Of Minds and Motorcycles

"Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them." - Ann Landers

So when we last left off, I was talking about the air forks on the XS1100, and why I don't like them.

The truth is, they're actually not that bad. Or maybe they've just grown on me since I've gotten to know them so well.

We were last doing a fork rebuild, and we were on Step 4 which involved draining the oil. So onto...

Step 5: Remove everything and once again forget to take detailed pictures of how you did it. Basically you remove the dust boots, remove the springs, pull out the inner tubes, and remove the inner rod things (damper rod?). But here's a good picture of everything spewed out all over the worktable:

fork components

Let's go over the components. From bottom to top (because I do things unconventionally) we have the inner tubes, the inner rod things including the rebound springs, the stanchions (I hate that word) and the main springs (long ones). Then we have the drain bolts to the right of the stanchion, fork caps with air valves (damned air valves), the seal retainer clips, and finally the dust boots (replace them with gaiters for that extra hipstery bling).

Step 6: Remove the stubborn fork seals. When I say stubborn I mean STUBBORN! These things just wouldn't come out. I tried first with a screwdriver, then bought a seal puller from Crappy Tire, then went with a bigger screwdriver. I finally realized that the bigger screwdriver was doing the trick, it just required patience. Like everything in motorcycle maintenance, patience is essential. The seal probably took 5-10 minutes to pry out once I had figured out the proper technique.

seal puller

Seal Puller

Jay came by the garage again, and was able to take some pictures of me prying out the seals.

Prying seals 1

Prying Seals 2

Prying Seals 3

And finally here's the fork seal almost fully removed:

Fork Seal

I was surprised to see a pretty big gouge mark on the side of one of the seal seats. My guess is this was there before, since it wouldn't have been possible for me to have made that mark with the screwdriver I was using. I am a bit worried about whether this will properly seal or not in the future. I also tend to worry way too much! So a smart person would probably tell me to: "deal with it as it comes," or something like that. Or at least, stop worrying. It doesn't continue all the way to the bottom, so there is still some sealing space, although not very big. I won't be adding any air pressure to the forks with the new springs, so hopefully this will seal well enough.

Gouge mark

Step 7: Lower your forks. Well at least I'm going to lower them. To do this you have to make spacers to fit between the rebound spring and the top of the damping rod. It's counter intuitive because you are actually lengthening the thicker section on the damping rod, but it will all make sense once it gets put back together. For now I made this rough sketch and sent it off to a machinist I know. We'll see if he gets confused by my informal drawing.

That's it for the forks. I'll finish up with the rebuild when the spacers are done.

Freeing up the frame triangle

So there's a popular trend to make the rear triangle on your frame completely open and free. Usually this area is covered on both sides by plastic covers, and is filled with electrical components or oil tanks. I definitely am not a fan of plastic, and so I too try to remove as much of it as I can. The problem with the XS is that the battery is huge! So big in fact that it's extremely hard to hide anywhere else, even if I went with a lithium-ion one. So I've decided that I'm just going to make my own custom battery box that looks decent. Yes you'll see the battery box in the triangle area. Ok so maybe I won't be able to get the bike featured on Bike EXIF with a battery in plain sight, or the 1 Moto Show, but fuck it! Bikes have batteries, and you're going to see this one.


Some of the tabs I removed

Make it kickstart only! - Some cool guy.

I would cool guy, but I don't want my leg to fall off. Or more I don't want it to break off. Not that I'm experienced at kickstarting anything other than a 2-stroke, which is great fun; but I've heard that larger engines can really kick back, and as much as it would be fun to have a kickstarter, I want this thing to be easy to start.

The slightly less hipster Hipster Triangle:

I'm now calling this area of the bike the Hipster Triangle. So I started cleaning up everything on the frame and cutting off all the unnecessary tabs. Because I'll be making most tabs I need from scratch, the plan here was to remove basically all tabs. You have to be careful though; when you grind the tabs down flush with the tubing, you don't want to remove any of the tubing material. This sounds easy but is actually very difficult, especially in some of the tight spaces of the frame. I learned this after grinding too much down when welding the rear loop. So this time I ground down almost flush with the tubing, and my plan of attack for today's work will be to take a hand file and grind the rest down by hand... slowly. It's a tedious job, but it's the right way to do it. So this is what it looks like as of last night:

I even removed the mounts for the centerstand! Yes, a ballsy move I know.

I finished late last night and had another episode of eating takeout while watching Top Gear and passing out on the couch in my clothes.

Until next time...

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: