Getting a few miles on Hilda the BMW

Due to COVID-19 etc I spend 2020 doing some of the tarting up of the bikes. I had planned to get out on the bike but after the extended lockdown I decided to wait for the weather to improve and to get some other stuff sorted out. Then as we got out of the lockdown the weather was rubbish when I wanted to ride but then I did get out. I managed to write up my rides and post them elsewhere but did not update the blog.

1st of May – A quick ride to Baskerville Hall – 5hrs 200miles

It has been 2 years since I last visited the Baskerville Hall for the annual SoS (Start of Season) so as the BMW had a fresh MOT I was hoping for a day where I feel like going for a longer ride. I have ridden extraordinarily little for the past year or so due to covid and bikes that have had teething problems, so I was a bit wary but in for a penny in for a pound.

I had a nice ride up to Baskerville Hall. Bristol was Bristol and I managed to flex some of my filtering skills even if the BMW does feel a bit of a wide bike and avoided most of the wet weather except for Crickhowell which it tipped down with rain and hail and I got a bit damp and I really felt the cold. I made the mistake of taking the enduro lid with no googles, just some tinted safety glasses. Got to Baskerville Hall and it was empty, but I could hear some bikes up in the woods playing.

The BMW parked up outside of Baskerville Hall Hotel, Clyro, Wales

It was starting to drizzle so I decided to make my way home via the usual interesting roads. I stopped in Abergavenny for a brew, pee and to stretch my legs.

Having not ridden far for a while it was getting to me a little. Arms and thighs. Ass was OK which was new as the KLR650 seat can become a plank over time. I carried on and decided to avoid Bristol on the way back and took to Clevedon and a short ride up through Burrington. During the last bits, I noted the wind and a chill in the air. I was keen to make it home before the rain, but a couple of loud cars were racing so I had to slow down to avoid being a victim of their sudden overtakes on the cars ahead. Then about 2 miles from home, rain and hail hit hard, I had to back it off as the tyres are old and rubbish and I did not want to ruin a good ride by falling off near home.

So that was 200miles of riding on the R100GS PD done. I can say the bike is awesome even on 16 year old big trail bike tyres (new ones on the way). She has most of the speed and power of my old R1100R but without its desire to kill me when I get nervous. It has the confidence inspiring ability that the KLR650 gives me but with extra smoothness. Though it, not my best riding and I was taking it gentle.

Me, well I am feeling it now. I do miss not being a daily biker as I have aches that I know are due to a lack of bike time.

22nd of May – New Boots – 2hrs 40mins 75miles

TK70 & TK70 Rocks Tyres

Well, they finally arrived, a set of Continental tyres, a TK70 for the front and the TK70 Rocks for the rear. After fitting them I took it for a ride and promptly took the bike onto a local byway I was a bit unnerved by a tendency of them to tramline on the roads.

I did make my way out of a trip a bit further but hit the rain so turned around and came back as it was close to dinner time.

30th of May – A trip to Northleach to find nobody home. 3hrs 30mins 123miles

Ever since I bought the BMW Ian of Ixion has been asking to see the bike and even offered to buy it off me. So as the weather was nice, and I wanted to go for a ride I popped up to his only to find he had gone off for the day with his wife.

31st of May – Quick ride to Wales and back – 8hrs 273miles

Well after yesterday’s trip to Northleach. I decided to go for a quick ride around Wales. I did invite people from the Internet to meet me at the Cafe, but none turned up. I left home at a sensible 8 am and got to the Oasis Cafe in Abergavenny for about 9:45an via Chepstow, Usk etc. I had a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie then continued towards Brecon where I took to the back roads to avoid the snore that is the A40, whereupon I came across a chap on the modern Ténéré.

The clutch had gone, he mate had gone to M&P to get another and he had made contact with an Overlanding Specialist that lives a few miles up the road, the specialist turns up and suggests that we tow the bike to his workshop, looks at me. I offered to have a go, there was a strap between me and the Ténéré, I started to pull but the anchor point on his bike was off centre and was pulling me, I did ok for 10m but then a snatch and it caught the bars, and my little legs could not save it, so I fell off.

