Sunday 10 April 2022

1971 Triumph Bonneville T120 Sensible Bodywork Bolt Replacements

I'm in the process or stripping the last bits of hardware from the frame and bodywork in order to clean up and paint the frame and bodywork on the 51 year old Bonneville project bike.  The bolts holding the licence plate holder onto the rear fender were 4 different sizes with the longest ones protruding so far toward the wheel that they'd be a safety hazzard on a big bump (the tire would make contact with them on full suspension compression, especially with me on it).

I was talking to a friend online who made a career out of flying helicopters for the military and he said he's found wrong sized hardware in controls that have actually jeopardized flight safety.  One of the rhings I enjoy about motorcycle mechanics is that it feels closer to aviation than four wheel appliance repair where an error like this might cause you inconvenience as you roll to a stop on the side of the road.  If you're up in the air or out on a bike and you have a catasrophic mechanical failure, it's a very different consequence.

Another pilot friend (the perils of being an air cadet), when we were going up for a flight in a Cessna, brought it back around and landed when the engine didn't feel right.  Everyone was impatient at the delay, but he said something that is simply true that many people don't consider when their flight is delayed:  "it's better to be down here wishing you were up there, than being up there wishing you were down here."  It's a shame more people who work on bikes don't think the same way.  I've seen even professional work that was half assed to save time/money.  Incompetence like that puts a rider's life at risk needlessly.  It can end up costing you far more than you saved.

Pretty sure that last one isn't a stock Triumph bolt.  These'll all get replaced with metric bolts because they're easier to find, but they'll be the right length, matching and be staineless steel.

The 14-0101 bolts used to fasten the fenders on the '71 Bonneville are 1/4" X 1/2" X 28 UNF, which are a bugger to try and find a match for.  The longest bolt on the bike was an inch and a half - way too long for where it was.  Working with SAE/imperial sizes on this bike makes it a real pain to match hardware out of what I have on hand, but stuffing a bolt that long onto a bike where it can interfere with the wheel isn't sensible.
SAE Wrench SizeBolt Size (SI)Metric Wrench Size
5/16″1/8″8 mm
3/8″3/16″10 mm
7/16″1/4″11 mm
1/2″5/16″13 mm
9/16″3/8″14 mm
5/8″7/16″16 mm
3/4″1/2″19 mm
13/16″9/16″21 mm
7/8″9/16″22 mm
15/16″5/8″24 mm

1/4" bolts can be replaced with an 11mm metric option and finding stainless steel versions of these are easy.  I can also get four matching that are the correct length for the job at hand rather than bunging whatever I have in the toolbox onto the bike.  Compared to other costs in this restoration, hardware costs are trivial (for under $40CAD I can get a 900+ piece kit).  When I'm dropping $600+ on a new head, spending a bit on properly sized bolts seems like a no-brainer.

Of course, body panel fasteners are a different proposition to what you put into a motor or transimssion - in those cases I'd always use stock pieces to manage the heat and pressures involved as decided by the engineers to designed the thing, but for bodywork there is a bit more latitude, you just don't want to be a pratt about it.

While sorting the
frame I've cleaned
up the oil in frame
drain system.
The Amazon bolt set arrived in less than 24 hours.  It is (of course) snowing today in mid-April in Canada, so moving the other bikes out of the garage to paint things isn't likely, and I can't paint outside if it's snowing.  You need 10°-30°C temperatures, no direcf sunlight and good ventilation.  If I can get the other bikes out of the garage, open the door a foot and run the fan, I might be able to retain enough heat to do it, but Canada's 'spring time' isn't helping things along.

If had a wee outdoor shed I'd use it as a paint booth, heating it to the required temperature and then having a fan to move the overspray out.  This DIY paintbooth would be a thing if I had a larger workshop, but a shed outside is a real possibility.  It could provide storage, freeing up space in the garage, but with some crafty ventilation it'd also be a paintbooth.  If I don't get to painting today, I can at least finish prepping the frame and body panels and hope for warmer temperatures later in the week.

New tires and innertubes are on hand.  The frame is being prepped.
I've still got some other body panels to clean and prep for painting.

Sunday 3 April 2022

Motorcycle Gear as a Pre-Game Ritual

Long before I got into riding motorcycles I discovered ice hockey as a new immigrant to Canada.  I played whenever I could from backyard rinks to 5am practices to driving miles for games on evenings and weekends.  The smell of a hockey rink is a happy one for me, as is the process of getting ready for a game.  For many years I played net, which involved putting on over 70lbs of gear each time (this was back in the day when it was made with leather and bricks rather than the fancy space-aged stuff they have now).

