Thursday, May 26, 2011

Quick update before the IBR Start

Thought I would post a quick LD update.  Last weekend I participated in the Minuteman 1K rally.  I placed in second behind Jim Abbott.  I was really happy with my result.  At the current time I have to post trip reports for the Iron Butt 5000 (5 days, 5000 miles), Rendezvous Rally 2010 (placed second), Cape Fear 2011 and the Minuteman 1K 2011 rally.  Yep I am getting behind but I will get to it over the summer!

Right now I am finalizing my preparations for the Iron Butt Rally (11,000 miles (18,000kms) in 11 days).  Lots of things to do over the next two weeks.  I leave to ride out to the IBR start in Seattle, Washington in about 2 weeks time.  The first IBR checkpoint will be all the way back in Buffalo, New York 4 days later (only 3 hours from my home).  The 2nd checkpoint is Jacksonville, Florida  about 2 days later and the finish will be in Ontario, California.  I expect to have travelled about 15,000 - 17,000 miles (24000 - 27000 kms) in 4 weeks. It is the adventure of a lifetime and I am fortunate to be able to participate.

Be sure to check back as I will be posting by IBR report asap when I get back (yes the other reports will have to wait).

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Video: A Look inside a 4 cycle engine

A great video showing inside a 4 cycle engine

Friday, April 29, 2011

Added another bike - 2002 Honda ST1100

A few weeks ago I purchased a 2002 Honda ST1100 to use as my local runner.  The bike had just over 111,000 kms on it.  Those that know the reputation of the ST1100s will understand that this bike has only just been broken in and should be good for many more riding days.  Looking forward to putting some miles on her!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How to: Auxiliary Fuel Tank for Long Distance Motorcycle

This is my second posting of How To's for the Long Distance Motorcycle.  My first posting was on Auxiliary Lights and can be found here.

People incorrectly assume that riders into long distance riding often travel significantly faster than posted speed limits.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Traveling significantly faster than the speed limit will ultimately get you pulled over to for discussions on "why you were in such a hurry" with the LEO.  Time spent at the side of the road, rationalizing your speed to someone who I am certain will be less than sympathetic to your pleading, is not the way to ride long distances.  Riding faster than traffic will also result in fatigue much earlier than riding at a normal pace.  Keeping the wheels moving and minimizing the number of stops and length of your stops is the way to consistently increase your overall average speed and therefore your distances.  Minimizing the number of stops is where auxiliary fuel cells can be useful.

Auxiliary fuel cells come in all kinds of shapes and sizes but there are some rules of construction and size that must be adhered to in order to participate in many long distance rallies. The Iron Butt Associations fuel capacity limit is 11.5 US gallons including the stock capacity of your bikes fuel tank.   There are 2 main design styles of fuel tanks:  Gravity feed style usually mounted on the pillion seat and the Taildragger style usually mounted at a lower point at the back of the bike.

Gravity feed tanks are by far the most popular style of tank for one obvious reasons:  gravity never falls. Disadvantages of gravity feed tanks include a higher center of gravity due to the added weight of the fuel at a relative high point of the bike and the need to remove the tank when you want to ride with a passenger.

Taildragger tanks are generally complex and need some type of electric fuel pump and switch arrangement which can fail.  Advantages of a taildragger include a lower center of of gravity and the ability to leave the tank installed with a passenger.

I elected to go with a taildragger style tank on my FJR.  Below,  I will give a picture overview of my install.

First, let's look at are some pictures of auxiliary fuels tanks installed on the bikes of other long distance riders.
Taildragger style installed on an 07 FJR belonging to Catfish.  Seeing this installation was the inspiration for my install.

A very clean install of a gravity feed tank on an FJR.
An alternative to an Aux Fuel tank is to modify the existing bike tank.

Thane Silliker's custom gravity tank on his ST1100 at the
start of the 09 IBR (Thane is a great Canadian LD Rider!!).

One of the nicest aux fuel tanks I have ever seen on Jeff Earls BMWK1200GT.
Left side of the tank was for water and the right side was for fuel.

