Sunday 30 May 2021

How To Buy Used but Quality Motorcycle Gear Online

The last couple of weeks I've been keeping myself busy looking for motorcycle gear in the second hand market.  If you've never looked before, there is an astonishing amount of kit out there being sold at a fraction of its new price, if you're willing to be patient and picky.

What prompted the first purchase was seeing a Teknic jacket that was a size down from my current one which is a bit too big.  Teknic has ceased to exist so jackets like these are fading away.  I like 'em because they come with my initials printed on them and they're usually pretty disco.  I also find them very functional in a wide variety of temperatures and comfortable to use.

This grey camo/red one appeared on Kijiji for sale in King City, just north of Toronto.  The GTA isn't where I'd usually choose to ride but the jacket seemed in good shape and he was only asking fifty bucks for it.

We met in the ride-share drop off at the 400 and the jacket was indeed in great shape - the seller's brother bought it, used it for a month and then it sat in a closet for several years.  The zips were all in like-new shape and the jacket was unmarked in any way.  The only issue was it didn't come with the liner but since I already have a TK jacket I can just use that one.

Those parking lots always creep me out a bit.  They feel like places that have fallen into the cracks with empty cars slowly melting in the sun and zombie apocalypse levels of human activity.  It always makes me wonder how many of those cars have undiscovered bodies in them.

The ride back across Caledon was nice.  Lots of bikes out enjoying the spring, deep blue skies and scudding clouds; Harley riders arranging tow trucks for their bikes broken down on the side of the road, the usual sort of thing.

A lot of my riding wardrobe is adventure bike based but that look doesn't really suit the slick, shinkansen that is the Concours.  Much of what I own is very tiger-themed (ie: ORANGE) too.  Last week I was poking around on Facebook Marketplace, Facebook's attempt to take out Kijiji, when I saw a blue leather jacket for sale just up the road in Alma.

I finally got out to see it yesterday and it's a perfect fit.  I had a Joe Rocket jacket (new) for my first bike jacket and it cost me over $200 and was their cheapest textile model.  This leather one was their top of the line jacket from a few years back.  The guy selling it had a serious bike accident some years back and never rode again so his kit sat in a closet gathering dust.  This happens an awful lot.  Don't rush out to buy brand new kit if you can be patient.  Keeping an eye on the classifieds can net you some excellent, low mileage kit for a fraction of the cost.

New this model was nearly seven hundred bucks.  It's a complicated bit of clothing with modular forearm panels and elbow pads, a back protector and quality leather construction.  In less summery weather you can zip in waterproof outer pieces into the side panels/underarms and padded liner to make it cold-weather ready.  For the summer you can zip out the armpit panels and you turn it into a mesh/leather jacket with really good ventilation.

It cleaned up nicely (mainly just getting rid of dust) with some leather treatment.  The adjustability of this thing makes it fit very well.  My other Joe Rocket was from their 'new rider' end of their line so I'd assumed that all their kit is built down to a price but this thing is special.

The owner was asking $150 for it and with every zipper like new, the liners all in excellent shape and not a mark on it (it isn't even really broken in), I paid him what he was asking.  For less than the price of the mesh summer jacket I got on sale I've picked up two very low mileage, quality jackets.

If you're looking for motorcycle gear and especially if you aren't in a rush, spend some time keeping an eye on the used market and you might luck into just what you're looking in like-new condition for a fraction of the cost.


Facebook Marketplace:

Lets you look by geographic location or further afield if you want.  Because it's linked to people's verified Facebook accounts you tend to get fast responses and less nonsense.  Since pretty much everyone is on FB you also get stuff for sale from people who are professional used sellers (like on Kijiji).


One of the earliest online marketplaces.  Users who have been on there for a long time know what they're doing but you run a higher chance of dealing with flakes hiding behind pseudonyms on there.  Be more cautious if that's the case.


Can be good if you're looking for very specific things but then you end up dealing with people from far away and the subsequent dodginess and import headaches.  Some people swear by it but I find it more trouble than it's worth.

