Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Joys of Problem Diagnosis on an Airhead Motorcycle

So, for the last three weeks or so, I had been experiencing following symptoms on Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Beemer Airhead motorcycle.

1. After about 25-30 of riding, she'd cut out on me while slowing down to a stop light, she would however restart right away. This would not happen initially during the morning commute but did occur at least once on the afternoon commute, so I thought perhaps it was the hot weather. This behavior got worse, occurring recently during the morning commute as well when its cool.

2. When riding in the rain, she would not hold idle when at a stop, I'd have to keep revving the throttle to keep it going.

3. In conjunction with #1 above, she'd also sputter/surge on me at low revs, which is rather unnerving when leaned over on a curve or starting off from a stop with a cager behind me. This was the most annoying of all.

4. Once the engine warmed, the tachometer needle would get bouncy and twitchy, specially when my revs were below 4000 rpm. I had checked all visible/reachable electrical connectors and grounding points and all seemed clean and secure.

Here's my sequence of troubleshooting that I've been following in the last couple of weeks or so.

Since I thought it was a hot weather related issue at first, I thought something was getting heated up and sticking, causing fuel flow issues at the carburetors.

a. Checked out gas flow, they flowed fine, checked right after getting home with the engine still hot.

b. Replaced the spark plugs as part of her 64k services. Replaced the oil and oil filter/transmission/final drive/drive shaft fluids as well.

c. Checked the floats in the carburetor bowls and float tested one, it seemed fine. Didn't do the other one since the mounting post was broken off at the top and I didn't want to dink with it until I safety-wire it or something first. However, both floats cut off fuel at the right level.

After much reading on the airhead forums I frequent and much counseling/guidance from one of the Gurus of the Airhead community: Snowbum, aka Robert Fleischer, he walked me through, with a series of emails through the following diagnostics:

Preface: He said my descriptions of the symptoms pointed to three possibilities:

***The ignition modules can be damaged permanently from too many cycles of 'cutting out from overheating'. NOTE that cutting out is also possible from damage to the Hall element in the ignition canister. It is not always easy to determine which part is the problem....this is particularly so when the engine will restart immediately.
USUALLY when either electrical part overheats, the engine will not restart until it has cooled-off some. Thus, I am a bit suspicious about YOUR bike. Your 1987 R80 probably has the SINGLE, dual output, ignition coil. Those coils have been known to fail. They have enough current in the primary winding that does heat them a bit in normal operation....and your problem occurs after some riding minutes. I would inspect that coil visually. In particular, if it has a GRAY body, it is suspect.
Look for cracks in the plastic housing, that was the typical visual appearance on failed gray bodied ignition coils.
Thus, whilst I DO suspect an ignition problem in your bike, it could be three things!

Armed with the above guidance, I took the tank off Brigitta yesterday and with a bright flashlight looked at the ignition coil while it was mounted on the bike. Saw nothing that looked like cracks (more on this visual inspection later). All the connections looked good. I did unmount the ignition control module and apply some heat sink compound on it before mounting it back up since I had the tank off anyways.

I reported back to Snowbum that no cracks seemed evident and he then suggested using a multimeter to check the OHM resistance values on the unit.

This is how I had the coil looking on the first ohm meter test, this is wrong

I tried my first ohm meter measurement with one of the battery wires still attached, big mistake, which caused bad reading which I sent to Snowbum:

Hi Bob, I placed the leads from the ohmmeter on the terminals which I assume lead to the battery. I disconnected the black wire from the starboard terminal before doing the reading since the clymer manual said to disconnect it. (it also gave me a reading of 15.4-15.6 with the wire hooked up so it was reading the battery probably)
I got a reading of .011, which is way outside of what the manual says I should get which is 0.67 - 0.77, am I right to assume the coil is toast? See attached photo, I placed the leads in the red circled areas, the one to the right is behind the heat sink/shield. Note, I did not disconnect the port side terminal wire, should I have?

I got this information over two emails:

***Measure the coil primary and secondaries with an ohmmeter. The first indication of a failed gray coil IS TYPICALLY a problem in riding in the rain, or, high humidity. That may NOT be your eyeball the coil very carefully for cracks, and use an ohmmeter on it. Coil or ignition wire failures can cause real idling problems, yes.

