Sunday 28 February 2016


I installed Counteract balancing beads on the slowly-being-rebuilt Concours today.  If you're impatient you'll find the installation process a bit tedious, but the technology sure is cool.

Some have complained of liquid based self-balancing processes damage the tire, but the Counteract beads are micro-sized, synthetic beads that migrate to the out of balance side of the tire through static and centrifugal force.  Since they're internal it means there are no unsightly weights stuck to my lovely new tires.  The claim is that these beads work better than weights as they adapt to the changing conditions throughout the life of the tire.  I'm hoping that they work as well as advertised.

On a cold, windy Saturday in February, I put the beads in through the valve stem using the provided small, plastic bottle, you keep gently squeezing air into the tube which pushes the beads into the tire...

The kit comes with valve stems and fancy caps as well.  Once I've had the new tires out on the road I'll update this with an assessment of how well they work.

Update:  it's late March and I've had a couple of chances to take the bike out.  I'm surprised at how well the beads work.  The wheels start off smooth and only seem to get smoother the faster you go.  Once I've gotten the carbs sorted I'll be able to give a more accurate description, but early indicators are good.

Saturday 27 February 2016

Motorcycling Posters & Quotes

I stumbled across this Bukowski quote the other day.  I recalled an Adventure Bike Rider magazine photo from a couple of months back that seemed made for it, so off to Photoshop I went...

After doing that I thought I'd have a look through previous efforts...




Tuesday 23 February 2016

Lessons Learned From Rims, Tires & DIY

So, the rims are back from Fireball Coatings.  They look fantastic, but I'm a bit baffled by the process.  Mark, the owner, suggested getting candy coated gold, though I'd initially said I'd just go for the plain gold.  After being convinced of the upgrade the process took longer than expected (about 20 days instead of a week) because he was out of the product needed to do it.  Communication wasn't a strong point during this wait.

I was worried about tolerances changing on the inside of the rims, but I was assured that they  would be masked off.  The end result has a fair bit of over-spray, which isn't easy to clean up (which I guess bodes well for the rims themselves in regular wear and tear use).  With a Dremel I've been able to clean up the over-spray and I've begun to rebuild the rims for re-installation.

The final bafflement came when Mark said that black bits dropped into the process and there are minor imperfections as a result.  They are barely visible, but his explanation was that no one does gold candy coat on rims.  This begs the question, why up-sell me on them then?  All the strangeness aside, they do look fantastic, and I'm looking forward to seeing them back on the bike again.  The final cost to coat two rims was just over $300 Canadian taxes in (or about a dollar fifty US).

I'm not sure what I'd do differently next time as I don't have much experience with industrial coatings.  I think I'll give Fireball another go in the future though, just not if I'm on a tight timeline.  I imagine less finicky (ie: rims without a shaft drive hub on them) parts would be less of a headache.  They had a coated motorcycle frame on the floor at the shop that looked spectacular.  Mark figures he can coat all the basic parts of a bike (frame, swing arm, exposed bits and pieces) for about $1000.

Buy 'em online and you're looking at a lot of money for tires
unseen and possible long on the rack.
The tire portion of the process was handled by Two Wheel Motorsport just north of Guelph on Highway 6.  It's my first time doing motorcycle tires (everything previous was well rubbered when I got it and sold safetied as is).  What I've learned is that motorcycle tires are expensive!  And evidently wear out much sooner than car tires (odd considering how they are supporting much less weight on lower mileage).

The tires from the dealer were about forty bucks more per tire than online, but you're buying them on the internet sight unseen, and they might be cheap because they're stale.

I got the benefit of very experienced Concours owners in the parts department helping with tire choices rather than depending on the generic tire size finder online.  No one seems to support the OEM Dunlops that originally came with the bike twenty two years ago, so selecting ZG1000 tires is about preferences rather than manufacturer's recommendations.

The tire pricelist from the Toronto
Motorcycle Show - 2 Wheel was
cheaper, and could get the weird
size for my Concourse.
I was going to go with Bridgestones, but when a guy with over a million miles ridden (!) suggests the Michelins if you want good handling and amazing mileage, I didn't ignore him. 

All was well until I got the $600 bill... for two tires!  I think my last car change was 4 Yokohamas for the Mazda2, and it cost $650 and included balancing and installation.  Like I said, bike tires are expensive!  It was $35 to install each tire - ninety nine and change for the work.  I think I got charged for tire disposal even though the rims were bare, and even though I asked for a 90° valve stem on the back I didn't get one (though I don't think I was charged for it).

I thought maybe buying tires at the Bike Show would save money, but the prices listed weren't as good as the sale prices offered over the desk at Two Wheel, and they didn't have the weird sizes I need for the Concours anyway, so that isn't a way out.

I used to be a tire guy at Canadian Tire when I'd just gotten out of high school.  I know my way around the tools involved.  In the future I think I'm going to try and get tires and bits and pieces online and then do the install myself.  I'm going to install balancing beads on my current tires.  If they work as well as advertised, balancing (the only part that requires expensive machinery) won't be necessary.  When I do the tires on the XS1100 I'll do them in-house and see how it goes.

Speaking of in-house, the last frustration was removing the bearings.  I took them in to school figuring that the autoshop had a press and could take them out easily.  They sat there for a week before I finally took them home and knocked out the bearings in ten minutes.  While there for the week they managed to lose my bearing retaining clips and the front bearing spacer as well, so I'm having to spend another $20 at the dealer replacing parts they lost.  The moral of this story?  Do the work yourself.  You learn more by doing it, and you're less likely to lose parts you need to put the thing back together again.

The missing bits and pieces should be in this week, I should have the bike back on its feet by this weekend.  I'm looking forward to seeing how it looks with its new kicks on.

Parts Costing

                      TIRES                            Online      Dealership   Difference
Michelin Commander II 150/80/16       $174.45        $213.79        $39.34
Michelin Commander II 130/70/18       $208.00        $244.54        $36.54
                                                      money saved buying online   $75.88
                                                      + gas & time going to and from the dealer (online delivery is free)

Dealer parts total:  $458.33+$4 (shop supplies) = $462.33 (don't see any charge for the valves)
Online order total: $442.61 (including a 90° rear valve & a front valve)

Labour Costing

Dealership installation of two tires (with new valve stems, no balancing, no disposal - though they charged me for that anyway):  $99

How to change your own tires.

Sunday 21 February 2016

The Toronto Motorcycle Show 2016

A 10°C day meant a number of people stole a ride over to the
show... in February!
Despite a rather miserable experience at the 'Supershow' in January, I went to the Toronto Motorcycle Show yesterday and it reminded me why this is my favourite show.

After NOT having to line up for ten minutes just to get into the parking lot, and NOT having to line up for forty minutes to get tickets, and NOT having to line up for another half an hour to get in the door, we immediately found ourselves on the show floor sitting on bikes and chatting with people.

When you're done,
you're downtown!
Yes you have to pay for parking, but the ticket prices are similar and you can buy them online without worrying about having your information stolen.  There are still deals available at this show on accessories, but the real focus of this one are the manufacturers themselves.  Everyone attends this event (unlike the Harley/Kawasaki only 'Super' show).  I got to sit on Ducatis, Indians and Triumphs, as well as every other major manufacturer.  And when you're done you're downtown in Toronto.  We met up with family, had dinner and went to the Aquarium after.  When you wander out into the airport/industrial wasteland around the International Centre all you want to do is get as far away as possible.

Inside, the show itself is laid out well with wide aisles so you aren't waiting for clumps of people to filter through (the line ups never ended in January!).  With that many manufacturers on display you get to see a broad range of machines and talk to people from all brands.

This is the kind of professionally run show I'm not embarrassed to bring my wife to.  I'll be back next year.  This one is a keeper.

This is the show to sit on a Triumph!  The new Bonneville T120 in this case.

Kawasaki had the H2 and the H2R on display!

... and the Anniversary Ninja.
Number one of thirty!

How do you get my wife, a non-rider with a Master's degree out to look at bikes?
Put on a professional show like the Toronto Motorcycle Show!
Bimmer browsing.  Like Harley, BMW know how to put on a show.

The Africa Twin... finally!  Nowhere to be seen in January, but on display at the Honda stand here (it's surprisingly tall).

The bike she adores: the Indian Scout.

The difference between Dani Pedrosa and I on a Honda race bike?  He doesn't look like a circus bear on a trike.

Once again, the bat-bike like Honda NM4 was Max's dream machine.
The show is on again today - if you're in the GTA on this Sunday afternoon wondering what to do, a trip down to the CNE for the Toronto Bike Show is a good idea.