Friday, 1 January 2021
Tuesday, 24 November 2020
Back in 2019, I published a post concerning snatchy brakes on the Duke 790. They weren't lethal, but it was certainly very noticeable at low speeds. A recommendation was made through the Duke 790 forum that I should break the glaze on the disc rotors, using wet and dry paper. This worked reasonably well for a short while before reappearing. Then Covid appeared worldwide, a NZ early lockdown in 2020 and further investigations took a back seat. I fitted EBC HH pads during lockdown, principally because they had delivered great results on my 3 previous bikes. With lockdown lifted, the EBC pads delivered much improved stopping power on the open road but little had changed at around 20 km/hr or below. They were grabbing to the extent that it wasn't always possible to stop exactly where planned. Something needed to be done. I measured disc runout (or thickness variation) with a dial gauge to get objective information to present to my dealer, along with photos to show uneven marking on the disk where the pads had intermittent contact with the surface. It coincided with the measured runout high and low points. This is shown below. Further detail HERE .
The Service Manager and one of the technicians took the bike for some low speed braking tests and their description was relatively colourful to me, although I understand that in the formal report to KTM, the word "aggressive" was used as a more conventional description.
The original discs
With all the evidence and the support of the dealer (Boyds of Hamilton), there was no issue with KTM agreeing that they would be replaced under warranty and a few days ago, I got a call that they were ready to be fitted. A nice 340 km round trip yesterday to Hamilton to get them done.
As a brief amusing interlude regarding the photo above taken by Jennie as I headed off, I wore the silver and black leathers made in 2003 AND THEY STILL FIT! When they were brand new and I was kitting up for the very first outing, Jennie sauntered in to see what they looked like. I uttered two words to her... "Chick Magnet". Without pausing or altering her expression, she retorted "Until you take your helmet off". Brought down to earth with a resounding thud, sigh.....
The new rotors took just 40 minutes to fit before the homeward journey. The technician didn't test ride the bike, maybe with full confidence that the problem was solved.
Brand new brakes aren't particularly effective so nosing out into city traffic, a longer stopping distance was judiciously applied. However, it was obvious right from the start that there was no more "grabbing" at low speed. The lever could be feathered lightly and slow speed control was spot-on - Hallelujah! Once out in the countryside, I was able to do a series of "stoppies" from open road speeds and was rather surprised how quickly the performance increased. EBC HH pads really do the biz compared with the OEM ones.
On arriving home, the disc rotors were checked again. The photo below suggests that there will be more bedding-in to come but importantly, the marks on the disc are absolutely consistent around the full 360 degrees compared with the first photo where there was a distinct lack of consistency.
Although it would have been better to avoid the disc problem entirely, the whole business wasn't a difficult one to rectify with willing support from both the dealer and KTM. I guess gathering solid evidence and being pleasant and constructive rather than ranting and raving helps the process along too. Despite the "quirks" of owning a KTM, it hasn't dampened my enthusiasm for the brand at all. The 790 is just so much fun to ride and completely fills what I was looking for in a bike this time around. A friend thought that it was releasing the "inner hooligan" in me. To coin a well-known line from a UK TV series, "You might think that, but I couldn't possibly comment"!
Around a month ago, I took a chance and ordered a "knock off" Chinese Akarapovic carbon end can through AliExpress. The OEM muffler isn't a particularly eye-catching design feature and weighs nearly 4 kg. Although I wouldn't have forked out for a genuine Akrapovic, shedding a bit of weight and improving the appearance at a substantially lower cost was an attractive prospect. Any potential performance increase wasn't a selling point. Because it wasn't a full exhaust system and retained the catalytic converter, the ECU could handle any small changes in fuelling without having to buy more electronic trickery such as a Power Commander. Easy peasy!
It arrived a few days ago and is extremely well-made. The kit consisted of the carbon can, a link pipe to connect the can to the catalytic converter, an angle bracket and bolt, two sets of retaining springs and some adhesive-backed glass fibre tape. There were no installation instructions. Removing the OEM system and installing the new can and link pipe took about 90 minutes, being cautious to get everything spot on in terms of alignment.
Tuesday, 17 November 2020
Spring has sprung in NZ, lots of sunshine, temperatures in the mid-20's C and as the saying goes, a young man's thoughts turn to love. For ummm... more "mature" gentlemen such as me, such thoughts are not entirely consigned to history but the beautiful weather also promotes thoughts about motorcycle riding and taking the boat out with Jennie to go fishing. The last outing 3 weeks ago ended up with her having bragging rights (again) for catching more than me but at least I get to share in the bounty, even though less than subtle mickey-taking has to be endured.
