Evolution of Motorcycle Ownership and a Triumphant Return

Back in August of 2014 I wanted to take a more active role in my motorcycle maintenance.  At that point I’d been riding for just over a year on my first bike, a very dependable 2007 Kawasaki Ninja 650r.  I learned a lot on that bike, but it was a turn-key experience, the bike needed very little in the way of maintenance.   

The Ninja went from flat black to metallic blue and orange.  It was the last bike I rode that people commented on (I’d often get a thumbs up or have someone stop and chat in a parking lot about how nice the bike looked, which was satisfying as I’d been instrumental in restoring it from angry-young-man flat black).  The Ninja was, without a doubt, a good introduction to motorcycling, and was the king of the roost for my first two seasons.

As a first bike, the Ninja led the way both on the road and at the top of the blog.


I wanted my next bike to be one that ran because of my mechanical skills rather than one that didn’t need them.  I found a 1994 Kawasaki Concours sitting in some long grass about twenty minutes away.  I quickly discovered that sense of satisfaction I was looking for.  The Concours was an eager patient who rewarded a winter of mechanical work with a rock solid five thousand miles of riding the next summer.

The Concours has offered some memorable rides, especially looping Georgian Bay and riding on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  For a bike that looked like it was being permanently parked with only 25k on it, suddenly it was back in the game, going places other bikes only dream of.

That busy season of long rides took its toll on the Concours though.  It isn’t a spring chicken and after having spent the better part of two years parked before I got to it many of the soft parts on the bike were getting brittle.  I parked the Concours early and began winter maintenance knowing that the bearings and brakes both needed attention only to miss out on a late season warm spell at the end of November and into December.  I took that one on the nose figuring that’s what happens when you ride an old bike as your daily rider.

The header on this blog for the past eighteen months, but running a twenty-two year old bike as your daily rider
makes for frustrations.  Time to be less sentimental and more rational in how I manage my stable.

That summer we were touring on the Concours I picked up a KLX250 to experience off road riding, but doubling insurance costs for a bike that I only managed to get out on a handful of times didn’t feel very efficient.  That I struggled to keep up with traffic on it didn’t support the way I like to ride.  Motorcycles are open and unprotected, but they are also agile and powerful enough to get out of a tight squeeze – except when they aren’t.  The Concours was always there and the preferred ride, owning the road when I was on it.  When I went out with my co-rider he also loved the big red Connie, not so much the rock hard, under-powered KLX (he only ever rode on it once for less than five minutes).

Over the winter I put some money into the Concours, doing up the rims and getting new tires.  With the rims off I also did the bearings and brakes.  As everything came back together again, suddenly the carburetors weren’t cooperating.  They’re since being rebuilt and the bike should be back together again this weekend, but instead of always being there, suddenly the Concours wasn’t.  As winter receded I could hear other bikes growling down the road, but I was grounded (again), even though I was paying insurance on two machines and longing to get back out on the road after an always too long Canadian winter.

The KLX was the first to go.  I’d never really bonded with it and, even though I always figured I’d run this blog with my most recent bike in the graphic at the top, the KLX never made it there; it never felt like the main focus of my motorcycling.  In the same week my son’s never-ridden PW-80 got sold, and suddenly I had some money aside.

Ready to go with a new header, but it never took.


As days of potential riding keep ticking by and the carburetor work drags on, the Concours started to feel like an expensive anchor rather than the wings of freedom.  I had a long talk with my wife about it.  She asked why I don’t unload it and get something dependable.  Keep the old XS1100 for that sense of mechanical satisfaction, but have a bike that’s ready to ride.  I think sentiment was paralyzing me.  Hearing a rational point of view with some perspective really helped.

Many moons ago,
a pre-digital Triumph


With cash in an envelope I began looking around.  Before Easter we weathered an ice storm, but only two days later it was suddenly in the teens Celsius and bikes could be heard thundering down the road.  Meanwhile I was waiting for yet more parts for the Concours.  Online I was looking at sensible all purpose bikes that would fit a big guy.  Vstroms and Versys (Versi?) came and went, but they felt like a generic (they are quite common) compromise, I wasn’t excited about buying one.

