Friday, May 29, 2009

Memphis Shades Phenomenal Customer Service

Memphis Shades Phenomenal Customer Service

Mediocre service is easy to find these days and poor service is all too common. I work in the customer service industry and I know. I am very aware of customer service and I recognize good service when I see it and I don’t mind bragging about or tipping well, when I receive it. This is a story about phenomenal customer service.

So, there I was in the fast lane, heading home at warp 8 a month or so ago, when I notice my Memphis Shades windshield is vibrating a lot. Well, it was windier out than the campfire scene in Blazing Saddles anyway. Then I noticed the left side of the windshield appears to be flapping more than the right side. Now I’m starting to get concerned and wondering if something is wrong.

I get to my exit and stop for the light. Yes, I actually do stop on occasion. I reached up with my clutch hand, the one on my left for you non motorcyclists, and grabbed the left side of the Memphis Shades windshield and pushed and pulled on it. The whole left side was loose. I decided I would investigate further when I got home, hoping it had just come loose.

I rode into the driveway, dismounted, and inspected the windshield and how it mounted to the bike. As it turns out, the left side upper hardware that mounts the windshield to the bracket on the bike is completely missing. I torqued the remaining hardware noting ironically the use of ASE Hex head screws on my metric bike. So, I headed inside to see if I could locate some replacement hardware online.

I went straight for the Memphis Shades website. I looked up the model I had and found the hardware kit including a picture. Next, I fired off an email to Customer Service explaining my predicament. I told them of the fact that I bought the bike used with the windshield already on the bike. I informed them I was willing to purchase the missing hardware if they could direct me in the right direction. I included all the part numbers and the diagram from their website. After all, it was negligence on my part that caused it to be missing any way. Now I waited for a response.

The next day I had my email answer from Mary in Customer Service, who stated simply, “ok i will get these out.” Three days later a package arrived in the mail from Memphis Shades. I opened it and to my surprise there was two of everything I needed to repair my windshield. I also did not find any billing information, even for the shipping. I went immediately to the garage and installed the missing spacer, nut and bolt. Everything worked flawlessly and Mistress was complete once again with her Memphis Shades windshield nice and tight.

I went back inside and fired off another email to Mary at Memphis Shades Customer Service letting her know I had received the package and asked how much money I owed them. She replied back the next day to the email, “Hi Torch, you dont owe me anything. Thanks, Mary.” I was shocked, literally. Memphis Shades had just knocked my socks off with jaw dropping, eyebrow raising customer service. I was indeed wowed. It is rare that you come across that kind of customer service anywhere, anyplace, any time.

This post is to say thanks to Mary in Customer Service and to Memphis Shades for making such a fine product and going over and above in standing behind their product and in helping someone out even when they did not have too because it definitely was not a product issue.

Ride on,

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Song of the Rolling Sirens

Song of the Rolling Sirens

It was a dark spring morning and a blanket of ominous clouds hovered low in the sky making the air thick with humidity. I started the V-Star and her 1063 cc’s of v-twin power roared to life as I hit the garage door opener button to close the garage. It was 6:00 am and I was hoping my neighbors did not hate me and my Cobra exhaust as I turned out of the driveway and started on my commute to work.

Passing the local Waffle house on my way to the freeway the odors of waffles, eggs, sausage, and bacon, beckoned me to stop and eat. I sighed at what was not to be as I approached the light downshifting twice to turn onto the access road to get on the on-ramp to the two lane freeway. Three quarters of the way up the on-ramp my left turn signal was on as I shifted into third. I have decided that this was the most fun part of any ride, the acceleration to get up to speed, after all, there are no laws that limit how fast you can get up to the speed limit.

In no time I’m at the end of this stretch of highway as it makes a graceful right hand turn and merges with another section this time three lanes wide. Tending to run faster than the other traffic I again apply my left turn signal and change lanes twice double checking the lane next to me each time before changing lanes. In the fast lane I pulled in right behind another motorcyclist traveling slightly faster than me possibly on a Harley-Davidson by the sound of the engine.