I enjoyed getting to a game early and made putting on the gear a pre-game ritual.  It gave me meditative time to get into the zone before I had to peak-perform.  Perhaps this is why, when I saw this question on Facebook, it took me by surprise:

My ride starts when I go out into the garage and start putting the kit on.  This isn't tedious, it's a chance to echo all those hours spent in cold arenas getting ready to lay it all out there on the ice; it's an opportunity to put on my game face.  I never end up on the bike out on the road half paying attention or thinking about something else because putting on the kit is a integral part of getting ready to ride for me.

I don't know about a different person, but I am a focused person.  Here's the MotoGP video.

Getting my gear on builds a sense of anticipation, so the idea that this might be tedious feels very foreign.  How can you be bored when you're preparing to do something awesome?  Robert Heinlein gives a good description of the feeling in Starship Troopers:

I always get the shakes before a drop. I’ve had the injections, of course, and hypnotic preparation, and it stands to reason that I can’t really be afraid. The ship’s psychiatrist has checked my brain waves and asked me silly questions while I was asleep and he tells me that it isn’t fear, it isn’t anything important—it’s just like the trembling of an eager race horse in the starting gate.

Perhaps riding a bike for you is a flipflops, t-shirt and loud radio half-paying-attention kinda thing, but I take my riding a bit more seriously.  Every time I'm able to get out onto a bike it's worthy of my full attention, every time.  Making sure I've got the right gear is an integral part of that, but so is the opportunity it provides to cultivate a strong mental riding game.

Back in 2015 we rode down to the Indy MotoGP round.  Helmets are optional down that way and we went out once to pick up dinner just up the road without helmets, and it just felt wrong.  The right kit means you can ride longer without getting wind or sunburned and can even make you more comfortable than free bagging it.  Once you've got that approach, trying it the other way just feels wrong.

The gear makes the rider angle also means you don't buy the cheapest junk you can find to check a box.  I've spent years honing my gear so that when I put it on it fits, feels right and does what I want it to do.  I started off cheap but soon found that if you spend a bit more you get the kind of quality that makes the extra outlay worth it.  You can sometimes save money getting quality things second hand or on sale, but it's false economy to get cheap gear and then expect it to work.  If you get quality ventilated kit for the summer, it can keep you cool while keeping the sun and wind off you.  If you get properly insulated gear for cold weather riding, you can sail for hours in temperatures approaching freezing.  Good gear makes you superhuman.

Helmets are especially important.  I'm partial to Roof Helmets because they're of high quality and are an advanced, modular design that lets you change from a fully safetied full face helmet (lots of flip ups are only safetied as open-face helmets) to an open face 'jet' style helmet with a quick flip.  They're aerodynamic, quiet and ventilate well.  I've tried many different lids, including a dalliance with that beaked adventure nonsense, but (for me) a helmet that lets me feel wind on my face quickly and easily (I can flip it up when passing through a town then be back to full face comfort again in seconds without stopping) was what worked.  Getting into kit that feels this right and is well made is all part of the pre-ride ritual and is no hardship.

I frequently see people out on bikes that are wildly unequipped.  They're usually the cruiser-Captain Jack Sparrow types who are into riding for style rather than, um, riding.  The bikes they tend to ride aren't really into going around corners (or much else) and their riding gear follows suit.  If that's your kind of motorcycling then you're probably not reading this anyway.

If you're curious about sports psychology and how it might serve your bikecraft (assuming you see riding as a sport that demands practice and focus to improve your performance), there are a lot of links below on getting in the zone, peak performance and pre-game rituals.  Pre-ride rituals work the same way, giving you a chance to clear away the clutter and get your head on straight.

If you watch any motor racing you'll be aware of pre-race rituals that many riders adopt.  Valentino Rossi was famous for his pre-race contortions, and those are only the visible ones!  Doing this sort of thing looks eccentric, but you do what works for you in order to get yourself into a peak performance mindset.  The amazing things you see athletes do don't happen without mental preparation.  Riding your bike well won't happen without it either.  Don't get frustrated at putting your gear on, use that time to get yourself into the zone for your ride.


Sports Psychology:

Getting in the Zone:

Peak Performance:

Take advantage of pre-game routines:

Athletes stand a much better chance for getting in the zone when they make it a point to engage in a pre-game routine that allows them to think about the upcoming game, elevate their mood state, and lower their negative anxiety.

Moto Specific: