Jun 17
Darkside Tire

Photo illustration by Guy Wheatley
Come with us to the Dark Side. We have cookies.

I recently joined another motorcycle-related forum. (See Link at bottom) There’s nothing unusual in that. I already belong to several. There are three forums specifically for models of motorcycles I own or have recently owned.
I host another forum for local riders and friends, and have belonged to forums for riders in increasingly large areas, like regions and states. The theme for all of these forums have been either about motorcycle riders, or riders of a specific bike.
Because all members of these forums share a common interest, there is a feeling of fraternity. Our common interest in riding or in a particular type of motorcycle gives us enough common ground to develop a sense of community. Recreational activities and brand loyalty have long been the nucleus around which groups can form.
But this most recent addition to my list of forums has a somewhat different binding force. This forum is about riding on the dark side. The dark side, in motorcycling terms, most often refers to using a car tire. Reading this forum often causes a fleeting sense of vertigo. A member will ask a question about his bike, and I automatically assume he’s on the same type of motorcycle I have. So the references to parts that my bike doesn’t have, or a part that is markedly different from the equivalent part on my bike can cause temporary disorientation. But when we get back to the main issue of car tire safety and durability, it all feels like home.
Not only are there many types of bikes represented on this forum, but myriad brands and styles of tire as well. So the binding force here is not a brand loyalty, or even general riding. It is the use of a car tire. To me that seems odd as a cohesive force.
Reading through some of the posts, I began to realize the motive force may be more external than internal. Most of us dark-siders have been repeatedly warned that we are courting instant, flaming and painful death. And there is actual prejudice out there as many have found when trying to get a car tire mounted. Very few dealerships or tire stores will knowingly mount a car tire on a motorcycle for fear of potential litigation. And most of us have repeatedly been subjected to diatribes about the danger of what we are doing.
So dark-siders come together to list places that will mount their tires, or with advice and instruction on how to do it yourself. We also share information and reviews on tires we use. And as many dark-siders my be geographically isolated, surrounded by nonbelievers, the board can be a place of moral support.
In my own case, it was a pleasure to find so many other who like me have seen the light and gone to the dark side.

- Guy Wheatley

May 18
Brandon on his VLX 600

My son Brandon sitting on his Honda Shadow at his home in Fort Worth.

