Test Ride: Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 NTX

Moto Guzzi Stelvio
My ride for a few days!

Recently I was offered a loaner bike while having some warranty service done at Santa Rosa BMW Motorcycles, (aka EuroCycle Sonoma in Windsor, CA).  Loving the idea to ride through this fabulous wine country of northern California’s rolling hills on something new, Kerry Sturgis, my AWESOME service manager, set me up to take out the Moto Guzzi version of my GS: the Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 NTX.

My Moto Guzzi Fantasy Ride

When I moved to Santa Barbara in the early ’90’s I frequented a motorcycle shop next to a Guzzi repair shop. They would have a number of repair and for sale Moto Guzzi’s out front for me to dream and drool over. It had been my fantasy to take one of the antique beauties, put disc brakes on her, and ride Highway 126 east to the I-5 and then South to Mulholland and East to the beach laden PCH which we would follow North homeward bound to Santa Barbara. I romanticized this idea over and over again… till I eventually left SB a couple years later. Never having fulfilled this particular fantasy – I was jazzed at Kerry’s offer!

An awaking to the Moto Guzzi reality

After turning my keys over to Kerry, and receiving a briefing of the differences of controls and settings I was off to finally get my own feel for riding a Moto Guzzi. Almost immediately I realized I may have been very spoiled in the motorcycles I’ve ridden. I expected the Guzzi to be like fine Italian art, or gelato. You know, that romanticized version of PCH I had. She was going to show me something different.

Day 1 – Feel the Power

The first days ride was about feeling her out while I took care of some business. I knew right away that what I was dealing with was more of an Italian version of a Harley-Davidson: lots of grunt, torque, and vibration. She roared when I twisted the throttle and felt like she would definitely win in an arm wrestling match. The ride back to camp that night was comfortable and steady. I kept my knees tight to her in order to minimize hand numbness from vibrations, something I could never do with my Harley air-cleaners in the way. She let me hold her tight in this way, and my hands were fine after the 90 mile route we had chosen.  She was fun on the road and good on the highway. Would definitely need to get a taller windscreen if I owned her, but that is to be expected.

The Return Trip – Twisty Hillsides

I was excited when the work was completed on my bike. It meant 70 miles of twisty hills between me and the dealership. Just the kind of morning I love! I had heard her described before as a pregnant ballerina: top heavy at start, but agile once she got going. I was excited to find out how agile she could be. This is precisely when things got interesting. I found out how all that brawn and beef works in the turns.  While she is absolutely nimble to ride, her brawn seemed to hold her in one of two modes, drag or lurch. I was unable to master the subtleties of her throttle. I was used to needling with gentle grace of slight pressures of throttle easing in and out of turns. By comparison, she was a brute.

… But what about the ballerina?

With that said, she also had grace. At one point myself and another car took a side road. With the other car in front it seemed I had my “rabbit” to keep up with. I thought my riding must be suffering from my concern over throttle control. My “rabbit” kept losing me in turn after turn only to glimpse it as it entered the next turn. I kept thinking to myself that I must have lost my nerve. Then I looked at the speedometer. We were almost triple what we should have been doing. My “rabbit” knew this road well and the Stelvio had danced, darted, twirled, and curved like a champ.

Moto Guzzi Off-Road?

I promised I would not take the loaner on any back roads, but the fact was – she wasn’t set up for me to do so. We all take efforts to dial in our bikes to fit our bodies, riding styles and preferences. Her stock setup was absolutely not ideal for my off-road specs. But would I take her there? Dirt road and easy trails would be fine. However, I am not sure I would take her in challenging off-road terrain. I prefer more subtle throttle control with torque and power when I need it, not as a first and only resort. That’s my point of view. I would love to hear those who prefer the Stelvio off-road.

Other items

Hand levers… This was an interesting mix. The clutch felt like standard Harley brakes: Grab a handful and squeeze!
Meanwhile, the brakes were as refined as that Italian art I originally mentioned: gentle, finesse, grace. Like a Beemer – one finger to slow, two to stop.

Overall Impression

It wasn’t what I expected, and yet, it was a lot of fun. I was regularly reminded of the interview I did with Carla King where she mentioned the problem with her testing the Moto Guzzi’s in Italy was that they DIDN’T break-down. I had no impression that the bike would let me down or leave me stranded at all. She definitely felt like she had the brawn and guts to hold it all together. Would I buy one? Not for the style of riding I am heading towards now. If I was to live in the Italian countryside for a while – I would definitely consider it.

