11.29.2012

A quick trip to Motorcycle Superstore Outlet


This week I spent a few days in Louisville for work. While I was there I thought I would slip away and check out the Motorcycle Superstore Outlet. Along with the decision ride again came the endless gear quest.

I've been lucky to have great friends who have been gracious enough to outfit me with some essential pieces of gear. For the kit I'm putting together I needed find a decent pair of riding boots. I've been poking around on all the major retailer sites for good deals but nothing has really grabbed my attention. I was hoping to pop into Motorcycle Superstore Outlet, be overwhelmed, make a few selections and walk out with a good deal.

I walked in around 1pm on a Thursday. The shop was dead. I was greeted by a very friendly sales person. We talked a little about riding and about how the outlet works. I informed him that I was looking for a pair of touring boots. He happily led the way and let me know that he would be around if I had any questions. There were quite of few offerings. I started picking up a few pairs to check the size when the idea of an outlet hit me. I'm of average height, weight, and shoe size. Those types of products don't have problems selling. If however you are a small or very large male or just female then this is your gold mine.

Finally I found a pair in my size. A sharp looking boot with an aggressive sole. I liked the idea of having a sole I could tromp around in, especially if we were going to do some adventure riding with camping. The price tag was a bit more than what I was looking to spend. I tried them on and liked the fit and features but really I have no experience to compare them against. After a pricing nudge from the sales person I was out the door with my newly purchased Rev'it Apache H2O boots.



I got home from my trip early enough to get a ride in before I had to pick the kids up. The boots kept my feet nice and warm and I felt a little more secure with the boots covering my shins. The only issues I had were working the shifter and foot pegs. The boots prevented me from getting a good feel on the shifter. Because of this I missed a few gears. I assume I'll be more in tune with the boots in the future. Also, because of the aggressive tread on the sole I was often searching for the right footing on my pegs or wondering about the placement of my feet when downshifting and coming to a stop. I'm looking forward to putting a few more rides in on them. As for the Motorcycle Superstore Outlet, I'm pretty happy with the service I received. I plan on taking another trip down some time this winter.




11.27.2012

A Hard Restart: an introduction to McMark.


I owe Red a lot of thanks for many things in my life and this is no exception. Red and I have gone through a number of adventures in our lives and I look forward to many more. As Red mentioned I am now the proud owner of the Seca II. 

For as much similarities as Red and I have, our lives at home are different. Because of this, our perspectives may differ as well. The hope for my contribution in this blog is communicate my view around that context. 

As Red mentioned I am a returning rider. What he hasn't mentioned is that the decision to get back on a bike hasn't been easy. When I was wee lad my father bought a Honda CL350 scrambler. He would reminisce of his younger riding days with stories of jumped railroad tracks, slide outs, and other guitar slung adventures. For me, It was exhilarating to scoot around town on the back of that Honda. When I was old enough he would let me drive it around a small field in the back of his house. I used to do endless laps in that field. A few times my younger sister would ride on the back. And if my father was in earshot when I kicked that little Honda above 3rd gear I would be sure to “hear” about it when I got back home. Sadly, like many other Honda’s from that era, it would end its life in a scrap yard as a discarded project my father and I never got a round to finish.

As I transitioned into high school I dreamt of getting a sport bike. I always had my eye on a Honda F2. I would pour through Dennis Kirk catalogs endlessly outfitting myself and the bike. I had a subscription to Motorcyclist Magazine that continued to fuel that fever each month.

It wouldn’t be until I was in my second year of college that I bought my first motorcycle. It was a ’88 Kawasaki 500ex with full custom fairings and a lovely paint job to boot. I would take many things for granted with this bike but I enjoyed every minute of it. As if I were following the stat lines in every safety manual, I put that bike down twice in 6 months. The first time was at night. I was wearing nothing more than a t-shirt, shorts, and a helmet. While slowing to make a turn into a local drugstore I hit the pavement. Before I knew what was going on my helmet whacked the ground amongst the dust of gravel. What I failed to see while making that turn was that the power company had removed a small section of pavement and filled it with gravel. To my error I was braking while in the turn and failed the see the gravel. When that front tire crossed the small section down I went, pride and all. The once beautiful paint job was now battle scared and the right front turn signal found a new home inside the fairing. 