The Airheads with ONE coil, that coil having two towers on it, is usually called a 'dual coil', confusingly. It has a primary resistance of a nominal 1.15-1.32 ohms. There are some later ones with somewhat lower resistance, but certainly NOT 0.011 ohms. Its secondary is 7500 to 9150 ohms. You measure that between the two towers, down deep inside them. Be sure to measure that secondary, as it is usually the secondary that opens.

The wires should have NO POWER on them with the ignition OFF!!! Disconnect both primary wires, these are the two spade terminals.

Put the ohmmeter on the lowest range, if it has adjustable ranges. Short the two ohmmeter leads together. If you have a knob to zero the ohmmeter electrically, do that with leads shorted, otherwise read the ohmmeter with leads shorted. Subtract any reading above zero from the reading between the two coil spade terminals.

I have no idea about your 0.011...that has to be wrong...meter, or? There should be near infinite ohms readings from any of the 4 terminals to the chassis ground.

Note, I had been using the Clymer manual up to this point and their stated values for a good coil differed from the above, I now know to go with Snowbum on this.

So, when you do it you have to disconnect both spade terminal connectors! I had just unhooked one since the other was a PITA to get to without unmounting the unit which at this point I was not ready to do. Because I did not, I got a bad reading of 0.011 ohms which I sent to Snowbum.

So I dismount the coil finally, should have done that in the first place! Using my multimeter, I got a 0.2 reading when shorting the leads so I subtracted that from the 1.4 reading I got when measuring the primary resistance between the two spade terminals. Had I been paying attention the the above information from Snowbum, I would have realized that it fell within the parameters Snowbum had specified! Foolish me. I however could not get a ohms resistance reading off the secondary resistance connectors! Struggled with that for a bit, then had to go in to work, reported my failure to Snowbum via email.

So, the next morning, I took Maria over to Pete Homan's shop to return the windshield that came with Brigitta since I was not using it for some money. I brought along the ignition coil and showed it to him.

Now, here's the DOH! moment. Apparently, there were, obvious (to him) cracks all along the casing of the coil Once he pointed them out to me, they were obvious to me as well. I had mistaken the cracks to be just scratches on the casing. He also tried to measure the secondary resistance setting between the two "towers" where the spark plug cables plug in. He also was unsuccessful, had him scratching his head saying he'd never seen a coil fail in that way before. I felt better at my own diagnostic results at this point.

those faint greenish/gray diagonal lines are actually cracks

So, I bought a new Bosch Coil from Pete, using the cash he'd given me for the windshield as credit so it only cost me $86 and change.

I got both coils back home and took some comparison pictures so you can see the difference between the old coil and the new coil:

old coil on the left

p/n for the new coil, old one had 200 as last three numbers, all others the same

New Coil, mounted

I took a 15 mile or so test ride tonight and Brigitta rode beautifully. Not a sputter was felt, the tachometer was nice and steady, no surging, no cutting out when coming to a stop or otherwise. So, initially results from the coil replacement look good. We'll see in the next few days of riding, the weather is supposed to be a scorcher for the Front Range.

I'd like to express my thanks to the people who contribute to the riding forums I frequented with what turned out to be mostly solid advice and pointers in terms of diagnosing this issue. But mainly I'd like to thank Snowbum who took the time to help me via email and pointed me finally in the right direction in terms of diagnosis and confirmation of such. Thanks Bob!

LINK to Snowbum's Wealth of Wrenching Information on Airheads. If you own an Airhead, you need to become familiar with his site!

02AUG08 - The R80 continues to run great with the new coil. However, it was brought to my attention by MarkDS that BMW had also updated the Ignition Control Unit the same time they updated the Ignition Coil to deal with the cracking problem. Based on some more research, it appears that the old ICUs weren't design to handle the current draw of the new coils and after a while would start giving problems. See below links for more info.

