Saved by RaceABS

I’m almost too ashamed to post this. But it needs to be said. Over and over again, until it’s second nature and not questionable by ill-conceived reason. Doubt has no place in going fast. Lack of confidence hasn’t a place there either and neither has the lackadaisical attitude I often exhibit when it comes to questionable situations of the “WTF?” variety. Instead of pulling over and investigating the cause for the “something’s off” warning light that goes off in my head, I make a “that must be it” excuse and keep going.

“Good gawd, I must have forgotten how to shift! I need retraining.”

Could just be that the shift rod assembly is working loose and shifting is getting less precise and when it is about to fall off you can’t even get into third without hitting a false neutral most of the time.

“Holy hell, I can’t get a proper start down anymore! I need to practice.”

Could just be that the clutch lever pivot bolt is over-torqued and slowly demolished its threads, and now your clutch is slipping like mad. Well, DOH!

What is wrong with this picture?!?

What is wrong with this picture?

“The front end feels funny. Sounds weird, and the feedback is strange. Must be the new brand of tires with a softer compound running a lower pressure.”

Could just be that you’ve forgotten to torque the caliper bolts on the right side.

Marked For Torque

Encounters of the Anal Retentive Kind: "Marked For Torque" Nm values next to the fasteners to speed up things at the track

And that is probably the main reason we have to safety wire all this junk! If the wire is undone you know you haven’t torqued the bolt. Safety wiring was not required at JenningsGP, so I was lazy and didn’t redo them when I was done. I did four laps on brake caliper bolts that were only finger tight, the upper bolt backed out and the only thing holding it in was the RaceABS sensor cable. So the BMW S1000RR’s tech saved my dumb ass again, but not the way you would have thought.

I would have to thank my friend and my new tires for negating some of the stress those bolts were under and nothing worse happening than weaker brakes. I had brand new tires and was taking it easy and half a lap into putting the screws back on, the session was red flagged due to someone trying to pass my friend Margie Lee in T2 screwing it up and taking her out with him. They are both fine, although Mr. Red Ducati was a little worse for wear. He couldn’t remember who or where he was and had a mangled shoulder, but he’s going to be OK. Margie got checked out at the hospital, got a clean bill of health and went to work the next day. Ovaries of steel. My kind of woman there. 🙂 I knew there was a reason we hit it off.

After coming in from the session, pretty much the last one to leave the track, and not seeing her nor her bike in her pit, I got worried and ended up running around trying to figure out if it was indeed her who was involved and when I was told that it was, my heart just sank. The ambulance was taking forever at the crash site and the waiting game began. After all that, I wasn’t in the mood anymore; I just wasn’t feeling it, so we packed up and went home. This girl knows when to fold ’em. I didn’t notice the caliper bolts until I was putting the Pirate back into her street clothes in my driveway the next day.

Don’t be a moron like Miss Busa. Don’t be lazy and safety wire things back up, even if it is not required at the track you are on. It’s also a good idea to mark your bolts once you’re done. If it’s not marked with your little dot, safety wired or silicone sealed, you might want to check it out, just to be sure.

Also, don’t ignore feedback. If it seems off, it most definitely is. The bike is talking to you. Do yourself a favor and LISTEN.


Screwed!

As I’m getting closer to the date of my first official race, I’m starting to see things that could use a lot of improvement. And, mark your calendars, for once I’m not talking about my riding. My wrenching could use a speed boost. Let me clarify that, it’s not the quality that’s an issue (most of the time) it’s the speed with which it drags on. I’m moving slower than a snail crossing fly paper. If you observe me long enough in my driveway you might actually see the wrench moving.

I know why wrenching usually pisses me off:

My Crappy Toolbox

It's plastic. One compartment, one tray. The hinges are broken, the lid won't stay open and falls off its hinges, it also sticks when you try to open it. The tray doesn't really fit and sometimes falls in, but has nowhere to go. Most importantly, you can't find shit in there! A good bit of my time is spend rifling through this thing. But it's mine. I'm kind of partial to it. I don't know why I'm hanging on to this piece of junk. Not a clue.

Exhibit A: I spend half the time looking for shit! Lack of organization in my driveway has something to do with it, stuff gets kicked and rolls downhill. Screws get dropped, washers disappear into the treacherous void between fairing panels. The screwdriver isn’t where I left it. Who the hell stole my socket extension? Where the fuck are my calipers? What asshole used the last of my blue Loc-Tite? You get the picture. And I am the culprit who is to blame. Mr. Slow doesn’t turn wrenches unless I make him. He damn sure knows better than to touch my toolbox unless I’m having him fetch a tool for me.

The more I have to look, the longer it drags on, and what should be an hour job turns into a three-hour metric nightmare.  I hate that. It pisses me off. The other thing is that I usually run out of daylight because I never consider my tool-misplacement problem when I decide to start a project in the early afternoon. And in the dark stuff happens. Unspeakable horrors. Horrors such as scratched up clutch levers mounts and bent springs and stripped out threads on front master cylinder brackets due to over-torquing and a host of other calamities. I have finally learned to pack it up and leave it be when it gets too dark to see the little engraved numbers on the sockets.

Exhibit B: I hate it when I don’t have the right tool for the job. And what I dislike even more is my inability to just recognize that I need to buy (yet) another tool and do that, instead of trying to rig something that will do. Most of the time I end up going to the hardware or auto store anyway, but in frustrated state of mind. Why can’t I just learn not to do that? The rest of the time, the job looks lousy, ends up in stripped fasteners, rounded out bolts, bent retaining clips and other such nonsense, not to mention the scratches and marks it leaves behind on my baby. Shame on me.

