Open post
Lowered Foot Pegs

Lowered Foot Pegs, Happy Knees

Strix isn’t perfect. Shocking but true. I first discovered his primary imperfection when I went wandering to Oklahoma and have just now performed the first mod to address the problem. The problem – the foot pegs on Strix are too high. To be clear, it isn’t that my legs are too long; the foot pegs on Strix are simply too high. After about an hour of riding with my knees bent too sharply they begin to hurt. With this problem in mind I set out to find a solution. The solution was a journey in and of itself but it appears I have found a workable solution. I keeping with the methodology applied in Astronomia Nova, I present you with my much more concise “War on Foot Pegs”.

First of all, my test ride on Strix was fairly brief but quite exciting. Strix is a modern version of my beloved Airhead, Otus, and he was priced to sell. The decision was easy because Strix was also largely unmolested. I wanted to own a motorcycle that did not need to its previous owners’ molestations reversed. What I did not realize during the brief test ride was how different the seating position is between the two motorcycles. So began the project to lower the foot pegs.

Lowering the foot pegs on a motorcycle is, generally speaking, an exercise in spending money. The challenge with this exercise is the same challenge all BMW owners face because you must remember – the cheapest thing on a BMW motorcycle is the rider. With this constraint in mind, I began looking for options. Fortunately there are several options for lowering the foot pegs on a 2003 R1150R. Unfortunately I had no direct experience with any of them, so I started doing online research.

Online research presents its own challenges. To take liberties with Newton’s Third Law of Motion, for every opinion, there is an equal and opposite opinion. So, for every passionate solution, there was a reaction at least as passionate against the solution. This was true for basically every forum, article, and suggestion I read. I read several more, got discouraged, and gave up on the Internet opinions and went to my local BMW dealer to talk to the parts manager about options. This turned out to be the correct approach.

The discussion was brief and the recommendation was simple – they install a Suburban Machinery peg lowering kit on a high percentage of the BMWs they sell. Unfortunately they didn’t have any kits in stock so I would have to wait if that’s what I wanted. That said, the parts manager asked me to wait while he looked for something. What he found was something like the Wunderlich lowering kit but without the gearshift/brake lever extensions. The kit appeared to have been previously installed, returned, and had been sitting in their inventory for quite some time. As I consider myself a “resourceful scrounger” (a polite term for cheap skate) I bought the bits and returned home to install them. The installation was simple once I determined how best to compress the return springs and I was riding Strix with lowered pegs with less than an hour of shop time invested.

So what’s the verdict? So far, so good. This kit moves the pegs to the same height (from the ground to the top of the peg while Strix is on the center stand) as Otus – about 14″, and moves them out about 1.5″. I need to do some additional adjusting of the gear shift and rear brake levers but I think this has solved my peg position dilemma.

What I didn’t mention – along the way I considered buying an RT and selling Strix. I even test rode an RT and seriously considered it as a more comfortable, long-range bike. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) for Strix, test riding the RT was disorienting. The bodywork is big, when I turned the front wheel it was disorienting to see the bodywork remain stationary while the handlebars moved, I couldn’t find the mirrors at first, and the linked brakes were an unexpected scare. While the RT features a more comfortable seating position and greater range due to a larger fuel tank, it doesn’t have the soul of a BMW ’03 (apologies to Richard Thompson for that misappropriation of his masterwork).

Open post
Independence, MO Liberty Bell Replica

Liberty Bell Replica – Independence, MO

My first replica Liberty Bell in the 2018 Melting Pot Grand Tour is the one located in Independence, MO at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum. The facility is located at 500 W. U.S. Highway 24  Independence, Missouri 64050-1798 and the bell sits on the north side of the building.

This is my second stop on the 2018 Grand Tour. With this Liberty Bell Replica I have accumulated 100 toward a completion total of 200 points. As I’ve shared with my friends, completing a Grand Tour doesn’t mean I’ll stop going to the cities, bells, and bonus locations; it just means I get a completion pin. I’ll keep riding because I love to ride and because I’ve not been to any of the places on the destination list.

Oh, and I’m having fun too!

[rl_gallery id="1121"]

Photos courtesy of Wahaus Advertising.

