Guest Post: Wolfe and the IBR Parts 1-3

 The Iron Butt Rally is long distance motorcycling’s most challenging endurance event. It runs once every two years in the continental US and Lobo Loco Rally Master, Wolfe Bonham, is a veteran of the event. Wolfe ran the 2023 IBR and has been sharing his ride on Facebook, but he said he’s OK with guest posting on TMD, so here is parts 1-3! Eleven thousand miles in eleven days? Getting ready for this, let alone doing it, is an epic undertaking… enjoy!

Parts 1-3: Lead Up, Launch Pad & Take Off

words by Wolfe Bonham

Part One
Lead up, and Premonitions of Doom

The Iron Butt Rally is the Superbowl of long distance motorcycle endurance competitions.   In the 11 days of the event riders will cover anything from 9000 to as much as 14000 miles (14-22,500kms!), depending on their routing.  It is a delicate balance of miles vs. rest.  Get it right and you could find glory.  Get it wrong and you could find a hospital bed, or worse.

As entrants into the Iron Butt Rally we know more than a year in advance that we’ve been accepted into the challenge.   

Most riders begin preparations at least 6 months in advance making sure their motorcycle is up to the task, entering other smaller competitions to practice routing skills, and doing a bunch of progressively longer certification rides to get your body used to what you’re about to put it through.

In my case I had been so caught up in new home renovations and building a massive workshop that I wasn’t able to do any of this.  In fact, in all of 2022 I didn’t do a single long distance certification ride.  And, due to border closures, it had been more than 3 years since I had entered a scavenger hunt style rally.

With a mere 2 weeks before the IBR, I put the final touches on my shop, pulled my motorcycles out of storage, and began the process of building a Rally Bike.

I had three 2003 BMW R1150GS parts bikes, one of which had low kilometers, but clutch issues.  That was to be my competition bike. 

I spent the next 2 weeks twisting wrenches 18+ hours a day, scrambling to get parts ordered and delivered on such short notice.

I ran into clearance issues with my auxiliary fuel tap into my main tank which had me scratching my head for 4 hours.  Turns out my other tank, being plastic, was able to flex just enough to clear the frame.  Filing down the brass fitting as much as I dared got me closer but I still needed about 1/16″.  Desperate at 2am, out comes the big sledge hammer.  I’m sure that a 16th of an inch bend in the motorcycle’s frame won’t matter!

Two days before I need to leave for the start line in Pittsburgh I get my first test ride on the bike.  I get home after 30 minutes with a long list of things that need to still change or be fixed.

Some parts are not available in time or can’t be shipped to Canada before I leave so I opt to have them shipped to the hotel in Pittsburgh.  I can do a few last minute installs in the parking lot.  These will include my hydration system and some needed wiring for my heated gear.

I’m packing the bike honestly worried I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

The bike is untested.  Other than little 250cc bikes on the teaching lot, I haven’t ridden any big bikes AT ALL this year, and hardly any kilometers last year.  Oh, and I’m 20 lbs heavier than I’ve ever done an IBR in my life, and I’m still recovering from a bad cold/cough with a ton of meds on the bike hoping it all clears up before the start….

Part Two – IBR 2023

Sitting on the Launch Pad

The ride to Pittsburgh was really my first ride of any distance this year.  As I settled into the
saddle I began to assess potential long term issues.  Relearning how to relax my shoulders, relax my grip,  sit more upright, etc.  Proper body position would become the key to enduring 20+ hours per day on the bike for 11 days in a row.

Arriving at the hotel parking lot in Pittsburgh was a very emotional experience for me.  Most of my life has been lived as a nomad, and as a result my base of friends is spread around the globe.  With all the CoVid lockdowns of the past year not only did that mean I couldn’t compete in the 2021 IBR, but it also meant that I had been cut off from so many of my friends.  Seeing them all after so long meant tons of hugs and a few tears.

