Monday, January 31, 2011

Wheelie Dreams

Once again last night I had this reoccurring wheelie dream. In the dream I've popped a wheelie, I'm up on the balance point, and I'm just riding there comfortably, like it's nothing at all. And then in the dream I have this epiphany of "oh wow, this is really easy. This is just as easy as flying a sidecar."
This is the third time I've had it. I wonder what Freud what say.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Post-ride Text Messaging

MotoBum: How was the dirt bike ride in the Church of Dirt today?

E-rock: It was holy.
Ghostface KLR: AWESOME!!
Swamp Monster: Sitting in lane 3. Waiting for the ferry home. 29.7 miles today. New hill climb, and a giant mud bog. E-Rock has video. Explored some new stuff. Fun day.

Ghostface KLR (via Twitter/4sq): I'm at South Pacific Sports Bar (218 1st st, Bremerton)

MotoBum: Excellent. Bremerton, eh?
Swamp Monster: I'm at Southworth. Jesse and Eric went to Bremerton.
Ghostface KLR: Yep! Sippin a beer, getting food, partying.

Ghostface KLR: Brandi and Heather.
Ghostface KLR: Our new friends!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

KLR Crankcase Breather Hose Mod

KLR650E Crankcase Breather
I’m not quite sure what the Kawasaki engineers had in mind when they designed the late-model KLR 650 dual-sport motorcycle, but I can only guess that endless wheelies were not part of the equation. Amongst other well documented design flaws, er, ahem, features, there is this crankcase breather hose issue. Engine oil is allowed to drain from the crankcase into the airbox while these bikes are tipped in wheel-up position. To make matters even worse, the airbox actually draws oil into it as it is under a low pressure condition while the engine is running.

The New Crankcase Breather Hose
Fortunately, Mr. Kawasaki’s team had the foresight to put a fancy little drain hose and plug to easily get the oil out of the impossible to access clean carburetor side of the airbox. To prevent this oil suckage from happening in the future, the whole situation is easily remedied with a couple bucks spent at the hardware store and a couple of hours in the garage.

Breathe That Fresh Air
So, I got a few hardware store bits and removed the KLR’s stock crankcase breather hose. Out came the knife. Cut. I spliced in three feet of clear vinyl hose (1” outside diameter) and routed it up under the gas tank to arrive at an upper left fairing venting position. I threw on a 90 degree elbow. That way, if any oil did manage to make it all the way up there, the oil would be free to drain in an environmentally unconscious way to the ground. Part of a Briggs and Stratton lawnmower air filter prevents debris from entering the engine via the new vent. A penny blocks the airbox hole left over from the stock crankcase breather hose.

Plug That Airbox With a Penny
How does it work? Wonderfully. Oil no longer gets sucked into the airbox during whoolie sessions.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wolfman Explorer Lite Tank Bag

I purchased a new tank bag during the Wolfman anniversary sale.

They were offering 19% off all products over the weekend. I picked up an Explorer Lite Tank Bag and the optional rain cover. (It has been known to rain in the Pacific Northwest on occasion.)


At first look, I will say the construction quality of the bag itself seems good. For the price, I was hoping it would be. Solid stitching, good material, nice zippers and attention to detail. The bag itself is great. I would have added a moveable wall on the inside (like you would find in a camera bag) to help keep things from shifting around.

I looked at the attachment straps for the pre-’08 KLR650 and instantly thought of several ways I would rather attach the bag. I found this disappointing and annoying. Thought had gone into the bag design, but very little effort went into the harness system, if you could even call it that.

The included front straps are held to the front of the tank with the screws that hold the radiator shrouds in place. The rear straps loop around the frame and come up between the rear of the tank and the seat. The fastex clips at the end of the four straps clip to the corners of the bag. This will work great keeping the bag on the tank. I have Zega cases on the sides of the KLR. For the day-to-day commuting they hold everything I need. For the adventures I need a little more cargo space. Most of the time the four straps will be dangling, flopping, and flipping around.

Alternating the male and female clips on the ends of the bag and straps would at least allow me to clip the front and rear straps to each other when the bag was not on the bike. Rather than cut the loops on the bag and switch buckles on one side, I may attach Fastex buckles to a strip of elastic. I’ll clip the opposite side front and rear straps together with the clips and elastic, forming an “X” across the tank. This will keep the straps from flopping around. I’ve got a couple other ideas for attaching a tank bag, but I’m keeping them to myself. I may have to start my own moto accessory company…

The “rain cover” is simply a lightweight, ripstop nylon “baggie” the fits over the tank bag. The fabric itself seems pretty light. I think that it will keep minimal drizzle off the bag, but if soaked, water will get through. Wolfman did put Velcro on the baggie to keep it in place and to hold the map pocket on the outside. The problem with that is the seams on the map pocket and the seams on the rain cover are not sealed. The stitching on the rain cover is loose and skips a stitch on one of the corners. I can almost get my little finger through the hole. I give it two uses before a seam pops. I also wager any map in the pocket will get soaked and the rain cover will leak the first time it is needed.

