Friday, October 30, 2015

Seat Concepts Seat Upgrade

I have been mostly happy with the stock seat on my 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT after 18,300 miles, but, as the season comes to a close, I decided that I wanted to try something different that specifically might level out a little of that steep ski slope in the front of the seat. Here are some photos of what I'm talking about when I refer to the slope. You have a tendency to slide down that slope and incur all the consequences thereof ... if you guys know what I mean.

The aftermarket seat options for the Versys 1000 are starting to develop so I had a few things to look at. Here's a link to my Seat Options Post. I decided to go with Seat Concepts.

Upon return from my recent road trip, I had my new Seat Concepts Seat Foam and Cover waiting for me and my 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT. Seat Concepts doesn't sell a complete seat, just the foam and cover. The Seat Cost was $169.99 and shipping was just under $20.

You can self install the foam/cover, have a professional upholsterer install it or Seat Concepts will install it for $20 if you send them your pan. I've changed seat covers and foams before and find it to be much more of a pain in the rear than you'd expect. Personally, I think it's better to have a pro do it. So I dropped the stock seat and the Seat Concept parts off at my upholsterer, Anthony Custom Upholstery in Brandon, Florida. Anthony's has done a couple motorcycle seats for me and has always done a pretty good job. They've also done some auto restoration for me. They charged $75 to replace the foam and cover.

Here are some looks at the new Seat Concepts Seat installed:

Here is a comparo of two stock photos of the seat. The stock is on the left and a photo sent to me by Seat Concepts of the seat on a V1000 they'd previously done is on the right.

Initial specs and thoughts:
  • It's really a good looking seat! The different textures stand out.
  • The design takes out a good deal of that annoying slope in the front. The overall feel is much more flat than the stock.
  • The seat height of the stock seat is 33 inches. The seat height of the Seat Concepts Seat is 32.5 inches. Obviously, that difference comes out of the foam. Although only half an inch, I can definitely feel this difference. It feels like I'm sitting "much" lower in the saddle and my knees feel like they're "much" higher. I couldn't flat foot both sides of the bike before the Seat Concepts and can't after, but it comes with a sensation of sitting low in the saddle.
  • The width of the stock seat at is widest point in the seating area is 14.25 inches. The width of the Seat Concepts Seat (at the tag) is 14.75 inches. Ditto, for some reason I can feel that the seat is wider. I can sit way back in the seat without sliding forward due to a flatter seat and the no slip fabric.
  • The gripper material on the main and rear seat are highly textured for no slippage. You're definitely not going to slide around or into the remaining slope. That was one of the issues with the stock; you would slide into the slope ... crotch first, if you know what I mean.
  • I used the seat on a 5 1/2 ride (Sugarloaf Mountain Loop). My endurance level on the Seat Concepts seat is going to be exactly the same as the stock seat even though the foam is thinner. The seat clearly feels thinner. It also feels flatter. Even though it's definitely flatter, I feel like I'm sitting lower, in a valley. I think it's going to take some getting used to.
On the downside, there's always an issue and here's the issue I have with the new seat ... even though it's using the stock seat pan, there is a fairly significant gap between the seat and the tank/frame at the front! Not only can you see it in my photos below, you can also see it quite prominently in the comparo photo above. Again, ^ Seat Concepts sent me that photo of the seat on a black Versys 1000 and, admittedly, I didn't notice the gap that is now fairly clear.

These two photos show the gap on my Versys:

When I got the photos of the installed foam/cover before my purchase, I didn't notice that gap. In person, it's more than inconsequential. I do not think it's an installation issue. Rather, I think the cover may be a little on the short side causing it to pull back on the plastic seat pan.

Hmmmm. Not sure what I think about this. Obviously return isn't an option. Can I live with it? Probably. Perhaps the material will stretch a little and fill the gap. Or maybe the cover is too short. I once bought a seat cover that was too short and Dean at Anthony's sewed a piece on the front to make it fit. That may also be an option. I sent Seat Concepts a preliminary email asking some of these basic questions. We'll see what they say.

Not an issue to panic over, but I set up this blog to pass along my experiences and that's what I plan on doing.