I left him as the other chap did not seem to like my question of “don’t you have a trailer”? so it was suggested I leave. I carried onto Llandovery and stopped for Cake and a drink.

West End Cafe in Llandovery in Wales.

Headed up into the hills and went via the damn/lake, came down “The Devils Staircase” and had a good ride. There was one car driver that was being a bit ignorant and would not let me past, but I got there in the end.

The view of the Lake, the road twists about all over the place. Nice road.

I decided to just keep going to rode back to Llandovery and thought for the sake of it I would see if the chap got towed to the workshop, he and his mate were there trying to figure out what thing they got wrong for it not to work with the new clutch, but they seemed happy enough to I plugged on into Brecon, Abergavenny, Usk, Chepstow and home.

All in all, 273miles and I was back at 6 pm.

I do have to admit I did let two cars overtake me, but they were keeping up with me even when I was making good progress and I think they were having a play to when I got to a straight, I just let them go past, then I am not worried they would drive into the back end of me.

12th of June – Headed South for a change. 6hrs 250miles

Went for another ride, decided to go down the A39 to Porlock and see how far I could get before making the ride home.

I made my way towards Taunton where I managed to find some Fraggle Standard Road (grass growing up the middle of the road, narrow, lots of hedges etc). Joining the A39 at roughly Aisholt, I then trundled down and finally got to Porlock which for those that have not ridden it, it is fun it holds the title of the steepest A-road in the United Kingdom, approaching 1 in 4 (25%) in places. Had a bit of a moment when the car in front slowed, slowed some more I was almost about to overtake it when they got it into gear and then carried on. I do enjoy riding a torque monster of a BMW. I carried on for a while longer, passing some roads that I last rode along with InkyAnn, Flymo and Pauline IIRC. Even past the pub that we stopped at last time for refreshments. As I rode out of Barnstaple, I had to do my one and only U-turn, the roundabout with sign that just said, Landkey or Bishops Tawton, I choose wrong.

I eventually got down to Kilkhampton and by then I was aching a bit and after 3hr 45min and 126 miles since I last stopped, I thought it would be a good idea to see if someone were in, and they were. Finally, on one of my rides outs I managed to find someone at home. So, I stopped to see Ceilia along with Ann and Kevin even saw Arya which I have not seen in quite a few years and to make me feel older she is learning to drive.

After getting a drink and talking bikes for a while. I made my way home via the quicker route (so boring, exp the 40mph limit out of Barnstaple) and got home at about 7pm. So 6hrs of riding and another 250 miles done. I did think of taking the roads to Dorset and try and work down the A38 towards the East of Cornwall but a) I ache a little b) The G7 Summit was going on down there and would prefer to keep out of it.

In other news I fitted a Honda CBX500 sat nav holder to the BMW during the week and the phone is fitted to it so I can see any Navigation tips it has for me. I also paired this with a set of Bluetooth headset things that were only £23 (SONY WI-C200 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones) which lasted the day and though not much good at motorway speeds I was able to listen to planet rock for most of the ride.

So in a month or so of riding, I have already done 1k of miles on the bike and 23hrs of saddle time.

My remote shed now how POWER!

Sorry, I have been a bit lax with the blog posting, I have been pottering about as usual but the whole COVID-19 thing, work etc has had me a bit down. I have spent a fair bit of time recently working on clearing my Uncle’s old shed in the hope I could use it for some of my stuff but so far that doesn’t seem to be a plan that works for me. This was partly motivated due to some news that Aster who manage the council garages in my area are doing some refurb work on the one I rent so I would have to move out.

Aster offered me the option to move garages so I took that option and moved all my bikes and an assortment of spares from one to the other. But this then led me to think about how I can secure the bikes and garage from would-be thieves. So I started to hatch a plan.

These are all projects awaiting the time to fix and get running again.

I bought a 100W Solar Panel and a 10A PWM Charge Controller from eBay. Though I did make the mistake of failing to order a cable to go from the Solar Panel to the charging unit. This gave me some power, and thankfully I had two 12V batteries that my UPS said were no good but so far have held a good charge here on the bench.

