Stuff that broke
Hello and welcome to my spiff web page. Here you'll find information on riding motorcycles in the winter.
It's not just about motorcycles, just whatever happens to be on my mind when I feel like working on it.
That is all.
I GOT A JOB! Yep, that's right, I'm totally employed. No more scraping by just to make the house payment... and I can buy more bikes!
Changing the GS oil to 5W30 helped fix the leak. Now it only leaks a few drops per day. The 15 tooth sprocket stopped the clutch slipping problem so I can hold off on that stuff until it warms up- good news. The only maintenance issue now is replacing my front brake pads and bleeding both systems. Lately my front brakes have been failing at inopportune times- it's like the ABS is engaging for no reason. It might have something to do with studding every knob on the front this year, but I'm going to try everything else before switching tires.
I studded and mounted my tires on Halloween. This year I'm trying them with every knob studded in the hopes that they'll last longer. It's definitely more skittish on the dry pavement, though. The rear tire breaks loose when downshifting and sometimes when accelerating out of a corner. It's not too bad, just something I have to get used to. It's supposed to snow today so hopefully I'll get a chance to try them out in the white stuff.
Yep, I'm still unemployed and lazier than ever. No updates since August- I rule! Quick rundown of current bike info:
The warranty ran out on my GS on August 18th. Since then my clutch has started slipping, the switch for the ABS broke, and there's an oil leak from under the clutch cover. Without the funds to fix the clutch and gasket, I'll change back down to a 15 tooth from the 17, add 5W30 oil, and check the level often. Thicker oil would leak less but thinner oil keeps the clutch from slipping. The ABS switch only disables the ABS so it's not a critical thing until next spring- I prefer using ABS in the snow.
I took the Monkey to the dirt track and learned how to jump. In unrelated news, the fork seals blew on the Monkey. Seals and caps ran $30. Memo to me: when you get a job, buy a real dirtbike. On the same trip to the track I slipped in some very slimy mud on the GS and ended up trapped under the bike while my left calf cooked itself on the header. Picture to follow in the 'Broken Stuff' section. Time to heal was 4 weeks and now I have one of those cool 'lesson' scars. Memo addendum: buy dirt pants and stop wearing cut-off jeans to the track. Better yet, stop going to the track without medical insurance.
I still haven't sold my truck. I've decided to rebuild the engine. A friend gave me an engine stand and another friend is loaning me a hoist. I've asked for my Christmas and birthday presents in cash to fund the project. After that, it's time to resurrect the Goldwing. By the time both projects are complete I plan to be employed as a Walmart greeter after retiring from my job as a school bus driver, which I started after an unsuccessful year of trying to get another tech job. I'll also be flying to work in my suitcase-car.
A few weeks ago I went camping in southern Colorado. We ended up taking Medano pass from the Sand Dunes National Monument to Walsenburg.
The GS did great considering there were 9 stream crossings and 4 miles of soft sand. The Dunlop D604s held up very well and
I made it through without crashing. I consider that a victory.
I'm still in the process of looking for a job and now I'm starting to get serious about it. I've been working corners at MRA races for a little extra cash and it's pretty fun.
For info on cornerworking or racing... or watching, go here: www.mra-racing.org
I got laid off last Friday with no severance. The good news is that I'll have time to ride more. The bad news is that I'm all out of gas money. I guess that's how it goes.
I updated the pictures page a little and I'm working on a few other things since I have a little extra time on my hands now.
Email me for my resume if you know of any available tech jobs- I've worked in a transport NOC for 2 years and I'm qualified to do anything from installing to provisioning to high level troubleshooting. I can also do basic IT and server stuff but it's not as fun.
I've been neglecting my site so here's the recent rundown:
I picked up the XT350 a couple months ago and put about a thousand miles on it, between commuting on it and loaning it to my friend Chaos after his SV650 started falling apart.
I added Hella lights to my F650GS and they worked great until I tried to run them with my heated grips on my way to Salt Lake City for the Utah 1088. So there I was in the middle of Nevada with no moon and no aux lighting... but now I'm here so I guess it worked out ok. (FWIW- it's not the fuse)
I also finished the Utah 1088 in 36th place. I rode 1400 miles in 25 hours... on the smallest bike there. Next year I'll do better, I was just taking it easy getting used to the format this year. I have a few pictures of various things but there isn't much time for snapping digipics during an endurance rally.
