All posts by sillycar

Capital Region Mobile Small Engine Service

It’s rare that I review a business that started out as a client of mine because I don’t want to feel like I’m showing any favoritism, but Joe Carey owner/operator of Capital Region Mobile Small Engine Service has become my goto guy for anything related to my small engine equipment.

So, it’s a long name, but it tells you everything about the business. You might think the best thing about this type of service is that they come to you and repair your equipment right at your house or business, but that as it turns out is really just the icing on the cake!

I first discovered Joe Carey through my dad who used him for his small engine servicing. I ended up doing a couple of small design jobs for Joe’s business through SillyCar Design and then started hiring him for my small engine equipment services. The best part about this business is Joe himself. He is reliable, he is the one always doing the work and the icing on the cake, he comes to you! Joe shows up looking like a true professional in his Capital Region Mobile Small Engine Service “uniform” as I like to call it, and his mobile shop is immaculate and ready to handle most jobs without a second visit.

I used to have to pay a shop to come and pick up my tractor for servicing, now my bill from Joe is sometimes less than the travel fee from the other shops! Another great bonus. Joe knows small engines super well. I have included a couple of photos and a video of my snowblower in action since that is the most recent job I’ve had done. I had broken my pull cord off and the snowblower was squeaky and just needed a good tune up. Joe had it running like new in less than an hour. No squeaking and smooth as butter! I’m now looking forward to an easy winter. And as my snowblower is smaller than what I really should have for my driveway, this wet, heavy snow that I’m cleaning in the photos and video was a great test of Joe’s work and the snowblower performed beautifully! It’s 13 years old or so and I expect to have it for a long time to come. Oh, and the price for the work was fantastic!

 

I have recommended Joe to several people and every one of them has thanked me for recommending him. That’s the true compliment and should tell you what type of business Capital Region Mobile Small Engine Service is. I don’t like to recommend any business unless I’ve used them and have been extremely happy with them myself first.

So, if you’re looking for a good business for your small engine servicing and repair needs, look no further!

 

Snowblower photos and video by Grace Glastetter.

The Snowcaster Shovel

So, I broke my old pusher style snow shovel and wanted to replace it with something better, but all the pusher style shovels in the stores either were very flimsy or had a metal edge on the bottom and I wanted to be able to use the shovel on my back deck and my large pool deck as well as on the driveway.

After much research on the internet and in stores, I decided to give the Snowcaster shovel a try based on a balance of bang for the buck and the fact that you can just buy parts for it, so for example if the handle breaks, you can just buy a new handle etc.

The Snowcaster comes in many widths and offers models with and without wheels for commercial applications. I got the 30 inch model with no wheels because I wanted it wide but not too wide to do my shoveling on the decks and other not so wide sections that I shovel.

Now, things I like about this shovel are that the blade is made out of smooth durable plastic that won’t scratch your decks all up. It was very easy to assemble and is very sturdy and well engineered. The way the handle hooks on to the blade is very well done, and you can buy just the triangle bracket if something does happen and it breaks. I don’t see this thing breaking under normal use. It feels super sturdy. It clears a nice wide path and makes quick work of my big driveway too.

Now, don’t get one of these thinking you’re going to clear away really deep snow. That’s not what this is for. I have a snowblower and a scoop type snow shovel for that. This is for up to 4 inches of very light snow or up to 2 inches of wet snow (in my opinion). That being said, sometimes I find it easier and faster overall to go out twice with this thing twice rather than wait for all the snow to fall and try to get it with the snowblower and scoop shovel.

For the types of snow it’s intended for, this thing works AWESOME! You can clear a very large area very quickly and it works great on wooden decks and Trex composite decks. It’s actually fun to use! The only question I have will be durability of the blade which will tell over time.

Update: December 2017. I’m in to my second season with this shovel and the blade has a couple of minor dings on it, but otherwise it’s still in great shape and works awesome still. I will add more updates as the years go on. I’m sure this shovel will be with me a long time…..

