Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kouba lowering link, Rally Raid shock collar, and other farkles

Some parcels arrived in the mail this week. A box from, and a box from Rally-Raid-Products-UK:

While there were a couple more items in the packages, I only had time today to install the items listed above. The rest will have to wait until next weekend.

Over a beer last evening, I started to think and plan the work required to install these pieces. Since I would need to remove the rear shock to swap out the flimsy aluminium collar for the very beefy stainless steel piece from Rally Raid, and since I was also planning to switch out the suspension lower link for the Kouba unit, I first thought it would be good to remove all of it at once... to gut the entire rear suspension. Then after thinking about it for a while, I figured it might be smarter to do the jobs separately. Probably didn't matter much, but I decided to do the shock collar first, and not remove the lower link until the shock was all done and re-installed.  Once that was done, I then proceeded to remove and swap out the lower linkage. My plan worked out well enough and everything went together nicely. The end result is that the bike sits about 1" lower than before. For my 32" inseam, I'm still on my tippy toes, but not as much as before. I notice the seat is more level now. Previously, the rear of the seat was significantly higher than the middle part of the seat, causing me to slide forward all the time because of the sloped geometry of the seat position. Now the seat feels flat and level, and my feet are touching the ground a little easier. The side stand is noticeably lower, but does not need to be shortened.

The seriously rugged Rally Raid shock collar on the left,
the flimsy OEM collar on the right.

I used these super heavy-duty zip ties to keep the spring 
compressed a little (put them in place before removing the 
original shock collar, while the spring is still compressed). 
This helps to get the spring seat off without too much swearing 
or cuts on your knuckles.

The shock with the new collar and lock ring in place

Now the shock is back together, and the spring is 
compressed a little so I can now cut the zip ties.

OEM linkage and Kouba side-by-side

The 1" lower Kouba link is actually a little longer than 
the OEM linkage but the end result is that the bike sits 1" lower to the ground.

Linkage removed - left side

Linkage removed - right side

I hung the bike from the ceiling using a pair of tie-down straps.

Kouba link installed.

With the suspension mods finished, it was time to swap out the 
temperature sensor switch for the radiator fan. The OEM sensor 
activates the fan at 105 degrees Celsius. This unit from KTMTwins 
causes the fan to kick in at 88 Celcius. Yes, the fan will be on more
 frequently but the engine will run cooler.

The new sensor switch installed.

I used my ninja skills to swap the fan sensor switch in just a 
couple of seconds, but somehow I still managed to lose about 
1/2 cup of engine coolant. No sweat, I had some of this 
$900 a bottle stuff from Motorex.

Rally Raid UK sells a bolt upgrade kit for securing the fuel injector. 
£11.34 (nearly $20 USD) is pretty steep for two little metric bolts and 
two aluminium spacers but I definitely have more confidence in this hardware 
that the OEM crap. Fortunately my bike is practically new and I didn't have 
any real trouble removing the Philips head bolts. If the bike was old and dirty, 
you'd easily muck up the heads of those cheap bolts and you'd have a nice time 
trying to get them out.  I could feel them getting hacked  up even using my good 
quality screwdriver. Soft metal Philips-head junk.  The Rally Raid pieces are nice 
quality. Piece of mind if I ever need to remove the injector.

The injector held in place with the cheap OEM Philips-head bolts

Injector removed

New sturdy hex bolts holding the injector in place now. 
The aluminium sleeves just slide down inside for a perfect fit.

***** OBSERVATIONS:  I'm no mechanic but I have wrenched on bikes for ~35 years. While I do love this bike and I really admire all of the technology that makes it what it is, I can't help but say nasty things about the fucking engineers who designed this bike. What I'm saying is that it's not the easiest bike to work on.  In order to remove the shock, you need to practically strip the whole bike down to the bear frame. First the rear luggage rack, then the rear fender, the seat, side panels, voltage regulator, the airbox (yes, the fucking airbox on the 2014 model must be removed before you can pivot the fuel tank upward and out of the way), lower fuel tank mount, muffler.  And that's just to get the damn shock removed. For fuck's sakes...  It's times like this that I really miss having my trusty old Suzuki DR650. That bike truly was an easy machine to work on. It's a good thing that I actually enjoy working on motorcycles -- almost as much as I enjoy riding them. I like hanging out in the garage with a cold beer and tinkering late into the evening hours. Relaxes me after a long week in the office.