All posts for the month December, 2015

Finding the right riding partner for a trip is no easy task. Sometimes, it falls into place with a wave, other times, it’s a disaster of epic proportions. Here is a non-exhaustive questionnaire to help sort things out. Maybe it will help you clarify your limits as a rider, too. I personally would not hand this to anyone I met casually, but could see it being used as a guide or prior to a large tour where people did not know each other or the participants.

PDF version of the final document is here! – Riding partner checklist

Nothing like a good farkle, right?

Right before I left Germany, I saw an F650GS set up for fire department work. I promptly fell head-over-heels in love with the Einsatzfahrzeugzubehör, the emergency vehicle accessories. These consist of a front light bar and a solo seat with a luggage bin behind it. My days of two-up are over due to both of my pillions having grown to six feet tall-plus, so why pretend any more? This is a solo bike and I love it that way. More light is always better, too.

Last month, I scored the light bar (apparently the last extant one, too), and this month, I managed to score a solo seat from Several trips to the local BMW dealer netted me the luggage bin and some of the other bits needed to install it. I’m still sorting out the lock cylinder and a few other mounting bits so I can complete the install of the luggage bin to the seat and the completed assembly to the bike.


The seat arrived with a weird padded roll on the back and some sort of mounting bracket that was unnecessary for my project. It came from a Police bike, so perhaps there was a special kind of box in the back?


I removed the roll and then the bracket.


Next, I test fit everything on the bike.


I particularly like the additional tie-down hoops on the sides of the bin. Those will come in handy. Of course, they will make it impossible to get into the bin when I’m using them, but whatever. The bin can become tool storage or home to things that are necessary for trips, but not needed at a moment’s notice.

The seat measures 800mm, twenty more than the 780mm seat that I normally use, and twenty less that the Dakar seat that is plush, but drives me crazy. If needed, I’ll cut this one down or perhaps even reupholster it to a new shape. Needless to say, I’m quite excited about bringing this all together.

Last week, I posted a photo of an IKEA Lyster curtain rod end. This morning, battling an epic headache of no known origin, I remembered to take some more pics and a video to explain the whole thing. Remember, this was done at least twelve years ago (likely closer to fifteen), and that I have no shame whatsoever.

I wanted a glass doorknob for a shifter in the B5. Kind of boring, but functional. I didn’t like the shifter on the car as it was delivered. It was even more boring. I never did find a cool glass doorknob, but wandering through IKEA, I found the Lyster bit, and a short call to my dad later netted me a threaded-to-fit stainless steel adapter. This happened.

Then, because nothing entertains me like a bunch of glowing LEDs, this happened.

…and this…

Yup, I wired it into the dash dimmer properly. Unfortunately, the acrylic Lyster bits are a bit fragile and I get about a year out of each one before the base cracks off. Now, I run the rubber shifter knob out of my old Rabbit Convertible. It’s a bit more cold-weather friendly. Reverse is in the wrong place, but that is a topic for another post.

The whole shebang kept the denizens of entertained for a while, because no car is sacred and this was good for April Fool’s if nothing else.

Anyway, about four or five years later, I was wandering around a Murray’s looking for something, and discovered that my utterly fabulous knob was now a thing. Battery LEDs, but a thing.

There are two times in my life when a car truly got away. Both times, I made the decision to let it go, and it was probably a good decision, whether just at the time, or for long term.

The first time was in 1995. The car was a Nugget Yellow G60 Corrado. Oh, man. I wanted that thing. I recall telling a friend at the time that “I want it, but I think it would be the end of my marriage.” Looking back, oh yeah, that would have been a bad idea. I would have either gotten one of the good G60s and spent the next ten years making it into an awesome G60 at the expense of the rest of my life, or one of the time-bomb G60s that would have also sucked the life out of me, just in a different way.

I still stop and admire those things, and almost bought a used one a few weekends ago. I’m still not sure my life would survive a G60.

The second time was different. I was shopping for a family car. I had two inviolable demands: stick shift and a 48″ wide hatch. The 48″ wide hatch was not that bad – the E-Klasse, 5er-Touring, and the Passat were all there. The Saab Aero was close. It was a funny time, because I really just wanted an Accord wagon, but those weren’t shipped over the Pacific any more. The E-Klasse was out due to the lack of proper transmission. It was down to the E39 and the B5. I thought I lusted after that G60. My desire for that E39 wasn’t even on the same scale. In my eyes, the E39 Touring was and is the be-all, end-all of cars. Peak auto. The complete package. The E39 was a completely different kind of want, because there was absolutely nothing on my list of needs and wants that it didn’t bring with. The price, though. Yeah. I consoled myself by saying that I wasn’t going to buy a car that was worth more than my house.

I bought the B5, and it has been a wonderful car, lifestyle accessory, project, whatever I wanted, it delivered. Except RWD. I’ve admitted that a Corrado would be a bad idea, but I still wish I’d sprung for that BMW. Because RWD.

Right now, there is an M-swapped E39 on CL in NYC. The M version was never available in the US, so you have to swap the M bits in from a sacrificial sedan. A coworker did this swap a couple of years ago on his 540i, and it truly is amazing. The crown on his is the EU-spec tow hitch. I think it gets about 12MPG towing a motorcycle trailer. It is as extreme as you can imagine, and he tows with it. I have trouble coming up with a more perfect sleeper. In fact, if I was going to go the E39 route (I can’t push it out of my head), I would be doing this swap eventually, too. Hint, hint.

The one on CL has a grey interior. That is one of those things that you are either into or NOT. There is little middle ground on grey. I love grey interiors. Grey interiors are kind of the rare spec.

The price of the car on CL is not bad, and I can afford it. But… I am not going to buy it. I thought about it for quite a while last night, and it came down to the fact that there is nothing left to do to the car. I’m a creative person. I realized that I’d rather do that swap myself and make it my car. Buying a completed one would not be the same as building it. And I like to play with cars way too much to buy a finished one.

I also thought about what I really want next, and what I could do with $24K. $24K would buy me a brand new ND. Two decent NCs. Three decent NBs. Four decent NAs. Four, count them, F.O.U.R decent NAs. Or, one decent NA and a bunch of mod money, and still have money in the bank to pay for gobs of track time. That’s not even a decision any more. Fancy car that I won’t play with and won’t track, or decent car that I can screw around with endlessly and track the crap out of? Not even close.

I’m putting my E39 thing back in the box for a while. I also realized that an E36/5 would probably be more my style, and I love me some Kompakt. Mmmmm, Kammback! We get the cast iron block 2.8s over here. That swap is one I would like to do. I bet it would get more than 12MPG towing, too.