Eleven Years, Over a Million Page Views

I started writing this when I got my motorcycle license in my early forties. The first post was in March of 2013 when I decided to get my learner’s permit. From there I’ve tried to (as honestly as I can) describe my motorcycling experience. In that time I’ve gone through a bewildering array of bikes as I’ve figured out how I was going to enjoy this hobby. I noticed that the blog has just passed a million views (and messed up the odometer styled page counter), so thought it time for a review. Where have I wandered in the past 11 years of motorcycling? It all began with my Mum’s passing and an opportunity to ride without panicking those around me.


The First ’07 Ninja 650 seemed like a logical starting bike. From there I got my first fixer-upper in the form of a ’94 Kawasaki C10 Concours. Getting that out of a hedge, sorting it out and putting lots of miles on it felt like a big win, but I was still learning and when the carbs went on me, I lost the plot with it. That’s one of those ‘Costanza moments’ when I wish I could have a do-over – I’ve got the tools and knowhow now to sort them out!

The KLE dual sport was too small for me (couldn’t get me to 100kms/hr which is dangerous on our increasingly crowded and impatient local roads), so it came and went. I also dabbled with an old Yamaha XS1100, but never got it road worthy so it doesn’t make the list. Then there was the PW80 I got for Max which he wanted nothing to with, so it came and went. Neither of them cost me anything (I broke even on both) so, whatever.

With the Concours acting up and a dead Midnight Special in the garage, I was prompted into the ’03 Triumph Tiger, which has been my longest serving machine (currently at 8 years and over 40,000kms travelled). The Tiger filled the gap for a long time and let me drop both the Yamaha and the Kawasaki. While the Tiger performed regular riding duty I came across a Honda Fireblade that had been sidelined for several years, got it for a song, fixed it up, rode it for a season and then sold it on for a small profit, which felt like a win.

During the early days of COVID the Tiger started acting up and I came across a 2010 Kawasaki GTR1400/Concours 14 for sale with low miles that had also been sidelined in a shed. I sorted out this complex bike and once again felt like my mechanicking skills had levelled up. With some extra contract work I’d done and the money from the Fireblade this step up to something more expensive didn’t eat into savings.

The C14 and Tiger are both still currently in the garage. In 2021, as COVID lingered, I came across an opportunity to try a vintage restoration. I had a choice of several bikes and took one that was the furthest gone, which in retrospect was a mistake (don’t get cocky, right?). I cleaned up this ratty old chopped 1971 Bonneville and got to the point where it sat in the corner of the garage because I’m too stingy to throw money at it. Lesson learned: if you want to go vintage, be prepared to pay through the nose for it and wait a lot for parts availability.

I let the Bonneville go this spring for what I paid for it (minus the new parts). It was a loss but it gave me something to do while the world stopped and I learned a lot. It was fun doing an archeological inspection of a machine that was almost as old as I am.


What’s next? I’ve never owned a new bike before. Following my shear perversity in terms of motorcycling, I’m tempted by a Moto Guzzi V85 TT. Partly because of the character, partly because I think they’re stunning and partly because it’s so not everyone else.




If it’s a black Ninja it’s 13 years ago, but 
whatever, Facebook.

I noticed the other day that the blog has passed a million page views. It took since March of 2013 (when I started riding) to pull it off, so that’s just over 11 years, but a million is a bigger number than most people can conceive. Over the 4083 days this blog has been up it has averaged over 250 page views every day, which feels good. It provides information for people looking for details on some of the mechanics I’ve tackled, and it also gets good pickup on travel stories and bike tech. I’m hoping more travel stories are in the future.


Another story that popped up recently was the ride around Vancouver Island ten years ago. That would be the first time I rented a bike while away from home. It led to the Island Escape story in Motorcycle Mojo. What isn’t mentioned there is that prior to my wife’s conference we also rented scooters and went for an adventure to Butchart Gardens in Victoria.

More travel opportunities like that, or Max and I’s ride through the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, or down to the Indianapolis MotoGP race would be fantastic, it’s difficult to find the time though.


The other day I thought I’d get into the throttle controls on the Tiger and clean and lubricate all the bits (if you read this regularly you can guess where this is going). Everything plastic on this 21 year old bike is brittle and yep, the throttle cable adjuster broke. I’ve jury rigged a solution, but like everything else on this bike, finding parts is becoming ‘vintage difficult and expensive’, even though it’s anything but.