Growing up in the area learning about Harry S. Truman in school was a given, but I don’t remember learning about the Presidential Library & Museum, nor do I remember learning about the replica Liberty Bell. This could be an indictment of the local public school system but I suspect it has more to do with me being young when I heard about it and not recognizing the importance of this President, let alone the building or the replica Liberty Bell on the grounds. Regardless, bagging this bell was a lot of fun as was the follow-up lunch at The Courthouse Exchange.

Open post
Finding Tonga in the Midwest

Finding Tonga in the Midwest

My first country recorded in the 2018 Melting Pot Grand Tour is Tonga via the city of Tonganoxie, KS. Even though this was a short trip, it took the better part of the day, primarily to find a good place to get the required photographic evidence. We travel U.S. Route 40 frequently as we have family in St. George, KS so I was very familiar with a colorful city limit sign on 40. I had originally thought that taking the picture there would be the best way to do it but the photographer wanted to get a better background so we started scouting for a better location.

We were fortunate to find two good locations – one that was really obvious and a second location that was very colorful. The photographic evidence that meets the Ground Tour requirements is shown below.

[rl_gallery id=”1125″]

While the official rules state that I don’t need to be in the photo I thought it would be fun to be in the first picture of this tour. I’m not sure the photographer will want to follow me around as I collect other locations so I’ll revert to Smartphone pictures soon enough.

In any case, I’ve bagged the nearest US city containing a foreign country name! Now, on to other cities, some Liberty Bell replicas, and (hopefully) some bonus point locations around the country!

Read more about my Melting Pot Grand Tour!

Open post
Anatomy of a Proper Tank Bag

Anatomy of a Proper Tank Bag

First I was all about the tank bag. Then I modified my tank bag by adding power outlets. But a couple of years ago I felt the need to eliminate the tank bag. I even wrote about it here, and I wrote about modifying what took its place here. Unfortunately nothing I did made the wrong tank bag right. There – I said it – I had the wrong tank bag to begin with so no amount of futzing and modding would make it right. You might recall that I eventually found a proper tank bag for Outs and wrote about it here. As I tend to do, I got excited, snapped a picture, wrote a little, and then went for a ride.

Recently I’ve been thinking that I need to better explain why my new tank bag made me reverse my decision to completely stop using a tank bag. Here it is – in pictures and words.

How The Bag Mounts

This tank bag works because the base is formed specifically to fit Otus’ tank. The way the base attaches to the tank ensures it stays tight and the nifty cut out in the center allows me to refuel without completely removing the bag from the bike. Check out the following pictures to see what I mean.

[rl_gallery id=”1130″]

The Storage Compartment

This tank bag works because the storage compartment is tapered to match the contour of the tank while creating a flat top. While the slope to the back tends to allow the contents to slide down into a pile, the flat top allows you to see whatever you put in the map pocket. An optional divider and rain cover were still with the bag when I bought it from the original owner. The next set of pictures illustrate why this bag is the right accessory for Otus.

[rl_gallery id=”1132″]

What’s In My Tank Bag

The contents of a tank bag are generally quite personal and based on the rider’s needs and tastes. The collection of goodies in my tank bag include the following:

  • The latest version of the MOA Anonymous Book
  • Maxpedition E.D.C. pocket organizer
  • two pens
  • tire pressure gauge
  • Moleskine notebook
  • ear plugs
  • AA battery powered head lamp
  • AA battery storage box (before anyone says anything about the battery box being empty I had the batteries in the charger during this photo shoot!)
  • Wunderlich Folding Oil Funnel
  • zip ties
  • side-stand foot
  • Olympia cold-weather gloves

[rl_gallery id=”1136″]

The actual contents may vary from time to time but this is what I generally carry in my tank bag now that I use a tank bag.

Open post
Well ad Properly Sorted

Well and Properly Sorted

It has been a long time coming but I am ready to declare that Otus is well and properly sorted. I’m not going to bore you by rehashing all the events of the past – just understand that I have been on a 620 day journey that came to a happy conclusion Sunday, December 10, 2017. As simple as it sounds I threw my leg over Otus, pushed the start button, and he eagerly responded to the request. I rode him to Blip Roasters where I had coffee with friends. When I was as alert as I dared be on a Sunday morning, I threw my leg over Otus again, pushed the start button, and once again he eagerly responded. The ride home was uneventful and, therefore, blissful. When I returned home I tucked Otus back in the garage, connected the Battery Tender, and declared Otus well and properly sorted.

