Showing posts with label Triumph Tiger 955i. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Triumph Tiger 955i. Show all posts

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.


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

A Quick Motorcycle Chain Switch

After previous experiences breaking and installing motorcycle chains I figured this time it would be fairly straightforward thanks to a good tool and knowing what I'm doing.  The Tiger's chain had a pretty severe tight spot in it. When I set the tight spot to spec (40mm of slack), the loose part was wobbling around with twice that.  If I set the loose part to spec the tight part would rumble on the sprockets.  You could actually feel the difference in chain tension under acceleration as a surge.

The tool I got last time was quick to set up.  The blue 500 size chain pin pusher slotted right in out of the handle where it had been sitting since my last chain change on the Ninja over two years ago.

The Tiger chain is a 535 sized chain (wider than the Ninja's, but the same pitch length between the links - the Ninja was a 520 chain).  
With the pin pusher piece in place I tightened the outer bolt with a 10mm ratchet and it easily pushed the pins out of the old master link with only mild force on a small ratchet.


With the old chain removed I spent some time cleaning up the sprockets, which were in great condition.  The front sprocket was packed with years of gum from chain lube and it took a while to get it all out, first with a screwdriver and afterwards wiping it up with some WD40.  With it all cleaned off it looked like a bit of rust had found its way onto the front sprocket.



The rear sprocket was only covered in chain oil remnants and cleaning it up was easily done.



If you're not yahooing around and yanking on your chain like a madman all the time sprockets tend to last, especially big, beefy 535 wide ones; this bike has only been owned by gentlemen.  I might swap out the rear 46 tooth sprocket for a 47 tooth one to lower the revs slightly on the next chain, but that's years down the road, and with the sprockets in good shape, it seemed silly to do a full switch now.

A master link came with the chain which is a bit off-putting because Fortnine immediately filled the screen with master links after I purchased the chain, which I took to mean I needed one.  I guess I'll hang on to it, but if the chain I'm buying comes with it letting me know seems like the polite thing to do rather than encouraging an upsell.

The master link that came with the chain had an interesting process for installation.  I'm told this is quite common on bicycles now.  The master link pins have a threaded piece on the end of them.  You thread the long pins on the chain and then alternate tighten the bolts until they won't go any further.



This snugs the outer piece of the master link onto the pins.  When you're done you back off the nuts a few turns and then break them off with a pair of pliers.  It worked well.


A chain so new it's still covered in the wax it was packaged in to stop rust.
With the new chain set to 35mm of sag top and bottom and lubricated with chain wax (preferred because it doesn't make a gooey mess of things, sticks to the chain well and is also a lovely honey colour), it was time for a test ride.  A twenty minute ride in the setting sun up to 100kms per hour demonstrated all sorts of improvement.  The surging feeling was gone making the bike much smoother under acceleration.  In corners that surging could destabalize the bike, it doesn't any more.  The new chain is also noticably quieter.

This time round I think the actual chain removal and installation took about 40 minutes moving slowly and deliberately.  The cleanup of the front sprocket was what took the most time, though it probably did a lot to quiet the new chain (not running through a tunnel of goop on each revolution has to be better).


While I had the tools out I finished the counteract balancing beads install I started earlier in the week by doing the back tire as well.  With beads now in the front and rear tires vibrations through the handlebars are gone and the whole bike is rattle free at speed.  I never really got to try them out on the Concours, but what little I did seemed to work, and seeing as the beads are cheaper than taking in tires to get balanced anyway, why not?  I'm glad I did.

The Tiger is now as arrow straight and smooth as it can be.  It was a joy to ride it home as the sun set on Sunday evening.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

To One Thousand Islands

Things fell together just right for a ride out to the 1000 Islands in Eastern Ontario.  My lovely wife had a conference in Ottawa, so we spent the weekend before where Lake Ontario empties into the St Lawrence Seaway.

