Sunday, 17 January 2021

2003 Triumph Tiger 955i Winter Maintenance Continued

Winter Maintenance List:

Front end chassis maintenance:

Rear end chassis maintenance:

Got the backend back together yesterday:

Today it's the rear brake caliper going back on with new HEL brake line, then a brake bleed and if I have some extra time I'll finish up all the hardware bits and pieces on the front and rear and then turn to the engine.

The fuel injectors are coming out and getting ultrasonically cleaned and the rest of the system's getting a flush.

The odds and ends went together well.  Even the brakes were quick to bleed, so with the wheels back on and the new brake lines installed I turned to the fuel injection.

The injectors highlighted in yellow above are press fit in and just pull out of  the throttle body and the fuel rail behind.

The fuel rail is held in by clips and two bolts holding it in place relative to the throttle body.

The whole thing just pops out when you've undone the two bolts.

With the fuel injectors so easy to remove, I'll be quicker at cleaning them in the future.

Ultrasonic cleaners aren't expensive and do a great job on fuel injectors.

Cleaning doesn't take long if you remove the rail and injectors.

Ultrasonic cleaning gets into the small places.

The injectors press fit back into the throttle body with a beefy o-ring to seal them.

My fuel-line replacements for unavailable replacement rubber hoses for the vacuum driven idle control system (on the right) scored a two out of three.  The far one on the left got kinked, so I cut back the hose and I'll see how it does shortened.  If that doesn't work I'll start looking for stronger walled alternatives.

Monday, 11 January 2021

CBR900RR Chainguard DIY

The 1997 Honda CBR900RR didn't come with a chainguard, so I thought I'd 3d model one, but I wasn't sure what they looked like, so I did a bit of research.

Honda used the same chainguard on all the mid-late 90s CBRs, so if I can find a CBR600 F2 or F3 or a CBR900, they'd all fit.  If I can't find one I'll cabricate one.

Honda CASE, DRIVE CHAIN (CBR chainguard)

Part # 40510-KY2-700

This Honda 40510-KY2-700 CASE, DRIVE CHAIN (A) fits the following models and components:

Honda Motorcycle 1997 CBR900RR A Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1997 CBR900RR AC Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1996 CBR600SJR AC Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1996 CBR600SJR A Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1999 CBR900RR A Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1996 CBR600F3 AC - SUPER SPORT Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1996 CBR600F3 A - SUPER SPORT Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1992 CBR600F2 AC - SUPER SPORT Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1998 CBR600F3 AC Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1998 CBR600F3 A Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1997 CBR600F3 AC Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1997 CBR600F3 A Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1995 CBR900RR A Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1995 CBR900RR AC Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1994 CBR600F2 A - SUPER SPORT Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1991 CBR600F2 AC - SUPER SPORT Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1999 CBR900RR AC Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1994 CBR600F2 AC - SUPER SPORT Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1991 CBR600F2 A - SUPER SPORT Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1993 CBR900RR A Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1993 CBR900RR AC Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1996 CBR900RR AC Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1996 CBR900RR A Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1995 CBR600F3 AC - SUPER SPORT Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1995 CBR600F3 A - SUPER SPORT Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1994 CBR900RR AC Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1994 CBR900RR A Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1993 CBR600F2 A - SUPER SPORT Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1998 CBR900RR A Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1998 CBR900RR AC Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1998 CBR600SE AC - SMOKIN' JOE'S EDITION Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1998 CBR600SE A - SMOKIN' JOE'S EDITION Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1992 CBR600F2 A - SUPER SPORT Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 1993 CBR600F2 AC - SUPER SPORT Swingarm
Honda Motorcycle 2000 RVT1000R AC - RC51 SWINGARM ('00-'01)
Honda Motorcycle 2000 RVT1000R A - RC51 SWINGARM ('00-'01)
Honda Motorcycle 2001 RVT1000R AC - RC51 SWINGARM ('00-'01)
Honda Motorcycle 2001 RVT1000R A - RC51 SWINGARM ('00-'01)
Stock Honda Chainguard (above)

An alternate design for the same bike:

14cms between the mounting holes on the swingarm.

Print that scaled to a 14cm on-centre gap between the mounting holes and it should fit like a glove.  Time to see if we can fabricate something!

Here's the STL file if you want to mess around with 3d printing your own chainguard:  

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Triumph Tiger 955i Swingarm Installation

It's my first time doing a motorcycle swingarm so I knew it would be a learn-as-I-go experience.  Today I reinstalled the swingarm and that was definitely a case of learning as I go.  I hope this post saves you a lot of swearing because I've already done it for you.

I had to lever the swingarm out with a tire iron, it's a tight fit in the frame.  Removing it was tricky but reasonably straightforward with the some leverage between the engine and the swingarm.

Undoing the top bolt on the shock was a bugger (it's in an awkward spot inside the frame) but small motions over and over again eventually got it loose.  The Chilton manual says to remove the exhaust system entirely (which also means the oil cooler and radiator), but that seemed like a big faff.  Adrian Molloy .com had some good advice: instead of taking half the bike apart just take the swingarm out with the rear shock attached then dismantle it off the bike.  Not sure what Chilton's thinking was in removing half the motor to get the swingarm out, but removing the rear shock with it is a much more efficient approach.

I cleaned up surface rust on the top of the rear shock and rust painted it.  After cleaning the unit it was still in good shape otherwise so I let the paint dry overnight and then aimed to service the swingarm and reinstall it today, which turned out to be a bugger of a job.  The right side sleeve in the swingarm pivot wasn't turning but the left side came out easily and still had grease on it.  I lightly heated the swingarm and tapped it through with a 15mm socket bit that fit the sleeves perfectly.  I then cleaned them up and got the bearings turning before looking them over.  Once freed up they got a thorough cleaning and re-greasing using the Mobil XHP222 grease Triumph recommends.  The stuff that came off wasn't the same colour (dark red instead of grey), so I suspect whoever was in there last just threw on whatever they had on hand.

Installing the swingarm was another bugger of a job. It's a tight fit and has thin washers that sit between the swingarm and the frame.  They move around when you're trying to squeeze the swingarm into the frame and drive you around the bend.  You can see them in that picture in the middle.  Every time you squeeze the swingarm in it pushes the washers out of place.  I put a 14mm socket in which holds them in place, but it's a finicky process that I just couldn't get right.

What finally did work was loosening the engine mount nut below the swingarm that holds the frame so tight to the swingarm.  Loosen that off and you can install the big through bolt into the the left side of the frame with that side's washer in place and then thread it through the swingarm.  Once the engine mount bolt is loosened off you can the slide the wash in on the other side and then finish pushing the big swingarm retaining bolt though before tightening everything up again.  Needless to say, I greased the hell out of all that too.

There might be a way to install the swingarm with those fussy washers another way, but it was beyond me and I was running out of expletives.  Loosening off the engine bolt is a top tip for swingarm installation.

I'd also recommend you do the swingarm service if you haven't as mine was essentially seized on one side even though it was in good shape otherwise.  I think the bike's going to feel much more responsive as a result thanks to all the chassis lubrication and maintenance I've been doing this winter.  Below is what that engine mount nut looks like (above the exhaust and under the swingarm).  Loosen that off and the swingarm installation is straightforward.

The lower bolt that holds the shock in place on the swingarm is always awkward as it lines up with the exhaust pipe (which is probably why Chilton wants you to remove the whole exhaust system along with the radiator and oil cooler necessitated by that).  Since the rear shock just drops out with the swingarm that seems like a wrong headed way to do it, but what do I know?  Once it's out the lower bolt for the shock is easy to access.

Everything is moving freely and easily back on the bike.  My weekend's up but I'm hoping I can get the back wheel on this week and finalize all the bits and pieces on both the front and back ends.  That'll end the chassis maintenance portion of our program which included:
  • front fork removal, cleanup and new fork oil
  • reconditioned the fork gaiters (was going to replace them but reconditioning did the trick)
  • triple tree removal, cleanup and regreasing
  • swingarm removal
  • rear shock cleanup and reconditioning
  • cleanup and regreasing of swingarm pivot 
Unmentioned but something I also did while things were in pieces were the brake lines that now have new, custom Hel performance brake lines on them.  They look fantastic, installed well (the kit had all the hardware including new hollow bolts as well as washers) and make a nice, not-so-subtle (they're SUPER ORANGE and disco blue) upgrade to the brakes.  They should offer better response than the stretched, old rubber hoses that were original to the seventeen year old Tiger.

When you've got the front end out installing the brake lines is easy.  Same with the back end, so why not do it while access is easy?  The brake fluid was due a change anyway as I last did it in 2017, so the lines weren't that expensive because the bike would have been getting new DOT4 fluid anyway.

Some advice on brake fluid:  don't buy a big bottle as once you've opened it time is ticking because the stuff absorbs moisture.  Just get what you need and no more.  Keep it sealed when you're not using it and use it as quickly as you can.  I'm about half way through a normal sized bottle of DOT4 having bled the front brakes.  I should be able to bleed the rears on that one bottle and then not have the rest going off.

To dos this week include:
  • install the newly rear tired rim on the swingarm
  • finish the rear brake line install and bleed it (can't do that until the caliper's back on the disk)
  • go over all the fasteners front and rear and make sure they're all torqued up right
Once the chassis is sorted out I'll turn to the engine and go over the fuel injectors.  I think I can ultrasonically clean them in my new cleaner.  This isn't my first rodeo with the fuel system (it had issues last summer), so I'm hoping a deep service in the cold of a Canadian winter means my too-short riding season will be spent riding instead of swearing at faulty fuel injection in 2021.  No intermittent stalling this year!

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

DIY Motorcycle Tires

My first go at motorcycle tires way back with the Concours left me with a staggering dealer bill for nearly $700 for two tires installed.  That made me a bit jumpy about moto-tire changes.  Last time around I did a pair of Michelin Anakee 3s on my Triumph Tiger.  For that one I purchased the tires online and got them installed at my local shop.  That cut the cost down to just over five hundred bucks for two tires installed which is the way to go if you don't want to get your hands dirty, though I still did in both cases because I had to take the tires off the bike to get the professionals to do the job.

This time around I thought I'd order in the tires and do them myself.  I did a lot of tire changes as the tire guy at Canadian Tire during my misspent youth and know the process, but I don't have any of the pneumatic tools at home that made the job quick and easy.  A good piece of advice came from buddy Jeff, who suggested it's a good idea for anyone who rides to do their own tires at least once so you're not doing them on the side of the road for the first time, or getting taken to the cleaner by a shade tree mechanic who sees you coming from a mile away.

Doing tires by hand is easy if you do a couple of things to help the process.

Make sure you've got your direction of travel
worked out - bike tires aren't obvious in terms of
direction of rotation like cars are.  I should have
looked at which side the speedometer was on
but got distracted by just getting the new tire on.

When I couldn't get the old tires off at home I took them in to school and the auto-shop teacher and I did the job, but in the process of putting the tires on we must have got the front turned around and ended up installing it backwards.

It was a sweaty job the first time so I wasn't looking forward to doing it all over again, except this time I had a couple of tricks in hand to help things along.

Tire Installing Hack One:

Warm up the tire! It's Canadian winter here and cold tires are way harder to take off and put on.  This time around I left the tire on the rim on a heat vent by the front door before taking it out to the garage.

Warm tires are much more malleable and easy to dismount and mount.  If you're working in a cold garage this becomes doubly important.

Tire Installing Hack Two:

Use a lubricant to help the tire slip on the rim.  We used soap and water in the shop at school but I had an old bottle of Armour All sitting in the garage and used that to great effect.  A moisturised tire stretches more willingly and pops off the bead and back on again much easier than a dry one, and Armour All did the trick even better than soap and water.

Tire Installing Hack Three:

Be especially careful about inner tube placement if you've got them in your tires.  Pinching one can take you all the way back to step one again.  It's easy to get them seated inside the rim well away from the bead, but if you rush you can make problems for yourself.

Tire Installing Hack Four:

Save yourself the costs and logistical headaches of getting your new tires in for balancing by using Counteract Balancing Beads.  I've used the balance bead kits in tubeless tires with excellent results, so this time I got the Counteract inner tubes that include the beads inside.

I've installed bead kits into inner tubes before but it's a fiddly process (easy on tubeless tires though).  The kit that included new inner tubes for my 17 year old ones was a good choice that wasn't much more expensive than a new inner tube without the built in balancing.  Don't be skeptical about Counteract bead, they work!

Tire Installing Hack Five:

Get yourself some good tire spoons.  I got this Neiko long handled spoon set from Amazon and they've been good tools.  They're tough, built to purpose and the long handle gives you ample leverage.  At only $35 for three long handled spoons and the rim protectors, it's also an inexpensive way to make a hard job easier.

Using the first spoon to pry the tire off the rim, you can then work your way along keeping one in to hold the tire off the rim while the other two work together to work the edge of the tire off.  Soon enough (especially if things are warm and lubed), you've got the tire free.  They've installed 3 tires already (the front one twice) and still look brand new.

Thirty-five bucks in tools and a couple of common sense steps and this time around my tire change cost me $460 which included the two Michelin Anakees and Counteract beads delivered to my door.  Looking at those Michelins that cost me a fortune dealer installed way back when, I can see the same tires with Counteract beads delivered to my door for $462, or about $240 less than what I paid four years ago.

DIY tires are the way to go as long as you've got the right tools and know the tricks.  And if you're ever struck on the side of the road you'll know how to get into them and patch up the inner tube because the mystery will be gone.

Saturday, 26 December 2020

Triumph Tiger 955i Fork Reassembly and Installation

I was looking at nearly $70CAD to get the 'special Triumph Tool' for tightening the locking nut on the triple tree.  That special tool consists of two bits of machined metal the same thickness as the nuts and seem absurdly expensive for what they are (maybe they're made out of gold and I'm just being stingy).

My cunning plan was to get a set of big deep sockets ($66 from Amazon) and an adjustable slip nut wrench from Canadian Tire for $16.  For twelve bucks more than the bizarro Triumph tool I'd get a socket set of sizes I don't have (29-38mm!) and a weird adjustable wrench for thin big nuts that didn't cost me nearly seventy bucks.  I had to take a millimetre off the slip nut wrench thickness wise, then it fit like a charm.  The long socket fits over the top of the triple tree so I was able to tighten the top 38mm nut against the one underneath using my improvised kit that cost a bit more but included 8 other hard to find big, deep sockets.

It worked a charm and held the lower nut tight while I dropped the big'old 38mm socket on the top one and tightened against it.  If I ever need a big weird thin adjustable wrench I have one in the toolbox now.

The steering always felt fine but having cleaned up all the bearings and put a not-stingy-factory amount of grease on there before putting it all back together has made it silky smooth by comparison.  The bearings were in good shape after a visual inspection but the cleanup and heavy greasing have really improved things.

I put the gaitors back on the forks.  I initially thought I'd have to replace them but a soak and scrub in hot, soapy water followed by a drenching in ArmorAll seems to have brought them back to life.  They were kinking where they shouldn't and were starting to look untidy, but the scrub/soak means I should get at least another year or two out of them, which is good because they aren't cheap and they're bloody hard to find.

The rejuvenated forks with new 15 weight oil (I'm 6'3" and 240lbs) look fantastic back on the bike.  It always surprises me how dark and opaque the fork oil is when I empty it out after a couple of years use.  It might not be dealing with combustion but it's still got a tough life.  I think a 2 year rotation of fork oil is going to be the new normal.

With the top clamp out I couldn't help but want to have a go at the spotty paint on it.  I'd hand painted some flat black rust paint on it a few years ago when it started to get scabby (it has a tough life over engine heat and with keys and other things banging off it).  That flat black was a quick fix and bugged me since I see it a lot in the saddle. While it was out I was able to mask off the top clamp and paint it up - disco blue metallic.  Why be dull.  Looks great with all the cleaned up fasteners, and it'll match my repainted hand covers (which I still have to hand paint some magic back on).

Next up is installing the Hel brake line kit I've got waiting to go in (Bike Magazine convinced me that anything this old shouldn't be depending on old, factory rubber lines).  The Tiger was due a brake fluid change anyway so it's a cost cut into regular maintenance.

The Hel lines come fantastically packaged (many stickers!) and include all the bits and pieces you need to install them.  Next up will be draining the brake lines and upgrading them, then the front end can go back together.

In other news, I got the old tires off with the spoons.  I'd describe this as more trouble than it's worth - next time I'll go see Lloyd at my local motorcycle shop and have him do them.  I couldn't get the new tires on the rim so I took them in to school and our auto-shop teacher gave me a hand mounting the new ones (new inner tubes too).  That was problematic too as we couldn't get the rear to sit on the bead (it stuck on the inner one).  I was finally able to get it to pop on with 60psi and some soapy water at home.  All that to say the tires are ready to go back on too.

Once the front brake lines are on I'll rebuild the front end and it'll be fully updated and /or maintenanced.  It'll then be time to do the same thing with the back end.  It'll be my first swing arm and rear suspension service so I'll be learning as I go.

There is some good advice on Tiger servicing at   He did Hagon shocks on his Tiger (a good future project) and he has a lot of helpful tips on there too, for example: the Haynes manual suggests removing the exhaust but he suggests removing the swingarm and rear shock together, which I need to do anyway if I'm going to service it.

Those Hagon shocks can be custom built to rider size, which will help me since I'm not in the average size range.  I just had a look at the site and they'll do me two custom front shocks and a rear shock for about £1000 (about $1750 Canadian).  If the Tiger becomes a life-long bike I'll make that commitment.  It's not cheap but it's still less than three new car payments (or a new bike).  That they're customized and include life long warranties and repairs is useful on a long term machine.

With any luck I'll have the front end sorted and reassembled by the end of next week while I'm off work.  I can then get into the swingarm and rear chassis maintenance over our January COVID lockdown.  It's good to be busy in the garage when I can't be travelling and riding during this long, strange and stressful winter.

I'd rather be doing this, but working on the thing that lets me do this makes the riding gratifying as well as thrilling.  The deep familiarity I'm gaining with long term ownership is next level.

FOLLOW UP:  It all went back together nicely.  I'm on to swingarm and rear suspension maintenance next.

Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Triumph Tiger 955i Steering Column/Triple Tree Maintenance

I finally got the top clamp of the 2003 Triumph Tiger's steering column off yesterday.  After undoing everything it did not let go of its own volition and I had to apply some heat to the central spindle and top clamp housing to let loose.  Nothing crazy, just grazing it with a propane torch until it warmed up nicely (nothing glowing) and then I was able to spin the top clamp in relation to the centre steering pin (the forks are out).

With the top clamp rotating (if it has been sitting in your Tiger for a while don't expect it to be loose), I was eventually able to persuade it upwards off the centre spindle with a rubber mallet.  The top clamp came off and the two nuts that hold the centre rod in place were accessible (they're visible but inaccessible under the handlebars usually).  For a 17 year old bike with over 80k kms on it nothing about these difficulties came as a surprise.

Those locking nuts are big'uns, 38mm!  The long centre post they're on means you're going to have a tricky time getting a ratchet on them (38mm long socket?).  They aren't tight though and I was able to loosen them with an adjustable wrench.

I supported the triple tree (the bottom half of the steering structure) with one hand while undoing the nuts but the bottom end didn't fall out - it's a snug enough fit and what grease was left in there was holding everything together.  A gentle tap on the centre spindle and it all came out the bottom smoothly though.  I don't know the last time anyone was in there, but I've had the Tiger for almost 4 years and thirty thousand kilometres so it was high time I got in there myself.  Judging by the stingy amount of grease in there I'd guess no one has done the steering on the Tiger before (factories are famous for being stingy on grease when manufacturing bikes).

The bearings still had some grease on them (the brown/grey stuff is grease), but not much.  No one's been in there recently:

... once I cleaned it up the bearings were in good shape and turned freely:

... even the tube that holds the steering column is nice and rust free.  After a good cleanup I reassembled everything with a liberal greasing using the Mobil HP222 stuff Triumph suggests.

That Mobil XHP 222 grease is what Triumph recommends.  I found it on Amazon.

Here are some torque settings for a 955i Triumph Tiger's steering system:

Triumph Tiger 955i Steering Torque Settings:

  • Steering Stem Nut:  65Nm (50 ft/lbs)
  • Fork clamp bolts (top yoke):  20Nm (14.75 ft/lbs)
  • Handlebar clamp bolts:  26Nm (19.2 ft/lbs)
note: there is no torque setting on the two nuts that lock together under the handlebar.  The directions I'm following say to hand tighten the top nut, then tighten it down a bit more to seat the bearings, then back it off a touch.  You then lock the second nut to the first.  The idea is to seat the bearings and keep everything a set distance apart so the bearings spin freely. Making them too tight will make for stiff steering and will wear your bearings out sooner.

Some other points of interest are these bolts that hold the horn and front brake lines onto the triple tree.  They're a bugger to take off and were another part that needed some heat to get moving.

The other complication that I should probably look at as a benefit is discovering worn wiring and cabling.  The back of the clutch cable and the ignition wiring are both wearing through and would have ended up causing annoying problems down the line, but I can resolve them as part of this maintenance pretty easily.  I'm going to slip some heat shrink electrical cover over both breaks and heal them up before they become a problem.

Next steps will be to reinstall a shock to line up the triple tree with the top clamp and then do the fork oil.  Once the shocks are serviced, I'll put the whole shebang back together again and turn to the back end where I've got to work my way through a swingarm removal and rear suspension service before putting that all back together.  I hope that goes as well as this with all the parts still being serviceable.  Trying to get parts in during COVID19 isn't always a sure thing.

It's coming up on Xmas here, so if I can have all that done by the end of February I'll be in good shape for the coming riding season.

Other big-spa checklist items on the Tiger are:  a coolant change, new brake lines and brake fluid changes and another look at the fuel injection system to see if I can clean the injectors and balance them better.  My work in the summer solved the stalling issue, but the bike feels a bit sluggish, though that might be because it's being compared to a Fireblade.

An old bike that I run high mileage on it means lots of work to do while the snow falls outside.  In this winter of our Covid-discontent it's good to have a lot of things to do in the garage so I don't go cabin crazy.

Possible needed-things list:
Triumph's 'thin wrench' is a basic
thing that seems astonishingly
for what it is.  DIY is
a possible alternative.

  • A narrow angle adjustable wrench:  CT has one that goes up to 3 inches (76mm, so it'll handle the 38mm locking nut).  I'm hoping my narrow angle vice grip will hold the bottom nut while I tighten the top one.You'd need the Triumph special thin spanner tool T3880140 for adjusting it with the handlebars installed, but I'm hoping I can sort it out while I'm in there and not need it.  Paying $60 odd dollars for a bit of machined steel is a bit rich.  I suspect I could get our metal-shop teacher at work to fabricate me a couple of them for nothing (I fix his computers for him so it's a barter exchange).
  • big enough electrical heat-shrink to cover the clutch cable rub through.  I think I have it and I don't want to use tape as it looks half assed.