Kenda Rocks!

Weather: 38°F (3°C) Rain mixed with snow.

Scarlet O’Baron waits patiently in the rain, carrying her new snow shoes.

Busy, busy, busy.

Between overtime at work, and preparations for the Winter season that seems determined to start early, I haven’t had time to keep up the blog. For that, I apologize.

One of the preparations I made was to contact my sponsors at Kenda USA and ask them for another set of their wonderful K761 tires. They worked so well on The Baron in Winter project, I wanted to use them again this year on Scarlet O’Baron.

In the message, I admitted that I wasn’t sure what value Kenda were seeing from our sponsorship arrangement, but that I was willing to continue “testing” their tires as long as they would have me. They did use Tracy Mayer’s photo of us, sliding around on Medicine Lake, in one of their ads. That should be worth something.

Failing that, I said, please tell me where I can order and purchase a set.

The reply that came back from Kenda’s North American Sales Manager was classic:

“Not sure what we are getting either, but it can’t be bad.”

A week later, the package arrived at my front door. These folks are so cool… (Thanks, John and Laura!)

Is that a sexy tread pattern, or what?

So last night, we rode down to Baron HQ, and I installed the new tires with a little help from my crew chief, Loren.

It was a good bit more difficult on Scarlet than it had been on The Red Baron, because of the large subframe assembly that had to be removed, along with the exhaust and shock absorber, before the rear wheel could be taken off. The subframe supports the caliper for the rear disc brake, and also mounts the heavy stock muffler.

Note to self: If Scarlet survives the winter in salvageable condition, you MUST replace that huge, heavy muffler with an aftermarket performance exhaust. That thing must weigh ten pounds! Of course, a new exhaust will mean a mandatory carburetor change, and while we’re at it, what about a cam? (…and so we start down the slippery slope to a money-pit, hotrod scooter.)

How `bout we concentrate on getting through the winter first?

We had both tires mounted before closing time, and we rode home in the deep blue twilight of late Autumn. The rain had stopped, but the roads were still wet enough to test traction.

Scarlet is considerably more powerful than her predecessor. She can spin the stock rear tire in a corner on wet pavement. But on the Kendas, we simply surged ahead, keeping a stable line, with none of that squirmy, uncertain feeling we had with the stock Cheng Shins.

Up to speed, I heard that old familiar “singing” of the Kenda’s aggressive tread. For some strange reason, I have always loved that sound. Maybe because it makes me think of the old jeeps we used to have in the Marine Corps, before the advent of the Hum-Vee.

Riding to work this morning, we went through a couple of construction zones, with mud everywhere. On the Cheng Shins, we would have had to tippy-toe through there. But once again, the Kendas inspired confidence, and we rode through at a relatively normal pace, with no drama at all. I really like these tires.

Miscellaneous Stuff…

The truck is going to have to get fixed this year. I’m not going to ride in really dangerous conditions like I did last Winter. It seemed to me that I pushed my luck to the limit, and it wouldn’t make sense to tempt fate a second time. The parameters I am considering are; no lower than 10°F (-12°C) and no more than 4″ of snow forecasted for the day.

Going back over last year’s blog, I realize that this will still allow me to ride almost 90% of the time, and to avoid the worst of the conditions The Red Baron and I faced last Winter. It will still make for an interesting blog, and I’ll have a much better chance to remain alive and healthy.

Next week is going to be more of the same: overtime and busy-ness. I’ll be going on another audit trip for work, but this time I will be renting a cage. Frogwing is going into Winter hibernation this weekend, so he won’t be able to make the trip. The weather out there on the prairie is too unpredictable this time of year, and there’s really no good reason to risk it.

So, when will Rush Hour Rambling return to normal? Look for some interesting posts that I have been researching to appear around the first of November. I will have some more restaurant reviews, a New Rider Profile, and the usual mix of commuting adventures on my newly-shod Scarlet.

Bear with me until then, and…

Ride well.

20 Responses to “Kenda Rocks!”

  1. Steve Williams Says:

    No need to apologize for life asserting itself. I can’t speak for others but I have only had mild withdrawl caused by your temporary absence.

    Those tires look nice. I am going to look closely at them for my next set of scooter tires, at least the rear which is a reasonable size and not that odd 11 inch front tire size.

    I love the comment from the marketing manager. It’s true though, when you can’t gather data to support decisions you have to fall back to the seat of the pants method.

