Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Beta 290 2010 - Linkage & Rear Shock Bearings Replacement

Well, it's been months since I took my little trials bike out for a play, so when I did I wasn't too surprised to see the rear end looking a bit saggy and forlorn. When I tugged at the rear lifting strap there was a telltale easy lift before the weight of the bike was felt and a definite sloppy feel to the whole back end. I rode it for an hour on my little play area but it all felt so slack so I wheeled it back into the garage and left it sit until I have just found the time to sort it... This full time working lark really interferes with riding time!! ;-)

So after finding out the entire rear end bearings set is around £200 ish, give or take, I thought I'd find out what actually needs replacing before I splashed the cash!

Being lazy at the moment, I didn't bother to clean the bike so everything is a bit grubby, but that just means I can clean it all as I go and re-grease everything as it gets refitted.

It took awhile to strip things out as all the nuts & bolts are different sizes ranging from a 10mm to a 14mm.

The steps I've done are;
1. Pop the bike on a stand & remove the rear wheel
2. Remove the tail guard
3. Remove the rear shock mudguard
4. Remove the right footpeg
5. Undo all the nuts & bolts on the rear linkage
6. Undo and remove the rear shock
7. Remove the rear linkage.

At this point I checked the swing arm bearings for any play, they were fine so I will leave them for this time. But the rear linkage is shot and the top bearing on the shock is also knackered, so I've taken them out, with a little help from a very heavy mallet and a vice!

Everything has clearly been in there a long time and gone both dry and rusty, so no wonder it's feeling a bit saggy.

Ordering the parts...

The Splat Shop sell the parts as a kit for £151.00, this is a full replacement kit. You can buy the individual spherical bearings, (12x22x12) for the Beta rear shock from here too for around £20

BVM Moto sell a kit which is missing the short ends to the bushes, I'd guess this is because these don't get as much wear and so can be re-used, their kit is £109.00

I found plenty of other sites, but you have to trawl through loads of pages of parts to find what you are after, this is very slow and time consuming and you need to know the sizes of things, so I'm going to go with the BVM kit as I hadn't really planned for this expenditure this month!

Once this lot comes I'll reassemble it all and hopefully have the bike running sweet for the charity trial that is being held on October 29th around the Melmerby area.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

KTM 350 EXC-f - 2012 Servicing Stuff

With just being back from 3 months of riding time, with very minimal servicing, it was time to give the bike an overhaul. Both of the 350's have performed faultlessly over that time, with the only issues being clogged fuel filters and a couple of wheel bearings wearing out.

The 2012 is going to need a top end rebuild shortly I feel, but I want to ride until the end of the summer, so have decided to adjust the valves and service everything.

The jobs in this post will be:
1. Oil/Filter change
2. Air filter change
3. Brakes - Pads change
4. Front brake master cylinder service
5. Bleeding the brakes - Front & Rear+

Oil & Filter Change.
On this bike, there is one paper oil filter & 2 filter screens to be changed/cleaned. The specified oil is 10w/50 fully synthetic, at 1.2 litre for a full change. (You can use 10w/60 and I have done in the past, but have swapped back to this these days). I've read a lot about oils over the years and the simplest thing I've found is to buy the best you can afford but change the oil regularly. In the UK 1 litre of oil is around £15.00, the paper oil filter is about £3.50, (but you don't need to change the paper filter every time if you're a light user of your bike).

The process is simpler on this bike than the older 400, mainly because there is now only one paper filter. I've listed the steps I do below;

Tools for this are a 13mm ring spanner/socket, 8mm ring spanner/socket,circlip pliers, oil drain tub, medium sized funnel, some old cloths and a small torch.

