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Photo Courtesy of MJRPhoto.net
I must apologize for taking SO long to write up a recap on this event, but I have two good excuses:

1) Some of the photos used in this post I had to wait to get from Mike at MJRPhoto.net (be sure to check out his site for a lot more shots), and...

2) I'm lazy.

But, the good news is I'm here now and committed to letting everyone know just how great this event was.

Friday Night

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Group Photo (courtesy of MJRPhoto.net)
Friday was the biggest day for folks getting into town.  Bobby and I met in Clifton Park and took the long way up, arriving in Lake George just before dinner time.  While checking into my motel, I saw Dave and the NJ crew rolling in with members from Long Island and the Hudson Valley as well.  We had a quick meet and greet in the parking lot of the Ft. William Henry where we hung up the banner, distributed t-shirts for those who bought them and checked out everyone's bikes.  This would turn out to be a rather small sampling of the number of people who would eventually show up.

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Dinner at King Neptunes (photo courtesy of MJRPhoto.net)
After the little schmooze session, it was off to King Neptune's to hang out and get some food and beer, and we all had plenty of both.  We more or less took over the back patio, forcing quiet couples to find someplace else to be all cute and crap.  After the sun went down, and we were still waiting for our food, Dave decided things were a little chilly outside so he carefully constructed a pile of napkins next to his chair and lit them on fire.

While we were there, more and more people strolled in, some expected and some not - one of them being a friend I hadn't seen to spoken to in years whom I knew from working at Gil's Garage when we were in high school and college.  Small world.

Eventually, the last two to show up that night were Rich and Drew, the former being my roommate for the weekend.  They had a late start and refused to take the slab in - kudos to them.

At this point, I walked Bobby back to my room to get his gear which was locked inside.  He lived in Saratoga so wasn't staying over in the Village.  The bar had emptied out and it was just 5 of us left when I took off, and I considered just heading to bed in preparation for the next day, but I decided to go back and have one more beer before calling it a night.

Well, let's just say that Rich was able ensure the night ended with Irish car bombs.  We were a bit hurting the next morning!  Everyone else having left, he and I ended up closing the place that night.

Saturday

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Getting ready to ride (photo courtesy of MJRPhoto.net)
Today was about RIDING.  Well, first it was about breakfast with Drew and Rich at the Pancake house, but after that it was about RIDING.  I don't know where everyone came from, but we had a TON of bikes show up Saturday morning, including Hammer and Liz who are more or less Hudson Valley Buelling Royalty.  Everyone kind of walked around and got to know each other for a while and decided on which ride they wanted to do.  In an effort to avoid a massive parade session through the mountains, Dave and I encouraged people to form small groups and ride that way.  We ended up having two separate groups that did the Big Lake Loop (myself leading one, and Dave leading the other) with about 7 or 8 bikes in each.  A little more than I wanted to lead, but we were blessed with having good riders who were ok with doing some miles that day.  I think there were at least another 7 or 8 bikes that did some of the shorter rides, and more still who just decided to hang around town.  Mike and I estimated afterwards that we probably had around 25 bikes show up - not bad!

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Our first gas stop in Ft. Ticonderoga
Everyone seemed to really enjoy the rides on Saturday, my group included, which was good news considering I hadn't pre-ridden any of the routes after making the route sheets.

Despite some slow moving cars and getting us a little lost, we had a great morning with picturesque scenery and fantastic roads.  The route took us through Keene Valley on our way to the summit of Whiteface Mountain, which is some of the prettiest roadside views in the entire Adirondack park.

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Our ride group at a stop just before Whiteface. Not pictured is Drew who took off ahead to test out the range on his communicator, and Mike who took the photo (photo courtesy of MJRPhoto.net)
After a quick stop to pee, it was a short 13-mile ride to the summit.  I felt a little guilty that it was a $10 toll to get up to the top, but once there it was clear that it was worth it and the guys seemed to agree.  We actually had caught up to Dave's group here, but wouldn't see them until we were back in town that night.