I Use Labels

Yes, I'm one of THOSE people. Labels, color coding, like objects belong together. It makes sense (to me) I can find shit. I am happy. Mr. Slow puts up with it like I put up with the cats drinking out of the crapper because he left the lid open again.

So what is a girl to do? The reason why I’m putting myself through this hell? Because I have to. I can’t afford to constantly run to the shop and have it done for me. I don’t have any friends who can help either.

For example, to mount tires on rims that are still attached to their axles when you bring your bike in rather than just the wheels, they’ll charge you $90 and that does not include the rubber which is purchased elsewhere. If you bring in the wheels it sets you back $50.  I spent a small fortune to get all the proper tools for changing my own tires. And now that I have them, it’s a matter of just doing it to get better and faster at it. I change a few more sets and I probably have recouped the cost of the tools. I tried my first tire change lacking a few essentials that I didn’t know I needed until I was actually doing the job. For instance, I needed a longer, heavier tire iron since I’m lacking in oomph just a little. But how could I have known that? Everybody warned about using too long of one and strong-arming it and bending a rim or damaging the tire’s bead. I don’t think I’ll have that problem. That was not a pretty scene, let me tell you. There’s a post about it on here somewhere. Rather embarrassing and revealing, I might add. Yikes!

Proper tools. No rigging, unless it’s an emergency. I’ve made myself that promise and I’m doing a lot better with it. For example,  the tether kill switch install was the first wrenching job that I did right from start to finish. I planned. I thought aobut it. I thought some more. Ran it by Mr. Slow, who had no clue or didn’t want to get in the “middle of it” and kept his mouth shut; then ordered the proper tools that I was lacking; patiently waited until they arrived. Then methodically worked it out. Not a single profane word was uttered during that install. Nor did I screw anything up. That one is actually save for kids under 17 to read. 😉

Now, I’m thinking about racing and what kind of wrenching is done and how fast it has to be completed… and how it would go over so well if Miss Busa threw a temper tantrum in the pits. Yeah. I can see it now… No! That’s the stuff Lifetime movies are made of, because somebody’s gonna get killed by a low-flying wrench and then the poor victim’s family spend their entire lives hunting down the killer and bringing (big twist in plot here) HER to justice.

To avoid this I’m doing something very typical of the anal-retentive borderline pathological perfectionist that I am: I’m making a list. More of a spreadsheet type thing, really. A list of tools that are needed for each fastener on the bike, with torque values, tool type and size, quantity and location. A list of items needed to affect emergency repairs that would most likely be required during a race. I only bring what I need (plus a few emergency items), neatly organized, so I cut out all that time I waste hunting down the #12 socket and the #14 box wrench. I want one of those magnetic wristbands you can stick stuff to… no, make that two and a magnetic bowl to keep my nuts in (when I’m not using them).


Remove Before Flight

Let me just state for the record: I’m a dumbass.

I’m washing the bikes for the Christmas ride on Saturday. Yes, Mr. Slow’s Samsonite Missile sees a sponge on occasion and it’s usually I’m the one who is holding it. The decorations stick better on clean bikes and mine needs a front tire change and some much needed chain TLC anyway, which has been horribly neglected (at least as far as my own standards on chain maintenance go). I’m kind of half-sabotaging that one, because I really dislike the stock chain, but can’t justify buying one just because I don’t like the way I have to baby the tension. The thing also rusts just by standing next to the bike thinking about water. It’s a piece of crap. I don’t mind, BMW had to go cheap somewhere and consumable parts is where it should be done. It’s cold, I’m freezing my buns off and I decide I’ll help with the evaporation of water by cranking the bikes up.

Half-melted Exhaust Plug

That's what happens when you forget to pull the plug after your bike wash!

I walk around my S1000RR and pull the exhaust plug out and crank her up. I continue blowing the water off of Mr. Slow’s Connie with my nifty little motorcycle dryer he bought me for Christmas when I still had my Harley two winters ago. I smell something faint but noticable and wonder who’s bike is the stinker. WTF? This doesn’t smell normal. Then I remember that hubby had complained about the smell of glycol a while ago and I dismissed it. He had that checked out, however they didn’t find any antifreeze leaks. I keep drying his bike, I want to get this done, since my partially wet clothes and feet are really starting to bother me. I’m a moron for coming out here playing with the garden hose in the first place, but you do what you have to do to get that one last bike wash of the season in so you can look good in the upcoming group ride. Vanity is a cruel mistress. I should have said “screw this” we’re ridin’ dirty.

Meltdown In The Pirate's Pipe

The S1000RR's formerly pristine tailpipe now looks like this because her owner is feeble. 😦

When I’m finished, I walk around my bike to shut it off and notice the half-melted plug on the ground and with an overly loud and distressed exclamation of a compound-word describing male offspring fornicating with his female parent, I look into the Pirate’s tailpipe.

Meltdown in the S1000RR’s formerly pristine exhaust. I don’t know what to do, so I leave it running to keep the mess from hardening while the pipe cools and start packing up my junk and take it inside to give myself time to think.The damned thing is perforated. Arrrgh! I guess, it’s best to shut it off and poke around in there to see how bad it is and how I’m going to go about getting the mess out.

