Showing posts with label motorcycle repair. Show all posts
Showing posts with label motorcycle repair. Show all posts

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Plugs, Calipers and Frozen Feet

The spark plug (bottom right) is easy to get to once
you remove the distributor caps mounted to the frame.
Yesterday began with a spark plug change on the Concours.  There are two (for lack of a better term) distributor caps (CoG got me sorted, they're coils!) in the shape of cylinders attached to the frame under the fuel tank.  Removing these makes for a fairly straightforward spark plug swap.  Someone had been in here before as one of the distributors wasn't properly attached to the frame (the rear bolt was seized).  With the unit removed it was relatively easy to free everything up in the vice.

I used to be pretty good at gapping plugs by eye, but I hadn't done it in a while.  I got better as I worked through the plugs and the last one only needed a minor adjustment.  The plugs all came out without issue and the new ones went in by hand and then got torqued to spec (14Nm).
The two middle plugs are tucked in behind the radiator and don't collect much road cruft.  The two on the outside
have a tougher life.   Other than being filthy, the plugs didn't show any internal issues.
With the plugs sorted and the under tank electrics cleaned and seated properly, I turned my attention to the rear brake caliper.  I've got a replacement metal brake line, so the old rusty rubber one is going in the spares bin.  The caliper came apart quite easily.  The rear brake on the Concours has always been excellent, but was starting to whine as the pads got thin.  With nothing seized and the main bits just needing a good cleaning, I think this will go back together nicely with new pads and brake lines.  I'd meant to order a caliper rebuild kit from Canada's Motorcycle, but my order got mixed up with a bearing puller I didn't need.  At least now I can tell you how good their return process is.

follow-up:  I requested a return on January 24th and got a shipping label in a reply email a day latter (which I thought was good).  I sent it off that day.  I just got a confirmation email today (Feb 3 - 10 days later) saying it will be another 3-6 days before I see a refund... and I'm charged seven bucks for returning it.  Compared to's over the top customer service (immediate, free returns, what can we do to prevent this happening in the future?), I'm left thinking twice about shopping on

While I'm waiting on the rear caliper rebuild kit I can do the fronts, which is what I'm aiming to get done today.  It's officially frickin cold outside (-20°C overnight, -12°C now), and even with the thick rubber mats I've got down in the garage and the heater going, I still ended up with foot cramps from the cold at the end of three hours in there yesterday.  Winter in Canada can get pretty tedious.  This is one of those days.  If someone called and said they could fly me somewhere warm to ride a bike next weekend, I'd be in heaven.

The two cylindrical distributor caps (COILS! bottom middle &
top right with the spark plug wires coming out of them)
are held down by two bolts.  Once removed from the
frame spark plug access is straight forward.
A longer view of the spark plug.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Connie's Ready For Some Miles

It hasn't been easy, but then that was kind of the point.  The leaking engine on the field-found '94 Kawasaki Concours seemed like it would never stop dripping, but it finally has.  I've learned a lot in the process and become familiar with the layout of the bike.

The previous owner rode around with the fairing off.  The abuse to the bottom end of the engine from road debris cost me an oil cooler.  I tried to get it repaired through the metal shop at our school, but it turned out not to be an easy fix.  I eventually gave ebay a try purchasing a replacement oil cooler through Pinwall Cycle Parts.  I'd highly recommend them.  The cooler I got off a '97 was in fantastic shape, got to me very quickly and cost 1/8th what a new one does.

With the bottom end sorted out it's time to look to the fairings.  The bike has been dropped on one side, and the fairings need some TLC.  With the fairings sorted the bike should be ready to go come the end of the snows.

That's a new-to-me oil cooler that works like a charm

The rest of the bottom end has been cleaned up... no drips now.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Concours Oil Cooler Leak

Now that I've had a chance to run the Concours a bit and got some fresh oil in it I've discovered the first mechanical problem.  Oil is running from the oil cooler at the front of the motor.  It looks localized around the oil lines coming out of the oil cooler.  I'm hoping it's the gaskets highlighted (GASKET 14X19.5X1.4 11009-1461).  They're only a couple of bucks each and they might even be a standard size that I don't have to go all the way down to the dealer for.

With the fairings off I had a look around the rest of the engine now that it's been run a bit and everything else looks tight and dry.  With luck some cheap gaskets and re-torqued oil lines will mean a mechanically able Concours that's ready for the road.

You can see the wet oil line connectors at the bottom - fortunately that seems to be the leak.
There is no trace of oil higher up.
Connie with her skirts off again...

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Complete Connie

Thanks to the kindness of CoG, some much needed bits and pieces from Murphs Kits, parts from my local Kawi dealer Two Wheel Motorsport and an awesome Givi box and windshield from A Vicious Cycle, the Connie is finally back on her feet!

The parts I needed consisted of your basic filters and fluids, some clutch lever bits, a number of rusty connectors, a speedo gear housing (the cable got replaced too), and replacement levers for the rusted out old ones.  At a CoG suggestion I looked at Murph's and found a full set of stainless replacement fasteners.  The bike was missing a number of them and the rest were in various states of disrepair.  I now have a pile of spares and new ones on the bike.  They look great and the whole deluxe set was less than seventy bucks.  Murph also had stainless replacement clutch and brake levers for only twenty bucks each, so I picked those up too.

The nicest surprise was the Concours Owners Group (best membership fee I've ever paid for!).  When asking about aftermarket options for the master cylinder covers I broke getting rusted bolts out, one of the moderators offered to mail me up a spare set from Florida in exchange for an adult beverage at some future time.  If you own a Connie, COG is a must do.  I get the sense that even if you don't have a Concours, COG is still something special.

With everything back together she hummed around our cul-de-sac in fine form.  No leaks, controls feel sharp, I think she's ready for a run at a safety.  If she passes I'm going to semi-retire the Ninja and put it up for sale and spend the rest of the season seeing what the Connie can do.  Once the snow closes in I'll break it down again and do the body work so next spring it looks as good as it runs.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Concours d'Elegance

After a couple of weeks of cleanup and repair, the Concours is back together.  I'm going to take it in for a safety this week and then see about getting it on the road.  I'm waiting on some replacement master cylinder covers and some clutch lever bits.  They should be in mid-week.  I hope to have the safety done by the end of the week.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Sense of Accomplishment!

It's alive.... ALIVE!!!
After fiddling with the speedometer gear housing I was told to make sure I have the line on the back of the suspension and the housing lined up.  I put it back together that way and still didn't get anything, so I took it apart again and tried putting it on 180° from before and bingo, the speedo began to spin.  If you're having trouble with speedo gear housings, try putting it on the other way and turning it to line up with the fork housing mark.

Love that red - the Connie will be getting panels refinished
over the cold months...
All the gauges on the Connie work now, so I'm going to begin to reassemble it after changing out the oil and filter.  I'm hoping to have it back together in the next week or so and then I can take an honest run at a safety and see how it does.  Everything else seems to be in good form.  It starts at a touch of the button and idles steadily after a moment on choke.  The throttle is clear, sharp and very responsive now.  The
brakes feel strong and sure.  After reassembly and a final cleanup, hopefully it'll fly through safety and then I'll have to make some hard decisions about the Ninja.  

It would be nice to get some miles on the Connie before the snows fall.

New speedo cable runs in behind the bottom of the front shock from the right.  It reads accurately and runs quietly.

Hard not to love that big one litre engine... it burst to life with a growl and revs with surprising eagerness.  Smooth as butter too...

Everything comes to life and reads accurately now...

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Getting Connie Back On Her Feet

The front wheel is off to replace
the speedometer gear housing.
So far the cost in parts has been only about $85 for a new speedometer gear from my local Kawi dealer: Two Wheel Motorsport.  Other than that it's been a matter of checking connections and adjusting some poorly run throttle cables.

The gas gauge (reading low/inaccurately) was a loose electrical connection under the tank, cleaned up and connected properly it took about five minutes.  The temperature gauge was similar, just cleaning connections at the sensor (on the left side of the radiator) resolved that.

The speedo was a bit of a puzzle.  I got a new cable assuming the old one has seized (only about ten bucks), but it didn't resolve the issue.  Putting a drill on the cable had the speedometer showing 70km/hr accurately.  The odometer and trip meter both register too, so it wasn't an issue with the gauges.  I looked at the speedo gear housing in the front hub and it didn't spin even when the wheel was.  Robert on the Two Wheel parts desk said these seize up if not lubricated well - they also seize up if the bike wasn't run for a while (as mine wasn't).  He said to make sure I grease the end well when I install the new one.

Well lubed and routed properly, the
throttle cable snaps back perfectly.
The new part should be here Friday.  The local dealer cost about five bucks more than online, but didn't charge me thirty plus bucks in shipping and customs costs, so that's a clear win for buying OEM parts from your local dealer.

The sticking throttle was a matter of taking the cable ends apart at the handlebar and lubing and re-routing them properly - the return cable didn't look like it was installed properly on the higher-rise custom bars on the bike.  After lubing the cables and cleaning the handlebar mechanism I routed the return cable in the proper spot behind the pull cable.  It was tricky getting it all back together again, but once it was done up the throttle was tight, smooth and snapped back like a champ.

I'm hoping to have the speedo done in the next couple of days and then put the bike together for a safety next week.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Connie's Home

It's a very Kawasaki garage!
The Concours is home.  After a long bath (engine cleaner and a deep rinse) she fired right up.  I like this bike, even when it's covered in cobwebs and has been sitting outside for a year unridden it's still got fight in it.  The engine has gobs of torque and pulls hard.  The controls are stiff, but the gear changes are very smooth.  Shaft drive seems like magic.

So far she seems to be as advertised: good mechanicals but a mess aesthetically.  Over the next few days I'll be breaking her down and seeing what needs doing.  Hopefully there won't be any surprises.

It's a two bike garage now...
The Connie cleans up nicely


Friday, 14 March 2014

Putting The Ninja Back Together

We had our first above zero day this week and I giddily began rebuilding the Ninja thinking that I'd have a chance to take it out soon.  It's been snowing all day today and all hope it lost, but when the sun was out I could finally get to the paint touch ups needed.  The insulated garage isn't ideal for painting if the outside temperature is under minus ten Celsius which it has been for most of the winter.

On my first day of spring I popped open the garage door and touched up the headlight cover and fuel tank, both of which had imperfections in my initial paint application.  Now that they're clean and perfect, I can rebuild the front end.

With the temperature up the paint cures on the body panels very smoothly.  It needs to be well above 10° Celsius for the paint not to bead and bubble on the surface.  The front fairing and fuel tank lay in the warm March sunlight and cured perfectly - it was about 20°C.  The Rustoleum paint on the right covers fantastically well.   If you're looking for paint that will cover smoothly on plastic and metal, this is the stuff.

I'm going to two tone the air intakes on the fairings following a design that more current Ninjas use.  Unfortunately I didn't heed my own advice and I rushed in there yesterday morning when it was still too cold and the paint beaded.  Today I'm going to be sanding it down so I can get a smooth coat on in the heat.

It was nice to have the garage open and to be finishing up the winter repairs, maintenance and body touch ups.  It's supposed to be a warm (by warm I mean above zero) day again today.  With the insulated shop and the sun shining in I should be able to finish up the paint and begin to rebuilt the frame on the bike.

While casting about for a fairingless streetfighter option for the bike I came across some cheap options for replacing fairings.  I'd still like to try and source some of the bodywork from the fairingless ER6N, but it wasn't available in Canada in 2007 and I'd have to go to Europe to find the pieces.  It looks like the fairingless bike has small plastic covers over the coolant tank and that's about it.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

The Stable

My dream garage always had to be kind of huge to fit all the cars I wanted in it.  With the new bike
infatuation I get to dream of a more condensed (and plausible) dream garage.  It's still got room for the necessary evil (I live in Canada, some days a bike just won't do it), so I took the two car garage and doubled it to make a workshop in the back.

The car garage is separated by a dividing wall with a single garage door in it to allow larger vehicle access into the workshop.  There is a half size roll up door on the side for direct bike access.  The garage is wired in, but also has a turbine and solar collection.  In the winter this runs the high efficiency heater in the workshop.  In the summer is pushes a small, high efficiency air conditioner into the workshop.  The goal is to keep the workshop above freezing in the winter and below 25 degrees in the summer.

The battery packs and computer controls for the wind turbine and solar inputs are upstairs, as are the heating and cooling units, both of which feed into the workshop directly.  There is also room for storage upstairs.  Access is made through a pull down staircase in the back of the car garage.

The workshop has space for 5-6 bikes, though I think I'd keep 3 working bikes on hand, and one project bike.  I'd also keep a shed at the side for a couple of dirt bikes.

As for what I'd fill the workshop with, at the moment I'm all about the British bike.  A Triumph Street Triple, a Royal Enfield Classic with a sidecar and a Triumph Tiger 800XC would be what I'd have on had to regularly ride.  The other side of the shop has the half car/half bike Morgan3 Trike.

Royal Enfield Classic with sidecar
Triumph Tiger 800XC
The Tiger is a great all rounder that can get you anywhere.  A nimble adventure bike that also loves to carve up roads, this'd be my go to for long rides.

The Royal Enfield Classic with sidecar is a classic with modern technology.  It would let me share the open road with my son in a way he'd truly dig.
Morgan 3 Wheeler

The Triumph Street Triple is a naked bike built for the road.  It's fast, responsive and sounds wonderful.  This would be my dedicated road bike.

What I don't show in the plan is the project bike.  This would change quite frequently, depending on how much work the bike needs.  At the moment I think I'd like to bring an '80s Honda Interceptor back from the dead.

Honda VFR 750 Interceptor
The idea behind the dream garage is to have a workshop for bike maintenance and restoration.  I've really enjoyed restoring the 650r Ninja I've got now, and I'd like to keep doing that kind of work.  To that end I think I'd include a bike sized bench style spray booth, as well as a compressor in the workshop.  I enjoy both mechanical as well as body work, and it would be nice to have the space and tools to do both well.