Thursday, September 6, 2018
The Good the Bad and the Ugly Review
First off, I want to state that I am not being paid for this post. I sometimes put in affiliate links, but there will be none in this post. I am doing this because I could not find anything written or posted to YouTube about Shady Rays that did not appear to be paid content of some sort. I figured some of you would like to know what the real-world experience is like with these possibly “too good to be true” glasses you stumbled across on social media. I call them Instagram Shades.
So, what are they like?
Quality-wise, my experience has been ho hum. I have seen 3 pairs of Shady Ray Sunglasses, one had a defect I couldn’t get over but later learned to accept when I realized I wasn’t going to do better, one was just plain bad, and the other astoundingly good. Let me explain. I clicked through to their site from an Instagram ad that snagged my attention. I was having a hard time deciding between the X-Series Ocean Ice Polarized and the Signature Series Black Ice Polarized. After what was really a long time, I decided on the Black Ice Signatures only to be surprised in the checkout with a deal to buy both at a substantial discount, so I did. A few days later I received two pairs of sunglasses. Both are very solid. I am not worried about them just breaking. The signature series surprised me with just how well built it is. I was a little concerned about the plastic hinges on the x-series, but once on my face those concerns melted away. Another thing to consider is that I really have two more pairs for $20. Shady Rays will replace lost or damaged glasses forever up to two pairs for the cost of shipping. I haven’t tested it yet, but I believe them. I’ll get to why in a moment. As for the appearance, the x-series glasses look amazing, at least with Ocean lenses and clear Ice frames. They really do look like the pictures and sit true on your face. The arms are slightly bendy too. I have no clue how they managed that with clear plastic, but the result is that they don’t put a lot of pressure on your head even under a motorcycle helmet. I am so thankful for that. I was worried they’d stab my dreads. They don’t. I was worried they’d hurt my ears. They don’t. And I was worried they’d squeeze my head. They don’t. Amazing! These are my new favorite pair of shades.
The Good the Bad and the Ugly
The signature series glasses, I was not so happy with. They’d be great glasses for the price, save for what may have been a defect (but twice?) The glasses are solid and well made, but one of the arms that was supposed to be clear, is clouded, it looks like maybe with some adhesive. I tried to clean it off but succeeded only in scrubbing off part of the Shady Rays logo. I tried to ignore it, but eventually my OCD won out and I had to send it back. And this is why I believe SR will honor the lifetime Live Hard warranty. I filled out their exchange form online and they sent me the replacement pair immediately. I received it as quickly as my initial purchase and get this, I still had my original pair. The new pair came with a prepaid label to send back the other pair. I had to pay nothing extra and I still have my two free with shipping replacements. There’s just one problem. The new glasses were worse than the ones I was going to send back. One of the arms was still clouded albeit not as bad, but in addition one of the lenses was loose and there appeared to be a rock embedded above the left lens in the plastic of the frame. It was deep in there too, you could not feel it on the surface.
I’m sure I could have sent that pair back and got another new one, but I just decided to hold on to the first pair. I do have two replacement waiting anyway, besides, wearing cheap clear glasses on the motorcycle is bound to cloudy the arms eventually anyway. The repeated failure to send actually clear frames kind of soured me on the brand, but the customer service pretty much makes up for it. Let’s put it this way, when I have managed to break or loose all three pairs of x-series Ocean Ice glasses. I will buy new ones. When all three pairs of Signature Black Ice glasses are gone, I will probably not. So, I guess they kept my business, even if I would have to give them just a 4 out of 5 stars. Hey, that’s a B, it’s still above average.
Is Shady Rays a rip-off? Absolutely not. Shady Rays is a legitimate business that treats its customers very well and gives to charity. Their products can be wonderful, but there are some quality control issues. They will happily replace anything you are unhappy with and will replace lost, broken, or stolen glasses for the cost of shipping.