The S1000RR's Pipe After Scraping

I took a metal painter's knife and carefully scraped most of the gunk out. I think I'll burn the rest off, probably the best thing to do. Who knows. Need to re-evaluate the situation in the morning.

I could have sworn I pulled that thing out! I must have been distracted or something… I have a habit of forgetting that damn thing! I don’t think I’ll be replacing that since, unless I run a string from the plug to the ignition key with a huge red tag that says: “Remove Before Flight”, I will keep forgetting to pull it, even when I think I haven’t. Apparently my overly active and easily sidetracked brain can’t be bothered with silly little details like this.

Arr! Arr! She be a dumb wench! Arr! Arr!

The lesson learned today (is a rerun since I didn’t get it the first few times): When something seems off, go investigate!!! I never do though, I always think myself out of it. One way or another my initial instinct gets overridden by some strange somewhat related thought that fits the scenario a little and my lackadaisical self goes with it… la dee da dee da, laaa deeee daaaa…

UPDATE:
I opted for letting the mess sort itself and didn’t fool with it anymore. After a few stinky rides the Pirate took care of my mess, and it is as if it never happened. Not only is the S1000RR stupid-fast and more intelligent than the common high school grad, it is also self-cleaning.


In Case of Get-Off, Pull Here.

Miss Busa’s How-To:

Installing a Tether Kill Switch

on the

2010 BMW S1000RR

RND: Research & Delirium

PMR Stealth Tether Kill Switch Combo (finished setup)

PMR Stealth Tether Kill Switch Combo: The finished install.

I’ve googled myself to death trying figure out what type of switch I needed for the S1000RR and how to hook it up. A tension headache, one 800mg Ibuprofen, and a nap later I was still pretty much clueless. What little information I could dig up was conflicting and not very useful. Heck with it, I can figure this thing out myself. The biggest pain was trying to ascertain whether the S1000RR utilized a “normally closed” or “normally open” switch for the engine kill. Blech. Apparently nobody knew. The one reference I found on a certain S1000RR forum turned out to be wrong. Not that I gave much credibility to the thread, since it sucked and was no help to the people who wanted to know and were wanting to install a tether kill on their Double-R. The more I googled the more confusing it became. I finally found a reference on Pingel’s website that paired the words “normally open” and “magneto ignition” and “normally closed” and “battery ignition”. Magneto? I didn’t really know what exactly that was, but I’ve heard the term before in reference to old junk. So “normally closed” is what I put my money on. Off to buy a switch. My bike was in the shop, so I couldn’t look at it and couldn’t recall the information needed from memory. I really liked the PMR setup. The kill switch housing replaced part of the brake master cylinder bracket and it came with optional switch options. An extra switch? Always good for likely future upgrades. But I couldn’t recall if the S1000RR had a Nissin setup or not, so I decided to err on the safe side and bought an MPS switch, which was only half of an inch wide and fit 7/8-inch bars. It later turned out that I didn’t have the ½ inch to spare to cram that sucker onto the bar. Damn. I should have gone with my initial instinct. Oh well. Anybody want to buy a brand new MPS switch? Hit me up. ☺

PMR Switch Housing

The PMR Stealth Switch Combo housing replaces the front bracket on the Nissin front brake assembly.

Pingel has decent looking switches up for grabs, however I definitely don’t have room for them on my clip-ons and the panel-mounted option just didn’t fit the bill for me. I wear one-piece leathers. I have nowhere really to clip the tether other than making a wristband which will also keep the lanyard out of my way. I stole the wrist strap idea from the Pingel site, so kudos to them. ☺) I didn’t want a setup that would reach across bike or body parts. The Pingel switches to me look more to be made for cruisers or Harleys, not that I would have had the room for the bar-mounted ones anyway. I really wanted something a little more subtle and sporty.

Those are the only three viable options that I came up with in my research. There are other choices out there, but I dismissed them for various — now forgotten — reasons. I’m sure some of them were due to looks, design, price, or workmanship. I’m picky when it comes to my bike. I get the best I can afford and I want the stuff to last. The Pingel switches probably would outlast my bike. 😉

Slapped On The Wrist!

Yes, I could have just bought Pingel’s ready-made one, but I wanted to save some money and it would be kind of cool to make my own. I had most of the stuff already lying around from various other projects. I went to Joann’s to get a parachute buckle. 1-inch wide red canvas strapping, black retro-reflective iron-on ribbon, a 1-inch metal D-ring, the purchased $2 buckle and a sewing machine did the trick. I opted for white thread to do a little “contrast stitching”, but I should have just used red because my sewing skill leaves room for improvement… lots of wide-open room.

Exploratory Surgery

My difficulty finding a tether kill switch and trying to figure out how to install it stems largely from a lack of sufficient knowledge of electrical circuits, switches, basic wiring, and how ignition systems work. I had to beef up on long-forgotten high school physics subjects and educate myself in the application of the fine art of soldering wire joints. Basic Electrical Wiring 101 with a little something thrown in about relays, switching and simple circuitry.

