Baby Face Frame Sliders

I’ve been looking around for some frame sliders for the Tracer, and indeed found quite a few which seemed to fit the bill with it being based on the fairly popular MT-09 and all.

As you could expect, the two two main types for my model were the ‘single bolt and puck’ type, and those which used two bolts per side with the slider puck somewhere in the middle on a bar or mount.   Despite being a little more expensive, I decided to go for the latter two-bolts-per-side type as I think they’d disperse any inpact force a little better, and frankly I quite like the look of them. I also thought it’d be something different to install, as I’d only had the single bolt type on previous bikes.

Truthfully, I’ve been lucky over the years not to drop or slide my bikes too often, but the Tracer is quite tall for me, and I’ve felt it almost go when doing some slow, tight U-turns down mountain roads which had suddenly stopped being roads, so once more I thought I’d get some sliders on, just in case.

After a bit of thinking, reading, more thinking, and several cups of tea, I’d narrowed it down to either a set from German manufacturer SW Motech, or some from a Japanese company called Baby Face. The Motech ones look nice, they’re well made and angular like the Tracer. The Baby Face ones look more traditional, with the more tubular style puck but the two piece bar is a very nice piece of engineering. Partly because they looked chunky, and partly because a friend is a distributor who tends to only represent decent kit, I thought I’d give the Japanese manufacturer BabyFace a go.  Price wise here in Japan they’re quite similar.

Slider Kit
The sliders arrived in a well packed box with the contents shown above – all in a kind of vacuum bubble wrap, and with some very basic instructions. Very. Basic. Those instructions had an odd blowup diagram of the assembly, some generic warnings (‘don’t fit these when the engine is hot’), some general torque guidance for their bolts, and a request to consult your bike’s service manual for specific mounting bolt torques. There’ s also a parts and spec list, but none of the parts themselves have numbers on them, so be sure to measure and know which part is which.

I dry assembled them, and beautifully labelled them with premium masking tape, in an attractive shade of pink. You can see the two parts which form the bar are quite chunky, but they’re light, and even when only lightly tightened, they feel incredibly rigid.

Next up was fitting them to the bike.

Per institutions and experience, I’d need some threadlock, for which I defaulted to Loctite Blue 243 which hasn’t failed me yet. The rest are the usual hex bits and the required torque wrenches.

The BabyFace bar bolts just require 5 & 25Nm torquing, with the engine bolts requiring 45Nm.

The instructions recommend an engine jack, but since I don’t have access to a specific motorcycle one, I simply put the  bike on its centre stand, then  a car jack under the engine until I could feel it taking some weight, and the bike didn’t move.

From that I just went one bolt at a time, doing first the left, then the right slider. It was actually simpler than expected. Only one of the original Yamaha bolts had any threadlock on it, but for scale I put a small drop on each of the four engine bolts. Each bolt I removed I labelled and put in a ziploc. Force of habit.

Basically, remove a bolt, clean the theads and washer (as it would be re-used), thread the new BabyFace bolt through the slider assembly and washer and into the hole,  hand tighten, then do the second bolt for that side and then torque them both down. No problems.

As you can see, they suit the style and colour of the Tracer, so I’m really pleased with them, and despite the sparse instructions, fitting was a breeze likely thanks to the quality engineering.

As expected, they feel incredibly solid on the bike, fit in to the design and in a good way, disappear.

Left Side Slider

Ride Side Slider

Pros:

  • Look and feel well made
  • No installation issues

Cons:

  • Instructions are very generic, and not immediately clear so spend some time absorbing them.

Bike Trip to Tanzawa

I was looking for somewhere different to go on the bike for a few hours, and using a tried, trusted and very scientific method, I looked at my map to see where there were very few roads, thinking fewer roads meant a generally quieter area. It didn’t take more than a minute to see the Tanzawa area in central Kanagawa.  With all the research I needed done, I got a fresh flask of tea, the camera, hopped on the bike and off I went.

There’s a rough route here on Google Maps (I hope this works – it’s been a bit hit and miss lately):

There are actually several ways to get to where I needed to go, but I thought I’d get some faster roads in to warm up, and avoid some traffic, so I took the quick Fujisawa bypass down to the coast, did a little on the 134 before cutting north on the 61 up to Isehara. Isehara is a notable place for me since it’s where I lived for two years on my first tour in Japan, teaching English in schools on the JET programme. It seems not much has changed, a few new places, more car parks, but it still seems as nice a small town as it was.

Contrast that with Route 246 which is as comically evil road out here in Kanagawa as it is in central Tokyo. It’s not a fun road on two wheels, but fortunately on this day, it wasn’t too bad, and most of the drivers were relatively sane.

It was route 70 I really wanted though, and the climb into the mountains aiming for the Yabitsu pass, so just before Hadano I made the right and began the ascent though increasingly relaxed housing, more fields and a great view of the mountains.

I’ll be honest, I somehow managed to take a wrong turn, for which I blame my being easily distracted by small and interesting looking roads. I realised my error when I… ran out of road.  This was to be something of a theme for the day.

No More Road

I soon got back on track, and onto the important job of loving the road and the scenery, it’s just a great little area to go and look it. It also seemed popular with cyclists.

There are a number of things to see along the way, some small shrines, which aren’t really notable, and a few viewing points, which give great vistas of the towns below.

tanzawa-tower1

There’s a small service area at the beginning of the Yabitsu Pass. OK, there are some vending machines and a toilet at the start of the Yabitsu Pass to be honest, but don’t worry about that, it’s fairly secluded, and offers just kilometre after kilometre of beautiful twisty roads, shaded tree cover, mountains, and small rivers running down these small valleys.

On the day I went there were also quite a few hikers which is great, but I noted many walked on the left, and not (per international convention I thought) facing oncoming traffic, which would be their right, so be careful on real hairpins, since not only could there be someone walking on the road, but they may well have their backs to you. I think  this was a bit of an issue for the cyclists a few times.

I love twisties, have I ever mentioned that? I don’t ride a bike for speed, I just like seeing what’s out there, meeting people at stops, and winding, winding roads, and this area is great for that.

There also seem to be a lot of camp sites around the area, so I’ve pencilled them in for next year.

As you come out from the Pass, you start to skirt Lake Miyagase, which looks stunning, and is actually a man made lake supplying water for much of east Kanagawa and Tokyo, so if you look carefully you can see dead trees just below and protruding through the water line.

The colour of the rocks, the water and the treeline just looks so different to many of Japan’s lakes, and is quite a contrast to the very green feel of the place.

tanzawa-lake2

The lake has several smaller rivers feeding it, so I chose a road that followed one which the map suggested ended closest to mount Tanzawa, and headed up. More twisties! There were some small collections of houses, presumably for farmers, and the required white kei vans, coming and going, and more and more, signs were for hikers, pointing out hiking routes and estimated walking times.  The roads started to get narrower, and there were more pieces of rocks and leaves in the middle.

Fishing River
Fishing River

Along the way I came across and angling farm, if that’s what they’re called, so I pulled over to have a look. At a turn in the river,  a makeshift gravel carpark (and BBQ spot I suspect) had been created and several pools with weirs of rock built for fishermen to fish their own spot.

tanzawa-fishing1

It looked like a lot of fun if that’s your thing, and each pond was well stocked. It looked a bit rigged if you know what I mean, but everyone seemed to be enjoying it. Yes, I know nothing about angling.

Further on, I made another wrong turn and hit another dead end, retraced my steps, and got back on route, and saw some beautiful waterfalls,  but it was increasingly obvious that the  road was not well travelled at this time of year – branches on the road, a rock slide, a stream flowing across it, and even a snake at one point. Some bent barriers also suggested a few drivers had been a little over enthusiastic on the corners.

I pushed on, taking care between the rocks, and trying to avoid branches in case they also turned out to be snakes, whilst at the same time trying to enjoy the view as the road was now quite high above the small river below.

Finally though, as all good things must come to an end,  this did in the shape of two large steel barriers across the road,  which didn’t entirely come as a surprise since the 50m of road up to them was basically a rock track.

tanzawa-bike1

That then I decided was the end of the run, and I headed back the way I came, stopping to take some photos of the lake, waving to a few bikers as they passed, and felt a little sad that this place was so close and yet I’d never ventured up here. I am planning to come back as part of a group next time, and perhaps we can try some other roads.

 

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Bike Trip to Manazuru

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been out on my bike for a run, rather than just running errands, and in fact, the last time, I just did old faithful – the Izu Skyline. This time I decided to blend the old and the new, so I took my favourite ocean-side route 134 down towards Odawara, and then go up the Hakone Turnpike. It used to be called the Toyo Tires Turnpike, but now it’s the Mazda Turnpike. At the lower entrance they basically changed one cheap sign for another cheap sign. At the top, they’ve renamed the cafe area to the Mazda Skylounge, though aside from that, it’s business as usual – and there’s nothing wrong with that – a good chance to see people who love to get out on 2,3 or 4 wheels. I await a unicyclist at the SkyLounge for that single wheel addition.

Sat outside the SkyLounge, on one of the benches with a view down onto lake Ashinoko, I was drinking some tea from my flask, and leafing through my Mapple touring map book, trying to find somewhere I could do in a couple of hours, and be back home in the early afternoon. It just wasn’t going to be Izu again I’d decided. As I leafed through I noticed a small spit of land out into Sagami Bay, that just hadn’t registered with me before, I suspect as I’m usually on the coastal road, which lacks an exit near it – the small peninsula called Manazuru.