You’ve probably read the comments on the Shady Rays site or watched some of their YouTube videos. Look, these are not Oakleys or Maui Jims or Ray Bans, and if you think they are, you will be disappointed, but they are good glasses for what they cost and will beat most of what you find for less and frankly, sometime more. And they have the added benefit of the lifetime warranty.
I hope this has helped somebody. I found myself becoming irritated at the lack of honest reviews, so now there is at least one.
Friday, December 30, 2016
Kayenta, Arizona 6:15pm:
My Zero S 9.8 has a maximum range of 120 miles. At around mile 80, it was becoming very apparent that I was not going to achieve anywhere close to that. The stretch of road between Tuba City and Monument Valley is about 98 miles and I had about 11 miles of range left. Fortunately, the small town of Kayenta lay in-between and I happened to be on its main street. Range anxiety is the fear of running out of energy, fuel, gas etc., and being stranded, but on an electric motorcycle it should just be defined as the fear of asking for permission to use someone’s power, or the fear of looking goofy checking for plugs behind trash cans, because electricity is present in America wherever there are people. You just have to know where to look for it
I always start my search in the same way. I find a place I would like to spend the time that it will take to charge and span out from there. Kayenta has a McDonalds. McDonalds has food and Wi-Fi. Perfect. Now to find an outlet. Outlets outside are uncommon, but I wouldn’t go anywhere close to calling them rare. In fact there are some places where you are almost guaranteed to find one.
- Hotels/ Motels (for some reason, there almost always seem to be an outlet or 4 somewhere on the outside of hotels. Every place I stayed on my trip to Pikes Peak had at least one receptacle and most had many more.
- Convenience stores- They have stuff outside and for this reason they are designed and built with receptacles on the outside. Sometimes owners will lock unused outlets, but usually they won’t, leaving you free to charge for a few minutes while you get something to drink and use the restroom.
- Grocery Stores I agree this is a weird one, and might just be specific to my area, but it seems that lots of grocery stores have outlets near the front door. You might get some weird looks plugging in there and I’ve never done it, but people tend to leave you alone if you aren’t bothering them.
There are also a few places that are less of a sure bet, but will occasionally hide outlets you can use for a boost to your destination.
- Outside machines (Soda, Redbox, Water, etc.) There is usually only one plugged into a receptacle. You can use the other outlet.
- Signs I’m surprised by how many business signs have outlets under them or at the base.
- Landscaping Outlets: They aren’t common by any means, but large shopping centers and malls will sometimes have landscaping outlets scattered about the parking lot in islands and on light poles. These are convenient when you can find them because you can just park with other vehicles and don’t need an extension cord to reach the outlet.
My last option and honestly one that I’ve never had to use with one notable exception is an outlet inside of a building. Most people will answer yes to a request that doesn’t require them to hand something over. You can literately just ask if you can run an extension cord inside the building to charge while you patronize. I know a few people who have done this.
I lucked out in Kayenta. One building down from the McDonald's is an older gas station with an attached auto shop. In front of the auto shop are 3 two outlet receptacles. I plugged the bike in, walked over to McDonald’s, used the restroom, picked up some food to go, hopped on the Wi-Fi for a bit and walked back over to the bike. Then I used two of the outlets to run the quick charger for about 20 extra minutes while I ate. I was wary of using all 3 because two of them looked to be on the same circuit and I didn’t want to risk tripping the breaker so I charged with the bike on.
I was on the road again and with a battery level of 40% I had a comfortable margin on which to make it to monument valley. Tomorrow we’ll be in Colorado and enjoying a cool mountain reprieve from the heat of summer.
I always offer compensation, but I never ask first, that way if there is a policy of saying no, you don’t get stranded. I’ve never actually had anyone say no. I’ve also never had anyone accept my money, but I will continue the practice because I don’t want anyone to get the idea that EVers are thieves.
