Thursday 29 April 2021

Tiger Tales: finding twists and turns in a straight line desert

I know I live in the wrong place when I ride 20 minutes out of my way to find two consecutive corners that let me lean the bike.  One day I'll escape the tedium of Southwestern Ontario and live somewhere with geography that delights rather than depresses.

In early April I rode for over an hour to get to River Road out of Horning's Mills.  That's a 60 minute ride to get 13 minutes of corners, except Ontario, in its wisdom, has decided to make the whole thing a 60km/hr zone now, so you're going so slowly you end up tipping over rather than enjoying the corners.

The other fun thing (besides the tedium of the geography) is that the roads are falling apart after another long Canadian winter. Between that, the lack of geography and ever increasing population pushing speed limits down to dribbling velocity, it's time to find some corners elsewhere on a trip, except there aren't any trips in year two of COVID.

I've still got a stupid grin on my face though because I'm back out on two wheels after nearly a hundred days of the weather trying to kill me.

45 minutes to the east are the Forks of the Credit, a 5km wiggle that follows the Credit River as it tumbles down the Niagara Escarpment.  You actually get a switchback out of it, but the proximity to Toronto means it's usually very busy, even though it wouldn't rate a second look in California or anywhere else with mountains.  I went on a mid-week day and managed a couple of clean runs in the mid-April sun.

Last weekend I headed south to near Campbellville, another 45 minute slog to get a couple of curves.  I don't usually head that way often because it's perilously close to the GTA, so you not only get tedious roads but also a lot of tedious people.  It took me a couple of tries to get a clean run at it, but even then you're waiting forever for the odd corner.

We live west and south of the Niagara Escarpment (yep, the same cliff Niagara Falls flows over an hour and a half south west of us), which winds around us and up north into Michigan.  It's one of the few geographical features that break up the monotony, but not by much.  After having ridden the Arizona mountains and Vancouver Island's spectacular scenery, it's difficult to take the tedium when you know other people live in places that make riding a thrill.

Not all Ontario is this dull.  As you head east you get into the lake of the woods and the Canadian Shield which offers some interesting riding options, though the road conditions are still rough.

Maybe one of these days I'll get a chance to head out Peterborough/Ottawa way and enjoy the curves the Shield and the lake of the woods offer.

Tuesday 27 April 2021

Kawasaki Concours C14 Suspension Setup

From ADVrider:

I am 6'-3 and about 245-250 Lbs. My settings are as follow:
Forks: 10mm and 4 clicks out (rebound)
Shock: 24 (?) clicks in and 1 click out (rebound)

These settings are a bit stiff but...I like them that way for spirited riding. For 2up, I will just adjust further the shock preload.

Monday 26 April 2021

Kawasaki Concours C14/GTR1400 Extreme Engineering

I took a couple of hours to work on this incredibly complicated machine on the weekend.  My last project was a 1997 Honda CBR900RR Fireblade which was all about minimalism and lightness.  That minimalism made the Honda a delight to work on but the C14 Concours is a very different animal.  Incredibly, the Fireblade weighs 62% of what the Concours does while putting out only slightly less power.  Man, did that bike know how to dance.

As I worked through the front end on the substantial Concours I found example after example of Kawasaki's overly engineered approach to the bike which has piled on the weight, but you can't fault their work, nor the design.  While the C14 is an incredibly complicated thing, it's also a beautiful example of Kawasaki Heavy Industries industrial design.

The circular white thing in the photo on the left is the windshield motor.  The C14 has an electric windshield that raises and lowers at the push of a button.  This one isn't working but the mechanical parts of it seem ok so now I'm chasing wiring in a bike that makes a 747 look simple.

On the right is the battery holder.  Any other bike I've owned makes do with a simple plastic open ended box, but not the Connie.  It gets an interlocking two piece battery holder with built in wiring harness.  The presses that turn these things our are something special!

These are all the gubbins the owner before me had wired into the bike.  He had that massive horn hanging off the back and the GPS system was wired into the front and installed on the handlebar.

With the bike having electrical issues, I'm putting it back to stock before I start thinking about adding in the extras again.

While I was in at the battery I cleaned up all the connectors, some of which were quite rusty.  It's things like that which will trip up electric windshields.

One of the advantages of fairings is that you can hide the mechanical bits underneath, but even when the bits are never going to be seen Kawasaki went overboard with its castings and finish.

That lovely little round clutch cover at the bottom lives under the fairing and would never normally see the light of day, but even then it's a wonderfully detailed and finished piece that only a handy owner or their own technicians would ever see.

Coffin shaped brake and clutch fluid containers?  Why not.

The benefit of this engineering fixation is that the quality of materials used is excellent.  Even though this bike is just over a decade old you wouldn't know it.  Many parts of it look brand new.  Rust on fasteners is all but non-existent and everything comes apart as it was intended.

This is the newest bike I've ever purchased (it's three years newer than my first bike and the KLX, seven years newer than the trusty Tiger and thirteen years newer than the Fireblade).  It's so new that there isn't a Haynes workshop manual for it.  It's the only bike I've ever owned that is still currently in production in much the same state.  The latest Tigers are five generations passed my old 955i.

Next steps are to get the windshield sorted and change out the air filter while I've got the thing in pieces, then it all goes back together and I'll see if my local mechanic can get me in for a safety, then it's time to put some miles on it!