Friday, September 27, 2013

Listen to her...

We were up in Portland last weekend attending Vegfest and eating our way through the city,  thanks to Everyday Tastiness for showing us Back To Eden Bakery and Portland's vegan hotspots.

While driving around I wanted to stop at the Honda dealership to check out the new Honda Grom.

Honda Powersports
Needless to say they don't even touch the showroom floor before they are sold and they did not have one in stock. I'll have to wait until the new wears off and the showroom is flooded with closeout Groms they can't get rid of.

Honda Powersports

So we went to check out their extensive clothing and gear department. We looked at helmets, gloves and I tried on a couple of jackets... specifically the Ansai mobile warming units. Trobairitz bought one for our trip to San Francisco to meet Rogey and absolutely loved it. I on the other hand was more than a little skeptical of the three tiny heating elements keeping me warm so I dismissed it and went looking for much more stout heating apparel, high voltage, microwire technology, manly man stuff.

Trobairitz wandered off to look at girly girl stuff and said she'd meet me out on the showroom floor. I trotted off to look at more bikes, sit and make vroom vroom noises. She came along shortly after, toting a small bag stating she bought some socks and off we went to Native Foods for a late lunch/early dinner. Although anxious to show me her new socks, she waited until we were several miles away from the dealership (knowing I wouldn't turn around in PDX traffic) to reveal that she bought me the jacket I tried on earlier instead. She is a sneaky one and insisted that I wear the jacket.

Gentlemen, trust your woman when it comes to clothing, they know from which they speak! We got home, she charged the battery right away and had me try it on. It wasn't bad, but I was still skeptical that three tiny elements would keep me warm. The next morning we went out grocery shopping and I wore the jacket, in fact I wore the jacket with the heating elements on high and judging by the smile on my face my skepticism soon melted away.

Okay, but how does it perform on a bike at 60 mph in 45ºF temperature while raining?!? In the dark!

Let me tell you it performs quite well. I wore my 8 Layer shirt, a t-shirt and a very light sweater under the jacket, then my Aerostich Roadcrafter Light suit overtop and I was comfortable for the 22 wet miles into work. I turned the Ansai on at 50% and it produced enough heat to take off the chill and keep me focused on the ride.

I used it all week and I am impressed. It doesn't keep your arms warm but the waterproof shell does a better job as a windbreaker than my Columbia Windstopper jacket does. It is a stretch material and fits snug without making me feel like the Michelin man and it looks good. Or is it that I make it look good?

I've been trying for months, if not years, to figure out how to run all my heated accessories on my bike without frying the stator, regulator/rectifier or killing my battery. The anemic Tiger has a mere 350W charging system so I have to be diligent when using my heated grips, heated liner and now my new LED driving lights.

I should have taken my wife's advice sooner and bought the jacket when she bought hers. But like my helmet sticker says "My wife says I don't listen to her! (Or something like that)".

Yes, she takes such good care of me, I am spoiled; I love her so and forever in her debt. 

- Thank you babe, you're the best!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Blinded by the Light

Finally, I got every thing buttoned up last week and Lucy is running again! It's amazing how difficult a bike can be sometimes.

A simple addition of driving lights gave me an excuse to catch up on some overdue maintenance such as a radiator flush, however removing and reinstalling the tank several times to do so caused me to break a fuel fitting which required replacing said fittings. Which in turn gave me an opportunity to have my mechanic check the valves and replace the fork oil while I waited for parts to arrive.

I spent all of last Friday morning poking, prodding, cutting and slowly picking away at the plastic fuel fittings from the metal flange.

Removing plastic from the metal flange


Once the first one was out I attempted to very carefully remove the second fitting with a 19mm socket. I knew deep down what I was in for and as I ever so slowly turned the socket counter-clockwise it became easier and easier to turn, then suddenly it was too easy to turn... sure enough the second fitting broke and I was back to poking, prodding, cutting and slowly picking away at the plastic again.

2nd fitting broke

At least I knew what I was doing this time so the chore went a little faster.

All clean!

All cleaned up and ready to install the new fittings. I skipped down to the post office to pick up my treasures.

oooohhhhhh.... shiny!

Assembly went smoothly, I put the tank back on without the fear of breaking the fittings and got the battery in and bodywork back on.

Now to wait for darkness to test my lights. I rolled her outside, pointed her up the street and hit the switch.

WOW, those are bright! Let's see... if I aim this one down a little bit and this one to the left just a tad.

Headlights low beam

Headlights low beam with ADVMonster lights

Nope, still bright. Oh well, we'll see how many drivers I can blind during my commute.

Drivers seem to be used to LED lights as only one vehicle flashed their lights at me all week, a pretentious BMW driver with projector beam headlights at that. Really?!?

The lights did vibrate loose so I had to add lock washers to the mounting clamps and blue Loctite threadlock to all the mounting bolts and to where the light housing separates.

Thanks for the photo Mattsnook 
The lights produce a much brighter, white light than the headlights and draw very little power, but they do draw power. So much so that I have to decide which one auxiliary unit to use at a time as not to max out my wimpy little 350W charging system. I can run the lights if I keep my heated grips on low or run my grips on high if I shut off the lights, how frustrating and I haven't even entered my heated liner into this combination yet.

Let's see... liner off, grips high, lights off or liner on, grips low, lights off or liner off, grips off, lights on or liner off, grips low, lights on.

Or buy a Tiger Explorer 1200 with a 950W generator......

I suspect I'll be driving the car much more this winter than previous years, my commute is now just over 10 miles longer and the microclimates between home and work can differ significantly.

Happy Autumnal Equinox everyone!!!

Well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance
With the stars up above in your eyes
A fantabulous night to make romance
'Neath the cover of October skies
And all the leaves on the trees are falling
To the sound of the breezes that blow
And I'm trying to please to the calling
Of your heartstrings that play soft and low...
~Van Morrison

Sunday, September 8, 2013

One Thing After Another

Summer has come and is nearly gone, the sun dawns later and will be setting sooner as the days get shorter and fall approaches. This means I'm already commuting to work in the dark and soon enough my commute home will be the same. I have the gear to handle such daily slogs but my bike is lacking a bit of kit. The stock headlights are fine until I encounter oncoming traffic, then I'm pretty much riding blind, I have to hope and trust I don't come upon any roadkill (raccoons, possums, nutria, coyotes) or other hazards in the road such as shredded truck tires, mattresses or a 5 gallon bucket of oil strewn across two lanes of a busy corner. (Thanks for the warning Andy).

To combat this I visited ADVMonster and placed an order for their Model 30 Spot Light and Model 44 Flood Light to mount to my crash bars.

Now all I had to do was wait. I ran the bike low on fuel as I knew the tank had to come off to run wiring for the lights. Friday came and my lights were still in transit so I removed the tank and proceeded to do a radiator flush and coolant change. Triumph designers brilliantly placed the fuel tank on top of the radiator cap so to flush the radiator one must remove the battery to remove the tank, drain the coolant, flush the system, fill, reinstall the tank and battery to run the engine to operating temperature, let the bike cool, remove the battery and tank, drain, fill, reinstall the tank and battery, run the engine, let the bike cool, remove the battery and tank, drain one more time before filling with coolant. So this procedure took up all of Friday morning and the garage smells of fuel and coolant, but this service was done.

My lights came in Friday afternoon so like a happy boy I skipped down to the post office to fetch them.

They look like very nice lights at a reasonable price, I read many good reviews on several different forums. I watched YouTube videos of riders demonstrating their newly mounted lights and I was anxious to receive mine and get 'em mounted... but how?

Spot on the left/Flood on the right
ADVMonster LED Lights
I pondered how to mount these and drove all over town buying several different pipe, conduit, cable, wire and bar clamps before finally discovering ground clamps! They gave me a good solid base and a perfect pivot point to attach the housing bracket.

Lowe's online photo

I spray painted them black and attached them to my bars. Mounted the lights and ran the wires up into the dash to power and a new switch I picked up at Napa Auto Parts. I relocated my Hot Grips switch to access the factory blank in the dash so it looks stock.

I installed the battery, checked and double checked the wiring making sure everything worked then decided I better check the air filter while the tank is still off. Got it cleaned, re-oiled and installed.

Now to button everything up, I put the tank back on one last time, plugged in the fuel pump and attached the fuel lines...... SNAP! What was that?!?

I knew what it was but I was afraid to look.

$($%(*!$*^%)@)$%*)$#*%^%(#!#)@$%! A broken fuel fitting!

The bottom fitting is not so fitting.

If Triumph has an Achilles' Heel, it has to be their plastic fuel fittings. There was a recall and they would replace the male elbow fittings but not the female fittings in the tank itself. So when they break, you're in for a bit of surgery to get the plastic threads out of the metal flange. You can read the surgery procedure and what I'm in for at The 520 Chain Cafe. Thanks for the write up Joe C.

I'm in search of the metal fittings now and since the bike is out of commission for another week or so while I wait for the parts to come in, I have an email into my friendly local mechanic to see if he'll fit me in for a valve adjustment. With my luck recently, I'm not going anywhere near the inside of the motor. I already have one bike in pieces, I don't need another one taking up space.

Bad is never good until worse happens.  ~Danish Proverb