1. Start the bike and warm it up for a couple of minutes to circulate the oil and make the viscosity and little thinner. It also moves any crap around into the oil that has settled to the bottom of the engine whilst it's been standing.
2. Remove the belly pan
3. Open the oil filler cap on the right side of the engine
4. Position the cloths and oil drain tub underneath the bike, take the 13mm spanner and locate the nut on the chain side of the bike at the bottom of the engine, facing the rear wheel. This has a magnetic tip on the inner pointy bit.
5. Crank this open and remove. Once it's out and in your hands, before you clean it, check it for metal deposits and the colour of the oil. There should be a copper washer on it to, you'll need this later on. Clean it once you'ce checked it over.
6. Leave the bike to drain for at least half an hour
7. Undo the oil screens, remove them, clean them, check their O rings, replace as necessary, then return them back into their slot. Check your manual for the torque settings for these.
8. Undo the two nuts holding the cap in place for the paper oil filter. they are 8mm. Take these out and ease the cap off, there is an O ring in the cap, so be careful not to damage it. I remove the paper filter with a set of circlip pliers. Once it's out, I clean the hole inside of old oild and check the whole thing for damage. Leave it to drain.
9. I clean all around the engine whilst I'm waiting for the oil to drain, especially the bottom part around the oil drain hole.
10. Check the copper washer isn't damaged on the oil drain nut, then return it to it's home and tighten it carefully. Do not overtighten this, if you thread this  you will have a much bigger job on your hands! Check your manaual for the torque settings again.
11. Replace the paper filter, put a smear of fresh oil onto the rubber seal of the paper filter before you pop it into the casing, press it home carefully. Replace the filter metal cap and again be very careful not to over tighten the 8mm bolts.
12. Fill up a container with 1.2 litres of fresh oil, I rest the funnel between the engine casing and the kick start, then pour the oil into the engine slowly.
13. Once it's all in, I pop the oil filler cap back on and let the oil settle for 5 minutes. I then start the engine and let it warm up. It takes time for the paper filter to soak in the fresh oil. Once the engine has warmed, I turn it off and let the oil settle again, then stand the bike upright and check the oil level in the sighting glass below the rear brake pedal. If it's about half way then it's done, if it's low then I add a tiny bit more through the filler cap, but being very careful not to over fill as then you'll need to drain any excess.

That's it, oil change done!

Air Filter Change
Changing the air filter regularly makes a huge difference to the power of the engine, the life of the engine and your fuel economy. It's an often overlooked area, but it really does save you money in the long term.

You can buy pre-oiled sponge filters or oil your own, the prices vary between £12 to £30 dependant upon several factors as always. Pre oiled ones are more expensive. The filter oil is about £8 a can and does loads of filters. For me, I buy the unoiled ones and oil them myself, you need to be a bit proactive with this as they need time to drain. If you have too much oil on them, it gets into the fuel system and clogs it up.

There are loads of videos about the process on YouTube.

Most of the time I don't bother to clean them, I just oil a new one and use that. But if I'm running low on cash or if I'm out on a bigger trip then I'll do the cleaning job.

The process is easy and you don't need any tools really.

1. Remove the air box cover
2. Unhook the double wire and open it up
3. Pull out the air filter, do this gently as it rests on the inside edge of the air box on some plastic lugs.
4. Take the foam air filter off the plastic case by pulling off the corners and taking the central male/female part out.
5. Clean or discard as you see fit.
6. Check and clean the mesh on the plastic guard
7. Remount the clean & oiled filter
8. Replace it back into the air box making sure it sits flat on the lip of the air box intake.
9. Re-hook the wire, there is a middle male/female bit in the central part that needs to be popped into the central hole in the air filter.
10. Re-fit the airbox cover

Air filter change done!

Brake Pads Changed
The pads on both the rear and the front are pretty simple to change. I generally take the calipers off to inspect the whole set up as well, but if you're just changing the pads, then there is generally no need to remove the rear caliper as the pads will slot right in with it in-situe. For the front though, you need to take it off.

Brake pads come in two types, sintered and organic. The sintered pads are really good for road use where you're braking hard to peal off speed, the need heat to build up to make them work well. For trail riding the organic pads work better as they are a little softer and require less heat to make them work better. They also have the added bonus of not wearing out the softer discs on a modern dirt bike so quick, which ultimately saves you some cash!

Front Caliper
Tools needed are a 10mm socket, a long handled flat headed screwdriver, a pair of cutters, a pair of bottle nosed pliers, an old toothbrush and some copper slip grease.

Again, the process is pretty simple.

