Showing posts sorted by relevance for query concours carburetor. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query concours carburetor. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, 13 March 2016

There is always one more thing...

The open road awaits, and it's still waiting...
Recent frustrations with the twenty two year old Concours had me saying yesterday, "I like doing mechanical work, but sometimes I just want to go ride a fucking motorcycle."  It was a day in the mid teens Celsius (almost 60 Fahrenheit), and the sound of motorcycle engines could be heard on distant roads.  After spending the winter redoing the brakes, wheels and bearings, I got the Concours back on its feet only to find the carburetor has gone off.  The bike is running lean, not fueling nicely and back-fires when coming off throttle.  Instead of going out for a ride on one of the first nice days of the year, I was popping and swearing my way up and down the road by my house trying to get the carb to play nice.

Some vacuum diagrams on there, but not where they go.  Another
suggestion for lean burning/back firing conditions (which I have) are
the air cut valve (highlighted).
Some research into Concours carbs produced a baffling array of opinion and vitriol.  It appears that no one who works at a dealership has the experience or time to do carbs properly any more, and the carbs on the Concours are fantastically complicated.

I've done carbs before on cars, and labyrinthine vacuum tubes aren't a problem when you have a diagram to follow, but Clymers doesn't include one in their manual (unless it's for California bikes), and the Kawasaki diagrams show bits of vacuum diagram spread across the valve head blowup, the carb blow up, the fuel tank blowup, air box blow up and others.  Needless to say, trying to chase vacuum connections across half a dozen diagrams isn't easy.

Today I'm taking the fairing I just put on back off, removing the gas tank (again) and trying to make sense of the vacuum tubes.  If nothing obvious presents itself it'll be time to remove the carbs and go deeper.  I just did something similar on the XS1100 in the fall.  I haven't had time to work on it since because I'm spending all my garage time on the Concours.

I'm starting to think one project bike is enough.  The other one needs to be modern, dependable and there when I need it so I can, sometimes, you know, just go ride a damned bike.

Sources for Concours carburetor and vacuum information:

As usual, CoG is the place to go first:
http://forum.cog-online.org/index.php?topic=27077.0
http://forum.cog-online.org/index.php?topic=38095.0
http://forum.cog-online.org/index.php/topic,11914.0.html

CoG wisdom on Concours carbs:
Normally it is caused by dirty carbs and and not being sync'd properly. The dirty part can be from just a few days of sitting due to the ethanol evaporating....

it's very likely during the "cleaning" they did not dissassemble the air-cut valves from the 2 carb bodies prior to spraying with volatile carb cleaner. internal to each of those housings is a very delicate diphragm, not unlike the ones that lift the slides....during this process they damaged them, and at the least, never cleaned the rod attached to those diphragms that during decell, when the diphragm moves, opens a port to add fuel to the intake tract to preclude/prevent a "lean burn popping" upon decell. That is the sole purpose of those 2 valves, when they don't function, you get this result.

Check the vacumn stuff like you already mentioned. I had a back fire for a while, peeked under the tank, found the rubber cap on the #3 carb was split. Just for the fun of it, replaced all the hoses while there, good to go now.

You Cannot do away with the reed valves entirely unless you tap the ports in the actual valve cover and thread in some set screws. The easier way here is to leave the reed valves and metal covers on the valve cover, and remove all the vacuum hosing associated with the pair valve. Go to your local auto parts store, and pick up three 5/8" "heater core block off caps". They look like big vacuum caps, and also some 3/16" regular vacuum caps. Using the 5/8" Cap off the 2 ports left on the valve cover, and insert one backwards into the airbox hole. Use the 3/16" to block the intake ports.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Evolution of Motorcycle Ownership and a Triumphant Return

Back in August of 2014 I wanted to take a more active role in my motorcycle maintenance.  At that point I'd been riding for just over a year on my first bike, a very dependable 2007 Kawasaki Ninja 650r.  I learned a lot on that bike, but it was a turn-key experience, the bike needed very little in the way of maintenance.   

The Ninja went from flat black to metallic blue and orange.  It was the last bike I rode that people commented on (I'd often get a thumbs up or have someone stop and chat in a parking lot about how nice the bike looked, which was satisfying as I'd been instrumental in restoring it from angry-young-man flat black).  The Ninja was, without a doubt, a good introduction to motorcycling, and was the king of the roost for my first two seasons.


As a first bike, the Ninja led the way both on the road and at the top of the blog.

I wanted my next bike to be one that ran because of my mechanical skills rather than one that didn't need them.  I found a 1994 Kawasaki Concours sitting in some long grass about twenty minutes away.  I quickly discovered that sense of satisfaction I was looking for.  The Concours was an eager patient who rewarded a winter of mechanical work with a rock solid five thousand miles of riding the next summer.

The Concours has offered some memorable rides, especially looping Georgian Bay and riding on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  For a bike that looked like it was being permanently parked with only 25k on it, suddenly it was back in the game, going places other bikes only dream of.

That busy season of long rides took its toll on the Concours though.  It isn't a spring chicken and after having spent the better part of two years parked before I got to it many of the soft parts on the bike were getting brittle.  I parked the Concours early and began winter maintenance knowing that the bearings and brakes both needed attention only to miss out on a late season warm spell at the end of November and into December.  I took that one on the nose figuring that's what happens when you ride an old bike as your daily rider.


The header on this blog for the past eighteen months, but running a twenty-two year old bike as your daily rider
makes for frustrations.  Time to be less sentimental and more rational in how I manage my stable.

That summer we were touring on the Concours I picked up a KLX250 to experience off road riding, but doubling insurance costs for a bike that I only managed to get out on a handful of times didn't feel very efficient.  That I struggled to keep up with traffic on it didn't support the way I like to ride.  Motorcycles are open and unprotected, but they are also agile and powerful enough to get out of a tight squeeze - except when they aren't.  The Concours was always there and the preferred ride, owning the road when I was on it.  When I went out with my co-rider he also loved the big red Connie, not so much the rock hard, under-powered KLX (he only ever rode on it once for less than five minutes).

Over the winter I put some money into the Concours, doing up the rims and getting new tires.  With the rims off I also did the bearings and brakes.  As everything came back together again, suddenly the carburetors weren't cooperating.  They're since being rebuilt and the bike should be back together again this weekend, but instead of always being there, suddenly the Concours wasn't.  As winter receded I could hear other bikes growling down the road, but I was grounded (again), even though I was paying insurance on two machines and longing to get back out on the road after an always too long Canadian winter.

The KLX was the first to go.  I'd never really bonded with it and, even though I always figured I'd run this blog with my most recent bike in the graphic at the top, the KLX never made it there; it never felt like the main focus of my motorcycling.  In the same week my son's never-ridden PW-80 got sold, and suddenly I had some money aside.


Ready to go with a new header, but it never took.

As days of potential riding keep ticking by and the carburetor work drags on, the Concours started to feel like an expensive anchor rather than the wings of freedom.  I had a long talk with my wife about it.  She asked why I don't unload it and get something dependable.  Keep the old XS1100 for that sense of mechanical satisfaction, but have a bike that's ready to ride.  I think sentiment was paralyzing me.  Hearing a rational point of view with some perspective really helped.
Many moons ago,
a pre-digital Triumph

With cash in an envelope I began looking around.  Before Easter we weathered an ice storm, but only two days later it was suddenly in the teens Celsius and bikes could be heard thundering down the road.  Meanwhile I was waiting for yet more parts for the Concours.  Online I was looking at sensible all purpose bikes that would fit a big guy.  Vstroms and Versys (Versi?) came and went, but they felt like a generic (they are quite common) compromise, I wasn't excited about buying one.

Since I started riding I've been on Triumph Canada's email list even though I've never come close to owning one (out of my league price-wise, no one else I know had one, no local dealer... pick your reason).  As a misguided teenager I purchased an utterly useless Triumph Spitfire, and in spite of that misery I've always had a soft spot for the brand (your adolescent brain makes your teenage experiences sparkle with emotion even when you're older, that's why we all still listen to the music from our teens).


A Tiger?  On Kijiji?  Must have
escaped from a zoo!
While trawling around on Kijiji looking at hordes of generic, look-a-like adventure bikes I came across an actual Tiger.  It was (as are all Triumphs I've mooned over) too expensive for me, but that Lucifer Orange (!) paint haunted me.

Another rare warm afternoon wafted by with the sounds of motorcycles on the road so I thought, what the hell, and emailed the owner.  He'd been sitting on the bike for the better part of two months with no calls.  He was going down to the Triumph dealer on Thursday to trade it in on a new Street Triple and knew he was going to get caned by them on the trade in price.  He emailed me back and said if I had three quarters of what he'd been asking, he'd rather sell it to me than give the dealer the satisfaction.  Suddenly this fantastic looking machine was plausible.


The garage is 100% more functional than it was last week,
100% more glamorous too!
A trip up to Ontario's West Coast and I got to meet a nice young man who was a recent UK immigrant and a nuclear operator at the Bruce Plant.  The bike was as advertised (well looked after, second owner, some minor cosmetic imperfections), and suddenly I owned a freaking 2003 Triumph Tiger 955i!

Most used bikes offer up some surprises when you first get them, and they usually aren't nice surprises.  The Ninja arrived with wonky handlebars the previous owner told me nothing about.  The XS1100 arrived with no valid ownership, something the previous owner failed to mention during the sale.  So far the Tiger has had nice surprises.  It arrived with a Triumph branded tank bag specific to the bike.  Oh, by the way, the previous owner said, the first owner put a Powercommander on it, and then he handed me the USB cable and software for it.  It had also been safetied in October, less than two hundred kilometres ago (paperwork included), so while I didn't buy it safetied, it shouldn't be difficult to do.  The bike has fifty thousand kilometres on it, but I then discovered that the first owner did two extended trips to Calgary and back (10k+ kms each time) - so even though it's got some miles on it, many of them are from long trips that produce minimal engine wear.  After giving it a clean the bike has no wonky bits under the seats or anywhere else.  I cannot wait to get riding it.



So, here I am at the beginning of a new era with my first European bike.  I've finally picked up a Triumph from the other side of the family tree (the bike and automobile manufacturing components of Triumph split in 1936), and I've got a bike I'm emotionally engaged with.  It might even be love!  Like the BMW I rented in Victoria, the controls seem to fit my hands and feet without feeling cramped and the riding position is wonderfully neutral.  When I'm in the saddle my feet are flat on the ground - just. Best of all, I don't look like a circus bear on a tricycle on it.


With the Concours officially decommissioned and awaiting (what are hopefully) the last parts it needs before being road worthy again, it's time to update the blog header:



What's next?  The Concours will be sold with only a modicum of sentiment, the Tiger will be safetied and on the road (it cost $90 a year more than the Concours to insure), and I'll enjoy having an operational, trustworthy machine made in the same place I was with lots of life left in it.  The fact that it was getting me thumbs up and one guy stopping to say what a nice bike it was when it was on the trailer on the way home doesn't hurt either.  Riding a tiger has a certain magic to it.

When I want to turn a wrench I'll work on the XS, getting it rolling again for the first time in years.  I'll get the ownership sorted on it (affidavits are required!) and eventually sell it without losing a penny, and then I'll go looking for my next project bike.  Maybe a scrambler Versys, maybe an old Interceptor, maybe something I haven't thought of yet.


Time for some unbridled Tiger enthusiasm!


Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies. 
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain, 
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp, 
Dare its deadly terrors clasp! 

When the stars threw down their spears 
And water'd heaven with their tears: 
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright, 
In the forests of the night: 
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?





Sunday, 29 September 2019

My First Honda: Fireblade!

I've had a pretty diverse group of R&R  (repair & recover) motorcycles to date.  My first R&R bike was the '94 Kawasaki Concours ZG1000 back in 2014.  Purchased for eight hundred bucks and cut out of long grass to get it out of the field it was in, the Concours got sorted over the winter and put back on the road where it took us to Indianapolis and went on to over twenty thousand kilometres of mileage before I sold it on for what I purchased it for this past summer.

The Concours became my regular riding bike so I sold on the Ninja.  Eventually a KLX250 off road bike came into the garage, but didn't last long as I struggled to find ways to use it in Ontario: land of no fun.  That led to a too-quick purchase of a Yamaha XS1100 from an entirely dodgy kid that led me into the headaches of sorting ownership.  That experience has made me more cautious in buying used bikes.  The belief is that all motorcyclists are salt of the earth types, but that isn't my experience; shifty would be a better description.


So far I've been able to make money on my R&R projects, Shed and Buried style, but I don't make it easy on myself.  Both the Concours and the XS1100 were big, four carburetor bikes with spaghetti loads of vacuum tubes and complex wiring.  I've taken my time looking for the next project and tried to look for something simple, air cooled and single cylinder, but bikes like that don't come up often.  As the summer fades and winter approaches, it was time to commit to a new R&R project.


This 1997 Honda CBR900RR Fireblade came up on Facebook buy and sell.  I've found the local nature of Facebook's marketplace offers up interesting opportunities that you don't find on the hardened semi-pro sellers of Kijiji and Autotrader, where you are much more likely to find shady characters who sell a lot of crap.  This twenty-two year old non-running Honda got me curious enough to contact the seller in Alliston.


It turns out the bike had gotten tangled in a divorce and was then sidelined.  It was eventually used to settle debts between the estranged couple, but now it belonged to a non-rider with no mechanical experience who just wanted it gone.  Her new partner was trying to sell it for her, but with it not running he wasn't getting any calls.  A late nineties CBR in safetied, running condition was going for about $4000, he was asking $1200 for this one as is.

We exchanged a number of emails, both of us cautious as we'd both met idiots from online sales (it turns out the internet is actually full of idiots).  As we got to know each other I asked increasingly direct questions - was is repainted to hide crash damage? (no, the former owner didn't like the stickered stock look)  - why is it in this state?  (where I got the bad karma backstory this bike was unfortunately wrapped up in).  The last problem to solve was how to get it here.

During our give and take the seller offered me the bike for $1200 instead of $1300, and then said he could trailer it down to my place for $100, so I got it at asking price with a $100 delivery charge.  The bike showed up and we had a good chat and ended up being given a milk crate full of pears from his parent's farm too.  Bonus Honda pears - good deal.  This low mileage, non-runner seemed like a steal upon first look.  The paint's a bit rough, but for a 20+ year old low mileage bike, she cleaned up a treat.

I was told the bike was a non-runner due to the carbs.  As I got into the bike mechanically I figured I'd look at the fuel system as a whole rather than only looking solely at the carb since I didn't know how long it had been sitting.  I'm glad I did.  The fuel tank had a worrying amount of rust in it.  I talked to people on the Practical Sportsbike Magazine Facebook group (one of my go-to bike magazines and a great place to talk to DIY types) and got suggestions around various acid etching and chemical routes.

I went out to Canadian Tire aiming to get some industrial grade hydrochloric acid but found Metal Rescue Rust Remover, a water based environmentally friendly solution that neutralizes rust and prevents more from forming.  It also helps the tank retain its structural integrity whereas acid eats holes in it.  My first go at a motorcycle tank cleaning (I've been lucky so far and not had to deal with it) went well.  I left the chemical in the tank for about six hours before recovering it back into the bottle (it can be reused).  With the tank sorted it was time to look at the rest.


The vacuum operated fuel pump in the bottom of the tank was clogged and a mess, but it too cleaned up nicely.  With the big end of the fuel system sorted out, I turned to the carbs.

Compared to the buried in the frame carbs on the Concours and XS1100, the Honda's are a joy to access.  Having seen the mess that was the rest of the fuel system, I figured the carbs were crammed full of guck, and they were.  The only other issues seemed to be more about mechanical cack-handedness than wear.


Once on the bench I've been able to isolate some obvious problems.  I found a spring laying under the carbs on the engine case.  If you're fixing a carb it generally helps to use all the parts.  I also found that one of the choke pins were broken, so the choke was only working on three of the four carbs, and the choke cable itself wasn't attached correctly, so the choke was only moving about 2/3rds of the distance it should.  These are all things that would prevent the bike from starting properly.

Yesterday I took the float bowls off and had a look at the bottom end of the carbs.  The ethanol in modern fuel is not a good mix with older fuel systems, like carburetors.  Not only can it eat away at the rubber and gaskets in older systems not designed for it, but it can also leave varnish, and worst of all, it's a water absorber, so it can lead to corrosion in older, gravity fed systems.  If there was ever evidence of modern ethanol based fuels making a mess of a carburetor, it was here in this old Fireblade, where every carb bowl was worse off than the one before it.


Thanks to some judicious use of carb-cleaner, they cleaned up nicely, but does ethanol ever do a job on mechanical fuel delivery systems!  Fortunately, if I stick with super unleaded from most stations in Canada, it means I'm not running any in this old bike from now on.

I run super in my bikes anyway because they're very fuel efficient anyway so it doesn't cost much and, at least on the Tiger, the power commander means I can maximize power out of it.  For the Honda or any other carb fueled bike, you should be running super just to stay away from the ethanol.

Today I'm going to pull the tops of the carbs and have a look at the state of things (I'm hoping better than below) and finish cleaning them.  I'm also going to see if I can fix that broken choke pin on carb 4 or else I'm going to have to track down the part.  Bikebandit has it for $50US, but no one else seems to have one available.

There are other bits and pieces in this poorly looked after carb that are suspect.  Rather than use boot clamps to attach the carb to the engine, the muppet who owned it before me appears to have put some kind of rubber sealant on them and attempted to 'glue' them to the block.  This is stupid in all sorts of ways.  Bits of this rubber seal would deteriorate in the gasoline rich air-fuel mix and get sucked into the engine, and there is no mechanical connection ensuring the carbs are tight and leak free to the engine.  For a system that runs on vacuum, this is a disaster.

The boots have cleaned up nicely, so I also need to source some ring clamps for them.  The Honda specific ones are hard to find, but I'm hoping I can find some aircraft grade ones that are an engineering match and easier to source.  Oetiker Clamps, ironically based in Alliston where the Honda came from, do some nice, high quality options that I should be able to fit.

So much of mechanics come back to common sense.  The guy who owned this before seems to have had a startling lack of it.  I'm hoping for $1200+$500 in parts I can get this Honda humming and ride it for a year before seeing if I can double my money on it (unless we bond).  Safetied bikes of similar vintage with twice the mileage are going for four grand.  Even with all the work done so far, the bike hasn't cost me a penny in parts and I may be within spitting distance of sorting out this abused Fireblade.



Follow up:
Tops of the carbs were fiddly - the plungers are a pain to reseat properly, but I worked through them and all the top ends have been cleaned, though they were all in good shape as befitting a low mileage bike like this.  The nastiness was all in the float bowls.

I gotta say, I'm enjoying Honda engineering.  Kawasaki has a real heavy industry feel to it by comparison, though my Kawi experience is mainly on a big sport tourer and this Honda is built for one thing only... getting down the road quickly.  But this bike has an engineering elegance to it that makes it a pleasure to work on.

With the cackhanded way this bike has been worked on, there are a number of fiddly bits missing or broken. I was sourcing ring clamps (x8), a choke plunger and other odds and ends and found the price quickly creeping up.  I reached out to local bike breaking yards and only heard back from NCK in Woodstock, ON, who seem organized and on their game.  They have a donor carb in used, rust free (stored inside) condition for $250CAD.  That's within fifty bucks of where I was with buying bits and pieces and means I'd have a lot of spares I could always sell on after.  I'm going the donor carb route this week.

Oh, and Oetiker clamps got back to me and apologized for not having what I needed because (of course) the Honda's clamps are a special size and would require special manufacturing.  My quest for carb hose clamps continues.



NOTES:

One of the tricky bits of working on old bikes is getting the documentation you need to work on them accurately.  The internet is a gold mine for this.  If you're working on a late '90s Honda CBR900RR Fireblade, you'll find this handy:

1996/7 Honda CBR900RR Owner's Manual:  https://mototribu.com/constructeur/honda/1996/1000cbr/doc/revuetechnique_900rr.pdf


It has lots of good technical graphics in addition to all the specs you need.

***


I was also able to source the Haynes Manual for this bike from Fortnine on sale for only $35.  Most other places were over $40US, so finding that on sale was a good first step in this project.

At the moment I've got emails out to The Bike Yard in Caledon and Oetiker Clamps in Alliston.  With any luck I can source the bits I need and have this Honda purring even before the snow starts to fly, then I can spend the winter sorting out the other fluids and maintenance before it hits the road in the spring.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Five Years: Diversifying Motorcycle Experience and Finding Balance

After the first year on two wheels I began thinking about more challenging motorcycle projects that would diversify my experience.  Starting in year two I did my first away motorcycle ride, renting scooters and then a BMW around the southern end of Vancouver Island - that led to my first article being published in Motorcycle Mojo and gave me a lot of insight into variations in motorcycling.

In addition to pushing my riding experience in daring new directions (like riding two-up with my son on an unfamiliar bike on one of the most challenging roads in Canada), I also began looking for a bike that needed more than just regular maintenance to operate... a bike that needed me.


I discovered just such a thing toward the end of that riding season, a long dormant Kawasaki Concours that we had to cut out of the grass it was sitting in.  Something that old (twenty plus years at the time) had a lot of perished rubber on it, and when I finally got it up to temperature it also had a sizable oil leak.  The winter was spent getting a new oil cooler and lines, replacing a lot of rubber bits and otherwise getting this old warrior back on its feet again.

The Concours not only got me moving mechanically, but it also offered a real blank slate, something I've since realized is only available on well used bikes (unless you're loaded and like to pull apart new things).  I'd enjoyed the aesthetic restoration of the Ninja and was looking forward to doing the same thing on the Concours.  Getting an old bike and making it not only usable but unique looking has been one of the highlights of my motorcycling career to date, and a trend I intend to continue.  It's something that my current too-nice Tiger doesn't offer me.

The Kintsugi Concours became my go-to ride and the Ninja became my first sold bike.  It was difficult to part with something I'd developed such an emotional bond with.  I can understand why the people with the space and means hang on to every bike they buy.  Having beaten the selling a bike emotional roller coaster, I immediately went looking for another, but it took a while to finally find the right thing, and in the meantime the old Concours suddenly became less than dependable.

A KLX250 that couldn't do 100km/hr with me on it made me feel like I was overly exposed and under-powered while riding on the road, though it was a deft hand off it and gave me my first real off road experiences.  I held on to it over the winter and when there was finally a break in the never ending Canadian snow I thought this is the moment the KLX will shine, on dirty, just thawed roads - except it wouldn't start.  It was a lot easier to sell because I'd never fallen in love with it.  Getting $400 more than I bought it for didn't hurt either.

Later that summer I made my next motorcycle buying error and stumbled into an old Yamaha XS1100 sitting on the side of the road.  I ignored the three strikes against it (non-runner with no ownership being sold by a gormless kid) and purchased it anyway; I won't do that again.  I got lucky on the ownership - it was within a whisker of being a write-off and had a long and difficult history (I was the thirteenth owner!), but I was able to sell it on after sorting the ownership and just broke even.  In the process I stumbled onto a balancing act I hadn't considered before.


I love riding older bikes I wrench myself, but they aren't always ready to ride.  When the otherwise dependable Concours wasn't and my only other choice was an ancient Yamaha I'd only just freed up the brakes and carbs on, I found myself with nothing to ride as the cruelly short Canadian motorcycling season began.  I'd gambled too much on being able to keep the old bikes rolling.  With riding days so valuable in the Great White North, that wasn't a viable approach.

I still had most of the money from the Ninja sitting aside and my wise wife said to just focus on getting something newer and more dependable.  Maintaining that balance means having a riding ready bike and a project bike, and not messing up that equation.  To further complicate things, I'm a big guy so I needed a bike that fit, and my son was getting bigger every year and loved coming along, so I needed a bike that would fit us both.  Being the onerous person I am, I didn't do the obvious thing and buy a late model Japanese touring bike that runs like clockwork.

My daily rider suddenly popped up on Kijiji but it ended up being the most emotionally driven purchase yet.  Instead of a sensible five year old, low mileage Kayamonduki, I got bitten by a thirteen year old Tiger.  It was European, over budget, too old and with too many miles, but the owner was a young professional (nuclear operator!) and from the UK and we had a good, straight up chat about the bike.  I was honest about my position (the Tiger was out of my league but I loved it and wanted it), and he was straight up with his position (he was about to take it in to trade for a new Triumph at the dealership and even my lower offer was much better than he would have gotten on trade in).  I ended up feeling like I stole the bike for over a grand less than he was asking and he got more for it than he otherwise would have.  It was an emotionally driven purchase with a lot of rational oversight.

With all that good karma the Tiger has turned out to be a special thing.  I was only the third owner.  In thirteen years it had averaged less than 4000kms/year, and on two years the first owner had ridden it out to Calgary and back (seven thousand plus kilometres each time).  It had been power commandered (that had never come up in the purchasing discussions), indicating that the original owner had really fawned over this bike.  The guy I bought it off wasn't very mechanically minded and it hadn't had much in the way of regular maintenance, but then he hadn't used it much.  Within a couple of weeks I'd gotten it safetied, done all the maintenance and given it a good tuning - it has run like a top ever since.


It's an older, European bike, but fuel injection and a resurgent Triumph Motorcycles Co. using the latest manufacturing techniques means it's not a bonkers choice as a daily rider.  On the second year of ownership it fired right up after hibernating under a blanket in the garage, and it did again this year.  I've fixed some dodgy, plastic fuel connectors on the tank, changed the tires and done the fork oil and other fluids along with the chain, but other than the fuel fittings, it's all been regular maintenance.  The Tiger has been such a treat and it's such a rare thing (I've only ever seen one other) that I can't see myself letting it go.

Meanwhile the Concours became the project bike, but since I wasn't depending on it, the project took on new dimensions.  I stripped the old fairing off and ended up with a muscle bike like no other.  I've experienced some drift with this project and I think when I get it to a riding level I'll sell it with the aim to make my money back on it (shouldn't be too hard considering what I got it for).

I think the drift comes from biting off more than I can chew as far as tools I have on hand and time and a comfortable place to work.  If had welding gear handy and could do the fabrication I needed, I think I'd still be be pushing for an edgy completion to the project which has taken longer and has been more involved than I initially planned.  The heart is willing but I'm too tight money and time-wise to chase this big of a thing.  In the winter it hurts to go out in the garage and work on it and in the summer I'd rather be out riding.  Future projects might be more of a Shed and Buried/SPQR approach where I can get a bike sorted and back on its feet again, have some fun with it aesthetically and then move it on without losing any money on it.  Making enough on each one to keep me in tools and pay for the process would be the dream.


The sophomore years of motorcycling have been about pushing into more challenging riding opportunities.  From riding Arizona (another one that got published), to going to the last MotoGP race at Indianapolis to circumnavigating Great Lakes and Georgian Bay, I've gotten more and more daring and gone further afield with each season.

These years have also been about dusting off and expanding my technical skills and have seen me do everything from oil coolers to complete carburetor rebuilds.  The garage has gotten better and better in the process, though it's still bloody cold in the winter.  If I could find a solar powered heating system for the space I'd be a happy man.  If I had a heated, insulated work space about twice the size, I'd be even happier.  The other side of the coin is riding opportunities.  Living somewhere where you can't ride for 3+ months of the year isn't conducive to building saddle experience.  I'd be happier if I lived in an all year riding opportunity - or at least if I had access to such places over the winter here.


20 hours might have gotten me able to manage the basic
operations of a motorcycle - the Conestoga course was a
weekend with about 4 hours on bikes each day, then some
very tentative rides in the neighborhood got me to 20 hours.
At five years I feel like I've put a lot of time into improving my rider's craft.  I've also spent a lot of energy getting the rust off my mechanical skills.  What I most wish for the next five years is to maintain my hunger for more motorcycle experiences.  I'd like to try  a wider range of different bikes and types of riding and find a way to dig even deeper into mechanics.  This year I'm hoping to take an off-road training course.  In the future I'd love to find the money and time to take track riding, if not to pursue racing then at least to explore riding dynamics at the extreme end in a controlled environment.

If you put ten thousand hours into something you've developed a degree of expertise in it.  In each season I've tried to beat ten thousand kilometres of riding (and succeeded) before the snows fall.  Those fifty plus thousand kilometres have probably had me in the saddle for over a thousand hours and I've easily spent that again in the garage doing repairs and maintenance.  If feel like my motorcycle apprenticeship is well underway, I just need to keep finding ways to feed that expertise.




The light cover in the garage - a reminder...

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Pulling the Carbs

The Concours' carburetor has become cursed by demons.  These carbs tend to not come back from sitting very well, though last year they didn't have this problem.  When I put them away they were running well, but no longer.

Yesterday I pulled the tank again and went over the vacuum tubes in detail - no breaks, no problems.  After putting it all back together again I took it out and had the same hesitation on throttle and back firing.  The bike feels seriously down on power too.


I was hoping to send the carbs down to Shoodaben Engineering in Florida for a spa session with Steve.  His prices are more than fair, but after having an economist (whatever the hell that is) as a Prime Minister for eight years, Canada's dollar is in the toilet and my $500US carb repair would cost north of $800 with shipping, customs and the exchange rate.  I paid $800Cdn for the bike in the first place.

So I'm rebuilding carbs!

In spite the many terrifying stories of carb removal on a Concours, I found the process pretty straight forward (thanks to Steve's video).  Warm up the rubber on the airbox to carb, they get nice and soft, and you wiggle the whole thing free.  With the carb on the bench, parts are ordered ($200Cdn for 4 kits - 1 for each carb) and I'm beginning to break it down to rebuild each.