Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ditch work to ride, again!

I took Monday off to ride with some fellow ADV'ers, and the awesome weather continued. So after not being able to concentrate at work on Tuesday because I was distracted by the nice weather, I just had to go riding on Wednesday. Not quite as sunny, but still very mild for November. It reached 15 Celsius. 

John  borrowed my motorcycle trailer for a few hours on Tuesday to haul his KTM 690 to his winter storage place. Then when he was dropping off the trailer, I convinced him to ditch work the next day and come riding with me.

John: But I just put my bike away for the winter!
Me: So what!  Take my DR. I want to ride the WR, and my DR has just been parked for over a week now. 

With that, a plan was hatched. He showed up at my place the next morning. We suited up and rode to Starbucks for a proper start to the day. We went to our usual riding location for some fast gravel roads: Tatlock Rd, California Rd, Darling Rd, Old Almonte Rd, Old Perth Rd, and a few others. Lunch in our favourite place: the home style restaurant in White River. 

As we arrived for coffee, a fellow ADV'er spotted us and stopped 
to say hello. We chatted for a bit and then he was heading off to work.

John getting rid of his coffee.

What a gorgeous day.

Tatlock quarry road was blocked off  just a 1/4 mile down the road

so we turned back and went exploring off a nearby trail 

Found and abandoned house and a foundation of a small outbuilding

spotted what looked to be a bicycle buried in the tall grass

appeared to have been left in the grass for at least 5 years

The last 2 minutes is close to the Tatlock mine quarry gate

6th Concession Rd (a trail, really, not a road) that leads to an abandoned house in the woods.

Ditch work to ride

Couldn't help but take advantage of this terrific fall weather, so I took a day off work to go riding with some fellow inmates from ADVRider. Denis organized the ride and proposed a route which involved some gravel roads in the Gatineau Park area.  The day was sunny and 14 Celcius.  Not really shorts and t-shirt weather, but for this time of the year it was a real treat from Mother Nature.

This was my first real ride on the new WR. Until this ride, I only rode it to work a couple of times. She's light and nimble, and the fuel injection works flawlessly. With 13/49 gearing, though, she's a little high strung on the highway -- not that we rode much on the highway, but let's just say the engine sings a little when you're doing 100 Km/h. But she's very willing to take it.

252 Kms. About 1/2 paved roads, 1/2 gravel roads

J-C's KLX250

Stopped to air down the tires a bit

Denis's KLX250S

Stopped for lunch at Subway, near Gracefield, QC

This was the first real run I did with the WR since I bought it last week.

Stopped to see some horses shortly after lunch.

Juame's recent purchase - an '03 KTM 640 Adventure
(a.k.a. The Paint Shaker). It's like the Buick Enclave of dirt bikes: powerful, comfortable, beautiful suspension, a great all-rounder. But this model's reputation for having lots of engine vibrations is quite true and accurate. Awesome machine, vibrations and all. He bought it earlier this summer but I hadn't seen him since then.

Stopping to empty our bladders on the ride home.

And some video footage from the day's ride

Friday, November 4, 2011

Importing a motorcycle from the USA to Canada

2009 Yamaha WR250X

If you're a Canadian considering the purchase of a motorcycle from the US market, you should spend an hour or so reading the Registrar of Imported Vehicles (RIV) website. Bringing it back home to Canada and making it road legal isn't as difficult as you might think, but it does require a little research and some patience.

The RIV website can make the process feel daunting...lots of complicated rules and regulations, and lots of exceptions. Fortunately, once you get started, you'll quickly realize that the process isn't that scary. Here's a quick summary of how it worked for me:

** keep in mind that I bought my bike used, from a private seller in New York State, although I suspect the process would be pretty much the same for a new or used bike being sold at a dealer.

Step 1: Once you've found your dream bike and negotiated a price will the seller, pay for the motorcycle in full. A deposit to hold the bike isn't going to fly for most people because the US Customs folks will want the paperwork for 3 days before you arrive (more on this in Step 2).  Therefore, you will probably have no choice but to pay the entire purchase price in full right away because the seller isn't going to feel comfortable proceeding to the next step until he has received all of his cash.

