Saturday, December 31, 2016

The year That Was....

....wasn't the greatest, but tomorrow offers the promise of new, brighter days ahead.

So, Good Riddance to 2016, you Bastard, and Welcome 2017 with your bright possibilities and the shine of many promises!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

It Must Be Time

After sixteen years, maybe closer to 20, of wearing the same HJC helmet I decided I should replace it.  Manufacturers suggest the life of a helmet is five years and I clearly haven’t listened to that. It is in nearly perfect condition with the exceptions of the few, superficial scars from the few miles it rode in the trunk. The inside looks good, it doesn’t stink, and I would think it would be better than the Harley cap I rode many miles with.

However, when I purchased Stella I told myself I wouldn’t ride her without ATGATT. In the four months I have had her I have honored that vow. So, I began the search for a new helmet that I might like. I was interested in a modular helmet that would flip up, that had air vents that allowed the flow of air to be felt, was comfortable and quiet, would work with glasses, and allowed for good vision. I also broadened my price point as the $100 range just didn't feel comfortable to me. 

I found a Scorpion EXO-AT950 that looked promising and with great reviews. When finally finding one to try on in the size I am currently wearing it was tight. Really tight and uncomfortable. The guy at the shop told me to just buy the next bigger size and he could have it in a week. I left and went home. The next day I looked on the internet, Black Friday Weekend, and found that same helmet for 20% off, with no sales tax, another 10% savings, free shipping, and free exchange if it didn’t fit. I ordered it in the next size up and it arrived in 6 days.

After 200 miles this helmet feels like an old friend. It is warm, with the vents closed, and there isn't a fog issue at 38 degrees. The locking mechanism offers a positive closing and the visor has 3 open locking positions. There is a drop down sun visor also. It fits snug, but not tight and it really doesn't feel any different than my old helmet. I do have a bit of buffeting that I didn't have with the HJC, so will need to play with the windshield to see if I can get it calmed down. Other than that I am really pleased with this purchase.

Yes, I am back to riding after only four weeks. Started out with short distances and have slowly increased to a 110 mile run yesterday. Looking to get in a longer distance run in the next week or two, if I can convince myself that 35-39 degrees isn't to cold to be leaving the house. I should focus on the fact it will warm up to 65 for the afternoon trip home. Besides that the heated grips I installed work great at 38 degrees as I have only used my summer gloves so far.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Just Like That....

....and I'm average.  I had just been talking to a friend about the claim that the average, 55 year old, American had to take 5 prescriptions.  I was feeling pretty smug being on none of the stuff.  Well, the Universe has a way of slapping a guy silly when they get cocky.

Monday found me in the room with 26 seven year olds when the pain started.  First in my left arm and then in my chest.  First thought was, "Oh sh#@, not here!"  Lesson plans aborted and the kids spent the afternoon coloring their art projects.  The pain lessened and I kept watching the clock move to dismissal time.  Sent the cherubs on their merry way and headed to the ex-wife's room to see if she had any aspirin.  All she had was a grade level meeting going on.  So, I grabbed most of my things and headed home.  By way of the UPS store to drop off a return for a part that wouldn't fit Stella. Must not of hurt to bad.

Getting home I took some aspirin and laid down to sleep it off.  That wasn't working, so I got dressed to take myself to the hospital. Walked into the garage to leave and convinced myself that I only needed a little more time and went back to bed.  At 10:30, almost 11 hours after the pain first started I gave in and went to the Emergency Room.

They made quick work of getting me in the back, behind a curtain, poked, prodded, and did a test. In about 45 minutes they came with the results...Heart Attack!  Words you hope to never hear.  Now I had to let my daughters know, so I sent a group text that I didn't expect them to see until they woke up Tuesday morning. Unfortunately my little  kid was up, finishing a test on Hospital Ethics of all things, and responded she was on her way.  Upon her arrival I got no credit for going to the ER, just a lecture on driving myself there.  This scene would be repeated at 7 AM when my eldest arrived.

Into the Cath Lab I go, insert the camera into my groin, up into my heart, and find 100% blockage in one artery, place a stent into OM1, and make me lay flat on my back for two hours without moving my legs or head.  That was the hardest part of the whole deal.  The whole process, from arrival at ER to discharge, was 37 hours.

