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STAReview Issue 3504

Issue 3504 Download NOW

Jeff Anderson, Nick Zarras, and Curtis Cummings riding the new 2016 Honda Africa Twin Motorcycles. Photo by Gary Kozlowski
Jeff Anderson, Nick Zarras, and Curtis Cummings riding the new 2016 Honda Africa Twin Motorcycles. Photo by Gary Kozlowski

TriSTAR 2016
View From The Top
VP Views
Entry-Apex-Exit Points
Around the MSTA
National Events Schedule
Membership Corner
Member Profile – Bill Speg
Event Previews
Just for Fun Gatherings
Sweet Rides
Traffic Incident Management (TIM)
A Trip Down Memory Lane
Dan Clark Safety Program Update
T-28 – Marble Falls, Arkansas
The North Georgia Classic
Fools Run
The Staunton Spring Romp
Safety Strategies
Duluth West . . . where’s that?
Road Test – 2016 Honda Africa Twin CRF1000L
10th Annual Return To Paso Robles
Alphabet Ride (A to Z ride in 12 hours)
Jack Wilson’s Vincent Racer Part 1: The Build
Product Reviews:
– Aerostich Men’s R-3 Light One Piece Suit
– CMS-50D+ Fingertip Pulse Oximeter
– Fasst Company: Flexx Bars
Quick Look Road Test: 2016 Aprilia Shiver 750
MSTA Membership Registration Form

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STAReview Issue 3503

Download STAReview Issue 3503

Nick Zarras riding a 2015 BMW F 700 GS enroute to Red Rock NCA - photo by Jeremie Elliot
Nick Zarras riding a 2015 BMW F 700 GS enroute to Red Rock NCA – photo by Jeremie Elliot

In This Issue:

  • The Kentucky Red State BBQ Meet-up
  • Dan Clark Safety Coordinators and Program
  • View From The Top
  • VP Views
  • Entry-Apex-Exit Points
  • Around the MSTA
  • STAR News
  • National Events Calendar
  • Event Previews
  • Just for Fun Gatherings
  • Touring Tip: How Many Miles Per Day?
  • Member Profile – Michael Tissandier
  • Road Test – 2015/2016 BMW F 700 GS
  • Sweet Rides: 1932 MH32 Raleigh
  • More Fun Than a Barrel of Bikers
  • How to Write Articles and Shoot Photos for STAReview
  • Safety Strategies
  • Product Reviews
    • Veskimo Personal Cooling Systems
    • FIVE Motorcycle Gloves
  • Being proactive in the Community for Motorcycle Safety
  • Managing Tire Wear–Knowledge Is Power
  • Having your Insurance Benefit Numbers Properly Documented
  • Quick Look Road Test: 2016 Indian Springfield
  • Mail Pouch Registration Form
  • MSTA Membership Registration Form
  • Job Description: State-Level Directors

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Sport Touring with a Naked Supermodel

article and photos by Steve Gross

Based on the fact that you’re reading this, I’m assuming you have an interest in sport-touring.  What a coincidence, me too!  By definition, sport-touring bikes are going to be a compromise—it’s right there in the category name, mixing sport and touring.  But, there are as many ways to slice that compromise as there are sport-touring riders.  Most manufacturers seem to be geared toward the touring side—meaning they start from a touring bike and make it able to do some sporting riding.  I prefer it the other way around.

In my view, Ducati came the closest with their (now-discontinued) ST line.  For example the ST4S weighed about 450 lbs (dry) and had about 120 HP and a great chassis for carving corners.  Compare that to Honda’s ST line: ST1300 makes about the same power but carries almost 200 lbs more dry weight!  Sure you can get a middleweight sport-tourer like the Yamaha FJ09, or even a Ducati Multistrada but for me the center of gravity is too high on both of those bikes.  And so it goes on down the list of everything on the market!

Those of you that know me, know that I have ridden a 1998 Ducati ST2 since 2008.  I have that bike nicely set up for my version of sport touring, but I have to admit that it is a little gutless at 85 HP.  Also, it’s getting a little long in the tooth, and has let me down with electrical issues on a couple of recent trips.  “What,” you say, “electrical problems on an older Ducati?  Inconceivable!”   Point taken, but I have drunk the Ducati Kool-Aid and will likely drink it again in the future.  This summer, I was open to a change, and had been hanging out at BMW Motorcycles of Southeast Michigan since they moved to a location much closer to my house.

In July on the Bluegrass Boogie ride, I was rooming with a friend when he decided to sell his essentially brand-new BMW S1000R.  It’s a long drive back from Kentucky and by the end of it I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse—finding myself the owner of a naked supermodel.  Oh, yeah, sorry about the misleading headline up there.

At first blush, the S1000R didn’t seem like a good replacement for the ST2–instead, I figured it would replace my Honda CBR929RR sportbike.  Maybe I forgot to mention that in order to get approval from the finance committee (my wife) to buy my friend’s bike, I had to agree to sell something.  But the more I rode the S1000R, the more I thought it might actually make a good sport-touring machine.  The ergos are reasonable, the chassis is pretty good (although heavier than a modern full-bore sportbike or even many other naked bikes), and it’s got plenty of power.  Not much in the way of wind protection or luggage capability though.  I would have to do something about that.

stevegross1For whatever reason, BMW doesn’t agree that the S1000R would make a good sport-touring bike–at least based on their accessory catalog.  Unfortunately for the local BMW dealer, I would have to look to the aftermarket for the stuff that I needed.

First place to start was luggage.  After quite a bit of research, I decided to go with the Hepco & Becker C-Bow saddlebag system.  This is a pretty slick setup—the saddlebags mount to brackets on the bike, much like a standard hard-bag setup.  As a result, they don’t contact the bike’s bodywork at all.  They’re not huge, but I’m not a camper and together with a duffel bag they hold enough cargo for me.  I considered the SW-Motech Blaze saddlebag system also.  The advantage of the Blaze system is that the brackets come off the bike quickly and easily when you’re not using the bags, but for me this was outweighed by the fact that the bags themselves draped over the rear seat.  I didn’t like the potential for scratching the paint.

For a tankbag, I went with the Wunderlich SportBag.  This is another slick piece of kit, designed just for the S1000R/RR.  It mounts to the bike using quick release hardware, and is designed so that you can fill the gas tank without touching the tankbag.  It’s not the biggest tankbag in the world, and it doesn’t have a map pocket.  Still working on a solution for the latter item.  I considered the BMW S1000R/RR tankbag, but it was just too huge for my taste.

Next up, wind protection.  When I bought the bike, it came with 2 accessory windscreens—one from BMW, and one from MRA.   If you read my October article, you know that I wasn’t completely satisfied with either one.  After my UP trip, I went back to the drawing board and came up with the Wunderlich Marathon windscreen.  This is just about the biggest windscreen available for the S1000R (discounting a weird barn door looking thing available from California Scientific).  As is typical of Wunderlich gear, it’s extremely well designed and built.  Not inexpensive, but I felt like I got my money’s worth once I took it for a test ride.  Looking forward to putting it through its paces more next season.

The bike also had the BMW Comfort saddle installed when I bought it.  The seat is aptly named, but I’m not the tallest guy in the world and this saddle added 1” of seat height—not optimal!  I considered both Corbin and Sargent, but many reviews of these seats on various forums mentioned that they “lock you in” to a single seating position—I didn’t like that.  Wunderlich makes a seat, but it’s crazy expensive and I couldn’t find any reviews of it online.  Then I found a few positive forum posts about Saddlemen saddles.  Their S1000R saddle has an unusual feature: a channel in the middle designed to reduce pressure on one’s, er, gentleman’s area.  If you are not a gentleman, I suppose the same principle would apply to your area as well.  My bicycle seats have this feature and it works great.  Although their website is terrible, I found one on closeout on eBay and decided to give it a try.  After a couple thousand miles, I’m generally happy with this saddle.  The channel works very well, but the shape of the seat tends to put pressure on my inner thighs.  I might try a Sargent saddle next year.

For bike protection, the previous owner had already done a great job.  He had already installed frame sliders, axle sliders, and handlebar sliders all from R&G Racing.  He also put on Cox Racing radiator and oil cooler guards.  He made the bike more user-friendly by installing an R&G kickstand pad, SW Motech mirror wideners, and BMW HP folding adjustable levers.  I was thankful for all this protection when I tipped over at a stop light in my first week of ownership.  This tip-over led directly to the search for a lower saddle.

I could write a whole separate article about electronics, but I didn’t do anything special for the S1000R.  I already had a GPS (Garmin Zumo 350), radar detector (Valentine One), and communicator (Sena SMH10 + SR10 hub) which I used on my other bikes.  I just moved the mounts over from my CBR929RR to the S1000R and called it a day.  BMW made this job much easier than any other manufacturer I have ever seen, by including accessory power jacks in convenient locations—no need to run a bunch of wires back to the battery or install a separate fuse block/power distribution module!  If I were starting from scratch, I might have made some different choices, but I was already spending quite a bit of my kids’ college fund on farkles and figured I should draw the line somewhere.

Speaking of drawing the line, I did go for one piece of pure bling.  The S1000R is less in need of an aftermarket exhaust than any other motorcycle I have ever owned.  But when I found an Arrow titanium and carbon fiber slip-on on closeout on eBay, I pulled the trigger.  I have to admit, it does nothing for the performance, sound, or fuel economy.  But the little yellow label looks nice.