My garden is in full swing. Anyone need zucchini? I'll post pictures of the madness when I get a chance- I ended up tilling half of my backyard.
On Friday night it snowed 7 inches. Seriously, can I get an order of normal weather, for here, please? Saturday morning the cold air streamed through the door gaps and past the tomato and pepper plants I bought in the hopes that the weather would be a bit more… spring-like. I lucked out and only lost one branch- a small one on my “whilac” cracked but the big tree out front came through like a champ. I figure that 50% of my neighbors lost big limbs. The chainsaws were out in force on Mothers Day. We took my mom to the Denver Botanic Gardens. It was somewhat depressing with all the crushed flowers and broken trees but the tropical garden the have under the big greenhouse was incredible. I never thought I’d see a banana tree –complete with bananas- in Colorado. We found a kids-only area with a big wooden xylophone and I worked out the first part of “Innagaddadavida” after which, mom and I were head banging through the tulips.
I crashed my bike on Tuesday morning, off-roading after a particularly bad day at work. I tried to hop a branch someone had dumped but I lacked clearance and I went down on the right side when my centerstand caught and held. I broke 3 turn signals (go figure), my right mirror mount, and bent my right hand guard. Not too bad. I bought most of the parts about 10 minutes later. I’m expecting to get my XT350 shortly and I plan on going after the branch again. This time, it’s personal.
On Tuesday afternoon I started tilling the garden. My estimate is 25’x8’ and I went about 8 inches deep with the tiller and added 3 yards of compost. Not bad for my first veggie garden, but I’m still tempted to go a little bigger: you can never have too many pumpkins, right? I planted a couple rows of lettuce and spinach and waited impatiently for them to sprout. I must have stood there for 30 minutes before I lost focus and wandered into the garage.
Yesterday I rented a pickup and hauled 3 loads of compost
from the local nursery to my house and unloaded it one four-cubic-foot
wheelbarrow load at a time. This is important because I tried to buy a
6cuft wheelbarrow from the Home Despot and tried to save a little money
buying the kit instead of the pre-assembled version that was on display
in front of the store. After all, I’m pretty mechanically aware, right?
It turns out I might be good with my hands, but not as much with my eyes.
I got the wrong parts… twice. The first time I had the parts nearly put
together when I realized that they wouldn’t fit the large bucket I got.
At that point, I could have either taken the parts apart and returned them,
or exchange the big barrow for whatever barrow fit the parts. I decided to
save time and do the barrow-swap. I brought an angled part to the store with
me and it only fit the smaller bucket. I broke down and got the little one
to avoid another trip home and back. When we (my mom and I) tried to put the
new one together we discovered that we had the wrong handles. Mom got fed
up and drilled new holes in the handles- problem solved. I like to call it
“Frankenbarrow” since it doesn’t seem as functional as it should be. If ya
gotta get one, get one that’s already assembled and fork over the extra tenner.
I also sawed up my giant upside-down juniper tree that I chopped down before
I broke my leg. The stupid thing was infested with bird nests made from cellophane
cigarette wrappers, birthday ribbon, and bits of plastic webbing. It was shaped
like a giant mushroom and was taller than my roof. It had been sitting in the
middle of my yard trunk side up since I bought my house. I figure the whole thing
weighed at least 300 pounds since I had to run a tow strap around my shoulders
and get all agro to move the stupid thing across the yard. Anyway, it didn’t go easy:
one borrowed chainsaw left the fight early and is awaiting repair in my garage. I
called in a closer after a stretch and knocked out a quick win. We also tried to
install a new sliding door in the back but ran out of time on Sunday. The new door
is in the hole, but it still needs some finishing work. 1/2“ gaps in my kitchen door
notwithstanding, we were able to remove the 2 sets of single-pane aluminum slider
that had occupied the space. The result of all this work was a massive pile of junk
in my backyard on a Sunday, you know, when the dump is closed.
Not much has happened lately. I was just in Atlanta for five days or so and had the motorcycle shakes bad by the time I got back. I haven’t really gone anywhere since I returned- I’ve noticed that I don’t really do any “fun” riding. I’m pretty much happy with the fix I get riding to work and wherever necessity takes me.