Follow up 24 hours later and the results showed NO damage to the heart, which the doctor said doesn't happen often, and directions to take my medication as prescribed and move easy for the next six weeks or so.

So, I got really lucky and dodged a huge bullet and became average at the same time. Average in the fact that I am now taking those 5 prescriptions that those 55 and older take.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Funday Friday

Friday rolled around and there was nothing on the schedule, finally, to prevent me from taking Stella out for some longer distance exercise.  A quick check of the weather and I made the decision to head in a northwest direction because I have about worn out the easy northeast routes from Surprise. What a day! Cloudy all day until about 3:30 when just thirty minutes from the house the sun popped out for the first time of the day. Until that point it never got above 83 degrees, but reached 90 in short order when the sun kissed the afternoon hello.

Starting out on US 60, I pointed Stella toward Wickenburg. Leaving the house just before 7:00 AM found minimal traffic and pleasant temperatures.  Nearing the junction of US 60 and AZ 89 a decision had to be made. That proverbial fork in the road as it were and I choose to go left. It quickly crossed my mind that maybe it was time for Stella to taste a new state’s asphalt. Bearing left on US 60 I headed toward Salome, Arizona to connect with Arizona 72 North.  California here we come!

Arizona 72 takes one toward Arizona 95 and Parker, Arizona. The California border and a change to California 62 found the booming metropolis of Earp. Yes, it named for that famous villain Wyatt Earp. Stella is introduced to California as we headed to US 95 North rolling toward Needles, California and back into Arizona.

The destination was the old Route 66 into the Black Mountains and the town of Oatman, Arizona. Oatman was the site of a gold rush in 1863. Today it is a tourist trap that is famous for the wild burrows that come into town every morning to get fed by those tourists. At night they return to the mountains around the town to do what wild burrows do at night.

Road into town from the East


Mom and offspring

Note to tourists, he is still nursing

Someone told this one not to play in the street

On the return portion of the ride I stopped by the London Bridge.  Yes the real London Bridge that was purchased, torn down, shipped to Arizona, and rebuilt in Lake Havasu, Arizona.

A nice little Friday 490 mile tour on mostly 2 lane, traffic free roads.  I’ll bet on Saturday I wouldn’t be able to say that.  My only real issue on the day was finding a name brand gas station. Stella is spoiled and doesn't drink from the pumps of Who-Knows-What-Is-In-The-Tank stations. 

And me being the smart guy I am, I had the RotoPax and it was empty! 
When we finally found a Shell it only took 6.7 gallons to fill her up.
I am going to keep that RotoPax full and run her dry the next time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Name Change

Stella and I have been adding miles on a consistent basis.  I am still in the process of changing things on her that are necessary and am getting ready to add a few things just because I want to.

Realized this morning I hadn't been here in a while.  While I was catching up I remembered that Dom over at Redleg's Rides had asked a while back if I was going to change the Blog name now that I had a goose.  I had been thinking about that and think I am going to exchange the word Harley for Adventure... thus the Blog becoming Arizona Adventure Dude.  Checking with the FAQ section at Blogger I don't think it is hard to do, as you can see if you look at the title.  My next question is how to change the URL and that gets a little more complicated, so I still have some checking to do on that.  I also don't want to change it without giving some notice for the readers that want to keep following along.

Being brand specific in the title, these nine years later, shows my short sightedness.  Who knew I would still be sharing after that amount of time?  Now with Petunia having the sidecar attached she is an adventure and Stella is considered an ADV bike, so Arizona Adventure Dude seems to me to be a good fit.

Unfortunately, for Petunia, I haven't put her together yet.  When I get ready to work on her and walk into the garage and see Stella I gear up and ride.  I also have only done half of my required substitute days for the District.  That is a problem that I plan to correct in November so I can get that out of the way. is an adventure!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Craziest of Days

There is something in the air out here in the desert!  Our Monsoon season ended, officially, on Friday. It rained on Friday during the day and Friday night.  These are strange occurrences indeed.

It got crazier on Sunday morning.  I went to a Moto Guzzi National Owners Club, MGNOC, monthly Breakfast Ride.  Left the house at 6:55 and rode into a bright morning sun.  Arrived at the appointed Denny's and started meeting the folks without even thinking about weather.  We move inside to their conference room and someone said, "Look how hard that wind is blowing!"  Just minutes prior there was no wind at all.  The waitress walked around taking breakfast orders.

