Saturday, July 23, 2011

Trip Up The Chuckanut

I rode up to Bellingham via Edison (population 133, plus 100 Harley riders on a busy weekend) and Chuckanut Drive today.

Great day for a ride. Chuckanut would be a better motorcycle road if there weren't so many cars, people, bicycles on/beside the road. Share the road for sure. Although fun it would be dangerous to try and ride that road fast.

I stopped in Edison for some iced tea at Tweets. That's a good place to eat - fresh ingredients and a cool big building with a garden. This page has some info about Greater Edison...what to do when you get here..

I had lunch at the Community Food Co-op in Bellingham. I used to think all the criminals lived in Bellingham - just kidding..someone told me years ago that criminals driving North on I-5 would end up in Bellingham because they couldn't risk crossing into Canada and Bham was the last city on the way. Now I think a lot of hippies live in Bellingham. Cool.

We (B at least) met Arlo Guthrie in Bellingham a few years ago - so in the spirit of that trip here's his Motorcycle song -

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New Rear Tire on The KZ1000 Police Bike

I got the new rear Shinko tire on the KZP. I brought the rear wheel to Shiny Side Up about 5 pm thinking I'd drop it off and pick it up the next day. The owner said he could have it done in 30 minutes or less. It was 25 dollars to mount the tire and 5 dollars disposal fee for the old tire.

Removing and installing the rear wheel on that bike is a bit time consuming.

You have to -

Loosen/remove the exhaust pipe/muffler assembly to get clearance to pull the axle out. The exhaust is one piece so you can't just remove the mufflers. There are 2 split rings on each of the 4 exhaust pipes where they enter the engine that are tricky to get back in right because they tend to fall off or slip out of place. The manual says to use tape to hold them in place. It would have to be some kind of heat resistant tape if you did that. It looked like whoever had those off last time used some kind of fiberglass hear wrap material.

Loosen/remove the saddle bag on the left side which is a bit tricky because the wiring for the blinker runs through the mounting tubes and there wasn't any disconnect nearby. I had to use some bungee cords to keep the saddle bag out of the way and not hanging by the electrical wiring.

Remove the chain from the sprocket, which requires you remove the chain guard (dirty job).

Loosen the swing arm.

Remove the 2 bolts that hold the brake caliper and pull it out of the way - the brake pads fall out when you do that so you have to get the 2 anti-rattle clips and 1 spring clip back into the caliper correctly during installation. You need to remove the brake line from a couple of clips and bungee cord the brake caliper out of the way.

Remove the cotter key and nut from the right side of the axle.

Push the axle out the left side of the bike. There are a couple of spacers and a washer that will fall off that need to be reinstalled.

The rear wheel won't clear the fender with the bike on the center stand. It will clear if you kick a couple of pieces of 2X4 under the center stand though.

Installation is the reverse of removal as they say. Getting the rear axle to line up with the swing arm is a little tricky.

I'd guess it took me 4 hours to get the wheel off and put it back on. It was the first time I'd done that so I could probably cut that down to 3 hours next time. I can see why a shop would charge a hundred bucks or so to mount a tire if you don't pull the wheel off yourself. They probably assume an hour and a half labor. That would be no problem on my Concours but it would be a rush on that police bike.

I got the wheel back on and everything buttoned up after dark and it was raining but I wanted to take a test spin. About a block from home I heard a ping/tinkling sound as something fell off the bike and bounced on the street. Went to look for it with a flashlight but no luck. I found it the next morning. It was one of the split rings from the exhaust that had lodged in the pipes and then bounced out. A car had run over it so it was a bit on the flat side. Luckily it's made of a malleable metal and I hammered it back into a round shape and put it back where it belonged. I ordered a new one from Ron Ayers before I found the old one so I'll have a spare to sell on eBay or decorate my garage.

Those split rings are crazy hard to get back in. There's 8 of them. Not all of them came off since I didn't pull the exhaust off the bike - just removed the 2 nuts on each pipe holder that connects to the engine, loosened various other clamps underneath the bike, and removed the bolt that holds the muffler to the frame, so I could drop the muffler far enough to clear the axle. I made sure each split ring that fell on the floor was reinstalled - but I missed a couple that fell out and lodged on the exhaust pipes. I should have done that job during the daytime.

Motorcycle maintenance is good for relaxing and focusing your mind as long as you are patient. I couldn't afford to have someone else work on bikes even if I didn't like doing my own work anyway.

I've read that some motorcycle shops are reluctant to install tires you didn't buy from them. I haven't found that to be the case at the two independent shops nearest my house. They'll usually tell you they sell tires but they know they can't match internet prices. If you bring in a wheel they are happy to mount a tire for you in my experience. It's a simple job with a tire mounting machine and balancer, so they don't run the risk of losing money on labor costs - which might be the case if they remove the wheel, at least on this bike. Motorcycle Superstore, where I got these tires, has a preferred installer program - so you can look up shops that will install tires using their website.

I have a new front tire ready to install but I'm going to let the OEM front tire wear a little more before I put the new one on.


One thing that surprised me a little during this job was how fast the organic brake pads I put on last year are wearing. I'll need to replace those before winter. I might go with a sintered pad to have a better grip in the rain. The organic pads have to heat up and dry out before they give good braking which isn't ideal in this climate. A sintered pad may wear the disk out quicker. Sintered pads on the rear might contribute to accidently locking up the wheel while braking. Some bikes use sintered pads on the front and organic pads on the rear for this reason.

The KZP OEM pads are organic front and rear so I guess people got used to pre-applying the brakes to dry them off in the rain. I'm always a little amazed law enforcement officers could put so many miles on those KZP's. The seat is comfortable, it handles nice and quick in town and the bike is built solid with good chrome - but out on the highway the frame is like a wet noodle, it gets blown around pretty good, the OEM tires are pretty hard/slippery particularly as the tread wears down, in high (5th) gear it's turning 4000 rpm at 55 mph with some buzz, and the brakes aren't that great, not as bad as the Harley Sportster though since it at least has dual disks on the front. Sportster might beat it off the line from a stoplight though.

According to EBC's website sintered pads have become standard on 99% of I guess the organic pads are a hold over on the old school bikes I have. The KZP began it's production run in 1982 the Concours in 1986 and the Sportster in 1957. To be fair H.D. made a few changes since 57.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Seattle: Home of the 78 Minute Summer

I've started to think of this as the summer that never was here in Everett. Very few warm, non-rainy, non-cloudy days. On the plus side it's not too hot to ride a motorcycle and we don't have dust storms, excessive heat/humidity or tornadoes.

Our summer is odd since it's really hot in parts of the U.S. I see the 10 day forecast for Austin is 100 plus every day except Friday when it cools down to 99. That's a continuing pattern there, it's been 100 or over every day of July except for a couple where it was 99.

From the KOMO News | Weather Blog - it's been above 80 degrees for 78 minutes so far this "summer"; 12 minutes on July 2, and 66 minutes on July 6.

It's usually a little warmer in Seattle than Everett so we've probably had less than the full 78 minute summer.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Super Cheap Tires

My KZ1000 Police Bike is about ready for a new rear tire. The OEM run-flats that are on it now are expensive. $184 for the front and $238 for the rear.

I don't really need run-flat tires. I mainly use that bike for in-town commuting and running errands at 35 mph or less so I decided to go with some cheap Shinko tires. I got a set of Shinko 230 Tourmaster Tires for $125.98 at Motorcycle Superstore. 110/90V-18 front for $55.99 and 120/90V-18 rear for $69.99. The V rating means it's a 149 mph tire so that part sounds good enough. I talked to a motorcycle mechanic who thought Shinko's were good tires and they get good reviews for the most part from people who have bought them.

I'd buy tires locally but it's impossible for independent shops to compete with online prices. I got free shipping and no sales tax from Motorcycle Superstore.

I'll probably end up paying 20 or 30 bucks a wheel to have them mounted and balanced although I've been thinking about buying some tire irons and see what it's like to do it myself. If I do that I have to figure out a way to balance them, avoid scratching up the rims and deal with the super stiff sidewalls on those run-flats when trying to pry the old tires off. It's probably worth the money to pay someone who has the right equipment since tire changes are an every other year affair given the miles I put on bikes.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Photo Collection: MC/Ferry Trip - Alaska, B.C.,Alberta - Summer 2011

I uploaded the photos I took on my motorcycle and ferry trip to Flickr at MC/Ferry Trip - Alaska, B.C.,Alberta - Summer 2011

Maybe 1 in 20 is a keeper.

Here's something you don't see everyday - a bear supervising a logging operation -
P1020429 by Jack Crossen
P1020429, a photo by Jack Crossen on Flickr.