Step 2: The seller needs to send the original copy of his title document and registration paper (plus 3 photocopies) to the US Customs office at the border crossing where you plan to cross back into Canada. Because the seller is giving up his title documents, he/she probably won't be willing to do that unless they've been paid in full.  For the state of NY (and other states may be different) the title and licence plate regitration is the same document. It needs to arrive at the US Customs desk at least 72 hours before you plan to show up with the motorcycle. The clock starts.ticking the moment they receive the paperwork. But remember: while the border guards are there 24/7, the customs person who processes vehicle export/import only works 8am-4pm, Mon-Fri. My paperwork arrived on a Thurday afternoon (I called them to confirm) and they said they'd be ready for me to show up with the bike on Monday at 8am.

Step 3: Go get the bike and bring it to the US Customs desk at the border crossing. They will check the bike to ensure the VIN matches the paperwork, then they give you the original copy of the title and you're on to the next step.

Step 4: Cross the border with the bike and stop at the Canadian customs booth to declare your purchase. They'll send you inside and you'll need to provide your bill of sale (anf to make things easier, it's wise to bring a copy of the sales advertisement, and proof of your payment (ex: PayPal receipt). Also, you'll need the original title /registration document, and a letter from the manufacturer which states that there are no outstanding safety recall notices against your new bike (I called Yamaha Canada a few days earlier with the VIN and they emailed me a PDF document that confirmed this.

The Canada Customs person will charge you 5% GST on the purchase amount indicated on your bill of sale (my bill of sale was hand written by the seller and listed the VIN, year, make, model, plus his name & address, and both of us signed and dated the paper). I suspect that if you paid an unusually low price for the bike, they will probably charge the tax based on the redbook/bluebook value (...better to just be honest as trying to cheat Revenue Canada out of a few tax dollars is probably not worth the risk). Then they will ask you to complete the RIV form (just a 1-page form with info about the bike, and you will need it to complete the next step once you're back home).

Step 5: Back home in Canada, the next thing you want to do is hop onto the website and pay your $209 RIV fee (if they didn't charge you at the border). From there, it will take 1 business day for them to process your payment and link your payment to the "case number" that was opened in relation to your file when the Canadian border folks had you fill out the RIV "Form 1" paper. Now is also a good time to call your insurance company and get that taken care of because it may take a day or two for them to setup your policy. My insurance company was able to email me a printable temporary insurance card. You'll need this when you eventually get to the DMV to register the bike for the road.

Step 6: After one business day has passed, you can go back on the RIV website and choose the option to "Track my case"  ... just input your "Case number" (the red number on the top right corner of Form 1) and the last 6 digits of the motorcycle's VIN.  As long as they've processed everything, you'll see a message that everything is complete and you will see a link to "download and print the Vehicle Inspection Form".  This is just a PDF file that contains your bike's info, and you need to print it and take it to any Canadian Tire service centre (along with the RIV Form 1). At the Canadian Tire, they will do a very quick check to ensure the speedometer reads in Km/h (and they'll give you MPH->KMH stickers if it doesn't), and they'll check that your headlight comes on automatically with the ignition. That's it. Takes 2 minutes, and it doesn't cost anything. They will sign and date the Vehicle Inspection Form, then they will fax it to RIV on your behalf.

Step 7: Now you've got a Canadian compliant motorcycle and you can have it mechanically certified (in Ontario, this is the safety certification as required by the provincial Ministry of Transportation). Funnily enough, the same mechanic at Canadian Tire will do this at the same time as the RIV inspection, but they charge $49 for this. While it's a more detailed inspection, it took all of 3 minutes on my bike because the bike was practically new and only had 1,800 miles on the odometer. Essentially, they make sure your tires have reasonable tread remaining, check turn signals, headlight high/low beam, tail/brake lights, and the horn. I paid the fee and left with the completed RIV Inspection Form, and the Ministry of Ontario "Safety Standards Certificate" and the whole process to less than 20 minutes.

