Gas Prices And Riding Your Motorcycle

NOTE:  when gas was $112US/barrel in May this year, retail pump prices were $1.95/litre.  Someone’s getting rich off climate disaster.

Petro-Canada is putting everyone
over a barrel charging 6¢ a litre
more for super than ESSO is.

I was out and about on two wheels both Saturday and Sunday last weekend.  Because I live in one of the most geologically tedious places in the world, I often have to ride for 20 minutes just to find *any* corner.  This has me juggling contradicting ideas when it comes to the latest round of record-breaking fuel prices.  On the one hand, fuel is more expensive.  Thirty bucks used to be as much as I ever put into a bike, now it’s over forty.  On the other hand, after riding for twenty minutes to find a damned corner there are far few people driving around like gormless idiots on it so I get to actually enjoy the lean.  I think I’m OK with the return on investment with strangely high gas prices: it’s expensive but the roads are nicer to ride.

This isn’t the first time fuel prices went this high.  They did in 2012 as well due to Middle Eastern instability, but back then (with costs per barrel similar) fuel at the pump out this way reached $1.36/litre and had everyone apoplectic.   A decade later the same crude oil prices have us paying almost $2.50 a litre, but hey, if you can’t get rich from declining resources and a climate disaster you were instrumental in causing, you shouldn’t be running a petrochemical company.

My son and I two up on the Kawasaki are averaging over 42 miles per gallon…


The Tiger is mainly doing one-up work now that the Concours takes care of pillions.  With its new sprockets the RPMs have dropped a few hundred in any given gear and it’s now averaging over 60mpg on long, top gear rides.  At this kind of mileage I can handle higher fuel costs.


LINKS


2012:  “Retail pump prices rose early in the year, starting at $1.21 per litre, peaking at $1.36 per litre in April, declining to $1.23 per litre in July”

“Crude oil prices… ]averaged $703/m3 (US$112/bbl)”

https://www.statista.com/statistics/262858/change-in-opec-crude-oil-prices-since-1960/

It might be unpopular, but I believe we should be charging the environmental damage in each litre of gasoline.  

The True Cost of Burning Hydrocarbons:

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-015-1343-0

https://archive.thinkprogress.org/heres-what-gas-would-have-to-cost-to-account-for-health-and-environmental-impacts-c0ed088e8f38/

https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/our-natural-resources/domestic-and-international-markets/transportation-fuel-prices/4593

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Moto Art

Various photos from rides over the last month, worked over with photoshop into not-photographs!

Kawasaki GTR1400 at sunset (and below)

Triumph Tiger on a Sunday Ride

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May Motorcycle Photography

 Motorcycle photography over the past couple of weeks.

Two-up sunset ride on the Tiger with a Ricoh Theta SC mounted to the rear view mirror with a flexible tripod:

Testing a new Theta SC 360 camera mounted on the windshield with a flexible tripod:

If you’re curious about how to do this, click HERE!

Kawasaki Concours 14 on a sunset ride (no 360 camera this time, just the phone):

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Signs of Spring 2018

The weather is fairly crap, but there are signs of spring as the sun returns more and more each day.  All done with the Canon T6i.  Macros are done with the 18-35mm kit lens, the birds are using the ‘kit’ 55-250mm long lens.

 

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Forging Moto-Maker Spaces

As a family we attended a blacksmithing day at Happy Knife Forge last weekend.  Highly recommended, it’s money well spent.  Jason will not only show you the basics, but is keen to get you up and running as a blacksmith.  My granddad was a coal merchant back in the old country and the smell of coke burning on the forge prompted a sense memory from the crib; it smelled like home.

I’ve ruminated on fabrication and micro-manufacturing on TMD before from a digital perspective using the latest techniques.  Given the space and tools I’d quite happily spend my time designing and creating using everything from medieval blacksmithing through 20th Century metal working and on into 21st Century digital manufacturing techniques.  Connecting these processes separated by time but with the same intent would produce some genuinely interesting and bespoke combinations.

I’ve had the itch to get back into welding for some time, but a lack of space and gear means I’m not while I’m where I’m at.  The blacksmithing experience has me wanting to expand my metal working beyond just welding, which means even more space and kit getting added to the wish list.  You can do a lot in a tight space, and I am, but when it comes to storing the chemicals and managing the heat in some of these processes, there is no substitute for space.