This meant, for the first time, I had a support vehicle!   The panniers and top-box all went in the back of the car and I got to ride light and solo.  It also meant I had a vehicle that could take pictures of me riding.



About 460kms across Southern Ontario.
I'd dialed back the rear suspension for a single rider, so the Tiger was more compliant.  The weather was, as it has been for weeks, sunny and very hot.  It wasn't so bad in the morning, but by noon it was sweat-box hot.

We dodged around the GTA, not trusting the crumbling infrastructure, overcrowded roads and distracted yet aggressive drivers.  Traffic was light and moving well north of the city on a summer, Saturday morning.  We stopped briefly in Schomberg at Main Street Powersports for a quick stretch and look around what may be one of the most eclectic motorcycle shops in Ontario before pushing on into the heat.   Bypassing Newmarket, we found mostly empty roads as we wound our way down to Uxbridge where we stopped for a second breakfast/early lunch at Urban Pantry (having a foodie and professional researcher driving your support vehicle has big benefits!).


Every time I got off the bike it was that much hotter suiting up again.  It was just past noon when we finished lunch and the air temperature was in the mid-thirties with humidity pushing it well into the forties.  It was just bearable in motion so we quickly got moving.  Pushing down to the 401 meant more traffic, but once on the highway we made quick time and the hot wind was better than stagnant air at traffic lights.

My support vehicle pulled off at Port Hope where we discovered a lovely, old downtown during a hydration stop.  I thought it would be nice to take the old King's Highway (Lakeshore Road) along to Prince Edward County where we were going to check out some wineries and Sandbanks Provincial Park.  At first this seemed like a bad idea as we were constantly stopped at traffic lights through never ending box store/strip malls in Coburg, but soon enough we left the last remnants of the GTA behind and found ourselves on a winding old highway that kept Lake Ontario in sight to our right.


Crossing the Murray Canal Bridge, we entered Prince Edward County, which immediately impresses with a relaxed island vibe.  Following wine and arts tour signs we meandered across the island
 enjoying light traffic and a stop at Sandbanks Winery, which not only had some wines on hand that you can't get through retail, but also appeared to be where all the pretty girls go to drink on a Saturday.  The bachelorette party looked to be well along at two in the afternoon.  They jumped into a shuttle and were driven to the next winery, which was about five hundred feet down the road.  They must have looked like a train wreck the next morning.

We rode into the afternoon, stopping at The Duke of Wellington Pub for a much needed cool down and hydration.  The view off the deck into the harbour was lovely, as was being out of the relentless sun for a while.


It was a short ride to Sandbanks Park, but getting in was tricky.   After waiting in line for ten minutes I pulled up with the car and said I'd just park in the same spot as the car since were all here as a group, but the kid at the gate didn't know what to do about that and spent ten minutes calling people to ask what he should do... while I stood there on the bike on 50°C tarmac.  He finally told us we had to pay two full vehicle admissions.  It's things like this that make motorcycling in Ontario that much harder than it needs to be.  We're not the same as cars or the massive SUVs most people like to drive around in, we don't require the same space or resources, but rather than honour that Ontario seems to do everything it can to ignore it.

The park itself was nice and the dunes that make it famous looked like something out of the Caribbean.  We stuck around for a couple of hours and even went for a swim to cool off.  If you walk down the beach a bit the crowds let up and it's possible to find some quiet space to relax.

Back on the road with sand in my everywhere and sweating freely, I was starting to feel this ride.  Into the lengthening shadows we went, pushing across the length of Prince Edward County toward Kingston.  I felt like I was in a sandwich press, the setting sun and the tarmac both pressing in the heat.



A welcome break came at the Glenora Ferry, which takes you from Prince Edward back to the mainland for free and runs every fifteen minutes in the summer.  It's only a ten minute crossing, but it's a pretty one with beautiful views up and down the straights.

The line up was a welcome fifteen minute break from the saddle that gave me time to change into some cooler jeans.  Once on the ferry you can wander around and see the sights.  Before you know it you're firing up the bike ready to go again.  If you have to get to Kingston from Prince Edward County in the summer, go the Glenora way!


The temperature finally began to abate as I rode away from the ferry.  Shadows got even longer and the bugs began to thwack off my helmet.  We dodged and weaved across southern Lennox County, eventually finding our way onto the 401 just outside of Kingston.

A stop for gas had the Tiger using 19.7 litres to travel 412kms.  That's 4.78l/100kms or 49.2 miles per gallon on everything from urban stop and go to fast highway riding.  Considering it's expected to get about 40mpg, I'm really happy with those numbers.


It might have been dehydration and heat stroke, but the final
ride into the 1000 Islands was pretty magical!
After a stop for dinner in Kingston we got back on the highway for the final forty-five minutes to Gananoque and our hotel in the Thousand Islands.  The sun was well down and the air temperature had dropped.  Stars filled the sky and heat boiled out of the sun baked pavement.  Tucked in behind the windshield as I thundered down the dark highway, it felt as though I was riding through VanGogh's Starry Night.  We pulled in to the Glen House Resort just past 10pm.  I immediately took a cold shower and flaked out on the bed.


Tree shade just outside of Newmarket
Downtown Port Hope, lovely!
Next to Lake Ontario in Sandbanks Provincial Park, where bikes pay the same parking costs as six thousand pound SUVs.
Making long shadows as the sun sets in Lennox County.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Around Huron


It's just past 8am on day one of the ride.  Even this early in the morning it's already in the mid-twenties and the sun is relentless.  The padding I thought I'd try in my helmet was a bad idea, and by the time I reach Creemore I'm working on a full scale headache.  Thirty seconds after we stop the Roof lid is back to normal and it works like a champ for the rest of the trip.  Motorcycle gear is an ongoing process of fine tuning, especially when you mess around with something that already works.

This trip grew out of a friend's cross country anniversary ride with his wife on his new-to-him Goldwing.  We were originally going to drop down to the ferry on Manitoulin Island for the ride home after day one, but the ferry is booked solid during the day so I started looking at another way home.  Having never been to Northern Michigan, it seemed like a good idea to wrap around Lake Huron.  It's just over 1500kms of wilderness riding with few people in between.

The goodbye in Creemore went long as we'd been accompanied by friends out that far, so we got back on the road just as the sun was going fully nuclear.  Day One was the longest of our trip, five hundred kilometres around Georgian Bay up to the small town of Massey, Ontario.  A gas and lunch stop in Perry Sound followed by a couple of road side stops along the way made the heat bearable with lots of consuming of liquids at each stop.  You know it's hot when you're sweating freely at highway speeds.


Mohawk Motel: clean, cheap & odd!
We rolled into the Mohawk Motel in Massey just past 4pm.  The grass was brown and crisp, just like us.  The motel was basic but clean with air conditioning.  Everyone cold showered and relaxed for a while before we wandered out into town only to discover that the only restaurant was closed early due to it being hot.  We were told to walk down the street to a variety store that also doubled as the local fast food joint.  Forty five minutes of waiting in forty degree heat later I'd paid forty bucks for a cheeseburger, fries and a couple of slices of pizza.  We staggered back to the hotel and called it a day.

The next morning Massey totally redeemed itself with a fantastic breakfast at the Back Home Bistro.  As we finished up the eggs and bacon, rain moved in.  It was still in the mid-twenties, but humid and wet.  We rode into heavier and heavier rain as we traveled west over the top of Georgian Bay.  A brief stop in Blind River to check on my stoic pillion had us bump into a couple doing a similar route to our Huron circumnavigation; it wasn't the last time we'd meet them.

The rain came and went before finally relenting as we rode into Sault Ste. Marie.  We parted ways after a surprisingly excellent and cost effective lunch at Pino's Supermarket where you can get a brick oven baked pizza and amazing sausage on a bun for next to nothing.