This is the all natural lawnmower at Miette Hot Springs -
P1020778 by Jack Crossen
P1020778, a photo by Jack Crossen on Flickr.

These guys were on a road trip too -
P1020916 by Jack Crossen
P1020916, a photo by Jack Crossen on Flickr.

Here's some kind of 4 legged critter eating grass -
P1020810 by Jack Crossen
P1020810, a photo by Jack Crossen on Flickr.

And another...
P1020910 by Jack Crossen
P1020910, a photo by Jack Crossen on Flickr.

These newlyweds from South Dakota were spending some time at Lake Louise -
P1020913 by Jack Crossen
P1020913, a photo by Jack Crossen on Flickr.

And here's Lake Louise..I imagine one of the most photographed spots on earth -
P1020907 by Jack Crossen
P1020907, a photo by Jack Crossen on Flickr.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Wobbling Into Omak - Blowing Into Waterville

On Wednesday, as I was approaching the Canadian border going south the front end of the Connie started to feel a little weird - a twitch or something when I was turning. I couldn't detect anything obviously wrong so I kept pushing on south on 97. I wanted to at least get into the U.S. before the bike gave in, if that was going to happen.

Riding straight was okay but in turns the front end was starting to pulse/wobble/twitch a little bit more as I continued on. I pulled into a big parking lot in Omak and did some circling turns at low speed to see how bad it was. It was bad enough I decided to throw in the towel, stay in Omak and try to figure out a way to get some wheel bearings for a Kawasaki Concours C10 and some way to get the old ones out and the new ones in.

Luckily the Connie front wheel bearings are fairly common 6203 double-sealed industrial bearings and the local Napa Auto Parts store person knew his bearings - and was able to set me up with a pair for 10 bucks.

The original bearings are double sealed with a rubber shield on each side. The advantage of this type of bearing is you can remove the rubber shield and pack some additional grease in the bearings (and then put the rubber shield back in place). The bearings are made in Japan by NTN or Nachi -

The NAPA bearing has metal shields on each side. They come from the factory with some grease on the balls/race but you can't pack any additional grease into them -

I asked the guy at NAPA if he had any suggestions for someone who could drive the old bearings out and drive the new one's in? He suggested the Omak Marine down by the river. Went there and they were busy but the owner got on the phone and called around and found someone a block away who said he could do it but it would be about 20 minutes before he could start!

The exclamation point is because I feel super lucky to have this problem in this place. It could have just as well have happened in Northern B.C. on the road, out in the boonies, in the rain.

The place I got the new bearings installed is called Go Moto. It's right across the street from the swimming pool in Omak. I was in a little before noon, had some rice and beans at the Mexican Coach-Cafeteria beside the place, hit the adult swim at the Omak pool from noon until 1 pm...walked around downtown Omak and was back on the road about 2:30 pm. The owner/technician of Go Moto is Dennis Ayika who graduated from Everett High School (small world). He knows a lot about a lot of different kinds of motorcycles and provided great service at a reasonable rate. If you own a hard to work on bike like a Ducati it might pay to take a trip over to Omak to get some work done at his place.

The old bearings had started to rust a bit and were getting a little notchy. I knew the bearings were starting to fail because when I put the bike on the center stand the front wheel wasn't spinning as freely as it normally does, and I was getting the little twitch/wobble when the bearings hit the worn spot. Dennis thought the NAPA bearings would last the life of the bike, but I have some NTN bearings on order from Murph's just to have a spare set available. Based on my experience I'd guess replacing the bearings at 30,000 mile intervals would be prudent - since this set failed at about 39,000 miles. You really don't know how long they'll last - but you can probably extend the life by not pressure washing around the bearings and putting some new grease to keep out water when you have the front wheel off.

Riding along the Columbia, and up unto the plateau to Waterville the winds a whippin pretty good - but it's supposed to calm down for tomorrow and Saturday in time for Waterville Days.

I'm spending the last night of my mini-odyssey in the historic Waterville Hotel. What a great place. All kinds of cool old stuff, radios, pictures, books, etc. etc.

Great meal and atmosphere at the Harvest House Art Gallery and Supper Club in "who would of guessed...Waterville." For dinner tonight it was me, the owner (who is also the head of the Chamber of Commerce, bread baker, chocolate maker, old time camera photographer, owner of local industry Bainbridge Manufacturing, Inc. and one of the main organizers of the upcoming Waterville Days celebration this Friday and Saturday), a visitor/friend of the owner from California, and the Chef Valerie.