I have a few good shots from Whiteface, so I'll just put a little gallery here for your viewing pleasure:
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Riding down Whiteface (photo courtesy of MJRPhoto.net)
From here we took a quick ride down the mountain and into the next town for lunch at an A&W and a much-needed extended break, but not before Mike hung back to get this great shot of us heading down the mountain.

From here it was a lot of great scenery, slow drivers mixed in among some fantastic roads and a gas stop here and there.  The grand finale of the ride was hitting Rt 8 between Brant Lake and Lake George, and then also having a second shot at Rt 9N into the the village, which was ruined by a slow driver that morning.  Not so this time!

We made it back into town around dinner time after 280 miles or so.  Most of our larger group decided on dinner at the Adirondack Brew Pub, but a smaller group of us elected to get some Pizza at Capri instead and met up with them later.  Turns out this was a good decision as the food and service seemed to be sub-par at the Brew Pub.

But that wasn't going to ruin our day as there was beer to be drunk and crap to give away.  Dave had scored some "sponsorships" for this shindig and had a t-shirt, two gas cards, a battery tender and the banner to give away.

Back to Neptune's for a long-drawn out bullshit session and bragging about stories of awesome rides and fantastic crashes.  It was an earlier night than expected for all, but a fantastic time none-the-less.

Sunday

Sunday was another morning started at the Pancake House, but we managed to have a much larger group this time.  After that we all hung out in the parking lot of the Ft. William Henry long enough to say goodbye and get people set up on good routes to head home.  Everyone had pretty much taken off by noon save for Rich, Drew and I.  We headed back to our room, packed the bikes up and I rode with the two of them through VT into Bennington since it was more or less on my way home, anyway.

Overall, I don't think we could have been happier with how this event turned out.  We had perfect weather, no squids, no wrecks, no tickets (but a close call!), or breakdowns.

I want to give special thanks to those from the Hudson Valley crew to planted the seed for this idea.  Thanks to Dave for doing so much of the legwork on getting the word out and supplying t-shirts, banners and bonfires.  Thank to Mike from MJRPhoto.net for taking time out of his ride to get some really great shots.  Last but not least, a big thanks to everyone who was able to make it and make this a really great time for everyone.

There seemed to be a strong sentiment to do this again next year, so stay tuned!

For now, I need to go scrape all of the bugs off the bike...
 
Bear with me on this post as I'm trying out a new app to be able to do this entirely from my phone...
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Together for the last time...
Last weekend was my last ride on the Buell. I left around 9:00am and headed for Maryland to drop it off to David, the new owner. The first half of the ride was very bittersweet, thinking of all of the memories on the S3T and how much I would miss it.

The second half, however, reminded me of all the reasons I decided to buy the Sprint, haha. I was feeling much better about my decision once I got to my destination, despite any affinity I still have for the Buell.

Once I arrived to David's house, the riding didn't stop. Out of his impressive collection of now 11 motorcycles, among them were three which he so graciously allowed me to sample.

I apologize for the lack of photos, I did take some but they are gone from my phone for some reason.

