Some Motorcycle maintenance

The clutch on the Honda XR125 has been a bit hard to use lately, so I had a look at the clutch cable and found…

Some broken strands in the cable. these will slowly unwind themselves, and make it harder to use the clutch.

Plan A
no problem I thought, just buy another cable off Trade me (similar to Ebay), fit the new one and all good.

Except that the new one has a longer inner cable and I can’t get it to work..

Plan B
Buy an original cable through a Honda dealer. I contacted a dealer down country, and the new one arrived on my doorstep 2 days later.

To change the cable is a fairly simple task.
loosen off the adjusters at each end, so the cable is real loose,
Pull the cable out of the clutch lever, then pull it right out of the bike, taking note of where it ran through the frame, etc.

it’s sometimes worth looking at the manual to see how the cable was run originally.

The old one was installed incorrectly, and used to catch on the steering lock.

It should be adjusted as below according to the manual

It’s normal for the cable to stretch a bit in the first few weeks, but it’s only a five minute job to readjust it.

happy riding!

An update for May

We took the girls off road motorcycling on a wet weekend to get them used to riding around in slippery conditions, I rode the trusty Honda, while they rode a pair of proper off road bikes. The Honda’s dual sport tyres weren’t up to it, which meant riding rather slowly to keep it going in the right direction and then paddling my way up the hills with my feet.

This set up the situation where the kids took great delight in passing me as often as they could. I didn’t mind this, as it inspired the kids to push themselves and ride faster, and out of their comfort zones.

It then became a competition of who had done the most laps, so I just kept going and going, in a turtle vs hare type of race.

In the end, my youngest managed 32 laps of a 1.2 km track, before she called it quits for the day.

Come Sunday night, Dad’s got a very dirty bike and boots, etc, to clean, and dry out

My regular skateboarding sessions have now gone on hold with the somewhat regular rain we are having, because skateboarding in water can ruin a good board (they can warp).

This leaves me with work, work, work, which is going well at the moment.

The kids are now back at their after school activities, but are still attending an online school as they are now quite settled there.

On the C front..

The mandates are mostly gone, but the battles continue..

Steve Oliver owns a gym that refused to discriminate against the unvaxxed and was taken to court by Worksafe over the covid laws. The court case is still going, even though the covid narrative has collapsed.

Steve is one of those Christian characters who contributes so much for the community as described in the video link below.

On another front…   The Government has abandoned it’s appeal to challenge the previous ruling that mandates were unlawful for the Police and military. This hasn’t been reported in the MSM as yet.

Restarting life, Lessons for the kids on motorcycles

It’s been about a month since the mandates ended, and we are headed towards winter, which is why I’m trying to get as many things done with the kids while the weather is still good.

It’s normally raining in April, so it’s a bit of a miracle that the local off road tracks are still dry and mud free.

It was my youngest daughter’s second day on a motorcycle, and she spent the day going round the learners track. She did 35 laps in total, before she called it a day. She was riding very consistently all day and is starting to get confident with changing gears.

My oldest didn’t do so well.. We had brought the Honda XR125 along for her to use, which she did, until coming to grief at the start of the B track (a cross country track 6km long (3.75 miles)).

Some other riders helped her out, and got her going again and she rode the rest of the track without a working front brake.

She got a few bruises from the accident (mostly to her pride), which put her out of action for the rest of the day.

The bike itself was OK once I straightened the front forks and unbent everything that was bent… It was still missing a working front brake though, but this isn’t a big problem when riding off road.

Our Honda XR, the other bike is one we hired for our youngest to ride for the day

It turns out I’m 3 minutes slower around the B track on the Honda compared to our Suzuki. This makes sense because the Honda XR125L is a farm bike, and the Suzuki DR350 is a 22 yr old 350cc Enduro weapon. Interestingly, both bikes weigh almost exactly the same. (129kg vs 130kg)

In the end it was a good day and we accomplished quite a lot, tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and the easter bunny (my wife will be leaving easter eggs all over the house tonight..

