Saturday, 18 April 2015

RD350 Replica Handlebar Installation on Electra 5s (CI)

With greased hands, it's kinda tricky to take photos, still managed to get some essential ones. These are sufficient for anyone to know what to expect from this DIY task.

Allen Key #6 for the bar-end weights


Two screws and the left switch-gear comes apart. Notice the tiny hole on handlebar, a plastic from the switchgear fits there. It restricts it from rotating around the bar when switches are pushed.




This I swear was the toughest part and was least significant one in the grand scheme of things. So when it took more time than I was ready to spend for this, I went ahead and did this...


This!! Gotta get a new set of grips now :)
[Update: Try this for grip removal instead]


Loosen the adjustment tube at the end of clutch cable near handle bar and get the clutch cable out from it's groove. Bit tricky for first timers but have patience and don't damage the cable by any chance.


Right side switch gear with the throttle assembly


Carefully remove the throttle cable from the hand grip slot.


I was lucky have a neighbour lend me his siz #17 spanner. This am gonna add to my tool kit now.


RD350 (replica) handlebar compared to Electra 5s stock handlebar


These two bolts below the handlebar would need size #14 spanners and fairly easy to take out or put in.


The groves which restricts the handlebar from rotating once tightened, are very faint on the RD350 black model. So I tried to use the saw blade from my Gerber to etch some lines. Later got some cut marks done by a mechanic on road side using a hammer and a chisel. Hope this holds up.


Before tightening all 4 screws, sit on the seat and adjust the bar to your preferred position.

Slide in the mirror and clutch assembly before putting on the switch gear.


Align the switch gear to stay exactly on the hole on the bar, the plastic bit should fit right inside.


Test all the switch operations once. Note: I had to remove the fuel tank to get access to the cables, which were required to be pulled by 2-3 inches more to fit this new extended handlebar.


First put the small drum into the grove and then use some force (and pull and release trick) to bring the clutch cable to it's path.


The adjuster screw seen here needs to be slotted in and then screwed into the lever hinge.


Final look. Yesss!!

Totally it took 2-3 hours to complete this. I am yet to add the zip ties, as I don't have black ones with me. That would complete the setup. In case you have any queries on this post/steps, feel free to post it in comments.

Update [19/04/2015] : Here is a sneak preview of the new look:









Confidence comes from experience, so get your hands dirty in things you like.

Cheers !!,

Sid

Project: Enduro Type Handlebar

So far I have been really pleased with the stock handlebar on my Electra 5s (CI). However, during my Leh tour, there were times when I felt the stress on my arms, mostly shoulders, and I faced difficulty in maneuvering my loaded bull on tricky mountain routes with stones and gravel. Though being 'fit n strong' (ahem!) helped me manage those patches, but definitely I wouldn't like to keep stressing my limbs every time I ride through such terrains. As they increase the possibility of an injury. As the trip provided tons of first hand experiences with pain being the least exciting of all, I almost forgot about it after coming back. After my return last year in August, I have done some serious off-roading, during my ride to Mandalpatti Peak. Where me and a buddy took a cycling trail through the mountains. It was hell of a fun doing off-roading(post coming soon). Only few days back I was checking online for some touring mods on my ride and all the mental notes I had taken during the Leh-trip came right back. And here I am with my first mod project: 'The Best Touring handlebar for RE Electra'.

Best Handlebars for Highway Cruising:

So far the most comfy bars I have used were on the big Harley's (partly the comfort was due to the punchy torque and comfy/plush seating). Among bulls, Thunderbird I believe has the most comfy handlebars as stock, as they keep your arms flexed at all time and hence adding no stress on long hours of highway cruising. BUT there is a catch, the cruising bars are not confidence inspiring for dirt/off-road/aggressive riding, as it provides a more pulled back seating posture. Which means, it does not give you that forward leaning stance, which off-road riding requires. Now coming to the looks of those bars, they mostly go well with a laid back cruiser looking bikes like Thunderbird (or the mighty RE Lightning 535 of yesteryear). Electra however is a totally different deal. It comes as a retro looking, blank canvas and it inspires imagination in stock form. Actually the design is very basic and that is what excites buyers (mostly seasoned bikers), to think how they can customize and make it unique. It can be given any look based on your taste. So far I have kept mine looking like a chromed cruiser with bit of vintage look and feel with the stock handlebars. However now after my extensive off-road riding (which is what most of the Leh-Ladakh route can be termed as), I am very much looking forward to try out an enduro/rally setup on my bike. More on this setup in a later post. For now, lets stick to the project at hand. 

Best Handlebars for Adventure Touring (Cruising + Off-roading):

Now I did my search and reading around to know which would be the best handle bar for my needs (touring + off-roading) of the moment. After digging around for few days, I could zero in on the 'RD350' handlebar with center rod. Its not the first time I am seeing or hearing about this particular design. Its been there since Enfields are being customized (which is like for ever!). But what convinced me for this one is the fact that, its the most commonly used handlebar on all rally/trail enfields, without exception.


DISCLAIMER: Images below are not mine and owned by their respective owners. I have used them here for reference only.






 I could guess the reason why. On mud/dirt/gravel this gives that upright stance to maneuver this heavy bike. And the center rod along with the bar-end weights takes care of the characteristic vibes generated by the bull. This bar I could feel is taller and a bit* wider than the stock handlebar, which will make cruising a bit more enjoyable am sure. Well these all are my expectations, based on my experience with similar handlebars. After riding for a while with this new set, I will definitely post an update.

The Hunt:

For this mod, instead of me going out hunting for the accessories, I posted a query in one of the RE pages on fb. Though I wasn't expecting much, but some people like Jijo, Hitesh and Anirudh came forward with suggestions and their experience with the bars etc, which turned out to be very informative. If you guys reading this post, a big 'Thank you'.

Keeping a copy of thread in case you are walking the same path while modding your steed.






The Purchase:

Initially I thought of visiting JC road with the bike and getting the job (purchase and fitting) done there. Then I got free from work a bit late and didn't had time to drop my car and pick the bike to visit JC road. So directly drove there and picked up a mint looking RD350 rally-type handlebar with center rod and end threaded holes (to fit bar-end weights) for 280 bucks. Seeing the (perceived) quality of build of this bar, I would say I am impressed. It feels sturdier than I had expected and fit and finish looks good. Have a look for yourself.


Rider side (rear) view

Front side view

Hole with threading for fitting the bar-end weights

Plastic sheet wrapping on the whole bar to protect the paint and finish. Nice touch! :)


As tomorrow is a shutdown in the city ('Karnataka Bandh' due to Kaveri water dispute), mostly all shops/garages will remain closed. I had to visit the bank for some work, but that's not gonna happen now. So why not get my hands dirty and get this rod fitted myself :) 

Morning I will get to it and if possible will try recording the process and 'gotcha's and will post the updates here. So stay tuned!!

Update [18/04/2015] : Today I swapped the handlebars. Quite a task but I enjoyed it thoroughly. Steps available in a new post, you can access here. This evening I finally took the bike out on the streets, both busy city roads (still much less than peak hour traffic though) as well as open roads where I rode a bit faster (within allowed limits of course). Here are my first impressions:

  • Shoulder and arms quite relaxed all through the ride (compared to stock)
  • It feels easy to filter through tight spaces between big vehicles moving slow on city roads (this was difficult with stock handle, as when riding slow it use to take lot of effort and strength to maneuver it)
  • Due to this newfound agility and effortless maneuvering, I think I was riding a bit faster than usual and kinda aggressively (compared to my usual riding style). I am sure this is more due to the excitement of the new setup and will mild down as I get back to riding more.
  • The bike no more feels like a cruiser from rider's PoV. It looks and feels more like a dirt/enduro bike (not sure what else I was expecting here! lol)
I think a long trip would help me in evaluating the new setup in detail. Will try and update that when it happens.

Update [05/05/2015] : Completed a 1200 KMs trip through Tamilnadu and Kerala and could confirm the new handlebar is a gem. Lots of ghat section riding too and really happy with the way the motorcycle handles now with the new setup.


Ride Safe & Ride Far,

Sid




Friday, 17 April 2015

New domain name booked : www.iluvriding.com

Hello there,


For the convenience of typing a shorter URL (/website address), which is easy to remember, a friend suggested me to have a paid domain name. So after a bit of thinking around the subject, I decided to retain the blog's original name: "I Luv Riding" and made it a ".com" :) So you can now access this blog using any of the following:


iluvriding.com

www.iluvriding.com

or

iluvriding.blogspot.com  (will still work!)


Hope this makes the pages available to you with less effort of typing and memorizing, as it did for me:)


PS: I think I lost the facebook and Google+ likes and comments, when I transitioned to the new domain. But it's ok as long as the page contents are intact:)


Drop by from time to time to be in touch,

Sid

Monday, 13 April 2015

'Nail Mafia' - say what now ??

Hi,

Please don't worry, this news is not that level of a concern as few of you might have imagined (all thanks to the series of movies that's been made on this subject). Recently while scrolling through Bangalore Traffic Police page on facebook, I came across the term 'Nail Mafia' and out of curiosity read the whole post to realize that, it's a scam that was recently busted by Bangalore Traffic Police. Great job guys!! Again, I feel this is nothing new and more or less we (Indians) have already been aware of it. Good to know that cops are being supportive and nabbing such people. All thanks to social media posts and discussions which brings such minor yet troublesome incidents to the attention of authorities. In case you are getting too restless to know what the heck is it that am talking about, read this post:


Now this incident made me realise that most of the people whom I met and were interested in touring on motorcycle, shared one common concern. Which is "what if the bike (tyres) gets punctured?".

