Monday, September 05, 2016

Setting suspension height to stock

After lowering the suspension height by one inch, I put it back to stock tonight. I liked the seat height. But I don't like the lowered look and it corners poorly. So after four months, I've put it back to stock height. I need to try Suzuki low seat to see if that helps.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Water Pump Leak Fixed

45,339 miles

V-Strom's water pump started to leak right before I left for Colorado. This made it easy for me to make a decision which bike to take.

I had to take the clutch side engine case off and water pump cover off to do this. Before that, I had to drain both engine oil and anti-freeze coolant.


I changed the

  • impeller shaft
  • all seals
  • E ring clip
  • bearings (there are two)
  • engine case gasket
That's pretty much everything. 


I only ordered one bearing online. I ended up driving to a local Suzuki dealer to get the second bearing.



I think 650 and 1000 water pumps are constructed differently. Most of the info I found were for 650. But when I opened her up, it wasn't too difficult to figure things out. I didn't need any special tools to pull the seals or the bearing.

I used the long socket to pull out the seal first. Then used a similar socket to drive the bearings out by pounding on them from the back side. Then just put everything back together.

The procedure was simple but it sure took time in my HOT garage. =(

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Day 12 ~ 900 miles to home

900 Miles - Last day of my Moto-rado summer ride. =(


The original plan was to do this in two days. Take it easy in New Mexico, do some twisties, etc. But I just felt like I should get home. So I decided to GO!

First thing. I was so glad I didn't do the original Santa Fe route the night before. When I woke up, that area was POURING. But the rain was moving south toward my path. So I had to be careful, too.

I got on I-40 from Albuquerque. The sun was right into my eyes. =(

As I proceeded, the sky started to look less promising.


Minutes later ....


From I-40, I tool US Hwy 84 down toward Lubbock. The part of New Mexico I rode has been pretty boring. But I came through an interesting town Clovis. There was an air force base before the town. Then in town a fighter jet welcomed me.













Beyond Clovis, I went through another interesting town Texico and finally into Texas. It's good to be home... Wait my home is still 650 miles (10 hrs) away. Oh, boy, Texas is a huge state.




Riding in Texas is not exciting at all - mostly straight roads. From New Mexico border, I go through Lubbock and I arrive to Abilene. There I found a huge thunderstorm in front of me. The wind was getting strong and gusty. It scared me. Texas is well know for its tornados and other strong storms. So I rode around it. I didn't need my trip end with a lighting strike.

Took Texas State Hwy 36 toward southeast. I made a mistake trying to cut to HWY 6 via HWY 7. I was running out of gas and there was no gas station. At this point, I had to take I-35 down to temple to get gas. I-35 was under construction and that 15 miles was bumper to bumper stop and go, like my daily commute in Houston.

After a gas stop, I tool HWY 190 toward east. Before arriving to Hearne, the sun went down. I was looking carefully for deer on the road. Once on HWY 6, I was on semi auto mode. It's easy to get home from there. (I thought.) Navasota was my last gas stop of the trip. I was tired. I was 100 miles away - about 1.5 hrs. The bike was fueled and ready I was fueled with a can of Red Bull and a candy bar and ready.

So I hit the last leg. I come into 290.........  DANG the road is closed for construction. I had planned to take the Beltway 8, but I couldn't even get on it. I Google an alternate routes and I finally get back on 290. All this fiasco costs me about 30 extra minutes. 

Luckily, from there everything went smoothly through downtown Houston to home. I put the bike in the garage, took shower and went straight to bed.

I completed 900 miles & 16 hours of riding in one day. Surprisingly, the stock seat of NC700X is very good. Not once I wish to have a better seat. I think this is THE first bike I am content with the stock seat. I might be ready for the SaddleSore 1,000.


Day 11 ~ Thursday 29th: Gunnison - Millon Dollar Highway - Bernalillo

370 Miles - Disappointed and frustrated at the Million Dollar Highway


Another great night at the hostel gave us a fresh start from Gunnison. We were ready early to hit the road. It was an easy all paved day. HWY 50 took us to Montrose. We stopped at Starbucks and had breakfast.

From Montrose we headed south through Ridgeway. We stopped in Ouray to walk around a bit.

After Ouray we hit the Million Dollar Highway part of HWY550. Unfortunately, from the get go, we ended up behind slow traffic. Then there were so many constructions that we had to stop and wait and wait and wait.

The Million Dollar scenery seemed like it worth about $5.00.



