VStrom Tech Night – July 16, 2013

“Big Dan” hosted a Tech Night at his new place in the NW, so we rode on over to partake in the festivities. The major event was to be the replacement of Phil’s stator which had been giving him grief for a while. Dan and Phil enlisted Louise to participate in the wrenching and I think she enjoyed it.

Here are a few pictures from the evening …

Stator goes in the big hole there.

Phil with a stator – the stator is the non-rotating part of the bike’s alternator – the thing that provides power.

While Phil’s bike was on the lift undergoing major surgery the rest of us were out in the sun chatting while I tinkered with the new intercom system wiring on Louise’s VStrom. In the picture below, Trent’s new 2013 FJR1300, (the major new redesign of my bike), is on the left.

Trent offered me a test spin on his new bike, which I eagerly took him up on! I was pretty curious as to what the real-world difference would be between the new design 2013 and my second generation 2009. First off, Trent’s bike doesn’t have the bar risers that mine does, so I couldn’t get a good sense how the ergonomics felt in comparison, but since the chassis and seat are unchanged from 2009, the risers ought to make sitting and reaching the handlebars the same. Second, it seems that the new FJR is quicker – the new engine computer and sport mapping does make a difference. With the engine in relaxed mode, it was noticeably more tame than my 2009. So the stock fixed mapping on the 2009 seems to be set between the sport mode and tame mode on the new FJR. Suspension seemed the same. The improved windscreen still needs to be a bit higher for me. Trent mentioned that he was happy with it since he’s a couple of inched shorter than I am. I didn’t take it far and I came back in a few minutes. The group was laughing because they could hear me accelerating briskly up on the main road.

I talked to Trent about a taller windscreen for the VStrom and he volunteered up the Givi he has on his VStrom for a test on the RTTH since he was taking his FJR.

We did some bench racing – that’s Trent, Richard, Dan and me, Phil’s back can be seen on the right of picture …

With Phil’s new stator installed and seemingly working fine, we all ate off the BBQ brisket he brought over for dinner – he’s an actual chef.

Dan and I took a run at mounting the really loud horn on Louise’s VStrom, but failed … again. In fact I broke the mount even more so that I can see no way now to properly mount the thing anywhere. I will buy Louise a new one and try not to screw up the mount again.

Good times these Tech Nights.

08 VStrom Tech – Pannier Install

The VStrom group’s annual Run to the Hills (RTTH) trip was coming up soon and since I had pretty much all the parts for the Micatech panniers (side cases) on hand, I wanted to get them installed so I could take the VStrom on the trip.

First step was pulling the seat and top case rack off so that the SW-Motech side racks could be installed.

The various rack bits needed to be assembled and loosely tightened so things could be properly aligned.

With everything tightened and the case attachment bits on, this is what it all looks like …

And with the Micatech pannier mounted …

Now I have the same amazing carrying capacity as Louise does!

Almost ready for RTTH in a couple of weeks.

VStrom Tech Day

09 September 2012 – Big Dan, with the local VSRI group decided to host a VStrom tech day at his place. Louise wanted to change out the links in the rear suspension of her VStrom, so we headed over.

There were a couple of other VStrom guys there, including Andrew, the young guy that had shared our site in Nakusp last month. He had his bike on the lift working on the shift lever and stuff.

Once he was done, we got Louise’s VStrom on the lift and she started working on changing out the links. Dan made her run the bike up onto the lift and do most of the wrenching, which was very cool.

While we were wrenching, a wicked storm blew in with high winds and marble-sized hail.

By the time Louise finished with the links, and we’d visited and drank some lovely tea made by Dan’s girlfriend Kay, the storm had passed over and we left to head home.

The new links were supposed to be the same height as the adjustable Soupys’ that she had on last year, but Louise noticed that the rear of the bike felt a little higher. She’ll have to ride it some more before knowing for sure.

Solo to Sarnia – Bike Prep

Louise is heading out on a solo trip to Sarnia in a couple of days. In order to get her bike ready, there were a number of modifications and additions that she wanted done/made before the big day, which is Saturday, July 7.

First up was a new rear shock to replace the dead stock shock. The stock shock is pretty lame and I think all VStroms need to have the rear shock replaced. The shock that Louise went with was the Progressive 465RAP Short Shock with remote preload adjustment.

We ordered the shock from Vicious Cycle, rather grudgingly. We haven’t had great service from them, but there’s usually a significant savings (in duty mainly) ordering from them versus ordering the same thing from Twisted Throttle in the US. After the difficult time we had getting updates from Vicious Cycle, this was probably the last thing we’ll have ordered from them.

Since the new shock arrived before riding season really got going, Louise decided to take the VStrom to Walt Healy and get them to do a full oil/filter change, chain adjustment and to install the new shock back in mid-April. While they were at all that, Louise also asked if they could lower the front-end of the bike to get the whole suspension geometry back to where it should be.

This turned out to be a great idea as the handling is vastly improved and there’s a number of other little things that work better, like airflow over and around the fairing and windscreen. While the shock itself was kinda expensive, it’s made such a huge difference to the bike that there’s no question that it was money well spent.

Next up was fixing the StarCom radio connection. During last year’s PNW2011 trip, Louise lost the use of the Push-to-Talk (PTT) button for talking to me over the radio. At the time, I thought it was the PTT button or cable itself and during the troubleshooting in a Safeway parking lot in Omak, WA, Louise suggested simply setting the StarCom to use VoiceActuation instead of the PTT button.

