A2 Motorcycle License Holders Should Consider The Benelli TRK502

As a motorcycle tour operator, I’d like to think that our marketing material makes it clear what we do, nevertheless, over the years I’ve operated I’ve had many unusual requests. Although loosely related to motorcycle touring, the common thread of these non-standard requests is, they are invariably from people who don’t have a motorcycle license; something that should be a foregone conclusion as being a prerequisite for participating in a motorcycle tour.

An example of these requests was “Granny will be 90 on her birthday and she has never been on a motorcycle but we want to make it a special day for her, so, can you take her pillion on a tour”. Declining any business is always a difficult decision although we try to do so in a polite manner and make some sensible suggestions for an alternative gift.

Although it is rare we have had requests from riders who hold an A2 license. We have to advise these riders to bring their own bike. However, the practicalities of this can be too great a challenge for the inexperienced rider as they might need to ride a thousand miles just to reach the tour start and perhaps another thousand miles home at the end. Naturally we would rather not put a rider at potential risk asking them to side so far especially with a deadline to meet but few can afford or justify several weeks off for a biking holiday and so attempt to cover high mileages each day between home and tour location arriving invariably exhausted before the real trip has even begun.

I had recent spate of unfortunate incidents that began whilst travelling to Fort Augustus to research a tour when I incurred a rear puncture. Roadside attempts at a repair had proven ineffective and so I called the RAC who collected the bike and took it to Inverness where a new tyre was fitted. The following day when returning to Ft Augustus from the Isle of Skye my gear change leaver snapped off! I can only speculate that when strapped into the van on its journey to Inverness that a strap must have been placing pressure on the leaver and perhaps weakened it. Anyway, a bit of road side emergency repair with some gaffer tape (always carry some!) soon got the gear changer working again enough to complete the research trip and get back to Glasgow.

On my return, I ordered a new changer through a local family run Benelli, Kawasaki, Royal Enfield and Sym dealership albeit my ride is a Triumph but I use them because they also service, maintain and MOT all brands of motorcycle. A few days later they advised that the part was in stock and when I arrived they offered to fit it for me. Whilst in the shop I was drawn to the Benelli TRK502 an adventure bike specifically targeted towards the A2 license holder and daily commuters. Brand new out the box it can be on the road for just £5,699 which seems excellent value for the money. They suggested I take it for a test ride whilst my repair was being undertaken.

I am well accustomed to hopping on and off different bikes but with my short legs, 29″, many adventure bikes are a stretch for me. I often have to slide part way off the saddle just to reach the ground but the Benelli with a saddle height at 815mm was a comfortable reach for me. I’m sure this would prove reassuring to new riders even those with longer legs.

I felt immediately at ease with the bike. The saddle is very comfortable and the upright riding position is very relaxed. The windshield is effective although depending on your height it may benefit an additional deflector to divert air over the helmet. Although the bike with a full tank of fuel is quoted about 250kg it didn’t feel so heavy to me, it’s very well balanced with the weight lying low in the frame, so, I wonder if those quoted weights include the full luggage set because the bike I was riding had a full Givi pannier rack with only the top box on that day. Note that the Givi rear and side racks, screen winglets, crash bars and USB accessory power point all come as standard equipment.

For the technical minded the Benelli TRK 502 is chain driven twin cylinder with a displacement of 499.6cc and 6 speed gearbox. Remember that this bike is addressing the A2 market and so the maximum power is 47BHP (35 kW) at 8500 rpm and the torque is of 45 Nm (4.6 kgm) at 4500 rpm. There are twin disks front and a single at the rear. The front wheel is 110/80 R19 and the rear 150/70 R17.

I have to say that my first impressing was that the engine was rather lacklustre but I’ll try not to be critical of that because it only produces about a third of what I’m used to and apart from riding a Suzuki Bandit that had been mapped to 47BHP I’ve got little experience of riding bikes with that low output. I’m sure if this is all you are licensed to ride you will find it not only comparable with others A2 restricted engines but also preferable. I’d certainly far prefer to ride the Benelli than that restricted Suzuki. The TRK502 pulls well in all gears with smooth progression throughout the rev range. The brakes felt a little spongy at first but I soon adjusted to their feel by applying a bit more pressure. This is not a bad thing for inexperienced riders who might otherwise lockup a disk by braking too harshly. Although another pint of note is that being Euro4 rated it also has ABS as standard.