Jeff & MA were on their way to Wawa up on Lake Superior, while Max and I were headed over to the border crossing into Northern Michigan.  After a day and half together we'd made good time, covered a lot of ground in all sorts of weather and everyone still had smiles on their faces (a good Italian lunch helped there).


After a quick goodbye we saddled up and headed over to the bridge only to bump into the couple from Blind River again.  We followed them up onto the bridge to discover a massive line up.  Inching a fully loaded two-up bike five feet at a time up the side of a suspension bridge is about as much fun as it gets.  Fortunately we had a great view of the river beneath us.

Sault Ste Marie is one of those places that reminds you just how big the great lakes are.  In the hour plus we were inching our way over that bridge I tried to imagine the tons and tons of water that rushed beneath us out of Superior and into Huron, it feels very powerful and boggles the mind.

A highlight of the interminable wait was getting to the peak of the bridge.  From that point up until the customs gates we were going downhill, so the bikes stayed off and in neutral as we glided forward, inches at a time.  As I said to our doppelgangers, 'at least it isn't yesterday!'  That bridge on a forty degree sunny day would be unhealthy.  My magic power kicked in at the split into lines for each gate.  Which ever one I pick will immediately stop, and of course it did.  The couple ahead of us were down the interstate a good fifteen minutes ahead of us while we sat there pondering karma, or just plain old bad luck.

Once finally freed into Michigan we headed south into the tail end of some very violent

thunderstorms. The mist became rain, and then strong winds came up out of west. It was an hour of tacking against the wind down i75 to St. Ignace and The Breaker's Resort. We got in about 4pm drenched and weary after a long day in the rain broken up by the better part of two hours crossing the border in five foot increments. Java Joes provided a first class milkshake and coffee before we headed over to check in. They weren't ready for us, but housekeeping did back flips to get us into the room ASAP.


 We enjoyed the hot tub and pool, but Breakers is a family resort, kind of like Disney World but with a great lake instead of mice.  If you like screaming, unmanaged children and drunk, indifferent parents on smartphones, this place is for you.  Max and I vacated the pool in a flurry of OCD after a kid pretended to be vomiting water out over and over again.

Dinner was takeout pizza from Java Joes, and it was exceptional.  With everything scattered around the room in a vain attempt to dry it out, we crashed on the beds and watched Seth Macfarlane cartoons as the fog rolled in outside.  After two days and the better part of a thousand kilometres on the road, we were both pretty knackered.


We woke up early in backwards world to blue skies and the sun rising out of Lake Huron (the sun goes to sleep in Huron where we're from).  A savoury breakfast of heavily processed meat pucks and bad coffee with large Americans eating all they could while watching Trump speeches on FoxTV (we are far from home my son), had us ready to hit the road.

I wiped down the trusty Tiger and we loaded up for a day that was more about exploring than making distance (though it eventually turned into both - you're always making distance if you're trying to get around a great lake).  After a quick fill up and a slow ride around St. Ignace's lovely harbour, we got onto the interstate and headed for the Mackinac Bridge, it was spectacular:



The Mackinac Bridge is worth the ride!





We took our border-buddies' advice and headed over to the Tunnel of Trees.  This put us on the shore of yet another Great Lake (Lake Michigan).  The micro-climate on the west shore of Michigan's northern peninsula produces fast growth.  As you ride onto that side of the peninsula everything is super green and the trees get Pandora big.

The M-119 is a twisty little blacktop that runs through those forests along the shore.  It's barely two lanes wide with no curbs or runoff.  You need to keep your eyes on the narrow lane, but you're never moving that quickly.  Surrounded by a sea of green, you quickly get into a meditative mood.  The Tiger can be whisper quiet when it wants to be, and we purred through that green cathedral in near silence.



You can't help but get that look on your face on the M-119.



