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Steering Damper

Steering Dampers

Steering Dampers for the /7s

It's funny - neither Otus nor Bubo have a steering damper but my Airhead friends all pretty much expected both to have one installed. With just a little bit of cash for previously-enjoyed parts and an online purchase of the missing new parts and I have two complete steering dampers - one for each /7. The only bummer about installing the steering damper on each bike is that I have to take a lot of the front end apart - a task I don't really enjoy all that much. Doing the work on Otus will be the most time-consuming because I have to remove the windshield and it's tedious putting it back together.

The goal is to stabilize the front end on both bikes, but for different reasons. Otus could use the steering damper because I tend to pack him heavy when I attend rallies. I hve lightened my camping gear a bit this year by down-sizing my tent. This will allow me to move more weight into the panniers rather than in my duffle bag on the passenger seat but I will still have my duffle bag up top so I still need to improve Otus' front end tability.

With Bubo serving as the sidecar tug the steering damper should help eliminate the front-end wobble that seems to occur between 15 - 25 mph. The wobble is predictable but anything I can do to help make the ride more stable will improve my experience and confidence on the sidecar rig.

Pictures will follow when I'm ready to dig in on the projects.

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Luggage for Bubo - Featured Image

Luggage for Bubo

Luggage for Bubo

I'm getting closer to figuring out Bubo's role in the fleet but while I continue to sort it out I'm moving forward with installing the essentials. As far as I'm concerned luggage is an essential but Bubo arrived without any. I started by installing a previously-enjoyed set of pannier racks when I installed new shocks. With the racks in place I went shopping for the panniers. A friend of mine bought two parts bikes and I considered a set of panniers from those but they had three problems - "seat belt" style latches, cracks from years of service, and no keys. I looked around online but all the previously-enjoyed panniers had at least two of these same three problems. I also considered swapping the panniers from Otus to Bubo when necessary but I couldn't come up with the small bracket needed to make the latches work on the pannier racks so that wasn't a workable solution. Because I couldn't find a solid set of used panniers I put a crowbar in my wallet and bought new panniers from my friends at Bob's BMW. The paniers look right, mount solidly, I can lock them, and the small bracket is included with the panniers. Curiously enough the fasteners I needed to mount the brackets were not included with the panniers so I had to make a run to the hardware store and buy four bolts, nuts, and washers, to install these new panniers. It only took about 30 minutes to get the panniers mounted.

In addition to the panniers I also wanted to include a top case for heavier traveling. I have a Givi Monokey top case on Otus and there's a universal mounting plate that can be installed to just about any top case rack. With that universal mounting plate installed on Bubo's top case rack I am now able to swap the top case between motorcycles very easily. So, now I have Bubo outfitted to carry stuff when needed! The top case also acts as a backrest should I have a passenger on either Bubo or Otus.


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Suspension post featured image

Progress Report – Bubo

Out With The Old, On With The New

They say that when you buy an old motorcycle you'll end up spending the purchase price on parts and repairs so it's important to get that old machine at the lowest price possible! As I work to bring Bubo back to rally shape I've spent about half the purchase price to-date. The most recent collection of parts and repairs include:

All these parts and repairs were required as a big step to bringing Bubo back into shape for regular riding.

This Is Bad

For The Record, This Is Bad

Fork oil isn't supposed to be brown. I was hoping I could simply pull out the old and drop in the new fork springs but time was not on my side. I started on the right fork and things looked pretty good - at least the fork oil was still recognizable as fork oil! I removed the old spring, dropped the new one in, and then moved on to the left fork. That's where things took a turn for the worse. The first challenge was getting the cap off the fork. Using a wrench from Otus' tool roll I attempted to remove the cap but it put up a fight. As it turned out, the cap was stuck to the nut and they came off together. When I removed the nut it was discolored with brown liquid from the fork so I knew I'd have to drain and re-seal the fork. Fortunately I had all the parts on hand for the task. I drained the left-hand fork and found the oil was completely discolored and the bumper that sits in the bottom of the fork stanchion screw plug had turned to goo. A good clean-up, a new bumper and crush rings, and the left fork was sealed up and ready for the new spring and fresh fork oil. While I probably could have left the right-hand side alone I went ahead and flushed, cleaned-up, and buttoned up the right side as well. New springs and fresh oil all around makes the front end feel much better!

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Some time before the move I ordered up an Exhaust Plumbiing Alternative (EPA) Kit from Bob’s BMW and promptly tossed the kit in Strix’s tank bag and forgot about it. On the way back from the BMW MOA rally in Springfield, MO I felt like the bike ran poorly and the fuel economy was worse than I was used to with Otus. When I got home I tucked the bike into the shop and went about recuperating from the heat. A few days later I was unpacking the bike and rediscovered the EPA kit in the tank bag. It was time to get to work!

The “pollution control” stuff installed at the factory consisted of pipes that connect the cylinder heads to the airbox. Removing these pipes and installing the kit itself was easy enough but to get everything cleaned up I had to get into the airbox to remove and plug some vacuum hoses. Once I was inside the airbox I realized that the fuel delivery plumbing was also overly-complicated so I decided to simplify that as well. Under the starter cover there were two “solenoids” of some kind that the fuel passed through. These were connected to the fuel tank and carburetors through a maze of fuel hose. With the starter cover off I was able to remove the solenoids and sinmplify the top of the fuel delivery plumbing. The most challenging part of the reconfiguration though was adding a crossover fuel line like on Otus. To get the crossover fuel line added I had to remove the airbox entirely. This proved to be a challenge until I figure out how to get crankcase vent tube. With that, and the associated pieces out of the way I was able to remove the airbox, add the crossover fuel line, and button everything back up. I even used the appropriate Airhead braided fuel line when re-plumbing the entire setup! Now it looks like a proper Airhead. A turn of the key and a press of the starter button and Strix came alive, and sounded much better!

While I was able to execute this project to near completion with the parts I had on-hand (the EPA kit, Airhead fuel line, and fuel tees) the EPA kit provided screws to plug the vacuum ports on the carburetors. Unfortunately the vacuum ports on Strix’s carburetors were not threaded so I had to order up a vacuum plug kit from my friends at Amazon to complete the project.

As the saying goes, pictures or it didn’t happen. Unfortunately I’m a bit rusty and I didn’t get any before picture. I do, however, have a couple of after pictures that show what got removed and the neat and clean fuel line plumbing that makes Strix look like a proper Airhead!


It has been almost a year since I last posted. I can offer lots of excuses but none of that really matters. I’m chalking up the past year as a “learning” year – I learned a lot but precious little of it was motorcycle-related. As a new July gets started a new plan for the motorcycles is starting to form in my mind. Otus and Strix both need work to continue to be the motorcycles I need them to be, and there’s a new place for me to do the needed work. The move to a new town is complete and I’ve got a new workshop for the motorcycles. As I return from this hiatus I’ll be getting back to wrenching, writing, and riding – but all of this is going to re-start with an updated plan to revive Otus and Strix.


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