Thursday, 25 August 2016

Evotech Performance: radiator guard

The radiator is a vulnerable component on any motorcycle. Exacerbated by the fact they are almost always located directly behind the front wheel, providing an uninterrupted view to debris. Hmmmm.

A holed radiator will really ruin your day. 
Coolant can be extremely slippery and can take you down before you've realised you have a temperature spike, not to mention the issues with running a bike with a dry cooling system. 

Time to mitigate this risk with a radiator guard. 

Be aware, a radiator guard is not a panacea - it will deflect small rocks and various road detritus, along with bugs - but anything significantly large or determined will get through and cause damage.  

Right then. Introducing the Evotech Performance radiator guard
The company provides a set of 'instructions' via the online PDF (a printed copy is not included) 

For the most part, the instructions are OK - although they do gloss over a fair bit of detail. 

Time for an install post. 

All the required pieces are included, the aluminium brackets are of high quality, as is the hardware and fixings. I appreciate the steel inserts in place of aluminium threads on the guard grill, it shows thought and intent has gone into the design. Gold Star @Evotech. 


First thing to note is that the guard grill is not square. This is not a manufacturing flaw, this is deliberate. 

The grill is a stamped piece of aluminium, as such it is extremely lightweight. The purposeful twist has been created to introduce rigidity when mounted square, thereby providing tension across the face of the guard. Again, thoughtful design. 


Before getting started I recommend cleaning the radiator fins to remove any existing crud and to ensure the surfaces where you will adhere the anti-vibration strips are clean. 


Two brackets are included, one with 2 holes for the right side, one with 1 hole for the left side (rider perspective). The right side goes on first, seated underneath the stock mounting points, in direct contact with the radiator back plate. 


It is important to note - as it is not explicitly declared in the instructions - you must use the supplied hardware when installing the brackets, do not reuse the stock hardware

If you compare the length of the threads, the provided M6 fixings are longer to account for the added offset introduced by the thickness of the brackets.

Get everything in place and finger-tight, do not snug down yet


Next up, cut the anti-vibration strip in half and adhere to the face of the radiator where there is a ridge. Do this on both sides. 


Install the washer onto the M4 hex bolts and locate them on the guard. At this stage, the left side has not been touched at all (other than sticking on the padded strip).



The left-hand side is a bit different in approach. Instead of installing the bracket, then attaching the guard grill, you first locate the grill - attached to the bracket - before bolting the bracket to the rear plate of the radiator. 


This is where the designed twist becomes obvious. Once you align the grill and left-hand bracket with the mounting point there is a noticeable stiffness, giving confidence you've done things right. 

Refit the last (supplied) M6 bolt finger-tight and inspect your work before snugging all fixings down. 

Note - do not over torque any of the hardware. The M6 bolts are threading into the back plate of the radiator and can quite easily strip the treads if over tightened. 

Likewise, the M4 hex bolts are being wound into steal lugs within and aluminium eye in the guard grill - leaning on these fasteners is likely to sheer the lugs out. 

Done and done. 




\BitSar
........only the undetermined are safe, everything else will find a way through. 

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Suspension sorted: MT09 - the way it should be.

Preamble
I am in no way associated with any vendors, workshops, product distributors or component manufactures cited in this Post. 
All components and workshop costs have been completely at my own expense. 

Like many others, I had suffered with the lack-lustre chassis dynamics of the MT09 for too long. It is universally understood that if you intend on pushing this bike - and want to attain the most giggles from the experience, rather than sheer terror - you will need to get rid of the pipe-cleaner fork internals and slinky shock.

For day to day riding, commuting, wheelies and a bit of blatting you can just get by if you're not too liberal with the throttle, you contain your enthusiasm and find inner Zen whilst channelling the persona of a Prius driver.......but, wait! That's not what an MT09 is for, Zen? No thanks.

Something had to be done.


The Parts

Researching potential upgrade paths, weighing up total cost, expected results and anticipated performance was not without its challenges. The choices ranged from cannibalising components such as a ZX10 or FZY-R6 shock for (custom) retrofitting, to complete disassembly, servicing, re-valving and general suspension Voodoo for both the front and rear.

My main issue with these approaches was that the minimal cost saving could deliver a haphazard, untested and ultimately less precise result. The Frankenstein contraption meter was getting too far into the red zone for my OCD. Nope, nope, nope.

Enter the Kit Advanced. A purpose made, specifically designed pairing (with joint R&D) between Andreani and Ohlins.

Oh yes, that will do just nicely. Farken nicely.

As noted, these components are a straight swap for the shock with no modification required and a fork internal drop-out and cartridge drop-in.