We ended up getting redirected off the tunnel road due to construction and never found our way back.  We eventually got to Petoskey, which I was interested in seeing because it was where Earnest Hemingway used to spend his summers as a child.  It's box stores and hotels bent under the weight of lots of tourists nowadays.  If Hemingway were to return, I'm not sure much of it would ring a bell.


Out of the heat in a McDonalds at lunch we ran into our doppelgangers again.  They suggested an alternate route out of Petoskey and we wished each other a safe trip once again.  A short time later one of the retirees working there walked up to chat about bikes, he had a big old Harley in the lot and couldn't identify the Tiger.  When I told him it was a Triumph he got the same happy, nostalgic expression that a lot of people did when I told them what we were riding.  There is a lot of good will and nostalgia around the marquee in the States.

On the road again we struck east across the peninsula aiming for Alpena on the Huron coast, but between the heat, increasing traffic and the strong westerly winds, we were both losing the will to get there.  We turned south on 65 and wound our way through Huron National Forest, stopping for an ice cream in Glennie.  The lovely young lady who served us told of her hours spent horseback riding the day before, then three local farmers came in for a cone and were curious about the Triumph.  It was all very nice.  When we left she came out to her car that had a big 'Vote Trump' bumper sticker on it.  I found it hard to reconcile how nice Americans were with the insane politics they practice.


Old Detroit charm - built back in
the day when the motor city was
a world traveller destination,
the Bay Valley Resort reminds
of the golden years.
When we finally turned onto 23 heading back out to the interstate I gave a barbaric yawp in my helmet, as it felt like we'd never get there.  The final blast down the interstate in 60km/hr cross winds was performed using shear will power.  We staggered in to the Bay Valley Resort after nine hours and over 450kms on the road in strong winds and relentless heat.

Bay Valley Resort was a real treat.  Cheaper than Breakers, but better in every way.  If you like modern hotels, this isn't for you, but if you like character, Bay Valley has oodles.  The doors are made out of wood (!), and the entire resort is situated in the middle of a golf course.  It's much more adult orientated, but it had all the accoutrements my son loves.  The pool is an indoor/outdoor design with a river between them, and the spa was a hard hitting jet affair with strong bubbles perfect for loosening up sore muscles after a long day in the wind.  The whole thing was set into patterned concrete.  The on-site restaurant was swathed in dark wood and was both classy and dated, I loved it!  The food was chef prepared but priced very reasonably.  We fell asleep feeling well cared for in the silence of a golf course at night - no sounds of screaming children anywhere.

We woke up the next morning and hit the pool one last time.  Max wasn't keen to mount up for yet another day on the road.  Day one had been a high mileage sweat box, day 2 a rainy, windy ride with an interminable border wait, and day 3 was a high mileage meander across the peninsula in heat and high winds.  We were both tired, and having to get my pillion in motion made it even heavier.  After a late breakfast we finally got on the road just before 11am and I made a command decision to take the Interstate rather than head over to the coast on another back road ride.  No wind and less heat made our interstate jaunt through poor, old Flint, Michigan a relatively painless affair.  Flint feels like a ghost town at the best of times, but this year it felt abandoned.  We stopped at a rest stop on the i69 on the way to the Canadian border when Max got a leg cramp, but otherwise high-tailed it home.


Distracted Stratford drivers put that look on my face.
It took all of five minutes to line up and cross the border back into Sarnia.  Heading into The States was misery, coming home was a dream.  We stopped in Sarnia for lunch and then hit the bricks for the final ride home.  We thundered up the 402 on the long legged Tiger before angling off toward Stratford on back roads.  After over sixteen hundred kilometres of riding, much of it through wilderness, it was the ride through Stratford and its dithering, well dressed theatre patrons that was the most dangerous.  We were cut off and almost run over by people less worried about killing us than they were making their curtain call.  It was the only moment on the trip that I was tempted to chase someone down in order to thump them.


