“Laos on Two Wheels” in Forbes Life Magazine

I found this article recently in Forbes Life Magazine. It’s written by Finn Olaf-Jones, who occasionally writes for the magazine

The article has a bit of a weird writing style to it, which I think may partly be due to compressing such an incredible and different experience into a short column for a magazine. In his retelling, Olaf-Jones includes descriptions of the culture gap, the exotic foods, and then of course the adventures that come with site seeing from atop a motorcycle and the added element of being in a Southeast Asian country. These included what actually sounded like 2 very major accidents involving his companions. I think my favorite bit of the story is their using little 250cc motorcycles for the trip as it reminded me of my own experience riding a 125cc motorcycle in Yangshuo, China. It may have been a small bike, but in my opinion, there really is no better way to experience travel than from a motorcycle.

Check out the article here

“How Engines Work” Diagrams

Here are some great diagrams that Brent recently found illustrating the mechanics of the main engine types:

4 stroke engine

4 stroke with explanation

2 stroke engine

Multiple cylinder 4 stroke

Brent has been recently working towards getting certified in motorcycle repair and so has been picking up some pretty interesting stuff. After my trip around the U.S. and thoughts towards future plans, I’ve also started to become interested in learning a little more about how the machine that’s taken me so far actually works. So this was Brent’s most recent response to my piquing interest.

 

Long Term Storage Tip: Fuel Injection System

For those of us that have to put our bikes away for a long winter (or even longer as is the case for me), it’s good to make sure you’ve fully prepared your bike for the extended period of inactivity. We’ve already written some posts on the subject which can be found on the maintenance section of our website, here.

I found out another new trick for my new bike since the Dyna Wide Glide is fuel injected as opposed to my old ’06 Sportster which was carbureted. The idea of this is that you want to get that little bit of fuel out of the system since it’s not good to have it just sit there. So the first step is to locate the fuse box on your bike. On the ’05 Dyna Wide Glide, you can find this on the left side. I used a hex key to get the box off and then on the inside of the cover you should be able to find a map of the fuses (telling you which controls which bike part). Use this to locate the fuse for the fuel injection system. This will effectively turn off the system so it will no longer pump out fuel. On my Dyna, the fuse was the second on the far left (make sure you check this with the fuse map though). Once the fuse is out, go ahead and turn on the bike. You’ll know if you took out the right fuse if you don’t hear that familiar buzzing/humming sound that you usually hear when you turn on the power, because that’s the your bike pumping fuel to get the bike started.

So if you hear that sound, go back and make sure you’ve got the right fuse. Once you don’t hear it anymore, you can start the engine. It should start up and run for a few seconds before cutting out. It’s cutting out because there’s no more power to send fuel to the engine and you’ve drained what’s left in the pipe. Start it up one more time just to be sure, and this time it should cut out almost immediately.

And there you go! Now you can put the fuse back in and the cover back on. One more good tip for storage is to get the tires off the ground if at all possible to help preserve them better. And make sure to check out our website for other tips including tips for fuel additive, chains, and oil.

Tip: Clean Melted Rubber from Exhaust Pipe

This is a useful tip for anyone who’s ever accidentally touched the rubber on their shoe, rain pants, or any other meltable material to their burning hot motorcycle pipes. I had actually done both my boots and rain pants as I wasn’t quite used to the location of the pipes on my new bike. At first, it seemed to be a real pain to get off, seemingly impossible actually but I eventually found out a neat, and very simple tip on how to get it off. All you need is some super fine steel wool, and that’s not just a hyperbole but look for the finest steel wool in your local hardware store. They’re measured with zeros, the more zeros, the finer the wool, #0000 being “super fine.” Then a little elbow grease as you work to scrub it off and you should be good. I recommend using gloves as you scrub as the steel can really get under your skin. The fineness will protect the chrome from being scraped up, but to really help the pipe look good as new (or to help clean up the scrapes from previous failed cleaning attempts… whoops!), pick up some chrome/metal polish. I bought Simichrome Polish by Happich which they say works for virtually any metal so pretty useful to have around anyway.

