My BMW R1150 GSAA at Deals' Gap

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Entries by Brian Young (39)


Happy Trail SU Rack Installation on a new (to me) KLR650

What? Another Kawasaki? Yes! I spotted well-farkled 2015 KLR650 at my local BMW dealership in late October and brought it home. It had been recently traded on a BMW GSA and already had many farkles on it that I would consider if I'd bought it new. Oh, and it had less that 600 miles on the clock.

There's lots of farkle to look at on this bike and some things you wouldn't notice, too, like the Schnitz 685 piston kit.

Having previously set up my KLX250S with a set of Happy Trail SU Racks and a pair of Pelican 1550 cases, my immediate thought was to set the KLR up so that the cases could be used on both bikes. Unfortunately, the newer SU Racks have a welded in plate near the top, that provides two hard mount points for panniers. The older racks on the KLX are completely open, requiring a pair of pannier mounting pucks on the top instead of the hard mounting points.

The right side SU Rack for the KLR is shown below, with the brass hard mount points. From my work on the KLX, I had a set of knobs that would screw into the hard mounting points from the inside of each case.

Because I wanted to preserve the existing drilled holes in the Pelican cases if possible, I did some fitting and measuring on the bench before starting to mount the racks to the bike. Through some email exchanges with the folks at Happy Trail, I'd obtained a drawing (Teton .1 premount measurements.jpg) that supposedly shows the correct dimensions between holes necessary for drilling a set of panniers for use with SU Racks. The drawing indicated that the distance between the center of the two top holes should be 4.53".

I happen to have a Rotopax Adapter plate from Happy Trail that fits a SU Rack. It comes pre-drilled and powder coated, so I compared the measurements from the drawing to the holes in the plate. I found the distance between the center of the two top holes to be 4.375". Just to make sure, I checked that the factory-drilled holes in the adapter plate align to the hard mount holes on the new SU Rack. They did, as one might expect.  So, caution is advised when relying on any Happy Trail-provided drawing.

After confirming the correct dimensions using the adapter plate, I matched up the right and left side SU Rack with the matching Pelican case. I removed a little bit more plastic from the ridge on the bottom of each case for improved clearance and marked the locations of the two new holes.

The locations of the two holes to be drilled are visible in photo below. The two aluminum pucks at the top won't need to be relocated. These fit over the lower bar of the SU Rack.

Once the hole drilling was completed, I had a decision to make. I could leave the original two holes for the possibility that I'd use the cases again on the KLX250S, or find a way to plug them and use them exclusively with the KLR650.

I decided that with the KLR650 in the garage, it would be unlikely that I'd ever mount the cases back on the KLX250S.

I chose to use some J-B Weld to plug the holes - because it's what I had. Some blue masking tape was used to cover each hole from the inside of the case. A toothpick was used to unscientifically fill each hole with J-B Weld from the outside. Once dried overnight, this made for a cosmetically smooth surface on the inside and a relatively smooth, but imperfect surface on the outside - not that anyone with a KLR should really care about too much.

Now on to the mounting of the actual SU Racks...

There are videos out on the web that provide helpful details. One claimed that the installation should take 15 minutes. I can tell you that your mileage will vary.

I started by installing the right side rack, using the Happy Trail-provided instructions and YouTube for visual support. The kit provides two replacement inserts for bolting up the rear-most rack mount point with the turn signal. When bolting up the right side, I immediately found that the Kawasaki turn signal mounting bracket "lip" wouldn't align properly over the frame. I started to worry about crushing the lip when tightening the bolts later, so I experimented with a couple of possibilities.

The Happy Trail-supplied mounting insert is shown below - oriented the way one would expect it to fit inside the frame. The egg shape matches the open area in the frame it's supposed to go into.

While fighting with alignment of the turn signal bracket, I tried reversing the insert (L-R). It still fit, but didn't solve the problem. Going back to the original, and expected orientation, I tried a different approach.

Rather than bolting up and aligning the turn signal bracket with the M8x65 bolt in place first (refer to the Happy Trail instructions), I got some help from my wife to loosely hold the SU Rack in place while I installed the two M6X30 bolts for the turn signal mount. Success! I was able to align the rack and turn signal bracket without fear of crushing the lip of the bracket later! With the bolts in place, I reinstalled the M8X65 bolt and continued with the rest of the assembly.

When installing the left side rack, I didn't have any alignment issues with the turn signal bracket on that side. Luck?

Here are some photos of the installed left and right side racks:

If you have a keen eye, you may have already spotted the one last challenge I would need to solve.

Hint:  It has to do with the rear bumper bracket that bolts to and separates the left and right side racks.

Here's a better picture of the problem:

As assembled, the rear bumper bracket fit very tightly against the KLR's fender, actually pressing on and deforming the plastic.

At first, I was disappointed, but figured it was acceptable, as the fender plastic didn't look like it was in any danger of breaking. A friend suggested that the bumper could probably be bent down to provide the proper clearance. I'd think about that.

About a day later, I was still thinking about the problem and had what I call an epiphany. It happens - usually in the shower.

Since the rear bumper bolts on, what about simply flipping it over? Maybe it would fit better. Out to the cold garage I went and within a few minutes, I had my answer.

Flipping the rear bumper over completely solved the problem. Here's another opportunity for Happy Trail to improve their documentation with a few extra details.

Since I'm getting older, I took the time to mark the rear bumper for future reinstallation, as shown below:

It was nice to have this problem solved without resorting to bending things!

In conclusion, here are a couple of photos showing the racks with the Pelican 1550 cases mounted. Overall, I'm very happy with the installation and ability to reuse my existing cases. Enjoy!


Denali D4 Installation - 2007 BMW R1200GS

Summertime riding in North Carolina can sometimes be a bit uncomfortable. There are those that tough it out and those that choose to spend a hot Sunday in in a garage adding farkle to a bike. Guilty! And so is Dave. It's his bike and I offered to help him install a set of the new Denali D4 auxiliary lights on his '07 R1200GS.

These hybrid LED lights provide both flood and spot lighting in a single assembly. Unboxing was a real treat. They are really well-built and have a certain quality feel in your hand.

The goals of this project were to power the D4s from the battery, but controlled with an ignition-switched relay and bar-mounted power switch. The output of the relay would also provide power to a connector for Dave's heated gear and future farkle.

After some disassembly, including fuel tank and windshield removal, we tackled the easy part first. Dave had purchased a mounting bar for the lights and that was quickly U-bolted in place on the front subframe, behind and below the beak. While Dave bolted the D4s in place on each side of the mount,  I started to build the new wiring harness and relay connections, working forward from the battery.

12 gauge stranded wire, crimp-on ring terminals and a weather-resistant fuse holder were employed to make the battery connection. Note:  Besides the crimping of the ring terminals, I flowed a little solder into them to make really sure they wouldn't come apart on some rainy, moonless night. Fast-on connections were made to the relay and it was wired to energize only when ignition power is present. We chose to leach ignition power from the wire providing positive power to the small bulb located in the headlight assembly. A Posi-Tap connector was used to make this connection and it really simplified the process. Once everything was in place, a few tests with a volt meter were completed to make sure the electrons were flowing in the proper direction.

With the relay switching tackeled, more 12 gauge wire was routed along the engine to the front of the bike, where we intended to "distribute" the power to the D4s, the wiring for the heated clothing and other TBD farkle.

Due to my previous experience using Anderson PowerPoles for DC power connections, we terminated the relay-switched power near the front of the bike with a red-black pair of the 30A connectors. To split the electrons between the different targets, we used a 6-way PowerPole splitter product called the PWR-BLOK 6 from Quicksilver Radio. The photo below shows the final location of the splitter just under the left side of the front fairing.

The PowerPole connections at the bottom take up 3 of the 6 available positions: DC power in, Power out to the D4s and power out to the heated gear connection. In the future, we'll have to adjust the orientation of the splitter to accommodate using any of the 3 open positions at the top.

Denali provides a complete wiring harness for the D4s, with a very generous amount of wiring. Everything is pretty much plug and play once we added the PowerPole connectors and tied Denali's own ignition sense wire permanently to the positive side of the DC connection.

We could have shortened much of the provided wiring harness, but the afternoon sun was shining into the garage, raising the temperature further and encouraging completion of the project sooner. Instead, we chose to work carefully from the connections at the lights themselves, tucking and tying the surplus wiring to the front subframe where it would be both protected and out of sight.

With the harness for both lights tucked away and the Denali-provided On-Off switch mounted inboard of the left side handgrip, it was time to put the tank back on and call it a day. The finished project really looked good. Dave spent some time after dark doing some minor adjustments to the D4 alignment. For the most part, they were pretty much spot on. Pun intended. These lights REALLY light up the night and a fine job during the day, too.

It's always interesting when you finish a wiring project like this and take stock of the zip ties replaced and otherwise wasted. This photo should give you an idea of the carnage. It was worth it.


Revitalizing the old girl by dealing with wire bundle sleeving rot

Ok, I admit it. The '02 R1150GS Adventure's starting to show its age. I've had those wandering thoughts... and eyes. I've even considered picking out a replacement for the old girl. But, when it comes right down to it, she's still a really good girl and she takes care of my riding needs - regardless of some of the cosmetic issues that have developed in her first 116K miles.

As she's aged, one of the "issues" she's developed relates to the rotting of the black, rubbery sleeving that covers the various bundles of wiring running here and there. Most noticeable was the deterioration of the sleeving of the wires running up to the right and left handlebar switches.

The GS is not beauty queen when it comes to routing of wiring. So, I set out on a quest to keep some of that extra ugliness hidden from view.