View Larger Map

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, first I needed to get from (A) The Mazda Skylounge, to (B) Manazuru. Fortunately for me, a nice way to get there is via Yugawara and Route 75, a playful twisty something, meandering down through the mountain valleys, with plenty of tree overhangs, shade, and more corners than you can shake a moderate sized stick at. It must be five years since I last used this road, and it’s a shame because it’s a lot of fun. At Yugawara, at the base of the 75, it’s a short jaunt on that 135 coast road, but you jump off before the toll and express routes, and then in my case, headed for Manazuru station. I was wondering how these roads were going to work, as on the map there seem to me a mass of turn-offs in front of Manazuru station – and there are. However, after years of tourists, they’ve got it organised, with colour coded lanes to take you to different areas. Fundamentally, the 739 road loops the peninsula, but near the cape (as it’s called) a smaller road breaks off, but this is one way, and quite narrow, which is a good thing, as it keeps traffic flowing safely.

manazuru-rockpool2

I stopped a couple of times along the road to watch people sea fish off the rocks, see the literally fresh fish being dried, and listen to the waves. Riding on though, and onto the one way loop through winding lanes, you finally get down to Manatsuru Cape itself, and a nice large tourist area with car parks and bus parking. From the building, you can get a great view of the bay, it’s very scenic, but I hadn’t come all this way to look at the Pacific from the top of the cliffs – I’d come to touch ocean, and see the shrine. Well, not so much a shrine but, well the photo explains it. As far as I can tell, it’s called ‘名勝三ツ石’ or Meishoumitsuishi. Literal translation – ‘A place of beauty with three rocks’.

manazuru-cape2

As you descend by the steps though, there’s a nice looking cafe. I can’t recommend anything from there, as I was a little early for it to open, but it looked very inviting, perched on the sloping rocks with a grand view of the ocean. At the base of the slope are some toilets, then the pebble beach. The large rocks at the end of the spit are often cut off from the coast when the tide is high, but when it’s low, you can walk out towards them on the rock causeway. You have to be careful on the rocks, and there are thousands of beetles and such, but it’s nice to get out around the waves, and if you’re up for it, try to catch some small fish or shellfish.

manazuru-cape3

The rocks themselves, between two two of which are stretched some Shinto based paper streamers on a long rope (called shime 標, or even a rope version shimenawa), look quite striking against the surf, and it’s easy to see how people living near here in times past would want to make an acknowledgement to the gods of the sea.  All it all, it’s quite a fetching place, and somewhere you can sit for a while and just look out over the vast Ocean. You’ll likely want that rest too, before the hike back up the steps.

manazuru-cape4

The building at the top of the cliffs is nice, but it’s nothing special, if you’ve seen one tourist targeting restaurant selling local food and trinkets, you’ve pretty much seen this one, but it’s got a great view, the menus seemed OK (again, it was too early to try), the staff were nice,   it had some nice places to sit outside, and vitally, the toilets were clean.

After I’d drunk some more tea on the lawn over the cliff, I could feel the bike calling me, so off I went again, giving cyclists plenty of space on the bumpy road, but actually not so far, as another building came into view, and in front of it, the Manazuru Fire Station, which is a simple building with large glass windows, showing off the single fire engine. It looked quite nice in it’s own way.

The building just behind it looks like a large converted house, in some old, and non-Japanese style; at first glance it looked almost south east Asian colonial – yes, I’m not much of an architectural scholar. In front of the house, what was once likely a large stately lawn, has been quite tastefully converted into a miniature golf course. Walk past this, through the palm trees, and again there’s a beautiful cliff-top view of the ocean. I think this is all a part of the number of hotel resort facilities in the area, for those who want to come down for several days.

manazuru-golfhouse1

There are lots of things to see on this peninsula actually – I’d quite like to come back for a full day and walk around a lot more to see more of them, and once you’re here, on foot is a good way to do it. Of course, two wheels are the best way to actually get here.

Manazuru My Map
Manazuru My Map

I made a Google Map link, as the image above is a grab – it didn’t want to show for some reason. However you get here though, the compactness of the area makes it worth the trip.

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1 Second a Day – February 2014

It’s been almost a year since I last did a ‘1 Second a Day’ was last April. IT’s just a small project thing I saw on Vimeo – no soundtrack or real planning, just simple 1 second a day from the phone.

New Header Image: Sunset

It’s been a long time since I changed that header image, and since the last one was from a cooling stream, I thought I’d replace it with a sunset, which looks nice and warm, even though I took the picture in late 2013 and it was definitely not warm. The same time I took these pictures I think.

