Thursday, June 26, 2014

DIY travel sized chain lube kit

 I wanted to pack a small amount of chain lube to take with me on the upcoming trip. I've found that gear oil is a very good chain lubricant and I have been using it for years. The problem is that applying the oil to the chain is sometimes problematic. Spraying tends to get the oil everywhere and just pouring the oil to the chain is not very clever way either. The best way in my opinion is to use a brush on the inside of the chain. This way you can control the amount of oil that is applied. Oiling only the inside works as the centrifugal force will eventually push the oil on the outside too.

Having a can of oil & brush handy at home is no problem, but how to pack the two to take with you...? Having the oily brush rolling around in  your bag is not an option and messing around with plastic zip lock bags or separate "brush containers" didn't feel sensible either. You could just drop the brush inside the oil can, but you would your hands messy every time you used it.


You need:
1 ½ litre Castrol gear oil can with a pouring tip.
1 wooden or plastic paintbrush with a round handle
1 hacksaw

Eyeball the amount of brush you can fit in the can, cut the brush to length, insert the brush to the cap. Screw cap back on. Done.
Now you have an all-in-one brush-oil combo pack that will also keep your hands clean as you don't have to touch the actual brush.  

I bet there is a commercial solution to this, but I just haven't found it yet. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Airhawk (Airhawk 2 small) seat cushion on KTM 690 Enduro R

Airhawk 2 seat cushion on a KTM 690 Enduro R
Airhawk 2 seat cushion on a KTM 690 Enduro R

The big trip is approaching fast. The KTM Powerparts "Ergo" seat just isn't doing it's job and I was getting increasingly anxious about sitting on the OEM seat well over twelve hundred miles in a row. I decided to give the Airhawk a go as it was in stock at many online shops and I could get my hands on it fast enough to try it before the trip.

I ordered the small Airhawk 2 model that is supposedly ideal for enduro style seats. The Airhawk is made USA and it looks solid for what it is. I'm not entirely convinced that 109 euros is justified for this type of product, but since it's not made in China/Vietnam/Pakistan etc. I suppose the price is understandable.

Mounting & first impressions

Mounting and attaching the Airhawk cushion is done by 2 straps that I could swear came from a pair of black womens bras. The straps run under the seat, so removing the seat for installation is a must. The provided straps are both too long even at their shortest "setting" so the cushion will nor stay in place without modifying the straps.

The recommended amount of air is very low. You are supposed to fill the cushion just enough to keep your buns off the seat. Overfiling the cushion will make it feel truly awkward. Tried it. The feel of the Airhawk is a bit squishy when you sit on it, but it instantly feels that it may very well do what it promises, that is eliminate the pressure points created by traditional seats. The size of the pillow is a bit too small. There is no room to move your seating position what is one of the big benefits of having a dirt bike saddle in the first place. The Airhawk should /could be 5-10 inches longer for the 690 Enduro and the like. I'll update this page when the longer trip is over and done with.

The Airhawk is a bit of an eyesore when mounted on the bike, but the 690 is hardly a bike for posing anyway.

UPDATE [13.10.2014]

The Airhawk worked really well during the trip to Norway. My butt never became sore during the trip, but the cushion really should be a bit longer. I had my gear set up so that I really could not change position very much, but even with no gear the Airhawk that I have is a bit too short for the enduro style seat.

Way too much air in these pictures
Airhawk 2 seat cushion on a KTM 690 Enduro R
Airhawk 2 seat cushion inside
The insides 
attachment straps 

Airhawk 2 seat cushion
Airhawk 2 - small 

Airhawk 2 seat cushion valve
the inflation / deflation valve 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The toolkit surprise

2014 KTM 690 Enduro R toolkit
2014 KTM 690 Enduro R toolkit 

I took a peek in the tool bag today. Purely by accident as I was looking for something else but found the tool bag instead. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by what I found in there. Unlike with all the other bikes that I have owned the KTM toolkit actually contains most of the tools you need to take care of small repairs on the road. With the tools provided you can pretty much tighten or undo any bolt or screw on the bike. KTM has also thoughtfully provided a 2 beer bottle openers in case one gets misplaced. Good thinking. Nothing ruins a trip like beer you have with you, but can't drink.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The little brother - 2014 KTM Chicago M-Disc mountain bike

I know next to nothing about bikes, but I needed one and a KTM seemed like the natural choice. I could have gone with a road bike, but I felt my bike needed to have knobbies out of principle but also because of the winter commute. Finding an online dealer that sells KTM bikes turned out to be surprisingly difficult. None of the big online retailers like or seemed to have KTMs. After some furious web surfing I stumbled into which turned to have a good selection of bikes at very reasonable prices. (saved a bundle compared to the prices of the only in country retailer). More importantly the customer service was superb. I got very fast replies to all  my e-mails and they went to some extra trouble of switching the brakes on my bike, as I originally inquired about a bike that had different brakes than the one I ended up ordering.

The bike arrived in a neatly packaged box. The wheels, gear changer, handle bars and pedals needed to be assembled on the bike, but even without instructions it was not too much trouble. The fenders are extra accessories as is the luggage rack. The fenders came with the shipment, but the rack is el cheapo brand from some discount store. I did go the extra mile by swapping the brakes around so that the right brake is the front as it should be.

What does all this have to do with the 690 Enduro R. Nothing. I'm hoping though that using the mountain bike gets me into better shape and let's me enjoy the 690 a bit more. 

2014 KTM Chicago M Disc

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

2014 690 Enduro R fuel economy

So far my personal record is 223 km (or 138 miles) before the reserve light comes on. That equals a consumption of  4,26 liters per 100 km which meas that you get 23,4 km per liter (or 55,2 miles per gallon). I made no effort save fuel, but I didn't ride like madman either.

On a slightly related note, I haven't once managed to insert 9 liters of fuel to the the tank once the reserve light comes on let alone 9,5 that should fit in there given that the reserve tank should be 2,5 liters. This leads me to believe that the warning light comes on a little early and the actual consumption may be slightly less than what I've calculated.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

+500 km test run

As preparation for the upcoming longer trip heading to the shores of the Barents sea and Norwegian sea I did a + 540 km test run. The purpose was to test the packing and most of all the bearable daily saddle time on the 690. The long trip has to be done in 3 days which means that on average the daily amount of kilometres must be around 700 (435 miles). I had no doubts that the bike could handle anything that was required, but my ass on the other hand, might not. I decided to ditch the "ergo" seat and use the standard seat as it feels much more comfortable no matter how I've tried to break in the ergo seat.

Test run results

Seat / comfort
8 hours of seat time today. The stock seat is bearable, but at 400 km (5-6 hrs) mark it was not really fun anymore. Riding standing up is not really an option at higher speeds as it too wears you down. 

As expected the daily km amount of +500 is no issue. Today's run was over 9 hours, but only because the route included some pretty tiny forest roads.

The waterproof duffel bag works good enough. I will be ditching the KTM rear bag. Refilling is a chore, but it only takes 3 minutes extra to move the bag out of the way and back again. Not too bad. I will be packing only the bare essentials, so the duffel and tank bag combined will be enough. If push comes to shove, I will put some stuff in a back bag.

Everything is very comfy up to 94 km/h. After that, there is still plenty of go left, but some buzz starts to make itself know. Neglible at first, but once you hang at 100 km/h for an hour, you will feel it.