Since I started riding I’ve been on Triumph Canada’s email list even though I’ve never come close to owning one (out of my league price-wise, no one else I know had one, no local dealer… pick your reason).  As a misguided teenager I purchased an utterly useless Triumph Spitfire, and in spite of that misery I’ve always had a soft spot for the brand (your adolescent brain makes your teenage experiences sparkle with emotion even when you’re older, that’s why we all still listen to the music from our teens).

A Tiger?  On Kijiji?  Must have
escaped from a zoo!

While trawling around on Kijiji looking at hordes of generic, look-a-like adventure bikes I came across an actual Tiger.  It was (as are all Triumphs I’ve mooned over) too expensive for me, but that Lucifer Orange (!) paint haunted me.

Another rare warm afternoon wafted by with the sounds of motorcycles on the road so I thought, what the hell, and emailed the owner.  He’d been sitting on the bike for the better part of two months with no calls.  He was going down to the Triumph dealer on Thursday to trade it in on a new Street Triple and knew he was going to get caned by them on the trade in price.  He emailed me back and said if I had three quarters of what he’d been asking, he’d rather sell it to me than give the dealer the satisfaction.  Suddenly this fantastic looking machine was plausible.

The garage is 100% more functional than it was last week,
100% more glamorous too!

A trip up to Ontario’s West Coast and I got to meet a nice young man who was a recent UK immigrant and a nuclear operator at the Bruce Plant.  The bike was as advertised (well looked after, second owner, some minor cosmetic imperfections), and suddenly I owned a freaking 2003 Triumph Tiger 955i!

Most used bikes offer up some surprises when you first get them, and they usually aren’t nice surprises.  The Ninja arrived with wonky handlebars the previous owner told me nothing about.  The XS1100 arrived with no valid ownership, something the previous owner failed to mention during the sale.  So far the Tiger has had nice surprises.  It arrived with a Triumph branded tank bag specific to the bike.  Oh, by the way, the previous owner said, the first owner put a Powercommander on it, and then he handed me the USB cable and software for it.  It had also been safetied in October, less than two hundred kilometres ago (paperwork included), so while I didn’t buy it safetied, it shouldn’t be difficult to do.  The bike has fifty thousand kilometres on it, but I then discovered that the first owner did two extended trips to Calgary and back (10k+ kms each time) – so even though it’s got some miles on it, many of them are from long trips that produce minimal engine wear.  After giving it a clean the bike has no wonky bits under the seats or anywhere else.  I cannot wait to get riding it.


So, here I am at the beginning of a new era with my first European bike.  I’ve finally picked up a Triumph from the other side of the family tree (the bike and automobile manufacturing components of Triumph split in 1936), and I’ve got a bike I’m emotionally engaged with.  It might even be love!  Like the BMW I rented in Victoria, the controls seem to fit my hands and feet without feeling cramped and the riding position is wonderfully neutral.  When I’m in the saddle my feet are flat on the ground – just. Best of all, I don’t look like a circus bear on a tricycle on it.


With the Concours officially decommissioned and awaiting (what are hopefully) the last parts it needs before being road worthy again, it’s time to update the blog header:


What’s next?  The Concours will be sold with only a modicum of sentiment, the Tiger will be safetied and on the road (it cost $90 a year more than the Concours to insure), and I’ll enjoy having an operational, trustworthy machine made in the same place I was with lots of life left in it.  The fact that it was getting me thumbs up and one guy stopping to say what a nice bike it was when it was on the trailer on the way home doesn’t hurt either.  Riding a tiger has a certain magic to it.

When I want to turn a wrench I’ll work on the XS, getting it rolling again for the first time in years.  I’ll get the ownership sorted on it (affidavits are required!) and eventually sell it without losing a penny, and then I’ll go looking for my next project bike.  Maybe a scrambler Versys, maybe an old Interceptor, maybe something I haven’t thought of yet.

Time for some unbridled Tiger enthusiasm!

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies. 
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain, 
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp, 
Dare its deadly terrors clasp! 

When the stars threw down their spears 
And water’d heaven with their tears: 
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright, 
In the forests of the night: 
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?



Parts on Order Makes me Stop & Consider

Over the Easter long weekend I’ve rebuilt four carbs and put them back together again.  Unfortunately they won’t go back on nicely thanks to two decade old rubber boots, so they’re on order.  It’s nice to have a forced day off.

