Honda Africa Twin Outex install. Tube to tubeless conversion.

Right…it’s colder than cold lately, -30C this morning.  Perfect time to head to the garage, with three layers of clothes on, and do some more work on the Africa Twin.

Today’s project, install the Outex kit.  For those of you living under a rock, the Outex kit converts any tubed rim, into a tubeless set up.  Magic.
I’m not going to rant about the AT having tubes, or the pluses/minuses of tubes/tubeless rims etc..I wanted tubeless tires. I don’t want to fuck around on the side of the road by myself trying to break a bead on my rear tire, when I can plug it in 5 minutes on a tubeless and ride on. I’ll still carry tubes and irons with me in case I dent the rims badly enough to warrant tubes as a repair.

This is a blog post. The below is a rant by a semi competent half wit. Don’t take my words for it, the below is meant to be helpful, and to illustrate my experience with the Outex kit. Personal experiences will vary. The instructions are decent enough. More on that later.
If you’re lazy, or illiterate, you can oogle all the  pictures here:

My plan was to pull the wheels off, bring them into the house, and do the work there. Even with a heater, the garage was at 5C today. The house at 18C. The house wins!

Rear wheel was first. I tried to break the bead with my motion pro tire bead breakers. Wasn’t going to happen. Yeah it’s fucking cold, even though I was working next to a 30A heater. Out came the tire changer. Used the bead breaker, and the bastard gave easily enough. IMG_3292 Peeled the rear  tire off, and remounted the rim on the axle to give it a clean. IMG_3293 Notice the nice ridge on the rear rim. Nice! IMG_3298 My first screw up of the day. I forgot to use sand paper to rough up the rim. Instead went straight to go and tried to collect my 200 dorra…muppet. Right, rear rim, tire stand (made by Borat) IMG_3300In the house for the rim to warm up, and on to the front tire. A little segue about Honda quality. Some of the bolts on this bike are really fucking cheap. Out of the six that hold the fender on, two stripped. Yeah I was using the right 5mm allen key. They are made from imitation american cheese. IMG_3304 On a positive note, the fender doesn’t have to come off! Take both calipers off (14 mm) Loosen off the left side pinch bolts (12 mm) and undo the 22 mm nut. No need to worry about the big allen on the other side, as the right side pinch bolts are on. Once the nut is loose, undo the right side pinch bolts, slide the axle out, and remove the front rim

Moar bead breaking action. The front came off super easy…not sure if that’s a good thing.. No ridge on the front tire…damn.IMG_3305OK, on to warmer locales! I’m set up in the house, got the blessing from the boss.

Do not drink beer prior to doing the work.  You are guaranteed to fuck it up royally!.  It’s tough enough to do it sober, and with someone helping you. My wife volunteered!

You will need the following stuff:

  • Tire stand. You will not have a good time without one. The one I used was my ghetto paddock stand for my enduro bike. I simply cut the middle out, and bodged up an axle holder with some conduit straps.
  • Acetone
  • 200 grit sand paper
  • Scissors (don’t run with them!)
  • Olfa knife, with a sharp blade
  • Heat gun, or blow dryer.
  • tire iron (rounded) for front rim, and a small pry bar for the rear rim
  • Clean rags
  • An assistant…this should be on the top of the list. It’s difficult to do this on your own

Right, let’s get going! Rear rim first. I’ll go step by step according to the Outex instructions IMG_3326 STEP 1: Sand paper the rim. Really only need to do the area where the tape will sit. Take your time, and be extra pedantic (read: anal retentive) around spokes nipples

STEP 2: Clean off moisture, and dirt using acetone. If you have a white rag, as you clean, it will show

STEP 3: use the round pre cut seal tape on each nipple. Top tip, use your heat gun to adhere the tape to each nipple. The heat shrinks the tape a bit, and gets the outer edges stuck to the side of the nipplesIMG_3324 STEP 4: Use heat to warm up the rim. Since the rim is warm from the ambient temp of the house, I get to skip this

STEP 5: Apply one side of two sided tape. Fuck me with a wooden spoon, this part sucked!! IMG_3325 Trying to get the tape to sit straight, and without air bubbles on the first go was a TPITB!!

STEP 6: Cut the tape at one revolution. Don’t overlap

STEP 7: What I found is that the tape is stupid strong, so with your lovely assistant helping you out, take a flat piece of metal (I used a small pry bar for the rear rim, and a rounded tire for the front), with heat from the heat gun or blow dryer aimed directly at the rim, slowly push down on the tape between the spokes to work the air out. Eventually all of it goes out. Yipeee!!

STEP 8: Cut the hole out carefully, push the valve through to the outside. Remove the valve

STEP 9: Start the tape as shown, install valve finger tight

STEP 10 through 17: Nothing to report here. Follow the instructions, go straight…Rear rim tape went on straight enough, as there’s some room. The front rim was a bit more crowded but easy enough IMG_3328
Top tip, remove the green tape at about two spoke lenghts at a time, that way the tape stays strong

STEP 18:  This is critical, it’s a re do of STEP 7. Go through the rim with both tapes on, and your overlap tape.  Have your assistant heat the rim, and the pry bar/tire spoon.  Slowly work out the air, and use the pressure of the tools to further glue the tape on the rim

You are done!  Put the beer down fozzie bear!!…we’re done the Outex install.
The tire needs to go on next in order to put pressure on the tape.
IMG_3332 I spooned on the rear tire in the house.  Went on easy enough.  Over to the garage, popped the bead on, checked pressure.  Left it at 42 PSI, and brought it back in the house.   Ditto for the front, set at 30 PSI. IMG_3334
and the set

In conclusion:

  • The kit is easy enough to follow, and install. It’s made well, and there was a bit of spare material left over (kits are bike specific)
  • You need a second set of hands to do this properly
  • The heat gun/dryer is a must
  • Don’t do it in the cold as it will not end well

I’ll let the tires sit overnight, check tire pressure tomorrow, and re-install.

Drink beer!


Out with the old, in with the new. Bye bye Super Tenere, Hello Honda Africa Twin.


Been a while since I blogged, I do have a good reason to getting around to a post.

Yep, bought a new bike.  2017 Honda Africa Twin.  Manual gearbox thank you very much.   Why the AT? Well, my well serving and well used Super Tenere (ST) was getting on to six years of age, and 90K km.  The bike served me very well, but I was ready for a new bike, and  looking for a few improvements:

  1. Less weight.  The ST tipped in at about 580 plus all the bits and bobs (crash bars, skid plate, rigid light, 2kg worth of wiring etc..)
  2. More ground clearance.  I’ve been having a blast off road the last 3 yrs on various actual dirt bikes.  And this leads me to believe that I can stay up for more than 30 seconds without falling over on a gravel road.  This summer while riding briskly on a quad trail on my ST, I got a bit airborne…3 feet if that, it almost ended in disaster.  I landed and bottomed the skid plate on a sharp rock, which cut the plate open like a tin can.  It bent it up with enough force to just touch/loosen the rear drain plug, but luckily no more.  After some vigorous hammering, cursing, and straightening, the plate was good as new…MOAR clearance!!
  3. 21/18 wheels.  The tenere does well off road for a bike it’s size, but when riding down hills, and tackling bigger holes, a 21″ hoop would be beneficial
  4. On the fly TC.  Man…I didn’t like where the TC button was on the ST, and the fact that you had to hold it down for three seconds, after you turned the bike on every time, to turn off TC.  Total PITBs!
  5. More suspension travel.   Yep, ST was decent, about the 7 inch mark.  Needed a touch more.
  6. Reliability.  Not once has the ST left me stranded.  When ever I prepped for a long trip, I checked the oil, kicked the tires (made sure I had enough rubber left for the trip) and off I went.  The ST had the following break/wear (major items, out of the ordinary) in six yrs and 90 hard k’s:
    1. Rear drive seal went.  Cause: rubber plug fell out that was not glue in place
    2. One blown fork seal
    3. three or four rear brake pads (linked brakes…dusty conditions)
    4. one rear disk.  See #3
    5. One complete top end rebuild.  Bike started using oil around 60k.  Culprit: piston rings and valve seals.  Write up here:
    6. Manual CCT.  Didn’t trust the OEM.
    7. Side stand switch died.
    8. Lots and lots of tires.  Rears lasted about 8k.  Do the math.

And the contestants are…

well, there really only two.  The AT, and the KTM 1090.  The T7 is not in the picture now, and even if it was, it’s not got the powerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
The below is my opinion only, you know what they say about opinions.
Both bikes tick all the boxes, except maybe one for the KTM, reliability (but that’s debatable).  All have tons of clearance, lots of suspension travel, on the fly TC, and switchable ABS.


  • On par price wise to the AT
  • More power than the AT
  • Better OEM suspension than the AT
  • Better dash than the AT (analog tach..yes please)
  • V-twin…tasty!
  • Tubless tires as is 2017 you know..
  • Adjustable wind screen
  • Reliability is a question mark to me (see dodgy fuel pumps circa ktm 950, issues with fuel tanks, and the air filter is still not sorted (easy enough fix)
  • The controls felt flimsy
  • Might get a bit toasty from the twin..
  • Need to buy KTM dongle to switch off rear ABS…
  • Front end fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down


  • Great looking bike
  • LED lights as standard
  • Honda reliability
  • Great fit and finish
  • Narrower tank
  • ABS rear off switch as standard
  • Less power than the KTM
  • Shittier suspension than the KTM
  • Tubed tires…seriously??
  • Dash…meh, hard to read in direct sunlight
  • Foot pegs from an XR 50
  • Fisher price tool kit.  A screw driver and an allen key…wow

I did test ride both bikes.  1090 for about 50k.  Great power, very good suspension.  I was sold.
Rode Richards 2017 red AT, bog stock on a gravel road.  As long as there wasn’t too much washboard, the thing coped well.  But the minute you hit wash board…it wasn’t doing so well.  Power was decent, but my hopped up tenere felt and went quicker.  1200cc, a full catless exhaust, and ecu flash will do that.  I wasn’t sold that day.

Fast forward a few months, and we’re west coast bound with Richard, Evil Greg and myself.   Here we are on top of  Mt. Baker.

Mt. Baker

Richard has been busy with his AT.

  • Full SW Trax ADV cases
  • Custom rear rack, and tool tube for side case
  • Altrider full scaffolding and skid plate
  • Tractive rear shock
  • Various other doo dads, and what nots…

We covered roughly 3500km in six days.  Evil G had some good times and bad times on his strom.  First he blew a fork seal, then the second fork seal.  On the way home, he bent not one, but two of his rims on a large rock, following some muppet on a blue ST.

I had a chance to ride the AT in different situations.  On road, on gravel, at sea level, on some rough track.  This bike, with the rear shock fitted, was amazing.  No it doesn’t have the power of the 1090, but I don’t really care.  How often does one ride at full clip? Am I going to miss 15 hp.  Is 90 hp not enough?

So as the title says…here’s my bucket of awesomness!!


