Christmas and New Year flashed by in a heartbeat but what spare time I had was set aside for a little bit of riding and fettling on the bikes. With the great weather we have been experiencing, I took the opportunity to just go free riding on my KT 250. Up until that time I had only really taken the KT on one ride and that was at a Observed Trial in Bulls. Not the smartest idea really as riding a bike in competition for the first time is not the best way make acquaintance, conduct the shake down and learns the limits. However that short foray on the bike indicated that it had a great motor with heaps of torque but required a bit more set up and practice before I was comfortable.
So over Christmas I loaded the KT on the trailer and towed it just round the corner to Long Gully in Wellington. A few things revealed themselves early on in the piece when testing the bike. I really didn’t have the rear brake set up very well at all – this was mainly an issue of the foot lever being in too far making it very hard to dab the brake when you needed it most. A gentle prying out of the lever was all that was required as well as resetting the lever on the spline to get better leverage. A simple change like this made all the difference in riding confidence.
The next thing to reveal itself was that the gearing is actually too low with very little difference between the first three gears. This sounds like a strange for a trials bike I know but there is low gearing and then there is LOW gearing! Setting up the gearing was a bit of an experiment at the outset as I moved from a 428 to 520 chain and also had to build an adaptor for the rear hub to replace the dished sprocket with a flat one. Fortunately when I procured my sprockets from Boyle Kawasaki in Wellington, Pete threw in a range of countershaft sprockets to experiment with. I can see now that I need to move from the 11 to a 12 tooth on the front just to give a better spread and reach when it is needed.
I also need to play with lower tyre pressures. I am running VEE rubber trials tyres which are actually not too bad and are nice and sticky but have a stiffer sidewall than the high end competition tyres. To date I have been a bit reluctant to drop the tyre pressure below 10lbs as frankly the tyres were a real bear to get seated correctly. However, now that I have done few miles on them, I ham confident that they will stay put and hopefully I can get the pressure down to around 6lbs or so. This will improve grip by a fair old margin.
Last thing of note is the standard foot pegs simply don’t cut it and are easy to slide off On that note I have found a set of CRF stainless steel jobs on Aliexpress for $30 that will do the job. These have been ordered and will land in NZ shortly.
Other than that, it has been a case of practice, practice, practice. Learning to slow down, balance, get good throttle control and trusting the bike etc. Invariably I found the KT kept on going when I couldn’t! A few endos have highlighted the bike will keep climbing long after I have given up the ghost - I certainly lack finesse and good body english as a rider. A foray down a swampy gut at Long Gully certainly demonstrated my incompetence in selecting gears and picking lines. Still I can only improve (I hope)…………..
The other activity I undertook was to build up another XL 175 engine. I have had a basket case engine sitting in the garage for some five years or so and always promised that one day I would recondition and resemble it. The engine as I bought it had been fitted with a high compression Powroll big bore kit which looked like that it had shed a piston ring at some stage and the previous owner had simply lost energy to fix it. So it was very much case of stripping the engine down to check its condition and work out what was missing and broken. Stripping the XL engines down is pretty easy particularly given the cases horizontally split.
On balance things weren’t to bad overall. I elected to replace the crank with a spare that I had which had been recently rebalanced by Mark Boyle at Boyle Kawasaki and which had good bearing surfaces. I had to unstick the clutch plates and while all the plates were in good condition replaced the springs with a heavy duty option from EBC. Missing from engine was the cam chain sliders so I procured what I though was a good second hand set on eBay – these were about US$20 – on opening the package though I found the items to be NOS.
Also to be acquired was a replacement centrifugal oil slinger – the old unit was simply seized in place and can only be removed by drilling out the cover. Again this was acquired via eBay. In addition a fresh cam chain was needed – for this I used Jap Bike Spares in OZ who have an interesting array of stuff available on their website. Their prices are good and service is excellent.
