Monday, 19 March 2018

There no business like snow business

With all the snow it’s not been a great time for biking and a couple of ear infections leading to severe vertigo didn't help either but I have managed to get out occasionally. Current focus being another Road Book Caper for Rallymoto, this one running from Torque Racing in Cambridgeshire and taking in lanes in both Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.

The 450 EXC got its final outing to recce the route before MOT time just in case it didn't pass and needed some work. To be honest it could have done with a new set of tyres as a few days of rain had left the lanes near to the Torque Racing HQ extremely slippery but it coped by taking things easy, which when reconnoitring a road book is the norm anyway.

Unlike my last Road Book Caper, this one has been designed as three separate loops, returning each time to Torque for checkpoints, therefore making it much easier to manage and no hanging around in freezing cold laybys or petrol station forecourts for the support crew waiting for riders. The distance has also been cut from 170km to around 130km as the last one took some riders too long and the route had to be cut, although the clocks going forward the night before will give us an extra hour of daylight to play with. Let’s hope everyone remembers and doesn’t turn up an hour late!

The other advantage  of this type of design is it means keeping the route much tighter with a few cross overs and even a few two way tracks, so riders are far more likely to see each other on the way round, hopefully making this Road Book Social, a bit more “Social”.

The bike sailed through it's MOT so I needn't have worried and the next day I was out on the lanes again for the final recce...

Monday, 19 February 2018

Notes on 690 ownership Part 1

Having owned the 690 for a just over two months and having got the snow and Christmas out of the way, I’m riding it more often and starting to fine tune it to my liking but it hasn't all been plain sailing.

So far the temporary arrangement holding the rack and top box on is working OK so I must get round to converting it into a more permanent solution. and I’ve added a connector to the bike for my heated jacket to keep mobile in the cold weather 

As previous mentioned the dip beam was set far too high and was blinding oncoming traffic, adjusting this meant having to remove the adjustable screen but as I had found it uncomfortable in all positions, I decided to remove altogether... 



No more buffeting and although this now means I’m sitting in the wind blast, the clean airflow over my helmet is much quieter. 

I also got a pleasant surprise when I discovered the dip beam is in fact an H.I.D. (High Intensity Discharge) unit. no wonder it is so bright.

The bike also got a trip to the Peak District and acquitted itself well on the green roads apart from the first couple that were muddy, did I mention the tyres are rubbish in mud!

Then the bike let me down, cutting out and refusing to start on the way to work. after a short while it came back to life only to do the same thing on the way home at the exact same roundabout! This time it wouldn't restart so Grainne and Caitlin came to my rescue in the van, the RAC having quoted me three hours for recovery. Back to the dealers it went and a corroded connector was found leading to the fuel pump and duly replaced. all seemed well.... for two days!

When it did exactly the same thing! Again the RAC quoted me three hours so as I was only 9 miles away, I got a taxi home and got the van myself

Back to the dealers again and this time they found the spark plug cap was broken inside, easily sorted and now running fine.

I have a few more plans such as heated grips, a better (i.e. smaller and lighter) top box solution and a replacement right hand mirror as it keeps folding in the slipstream.

Friday, 5 January 2018

New bike news

Since taking delivery of my new (to me) KTM 690 Enduro not a lot has happened on the motorbike front due to a combination of snow fall, Christmas, New Year and high winds!

Well a few things have happened in the garage…

First off I wanted to fit my old Metal Mule top box for when I ride to work, although the bike has Touratech Zega panniers, they are mahoosively wide (not good for traffic) and have no locks fitted. The top box had previously been fitted to my 990 Adventure and I had the Metal Mule, tubular steel rack to suit that attaches with four bolts. It just so happens the flat aluminium rack on the 690 attaches to the pannier frames with four bolts. But yes you guessed right; they don’t line up at all!

However I did note the rack on the bike had four holes in the same pattern as the 990 rack, obviously being designed to fit that model too. So why not just bolt one rack to the other, in effect using the aluminium rack as an adapter. Unfortunately the rack is of a size where the rear edge prevents the top box mount from fitting round the MM rack and of course adds unnecessary weight. The 690 has a plastic sub frame (also the standard fuel tank), so the weight of the rack/top box is borne by the pannier frames and as a result I wanted to keep extra weight to a minimum.

OK so I could trim a piece off the rear of the rack but whilst pondering this I realised I could cut the 4 mm thick rack down to make a much smaller and lighter adaptor. But this would be a waste of the rack that could potentially be re-sold, at which point I remembered I had some 3 mm aluminium plate in the garage, so using the aluminium rack as a guide I created an adaptor plate, just large enough as required.

This seems to be working well although there is some movement in the top box but largely due to gaps between its mounts and the rack, I had the same problem on the 990 and cured it with some pieces of inner tube wrapped round the rack in appropriate places. In the meantime this is causing a bit of movement in the adaptor plate which could cause a fracture in the aluminium, so a “cable tie engineering solution” has been employed to attach the MM rack to the Touratech pannier frames, a bit Heath Robinson but in the event of a fracture it will prevent the top box disappearing down the road!

I’m also thinking of replacing the aluminium adaptor with a steel plate to guard against the risk of fracture or possibly using a thicker piece of aluminium… stand by for Mk 2

I did get out for a ride on the Saturday before Christmas over to my sister’s, which also included a few byways (see picture at top) and I discovered a few things…
  • The Metzeller Sahara tyres are great on the road, reasonable on gravel and hard pack and totally shite in mud.

  • The bike pulls monster wheelies on the throttle in second gear without much provocation – I’d better be a bit gentler on the throttle in future!
  • The dip beam in the Lynx fairing is excellent but was set much too high so I got regularly flashed by motorists on the way home in the dark; next job sort out the headlight.

And what of Grainne’s new Freeride 250? It has been waiting for the rear shock to be rebuilt and the lower seat to arrive so she wasn’t able to pick it up before the KTM Centre closed over Christmas and the New Year but watch this space.....