I’m in the process of buying a new bike. It’s a 1995 Yamaha XT350: blue plastic on a purple frame. Not that I’m overly picky about color, but the first time I take it all apart, I’m totally painting the frame another color. I figure I’ll rig hotgrips and guards on it and use it for the snow next year since the clearance is so much better than on the GS… by about 5 inches. I also think it’ll be the bike I mount the bicycle rack on since the 650 isn’t really suited for it.
I finally got new tires last Tuesday at Grand Prix. They installed a fresh set of Dunlop D604s for $192ish for everything. I ordered new tubes but they weren’t on the parts list and didn’t get installed. That night when I was headed to work my front tire was completely flat. I shot a bottle of True Goo in the tube, pumped it up, and drove away. The goo worked well but I figured I probably ought to replace the tube since it was brand new. I called Grand Prix and they said that they would replace it for free on the condition that I pay for the tube. It was a good deal. Lesson learned: always put in new tubes when changing your tires.
I developed a system for removing my wheels. It saves sixty bucks to do it myself so I figure it’s worth dirty hands. I’ll post a procedure shortly… within the next six months or so… when I have time. It involves a short piece of 2X4 with a notch cut in it. The mechanics gave me props for leaving a wheel-less bike in their lot while they changed the tires. I was thinking about using cinder blocks as a joke but they’re too heavy…
It figures that I would have to ride in the snow after I removed my studdies. I tried to get up to Clearview Windshields in Bailey on Highway 285 but I was stopped by snow. It wasn’t accumulating until Aspen Park (where the big hot dog is- good shakes) but by then it was really coming down. I almost lost the bike slowing down from 55 to exit. I’d never go 55 without studs on snow but it went from bare and wet to 1” of wet snow almost immediately. I got back to the low country in one piece but there was snow all the way down and it was sticking to my face shield bad enough that I had to keep the squeegee finger going in the corners or I would have lost all visibility. Good thing I wore my defrost helmet or I would have been in trouble. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being my studded Kendas and 1 being a set of Bridgestone Trailwings, I’d rate the D604s a solid 6. I was able to maintain a speed of 40MPH with no slipping in fast, sweeping curves. Someone I spoke to on Friday suggested that the snow was my fault since it was bound to snow immediately after I changed rubber. I pretty much agree with that but I was willing to risk it since riding on bald knobbies until June didn’t appeal to me.
I waterproofed all of my gear this weekend with some wash-in stuff I got at REI. It went pretty well except that it turned my snow bibs a streaky black and white. I look funny enough riding in the snow without wearing cookies-and-cream pants. Ah, vanity rears its ugly head. I also learned not to waterproof my jacket with the armor in. I rode to work today with wet elbows because the water stuck in or behind the pads and didn’t drain out while hanging overnight.
I rode the old Bianchi around a bit last week but I flatted every time I went out. I ended up buying 2 new tires for it and bought a patch kit for the 6 dead tubes I have hanging in my garage.
Sometime last year I must have taken the freaking red pill. Seriously. I bought a house, I broke my leg, I purchased a
bike on its ability to handle in snow, I survived about fifteen layoffs, studded my tires, survived riding in a blizzard,
and now my mom moved into my house. I'm having a bigtime WTF moment. She moved back from Seattle and is in the process of
buying a house so I can finally ask questions like "Mom, when are you going to get a job?", "Mom, I can't wait until you
move out of my house!", and, my personal favorite, "Mom, as long as you're living under my roof and not paying rent, you're
doing the dishes!" Classic.
The blizzard killed my tires... or I killed my tires in the blizzard. Pushing a porky wannabe dirtbike through three
feet of snow means spinning the rear tire... constantly. I lost close to half of my remaining tread in three days. That and
many of my studs gave up the ghost, some simply losing the carbide core, ending up like tiny metal donuts, and some flying
out of the tire as what I can imagine are tiny bits of shrapnel. I put a picture on the pictures page. It's time for 2 new tires-
so much for my grand plan of replacing one at a time.
