I'm tired, so we're going to keep this short.

The weather was not scheduled to cooperate this weekend, so unfortunately I did not take a private plane to Canton, OH to get the Sprint.  Instead, I rented a car and called into work yesterday and drove out.  The day started with a 4:45am departure and I was at the dealership by 1:20pm that afternoon.  Not too shabby.  Paperwork done and set up with some new heated gear to combat the forecasted cold temperatures and I began to pack up for the trip.  It was a little tough getting everything together, running the wiring for the heated gloves and socks and hooking up my GPS, but I was rolling by about 4:00.  3 1/2 hours later and I found a roadside motel in Marienville, PA - small town, walkable to the cafe for dinner and then it was time for bed.  I decided I would sleep in given my looooooong day.

Well, that plan was shot to hell.  I couldn't stay asleep past 8:00, so I got up and started messing with getting the bike back loaded up and ended up locking myself out of my room.  Office was closed.  Whoops.  Good thing I had my wallet on me, so I walked back to the cafe for breakfast.  I got back to the motel and had to wait until after 10 to get back into my room (I was REALLY close to cutting the screen and going in through the window...

Quick shower and I was on the road a little after 11.  There was much meandering through the Pennsylvania mountains.  My bladder dictated a stop at a roadside attraction for the logging industry in PA - rather interesting, actually.

Anyway, yadda yadda, hit a diner outside of Binghampton for a very late lunch, twisties through the Catskills and I got home right about 8:00pm.  A couple long ass days, but well worth it.

Now I'll shut up and let you see some professional-grade photos I took with my cell phone.

 
Couple things happening all at once with the MSF gig.  This past weekend I took the Basic Rider Course as a student as per the requirements to become a rider coach, and aside from the cold and rain it was a lot of fun.  My group had all kinds of riders in it - no experience up to riding veterans (myself and another Rider Coach candidate were in there), guys and girls, young and old, people into sportbikes, cruisers, you name it.

I met a couple more of the rider coaches who are already working and gained a lot of insight into how we teach, why we teach, etc.  One of them who works for ADKBMS is also a QA guy for MSF, so what he says pretty much goes, so a nice resource to have.

The good news?  Every person in my class passed the course.  The bad news?  I got dinged 6 points for putting my foot down once and not carrying enough speed through a corner.  So much for being a good example.  At least when I take the test to be a certified coach I'm allowed 10 points off, so I'm still safe and these are easy issues to fix.

I also went ahead an registered a DBA in my county (owning my own business, not a database analyst) with this websites namesake, so I'm just about all set on that front.  Next is to get a tax ID number and figure out exactly what I can deduct.  I'm told, since I opened the business before buying the new bike, that I actually might be able to claim the depreciation on the bike, so we'll see.

So, things to look forward to are the pickup of the new bike and the possible delivery of the Buell to a new owner... stay tuned!
 
OHHHHHHH KAAAYYYYYY...

Well, that didn't take long.

After a week of "sleeping on it" after my test ride on a 2011 Sprint GT, I decided that I wanted to buy one.  Swung into the local dealer where I had my test ride and made an admittedly long-shot offer that I knew they wouldn't take.  They've been great so far, but we weren't able to come together on a price.  They were just trying to get too much for their 700-mile demo model, even if it were a new bike with no miles.

So, I started poking around and found a 0-mile example in Canton, OH for a song.  Now, when I say a song, I mean it.  These bikes have been sales dogs, and any dealer who is even remotely serious about opening up their floor space and selling one is doing so at a deep discount and likely for a loss.  I ended up paying roughly 20% less than MSRP for the bike.

The catch?  For those paying attention, I mentioned the bike was in Canton, OH.  I don't live in Canton, OH.  In fact, I live about 500 miles east.  That presents a problem.

Have I mentioned I have friend his own plane?  Let's just say we're shaping up to have a very interesing ride report!
 
Last weekend I headed over to the local Triumph dealer and got my test ride on the 2011 Sprint GT.  I really wasn't sure what I was going to think of it between knowing the spec sheet nearly by heart and also just about memorizing every review ever written about the machine, but none the less here are my impressions.  Keep in mind that my only real calibration for this type of bike is my own S3T, and since it will be the bike that this may replace, the comparison is appropriate.

The first thing I noticed was just how uneventful the startup proceedure is - seemingly like, well, how it should be.  With my Buell, despite being fuel injected, it is necessary to to hold the throttle open a little bit on a cold start and hold the revs at around 1500-2000 rpm for a minute before the bike will idle on its own.  With the Triumph?  No such hassle - just tap the the starter and the engine purrs to life and settles into an idle with no further input from the rider.  As a bonus, your helmet and goves will not vibrate off the seat.

