Wednesday, 16 December 2009

A call to action for the Muslim community, maybe it is time to turn the gaze inward and answer the call to do what needs to be done. An excellent Op-Ed from the NYT, some samples below but follow the link for the whole piece.
clipped from
Let’s not fool ourselves. Whatever threat the real Afghanistan poses to U.S. national security, the “Virtual Afghanistan” now poses just as big a threat. The Virtual Afghanistan is the network of hundreds of jihadist Web sites that inspire, train, educate and recruit young Muslims to engage in jihad against America and the West.

“What Muslims were talking about last week were the minarets of Switzerland, not the killings of people in Iraq or Pakistan,” noted Mamoun Fandy, a Middle East expert at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London. “People look for red herrings when they don’t want to look inward, when they don’t want to summon the moral courage to produce the counter-fatwa that would say: stabilizing Iraq is an Islamic duty and bringing peace to Afghanistan is part of the survival of the Islamic umma,” or community.

They aspire to, are able to and must be challenged to take responsibility for their world
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Sunday, 15 November 2009

One telling similarity between the the Wehrmacht and the US Military

A very interesting insight into the how effective the US military is at doing the wrong thing, as Fabius Maximus says "From a larger perspective this article shows how the 21st century US military is locked into a historically common trap. No matter how good, it remains harnessed to US elites’ geopolitical thinking " poorly reasoned, emotional (ruled by hubris and fear). Our military apparatus consistently provides professional, smooth execution of bad strategy. We do the wrong thing, but brilliantly."

Some clips below but follow the links for the full article.
Our military apparatus consistently provides professional, smooth execution of bad strategy.   We do the wrong thing, but brilliantly.
America seems now to have taken this German error and extended it. The present American way of war assumes that superiority at the tactical (or perhaps merely technical) level, manifested in high technology, will overcome massive failures at the strategic and moral levels
It would be an historical oddity if the United States, having failed to copy the Germans in what they got right, instead duplicated what they got wrong. In view of the almost lighthearted military optimism that currently prevails in Washington, one cannot help remembering Marx’s comment about history occurring as tragedy, then repeating itself as farce.
What was the contribution of money vs. force?
 More importantly and revealingly, it is a question seldom asked — as it conflicts with the dominant victory narrative.
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Saturday, 14 November 2009

Going Green the Brammo Way

How would you like to save at least $2000 a year in fuel (estimated at the average US car making 17mpg and the average commute of 32 miles)? While using a vehicle that costs only $10 a year to travel the same distance! You could also reduce your carbon footprint by 27% and your transportation footprint by 93%! Not too bad eh?

Well, have you heard of the Brammo Enertia Powercycle? Well it is basically an electric motorcycle and the people at Brammo have just come up with a fun tool to help show you the possible savings of going green. To give it a try just CLICK HERE and hopefully learn some interesting facts on the way.

Below is a video showing the Brammo Enertia Powercycle in action

I have got to admit, for the average commuter they have many plus points. Personally I would like to see a small screen, slightly better range from the battery and lose the chain for a belt instead...but even as it is I would be very tempted. Though I see these being much more popular in areas where you do not need to ride in rain gear all year round (here in Ireland a case in point).

Keep up the great work Brammo, this is certainly a move in the right direction.

As always, keep the rubber side down.

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Wednesday, 11 November 2009

EU citizens' initiative raises political and legal headaches

The EU has opened the door to direct democracy to the citizens of member states but are making sure there are enough limits in place not to let them get out of control. Time will tell if this becomes what it should be for the citizens or a tool for interest groups.
clipped from

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - Hailed as the EU's first real step towards direct democracy, a right contained in the new Lisbon Treaty allowing EU citizens to ask the European Commission to initiate a law is shaping up to be a political and legal minefield.

The wording of the 'citizens initiative' article requires one million signatures from EU citizens for the commission to consider a legislative proposal, but its implementation throws up practical problems.

The commission proposes giving itself wiggle room for repeated petitions on issues it does not want to follow up, noting that "disincentives or time limits" could prevent "successive presentations of the same request."

EU communications commissioner Margot Wallstrom has in the past predicted the tool will be "used immediately" by citizens, noting that it will be "the better if it causes some problems for the commission" as it will bring the institution more into contact with ordinary people and what they are looking for from the EU.