    I laughed when you described your non-dangerous conditions. Maybe you should ratchet back a bit more on the snow…

  2. Bill Sommers Says:

    Gary, I should have my own blog up and running in the next couple of days. You’ve mentioned once or twice that I should post my own, and with my wife giving me a verbal poke in the ribs, I figured that I’d give it a go. I’ll hook you up as soon as I post my first entry. Hope I can be as compelling as you and Steve. You cats inspire me!
    Have fun,

  3. Seagullplayer Says:

    The tires sound great, I mean look great.
    I’m glad to hear your planning on the truck for the worst of the worst.
    I look for the midwest to really get hammered this winter. Hope I’m wrong.
    Looking forward to those food reviews!

    Rubber Down.

  4. Lucky from Canada Says:

    We’ve been lucky so far in my neck ‘o the woods: no snow yet, but we have gotten a bit of freezing rain… Truth be told, I’d probably prefer snow! While on a trip to the Magdalen Islands last summer I met one of the locals who was also a fellow V-Strommer; we’re very few, so when I happen upon one during my travels it’s an event in itself. He rides year-round too, except he’s taken an interesting route to do it: studded tires. Now I’m not talking the mega studs you find on ice-racing bikes; he bought a set of knobbies (Metzeler Karoos, I believe) and bought a “stud-gun” designed for car tires and voilà: street-legal motorcycle winter tires! Don’t remember the specifics as his bike wasn’t shod with them at the time, but I do remember him mentioning something like +200 studs in the rear tire!


  5. Dancing Bob Says:

    I’m vaguely jealous of your tires … and went to the Kenda website only to discover that they don’t come in the sizes I’d need for my Burgman 400 … ah, well. We don’t get much snow down here in Dallas (though it has happened a few times in the 5 years I’ve been down here).

    Still … I plan to ride in all but the usual January ice storm, and may even decide I have time for a simple ride blog too … but I’m not one to spend time writing on computers … I prefer pen and paper … and poetry (the best of which makes it to my current blog).

    I’m looking forward to reading of your Winter adventures again this year.

    Love, light, & laughter … Dancing Bob

  6. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Steve: I’m going to try those parameters first, and see what happens. When they forecast 2-4 inches, the plows usually deal with it in short order, so essentially I will be riding on salty wet pavement. I plan to avoid freezing rain as much as possible too.

    Bill: I’m looking forward to checking out your blog.

    SGP: I hope you’re wrong too! The Windsock and Crystal Ball Guild predicts an El Nino, or La Nina, or whatever, for this year. That means mild conditions, but probably more freezing rain. Who knows…?

    Canada Lucky: Yeah, we’ve been through all that stud and ice-screw talk last year. I’ve decided that, if the Kendas can’t handle it, then I shouldn’t be riding.

    D-Bob: What sizes does the Burgman take? If it’s 11 inch, I can’t help you. But 10, 12, 13, and 16″ sizes are available. The 16-inchers are listed on the motorcycle site.

    I hope you start a riding blog too. Then I can add you and Bill to my blogroll.

    Ride well,

  7. Dancing Bob Says:

    Suzuki went to a 14″ front tire (120/80-14), with a 13″ rear (150/70-13) on the 2007 model I have. I could probably use the 140/60-13 on the rear (though it’s a bit small), but I’m leary of mis-matched sets, and saw nothing in the 14″ size for the front.

    No worries, though … I have an old Ford Taurus for when the snow flies (if it does).

    Speaking of cold, though, it was 48 degrees here this morning … which for Dallas in October is rather on the chilly side. Time to install my grip heaters!

    Love, light, & laughter … Dancing Bob

  8. The Snark Says:

    *Looks at the sun in the sky, and reaches for the suntan lotion*

    Ride safe and ride well brother. Will be following your winter wonderland escapades with interest, and showing the blog to the local riders. If only to show them how a “real man” deals with riding in adverse conditions. Some riders over here turn into wimps at the first sign of rain.

  9. Eric Says:

    Hey Gary, those tires really do look good! I remember way back when I rode the xl250, I used a set of Kenda’s dual-sport tires for a couple seasons, and they served me well. Like the others, I’m also looking forward to your escapades this winter, and wishing you a safe season.

    I’ll be heading to Singapore in one week, for three weeks of work. I might try to rent a scooter while I’m there and update the blog if I’m able. Should be interesting… or dangerous. Maybe both. Then again, once I get a first-hand look at the local traffic, I might just wimp out. We shall see…



  10. Gary Charpentier Says:

    D-Bob: Yeah, that’s what I suspected. I’ll bet that we are going to see a whole bunch of different sizes of wheels come out as the touring scooter continues to evolve.