You know something is not a good idea when everyone stops what they’re doing and gathers around to watch. Suddenly being the center of that much attention rarely leads to something good.
We were taking my son’s bike to the shop, and needed to get it in the back of the pickup. I was visiting him in Fort Worth at the time and didn’t have the ramps I’d normally have used if we’d been at my house. The bike in question is a Honda Shadow, VLX 600. This little bike weighs about 425 pounds.
“We’ll get this done pretty quickly,” I remember thinking. “We can just lift it one end at a time into the bed.”
My son’s drive way has an extensive slope. It seemed that if the bike was uphill, we wouldn’t have to lift it very far. I pulled the truck into the driveway and he pulled that bike up behind it. My son and I stepped around and grabbed the front of the bike with the intention of setting the front wheel up on the tailgate. But with the bike in such a severe nose down position, almost the full 425lbs was on the front wheel.
We grunted and strained for a while, almost throwing the bike over on it’s side a couple of times, and even got the wheel tantalizingly close to the tailgate. But eventually our strength gave out and the bike remained on the ground. Time for Plan B.
With the bike and pickup both on level ground, we had no trouble setting the front wheel up on the tailgate. Now, however, we had 425 pounds of motorcycle sitting on the back wheel. Now you would think that two grown men could lift 425 pounds to a height of just under 3 feet. And in truth, we could. But as we got the back tire close to the tailgate, the bike now towering over our heads would start to fall over. We couldn’t balance it from the ground. If one of us got in the truck to hold the bike up, that left the other trying to lift the bike from the ground by himself. Trembling with fatigue and anger, we finally realized that this wasn’t going to work either. Time for Plan C.
“There’s a church just up the road that has a loading dock.” my son tells me.
I take the truck and he rides the bike. Now in addition to lifting a heavy motorcycle we have to be careful of hot pipes.
I back the pickup up to the loading dock, and Brandon takes the bike to the top. I join him and we both glare at the two foot drop from the loading dock, designed for tractor trailers, to the bed of the truck. We both stand there a while, neither willing to make the first move.
“Do you think you can …” I start to ask.
“Nope!” he says before I finish. Time for Plan D.
The loading dock is built on a steep hill. I see one place beside the dock where the tailgate of my truck might actually dig into the ground as I back up to it. I get in the truck and drive off of the parking lot, between two trees, and onto the grass at the back of the church. Brandon follows me on the road at the top of the hill. I find a likely looking spot and back up to the hill. As my tailgate comes within a foot and a-half of the hill, My back tires begin to climb and the gap increases.
By now, locals are starting to watch. One supposes a pickup and motorcycle driving over the lawn of the local church is not something they see every day.
I find the optimal spot with a gap of roughly 1-1/2 feet and we try to load the bike. Our old nemesis gravity foils us again. Nose down once again, the front tire is wedged into the gap between the tailgate and the hill with 425 pounds of force. It’s so close, but grunt and strain as we may, we just can’t lift it onto the tailgate. Plan E
I survey the hill looking for a spot with more slope, hoping to find a place where I can get the tailgate close enough to the hill to just roll the bike in. There is one spot, but unfortunately there is a tree right in front of it. I’m not sure there’s enough room for my truck between the hill and the tree, but I’m going to find out.
Forward, reverse, forward, reverse, I eventually crab the truck into position with its front bumper touching the tree, and a 10-inch gap between the hill and tailgate. Fortunately, the hill wasn’t as tall here, and the bike won’t be approaching the truck at such a severe nose down attitude. But it is still going downhill. We’ll never be able to roll the bike backwards if this doesn’t work, so this is a one-shot proposition. I look at the 24-inch diameter of the front tire and try to imagine how much of it will drop into the 10-inch gap between us and success. I decide to use the engine to help us power the front tire through the gap. I debate the virtue of standing to one side, but eventually come to the conclusion I’ll have more control straddling the the machine. In other words, I decided to ride it in.
There are now cars stopped along the street with people watching. I’m sure somebody is catching cell phone video. I may well soon be the next youtube viral sensation. I ease down the slope, approaching the truck. As the front wheel nears what now appears to be a cavernous gulf between the land and the bed of my truck, I gun the engine hoping to lift the front wheel. All I do is hit the hole harder. But I manage to keep the bars straight so that the wheel doesn’t slip sideways down under the truck. It’s a hard jolt, but as the front forks recoil, I again gun the engine and the little bike pushes it’s front tire up into the bed.
I’m saved from slamming into the cab as the back tire falls into the gap bringing me to an abrupt halt. Brandon is standing on the tailgate to help me stay balanced. He steadies me, and once I’ve got the bike under control, I ease onto the throttle. The back tire climbs out of the gap and suddenly we’ve done it.
We start tying the bike down and the crowd, deprived of the anticipated entertainment, drifts away. Now we just need to haul it across town to the dealer and unload it.
“We’ll get this done pretty quickly,” I think. “We can just lift it one end at a time out of the bed.”

- Guy Wheatley

May 6
The Man Cave
icon1 Guy | icon2 Wrenching | icon4 05 6th, 2011| icon3No Comments »
Man_Cave

Wrenching, resting, and shooting the breeze. Here’s a place to do it all.

