Category Archives: Motorcycling

Casey Stoner

Casey StonerSince witnessing first hand Casey Stoner’s utter domination of the Australian MotoGP round last year, I have been meaning to write a post about him. Now, with the announcement of his retirement at the end of the season it seems even more timely. 

In 2008, I had described Stoner as one of the “upper echelon” of riders – a status that appeared to be too “high-brow” to catch on.  The four I named in that post (Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Rossi and Stoner) went on to earn the nick-name of “the Aliens“.  I wasn’t alone in recognising that they were a cut above the rest.  How good are they? Since the beginning of the 2008 season, “the aliens” have won 72 of the 74 races held. On their day, any one of those four riders would be untouchable.  Plagued by injuries and bad luck, Dani Pedrosa is the only one of them not to win a World Championship in MotoGP. (yet?)

There are a lot of fans in MotoGP who only begrudginly accept Sonter’s ability.  Ironically, it has been Rossi’s dismal performances on the Ducati that have served to highlight just how good Stoner is.  The problem that a lot of fans have with him appears to be that Stoner is “just a racer”.  He isn’t the showman and extrovert that Rossi is. Stoner’s detractors have nick-named him “moaner-Stoner” which personally, I feel is unwarranted.  The thing I have enjoyed about the “off-track” Casey Stoner is that he is always honest about things.  When he did not do well  he would answer the press questions as truthfully as he could.  Some fans saw this as “making excuses” and maybe it was, but the answers were never phrased as why he didn’t win, only why he didn’t do better.

Stoner attracts fans based on one thing only –   His raw talent and speed on the bike.  He has never been about beating the record books, nor winning admiration of fans through off-track theatrical performances.  As a marketable product, that puts him at a disadvantage, but marketing people are clever and the best work  with what they get. When I wrote about Valentino Rossi, I mentioned that not many former world champions re-win a championship after they lose a couple.  Rossi and Agostini were rarities.  Now, you can add Casey Stoner to that list.

If you are a fan of MotoGP and your home event has not happened yet this season, grab the chance to witness one of the fastest riders the sport has ever known.  Until you see him riding live, you can’t fully appreciate his extraordinary talent.

Airhawk

I recently completed my latest motorcycle touring holiday. I travelled more than 4000 kilometres (2500 miles) over the course of two weeks and two days, to attend the Philip Island MotoGP. The VFR800 is definitely a more comfortable touring bike than the CBR929 Fireblade that I made the trip on last time, but it is some way short of a Goldwing in terms of touring comfort. Fortuitously, a friend of mine lent me his Airhawk seat for the journey.

I am always sceptical of miracle motorcycle products. I have seen instances where some one’s praise of a product is little more than them trying to justify the purchase price of whatever product they are expousing the virtues of. In the past I have purchased and used sheep-skin seat covers for some of my motorcycles. To claim they make no difference, would be doing them an injustice. But, when you are riding a motorcycle for long periods of time, multiple days in a row, their improved comfort is short lived.

My suspicions that the Airhawk would be no different were proven to be wrong. I was more than a little amazed by the improvement in comfort the seat provided. Small interlinked air-pockets help evenly distribute the pressure. Because the pockets are interlinked, air is free to move between the various pockets. An unexpected benefit is the extra shock-absorbtion the seat provides. Hit a big pothole and you don’t get the proverbial boot up the backside. On an extended ride, this fact alone makes for a more pleasant journey.

I did eventually feel discomfort on the bike, riding up the Hume Highway on my return home. I don’t know if it was due to the boredom of the ride, but (rather unscientifically) I feel that some of the discomfort was caused by a lack of movement needed to ride in a straight line. Riding the Hume, is largely about sitting still and holding on. Not needing to perform gear changes or large steering input meant I was stuck in the one position for long periods of time.

Like all good (and many not-so-good) web reviews, I should really summarise my experience with the Airhawk seat with a pros and cons list.