Shonan Winter Sunset
Shonan Winter Sunset

There’s something very calming about sunsets all over the world, over forests, cities, the ocean, wherever. I’m frequently reminded about something the amazing Douglas Adams wrote for the ‘final’ Hitchhiker’s series – Quintessential Phase about boundary conditions, (I’ll dig the quote out for the next post) and a sunset where the ocean meets land seems to be two simultaneous boundaries.

Shonan Beach In Winter

There’s something just very relaxing about coastlines and sunrises or sunsets, even as Winter moves in. After almost 5 years of living near the Japan’s Pacific coast, I just don’t seem to get bored of cycling down here, and just walking and taking some pictures (yes, almost the same picture) again and again. I’m not alone either, year round people are cycling the beach track, surfing a little, even playing beach volleyball, and I just don’t think it gets any more relaxed than this.

April 2013 in 30 Seconds

In what is becoming something of a tradition here now, I’m posting something I did almost 3 months ago – simply filming a second or so or video a day, and putting it together in chronological order,  which is something that I’ve seen a lot of people do, and I actually kind of enjoyed doing it myself. Maybe I’ll do it again for August since I’ll be on holiday during it.

 

1 Second a Day for April 2013 from Nanikore on Vimeo.

 

Shonan Beach – July

I live in the Shonan area of Kanagawa, so in the summer we often go down to the beach area, which is what the area is really famous for, and after a day hanging around, getting into the ocean and walking around the beach, you can get some nice sunset shots and people venture home. Of course, if you’re in the water, take the waterproof camera (in my case an old GoPro 2). Actually this day, it wasn’t so busy, as usually the beach hut bars are fairly crowded.

Shonan 2013 - July
Shonan 2013 – July
Shonan 2013 - July
Shonan 2013 – July
Shonan 2013 - July
Shonan 2013 – July

明けましておめでとうございます2013

Another New Year comes crashing around, and I’m hoping for another good one. No retrospectives, or lists or anything by the way; I tend to want to look forwards at this time of year.

As far as our New Year celebrations went, we had a quiet one at home for the midnight tick over, but then we were up just after 5am this morning to get the family ready and down to the beach to watch the sunrise with a few thousand other people. I did this last year, and though it was busy, it was fairly quiet. This year it seemed to be a complete circus, not just with the thousands come to see the sunrise on the Pacific beaches, but the roads were busy, especially with young guys in heavily modded cars. If anything, it added an extra flavour to the morning, and in the cold and with a few clouds, we watched the sun rise for the first time on 2013.

Given the shape of the bay, we could also see the sun’s rays hit Mt. Fuji for the first time, as surfers got their first waves of the New Year in. It was all quite relaxing given the hour and the temperature. Potentially the kids may not share my opinion of that.

As soon as the sun was fully up, people began bustling away, and we got some breakfast at one of the cafes which was open on the beach road, and then made our way home. I have to say, I do quite like this ‘first sunrise’ event, called ‘Hatsuhinode‘ (初日の出), and even if we left Japan, it’s something I’d probably still do.

Soon after lunch though we were out again at the local jinja (that’s a Shinto shrine, not an o-tera, which is a Buddhist temple, and they’re usually attended at midnight on New Years Eve) to pray to the local deities and made a small donation. I’ve been to a few shrine events, so I just had to help the kids get through throwing the coin, two bows, two claps and a prayer and move on. It went went well apart from my youngest, when seeing us close our eyes shouted, “Don’t go to sleep!” which got a ripple of laughter from those behind us in the queue.

There’s always a queue on January 1st., and for most of the o-shogatsu period, as people pray for good luck for the year, and pick up various objects to bring good luck for the year, such as a hamaya, which is a small wooden arrow to bring luck, given it’s origin is that of a weapon to slay demons. We picked one of these up for a small fee, as my wife had never had one when she was a child, so she was keen to get one with our kids.

We also got an ‘omikuji‘ (お神籤), which is a printed fortune selected by which piece of wood you get at random from a drum. Some people tie them on frames of string, or trees and such near the shrines. (For what it’s worth, ours was a pretty good one – dai-kichi).

After that, it was late afternoon and time for a break, so we’ve concluded New Years Day with a lamb stew I’d been cooking for a few hours, a glass of red wine, and having an evening in with the family. I should say that there is some traditional food for this period, called ‘osechi ryouri‘, but we don’t have them (my wife really doesn’t like them, and I’m not keen), and instead take the time to cook a few more winter based meals.

All in all a great start to 2013!

Some more photos

It’s been a while since I stuck a small gallery up on here, so I took a few random photos from the library to put up.  They’re from a few places, mainly Japan and a recent trip to Guam and from the beaches and from the woodland.