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Road Music

Bob, Emoto et al:

I ride an RT, which has great wind protection.  I have a Cee Baileys wind
screen thats a bit bigger than stock.  I think its 4 taller and 2 wider,
but dont hold me to that.  Its not the Euro cut.  I tried that one and
didnt like it.   This one is flipped up at the top and really pushes the
wind over your head without the need to put the power windscreen more than >
up.  If you get any of these screens too vertical, the wind comes round an
pushes you in the back.    This is annoying with a sitting up riding
position.   I can see over this screen very easily while in the pocket of
still air.  Long distance riding is just so much easier with a sitting up
position and good wind management.

Anyway, the real secret to good music on the road is molded earplugs.  I got
mine at a rally for a bit under $200, if I remember correctly.  The guy
shoots goo in your ears and makes a mold, then the mold gets sent to the
factory (E.A.R. Inc.) where they make the plugs and install the little
speakers.  Hint: ask for red on the righteasy to remember.  The plugs keep
the noise out and the speakers dont have to work hard at all to make enough
sound.   It works GREAT.  If you turn off the music, you can still hear
things outside, but you have to listen for them.  Talking while stopped at
lights is tough.  Talking while riding is ridiculous.

On long trips, I carry Sony ear buds too.  They sound great and the molded
plugs can make your ears sore after two or three continuous days of riding
with them all day.   I just use the ear buds for half a day and Im good.
Ear buds actually work better for group rides where you need to talk to
people a lot with your helmet on.  Its easier to hear whats going on
outside, but you do get some hearing protection.  Note: I tried a lot of
brands of ear buds when I started on this journey.  Sony for some reason is
head and shoulders above the rest.  Even the cheapest Sonys sound better
than almost any of the others.  Dont waste your money on super high end ear
buds.  The ones with several drivers inside provide minimal extra fidelity
in a quiet room.  On a bike, you really cant tell any difference.  Do pay
attention to how much of the ear bud sticks out of your ears.  If they have
a big protrusion, you cant fit your helmet over them without severe

I use a slicks helmet liner always.  I like the non-shiny light blue ones
and own two of them.  They keep my helmets from growing green fuzz inside.
When the green fuzz starts growing on my liner, I just throw it in the wash.
Ive used these liners in god-awful heat.  When its hot, its hot and
wearing the liner makes no difference to me. These things soak up the sweat.
The vents in your helmet evaporate the sweat and cool the liner a bit.   It
comes out about the same as no liner to me.

The good thing about liners for wearing ear plugs is that you put them on
your head first.  They cover your ears and earplugs while you put on the
helmet.  The sides of the helmet slip right over your ears.  You dont need
to worry about snagging an ear, losing an ear bud or a wire or anything.

These guys that put their iPods in their jackets probably have it right.
Ive often thought about doing that, but my RT system works well, so why fix
it?  Im trained to use it now.

I have a smaller flip-up Big Mac bag (one size smaller than Explorer) with
the special map case on it.  There is a pocket below the map case that will
hold a CD player or iPod.  The pocket has a little opening on the front of
the bike side of the case to route wires.   I can route a power wire to the
iPod and route the remote wire out of the side near the rider between the
double zippers.  The remote sits on top of the map case with the input for
the ear plugs pointed left.

This setup lets me see the control buttons easily and, if I get off and
forget to unplug, the position allows the plug to just pull out without
damage.   When it rains, I take the remote off the Velcro and let it dangle.
This way water doesnt collect in it.

Ive had this iPod arrangement for three busy riding seasons or more and
its never failed to provide super high quality music and lots of diversity.
Before that, I had a CD player in the Big Mac pocket.

Ive used the Big Mac bag for 3 RTs now.   Its got about 130,000 miles on
it.   I sprayed it down with hard-core, non-breathable waterproofing stuff
inside and out when I bought it and its kept things dry through several
nasty monsoons.  If you decide to do this, make sure to try the bag on the
bike and that you like it before you start spraying.  They wont take it
back if you spray stuff on it.  I originally got the Explorer bag and it was
just too big.  Cycle Gadgets cheerfully exchanged it and gave me a small
credit on the difference between bag prices.