The first was a Triumph Thruxton - classically cool looking machine that was almost alarmingly heavy-handling, but I'll be damned if the noise that came out of those twin arrow mufflers wasn't a hoot, making the bike a blast to ride.
Next up (I'm doing these out of order intentionally) was likely one of the rarest bikes I've ridden to date - a 1997 Moto Guzzi V1100 Sport. It handles just like what you'd expect a 90's era hand built Italian sportbike should(well, that is), with a tractor of an engine mounted the wrong way, tossing you off the side of the bike every time you blipped the throttle. Totally cool
The last, but certainly not least sampling was David's mint and tastefully carbon-ized Buell S1. I've never ridden a bike that was such a kick to the chest as this one and I loved it. So much, in fact, that at the moment an example of one is the strongest contender for an eventual second bike in my garage. More importantly, it also affirmed in my mind that I like it as a tuber better than my S3, another tid bit that helped to comfort my decision to sell it in the first place.
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Nice toilet paper!
After riding it was a night of Russian beer, home made margaritas, lamb chops, bratwurst and Star Trek. A good and very late night.
The next day was a wake up to blueberry waffles made by David's girlfriend (I always seem to eat well on Buell trips...), some quick goodbyes and off to the airport to get the rental car and drive home. Washington DC, as it turns out, is a giant PITA to get out of if you're heading north. I think my GPS overheated!
So now, with the Buell but a memory taking up the empty space and disconnected battery tender lead in my garage, my attention is turned entirely to the shiny, new bit of English engineering, and I have a few new things for it.
First up is I wired up the GPS to the bike permanently on the switched power source that was originally intended for the factory heated grips.
Next was the install of some GenMar bar risers (I got mine off of eBay). An inch higher doesn't feel like much sitting on the bike, but going down the road it helped with wrist pressure a lot. As an added bonus, it moved my head just enough to get it into smooth air, so I may not need to do anything with the windscreen.
Skipping around a bit, last week I installed my Tank Slapper tank protector - it's as invisible as anything could be and offers much more protection than a typical tank guard. Install took a few tries just to get it positioned well, but the process itself was very easy.
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Look carefully, it's there
The biggest change to the bike was mounting my Givi top case. Yes, it's very ugly, but it's equally as useful in both cargo capacity and a makeshift backrest for the misses. The model I have is a bit dated, but it holds 2 full face helmets or my work laptop perfectly.
Besides that, I did the first service as well as adjusting the throttle and clutch cables which has made shifting and braking much smoother.
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Quick mock up, all geared up for a long trip.
That's all for now - a couple other goodies on the way that I'll post up once I have them.
 
Well, with a new bike comes the need to make it your own, so why wait.
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First thing's first, the little plastic clips that connected the straps which hold pannier lids from swinging down are junk and let go if you look at them funny, crashing my nice painted sidecase lid into the muffler or the swingarm, depending on which side of the bike you happen to be on.  Neither of, which by the way, are made out of pillow and pixie farts, so a little reminder is left of what happened.  The remedy was a simple one - $1.97 spent at the hardware store to get a pair of those threaded master link chain deals and now I have fail-safe measures to keep those lips where they're supposed to be.

Next up is the tank protector.  I picked up a clear one at the dealership when I bought the bike and while it looked okay there, it looks like hell, now.  It's not sticking well and I know it will get all dirty under there, so off it will be coming in favor of a Tank Slapper unit.  The Tank Slapper uses a clear 3M vinyl, but unlike typical adhesive-backed vinyl, this stuff is actually removable and reusable and costs less.  It will also cover the back and sides of the tank for total protection from belt buckle and legs/knees.

Electrical accessories are the new black it seems, and thankfully Triumph doesn't leave you stranded with options.  There are 4, yes FOUR accessory outlets on the bike for your charging pleasure.  The first is a Powerlet plug behind the side fairing near your left knee which is always on.  The second is a 2-pin plug under the seat which is switched and there are two more 2-pin plugs behind the front fairing, one switched and one not.  The plugs come with a male "blank", so a few bucks spent on pins and grommets and I can make working connectors out of them.  The two switched units will be for my GPS and heated gear controller while the two unswitched plugs will be left alone for now.

Speaking of GPS, I picked up a pretty slick Ram mount ball which will replace one of the clip-on mount bolts and put the screen in the perfect location for me.

And speaking of handlebars, I also picked up a set of GenMar bar risers which will bring things closer by about an inch.  I may keep them on, I may not, won't know until I try it, though.

Last but not least will be installing a Givi mounting plate for my top case.  It's actually kind of a shame - the stock luggage rack is rather nice looking, and I was trying to conjure up ways to keep from covering it up or drilling holes in it, but it's just barely too small to mount the Givi lugs directly to it.  There is a aluminum rack you can get that saves from drilling holes, but it's prohibitively expensive comared to the $60 universal plate that I scored on Craigslist for $15.

I think that's it for now, I'll try to remember to post photos up as I do things for your viewing pleasure.
 
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.

 
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.