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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Plate Light Extension

North American versions of the 1200 require a set of side reflectors on the mudflap. To meet the requirements, the designers threw together a bit of kludge.... The license plate is bolted to an angled "riser" bracket that holds the reflectors. It sticks out an extra couple of centimetres, rendering the original license plate light useless... so they stuffed in a 6cm or so plastic extension to hold the license plate light out further. I never liked it. It looks goofy and it wobbled and bounced around due to its hasty design. Not a really big deal, but easy to fix.

I took it all apart the other day and put it back together minus the extra junk. It looks just like the Euro version now... much cleaner.

I didn't bother with a "before" shot... the main pic on my title screen shows the original configuration.

Here's what it looks like now:

Here's all the crap that came off:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

She's growing legs

My most recent fuel-up gave me 5.8L/100Km or just over 40MPG US. I filled up with 249km on the trip odometer and the tank accepted 14.55L of fuel. That means I still had 4L reserve and could have easily passed 300Kms.

That's not riding it slow either.

On Sunday Jessica and I participated in the "Motorcycle Awareness Ride". Without saying much about the ride (there isn't much to talk about TBH) I will say that we did 110Kms 2-up at a very relaxed cruise well within the speed limits... We started with a full tank and the first bar (of 7) on the digital fuel gauge didn't go off until over 100Kms. Usually it takes about 60. The soft power delivery of the VFR below 5500RPM makes for nice smooth 2-up riding.

As an aside, I'm hoping DynoJet or Bazzaz come up with a throttle mapping device for the VFR so I could tune it to deliver full power all the time. I'd still want to use the stock map for riding in the inner city or with a passenger so a switch to change maps would be cool.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


There is a recall in the UK and Spain for the VFR1200F. Apparently aluminum debris can clog up the oil galleries. Affected bikes will have a new engine installed. Apparently it only affects a specific batch... I suspect it may be focused on very early production units. A couple of the first people to post about buying the new VFR on the enthusiast sites are saying they have been instructed to bring their bikes in for inspection.

I called Rocky Honda Powerhouse this morning and the service manager had heard nothing of it. Hopefully mine isn't affected. I might just change the oil again as a precaution.

Here's what I've seen:

Friday, June 4, 2010

My other motorcycle

I've been out a few times these last few weeks on my other Unicam-engined Honda motorcycle. I took some video of my first ride out at Mclean Creek on the CRF250X.

Nice dismount at the end to start my ride off right:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Canmore and Kananaskis

Yesterday after doing a  bit of work on the VFR I rode it about 400Kms. I took a different route than I normally take.

For a solo day-ride, I usually like to ride out to Bragg Creek, have lunch, then ride up to Elbow falls, turn around, then take highway 762 (Millarville road) and re-connect with highway 22. Depending on how much time I have, I'll either scoot back to Calgary on Highway 22X or continue down the Cowboy Trail to Turner Valley, Black Diamond, Longview, then down to Chain Lakes and across the 533 over to Nanton and up the Queen Elizabeth II highway back to Calgary. This is the exact route I took when I posted my "first impression" entry.

For yesterday's ride I decided to switch things up and ride some relatively unfamiliar local roads. I can't figure out how the hell I've let these roads become unfamiliar to me in my 10 years in Calgary.... they make for a perfect motorcycle ride.

From Cochrane I went west on Highway 1A, aka Bow Valley Trail, aka hwy 40. After passing the Ghost reservoir and entering the Stoney First Nation, the road narrows and the pavement quality degrades drastically. The next 30Kms are a bucking rodeo ride of tight, blind curves and hills with a rough surface, zero shoulder and an unforgiving deep ditch. Around any given blind corner you might happen upon deer, horses, cows or bighorn sheep. There are motorcycle wrecks here every weekend in the riding season. The trick is to ride defensive and alert but still have some fun... easy trick on the VFR1200. This is where the finely tuned (though a bit harsh) suspension, accurate steering and powerful brakes of the Honda come in handy. As you exit Indian land and approach Kananaskis the width and pavement quality of the road improve and you can increase your speed on the long sweeping curves that bring you to the foot of the Rockies at Exshaw, with its out-of-place-looking limestone and cement plants. The Bow Valley Trail then continues to sweep smoothly and gracefully into the beautiful town of Canmore. I made my way to the town centre and stopped at CommuniTea Cafe for a delicious home-made apple pastry and macchiato. This chic little coffee shop stands in stark contrast to my usual lunch stop at the Powderhorn Saloon in Bragg. Frequented by students and beatniks and French ski bum hippies instead of bikers and cowboys and drunks. Still good, but in a different way. Charming little joint... I'll definitely return.

