Archive for June, 2006

Spark Plugs and Air Filter

Went ahead and changed the spark plugs and air filter on my SV today. It really didn’t take long at all, and was quite simple. I didn’t even swear once in the process – that’s nearly unheard of if I’m turning a wrench. The bike idles much smoother with the new NGK plugs. I’ll have to see how it responds w/ the BMC air filter. Sometime during the week I’ll get around to making a manometer so I can syncronize my throttle bodies, then I’m pretty much done until I get around to buying luggage for the SV.

Short little ride – at speed

Today a friend of mine from my battalion came by and we went for a ride, right after I finished up on the truck. Rain cut the ride short, but I was able to get a feel for my suspension work leaned over at speed. Parts of my tires that have never touched the pavement were scrubbed in today, the bike begs to be leaned further, and pushed harder than it ever has before – and it feels twice as stable doing it. Money well spent indeed.

So you’re thinking of bonded brake pads/shoes?

I’d have to recommend against a move that foolish – do you really want your brake’s friction material to be glued to their backing? For years I worked on cars, staying far away from bonded pads or shoes – rivets are the only way to go. The question now is why in the hell did the shop I used to work at use bonded shoes on my truck last February? Chances are, I’ll never know the answer to that question. What I do know is that I spent several hours with my truck up on jackstands replacing my drums and shoes – on blacktop, in the Georgia sun. Seeing as the truck was up in the air, I went ahead and rotated my tires while I was at it.

This is obviously worthless without pics, so I’ll inline a few photos to illustrate exactly what happened.

Brakes Gone Bad
What you see here, is what I saw immediately upon removing the drum from my axle. For those of you that do not know already – the friction material is supposed to be at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock – not 6 and 12, or rather 12 and on the floor.

Brakes Gone Bad
Again, this is what a shoe back looks like when the friction material comes unglued. Of course had the friction material been riveted in place, the chances of what you see here happening are slim to none.

Brakes Gone Bad
Friction material, on the floor – exactly where it doesn’t belong! Oh the joy.

Suspension Upgrades Complete

On Monday I drove my truck up to Traxxion Dynamics and picked my 2005 Suzuki SV650S up, complete with brand new suspension. The folks over at Traxxion put my chain and sprockets on for me as well (I got them in the mail just before I drove up there.) Anyway, here’s a rundown of what was done.

The forks were torn down, inspected, and rebuilt with Traxxion’s AK-20 cartridge kit and new fork caps for preload and rebound adjustment. My forks are raised maybe 5-8mm in the triples as well. The rear shock disappeared and was replaced with a Penske 8981. They baselined the suspension adjustment, and set the sag as well.

All in all I’m very happy with the results. The lowered front actually makes for a more comfortable position for me in terms of being able to grip the tank with my knees to hold myself up, while also making it turn in much more quickly. In turns, bumps and pavement irregularities do not upset the bike nearly as much, and tracking is smooooooooth. At low speeds, I find the SV to be a bit more rough over little bumps and the like, but that smooths out at speed. The one thing I was worried about was possible instability at speed due to the front end being lowered – it tracks like a laser, so I’m not worried about anything.

One of the most notable changes to the way my SV handles the road though is braking. Before, if I grabbed a handfull of front brake my forks dove like a Japanese Zero at an American warship. Now, while the forks compress – they do so smoothly and progressively. Under even normal braking, the bike feels much more stable. Seeing as my next upgrades will be to further improve brake feel – I like this a lot.

Now for pics.

New Suspension

New Suspension

New Suspension

New Suspension

New Suspension

Louisville to Ft. Benning – by way of Beaumont

That’s probably one of the least direct routes one can fathom – driving from Louisville, Kentucky to Fort Benning, Georgia, through Beaumont, Texas. There are few reasons that would drive a man to do such a thing, in any vehicle – much less a motorcycle. One reason I’m sure anyone would assume near instantly would probably be “women” – they’d be right here. A good majority of my reason for heading back home to Texas this summer was in fact a woman, my gorgeous girlfriend Amanda. Naturally, I also wanted to see my family, and as luck would have it they just so happen to be in the same place. Yay.


On to the riding bit. My previous post covers the leg from Louisville to Houston pretty well, so there’s little sense rehashing that. I rested all day on Monday, not really doing anything at all. I sent my Dad on a mission to buy Garmin Mapsource City Select v7 – so I could build more awesome routes for my Garmin GPSmap 60Cx, and that’s about it. Tuesday morning rolled around, and I loaded the SV up and headed for my Aunt’s house in Port Arthur. I didn’t opt for any interesting routes to get there I just got in the HOV lane on I-10 in Houston, and headed east. I broke off of I-10 in Winnie and took HWY 73 into Port Arthur.