Gravity feed tanks on Jennyfer Audet's and Jacques Titilo's sport bikes
at the start of the 09 IBR. 
Ok lets look at the installation of my taildragger tank on my 2007 Yamaha FJR.  The tank is the Sampson Taildragger.  I purchased it directly from Ron. Ron was incredible and willing to customize the tank as needed.  The tank is made of aluminum and the workmanship is amazing. The tank capacity is 4.4 US gallons bringing my total fuel capacity to 11 gallons when combined with the 6.6 gallon stock tank on the FJR.  The 11 gallons is less than the 11.5 gallons permitted by the Iron Butt Association.  However, I am very happy with my current range of about 400 miles.  

Side view of my Sampson Taildragger tank.  I had a bracket installed on the top of the tank to hold a flashlight.  Very handy and quick access for hunting bonuses in the dark.

Rear view of the Sampson Taildragger tank.  Note the LED flashing Hyperlights on either side of the licence plate.

All the plastic should be removed prior to installation.  Note the length of the rear fender which needs to be cut. 

The rear fender was cut just below the licence plate light......  I was a little nervous making the cut and measured many times.   I used a Dremel tool to make the cut.

A view from the top of the area under the passenger seat. You can see two slots that I had to cut to for the top brackets.

Once again a view from the top of the area under the passenger seat.  I drilled two holes and inserted rubber grommets.  The small hole is to pass through electric wires for the rear hyperlights and replacement licence plate light.  The larger hole is for the fuel line to the Taildragger tank

I purchased an industrial Parker solenoid valve.  The valve was expensive but should last forever.  The solenoid valve and the fuel pump are definitely the areas prone to failure on a taildragger tank.  I wanted to ensure that I purchased excellent quality parts.

NOS Low Pressure Fuel Pump Part # 15760NOS. Not cheap but excellent quality.

Just enough room under and behind the rear seat to install the pump and solenoid valve

A view from the top showing the location of the pump and solenoid valve.
Another view of pump and valve installation
Tank installed and fuel line routed through hole drilled previously.
Fuel line connected to bottom of aux tank and a fuel filter added.

The stock tank must be removed to install the bulkhead fitting which connects the aux tank to the main tank.

Fuel pump needs to be removed to gain access.

Some tape protects the hand from the sharp edges.

Use a step drill bit to for the bulkhead fitting and mark the correct diameter.

Bulkhead fitting purchased from Sampson Sport Touring

Location of drilled hole for bulkhead fitting.  I passed a small yogurt container into the tank and taped it under the location of the drilled hole to catch all the metal filings.

Another view of location of drilled hole for the bulkhead fitting

Quick Disconnect purchased from Sampson Sport Touring to permit removal of gas tank.

Bulkhead fitting installed with quick disconnect.  Later I decided to length the fuel line by 2 inches to provide easier access to the operate the quick disconnect.

Routing of fuel line and quick disconnect.
Top view of installation.

Location of switch to turn fuel pump and solenoid valve on/off.  The switch is attached to the side of a control box on top of the front brake master cylinder .  It is located in a position where it cannot be turned on by accident but it still within easy reach on my right hand.

Indication light installed on my dash when to remind me when system is turned on.

I have had the auxiliary fuel system installed for about 30,000 trouble free miles.  Helpful hint:  I carry a spare female quick disconnect in my tool bag along with some PVC tubing so that I can quickly tie into the main fuel tank to drain gas or to help a fellow rider in need of gas.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How to: Auxiliary Lights for Long Distance Motorcycle

One of the first and most important upgrades to your bike to consider for long distance riding is your lighting.  I consider this a critical safety enhancement.  Effective long distance riding means that you will be riding many hours at night.   Being able to see a hazard, like deer feeding in the ditch, is important.

PIAA Xtreme White series bulb
There are several ways to upgrade the lighting on your bike.  As a minimum, consider upgrading your stock headlamps.  This is a low cost alternative and is particularly effective on older bikes but all bikes will benefit.  I upgraded the bulb on my old 1992 Yamaha FJ1200 and was please with the results.  I currently use a PIAA Xteme White Series bulb in the left side lamp on my FJR.  You can also consider increasing the wattage of the bulb you use but be careful as damage to the housing and the stock wiring can result if you go overboard.   On my older FJ1200, I actually wired the headlamp to a direct power supply from the battery via a relay increasing the voltage available (and therefore the amount of light) by about 20%.

