Saturday, January 11, 2014

Might as Well...


A few weeks ago, it had been cold and rainy here in usually-sunny South Carolina, so I had not been out riding nearly as much as I would have liked to. 

The bike has a little more than 40,000 miles on it now, and I have heard that the rear shock absorber loses its damping ability at about that age, maybe before.  Of course, I hadn’t noticed much of a difference because it has aged slowly.  This unit is not adjustable except for spring preload, so there isn’t anything you can do except replace it.  You can get adjustable ones on the aftermarket, but their price north of 6 bills deterred me from going that route. 

It occurred to me that I had a new rear shock/spring in my box of spare parts, purchased on e-bay some time ago.  It was probably taken off a wrecked bike, as it was very new looking, with no dirt or dust on it at all.  So, it was likely that it had very few miles on it; some unfortunate rider likely totaled his almost new bike, though it is possible that he simply replaced the rear shock with one of those aftermarket units to improve performance. 

I decided to change to the new original equipment shock and see what happens. 

I leafed through the shop manual to see how to replace the shock.  The 650R does not have a center stand to facilitate this kind of work, so they recommend removing the lower cowlings and the muffler, which is beneath the engine, so you can jack up the rear of the bike to take the weight off the rear suspension.  I judged that trying to get the muffler off after some 40,000 miles might be difficult, and I don't have a suitable jack anyway, so I looked for some other way to lift the rear end. 

A few years ago, I had rigged up a lift eye in my garage, secured to a stout gluelam beam that spans the width of the garage and holds up the second floor.  I have used this to support the bike when changing the front tire.  I also have a fabric lifting strap and a come-along to use with this skyhook, so I looked over the bike to see if that could be used. 

I reckoned that if I removed the cowlings around the seat, I could fish the strap under the frame and lift up the whole shebang. 

I first used wire ties to hold the front brake on so the bike would not roll while I was lifting it. 

By the way, that flat bar secured by the bar-end weight is the bracket that keeps the wind from collapsing my Hippo Hands and preventing me from getting my fingers around the levers.  

I then set to work on the rear end, and within fifteen minutes, the pretty plastic parts were removed and the back of the bike was hanging in the air, the tire just barely touching the concrete. 

With the suspension fully extended, the upper and lower screw mounts could be removed and the shock easily slipped out of its position.  The new one slid in with equal ease. 

I consulted the manual again for the correct torques, and made the shock secure. 

That looks nice.  It should work like new. 

Oh.  Wait a minute.  That rear wheel looked pretty dirty with road grime and a little chain lube overspray.  I might as well take care of that while I am right here.  I got out my cleaner and wiped down the wheel and spokes. 

As I consulted my service records, I noticed that the air cleaner element needed to be cleaned and reoiled.  I might as well do that while I am into it.  To do this, that gas tank has to come off.  On this bike, there is a little – and I mean little -- room after you remove the screws at the rear of the tank to reach under it and disconnect the fuel line from the fuel pump in the tank and the fuel pump electrical connector. 

Luckily, I had run the tank down very low after the last ride, so it wasn’t very heavy.  Well, since I had the tank off, it would be a shame not to see if the fuel filter was dirty.  Might as well.  The filter is not replaceable, but some of the on-line forums suggested that you could rinse it in clean fuel and backflush some of the dirt out of it by repeatedly squeezing it.  I turned the tank on its side and removed the pump.  The sock filter was only a little dark, but I decided to agitate it in some clean fuel and squeeze it as they suggested.  The fuel turned dark, so I must have been at least partially successful in cleaning the filter pores. 

The air filter element requires that a few more fasteners be removed to slide it out.  When I did that, I noticed that the inside of the air box was dirty ahead of the filter, and some of the oil the filter had in it had puddled in the bottom.  I might as well take off the air box and rinse it out good. 

Do you see a trend here?  This might never end! 

I stuffed some rags into the throttle throats to keep out dirt and anything else I might drop into them.  There is a drain hose and a connection to the crankcase breather on the bottom of the air box that are nearly impossible to reach, so that took a little extra time to figure out.  I vigorously flushed out the air box with detergent and water until it looked new again.  The air filter was rinsed in solvent, dried and reoiled.  I slid it into place, and reassembled everything. 

Since the air filter is so out of the way and difficult to get to, I wonder how many bikes never have it cleaned during their entire lives.  Probably a lot. 

The spark plugs are now almost visible beneath their individual ignition coils, so I might as well check to see their condition.  I assemble just the right combination of extensions for my ratchet and remove the plugs.  

Both of them look nice, with a light brown coloration to center electrode porcelain.  I put them back in, put a little silicone grease in the coil boots and slid them tightly into place.  The primary connectors snap on easily. 

Next up is squeezing the air box back into position between the frame members with their electrical wiring bundles strapped to them.  This was a challenge, and those two hoses on the bottom were even more difficult to put back on than they were taking them off. 

I think you sometimes need tentacles for hands to work on these things. 

The fuel line and pump connector were fairly easy to reconnect, so that wasn’t an issue this time. 

Once everything was put back together, I found that overall the bike was pretty dirty from my last few rides.  It needed to be washed and dried. 

I might as well do that too, as long as I am at it. 

I scrubbed and brushed and sponged until it was reasonably clean.  My daylight was fading as I rinsed it all off with plenty of water from the hose, then used the leaf blower to dry it off again. 

Now that it was clean, a little wax on the tank and those pretty plastic body parts would finish it off nicely.  I might as well, as long as I am at it. 

Then I spotted the chain.  It had gotten wet during the bike bath, and it was time to clean and lube it anyway, so I might as well do that while the bike is off the ground and the rear wheel can be rotated freely.  I retrieved my squirt bottle of kerosene and my chain brush and got to work again.

Before long, the chain was as clean as I could get it, and I sprayed it down with fresh lube. 

That looked good.  I reset the trip odometer that I use to tell me when to service the chain, and I scanned the area to see if I had any spare parts left over. 

Fortunately, there were none. 

After that, I glanced at the clock and noted that it was getting on toward bedtime.  I reluctantly decided that I had to stop looking for things I might as well do, and finish the job I had started. 

Hmmmm.  This could be a disease of some kind…  Maybe I should seek treatment for chronic might-as-well. 

Well, might as well.  Maybe tomorrow. 

For tonight, I put away my tools, moved the bike back to its proper place in the garage, and turned out the light. 

Are you similarly afflicted with this malady?  If so, let me know what the remedy might be. 

1 comment:

rc5695 said...

Only remedy I know of is to wrench like ya did :)
If you itch, you scratch. lol.