She quickly followed that up delivering coffee and water.  Seemed like a normal day.  Within five minutes she came back in and announced, "I have some bad news.  It is pouring rain and all of you are on motorcycles."

Someone responded, "I not leaving until it quits."

"Well, we can't cook breakfast now!", she added to much laughter.  "No, really, I'm serious," she repeated, "the roof is leaking onto the griddle.  We won't be able to cook until they can get someone here to fix it."

The Breakfast Ride had just been officially rained out, from inside the restaurant!  That is a new one to add to the list of craziest things to ever happen to me on a motorcycle ride.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

More Piddling on Stella

I am still finding things to update on Stella. Like the rear shock that sits right in the path of all matters of road grime that the rear tire throws all over it.  The shock and the rear of the motor are already getting covered and when I softened up the shock last week it had caked on dirt in the adjustment screw.  So, I got a truck mud guard, cut it down to the measurements I found on the www and now have it somewhat protected.

Having left over mud flap and time, I looked at the front fender.  The front tire does the same to the front of the motor that the rear does to the shock. There is a rubber plug on the front that allows access to a nut to turn the motor over when adjusting the valves.  If that rubber plug were to somehow fall off I don’t want everything off the road getting in there.  So, I made and installed a mud flap for that also.

I should spend some of this piddling time on Petunia, but it is easier to just get on Stella and ride.  Even if it is to school to substitute.  I have half of my mandatory days done, am covering four days next week, and the following week is Fall Break.  I’m thinking of taking Stella on an overnight ride and, hopefully, getting back to Petunia after that.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Necessary Stella Updates

The Moto Guzzi Stelvio was introduced in late 2007 as a new model for the 2008 model year.  It was updated in 2012 to its current configuration.  After purchasing Stella, a ton of folks worldwide named their Stelvio Stella, I started reading the Guzzi forums.  That is when I started finding out about known issues that Mother Guzzi has known about for years, but even in the 2016 model year, reportedly the last, haven’t been corrected.  With a new, old stock 2013 I have decided to start correcting those known issues before any can become a problem.

Driving lights are known to short out and blow the 30 amp main fuse.  This fuse also excites the alternator, so when the fuse blows you find out when the battery goes dead.  A simple fix is to add a 10 amp inline fuse to each lamp and problem solved.  It has been written that Mother Guzzi updated the lights to address this issue, but a business owner, and frequent poster, claims he has looked at the update and nothing was changed. I took my lights apart and they are indeed different than the pictures of those that have shorted.  My lights have a fabric heat sheath covering the entire hot wire and the ground wire is so short it is hard to get the rubber boot off to look inside.

Another issues with these lights is they are mounted to the engine guard that is bolted to the engine.  This causes them to vibrate violently whenever the engine is running causing the mounts to break.  Hella doesn’t sell new brackets, only complete new sets of lights.  Some have bought new LED lights, but that costs three hundred dollars or more and brackets are still breaking.  So, I chose to relocate them for a cost of seven dollars and some garage time.  That leaves me a mounting location for a set of highway pegs later.  I also found two more missing bolts and a set of wires rubbing against a metal bracket.  All fixed now.

Driving lights up under the headlights.

Home Depot special Moto Guzzi light mounts.

The US version of the Stelvio has rearview mirrors with intergrated turn signals.  These mirrors vibrate so badly you can’t see anything behind you.  With some fine tuning and adjustment I got them to where I could see a shape behind me, but they had to be really close to even make out the color.  So, I went with the standard fairing mounted Euro turn signals and Grisso mirrors.

A dependability issue is the fuel filter.  Out of the factory Stella comes with a plastic filter that has been known to leak pressure, also to rupture for no known reason, and has been cited as a problem for low speed drive-ability issues. Being proactive I changed to a metal Wix filter that also includes two o-rings to replace the original single one.  It also replaces the plastic hose that comes in a pig tail shape with a short 5/16” gas hose.  The hardest part of this was getting the fuel pump assembly out of the tank because of the plastic pigtail.

There was no tequila, but her cloths fell off.

Naked from the other end.