Yes, I went with the less powerful, shittier suspended bike.  But, I’ve always been a Japanese bike guy.  The Euros can do off road bikes well, and their on road stuff is getting much much better.  This is the bike for me.
So why oh why would I buy a bike in December, in Alberta?  well…because winters are long and boring, and I can take my sweet ass time putting on all the bits and bobs on.  Amazingly enough, I picked up the bike in early December, and got a few decent rides in.  Managed about 300k before the snow came last night.

So what are my impressions of the bike so far?

  • It’s well finished.  This is my first ever new Honda.  I owned several (CB400, CB450, VFR 750, CBR600, CBR 900, VFR 800), but never a new one
  • I love the paint job.  The white has a nice metallic flake to it
  • Good ergos.  OEM bars are decent, but I swapped to my renthals, and rox risers (less sweep, less wrist cramp)
  • Power…it’s not stupid fast…but it’s fucking sneaky fast!  I have not yet looked for the non existent 7th gear, i’ll do nicely.  OEM Exhaust note is nice.  Not too quiet, not too loud.  Good intake honk too!
  • Suspension.  Plush.  It’ not too wallowy, but to be honest, I haven’t pushed the bike hard, or done any really twisty stuff.  It handles itself very well on gravel, even on the oem Dunslops.  The 21/18 combo handles well, on or off road.
  • Handling, turn in, balance.  This bike has a great turning radius, it feels very light at low speeds, and handles  very well so far
  • Brakes, great
  • Headlights, brilliant.  Will not need aftermarket LED’s.
  • Seat, decent
  • Mirrors, pin sharp
  • Electronics.  Wow wee…on the fly TC.  Oooosooom!!!! TC1 works a treat.  Great wheelies btw…with the brap brap brap cut off, and soft landing.  The rear ABS off switch is laugh out loud awesome.  It’s like your 8 yrs old again…doing kiddie skids.

Overall, I’m very happy with it.  It’s now my only road bike, and I think I struck a very good balance.

The to do list:

  • Centerstand.  Done.  SW motech.  Cheap, and cheerful.  Works well
  • Fleabay shorty levers.  I got fingers like pickled sausages…short and stubby.  Need the shorty levers.  Got a set from fleabay.  Cheap, and surprisingly well made
  • Renthal fat bar.  Flat, low sweep, low rise.  Need my stupid tall 3.25″ rox risers.
  • Fleabay side stand foot.  $15 bucks.  In the mail apparently
  • Fleabay aux lights, mounts, and bar mounted switch
  • GIVI shortie screen.  Tried a friends TT shortie, and his home made turbulance, clean line of site.  I’m not about to spend $250 on a bit of plastic, so I bought the cut rate version from GIVI.  Will report back
  • Usual electrics (GPS, heated grips, gaydar, USB/ voltage indicator)
  • Altrider scaffolding (full cage) and skid plate
  • Pivot pegs to replace the joke OEM items
  • Staintune slip on.  Will require some hammering!
  • Richards TC stickie switch, video here:
  • SW Motech ADV Trax cases
  • Outex kit.  It’s on the shelf, ready to go.  Will pull the tubes, and convert over to a tubeless set up.  GTS!
  • Tool tube for side rack.  Richard cut some tasty brackets up.  I have a spare tool tube kicking around.
  • Put together a decent tool kit, from my two old bikes.  Might need to add a few bike specific tools (f/r axle)
  • Rear rack.   Will likely mount my rotopax that I took off the ST


  • Tractive rear shock from Ted, at the Beemer shop in California.  I want to ride this bike as intended.  The OEM rear boinger is just ok
  • EE hand guards.  Done.  Pilfered these bad boys off my FJ.  They work well off road, and look good on the AT.  Will need to get a better color than the black..


The new bars and risers are in, electrics are ready to go.  Heated grips are on, and the EE hand guards mounted up great.  I found a nice spot to mount the Oxford selector.


That’s all for now. See what shows up next in the mail box, or at the dealer.  Stay tuned.

Edit: Update. A few other things need to come in but the bike is all back together. Tasty!

Yamaha Super Tenere XT 1200 Top End rebuild


spoiler alert…it works, and works well post rebuild

I had this coming…my 2011 pre delivery  Tenere ran like a top till about 60 k km (all units will be metric!!). At which point I wasn’t able to do a full oil interval of 5 k without adding oil. It wasn’t much at first, maybe .5 L between fill, then eventually around the 75 k mark it needed 1.5 L between intervals. To top it off I was told that the bike puffed blue off throttle.

Out came the compression tester. For reference, factory spec compression: 84-108 PSI. I’m at 1200 m elevation (3500 or so footsies)
Readings were as follows:

Cyl 1/Cyl 2 (no oil): 62/72 PSI
Cyl 1/Cyl 2 (oil added): 72/88 PSI

I didn’t bother with a leak down test…I don’t own a tester.
If you don’t like reading and like looking at pictures…they are here :

Logic would dictate that rings are suspect, with a possibility of valve seals.
To rebuild or ride, or sell…I went back and fourth a few times. It annoys me to have to carry oil on longer trips. A normal motor will use a small amount of oil between changes i.e. from full mark to low mark on the window. But this was more than that.

Many will say that it’s the oil that I used (non synthetic for a break in-motoman style, google it), then amsoil synthetic from there.
Many will say it’s lack of maintenance. I ride my bikes as intended. I don’t baby them, I don’t putter. I ride. Wheelies, hell yes. Pinging off the rev limiter, hell no. I use the entire rev range. And yes, the bike has been ridden off road. Roughly 40% of the k’s were off road.
What if it was a long weekend bike? The boys at Yamaha Japan wanted to knock off early to drink sake…who knows.
Maybe sub par components? The first gen rings and pistons were discontinued. Same goes for the god awful oil fed cc tensioner. Don’t forget the clutch basket.

