Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Review: Gaerne Balance Pro-Tech

"This boot is made of leather construction and features a new mold injection shin guard as well as three aluminium buckles that are replaceable. The sole is gum rubber to provide feel and control."

Image and description courtesy of the Gaerne USA web site.

I have finally found a nice pair of boots that are good for commuting (Spring & Fall - too hot for Summer) and light dual-sport riding. These boots were comfortable right out of the box but, as with all motorcycling footwear, require some break-in. They are not advertised as being water proof. If you'd like that feature, you'll need to get the Gaerne Balance Oiled boot (and pay about $100 extra dollars). As with all of my outdoor footwear, I chose to apply Sno Seal (two coats, actually) to the leather. I use a hair dryer to warm the leather so that it soaks in. I was especially diligent in getting the product into the area where the leather is stitched to the sole. Even after two applications, the leather still soaks up the wax to a dry surface. The directions indicate that if some product is left on the leather's surface, to wipe it off. I would imagine that this condition shows the leather has reached a 'saturation' point. Apparently, I can apply more sealant.

In an effort to break them in but not suffer too terribly, I have been wearing the boots to work. This exposes them to walking motions but also subjects them to body heat so that the boot can form to your foot. I noticed that it was a little difficult to press the rear brake pedal, initially, but that by the end of the first week, the articulation had increased dramatically. Also, without the calf-length or knee-length socks, the top of the boot can chafe your calf. Again, by the end of the week, that had abated somewhat.

These boots have very little impact protection for the ankle. So if you're going to be in any setting that exposes the foot and ankle to solid objects, you may want to consider an MX style boot or a dual-sport boot with a hard shell, like the AXO Prime (which I also happen to own). Gaerne does list both the Balance Oiled and the Balance Pro-Tech as trials type boots. Their offering for the dual-sport crowd is the GX-1, SG-10 and the SG-12. However, Gaerne considers them to be "MX" style boots (which can be too stiff/overkill for dual sport riding). A good compromise boot continues to be elusive.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Honda NX-Series - Non-U.S.

I made a new friend through the Adventure Rider forums. I was actually poking through the NX250 discussion thread and came across someone that was looking for information for the NX125. So, I replied. I never got a response, from that person, but did hear from "Leo.G" in Argentina. It seems that Leo has an NX150 which is more similar to the NX125 than the NX250 (there seem to be quite a few NX250 owners but not so many NX125 owners, on AdvRider). After trading a few private messages, Leo was kind enough to send me some images of his NX150 as well as an NX200 of a friend.

So, let's have a look:

If you're headed to the gym, be sure to hop on your 1991 NX150. Be prepared to endure comments about your Flashdance outfit and being "stuck" in the 80s.

For comparison, here's Leo's NX150. Note the masculine black/blue color scheme and distinct lack of spandex.

Leo also included some images of an NX200. I think I prefer the look of the low front fender (no offense Leo). I'm also jealous of the color choices (the NX125 came only in white in the US). That cinnamon red is sexy! It appears that the rear rack was a common option available all over the world.

If I recall correctly, Leo said this NX used to belong to a friend of his.

A big thanks to Leo for sharing.

Here's another version of the NX, an NX400 Falcon. I found this picture in a ride report thread, over on Adventure Rider.

Here's a random internet shot of the same bike, courtesy of Google:

I wonder if that's the same motor as the XR400.

You may be wondering why, all of a sudden, that I have an interest in more engine displacement. Well, it appears that the company, for which I am employed, is going to move. It will be three miles, each way, closer to home. However, the roads that I will need to traverse are much more heavily traveled and have a higher speed limit. While the NX, in its current configuration, is capable of the necessary speed, it lacks quickness; the ability to quickly out-accelerate a car or large truck. So, I thought about the NX250. However, I kind of like the 21"/18" wheel combination and, as you might have read previously, think that the NX125 would make an adventure bike if it had a few more cc of engine displacement. So, instead of an NX250, perhaps it's time to consider an engine swap. The motor out of an 1986-93 XR200R (or 1986-87 TLR200) appears to be based on the same basic design. Simply swap in a donor motor and off we go. OR, perhaps it's more fun/interesting to build a "sleeper" motor. I have a spare 125cc motor out of an NX125. Could it be as simple as swapping the liner and piston? I'd have to think the cam would be involved as well as the carburetor. More research is going to be necessary. Just in time for winter........

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day Weekend: Washington DC

My wife and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary (belatedly) by spending the Labor Day weekend in Washington DC. I have to say that DC is the most bike/bicycle/scooter friendly metropolitan area I've been to in some time (and I live in the Chicago suburbs). Chicago touts itself as being very bicycle friendly, I think it has serious competition. DC has taken the ZipCar idea and applied to to bicycles. Capitol BikeShare appears to be very popular with both locals and tourists alike. I'm guessing one of the main reasons for this is the concentrated downtown area where you can easily access businesses and tourist attractions. My wife and I walked to almost every place we visited. We figure that we walked about sixteen miles over the course of two and a half days. You can even take the train from Reagan/National airport to the downtown area. We did not rent a car, there's no need unless you need to get outside the Beltway. I did see this parked in the George Washington University footprint:

No license plate so I'm guessing that's got an engine less than 150cc. Looks like a blast to me. Small scooters, like the Honda SH150i, abound. Small bikes, up to 250cc, would be just as advantageous.

A note for those of you, from other countries, that are thinking of visiting the US: please have a basic knowledge of the English language. If I cannot communicate with you, I cannot help you. Also, leave your (bad) attitude at home. Don't come to my country and then get bent-out-of-shape when no one speaks your language or you don't like the rules. The typical American is not multilingual but some museum employees are. If you respect us, we will respect you.