Wheel alignment

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Look what Santa brought ........

Since buying the Suzuki in October, using the paddock stand which was purchased for the Street Triple has been a perilous activity.  The swingarm lifting bobbins on the Suzuki are significantly lower than on the Triple.  What this means in practical terms is that you need muscles like the Incredible Hulk to rotate the paddock stand over centre and get the rear wheel off the deck.  Because the bike only has a side stand, it means that you have to hold the bike vertically with one hand to engage the bobbins whilst pushing down on the stand with the other.  A recipe for disaster if ever there was one and the one heart-stopping moment was one too many!

A casual conversation with fellow IAM member Rob Van Proemeren (cheers mate!) revealed that he had bought a UK-made ABBA Superbike stand for his Hayabusa and was well-satisfied with how easy it was to use, plus the excellent stability it gave the bike.  What's more, there was an ABBA agent based in Nelson, NZ - Christmas present from Jennie solved!

Today was the first opportunity I've had to try it out and what a dream it is to use!  The system doesn't use swingarm bobbins but instead, locates on the swingarm pivot shaft to lift from - a totally secure method. Referring to the photo below, the stand consists of two main parts which clamp together.  When ordering, you state the make and model of the bike and they send the correct attachments to lock onto the swingarm pivot.

ABBA Superbike stand components

Assembling it is a piece of cake.  The left hand part of the stand is engaged onto the pivot whilst the bike is on its side stand and the handle extended for good leverage.

Left hand component put into place

Same procedure for the right hand component, sliding it over the left hand one and tightening the thumbscrew.  Any slack is taken out by turning the large screw until it's a snug fit.

Right hand component locked in place

The next step is to hold the bike vertically with one hand on the handlebars.  It can't fall as it's supported by the stand.  Simply pull forward on the extended lever and up it pops with minimal effort!

Raised rear and rock solid!

Rear view

Forward view

The stand provides a perfectly stable platform for cleaning, chain lubing and adjustment or whatever.  I'm anal about wheel alignment so it also provides support for my home-built laser alignment rig ( SEE HERE ). There is an additional attachment which allows both wheels to be lifted clear of the ground at the same time and that is shown in the photos below.  As well as being able to remove the front wheel without a front paddock stand or some other form of jury-rigging, it will be perfect for taking accurate suspension extension measurements.  At present, the standard suspension settings are far too harsh for my weight and general NZ road conditions.  Taking front and rear suspension extension measurements is the first step in properly setting up the suspension for my specific needs.  As well as better handling and a more comfortable ride, correctly set up suspension can also significantly increase tyre life.  All these benefits from buying a decent stand - who'd have thought it!!!

Finally, a plug for the NZ agent  who was a pleasure to deal with.  Rapid service and a great product - this is their website: ABBA Stands NZ

Both wheels clear of the deck with easy to use attachment

Front view with both wheels clear

Monday 7 December 2015

A Run in the Sun

Due to commitments as an IAM Observer, I haven't done a lot of social riding recently so yesterday was an opportunity not to be missed.  The IAM Auckland and Central North Island region organised a social run out to Raglan, a coastal village famous for its surfing and fish and chips on the wharf.

400 km of heaven!

The sun shining, minimal traffic - what could be better?  Arriving half an hour early at the meeting point in the village of Te Kauwhata, at least half the team were there already, keen to make the most of a lovely day.  The route had been organised by Lloyd, one of my trainees as he knows the area well.  It contains some of the best back-roads for bikes that you'll find anywhere.  Hardly any straight roads and varying from fast sweepers to highly technical tight stuff with sudden elevation changes; not to mention stunning views if you could take your eyes off the road for a second or two!

 Some of the bikes meeting at Te Kauwhata

There was a great mix of bikes on the run - sport bikes, sport tourers, adventure and a big cruiser (more on that later!).  The common factor was that all the riders are trained to the Police Roadcraft system.  This means that you know how each rider is going to react and position themselves for any given set of circumstances which makes for an enjoyable and stress-free ride.  Lloyd was to lead the ride and the system of the second rider stopping at every turn until the last rider had gone past ensured that no-one got lost on the tricky back roads!

A fast, smooth pace was set by Lloyd up front and the roads were so twisty that I don't think I got past 4th gear on the GSX-S on the run down to Raglan and much of it was in 2nd and 3rd!  No dramas whatsoever, even with the odd sheep and pheasant out on the road and we all arrived at Raglan with big smiles inside our helmets.

Geoff's GSX-S and Terry's Beemer GS at Raglan.  
(photo courtesy of Tessa)

Geoff, Steve and Lloyd - fish and chips on Raglan wharf.  Doesn't come any fresher!
(photo courtesy of Tessa)

Nice vista for lunch

With clouds gathering, it was time to get back on the road and start heading north.

Getting ready to hit the road
(photo courtesy of Tessa)

Steve, motorcycle cop extraordinaire waiting for the off on his V-Strom 1000
(photo courtesy of Tessa)

Up front, Lloyd set a great pace again and had chosen another outstanding route back to Te Kauwhata.  The back roads north west of Huntly were my personal favourites - all second gear stuff and very little time spent upright!  Don't think there's more than another 1000 km left in the rear tyre though so it will be worn out in under 4000 km.

Terry, Steve W, Steve B-J and Lloyd looking at rear tyres!

One of the Riders, Lee, who owns several bikes; brought his Victory cruiser on the ride and I'm sure there were quite a few who were a little more than interested in how it would cope in the twisties. The answer was impressively well, flicking from side to side with little apparent effort from Lee and no wallowing over rough surfaces.  I'm sure his butt was in better condition than mine at the end of the day too!  However, he did cop a bit of gentle teasing about the large mirror situated in the lid of his top-box!  

Lee's 106 cu. in (1737cc) Victory

Even has a mirror in the top-box lid to help combat helmet hair!

The Suzuki performed extremely well.  Despite a lot of the ride being done in the lower gears, it still returned not far short of 300 km per tankful.  I guess trying to be smooth on and off the throttle had some bearing on this. However, the twisty sections with rough surfaces made for plenty of rider input in terms of countersteering and hanging on when it was jumping about.  At present, the suspension is set far too hard for NZ's back roads so there's a bit of work to be done setting sag, compression and rebound damping in the next week or two. 

What a fantastic day!  A superb ride set and lead by Lloyd, 400 km of twisties with skilled riders who all have a great sense of humour - what could be better than that?  I slept well last night!