If you’re ever rebuilding carbs on a ZG1000, and the airbox on it is more than ten years old, it’s a good idea to get some airbox ducts (that connect the airbox to the carbs).  Supple, soft rubber is important when connecting these up.  I tried for a frustrating couple of hours to get them to join properly.  This is especially difficult when the inner boots are rock hard, even when warmed up.  Steve suggests new carb boots to cut down on swearing, he ain’t kidding:


Sixty bucks and should be here by
Wednesday.

I contacted my local dealer and they can have boots here by Wednesday.  They’re charging less than they are going for on ebay or online retailers.  Score one for my local.  Sixty bucks means less swearing and an easy install.  Wayne, the Yoda-like parts guy at Two Wheel, says you’re lucky to get two decades out of a set as they harden over time and eventually split.

With the weather going sideways again, there won’t be much of a chance to ride any time soon.  Hopefully this means I can get this odyssey finished and the bike back on the road by the time the weather clears again.

The airbox ducts/boots that need replacing – the old ones are not only beaten up, but they’ve gone hard.
Even putting heat on them doesn’t soften them up.  Note the flat spots up by the airbox that show you which
way to turn the boots.
Heating up the airbox boots – but they’re too old!
A big empty where the airbox and carbs usually go





This ordeal has me rethinking things.  My wife suggested I unload everything except the old XS1100 and buy a regular motorbike that is more dependable.  When I started riding I got a dependable bike that just needed some cosmetic work.  It was so dependable it was tedious.  Since then I’ve gone back in time and enjoyed the world of carburetion and two decade old rubber, perhaps a bit more than I wanted to.

I genuinely enjoy mechanics, but never when there is a time demand on it.  I’ve already missed three riding opportunities because of the stuttering Concours, and this irks me.  The idea of wiping the slate clean and moving forward appeals.  I started riding late and moving through a number of bikes seems like a way to catch up on my lack of experience.  Maybe it is time to put sentiment down and move on.  I didn’t start riding to watch the few lovely days we have in a too-short riding season pass me by.

A Tiger?  In my garage?


The little Yamaha and the KLX are gone now, netting me about $3000.  As it happens, a 2003 Triumph Tiger is available just over an hour away for about that much.  Come the end of the week I might be able to say, “a tiger?  In my garage?  Must have escaped from a zoo!”



Texas Meandering & a Better Idea

While the ice-storm of certain doom forms outside, I’m watching Qatar qualifying and daydreaming about making a MotoGP race this year.  The only one on my continent runs in a few weeks in Texas.  This has me reviewing my Texas Ironbutt dreams.

I’d originally gone for an Ironbutt on the way down and a shorter finish up the next day.  If I could push the limits I could condensify it even further (making it more excitingly possible!).



It’s just short of a twenty-four hour ride to Texas from here.  An early wake-up Friday and I could do the Ironbutt to late Friday night (60mph avg for 17 hours 4am-9pm would do it).  The last five hundred miles after an early wake up should get me to Austin on Saturday by about 2pm… just in time for qualifying.  A good sleep Saturday night and then I’m at the race Sunday.  It wraps up about 4pm.  A good push to 10pm should put me a third of the way back, I could finish up the rest on Monday.  In theory, only two days off work!






I could fly down and back if I was loaded, but a quick look around found a flight out of Detroit (4 hour drive away) leaving Friday at 10:30am and getting in to Austin just before 3pm.  Flying out of the local airport meant layovers and a long time waiting.

I found a KTM 390 Duke to rent for the four days from Lone Star Moto Rentals.  I think i could fit riding gear in carry on luggage, so there’d be no waiting for luggage and I could be in and out of the airports quickly enough.  With the bike rental, hotels and flights I’d be looking at about $3000.

By comparison the ride down would be $1000 in hotels, $200 in gas and I wouldn’t be herded onto a plane at any point.  Call me perverse but were I to go, I’d ride down.







Having said all that, I’d rather spend a thousand bucks on Racer5’s introductory track riding program. I could buy some quality race kit that’d do for years and still come in at less than this abbreviated weekend. It’d be nice to see the MotoGP boys doing their thing again, but short of an unlimited budget it doesn’t make much sense.

The DIY Computer Lab

Teaching computer technology has me expanding and
enhancing our program to make it as current and
relevant as possible – the DIY lab is a key to that.

