Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Let There Be Farkle

The foolishness has begun.  Every motorcycle is really just a launching pad for all the things we want to add to make it in our own personal style.  In this case some are useful and some are necessary.  On a good note for the Stelvio there are a very limited number of farkles that are available and those that are are expensive.

I installed the Koako throttle lock in a tad under 5 minutes.  My first impression wasn’t good.  But, giving it a few miles and playing with it I am learning the trick to make it work as advertised. I decided I needed to move the brake lever housing closer to the grip and that made a lot of difference.

While using the lock I realized how much vibration there is in the bars.  Checking the wheel weights I found Stella has 25 grams on the left side of the front rim about 1/2” from the valve stem. That just seemed odd to me.  I ordered CounterAct balancing beads to see if that would help.  These are little balls of glass that stick inside the tire and don’t drop to the bottom when you stop.  They went in a lot quicker than Dayna Beads did on Petunia, but Stella has tubeless tires. 

Moto Guzzi has a know issue with the factory installed driving lights shorting out and blowing the  30 amp main fuse that stops the alternator from charging and it is said the rider doesn’t know until the bike won’t start.  I was going to make an inline fuse to prevent this, but found them already made and went that route.  It was a quick fix, but one I shouldn’t have had to pay for to get it done.

Stella didn’t come with a top box and looking for one was sticker shock city!  eBay to the rescue as there was one available with all the necessary accessories, nuts, and bolts.   It is in great condition and was less than half price of a new one.  Now I have a place to store my helmet when I stop.

The side cases didn’t come with handles, so a quick trip to Home Depot and problem solved.

So, Stella is farkled.  My intent is to leave her stock as changing things just leads to more things and throwing good money after bad decisions.  Although, a sidecar is definitely in her future at some point, the tank and front fender may get a different color, and I may change the color of the engine guards to match the frame.  But, mostly I am only going to spend money on gas and breakfast.  Oh, and oil.  She uses a special 10W 60 oil that they are really proud of and it is reflected in the price and the service interval is only 6,200 miles.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Stella Service Update

I took Stella up to Prescott on Thursday for her initial service.  The Moto Guzzi folks actually call for the service at 932 miles or 1500 km.  We arrived with 978 miles on the clock and just a couple of items I asked to be looked at.  This being my first bike with ABS I asked to have the rear brake looked at because it felt spongy to me.  They determined it needed to be bled and it did seem better on the ride home.  The throttle had a clunk to it on acceleration and letting off, that was fixed with an adjustment of the throttle cables.  

The rest was just routine oil and fluid changes, connecting to the computer for an updated fuel mapping, and general checking for loose fasteners.  Then came the news about the valve train replacement.  Seems certain year Stelvios had an issue with the flat tappet valve train not being heat treated correctly and the fix is a complete new valve train with roller rockers.  So, the process is started to get that replaced.  My instructions are to ride it until it gets really noisy and then park it.  Rather than park it I think I would just pull the valve covers and readjust the valves back into spec and ride some more.  Don’t want to blow the thing up, but in the Forums I read that some rode 20,000 miles with the noise before the replacements were done.

I chose to use the small dealer in Prescott, for this service, because of the deal he gave me on the bike and feel like he gave me excellent service.  After talking with him I am comfortable that he has the best interests of Stella in mind.  So, while I will do the regular oil/fluid changes on the services that require major adjustments I will take it back to him at least during the warranty period.

My first farkle was added yesterday….a Battery Tender cable to keep her battery fully charged if not riding her for a few days without removing the seat.  I, also, ordered a rear top case off of eBay that should be here on Wednesday and a Kaoko Throttle Lock that is scheduled for Monday delivery.

I just need it to cool off a bit to be able to get out and ride.  The heat index here yesterday was 117 and expected to stay up there until at least Thursday.  It is only 10:30 here now and it is already 101 and 32% humidity for a heat index of 105!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Learning Curve

It has been a long, hot, and exhausting five days out here in the desert.  When I picked up Stella Saturday morning I scheduled her 1000 mile service for tomorrow, Thursday.  The guy at the Dealership questioned if I would be ready by Thursday and I assured him I would be.