But I still had work to do on the bike, and the next morning would be the whirlwind of tech inspections and registrations.  I went to the lobby to retrieve 2 important packages that were shipped there in advance… and they were nowhere to be found!

The lobby staff said to check back in the morning.   This was unacceptable to me.  I had tracking numbers that showed both packages had arrived.  The morning wasn’t going to make them suddenly appear!

After getting more and more insistent, and involving no less than 5 hotel staff, the packages were finally found.

I proceeded to get my hydration system installed, confirmed the new wiring functioned correctly with my heated gear, and made a few more ergonomic adjustments to the bike that had popped up on the ride down.

After some drinks and an excellent Reuben Sandwich with long missed friends it was time to sleep before the chaos of tech day.

The next morning found all the competitors proceeding through a series of lines and inspections; a mini-rally in and of itself.  The lead up to the start of the competition is 2-3 days and includes things like a 30 mile ride to calibrate everyone’s odometers against each others, safety and capacity inspection for the plethora of different auxiliary fuel cell set ups, confirmation of our satellite GPS tracking systems, insurance, medical evacuation confirmations, and the sobering video deposition of death, where we acknowledge the risks of this competition and wave all liabilities to the organization. 

The whole process takes several hours to complete, and my only hurdle was that “Warchild” didn’t like the way my fuel cell was vented.  An easy, but necessary fix, as you never want to be on the bad side of Dale Wilson.

The rally poster was put on display beginning the speculation by all the riders as to what the overall theme would be.  There was a prominent chicken in the poster, and I was convinced the final leg “hero run” would be from Denver to Chicken, Alaska, before returning to Pittsburgh.  Running the math it was 6600 miles… just barely doable in the 5.5 days of the final leg if you managed back to back 1200 mile days.

Greg Camp surprised me showing up with Bam Baker, so we all went on an ice cream run after clearing inspection.  We were now off the clock until Sunday’s rider meetings.
However, on the ride to the ice cream shop I couldn’t help but notice the ever present smell of burning clutch from my bike.  The clutch didn’t appear to be slipping at all, but something definitely wasn’t right inside.  Would it hold up for 11 days?  Would I have to baby yet another bike to an IBR finish, or would it leave me stranded in some place like Chicken, Alaska?!

Part Three – IBR 2023

Cleared for Launch

Sunday afternoon has our standard rider’s meeting, following the rookie rider’s meeting.  After that we just have to anxiously await the dinner banquet where we’re finally given the Rally Book that will dictate our fates for the next 11 days.

And before you know it we’re all opening our Rally Packs, which seem oddly thin.

The theme this year is food, and while there are not a lot of locations to choose from in the first 2.5 day leg, we are all given identical Bingo cards with 25 restaurant chains on them.  To claim each we’ll need a photo of our motorcycle with our Rally Flag in front of the restaurant along with a receipt for a purchase inside.  This will prove to be quite a time suck.  A normal photo stop can be done by an experienced rally rider in under 2 minutes, including photo and paperwork… but going inside for a receipt could take 5-10 minutes each.  They aren’t worth a lot of points, but if you start to score Bingo rows or columns the points start to add up quickly.  Blacking out the entire card is worth an additional 2000 points.  I think I’ll go for it.

Back in my hotel room by 7pm I start the planning process for my route.  We are now on the clock and decisions about time spent planning/routing vs sleeping the night before begin to set in.

The Rally Book is scanned into a .pdf that I can search through while riding.  The points, time limitations, and notes are added to the location codes so that I don’t have to look that up later… it all comes up on my Garmins.  Weather is checked and locations are grouped by point values.  It becomes obvious there are 3 distinct routes:  Maine, Florida, and Denver.   Given our required 2nd checkpoint in Denver I discount that one almost immediately.  Maine looks more promising than Florida, but includes several locations in downtown NYC, which always makes me nervous not being from that area.