Your Local Olde Fashioned Newspaper Classifieds:  (you'll need to look your's up)

If you're not looking for anything specific but might consider a surprise, you'd be amazed how often things pop up in your local newspaper that non-digital types have put up for sale.  I've found astonishingly cheap project bikes in local papers that luddites are happy to sell for less if it means they don't have to use a computer to do it.

Kawasaki Concours C14 Farkles

Some Concours farkle shopping...

(Lightly) Tinted headlight covers:  $40

The big googly eyes on the front of the Connie aren't my favourite styling aspect of the bike.  These tinted covers claim to offer a less obvious googly-eye without making the lights useless at night.  They also provide some protection from debris.

Corbin (heated!) seat for a C14:  $711US  ($864CAD)

This is the fanciest bike I've ever owned - this'd be the fanciest seat... with heat!  The Corbin on the Tiger makes it all day comfortable.

They're awesome seats, but they ain't cheap, especially if you get the back rests with them, but if you want to do high miles, they're the tool for the job.

MRA X-creen Windshield:  $265US ($322CAD)

Another Tiger cross-over.  The MRA that came with it has been bullet proof and the transformable.  The flip up spoiler all but disappears when you fold it down but does a great job of deflecting wind when up.  On the Connie's F-14 style swing-wing windshield it would cover all possible combinations of windshield required and all but disappear when folded down in the lowest position.    The smoked look doesn't look like the acres of clear plastic the stock one does either.  These are sharp, well designed bits of German engineering.

Got this one done already, no regrets, it's a fantastic bit of engineering.

Having wrestled with bleeding the hydraulic clutch, I can totally see the value in the Murph's Kits set of speed bleeders for clutch and brakes.  Typical bleed nipples open when turned and can let air back into the system.  Speed Bleeders have a valve in them that only allows fluid in but then prevent back pressure out so you have less headaches with air sneaking in.

If these lead to quick and easy regular maintenance of brake and clutch fluid systems then you end up with less headaches from contaminated fluid and internal damage to the system.

I've got them on order now - Murph only charges $15 for USPS shipping to Canada - I haven't received them yet but when I do I'll update with any additional costs.


Trials Riding Wishlist

Trials Riding Wishlist

Trials Helmet in Gulf colours:  $76

Trials helmets are specialists.  They aren't designed for highspeed riding because trials bikes generally don't do high speed riding, but they are designed to let you breath freely while offering you maximum vision, especially down as you're picking your way over obstacles.

I'm a child of the 70's and the Gulf colours take me back to the mighty Ford GT40 race car dominating Le Mans.  A good design article on this colour scheme is here.

'94 Fantic 250cc Trials Bike   $2500

This lovely thing has been up for sale on Kijiji for some time.  He's asking $2700 but I suspect I could talk him down a few hundred.

I'd actually prefer a basket case I could completely rebuild (and then paint in Gulf livery) but trials bikes are vanishingly rare and (like dirt bikes) strangely expensive.  Maybe something better will come up that lets me do a full engine rebuild and restoration.

'01 GasGas TXT200 Trials Bike  $3000

This one's a step closer to a project bike but newer and more expensive. It needs brake work and fork seals. The photos are terrible and it looks like it's been well used, but being newer it'll perform better than the 80's tech in the Fantic.

As a project this one isn't a complete rebuild but it does need some TLC.

There ain't no such thing as a cheap off roader.  This beaten up old things costs almost as much as a brand new Chinese trails bike so it doesn't make much sense.

The Amateur Trials Association of Ontario

The ATA runs regular events throughout the riding season in Ontario.  They have an active Facebook group and seem very keen to welcome new members.

They have Tenaci-Wong TWA150A 150cc new trials bikes for about $3500+ PDI/shipping/taxes on the FB group.  That means a new adult sized trials bike is about four grand plus a few hundred more, which suddenly makes the abused and ancient things above seem like a bad idea.

The end of May event got pushed back thanks to Doug's on-again-off-again Ontario lockdown policy, but they're hoping to re-insert it into the end of June.

