Time To Recharge Or Get A New Battery

Earlier today the Magic Carpet gave us not one, but two “slow” starts.  You know what I mean, when the battery is weak an turns the starter slow.  But later in the morning it started just fine.  One slow start might be an anomaly but two in the same morning is definitely a warning.  The battery was a Panasonic AGM style and was four and a half years old.  The motorcycle is plugged into a Battery Tender whenever parked in the garage and it’s said this procedure greatly enhances battery longevity.  But tomorrow I’m leaving for a few days in Florida with my Dad and then a week after getting back we’re heading to Maggie Valley, NC.  Donna told me that she’d feel better if I went ahead and got a new battery.  I thought about it and she was right.  I didn’t want to stop for gas or to rest and end up having to call roadside assistance from the BMWMOA and then figuring if the dealer in Marietta, GA, Jacksonville, FL or Daytona Beach, FL was closest should the battery decide to ruin my plans.  I decided to get the Odyssey PC680 battery that comes highly recommended.  I got the battery at BatteriePlus where they had it in stock.  It was kind of ironic that last Saturday the battery in the car went belly up too.

Categories: Maintenance & Repair | Tags: | 2 Comments

Would You Like Curves With That Route?

Our Garmin Zumo 220 GPS shipped with MapSource as the routing software to accompany it.  Garmin has since abandoned MapSource and began using its own software, BaseCamp, which is available for free as a download.  The idea with BaseCamp (and was with MapSource) was that you could create a trip or a route on your computer, transfer it to your GPS and then load the route on your GPS and follow it.  It is nice to do.  By default BaseCamp checks for updates every time you load it.  In BaseCamp you set options for profiles such as motorcycling, driving, hiking, etc..  With the options for each setting you can set the profile to not route you on things such as toll roads, dirt roads, avoid u-turns, highways and many more things.  I noticed a feature in the motorcycle profile that I don’t know if it’s new or I’ve been missing it all this time.  It’s a “curvy roads” routing feature.  That’s right, curvy roads for a motorcycle!  Who would’ve thought that motorcycles would like curvy roads?  Well it’s an option I’m going to start playing with and see what results I get.

The curvy roads options in the motorcycling profile.

The curvy roads options in the motorcycling profile.

Categories: Accessories | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Just A 228 Mile Sunday Ride

That’s right we went on a 228 mile ride today.  No it wasn’t a trip, it was a Sunday ride.  It all started the other day when I asked Donna if she wanted to go have lunch at Turner’s Corner Café at the corner of US 129 and Georgia Highway 9 today.  So we got a late morning start and headed up.  Here it is July in Georgia and the forecast was for a high temperature of 85°F, low humidity (rare) and mostly sunny skies.  I played with the GPS software, Basecamp and created a route that would take us up using some local roads we hadn’t been on before and then transferred it to the GPS.  We headed up through Canton, Ballground and Dawsonville before using Georgia Highway 400 for a short time until it ended.  After we made our turn onto Georgia Highway 115 we were only supposed to be on it for a short time before making a left turn and cutting back diagonally on some nice crooked local roads.  But the GPS showed it was 12 miles until our next turn.  I saw what I thought was our turn go past.  For some reason the GPS decided that it wanted to route us up Highway 115 to US 129 which would take us straight to Turner’s Corner Café.  No big deal, we just wanted to have lunch on the river and watch the motorcycles.  Once we got to lunch I brought the GPS in with us and reloaded the route and previewed it.  Sure enough it showed the original route.  I don’t know why the GPS didn’t use the route as planned but this is the second time this has happened.  Both Basecamp and the GPS have the same maps installed.

This was also my first day riding with a new pair of Do-It-Yourself custom molded earplugs.  I got mine from Ear Plug Superstore.  I’ve tried them before but didn’t quite get them right.  This time however I took my time and didn’t second guess the instructions and they worked.  They are harder to get in your ear but have quite a good seal.  This may sound weird but they’re both quieter and noisier.  They’re quieter in that they “muffle” sound well and I needed to turn my intercom up a bit to hear the GPS and Donna.  But they’re noisier in that I think there’s more wind noise than my ETY plugs.  But then that may be a good thing.  I suffer from tinnitus (a ringing in your ears) and if it’s too quiet, the ringing can seem louder, will be irritating and could just make you uncomfortable.  But the new self moldable plugs gave me the “white noise” effect that my hearing aids also supply and my night-time sound machine.

