Never Lost - Just Exploring

Never Lost - Just Exploring
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

2014 - Loose Ends

Every once in a while I realize I haven't been to the blog lately, and then I read what was last written and posted and decide to add some new pertinent information . The last post had me just acquiring the '83 GS850GL ad going through a want to do list of things.

As it turns out I DID go through it completely with my friend and we did rebuild the entire top end as planned. Then I spent the summer riding the heck out of it, and adding little things I thought would help make it more comfortable and fun to run around on. It ended up being everything I wanted in a commuter bike - fun, good handling, reliable, nimble, quick and unusual (which appeals to me as I like different in my motorcycles hence the no Harley attitude)

I added saddlebags, converted the turn signals and am in the process of modifying the seat for more plush comfort.

2015 - Coming events

I am really excited for this riding season to begin. As I approach March I know I have a lot of preparation to do on my Goldwing to get it ready for the journeys I have planned. The list is
all centered on being ready for some long distance miles.

The Plan - In June Ryan and I plan on spending a week in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Our first day out we are doing a SS1000 Iron Butt run so he can get certified and then 4 more days riding the canyons and mountains.

Then in August I have a 2 week adventure run to the Northwest , Seattle, and Northern California for an incredible 2 weeks of run away pleasure with my riding buddy Bill (he of many previous adventures) . I hope to also work on improving the GS850 but the focus this year is on my Goldwing , riding ,and hopefully remembering to blog it all.

Monday, April 7, 2014

It's been a while

Hard to believe that I have not posted anything  new to the  blog for so long..
Motorcycling enthusiasm can do that to a person. The ebb & flow of everyday life fighting against the enthusiasm pulling time from that life, and opposed by the many needs of the average person causes the days to swiftly fly past.

Just a few direct updates on some of the motorcycles that have come and gone in the last several months.

The GL1100 Goldwing that Ryan owned has been sold after a great summer of riding. Ryan put over 7000 miles on that 1980 bike and it was running perfectly when we sold it. Reluctantly it had to go down the road to make room for his next bike (3 bikes in 3 years). After the trip to the Triple Nickel (Hy 555 near Zanesville Oh) he realized a bike with real cruise control would be an advantage if he wanted to make some of these long rides. So we sold the GL1100 and started watching for a GL1500 to purchase. He located one we both liked and after some investigation he bought a pristine 1992 GL1500 Aspencade with some really nice features, and excellent maintenance history, and a good price.

AS for me - my experience with the Suzuki GS650 led me to really like the way the UJM inline four cylinders ride. While the 650 was a little smaller than I wanted and I did sell it for a tidy profit, I knew I wanted to find another  GS series bike to make into a "bagger" for my daily commuting and local area riding like bike nights, and simple evening relaxation rides.  Knowing I wanted something unique I scoured the internet until I found one in Dubuque IA that met my desire. I located and purchased a 1983 Suzuki GS850GL . And while I had seen many and looked at a few already , this one was completely unique -  all the other 1983's I had seen previously were in the same red-maroon color as the 650 I used to have. This 850 was different with a BLUE over BLACK color scheme. A rare find as it was a late '82 production and not in the '83 colors yet although it was a titled '83 bike.

    The bike needs some updating and maintenance. Some of the seals were leaking, the carbs were a
 mess both inside and out and it needs new tires. Luckily I have a friend who agreed to help me out and over the course of a 4 day weekend we did a complete top end rebuild including new valve seals, adjustments', and engine seals. We cleaned the pistons, honed the cylinder walls, and tuned the and balanced the carbs. Yet to do is the new rubber, and bleed the brakes all around.
All that ends doing now is a short list of add ons I want...hard saddlebags, a luggage rack, the engine crash bars,  and adjust the windscreen properly. Then it will be my regular daily rider (until I tire of it)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Bike Dropping - Sooner or later...

It has been said there are 2 kinds of riders in the world...Those who have dropped their bike, and those who will. It seems that if you ride enough sooner or later it will happen. One of these days it is almost inevitable that the laws of gravity will supercede the laws of inertia and the bike will suddenly, without warning, be on it's side.

Usually this drop will happen at the worst possible moment. It rarely happens when no one is looking, but rather when there is a group of other riders assembled who will for one reason or another be looking directly at YOU when the big girl decides to lay down for a short rest.  Other riders are the worst and best people to have this happen around...the worst because it is an immediate testament to your lack of proficiency, calling you out for all to witness; and the best because it happens to everyone sooner or later and the empathy and sympathy you receive are real and genuine - as is the help you get picking the bike back upright onto 2 wheels.