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UK is now spelt C-H-I-N-A

The UK government is moving in leaps and bounds to becoming the most repressive state in Europe. Already they have the most comprehensive DNA database of citizens in the world (it has taken an EU court ruling to restrict the holding of innocent citizens DNA to 6 years) now they will be monitoring and storing every call, text, email and website a citizen visits. Sad times, shame this news did not come out of the 5th of November...
clipped from

Every phone call, text message, email and website visit made by private
citizens is to be stored for a year and will be available for monitoring by
government bodies.

All telecoms companies and internet service providers will be required by law
to keep a record of every customer’s personal communications, showing who
they have contacted, when and where, as well as the websites they have

The Home Office admitted that only one third of respondents to its six-month
consultation on the issue supported its proposals, with 50 per cent fearing
that the scheme lacked sufficient safeguards to protect the highly personal
data from abuse.

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, has criticised the
amount the scheme will cost for what he said is effectively “state spying”.

John Yates, Britain’s head of anti-terrorism, has argued that the legislation
is vital for his investigators.

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Friday, 6 November 2009

The Enemy Within

Yesterday a Major in the US army perpetrated the worse terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11, with 12 dead and 31 wounded. Some links about the event:

* US Army major behind Fort Hood murders expressed sympathy for Islamic terrorists
* About the killing in Texas and is the US Army broken?
* Fort Hood Attack the largest on US soil since 9/11

From the above there is an argument that this is more of a case of 'SJS' (Sudden Jihad Syndrome), but we can also see that this individual had reservations about serving in Iraq and has made this clear persistently over the last several years. Even warranting an FBI investigation 6 months ago towards his apparent support for suicide terrorists.

Most would agree that the key defence against acts of terrorism with national borders are well designed homeland security initiatives and intelligence (essentially tight border controls and surveillance of 'high-risk' individuals). From the above initial reports emerging after this event I find myself asking how many more signs do the intelligence services need, especially as 'profiling' seems to be at the top of most policy makers wish-lists when it comes to counter-terrorism measures?

Maybe this will simply become a case of SJS, but from what I have read so far this was wholly preventable and should have been acted on. I can not find the link now, but I am aware of US veterans from Iraq supplying IED to gangs in the USA, this is a criminal act and not terrorism but we can see how there are sufficient numbers of very skilled people within the USA now capable of supplying these devices. The killing of the radical Iman in Detroit has also sparked threats of retaliation from certain quarters.

Do we now see the possible emergence of an insurgency at home? People like this Major and the Iman will be portrayed as martyr's for the cause, the tools to wage the war are easily available while most can see Obama's hesitancy at committing forces to the conflict zones, maybe an well orchestrated domestic campaign will prove the tipping point?

Of course these are just observations and opinions on my part, but if I am thinking it, others must be too.


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Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Grading Obama

"After U.S. President Barack Obama's first 100 days in office, Foreign Policy asked a group of experts to grade him on everything from North Korea to nukes. On the anniversary of his historic election, we've reprised the experiment -- and found out that the White House isn't doing so well." - FP
The As
"In the next
year, Obama's final grade will depend on such issues as his decisions on
Afghanistan and how he handles an Iran that refuses to live up to its
commitments. But if the past is prologue, he should do well."
The Bs

"Progress has
been evolutionary, not revolutionary, because U.S. policy is rooted in national
interests that do not change dramatically with a change in the occupant of the
White House."

"While the
administration cannot be blamed for the mess it inherited, it as of yet offers
no real strategy for the future."

The Cs

"The Obama
appeal? It is fading fast."

The Ds

"It seems almost a cheap shot to give the president
low marks on a foreign policy that is so obviously failing."

"The president's
UN general assembly speech presented the problem: Obama positioned himself
above the nation, mediating between us and the world, his job to restrain
America's ugly aggressive instincts and apologize for past crimes. No wonder
friends and allies wonder where this all leads."
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Sunday, 1 November 2009

2010 Kawasaki Concours 14 First Ride

"But the big story this year are those touring improvements. Are they enough to vault the Concours ahead of its class? Well, the Kawasaki has certainly gained ground on its competition. At $14,599 in base form and $15,299 for the ABS/TC version we sampled, it delivers a lot for the pricetag (A comparably equipped BMW K1300GT with heated grips and ASC (Anti Slip Control), for example, is well over $20K.) The new Connie is also possibly the best looking sport-tourer out there, available for 2010 in Candy Neptune Blue and Flat Super Black.