Notes:

Kerry Sturgis, Service Manager at Santa Rosa BMW: I was told beforehand that Kerry is only one who should handle my service needs in this part of California. A SUPER high recommendation!
Harley Brakes: I have heard that this latest HD revamp includes MUCH more sensitive brakes. That is good to hear. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity yet to find out for myself.

007 – Jim Hyde – RawHyde Adventures

Jim Hyde of RawHyde Adventures


RawHyde Adventures
When I was first becoming interested in adventure motorcycling – watching BackCountry Discovery Route videos, and scouring YouTube for new ways to play with motorcycles it seemed Jim Hyde and RawHyde Adventures were ubiquitous. It’s no surprise considering how ingrained he is in the adventure community in America, and for that matter the impact he has had.

If you are unfamiliar with Jim Hyde he is the Owner of RawHyde Adventures, “The premier destination for Adventure Riding.” They have trained thousands of riders at their 4 training facilities located in California and Colorado. They also conduct tours all over the US and world, as well as hosting several unique riding events each year. He has a concept of playing hard in the dirt during the day and fine dining at night. This is a concept that many find to have a GREAT appeal.

I was fortunate enough to take Intro To Adventure and Base Camp Alpha in September 2015 and have kept in touch with the crew since. My current ride, a 2017 R1200GS, was purchased from them at the end of last year.

We stopped by to help the crew set up for their Adventure Days event earlier this year. While there I was able to enjoy a few minutes chatting with Jim and he shared some entertaining stories. He is always a great story teller, so I hope you enjoy today’s episode as much as I did talking with him.

In today’s episode we talk about:

  • The definition of a ‘Re-Entry Rider’,
  • Jim tells his own re-entry story,
  • The RawHyde story,
  • The part Harley Davidson riders are playing, and
  • The future of RawHyde Adventures.

Jim & RawHyde Adventures can be reached at:

Rawhyde Adventures – https://rawhyde-offroad.com

Also mentioned in this podcast:

Beaches Motorcycle Adventures
BMW GS Adventure Motorcycles
Dolomite Mountains
BMW’s International GS Trophy Challenge Qualifier
BMW Owners News
Overlanding

 

Bicyclist. Where? Everywhere!

Exuberance of the Day

Yu Yang starting his America journey in Ushuaia, Argentina
Yu Yang starting his America journey in Ushuaia, Argentina

Traveling North on the Dalton highway at a good clip. Enjoying my day and feeling top of the world thinking I am doing something so out of the ordinary, (extreme in some people’s book – which just adds to the momentary enjoyment), that most people will never have an experience as unique as this! It’s an exhilarating feeling…
… and then I pass a bicyclist.

Huh!?!

We’re on the North Slope of Alaska riding across arctic tundra where no tree grows and there is over 200 miles between camp stops. How? Why? What motivated you? Peddling the whole way?Nothing so impresses me as to see people taking THIS kind of challenge. It’s one thing to ride a motorcycle that is built for almost any terrain and capable of carrying large loads to the middle of nowhere. To ride a bicycle with clothing, food, camp, etc. is a truly impressive feat in my book.

And bicyclists are everywhere!!!

This is the course he has taken northward in the Americas!
This is the course he has taken northward in the Americas!

I do not mean to highlight this particular rider, because there was not only one on that long lonely beautiful road. I see them everywhere! Yesterday I met a young man from Beijing, China, named Yu Yang, who has spent the past two and a half years traveling on bicycle from Ushuaia, Argentina to Haines Junction, Yukon Territory, Canada where I met him. He is on his way to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and hopes to get there before the weather gets too poor to cycle. He’s heading into the place that we’re heading away from because the weather was getting to cold to ride! 

BTW: He’s also spent years riding across India and Afghanistan, and from Ethiopia to South Africa. He wrote a book about his ride across Africa which is helping to fund this trip.

Still finding magic!

All-in-all I have met some truly amazing and incredible people while on the road; far beyond what I could have imagined before we left. I guess I’m still discovering much of the magic of traveling.

People riding bicycles from Ushuaia to Prudhoe Bay… I may have to add bicyclists to the interview lineup. After all, they really are Travelers On Two Wheels!

I really do look forward to future discoveries. What next?

006 – Rich Oliver – Sliding Sideways in the Dirt

Sliding Sideways in the Dirt at
RICH OLIVER’s MYSTERY SCHOOL

Rich Oliver - Mystery School - Sliding Sideways in the Dirt
Rich Oliver at Laguna Seca in 2018

After street riding for so many years I was honestly excited and intimidated by the idea of taking a motorcycle and sliding sideways through turns in the dirt. That is exactly what Rich attempted to teach me during his two day Fun Camp, and boy was it a good time!!!