I opt for the Florida route, with the goal of getting to the daytime only high point Cedar Key location right at sunrise.  That will mean skipping a few lower point locations on the way south, and only getting 1-2 nap on the first night.  But, doing so opens up some options on the 2nd day to scoop up everything along the Gulf Coast and end up with some restaurants in Houston before pulling the first leg mandatory rest on night 2.  Fingers crossed that sets me up to get to the big points group photo just north of the Leg 1 Checkpoint in Tulsa.
I’m happy with my plan, and in bed by 11pm.

The morning comes sooner than expected after a restless night of barely sleeping, laying in bed playing the “what if” game in my head.

Breakfast is shared with fellow riders, some not saying much about where they are headed, and others sharing ideas and concerns. 

Bikes are loaded and we are required to be standing with our bikes from 8am until our final
odometer readings are taken. 

Cory Ure, parked beside me, is nowhere to be seen as rally volunteers are coming down our line.  I look everywhere for him, but it’s too late.  They bypass his bike, and now he’ll be held from leaving until all other bikes have left.

Following a brief last minute rider’s meeting we all mount our bikes and nervously await the start.  Next to me is Lisa Cover Rufo and her daughter Molly, who is calmly sipping on an iced latte!  The luxury of being pillion!

Before we know it we’re off!  This is my 3rd IBR, and it still brings me to tears every time I start.  It is such an honour and privilege to be amongst this elite group of riders.

Pulling onto the highway we all start to spread out on our own individual plans and routes.
Who will have the best plan? Who will find glory? Who will struggle just to make the finish, and who won’t get back?  Will everyone be safe, or will tragedy strike?

I take the ramp to I-79S on a beautiful sunny morning.  My die is cast.  Little do I know the next 2 days will be some of the toughest, most dangerous riding of my life.

Here’s a link to a video of the start.  This is not my video, but enjoy.

That’s the end of Parts 1-3. Check out Parts 4-6 so to see how Wolfe gets along on the road! And if you want to find the original story itself, you can find Wolfe on Facebook here.

If you want a taste of long distance riding to get started, Wolfe runs Lobo Loco Rallies, some of which you can run from anywhere in the world (the local ones are based in Ontario, Canada). Check it out here:

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Empty Algonquin Park

I managed a couple of days out on the bike around my birthday this year. Thanks to being freed from the shackles of the school year, I was able to do it outside of the May long weekend when the roads would be utterly mad with with ravening hordes driving the largest SUVs they could find and hauling every possible motorized toy to their second homes in the near north.

It ended up being just over 800kms over two days. 500kms on day one from home and up through and around Algonquin Park, then 320kms home on day two.  The Map.

The ride down Highway 9 to the 400 north was packed solid with transport trucks, to the point where I missed the turn north on Highway 27 because I was literally surrounded by the bloody things.

Finally on the 400 north (which was moving well on the Thursday morning before the long weekend), I let the Kawasaki fly and we shot up the road, finally clear of the convoy. I had three things going for me when I crested a hill right into the eyes of a waiting OPP cruiser.

#1: I was making time in the middle lane rather than the fast lane and was following another car

#2: The bike is awfully difficult to get a reading from thanks to not a lot of metal to bounce radar off of

#3: You can always count on some citiot blasting up the fast lane in a mega-sized German SUV

The cruiser lit the lights and pulled out only to collect said SUV out of the fast lane. He wasn’t going much faster than I was but he can enjoy that ticket.

The 400 was (incredibly) fully functional and I was around Barrie in no time and moving up Highway 11 at pace. I pulled into Webbers because they have a nice new Starbucks where I got a coffee and stretched. In under two hours I’d covered the 172kms that got me clear of the gravity of the Greater Toronto Area and into the near north.

After a warm up (it was 5°C when I left just past 9am), I was back on the Kawasaki and heading north again. Gravenhurst was (incredibly) efficient and I slipped past what is often a backup without delay. By 11:30 I was grabbing a quick lunch and filling up in Huntsville and then it was Highway 60 into Algonquin Provincial Park.