I was terribly productive today. I installed two light bulbs above my motorcycle in the garage that give me enough
light to wrench with without having to use my BFHL (large halogen light, AKA my fancy studio lighting for digital pictures)
all the time. I also installed a new porch light that automatically turns on at night, installed a voltmeter (pictures in the usual place),
and fired up the Kawasaki 400 that a friend is storing in my garage. Unfortunately, I only made it around the block on the
poor little thing before he sputtered and died. Plenty of gas, just replaced the plugs, must be neglect. Nothing pisses off
a bike like being parked over the winter.
I'm about to give up and pay for a webhost. Hosting on Comcast is annoying at best- their uploader crashes every
The snow ride I described in my last entry was nothing. I had brought my electric visor to work and installed it before I left
for home on the morning of the 18th. I wouldn't have made it there without it. I lost count of how many times I "almost" went down.
There was a washboard layer of ice that was rutted at different depths in different places. My front tire was constantly catching
and shaking wildly. I averaged 25 MPH which was the same speed that the 4X4s were moving. All this in the worst blowing snow I'd ever
seen (until that evening).
There was 2 feet of snow on the street in front of my house when I woke up on Tuesday afternoon. I decided
to leave early for work and take enough food for 2 days or so. I should have brought a change of clothes and a toothbrush.
I had to dig a space outside of the garage door to face my bike the right way, hopped on, and used the momentum gained
riding down my driveway to reach a rut left an hour earlier by a big truck that was now stuck a few houses up the street.
I stopped by the grocery store, picked up enough food for me and the 3 people staying at my house who were stranded and
headed back home to drop it off. I ended up getting stuck in front of my house since it's impossible to turn around, got a push
up into my yard, and basically plowed back to the street. Good thing the drought had already killed the grass. The rest of the
ride to work was much nicer than the morning due to the good base of snow. It stayed under 6" until I got to work. There I
plowed through 18" of snow to get to the garage and got some help getting through a 3 foot drift and into the building.
Once there, I kicked out the other employees and hunkered down.
After 20 hours at work, one other guy made it in and we worked through the morning of the 20th. We finally got some more
people in and I dug an escape route out for my bike. I had to roll the bike through the building, out the front door, onto the path
I shoveled across the parking lot, and up a grassy bank. I was confident the path would lead me to freedom but I slipped off the packed part
and buried the front tire- my first crash since putting on the studs. After that I got a push backwards from the guys at work and ended
up doing it the hard way by heading out the parking lot exit which took about 20 minutes. Before I did, though, I went for a few top-speed
runs along the length of the parking lot. It wasn't very deep in the middle but the exits were over 3 feet deep.
I posted a bunch of pictures here (3/18) and here
(3/20) but they're not organized or thumbnailed yet.
The parade was awesome. Well, after the 3 hours we impatient riders spent waiting for our turn to go it was awesome. I don't
think anyone there didn't think about how they missed some primo riding weather to sit and roast in a parking lot on a 75 degree
Saturday in March. I ended up with a passenger for the ride. A little girl named Desiree whose dad is in the club wanted to ride
in the parade. Her feet were a few inches above the passenger pegs but she seemed pretty stable grabbing onto the "handles" on the
tail of the GS and she was in no danger of touching the pipes. When we started moving I told her that her job was to wave at everybody
we passed on the route. She started waving immediately and showed no signs of stopping. Her dad tried to explain that she should
probably wait until there were some people to wave to so she could "save" her arm for the main event but she kept right on waving
and kept going strong until we got back to the parking lot and were off the bike. Desiree and I ended up behind two riders who were
stunting for the length of the route. They were doing wheelies into stoppies every time we moved and as the crowd cheered for them,
she would wave like mad at the people cheering when we rolled by with 2 tires in full contact with the ground. I haven't had that
much fun on a bike since the last time it snowed. It was great... and I finally washed my bike- CHECK!
I took back the Widder and ate a 20% "restocking" charge that I'm still upset about. I can't remember being told about that in
a phone conversation with the ordering manager when I found out they didn't have my size in the collarless model. I knew I would have trouble
with a collared vest because my "new" Firstgear Kilimajaro has a real collar problem. I deliberately bought a jacket a size over what I needed
and it still doesn't have room for anything between the razor sharp collar and my neck. The Widder presented too many problems to
justify keeping it. It was longer than my jacket, didn't fit under my snow bibs (again the length), required me to make my own extension
cord for it, choked me with the collar flat, and didn't allow me to close my jacket all the way with the collar up. I've been getting
along fine without it so far so I won't know what I'm missing anyway.