Motorcycles can be ponderous beasts ; especially at low speeds, as they are designed to be graceful, sturdy, strong and athletic - while at speed. But take away the gyroscopic effects of high revving engines, spinning wheels, gears and shafts that all combine to keep us upright thanks to the laws of motion and these things can be downright heavy.  The larger touring bikes often tip the scales at an unseemly 800 lbs. while even an average size bike now-a-days is still in excess of 400 lbs. Some of the vintage early small bikes were still 300+ and those seem small and sprightly by today's standards. The cruiser and touring category are dominated by these large, big engined heavy bikes and every rider has to face the truth that is the drop.

I seem to make a habit of dropping my bike once per year. It generally happens when I least expect it, which I suppose is appropriate as if I expected it --I wouldn't let it happen. The process is simple really. A momentary loss of concentration, a small slip of the foot, or an unexpectedly tilted surface can all throw off the equilibrium that is balance. And once the behemoth starts to go over,,,there is little one can do to stop it. I have been effective ins slowing her down a few times; but once it reaches a certain point in the lean over, what I call the "tipping point" ; it is not possible to bring it back upright. The best you can hope for is ti slow it's rate of descent enough that nothing is broken or damaged severely. The crash bars that are typically on these motorcycles are designed to mitigate these slow speed tips and will often act to catch the bike as it goes down , and once the bike is resting on these bars it is already on the way back up as the catch itself keeps it from rolling completely onto its side, laying flat on the hard surface of the drive where the incident took place.

Some of the more memorable tips from my past:
My old GL1200 ( about 750lbs)- I had to pick up a prescription from the local drug store. Once in the  parking lot I kicked down the side stand and hopped off all in one smooth and cool (so I thought) motion. I had managed to get several steps away from the bike before I heard that sickening sound of metal on asphalt and knew the bike had just tipped over. It seems that I hadn't deployed the stand all the way to the locked position and it slowly crumpled as the overbearing weight on the bike pushed down and forward in effect somewhat gently lowering the bike onto the  tip over bars. Of course I sheepishly walked back and stood the bike back up as I looked around for witness'. Gladly there were none.

I did something similar on my GL1500 (800lbs+/-) when I pulled into a filling station somewhere in the Northeast on a trip. I kicked down the sidestand and proceeded to dismount in order to start refilling the fuel tank. As I dug for my credit card I was facing the pump and stood between it and the bike. As the bike decided to tip over it leaned onto my ; effectively squeezing me between the bike and the pump, which made turning around and lifting the bike off my legs a real challenge. Of course there were witness' to this event but it was over so quickly , the  entire dismount, tip over and lift up occurred in just  a few seconds; that almost no one realized what had happened.

Finally there was the time I rode up to wait for my riding buddy as he backed out of his parking stall. I had ridden to an adjacent business to utilize the facilities as the gas station had a line waiting for the one stall room inside. Rather than wait I rode over to the next business in a connecting parking lot, used their restroom, and returned all before he was able to get through the long line waiting for service. Of course I did not notice the gravel; and as I put my foot out to balance the bike while I waited I slipped badly, and I knew in an instant it was going down to the left ; and there was no way to stop it. So rather than fit it, I attempted to just slow the tip over, at the same time stepping off the bike tot he same side.  Once the bike made that familiar sound of crash bar contacting cement I was already standing next to the now sleeping giant and simply bent down and tipped it back upright. The crowd that had gathered on the sidewalk ; and many had witnessed this gaffe , all looked on in amazement with what I will always presume was an appreciation for my grace, style and poise during this stressful and potentially embarrassing occurrence.

Be ready for the tip over...take solace in the fact that it happens to everyone...sooner or later....

Friday, January 18, 2013

New to me motorcycle

As a matter of habit I often surf the internet and especially look at Craigslist for the odd good deal on motorcycles that people want to get oout of their way. One of my hopes, dreams and hobbys is to find and recondition old Japanese motorcycles from the 80's & 90's and after fixing them up, riding them a while , then sell them to finaince my next purchase.

This has ben kinda a "some day" proposition for me for the past few years as money an dtime are always a limiting factor, but this past fall I decided to do something about it and took on a part time job. The job working at a hardware and appliance store pays near minimum wage, but all the wages go directly into my special motorcycle account to help save money for my 'hobby'.

Over the past months I have followed up on a few different UJM (Universal Japanese Motorcycle) that caught my eye.  I even wnet to look at one first hand, and regret that I missed out on a 1984 Goldwing GL1200 Standard in mid summer, however when I found recently on line an advertisement for a Suzuki GS650L in great condition it caught my eye.

I called and spoke to the owner and found he is the second owner of this 1983 motorcycle, He bought it from someone who never rode it and it sat in a garage for years until in 2010 he sold it to his brother. The brother managed to get it running, but not well due to it haveing been in storage and I presume it haas gummed up carbs, but he did ride it a bit and put on some miles over time.