Here's the response from Seat Concepts:

"I just looked over our pics of the seat we installed, yes the gap is a little larger than the oem, but it is no where as large as what you have. Our foam is much softer than the oem stuff, so in certain cases where it is very thin, like the area by the tank, extreme care must be used when installing the set cover to not pull it too tight and squish the foam too tight. Even when we install it, it still turns out a little larger, but not obtrusively so, especially when you factor in the extra comfort our seat provides. Also from looking at your pices it looks like the cover is just installed too tight in general and is causing the seat base to spread out at the bottom and compounding the situation."


Check out my blog post on other aftermarket Seat Options for the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT.

In hindsight, I think I might now recommend having Seat Concepts do the installation of the foam and cover. It's their product and they know it best and that way you keep any issue that may arise between you and them.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Apache Trail Arizona

One of my greatest rides this year was the Apache Trail Loop located east of Mesa, Arizona. The loop is 125 miles and includes 22 miles of gnarly washboard dirt/sand roads. Somewhere in the middle of the dirt patch is Fish Creek Hill, an extremely steep, 15-17 degree, descent.

The photo I took at the bottom is my favorite photo for 2015.

Here's a look at the entire loop.

A full report on my Apache Trail Loop can be LINKED HERE.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

TomTom Rider Update 5

As I've become more and more used to the TomTom Rider Gen 5 I have provided a great deal of operating information and updates on this SatNav GPS in this blog. My last update (Update 4) was back in July. My TomTom Rider currently reflects 257 hours of use and 15,048 miles (18,293 total miles on the motorcycle).

One of the complaints that persisted regarding the TomTom Rider was that the docking station fractures where the four bolts hold the Ram Ball Mount and breaks away from the GPS. The complaints seemed more related to the installation process, wherein the owners were applying too much torque. I took that into account and used locktite and hand tightened the bolts.

I have now experienced what I believe to be the same damage, but due to rough conditions. As I was riding through the Texas Hill Country on my recent road trip, the GPS fell off the mount due to the exact same fractures previously complained about. Fortunately the lead kept it from falling to the road. Also fortunately, I was on the last leg of my road trip and didn't need a GPS to find my way home from San Antonio.

Looking at the mount (below) you can see that the bolt holes in the mount are elevated. There are metal inserts that are still attached to the ram mount. The damage/fractures are where the elevations in the mounting holes are.

Below is a stock photo of the docking station that the GPS slides onto. The photo above shows it's back with the fractured holes and the Ram Mount. The replacement cost me $65 from Rider Discount. I could only find it with a new harness, which I didn't need.
Now to be fair, while the GPS fell off it's mount in Texas, I believe that the actual damage was likely caused back in Arizona. My last side trip prior to the Texas Hill Country was the Apache Trail that, as discussed in my report on that loop, included 22 miles of extremely rough, washboard-like dirt roads. I think that's where the damage originated. Then the Texas roads, which are rough even at the Interstate level, did it in. However, we'll never know. Clearly in extremely rough conditions any GPS (or electronic) device should probably be dismounted and secured. I regret not doing that.

I've been extremely happy with the TomTom Rider. It's done everything I've asked of it for 15,000 miles. Of course, I'm not happy about the fracture, but I'm quick to replace the dock rather than look at some other models. I can only hope that the docking station doesn't break again. If it does, then I'll need to rethink the whole GPS thing.

2016 Model Year

Kawasaki has released the Versys 1000 LT for the 2016 model year. Reviews and comparisons are few and far between at the moment. However, based on the Kawa Specs Released, it doesn't appear that there are any significant technical changes. The msrp went up $200 to $12,999.

2015 colors (Orange and Black) are replaced for 2016 with ... (eye searing) Kawasaki Green and Titanium on Black.
Until more details are released, reviewing the 12,000 Comprehensive Review I wrote on my 2015 Versys 1000 LT may be worth a few minutes to an interested party. CLICK HERE.

Based on my 18,000 miles in the saddle, the Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT has proven to be a great sport touring model and is well deserving of being designated 2015 Motorcycle of the Year by two prominent sources. I'm sure the 2016 model will have equal success.

Friday, October 23, 2015

SEDICI Arturo Mesh

As Summer temperatures begin to subside here in Florida, I wanted to take a look back at the gear that I picked up in March 2015 for my Summer riding and touring season. Back in early April I stopped into my local Cycle Gear and picked up a SEDICI armored Arturo Mesh Jacket and matching armored Arturo Mesh Pant for about $250. I thought that they looked like a pretty good set of gear and they definitely were at the right price.