As the days get longer and warmer, summer projects near completion. Proud owners post photos and video of bikes being reassembled with various modifications. As impressive as many of the projects are, I’m often more impressed by the shops in which many of them are done. When I first began looking at some of these photos, I thought the bike owners were taking photos from a commercial shop where they were having the work done. As I’ve spent more time reading about the work done by various owners on some of the boards I belong to, I came to realize that these are private shops owned by hobbyists. I call them hobbyists to distinguish them from retired shop owners, using professional facilities for private projects.
Serious wrenchers will have a lift table. That piece of equipment alone runs from $200 for a very basic model to more than $1,000. You don’t stick a tool like that under an open carport. Usually the shop in which you find a lift table will be enclosed and probably has heat and air. It’s not unusual to see expensive welders, plasma cutters, air compressors and other expensive equipment in the background of these photos. Those items aren’t really unexpected in the shop of a serious wrencher. But often you also see refrigerators, televisions and computers in these work spaces. You are also likely to see a sink dedicated to refreshments, and comfortable chairs. Many of these places also have an enclosed bathroom.
I don’t believe any of the owners of these garages are extremely wealthy. These are not railroad barons, or oil tycoons. These are average folks with mostly middle- to upper-middle class incomes. So these work, or play, areas represent a substantial financial investment. That, in turn, says something about how the owners view these spaces. These are not areas where dad will spend a few hours per month during the summer to fix the lawn mower. These structures are both status symbols and social centers. Wrenching sessions become an opportunity to display not only technical prowess, but to show off a well-appointed and comfortable garage.
So far, these environs are inhabited mostly by men, and are referred to as “man caves” by many on the boards. But as I pointed out in a recent blog, women are not unknown here. In some circles, these areas are replacing living rooms as the primary location to entertain guests.
Just imagine Rob and Laura Petrie from the 1960s Dick Van Dyke show having neighbors Jerry and Millie Helper over. But instead of handing their guests a martini and cigarette in the living room, it’s a beer and a wrench in the garage.

- Guy Wheatley

Apr 14
XX
icon1 Guy | icon2 Small Talk, Wrenching | icon4 04 14th, 2011| icon31 Comment »
draco

Closeup photos of various parts. The mechanic is explaining what to look
for in determining damage, or explaining how to install them.

I spend a fair amount of time on the Valkyrie tech board. Any time I plan to work on my bike, I check the tech board to see if somebody else has done something similar. I’m looking for tips, tricks and warnings about potential problems. It’s also easy to wind up chasing rabbits. I’ll be scouring the board looking for something about a planned project when something interesting will catch my eye. Before I know it, I’ll have spent hours reading about something completely unrelated to my original subject.
Another thing about the tech board is the disembodied nature of the sages from whom I seek knowledge. Many of them live in different regions of the country. I know them first by their screen names and the avatar they select for their account. As time goes on, I begin to build up a nebulous image in my mind based on their postings, and the response to them by other board members. Some folks are like me, more prone to ask questions than offer opinions. Others are more likely to answer questions. A select few become the go-to people on the board. They will be the ones others address questions to. These members are quickly vetted by the accuracy of their suggestions. Blowhards are swiftly identified by the value of their advice. If somebody gives bad information, usually a more knowledgeable member will be quick to point it out. The ensuing discussion gives those of us seeking knowledge a good idea of who to listen to.
Many of the good wrenchers will post photos or video of their projects. And this is where I can wind up wasting so much time. I’m fascinated by those bold characters with the courage to tear that deeply into their Fat Ladies.
I was perusing a set of photos showing parts from the deep innards of a Valkyrie one day. This was deep enough in the machine that I hope to never see those parts of my motorcycle. The mechanic was holding parts and taking closeup photos showing various aspects of how they were mounted or what a particular sort of damage looked like. This guy obviously knew his stuff, boldly digging into the deepest recess of the injured machine.
Looking at more images, something began to catch my eye. I noticed that the slightly greasy hand holding the parts and tools had red fingernails. Honestly, my first thought was to wonder how the heck he could hit every finger bad enough to discolor them all. Of course what I was looking at was actually red fingernail polish.
My curiosity peeked, I did a little research and found that this board member going by the screen name, “Ladydraco,” was, in fact, a woman. Any other preconceived notions quickly died as I checked her other galleries and discovered her to be a very feminine woman, not at all hard on the eyes. I almost felt cheated. Where was the grizzly bearded, beer-gutted mechanical genius I had been following in my mind’s eye? Imagine, all of this technical prowess, and not a Y chromosome in sight.
I guess Ladydraco taught me about more than just motorcycles.

draco

Ladydraco, working on her Valkyrie.