Until Next time,
Friday, December 23, 2016
Somehow the WeatherBug app has evaded my notice despite always running two and frequently checking for improvements. I must say I'm impressed.
I knew this app would work perfectly for a daily riding motorcyclist the moment I opened it and was alerted to the fact that there was a wind advisory in my area. The ride to the restaurant where I had just downloaded the app could validate that advisory. The other apps on my phone did not have any such warning. The next day illuminated a difference as well. While the temperature between all three were about the same. WeatherBug was the only one to predict that I would make it to the gym and then to work without getting wet. Cool, that saves time putting on rain gear. The others, maybe being cautious were showing rain straight through for the next 3 hours. I took my chances on WeatherBug and made it to work dry. On hindsight that was not a smart gamble. It's December; but I can say that I trust this app now.
WeatherBug is also thorough. It's probably has the most complete information in any weather app. It's like having the local morning news forecast in your pocket. To this point, they even have short descriptions of what to expect for the day/ or night if you don't want to look at the hourly predictions, which they have as well and go out several days.
WeatherBug even has wind, weather radar and allergy reports, with live time views of both wind and radar.
And of course Weatherbug has shows the current conditions on the status bar, notifications screen and on the weather app. It also has the one temperature that you actually care about, what it feels like.
|Arizona, where it feels like the actual temperature.|
As mentioned in a previous post, I tend to not watch the morning news forecast every day. Now I don't need to, as long as I check my WeatherBug app before I throw the day's gear together. It literally shows me everything the weather man would, wind, allergies, radar, what to expect in the evening or tomorrow and even where the nearest lightning strike was and I don't have to listen to bad jokes and puns.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
It's the end of October and this morning was sunny and clear. How was I supposed to know it would rain today? The monsoon ends in September. I suppose if I'm being honest, several TV channels and radio stations probably could have told me if I had bothered to check... But I didn't. So here I sit, pants soaked, socks soaked, a most uncomfortable feeling, reminded why I spent the money to weather specialize. Basically, it doesn't have to be like this. specialized gear can make it comfortable or at least tolerable in just about any condition. And with that, welcome to Badmotoscootin's how to not feel as uncomfortable as I do now.
Since we are on the topic of rain, let's do that one first. I am a huge proponent of Frogg Toggs. They repel water so well you can practically just shake the Water off when you're done using them, but I think the best benefit is how light they are. They breath and they are easily packed I can fit both the top and bottom in the built in tank bag on my Zero. they're not the prettiest, but let's be real, what rain gear actually looks good? Compared to the PVC garbage bags that will make you just as wet from sweet as from the elements that comprise most rain gear, I'll happily take the weird material and boring colors. There are also many waterproof textile jackets which is my winter rain approach to tops. There are purpose built rain gloves, but believe it or not, I will usually just wear my leather gloves when the rain catches me. Cheap leather gloves will fall apart if you get them wet, but a decent pair of Daineses or Alpinestars will keep your hands mostly dry and last for years as long as you're not drenching them daily. Also most rain pants will double as extra insulation for cold pants. I have never bought pants specifically for the cold as just wearing my rain pants seemed to do the trick.
Speaking of cold. If you are serious about being a motorcycle commuter like I am, you're going to deal with the cold for about 1/4th of the year, longer in the northern latitudes. Unless it's snowing, that's no reason to stop riding. Here in Arizona the temperature rarely drops to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and there is quite a good amount of gear that makes it safe to ride down that low. First Gear, who appears on this list again makes a great winter coverall that is easily one of the best bangs for the buck in the motorcycling world in any category Firstgear Thermo One-Piece Motorcycle Suit
When it comes to hands, I personally have no cold tolerance. I'll admit I cheat. When the temperature drops below 40F I start plugging gloves into the bike. Heated grips are a cheaper option, but they only heat the palms. Gloves heat everything. I'm partial to micro wire heated gear, but any heat on your hands will help. Even hot hands, but those are only good for 8 hours and my best use for them has been exploring off the bike. Heated Gear
Now, when I'm talking hot, I'm talking really hot, I mean southern and central Arizona hot. It was 118F in Phoenix during the first week of my trip. It was still 106 in Sedona up in the mountains. A perforated leather jacket won't do it for you here. We need mesh, and sometimes we need even more than that. My go to summer jacket is something that Firstgear discontinued for some unknown reason about two years ago. They still have a similar product Firstgear Mesh Tex Jacket that flows just as much air, and costs the same, but has a roomier fit.
