Monthly Archives: February 2010

KTM 950 Retrieval Trip, Feb 19 – 21, 2010

So I decid­ed to take a gam­ble and go to Cal­i­for­nia to retrieve the KTM I pur­chased 3 weeks ago. It is a 2006 KTM 950 Adven­ture with 4000 miles on the clock. The weath­er reports looked OK, if not stel­lar, but I have good gear, and I warned my boss that i might not get back into the office first thing mon­day morn­ing. Fri­day flight to SFO and cab ride to Mark’s place, where the beast was being stored went with only the usu­al amount of dra­ma asso­ci­at­ed with air trav­el these days. I had expect­ed to receive extra atten­tion dur­ing the “Secu­ri­ty The­atre” as I was fly­ing on a one-way tick­et, but it was the nor­mal rou­tine.
Upon arriv­ing at Chez Mark, Joe escorts me to the garage and there’s the beast. it’s even orange-er in per­son, if that’s pos­si­ble. And it’s metal­lic orange, with green met­alflake in it! the bike looks exact­ly as described, only bet­ter: this thing is basi­cal­ly brand new! if it had a new back tire on it, you’d swear it was right off the show­room. I’m very pleased, and set about get­ting my GPS and heat­ed gear hooked up, with the help of Joe and his awe­some­ly stocked tool­box. first trick: where do they hide the bat­tery on a KTM 950 Adven­ture? Remove the seat, no not there. peer around next to the air­box, not there. hmm, there seems to be a lot of wiring head­ed towards the front of the skid plate. And the bat­tery ten­der pig­tail is in front of the rear brake lever. remove a cou­ple of bolts, the skid plat piv­ots down and vio­la, the bat­tery. some jig­gery pok­ery to get wires rout­ed (with­out remov­ing the fuel tanks, which looks like a task), some zip-tie mas­tery, and every­thing lights up the way it should. I stuck a piece of dual-lock on the side of the GPS and stuck the heat-troller to it, and we’re good. A quick run to the ship­ping place to send the stock seat and stock wind­screen home, then it’s off on the shake­down cruise, down to Los Altos and back, stop­ping to have din­ner with an old friend I haven’t seen in 20 years. What a cool bike: feels a lot like my old F650, except it han­dles bet­ter and has twice the HP. wheee!

Joe writes down some route sug­ges­tions for me, and Mark primes the cof­fee mak­er. I’m the only one mov­ing at 6:30 Sat­ur­day morn­ing as I pack up and get loaded. I leave a scrawled ‘Thank You’ on the din­ing room table, go out­side and start the bike. It’s only as I’m deploy­ing the sky-crane to get my right boot over the seat that the front door opens and Mark appears, wish­ing me safe trav­els and a thumbs-up. And I’m off. First stop: a lit­tle town called Kent­field to meet a friend for Break­fast. It’s about 45 miles of mixed free­way and city dri­ving, and the bike is pret­ty pleas­ant, it runs well, han­dles pret­ty good, if a lit­tle slow to respond to the tiller, but i put that down to the 21″ front wheel. It does seem a tad-lean on the pilot/needle tran­si­tion in the carbs, hunt­ing a bit at 35mph or so in 2nd/3rd gear.
Break­fast han­dled, I gas up (twin fuel tanks, and both will gush gas back at you if you’re not care­ful how you have the noz­zle point­ed when you pull the trig­ger). I real­ize I have no idea how much fuel it holds, make a note that it’s at least the 4 gal­lons I just put in, and hit the road in earnest, motor­ing up 101 under gray skies. In about 25 miles, my heat-troller is loose, flop­ping around in the wind, and my right earplug is killing me. OK, I can take a hint. I stop in San­ta Rosa, remount the HT (black and white dual lock doesn’t play well togeth­er), repo­si­tion the earplug and motor on. 350 miles of awe­some roads lat­er, with only about 10 min­utes of rain the whole way, I see the sign that says “wel­come to Ore­gon, Michael and Judy, next left”. I motor up to the Giant Road Bur­ri­to and greet Michael and Judy. I think i see a smidgen of bike lust in Michael’s eyes. 🙂

Michael and Judy took great care of me, pro­vid­ing a hot show­er, hot chick­en enchi­ladas, and a nice port to round out the evening. A per­fect way to end a great day of rid­ing.