The ATA?ECTA schedule runs from the end of May to mid-October and offers a busy August of events.  If I'm looking for a relatively inexpensive way to combine competitive sport with motorcycling, this might be the thing.  I'm terrible at exercising just for the sake of it but given a  reason to work out, I do.  This might be just the thing to get my chasing fitness again.

A new Tanaci-Wong 150cc trials bike and competing in the ATA/ECTA events wouldn't cost much more than new hockey equipment and a season of beer league, and it would let me improve my bike riding skills.  I also happen to have a backyard built for trials practice.

This one's on the to-do list.

That Darned Tiger: Stalling issues on a Triumph Tiger 955i

The Tiger worked for a couple of months this spring but started recently stalling again.  The engine was getting rougher and any time I came off throttle quickly, such as downshifting, the engine would 'fall' right through where it normally idled and stall.  If I didn't downshift and let it drop to idle on the clutch it wouldn't stall.

If you're familiar with the blog then you know this isn't my first dance with Triumph's early fuel injection systems.  I've replaced the vacuum housing for the idle control system (a plastic piece that looks a bit under-engineered) and all the hoses and gaskets last year when chasing this thing, but looking over the deep winter maintenance I did I don't think I rebalanced the fuel injection after taking it all apart to clean it.

Balancing the FI on these 955i Triumphs is tricky because you have to take apart a lot of the bike just to get at the adjusters.  I've been in and out of this so many times that I'm quick - I don't even have to keep the fasteners sorted because I know where they all go.

To balance the fuel injection on a 955i Triumph engine, take the fuel tank and airbox off.  On the Tiger, if I put the fuel tank next to the bike the fuel lines are just long enough to connect so I can run the engine with the tank attached but off the bike.

I was going to use the Tuneboy to balance the injectors this time but couldn't figure out how to do it so just went back to good old-fashioned vacuum balancing.

Evidently you can balance throttle bodies off this but it jumps around so much I found it easier to use the vacuum balance I use for carburetors instead.  Perhaps the Inj #1, 2 & 3 P/W can be used to balance?

The Triumph triple is quite easy to balance once you've pulled it all apart.  The left side throttle (#1) isn't adjustable so you use it as your reference.  With that hose plugged in I balance the one next to it to #1 and then did the same with the far one.

I got this TecMate Carbmate Synchronizer from Fortnine last year and it makes the job quick, accurate and easy.  Just keep adjusting the screws between the throttle bodies until you have equal vacuum between them.

Don't balance two to three, just two to one and then three to one, so you don't need a non-existent three cylinder vacuum synchronizer.  I ended up buying the extender so I can do up to four carbs, but it isn't necessary for the Tiger, though it did come in handy on the Fireblade.

It took me about ten minutes to get everything from way out of whack to right on the green balanced light on the CarbMate.  Once I had it done the engine sounded less rough even with no airbox and missing sensors.

Running it like this pisses off the computer and throws up a whole bunch of warnings because you're not getting readings from the airbox sensor or the vacuum to engine management computer.  If you don't have a Tuneboy to clear the computer errors it takes a few runnings for the ECU to reset itself.  I just reset the errors in the Tuneboy system and then put it all back together again.

The bike immediately felt smoother and there were less backfires and hesitation when turning the throttle.  I took it out today and went for an extended ride and couldn't get it to stall even when doing things that caused frequent stalls last week, like down shifting to a stop and pulling the clutch as the engine was dropping in RPM.

If you're having stalling issues with a Triumph 955i fuel injected triple, balance the throttle bodies before you start chasing other issues.  Unbalanced throttle bodies cause stalling once the engine is hot.

I put some LockTite on the throttle body adjusters this time so hopefully it won't 'fall' out of adjustment again this riding season.  I'm still very concious of rubber parts perishing on this nearly twenty year old high-mileage bike.  Last summer's issues revolved around vacuum leaks in the idle control system so I'm going to keep a close eye on other rubber bits if I run into stalling issues again, but this time around it was just throttle body synchronization that seems to have done the trick.  Maybe next time I can work out how to do it with the Tuneboy so I can get it even more precise, though the CarbMate seems to have done the job with high fidelity.