    Snark: *Grunts in agreement* (Real Menâ„¢ do that a lot.)

    Eric: Oh man, you have GOT to rent a scooter while you’re there! If you don’t, you’ll be kicking yourself when you get back. Besides, everything I’ve read and heard about Singapore gives the impression of a more orderly Asian state. You can get caned (flogged with some kind of bamboo whip) for committing a misdemeanor, or so I’m told.

    If they’re that militant about their civil laws, you would assume their traffic would be less chaotic than elsewhere in Asia.

    How `bout it, Snark? Have you ever ridden in Singapore?

    Of course, if you do rent a scoot, you have GOT to blog about it, and take photos too. Motorbikes and girls, preferrably.

    So, there’s your briefing. Carry on, and…

    Ride well,

  11. The Snark Says:

    Gary, give Eric my e-mail address. I’m on leave all next week, and part of the week after that. Might be a chance we can hook up. Caning is handed out for some crimes. Like rape. Death is guaranteed for drug trafficking. Not that much different for drug use either.

    Yes, I have ridden in Singapore. Nice roads. Well behaved traffic. Cops with no sense of humour. Idiotic speed limits. Singapore is no fun for high powered motorcycles.

    But a scoot will do just fine :)

  12. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Done deal, Snark. I really hope you guys can meet up. I only wish I could come along.

    That caning thing… Seems to me that some spoiled American brat was caught doing some kind of graffiti or vandalism a few years ago, and there was this huge uproar in the media because the judge sentenced him to caning.

    It was only then that I understood what the Brit bike mags were talking about when they said they were “caning the engine” on a test bike. Come to think of it, I seem to recall seeing the same phrase over in your blog recently.

    Man, I’m sitting here, playing a movie inside my head of you and Eric in a Rent-a-scooter Gran Prix through the streets of Singapore. I am so freakin’ jealous! Have fun, and…

    Ride well,

  13. Mad Says:

    It seems like only yesterday that I discovered your blog Gary and read about you winter preparations with interest but here we are facing another chilly season. I think your safety decisions are very sensible and I wish you a safe and fun riding winter :D

  14. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Thanks Mad. What’s been going on with you? Haven’t heard from you in ages!

    Did you notice that Nicky Hayden actually won the Moto-GP championship? Who’d a thunkit?

    Is this the same kid who got smacked upside the head by his crewchief for horsing around on a pitbike in the Brainerd paddock? Why, yes it is! I was there, and saw it with my own eyes. Heck, I was so close, I almost smacked him myself. But this was what… 1997?

    What a difference a decade makes…

    Ride well,

  15. Mad Says:

    Yep I saw the final race of the season and as sad as it made me feel to watch Rossi slide off I was very pleased for Nicky Hayden; he’s been a model of speed and consistency for most of the season.

    So you knew the Kentucky kid as a er kid eh? He seems like a nice guy.

    I’m good, just got my little bandit back on the road for the winter season.

  16. Mantis Says:

    Gary my Strada came with the same Kenda’s you use and I really like them. I will now be entering my second winter riding season as well. If you haven’t already seen these tires you might be interested:

  17. Mike Lynch Says:

    I want to purchase a set of Kenda K761’s in the 130/70-12 size. The challange is finding them ANYWHERE that will / can take an order for them in Florida, perhaps the USA. Have you tried calling Kenda’s Corporate Office lately? Their telephone system must utilize two very UP-SCALE Tin Cans. It’s awful and there is no way to leave a message. For such a nice Tire, not being able to purchase them or speak to the Manufacturer really is a bummer.

    Best regards,

    Mike Lynch

  18. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Mike: I will forward your concerns to my contacts at Kenda. I can’t see any reason why you won’t get your tires soon. Sorry about the problems you are having.

    Ride well,

  19. MJ Says:


    Nice blog. I enjoy reading about Scarlet O’Baron. I live in St Louis and use my 2006 Vespa LX 150 as my primary form of transportation. If I am not riding my scooter to work I take the bus. I do not have a car as back up.

    My scooter, the Yoda Scoot, currently has 17 thousand miles on his body. 17 thousand miles and the force is still with him;.

    Do you think a Kenda tire would work on my scooter?


    Keep scootin’!


  20. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Thanks MJ. What size are the wheels on your LX? You can go to the Kenda link in the sponsor section and probably find what you need there.

    How are the winters in St. Louis?

    Ride well,