Great idea! I made the change and aside from hearing EVERYTHING Louise said inside her helmet, it worked well.

Now fast forward to a week or so again and the radio connection failed altogether. So I resolved to fix it once and for all. I pulled the cabling and tested the PTT button and another known good PTT button. It made no difference which PTT cable I used, it still didn’t work, so the problem wasn’t the PTT button. That was both good and bad news – good in that it meant I didn’t have to source a new PTT button, but bad in that I still had no idea what the problem was. Next up I swapped in a spare StarCom unit – it also made no difference, still didn’t work.

So now I figured maybe the radio connection cables – the cable to the radio is short and coiled so it doesn’t run too far inside the bike from the handlebars to under the seat, so I had an extension cable for most of the way. I tried some connections without the extension cable and … voila! It now worked fine! Luckily, I had another extension, tried it and no problem, so I ran that and all was good.

Since I had all the electronics pulled out anyway, I thought now would be a good time to install the new fuse block, the EasternBeaver PC-8, replacing the old Centech unit; and fixing the fender under the seat. When the rear shock failed, the rear tire would actually come up high enough to hit the underside of the fender under the seat and wound up wearing a hole in the thick plastic! The first fix I tried sucked, so I ripped it out and tried again with different materials. It worked only marginally better, so I ordered a used fender assembly from eBay and when it arrives and Louise’s bike is back from the trip, I’ll put in the new fender.

Anyway, back to the Fuse Block. The EB PC-8 unit comes with a VStrom-specific harness and relay, making it very easy to install. It took only a few minutes and it was all done with everything all wired up again. I like the design of this unit way better than the Centech it replaces. I have one to be installed on my VStrom and I may get one for the FJR down the road.

Alright, so the electronics were all fixed up, next was to install the Admore Rear Light Bar under the top case above the stock tail-lights. We’d tried to install it earlier, but the included bolts were too short and we needed slightly longer ones. Finally picked those up and finished the install. The Admore light bar provides a number of LEDs lights that flash then go steady when the brakes are applied, and has sequential signal lights as well. The wiring part was the hardest and required the top box mount to be removed, and the plastic body work on the back pulled of to get access to the specific wires. This actually sounded and looked harder than it was and it only took about 90 minutes start-to-finish. The result is a great looking safety addition that also happens to look really cool.

Louise had also ordered a thing called the MadStad windshield bracket. The stock VStrom screen can only be raised or lowered by a couple of inches – the MadStad allows for forward and back tilt as well as a much greater range of adjustment up and down. This bracket took about 30 minutes to install and it’s another great farkle – very useful and works very well.

Something that’s missing on most bikes is protection for the handlebar ends and the brake/clutch levers in that case of a tip-over. Quite often, in a fall, the brake or clutch lever can get broken, in fact in 2010, when Louise and I went to the coast, she tipped the Burgman over in Field, BC, on the first day, snapping the rear brake lever. We had to fix it with a stick and duct-tape until we got home 2 weeks later. We’ve seen BarkBusters at the Motorcycle Shows and the time had come to get a set for the VStrom and get them installed. So tonight, I pulled the stock hand guards off, which are simply plastic wind deflectors – there’s no protection with them, and Louise and I installed the aluminum bars that make up the BarkBusters system. They look great and offer way more protection for the hands if it rains and will save the levers in the event of a tip over.

There’s not much more to do to the bike, Louise had some goo loaded into the tires this morning to mitigate punctures and had the chain adjusted. We just have to check the oil and coolant, pack it up and she’s ready to go!

VStrom Wrenching – GIpro Gear Indicator

One of the major things missing on the VStrom is a gear indicator – well almost, there is one indication – there’s the neutral light. I take it for granted that there’s a gear indicator on my FJR, and I still manage to try to leave from a stop in second or third gear sometimes.

So we tracked down a gear indicator – the GIpro, ordered it a while ago and planned to install it during the FJR Tech Day on May 28. Well, I did manage to get the speed-o-healer installed, but not the gear indicator. So I installed on Sunday May 29.

The installation was really easy with the hardest part running the cable from the dash to underneath the seat. Here it is installed:

GIPro installed on Louse's VStrom

GIPro installed on Louse's VStrom

FJR Tech Day

This past Saturday went to the local FJR Tech Day. It’s a day where a bunch of us FJR owners get together at someone’s house and we wrench our bikes. There’s always an oil change or two to do, and sometimes there’s something major like tire changes or swing arm bearing repacks.

I had some electrical things to do to Louise’s VStrom so she came along. We FJR owners aren’t exclusive, we’ll play with other bikes, so Louise and her VStrom were more than welcome. ┬áThere were a half-dozen FJRs and a couple of V-Stroms

One of the big things to do to a later model FJR is to install the supplemental wiring harness to mitigate the dreaded “ground spider”. I did mine last summer and a fellow FJR owner, Guy, helped me a bit with it. He had mentioned it then that he thought he’s do the same to his FJR, so he ordered up the harness and arranged to install it at Tech Day.

So that was my Tech Day – install the electrical stuff onto the VStrom, help Guy with his harness install, and change the oil in my FJR.

A great day!

Louise wrenching her VStrom

Louise wrenching her VStrom

FJRs at FJRguy's place for Tech Day

Guy and his stripped down FJR

Guy and his stripped down FJR