If Benelli made the TRK with a bigger engine I’d consider one because I think it would be a contender for the BMW F700/F800GS, Kawasaki Versys 650, Suzuki VStrom 650, Triumph Tiger 800, Yamaha Tracer 700, etc. I can also foresee it being utilised abroad for fleet hire touring due to its ease of handling, luggage capacity and economy. The Benelli TRK502 should not only be considered by younger riders with restricted licenses, it will also appeal to those who have a full license but uninterested in high speeds or want to keep the points off their licence as well as those who want a comfortable economic very well handling commuter because the Benelli TRK502 ticks all the boxes.

PBS Reports On Student Loans – A Leftist Slant Of Reality

As a conservative or right-leaning gentleman, I can sniff out leftist propaganda quite easily, and mind you, that’s not so hard, considering it is virtually everywhere in our society and has infiltrated our corporations, government and even our own families. Yes, everyone has their point-of-view (POV) on politics and that is perfectly acceptable – except for one thing, on the left it really isn’t someone’s actual POV, rather it is one of a brainwashed mindset from repetition, false argument and propaganda. Let’s take this growing and out-of-control college student loan crisis we are in today.

Did you know that nearly 50% of all student loans are in default or not a single payment has ever been made, with a huge chunk of the outstanding $1.35 Trillion — yes, that’s correct with a “T” — hasn’t shown a payment in over 7-years? We are told, or were told by the Obama Administration that employment is at an all-time-high, now at just over 4%, well then how come no one is paying on their student loans, not even small payments to stay at least in the game?

Now then, there is a YouTube video: “PBS Looks Into The Student Loan Problem,” on the Credit Care Channel, which goes on and on about how Sally Mae collection personnel are misadvising debtors to pay their loans before their rent, health care insurance or house payments, and how borrowers didn’t understand that it was a bad idea to do that. The 25+ minute video makes the student loan borrowers look like victims? What? They are not the victims, we the taxpayers are in many cases, as we are guaranteeing those loans, no not all, but a portion of them.

One estimate was that the taxpayers are on the hook for about $108 Billion of the already in default student loans, ouch. What do I think of this? Well, I think PBS, yes, also partly funded by the taxpayer is making things worse, and their documentaries on this topic are a very leftist view point, following the likes of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders who basically told voters that if they voted them into office there would be forgiven student loans and free-college for everyone.

But, why does PBS make these borrows out as victims, they are not, they owe the money, the taxpayer should NOT bailout this abuse of our system by students, leftists in politics and students. Academia is to blame too, those know-it-alls claiming they care about the kids, BS they care about their pensions, tenure and leftist politics.

If these colleges would teach “Financial Literacy” along with other requirements to get a degree, maybe their students wouldn’t be such deadbeat consumers. Instead academia teaches leftist socialism, brainwashing students. Maybe, it’s okay if the college loan crisis debt bomb bubble pops, NO taxpayer bailouts… We have an academic university system out-of-control partly funded by taxpayers, as the tenured professors act high-and-mighty, but hide out in academia, never having had to make payroll or deal in the free-market.

If you don’t have a problem with those who’ve allowed this student loan debt bomb to lead to a crisis of epic proportions while the bubble is still building – then you are NOT paying attention. Think on this.

The Best Electric Scooters and Hoverboards – Is the World Finally Ready to Accept Them?

2018 it is deemed to be a lucky year for technology and for hoverboards in particular. After the boom in the past year, the popularity of this electric scooter is destined to grow more and more and to thrill adults and children.

Hoverboards can be considered both an entertainment device and a powerful way to move around the city.

In any case, model after model, the quality of the materials and the level of technology are progressing to being more advanced and with functionality always on the increase. Let’s see in detail the most relevant features of the electric scooter.

How and where you can ride an Hoverboard scooter?

Although it is seen more and more frequently, the electric scooter is not recognized today in the Highway Code and this will mean that it can only be used in private or urban contexts, as in shopping centers or inside of parks.

