Archive for November, 2007
November 29, 2007
Memories of a Motorcycle License Test
By Bryan Fil, general services coordinator, Yamaha Motor Canada
I ride a motorcycle – that’s mandatory when you work at a motorcycle company, right, you say?
Nope. When I started working for Yamaha Motor Canada back in December 1999, I actually didn’t ride a motorcycle. I had a little all-terrain vehicle (ATV) experience on the old, big, red three-wheelers, but primarily I spent my youth growing up on the water around sailboats, cabin cruisers, ski boats and runabouts.
When I was growing up, my mother was dead-set against me ever riding a motorcycle; my biological father used to run dirt bikes through the woods up north with me as a passenger.
Two of my good friends had street bikes in their teens, and I can vividly remember the stern looks from my mom sitting on the front porch as I looked over my friends’ bikes. You can just imagine her response when I told her I got a full-time job with Yamaha Motor Canada.
Not long after that, I signed up with my girlfriend Jacquie (now my wife) to take the Motorcycle & Moped Industry Council (MMIC) motorcycle training program at a property just north of Allan Lambert Stadium Park in downtown Toronto. (Yamaha Motor Canada is a member company of the MMIC).
Well the big day – a Saturday – arrived. My girlfriend and I agreed that I would let her make her own mistakes. She’d never even driven a manual transmission car before, and didn’t really have a good concept of the clutch control that is required to keep the bike running. As the day progressed, it became more and more natural for me to ride and I caught on pretty quick.
My wife was a little slower, and I remember that she almost ran down an instructor who wanted to talk to her; she panicked when the bike began to lurch and stall so she gave it gas instead of pulling the clutch. Way to go, Jacquie – you kept the bike running! Too bad that instructor made you lose your balance.
Sunday was another spectacular day for weather, sunny but not too hot. After an evening of dissecting the information overload we had absorbed the previous day we were both ready to go and conquer the final test. Jacquie was having a little problem maintaining the turning arc and shifting at the same time, so at lunch I told her to just rev out the motor to make the time between the two points within the allotted time frame, which she accomplished perfectly. I personally was on fire and nailed the final test with no deductions!
At the end of the day we were both pleased with the big PASSED stamp on the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario paperwork. We headed home to rest up after two days in the sun in motorcycle gear.
Next on the agenda: find a bike to ride… but that’s a blog post for another day!
Posted @ 8:45 am in Industry Insights
November 27, 2007
Welcome from Aaron Dowden
Hi, I’m Aaron Dowden, known around the office as “BeeWee Man” because of how much I love my BW50 scooter! I’ve worked in marketing at Yamaha Canada for about a year; I’ve decided to start blogging so I can interact directly with customers and interested folks (you!)
Scooters are my favourite type of bike, overall, but I have ridden other kinds of bikes. My first bike was a Yamaha YZF600R, and my favourite model remains the V-Star 1300. My fav trip on a bike? To Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia (near Halifax).
When I’m not riding, I enjoy playing hockey and learning all that I can about a cool Web practice known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
I love talking about Yamaha products – but just as much, I’d like to know what you want to talk about… especially all you fellow scooter commuters and lovers of scooters in general! Aaron
November 22, 2007
Pumpin’ up my BeeWee
By Aaron Dowden, Marketing, Yamaha Motor Canada
I hadn’t checked the tire pressure on my BW50 for roughly 3 months. What a mistake. I was at the gas station the other day and thought that I should have a look. To my surprise the pressure on my front tire was 13 PSI and the rear wasn’t much better. I filled up both tires to 25 PSI and what a difference! Even though you’re able to fill them up to 29 PSI I like to keep them a bit below for those extra bumps. My scooter is faster, handles better and truly performs much better then before. Something so simple can make a big difference.
Now that the weather has begun to get a little bit colder, checking my tire pressure is imperative. I find that it decreases much quicker during the colder months. Just to be safe I always carry a tire gauge under my seat. That way no matter where fill up I can be sure that I’m always getting the correct pressure.
Another great benefit of always checking your tire pressure is the money that you can save on gas. With the increase of fuel costs I always try to find different ways to save money at the pump. Hey, you may not save hundred of dollars but every little bit helps.
November 20, 2007
Welcome from Andree Lamarche
Hi, I’m Andrée, and I’m the French translator for Yamaha Motor Canada. I started riding in mid-2005, about three years after I joined Yamaha… but these days, I hardly ever drive my car in the warm months. You’ll find me on a bike most weekdays as well as virtually every weekend!
I most often ride the V-Star 650 that I borrow from Yamaha. (My favourite bike, the V-Star 1100, is usually signed out by coworkers before I can get to it!)
Off the bike, I love to garden and to canoe/portage deep in Algonquin Park at least once every summer; I try to get any of my three kids (the youngest is 17) to go with me, if I can! In another life – predating kids – I used to enjoy scuba diving and parachuting.