My other more technical summer jacket is what I normally take on road trips. The Icon Hypersport is leather and 3d mesh. It's a little warmer than a solid mesh jacket naturally, but it's a lot more crash worthy and this jacket is great for road trips because it has 5 pockets, and they aren't small either. It also has a pocket for a small Mp3 player and even an earbud pocket. The ultimate finishing touch for road-trip jacket is the d3o armor. It's soft until it's hit and then it instantly becomes hard meaning that this jacket has no pressure points. Icon Hypersport Leather Jacket Icon also makes an even more advanced version of this jacket called the Hypersport Prime with more traditional padding. Icon Hypersport Prime Leather Jacket
When it starts to get really ridiculous like that 118F day, I will also where an evaporative cooling vest. They use air passing through water to remove heat by evaporating the water. This change in state is exactly the way a cooler works and isn't too different from the way A/C works. The back side of the vest can be as much as 30 degrees cooler than the air hitting it. It can also double as insulation when dry, making it good to pack for a trip. There are many makes, but this is the one I own. Techniche Hyperkewl Evaporative Cooling Vest
I'm a All The Gear All The Time kind of guy so my jeans are Kevlar lined Riding Pants and I wear gloves regardless of the temperature. First gear makes the ones I wear most of the time when it's hot. Firstgear Mesh Tex Gloves
So, if you're tying to decide on how to stay comfortable or keep from repeating a bad time, I hope my personal experience can help serve as a guide. As usual comment or email me any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
A place to stay in Tennessee, learning to Fly Fish, and the Continental Divide: The people you meet and the places you see.
I'm trying to make about 200 miles today, so I don't have long to write at the moment, perhaps later during a charge. At the moment I'm waiting for my clothes to dry, so this will be a short musing as opposed to a summary of part of the trip. I know, this was an electric motorcycle trip, so I had to stop more often and stick around for longer, but this applies really to any roadtrip and especially to motorcycle trips.
Take the long route. That's the best advice I can give to travelers. Go out of the way, be approachable, and stay at airbnb you never know who you'll meet and you never know what you'll see. In the last week I met and hung out with the people who run the Pikes Peak Hill Climb Museum in the Broadmoor Hotel, had dinner with Zero Motorcycles Marketing Director, was invited to stay with a couple anytime I'm in Tennessee and learned to Fly Fish from Johnathan Rice of Flyfisherman magazine. I didn't meet any of these people on purpose, I met them by not flying overhead, I met them by not staying in my hotel room, I met them by talking, by not being to busy to answer questions, and by caring enough to ask some of my own. On this trip I've even learned how to live for free if you have a trailer or RV, just because I showed interest in the people managing a park I charged at, something that's actually pretty common, but I would have had know way of knowing.
If I had flown to Colorado Springs, I'd probably have saved a few hundred dollars, but I would have missed some of the best experiences of this trip, and I wouldn't be as excited to plan the next one.
If you ride. Ride on! If you don't, what's stopping you?
Friday, June 24, 2016
My next charging spot was in Tuba City about 75 miles north of my then current location in Flagstaff. That's still well within the range of the 9.8kw Zero ...if you're going 30mph. At 60 it's a few miles too far. At 65 its about 10 miles too far. So what's a man to do? I discovered on this and the next leg of the journey just how scared the average driver is to pass, as car after car would slow down 10mph and follow me for miles before finally passing. And if any of you have ever driven between Flagstaff and Tuba City, it's pretty much wide open and there are few curves to conceal oncoming traffic. It seems that people just really hate to pass. It got so bad headed into monument valley, that I got into the oncoming lane and braked hard forcing the tailgater to go by on the right. I was literally screaming in my helmet because I couldn't fathom why someone would rather drive a half a car length from someone than just go around them.
