Thursday, 2 September 2021

Project Downsize Part 4

In my last blog, I told the story of the rear brake pedal and how I managed to bend it in half after getting it stuck in the side of a rut on Salisbury Plain.


This was a result of the standard brake pedal sticking out a long way from the side of the bike and the foot plate on the end being very long too. So I started to look at how I could prevent this in future, now pay attention here comes the technical bit....

First I bent the pedal back to its original position as far as possible and then attempted to straighten it a bit more to tuck into the side of the bike by the simple expedient of clamping it in a bench vice, heating it up with a blow torch then getting a very large ring spanner over the lever and bending it as required. I also replaced the (very bent) original foot plate with one from a KTM EXC that is only half as big, this was a bit better but not perfect.

Next step was to find an alternative pedal that doesn’t stick out so far, I took a close look at the 790/890 pedal and it certainly looked like it might fit. Although the obvious issue was it mounts inside the frame, whereas the 390 pedal fits to the outside, so maybe it was just an optical illusion that it doesn't bend as far? The only way to find out was to get hold of one and try.

The downside is that a replacement 390 pedal is bad enough at £55 but a 790 is £79!!!

A bit too steep to start experimenting until I spotted a replacement 790 pedal on AliExpress for only £24 (with new user discount) so I thought it was worth a punt. It ended up costing me about £30 with postage but still not bad.
So it turned up eventually and a first look it seemed like everything was in the right place when comparing it to the original:


After removing the original pedal from the bike it looked even better


But then a few problems First problem is the part where the brake rod attaches is thicker on the 790 pedal.

This is because instead of a forked rod with a clevis pin that the 390 uses, the 790 has a rose joint that bolts to the side of the pedal.


I considered stealing the rod from my 525EXC as it’s the same type as the 790 but realised it was quite different where it goes into the master cylinder. So instead I spent a few minutes with a file and reduced the width to match...


Then I tried to push the clevis pin through the hole and discovered it is both smaller and lacks the steel bush the 390 pedal has:


So I pressed out the sleeve (with two small sockets and the vice) Then drilled out the 790 pedal to almost big enough, then carefully finished it off with a round file until:

 

I was then able to press the steel bush into the new pedal with the vice...

 

And it all fitted together as standard...

Another problem can be seen in the photo above, the hole for the return spring runs back to front, whereas on the original pedal it's from side to side. Not really an issue as I drilled another hole with a 2mm bit in the correct orientation.

Next issue was the thickness off the lever at the pivot, if you look at the 390 lever the bearing just pushes in from either side. But on the 790 it can only go in from the inside as it sits against a shoulder on the outside…


This means the pedal is thicker here and the unthreaded portion of the pivot bolt is not long enough and pinches the pedal up against the frame so it doesn't move. I cured this by finding a bolt with a slightly longer unthreaded section in my "box of spare bolts that must not be thrown away as they are bound to come in useful one day"

And so the final test, and everything seems to fit just right. The adjustment bolt, didn't quite line up but was enough to still work OK, I also fitted a footplate from a KTM 250F Freeride, even smaller than the old EXC one I used before.


It certainly achieves the aim of tucking the lever in out of harm's way, especially when compared to the position of the original pedal (and remember the foot plate in the photo is from an EXC so still about half the size of the original:



so all that remained was to road test it:

And this is when it all failed miserably as I found two problems both with the same cause:

Despite the brake actuating rod being adjusted to its shortest length, the brake pedal sits too high. This means you have to physically lift your foot to find the back brake, annoying and not ideal when off road.

Also due to this, in trying to get the pedal as low as possible, the travel of the pedal is extremely short, so the brake is effectively on or off, with hardly any travel between the two positions, not helped by the pedal being much shorter than the original so it was always going to travel through a shorter arc.
So it's now really good at locking the back brake due to a total lack of feel 😠
As a result I have written off all the work done and I've reinstalled the standard pedal (now with the smaller 250F Freeride footplate).
The answer to these problems would be a shorter actuating rod, I looked again at the one on my 525 EXC to see if that would work but it's different, being fatter at the adjustment end due to having a threaded hole in it for a rose joint rather than being threaded itself like the 390, shame as they only cost £10.
Or I could buy another standard one and try cutting a longer thread for more adjustment and/or shortening it but wouldn't want to do that until I had a spare.
But the problem with that is the brake rod is not available as a separate part for the 390, only as part of the master cylinder (£93.66 each) 😱
So it's time to start trawling through the KTM parts fiches to see what I can find.
The investigation continues.....