Pros

  • shock absorbtion
  • greatly improved comfort
  • adjustable inflation to allow for different rider weights
  • weatherproof and quick drying time when compared to sheepskins

Cons

  • reduces the rider's feel for grip levels in corners
  • over and under inflation limits the effectiveness and improved comfort

In an unusual "neutral" category:

  • it changes the rider geometry on the bike

For me, the change in geometry was not substantial enough to be problematic. I was concerned about the increased weight placed on my wrists made by effectively raising the seat height. It is only a small change in geometry, but even small changes alter how the bike feels. For vertically challenged riders, it may also make the reach to the ground just a little more unnerving. Of course, not being a journalist and trying a formal review, I missed the obvious action of measuring just how much height was gained by using the seat. At a guess, I would say between 15-25 mm of increased seat height can be expected.

Given that I lent the seat, I will not give a subjective value-for-money opinion on the product. However, if I don't find one in my Christmas stocking this year, it will go on the list of things to purchase for myself!

When Worlds Collide

I watched in abject horror as Dani Pedrosa weaved violently from side to side of the track, at the rear of the field as the rest of the competitors disappeared from his view. Pedrosa was travelling dangerously fast for the next corner and way off the racing line. The bike slowed imperceptibly as though the brakes had air in the lines. In an act of pure desperation, he pitched the bike over on its right side in a vain attempt to make the corner. That the bike would run wide and off the track was a given. What wasn’t so expected was the fact that with in excess of fifty degrees of lean angle and still heavily on the front brakes the bike didn’t “wash-out”. Rather, it merely acted as though the grass was covered in sticky glue, retarding the bikes momentum far more effectively than the brakes had.

Of course, I was Dani Pedrosa and this was the demo version of the game “MotoGP 10/11”. I must admit I enjoy a good racing simulator and as a motorcyclist was desperate to like this game. You can’t expect an X-Box controller to map accurately to the controls of a motorbike, so “realism” in such a game is always going to be a subjective term. The demo version of the game starts with all the usual assists you can expect in a modern racing simulator, including a “racing line” indicator that both indicates where you should be and how fast you should be travelling by its colour.

If you were to paint a line on a racetrack and ask me to travel at whatever speed I felt was appropriate but to stay close to the line, I reckon I could do a reasonable job. Asking me to do so in the game proved close to impossible! I think the largest problem with motorcycle games and a controller is judging a lean angle via the thumb-stick. Maybe I am just a n00b, but it seems difficult to use the thumb-stick and push it to an exact angle that is not at its extremity. Minor corrections are an impossibility as the only steering mechanism you have acts as a giant inverted pendulum. Dani gradually leans from one side to the other, meaning all direction changes need to be planned well in advance.

If I was allowed to call the shots for future development of the game, I would love to have a custom controller that mimicked handlebars and utilise the Kinect sensor to allow for body positioning on the bike. That way, body movements could provide minor line corrections, similar to what happens in real life. A less ambitious idea would be to use the second thumb-stick to provide this line-correcting behaviour. This presumably would have the advantage of being easier to port to the other game platforms.

On the positive side, the game is gorgeous to look at. The visuals are stylised rather than attempting and failing at photo-realism. The result is stunning. Screen shots look like an oil painting. Playing it makes it look like err… a moving oil painting! I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the demo only allows access to what must be the most picturesque circuit on the current MotoGP circuit – Mugello. Although it is even more absurdly difficult to play in “first-person” view, this really does bring out an excellent feeling of realism as your view is buffeted about by the wind rushing past you.

Strangely enough, you don’t hear the wind though. Mind you, this is not a bad deviation from reality, as you are missing out on 90+ dB of white noise blaring out of your television… The noise the bikes make is probably a fair approximation of a MotoGP bike. It certainly is not awful enough to be detracting from the game.

As for an overall verdict based on the demo version, well the jury is still out. I enjoy a challenge in a game and if I had “won” the very first race I attempted, it would not have been a game that appealed to me. However, there comes a point where wobbling around behind the rest of the field loses its appeal. Do I have the persistence to keep playing until I reach the point where I can challenge Alvaro Bautista and Mika Kallio for fifteenth and sixteenth place? I can tell you that unless that happens soon, I might have to just consign this game to the “too-hard” basket and wait for a revolutionary Kinect enhanced version of a motorcycle racing simulation.

