Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Vicissitudes of Life as a Uralista

Vicissitude: a difficulty or hardship attendant on a way of life, a career, or a course of action and usually beyond one's control. 

Big word, and it touches upon a facet of life of a motorcyclist, with special emphasis on that rare breed of rider who hold in contempt and glee the riding conditions which cause others to remain at home. That breed of rider who eschews computerized controls/sensors on their motorcycle and instead embrace the KISS principle when it comes to their ride. Keep It Simple, Stupid. 

So, where am I going with all this you ask? Part of the Vicissitude of life as a dedicated Uralista is that you accept you must deal with mechanical issues on what seems to be a more frequent basis that riders of other marques.

 Take for example, yours truly. On the return portion of my ride this past Sunday, where I and fellow Uralisti had ridden into the snow-capped mountains and roads of Berthoud Pass on purpose and with impunity; my rig Valencia had developed some idling issues!

 She wouldn't hold idle at stops, rather troubling,  and I had to make like your stereotypical Harley riders and constantly blip the throttle while stopped to keep the engine alive. Still, she got me home and after a brief examination I thought I found the issue.

 I'd somehow knocked loosed the air tube going into the left carburetor, probably while "hanging a cheek" on the tight right hand turns.  Turns which were done with elan I might add, as we rode on Bear Creek Canyon Road. As I placed my body weight to starboard by "hanging my right cheek", I must have repeatedly hit the tube with my left foot causing it to dislodge after a bit. I found it loose, and just barely contacting the opening for the carburetor. No trouble, I reconnected the tube and re-tightened the hose clamp and called it a day.

The motorcycling gods were not done with me yet though, sports fans.

The next day, it was lightly snowing so I rode out to do a "test drive" to ensure my repairs from the night before were all that was needed. Valencia seemed to run fine but still a bit loud and there was some hesitation when rolling on the throttle from a stop. Hmmmm.

I parked her in a safe spot, and with the winds howling and the snow blowing horizontally from the north, I checked things out.  (OK, it was just light snow, no winds to speak of and the roads were just wet)

The idle was low but steady, at 660 RPM, too low as the manual calls for 900 RPM. Puzzled, I slowly adjusted both carburetor idle screws till things were steady at 900 RPM and drove her home. She still didn't feel quite right.

A brief email exchange with a couple of fellow Uralisti later, it was suggested to check my carburetor compliance fittings for cracks. I knew of this common issue but had not done this check before emailing thinking that my motorcycle was only two years old! Alas, I should have checked.

 The left side carburetor's compliance fitting had a big old crack! The function of the compliance fitting is to ensure a smooth seal between the leading edge of the carburetor and the engine's jug. Compliance Fitting, funny name isn't it? Makes me think of some Russian Commissar, inflicting his will upon poor soviet troops to comply with the dictates of the party.

 Compliance fitting with rather large horizontal crack

Well no wonder her idle was all over the place huh?  I carry a spare compliance fitting, as an experienced Uralista tends to do, so in a couple of minutes I had it swapped out and tightened done.  The right hand side carburetor's compliance fitting was fine.

Today, during lunch, went out again for a test ride though the weather was clear and sunny with temperatures soaring into the low 40s.  Not quite the challenges of yesterday.  Valencia rode as great as ever, good throttle response from a stop, good power, good sound.  The motorcycling gods were once again smiling upon me.

Once again a happy Uralista, I've ordered another replacement fitting to carry as spare for when the right side fitting fails me and am exploring the option of upgraded fittings made by Mikumi.  Also found out, Ural now puts thin gaskets between the fitting and the jug, to deflect some of the heat from the jug and hopefully extend the life of the rubber fitting; some of those are now on order as well.

Vicissitude, compliance fittings, eschew and elan....you can count on this blog for ways to expand/enrich your vocabulary!

8MAR13: update: ended up buying two Mikuni compliance fittings, better quality than the KOK Taiwanese ones that URAL is using.  Found the old right side carb fitting cracked on the inside, so its failure was just a matter of time.  For some reason, my rig didn't come from the factory with gaskets to help insulate them from the heat of the jug!  Got some, now they're there with the Mikunis.

Previously: Book Review: France in America


Unknown said...


I've never seen a ripped compliance fitting before. You learn something new every day. Lucky that you had a replacement.

I'm not good with tinkering but I think you get satisfaction with fiddling around and doing your own repairs.

Riding the Wet Coast

FATTKAW said...

Something about rubber manufacturing in the last ten years has changed. It all seems to dry-rot a few years down the road. The KLR had the turn signals falling off nine months after I bought it and all the KLR forums were loaded with the same issues. We all reported the issue to safercar and got a recall out of it after the dealers said it was customer damage.

Gary France said...

I learned a new word today: Vicissitude. I will try to use it in the coming days, but that will be a challenge I may not be able to conquer.

I also learned what I guess to be a technical term used when riding a motorcycle with a sidecar, although it may well apply to other forms of bike as well: “hanging a cheek.” I can somewhat reluctantly picture this Dom, but then my mind turns to women doing it and the vision turns more tolerable. The theme continued when I read about the “big old crack” and I was done for.

I am glad you fixed the bike relatively easily – a feat that has us non Ural-owning mortals admiring from the waiting area in our dealers premises, while they fix our problems.

redlegsrides said...

Bobskoot...I do get satisfaction working on the Ural, an easy diagnosis like this was a plus. Thanks for the visit.

Jon R: In this particular case, I am blaming the lack of gaskets that should have been there. Still, I'm with you re the seeming decline of rubber products.

Gary, thanks and sorry for the temporary image I caused in your mind....though the phrase itself does describe the proper "posture" for a sidecarist in the midst of a tight right hand curve! How did your book signing go?