Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yamaha XT350 update...

Here is my reliable steed, I was working on it today, doing a little repair work and making improvements along the way.
I lubed the chain, this is important on a bike that uses a 426 sized chain like the 350 does. It will stretch and ruin sprockets in a hurry if you abuse it and try to ride it like a sport bike. But it quite servicable if ridden with a moderate amount of sense.
I also hope I cured another issue today. Time will tell on it. The front brake would start dragging randomly and could cause an accident. So I took the caliper off a parts bike and changed it to try and get a handle on the situation.

 Next on the list I worked the pannier bags, I'm still not exactly happy with the lay of the bags om the little XT, but they're on there and should be functional.
They have enough room for a weeks travel if you decide to get out of the rat race of every day life.

After all thats what an Adventure Bike is all about, go see places that you normally couldn't and explore places that you would typically need a four wheel drive to get there if possible then, the bike can get down that game path you always wanted to follow if you have the gonads to go there.

Next on the todo list was work on the fairing, its nothing more than an Acerbis headlight shell that I cut the number plate off of and attached it to the stock headlight shell for the added wind deflection. It also serves as a shield for my GPS that is mounted behind it.

I simply mounted it with some metal screws through the plastic and it seems to work quite well for the purpose intended.
Here is my improvised GPS mount.
Its a ram cradle, attached to a piece of a bark buster, that is in turn attached simple U shaped bracket I fabbed up from some scrap I found in the shop.

A little about the GPS I use, its a Lowrance XOG, it is discontinued and you might find one someplace on closeout for around $100. It has the functionality of a handheld unit, as in trails, bread crumbs etc, with the added features of an Automotive routing GPS. It was considered a Crossover device, and such devices have since failed due to a lack of popularity. I guess you would say the soccer mom won out and the whole world only wants to be told where to go instead of learning to use a full featured device for all the wonders it can provide.

AFX FX-37 Dual Sport Helmet. part II

I got a chance ride today with the new helmet.
I didn't notice any buffeting to much, but you tell its directional and can feel when you turn your head off of center. The distortions in the visor are not a bother at 40 to 70 mph and seems of no import when moving.
It does appear to noisy as far as wind goes, but I can't say its any more than my MX helmet just maybe a little more noticable mostly because it enclosed.
You will notice the cold wind hitting your neck and chin that I did not notice so much with the open MX Helmet.

There does seem to be two pressure points on each frontal lobe and that is yet to be a problem but I might have to do a little adjusting to the foam there.

More to come later since I worked on the XT350 today too.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

AFX FX-37 Dual Sport Helmet.

I typically avoid buying things like helmets on-line because you never know if they're going to fit.
Last one I bought was a TMS Carbon Fiber Dual Sport Helmet, awesome as it looked, I could not wear it, even in ordering a XXL. Maybe it was XXL for a kid.
Well my son now wears the TMS and loves it.

I broke my rule when I found the FX-37 on closeout for about 1/2 price, I know it didn't have the great reviews of a Shoei or Arai helmet, but what do you expect from a sub $150 Helmet, remember that nearly all this stuff is manufactured in China now so it costs them no more to make an AFX than it does a Shoei, I would venture a guess they typically come from the same factory.

Well the big brown truck just left the drive dropping off the new Helmet, so of course I had to open it and try it on. It is sized XXL, my old MX helmet is XL so I was guessing the sizing to run a bit small and it is.
Its a tight fit on my cheeks and might press a little on the cranium but I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt and try it for a few weeks to see.
The optics are not great, there is a slight distortion dead center in the visor, but its not terrible, I've been in cars where the curvature of the windshield creates as much distortion. Time will tell to be honest.

One thing off the start is the visor has no detents. So there is no positive locks for opening it partially, time will tell if this going to be an issue with wind pressures and trying to say keep the visor from fogging up.
The sizing is such that if you order one I would go one size larger than you normally wear make sure your cranium will actually fit inside the thing.

Over all for the price the finish good, the styling is okay, I'll check back in a few days with an update once it quits raining and I can give a trial on the road.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rain Suits...

This time around I got a report on some rain gear.
The wife bought me a Coleman Rain Suit, you know the typical green PVC type rain coat and pants.
I rode the XT350 to work last night in the rain ad cold, I was wearing my winter coat and thermal underwear and the rain gear over the top. Well the pants did a fine job keeping me dry and protected.
The rain coat another story, the whole side split out, not on a seam but the material just split.
So I have to say this was a total bust and waste of money. Better save them pennies a little longer and get a quality rain suit.
Big thumbs down to Coleman Rain Gear.

Friday, March 25, 2011

KTM affair...