I sped up a little to keep up with the other motorcyclist. Traffic is usually not too bad this time of the morning as long as you do not get stuck behind a row of vehicles all traveling the same speed so that you cannot get by in the fast lane. Some people will just not change lanes even though slower traffic is supposed keep right. Just about then is when I started to hear the Song.

An eighteen wheeler was in the middle lane and I was passing on the left tracking in the left hand side of my lane. As I drew closer the sound of their Song got louder. I glanced at all those wheels, each one almost half as tall as me. These Sirens are calling to me, luring me to look at them. I try to look away. Mistress, my bike, says, “Watch where we are going.” We were approaching a left hand curve on the highway.

I move lane position to the right side of my lane in preparation of the curve doing the outside, inside, outside track thing like I don’t really know how tight the curve is. This places me right next to the leviathans’ rear trailer wheels. I glance over and the Sirens Song is sweeter, louder, calling me closer as I strain to look away. “Look away, don’t stare at the beast,” I say to myself, probably out loud.

I’m slightly behind the rigs two sets of double tires now and nearing the apex of the curve. The muscles in my legs and arms tighten up and get stiff as the sirens voices start screaming louder at me as I fight to avert my eyes and turn my bike away from our deadly track. All I need to do is pull back slightly on the right handlebar and Mistress will respond leaning left and turning left out of that outer track but I find myself fighting the Sirens hypnotic Song. The Sirens Song is a screaming crescendo now pulling at Mistress and trying to make us crash against the mighty Leviathan.

My pulse has quickened and my breathing has almost stopped as I try to force her to turn left fighting against the handle bars that feel like hard taffy. She does not respond to manhandling and awaits the gentle counter steer command. The bike is at the apex of the curve now and we are sliding slowly closer into the mouth of the deadly Leviathan.

We are being drawn in, pulled by the voices of the alluring Sirens. Then, Mistress’s soothingly soft sultry voice cut through the panic brought about by the Song of the Sirens telling me, “Look away from the beast and look to where you want to go.” This was said not as an order, but in a matter of fact, common sense kind of way.

Nodding in agreement I hear her and obeyed, ignoring the Sirens command I forced my eyes to look away and into the far left track of the lane I’m traveling in. I relax my arms and gently push the left handle bar forward while pulling slightly back on the right. Mistress responds with a purr and immediately leaned left and headed into the left track out of the deadly path of the stampeding Leviathan. I blocked out the compelling Song of the Sirens and speed by the eighteen wheeled monster right as the corner ends.

Breathing once again my pulse starts to slow as I take the exit to get to work. Once at work and calmed down, I had time to reflect on what had just transpired on my normal boring commute. Call it what you want, Target Fixation or the Song of the Siren, your bike will go, maybe subconsciously, where you look. Is Target Fixation just an excuse, a Myth, or an Urban Legend? Having first hand battled it and won, I think not. So, glance at obstacles just long enough to recognize them for what they are and then look back where you want to go. If you don’t, you may succumb to the call of the Sirens, and smash into the very obstacle you are staring at, and trying desperately to avoid.

Ride on,
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May 2009 Proclaimed Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month



Midlife Motorcycle Madness Promotes “Sharing the Road” with Motorcycles by Joining Efforts with State and Federal Partners

May 2009 Proclaimed Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

Bedford, Texas – Motorcyclists fatalities have steadily increased over the past decade. In fact, in 2007, there was a seven percent increase in fatalities from 4,837 in 2006, to 5,154.

That’s why Midlife Motorcycle Madness announced today that they are joining with other federal, State and local highway safety, law enforcement, and motorcycle organizations in proclaiming May 2009 as “Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.” All motorists are reminded to safely “Share the Road” with motorcycles and to be extra alert when driving to help keep motorcyclists safe. Motorcyclists are reminded to make themselves visible to other motorists in case other drivers are not looking out for motorcycle riders.