I also removed the charcoal canister and related emissions crap.  That made quite a difference, combined with the filter change, in Stella's low RPM drive-ability. There are still a couple of things I need/want to update, but it is time to get some miles in as it is cooling off out here in the desert.  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

2,100 Mile Update

Is 2,100 miles enough to post a serious review of a bike?  I will take that chance.  My first impression was that Stella was to tall for my 32” inseam.  That made stopping troublesome and taking off a touch of an adventure.  I got a new pair of boots and that has helped a lot.  It only took about 300 miles to get used to how tall she was and begin to relax and trust that everything would be OK.  There are several things that can be adjusted to personal preference that help make Stella more comfortable.  The windscreen has about six inches of adjustment and when in its highest setting offers plenty of protection and no buffeting.  You get plenty of choices for levers being adjustable with either 4 positions, clutch, or 5 positions, brake, away from the handgrip.  I finally settled on 3 for the clutch and 4 for the brake.  You could change the seat to a higher setting, but I would need stilts for that.  The handlebars can be turned any number of ways to add comfort, but I haven’t gone there yet.

She is rock steady on the open road and hugs corners very well.  The shocks have several ways they can be adjusted and I have only played with the damping of the rear so far.  The front dives on braking and when I change the fluid I will use a heavier oil than stock.  She runs great on the highway and easily would cruise at 90 mph if inclined or 100+ if not paying attention.  A drawback is she doesn’t feel like she is any way near as fast as she is going.  

I am getting used to the seating position being kind of a crouch with my feet behind my knees.  If not for a bad knee I don’t think it would be any issue at all.  My only real complaint is the lack of electronic cruise control.  Some have adapted a Moto Guzzi unit designed for a different model, but I’m unwilling to cut into the wiring harness.  I did put on a throttle lock and still getting used to how it really works which is vastly different than claimed.

Bottom line is I am loving this bike.  Even with being forced to learn to do a valve adjustment, easy enough, this week and a few know issues that Moto Guzzi hasn’t/won’t fix she is a fun ride that gets better after every mile.  The only thing I am really nervous about is the rumor that Moto Guzzi is ending the Stelvio at the end of the 2016 model year.  Something about the European Union changing emission requirements on the 1200 Quattro valve engines.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Close Call

Took off yesterday morning just to log some miles.  Heading toward my favorite path of travel I started to hear ticking and it was getting louder.  Pulled over 20 miles from the house and the left cylinder head was clacking up a storm.  I turned around and slowly rode home.

Waited an hour for things to cool off and popped the valve cover off.  Quickly noticed the lock nut wasn't on one of the exhaust valve adjusters.  Not always being being the sharpest pencil in the box, I instantly knew this wasn't a good thing to have a wayward nut floating around in the motor somewhere.  What to do crossed my mind.  A quick look around didn't reveal an answer.

Consulted the internet looking for some sign of hope and found one.  Went back out and grabbed my adjustable magnet and started poking it in the places it would fit.  On the second stick I heard a distinct tink.  Pulled it out and the little beast was attached to the end of the magnet!  No scaring, no damage, no nothing. Had to wait for another couple of hours while it cooled enough to replace the nut and do a valve adjustment.  Completed the task, buttoned it all up, started Stella and all sounds good again.

Will head out for a short ride this morning, bring it back and let it cool off until it is cold and recheck the tightness of the lock nuts.  Yesterday was my lucky day and I dodged a huge bullet!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Day In The Dirt

Tuesday morning was the appointed time to take Stella off the beaten path.  It was a beautiful, cool, sunny morning to be out for a ride.

Went out to Lake Pleasant and headed toward the Castle Hot Springs Road.  

Goodby asphalt.

 Let the fun begin.

While sitting around the house getting out to play in the dirt sounded like a good time.  Forget the fact I haven’t ridden off-road in near 30 years, I knew it would be fun.  Fun can be subjective and if looking for pucker power this morning was a ton of fun.  It was quickly apparent the Automatic Traction Control, ATC, wasn’t conducive to this road condition, so I stopped and turned it off.  That allowed me to be in control of where the rear end was going.  

Easiest section of the road.

 This is where it started to get bad and only got worse.

Washboard, rocks, and then the sand of the 4 mile river bottom section and Stella bucked, bounced, slid, and tried to fall over.  In spite of my best efforts to topple her she wouldn’t lay down.  On two really close calls a hard twist of the throttle caused her to jump back upright before anything but her tires where on the ground.  The further I rode in the worse the road got.  After about 7 miles I found a wide enough area to turn around and made my way out.  It was all the dirt road I wanted for the day.