Meet the KTM LC4 Enduro.
I have had a Love hate relationship with this machine.
It is the most fun you can have legally. It handles like a sport bike, accelerates with authority and just plain goes where you point it.
Brakes that make a Sprint car proud, and a suspension straight from a race bike, and a frame that feels like its chiseled from granite. It is a rock solid feeling bike.
I know with all that said where does the hate come from?

It comes from the engine, it is a cross between an out of balance washing machine, and a paint shaker. Set it on the center stand on a concrete floor and blip the throttle and you better be holding the bike, it will walk across the floor like nothing you ever seen. Do not lug it down as it shakes again, but if you keep it in its sweet spot it will carry you where you want to go and make you SMILE doing it.

I have replaced many many parts on the old girl. Chain and Sprockets, clutch, tires, battery, and water pump. Granted most of that is consumables and can be expected with any used bike. Now its started burning oil worse than a two stroke so its time to do a piston and rings in the next week or so.
The electrics are weak, and the wiring is nearly adequate when new then you add in 11 year of age and you can start to get the picture.

Granted some of the issue with oil is most likely my fault after being goaded into a mud hole by a friend.
This was not your normal forest mud hole, it was two tracks that was worn down 3 foot deep and the width of a single tire. So down I go and water nearly comes to the headlight and I drop the bike.
See where I'm sitting in the last picture the water wasn't six inches deep. But the hole the bike is in was another story. So we work on it for 2 hours in the summer heat and get it dried out and running again.
Well sorta running, its got sandy crap in the carb still and doesn't idle or run very well. But it got me hole.
All that leads up to today's posting and the reason I get to freshen up the LC4 mill. I have no idea how many miles are on it, typical KTM quality, the odometer quit at 9999.9 miles but the speedometer still works.

So thats the essence of life with a high strung bike, I would have to assume someone with a trophy wife could relate to that, in that she is fun to play with and gorgeous to look at but man does it get expensive when it comes time to pay the piper. haha.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Panniers XT350

Time for a product review for anyone that might be interested.
I ordered a set of these bags last week,
It was the first time I ordered from these folks.

Order was placed on Friday and I received them today Wed via the
big brown truck.
First impression is that the material is a fairly heavy denier fabric.
They're a nice size for carrying the essentials of a weekend trip.
You can see in the second image they're laid out over my XT350
for size relation. 

These are not small bags, they're not permanently sewn together, they're two separate bags that hook together via velcro strips and a strap similar to the strap on a motorcycle helmet.
There is the main compartment, 


  There is a net pocket on one end and a zippered compartment on the other end with a zippered pouch on the face. Inside the main compartment you will find another net/zippered pouch and in the back is a wide elastic band with a plastic buckle.

They're not waterproof and come with a pair of rain flies to protect them when the weather turns damp. 
Overall the design looks solid. There is a few loose threads on the inside, but I'm not nitpicking the bags, I think they're a good buy for the price if they hold up on the long run.

Here is the back of the bags, they have an breadth of material attached to the back I assume as a wear pad for the cruiser crowd I know these was intended for.

You can also see a buckle that is not attached to anything, there is one on each bag, I can only assume it was for a strap maybe that was maybe discontinued.

These also come with a vinyl piece to hold the bags shape when lightly loaded or empty.

I have not worked out how I'm going to mount them on a mono-shocked DS bike yet. But will come.
How they look hanging on the little XT350, with the Moose tank panniers, back pack on the tank, and these panniers on the rear you should have enough room to explore for a week at a time and not need much support.  
   Want to get a pair of your own you can order them from the link below.
One more picture on how they look on the KTM LC4 its a much larger machine and fit it better. 


I explore the state as life gives me time using two wheels and four wheels.
Here is my various modes of transportation.

My little Jeep Cherokee, 4x4, 4.0 I6, 5 Speed, and 3 inch lift.
I think you would be hard pressed to find a better engine than the 4.0 Jeep engine. They routinely run 300k miles without so much as a waterpump. Just change the oil every 4k miles and drive it.

This is gas squeezer, it is the go anywhere bike, 86 Yamaha XT350, its not good at anything but it will do everything you can think of, from creek crossings to climbing mountains it goes out and comes home again.


Well since I'm new to this I thought I'd do a little intro on myself.
I am 42 and married for 22 years and enjoy life. I like to explore my home state of Arkansas using two and four wheels.
This will my effort to document these wanderings and musings on different things.

I have a few things that guide my life.
I never meet a stranger, I treat everyone as I want to be treated,
A man should Work to Live not LIVE to work.
Life is to be lived and not to be a slave to any man or government.
There is but one God in Heaven, his name is not Allah, it is IAM.
The borrower is slave to the lender.
Everyone has a purpose some are living it, others are still searching.