- Guy Wheatley

Mar 30
Maggie

My beautiful Maggie. How could I neglect her?

With two bikes, I don’t feel the urgency to fix a minor problem on one of them that I would if I only had one. If a bike need repairs, I’ll just ride the other one for awhile until I get around to fixing the problem.
My Magna is leaking at the exhaust ports on the heads. There are crush washers between the exhaust port on the head and pipe that will have to be replaced. This is not a major operation, requiring only four new crush washers, an 8 mm socket and a little time.
Of course the “might-as-well” factor comes into play here. I’ll probably have to remove the gas tank and radiator to get to the front pipes, sooooo, while I’ve got it that far apart, I might as well replace the air filter and front two spark plugs. And while I’m replacing the front plugs, I might as well get the back ones too. It’s about time for an oil change, so might as well do that too. Now this has gone from a $12 operation to a $100-plus operation and will take a little more time.
I won’t do it after work because I have other chores to put off then. So that means a weekend. But man, the weather has been nice the last few weekends, and I do have a rideable bike sitting right there next to Maggie.
As I rolled the Valkyrie into the carport last weekend, it occurred to me that poor little Maggie has been sitting there for almost three weeks without being fired up. Sitting there with gas in the tank and that has no Sta-Bil or Sea Foam in it. Sitting there with carbs that are probably gumming up. OK, leaking exhaust port or not, it’s time for a quick ride.
I pull the cover off of her and am surprised to see that she still has a fine coat of green pollen. I blow it off then jump in the saddle. Checking the odometer, I see 64 miles on the trip gauge. I can usually hit 110 to 120 before going to reserve, so I should be OK for a quick run out to the loop.
She runs rough as I fire her up, hitting on only two cylinders for a while. As she warms up, she backfires a few times before settling down and running on all four. I back her out to the road and am appalled at how sluggish she is off the line. She also starts missing on at least one cylinder as I open the throttle. She spits and jumps for awhile, but I can hear her popping as she blows soot out the pipes. She’s cleaning herself out and running better by the second. Eventually she settles down and starts to show me what I’ve been missing. I’m surprised at the way she throws me back in the seat as I roll on the throttle.
But the exhilaration lasts for less than a mile. I’m climbing up a bridge as she starts to miss badly. I turn her around and head back for the house as she seriously threatens to die on me. I barely get turned around before she does die and we coast back down the bridge. Coming to a stop, I close the choke and try to start her up again. She hits and starts running rough, but threatens to die every time I open the throttle. I can’t get enough RPMs to start her rolling. I badly slip the clutch hoping to get rolling. Every foot I can coax her is a foot I won’t have to push her. But I don’t get far until she dies and refuses to hit again.
I sit there trying to imagine what happened to bring her down after it looked so promising. Probably some gelatinous glob of varnish coming off a fuel line into the carbs blocking a jet. But it seems like at least one carb would feed a cylinder well enough to hit every now and again. It’s like none of the cylinders is getting gas. Then it hits me. I reach down and turn the fuel valve to reserve. She turns over a couple of times, the fires right up.
I’d been pouring gas into her from a can, not filling the tank and resetting the trip odometer as I should have. I’d run out of gas.
She almost throws me off the back as I release the clutch. I can feel her attitude.
“You don’t deserve this,” she tells me as she shows me what she’s capable of. I’m ashamed of myself as she reminds me what an exciting lady she is. I’ve ignored her and taken her for granted.
I’ve ordered the crush washers, plugs and air filter. I’ll get the oil later.

