Category: Maintenance

12,000 Mile Maintenance

A cool video by Jon Beck

ADVENTURE SUMMIT from Jon Beck on Vimeo.

viagra on Flickr”>Oil Change

Changed the oil this past week as part of the 12,000 mile maintenance. Everything went smoothly. This was the second time doing it for me so it went pretty quickly. The process is to remove the bash plate, loosen the drain plug a bit (makes it easier to remove later when the engine is warm), remove the left side cover, then warm up the engine for a bit. Loosen the top drainplug a little, then remove the top oil container thing, then fully remove the drainplug and tilt the container to empty out the oil into a jug or something. After that is done, replace the drainplug and put the top oil container back into place. Next, remove the bottom drain plug and empty out the oil. Clean the drainplug and any debris that the magnet may have trapped. Put a new crush washer on, and tighten the drainplug. Next, remove the front sprocket cover, and get ready to remove the oil filter cover which means to make sure and have your makeshift funnel ready. BMW will sell you the funnel for $65, but I opted for the beercan method (see photo above). Remove the old oil filter and replace with a new one (put a little fresh oil on the rubber seal first). Put a new gasket on the cover, and put it back together. Next put 2 liters of oil in the top, then let the engine run for 30 seconds. Add .3 more liters. Replace bash plate and side cover and you’re done. Easy peasy!

In addition to the oil change, I bled the brakes and put in some fresh DOT-4 brake fluid. Now the brake action feels a lot more solid.

Spark Plug Change

I just never get tired of these videos/stories!
Lone Star BMW/Triumph recently hosted an off-road clinic given by RawHyde Adventures, this which is an official BMW training center. The clinic is basically a short intro to what you learn at the full RawHyde Camp, emergency and it was free so I made sure to RSVP as soon as I could. The clinic was held at the Capitol City Trap and Skeet Club which was about a half-hour ride from my house.

The Big Trailer

The class was scheduled to start at 10am and I decided to go early. I arrived at 9:15 and was glad I did. I was a little nervous riding in since it was on gravel and I’m not so comforatble riding on the stuff, especially at slow speeds. By arriving so early, there wasn’t a huge audience to scrutinize my riding ability! I really didn’t want to drop my bike just pulling into the place. But it was all good since everyone seemed pretty cool and probably wouldn’t care. We’re all there to learn, after all! (I did just fine, btw)

My Bike

I was maybe the fifth person to arrive and got to chat with a couple of the riders. The cool part was checking out the other bikes, which were of course BMW machines. It turned out there were a couple Yamaha TW200s that Robert Krull (one of the owners of Lone Star BMW/Triumph) had trailered over just in case someone wanted to train on a smaller bike. There were several 650cc bikes like my own, but most were the big 1150 or 1200 GS models with a couple 800cc bikes thrown in for good measure. Besides myself there were several other newbies in the group. Everyone was really cool and the two instructors from RawHyde, Shawn and Lance, put everyone at ease and made sure everyone felt comfortable.

Demonstration

We started out with a ganeral overview of the clinic, and then a demonstration of proper riding posture and technique. It was really interesting and neat to see some real experienced riders explaining how riding an adventure bike is properly done. Next came individual one-on-one bike inspections, where Shawn and Lance went to each bike/rider and evaluated the riding position, lever position, and made recommendations on any kind of upgrades we may want to make in the future. They also performed adjustments to pegs and handlebars right there and then if needed. It was so cool! When Shawn took a look at my bike, he recommended some lower pegs (which I knew about) and some guards for the radiator. He said that the 650 single’s radiator was prone to damage from the side if you dropped the bike. Other than that he said my bike was nicely equipped with the handguards, Heidenau tires, and bar risers. It was funny, but because I had taped over the Barkbusters logo on the handguards he asked what kind they were. When I told him about the tape, he (and the others standing around watching) said that was a cool idea. Apparently other people felt like I did and would rather not have the big white advertisement on the front of the bike. We also aired down the tires to 25psi in preparation for the riding, and learned how to disable the ABS systems on our bikes. Shawn showed me how to semi-permanently disable the ABS on the 650 by simply disconnecting the front sensor cable. Good to know!

Prepping the Bikes

After the inspections were done, we hit the course for some training. This consisted of riding as slow as we could over the dirt/grass. The point of this exercise was to keep your focus towards the distance (don’t look down), get proper riding posture, and get comfortable using the friction zone. It was pretty fun, and riding around the small range was really confidence inspiring. The instructors said that each exercise builds upon the previous ones and that we’d be learning about 5 of the 30 or so techniques they teach at their full camp.