My biking decisions might be made for me if we decide to move. If we downsize into a condo or something without a garage I’d be tempted to clear the deck and get something new. At that point having something that someone else has to work on while it’s under warranty would make sense. I don’t know how long I’d be happy with no working space, but perhaps I’d end up getting in with a shop coop and having some space in a shared garage somewhere. My approach to motorcycling is quite isolating. A change in circumstances might be a good thing.
If every time I touch the Tiger to do maintenance (it needs regular TLC) the parts crumble in my hands, I don’t know how much longer I can keep it going. I’d really like to get it to six figures but beyond that I’m not sure – perhaps turn it into modern art?
I’m still also keen to pursue trials riding and perhaps long distance enduro with an eye for finishing rather than beating up machinery to attain top speeds. I’d do track days but I live in Ontario, which doesn’t make access to things like track days easy in a any way. Likewise with the off roading. It’s about, but it’s sporadic and they make it as difficult as possible. Living somewhere else might open up motorcycling opportunities that feel out reach here in the overcrowded and increasingly dark heart of Canada.

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Prioritizing Work and Saving My Patience for What Matters

I was talking to Alan Seeley on email who now writes for Classic Bike (UK) Magazine. I told him about the s*** show that was trying to order used parts from eBay to keep the old Tiger in motion. He put me in touch with Chris Jagger and also put my issue into the letters section of the magazine. Chris’s advice is that there are weak points on these bikes and as they age they get retired because of the lack of support. If you’re going to take on a Hinkley Triumph, even a relatively recent one, don’t expect the kind of support you’d get from other manufacturers.

I’ve sorted out ’90s Fireblades and Honda never blinked when I was looking for parts. Suzuki is legendary with how they look after their engineering history, and Kawasaki has also been nothing but solid when I was working on older machines. I actually found it easier to find parts for a 53 year old Meriden Triumph than I have with much newer Hinkley machines. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, for a company that markets on their history so heavily, Triumph vanishes when it comes to providing parts support, even for recent machines.

I took Chris’s advice and went looking for backup used parts. This time around I found a throttle body that looked like it has spent some time in an archeological dig, and it arrived in a beaten up box but this time the seller padded it well and the plastic bits were intact. I cleaned and dismantled the unit and now have spare throttle bodies, fuel injectors and a complete idle control housing along with all the other odds and ends.

When I put the Tiger back together I tried putting pins in the broken wires on the fuel sender but it didn’t work. I got a replacement fuel sender, but this time from a US eBay parts provider. I foolishly thought the shipping would be less but eBay surprised me with a surcharge on delivery that was 3x the shipping costs. Both the throttle body and the fuel sender came in on the same week. The throttle parts were much bigger and heavier and came from the UK with no surprise surcharge and the shipping cost was 30% lower. The moral here? Don’t buy used parts on eBay if it’s from an American based seller – you’ll get caned by US Post surcharges. No so with UK suppliers.

The good news is the new part works well, but not without other teething problems. That age of this bike is really starting to show. The wires had broken in the sender unit but unbeknownst to me they’d also broken on the other side of the connector, so when I first plugged the new unit in I got nothing. After taking the tape off I discovered the broken wire, cut off the connector, crimped on new plugs and it works a treat.


While I was waiting on parts I pulled the valve cover and checked the valves just to make sure they weren’t what might be causing the stalling and hesitation.


I’d last done this perhaps ten thousand miles and a couple of years ago – everything was still within spec. It’s an afternoon to do it but worth knowing that the valves aren’t the issue. That also gave me a chance to go over the seals on the airbox and pipes, clean and check the spark plugs, put a spacer on the throttle return to stop it stalling and wire in a bypass to the battery so it’s showing 13 volts when running now (the wiring for the battery is byzantine and loses voltage over time). I also rebalanced the throttle bodies while I was in there.


With the new fuel sender in, I’ve had the Tiger out multiple times over the past week. It doesn’t stall! It starts reasonably easily, Shows 12.8-13.2 volts when running (it used to hover around 12), and the throttle action is close to what it was before things went sideways.

How am I able to apply such patience to the Tiger? I sold the Bonneville!  Got what I paid for it and took a hit on some of the new parts I’d purchased, but with it gone I’ve got more room both in the garage and in me head to work on the Tiger.

The old Bonnie was interesting to work on during COVID but I’m still young enough to be motivated by riding rather than spending endless days in retirement hunting for expensive parts and installing them. Having two frustrating Triumphs was one too many, and since the Tiger’s going to start demanding engineering rather than just mechanics if I want to keep it in motion, it was time to let go of my first attempt at (the eye wateringly expensive world of) vintage restoration. I like my projects to be more recent sidelined bikes – the ’97 Fireblade remains a highlight (that I made money on!).

The Bonnie project had stalled out when I realized I was a grand in on new parts and nowhere close to being able to ride the thing. In retrospect I should have picked one of the other running options, but I went for the romantic Triumph option… and regretted it. An alternate reality Tim went for the BSA trials bitza and is deeply involved in vintage trials right now.


