By July 22, 2009

July Tybee Island trip report

I saddled up my 2009 Yamaha FJR1300A and headed down to Georgia last Thursday. I needed to take a break and was anxious to meet up with some of my favorite people. I was also ready to put Apollo up to his first mid-distance road trip.

I have a rule: never install anything new or change anything a week before a motorcycle trip. I followed that rule (mostly), but did do a few upgrades before I left. The most suspicious was adding a set of auxiliary lights low on the forks. I did this well before my trip, but had finally gotten them positioned where I wanted them and secured with blue Loctite. Would the mounts hold up to over 1000 miles of highway travel? Would my ass hold up to over 1000 miles of highway travel?

I am still pretty tired from making the trip, but let’s cut to the chase: the FJR1300 is an excellent bike for the type of riding I like. Apollo cruised along happily at speeds ranging from 75MPH – 95MPH and didn’t care at all. It felt very solid, with little to no vibration transmitted through the handlebars (like my FZ6) or through the pegs (like my R1150R). The handlebar reach is just a little short for me, but I’ve learned to adjust my seating position to compensate.

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Bombing I-95 at high speed is one of the only ways to keep me from going completely batshit insane due to driving in a straight line for 500 miles.

The stock seat is not compatible with my butt for anything more than about 120 miles at a time. This is still better than the Corbin aftermarket seat I bought for my FZ6, so I am not complaining too much. I am going to have the seats reconstructed as soon as my stepfather Professor Sparks sends me his stock FJR seats to use as holdovers.

I really missed the highway pegs I installed on my FZ6. I was able to stand on the FJR to stretch my legs a little, but I would have felt more secure if I could have just stretched my legs out instead. I have the pegs for my FJR already, but the company that makes the crash bars the pegs attach to fell asleep at the switch and didn’t fulfill my order for well over a month. By the time the crash bars arrived I had already left for Georgia.

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Is this a stand up fight, sir, or just another bug hunt?

The weather was pretty hot on the ride down. I left at 8:30 in the morning, but it was already in the high 80s. By the time I breached the North Carolina border the air temperature was in the 95F range. It was well over 100F adjusted for humidity in South Carolina. My Rev’It Turbine jacket did its job and I felt reasonably ventilated. It still doesn’t flow as much air as my Teknic perforated leather jacket, but I am not sure how much of a difference that would have amounted to behind Apollo’s faring. I wore my Teknic perforated leather pants and they were great. I wore SmartWool snowboarding socks underneath my Sidi OnRoad touring boots. My feet were a little warm, but nothing like the extreme heat I suffered several trips ago. I stopped to drink plenty of water and Gatorade, and that helped a lot.

I purchased a Garmin Nuvi 360 and appropriate RAM mounts for my bike before heading down. I have to say that it was pretty damn slick, and much less expensive than the special motorcycle GPS Garmin makes called the Zumo. I’ll do a full review of the unit from a motorcyclist’s perspective later, but it was great having it on the road with me.

The big loser, from a personal equipment perspective, was the Miracool evaporative cooling vest I purchased. People on the FJR forum I frequent raved about it, but it actually made me dangerously hot after about 90 minutes of wear. The concept is simple: soak the vest in water for thirty minutes, and then wear it underneath your motorcycle jacket but atop any other clothing. It felt pretty good for about ten minutes, and then I couldn’t really tell the difference until I started wondering why my torso was so hot. It turns out the Miracool doesn’t really stay cool very long in extreme temperatures, and all it did was act as a lukewarm insulated vest for the Turbine’s chest vents. I put it in a Ziploc bag after my second stop — I was going to throw it away, but I was concerned someone might try to use it and hurt themselves.

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The weather was beautiful as I approached Tybee. I love smelling the ocean on the road in — not because I like the scent of dead sea animals at low tide, but because it reminds me of Tybee, and the wonderful people that I visit there. I sped onward as best I could without drawing the ire of the traffic gods. That is, until I caught up to these folks:

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It’s a man and a woman, sharing my ride in on their Honda Goldwing. They were pointing and smiling and talking (they were wearing half-face helmets and I could see their microphones). They were up from Florida, so maybe they’d ridden as far north as I’d ridden as far south. It was really cool to see them enjoying themselves. I have hopes and designs to do this type of riding myself someday.

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Zoom zoom. Lower auxiliary light pictured.

The sun had just started to set by the time I arrived at Tybee. I could start to see the beam pattern on my lower set of auxiliary lights, and I noticed the left one was way out of whack. Turns out a big ass bug had hit the lens and moved it out of alignment. I am going to have to come up with another way of locking the lights down — someone mentioned a star washer, but that means I am going to have to pull the lights off of the mounting bracket and re-apply the blue Loctite. Drag.

All in all, an easy 500 miles, albeit a little slower than usual. I’ve learned to stay ahead of the exhaustion curve by stopping often and drinking lots of fluids. It may have taken me a little extra time to get down to Georgia, but the overall ride was more enjoyable.

I’ve put over 3000 miles on Apollo since getting him less than six weeks ago. Granted, the trip to Georgia and back is just a touch over 1,000 miles, but I am on target for a 20,000 mile year on him this year.

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2 Comments on "July Tybee Island trip report"

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  1. Gremlin says:

    Motorcycling in hot weather can be very difficult. I always watch the heat index. As the heat index approaches 98 degrees I shorten up my gas stops to 100 miles, even though I can do almost 250 on a tank. While I’m stopped I strip out of my riding jacket and soak a long sleeve T-shirt in the bathroom sink. Use warm water. Then I put it back on and layer up. The shirt evaps off in about 100 miles keeping me much cooler. If it drys out to fast, I’m not wearing any additional layers that would cause me to heat up. This works for me up in Montana, our average humidity is about 20-30 percent. I have no idea how it would work in the sauna that is the south.

  2. Tomax says:

    It’s usually so humid here that the water would never evaporate. We get the same effect by just sweating :P.

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