Helen has found a new home

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I sold Helen the other day, and I have to admit it was hard to let her go.  Don’t get me wrong, I do like my new KLR, but sports bikes are damn fun (even a ninja 250).  In fact, sports bikes rock.  If it weren’t for my upcoming adventures in South America and Africa, I would definitely ride a sports bike over an enduro.  They look uber cool and they are a thrill to ride.  The KLR on the other hand, well, it’s called “the mule” (affectionately) for a reason.

I sold my Ninja to the first person who contacted me after I advertised Helen on craigslist.  He is just getting into riding at the age of 40 and wanted a beginner bike for his commute to work.  The ninja is perfect for that.  I asked $4,200 in my ad, and I let the bike go for a couple hundred less, plus I did a certification.  In hindsight I probably could have got a lot more for her, despite the fact that she’s been dropped on both sides because the fairing repaint job was so well done.  I had put an ad in the autotrader as well as cragslist, and as soon as it came out I started getting constant calls and emails.  I’ve had over 30 inquiries in the last few days.  Part of the reason is that it’s such a popular beginner bike.  Also the weather is finally fantastic for riding.  The roads are full of riders who have been waiting a long time to go for their first spring ride.  Seeing all the bikes zooming around would spur anyone thinking of buying a bike into action.

In the past couple of days I’ve bought a riding jacket (mesh Ixon Hacker), Joe Rocket gauntlet-style gloves, Icon abrasion-resistant riding jeans, a tent (Eureka Aurora 1 Lite), a camelbak, a swiss army knife, hiking boots, and a thermarest.  The total cost was $1147.  I have yet to buy a sleeping bag, multi-fuel stove, water purifier, or medical kit (among many other things).

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Progressive fork springs are done

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Today I made some more progress on the KLR mods.  I replaced the stock fork springs with aftermarket progressive fork springs.  The idea is to improve the front suspension.  This job was actually relatively straightforward for once.  Plus I even got to go fishing.  I used a coat hanger to fish out the old spring.  I took old the forks most of the way out and let the fork oil drain for a few minutes.  Then it was a simple matter of putting the new springs in and resealing the caps on the fork legs.

Trying to get the acerbis handguards attached and tightened in a way that didn’t make the throttle stick was another matter.  I ended up fiddling with it for a long time before I got it close.  And then I still had to adjust the throttle cables.  But I am happy to report that that mission is now accomplished. 

However, I noticed a new problem.  The clutch cable is way too tight, probably because I had to change its position slightly to get the acerbis bracket mounted on the handlebar.  It’s so tight that it’s hard to depress the clutch lever.  My attempts at introducing some cable play, both at the clutch lever and at the guard, have failed.  Damn you acerbis!

Sue gets a boost

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Too bad more things mechanical aren’t as straightforward as boosting a dead battery.  It turns out I’ll probably have to take my throttle apart before taking another go at attaching the acerbis handguards.  Today I found out that I’m not the first person to run into the problem of sticky throttles when attempting to install acerbis handguards on a KLR650 http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=151904&highlight=acerbis+throttle+stick.  I’m relieved that I’m not a total hack, but also irritated that this is such a common problem in the first place.

Leonardo’s Workshop aka The Bunker

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Tonight Adam dropped by to help me work on Rosa.  Our goal was simply to replace the ugly plastic stock handguards with Acerbis rally pro aluminum-reinforced handguards.  This project required drilling a hole in the end of the throttle so that the expander (to which the Acerbis handguard attaches) can be inserted inside.  Before proceeding with he handguards, we glued new gel grips on with shoe glue.

Things were progressing nicely until the cone shaped nut that fits in the end of the expander popped lose inside the handlebar and fell all the way to the central dip.  We ended up having to take the handlebar off and tilting it sideways to get it out.  Attaching the handguard and it’s attachment clamp in the right orientation proved surprisingly time consuming.

I like having the radio of my car on while I work.  About two hours into the job, I noticed the radio getting quieter and quieter.  Damn.  I dropped what I was doing and sprinted for the car.  By the time I got the door open there was complete silence.  I had completely drained my battery.  Sue will need a boost before she goes anywhere.

Around this time Adam called it a night and I continued for a couple more hours on my own.  I did manage to get both handguards installed, as seen in the picture on the right.  However, there were unintended consequences.  I now have “cruise control” on my bike.  Normally, when you let go of the throttle, it snaps back to the off position.  After installing the new handguard, the throttle stays fixed in the on position.  You can roll on the throttle, let go of the grip, and the bike just keeps going at the same speed.  Not the safest feature.  I’m not sure what to do about it though.