My ECOO16 presentation suggestion:

We’re used to being handed locked down, turn key computer labs by our school boards, but this approach doesn’t teach technological understanding.  The future of technology is diverse and individualized and we should be striving to encourage a deeper understanding so that students can find the devices and software that suit their needs.  Many boards have suggested BYOD as a solution, but this amplifies socio-economic differences that public schools should be trying to mitigate.  There is another way.

I’m a teacher who gave back the lab that was given to me.  Over the past two years I’ve developed a digital learning space that is made by students at the beginning of each semester.  Students build PCs, upgrade parts and install and maintain software.  In doing so they learn how to build current and relevant technology to suit their own needs.

In this presentation I’ll explain the process, costs (and free things!) as well as how the lab works on a day to day basis.  DIY computer access offers students a chance to become authors of their technology use instead of being mere users.

Interested?  I’ll be presenting on this at ECOO in November.  This whole post is pasted out of my application to present.

Learning Goals
– how to make DIY technology work in the classroom
– using current (like, made THIS YEAR!) software in a classroom
– learning technology by building it rather than just using it
– developing technological fluency in students and staff
– exploring educational freeware
– exploring beta software available for free use
– how to source hardware (suggestions based on experience)
– changing students & staff from users to authors of technology

Windows 10, the latest in graphics and processor technology and twice the memory of your typical school PC.  What do we do with all that horsepower?  We run Unity (professional license given freely by Unity for our educational needs), and build 3d models in Blender.  None of this would be possible on existing school board basic Dell PCs.
With flexibility in how we build a lab, we can pursue advanced technology, giving our
students authorship over their technological fluency.
Agility is key if you want to keep up with technology – you’ll never develop it if you’re kept as a pet user.

 

A Blender model made by one of our grade 12s last year – this kind of experience allowed her to build the kind of portfolio that got her into the heavily contested Sheridan College video game design program

 

Bye Bye KLX


Selling a bike is always difficult.  In the case of the KLX it happened very quickly.  It didn’t cost me anything to own it (what I got for it covers what I paid for it including the safety).

Unlike the Ninja before it, the KLX didn’t get much seat time with me so I don’t have a strong emotional bond with it.  I also didn’t modify it at all, though I was tempted to.

In a funk the other week because I couldn’t go for a ride on one of the first ride-able days of the year, my wife suggested I get rid of some bikes and get something dependable.  If I have to pivot around a bike, it would be the Concours (I’m emotionally invested).  It’s a bit much to ask a 22 year old bike to be a daily rider, but that’s what I was doing.  The goal now is to have two bikes:  the Concours and something newer and more dependable that can do commuting duties when needed but also offers me a different kind of ride than the big two-up friendly Concours.


I’m still fixated on a Versys.  There are a number ranging from just over $3000 for ’07s to up in the 5ks for a 3-4 year old model.  If it is the all purpose/dependable machine I’m looking for, then a KLE will soon replace the KLX.  Having said that, this is an opportunity to consider a wide range of general purpose machinery, and I should take it.

Now to get the XS1100 running so I can sell it and look to create a more ride-able stable of bikes.  Looking at the brakes yesterday, I suspect the XS is need of some pretty serious fettling before it’ll roll anywhere.

The calipers are unseized and rebuilt.  Now I’m looking for the source of the leak in the master cylinder.  With the front brakes sorted I’m going to try and fire up this dinosaur.  A running bike sells for way more than a door stop, and I want to hear it running before I let it go.

If next fall I’m putting the Concours and a more modern dependable bike to sleep and wheeling a winter project bike into the garage, I’ll be in my happy place.  A winter project like this!




The Professional

When an under funded amateur produces better results than professionals,
it calls into question the idea of where we find excellence.

I recently watched an interesting film on the Dakar Rally. In this film a skilled amateur takes on the most challenging endurance race in the world. Most competitors in this race are corporately funded professionals with teams of mechanics and loads of extra equipment, all designed to mitigate failure and ensure the success of the brand they represent. By contrast this guy struggled to find enough money to go, found a second hand motorcycle and proceeded to complete a race that many of those funded, enabled professionals did not. It got me thinking about where we find human excellence. I suspect it isn’t behind a professional pay-cheque.

 

The Blanchard quote in the picture above notes the difference between curiosity driven experience and results driven experience.  Curiosity might get you started, but at some point you’re probably going to want to judge your skills by harsher criteria than merely whether or not you feel like doing it.  Competition does this, but it does it in a very binary fashion producing as many winners as it does losers, especially in sports.

