Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Orange is all right

I managed about 1400 miles of mostly back roads on the new orange machine and overall it's a good thing.  I do need a tweak to the seat for comfort, but otherwise everything worked well. 

It looks like fuel injection is a good thing for both power and fuel economy.  On two lane roads, even when the riding was spirited, I got 58 to 60 mpg.  The handling is very similar to the KLR, so it didn't take long for me to get comfortable.

As for the countryside, June is a nice time to be wandering about.  I started out in Ohio Amish country, progressed through W. Virginia, and spent time in the Cumberland Gap area where Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and N. Carolina come together.  Good stuff.

With the seat uncomfortable, somehow I didn't stop for many pictures.  Among the few, this is the highest pass in Kentucky.

I like this combination; family market, custom killing, and an Amish buggy.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Major Milestone - An Orange KTM

OK, I've still got stuff to do before I can ride into the sunset, but the list is getting shorter.  Short enough that I went out for a ride to test various issues and took some pictures.

Let see, we started with this in December in Virginia.

And ended up with this in May.  Wow, the seat looks like it's going to be much more comfortable.  I forgot how the original seat was so narrow.

The body panels are wrapped with vinyl.  This is my first experience with wraps and I hired a company to do it.  Early conclusions are that it is much cheaper and faster than paint.  The cost to have someone wrap these panels is about the same as the material cost for paint.  The color is great, although surface perfection is just as important as paint.  Defects show.  Also, I am getting a tiny bit of edges curling up.  More to learn.

The KTM rides more firmly than the KLR but it seems just sporty, not uncomfortable.  The handling is very similar to the KLR, so I'm finding confidence in the corners comes easily.  I wonder if I am ever going to have a bike that has a name that starts with a letter other than K?

Two thoughts on the orange and black.  No, I wasn't going for a "Great Pumpkin" look.  With the frame orange and the gas tank and other details black, I felt like a third color was kind of busy.  The bike has lots of surface shape with angles and facets everywhere.  For me, that meant the color on the body had to larger areas of color that follow the body shape.  Graphics and stripes just made it busy looking.

For years, I had a picture on the wall of my office of a Dakar KTM sponsored by 555 cigarettes.  Since they were racing in countries that didn't allow cigarette advertising,  they had a blue fairing with a line of white exclamation points down the front edge of the fairing.  From the front 3/4 view and the side, the fairing gave a long, angled line that was both distinctive and a little sculptural.  I was thinking that bike when I came up with the color scheme for this bike.

I think it's fair to say it is not your everyday sportbike or cruiser.  I think the guys at Rade Garage (fairing supplier) in the Czechia have done a great job of combining the look of a Dakar race bike with nice lines and form. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

I just can't help myself

The original plan for the KTM was to buy bolt-om parts from the aftermarket so this build wouldn't get in the way of other projects.  I know myself.  I can spend way too much time reinventing something that would have been fine without changes.

But then..... I just can't help myself.

The KTM came to me with a "fender elminator".  That is something that removes the part of the rear fender that extends back and down behind the rear tire and, frankly, looks ugly.  When I went to install the luggage racks, I found that the fender eliminator was far from acceptable.

That part is supposed to be part of the mounting for the rear grab handles which is also where the luggage rack mounts.  It needs to be a solid spacer between the tank and the rear fender, something for the grab handle bolts to squeeze.

The fender eliminator I found was either missing parts, badly designed, or both.  Basically, it was just rattling around back there.  So much so that a lot of powder coating had been worn away in just 600 miles.

Worse than that, it is heavy, thick wall steel with an open section design that lacks stiffness.  I just had to change it.

First step was to carve out some aluminum rails the would provide correct spacing for the luggage rack mount and form a structure for a closed section aluminum shape that would mount the turn signals, tail light, and license plate.  Making it a closed section made it stiff without a lot of weight.

Another part of this project was to move the turn signals because they were getting burned by the exhaust coming out of the muffler.  I changed to a compact LED design and moved them up and inward to get away from the exhaust.  Can you see the turn signal?  It's that round knob with a shiny ring around it just below the orange tail, above the tail light (clear plastic) and the license plate.  These are really cool turn signals and really bright.

Successful?  Yes!  The new parts are a lot lighter and also stiffer with no exhaust issues.  The cost, outside of dollars, the cost was 3 weeks of workshop time.  Man, I am so slow.

I've had to make other parts:

  • brake tube guide
  • GPS mount
  • Radar detector mount
  • front fender mount

So much for my good intentions of keeping this project short and easy.  But that's OK.  I am satisfied with the results for the most part.  And the bike is a keeper, a very good match for my riding style.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Fairing Color and Graphics - A few more options

I keep playing with the paint program.  I made the high front fender disappear, but haven't figured out how to add a low fender, so imagination is still required.  The low fender is carbon fiber so it will read as mostly black like the tire.

The orange frame and black trim limit the color choices.  My sister thought the right blue would be a good accent to the orange.  I think 3 colors is already a lot, so I may have to play with blue instead of white.  Of course, white was a natural since the body is already white plastic and it is opposite black on the color wheel.

One thing is clear.  When I try to break up the shapes, it starts looking patchy very quickly.  I started with the idea that I would use graphics and stripes, but I now think that it will have to remain fairly simple.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

KTM Update

 I have been working, a little at a time, trying to make the KTM mine.  One of the first tasks was to improve my fitting on the bike and build in some long distance comfort.  Below are the Knight Design footpegs I bought that are lowered a little more than 1 inch.  They help me in the fit department, but the "cleat" or traction surface looks like it would tear up my boot sole.  My boots don't have a hard rubber sole like dirt bike boots.

John C. came up with a great suggestion.  Why not just remove the cleat.  It's only attached by screws.  That would make the footpeg a little lower and I could have a better surface.  To his idea, I added some button head screws which will give me a little bit more traction without being so aggressive.

In the long distance comfort department, I sent my original seat into Bill Mayer Saddles for them to make me a wider and slightly higher seat.  The embossed seating surface and the KTM orange stitching are nice touches.   Also shown is the small Enduristan tank bag.  My goal is to put almost everything into panniers (Mosko) to keep the ability to swing my leg over the bike intact.  Of course, I still need a small place to put sunglasses, camera, gloves, etc.  So the Enduristan will serve for easy to get at items and keep everything dry.

Apparently, some 690 E riders have had holes punched in their radiator tank when they fall.  These little radiator protectors improve the toughness of the bottom of the tank and add practically nothing in weight.

Based on my experience with the KLR and forum chatter on the KTM, a high front fender (normal for a dirt bike and stock on the 690 E) is an aerodynamic lift and buffeting problem at highway speeds.  A low fender solves this problem and, I just like the way it looks.  This carbon fiber low fender is the same design as used in Dakar rally.  It took a bit of fiddling, but it fits properly now.

Naturally, I screwed up.  Since it was a race part, the surface wasn't perfect on arrival.  My mistake was thinking I could refinish it and improve those minor flaws.  Now, a couple of weeks work into it, I will be lucky if I can get to an acceptable appearance.  I'm pretty sure there will be more flaws than when I started.  Man that carbon fiber is stiff!

I have selected an aftermarket fairing and have it on order.  This one looks something like the most recent Dakar racers.  There were a few other options would have been very interesting, but I chose this one because it is a complete kit that is well thought out.  Also, my other options would have doubled the price.

These shots are of the prototype and have been downloaded from the Rade Garage website.

 Of course, the fairing isn't available yet, so I have been playing with color on the side view picture.  Notice that I removed the high front fender in the picture to give a better idea of how it would look with a low fender.  I've tried lots of idea, but the whole thing looks busy when you break up the shape with graphics.  At the moment, I am leaning toward a solid color with maybe an accent line or two.  Any thoughts?


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Charm School

In today's culture, charm school usually has a somewhat negative connotation.  It varies in meaning from something that a beauty queen might need to, in corporate lingo, something for a bad manager.  The second one is familiar from my experience.  When a boss is perceived as having poor people skills and may even be abusing the people working for him, then he is sent to charm school to learn the play acting required to seem like a good guy, even when he is not.

That's why I found this place so ironic.  In this case, the Charm School is exactly that, the local school in the village of Charm, Ohio.  Charm is a mixed Amish and Mennonite village that is bustling with activity and very traditional in appearance.   One assumes, looking from the outside at a community like this, that there are no beauty queens or bad executives.  And that the Charm School is just for learning reading, writing, and arithmetic. 

It is a very pretty valley and worth the side trip.  Finding places like this are a big part of my back roads wandering.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Mystery of Buying Used

I have had a little time with the KTM.  When you buy something, you always wonder what don't you know about it and why is this guy selling it.  In the case of the KTM, the fact that he was selling a 2 year old bike with only 765 miles made that question even more prominent.

The guy did a really good job of cleaning the exterior, but even lifting the seat showed dirt covering everything.  There were other clues.  For example, replacing handguards, brake and clutch levers, the muffler, the skid plate, and missing graphics on the rear fender might suggest some light damage from an accident.  It also could mean nothing more than these are parts the guy wanted to upgrade, as the replacements are all premium quality parts.

Sidebar - The replacement muffler is quiet light and is made of titanium with carbon fiber ends.  Do you know the correct procedure for "washing" titanium?  I didn't.  The manufacturer recommends you use a cloth and WD-40.  And it works.  Apparently, solvents, even soap, can react with the surface of the titanium and damage it.

As I have dug deeper into the bike, I found a layer of stubborn NY dirt on everything.  This stuff is so tough that even Dawn dishwashing soap won't cut it.  The only way I have found to clean this stuff is using Simple Green.  Everything was coated.  Both sides of the fan blades.  The cloth wrapping the wiring harness.  Truly everything. 

I also found up to 1/4" of caked mud in the strangest places.  For example, the rear fender sits directly on the fuel tank and all the gaps between were filled with mud.  The area around the fuel filler on the top of the rear had mud caked around it.  The radiator still had mud in the fins.

I have finally gotten the thing cleaned up and have guessed at a reason for him to sell.  I think he was way out in the woods somewhere and got it totally stuck in the mud.  I think that when he finally got it out, he decided that this bike was too heavy for real offroad use.  And I concur.

Working on fitting the new low fender and will post some pictures when that is done.  Boy, carbon fiber is truly stiff stuff.