Besides being an excellent instructor with a wicked sense of humor, Rich has quite a bit of racing credibility. He is a retired American Motorcyclist Association professional road racer whose credentials include Five National Road Racing Championships and over 71 race victories.

You may ask what a winning road racer is doing teaching a school on flat track dirt racing. We will delve into the correlation between the two and how you too can benefit as a street rider from learning to ride off-road. As well, dirt riders of all kinds can learn new skills along with a boat-load of fun by coming out to play at his Mystery School!

As a consummate student I enjoy studying about the ancient Mystery Schools. I wondered why Rich named his school as he did. You can find the answers to this and more at his Frequently Asked  Questions page at: https://www.richoliver.net/pages/faq

In today’s episode Rich talks about:

  • His inspiration to get into motorcycles,
  • His transition from road racing to teaching dirt flat track riding, and
  • How riding on the dirt improves street riding skills which also helped him become a national champion.

If you would like to contact Rich, he can be reached at:

Rich Oliver’s Mystery School Website: https://www.richoliver.net
Phone: (559) 855-3089
eMail: webmaster@richoliver.net

Also mentioned in this podcast:

Rich Oliver’s Mystery School Two Day Fun Camp
Laguna Seca – http://www.weathertechraceway.com
Kenny Roberts – AMA Hall of Fame

Granite Mountain Motorcycle Madness – HUMM

Yes, This Happens
Gotta smile when your bike is down on a sloped rocky path.

There we were – a team of four committed crazy fools racing along rocky mountain trails on heavy motorcycles looking for a red zip-tie around the base of some twig in the middle of the Arizona mountains.  Continue reading Granite Mountain Motorcycle Madness – HUMM

Our RV Maiden Voyage – Truck Fire and Cholla Garden

Oh what are we going to do now? Do we watch it burn or go make lunch?
Truck burning in the middle of Joshua Tree National Park

“Man this thing is huge! I mean really big.” We both said as we watched the truck in front of us burn – one boom after another, flame spouts and black smoke blowing across the road. There was no way we could turn this thing around on this two lane road in the middle of the desert.Jean had asked me to ride in the RV for the first trip, so I couldn’t even go for help on the motorcycle. How long would we be stuck here in our new “home on wheels”?

Continue reading Our RV Maiden Voyage – Truck Fire and Cholla Garden

Jean Marie’s First Blog Post ~ Preparing to Leave O’ahu

Aloha! As I get ready to leave O’ahu to travel, many people have asked how they will know about my adventures this coming year. I decided to start a blog so people will know what I’m up to.

Who

Greg and I plan to take a year off to travel the mainland to see the “other 49”. We will be taking Nalu our 6 year old puppy and Buckingham our 17 year old cat along for the ride.

What

A road trip on the mainland US. We will have an  RV andmotorcycle which we will be able to trade off driving.

When

We plan to be gone by the end of March 2018. We will be on the mainland to celebrate our 19 year anniversary on April 1st and my dad’s 80th birthday on April 16th.

Where

The plan is to have a memorable experience in as many states as possible we want to see National and State parks, as many caves as possible & visit family.

Why

Why not?

Work

I have only two more days of work, kind of a scary feeling. Many mahalo’s to my OluKai ’Ohana. OluKai has been a wonderful company to work for, Tiana, Tanya and Collette have became good friends. Our accounts have been an absolute pleasure to work with.

I WILL MISS YOU ALL!!!!

Friends and Family (‘Ohana)

Our blood family is all on the mainland so as we travel we will get to spend time with them. We are spending time with our friends here as much as possible before we go. I had a wonderful birthday this week. Today I got to do an amazing dive with Rob & Maura. I want to spend as much time in the water as I can before I go.

Stay Tuned

So that’s all folks. This is my first attempt at a blog post. More to come as we finish packing up the house and prepare to leave O’ahu.

2018 Will Be a Year of Travel

Next year is going to be a year of travel. 
Starting some point between the middle of February and the end of March/beginning of April we are getting on the road to see the other 49 states. Yes living in Hawaii is idyllic, but not the best for a person with motorcycle wanderlust. So, we decided to spend a year on the road (more or less).

The Plan
We’ll pack up the house, rent it out and get on the roads in the US for a year or until we change our mind:
– it’s grows old or uncomfortable (crotchitiness sets in),
– it gets too cold (this is my actual fear),
–  or we decide to switch to international travel (this is my hope!)

The Goals
– To see the National Parks
– To see many National Monuments
– To do something in memorable in each of the states (If could be simply a memorable meal)
– To see family lots
– To see LOTS of caves and caverns (Jean)
– To enjoy several motorcycle events both on and off-road (Greg) Continue reading 2018 Will Be a Year of Travel