In any case, it is important to buy electric hoverboards that ensure the necessary safety for the user who uses it.

As happens now on any electronic instrument, even the electric scooter undergoes not a few imitations (especially of Chinese mold) and this can lead to the purchase of an instrument that presents a price of lower levels, but that could also go to the expense of safety and quality of manufacture.

Therefore, regardless of where a hoverboard is used, it is important that this is an approved instrument, that is, the UL2272 certification valid for Europe and the United States.

Even if you prefer to buy a used scooter, always check that it is approved and that it is not of Chinese brands.

But how do you use a hoverboard? Simple, it’s all about balance! Just lean forward to proceed and retract backwards to stop the instrument.

To be able to maneuver instead, just move the weight on the right foot or on the left depending on the desired direction.

This is possible thanks to the weight sensors positioned below the footrest. In case of difficulty then, on the web there are numerous videos and tutorials that can be very helpful.

Although the electric scooter is very popular with children, it is recommended for users aged 12 and over and under adult supervision.

How a mono electric skate is structured.

The description of a hoverboard focuses on two fundamental aspects: structure and technology. The scooter is composed of a central platform, on which to rest the feet, and two parallel wheels that can be of different sizes depending on the model.

It is important that the materials of the structure and of the parallel wheels are of good quality: the platform, for example, must have a suitable anti-slip coating and the body must be strong enough to withstand knocks and wear.

Some models of electric scooter have bigger wheels, so they can also be used on non-smooth roads and thus guarantee greater stability.

Regardless of the materials used for the construction, however, a single skid must also be light enough to be able to transport it without particular effort.

Generally the weight of electric hoverboards is around 10/12 Kg and has a speed that is around 10-20 Km per hour.

In addition to materials, other relevant aspects are batteries and engines. Generally an electric scooter consists of about 20 batteries, which are recharged in varying times (from an hour and a half to 3 hours) and that give an autonomy of 10/20 Km.

Even the autonomy can vary depending on the type of road you travel and the user’s weight. In fact, the maximum weight that an electric scooter can bear is for some 100 Kg, for another 120 Kg.

As for the engine, there are basically two that guarantee from 500W to 1000W of power. Of course, a scooter with 1000W engine is presented as a more professional tool and with a higher speed, less indicated then for do-it-yourself use.

Further features of the best electric scooter.

The technology is always evolving and the electric scooters, in addition to being a good invention in itself, are always enriched with new features.

For example, there are models that have some nice LED lights integrated, which intervene to illuminate the road in the evening but also to give a striking appearance to the walk.

Other additional elements can be the Bluetooth function, the speaker for listening to music and a comfortable backpack to make the transport lighter.

FSLABS Adds Malware to Their DLC, Asserting That It’s “DRM”

Flight Sim Labs is a company that makes very nice looking aircraft and sells them as Downloadable Content (DLC) for Microsoft Flight Simulator X. Selling DLC for flight simulators is big business, and in the case of Flight Sim Labs, having a reputation means being able to charge a premium. Some of their DLC is over $100 dollars which for regular gamers sounds a lot just for a plane, but to Flight Sim enthusiasts is around the price they would expect.

Piracy is of course a big problem for game developers and game publishers, with a large number of people out there showing little interest in ever purchasing games, or their DLC. The Flight Simulator market is no different, but a compounding factor is that often the developers making DLC for flight simulators are smaller studios who feel the hurt of piracy even more. So it is understandable that companies would wish to take steps in order to make piracy harder.

There have been numerous studies done into piracy in the music industry showing that as far as piracy is concerned those who pirated the most content also purchased the most content as well, suggesting that pirates may actually be using music sharing as a discovery device to help them discover bands they wish to support. While there are fewer studies into video game related piracy, Valve’s success with their online digital game delivery platform (known as Steam), has suggested both industries are similar. Steam executives have often stated that they built their business by turning people who formerly pirated games into paying customers by offering a better service than the pirates.