I stopped at the West Gate to have a chat with the wardens and get my pass as I intended to stop at the Visitor Centre. After a nice chat with the young ladies at the desk I got my pass, set up the 360 camera and then got in motion ASAP because it’s blackfly season and boy do they come out of the woodwork when you stop!

Into the park there was very little traffic. The only one I had to make space for was the massive German SUV thundering through one of the most beautiful places in the province at well over 120kms/hr (it’s an 80 zone). If you play your cards like that, you’re not likely to see anything!

Once clear of the traffic by the gate things got really quiet. An occasional car would pass the other way but there was nothing on the road in front of behind me as I went deeper into nature. It was midday so I wasn’t likely to see any big animals (and I didn’t), but birds were plentiful with birds of prey over the road and many others in the bush.

It was a glorious ride alone through the park – a place that comes as close to a church for me as anything can be. The bike was the perfect vehicle. I was moving fast enough to stay ahead of the blood sucking insects, but slowly enough to smell the lakes and woods and feel the thermoclines as a dipped into and out of valleys.

The visitor’s centre is worth a stop if you’re travelling through the park. The lookout off the back is a great view (and high enough up to be relatively bug free!). I would have stayed for a coffee and a snack but the restaurant was closed. It was a good opportunity to clean the bugs off my visor though.

By now it had hit the high of 12°C for the day and though it was sunny it was cool, especially when in motion on the bike. If I stopped I got sweaty and then the flies would come, so best to keep things moving. Out the east gate and then the plan was to ride south around the bottom of the park.

The Concours had been fantastic on the highways and had handled everything I asked of it. The only place I think the Tiger could have done a better job was on Peterson Road, which is your typical poorly maintained Ontario backroad with ruts and potholes that’ll knock your teeth out. The sporty suspension on the Kawasaki didn’t enjoy that bit of road. The Tiger’s longer suspenders would have done the trick, but otherwise the Concours was the right bike for this ride, especially on the highways.

I finally pulled into Wilberforce about 444kms into the ride for a stretch and a drink (and to clean the bugs off the visor again). 

After a quick pit stop I was on my way again. The 118 is one of my favourite roads in the province and I twisted and turned my way down it towards Canarvon and Minden where I was spending the night. Only a long delay in Haliburton for road works slowed the ride down. At least I know the fans are working on the C14. They cycled three times while we sat there wondering what the f*** was going on. It turned out a water pipe had burst across the road holding things up.

I pulled into the Red Umbrella Inn just outside of Minden at about 5pm. After getting cleaned up I rode into town for some of the best Thai I’ve had at Suwan’s Thai Cuisine and picked up a couple of local craft brews from Boshkung Brewing Social (Minden really has everything you need) before filling up and heading back to the inn for a quiet night by the lake.

The next morning I was up early and over to the Mill Pond for breakfast. Great eggs and bacon and then it was an empty ride down the 118 to Bracebridge, Port Carling and finally Bala for a coffee before the last stretch through Wahta Mohawk Territory before popping out at the 400 and getting into the rapid flow south.

I dodged and weaved around Creemore, stopping once to change into lighter gear because the temperature had shot up with the humidity and made it home before the thunderstorms started. A nice way to spend a couple of days on the road. I only wish I’d had more time.

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Closer Adirondack Ride Plan

 A shortened Southern Ontario to the Allegany/Adirondacks mountains in New York State. It’s about 300kms to get there, then looping back to a central base means I can ride light without luggage during the stay there. 

Day 1: Home to Adirondack base, 291kms:

Day 2: Watkins Glen Loop 393kms:

Day 3: Allegany Loop, 666, 395kms: 

Day 4: South Loop, 381kms:

Day 5: Back home: 293kms:

That’s 1753kms over five days. The nice thing about the loops is they are just an outline. If I don’t feel like a high mileage day on any of them, I can cut corners and shorten the loop.

