Sunday, 31 January 2016

Gas Gas TXT 2000 125 - Service and Repairs Info

Another addition to the bike shed is a little trials bike for Lucy. She's always been a bit overawed by the Sherco and its power, not helped when she was spat off it coming down a small embankment, that one left her winded and wheezing like a cow for a few minutes, funny as to watch, not funny to experience apparently!!

So I've been quietly shopping for a little while for either a 125 or a 250, something cheap and solid, that she can learn on and build her confidence up with. This is what I found...

On first look, it's nice and tidy and someone has done a fair bit of the general maintenece on the bike. The tyres are good, the frame & decals all OK, it's got aftermarket handlebars and other little bits... for it's age it's pretty tidy.

The bad bits have appeared once I got it home and after Lucy had rode it and I'd then stripped it.

The 'new' chain turned out to be shiny new sprockets and a truly knackered chain resulting in the bike being hard to push around. I'd noticed this when I rode the bike, but thought it was just a sticking caliper or something... New chain on its way...

I've bought a Regina Trials specific chain from the Splat Shop to try out, it was only £24 and comes with a split link. I've also bought the 9 tooth front sprocket that is standard. At the moment there is a new 10 tooth one on it, so I'll see whether Lucy likes this before I change it.

The Del Orto PHBL 26 carb only runs when the choke is on, but as it's virtually identical to the one on the Sherco, it's a a fairly straight forward fix, change all the seals and jets and then set the mixture and tickover. Plus clean all the inline filters, fuel tank, internal carb one etc etc... Parts on their way too.I'm trying the same 38 main jet as I put into the Sherco to see if it makes a difference. I've also re routed the fuel line as it's gravity fed but was going uphill over the top of the carb and the bike stalled going up & downhill. We'll see whether this is the cure.

The Rear Caliper is a bit knackered as suspected too, the retaining screw for the pads has seized into the body of the caliper. The bleed nipple also twisted off when it came time to bleed the system, so I'm hunting for a replacement as trying to extract the remaining thread hasn't worked at all. The pistons are virtually stuck in there too... It looks like its not seen a service in a loooong time! A replacement AJP version is about £100, I haven't found the Hebo version as yet.

It turns out on this that you can't find them in the UK. I found one on Ebay from Italy and after a post on Trials Central, I was given a Gas Gas part number from one of the guys (BT27922001). Apparently there is a similarity to the AJP 4 pot caliper but it doesn't fit. (A comment from one of the guys). The modern versions are 2 pot AJP ones, which are apparently better all round.

The Splat Shop also do the Hebo Service Kit of seals and pistons for £22.  Part No: GBT27922201 but they haven't been able to get hold of them for over 12 months now. Rocking horse poo is the phrase that is starting to describe these parts. I've now resorted to hunting for the replacement 'O' ring needed inside and to try to strip out the old pistons, try a complete rebuild and see if that works... failing this it'll be machine a new carrier plate for a more modern caliper... we'll see!

The Front Caliper was also sticking on the pistons, the bolts were fairly well corroded in as well, however lots of gentle heat and patience got them out in the end. I've now stripped the whole caliper down, cleaned it a rebuilt it. Its re-bled and working but I reckon if it doesn't improve after some use I'll have to replace the pistons and the seals. A mere £22.00 for the set. At least these are still available though!

The Air Filter is Ok, the airbox is an interesting design though in comparison to the Sherco. The front cover is quite a heavy duty beast, with two bolts holding it in place. All of the bolts are held in place by a couple mre bolts and extender tubes running through the airbox. The wacky bit is that all the threads run the same way, so as you try to loosen one, the rest spin too and you actually fail to get any of it to come apart with out lots of turning!

The air filter is easy to fit though and just a sheet of oily foam costing £10!

This bike has had a new fan fitted, it's still clean and shiny, so I'm hoping I won't have to change the coolant as it should have been changed when this was installed, but that's just me being lazy! I'll have to check...

This bike came with a side stand fitted, which is a nice little thing to have in the Lakes where there is nowhere to lean your bike on the fells whilst you go look at a section. I'm shopping for one now for the Sherco as it has the same holes drilled in the bottom of the swing arm.

Engine Oils:
Apparently for the older Gas Gas engines, called the 'Edition' (Pre 2002), its better to use a standard 5w30 none sythentic oil. YouTube Vid to explain. 650cc's in American measuremnts or 0.65ml in UK speak, which is less than I thought. You can use an ATF, (Automatic Transmission Fluid), but as it's made to slip, your clutch won't be as good.


I've found a couple of places for Parts Lists and Manuals, so here they are.

Tech Info: 
I found this US website about all things Gas Gas, always worth a look if you're struggling to find out something...

Gas Gas Riders 
Trials Central

What I find funny is that this is a completely different brand to the Sherco, yet take all the logos and colour schemes off it and it would be difficult to tell the two bikes apart until you rode them. A lot of shared parts and geometry from my first cursory inspections.There are more fittings and bolts to unscrew, but this makes things a bit more rigid when you throw the bike around too, so not a bad thing.

Lucy has now had a good ride on it, she's comfortable starting it, which she wasn't with the Sherco and she seems to be genuinely pleased and enjoying the little amount of time she's spent on it so far...
It's always good to see a smiley lady!

More fun on two wheels!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

KTM 690 Enduro vs KTM 640 Adventure - RTW choices...

Out of interest from a discussion I was having with some mates, I recently popped this thread onto Horizons Unlimited FB page to see what people thought and had found out personally.

 Ok so I'm having a debate about what to buy... KTM 690 Enduro or KTM 640 Adventure. RTW trip, lots of miles in remote places carrying luggage and lots of dirt planned... 690 has electrics and they fail! fuel pump issues are common, plenty of stories from friends around the world cursing them for reliability but loving the weight and the fuel range plus of course the KTM off road ability... they also cost a lot to prep for a trip as KTM don't seem to get the fact that there is a market out there for an upto date overlanding bike. 640 is a land of vibration, but it's carbed and has limited electronics.. its cheaper to buy and is virtually ready to tour with few minor mods, but its heavier... thoughts please folks... Oh and not really interested in debating other bikes, I've looked at them, rode them, narrowed it down to these two for my personal choice... interested in others thoughts on these two models though from folk actually using them... 

Here are the responses I got back... 

I've had the KTM LC4 640 supermoto, same chassis engine gearing... It shaked allot! My hands went numb after 80km! Single cylinder engine also didn't like long hard ridings, boiled over several times. Now i have the older africa twin (93) and this is much comfier. But i sure miss the accelerating power, sound and weight of that LC4!
I tour with my buddy on his 690 and me on my 640 for many 2-4 day trips. So far he has spent many thousands more to make his bike as capable for touring as mine is and he is getting close. Here is my opinion.
640 Pro's- range is built in at 400+ Km's. Suspension on the 640 is superior to the 690 and. Sub frame is built for panniers and bags. The 640 weighs a bit more but I have gone places where he has trouble (but that is probably rider ability)

Pro's for the 690 would be more power and fuel economy. That's about it

My boyfriend has the 690 and he loves it... Just watch the air filter box! He rode through the Simpson desert and by the time he got back, his engine was dusted with sand in the oil. We now know of 4 bikes with the exact same problem, people are cable tying their air boxes down or re-bolting them which is ridiculous imo on such an expensive machine. His seat has now also broken.. Plastic snapped. He still loves it and it is a great fun bike to ride... But he's not sure if he'll take it on our south America - Alaska trip due to all the issues.
Checkout 690south here on FB. He chronicles his trip through C. & S. America on his 690. Seems to be a strong bike, but a troublesome top end.

690. 65k km and going strong.
Changed the fuel pump and 1 set of rockers.

A 690 engine on a 640 frame could be great smile emoticon

690 Rally, best of both worlds. 690 with a Carby. There are 300 of them out there somewhere.
My son and I rode from Alaska to Terra de Fuego together. Against my advice he chose the 640. It defined the trip causing us to divert to every big city along the way either to pick up parts or repairs for his bike. Starter clutch, carburetor issues etc. the one positive thing I will say about is it kicked my GS ass off road!!
If you got a really cheap 690 and do mods mates even change the wiring loom £500 a hard choice
Was in the same dilemma. Went with 690 and nv looked back. 3 years on and 79k km she is still running fine. No fuel pump issues yet, just sent her for a servicing changing all the seals, gaskets and piston ring.
That's a good debate. I owned a KTM950 before buying the 690. The 950 was great, but it was a bit too heavy for me when the going gets rough. Also, the carbs can really be a chore to get set properly and manage. I've had the 690 for a year now. I completely redid my bike with the KTM Basel rally replica kit. It takes a LOT of effort to make the bike really ready for an adventure trip, but it's a great compromise once you have it all together. The bike is really light even with the rally kit on it. I take mine everywhere. It was great riding up to 13K feet in Colorado this past September and not having to worry about whether the bike would run at altitude. The FI really did work where carbed bikes sometimes struggle. I carry a spare fuel pump and filter along with all the tools needed to change out the pump in the event of a failure. The other thing that goes south on the 690 are the rocker arms. I carry spares of those as well. This is a known flaw that KTM is starting to address with a new head design in the latest 690 Dukes. By the way, that new engine design has an extra balancer in the head. Reports are that you cannot even tell that it is a single, and it puts out something like 94 horses. Crazy stuff. If they or Husky ever put that engine in an Enduro bike, that will be great.

Oh, I rode through Colorado in a small group which included a good friend on his 640. That bike did the same route without any problems at all. Yes, the bike is more vibey than the newer 690 thumper, but the 640 is a great bike.

With both bikes, understand that they are more Ferrari than Chevy. Like all KTMs I've ever seen, they like to run and run fast. They hate to sit in stop-n-go traffic. And, I think a good KTM owner is someone who is also a decent mechanic . . . or close friends with someone who is. 


640A pros:
Comes ready with the big tank and fairing
Strong subframe for luggage
Simple (even has a kick start)

640 cons:
Vibrations. I grew up on a '94 DR650 (before they became "civilized") so I am used to them.
Service intervals: valves every 3K miles - easy to do but a hassle nonetheless. Also, depending on how far you go, you will need to be doing water pump rebuild every 25K miles or so.
Older bike so some delays in finding parts, at least in the US.
690 pros:
A hooligan bike! Lots of power.
Fuel injection: if your route takes you through large altitude differences the FI works great, while with a carb you might have to do manual adjustments.

690 cons:
Small tank and no fairing. You can kit it for longer range but it is expensive.
The seat is really a dirt seat and I would not want to be on it for long. Might be able to correct this with aftermarket options.

My advice: take a 640A for a ride. If you don't mind the vibration, you have an overlander right there

The more recent 690s have the electrics well sorted - but to make them into in a suitable adv bike you need to bolt a fairing, some extra tanks and racks on them - few great kits about. A 640 Adv comes with this out of the box, but finding a good one might be difficult. The 640 does vibrate quite a lot. Oh the standard seat on a 640 is a lot more comfortable that one on the 690.

A built up 690 will be the better bike though. Maybe check out Husky 701 - same as the 690, but I think it has better suspension out of the box.


Pros & Cons Summary 


690                                                                    640
  1. Lightweight                                              1. Steel frame
  2. Brilliant off road                                       2. Ready to go
  3. Fuel economy                                          3.  Big fuel tank
  4. Fuel Injection at altitude                           4. Comfy saddle                     

  1. Rockers arms are crap                            1. Valve service is 3000 miles
  2. Fuel pump/filter needs to be carried         2. Water pump rebuild 25000 miles
  3. Earth's often break                                  3. KTM race bike engine
  4. Expensive to upgrade to RTW level         4. Vibration
  5. Seat an enduro brick                              
  6. Possible main bearing issue
  7. KTM race bike engine
  8. Small tank until upgraded

So from all these comments I get that both bikes have their problems, both can be unreliable on some bikes and both can do lots of miles without any issues. A little bit of pot luck in other words!

Overall though the opinion seems to support the 690, is that because less people have ridden the 640 or because the 690 is the most popular bike around at the moment?

Who knows... it's time to go ride both of them and make a decision though... you pays your money, you make your choice and all that!

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Scrambles, Trials and Motorbiking in the good old days and the modern days!

Last week I went along to watch the Bassenthwaite Club trial at Longlands. This trial was amazing to me for 2 reasons...The first being that I love exploring the fells around the Longlands area, which has fantastic expanses of open fell and a valley bottom called Trusmadoor - can't get better than that! This trial to me is what it's all about - getting out on the open fell and exploring whilst enjoying some harder rocky and technical sections. And the second reason is it being a trial organised by a club that my Dad rode with for many years.
Steve enjoying the view
Transition between the sections at Longlands

Section in a riverbed on the open fell
Steve looking back to see how its done by the experts!

I have total respect for riders like Toni Bou who can do some amazing things with their bikes jumping on top of blocks and doing tricks but my personal preference is watching trials out in the cold, open air on rough and often slippery ground. Maybe it's because this is what I grew up with and it is the other reason I enjoyed the Longlands Trial so much. I do sometimes wonder where the sport will go and as bikes get more specialised more and more stunts will be pulled. I do hope though that we don't lose some of the traditional events as they have a very different feel.
The Longlands Trial is what I would describe as a classic Trials event, the kind of event that my Dad rode back in the 60's and 70's. My dad, Raymond Nixon was one of the founding members of Bassenthwaite Trials and Motorcross Club and has very fond memories of his times spent riding trials. To me he is a bit of a legend...but I can say that - he is my Dad after all.

My Dad, Raymond Nixon cleaning a section in the good old days!

Scrambling or what we would now call motorcross

I have many fond memories of growing up around dad coming home from work dripping wet in his yellow oilskins, the smell of engine oil lingering on his hands, a double garage full of 'bits' and my first off road experience on the back of his Honda which lasted a total of 2 seconds as he set off up a steep hill and I promptly slid off the back!

They were fun days and it amazes me that I didn't start to ride earlier than I did. I don't have very clear memories of my dad's competing days as I was too young. But I will never forget the cabinet in our lounge full of about 40 silver trophies that came out every year to be polished. Anyway that's enough of that - my Dad is quite a reserved man!

Whilst looking through all of my Dad's paperwork I have found some great photos and memorabilia. There are some programmes from the Scottish Six Days of which Ray Nixon is there high up on the entrants list and he has told me many tales about riding over the Pap of Glencoe. I also found lots of score sheets, some of which I have scanned in and you may not be able to see that clearly on here. The comments on one of the results sheets from the E.V.Howarth Trophy Trial held on the 13th October 1974 is too good to leave out. It is below but not very easy to read, so this is what it says:

"I would like to apologise to all observers who arrived to find their services were not required, especially the two ladies, one had left her ironing and the other who wanted to go back to bed. If they want assistance in either field I will offer my services. Providing I can get both jobs done before 10 am."

Results from the EV Howarth Trophy Trial
Results - R Nixon 3rd!

Scottish Six Days Programme 1972 - the year my sisiter was born!

At the Longlands Trial there was one guy riding a 50 year old bike, I didn't get his name but I did get the chance to take a picture and have a quick chat. He told me that these old bikes are just as good at the modern ones. That made me laugh as my Dad always has a bit of a joke about my fancy "orange" bike... "we didn't have all that suspension and fancy hand guards in my day - just some good boots and oil skins"

Its great to see a classic bike at a modern event

Bikes and vans back in the 60's

One thing I do regret is not starting to ride earlier, butI think my mother might have had something to do with that - after all my dad broke a lot of bones and has a pin in his leg but still never regretted his riding. However, if only I had started young I might just be a little better than I am just don't bounce the same when you are older! Anyway maybe one day - when I can manage to kick start a trials bike on my own I'll actually enter a trial as it looks like a whole lot of fun and the feeling of freedom as you ride across the fell on a true adventure to the next section is something that I want to do. I really hope these classic trials are allowed to continue for a long time and so thank you to all the landowners and organisers who give up their land and time.

Me on the Sherco

Trying to work out how to get the front wheel up!

