Sunday, April 28, 2013


Accessories.  A must for a female, right?  Well, the same applies to Stella.  My 2005 Yamaha TW200 dual sport motorcycle.  Outfitted with a few accessories, Stella is a little workhorse.  The bags (which by the way, match her shoes), are some of best gear I own.  With the products made in the U.S.A. and the company based in Bend, Oregon, Giant Loop saddlebags for motorcycles not only produce stellar products, but also have excellent customer service.   

Stella adorned with the Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag and the Fandango Tank Bag.  
The bags are extremely easy to install, made with top of the line heavy duty materials, and are very comfortable to ride with. 

Even having the wider Cyclerack installed, the Great Basin bag still fits nicely.

The bags are easily attached to different points on the frame.

Normally on a bike without a rack, these bags lay directly on the seat.

The GL logo is made of a reflective material.

The three extra long straps on the back of the bag allow for you to haul extra gear if necessary.  At first I was skeptical about adding a luggage system to this little bike, but because these bags weigh far less than a typical metal pannier, they are perfect for hauling what I need without burdening the function of the bike.

The three rear compression straps are each held by a heavy duty buckle with teeth.  
The combo lock was purchased on  
Because of its smaller cable, it can slip through the zipper tab holes and lock onto the rack.

The unique pod-like system keeps all of your gear neatly organized.  
The heavier material black bags (not visible) nestle perfectly into the very bottom on each side of the bag.  There are a total of four removable bags.  The black center bag seen here, is sewn in and is designed to house your sleeping bag.

The heavier material black bag (mentioned above) shown here, is equipped with a handle on top of the bag to easily pull it out of the bottom of the bag.  The inside of this bag is lined with a light colored material to make it easier when looking for gear.  These bags are loaded with the heaviest gear to keep the center of balance lower on the bike for better balance and riding performance.

There are two tube shaped bags sewn into the Great Basin bag
These hold water or fuel bottles perfectly.

For extra fuel on longer trips, I purchased two, 1-liter Primus fuel canisters.  
They fit perfectly in the sewn in pocket and have never leaked.

The Fandango Tank Bag.  
Perfect for holding your wallet, cell phone, binoculars, and other small items.  
The zipper on bottom next to the tank allows for you to remove the bag completely while the harness remains on the bike, or partially unzip it to lay the bag over and expose the gas cap when filling with gas.

The top of the bag is clear for easy map reading.  
I made several color copies of maps of our area and mounted them on a stiff plastic with spray glue.  These are all kept nicely together in this slip pocket and come in handy when taking the back trails to the lakes or rivers.

To protect the strap from the wear and tear of environmental hazards, 
I threaded the strap through a piece of an old bicycle tube.

To make it a little easier to operate the zippers with gloves on, I added pull cords to each zipper.

The inside of the tank bag is quite spacious.  
Items that I always keep on hand include:  a set of Rok Straps, an emergency blanket, pen and pad, matches housed in a waterproof container, a portable hand chain saw, motorcycle manual, towel, and a lens cleaning kit for my helmet face shield and sunglasses.

The large black strap on the bottom was something that I added.  
I not only keep the motorcycle manual under it but it also holds the holster for my pistol.

This is a portable hand chain saw.  
I keep it handy in the event that brush removal might be necessary on the trail.

The saw is an actual chainsaw blade.

Recommended by one of the guys at Giant Loop, the Rok Straps are a very handy item.

Made from heavy duty materials.

Because each strap is attached through the provided loop
they can be mounted just about anywhere.

One half of the strap is made from a bungee like material 
and the other half is made from a strong nylon webbing.  
They are very adjustable to fit just about any cargo.

The sturdy clips make it easy for loading and unloading your cargo.

Stella loaded with fishing gear.

A beautiful day spent fishing on a Central Oregon river.

Loaded for a camping trip.   
Because of the capacity and unique packing system of these bags...yes, all that you see here, included food, cooking hardware, tent, sleeping bag, and clothes.


With only a few limitations on what it can haul, I often make trips to the grocery store!  A gallon sized plastic container or a can of paint fit perfectly in the bottom on either side of this bag. 

These are all of the groceries that I brought home in the previous picture!

Check out these links for more information:

(Because I purchased my bags a couple of years ago, the newer bags may/may not have different features or options than the ones listed above.  Check Giant Loop's website for details.)

  • Packing tips from Dave at Giant Loop:


"Only a motorcyle rider knows why a dog sticks its head out of a car window."  --Unknown

Sunday, April 7, 2013


It's kind of a funny story.  A of couple years ago my husband made mention to me about 'dual sport' motorcycles.  Essentially, dirt bike motorcycles that are street legal.  Excited about the idea, I immediately started researching.  Seeing the huge following for this interest and the possibilities as to what one can do, I was hooked instantly.  The ability to load up your motorcycle at home with gear deemed necessary for your trip and cruise to your destination, via highway, established forest roads, or trails...or a combination of all was very intriguing.  
     His main concern however, was that I was a VERY new rider, only having been on a motorcycle with a combined time of maybe an hour.  Showing my willingness to learn, he said that if I took the Team Oregon Motorcycle Safety Training class, that he would feel much better about me being out amongst the much distracted drivers of the world.  Two weeks later, I was attending the Basic Rider Training class. It consisted of a 15-hour course over three days that included 7 hours of classroom instruction and 8 hours of on-cycle instruction.  If you pass the class, the Oregon DMV waives their state knowledge and on-cycle skill tests.  Boom!  I passed.  Well now that I had my endorsement, I needed something to ride, right?  As luck would have it and only spending a short time scouring craigslist, I found her...Stella!  A 2005 Yamaha TW200 with less than 1000 miles on it.  The same bike I rode during class.  Easy and fun to ride and gets 80 mpg!  A perfect beginner bike.  