Of course there are a lot of companies that never figured out the secret sauce like Valve did. Such companies try to solve the problem of piracy in ways that aren’t so pro-consumer. One tool that companies love to turn to is Digital Rights Management (DRM), which is software and/or encodings that are supposed to prevent copying. How well DRM actually works is debatable, with it usually only acting as a minor inconvenience. Games such as The Witcher 3 have been wildly successful bestsellers despite not having DRM at all, while games like Sim City built from the ground up to be as tough to pirate as possible by no means guarantee the publisher commercial success. Indeed in the case of Sim City, it was such a commercial failure that when their next game also underperformed the developers were shut down.

So it seems a little strange that developers would go out of their way to hurt paying customers in order to go after customers who pirate, but they do. And in the case of Flight Sim Labs, they really took that sentiment to the extreme by bundling Malware into their DLC and then when caught used the very flimsy defence that their Malware was actually DRM. In the words of Fidus Information Security.

What on earth were they thinking?!

When Fidus analysed the Malware they found that it was indeed only going to activate in the case of a pirated Serial number, but also found that the data wasn’t very secure while it was being sent, nor very secure at its destination. Fidus also questioned why the developer would need people’s chrome usernames and passwords and raised the legal and ethical considerations.

There were a lot of people on Reddit’s Flight Sims Subreddit who made their distaste for the developer’s actions clear, but also a lot of people on Flight Sim Labs’ forum who also maintained that they would continue to support the developer despite the breach of trust.

Clearly it’s a delicate issue, but ultimately the impact of the decision to put malware in DLC is one that will play itself out in the coming months. The only people who have the power to change things might very well be the consumers, and if consumers don’t then is this a dangerous precedent to set?

The Roller Coaster of Emotional Abuse

August 2014, probably one of the longest months of my life. The days felt like decades and almost seems like another lifetime ago, it was definitely another life ago. It was a month of enduring a nonstop decrepit emotional roller coaster ride. Like an old wooden coaster, it was a jerky ride that without warning slammed to a halt in the middle of a decent or loop. It was one that jarred your neck and body leaving you with residual aches, headaches, and pain. The intensity left you feeling petrified as you waited upside down in suspense, praying you didn’t fall out of the cart. As the cart slammed on the brakes, your body plunges forward, only to be slammed back into the hard, plastic seat, a myriad of thoughts and emotions flash through your mind. Every emotion, nuance, image, memory, thought lingered an eternity, yet, in reality, the journey through the mind is only a split millisecond. This is how I describe the unconscious awareness that divorce was inevitable, and this was a ride that I would continue to pass by the exit over and over again until I consciously found the strength and clarity and take hold of the brake next to me. How did I not realize I was in control all along?

Yet, the roller coaster accelerated for me, I pushed the gas and lamented that I was an unwitting and unwilling passenger. After all, I boarded this now failing amusement ride 25 years ago. At that time it was bright and shiny and I was in love with the ride. It was filled with thrills and appeared to constantly be headed in a new direction, however like a roller coaster it just goes in a big circle. My life with my ex-husband was that way, it was intoxicating, reaching the highest highs and then the lowest of the lows(the lows were subterranean).

That month my ex slept away from our home many nights, after provoking a fight. He would show in the morning, claiming exhaustion from sleeping in his car or at one of his guy friends. Even I didn’t believe that. He would blame me for not listening, not understanding, not being in tune with his feelings. I wish I would have looked more closely at the passenger next to me – not being in tune with his feelings(!?) – and see the passenger next to me was another woman. However, I refused to acknowledge my peripheral vision, this was the only ride I had ever set foot on in the park. Instead, I steadily focused my attention forward, certain I was making progress, refusing to see all the passengers, especially, the one next to me, boarding and de-boarding.