The Ohlins YA-335 (S46DR1) shock is a fairly basic emulsion-type unit with easy to adjust rebound damping and pre-load - compression damping is not available.


Installed



Up front, the Andreani cartridge offers pre-load adjustment and both rebound and compression damping. A huge improvement over the stock forks.


Installed - Compression leg

Installed - Rebound leg


The People

Being located in Melbourne, I was lucky enough to be able to call upon Phil Tainton Racing to have the suspension upgrade completed. For those who don't know who PTR is/are - they've been in the business for decades and Phil has developed bikes for road racing and factory teams.

So I just had to have the man work on my bike because...........overkill?

Phil is a bit of a Wizard and a bloody nice guy. He took the time to explain things and conducted the process formally requiring rider (that means me) weigh in, suspension dyno - before and after - and chassis set-up. All to ensure the results were not snake oil or due to positive-bias but were in fact measurable.

Documentation provided - the inner geek satisfied, OCD meter in a very happy zone - thanks PTR!

The communication from this workshop was exemplary - Lynne kept me up to date with parts delivery, progress and handled everything seamlessly. Stella work, rarely seen, ever required.

The Progression 

It's been just over 3 months since the PTR work. During this time the MT09 has been subject to upward of 6,000 kms of commuting, blatting, braaaarping and hooligan-ing. 

The results are night and day - seriously. 

Pogo be-gone. That familiar chassis wallow has been eliminated and I am no longer required to ride around the deficiency. I can trust the bike far more - it now has a footprint, it is planted and I am connected - think bare foot running as opposed to sprinting in gumboots.

Corner entry and exit speeds have improved and I am less fatigued after a hectic ride as the chassis is now doing what it should be doing. 

Fork dive under hard braking is greatly improved and trail-braking delivers swift turn-in without the fear of bottoming out. Furthermore, with both compression and rebound damping the fork action upon loading and unloading offers continuous feedback and compliance. 

High velocity compression can be a little harsh due to the valve-porting. Really though you only notice this after touch-down from a ham-fisted wheelie or hitting a pothole at speed.

Rear squat is gone. Just plain gone. 
When getting on the power at corner exit the shock remains taught and does not let the rear go light as it attempts to retreat towards the swing-arm pivot. The slightly longer shaft has also improved handling by lifting the rear, canting weight forward. 

Do not underestimate the impact a relatively small geometry change can have on chassis dynamics. By lifting the rear, the rake has been marginally reduced, while weight over the front axle has been increased - both factors delivering much better front-end feel and feedback. 



Conclusion

  • If you're thinking about suspension work for your MT09.
  • If you take you're riding seriously and enjoy the innate technicality of it.
  • If you've had a moment, more than once, where you wished you could open the throttle and trust it to stick. 
  • If you want to really get the most of the flickable chassis.
  • If you want more giggles and less terror
Get your suspension sorted. 
Done and done. 

\BitSar 
-- Pogo be-gone. I ride a motorcycle, not a seesaw. 

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Family Ties - Yamaha XSR900

The time had come to finally throw a leg over the Yamaha XSR900, let's do it. 


Motor/Throttle/Clutch + Gearbox

Built upon the MT09 platform, the XSR900 shares the same delightful 847cc triple pot engine with claimed power and torque output figures unchanged, indicating nothing internal has been modified or substituted for this incarnation.

Out of the crate, the XSR900 throttle response is tamer to that of the MT09, it's still far from perfect - especially on small throttle transitions - however in stock form, it is better, smoother, softer?

Clutch action and gearbox feel are identical to that of the 'Niner, that said, the XSR900 seems to have a much quieter clutch basket and does not produce the same rattle the MT09 does when in neutral with the lever out.

Handling/Brakes/Suspension

Right, have Yamaha sorted out the budget suspension this time....................?? Ah, that'd be No.

It is true to state that the stock suspension of the XSR900 is improved to that of the MT09 - however, it's still very basic.

The front has much better rebound damping due to a valve change, however without changes to the overall configuration this can only help so much. Dual-spring rate offers a stiffer feel with less dive under braking,  however there is no compression damping at all. That said, the XSR900 is better behaved than a stock 09.

At the rear the shock continues unchanged and suffers from the familiar squat and untamed unload when getting on the throttle.

The ABS brakes front and back have acceptable lever feel and pull up well, nothing to complain about for this type of bike.

In terms of road manners, the XSR is relatively compliant, albeit a little vague. It'll go where you point it, it just won't give you confidence you're heading there on your terms or as directed.

The three stage traction control intervenes quite early on TC2 (max) and it'll chop a wheelie before you get going, other than that it was a non-issue. Just bump the setting up to TC1 (min) or TC0 (off) and you'll be fine.

