Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Garmin Montana & AMPS mount + ZEN Overland Top Clamp

Lucy has just bought a new bike and decided to upgrade her GPS to a Garmin Montana 650 with the AMPS mount to hold it and power it whilst out on the lanes. I've been using one of these for about a year now and as Lucy & I get closer to our six month long trip, we're just setting the bikes up with this in mind and trying to match things to reduce any extra spares etc...

Garmin Montana - 600/650 & 2017 versions 610/680

AMPS mount for Montana Unit
So, I saw a post on Facebook from Gabe at Zen Overland asking if anybody wanted to test a new design of mount he'd made. It was the bracket to mount the Garmin AMPS mount onto the handlebar bolts in a landscape position. I use the Montana in the portrait position on my bike so asked if he had one that could do this.
Mark 1 version - Landscape only

Mark 2 Version - landscape & portrait
Over a brief conversation it was agreed he'd have a look at it and see what he could come up with. A couple of weeks later I got an FB message from him telling me he'd sorted it out and did I want one to test . So we had a chat, and a few days later this appeared in the post.

mmm Shiny New stuff!

What a beauty this is, so I quickly fitted it to Lucy's bike, remembering to add plenty of thread lock to the original KTM bolts to keep them in place. As I mounted the AMPS cradle I found the wiring was too bulky to sit the cradle into portrait mode, so I've mounted it in landscape for the moment. I sent Gabe some pics but he'd already realised this and had come up with some spacers to resolve the issue. He's sending me some so once they come through I'll fit them and get Lucy's GPS set up how we want it.

Spacers on their way!!

The quality of this bracket is lovely to see and feel. It matches the triple clamps colour as a bonus and sits really nicely onto the handle bars, Lucy is happy as she has a new piece of bling to add to her shiny bike and it looks much nicer than my home made attempt with a sheet of aluminium!! Once we've had it on for a time I'll update this post with anything that crops up but I suspect it'll just sit on the bars now until I have to do the head bearings at some point. Perfect, kit that doesn't need much maintenance!!!

 If you decide you want to add this bit of lovely kit to your bike, you can order them HERE. Speak to Gabe as well as he's really approachable and knows his stuff!

At some point when I get the chance I'll write up something about the GPS units I've used on the bikes, skidoos and various other vehicles and how they faired over time. They've been well abused by me over the years and generally they have all been really reliable. The software behind the scenes has been the issue I've usually found, something which has changed for the better as my knowledge has grown I guess as well.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Mid Wales for the Weekend Anyone??

I was invited to a weekend staying in Rhayader with the Luddon Vale TRF group. The plan, slot into one of their groups and get out on a load of trails for the weekend. Ace!

Lucy was on a course in Shrewsbury Friday night to Monday night, so we drove down and I dropped her off en route, then down to the Lion Royal Hotel in Rhayader to meet up with the guys for a weekend of trails, mud, rivers and laughs in the beautiful Welsh countryside! the lady owner of the hotel was a lass who used to race bikes in her youth, so she's got some stories!!

Day 1.
Saturday morning dawned bright & pretty sunny which was an unexpected bonus, Simon T, our run leader for the day, got us all organised. The day was set up to be a long one, 152 miles in a south easterly loop back towards the English border and Hay on Wye. It soon turned out there were some great riders in the group, fast and slick. Simon had us on the system of leader leads, tail ender sweeps, rest do the gates, of which there are a fair few. This both used the time best and maintained the rhythm.


There was a good mix of lanes for the day, long high lanes with some great views, hillsides and villages peeking through the clouds down below. We saw plenty of Black and Red Kites often circling on thermals around us and a few Buzzards were seen floating around serenely above everything. After these gems we always dropped back down into the valleys heading through woodland, fields and onto those often hidden byways that run around the quiet little villages.

As the day wore on and the miles disappeared under our tyres, we all settled into the day, we had more of a laugh with each other as we got to chat about our backgrounds and lives. The camaraderie of trail riding is one of the more precious things and for me personally I've developed some great friendships because of it.

