Time at the bar(-end) gentlemen please!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid bar-end weight mount stainless steelAs Guinness said, “Good things come to those who wait” …… and boy have I waited! When the new grips went on in late November, they were accompanied by the 3D printed temporary bar-end mounts. The clock was ticking, I had to get the grown-up adult versions (stainless steel!) made up asap as I’d no idea how long these things would hold up. In early January someone stepped in to do the deed.

Unfortunately, they never appeared no matter how much cajoling and nudging I tried. Finally, after 4 months I was out of time and the Capo had to return from Italy sporting the plastic 3D printed ones. I shouldn’t have worried though, they held up just fine!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid bar-end weight mount stainless steelSo just when I was giving up on ever seeing a set, a mate offered to help, and in the blink of an eye made these beauties! They fit perfectly and the finish is brilliant – what more can I ask for? So a huge ‘Thank you’ goes out to Jason – stand up, take a bow, don’t be shy fella! The eagle-eyed will notice a change from the rendering (and drawing) in that the flats (for socket or spanner) were left off. This was to reduce machining time and also because they only really need to pinch up – I’m not torquing the nuts off an axle here!

Of course, once these were in the pipeline, I told the other guy ……… who then got all stroppy saying the material had been ordered …… this is after 5 months of waiting! Sheesh some folks. 🙄 Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid bar-end weight mount stainless steel

 

The blip is back!

After a couple of rides, here’s the verdict on the Oxford Adventure heated grips – utterly Fantastic! Not only are they awesome in their toastiness, they really do help my old wrist as well. The extra diameter and better texture compared to the Ariete grips is lovely!

One thing lacking in my riding over the last few months has been blip-ability, the quick tweek of the wrist to grab a few revs … almost every downshift became a novice-style, crunchy-clunky affair, blips either non-existent or late. The head was doing the throttle blippy thing but the wonky wrist just couldn’t or wouldn’t play ball. Fair to say my blip-mojo was lost in sore tendons and swollen joints.

Now with fatter grips I’m chuffed to say my blip-mojo is back with a vengeance, sharp, snappy downshifts complemented with slick as Slick-50 on Teflon clutchless up-shifts as we slice through bend after hairpin bend. If the grin got any wider I’m sure the top of head would have fallen right off. At last, me and the gearbox are best mates again!

But that’s only half of it – These things work superbly as HEATED grips as well! With the days now struggling to reach 10-12C and wearing summer gloves, it takes but a couple of minutes at 100%, then swiftly backing the heat down to 40% before my fingers catch fire! That’s way better than the Aprilia grips ever performed. I do wonder if a big part of the Aprilia grips poor performance was not only down to the high-resistance heaters, but also the feeble wiring to the grips. I swear that stuff is rated to little more than 5 Amps, maybe 8 Amps on a good day with the wind behind it! Either way, they’re history now after a sterling 9 years service and I’m looking forward to seeing how well the Oxford grips last. Bring on a January ride through Switzerland ……. 😯 

3D speedo sensor revisited

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid 3D printed Speedometer sensor AP8124985 1GP7001 HoneywellYesterday I was asked about the 3D printed speedo sensor case and I couldn’t believe that it’s been almost six months since last mentioning it and about nine months since fitting it. So how is it holding up? Well just fine and dandy thanks for asking!

So far, It’s been through a long 40C summer and some damn cold nights of recent. Heavy rain and a decent shake down over something like 12,000 miles including some off-road, add up to a pretty good trial all-in-all. The plastic is holding up nicely with no signs of cracks, warping or sun-fade, so it looks like the Color-Fabb nGen material is a good choice for use on the Capo and that is backed up by the frame bungs I made last year – all as good as the day they were fitted.

I’ve put a pdf drawing of the main body in the CAD/3D downloads area so you’ve some idea of the dimensions of the speedo sensor. Fitting a sensor from an alternative Aprilia is of course an option, the only real issue being the tight bend in the cable to make it fit, not particularly nice, but functional I guess. Also, is the cable long enough and does it have the right connector? I’ve no idea. Some may want to go with a different sensor altogether, fine in principle as long as it uses the same voltage/current range and the signal is compatible with the dashboard. then of course you have to make it fit, hopefully the drawing will help a little here as it gives depth, diameter and mounting hole location for comparison. Again there is the issue of cable length and connector …….

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid 3D printed Speedometer sensor AP8124985 1GP7001 HoneywellJust a word of caution though, the standard sensor is a snug fit in the caliper mount and cannot in any way move into the wheel. Can the same be said of an aftermarket sensor and its modified fitment? The consequences of something possibly working loose and jamming the back wheel don’t bear thinking about!

Of course I went for a third option, 3D printing. I’d originally thought of the case as reusable, but in the end, given the few pennies it costs to print I made it a semi-sealed item. The sensor is installed with sealant and after soldering the wires in place, the cap is also back filled with sealant and screwed into place. If and when it fails, I’ll just remove reusable bits (boot, screws etc) and print/assemble another one. Total cost (sensor, case, screws, wire, boot & connector) came in under £30 – Granted about the same as some RSV/SL sensors on ebay …. but that’s new not second-hand!

Fitting the Oxford Adventure heated grips

I figured it would be a good time to take the Capo off the road and replace the heated grips when it next rained …… and oh boy is it raining! 48Hrs now and another 24 to go if the met folk are to be believed. Plenty of time then to get the deed done, with a hot brew and cold beer somewhere along the way.

This morning I spent a good hour doing a detailed write-up, only to realise that quite frankly it would bore you to tears …… fitting the Oxford Adventure heated grips is nicely covered in the enclosed instructions and on umpteen websites and no doubt a zillion YouTube video’s. What YOU need is the specific details and issues relevant to fitting them to Rally-Raid biconical handlebars – more specifically, Rally-Raid bars that already have Aprilia heated grips fitted, so here goes.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Oxford Adventure heated grips OF690The left-hand one is a doddle. The Aprilia grip is held on by two screws and no adhesive, so it simple slides off once all the relevent bit’s and bobs have been removed first. The right hand one is a different matter though. For this one I had to cut off the rubber grip, peel off the old heater element and then cut/Dremel the large plastic disk (switch-gear end) and raised ridge (bar-end weight end) to make one continuous 26mm diameter smooth tube.

Now the Oxford Adventure grips are 132mm long (can be cut down to 122mm) and I fitted them untrimmed, but that does mean that spacers are then required for the bar-end weight mounts to fit properly and not foul anything. For the left hand side this is 1.5mm thick (22mm OD, 18mm ID). However the right-hand is a different story. This needs the original Aprilia 3mm spacer replaced with a 7mm one – same OD and ID as the left one. But with this in place, the amount of lost thread on the mounting is  now a bit worrying, so I drew up a Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid new handlebar mounts for bar-end weightsreplacement mounting in CAD and will get a local machine shop to knock a couple up. Meanwhile a 3D printed spacer is in place and works fine for now.

So now they’re on and look good and they feel great, no more finger tips pushing into the back of my palm with summer gloves on and I swear my wrist is already thanking me for the reduced torque on the throttle. All that’s left to do now is install the controller and wire everything up ….. just follow the instructions in the box!

Why not just cut the grips down I hear you cry. Well to me, cut down grips look just that – cut down. They lose the raised ridge at the end and scream out butchered! Besides it’s bloody hard to get a perfect cut, it always seems to go wibbly-wobbly somewhere. Not only that, but I wanted the extra width to make using winter gloves more comfortable. The original grips (and Ariete) are just too narrow (107mm usable) to be comfortable with my BKS winter gloves, leaving Mr Pinky out on his lonesome on the bar-end weight! Now the whole finger-family can be snug and warm on the extra width the Oxford grips give.

UPDATE – The whole kit is now in and working a treat, and boy are they toasty compared to the Aprilia ones! If I have one issue with them, it’s the length of the wires ….. I found that the wiring provided isn’t exactly generous and needed very careful routing to make sure the three connectors could sit comfortably behind the headlight and the main loom then reach back to the battery. Given that they are sold as ‘Adventure’ grips, am I cynical for thinking they might be aimed at adventure style bikes with higher/wider handlebars etc? Come on Oxford, a few extra inches of cable on the looms won’t break the bank surely!

 

Hot Grips, Grip Puppies or Hot Puppies?

Hot on the heels of the last post, here we go again, with the next little problem to work on. It looks like the bad wrist isn’t going to recover much more now without an operation, and Dog knows when that’ll happen. So I’ve been pondering how to reduce the load (torque) my poor old wrist feels at the twist grip.