When I got there, I had a little chat with my Aunt Cheryl and got settled in, unpacked, and showered. I spent pretty much the rest of Tuesday with Amanda and her beautiful baby girl Madeline. Purty nifty day indeed, later on she got to meet some of my family – my parents, my brother and youngest sister, my Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Ricky, and my grandparents on my Dad’s side (Nana and Papa Doc.)

Wednesday I got up and went fishing with my Uncle Juan, my Mom, and my brother. Took a bunch of photos, and caught a fish. To be fair we caught a bunch… just not all the way. Those fiesty bastards were snapping lines left and right – usually just as we got them up to the boat. Talk about frustrating. When the fishing was all said and done we got showered and had some yummy spaghetti at my Papa Doc’s house. Amanda came to visit at my Aunt’s house and got to see how much my family loves little babies, and how much I suck at pool.

Fishing the Sabine Pass

Thursday was time for me to leave – I’d planned on being gone by noon, but that didn’t exactly happen. I spent many hours with Amanda, and before I got out of Beaumont stopped in at my Aunt Silvia’s house to visit for a few minutes and say howdy to my cousins. I finally left Beaumont around 1640hrs and set my GPS to get me back to Ft. Benning. HWY 12 through Texas and Louisiana was on the menu, only HWY 12 is closed to one lane in a few places. That gave me the wonderful opportunity to sit on asphalt, in black leather, at a complete standstill.

By around 2200hrs I was nearing St. Francisville, Louisiana – and the mosquitoes were getting ridiculous. By ridiculous, I mean I could not see out of my helmet anymore, and I’d cleaned it at least 3 times between Baton Rouge and St. Francisville. I was not amused, or in the mood to keep riding so I found the only hotel in St. Francisville, got a room, and passed out for the night. At 0830 the next morning, I rolled out on my way back the Home of the Infantry.

Somewhere in Alabama, I won’t lie and say I remember where – my bike let out an odd wobble as my chain slipped a full inch of slack out. I needed gas anyway, so I pulled into a BP station in Jackson, Alabama where I got to tighten my now rattling chain before moving out again. I managed to make it to Ft. Benning in one piece, and as my maintenence post says – my SV isn’t going anywhere until I do a tune up, and replace my chain and sprockets. My parts are all on the way though, so hopefully I’m riding again by the weekend.

Time to get my hands dirty

As of Friday, my SV has over 9000 miles on the clock. I rode right through the 7500mi checkups, and am now well on my way to the 11,000 mile scheduled maintenence. Seeing as I really don’t have a whole hell of a lot else to do, I’m going to start on things today. I’m going to go ahead and get busy adjusting everything that can be adjusted, and checking the torque on everything that can be torqued today. Sometime today or tomorrow, I need to get to a hardware store so I can make a gauge to sync my throttle bodies.

The biggest item that needs serious attention right now is my chain. I’ve ordered a chain breaker/rivet tool and a chain and sprocket set from so hopefully that shows up mid-week and I can be on two wheels again by next weekend. In addition to the chain, I’m going to hit the basics of a tune up. Change my air filter, spark plugs, and all that jazz. When this is all said and done, I’ll restart the whole saving project so I can get some suspension work done, and do a little brake improvement as well.

Ft. Benning to Houston, via Louisville.

I wish I’d taken some photos along the way, but I’ll just have to go with whatever words I can muster for this tale.

Early 1-JUN-2006, and by early I mean 0400hrs, I woke up to sign out on leave and head to Louisville, KY for the wedding of two of my friends (fellow soldiers I served with in Iraq.) A number of people had cautioned me about a front of nasty weather moving towards both Chattanooga, TN and Louisville, KY – so I set out expecting to get wet at some point.

The first 4 hours of my trip were rather uneventful, I rode up I-185 to La Grange, GA and got on US27 headed north to Chattanooga, TN. About 3/4mi south of Georgia Highlands College, a local police officer passed in the southbound lane. When I checked my mirrors, he was turning around.
I pulled into the college parking lot, fetched my license, registration, and insurance, and waited for the inevitable “Do you know why I pulled you over son?” I knew, I was travelling in excess of the posted speed limit. Sometimes honesty is the best policy (and having an active military ID never seems to hurt). The officer asked where I was headed with luggage strapped onto a sportbike, so I told him I was en route to a wedding in Louisville. His response was to hand me back my DL and papers, and tell me to ride safe and take breaks every hour or so. Never mentioned keeping my speed down though (fwiw, he claimed to have tagged me at 69 in a 55 – my GPS begs to differ, but I shall say no more).

As I rolled by the Chattanooga City Limits sign, I felt the temperature drop a good 10 degrees. Looking up confirmed what I had felt to be true. Big, angry, ready to pop clouds moving my way, and moving fast. Chattanooga was a planned stopping point anyway, so I found a Hardee’s and ate chow. Surprisingly enough, it didn’t rain on me in Chattanooga. However, a quick glance at told me riding up shoulder free highways might not be the best idea. I altered my route for something less fun and got on I-24 towards Nashville where I’d catch I-65 into Louisville.

Roughly 50 miles south of Nashville, the clouds let loose. Lucky for me I was nearing an exit with a covered gas station. I pulled off, along with a couple on a GL1800 (Florida plates), and waited 10 minutes for the first-rain oil slick to wash off – and of course to put my rain gear on. Most of you know this, but it is ridiculously hot in full rain gear – especially when it’s still 80F outside. For a good 40 minutes, I rode I-24 in the rain. It really wasn’t bad at all, and I was surprised at how well the Pilot Powers handled a loaded down bike in the rain.

Nothing worth talking about happened from then on into Louisville. I found the hotel my friends were staying in and got the “cheapest room you have available” – happened to be the presidential suite, and was large enough for 5 or 6 adults. Too bad I was alone. Having just gone 538mi, according to my GPS, I passed out moments after I got out of the shower. The following day was the wedding, and if you check my Flickr in the next few days, the photos I took will be there.

3-JUN-2006, the bride’s little sister came knockin’ on my door at 0545hrs. Were she not quite attractive, and pretty fun to hang out with, I might have been less than cheerful upon opening the door. I needed to get up anyway, as I had a ride to Pine Bluff, AR ahead of me. She offered a massage, which I gladly accepted, and that was that. Any more, and the bride might well have killed me upon my return to FBGA.

To go on a gear/gadget aside for a bit – I love my GPSmap 60Cx. I plot a rough (and I do mean rough) route with the included Mapsource waypoints manager deal – and tell it to navigate. I automagically calculates something including the roads I wanted, but with a little more sanity to it. If I blow through an exit, and show no signs of slowing down – it recalculates the route again, to get me where I’m going. I’m quite interested in how it’ll do once I get City Navigator or something with more detail in the maps.

Anyway, I headed towards Paducah at around 0845 on the 3rd. It was a bit chilly out, but I made good time. I did run out of road once, and end up nearly riding right into a lake. Some locals pointed me in the right direction, and I made it to West Kentucky Parkway, which I rode for about 120mi before breaking south into Tennesse. Along the way I saw hundreds (literally) of bikers. Many, many hours later, I made it to Union City, TN – and noticed my chain was getting all kinds of dirty. Slack was fine, but man oh man was it covered in gunk. I made a mental note to pick up chain lube at the first cycle store I could find.

Just outside Memphis, TN I rolled past a Suzuki dealer and picked up some chain lube and pressed on towards Pine Bluff. Still nothing spectacularly wonderful or noteworthy happened along this bit. I did ride past some of the worst smelling farm land I’ve ever encountered in Arkansas. I’ve also fairly well convinced myself that the entire eastern half of Arkansas is “the hood.”

My parents made it to Pine Bluff a good hour before I did, so they were there to help me unload the SV and get ready to crash for the night. After a long hot shower, and two big slices of pizza – I called it a night. The morning would see the three of us riding back into Katy, TX. I had planned to include plenty of twisty, but at this point, over 1000 miles into a trip on my 2005 SV650S – I was ready to be home, and not have to ride for a while. I plotted the course for US79 south through Louisiana, down into Texas, and then US59 into Houston, the 610 Loop to I-10 and that on home.

Dad offered to let me ride his Goldwing from Pine Bluff, right off the get go, but I declined. About 150 miles later, I took him up on the offer – after we killed a few hours at Isle of Capri Casino at my Mom’s wishes. From Isle of Capri to Tenaha, TX – I was on the GL1800 with my Mom on the back, and my Dad was on my SV650S. We both needed gas in Tenaha, and I’m pretty sure we were both ready to take our own bikes back. I was burning up in my full leathers on the Goldwing, and my Dad didn’t look too comfortable on the SV. I’ll definitely have to get me one of them there touring bikes one day.

A few hundred miles later, after a total of 473 miles, we pulled into the driveway here in Katy, TX. Dad made another offer – in the form of a cold beer, this time I accepted the first offer.

In Louisville

I made it in one piece. Were I to claim I was not dead tired, I would be lying through my teeth. I’m going to go hang out for a few minutes, get some food in me – pop my anti-inflamatory drugs and muscle relaxers, and pass out. I’ll put together a full ride report when it’s all said and done.

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