Bassenthwaite & DMC  
Fellside Auto Club 

Trials Central has a definitive list of clubs HERE

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Bassenthwaite Trials Club: Longlands Trial

What a finish to the Christmas period...

Bassenthwaite Club were running their trial at Longlands Fell. Lucy & I decided to go; Me to ride, her to wander on the fells and practice her navigation for an upcoming mountain leadership qualification. About 50+ riders had turned up as this was also a championship round. 3 laps, 11 sections, miles of hillside transitions between sections! Fab...

Parked up & ready to play!
I signed in at the start, paid my £15.00 entry fee and then waited for the sound of bike engines so I could follow the folk who knew this trial to the start. I got worried when I noticed several had a fuel can strapped onto the bags and a rucsac. A first for a trial I'd been to!

Route to Section 1

The transition to the start was a long trip across the boggy moorland to Longlands and then up the hillside to a stream bed. A collection of about 20 bikes had already gathered and several of the guys were walking their choice of route.

Section 1
I'd booked for the easy route as this is still only my 3rd of 4th trial. This section turned out to be a steep grassy slope climb into the top of the beck, then a short curving climb out of the rocky bed. It didn't look too bad. My attempt however saw me bounce off a little hole and a tuft of grass into the stream at such an odd angle, I decided to bail and try again. Unfortunately everyone else had turned up by then so I just headed to section 2 thinking I'd have a go on the second lap.

Section 2 was away over the fell, into a tight rocky little stream bed.  it was really good and I thought my kind of riding but again, I ended up dabbing my foot but finished it. The experts then had a big rock step in a water fall to climb... it looked and was hard!

Section 2

The harder waterfall
Section 3 was a dryish rocky climb, the hard section went up a steep bank to exit left and required the guys to bounce their bikes for traction, for us novice types it was a straight forward bounce up the little rocky base into a muddy puddle then climb out. I started OK but soon got bounced off on a slippy round rock and had to dab my foot, being off balance caused me to do same again until eventually I was so far off line I couldn't make the puddle. Another one down!

Section 3, hard climb out left
The next transition was a good 10 minutes of riding across the fells towards the Trusmadoor Valley. My bike decided it was time to start playing up and kept cutting out, not a place to be left out in the wilds! I sorted it out and got it started again, but it didn't feel right, and stalled again as I arrived at Section 4. This turned out to be a great little rocky beck climb with several rock steps in it. I bounced up it but failed at the exit, more foot dabs... and a really tight turn at the top which required the bike to be popped onto its back wheel and spun to the exit direction... something I'm crap at, still I eventually got out, with some help from the scoring guy! 

Section 4
Section 5 was up a lot of steep grassy slopes and I gave up even trying to get there after nearly 10 mins of sliding around, so heading direct to section 6. En route I fell in a bog, got soaked and had to drag a nearly drowned bike out. Not great, at least no one saw me so I saved the piss taking for another day! I got the poor old Sherco started and headed off, loving the views of Overwater and out to the Solway.

So section 6 was a narrow mud trail then into the beck for more rocky sections... I  bounced off again and ended with a walk up the last big rock step.

Looking towards the Solway Coast

I was now cold, wet and feeling very sore so decided to head towards the next one and see how I felt then. I got so far round and decided that between the bike running badly, my awful riding, plus aching all over it was time to head back to the van. So I did just that... Rhubarb tart & tea time!

My trials riding is utterly rubbish, but I love doing it and better still I get to ride around the fells and see the great scenery from a different perspective. There are, as always generally with the biking fraternity, some really genuine good people who will chat and laugh and talk about all kinds of things, they help each other out and just get on with it... The way things should be.

So time to clean all the bikes and do a service now as Lucy & I were out the day before this in Northumberland on the KTM's and that was a mild epic too! 2 drowned biked and a long towing session for one of the team, neither of us I'm glad to say!

Lucy wandered around the sections and took a load of pictures, (with a very happy Labrador who loves trials bikes as she knows she's out on the fells for awhile when they start up!), so she'll add something soon.

Trials loving labrador
Transition sections on open fell
She's now shopping for her own trials bike, a little 125 is her preferred, but maybe a 250!!