Monday, 23 August 2021

Project Downsize part 3

After the mud had been washed off after the ABR Festival, I made a few more minor adjustments.

First was getting rid of the ridiculously long reflector bracket behind the number plate. At first I had just turned the reflector upside down which raised it a bit.


Later I crafted a plastic bracket from some 2mm plastic plate to position the redlecter right at the bottom of the number plate and did away with large moulded bracket altogether.

At the ABR festival I had picked up a new rack for the bike made from HDPE by French company AXP from Ollie Crowie at WrenchRidevery simple to fit and perfect for my purposes.


I then had a pleasant day out adding more miles as I had the 1000km (620 mile) service booked, this entailed just going out and getting lost, I discovered a few new byways and filmed them for the Byway Nomad channel, one each in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire (living as I do right on the border of the three counties). 

In fact, I rode more than that having included several I knew but unfortunately hadn’t quite got the hang of my new camera (a £30 knock off of a GoPro) so several of the videos were unusable, or I simply had managed to turn the camera off instead of on! Oh well at least I had an excuse to go and ride them again a week later! You can check them out at Byway Nomad


The next week  I took my bike in for its service in the back of the van as I also took along Gráinne’s KTM 250F Freeride as we had a plan! Gráinne had decided that rather than have both a trail bike and a road bike, a 390 Adventure (with a lowering kit) would replace them both. I was somewhat disappointed on arrival to discover the KTM Centre had no more 390s in stock and were unlikely to get anymore until the 2022 models started to arrive later in the year. This appeared to be the situation across the country as the model had proven so popular.

Luckily as there was no stock to be had in the UK, KTM were prepared to allow the KTM Centre to sell their demonstrator, so a deal was done and the Freeride part exchanged for the demo bike. It still only had 370 miles on the clock and the first 110 of those were done by me!

This is the bike..



At the time of writing we are still waiting for the lowering kit to arrive but the bike is safely ensconced in the KTM Centre, no longer available as a demo bike.

The next outing on my 390 was an Rallymoto training day on Salisbury Plain followed the next day by an Adventure Rally on the Plain. Saturday was fine with classroom sessions and a couple of short roadbook outings.

On Sunday, I was to be the course opener and all was going well until I entered a lane near the 'German Village' in the Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA), this was badly rutted from the passage of military vehicles and I caught the brake pedal in the side of the rut and next thing I knew I was on my side!

Luckily the only damage was to the pedal and the mount for the black plastic radiator shroud. The latter was easily pushed back into shape but I definitely need to get some crash bars as it could easily have been the radiator that got damaged.  

The brake pedal was a different story... 


Whoops!

I was able to straighten it a bit but for the rest of the day had to use my heel to brake, that was fun on wet chalk!

The saga of trying to resolve the pedal issue will be the subject of the next episode of the blog.

One good thing was i got this cracking photo of me on the 390 from Gabby our photographer.



To be continued...

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Project Downsize continues....

So what was next for the baby Adventure?

On buying my 390 I also ordered a set of spoked wheels from KTM, this was due to the original cast alloy wheels not being so suitable for off road use as they can easily get damaged. 

The spoked wheels have more flex in them so can absorb abuse on the trails. It took another 10 days but they finally turned up. 


They were soon unpacked and I checked through the parts. They include everything you need, discs, a new cush drive/sprocket carrier. ABS rings, spacers, rim tapes and all the bolts and nuts required. The only thing not supplied is a second rear sprocket. 

I had ordered some Mitas E09 tyres as the best value/most aggressive available in the 19"/17" wheel sizes so got around to fitting them, as you can see I had a willing (but not particularly helpful) assistant!



