GreenDragon Updates April 2012

I'll probably edit this later, but I just wanted to get some of what's been going on posted so I don't forget!

(had to go read the other post, gee, I've not been keeping up at all!)

Ok, so I have the bike! What I ended up doing was drive the Porsche out to ReCycle, park it, drive the motorcycle home, then later took a taxi out to get the Porsche. You may be wondering why I didn't take a taxi out in the first place? See, in my world, sometimes things don't quite work out exactly right! Just in case there was some snag, I didn't want to take a taxi all the way there, and then have to take a taxi back into town again!

But it worked out just fine. It was about 4C that morning, so kind of cold. The bike took a good while to warm up, plus it had been sitting at least over winter, so the gas was old, it didn't run so great. And as I figured out later, the idle was set way too low, so I stalled it a few times too. Keeping in mind, I haven't been on a motorcycle since I sold the Ninja 600 back in 1994... so I was a bit rusty!

Since it was cold and I wasn't quite up to speed yet, I took the back roads into town, and even got to practice on some gravel!

Basically that first day I just drove it home, parked it, and thawed out for a while. Then I went to work, and after work took a taxi back to get the car. End of day 1, success!

Day 2, after work I took it out for some practice riding. I went north of Edmonton into some new housing areas, found some streets where houses were still being built. This is a good place to practice, really, you don't annoy the neighbors, but the streets are brand new and smooth. Slick right?? So I practiced braking, shifting, and riding really slow, doing turns and figure 8s with out putting my feet down. If you're a biker and haven't done these in a while, take some time and do it, its fun practice, and useful too! I am amazed how many bikers I see gliding up to a stop with both feet down for 40 feet, or dragging their feet on a start. Bad for shoes, and you're not using your back brake if your feet are off the pegs!

So, life was great, but I thought I should go play in the dirt a little bit, since this is a off road capable bike with knobby tires. I see a side road with some dirt and some ruts, turn into it, and in the process of turning around, drop into a rut. Little twist of the throttle, and it just pops right out. Great, no problem. Except I notice my rear tire is now flat. Like all the way flat. Hmmm oops right?

Its about an hour before dark, I'm... not sure where I am, and I have a flat. No spares on motorcycles! Dang. Ok, get off, park, and inspect the situation. Yup, its flat. I can see in between the tire and the wheel, and see the valve stem, but no tube. Weird. Ohh ok, yup, I had managed to tear the stem right out of the tube. There are 2 ways this can happen. If you have a LOT of power, or more likely, if the tire isn't inflated enough. In my happy excitement, I hadn't checked tire pressures. And of course it was cold, and the bike had been parked for months. Dumb right?

Well, now I know why it happened, but what to do next? Oh joy, I remember my Mom payed my membership for the auto club again, so I'll call for a truck to come get me. Turn on the GPS on my phone, figure out approximately where I am, and write that down on a scrap of paper in my back pack. Then call the auto club and tell them my location and that I need a truck to haul a motorcycle. Sure, no problem, she takes down all my info, and says the trucks are busy tonight but they'll be out to get me in a couple hours. Ok cool, thanks.

So I set up camp, eat my trail mix, drink some water, and enjoy the sunset. It really was a pretty night! Mean time I'm wondering how much longer my phone will work, I'm down to about 1 bar on the battery...

Eventually I get the automated call back telling me the driver is on the way. Great, just used up some battery talking to the robot! A few minutes later the tow truck guy calls me to confirm my location as he wasn't able to find me. eeek!

Fortunately he knows of my area, I'm able to give him some land marks I can see, and I find my flash light to be ready to signal when he drives by. Good to be prepared right?

Few more minutes later I see lights turning the corner. You ever notice when its dark, how nice the lights of a tow truck look??

Yay, he found me before the battery goes completely dead on the phone! Life is good!

Takes some time for him to assemble the rig to load the bike, but by now I'm not in a hurry right? I'll try to sketch the rig later, its pretty cool. But briefly, its a front wheel support, with wheels on it. You roll the bike onto the cradle, it grabs the wheel, some straps hold the bike to the rig, and then you just winch the bike up the ramp onto the flat bed. Once its in place, more straps hold everything nice and secure. Obviously they do this enough to have a good system!

So, we get home all safe and sound, and life is good. Oh, and of course, with the auto club, no charge on the tow. Sweet!

Next day I have some time off, so I go buy some new tire tubes (one for the back tire that was flat, and a spare front and a spare rear tube for later) and a set of tire irons. I also go to Princess Auto, and get a motorcycle lift rig. The bike does not have a center stand (YET! will be planning to add one!) and its really awkward to change a tire with no center stand.

From memory, I did have a Clymers book to do the tire repairs, ok? So, lift and support the bike so the rear wheel is off the ground. Remove the rear brake caliper assembly. Tie it out of the way. Take out the cotter pin, remove the axle nut. Pull the axle out, being careful not to lose the spacers, and pay attention to where and which direction they go!

Get the chain tensioners out of the way, and then push the wheel forward and slip the chain off of the sprocket. The wheel should now slide out and you're done the first step!

Lay the wheel down, and then take what you learned from changing bicycle tires / tubes, and up size! Its mostly the same, but now, instead of borrowing some spoons from your mom, you'll use tire irons instead, to pop the tire over the wheel bead. Took me a few tries to decide which way I was going to do it, and I was probably being extra careful on the first one, because I was learning the steps, and trying not to pinch the new tube. Nice to practice a tire change when parked on a paved parking lot, on a sunny day, where I had all my tools near by. The next one will probably be in the dark, in the rain, in the mud, far far away!

So, even with it being the first time, and taking time to read the book for any useful pointers, I had it done and aired back up in about an hour. Next one will be much easier!

Since then, I've gotten more rides in, and am mostly settled into my groove. I feel more confident in my balance and coordination, the brakes are smoother, and I've put in my first tank of new gas. Life is good! I didn't check my mileage on the first tank, since it was old gas, but I'll check it on the next tank.

Little things I've noticed and am working through. The front fairing was crooked, which was making the bike wiggle at high way speeds. Think of it like an airplane with the rudder pushed out. After a few rides it bugged me enough to fix it, so took off the signal lights, a few screws, and the plastic was out of the way. Then a little bit of pry bar love, and now things sit straight again. Next test on the road, and noticeably better!

Buffeting and turbulence. The riding position on the KLR-650 is pretty much straight up, sitting tall in the saddle. The front fairing has a very short windscreen. It probably does break some of the wind, but not much. Anything above 80KM / 50MPH gets windy. So obviously highway time is going to be a factor. There are lots of aftermarket extended windshields available, or I might just make something myself. All that time doing "non metalics" work for the Navy should be worth something!

Twice now the speedometer cable has fallen off. I'm beginning to suspect the bike might have a few more miles on it that what are showing. Its a simple thing to reach in, grab the cable and reattach it.

The bike vibrates A LOT! Its a 1 cylinder 650 cc motor, so there is a lot of motion happening, and not much to smooth it out. For example, on my Ninja, which was a 600 cc motor, it was 4 cylinders, so they were spaced and timed to even out the motion, which made it much smoother. Anything over about an idle and I really can't see anything useful in the mirrors, and after riding a while my fingers are buzzed pretty good. Just something to learn to love I guess!

I think that mostly catches me up!

Next I'll start designing the "cargo" system and other accessories I'll need for the trip. There will be hard panniers for the back, a back box, probably some soft luggage made to hang off the fuel tank, more fuel capacity, and I'll be swapping out the signals and tail lights for LEDs.

Keep Smiling :)

By Carlin Comm posted on 2012-04-26