One thing is certain, Kawasaki took a great bike, listened to its customers, and then made the bike even better. Sounds like a winning formula to us." ~Bart Madson

Kawasaki scored a hit when it re-built its sport-touring flagship around the ZX-14 motor and dubbed it the Concours 14. Debuting as a 2008 model, the sharp-looking C14 leaned heavy on the sport side of the ledger with incredible performance from its 1352cc Inline-Four. However, the overall touring package needed refinement and Kawasaki delivers with a reinvigorated 2010 model.
Breaking the rear loose on a 140 horsepower  700-lb motorcycle... Even with the outriggers the brain had trouble accepting the idea -2010 Kawasaki Concours 14The KTRC system engaged  the 2010 Kawasaki Concours 14 handled the wet skid plate in stride  with no noticeable slip.
Turn the KTRC off and it's time to slip and slide, but turn it on and steady as she goes in the wet.
The point of Kawasaki’s first TC system isn’t to push the limits, like a roadracing application, but to add traction on suspect surfaces.
The Little Things Doth a Tourer Make
An all-new fairing was designed to increase cooling air flow for the motor and a lower sheild seals off the previous engine heat from riders legs - especially on the right side.A heat shield on the exhaust further aids rider protection from engine heat.
A redesigned fairing and exhaust cap improve the previous complaint of engine heat
blasting on the riders leg - the worst on the right shin at idle.
Heated grips as a standard feature is a huge plus  and the 2010 Kawasaki Concours 14 grips heat up well with an adjustable knob.The control panel looks the same but accessing information on the LCD can now be controlled by a left-side Mode Select Button.
Heated grips added a tangible, twistable creature comfort and information at the
instrument console is easier to shuffle through thanks to a left-side info trigger switch.
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Monday, 19 October 2009

Buell Back?

With any luck we may see a return of Buell, but if not a H-D company then I am not sure how soon we will see access to the new company. Hopefully a deal will be struck for distribution purposes...I can only hope. Details are provided below by;
clipped from

Buell linked to takeover bid

American businessmen to meet with Erik Buell with view to keeping production alive

A GROUP OF American businessmen are looking to take over the Buell name and keep motorcycle production going, following Harley-Davidson's shock announcement last week that the company is to be axed.
The Walworth County Economic Development Alliance has formed a team of officials from the Village of East Troy, Walworth County Board and East Troy Chamber of Commerce, according to an economic development alliance news release.
The company's factory and HQ is currently based at East Troy, Wisconsin. It's reported the takeover bid would see production kept at the plant, which employs around 170 people.
Reports say, the team is planning to meet with company founder Erik Buell with a view to saving the defunct business.
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Friday, 16 October 2009

Buell Blues

Well, here is a link to the official sign off from Buell motorcycles, in it they state that production will cease by October 30th but Buell motorcycle owners will continue to be looked after by Harley...

BUELL OFFICIALS THANK CUSTOMERS, DEALERS AND EMPLOYEES FOR UNFORGETTABLE RIDE | News | Buell MotorcyclesInformation about the Buell Motorcycle Company in East Troy, Wisconsin, including career opportunities, factory tours, and company news.

I take some comfort from this:

Buell Chairman and Chief Technical Officer Erik Buell. “I personally look forward to exploring how I can continue to work with Harley-Davidson to bring advanced product technology to riders.

Hopefully Erik will be back producing motorcycles soon...I live in hope.

Keep the rubber side down.

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Thursday, 15 October 2009

Buell is Dead

If you follow the links below you will find out the bad news that is just emerging... Buell motorcycles are no more.

MCN has the story by CLICKING HERE

While following the link below should take you to the Buell website and a video from Erik Buell himself explaining what has happened

Buell MotorcyclesManufacturer of American sportbikes such as the Buell 1125R, 1125CR, XB Firebolt, Lightning and Ulysses motorcycles. Founded by Erik Buell.
Check it out at Buell Motorcycles

Personally, this is a blow for myslef. After riding since the age of 17 Buell has been the only manufacturer I have really bonded with and was looking forward to owning and riding this brand for many more years to come. I await to hear more news while I will be talking to my H-D dealer to find out what this means in terms of ownership.