A nice 20V and its not a bright day.

As these days more and more things require less power I can use this to my advantage, after a bit of searching I found a Huawei E5576-320 which is a cheap enough WiFi unit that has a 4G SIM card slot so that I could get internet into the shed. Its got an internal battery that lasts a few hours and its also powered by USB, and the Renogy Charge Controller has 2 ports.

Then came the idea of CCTV, in a perfect world I would have a constant recording unit there that beams the footage home to me but that is rather data-intensive and could cost me a fortune in data costs. So I have elected for the BlinkXT cameras sold by Amazon. These are motion-activated, and record footage only if there is movement is detected. The cameras themselves use 2 x Lithium AA batteries and claim to last 2 years, the controller is the only item that needs constant power. Oh and look there that uses USB so no need for mains power.

Now I have this set up and running I still have work to do which includes adding some lighting, which I have built today after making the mistake of buying what was described as 12V Shed Lights but actually they are mains powered, and even worse the LED strips I think are 48V so I can’t even bypass the wiring and go direct. I have a fuse and simple rocker switch for that to do tomorrow.

Then I have to look at the long term fix for being able to charge the various motorcycle batteries that may be in there. That may be done with some relays, a few buck voltage converters and an Arduino, as I would like to log and record the charging system and also charge a different bike/battery each day.

Oh I also fitted some shelving and 2 benches with the idea I can store some of the stuff that is assembled but is in the way if in the home shed.

A few benches to keep stuff off the floor.

Trixie’s Great Adventure

I have been told not to amphomorphise motorcycles as they don’t like it. But I do like giving vehicles names just to have a bit of fun rather saying Yamaha TRX850, the red one. Why am I talking about this well I have just visited some friends in Cambridge to take on the ownership of Trixie the Yamaha TRX850. This bike has been within the mailing list of Ixion for many years going from Mike (mlh) > Iain (McSatan) > (Dr) Fong > AndrewP > NeilR > Me with various owners making modifications, racing and even just taking the bike out for a damned good ride you can say this bike has had an interesting life.

Neil has been doing various bits of work to this bike over the past year or two some of this has meant he had to buy spares, well spare bikes. I agreed that it would be best if I took on these spares. I hadn’t quite realised how many spares he has managed to collect.

I am now the owner of 3 Yamaha TRX850s in a graded scale of disrepair, Trixie is all OK and just in the need for a bath and maybe some tarting up. The next is The Colonel (named after one of its owners) which is fairly up together other than it had a mishap at some point and the wiring loom has melted a bit and so requires some work to get it back on the road. Then there is Fozzy (again a previous owner) which is down to a frame and a pile of bits where NeilR removed parts to fix Trixie. The names the last two aren’t set in stone yet, just a way for me to compartmentalise them in my head for now.

If you want to read up on what Neil did with Trixie you can find it all on his blog.

I hired a van and with my trusty side-kick aka Dad, we drove the 4hours to Ely where we met NeilR at JamesD’s place where some of the “spares” had been kept. Thankfully I hired a big enough van.

Other 4 hours drive home and it was now 9 pm and we had to just get all this stuff away as I had to get the hire van back. The next day I tasked myself with sorting out the insurance on the bikes and later after the rain slowed I progressed to getting the bike stored away neatly. I need a bigger shed! To make room I had to get rid of a bike that I have had for more years than I can remember, my trusty Yamaha TY80. It was sad to let it go, as me, my sisters and my cousins all learnt to ride on it, but not to worry as it is gone to my Niece and Nephew to look after on the proviso it is never to be sold, as its a family hairy loom.

Yamaha TY80

Yamaha TY80

I did plan on trying to tackle the pile of bits I have that are preventing me from getting to the shed but the weather is damp and I am not in the mood for it yet.

I feel like it could be fun to make an E-book of the travels of Trixie and her various owners over the years. “Trixie’s Great Adventure” sounds like a fun title. But before I get too far I needed to do some admin work such as get some of the info I need for the bike, so I created a folder and added some of the pics I took when I bought it, NeilR gave me some of his pics and a Yamaha parts list and a colour wiring diagram. I then tracked down the manual for it etc. and joined the forum.