- Guy Wheatley

Jan 20

FGR 2500 V6 motorcycle engine running on a test platform

A new V6 motorcycle is coming from the Czech Republic. Faster and Faster reports on the FGR Midalu 2500 motorcycle as weighing roughly 600 pounds and producing 240 hp. While the bike is not for sale yet, it seems to be past the concept stage. Youtube video shows the engine mounted to a frame, with gearbox and rear wheel attached. The Faster and Faster article has images of a completed bike, but these may be CGI or a mockup.
As with the V4 from Motus, this bike is primarily a sport bike. While I’m fascinated by the engine, I just can’t get my head around putting it in a 600- pound frame. One guy on a biking board commented that they’d need a special back tire to keep from shredding to pieces when the rider opened the throttle. With the chain used in the engine test and in the mockups, I don’t think the tire would have time to disintegrate because there would be chain links splattered all over the place.
Let’s do a little comparison here. The Bugatti Veyron also requires special tires. They can only be mounted at a special place in France and will cost you a sweet $70,000 per set. That is because the Veyron pours such punishing energy into the tires that they were purpose built to aircraft standards specifically for the Veyron. At roughly 4,477 pounds, and producing right at 1000 hp, the car has a power to weight ratio of approximately 447 bhp per ton. That horsepower is transferred to the ground by two 14.5-inch wide tires creating a contact patch 29 inches wide.
The roughly 600 -pound FGR producing 240 hp will have an insane 800 bhp per ton. Assuming a commercially available tire, it will pour that power into a contact patch that is less than 7 inches wide. I just don’t understand that much power in a light sport bike. I don’t see how physics will allow all of it to be converted into acceleration. And at top speed, you’ll probably have to take relativity and the possibility of time travel into consideration.
Maybe the test pilot can go back to the start of the project and suggest putting that monster power plant into a heavy cruiser. I know some Valkyrie riders who would take a serious look at a bike like that. We love our Valkyries and Rocket IIIs, but we don’t expect them to hang with Hayabusas. With 240 horses, they might.

- Guy Wheatley

Nov 8
Car tire on the bike.

Car tire waiting to be installed.
It will prove to be a great tire for the bike.

Short of some monumental event, this will be my last post about the dark-side car tire. I figure I’ve gotten just about all of the mileage I reasonably can out of that subject. (Pun? What pun?)
I’ve put a couple of hundred miles on it now, and I can’t imagine ever going back. There are two areas where it is less desirable than a regular motorcycle tire. The first one I’ll mention is that I do have to push a little harder through a long, sweeping turn. Oddly enough, it’s not as noticeable on sharper turns. I was warned of this before I purchased the car tire. It’s not much of a problem. As I put more miles on it, I notice it less and less.
The other weak area is when I stop the bike on an inclined surface, the bike wants to lean with the incline more. I don’t expect that to improve. I just have to be aware of it and adjust my habits. It’s inconvenient, but nothing I can’t live with.
The first few miles I put on the tire, I noticed a strange tendency for the back end to wobble in a quick S-turn. That tendency is gone. I don’t understand any mechanism that would explain why the tire would start handling differently, but it seems to have. There are those who will insist that I’ve just gotten used to it, but I don’t believe that’s the case. Even feeling for it, I can’t detect it. Some of the people on the bike forums say that “of course a new tire is stiffer and will loosen up as I ride it.” Others claim that, “there can’t be that much of a change in the physical tire.” Put me in the camp with the first group.
But with time, the things that gave me pause are diminishing. And the gain of comfort and stability on the highway more than off sets any of the deficiencies. I was prepared to experiment with pressure. I started out at 45 pounds/psi. As the tire began to handle differently I checked to see if it lost pressure. I thought that maybe a loss of pressure was the reason for the difference in handling. That is not the case. I checked this morning and it’s still at 45 pounds.
The real test was when my wife had the opportunity to ride with me and I was able to see how well it handled with us 2 up. It was an absolute dream. The ride was so much smoother than I’ve felt before on the Valkyrie, or any other of my bikes. The whole back end just feels more stable. My wife commented that to her, the bike felt more steady. The tire feels like it’s got a bite on the road, and that makes everything better. I simply don’t worry about the back end coming out from under me, which allows me to relax more while riding.
Like any change, there is a learning curve. In this case, it was worth the effort. The tire on my Magna only has a couple of thousand miles on it, but when it’s time to replace it, I will most likely go with a dark-side tire on it as well.

- Guy Wheatley

Oct 21
Car tire on the bike.

My motorcycle sitting at work with the new car tire.

The tire is on the bike, and I’m officially on the dark-side now. I rode it home last night and to work this morning. I also had to make an extra run back to my house, then back to work. That makes less than 10 miles of experience so far, so obviously the jury is a long way out. But I do want to record my first impressions. It will be interesting to come back and read them after a few thousand miles.
Leaving my friends house last night was an eye opener. I thought I was ready for the difference in the ride, but I still found myself surprised. I expected the tendency to track toward the ditch on a road with excessive crown. I have no doubt I will get used to that and eventually not even notice. I also expected to have to hold it all the way through a turn. Also something I expect to adapt to.
I didn’t expect that sharp turns would be so similar to the MC tire. More precisely, I didn’t expect the break over that comes as you turn harder. You have to push harder into a turn up to a point where it suddenly gets easier. This probably happens as the tire comes off of the flat and rolls onto the edge. What ever the reason, you have to be careful to not over steer as the bike seems to suddenly jump in the direction you are going. This will take a little more getting used to than simply pushing harder.
Once on the way home last night, it felt very much like it was fishtailing as I came through some bad pavement in a construction zone. I just figured that the tire had fallen into a groove and jumped around more than I was accustomed to. But on the way home this morning I again experienced the fishtail sensation. This time the road was fairly good. There was a bad hump that I usually go around approaching an intersection. That was were I felt the fishtail. Then I realized what was happening. Both times the fishtail happened as I made a quick jog around something. Basically a short S turn. What I’m feeling is the tire rolling off of one edge onto the flat, then up on the other edge, and finally back onto the flat. I know in my head this is not dangerous, but it intuitively feels so much like the back tire squirming, that it will take some getting used to.
I’m far from discouraged. I am in fact still very excited about the tire. But any change takes some getting used to. Stay tuned for further progress reports.

- Guy Wheatley

Oct 20
iNavigator

My first dark-side tire.