Fall would be the best time to go – end of September/beginning of October seem to offer the best chance of seeing the trees change colour.

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Riding Versus Flying to BC for Work…

I’ve got a work thing in Vancouver next month which got me thinking about incorporating a ride to the west coast and back. Turns out flying is much cheaper (even with car rental) than riding…

Cost of flying/ ($200 return) + renting a car for the week (inc. gas + taxes = $1100): ~$1300 total.

Total mileage riding out and back: ~8800kms. at 0.58 cents/kms = ~$5100 (not counting hotels enroute). Flying is way cheaper! I’d save on having to rent a car while out there, but the costs of moving myself there (as opposed to being luggage on a plane) are significant.

If I took the week off before the week I needed to be in Vancouver, could I ride out there in that time? It’s about 4400kms to get there. Saturday to the following Sunday is nine days on the road, which works out to under 500kms/day. Intense but certainly doable.

4400kms out at 500kms/day = 9 days (8 nights of hotel). Going cross-Canada on the way out: = 4436kms. 9 days on the road at 500kms per day = 4500kms.

After the week on the ground in Vancouver, I’d take 2 weeks off to come back through the States, hitting key points like Yellowstone National Park. The way back through the US, even with the detour down to Yellowstone, is 4462kms:

It would probably be wise to factor in a tire change at some point on this 10k odyssey. I imagine they’re cheaper and easier to find in the States, so I’d throw on some new shoes and get an oil change and service once south of the border.

Riding out would chew up 3 weeks of vacation but would offer a chance to cross most of the continent on two wheels. In a perfect world I could find work related stops on the way out across Canada and get that week covered (mileage and hotels), then use 2 weeks of holiday for the return through the US.

Motels in Canada on the way out look to be between $120-150 a night (x 8 nights = $1200 in not fancy housing). If I stayed out of cities (where hotel pricing seems to have lost its mind), I could come in under budget if I was aiming at $150/night (taxes in) on average. Hotel prices in the States look similar.

Budget (assuming I covered all costs)

Hotel stays going out (8 nights @ $150/night avg taxes in) = $1200

Hotel stays coming back (12 nights @ $150/night avg taxes in) = $1800

Gas/day = $60* (= 2 tankfulls and ~700kms range/day on the C14) x 20 days on the road = $1200

Tires & Service: Bellevue Kawasaki in Seattle on the way back $1000

Travel eating: breakfast**: $10, Lunch: $20, Dinner: $30 = $60/day avg. x  20 days = $1200

Estimated total cost for a 3 week cross continent 2-wheeled odyssey: $6400

*  Well over what I’d need/day mileage wise and will be cheaper in the US
** If I’m staying a breakfast included hotel then I can save there

That budget isn’t being overly stingy and I should be able to come in ahead on it. It might also be possible to shave days off if I get into a groove (say, on the Praries) and do a couple of big mileage highway days. If I got good at a last minute booking app like HotelTonight I could probably save a bit on the hotel stays too. Another alternative might be to stay at the same chain all the way across and save that way.

We did it by car preCOVID and it was an epic trip. Riding would make it even better!

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Lots of 8s


I’ve been on the road for work for the past couple of weeks (Newfoundland is spectacular!) The weather from there followed us back and we haven’t seen the sun for many days, until this weekend! It finally broke and I’ve gotten some riding in.

I was hoping to get the old Tiger to 100k this year in its 20th year on the road. On the way to that I managed to hit eighty-eight thousand, eight hundred and eighty-eight kilometres! Very satisfying, and the bike looked great doing it:

I pushed my luck the next day and took Connie out for a couple of hours to Hockley Valley and back…

Weather’s been good this week too, maybe we’re finally into spring time! I had the C14 out again for a ride over to the Forks of the Credit after work today… time to make some miles!

