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.