More Attendees

There were a lot of bikes at the clinic (maybe about 30?) so the queue was a bit long. But I have to say that I learned a lot just being in line. Moving forward over the uneven ground for 20 feet, then stopping, then doing it again was nice practice. Especially having to turn, while scooting along over small rocks and washes was kind of fun. I thought for sure that I’d drop my bike at some point but I made it through the day without any mishap! While in the queue, there was a bit of excitement behind me. I’m not sure exactly what happened but I heard a revving of an engine, then saw a bike on its side. Then I saw another bike behind it on its side as well, runing into the first bike. It was just a small collision but I think one of the bikes had a broken auxiliary light.

The Queue

After another time around the range, this time with Shawn trying to distract each rider, it was time for a break. Burgers, beans, and iced tea were provided by Texas Rib Kings and we all sat at the covered pavilion and chatted about bikes and rides. It was fun and I met a few of the other riders. It was getting really hot out so the lunch was a good time to cool down and get hydrated. After lunch there was another demonstration of how to pick up a bike that is on its side. The two ladies in the group each picked up the huge 1200GS on their own using the technique shown to us. It was pretty cool.

Look Ahead

Back on the range our next drill was executing a “trail stop”, which is coming to a stop then accelerating again — all while standing on the pegs. We also were told to use only our front brake. This was really good because everyone got to put away the notion that you should never use your front brake on dirt. Sure, you can’t use it as forcefully as you can on the pavement, but it is effective. When I first did the trail stop, Shawn said I was stopping too slowly and that I should grab more brake. He said that if you come to a stop while deccelerating too gradually, you’ll lose your balance a lot quicker. So the next time, I braked a bit harder and sure enough, I had more balance and could easily do a trail stop. This stuff really works!

Training

The next drill was the one I was really looking forward to: tight turns. This was a exercise in body positioning and counter-balancing, and also looking ahead to the next turn. I did pretty good at it although I did go through the turns a little fast. But the more I practiced, the better I got. There was a second part of this course which was a series of even tighter turns, but I wasn’t successful in pulling those off! Some of the other riders had a ton of skill and could do those turns on their monstrous 1200 GSs. It was really impressive! I did stall my bike’s engine a few times during this section of the clinic, but I always started it up while still standing on the pegs. I got pretty good at that!

At around 2pm, the clinic came to a close and everyone packed up their things, aired up their tires, and rode off. It was a fantastic day and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. I know I did, and I feel like I learned a ton! I know that I can trust the bike more and that by using the proper technique, some of the things I was really worried about can be overcome. In fact, that apprehension that I had about arriving in front of all the other riders is gone now. And I’d love to take the full RawHyde Adventure Camp sometime in the future!

During a Break
Kiki is nearing the 12, dentist 000 mile mark which means a bunch of service needs to be done and I’m trying to do most of it myself to save a bit of cash. One of the things I haven’t done before on the GS is change the spark plugs. Although my bike is a single-cylinder model, medicine it’s a “dual-spark” which means there are two spark plugs. I decided to use the stock NGK DR8EB plugs as replacements and the price for these were about $4.50 each as opposed to an Iridium plug which goes for upwards of $20. Too pricey for me and the performance difference is debatable.

prosthetic on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/barron/7360246006/”>157/366 - NGK Sparkplugs

For a nice guide on how to change the spark plugs, you can check out the FAQ at the Chain Gang site. However, there were a few parts of the procedure that could use a little more detail. For my 2007 model, I’d recommend taking off the plastics, removing the snorkel, the battery, and the battery tray. By doing this, you can access the tops of the coil/caps. There is a grey rubber sleeve that secures the coil to a metal mount, and you’ll want to turn the coil so that the sleeve comes off of the metal mount. After that, you can pull the coil/cap up off of the plug. It’s easier if you have small hands. For the coil/cap on the side, you might be able to push that up from the side, rather than pull up from the top.

Click on the photos below to view at Flickr where you can see highlighted notes.

Spark Plug Replacement

Spark Plug Replacement

Once you get the coil/caps off, blow off the plug area with compressed air to get rid of any dirt. Next, you can use the spark plug socket included in the BMW toolkit to unscrew the plugs. For the center plug, you will have to drop the socket down onto it from by where the battery was. Then, use a big screwdriver and put it in the top of the socket. My plug was in there pretty tight, so I used some vice-grips on the screwdriver handle to turn the socket. Once you get the plugs out, just reverse the process and you’ll be done!