A Fun day out motorcycling with the kids


It’s been a long 18 months since we have been able to get to this off road track, so we were back with a vengeance in the weekend.

It was my youngest daughter’s first time here, so we organised a hire bike and some lessons from a tutor on site.

roadcones can be awkward…

She then spent the day on the learners track.
Like her older sibling was, she’s reluctant to use the throttle and initially took over 6 minutes to do one lap around the 1.5 km (0.9 mile) track. That time steadily decreased to about 3 ½ minutes, as she got more confidence during the day.


Meanwhile, my oldest daughter and I went off to try out the ‘B track’ this is a cross country track which is about 8 km (5 mile) long.

She usually leaves me for dead on this track, especially if it’s been raining. She has a natural talent for riding a bike when it’s sliding all over the place.
However, it’s been a while since we have been here and she’s naturally very cautious, which meant a slow start.
That all changed when I over took her, and then she kept up despite my best efforts to get away.
The lack of decent rain around here was a blessing for me, because my front tyre slides around very easily in mud, while the back wheel stays firm. To get around this, I just slowed right down for the occasional puddle.

I spent a bit of time on the B track, and quickly got close to my best time. I can’t go much quicker though, without changing that front tyre to something more suited to off road riding.

That front tyre is good on the road, but not so good off road. It’s designed for 50% road, 50% off road use.

The back tyre is for 10% road, 90% off road. (It’s one of those compromises you get when the bike is used on the road as well as off road).


All in all, it was a good day, and the kids enjoyed themselves.

Review of a Honda XR125L

We brought this bike for the kids to ride around, because it got too hard in 2021 to go to an offroad track and simply hire a bike for the day, like we used to.

This bike works well as a bike for kids to learn to ride on, and has the advantage of been road legal as well.

One of the mods I’ve done, was to lower the seat height by cutting some of the foam out the seat with a bread knife.

This is basically designed to be a farm bike. It doesn’t work very well as an off road bike though. It has very basic suspension, and rather spindly looking forks. It’s far heavier than it should be at 129Kg, which makes it feel heavy, sluggish and a lot less capable than it could be. On steep hills, you really have to rev it a lot, to keep the momentum going.

As a road bike it is a pleasure to ride, and the motor is an absolute jewel. With the right gearing, it’s possible to get 100km/hr. It is easy enough to start and kids love that electric start. It works OK as a commuter and it does about 36Km/ltr or 100 MPG on fuel.

It doesn’t have an oil filter, and it only has 0.9 ltr of oil in the sump. This means you need to change the oil regularly, for a long life out of the motor

Replacing the KTM’s fork seals

I’ve had the KTM RC390 from almost new, and it’s been an outstanding bike even if it has a few quirks…

The fork seals started leaking about 1000km ago (800 miles), so I replaced them with whatever I could get in the middle of a lockdown. This meant getting some cheap ones online, sight unseen.

Those pesky cheap seals and the original dust covers

It was only when I pulled the bike apart to replace them that I found that the replacement dust seals were the wrong size! This meant reusing the old dust seals again.

I used 425mls of oil (7W) in each fork, instead of the standard 450ml (4W). Less oil gives it less compression damping, and a thicker oil gives more rebound damping.

This improved the handling quite a lot, and made the front end feel really planted.

Alas, those cheap seals didn’t last long, and one of them let go while cranked over in a corner, which means I’ve had to replace them again.

I was intending to sit on this job, and leave it for, if and when I end up self-isolating for Omicron (yes I know that is insane, but I live in NZ, and they took the blue pill).

However, circumstances have changed, and I need the bike available for travelling to Wellington.

(Luckily I already had some replacement SKF brand seals, which I had brought between the lockdowns.)

It took me @ 5 hours hours to take all the fairings off, jack up the bike, remove the front wheel, and remove the forks to get to the seals, and then put it all back together again.