I almost took my studs off and went to a set of Dunlop D604s before the parade since the weather was so nice. As I was leaving work
for Grand Prix to get them, I checked the weather report and saw snow in the forecast.
I knew it might snow again but figured that since it was 70F+ all week it wasn't going to be too bad. I'm glad I changed my mind. The NOAA
is predicting the worst storm in 5 years starting tonight. It's bad outside- probably the worst commute I've ever made. Humidity was at
100% and the temp was 32 with blowing snow and wet roads when I left home. That made my visor fog up almost instantly and I couldn't
wipe it clean. I tried riding with the visor open but the snow was sharp and stung my face even at low speeds. I alternated between looking
through the fog, riding with the visor half open, and riding with it full open. I hope it's better when I head home- if I even get to leave
work- Some people can't make it in when the snow gets bad and I may have to work straight through and sleep in the back room when things
My wrist brace is helping a lot. It had been feeling much better and then I took a little bicycle ride on Sunday without it
and now I guess I need another week or two with it on... ouch.
I'm probably the only person to watch the Boxer Cup and the 200 in the same "day". Refer to the time warp note.
God bless SPEED for showing it live on Monday morning. I caught some corned beef hash (warming up for St Paddy's), about 2 pots of joe,
and a nasty cigarette stink on my jacket while watching the race at Mulligan's in Parker. It's one of the few bars I know that
opens at 0630. They were awesome- I was the only one watching and the put it on the big screen AND a smaller TV for me.
Now that's the breakfast of champions... or wannabes. I sent SPEED a cheesy kudos email- my first ever.
The weather got all kinds of warm here. It's a beautiful night when I can do just jeans on the way to work. Putting on the
snowbibs before driving everywhere you go sucks.
Taking the Widder back will get me almost 2 tires.... yeah.
Went to the Erico Motorsports Daytona party this morning at
Swanky's Oysters & Libations. I can’t believe I even got out of bed that early.
Got there in time to catch most of the Boxer Cup, which was worth the wakeup. The finish was spectacular, but the best
part was when two bikes bumped cylinder heads at top speed and kept going- skills. Props to Erico for putting on a good party.
It's time to get cable TV. No bars are going to be open at 0900 to show the postponed race. Not that I'm a huge race fan
or anything, I actually just got into it. It'd just be nice to get to see the main event.
You may notice a time warp in my typing. When I say "today", it means the period of time from when I woke up to
the present. Depending on my work schedule and other variables, that can be anywhere from 1 to 36 hours.
My normal work schedule is from 2200 to 0800, 5 days a week. Yes, I'm the crazy night guy.
I've been shopping around for new driving lights. After installing driving AND fog lights, I've decided that I don't
really need both if I install my driving lights low enough to the ground. My current driving lights worked great in the snow with little glare.
Unfortunately, all of my Harbor Freight lights have gone the way of the buffalo. I attribute this to poor weatherproofing and... buying cheapo lights.
I'm looking at Hellas now since they're good quality without a packing a major wallet hit. I'm definitely going to keep the light
bar that I attached to the engine guard but I'm not sure how to get light to attach if it's the post-type. I'll explain later with pictures.
Haven't checked my Aux plug yet. I guess I keep forgetting to read my memos: Haven't sold the truck yet, either.
Current list of things to do: Sell truck, Wash bike, check Aux plug fuse, buy CB and GPS, and pick up a few tires for summer.
I picked up my Widder vest yesterday in a serious fit of sleep deprivation. I got to bed around 1430. It's way too long,
the cord doesn't reach the bike if the vest is under my bibs, they don't sell extension cords- you have to make your own,
and on top of that my aux plug doesn't seem to be working. I kind of expected the last one since my buddy had a voltmeter
to it a while back and all the sudden he lost continuity. Note to self: Check fuse. Then test vest. I don't know if I like it yet.
I got an email back from Loobman. Apparently I'm just dumb, and missed the instructions on how to make my own out
of the materials they provided. In my defense, though, I'm an ADD kid and I actually read the directions below
the directions I was looking for and the instructions are scattered over 4 pages of pictures. I didn't say it was a good excuse.