A property with an old industrial building on
it would make for a fantastic restoration
leading to a multi-millenial foundry covering
everything from blacksmithing to digital design!

Given the time and resources I’d hit an intensive welding program, then set up my multi-millenial forge/shop/maker space with everything from blacksmithing tools through metal working and mechanical to 21st Century 3d scanning, digital modelling and printing.  The forge would be in the corner of a repurposed, old brick building that also includes space for metalwork, all very fireproof.  Across the floor in the same open concept.would be space for a paint booth/shot blasting station and plenty of mechanical workspace.  Upstairs (open concept, with just a railing) would be digital design and manufacturing in a cleaner workspace.  If I could walk out to that every morning to create, restore and repair, I’d hardly care if there were pandemics or anything else.  Put it near some good riding roads (ie: not in Southern Ontario), and it’d be just about perfect.




I’ve been thinking about a digital workshop for a while now, but the blacksmithing experience has me thinking old school as well.


The future-garage scene in Big Hero 6 gets the digital side of it right.



Dream Shop Links:

https://www.architecturaldesigns.com/house-plans/3-car-modern-carriage-house-plan-with-sun-deck-68541vr

https://www.coolhouseplans.com/plan-90821

https://www.towersteelbuildings.com/building-styles/garages/

https://www.olympiasteelbuildings.ca/garages/

https://canadianmetalbuildings.com/metal-buildings/cmb-ready-built/

https://tkmotorcyclediaries.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-stable.html

https://tkmotorcyclediaries.blogspot.com/2015/11/iihtm-digital-workshop.html

https://tkmotorcyclediaries.blogspot.com/2015/04/space-limitations.html

https://tkmotorcyclediaries.blogspot.com/2015/08/a-mclaren-p1-or-motorcycle-nirvana.html

https://tkmotorcyclediaries.blogspot.com/2020/10/diy-garage-expansion-plans.html

Forging Links:

https://canadianforge.com/products/l-brand-forge-coke

https://www.thecrucible.org/guides/blacksmithing/blacksmithing-forge/

Welding links

https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/tools/how-to/a15739/how-to-get-started-with-welding/

https://www.weldtechtraining.com/welding-courses/individual-welding-courses-certification-canada/

https://www.esab.ca/ca/en/rogue/index.cfm

https://canadaweldingsupply.ca/products/esab-rebel-emp-205ic-ac-dc?variant=14036287946796

https://canadaweldingsupply.ca/

Used Options:









Metal Working Tool Links

https://www.amazon.ca/Solary-Magnetic-Induction-Flameless-Automotive/dp/B08XTHTMZP

https://canadaweldingsupply.ca/products/metabo-5-variable-speed-rat-tail-angle-grinder

Digital Manufacturing Links

https://3dprintingindustry.com/news/car-sos-tv-show-uses-3d-printing-and-scanning-to-restore-classic-car-195222/


https://www.javelin-tech.com/3d/artec-3d-scanner-price/




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Riding Through an Oil Painting

 After a long day at work I found myself watching the sky change colours and jumped on the Tiger for a ride down the river.  It felt like riding through a Van Gogh…

All photos taken with a Ricoh 360 camera mounted on the windshield, autofiring every 8 seconds.









West Montrose Covered Bridge: one of these times I’m going to ride through and find myself in 1881!







Photos are in reverse chronological order.  Sunset was at 8:30pm – I was on the road from about 8:10 to 8:50pm.

If you want a breakdown of how to get on-bike 360 photos like this, check THIS out!  If you really want to digitally flex, you can create a 360 ‘tiny planet’ stop motion film out of this kind of photography:


Related Links:  How to capture 360-degree photos while riding your motorbike (Adventure Bike Rider Magazine)

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Variations in On-Motorcycle 360 Photography

The other day I tried a variation on the on-bike 360° photography I’ve previously done.  Rather than mount the camera on a flexible tripod on the front of the bike, I attached a carbon monopod to the rear top-box rack, extended it and put the camera on top.


The bottom part of the monopod had a screw in point.  With that removed I could bolt this very light weight, carbon fibre monopod to the rear luggage rack (which itself is attached to the frame) very securely.  In almost an hour of riding on typically lousy rural Ontario roads both the camera and monopod were very secure and the photos showed no evidence of wobble or blur.