After the ride I was chatting with a friend about Otus’ well and properly sorted status. Over the course of a few weekends we made several “repairs” to Otus in an attempt to get to root cause for the horrible way he was running. The problem I encountered was that Otus would run great until I had ridden him about 10 miles or so (just far enough away that I was too far to push him home). My first thought was that I had a fuel delivery problem. Based on this initial theory I decided that a good flush of the fuel system is what Otus needed.

the fuel delivery theory

  • Remove the Auxiliary Fuel Tanks: A few years ago I decided I wanted to increase my range between fuel stops. Back in the day Luftmeister made “saddle” tanks that could be installed where the battery covers are typically installed. I pursued a pair of these tanks, installed them, and increased Otus’ range. Because fuel delivery on an Airhead happens because of gravity, and the saddle tanks didn’t always empty, I decided to eliminate them from the equation. They were removed, drained, and placed on the shelf.
  • Drain and Muck Out the Fuel Tank: I then removed the fuel tank and removed the petcocks. The screens on both petcocks were pretty mucked up so I flushed them with fresh fuel, re-installed the fuel system, and tried again. Otus started right up and off we went with a Lawrence, KS as our destination. Unfortunately I once again made it far enough to be stranded. I allowed Otus (and me) to cool down and limped him home. When I got home I checked “fuel delivery” off the list of possible causes.

Another “fix” I made was related to the kill switch on the right handlebar multi-switch. The switch itself was broken due to the sins of the past so I tried to repair it. Because I had eliminated fuel delivery as a problem (and air delivery was fine too because the air box and air filter were clean) I decided to source a new multi-switch to eliminate another problem. The parts ordering saga is documented here. I ordered a new left-hand switch as well but before opening it I discovered that it didn’t match the switch already installed. Otus has a neat feature – a switch to disable the headlight. This feature was eliminated somewhere along the way and I’m unwilling to remove this unique feature. I spoke to my friends at Bob’s BMW and they tell me that the switch with the headlight switch is no longer available so I decided to keep the one I received as a spare. Now, back to the story.

the kill switch theory

  • Check the Electronic Ignition: Some years ago I retired Otus’ breaker point ignition in favor of a Dyna III electronic ignition. The electronic ignition is a “black box” and should it fail it cannot be repaired – only replaced. As a sanity check we confirmed that all the wiring was in place, unmolested, and we dressed it all down neatly. Another request for Otus to start was declined. There was great sadness and frustration.
  • Replace the Right Hand Multi-Switch: The work was in removing the old and replacing the new switch. The left hand switch was, apparently, installed at the factory after the right hand switch so first we had to disconnect the left hand switch to disconnect the right hand switch. The right hand switch was replaced, the left hand wiring was re-connected, Otus was buttoned back up, and we once again asked him to start. Unfortunately this latest request was also denied. In fact, there was no power to the headlight bucket. Now it appears I had violated the Hippocratic oath and had done more harm that good.

At this point I was convinced that I had done irreparable harm to Otus and the results were finally showing up. I was vacillating between delivering his last rites, being mad at myself, and hoping against hope that he could be saved. Rather than giving up straight away, we decided to go back through all the key systems on Otus.

the check my homework theory

  • Check My Homework: Prior to the rough running I made a couple of what I consider “durability” upgrades. I replaced the stock diode board with an Omega diode board. The product description reads “Heavy duty high voltage automotive diodes in a large heat sink on a high temperature printed circuit board – what this means for you is consistent charging, long life, and a minimum of fuss.” All the things I like AND an oxford comma. This may be the perfect product! I also replaced the stock bonded diode board mounts with solid mounts. I reviewed the installation instructions, tracked down all my connections, and made certain I had properly installed the new diode board and the solid mounts. I also installed a new rotor for the charging system. As with the other “upgrades” I reviewed the installation. At the end of this homework check we found no errors but there was still no power to the headlight bucket. After re-checking this work we once again asked Otus to start but we were denied and there was still no power to the headlight bucket.

