The penguin's motorcycling and Jeep blog

Friday, August 22, 2008

A very lucky dude

Watch near the end. A guy slides down and whacks into the barrier. He falls, and just as he hits the ground, a 400 pound motorcycle flies right over him and slams mostly through the barrier. The guy gets up and runs like hell to get out of the way of any other flying motorcycles that may be coming. Makes me glad that penguins don't race motorcycles...

Also: Be sure to tighten your front axle nut, people:

-- Badtux the Flightless Penguin

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Leaky rear axle

The last time I changed the differential fluid in the rear of my Jeep, I apparently missed a spot with my RTV bead when I installed the differential cover. It's been doing a slow drip... drip... drip... ever since. Not a lot. If I left the Jeep sitting in one spot for a week, I might see a small quarter-sized spot of fluid on the ground. But a rear axle don't have no oil gauge or nuthin' to tell ya that it's low on fluid, so it was a PITA to get under there and pull the plug and check it and pump a few ounces more fluid into the axle every now and then, especially since the plug is partially hidden behind the gas tank so you literally have to *pump* fluid into the thing unless you jack up the body a bit.

So anyhow, it's getting close to the time where I should change it anyhow (I have 22,000 miles on the Jeep, I should change it at 24,000 miles because it's a limited-slip Dana 44 and the plates wear and there's no oil filter so the only way to get that crap out of the differential is to dump the fluid every 12,000 miles) so tonight I took the bikes out of the garage and parked them beside the apartment building, and backed the Jeep into the garage. Now, one reason why I didn't do so well on the rear axle last time was because the rear axle is partially hidden by the gas tank skid plate. So this time, I stuck the Hi-Lift farm jack on the back bumper of the Jeep and jacked it up a little. Not enough to get the wheels off the ground, just enough to lift up the body of the Jeep so that the rear axle wasn't buried so deep by the gas tank. Boy, I'm glad my Jeep has a nice sturdy steel bumper instead of that plastic bullshit on the modern vehicles!

So anyhow, I just popped the differential cover bolts off, whacked the cover a few times with a rubber mallet to get the old RTV to let loose so I could pull it off, and let the fluid drain into the drain pan beneath it. Then I cleaned everything off with a gasket scraper, then brake cleaner (ooh! ether! whoooo!), and put a bead of black RTV around the cover and slapped that sucker back on and torqued the bolts to 30 ft/lbs. So now I'm waiting an hour for the RTV to dry, then I'm going to head back down and put in the differential fluid -- Royal Purple 75W140 synthetic, in case you're wondering (that's the recommended viscosity for this differential when used for off-road duty, and Royal Purple comes with the limited slip additive already included).

Next up, I get to take it to the dealership for a warranty repair on the seat, which seems to have a broken recliner mechanism... grrrr!

-- Badtux the Jeepin' Penguin

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The never-ending electrical project done!

Got it all back together and it works. So I'll put together the remainder of the postings describing the project, and maybe enlighten you a bit about how electricity works while I'm at it. Next up, I add a socket on the side for the heated vest and air pump (that one doesn't get switched, unlike the one at the front), and then go looking for that mysterious heated grips connector up front and add my heated grips. That should pretty much do it for the electrical stuff, unless I add electronic cruise control, which has a fair amount of electrical work of its own...

-- Badtux the Electrifying Penguin

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The never-ending electrical project again

The Wee-strom is starting to get electrifying. I have the new fuse panel installed, the relay kit installed, and I've used my volt-ohmmeter to verify that the fuse panel switches on and off with the ignition (for the switched circuits -- it has three switched circuits and two non-switched circuits). Now all I have to do is drill another hole in the underseat tray and extend the wires for my Powerlet outlet at the handlebars to the new fuse panel, and I'll have my first circuit hooked up to it.

I've been taking photographs, and hopefully will get some posted and online shortly. But it's late and I'm tired, so I'm going to bed.

-- Badtux the Electrifying Penguin

How to get to good riding places *fast*

Now, one thing I don't like about owning a Kawasaki KLR 650 is that if you want to explore someplace like Death Valley or Moab, you have to ride there. And ride. And ride. And ride. And ride. And ride. And when you get there, you still have a 400 pound dual-sport, not a 250 pound trail bike. And pushing a 400 pound dual-sport around in the dirt is hard work.

But courtesy of Gizmodo, there is a solution. Just take your lightweight Yamaha XT220 trail bike with you and *fly* in to those areas! Yeah the dirt strips in Death Valley are kinda a pain, but hey, it's better than spending 9 hours riding only to end up with a too-big bike once you get there, right?

Of course, the other possibility is to just hitch a trailer behind your car and haul your trail bike behind you. That's a little more affordable for this flightless waterfowl, as well as a bit safer than flying a light airplane into a dirt strip, heh!

-- Badtux the Flightless Penguin

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The never-ending electrical project

Last night I got about 45 minutes to work on the Nightstrom, my flat black 2008 Suzuki DL650 V-Strom. I gave up on relocating the ABS fuses and relay to behind the left side panel. It was too hard to get the left side panel off, requiring too much disassembly of the bike, and replacing those relays and fuses isn't something I want to spend hours doing on the side of a road (eep!). With the relays and fuses still relegated to their original general location behind the battery, I finally gave up on putting the new fuse panel immediately behind the battery. There just was not enough room there. Instead the new fuse panel will have to go in the owner's manual tray.

That decision made, I took some stick-on plastic hooks and moved the ABS fuses and ABS relay to a more compact configuration. They were originally hooked via rubber slots to tabs on a piece of plastic attached to the battery tray. I cut off that plastic extrusion of the battery tray and moved them back to the front side of the owner's manual tray, more to the left. This leaves me room to put the fuse panel relay alongside them in the space to the right of them.

So anyhow, I'm going to stick the fuse panel into the tray with velcro, rather than screws. That way I can more easily lift it when I want to screw new wires into it (otherwise it's damnably hard for my beady little penguin eyes to get a wire into the correct location on the panel). I ran out of velcro so I'm going to need to run to Radio Shack this afternoon and get some. I am taking photographs of everything I am doing, and will post a nice big summary when I'm done. Just remember that what you will see there leaves out all the mis-steps and false starts that thus far have characterized this project, heh :-).

-- Badtux the Electrifying Penguin

Monday, August 11, 2008

Glad I don't have a BMW

Ouch. Apparently not the first time this has happened to BMW motorcycle forks. The rider reports that the bike acted like it was entering a tank slapper, and then the bottom of the forks ripped right off and the bike went down while the wheel went its own merry way.

Jap bikes have their own quirks, but they don't send their wheels in random directions, and their sidestands generally don't just collapse underneath you (another quirk of these BMW's -- flimsy sidestands, probably because for many years BMW motorcycles didn't have sidestands at all, just centerstands). German "engineering". Bah humbug!

-- Badtux the Jap-bike-ownin' Penguin

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Motorcycle wiring sucks

I am currently engaged in trying to get my fuse block installed on the Nightstrom. To do that, I had to first find a place to put the fuse block. I finally decided I could re-arrange the ABS relay and fuses into a more compact arrangement and put the fuse block in the area behind the battery where those are located. Now I have to fish the rear brake wire out from under the coolant reservoir and tap in to it for my relay that will turn the fuse block on and off, and find a place to put that relay. It's looking like I might have to take the rear rack off my bike to get the side cover off to find a place to put the relay. Which also requires taking the Givi luggage racks off the bike because they either block access to the rear rack bolts or are blocking the removal of the panel I need to take off.

All I wanted to do was install a simple wire harness and fuse block, not disassemble my bike! Oh well, at least I still have my KLR to ride to work tomorrow...

-- Badtux the Dissassembling Penguin

Monday, August 4, 2008

When farkles go bad

One of the joys of owning any motorcycle is farkling it -- adding accessories and modifications to make it exactly what you want. But sometimes what you think is the right thing just doesn't work, and then is when you have to make some choices.

In my case, I was wanting to do two things for the Nightstrom -- protect the plastics, and have highway pegs. I have bad knees so the highway pegs were the biggy -- I can replace plastics, but replacing knees is a far more painful thought. So I looked around at the options, and decided what gave me the best protection for a reasonable price was the Givi crash guards for the Suzuki DL650 V-Strom. Then I could mount my Harley highway pegs to the thing, the kind meant to install on crashbars on a cruiser that I happened to have sitting on a box on the shelf, and voila!

So I put the Givi engine guards on, after waiting for a few weeks for a slow boat from Italy, and then tried to fit the highway pegs. No dice. If I put them where the bars were vertical, they were too high and too close to me. Further out and down, they were hidden under the arch where the engine guard wrapped upward around the plastics and my leg hit the up-bar.

So next thing I thought was an AMotostuff skid plate. Then I could put a Happy Trail highway peg bar intended to bolt to the skid plate of a Honda XR650 dual-sport to the AMotostuff skid plate, and voila. So I forked over another couple hundred bucks (eep!) for a skid plate. And mounted the highway peg bar to that, and... well, the skid plate is *rubber mounted* to reduce the force it puts onto the somewhat fragile bracket the rear mounts to, and my footpegs wobbled so much as to be practically useless!

I tried a few more options, and none of them worked. Finally I settled on a Pat Walsh Design motor guard and now have nice usable highway pegs, at the expense of less protection for my plastics. You've seen that setup further down the page.

So anyhow, what do you do with $350 worth of farkle that don't work for you? Well, that's easy -- you fleaBay it. So it's on its way to a new owner as we speak, and while I'm out some money, at least I'm not out $350 worth of money. The new owner doesn't care about highway pegs, he just wants protection for his plastics and the underside of his bike. So he gets what he wants, and I have what I need -- servicable highway pegs.

So today's lesson: Mistakes aren't the end of things. If you make a mistake and buy the wrong accessories for your bike, it's not the end of the world. Just fleaBay it, and then get what works for your bike. Maybe you'll be out a few bucks, but (shrug). So it goes, in motorcyclin' land.

-- Badtux the Farkle Penguin