Features and Benefits from Cycle Gear:
  • Durable ultra-flow mesh outer material with reinforced 600 denier panels for comfort and protection.
  • Highly abrasion resistant 600 denier seat.
  • Reflective detail for increased viability.
  • Removable waterproof, windproof, and breathable liner from protection from the elements.
  • Two zip entry hand warmer pockets.
  • Comfort stretch panels above knees/elbows for added comfort in the riding position.
  • Pull through waist tabs for variable fit.
  • Zip entry ankle/wrist closures with tab adjustment.
  • Short jacket connection zipper.
  • CE-Approved armor.
  • Memory foam comfort back panel.

I got a great deal of use out of the Arturo Mesh Gear. It was used for most of the 18,000 summer miles that I put on my 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT. We rode cross country twice, made a couple runs up into the Smokys and then did a number of other medium to short rides in the region. We saw a lot of different conditions and a lot of rain, as we had one of the rainiest summers here in Florida this year.

The mesh material was fairly consistent with mesh gear that I've used in the past. Without the liners, it breaths well and does it's job. The material is durable; I have no rips in the material anywhere, including the seat.

The set has a slew of zippers and they all continue to work properly without any snagging.

The pant and jacket are connectable via a zipper in the back. I never use that feature, but rather just treat it like a pants and jacket combo.

Sizing was kind of strange. I would typically wear a normal large jacket, but the extra large jacket felt like a much better fit than the large that seemed way too tight. As for the pant, I'd normally wear a 36 inch waist, but the 34 inch was the size that fit. I tried on both jacket and pant with and without the liner and picked those sizes. The pant size worked out well for the entire season. However, the chest of the jacket puffed way out when riding and I ended up doing some adhoc tailoring using safety pins to get it to tie down tighter on my upper trunk.

The liners are dual layered, where the outer layer is waterproof and the inner layer is sort of a vinyl. They attach securely to the jacket and pant with zippers and a network of snaps (two at each wrist and two at each ankle). The ankle of the legs on the liner can be tightened with a Velcro strap. The wrist of the jacket has a latex strap to tighten. The liners are very easy to remove and install.

The liners are waterproof as advertised, but the mesh shell results in a chilling effect (air on water) while riding in rain, causing an uncomfortable refrigeration on your body parts. It's best to wear a sweater or heavy long-sleeved shirt under the liner. On the other hand, when the weather gets colder and the liner stays dry, the liner provides a good degree of protection from the cold ... due to the next point.

The liners are not very breathable, if at all. Riding with the liners installed (including during rain riding) will cause body sweat. I found it necessary to thoroughly rinse out the liners every other day while on trips or else they'd begin to smell bad. Alternatively, as mentioned above, the liners serve well as a layer against cold. I would place them at a good 55-60 degree base layer.

The pant had a very bad tendency to ride up my legs, which is characteristic of many types of motorcycle pant. However, when it did that, the knee padding irritated my knees to the point that on one occasion they bled and I needed to stop and buy some freaking band-aids. Keeping the pant leg tied down with boot straps kept them from both riding up my leg and causing the irritation.

I typically used the strap type boot strap, that straps under the foot. You can see them in the photos above. Those strap type have a tendency to stretch out and get caught on parts. Late in the year I went to the boot strap type as shown in the photo below. This type worked perfectly; never came loose, never got stuck on parts, always held well.


Overall, I give the SEDIC Arturo Jacket and Pant a 3.5 on a scale of 1 to 5. The gear got an immediate mark down due to some fitment issues with the jacket. However, once I fixed the fitment issues the mesh gear worked and wore very well (durable). It's protective features seem very good with elbow, knee and back armor; as good as one can expect from any mesh set.

The gear gets a another mark down because the liners, while waterproof, do not breath well at all. As liners, they're not necessarily intended to be installed full time. However, you do need to make some decisions about liner use for your daily riding. With these that's a toss of the dice. It either rains and your installation paid off, or you get drenched in your own sweat. On a couple positive notes, the liner removal and installation is fast and easy and, while not intended, they make good layers against cold temps.

The gear pulls through with a great appearance (suppose that's in the eye of the beholder) and an overall decent level of comfort both when riding and scoping out the sights on your tours.