Now if you have already gone through this phase of worrying about punctures (like me), it might sound a bit silly. However when I recall my initial days with tripping on motorcycles, I too always stayed within city limits, just for this reason. So I can totally empathise with the newbie riders here.

So lets delve into this topic and I will share some advice (which may not be the best advice ever, but have worked for me), on what to do during a puncture scenario. For those of you, wanting to get rid of your fear of a flat tyre, read on..

First, Cheer up !!!

Now having ridden enough distance on motorcycles, I can tell you, puncture is not something you should be worried about too much. In case of a puncture if you could afford the time and tools and have a spare tube (recommended), you will be back on your way in no time. Someone has rightly said, "Prevention is the best possible cure". So lets take quick look at few simple things which are responsible for punctures, like stopping at the side of the road.

Things to know while pulling over to the side of the road:

I have been suggested by many experienced mechanics/riders to be watchful while pulling the bike over to the side of the road for the following reasons:

  • Metal pieces, broken glass, nails (taken out from other unfortunate vehicle tyres) and even tools (there are many on the Leh-Ladakh route) eventually end up on the side of the road
  • Some punks may purposely drop nails (as we got to know from above post) on the side of the road to target two-wheelers, to make a quick buck
  • Road surface may not be even/safe for bike to stop
  • Sometime gravel on the side might have sharp stones which may damage the tyres if run over unintentionally
  • Level of the ground on the road side may be too low, which may cause one to loose balance or fall off when trying to get down
I hope above points are more than enough to make you be watchful and a tad bit extra careful while pulling over. 

Now as you are smarter now to avoid common mistakes which usually causes a puncture, you are reducing your chances of facing one. BUT just in case, if and when you do face one, following information will come in handy. 

Given below is a step-by-step guide to learn what to do when you/a friend ends up with a flat tyre during a long trip and you see no tyre repairing shops in vicinity:

The moment you realise that your tyre is losing/already lost air:
  • If you are on a roll as it happens, have a quick glance at your rear-view mirrors (especially to your left), switch on your left blinkers and slowly steer your bike towards the left edge of the road and come to a slow rolling halt.
  • NOTE: When tubes are punctured, they lose air slowly enough for you to feel a wobble. So the sooner you realise and initiate your exit to the side of the road, the safer it is.
  • Take a deep breath and accept that you have a flat tyre. Yes, it will take some time now and will possibly delay your ride schedule by 1-2 hours, so better accept this and stop cursing your fate/the road/your stars/etc. Doing this will help you stay calm and relaxed and you will make less mistakes in the following steps.
  • Push the bike to a safe place on the road side away from any moving traffic, possibly to some shade where you can work peacefully on the bike.
  • Take off the helmet and gloves (and jacket if it is summer) and keep it safely/securely on the handlebar (if you are to remove your rear wheel) or on the passenger seat (if you need to remove the front wheel). 1) this will help add some weight to keep the side of the bike floating, once the wheel is removed and 2) in India if you are riding in summer, by wearing all the insulated gear, you might dehydrate while trying to fix your wheel because of the heat and exhaustion.
  • Take the tools out which will help you to remove the wheel and tube.
  • Take out the spare tube and keep it handy.

NOTE:
Do not ride a bike when its punctured : (unless its the only option left for you due to some unknown reason) - Riding a bike with a deflated Tyre will not only damage the tube, it will damage the tyre as well as the wheel (/rim).

While removing the wheel, things to remember:
  1. Rear wheel : Mark the position of the adjusters before you open the wheel axle
  2. Front wheel : keep the metal bushes clean and safe when you pull out the axle out and also do not press the front disc brake lever when the disc is out


Simple high-level steps to replace the tube:
  1. First thing to do is put the bike on center stand : so that the punctured wheel can rotate freely, then rotate, find out and remove the nail/item that caused the puncture (in rare cases the valve stem or the valve might have caused the air to leak, so investigate properly before coming to a conclusion)
  2. Remove the bolt from the outside and take the valve out safely and keep it in a clean place
  3. Push the valve stem softly, yet firmly into the rim : until it goes completely inside (and no more visible on the rim). This step will avoid the stem to break from the tube, which makes the tube useless 
  4. Use tyre rods to break the bead of the tyre : Do this step very carefully and avoid using screwdriver for this work as the sharp side often times damages the tube further.
  5. Once the tyre is off the rim on one side, reach out for the valve stem and take it out from one side :  Then work your way around the whole tube from underneath the tyre until its completely out.
  6. Patch it or replace it with a new one : I suggest keep a new tube on long rides, that's more reliable than a patched tube and takes no time to swap with the punctured one. You can use the same valve, if that's not causing any leaks)
  7. Follow the same process in reverse order but in more watchful manner : as the worst thing that could happen in this process is you may damage the new tube just to stop on the road again (Trust me people do this more often than you may think and they will tell tyre puncture is hell. Well clearly it is not, if we are patient and careful.)
  8. Inflate using a Compressor/Hand-pump.