The next mission has been selecting a piston. While I had a standard XL 175 piston available it was worn and a bit hammerred after I dropt valve. I also had a big bore Powroll piston that I had was in quite good condition but I didn’t have the rings required to breath life back into it. So I have decided to experiment and use an XR 200 piston. The XR 200 piston is an almost a one for one exchange for the XL other than the diameter and piston deck height is 2mm higher but the overall compresion height is lower. I have gone for about 1.5mm larger piston – this can easily be accommodated in the existing liner and will provide a capacity of 182cc. The differing deck height can either be compensated by spacing the barrel by 2mm or my machining the top of the piston to get the correct height. Im booting for the latter option. This is a job I am going to give to Carl at CEMEK engineering at Petone. We will see – I will keep you posted.
What else, I already have a fresh head which has been ported and is running a stage one cam loafing around so that will be added to the mix when it comes time to bolt it all up. Likewise, I have freshly wound stator which will be added. Once that’s all bolted down it will be good to go.
Speaking of stators I want to have a crack at rewinding a stator for this engine. Im going to see if I can find an old junker stator somewhere and simply experiment. A project over winter.
The rebuild of the spare XL engine and ordering a few spares gave me the opportunity to experiment with the NZ Post YouShop service. In the past when I have purchased items from eBay it can be rather hit and miss on if the seller is willing to send the items to NZ and at what price. If they send the items, most sellers normally charge you an extortionate amount for freight . The YouShop service addresses part of this problem by simply establishing a postal destination under your name at the YouShop warehouse in the USA (and UK for Europe). You then take this address and enter it into your address profile in eBay. The when you buy an item on eBay you simply select the YouShop address and the freight is then calculated for the US address for the YouShop warehouse. When your product arrives at the YouShop warehouse, NZ Post advises you, calculates the freight cost to on send to NZ, bills you and then sends the product to your home address.
There advantages and disadvantages to this system.
The process enables you to select pretty much anything on eBay and get it delivered to your door.
You are not excluded by the ‘will not send to NZ’ or extortionate overseas freight costs.
You can take advantage of lots of deals that simply do not charge any freight costs at all for delivery within the US. My cam chain sliders, piston kit and clutch springs all fell into this category – they were all shipped free to the YouShop warehouse in the US .
NZ Post will provide you with options for the freight/cost to NZ – longer/cheaper, faster more expensive.
The freight costs seem reasonable and are generally cheaper (but not always) that sellers charge when sending items overseas.
You can consolidate orders at the YouShop warehouse and go for a single repackaged delivery. This can reduce overall freight costs.
It’s a two step process – one procure the item from eBay and then when your item arrives at the YouShop depot give direction to NZ Post on what freight options you wish to adopt.
You don’t know the cost of freight until the item arrives at the YouShop warehouse. This is because NZ Post will not know the size and weight of the package until it arrives at the warehouse.
It takes a little longer to process. YouShop will generally hold your item for two days before sending it on to NZ.You are dealing with multiple email messages – from eBay, the vendor, PayPal and YouShop all for the same item – it can get a bit tedious.
On balance I am reasonably happy with the service. It is one where I can elect to use the service or not depending on how happy I am with the freight costs being charged by eBay.
eBay versus Aliexpress
As noted I have purchased a set of new wide footpegs for the KT. The identical foot pegs were available from the same vendor both on eBay and Aliexpress. The purchase price was the same but eBay charged freight costs where Aliexpress offered free freight to NZ. It was a no brainer which one to select.
Generally I have found many new products available on Aliexpress are as cheap if not cheaper than eBay and often the cost for delivery is free. They are also extremely reliable and provide excellent customer service. Worth a shot if you can be bothered.
RD 5 NX VMX
Planning is well underway for RD 5 NZ VMX at Mokauiti. The venue is the same as last year and just down the road from Aria. Note also that the Aria school trailride is on the same weekend so you can make a weekend of it, so stay the Sunday also and go for a trail ride.