Tuesday, 21 March 2017

10 days to go!

The Tour of Portugal is approaching first and preparations are as good as done!

A 90 mile trip round the Peak District last Monday was an excellent shake down, everything (well almost everything see below) worked well and I felt fit and coped with nearly 7 hours on the bike without difficulty. Although i will confess the new seat is a lot less comfy than the old one!

The only downside was the battery being flat but as the bike was kick starting easily, not a big issue. I eventually tracked the problem to the relay on the headlight being faulty and not switching off. So I was riding, sometimes at slow speed with the 55 watt halogen lamp on constantly. So little wonder the battery flattened itself. After unplugging the relay the battery started to charge up again and was starting on the button by the end of the day so that's sorted!

On my return I first stripped the bike down (again!) for a good clean.

The next evening I fitted new tyres (Maxxis Maxcross IT) and re-lubed the mousses.

Stripped off the faulty relay and replaced the halogen lamp (fitted for the MOT as it has a proper dip pattern) with the old LED lamp. I taped over the top half of the lens on the inside to make it into a dip beam so hopefully wont blind every Portuguese driver I meet on the Rally J

I then got it ready for transport, draining down to virtually no fuel, disconnecting the battery and cable tieing the footpegs out of the way.

Then last job, fit my impossibly small new number plate (race use only of course) but I did pack my full size flexi plate in my spares box just in case.

The spares box and kit bag got packed on Saturday night then the van was loaded up and Sunday morning we were off on the long trip down to East Sussex to deposit the bike, box and bag at Desert Rose Racing ready to be transported off to Portugal next week.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Bike preparation - nearly there!

One job that was not strictly necessary but I did it anyway was to strip the old graphics off the fairing as they were looking rather tired, the new look is only a slight variation on the old; black instead of orange and a refresh of the Nomad racing stickers, although I'm still thinking of extending the black to the top of the fairing:

If you're really observant you might also spot that I fitted a new front mudguard, no need for this either but as one came with the plastics kit, I decided to fit it.

The final few parts I had ordered all turned up but to be honest none were required for the MOT so I fitted the main beam tell-tale light then it was off to for the MOT…

Not having ridden the bike for some time, I was a little concerned to find the handlebars pointed markedly to the left when the front wheel was pointing straight forward. I had forgotten that the forks had twisted in the yokes when I went down in the mud at the Ryedale Rally.

I mentioned this to the MOT tester and he wasn’t at all concerned and went ahead with the test although it failed!

Luckily this was not due to the forks and only due to some (very) slight movement in the front wheel bearings, I rode home, fitted a new set that I had in the spares box, straightened the forks whilst I was at it and was back to get the new MOT only 45 minutes later!

The funny thing was the tester asked me to operate the lights for him and was standing in front of the bike when i put main beam on, so could not have seen that I had a main beam indicator light, so that was a wasted effort!

On getting home I checked the MOT testers manual on-line only discover there is no longer a requirement for one on the MOT test. It's one of many things that you need by law (in this case Schedule 5, Part 1, Section 11 of the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989) but which is not tested on the MOT.... go figure?

Later I did a few more bits and pieces; the front sprocket went on without drama and the new spark plug took no effort. I also replaced the front brake pin (and R clips) as the old one was looking worn.

As previously mentioned I ordered a new number plate and went for a small tapered design, I unwrapped the very small envelope and was rather surprised to see how small it actually was! OK the idea of the small plate is to prevent it getting broken when racing in closed course events that don’t use the public highway but of course as a Rally event all bikes must be registered for the road, so the number plate (of some description) has to remain as proof of that.

I keep one fully legal plate for MOTs (and as you can see above, even that one has cracked).

I have another full size but flexi plate (1mm thick polycarbonate) for trail riding, the legality of this might be questioned as it doesn’t have the British Standard marking on it but complies with all other legal requirements and as the most common reason to get stopped by the Police on a tail bike is for having a small plate, this avoids that in the first place. Flexi plates are not indestructible but will take a lot more abuse than a standard plate.

Then I have a small flexi plate for racing as noted above, even this is not fool proof as I smashed my last one on the Ryedale Rally, although I have to say this new tapered plate is the smallest I’ve ever used and as it doesn’t extend beyond the sides of the hanger, should be protected from most abuse I can dish out. I'm planning on using it in Portugal so let’s hope the Portuguese Police don’t know how big a UK plate is supposed to be J not that we actually saw any Police on the Rally last year!

All that remains is to fit the new switch gear on the left hand bar and it’s all ready to go!

Monday, 6 March 2017

Bike Preparation Part 5

The dead electrics were causing me some concern with only a month to go before the Tour of Portugal. So a thorough check through of the wiring was conducted, this involved removing some more redundant wiring including some of the main power feed wire and fitting new connectors. 

I then tried the starter button but still nothing, I was about to start pulling it all apart again when I accidentally hit the horn button and it worked! 

Foolishly I had unplugged the starter switch and forgotten to plug it back in... doh!

That minor problem resolved, everything was found to be working as it should, it would appear that the redundant wiring was the source of my problem, specifically the main power feed (red/yellow) that piggybacks through two redundant connector blocks (originally for headlight and handlebar switches) I chopped these out and connected to the yellow/red cable directly as it exits the loom.... sorted!

Then I wired in the new combined starter/kill switch on the right hand bar. And a final check that everything works before putting all back together...

Then I remounted the navigation tower, lights and all the navigation equipment, switches etc. At this stage it was just to check it all worked and all the excess wiring was bundled behind the fairing and i'm pleased to say it did! The fairing was remounted and a quick check that nothing fouled showed that the forks were hitting the nav tower on full left lock and the handlebar guard was hitting the road book holder.

Maybe the lock stop needs adjusting I thought, only to discover the left hand lock stop bolt had fallen out completely! A new M8 bolt and lock nut were easily fitted, another problem sorted.

Then I took it all apart and tidied up all the cabling. One issue with the navigation kit, it that all the cables are far to long but the specialist fittings are sealed on the ends. I could cut cable out of the middle and rejoin it with heat shrink over the joints but i'm loath to introduce numerous potential points of failure!

So the cables usually end up being coiled up with tape and bundled inside the nav tower. So I have long thought about how to sort this out. The solution was actually obvious, it was the small plastic box bolted to the side of the nav tower. Originally fitted to keep a few electrical spares in, these will now be moved to the tool bag on the rear mudguard and a few holes were drilled into the sides of the box to allow the cables to be passed inside. All the connections and spare cable have now been neatly coiled inside.

So only a few small jobs remain:

For the MOT I need a main beam indicator light, I have a small LED that just needs to be wired in.

At present the bike has a universal light/horn switch on the left hand bar but it doesn't fit very well as with the road book and ICO switches in places it has to sit further inboard but then  it fouls on the clutch hose so has to be mounted even further away from the grip but even then it's not ideal as the tapered handlebars are too thick there for it to fit very well.

The spiral wrapped cables from the road book & ICO switches still needs routing properly!

The Rally Raid Products switch mount I have for the road book and ICO switches also has the provision to fit a standard KTM switch block. Apparently they are not the greatest quality but it will neaten everything up so one has been ordered and to be honest the switch I have is not brilliant quality as I've also had replace it once when water got into it . This will give lights, dip/main, horn and an additional kill switch.

At present the bike wears a full size rigid number plate for the MOT but for racing in Portugal I have ordered a small flexi plate.

The chain and rear sprocket are in good condition but the front sprocket is looking a bit hooked, so a new one has been ordered.

An Iridium spark plug has been ordered, I've also used standard NGK plugs before but thought I'd give it a try as they are supposed to improve throttle response and produce a (very small)  power increase as well as lasting longer.

Then it's fit new tyres and re-lube the mousses, refresh the fairing graphics and she's already for some testing on the trails before heading off to Portugal.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Bike Preparation Part 4

As previously explained, the electrics on the bike were a bit of a mess and the nine wires to the speedo in particular....

However the task of sorting it out was made easier by the discovery that four out of the nine wires were for the optional handlebar switch for the trip meter. these were still bundled together into a single connector so easily identified. As I don't need these I just left them alone and cable tied them out of the way.

There are two wires that go to the front wheel sensor,  one had been cut and the other damaged but as the severed piece was still in the connector to the sensor, easy to work out which these were. So these were both cut back to good cable, new connectors installed and plugged back together.

This left three wires; one red, one black and one brown. The brown was easy as this is the colour for earth and I had a loose red/yellow wire (the main power feed from the fuse) so that seemed the obvious one to connect to red. This left the final wire that according to the wiring diagram should connect to a black/brown wire. But there was no sign of one anywhere?

A closer examination of the wiring diagram showed that the black/brown wire eventually connects to the brown earth cables somewhere in the loom, so it was a simple matter to also connect that to the brown wire...

And it worked!

The front brake light switch was another easy fix, the cable from the switch fed into a multi connector but that has never had anything attached to it whilst I have owned the bike? I believe this is where the standard headlight plugs into. A close look at the wiring diagram showed that two wires a white and a yellow should go to the same terminal on the back of the block. So I connected a loose yellow wire that must have originally gone into this block to the feed wire of the front brake light switch and it works! The white wire is the original side/tail light feed and is now redundant so was removed.

So all sorted.... or so I thought!

I did a final check to see if everything was working only to discover I had lost all battery power, i.e. the starter button, horn and rear light were now not working (the front lights, being mounted on the Nav tower are not currently connected).

The bike could still be kick started, which then powers up the brake lights as they work from the generator not the battery and the speedo powered up. Pressing the horn button produced a feeble beep, which indicates power is possibly leaking through somehow but it's clearly not right!

First suspected culprit had to be the main blade fuse which is mounted on the starter relay behind the battery. I was certain I must have shorted something out when chopping wires so I pulled this out but it was an opaque plastic fuse rather than the translucent type I normally use, so you can't see if it's blown or not, so I fitted a new one and..... nothing!

By this time I had been working on the bike for several hours and getting fed up so decided to call it a day.

Subsequent research online shows there are actually two fuses mounted on the starter relay, one is a spare. So I think I may have swapped the spare fuse over. As mentioned previously the wire from this fuse is a yellow/red cable. The wiring diagram shows this leads direct to the starter button and the horn button, so seems a likely suspect!

I found this very useful picture, which made me realise what i may have done...

But you can see it's not that easy to see, especially when covered in mud; The fuses are on the underside of the relay that's arrowed below...

A subsequent swap of the other (correct) fuse and......

Absolutely nothing! This was going to take some more investigating

To be continued

Monday, 27 February 2017

Bike Preparation Part 3

Having got everything back up and running (for the time being) and bolted together, a few more details remained:

The seat cover that initially got ripped on last year's Tour of Portugal and then completely FUBAR'ed at the Ryedale, was in desperate need of recovering, As you can see in the photo below I had been relying on "gaffa tape engineering". Unfortunately getting it sorted was a challenge in itself as although I had been told of a reasonably local company in Baldock that could do it for me, I just don't get time off in the week to get it to them.

I tried fitting the standard seat that is designed to fit with the stock 9 litre petrol tank, I knew this would leave a gap between the seat and my 13 litre tank but thought that a small price to pay. Unfortunately, try as I might i couldn't get the mounting bolt to line up so that idea was off the agenda!

The seat on the bike has always been a bit of an issue as it had been built up with extra foam and a gel pad by the previous owner. Whilst this made it nice and comfy for long rally stages, it has been a hindrance on the more technical UK rallies, where the seat height did cause me to struggle to get a foot on the ground.

I tried looking online to see if I could get a new seat to fit with the big tank but couldn't find one listed,

Then I learnt that the EXC was also sold as the MXC in some markets with the 13 litre tank as standard, sure enough a quick check of part numbers and I realised I had an MXC seat. A brand new one was duly ordered and not only is it a perfect fit but I've knocked two inches off the seat height!

You may notice the home made heat shield now fitted to the bike, I got fed up melting my boots and trousers on the exhaust where it is exposed near the rear shock. I had originally constructed this to fit on my old CCM that had a very similar problem but never got round to fitting it. I wondered if it would fit the KTM and with a slight enlarging of the mounting holes, it could have been designed for it!

Another job needing sorting before Portugal was some new tyres, I've always used Torque Racing in the past but since moving to Milton Keynes that means a two hour round trip so not an easy option anymore! So I was very pleased to find Mad4Motocross in Milton Keynes stock Maxxis MaxxCross IT, a favourite of mine and at a very decent price... so i'll definitely be paying them a visit!

Sorting out the electrics was my final major task and this looked like it was going to be a bit more problematic....

To be continued.....

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Bike Preparation Part 2

Moving on to the electrical issues was a bit of a mixed bag:

The rear brake light switch was the easiest; it just started working again of its own accord! I suspect the fault was inadvertently fixed when I remounted the rear light, most probably the result of a loose connector.  

The horn was only slightly more difficult, a connector from the handlebar switch had come apart… simple!

The front brake light switch proved to be more difficult, the switch seemed to be working OK so I removed it from the loom via the connector mounted on the head stock. I then bridged the two wires in the connector and... nothing! So the switch was possibly OK but it looked like I might have a broken wire somewhere in the loom. I decided that it would not be to hard to fix for the MOT as I could just connect some new cables to those to the rear light switch and run them under the tank and connect to the front switch. A longer term solution would be required but it would almost certainly need some surgery on the wiring loom!

The speedo was also self explanatory with a number of severed wires. It looks as if they have been caught on the nav tower as the steering turns, so some thought will need to be applied there. This confused me as I seemed to have more wires coming out of the speedo than corresponding wires from the loom? A study of the wiring diagram shows this to be correct as four of the nine wires are there for the optional handlebar switch that turns the trip meter into a rally trip.  As I have no need for this facility, I can just ignore these wires. I'm also removing other redundant wiring such as the indicator wires to tidy up the rats nest that currently sits on the head stock. 

Another plan is to replace the two separate engine start and stop switches (see photo below) with a single switch block containing both switches. I just need to work out which wires need to go where as the new switch is from a Honda, so not a simple replacement and I need to work out which of the seven wires correspond to the four on the KTM. The switch incorporates the wiring to the (Honda) front brake light switch so there's a possibility I can incorporate that into the KTM's wiring too so neaten things up further on the bars.

You'll note the mirror mount in between the two switches. The EXC has no way of fitting mirrors as standard but whilst sorting through my box of CCM bits as I was selling some parts, I noticed the front brake is virtually identical (both are Brembo) and the CCM has provision to for a mirror on the clamp. Whilst I don't need a mirror when racing, it is very handy when out trail riding, so I was pleased to see the clamp was a perfect fit. This has allowed me to fit a Double Take folding mirror that uses a Ram Mount fitting.

That's a general problem with rally bikes, the need to fit road book and ICO switches to the left bar as well as lights, dip switch and horn makes things very crowded. The right hand bar is not so bad (unless running a back up ICO with the switches on that side) but still has to mount the brake reservoir/lever, start switch and kill switch. so the simpler it can be the better.

Also as I wont be using the mirror in racing, I can also use the Ram Mount to fit a video camera, as we are no longer allowed to wear helmet or body cameras under ACU rules.

To be continued...

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Bike Preparation Part 1

So having decided what I’m doing on the rally front this year, how am I doing it? Still on the old faithful 2006 KTM 450 EXC which is currently being revamped ready for the Tour of Portugal, largely as a result of damage incurred on last year’s Ryedale Rally, this included:
  • Lost the side panel/air box cover
  • Lost the number plate
  • Broke the rear mudguard and number plate hanger
  • Bent the side stand pivot bolt
  • Ripped the mud flap that covers the rear shock
  • I also suffered some damage to the fairing from flying rocks
  • The speedo, horn and brake lights all gave up the ghost!
I’ll confess that I lost a bit of enthusiasm over the winter but finally started the rebuild. First the side stand was sorted, an easy fix as I had a spare bolt already Then a strip down and clean, to remove those bits of North Yorkshire that seemed to be lurking everywhere! Although to be honest the more I work on the bike, the more mud I keep finding!

Then a full service; oil change, oil screens cleaned, new oil filters, air filter cleaned and oiled, new spark plug and tappets checked.

Part of the delay was tracking down some new plastics in white to match the fairing, fork guards, front mudguard and hand guards as I was a bit fed up with the white/orange/black mismatch I had previously but I finally found some on eBay. 

The mud flap and side panel were standard KTM parts as was the rear number plate hanger although I did manage to get a US Spec short hanger, that is also at a shallower angle than the EU spec version. This is important because it was catching the old hanger on the back tyre because it sits closer to vertical (despite having been cut short) that caused the damage. The downside is the number plate is at a very shallow angle rather than the “vertical or near vertical” required by legislation but hopefully won’t be a problem for the MOT. 

Also the rear light on the US model is different, so although I have already replaced the rear light with an LED one I had to remake the mounting bracket to suit. This is Mark 1 as I want to fit it a bit higher and further forward to sit a bit closer under the rear mudguard but it’ll do for the time being so i can renew the MOT.

The mudflap was a straight replacement, so no problem there: 

As should have been the new side panel. It fits with two bayonet fittings that can be troublesome to fit and as I experienced, can easily come unlatched, causing the panel to fall off! Although two new fittings were supplied with my new side panel, when I came to fit it, do you think I could find them? Of course not!

A solution presented itself before I had to turn the garage upside down to find the (very small) plastic bag they came in. I was ordering some quick release dzus fasteners for my fairing when I spotted on the Speedy Fasteners website, a kit to replace the bayonet fittings on an EXC side panel with two dzus fasteners. 

I promptly ordered it and it only took about 10 minutes to fit, the panel wasn’t quite as tight up against the airbox as it could have been so I added a couple of rubber washers to the outside of the panel and the problem was sorted. A nice snug fit and the fasteners require  a quarter turn to lock. When racing a small bit of tape over the head of the fasteners will make them even more secure. I also intend to cover the side panel with white vinyl (the other side is already done) to match the (mostly) white colour scheme.

The other dzus fasteners I bought replaced the allen bolts that formerly held the fairing on. This means the fairing can now be removed and replaced in a matter of seconds when loading the bike into the van…. Result!

To be continued....