955i Triumphs stalling links:

Throttle balance?

Throttle balance (again) - do it with TUNEBOY this time!

Check rubber parts for perishing:

Wednesday 26 May 2021

MRA X-Screen Windshield Installation on a Kawasaki Concours 14

No regrets aesthetically with this windshield choice and they make a point of talking about how the windshield stops back pressure and noise which means it should work well with my rejuvenated windshield raising motor.

I'm a fan of MRA windshields since one came attached to the Tiger, so the Concours is getting one, but this is my first time doing an installation.  If you're installing an MRA windshield you can expect detailed instructions and all the parts provided in clearly marked bags.

Assembly is straightforward with clearly presented directions and useful diagrams.  It took me about 20 minutes to put it together.  The parts are quality and go together like you'd expect a finely engineered German windshield to.

There is an option to have a simple single pivot or a more adjustable but complex double pivot - I went with more complicated because I'm like that.  The mechanism releases and locks in a wide variety of positions.

I'm curious to see how all the different positions work as I get to know this more complicated MRA windshield.  With the extender set high at the top of the windshield the thing is about as big as the big slab of plastic Kawasaki put on it, except this one is also adjustable to go even higher and at a wide variety of angles.  Set highest it'll be much more effective than the stock windshield.

When it's all the way down the MRA windshield looks almost like a sports windshield and offers a solid windblast to the chest or lots of ventilation on a hot day.

Here is before an after.  You can see how much taller the old stock windshield is:

The old windshield was going opaque with age and was quite pitted and rough.  It also produced an astonishing amount of back pressure at speed which might have had something to do with the motor having problems.  The new windshield is lighter, more aerodynamic, more adjustable, quieter at speed and seems to have no back pressure issues at all.  I took it for a run up and down the river today and I'm very happy with this choice.  Even at lowest setting, when I F-14 swing-wing the windshield up it still provides good wind protection and noise reduction at 100kms/hr.

It looks sharp too...

They used to have a Canadian warehouse but don't any more, though they've worked out a system with Fed-Ex so you don't get any customs headaches or surprise costs when you order (though you do have to order in USD).

Tuesday 18 May 2021

A Bug Splattered Visor

 An evening ride out at sunset just a couple of dozen kilometres up and down the Grand River avoids the heat of the day, but in Canada you go from snow to bug season in a week, and we have!

How thick were the bugs?  Here's the visor after thirty minutes in the sunset...

On bike photos taken with a Ricoh Theta on a flexible tripod attached to the windshield and set to take a photo automatically every 6 seconds.

Sunday 16 May 2021

Chasing down a clutch slave cylinder leak in a 2010 Kawasaki Concours C14

Motorbikes are like sharks, they die if they aren't in motion.  There is a funny moment in the Bakuon!! motorcycle anime where the old motorcycle store owner talks about how lazy motorcycles are since they just lay down if no one is holding them up.  So bikes are sharks that need people to keep them in motion.

The latest project bike is a fantastically complicated machine.  I've rebuilt fabulously complex sets-of-four-carburetors and chased down other complex repairs in motorcycles, but I suspect this 2010 Kawasaki Concours C14/GTR1400 has single systems, like its motorized windshield, that are more complicated than whole previous bikes I've worked on; this bike a complex mix of mechanical and digital engineering, and it's been sitting for several years when its previous owner could no longer give it the urge to stay in motion.

On the Concours the clutch slave cylinder uses brake fluid to hydraulically assist the clutch, giving you an even, assisted clutch action.  I went for a long ride on the Tiger yesterday and I'm not ride-fit yet as it's still early in the season.  The grip muscles in my left hand were singing by the end of the ride and I was getting lazy with gear changes as a result.  A hydraulically assisted clutch would make long rides more comfortable, so there are benefits to this complexity.