Eventually the brother put the bike back into the rented storage garage wheree I found it, and it sat there for the best part of the past 24 months.

Here is the cool part....759 original miles...!

Yep - all that time the owners who had this bike rarely rode it anywhere...

After some initial bantering on the phone about the price that was listed at $1125 asking price the owner and I decided we were just too far apart with me at about $500 and he at $1000. I said I would sleep on it, and if he reconsidered my offer he should call me. At that point I had no real interest in the bike except to try to buy it right and sell it off ASAP to make some money. But over the weekend I was the one reconsidering and called him back on Monday.

I told him perhaps I should at least come to look at the bike so we made an appointment to meet. We met at the local McDonalds and I followed him to his rented storage facility and was surprised when he opened the door and saw this...

Super clean and complete with all the parts including an extra set of keys and a new side cover for the one with broken tab (battery side). The haggling began in earnest at this point and we finally decided on $800 purchase price, which the experts online saw is a great buy; and the deal was done.
Now this bike sits in my garage, waiting for me to get it running and riding again once spring arrives.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Riding season - Winter Time

December 6th 2012 and my motorcycle is still in full on operational stand by. That means I have yet to fully winterize it and throw the cover over the top for the 'winter'. I usually do that once the first snows come to my area and the road crews decide to liberally salt the surfaces to prevent icing . The down side to that is the salt is both slippery and highly corrosive to aluminum parts like engines, wheel rims, etc. on my motorcycle. So the first salt usually spells the end of my riding season until the rains of spring come to wash the roads clean once again.

As the winter approaches I am ready for the down time. Just this past weekend I took what I felt was going to be my last ride for the 2012 season. I managed to get in nearly 200 miles just cruising around the countryside near my home.  That wouldn't seem to be a huge deal hwoever for a late late season last ride it was marvelous. These past few weeks I have been carrying fuel stabilzer in the sadddlebag, and whenever I need to refuel I add the appropriate amount just to be sure the bike is ready to go into the short term storage that I practice for the winter months. Thus far I have burned up 3+ tanks full of this mixture; but this recent one looks like it may the last for this year. The weather service is calling for snow over the weekend and that would likely signal storage time for me.

This will not be an issue for me this year. I am really looking forward to taking the bike out of service for a while. I have a short list of service items that I have been avoiding for various reasons as I extended my riding nearly to Christmas. But the time is rapidly approaching when I will take the bike and strip it down to accomplish several tasks that the bike needs done.

One of the main things I need to do is to tear into the bike and remove the meter panel to access the speedo housing. There are several burned out bulbs inside the housing and I struggle reading the speed, tach or other instrumentation at night. While I am in there I also plan on trying to clean and thus fix the clock display that works poorly when the conditions are wet or humid. The clock/channel LCD panel will short out when the moisture accumulates on the circuit board inside the meter panel and then not work, or work so poorly as to be unusable.
While I am tearing it apart I plan on removing the radio and sending it to be cleaned, tuned, and bulbs replaced inside it as well. The vendor who does this service for Goldwing radios is also going to add an AUX line in to the radio for me which will eliminate my need to have a cassette adaptor in order to have my iPod or MP3 music inside the system for listening through the helmet headsets.

My current set-up for the GPS also neds some modificatiuon as I changed to a better newer gps this past summer. Here is a picture of how it was set-up for the old unit. The new one requires 4 screws through the back and is larger, heavier and much nicer so I plan on improving this home made engineering GPS bracket. The new one will be taller, lean back at a better angle and be lower and tighter to the panel that supports it . This will keep the GPS from rocking and shaking while riding as it does now (I hope).
There are other things I need to do to the bike while it is pieces in my garage, cruise air fliter, sub air filter, fuel filter , and a general clean up will all be on the list, A new front tire in spring and perhaps new bearings on the wheels and steering head bearing replacement  will finalize the to do list for the 2013 riding year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Riding in the darkness

Daylight savings time means commuting home in the dark. In the morning on my way to work I am fortunate enough to come in after the sun has risen and the day is underway. The warming sunlight is welcome and easy to ride in as visibility is excellent.  However during these late fall days in Wisconsin it getes dark around 4:00 PM and I work until 5:00 or later so that means riding in the dark.

My ride home from the office takes me through some dark and dangerous areas as I pass from the more city like suburb where my employment is to the muchmore rural area I live. As I transition from one place to the next the traffic thins, and the street lights fade and the buildings give way to fields, trees and farms. During the summer it is very peaceful to ride away from the noise, hustle and bustle and congestion of the populace and into the calm countryside. In the late Fall  this brings with it a whole new danger especially once the hunting season starts.