Saturday and Sunday found time to get in 286 miles and reading the owners book, finding an online service manual, and learning what I could about Stella.  Monday morning was time to head out to the cool country of Northern Arizona.  First order of business was breakfast at the Lone Valley Cafe up near Clint’s Well.  

The Ride

 The Food

Temperatures were in the low 70s and were feeling good.  Lake Mary Road toward Flagstaff and Highway 89A South I came upon the traffic and forest thinning of the Slide Rock State Park.  It was Monday for heaven’s sake and schools in the valley are back in session, but this place was packed!  Finally in the clear I set sail for Sedona and the red rocks.  Traffic was awful here as well and I almost turned toward the big slab to get rolling, but just calmed down and dealt with it.  Once I hit the good crooked part of road I was free to let Stella show what she had.  She had a lot more than I was comfortable with early on.  But, I found the throttle twisting tighter and tighter  as I bounced from side to side.  At a water stop I was playing with the onboard computer and found this nugget which the bottom line surprised the Hell out of me.

Now ordinarily 1000 miles in six days is no biggie.  But when not having ridden any bike for sixteen months to say I am out of riding shape is an understatement. Add learning the quirks of the Moto Guzzi Stelvio, which is quite a bit taller than Petunia, and the heat with accompanying humidity we are having and it was kicking my arse.  

I woke up Tuesday morning and was feeling really dehydrated and made the smart decision to not ride at all, but rather stay inside , drink water, and rest up.  It also crossed my mind to reschedule the 1000 mile service until next week.  

Not happening, I woke up feeling great this morning and headed out for the 80 miles I needed to get in today to be on schedule for the service tomorrow.  It was 86 degrees, 65 percent humidity, and I didn’t get home until Stella and I had covered 158 miles.  The day of rest worked wonders as I was feeling very comfortable with Stella and what she is capable of.  That was until playing with the computer again and I found she is set to not exceed 6,000 RPM at the moment. It will be interesting what she will do when she is free to really run tomorrow.     

Sunday, August 7, 2016

And Then There Were Two

I can ride again, but couldn’t because Petunia was being naughty.  Because I didn’t have a stable of bikes to pick from that left me feeling blue. She is apart and we wait for parts, again, to be able to get out on the road.

Over the past couple of years I have toyed with the idea of getting an adventure bike, breaking it in, and putting a sidecar on it so I can travel the way back roads and dirt of the forests.  So, Friday with nothing but time, and watching it rain, finally, I looked up a small dealer in Prescott, AZ, some 95 miles up North from me.  I knew they had an adventure bike I was interested in in the past, but the color wasn’t to my liking, and looked to see if they still had it.  

I called and it was still available. This is a NEW 2013 that had only 5 miles and fits the bill of what I was looking for at a price that I just couldn’t resist any longer even with the color!  


She is a Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 NTX.  I had been lurking on their web site for at least 20 months and finally called yesterday to see if it was still available before I drove up there to look at it.  Not only was it available, but they just reduced the price another $1500. Taking a leap of faith I gave them a deposit and told them I would be up Saturday morning to pick it up.

Couldn’t sleep Friday night, got up way to early, left the house, and figured I would stop for breakfast.  I still had a couple of hours to kill until they opened.  Finally the paper work was done, money was paid, and it was time to get acquainted with Stella.  She loves the twisties and was more comfortable in them than I was.  

There is a lot to learn about Stella and some notable things that will take some effort to get used to.  Firstly there is no cruise control which I don't like at all, so I will be looking into a throttle lock.  The riding position is an upright crouch with my feet behind my knees and I can't stretch out like I can on Petunia.  The turn signals aren't self cancelling and are both on the same switch.

