Valdez: If you're in Alaska, whether living here or visiting, don't wait 25 years like I did -- it's really gorgeous through Thompson Pass and Keystone Canyon, easily one of the prettiest places I think I have ever been:
Mechanical Gremlins: However, I didn't log nearly as many miles on my bikes this summer as I usually do, which I blame on persistent mechanical problems this year. Much as I hate to admit it, the V-Strom is starting to show some signs of its age. First, the front tire is nearly worn out, which is good because I <expletive deleted> hate the Continental Trail Attack tires I put on it last summer for the ride to Seattle. I've already replaced the rear with a Shinko 750, and I plan on doing the same thing to the front tire this winter. In fact, the front tire washed out on me once on my driveway this summer, leading to my first drop at any kind of speed, and destroying one of the fog lights I had hung on my crash bars a while back. I've already worn out the chain and sprocket I hung last summer (!), so I've got a replacement in the garage, waiting for me to get a chance to swap them out. And finally, the valves have started chattering a bit, telling me it's (well past) time to pull the plastic, remove the heads, and shim the valves. I'm not looking forward to that. I'm also starting to think that I should probably replace the battery (it's started acting a little less peppy than it used to be) and the brake lines (Suzuki recommends every four years; I'm at five, and I really want stainless steel lines, anyway).
Ok, no problem. The cafe-nated XS750 is running, so I should have been able to take the Strom off-line to work on it, right? Well...no. You see, I spent most of the summer tracking down a problem where the Yammie would run great for 20 miles or so, then would start running a little rough, would lose power, and then would die completely. I finally identified the problem as a plugged fuel vent, caused by my attempts to fabricate a new fuel cap gasket of silicone rubber last summer, and solved the problem (both of them) by buying a brand new, $25 gas cap -- money well spent!
Ok, so I spent a little while tweaking the remaining bugs out of the Yammy, some of which I still haven't completely eradicated, but it's still rideable, right? Ummm, no. On the ride to the Palmer State Fair, I blew the head gasket, and was only able to ride back home because a friend there loaned me a quart of oil to replace some of what leaked out all over my left leg and the engine case.
As a result of these mechanical issues, I didn't make some of the other trips I intended this summer. I skipped out on a group ride to Kennicot Mine, a number of group rides with the charity group that I'm in the process of becoming involved with, and I also blew off my hopes to ride to Nabesna this summer.
Project Plan: Needless to say, I've got a winter full of projects planned out for both bikes while the snow flies here in Anchorage:
|Valve Shim Adjustment||V-Strom||None|
|Chain and Sprocket Change||V-Strom||None|
|Finish Cafe Racer Seat||Yamaha||Match gas tank paint?|
|Exhaust R&R||Yamaha||Better Welding Technique, lol|
|Stainless Steel Brake Lines||V-Strom||None|
|Upgrade Regulator/Rectifier to Modern||Yamaha||None|
|Shorai Battery||Both||V-Strom: None;
Yamaha: Regulator/Rectifier Upgrade
Should be enough to keep me busy over the winter, lol. If I can get the first six items taken care of, I'll be content. If I can replace the V-Strom brake lines too, I'll be happy. If I can get the exhaust system repaired and/or replaced, I'll be ecstatic.