Saturday, 24 October 2020
I turned 73 a week ago and when Jennie asked me earlier what I wanted for my birthday, I struggled to think of anything apart from a Lotus 7 replica. Got "THE LOOK" so that was a non-starter. I then suggested an overnighter somewhere interesting and left it to her.
Well, she came up with a cool idea and the first stop was the city of Hamilton, some 160 km from home. I know it best for being where our eldest son and his family live plus where I have the KTM serviced but it's also known for its World class municipal gardens . It's been years since we visited them and everything has changed since then. It covers around 54 hectares and is split up into various themes. It's also absolutely free to members of the public. Too big to get round in one go, we settled on a couple of hours and will go back again in the coming months. Funnily enough, Flyboy has just posted some magnificent photos and a drone video of Jacaranda trees in bloom on his blog which are well worth seeing. Onya Dave - who knew that Oz and Kiwi bikers could be sensitive, nature-loving types ;-).
First stop was through the tropical garden. We have a number of the plants in our own garden such as bromeliads and Bird of Paradise and although Hamilton gets frosts, this garden has its own microclimate.
Monday, 12 October 2020
There's been plenty going on in our neck of the woods over the last fortnight. With national school holidays, pretty nice weather and no lockdowns, families have been flocking into our area which is a popular tourist region. Good for the economy, even if the number of stupid people on the road also increases. There have been a couple of events too. One was the annual Illume festival where the village is lit up at night, as indeed are the locals together with a lovely firework display. Pretty darned good for a static population of around 1600. The photos are ones I took a couple of years ago as I didn't bother this year. The fireworks were taken from our deck, about 1km away from the action.
It was also the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the visit of the Royal Navy ship HMS Coromandel, after which the village was named. Naval vessels visited Coromandel and other northern locations on a regular basis to harvest Kauri trees which were knot-free and made wonderful spars for their sailing vessels. You could call it rape and pillage of natural resources but we won't go there!
Anyway, to mark the occasion, there was an unveiling of a seriously cool commemorative sculpture. A young local artist made a representation of HMS Coromandel with a ceramic hull and stainless steel sails. It was housed in a glass case made to look like a ship in a bottle and the timber surround was made from floorboards from the 1800's local settlers hall when it was recently refurbished. Pretty darned nice!
The climate in Coromandel is benign and the number of (slight) frosts we get in winter can easily be counted on one hand. It's a perfect climate for growing semi-tropical Bromeliads in the garden. Two large examples which we planted 5 years ago as just small plants have just developed flower spikes for the first time. They haven't opened yet but I'm worried that they might turn out to be killer Triffids as per John Wyndham's 1950's post-apocalyptic horror story! That aside, they're looking pretty cool.
Motorcycles haven't been forgotten though. Just over a week ago, I took out a serving Highway Patrol Officer for his Advanced Roadcraft Test. Trevor drives a patrol car in NZ but in the UK, he was a Class1 motorcycle cop - the best of the best and it showed! It was a near-flawless ride with a running commentary to match and boy, could he make his ST1300 shift down twisty, narrow country lanes. Made it look easy, which it wasn't of course. A really nice chap and a joy to spend the the day out with him - it's a tough life! He just rides in his spare time here and owns several modern "classic" cars and bikes.
Saving the best until last, yesterday was supposed to be an IAM monthly meeting where we do some coaching or go for a spirited social ride in the back blocks. I should have smelt a rat when Jennie asked me a couple of times during the week whether I intended to go!
Rocked up at the meeting point cafe some 100 km away and not only were there members from our local group there but a bunch of them from Auckland too. The common thread was that over the past few years, I'd either coached them directly or had a hand in coaching them to pass their advanced qualifications. STILL DIDN'T CATCH ON! It wasn't until my good mate Tony stood up and said that we were all going to have a social ride together on the 200 km Coromandel Loop as recognition of our long association. Apparently, my face was a sight to behold! I felt pretty humbled and we had a wonderful time riding one of the great north island motorcycle routes together. We even stopped at the Coroglen Tavern for lunch. Not for a beer, but so that I could enjoy my all-time favourite scallop burger! The ride finished on Coromandel Town wharf, only a few hundred metres from home which was just perfect. What an incredible day and I'm really privileged to have mates who would do something like that. Must have a bit of dust in my eye or something.....