The second time the bike went down was pure old cockiness. Most of the classes were letting out at the college I was attending so traffic was pretty heavy. I was following a good ol’ boy in a white pickup that was racing from light to light. Of course my head I was screaming “race him.” I was following way to close. The driver let me know by locking up his back wheels to graciously let me slide into him. I had it coming. It was a game I was destined to lose. My rear tire locked up the bike kicked out from underneath me. Luckily I was able to to plant my feet and remain standing as the bike slid down. When I got it back up I gave chase. The driver apologized and shook my hand. Again I found myself prying that turn signal from the front fairing. 

A couple years later I sold the bike. Regretfully I found something useless to spend the money on and my bike owner days disappeared as did the hobby I invested in. I’ve said many times I wouldn’t own another bike using my lack of self control and the danger I would put myself in as the excuse. Was I fit to responsibly ride? At that point in my life I wasn’t fit for many of life’s responsibilities. 

12 years have gone by. I’m happily married, have found good work, and have two young children that I live for every day. The decision to get back on the bike was a battle. It still is. How does this risk balance in my life and is it necessary? Instead of dwelling in the land of risk and safety statistics I’ve decided to focus on the positives. Friendships, new experiences, and rekindling a lost love. 

My plan is simple. Stay alive. Always SEE. Participate in driver safety courses. Wear the right gear. Ride within my limits and enjoy every minute of it.  

11.26.2012

taking a few steps back.

Spent part of Thanksgiving night and the first half of Sunday in the garage digging around on the Buell. On Thursday, I swapped in the loaner ECM and reset the TPS, the bike fired up and I took it for a test ride. About 2 miles away from home, the fuel light came on so I decided not to go too far. After exiting the freeway on to surface streets, I thought I felt that same slight surge or hesitation. Almost like some invisible force is pushing back against the bike. Thinking it was all in my head, left over paranoia from the break down, I kept riding and decided to fill up the frame.

With a fresh 3.something gallons of 93 octane sloshing around betwixt my legs, I headed towards home. The slight surge/hesitation/stumble I felt before was back, now growing stronger with every minute that passed. It became an almost "bucking" sensation from the bike that was not reflected in the tach. Like it was missing or not firing on both cylinders. The CEL (check engine light) did not come on, nor did the bike throw a code via ECMSpy. Keep in mind, this is with the loaner ECM. So, now it has acted up with both ECMs after the TPS reset.

After I stumble the bike home(that's another good description of how it feels, a stumble) I decided that I must have done something wrong. So, on Sunday, I set out to reset the TPS and AFV again. It was much warmer and the bike acted up much faster than on Thursday night. Plus, after all the test running, the Uly peed precious high octane gasoline all over the floor. Clogged fuel vent? Could that be it?

Perhaps a more basic issue? A sensor feeding the wrong data back to the ECM? TPS? CPS? PBS, wait, what? What about a fuel issue? Both injectors test fired properly. It seems to act up once it's up to running temp. What about a plug wire?

On lunch today, I'm headed towards South-side Harley Davidson to pick up plug wires. I would rather support American Sport Bike but I want to rule this out now (and not pay for shipping).



Here's a video of the Uly running (poorly):

video


**UPDATE: The issue was caused by a failing TPS Sensor!**


11.21.2012

Goodbye Yamaha, hello McMark!

I delivered the SECA to it's new home last night. Glad to have the room but I'm more happy to get a friend back into riding. If you look to your upper right, you'll see a new name under "Contributors", McMark. He is the proud new owner of my SECA II and will start writing on here as well. I imagine he'll post some sort of introduction in the coming weeks.