Seat/Comfort

Now this is strange.

The seat is higher than the 09 and set further back with a wider tank between the rider and the bars, requiring one to stretch a bit more to wrangle the controls.

Furthermore the plastic tank covers minimise the amount of cutout in the tank around the inner thigh and knee area - exactly where you would pinch your knees.


It's odd, but this design makes it feel like there is a 'puck' attached to the tank and it produces a very noticeable lump when trying to lock to the bike.

In Conclusion 

The XSR900 is a great thing to look at, I personally love the aesthetics of the bike and think Yamaha have really melded current technology with retro style in a remarkably pleasing way. 

I love the central clock style dash - it's extremely clear and adds to the bikes' retro appeal with a Casio Calculator feel. 

The aluminium pieces provide both visual accents and a real differentiation from other bikes of this type, almost like a 'factory custom' look - I dig it. 

Like for like, the XSR900 is a softer, more agreeable and more civilised member of the MT family, perhaps the distinguished Uncle, rather than older brother - after all the MT10 is here and the XSR is not trying to be a brawler.

Post Script

Riding this bike back to back with my MT09 it was very hard to remain objective, and being essentially the same bike, it was difficult not to draw comparisons. 

Let it be known that my 'Niner is no longer stock and has been treated to suspension work and a minor throttle adjustment.

It was actually quite vindicating to ride the XSR900 which is proclaimed to be a more refined package in comparison to a sorted MT09, with the suspension upgrades and throttle tweak the MT09 is propelled into another league - seriously (more about this in a coming post) 

\BitSar
........If only once, some class has been observed. 

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Urban (A)ssault Mode

We all know the MT-09 is equipped we three throttle modes:

A - 'Assault' mode = hooliganism and hammer time in the twisties
STD - 'Standard' mode = bike default setting and good for the commute and touring
B - 'Benign' mode = great for rain and sketchy road surfaces

Key, Lid, Gear - go.
Select (A)ssault mode.

Today called for some urban antics
Ample braaaarping and general civil disobedience.
Public enemy no. 1


The MT-09 is at home being a thug - it encourages bad behaviour and delivers with satisfaction. Braaarp indeed. 

It's Sunday morning, the world is quiet - people are wasting their time on pedestrian pursuits like 'Yoga' or 'Gardening' or .........shudder........ 'Golf' - people are crazy. 

The MT-09 guides me to an Industrial zone outside Melbourne - I am somewhat of a passenger as the bike self-navigates away from prying eyes..



Amongst the noise of the Akrapovic, the wheelies and the delinquency, there was time for reflection.



Golf? Gardening? Yoga?.................
Nope......give me braaaaarping any day.


\BitSar
All aboard the urban (A)ssault vehicle.


Thursday, 12 May 2016

Pressure Test - Pirelli Angel GT

3,500 Kms is distance enough to form an opinion of a Tyre. The boots in question? Pirelli Angel GT.
Scratch that - not an opinion, an informed and measured assessment. Let's do it. 

Pressure
Tyre pressure is both objective and subjective. 

It is objective in the sense that manufacturer prescribed pressures give a rider a starting point - rightly or wrongly. 

It is subjective in the sense that most riders will disagree with these (usually overly high) prescribed pressures and run their own tyres lower. 



For completeness, both the Yamaha owners' manual and the Pirelli Angel GT specified pressures are Front/Rear (F/R - 36/42)

Where (kgf/cm^2) is the same unit measurement as BAR



Considering the lightweight of the MT-09, F/R 36/42 psi is on the high side, even for Sport Touring tyres such as the Angel GT. 

This will not do. 




I've got a route of approx 250kms planned for a shakedown, a mix of coastal flowing roads into climbing technical with some back road shenanigans peppered throughout. 

Tools for the 'job'
Tools is somewhat of a generous term - all you need is a calibrated Tyre Pressure gauge and a good quality floor pump. I use a Slime digital pressure gauge and my trusty old Lezyne push-bike pump.



Using a digital gauge I can easily calibrate the device as necessary - this however is not essential. If using a mechanical or slide gauge, you may not know its calibration point or accuracy. It may sound strange, but this does not matter too much - as long as you know "F/R 32/34 on my gauge feels right to me" you'll be fine. 

Me? I'm anal retentive and like to know (as much as possible) that my readings have an acceptable error margin and are somewhat close to reality. I setup at F/R 34/36 before hitting the black stuff.


Attitude and performance
Being a Sport Touring tyre - if you're looking for super grippy, soft and sticky boots then you're looking in the wrong place. 

