My KLR was a beast off road. Really, it was. An ugly, poorly suspended, tall geared beast that shambled and groaned its way across the ground, while my friend Willie aimed his bike up the single track and wheelied off into the woods, I'd cautiously follow in first gear along behind him feeling as if I was barely in control of a boar searching for truffles in the underbrush. The underbrush usually didn't fare too well when I went too quickly.
My first experience riding a dual track with Willie was to see him jet off down the hill, roost around a slight bend, then bump and bash over a small fallen tree, only to stop and turn in the saddle to see if I was still behind him, which I was...
...still behind the tree, up the trail just beginning to negotiate that first hill, and I was proud that I was still upright.
Yeah, we all get bike envy, and you think it's the bike right? Well, it's part bike but mostly operator and over the years that I've known Willie, he's let me know it's always the operator, or as he puts it, "That loose nut between the bar ends." Willie and his friend Darryl would bash my KLR six ways from Sunday, then add insult to injury and loan me their bikes. Willie's Honda XR, Darryl's Husaberg 450 (It makes the Honda feel tired), and Darryl's Honda XR650R that I never needed to get out of second gear, for Darryl's hundred acre farm wasn't big enough to need a third gear in that monster.
|Darryl finds second gear on his XR650R, |
|I can start it, really I can. I just can't get my feet to touch the ground. |
I retired the KLR back in 2012, in favour of a lighter, more nimble 2009 Suzuki DR650E that was brilliant on Prince Edward Island, but still a bit big for true off road riding, and it would be a nightmare to throttle up in wet grass and clay, as the rear end would be everywhere, sometimes beating the front end to our destination. And when it went down, all four hundred odd pounds were a bit rough to put right on rain slick grass.
Okay, time to give up and purchase a decent touring bike with a riding position similar to that of the KLR but, with a street setup that could just melt away the miles, yet still let me "Point it that a way" and let me do gravel roads and a bit of hard packed dirt.
|The DR would just go anywhere... In style, but not in comfort. |
So now the DR and KLR are gone, and my one and only is a 2009 Kawasaki Versys 650, which is a wonderful adventure sport bike. Sport adventure bike? Bike Adventure Sport? The Versys doesn't know what it wants to be, but with a 120x90r17 cast front, it doesn't know what it wants to be either, and Prince Edward Islands wet clay roads said it was no Adventure bike, unless you consider calling CAA for a tow home an adventure.
|This sand is deep enough for street tires. Deep enough for me have a lovely get off too!|
I missed riding in the dirt, and my nephew Ryan on his BMW GX450 along with his friend Nate on his KTM 530EXC just made me want to get on the Versys and tackle those jumps and try to get some air (And at least a semi-private in Queen Charlotte hospital, which is where I would end up if I tried anything more than a front wheel loft). Seriously, it's shod with Michelin Pilot Road 4's which are brilliant street tires! The best I've ever been on in fact, but on wet grass they make me check to see if there are people around to help me pick up this 500lb beast should I lose the @ss end in the wet.
|Tylet showing me how to get air on a 250|
Right. Zac bought himself an old DR350 and told me about a couple of movies that chronicle some limey loonies that circled the world on these things, and I got hooked, right badly on how much fun they had on small cc bikes. Check them out in Mondo Enduro
and Terra Circa. Brilliant films that put joy back in riding, and stripes back on overalls.
So Zac and I share our innermost thoughts and feelings. It was a love affair, the kind that involves kick start bikes, oatmeal on a camp stove, and mosquitoes biting you just a half inch past your best effort to scratch. Ewan and Charley called it "the cuds", while being filmed by their cameraman Claudio, as their two support vehicles hurried ahead to book the next hotel. That's not really fair is it? They had a grand time and invited us all along to watch it, but I invite you to watch the madcap adventures of Austin Vince and party for a comparison.
|Zac, doesn't that flag in your backpack slow you down?|
Right, so now it's November, the Stabil is in the tank and I've watched Mondo Enduro twice, and being the copycat that I am, I start surfing Kijiji and looking for DR350's and I find a bunch in Ontario, only 1600 kilometres away from me, and I figure that by posting a message on facebook to take a look at a '92 with 20K on the clock up in Ottawa, I might have a couple of friends in low places in Onterrible that could kick the tyres for me.
Willie pops up and asks me why I'm looking for bikes, and out comes my dream of a kick start go anywhere wee dual sport, and he confesses that he's bought a Versys 650 from Darryl, plans to beat the tar out of it in his usual manner, and his venerable XR400 that he blue plated for on and off road use is now up for sale back in Onterrible to help pay for his wee twin mistake.
|Willie and his XR|
I've bashed the Versys a bit, haven't I? Check this out when you get bored and you think that you need the latest 1000RRRRR for the track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nDcOz7oOVM and I hope you realize that he could have ridden his bike across the verge to save time, but only good sportsmanship kept him off the green stuff and on the macadam.