However, if you get serious about long distance riding, you should consider installing an auxiliary lighting system.

Let me show you the auxiliary light systems that I have installed on my 2007 Yamaha FJR.

The front of the FJR showing the 2 sets of Auxiliary lights installed.  The top set are 4GHIDs from Future Vision (no longer sold) and the lower set are PIA1100XX.   Installed in the right headlamp is an HID style low beam bulb.  The left headlamp was left stock with a PIA Xtreme bulb installed.  I left one headlamp stock for several reasons;  1) Redundancy in the event of multiple ballast failures. 2) The ability to keep a "flash to pass" option  3) The ability to flash oncoming cars without blinding them if they leave their high beams on and, 4) The ability to find a replacement H4 bulb from pretty much anywhere.  

I have 2 sets of auxiliary lights on the FJR.  The top set are my main auxiliary lights and HIDs type lights with external ballasts.  The lights were sold by Future Vision, model 4GHID, but are no longer available.  The 4GHID come on with hi beams (when switched on).  The lower set of lights are PIA1100XX halogen lights and come on with the low beam (when switched on).  I use the PIA1100XX during the day to provide "triangulation" which is a proven safety measure, as well as at night in foggy conditions.

4GHID Lights.  Light brackets are from FJR Goodies

4GHID Lights

4GHID Lights

PIA1100XX Lights

Both sets of lights are controlled via a switch box from BLM Accessories mounted on the front brake reservoir.   The left ON-OFF switch controls the PIA1100XX.  When switched ON the PIA1100XX will come on only when the main headlights are in low beam.  The two ON-OFF-ON switches on the right are for the 4GHIDs.  If the switch(s) is placed in the bottom ON position, the 4GHIDs will only turn on when the main headlamps are switched to hi beam.  If the 4GHID switch(s) are selected to the top ON position, the power to the 4GHIDs will bypass the relays and stay on all the time.  This provides redundancy in the event of failure of relay(s) (shown later in the post).

Closeup of BLM Switch Box. 

I installed a HID low beam bulb in the right headlamp.  The HID bulb was also sourced from Future Vision.

HID Low Beam for Right Headlamp.

Ballast for HID Low Beam.  Very slim and compact.

Locations of installed ballasts for right headlamp and right 4GHID aux light.  The left ballast is for the 4GHID.  I had to remove plastic from the battery box to get these two ballasts to fit.  It was a tight fit but ultimately worked out well.

Location of the 4GHID ballast for the left Aux. Light.

Wiring for the lights took some time.  I will provide a separate write up on how the wiring for the bike was done.  For this post, I want point out that I used 2 separate Fuzeblocks to supply power to the various lights.  The Fuzeblock on the right of the bike (top Fuzeblock in next picture) supplied power separately to the right HID headlamp and the right aux 4GHID lamp.  The Fuzeblock on the left of the bike (bottom in the next picture) supplied power to the left aux 4GHID and PIA1100XX lamps.  Each Fuzeblock is supplied from a separate fused line directly back to the battery.   The left stock headlamp was left connected to the stock wiring harness. Lots of redundancy..... Bottom line is that I should always have some light available!

Fuzeblocks installation under seat.

Close up of Fuzeblocks

The HID headlamp, right and left 4GHID aux. lights and the PIA1100XX aux. lights are all controlled by relays located under the seat for quick access, trouble shooting and replacement.  The relays are all waterproof.

Relays controlling the lights are located under the seat for quick access.  Note the spare relay available for quick replacement.

Close up of relay bank.
After about 25,000 miles, I can say that I am extremely pleased with my light setup.  The 4GHIDs can turn the night into day!  The HID headlamp is a huge improvement over the stock halogen and combined with the PIAA bulb, give an amazing amount of light even without the aux lights on.  The only item I may change this winter is the light brackets for the 4GHIDs.  The current configuration would be prone to damage in the event of a tip over.  I will probably change out the brackets to a forward facing style.

As an added bonus, below are some pictures of my very first aux, light setup on my 1992 Yamaha FJ1200.

PIA1100XX Aux Lighting on a 1992 Yamaha FJ1200