The professional athletes who perform in that binary competitive environment are often trotted out as examples of excellence.  When someone has a certain inclination everyone else gets quite excited by their talent, more so if it appears easy for them.  When a particularly coordinated young person shows an affinity for a sport they tend to get an awful lot of support even though the vast majority of them will never earn a penny playing it.


The few who break into the moneyed world of professional athletics tend to be so specialized, supported and hyped that their being there is more a matter of investment than it is of skill.  Moneyball does a good job of revealing this hype.  A draft pick with buzz can leverage ridiculous sums of money even though their fundamental skills (as show in statistics) are suspect.  Like most human activities, it’s what others think about you rather than what you are that matters.

I often wonder where professional athletes fell in society at any other time in history.  Within the confines of a carefully constructed game that they are ridiculously compensated for they are highly motivated and virtually infallible, but in more open ended, rigorous situations without the support and confined success criteria where would they be?

Games themselves are crafted to reduce chance and focus on very specific skills.  The less chance the better, really. Professional athletes are the people with natural reflexes and strength who are best able to thrive in that very restricted and focused environment.  We admire their commitment, but it’s a very blinkered existence that they live.

You hang on, no matter what, even when you shouldn’t

Watching something like the Dakar Rally puts the limited nature of most professional sports into context.  It is typical for more than half the competitors not to finish the race at all.  An average of two people die in the event each time it is run.  Attempting to do this race, even with full sponsorship, the latest equipment and years of training, is dangerous.  Trying to complete the race on a shoestring budget, alone, with second hand parts seems mad, but Dream Racer points to an aspect of human excellence we really don’t see in professional athletes.

At the end of the film the rider is in tears.  He is exhausted, battered and elated.  He has finished this gruelling race, but he has done something that dozens of fully supported professionals could not.  I find something like this a much better example of human potential than a win by a group of wickedly overpaid specialists versus another group of wickedly overpaid, myopic specialists.

Our societal love of professional athletes has wormed its way into the classroom as well.  We limit learning to clearly defined criteria and limit chance whenever possible.  We praise those students who find school easy whether it be through socio-economic advantage, family circumstance or natural ability.  With BYOD we encourage sponsorship of advantaged students and then praise their superiority over others (attend any graduation ceremony and enjoy the litany of awards all going to the same students).  We don’t value effort or imagination over defined results and we glorify instruction that emphasizes clarity and limited outcomes over non-linear, discovery based, often unexpected learning.  Bafflingly, we don’t rate learning itself, we rate static achievement.  The student who learns more and improves the most is inferior to the student who already knew the material and put in half an effort but scored higher on tests.

The professional student, like the professional athlete, is a myopic specialist who excels at a very limited set of skills.  Beyond the walls of a classroom those good-student habits won’t get them far in a world that demands resiliency, creativity and agility.  The most successful student is what we are trying to produce, and that student, like a professional athlete, trains exclusively in a specific set of skills in order to hit restricted, carefully defined outcomes.

Maybe that’s why watching something like Dream Racer resonated with me.  It was a man battling real-world limitations to enter a challenging competition that offers failure as the likely outcome.  When he achieves success in spite of everything against him, I got teary too.  Too bad we can’t offer failure as a likely option any more in the classroom.  It would make success that much sweeter and produce students who are genuinely proud of their accomplishments.

Concours Carburetors: Prepping for rebuild

There are three rails holding the four carbs together on a Kawasaki ZG1000 Concours.  Two of them are structural and the other one holds the choke mechanism in place.  Taking them off a twenty two year old carburetor can be trying.  I ended up having to cut a line in one of the retaining bolts and put some heat on it to get it to let go, but all three pieces are out now.

With the four carbs separated I’m now waiting on the rebuild kits.  When they arrive I’ll rebuild each carb one at a time (so I don’t mix up parts).  All four carbs are cleaned up (a touch of carb cleaner and a toothbrush got 22 years of grime off) and awaiting some new gaskets, float adjusting and rebuilding.  While in there I’ll make sure the needles are in good shape and everything has the right geometry.

The first one will be exploratory and slow, by the fourth one I’ll be able to rebuild these things in my sleep!