I threw my money at him as quick as I could, for Willie was a member of the Ontario Dual Sport Club back in the day, and he tossed money at that bike as if it dressed in red and heels and hung out on street corners late at night. (I'm not sure about the heels part) What I mean to say, is he did the suspension up front and rear for heavy riders. He put on an IMS tank, Ascerbis hand guards, bar risers, a gps wired to the battery (Now both of us need bifocals to read it's small screen), A fork brace, a Baja kit for headlight and signals for the street, and other mods. That DR350 came nowhere near this beefy and tricked out, and I knew that Machine Racing in Newmarket had redone the top end for him (bored out?) not so long ago. Willie starts that bike with two kicks. One to prime and one to get 'er going. (That was a while ago... Maybe four years ago now? It's been sitting awhile now)
Darryl knew a guy who knew this guy who had a friend that was heading out this way with a truck and trailer, and before I knew it, my bike had been shipped from Ontario in the middle of a snow storm to a friend who put down his shovel and pushed the bike (Hey Willie! The front caliper is seized/stuck!) down the road into his garage in the middle of a record snowfall. Is he looney or did he know how much this bike means to me? You be the judge. (I think a bit of one and more of the other).
So, Now we wait out not one, but two blizzards before we can pick up the bike that he as stored for (it will only be a couple of days) a few weeks, rush off to Costco, cause when you leave the island, you make the trip worth your while, so the bike arrived home in style, surrounded by all sort of lovely things, so Kirk's truck really was a cornucopia of all good things, none of which spilled over or out,
|Now I feel like I own it!|
We wheeled that bike off the ramp and down onto the driveway, and had a merry old time kicking at it, but then we realized that gasoline, at least we think it might have been gasoline, for it came out of that big thing at the front of the bike, but after having sat so long, my nephew Ryan quipped and said it didn't even smell like gasoline, and he should know as he sniffs enough of it. :P
Argh, the float was jammed or stuck, and whenever I opened the tap, it would just dump down the overflow and straight out onto the ground.
I watched a youtube video and 14 minutes later had myself convinced that "I can do that!", sort of reminiscent of the scene from Monty Python's Holy Grail where Sir Robin the Brave hears Lancelot challenged by the bridge keeper... What!? You've never seen that classic?! Then you are certainly never going to get my reference to the killer rabbit so I might as well stuff this down the waste bin now...
Now where were we? Ah yes. Work, Eat, rip out a carb and give it a good wash up. Oh what fun. My family are motorheads and while I went in search of "the perfect tool for this" I got brushed aside while they removed the extra bits that they claimed would just slow me down and added weight to the bike.
So now I've two bikes in the stable, both capable of adventure and fun, but one that is going to be covered in red mud, and one that will cover the Island from end to end and beyond. :D
Pictures follow, and I promise to caption and organize them later, but I am a lazy sod and have a bike to fix, so...
Cheers for now.
|The naughty bits. Main jet spacer, main jet and idle jet|
|Willie's idea of giving it a good wash up before shipping it to me. He says it works much better in the summer time. |
|It's mine now! Thanks guys!|
There is a bit more to this story, perhaps I'll embarrass myself later, but for now I'll let Willie take the lumps. :)
In his defense, he can really make that thing perform. When not trying to stuff it back into a barn with a two foot lift up from the ramp.
|Willie only rode this on Sunday's to church. |
|Note that when he gets loaned a Husaberg suddenly I can ride his XR?|
|This is how you start an XR650R? |
|As it turns out, this is how most Honda's are started in the Spring. |
|Guys, aren't you supposed to kick start that beast?|
|Willie's smiling cause he knows his XR will be leading my KLR all day long.|
|It ran forever... Until the gas went stale. |
|Doctorb Nick, it hurts when I pee|
So this is what happens when you have a specimen bottle lying around in your tool chest, and an urgent need to soak carburetor jets.
And it's a runner again!
|This and a sled, and I'm set until the snow melts (Sometime in August?)|
Sadly, the carb decided that I'd get a few good rides out of it, then the float needle malfunctioned and began to pour gasoline straight out the overflow pipe and onto the ground. The tank quickly emptied itself, and I tore the carb apart a couple more times in an attempt to fix it before realizing that the tiny wee spring in the op of the float needle was the culprit, and was so weak that it was unable to deal with the fuel pressure, and was opening the valve and allowing the bowl to overfill, spilling all the excess fuel in the process.
|Carburetor Float Needle Valve for 2001 Honda XR400 - Non OEM KVN-19S30|
The little stud on the right hand side of this beauty... The floats put pressure on the stud to push the rubber nipple up to block the flow of fuel into the carb. There is a wee spring under the stud, that prevents the floats from applying too much pressure on the rubber (preventing premature wear in and a deformed nipple that will allow gasoline to leak past). My spring was shot and even when closed, the gasoline would push against the valve, and the gasoline would just keep on flowing.
I ordered a replacement from Australia of all places, and got it this past winter a bit too late to keep the bike from being consigned into the lawnmower shed where it is buried behind the barbeque and summer tires.
Stay tuned for more.
2016-04-13 Update: I swapped out the float needle valve and made sure it was set fot 14.5mm and 19.5 mm max, but it is still pissing out fuel, so I think I'm going to send it into the shop and let Larry have a look at it. Thankfully the Versys is a runner and not my only bike at this point in time.
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