I have been thinking of that old Gilda Radner SNL line all day. It all started as I headed out to start prepping my bike. Okay, well actually it started the other day when Malcolm Smith called. You see, Malcolm doesn’t normally call. For that matter, I didn’t even know he had my number. So he starts into a spiel about how would I like to go to Baja with him and Alexander for 6 days, expenses paid blah blah blah. He could have just stopped talking at “Baja”, but I let him get the whole thing out before saying yes.
So yes, I am excited to head south next week and yes it is cool to get the chance to go ride with Malcolm and Alexander. We will have a chase van and everything, so no backbacking it like usual. I hope to post as much from the trip as I can, so stay tuned for that.
Now where was I? Oh yes, headed to the garage to prep a bike. When I last talked about the 450xc trail bike, I had the clutch apart. While I was at it, I decided to replace the oil sight glass. It has been a long time since I could actually figure out how much oil there was without using a strong flashlight. Even then I had to get the angle just right to sort of make out an oil level. Those sight glasses get sandblasted to a nice opaque finish pretty easy. So I had to order the part and of course I never actually got around to getting the whole bike back together.
But that wasn’t too much work. After the clutch side was together, I also had to replace the tail light. My license plate and holder are laying on the ground somewhere down south. I must have bottomed the bike hard on the last trip and caught the whole thing. But I had a spare set up from an XC-W and it mounts better anyway, no more floppy fender.
Sicass racing sent me a cool new LED tail light to replace the stocker and it is about 10 times brighter than the old 1157 bulb. “Plug and play”, that is their moto. The problem is, at some point when I rewired the bike, I mixed up the male and female connections, now I am staring at two male connectors that don’t want to fit. No big deal, I think I have the parts to fix this one. After some scrounging I find another female part and get it all together. Sicass stocks all those funny KTM connectors in bulk, so I try to keep spares in the shop for just such occasions.
So the big projects are out of the way. Now I just have to do the usual prep and I will be ready for another ride. Looking at the chain I remember that I swore the last trip would be it for that kinked and rusted part. No problem, I have a new one in the box. That countershaft has got to go also, it is down to slivers were the teeth should be. But do I have another one? I have a 14 and a 13 tooth, but no new 15’s. I scrounge up a used one that is plenty serviceable, so that is covered.
The 48 tooth sprocket on the rear is fine, looks like new. But that reminds me, the previous ride was also going to be the last one on that wheel. It has a ding that is almost big enough to let the tube show. Even so, that is not the real problem. After thousands of miles of abuse, the hub is starting to crack around the spokes. Not just one or two places, but everywhere. I really wouldn’t want that to blow apart going down the highway.
Fortunately I just bought an awesome set of take off OEM wheels, but they are set up for racing with mousse’s. I don’t really want to run the those, so what else do I have for a wheel. Let’s see, I can pull the one off the other 450xc. Ok, but what do I have to put back on that bike? The 19″ will do for now, but the tire is flat on it. Should I fix it while I am at it? No, no time, plus it needs some spokes anyway, so it is not really rideable. There goes another unfinished project, pushed back into the corner.
Now I don’t have another 48t, so I need to swap sprockets on the wheels. Is this project ever going to end? Tires, I hate to start a Mexico trip with new tires because they get ruined so quick, particularly going down the highway. But we are going to ride at least 5 days, so I need something good. I have at least 4 perfectly good, half used, tires, but the pile of new ones is just about empty. So, decide to make a quick trip over to Damaged Goods, the local motorcycle dismantler. It is always good to have such people around. I find the perfect thing; a slightly worn Maxxis IT for the rear and a near new Bridgestone 403 for the front. The Maxxis is one of my least favorite choices, but it wears like iron, will probably look just the same when I get back home. $20 bucks for the pair, can’t beat that.
I have the tires are mounted. While I have the chain off I should replace the chain guide, it is way over due. Also, I am going to move the rear wheel forward. The old chain had too much length and was clear at the end of the adjusters. One link shorter will be perfect.
Now the real trouble starts. Want to take a guess? Chain adjuster bolt won’t go in, the threads are messed up. I take it apart and look at it, the whole thing, bolt and threads are a mess. Now what to do? I have already cut the chain. After some head scratching I go and look at the bolt in one of the many old swingarms I have for the ’91 bike. The bolts are smaller, so no help there. Finally I decide just to stick the smaller bolt in and just let it float there, the lock nut will keep it in place. That is more or less the way a Gas Gas does it, so it should be fine.
As you can see, it is always something. Not matter how good a bike is, things just wear out and have to be replaced. When you let lots of little things go, they all come back to make one big project. My quick bike prep has turned into a full day ordeal. I certainly hope I have got it all done now. It would be a little embarrassing to show up on a ride with Malcolm and have bike issues. I should just play dumb and forget that KTM has told me that they really don’t want me taking their bikes to Mexico, that 2012 500EXC would be just the ticket. Sure is nice when you can just let someone else worry about the maintenance.
Here is a little something to close with. I couldn’t find a good clip of Gilda doing the “It just goes to show you…”. This is a spoof of the Gilda Radner sketch, a Rainier Beer commercial from the period.