These are the parts used:

With the camera over a metre above and behind my head, the three-sixty degree pinched perspective makes the bike and I look quite far away:




After doing a round at full extension (the monopod extends to just over five feet or 160cms), I reduced the bottom leg.  I couldn’t see the results of the shots until I got back and I was worried that the full extended monopod would produce wobble and blur or be structurally stressed (it didn’t and it wasn’t).  The monopod only weighs a couple of hundred grams and can hold 10 kilos or 22 pounds of gear – the Theta weighs less than a hundred grams.


With the camera reset closer to four feet above the back deck of the bike I did some more miles, including riding over some very rough roads.  Even in those circumstances the rig was solid, unmoving and took sharp photos, even in the relatively poor light (it had been heavily overcast, foggy and raining on and off all day).


The pavement leading up to the West Montrose Covered Bridge is particularly rough, but even then the photos were clear and sharp.
Good horizons on such a tall camera mount, and this is at the lower setting.
With the camera set so much higher, corners don’t seem as dramatic.  When the camera is mounted on the rear view mirror it turns with the handlebars, amplifying the lean effect.

Perhaps the best example of the camera’s lack of wobble was the shot from inside the covered bridge.  On an overcast, dim day in a poorly lit environment with the bike bouncing over rough pavement, the sharpness is still surprisingly good.  This was so dim that I had to raise the sun visor in the helmet:

This is a photo uploaded to the Theta 360 site and modified with the little planet geometry tool.

I’d call this a successful test.  Setting up this kind of monopod on a Givi tail mount for a top box works really well.  The monopod base fits snuggly in the tail mount, which is a very solid, over engineering piece of kit designed to carry potentially heavy luggage.  The monopod takes a big quarter inch bolt.  I used a big washer on the bottom and a smaller one that fit perfectly inside the lattice on the top of the rack.  With the monopod tightened down with a ratchet it was extremely secure.


The camera didn’t wobble on full extension, but with the monopod retracted one level (the shortest, narrowest one at the bottom) the monopod rubber met the top of the luggage lattice and it was even stronger.  With the camera on the shortened tripod, the photos still offered a surprisingly distant perspective:


With the monopod shortened one level it’s still well above six feet off the deck (I’m 6’3″).

It’s another unique perspective to pursue with 360° on-motorcycle photography, but I have to say, I think it feels a bit alienating because everything is so distant and you can’t see the rider’s face.  Short of flying a drone perilously close to a rider, there is no other way you could get this perspective though…

One of the few sunny moments on the ride – you can see the monopod’s shadow on the road.



Something like this might look really cool on a bike doing a wheelie, or someone knee down in a canyon.  It also does a nice job of capturing the surroundings, but unless I’m looking for shots that are more about the scenery than the ride, I doubt I’ll be doing it again.  I prefer the more intimate and exciting angles you get from mounting the camera closer and in front of the rider:


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My First Motorcycling Accident: ATGATT Saves The Day!

 … and it wasn’t so bad thanks to all the (quality) gear, all the time.  This weekend we had family friends coming over so I took their son and mine up to S.M.A.R.T. Adventures for an afternoon dirt biking.  My boy did a day on bikes last year so he was stepping up to intermediate level, the other boy had never ridden before.

It was a glorious day.  We had snow last week but it was 15°C and sunny on Saturday, and we weren’t gettting on a bike until it had already reached that lofty high.

They kit you up good at SMART!


We got kitted up and out to the bikes.  Ethan went with another new rider and did the how-bike-controls-work introductory lesson.  Max hadn’t been on a bike in 10 months and had only had a day when he last did, but he remembered all the basics so off we went.



We had Joe instructing us who I’ve had a couple of times before.  He has psychic trail reading skills and is a joy to follow in the woods.  He’s also big on the basics (elbows up, sit at the front of the saddle right above the pegs and most of all, clutch control!).  Max had the basics down, but his work on the clutch dramatically improved his ability to ride off road this time around, it was time well spent!


We did the ride-over-a-log thing and after a tentative start Max got a handle on that too!  All in all it was a very satisfying afternoon of riding.

