Thursday, 24 July 2014

Ryedale Rally day two

Sunday dawned hot and humid, overcast with a threat of rain in the air. As usual things were a lot more relaxed as there was no registration or scrutineering on the second day. Although there was a bit of confusion over the way the time schedule had been written out but we managed to work it out in the end.

Sunday was to consist of the ride out and back, the same as yesterday plus four shorter laps. I refuelled with my 5 litres which only half filled the tank, luckily Rob who was camped next to me had plenty of spare, so I was able to fill the tank.

The ride out went without incident and we were starting from the same place although heading off in the opposite direction to Saturday. Whilst waiting for my start time someone noticed fuel leaking from the cap of my rear fuel tank. This of course was supposed to be turned off and empty! So I was rather surprised to remove the cap and find that the tank was full. This most probably explained my odd fuelling yesterday, as the fuel tap on the rear tank was clearly faulty and didn't shut off! The solution was fairly simple, I turned off the tap on the main tank so the bike was only drawing fuel from the rear. A quick check of the rear tank at the end of each lap to see what the fuel level was and if necessary I just opened up the front tank for a few minutes to allow it to refill, then shut it off again. In the event I only had to do this twice and finished still with a fairly full rear tank. It was the first time I had ridden with the rear tank full and was pleased to note it didn't affect the handling at all, but after all 5 litres of unleaded only weighs about 3.5 kilos.

The race itself was OK, the first (sighting) lap going without too much incident, although I did managed to slip off in the special stage and bent one of my hanguards. The substantial alloy bars are not as substantial as they look! Although it made the space around the brake lever a bit crowded, it wasn't a problem just a bit annoying as it was constantly touching the back of my fingers when covering the brake.

The special was essentially the same as Saturday in reverse but with the addition of some extra technical going in the woods. The rest of the lap was without incident although very snotty and slippery in places. As I came to the end, the heavens opened and the rain came down with a vengence. Starting lap two I couldn't see much at all the rain was so hard.

Arriving at the special, one of the timekeepers stepped forward, with one (muddy) rag he cleaned off my race number and with a another cleaner rag dried my goggles for me. I was counted down and off I went, my goggles remained clear for at least three seconds! I tried to ride smooth and steady on the basis that slower but staying on the bike was bound to be quicker than fast and falling off! No such luck and again i went down at slow speed in the woods. I had to resort to riding without goggles for the last part of the special as at least I could see where I was going. The rest of the lap was OK although there was a long slippery section through the woods near the end of the lap that was becoming increasingly difficult to ride, a combination of my fatigue from lack of training and increasing worn tyres, which to be honest were past their best before I started!

Back at the start of the lap it was clear the conditions were taking their toll, with loads of people deciding to call it a day and head back to Goathland. Unfortunately for me not many of them seemed to be in the Rally Class! Laps three and four were just repeats of the first two, although the rain did eventually stop. I was getting more and more fatigued and managed to fall off yet again on special stage three. They did take out a section of single track just after the special which gave us a bit more time on fire road, which to be honest was a bonus!

By the last lap I was getting very tired but perversely still enjoying myself. I determined to ride the last special even steadier this time and managed to get through 99% of the special without falling off, only to lose the back end on the small chicane set up at the very end to slow you down for the timekeepers. I dragged the bike upright and ran over the line with it, I was that close! A very weary finish to the lap followed and I was pleased to have completed it.

The shiny Rally Bike I had started with on Sunday was now looking distinctly second hand:




I also had a long "to do" list....

Straighten hand guard
Replace rear fuel tap
Replace number plate (that had completely delaminated)
Sort out front suspension (think I need some slightly softer springs)
Get some vinyl graphics for the fairing (if for nothing else than to protect it from stone chips)
New tyres front and rear
New front and rear brake pads
New chain (although I have a nearly new one from the CCM that will go on as it's the same size and length)

Oh yes... there's also the small matter of the MOT to get sorted.

A long drive home to Bedfordshire followed, not to mention a weeks worth of cleaning!

The results came out a couple of days later and on one hand I was pleased that I had managed to move up to seventh in class, my best ever result! However I wasn't so pleased to see that riders who had been behind me on Saturday had moved in front of me, no doubt a result of my numerous "lying down incidents". The only reason I got up to 7th place was due to riders who had been ahead of me on Saturday had DNF'ed on Sunday. But then again the whole point of getting results is being able to finish in the first place, so not too bad a result I suppose.

So lots of work to do before the Beacons Rally on August 9th and 10th

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Ryedale Rally day one

The Ryedale Rally, a tale of two different days indeed....

One a sunny, hot and very pleasant day where dust was my biggest problem And one (very) wet, muddy and slippery where staying upright was my biggest problem!

