Saturday 7th October 2017. What to do with a flat tyre on a cruiser?

A few weeks ago I had a flat tyre on the rear wheel on the V-Star. A bit frustrating but no matter, a chance to try a few things. Dirt bikes are easy, cruisers are not so much. I suspected that bot only was the tube pierced where a screw had gone in but also has split near the valve. I attempted to replace the tube myself but lacked confidence in breaking the tyre bead away from the rim. So after removal, I took the wheel and spare tube to Tyres for Bikes at Albion, who fixed it all straightaway.

This flat tyre gave me a chance to find out a few things. First, it avtually doesn't take much to take the rear wheel off or to re-install it. Here are all the tools you need:

Of course, a lift is a big help. There are other ways to raise the bike, but as of today, these are now less than $200.00 at most auto stores in Australia.

The other thing I learnt is that some of the instant aerosol flat repair products actually do work. They can leave the tube a mess but will get you home. So I now carry a can of the Motul product with me. This puts to rest a worry I have always had nagging me about what to do if I get a flat whilst travelling. The Motul can will always get me to a town where I can have a bike shop replace a tube.

Saturday 26 August 2017. Update on hearing protection modification.

Well ... it worked!

After a week and a bit, the little holes in the earplugs seem to hsve made quite a difference. Simply put, the earplugs stay in when putting the helmet on and taking it off. No more looking on the ground for a fallen earplug and having to clean it off afterwards. They also seem to sit in better whilst riding.

A massive improvement in function and ease of use. All at the righr price of nada, zip, nothing. A good result.

Monday 14 August 2017. Improving hearing protection (I hope)

Riding motorcycles has a number of health hazards when compared to driving in a car. The most obvious is the greater opportunity for a crash and off course, the lower body protection available. However there are other health hazards, such as the nerve damage I mentioned in previous posts, early onset of arthritis and hearing loss, among others. Almost all of these are preventable, you just need to listen to your body and use a bit of sense.

Hearing loss is easily preventable by paying attention to your windshield, helmet and wearing hearing protection. The last year I have been a bit slack on the hearing protection because the windshield and helmet combination I currently use has been quite effective. Additionally, I often get annoyed when the hearing protection I prefer to use (silicon molded ear plugs) doesn't stay in place. They seem to get 'pushed out' by air trapped in the ear when inserting them.

On the weekend I had some time to wonder why the molded ear plugs do not fit as snugly as I would like. Looking ahead, I think its time to start planning for some longer trips. This means wondering how I may re-intro music whilst riding. With the Shoei Neotec helmet comes removable pads that facilitate helmet speakers. So how do I bring everything together; pleasant sounds to penetrate the hearing protection, hearing protection that reduces unpleasant sound such as road noise and wind noise and also doesn't fall out?

My best guess is based on observation of professionally made hearing protection. A lot of them have a small hole through the centre. This is where I am headed with this:

  • I hazard a guess that this allows air to escape whilst putting the ear plugs in, thus allowing a better fit. I think that makes sense.
  • If the outside of the hole faces the centre of the helmet speakers, that should facilitate the music flowing through a bit better.
  • And finally, if the hole goes through the thickest part of the ear plugs, it should have the minimum effect on reducing the unwanted noise.

So I drilled a 3mm / 1/8 inch hole in the molded ear plugs as you can see on the pictures. Why 3 mm? Just a guess, based on what I could see from professionally made earplugs. This morning I tried them out. Certainly they do fit better and do not fall out, so that's a good start. In terms of unwanted road noise, the hole doesn't seem to make any difference, so winner on two fronts; I'm very happy with a cheap fix that is nothing more than observation and guess work. I think the helmet speakers will work AOK and will organize to order a set soon. So far, all good. Great result at no cost.

Saturday 27 May 2017. Some thoughts on avoiding further nerve damage

During the last week I visited my GP to receive good news and bad news. The good news is that the test conducted in the last month came in all perfect. The bad news is that by process of elimination, the problems I have had with my hands any feet, known as peripheral neuropathy, or sticking and glove neuropathy, is most likely from the vibration that comes with riding the motorcycles. So now I am faced with a few options:

1. Change nothing, keep riding and most likely continue to incur further nerve damage.

2. Mitigate the vibrations at every opportunity and easure the effect.

3. Give up riding altogether. The probable effects of option 1 are further nerge damage that may in turn, permanently affect the use of limbs, I don't want that.

It is also important to remember that once the cause of the nerve damage is identified and removed, the nerve endings can grow back at a rate of roughly 1 mm per month. As I also do not wish to give up riding altogether so how does mitigation sound? First, you must remember that my two current regular rides are a large air cooled single cylinder (the Suzuki DR800) and a air cooled V-Twin (the Yamaha V-Star). These two configurations are known to produce the most vibrations of any motocycle engine. Send, both bike are fairly old and their designs were not to be the smoothest bikes on the. A new, multi-cylinder parallel in line engine would significantly lower vibrations. Possible contenders include the BMW GS800, the mooted Yamaha advneture bike based on the MT07 engine and the Honda CRF1000. With Honda's reputation for smoothness and the fact that I know that Karen and I can fit on it fairly easily, at this stage the CRF1000 looks to be a contender. However, that will have to wait until I finish my studies and return to work full-time. In the meantime what can I do reduce the effects of the vibration? Here are a few things I plan to try:

1. Switch to gloves with impact absorbtion. For cold days, I have just switched to the Dririder Speed 2 gloves. You can find out more from this link.

2. Switch the handlebar grips to softer, more compliant grips. The Suzuki has been running Grip Puppies for some time and last weekend I changed the 14 year-old rubber grips with new Grip Puppies on the Yamaha as well. Early days but right now, that seems to help.

