At some point, you want more

At some point, you just want more. For the last few years, I have been riding with an Autocom intercom system hooked up to a Kenwood PMR radio for bike2bike communications. I don’t really needed the intercom part, but it was the only way to connect my Garmin Zumo and a bike2bike PMR radio together so I could hear both.

The Autocom Super Pro AVI did well. Sound quality was nothing exceptional, and ok, but it all worked well. I killed one, because the Autocom boxes are not waterproof (these things are designed for motorcycles and they are not waterproof? What where you thinking Autocome??) I replaced it with a second hand unit of the same type and continued using it happily for the next few years.

But at some point you want more. More space underneath the saddle, as modern bikes get less and less space for stuff under the seat and it is always a struggle to find a place for these things. And then it is a struggle to get to the stuff if you need to. Better reception and clarity of speech. Better music quality.

So when I found a shop (www.partsonweb.nl) that offered the excellent Baehr Capo 3, new in box, for just 299 euro, I jumped on it. Baehr equipment is good, but it is also pricy. The Capo 3 system normally costs 639 euro, so this was a more than excellent deal. Don’t worry, they are fresh out and don’t sell it anymore. Happy

The Baehr system is waterproof, so no more worries something is getting wet and your intercom is getting fried. It’s only one small box, with the PMR radio integrated into the device which makes it a lot easier to stow away somewhere on the bike unlike having an intercom unit and a separate PMR radio. The sound quality is much clearer than the Autocom, it really is a step up. It’s more like putting up your headphones. The PTT button doesn’t just let you talk, but it also allow you to change the transmitter channel and change the volume up or down. And it lets you switch OFF the bike2bike transmitter if you don’t use it. This is great. The only thing I have not been able to test so far is the bike2bike reception and clarity, but so far it has ticked all the boxes.

I’ll keep you posted with updates as I get to use it more.

ESA Rebuild: Initial impressions

On several forums there has been some discussion in the past about ESA, alternative ESA systems etc. Contrary to popular belief, our ESA shocks can be rebuild. And to already spur controversy in sentence 3, despite what some believe, these shocks do not suck and they are not bad quality parts. They are however setup to BMW specifications, which does not necessarily corresponds with the best setup.

My K is from 2007 and by now it has more than 50,000 miles on the clock (most of which are mine) and my shocks were getting tired. Not feeling like spending $2500 per shock to replace them, and not wanting to give up ESA either, I did some investigating on rebuilding my ESA shocks.

As it turns out, about an hour from where I live there is a little company called [URL="http://www.jjsuspension.nl"]JJ Suspension[/URL] that rebuilds these shocks. The guy who is running this little suspension shop is actually an ex-WP engineer who was part of the original ESA design team. After WP was bought by KTM and subsequently moved to Austria, he quit and started his own company.

Anyway, first week of January I removed both shocks and drove over to drop them off. A week and a half later, I got the call to pick them up again. Price: 459 euro for both shocks combined, full rebuild, all wearable internals replaced, new shim stacks for a proper setup and of course fresh oil and a new filling of nitrogen. For the last btw, he has build his own tools so he can fill the shocks with nitrogen without needing to uglify the shocks by welding things to the body.

Next step was to put everything back together again and get the bike ready. Let me tell you, BMW does not think up the most user-friendly solutions. I think they do it on purpose.

Today I got a chance to ride the bike for a short while, despite near freezing temperatures. The change is quite apparent. The old Cadillac mode (with free motion sickness), ie 'Comfort' mode does not exist anymore. It is replaced by a setting that is just above the original 'Normal' mode. An excellent and usable setting now.

On the other hand of the spectrum, the 'Sport' mode is much firmer and gives clear feedback from the wheels. At the same time, it does not get harsh or uncomfortable like the original 'Sport' mode and the damper doesn't hydro-lock on you if the roads isn't perfectly smooth like the original makes you feel.

The adjustment range has become smaller, but ultimately significantly more usable. They now feel like proper shocks with a proper setup. As they should have been from the start.

I have only been able to do about 50 miles and mostly highway at that, so this is a very limited first impression, but so far I like what I am feeling. These will hold out a few more miles.

Back

I’m back. For the last two weeks, I have been traveling with friends through the Vosges, French Alps and Tuscany. Lot’s of great things seen, great ridden and lots of fun. Stay tuned for more.

In the mean time, you can preview the photos at my SmugMug.

Short trip, new tires

We went playing in Luxembourg for our annual Ascension Day weekend, and we had a blast. Weather was ok: mostly dry, but a bit chilly. Only really had some rain on the way home. The other times we had some rain, we were having a break and were able to sit inside.

I didn’t do much photography this time. I have been there so many times, it’s like being at home. But I do have one here for you from the hotel we were staying at, down in Kautenbach.
retina

Before the trip, I had to replace my tires. I went with the Bridgestone BT016 Pro front and rear, and I have to say I like these tires. Very grippy, even in the wet, clear feedback and very easy handling. They’re also very cheap - about 100 euro’s cheaper than the S20 for a set.

Spring is here

Well, Spring is finally here and as usual I am not updating my blog.

A few random things have happened since the last post.

- My clutch is working great. No thanks to BMW, but hopefully my fix will prove to be as resilient as BMW’s refusal acknowledge there was a problem.
- I have mounted a Dynojet Quickshifter to the bike and hooked up to the PowerCommander V. The QS is so cool. Clutch-less shifts in just a few milliseconds while keeping the throttle wide open. It does take a bit of getting used to. Dynojet claims the QS requires a 40lbs load to activate, but I find just brushing against the lever will make it activate. So the trick is to not touch the shifter until you are ready to go, and then in one smooth move pull the shifter all the way up. You cannot allow yourself to shift sloppy as that risks it trying to go in between gears, which results in lots of noise you do not want to hear.
- Coming weekend, I will be going on our annual Ascension Day Weekend Tour to the Eifel region. This time we are staying in Luxembourg and doing most of our riding there as well.
- The routes for the big trip are done and finalized. It is going to be a great trip through the French Alps down to the Mediterranean, then along the coast to Cinque Terre and La Spezia. Into the hills of Tuscany towards Firenze (Florance) and through more of Tuscany towards Bologna where we will visit the Ducati factory. Then it is up into the Dolomites, Austria and Switzerland before heading back home through Germany’s Black Forrest. It is going to be fun! Happy
- After 5000km the Bridgestone BT016 are toast. Unfortunately, the Dunlop SportSmart I still have sitting with a good bit of life in it turned out to have a nail in the rear. So I will instead put a brand new set of Bridgestone BT016 Pro’s on the bike. They will not last long enough to include the summer trip, so I will take them off and replace then with a new set before that trip and afterwards put them back on to replace the (then) worn set after the trip.
- The D800 is really nice. I am so stoked about this camera, so of course I will be lugging it along on all my trips. Even if that forces me to use a tank bag which I really don’t like to use. Hopefully I can get a UWA lens before the big trip, as that will be quite nice on those big mountain vistas.
- I quit smoking and started vaping. It’s amazing the things you can smell when you don’t smoke anymore. Of course this means nothing to any of you that don’t smoke, but to me it does. For those interested, after trying a few different options I now vape using the Vamo APV V2 and Kanger ProTank. This is a really nice combination with great taste.

That’s it for now. I will post some pictures after the trip.

Fixes and repairs

Well, last week I finally received the right side panel for the K1200S. This was ordered early June after some douchebag ran into my bike in Andorra (see elsewhere on the site). That’s almost 7 (yes, seven) months it took to get a simple fairing panel. Thank you BMW, for your wonderful service. Read More...

Clutch repair

Well, BMW NL is friendly enough to determine there is nothing wrong with the clutch on my K1200S without even removing the clutch cover or any other sensible diagnostics. Needless to say I am rather annoyed (understatement) and unimpressed with the way BMW handles this.

For those not knowing: a normal K12/K13 clutch engages in the last quarter of lever travel from full out. As annoying as it is, it is the normal designed behavior of this clutch.

My clutch on the other hand requires the clutch lever to be adjusted outward to the maximum distance from the bars (fortunately I have big hands), and then the clutch will engage within 1cm from the bar. This also means with the lever adjusted to a normal distance from the bars, it will not disengage completely. This is obviously not normal.
Read More...

Per gear mapping

Alrighty, with help of an Aussie friend I have figured out how to put the PowerCommander V into per gear mapping mode. Very cool stuff. With the auto tune module connected, I can now create and modify injection mapping for each gear. This means I can add fuel in the lower gears at low rpm and low TPS to prevent it from surging while filtering, while at the same time leaning out mixture at cruise for better economy and it won’t have to be a compromise between the two.

I am so impressed with the PC-V device. It really is a shame that Dynojet doesn’t want to officially support older bikes with their latest model, because it works so beautifully on the K1200S. More people should be able to enjoy the benefits of this great little device.