“As the weather improves, more and more motorcyclists are hitting the roads. And with that in mind, drivers of all vehicles, whether you’re driving an SUV, passenger car or truck, need to be extra attentive and make sure you “Share the Road,”’ said Torch. “Motorcycles are some of the smallest vehicles on our roads, often hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot so everyone needs to really look out for them.”

It’s crucial that motorists always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections.

“Motorcyclists have responsibilities, too,” said Torch. “They should follow the rules of the roadway, be alert to other drivers, and always wear a DOT-compliant helmet and other protective gear.”

Torch said that motorcyclists are much more vulnerable than passenger vehicle occupants in the event of a crash. He said that research shows that per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 37 times more likely than a passenger car occupant to die in a traffic crash.

Torch offered several tips for drivers to help keep motorcyclists safe on our roadways:

* Remember the motorcycle is a vehicle with all of the rights and privileges of any other motor vehicle on the roadway. Always allow a motorcyclist the full lane width—never try to share a lane;

* Always make a visual check for motorcycles by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic and at intersections;

* Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic;

* Don’t be fooled by a flashing turn signal on a mo­torcycle – motorcycle signals are often not self-canceling and riders sometimes forget to turn them off. Wait to be sure the motorcycle is going to turn before you proceed;

* Allow more following distance, three or four sec­onds, when behind a motorcycle, so the motorcyclist has enough time to maneuver or stop in an emer­gency. And don’t tailgate. In dry conditions, motorcycles can stop more quickly than cars.

Torch said motorcyclists can increase their safety by:

* Avoid riding in poor weather conditions.

* Wearing brightly colored protective gear and a DOT-compliant helmet;

* Using turn signals for every turn or lane change, even if the rider thinks no one will see it;

* Combining hand and turn signals to draw more attention to themselves;

* Using reflective tape and stickers to increase conspicuity; and

* Positioning themselves in the lane where they will be most visible to other drivers.

Our message to all drivers and motorcyclists is: make this the first year in recent years when motorcycle fatalities do not increase. Help to share in the responsibility and do your part by safely “Sharing the Road.”

Ride on,

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Largest Ever Ride To Work Day Expected

Media Release: For immediate use
Date: 05/15/09
Subject: Motorcycle and Scooter Ride To Work Day

Largest Ever Ride To Work Day Expected

Monday, June 15, 2009

The 18th Annual Ride To Work Day is a month away, and this year the weaker economy is causing many commuters to turn to motorcycles and scooters to save money on transportation. These new everyday riders are finding cycles and scooters to be an economical, efficient and enjoyable way to get to work and around town. Because of the world-wide depression, this year is expected to be the largest Ride to Work Day demonstration ever, according to Ride to Work, a non-profit organization.

According to the United States Census Bureau and the Department of Transportation, over eighty million cars and light trucks are used for daily commuting on American roads, and about 200,000 motorcycles and scooters are a regular part of this mix. On Ride To Work Day, the practical side of riding becomes more visible as a larger number of America's 8,000,000 cycles are ridden to work.

Ride to Work Day helps demonstrate how these vehicles make parking easier and help traffic flow better. Studies have shown that across equal distances, commuting motorcyclists reach their destinations in less time than those using automobiles, that motorcycles and scooters consume less resources per mile than automobiles, and that they take up less space on roads. Motorcycle and scooter riders seek improved employer recognition and support for this form of transportation, and more public and government awareness of the positive value of riding.
Changes to the Ride To Work website include new forum areas, and additional free promotional support materials.

Press release also available in Word and PDF formats.

Contact Ride to Work Day, a 501 c4 nonprofit organization, at:
POB 1072, Proctor, Minnesota, 55810 USA
218 722 9806

Mission Statement:
Advocating and supporting the use of motorcycles and scooters for transportation, and providing information about everyday riding to the public.

Some Affiliated Countries:
Canada, Germany, Philippines, England, Germany, France, Israel, Turkey, Ecuador, United States, and many others.