Moto2

For those of you who do not follow the MotoGP series, there is a new second tier class this year.  After sixty years, the 250cc category was replaced this year by Moto2.  The change from 250cc two strokes, to 600cc four strokes has divided opinions on the Internet forums. 

The new class has a “control” engine supplied by Honda and “control” tyres, supplied by Dunlop.  I suspect the rules for the category were finalised at around the time of the Global Financial Crisis and have been heavily influenced by the desire to keep the costs of this class down.  As with the earlier change from 500cc two strokes, to the 990cc four stroke in the premier MotoGP class, this change in formula has generated a renewed enthusiasm amongst the racing fraternity.  As a result, around forty-three riders are partaking in the formula. 

The rules, plus the sheer number of bikes on the track have made for some quite interesting racing in the opening two events this year.  The knockers are quick to point out that the lap times are slower than the 250cc two strokes they replaced, but racing where plenty of overtaking takes place overrides this concern. 

When a new and significantly different category of racing starts, it ‘levels the playing fields” between the different teams.  Data gathered from previous years is no longer relevant and so, most teams feel they have a fighting chance of being “up at the pointy end of the field”.  Unfortunately, this only really lasts for one season.   The introduction of 990cc four strokes in MotoGP  saw renewed enthusiasm from manufacturers with Aprilia and Kawasaki fielding entries, and Ducati following the next year. 

Several years later, Aprilia and Kawasaki are gone.  Without good results, sponsorship is hard to come by.  Somehow, Suzuki still field bikes despite their lack of decent results.  Will the same fate of shrinking numbers on the grid befall Moto2?  Given the current huge number of bikes in the competition, you would expect some reduction in numbers over the next couple of years.  Hopefully the measures put in place to restrict costs will stop the wholesale decimation of the grid numbers.

As for me: personally, I am just hoping to see a good season of close racing and maybe witness the rise of a new champion in the sport.  Bring it on!

Engines – Part Two.

Previously I described an engine as having pistons that travel up and down inside a cylinder.  The piston is attached to the engine’s crankshaft via a conrod.  Each piston in a four stroke engine has four distinct phases through which it travels.  For two of these “strokes”, the piston travels downwards. The other two strokes, the piston travels upwards.

1 - Intake Stroke The first downward stroke is referred to as the Intake stroke.  At the top of the cylinder head, there are valves that open and close at different points in time.  The inlet valve (or valves) open during the intake stoke, allowing a fuel and air mixture to enter the cylinder.  Because the piston seals the cylinder when it travels downwards, it creates an area of low pressure above it.  This helps draw the fuel-air mixture in.
2 - Intake Stroke completed At around the time the piston reaches bottom dead centre (BDC) the inlet valve closes, sealing the gasses in the cylinder. The piston then starts its second stroke: the compression stroke.  The piston travels back up, compressing the fuel-air mixture at the top of the cylinder.  The difference in volume between when the piston is at the bottom of its stroke and the top of its stroke, is commonly referred to as the engine’s compression ratio.
3 - Compression Stroke Compressing a flammable gas in the presence of oxygen is somewhat fraught with problems.  Compressed gas gets hot.  Hot flammable gas can combust!  The octane rating of a fuel denotes how stable it is.  Engines with high compression ratios need high-octane fuel to prevent uncontrolled detonation during the compression stroke.
4 - Compression Stroke completed Once the piston reaches top dead centre (TDC) the compressed fuel-air mixture is ignited by the spark plug. This causes the gas to ignite and expand rapidly.
6 - Power Stroke The valves in the cylinder head remain closed at this stage, so the only way the gas can expand is by forcing the piston back down the cylinder. This is referred to as the Power stroke.
7 - Power Stroke completed All things going well, by the time the cylinder reaches BDC again, all the gasses have been burnt.
8 - Exhaust Stroke No further kinetic energy is to be gained from them and they need to be removed from the cylinder, ready for the next cycle. The outlet valve (or valves) open and the now rising piston forces the exhaust gasses out through them. This is known as the exhaust stroke. At the completion of the exhaust stroke, the exhaust valve has closed and we are ready to repeat the entire process.