Trail riding is much harder than road riding, by a long way, and the difficulties overcome help people to bond and get to know one another. People are measured by their riding skill and attitude first, the bling comes after this and all the rest of the gubbings of life in a first world country fall away as your mind focuses on the task at hand and trying not to fall over again! This is what draws people to the trails, coupled with the enjoyment of the countryside and just being out on the hills with your bike. People who only drive a car on tarmac and never get dirty will never understand that sense of freedom that riding a motorbike can give to you. it's either a passion or not I guess as with all things.

Lunch was sandwiches in a petrol garage, clean the goggles time and stock up on chocolate for the afternoon part. The sun was still shining and the day was great. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else when the UK weather is being good!

We managed 126 miles of the route, mainly as we had set off well after 9am and it was dark by 5.30pm, if we'd have set off at 8am it would have been finished, but hey ho, it's a reason to go back again now!!

That night was meant to be a night in the hotel having a classic roast dinner, but I fed and walked the dog who was with me for the weekend, then did that fatal thing of 'just having a ten minute nap' and woke up at 10.30pm! Thereby missing dinner and I then couldn't be bothered to go for a beer.. shocker!!

Day 2 was 'Head West' time so we set off over to the Strata Florida via a few lanes. This was mostly a route I've done before, so I was more relaxed about the riding for some reason. We followed the same process, leader, tail ender etc, with everybody now into the groove but feeling tired after the rigours of the previous day. We had a couple of silly off's at the start, tyres caught 'cross rutted' and a little lack of attention but nobody or their bike was hurt so we carried on.

The Strata proved to be the lowest I've seen it so far, despite the rain of the day. So pretty straight forward and we were through it in less than an hour. Unfortunately for me I picked up a puncture in the front tyre. I seem to be having a spate of these at the moment!

So as not to hold the group up, (all of whom were on Mousses and Tubliss setup's), I opted to drop out so they could carry on and not get cold whilst waiting for me. Once we got to the road head, I found a convenient log pile to make a stand and whipped out the front wheel.

As I was changing the tube, a couple of cars went by and a welsh lad on a beautiful old 750 version of the Honda Africa Twin stopped to have a chat and make sure I was OK which was much appreciated.

Once I was sorted I got back on the bike and headed out on tarmac to the Beulah, where there is a fuel stop, I picked up fuel and removed the branch from my back wheel that one of the locals pointed out to me as we chatted and laughed about the lanes and the rain in Wales. Once back on the road, I picked up the original route and as I knew the lanes were pretty benign I jumped back on to the lanes whilst heading back to Rhayader and the van/dog!

Another fabulous weekend of trail riding, lots of great folk, all of whom had loads of tales to tell about their exploits, the fun and games of their days and routes. Hopefully I'll be able to reciprocate the welcome at some point in the future and also get to ride with some of the team again...

Beta 290 Evo 2010 (Two Stroke) - Some basics for a service

I've been after one of these for a little while now, (since I used one on the Inch perfect training day Lucy bought for me last year), and this one came up at the right time from a guy called Paul Bealey, who's a dealer and was happy to take both my Sherco & the Gas Gas in part exchange for this bike.

I drove down to his place near Skipton and looked the bike over, it's not been serviced or particularly well fettled but the engine was strong and felt 'right'. It's got good tyres, the suspension and bearings all seemed good so we did the deal and I drove off with my first ever Beta and left behind Lucy's 125 & my lovely Sherco. It has to be said I was sorry to see the Sherco go, it's been a great bike and I've learnt a lot because of it.

Beta 290 Evo 2010
Once back home, the Beta got put to one side for the weekend as I was off to Wales for some green lane action with a group of lads from down south, I did manage 10 minutes on it once the van was loaded and it's a feisty wee bike to say the least! It also died and wouldn't restart which left me something to ponder over the weekend.

I'm now back home and have taken off the plastics and started to have a good look around it. You can see where some bodge repairs have been made to the grills that protect the air box and there are a couple of small cracks that will need some attention. The whole bike needs a bit of TLC & a good service, so research time!

I found both the owners manual  and the spare parts manual online which helps a lot and will hopefully provide a good start point for all the little things you find with all bikes.

The Splat Shop as always has some great tips and helpful advice re the Keihin PWK 28 carb plus all the spares needed to keep it sweet. Easily one of my favourite shops to use for all things trials!

