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Vision: First Long Ride

Day 1: 527 miles

The trip began with a late start –  Tuesday instead of Monday and late morning instead of before rush hour – but it was a great day of riding regardless.

I covered about 520 miles in a little under 10 hours.  This matches previous road trips: my [effective] average speed tends to be around 50 – 55 MPH.  As the trip goes on, I’m hoping to improve by reducing the frequency of stops (now that I have the big fuel tank).

Vision Touring

In the weeks since I bought it, I’ve slowly been getting to know the Vision during my daily commute and riding around town, but today we bonded.  Power gushes from the incredible engine.  Rolling away the miles at 70-80 MPH it is even and civilized, but anytime you twist the throttle, it takes off with such ease, you have to check the speedometer to know how fast you are going (best to check the mirrors too).

The seat & set up is amazingly comfortable; you can adjust position to avoid wearing out and there are plenty of amenities.  This is the first time I’ve had a bike with a sound system (I made special playlist just for the trip) and didn’t realize it was connected to the throttle.  At least that is what I plan to tell the police if I get stopped: Radar Love” was on the radio.  What would you do?!?

Side Note

The Vision has been given couple nicknames (which seem even more appropriate after my first long ride): The Cadillac, from a number of different people, and My Precious, from my gaming group.

Suggestion for Victory

As much as I am loving the new bike, I do have a few suggestions for Victory:

  • The bubble mirrors are really help; the stock mirrors should be shaped with a bubble on the outer edge.  This is not a huge deal (and adding them is cheap), but it is one of those fine details I’ve come to expect on a Victory bike.
  • Improve the gas filling: the Vision has 2 saddle bag gas tanks – they sit low, on either side of the frame – which is great for the ride.  The engine feeds from both tanks with no issues; the gas gauge and fuel warning also across the tanks.  The tanks fill from a single spout, but as the gas goes in, it can take a bit to balance between the tanks.  The result is that you need to fill it slowly and occasionally stop for a second to allow fuel to move between the tanks.  This is not a huge problem – you get used to it quickly – but it still something that could be improved.

Tomorrow

My plan is to ride to Victory Spirit Lake factory (they also make the new Indian Motorcycles).  I’ve heard various stories about people showing up at the factory and getting tours or getting turned away (especially when the new models are coming out).  Not sure what will happen when I drop by, but there’s no way I could just drive by my baby’s birthplace without stopping.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2016 in Motorcycle, Touring, Vacation

 

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Upgrades & Trip Preparation

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Trumbauer’s

Before any long trip, my bike goes into Trumbauer’s for a check up but this time it got some upgrades too: iPod connector, lowering kit (down 2″), and HID driving beam.

The iPod connector, along with Lightning to 30-pin Adapter, allowed my old iPhone 5, and its replacement (iPhone 6s), to play thru the speakers and work with the controls.  The iPhone 5 fit easily in the compartment but the 6s, with the adapter, is a bit tight.  Hopefully an iPhone specific cable will be available in the future.

The lower kit made a big difference and not just because my legs are so short.  The bike is lowered by changing out a bracket (dog bone) which changes the angle of the bike.  The lower angle feels more controllable and less susceptible to cross winds; John, from Trumbauer’s told me this might be the case and he was right.  It’s also nice to be able to put both feet down flat.

I haven’t done any night riding with the HID driving light, but even it the daylight it looks like a small sun coming at you.  I’ll try to capture a good video on my trip.

Dressing Up the Bars

I’ve added a number of polish pieces on and around the handlebars: reservoir covers, control accents, and bar ends.  I also added round mirrors for added visibility.  This is one area where the Vision could be improved: even though the stock mirrors are large, I haven’t found a position they give all around visibility.  Even though they are cheap, stick-on type, the round work well and look good.

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Many of the parts came from VictoryOnly, which I’ve ordered from before; they have a great selection and I’ve never had any problems.

I also ordered parts from WitchDoctors (for the first time).  They have a smaller parts list, but everything I ordered was high quality and the web site is great.  I especially appreciated the details about what was in-stock: one of the parts was backordered,which showed on the order page, along with an estimate of availability; I also received 2 updates on availability after I placed the order.  Their customer service is also excellent: the reservoir covers are not symmetric so I needed one of each, but ended up with 2 identical covers – packaging was mislabeled, it happens.  When I contacted them, they very helpful and the matter was quickly resolved.

In addition to the store, they have a number of helpful videos on their YouTube channel.  If you are looking for Victory accessories you should definitely check them out.

KewlMetal & the Heal Shifter Fiasco

After so many years with the heel shifter on Kingpin, I wanted something similar for the Vision.  I did a bit of research and found a number of people who felt the KewlMetal heel shifter was much better than the Victory / Arlen Ness version, so I ordered it.  The next [business] day, my order status changed to Processing and I figured it would ship soon after.

