Thursday, 13 August 2015

Ride Report: Adventure Without Limits Charity Ride

This is so old now but thought I should post it. This happened back on July 18, 2015. It was a charity ride for the Cerebral Palsy Association in Alberta. 

This group ride was also the first leg of Alan Connor's solo ride to the Arctic Circle. Shot on my Garmin VIRB helmet cam.

Monday, 13 April 2015

A100 Restoration: Sprockets, Chains, and Stuff

Some progress has been made on the A100 out of province inspection mission. Keep in mind - my goal is to do the absolute minimum to get this bike to pass the inspection so I can register it. Once it is registered, I plan to tear it all apart and restore it properly.

Here is a list of things I've done recently:

  • Checked brake wear
  • Changed oil (both the CCI and Transmission oil)
  • Adjusted clutch 
  • Added reflectors (more on that later)
  • Changed both sprockets and the chain
  • Fixed high/low beam switch which had rattled loose and required a wee bit of soldering

Here are a couple images from changing the sprockets:

Old vs. New

The pump for the 2-stroke oil injection
(note all the dirt, he wasn't lying when he said it was a farm bike)
I also was forced to add some RIDICULOUS reflectors for the inspection because Alberta law requires amber reflectors on the front of the bike and reds on the rear. Of course, the first thing anyone does when they get a new bike here is remove these eyesores. I made a trip to Princess Auto to re-eyesore this bike. Yuck.

Here is a shot of the brake shoes if anyone is interested.

The little cam on the right rotates when brake is applied which pushes shoes against drum

Also here is a shot of the stock regulator which is giving me all this trouble:
And here is a photo of the inside of the headlight/signal switch casing. Luckily, the loose wire was immediately identified and I repaired it with little difficulty. I'm always nervous taking apart little fiddly bits like this in case I can't get them back together, Top tip: take photos!!!

Until next time.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

A100 Restoration: Regulators and Regulation Issues


Good news: my diode arrived in the mail! This is the zener diode which I was going to use as a regulator. Bad news: is that the headlight is just as dim with the new one. I believe that I might actually need a bidirectional zener diode to use as the regulator - this would give me the full regulated wave rather than just the half which I had with my first attempt. New zeners have been ordered which I will use to try to construct the second iteration by putting 2 regular 50W zeners in series as shown below:

This circuit should produce an AC signal clamped between (Vz + Vf) and -(Vz + Vf) where Vz is the zener voltage and Vf is the forward voltage of the zener. Hopefully it looks something like this:

Left: From engine, Right: After Regulator

In any case, I will give it a try.


My other problem: for some reason Nordic Insurance requires that I register my bike within a certain time period of insuring the bike. This is different from my previous dealing with Intact Insurance. I am now unable to get my inspection done in time so the insurance policy will have to lapse. Unfortunately this means I will lose a bit of money. I thought I was being clever and proactive by getting my insurance sorted out so quickly, It is very annoying indeed. 

Anyway, more parts and stuff has been arriving lately in the mail. Will update on all that soon.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Motorcycle Observations YYC - Episode 1

Little break from the A100 content (mode coming soon though!) to show a quick helmet camera shot of this guy generally being an ass. Just caught a glimpse of this clown in my mirror before he decided to pass me in the same lane.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

A100 Restoration: Electrical Investigations

The date of the inspection draws nearer and I've checked most of the items on the list. Brakes seem good, a new chain and sprockets are on the way, brake lights work, signal lights work, transmission works, etc.

The one thing which I am seriously worried about at this point is the headlight circuit. As it stands, the headlight only comes on VERY dimly when the engine is running. 

Free Wiring Diagrams - Suzuki A100 & AX100

I managed to track down some wiring diagrams from online sources and also from the Haynes Manual I purchased. They are provided here just in case they are of use to someone else.

After examining the wiring diagram and getting some insight from a person on advrider I came to the conclusion that the voltage regulator was faulty. Funny thing: if you look at the Haynes diagram, the regulator is actually not shown.

Electrical Engineering with Tom

Back in 1975, voltage regulators were simple. This particular one is constructed with a resistor an a zener diode. It is called a shunt regulator and the diagram is more or less like this:

Vs represents the output from the magneto. Vs on the bike is alternating. Dz is the zener diode. R2 represents a headlight. 

Here is my super simplified explanation about what is going on: The zener diode is a diode in reverse. Basically, as the voltage across the zener gets high enough, the zener will go into breakdown, allowing current to flow across it such that the voltage across the zener is fixed to Vz (in this case it should be  ~6V for our headlights) 

It is important to note that the zener still acts as a regular diode in the other direction, so when Vs goes below 0V (is negative) the output will be clamped to a maximum of about 0.7V. Here is what we would expect the input and output functions to look like if everything were ideal:

Note that at its peak, the engine is outputting Vs_max (probably ~18V or so) and Vz is about 6V. Youmight ask, where does this voltage go? It is actually lost over R1 such that VR1 is Vs-Vz when Vs is greater than Vz. Also note that the zener does not come into effect when the Vs is between -0.7V and Vz.

In any case, I believe that the zener on my bike is faulty and actually breaking down much sooner than 6V. My suspicions seem to be confirmed by multimeter readings of about 2V across the headlight when idling. I've since ordered a new zener diode with a Vz of 6.3V from someone in Florida. 

My backup plan to pass the inspection if the zener does not arrive is to omit it so the voltage will be unregulated. I pulled it and started the engine in the garage and the headlight lit up very brightly indeed. The only concern is burning out the bulb.

Monday, 16 March 2015

A100 Restoration: DMV Hell

Alberta registries are a racket.

The chap who sold me the bike claimed it had never been registered and I hoped this would mean it would not need an Out Of Province Inspection (OOP inspection). When I've bought bikes in the past I always:

  1. Bought insurance
  2. Went to the registry with said insurance and registered the bike
In that order. So that is what I tried to do. I contacted my insurance company (big shoutout to Touchstone Insurance for the best rates/service I've come across in YYC) and got hooked up. 

VIN History with Tom

Ok, so I had to take a guess at what the VIN of the bike was. You see, VINs were not actually standardized in Canada until 1980. Obviously the guy who sold me the bike had no documentation as he didn't even think the bike had ever been registered. The number stamped on the frame went something like: A100-XXXXXX. Obviously the first part is the model and I learnt that the second part was likely just a serial number indicating which number off the line this bike was. Modern VINs have 17 characters which tell you all kinds of things about the vehicle. I provided the whole 10 digits to the insurance company, who issued me a temporary insurance doc and told me they needed the registration ASAP to keep the policy going. The Alberta Registry I went to (our version of the DMV I guess) was unable to enter the full 10 digits as their computer system rejected the format. They just went with the 6 digits and left it at that. Oddly, they told me that the bike had been registered in Quebec. I suspect the number they found was actually some other poor chap's bike (as it is possible with these old VINs that you will have a duplicate VIN belonging to a different make and model). But I was exhausted from arguing with the registry people so I decided to just take what they were offering. 


Annoyingly they did say I'd need an OOP. 


Now I actually have to get this bike road ready before I can register it. The permit to get the OOP was about $20. The OOP is a thing you need to get done if you have bought a vehicle from out of Alberta. It involves getting a professional mechanic to look over the bike and deem it safe or unsafe for use on AB roads. I have heard a lot of horror stories of mechanics nitpicking tiny windshield chips or body rust on these thing when people have got their cars inspected. 

The trouble is, the mechanic can charge whatever they want for the inspection knowing full well if they find something you probably will just pay them to fix it to pass the inspection. Talk about a conflict if interest. I asked a friend for some advice on where to go and he recommended a shop here in town which he reckoned would be fair with their evaluation. I chose this shop over other (cheaper) shops based on his recommendation. I booked myself in for the end of the month to give myself a bit of time for some maintenance.

I did manage to find a document which says what they will check. Click here if you are interested. The good stuff starts on page 35.


Clip of the ol' girl gurgling away in the garage - at least the engine seems to be in good nick. She's obviously lacking in the electrical department hence the lack of headlight.

P.S. Also bought some parts, an owners manual and a service manual. Will update when stuff starts coming in!

Friday, 13 March 2015

A100 Restoration: A New Project

Welcome to the first post in what should be an excellent and most triumphant motorcycle restoration series. I've fancied doing a restoration for a while after seeing these guys at the Calgary Motorcycle Show a couple years ago and now I have my chance.

The Vision:

I saw the bike come up on Kijiji. It was in Saskatchewan and the chap said in an email that it had never been registered anywhere. From my research online, it appeared to me that this would mean it would not need an out of provice inspection to register in AB (more on that later). So a road trip was planned to Shaunavon Saskatchewan which is 5 hours away from Calgary and in the middle of nowhere. After many miles and a couple Tim Horton's coffees we arrived to find a treasure trove of old bikes in a workshop. Turns out that the guy was a retired oil guy who loves restoring bikes. The A100 was going to be his "going to coffee" bike but he had picked up a new bike which he liked better. I do not know how he decides which bike to work on each day as he seems to have about 10 on the go!

The Workshop
The Bike:

The bike was in decent shape cosmetically and mechanically. Obviously it needed a good painting and some dent filling and probably a bit of mechanical work. The chrome was in great shape and their was very little rust on the frame. Overall, everything was there. He fired it up on the first kick - a good sign. Blue smoke poured out of the exhaust pipe and into the chilly winter air. Satisfied, I paid the man and headed home with my prize. Total purchase price: $1000.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Riding The Big Island - Ride Report and Video!

I wanted to use this blog to chronicle some of my adventures since getting my bike last year, but I never had the time during the summer (too busy riding). Decided for my first post I'd do a bit of a write up of some riding I did while on vacation in Hawaii. Perhaps next summer, I'll have a bit more time to talk about my adventures here in the Americas.

The Bikes
We rented a V-Strom 650 and a KLR 650 from the good folks at Hawaiian Adventure Rentals and toured the big island in style! Started the day out in Captain Cook where we picked up the bikes. Jason had our two reserved bikes, a KLR650 and V-Strom 650 all ready to go. The bikes were in fantastic condition and had luggage. Signed a couple papers, loaded up the bikes  and off we went!

The Route (roughly)
Leg 1 - Captain Cook to Waimea
Jason's wife gave us some suggestions on some good roads and a route suggestion. We decided to start by heading up north through Kona to Waimea. I started out on the KLR. The road from Hawaiian Adventure Rentals to Kona is delightfully twisty and runs right along the coast. What a treat! The section from Kona to Waimea is significantly more straight but offers sea views and farms. We stopped in Waimea for some sushi for lunch at Aka Sushi Bar. Delicious! When we asked the waiter if he though we had ordered enough food for the two of us he said "Well, if you are planning on riding around the entire island, you might want a some more."
Japanese bike, Japanese Cuisine 

Leg 2 - Waimea to Waipio Valley
We decided to continue east to Waipio, one of the places I'd read had an excellent view. The road to the lookout is beautiful. It's covered in trees and is quite narrow and twisty.The parking lot/picnic area at Waipio Valley overlook is crowded and cramped. We had a look at the view, and headed back to the bikes.
Not Pictured: Crowds
Leg 3 - Waipio Valley to Low Store Deli and Fruit Stand
We started south towards Hilo. We were treated breathtaking sweeping corners and the occasional bridge. Each bridge crossing provided a magnificent sea view to the left and views of lush valleys and hillsides to the right - epic riding indeed. Even on the KLR (which my dad describes as an old farm tractor) the corners were way too much fun. Soon the corners ended and we were back on the straight. We were very quickly distracted by a 'Scenic Route' sign off to the left. I'm glad we took that turn because down that road was a small store called Low Store Deli and Fruit Stand. They advertised fresh fruit smoothies and did not disappoint! Definitely worth a stop if you are in the area. 1.5 smoothies later, we were on our way again.
Low Store - Frickin' great smoothies
The bikes chillin' outside Low Store
Leg 4 - Low Store to Hilo
We reluctantly left the smoothie paradise, this time with me on the V-Strom. What a difference! Compared to the vibrating butt massager I had been riding, the 'Strom felt smooth as silk. The trip to Hilo was fun and had some narrow roads with a few single lane bridges. Realizing we had forgotten to set our trip odometers before leaving we though it would be wise to fill up the bikes in Hilo. The United States is absolutely ridiculous about their gasoline. The machines wont take a credit card without a zip code (which us Canadians do not have) so they expect you to go in to the store and magically guess how much fuel you'd like. After a bit of convincing, the cashier agreed to just hold onto the credit card until we were fueled and then charge it. What a hassle.

Leg 5 - Mountain Stage
The plan was to head West on Saddle Road to get back to the West coast and then follow the water back to the hotel in Kona. Again, we were distracted by a sign for an access road to Mauna Kea. We decided to take detour up the volcano. The road was twisty and I had a goofy grin on my face all the way up. The road was not busy at all, so imagine our surprise when we found a large building and enormous parking lot filled with vehicles near the summit.  Apparently this was the place to be to see the sunset. We dismounted and walked up the remainder of the volcano to have a gander at the gorgeous view. We didn't stay right until sunset because it was bloody cold up there and we were dressed for Hawaiian riding.

Leg 5 - How do You Get Down from a Mountain?
As we began our decent we had to drop through the cloud layer we were just above. Visibility went down as a result of the fog and night time. I couldn't help but recall the time my SV650S (witch has an identical engine to the V-Strom) lost a front cylinder due to fog condensing around the spark plug. Luckily, V-Strom 650 did not develop V-Strom 325 syndrome and we made it through the fog. The remaining ride was curvey and a bit cold, but I didn't want it to end. We arrived back at the hotel in the tired but smiling.
What a day
I cut together some Garmin VIRB helmet cam footage of the experience.