At any rate, the decision was made to rebuild the motor. No point in taking it in the ass on a trade in (would sir take $5k, then pay full retail for a new 2016 ST), I didn’t want to sell it second hand to some unsuspecting sucker, besides I really like this bike. It’s a keeper.
I budgeted for a $1000 cdn in parts (not including head work/valve work if needed), Without going into the motor, I wasn’t sure what needed changing/rebuilding.
My initial guess was the parts needing changing would be: pistons, rings, gaskets, valve seals, valves, springs, head bolts, possible head work/valve lap, hone and a possible re plate.
I was extremely fortunate to have a good friend of mine overseeing the process. Richard from nearby Red Deer offered to help me tear down the top end, and rebuild it once we figured out what the motor needed. Richard is one of the top motor guys in Alberta, so I was in good hands.



Do not attempt this on your own! Do not touch your motor, unless absolutely necessary! Spend lots of money at the dealer, as they will do a better job (highly unlikely) Better yet, sell the Yamaha and buy something reliable like a BMW!

Right.  The above out of the way, I set to work on dropping the motor.  As always, my trusty Yamaha book by my side, I followed the motor removal step by step.  Easy enough.  Motor came out without too much trouble.  Once out, I had to get my neighbor to help me carry the heavy bastard from my bike bench over to my work bench.  The thing weights a god damned ton.  I’m guessing about 180 lb.

Motor disassembly was straight forward.  Again following the book, I took the head off, set my head studs aside (numbered in a card board sheet)

Below, the famous K mark…

Off with the head!!
combustion chamber

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, I’ve never seen this much carbon before.. pistons prior to dissasembly

Now being a complete engine newbie (I only go to the valves, and maybe the cct…but that’s it!!) I was worried by the 1/8″ of carbon on the pistons. It looked pretty gross. No matter, I kept keeping on. Next up was the cylinder head, and to have a peek a boo at the pistons and rings.

Note the small cooling gasket on bottom left of picture. I ordered a new one…It would suck to have to take the whole motor apart again for a $2 gasket.
Bore prior to dissasembly

Here’s the head
Bore close up

Notice the fine scratches at the top of the bore. Yep, the Tenere got a case of KTnatis! took some dirt in somewhere along the way. No worries, a hone will clean it up sufficiently. The nickasil was in perfect shape. About 1/4 thou wear. Cylinder was well within spec. Nothing out of sorts

piston ring close up piston ring close up

Rings were just ok. Some blow by present, top ring was starting to move (my plating guy said that that’s what caused the scratches on top of the bores) I’m thinking it’s dirt and shit.
Scraper rings look…meh

Other odds and ends…

If you ride off road, clean the rad from time to time. This never affected cooling of the bike.
Radiator...a bit dirty//

So it was time to gather up all the bits, and head off to Richards shop for some real work to take place. Notice the filthy rad…I would need to clean that eventually…
engine bits

Head tear down, and clean day.
I dragged all the various bits over to Richards place and we set to work. Now you can tell a lot from a man’s work space. Mine looks like someone lobbed a grenade into my garage, and ran away. Richard’s shop looks nothing like mine.

Valves ready to come out
Valves ready to come out

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the valves, valve faces, head, guides and seals. Once the valves were compressed, springs seats, valve lock thingies set aside and bagged (Richard’s fine work, not mine…) I was tasked to go to town in the wash basin.

Bath time mo-fos! Bath time

We weren’t going to stop at a varsol bath. Bead blasting was up next. I cleaned the head, pistons, and valves. The cylinder head simply had the excess gasket goop removed with a blade, and sent off for honing

Clean and dirty
overview of cleaned pistons

Here’s the interesting bit. The pistons had 1/4 thou wear, after 80k of me romping on them.  Basically brand new!
Here’s some hard numbers:
Piston clearance (Piston to cylinder)
Cyl #1: 0.5/.75 thou
Cyl #2: 0.5/0.75 thou

Cylinder number. Taper/out of round
Cyl #1: 0.5 thou / 0.5 thou
Cyl #2: 0.5 thou / 0.5 thou

Piston diameter. Factory spec: 3.8569-3.8575 inch
Piston #1: 3.8571
Piston #2: 3.8571

Richard the hand model, and my bead blasted head. Spotless.
Another spiffy shot,and Richards hand

Head, valve seats, and valves were perfect post bead blast. Nothing wrong with any of the parts.

Borat says:

At this point, I was ready to make my parts list:
-2nd gen pistons and rings. Yes I could have reused the old ones, but Yamaha updated the piston and ring design. You cannot get 1st gen rings anymore. Besides, the 2nd gen is lighter, and higher comp. I did check the cam shaft profiles. Identical from 1st to 2nd gen. Proceed!
-All new gaskets..obvs!
-O ring for water pump
-8 new valve seals. They were dropping a hot dog down a hallway…
Valve guides were perfect
-Two new coolant hoses. One that drops from the rad to the metal cross pipe. One from cross pipe to water pump. Both were looking a bit swollen
-New cam chain. Old one had about half a link of  extra wear. Cheap insurance.

So, what the hell went wrong with the motor. Three things:
-Valve seals (see hot dog down hallway)
-Dirt ingestion and/or top ring flex

Interlude!  Took this shot in CR while waiting for my parts.
Toucans in CR

Right. Back at it. All parts came in. Well packaged by my friend Don from Lodi. I’m hella cheap, shipping was free from

Don did say that their packing of the gaskets was sub par. Otherwise no issues. Cheapest parts I found. Plus, if you let you basket contents linger for an extra day, they give you an additional 5% off all items. Bonus!!!

