Friday, August 10, 2012

Haulin' yer Stuff

Over the past five years or so, I've commuted on various two wheeled vehicles. For the most part, I've been able to travel pretty lightly. Only for about two years did I require some type of water proof container to ensure that something electronic wasn't subjected to precipitation. During that time, I opted for a Outdoor Research dry bag and then switched over to a Seal Line messenger bag. Well, I've now opted for something else; a Wolf Tail bag made by Wolfman Luggage.

One of the reasons I switched away from the messenger bag was that is interfered with my jacket's ability to ventilate. In the Summer, that's not such a good thing. Secondly, the messenger bag's strap ground dirt into my hi-viz jacket making it look grungy. Fortunately, Shout! stain remover, a soft scrub brush and some elbow grease seems to get the jacket quite clean. I just don't like having to do it once a month. Additionally, I'm back to traveling "light" now that I can use my company's VPN to remotely connect to my laptop (which is secured to my desk via cable lock).

Granted, there are a few options when it comes to tail bags and there are waterproof ones out there. However, I wanted something that would fit on the rear of the VTR's seat as I had given up on fabricating a rear rack that would easily (the key word being easily) attach to the bike itself. I also took into account that I would be able to use the bag on my other bike, a Suzuki DR650SE. If that was not a consideration, I most likely would have gone with something like the Wolfman Peak tail bag. The Peak is smaller and would be a perfect fit for the VTR as it's dimensions are identical to the rear of the saddle (aft of the cross strap). However, it is not as easy to attach/remove as is the Wolf Tail. The Peak would require two straps to go under the saddle. Also, the Peak uses "gutter hooks" (their words) to secure the bag to the bike. If you choose to use the under saddle straps, the Peak straps have to be threaded through the rectangular buckles and then cinched down. The Wolf Tail uses elastic "shock" cord with hooks. It's as simple as putting the bag on the saddle and attaching the hooks. It shouldn't take more than a minute (whereas the Peak could take several minutes). The links provided (above), for the specific bags, have mounting instructions and video links. Check them out if you're seriously interested.

The other concern was the amount of space. In retrospect, I most likely would have been able to get everything I carry (which isn't much) into the Peak. However, for a dual sport ride, it's nice to have the additional space.

My daily "stuff" consists of;
  • rain jacket
  • rain pants
  • external hard drive
  • phone charging/USB cable
  • keys (on a carabiner)
  • pen
  • waterproof over-boots
  • security badge (building access)
  • lunch (usually an apple and some yogurt)

The only thing I am not carrying now is the liner for my Olympia Bushwacker jacket. When it becomes cool enough, the liner will take the place of the rain jacket/pants combo. It will most likely take up more space but certainly won't fill the Wolf Tail.

Here are some pictures of the bag on the VTR and a couple by itself:

Here's the bag in "expanded" mode:


Here are a couple of close-up images showing the elastic straps and hook ends:

I'm not thrilled about the hook resting on the bodywork. I may try to make something to span between the turn signal mount and the reflector mount.

Here, the red arrows indicate the location of the elastic cords on the inside of the bag. The yellow arrow indicates the "shortening knot" I tied so the rear hook holds the bag tight to the saddle. I know things are a little hard to see, sorry.

Here's my cycling rain gear in its waterproof bag. My electronics are in there as well. The sides of the bag are supported by pieces of black plastic ("stiffeners"). They can be removed if you'd prefer the bag keep a low profile:

The top of the bag has a nice zippered, mesh pocket for keys and the like:

Here's the bag off of the bike. It carries like a small suitcase with the handle at the top. If you look closely, you can see "D" rings where the handle attaches to the bag (there's another set at the opposite end). So, if you wanted to carry a strap with hook ends, you could carry the bag over your shoulder.

The bag is not waterproof which is why I pack things in my cycling rain suit stuff sack and carry an eight (8) liter waterproof bag. However, it is water resistant (and I tested it). An inmate at Adventure Rider states that he applies 303 Aerospace Fabric Guard which makes the bag waterproof (or about as water resistant as can be). I've used the bag for a week: so far, so good.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Temperatures and Airflow - Pt. II

Alright, a while back I was postulating on the VTR's cooling system, coolant temperatures and airflow through the radiator. It's been pretty hot in Chicago-land, so far, this Summer. While July wasn't the hottest on record, it was pretty close. I've seen more 100ยบ F days this year than I've seen since I've lived in the area (~20 years). The VTR continues to handle the heat with aplomb, it's me that worries about it.

I did check the system from a very basic stand point; the radiator is free of external debris that might be clogging the fins (and preventing airflow), if I ground the wire that runs from the fan to the thermo-switch, the fan does run (so the fan motor is OK), the radiator is properly grounded (so that when the switch does activate, the fan should come on) and the switch measures close to infinite ohms (resistance) when cold (as it should). What I have not tested is if the switch itself does work. This would require it being removed from the radiator and heated in a liquid until either it activates (resistance goes to zero) or the liquid reaches a temperature beyond the point where it should activate (which would indicate a failed switch). Obviously, I'll wait until riding season is over since I don't seem to have an issue, right now.

Additionally, we're dealing with a ~23 year old radiator. It's possible that it needs an internal flush to ensure that all of the cooling tubes are clear and functional. It's also possible that the coolant is way beyond its service life and is no longer efficiently conducting heat. Lastly, the thermostat could used to be replaced, if it's original equipment (which I suspect it is).

Again, due to the fact that the cooling system seems to be doing it's job, all of this can wait for Winter.