The four carbs separated and cleaned.   Taking a twenty two year old carb apart takes some patience, and some heat.



Cleaned up and ready for a rebuild.
No lost parts this time – everything labelled and organized.
The choke rod (up and down to the right) partially removed – each carb
links to this plate which moves them all when the choke is pulled.




It only takes a bit of carb cleaner and a tooth brush to get the crud off. I blew it dry with the air line afterwards.
Caustic carb cleaner (it melted two pairs of latex gloves – for goodness sake, wear gloves!) isn’t recommended on the insides
– I’ll use a bit of gas and a clean toothbrush to make sure the innards are perfect when I get in there.


Some Kawasaki Concours ZG1000 carburetor links:

snapguide.com/guides/rebuild-kawasaki-concourse-carbs/
sites.google.com/site/shoodabenengineering/intake-and-exhaust
www.murphskits.com/product_info.php?products_id=130
www.randols.net/Connie/#_Toc276312906

Pulling the Carbs

The Concours’ carburetor has become cursed by demons.  These carbs tend to not come back from sitting very well, though last year they didn’t have this problem.  When I put them away they were running well, but no longer.

Yesterday I pulled the tank again and went over the vacuum tubes in detail – no breaks, no problems.  After putting it all back together again I took it out and had the same hesitation on throttle and back firing.  The bike feels seriously down on power too.


I was hoping to send the carbs down to Shoodaben Engineering in Florida for a spa session with Steve.  His prices are more than fair, but after having an economist (whatever the hell that is) as a Prime Minister for eight years, Canada’s dollar is in the toilet and my $500US carb repair would cost north of $800 with shipping, customs and the exchange rate.  I paid $800Cdn for the bike in the first place.

So I’m rebuilding carbs!

In spite the many terrifying stories of carb removal on a Concours, I found the process pretty straight forward (thanks to Steve’s video).  Warm up the rubber on the airbox to carb, they get nice and soft, and you wiggle the whole thing free.  With the carb on the bench, parts are ordered ($200Cdn for 4 kits – 1 for each carb) and I’m beginning to break it down to rebuild each.







There is always one more thing…

The open road awaits, and it’s still waiting…

Recent frustrations with the twenty two year old Concours had me saying yesterday, “I like doing mechanical work, but sometimes I just want to go ride a fucking motorcycle.”  It was a day in the mid teens Celsius (almost 60 Fahrenheit), and the sound of motorcycle engines could be heard on distant roads.  After spending the winter redoing the brakes, wheels and bearings, I got the Concours back on its feet only to find the carburetor has gone off.  The bike is running lean, not fueling nicely and back-fires when coming off throttle.  Instead of going out for a ride on one of the first nice days of the year, I was popping and swearing my way up and down the road by my house trying to get the carb to play nice.

Some vacuum diagrams on there, but not where they go.  Another
suggestion for lean burning/back firing conditions (which I have) are
the air cut valve (highlighted).

Some research into Concours carbs produced a baffling array of opinion and vitriol.  It appears that no one who works at a dealership has the experience or time to do carbs properly any more, and the carbs on the Concours are fantastically complicated.

I’ve done carbs before on cars, and labyrinthine vacuum tubes aren’t a problem when you have a diagram to follow, but Clymers doesn’t include one in their manual (unless it’s for California bikes), and the Kawasaki diagrams show bits of vacuum diagram spread across the valve head blowup, the carb blow up, the fuel tank blowup, air box blow up and others.  Needless to say, trying to chase vacuum connections across half a dozen diagrams isn’t easy.

Today I’m taking the fairing I just put on back off, removing the gas tank (again) and trying to make sense of the vacuum tubes.  If nothing obvious presents itself it’ll be time to remove the carbs and go deeper.  I just did something similar on the XS1100 in the fall.  I haven’t had time to work on it since because I’m spending all my garage time on the Concours.

I’m starting to think one project bike is enough.  The other one needs to be modern, dependable and there when I need it so I can, sometimes, you know, just go ride a damned bike.

Sources for Concours carburetor and vacuum information:

As usual, CoG is the place to go first:
forum.cog-online.org/index.php?topic=27077.0
forum.cog-online.org/index.php?topic=38095.0
forum.cog-online.org/index.php/topic,11914.0.html

CoG wisdom on Concours carbs:
Normally it is caused by dirty carbs and and not being sync’d properly. The dirty part can be from just a few days of sitting due to the ethanol evaporating….


it’s very likely during the “cleaning” they did not dissassemble the air-cut valves from the 2 carb bodies prior to spraying with volatile carb cleaner. internal to each of those housings is a very delicate diphragm, not unlike the ones that lift the slides….during this process they damaged them, and at the least, never cleaned the rod attached to those diphragms that during decell, when the diphragm moves, opens a port to add fuel to the intake tract to preclude/prevent a “lean burn popping” upon decell. That is the sole purpose of those 2 valves, when they don’t function, you get this result.

Check the vacumn stuff like you already mentioned. I had a back fire for a while, peeked under the tank, found the rubber cap on the #3 carb was split. Just for the fun of it, replaced all the hoses while there, good to go now.

You Cannot do away with the reed valves entirely unless you tap the ports in the actual valve cover and thread in some set screws. The easier way here is to leave the reed valves and metal covers on the valve cover, and remove all the vacuum hosing associated with the pair valve. Go to your local auto parts store, and pick up three 5/8″ “heater core block off caps”. They look like big vacuum caps, and also some 3/16″ regular vacuum caps. Using the 5/8″ Cap off the 2 ports left on the valve cover, and insert one backwards into the airbox hole. Use the 3/16″ to block the intake ports.

Carbon KLX

Never a fan of the sticker covered MX look, I don’t care for
big, white, fridge-like panels designed to take numbers.

I can’t seem to own a bike without re-imagining it.  The Ninja went from flat black to blue and orange.  The Concours is continuing a transformation into gold and crimson.  Now it’s the KLX’s turn.

The white plastics on the KLX look cheap, appliance-like and nasty.  To rectify that I started looking for carbon pieces but they tend to be focused on sports bikes and I couldn’t find any KLX sets.  

I then looked for replacement plastics I could experiment with, but they aren’t cheap.  My next stop was sticker sets, which tend to be even more juvenile than the original graphics set-up (though the black metal one looked alright).  Why is everyone fixated on death imagery (skulls, bones, flaming effigies, etc.) on motorcycles?

A short term fix is to just focus on the offending pieces
(the headlight surround, fork protectors and rear side panels).

Amazing how five panels makes the bike look so different.

Longer term I’d like to learn how to form carbon fibre panels, but short term I’ve found a number of cheaper fixes to my aesthetics problem.

Canadian Tire sells the Dupli-Colour carbon fibre kit for about forty bucks.  It comes with two colours and a patterning cloth.  I should be able to sort out the natty white panels (two front fork guards, the headlight surround and the rear side panels) with that kit.  It’s a cheap, short term fix.

I was reading about a vinyl wrap project Performance Bike UK was doing last night.  They did the whole bike in vinyl, but you can pick up carbon fibre look vinyl for next to nothing.  Maybe I should try that instead of the paint.  After some looking up on Amazon.ca I found some carbon fiber look vinyl wrap that will let me try out what PB did with their Suzuki on a smaller scale.  I also found some mirrors on hand that are much less derpy than the stock KLX mirror, and the

$45 for shipping on a $27 part?  Really Amazon?

price seemed reasonable until I got to checkout – this Amazon ‘retailer’ is charging $45 in shipping for a $27 part.  They can’t be selling too many of those.  Fortunately I found a similar mirror with reasonable shipping costs and ended up getting a body colour mirror, 4 rolls of carbon look vinyl and a vinyl applicator for the same price as that over inflated shipping price, taxes and delivery included.  Amazon is no longer Amazon, it’s a whole bunch of sometimes shady online sellers.  It’s more like ebay than Amazon of old.

With more cash on hand I’d like to swap out knobblies for something more road focused and dualsport/scramblery.  Having the knobblies around for intentionally deep off-roading will be good, but I think I’d use the bike a lot more if I could get places without the tires slapping the pavement like wet squid suckers.

Canada’s Motorcycle has Shinko 705s in the right sizes for under one hundred bucks each.  Two hundred and fifty bucks in and my carbon fibre KLX will be a step closer to the more road friendly scrambler I’ve been dreaming of.







Further research unearthed some pretty cool options.  This twin light headlamp seems pretty Airwolf cool.

















Acerbis does a variety of front ends for enduro/dual sport bikes, like this Cyclops one.