Unit Garage Panniers

One of my main takeaways from this little jaunt that I did over the summer, was that I needed to figure out a real luggage solution for my bike if I was going to be taking anymore multi-day trips. I had been passively scanning the Revzilla spam emails, and paying a little closer attention to the other bikes I saw with good looking boxes or bags affixed to them. But I didn’t see anything that really stood out to me. A few weeks ago one of my friends from Union Garage randomly sent me a message about the new stuff they had received from the Italian outfit Unit Garage. So many garages!! At any rate, I knew right away that I had found the gear I was looking for. Can’t beat that Italian design!

Initially I ordered only the side boxes, hoping that I could retain the existing rear rack. Soon after I began installation, I realized that the existing rear rack would not be compatible with the pannier racks, and ended up ordering the top case as well. The Union Garage guys were very cool about making sure that I had matching lock cores for the whole set, so that I wasn’t carrying around extra keys (or worse, forgetting to carry them).

Installing the racks to the frame was a piece of cake. Getting the OEM under-tail unit to play nice with them is a different story. Ultimately I had to reposition the indicators a few inches to the rear (the pannier kit included parts for this), and shortened the stocks down to about an inch in length. I also had to take a sawzall to the stock tail light bracket and plate holder. I ended up going with an after market plate holder, but was able to use the original OEM tail light after trimming a few inches of plastic from the original housing.

I am very happy with the way they came out. The boxes are super nice with neoprene liners and leather top straps. Now I just need to plan another road trip!! Here are a few additional photos–

NE Moto Trek Recap

Somewhere in Southwestern Mass or Northern CT.

In early July, I was fortunate enough to cut loose from the desk for several days and explore some of the back roads of New England. Thanks to Backcountry Discovery Routes, several of such roads had already been mapped out for me. I was able to attend an event at Union Garage (at some pre-pandemic date) where the BDR guys basically unveiled the North East route. After watching the promotional film at the event, I was super stoked about trying it out someday. As it turns out, the route runs right through my neighborhood in the Catskills, and I now have a bike that goes off road. My plan was to ride sections 2, 3 and 4 as far as the top of Mt. Washington (then turn around and come back) in the space of 4 days. Long story short, I learned early on in my trip that it was unwise (borderline idiotic) to attempt some of the tougher parts of this route alone with no cell service. I made it as far as Chester VT, when the forecast turned to rain for the foreseeable future. As a result, I opted to turn around and spend a full day riding back to the Catskills instead of spending multiple more miserable days riding in the rain. As it was, I saw some very beautiful country. I had some very anxiety inducing moments in the deep back country, but ultimately made it out the other side. The ride back was insanely wet and dreary, but better one day than multiple. Here are some photos from the excursion. Most of them were unfortunately cell phone shots (taken in portrait orientation). But here they are anyway-

Somewhere Between Fleischmanns and West Kill NY

The photo above is the first section of really gnarly terrain that I encountered. This was on the downhill side, which I found much more difficult than the uphill. It was so rough that it shook my water bottle loose from its moorings. It is a lot of work wrestling a 600 LB bike through this stuff, especially when wearing full gear in 80+ degree (and humidity) weather. I had a moment when I stopped to take this photo where I wondered to myself exactly what I had gotten into.

A few Miles South of Copake Lake, NY

Western Mass (I think)

Canaan, CT

North Adams, MA

York Lake, MA.

The section above was another one where I almost got stuck/dropped the bike a few times. It had rained all night, and there was very slippery mud in the rutted out trail. You can see from the haze in the air how humid it was that morning.

Left: North Adams, MA. Right: Somewhere south of the Berkshires.

Left: Southern VT. Right: North Adams, MA

The Signs Don’t Lie in Farm Country

Beartown Mountain, MA

South Lee, MA

Grafton, VT

Left: Chester, VT. Right: Catskills, NY

Overall, it was an awesome experience. I highly recommend it, if you are into dual sport riding. Hoping to give it another shot next summer when I have (a) a proper luggage solution and, (b) some company.

Blue Hour in the Catskills (Part 3)

I’ve been doing some evening rides. Not always staying out until blue hour, but I did on Tuesday. Blue hour rides can be kind of sketchy because of all the deer that are out that time of night. But I can take it easy on the throttle around here since the traffic situation is basically non-existent. I usually do on backroads anyway, since I’m still learning all of the routes up here. Saw plenty of deer Tuesday night, but no close calls.

I like this set a lot because even though I put a super warm wash on them, the blue hour vibe still comes through pretty strong (in my opinion anyway). These were all shot on my Fujifilm X100S. It is a nice lightweight piece with good glass and a long enough strap that I can sling it cross body and shoot from the saddle. Since I have to use my right hand for the shutter, I usually just pull the clutch and snap a couple of quick ones while the throttle is closed. Anyway, here is some stuff I saw Thursday evening.

Craving Spring

Bella in Harriman State Park – Spring 2019

It’s that time of the winter when the holidays are in the rear view and I’m basically just waiting for it to warm up. These sentiments especially acute this year based on the fact that I have to sit out on all the usual winter sports that I like. There have been a few warm days where I have seen people out on their motos. It makes me jones a little.

I wrote about the glamping ride I did with Union Garage last fall. They subsequently put together a vid of that ride (some of the footage by yours truly). I’m embedding it here below in anticipation of it being riding weather again very soon!

The 2019 Union Garage GBGR from Union Garage on Vimeo.