Because it was 106 in Phoenix yesterday I only got 300 miles in and in those miles she is getting 48 MPG.  I did stop in at the house to check on the dogs, take a short nap, and then went out again about 6:30.  We rode until I was worn out and had to park her at 10.  

By the light of a sliver of the moon.

Stella AND I are becoming good friends quickly as this ADVenture begins to unfold.  Not to worry, Petunia isn't going anywhere.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Monday came and it was riding time.  Went for a quick ten mile shake down and found there was a faint rubbing sound.  Came home to find the belt guard was just barely touching the new tire. I removed it, went out again and all seemed well.  

Next up was a forty mile get acquainted ride to nowhere.  It is funny how much can be forgotten about the characteristics of a bike in a year.  I forgot how simple things worked like cruise control, where the turn indicators were located, and which handle bar buttons controlled what item.  

The good is the steering is light and easy and the road marks on the new tires seem to indicate she is tracking exactly as expected.  Next was a trip to the Mall in afternoon traffic.  I wasn’t going to go until 7:00, but got antsy at 6:00 and headed out.  Luckily the clouds and impending rain cooled things off and it wasn’t to bad of a ride. The rig was easy to maneuver in the traffic without much effort. 

I was liking this until I came back out and found the bad, a little puddle of oil on the ground under the primary chain case cover.  Got home and thought I located the the source of the leak and began to form a plan to take care of it.  Instead, the next morning, I went to Wickenburg for breakfast.  Sitting in the restaurant I kept looking at Petunia and began to see two puddles of oil forming under her.  So, I aborted my plan and headed home.  On the return ride home I decided I’m going to have to lean Petunia further from the pigpen because she pulls slightly to the right, but I was anticipating some adjustments anyway.

Getting home my daughter called and asked me to take her to the doctor.  Since I had a couple of hours I started taking the primary apart and had it stripped all the way down in short order.  

Then this morning I found the outer bearing feeling like it was full of rocks.  This leads to the ugly. In my exuberance to get it apart and its unwillingness to cooperate I seem to have ruined the chain case cover.  New one ordered, damn it, and still looking into all the other oil seals, gaskets, ect that I  am going to need to fix this fine mess.  So, while I CAN be riding again, it seems I CAN’T be riding after all.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Just About Ready

The end is near and this is the last update before I will be back out on the road. As I was pushing Petunia around the garage last week I noticed a rubbing sound and started to get worried.  Investigated that this morning and found it is only the thin flap on the belt guard.  But, that also led to noticing the belt is adjusted way to tight, so I will readjust that with all my final tightening and final checks. 

I am taking the opportunity to complete the triple tree update to the entire 2010 Tri-Glide setup. When I did this upgrade I chose to keep the stock front forks, knowing I would eventually upgrade to Tri-Glide forks.  Stock ones are the first and third from the left, the new two inch longer ones are from a Tri-Glide and were purchased new from an on line dealer.

The longer legs led to the brake lines needing to be extended as well.  Back to my favorite online dealer and a week wait that ends tomorrow. 

The longer legs also required realigning the pig pen, again.  This time I had to disconnect every mount, clean, lube, and spread the pinch points to get them to easily move.  This really wasn’t that bad of a project and made the final adjustments easily accomplished.  Doing this also allowed me to close the wheel lead on the pig pen to the recommended 15% of Petunia’s wheel to wheel center lines.  It moved the pig pen almost two inches rearward and I will have to ride her to see what that does.  

In my searching I found two sidecar manufacturers who agree on the correct starting points to align a sidecar.  Besides closing the wheel lead, I set the toe-in to the minimum 1/2” and set Petunia level with no lean out and no weight on her.  When I sit on her she leans out about 3/16” and, again, I have to ride her to make any necessary final adjustments.  I chose these starting measurements because it is the minimum suggested for getting good tire wear.  Makes sense to me because this whole operation started to get better tire wear. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Any Moron...

...can work on a motorcycle, but when you pay someone to work on one you wouldn’t expect them to be the idiot. Or, maybe I just expect to much and am being unreasonable.

I decided to put one of the new Avon Trike Tires on the front of Petunia and while checking thought why not put one on the playpen too.  The reviews on the tire are great on trikes and on the two I found used on a hack.  If it works on the bike it should be perfect on the sidecar.

That is where I found the stupidity. The playpen tire has been on for around 7 years and was showing some cracks on the sidewall.  Tires were ordered and are on the truck for delivery today, so why not be ready when they are delivered.  I removed the tire, broke it down, and found it a real bear to get off the rim.  Finally got the first side off and getting the tube out was about impossible as the valve stem didn’t want to come out of the rim.  I forced the rim out of the tire and found this:

While the rim is for an offset stem tube the shop used a tube with a center stem, the rim strip was a center stem strip, and the tube was just twisted to make it fit.  That boys and girls is why you shouldn’t let just anyone work on your bike.

Rant is over….I think I hear the UPS truck and I need to get back to work.

Update;  These new tires have a really stiff sidewall and I have pinched, ruined, both of the tubes I bought.  I will hit up my local indy shop to see if they can mount the thing for me.   

Any Moron...

...can work on a motorcycle, but when you pay someone to work on one you wouldn’t expect them to be the idiot. Or, maybe I just expect to much and am being unreasonable.

I decided to put one of the new Avon Trike Tires on the front of Petunia and while checking thought why not put one on the playpen too.  The reviews on the tire are great on trikes and on the two I found used on a hack.  If it works on the bike it should be perfect on the sidecar.

That is where I found the stupidity. The playpen tire has been on for around 7 years and was showing some cracks on the sidewall.  Tires were ordered and are on the truck for delivery today, so why not be ready when they are delivered.  I removed the tire, broke it down, and found it a real bear to get off the rim.  Finally got the first side off and getting the tube out was about impossible as the valve stem didn’t want to come out of the rim.  I forced the rim out of the tire and found this:

While the rim is for an offset stem tube the shop used a tube with a center stem, the rim strip was a center stem strip, and the tube was just twisted to make it fit.  That boys and girls is why you shouldn’t let just anyone work on your bike.

Rant is over….I think I hear the UPS truck and I need to get back to work.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Anatomy of My Tire Wear

I purchased Petunia in February 2007 with only 3,748 miles on her. She is a 2003 100 year anniversary bike that was first titled July 6, 2004 by an old guy in Minnesota. He had her trucked to Arizona and claimed he only rode her twice, having to go into full lock up both times because of inattentive drivers. Her original Dunlop tire lasted 9,953 miles and was replaced when I stopped my the local Stealership to schedule her 5,000 mile service.  Came out to leave and the tire was flat.

They installed another Dunlop, because that is what came on her and was what they had.  This tire lasted 8,787 miles in eight months, that included many miles dragging Piggy, a trailer, behind Petunia carrying all my camping gear.  I was OK with that mileage and put another Dunlop on.  This one was replaced with 6,840 miles on it in June ’08, as I prepared to depart for Alaska. Loaded down, dragging Piggy, and traveling the AlCan Highway I was sweating making it to Anchorage with the tread wearing dangerously thin.  It was replaced with only 4,747 miles and 12 days since the last new tire. Asked the Anchorage Harley Dealer if they had a better tire and they claimed the Dunlop was the best tire made for a Harley and the only one they would put on it. So, eight days later after 4,572 miles of the Cassier highway I put an Avon rear tire on because I was looking for a better wearing tire.

Ninety nine percent of the above mileage was done solo, but with the trailer.  When I put the Avon tires on I also started doing a lot of 2 up riding and less of trailering. That Avon lasted for a year and 8,226 miles and I was so impressed I got another one.  The second Avon lasted 7,328 and as I was sitting at a camp ground in Arkansas I noticed the cords showing.  Dropped the trailer and limped 65 miles to the closest Dealer to get a replacement.  Again they would only install a Dunlop. That quality tire only lasted 5,904 miles of 2 up, trailering riding and was replaced with an Avon again. This is when I quit pulling the trailer, but was still riding 2 up part time and went for 9,453 miles before another Avon went on for an additional 9,402 miles.  

Always searching for better tire wear I started hearing and reading about the Michelin Commander II tire.  The claim was double the mileage of any other tire, so I had to give it a try and installed a matched set.  That rear tire lasted 11,780 miles with the last 1,332 miles with the sidecar attached to Petunia.  The tire, in my mind, was wearing quite well, but with the sidecar it accelerated the wear dramatically.  

This was when I got serious about looking into a car tire on Petunia.  In the mean time I picked up a cheap, imported, no-name, E-Bay special and had it mounted.  That wonderful POS was toasted in 1,532 miles.

So, now she sits on an Avon 165R16 Taxi tire from England. Have no idea what to expect out of this tire, but it is rated for a load of 1,235 pounds @36 psi and a H speed rating good for 130 mph.  Fully loaded she should be well below the load rating and will never see anything much over 70 mph.  If I can get 15,000 miles out of it I think I would be happy and if it will go 20,000 or more I will really be happy.  We will be back on the road August 1st!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Crossing Things Off The List

Petunia is nearly ready with her new 165HR16 automotive tire! I have been, slowly, crossing things off the list to have her road worthy again.

 The new Optima battery is bolted down and I will run the wires on Saturday to complete the process. Battery security is an issue, but this is how I chose to install it.  The bottom plate is bolted with 6 nuts and bolts with the nuts JB welded under the pigpen.  2 of the bolts penetrate the battery base adding an extra layer of security.  It took 45 minutes to install the 5 hex cap bolts that hold the battery down.  While it isn't theft proof, it will take some real effort to get it out and that includes for ME if I have to take it out! Planning to cover the red battery cable between Petunia and the pig pen with black wiring loom to help conceal it from a casual glance.  I am also mulling over some way to have the seat lock in place to help with being a theft deterrent.  

Getting antsy to get back on the road.  My time-out lasts for another 38 days and I will be sitting on ready.  

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Slowly, But Surely

The tire, fender, new drive belt, and most all brackets and accessories are back where they belong.  I have clearance in all critical areas, the tire doesn't rub, and it was time to start the electrical issues I decided I needed to create.

Step one was a new voltage regulator.  For some reason this was an issue I wasn't looking forward to.  Tearing into the motor and transmission I didn't hesitate, but the regulator caused me to pause for some reason.  I did have to disconnect the oil cooler, but other than that it was an hour project that went without a hitch.

Next was to clean up the electrical for the Pig Pen lighting.  When I purchased the Pig Pen it came with these connections which I used because it what the previous owner used.

 I took them out, cut and soldered in new pig tails, and used marine grade shrink wrap to seal the them up.  I will now use Bullet Terminals to allow me to disconnect the Pig Pen if necessary 

Next up was to add in new terminals for hot and ground.

The purpose here is to allow for the use of an Optima Marine Grade Deep Cycle battery which I will mount in the Pig Pen.  I will use this in conjunction with a Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter to allow me to charge my electronic devices off the grid.  I have to get the necessary cables and looking into a quick disconnect to shut the power off from Petunia in the event of an electrical issue.

Connecting the Pig Pen is next on my agenda, but the quick disconnect for the brakes is leaking and I will replace it with a new one.  Not willing to take any chances as I have to remove the front exhaust header to be able to bleed them.  

I have some jobs at my daughter's that will keep me busy for a week or so and then it will be a big push to get Petunia completed.  My Time Out ends in 54 days and I have to be ready!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back

Spent some quality time in the garage today.  Everything I did the last couple of weeks had to be undone to get to the next steps that need to be done.  Had to remove the rear sidecar mount and right exhaust to get the swing arm bracket off.