Links & Pics

Valve cover off on the Tiger. It’s pretty easy to get into – other than having to wiggle the cover out the right side under the frame – which actually caused problems on the reinstall when the gasket didn’t sit right and the bike barfed expensive synthetic oil all over the garage floor when I restarted it- but I’m not going to mention that in the blog.


With the Bonnie and bits gone, there is much room (both mentally and physically) to get on with keeping the Tiger in motion. The Kawasaki remains rock solid.


Used on Triumph models up until  four years ago – they don’t make these any more.


I’m taking the broken one to bits and measuring all the bits. I currently have two plans: 1) digitally 3d model the part and look into 3d printing options with fuel proof materials. Nylon filament printing seems to be the fuel-proof material of choice. Lots of services out there. 2) is to build my own copper/steampunk version of this plastic bit using copper piping and fittings.


My pins in the connectors attempt with the old fuel sender didn’t cut it.


I thought the C14 might have an oil leak, but it turned out to be the oil in the fairing after the spring oil change. After a thorough cleaning it’s running like a (oil tight) top.


Here are some details on the voltage fixes for 955i Tigers. Running the wire from the reg/rec to the battery was straightforward:


Sasquatch voltage fix:

https://tigertriple.com/forum/index.php?topic=3843.75  is lost to the internet (those Hinkley Triumph support forums are dying out).

https://www.advrider.com/f/threads/sasquatch-link-please.1267616/

https://www.advrider.com/f/threads/tiger-electrical-upgrades.496199/

Reg/Rec update:

https://www.triumphrat.net/threads/charging-system-diagnostics-rectifier-regulator-upgrade.104504/


This is the Fuel Level Sender: Part Number: T2400526 that needed a swap…


Thanks to the massive shipping surprise it would have been cheaper for me to buy this new from a dealer (assuming they haven’t discontinued it). Don’t buy used parts from U.S. based eBay parts providers! It’s not their fault, but eBay makes a mess of US/Canada shipping.


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Going Aftermarket with Kawasaki GTR1400/C14 Tire Pressure Sensors

I soldered a new battery into the rear temperature sensor on the Concours when I changed the back tire last year after picking up a puncture. The front was starting to get sluggish when connecting wirelessly, suggesting the battery was dying there and the front tire was due a change, so I did it in the fall. Unfortunately the sensor didn’t pick up signal again on that bodge. Rather than beat up that old sensor again I went looking for alternative options.

I love a good hack, and Big Red walks you through one here on how to take aftermarket tire pressure sensors, program them to your stock Kawasaki settings and then use them instead of expensive stock items. The coding unit is $230, but works on anything, meaning I’m not beholden to a dealer for tire pressure sensors on the cars either. A pack of 2 sensors is $95, so all together a full sensor replacement on the bike including the tool needed to program them is $325. The stock sensors are $258 each, so an eye watering $516 for the pair. $200 cheaper and I have the tool that’s usable across a wide range of vehicles. That’s my kind of hack!

How did it go? After all the frustrations with the Tiger and Triumph, the C14 reminded me how nice it is to work on a bike that’s supported by its manufacturer and the aftermarket.. When I compare the thriving online communities at COG and other online forums that support Kawasaki ownership, I can only think, ‘way to go team green.’ By comparison I read a post on one of the Triumph forums that said, ‘these forums are dead. Everyone is giving up on these old bikes…” Except the bikes in question are not that old.


When I walked into my local Kawasaki dealer and asked for parts for my mid-nineties C10 there was never an issue. If I hop into an online forum for the Kwak I see an active community full of ideas and support.  Most of the Hinckley Triumph forums for anything over 15 years old are derelict. The posts on them are from at least five years ago giving you some idea of what trying to keep an older Hinckley Triumph on the road is like (ie: impossible). It makes me question owning another one, which is a real shame because I wanted to believe in the brand, but they only market their history, they don’t honour it by supporting owners in keeping old machines in motion.



Back in the land of the living, Big Red’s walkthrough was spot on. I popped one side of the new front tire off the rim and removed the 14 year old sensor. I couldn’t see why it wasn’t getting power – my soldering looked good – maybe a bad battery? No matter, new parts are going in.




If you know that the Mazda 3 2004 sensors are a match for the Concours ones, then the rest is straightforward. I set the MaxiTPMS unit to the Mazda settings and then put in the ID number from the old C14 sensor in and the wireless upload only took a few seconds.



I could also check the sensor once it was programmed, which gave me some piece of mind before putting it back in the tire.