2009/2010 models use the following bits in their Keihin PWK 28 carb according to Beta...

Needle & clip position - JJH, 4th position from top
Needle Jet - this lies below the main jet and falls out when you upend the carb. (NB: if it's not positioned correctly the bike runs really badly apparently!)
Main Jet - 125
Idle/Pilot Jet - 48
Slide - 3.5
Mixture screw 2.5 turn open

Here is the notes for setting the float height from the Splat Shop blog.

There is also a note on Trials Central about changing the reeds to Boyesen Reeds, I know a mate whose done this but not sure why at the moment, so will find out some more...

Two stroke oil mix ratio on the paperwork is 1.5%, I've been told on a forum to put 70ml of Putoline oil in for every 5 litres mixed, so as the old spark plug was pretty oily I'll try this and see where it goes for now.

- Transmission oil is 20w40 according to the manual. (NB: There is a window on the engine case for the right amount but I haven't found a specific amount as yet). I rang Inch Perfect Trials for thetake on this and they use Silkolene Pro SRG 75 at 500ml per bike. these are their stock training bikes as well, so they get well used.

- Dot 4 for the brake and clutch fluids
- SAE 5 for the fork oil - don't know the amount as yet.
- Spark plugs are NGK BR7ES with a gap of 0.5 to 0.6mm

Coolant seems to be pretty specific for these bikes, the manual states 'Bardahl Permanent Coolant' at 600ml, when I searched for this, it turns out to be a coolant that is not mixed with ionised water as normal but 100% coolant specifically designed to not interact with magnesium casings.

When I drained the radiator, there was a pink coloured fluid in it and plenty of floating black bits, which I'm hoping are aged related and have developed over time rather than the possible degradation of any water pump seals, time will tell I guess.

According to Martin at MHB Motorcycles in Kirby Stephen the molecules in the coolant vibrate and cause holes in the magnesium engine casing which then allows external water into the engine and knackers the engine given enough time. So I've to find a magnesium stable coolant and pop that into the radiator. It also lasts a long time so that's a good thing!

I've found this stuff at a website called www. powerenhancer.co.uk after a chat on Trails Central: Link HERE - £14.40 including postage for 5 litres, so we'll see how that goes. this turned out to not be the correct one it appears so I think this is the correct stuff, this has taken some finding!! Bardahl Permanent Coolant. It comes from Italy and seems to be the only supplier I can find on the web.

On the Bardahl website there is a good explanation of their types of coolant HERE

An important comment I received from a guy on the Trials Central forum is:

''http://www.smithandallan.com/products/transport-antifreeze-and-coolant/2731-smith-and-allan-long-life-anti-freeze-antifreeze/ is OK in Betas''

''The pink VAG / Comma long life stuff does not suit Betas, it leaves deposits in water pump and seems to react with non OAT coolants''. 

When I filled the radiator though after flushing it through, it only took 500ml to the bend in the neck of the radiator, so I'll run the bike a bit and just double check it.

Update no.3: 23/02/2017
So there is some new coolant in the radiator. the spark plug is new, all the carb bits have now been fitted, the bike started first time, (revved a bit high because I'd trapped the throttle cable, muppet moment), so now it's wait for the gearbox oil to finish off the job. She's running sweet so it's time to take her out for a play...

Happy days!!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

KTM 400 EXC 2002 - Keihin FCR39 Carb Issue

So my lovely little KTM just threw a hissy fit and started leaking from the overflow pipe on the bottom of the carb float bowl. When I first got this bike, I had to strip the whole thing down and rejet it, change all the seals and then set it up, it took awhile but since then it has been superb, with the engine always just right and better than any injected bike I've ridden to date. 

A simple fix I thought at first, strip it, clean it, rebuild it and hey presto. However since I did all of the above and it still leaked, I then looked at the settings and bought in a couple of new bits from Eurotek in Ripon, namely a seal for the float bowl and a replacement float needle. Once I fitted these I set about cleaning the float bowl again which is when I noticed the overflow pipe in the centre of the bowl was wobbly.

A bit of further inspection noted that it was actually cracked at its base, where it entered the alloy body of the float bowl. This was the actual cause of the leak and I've both never seen or heard of this before, so something new!

Some internet research took me to the Facebook group for KTM in the UK, a couple of helpful lads pointed me in the direction of KTMTalk, a US online forum for all things KTM, however the virus software on my computer won't let me open this as it hasn't been set up safely apparently, so I have no idea how useful it is at the moment. Further searches found me some more info though such as the part number for the non overflow float bowl, which isn't in my KTM parts manual for some reason and a full PDF of the carb and all the part numbers.

In the UK, I was also recommended to talk to Allens Performance in Nottingham, so I've emailed them too, along with FrankMX & JetsRUs, both of whom are in the US. JetsRUs appear to be having staffing problems and replied pretty quickly with the following: ''we have stopped international for the current time due to being under staffed sorry''. Tomorrow as it's a Monday, I'll try the UK KTM shops but I suspect that will be expensive, still it's gonna potentially be cheaper than a replacement carb whcih seem to be running between £500 - £1100 from what I've seen so far! I've been told they have to be ordered from Japan which takes awhile so we'll see.

JetRUs PDF: HERE. Part number is: Float Bowl Horizontal 1050-886-2100 021-264

I also found a discussion on ThumperTalk about whether or not the overflow is actually needed, but there was no real resolution to the discussion and as it was 6 years ago now, I doubt there will be! There were however pics of a version without the overflow at all.

So I'm now left with 3 options:
1. Hunting for a replacement float bowl for this carb
2. Find someone to solder the base of the pipe
3. Answer the question about whether it's actually needed and if not bung it up.

Money spent so far:
Float needle £12.85
Float bowl seal £12.35
Post £4.95

Lets see where this little issue takes us and hopefully I'll get it resolved before next weekend so I can go to Wales again!

UPDATE: 15/02/2017
So we piled a lump of Belzona 1111 around the pipe to seal the crack, unfortunately after 24 hours of setting, when I came to mount the overflow, it had a slight amount of movement in it, this then became a break as I tried to seal up the bowl and it basically fell out of the hole, so maybe I moved the pipe around a little during transport I have no idea, but this led me to start looking around again, specifically at Keihin in Japan, who I emailed and got a replay saying they don't deal with aftermarket requests and to contact a list of companies in the US.

I contacted Sudco and got a very prompt and helpfgul set of emails from a guy called Chad. The gist of this was that they did not have any of the overflow versions as they only supplied the non overflow ones for racing, ( because you can't have fuel spilling onto a track). The various OEM parts were adapted by each manufacturer to suit their requirements and so if you can't get one from them, then basically you can't get one.

However the upside was that apparently you can use the non overflow types in these carbs. Chad reckons any excess fuel should just go into the engine or out of the breather hoses. Ben, my local mechanic at Triple D KTM was hesitant about this. though. One comment given to me was that it would be necessary to turn off the fuel when the bikes not in use otherwise petrol will end up in the sump, which isn't good, although that depends upon the float and needle I would have thought? Whatever I'll probably give it a try and see what happens as to be honest a replacement carb is too expensive, so I might as well get an injected bike and move up the years if I'm going down this line and/or keep an eye out for a cheaper replacement in time!

The only other thing I've found out is that the Keihin carbs developed problems in later model bikes, which is why there aren't many parts kicking around now, there were several after market versions of the non overflow float bowl including various coloured but see thru versions...

So the story continues...

Update No:2 17/02/2017

So I've now got a replacement section of copper pipe to fit into the float bowl. I'll need to drill the hole out to 3mm to make it a tight fit and apparently glue it in place with Loctite 'Green' which is petrol resistant or any other petrol resistant glue. It could even be threaded so it screws into place. The angle for the internal pipe is slightly offset to the bottom part of the overflow pipe and the diameter is also different at 4mm with a small bulbous bit to make the plastic drain pipe sit on it better. This suggests that there are two sections of pipe, so when I drill it I need to be careful about the depth.