So it’s all back together again for the next adventure…

An update on the Suzuki DR350

It’s winter over here in New Zealand, so the bikes been mostly parked up and given the occassional run to keep it ticking over. I thought it was all good for next season but then a few things happened….

The fork seals gave up, so I replaced those along with the fork oil.

The stator wiring burnt out, it took me several days to find the problem and resolder all the connections.

The bike failed a warrent of fitness (safety inspection) which meant replacing the steering head bearings (and pulling the front end apart again)

The good news is that I’ve  now built up a spare rear wheel with a road tyre and road gearing. This means I can use this bike for other uses besides following my daughter around an offroad track in the summer time.

Review of a DR350W (1998)

This bike was a replacement for a Yamaha SR400, as we needed a bike that could go off road. It is a 1998 model as the Yamaha was, but it gets ridden, rather than cherished.
It was a bit of a mission finding an off-road bike that was also registered for the road,  and had pillion pegs and a large enough fuel tank so I can ride all day.


This bike met all those requirements, but it was in a bit of a state when when I got it, and needed wheel bearings, brake disc’s / pads and lots of TLC in general.
A perceived lack of compression was a concern until I discovered it has an automatic decompressor as well as a lever on the handlebars for a manual one as well.

We use the bike to ferry a passenger to an off-road park, then we hire just one bike bike for the day (instead of two), remove the mirrors, and away we go. it works surprisingly well off-road, because it’s still quite light at @ 130kg.

It has a wide range 6 speed gearbox, which means it’s possible to run gearing which works both on and off road. The bike does 50/50 road/off-road use, and I’m using a 14/44 tooth arrangement, which gives it a cruising speed of @ 80-90kmhr on the road.

The back tyre is a Dunlop D606 which works very well.

The front tyre is a Mitas E07 which is Ok until you find some mud. It just slides everywhere as if I’m riding on glass. I’ll be using a matched set of tyres next season.

long term Review of a KTM RC390

I’ve had this bike for several years now and it’s either getting better as it gets older, or I’m just getting used to it.

Much like Ducati’s in the old days, KTM have gained a reputation for unreliability, but what are flaws to some, others just call it ‘character’.

I’ve found the bike to be reliable & predictable once you work out what it doesn’t like.

The first thing it objects to, is been ridden when it’s dead cold.
If you do this, it will cut out on you on a downshift at an intersection and then it will be hard to start.
If it also hasn’t been used for a while, the battery will struggle to turn it over, which will result in an error message on the LCD display and then it loses its memory, which means you have to reset the time.

The solution to this is start the bike, then put your helmet & gloves on to give it time to warm up.

The second thing it hates is commuting in traffic.
It’s hard to ride it smoothly as it doesn’t run well at low RPM with a light throttle. It’s also hard on your wrists leaning forward all the time and then just to make your day the radiator fan blows hot air at you, if your going too slow.

The solution is just don’t get caught in traffic…

The Third thing it hates is sitting around for too long. If it sits idle for more than a few weeks it’s going to behave as it does when it’s dead cold (as written above)

The solution is to ride it more often….

The things it does like..

Corners

This bike handles very well once setup.
The back suspension is on a middle setting. If it’s too soft, it wallows on fast corners, If its too hard, it bounces you out of the saddle.
It’s light on tyres as you would expect. the front lasted 15,000k, and I changed the back at 10,000k as it developed a square profile which affected the bikes handling.

Touring..

It actually tours quite nicely, it can do around 250 k’s on a tank (300k in thoery, I’m just not game to try it).
The seat gets to you eventually, but a coffee stop fixes this. I usually just bungee tie a small backpack onto the rear seat/ducktail for luggage.

Modifications..


The only bits I have done is put wing mirrors on, to get rid of the original mirrors that just give you a good view of your shoulders
(This meant moving the indicators onto the fairings)
I fitted Aftermarket brake pads for better stopping power and the motor is now running ice coolant to get it to run cooler.