It seems to me there are two ways to do this ….. firstly, increase the diameter of the twist grip to get more leverage, the second is to replace the cam at the throttle body to do the same job (more on this later) – or maybe a combination of the two! So let’s look at the first option.

The Aprilia heated grips (with replacement Ariete grip rubbers) are 32.8mm diameter and probably the cheapest and easiest way to increase this would be to simply fit a set of Grip Puppies. But the fact is the Aprilia heated grips are quite poor when it comes to output. The 13Ω elements are really only any good for chilly Spring, Summer and Autumn mornings and certainly don’t do much on a freezing Winters day in the UK. So I started to hunt around for a better heated grip with more power. In the end I opted for a set of Oxford Products Premium Adventure grips (OF690).

These grips are approx. 35mm diameter, so that’s one box ticked, and they have heater elements averaging approx. 7Ω …… that’s almost half the resistance and will mean twice the output. The grips are 132mm long and can be trimmed if necessary down to 122mm, so fit shouldn’t be an issue.

The heat adjustment is in five steps (30%, 40%, 50%, 75% and 100%) using PWM (Pulse Wave Modulation). In other words, a microcontroller turns the power on for a certain percentage of the 1.3 second cycle ….. so 75% output means the grips are on for approx. 0.975 seconds, then turned off for 0.325 seconds – total 1.3 seconds – then the cycle repeats itself. Now this is all well and good but they really missed the mark to my mind. Microcontrollers are great little gadgets and can be programmed for all sorts of things and as far as these grips go, they only scratched the surface. First off, when you turn off the grips they turn back on at the default 30% or 100% if you hold the button down – NEVER at the last setting you may have been using*. Secondly, a rapid warm up would have been nice, say 100% for 2 minutes at start-up, then back to your last used setting ….. but none of this is programmed in on the OF690.

In fact isn’t it about time grips came with temperature sensors in-built? Think about it ….. set the desired heat and ride along happy as larry with toasty fingers on a bitter winters day. Stop for a minute and take your hand off the grip and it now cools rapidly – the cooling temp sensor feeds back to the controller, which now ramps up the output to try and restore the grip temp back to that desired. You then plonk your size 10 winter mitt back on the well heated grip, and now the grip is insulated the system reduces power to maintain the temperature. And it goes without saying that both grips should do this independently!

Anyway I digress, the whole point is that the new grips will give me a welcome increase in diameter, even then I have the option to add Grip Puppies over the top but I think this might be overkill! But who knows ……

Next post I’ll look at the pro’s and con’s of changing the cam at the throttle body to achieve a reduced torque at the twist-grip.

*This function along with 9 heat settings instead of 5 is available on the Hotgrips Advanced Adventure UK SPECIFIC (EL690UK). Why didn’t I buy these? Simply because I got the OF690 set for £30 cheaper! 😀 

Ognibene sprockets

The first Ognibene (7164-16) 16 tooth front sprocket was fitted last April, since then its done over 18,000 miles and I’m happy to say, still has some life left in it. In comparison to the excellent Renthal sprockets that I’d used since the OEM one wore out, I have to say I’m very impressed. Yes they cost a couple of pounds more that the Renthal, but it has covered more miles. The Reynolds typically averaged (15,000 miles), making the Ognibene’s running cost slightly better pence-per-mile wise.

Now a matching set of front and rear (8098-45) sprockets are going on, along with a nice new gold/gold DID 525-112 ZVM-X chain. Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Ognibene front sprocket 7164-16The France Equipment rear sprocket (1683-45) I fitted last year is still looking pretty good, so it’ll go on the shelf as a part-worn spare.

One thing that’s maybe worth mentioning about Ognibene sprockets is to be aware that the ‘silent’ bands will bed-in over the first few miles. Initially the chain side-plates ride up on the hard plastic bands before sinking in – changing the effective diameter of the chain’s run around the sprocket ……. this means your chain adjustment has to be monitored more carefully at the beginning Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Ognibene 8098-45 rear sprocket and DID ZVM-X chainand will no doubt require a couple of tweaks. Once everything beds-in I guess it’s business-as-usual with regards to the long intervals between adjustments that I like about the DID chain.