The car tire I ordered for my Valkyrie came in Last Friday. Other projects kept me from being able to put it on until Sunday evening. A friend with more experience, tools, and confidence offered to help me put it on so I hauled everything to his house Sunday night.
I was looking forward to riding it to work Monday morning and starting to get used to having a car tire on my motorcycle. I figure it’ll take two to three hours.
Sunday night:
I’ve been reading about the procedure for changing the back tire. I’m glad I have my friend’s help because I had planned to remove a bunch of stuff we don’t need to, and hadn’t planned to remove some stuff we do.
I’ve taken tires off motorcycles before, but they were either belt or chain drive. This one is a shaft drive machine and requires a little finessing. I thought we’d be finished in the time it takes us to get the tire off. Now we find we can’t break the bead with our little Harbor Freight Bead breaker. My friend says he can get to a tire machine Monday, so we call it quits for the night.
Monday night:
I show up at my friends house and find the car tire mounted on the rim. It looks great. I’m sure I’ll be riding it home this evening.
There is a procedure called the “Nut cage mod” that the guys on the bike forum all say you have to do when mounting a car tire. I’ve convinced myself I can get by without it, but now with the tire actually on the rim, I see that it will be necessary. Fortunately, my friend’s well-appointed shop includes enough spare nuts, bolts and screws that we can find what I need. At least I won’t have to wait until the next day for a trip to the hardware store to finish. We climb under the bike as it sits precariously on the motorcycle lift and take the grinder to both nut cages. This turns out to be a little more time consuming than I’d expected. What a surprise. Eventually however, we finish the mod and there is room for the wider tire.
Now we start wrestling the tire back onto the bike. That extra 35 millimeters of width may not sound like much, but it makes a big difference in getting the tire back on. We call the wives out to help steady the motorcycle on the lift while we wrestle with the tire. That too takes longer than expected, but we finally get it in place, but now we’re stuck. We had to remove the pipes all the way to the headers. Reinstalling the pipes will require new crush washers, which will only be available at the dealership Tuesday morning.
We call it a night.
Tuesday Night:
My wife asks if she needs to go tonight. She’s tired and wants to get in bed early. I assure her we’re almost done and it won’t take long. She’ll need to drive the truck back home because I’ll be on the bike.
We decide to clean the pipes before putting them back on. It will be easier to get at them while they’re off the bike. We clean them up and start mounting them back. They are aftermarket six into six pipes and were probably difficult to fit when new. Now, after years of exhaust heat, they’ve bowed some and the holes don’t line up with the mounting brackets. We eventually give up and drill one of the holes out. After hours of grunting, sweating, pounding and drilling, we’ve got all six of the nuts on both sides of the headers, both of the mounting bolts on one side and one on the other side. It’s getting late, but I can see the finish line. I just need to tighten up the headers, evenly, to pull the pipes into place and let the crush washers seal the joint. Even tightening is the key here. First, snug one nut, then another, then another until they are all snug, then go back and hit each one again, making sure the pipes are going in evenly. Repeat this several times until all nuts are sufficiently tight.
I can’t reach some of the nuts. I need a deep socket 10 mm socket. All I have is a shallow socket. I bang knuckles for a while, but eventually realize I’ll just have to wait until I can get the right socket. I call it a night.
Wednesday Morning:
As I sit here writing this, I have, at best, a vain hope of finishing tonight. All I have to do is tighten up 12 nuts and 4 bolts, already in place. How many days will it take I wonder.
Keep an eye on this space. I’ll post a notice in the happy day I ride victoriously out of my friend’s garage.

- Guy Wheatley

Oct 15
iNavigator

My iPhone as MP3-player and GPS navigator.

I’ve taken to calling my most recent GPS navigator a Nag-a-vator.
Because it is an application running on my iPhone, I don’t just turn down the volume. I need to keep the sound turned up for iTunes, and phone calls. But that means I’ve also got to listen to my navigator’s griping and complaining. It warns when you exceed the speed limit. Not that I ever do, of course, but if I did, I’m sure I’d get tired of the incessant “caution, caution, caution.”
I like to program in the destination for several reasons, even when I don’t follow directions. If I do get truly lost, it’s nice to have the destination preprogramed in to help me find the way. It’s also an easy way to keep track of the remaining miles and ETA. But often, I’ll take a smaller more scenic route rather than follow the larger and faster roads the unit is recommending. Then the contest of wills begins. I know it’s just a machine, but I think it must get angry with me because I don’t follow instructions.
“Please turn around at the first opportunity,” it insists while flashing a red, hook-shaped arrow on the screen. Eventually it will give up and accept the fact that I’m not going to turn around. But that doesn’t mean the battle is over, especially if I’m on a road that parallels the route the Nag-a-vator wants to use.
“Turn right in two miles,” it will say and I realize it’s trying to get me back to the road it wants me to use. As I bust past the turning point it again pleads with me to turn around. Eventually it will give up and I hear, “Recalculating,” in a female voice that sounds petulant to me. I’ve never actually seen it display a hand on the screen with the middle finger extended, but I think it does sometimes when I’m not looking.
It was enough of a hassle that I finally got into the settings and muted the application. I no longer have to listen to it, and I find it much easier to ignore the screen when I decide to go my own way. If I could just find that setting on some people.
A woman who was with us on a ride before I shut the Nag-a-vator up commented that men never listen to women’s directions, but were willing to pay hundreds of dollars for an electronic device that would do the same thing. Usually in a female voice. I pointed out that our electronic devices have off buttons.

- Guy Wheatley

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