I figured that after lunch we’d head back home as it was just over an hour and a half ride.  But while eating Donna asked “Where are we riding after this?”  So after lunch we backtracked down US 129 a few miles to Georgia Highway 75 Alt until we made our left (northerly) turn onto Georgia Highway 348, the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway.  This curvy stretch of mountain road only runs between Highway 75 Alt and Georgia Highway 180 and isn’t very long.  There are numerous pull-offs to view the Appalachian Mountains.  It’s a very fun and curvy road but there weren’t many motorcycles on it today.  At the RBR’s end we made the turn on to Highway 180 for a very short distance before heading up and over Blood Mountain on US 129 and then headed for Dahlonega and home.

So we had a great Sunday ride of 228 miles.  Oh, and along the way today the Magic Carpet’s odometer reached and passed 82,000 miles.

Categories: Rides | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

The Little Air Pump That Can

It’s the age-old of question of topping off the air pressure of tires conveniently at home.  Yes you can always go to a gas station or convenience store to do it but everything always lists “psi cold” and the tires heat while driving or riding.  I do have a Slime air compressor that works off a 12 volt cigarette lighter plug.  It’s small and gets the job done but it’s seems noisy too.  To do the motorcycle tires I have to get each motorcycle tire over close enough to the car to use the compressor within reach of the cord and the cigarette lighter in the car.  I started looking for a compressor that I could plug into a wall outlet.  I didn’t need anything with an air tank that could power a nailer or other air tool.  I just needed a light duty air compressor to top off tires.

I found a Kobalt 120 PSI electric air compressor at Lowe’s.  It’s a handy little unit and retails for $49.98.  It runs on 120 volt AC current or 12 volts DC using the cigarette lighter plug.  The compressor has a digital tire gauge on it for checking tire pressures and has accessories for inflating sports equipment and air mattresses.  It also has grommets on the front to hold your valve stem caps.  One of the best features is that you can set the pressure you want in the tire, turn the compressor on and it will turn itself off when it reaches the pre-set pressure. No more guessing, checking, pumping and checking.  The air hose and 120 volt cord wrap around the unit and the 12 volt cord is stored in the compressor.  There’s also a compartment for spare valve stem caps, sports needles and air mattress/toy nozzles.  The 12 volt cord is more than ample to reach all four tires on a vehicle but the 120 volt cord is only 21 inches long.  I’ve checked the pressure against both an Accu-Gage dial pressure gauge and a BMW digital tire pressure gauge and it hasn’t been more than one half pound off.  I think it’ll be a handy tool in the garage.  Now I can leave the motorcycle right where it is and top off the pressure in the tires if needed.

In the video below I let 3 pounds of air from the back tire and then set the compressor at 48 PSI.  It stops when it reaches 48.

Pros of the compressor:

  • Runs off of the cigarette lighter in the car or household current.
  • All cords are retained around or in the compressor.
  • Quiet.
  • Digital pressure gauge.
  • Can be set to turn off at a pre-set pressure.
  • 12 volt automobile cord is long enough to reach all four tires.

Cons of the compressor:

  • 120 volt household cord is way too short and requires an extension cord.
  • After 10 minutes of continuous use it should be allowed to cool for 10 minutes.

No you won’t be able to completely fill and set a bead on a tire with this little gem but it’s great for everyday use in maintaining tire pressures.

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The Back Seat Roll Bag From Viking Bags (a review)

It’s review time again!  I received a Back Seat Roll Bag from Viking Bags to try out and review.  If you go to Viking Bags you’ll notice that most of their luggage is made for cruiser motorcycles such has Harley Davidson and the metric cruiser style motorcycles.  It looks like nice stuff too.  You’ll even notice that BMW is not even listed as one of the choices for saddlebags.  I agreed again to give a fair review so here it goes.

The bag is a cylinder and made of heavy-duty Cordura nylon.  It has a plastic insert in the bag so that it holds it shape even when empty and won’t collapse.  On each end there’s a zippered extension that lengthens the bag about 4 inches.  There’s an included removable shoulder strap and easy to install rain cover.  The zippered “hatch” to get into the bag has a mesh organizer pocket on the inside.  The bag has a carry handle.  It’s a well made bag.