=(

In Durango, we found a Chinese buffet restaurant and we stopped for lunch. John had to ride to Pagosa Springs. I had a choice of going there or keep going south toward Albuquerque. Looking at the radar closely, I chose to go separate way. This turned out to be the right decision later.

Fortunately I hit very little of rain. BUT it was hot in New Mexico. I was actually hoping to get some good shower to cool down, but no rain. I pulled out my cooling vest, soak it and wear it. About half way between Durango and Albuquerque, I was getting very tired. I had to stop for an ice cream bar and Red Bull.

I didn't make it all the way to Albuquerque. Stopped just shy of that in Bernalillo, NM. Found a Motel 6 and I crashed there.

Lots of work done

I completed a few tasks needed for our vehicles.
1. Avalon - Oil & filter change (@85,000 miles)
2. Camry - Speedometer cluster exchange (@190,000 miles) with the unit with 130,000 miles.
3. NC700X - Oil, Oil filter, DCT filter, chain lubed & adjusted

1. Avalon was a bit over due for its oil change and oil filter change. Now it's good until 88,000 miles.

2. Two weeks ago, Camry's speedometer decided to quit. Everything worked on the cluster (including the "check engine" light which came on), but speedometer and the odometer went blank. I read a bunch of posts about this online and decided to order a used unit with 130,000 miles on it. It came this week and I installed it today. It was a very easy process. Everything is good (for now).






3. NC700X was due for oil, oil filter, DCT filter change. Also it needed its chain lubed and adjusted.

DCT filter in located on the right side of the bike.

\

Open the cover with 8mm socket.


I took the spring out, but couldn't get the filter to come out. So I stuck the 8mm socket in and twisted a bit to pull out. It fit perfectly.


It's a small filter.


Once pulled out, it looks like this.


comparing the new filter and the old one.



That's it for today.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Day 10 ~ Wednesday 28th: Gunnison - Crested Butte - Black Canyon NP - Gunnison

190 Miles


I like sleeping in a hammock. But I enjoy sleeping in bed even more. With a good night rest, we were ready to hit a big loop. A beautiful crips morning welcomed two bikes and the riders.

Our first stop was Crested Butte - a cozy little ski town. We visited Rumors coffee house - good coffee and pastry. Somehow coffee taste a lot better in a town like that. Is it the climate? Is it the atmosphere? Is it the coffee? Or all combined?


We walked up and down the main street visited shops including a shop with interesting sculptures and a cute bear.


After about an hour of hanging out at the town, we head off to tackle CO12. This supposedly is a nice dirt road and I've decided that we need to visit Lake Irwin while we are there.




(video coming soon)

I LOVED CO12 - probably my second favorite road during this trip after Phantom Canyon. It was easy to ride, well packed dirt road. I could push NanC a bit and still felt very comfortable. There were plenty turns that you can have a lot of fun. I highly recommend it.

After CO12, we end up on HWY 133. It is paved. We road toward southwest passing two large mines. (I think they were coal mines.) We arrive to Hotchikiss, CO. We looked for Zach's BBQ for lunch.




We sat down and ordered drinks. Then a local guy name Mike, a FJ-09 rider, came to our table and told us all the roads we can take in the region. Many of the road he mentioned we've already ridden and others we were going to ride. He was full of great information. If I were to go back to that area again, I would hire him as a guide!

After great conversation and great food, it was time for us to ride to Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park. We were heading to the north side of the park. It was an easy ride from Hotchikiss including some great dirt road near and throughout the park.



That place is just so amazing. I'm standing right at the edge of the cliff. It is very scary. Gust of wind can take anyone down to the bottom of the canyon.

From there, we get back onto HWY 92. From here to the dam, the road gets REALLY great. My favorite paved road of this trip. Many many many great turns and spit you out at the dam. I parked at the dam, walked down to the lake and had a nice splashing time to cool down.

At this point, we were concerned about our gas situation. We were running on fumes. We took HWY 50 back at our best MPG speed - around 50 mph. Luckily, we made it back to Gunnison. Although I am a AAA premium member and can get 5 GAL of free gas delivered anywhere, I'd rather not sit at the side of highway and wait an hour.

After a long day of ride, we hit up Mario's pizza again and goof off in town and found our way back to the Hostel.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Day 9 ~ Tuesday 27th: Brown Creek Campground - Marshall Pass - Gunnison

210 Miles

Jim dumps bike again. (video coming soon)


After a nice night sleep in my hammock, we get up and begin our day. We proceed to HWY 285 and gas up first. Then down to HWY 50 and approach Monarch Pass.  It's a nice paved path. In Sargents, we take a left onto Marshall Pass Rd. This path is a well maintained dirt road. It's really easy to ride. In no time, we arrive to the top.

