Valve Clearance Fun

Valve clearances is not the most fun thing you can do with an SV650.

That said, its really not that hard. Here is what I did:

  • Remove seats
  • Remove Tank
  • Remove front fairings (See next point)
  • Drain Coolant and remove radiator (you probably need to replace the coolant anyway on this service, worth it for easier access)
  • Remove Valve covers

Now we can begin! Checking the valve clearances is well documented in the proper Suzuki manual, simply a case of rotating the engine to a set position on using feeler gauges to find the clearance. I was not the most happy person in the world to find all 4 rear cylinder valves were 1 thou too tight. Things got better when the front turned out to be in spec.

So then its cam chain tensioner out, and cams out, tappets out (keeping them very carefully labelled!) and finally you get to the shim, a small piece of steel 7.48mm in diameter and available in 0.05mm increments of thickness. Some quick cross referencing of your current clearnace and shim size with Suzuki’s SV Bible and then you can order the new shims from the interwobble.

I now have the shims, and fully plan to remember to take photos tonight when i start putting the thing back together. After that, this is a job I can ignore for another 15,000 miles :-) .

Quick Update on the SV

So far I have the carbs working smoothly again after cleaning and lubing all the linkages. Throttle and clutch cables seem fine, as do the fuel lines.

I have ordered a vacuum hose kit from SV-Bits – as syncing the SV carbs is notorious for limited access to the front carbs vac nipple. This simple kit extends both vac points to be easily accessible under the tank and is a doddle to fit while you happen to have the carbs off.

Further plans for Feb include:

  • Proper clean of the bike
  • Replace broken dash bulbs, probably with LED units to ensure long life
  • Valve clearance check
  • Service including all filters

That should get me ready to rock. It will probably need a new rear tyre too before long, the current one has had a few too many motorway miles and has squared.

SV650 Overhaul Begins

2 weeks ago I moved house. For the first time ever, I have a garage :-) .

SV overhaul begins

So its time to overhaul my SV650, which has done 33,000 miles – 24,000 of them with me riding it. It has spent 3 years out in the wind and the rain, with only essential maintenance. I have kept it serviced and it has done me proud – the only mechanical failure it has ever had was a snapped clutch cable.

So its now in my garage, tank and plastics off ready for some TLC before spring and the chance to do more epic trips.

Motorcycle Test Part 2

This post is a long time overdue. On the 17th of September 2009, I passed part 2 of the Direct Access (DAS) Motorcycle test.

I’m a very happy bunny now – I am entitled to go out and buy whatever bike takes my fancy (and that I can insure :-( )…..

The test itself went well – I was stressed totally in the run up to it but made it through. The most interesting aspect is that the examiner did my test while following in a car. This was unexpected! Apart from dropping him a bit when accelerating into a 60mph limit it was all fine. One advantage being there is often a car between you and him – lessening the pressure of close observation. The only manoeuvres left in the test are pulling out from behind a parked car and a hill start – everything else is in the Motorcycle test Part 1.

I struggled with 1 junction – I’m never sure if I should wait for a gap big enough for the examiner to get out into or just to ride normally. In this case I realised I was hesitating and just got on with riding normally.

After a 30 or so minute ride taking in some of Harrogate town centre and some national limit roads, we returned to the test centre and I was told I had passed. I got a single minor for observation.

So there we go – L plates removed and time to go buy a bigger bike.

Motorcycle test part 1

2 Weeks ago I took and passed part one of my Direct Access (DAS) motorcycle test. This is the new test that received a lot of medai attention and took well over a year longer than planned to roll out.

The entire test takes place in a specialised test centre, off the road. Its like an advanced CBT, but requires more space as two components involve speeds of 30mph plus – the emergency stop and the swerve. This test removes the need for some elements of the on road (part 2) test – the emergency stop and U-Turn are dealt with along with pushing the bike, using the stand, slow riding, a slalom and a figure eight.

I did the test on a 500cc bike to enable me to go straight into a full licence. Training wise I did 4 2 hour sessions of training with 3d Motorcycle training of Harrogate plus a half day on the road to get used to the bike a little more. Its was all about clutch control and balance for me as I have become lazy and tend to use my feet where I end up going slowly. I also did a lot of U-Turn and figure 8 practice on the 125 to supplement.

I passed with no minors ;-) . I had to redo the Swerve as my first attempt clocked 49kmh – the minimum is 50. Attempt number 2 was dead on the 50 – so a pass. The swerve is nothing severe – perhaps moving 1m to the right at 30mph and then correcting back onto your original line. I would say it simulates the kind of avoidance you would quite realistically have to perform should a car edge out in front, or a pedestrian or a car door opening etc. To have a problem you really would have to brake hard while steering – but thats not stopped broken arms already! Those taking the test on 125cc bikes have to accelerate quite hard to hit the required speed in the available space as well.

Next up is 3 more days of on road lessons and a part 2 on road test. Then I can buy a big bike!

Commuting in the wet

Today was the first properly wet day that I have commuted into work on the motorbike for. Getting motivated was tricky, but I parked my car in a seriously small space last night and did not fancy trying to extract it either so the bike won ;-) . I have a ALDI armoured waterproof jacket which does a good job, with the lining zipped in today I was warm and dry. I have not yet bought equivalent pants, so it was my leathers with waterproof over trousers. My gloves and boots do a good job of keeping the water out and I was comfortable all the way. My neck is the only unprotected area and I plan to buy at least a Buff to my collection of gear for riding.