3. Put the Air Hawk air cushion back on. I did that last night and today's longer ride seems to have been comfortable for much longer. Certainly the literal "seat of the pants" test tends to indicate that the Air Hawk seat cushion does isolate vibrations. The Air Hawk is sandwiched between the stock seat and a the sheepskin seat cover on the Yamaha; again it is early days but my legs feel better than after more recent rides.

4. Purchase vibration isolation footpegs. I have not done this and am yet remain unconvinced that they work. Further study on this issue before I set to work on this.

Saturday 27 May 2017. A ride through the Lockyer Valley

Today a small group; Val, Trevor, Derek, Dorothy, Michael, Julie and I kicked off from MacDonalds at Yamanto and travelled some back roads. The route went through Peak Crossing, Harrisville, Warril View, Rosewood, Laidley, Lake Dyer, Forest Hill, Gatton and then lunch at Gatton. Some of us grabbed takeawy at the 'Floating Cafe', which was named after the Grantham Floods in 2011 and we all dined at Bugler Park, which is an excellent place to stop and refresh.

After lunch we stopped at Plainlands for a bit of a gourmet purchase. I grabbed several wursts and some imported Danish waffles, which Karen loves. Then up through Lowood, Esk, Grigor Creek Road, Kilcoy and then home. Dorothy lead us through Grigor Creek Road as I have never been on it; its quite a pleasant surprise, right up there with the Maidenwell-Upper Yamanto back road.

As usuall, these days I am enjoying the moment too much and forgot to take lots of photos. Here are two from Lake Dyer. Next time, we will go through Plainlands first, stop by Schulze's Meat Tavern and pick up some gourmet sausages to cook at Lake Dyer. Visiting this lake was another first time thing for me and it was quite spur of the moment but really worth it. Over the last ten years, the standard of public amenities all over south-east Queensland has really picked up and enjoying the great outdoors is better than ever.

Tuesday 24 May 2017. A few thoughts on mirrors and wind

As the three occasional readers of this blog may know, I have been experimenting for some time on ways to reduce the effects of wind on the helmet, especially noise and buffeting. Its just an interest to see how much I can learn about this without compromising on safety, protection from bugs and rear-view visibility.

On Monday whilst riding I noticed for the first time that the left-hand-side mirror on the Yamaha sits higher than the right-hand-side. This is due to the combined effects of the different stock Yamaha mounting points as well as blindly installing a matching riser to the thread adaptor when I installed aftermarket mirrors.

Basically, if I had measured the heights at the time, I would have realised that the left hand riser was not needed. The left hand mirror mounting point is different to the right-hand side and about three centimetres higher.

Anyhow, when I arrived home, I removed the left-hand-side riser and the mirrors are closer to level, although not perfectly matched. On this mornings ride, I could detect another lowering in buffeting, not a huge difference as it already is fairly low, but some. This seems to align well with the information from a few sources that indicate that the best way to reduce the effects of rear-view mirrors on air flow towards the body and helmet are:

1. Without compromising visibility, keep the mirrors low and out from the bike as possible.  and$18-mirrors-cure-buffeting.html .This does not reduce the buffeting and wind disruption, but places it away from the helmet and body as much as possible.

2. My own observation is to avoid, if possible, a sharp or 90 degree inside corner. Rather, look for mirrors that have a curved edge or even a straight edge from the mount as air flow over the top and inside planes flow a lot smoother. This was my experience with installing Yamaha Tenere mirrors on the Suzuki DR800 and then smaller circular mirrors. To date, the Tenere mirrors were the best ones I have used. To install them I used the Suzuki base mounts and Yamaha stalks.

3. This seems be be congruent with the designs from more expensive and faster bikes. They all have smoother top and inside edges as per the Aprilia ones below:

4. The smaller, the better. Without comprising rear-view visibility, it seems to make sense that the smaller the mirror, the less disruption to the air flow that can occur. I have yet to test this fully. Of course a smaller mirror may have to have a convex lens to provide the full coverage.

5. I suspect, but I am not sure, that if the body of the mirror casing has some shape that helps move the air in a more aerodynamic fashion, this would also help. The casings for the current old GSX-style mirrors are fairly flat, as are DR stock mirrors and it strikes me that these flat surfaces would be pushing the air in a range of uncontrolled directions.

Sunday 13 May 2017. Handgrip heater fix and replacement

Whilst driving from from morning tea with Karen, I had a bit of brainwave on how to fix the handgrip heater and also have some vibration reduction at very little cost. Went to work on repairing the heater and that came to zero cost. Replaced the actual handgrip on the throttle side also at zero cost but I will need to order a new set of Grip Puppies so as to ensure that the left side matches and that may come to about $35.00. Given that the original idea for a full repair would have been between $100.00 and $200.00, I am pleased with both the form and function of the final product: a set of grips with heat and improved vibration resistance. Should keep me riding for some more time to come. Click here for full write-up and photos.

Saturday 12 May 2017. New handguards for the V-Star

An afternoon set aside to move some furniture etc was cancelled, so I had a chance to finish a long delayed job. Taking the prototype DIY handguards as a guide, I built a new set using information gleaned from the recent windshield modification and the year or so of running the prototype guards. Here is the result:

The next job for this bike on the hand controls is to repair or replace the grip heaters. Due to a recent visit with my GP, I have become a bit concerned about the effects of the constant vibration on nerves in my hands and feet . Hopefully the tests that the GP sent me for reveal nothing more than a diet lacking in appropriate Vitamin B and the need to lose weight. Nonetheless I will be looking at aftermarket grips and footpegs that absorb a bit of vibration. We shall see where that journey takes me soon A bit about the science behind the design can be found at this link.