On a scaled of 1 to 5, where 5 is best:
    Appearance 4
    Fitment 3
    Comfort 4
    Durability 3
    Liner Removal/Install 4
    Fall Protection 3
    Element Protection 2
    Overall 3.5

That leaves value. There are a number of offerings for mesh summer gear. I think that I got my money's worth in the SEDICI Arturo Gear and expect at least another summer season out of them.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fall 2015 Road Trip (5,348 Miles)

I'm just wrapping up a Fall 2015 Road Trip that covered 5,348 miles and gave me an opportunity to see some sights from my wish list that are long overdue. October is a great time to fit in such a trip since it seems that the Holidays consume most of the rest of the year. Below is the general road trip plan, that excludes the many side loops that I got in along the way.

Details of my Fall 2015 Road Trip are in these seven Posts (linked):

The trip started on October 7th when I took a two day, leisurely ride up to Birmingham, Alabama to attend the Barber Vintage Festival. The Barber Fest is one of two vintage motorcycle festivals that the Big Versys and I attended. The other was the AMA Vintage Days in Lexington, Ohio. Both are great events.

From Birmingham, I rode 504 miles to Ozark, Arkansas and spent a good deal of a cool Fall day riding the Ozark Pig Trail and a number of other great roads in the Ozark Mountains. I was really impressed with this country and have a note to make a specific trip here next year.

From Ozark, I rode across Oklahoma and into Shamrock, Texas where I stayed on Historic Route 66. The next morning, I rode west to Amarillo and then down to Roswell, New Mexico. The reason I rode to Roswell was not to find aliens, but to pick up what was supposedly a good ride from Roswell up to Willard through the New Mexico deserts. Not a bad ride and there was nothing out there and I mean nothing. On this side trip I hit the 15,000 mile mark...and my GPS started doing wonky things. And that's why I carry maps. I'd ripped the specific pages I may need out of an Atlas.

From Willard, I targeted Arizona where we did a number of things. Arizona is a state I've been to a couple times in the saddle, but have never gotten the chance to really explore. Here are a few of things we did and places we visited while in Arizona.

  • Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Parks
  • Meteor Crater
  • Grand Canyon
  • Superstition Mountains
  • Apache Trail
I found that the Petrified Forest wasn't all about petrified wood. If you want to see that, there are dozens of souvenir shops in any direction from the Park that will sell any size hunk of the stuff. The kewl part is the desert and natural topography. Plus National Parks are always set up nicely to ride through. Same with Canyon Land, Arches and Zion up in Utah.

I've always wanted to see Meteor Crater. It's quite a site!

Never been to the Grand Canyon before. It's endless! And the colors are amazing. You just don't see the spectrum of color in the Canyon by looking at my pictures.

How would you like to take a dual sport down into that?

 These below are the Superstitions. You can see them looming on the horizon from Mesa all the way into Apache Junction, Arizona.

This below is my favorite photo of the trip. It was taken at the bottom of Fish Creek Hill on the Apache Trail.

After Arizona, I rolled over to Kerrville, Texas (just east of San Antonio) and spent a day riding the Hill Country. I'd been there once before in connection with an Adventure Challenge, but wasn't able to enjoy as much of it as I was on this ride.

After the Texas Hill Country I headed back to Tampa. Upon my return I'd covered 5,348 miles in 14 days. That brings the tally in total miles on the 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT to 18,293 since I purchased the motorcycle on March 31. Not bad, but it's ranked second. I have a road trip back in 2012 that covered over 12,500 over 36 days.

Check out the following seven (7) posts covering all the details and many more pictures of the Fall 2015 Road Trip.

Barber Lotus Race Cars

The first leg of my Fall 2015 Road Trip was a run up to the Barber Motorsports Complex in Birmingham, Alabama to attend the Barber Vintage Festival.

Barber hosts one of the two big vintage motorcycle festivals in the states. The other is the AMA Vintage Days in Lexington, Ohio. This year, the Big Versys and I were fortunate to make both events.

While the festival is outstanding, the center piece of the Barber event is it's world famous vintage motorcycle museum. However, often over looked is the outstanding collection of vintage lotus race cars. Having once owned a vintage Lotus (1977 Lotus Esprit S1) I tend to be attracted to the Lotus collection.

Here are a few photos of the Lotus race cars, plus a Ferrari.

These and hundreds of vintage motorcycles make the Barber Museum one of the most famous motorcycle museums in the world. I didn't take a lot of photos this round, but here's a LINK to a slide show from one of my visits to the museum.

Oh, and this year, Barber's theme was a tribute to John Britten.