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.