Step 8: Proceed to your nearest Ontario Motor Vehicle Registration Office, pay the 8% provincial tax on the value of the bike (remember, at the border, you'll only pay the 5% GST tax). You will also need to bring your bill of sale, and proof of insurance. They'll also charge you for a new license plate and the registration sticker, and then process is complete.

Trailered it across the border on Monday, and by Friday 
all the paperwork was done and it was legally plated. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Way to go, GoPro - great service!

Thought I would write a quick note just to say how great GoPro's support is.  A few months ago, I contacted them to say that the audio recording on my GoPro 960 video camera was showing intermittent problems: while recording, it would occasionally and without warning just stop recording the would keep recording -- it would just stop recording sound... or sometimes the audio would just turn to a scratchy, static sound. They asked me to provide a sample, so I uploaded a video on YouTube:

Listen to the audio scratchy audio before the 1:35 mark, and the normal sounding audio after 1:35

Anyway, GoPro asked me to ship the camera back to them, and they sent me a brand new replacement very quickly.  I just forwarded them a copy of my electronic sales receipt (yes, it was still under the one year warranty).  Awesome service. The new replacement has worked very well.

And just recently, I managed to break the plastic latch that locks the waterproof housing closed. Don't ask me how, but I broke it. It has always seemed to take a little encouragement to get the thing closed tightly. I've learned that you need to press the door tightly against the main part of the housing when you flip the locking latch mechanism, but a certain amount of pressure is still 
required. So, I contacted them again and they asked me to supply a photo of the broken latch:

And once again, GoPro's service has come through. They are quick to reply to my inquiry, and have promised to send out a free replacement immediately.  It's great service like this that makes me want to buy another GoPro.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New bike: Yamaha WR250X

Well, it happened sooner than later. I had been casually shopping for a WR250R (dual sport version) or WR250X (super moto version) to have for trail and track duty. Being late in the fall, the Yamaha dealers have deep discounts and incentives on new ones; and reasonably priced used ones are hard to come by. But I managed to overcome temptation and convinced myself to wait until the spring to begin a serious quest for a WR.  But then something unexpected happened: a local riding buddy sent me an ad he spotted on After that, I lost all sense of reasoning and just had to have this blinged-out '09 WR250X and all of its accessories.  The only obstacle to overcome was the fact that it was in New York. Oh well, a bit of reading on the import/export process for motorcycles between Canada and the US, plus an 8-hour drive to suburban NYC to get the bike.

Fortunately, the process of exporting the bike from the US and importing it to Canada wasn't so bad. While not overly complicated, the required steps must be done properly and in the correct order. Once all my ducks were lined up, getting across the border with the bike took all of 20 minutes.

Hittin' the road at 8:30am Sunday

Near Albany Snow? WTF? Apparently the south-eastern areas of NY
(and much of the coastal parts of New England) had an early snow/ice storm. Funny,
because in Canada we've been having an extended summer.

Shortly after picking up the bike near White Plains, NY.
Heading for the border.

Ah, back in Canada with the new WR250X.

These are the OEM supermoto wheels. The dirt wheels/tires currently mounted
on the bike are aftermarket, made by Wheeling Cycle Supply. Swapping between street and
dirt will be easy with this setup.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Went for yet another terrific fall ride in the woods. The weather is definitely a bit cooler these days but temps have not yet dipped below the freezing point. I invited Dave to come along and meet some of the guys from the Manypause club. In all, we there were 5 of us for today's ride: John with his 690 Enduro R, Jason and his WR250R, Cameron on his G450X, Dave with his KLX400, and me on my trusty DR. Familiar dirt roads and power line trails. Old Almonte Rd, Old Perth Rd, Tatlock Rd, Darling Rd, California Rd, power line trails off Hwy 511, and some nice double track off Little Green Rd. A great day!

Gas stop in Almonte

Lunch in White Lake (this place has good food)

Do dirt biker's shit in the woods?  Fortunately, I always carry some ass-wipe
in my pack. John went off to find a quiet spot down another trail -- 
and promptly got mud splashed on him as he squatted when a
gang of roaring ATV's went ripping down that trail.

Always a show-off. That's me goofing around while the others 
were topping up their fuel tanks.