This is the first bike I've owned that isn't a simple mechanical clutch that uses a cable tied to the transmission.  On the C14 the clutch is on the lower right of the motor and the clutch and the slave cylinder it feeds is on the left.  When you apply the clutch the brake fluid in the hydraulic system pushes a (very) long rod that runs right through the bottom of the motor over to the clutch.  That long rod is coated in molybdenum disulfide grease and connects the hydraulic clutch slave system to the clutch itself over on the other side of the motor.

One of the parts diagram blowouts I was looking at called the 92026a a gasket, so I purchased that thinking that's where the leak was, but this isn't a gasket, it's a hard spacer.  When you attach the clutch slave cylinder housing to the bottom left side (left and right is with the rider on the bike), this spacer isn't a seal and the bolts holding it on need locktite to keep them in place because they're only held on with 97 inch-pounds of torgue (which is little more than my hand tight).  You don't want to crank on the bolts, you want to sympathetically install the housing to spec so the spacer isn't squashed and can do its job.

When I got into the clutch housing it was pretty grotty.  This stationary shark has lots of little rubber bits in it that don't sit well, and the 92049 rubber piston seal has perished in the years the bike sat.  The brake fluid that the clutch hydraulic system uses was leaking past the seal into the chamber with the rod in it, which is usually dry, and then leaking around the spacer.

In retrospect I should have looked over the shop manual more closely and wrapped my head around how the system works before I rushed in to buy a spacer I didn't need.  I've contacted Two-Wheel Motorsport to get the seal.  They were very quick with a 2-day turnaround (impressive during Ontario's third-wave of Covid) and offer curb-side pickup, so I'm hoping by mid-week I'll have what I need to rebuild the clutch slave cylinder and get the clutch back to spec.

I'm now wondering if this leaking seal was the reason why it was such a pain in the ass to bleed last time - that certainly makes sense.

That clutch cylinder (gold) slides out and the seal and spring are easily accessed.  You need to replace the seal if you remove the cylinder so make sure you've got one on hand if you're going to pop the cylinder out.

It's also recommended that you apply some rubber grease to the seal as you're installing it.  This stuff looks like it'll do the trick and is formulated specifically for a tough life immersed in brake fluid.

Interestingly, replacing this seal isn't in the clutch section of the shop manual but rather in the maintenance section, which suggests that these seals have a limited life-span and are a regular maintenance item.  If you own a C14 you're probably going to be doing these at some point, especially if the bike sits for any time or you're not a regularly clutch fluid maintainer.


Upper bleeder is 8mm, lower is 10mm.

SPEED BLEEDER parts listed from Murphs:
part:  SB8125# thread: M8 X 1.25 length: 1.10, (27.99)
part:  SB8125L # thread: M8 X 1.25 length: 1.28, (32.54)

Online resources for Concours Speed Bleeders
Murph's Kits - but they are very US focused  *5 each PN SB8125L, and 2 each PN SB8125*
Dennis Kirk:  gives lots of technical details


The installation of the seal is very straightforward.  You can slide the cylinder out by hand and then remove the seal, which sits in a depression, very easily.  The new one was a snugger fit when sliding it back in, which is probably why the old one was leaking.  I coated the seal in this brake lubricant, which helped it slide in.  Pushing evenly with the heel of my hand helped seat it straight.  I also lubed up the rod that runs through the motor to the clutch with this moly grease.

The whole process took about 10 minutes and no more leaks.  The clutch bled much more quickly and easily without the leak and the clutch feel is excellent now.

Getting the fairing back on required some fiddling as the previous owner's drop had bent the metal piece it attaches to and I'd fixed the cracks in the fairing so they all lined up true now.  I ended up heating it up and bending it back to its usual position and it all went together.  The bike's now ready for a safety but I'm having trouble getting a response from Lloyd, my usual go-to local mechanic.  Hopefully I can get the paperwork in order and get it on the road next week.

Thursday 13 May 2021

Concours Arts & Crafts

It's arts and crafts weekend with the new bike (and a bit of light maintenance changing the gear oil in the final drive.  Here is the list of things to do in the get-it-back-on-the-road plan for the Kawasaki Concours 14:

Solve the top-box situation

I've never had a fancy, colour matched top box before.  The one that came with the Connie is a Givi-based device and I have another Givi box that would slot right in there, but I want the fancy back.