To end the day we joined the new riders and did some of the easier trails.  Earlier we’d been talking to the instructor who had been looking after the new riders and he said you can never underestimate how tired the newbies are.  The physical and mental demands on learning to ride from scratch are heavy.  We all lined up as a group and headed out into the woods for one last ride together.

We were coming down a washout with rocks and loose dirt when the instructor eased up at the bottom, perhaps deciding which way to turn.  I was up on the pegs behind him and was able to stop, but Max was behind me and couldn’t.  Ethan was behind him and said Max hit the back brake hard enough to lock up, but with the loose surface and incline he slid right into me, trapping my ankle between his front fork and my bike.  When he came off, his bike surged forward as it stalled, driving into my ankle even more.

It was trapped so tight I was thinking it was already broken, but SMART doesn’t mess around with the kit.  Those SIDI off road boots are the balls.  Having been caught between the two bikes (which were now locked together), there was an incredible amount of pressure on my ankle, but the boots were taking the brunt.  I couldn’t move and was frustrated that I hadn’t avoided the situation entirely, but it was a series of events I couldn’t see behind me and the accident was no one’s fault.  Max was feeling terrible about it, but once the tail end instructor had run down the hill and seperated the bikes, I got up and tested the ankle and was stunned to find I could stand on it without any real pain.  Even now, a day later, it’s only mildly bruised and I’m able to walk on it without any pain.  If I hadn’t been in good off road boots I’d have dust for an ankle.


We got the bikes sorted out (one of the plastic panels had popped out on my Honda 250cc, but was popped back in – it wasn’t even cracked!) and continued the ride.  At the end of the day we got back to the SMART office and all was good.


As I told Max, “this was about as ideal an accident as you could have!”  He learned about
leaving space, keeping his eyes up and experienced target fixation for the first time (which might one day save his life if he’s learned to look where he wants to go).  It also underlined my belief in ATGATT.  I tell you what, thanks to SMART I’m going to be looking for some SIDI dirt boots when I finally get my own kit.  They aren’t cheap, but then neither is a broken ankle.  Wear the right kit and even if you have an accident, you walk away!

I’m still hoping to get Max and I sorted out with a couple of tidy 250cc bikes to go trail riding together.  It’s great exercise, a wonderful way to get deep into the woods and sure, it could be dangerous, but with the right kit and a sensible approach to riding it’s a manageable risk that can also have minimum environmental impact.  A knowledgeable trail rider leaves no trace while exploring wilderness in a way that few other activities allow, often enjoying over 70mpg.


I know a lot of people think of motorcycling as a pointless risk that is destined for injury, but that isn’t the point at all.  When done well, as we did it yesterday, riding is the best kind of exercise for your mind and body, and something I’m always willing to mitigate risk on in order to enjoy.  I’ve heard of many people who have an accident and never ride again, but that isn’t my way.

We’re aiming to do a full day SMART later this year.  Funds permitting, we’ll get ourselves independently riding off road eventually, but in the meantime, SMART provides the kit and the bikes along with some vital mentorship.  We’ll both be better riders by the time we’re soloing on the trails in our own gear on our own bikes.

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Making Miles on the Concours

We had a break in the Canadian winter (in April) and I finally got a chance to exercise the Concours.  This jaunt took me over 250kms from where I live in the tedious industrial farming desert of South Western Ontario, an hour up to the road to the edge of the Niagara Escarpment where I have a small chance of finding a corner to ride around.  It usually gets colder by the lake, but contrary to physics, it went from 12°C when I left up to 27° by the lake.  It only dropped down into the low 20s again once I found some altitude on Blue Mountain (a hill anywhere but in Ontario).


https://goo.gl/maps/6DWBjfGv1WgbX6Ws5
https://goo.gl/maps/6DWBjfGv1WgbX6Ws5


It is actually nuclear powered!  I feel like I really bonded with the Connie on this ride – we sailed for miles and we had many more in us when we stopped for the day.  If you’re light on the throttle it gets reasonable mileage, but it’s a wonderful thing when you wake up that motor.  Kawasaki has a special touch with engines.


I had the 360 camera along for the ride and put together a montage using an incredibly complicated process that involves batch processing the 360 panaramas into ‘tiny planet’ images and then clipping them all together in video editing.  It isn’t for the faint of heart, but it sure looks unique.  This is the how-to if you’re feeling brave.