LINK1 (you've got to join Airheads List first) By OAK, well known Guru in the Airhead community.
LINK2 by Anton Largardier who runs a nice tech info site as well.
LINK3 search results on "Failure Mode of Ignition Module" on Airheads List Archives

06AUG08 Update:
I got a new Ignition Control Module (ICM) aka Ignition Control Unit (ICU) from Their p/n 9604 is, according to them, a direct replacement for BMW p/n 12 14 2 325 284 which is the one recommended for use with the newer coils by the Beemer dealer. The dealer wanted $139, the ICM from rockypoint was $24.95. I'll keep the old stock one with the white lettering as a "spare".

old ICM on left, new ICM on right

New ICM installed, with heat sink compound of course!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Completing Brigitta's 64K Minor Service


To go with the valve lash check and carburetor sync I did on Saturday, today after work I chanced out Brigitta's oil and oil filter, also changed out her transmission, final drive and drive shaft oils.

She's not much different in terms of fluid changes than Maria, though her having a separate drains for the drive shaft AND the final drive fooled me for a bit and I wasted some of the hypoid gear oil trying to pour it into an already full driveshaft housing. Doh!

The oil filter is different from Maria in that you withdraw it sideways instead of the usual from the bottom of the motorcycle. It's also "hinged", in that its two small canister shaped filters hinged together with some plastic. You fold it together into one cylinder and insert. A bit weird but it was not difficult. The kit I bought from the dealer included the gasket, O-ring and inner metal ring that seal things up once you replace the cover.

The only slightly worrisome thing I found while doing the fluid changes was the metallic residue clinging to the magnetic-tipped drain plug for the transmission housing. It looked like when you play with magnets around irons filings. There were lots of them but when I rubbed some off in my hand, there were as fine as talcum powder so am hoping that's OK:

Definitely the above is something to monitor closely during every fluid change. Not much else to report, its just basic services that hopefully ensure she's good to go for many, many more thousands of miles.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The S Fairing Project Begins

I'd been toying with the idea of adding an S Fairing or Bikini Fairing to Brigitta to give it the S model look of the late seventies R90S and R100S motorcycles which I really like.

I'd found a gentleman on the BMWMOA discussion forums who mentioned in a different posting that he had one that was the Daytona Orange color version and was not using it. So I emailed him and $63 later (including shipping), I now am the owner.

I plan to have it painted black to match Brigitta's black paint scheme. But I couldn't resist having it held in place by my younger son Miles when I first got it out of the box:

Here's some more detailed pics of the fairing itself. The mounting hardware should be ordered this week through the dealer hopefully, this will include a windshield as you may have noticed this fairing is missing one.

Apparently the mounting point above was "repaired" two owners ago, very sloppily with what feels like epoxy. Feels secure though so not sure I'll mess with it except for painting it flat black along with rest of the underside.

Above is what the upper mounting point should really look like

Note the holes in the lower arms, that's where the turn signal stems go through

Here's a picture of an airhead with the full Daytona Orange color scheme, pretty but I won't be painting Brigitta to match the fairing!

Here's some pics of other Airheads that are similar to mine with the S Fairing installed, it should give you an idea of how I want Brigitta to end up looking. I don't think I'll add the pin stripes but otherwise, it'll be pretty close.

Got a pretty long way to go to get my S fairing looking as good as the motorcycle above, but today I started.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Engine Guards for Brigitta

I had signed up for the Airhead Beemers mailing list shortly after acquiring Brigitta as part of my efforts to learn as much as I could about my new to me airhead. Part of the offerings of the list is listings of stuff for sale or wanted that is sent to all subscribers.

Well, on Friday I spotted this ad from Patrick of Aspen, CO offering up free to a good home several items he did not have a use for that he'd gotten for his own airhead. He's moving and instead of just chucking the parts, he offered them up to the airhead community. One of the items was a set of engine guards/crash guards! The price was right, free! All I had to do was go to Aspen to pick them up as he did not want to hassle with boxing things up and shipping them.

I called Patrick up and he said he'd be back from the Paonia Beemer Rally by 1300 on Sunday and so we made plans to meet.

I left the house around 0915 and arrived at Patrick's place in Aspen, CO by 1250 or so. I took the I-70 super slab out of Denver, then CO 91 down to Leadville and south of there went on CO82 towards Twin Lakes and Independence pass. LINK to last years ride through Independence Pass: LINK

Aspen is not a nice town in terms of traffic control it seems, obeying stop signs is apparently optional and the pedestrians dart out in front on you at will. Oh, and gas prices, holy cow....I paid $5.34/gallon for the premium stuff on the way back, I had tanked up in Centennial for $4.19/gallon at the start of the trip! Wow.

So my GPS got me to Patrick's apartment complex with minor issues. He gave the the engine guards right away and then we whiled away about two hours chatting about his R100 motorcycle, the rally, my Maria which I'd ridden to Aspen, his plans for the future in Trinidad, CO and he imparted some mechanical tips to me. For all this I was very grateful, thanks again Patrick!

Patrick and his R100

Patrick's cool vintage Jeep

The top end of a R100/7, without the tank.

ATE Brakes, less effective than later Brembo's

It was a long ride back to my house so I had to leave what had been a rather enjoyable conversation with Patrick. I headed out of Aspen, and saw this on the way back up to Independence Pass which I had traversed earlier in the day on the way to Aspen:

Looking back towards Aspen

Oh yeah, that's rain

I put on my rain jacket but elected to forego the pants, I should have put them on as the rest of the trip I got to enjoy the feel of wet underwear. My cycleport jacket and pants are very well vented and of course that means water comes through just fine. Oh well.

It rained on me and a whole bunch of cagers as we slowly snaked our way to and through Independence Pass. The lightning bolts I saw lit up the mountainsides and the ensuing thunder echoed impressively amongst the mountain peaks. The rain was not too bad, and road conditions were fine though I did keep a close eye on the thermometer! The coldest it got was at the top of the pass, 48 degrees farenheit. It would slowly increase as I neared the front range to 88 degrees. Quite a temperature differential eh? Never did get the shivers but I will admit to turning on the heated grips on Maria on the "low" setting.

I elected to forego the I-70 super slab on the way back and instead went by way of Buena Vista on US24 and from there caught the US285 highway back towards Denver. Traffic was heavy and passing cars did not really help much as there was always yet another slow moving clump a mile down the road. I got home shortly after 1900 hrs an I was tired!

Here's the object of todays' almost 400 miles of riding:

I am going to have to clean them up and get them repainted again but hey, the price was right. Got a long ride in on Maria, engine guards for Brigitta and crossed the continental divide three times today, not too bad of a riding day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Brigitta's 65K Minor Service - 1K early

I decided to not wait till the 65k Mile mark on Brigitta's odometer before doing the scheduled 5000 mile minor service since I'd just gotten her recently and wanted to have good baselines as I work my way through the sputtering issue during hot weather riding.

So, since she's due for an oil change tomorrow, why not also do the major portions of a minor service as well? Today after work I removed the valve covers and checked and adjusted the valve lash clearances. All of them were pretty tight! So I adjusted them until I just felt a minor "drag" or stiction" with the appropriate feeler gauge. (.20mm for exhaust valve, .10mm for intake valve).

The above went fine though I did have to enlist my loving wife's help to find Top Dead Center or TDC as it's a bit more difficult on an airhead than on my oilhead Maria. I can't use the screwdriver in the sparkplug hole trick with the airhead. After some trial/error, I believe got it to TDC on each side for adjustments.

I tore both gaskets when I removed the valve covers so I scraped off the remainder from the mating surfaces and headed to the beemer dealer for replacements. $5.90 each it turns out, I also replaced the spark plugs as well not only to have good baseline but also because the left side spark plug was fouled. I'll keep the old as emergency spares.

Once back home, I put on the gaskets and the valve covers, carefully torquing the center nut to 25nm and just snugging the two 10mm nuts on the sides. I fired up the engine for a bit to check for leaks and there were none. Good stuff.

I put all the tools aside and geared up, going for a 12 mile warm up ride for the carburetor sync operation that was to follow.

The yellow ruler is my manometer

Showing how the manometer tube ends fit onto the carburetors

The carb sync operation went fine, used the manometer again and found the level unsurprisingly far apart. I got them to almost be level with each other with some adjustment of the idle stop screw, and the left side cable end as well. Now they're close to level at idle and pull even vacuum under load. Just the way you want them to be.

Tomorrow, my first oil change on a airhead.

Brigitta does not like hot days

So this week we had some days where I was riding home on Brigitta and the temps were in the low to mid 90s, pretty hot.

Near the end of the ride, she'd sputter like she was not getting fuel when at low revs on the engine and now she consistently dies at idle while at a stoplight or while slowing down to a stop at least once a ride. Rather annoying even though she starts right back up. Another annoying symptom is that she will not hold idle after riding in a moderate rain, have to keep the throttle twisted a bit when stopped at lights. I am sure these are all clues, just don't know enough to figure it out yet, but I will.

I'd checked for kinked throttle cables, nope. Took the tank off a couple of times to ensure all electrical connections and ground wires are nice and tight. I even loosened the gas cap when the symptoms appeared today to eliminate vacuum building up in the tank due to heat, nope.

Clem, the vintage BMW mechanic at BMW of Denver also advised me today that I was missing a rubber gasket on my gas cap so he did not believe it was a vacuum buildup issue in the tank.

Today when I got home I learned how to and took off the bowls from each carburetor. I checked that there was good fuel flow from each gas line. I confirmed that the floats from the right side carburetor floated on gasoline with about 1/3 of them out of the gasoline. When I went to do the same check on the left side carburetor floats, I found a problem.

Mind you, its not probably THE cause of the sputters of late, but still, a problem. The outboard metal post where the mounting rod that holds the floats' tab was broken off! Yep, nothing really holding that end of the rod except the other end of the rod in the inboard post. Still, it seems to function fine.

You can clearly see the end of the float mounting pin appearing to be handing in thin air.

Here, you can it's actually the metal tab of the floats that helps hold up the pin.

06AUG08: Note, the hole you see above where the pin is, is not the stock hole, I'd drilled it there while trying to implement multiple fixes, all of which failed and caused overflow of the carburetor.

I plan to take Brigitta to Pete Homan next week, he's at the Paonia Beemer Rally this weekend, and show him the damaged post to see if he offers to fix it since I bought the motorcycle in that condition from him. We'll see what he says. Update: 06AUG08: Never did ask Pete about this.

IN the meantime, I am penciled in for 23SEP to drop off Brigitta at the BMW of Denver dealer. I hope to be able to figure out what's really causing the hot engine sputtering at low revs before then.

Brigitta is still rideable for short rides like my commutes and as long as I don't lug the engine when its hot outside, she behaves quite well. Still, the wannabe wrencher in me wonders, what's causing this?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Film Review: Twice Upon a Caravan

Today I received from the Denver Library system a DVD containing the film created by Robert E. Fulton Jr when he rode around the world during 1932-33 by himself on a six horsepower motorcycle.

LINK to where I got these images and where you can buy the film if you wish: LINK

Mr Fulton on his trusty steed

It's 53 minutes of black/white movies that were a great complement to my recent reading of the book by Fulton: A One Man Caravan.

While the book did an excellent job of describing the many varied views and people that Fulton saw as he rode; the film films in some of the blanks for the viewer. The book remains a must-read before the film, then let the film finish the job of bringing you along this man's great adventure at the tender age of 22. Wow.

The film starts with Robert Fulton, now 92, sitting on his trusty motorcycle which he still has in his possession, it's his voice that narrates throughout the film and he mentions portions of the book as examples. Having recently read the book, I found the repetition of these book portions to be great aids to the film and to my enjoyment of the films.

Watching the film, you'll get a small idea of what kind of rough terrain he had to negotiate during the early thirties and you'll wonder how he ever managed at times. After all, it's not like he had a support crew and chase vehicles, a mate to ride alongside him, powerful BMW dual-sport motorcycles etc. The man did it on his own and not a single whine did I detect.

A scene caused some wishful thinking on my part. Fulton shoots some footage of himself and his motorcycle, they're next to a stone marker marking the Equator in Sumatra. He eats a sandwich, while straddling the Equator....that's cool! Maybe someday I'll do the same.

One commentary I found noteworthy, which highlighted the changing times that were the 30s; he was the 100th person to make an international long distance call from Bangkok to NY on their recently installed phone cable!

Some of his film was destroyed by heat and humidity during his travels he mentions, but he made it a point to mention he'd lent the US Army his footage of roads in Siam and Indochina during WWII. The army apparently lost it all and he's never been able to recover it. That's a darn shame.

So, check your local library system and get this DVD sent to you for viewing! Specially if you've read the book by Fulton but even if you have not. Its title is in the subject line, the author is Robert E. Fulton Jr, made by Searchlight Films of Bernardston, MA. Now this is a visual record of a world-class motorcycle rider!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Book Review: One Man Caravan

Sunday, 20JUL08. A short little ride today left me most of the remaining day to relax at home hiding from the heat of the day, reading another travelogue.