The whole process was straightforward, aided by a warm March day where I could leave the tire in the sun while I set the sensor. Warm tires are much easier to stretch over the rim!





I installed the new sensor which fits snugly in the rim. All the parts including the tool from Autel felt like quality pieces that will last. With the tire reinflated I put the wheel back in and torqued everything to spec while also making sure everything was grease free (especially the brake bits).

I took it up the street with the intention of riding around the block because that’s how long it
usually takes to get the dash reading the wheel pressures, but this new sensor had it showing in seconds – before I even got to the stop sign. I checked it against the digital tire pressure gauge and it’s right on the money.


It felt good to have a win in the garage after banging my head against the Tiger for so long. Speaking of which, I recently attempted to plastic weld the part they won’t supply any more and as I was putting it back together the wiring broke off on the fuel level unit (because I’ve had the tank off so many f***ing times!). As much as it pains me, I think I’m going to take Triumph’s hint and let the Tiger go… which is something I never thought I’d say. So much for my goal of hitting 100k with it.

It is actually nuclear powered – the plutonium goes in under than panel, like on Doc Brown’s DeLorean…

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Fleeing the Nagging Winter

 

Saw a guy on a GS flying down the 401 towards Windsor today, which conjured fantasies of fleeing the nagging winter to warmer climes. I’d eventually come back when winter lets go… maybe.

When it warms up I’d complete the loop:

https://maps.app.goo.gl/cdPdK2kD3rzwjEnN6

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The Struggle is Real: Trying to Keep at Triumph 955i on the Road

The ‘Idle Speed Control Valve Housing’ (Part Number: T1241064) continues to be a pain in my ass. This housing sits behind the throttle body on my 2003 Triumph Tiger 955i and it seems Triumph isn’t supporting them anymore. My local dealer shrugged and said it isn’t available any more, so I went further afield.

Blackfoot Motosports in Calgary’s site seemed to suggest that they could provide this complex plastic piece that doesn’t enjoy Canada’s extreme temperature swings (I’ve gone through 2 of them so far). So I ordered it! Guess what:


That an O-ring should take 3 weeks is one thing, but the housing is obsolete? On a bike that’s only just 20 years old? So, I did a little research. It turns out this product fits 84 vehicle variants across four Triumph Models between 1993 and 2020. A part that was in use on models four years ago is obsolete? That doesn’t sound right.



No matter where I look the story is the same: this key part of the idle control system on thousands of bikes isn’t available?  Being a determined sort, I looked to ebay for options and came across Bike Spares Barn in the UK. They take bikes traded in at dealers that are still running and on the road and dismantle them for parts, which is what I’m reduced to using with my Triumph.

They had a throttle body with the needed idle control housing on it along with an airbox. My airbox isn’t in great shape so I got both parts. They worked out with shipping to be about $300CAD. It took a good 3 weeks for the parts to get here (I ordered right after the holidays so I can’t really fault the timeline). The seller was very communicative with what was going on so, unlike some ordering experiences, I was never left wondering where things were.


The box finally arrived and looked like someone had been playing football with it. Two corners were mashed in and a piece of the airbox was sticking out of the box. I unwrapped it and everything looked OK so I began to clean and dismantle everything. The airbox was a good idea, this one is in much better shape than my 24 Canadian winters one, but the throttle body didn’t fare so well. 

Inevitably, the only broken piece on the damned thing was the fragile idle housing, which was cracked around the base in exactly the same place that the one I’m trying to replace is.



So, I’m back where I started, but with a spare throttle body and two broken idle housings. This damned thing is so complicated that fabricating an alternative isn’t likely. The three pipes on the bottom go out to each throttle body and servo sits inside that is moved up and down electrically adjusting the vacuum so passages open up to each throttle and modulate the idle so the bike doesn’t stall. When this complex and fragile piece doesn’t work as it should the bike hesitates on acceleration and stalls.

Obviously this wasn’t the case because the bike it came from was working fine (they tested it before dismantling it), but it didn’t survive ebay’s international shipping service. I asked Bike Spares Barn what to do and they said to go through ebay’s return/refund process, but ebay is cagey about sharing that anyware. Fortunately Peter at Bike Spares Barn helped me navigate the obfuscation and we’ve now gotten me a refund… but I’m still stuck without this part.

I’ve asked before and I’ll say it again: if you’re not willing or able to support your own machines, Triumph Motorbikes, how about sharing publicly the CAD files on this part so after market and crafty types like myself can fabricate our own? With the right fuel resistant plastic in a 3d printer, I could knock up my own version. But before I did I’d reinforce the model and design something more robust so I’m not left out in the cold again.