Sample issues of 'The Daily Rider' newsletter are available for download at:

A brief history of Ride to Work Day is available for viewing at:

Fact Sheet:
A transportation motorcycling fact sheet is available at:

Photos and Artwork:
Motorcycle and scooter commuting photos, ads, posters, banners, photos, illustrations and other artwork is available at:

©2009 Ride To Work

Ride on,


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Thursday, May 14, 2009

HJC CS-2N Blade MC-5 Helmet Review

HJC CS-2N Blade MC-5 Helmet Review

Last year I needed another helmet just in case I needed to take a passenger with me for a ride. I decided to get another open faced half helmet. I was browsing at Full Boar in Hurst Texas during their Christmas Shoppers Storewide Clearance Sale when one caught my eye. I think it was the interesting flaming skull looking graphic that caught my eye. It was made by HJC and the model was CS-2N and their website calls it the Blade MC-5. It was a half helmet and it was D.O.T. approved. Here is the information from the HJC website:

Thermoplastic Alloy Shell: Lightweight, superior fit and comfort using advanced CAD technology.
Nylex Interior: For added comfort.
Two Forehead Vents: Delivers cooling air.
Aerodynamic Visor: Low-profile design.
Removable “Zip-out” Neck Curtain: Easy to remove. Optional earflaps with speaker pockets.
DOT Approved

I tried several on and the medium size fit me well. The neck strap seemed to land more on my chin than neck which felt much more comfortable than the Vega XT. It also did not feel like it stood as tall on my head, like the Vega Half Helmet. The shape fit my head nicely and CS-2N was balanced well. I made my purchase.

The faux visor is indeed low profile and did not catch the wind as bad as the Vega’s visor did. It offers little shade from the sun, and apparently, is just for looks. For some reason, this Blade already had an Echo Products Quick Connect installed on it, so I did not have to purchase one and install it myself like I did the Vega. Another plus is that along with the standard two D Rings on the Nylon Retention Band, (strap) it has a snap right below the D Rings with a corresponding snap on the end of the long strap for snapping together after the helmet is buckled. This keeps the long loose strap end out of the way. I really like this feature because with the Vega, after it is buckled with the Quick Connect, I had to wrap the long end around the D Rings anyway to keep it out of the way. I guess I’m just too lazy to cut it.

The two Forehead Vents are well hidden under the visor and can only be seen when the visor is removed. Each vent is around 1” wide and ¼” high. They are a lot larger than the vents found on the Vega XT, although they do not have way to close them. It also has a Removable “Zip-Out” Neck Curtain, which I have given a real good workout to this spring taking it on and off as the temperamental Texas temperatures fluctuated cold to hot. It is slightly difficult to get the D Rings and Quick Connect ends through the strap loops on the Neck Curtain.

This Spring I stopped at Cycle Gear and picked up a universal snap on clear face shield, to try and use in the rain, and I found out the Blade does not have snaps to hold the visor on. The MC-5 has two screws on each side and a guide stud in the center to hold it on. For the record, because of the curve of the helmet the “Universal” shield would not stay snapped on the Vega Half Helmet either. Back to the drawing board or invest in a full face.

The HJC CS-2N Blade MC-5 Half Helmet has been my daily wear on my commute to and from work daily. It has functioned for me flawlessly. It is extremely comfortable on my head and I would recommend it to anyone. Torch gives the Blade a M.M.M. Rating of 8 out of 10.

Ride on,
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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Look In the Direction You Are Traveling...

Even If it’s Backing Up!

No, this is not an article about Target Fixation.

So far I have helped teach four of my teenagers how to drive an automobile, and only have two more to go. I do have some hair left, but it is rapidly graying. One of the first things I try to drill in their impenetrable, all knowing heads, is to always look where you are going, especially when backing up. They always seem to have a problem with watching where they are going when backing up.

The main problem is not that they don’t initially look behind them before backing, its continuing to look while they are backing. They tend to turn back around while they are still moving backwards, instead of waiting until the vehicle has come to complete stop. And, as you know, all kinds of things can pop up behind you when backing up.

