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Friday, 26 June 2015

Winter maintenance and other ramblings

It's winter in NZ and whilst my blogging friends with colder winter temperatures may snort with derision, we still get a few cold days and this week was a good example with snow down south and in the high country, plus some uncharacteristic frosts up our way.  A bit of winter maintenance on the bike was called for.  My favourite tyre and accessories dealer is 130 km away in Auckland and whilst both Auckland and where I live on the Coromandel Peninsula are more or less sub-tropical, the southern loop to get there can get a mite chilly!

Perhaps just a smidgeon of exaggeration!

Setting off early, there was a decent frost on the ground as I headed south, then west. Several layers of Icebreaker merino under my Gore-Tex  but the 2 hour trip and absence of a screen and heated grips on the Street Triple still made for chilly riding and a leaky nose (ewwww....)

The Street Triple has now covered 66,000 km and the OEM sprockets and chain were starting to show their age.  Still, that's not too bad for a bike without a Scottoiler or similar constant flow device.  I have been pretty diligent about lubricating the chain every 500 km or so, using virtually every type of chain spray in the known universe. These have ranged from superb to bloody diabolical (a biker technical term).  Among the best was a DuPont product which disappeared from the market a few years back.  Castrol Chain Spray O-R was the absolute worst. With a viscosity approximating that of water, their Marketing Department showed a complete disregard for the truth with their "fling resistant" claim on the can.  The evidence was the black crap which accumulated on the mufflers and back of the numberplate.  It was also a great magnet for road grit. However, since switching to Maxima Chain Wax two years ago, all is sweetness and light - it does exactly as claimed and the bike is a sight easier to clean!

New front and rear sprockets and a Tsubaki Alpha X-ring chain

I also needed a new rear tyre.  Regular readers of this blog will remember the full life review of the Michelin PR3 HERE .  The rear hoop lasted for approximately 15,000 km and its replacement had a virtually identical life.  It was the best all-round tyre ever tried on the Triple - bags of grip in all conditions and exceptional in the wet.  This tyre was superseded by the PR4 which is available in a range of compounds for different purposes and weights of bike.  The "standard" PR4 allegedly has a harder compound in the centre to extend life.  In fact, Michelin claimed an increase of 20% above that of the PR3 but that seems to have been quietly dropped.  From personal experience, the life of my PR4 has been identical to that of its predecessor, not that I'm complaining as it's still a great distance considering the hammering it gets!  However, the PR4 is more expensive than the PR3 and if that was done on the grounds of longevity, we've been ripped off!   All complaining aside, it's a terrific tyre.  The front tyre still has lots of tread and the profile is still good.  It may well last longer than than the 17,000-odd km I got from the PR3 front, possibly due to the bigger spacing between sipes and the likelihood of less flexing.

Brand spanking new PR4 - supreme wet weather grip

The Drury Performance Centre guys in Auckland are a terrific team.  Real bike enthusiasts with an outstanding customer service focus.  I was still getting my gear off when one of the technicians came out and wheeled the bike onto the hydraulic lift.  In less than 1.5 hours, the sprockets, chain and tyre had been changed, all at a great price and I was on my way home again in slightly better temperatures than the way up.  It's worth travelling a reasonable distance for great service like that and building long-term relationships.  The bike was noticeably smoother with the new chain and sprockets although the original ones weren't in particularly poor condition.  Just goes to show that you don't notice the slow decline in performance.

Another item of note is that my Christmas present from the CEO was a custom rear shock.  The OEM shock was definitely built to a budget with no compression and rebound damping adjustment.  In fact, it was noticeably past its best by 40,000 km.  Having experienced the advantages of a high-end Penske shock on my Blackbird (not the least being a substantial increase in tyre life), a UK-made Nitron was chosen for the Street Triple.  It was sprung and valved for the conditions I ride in, plus my weight (any sarcastic comments will be met with an equally sarcastic response).  It was almost perfect straight out of the box, with just half a turn of preload being required to get the loaded sag spot on.  Handling is now sublime and a local sharp dip in the road which previously jarred my spine is a thing of the past with the new setup.  A great investment which gives more performance than aftermarket cans or any other accessory!

Nitron custom rear shock

Finally, "Executive Permission" has been granted to replace the Street Triple!  Having just tarted it up, I'm not ready quite yet to part with it but maybe early next year.  There are some fantastic bikes on the market and it's fun looking at all the specifications, but could this be the leading contender?