My new big adventure? Blogging!! I’m trying it out because I want to keep in touch with customers – and keep up with the changing times. (I’m looking into getting a laptop so I can blog anywhere, anytime!) I’d really like to hear from some like minded ladies on my posts. Enjoy. Andrée
November 15, 2007
Riding doesn’t always go without a (trailer) hitch
Expect the unexpected!
By Andrée Lamarche, French translator, Yamaha Motor Canada
The sun was shining, the breeze was refreshing, the road was just too inviting to pass up… Sound familiar? Early one warm morning this past summer, I went out to enjoy a ride on a V-Star 650. No arm-twisting necessary!
The fact that a windshield had not yet been installed on the bike I was riding that day ended up contributing greatly to averting a serious accident. After almost two hours of riding and a good many long curves and winding roads, I found myself heading south on a rural highway. (Can you smell the fresh country air? Feel the freedom? Heaven on earth!)
Well, as usual, my helmet visor was up because I like to feel the wind on my face. (My contacts haven’t blown off yet!). Then grains of dirt began to disrupt my perfect world – and my vision. I thought maybe the pickup truck ahead of me had veered a bit off the asphalted surface and disturbed the soft stuff on the shoulder of the road.
Without a windshield and with my visor up, my face had no protection, so I lowered the visor. Bits of grit kept coming up through the bottom of my helmet. I increased the buffering distance between the pickup truck/old trailer unit and my V-Star, blinked a few times to wash my eyes of the bothersome grains.
All of a sudden, there was a sharp cracking noise… and I found myself watching the old trailer slowly moving away from the pickup truck. It took a few seconds for me to realize that this very unexpected scenario was really happening… in my lane, a short distance in front of me!!
Luckily, there were no vehicles in the oncoming lane to my left, so I whipped over and watched the trailer dance by me and auger crash into the ditch. There was a huge thump and an impressive cloud of dust.
Look ahead, plan ahead, keep a safe distance
By the time I stopped up ahead and walked back to the crash scene, the driver of the pickup and his passenger were looking at the heap of broken wood that used to be their trailer. We were all unharmed, just a little shaken up and very thankful! (Apparently, the safety chains had broken as well as the receiver.)
In the end, these few seconds taught me in a very real lesson – to look ahead, plan ahead, and keep a respectful safety zone around my bike, out of harm’s way of unexpected flying cigarette butts, gum wads, tire chunks… and runaway trailers!
Guess that’s what the motorcycle course instructors mean when they told us to expect the unexpected!!
Have you had any ‘close ones’ where you learned a lesson in safety?
Ride safe, Andrée
November 13, 2007
Welcome from Dave Shepherd
Hi, I’m Dave Shepherd; I’ve worked at Yamaha Canada for 11 years as a Motorsports Technical Specialist. Basically, I am the “go to” guy for anything to do with motorcycles, of a technical nature. I talk with the Yamaha factory service engineers for various reasons; such as to prepare new model training materials, or take care of any problems in the Canadian market.
I’ve been a professional bike mechanic for more than 30 years (including back home in the U.K. before I immigrated to Canada). I really like working for Yamaha because of their high-quality approach to its product.
In my position, I need to really “know” our whole spectrum of models. So I ride something different every chance I get, from the sportiest to the fastest to the coolest to the most fuel efficient. From the smallest scooter to the heavyweight 1900cc cruisers – if it has two wheels, I’m there!
My first bike was a Yamaha YG1, my first new bike was a Yamaha FS1E (aka “The Fizzy”). I personally don’t believe that a true motorcyclist has a favorite bike – every bike has something that stirs the passion, just in different ways.
When I’m not on a bike, I like to practice judo, go hunting, boating, and hang out with my family.
I’m blogging here so I can stay closer to the market (that means you folks!) and although I will be often blogging about mechanical and maintenance matters, I’ll dip into other subjects relating to bikes too … I don’t want any boundaries!
November 9, 2007
Yamaha Tokyo Auto Show
Pete and the guys just returned from meetings in Japan. The one day they chose to visit the Tokyo Auto Show saw over 150,000 others in attendance!! Yamaha always has an incredible display of product and concept vehicles this year was no different. (Click on images to enlarge)
Eye Candy From the Yamaha Display Brochure:
Oh Yeah, theres plenty of cool things coming out of Yamaha in the not so distant future…
Posted @ 4:14 pm in Uncategorized
November 8, 2007
All-time Top 10 Motorcycle Tools
Tool chest ‘must haves’ for wrenching
By Dave Shepherd, motorsports technical specialist, Yamaha Motor Canada
While tidying up my tool chest the other day, I noticed that certain tools were definitely more worn out than the rest… that led to me picking my Top 10 motorcycle tools:
1. Crosspoint screwdrivers (especially in #1 and #2 sizes). Commonly referred to as Phillips screwdrivers they are not the same; true cross-points (JIS) are designed to “cam-in” and grip tighter for use in metal applications. If you commonly slip when using a cross point, make sure you have the right size and type and that it isn’t worn out. (I have a really cool “bevel drive” screwdriver, which is great for getting under a carburetor and adjusting the mixture screw without burning your fingers on a hot crankcase.)