Sun­day broke grey and damp, but not actu­al­ly rain­ing. A check of the weath­er fore­cast was incon­clu­sive; change of rain most of the way up the Ore­gon coast. A check of the var­i­ous pass­es over the coast range showed no antic­i­pat­ed prob­lems cross­ing over to I-5 where ever I decid­ed to. I get my stuff packed and while I’m doing that Michael makes me a ‘bronze’ mocha (in hon­or of a fall­en friend: it’s a 20 oz. quad shot mocha); I thanked him and told him that if the bike didn’t start I’d just push it to Gold Beach. “One hand­ed” sez Michael! I “Mocha up” and get ready to go. I get a rec­om­men­da­tion for a restau­rant to check out for break­fast (appar­ent­ly run by an ADV rid­er) and hit the road. It’s about 7:15 AM.
A short ride to Gold Beach, search out the “Bar­na­cle Bistro” only to find it closed. Oh well, back-track to The Cape Café and set­tle in with a cof­fee and the 2-egg break­fast. As I chow down, the sun breaks out and the sky turns a love­ly blue. I gear up to head out, mak­ing sure to change to the tint­ed shield, and I’m on my way. For the next 3 – 4 hours, I work my way up the coast, from small town to pic­turesque bridge to small town. My GPS says Hwy 18 is the ‘short­est’ route home, and it leads through some of my old stomp­ing grounds, so I go that way. Short­ly after depart­ing the coast, I have my only near-brush with Offi­cer Friend­ly. We are climb­ing up the hills out of New­port, and there’s a ditz in a mini­van doing 53.5MPH in a 55 zone, with 7 – 8 cars backed up behind her. We get to a pass­ing lane, and she camps out in the left lane, so those of us behind (myself and about 6 cars) pro­ceed to go around on the right. As soon as I’m clear, I shift left and get on it, hop­ing to get out of the clot of cages for the run to the sum­mit. As we round a sweep­ing right-han­der, with me pulling out in front the pack, at about 80 per, I spot Mr. friend­ly parked in the turn-out, with his tes­ti­cle-toast­er hang­ing out the win­dow. I gen­tly roll off the gas, as does every­one around me. Whew, no way he’s going to be able to pick me out of that pack. We gen­tly motor past and my heart rate returns to nor­mal.

The rest of the trip was unevent­ful, with two notable events; while stopped for my final gas stop in Chehalis, I put the hel­met on the mir­ror (yes, I know bet­ter; I was get­ting tired) so I could move the bike away from the pump, and while push­ing it, the hel­met bails and lands face-shield down on the tar­mac. ARRRGGG! Oh well, that shield was ready for replac­ing any­way. And the sun’s almost down, so I swapped it out for the clear one that I took off over 350 miles ago. Upon arriv­ing home, I dis­cov­er that I also cracked the side cov­er on the hel­met, so I’ll have to fix or replace that. The oth­er note­wor­thy event, even though whol­ly pre­dictable, was the speed at which the tem­per­a­ture dropped after the sun went down; with no cloud cov­er to hold heat in, the mer­cury plum­mets! And I dis­cov­ered that the heat­ed grips on this bike are ‘cal­i­for­nia’ heat­ed grips: Ok for tak­ing the morn­ing chill off, but not up to the job of keep­ing your hands warm in the north­west in febu­rary. I arrived home about 7:23 PM, feel­ing a bit tired but not beat up in any way and very pleased with my pur­chase.

keep those feet up, and the rub­ber side down.

First Garden Report

Last fall we dug up and divid­ed a lot of over­grown plants. Among them a patch of iris so thick that it took a tree saw to hack it apart.

just start­ing to grow.

All eight sec­tions have begun to grown nice­ly. I’m not sure how much bloom we’ll get this year. They’re going to look great at the back of the garage and library beds.

Event Report: Ice Trial, 7 Feb 2010, Walker Valley

Head­ed out the door at oh-dark-fif­teen for our sec­ond club tri­als of the sea­son, the Ice Tri­al. Weath­er looks like it won’t live up to it’s name, although it has in past years. Get to the site, get unloaded in a light driz­zle, and warm up. A lit­tle prac­tice, and some time dial­ing the carb in a bit, since it was com­plete­ly dis­as­sem­bled and cleaned a cou­ple of weeks ago. Focus was on the smoothest pos­si­ble off-idle response i could get, a key char­ac­ter­is­tic for a tri­als engine.