(video to come soon)



Descending

We continue on down Rd 200. First there was a group of ATVs. One guy was putting air in one of his tire. We stopped and asked if we can assist, but there was nothing we can do. So we moved on.  Then we passed a large group of BMW R1200GSs, Triumph Explorers, etc. Soon after that, we saw a nice lake down below, O'Haver Lake. We decided to drive there, talk to a few folks and rested a bit. There was a family on the dock catching a bunch of trout. They had one stringer full and they were on their second stringer. I need to come back here and spend a few nights.


The sky didn't look too good. I was afraid that we might get get. So we moved onto next stop Bonanza. Instead of taking the back road, I decided to take HWY285, due to the uncertainty of the weather. We stopped in Villa Grove to see if there were any place to get some grubs, no luck. So we move onto Bonanza. The road to Bonanza is paved part of the way. Once it become unpaved, it was like wash board. I lost two windshield screws and almost lost the windshield. I had to take it off from the bike and carry it with my luggage. It wasn't too bad not having a shield.

Once we go into the town of Bonanza, we saw a guy on ATV. John asked the direction to the abandoned mine. The last 100 yard or so of the path to the mine was difficult for NanC. John's gs with higher clearance didn't have much problem. But NanC had bottomed out and I lost control of her. NanC went down, I hopped off. I'm glad I jumped off since there was nothing but sharp rocks between NanC and where my right leg would have been.


After this fiasco and John getting to visit the mine, we go back to where we came from and hit the town of Saguache. We found a nice restaurant, The Oasis Restaurant, and I taste the 2nd best food of the trip, Green Chile Burger.




Next to the restaurant was a gas station / hardware store. There I found some nuts and bolts and fixed my windshield. A nice lady at the store gave me a piece of cardboard so that I can make a pair of soft washer. This worked great. I rode like this until I got home in Houston.


We gassed up and took Hwy 114 toward Gunnison. Last stretch, right before HWY 50, was GREAT. Speed limit 30, lots of twisies, and great rock formation to look at. (If I have video, I'll upload here later.)

We arrive to Gunnison and we stayed at the Wanderlust Hostel. Nice cozy place to stay for two nights and price was good too. And when I arrived, my replacement credit card was there. The hostel was full both nights. I reserved two private rooms, one for John and one for me, about 6 months before our stay. They had two other rooms with 6 bunks full of guests.



After a hot shower and a bit of rest, we head to town for dinner. Found a nice pizza place, Mario's. We loved that place so much, we went there two nights and had exactly the same thing twice.



After dinner, we come back to the hostel and met a few interesting folks. I love this kind of atmosphere, just hang out and find out what people are up to. I guess this is why I have worked in higher ed environment all my life.


Day 8 ~ Monday 26th: West Chicago Creek Campground - Mt. Evans - Brown Creek Campground

About 200 Miles


After a nice night of sleep at West Chicago Creek Campground, we headed out to Mt. Evans. Climb was very similar to Pikes Peak. When the tree disappears, the fun starts. There is a nice lake, Summit Lake, to stop and enjoy the view.




Unlike Pikes Peak, the parking lot at the top is paved. That was a nice feature. From the parking lot, you can hike up a bit to the very top. Looking down the hiking pass... "Hi, John!"

And here is the very top

I've heard a lot about seeing mountain goats here. I saw a few going up. I saw one up close on the way down.



From Mt. Evans, we rode to Evergreen to gas up, then to DW's 285 Diner in Conifer for lunch. They have decent food. I ordered the Rubin Sandwich.


While in Conifer, we stopped at a grocery store to buy dinner and breakfast for the campsite. Speaking of our campground... we were planning to stay at Chalk Creek Campground, but did not have the reservation. We took chance. And of course, we had no place to stay. An old man at anther camping ground told us to try Brown Creek. So we did. It is a dispersed camping area in Pikes and San Isabel National Forest and in Salida Ranger District.

We rode around county road 270 and 272 to look for a good place to camp and we came to agreement to stay in one site. It is a nice quiet site, all you hear is cows mooing near by.




Here is my dinner. A quick dinner that requires no cooking. I like the simple and easy approach in such situation as this. Just eat it out of the can cold. It's ultra simple! It's camping!!


After the dinner, we rode around the forest a bit and went to bed when the sun went down. Ready for another day to ride!


Regret: I meant to visit St. Elmo General Store near Chalk Creek Campground. I completely forgot about it. Oh well, next time!