At the conclusion of this year’s Airtoberfest Otus’ oil cooler failed. Fortunately the failure was very noisy and I was able to shut him down before all the oil sprayed out. Unfortunately I was 125 miles away from home and no way to repair or bypass the oil cooler on the spot. The get home solution was AAA. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere AAA Premier RV service has been a lifesaver more than once and they came to the rescue yet again! The only constraint was that I was not allowed to ride in the cab of the tow truck due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately a friend was willing to drive me home so all was well and I was home not much later than I would have been had the oil cooler cooperated.
I added the oil cooler at a point in time where I was all about accessorizing Otus. I stumbled upon the oil cooler, thought it would make sense to cool the oil even more and add a little capacity to the oil system. Now that it stranded me I decided to remove it and put Otus’ oil system back to stock. Unfortunately this meant I needed to order a part as the addition of the oil cooler required the replacement of the stock oil filter tube with a much longer tube. This longer oil filter tube prevents the stock oil filter cover from fitting so I once again turned to my friends at Bob’s BMW for the part I needed to get Otus back on the road.
I spent some time reviewing the microfische and decided the part I needed was labeled “pipe” and cost $8.68. Unfortunately I wasn’t 100% certain I had found the correct part due to the vague description so I called Bob’s. They double-checked for me, confirmed it was the correct part, and I added it to my shopping cart. I also bought another oil change kit as I like to have one on-hand for the next oil change. I removed the long pipe, installed the short pipe, buttoned everything up, and Otus started right up with no leaks! While having the oil cooler might have helped in some situations not having it repaired and reinstalled makes Otus less complex and, dare I say – simple by choice.
OK, I know - I don't have a sidecar but I'm fascinated by them so I tagged along with a fellow Airhead and sidecar owner to Joyce Canfield's Sidecars in the Flint Hills rally this past weekend. I've been thinking about putting a sidecar on my project bike (a 1983 R100 RT) or possibly Strix. To help with my decision I attended this rally to learn more, see more sidecars up close and personal, and see what this sidecar thing is really all about. Otus did his usual fantastic job getting me there and back again. What a great machine!
I got to see somewhere around 20 different sidecar rigs from the very traditional Ural, a few Goldwing-equipped sidecars, a couple of cruiser-based rigs, and a really fun "Frankenbike" sporting a Velorex sidear. Not only were the machines cool to look at, the people were great ambassadors for their sidecar passion. I couldn't have asked for a better indoctrination to the sidecar lifestyle. There was good food, good conversation, and a genuine willingness to answer any questions I had.
If a picture's worth 1,000 words here's a whole bunch of thousands.
Ready To Pack!
Rally time is here and Otus is Rally Ready. In spite of everything we've been through together this old bike remains in amazingly good shape. All the fluids are great so all I really did was do some cleaning. Shelter is packed, sleep gear is packed, battery-powered gear has been checked, and the rest of the "unstructured" gear has been packed up as well. All that's left are clothes and a few odds & ends.
Givi - Not Luftmeister
As you read in a previous post, my attempt to put a Luftmeister case on Otus didn't work out so well. Because I had a Givi mounting plate on one of Otus' luggage frames I decided to order up a Givi Top Case. This is my second Givi top case - the first one was included in the sale of my R1150R - so I know their gear is good. My last case was the biggest they offered and looked great on the R1150R but no so much on Otus. This time I opted for their 47 liter case and, as you can see in the picture, it looks OK on the back of Otus. Also being a bit smaller than the last one perhaps I'll be more thoughtful about what I take...?
I look forward to seeing you all at the MOA Rally in Lebanon, TN. I'll be camping with my Airhead friends so wander over to Airhead Central and say "Hi!"
Something unexpected happened today. I got an email from the seller of the Luftmeister top case. He told me the hasp on the case was broken and asked if I still wanted it. I asked for a refund and he gave me a refund. I knew he didn't have a key for the lock but I don't think he knew the hasp was broken. Honestly prevailed and he told me about it BEFORE he shipped it. That's just awesome and very much appreciated.
But I Still Need a Top Case
Need might be a little strong but having a top case makes it easier to get where I'm going with my stuff. When I got the R1150R it didn't have a top case so I ordered up a Givi top case. I also got a universal mounting bracket to install on Otus but decided I liked the vintage look of the Luftmeister top case. The Givi case went with the R1150R when I traded for the GS. My Luftmeister case didn't survive my accident. I've wanted to replace it for some time, and hoped this was going to work out, but it was not to be. Because I still have the universal mounting plate I decided to give up on the quest for a replacement Luftmeister top case and I ordered up a new Givi top case. The last one I had was an enormous 57 liter case. This time I decided to go with a slightly smaller 47 liter case. This should keep my stuff from being scattered when I head to the upcoming rally.
I finally committed to a replacement Luftmeister case for Otus. My Luftmeister case was a casualty of my accident and was replaced with a Givi top case. While the Givi case was really nice, it was also the top case for my R1150R. When the R1150R was traded for the GS, the Givi top case went along with the R1150R. Since that time Otus has been without a top case. He looks good without it, but with rally season upon us a top case would be a nice-to-have. My friends at eBay facilitated the transaction and a new-to-me Luftmeister top case will be here in about a week.
Part of the joy and challenge of a 1977 motorcycle is being period-correct yet functional. I never had a problem with the Luftmeister top case (until it exploded on impact). It looked correct on Otus and was just roomy enough to hold some light weight gear for making camping more comfortable. I have a bag of things I consider essential for life on the road and they fit well in a Luftmeister top case. I'm happy to have a replacement Luftmeister top case on the way. This is the final piece to restore Otus to rally configuration.
I'll add pictures during and after the installation.
I love the look of the Airhead GS. I’ve seen pictures of the these Airheads with Hella lights on them and finally decided that Otus needed a pair mounted on his crash bars. As usual, my friends at Amazon were all too happy to sell me a set of lights, some bar mounts, and to keep from putting too much load on Otus’ stock charging system, I also ordered a pair of LED bulbs to replace the provided halogen bulbs. I’m really happy with the results!
The installation was surprisingly easy in spite of the car-focused wiring instructions. There were – at least in my head – three challenges:
- Where to mount the relay as my headlight bucket is pretty crowded with the Cyclops LED headlight bulb.
- Where to get switched power.
- What is #31?
I thought long and hard about all three of these and brought it all to a successful and shiny solution. Details, pictures, a blow-by-blow description of the work, along with a parts list, follow:
Buying the Stuff
The Hella 500 light kit was reasonably priced and available through Prime so that was a no-brainer. I knew I wanted to mount the lights on the crash bars so I spent quite a bit of time looking for a round clamp to fit the 1″ round crash bars. I landed on the GS Power Tube Clamp Brackets. They come in several sizes and I ordered the 1″ kit. The “sleeve” you see in the picture is actually a piece of vinyl that helps clamp the bracket tightly without scratching the bars. These are cast aluminum and I did have to drill larger holes for the light brackets the that was no big deal.
I could not find a Hella 500 kit that included LED bulbs. Another quick search of Amazon yielded this pair of H3 LED bulbs.
Installing the Lights & Wiring
Installing the brackets, the lights, and roughing in all the wiring went pretty well. I was more than a little confused about the blue wire being ground (isn’t brown the universal color for ground wire?). The other part that confused me was a portion of the wiring diagram. It listed all the relay and harness wiring clearly except for #31. There were several #31s in the diagram but that number was not in the installation key. After roughing in everything else I assumed #31 was ground so I grounded all the #31s. With everything roughed in (and a fire extinguisher at the ready!) I tested my work. My garage was awash in glorious LED goodness! Pretty sure that these lights, along with the Cyclops LED headlight, could give the sun a run for its money. I think Otus is pretty darned visible now!
I agonized about where to put the relay. All of Otus’s wiring lives in the headlight bucket and the Cyclops bulb with its cooling fan and connector make things pretty full. The steering damper mounting brackets on Otus’ frame were another possibility but the relay and the harness were pretty crowded so I kept thinking, and thinking, and re-thinking. After a few days of thinking I landed on attaching the relay to the bottom of the right-side fuel tank stud. It pokes through the rear fuel tank mount insulator just enough to attach the relay. It also sits far enough forward that the relay fits pretty nicely. And the harness doesn’t interfere with the tool tray so that became the winner!
Dressing Down the Wires
There was PLENTY of wire attached to the harness (except for the that darned blue ground) so once I have tested the roughed-in wiring I got out the wire cutters, butt connectors, and heat-shrink tubing to dress everything down. I cut out several feet of wiring, got everything tucked, wrapped, and routed, and then butt connected and heat-shrink covered all the cuts. And, because I didn’t want to have to take it all apart again, I tested one final time before putting everything back together. The lights still worked so I was quite relieved and very happy with the results.
I did not anticipate the size of the switch provided with the kit. It is a round rocker switch .75″ in diameter. While the size itself isn’t a big problem, the fact that my gadget bar is constructed of .75″ square aluminum tube meant I had a size conflict. To resolve this problem I made another trip to the hardware store and picked up a length of 1″ square aluminum tube. I cut it to length (and made this one a big longer than the current one), drilled a .75″ hole using a “step” drill, and re-mounted my phone, USB power, and garage door opener to the new, thicker, and wider gadget bar.
This project turned out really well. The lights really light up the road at night and make me hella visible during the day (yeah, I did that). Oh, and they also look hella cool (since I’ve already gone there I figured why not do it again…). Your mileage may vary but if you’re thinking about adding auxiliary lights on your machine, this was a fun and relatively inexpensive way to do it!
- Hella 500 Light Kit
- GS Power Tube Clamp Brackets (1″ to fit standard Airhead crash bars)
- H3 LED bulbs (pair)
Pictures or it Didn’t Happen
A story found on the Internets tells me that back in the day, British and European motorcycle riders would display their license numbers on metal plates attached to the front fender. In the case of a motorcycle/pedestrian accident the plate would injure the pedestrian and so the term “pedestrian slicer” was born. I live in the ‘burbs so pedestrians are a rare thing, and pedestrian slicers are just cool.
Enter Kevin Wahaus of Wahaus Advertising and Otus now sports a pedestrian slicer complete with The Two-Wheeled Tourist branding! I found a suitable pedestrian slicer blank at Carpy’s Cafe Racers, ordered it up, and handed the blank over to Kevin. Kevin + the pedestrian slicer + Adobe Illustrator resulted in the cool artwork you see in this website’s header. That same artwork with colors reversed now graces my pedestrian slicer. After a few minutes in the shop, the pedestrian slicer now graces Otus’ front fender. That’s a lot of grace, isn’t it?
Kevin has done an amazing job bringing The Two-Wheeled Tourist brand to life. The pictures that follow demonstrate. If you’re interested in custom artwork on a pedestrian slicer for your machine contact Kevin and see what he can do for you.