This one was by Robert Edison Fulton Jr, he traveled around the world right after architecture college, on a six horsepower motorcycle made by the Douglas Motor Works. It was a two cylinder horizontally-opposed engine, with same tires as cars of the time, weighing in at 750 pounds! He'd had an extra 4 gallon tank mounted in the rear to supplement the stock 3 gallon tank in the usual spot. Mind you, he undertook this journey in the mid 1930s!

You can buy the book here

He equips the motorcycle to his specifications, adding to the items one expects something quite unexpected....the creation of a secret compartment for his .32 caliber pistol that he felt he wanted along! This along with thousands of feet of film for his camera and he was off.

He starts off his journey from London with some quaint ideas involving parties at embassies along the way, which of course required him packing white tie dinner attire! These illusions fade as he crosses Europe and the items are summarily discarded for the more practical.

His adventures include some lengthy wanderings in what was then British-controlled middle east lands such as Syria and Iraq. I found his description of British army life in the middle east and India, the ride through the Khyber Pass, and all the people he met along the way very interesting in light of today's modern view of the Middle East and its inhabitants. Thing sure have changed in that part of the world now that the Pax Britannica is no more. Border crossings apparently were challenging back then as they are today to modern world riders. His challengers however were somewhat more unique.

I believe a majority of the book is comprised of the rides in this part of the world; managing entrance into forbidden Afghanistan through the failing linguistic memory of the Afghani ambassador in Turkey. He rides into and out of what we'd call war zones today with a goodly amount of luck and fortune, for the middle east has always been a troubled area apparently.

His travels then take him through the Indian sub-continent, Malaysia, Indochina which is now present day Vietnam and onto China's major cities. The book is like a whirlwind tour at this portion of the world but still full of colorful details of the peoples he encounters and the cultures he's exposed to as a motorcycle rider.

He uses water and rail transport when needed and does not feel bad about it, his intent not being to lay claim solely to having ridden a motorcycle all the way. Heck, he even resorts to riding his motorcycle in between railroad tracks when they're the only clear way to his next destination!

His last foreign land is Japan and from there a steamship across the Pacific ocean and the USA which he crosses in a couple of pages on the book. The major event being his motorcycle being stolen in Texas but thankfully soon recovered afterwards so he could ride it home to New York in time for Christmas with his family after three years away.

He covered 40,000 miles on this severely underpowered scooter by today's standards, quite the adventure and accomplishment in my opinion. In today's age of accurate maps, GPS, satellite phones and Internet Cafes he would probably look curiously at today's world travelers and their gadgets and just ride on past with a cheery wave; well perhaps he'd like the maps for he sure wandered a lot due to the maps and roads of the day.

This book is one motorcyclist's view of the world prior to the second world war, quite fascinating to me as a history major in the picture he paints of how the world was before that war.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Book Review: Lois on the Loose

I just finished reading this travelogue of Lois Price, who rode a Yamaha Serow 225cc Dirt motorcycle 20,000 miles from Alaska to the southernmost tip of Argentina. Its a short book but packed with colorful details of here preparations, thoughts and the logistical obstacles she had to face on her journey.

You can buy the book HERE

She's got quite the flair for describing her surrounding and the people she met along the way, her riding companions were as varied as the motorcycles and nations they came from.

Lois Pryce carries on throughout the book in the storied British tradition of not letting discomfort, fear and mechanical problems getting her down and her flexibility in dealing with delays and breakdowns impressed me.

By the end of the trip she talks about fixing her motorcycle with the air of the experienced wrencher. She manages to communicate mechanical diagnosis information to mechanics along the way with miming motions and sound imitations, much to the amusement of the mechanics I'm sure.

There's the many droppings of the motorcycle, one big crash, descriptions of the "sanitary" facilities one encounters in Central and South America, descriptions of fabled tourist destinations such as Machu Pichu or Lake Titicaca, the kindness of strangers in rendering aid and/or shelter when needed, the dealings with the "fixers" at the borders "helping" one through each country's customs bureaucracy, the dealing with the hot-blooded latino lover wannabes, learning the hard way about watching what one eats in foreign countries, and descriptions of men that would surely be missing from a travelogue written by a man.