Keep the rubber side down.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Motorcycle Insurance in Ireland - The Twists & Turns

Buell Ulysses XB12XT 006Image by victor9098 via Flickr

Searching or renewing motorcycle insurance anywhere can be something of an art, while here in Ireland it has always been difficult due to the limited choices available to us. For a long time only one company was willing to insure new riders while the other two could wait rubbing their hands for when you wanted to upgrade to larger capacity machines.

So with it being renewal time for me I did the usual of setting aside an afternoon to start making phone calls, waiting for call-backs and the usual silliness that goes with all this. Having to read out your details letter by letter to people over the phone is never fun, doing that time and time again just leaves me annoyed. So for quick summary this is who I called and what for.

Basically I am trying to get fully comprehensive insurance for my Buell Ulysses XB12XT, 4 years no claims, full licence (unrestricted) and then all the unique questions each company likes to surprise you with. They all offered legal and breakdown cover, so this is what I ended up with;

Carole Nash - Web: Click Here, Phone: 1800 818 751
Offered me €1,170 with a €650 excess

Aon - Web: Click Here, Phone: 1890 777 555
Offered me €900 but did not ask about excess

Quinn Direct - Web: Click Here, Phone: 1890 891 890
Offered me €889 with €650 excess

Arachas - Web: Click Here, Phone: 01 213 5000
Offered me €729 with €250 excess

Adelaide - Web: Click Here, Phone: 048 9033 0151
Offered me €635 with €250 excess

So, if you have not guessed I went with Adelaide insurance in the end, a saving of almost 50% when compared to Carole Nash's offer. The deal they offered ticked all the boxes and they offer the exact same cover as all the others. Of course the only real test of an insurer comes when you find yourself needing their services. That is why I could not renew with Quinn this year since they left me out in the cold when I needed them earlier this year. Well, I told them as much and they had every opportunity to put things right so now I will speak with my wallet and go to another insurer. I take some comfort in knowing that Adelaide was voted the UK's favourite motorcycle broker in the 2008 Rider Power survey.

With that all finally sorted I will be able to keep the rubber side down without worrying that my insurer will do everything they can to slither out of supporting a customer.

As always, keep the rubber side down.

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Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Announcing Ubuntu 10.04 LTS: The Lucid Lynx

Here we go again! The next release of Ubuntu is on the way and it is a Long Term Support version too, 10.04: The Lucid Lynx! I would not expect to see huge difference between that and Karmic Koala due out on October 29th as stability is key in these LTS releases. So maybe a much more polished a refined version of 9.10, I can not are some clips from the official news release;
clipped from

We are now giving a name to the next Ubuntu LTS: The Lucid Lynx.

LTS releases are maintained for five years on the server and three years on the desktop
Our focus will be stabilisation and bug-fixing across the platform with additional refinements in quality in key areas such as user interface improvements, boot experience, browsing and installing the incredible catalogue of software available for Ubuntu, and continuing our tradition of best-of-breed hardware support
It’s stylish and sleek, the bow-tie-adorned James Bond of the feline set, so you can bet we’ll make sure it’s dressed for the occasion. The lynx likes to keep things in perspective, sticking to high ground
Speed is an essential ingredient in the attack of a lynx, and speed remains our goal.
for 10 second booting with Lucid.
community that continues to devote itself to the goal of bringing the best stable free software to an audience of people who don’t think of themselves as computer specialists – and shouldn’t have to, either
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Thursday, 17 September 2009

Playing with the Karmic Koala (UNR, Alpha 5)

Well I waited and waited but I finally decided to take the plunge and download the the current development version of Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR, 9.10, Alpha 5). So now after about a day of playing and tweaking with it what do I think so far?

Well first off I downloaded the torrent from the Ubuntu testing site. Once the download was over I used the 'USB Startup Disk Creator' to turn a 4GB USB key into a Live CD. After backing-up all the data on my Advent 4211 I inserted the USB key and rebooted. When the Advent welcome screen comes up you just hold F11 briefly then you are given the choice of where to boot from, in this case my USB key, then you are led to the options screen.

The Old:Ubuntu 9.04 UNR Jaunty Jackalope

Here you can test your USB key to make sure it is complete and not corrupted in any way. Then choose to install straight away or give a try in a Live CD environment, which means you get to use Ubuntu but it is running from the USB key, nothing is installed so your current system is safe. I choose the Live CD to see if it would even run. Hit a snag straight away as the computer just refused to boot. I tested everything and retried several times then it worked. No idea why, I did nothing but either way we got to the Live CD environment.

This new version of UNR has refreshed the look of UNR since 9.04. Gone is the places/folders sidebar on the right and now it is just a button on the left. The whole thing looks more polished, feel smoother and everything responds quicker. I continued with the install. This again is slightly better looking and more fluid. You are quickly through the process. As usual I manually partition my hard-drive and include a '/' (approx 10GB), 'swap' (approx 2GB) and '/home' (the remaining space) partitions. This means my home drive can survive from one fresh install to another (though I still ALWAYS back-up). Also you are given the option to encrypt your home folder during the installation process now. After all that I continued with the install.

Screenshot from Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala Alpha 5, UNR

Ubuntu now has these information screens that tell you all about it's snazzy features as you wait for the installation process to complete. Being Ubuntu the install does not take long and you are soon rebooting into your brand new operating system.

Straight away you notice the changes, though each time it boots at the moment I always see lines of code, but we are still only in Alpha territory so hopefully this will be gone soon enough. The login screen has changed too, once past that I was staring at the Karmic Koala in all its glory. Though at the moment it is still a bit sick as there were about 350-400mb worth of updates to get. So I began that straight away to get the system as stable as possible.

After that was all done I moved onto installing all my favourite programmes and repos to get Karmic Koala feeling more familiar. A very good place to start with this is Eva's useful guide to Ubuntu 9.04, note that some of the repos referenced here are for Jaunty, but a quick google will find you the precise repos who need.

Screenshot from Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala Alpha 5, UNR

Also for appearance I am a big fan of the Human O2 icon theme, the repos for this can be found by CLICKING HERE. I noted that the Ubuntu Human Theme was not installed as standard so had to select it in synaptic.

There have been bugs and programmes crashing since the install. Ubuntu now offers a very easy way to report these, a little box pops up, compiles the report, you have the option of sending a full or a short (for slower internet connections) then you press send! Firefox even opens up and brings you to Launchpad to complete the report process. You may find, like me, that these bugs have already been reported and fixes already on the way. I have found that which each set of updates that trickle down the system gets more stable. I have not had anything crash now for several hours. The best thing to note though is that I have only seen crashes in Alphas of Ubuntu, the final release versions are usually solid.

So all in all I am very pleased with this new install. The removal of the right hand bar means that your folders are now two clicks away instead of one, but that is something I can learn to live with. The look I think is better, it is much easier to see everything, everything feels smoother, more responsive and everything is working relatively well. The Alpha 6 I believe is due for release today, then followed by the Beta, then a Release Candidate and then the Final Release on October 29th.

Screenshot from Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala Alpha 5, UNR

Which reminds me, look out for Ubuntu Release Parties in and around October 29th in your area. There will be other Ubuntu users giving out copies of the latest release and will be happy to help you out with any snags you may have. I went to my first in Dublin for the Jaunty Jackalope release, it was a great experience even though I turned out to be the only non-IT employed person there... effectively a civilian. Though much of what they talked about was above my head, I was the only person with a fully set-up UNR, so it became a popular attraction and a source of many questions. I will certainly be back for the October event. Details will be published here.

Right now I will go back to tweaking and messing with UNR Karmic Koala to see if I can break anything and let the very clever people at Launchpad know. By the looks of it though, they are on the right track. The Karmic Koala will certainly live up to its name.

Ubuntu, Linux for human beings.

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Saturday, 5 September 2009

Using Protection: Buell & Touratech

Well it is about time I started using some protection while riding the mistress, but until some warranty issues were resolved regarding the Buell's exhaust everything was on hold. Though after speaking to my local H-D dealer (Dublin Harley-Davidson) they were kind enough to take in my Buell Ulysses XB12XT while I toured the USA for a month over July/August (more on that in future posts), they preferred this as it allowed them to do the work in their own time. Once this was all done I could get on to adding that much desired protection. The dealer carried out the following warranty work;

-> EMC replaced (due to fault)
-> Exhaust replaced (due to corrosion and then new one camcoated)
-> LED for alarm (had not worked since wiring loom replaced)

Buell Touratech Protection
Camcoated Exhaust

In previous posts I had mentioned that I had ordered some parts from Touratech, these had been sitting on a shelf in my garage since May as I was waiting for the exhaust to be replaced. So naturally the very next day after getting the Buell home I was straight into the garage to fit the new parts to the bike. Note also that earlier in the year I replaced the existing front mudguard with a carbon fibre front fender and carbon fibre upper front fender from Trojan Horse, in the same style as the standard Ulysses (XB12X). I prefer the upper/lower mudguard appearance and the carbon gives the bike an stylish looking front. So the parts to be fitted from Touratech were:

-> Large engine guard Buell XB12X Ulysses
-> Small engine guard Buell XB12X Ulysses
-> Protector for oil filter Buell XB12X Ulysses
-> Oil cooler protection Buell XB12X Ulysses

Buell Touratech Protection
The Touratech Parts

The Touratech parts seem to be of very good quality and they supply all the fittings required. The instructions could be a bit clearer, but they provide enough information and a bit of common sense will get you through the process easily. The first thing that needs doing is the removal of the spoiler. Note that in the photos below you can see the new camcoated exhaust.

Buell Touratech Protection
The Large Engine Guard

Fitting the large engine guard is straight forward. You need to assemble some mounting parts within it first, then it just slides up and into position. When you place it into position do not tighten everything up just yet, also at this stage the oil filter protector can be fitted. This is just a matter of fixing one screw, a cable-tie can also be used to further secure this.

Buell Touratech Protection
Small Engine Guard and Oil Cooler Protector

Next the small engine guard is fitted to the front of the exhaust/engine. Now this is slightly more complicated as the mounting bracket for the top of the guard requires some trial and error to get it just right. Hence some tightening and readjusting will be required. Assembly of the various bits could be made clearer in the instructions, but that is my only complaint regarding the entire process. Once I was happy with the location of everything it was all tightened up.

Finally the oil cooler protector was attached, this was the simplest to do as all it requires is two nuts to secure. All done in a matter on minutes! With that I just rechecked all the other fittings and tightened them all up. Then time for mandatory brew and to sit back to admire the work done.

I have been for a few rides with the new parts fitted and all seems to be going well. Have checked the nuts have not loosened up while the large engine guard has already proved its worth as I came around a bend to find a particularly bad pothole in the road. Sat the bike up but could not avoid the whole...and felt a 'touch down'. Getting back to the garage and having a look under the bike the guard had indeed been scraped, probably saving my freshly camcoated exhaust. Go to my Flickr page for more photos of the parts fitted and how the Buell looks now.

Buell Touratech Protection
The Buell now with the parts fitted

So far so good! I am very pleased with the new parts and the overall look of the bike now. It was my intent to fit some small spotlights (PIAA's or similar) but I may need to wait for some time as another trip to the USA is on the cards within the next 5 months. So will shall wait and see with regards to them...but I am not complaining under the circumstances.

As always, keep the rubber side down!

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Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Great Escape

Let’s have a merry journey, and shout about how light is good and dark is not. What we should do is not future ourselves so much. We should now ourselves. “Now thyself” is more important than “know thyself.” Reason is what tells us to ignore the present and live in the future. So all we do is make plans. We think that somewhere there are going to be green pastures. It’s crazy. Heaven is nothing but a grand, monumental instance of future. Listen, now is good. Now is wonderful. ~ Mel Brooks

Well this is it, the final countdown before I embark on my adventure to the USA for a few weeks. So far the vast bulk of the arrangements have been painless, but certainly costing plenty of dollars and Euro!

Right now the plan is fairly straight forward. I get on a plane in Dublin early one morning, then arrive in New York (JFK) where I jump planes onto a flight to Cleveland, Ohio. After which I will be collected by my hostess and there begins my adventure. I am flying with Delta, so can make notes on my laptop en route so a full and honest review shall find it's way to this page.

An Amtrak trip has been booked that will take us to Washington DC, New York City and Boston. That will be a week of madness with a mix of friends floors and a hotel room in between. Not going to get as long as I would have liked in any of those places, but it is still my first time in any of them so it is all good. Just need to make sure I make a short list of 'must see'. Again, most of the reviews I have read about Amtrak have been positive but I will be adding my own unique perspective here.

While in New York I have had my arm twisted to go and see the musical 'Hair', my mother remembers it from back in the day and shakes her head whenever I mention it...but I shall hope for the best and just enjoy the experience. The reviews I have been shown by the 'arm-twister' have been positive and I will not look elsewhere for dissenting voices.

Photo of the horseshoe/Canadian falls taken fr...Image via Wikipedia

While those dates above are all fixed there are also a few smaller trips planned (hoped for?) around Ohio state, Amish country, Marietta College and maybe as far north as Niagara Falls! There are other more homely pursuits in store for my like a few little parties (Grumberfest?) and even a baseball game...yes I intend to drink bad beer, get a hot-dog and enjoy the ball-game, though I may need to be reminded who to shout for (and what is going on!).

This great escape has come out of nowhere! It has been planned and thrown together over the month of June, virtually all last minute and so lots of pressure to get right first time. The main reason for this to have even become a reality or possibility has been due solely to the kindness of people who have not even met me yet! So who (what?) is going to arrive on their doorstep in a few days time may end up tainting their very charitable hearts, I will try to be good.

I intend to take plenty of photos that should end up on my Flickr page for all to see, while I will keep a journal of my experiences and any insights that should end up here on the interweb for you to hopefully enjoy. I may alter names to protect some peoples innocence, but you will know you who be!

If any of you have suggestions for what to look at or where to visit then feel free to leave some comments.

I have wandered all my life, and I have traveled; the difference between the two is this -- we wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment. ~ Hilaire Belloc

It is time for me to travel soon...

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Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Office (By Yamaha)

Yamaha has released a very funny short spoof of 'The Office' staring their top MotoGP riders Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Colin Edwards and James Toseland. It is set in the Yamaha USA HQ in California, as this weekends MotoGP round will be from Laguna Seca. So enjoy the boys having a bit of fun before this weekends round.

As always, keep the rubber side down!

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Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Happy Bday Mistress

Well, my Buell Ulysses XB12XT is one year old today! This time last year I was like a kid in a candy store as I went to collect my new Buell with my partner. The weather was terrific, we went to a nice restaurant and parked the Buell outside for all to admire. Yet by time I got home that night the oil filler plug/dipstick had somehow disappeared while on the motorway ride home. Left a message with my local dealer and out they were out next morning with a replacement. All good!

The break in period was smooth and relaxed. I did everything by the book and followed the best sage advice I could find online. The motorcycle is very well cared for and I am not even a fast rider, I love the torque and handling of the Buell.

However things started to go wrong. I have blogged here all about it. The motorcycle started cutting out while riding and all sorts of strange warning lights would come on. This pointed to a wiring short that was never found after 2 trips into my dealer. Then the 3rd time the engine cut out I was in a bend and down we went. The dealer recovered the bike (like me, bruised and scratched) and took it apart. They found the wiring loom was faulty and a short in the fuel pump, all was replaced. Though this happened in November and I am still waiting for that replacement side case they promised.

A view that I never enjoy...

Like any vehicle there have been minor recalls. Any other issues have been taken care of under warranty. Though I have already gone through two ECU and awaiting a third due to faults. While just a few weeks ago the wheel bearings had to be replaced after I got off the motorcycle and saw mine had been chewed up. The dealer had to purchase similar bearings locally as there were no official Buell parts in Europe and the waiting period could have been at least a month.

Currently I am awaiting a new exhaust as the current one has turned to rust. Though H-D are having the replacement camcoated before fitting so that is a plus that should mean this one lasts (longer anyway...). I have some Touratech parts sitting on a garage shelf waiting to be fitted which should further protect the exhaust. Due to its exposed position and not being stainless steel it is effectively being sand-blasted by both the front and back wheels every time I take her out.

OK, the above reads like bit of a horror story. In many ways I am extremely frustrated, one buys a premium priced motorcycle (here in Europe) and you expect something reliable and of quality build. Yet it is the most unreliable motorcycle I have ever owned. Not once did any of my second hand Japanese machines leave me stranded... the time my last motorcycle got flattened in a petrol station being the sole exception. They just kept running. Through summer days and winter snows they never baulked at any road I took them down.

Yet this Buell is targeted at the sport touring market and many of those, like myself, will feasibly use this as a regular commuter. I only have a motorcycle licence so I am on my motorcycle virtually everyday whenever I need to go anywhere basically as I live in the country. Would I buy a Buell again? The honest answer is probably not, certainly not as my primary motorcycle. The dealer has been fantastic and they have done everything they can to help me and fix every problem. It is just the build quality and reliability that hurts the Buell brand.

I love the motorcycle though, for all its faults. If it was a bit more bulletproof then I could have seen myself holding onto this for many years. It is the perfect partner to my riding style and philosophy. I have no problem taking my motorcycles in for services to qualified mechanics and have them carry out the work and stamp the books. What worries me is that once the warranty period is out I may not be able to afford the breakdowns and other failures that have tainted my experience up until now.

To end, as I pulled up outside a shopping centre the other night a chap with a lady friend riding pillion pulled up beside me. He jumped off and came straight over to me. His last motorcycle was a Buell and we started exchanging war stories. He rattled off a list of things that went wrong with his and I went through mine. We both laughed a lot! I then said I will probably sell mine before the warranty period is up, he laughed and said "I was lucky, mine got stolen just after it ran out...".

As always, keep the rubber side down

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Saturday, 27 June 2009

Want to Connect?

Well I am going to give this a try and see what you guys think or if you are interested in taking part! On the right hand side you should see a new widget called 'Followers'. It is a new google attempt to get people more involved in the content that bloggers talk about.

Facebook readers may be reading this blog as a 'note'...scroll down to the bottom and hit the option that says "view original post" just above where you would normally leave a comment. Then you will be transported to my blog and get to see this (and my other notes) as originally intended.

I think it is an interesting idea and will give it a try for a while to see how the feedback works out or if anyone is even interested in playing. Below is an official Google developers movie introducing this new idea and their blurb on it!

Awaken and strengthen your community

Google Friend Connect instantly awakens and strengthens the community that visits your site by enriching it with social features. Watch the video below to learn more.

Build your community
Anyone can join your site and discover other members by using information from a variety of services, including Google, Yahoo, Twitter, AOL, orkut, and Plaxo, strengthening your community as visitors become members.

Increase engagement
Choose social features from a catalog of gadgets created by Google and the OpenSocial developer community to keep your visitors more deeply engaged with your site and with each other.

So what do you reckon? Want to connect with me?

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Thursday, 25 June 2009

Enfield Goes to War

Royal Enfield - Bullet Classic (01)Image by victor9098 via Flickr

I am a long time fan of Royal Enfield motorcycles and determined to get one in my garage eventually! The new EFI model represents a major step in the right direction with added reliability, relatively straight forward owner maintenance and an engine capable of up to 136kph (85mph). Though more realistically the cruising speed would be 96kph - 112kph (60mph - 70mph). Not bad for a 500cc single which is basically an update of a 50 year old engine! Oh and to give you more of an incentive the EFI averages 28km/l (80mpg).

For more specific information have a look at the Royal Enfield UK or the Royal Enfield USA websites!
Also some reviews can be found at; - Royal Enfield Electra EFI
Motorcycle Classics - 2009 Royal Enfield Bullet EFI
MCN - Royal Enfield Electra EFI (2008-current)

So what got me blogging about the Royal Enfield's again is a very sweet version of the new EFI being offered by the USA Royal Enfield distributors... a new version of the old military model. It is called the Bullet G5 Military across the pond and I like it...LOTS! I could only hope that they make a similar version of available on this side of the ocean. With the UK being the largest market outside of India I am surprised this has not already been offered, but I understand they are busy getting out the more popular versions of the Enfield range, so a good reason! Guess alternatively I will just have to move to the USA...actually there is a thought!

ANYWAY, from the Royal Enfield USA website;


The iconic Bullet Military model has seen extended duty on several fronts throughout the world for many years and is now a prize for military enthusiasts and collectors the world over. Now available exclusively in the United States, the G5 Military features the ruggedness that has made Royal Enfield famous, plus the reliability of fuel injection and a virtually maintenance-free unit construction engine design.

This highly sought after motorcycle is painted olive drab and comes standard with the new Unit Construction Engine and digital electronic fuel injection, plus a unique look that harkens back to World War II.

Unique Features

* All-new, fully-integrated unit construction engine with fuel injection for rugged reliability
* A complete military look harkening back to WWII
* NEW! - Available accessory packages to customize to your taste
* Improved suspension, higher cruising speeds, and better handling
* Pagani turn signals, 19" Avon Speedmaster Mk. II tires
* Incredible 85 mpg fuel economy*
* Built to meet Euro III and other modern emissions standards
* Industry-leading 2 year, unlimited-milage manufacturer warranty

* Estimate based on initial mileage reports

Guess I better start finding some cents to hide in the mattress for when these eventually (I hope) become available on this side of the pond. I would certainly do my best to park one up in the garage, maybe add a screen though and maybe add some...oh damn, now I really want one!

As always, keep the rubber side down

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