Leaving Canmore I fueled up and headed East on the Trans-Canada highway back towards Calgary. I took a detour to the south down the Kananaskis Trail. (hwy 40) This road takes a long loop through the mountains, approaching the BC border before turning back to Longview where it re-connects with the Cowboy Trail. The entire loop doesn't open until June 15th... The forestry service keeps it closed to allow animal migration and mating to go uninterrupted. Big-Horn sheep are a protected species and flourish in this area. The road is open year-round as far as the Lougheed Provincial Park boundary where the Kananaskis Trail meets the Smith-Dorien Trail about 55Kms in from the TransCanada. I rode to the boundary and back, stopping briefly to admire a small herd of Bighorns. Regrettably I didn't bring a camera, but I got as close as I felt comfortable (about 50 metres) to the sheep and snapped a quick image with my blackberry.

Right after I took this shot one of the big males approached me. He looked scruffy with his winter coat falling off and as he got closer he looked about the size of a horse. I hastily put away my phone, pulled my gloves on as quick as possible and got the hell out of there. I don't think he appreciated me or my strange red motorcycle. I think it's rutting season and I wasn't up for butting heads with the big fella. The condition of this road is excellent, and its long sweeping curves encouraged big handfuls of digital V4 throttle and thrust. Just keep your head up and scan the ditches... this is wild mountain land where bighorns, deer and grizzly bears have the right-of-way.

I reconnected with the Trans-Canada and headed home. Once the Kananaskis Trail opens up I'll start doing the full loop down to Longview, where I can head north back towards Bragg Creek or south and east to Nanton. Maybe I'll go straight west out of Canmore and give the Smith-Dorien Trail (Spray Lakes road) a try as well. What a perfect day-ride.... I've often complained that there aren't enough interesting roads to ride on this side of BC. How ignorant I must have been. Only an hour west of Calgary there is a great selection of beautiful destination highways to explore... and I've got the perfect motorcycle with which to explore them.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Final Drive Service

Honda doesn't recommend a final drive service until 24000 miles but I've decided to go ahead and do it anyway with 1200ish Kms on the meter.

Why, you ask?

Well... number one, it's easy, cheap and quick. Number two, the factory fill of gear oil is sure to pick up some swarf and metallic debris from brand new gears mashing together and I thought it prudent to get that dirty crap out of there. Thirdly, I enjoy working on my motorcycles and I don't believe in such a thing as "too much maintenance"

1. Remove the final drive cowl. 3 little Allen screws hold it in place.

2. Remove the drain bolt and drain the old oil out. Roll the bike back and forth a few times to squeeze any residual oil out from the gears. This is where I'd like to have the centre-stand so I could just spin the back wheel. Due to the design of the final drive, it is impossible to use any type of race stand to support the rear end with the wheel off the ground. This is an advantage of the "hollow" final drives on the shafty BMW bikes.... they can be lifted with a special stand. When the old oil first started draining it was quite clean-looking, but as it finished draining it started to look black and metallic.

3. I removed the filler cap and ran a little bit of clean oil (full synthetic Motul 75/90 gear oil) through with the drain plug still off to "flush" any more residual gunk.

4. Reinstall and torque the drain plug (12NM) fill it up with new oil and install the filler cap. (8NM) Re-install the cowl and... voila. Piece of cake. It only takes about 200mLs of fluid so the 20 dollar bottle of top-quality synthetic oil will give me another 4 changes.