New chain and rear Ognibene sprocket courtesy of Motrag at a very competative price. Unfortunately they could only supply the 17 tooth front, not the 16 tooth…… that may change in time.

More bunged up …… or spoke too soon!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid spare spokes in the front wheel spindle - AP8108784, AP8108787, AP8108805I’ve been carrying six spare spokes around in the front wheel spindle for years ….. however the whole thing was a bit of a mash-up and not worthy of a post on here unless I desperately wanted some serious ridicule. Until now that is! Out with the hand-cut foam and insulating tape and in with the nice new 3D printed parts – two spacers to hold the spokes all nice and even and two new symmetrical end caps. All this held together with a length of 8mm aluminium tube, two ‘O’ rings and two M6 stainless fasteners topped off with a pair of decorative washers I had left over from my old Honda Blackbird days. All works pretty well, even if I say so myself! 😀 

Feeling a little bunged up

The Capo now has 3D printed bungs in the swing arm pivot and the ends of the crash-bar mounts. They’re held in by 43-39-2, 14-10-2 and BS011 ‘O’-rings. And yes, the BS011 rings are the very same as those used on the fuel lines. So one day if the old girl springs a leak and needs a new fuel line ‘O’-ring by the roadside – no problem, whip out a crash-bar bung and pinch the ring!  Next ….. front and rear axles then the engine mounts above the swing-arm pivot .

New closure panel and heatshield

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid headlight/dashboard closure panel AP8168916 in CADI finally got around to finishing off the new closure panel (AP8168916) and seat/tank heatshield (AP8117201 – now unavailable) using the 2mm rubber sheet I bought a few months ago. A single 500mm x 500mm piece is enough to make one each of the panels at a cost of about £4 per panel. Compare that to the list price of Aprilia replacements – £15.58 & £22.48 each PLUS VAT!

Next I’ll have a go at part AP8158254, the shield that fits over the two front lugs holding the airbox to the coil mounting plate. Mine split (at the lugs) years ago and I can’t find it anywhere to make a template from it, so I guess I’ll keep looking for a second hand one on Fleabay that I can use as a template instead ……. unless anyone has a spare they’ll loan me to make a drawing from?

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid closure panel AP8158254

She’s let me down!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid broken keyWe called into a fuel station about 20 miles from home just as a thunderstorm was rolling toward us over the Gran Sasso mountains. It rumbled away as the sky drew ever darker while I filled up a 5l gas can for the mower and topped up the Capo’s tank. All done, time to head on ……. except the ignition wouldn’t turn. One look and my heart sank – 2/3 of a key winked at me from between my gloved fingers. Yes, the other third is still in the fuel tank!!

Long and the short of it, Jan drove over with the spare and I was on the road again. I have to say that 20 miles heading home under a pretty pissed-off thunderstorm is not really much to chuckle about, but it did remind me of the last few weeks in England! Once back in the barn, time to fix the problem. Stripping the cap didn’t help. The barrel looks like it’s fitted once and fitted for life, so no getting the bit out that way. OK, maybe a locksmith can do the job, but at what cost and what state would the lock be in afterwards? A replacement Aprilia cap (AP8104529) then? A quick search shelves that idea – €277 you have to be bloody kidding me! So how about aftermarket? Well it looks like Oberon make a nice key-less cap for £79.99 that fits. It looks good and folks seem to like Oberon quality, so maybe that’s an option. I’ll think about it.

Anyway, for now I’ve refitted the cap and it opens/closes just fine with the broken key. Tomorrow I’ll get a couple of replacements cut from the spare and mull over what to do next. Meanwhile lessons learned:-

  • Carry a spare key or squirrel one away somewhere on the bike – Andy (Beasthonda) gave me a good idea on that one – cheers Andy!
  • Give the key a once-over every now and then with a magnifying glass … maybe I’d have spotted the cracks starting you never know.
  • Replace the key every few years with a new one …. this one was 13 years old, so no real surprise that fatigue had set in by now.
  • And no matter how short the journey or how sunny it is when I leave, throw a set of waterproofs in the (empty) panniers. You never quite know!

Oh and as a parting word …. thank-you to whoever was watching over me on the last couple of big trips. Breaking a key then would have been a real ball-breaker that’s for sure! 😕