There’s a few more things I want to do next season, mostly around cold-weather riding.  Although my bike has heated grips (which are fantastic), I plan to install handguards to cut the windblast on my fingers.  And I also will install a permanently mounted heat controller for my Gerbing’s jacket, rather than using my portable one.  Finally, I plan to pick up the BMW S1000R/RR tailbag—I hear that a certain club member has one which is surplus to his needs…

Anyway, that’s what I did to turn the S1000R naked supermodel into an S1000RT sport-tourer.  And although a lot of the products I mentioned are specific to the S1000R, the basic approach applies to making any bike more touring-friendly.



STAReview Issue 3502 – 2016

Nick Zarras on a 2016 BMW R1200GS at Lake Mead, NV Photo by Gary Kozlowski


  • Mount Charleston ‘My four-hour vacation’
  • View From The Top
  • VP Views
  • Entry-Apex-Exit Points
  • Around the MSTA
  • National Events Calendar
  • Event Previews
  • Just for Fun Gatherings
  • Member Profile – Art Smith
  • Road Test – 2016 BMW R 1200 GS Adventure
  • The Balkans
  • Sweet Rides
  • Safety Strategies
  • Product Reviews
    • Aerostich ThumbDogs
    • Aerostich SuperVisor
    • Russell Day-Long Touring Saddle
    • Helite Hi-Viz Airnest Vest
    • Membership Corner
  • Tire Tales
  • Quick Look Road Test: 2016 Victory Vision
  • MSTA Membership Registration Form

Correction: Augie Fernandes is not the State Director of Michigan, as stated in STAReview issue 3502. All state-level leadership positions in Michigan are currently open. For more information, please see the job description here

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Riding New England at STAR ’16

By Doug Weir
Excerpt from STAReview 3501

I will start with the best. Vermont 100 is THE road in Vermont. It snakes its way all the way from North Adams, MA, to the Canadian border, and usually has limited car traffic. It goes through and along side of the entire Green Mountain National Forest. Stratton is just off VT 100 near the town of Jamaica. If you again are looking forward to visiting another tourist store, VT 100 passes right by The Vermont Country Store in Weston.  Further north it passes by the biggest ski area in the East, Killington. It then enters Granville Gulch. Look closely for the sign for Moss Glen Falls on the west side.  After it crosses I-89 (about 30 miles east of Burlington), it passes by probably the most famous tourist trap in VT, Ben and Jerrys Ice Cream Factory. From B & Js, you have a choice. VT 108 passes through the twisty Smugglers Notch.

vermont1However, unless you get there early in the day, it will be polluted with cars. Whether you take VT 108, 118, or stay on 100, you will be given a scenic ride through ever flattening farm country all the way to Canada. If you want to have a road essentially all to yourself, continue on to VT 105, which follows along the Canadian border.

In Southern Vermont just about any road that crosses the Green Mountain N.F. will be fun. The best would be VT 11and 30. VT 9 is also nice, but sees a lot of car traffic. US 4makes a nice climb out of Rutland to the Killington Ski Area, but is overly improved.  East of Killington, US 4 passes over Quechee Gorge. For those who have been to the canyons of the West, it is no big deal, but this is about as good as it gets in the East.

Just about any road that crosses VT 100 North of Killington will be good or very good riding. My paved favorites are VT73, 125, 17, and the Camp Brook Road connecting Rochester to Bethel. If you don’t mind a very steep dirt road, you should try the Lincoln Gap Road. It starts or ends just south of Warren. The east side is paved, but it turns to dirt at the top. It is doable by any street bike unless it has been raining. You can zig zag back and forth on all these roads between VT 100 and US 7.There are many other attractive roads in VT. However, I would avoid US 7A, unless you like lots of traffic and tourist stores. One of my other favorite roads is the short VT 66 from Randolph.

vermont2Covered bridges are all over Vermont.They are shown on the Official Map,but some of the highest concentrations are on VT 14 and 110. The longest U.S.covered bridge crosses the Connecticut River from U.S.5 at Windsor. If you would like to know more about these bridges, there are numerous books available on their history and construction. As I mentioned before, there are an infinite number of dirt roads in Vermont.

Most, but not all, are shown on the Official Map. One of the favorite games my brother and I like to play goes as follows: From wherever you are,find a small town on the map, like West Corinth (SE of Barre), and tell your GPS to take you there via the most direct route.

Most GPSs know the small, semi-abandoned roads that don’t appear on most maps. Whether you can actually follow the GPS depends on how much rain there has been recently.They don’t call the spring in Vermont The Mud Season for nothing.

If you have come this far, why stop at Vermont?…
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Glens, Lochs and Black Puddin’

By Ann Redner, MSTA Vice President
Excerpt from STAReview 3501

BaseIt’s black because sheep’s blood mixed with barley and oats turns black when it’s boiled. And there it was on my plate: the infamous black pudding. Accompanied with eggs, haggis, sautéed tomatoes, mushrooms, sausage, baked beans and toast, it makes a proper northern UK brekky (breakfast)—one that I’d enjoy more than once while on this land…

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