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.