Then I started to look at graphics, and I found a font that seems to be similar to the one for the TRX so I mocked up an image for the forums but also so that I can later use it on artwork for the bike.

Yeah, I am that sad. The font btw is Sofachrome and its not the same but damned close.

Original logo and graphics on the bike.
My close approximation of the logo

Sorting and fettling

Sorry I haven’t been up to much recently, after Ixion at Cadwell and work I haven’t spent a lot of time in the shed.

Oh, I did make use of the Land Rover to collect a fellow internet users (young lad from Reddit) bike that he had crashed into an innocent hedge while avoiding a badger.

Only damage was a broken mirror and pride.

The past two weekends I did end up on an epic sort out of a shelving unit just to find some cable ties, I really need a bigger shed.

This is half way through.

Lots of it is random bits that Dad has kept for other projects and some is the bits we took off that aren’t best but they might be handy for spares for other things.

But after getting that all back on the shelf I was happy to say I now know where the cable ties are and the pullers, levers, and even chain splitters are.

This was followed by a short trip (300miles 6hrs) to collect a bike for my Dad. A low mileage, Yellow Ducati Monster M600 as he likes my bikes but he wanted something a little smaller and he has wanted another Ducati since he sold his 750 Paso.

But enough of that, time for the fettling. Today I managed to get a few bits sorted, one was to fit a new charger for the bike, one unit, two charging leads. Its from NoCo which though its American they seem to make nice kit.

With that fitted I thought about sorting out the USB cable on the BMW, then I noticed a job on the KLR that I have meant to do for ages.

The front brake reservoir cap.

That is a rather chewed up screw, this tends to happen to Jap bikes as most people use Phillips screw drivers on them when the Japanese use their own JIS style of screw driver. That will be anther post another day.

I had tried to remove it a year or two ago and that is when it ended up like that. So armed with an LH Drill bit I set to it. Then I thought that rather than drill it out I might get away with using an Allen key to undo it. So with some luck, I found an impact Allen key that was just right and I hammered it down in there.

Allen bit hammered in.

It then came out, which was nice.

Now replaced with a new Allen bolt, with grease to prevent galling.


Later this will allow me to bleed the brakes again as the KLR is well known for crap brakes.

Now back to the BMW, where I then thought oh I might as well do this while I am here.

New seal for the cubby box in the tank.

Never understood why they just didn’t give me an extra few litres of fuel…its only 35ltr tank as it is. I had a bit of an issue with glues as the RTV just wouldn’t stick so I ended up using some superglue which has worked. Though if it fails then some sort of contact adhesive such as copydex is recommended.

Tomorrow I might actually get some stuff done on the bike that means I can go for a ride.

Brown Trouser Moment on the bike

Hit a bump in the road while braking and then I lost steering. I thought I had a flat tyre. Eek.

Thankfully a chap heading to the local MX track stopped and had tools.

I had only fitted the lower mudguard the other weekend as I thought it would be nice to have both fitted to the bike for neatness. Clearly its not a good thing to do.

Later that day the clutch would stop working, but after sitting at the side of the road for 20mins there was a click and it worked again so rode home gently. Now in a sulk. I have other bikes but I just get a feeling I might break another one.

Oh look another project

Now this isn’t one of my bikes. This belongs to my Dad and was bought many years ago.

I had to fit the bike rack as originally the idea was to pickup my TY175 but the BSA was in the way so that came home first. I did make a start on painting the rack, might get the rest powder coated.

Now the BSA,

This is a BSA B25S Starfire (250cc) from 1969 and was sent to Canada. Then brought back to the UK. We still have the fun of getting this road registered. But for now we just wanted to get it going, my Brother-in-law had this for a while and had got it going. But after a few prods of the kick starter there was no life. So we made up new HT leads and Dad got on with looking at the points. Not long later it was running, of not a little high revving and a bit smokey but it started first kick.

Later that day I was painting some BMW bits and I happened to trip on some of the Buzzweld PIO (Plastics in One). Therefore I painted the seat. I suspect it will need recovering or repairing as there is a small hole in it.

While I wait for parts

So the parts are taking their time to get to me so I took the opportunity to do some work on some of the bits that I can’t normally get to. Now this isn’t going to be a concourse bike this for now is just to slow the deterioration and to tidy a few bits up.

Just a coat of primer, black paint and a self-etching lacquer to finish it off. This is mostly hidden, I just wanted it to sparkle a little. I also painted the airbox and the airbox cover while I was at it.

Another job was to clean the gearbox and the clutch housing. It took quite a bit of time to get it this tidy. Next stage would to get it vapour blasted but I just don’t want to spend that kind of money yet.

While I have the rear shaft assembly out I gave that a damned good clean and then sealed with some more self-etching lacquer from the people at Buzzweld.

Now to await the parts so I can get this thing back together.

And it was a nice day

As lockdown is easing a little I had to drop some stuff off at my sisters in Wiltshire so I took the bike. That went well, the bike was going well so I thought I might as well take the shortcut home and wave at a friend that keeps offering me money for the bike.

Just outside of Cirencester while in the outside lane doing 70mph on a dual cabbageway I lost drive, but I could rev. The first thought was oh dear the chain has snapped but being a BMW shaft-driven bike I wasn’t so lucky. I pulled over and there was little or no drive. I noticed a sign ahead for parking so with some luck I was able to ease the bike to a safe place under the trees. I rang home to say what had happened and Dad though happy to come to get me wasn’t going to be able to make it for a quite a few hours. This is when I made a mistake, I thought I would just get the RAC out. They have been good to me in the past.

I rang, told them what was wrong and I needed recovery. They said they would send a van. The van driver rang, he agreed that he doubts he could repair it at the road side so called the office to get them to recover it.

So 45mins later, he turned up. Looked at the bike and listed to the clanking etc. Said “yup, its broken alright”. So told the office and a recovery lorry would come out soon. I rang at 5pm, it was now 6pm. I waited, I crossed the road to keep in the sun as I had a feeling I might get cold.

Had a call at 8 from a chap in Frome saying he would be 1.5hrs, oh someone else local has the job now, they will call you shortly. Just after 9pm a chap turns up.

The bike is strapped down, I never like the way bikes get strapped down to flatbeds. On the centre stand, straps to pull it forwards and down. Straps on the rear to pull it down. Just the centre stand keeping it on the ground. At one point both front and rear wheels touched the deck…I whelped and we changed the straps about. Eventually home for midnight. It was a long day.

The next day filled with ideas of what had failed we started to strip the bike down. Its amazing how quickly these things go from big bike to half a bike.

As you can see we were tempted to make it into a some sort of BikeExif custom thing, but as I don’t own any exhaust wrap we didn’t bother. After the removal of the gearbox it was easy to see what the problem was.

That would be a rather broken clutch. So a new one has been ordered. I decided to go for a nice Sachs one as that is what BMW fitted. I was tempted to go for a Heavy Duty one that is happy to get oily etc but I wanted to go with tested an proven.

Matchless loom mk2 part 2

Now it is time to fit the loom, not too hard on these old bikes but you still need to start off with the right mindset so make a brew and drink it as you work out what to do.

Basically, that is my crimp tools for un-insulated wire and I tend to use both of them as work on this bike. Some are better for the bullets others are better for others. Though I ought to look at what AMP/DMC/Tyco make for this as I am sure it is expensive but they would do the job right.

It didn’t take long to feed the main part of the loom into place. Now the fun task of crimping the ends and making the various connections.

Lots of tea was needed for this task as its a right pain to follow the diagram and get it to work. The switches I have don’t seem to have the same bridged connections as suggested in the wiring diagram. Thankfully it isn’t to hard, but you can still make mistakes (more of that later).

While I was in there I had thought it would be a good time to fit a new horn & dip/main switch but annoyingly the new switches aren’t the same and the wire colours were wrong. Oh well, not wasted, this will go on the AJS once I get to it.

After a lot of faffing its starting to come along,

As with the modern loom, I had tried a few months back I also fitted and extra earth to the headlight for extra care. I must say the old way of using these connector blocks is quite nice. You can usually and up combining a few connections with little mess or bulk.