If you’d like to get one for yourself, just go to thesnowcaster.com and check them out. Though I hate to add this, you can buy these much cheaper on eBay because they charge a ton to ship direct from the website and you can usually find a seller with free shipping on eBay. I’m not sure why this is, but I wish they had competitive pricing on their own site so that I could buy direct from them. If you do buy on eBay, just make sure it has the Snowcaster logo on the blade and handle to know that you’re getting the real thing, and ask questions first to make sure the seller is legit too!

BWP – Beer, Wine Pizza

So we wanted to try the new Red Robin in Saratoga because they are known for having a dedicated allergen free fryer for french fries which gives us something we can order for our son who has severe food allergies, but we were a day early. It didn’t open until the next day…. What to do? Well my dad said the BWP was good, so we decided to give it a try.
bwp-logo

Well, the waitress was very nice and she took our order very quickly and was attentive during our time there making sure we had enough drinks etc. We asked her to heat up our son’s food (which we brought with us) after she answered some questions about his food allergies and she said no problem. However, it took a really long time and they put his food in one of their bowls which may not be a huge deal depending on how clean it was. The container we supplied was microwave ready, so I’m not sure why they did that…. Especially since they explained that they are not an allergen prepared facility when we asked.

Anyway, on to the food. I ordered a cobb salad which was pretty good. My daughter ordered a flatbread dish and my wife ordered a burger with onion rings on the side. We also started with an order of their wings which the waitress explained that they have won awards for. The wings were tasty, but unmistakably loaded with butter which to me takes away from the flavor of the sauce, but they were decent. My daughter liked her flatbread and my wife only took a bite or two of her burger. This was because she was so busy fighting off the fruit flies that were dive bombing her food. They seemed to be attacking her only. Then she found two hairs in her onion ring sauce. Not Good! Then my son crawled on the floor which was pretty greasy because he dropped a lego piece. So I took him to the restroom to clean up. The bathroom was nice (granite etc.) but was very dirty. I did not want to touch any surface in there. Which is my normal policy in public restrooms, but this place is in a building where people live and is relatively new, so I guess I expected more.

After that, I noticed that others were fighting off fruit flies and full size house flies at adjacent tables. Needless to say, my wife was not happy and therefore neither was I. We will not be going back to BWP unless we hear from a lot of people that things are better there.

So they get good marks for the waitress who did a good job, but the restaurant needs to be much cleaner. We did not make any complaints at the time of our visit because there was not really anything they could have done to fix it. The food was decent, but not anything to write home about.

Bottom Line: If we’re going to spend $70 for 10 wings, a cobb salad, a burger, two orders of onion rings and four non-alcoholic drinks, we’ll go somewhere else.

Sportline Kawasaki

So, Sportline was the first dealer I went to. I already knew that I wanted a Kawasaki Versys after doing all of my research online and in magazines.

My salesperson was great on the initial visit. He even let me test ride his personal Versys since they did not have one on the sales floor. We had a good conversation about the bike, during which I told him I would be shopping around and he gave me his initial price. Then, I went to Phibbs and immediately got a better price. So I called Sportline back and told them and the salesperson said he’d check into it and did not get back to me for a couple of days, so I called back and he gave me a new price that was HIGHER than his initial price! I explained to him that the idea was to come at least closer to the lower price that I got from Phibbs. I then went around with him for a day or two and he didn’t seem to care too much about me or about offering a lower price, so I went with Phibbs who did not dicker at all, but they came in with a fair price and so that’s really the way business should be done.

I don’t have a lot bad to say about Sportline. They have a lot of inventory, nice sales people etc. but they didn’t care much about my paltry purchase. I really wanted to buy it there too considering the sales person was so nice on my initial visit, but I guess he didn’t really care about getting the sale.

Phibbs is now out of business however (2016) and so it would seem that Sportline is one of the few remaining Kawasaki options in my area. I don’t forsee myself buying a new bike any time soon however. I love my Versys!

Bottom line: Sportline is a nice dealership with ok customer service. They don’t really care about giving you the best deal though… Take it for what it’s worth.

Phibbs Power Sports

Great Price and Service!

Phibbs Power Sports gave me a great price for my Kawasaki Versys right away and my salesperson always called back when I had questions. They were excellent! No dickering to get a fair price. They just give you a fair price right up front. That’s the way business should be. Jerry Phibbs is a great guy too. He was always milling around the shop and available to answer questions when I had them. I would highly recommend this dealership if they weren’t out of business. I’m not sure why they closed their doors, but they will be missed. I always enjoyed my experience there. That’s my red versys in the photo below!

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Givi V35 PLX Hard Saddlebags

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Update: There was a recall on these bags because they covered the side reflectors on the Versys. Kawasaki sent me some gigantic reflectors that were supposed to be mounted in a weird way and were going to look ridiculous, so I just put a long piece of reflective tape down the side of each bag. Problem solved! Also, one of the Versys branded logos fell off, so I made some nice Rock City Rumblers stickers and replaced them!

Original Review below.

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Versys with saddlebags on.

I purchased the Givi V35 PLX Hard Saddlebags (Kawasaki Versys branded) with my new Versys. I ecalleally like the way they look and they are put together pretty well. They also hold a lot of stuff. I can fit my size M Fulmer M1 Modus full face helmet in one of them if I’m very creative and patient with positioning it. The shape inside is slightly different between each bag, so the helmet definitely only fits in the one side. But they do hold a lot of stuff in there. My only gripes have been that I don’t really like the way the bike looks with the bags off. The mounting brackets do not flatter the Versys. That said, the brackets incorporate new passenger grab handles that are much sturdier than the stock handles. I’ve since read about a company called SW Motech that makes an easily removable mounting bracket, but I don’t want to throw out mine and invest in new ones at this point. I don’t ride the bike too much without the bags anyway. My other gripe is listed on the main Versys review page which is about the trim kit. Go on over there and check it out if you’re interested.

As for durability, there are straps inside that keep the bag from opening past 90 degrees. Both of my straps on the drivers side bag came loose and let go of their mounting points. I remedied this by putting in larger screws and it seems to be holding so far. The lock system on these bags is great. There is one small key. The release button for the bags is a one push and their off the bike deal. When you push the button to unlock the bag for opening, it opens, but a latch catches it after it is unlocked to keep it from dropping until you can grab it and let it open on your terms. This is nice for one handed operation. These bags are super easy to get on and off the bike. They clean up real nice after a buggy ride too! I just use Meguiars Mist and Wipe detailing spray to clean the whole bike. It smells delicious and puts a hell of a shine on that bad boy… I will try to post some pics of the inside of the bags when I get a chance. For now, here’s a couple more pics of the bike…

Rear view of brackets and new grab handles with bags off.
Rear view of brackets and new grab handles with bags off.
Closeup side view with bags off.
Closeup side view with bags off.
Side view with bags off.
Side view with bags off.

2008 Kawasaki Versys

2008 Kawasaki Versys Long Term Review – 1st Posting!

Fall, 2008

This is my 2008 Kawasaki Versys. I purchased it in September of 2008. Scroll down for newer stories and updates!

With Kawasaki Branded Givi Hard Saddlebags Installed.
My 2008 Versys with Kawasaki Branded Givi V35 PLX Hard Saddlebags Installed.

Specs: for detailed general specifications on the 2008 Versys, click here to go to motorcycle.com and see their review and specs. I’m not repeating them, because that’s not what this page is about.
My personal specs. are as follows. I purchased the Versys with the accessory saddlebags from Phibbs Power Sports in Albany, New York. They were fantastic (for more on that click the Phibbs Power Sports link on the right). Price of the bike: $6199.00, plus bags: $521.32, plus tax title and registration: $576.17, plus Freight and setup: $225.00, Plus NYS inspection and documentary fee: $26.00, plus tire tax: $2.50 each tire for a grand total of $7552.49. Retail price of the bike was $6899 and the retail price of the bags was $819.90 for a total retail of $7718.90 before tax and all the other fees, so I think I did ok price wise…

First Impressions: My first few months on this bike proved that all the internet reviews of the Versys are accurate. This is a fantastic beginners bike! The only possible shortcoming for beginners is if they are short. The seat height is 33in. I am 6 feet tall with a 34″  inseam and if I was any shorter, I’d feel like the bike was a bit too tall for me. As it is, it fits me perfectly. I will say that my cousin Al Huzar drove it home for me the day I bought it (I wasn’t quite ready for the heavy traffic in Albany) he is only about 5’8″ tall and he did ok with it. He’s been riding since he was a kid. He had to reach for the ground at stops, but while riding, he said it was very comfortable and he thought it rode very nice.