Street Triple R ABS

19 comments:

  1. Damn, I wish I could get that sort of tyre life! My PR3's are nearing 8k and not looking too bad but I'll never get 15k...I do like the way they handle though.

    How come everyone that doesn't own a Concours is looking at changing steeds? My baby has 126km on it now and still not for sale!

    However, I do know where there's an immaculate and well looked after V-Strom that will coming up for sale shortly...

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  2. 'ello Andrew!

    Well, the weight differences of our bike might just have something to do with it! Maybe the PR 4 GT would be good! What's the story with the V Strom? Giving up gravel riding or looking for a new toy?

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    1. New toy hopefully Geoff ;) There's a heap more gravel that needs turning over...

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  3. G'day, Gday mate
    That's exceptional tyre wear, I only got 7000km out of my Pilot Power 3, but different tyre of course.
    Oh new bike time, funny we both spent money on fixing the suspension just before buying a new bike instead of using that money on the new bike. Should have learn't from my mistake. I'll be grovelling for the next few years with my new bike purchase.
    Now to spend some quality time in the shed suspension fiddling on the new weapon.

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    1. G'day Steve! Yep, the Street Triple came equipped with Dunlop Qualifiers and I managed to stuff them completely in 6000 km. Hated them in the wet - couldn't get enough heat into them.

      Have fun setting up the new beast - look forward to seeing your ride reports!

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  4. I'm glad you survived two runs through the polar bear infested frozen wastelands where glaciers were creeping across the roads. Quite the hazards. I never knew…

    That sounds like pretty good life with the chain and the sprocket hardly shows any wear compared to most that I've seen. Regular maintenance of the chain must be the key.

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    1. Hi Richard!

      Given where you live, I'm almost embarrassed to complain about a frost! Thank you for not taking me to task. Getting the bike over the glaciers on standard road tyres was a bit of a mission though ;-) .

      Yes, I was really impressed with the chain and sprocket life and finding a good lubrication product must have helped no end. Guess that's something else for you shaft drive guys to laugh about!

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  5. Great to see you posting Geoff and to hear you haven't frozen in your subtropical winter weather.

    Nothing wrong with looking at new steeds. What man doesn't like a shiny new toy to play with?

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    1. Hey Brandy!

      Thank you! We've had the heat pump running at home and the electric blanket on before we turn in for the last few days - I must be getting soft!

      Yes indeed. I like the look of the Ducati Scrambler too but it would be hopeless for keeping up with Rogey and the other IAM guys. If only I was allowed 2 bikes....... ;-)

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  6. Wonderful to have you back posting Geoff - Loui

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    1. Hi Loui, great to hear from you and thanks for the kind words. I happened to be at a loose end for once!

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  7. I can see you on a BMW S1000XR Geoff...

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  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKksfzmJSVw

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    1. Lovely bike and I would very much enjoy riding one BUT....... I don't see retractable trainer wheels listed as an optional accessory :-) . It's just fine for you bean poles but those of us who are more vertically challenged are likely to find stopping at traffic lights and other stops a mortifying experience. Si when is the GS getting traded in?

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    2. What a laugh, only the British could do a review like that! His maniacal laugh is what I experienced getting on the Street Triple for the first time!

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  9. Ok, Geoff, you get a little snort from me for calling your winter "cold". However, you rode on your bike nonetheless, kudos to that. Do you really have to sell your beautiful Triple? Can't you just keep it around for the occasional guest (hint!)? I still love the looks of your bike, and the new "insect eyes" are well... not so much my cup of tea. Enjoy shopping!

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    1. Well done Sonja! We certainly can't compete with your winters :-) . It's a lot warmer this week thank goodness. Haha, would love to keep it for you and it's running beautifully. I must admit that it's mainly a case of wants rather than needs. I didn't like the look of the new headlights when they first came out but they've grown on me. Roll on 2016!!

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  10. Love that you 'tarted' your bike up, I dunno I think the new bike on the horizon has plenty of the tart factor already built in :) Hope you manage to stay warm. Our summer days are quickly ticking by here and fall os fast approaching.

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    1. Hi Dar and thanks :-) . Not to be confused with the phrase "tart's handbag" which means that something is too gaudy and tasteless!

      It's been cold for the last week but not to your standards - just a bit of frost on the lawn first thing which is quite rare.

      Hope that the bike mentoring is going well and best wishes......

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