Monday 30 June 2014

The rally bike build so far....

The build of the Rally bike has been progressing well.....

First stage was to sort the electrics, I moved the fuse box from the back of the navigation tower to the side and loosely fitted the relays for the new lights (see below)

Then came the lights:

Plan A was to adapt the new Dottori fairing to fit round the Laser LED headlamp that came with the bike. However I wasn’t happy with the LED lamp as to be honest it was far too bright for everyday use. Great I guess if you’re doing an event like the Dawn to Dusk but as I’m not I had the problem of dazzling everyone if I used it whilst out trail riding!

Plan B was to fit a standard KTM headlight into the Dottori fairing as it is designed for one but  I would have to buy a newer model headlight than the one I have got and this would also need some major chopping of the navigation tower as it was just too close behind the fairing for the headlight to fit.

Then I came up with Plan C….

I’ve always like the look of the KTM 450RR with it’s stacked headlights so decided to aim for a similar look…

But how to do it on the cheap?

The answer was two projector style fog lamps, £32.99 from eBay, mounted one above the other:

And this gave me a chance to finish off the wiring

Additional work carried out at this point included moving the light switches from a toggle switch mounted on the Road Book holder mount, to a more conventional switch positioned on the left hand bar, This gave me a switch that gives off, dip and main. It also means that when I remove the navigation gear for UK Rallies, I don't have to remount the switch every time.

This switch comes with a kill switch as well as the light switch but I used that instead as a horn button, also putting that back in a conventional position as it had been on the right hand bar.

Now that too has been neatened up with just a start and a kill switch side by side.

Then I did a few bits of tidying up like wiring up the high beam indicator light and cable tying the cables to neaten everything up.

Then I turned to my fairing, the brackets were fairly simple, some aluminium strap to make a top front mount above the headlights, and two side support stays.

Not looking bad, all I needed to do was cut the holes for the headlamps and get it painted.

The last time I rode the bike, I was cleaning it and noticed a fair bit of play in the rear wheel bearings.

So that was next job on the list, surprisingly easy to change but it does help that I bought a new head bearing installation tool recently that has a driver that is also the perfect size for the wheel bearings. Certainly easier than the CCM but then that does have three bearings in the back wheel.

I definitely think they had reached the end of their life!!!

One other modification I made was to the bars, the riding position was almost right but a little bit low for me as I do prefer to use bar risers.

Mike had thrown in some bar risers in my box of bits but they looked to be a bit taller than I wanted.

Then I spotted the solution! Sitting in the garage is the CCM and I noticed the bars have a slightly higher bend. So the EXC now wears its Renthal Fat Bars…. result!

Last job of this stage was to fit the additional rear fuel tank, fairly easy once I had found the instructions on the internet.

Saturday 28 June 2014

A very nice weekend indeed!

Had a great weekend last week at the HUBB UK Meet at Donington Park Farm, met lots of friends from both motorcycle and 4x4 worlds. The weather certainly helped with sunshine all weekend. Although it was an overland travel event, I spotted a few rally bikes, well riding in rallies is "travelling overland" isn't it!

A very nice KTM 690 on the Rally Raid Products stand, this one is not a rally bike
as it's in "adventure" spec

Rally Raid Product's LC4-50 project, a 450 conversion of a 690
designed as an affordable option for the Dakar Rally

Ollie Lloyd's 450 Speedbrain 450 fresh from the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

A tidy looking 450EXC parked next to my tent, the owner had ridden over from Northern Island. I was particularly interested in the Wolfman luggage, that gave me ideas that I could possible do longer trips on my 450?

Two of my favourite bikes of the weekend. Honda monkey bikes!
Mark "Moly" Molineux's Interesting take on a rally bike, based on a 250cc Portuguese AJP

A close up of Moly's bike

Ollie's Speedbrain again

Friday 13 June 2014

Just when you thought it was safe to go outside.... I'm back!

Yes, after my resolution to try and keep the blog more regular, I go and disappear off the face of the web (well sort of) for five months!

Without going into a long boring explanation, I've just been getting on with life but for a variety of reasons my rally racing experiences, which after all is what this blog was supposed to be all about has been on a bit of a go slow of late. So the short version....

Let's just say it has been a combination of breakdowns of my 990 Adventure that have taken up most of my workshop time. That, also combined with an old shoulder injury that has decided to play up, recovering from my hip injury from last year and a period as a patient of the NHS (instead of just as an employee), has seriously limited my riding time too. Oh yes and there was the little matter of being made redundant in March and although I was able to secure another job in the same team, doing the same work, it is at a lower grade so has seriously reduced the money I have available to spend on my toys (and not helped by the 990 doing it's best to reduce my bank balance). Despite all this I have been getting on with life in general and even managed to get out on some dates, now that I'm young, free and single again (OK I lied about one of those)!!!

This morning I wheeled the 990 out of the garage (now all fixed and running very sweetly) to clear blue skies, warm temperatures and being Friday, hopefully not too busy roads (they weren't).

So already feeling good, I took a cross country route across to the A1 and shortly after leaving the village of Cople, I took the sweeping left hander at Deadman's Oak and wound on the power as I crested a small rise in the road before a long straight of nearly a mile down to Northill. As the bike hit the crest, the front wheel lifted a couple of inches of it's own volition and with a barely perceptible shake of the bars, thundered off down the straight bringing a huge grin to my face and a big jolt of adrenaline into my bloodstream.... it's times like this that I remember just why I ride bikes!

A some point on my journey, the thought popped into my head... "I must start up the blog again", so here I am at lunchtime, back to my old drivel.

Despite what I have written above, the Rally Bike project is making progress and I will be updating you over the next few posts but for next weekend, I'm off to the HUBB UK meet at Donnington Park Farmhouse. The premier on-line resource for the overland community, whether on two, three or more wheels, pedal or engine powered, the HUBB (Horizons Unlimited Bulletin Board) forum is a great place for advice and information but has also spawned a number of events across the world. The UK event comprises presentations, traders stands, films, camping and a chance to meet up with like minded travellers, friends and get inspiration.

It is run over four days, although I will only be attending for two and this is my first time at the event. Rather than just turn up as a paying punter, I was interested in the chance to volunteer to help out at the event. After registering on-line, I clicked on the volunteering link to see what options were available. OK so helping out welcoming new arrivals most probably wasn't good for someone who has never been before and hasn't got a clue how it actually runs. Being part of the clean up crew didn't really appeal either, nor did helping out with presentations where a degree of IT competence was expected! But I did spot two things I can do, first aid and photography.

So duly signed up, I receive an email asking for a copy of my first aid qualification and explaining that I'd be expected to do a couple of stints, where I get given a radio to be on call but would be free to do my own thing at the event... sounds good to me. The photography was even better, as I was going to be taking my camera anyway, the instructions asked me to try and get some photos showing the real spirit of the event, then all I have to do afterwards is submit my 30 best shots, that might then be used on the HUBB website or in promoting the next event... sounds pretty simple to me, I just need to remember to keep things in focus!

Until next time dear readers.......