The drive up on Friday was not without incident, heavy traffic on both the A1(M) and the A64 meant a long, slow trip eventually arriving around 6.30 in the evening. Unlike in previous years where the Rally was based a few miles from Pickering in a farmers field, actually a few miles from just about anything! This year it was based in the village of Goathland nestling in the heart of the North Yourk Moors.

Goathland is perhaps better known to viewers of Sunday Evening "comfort telly" as Aidensfield, the setting for the Heartbeat series that was set in the 1960's. Indeed you can still see "Aidensfield Garage" and one of the pubs, The Goathland Hotel still bears it's "Aidensfield Arms" sign on one side. The village clearly still cashing in on the series and judging by the hoards of tourists, it still works!

The village also has a station on the North York Moors Railway (A private steam railway) that also doubled up as Hogsmeade Station in the Harry Potter movies (not to mention various other period TV and Film railway stations).

 
The Aidensfield Arms AKA The Goathland Hotel
 
 
The following morning dawned bright and sunny and registration was dealt with and the bike given a quick check over before scrutineering
 

 
 
Scrutineering was a formality and the bike was placed in the parc ferme (i.e. the corner of the camping field) ready for the start.
 
At the rider briefing a few people were surprised to learn the days route was to be 180 miles as the final instructions said 130 miles. This did cause some concern as the trailer carrying everyone's spare fuel had already left so no chance sending out extra. I had a full 13 litre front tank and had sent out my 10 litre can, so I reckoned that was good enough.
 
At 10.08 I was on the start line ready to go when the battery decided it was flat! Luckily it starts easily on the kickstart so I was only a couple of minutes late starting! The first section was a liaison along the  A168. This had been recently resurfaced with loose chippings and had the usual "maximum speed 20mph" signs out..... needless to say we all ignored them.
 
The lap started at the same place as usual so whilst waiting for my start time, I topped up my fuel to find I needed a lot more than I anticipated as I'd only ridden ten miles!
 
Whilst the new lap used a lot of previous year's tracks, there was also a lot of new track too. Also the familiar bits were not in the same order as previous years so suddenly I'd realise I was on a familiar bit and anticipating where I was going next only to suddenly find myself on a completely new bit.
 
The course was fantastic with a real variety of tracks, fast fire roads, snotty forest sections and everything in-between. The special stage came right at the end of the first lap and had a lot of familiar elements from previous years. On the first lap it's not timed to allow "sighting" and went OK. After the first lap, the bike wasn't looking so clean and shiny...
 
 
I topped up the fuel and was surprised to find I used the rest of my 10 litre can but couldn't quite fill the tank. Oh well nothing I could do but carry on for the next two (52 mile) laps and see how I could get on.
 
The next two laps included a timed special and I went fairly well on the first. On the second I felt I was going even quicker but managed to drop the bike in one technical section so knew my time would suffer. We eventually finished and then headed back to Goathland in convoy, to awaiting photographers on the hump backed bridge over the railway, then into the village past hoards of tourists. Sure beats turning up in a field in the middle of nowhere.
 
The good news was that I had completed the 114 miles from the last fuel fill without going onto reserve.
 
Later that evening, results were posted and I was lying in 8th place in the Rally Class, so I was quite pleased with that. My second timed special had been 17 seconds slower than the first so I guess I had been going quicker as it certainly took me longer than that to pick myself up, get back on the bike and get going again.
 
After dinner followed by a couple of pints in the "Aidensfield Arms" we retired to bed, only to be woken by very heavy rain during the night, a foretaste of what was to come on Sunday....
 
 
 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Final Steps....

The bike has finally reached completion..... Well sort of! After fitting the fairing on Friday night, a week ago, the next day saw it's first shakedown run. I accompanied a beginners ride for the Herts TRF and the bike performed faultlessly.







On Sunday it got a thorough cleaning and a few remaining jobs were completed. First, replacing the front wheel bearings (another simple job), then connecting up the rear fuel tank and finally fitting the new rear plastics.

The fuel tank was fairly simple to plumb in but first I removed it!

This was because the back wheel was touching the inside edge of the tank, so I modified the bracket to allow the tank to sit a few millimetres further out. I then fed the fuel line through two holes already present in the air box from where it had been fitted previously.




I had bought a new fuel tap of the type that screws in and out, rather than having a lever as I thought this was less likely to get turned on (or off) accidently. It fitted very neatly behind the frame rail....


 
And then I completely pulled apart the fairing and electrics!

Having fitted the halogen lamps, which required relays to handle the current I had decided what I really wanted was some LED lighting. At the HUBB UK meet I had looked at a couple of Rally Bikes, fitted with Vision X LED lamps. All very nice but at about £115 each, way above my budget.