Charging issues continued to haunt my mind. In Tuba city I turned the bike on and used the quick charger to charge through the accessory connector afraid the onboard might trigger the bike to freak out again. Without the onboard the charging would take a while and I used this time to study from a bench within eyeshot of the bike. When the accessory charger had maxed out at around 87% I plugged in the onboard and hoped for the best. It was charging! After about an hour the bike was ready to go with 100% and good thing because at 99 miles the next leg was longer than anything the bike had seen in one charge.
I confess that even after slowing up traffic, riding sometimes 20 under, and spending almost two hours on the bike I was going to be about six miles short. Fortunately there was city Kayenta, that had a few stores, restaurants, and hotels a few miles before I would have run into problems. I found a gas station where I could plug into a wall outlet and grabbed something to eat. As improbable as it was I was able to reach the 2 outlet circuits with the aid of a 50ft extension cord. That meant I could use the quick charger. 40 minutes later I was headed for the valley with a comfortable range cushion. Utah here I come.
That night I camped at the Gouling's Lodge and RV park in Monument Valley. Or I suppose I kind of camped. I plugged in everything, rolled my tarp out onto the picnic table, rolled out the sleeping bag and wrapped myself in the tarp. I slept about as well as you suspect I did, but I did get at least a few hours of shut eye. I woke in the middle of the night just in time to see the moon rising over the mountain, I grabbed my camera and did the best I could with about 30 seconds to prepare. This time tomorrow we'll be in Colorado.
Bye bye, Arizona see you again soon.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
The biggest ride of my life so far in miles to ride, time on the road, time away from home, and complexity began with a visit to a friend. It wasn’t just any visit, but specifically the kind that no biker really wants to make. Lisa loves to ride, and I say that in the present tense because she will always be a biker, even if she never regains use of her legs. I know this because I’m the same way. There is something out there for everyone that drives them forward, that makes them look forward to the next day. Even when I’m not looking forward to going to work, I can relax a little knowing that my motorcycle will take me there. No day can be too bad if I can ride afterward, but what if I couldn’t?
I had seen the pictures, but pictures aren’t the truth. They are subject to lighting and framing, contrast and color balance. It looks bad, but it can’t be that bad right? No, the pictures were better. They didn’t carry the emotion of standing in the room with your friend with most of her body in braces and tubes running into a contraption over her mouth. I watched as her chest moved up in down in perfect time and observed the never changing readout from the machines. She’s stable, she’ll make it, but right now I wonder, is she feeling anything at all? Should I talk to her, should I try to wake her up? I didn’t do either. I didn’t know what to do. I just stood there for a moment a long moment, perhaps too long a moment. Finally I said “what would Lisa do?” She would ride. And so I did. Get better friend. Maybe someday we can ride together again.
