Thursday, April 19, 2012

Just some new pics

God I hate changing tires.  Especially when you have two new tires to deal with.  That POS Shinko didn't want to come off the rim but eventually I won the battle.  New shoe is a 120/80x19 Pirelli MT21 Rallycross.  Back to the traditional knobbie, albeit DOT legal - I just hope it lasts longer.

Since the weather was overcast and I haven't washed the bike since before I got caught in a deluge last week I decided that it would be a less-than-ideal time to snap some new pictures.  That storm also made me realize that I desperately need some rain gear before the LAB2V ride in November.

The tank bag is new.  $16 at RMATV.  Part of the money left over after they graciously accepted my Wrigley's Shinko.  Haven't tried it yet although I'm nervous the cordura nylon underside is going to scratch up the tank.  Might see if I can sew a piece of microfiber on there.

I also finally got around to picking up spares for my clutch, brake, and shift levers.  Of course the new ones were much nicer looking than the old ones so the old ones are the new spares.

My DIY 'Honda Wing' graphics are bubbling bad so that idea was a bust.  I wasn't really going to mention my brilliant idea of buying sheet vinyl unless it worked.  I'm out $14 but I can salvage that a bit by making a few trim pieces that won't be on the tank.  Really though, I just need to find some clean and simple graphics that don't cost $200.  Seriously who pays that kind of money for stickers?  Plus finding graphics that aren't full of neon swooshes, dice, skulls, flames, half naked demon chicks, etc. is actually rather difficult.

MX aftermarket graphic design seems to be stuck in 1984.  I can't grow a mullet so there's no way I can put those graphics on my bike and look the part.  Why do we even have decibel limits on our exhausts when you can't hear them over the obnoxious sticker kits anyway?

I also realized that I don't have any pics of my cockpit with the GPS mounted.  It's a Garmin 76Cx which is pretty much the standard GPS of the dual sport community.  Seriously don't mess around with other GPS's - just get one of these.  They're cheap and since everyone has one, getting help or just handing them to the ride organizers to upload your route for the day becomes so much simpler.  It's mounted using a U-bolt Ram mount.  The arm is placed as close to perpendicular to the forks as I could get to dampen vibration.  Unfortunately I thought it would be clever to make a stupid face in the mirror.  Just ignore the douche making kissy faces...

All the crap with the tire made me forget about painting my clutch and stator covers during this last oil change.  So it'll have to wait until next time.  Also barely visible in this pic is my custom made prototype teflon case saver.  Its mounted behind the XRs Only front sprocket cover.  

Last but not least this blog will finally get a ride report I think.  Got the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation Ride For Kids this Sunday.  Can't wait!  Should be good times for a good cause.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Shinko Trail Pro 255 = CRAP

I posted a few weeks ago that I finally got around to mounting a trials tire onto my XR.  Everybody raves about these trials tires for dual sport bikes.  Ok to be fair, the one everyone runs is a Pirelli, but I have a 19" rear wheel and the Pirelli only comes in an 18".  So my only option was to run a Shinko Trail Pro 255 which I mounted with a Tubeliss at the same time.

I was skeptical.  After a few miles on asphalt I didn't really like it -  constantly felt like it was flat.  But offroad whoa...I felt like I was riding on one of those velcro walls with a velcro tire.  It was nuts how grippy this thing was.  In 25 miles of dirt I was hooked - trial tires are awesome!    Eventually I started to get used to the feeling of them on the road so even there they started to grow on me.

But then today happened.  I was in my garage and noticed my rear tire was flat.  The tubeliss was still pressurized but when I tried to put air in the tire I could hear it rushing out.  Checked the tread and found several cracks where the lugs met the tire body.

Turns out those cracks go all the way through and this tire is now trash.  The best part is:  they lasted all of 250 miles...

I was running 15psi on dirt and 22psi on road.  Maybe that's not the right pressure for these I don't know.  The sidewall says the max pressure is 33psi so I think I was well withing range.

Shinko's website says all warranty claims have to be made through the dealer where the tire was purchased.  So I'll put in my call to RMATV tomorrow and hope for a credit towards a tire that's not made out of recycled chewing gum, but I've already left a 1 star review for this turd.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Prius: The Moron Litmus Test

Ah the Toyota Prius.  The quintessential poster child of the green movement.  Sell your Honda Accord and get one of these eco-miracles and you'll save money and the environment!  Right?

Actually not so much... 

I'll ignore the environmental damage created when a vehicle is produced - although that's an important factor.  Imagine if you only owned one car your entire life:  How many tons of plastic, rubber, metals, etc. would have never been extracted from the earth and refined into a useful form?  You could buy a 1950's car today, complete with it's 8 mpg, drive it the rest of your life, and still cause less pollution than you did by just purchasing and driving a new hybrid off the dealer lot.  But we're ignoring this.

I'll also ignore how our tougher emissions standards have ruined fuel economy.  While the rest of the developed world concentrates on CO2 emmisions in their vehicles, the US still focuses on NOX and CO for its emissions testing.  All of our work to lower NOX and CO actually indirectly increases CO2 emissions, which if you believe the climate change people, is exactly what we should be focusing on.  The UK has several small diesel and petrol cars that get upwards of 50 and 60 mpg - even when you factor in the conversion for imperial gallons and the less realistic mpg tests across the pond.

But it's all about fuel economy right?  Being green is just an added bonus to the green I get to keep in my pocket!  Well in an ideal world, the Prius gets maybe 50 mpg.  This of course assumes that you drive it very efficiently, which is something most people don't do.  Top gear UK had an interesting test where they had a Prius on their track being driven as fast as the driver could go.  Following behind was a 500hp BMW M3 with a turbocharged V8.  The BMW only needed to keep up with the Prius.  End result: The Prius averaged 17mpg, the BMW; 19mpg.  It's not what you drive, it's how you drive it.

But lets take that ideal Prius with it's 50mpg and MSRP of $25,000.  Let's also say your currently driving an older SUV and getting a dismal 15mpg.  Gas isn't quite $5/gallon yet but let's give the Prius an edge and say that it is.  You will have to drive 107,000 miles just to break even on your purchase!  107,000 miles of losing money.  Doesn't sound too awful I suppose right? 

Same scenario, but this time you have a more typical car that gets 20mpg.  You'll need to drive that Prius 150,000 miles to save the $25k you spent on it.  Based on their construction, I'm pretty sure they won't last that long without having some issues.  It just keeps getting worse as the comparison cars get better.  I'll stop here since most passenger cars get at least 20 mpg these days.  It's a safe assumption that if you get over 20 mpg on your current car, then the Prius won't survive long enough to pay for itself.

But here's where it gets really bad - compare the Prius to cheap, new commuter cars.  Take the 40mpg Kia Rio for example:  Replacing that 15mpg gas hog with this, and at $13,600 it will pay for itself in 65,000 miles.  Ah-ha!  But the Prius still gets better gas mileage than the Rio so eventually it will still be the better buy!  Think so?  Every time you see a Prius I want you all to think of this:  To go 1000 miles, that Prius uses $25 more in gas than the Rio but costs twice as much.  The Rio paid for itself in 65,000 miles, the Prius in 107,000.  But the Rio is still saving gas after 65,000 miles and now its in the black while the Prius is still working to pay itself off.  Get this - you'd have to drive another 456,000 miles before that Prius finally gets an edge.  That's 521,000 miles on the odometer before the Prius owner can finally pat themselves on the back and truly consider themselves making money at the pump!

Prius vs. motorcycle:
So why all this hybrid talk on a motorcycle blog?  Well my wife's little DR200 got me thinking about it.  Many folks have managed to get 100mpg on these little things with street tires and taller gearing.  In stock form with an average sized rider, 80 is easily attainable.  It's not just the DR either.  Many smaller bikes get 80+ mpg.  Heck even my gas-hungry 400 dirt bike on knobby tires gets 50 mpg without even trying.  Using one of the 80 mpg bikes, and our purchase price of just under $2000, it will have paid for itself every 7,400 miles compared to that gas-guzzling SUV. 

But what if you already bought into the hybrid hype?  Well using the same numbers as before, you could sell that Prius and get an 80 mpg bike.  At $2000 and 30 mpg better over the hybrid, you'd pay for the bike in a short 12,000 miles.  That's about the average mileage a car sees in a year.  Even if you didn't ride the bike when it was raining, or cold, or whatever the excuse was that day, you're still going to break even in under 2 years with reasonable use.

So hybrid cars:  Saviors of the earth or glorious examples of people's inability to comprehend basic math?  I'd say its obvious but I can't drive 2 miles without seeing at least one Prius.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Rebuild time!

I love rebuilds.

First time I pulled apart an engine I was 12 or 13.  Sure it was just a simple 2 stroke top end job but it stirred inside of me an urge to see what makes things work.  I think I was 16 when I did my first 4-stroke, and thanks to many years of a "2-stroke only" mentality, that was also the last one I did until now.

Nothing fancy this go around.  Bunch of stuff was at its service limit but I figure if it lasted 16 years, is aftermarket even an upgrade?  Sure I could have bored it out to a 440, or tossed in a high compression piston, but that really undermines what I consider this bike's best selling point: uncanny reliability.

There's a dozen similar sized bikes that go faster than the XR, but very few bikes that are as bullet-proof.  Jump around on the forums a bit and you'll see rider after rider trying to get more power out of their XR's.  End result is they make a bike that has more power than stock, but still falls short to most 450cc bikes.  In exchange, they've tragically altered the longevity and reliability these bikes are so well known for.  Honda engineers weren't dumb when they made this bike, they just didn't design it to eek every possible horsepower out of the engine.  Instead they made something that would take you wherever you wanted to go and last 16 years between rebuilds...

 Anyway I kept things pretty close to stock.  I didn't really have money to burn on this build so I replaced anything that was anywhere near it's service limit and I only went aftermarket when it was so close to the price of OEM that I felt silly not to.  Did add some Kibblewhite valves/springs/retainers.  All and all I'm really happy with what I found inside and I now feel completely confident to stray far from civilization on this bike.

And finally because paint is cheap and I figure I improved my cooling by removing all that crud off the fins, I decided to paint the engine.  Unfortunately it's looking like the side covers are going to really stand out like a couple of bandaged toes.  So I'll take care of those when I change the oil after this tank.

Everything went back together easy enough, except for some issues with the most stubborn broken bolt I've ever come across.  Started up on the 2nd kick and seems to be quieter and making more power - although I'm still doing the break in so hard to say at this point.

There's a lot of hubbub about how you do your break-in.  Some people say you should ride it like you stole it from day one, others say that's crazy and you should baby it for the 1st tank.  I've always bought into a mixture of both.  Essentially I do 4 break in cycles and then a full tank of varying the throttle and not really pushing it for too long.  For anyone who's curious:

#1.  Make sure you've got dino oil in the bike.  Last thing you want is synthetic on a new top end.  Start the bike and let it idle up to operating temperature.  Shut it down and allow it to cool to ambient (by the way each cool down to ambient can take several hours).

#2.  Start the bike and allow a brief warm up, then ride it easy in the lower-mid rpm range with as little load on the engine as you can manage.  Avoid fast acceleration and whatever you do, don't lug it.  Stay out of top gear and don't keep the rpms the same for more than a few seconds.  Residential streets are pretty much ideal for this step.  Ride for 10-15 minutes like this and then park it again and let it cool off to ambient.

#3.  Another 10-15 minute ride while varying the throttle.  Again, no top gear and avoid lugging it at all costs.   This time you'll want light-medium power and mix in a short burst of acceleration every 30-60 seconds or so.  I generally will hit WOT on the last 4 or 5 power bursts.  Park it and while the bike is still warm, change the oil and filter.  Again, stick with dino oil.

#4.  Fill the tank and repeat this step until it's empty.  Only ride for 15-20 minute sessions, and keep varying the RPM.  You'll want some WOT but don't make the engine work too hard for too long.  Whatever you do, don't lug it.  The idea is to make the engine work at maximum output, but not overheat.  Allow ample cooling time between fast WOT moments.  Let the engine cool to ambient after each ride.  After the tank is empty you need to change the oil and filter again and once again I'd suggest staying away from synthetic.  Really I like to have at least 1000 miles on a piston before I even consider syn. 

So for 200 miles I get to be the most annoying person in the world to follow.  Gotta keep the rpm varied so gonna be 50>55>50>55>50.  Please don't ram me if you happen to be the poor soul stuck in my rearview.