Here are the video highlights.  Check out the deep water at 4:55 mark.
It doesn't appear quite as deep on video because the water is being split away
from the bike by my tires, but rest assured  -- it was at least 18 or 20 inches deep.
For the first 1/2, Jason was riding my DR, and I was riding his WR.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Shopping for a Yamaha WR250R/X

In the past week I've spent a good chunk of time on the Interweb researching Yamaha's WR250R and WR250X. And I've decided I need to have one. The 250R is the dual sport version and it comes with offroad sized rims (18" rear, 21" front) and 50/50 tires. The 250X is the motard version: it comes with fat 17" sport bike tires on both front and rear.  Essentially, the bikes are identical except for the tire setup. The liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, single-cylinder engine is known to be exceptionally trouble-free and requires very little maintenance. It's not a powerhouse or torque monster like the big DR650, but the little engine is silky smooth and the bike itself is much more nimble, requiring less muscle to move it around.

I went to the dealer to have a close look at a new model. I'm considering that because there are deals at the end of the season.  But I'm also open to buying a used one if possible. In searching the used market, I think I may have found a suitable 250X -- but I will have to drive a few hours to see it. Planning on making that road trip with the car & trailer next weekend. If all goes well, I'll bring it home and begin farkling. The one I'm eyeballing at the moment is a 2009 model with 2,450 Kms, and apparently is in showroom condition. We'll see about that. I'm waiting for a few more photos to arrive in my inbox. Then I'll decide if it's worth making the 6-hour trip to pick it up.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving weekend riding

This is Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada.  At this time of year, it's quite normal for most parts of Canada to experience frost in the mornings. Daytime temperatures are usually crisp but not freezing. The leaves have begun to turn bright colours. But the last week has been unseasonably warm -- like middle-of-summer-warm, but without the mosquitoes.  It sure has made for some awesome dual-sport riding weather.

I ditched work on Friday and I headed out with Johh, Jason, and Ovi. We had a full day of riding trails, fire roads, and some logging tracks in the Calabogie area. These guys are all better riders than yours truly so it keeps me on my toes. I need to keep reminding mylself that I don't have to prove anything and that falling behind a little is okay. It was a really great day even if I was dressed a little warmly -- and carrying too much weight in my back pack: I always pack lots of tools, spare tubes, first aid kit, food & water.

Jason on his WR250R, Ovi on his 530EXC, and John on his 690 Enduro R.

Gas time.

This is the view from Eagles Nest Lookout, a 1.5Km ride from
Hwy 508, then a hike on foot for the last 200 feet. The view is great.

Watch that first step: it's a long way down.

On the way home, John forgot his back-pack at the gas station 10 minutes
back, so I just sat on the side of the dirt road waiting for him. Played around
with the timer function on my phone camera (Samsung Galaxy Fascinate).

This is a bunch of video clips I stitched together from Friday's ride.
At the 6:30 mark I just about went straight through a turn.
I was perhaps going a bit too fast, and I think I glanced down at my GPS.
Only takes a split second to smack a tree.
In any event, I managed to keep the rubber side down.

On Sunday, John and I rode out to Calabogie to meet Jason
(not the same Jason as Friday's ride) who trailered his new
KTM 450EXC. The three of us headed out on the power line
trails and made our way through all kinds of other gravel roads,
fire roads, logging trails, ATV tracks, etc,

We followed an ATV trail that led to a small lake.  At the shore,
someone had fashioned a rudimentary shitter by placing an old
toilet seat atop some large rocks.

Power line trails (we call them hydro lines in Canada because most
of the electricity the transport comes from hydro electric generating stations)

View from the hydro lines

Taking a break in the mid-day heat.

Ready to head home after some re-hydration.

And a couple of videos from Sunday's ride:

At the 5:45 mark I decided to take a closer look at the bushes, and I managed to
get it back on track. Then at the 6:00 minute mark, my front tire slips out to
the side in some mud ... taking me completely by surprise.

This video starts with me onboard Jason's KTM 450EXC.
Jason is riding John's KTM 690, and John is on my Suzuki DR650.
The 450 feels as light as a mountain bike compared to my porky DR.