In case you are wondering: the PowerCommander V for the BMW K1300S works perfect on the BMW K1200S. It is
NOT officially supported by Dynojet, but it DOES work and even Dynojet will tell you that it probably should work if the two bikes are similar enough (as is the case between the K1300 and K1200 series).

To add per gear mapping to your PowerCommander, you require a Vss or speedo sensor signal. On the CAN-bus BMW’s, this is not easily accessible although per documentation the GPS accessory plug has a wire which should carry the Vss. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any signal without some modification. On the up side, the modification is rather simple: just wire a 330Ohms resistor from the Vss to V+ wires and you will find you magically have a speedo signal on the Vss wire. Wire this into the appropriate port of the PowerCommander V, and you can now calibrate and use per gear mapping!

Scotland Trip Report Coming Soon

No updates of yet, but the trip was great, the photos came out great and I will be putting up the full trip report up as soon as possible!

Scotland Route

Not a lot of updates lately, but I have something for you: the planned route for my Scotland trip. Enjoy!

scotland_route

Family visit

I have been visiting family in Austria with my dad for a few days, and we went over there on the bikes. Didn’t do much riding, but I did manage to make some video’s.





They are made on Gabel Pass, near Graz on the B77 from Köflach to Weißkirchen. First one is going up, second one going down on the other side. It is not my usual love of tight and technical, but it is a great deal of fun to ride this road. Hope you enjoy.

Ascension Day ride

Just got back from the annual Ascension Day ride a few of my friends and I have each year. Didn’t take much photo’s and haven’t had a chance to look at what I have, but I did manage to put together a short little video from our ride.



It’s Ramon aka BugBoy on his 2004-2005 Boxercup replica R1100S riding the N27 in Luxembourg. Great road with perfectly smooth surface, most of the way and so nice turns. Not too tight and technical, but fun nonetheless.

More crap from BMW

I have to say, I really like this BMW K1200S because when it works well, it is simply mind blowing. However, after the clutch, and the fueling I am getting really tired of seeing this thing in bits in the shop. Now it doesn’t want to stay cool, it is over heating. Turns out, the thermostat is broken into 3 pieces and partially blocking the radiator. Not the best situation to keep the bike cool. Also, it is giving some intermittent headaches with the idle running. Sometimes it is running high (1500-1700rpm) and taking several seconds to drop back to 1100rpm. This makes it completely undriveable at low rpm. Other times, it just stalls. This is 99% sure caused by the airbox and idle control valve. There is a modification for that, but since my bike is out of warranty and I don’t want to shell out $600 for a new airbox, I am hoping cleaning and polishing the ICV will do the trick. At least temporarely. If it works, I don’t mind doing it at every service.

After this, it better be right because I am getting fed with this crap. If not, I am buying a Honda again.

Out playing

Last weekend, weather was absolutely gorgious, so I went out playing in the Eifel. Jumped the highway at home, crossing the border on to the German Autonahn towards Bonn. Let her stretch her legs a bit, though I didn't get over 220kph due to weekend traffic. Still nice to legally run this fast. Near Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler of the Autobahn and heading to Altenahr, Adenau, Gerolstein, Manderscheid and Wittlich to spend the night in Bitburg. Next day, it was of to Diekirch, Kautenback, Wiltz, Houffalize, La Roche-en-Ardenne and back home through Belgium. Clocked up about 1000km over little bitty twistie roads having loads of fun listening to the sound of the Akra and intakes.

IMG_20110409_2583
Just a little back road.

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Burg Manderscheid, Manderscheid.

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A little church in the middle of nowhere.

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The Beast. Glamour shot. Happy

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Chateau Bourscheid, Bourscheid (Lux.).


All in all, it wasn’t a bad way to waste away a weekend. Happy

Powercommander: initial impressions

Since I only know of 2 persons having made the jump to install the Powercommander V and Autotune AT200 on their K1200S (and that number includes myself), I thought I'd pen down my first impressions.

Disclaimer: Installation of the Powercommander V and Autotune module is NOT supported by Dynojet Inc. and therefor not listed at their website. Should you want to try this, you are effectively on your own as far as Dynojet is concerned. Further more, these are my impressions, empirical data and by no means backed by hard data collected on a dynamometer.

First, let me start with a little background. When I bought my K1200S, I loved the bike. I loved the power, the handling and everything about it. Except one little thing: the hesitations and surging at low rpm, which are mostly (if not only) noticeable when filtering through slow moving traffic. Not too much of an issue, but when between cars with 4" to spare it is nice to have proper control. After investigating and talking to people, I decided to buy a RapidBike3 module in combination with the RBO2 module. The latter is supposed to give you control over closed loop operation of the bike by modifying the signal coming from the O2 sensor.

