1 month before? I ran over it with my Honda Element. I learned this before a 4 hour leg alone to finish the trip home. If anyone had a shovel I’m pretty sure I would have dug a hole and climbed in.
Fast forward a few days, I’m mostly over the ordeal. But get this — despite these facts
The bottom of the laptop is brutally bent
The bottom cover is ripped off with mounting screws torn out
The screen is bent and cracked in many places
The aluminum base nearly cracked near the ports
the laptop still
has a functioning screen (I logged in and can get around some)
has functioning wifi, bluetooth
has a functioning webcam
has a functioning keyboard (every key!)
has a functioning trackpad
still allows use of all ports
So… wow. Zero downtime at work! I just get some external gadgetry plugged in and I can git-pull and move on with my life. As the days passed, I became even more impressed with this. Rugged is not really a term I use to describe Apple products – mostly because they aren’t marketed that way. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t just run over my laptop with a car -significantly changing the device’s physical dimensions – and continued using it as a daily tool. I’m impressed.
But I wanted a laptop
Using this sexy Retina 13 (now with no screen) as a desktop-only wasn’t good enough. I missed the amazing battery life and high-res imagery that my older laptop couldn’t deliver (I hadn’t sold it yet, thankfully). And while git makes a software life worth living, I still like to keep gobs of local task branches that I don’t push to the origin. I wanted one machine to use at home and away.
After some “just fix it” pressure from the BikeMinds team and some help from my Dad and his vice, I got the laptop bent back to a near-flatness that I can live with. Mix in a replacement screen and some tools from iFixit et voila – I’ve got a 13″ Retina MacBook Pro again! One I can even use as a laptop, believe it or not.
Again – Wow.
Seriously, this laptop was run over by a car (whose tire actually pressed a SureFire flashlight into the laptop), got the bejeezus bent out of it, and kicks the same @$$ it did before any of this happened. I am pretty sure any laptop that didn’t have a cast metal body would have been a total loss. My dilemma, the laptop’s survival, and the amazing convenience iFixit brings to repairing personal electronics – I challenge anyone not to be impressed by this outcome.
By serious I mean buy a real f*cking battery. One that’s light and makes the starter motor sound like an angry animal even on the coldest days when the oil in the crank case has honey-like viscosity. So I bought a Battery Tender Lithium battery.
I had already gone through this with my race bike, and what I learned was that these batteries deliver. They are insanely small, insanely light, and they seem to hold a charge extremely well through long periods of neglect. <- Yes, I neglect my motorcycles from time to time and yet I expect them to work without question when I need them to. Unreasonable expectation? Not with products like this under the seat.
Speaking of under the seat, ask yourself what else you want to put under there, because you’ll gain half your battery box’s volume back after you stick this bad boy in. Take a gander:
The lead-acid medicine ball that came out of this bike was bigger. Half of it was under the tank, and half exposed under the seat (see above). You know what sucked? To get the battery out you had to unbolt the back of the gas tank and lift it up. But with this little guy? Never again.
Just re-route some wires, play a little basic Tetris, and BOOM! Now I can remove and replace the battery to my heart’s desire. And all I have to do is remove the seat. Hell yeah!
Battery Tender: A good company
In the interest of full disclosure, after a year this battery failed. Battery Tender asked only that I ship the failed battery to them, and hardly a week later I had a brand new one at my doorstep. Shipping is cheap, by the way, since these featherlight plastic boxes feel nothing like the batteries you might be used to.
I have 2 of these batteries; the one in my race bike is going 2 years strong. The one in my street bike failed, but was promptly replaced under warranty as noted above. These perform so damn well when they work, I consider the failure a pretty minor blemish. But I’ll report back in another year or so for good measure!
My 2006 Kawasaki ZX6R street bike sits more than it rolls. I’ve just lost my taste for it – the high strung motor, the rear set rearsets, the low clipons – my track time on a motorcycle has gone to a dedicated race bike and the ZX is not what I want for street riding.
But it’s what I have. I dream of Motus MSTs, more practically Triumph Street Triples (yeah, I’m all over the place), however the cheapest option seems to be keeping what I have and finding a way to make it work for me. So I’ve committed to a last ditch effort: make my ZX6R a comfortable street motorcycle.
The Vario is an interesting product that mounts to stock rear sets and adds an extension between the rear set and foot peg. This allows you to lower your pegs and adds some forward/backward adjustability. Cramped and tired legs? Solved!
Hand and foot positions seem to be the biggest cause for discomfort while tooling around on the ZX. So those are the must-solve issues. A cushy seat, a nicer windshield – that stuff will be worth diving into once I’m smiling again on long highway stints 🙂