Double stitching, some seam seal tape, and a clear window on the top, to allow the map pocket to stay dry underneath, would have made the rain cover actually useful.

I was hoping to really like this bag. The main compartment is padded, good for keeping a camera safe and handy. It is also expandable with a zippered mesh pocket on the underside of the lid. I also like the smaller zipped pocket on back of the bag.

In order for this bag to work for me I will have to build my own bag retention system, replace the top panel of the rain cover with a clear plastic, and seam seal the rain cover stitching. I was hoping I could spend less time modifying and more time riding.

Wolfman, you make a nice bag, too bad you scrimp on the rest.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1000 Wheelies Project: 250 In

With two hundred fifty moto wheelies complete, I can say that the skills transfer from bicycle to motorcycle is going well. Progress is slow. At least the work is fun and rewarding. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

My main learning has been to abandon what is unskillful. Letting go of fear is always difficult. But trusting yourself to pop a 400lb machine straight to balance point from almost a dead stop takes courage. Fortunately, I am brave. And I can do it. I’m getting a little better with using a foot brake instead of my index finger and being over the balance point is becoming more routine than scary. I must say that I’m a bit sad that the heavy heart pounding has left me -- in other words, the thrill of danger is gone. I’m starting to pull moto wheelies with confidence and style. Yes!

With a quarter of this project done, I seem to be on track to wheelie a motorbike endlessly by the heat of the summer 2011. Only time will tell.

Camping in Vehicles is Prohibited

When The Dirty Crew camps, we always just use tents. It's so easy. Camping in a motorcycle just seems wrong -- in fact, it doesn't even make sense. And such nonsense deserves a law against it. Fortunately, to save us all, the City of Seattle has a municipal code designed to prevent said activity. It's pure genius.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Installing an ActionPacker

Acquired ActionPacker from Walmart - $18.48

For the other hardware, I chose 5/16"-18 t-nuts to go on the underside of the rack (the kind with the prongs, so they dig in to the underside of the rack and stay there).  I also used fender washers and lock nuts, and the bolts are 5/16"-18 x 3/4 inch.  I intended to use thumb screws so they would be "quick release", but Lowe's only had them in 1 inch length, which was too long for reasons to be revealed soon.

Removed rear rack.  Here is where it could have been done slightly differently perhaps.  We removed the metal backing on the rack and drilled the holes where we thought best.

Then, of course, drilled the holes in the ActionPacker.

Next, the t-nuts went into the holes in the rack.  Once they were partially in, I used the bolts and washers to crank them down so they are set in there good.  Here is how it looks - the four silver looking holes are the new holes with the t-nuts.

For some reason I thought it was a good idea to remove the metal plate on the underside of the rack before drilling the holes.  If the holes had been drilled a little more to the inside, they would have cleared the metal piece allowing for a longer bolt.  Not a big deal.  See the silver piece of t-nut from the underside after installation.

Another shot of the underside of the rack.

Hundreds of pennies were spent on the mounting hardware.

I may still go with the thumb screw option - these bolts are 3/4" long - attach or unattach with a 13mm socket in about a minute.

And now I am ready for Action.  I just need two matching padlocks for the handles.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


next up... side luggage rack from Pack Rat.  Pelican 1550 cases from Caribou.  Crash bars and a center stand from Twisted Throttle.  Oh, and yesterday I got my top case.  $18.48 from Wally World.  It is, and always will be, the ActionPacker.


Wolfman is having a 19% off everything sale for another day.  Just ordered an Explorer Lite tank bag and rain cover.

Mission: See a Honda XL700V Transalp

Mission accomplished. I set out to see The Honda that is not available in the US during my short stay in Brussels, Belgium. While I was at it, I figured that I'd try to see some of the crazy 125s that are available in the EU. Done.

It's not the most desirable motorcycle in the world. Its problems are well known. Too little power. Too much weight. Small fuel tank. No 6th gear. After seeing it in person, and throwing rationality aside, I say it is one of the coolest bikes on the plant. Mainly, it's due to exclusivity. They're made in Spain for the Europe market only.

Even the predecessor model Honda Transalp looks great. Of course, people go to marketing school for years in order to learn how to make a used motorcycle looked rugged in the showroom. The show bark and lumber really does the bike justice. It looks amazing.

Equally amazing, and equally done-up with bark and lumber, is the Honda Veradero 125. In Belgium, it's legal to ride a 125cc motorcycle with a car driver's license; no special motorcycle endorsement is necessary. Plus, the cost of gas today in Brussels is approximately $7.80US per gallon. Efficiency is key. Anyway, the little Veradero is amazing due to its big-bike build quality and tiny v-twin engine.

The Honda CBF125 is another top seller due to licensing requirements and cost of fuel. The lower selling price must be popular too because the tax rate in Belgium is a whopping 21% -- not as bad as Norway, but, wow, it is sky high!

I could not resist getting a couple of snap shots of the Honda Ruckus wearing Repsol colors and the European color black-and-white CBR1000RR. Both badass.