1. Cut the cable tie holding the speed sensor cable in place
2. Undo the 2 x 10mm bolts holding the caliper to the fork stanchion
3. Ease the caliper off the brake disc. (You may have to use the long handled screwdriver to prise the pads apart a little).
4. There should be two split pins holding the pads in place, ease these off with the bottle nosed pliers and the pads should then just drop out into your hand.
5. Make sure the pistons and inside face of the caliper are clean and not damaged. Use an air tool to blow any crap out if you have one and if not, use a toothbrush to clean around the piston edges etc.
6. Make sure the pistons are retacted all the way, then smear two thin circular patches of copper slip onto the back side of the pads about where the piston will touch. (This reduces the squeal you can get from your brakes). In some cases there may be a seperate piece of steel plate between the pads and the pistons, if so clean this and put it onto the new pads, then put a smear of copper slip onto the piston side of the plate.
Be very careful not to get grease on the braking pad and clean your hands before trying to remount the pads.
7. Slide the pads into the guiding slots in the caliper, the pads will only fit well when the end without the pin holes in it are seated correctly.
8. Slide the cleaned pin back into place to hold the pads into the caliper, pop the retaining spring clips back into place, then spread the pads apart as far as they'll go with the screwdriver, do this gently so as not to damage the pad material.
9. Remount the caliper onto the disc, bolt it back up, check the torque settings.
10. Now replace the cable tie around the plastic body of the speed sensor cable, trim the extra off.
11. Pump the brake lever on the handlebar several times to make sure the pads are seated against the disc.

Rear Caliper
1. Spread the pads apart with the screwdriver
2. Pull the two split pins out of the retaining pin with the pliers
3. Slide the pads out of the caliper & discard
4. Make sure the pistons are retacted all the way, then smear two thin circular patches of copper slip onto the back side of the pads about where the piston will touch. (This reduces the squeal you can get from your brakes). In some cases there may be a seperate piece of steel plate between the pads and the pistons, if so clean this and put it onto the new pads, then put a smear of copper slip onto the piston side of the plate.
Be very careful not to get grease on the braking pad and clean your hands before trying to remount the pads.

5. Slide the pads into the guiding slots in the caliper either sde of the disc, the pads will only fit well when the end without the pin holes in it are seated correctly. There is a spring sheet that helps to get this in place on the top of the caliper.
6. Slide the cleaned pin back into place to hold the pads into the caliper, pop the retaining spring clips back into place.

8. Pump the foot brake lever several times to make sure the pads are seated well against the disc.

Servicing the Front Brake Master Cylinder  
Periodically the rubber seals on the master cylinder pump degrades and then allows air to pass into the master cylinder and the rest of the brake system. KTM have a kit for this, so you just buy the kit and replace the parts, then bleed the brakes and it's sorted.

Tools needed are 10mm socket +ring spanner, circlip pliers, Dot 4 brake fluid, cloths.

To change it out, you'll need to do the following;

1. Remove the two screws in the top of the master cylinder cap, do this gently as they are very soft.
2. Use a rag and soak up the brake fluid in the reservoir
3. Take the brake lever off and it's rubber cover.
4. Take the handlebar bracket off and lift the MC off the handlebar, you probably have to loosen off your throttle a little to get at the bolts.
5. Pull the rubber boot off the inside face of the MC carefully and catch the spring underneath
6. Study the seating of the circlip to make sure you know it's correct location, then remove the circlip from the inside face
7. Pull out the plunger and spring from the inside of the MC body.
8. Clean every part of the MC casing.
9. Open up the replacement parts, lay them next to the old parts and check they are the same.
10. Wipe some clean Dot 4 brake fluid around the seals on the plunger O rings and the shaft to lubricate the whole thing. (If there is some lube with your kit use this instead).
11. Insert the spring and the shaft into the MC, then ease the circlip into place. Check this is seated correctly.
12. Replace the outer spring and the rubber boot.
13. Remount onto the handlebars, do not overtighten the bolts because if you thread them you have another job to sort out.
13. Remount the brake lever and the rubber boot
14. Bleed the brake system through - (See below)

Bleeding the Front Brake
This is an annual job for me or anytime I feel the brakes aren't working well. It's a job that a lot of people have problems with, mostly because of a lack of being slightly anal about the process and also because they leave the caliper drain plug open a bit when they release/pump the brake lever. Take your time, check every stage, clean everything, use clean/fresh brake fluid and if necessary get someone to help you with the brake lever, but be very clear with the instructions of when and how to do things.

Tools needed are an 8mm ring spanner, Dot 4 brake fluid, cloths, a length of clear plastic hose & a jam jar.

1. Make sure the bike is upright and the brake master cylinder is level.
2. Remove the dust cap from the bleed nipple and put the 8mm ring spanner on it carefully. This is another soft metal part, so don't damage the hex shape by being heavy handed and make sure the spanner fits well.
3. Place the plastic hose onto the nipple trapping the spanner in place, the hose should be a tight fit, the loose end of the hose goes into a plastic jar on the floor. It doesn't really need any fluid in the jar, it's used more to catch the waste.
4. Remove the two screws in the top of the master cylinder cap at the handlebar, do this gently as they are very soft. There is a rubber seal on the inside, be careful with this.
5.  This next bit is where you need to be careful as well, you need to be able to reach the brake lever and the 8mm spanner on the bleed nipple easily. Once you can, press the brake lever into the handlebar, then open the bleed nipple. fluid will come out, close the bleed nipple, then release the brake lever. Make sure you do this in a sequence and try not to go to fast. Continue this until the MC reservoir is about half full.
6. Top up the MC reservoir with fresh fluid.
7. Keep repeating 5 + 6 until the fluid coming out the hose is clean and clear, with no air bubbles in it at all.
8. Once your happy the brake lever has a nice feel to it and the lever is not going back to the bars, then take the hose and spanner off the bleed nipple and clean the whole area with a rag before replacing the dust cap.
9. Replace the MC cap with the fluid near the top of the viewing glass and tighten the cap screws up gently making sure the rubber seal is in place.
10. Roll the bike around and pull the brake lever several times, the forks should dive and the bike should feel smooth on the brakes. If not repeat the whole process again.

NB: If you've replaced the MC piston and internals, you may need to leave the lever compressed against the handle bars with a cable tie overnight. This allows the rubber seals to swell as they soak up some brake fluid. They then work much better and the brake system will bleed through much easier the next day.

Bleeding the Rear Brake
Again another annual job for me, actually easier to do than the front as you're right next to everything. the Master Cylinder sits behind the right footpeg and the bleed nipple faces the rear shock.

Tools needed are the KTM ring spanner for the cap on the MC, (it's an odd size and this is made forthe job), 8mm ring spanner, Dot 4 brake fluid, cloths, a length of clear plastic hose & a jam jar.

1. Make sure the bike is level and all the work areas are clean.
2. Take the cap off the rear MC, lift it out being careful not to damage the large rubber boot on the inside. Clean it and check the O ring on it.
3. Remove the dust cap from the bleed nipple and put the 8mm ring spanner on it carefully. This is another soft metal part, so don't damage the hex shape by being heavy handed and make sure the spanner fits well.
4. Place the plastic hose onto the nipple trapping the spanner in place, the hose should be a tight fit, the loose end of the hose goes into a plastic jar on the floor or a box. It doesn't really need any fluid in the jar, it's used more to catch the waste.
5. Press the foot pedal down until it stops
6. Open the bleed nipple and let the fluid come out
7. Close the bleed nipple
8. Release the pedal, wait for the sytem to move fluid around, then repat the proces of 5/6/7. You can hear the fluid move. If you do this too fast the pedal will not do anything, so take your time and get a feel for the process.
9. Repeat this until the fluid runs clear and you can see no air bubbles coming out of the clear hose.
10. Make sure the MC is full, leaving a tiny bubble of air in the viewing glass, then reseal the MC with the screw on lid and use the KTM spanner to gently tighten it up. The rubber boot will take up a lot of space in the tiny MC.
11. Pump the brake pedal a few times to makle sure it feels good and then start the bike and take it for a ride to test the brake, it should work well and smoothly. If not repeat the whole process until you're happy with the feel of the brake.

OK that's the lot for now, next up with be valve clearances...


Saturday, 19 August 2017

Trans Euro Trail - Summary Round Up...

These were written as we were still travelling, so are our feelings at the time. We’re now back in the UK and doing the laundry, servicing bikes and planning a four day trip as neither of us will have any work in the very near future!

We set out with high hopes for riding the Trans Euro Trail and to be fair, the trail as a whole has been fabulous. Well done to John Ross and the team for all the work they’ve put into it. It is the essence of the ethos of ‘working together’ that has brought the whole thing together in such a short time.

For me personally, the route has been an education as well as an enjoyable bike ride. I’ve seen a lot of countries I hadn’t been to before and because of that I’ve seen a lot of things that have both changed some of my points of view and also cemented some other points of view. I'm really looking forward to see the changes that will happen to the TET as more people get involved and add more information. It'll continue to grow and who knows where it will take us, but one thing is for sure, a lot of people will benefit from this open source information and the trails will see a lot more riders!

Eastern Europe was amazing, the riding was superb, challenging and interesting at the same time. The countries were both a little similar to each other and yet always different. The people were always generous and pleasant, offering help whenever needed or not needed and always happy to see us pass through their country as a visitor and as a rider. Romania & Montenegro were our favorites, with Albania and Bulgaria very close behind. The roads are often dirt roads which are still in use on a daily basis, the pressures of daily life are more basic and people still talk to each other in a friendly way with an open greeting first, then some chat before moving on your way. As an example, we chatted with various shepherds on the hilltops in all these countries and was invited into someone’s hunting hut for coffee as we passed by. Language issues were only a small barrier to just sharing information in a friendly way. Internet access was really easy to find in most places, except Albania, which just doesn’t have the infrastructure as yet. A lot of the journey reminded me of being in Asia or Africa.

Western Europe... The riding was sometimes great, with amazing views and trails, however there seems to be more flatter simpler trails and lots more tarmac roads. More often than not, we drove around in the van on the lanes and spent a lot of time avoiding the extremely busy holiday hotspots, which is understandable at this time of year. Various attempts to chat to shepherds doing the same job as their eastern counterparts was met with either a sullen look or we were just ignored, even the lads on the trials bikes, which seemed petulant at best. I feel Lucy is correct when she says that there are just too many people around and this has left us with the general feeling of being unwelcome in a lot of the areas and left us with a negative impression in general. There is a stark contrast between the friendly, open and positive vibe from the eastern countries and the opposite in the west.

One of the best things we’ve seen in the western sections is something that we think needs to be adopted in the UK. Clear and positive lane management with very clear signage about what is legal and what is not, even good enough for foreigners to understand! (For the most part anyway). Italy, France and Spain have all put in place some very good management processes, information boards for all users with relevant info about restrictions and cautions and relevant signage. An ‘inclusive’ management process instead of an ‘exclusive’ one. From what we saw, the majority of people adhered to the principles as well.

In all of the countries we travelled through, we have had interaction with the police at some point, regular roadblocks, borders, customs etc etc. In almost all of the times these have been positive and even friendly, with the eastern teams waving us through a lot of the time. The western ones included pulling us over off the motorway to check for illegal immigrants/drugs  in one case or just directing us past incidents etc. The Spanish were the worse and the most visible, miserable and sullen as they took money from everyone they stopped, no matter what the cause.

Ironically internet was much harder to find in the western countries too, although when you did find it, it was faster to use.

To end on a positive note, both Lucy and I have aspirations to ride more of the TET, we haven’t travelled much in the northern parts from Hungary upto the Arctic Circle, so maybe when we have some spare time and cash that can be on the agenda. I also still want to ride the Portugal section and of course both of us want to ride around the world for a few years!

Again, a huge debt of thanks is owed to both John Ross and the TET Linesman for their unstinting work and efforts. Lucy & I tried to meet up with a couple as we went by, but for various reasons things never seemed to work out, maybe another time. In the meantime for us, it’s a few days riding in France with some friends around Limoges and it’s surrounding areas, then a return back to the UK with the need to recoup some finances and plan the next bit of riding fun!

Some personal thoughts & questions...
It seems to me that the price of living in a country where things are ‘modern, safe and easy’ is the need to accept the majority opinion of the democratic process, no matter what that is or how biased it may seem to an individual. It also means that the financial setup of that country has to be spread across a lot more areas so things cost more. With the ever increasing regulations to control the ever increasing populations, more ways of taking earned money from the citizens and just more pressure to conform all the time I can fully see why, in the last few years, there have been more British citizens leaving the UK than the immigrants coming to live there. I’d be surprised to find that isn’t the case for several other ‘developed’ European countries too. Maybe history is repeating itself again as more people move south and east to find a more relaxed way of life? Democracy is a great thing, capitalism is a great thing, but at some point they have to be reset to achieve a balance that is fair for all and not just the greediest or the loudest.

