Thursday, June 26, 2014

Streettracker goes south

It's out of my hands now, again. I was able to put it back together last week. I wound up painting the subframe and swing-arm with Colorrite touch up spray paint. The lights went back on with no fuss, but I need to get a new flasher for the turn signals to work. It started up after just a few kicks, and I was able to get it to idle with a half turn of the idle air screw.

On Tuesday I got to deliver it down to Scott in Brooklyn. He'll do some fine tuning and ride it around a little, and eventually put it up for sale.

On the Ferry to New York.

Monday, June 9, 2014

XL/XR600 'Tracker

I'm currently recovering from an injury sustained while riding in the woods last week. I fell, hurt my arm. Now I don't have the arm strength required to ride in the woods, so this Sunday instead of riding, I wanted to make some progress on the streettracker project.

The carbs have been cleaned and await re-installation. The exhaust has been sanded and painted. The engine has been detailed a little. The frame was giving me pause. I wanted to paint it, but I really didn't want to pull the engine to do that, even though it's really only a few more nuts and bolts to deal with. It could be a lot of work and potential trouble for not much gain. I decided to put that decision off while I mount some new rubber and clean the wheels.

Having pulled the rear wheel, it was no great amount of work to also pull the swingarm, which would give me better access to the rear of the engine and frame for cleaning.

I got the old Carlisle DT tire off the rear wheel easily enough, then proceeded to pinch two tubes trying to mount the new Maxxis DT tire. I chose the Maxxis because the tread pattern is more suitable for the street than the Dunlop/Goodyear DT tire. The Dunlop/Goodyear tread pattern is symmetrical, but it has a center line void created by the tread blocks that makes it wander over paved road. The Maxxis tread pattern covers the center of the tire. The Maxxis tire is a little tougher to mount, the carcass of the tire is considerably stiffer than the Dunlop, so I was leaning on the tire irons a little more, and I pinched the tubes.

I think I've decided to paint the lower sub-frame and swingarm. I don't want to get into a full restoration, but I think that touching up the worn paint will make the bike presentable without losing some of the racing cred that this bike has.

Monday, June 2, 2014

1976 Triumph T140 Bonneville

Well now. This Spring I decided to get the Bonneville back on the road. I've been meaning to do this for a couple years, but lacked the inspiration and enthusiasm to actually lift a finger to the job. I'd done a lot of tinkering with it in the past, but failed to end up with a reliable bike, and I just ran out of patience with it and moved (with some nagging pangs of guilt) on.

Due to a recent influx of cash on my Volvo Awards Visa card, I decided it was time to release the guilt with the help of the guys down the road at Classic Bike Exchange. Actually, I started the releasing process by having Charlie spend an hour or so trying to figure out the wiring. He got it to the point that we had spark, and in fact got it running, which was very encouraging. Only problem was, the next time I tried to start it, it wouldn't stay running long enough to get down the driveway. We had identified a problem with the positive ground, but didn't know what the solution was.

It was at this point that Charlie encouraged (begged?) me to borrow his trailer and get the beast down to CBE to have them replace the wiring harness, which clearly needed to be done. I dropped it off, got some evaluation and mental therapy time with one of their councilors, and left it in their care for a week. The guys at CBE are willing to work on bikes at their hourly rate, but they also have a policy of allowing customers to use their shop and work on their bikes at a very reasonable shop rate, with some expert consultation when needed. So once they had the harness installed, they were pretty confident that the bike would be reliable and that I could take over. So I went down there and spent some quality time installing turn signals and learning the British way with electrical connections.

The total operation was a success, and I was able to ride it out of the shop with a current State Inspection sticker.

I've done a couple rides on it now, and I'm optimistic that it will in fact be a reliable daily ride!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

What a great F*ing Day!

