Sunday, 15 January 2017

Replacing Plastic Fuel Fittings: that was a pain in the ass

Well, that was a pain in the ass.  It began well enough.  Removing the metal clips from the plastic fittings was pretty straightforward.  Push the pin in and then gently tease them apart and you don't have springs flying everywhere.  I'm a bit confused as to why I needed to save the bits as the new fittings come with clips, but I'll hang on to them anyway.

Following the directions online, I next took out the lower plastic fuel fitting in about thirty seconds.  The upper one (that leaks) immediately broke (I suspect it already was) and proceeded to spectacularly fall apart.  I spent the next two hours with a hot pick pulling bits of brittle plastic out of the metal fuel tank threads.  It turned into tedious dental surgery rather than a quick repair.

With the plate now clear of detritus, I should be able to install the new metal fittings and resolve my leaking fuel tank once and for all.  Since I have to remove the tank to pretty much do any engine maintenance at all, this fix will make the Tiger maintainable again.

With the fuel tank fittings sorted I'll next be doing the fork oil (never done that before), change the plugs and do a coolant flush (which requires multiple fuel tank removals).  The Tiger will be fit should spring ever arrive.

Online Notes on Fuel Fitting thread sealant:
What to use for fuel fitting thread sealant:
Don't use teflon tape for fuel fittings!
These guys make it:
It's available locally:

The metal plate the fuel pump is connected to on the gas tank has a couple of plastic fuel fittings screwed into it.  The top one is leaking and was a pain in the ass to get out, the bottom one came right out easily.
The plastic male ends go into plastic female ends in a metal fuel pump plate.  Shortly it'll all be stainless steel.
Getting it that clean took some patience.
The big, orange Triumph Tiger in maintenance mode - the battery pack is on the back to raise the front wheel off the ground for the coming fork oil change.
Finished it up the next day.  Got the thread sealer from Canadian Tire and they went back together nicely:

Sunday, 8 January 2017

A Dakar Rally With Teeth

I've been watching the Dakar Rally with great interest once again.  It's always a wicked competition that has more in common with the Isle of Man TT than it does any other sporting event.  From a Hemingway perspective The Dakar is the real deal.

I enjoy the Dakar more for the battle than I do the singularly focused professional factory teams.  This year's high profile dropouts have cast light on just how speed focused the rally has become.  With rally drivers and MX racers charging across a carefully chosen course with fairly straightforward navigation and off-road dangers minimized, recent Dakars have felt more like day by day sprints for that faster set than a cross country adventure.  Ever rising speeds and increased completion rates seem to support this.  Thanks to a Marc Coma designed course, this year's rally seems to have come back to Dakar's core philosophies.

The completion of a Dakar is a mighty achievement in and of itself.  Winning a Dakar is a team achievement that depends on a lot of complex pieces coming together perfectly for weeks at a time, but I've felt like the vehicle operators were increasingly specializing in speed over everything else.  Just throw yourself at the horizon and let the mechanics sort it out.
You don't want to be pushing so hard
that you're breaking the vehicle and/or
yourself and depending on luck to not
have that happen.  That kind of racer-
think might work on a closed course,
but the Dakar is something else.  You

need some pride to keep you going
when you'd otherwise surrender.  The
meek don't inherit The Dakar.
In recent years, with rally drivers infiltrating the ranks, it feels like the race has moved toward a higher speed, less nuanced approach - hammer it and throw money at the damage and then complain about anything on the course that slows you down seemed to be the way it was going.  The course Coma has set up this year has the speed bunnies getting lost and damaging their machines because they are all go and no slow down and consider.  The return to a more thoughtful Dakar that rewards navigation and terrain reading (because the terrain isn't pre-screened to favour speed bunnies) makes for a better race.  Finding way points and completing timed sections should demand intelligence and terrain reading as well as a racer's touch.  During a Dakar you should sometimes have to slow down to win.

These complexities had me trying to think through how you approach a Dakar.  The speed bunny approach tends to lean heavily on pride, hand-eye coordination and balls-out courage.  If the race organizers did anything other than design speed sections that catter to your approach you complain about it.  Luck was taken care of by influencing speed focused course designs that take you on prepared trails and less intensive navigational challenges.  This year's Dakar is stressing humility and a considered approach to crossing some truly wild stages.  You still need the hand-eye coordination, strength and endurance, but you also need to bring along your strategic thinking.  Mashing the throttle and flying over the terrain doesn't work when the terrain isn't pre-screened for you.  It pays to be more than a racer in the Dakar.

One of my favorite parts of the 2015 Dakar was the blast across the salt flats.  Many of the speed bunnies complained bitterly about it because it was hard on the machinery, but this race isn't just about pinning a throttle.  The journey is the destination on the Dakar.  Too many were only focused on getting to that destination and making the rest incidental.  If they want to race short, closed course rallies, go do that, the Dakar is and should be something else, something bigger.

The Dakar Rally continues to evolve into something better and better.  I hope it keeps embracing its uniqueness by focusing on the adventure rather than catering to the wishes of a small subsection of hard core racers who can see nothing other than how quickly they can complete a rally stage.  Make it hard.  Cross the wilds.  Make the winners think about something other than pinning the throttle in order to win it.

The Dakar is happening right now (January 2nd to January 14th, 2017).  You can watch it on the Dakar website, and Red Bull TV is also doing daily updates.  It's also playing on varied TV channels across the world (but not so much in North America).  Daily Motion is another excellent online place to follow the event.

Why else follow the Dakar?  It's one of the few motor sporting events that goes out of its way to consider its environmental impact.  If you like a considered, intelligent adventure, you should be watching this.

√Čtape 6 - Dakar Heroes - Dakar 2017 by Dakar - Riders like Lyndon Poskitt are why I love The Dakar

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Replacing Triumph Tiger fuel tank couplings

According to Haynes, the Tiger's gas
lines will automatically close when you
unplug them, except when they don't
and make a mess.
I've owned the Triumph Tiger for a season now and intend to do some maintenance on it while the snow if flying.  Pretty much everything you need to get to is under the gas tank, which is a pain in the ass to remove.  More so in my case because the lower fuel line doesn't self seal like it's supposed to.

Last summer I had the tank off for the first time and it poured gas everywhere.  I ended up sticking a pencil in it to slow down the flow.  A gas leak isn't a big deal on a warm summer day, but it's -20°C outside at the moment and heating the garage with a gas leak is problematic (I use a propane heater).

By the time I found that I couldn't get the valve to seal there was a lot of gas about.  I ended up washing the bike and floor clean with the water hose, but doing that in a cold snap is pretty miserable.  It's turned the driveway into a skating rink.

With the gas line back on I decided to have a look online and see what people say about early two thousand Triumph gas lines.  It turns out they don't say nice things about them.  Rather than using more durable metal fittings for the gas line releases, Triumph saved some money and put on problematic plastic ones.  They evidently did a recall but they only ever replaced the leaking ones so some bikes have half metal half plastic.  In my case they're all original plastic ones.  I eventually came across this video which led me to a site with a detailed fix.

If you join (free) you get a detailed how-to on fixing the under-engineered fuel fittings on a Triumph thanks to Evilbetty.
I bounced over to and ordered the needed bits:

They've got a good reputation so I should have the parts next week.  Some people had issues with the smaller sized end so I got a couple of the larger ones.  It was $18 extra but it means I'll be able to do this once and be done.  I've probably already lost ten bucks in gas on this.  
Next up will be draining the gas tank which I topped up for winter storage.  With the tank empty I'll be ready to go with the fitting change.  I'll post on that when it happens.

Front wheel up and ready for
some fork attention - eventually
I was removing the tank to start the fork oil change.  That's been a pain in the neck as well.  I went down to Two Wheel on January 2nd only to discover that they were closed.  I figured I was already half way to Guelph so went over to Royal Distributing to get the fork oil.  With two bottles of the stuff in hand (not on sale) I headed over to the register to discover a forty minute line up to get out the door.  It's this kind of thing that prompts me to buy things online.  I ended up walking out the door without the oil.

At my local Canadian Tire I had a nice chat with a former student now taking welding in college and he rainchecked me some quality synthetic fork oil that was on sale for much less than Royal Distributing was charging anyway.  No line up, no shipping costs and the oil will be here in two days.  Because of the gas tank fittings it all ended up being not time sensitive anyway, so a two day wait and some money saved is all good.

Anyway, onwards and upwards.  The drained tank first and then install the upgraded fittings, then on to fork oil and a coolant flush (that also requires gas tank removal).  Considering the majority of maintenance on the Tiger (even changing the air filter) requires gas tank removal, using dodgy plastic fittings (replaced in later models) wasn't a great idea.  Failing to get them all replaced in a recall was another dropped ball.  I knew that running a thirteen year old European bike as my daily rider would be a challenge.  If I can get these oversights sorted, hopefully I can get another good season out of it.

Washed clean and with a minus twenty windchill blowing in under the garage door.  Not the best time of year to mess around with a gas leak, but I've found a fix.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

The Mood I'm in When I Return from a Ride

BIKE magazine had a travel piece where the writer paraphrased a French pilot talking about how flying takes him away from the minutia of life.  I've flown planes but I find riding a motorcycle much more what I thought flying would be like.  The check listed and tedious process of operating an aircraft along with the strictly regulated flight paths don't lend themselves to a sense of freedom.  You're much more likely to slip the surly bonds of earth and touch the face of god on a Hayabusa than you ever are in a Cessna.

I was reflecting on my mood when I returned from a ride with my son Max on the weekend.  It wasn't a big trip but I came home relaxed, as I always do from a ride.  Riding a bike involves you.  You can get lost in the complexity of operating it.  Even once you get familiar with the controls the subtlety of working them all together harmoniously becomes a never ending aspiration.  You can always ride better.

I started writing this in October when we went for our ride, but it's the beginning of the new year now and it's been weeks since I've ridden.  At this point I'm reduced to driving a damned car which offers nothing like the sensory thrill you get from riding a bike.  While everyone else wrings their hands about how dangerous being out in the wind is, I'm addicted to it.  Riding a bike makes even the most tedious commute and adventure.

Coming back from that ride all those weeks ago, I was blown clean by the wind.  I'd been in the world in a way that seems foreign to me now, encapsulated in winter.  About the only redeeming feature of having a long off season is the growing anticipation of getting back out there again.

I sometimes wonder how my son Max feels about riding.  I'm always worried that with his autism he finds the sensory overload overwhelming, but he loves going for rides.  Even on very long trips he's a trooper who is always ready to hop back on the bike.  He isn't generally interested in being cool, but I don't think the cool factor is lost on him.  I don't get many images of him on the bike behind me, but I love seeing him doing his wings in these images.

It's been snowing for days.  We're buried in the stuff.  The thought of jumping on the bike and going for a ride is still months away.  Sigh.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Tiger Winter Maintenance Notes

These are winter maintenance notes for me, but others might find them handy...

Rims:   Front: 36 spoke alloy rim 19 x 2.5"  Rear: 40 spoke alloy rim 17 x 4.25"
2005 Tiger:  14 spoke cast alloy: same size (is this findable?  Yes it is!  Not rears though)

Tires: Front: 110/80-19 Rear: 150/70-17

Coolant flush.  2.8l of coolant (50% distilled water 50% corrosion inhibited ethylene glycol)
- cool engine
- remove fuel tank
- remove pressure cap- 
- unscrew bleed hole bolt (thermostat housing)
- remove reservoir cap
- container under engine
- unscrew drain plug (left side of engine) & drain (keep the old washer for flushing)
- remove lower coolant hose and drain
- flush with tap water
- reinstall old washer & plug & lower coolant hose and fill with water & aluminum friendly rad flush
- reinstall drain plug (25Nm) rad cap and bleed hole bolt (7Nm)
- put fuel tank back on
- run engine to warm (10 mins) then let cool
- re-drain
- refill with plain water, repeat running, cool and redrain
- use a new drain plug washer and torque to 25Nm
- with everything but the bleed bolt installed slowly fill with coolant
- fill reservoir to MAX and cap everything and install bleed bolt (7Nm)
- run 3-4 mins, rev to 4-6k a few times to open it up, check rad and reservoir levels

Spark Plugs:  NGK DPR8EA-9   0.8 to 0.9 gap  20Nm  (under gas tank, like everything else)

Fork oil change:  Kayaba G10 or equivalent 107 mm from top of tube with fork spring removed and leg fully compressed.  Larger riders (like me!) might want 15 weight oil.
Tiger oil change intervals.  Tiger fork oil.
Fork oil viscosity  -  More Tiger fork oil info.
Capacity: 720cc/ml  oil level: 107mm (from top of tube with spring removed and compressed leg)
Removal of forks (with body work & front wheel removed)
- one at a time and with all gubbins removed from fork
- loosen fork clamp bolts
- loosen top fork bolt while it's still on the bike (hard to do when it's off)
- note alignment of fork before removing it
- loosen lower clamp bolts, it should slide loose out the bottom
top fork bolt:  30Nm
clamp bolts top yoke:  20Nm
Handlebar holder clamp bolts:  26Nm

Brake fluid flush   DOT 4

Chassis lubricant (swing arm, stearing head, levers & pedals): Mobile Grease HP 222 or lithium based multi purpose grease.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Scotland and Shetland On Two Wheels

Another piece of fantasy trip planning so I'm ready to go when I become pointlessly rich...  this time Scotland and into the North Sea!
Two days on the mainland working our way north to the ferry port in Thurso...


Day 1:  Ediburgh to Inverbroom Lodge
Day 2: Inverbroom Lodge to Thurso
Day 3: Ferry to Orknies
Day 4: Orkneys day 2
Day 5: Ferry to Shetlands
Day 6-10: Shetlands
Day 11: Ferry back to Aberdeen
Day 12: Aberdeen to Edinburgh
Day 13: Edinburgh

Thurso to Orkney Islands: 90 minute crossing: £112
Kirkwall, Orkney Islands to Shetlands: 7 hour crossing: £225
Shetlands to Aberdeen: 12 hour crossing: £289


Two nights and two full days on the Orkney Islands... Scara Brae!


The whole thing on Furkot:
Journey To The End of the Earth

Two weeks beyond John O'Groats...

Things to see:
Haunted Scotland
Beautiful spots

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Extending the Canadian Motorcycle Riding Season: Snow Bikes!

The idea of a snowmobile conversion for a motorcycle keeps popping up everywhere this winter.  Timbersled makes just such a thing.  It's seven grand Canadian for the system plus another fifteen hundred for the fitting kit.  The Husqvarna FE501S is a road legal dual sport bike that the kit fits.  They can be found for about twelve grand.  It's a rich man's game but that doesn't stop me from dreaming about it.  For about twenty grand Canadian ($14,900 US) I'd have a year 'round off road specialist that would also get down the road when needed.  The thought of pulling up to a RIDE spotcheck in a blizzard on a plated version of one of these makes me quite happy.  Officer: 'Uh, what's that?'

The KLX250 I tried a while back was so slow with me on it that I felt unsafe on roads.  I couldn't coax it to 100km/hr which meant I had a row of traffic behind me even on country back roads.  The Husky weighs less and has almost three times more horsepower.  Keeping up with traffic on back roads would not be a problem.  Those capabilities mean it'd carry me and some camping gear deep into the countryside in the summer while also being snow-bike convertible in the winter, all for twenty five hundred bucks less than a BMW GS.

A new snowmobile costs sixteen grand or more and only works for a few months of year if you're lucky.  From that point of view a road ready enduro bike with a Timbersled system looks like a more useful and cost effective approach to riding in the snow (and everything else). 

Timbersled Snow Conversion System

The Husqvarna FE 501S Dual Sport Motorcycle

In the snow!

In the desert!

On forest trails!  All on the same bike.