My Alpkit Gourdon 20 rucksack maintains its 100% waterproof record – an excellent bit of kit by a great company. The tank bag with rain cover also did its job, allowing me to bring in a full set of work clothes.

All in all really not a problem. More money saved, more time saved and more time spent on the motorcycle which I enjoy. Commuting is going well! Its still hammering down anyway, so I’ll be back out in the rain in half an hour.

Motorcycle Commuting

I have now been commuting 20 miles each way to work on a 125cc motorcycle for about a month now. I have come to some conclusions:

  • It’s cheap – 110mpg
  • It’s fast – filter through the traffic
  • It’s more fun

What I really wonder about is why so few people use motrobikes to commute. Travelling in South East Asia recently you see huge numers of motorcycles – Vietnam has very very few cars but millions of little Hondas. I’m saving money, the enviroment and also saving all the lazy people in cars a bit of time as I’m not making the queues 5m longer.

First of all here are the rough costs:
Bike: £400 for a 2000 Suzuki GS125 – simple, reliable and capale of doing 70mph flat.
Clothes: £100 odd for second hand Leathers, boots new gloves and a cheapo rain suit.
Luggage: £50 for a waterproof rucksack and a simple magnetic tankbag.
Helmet: £50 for a basic flip front lid.
Insurance: £110 for the bike in Harrogate.
CBT: £80 for a days training.
So thats less than £1k all up, and the bike should fetch most of what I paid when I sell it.

Running Costs, Weekly, 40 miles per day, 99.9p for unleaded
Car (1992 Golf GTI) – 32mpg = £27.90 in fuel
Bike (Suzuki GS125) – 110mpg = £8.25 in fuel
Thats a big saving of £19.65 per week, or £943 for 48 weeks per year of work. That covers the full cost of the bike and equipment after year one of commuting – including tax (£15), training and insurance. In year 2, the savings would be around £800. The bike needs servicing every 2500 miles – a liter of oil, a filter and some mechanical checks cost the DIY mechanic around £10, so thats abig saving as well.

There’s more to come on this issue. One of the major concerns is horrible weather. Thus far my water proofs have been fine, but the purchase of a nice waterproof / warm / protective suit will be nice before winter. I’m also interested to see how economical the XJ600 I have my eye on will be on my commute.

General News

Not posted since my Birthday, but quite a bit happened… I moved to Harrogate for a start. I had to get out of the Parents house, so managed to negotiate a move to our Leeds office and move in with friends in Harrogate.

The side effect of this has been my purchase of my first motorbike – a Suzuki GS125 from Mat. Hes got the GSF600 Bandit now :-) . Since getting it I’ve travelled 1000 miles on her, averaging 111mpg and generally enjoying myself. It takes 10-15 mins off the typical commute as I can ignore Queues in the main. Obviously there are some issues like all the extra kit I needed to buy for riding it, but I got some good deals from eBay etc. The rain sucks, but not as badly as I had feared.

I have passed the Theory Test now as well, and start my Direct Access Course tomorrow. Bring on the 500!

Download festival was good. No puctures were taken however. Climbing Helvellyn for the Summer Solstice was fun, but ended up in a surreal 50 people in a grey dawn in a cloud kinda way. On the plus side some nice people offered us sausages off the barbie (at 4am). Driving the Kirkstone in the Golf with its new engine mounts was FUN – nobody got in the way (aside from Sheep, who don’t count).

I’m back on the diet as of today also. Fun fun fun, but 13 st 4 lb is a bit of a FAIL.

Dry Suit Course

Did my PADI dry suit speciality last Sunday with Tigerdive. Capenwray was mad busy!

The day started off poorly as we were bent over and rogered for £27 each just to get in – £15 to ‘register’ with Capenwray and £12 to dive. The school really should have told us about this… Pure luck that Mat had cash. I never do.

After breakfast we finally found the school. Tricky as the usual big yellow van had broken down. It took till about 11am before we hit the water for the confined dive. The aim here was to do a fin pivot and hover on a 2m platform. I had a lot of difficulty with this.. I was overweighted with 12kg and therfore could not hover in a position i felt comfortable in. To get neutrally bouyant meant having lots of air in the dry suit and the neck seal was a bit loose for me. This often ended up with air dumped into my hood :-) . I eventually passed this phase and we went back in.

After a snack we were back into the first open water. For this we were sent out with someone who was doing an adventure dive for his Advanced Open Water, so we would be assisting in a search and recovery dive to make it more interesting. This dive went well with some patterns, working with a lift bag etc while maintaining neutral bouyancy. This time I had 8kg and was struggling to stay down in some of the exercises… When swimming around with a DSMB towards the end of the dive, I lost bouyancy control – dumped the air from the suit, emptied lungs but still came up. Probably underweighted.

The final dive we only just made tot he water before the gates were closed. Capenwray was so busy that air fills were taking an age to get done. This time we descended onto the wessex helicopter and did the roll procedure to correct excess air in the legs of a drysuit. after this we swam over the the transit and metro they have dumped in the quarry, this was an interesting dive that allowed us to begin exploring Capenwray. Finally we did a scuba unit removal and refit on the surface, followed by weight belt removal and refit. I suck at the weight belt, again because of the way i float. The sooner I can get my own kit and get everything trimmed out to my satisfaction, the better.

Overall a good course and an interesting venue. Just be aware of the extra costs (especially if you have never been to Capenwray before) and make sure you know where to meet the school.