This book should be quite entertaining for male riders and I am sure would be an inspiration to ride for the female long distance riders out there. The book had me laughing a several points with Lois Pryce's description of people and situations that she encountered. To ride the ride she did, on such a small motorcycle, was truly a great adventure. Some of the roads she described crossing, I am not sure I'd attempt in the first least, not on Maria, maybe Brigitta.

The ME880 conquers the pre-resurfacing pavement

A short ride today to prove out two things:

A. That the Dynabeads method works on my new ME880 front tire on Brigitta at maximum foreseeable speeds to keep it balanced.

B. That the thread pattern on the ME880 front tire can handle the rough conditions presented by roads in the process of being re-surfaced. Conditions which had concerned (read terrified) me while riding on the I-70 superslab and in city traffic in Boulder.

I went out to Quincy Road west of it's junction with the E-470 super slab. It's a straight two lane road at this point for quite a few miles and you can see ahead for a very long distance. Once I was past the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds, I knew there'd be no real traffic for a while so I opened up Brigitta until we were flying along to it's speedometer limit of 85mph. No problems with the front tire or the motorcycle for that matter.

I only held this speed for a short time, got turned around and repeated heading back westbound towards town.


Once back in town, I headed towards the junction of Alameda and Tower. Its here they're working presently on resurfacing the street and have "conditioned" the road for the eventual pouring of fresh asphalt.

A Closeup of the surface

Brigitta, now laughs at these road conditions

I am happy to report that the new front tire did great on this kind of road surface. Sure, you still feel the motorcycle wiggling under you but I was able to maintain speed with traffic.

In fact, the motorcycle felt so much better on this surface that I turned around and did it again! Before I would have been looking for an exit street to smoother pavements, now it will not dictate my route!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum

I had good memories of the stop I made enroute to the National BMW Owners Rally in West Bend, WI last year at the National Motorcycle Museum. At the time I remember thinking to myself that the title seemed a bit pretentious for something stuck out in the middle of Iowa. LINK to posting.

That had been my first and only motorcycle-specific museum and it had a wealth of motorcycles of times past, including a bunch of beemers. I was hoping the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum would have a copy of the R90S airhead so I could closely examine how the S fairing is mounted to see if I could do it. Lets just say the National Museum had a greater selection of brands and number of motorcycles.

I left the house shortly after 0900 hrs and 65 miles and about an hour later I was at the Museum which is located off the Nevada Street exit off the I-25 superslab in Colorado Springs. The place was tiny! The Pikes Peak Harley-Davidson dealer and the museum share the same parking lot so use it as a landmark.

The place runs by the efforts of unpaid volunteers and donations. It's really a small building where motorcycles of such brands as Vincent, Excelsior, Indian, Yamaha, Honda are crammed in with a majority of old Harley Davidson Motorcycles. The only beemer I found in the place was this one, a cruiser:

A R1200C Beemer, the only one in the joint, and it was a model

The museum is small so getting good camera angles was difficult at best, most of the motorcycles are behind glass panels which precluded flash for the most part. So a lot of my pictures turned out too blurry to use due to my body moving while pressing the shutter in most cases. Alot had reflections from the light coming in off the parking lot, so conditions weren't great for camera work.

So I apologize for the quality of the pictures, the ones below are the ones that came out best under the above limiting conditions.

Interesting how the HD logo has changed over the years

While small and cramped, its a worthwhile visit if you're a Harley-Davidson fan, the place is crawling with them. There's photographs on the walls of famed riders apparently but since I am not a motorcycle racing fan, it did not register on my personal interest level.

Did I mention the museum is small? Still, a great effort by volunteers given the constraint of resources they work under.

Going out of the museum, what had been a warm morning had turned into a hot morning. It was in the high 80s to mid 90s the rest of the time I was out riding. I watered up and took the I-25 Superslab to the CO105 exit at Monument. I took CO105 all the way to Wolfenberger Rd which led me to Castle Rock and Founder's Parkway. From there it was a short hop to Crowfoot Parkway, the town of Parker and then since it was so sweltering hot I used the E-470 Superslab to get me home quicker.

Almost 135 sweltering miles under the fierce Colorado sun, I need to start remembering to take my camelback full of ice water from now on. I probably should have found a place to stop and soak my cooling vest but I just wanted to get home.