(After this, Ron is now pretty careful to mention any new ideas he might have!)

This is Stella, a 2005 Yamaha TW200.  
Named from an episode from my most favorite TV show Seinfeld, 
when a drug induced Elaine meets Jerry's Aunt Stella.  
(Here is a short clip from that episode:

Weighing in at under 300 pounds and having a shorter seat height
the TW is a perfect beginner motorcycle.

The simple gauge layout make it less distracting while riding.

The after market rear cargo rack made by Cycleracks allows me to carry quite a load.  
Living close to the mountain lakes, I often load up my fishing float tube and fly fishing gear.

The 'fat' tires are one of the main characteristics of this model.

Now you know what I ride, here is a look at the gear that I ride in.  
Yes, it can be a little spendy buying all of the gear, but being a huge fan of ebay, I was able to save several hundred dollars.  

If you are thinking about getting into riding or already are, do yourself a favor, spend the money and protect yourself!   

  This is what I wear...EVERY single time I ride in any season.  
Even if it's only down to the corner market, a few minutes worth of dressing is much easier than a lifetime of injury.

The heavy duty Batman looking Alpinestars boots...includes metal toe and hearty uppers. 
 They are very comfortable all year round.

Fieldsheer pants.  
Very comfortable, breathable, and very water resistant.  
The knees have built-in knee pads made of a hard plastic.

The pants are covered in reflective material along with 
multiple zippered areas for size adjustment and air vents.

I prefer the full zip pant so I can take them off or put them on, even with my boots on.

The removable zip-in liner is a good friend while riding during the winter months 
and freezing temperatures.  
They provide a nice extra layer of warmth against the wind and cold.

Two velcro attachments, two zippers, snaps, and a button keep you in these pants.  
Just make sure that if you need a potty stop, give yourself ample time to undo the gauntlet.

The back waistline of the pants include a padded section for the lumbar area of the spine and also includes a heavy duty zipper that zips to the inside of the back of the jacket to keep the jacket from riding up and the breezes at bay.

The hips are also armed with padded sections.

The double ply sitting area provides extra durability and protection against the elements.

A gift from my brother...a high-viz mesh vest that is worn on the outside of the jacket. 
It is very visible both night and day.  I never ride without it.

Rev'it! gloves provide padded knuckles in the fingers and a teflon insert for the top of the hand.

They are adjustable in a variety of ways for maximum comfort.

The heel of the hand and the thumb are covered with a beaded ceramic material in case of the unthoughtful moment that you may skid across the pavement.

The Fieldsheer jacket, like the knees of the pants, 
are armed with a hard plastic pad in the elbows.

The jacket has many zippered areas for venting during warmer weather riding conditions.

The arms are lined with snaps for adjusting the tightness of the arm.  
The jacket is also covered in reflective piping material for extra night time visibility.

The back of the coat is lined with a hard foam shield to help protect the spine on impact.

The outside of the jacket is also lined with hard foam for added spinal protection.

The bottom of the jacket has the heavy duty zipper that connects perfectly onto the pants.

Hand made in Japan, this is absolutely the most expensive and necessary piece of gear,
the Arai full face helmet.  
To each his own, but I don't understand wearing anything less than this.  
Protect your head AND face.

The helmet is equipped with several vents for maximum comfort.

The 'rocker switch' on left allows the air to circulate on the top of the head. 
The flip looking vent on the face shield on the right, allows air to circulate directly into the forehead and face area.

The vent on the back also allows circulation to the back of the head.

The inside of the helmet is of course fully padded.  The pads are removable to allow for washing.  The orange tab corners sticking out between the pads are for emergency personnel to easily remove the padding from around your face and then easily remove the helmet without risking further or possible neck injuries.  Proper helmet fit is essential for maximum protection. 

I have had an absolute ball riding.  It is a whole new and different world.  Before I bought my gear and really started riding, I took my time reading reviews and forums, and watching videos.  This really paid off when it came time to buy what I was looking for and tips for safer riding.  

If you are thinking about getting into the sport, the internet is littered with information that includes forums, videos, and websites.  Take your time and do your research, you'll be glad you did.

Here are the links to the manufacturers mentioned above:

As they say in the motorcycle world, "Keep the rubber side down and the shiny side up".  
Be safe.

(In no way was I compensated from any of the above manufacturers.  This was strictly an explanation of what I wear when I ride my motorcycle and what works for me.)