Valerie had made some wild strawberry jam that she wanted to taste like her Grandmother's. It was great with the fresh baked bread. The salad greens came from the garden out back - pesticide free, and she was kind enough to make a vegan entree for me on short notice that was great - very fresh, seasonal, local food. They even gave me some strawberry jam and the fresh baked bread to take back to the hotel for a midnight snack.

I'd drive from Seattle to Waterville just to stay at the Hotel and eat at the Harvest House. It's all quite unique. I like the whole small town vibe where people are friendly (or maybe not..but usually), everybody knows everybody else and they aren't too wrapped up in the pressure of traffic/noise/crime to take some time to slow down. Not that small towns are Shangri-La, but I always feel a little bit like I'm at home in any small town. I really like the unique flavor of the local shops, people, scenery. I think that's what I like about big cities like Seattle, New York City, San Francisco and Austin Texas too - there's different neighborhoods, small communities within a larger city and not just a big unplanned urban sprawl with no real town or community at all.

Really glad I made this trip and looking forward to the next one - it will be good to get home tomorrow and see B, R&B and Edgar the TFT.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Blog Post 2001

I've posted 2001 entries to this blog - that's something I guess :-) Maybe I'll use it to remind my self some of the things I was doing if I ever get so old I can't remember.

I'm in Revelstoke B.C. tonight. Great town - fun aquatic center, music in the street and some cool shops/cafes. Really good for just hanging around and a lot of people are doing just that.

The ride from Miette Hot Springs AB. to Revelstoke B.C. took me through Jasper, Icefields Parkway, Lake Louise, and Glacier National Park (Canada). Perfect day - warm, blue skies with just a few puffy clouds.

I saw a couple of bears up close on the way to and from the side road to Miette. One a mature black bear and the other a cub by itself (but I didn't think Mom could have been too far away and didn't want to get in between the two). I didn't stop to take a picture because it seemed sort of foolish...but I did later take a picture of some bear cubs and their mom that were munching on some grass. Saw lots of Mountain Sheep, Deer, a wolf (a few days ago in Northern B.C. on the way to Prince George, Mountain Goats...but no Moose. Lot's of signs for moose crossing the road but no moose.

Here's a picture of Mount Robson which is really stunning because coming from the West you come around a bend and all of a sudden here's a huge gorgeous mountain -

Baby Mountain Goat that was with a big herd of goats beside the Parkway -

Mama bear and her two cubs. It's hard to get a picture of a bears face, they usually turn around and head into the woods when you spot them (I guess if you're lucky) -

Monday, July 04, 2011

Prince Rupert to Prince George

Yesterday was a long day.

I was trying to get out of Prince Rupert as early as possible, but the Canadian Customs decided they wanted to keep me hanging around while they searched my bags and asked me the usual silly questions. When I told the guy I'd toured the state capital building in Alaska - he said Anchorage? I'm glad I don't have that job. It's a toss up when I cross the border of either basically a wave and a smile or the 3rd degree and searching my luggage. At least I wasn't strip searched. I didn't get out of Prince Rupert until almost 2 pm and I had an 8 hour drive ahead.

It was raining in Prince Rupert and rained until I got a couple of hours east on Highway 16 the Yellowhead Highway. It's a beautiful drive along the Skeena River, but it was foggy and raining so I didn't get the full effect.

It got pretty cold coming into Prince George but I was okay with my gear on.

If I was planning this trip over I'd spend a night in Smithers about halfway between Prince Rupert and Prince George. Since I had to press on to Prince George I only had time to snap this photo at a gas stop -

I managed to pick up some kind of cold bug on the ferry so it's going to be nice to soak in those hot springs at Miette later today.

Happy 4th of July!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Just Left Petersburg

I've been on the ferry for 26 hours now. Juneau, Sitka, Kake, Petersburg.

We stop at Wrangell and Ketchikan - then Prince Rupert at 10:45 am Sunday.

I'm going to hop on my bike there and ride to Prince George - then Jasper, Miette
Hot Springs, Revelstoke and ?

Somewhere along the way I managed to take a picture of an eagle -
P1020609 by Jack Crossen
P1020609, a photo by Jack Crossen on Flickr.

Junior Engineer's Locker

On the Alaska State Ferry Taku -

Alaska Map Made From a Piece of the Pipeline

In the state capital -