On my old Supercub, changing the plug would take only a couple minutes since it was so easily accessible. The BMW F650 GS’s plugs are tucked in there pretty tightly and there was plenty of cussing and sweating when I was figuring out how to do it. But now that I know how it’s done, the next change will be pretty easy. Anyways, I hope this post helps someone who might be unclear on what they have to do to change their plugs. You can always leave a comment here if you want me to contact you for more explanation!

New Tires

I finally got my tires mounted on my wheels. The original Metzeler Tourances lasted 10, this web 600 miles which I hear is pretty good for Texas roads. I opted to have the motorcycle shop mount the new Heidenau K76 to the rear wheel since this is notoriously difficult to do by yourself. It’s possible, but takes a lot of muscle. It has to do with the shape of the wheel which doesn’t have such a deep channel in the center. Anyways, the place I took it to charges only $26 if you bring in the wheel by itself. I really enjoy working on the bike as much as I can. I think it’s fun to figure out how stuff works; many times things turn out a lot simpler than originally thought. That’s the case with the way the wheels mount to the swingarm on the little GS. It’s very similar to my old Honda C70.

New Rear Tire Mounted

The Heidenau K60 Scout front tire I decided to mount by myself since it is supposed to be easier. I also wanted to make sure I knew how to do it in case I needed to on the road. Even though it is easier than the rear, the front still takes a bit of elbow grease, but there’s nothing magical about it. It’s just a matter of using the tire irons and getting leverage. Speaking of tire irons, I have on 16-inch Motion-Pro tire iron, and two smaller 8-inch generic tire irons. The 16-inch is excellent and helps a lot. I highly recommend having at least one. I might get another one if I can find one for cheap.

I also use a lubricant on the tire called Ru-Glyde. It makes the job much easier! The tire will slip over the rim easier saving you a lot of time and power. I also heard that a warm tire is a bit more pliable than a cold one, but it was about 50 degrees today and I didn’t feel like putting the tire in the oven! But I finally got the tire on. Woohoo! The most difficult part was fishing for the valve stem!

Ru-Glyde and ATF

The next thing I need to do is balance the tire as best I can. I actually didn’t know that the tires have markings on them to show you where to line it up with the valve stem to get it closer to balanced. I might need to break the bead again and shift the tire a bit, then rig up a homemade tire-balancing solution. There is a guide on the f650.com site which seems to work well so I will give that a shot.

New Front tire Mounted

I can’t wait to try out the new tires on some dirt. It should be a bit more stable than the Tourances. They won’t last as long as the Metzelers, but I’m expecting to get about 7-8,000 miles out of them which I will be happy with!

*Update*

I bought a 3/8-inch rod from the hardware store and used it to balance my tire. The BMW wheel has flat (non-tapered) bearings inside which supposedly make using a plain bar possible. Sure enough, it worked great. The tire easily rotated around and it wasn’t difficult to find the heavy spot on the tire, then affix the proper amount of weight on the other side. BTW, I went to CycleGear to buy some weights, but the guy there just gave me a strip of them for free!

CBOA Tire Balancing

A Little Cleaning

I found a great 1.5 hour ride from my house. It’s got nice twistied and elevation changes, treat mind a nice relaxing slow “sight-seeing” section with plenty to see, then on the return trip, the twisties again, but from the other direction. I’ve been down Cow Creek before (video) but this time was a lot more fun just because I am a lot more comfortable riding now. There are a couple potential water crossings (they were dry this time) that lead up to some tight turns and they were a little tricky the last time I went this route. This time was a breeze however. The slow-speed manouvering practice really pays off.

Lovely Road

The weather was absolutely perfect for riding – plenty of clouds overhead to keep the lighting interesting and the temperatures down, a very light wind. I really like Cow Creek because there is no traffic to speak of. I saw two cars and one person out for a morning walk.

Ushi

The highlight of the ride was seeing my first-ever skunk in the wild. I was riding at around 25mph and I saw it crossing the road from right to left up ahead. By the time I passed him, he was on the edge of the road and I saw his tail flip up. I scooted out of there pretty quickly then had to laugh to myself.

Cow Creek

After Cow Creek, I headed back south to meet up with 1431 again for the ride back. That stretch of 1431 is the funnest part IMO of that road. I kept it in 4th gear the whole time, which kept the bike in a nice powerband. I saw more people riding their motorcycles than ever before on 1431, which was pretty cool. But I honestly was getting tired of waving at everyone. Still, I stuck my hand out at everyone to not be a jerk.

6-25-2011 Ride

Anyways, this is one of my favorite rides and I am sure I will be doing it many more times.