I also found something relevant on the Splat Shop website for Keihin PWK 28 carbs, (fitted to a Beta 290 Evo 2010 which I've just bought, more about this bike in a bit). These carbs leak at the overflow apparently... (mmm Keihin design weakness showing up here or OEM tinkering??);

''Many people complain about the amount of fuel these carbs leak and they nearly all mention that the Dellorto carburettor doesn't ever leak, this is because the Dellorto PHBL, as fitted to many trials bikes, does not have a overflow pipe so if the floats stop working for some reason it will flood your engine instead. If you really want to totally stop your carburettor leaking you can block the overflow pipe off, you run a slight risk of flooding your engine when dropping your bike or parking it up at a silly angle while walking a section but we have run a bike with the overflow blocked for 5 or 6 years without problems, another bonus of blocking the overflow is the brass overflow tube that stick out of the floats can be removed making it much easier to remove the float bowls.''

I'm busy for a few days now, so will get back to this next week...

Update No.3: 22/02/2017
So I got back to repairing the float bowl today. I took quite a bit of time setting up a drill so that I could drill out the little bit of copper pipe in the bottom of the tube, if i get it wrong I'm knackered so better to take it slow and be sure. Thankfully all went well and I've now popped in the replace 3mm pipe after carefully making sure it was the right length. it was sealed into place with some more of the Belzona 1111 and then left for 24 hours to cure.

I tested the float bowl with some neat petrol and woohoo no leaks!!

I refitted the whole lot and things looked good for about 10 minutes, bike running and all... Then the overflow started leaking again... Bugger!

So it's back in pieces again now, I've to clean out the needle jet hole with some compressed air and I think I'll need to check it for any corrosion in the copper parts. I may need to replace these too. I retested the float bowl repair and it isn't leaking even after 30 minutes sitting in petrol, so that repair is solid.

This is the latest culprit... there is a groove on the inside face of this where the needle has been rubbing against it over the years. Again it's not a part that is in the KTM parts manual, so back to keihin in the US to try to source the part or maybe have a go at filling the groove with Belzona and then polish it out. mmmm

Update no.4: Final one!! (err I hope)

So I found out what caused the groove in the brass piece from above when I fitted the service kit that I got from Frank MX on Ebay... (Great service by the way and you get a little packet of sweets too, Bonus!!)

Whenever I've fitted the carb back to the bike, I tried to make sure it was vertical, however I've always looked at this from the left hand side only and just gone with what looked right there. Today as I finished the final re install, I noticed the throttle cables were catching on the tank and not shutting off correctly causing the bike to overun when the clutch was pulled in on a test ride. the cables sit in a block and there are multiple bits sticking out fo the right side of the carb, which when you hang it vertical just be the left side means it actually sits with a very slight lean to the right, this causes the float needle to rub against one side of the brass inlet, thus causing the groove. it also means you have to mess around with the throttle loads to get it to work correctly and shut off. the final part of what I had done clicked today when I looked at the settings for the air mixture. I had set it to the same as the 250 carb I'd cleaned the other day, So 2.5 turns from closed, when for the 400 it is 1 turn from closed. Once re adjusted, I remounted the tank and plastics and the bike ran much better, shutting off properly now and not running fast.

Hopefully that is the carb sorted now for the foreseeable future, time will tell, although I think I will buy another of the after market air mixture threads and fit it to this carb.

Happy days, it's riding time again!!!

Another fettle!
After a couple of rides, the  bike was rnning rubbish again, so I stripped it again, gave it another clean and asked for some help on the forums. Several suggestions came back, I tried a few of them and nothing seemed to work, so I took the carb to Martin at MHB Motorcylces in Kirby Stephen. We stripped the carb after running the bike for a test run, then dumped it into a sonic cleaner for 10 minutes. Once this was done and uit rebuilt, we popped in a new spark plug and a new plug cap. This made the bike much better. At one point we had flames coming out the exhaust, which scared the dog a lot!

After ten minutes of air screw adjustment, we got it running reasonably well and left it at that.

I took the bike to Wales for the wekend, where if popped a fair bit to start out but then settled, (after flippingitself upside down in a narrow lane!) Once I'd done a full tank of fuel and washed out all of the cleaning agents and loose stuff, the bike runs so much better. It has changed significantly off the bottom end though, now tearing out my arms as it surges forward. Hpefully it'll settle back to it's softer power delivery over a bit of time! But it is running reliably at least for now.