In February, we'll be heading to a whole cluster of moto related events. The International Motorcycle Show, Dealer Expo and the Indiana Motorcycle Expo are all happening between Feb 15th and the 24th. It's going to be a busy month. We'll report back about all the awesome moto related goodies.

11.19.2012

cleaning up my engine's diet

The breathers on the Thunderstorm engine feed back into the air box. According to Buell experts far and wide, this does not help the low end stumbles the Ulysses suffers from. Another emissions control setup that hampers our fun. Just like the extremely lean mixture on the Yamaha SECA. Well, just like the Yamaha, there is a bypass for this. About $20 in parts, or cheaper if you just let your bike spooge all over the ground. I took a couple of t adapters, an air compressor filter from Harbor Freight and a crankcase breather filter and made this:



This will keep my engine from ingesting all the blow by, water vapor, oil gunk and whatnot that was feeding back into my air box will now get trapped in the little plastic bowl.

It's not the prettiest set up but it should work fine. I can either unscrew the bowl or press the bleeder on the bottom. I cut some rubber sheeting and wrapped it around the frame bar to keep the filters from scratching it up. I need to find a new filter, the chrome is only temporary. Just because it has a Harley Davidson (*spit*) based engine, doesn't mean it has to suffer from chrome accessories.

Tonight, we'll be fixing my mess with the air box screw. Once that is done, I can get that cleaned up and reassembled. My ECM/TPS diagnostic cable should be here today and the loaner ECM arrived on Saturday. Hopefully, I will get an answer as to what in the hell is going on.

Still plenty of good riding days left and I'd like to be out there enjoying them.

11.17.2012

Going mobile

I downloaded the Blogger app today.   Now I can post on the go.

And last night I learned my wife actually reads my posts. :-)  

The motorcycle addiction continues to spread.  My breast, I mean best friend from High School just got his permit and is in the process of buying my Yamaha. 

Looking forward to riding with him and another friend who just got his first bike. 

11.16.2012

ICON Variant Construct







It would be awfully cool if I could get one of these from ICON to review. But I'll probably just end up buying one next year. Need a new lid and even though I'm a cheap bastard, I can't get this helmet off my "want list". Plus, it would go really well with the Ulysses.

magic boxes and the kindness of strangers

I finally got the torx bolt out. It didn't turn out like I wanted but it was what I expected.

The heat and chisel method didn't work. It finally came down to drilling it out, which of course, I got off center and buggered up the threads. This tends to happen when you leave a moron alone in the garage with power tools and an expensive motorcycle. (Yes, that moron is me.) So now, I have to either tap it for a larger bolt or use a bolt/nut combo. Not sure which way to go.

Since I have the air box off, might as well do the breather re-route and keep my engine from ingesting all that gunk. To catch-can or not to catch-can, that is the question.

I'll post some pics of the progress, once I make some. My loaner ECM is on it's way from the BadWeb member. Need to get the bike together and ready to test, I don't want to keep his ECM longer than I have to. Plus, I have an ECM/Diagnostic cable on it's way. I'd love to get the Bluetooth model but it's for Android only and I know if I drop $90 on it, my work will switch us to Apple phones.

So the plan of attack is get the air box back on, reset the TPS and AFV. If that doesn't help, time to swap ECMs. Also, while I have the chin fairing off, time to clean up and check all the connections that the guys in East Troy shoe-horned in there.

11.15.2012

I was not the right tool for the job.

The Buell is my first serious encounter with Torx bits, the allen wrench's pointy cousin. I had some minor run ins back in my Jeep days but nothing this intense. So, after I brought the Uly home, I bought what I thought was a complete set of Torx head sockets.



Turns out, I was very wrong. A T25 is not a T27, which is rarely included in Torx sets because someone has a very sick sense of humor. So, during all this tear down to find the cause of the poor idle and stalling, I decided to check the intake seals. To do this, I need to pull the bottom air box plate, which is held on by... you guessed it, T27 bolts. Well, that T25 sure is close and if you didn't know any better (or in my case, were just being a moron), you'd think it was right.

It's not.