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2022 Imaging Kit Wishlist

What I’d upgrade equipment-wise if I had my druthers:


360 Cameras


Ricoh Theta Z1:  most 360 cameras are built for action video and make photography an afterthought.  The Z1 is a photography first tool with the largest sensor, raw image file options and a quality of image quality rather than quantitity.  It’s expensive, but if you’re into 360 photography and especially exploring the edges of it, the Z1 is the tool.

Cost:  $1350


GoPro Max 360 Camera:  I’ve chewed up a few Thetas doing action photography.  The GoPro Max is pretty much everything proof and produces quality 360 images, though it is (like most 360 cameras) video focused.

At 16.6 mega-pixels the Max produces nice images, and the time lapse photography option would work well for on-bike photography.

It’d be nice to have an on-bike camera that I could just leave filming when the rains come.  I currently have to get the dainty Theta out of the way whenever the weather sets in.

Cost:  $730



Aerial/Drone Photography

DJI Mini 2:  I’ve got a Phantom 2 and it’s a fine thing, but it’s big and increasing restrictions on drone flight make it more and more difficult to fly.  You can get around most of that by flying a micro drone (under 250 grams), which don’t require the same restrictions.

There are super cheap options with poor cameras and disposable air-frames, but the Mini-2 borrows the best tech from its big brothers in a small, foldable package that travels well.

Cost:  $520




Digital SLR Camera Updates

Canon 6D Mk2  SLR camera body:  I’m still enjoying my Canon Rebel T6i and I’d want an more advanced camera body that would still let me use the lenses I’m familiar with.  The 6D is the next step on from the entry level Rebel cameras with improved features and range.  Stepping up doesn’t come cheap though, though it would still be able to use my current lenses.

They describe my Rebel as a ‘beginner’ camera, though I’ve won competitions against ‘pros’ with ‘pro’ cameras, but the marketing does mess with my pride.

Body Cost:  $1800


CANON EF 100MM F2.8 L MACRO IS USM LENS

I love macro photography and use the Canon basic macro lens on the Rebel.  This is the stop up full-frame lens for the 6D.

It would have to be next level because this lens alone costs more than my current camera body with a tele, prime and macro lens.

$1700



SIGMA 24-70MM F2.8 DG OS HSM CANON (ART)

Described as a bright standard lens that makes use of the 6D’s full frame sensor.  

Another lens that by itself costs more than all the lenses I currently have.  DSLR shooting out of the ‘beginner’ cameras is for the privileged.

$1600



CANON EF 70-200MM F2.8L IS III USM LENS

If you think the others are dear, here’s your telephoto, and only up to 200mm, for less than most of my motorcycles have cost.


$2700



I’d like more reach with a full frame camera but pro-really long telephotos start to get into same-price-as-a-car money.  I’ve explored Olympus’s DSLR alternatives and enjoyed owning super-zoom all-in-one cameras too.  Super zooms have come a long way in recent years.  Sony’s DSC-RX10MIV  has a massive 1 inch CMOS sensor promising good low light photography while also offering an astounding 24-600mm reach on a built in lens.   Rather than chuck thousands at lenses and DSLR bodies (and then have to lug it all around), maybe a next-gen all-in-one super zoom should be next, though if this is a wish list then the money wouldn’t matter.


Rather than flash “pro” kit around, I’m looking for ways to innovate my photography.  A full-frame DSLR would be nice, but for a fraction of the cash I could get myself a current micro-drone, a powerful super-zoom and the latest in 360 camera technology, which even with all my experience with, I still feel like I’m only just scratching the surface.

In a variation on photography, I’ve also previously explore 3d scanning with the first gen Structure Sensor.  Their current PRO model is $695 (US) and comes out this summer.  That’d also be on my short-list of ‘imaging tools’.

If I avoided the DSLR money-pit, I’d be into five and half grand in the latest imaging tools (360 cameras, drone, big sensor all-in-one super-zoom and 3d scanner).  That’s 1/3 the price of a single ‘pro’ level telephoto lens.  Wish list or not, I think I can do more interesting things with digital imaging with a more diverse set of tools.


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