Whether you realize it or not, you get to know the passengers, their habits, their smells and their intentions. They all play their part. What’s the expression, people come into your life for a reason? Well, it’s true, even the ones who turn your stomach are there to teach us. Everyone who boards your cart leaves trash or baggage and valuable life lessons. There was one nauseating fellow who navigated in and out of my cart. Everyone loved this seemingly harmless guy… a big teddy bear with the dutiful understanding wife who busily swept the steps of the cart. To continue with the metaphor, he sat next to me and my partner offered to protect me from the perils of the ride. I didn’t know whether to be more terrified by the slow turn of decent or the passenger creeping closer, and his hand on my knee. In a blink, at one restaurant dinner, a “friend” made an overt pass. I was paralyzed as his wife conversed inane stories. Suddenly, the ride took a turn and normalized, in an instant, I was transported into my twisted new normal reality. My known passenger of 25 years returned from his urgent 9 pm phone call (no he’s not a doctor) distracted and anxious to pay the bill. Shaken by my experience I sought safety and refuge and shared my stranger danger story on our ride home. Guess what? He didn’t care. He didn’t care that his close friend was really a shadowy fair ground miscreant, didn’t care at all because he was already off the ride and disappearing into the shadows himself. He was riding the brand new model, while I clung to the faded wooden and rickety tracks that provided warped comfort.

There were many other mini stops and starts that left my head and heart hurting, but the jarring fact that my for better or worse partner had parachuted off the ride and left me in the hands, literally, of a sewer rat filled me with an inconsolable ache as the track in front of me disintegrated. The fact that was I shrank and could have cared less who was seated next to me. Finally, as we derailed it propelled me to at least recognize that the controls were literally in my hands. As instantly as I understood the ride was falling apart piece by piece, I also understood that I had the power to get off the ride at any time. It was liberating to see who was boarding. At times, tunnel vision returned, fear consumed me and I prayed for someone to save me or for the ride to repair and for the same sick, but comfortable loop to re-establish. The strange part about my tunnel vision was that not even at the points of loathsome fear was I looking for my ex to sit next to me. I was frantically scanning, searching for the exit. Although, I purchased my ticket years ago, and I still screamed with faux delight, true fear and red-hot anger burned inside me as we looped our way up and down, yet my voice still lacked strength, commitment and an unwillingness to change direction. August continued to plod on. Sometimes, I watched the ride in slow motion. Yet, the experience of the degenerate fair groupies lingered and faintly illuminated my path. Slowly I turned my head and looked around, it was shocking to see this former masterpiece that once represented such promise was rotten and fractured beyond repair. As I looked closer the fair rats scurried in and out of the shadows.

Methodically, I grabbed the brake and began to apply pressure. I knew I couldn’t handle another abrupt, uncontrolled stop, however, I finally realized I could control the speed at which I would make my inevitable departure. I called the one person who refused to ride the rides, the one person who patrolled the park, the person who the rats feared, my father. Patiently and without interference he waited for my ah ha moment. He witnessed, with sadness, but without interference, the decline of the wooden roller coaster. He cringed and watched as it(as I) fell deeper and deeper into despair and when finally at the end of August I said, “I’m scared, but I’m ready, show me the way”, he held my hand as I pulled the brake and stepped off the ride.

What a strange feeling to be on solid ground. Unwaveringly, he continued to hold my hand, saying phrases of empowerment, “you can eat an elephant, but you have to do it one bite at a time,” “know your enemy”, keep a cool head”, and “be strategically and tactically prepared.” He didn’t save me, he empowered me. With shaky legs, I firmly stepped and changed my course, leaving behind the depraved world in which I had become enamored. At the risk of another fair metaphor, it was like the House of Mirrors, the truth was hidden in illusion. My path was lit and with shaky determination the world in which families no longer boarded together, single passenger lines divided couples, the constant of the ever-changing passenger and drifters insidiously building and rebuilding our roller coaster was being left behind. It was being discarded.

As I linger in August of 2017, I realize that August 2014 was a month of not sudden abrasive stops, but a month of spontaneous beginnings. The universe kept sending me stronger and stronger messages until I was no longer able to restart the ride. My journey across the garbage-filled park, navigating the paper stained map, has been arduous. Sometimes I wandered aimlessly or marched confidently in the direction of a new thrill ride, but ultimately a quiet determination took hold and one foot in front of the other, I found the exit. Finally, after three years, August to August, I am exiting the fairgrounds. I empty my pockets of the crumpled tickets, broken promises, and stale popcorn. The worn out and tired fair groupies are not worth a mention. So, without further belaboring the first day of a different life, farewell Tucson, farewell old life, farewell, and good riddance!