That said, the Angels warm up relatively quickly and offer acceptable grip, albeit with a wooden feel and slow tip in. 

The early morning run along the coast provided a mix of sweepers and tighter cliff-top roads. Conditions were wet and cold, high wind, trivial rain and road spray with some gravel washouts in the corners. 


The Angels gripped well enough, changing direction without duress. On corner exit I was comfortable opening the throttle whilst still pitched over with moderate lean-angle. 

Changing pace I head through back roads on the way to some more technical hills, opportunity enough for wheelies and shenanigans. 


The rear picks up strongly when ripping the throttle to loft the front skyward, the front tyre touching down with immediate grip producing a subtle headshake. No problems here. 

As the roads continue to dry out I push the Angels more - to be fair, dry grip and feel is not great, I would report less feedback and road/rider feel than offered by the Michelin Pilot Road 3s I was running on the Aprilia. Significantly less. 

Climbing into the technical section of the ride, I shift back in the saddle, get my weight over the front, move the balls of my feet to the outside of the pegs, grip the tank with my knees - wrap the throttle - Braaaarp. 


Performing a sighting lap reveals a dry and relatively clean road surface - there are some gravel patches on some of the straight sections but the corners are clear. Game on. 

I get busy running this section of road over the next hour, taking some pressure readings as the tyres warm up. By the end of the 'session' they had picked up ~5+%

Going harder on the Angels is not a linear experience. The attitude of the tyre changes from a slow and neutral tip in,  to a sudden falling into the corners as the front pushes wide. 

On corner exit, the rear does put the Yamaha's power down well and I was relatively confident opening the throttle progressively whilst pitched over. Increase throttle whilst decreasing steering rate.

Findings
The Pirelli Angel GTs offer reasonable wet grip and reasonable dry grip. Unfortunately, the amount of dry grip and feel being sacrificed does not legitimise the wet performance on offer. 

During the early components of the test today the roads were wet, but not excessively. The 3,500 kms travelled so far have seen far worse conditions in heavy rain, as such - the wet performance of this tyre has been demonstrated considerably. 

While exploring the available grip, the overall road/rider feel is wooden with minimal feedback. I have had the rear let go on more than one occasion in hot/dry conditions during the previous kilometres travelled. 

That said, I still managed to give them a good flogging today.


It is important to mention that the MT-09 suspension really is not up to the task of the motor and chassis geometry. Some of the shortfalls I have experienced will no doubt be attributed to these lack-lustre chassis dynamics. 

Which delivers a nice segway to this...........


Stay tuned......

\BitSar
How much Angle can the Angel handle? 

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Bike got a new Hat - time for a Blat.

I'd been deliberating for some time on which screen to get for the MT-09: OEM of after-market?

There are some tasty offerings available from the likes of Barracuda, PUIG, Ermax and - of course - Rizoma. But in the end, the OEM screen won out for its minimal styling and seamless integration with the bike.

To be honest, the decision to add the screen was primarily aesthetic - form over function. A small 'Hat' to tie the front instrument cluster and bar taper together. Well what a surprise I got.

This innocuous ~30cm square piece of Yamaha stamped plastic cuts wind quite dramatically. Who knew!

Installation was a breeze - 5 minutes is all it took to remove and refit the stock 10mm hex bolts for the mounting brackets and 4 Philips-head screws for the screen itself.

Time to take the Hat for a Blat.....

I took off this morning towards the hills - conditions were a little sketchy in parts, damp with stringy bark and gravel in the corners.

I found some dry roads on the way home which gave me the opportunity to open the taps and see how the screen deflected high-speed air. Quite a difference, less helmet noise, less turbulence. Game on.

Photo-roll of Today's misadventures.






\BitSar
.......MT-09, the mad Hatter? 

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Black Dog Ride 2016......."The Pirate Run"

The title says it all.......really.

Today was the day for the annual Black Dog Ride to raise money and awareness for mental health and depression. No more of a worthy cause for a bike rally. 

This year the ride was somewhat of a mystery - organised by a new ride leader who was keeping rather quiet during the event lead up. 

Upon arrival at the start point at a well known, and somewhat polarising, Melbourne bike seller in Ringwood - it was announced that the ride was being led and marshalled by a 'Hog' club. 

AKA: Pirates........


All jokes aside, the ride is for a good cause - but this style of riding in not my cup of tea. 

I am a firm believer that a motorcycle should be able to corner with relative proficiency. 
Pirates do not corner - they vaguely navigate port or starboard.

End result - a very slow paced ride on very boring roads.......
I will say no more and just leave this here.....



\BitSar
.....Arrr me hearty