Time: 1H 35M
Odometer: 65.36 Mi
Moving Avg: 41.0 MPH
Max Speed: 68.1 MPH
On Fathers’ Day morning I went out for a ride that I found out about on Two-Wheeled Texans. It follows Old Hwy 20 which runs roughly parallel to Hwy 290 east of Austin. It’s a pretty nice ride with a couple miles of hard-packed dirt. That’s the part I was really looking forward to actually. I haven’t really ridden off-pavement so I was pretty excited to ride on it. The Metzeler Tourance tires did fine on the hard dirt; the bike never got squirrelly except when I hit a larger stone. I even got to stand up on the pegs (even though I didn’t really have to).

Another nice thing about Hwy 20 is that the route goes past pine trees, tablets which are not common in Texas, side effects at least central Texas. The pine trees smelled so good too!

Orange Dirt

One part about the ride that I didn’t enjoy was that I had bought a coolmax skullcap. It’s supposed to act as a helmet liner which will soak up the sweat and keep your helmet padding cleaner. Well, about an hour into the ride I started getting a headache and it got worse and worse. I was thinking it was because I didn’t have any caffiene yet or that I was getting dehydrated or something. I was actually drinking plenty of water, and the headache didn’t feel like it usually does when I skip my morning coffee. Plus it was a little early for the caffiene withdrawal to hit. So eventually I figured out that it must be the helmet liner. Sure enough, as soon as I took it off, the headache went away and the ride was enjoyable again! I guess I got too small a size or something, which is a disappointment because I spent $10 on the thing.

Pretty Morning Clouds

I learned a couple things on the ride. First, riding on the hard-packed dirt is fun! I also learned that the footpegs on my bike are too narrow. Most people replace them with wider pegs. Standing up on the pegs is really fun too, but you need to kind of use your knees to stabilize yourself against the tank. Also, you can’t look in the mirrors when you are standing up! I’d really like to take some off-road classes sometime. Maybe for my birthday I will ask for some as a gift. Would be really cool!

Old Bridge

6-19-2011 Ride
On Fathers’ Day morning I went out for a ride that I found out about on Two-Wheeled Texans. It follows Old Hwy 20 which runs roughly parallel to Hwy 290 east of Austin. It’s a pretty nice ride with a couple miles of hard-packed dirt. That’s the part I was really looking forward to actually. I haven’t really ridden off-pavement so I was pretty excited to ride on it. The Metzeler Tourance tires did fine on the hard dirt; the bike never got squirrelly except when I hit a larger stone. I even got to stand up on the pegs (even though I didn’t really have to).

Another nice thing about Hwy 20 is that the route goes past pine trees, store which are not common in Texas, tuberculosis at least central Texas. The pine trees smelled so good too!

Orange Dirt

One part about the ride that I didn’t enjoy was that I had bought a coolmax skullcap. It’s supposed to act as a helmet liner which will soak up the sweat and keep your helmet padding cleaner. Well, about an hour into the ride I started getting a headache and it got worse and worse. I was thinking it was because I didn’t have any caffiene yet or that I was getting dehydrated or something. I was actually drinking plenty of water, and the headache didn’t feel like it usually does when I skip my morning coffee. Plus it was a little early for the caffiene withdrawal to hit. So eventually I figured out that it must be the helmet liner. Sure enough, as soon as I took it off, the headache went away and the ride was enjoyable again! I guess I got too small a size or something, which is a disappointment because I spent $10 on the thing.

Pretty Morning Clouds

I learned a couple things on the ride. First, riding on the hard-packed dirt is fun! I also learned that the footpegs on my bike are too narrow. Most people replace them with wider pegs. Standing up on the pegs is really fun too, but you need to kind of use your knees to stabilize yourself against the tank. Also, you can’t look in the mirrors when you are standing up! I’d really like to take some off-road classes sometime. Maybe for my birthday I will ask for some as a gift. Would be really cool!

Old Bridge

Empty Road

6-19-2011 Ride

Odometer: 147.43 miles
Moving Time: 3:38
Moving Average: 40.5 mph
Max Speed: 74.0 mph
I found a great 1.5 hour ride from my house. It’s got nice twistied and elevation changes, human enhancement a nice relaxing slow “sight-seeing” section with plenty to see, pills then on the return trip, the twisties again, but from the other direction. I’ve been down Cow Creek before (video) but this time was a lot more fun just because I am a lot more comfortable riding now. There are a couple potential water crossings (they were dry this time) that lead up to some tight turns and they were a little tricky the last time I went this route. This time was a breeze however. The slow-speed manouvering practice really pays off.

Lovely Road

The weather was absolutely perfect for riding – plenty of clouds overhead to keep the lighting interesting and the temperatures down, a very light wind. I really like Cow Creek because there is no traffic to speak of. I saw two cars and one person out for a morning walk.