After much scratching of the head we started talking about what might be preventing power from making its way to the headlight bucket. Was the ignition switch bad? Did I miss a connection in the headlight bucket when I put everything back together? Had Otus simply passed away? To try to figure this out we broke out a rudimentary circuit tester and started poking around.

the circuit tester hail mary play

  • Check The Primary Relay: We found a problem. Using a multi-meter we determined that the relay wasn’t working. We removed the relay from the bike and started poking around with the circuit tester. We figured out how power should be getting to the headlight bucket and determined that the problem must be the main relay. We connected it to power and attempted to make it operate, but it simply wouldn’t click. After a few minutes of repeating the tests, we agreed that a new main relay was the most likely cure. Rather than sourcing a new relay online I went to my favorite auto parts store, worked with the parts person to source a new relay, returned to the garage, and prepared to install it. In comparing the old to the new I discover that the new relay was not correct. Dejected again, I was contemplating how to perform a motorcycle burial at sea in the middle of Kansas. While pondering that, we wondered if theold relay had really failed or if the contacts were just really dirty. We cleaned the contacts on the old relay, sprayed contact cleaner in Otus’ relay socket, and made another start request. Much to our delight (and my surprise and, ultimately, relief) Otus started! There was much rejoicing!
  • Install New Spark Plug Wires: In going through my receipts and notebook I could not determine if I had ever replaced Otus’ spark plug wires. Since I had to order parts I added a fresh set of plug wires to the order as a precaution. In keeping with my general camping gear axiom (I brought it along so I’m going to use it!) we decided to go ahead and install the new plug wires and demote the current ones to backup status. After installing the new plug wires Otus again responded positively to our start request. At this point I was on the verge of tears of joy, but crying as my motorcycle was idling on the lift didn’t seem very manly so I contained my emotions, issued a high five, a fist bump, and then grunted in satisfaction.

From that point forward it was a matter of buttoning up the headlight bucket and adjusting the carburetors. With these tasks properly performed Otus was declared well and properly sorted!

Otus now stands at attention in the garage. He is in fantastic condition for a 40 year old motorcycle and is ready for our next adventure. The 2018 BMWMOA Rally will be in Iowa. We’ve been through Iowa before but this might be the right rally for his triumphant comeback!

[rl_gallery id=”1140″]

Open post
Happiness is a Well-Sorted Airhead

Happiness is a Well-Sorted Airhead

Happiness is a well-sorted Airhead so today I am happier than I was on Friday but not completely happy yet. The combination switches I order from Bob’s BMW were only half correct and, with diagnostic help from a friend, I now need a new relay.

Otus is a 1977 BMW R100/7. When Otus was manufactured the left-hand combination switch featured a switch to turn the headlight off. You read that correctly – in 1977 it was still considered OK to allow the rider to decide when and even if they wanted to turn on the headlight. Oh, and the headlight switch could be used to hang your helmet if you choose to own but not wear one while riding. Of course I’m kidding – that switch cannot hold the weight of a motorcycle helmet. Regardless, the “replacement” switch sent to me by Bob’s BMW doesn’t have a headlight switch so it is not a true replacement part. I’ll call, complain, ask them to find the correct replacement, and see where that gets me.

The relay failure was a special surprise. The main relay for Otus appears to have failed catastrophically. Could this have been root cause for my him running like crap lately? It could be but the kill switch was broken regardless. I found a replacement relay at my local Car Quest (this has everything to do with the experienced guys at the counter) for 1/3 the cost of the same relay from BMW. I’ll try this part replacement and see if I can achieve well-sorted happiness.

Still more to come!

Open post
Sorting Otus

Sorting Otus

Otus is having some problems again and once again I’m attempting to sort out out those problems (again). The working theory is that the kill switch on the right-hand combination switch is the culprit. The kill switch was broken in my accident but I didn’t notice it until recently. I attempted to repair the switch but it doesn’t appear to have worked. I received replacement switches (I’m replacing both because new switches are so pretty!) from Bob’s BMW and plan on installing them this weekend. I’m 90% certain this is the issue but that remaining 10% is scratching at the back of my brain. Let’s hope this is root cause because I’ve stopped looking for an explanation!

[rl_gallery id=”1145″]

The process to get the combination switches was tedious and a bit frustrating. I called my favorite parts retailer – Bob’s BMW – but the microfiche showed three switches per side. I called and they informed me that there are three lengths of wire associated wit the switches; short wires for S bars, mid-length wires for US bars, and long wires for the BMW ape-hanger bars. The switches with the correct wire length for my bars are on back order for at least a year. That was depressing news so I called a well respected Airhead mechanic and he recommended that I submit an order for new switches and wait patiently as used switches are 40 years old and likely not worth the effort to install. I called Bob’s to place the order and they suggested that I get the combination switches with the log wire tails and either cut them down or deal with the extra wire because these switches were immediately available. Dealing with the extra wire sounded like a great option so I ordered the switches and waited.

The switches weren’t in stock but showed up at Bob’s, found their way to FedEx, and magically appeared on my porch a couple of weeks later. I also ordered up new spark plug wires (in all the years I’ve owned Otus I never changed the plug wires so I thought “while I’m in there…”) and some timing hole plugs so I can have a spare for Otus and replace the awful plug on Strix and have a spare for him as well.

With these parts collected I, along with some expert help, started reassembling the Grand Old Man. I’ve got at least another day of work swapping in the switches (and dealing with other recently-discovered but hopefully minor damage). Saturday promises rain so I’ll be back in the shop putting the final touches on Otus just in time to get him ready for a long winter nap.

Wish me luck!

Open post

Wandering Through Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma

Sending out a quick update tonight from a roadside motel as I rest up from wandering to Oklahoma. I got a late start and by 8:00 pm I decided the next motel I came upon would be my home for the night. So here I am at a motel that time forgot in Van Buren, Arkansas. Yes, I am in Arkansas on my way to Oklahoma.

You might be asking why but the answer is simple – Garmin. Apparently the fastest route to Talemina State Park goes by Joplin, MO and through Van Buren, AR. I’ve topped arguing with my GPS and just followed along. I ran out of sunlight as I approach Van Buren so here I am.

I’m just over an hour from my destination but it was shaping up to be a dark hour. I was hungry and tired so I decided to rest. The road, and my destination, will still be there tomorrow. And an early start will also get me to Sapulpa, OK while the sun’s still up so I can pay a visit to my Grandfather and Grandmother. They’ve passed away but I’m not going to tell them.

See you on the road tomorrow!

You can follow my progress by looking at this:

Open post
Refactoring My Camping Gear

Refactoring My Camping Gear

This rainy camping weekend reinforced something I knew all along – my tent is too small for me to use for anything other than a sleep shelter. Time to consider refactoring my camping gear. The weather this Memorial Day weekend made it more obvious because there was no place other than my tent for me to go during the thunderstorms. The refuge I had counted on was also closed during thunderstorms so my only option was to retreat to my tent. I had my Kindle and was able to read but, because of the limited interior height I couldn’t bring my chair in and just sit.

Upon my return from the weekend I decided to look for a tent in which I can stand but would not be so heavy that it would dramatically increase the weight of the gear I haul. I made a decision and ordered a tent. Once it arrives I’ll provide an update along with a refactored Touring & Camping Gear list. I learned some other stuff too so the list will end up with more than just a tent upgrade. The updates to the gear and page will be glorious!

Open post
LED Solid Sate Instrument Cluster Lights

instrument cluster lighting – solid state LED

I figured out a few things recently. Since Otus became my motorcycle the turn signal indicator in the instrument cluster hasn’t worked. Because he arrived in my garage that way I assumed there was a problem with the cluster itself. I changed the bulb but that didn’t matter. I cleaned the contacts but that didn’t matter either. I assumed that it was damaged and left it at that. It wasn’t until I started looking for a replacement instrument cluster that I figured out that the problem wasn’t the instrument cluster but rather the turn signal relay. Somewhere along the line someone swapped out the BMW relay for an automotive  turn signal relay. It was moving to this relay that prevented the instrument cluster light from lighting up to let me know a turn signal was on. Figuring out stuff like this typically leads me into Quixotic situations.

problem solving

Once I got a lead on the reason the turn signal light in the instrument cluster wasn’t working I dug into the parts cache and retrieved one of the BMW turn signal relays. Installing the correct relay led to a wiring voyage of discovery, but getting that sorted out ended up making things work as they should so ultimately the change, and the ensuing work, was a good thing. With this problem behind me I was ready to upgrade the stock Airhead incandescent lighting in the instrument cluster to a solid state LED light kit from Katdash.

making things brighter

The lights in the stock instrument cluster are OK, but because “I was in there” it seemed like the right time to make another LED upgrade to go along with the LED headlight. Enjoy the pictures!

Posts navigation

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Scroll to top