The storage, completely aside from the included saddlebags which will each hold a full-face helmet on their own, is plentiful.  There is a small, lockable glove box in the fairing that would easily fit your wallet and a granola bar or something else of that size, and the underseat storage is enough for some odds and ends like a tire repair kit and a light jacket or something.  Easily enough for a day ride.  The build quality seems very good, especially the switchgear which is much more dated looking on my Buell (and surpsingly the same switch gear Buell was using up until their closure in 2009).

The bike feels extremely neutral at parking lot speeds, so no surprises there - it carries its weight well in this regard.  The clutch take-up is very fast and close to the grip, but easy to get used to.  The front brake feels rather numb to me, but plenty powerful for what this bike is intended to do.  ABS is standard but I never tested it.

Throttle response and fueling are, from what I could tell, pretty much spot on.  There are no surprises in the rev range aside from some buzziness around 5000 rpm, and even though I didn't use all of it (I probably didn't shift any later than 6500 rpm or so), the engine feels a tad low on power.  Horsepower per pound, the Sprint bests my Buell by about 15% depending on how you run the math, but the Buell feels faster to my ass, especially in the lower half of the rev range.  But what the Sprint lacks in total output it more than makes up for in it's delivery.  The engine is dead smooth, turbine-like with a good exhaust note (espeically for a giant, stock can), and doing 50mph in 6th makes for about 2700 complaint-free revolutions per minute that still responds surprisingly well when the throttle is opened up.  On the other end of the spectrum, there is far less driveline slack than I would have expected with the chain final drive, considerably less than my belt-driven Buell.  Putting around at near idle in first gear gave some herky jerky-ness, but it was more than managable and gave the impression that the powerplant would not be uncomfortable in stop-and-go city traffic, unlike my 1125CR which was a nightmare in this environment, belt drive and all.

Suprisingly, despite not having nearly any bit of modern technology involved, the suspension is the next shining star on this bike.  It's plush, but not overly so, and somehow still keeps a sporting feel while absorbing any road irrugularities with magnificent poise.  Fact is, the Sprint rides over rough pavement as well or better than almost any car I've driven, let alone motorcycles.  Leaning the bike over is no problem and it holds its line very well, but the increased wheelbase and heft over my S3T makes itself very apparent when trying to change direction quickly - it is noticably slower, heavier and more lazy in the transitions, but not annoyingly so and could be something that might be improved with some suspension tuning as I took the bike out exactly as they gave it to me.  Most reviews seem to state that increasing the rear preload speeds the handling up a bit, though I'd not expect it to match a bike with a 6" shorter wheelbase and 70 fewer pounds to carry around.

Ergonomics were not unsubstantially more aggressive than my S3T, but aside from maybe wanting a set of bar risers (and that's a big maybe), I had no real complaints.  The seat is wonderful, though my short test ride wasn't enough to expose any weak points on that front.

All in all, it was a very pleasant bike, and I found whatever drawbacks it had to easily be outweighed by the things it excelled at.  If I were to have one, modifications would be minimal - heated grips for certain and most likely a top case, but items like a taller windscreen and bar risers would be 'maybes' at this point for me.

The bottom line?  I want one.
 
Here's the third in my 3-part series, which consists of completely unrelated topics and has taken a bit longer than I originally wanted.  I'm dealing quite well, I'm hoping you hold up, too.

So, what could possibly be the grand finale of this little trifecta?  In short, I'm torn.  I'm trying to come to terms with my needs and wants and figuring what fits where.  Still confused?  Read on.

I love my Buell.  It is hands down my most favorite bike I've owned or ridden.  It's fast enough for me, great on gas, super comfortable, lightweight, handles two up well for the amount I need it and offers plenty of storage.  On top of that, I've put a lot of effort into getting it to fit my needs well.

But all of that said, it is still a 10-year-old machine that wasn't ever exactly known for it's dependability even when it was new.  Most of the modifications I've already made, and some that are still on the to-do list are merely to correct issues with the bike's construction or design in the first place (having to reinforce and alter the mounting of the saddlebags comes to mind, as well as adding the HID headlight).  This mixture of modified parts and questionable dependability to begin with (despite having never left me stranded, but has had me needing to turn around to head home or just not going for a planned ride in the first place) is troublesome for me at a time when I'm down to owning only one bike.

So, that brings us to the inevitable conclusion that I'm shopping (MAYBE) for something new.  But what?  I have been looking and looking and it is damn near impossible to find a bike that offers the comfortable seating position for myself and a passanger, the luggage capacity (even aftermarket options), the lightweight and the sportiness of my Buell S3T.  Any of the Japanese "sport tourers", as nice as they are, are just too heavy and, frankly, way too expensive.  The only bike from Japan that interests me for this would be the Kawasaki Ninja 1000, but seat comfort looks questionable and the bike is just flat out ugly, in my opinion.  America, sadly, has nothing for me.  I'm not completely opposed to a Buell Ulysses, but I think my S3 is prettier and I'm not looking for an adventure-styled bike.