My front tire is really wearing badly. I'm not sure how long I really want to keep it on the bike. After that, I'm
not sure what tires to switch to. I have a new 50/50 rear tire in the garage which is definitely not going to work on the front.
March is a crazy month for weather in CO and it may still snow. I'm probably going to end up matching that tire to a TKC80
but I'm not sure if I want to put another set on before I go to my 100% road tires in May. !Idea! I'll buy a TKC80, throw it
on the front with my studdy still on the rear. Then I'll switch to the 50/50 in April. By the middle of May, they should
need to be changed out anyway- when the snow stops, I'm getting my travel on! (Even if nobody reads this, it helps to
write this stuff out.)
I'm planning on riding in the Denver St Paddy's day parade with the CSC.
It's a long, slow ride and apparently there's always someone who blows out a tire doing burnouts for the kids...
and/or the women. It's one of the only times you can stunt when the cops are watching. Unfortunately I'm
stunt-deficient right now. I tried a burnout once and dug up a good amount of concrete with the studs. That's probably not
going to fly with the city even if it is in a parade. If I can get on a steel plate, though, the sparks ought to be impressive.
I rented Bullit on DVD. I've never watched it before and I'm bitter for not having seen it sooner.
Best car chase ever! (Well, a tie with Ronin)
My commute this morning sucked. The precipitation of the day was: sleet. The temp was around 15F.
I can't wait to get my heated shield. I added a new section for general pictures and posted some pics from this morning.
My bike is getting pretty dirty and I lube the chain every couple of days but I don't think it's doing much.
The can says to ride the bike for a few minutes before spraying to "warm up" the chain. Somehow I don't think the chain
is any warmer at the end of my commute than the beginning.
I still haven't heard anything back from Loobman on the missing parts. I emailed them on 2.18.03 and I just
emailed them from their page again. So far I have a $26 piece of junk without the brushes that carry oil to the sprocket
and a plastic bag from the Royal Mail.
I've had the strangest stoplight conversations in the snow. Recently I was at Jerusalem (a college hangout\falafel joint)
idling on the sidewalk waiting for a friend to get out of the parking lot in her car and a big 4X4 stopped at the light
rolled down his window and asked me how I was doing. I said that I was fine, just enjoying a nice Saturday night out. He
asked if my tires gave me enough grip to ride in the snow. I said that they did but didn't mention that they
were studded. He said he thought it was "awesome" that I was on a bike. Then the light changed and he rolled away,
much to the relief of his passenger, who was shivering uncontrollably. A few nights later, on my way to work,
another truck stopped next to me. He'd missed the turn lane, but I gave him the
benefit of the doubt since it was pretty snowy. He opened his window and a cloud of pot smoke billowed out of the cab.
He said "Hey man, do you want a ride or something?" I thanked him and explained that I was getting along just fine.
When the light turned, I had to negotiate with the driver to my right to make sure I didn't get pinched by the stoner
in the "third" turn lane. What fun to be out with all the fantastic drivers of the Denver metro area!
I totally wimped out about 5 days ago and ordered a Widder electric vest. I also ordered a heated face shield
to go with my HJC-CL12 which will let me go longer distances in the snow without getting a bunch of ice blocking my vision.
In case you were paying attention, I got a new HJC to go with my Shoei, I didn't start using my broken helmet on
the bike again. I decided against heated gloves since they cost about $115 and I have really nice gloves anyway.
I'm more likely to get cheaper lobster-claw gloves for the really cold stuff since my experience last week riding
in -5F taught me that riding at freeway speeds in the really cold stuff is really a countdown to frostbite.
I found that I could make it about 5 miles above 55MPH before I completely lost all feeling in my fingers and started
to worry. I tested this a few times- mainly because I'm not very bright.
I hurt my wrist when I crashed last October. Since my leg was broken, I wasn't worried about a sore wrist.
It still hurts when I push open doors or push off of the floor to stand up, but never when I ride. I went to
the doc and got an MRI, which showed negative for anything really bad and I head in to the doc on Monday to get
fitted for a brace. I've ridden with wrist braces on before, so I know that it'll fit under my glove. Not too
excited about it, but I guess it's time to fix the problem.
I had a generally crappy week so I didn't get anything done on the site. I'll try to throw up some new stuff this week.
Life of studs: