Sunday, May 31, 2015

Stealth Trip

We just got back from a stealth motocamping weekend somewhere up the mountains!

There was very little advance notice, almost no preparation, we just loaded up a few things on the bikes and went for it - great!

There is a small avionics issue with the terrifying R45000, but Witold has it under control. His face is edited out of the photo to hide the effing and blinding:

I pushed the Honda harder than I normally do, "cruising" at a steady 4.000 rpm, but the engine responded really well. Look how glorious it looks in the wild:

Well done Honda, what a wonderful "little" bike you are!

Friday, May 29, 2015

A graceful balance.

There is no reason for the Honda's balancing act depicted below other than to illustrate something ingenious, which dad discovered when he was getting new tires fitted (thanks for that, by the way!).

If you look closely, there is a sturdy metal loop welded to the right-hand underside of the frame, this is true for all of the "mono-backbone" Hondas (FX, or Vigor, SLR and FMX).

I had noticed it in the past and wondered what it was for, but never would I have guessed its true purpose: since you can't lift the bike on a jack or platform using 'Y' stands, and since the engine cradle part of the undercarriage is not flat and doesn't allow for a secure lifting point (go on, ask me how I know this...), that loop is there as a stand, which together with the retracted side-stand, means you can lift the bike safely to get the wheels off the ground. So neat.

On the left hand side, the side stand bracket has been designed so that the part which acts as a stop for the actual side stand, also provides a sturdy counterpoint to the aforementioned loop. Really, this is so neat!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Keep it rubber-side down.

New tires were sorely needed on the Honda, as the Pirellis it was wearing were way past their prime.
They were perfectly decent tires, but almost exclusively for asphalt/tarmac/blacktop (whatever you wanna call it).
I wanted something more suited to a bit of dirt, nothing extreme of course but the occasional dirt road up to a campsite, that kind of thing.
While I would have gone for Heidenau K60 Scouts (currently my favourite tire), I was pleasantly surprised by the Dunlop Trailmax that dad picked up:

The tread pattern looks good, they are very neutral on the road and I'm looking forward to the next dirt road to see what they're like. For a dual purpose tire, they're also very quiet on the road.

Yes, the bike is filthy at the moment... and I kinda like it that way. That said, I'll give it a bath soon, it can actually look quite cool when it's all clean.

Monday, May 18, 2015

order's up!

Ok, let's see what we have here:

The Interstate gets a new brake-and-sprocket cast iron monolith, new shoes and optimistically named cush drive rubbers. We'll also replace the chain, I think we'll go for a Regina Serie Oro, which is an ok chain, not great, but ok.

Witold's mean green machine gets new exhaust gaskets and a rubber bung for the top yoke. It keeps losing these, so we need to find a way to secure it this time. 

The other exhaust gaskets are either for my Fastback or for Gianluca's Dominator, we'll see who needs them first.

And I need to replace my exhaust lockrings when I put the engine back together, more on that soon.

Friday, May 15, 2015

A tricky situation.

When I first started riding motorcycles, it was on small capacity, single cylinder bikes. I loved having a motorcycle, but I couldn't wait to get on the Norton Commando. I wanted more power and more torque. Especially the latter, it was (and still is) never enough. While I'm not entirely consumed by top horsepower figures like most modern motorcylists, I must admit that I have thoroughly lost sight of the carefree joys of small capacity motorcycles. The Yamaha Tricker takes you back to school:

Dad finished putting together this surprisingly fun little bike, after he had pretty much stripped it down to just the frame and engine. All the wiring came out for inspection, cleaning and an entire day spent re-routing it through the frame. The paint on the frame was touched up where needed, a few bushes and bearings were replaced, the front fork was thoroughly serviced, as was the carburetter. Certain smaller parts (e.g. the pillion footrest holders, the headlamp bracket, the mirror stems, the throttle housing and the handlebar) were sandblasted and powder-coated.

Now look, this engine was built for fuel economy and reliability, so it's not going to tear up the road with sheer horsepower, BUT there is plenty of pulling power to navigate the urban landscape and, in that context, I can't think of a single situation that the Yamaha wouldn't be able to overcome.

If at first it might seem like something's missing, both in terms of engine performance and physical size of the bike, that feeling goes away within a few hundred meters, and certainly by the time you tackle the first corner: that's when you realise one of the greatest assets of this bike. Not just lightness, or narrowness, or the fact that it's nimble... but the combination of all of that with an extremely wide handlebar. If you try to steer this bike as if it were a big bike you will drop it, that's how insanely reactive it is. I'm still re-learning how much pressure to apply to handlebar and footrests, how much countersteer it needs (none) but the point is that the agility this thing has will allow you to go anywhere and never get stuck in traffic again.
It jumps over kerbs with no effort whatsoever, opening up all sorts of parking possibilities.

The turning radius is so ample that you can navigate at more than 90° turns between gridlocked, bumper-to-bumper idiots and zip to the front of the line in a few seconds, while the guys on huge adventure bikes, gigantic mega-scooters and 200hp sports bikes are stuck between SUVs and hybrids, wondering why they can't zig-zag like you just did.

But above all, this is a highly addictive ride, I was honestly surprised by how much fun it is. Well done Yamaha, and well done dad for getting this thing back on the road!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Dear Engineers,

brace yourselves. I know that cylinder head is filthy, I do apologise.

I can't wait to find out what went wrong with it, if it was indeed a valve guide and if it was on the exhaust side of cylinder 1 as I suspect.

More importantly, I can't wait to get this thing back and bolt it down on the bike. I know the boys will do a fantastic job and that (provided I fit it correctly) the Norton will run better than ever.

Incidentally, that weight reading (17.5lbs / 7.94kg) is for the complete cylinder head and all components and valve covers (plus packing).

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A note on carburation.

Before I shipped the cylinder head off to SRM, I took a couple of photos of the combustion chambers and sparking plugs electrodes, as a litmus of what carburation is like with the current set up.

A little rich perhaps, but judging by how smoothly it was running (despite the as-of-yet unidentified problem), and by how even the dark hazelnut colour is, I'd say I can leave the carburetters alone and just bolt them back on when the cylinder head returns. At least I got that right...

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What indeed...

I've sent my cylinder head off to SRM, it was the right thing to do.

I did not examine it myself, for two reasons: first, and most crucial, I just do not have the time. It's a small miracle that I managed to wrench on the Norton at all. Second, it will give the engineers a chance to look at it as an assembly first, then dig into it and see what they find:

Monday, May 4, 2015

Illegal muscle enhancement.

A while back, our friend Witold acquired a BMW R45 as a restoration project.
It wasn't a basket case insofar as it was all in one piece that looked like a complete motorcycle... but there was some work to do.
While the bike had obviously not been used very much (low miles, nothing out of place, undisturbed original cable ties), it must have been abandoned and never used again for a long, long time. And given that Witold just happened to have a 1000cc engine lying around, the whole thing was pretty much a foregone conclusion.
He quickly, quietly, secretly set to work, secluded in his dark domain, conjuring up all sorts of unholy things to help him in his quest. The bike was ripped apart, fluids spilling everywhere, a blood-curdling affair not for the faint of heart.
All that could be seen or heard in amongst the insidious wisps of a malevolent mist down the shadowy corridor outside the garage were the sound of a hacksaw through metal, fluttering leathery wings, the flickering light of a welder, hot as the sun itself, yet cold and unforgiving at the same time; and the whispered, half-heard summons of dark legions in a forgotten language unfit for the human tongue. 
Unknown components of the electrical system were examined, fixed or replaced. The master cylinder was overhauled and put back together, as were the rear shock absorbers. The frame was sandblasted and resprayed, all bearings replaced and the driveshaft serviced.
And then, in a scene that would surely have driven even the most steadfast of men to complete Lovecraftian madness, he swapped out the engine!
If the photos that follow are unorganised and seemingly incongruous, it is only to convey the sense of unwholesome frenzy that brought forth this beast into our world.
Now behold the R45000, and despair!