After installing the RB3, I went on to visit a very highly regarding tuner to have it set up properly on the dyno. This was not such a great success. Not only did he not adjust the RBO2, he plain just disconnected it (WTF?) and he 'forgot' to tune the ignition advance. Not why I spend money on a RB3, over a much cheaper RB1. To the tuners defense, here they basically only sell the RB1, but still. So time to find a different tuner. This one did a much better job. Got the bike running pretty darn good, but he also didn't have any idea how to setup the RBO2. Bummer. Second bummer was after riding the bike for a tank fo gas, which didn't take too long: fuel consumption of 24mpg (10km/l) (!). Gulp.

This was going to prove the theme of my marriage with the RB3: either have a decent running bike, or have decent fuel consumption. Nothing in between. This was getting very frustrating, as the RB module is definitely not a bad product, but without proper tuning it is not going to help you much.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I finally had enough. The inability to do things myself, plus the lack of decent tuners around to do it for me and having spend $300 on dyno runs already, I decided to can the RB3 and get me a Powercommander V with the Autotune module. The idea being, that while I may not be able to make any sensible changes +/- x% of fuel for certain cells, I do understand AFR numbers and this way I can tune it myself without having to keep throwing $$ at tuners and not knowing the result.

So, last week my PCV and AT200 came in and thus the bike went apart. Removed all the RapidBike stuff and installed the new bits. It took a bit of fiddling, fitting and moving parts around to get everything under the seat in such a way that I could still lock the seat, but I got it installed. Removing the stock O2 sensor also proved to be little challenge, but it gave way and was replaced by the wideband O2 sensor from the Autotune kit. Next, the PCV being a part for the K1300S, I loaded up the zero map, which means no change from the BMW ECU and modified the AFR trim table.

Trim table looks like this:
2-10% TPS and up to 5000rpm: 13.8 AFR
10-80% TPS and up to 8000rpm: 13.5 AFR
80-100% TPS and up to max rpm: 13.2 AFR

Now we were ready to ride. Fuel consumption was going to be massive, as disconnecting the O2 sensor makes the ECU go into fail safe mode, which is rather rich (12.5 AFR at the low rpms, according to the Powercommander software). After two 75km runs and accepting changes in between, I could see the fuel consumption go down rapidly on the display of the bike. No hard numbers yet, cause I haven't had time to cover any distance yet. It looks like it is going to be ok though.

More importantly though is the way the bike is running. It is now running like it has never run before. It is so smooth, barely any vibrations, and it has power everywhere (like it is supposed to). With the RapidBike module, it always felt slow to spool up before it took off into warp drive. Now, there is an instant explosion of power. Very addictive and very grin inducing. This is how I remember the K1200S from my test rides.

So, if you are or have been wondering about the PCV and autotune on the K1200 and you are not too bothered by the little fact that it is not an officially supported configuration, just go ahead. It works flawlessly and it does a great job at making the bike run like it is supposed to run. Having only to deal with A/F ratios also makes it easy to understand and deal with and adjust by normal people without private access of a dyno. It does take time to set it up on the road by riding, but to me that is a fun part of it.

In all, I am extremely happy despite effectively having thrown $800 into the wind with the RB3 stuff and dyno runs. I could have saved a ton of money had I gone this route to start with.

In a totally unrelated note, I absolutely love my new Damen Leathers custom leather suit. It still needs to be worn in, but it already feels better than the old leathers it replaces. If you have a weird size like I do, custom made leathers really do make a difference.

Odds & Ends

Well, just another short update. First, my gear. I have decided to go with a custom made leather suit from Damen Leathers. It’s expensive, but it should last me long and the fit will be second to none. It is going to be a bit boring in colors, black pants with black jacket with light grey shoulders, but I couldn’t think of anything more ‘hip’ that would fit both my bikes. So boring it is. Spend almost 3 hours at the shop two weeks ago for them to take my measurements and discuss the various options. I added some ventilation on the chest and on the back for some cooler climate inside during summer.

Second, I ordered a Powercommander V plus the AT200 autotune module for my bike. It is designed for the K1300S, and not the K1200S, but it works just fine as they are essentially the same bikes. I am dumping the RapidBike 3 module. Not because it is no good, but simply because I can’t seem to find anyone who can properly setup and tune the RB3 module with RB-O2 companion on my bike and with my setup. I am either getting a great running bike with appalling fuel economy (10l to 100km), or a poor running bike with decent fuel economy. This possibly has to do with the exhaust muffler I put on, so I am going to change that for a nice titanium Akrapoviç SP series muffler. If you wonder why I am then buying the PC-V, and not keeping the RB3, I probably could. But I am tired of spending €150 on a tuner to have to setup again every time I change something on the bike. The PC-V with AT200 lets me do it myself, while on the road, my way.