Holy shit whata great fucking day.
Matt plowed a nice sized oval and road course on Arrowhead Lake, ostensibly to test his new tire, but he didn't mind sharing it with us. I picked up Fred and we met up with Rees, Aaron, Charlie and Randy and proceeded to tear around both the tracks to our hearts content. The ice was great, 'cause it was still freakishly cold out, but it was also pretty rough because we were crossing over some old car tracks that Matt's plow couldn't clean. So it was pretty hard work to go fast and be smooth, but it was still so much fun to be riding on another crystal clear winter/spring day.
There were lot's of great little episodes of epic slides and tank slappers and near crashes going on. At one point we were joined by a snowmobiler on the road course, who thought he'd be able to keep up with the bikes. He couldn't.

Fred and Aaron chatting. Charlie never took his helmet off.

L to  R, Charlie, Rees, some kinda weird Miltonian that just wanted to hang with us, and Randy.
Anyway, after riding for a few hours, Fred suggested that we go back to his place and ride the Browns River, which happens to be in his back yard. He had walked down to it yesterday and deemed it to be rideable. For many years now, he and Rees have been telling me tales of how epic that ride is,  and now seemed to be the time to see if it was all true. Well, OMf*ingG were they right. This was one of the coolest things I've ever experienced on a motorcycle. This is a rather small and narrow river, as rivers go, with high banks that often conceal what's around the bend, so flying along on the motorcycles, you get the full range of pucker factor from entering a turn in 5th gear or 2nd gear and not knowing exactly what's coming. One of the most exhilarating things I've ever done.
We ran a few sections near Fred's farm several times in both directions, then we went as far south as we could go until we ran into some open pools, turned around and went north for several miles until we didn't dare go much further, turned around and ripped at high speed back to Fred's. Everyone was so amped up, we had to go inside and watch the GoPro footage immediately, augmented with some beers.

Aaron, Rees, Fred and Randy....and my KTM.

Same crew, with Charlie joining.

There were many bridges to duck under.

Group photo.

Group photo 2

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Black Hole Sun

This is the shorter road course that we plowed last weekend. Rees is leading with the GoPro set-up.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Why We Ride

It's still cold here in Vermont! We had a recent warm spell, followed by a pretty good Nor'easter that dropped about a foot of snow on us, along with some arctic temperatures. There was still enough interest in ice riding among the hard core, so Aaron Gibson went out on the resident tractor and started plowing a new track. It was tough going at first, he started Saturday afternoon and the snow was still dense and wet, with slush underneath. Overnight, the temperature dropped to the low teens, and Sunday the plowing was a little easier, but still a big job. I was following behind with the 6 wheeler atv plow, trying to get down to clean ice with the help of Randy, who was acting as front end ballast and plow actuator. Ultimately we were able to scrape out a shorter road course, and 5 of us, Rees, Aaron, Chuck, Charlie and I raced around for a few hours, Randy hadn't brought his bike.

Charlie, about to get some helmet-cam vid.

This is Chuck giving his son a taste of ice riding.

Aaron, getting faster.

Charlie, getting faster too.

We learned (from Randy) that Roadside Motorsports was hosting a preview showing of the new documentary movie "Why We Ride", at one of the local multiplex's. So after riding a bunch of laps, we loaded up and headed to the theater. Charlie missed it due to time constraints...

Once we were in our seats at the theater, Roadside held a little raffle and I won this copy of the movie we were about to see.

They had also invited one of their customers to speak about "Why We Ride", I didn't catch his name. He said that after some thought about the topic he supposed that it was because of (or for) the "freedom" of it. That theme was echoed in the documentary a couple times. I just have to say, I don't know what that means. I don't think of myself as being more free when I'm on a motorcycle. I guess I have the freedom to pop a wheelie on the street, and if I get caught I'll have the opportunity to explain my freedom to the cop and ultimately the traffic court judge.
I can think of lot's of reasons why I ride, but freedom ain't one. No offense to the guest speaker, or anyone who does understand the freedom part.
Anyway, the movie. Why We Ride starts with motorcycling scenes from just about all segments of the sport, and sort of morphs into the typical format of a narrator introducing some of the great concepts of riding and racing motorcycles, with vignettes of interesting people explaining why they ride/race. Some of these vignettes are pretty funny, some a little more serious. There were a few things that I haven't seen or didn't know much about, so I saw some new stuff.
I won't say more, I'll let you decide. You can borrow my copy anytime or see it on the big screen at The Palace 9 Theatre on Shelburne Rd. or a theater near you.
Incidentally, I was the only guy to show up at the theater with a dirtbike in the back of my truck...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lake Iroquois Ice Day

This past Sunday was a great ice riding day on Lake Iroquois. The weather was perfect, mid 20's but bright and sunny, the ice was still rock hard. We had to modify our road course, ice fishermen had drilled holes on our back straight and water had flooded that portion of the track, making it a little too dangerous for the plow to clear, so Rees plowed a detour to the return loop. It was still a fun and fast road course and we spent most of the day riding it. There were 11 bikes running, with well over 20 people taking turns riding.
After about 45 minutes of open road course riding, we took a break and rode the oval. The road course actually starts and finishes on the oval, so it was deemed too dangerous to have mixed use. Riding the oval is great practice for racing dirt ovals, and for a lot of riders it's their only chance to try it.

Rees on the oval, preparing for a right turn onto the road course

The back section of the road course

Charlie turning onto the road course

Rees turning onto the road course, view from the inside of the oval


Joe (I think)...

Rees entering the road course, view from standing on the oval

Charlie on the road course


Aaron, Amanda and Charlie on his KTM

This is Neil riding my bike


Aaron, Matt & Neil

Parking in the center of the Oval

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lake Iroquois

Here we are in March, in Vermont. It's still cold...like 20 inch thick ice on the lake cold. Perfect for another day of riding. Fred and I met up with Tanner and Brad. It was Brad's first time out on the ice, and as usual for these things, he thought he'd just screw some "ice racing" screws into his knobby tires and come out and have fun on his CR250 2-stroke motocrosser. Well, he had some fun, but it really started when he got on Tanner's 450 with real ice racing tires.

Anyway, here's Tanner, Fred and Brad. Fred looking cold.

 Fred reinstalling his header pipe after I rode his bike so hard it spit the header pipe off in protest.
 Gassing up.
 End of the session, bikes loaded.
We've done some riding on this lake in years past, but I don't have photos to prove it. This year we have access to the lake via private property, and Rees has done a superb job of plowing out a long road course linked to a good size oval. More to come.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Honda XR/XL600 Streettracker redux

Wow. It's been a long time since I've written anything, if this blog can be considered writing. I guess I've gotten a little sidetracked by facebook. I also haven't raced much, the last race was a disaster that I chose not to put in the blog. Still paying E.R. fees on that one.
Ice season is upon us here in the Northeast, but with the ice last week came a Polar Vortex, and seemingly now the son of Polar Vortex is upon us... it was -18 degrees when I woke up this morning! I'm not going to put gear on and race around in a motorcycle induced wind chill of -50.

But on to different things, as hinted by the title. I recently repurchased the '86 Honda XL600 from Seamus's dad. I had sold it to him a few years ago, he wanted something to ride on the ice, and I needed some cash to fund the up coming racing season, plus I had decided it was time to let a few bikes go. In the end, he never did get the bike on the ice, but he did spend some time taking it apart and then letting it sit in his garage. It was a little worse for the experience from when I last saw it, but I was able to determine that it was still complete, so I bought it back.

I have a few concerns, the fuel tank hadn't been drained, so there was some nasty old gas in the tank and carbs. I can clean the carbs, and I'm hoping that the fiberglass tank doesn't leak. Beyond that, I just hope the rings haven't siezed and I still have decent compression. I think I'll need to freshen it up a bit, new chain, tires, some paint etc.

The idea behind buying it back was to get it back into shape as a streettracker, with the 19" wheels, lights and license plate back on, bring it down to Brooklyn and see if Scott can get somebody to pay lot's of money to own it.
Here's what it looked like last time it was on the ice, I'm guessing about 7-8 years ago...