I also ride an Aprilia Mille R with a carbon fiber Leo Vinci exhaust and a
Wolf Chip and Evoluzion air filter.   This is not a quiet bike and it has a
low sport-bike windscreen.   I dont generally take it on overnights unless
Im riding to a track event on it, but I have successfully used my iPod and
molded earplugs with this bike.  They work well, but I dont have more than
a very temporary setup for that bike. I basically get the iPod running, lock
the controls and stick it in the inside pocket of my leather or mesh jacket.
Sometimes Ill use the remote, but it just dangles because theres really no
place to fasten to my riding gear.  I have used it inside a tank bag with a
remote as well.  I like that a bit better because I can find the controls
better while riding.  This thing can be a handful!

I bought the Mille in 2000 new.  Its a twin with 4 spark plugs.  Its got
blue wheels and Ohlins suspension and other nifty treats.  Its completely
obsolete now as Aprilia has updated the bike nearly every year since I
bought mine, but it runs like a scalded dog with lots of torque and a 10,000
RPM red line.  The engine has two balance shafts to keep it running very
smooth. Its a tiny bit over 130HP with the chip and it weighs 400 lbs dry.
The idle is atrocious when its cold.  I love that.  It will poke around
town without much complaint and sounds almost Harleyesque at low revs. Its
such a grand bike I may never sell it.   It has about 12,000 miles on it.  I
put on some Cycle Cat adjustable clip-ons.  These make it slightly more
comfortable to ride in traffic.

My 05 RT has about 35,000 miles on it.  Ive had two RTs before this one
and also a Ducati ST4, which I sold.   I really like RTs for touring and for
back road blitzing in the right conditions.   They can be ridden in almost
any weather, have big alternators to support electric clothing and then
theres that excellent fairing and amazing chassis that provides loads of
fun in spite of the big plastic.  I had more fun riding RTs than I did
riding the ST4 Ducati. Who needs all that Desmo maintenance, rattly clutch
and moaning brakes and chain maintenance when the RT is better in nearly
every way?  The Duc was a sexy thing, but not as useful.  The Mille,
howeverThats super fun and really worth keeping.


On Fri, Jul 11, 2008 at 11:08 AM, Dancoe, John <jdan@xxxxxxxx> wrote:

> "Tom Brown" tbrown@xxxxxxxxxxx wrote:


>>I like to listen to iPod music when I ride


> OK, NOW we're talking about something I care about.


> How do you get decent sound over the wind noise?

I wear a full-face helmet, and sit behind a somewhat larger than stock

Givi windscreen on my 1200GS. I also wear Howard Leight standard ear

plugs. The audio in my helmet comes from the thin flat speakers of a

Chatterbox headset. The sound is not bad at all. Granted, inserting

individual earplugs with tiny speakers into my ears and then carefully

putting on my helpmet over them might produce somewhat better  sound

quality, but on balance I prefer not to do it that way. Note that I am

listening through ear plugs that are normally used to block sound, so

I have to crank up the audio, but surprisingly it works. If I were to

ride without the plugs, the sound would be better, but overall noise

and consequent hearing damage would be greater.

I manage my audio through a MixIt2 (www.mixitproducts.com). It takes

audio from my radar detector, iPod, and GPS and sends them into my

helmet speakers (after passing through a Chatterbox GMRS X-1 that can

be used as an intercom or bike-to-bike radio). One channel is a

"priority" channel that, when it gets a signal, will mute all of the

other channels. I use this for the GPS voice prompts, because I don't

want to miss one. I make routes that cover days of backroads riding

through completely unknown (be me) areas, so I really need to hear

them. The rest of the time, I get my music just fine, and have the V-1

set up to be loud enough to hear over the tunes. Works well.