Day 1: (or night I suppose, it did start at 5pm)Last night I did something I’ve always been terrified to do. I hooked my bike to the charger connected my accessory charger, covered myself in so much bug repellant it stung, and laid down on a bench. I’ve never slept in public. I don’t trust people. I don’t want to be vulnerable near them, heck I don’t want to be vulnerable period, but we all need to sleep, and Florence doesn’t have any rooms. Seriously, there were no rooms under 100 dollars in the whole city. This put a kink in my plans for the evening as the nearest charging station was 30 miles away and in a grocery store parking lot with no lodging in the area. After the longest ride ever on my Zero, 88 miles, I pulled into the Fry’s parking lot with 3% left in my battery packs. I accidently proved to myself that the bike was capable of handling the longest stretch of this trip, so that’s one fear down. It took about 3 hours to get the state of charge high enough to make it to the next station. It turned out that due to the Florence incident I was ahead, both in time and distance so when I arrived at the next station there was still 40% or so on the battery. The blink charge station was located at a McDonald’s/ Shell gas station in North Phoenix, but there was this guy there, circling the block, driving fast through parking lots and just generally looking sketchy. He later picked up two guys, was gone for 15 minutes came back and dropped them off in the middle of the street, yes he dropped off people from the left turn lane. By this point I had become concerned that maybe I wasn’t in the safest of places so I headed for the Blink chargers at Honeywell. That location was perfect there was literally no traffic and it was far off the street. For the first time in my life I laid down on a bench and woke up 1 ½ hours later to the sunrise and chirping birds. I was also ahead of schedule, having not spent 8hrs in Florence. Not a bad start.
I’m finally out of Phoenix! Cooler temperatures await. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The ride up to Cordes Lake was a blast. It was only about 40 miles or easily within range. What this translated to sportbiker: “There is absolutely no need to ride conservatively. So I did not. Even with an extra 70 pounds of charger, cables, adapters, electronics and their accessories the Zeros torque made quick work of those steep uphill roads. For those of you that have not made the climb from Phoenix to Flagstaff or Prescott, I-17 is notorious for breaking cars. There are even signs warning to shut off the A/C as to not overheat the car. The Zero had no problem. I click it into sport mode and zipped around cars, accelerated where others were losing speed and still made it to Cordes Lake with around 40% remaining. Today is a good day.
I plugged my bike and chargers into a Nema 15-40 to 4x Nema 5-20 adapter and charged off the RV parks 240 and 50A power. For those of you used to Blink public chargers, this is actually more powerful. If you ever need a charge between Flagstaff and Phoenix keep them in mind Quail Ridge RV Park, it was $5 dollars. I came out of the clubhouse fresh and ready to go only to find my bike losing it. Every warning light, ever possible readout and all the numbers were flashing on the dashboard. I thought I broke it, seriously for days I thought this. In a panic I looked up the nearest Zero dealer which was only 10 miles away and rode it there. There was a Veterans event taking place and they were busy, really busy, but the service manager still took the time to listen to my problem. He asked me to demonstrate, so I plugged the onboard in, and the bike charged, just fine. I hung out at Grand Canyon Motorsports for the next few hours waiting for the bike to act up again. I talked to the Zero marketing director who happened to be there, talked to some tough looking Harley guys that were open enough to come over to the Zero display, had something to drink (soda,) checked out this cool 2 wheel drive sidecar called a Ural, and had a bit to eat. I came back to the bike to find that it charged fine. It was now at 87% and could easily make the next stop in Sedona so I headed that way. Btw Jerome is AMAZING!!!! It too some architectural and engineering creativity to build this mining community in a place with absolutely no flat land. To say it’s built literally on the side of a mountain is not an exaggeration.
Assuming the previous malfunction was a fluke, I connected the bike the same way I had in Phoenix, I went for a walk, watched a few videos on UX design and came back to the bike freaking out again. I was devastated and made a depressed giving up style post in the Zero motorcycle group on Facebook. Terry Hershner (Electric Terry) responded and we ended up talking on the phone for a long while about how to still finish the trip. Good thing, it got better but not right away. The night ended with a fun blast up to Flagstaff, a full KOA, frustrating trying to find a charger open to the public (if anyone knows how to use the ones at NAU, please comment,) before finally giving up and getting the 3rd cheapest hotel I could find (the reviews didn’t say stay away like the previous two) that actually turned out to be one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed and had wall outlets all over the parking lot. I had a good, too good (I overslept) night of sleep and started out for my biggest day yet.
End of Part One. Stay tuned.
Computer issues prevented uploading of pictures and link. Expect a new and improved version soon.