The darkness hides the animals waiting in the ditches for their chance to cross the street. Deer especially seem to litter the shoulder during the fall as they become more active looking for a mate, finding food sources as the farmer harvests the fields, and in general keeping ahead of hunters who are seeking to have them as a trophy and sausage.

Of course this forces them to the roadway, and they seem to not be able to discern when it is safe to cross, often walking out into traffic without looking, and suffering the consequences of such dire actions. Dead deer carcass' are commnplace in Wisconsin in the fall from the many car-deer collisions and I worry about becoming a statisitic caught up in this folly known as fall rutting season.

Before adding driving lights
My only defense from a deer suicide is to se them coming. That means lights and more lights shining through the darkness to illuminate the deer well before they get to the road.  Several years ago I had a close encounter with one as I rode home while passing the remnants of a corn field recently harvested by the local dairyman. I spotted the deer standing not 5 feet off the edge of the road as I went past at 55 MPH. The troubling part was that I never saw it until I was nearly on top of it...!

So I decided to add some driving lights. The Goldwing is equiped with some pretty decent headlights to begin with at 45W lows and 55W high beams. I had spent the extra money to upgrade these to 55/65 and the Silverstar high output bright white bulbs. There are 2 bulbs in the headlight assembly so running with my low beams on I had 110 watts of forward facing bright white light at all times. But that wasn't enoogh ...So I added some driving lights I found at Wal*mart. These Optronic Platinum Burners were rated at 55 Watts each and I mounted them to the front on a reshaped chrome trim under the fairing , just below the levelof the headlights.

Driving Lights Mounted
NOW I had 220 WATTS of forward facing bright white light wioth just the low beams on. And I further complimented this arrangement by carefully aiming the Right hand side light outward into the ditches and fields to illuminate those pesky critters as they contemplated making a street crossing.

Another advantage is the average car driver; who would not be accustomed seeing a motorcycle out in the late fall typically, will easily see me coming as I am sure I must look like an airplane on final approach with landing lights blazing as I trundle down the roadway.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Resistance = Heat

Working on the GL1100 Interstate has immensely expanded my knowledge as I have been forced to learn more by doing. I feel the best lessons are the ones learned first hand, although sometimes I wish it was easier to acquire some of this knowledge.

The probelm presented itself as an intermittent headlight. It would turn off while riding at the oddest moments and then come back on at other times when it was unexpected. I spent hours and hours tracking wiring from the headlight bucket back, Fixing bad connections and poor splices as I went. And I thought I had it fixed - but whe I was test riding it for something else I was working on I noticed the Volt meter was reading higher than normal, and when I investigated I found the headlight was out - again.

So after some thinking and reading and discussing with fellow riders I figured out the problem must be in the fuse box. When I started to look closer I was shocked to find a badly corroded glass fuse connector on several circuits. And I realized these were the source of the problem. Often the bike would show voltage changing from high to low and this was showing the fuse box actually was allowing electric flow at differing rates as the fuses heated and cooled and the connectors all heated to very dangerous temps.

As I investigated further I soon saw the results of this loose fuse and corrosion as it created extreme excess heat and had started to damage the fuse box itself. This really worried me as I had to resolve this problem before a fire started and someone got injured.  The only thing I could think to do was to replace the entire fuse box - and in the process I wanted to update the fuses to modern blade style automitive fuses so I searched out an alternative box to add to the 1980 Goldwing.  The challenge was to find a box that allowed for ganging the first 4 lines together (a procees known asa "bus") as seen on this photo - see the bar along the bottom ?
This proved to be more of an effort than I first thoought - finding an inline 6 place fuse box with a bus or jumpers was almost impossible - in fact so difficult that I decided to create my own ganging line and use a 6 place inline box I found on Amazon. This required me to make a 4 line connector that leads from the 1 main power wire to 4 seperate fuses - so my meager soldering skills were put to the test. I elected to solder and heat shrink everything I could as I built the new fuse box in order to keep it as safe as possible for the future.
I simple then cut one wire at a time and created a new line into the fuse box with crimped connectors and shrink tubing all covered in a protective wrap of electrical tape appropriately colored for hot (red) or ground (black).  These crimp connections are not ideal (soldered is better) but I have alot of confidence in my crimps as I have experience with them on my old 1200 and on my current 1500 and I have learned how to do them so they will last.  Here you can see me preparing to make one of the first cuts as I worked my way across the fuse block.

Eventually I was able to get all the wires reconnected to the new block and even added some extra accesory slots on the far right for adding low amperage electrics like GPS and radios and auxillary lighting witrh LEDs. Once this was done I took the bike out for a test ride and noticed almost immediately the power was better, the lights were brighter and I knew I had made an awesome upgrade on this old but new-to-us bike.