The Beginning is the End is the Beginning

(To start from the beginning of my trip 8,600 miles by motorcycle and 600 miles by foot around the U.S., click here to read the first post)

On my last night in Toronto, one of my friends asked for a “quote from the road.” Of course, I had had plenty of time to do lots of thinking throughout the 2 months of my trip, alone with my own thoughts for so much time, but I never really thought about it in a way to put it into just a single quote.  The final couple days of driving  really got me to think on everything, and now that (yesterday) I’ve put Eowyn, my faithful ’05 Dyna Wide Glide that traveled the full 8,600 miles around the country with me, away in storage for the next two years, it seems like a good time to put it all into writing.

Overall, it was an amazing trip. I spent two months, on a day-to-day basis being constantly blown away by the beauty of the United States (and, briefly, Canada). I went from the skyscrapers of New York City, through the Shenandoah Mountains, to the winding Tail of the Dragon in the Smokeys, to New Orleans, through bayous, ranch lands, cacti, deserts, southern California mountains, San Diego, the Pacific Ocean, resort beach towns, the ocean hugging cliffs and farmlands of central and northern California, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Redwood Forest, an incredible hike on the PCT in Washington which included weeks of rain, near death experiences, fights with mice, and complete isolation in the mountains, the brittle cold but awe-inspiring beauty of Montana, flatlands in Wyoming, Sturgis, SD and Mount Rushmore, St. Paul, MN, congestion in the mid-west, Toronto, Niagara wine country, the rolling hills of the Catskills at the peak of their autumn colors, and, finally, back to New York City.

The really crazy thing about this trip is that the idea for it as it eventually materialized was only fully conceived as such about a month before I actually hit the road. A lot happened that changed my plans, and there were plenty of times, as I was hiking through the mountains or riding on my bike, where I just had a huge grin on my face at the thought of how incredibly things all came together. This is what the Rubber on Road motto means to me: “I never get lost because I don’t know where I’m going.” If you just go along through life without forcing anything, but allow situations to unfold in the way that they seem to naturally want to go, you’ll never find yourself in the “wrong” place.

This trip for me was less about learning something new and more about confirming and solidifying what I was already starting to believe. Throughout life, you’re constantly faced with choices, forks in the road, and I’ve found that the trick to going down that road is that when you have to make those choices, take the path where you won’t have any regrets and then, just don’t look back. There’s very rarely a perfect path, without any downside, but you can always walk through life knowing that you’ve moved forward. Things don’t always work out how you expect or even how you would’ve liked, but they do always work out the way they’re supposed to. Sometimes it’s the next day that you see this, sometimes the next week, and sometimes it can be a year or years later, but as long as you look back confident that you made the best decision you could have and have moved forward as a result, you’ll eventually see how perfectly everything did work out.

There have been certain decisions in my life that I have questioned before reminding myself of this. But when I was on my motorcycle or hiking, I couldn’t help but look back on everything that led to this and see that this was exactly how everything was supposed to work out and how happy it had made me not regretting anything. In 5 months, I graduated from University, got a job in Beijing, got trapped on a mountain, swam in an alpine lake, travelled around 25 states, visiting 6 major North American cities, watching the leaves change colors as I went through 3 different seasons, had my heart broken by a girl 5 months after I’d broken hers, said goodbye to life long friends, and made some amazing new ones. Sometimes things can look really crappy, whether it’s depression, exhaustion, heartbreak, being stuck in rain for a week and a half, or fighting off mice from your tent, but as long as you feel no regrets about the choices that you made to get there or the ones you’ll make going forward, you’ll get out of it, and you’ll find yourself being happier than ever. The only regrets in life are those you feel when mistakes are made, and the only mistakes are the ones you don’t learn from, so live a life with no regrets and enjoy it all because every bit along the way is just part of the adventure.