When I first received the bag I wasn’t sure that I could even use it on a BMW K1200LT.  The instructions and video showed it being mounted to a back rest, sissy bar or a much narrower seat.  I got concerned.  I tried it on my top case rack and it was definitely a “no-go” as it wasn’t secure enough and moved around too much.  Since it mentioned the passenger grab rails, I decided to try mounting it to the side case/passenger grab handles on the side cases.  I decided to try it with the attached wide Velcro straps and it went right on.  I just passed the straps through the handles and back on themselves so that the Velcro would grab (just like they were intended to do).  I just took the extra and folded in and then tucked it up under the bag.  I also tried the narrower and removable straps but the bag was harder to mount and didn’t feel as secure.  I mounted it to the back seat again using the wide straps and snugged it down.  I filled it with a tool bag, towel and some other items.  I could rock the bag forward and back just a bit (hey it’s a roll bag isn’t it?) but there was absolutely no side to side movement.  I intentionally did not fill the bag all the way and filled it with heavy items to increase the chance of it moving around.  I then took the bag for a ride on some local roads and on the highway.  In my blind spot mirrors I could see the bag rock forward and back less than and inch.  The bag never moved sideways (a good thing) and the extra length of the straps never came out from under the bag and flapped in the wind.  I didn’t try the rain cover.

The bag was not made for the kind of motorcycle I was using it on but it adapted very well.  This this would be an excellent piece of luggage on something like a Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic, Suzuki C50T or C90T or Yamaha V-Star Silverado.    I’m sure there’s many others but I know those models have passenger back rests.  Actually it would easily fit on any motorcycle with a passenger back rest.  The bag would attach to the supports of the back rest very easily or the back rest itself and you could even use the extra supporting straps.  I can see that the bag could either sit on the back seat in front of the passenger back rest or behind it even on a small luggage rack if you had a passenger with you.  The plastic insert in the bag is rigid enough it could sit on a small luggage rack and not sag.  If I had a cruiser style motorcycle I’d be using this bag all that time as it’s that durable and easy to install.

The roll bag is available at Vikingbags “dot” com.  You can click on any of the images below for the full-sized picture.

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The Brake Repair From Hell

Back on the twenty-fifth of May the Magic Carpet developed a leaking rear brake line that was later tracked down to being the hose from the rear master cylinder to the metal brake line going to the ABS unit.  On the twelfth of June we went to the dealer fully expecting to have to order the offending part.  Well we got lucky and they actually had the part.  I got the repair under way on the thirteenth of June.  Yes on Friday the thirteenth!  I removed the body work that hadn’t already been removed to locate the leak, removed the old brake line and then managed to get the new line in.  The hard part was getting the new line in!  There was absolutely NO pressure on the rear brake pedal.  But by opening the system, I knew I had introduced air into it and it needed to be bled.  I was beat and done for the day.  On the fifteenth I tried bleeding the system no avail (I later found I wasn’t patient enough).  I was flustered and asked for help on bmwlt.com for what to do.  An experienced “wrencher” on the K1200LT suggesting back flushing the line using the #3 bleeder with a syringe and a piece of tubing to fill it.  I already had those from my last brake repair!  It still wouldn’t bleed.  I took a few days off from the project because it was frustrating me.  Then another “wrencher” suggested that at this point since all I wanted to do was get the air out, was to connect the tubing to each of the 3 rear bleeders from the ABS unit back into the brake reservoir so that the air would come out and I would just recycle the brake fluid.  I would worry about a more thorough bleed and flush after this.  I now had pressure on the brake pedal!  It took a lot of time to get that air out too.  That was on Saturday the 21st.  We had decided that if I didn’t get this done by Monday we were sending the bike to the dealer to let them figure it out.

Now it’s time to explain a BMW servo assisted (power brakes like a car) integral ABS (adding “braking system” to ABS would be redundant, like VIN number) unit in layman’s terms as easily as possible.  The integral part means that pressing the rear brake pedal will not only give you rear brake but will add front braking with pushing harder.  When pulling the front brake lever you will also get rear braking as you pull harder.

  • There are a total of 4 circuits.
  • The front wheel circuit goes from the ABS unit to the two front calipers.
  • The front brake lever is for the front control circuit from the lever to the ABS unit.
  • The foot pedal is the rear control circuit going from pedal to the ABS unit.
  • The rear wheel circuit goes from the ABS unit to the rear caliper.
  • There are 6 bleed valves on the ABS unit (3 for the front and three for the back), one bleed valve on each of the front calipers and two bleed valves on the rear caliper.
  • The reservoir for the rear brakes feeds both the ABS unit and the rear caliper
  • The reservoir for the front brakes feeds only the front calipers while the master cylinder on the handle bar supplies only the ABS unit.
  • All lines meet at the ABS unit in the middle.