How to get the fancy back?  The stock one broke off when the former owner tipped over a in a parking lot and snapped it off.  It broke one of the bars that hooks into the base and cracked the other.

To solve the breaks and restore the bike to normal removable top-box function I'd need to replace the broken tab.  The former owner threw a couple of bolts through the bottom into the frame mount, but this leaves two bolts poking out if the top box is removed and means the top box is basically permanently attached to the bike, which isn't ideal if you're heading into a hotel for the night when on the road.

The solution was to take  some steel frame and bolt it to the bottom of the top-box while poking it through the hole so it would act as the broken off tab.  The Dremel helped me clean up the holes and the steel frame fit snugly through the break.  I bolted it to the bottom of the case with low profile stove-style heads so they won't interfere with the base and then used Gorilla construction glue to seal it all.  Once it's dry I'll sand it down and paint it flat black and then it should be back to regular service.

I'm very happy with the final results.  I used the Dremel to round the metal tab I made so it matches the stock one and the box slides on and off like stock.  The Gorilla construction glue sealed very strong and securely.  Painting it all flat black makes it all but invisible, not that anyone would see it on the bike anyway.

Solve the paint scratches from the drop

The ColorRite package arrived this week with the suggested touch-up paints for this particular Neptune Candy Blue version of the C14.  It's a beautiful paint job and so the touch-up requires a base coat, the Neptune Candy Blue and then a clear coat on top.

I also picked up some 'Flat Super Black' that should cover the ding on the bottom body panel.

With some steady hands I should be able to minimize the scratches and then buff it into the regular paint work.  It won't be perfect but I think I can cover the worst of it to the point where it's not immediately noticeable.

None of the damage cracked any of the plastic body panels which is incredible considering the weight of the bike.  A bit of touch up and it'll be barely noticeable, especially as it is only at the bottom of the side panels.  All the higher up/more obvious panels look brand new.

If I end up hanging onto this one for a long time I'll eventually get the panels repainted but this was never meant to be an on--a-pedestal bike so I wasn't so worried about some scratches on the body work.


I dremelled down the rough edges from the bike's slow speed drop by the previous owner.  I then ran some fine grit sandpaper over it to flat it.  It isn't perfect but it's much better than it was.  The base coat from ColorRite is designed to darken the naturally light colours plastic so when the Candy Neptune Blue goes on over top it's not also trying to cover up white plastic.
I didn't go for the spay cans from ColorRite because the cost of shipping them was staggeringly expensive (pressurized containers make shippers nervous).  If I'd have ordered the spray bombs the cost of shipping would have been more than the paint itself.  Rather than dropping a couple of hundred dollars on a patchy fix I think I'm going to get these to the point where they aren't obviously damaged and then at some point in the future pull the panels, clean them up and send them out for a professional paint job.

Painting is one of those things that works best with the right kit, and in my tiny garage the opportunity to set up a paint booth simply doesn't exist.  While doing these touch-ups, spring is in full bloom outside and in a matter of minutes everything was covered in pollen.  Things like that make painting very difficult.

In retrospect I should have just cleaned up the damage and painted it flat black for now.  The pens ordered from ColorRite are great for filling in a scratch but damage of this scale isn't what they're designed for.

On the upside, the damage is much less noticeable now.  The other paint I ordered was the 'super flat black' that goes on the lower panels.  After cleaning up that lower panel I discovered a couple of cracks from the drop.  I've sealed them with Goop Automotive Adhesive, which I've used before.  This stuff dries black, is incredibly strong and bonds to everything.  Any time I've done fairing repairs this adhesive hasn't just repaired the break but made the fairing stronger in the process, I highly recommend it.

I wish the paint pens had worked better but I'm not surprised that they didn't, it isn't what they're designed for.  With the body worked neatened up I'm more focused on getting the mechanical repairs (the damned clutch!) sorted and getting the bike on the road with all the maintenance .  Making it pretty can come over next winter.