Moto ‘Camping’ Columbus Day 2019

Columbus Day is one of those weird holidays. When I say “weird” I’m not even referring to the controversy surrounding the question of why it is even a holiday anymore. I’m talking about the fact that, even though the federal government and the banks are closed, only some businesses observe. Further, is the fact that the weather could go either way in the northeastern US. Some years it is still beach weather on Columbus days. Other years, there is snow on the ground. This year was one of those rare times when Columbus Day weekend in the tri-state area had exactly the weather that one would expect it to have; it felt like fall.

One of the local Brooklyn motorcycle shops (Union Garage) put together a ride to rural PA for an overnight glamping trip. I had been on a few rides organized by these guys before, so I knew that I could expect a mellow, no a-hole type of crew. I roped in my buddy Mike (from this ride), who also rides a Monster, to join in.

We met at the shop in Red Hook around 7 AM on Saturday and rode all day, taking back roads and enjoying the fall foliage. We even did a few surprise offroad miles. It wasn’t ideal for the people riding bikes with aging street tires, but everyone made it back to the pavement in one piece and it definitely made for some great stories. Mike and I skipped the last section of the local route and opted for highway, since daylight was fading and he only had a very tinted visor. Mike and I rolled into the campsite with about 30 minutes of daylight to spare. We were the first ones to arrive, and as result, were able to tap the keg and enjoy the sights and sounds of the rest of the group rolling in.

Dinner was prepared and served by the camp owners. This was followed by a bonfire, and a super legitimate firework show. A lot of the guys did full-on tent camping. Others (including myself) opted for the bunkhouse. In the morning, we woke up to the first frost, and it was a thick one. There was a nice coat of ice on everyone’s saddle. After breakfast, the crew split off into smaller groups and headed back east. We had a really great time. It was a great way to cap off the 2019 riding season. I hope I can do it again next year.

Some of the photos from the trip–

British Invasion (of Red Hook)

Union had a gaggle of classic Norton’s on display over the weekend. I managed to pop by on Saturday evening to swoon over them a bit. I’m not sure how I would do with the shifter on the “wrong” side, but the bikes sure are nice to look at. Here are a few of the snaps. As with many things in life, the devil is in the details.

The design of the speedo and tach in the photo below really drew me in. They reminded me a lot of the instrument cluster on my old man’s Honda XL 350 from the same era (although, if I remember correctly the background on XL’s dials was blue not black).

All of the race bikes had dry clutches like the one in the photo below. Super cool looking, and probably sound gnarly as well.

Really digging the “NYCNorton” stamped header hardware on the bike below.

The 2017 Commando (below) was super cool. It has all of the original Norton swagger, but is updated with modern tech and design notes. Notice that the shifter and rear brake lever have also migrated to the “normal” sides.

Union Garage X Roland Sands

Because apparently Jake.news is all moto all of the time these days…. Here is a cool little vid that a local Brooklyn shop, Union Garage, made during a recent group ride. The ride was partially to promote their pop-up with Roland Sands Design, and partially an excuse to get a bunch of riders together for a chill Saturday morning cruise. We started from the shop in Red Hook and rode out to the Rockaways by way of Bennett Field (see above aerial shot from their drone). The ride finished a few blocks from my house at Root Studios Brooklyn, where the Brooklyn Invitational was underway. You can see me flashing deuces at the 1:40 mark of the vid. The rest of the footage is also pretty good, hehe. I met some great people and had a really enjoyable time despite the iffy weather. Peep the vid below-

Union Garage X Roland Sands Design Shop Ride from Union Garage on Vimeo.

Harriman State Park by Moto

I brought a real camera with me last weekend for an early AM ride through Harriman State Park. It was perfect riding weather. Early morning, there was hardly any other non-motorcycle vehicular traffic (unless you count pedal bikes). Can’t wait to get back up there when the leaves are changing. I rode with my friend who also has a monster. Got some snaps similar to some from last year around this time.

Complete with obligatory timer selfie-

Split’n Lanes Dodgin’ Gutters Recap

About half of the weekends that I have spent in NY this summer have been rained out. This weekend fell squarely into the rainy category. I meant to ride Saturday AM, but Thor had other ideas. Sunday evening was equally soggy. Despite the precipitation, BK Bowl hosted the above referenced classic bike exhibit. I went. I took my cam and got some pics, despite the weird BK Bowl stage lighting. It’s funny how after only 1.5 years as a resident of Brooklyn, I’m seeing so much overlap at these shows. Whatever. I would gladly peep these bikes again over sitting home watching the rain come down. Here are a couple of snaps from the event-

Midsummer Moto Report

It’s hard to believe that we only have one month of summer left. I feel so much pressure every summer to make sure that I take advantage of all of the nice days, and make the best of the ones that aren’t so nice (because they are still nicer than the best day in winter). Summer is B’s busy season, including weekends, which leaves me with a bit of free time on at least one day of the weekend. I have been getting a bit of moto riding in, and bought a cheesy bar mount for my old skool gopro hero3. I have been experimenting with it a bit, mounting it in a few different spots on the bike. The vid below is a little slice of one of my usual weekend rides. The segment at the beginning- getting out of the city is sped up to 20x. It slows down to normal speed when I get to Harriman State Park. I have unfortunately been riding solo for most of this summer because everyone is having babies, etc.. Hoping to get the right camera situation dialed in before the next ride with my crew, and possibly upgrade to a gopro that shoots better than 1080p. I feel like that footage would be a lot more interesting to view. Anyway, for those who have 9ish minutes to spare, here’s a nice cross segment of city and country riding–

Basic NYC Weekend Moto from Jacob Breinholt on Vimeo.