Two stroke engines work in a similar manner, but combine the intake /power strokes together and the compression / exhaust strokes.  How this is done, is a story for another time.

Engines – Part one

Be they two-stroke, four-stroke, diesel or rotary, internal combustion engines all work on the same principle:  Fuel and air can be made to combust.  Doing so causes rapid expansion of the resulting gasses.  This expansion of gasses is “mechanically contained” in a combustion chamber in such a way that the energy from it is used to turn a crankshaft.

Rotary engines are dissimilar enough to require their own discussion, so if these are of interest to you, then I recommend you look elsewhere.  The other types of engines mentioned, all feature a piston attached to the crankshaft via a conrod travelling up and down inside a cylinder.

When the fuel-air mixture is ignited the piston is at the top of its stroke and the gasses expand, forcing the piston down.  This is the “power stroke”.   The distance the piston travels from the top of its stroke to the bottom, is measured and referred to (rather unimaginatively)  as the engine’s “stroke”.  The diameter of the cylinder in which the piston travels is measured and called the “bore” size.

Together, the bore and stroke of an engine are used to define the engine capacity.  The volume of the cylinder , which has the diameter of the bore, and the height of the stroke, gives you the capacity of a single cylinder.  Multiply this figure by the number of cylinders in the engine and you have the total engine capacity.

EXAMPLE:
If a four cylinder engine has a bore of 74mm and a stroke of 58mm…
For those of you who do not remember:
V = π * r ² * height.
The radius is 3.7cm (half the bore) and the height is 5.8cm.
Using the formula, a single cylinder, has a capacity of 249.45 cubic centimetres (cc).
Multiply this by the number of cylinders and you end up with a 997.8cc engine.

As a piston travels up and down inside a cylinder, it must come to a complete stop and change direction.  Arresting and reversing the piston’s momentum takes energy.  The faster the piston is travelling, and the heavier the piston is, the more energy is required.  This energy is supplied by the momentum of the crankshaft.  This means that some of the engine’s output is spent  in changing the velocity of the piston.  For this reason, there tends to be an optimum speed at which the piston travels.  The longer the stroke of an engine, the further the piston travels.  So, in an engine with a long stroke, the piston travels faster at a given crankshaft speed than in an engine with a short stroke.  As a rule of thumb:  the longer the stroke of an engine, the slower the maximum revolutions per minute (RPM).

There is no ideal size for an engine bore or stroke.  A lot depends on what the engine is powering.   Engines that need to move a lot of weight, require more torque.

Torque is a twisting force applied to an object, like a wheel or a crankshaft.   For our purposes, we will consider that torque is measured in pounds-force feet (lbf-ft) meaning the equivalent of a given force, in pounds, acting on the end of a lever of length in feet. … For example, standing with 180 pounds body weight on a lug wrench one foot long yields 180 lbf-ft of torque.

Work is the application of force over a distance. Unfortunately, the units used are the same (pounds times feet) but we write this as ft-lb just to distinguish it. The real difference is that in this case, the “feet” part means feet of movement.

Power is the application of work within a finite time. 550 ft-lb of work in one second is one horsepower.

From this, we can see that torque and power are related.  In fact:

hp = (torque * RPM) / 5250
(Where torque is measured in lbf-ft)

Another rule of thumb is that: engines with a longer stroke produce more torque.  There are other factors that influence power and torque outputs of an engine.  Cubic capacity never goes astray when you need more power and torque…

A motorcycle does not need to shift a vast amount of mass – but tends to be size constrained.  (unless of course, you are prepared to just jam in a big car engine)

More weight conscious sports bikes tend to concentrate on obtaining a high power figure, over obtaining a high torque figure.  Given the formula above, we can see that to produce more power, we either need more torque or more engine revs.  So, sports bikes tend to concentrate on producing power by spinning quickly, which means they end up having a short stroke.