Got geared up and went over to the rider’s meet­ing. learned of an inter­est­ing plan: in order to man­age traf­fic, our tri­als mar­shalls had built an ‘out-n-back’ loop. The plan was to ride the loop to the end, doing sec­tions 1 – 12 (1−11 for Novices) and then ride it back to the bot­tom, hit­ting the sec­tions in reverse order (12 through 1 on the way back). Then back to the pits for water, fuel, food, what­ev­er, and then fin­ish with a final 1 – 12 ride). sounds inter­st­ing. So we divide into groups, and away we go.

We quick­ly dis­cov­er that a lot of the road and trails is a soupy, mud­dy mess. But the sec­tions are chal­leng­ing and fun, with very lit­tle actu­al­ly dan­ger­ous. It took me a num­ber of sec­tions to loosen up, and to get a bet­ter feel for the gear­ing on the bike, with the new 9-tooth coun­ter­shaft sprock­et (down from the stock 10). What I dis­cov­ered is that I now have a choice of gears for a sec­tion, first for real­ly crawl­ing, sec­ond for nor­mal or any­thing with a climb, and third for seri­ous climb­ing. All in all though, the bike ran great and seems a bet­ter fit for my rid­ing style this way. The loop was pret­ty long and rugged in spots and I was cer­tain­ly hap­py to get back to the pits after our first two ‘loops’. Water, a bite to eat, and gas for the bike. And out to fin­ish out with the third loop. At sec­tion 1, we run into the rest of the Advanced class, and they’re already fin­ished! What the.…. turns out they just rode two attempts on all the sec­tions on the way back down, so they only made two trips up and down the loop. smart guys!

In the end, i had some good rides, and a bunch of slop­py rides, 3’s that should have been 1’s, and 1’s that should have been cleans. Fin­ished in 4th or 5th place, I think. I hope to get some prac­tice before the next round, hope­ful­ly that will help keep me a bit sharp­er.

A ques­tion for all of you: how much do you con­sid­er the loop trail to be part of the chal­lenge of a tri­als event, in par­tic­u­lar, a local club event? There was some grum­bling around the pits after the event about the folks who didn’t ride the loop trail all 3 (or 4) times, and I’m curi­ous if there’s a con­sen­sus on this issue. I’m not seri­ous enough about it to care that much, but my guess is that my score would have been 5 – 9 low­er with the extra fatigue and arm pump that I had on my thrid loop. What do you folks think? Send me your com­ments, I’d love to hear from you.

keep those feet on the pegs!

Maintenance Observations

A short sto­ry of deferred main­te­nance, dirty carbs, and bro­ken kick­starters.

At the last tri­als a few weeks ago, I noticed that my ’04 sher­co was becom­ming a lit­tle hard to start and was occa­sion­al­ly kick­ing back dur­ing start­ing.

So I got on the horn and ordered a few parts for some main­te­nance, and some improve­ments. One of the improve­ments was a 9-tooth cout­ner­shaft sprock­et to slow the thing down a lit­tle. So I changed the sprock­et and was going for a short test ride. Got the bike start­ed, but it wouldn’t run with­out the choke on. uh-oh, this doesn’t sound good. it died, and when I re-start­ed it, it kicked back, and I heard some­thing go ‘ting!’. When it imme­di­ate­ly died, I looked down for the kick­starter, and the end of it was gone! When the bike kicked back against my foot, it snapped the ‘foot’ part of the kick­starter off! cap­i­tal CRAP. lucky i wasn’t wear­ing train­ers!

so. next step is to order some parts. so i place an order for some new spark plugs, a kick­starter , and just to be safe, a cou­ple of woodruff keys. The woodruff keys are because one of the things that can make a 2-stroke kick back is bad tim­ing. on a mod­ern engine like our bikes, the only way the tim­ing gets inac­cu­rate is for the woodruf key to shear and the fly­wheel to slip on the crank­shaft. Maybe that’s what hap­pened…

While wait­ing for my parts, I pulled the carb, the air­box, and the fly­wheel. The woodruf key was good, every­thing looked clean inside the engine. The carb was a dif­fer­ent mat­ter though, crud in the float bowl, and and appar­ent­ly a plugged pilot jet. a good clean­ing lat­er, i reassem­bled and rein­stalled the carb, and wait­ed for the parts.

When the parts arrived, I put a new woodruf key in, just on gen­er­al prin­ci­ples, poped in a new spark plug, and reassem­bled enough of the bike to start it. Got it start­ed, tuned the low-speed jet a bit, and it runs great.

So the morale of the sto­ry is: buy your bike a new spark plug and clean it’s car­beu­ra­tor every few years, it will thank you. oh, and be very care­ful kick-start­ing a bike in train­ers!