The ultimate Valentine's Day gift for best motorcycle dates
Valentine's Day is huge in Japan, and it's celebrated by women buying presents for men in their lives, and men returning the gesture a month later, when "White Day" is celebrated. This day grew in importance in the past few years, and it's actually almost mandatory to give chocolate to all your male colleagues (it's called "giri-choco" or obligatory chocolate), also those you might not really like, but you see them on regular basis.
We spent last Valentine's Day volunteering in a dog shelter. That day, we took dogs for a walk and thoroughly cleaned their cages. It was hard and busy work, and the last thing on our bucket list was chocolate shopping. All Kazuto got from me that day were bags of dog poop I handed over for throwing away...
This year, I prepared better. In one of the shops I spotted a chocolate box that I adored as a kid due to the cute cats cover picture. That box is waiting on top of the fridge for a week already (the only place I can "hide" surprises in our rather small apartment). It's a small cheap chocolate box, but I cannot give him anything better. Here's why:
We got a Bluetooth helmet communication system - and nothing can beat that bike date gadget!
We considered getting a helmet-to-helmet communication system as we 1st reserved the bikes at the moto shop, but we didn't want to fall under the reckless shopping spell. After accidentally separating in a well-known neighborhood, it became clear that long touring will bring difficulties finding each other. Especially since I didn't have a phone number until a few days ago (but that's another story).
Kazuto researched options and ordered Daytona COOLROBO Easy Talk 3 from Japanese Amazon site. It's a Bluetooth audio transmitter that can be attached to any helmet. It has a variety of microphones - a small mic that can be inserted inside the full-face helmet, as well as a headset type of microphone for open-face ones. Speakers, mic and the control unit all come with powerful 3m stickers that are easily attachable to the helmets.
How Daytona COOLROBO improved our communication
Our instruction manual was fully in Japanese, and Kazuto managed to set up the Coolrobo within a few minutes. We couldn't find English manual for it, but the brochure has many images, therefore it would be possible to set it up without knowing Japanese. Probably...
Pressing the biggest button on the control unit (positioned on the outer side of the helmet) initiates or ends a connection between both helmets. They advertise the communication limit up to 200m, but for us, it has worked on much bigger distance than that. Currently, I find it slightly difficult to find the button during the ride, but that's also because I'm not too comfortable letting go the steering bar (as an inexperienced rider). So far, I'm leaving it to Kazuto, and whenever he's around, his "moshi moshi" in my helmet makes my Ninja purr a little sweeter.
In addition to communication between helmets, Daytona Coolrobo can connect to phones via Bluetooth. During our trip to Miura we tested listening to music. Kazuto set up a playlist on his iPod, while I, the podcast addict, found some that actually only play good music and set it up on iPhone that displayed navigation as well. The fact that the music can be set up super silently is great. You can hear the traffic and listen to you moto at all times, and when the conversation mode is switched on, the volume increases. My iPhone connection had a downside, as the music volume went up at the same time, but in Kazuto's case, it became more silent. I shortly disconnected music, as it was draining the phone battery, and honestly, the street sounded more exciting for both of us. Finding it distracting, we haven't used the music option at all afterwards.
Riding conversation brings much more than trip coordination
We've bought the transmitters to be able to coordinate our trip, make sure we're heading to right direction, check on each others status and plan our rest stops. However, I found this gadget an essential. Obtaining my license last year, riding my Ninja is a completely new experience to me. I greatly benefit from conversations with Kazuto, as I can ask him many questions to improve my ride. It was very convenient checking my gear and rpm state and getting rev matching tips as a start. During our trip to Izu peninsula, we experienced some ice/snow on the road, as well as heavy wind at certain sections. Kazuto rode in front of me and warned me of any unpredictable situations. I also got some useful tips on counter-steering taking the scenic Izu curves. It's truly a priceless addition to our riding gear, for practical and fun reasons.
Road babbling, singing, dancing support
During the latest trip, we've been connected whenever we rode together. It has given us an opportunity for great conversations, laughs, but we are also enjoying random babbles and murmuring in times of deep riding meditation. At times, it's really epic. When we're stuck in traffic or waiting at a traffic light for a long time, we get into some serious conversations, and often use our body language or point some things to each other. To the outside world, it might look a bit creepy at times, if we amplify the gesticulation...
We got all we wanted for Valentine's Day
As we were riding back home yesterday, we talked about this consumer-oriented overhyped occasion as well. I told that all I wanted for this day was his love (and I've been getting it in most heroic ways possible), and Kazuto expressed his modest wish. He just wanted an empty road. 2 traffic lights later, the road cleared up, and we shifted to higher gear, bringing all those loving road memories home.
Happy Valentine's from both of us. Love each other and communicate at all times!