It only took a few slips to round out that torx hole. To add insult to injury Buell uses a thread locker that was meant for those giant rock quarry trucks, not 1/4 diameter bolts. I'm not the first Buell owner to suffer this fate and I doubt I'll be the last. So, there's no room for a Dremel to slot the bolt head. I can't hit it with the torch because it's a plastic plate and the frame is kinda full of 93 octane gas. I tried heating up a T27 with the torch and using it heat the bolt, no luck. I tried using a soldering iron to heat up the bolt, no luck. I tried pounding a T30 then an allen head sockt in there, no luck. I almost made a blood oath to murder the man who decided to leave out the T27 bit. But, that little amount of wiggle on the T25 should have told me that wasn't the right fit.

Now, I'm using my lunch break to buy a cold chisel, a reverse drill bit (just in case) and a sacrificial T27 bit for round 3 tonight. I'd love to just weld a nut on there but something about welding on top of 4 gallons of gas doesn't sit well with me.

At least a quirky motorcycle gives me something to write about!



11.14.2012

living with a crazy and fun but high maintenance motorbike



I went out for a ride down into the curvy section of Indiana last Saturday with Funky and Wheels. The Buell ran great, my confidence and skills need to grow to match it. I think a track day would do me well. So, the Buell eats up the curves like mad, it almost glides from turn to turn (as long as I do my part and stay smooth). I'm fairly sure there are either suction cups or magnets in the wheels, that's how well it stays planted. I did have to tinker with the front fork to cut out some fork dive. Currently, it's set for a guy about 50lbs heavier than myself according to what the book says, so it's probably time to change the fork oil.

After some spirited riding, we stopped at Rino's place to admire his renovated garage. Once we were rested and hydrated, it was time to follow Rino the Rocket through the twisty roads of southern Indiana. Admittedly, I wasn't "riding my own ride" on Saturday and found myself being a bit liberal with the throttle at times. This caused a close call on my part. Wheels, almost got a Ulysses enema due to a very sudden right hand turn onto a side street by Rino. Oops. Everyone stayed on two wheels and there was no contact, so it's a learning opportunity.

Wheels and I split off from Rino and Funky, hopped onto 46 and rocketed towards I65. After a pit stop at Scrubway to fill our bellies with crap food, we headed north towards home. The sun was setting and I would finally get a real chance to see how the Ulysses headlight works. Turns out, it's pretty damn good. We burned dinos all the way into downtown Indy and battled much traffic. Occasionally, I felt a stumble or hesitation, perhaps a surge from the 1203 Thunderstorm. "Eh, it's just your brain playing tricks, or maybe time to do the TPS reset.", I thought and carried on avoiding texters, pot-holes and street zombies.

Then, it happened, another stumble. There it is again. The idle drops below 1k and climbs back up to normal. At the next stop light, it gets worse. Now, I have to tickle the throttle to keep it from stalling. Oh shit, here comes the price for our day of fun. We hope on to Fall Creek, and now, I'm keeping the pig alive, just barely.

I turn into my 'hood and BAM, she dies. I thumb the starter and she howls back to life and runs all the way to my garage and stays alive long enough to pull inside, then kaput. After a few days rest and much Googling, I swap the plugs out and fire her up. She awakens with a throaty roar, like a motorcycle version of Tom Waits. I don't bother w/the airbox cover but I gear up and take off. She's running a bit rough but I think it's just from all the air dumping in. Then, it happens again. The stumble, then the idle craps out...time to turn back. I don't want to push the beast home.

So now she waits until I can do the TPS/AFV reset but the consensus on BadWeb is that my ECM has gone t*ts up. Thankfully, a BW member is going to ship me his to try out. Now that's freaking awesome. That way, I don't have to drop $300 on an EBR model and learn it's something else.

You'd think I'd be full of violence and murder since my new bike is in the garage all torn apart but I'm not. She's so damn fun to ride it is worth the wrenching and I knew Buell's are finicky when I bought it.

**Update:  The issued turned out to be a failing TPS Sensor!**