Getting the fuel-air mixture into the combustion chamber also affects power and torque figures of an engine, but that is a story for another time.

Off Road

I have an admission to make.  I have been riding motorcycles for over sixteen years and (at a rough guess) around a quarter of a million kilometres.  I have ridden many different bikes and also raced motorcycles at a club level.  My admission is, until the last few days I had never ridden a dirt bike.  Thanks to my brother-in-laws, this is now something I can add to my riding experiences.

Unlike some other road-riders, I was under no false-illusion as to what I would be like on dirt.  Apart from knowing what controls did what, my experience counted for little when it came to riding dirt.  These days I try to avoid taking road bikes on dirt roads.  I have got all the excuses under the sun as to why, such as: A lot of modern bikes have become too “single-purpose” to do dirt roads well / The big wide tyres of a road bike tend to skate around on a dirt surface / It takes ages to clean them afterward.  Basically, I would rather just try and avoid it.

The one warning I continually got about riding dirt bikes was that you just can’t grab the front brakes to stop.  This well may be true, but used correctly, the front brake is very useful.  Maybe some road riders tend to be more boisterous with front brake application than I am, because after some time I became more relaxed with using the front brake.

As for my actual riding on the dirt, I was predictably crap to start off with.  My road-riding bias meant I was unable to comprehend how the long travelling suspension of the bike could handle the deep ruts in the track as well as they could.  I had a couple of low speed “step-offs” when dealing with steep and rutted four-wheel drive tracks (both uphill and down) In retrospect, it was my lack of speed that got me in trouble far more than going too quickly.  I don’t think I have ever had the attitude of being ten foot tall and bullet-proof and going faster in a situation where I didn’t feel in control was the furthest thing from my mind.

I did see noticeable improvement in my riding as the day wore on and finished the day with some descents and a hill climb that I was proud of – whilst still being acutely aware of how remarkably simple they would be to someone with more riding experience.   Despite slowing them down, my riding companions patiently waited for me and offered encouragement.  I would have loved a few more riding tips, but they probably did the right thing by not overloading me with information to try and apply.

My faithful bike for the day was a Suzuki DRZ400 – complete with electric start. (A feature I was quite thankful for!) The torque of the 400 single cylinder meant it would chug along quite happily when I left it in a gear that was too high for the situation.  More accomplished dirt riders may have found some fault with the bike, but to me it seemed just about perfect!

I doubt my single day’s ride has made me a better road rider.  I don’t think I reached any great levels of competence from my day in the saddle, but it was great fun and a real eye-opener for me.  Whilst I am not about to rush out and buy a trail bike for myself, it has gone on that list of things I want to do again some time.  When “some time” arises, hopefully I will have remembered what little skills I have gained and forgotten how stiff and sore my legs were the next couple of days after the ride!

Who needs a battery anyway?

Having built my “under-seat” tray to hold the CDI and SAPC units, all that was left to do, was to place the battery somewhere.  Part of the problem of owning a track bike, is that it is unlikely to see regular enough usage to keep a standard battery charged.  Standard lead-acid batteries are heavy too.  If you are used to seeing a car battery, motorcycle batteries do look miniature by comparison, but my new tray did not allow room for the standard RGV battery.

The VJ21 and VJ22 model RGVs were fitted with a kick-start system.  Given that there is no electric start on this bike and that is devoid of lights and indicators, the only real function of the battery is to power the CDI and SAPC units and spark plug coils.  Like most engines, an “electrical generator” of sorts uses the spinning of the crankshaft to recharge the battery.