Ushi

The highlight of the ride was seeing my first-ever skunk in the wild. I was riding at around 25mph and I saw it crossing the road from right to left up ahead. By the time I passed him, he was on the edge of the road and I saw his tail flip up. I scooted out of there pretty quickly then had to laugh to myself.

Cow Creek

After Cow Creek, I headed back south to meet up with 1431 again for the ride back. That stretch of 1431 is the funnest part IMO of that road. I kept it in 4th gear the whole time, which kept the bike in a nice powerband. I saw more people riding their motorcycles than ever before on 1431, which was pretty cool. But I honestly was getting tired of waving at everyone. Still, I stuck my hand out at everyone to not be a jerk.

6-25-2011 Ride

Anyways, this is one of my favorite rides and I am sure I will be doing it many more times.

Time: 1H 35M
Odometer: 65.36 Mi
Moving Avg: 41.0 MPH
Max Speed: 68.1 MPH
malady on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/barron/5874047771/”>Cleaning

I was cleaning the chain using ATF the other day and upon close inspection, therapy I found that the PJ1-Black I was using was all over the chain guard, glaucoma and also the rear wheel. Probably my fault for using too much. But anyways I decided to do a little clean up. I used a little ATF on a rag and shined up the wheel, then removed the chainguard and cleaned it and the swingarm.

Gleaming

It’s looking pretty shiny, but I actually like the look of a dirty bike more. But the greasy wheel made for some dirty air pressure checking so I think this cleaning is a good thing.

Chain Maintenance

I’ve been following Jay’s trip for a few month now. He posts some really good riding videos, capsule drugs with great accompanying music. He’s living the dream. Enjoy!

I’ve been following Jay’s trip for a few month now. He posts some really good riding videos, drugs with great accompanying music. He’s living the dream. Enjoy!
stomatology
on Flickr”>Aloha

A message to those behind me that I mean no harm. (special thanks to my wife)
surgeon on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/barron/5701023878/”>Washing

I’ve had my motorcycle for a whole year now and I haven’t washed it once. It’s kind of a tradition that GS’s are supposed to be dirty. I’ve read that at some GS rallies, caries your bike will be disqualified from show contests if it is too clean. I guess since it is an “adventure bike”, it’s meant to be covered in mud. This lack of motorcycle hygiene suits my lazy demeanor just fine. Actually, I do take care of maintenance and clean/lube the chain pretty often, but most surface areas never get cleaned. I just wipe the headlight, taillight and blinkers every so often and that’s enough for me. A couple Sundays ago my kids and I were washing my wife’s car for Mother’s Day and the kids said they wanted to wash the bikes, including my motorcycle. I wouldn’t call it a proper washing (more like a rinse) but I guess once a year won’t hurt, right?
abortion on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/barron/5701023878/”>Washing

I’ve had my motorcycle for a whole year now and I haven’t washed it once. It’s kind of a tradition that GS’s are supposed to be dirty. I’ve read that at some GS rallies, this site your bike will be disqualified from show contests if it is too clean. I guess since it is an “adventure bike”, this it’s meant to be covered in mud. This lack of motorcycle hygiene suits my lazy demeanor just fine. Actually, I do take care of maintenance and clean/lube the chain pretty often, but most surface areas never get cleaned. I just wipe the headlight, taillight and blinkers every so often and that’s enough for me. A couple Sundays ago my kids and I were washing my wife’s car for Mother’s Day and the kids said they wanted to wash the bikes, including my motorcycle. I wouldn’t call it a proper washing (more like a rinse) but I guess once a year won’t hurt, right?
pestilence on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/barron/5814052600/”>Chain Stuff

Ever since I first fixed up my Supercub, more info I’ve been pretty good about keeping the chain in good condition. There’s plenty of debate as to the best way to take care of the chain, but a trusted source on the Honda C70 Yahoo! Group used PJ1-Black so I bought a can and used it. It seemed to work well, and when I got my GS, I kept on using it. A guy at the local motorcycle dealership gave me some more tips on cleaning the chain and I’ve been using the technique he gave me. Basically use some chain cleaner (I have the Motul stuff) and a brush (I have a grunge brush) to clean the chain. Wipe off with a rag. Then go for a short ride to warm up the chain a bit and finally apply your lube of choice. Let the lube set for a couple hours and then you are good to go.

Like I said earlier, PJ1-Black seems to work fine, but I think I spray on too much of the stuff. The sprocket cover has quite a bit of the black gunk on it. Cleaning that off was a messy affair! I did recently find a can of PJ1-Blue while cleaning up the garage. Not sure when I bought this but I might as well give it a try sometime.

But after reading a bit more, I think I will try just using Automatic Transmission Fluid. The advantage of this is that it will clean and lube all in one shot. Plus ATF is really cheap, and I like the CBOA approach. Some people apply it with a brush, while others use a spray bottle. I guess I will use a brush and see how it goes. Anyways, after 7,000 miles my chain and sprockets still look great. I really don’t know if the lubes really help all that much or if it is just another way to spend money. From what I have read, I think that the most important thing is to keep the chain clean and free from dirt and grime and the tension adjusted correctly.

Incidentally, I just saw a video from Touratech and Helge Pederson where he talks a bit about chain maintenance. Enjoy!

Washing the Bike

I’ve been following Jay’s trip for a few month now. He posts some really good riding videos, capsule drugs with great accompanying music. He’s living the dream. Enjoy!

I’ve been following Jay’s trip for a few month now. He posts some really good riding videos, drugs with great accompanying music. He’s living the dream. Enjoy!
stomatology
on Flickr”>Aloha

A message to those behind me that I mean no harm. (special thanks to my wife)
surgeon on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/barron/5701023878/”>Washing

I’ve had my motorcycle for a whole year now and I haven’t washed it once. It’s kind of a tradition that GS’s are supposed to be dirty. I’ve read that at some GS rallies, caries your bike will be disqualified from show contests if it is too clean. I guess since it is an “adventure bike”, it’s meant to be covered in mud. This lack of motorcycle hygiene suits my lazy demeanor just fine. Actually, I do take care of maintenance and clean/lube the chain pretty often, but most surface areas never get cleaned. I just wipe the headlight, taillight and blinkers every so often and that’s enough for me. A couple Sundays ago my kids and I were washing my wife’s car for Mother’s Day and the kids said they wanted to wash the bikes, including my motorcycle. I wouldn’t call it a proper washing (more like a rinse) but I guess once a year won’t hurt, right?

Maintenance Day – Changing the Coolant

weight loss on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/barron/5152245945/”>My F650 GS

I had a few hours free this morning so I decided to ride over to the coffee shop and get some caffiene. After that, help I dropped off a book at the library then was planning to go home and relax but then I thought I would ride to the nearby school’s parking lot and practice some u-turns. I still have some trouble making these and the last time I practiced, angina I just wasn’t feeling it. I was a little tired and just couldn’t concentrate. I was disappointed because the previous time, I was really getting the hang of it.

But this morning I was fired up (most likely the coffee) and figured I might as well use this opportunity to sharpen my skills rather than just go home and play video games. I’m happy to say that it was clicking for me today and I was making much tighter turns, and my muscle-memory was taking over. That was really cool because I didn’t have to think so much about controlling the clutch and throttle. It just all seemed to work naturally.

A few months ago I bought the book Proficient Motorcycling by David L. Hough. It filled with great information that every motorcyclist should know. One surprisingly short section deals with u-turns and I picked up a couple good tips. I learned that to do a tight turn, you really need to lean the bike over. If you are just slow-speed turning with the bike perpendicular to the ground your turning radius is pretty large. So large in fact that you probably won’t be able to pull off a u-turn on a two lane street. (I know from personal experience!) So first, you need to throw the bike into a lean, while turning the handlebars pretty sharply. Then you need to use the clutch to control the stability. It helps to keep the throttle at a constant rev, and then just feather the clutch. To make a tighter turn, pull in the clutch lever. If the bike is leaning over too much and you feel like it’s tipping, let out the clutch and that power will straighten you up. After a while of practicing that, I started using the throttle more in conjuction with the clutch (and not having just a constant rev). This part is where the muscle memory and practice really paid off. Now when I feel the bike is at the tipping point, I don’t have to think about what to do to get it back in control. My left hand automatically lets out the clutch, and my right applies a bit more throttle. This is a really cool feeling!

A couple other things help me with the u-turns. First is keeping my body and head more perpendicular to the ground, and using the footpegs to maintain balance. It’s like when you are riding a bike up a hill and you stand up to get more pedaling power. The bike leans from side to side as you pump, while your body is pretty much straight up and down. On the motorcycle, you can lean the bike over, then apply pressure to the opposite peg to help balance it.

Another thing that helps is to look where you want to go. That’s one of the first things they teach you in the MSF class. And when you are doing u-turns you not only look with your eyes, but you crane your neck around pretty far. For me, I kind of just imagine the line I want to be taking, then look along that line about 20 feet out. In MSF, they say that if you see an obstacle in the road, don’t fixate on it, because you will head right towards it. For u-turns, I use this target fixation to help me guide where I want the bike to go. Kind of neat since it works!

I’ve also read that it helps to “drag” the rear brake as this will supposedly stabilize the bike. I’ve tried this a little bit, but was probably applying too much brake, since I stalled it out a couple times. Hopefully as the rest of the process becomes second-nature, I can add this element into the mix.

I still need to practice (never stop learning!) especially in one key area. I have trouble initiating the turn immediately from a stop. I usually need about five to eight feet of straight line acceleration before throwing it into the lean. In a few videos I’ve seen online, the rider will turn the bars first, then accelerate directly into a tight turn. Looks so easy! Hopefully I can improve in that area. Looking forward to the day that it “clicks” for me!
pharmacy on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/barron/5561824687/”>CL-MAX

I ordered a new helmet to replace my 5-year old HJC CL-14. I really like the CL-14, but it’s getting old and it’s recommended that you buy a new helmet every 3-5 years because the materials degenerate. Not sure how much of that is true but it’s a good excuse to get some new goodies. For the new helmet, I wanted to get a modular. This kind has a chinbar that flips up. It’s kind of convenient in that you can flip it up to talk to people or go into the gas station without having to take the whole helmet off (and reveal your helmet-hair). I’ve had my eye on the Shoei Multitec but they are pretty expensive. I tried on the Schuberth C3 which and it was so nice — super comfortable and slim-looking. The only problem is that it goes for $699.

So I decided to keep with HJC, which is a decent brand and fits my head well. The CL-MAX came down in price (60% off!) so I decided it was time. I went with a silver color to match my bike. I know white is safer but really liked the look of the silver one. The noise level compared to my old CL-14 is less on the whole, but the main difference is that I don’t hear as much low sound from wind turbulence. Most of the noise is higher-pitched which probably comes from the extra seams in the helmet for the flip-up chinbar. This shifting of the noise frequency is good because earplugs should really remove the highs. The padding inside the helmet seems a whole lot better. The ear-pocket is better protected from wind which means less fatigue when riding at 65mph.

Another plus about the CL-MAX is that it uses the same visor latch size as my CL-14. That means I can use my dark smoke shield on it (and save $25).

BTW, I am a firm believer in ATGATT, which stands for “All The Gear, All The Time”. Motorcycle boots, pants, gloves, jacket, and helmet every time I ride. Besides being safer, it’s also a great excuse to get some nice gear!
I ran across an amazing ride report from DaveG last night. He’s currently on his RTW trip on a Suzuki DRZ400. Before that, pharmacy he rode his BMW F650 GS from Texas down to Tierra del Fuego. Incredible! I was doing a YouTube search on “Austin Motorcycle” and found an old video of his in which he and a friend go off-road for the first time on their DL650 Vstroms. It’s so interesting to see the progression from that video, psychotherapist to the trip to the tip of the South America, decease and even more exciting to follow his travels around the world. I really envy and admire travelers like this. I’m so glad that he shares all this on his blog with good gear lists and bike info. Great stuff. Good luck Dave!
tadalafil on Flickr” href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/barron/5630569203/”>Bike Maintenance

Another day of routine maintenance on the bike. This time it’s a coolant change. Looked like it would be a super easy job. It turns out it was simple, but a little frustrating at one point. The F650 GS takes the normal 50/50 antifreeze coolant so it’s a really cheap bit of work. The only other thing you need to buy is a small copper crush washer, size A6X10. I just ordered a few from Lonestar BMW for 40 cents each. I also bought a funnel that had some marks on the side of it so I would know exactly how much antifreeze I was putting in. It turns out this funnel is unnecessary so I will be returning it.

First, you need to start with a cold bike. Then, remove the left-side faux tank cover so you have access to the radiator cap and reservoir tank. Next, unscrew the radiator cap and remove the reservoir cover. After that, loosen the drain plug at the bottom of the water pump cover. Make sure you have some kind of container to catch the old coolant. I used an old water jug and a big funnel. When taking out the drain plug (and washer) make sure not to drop it into the old coolant. You’ll also need to disconnect the radiator hose to get the fluid out of the radiator. Lastly, remove the reservoir and dump the old coolant that was in there. Reattach the hose, put a new crush washer on the drainplug, apply a little loctite, then tighten it back up.

Next I wanted to bleed the cooling system and to do this, you are supposed to attach a tube to the bleed valve, then loosen it and start adding coolant to the radiator. Any air in the system will be forced out and when you see a steady stream of coolant coming out, tighten the bleed valve. The problem I had was that I couldn’t for the life of me find the bleed valve. I had a photo from f650.com and also the photo from the official service manual. I must have spent 20 minutes searching! Well, it turns out that the twin-spark F650 GS’s do not have a bleed valve, but just a regular bolt instead. This makes bleeding the cooling system a little trickier. Since you can’t attach a tube, I ended up sticking a straw into the hole. Positioned under the other side of the straw was the water jug and funnel. I started adding fluid to the radiator, and when I saw fresh coolant coming out of the straw, I quickly popped the bold back in there. It was a little messy and I’m not sure a little air didn’t get back in there, but what are you gonna do?

Next I topped up the radiator with coolant, and put some in the reservoir to the MIN line. I put the radiator and reservoir caps back on, then started up the bike. After about 10 minutes the fan kicked in which meant it was warmed up. Then I let it cool down and unscrewed the radiator cap and topped it up again. I also filled the reservoir to the max level. I put the plastics back on the bike, and was done! Later on I went for a ride and then checked the coolant level again, but it was the same level.

This was my first coolant change, and they recommend you change it every 2,000 miles so I was well overdue. It’s an easy and quick procedure, so I will be doing ti following the recommended schedule! Next maintenance that I would like to do is a valve check. This will be a little more involved, but I’d rather do it myself since service at the dealer is crazy expensive!

BMW F650 GS – Changing the Brake Fluid

Today I changed the brake fluid on my GS. The speedometer is at 6, prescription orthopedist 772, tadalafil so it was a little overdue. I think this is the first time it was changed. The old fluid was looking dark in the reservoir, that’s for sure!

With the stock bleeder screws, this would be a two-person operation, where one person would loosen the valve, then the second person would squeeze the brake lever, then the first person would tighten the valve so no air would go back into the system when the brake lever is released. I figured I’d be changing the brake fluid often so I bought a pair of “Speedbleeders“. These are replacement bleeder screws which have a one way valve which won’t let any air back into the system when you release the brake.

Before I could do that, however, I had to change out the stock bleeder screws with the new Speedbleeders. This was pretty easy just using an 11mm wrench. When you are doing this, some of the old fluid is going to come out so it’s best to have some rags or paper towels on hand and maybe put some cardboard on the ground. Brake fluid supposedly eats through paint, so be careful not to get it on any painted parts. I also wore some rubber gloves that I had leftover from when I used to work on the Supercub. Another tip is to not open up the brake fluid reservoir until after you are done replacing the bleeder screws so that there is at least some vacuum pressure keeping the fluid from free-flowing out.

Unscrew the old bleeder screw, then screw the Speedbleed in by hand to make sure you are threading it correctly. Then use the wrench to tighten it all the way down until it seats. There’s some sealing material on the threads, so it will take a little muscle to screw them in. Don’t over-tighten them, however!

Once the new Speedbleeders are installed, it’s time to bleed those brakes! You’ll need to have some rubber tubing and a receptacle for the old fluid. I purchased these from Speedbleeder.com for several bucks. It looks like an IV bag that you’d see at the hospital. I put the bag in a bottle just to keep it upright during the process. Attach the tube to the Speedbleeder nipple, then unscrew Speedbleeder about a quarter to a half turn. At this point I opened the brake fluid reservoir and started pumping the brake lever. The old brake fluid will come through the tube and into the bag. Pump it slowly a few times and keep an eye on the reservoir. Make sure to fill it up with the new brake fluid when it gets low. Don’t let the level go into the tube. So just pump and fill until the fluid coming out the Speedbleeder and into the baggie is a nice clear color and you don’t see any air bubbles. This might take a while. Once that is done, tighten the Speedbleeder screw, remove the plastic tubing, and make sure you fill the reservoir up to the correct level. Close up the reservoir and try out the new (hopefully firmer) brake action.

Rear Brake Fluid Reservoir
Nice, new brake fluid in the rear reservoir

Lastly, you can put the little covers over the Speedbleeder nipple. The one they provide is really cheap, so I used the old stock BMW covers which have a retaining ring. By the way, you can put this on after the operation is done since the retaining ring is stretchy enough to go over the bolt.

Front SpeedBleeder Screw with Cap Off
New front Speedbleeder with cap (off)

Old Bleeder Screw
Old BMW bleeder screw

New Rear SpeedBleeder Screw
The shiny new Speedbleeder on the rear

New Rear SpeedBleeder Screw with Cheap Cover
The cheap nipple cap that came with the kit

Front SpeedBleeder Screw with Cap
With the old BMW cap back on

IV Bag
The tube leading to the receptacle

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