Two Steps Forward…

Most people don’t realize how long it takes to do an installation story for a magazine like RoadBike. Besides doing the actual work, there’s the time it takes to do the research before ordering and the cleaning of the garage before doing the work. But mostly, it takes twice as long because you need to photograph each step, which includes setting up lighting and reflectors, and if you’re a lone worker like me, setting the camera up on a tripod and using the timer to take at least three shots of every step. Plus there is all the note-taking. Some guys, like Chris and Joe from American Iron Magazine, set up a laptop right in the garage, and write the story as they’re doing the installation. I prefer to take notes, because 9 times out of 10 I do things backwards the first time around. This also makes most jobs take much longer than is really necessary. My hope is that my articles will be written better than the directions the manufacturers send with the product (if there is any) so that no one else has to scratch their heads as much as I did. There truly is an art to writing operating manuals. Some manufacturers do it right, while others fail miserably.

I spent most of my day last Thursday installing a set of SHAD hard bags on my Suzuki Bandit 1200S. The European company isn’t as well-known to Americans as it should be, as they produce top-quality hard luggage for motorcycles. The three sets of instructions that came with my top case, side bags, and all the corresponding hardware were better than most, but still challenging enough for me to get out my highlighter before I began. There were diagrams, thank goodness. I hate it when there are no diagrams. But each diagram had exploding illustrations with the hardware, and next to each were five different translations of about five steps. I chose to use the GB translation, which was as close to English as I could get. With my highlighted directions, my carefully laid out hardware, and hours of prep work done, I tackled the installation with ease. I did get stuck at a couple points, but figured my way through the roadblocks.

In the end, the bags were installed, and I didn’t even have to go back and redo anything. Better yet, they look great and work even better. I took a trip with them filled just before making the final touches – holes needed to be drilled to affix the top case color plate, and of course, my drill battery was dead. In any case, the bags made the trip much more convenient and enjoyable.

I decided to stop at the memorial on Bald Hill, Long Island's highest point. I've ridden by it a hundred times and never stopped.

Unfortunately, this morning, when I pulled the Bandit out of the garage to head in to the office, it started for a second, made a giant pop and went completely dead. I’ll deal with that another day. Two steps forward, one step back.

If you want to read the complete install, look for it in RoadBike’s March 2011 issue.