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... 


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.