Not sure what Don is trying to tell me….
New parts!

First up was the cam chain. Undo your bottom sprocket (the one with the K and T marks). Install chain, and replace sprocket. I was reusing my manual CCT.
Easy, peasy!
let the swearing begin

Now, for the fun part. Each piston has a total of 5 rings. Two main rings (with lettering), a scraper ring and a ring on either side of the scraper ring.

These were a total PITA. With two sets of hands, four head bolts to line up the head, we managed to cross the scraper ring several times. It’s extremely hard to notice if it’s actually crossed up. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll put it back together, turn it by hand and find out the hard way. At any rate, we finally got it together, one piston at a time

Extra funness below
The fun part

That shit job out of the way it was time to re-assemble the head. Earlier I mentioned a hot dog down a hallway (see valve seal). When the new valve seals went in, you could feel a nice even drag on the valve. Nice! Richard expertly re-assembled the head (compress each valve.  Tweezers in hand and using the force, insert both valve retaining clips (with a dab of grease), while backing out valve compression tool) Any one able to do this, is the fucking man in my book! Tricky, very tricky.
Holy shit on a stick…don’t forget that $2 o-ring on the water pump!!!

Head assembled, ready to be bolted on
Look at these hands!

I cheaped out, and did not order new head bolts. Think about it. The bolts do stretch, that said, you torque them to a given spec, then use the degree tool on top a torque wrench to go to the prescribed degree (270 degree, or whatever the book says). At any rate, the motor is holding together just fine. Joy!!

Before putting the cover back on we spun the motor, to check that everything is copacetic.

We spun the motor by hand, and there was a very faint ping, and noticeable stop to the proceedings…Yay !!!! Valves contacting the piston..

SHIT ON A STICK !!!  When we changed the cc, we re-set the motor to TDC on cyl #1         (T mark on bottom of motor!!).  If my little mind can grasp the Yamaha manual, the T mark is only for checking the valve clearance. See page 3-5 and on, in manual.
Remember, T mark is TDC on cyl#1. Then you turn it 270 degrees, and you have cyl #2 at TDC.  K mark is for disassembly/reassembly.

Problem being, that we had the valve train set to work with the K mark,  but the bottom of the motor itself was set to the T mark.
Long story short, if we didn’t check this, the valve would have run into the pistons on the first crank of the starter. Good catch, scratch that…great catch!
Right. Set the bottom to K. As per page 5-16. Pull the cams, make sure your camshaft marks are aligned on the case, and the hole on the intake camshaft, aligns with the mark on the intake cam cap (closest to the chain)

To sum up:
THE K MARK IS FOR PULLING CAMS. This is where the top and bottom are in alignment/not running interference.

Put the cover back on, and it’s beer o-clock.

Well no it isn’t. I had to drive home, so we high fived each other. Dragged the heavy bastard to the trunk of my car, and I went home. Job done!

Next day, I had a neighbor help me drag the motor onto my mini scissor lift, ready to hoist the bastard into the frame.
Let the fun begin

I did forget to check valve clearances the day previous.  I was reusing all the valves, and shims.  So I marked all the shims, and which vales they went back in.  I double checked the clearances, and they were all in spec.  Joy.  Valve cover back on, and now I can call on my buddy Cam M. to help me muscle the motor back in.

This is so easy to do out of the frame…and such a PITA in the frame..
Check valve gap one more time..

This took about 45 minutes with the both of us moving things back and forth.  Eventually we lined up the back bottom motor mounts, slid the bolts in, jacked up the mini jack, slid the top rear bolt in, and last but not least, the four main engine bolts.  Done!

Here’s a shot of the new intakes.

The rest of it was straight forward. I basically had to put the whole bike back together. Once the motor was in, I had to re-install the swing arm, shaft drive, and rear wheel. Next up was my clean rad, all hoses, clamps, and coolant. I kept the crash bars and skid plate off, until everything was back on, and buttoned up. I refilled the oil to the top mark, and thumbed the starer. Bike fired up on the first or second crank. Joy!! Got the motor up to temp, and got a low oil light to ping on. Da fug? I forgot that the motor lost a bunch of oil out of the head. No matter. Put in an extra half liter and all was good to go.

Interesting side notes and findings on the rebuild.

While rummaging in the bike, I had a look at my ABS pump. What a mess. I had dried mud half way up my abs pump. The oem drains are too small, and don’t get all the filth out. I removed the pump, clean up the muck, and enlarged the two holes. I’ll check it from time to time to make sure it’s clean.

My throttle cables needed replacing. The bottom cable was catching on the throttle body assembly…can’t remember where exactly, and was starting to frey.

I tested my five year old battery at the local battery shop. The bastard lost five CCA over five years!!! I battery tender all my bikes. Maybe that helped. No matter, i’ll be good for a few years more.

I flushed all fluids, except the shaft drive. New clutch and brake fluids, new coolant, and new oil.

All in all, the whole job took about 10-12 hours.  7-8 hours on the motor.  Two hours each for tear out, and re-install.

I took the bike for a break in run, as there was a break in the weather.  Wow wee…this thing pulls hard.  The bike sounds smooth, and all is well in my world.  Now, if I could only get my KTM 300 starter mechanism to behave…
Deep snow//

Update: I did some compression readings after a 50 k ride. Here’s the findings:

Prior to rebuild (engine cold). dry/oil added
Cyl 1/Cyl 2 (no oil): 62/72 PSI
Cyl 1/Cyl 2 (oil added): 72/88 PSI

Post rebuild:
Cyl 1 cold/warmed up motor: 60/68 PSI
Cyl 2 cold/warmed up motor: 60/65 PSI

It’s possible that prior to rebuild the comp read higher because of the extra carbon build up :. more squish/compression

Another interesting fact is that I just did valves on a friends tenere, with 35km of light-ish use, comp cold read:

Cyl 1 cold: 55 PSI
Cyl 2 cold: 65 PSI

Da fug?