This brings us to Europe, who has a couple of possibilities for me.  The first is the Ducati Multistrada.  Pros?  Fast, light, comfy, lots of gizmos.  Cons?  A little too upright for my tastes and money, money, money.  Another posibility is the BMW K1300S, not terribly heavy and has more power than any mortal should desire.  But, it is VERY long and VERY expensive and bags are extra to boot.

The final, and strongest contender in my eyes, is the Triumph Sprint GT.  It's about 70lbs heavier than my Buell all gassed up, but after that, the consolations more or less come to an end.  The riding potision is slightly more aggressive than the Buell, but I don't think it's so much that it will cause any issues ergonomically.  It has close to 30 more horespower to get down the road with the extra heft.  The suspesion is a bit prehistoric, but likely plenty good enough for the realistic needs of what this bike is supposed to do.  Passanger room is plentiful.  Included hard bags along with substantial underseat storage and the little lockable glovebox in the fairing make luggage space a non-issue.  The maintenance, when you break it down, is not much worse than the Buell, which is known for being easy on the scheduled maintenance.  I have a chain drive instead of a belt - messy and takes maintenance, but at least I don't have to be worried about being stranded if it breaks.  I have to valve checks on the Trumpet, but I no longer have to do TPS resets, static timing checks and primary chain adjustments like the Buell needs.

The bottom line is I'm hopelessly smitten with the Sprint GT.  I have a test ride scheduled for tomorrow.  No idea what I'm going to do if I end up liking it, but I'll never know if I don't ride it.
 
I said you'd get a new post every day for the next three days.  Guess what?  I lied.  Deal with that in your own special way.

What I have for you know is going to be a short little article to discuss the difference between the two accessory exhaust systems offered by Buell during the late tuber years (~1999-2002) as there always seems to be a fair amount of confusion on the two.

The first up is the Pro-Series slip-on muffler.  This guy is simply a Buell-branded Supertrapp 4" internal disc muffler, and you can actually still buy brand new examples of it from Supertrapp, although they are not Buell-branded (but are the exact same muffler).

The other option was referred to as the Race Exhaust System.  This is made up of a new header with longer primaries which wrap around the front with the outlet pointing straight back.  The muffler is a simple, but tuned, straight-through canister.  This exhaust is generally accepted to give the best power gains of any system for the Buells of this period.

Important to note is that the Pro-Series will only fit on a stock header, and the race muffler will only fit on the race header.  The two are not interchangeable in any way.

How's the sound?  Glad you asked.  I made a video:
You can hear a distinct "sharpness" in the Race system, while the Pro-Series has a "softer" note to it.  This can also be seen in the sound waveforms - the Race system having high, sharp peaks while the Pro-Series is more level through the waveform.  As far as volume goes, I have the Pro-Series running 15 discs (all that come with it) because I have the race ECM.  If I had the stock ECM, I'd run something like 12 and the volume would be a little quieter.  The volume between the two averages out to be the same: 87dB at idle, 95dB at 2,000rpm.  But, the race pipe has significantly higher peak volumes, so I'm thinking the Pro-Series will be better for full days in the saddle.

I prefer the sound of the race system, but both are pleasing to the ear.  I'm looking forward to getting a few more miles on the Pro-Series.
 
Figures that this blog doesn't get updated for days, and now I have at least three topics I want to cover.  I'm going to space these out over three posts, hopefully over three days to keep everyone adequately entertained.

So we'll kick off this little trifecta with an update on my MSF Rider Coach training.  Yesterday was a cold one, but I headed up North to meet with the owner of the school and a handful of other new coaches to learn (in my case) and practice (in their case) the demos that we'd have to run for the students.

I originally wanted to ride the bike up, but while the cold that morning wasn't particularly bothersome, the idea that it would eventually mix with rain was (and it did for the last hour we were on the bikes and for the entire drive home - good call), so I left the Buell on the battery tender and took the car instead.  The demos were harder to ride than I thought they'd be, likely more to do with my needing to break some poor/different habits as opposed to the actual difficulty of the exersize.  What was interesting to me was that one of the first riding demos we did involved weaving through cones, and I found this to be among the most difficult of the courses we ran.  Things eventually setlled in nicely, however, I'm sure in part to getting used to the bike (I was riding a Suzuki TU250 that was just begging for a set of clip ons) which is much smaller, lighter and slower to do anything than any other bike I've owned.  It was also hard to do a demo according to how they want to demonstrate a technique as opposed to how I'd accomplish the same thing using a different, possibly incorrect style of riding if I were on my own.

Overall, I found that I learned a lot.  I don't know that I've picked up any majorly new skills, but there were some little tips and tricks I was shown that I think will work into my personal riding very nicely to make my time in the saddle a little more consistant.  This is going to be a good, fun challenge to master these demos.

Next up on the agenda is a LOT of reading material and then taking the BRC Course (the course I'll be certified for) as a student during the weekend of April 20th.