Bugs 1 – Jayne 0

I rounded a corner and there was the city skyline, with the sun setting behind it. At that moment I couldn’t help breaking out into a huge smile. THIS is what the Ultimate Ride is going to be like. Encountering all the beautiful views the world has to offer on the back of a motorcycle. SMACK – Intense pain on my face. Was it a rock from a truck whacking into me? A hailstone from a clear sky? No. A measly little insect.

I now know how car windshields feel. Bugs smacking into you at 110km/hr hurt. A lot.

To date in my distinguished 7 month career as a motorcyclist I have been wearing an open face helmet. I’ve been agonising about which full face helmet to buy, and been paralysed by the amount of choice and configurations available.

This helmet has no bug diversion device. Ouch.

This week the weather has improved dramatically so I’ve been going out on the bike every day, and Sunday I went on a motorway (highway to you North Americans) for the very first time. I wasn’t allowed on motorways on my little 125cc Yamaha in London.

Riding fast on a wide open road is fantastic. You feel almost like you are flying with the wind in your hair, the tarmac wizzing past your feet, and the bugs smacking into your tender cheeks. Bet superman never mentioned that little issue with flying around at the speed of light.

So, my mission for this week is to finally bite the bullet and purchase a full face helmet. I’ll let you know what I end up with.


Doing the Doo

Yesterday I did my doo.

This is not some kind of special dance or weird ritual, the “doohickey” is a bit of metal in the engine of all KLR650 motorcycles that is prone to break (real name “Balancer Idle Lever”). The reason Phil’s bike’s engine was rebuilt before he bought it was because the doohickey failed and tore up the engine. So the first modification on my list was to replace the stock doohickey with a more robust one.

Two gaskets, one manual, one torsion spring and a Doohickey

I bought the bits I needed, borrowed the special tools required (thanks Vance) and put out a call on the KL650.net forum for others wanting to do it with me, or to just come help. Turns out there’s another KLR owner called Chad who lives five minutes from my house. He also wanted to do his doo, so we planned a Saturday tech day.

The bikes in the workshop

This left us in a situation where we were very much the blind leading the blind – with a lot of assistance from the internet and YouTube! This was our favourite “how to” video.

We decided to work on Chad’s 2011 KLR first. With the exception of a dropped washer causing a bit of a panic (which we later found) the installation went very well – until it came time to hook the spring onto the Doohickey (the key part that provides the tension). We tried and tried to get it hooked on, but it was extremely difficult. At this moment, I checked my email and there was a message from another rider, Dave. He’d just seen my post about the tech day, he’s done five Doohickeys before, and we should call him if we had any trouble. We called him immediately and he said he’d come over and help. Fabulous!

We’d been working for a couple of hours by this point, so Chad and I decided to go grab some lunch and a rotor bolt while we waited for him. We went down to the nearby area where there are three motorcycle shops on the same block. None of them had the rotor bolt I wanted, but one of the mechanics told us he always reused the old rotor bolt and so I decided to just do that. Then came the adventure called “lunch”.

There is a place called Billy’s Burger Bar in that same area. My dad had mentioned that some friends of his used to go there, so we decided to try it. We walked in and it was immediately obvious that Billy doesn’t work there any more. The majority of the menu is now Chinese food. The people at the tables seemed to be enjoying it, but it was quite a shock to have to really search through the menu for any burgers. A case of not judging a book by its cover I guess. We both ordered mushroom and cheese burgers, which were delicious. A new kind of fusion dining experience.

By the time we got back to the house, Dave had arrived. Chad went to show him how difficult getting the spring on was, and it just went on in 3 seconds flat. Typical.

The three of us then smoothly put Chad’s bike back together (after ogling all the lovely farkles and modifications Dave has done to his bike, which is the same colour and year as mine is.)

Dave arrives to save the day

It was then my bike’s turn to have its tender bits entered. (tee hee) We were a lot more confident having already been through the process and I felt like we were a bit quicker the second time round.

The inside of my motor

The difference between my old Doohickey and the new one was quite drastic. The old one seemed almost fragile. I’ve put it on my bike’s key chain as a memento.

Old welded together one on the left, new one on the right

I also struggled to get the spring hooked into my doohickey, and I wasn’t 100% happy with the way the spring was sitting on top of it, but after a lot of messing around, it looked pretty close to the pictures online of how it should look. After getting both bikes back together and both of them started up without the sound of the engine exploding we felt pretty proud of ourselves.

Not quite the same as Phil’s victory yesterday though. Well done little bro!



Quiet down already!

My Supertrapp muffler is far, far too loud. While I can tolerate it when riding, when Jayne is following me down the highway, she will quickly find her helmet filling with blood draining from her blown eardrums. I found myself in a holding pattern last night with nothing more I could do until I go buy parts and tools, so I took the supertrapp muffler apart. It wasn’t easy, but I finally got the core out. Now I can re-pack and hopefully quiet down.

Falling for me

I learnt yesterday that I am not able to pick up my bike on my own. This message was reinforced today… My bike is falling for me and it has to stop!

You may ask how I learnt this? Great question!

The good news is that yesterday I PASSED my motorcycle road test. WOO HOO!!! I was a bit nervous that I would roll through a stop sign or fail to stop for a pedestrian (both automatic fails) but I managed to drive properly and only get 20 points taken off (you fail if you have more than 75 deducted).

Basking in the glow of knowing one more major hurdle has been negotiated, we had some friends over for dinner last night. Our guests included Nathan, one of Phil’s oldest friends. Nate has been riding bikes for over a decade and while showing off my bike, I mentioned that Phil was threatening to push my bike over when he saw it to see if anything breaks and make sure I can pick it up. Nate got a glint in his eye and before I knew it the bike was on its side and I was being instructed to pick it up. (To be fair he didn’t push it over, he laid it down quite gently.)

I gallantly followed the instructions from my course last week. Crouch down, get your butt under the seat, grab the handlebars with one hand and the back of the bike with the other, stand up. It all went brilliantly until the “stand up” bit. I could barely move it. I certainly didn’t even come close to picking it up. Oh dear.

Just to make sure I couldn’t pick it up on my own, I gave myself an opportunity to try again this afternoon. I got my brand new license plate this morning, and after installing it on the bike, I took the bike for my first ride around the block. I was reminded how big this bike is compared to my little Yamaha and also how loud and rough. I understand why they are referred to as “thumpers”. While stopping at a stop sign I felt like the bike was about to stall, and in my attempt to rescue the situation, I put my right foot down on the road. The road was a lot further than I was expecting! Those extra few inches were enough to throw the bike off balance, and it being so heavy, down it went.

This experience allowed me to perfect my “helpless female in distress” technique, which involved pathetically trying to lift the bike and getting nowhere. A nice burly man in a pick up truck stopped and picked it up for me. Oh the shame.

My plan now is to develop a training programme where I use the bike as a weight, and do some squats with it. I hope that if I concentrate on it, I will strengthen the muscles in my legs and the bike will become light as a feather. Also probably as soon as I can pick it up, the bike will stop falling for me.


Feel better about my motor now

Quick pics from the top end of my replacement motor. Glad my top end looks a little prettier than this. I’m assuming this is all built up from the blown exhaust cam troubles.