Some racing bikes run a total-loss system.  The charging system causes a drag on the engine.  The more current you try and draw from it, the more the drag and the bigger the performance hit will be on the engine.  A total-loss system will not recharge your battery as the engine runs. By doing so, less load is put on the engine, leaving more power to actually propel the bike.  Unless you are at the elite level of the sport, it is unlikely that having a total-loss electrical system is worth the trouble of recharging the battery after every race.

Given that the generator provides electrical power, the battery becomes superfluous to requirements. The regulator/rectifier and AC generator of the RGV is sufficient to power the electrics of the bike while it is running, and your leg (and kick-start) is enough to provide the initial power to start the bike.  A “battery eliminator” can be built and substituted for the regular battery, saving weight, space and the “oh-no” moment, caused by a battery that has gone flat through lack of use.
Although commercially available “battery eliminators” can be purchased, “Mick” on the currently out of action Yamaha-rd forum  wrote a succinct post on how to build one:

You need;
3 x 4700µF 25V electrolytic capacitors
1 x 500ohm resistor
some solder
a soldering iron
source of power for the soldering iron
cup of tea
decent music

OK, solder all of the components together in parallel; that is +ve terminal to +ve terminal. This is important. The resistor can go in any way round, but they must all be connected in parallel with each other.

Remove the battery from your bike.
Connect the eliminator up the right way round (+ve end to +ve connection on the loom)
Switch the bike on (note: the PVs won’t move until the engine’s running)
Start ‘er up.
Ride the bike, and enjoy the feeling of having lost 2.5kg of ugly fat.

Mick.

How hard could it be?  There was a discrepancy between the commercially available, and Mick’s battery eliminator.  Mick suggested a total of 14100 micro-farads, whilst the Zeeltronic schematic had 30000 micro-farads. (and a different amount of resistance).  From my limited understanding, the capacitance allows a good way to smooth out the voltage provided across the unit, whilst the resistance provides the regulator/rectifier with a workload.  Without this load, the regulator/rectifier would overheat.  (Feel free to correct me here)

Battery Eliminator PartsI bought the components from Futurlec.  Shortly after I ordered the parts, I read the horror stories from “customer review” websites.  Put simply, they grossly understate shipping times and I am not convinced they ship your order when they claim to.  They also allow normal mail shipping of their products and hence they cannot be tracked on-line.  This further reduced the transparency of their operation.  The parts did arrive after four weeks.  Their website made me believe it should have only taken two…  In days before Internet shopping and on-line tracking of parcels, I would not have thought twice about the length of time it took for my order to arrive.  These days though, it is a different story.

Once I knew how large the capacitors were, I purchased some cabling and a zippy box of sufficient size from the local Dick Smith Electronics shop.  Then all I was missing was the cup of tea and some decent music!

Battery Eliminator Circuit BoardRather than use a breadboard, I drilled holes in a piece of Perspex to hold the wiring in place and rubber mounted the board inside the zippy-box in an attempt to shield the components from solder loosening vibrations.  Once I had finished construction and fitted it to the bike, I tried to start the bike… At 30,000 micro-farads, I could not generate a spark.  In the end, I removed one of the capacitors (reducing the overall capacitance to 20,000 µF) and had instant success!  (Yay!)

Given that my de-soldering technique is even rougher than my soldering technique, I didn’t bother providing photographs of the final product.
For those of you tempted to try building your own battery eliminator, I have ended up with the following configuration:

  • 2 x 10,000 µF 25V electrolytic capacitors
  • 1 x 1000ohm resistor (5W)

So now you have three different sets of figures to guess at!  Good luck!

Battery Eliminator wired up.Battery Eliminator in boxBattery Eliminator vs. Battery
(Edit: Pictures added)

Look what I made!

As I mentioned earlier,  I recently fired up the RGV for the first time in a long time.  Before starting the bike, I needed to re-fit the various electronic boxes to the wiring harness.  Specifically the SAPC unit, and the CDI unit.  The SAPC unit attaches to the sub-frame of the motorcycle, which meant I had to re-install that as well.