There is going to be a lot of riding this year, which is good. Can’t tell all yet, but I will definitely be visiting my family in Austria again, and late summer will see me exploring Scotland with a dear friend from the USA. Once more details are known, I will put them up here.

Keep in touch!

Bike show

Well, tomorrow will be my visit to the annual bike show in Utrecht. I am particularly curious to the new models from Honda and BMW. I have to check out the stands for Akrapoviç, Laser and Dynojet. It is going to be a fun day. Probably not too much shopping (with what money?), but fun nonetheless.

New gear II

I am still driving myself nuts of getting me some new gear. I am leaning towards custom made, as I think the BMW suit might not necessarily fit perfectly and I have doubt on how warm/hot it will be to wear on warm summer days. Thinking a custom made perforated leather suit will do great, and with a windstopper and underlayer it will also work just fine on those days where it is a little colder. But you also needs to carry a rain suit around all the time. Choices, choices.

If only I could find a proper review of the BMW Atlantis suit that tells me more. Very few out there, and they don’t deal with hot weather. I guess it is too expensive for most (like me included).

Gear

I need new gear. My riding pants are torn, and my jacket is worn. I have two options that I like, either get a custom made suit from Damen Leathers, or go for the BMW Atlantis 4 suit. But they are both $$$. Right now, I think I am leaning towards the BMW suit because they are waterproof leathers. No more rain suit! On the other hand, it prove to be a little too much touring oriented to feel great when on my sporty bikes. I need to go fit and try it on.

Whatever I will get, I am sure it will be stretching my finances, especially after the very expensive clutch repair I had to do on my K1200S. Oh well. You only live once, and the only way to enjoy money is when you spend it. Happy

Fuck me!

Well fuck me. I guess I am having a stroke of bad luck. First I replaced the Autocom system that gave up on my Balkan trip, only to find out after a test ride that my headset was blown up too. During that test ride, I also found that despite changing the oil, the bike would still not shift to neutral when standing still. Diagnosing the problem and after talking to BMW, we figured the clutch is toast. Apparently this is a known issue with the K1200 series of bikes, and lo and behold at 54,000km mine is one of them. The big question is, will BMW decide I qualify for the leniency warranty that expires 12/31. If it is decided that I don’t, I will have to cough up the cost myself which means I will be looking at a repair bill of about 1500 euro. Merry Christmas. I hope this was the last of the bad luck for a while, because I sure can’t afford any more. I guess this means I will have to put off getting new gear to replace the old worn stuff I wear now. Not a happy camper.

Sadle and stuff

This weekend, I finished giving the K1200S some much needed maintenance, after having been abused on the Balkan trip this year. Fluids were changed, valves checked (no adjustment necessary at 54000km!), filters changed or cleaned. I also mounted the new Autocom SuperPro AVI on the bike, after the previous one was fried in Greece being submerged in a pool of disinfectant. I now mounted it in the storage compartment underneath the Sargent saddle under the driver seat. This should provide a reasonably clean and at least dry spot for the device and allow me to continue to communicate with my friends and listen to the GPS and/or music. I also bled the brakes hoping it would improve firmness of the lever and give me a better feel, but no such luck. They still are shitty BMW brakes. Time to save up for a pair of Brembo radial masters.

As a little extra, here’s two shots of the bike fully assembled again to give a better view of how things look with the new saddle. Still crappy iPhone pics, but you’ll get the idea.







Until next time. Happy

New saddle pics

Ok, I shot some pics of my new saddle. Made them with my phone, so the quality isn’t near of my normal pics but it will give a pretty good idea of what it looks like.







It really is a quality piece of kit. The fit and finish, workmanship. Me likey.

New saddle

Alright! Today the FedEx-man came by and dropped of a big box containing my brand new Sargent modular sport seat. It is basically one of the excellent Sargent front seats, with a storage pod at the back instead of a passenger seat. Storage pod is painted BMW’s Cosmic Blue, which is the blue color of my K1200S. It fits and looks absolutely beautiful and the finish is amazing. Great piece of kit. Expensive, but great piece of kit nonetheless. I can’t wait for some nice weather to try it out. Think we will get some again this year?