2. Sharp-edged pry bars. Don’t use a flat screwdriver for prying; you’ll end up with a damaged tool!
3. A good-quality ratchet in the size that fits your sockets. For motorcycles, almost every bolt torque is low enough that either a 1/4″ drive or a 3/8″ will do. Go for the best quality, because anyone who has had a racket slip on the pawl will remember that knuckle pain for a long time!
4. Sockets, in short, deep and impact (for use on your air wrenches). Metric motorcycles will eat eight and 10mm sockets, and 12, 14 and 17mm sockets are commonly used everywhere. For these small sizes, always buy six-sided sockets if you don’t want to round the bolt heads.
5. The opposite to socket is the Allen wrench. Most common size for usage for metric bikes are the 5mm and 6mm.
6. A good set of combination wrenches (from 8mm through to 19mm). A good wrench has slim lines, a smooth, high-quality chrome finish, and a fairly flat angle to the closed end. The 8, 10 and 12mm wrenches tend to snuggle down amongst the other shiny bits on the bike and hide.
7. A full punch” set. Punches can be worth their weight in gold if used properly. A sharp chisel can remove a rounded screw (because you used the wrong driver – see #1). A smart rap on the center of a tight and rusted bolt with a straight punch can help shake it free and get it out. And tapered punches an help align holes and prevent crossthreading.
8. Hammers. Note the plural here; there’s a right size and type of hammer for every job.
9. There are more different kinds of pliers than you can shake a stick at, especially when you group cutters, wire strippers and any other grip tool in with them. Two things: pliers should be comfortable in your grip, and should have a good, sharp tooth pattern. Indispensable in this drawer is a diagonal cutter and a “long nose” plier to get into those tiny motorcycle places.
10. And last, but not least, a grabber tool. No matter how careful you are, sometimes you drop a screw or clip and it lodges in a narrow space; a “grabber” is a long, skinny device with 2 or 4 fingers that retract and hold whatever you are trying to reach; it’s also available in magnetic types. Caution: don’t use this on your finger; it’s much stronger than you think! (Don’t ask how I know this
All manufacturers will have the dreaded “special tool” designed for a particular purpose, but for the most part, they are only required for more complex operations. (The big exception to this rule is the oil filter wrench, used on cartridge-type filters.)
Do you agree with my Top 10 Motorcycle Tools? If not, what are your picks / favorite tools?
November 6, 2007
Welcome from John Bayliss
Hi, my name is John Bayliss, but you can call me JB. I’m the product manager for motorcycles and scooters at Yamaha Motor Canada Ltd. Welcome to the Yamaha Bike Blog!
One thing I would like to clear up right off the bat, is although I have been involved in the bike biz for many years (at Yamaha for 20 of them), I do not profess to know everything about motorcycles.
Unlike my snowmobile counterpart at Yamaha, Chris Reid, who blogs at Sled Talk, I don’t have an in-depth knowledge of all the technical aspects of our bikes and scooters. However, between me and my work colleagues also blogging here about bikes, we petty much do know everything about bikes – and what we don’t know, we want to hear from you about!
I am an avid on road and off road rider, plus I also dabble in track days. Most weekends (when I am not working), I usually spend at least a few hours riding or wrenching, especially restoring some vintage bikes of my own.
I own 10 motorcycles, ranging from street and dirt to a R6 track day bike. My fav ride right now is an ’07 Yamaha FZ1.
In the off-season, I can be found snowmobiling, skiing, and playing on the Yamaha hockey team.
I’m looking forward to sharing stories here that people can’t find anywhere else – such as behind-the-scenes peeks at Yamaha product development, long before the bikes hit the market. Hope you enjoy the insights!
November 1, 2007
Welcome to the Yamaha Canada Bike Blog
Hi, my name is Chris Reid and I am the Senior Product and Research Manager here at Yamaha Motor Canada. If you are also a ‘sled head’, you might know me as CR over on our sister blog, ‘Sled Talk‘.
We have assembled a group of Yamaha Motor Canada employees who all love to ride and have some stories to tell. We hope you’ll check in often, and read what we have to say.
(As far as I know, Yamaha is the only motorsports company in Canada to host a blog where we interact with our friends and customers.)
If you like what you see, you can subscribe (enter email address on the right) and we’ll email you whenever we add a new post, or you can add Bike Blog to your list of RSS feeds. We’ll be populating the blog with a wide selection of content over the next few weeks and we’d love to hear what you have to say about it all.
I sincerely hope you enjoy Bike Blog and if you do, please let your friends know about us.
Posted @ 8:45 am in Commuting