Hard luggage was a game-changer in my motorcycling passion. On my first bike, the Vulcan, I would always have to struggle with various backpacks, duffel bags, and other zippered luggage when leaving the motorcycle. Soft luggage isn’t usually waterproof and is more likely to be stolen. Once I had upgraded from the Vulcan to the V-Strom, hard luggage was an option as I now rode a bona fide touring motorcycle. I needed that upgrade for my cross country motorcycle trip! Getting everything on my motorcycle packing list was much easier now!
Hard luggage, in contrast, is made from hard plastic or metal. It securely locks to the bike and is often waterproof. Riders can leave their stuff with little fear it will get stolen or messed with because of the security of the cases. My first Givi set included a 52 L top case and two 36 L side cases (Givi made the current versions a bit larger). It was easy to pack for the cross country trip in such a cavernous upgrade. That luggage worked almost flawlessly for me over 15 years.
Having had good experiences with Givi, I decided to upgrade to their Trekker Outback series which featured an aluminum case. The cases themselves are pretty awesome. However, the mount has been giving me problems a year into using them.
I called Givi support in August and they routed me to the office in North Carolina. Givi wanted me to send my 46 liter side case back to them (at my expense) for them to review. Since San Jose BMW had installed the cases, I didn’t have any of the boxes that would fit and protect my luggage. Frustrated, I did a bit more research and found out that Givi had an office in Reno, Nevada. I explained my situation and that I was located a few hours away. I asked if I could come by and they responded with “of course!”
I took the side case off the bike and put it in the back of the car and headed off to Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and of course, Reno. In hindsight, I probably should’ve taken the motorcycle but I was giving my arm a bit more time to heal after surgery. We weren’t sure if it was the case or the mount, so we started with the case as it had the most moving parts. The Givi team swapped out my side case with no questions asked.
When I got home, unfortunately, the issue reproduced. My cases were fine. The mount was the problem. Figuring I would have to take all of the mounting hardware off, I tossed that problem to a future weekend. Three months went by and here we are the first week in November. While it’s near 80 in the mountains today, by week’s end it will be down in the single digits. It was going to be now or May to get the bag fixed. Since I had the week off, up to the Sierras I go!
When planning trips this time of year, I often forget the subtle, but profound impact of shorter days and losing Daylight Saving Time. To ease back into longer days on the bike I decided to take the freeway up to Reno. It’s a touch over 200 miles on the freeway from door to door. That’s about twice the distance I’ve been normally riding. My physical therapist gave me the go-ahead as long as I promised to stop and stretch regularly. Being 2 o’clock at departure time and sunset just two hours later I needed to take speed over scenic.
Getting out of the Bay Area and into Sacramento was harder than I expected. Lots of traffic and choppy winds made riding more tiring than the back roads around the house I was used to. I’d noticed my gloves were getting a little bit long in the tooth on this ride. I stopped at Cycle Gear Sacramento as they are one of the largest motorcycle retail shops in the area. If they didn’t have the right gloves, chances are they weren’t made. If you’re local, it’s worth the trip up to Sac.
My current gloves, the Fieldsheer Legend was no longer made. I was hoping for an exact match as I really enjoyed these gloves. The Fieldsheer Anaconda was close. They had black in my size which felt a touch small and a large in white. I bought a medium sized glove online before that was way too tight. Thus, I was a bit more conservative and went with the color I didn’t want to get the fit that I did.
As I was heading up the hill, I was starting to really like the gloves I bought. The white and black gave my gloves a bit more of a “gear-y” feel to them which I found kinda cool. Most of my motorcycle gear is extremely functional and these had a bit more of a Power Ranger style to them that I began to appreciate.
Once I was out of the city, the mountains began to call. Heading out on a Sunday night means all the traffic is heading the other way. It was a beautiful ride up to 7000 feet. I opted to climb over Donner Pass via Donner Pass Road rather than taking the freeway. It was a beautiful crossing and view of Donner Lake. I didn’t stop as it was just about dark and smoke filled the horizon from the Creek Fire some 200 miles away.
I always like riding during the photographer’s golden hours – defined as the hour before sunset or the hour after sunrise. Astronomers, however, define this time a bit more succinctly. Sunset is when the sun drops below the horizon. Just because the sun drops below the horizon, doesn’t make it dark. There are six phases when the sun sets.
- Daytime – The sun is above the horizon.
- Sunset – The sun drops below the horizon.
- Civil twilight – The sun is between zero and 6° below the horizon. During civil dusk, observers can see the brightest stars and generally don’t need artificial light for outdoor activities. In short – keep riding enjoy the massive color in the sky and watch out for deer.
- Nautical twilight – The sun is between 6° and 12° below the horizon. Generally during nautical dusk, one cannot distinguish the horizon.
- Astronomical twilight – The sun is between 12° and 18° below the horizon. The faintest stars become visible during astronomical twilight. This celestial event is less important to motorcyclists as it’s effectively “dark.”
- Night – The sun more than 18° below the horizon. It’s fully dark and will be until nautical dawn when the horizon becomes visible again.
Let’s take a look at it a bit more visually:
In general, I like to be kickstand down by nautical dusk. Once the horizon is not visible I want to be at my destination.
Givi mentioned to just swing by the office when I got into town. They weren’t super busy currently and could take me on a walk-in basis.
ProTip: Make sure you call Givi at (775) 359-0900. When someone answers the phone, make sure that you’re talking to the Reno location as it will fail over to the Charlotte location if Reno does not answer.
Honestly, the highlight of my trip was the office dog. He is one of the most gentle souls and always gives me the warmest welcome. He must be at least 100 pounds of love and always wants to snuggle when I walk in. He never barks. He slowly gets up on his hind legs and give you a big canine hug. When the Givi rep noticed the dog sniffing into my helmet he mentioned “he must really like you!”. I take it as a compliment and it always tugs a bit of my heart to leave him.
When we went to look at my motorcycle, it was clear that the bag was functioning correctly and the mount was not. Unfortunately, they did not have the mount in stock. The trip was not for naught as I learned the mount easily unscrews from the frame making it a simple replacement. I didn’t have to disassemble the entire frame.
From here I took a cue from Suzy Bogguss’ playbook and rode south. That, however, is a story for another post.