Things I learned about Stella today was she has a hesitation and lack of throttle response between 2-3,000 RPM.   This makes the slow riding I was trying to do today difficult.  In the 14, or so, miles on dirt today Stella got really hot.  I stopped once back on the asphalt and let her cool for about 20 minutes.  I believe both of these issues are related to the factory fuel map.  Reading the MG forums there are a couple of ways to address this.  One costs around $1,800 and needs a Power Commander V, some other thing to connect to the computer,  a new exhaust, and modify the air filter assembly.  The other one requires the bike to remain stock, download a free program, buy a set of cables for $40 that come from the UK and ask the guy to send me the MAP for my specific bike.  I have downloaded the program and ordered the cables.

It really is my intent to keep Stella as close to factory stock as possible and have her be the best, most reliable bike possible.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Sad Happy Birthday

Forty years ago today I became a dad for the first time.  It was with wonder and awe that I held Jeane for the first time and felt the instant love a dad has for his child.  From watching her wake from a sound sleep to dance to a Jack-in the-Box commercial on the radio during a Suns game, to playing soccer and softball, to making a speech at her 8th grade graduation, becoming the editor of her high school’s yearbook for 3 years, to her high school graduation speech, to the success she has enjoyed as an adult I couldn’t be more proud of her.  I believe her greatest regret of her formative years is the 1 day of school she missed during those first 12 years.  

To say I’m a proud poppa would be an understatement.  To see her grow in her chosen field of education, rise into a District leadership role, and witness the accolades she has earned, respect of peers and administrators alike has warmed my heart.  Jeane's work ethic has been unbelievable no matter the circumstance.

Sadly, as we celebrate her 40th birthday Jeane finds herself facing her new normal.  Jeane has been fighting Multiple Sclerosis for 18 years.  Refusing to give in after vowing to never let MS win she is probably the strongest person I have ever know.  Jeane’s time as a teacher and life as she has known it has come to her fork in the road.  Her body just isn’t capable of sustaining the rigors and demands of being in a classroom or the fatigue that doing everyday activities produces.  

This week, the week she turns 40, Jeane’s new normal is learning that she is now on total disability.  My heart breaks for her, but know she will deal with this as she always has with diginity and a fighting spirit.  

We have talked about a 40 year old being 100% disabled and she has decided retired sounds better, so she will consider herself retired instead of disabled even though she still has to use the scooter and/or a walker.  The label isn’t as important as the attitude.  Especially when the results are exactly the same.  

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday With Stella

It took 22 days, but Stella lost her virginity today.  As I pulled into the garage, put her in neutral, and flipped down the kickstand it happened.  As I started to climb off the kickstand folded and she started over.  As I tried to lean, rather abruptly, over to catch her it helped to push her all the way over and threw me on the ground.  Nothing broken, nothing scratched, and she stood back up pretty easily.  At least I got that out of the way.

I finally rode her with the intention of running her out of gas to see how long I could ride once the warning light came on.  Heading the 147 miles to Flagstaff and only two bars on the gas gauge, with cloudy, cool weather I was off.  Heading out Loop 303 I wasn’t past Sun City West when I was down to one bar.  I’m not sure when the low fuel light came on, but when I looked the trip-o-meter was reading 7 miles, then 8, then 9.  So, it appears once the fuel light comes on it flashes the remaining number of miles for a period and then counts the miles up to walking.  I have installed the RotoPax mount and was carrying two gallons. 

 Once I reached Camp Verde, and 80 miles on the count up, I stopped at the last gas station before the last big hill into Flag.  Poured my two gallons in and added 6 more from the pump for a total of eight gallons and 326 miles.  Actual hand figuring is 40.75 miles per gallon, but the computer claims 48 MPG.  

This afternoon as I was piddling around I found a loose screw on the plastics around the tank.  That made me look some more and up under the oil cooler, connecting the engine guards to the alternator belt cover, on both sides, the bolts aren’t screwed in at all.  Just sitting there.  At least they didn’t fall out somewhere along the way.

One of these days I’m going to have pay some attention to Petunia and show her some love.  Sadly with school in session I have to start subbing for my insurance which interferes with what I really want to be doing.

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.