Then it was time for the midsection to get a look at. I fitted a modern rectifier (KPBC3510) as I was suspicious the old one was not in the best of shape. The modern bridge rectifyer I bought at the bike show but a search shows its avaible at RS for not a lot.

Then I had to wire in the rear brake switch and rear lights. The rear lights have caused me issues in the past, at one point using the rear brake was enough to act as a kill switch for the bike which was never fun as I approached junctions. I had again ordered a new rear switch only to find that the mounting holes didn’t align so more stuff for other bikes.

I’m glad I did this as the wire wasn’t in good condition. Then it was just a case of wiring the battery up and the ignition coil which again wasn’t too mad.

After all this, I revisited the Points and condenser. I replaced both units as I had a suspicion that the condenser was on its way out. While also in there the springs for the auto-advance/retard unit were replaced. Many of these bits aren’t that expensive but at least give you a bit of confidence when it comes to starting.

Now it is all done, so I do a few tests and erm it’s not working. Not getting a good spark and but the lights work but if I hit the horn I don’t get any sound but the horn gets warm to the touch rather quickly. More tea, and maybe dinner I rechecked my wiring in the headlight, I had make a error and had turned the horn into a dead short for the battery and the points wasn’t getting any more than the power from your kick. Thankfully I had used good thick wire so no burnouts. I was kicking myself for not fitting fuses but then again I didn’t see any fuse boxes I liked the look of, may fit one in the future to be safe.

After that was sorted out I took it for a ride and its working fine, then dad went for a ride. Later a neighbour who last saw this bike on the road the day he moved in 6 years ago managed to start it and off he went for a ride. I have yet to take it on a long ride but I will soon.

Matchless Wiring Loom mk2

I bought a Lucas loom, it didn’t work. I suspect I could make it work but considering I have moved the coil and added a modern rectifier I thought I might as well make my own. So an order went into Vehicle Wiring Products for some wire with the right colours stipes on and a selection of uninsulated Bullet (4.7mm/0.1850″ for the old bikes), and spade connectors.

I ordered wire in 1.0mm² (16.5A) and 2mm² (25A). I did some tests and the bike uses 11A but the larger wire diameter means a little less voltage drop. I got the 1mm² in case the 2mm² was way too big for my needs. Turns out the 2mm² was about the same as the old stuff. I took the original Matchless wiring diagram for my bike and added some colour to help with the wiring.

Now before I could start I had to sort, so the boxes of electrical bits came out and I procrastinated for a while sorting out the bits. This won’t be the last time. By the way, I have a large selection of Red and Blue insulated crimps with heat shrink, I have gone off them as a few times now I have done the crimp and it’s just pulled out, this could be a wire gauge issue or a crimp tool issue but I am converting to uninsulated crimps as I can get a good grip when crimping.

With that done and a cup of tea I started to look at the old loom. Its rather basic but I would like to have a neat loom.

I started off with tying the wire together with bailer twine so I could work out where the wires go an where they branch off etc.

Now I ordered 5m of each colour I needed to be safe, which means I have plenty left over for other projects.

With the basics done I started to think about how I was going to get the sleeving on. I had gone for the Braided Sleeving which is a pain to work with but does look nice once done. But with several cups of tea, I managed to get it on and the wires branching off where I needed them.

Then I added heat shrink to prevent the braid from falling to bits.

Now I have done the basic bit of the loom. I will fit it to the bike then make the wires shorter where I need them and then start crimping. I added a length of protective sleeving to prevent any undue wear from the tank and steering.

There is an extra wire in this loom, a red one. Its to run an earth (remember positive earth) to some where in the headlight as a backup. During this process I thought that I needed more eyelets to crimp on, I have a few but I ordered some to add to the collection, plus a new horn/dip switch and a new rear brake switch. This re-wire won’t be cheap but I enjoy having a go at stuff and learning new/developing skills.

In other news, I also challenged my friend with a Welder, “This Old Hoddy” to make me a tool for taking the inspection covers off the bike. It is rough but does the job. I just don’t like using a screw driver to undo them.