Sunday, April 19, 2015

Increasing motorcycle comforts

A cardboard box, duct tape, scissors and lots of imagination... what more do you need?
The last couple of days we've worked on improving the comforts of our bikes a bit. The seats had never been very comfortable from the start and Mike's screen was more a styling gimmick than actually useful. There are many comfort seats and aftermarket screens for sale, but the prices are somewhat prohibitive. So we set about to make some of our own... with cardboard, plastic sheet and a heat gun. I mean 'How hard can it be?' 

An adjustable deflector plate
Fairing changes Yamaha
The Yamaha came with a small screen, which diverted the airflow straight in Mike's face! The shape was wrong, the angle too. Yamaha has a tall screen available too but we had heard this caused a lot of turbulence. The styling leaves a bit to be desired too. Mike was looking for a kind of Dakar styling. Actually if he had it's way he would have had one of those fairings which resemble a vertical ironing board... He made a couple of sketches, looked at others available and in some cases superimposed them on his bike in the computer. 

The end product... well almost! Mike wasn't happy with the paint job he did so he made a couple of stickers to mask it, see below
Adjustments are possible on the fly with
two knurled knobs
The plastic sheet he used is of unknown origin, a paint stripper type heat gun was available and even the paint used was left over stuff. A cheap-as-chips recycling fairing! He also made an adjustable defector and used the original mounting points, to which we added two brackets for rigidity. Of course we had no idea how it would work out, so he took it for a run during windy weather to see what needed changing. The answer was: nothing! Right in the first attempt. The defector works and there is hardly any wind on his helmet.

A screen for the Bonnie
After 107,000 km on the Bonnie, I'm now trying out a screen! It went a bit differently compared to the Yamaha. For starters I had to buy a sheet of transparent plastic (no idea what it is, it came from a local building supplier and is used as a replacement for glass in widows). I my defence it cost me $33.- and is big enough for 4 screens. With the aid of cardboard I drew a screen up and fitted it for looks. I made brackets from scrap steel and aluminium, cleaned them up and then used the cardboard as a guide on the sheet. The transparent sheet turned out to be harder to work with and tricky to saw, drill or bend under heat. I started with a jigsaw with a fine blade in it, which was a mistake as the plastic became too hot and melted behind the saw blade. A courser blade worked very well. Bending it into shape with the heating was a lot more difficult than the other sheet. I guess the best way to bend it into shape is heating it up in the oven. But as we didn't have the use of an oven that big, we had to use the heat gun again.

Handlebar mounting made from
 a solid aluminum bar we had
Screen is rubber mounted
The first attempt worked perfectly up till 70 km/hr but gave too much turbulence at higher speeds. I mucked around with different angles but nothing seemed to make any difference. In the end I cut a small section off, which seemed to make an improvement, so I cut of some more... which made it too low. Back to the drawing board and out came screen nr 2. Slightly higher than the original and the best one I tried. It's still not perfect and I might make a slightly higher one yet, but at least it takes the wind pressure off somewhat.

A gel comfort pad, from Lidl at $3.50 plus straps made by grandma
As we have written before, the seats on our bikes can hardly be described as comfortable on long runs. Mike had tried a sheepskin on his Yamaha before but found no improvement. What did make a big improvement though were our Rukka Cosmic pants, which have a gel pad built into them. A logical step up would be to fit a gel pad, gel seat or perhaps an air hawk. Gel seats were out of the question: too expensive. An air hawk is expensive too and is unknown territory, it might work but we don't know. A shopping trip to Lidl showed me gel seat covers for a bicycle for $3.50 They came in 3 different sizes, sports, ATB and touring. I opted for the biggest one. The plan had been to remove the gel and fit it under the seat cover. But in the end we asked grandma to sew a couple of straps on them and fitted them on top of the existing seat. We reckoned this would work better and made the gel pads adjustable and removable. So far it works a treat! A gel pad for $3.50!

Hazard lights Bonneville
It's a pretty poor show from Triumph that after all these years the Bonneville still doesn't come with hazard lights as standard. They are a safety feature after all. I've fitted hazard lights to the Triumph, again in a cheap and simple way. The indicator relay is good for 4 blinkers, so all I needed to do was fit a waterproof switch and connecting it up. As the indicator light is connected between the two positive wires of each indicator, that needed changing too. I used a 6-pole on-off switch, available from any electronics store and online for $6,- of which one side is used to connect both blinker circuits and the other to change the indicator light over. In the above diagramme the hazard switch is on. Activating all 4 blinkers can be done by either indicating left or right. Switch the hazard switch to off and everything is back to normal. I could make it flash by incorporating two diodes into the system, in which case the hazard lights would come on as using one switch only, but this is good enough for me!

The rubber mounting had come loose from its steel sleeve, allowing the handlebars to come loose... A rubber washer on top of the original rubber sleeve fixed the problem
Yamaha handlebar mounting
The rubber washer is on top of the yoke, the washer will compress
until the steel bush touches the handlebar mount. The rubber
washer is thus not a 'structural' item.
The handlebars on an XT are rubber mounted with isolastic type bushes in the top yoke. Over the last months more and more movement had krept into the bars, which needed investigating. The mounting consists of a rubber with an outer thin steel sleeve and a metal bush in the centre vulcanised into it. The rubber was fine but had come loose from the sleeve. The rubber mounts are not listed by Yamaha as replaceable parts, a complete new top yoke needs to be ordered! I removed the handlebars and pushed out the rubbers. As I found no cracks in the rubbers they could be re-used. What I needed was something which ensured the rubber wouldn't slide through the sleeve. As you can see on the photo, I've made a thick rubber washer from an old Avon tyre. A tyre is excellent for this purpose as it has reinforcing in it. On top of the rubber I fitted two large washers, larger than the hole in the top yoke. This is to divide the pressure on the handlebars over the whole surface of the rubber washer. Underneath the top yoke I fitted two large washers as well. These are a safeguard if you like, to prevent the handlebars coming off when all rubbers fail. Yamaha has washers fitted originally but these are only just big enough. The mod works fine, vibrations in the handlebars are reduced while steering is much firmer. Morale of the story: always keep an Avon tyre at hand, they are handy for all kinds of things, including chain guides on a swing arm for instance!