Next was to remove the tire.  I let all the air out and installed the Dyna Beads to balance it. This is my first time using them and it was an easy process.  Next was to drive out the swingarm pivot shaft.  I had sprayed it a few weeks ago with penetrating oil and it just slipped out nice and easy.  Unbolted the shocks and the swingarm practically fell out.

Ready to pull the primary innards and put on the new 1" drive belt.

 Looked up at the dash for a long longing look at what I've been missing. 

I thought I had all the parts I needed, but as I was removing the exhaust I found at least three missing bolts or nuts that I need to replace.  Removing the primary cover I noticed the horn wire was damaged in two locations, so I need to repair that.  I also have to go have the split in the fender welded.  Because the fender is buried under/behind the accessories I will just primer it, but not have it painted.  Just add a touch of character to Petunia.

At least I am heading in the right direction and making strides toward completion of this project. 


Sunday, May 1, 2016


Circumstances keep conspiring to kick my ass and I have to admit not being able to ride is wearing me out.  But, I need to give myself a good, strong kick in that ass and plug ahead.

I have made a bit of progress on the Petunia front.  The tire is mounted and it fits under the stock fender with just minor modification.  I did use a tube and was successful on the first attempt without poking a hole in it.

Here Petunia sits on her car tire, under the stock fender.  Had to put her on the ground to drain the primary so I can change the drive belt to a 1 1/8" one.

 I cut down the fender mounting bolts to eek out a little more room.  Stock is on the right, new nut and cut insert on the left.  The bolt that holds the fender screws into the center of this.

Cut pair on the left, stock on the right.  I massaged the fender just a bit to get some spread and that 1/2" was worth the effort as the tire now has about 3/16" clearance at its closest point.

The primary oil is draining and this week I plan on taking it apart, pulling the rear fork, and installing the new drive belt.  After I get that done I will install the new voltage regulator and think about reinstalling the pigpen.  Then I will move forward with relocating a deep cycle marine battery into the pigpen.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Getting Closer.....UPDATED

Got up early and with nothing else to do I tried to inflate the car tire on Petunia's new rim with my little pancake compressor. And it worked like a champ!

 I  used the strap to be sure the tire was against the wheel as tightly as possible.

Pumped it up to 50 psi, did a few bounces on the garage floor, and headed inside for the all important bath test.

All was going well until about the 10 o'clock position.  One spoke has a leak.  Of course one lousy spoke has a leak. A quick, stupid, thought crossed my mind to just use a can of Fix-A-Flat, but it evaporated as quickly as it entered.  I marked the leaker and will pull the tire off, reseal the leaker, coat the entire rim again, wait the week for it to set up and mount it again.

If it doesn't work then I will just have to go with a tube.  

On another note, with the tire aired up it is apparent that I will have to go to a 1" drive belt.  I expected that, but was waiting to confirm before buying the parts. I'm off to shop and break down the tire.

Broke down the tire and cut out the leaking spoke area.  This is what I found...

The 3m 5200 Adhesive not only pulled off rather easily, it pulled all but 5 of the Seal All nipple covers off.  The remaining 5 were way to easily peeled off!

 I then used a scrub pad to clean up the rim and ALL of the residue wiped off without any effort at all and with just water.

So, it is an abort on running tubeless.  While being hard headed is one thing, being stupid, especially on the motorcycle, is quite another.  If the stuff that is supposed to keep the tire inflated can just be wiped off I can imagine what would happen at 65 MPH on a hot day rolling across the desert somewhere. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Well Damn

The starting fluid fire trick didn't work!  It started a fire, but not enough air to set the bead.  I'll post a video later.

Went to three tire shops and none would touch it because of liability.  So, I ordered a bead seater that operates on 100 psi and the beads are so close together that didn't work either.

Not willing to concede, I cut some four inch blocks to spread the beads.  Hoping the ninety degree weather holds for a few days of baking in the sun.  My thoughts are it will allow the tire to soften and reshape itself, hopefully allowing the beads to spread far enough to allow the tire to inflate.

Running out of options here.  Any suggestions?