Enter TechFlex Braided Sleeving Solutions.

Their split wiring sleeving solutions are perfect for such motorcycle projects and available from various vendors, including Amazon.

I purchased 10ft. of TechFlex F6 woven split wrap in a 3/16" diameter, as well as 10ft. of TechFlex General Purpose split wrap in a 1/2" diameter. I mainly wanted to tackle replacement of the sleeving on the visible wiring running along each side of the bars, but expected to have some other wiring under the tank that also needed some similar attention.

This version of the TechFlex product is split along it's length to allow it to be separated and installed around bundles of wire. The diameter of the sleeving is somewhat adaptable to the diameter of the wiring you're trying to cover. The sleeving wraps around itself providing a bit of tension on the wires held inside.

A hot knife is recommended for working with the TechFlex sleeving. Yes, you could cut it with a scissors, but a hot knife melts the braiding and keeps it from potential unraveling down the road. I didn't own a hot knife, so I purchased the Dremel 1550 Multi-Purpose tool, that comes with tips for wood-burning, soldering, as well as the needed knife blade. A YouTube video showed someone wrapping the sleeving in a bit of masking tape and then cutting through the tape. I tired that method and found it to work really well.

The hot knife blade cut like butter through the tape and TechFlex. Examples of the finished work are shown below:

Under the tank, I found a few other areas of concern and took care of them with some of the of the 3/16", as well as 1/2" sleeving. I was quite satisfied with the results.

Except for some sore fingers from urging the wiring bundles into the split of the TechFlex sleeving, no real blood was shed in the completion of this project. She's still my girl and I think this new look will keep her in my good graces for a few more years.


I can hear clearly now - again! Yaesu FTM-10SR Repaired

You might recall how I've been on-again, off-again using a Yaesu FTM-10SR VHF/UHF ham radio on the bikes. With the conversion to Sena, from the wired Autocom, I got interested in having the FTM-10SR back on the BMW. Wiring run, head-unit nicely located on a RAM mount up front, and the waterproof radio itself mounted in the top-box in the back. It sounds like a near perfect setup. The problem was the sound - Or lack thereof. It seems that the Yaesu managed to lose its hearing over time (kind of like me, maybe).

A little Googling turned up some hits on the degradation of a ceramic filter component that makes the VHF, UHF and Weather Band reception in these radios (and their big brother) go pretty much as far south as you can get. When this happens, it's worth noting that the AM and FM broadcast reception still works as expected. Besides not hearing much from local repeaters and simplex transmissions close by, you'll also notice that the signal strength meter on the front panel never registers anything - take note if you've owned one of these radios for a while.

A quick call to Yaesu Service in California confirmed my suspicions and they confidently suggested that the repair could be done in just one hour at $70/hour. Sadly the little ceramic filter (LTM450FW-A) costs just 61 cents to replace. Or maybe I should be happy. Either way, with no other similar radios on the market, I decided this one was worth repairing and quickly sent it off to Yaesu to do their magic.

In about a week and a half, the radio was back in my hands and bench testing confirmed it was working as I remembered it once did. With the Ham Public Service season not quite over yet in North Carolina, I put the radio back on the bike in preparation for an upcoming bicycle event. I managed a nice ride this morning, using the Yaesu, the Sena SR10 and SMH10 on my helmet along the way. Various local repeaters were heard just fine and it seems all is well in radio land.

Here's a close-up of the FTM-10SR "head unit" up front on the bars of the '02 R1150GS Adventure.

And here's a shot of the radio itself located inside the Jesse Luggage top box out back. Enjoy!


Garmin Zumo 665LM - When the expected stereo sound isn't there

With several thousand miles behind me since buying the Garmin Zumo 665LM and pairing it with the Sena SMH10 BlueTooth headset, you would think I would have all their mysteries solved. One that still remains is why the music played by the Zumo ends up sounding like over-driven, lo-fi AM radio through the Sena MOST of the time. This shouldn't be the case, as Garmin clearly advertises A2DP stereo support for this GPS.

Now, I do know that for simple GPS voice prompting via the SMH10, mono audio is more than adequate and that's exactly what the GPS transmits to the headset. It seems like every time I start the MP3 music playing after the Zumo and Sena have found each other, I end up being entertained by crappy sounding audio. What fun is that?

Solution(?):  Through my experimentation during a recent run to Texas and back, I discovered that if I turn on the Zumo and start the MP3 music playing BEFORE I turn on the Sena SMH10, the headset seems to recognize the A2DP profile and play the sweet, stereo sound I expect to hear. This technique wasn't foolproof and I occasionally had to turn the SMH10 off and back on to correct the problem.

Bluetooth is supposed to make our lives easier. Why isn't this easy? I'm a techie and I'm starting to lose my patience with these problems. My Autocom may have been long in the tooth, but all I had to do was plug in my helmet and it just worked. Sheesh.