Yamaha compression test procedure page

How come I cannot come close to the Yamaha numbers listed on two bikes side by side, at the same elevation? At any rate, I’ll check it again at the next oil change and see what it reads then.

Moar updates:  this motor has a decompression unit built into the exhaust cam.  So how on earth can you measure compression if the decompression pin lets out the pressure in the cylinders every time?  It boggles the mind how Yamaha came up with the numbers.

Whatever.  The motor has just over 4k km on it now.  Running like a top, zero oil used.  What goes in comes out.  Magic.

Matt and Greg ride California

It was time for the annual trip to California.  Matt and I ironed out times, prepped the bikes, figured out a way to get them there from Calgary, and we were set.

As always, click on the picture to enlarge it.  All  flickr pics here:

Overall plan was to get our asses and bikes down to Don’s place in Lodi.  Ditch the car and trailer, and go riding.  Uneventful tow down with the car, and a slight hiccup on the tow back (One of the sensors on the turbo went, we made it home).
We wanted to camp as much as possible, to keep costs down. Weather dictated otherwise.
Below is the overall planned route, which ended up being slightly different. Plan called for roughly 3300km total.

Our first two days were get there days.  We killed time by driving roughly a tank each (500-600km), eating greasy chicken, and streaming MXC Extreme Elimination Challenge on Matt’s phone. Matt was in trouble when he got back to work. Apparently video’s use quite a bit of data :).  Weather was decent, and the car towed like a champ, even loaded down with two bikes. We averaged 600k on 45-50L of diesel.

The rig.
The tow rig

We arrived at Don’s hacienda early.  We broke out the beer, unloaded the car, bikes and set to work prepping for the ride.  Don arrived shortly thereafter, and joined us in drinking beer, and general bs’ing.

Day One:

The plan was to meet Tim and Don at Putah creek cafe for breakfast, in Winters CA. We headed south from Lodi, mostly because I’m a muppet and wasn’t paying attention. We eventually got through the farm fields, and flat roads, and got a few turns in before breakfast. Tim and Don met us in Winters, and much fun was had over an excellent breakfast, procured by Tim.
Thanks Tim, you are a gentleman.

The motley crew
Dan, Matt and Tim, at Putah Creek Cafe in Winters CA
Dan, just out of shot 🙂

The four of us rode W-NW, and much fun was had. Tim peeled off half way during the day, and headed home. Dan, Matt and I persevered on to Fort Bragg, as Leggit was too much of a push in the dying daylight. A clean motel six, and excellent Mexican restaurant wrapped the day up.

Day two:

Destination is Walnut Creek. We have a roof over our heads for the night at Matt’s friends place, Pete and Beth. We headed south on hwy one, stopped for a nice 1 hr walk to take in the scenery.

Where’s Waldo?
Another beauty of a day in California
Hwy one and the FJ

We had an excellent lunch at Busters in Calistoga CA. We then hit some back roads to avoid traffic. Dan peeled off home shortly there after, and we were left on our own to find our way to Walnut Creek. The GPS delivered us safely for an early arrival, and yup you guessed it, more beer! We spent a very enjoyable evening with our guests, Pete and Beth and their very energetic kids Teddy and Evvy.

Our excellent stay for the night at Walnut creek
If the lid fits…

Day Three:

Big sur is our destination for the night, with a stop at Laguna Seca. Mines Road was a treat, SE of Livermore.   The big highlight of the day; Hwy 130. Lick Observatory on Copernicus Peak. Stunning road leading up to the peak, and even better heading down. Fudge nine at Copernicus peak.

Quiet! don’t wake the day sleepers!!
Lick Observatory, on  glorious hwy 130

We stopped in at Laguna Seca. I’ve watched many races on TV, but never had the chance to check it out in person. My favourite part of the track is the corkscrew. There was a cheap car endurance race. Very neat to watch.
We wrapped up the day at the worlds most expensive campsite.
Big Sur welcome sign should read: Welcome to Big Sur. Hope you brought money.

The cork screw
Light fading on the PCH
PCH north of Big Sur

Day four:

Starting the day on the PCH. Life is good
PCH south of Big Sur
Dead things on N.F. road
Nacimento Fergusson Road

Plan is to end up in or near Ojai. We head inland on Nacimento Fergusson Road (N.F road).
Great mexican lunch at Don Hermanos, across the Chevron in San Miguel CA.
Hwy 226, short but truly amazing. Hwy 58, fantastic start, some straights, and finishes very well near Taft CA. We fuelled, bought food and beer, and set off to find a camp site way up in the hills

Pump Jacks
North of Taft
Camping at 2000m. Cheers!
Pine Mountain

Day five:

Play day in the hills! How better to start a day than riding Hwy 33 with no one on it. A large breakfast in Ojai, and some arm twisting on Matt’s part to convince me to ride to Malibu. I was feeling a bit shit, as my cold started coming on full steam.
The hills never disappoint. Typically in California, when someone fast comes up behind you usually move out of the way. The Audi Q7 driving cock did not get that memo. We took our time coming up Westlake Blvd (hwy 23). Cock man finally turned off on Mullholand East. We continued on at our own pace to Decker canyon Road. Wow wee! We took some time off to take it all in, and chatted to some locals that complained about the constant sunshine (kid you not!).
We hopped onto the PCH to link up to Latigo Canyon Road (LCR). We lane split a whole lot of traffic, including three sports cars (Porka boxter s, BMW M5, and a 911). Didn’t think much of it, and hung a left on LCR. I took the lead at a brisk pace, Matt followed, with the three cars not too far behind us. I was enjoying myself, when about 5 minutes into the brisk charge up LCR, boxter man appeared out of nowhere. This dude was moving. I was mostly in 2nd gear to negotiate the tight blind corners, but it looked like I was holding up boxter man. I gave it a honest go for three or four corners, and finally let him pass, figuring that he could set the pace, and I could push him. Man was I wrong. One blind right hander, followed by three quick flick flack left-rights, and boxter man was gone. Ok, keep going. Another 5 minutes go by, and M5 man is up my back tire. And he’s not hanging about either. Ok, let’s play! This time I managed to put in six to eight decent corners, before my left peg hero blob touched and shifter foot touched, and I backed off. M5 man took off. I tried to follow for a few minutes, but couldn’t hack the pace. Either end up on my ass, or back off, and ride my own pace.
I turned off Kane Dume road, and found the two guys parked up on the side. I said hello, while we waited for Matt and 911 man. Turns out these guys ride the roads often (go figure!) and have been driving track for the last 10 or so years. We all had a good laugh, and went our separate ways. A quick stop at the snake for some people watching. An R1 bouncing off the rev limiter, and doing huge stand up wheelies. A local guy on a hopped up FZ09, wearing full leathers complained that he wouldn’t dare ride LCR as there was a touch of rain last night and the road was dirty. Funny we never lacked grip 🙂
We flipped a u-turn and headed back to Ojai for the night. We wrapped up the day with pizza and lots of beer. We booked a hotel room to attempt to get rid of our colds, and turned in for the night.

Pine mountain ridge road, looking North towards Taft.
Pine mountain ridge road

Here we go. Hwy 33 first thing in the morning.
Hwy 33
Decker Canyon road. Amazing
Malibu Hills
The Snake
Mulholland Snake

Day Six:

Once again, HWY 33. No traffic, perfect pavement, and the sun is out. Magic. That said, just before our turnoff on Lockwood Valley road the fog rolled in. Thick enough that you could see 10 meters in front of you, and that was it. We rode out of the fog, and into light rain. It ranged from mild to flat out annyoing and hard on Interstate 5. We ducked into a starbucks for some coffee and a rest. Half an hour later we manned up, and went back into the rain. Eventually by Rankin Ranch the rain cleared and we were once again back in the sunshine. I had a detour planned to Glenville on the 155. We didn’t make it far before the weather turned ugly. As we climbed, the rain turned to wet snow. The road was none too grippy. We decided to take a few pics, and turn around. We wrapped the day up in Kernville, at a decent little motel. Pub food rounded off the day.

Fog on hwy 33 Hwy 33 in the fog
Rain tapering off
IMG_2540 More weather on hwy 155 Hwy 155
Hwy 155. Crappy, yet pretty
The motel guests IMG_2560

Day Seven:

We woke to a frosty morning. 5C and frost on the bikes. Further up the road, the temp dropped to 2C, and we had several sections of road that had ice on it. We gingerly made our way over the mountain.  Bit of a shame, as hwy 190 is an excellent road.

The link above doesn’t show us going through Yosemite, as it’s currently closed for winter.  We did ride it, and it was excellent.  One thing to keep in mind is that the speed limit ranges from 25 to  40 MPH.  Most people do the limit or less, so for us two wheeled hooligans, it’s a bit of a drag.  Lucky for us, november is not busy, and we made quick progress .  Towards the end of the park, the speed limit perked up, and so did I.  So much so that I left Matt behind.  I really should have waited, sorry man.  At any rate, we regrouped, and headed down to Sqaw Valley to find a motel, pizza and cheap beer.

Sunny morning, day seven
I found this guy crossing the road IMG_2569
Yosemite Park. Great roads. Low speed limit, and slow traffic. Use caution.
The view from 2300 m

Day eight:

Nothing too crazy on the last day. Weather was a bit we took it easy, and stareted making our way NW towards Lodi. Halfway through the day I noticed my clutch cable starting to frey. Naturally I freaked out, and thought that it would snap immediately. It lasted all the way till Lodi, and then some. I have a new one on order. We made it back to Don’s house early. Loaded up the bikes, and made our way slowly out of Lodi, into the Sacramento traffic.

Mexican dumping ground just out of shot
Cold day. We were meant to turn right. We turned left
Wet and Cold
Check out the road in the back ground. Stunning stuff.
The aftermath of the drive home
What the FJ looked like

In summary: Great trip, good company. 3300 km on the bikes, 4400 km in the car. Both the bikes worked brilliantly (Matt had an issue with his front headlight, working whenever it damn well pleased). My FJ09 was in its element. The upgraded suspension soaked everything up. The motor was stunning especially at sea level. A couple of times, hard on the gas, over a crest, I would pull huge third gear wheelies (TC off, cover clutch and rear brake). It had power everywhere. Matt and I both run Michelin PR4s. These tires work a treat. They never gave us any cause for concern. Great at full lean, on the brakes, in the rain, and in the snot. At 3k km, mine are nicely scrubbed in, and show little if no wear. Can’t wait to go again, to re-ride some of these roads in the dry, or very least without ice 🙂

Four day blast on the FJ09

Here’s a half ass attempt at a blog post about  my quick trip into BC and Washington State.

if you don’t want to bother with reading the below…you can have a look at the pics here:

Trip went very well. 3500 actual gps shown KM in 4.5 days. Odometer showed roughly 3650km, so there’s error there, and as well as indicated speed (usually 7%)

Saturday: SW Calgary to Nanaimo…yep 1100km in one go and the ferry.  It was a bit of a marathon day.  I started it all off by loosing my tent and foamie somewhere in Calgary.  Note to self, strap things down better.   Weather wise, it was an extreme in both situations.  4C in Banff, and 36C in Lilooet.  Bike made it no problems to Golden on one tank.  Picked up a new house and bed at the Crap tire in Salmon Arm ($135 gone…) and kept on trucking to Chase for a fill up, and to get off hwy one.  Had a bit of smooth gravel between Chase and Kamloops.  From there the road to Cache Creek is un-eventful.  Once on the 99, things become fun.  This is where the FJ shines.  It punts past cars, buses, a line of 20 Harley riders, without issue, and with absolute hilarity.  I did have to keep reminding myself about the 40km/h over rule…I love BC.  Going was good till Whistler, when traffic got snarled up a bit.  Once out of Whistler, the Sea to Sky high way is a pleasure.  I was in time for the 520 pm sailing.  Some home made sandwiches consumed on the ferry, I headed for my very decent campsite south of Nanaimo. Beer and pizza to round off a most excellent day


Days map here (Calgary to Nanaimo only)

Sunday: Easy ride around the south Island. Started the day off right with Nanaimo river road.  Epic paved road, which ends at a locked gate (opens 8am to 6pm, as it’s private logging road).  I was there early, and didn’t get to ride that part of the road to Lake Cowichan.  Instead, I turned around, rode that splendid paved section again, hooked up to Lake Cowichan, and did the loop to Port Renfrew.  This road is a treat.  It’s all paved, and rough in some sections, but for the most part, fast, flowing and empty.  Recommended.  I topped off the morning with a wild Salmon eggs Benedict at the Coastal Cafe.  Epic.


Breakfast done, I headed East towards Victoria.  This stretch of road is all perfect pavement.  And I was really looking forward to it.  Unfortunately, the fog rolled in.  It was bad enough that all I could do it follow the yellow line at 60 km/h.  The locals call August Fogust…Half way down the road, I stopped to help three guy fish out a large Victory bagger out of the ditch.  Amazingly we succeeded and the guy rode away unbroken, with a few scratches on the bike.  Lucky him


Spent the day hanging out with my buddy Scott, and his delinquent friends.  Good times indeed.


Monday: Early wake up call at 4 am, to catch the ferry to Port Angeles. Bit of a slog to Mt. Rainer…meh. The park pass was a bit of a rip at $20 USD.  Getting there and out of it was a pain, but worth seeing once for sure.



I stuck to back roads, and found a winner.  The Mountain Loop Hwy.  Perfect pavement, interrupted by roughly 25km of decent gravel.  The FJ coped well, I did have to be mindful of the wheel swallowing pot holes


End of day was a revelation though…Hwy 20, into Winthrop, WA, all to myself for close to 120km!! Magic.


Checked into the KOA campsite, set the tent up by the river, and went off for the worlds best pizza at East 20 Pizza.  Great day all in all.

Days map here:

Tuesday: Winthrop to Kaslo. Some great roads out of Winthrop.  No pictures, as I was busy riding.  Originally I was going to end up in Bonners Ferry, and head home the day following via Coleman.  It’s a bit of a shit ending to the trip, as it’s straight, and windy.  So I elected to head up via New Denver, hit the 31A to Kaslo, camp at Toad Rock, and get to do the 31A all over the next morning.  good plan.

Days map here:

Wednesday: Rode the 31A one more time.  Nice, very nice.  The rest of the trip was uneventful, and entertaining.  I’d let cars by on the passing lanes, but would catch them up quickly on the single lane stuff.  When ever the coast was clear, down to 4th gear, and gas it…fun.

The bike. Well, it was my first 1000km day on any motorcycle. It was cold going through Banff, 4C, and damn hot in Lilooet towards the end of the day, 36C.
Overally I’m very pleased with this bike. It’s not a tenere, and was never meant to be. I did a bit of gravel here and there. It coped well with it, and so did the tires. naturally the 17″ wheels didn’t like deep pot holes.
Engine is a peach. It’s very quick compared to the ST. It’s weird to describe, but it simply doesn’t linger, it just goes. On single lane highways, if I needed to punt more than three cars at once, down to 4th, and give-er! Wow wee. Even at 1200m elevation the thing motored.
And down at sea level, with the bags and the addedweight , it did perfect second gear power wheelies.
Pegs and bar was a bit buzzy, noticeable some times, other times I simply ignored the issue.
Economy ranged from 4.7L (taking it easy) to 5.2L/100km (caning it).  Tank range a respectful 280km to 330km for the idiot light to ping.  You could easily squeeze out another 50km, before having to push

Ergos…I’ve changed the seats to seat concept foam and covers. While fine around town, the mileage I was doing daily (except for sunday) the air hawk was a blessing, and quite literally saved my ass.

Suspension: The stock suspenders sucked! The money spent on traxxion dynamics cartridges, and the rear yacugar shock was well worth it. There were some amazing roads that I had a chance to test the bike. Stuck like glue, and the stock Dunlops did very well, wet or dry, or gravel for that matter.  10k km on the tires now, and they should be good for another 2k

Luggage, carrying capacity. The 45L givi E45s are plain as day, but they work very well.
Besides being a complete spanner, and loosing my tent and foamie before even leaving Calgary, everything stayed on once I strapped it down properly.