Friday, January 20, 2017

Long Term Test: 1984 Shogun 600 post #4

Beach Streets Midtown open streets
event in Long Beach, CA
While the Orca has sat on the rack gathering dust, the Shogun has seen at least a little bit of use. As a part of the semi-annual Beach Streets event, I was able to not only get out and ride a little bit, but also give the Shogun some much needed and long overdue maintenance.

Key among the items that needed to be addressed was the chain, which had not been cleaned in easily a couple of years and a few hundred miles worth of riding. As a result, the drive train, including the chain, chain ring, and rear derailleur all had accumulated a wealth of road grime. Since we had plenty of people working the booth I was staffing at Beach Streets, I took the opportunity to give my chain and drive train a good scrubbing, With it freshly cleaned and lubed, I was able to take it for a quick ride along the Beach Streets route while the streets were still closed. For a bike that is over 30 years old, it still rides beautifully and is still my favorite bike ever.

Hopefully once the weather becomes agreeable again in the spring, I will be able to spend more time out riding. I might also have a few accessories that will be acquired to allow me greater latitude in carrying precious cargo. We shall see at the next update.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Long Term Test: 2012 Orbea Orca Bronze post #4

My poor Orbea has been sitting largely untouched for the last several months. Following some injuries sustained at the end of September, in conjunction with the colder weather and the craziness of my current home life, I simply have not had as much time to ride as I would like. To make matters worse, I also have not had the opportunity to give it a proper tune-up while it has sat out of service. Of course, once things settle down again, I intend to get back on the bike and get out there to meet the seemingly impossible task for me of riding 1,000 miles in a single year.

Still, in the meantime, even though I am not riding it, at least I get to enjoy looking at it. The Orca may not be the most wild design out there, but compared to the simplicity of the rest of my bikes, it is genuinely a great looking piece of art to hang up and be appreciated.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Long Term Test: 2016 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E Platinum post #1

So we finally did it. After all of my effusive praise heaped upon it and the many test drives, we finally have a Volvo V60 as a part of our long-term test fleet. Our recently acquired V60 wagon comes in a stately Savile Gray Metallic paint job and packs Volvo's very impressive Drive-E 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a well-sorted Aisin 8-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels. In the Platinum trim level, the V60 comes with nearly every single available widget the Volvo offers: blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and on and on. The alphabet soup of driver assist features combined with the potent Drive-E engine and Volvo's downright phenomenal seats makes for what should be an excellent long-distance touring car. Add to that the storage capacity to hold luggage for the whole family and the V60 will likely find itself serving road trip duty at least a few times during its tenure with us.

Of course, the eagle-eyed among you will likely notice a few missing features that made me offer up my prodigious praise of the V60 in my prior reviews. The sport package with its gorgeous diamond-cut 19-inch wheels was not on the table because availability with the package and color options was pretty much non-existent. Somehow, when we were ready to finally grab one for ourselves, there were simply no cars in the area that could provide the right mix of trim level, packages, and color that we ideally wanted. Since this would not be my daily driver, I had to ultimately defer to the desires of the person who would spend the most time with it. Still, the standard wheels work well with the understated choice of paint color and give the V60 a dignified appearance.

Even so, the V60 is an exciting (yes, an exciting Volvo!) addition to our long-term fleet. It is also the second vehicle in our long-term fleet to come packed to the gills with driver assist systems, giving us an opportunity to compare how two different manufacturers implement these systems and to test how well they work in real world conditions. With autonomous cars marching ever closer to the consumer market, these interim steps of current generation driver assist systems give us a taste of the autonomous future to come.

We have a full three years with the V60 to find out if it really is as good as my test drives led me to believe.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Long Term Test: 2014 Acura RLX Tech post #6

The recent acquisition of our 9th generation Honda Accord Touring places us in an interesting position to examine something: is the RLX genuinely worth the rather extensive premium over its more pedestrian relative? While a bit older in age, the RLX and the Accord both sit at the top of the sedan ranges for their respective brands. They theoretically serve the purpose of getting buyers to get large sedans with nearly full-size levels of leg room in more typically mid-size exterior dimensions. Sharing many traits, including their FWD architecture, similarly rated 3.5-liter V6 engines, and even their 6-speed automatic transmissions, the two cars are so close in spec that it is no surprise that people often complain about the RLX being little more than an Accord in a fancy suit. But since we actually have the two cars in our possession at the same time, let's actually compare a few of their key traits and see if the comparison is a fair one.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Welcome to 2017

It has been a little while since we have had a chance to post consistently. The last half of 2016 was fraught with big changes for both of us as we settled into new jobs, new roles at existing jobs, spent time dealing with personal items, and giving back to our communities. As a result, we not only did not have time to generate new content, but we have also missed numerous long-term updates, which we will work on getting caught up on this month. Once we get caught up, we hope to have some great new content to share throughout the year.

Happy 2017 and hope everyone's year has gotten off to a great start.