What does all of this have to do with motorcycling? Well, the same principle applies with motorcycles. You need to look in the direction you are traveling at all times, even if it is while backing up. Too bad I don’t always follow my own advice…

After commuting home from work one day I found my ’98 Ford Explorer parked fairly close to the garage door. We try to keep it parked back down the driveway so I can ride around the left side on the grass to get the bike around it and into the garage. I’m sure one of my kids did it. Anyway, I decided to be lazy and get the bike inside anyway.

I pulled around the left side into the yard and this time I pulled passed the explorer and further to the left. I was going to back into the space in front of the Explorer and down into the space in front of my ’01 Windstar, which was parked further down the driveway, and then pull into the garage. I turned the front wheel to the right, glanced behind me and started backing the V-Star 1100 back and to the right. Unfortunately, I was not looking behind me as I was rolling backwards.

In my own defense there is also a small tree to the left of the driveway I had to watch out for. Well, I was slowly rolling backwards, I thought, into the driveway when I heard and felt the crunch. I think I even heard my Mistress, (my 2003 V-Star 1100), yell, “Ouch, you moron, watch where you are going!” The bike had stopped moving and I turned around to see the left rear turn signal stalk had ran into the Explorer’s bumper and had bent the stalk forwards slightly.

After dismounting and inspecting closer the turn signal had bent at an assembly joint and the Star Turn Signal Visor was dented down. I loosened the bolt and straightened the turn signal stalk. Then I just used pliers to bend the visor back into shape as best I could. I was thankful that was all my carelessness caused. Mistress said, “Be more careful and never let it happen again”. I sighed, “Yes, Ma’am!”

What is the moral of the story? Practice what you preach, and look in the direction you are traveling at all times.

Ride on,

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fog Off! Review

Fog Off! Review

This winter on my daily commute ride I got to experience something new to me. Being blessed most of my life with good vision; I’d never had to battle fogging glasses before. Now at the start of my middle ages I found myself having to hold what I was reading farther and farther away to read it and having a hard time with small text. Alas, I’m getting old. Now I wear reading glasses, even as I’m writing this. I currently ride my V-Star 1100 wearing a half helmet and I wear either sunglasses or goggles with various colored lenses, depending on conditions, for eye protection.

As winter pulled us farther and farther away from the sun, the temperatures started to drop. It wasn’t long before I started observing a strange phenomenon, usually in the morning. I was riding with clear riding glasses because it’s dark in the morning when I leave for work. Every time I slowed down and came to a stop my glasses were fogging up on the inside. It would clear up when I started moving but eventually you just got to stop.

My ability to see got poorer as the temperature dropped. I finally purchased a neoprene riding mask to keep the icy wind of my face and that made it even worse. The mask seemed to direct my breath strait onto the inside of my glasses. Now even moving it would fog. I remembered back to the days I had a diving mask and you could apply spit to the inside lens of the mask to keep it from fogging. So, I tried it. It did not work of course. I switched to goggles and it did not help. It got to the point that it was scary to have to slow down and stop. It was time for me to do something if I was going to continue to ride.

I remembered reading an anti-fog test comparison once on web Bike World. So I decided to stop in at Cycle Gear and see what they had. The helpful salesperson handed me a bottle of FOG OFF! It came with its own small microfiber applicator cloth. It comes in a small 29.5 ML pump spray bottle and states MADE IN U.S.A. The bottle claims it is made with Exofogonium 3, whatever that is. The directions simply read:


I applied some to my clear night riding glasses according to the directions before my morning commute. Well, I don’t know what is in FOG OFF, but it worked. After riding about a week I started noticing some dampness distortion on the inside of my riding glasses, so I reapplied FOG OFF and it went away. One application seemed to last about a week for me. I cannot say this is the best anti-fog solution out there because I have not tried any others. I will say that it performed and lasted as well as I expected. I now keep the bottle of FOG OFF and cloth in my saddlebag. Torch gives FOG OFF! a M.M.M Rating of 8 out of 10.

Ride on,
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