Be careful with the mechanics:
If you happen to find a mechanic to do the above work for you, be vigilant while Step 5, 6 and 7 are performed. As this is the time, they try to damage the tube or introduce new punctures, just to fleece you, especially if you are already disturbed due to the incident of the puncture. Staying calm and composed, helps you here as well ! See, I told ya so;)


Now if you want to see the above steps in pictures, just head over to one of my older posts available here:

Replacing Front Tyre / Tube  [ 2014 > August ]


Hope this information helps you be more confident on the road. If you find this post/site useful, or if you have some suggestion/tips to share, do leave a message in comments. And before we part, here is an inspiring video to watch and appreciate:



Still you think you can't do something?!!

Cheers !!

Sid

Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Story of Recovery

Howdy Folks,

had I been an avid blogger (or at least a regular one), this post would have appeared in the month of January this year, when I was bedridden, after injuring my knee. This happened during my vacation, and I was travelling to Calcutta with my family. Ever since I have been on a long hiatus from motorcycling. I usually don't discuss health, wealth and personal life online. However I felt obliged to mention of this experience in my (web) diary here, as it has more impact on my riding for last few months, than on any other part of my day to day life. Basically I happen to injure the ligament in my knee, which though was not so bad to stop me from walking around, but restricted my range and agility quite a bit for all this while. Most physios suggested a restrictive lifestyle to more suite the injury, which made me switch physios than my mindset about how to live my life. Remember 'don't stop until you find what you looking for'. And not long before one my friend referred me to a physio who is experienced and had worked with athletes (i.e. the kind of people, for whom sitting at home is not an option!), who was one to say, that I can get back to my riding with required exercises. It took me roughly one month to get rid of the metal knee braces (yeah ticked that off my done-that list. lol) and two months to get back to normal day to day things like driving my car, walking for long hours, climbing stairs and other similar stuff involving legs. Here is a tip for anyone who has faced or facing any health/fitness related challenges which affected your confidence for the right reasons. Well, you can achieve any level of strength and conditioning, provided you first believe so in your mind. Rest all just follows. Again, always listen to your body, as not to stress it beyond what it can take (not what you think it can take). Hope that makes sense. And yes, do give yourself some time, especially if you are my kind, who is always up to something, you would benefit the most from such a (much needed) break. Honestly I never thought I needed a break, but trust me, it helped me in many different ways. As I look back, here are few things I did during these past few months, when I was off the saddle:


  • Cooking : Started cooking (after years!) some simple (yet healthy) meals at home for a change
  • Reading : Caught up with some books, I had parked on the shelf for a while
  • Driving : Drove quite a lot during these last few months to many far away places with friends, in the comfort of a car :)
  • Programming : Worked a bit on one of the area of my interest; mobile apps
  • Finances : Wrapped up some long pending stuff with my finance/investments which I was dodging, because I was busy 

Yeah, so the benefits really outweighed my possible complains of not able to ride my bike. I am really happy looking back at the things I faced and learned. Now pushing myself to the next level of things. Getting back to jogging and gymming is next on my agenda and am currently building myself up for it. Not sure how much time it will take though, but am perfectly fine taking it slow, as long as am improving. Wish me luck.

Few days after the injury and this is as far as I can fold my right knee..

A day after the injury. Here the swelling has actually reduced a bit.

@ Victoria Memorial Hall, this was the only trouser which could hide the knee bandage inside.

After the initial scolding about my love for motorcycling, mom was happy to have me around the house with her:) Being at home wasn't so bad after all.

At Bhubaneswar airport after a restful (*pun intended) vacation, leaving for Bangalore..

Now starting this year, other than my career and personal life, I was supposed to work on planning my next motorcycle tour. However that got a bit sidelined due to the course of events I explained just now. As am working on myself now, all the possibilities are coming right back. Currently am chasing up the Bangalore RTO folks to issue my new registration number for Karnataka. Then have few things to iron out on my bike and of course some touring mods (I will discuss on this on another upcoming post). Not to mention that finances have to be worked out, as there are many commitments at home, which is how it's always has been and always gonna be!! :)


Hope this post inspires you to overcome your personal challenges, both stronger and better in every possible way.



Ride Safe & Ride Far,

Sid