The happy face getting the solution to my problem in (the box on the bench)… then, well, you know what happened.


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Accra to Sheringham

 At the end of November I attended the Global Conference for Cyber Resilience in Accra, Ghana. I was on a tight schedule with work expectations so I flew in and out in the same week, but had I the time and resources I would have ridden out. Mapping a route out of the African west coast to Europe is interesting. I got my Ghana visa quickly as part of the conference, but had I ridden out I would have had to do some legwork to get the other countries in order. To ride from Accra to Europe out of Africa would have also needed visas for Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Western Sahara and Morocco.


A problem with the Mercator map projection that we typically see the world map on is that it shows areas around the equator at scale but then distorts regions as they approach the poles, which is why many people think that Canada is about the same size as Africa when in fact three Canada’s would fit comfortably inside it. This was made plain to me as we passed over Dakar in Senegal and then flew on for nearly another three hours to get to Accra (it’s about the same distance as Toronto to Saskatoon).

Mercator projections were designed to provide true course headings for ships, and they do it well, but they were never designed to show the entire world. This is a Robinson Projection which shows the scale of things much more precisely.

Keeping those African sizes in mind and at an optimistic 400kms per day which includes five border crossings known to eat entire days by themselves, the African portion of this trip is just shy of six thousand kilometres, much of it across the Sahara.

5836kms across some interesting terrain…

I thought I was the first in my family to get out Ghana way, but my Grandad was dropped off there by the Royal Navy in 1940 and then proceeded to support his Hurricane squadron as they drove and flew across the Sahara to get into the war in Libya. They landed at Takoradi, so day one would be a sunrise departure into the equatorial heat (that needs to be felt to be believed) and a six hour ride up the coast to stand on the dock he landed on 83 years ago.

Of course that already puts me behind the 400kms/day average I was aiming at, but after experiencing ‘Ghana Time’ first hand, I suspect that trying to keep to a strict schedule is a sure source of madness in this neck of the woods.

It’s fifteen and a half days at 400kms per to get to the crossing at Gibraltar and I wrapped up the conference on November 30th. If I left December 1st, I could apply twenty days to the Africa portion of the trip and give myself some time for surprises. That’s still a tight schedule though when you consider the borders and terrain I’d be crossing.

If I could be on a ferry on the 20th, I’d be in Spain on the 21st and up in Evora in Portugal at that farm house we stayed at last year in time to meet up with the fam for the solstice. We could put our feet up over the holidays, but I’d eventually push on to Sheringham where I’d have a cottage rented for the rest of the winter and spring. A winter two wheeled insertion into England might require some patience as I’d have to wait for a weather window, though hanging out in Portugal for several weeks during the darkest days wouldn’t be a hardship.

What to do it on? Yamaha has a dealer in Accra, and riding across the Ténéré on a Ténéré has a certain appeal. If I rode a Tiger all I’d be thinking about is the Monty Python sketch the whole time. The Ténéré 700 has an explorer edition for 2024 which has a bigger tank and comes with luggage and such. It’s not the ideal machine for long overland treks, but it could certainly handle any surprises well enough.

If I were to give into my Tiger fixation, the new 900 Rally Pro model does the trick and would handle the days of making distance better.

Of course, given a choice I’d rather get my unsupported old Tiger sorted out and then take it!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if I had money I’d be dangerous.

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A Colourful SMART Adventures Late in the Season


I’ve been going to SMART Adventures since 2018. As a way to get myself doing things on a motorcycle that I don’t get to do on the road, it’s a great opportunity to expand your riding skills. Getting experience on a variety of different bikes is never a bad thing either.


I’ve had some great days at SMART. A particular highlight was during the deepest, darkest summer of 2020 when I did a full day that started on a trials bike, moved to a brand new GS1250 and ended on a dirt bike. It was a great day of bike learning across three very distinct machines.

Last summer we managed to squeeze in a half day and it was the first time I’d done the expert riding group, which I second guessed myself on being in. Unfortunately the father who dragged his son into it wasn’t so introspective. I spent a good amount of money hoping for expert riding opportunities but the afternoon consisted of watching this kid fall off a bike too big for him that his dad kept demanding he ride, and then watching him drop the second bike we had to go back to get for him into a two foot deep puddle. We ended up spending most of the afternoon picking this kid up or riding back to the base after he broke a bike. I needed this trip to SMART to be a win after that last disappointment.


We tried to arrange a trip up in August but things got complicated (dog died, kid going to college, in-laws being difficult) and it never came into focus. I thought this would be our first year not going up to Horseshoe Valley, but Max’s reading week was at the end of October and the week before the weather looked like it might hold up, so I signed us up for an afternoon, and this time SMART nailed it, though in fairness it’s not their fault if a toxic dad wants to design a miserable afternoon.