A question that does recur in my thoughts as I ride along is ‘Why are so many of the lanes being closed across Europe?’ I think there is more than one answer to this but the two main ones I feel are down to money & security. Borders and in-country security is always a priority for any government and it’s where a fair proportion of each person taxes go without a doubt.. Money, well, that’s on several levels, but governments, local councils & businesses would be the main places. You earn far more money from the skiing industry in one winter than from several years of ‘off road’ folk coming through so who cares if you close that valley piste or that mountain piste so long as you can reap the financial benefits from the influx of tourism in the winter with the bonus that the utter destruction of the hillsides to achieve the desired skiing areas is also covered up by metres of snow for large portions of the year!

All of the countries we passed through also all have some form of huge hydro power systems either being built or already in place. These provide both water and electricity for the ever hungry needs of the growing populations across the earth, plus the income from all this. This is affecting the traditional dirt road infrastructure too, basically removing or limiting them as the valleys are bull dozed and the concrete poured. As mankind develops so our planet pays the price, just when will things hit a crisis point is the question or are we already there?

Phew, that is some serious thinking, I think it’s time to go ride my bike! ;-)

France - A day of random riding!

We ended up driving back into France and heading upto towards Angouleme. The bill for the van repairs had left us short and when we worked out the finances, we decided we'd have to start heading north back to the UK and reality again...

Hey ho, we had one last adventure planned, which was to ride with a friend who lives around that area plus we had a free gaff to doss at for a couple of days! En route we found a great little van selling roast chicken so that was lunch sorted.

We meandered through the Pyrenees, crossing back into France and taking a steady route north. En route we made arrangements to meet up with Mike and go for an exploration ride with some nice coffee and snack stops and stopped at a little hot springs so Lucy could go soak in the sulphuric waters!

The riding day set out following some trails Mike had been on before, he's a good rider and was off at a pace on his home ground trails, leaving Lucy & I trailing behind! Things settled down and we did a 180km loop with lots of new areas and trails, some of which turned out to be dead ends, some of which turned out to ace!

A lovely sardine based BBQ for the evening, along with some wine and that was us for our trip! The drive home was via Caen, where we saw a few refugees floating around, but was on the whole very uneventful, which is a good thing really... 

Trans Euro Trail: The Spanish Pyrenees

We blasted across France to get to the Pyrenees, knowing we can ride in France pretty easily anytime. Our plan was to get over to Portugal with a stop at a friends place near Benidorm and a couple of days riding around the Pyrenees sections.

However, fate and life intervened a bit and so we ended up with only one day of riding, mainly due to the van problems catching up with us...

We met up with some friends of Lucy's at the town of Sort. They were on a paddling & cycling trip, so we parked up and had a beer or two and a gossip, which is always a good thing! The van had another brakes problem on the drive and we'd gone past a garage full of local 4x4's and vans en route, so we'd booked it in to have the oil and the brake fluid changed, the mechanic took one look at the discs and said, no to changing the fluid as the brakes would still be crap, so change the discs, pads, fluid or nowt at all... OK, so we added two rear tyres to the list and effectively the bill was our budget for Portugal, so...

With the van in the garage and the dog in safe hands, we went riding!

The garage guys had a bike and told us about some lanes to a ski resort, this linked to a section of the TET and so a loop was sorted...

We climbed through the forest to the ski resort of Port Annie 2000 from the village of Vilamur, then did a rolling loop to the Pic D'Orrie and a bergerie where we had a coffee and a sandwich. We picked up the TET part of the trail and followed it for about 20km, climbing and rolling down through the forest. It was a little bit of what we'd ridden in the Vince the previous year and close to the Andorran border.

We followed thr trails down through the trees, had a play in the river and the climbed back around past some old ruined villages to get back into the trees. A bit of rain and thunder started here, so we set a pace to complete the loop before we got soaked!

Great riding, plenty of forest stuff but also some great views... We were almost at the road when we spotted some of the military look out posts that are dotted around this area from the war

Riding in the Pyrenees is always good fun, with plenty to see too. This was not a technical ride at all, but it was interesting and as always it was good to be back on the bikes after too much time in the van!

We returned back to the van to find a part was incorrect and we had another 3 hour wait, so we had coffee and chatted with the mechanics before finally paying up and driving away to another riverside campsite.

Where next was the question?