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Europe On The Cheap
My wife and I spend a couple of weeks on a motorcycle every summer. We’re shooting for Europe next year, but most organized tours are too expensive. Dawdling across Italy, Spain, France or Portugal in some prearranged parade doesn’t sound like much fun anyway, but I don’t speak Italian, Spanish, French or Portuguese. I’m not looking for Europe on $20 a day, but I can’t spend $20,000 either. Any suggestions?
According to our friend, racer, riding instructor and relentless global voyager Ned Suesse, Southern Europe’s relaxed vibe makes it a good fit for first-timers. Small towns are friendlier and cheaper than big cities. Start with some homework. “Google is a great place to research European bike rentals,” Suesse says. “Get all the details on cost, allowable mileage, how they handle insurance and damage. Read some history ahead of time and those castles, aqueducts and city walls will come alive when you see them.
“Get a pocket-sized phrasebook/dictionary and memorize a few likely words. Start a conversation with a smile in another person’s language and they’re more likely to help. I usually look up a few recommendations for an area and then see what’s appealing once I get there. Hotel staffs often speak English, and can be a great resource for finding other places that suit you. Rustic accommodations often make up with character what they lack in grandeur, and most are easier on the wallet as well. The occasional loaf of fresh bread, some meat, cheese and fruit instead of a restaurant meal does wonders for the bottom line. Frustrations are inevitable, but you’re making the trip because Europe isn’t Indiana. Patience and a smile are always your greatest assets. Bring both with you and the simplest conversation can turn into a great adventure!”
I’m ready to buy a Ducati 1198, but am leery of the cost of laying one down—especially after reading horror stories about bikes being effectively totaled after tipping over in the driveway. Do you guys have any experience with such things?
Us? Crash? No, never… A tip-over or relatively minor low-side—scuffed bits with nothing big bent or broken—will likely cost about $2500, assuming you replace the damaged bodywork with brand-new parts from your local dealer. The consequences of a major high-speed get-off like the one shown here could double or triple that figure with the added cost of the gas tank, handlebar(s), hand and foot controls, fairing brackets, etc. Ducati clutches are notoriously fragile, and that dented cover suggests the basket behind it is likely toast, too. If the frame is damaged, add another $3000 and expect your insurance company to total the bike.
I purchased a new 2006 Suzuki Boulevard C90T in January of ’07, and was more than happy with the purchase until 18 months ago. I have always been able to let it idle while I put on my gear. Now it stalls repeatedly until warmed up. After that, it idles fine. I have taken it to two Suzuki dealers and several independent shops, but no one has been able to cure the problem. The last dealer told me the bike isn’t supposed to sit and idle. Outside temperature has no effect except the engine warms up faster in the summer. I have tried tune-ups, fuel-system cleaners and changing fuel grades, all to no avail. I live 7000 feet above sea level, but the problem persists when I visit my son, who lives closer to sea level.
Suzuki’s tech types say your troubles are likely related to the fuel-injection’s fast-idle setting, but there are a few things to check first. Make sure your injectors are getting the compulsory 43-psi fuel pressure, and that the fuel pump is putting out 168 milliliters every 10 seconds. A dirty fuel filter can constrain both. Suzuki specifies NGK DPR7EA-9 sparkplugs equipped with 5000-ohm resistors. Non-resistor sparkplugs can induce erratic idling and poor throttle response. Synchronize the throttle bodies and adjust the throttle-position sensor to 1.12 volts closed and 4.41 volts in the open position. Once all that is squared away, have your dealer adjust the fast idle with the engine stone-cold, as in after it’s been parked overnight. Once the engine starts, the tech only has a few seconds to do the job.
Q: There are numerous configurations and layouts, but what does the rising-rate linkage in a modern single-shock rear suspension actually do?
A: In addition to its obvious role as the connection between shock and swingarm, the linkage turns relatively little shock travel into three or four times that at the wheel, allowing the use of a lighter, more compact shock. The farther you push a rising-rate linkage, the harder it is to push. That helps your rear suspension respond to small bumps without bottoming over big ones. Linkages used on streetbikes are relatively linear compared to the steeper leverage ratios on motocross bikes designed to clear 60-foot jumps.