Going this late in the season and during the school year means you’re less likely to trip over father/son drama. Max got Dave who was the instructor who taught him both ATVs and dirtbikes previously, and I got Tyler who I hadn’t had before but is an incredibly talented off road rider who also has a knack for finding where I was at in terms of skill and then keeping us at that edge throughout the afternoon – I learned tons.

Having a look around before the ride out, it’s not easy keeping the jealousy in check when it comes to SMART Adventures owner Clinton’s bike collection.


Why are y’all wearing rain jackets? ‘Cause it was raining… a lot! That’s inches deep mud.


We started with some warm ups in the bowl at the base. I’ve been on a 250 CRF Honda before but this time they had a Kawasaki KLX 300 with bar risers which fit me even better. Tyler had me doing riding with one hand while standing up (in mud), which isn’t as easy as it sounds, then rear wheel lock up braking, then both wheels coming as close to locking up the front as we could manage (in the mud). We also did logs and tires, but once Tyler had an eye in on where I was with clutch control and balance we took off into the woods, which were spectacular!


Riding in a thick ground layer of leaves is tricky. You can’t see rocks or mud underneath, but it teaches you to ride looser and float over the surprises without over correcting for them. We did a lot of kilometers through the rain and brilliant colours and the riding was never dull.

I’m always surprised at how physical proper off-roading is. With mid-teens temperatures and the rain gear on I was dripping wet with sweat. I worked hard at using my legs to grip the bike so my arms weren’t putting pressurized inputs through the handlebars. It’s a combination of balance and lower body strength that demands a lot of energy. One suggestion was to turn my feet fractionally into a corner to weight the pegs in the direction I want to go (a Clinton Smout move) and it works!

We got back for a break but before I parked the Kwak we did K turns. The idea is if you get stuck going up too steep a hill you let the bike stall in gear (or kill the motor in gear) and then roll it backwards leaning into the hill and letting out the clutch bit by bit as you turn the back end until you’re parallel with the hill (still leaning up it). The tricky bit is once you’re near parallel having backed up on the clutch, you start turning the handlebar lock to lock and the bike’s nose will fall under the twisting to face downhill. You then stand it up and roll on down. The final move was to bump start the bike. You do this by leaving it in third gear and dropping the clutch at the bottom of the hill as you sit down on the seat. It sounds like a lot of gymnastics but I got it to work on the second try. Tyler said it can really save your bacon if you get stuck on a big adventure bike on too steep a hill.


Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, Tyler went and got a couple of the new Surron electric dirt bikes out of the lockup. He gave me the bigger Storm model and then told me (jokingly) not to get it wet. We left both bikes in economy mode because of all the wet leaves over mud. Tyler described ‘S’ Mode as ‘scary’, and don’t press turbo! 

383 ft/lbs of torque in mud and wet leaves? What could go wrong?!?


I hadn’t dropped the big Kawasaki all afternoon despite the crazy conditions. I should have four times but saved it each time. Being able to practice saves is one of the best parts of SMART. I genuinely got to do things on a bike I’ve never done before, which is the whole point. Sounds ominous, right?

We got out into the woods again and both Tyler and I were down in the first five minutes, but not because the Surron was a torque monster (it’s actually easy to get the hang off). It’s the lack of clutch after riding one all day that caught me out. I was sliding down the muddy side of a trail covered in leaves and went to pull in the clutch to drop a gear, except the clutch is the rear brake and the Surron doesn’t have gears. The bike was out from under me in an instant. Here’s a pic from right after – check out that mud!


I finally got myself back on the bike after I slipped in the mud again throwing a leg over it and we went down a second time. The bike took a minute to ‘re-arm’ because I’d popped one of the brake sensors out, but Tyler figured it out and we were off again.

We made tracks after we both learned not to use the rear brake like a clutch.


That’s Tyler – ace instructor!

Interesting choice of name, great bike!

No one went down again and by the end of a forty minute blast through the woods and into the trails beyond the SMART owned land, I was getting a feel for the Surron (not Sauron from LotR). Being able to focus on riding without worrying about gears and clutches was one part of it. By the end I was getting crafty with the hand operated brakes. The other piece is the silence. When you goose it the bike roosters dirt like a mad thing, and it’s properly quick. The only noise it makes is once you’re up to speed and it’s a ghostly whine, which suited the October hallowe’en woods. I could hear rain hitting leaves as we whispered through the trees.