The reviews I’ve read also say you can grow with this bike as it is good for veterans too and I believe that will be true. I have not yet tapped into the power available here. I am very conservative at this point. I do like to lean the bike over in corners (which it loves to do), but I do not go very fast. That being said, I think the bike will hold up well on long trips. So far I’ve ridden about 100 miles for my longest non stop trip and the seat was plenty comfortable. My throttle hand still gets a little fatiqued, but that’s got nothing to do with the bike. I just need to loosen up. As for riding off the smooth pavement (as I’ve read others do with this bike) the only “off road” riding I’ve done is in my yard. My kids like to ride with me. Jack rides in front of me and Grace  rides in the back. (Not at the same time!). The bike handles well in the grass whether it’s soft or hard. We have some small hills in our yard and I have to say that even as a beginner, I feel very comfortable on the bike on the grass (keep in mind that I go pretty slow with the kids on the bike, but sometimes that can make a bike less stable… not the Versys. It may be too early to say this, but I think it’s a champ!

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Gracie and I head off into the sunset!

Front View with bags on.

 

Rear view - bags on.
Rear view – bags on.
Side view - bags on.
Side view – bags on.
Exhaust pipe at bottom-One of my favorite features!
Exhaust pipe at bottom-One of my favorite features!
Side view with bags off.
Side view with bags off.
I like this angle!
I like this angle!

500 mile service.

On 11/03/08, I had my first service done at Phibbs Power Sports. The bike had 591 miles on it and they did the first oil change, checked all the fluids, lubed the chain and adjusted all the cables etc. etc. They are the best! I love Jerry Phibbs. Even though I’m just some punk newby rider, he will spend his time answering my stupid questions for as long as I want. That is just unbelievable to me. No wonder they’ve been in business for so long.

Safety Recall from the manufacturer.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Today, My wife told me I got a safety recall letter from Kawasaki! I immediately freaked out. What could be wrong with my bike! Am I going to die in some freakish accident because my brakes will fail? No. Actually, the saddlebags covered the side reflectors, so apparently this is a huge safety hazard. So they said “don’t ride the bike until you get reflectors”. So, I sent my card back to Kawasaki and they sent me two of the biggest and ugliest reflectors that they want placed right under the Versys logo on the bags. Not only will they not stick well there because of the shape of the bags, but they are darned ugly. So, I’m going to find some reflective tape and put a small stripe near the bottom of each bag. Anyone know where I can get some nice reflective tape?

1,000 Miles!

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

1000miles

Well, today I turned 1,000 miles on my Versys. So far I’ve had very little to complain about. It’s due for it’s 2nd service, so I’ll be scheduling that soon… I also got to do a good deed today! My friend Gary ran out of gas on his way home and when I rode by him, I could tell something was wrong, so I stopped and used the hazards on my Versys to alert traffic while he pushed his Harley (which has no hazards) to the nearest stewarts to fill with gas. I’m real happy that the Versys has a gas gauge!

Second Service at Phibbs Power Sports.

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

1,150 Miles… They call it a spring service, change the oil check and adjust a bunch of stuff. I call it making sure Kawasaki can’t screw me if something goes wrong before the warranty is over… I Love Phibbs Powersports though. Look for my review in the list… I waited for the bike to be serviced and also purchased a new jacket (Olympia Viper) for colder weather and pants (Olympia Air Glide). Look for reviews on these to come soon. We also got a new helmet for Melissa who will be taking the MSF basic rider course on the 4th of July weekend. Good Luck Dear! I Love you!