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Past Another Cold, Dark Winter

 I’m getting back out with regularity now that the worst of the winter is past. Both of the regular road bikes are fit and took to the road effortlessly. I had a bit of a breakthrough with the Concours14 last year and we’re understanding each other a bit more. It’s a big old bus but it’s remarkably agile for how big it is and we’ve come to a kind of mutual kinesthesis, but I still took the Tiger out first because it’s like putting on an old shoe….

… and we picked up right where we stopped. The goal is still to get to 100k this year in the bike’s 20th year on the road, and I think we’re good to get there.

I took the Tiger out again for some exercise in the gaps between snow and ice at the end of March….

But when I took both bikes out between the ice storms of April (isn’t Canada magical?)…

I enjoyed the Connie so much that in another break in this never ending winter last week the C14 got pulled out in front of the Tiger (which enjoys pride of place in the garage).

I took the bigger road home and passing cars was like being on an arrow loosed from a bow; what a monster that bike is! …And yet so versatile with piles of luggage space, no chain maintenance and (now that I’ve got the tires and shocks worked out), exceptional handling for its size. All of that and the adjustable windshield makes it feel a bit like flying an F14 Tomcat.

The Bonneville project is still not getting the time it deserves, but I’m in a new phase of work and I’m enjoying pouring my time and energy into that. In the meantime, both road-ready bikes are facing a promising riding season.

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Rings and Carburetors: Swimming Upstream on this Vintage Motorcycle Restoration Project

The never ending winter drones on up here, so I’m putting my back into getting the ’71 Triumph Bonneville project closer to a state of mobility.

I have a new 750cc head and pistons on hand, so I gave the piston rings a go. Installing them is pretty straightforward and the first set went in no problem, but as I was compressing the second set into the cylinder sleeve it didn’t feel right, so I backed everything out and the bottom ring came out in pieces. I can only think it was already compromised in the package.

I sent Britcycle an email and they looked through the warehouse to see if they had any extras laying around, but I was out of luck, so it’s a $100 failure (new rings, taxes, shipping). Ouch. This got me looking at costs for this vintage project. The last one I did was the Fireblade. Those are my favourite kinds of restorations. Parts are easy to find and relatively inexpensive, the bike is rideable fairly quickly and, after riding it for a season, I can turn it over for at least what I put into it (or with a small profit as was the case with the Fireblade).

New cylinder heads and cylinders… and broken ring.


I think I’m still right way up on the Bonneville simply because these older bikes seem to work under their own economy. I was looking up prices of what I’ve got on eBay this evening and the frickin owners manual that Bryan threw in at the last minute is $50US! A used top end is $500US (and Bryan gave me 2 of the things!). I imagine I could double my money just parting it all out, though dealing with people doing that would be a giant pain in the ass – at least it has been with the newer bike crowd, maybe the vintage types are less adversarial.

I had a couple of choices when I was considering going old school, and I think I picked the hardest possible one to bring back to life. The technical side of it doesn’t bother me, but with costs increasing all around I’m bothered more about the high prices and difficulty finding and shipping parts than I am with what I’ve got to do to bring it back. That old BSA would have probably been a better choice for my first vintage resto, but it (and alas, Bryan) are long gone.

I’ve got what I’ve got, and I’ve got a lot of it, and I’m crafty. I’ll see what I can do about replacing fasteners and the other bits and pieces I’m missing without it breaking the bank, those these strange old British pre-metric fasteners are a story unto themselves. The goal right now is to rebuild the bike to an operational state and then maybe ride it for a bit before putting it up for sale. I still need a seat and exhausts and I’ll need other odds and ends like control cables. If I can get it back to a state of play, I think I can cover costs and move it along, then I’m thinking I’ll go back to my favourite hunting grounds: forgotten bikes from the 80s, 90s and 00s that I can turn over for next to nothing while giving me a chance to ride something different for a little while.

When the ring crumbled on me I changed gears and rebuilt the Amal carbs. That went well, but I’m missing two of the bolts to put the second carb back together – they weren’t on it when I wiped the mud and rust away. It’s these little setbacks that stall things, and it’s not like I can grab a couple of replacements out of my big tray of bolts (most of which are metric).


How simple can you make a carburettor? These old Amals are pretty close to first principles. The combination of archaeology and simple mechanics is very appealing when everything else I ride carries a computer and my day job is all about them – it’s nice to be fully analog!

I’d broken down the carbs in the fall and left them packaged in a segmented toolbox. Putting them back together was problem free and the kits I got from Britcycle replaced all the gaskets and rubber grommets in them. The old rubber bits were really showing their age.

Guess which one is the 50 year old ring (I;m assuming they’re original)?

Just need some bolts (at $3.50US a pop)

If money and time were no object I’d dig deeper into this vintage resto thing – I dig the mechanical simplicity and I enjoy seeing how mechanical evolution happens over time. As a hobby in retirement, it has great appeal, but I’m some years away from that much free time on my hands.

I’ll see this one through and then refocus on the SPQR-WRO (small profit, quick return – with riding opportunities) side of it where the costs and time commitments aren’t quite so demanding.



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Plastic Welding

 I thought I’d give this a go when I discovered that one of the plastic dash bits (used) for the 2010 C14/GTR1400 Concours was upwards of $150US +shipping. One of the benefits of reading Practical Sportsbikes Magazine is that they’re always dropping technical hints and ideas. They mentioned plastic welding in one of their project bike articles, so I looked it up.

The repair kit cost less than $40CAD and includes a heating ‘iron’ with multiple ends and piles of plastic strips you can melt into a repair. Starting with a simple crack would have been easier, but I had to rebuild the broken end of a complicated plastic form, including a missing bolt hole.

Here’s the broken plastic dash panel:

I found a piece of plastic from a hex key tool with a matching sized hole, cut the end off the plastic bit  and grafted it on.

While that was cooling I melted some of the filler on the back and healed the crack up the middle.

I was liberal with the filler because I figured it would sand back. The only problem with this piece is that it’s patterned on the surface and I’m not sure how I’m going to replicate that. The fix might be to take both pieces of and just paint them to a matching finish.

When I tried it for size, the panel lined up with the holes perfectly and is much more sturdy than it used to be. I’m going to finish sanding it and see if the raw finish bothers me while riding. If it does I’ll take both dash panels off and paint both sides so they match. If I use a vinyl paint, I should get a matching finish that also acts like the original and would Armor-All up nicely.

So, what’s plastic welding like? Pretty straightforward, and like most things if you practice you’ll get better at it. The filler sticks provided in the kit melt easily under the iron and fill cracks and holes well. If you don’t like the first go you can reapply heat and get it to set differently. If you’re looking at absurd replacement costs for old plastic on a well used bike, a plastic welding kit is a good purchase.

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WInter Maintenance: Fuel Injectors on a 955i Triumph

 It’s been a busy winter and I haven’t gotten as much done in the garage as I’d hoped, but breaks in the gloom are beginning to appear so I spent the weekend getting the Tiger sorted and giving plastic welding my first go.

2003 Triumph Tiger 955i Fuel Injector Maintenance

The old Tiger is up at about 90k on the odometer. I did a deep maintenance a couple of winters back (swing arm out, everything gone over from the wheels up) and that seemed to solve most issues, except the fuel injection. These early electronic fuel injection systems in 955i Triumphs is touchy. What I’ve found that worked is to pull the injectors each winter and deep clean them in the ultrasonic bath, so that’s what last weekend was.
Injectors out! I put the end without the electrical connector into the ultrasonic cleaner and give it 10 minutes at 60°C. Once out I clean them up and back in they go. No hesitation or idling problems since.

That vacuum run stepper motor (upper left) is what manages the idle control system – it’s touchy! Make sure you’ve got good vacuum hoses (the black ribbed ones in the pic) and the gasket for the stepper motor is in good shape, or you’ll be stalling… a lot. I’m sorting a threaded holder for the fuel injectors here.