Confused yet?  A diagram really helps though.  For the home mechanic to do this it really is a two person job.

Yesterday, on Sunday, we bled and then flushed not only the rear system but the front system as well.  I figured since I was in there I’d do them all.  It’s also much easier to do the control circuits on the ABS module with the battery removed from the motorcycle.  To do the wheel circuits you need the battery installed because the ignition has to be on (but bike not running) because you need the servos the flush from the bleeders on the calipers.  As expected it took some time to do the rear control circuit.  Donna was my “beautiful assistant” manipulating the brake pedal and brake lever for me.  The front control circuit went quick and the fluid didn’t even look that dark but now the whole system has new DOT4 brake fluid.  While the Magic Carpet was still naked, I took her for a short test ride and got no brake warning lights or leaks.  I put the brakes through a workout, even intentionally activating the ABS a few times.  I got her home and then put all her clothes (body work) back on.  I did lose 3 torx screws for the body work in all this though, but that’s no big deal.

Now it’s time to start riding again!

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Categories: Maintenance & Repair | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Iceberg Hunting on the Baccalieu Trail

Chris:

Would you ever have thought of iceberg hunting on a motorcycle?

Originally posted on Ride Newfoundland:

After a truly miserable week weather-wise, we were all looking forward to the forcasted warmth and sunshine on June 14. By 8:30 am, the temperature was at 12 Celsius (54 F.), already higher than we had experienced in a week. We decided to head out of town early, and hit the highway to the Baccalieu Trail; a wonderfully twisty road that winds its way around the north west Avalon.

The first stop was Salmon Cove Sands, a beautiful sandy beach about 10km from Carbonear. It’s been rated one of the top 15 beaches in the country, and I can understand why. It’s a gorgeous place, well-sheltered and has a small natural arch rock formation. The sand is very fine, almost made me want to take my boots off and run through it. The beach was empty except for a couple of boys on dirt bikes and a few…

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The Greatest Dad Ever!

Chris:

It’s Father’s Day and time to resurrect a two year old post. My Mom is no longer with us since this post. My Dad is still going long and enjoying life. Happy Father’s Day!

Originally posted on Chris & Donna's Motorcyle Journeys:

My Dad in the Marines during the 1950’s.

Happy Father’s Day to my Dad!  And a Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there.  I may be a bit biased but I happen to think I have the greatest Dad ever.  So why not brag about him?

My Dad is not a super hero but he is so much better.  From watching him and listening to him, I learned to be a man, husband and father.  I mean what more could you really ask for?  Ok, he did the same thing for my two brothers which makes him even cooler.  If you’re a reader of this blog you know that I’ll tackle maintenance and repair of the motorcycle on my own.  I’ve done the same with cars and home improvement projects all my life.  Where did I learn to do this?  Well, from my Dad of course!  What he…

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They Had It In Stock!

We headed down to BMW Motorcycles of Atlanta today to order the brake line I need to replace.  I’ve found that quite often brake lines may not be in stock and need to be ordered, taking about a week to get.  Can you really expect a dealer to stock the individual brake lines for the models of motorcycles they’ve made even in the past 10 years?  I was fully expecting to have to order the part.  There was a little computer trouble at the parts counter when the guy helping me unexpectedly says “Hey!  It says we have one in stock!”  He goes in the back and a few minutes later comes out with the brake line and the miscellaneous washers to go along with it.

While we were there Donna disappeared and then called me over to show me what she “fell in love with”.  What she found was a 2014 K1600GTL Exclusive edition.  Maybe I should’ve gone alone?

 

Categories: Maintenance & Repair | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Old And Leaking

Our BMW K1200LT is a 2oo2 model.  She was built to last.  Two years ago we had a leaking front brake line that I replaced and then bled the brake system.  A while back I wrote that it looked like there was another brake line leaking, this time the rear brake near the brake pedal.  Today I started looking for the culprit and it is indeed the rear brake line near the master cylinder.  Once I had removed the body panel so I could see better, I was able to push on the pedal and then get some brake fluid to collect at the ferrule where the hose goes into the master cylinder.  That’s some leak.  The brake reservoir was also sitting right on the minimum line too.  No wonder I got a flashing brake warning light.  So now I know what part I need to go to the BMW dealer and order and then replace.  Then it’s time to flush the brakes again.  At least I noticed it at home and not out on the road somewhere.  I’d rather not have to check out the BMWMOA roadside assistance towing.

Categories: Maintenance & Repair | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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