Ten days later, it was still at the same status so I emailed them and got no reply – a bad sign.  I gave it a few more days, regularly checking the order, then emailed again – still nothing.  Now I was concerned & frustrated, so I called the shop; their voicemail message said they were in the process of moving their shop and orders would be delayed.

It would have been nice if they had let me know, but I sent a third email saying I understood they were moving and asking for a general idea of when the order would ship.  This time I got an apologetic reply indicating they expected to start shipping out orders the following Monday – I was (foolishly) relieved.

Monday came & passed, with no shipping information.  A few days later, I checked the site again – no changes, other than a warning that their site certificate (used for secure communications) had expired.  A few days later the site disappeared completely and all subsequent emails have bounced.

After a little searching, I found that ordering problems are not new, but was not able to determine the status of the business.  The common wisdom seems to be that their parts are high quality, but customer services is poor.

IMG_0009I ordered the Victory heel shifter and it arrived a 2 days later.  I understand the concerns some people expressed about finding the narrow leveler with their boot, but it only took a weekend for me to get used to it.

I still have to figure out how to get my money back from KewlMetal.  Maybe I should stop by their shop on my next road trip, which should be starting in the next day or two.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2016 in Motorcycle, Touring, Vacation

 

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Vision First Impressions

Vision Side

Ordering

After discussion with Dennis at Trumbauers and quick review of the long-term weather forecast, I decided to order the Vision.  I constructed the configuration at the Victory Motorcycles site.

The site is generally well constructed and compelling, but they do need to work on the options packages: it allowed me to add overlapping items and some items that do not fit (really do not fit properly) on the 2016 Vision.  Fortunately, Lisa (Trumbauers Service Manager) knows me well; she called me to work out the details and the problem items were removed.

Pickup Day

Dennis gave me about 2 weeks notice when it would be ready and I was counting the hours.  Saying goodbye to the Kingpin was difficult, but when I arrived and saw the Vision looking beautiful and ready to go, it got a bit easier.  The paperwork didn’t take long and I was on my way in less than an hour.

Kingpin - Vision

First Ride

The Vision is large and in charge – the power pours from the Freedom V-Twin (106 ci – 1737 cc).  Once you get it above a walking pace, the Vision is maneuvers easily and is super responsive.  Even though the seating position low and comfortable, it’s still a bit tall for me (I have very short legs), but more on that later.

Leaving Trumbauers, I decided to take Rt 309 South – this gave a mixture of highway and small town riding.  Since the engine needs to break in, I was a bit cautious with the throttle; I generally kept it below 3,500 RPM (redline is above 5,000 RPM), but although there may have been one or two occasions when I wrapped the throttle.  It was amazing!

Differences

After so many years riding the same bike (Kingpin has been my primary ride since 2007), it will take a while to adjust to the Vision.

First and foremost, I need to get used to the sense of speed: 70-80 MPH on the Kingpin feels rather fast, but the Vision does it so easily, you might not notice.  There were several times when I checked the dials and realized I was going much faster than I realized or should be.  One thing had not picked up during the Vision demo rides was beautify & efficiency of the  instrument panel – it has all the information you need, arranged to easy to read at a glance.

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Another transition from the Kingpin is simply the size: there’s just no way around it, the Vision is big.  At rallies, I can back the Kingpin into a tight parking spot between two other bikes, while barely looking; when I’m backing up Vision, or just walking forward while maneuvering, I have to constantly check all sides.  That knowledge of exactly where it fit will come in time.

Next Day

I took the Vision to work the next day, which was my first ride on the Turnpike and also at rush hour.  In both the slow-moving traffic and the sections that opened up, the Vision took it all in stride, always feeling comfortable and at ease.

I was lucky with the weather in that pick up day was beautiful and the following day was still pretty nice, although it was overcast and drizzling in the morning.  Even though the morning rain was light, it gave me my first chance to try out Vision’s protection: the traffic to the Turnpike on ramp tends to be slow (15-20 MPH); when I felt some rain drops hitting my face, I hit the power windshield button to raise it an inch or so and the problem was solved.  This little feature will be huge on long road trips.

Wrap Up

I’ve been waiting years to get the Vision and absolutely love it.  Here’s the just the facts wrap up:

Love

  • The ride!
  • Trumbauers is awesome – Special thanks to Dennis & Lisa.  The ordering process was mostly good, but with the addition of such a great dealership, it was awesome.
  • The controls, gauges and all the little details – they really did think of everything.
  • It’s gorgeous.  I love the way it looks and will be adding some more accents over time.  I’ve already replaced the cheese wedges:
    •  After Market Cheese Wedge

Things to Change

  • It feels taller than the demo bikes, which probably had a lowering kit installed.  I’ll be looking to add the lowering kit soon.
  • Performance Air Filter – I included the Stage 1 Exhaust option, but need change the intake to match.  Even though it has plenty of power, it surges like a wave and I suspect the air filter will create more jump.  (Yes, I’m being ridiculous about the power, but why not?)
  • HID kit – I haven’t done any night riding yet, but I’m used to the Kingpin’s HID light so will probably add it to the Vision.
  • iPhone connection – the accessory cable plugs in the iPhone headphone jack, delivering the audio to the speakers, but with no control (other than volume).  The tech at Trumbauers told me that I can install the iPod connector then add a Lightning adapter to get the full functionality.
 
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Posted by on April 3, 2016 in Motorcycle, Touring

 

2016 Victory Vision

At the end of March, 2016, I traded the Kingpin for a new Vision.  I’d been thinking about the Vision of years and been on more test rides than I can count and the time finally came to pull t…

Source: 2016 Victory Vision

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2016 in Motorcycle, Touring

 

9/11 Memorial

Freedom TowerOn Tuesday, I visited the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.  After posting my plans on Facebook, my friend John contacted me to let me know that he was a docent-in-training at the museum.  His docent classes would run until 5 PM, so we made plans to meet up afterwards.  He described this as an opportunity to practice his skills, but it was really a personalized, guided tour.

I had been thinking of combining the visit to the memorial with a trip to 20th Century Cycles.  It seemed like a great combination, since Tuesday night is also Oyster Bay Cruise Night, but on further review, I realized the schedules would not work.  Visiting 20th Century Cycles would have to go back on the to-do list.

I took PATH from Harrison station, as suggested on the memorial site.  For people traveling from the greater Philadelphia area, on a weekday, this is the best choice as it makes travel to the site quick & easy.

The Memorial

There is construction going on all around the memorial, but the park itself is complete and beautiful.  I arrived early enough that I had an hour to walk around the area, see the survivor tree, and read the names around the reflecting pools.  I took a bit of time at the southern pool to read the names of the first responders, which are grouped in one area.

First Responders

Tuesday, after 5 PM, entry to the museum is free; I had no objection to the entry fee, but since it lined up with other plans, I took advantage of the free tickets.  They start handing out the tickets at 4:30 PM, but I recommend getting in line around 4 PM.

Transit Station Construction

After I had my ticket, I waited near the north pool and watched the work construction on the transportation hub.  Any time the cranes fired up, most people in the area turned to watch.  I look forward to returning once the hub is complete.

The MuseumFrom Impact

Once inside, John & I walked along the museum path, which travels from just below ground level, down to bedrock.  Along the way are many artifacts from the twin towers, which were made more special by having someone to provide details and put them into context.

Once down at the lowest level, you can see the remains of original box columns, grounded in the bedrock.  Above, as part of the roof, are walls of brushed metal that represent the original footprints of twin towers.  While viewing the artifacts, and thinking back to that horrible day, I was repeatedly reminded that the area where I was standing was never intended to be occupied: when the towers stood on this spot, this area would not just be underground, but in the ground, with the box columns that are now visible, surrounded by earth.

The Moment

It seems everyone who remembers that day, has a moment or image that connects them to the experience.  For me, it was the plight of the first responders who rushed into the towers to save others.  As I approached remains of Ladder 3, I was overwhelmed by waves of emotion which I can not capture in mere words.

Ladder 3

The Historical Exhibition

The Historical Exhibition sits in the footprint of one of the towers; it is a walking path that traverses the timeline of 9/11 (and some events leading up to it).  Along the path there are artifacts, replays of the television coverage, detailed history and alcoves with audio presentations.  The audio presentations are made up of recording from that day along with recollections of survivors.  As the audio plays, a visual display shows where and when they occurred.  All these items can be overwhelming, so the exhibit is set up with early exits and passages which allow you to go around some areas that are just too much.

At the start of the exhibit, the crowd was much like any museum crowd, with overlapping conversations at normal volume, but as people traveled down the path, conversations became fewer and took place in hushed tones.  The experience takes you back to that tragic day; even those who are too young to remember, seemed overwhelmed and struck dumb.

The timeline ends with a future and rebuilding area, which is brightly lit and upbeat, but for me, it could not overcome the waves of emotion.  The moment I found most difficult, was the representation of the afternoon of 9/11; in this area are details of the first responders while a steady stream of emergency locator chirps play in the background.

Summary

The memorial, museum and, especially the Historical Exhibition, have been created beautifully and with great care – I can not image a better memorial to that tragic day.  If you plan to visit the memorial, I would like to recommend that you prepare yourself, but I don’t believe that is possible.

See all photos.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2014 in Memorial, Vacation

 

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Flight 93 Memorial

Flight 93 Memorial

For Monday, I had been thinking about riding thru the rural areas in Virginia & West Virginia, but, as I was riding north-west toward I-81, a different destination came to mind: the Flight 93 National Memorial.  The memorial is one of those things that is so close that I never stop, thinking I could visit anytime and should go somewhere more remote.  Since this year has ended up as many small trips, it was the perfect opportunity.

The Memorial

The ride to the memorial, along Route 30, winds thru beautiful, rural Pennsylvania.  As you enter the memorial on the access road, there is only one stop, over looking the nearby small town of Lambert.  The memorial is still under construction; currently only the visitor shelter, the memorial walk and the wall of names, on the border of the crash site, are open.

Memorial WalkMany of the additional structures, including a visitor center and the path around the crash site, are expect to be completed in 2015.  For now, you can approach the wall of names and look thru to the crash site, but not enter it.

Wall of NamesThe Experience

Walking along the path, everyone speaks in hushed tones, feeling the weight of the events.  Along the wall are nooks containing a few items of remembrance.  I’m not sure if these items are left by visitors or donations placed there by the park staff, but they are sparsely populated and arranged with care.  

Memorial NookWalking the path, pausing the at the nooks and reading the names along the wall provides a feeling of connection to the ordinary people who became heroes on that tragic day.  See all photos.

Tomorrow

The memorial was moving and emotional, an appropriate lead up to visiting the 9/11 Memorial on Tuesday.  Riding home on Route 30 provided a mix of rural, highway and small town riding.  Just the day before I had ridden Route 30, from Philadelphia to I-81, so, when the opportunity occurred, I jumped back on the turnpike to make better time.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2014 in Flight 93, Memorial, Motorcycle, Touring

 

Hybrid Plan

homeAfterRepairsRepairs were completed on Friday, August 22 and I picked up the Kingpin that night.  (Thanks to Sam for the ride.)  With all the changes, especially repairing the clogged air box, it’s running like new.  Now I just need to decide on a route for the next week.

In the prior post, I imagined keeping either the northern or southern leg of the original plan, but instead, I’ve decided on a hybrid of the two.

On Sunday, I will be taking a leisurely ride into Maryland to visit Marcus.  The shortest route is only 154 miles – 2.5 hours as the Google flies – but I’m planning a more scenic route heading west thru south-central Pennsylvania before turning south into Maryland.  I expect to arrive late in the afternoon.

Monday will be an open day – I’ll choose a destination that morning.  At this point, I expect to head toward the national forests along the West Virginia / Virginia border.  The only constraint will be staying within a single day ride from home as that will be my destination for Tuesday.

After returning home Tuesday night, I’m going to spend Wednesday riding with Sam.  We haven’t decided exactly where to go, but there are plenty of great rides in central Pennsylvania.  Sam is also on vacation, but is not spending all his free time riding (I don’t understand why) so this will just be a day ride.

On Thursday, I’ll start a two day ride to Boston, with the goal of arriving late Friday afternoon.  Boston is an easy day drive – a trip I have done numerous times in a car – but I’m planning on taking the long way.  I’m going to stay away from the I-95 corridor, instead heading north-west out of Pennsylvania and into New York state.  I’m not sure how far north I will go, but expect to spend Thursday night somewhere near Canada on the New York / Vermont border.  During my research, I found some great riding in Vermont and should have plenty of time for exploring on Friday.

Friday afternoon, I will approach Boston from north. (They won’t be expected that.)  I’ll be in the area, riding & visiting folks, until Sunday morning when I will be heading home.  At the moment, I expect to take the fastest route (I-95), but may decide to get away from the interstate and stretch the ride home into Monday.  I usually prefer to have a decompression day at the end of a road trip, but this year will be different as it is a series of short rides rather than a single massive trip.

What about Oak Island?

The original focus for this year was visiting new areas & old friends.  That focus remains, even though the reduced timeline has limited both goals: I won’t be able to see as many folks in Virginia and will miss out on Maine, Nova Scotia, and, most significantly, Oak Island.

If it were just a matter of travel time, I could still hit all the destinations, but the point of the road trip is not the number of miles, but making the most of the miles.  Additionally, there are no Oak Island tours Labor Day weekend, so that window has closed for now.  Even though this will be different from prior road trips, it should be a good time.

Post Script: it’s been two years since I’ve visited the south-west U.S. and I have been missing Kingwood & Albuquerque.  There may be an early trip next year.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2014 in Uncategorized