I had forgotten just how stiff the sidewalls are on these tyres, not the easiest to fit especially as the spindle on my Rabaconda tyre changer is too fat to fit through the wheel bearings, the 390 having much skinnier wheel spindles than most other KTMs, so I had to fit the tyres without using it. Keeping the wheels centred on the changer wasn't exactly easy as a result. Also the changer is designed for 18" to 21" wheels but I was able to adjust it just enough to accommodate the 17" rear wheel. 

I wondered why I had got a new cush drive/sprocket carrier with the new wheels thinking I could just use the existing one, saving me the effort to swap the sprocket over. After 20 minutes of trying to get the back wheel to fit and finding it a couple of millimetres too wide, I took a look at the other cush drive...


That'll be why it doesn't fit! The spoked wheels carrier is thinner than the cast wheel one as the spoked hub is clearly wider, no wonder it wouldn't fit. I also compared the spacer supplied with the spoked wheels, only a very subtle difference here but a difference nevertheless. I swapped over the sprocket (must get round to buying a second one) fitted the correct carrier and spacer and all was sorted. I particularly like the fact that the kit includes an upgrade of a Galfer wavy disc for the front wheel.



Job done, I was all ready for my first proper ride to Ragley Hall in Warwickshire to recce the adventure trail for the Adventure Bike rider Festival the following week, as I was the Clerk of the Course for the trail.


The tank bag is the Rigg Equipment bag I had bought for the 1090, luckily it fits the 390 as well. The rear bag is a Kriega US10 that fitted neatly on the rear seat and held my waterproofs. So off I set off, and if you look you can see the rear tyre is fully inflated, which is important because...

 I got only two miles down the road when the back tyre went flat!

Thinking I must have punctured it when fitting, I rode slowly back home and re-fitted the rear cast wheel and road tyre, to get on my way, only an hour behind schedule.

The recce went well and I had no real problems with the back tyre although the trail was pretty dry.




When I got home, I removed the tube from the offending wheel expecting it to be trashed by riding on it flat for two miles but it look perfect so I and pumped it up to see where the puncture was but found nothing. The next day it was still inflated, I put a new tube in the wheel anyway but over a month later it's still sitting in the garage and hasn't lost any pressure???

I can only guess that something got stuck in the valve or maybe because it's a few years old, it has become slightly porous over that time. OK when stationary but riding on it forced the air out. I decided I wouldn't be using it again anyway, just in case.

The following weekend was the ABR Festival itself and the 390 acquitted itself very well, excelling in the wet and muddy conditions we had on the Friday and Saturday. The only minor mishap was when I lost grip coming out of one of the bomb holes on the trail. This resulted in me hurtling backwards to the bottom of the hole!

Damage was confined to a bent exhaust bracket and the carbon fibre heat shield on the Akrapovič got torn in two pieces, the first was an easy fix but the second more frustrating, i'm still trying to get hold of a replacement.















Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Apparently I've been farkling!

FARKLE

Definition

Adding accessories, improvements or customising a motorcycle. Said to have originated from a Honda ST1100 Pan European online forum and may be an acronym for: Fancy Accessory, Really Kool, Likely Expensive (motorcycle accessories)
Alternatively a combination of 'Function' and 'Sparkle'

Whatever the correct meaning or origin, 'farkle' has become the default phrase for adding accessories or changing parts on your motorcycle to improve the looks or performance.
So it seems I've been farkling, although to be honest my first changes on my new 390 Adventure were fairly mild....
First was to change the rather ugly standard mirrors for the Vicma folding mirrors I fit on all my bikes, these came straight off my 1090 Adventure R as I replaced the standard mirrors before selling it.

This was slightly frustrated by the fact that unlike other KTM's the 390 has a left hand thread on the left mirror! The Vicmas having conventional threads. So the right hand mirror went on OK and a thread converter was ordered for the left. Until it arrived I fitted a separate mirror clamp to attach the mirror as a temporary fix.
Much better looking than the originals, a better view and they fold easily for riding off road and conveniently for loading into the van, another benefit is they cause less wind buffeting than the standard mirrors, owners often change screens to try and sort this problem without realising the impact mirrors can have, the helmet they are wearing or even what jacket they wear. For me at 6' 1" the standard screen in its lowest of two positions is fine for me, in fact a lot better than my 1090.
          

Next on the agenda was an Akrapovič Silencer, I picked this up second hand online for a much better price than new. But when it arrived, it might have well been brand new, the condition was perfect. A simple job followed of bolting it on. I have to say it doesn't make much difference to the sound but it is lighter than the original and looks far better in my opinion.



After this I mounted my Quadlock phone mount and anti vibration mount on the bars, although this proved a bit tricky as the 390 has very strange sized bars. Usually handlebars are 22mm diameter or 1" (25mm) on older bikes or more normally on KTMs they are 'fat bars' that taper from 22mm at the controls to 28.6mm in the centre. 

The 390 bars also taper but only out to 26mm in the centre, a size I have never seen before. So none of the mounting spacers supplied by Quadlock fitted. I eventually found some plastic spacers in my spares box that fitted (I think they were originally for mounting auxiliary light clamps onto 25mm diameter crash bars).

 



To be continued....




Friday, 16 July 2021

Lots of changes!

Yeah, yeah I know it's been two months since you last heard from me but I have been busy.

So where to start?

First off I had arrived at the decision that due to Myasthenia, the KTM 1090 Adventure R was simply too large and heavy for me. The lack of muscle strength MG causes had meant even manoeuvering it in and out of the garage was really difficult and I was in constant danger of dropping it. Riding was fine but every time I stopped I felt like I could drop it any moment, clearly something had to be done:

At first I started looking at the "middleweight" contenders, KTM 790/890 Adventure or Yamaha Tenere 700 were the obvious choices but were deemed not suitable for a couple of reasons. A) both were more expensive than what the 1090 could be reasonably sold for and I simply didn't have the spare cash available to make up the difference and B) the weight saving of less than 30kg was simply not enough to make a difference. Trying both they felt just as unwieldy as the 1090 when maneuvering.

So I started looking at the small adventure bike market and decided the following were contenders:

Honda CRF 250 Rally



Or the replacement, Honda CRF 300 Rally



BMW G310 GS



Royal Enfield Himalayan



KTM 390 Adventure


So a quick comparison showed:

Bike             Cost        Wet weight     Power        Torque          Seat Height

250 Rally     £5599      157kg             23hp          22.0Nm        895mm

300 Rally     £6039       153kg            27hp          26.6Nm         885mm

310 GS        £5435       169.5kg         34hp           28.0Nm         835mm

Himalayan    £4599       191kg           24.5hp        32.0Nm         800mm

390 ADV       £5849       165kg            43.5hp       35.3Nm         855mm

Red text indicates the worst scorer in the category, green text indicates the best.

As the CRF 250 Rally has been replaced by the 300, I would have to either buy second hand or find a dealer with old stock. But to be honest I rejected it because of its low power output (the lowest here) and its tall seat height. It is also more focussed as a trail bike with the "correct" 21"/18" wheel set up but as a result would be less suitable for road trips. In its favour was its light weight but this was not enough on its own.

The CRF 300 Rally is essentially the same bike but lighter, with more power and torque and a slightly lower seat but this wasn't enough of an improvement with only 4kg off the weight and an extra 4hp and 4.6Nm in its favour to make the grade. Additionally there are simply none available at present and I could have waited several months plus there would be no opportunity for a test ride as a result. I was actually offered a cancelled order (thanks George) but by then I had pretty much made my decision.

The BMW G310 GS is pretty much a known quantity as Gráinne has the road version, the G310 R. so i'm familiar with the engine but other factors were against it, the power was better but it was middle of the road in all categories. It also has 19"/17" cast alloy wheels that can limit tyre choice and ground clearance.

The Himalayan has the advantage of cheapest price and lowest seat but despite being the largest capacity at 411cc it has barely more power than the CRF250 Rally. Also the seat height is not so much of an advantage as having sat on one I found it too low and therefore too cramped for me. It does have a 21" front wheel but the 17" rear wheel limits tyre choice again. The other major factor is I simply don't like the look of them.

So that left the KTM 390 Adventure, this was well priced, a good weight, had the perfect seat height and available for both a demonstration ride and for sale. It also had the most power and torque of all the bikes. I was still a bit concerned about the 19"/17" cast alloy wheel combination but after riding one I was blown away, a fantastic little bike! 

On top of the considerations above, was the cost of getting them ready for the trails. The Hondas are well known for their poor suspension and so I would have to budget to improve this but this would only be a few hundred pounds.

The BMW has cast wheels which are not ideal for trail riding and have fairly basic suspension but spoked wheels and suspension upgrades are available from Rally Raid Products but at a cost of £2036, bringing the overall price to £7191.

The Himalayan works as it is but I still don't like them 😟

KTM have recently brought out a spoked wheel set for a quite reasonable £814* and the WP suspension needs no upgrading.

*By comparison a Talon wheelset for the EXC is over £1100 😱

All I had to do was sell the 1090! So it promptly went up for sale.

Next up was a Rallymoto training day on Salisbury Plain. Having cleaned the 1090 thoroughly, I was reluctant to take it and get it muddy. So Instead I travelled down in the van with the EXC in the back. Only to have it constantly cut out on me. Nothing I did would fix it and I've subsequently learnt it's almost certainly the pilot jet blocked by the fuel I left in it for over a year. This is apparently very common with unleaded containing ethanol. So a carburettor rebuild is on the cards. I ended up marshalling in the van.

After the Timber Woods Trial in April, the opportunity to enter the Peaky Boulders LDT in the Peak District came up. I decided this would be great to do given my knowledge of the Peaks, plus it would cover some common ground with the Edinburgh Trial.

On the day I drove up early but left the poorly EXC at home and took Gráinne's 250F Freeride instead. I was entered in the "Easy Route" class as it isn't on proper trials tyres and I'm glad I was. 

After starting I soon arrived at the first section....    Or rather the queue for the first section. An hour later I finally got to the front of the queue, I had considered missing this and the next stage but there was no other way of getting out of the woods. the way we entered being down a steep and slippery slope and only wide enough for a single bike and of course very quickly clogged up with queuing bikes, so getting back up that way was not going to happen!

In the end I paddled my way through the first section that had no grip at all and guessed I had got away with a three but when the results came out it was maximum five (not sure how but that's life). 

The second section was just as bad and I only got a couple of feet in before loosing all forward momentum, so I took a five, backed out and managed to work around the edge. The next section was nigh on impossible and that's the way it went, if this was the easy route I'm glad I wasn't on the hard route. This was full on trials, whereas you normally expect LDTs to be easier, a) due to the long distance and b) they are primarily aimed at trail bikes. I was surprised at the start to see many riders on pukka trials bikes, these are normally banned from LDTs or Classic Trials but it was clear this event was definitely geared towards them. I can only guess it was because this was the first running of this event by what I presume is a predominantly trials club.

After failing on almost every section, and ending up with bike on top of me on one stage, not to mention the constant rain. I threw in the towel at the first fuel stop (couldn't until I got there as I didn't have the range to get back)! I headed back via Hollinsclough for tea and cake at the church hall (well recommended).

Then I got a message from an Argentinian, living in Dunoon in Scotland with an offer on my bike, we haggled a bit and settled on a price we were both happy with and a deposit was paid.

He took the nine hour overnight train (and ferry) trip from Dunoon to pick up the bike the next Sunday. And then promptly rode the nine hour journey home again as he had to be at work on the Monday morning!!!

So off I went to the KTM Centre in Hemel Hempstead and a deal was made on an unregistered 2020 bike from stock, that I got for the 2020 price. A good deal when you consider KTM made no changes for 2021 other than the emissions control changing from Euro 4 to Euro 5 compliant.😀They also threw in the powerparts bash plate for free. I also ordered the spoked wheel set at a discount and with some half decent tyres, the whole package was under £6400. I also picked up a second hand Akrapovič silencer for around half price and when it arrived I would swear it had never been fitted to a bike. It's no louder than the stock silencer but much better looking and a lot lighter.

As it came


With the spoked wheels, new tyres and exhaust fitted

Since then, I've started a new job, spent a great four days at the ABR Festival as Clerk of the Course for the Adventure Trail and started to make a few changes to the bike but more on that next time....