Wednesday 18 February 2015

Busy, busy, busy....

I've been a bit busy with bike preparation so haven't had the chance to update lately!
As previously reported the Rally Experience Weekend never happened due to the weather, which is a shame but I guess the risk of breaking something (either me or the bike) this close to the Tuareg was a good enough reason not to go schlepping round Wales in the ice and snow.
And as mentioned I took the opportunity to start the preparatory maintenance, which is still on-going but I have to date:
  • Replaced wheel bearings in both front wheels.
  • Replaced the wheel bearings in my spare rear wheel
  • Fitted a disc and speedo magnet to the spare front wheel
  • Replaced the steering head bearings
  • Had the swing arm bearings and lower shock mount replaced (I couldn't get them to move in the end so entrusted the job to Torque Racing).
  • Changed oil and filters
  • Fitted new front brake pads
  • Cleaned the current air filter
  • Replaced and re-routed the front brake hose
  • Fitted new handlebars (Renthall RC High Fat Bars)
  • Re-wired the light switches
  • Stripped off the graphics ready for re-stickering
  • Fitted a Scotts Steering Damper (a second hand bargain)
  • Fitted new foam rally grips
  • Fitted extended foot pegs
  • Fitted a new gear lever (old one strapped to the frame as a spare 
Still to do is:
  • Fit rear brake pads
  • Replace brake fluid in rear brake and bleed
  • Refill front brake fluid and bleed
  • Fit new chain and sprockets
  • Check and adjust the valve clearances
  • Oil the seven spare air filters, roll them and seal in zip lock bags (one for every day of the rally plus one spare to tuck in the space behind the air box)
  • Replace a threaded insert that stripped in the frame tube under the engine that holds the bash plate on
  • Fit new tyres and mousses to the original wheels.
  • Finish rebuilding the whole thing (not forgetting to put thread lock on every bolt)!
And one other non essential job that I'll do if I get the time is:
  • Build a new mounting for the tail light and replace tail light and a new LED "dust light" as previously mentioned (the current lights work OK so I won't lose sleep if I don't get round to it).
And I'm sure I'll find a dozen other things to do.... It never ends!!!

 Looking a bit sparse at this stage

 Shiny things! New Handlebars and steering damper

 Slowly going back together!
Yesterday I popped into the KTM Centre to collected my sponsored goodies, they are still sitting in a very large cardboard box, so tonight I'll drag them out and give them a try.

Thursday 5 February 2015

Sponsors? Blimey it's getting serious!

Well we got some snow the other night, about 2-3cm in Bedfordshire so nothing to write home about!

Needless to say the Land Rover barely even noticed it on my journey to work!

One of the disappointing results of the weather is that the Rally Experience weekend was cancelled. The course was snow bound in places but more crucially very low temperatures were experienced, which resulted in dangerously icy mountain roads.

However I also got some great news in that I have a sponsor!

This resulted from a recent trip to the KTM Centre in Hemel Hempstead with Team Manager/Grease Monkey John, we were looking at riding gear and John asked if I had considered getting a neck brace. As noted before I had considered this and although there is still some debate over their effectiveness, the reasoning is fairly convincing and since they have been almost universally adopted in Down Hill Mountain Biking, I must admit I don't recall anyone suffering any cervical spine injuries. Lots of other stuff obviously but neck injuries do seem to have been absent from the people I've helped haul off mountain sides in the last few years.

But my biggest reason for not going down this route is the cost, with a Leatt neck brace being nearly £300 but of course it doesn't stop there, as it wouldn't fit with my current body armour, as it's too high on the shoulders and back, so a matching set of armour from Leatt is another £180, then there's the jacket, as to work best you need one with a collar designed to go with a neck brace, that's another £150-£200.

So imagine my surprise when John suggested his company First Response might sponsor me to the tune of a neck brace, new body armour and a rally jacket!

The good news is that John's fellow directors have now agreed to this and we have a deal!

Mark at the KTM Centre was also kind enough to work out a discounted price for the items, so I guess that's a bit more "sponsorship" in a way, blimey I'm starting to feel like a professional racer.... OK not really.

So I guess this means I'm going to have to get some stickers made up for the bike to advertise my supporters!

The cancellation of the event last weekend did give me the chance to carry out some maintenance on the bike that I had planned to do anyway afterwards. An oil and filter change was first on the cards and I had meant to check the valve clearances, which of course requires a cold engine but forgot to do this before I had warmed the engine up for the oil change. I also discovered I have an 18mm spark plug spanner but the KTM uses a 16mm plug, something else to buy. And yes you can do the valve clearances without taking the spark plug out but it makes it a heck of a lot easier.

I also stripped off all the bodywork to give the bike a thorough clean and cleaned the air filter whilst I was at it. Then I started to tidy up the wiring that I had just thrown together for the Bakery Off Road run in December.

Final job was to replace the swinging arm bearings, this is proving a bit more difficult as so far all attempts to draw out the old bearings has failed. The swinging arm is now sitting with the bearings soaking in oil to try and get them to move!