Then I discovered some LED lamps on eBay at £26 a pair. Well that was too cheap to ignore and if they didn't work out I'd always have a pair of auxiliary lights to bolt on the 990 Adventure!

The lamps look almost identical to the halogen lamps, being almost the same diameter, although a little shorter.
First stage was to change the mounting, as can be seen they have a clamp to fit on a round bar. This was unbolted and a hole drilled into each side of the lamp (having checked there was a nice bit of "empty space" behind the LED and electronics. Into these was fitted a "rivnut" giving an M6 thread in each side. The lamps were then bolted between the plates of the nav tower in exactly the same way as the halogen lamps.


I wired them up straight to the battery to see how they worked, they may have been cheap but they certainly seem to chuck out plenty of light...


Then I removed all the electrics and started again. As the lamps only draw 30 watts (as opposed to 55 watts for the halogens) I felt safe running them straight through the switch wiring without needed the protection of the relays. After all the standard KTM headlight runs at 35W and doesn't need them. So I have retained a single relay for the "master switch" but that's it and even this is designed to be easily bypassed in the event it fails.


The new electrics before being wired together, much simpler than the old set up
 
The final job was to replace two of the fairing mounts, when I first made them I used 3mm x 19mm aluminium strap but only had enough for two mounts. The other two were made from 2mm strap so were a bit too flexible. In the meantime I managed to get hold of some more 3mm aluminium so replaced the two offending mounts. Originally I had also tapped a thread into the mounts but now replaced all of these with rivnuts to give a longer thread and a more secure connection.

So finally it was ready for it's first Rally, the Ryedale Rally in North Yorkshire....



To be continued

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Getting there slowly...

With only a week to go to my first race of the year, the Ryedale Rally in North Yorkshire, the bike is almost there.

After getting all the electrics, fairing mounting and fuel tank sorted the next job was to make the cut outs for the headlights and then spray the fairing.

For both these jobs I entrusted the bike to my friend Radu of RCBS 4x4 Specialist a fellow Rally racer (on four wheels).

First up was to cut the holes, this is the result, although the holes are going to be opened up a bit more possibly to allow some rubber edging strip to be fitted around them.



Looking pretty good so far!

This picture does show the extremely rough finish of the fibreglass, more on that later.

You may also notice the new hand guards, I had fitted the black ones off my CCM (which were KTM ones anyway) but these were just plastic. Whilst they do a pretty good job of keeping branches etc. off your hands, they do tend to flex when the bike goes over and therefore don't protect the levers (you may recall I'm rather good at breaking levers)!

I spotted these ones on eBay, only £29.95 and they have the alloy bars running through them, like much more expensive models like Bark Busters that cost about £90. However they were only available for 22.2mm bars not the thicker 28.6mm Fat Bars that I have.

Except that is if you buy them in orange, which for no apparent reason come with two sets of clamps for both size bars at no extra cost?

When they arrived I was very impressed with the quality, whilst they are clearly of cheap Chinese manufacture they are nearly as good as the Bark Busters I used to have but for only a third of the price. As for the orange, they match the colour of the tank fairly well and with a KTM it is pretty difficult to avoid the colour.

A few days later I popped round to Radu's workshop where he was still spraying filler primer on the fairing and bemoaning the poor finish. This kept resulting in small pinholes appearing in the primer so had stripped it back and filled all the holes by hand, then rubbed the fairing down again before applying another filler/primer coat...



You'll also notice the new front mudguard that will give you a clue to the final colour scheme.

On my next visit, the fairing had been painted but Radu was not happy with the finish so had decided to rub it down, fill and primer it again and then spray it again. I always guessed he was a bit of a perfectionist but it was at this point I discovered his secret......

He was using child labour!


The ever enthusiastic Andrew helping out.
 
I had thought long and hard about the final colour scheme for the fairing, from black to black and orange to just orange. But finally decided on a scheme that did involve having to buy a new set of plastics but worth it in the end I think.
 
Firstly I removed the black fork guards and re-used the orange ones in my box of bits. These were cleaned up and refreshed using orange reflective vinyl.


As previously noted I swapped the black front mudguard for a new white one


 
Then on Friday I popped round to Radu's workshop to collect the bike. He was still not happy about the finish as there were still two pinholes evident in the paint.... yes that's right only two! I did say he's a perfectionist didn't I?
 
Assuring him that A) it's likely to get scratched the first time out and B) I'm going to be covering it with vinyl graphics anyway, he agreed it was OK. We then fitted the fairing using thin self adhesive foam between the fairing and the aluminium struts to minimise wear between the two. We also glued thicker black foam block around the headlights to prevent too much light reflecting back after dark.
 
I had thought long and hard about what to do about where the edge of the fairing meets the petrol tank and finally settled some "boot edging strip" from Frost Auto Restoration:
 
 
I'm not so keen on the final result, the way the edging strip actually looks, whilst it is doing exactly what I intended it doesn't look as neat as I had hoped. I also bought some plain edging strip (without the rubber tube) so may try that as an alternative.
 

I have removed the road book holder for the time being as it is not required on UK Rallies and it leaves a convenient place to mount my Garmin Montana 600 GPS using a Ram Mount.
 
There's still a fair amount to do, the rear plastics are going to be changed to white and this means refitting the rear lights and number plate holder. The rear fuel tank needs to be connected up and the black air box will get a white vinyl covering to reinforce the orange/white colour scheme. I also have some ideas for graphics for the fairing as that large expanse of white needs breaking up. But all in all I'm pleased with the result so far....
 
 



 
To be continued....
 
 
 


Monday, 30 June 2014

The rally bike build so far....

The build of the Rally bike has been progressing well.....

First stage was to sort the electrics, I moved the fuse box from the back of the navigation tower to the side and loosely fitted the relays for the new lights (see below)




Then came the lights:

Plan A was to adapt the new Dottori fairing to fit round the Laser LED headlamp that came with the bike. However I wasn’t happy with the LED lamp as to be honest it was far too bright for everyday use. Great I guess if you’re doing an event like the Dawn to Dusk but as I’m not I had the problem of dazzling everyone if I used it whilst out trail riding!

Plan B was to fit a standard KTM headlight into the Dottori fairing as it is designed for one but  I would have to buy a newer model headlight than the one I have got and this would also need some major chopping of the navigation tower as it was just too close behind the fairing for the headlight to fit.

Then I came up with Plan C….

I’ve always like the look of the KTM 450RR with it’s stacked headlights so decided to aim for a similar look…



But how to do it on the cheap?

The answer was two projector style fog lamps, £32.99 from eBay, mounted one above the other:




And this gave me a chance to finish off the wiring

Additional work carried out at this point included moving the light switches from a toggle switch mounted on the Road Book holder mount, to a more conventional switch positioned on the left hand bar, This gave me a switch that gives off, dip and main. It also means that when I remove the navigation gear for UK Rallies, I don't have to remount the switch every time.



This switch comes with a kill switch as well as the light switch but I used that instead as a horn button, also putting that back in a conventional position as it had been on the right hand bar.

Now that too has been neatened up with just a start and a kill switch side by side.



Then I did a few bits of tidying up like wiring up the high beam indicator light and cable tying the cables to neaten everything up.

Then I turned to my fairing, the brackets were fairly simple, some aluminium strap to make a top front mount above the headlights, and two side support stays.

Not looking bad, all I needed to do was cut the holes for the headlamps and get it painted.






The last time I rode the bike, I was cleaning it and noticed a fair bit of play in the rear wheel bearings.

So that was next job on the list, surprisingly easy to change but it does help that I bought a new head bearing installation tool recently that has a driver that is also the perfect size for the wheel bearings. Certainly easier than the CCM but then that does have three bearings in the back wheel.

I definitely think they had reached the end of their life!!!



One other modification I made was to the bars, the riding position was almost right but a little bit low for me as I do prefer to use bar risers.

Mike had thrown in some bar risers in my box of bits but they looked to be a bit taller than I wanted.

Then I spotted the solution! Sitting in the garage is the CCM and I noticed the bars have a slightly higher bend. So the EXC now wears its Renthal Fat Bars…. result!

 
 
Last job of this stage was to fit the additional rear fuel tank, fairly easy once I had found the instructions on the internet.
 







Saturday, 28 June 2014

A very nice weekend indeed!

Had a great weekend last week at the HUBB UK Meet at Donington Park Farm, met lots of friends from both motorcycle and 4x4 worlds. The weather certainly helped with sunshine all weekend. Although it was an overland travel event, I spotted a few rally bikes, well riding in rallies is "travelling overland" isn't it!

 
A very nice KTM 690 on the Rally Raid Products stand, this one is not a rally bike
as it's in "adventure" spec
 

 
Rally Raid Product's LC4-50 project, a 450 conversion of a 690
designed as an affordable option for the Dakar Rally
 


Ollie Lloyd's 450 Speedbrain 450 fresh from the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
 
 

 
A tidy looking 450EXC parked next to my tent, the owner had ridden over from Northern Island. I was particularly interested in the Wolfman luggage, that gave me ideas that I could possible do longer trips on my 450?
 


Two of my favourite bikes of the weekend. Honda monkey bikes!
 
 
 
Mark "Moly" Molineux's Interesting take on a rally bike, based on a 250cc Portuguese AJP
 

 
A close up of Moly's bike
 

 
Ollie's Speedbrain again