Armed with a multimeter, Torx screwdrivers in various sizes, a clipboard, pen and my BlackBerry I got up close and personal with the Pirate. I took the engine switch/mode selector control pod apart and had a peek inside to figure out which one of the wires is the one the tether kill switch gets spliced into. This should also confirm whether or not the S1000RR employs a “normally closed” or “normally open” circuit. I had read somewhere that a good way to distinguish one from the other is by the number of wires that come out of the engine stop switch: two wires means “normally closed” and three wires is a sign of a “normally open” switch. I took the thing apart. I was presented with five wires hanging out of a keyed plug and a small PCB sporting three push buttons. Five wires? Great. I should have known. Why was I even thinking this could be as easy as following the one coming out of the stop engine button to note its color for later reference? I looked at the circuit board closely. I could definitely make out the paths of the circuitry. The pins on the plug are numbered. I also saw tiny numbers printed on the PCB. That made things a lot easier. The keyed plug also helped with keeping the orientation of things aligned correctly. It was time to draw a wiring diagram. After having studied the thing for a while it dawned on me that there is a place left for an option. A very faint cutout line on the switch’s front housing, an indentation on the PCB for an additional button with all the necessary circuitry in place, and three open slots in the keyed harness plug. Noting that, the whole mess became a little less confusing. Four functions, namely: Mode, Engine Stop, Engine Run, and Engine Start; one common connection to them all; it adds up to five wires. This started to actually make sense.

The multimeter proved useless, since the probes are too thick to fit into the harness plug and the entire circuit board is encased in some sort of clear plastic — to weatherproof the whole affair, I’m sure. So I ran my findings by Mr. Slow, but he refused to get involved, claiming lack of knowledge on the subject. I mulled it over in my head off and on for a few hours and then ended up sleeping on it.

Kill Switch Wire (Black with Blue Stripe)

Found it! This is the wire to the Engine Stop function. This is where the tether kill switch needs to be spliced in.

I need a method to test my findings nondestructively. I don’t want to cut into a $1500 wiring harness on a hunch. I need some way to connect the male end with the female plug in isolation to engage in a little simulated wire snipping. Test leads. I could make myself little test leads to jump the pins. The female end is easy, but the pins on the male side need insulation to keep them electrically isolated from each other. After scrounging around for supplies I come up empty, naturally. I had, not too long ago, relocated my “computer graveyard” from its home in a closet to the neighborhood dumpster. It never fails. Hang on to the shite for years, not finding use for a single thing and as soon as you throw the crap out to make room for new junk you end up needing something from the pile.

I didn’t know what those “test leads” were actually called, so googling the subject proved to be coma-inducing, but eventually I hit on the name of the thing and once you can name it, you can find it in 0.0289 seconds. They are called jumper wires. They are used in robotics and prototyping to easily and quickly connect header pins on breadboard setups. They’re cheaper to buy than to make unless you have the stuff already lying around. I still would just buy them… trying to get those little fragile crimp pins onto the stripped end of a teeny wire sucks! I scored a pack of 10 6” male-to-female ones for about $4.

A Kick in the CANBus

With five jumpers in five different colors I set out to validate my thoughts on the kill switch subject. I dismantle the control pod once more, this time it only takes me a few minutes. I pull the plug out of its socket and use my spiffy wiring diagram to jumper the pins. After double-checking my work, I turn the ignition on and the RR begins its initialization. The RPM needle executes its customary sweep through the entire range of the dial, all LCD segments are displayed at once and all LED lights come on and blink off. The DTC and ABS indicators remain lit and blinking, as is expected. After the POST is complete, I put the transmission into Neutral and push the Engine Start button, the bike comes to life. No faults are tripped. All is as it should be. I pull the black wire that connects Pin 4. The engine dies instantly, just like it would if you had put the kickstand down while in gear. Still, no faults are thrown. I turn the ignition off and back on and try to start the bike again. Nothing. That too, is as it should be. I reinsert the wire to Pin 4, start the bike and press the Mode Selector button repeatedly to scroll through the four DTC modes. Again, all functions as expected.

I would have been so wrong!

Just for giggles, I yank Pin 5’s jumper wire out and nothing happens, the Pirate keeps on idling sedately. Pin 5 is the other half of the engine stop switch circuitry. Pin 4 is the connection that is common to all of the functions. Pin 5 is the wire I would have cut with a shaky, clammy hand had I have been on the bomb squad, sweating bullets with three seconds left on the ticker. Aren’t you glad I’m not on the bomb squad? I am. I am also glad that I took my time with this one and did it right. On the Hayabusa I would have spliced a wrongly cut wire back together. On the Beemer, the fear of the almighty CANBus and its renowned bitchiness saved me from myself.

The Pirate Is A Dead Man Girl!

This is a walkthrough of installing the PMR Stealth Kill Switch Combo. If you have another bar-mounted switch the install should be fairly similar.

  • Remove the two-part housing of the right-side control pod. There is a small Torx-7 screw on the bottom part of the control pod’s housing, use firm, steady pressure and a precision screwdriver to remove it. Pull the front of the housing down and towards the front of the bike, until the plastic hinge on top separates and the two halves are free of each other.
  • Unplug the harness plug from the top portion of the housing and place it out of the way.
  • Use a Torx-27 socket or screwdriver to remove the two bracket bolts that secure the front brake lever assembly. Hold the assembly with one hand while you switch out the OEM bracket with the PMR switch housing and use the supplied #5 Allen bolts to fasten it to the bar. Don’t torque the bolts down just yet you still need to be able to move the assembly around a little.
  • Route the wires of the tether kill switch to your liking and determine where you are going to splice them into the OEM harness.
  • Once the position of your splice has been determined, cut the rubber tubing that protects the wires from the elements and from chafing. I used hubby’s nail scissors from his grooming kit, which are extremely pointy and razor sharp (shhhhhh! Don’t tell Mr. Slow.) Be careful not to nick the wires’ insulation. Once separated, cut a horizontal slit into the sleeve. This makes it easier to pull it out of the way and will also accommodate the added thickness of the bundle due to the newly spliced-in wires.
  • Pull, then push-roll the tubing out of the way to expose the wires where you will splice in your tether kill. Give yourself plenty of space to work here.
  • Snip the black wire with the blue stripe. That’s the common. IMPORTANT: If the colors of your harness wires do not match mine, you’ll have to find the wire that is connected to Pin 4.
  • Strip about ½” of insulation off the ends of the four wires.
  • Slip heat shrink tubing over the wires before you twist them together. I used 3/32” diameter tubing for the v-joint and 1/8” diameter for the straight joint. This way you won’t have to bend any wires and they’ll lie nice and flat against the harness bundle. It doesn’t matter which of the wires get paired, as long as you make the circuit whole again.
  • Twist the wires together then solder the connections.
  • Position the heat shrink over your solder joints and use a heat gun to shrink them down. Be careful where you point that thing, you don’t want to melt any of the S1000RR’s tasty bits, such as your brake or throttle lines.
    [Alternatively, you can use crimp-style butt connectors, solder or crimp in quick disconnects, or use gel-filled 2-wire IDC (Insulation Displacement Connectors) butt splices but they will make your harness bulky and unless you can hide them somewhere, extremely visible.]
  • To test your work crank up your bike. If it doesn’t start recheck your connections. Pull the plug out of the tether kill switch and your bike should die. If it doesn’t, in my best guesstimation I can’t help but assume that you screwed up somewhere… big time. I’m washing my hands of that one right now. *nods then turns and walks off quickly* “Gotta go!”
  • Carefully pull the protective sleeving back into place. You might have to slit it some more to accommodate the new wires without bunching.
  • Use electrical tape to wrap the spliced area tightly. It’s best to do it at a 45-degree angle and keep the stuff taught as you wrap the bundle.
  • Follow up with friction tape to keep the electrical tape in place and from gumming up the works first time it gets hot and dusty. I also secured the ends with smallish cable ties to prevent them from unraveling.
  • Go for a test ride. Don’t skip this step, it is VERY important to the entire process. It bears repeating: Go for a damn ride!

My work here is done.


Philosophize This: Life is Crap.

Seriously. How can everything be looking so bright one moment and not nary a half a day later be so damned dark and foreboding. Ok, it’s not THAT bad. Give me a little artistic license here, will you? After I just went on and on about how you can’t take no for an answer in life. After saying that, no matter what, you need to just keep pushing at it. Have I already forgotten my own lesson? Ah! In the moment of weakness. Bleary and hopeless. It’s not even anything the world has done to me. Really. I am (again) frustrated by my own limitations, and depending on how severe I perceive such limitation to be, the harder my happy-go-lucky attitude falls on its ass. So I moan and groan, I mope around, feel sorry for myself, then I take a nap. The world looks different after a nap. Maybe I was just exhausted (I’m having a problem with fatigue lately) or maybe I just had one of those “moments of the female kind” (I’m having a problem with mood swings lately, too). When my brain is wide awake and ready to roll and the body says “Fuck You!” I get a little irritated. And when this happens to me in rapid succession with three different things, I get positively annoyed and am ready to make anyone in a 50-foot radius suffer the consequences. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned! The Wrath of Busa. I’ve been dealing with mood swings, fatigue, and irritability since last winter (just to mention a few of the things that are plaguing my general happiness). First I thought the family drama that was going down at that time, had me singing the Blues. Eventually, I went — begrudgingly, I might add — to see my doc. After explaining what I was going through, he put me on an antidepressant, which I took myself off of not too long ago. I kept telling him, I’m not depressed. I’m fucking happy! Or I should be, but I can’t enjoy my life, because I’ve no energy, that I am so fatigued that all I can do most days is work and sleep (never mind eating). He doubled my dosage, I flushed the crap down the toilet three days later. I think this to be hormonal. Yup. My doctor told me (at an earlier visit) that this is normal for a woman my age (and the treatment is the same, hence the antidepressant) WTF? Dude, you are so not helping. That right there makes me wanna go perimenopausal on your heinie! But I digress…

My Kryptonite: Three personal failures in a row. My fragile ego can’t handle that. I get my proverbial panties in a wad, and it takes me a while to de-wedgie and find my balance and inner peace again and with that the usual can-do attitude returns as well. I’m also my own worst critic, deathly afraid of public embarrassment, and way too shy. (Quit laughing in the back, I heard that!) I make myself do stuff despite my fears and paranoid premonitions, but I also beat myself up over not being perfect. I don’t go into something unprepared. I bone up. I hate surprises and the unknown. I want to know what’s coming. Be mentally and emotionally prepared for it. Be ready. So when the time comes, my educated brain can tell my wimpy heart to go stuff it and I am then free to do what needs to be done. That’s how I roll. I also avoid doing things on my own. Hubby (and some of my friends) call this ‘avoidance strategy’ of mine by its proper name: attack of the common sense. I am frustrated by that, too. That means I have to wait. I’m a “NOW” person. When I have worked something out in my head, I need to put it into action, translate it into physical application. And practice. I’m an academic rather than a hands-on person. Manual stuff takes me forever to learn and frustrates me easily. It makes me feel stupid. I don’t like that feeling. I really don’t. Luck would have it then that motorcycling is 90% mental, huh? So here we are. I took the long way around, but now you know a little about what makes me tick (or ticks me off). Some of the reason behind why I do the things I do and why most of what I do seems backwards to other people. My husband is frustrated by the way I work. He pisses me off the way he does things. We never wrench together. It’s risk management. We’d be throwing tools at each other in no time and probably end up having a knock-down drag-out brawl in the driveway. His riding style makes me have an almost equal reaction. *Ba Dam — Ching* However, it’s a blast to wash bikes with him, especially when I’m holding the hose. =D

I will put them out there now, the three failures that derailed me and made for a shit day:

  1. 9K race starts freak me out, so do burnouts. I can do either, kinda-sorta, in a sissified version of the real thing, but  I can do neither full-on. I know how to execute, my brain knows and tells my muscles what to do. But I choke. Inhibited for some reason unbeknownst to me. This pisses me off. It’s like the wheelie thing. Not that anybody believes me, but I can’t do a wheelie on purpose. I cannot. I tried. Something inside clicks and that’s that. Muscles will not respond to synaptic input. Same with drifting around corners. Another good example. I can do these things when I’m not planning on doing them. When they happen in the matter of course, I deal to correct, enjoy, and carry on, all the while hollering and screaming inside my helmet, grinning from ear to ear, like a madwoman. I see this as a limitation. Mastery, by definition, requires execution upon demand. #FAIL
  2. I can’t change a tire. I’m not strong enough, don’t have enough ass. I know how to do it, but can’t. Again, I have to wait on somebody to help me. I hate that! Not that I mind help when I’m learning, I appreciate it and embrace any advice and instruction given. I prefer it one-on-one though. I don’t want to learn something new with a bunch of people standing around watching my every move. Goes back to the burnout/race start practice. Husband tells me to go to the track and learn it, people there don’t mind helping the fresh meat out, and nobody is going to make fun of you, if you screw up. You’re learning. Not just no, but hell no! No can-do. Won’t. Will not. It’s hard enough to do something I’ve practiced in front of an audience for the first time. I’ll be so nervous I’ll throw up in my mouth and won’t be able to keep my hands from shaking. But others won’t see that, because I’ve learned to cover it up. Probably another reason why people think stuff comes easy to me and that I’m such a daredevil. But, as always, I digress: Here I have this Metzeler RaceTec K3 rear tire, half off its rim, laughing at me. Taunting me. Sitting there as a testament to two of my most recent of personal failures. At least it has no chicken strips! There’s that. I’m hot. I’m sweaty. I’m getting tired and I must have missed a small, but important detail. However, the more YouTube videos I watch of dudes just getting that second bead started with one tire iron and then popping the whole damn thing off the rim with one swift one-armed jerk like there is nothing to it, the more pissed off I get. aRRgh! And I managed to put two nicks in my rim, even after being so careful and taking proper anti-scratch precautions. And here I was still feeling all good about myself because I had just taken one item of my “Unable To Do That Shit” list: Getting the bike on its stands by myself. That had always freaked me out and yeah, it meant a lot when I was finally able to pull it off on my own without any help whatsoever. So, I’ve wrestled with that piece of infernal rubber off and on all afternoon and the bike sits, dismantled with tools and parts laying about, on my back patio waiting on my husband to bail us out. Every once in a while I go look at it and give it the finger. The thought has occurred to me just to cut the blasted thing off with tin snips. meh. I need to go back to the gym AND get a tire iron with more leverage and a bigger curve at the end. Those rim protectors everybody who reviewed them said were shit will also be procured. See… now that I’ve had a nap, stuff is looking up already and I’m back to trying to solve my problem rather than getting jaded by it.
  3. Finances. Apparently, I suck at them. I hate paying bills, that’s why they are all set to pay themselves automatically. I don’t even want to look at my account balances. Every time I do, it depresses me. It makes me feel like I’m spinning my wheels (no pun intended, re: Fail #1), no matter how cheap we get, there’s always someone who needs to get paid who then resets the savings to zero. It hurts to see my racing fund dwindle. Because with that, I equate the possibility that my dream is not even that, but rather a definite improbability. I know it’s stupid to think that way. My intellect gets that. My heart, however, missed the memo. So, I defeat my own self by just ignoring it all, because I don’t want my mood ruined, but that makes it worse, doesn’t it? If it doesn’t make it worse, it definitely  doesn’t help, that’s for sure. In this case, I need to correct a misaligned attitude, a false sense of perception to the possibility of things. But it’s hard to let this one go. Because I know — I have what it takes (not yet obviously, but I have a damned good foundation to build upon) — but look at the lack of progress in fattening up what I dubbed “The Racing Fund” as just another piece of evidence that I really am off my rocker to even entertain the notion in the first place. The old tendency to “be happy with one’s lot in life and not to aspire beyond one’s station” and with that comes the “who cares, I’ll never make it anyway attitude”. Self-defeatist bullshit, to say the least. It’s a hard one to cope with though. Probably the hardest. As with #1 and #2, I eventually will adapt and overcome. I always do. My need for instant gratification is pretty much the reason why I get down on myself when stuff like this happens. I am a perfectionist, which doesn’t help matters either, but I’m getting better.

Way too deep on way too shallow an issue. Such is the life of a woman entering “The Years of The Bitch”. I really would hate to be my husband for the next, say, two to eight years.


Suspension Tuning – Part 1: The Fat Lady’s Got Slammed

After almost one whole month I finally got around to finishing my suspension project, well, the first part thereof anyway. After inadvertently having to lower her rear by approximately one inch (at least that’s what the mech told me) by replacing the stock links with the Brock’s adjustable lowering links. Of course, I hadn’t planned on that. I had assumed that the Brock’s links at their shortest would be the equivalent of the stock length, but I had assumed wrong. Maybe a pre-purchase email would have been in order. Oh well… that kind of nixed the plans to keep the geometry as close to stock as possible, unless I could somehow offset the change by raising the fork tubes through the triple clamp more.

Let’s recap: I needed to raise the fork tubes by 4 mm to offset the undesired rake/trail increase that was caused by getting rid of 5 mm of rear preload to bring my rear sag within range. My front suspension at rest was also too low, so I needed to bring that up by about 16 mm, which is done by cranking in 16 mm of preload, which in turn is raising the bike’s front up, increasing ride height (which, in my case, is also undesired); to offset that, I needed to raise the fork tubes by 16 mm. We are now at 20 mm of tube raising and 16 mm of added front preload.

That was the plan, without the rear being lowered from stock height by the adjustable links from the start. No big deal, Mike (goldiron), my resident suspension expert and all-around hero, had implored me to lower the thing by an inch or two anyway, due to my persistent short-shit problem. I wasn’t fretting it. I figured I’ll work around that and balance it out with the appropriate adjustments. Needless to say, I hadn’t really thought that through all the way. Never had I considered the adjustability of the Hayabusa’s stock hardware, or the lack thereof. Seems to me Suzuki doesn’t want us to play around with their stuff much. Case in point: a top triple clamp upper that doesn’t have holes big enough to fit fork tubes through.

I ordered myself a convertible Pit Bull fork lift stand, to enable me to unload the Fat Lady’s front suspension, so I could slide those tubes through that newly acquired Exoticycle top triple clamp upper. It arrived in the mail shortly thereafter and two days later I was ready to finish what I’ve started a little over a month ago. You have to take the fender off to use the thing on the Gen II Hayabusa. What a pain in the ass that is. And it doesn’t seem that way at first. Three screws on either side and a little bracket that holds the brake line in place. Yaright! The screws are out. Squeeze… doesn’t fit. Shit, I’m gonna scratch the hell out of my beautiful fork tubes. Screw that. Oh, I see. The little hose bracket. I stick my skinny arm up under there, between the tire and the loose fender, and grope around blindly. Hex nut. No problem. I stick a socket (minus the ratchet) up in there and remove it. Squeeze. Shit. Now what. Oh hell! There’s another brake line clamp dead center on the top of the fender. Shit. It’s a complete circle. WTF? How am I supposed to remove that. Surely, they don’t mean for me to undo the damn banjo bolts? Jackasses. Time to consult the service manual. Suzuki’s documentation sucks! Their service manual is shit. Their owner’s manual is of equal quality. What the hell do I do with “Disconnect (b) then remove fender piece.” Disconnect how?!? Assclowns. Well, yeeeaaaaah! I look at the thing. I’m cold, my fingers are cold, the wind is blowing 30 mph and I’m not getting any happier. I don’t have patience for this kind of idiocy. Hubby goes inside (apparently he can’t take much more of my antics) but returns a few minutes later: “The peeps on Hayabusa.oRg say to just cut the damned thing off. It’s a Gen II thing, they got cheap and used plastic rivets.” Not good enough! That’s not what the manual says. As crappy as the thing is, they do tell you when you need to replace removed fasteners with new ones, because said removal process destroys said fastener. I feel around some more, frustrated. As the anger grows, so does my grip strength. I can’t squeeze the bottoms together (this is one of those fasteners akin to wall anchors, they go in easy one way, then lock into place by expanding flanges.) Aha! “Hand me the damn needle nose pliers!” I yank on the thing then stick the pliers in between the plastic ring and the fender and squeeze while yanking. I had previously tried it from underneath, with not much luck. Pop! It’s out. w00t! 45 minutes on just the fender removal. I still have to get the infernal plastics off. But I didn’t have to destroy the fastener, like it had been suggested on the .oRg.

Hubby puts the ‘Busa on her new front stand. I don’t have enough junk in my trunk to do it myself. I tried. I need a longer handle. Pit Bull makes them (“ask us about our longer handles, when you desire more leverage”, I should have, but I thought the standard handle would do, after all it’s the front not the rear of the Fat Lady. WRONG!) I’m getting a longer handle eventually. I hate not being able to do it myself. 😐

The Fat Lady's newly lowered front.

A closeup of the Fat Lady's newly lowered front.

I’m becoming quite the expert in fairing removal (if I have my brain in gear and don’t try to do the layers out of order, that is). The fairings are off (and although they are supposed to be in seven pieces, not counting the four pieces in the front wheel well, for me they don’t disengage from each other, they come off as one.) I also have to remove the ram air intake ducts to get enough clearance to the lower pinch bolts to use the torque wrench. We loosen the six pinch bolts. Two on the top triple clamp, four on the lower triple clamp. I was worried that the tubes would slide out once released, but they don’t. They are actually kind of hard to move, even with the bolts almost backed out. This is a job that can be done alone, contrary to what I expected. 20 mm is all we can safely raise the tubes in their triple clamp before we run into the no-no zone (the clamps have to stay on the smooth part, and that’s not negotiable according to the service manual.) It takes a while to get both sides exactly right. Hubby is pushing them up through, then I use the soft side of a rubber mallet to slowly pound them back down into their final position, which coincides with the line between the smooth and grooved parts of the forks. Since they don’t slide very easily this is a tad of a push-pound-push proposition. We finally get them as close as we humanly can. I used electronic calipers to check them; to my best recollection there is a difference of 0.2 mm between the right and the left side. Close enough. I think there are bigger inconsistencies in her chassis alignment out of the crate.

The right fork tube cap: Before

The right fork tube cap: Before cranking in preload

Now, to crank in preload. We need 16 mm to offset the change in ride height, and MORE importantly, to raise the bike on its suspension so it moves the travel up the shock to bring my sag within range. And this is where the fun starts. I have three lines left. To crank in preload the adjuster is turned clockwise which makes the thing disappear into the fork tube cap (for some reason I had it in my head that it would back out). 6 mm of the required 16 mm is all I can do before it bottoms. Drat!!! Oh well. Now it seems that my geometry is seriously relaxed from stock. Oh well. I have maxed out the rear. I have maxed out the front. There is nothing left to adjust. Preload at full-on in the front; preload at full-off in the rear. Fork tubes raised as far as they can safely go. I’m not happy. Shit! Well, off to go for a zip-tied test ride through the same 11-mile loop I’d done previously.

The left fork tube cap: After

The left fork tube cap after cranking in preload

I reduced my effective ground clearance from 4.7 inches (stock, but I don’t know where Suzuki measured this, I’m assuming in the middle) to 3.25 inches at its lowest point (in the rear). She’s 4.125 inches in the front and 3.5 inches in the middle. So I’ll have 3.5 inches before I bottom out and drag hard parts, namely the exhaust. I hope I can get this puppy down the driveway without wrecking my ass. I get my gear on and back her into the street. I’m a little nervous. I go slow, I expect to bottom the thing on the curb, but I don’t. So far so good. I stop briefly to push the zip-tie up against the fork seal and take off. I take it easy at first. I don’t trust the bike. I’m doubting myself. Not my calculations, but the compromises I had to make with the lack of adjustability of the hardware. I’m expecting all sorts of weird shit to happen. But it doesn’t take long to start trusting again. I can’t really feel any significant difference. WTF? The most difference I could feel on this quest for a personalized suspension setup was when I picked her up from the shop after they put the lowering links on for me and consequently dropped her ass about an inch. That was sweet as  hell. I’m a little disappointed in what little effect all that knuckle-busting for hours in the driveway had. But I’m also glad that I really couldn’t feel a difference. That means I at least didn’t screw something up and turned the Fat Lady’s kitten manners into a salivating hellcat.

There is a slight but noticeable heaviness in steering, but that is to be expected with the resulting (and undesired) relaxation in geometry. Hell with it. She’s a drag bike at heart anyway. I have land speed racing aspirations, so I can cope with that. Yeah, I’m a twisties girl at heart, but I can work it. I never experienced a ‘flickable’ bike. I’m used to manhandling massive hardware around turns. No biggie, I have forearms that won’t quit. =D  It’s only slightly worse than it was stock, barely perceptible. She does feel more planted and stable due to her lowering, and I feel more comfortable and in control at slow speeds. So overall, I gained more than I lost. Way more. The only way I can fix this is by replacing stock components, and that seems a little costly at the moment. Will the gains even be worth it? Is it something I should consider, given my newly acquired taste for rapid acceleration and top end speed? I can always get a cheap track bike to satisfy my need to dance through curves. We shall see. I don’t even know yet. I do enjoy wrestling a Hayabusa through the north GA mountains. The Fat Lady can dance, but you got to work with her, she has rhythm but she needs a firm lead. Go in early, come out late, and you better have your line right the first time. LOL Impressive for a skinny runt like me, or so I’ve been told. If anything I do enjoy making this shit look good.

Linkage to the entire series:

  1. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Rider Sag, Free Sag, and Preload
  2. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Plan ‘A’. Plan ‘B’. Plan ‘C’ It Is.
  3. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Exploratory Surgery
  4. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Let’s Go Shopping!
  5. The (preliminary) results: OMG! OMG! OMG! The Fat Lady Can Dance?
  6. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: The Fat Lady’s Got Slammed
  7. Suspension Tuning – Part 1 (Results): There’s a first time for everything…

The Fat Lady’s Laying Low

The Fat Lady's slammed!

The Fat Lady's good side: after lowering the front.

The Fat Lady's slammed!

The Fat Lady's bad side: after lowering the front.


Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Exploratory Surgery

In order to implement Plan C, we will have to find a way to stick some fork tubes through triple clamp holes, which Suzuki decided we weren’t worth having. Screw you! Let’s see what we have here, so I can figure out whether Dremel the darned things out, take the handicapped clip-on holder to a machine shop and have them enlarge my holes (yeah! I said it!), or just buy a blasted third-party solution to a total Brainfart In Modern Engineering.

Linkage to the entire series:

  1. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Rider Sag, Free Sag, and Preload
  2. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Plan ‘A’. Plan ‘B’. Plan ‘C’ It Is.
  3. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Exploratory Surgery
  4. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: Let’s Go Shopping!
  5. The (preliminary) results: OMG! OMG! OMG! The Fat Lady Can Dance?
  6. Suspension Tuning – Part 1: The Fat Lady’s Got Slammed
  7. Suspension Tuning – Part 1 (Results): There’s a first time for everything…