Back in the stable after a flawless
1600+kms ride, what a champ!
We finally pulled into the driveway just before 6pm, sore but elated.  The ride had its challenges, but the memories made were keepers.  The road into Sault Ste. Marie is lovely and surprisingly mountainous.  The Mackinac Bridge is a must-do experience, and riding down the tunnel of trees is like attending the best church ever.  Java Joes makes a good food stop and Bay Valley Resort is a forgotten gem worth staying at if you're in the area.

All in all it was a great adventure, albeit a trying one.  Sometimes, usually when it's least comfortable, I wonder why I'm doing this to myself, but the memories sort out the discomfort from the awesome, and the awesome always wins.





Riding the Tunnel of Trees road in northern Michigan http://www.motorcycleroads.com/75/309/Michigan/Tunnel-of-Trees-Road.html#sthash.BxFBBpqw.dpbs - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA


Rainbow connection sung by Alanna



Friday, 22 July 2016

Tiger Pre-Flight Checks

I've never monkeyed with the suspension on the Tiger, but since I'm a 250lber and I ride 2-up with my son who's an easy 130lbs, I thought I'd look into setting the suspension before our 1500km round-Huron trip.

A kindly Dubliner on Triumphrat had a copy of the owner's manual page that explains how to set the Tiger's rear suspension.  A two-up loaded bike should be spring pre-load set to the highest setting (5), while the rebound damping should be set three clicks out from all the way in.


Making the changes was pretty straightforward.  The spring pre-load adjuster is easily accessible under the seat.  The numbers on it are bit tricky to see, but you can quickly set the pre-load to the desired setting once you find them at the bottom of the cylinder.

The rebound damping adjuster is at the bottom of the shock and easily accessible.  Turning it in until it was snug was straight forward and the clicks are loud and easily detectable.  Turning it out three clicks was an obvious process.

I took the bike for a ride today to get gas and prep for the trip.  It feels firmer, less bouncy and taller than before.  I'm enjoying the change.

Once back I set the tyre pressures to 36psi front and 42psi back and looked over the tires for any issues.  I've spent the rest of the day packing as if for a portage canoe trip (packing for a long bike ride is similar).

While out and about I stopped in at Two Wheel Motorsport and picked up an Airhawk.  I'd been thinking about getting one anyway after the nasty case of monkey-butt I got riding it to The Bruce last week.  The gel pad I was using gets moved to the pillion seat, so everyone gets a seat upgrade.

Airhawk pricing is a bit baffling.  The tiny dual-sport seat (11.5" deep x11" wide) cost $230, the much larger medium cruiser seat pad (14" x 14") costs $148.  We tried out the medium cruiser sized one and it fit the Tiger seat better anyway, so I saved myself eighty bucks and purchased the larger pad. (?)  I'll give an update after I put an intensive 1500kms in unbelievable heat on it.

While I was under the seat I found the height settings on it, so I moved it up one from minimum.  It might quickly find its way to the top setting, but middle with the Airhawk has already relaxed my knees dramatically, just in time for a Great Lake ride-around.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

That Moment When You Realize The Difference Between Road Tires & Multi-purpose Tires

I went out for a blast on Saturday of the long weekend.  It wasn't a long ride, just up and down the few windy roads near where I live that follow the Grand River before heading home for an oil change.

The Tiger was frisky and I was enjoying exploring its limits.  After a run up and down the north shore I crossed the river on a road I don't usually take.  Coming up the south river bank hill, I think I'm still a few hundred yards from the stop sign when I finally pick it out of the growth on the side of the road and realize it's only about forty yards ahead of me; I'm doing 80km/hr and the Tiger doesn't stop that quickly from 80km/hr.

Ahead on the right you can see the stop sign, but this spring it's in long grass and the trees have filled out around it.

Between smaller tires in general and a curved profile to
manage cornering on half as many contact patches,
motorcycle tires do an amazingly good job.
Motorcycle tires do an astonishing job of gripping the pavement with barely any contact patch.  I've had to dig deep into braking at various times and have always come away surprised at how well they grip with so little contact to the pavement.  Of course, I've only ever ridden road bikes with road biased tires until this spring (the KLX doesn't count, I barely road it and besides, those big, knobby tires slapping on the pavement were a constant reminder that it wasn't a road bike).

Finding myself astride an athletic Tiger coming in too hot to a stop sign with through traffic doing the better part of 100km/hr had me realizing I'm in a bit of bother.  You can feel remarkably naked on a motorcycle in that moment.  If I can't stop in time I'll end up in the intersection, possibly side swiped by a two ton box.

As the adrenaline begins to course through me I'm happy to note that my right foot is already deep into the rear brake and my right hand is squeezing the front brake hard.  Meanwhile my clutch hand has me in neutral already.  The rear has locked up and is snaking about back there.  I've never had a rear lock up that quickly before.  The bike is shedding heaps of momentum but I'm not going to stop in time.  I go deeper into the front brake where all the bike's weight is concentrated and it starts to skittle as it too locks up.  You can slide down the street in a car all day, but staying vertical on a bike with two locked wheels seldom happens.  All of this is flashing through my mind while my body is doing its own thing, I'm not consciously doing anything at this point.  My foot remains locked on the rear brake, but to my surprise my hand immediately eases off and reapplies brake over and over whenever the front starts to wobble; I didn't know it would do that.  Even with all that adrenaline I'm happy to learn that I didn't freeze up or lock up and drop the bike; I'm glad I have smart hands and feet.  Maybe all that reading about motorcycle dynamics has paid off.


The big Tiger is crouched down on its long front suspension, trying to shed all that forward momentum into the ground.  I would have stopped already on the Ninja with its sticky Avon road tires and hard suspension, but this isn't a purpose built road bike with pavement biased tires, it's a tall trail bike with multipurpose tires - tires that are evidently very easy to lock up, though I didn't know that until now.


These are wicked all rounders - they handle the road well
and are magical on loose stuff, but there is compromise in that
I've shed the majority of my velocity but I'm still not going to stop in time.  Things have slowed enough, and my hands and feet seem to know what they're doing without me telling them, so I glance up and down the road as I near the intersection; it's all clear in both directions.  I immediately release the brakes and roll over the painted white line marking where to stop - impending lock up on that wouldn't have gone well.  I glide through the intersection, release the clutch and continue down the country road in front of me in too high a gear.

"Get your head on straight!" I say to myself as I gear down and move off down the road.  You don't miss stop signs until it's too late on a motorcycle, especially when you're going to be entering a through way with high speed traffic.  Getting t-boned in a car there would probably have been fatal, getting t-boned on a bike would have been a certainty.

There are two take aways from this little incident.  Firstly, pay better attention and approach unfamiliar, overgrown intersections in a more circumspect manner.  The Tiger's big triple gets you going quickly so easily that it's easy to forget how fast you're moving - keep that in mind too.  Secondly, those Metzelers may feel fantastic on gravel and loose dirt (and they do, the bike is astonishingly stable), but they aren't grippy like road tires and they'll lock up early on you in an emergency.

I was remarkably calm afterwards and enjoyed the rest of the ride.  Even during the emergency braking and immediately after I didn't get the shakes or anything like that.  This turned into a good learning opportunity about a few key items.  I now know how I handle emergency braking (better than I could have hoped), and I've learned the dynamic limitations of multipurpose tires, all with no penalty.

If it happens again I might give myself a smack in the head, but it won't.

A picture perfect day for a ride along the Grand River...


Back home and all cleaned up - that engine will get you going faster than you think you are, and the bike's athleticism
will encourage you to push it, but those tires aren't up to 10/10ths road riding, so keep that in mind ya big git.