Tank off gave me a chance to sort out the airbox, which I now seal with gasket material. At almost 90k, maintenance takes on jobs like rethreading bolts and gasketing tired airboxes to keep everything tight.

Found a stowaway on the airbox under the gas tank. Probably good luck?

Tiger is back together again and ready to take a run at 100k in it’s 20th season.

How well did it work? We had a break in the polar vortex (it was -30° last week). In 5°C we went for a blast up and down the nearby river roads and it felt sharp. Doing that bit extra with an older high mileage bike when it comes to maintenance is the key to a happy riding season.

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Travel Photography Tech Wishlist

After 25 days on the road across the Iberian Peninsula, I have ideas about what I’m looking for in terms of travel photography tech. The Canon SLR with a bag of lenses is too much to lug around, and the recycled 7 year old Dell laptop doesn’t cut it when it comes to keeping up with modern file sizes. An agile photo tech set also works on two wheels, so here’s what I’d bring along if I were going light but looking for full technical flexiblity in terms of imaging while on the road:

Zenbook S 13 FLIP OLED

An absolutely bonkers sub 2.5lb laptop with 2k of colour corrected display with 100% colour gamut. It folds away to almost nothing, offers the power needed to make high resolution photo and video edits on the road and even converts to a tablet for digital sketching.


Sony Cybershot RX10Mk4

After lugging the SLR with many lenses around Iberia for weeks on end, I’m looking for a more compact but technically robust option. The Cybershot has a massive sensor, shoots in RAW and outperforms my SLR in pretty much every area. Being smaller and less fussy (just the one do-it-all lens), it does what the best camera always does: makes it easy to have it with you. I ended up leaving the SLR behind towards the end because it was more trouble than it was worth


Ricoh Theta Z1

Simply the highest photo quality 360 camera you can get. A massive 1 inch sensor means good low light, RAW shooting, a programmable Android based OS that lets you push the limits of this emerging format by creating my own plugins.

I prefer photography to video so the Z1 is the weapon of choice when it comes to 360 photography. The only thing it can’t do is rough and tumble, but I have a plan for that.


GoPro Max 360

The rough and tumble option. If I’m riding, in the rain or under water, the Max will do the job and capture the moment. It also handles instant panaramas and many video options, including timelapse.

I prefer the ergonomics of the Theta, but the GoPro is the best at what it does, and for action shots it would be a powerful tool.


Apple iPhone 14 Pro

I got an iPhone 13 last year and the camera on it is good – so good that I found myself leaving the DSLR behind because, for candid snaps, the iPhone is more than up to the job. As good as it is, I’m wishing I’d gone a bit further and gotten a 14 pro with extra lens and that bit more photographic range. I’m still struggling with adapting to iOS after owning an Android from the very beginning, but I’d stick it out for the software integration and quality on the iPhone (Apple’s stance on user privacy is appealing too).


This might all seem pretty expensive (photography isn’t a cheap hobby), but when a single pro 400mm lens costs you about ten grand, this entire $7665 set offers much more flexibility with a powerful all-in-one camera, two 360 specialist imaging tools and a state of the art lightweight laptop for post production, and all while taking up next to no room.


I did alright with the old DSLR (these are wild Portuguese seas), but lugging all that about wasn’t very travel friendly – I think I’m ready to migrate back to a prosumer grade all-in-one superzoom camera. I just need to make sure it beats the SLR with lense and includes the specs I need to improve my imaging (large sensor, full manual controls, RAW file saving, epic lens).

I’m pretty crafty with on-bike pics from the old Ricoh Theta I’ve got, but with newer (and tougher) tech I could push the boundaries there too.

Good example of how capable the iPhone is at photos (and a nice way to get to the beach – on a 90s vintage Africa Twin!). This is cropped in tight from the original and is still high-rez.

from Blogger