Where am I at with an electric dirt bike? If I owned a Surron I’d play with the settings so the energy recovery/gearing pulled a bit more and provided more of what feels like engine braking. That would have prevented the spill on the hill. So much of dirt biking is clutch though. You manipulate the clutch continuously to offer smoother power delivery, especially in tricky conditions. A dirt bike without a clutch and gearing is missing a key control, not to go faster, but to manage the power better. The throttle on the Surron felt a bit wooden after riding the big Kwak all afternoon, but that may well have been because I couldn’t feather the Surron’s power delivery with a clutch..

The upside is the silence when riding, though it isn’t really silent with that ghost whine. It did make me miss the thud of the thumper, and the simplicity of the controls (no clutch, no gears) lets you concentrate on other things, but at the cost of simplifying the riding which I have mixed feelings about.  Aesthetically, a bike having a heartbeat is pleasing, though I could get used to that ghostly howl.

The older much used Kawasaki went through all sorts of gymnastics during the afternoon without missing a beat, while the Surron needed TLC after one drop, which doesn’t bode well for its resilience. I’d describe my first time on an electric dirt bike as interesting, but they’re not ready for prime time yet. If I were to buy a dirt bike tomorrow it would be a fuel injected ICE model that is decades into its evolution rather than an ebike that’s at the beginning.


SMART was running a regional trials event that weekend and I asked Tyler about electric trials bikes, but he said most riders are still using ICE models – once again because the clutch offers much more nuanced control. I suspect electric bikes will end up adopting something like a clutch to allow for that finer control, though they don’t need gears so perhaps the clutch is simply another electronic intervention. It’s just a matter of time for this to all get worked out, but they’re not quite there yet.

As we pulled in to SMART a red fox fan across the parking lot, and I saw wild turkeys and what might have been a coyote in the woods. We clambered out of our muddy gear past 4pm and got changed before heading up the road to Vetta Nordic Spa where we put our aching muscles into various hot waters as we watched the moon rise through the skeletal trees. Yes, the rain stopped and clouds blew over pretty much the minute we stopped riding, but the weather is part of what made it such a good afternoon of riding! As a way to wrap up the riding season (it was snowing the following weekend), there are few better.


You should go!


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Finding Your Way Around OEM’s Giving Up on Parts Support: Triumph 955i Fuel Injection Seals

With Triumph giving up on my Tiger before I’m prepared to, I’m going to document the research and give details on what works when you’re trying to keep a Triumph 955i’s fuel system working by replacing old o-rings.


This has involved a crash course in o-rings and engine operating temperatures. As I work out a fix here I’ll post details on o-ring sizing, what type works and include data on measuring the intake manifold at temperature.

It’s been all Concours for the past few weeks while the Tiger is laid up. I’m hoping to get the fuel system sorted before the snows fly and I have to wait for next year.


Here are the measurements for the upper and lower fuel injector seals. The classy move by
Triumph would be to open source publish the technical details for all the parts they no longer support so that the rest of us can get on with keeping the history of the marquee alive. With that in mind, here are the deets for the upper and lower fuel injector o-rings:


The thick ones go on top where the fuel injector meets the rail. My best guess is 3mm thick by 1.5cm outer circumference.



The skinny ones go on the bottom where the fuel injector slides into the intake manifold.


My best guess there is 2mm wide by 1.4mm outer circumference. 







Unfortunately, buying off the shelf boxes of o-rings isn’t likely to get you anything that fits. The two below from Amazon didn’t. This thing looks handy: https://www.allorings.com/O-Ring-AS568-Standard-Size-Chart.

The Tiger is a metric bike, so I’ll work in mm (if Triumph went imperial on o-ring, what the actual f***). The thicker o-ring is 1.5cm or 15mm outside diameter (OD) and (I think) about 3.5mm cross section (CS). Looking at that chart, the #203 is a 14.58mm outer diameter with a 3.53mm cross section. That makes it mighty close. What would be nicer would be if Triumph just came out and gave us the precise sizes for these parts it has discontinued. Triumph?


The thinner one is also a 1.5 (ish) mm outer diameter (15mm-ish), but the cross section is thinner – perhaps two and a bit mm, and they have a 2.62mm cross section standard o-ring size. You’d have to hope Triumph didn’t make bespoke o-rings for their fuel injectors, right? For the skinny o-ring I think I’d take a swing at the 2.62mm cross section / 14.43mm (1.443cm) size.

The All O-Rings site also has a good description of the materials you want to get your o-rings in. Nitrile and Viton are what I went with in the pointless Amazon order, but those are the materials you want in a fuel heavy application like this.


That’s the configurator (right) – pretty straightforward, but it sounds like they manufacture each order, which probably won’t make this a viable solution for someone just trying to keep their old Triumph on the road.