This was the first time I had installed these parts, since installing the rear shock absorber from the GSX-R 600.  Unlike the standard RGV shock-absorber, the remote canister “piggy-backs” on the main body of the shock-absorber.  Although it did not touch the SAPC unit, this canister was in close proximity to the expensive box of electronic trickery. 

It was not hard to imagine that a minor tumble may have flexed the swing-arm sideways enough for the canister to collide and damage the SAPC unit.  Whether or not this sort of incident could occur was irrelevant – I decided it was safest to avoid the problem altogether by relocating the unit.

Mmmm.... Muesli...I am definitely no expert when it comes to fabrication of parts, but I was enthused with the optimism gained by having the right parts and tools for the job.  First effort was to make a cardboard mock-up of the tray.  I decided not to allow too much depth in the tray, as experience has taught me that the rear wheel travels further than would otherwise seem likely.  Careful measuring allowed for a neat fit between the rails of the sub-frame.  Having gone through this process, my only recommendation is you take great care to “flex” your cardboard cut-out as little as possible when lowering in and out of position.  Parts of the final design were influenced by the need to be able to manoeuvre the tray into position without bending it.

The rest of the build process was slow and methodical.  I used 0.6mm galvanised steel sheet – as that is what I had available.  After carefully measuring out the dimensions of the tray, a pair of tin-snips cut it to approximately the right shape, and then a bench grinder and hand-file finished off the shaping.

Folding the sheet was done by hand, holding the plate in the vice, with bits of timber to add support to either side of the fold line.   Somehow, I managed to avoid any silly mistakes caused by folding the sheet the wrong way!

Another rectangular sheet was riveted to the tray, and folded in position to form the “back piece” of the tray.  This then bolts to the sub-frame where the pillion seat brace is.

At this stage, I have yet to put bolts in to secure the SAPC and CDI boxes.   Final placement of these parts is still to be determined.  If there are any readers with an RGV, they may be wondering where I am planning on putting the battery.  – On a standard bike, this tray sits where the battery recess was.  Well, rest assured that I have not forgotten about it, but that is a story for another time.
Installed with components
Shot from rear of bike.

RGV Update

“Good news everyone!”  The RGV’s engine officially works.  The reinstallation of the engine took far longer than planned.  That was due to a combination of intentional stalling to get the budget back on track, unplanned extra work due to faults discovered along the way and limited spare time.

When I went to install the engine back in the frame, I discovered a hairline crack in the engine cradle.  Although the engine has rubber mounts reducing the amount of vibration transferred to the frame, common sense dictated that I should not ignore such an obvious weak point.  A quick trip to a local aluminium welder had that problem sorted out.

During this time, I took the opportunity to superficially tidy up the expansion chambers.  (exhaust pipes)  I say “superficially”, as I made no attempt to reduce the carbon build up that is surely deposited on their insides.  Instead, I sanded back the existing layers of paint, removed as much of the surface rust as possible, treated the remaining rust with a “rust converter” and treated the pipes to a fresh paint job with heatproof paint.  Whilst being a “far from perfect” job, it should give the pipes a bit more protection against the elements.

The reinstallation of the engine, exhausts and cooling system went remarkably smoothly, given that I do not have a workshop manual.  I have yet to buy myself a workshop manual for the bike.  This is largely due to the fact that I used to have one and they are not cheap.  I cannot quite bring myself to buying a new one.  These days, “bootleg” PDF versions are available on the internet.  I have found the PDF version of the RGV manual to be an incomplete series of bad quality scanned in images.  Still, using this and referring back to photos I took of the bike at the beginning of the year meant I did not end up with “bits left over”.

Once it was back in one piece, half a litre of fuel and the battery were “borrowed” from the VFR, and I was able to fire the bike back into life quite easily.  The “build” itself still has a fair way to go.  The high-level short list comprises of:

  • Replacing the brake lines and servicing the brake calipers
  • Front fork rebuild or replace (to be decided based on pricing)
  • Replacing various bits and pieces that are worn out. (chain and sprockets / clutch lever and cable / etc)
  • Fitting the new bodywork.  But that’s a story for another time.