Thursday, March 25, 2010

Motorcycling in Pakistan

The Karakoram Highway on a Honda 125. Great story in CMG.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Best WRC story ever

While it's not about two wheels, knobbies are involved and this is such an awesome story of underdog win that I'm pretty sure any dualsport fan would appreciate it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

California trip

Obviously not that California. This is the one past Tatlock--the unnamed squiggle off the Darling Rd at the top of the map. Had to check out the trail as part of testing my rebuilt water pump. Still lots of frozen sections, squishy ground which makes for a some surprises when cornering, and muddy holes to douse your boots. Not recommended just yet. But give it another few weeks and things should firm up nicely. If you haven't ridden this trail, it exits at White Lake and makes a great first DP ride. Knobbies not required in summer.

Given how mucky the Cali Rd. is, the K&P is almost certainly worse because it's much more shaded. Last year, by the time there was hardly any snow anywhere, the K&P still harboured long sections of thick ice and surface meltwater which proved a real challenge to ride. Felt like the bike would twist out at any instant.

That extra little bit of elevation of the highlands drops the average temps a few degrees. While nice in the summer, at this time of year it turns a borderline rideable day into a popsicle marathon. Only 80km and I was pretty frozen.

Friday, March 19, 2010

New water pump seals

Sounds like a show at Marineland, but in fact I discovered my crusty KLR was weeping coolant and thus needed some hot wrench-on-engine lovin'.

For excellent step-by-step instructions, click here. Big thanks to MarkNet for his great KLR info. It's a pretty straightforward job; the biggest pain is pulling the old seals if you don't happen to have exactly the right length of threaded rod right where you thought you left it from the last job.

Kawasaki part numbers and prices from Ottawa GoodTime Centre are as follows:

Mechanical Seal, 49063-1056, $25.46
6mm O-ring, 670B1506, $1.76
Oil Seal (SC10227), 92049-1157, $8.42

Total cost with OEM shipping charge ($3) was $43.66. Also factor in the cost of an oil change and about 4 hours of wrenching if you're not perfectly set up to work efficiently. Like working past dark in the driveway. At least the mosquitos haven't come out in force, although I did see one.

Turns out the oil seal was pretty worn. There was corrosion inside the weeping chamber. Although the repair was a pain (drain the oil, drain the coolant, wipe up spills of both, forget there's still oil trapped under the oil filter and spill more oil, get interrupted by dinner, etc.) I feel a lot better knowing my water pump's good for the rest of the time I'll own this bike.

Props to my neighbour Ken who graciously held my trouble light and entertained me with stories, then buzzed off a water pump gasket on his nifty laser cutter. Took about 5 seconds to cut, not counting the hour or so I spent a couple winters ago scanning the pump cover and tracing it in Illustrator so it could be laser cut. I have a few gaskets on file now, any of which can be made on the laser using almost any material.

By tomorrow the gasket sealer will have set and I'll fill up the oil and coolant, take a test ride, and do an oil change to remove any debris that got in. Ready for the trails!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

New bike

A set of knobbies on here, and this'll be perfect for those long trail rides out in Lanark County!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

First tracks!

Geese flying north? Check. Sap running? Check. Driveway clear of snow? Check. New motorbike? Oh yeah!

Nothing like a little spring sunshine to stir the loins for a ride. It doesn't hurt when there's a sweet little used CRF70 waiting for my kids to learn to ride on. Just picked it up last night from Powersports Canada in Ottawa. While I appreciate them responding to my online ad for a kid bike, I was annoyed to get the bike home and discover that the $150(?) "dealer prep" I was obliged to pay apparently only covered some gas and an oil change. The body work was missing an important (and obvious) bolt, other hardware was loose, the right hand-guard mount was broken, and the chain was flapping like a sail. Not even a squirt of lube on it! How much would it have cost to just fix those things? Anyway, some tinkering later and the little beast was ready to roll.

This is my kids' first introduction to riding, so they were pretty excited last night when we picked up the bike and shopped for gear. Ottawa Goodtime Centre was helpful (despite almost closing time) with picking out helmets and some body armour for my son, who's almost 8, and daughter who's almost 10. Got a good deal on Fox Tracer DOT MX helmets at $99 each. They seem to fit well, and hold goggles nicely. For body armour we picked a one-piece SixSixNine upper with integrated arm protection and a spine protector. The kids can share it. Given the speed of the CRF70, this combo should be fine. After all, they ride bicycles fast on hard pavement wearing only regular clothes and a bike helmet. Too much protection and the false sense of invulnerability leads to bad judgement and risk taking.

I really wasn't sure how interested my daughter would be in learning to ride. She's the cautious type. But she surprised everyone by being tenacious and really giving it a go. She's hooked. Although my son is the more natural risk taker and quite athletic, he seemed a bit overwhelmed by all the things to learn. Late night last night didn't help. He'll figure it all out soon enough.

So today we all got to give the little '70 a go--my wife included, after some persuasion. She was hooked too. We may have to get her a scooter one of these days. And I suspect the kids will outgrow this bike by the end of the summer. Next step up involves a clutch.

I also exhumed my KLR for its first ride today. Ran into Ottawa on errands, got caught by some rain on the way back. Bike and rider rode like champs nonetheless. Unfortunately, the water pump is dripping at the weep hole which suggest the seals are going. I ordered new seals today and get to enjoy draining the oil and tearing off the clutch side to replace the seals next weekend. Too bad I didn't notice *before* I put the bike together and filled up the oil and coolant. Sigh. I suppose I should be thankful this bike's been utterly reliable. But I'm Jonesing for newer, lighter ride--maybe a EFR450X that's been dual-sported.

Those Honda SH150's sure look attractive for running into Ottawa. Maybe I'm just getting old, but poking along in stop-and-go traffic for an hour is mighty tedious on a regular bike. One of these days I'm going to scratch that scooterlust itch I've had for the past 25 years...