Motorcycles in Music — Jeans On by David Dundas

"Serena" was Dundas' sister.

“Serena” was Dundas’ sister.

Jeans On is a mild-mannered mid-70s pop song about the simply joys of getting up, pulling on a pair of blue jeans, climbing on a motorbike, picking up your girlfriend, and spending the day tooling around the back roads.

The song, performed by David Dundas, seems as American as a pair of Levi’s or a Harley-Davidson. It’s anything but.

Lord David Paul Nicholas Dundas, born in Oxfordshire, England, originally wrote the tune as an ad for Brutus Jeans, a brand favored by mods and skinheads and other rowdy soccer fans.

To be fair, the original 1976 ad stopped with the idea of pulling on a pair of Brutus Jeans.  The parts after that (including the motorcycle and girlfriend) were all added for the 1977 single.

The song reached #3 on the UK Singles Chart and #1 in Germany, but only #17 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Chart. However, it spend a total of 13 weeks in the Billboard’s Top 40, so the song had unusual longevity, probably because of it’s easy-going groove.

Dundas was a one-hit wonder in the U.S., but he had a moderate hit in the UK with his follow-up, Another Funny Honeymoon.  Both songs were included on Dundas’ self-titled album from 1977.

The song gained a second life when it was covered by Australian country-pop singer Keith Urban for his 2002 album, Golden Road.

Lyrics for Jeans On by David Dundas and Roger Greenaway

When I wake up
In the morning light
I pull on my jeans
And I feel all right

I pull my blue jeans on
I pull my old blue jeans on
I pull my blue jeans on
I pull my old blue jeans on

It’s the weekend
And I know that you’re free
So pull on your jeans
And come on out with me

I need to have you near me
I need to feel you close to me
I need to have you near me
I need to feel you close to me

You and me, we’ll go motorbike riding
In the sun and the wind and the rain
I got money in my pocket
Got a tiger in my tank
And I’m king of the road again

I’ll meet you in the usual place
I don’t need a thing
Except your pretty face

I pull my blue jeans on
I pull my old blue jeans on

Lyrics © 1977 Kobalt Music Publishing

Ridden: 2007 Yamaha FJR1300A

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  • Model: 2007 Yamaha FJR1300A (FJR13AW)
  • Color: Black Cherry (Colorite # “Very Dark Red Metallic #2”)
  • Miles Ridden:
  • Fuel:
  • Location: Colorado—Denver west and southeast through the Rocky Mountains, down to Four Corners region, up Mesa Verde, and back to Denver.

This rental was my first experience riding Yamaha’s sport-touring motorcycle, the FJR1300A.  It was a rental during my trip to Colorado and the Four Corners area on October 5-8, 2007.

Below are my original notes from my trip, covering 1,416 miles in four days, where I managed to experience the bike in a variety of conditions: a day of very cold rain, a day of below-freezing riding, some high-elevation riding, mountain highway, open desert highway, Denver freeway, and even a little unpaved desert riding.

Prior to this trip, my only experience with a purpose-built sport-touring bike was the 2004 BMW R1150RT I had rented a few months earlier in the same area. As much as I liked the BMW, it felt heavy and bulky compared to the FJR.

I forget how much I liked the FJR until I re-read my original notes, written the week after my trip.  It took me another year or so to decide to buy one, but this is the trip where I was sold on it.

By the way, these rental motorcycles get ridden!  This 2007 model had 17,818 miles on it when I picked it up, and I added another 1,416 over four days.  They may sit for a week (or longer) between rides, but they get a lot of miles when they are ridden.

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October 15, 2007 – Rider Review: 2007 FJR1300A

After riding this bike for 1,416 miles in four days, I can say that this bike totally rocked! It wasn’t perfect, but there was a lot about it to love.

The list of things to love started with the shaft drive system. Transitions between gears had a seamless flow, resulting in uniformly smooth  performance. Coupled with a powerful engine that delivered 90 MPH as easily as 25 MPH, the heart of the FJR was nearly perfect.

Although the engine was quiet and smooth, I rarely had any problem knowing what gear I was in; occasionally I did find that I was zipping along at freeway speeds still in 4th gear.

I was also impressed by how easy the bike started compared to the cold-natured Bandit and how quietly the bike idled. My only problem was a surging that occurred when going uphill at high altitude, which I assumed was an oxygen/fuel mixture issue (and I reported it when I returned the bike).

Overall, the bike (equipped with non-stock Metzeler tires) felt very confident on every road surface. The Rockies have an interesting mix of steep grades and sharp curves. I encountered some wet roads, crossed more than a few cattle guards while riding open range land, and I even did a little light gravel riding. While I never tested the anti-lock braking system, the bike’s brakes felt solid and stopped quickly and reliably in every circumstance.

Despite the bike’s dry weight being about 50 pounds heavier than the Bandit, it still felt very nimble in the curves, and seemed to lean effortlessly.

Rider comfort was generally good. The seat itself was as comfortable as the Bandit’s, for about as many hours a day. I don’t know that any seat will be genuinely comfortable for several hours a day, several days in a row. I did feel that the seat/tank form were more crotch-friendly than the Bandit’s even though I rarely have significant complaints in that area.

I was not as pleased with the ergonomics of the downturned handlebar grips. The first couple days I had a lot of problems with my thumbs/wrists going numb. I eventually found that tucking my elbows into my sides and leaning forward a bit resolved the problem. By the end of the trip, I was no longer having much problem, but I would prefer to have the bike adopt to my posture,
rather than the other way around.

Also in the subject of ergonomics: While the FJR’s saddle height is listed as being a half-inch higher than my Bandit, I was able get more air between me and the seat when standing over the bike. I also felt it was easier to make tight U-turns on the FJR, despite it’s wheelbase being about four inches longer.

As for appearance, I don’t think I will ever be totally in love with any tourer. No matter how well-designed they are, saddle bags always add visual weight to the back end of a motorcycle. The FJR has a smaller front fairing profile than most of the other popular sport-tourers, so keeping the saddlebags in proportion becomes more of a problem. The OEM saddlebags didn’t
look too bad, but the bike looks really good without them. I think I would be tempted to leave them at home for daily commuting.

Little things can really please, or really annoy. On the plus side, the footpegs seemed to be a little longer, and the brake and shift pedals seemed to be tucked inside, giving a sense of more room to move my feet around without worrying about accidentally riding the brake or knocking the gear shift.

Another minor detail that I liked was the filter on the gas tank which reduced the splashing that occurs when the tank is nearly fully. It was still easy to see how close the tank was to being full.

The instrument panel was a mix of positive and negative. On the plus side was the digital gauge that offered ambient air temperatures, a miles-per-gallon calculation, a clock, and a couple trip-o-meters, and a gear indicator.

On the negative side was the analog speedometer. I prefer highway speed to be near the middle of the dial (as the 12 o’clock position), making it easier to have a sense of speed without having to actually focus my eyesight on the dial. This speedometer ranged along between the 7 o’clock to 2 o’clock positions, so that highway speeds seemed to be at an arbitrary position.

The motorized windscreen was a real annoyance. It seemed to work best when at its lowest and highest positions; mid-rage positions seemed to create a lot of wind buffeting. Also annoying was the way the screen retracted to the lowest position whenever I turned the engine off, which meant I had to re-set the windscreen to the desired position after every stop for gas, to take a picture, or to consult a map. (I have since found out a lot of owners disconnect the automatic-retraction wiring.)

I did find out about an intriguing feature until after my trip. The FJR’s fairings can be adjusted to direct engine heat onto the rider’s legs during cold weather. I would have enjoyed the additional heat during my unseasonably-cold weather riding.

My rental bike had a Givi topcase on the tail. It was huge, and provided all the storage I needed for several days of riding. However it looked like the over-sized add-on that it was. While I didn’t care for the look of it, I was very impressed with how easy it was to remove it at the motel, and to reattach it for the ride home. However, its sturdy construction also made it a bit heavy.

Overall, I really enjoyed this bike. It felt less bulky and more natural than the BMW R1150RT that I rented a few months earlier. The first couple days, I made mental notes about “this bike,” but somewhere along the way, I started thinking, “my bike.” If I were buying a new bike tomorrow, I would be tempted to make it an FJR1300A.

Ridden: 2009 Honda ST1300

2009 Honda ST1300

Stock photo of the stock 2009 Honda ST1300 in “Dark Candy Red”.

  • Model: 2009 Honda ST1300
  • Color: Candy Dark Red
  • Miles ridden: 1,625 (averaging 331 miles per day)
  • Fuel: 38.5 miles (average) per gallon
  • Locations: Nevada (Las Vegas north to Beatty) and California (Death Valley to Lone Pine, through Walker Pass to Lake Isabella and Bakersfield, down to Mojave, and back to Death Valley via Trona).

I rented this bike in Las Vegas for a March 2011 trip to Death Valley.

It’s hard to mention anything about the Honda ST1300 that isn’t a comparison to the Yamaha FJR 1300. The two bikes are very similar in handling and performance, and ergonomics and styling. So I’ll point out the features that caught my attention.

As far as handling, I mostly pointed the ST in the direction I wanted to go, and it took me there with a minimum of fuss. The bike had plenty of power to zoom up mountain passes far in excess of the posted speed limits. I also did about 30 miles of graded desert gravel roads (and even snowy gravel roads), and the bike handled fine, although it rattled quite a bit on the washboard desert roads. (My “rack and piñons” took more beating than the bike!)

Like my Suzuki Bandit, the ST seems to run fine at any speed in any gear. I was perpetually riding in a higher or lower gear than was optimal.  The combination of uphill and downhill grades, curves, and posted speed limits created a need to shift up and down more frequently than I normally experience.

Front view in Death Valley (2011).

Front view in Death Valley (2011).

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2011.03.25-CA.DeathValleyNP-Sunset-02

The ST handled high speeds in mid-gears without grunting and handled low speeds in high gears without bucking, and otherwise ran smooth enough that I found myself frequently looking to the tach to determine if shifting would be advisable.  Overall, I rate this as a good thing; if the bike runs smoothly in any gear, I can worry less about the bike stalling, grinding or bucking, and more about engine wear and fuel efficiency.

After one very long and high mileage day,  I was mentally worn out, but chose to come back through Death Valley via the “backdoor” through Wildrose Canyon. The road was paved once back when Death Valley was a tropical rainforest filled with dinosaurs, and most of the blacktop has been washed away, leaving motorcycle-deep potholes. The road itself is tightly twisting, only nominally two-lanes wide, with several places where there is no shoulder, just rock walls (in the canyon) or steep drop-offs (over Emigrant Pass).

I was lagging pretty badly through the hairpin turns and using a lot of rear brake because my judgment coming into the turns was running on fumes. A couple times I just about drifted into the rocky mountainside, but I mentally commanded the bike to stand up straight and stay on the road and it did. So I’d have to say the bike handled rather well!

I did notice some surging at low altitudes (that is, below sea level), similar to what I experienced on a BMW at high altitudes (in the Colorado Rockies); the bike acted like it was not getting enough fuel. Not sure if that is common for this (or any) bike in these circumstances, but the opportunity to ride at such low levels is rare enough I would not consider it a problem.

For ergonomics, I was actually somewhat more pleased with the seating than I am with the FJR. The seat is about the same height, but the bike is a little thinner through its waistline, making it easier to put both feet flat on the ground. The FJR seems to be a little chubbier in the middle, and I can’t always easily get both feet flat on the ground.

One thing I did not like is the clutch lever’s lack of adjustments. With thick winter gloves, I wanted to reduce the lever’s throw, but it wasn’t possible. (The front brake lever is adjustable, however.)

The ST is jug-eared due to integrated rear view mirrors, but this seems to reduce mirror vibration, which is a plus when you’re cruising at high speed and scoping for CHP cruising up from behind.

The bike also has integrated black rubber crashpads which should give some protection if you drop the bike at a standstill, but they also add to the bike’s odd front view.

I did like the way the hard cases appear to be integral to the bike’s overall design, and also that different locking mechanisms were used to lock them versus those used to secure the bags to the bike. (A little more solid feeling than those on the FJR, and less chance of losing one due to mounting it incorrectly.)

I do need to dock a few points for the dim digital gauges that were simply hard to read during daylight, even on their brightest setting.

Overall, I was impressed with the Honda ST1300, which always seems to come in third in the Honda/Kawasaki/Yamaha sport-touring comparisons.

You Are Here: Cheehahaw

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Geodetic Survey marker for “Cheehahaw, Alabama”.

At the top of Alabama’s highest point is a brass marker placed in 1941 by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. It notes the location as “Cheehahaw”.

If you look on any modern map of the state, you won’t find any mountain peak named “Cheehahaw”, but you will find Cheaha Mountain.

Cheaha Mountain (pronounced “chee-ah”) is located about 60 miles east of Birmingham, at the southernmost end of the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the ranges collectively called the Appalachians.

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Bunker Tower atop Cheaha Mountain in Cheaha State Park, Alabama

It rises 2,407 feet above sea level, but the view from Bunker Tower (a fortress-like stone building built in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corp) at the mountain’s peak seems much higher. The surrounding farmland and distant forested ridges are fairly low-lying. (And despite a relatively low “highest point”, Alabama’s Mt. Cheaha comes in higher than the highest point in 15 other states.)

The name Cheeha is (according to the Cheeha State Park website) derives from the Creek Indian word “chaha”, meaning “high place”.

So how did we get from “cha-ha” to “chee-ha-ha” to “chee-ah”?

European explorers and their American descendants struggled with standardized spelling in general.  Spelling for Native American words (which were generally spoken but had no written forms) varied considerably from writer to writer.

For example, the same Creek work is spelled “Chehaw” when referring to the state park near Albany, Georgia. Albany is barely above sea level, so it’s hardly a “high place”, but the Creek Indians who lived there were called “Chehaw” or “Chiha” people.

According to the Alabama State Department of Archives and History, the Alabama Indians (who lived in the center of the state that eventually bore their name) were called “Alba Amo” by the Choctaw, meaning “the thicket clearers”. The Alabamans practiced agricultural farming…without the benefit of plows or livestock to pull them. Early variations on spelling “Alabama” included almost anything that ended up sounding right.

Still, why the marker uses “Cheehahaw” to mark a place in Cheaha State Park (which was founded before the marker was placed) is still a mystery to me. If I find any more information, I’ll update this post.

Admission to Cheaha State Park is $3 (current as of 2014), and includes access to Bunker Tower. There are also hiking trails and a restaurant to visit, and cabins for rent.

Plan your trip!

Cheaha State Park at the Alabama State Parks website : alapark.com/cheaha-state-park

The “Warmest Day of the Year” – Summer 2014 Recap

US-Warmest-Day-of-the-Year-MapEarlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA is the parent agency of the National Weather Service) released a map showing when each area of the U.S. typically sees its “warmest day of the year”.

The map reflects averages of 30 years of data, from the years 1981 through 2010.

NOAA’s map show that the metro Memphis area’s hottest day of the year usually comes during August 6-10.

This is toward the end of the six-week period when we experience our hottest average daily high temperatures. From July 5 to August 18, our daily highs average 92ºF.

Averages being what they are, we occasionally see midsummer days that come in several degrees higher or lower than that average.
—In July 2012, we had 7 days that reached 100ºF. (July 5, 2012 reached 103ºF!)
—In July 2014, we had two days that had daily highs that set records for being unusually cool. On July 18, we only reached 69ºF and the following day we only reached 79ºF.

Our hottest days for summer 2014 came during August 20 – 25. Usually, this is a period when we see some break from what is typically several weeks of dry, hot weather that begins in late July.

This year, we reached 96ºF for the first time on August 20, with temperatures peaking at 100ºF on August 24.

So August 24 was our “warmest day of the year” for 2014.

Despite this, we’ve generally had a slightly cooler, somewhat rainier summer than on average. (This in a year in which much of the U.S. was deep in drought and the world as a whole was experiencing the hottest July on record.)

For meteorological summer (June 1 – August 31) we saw only of 33 days (of 92) exceed their daily average high, and only 22 days exceeded 92ºF.

June July August
June 21 – 93ºF (90ºF avg.) July 12 – 94ºF (92ºF avg) August 5 – 94ºF (92ºF avg)
June 22 – 94ºF (90ºF avg.) July 13 – 93ºF (92ºF avg) August 6 – 94ºF (92ºF avg)
July 14 – 95ºF (92ºF avg) August 10 – 93ºF (92ºF avg)
July 23 – 94ºF (92ºF avg) August 19 – 93ºF (91ºF avg)
July 26 – 93ºF (92ºF avg) August 20 – 96ºF (91ºF avg)
July 27 – 93ºF (92ºF avg) August 21 – 96ºF (91ºF avg)
August 22 – 97ºF (91ºF avg)
August 23 – 99ºF (91ºF avg)
August 24 – 100ºF (91ºF avg)
August 25 – 97ºF (91ºF avg)
August 26 – 93ºF (91ºF avg)
August 27 – 94ºF (90ºF avg)
August 28 – 95ºF (90ºF avg)
August 29 – 95ºF (90ºF avg)