If only there was some kind of network of retailers who supported Triumph motorcycles who could order this parts to help their customers keep their older Triumphs rolling… some kind of ‘dealer’ network who understand how parts work and how to order this sort of thing in large enough quantities to make a profit while offering customers what they need.

RESOURCES

How hot motorcycle engines runs: https://blog.amsoil.com/extreme-heat-is-hard-on-your-motorcycle/

Buna (Nitrile or NBR) o-rings: https://sealingdevices.com/o-rings/buna-n-o-rings/

Viton vs. Nitrile o-rings: https://www.nes-ips.com/viton-vs-nitrile-o-rings/

All O-Rings https://www.allorings.com/

They have sizing tools! https://www.allorings.com/o-ring-kits-and-accessories/o-ring-sizing-tools

I’d prefer to use All O-Rings for the parts, but they might be a B2B type of thing, and I’m not a B.

Amazon’s kits:


Turns out Amazon’s shot-in-the-dark kits didn’t work either. There’s more to this o-ring sizing caper to come. I wish I could just 3d print the nitrile o-rings I was looking for (doesn’t look like it’s additive manufacturing friendly).

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Discontinued Tigers and Triumph Supporting its Riders

If you follow the blog you’ll know I’m on a mission to get my 2003 Triumph Tiger 955i to roll over into six figures on the odometer. I picked up the bike with under forty-K on it and have done the majority of the now high miles on it. Over that time I’ve had an ongoing battle with the early fuel injection on the bike, but other than that it has been my preferred ride even as a series of other bikes passed through the garage.

Once again the fueling has gone off on the bike just as I was hoping to push it over the 100k mark in its 20th year on the road. If I lived somewhere that wasn’t trying to kill me for four months of each year this would be an easier goal, but trying to do it in Canada where the bike has to sit through minus forty winters and then navigate the frost heaved results in our too-short riding season? It’s technical a flex I’m up for, but it’s a shame that Triumph isn’t.

I tried the usual solution of rebalancing the fuel injectors, but the bike is still stalling out and running rough. I checked the valves less than 15k ago so that isn’t likely it. If it isn’t throttle body balancing, which the bike is prone to needing, perhaps it’s time to, at over 90k, to finally replace the o-rings and gaskets in the fuel injection system, but Triumph tells me that the majority of these parts are discontinued.

One of the reasons I enjoy the old Tiger is that it still catches eyes and prompts conversation when I’m out and about. Another reason I like it is that it can pretty much do anything (I’ve trail ridden on it and done multi-thousand mile two-up road trips too). It fits me better than anything I’ve ridden, is fun to chuck around in corners and has handled axle deep mud when I needed it to. The engine is full of character and pulls well even two up and, considering the miles it has done, the amount of TLC needed isn’t unreasonable. I’d love to keep this bike going indefinitely, it’s a shame that Triumph don’t feel that way.
I had a chat with the dealer (who isn’t particularly local, it’s a 170 mile round trip to go there physically – I usually get parts delivered), and they said that this is a problem with Triumph – they don’t support their older machines. He then went on to say I couldn’t use generic o-rings because the Triumph parts are strangely size specific. I’m going to try anyway because I really want to be able to jump on my old Tiger and ride. I wish Triumph felt the same way.
Suzuki runs a successful vintage parts program, I’m not sure why Triumph wouldn’t want to keep their bikes on the road, especially when they lean on brand heritage marketing so much.

Here’s Nick Bloor’s take on it:

Never standing still, always pushing to get the best from ourselves, for our riders. Building iconic motorcycles that celebrate our past while embracing the future through bold design, original styling, purposeful engineering and a genuine passion for the ride.
Always focused on delivering complete riding experience, creating bikes with the perfect balance of power, handling and style that totally involve the rider and bring out the best in them. 
This is our passion and our obsession. 
We are chasing the same thing as our riders THE PERFECT RIDE.
Nick Bloor
CEO Triumph Motorcycles

All good stuff, but maybe focus a bit more on celebrating Triumph’s past, Nick? That includes the bikes your reborn Triumph have been making since the nineties.

When you market on brand history and provenance, shouldn’t you support brand history and provenance? I’m coming at this hard because I want to believe… and keep my old Triumph rolling.

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Fall Moto Photos

 Alas, the Tiger’s fuel system is acting up (again), so it’s all Concours14 this fall, but the big bike is doing the job. It handles two up without breaking a sweat and when I want to ride it like a sports bike, it never misses a beat. It’s heavy, but once it’s in motion it seems to loose one hundred pounds. It’s no Fireblade, but it’s surprisingly willing in the (few) twisties we have around here.

This time of year the fall colours mean you can enjoy a ride even on our tediously straight roads…

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