Friday, August 31, 2012


One week can make quite a difference.  After the horrible last round, my shoulder ached, I had a hole in my foot, the racebike was in pieces, and I was left wondering again why I hit the deck.  The good news is, the shoulder is less sore, the hole has healed (and I am back running), the bike is back together (thanks to the great folks at Woodcraft) and I have some ideas as to what happened last round.

In the meantime, I've been emailing a fellow ex racer in the Northern US.  I think Chris is of the same mindset as me, in that the deficiencies of the ex650 are more of a challenge to overcome, rather than a "like it or lump it" situation that has to be tolerated.  Our emails have been helpful for me and I think together, our shared resources, ideas, and contacts might help us both.  To date, however, I have benefited the most as he's sent me the information, as well as a small part that has helped lop a few pounds off of the ex650.

It's not so much what you can see in this picture as what you can't.  The ignition key tumbler has been removed, and replaced with a handlebar on/off switch.  The keyed ignition itself is quite heavy.  However the wiring was more than just a "connect the two wires with a switch" -- apparently there is a theft deterrent system that requires a 100 ohm resistor to be spliced into the wires.  This was all contained in the keyed switch housing which has been removed.  Chris not only sent me a digital version of a diagram but also mailed me a resistor he had.  Thanks man!  As a safety against killing the battery by accident, I have put a jubilee clip into the "on" switch so it can't be accidentally tripped and drain the battery.  Not an original idea -- I stole that as well.  You will also note I cut off the aluminum mounts from the top triple clamp.  They were just getting in the way of the instrument panel anyway.  Email me if you want more information on this modification or how I did it.  Again, I can take no credit other than executing the suggestions of others.

The last round of the season is in a week.  A top 3 overall is out of the mix, so at this point I simply want to focus on my instructing duties, take some video of the students, of my riding, and also try to rig up watching my front forks for the amount of travel (dad's genius idea).  I also want to go and relax, have some fun, and work on my riding.  Not to take anything away from my past podium finishes this year -- they were not flukes, but I need to rethink some of my lines.  Some clear track will also allow me to work on my laptimes.  I want to get back into the 1:05s before the long winter break.  I have no plans to spend money on engine upgrades (yet).  The bike needs to be dynoed to the new pipe but that can wait until the spring.  A software issue, then, working on the hardware between my ears!

Monday, August 20, 2012

A weekend to forget

Still disappointed sitting here at the PC on Monday, looking back at the past weekend. A real case of what could have been, but unfortunately things didn't turn out the way I expected. The overview will be quite short!
Racer Practice was nonexistent -- we had several trackday riders, and a large group signed up for the novice school. However a torrential downpour Saturday morning spooked quite a few riders. Regardless, I headed out on slicks with 2 students and a fellow instructor, and teetered around until the rain stopped and the track started to dry. I ended up missing the first racer practice for school duties, and the second was also a wash; I was just heading out when another rider dropped oil on the track. The end result was a long delay; while the track itself continued to dry, the many hardworking volunteers hit the oil slick with oil dry; it was present all through turn one, the fastest turn on the track, so it would make for some dodgy conditions later.
I snuck out on the trackday advanced group to try to get some speed up. Unfortunately I played accordion with riders on bigger bikes, so at the end I slowed up, let the go ahead, and tried to get one decent lap in before my race. I did get a 1:08 in and then pitted because my first race was scheduled to start right after.
I was shoving my mouthguard in when the referee indicated that there would be a lunch break immediately following the session -- so I didn't need to come in when I did, and could have stayed out longer. Damn!
Race 1 was the longer, 15-lap GP race. Doug and Wilson were at the Indy GP, so my hope was to fight for podium positions; frankly these should have been a guarantee, as with a full grid I've been on the 2nd and 3rd step of the box. I got a horrible start, and was shuffled back to 5th from 2nd on the grid. Over the course of a few laps, I made my way up to 2nd, making some good passes in the infield, including a pass going into corner 6 -- a high speed kink that I've often checked up at rather than finish the move. Once in 2nd I was able to keep Jason in sight on his SV -- he has found some additional speed lately and he began to inch away. Jeff came by on his TZ250, and each lap I could have sworn I was hearing an SV on my tail, either Mert or I took my usualy defensive tight line in turn 5 on lap 8 and... lowsided. I remembered "turtle-ing" up as I slid, worried I would get nailed by the mystery bike on my tail. Turns out I already had a considerable gap to the next rider, and I had already gotten up and started to pick up my bike before they came by. Bugger!
As the adrenalin wore off I quickly started to ache -- the wait for the crash cart brought to light a sore left shoulder, stiff neck, and a tender hip -- on the opposite side I crashed, so there was obviously some tumbling going on! Thankfully I didn't hit my head, so there was no risk for concussion. The bike wasn't too bad, the pegs and case covers getting most of the damage. I took the ride of shame back to the pits on the back of the cart.
I soon realized that while I didn't have serious injury, I wasn't riding anymore on Saturday. I packed up the bike and took it to my uncle's place (where I was staying that weekend). The idea was if I began to feel better, I would patch up the bike and head the 30 mins back to the track on Sunday. No dice -- the ambulance attendants thought I might have a mild sprain in the shoulder, and I felt no better Sunday morning... turns out I didn't have the right parts to fix the bike, and the front rim appeared damaged. Nil points!
The drive home Sunday was especially frustrating -- blue sky, no wind, mid 20s -- perfect weather to race. What a downer.
In retrospect, I seemed snakebit from the get-go. The rain Saturday flooded my pit area -- I nearly electrocuted myself with my tire warmers. Even today, in the garage going over the bike, I had a slip and took a considerable chunk of skin out of my heel. I bled all over the garage but stubbornly stayed out. Kate was none too impressed.
The drive home did allow me to reflect on a few positives... the oil cooler worked as it should -- no leaks, and the temps are right where they should be. That's a positive I can keep in mind. After getting the rear end sorted on the bike (I am no longer eating up tires every weekend), I need to do some work on the front -- the telltale zip tie on the fork leg was bottomed out again on the slider. Like the supermono, I think I am loading the front end going into turns that I run out of travel and go down -- I don't leave myself any margin for suspension recovery. I might need to change my style somewhat and not load the front, but my two crashes this year came so quick with no warning... and each cost me a podium!
Wow -- the least amount of race info to post and its the longest entry in ages... final race of the season is in a few weeks. It has to get better than this!

Monday, August 13, 2012


Well, that comment might be premature, but I have finally installed the oil cooler, it doesn't leak, and the fairings still fit.  What will follow are a pile of photos that I am sharing with you all, as well as an explanation of how I did it.  Your results may vary, but hopefully if you try to tackle this project it will go a bit smoothly once you've skipped some of the mis-steps I took.
In order to complete this project, you need the following components:
Oil Cooler:  I chose one from a Ducati, but other bike models will work.
Sandwich adapter:  this is tricky.  Most are too big to fit in the very tight confines of the case of the ex650.  I believe a HEL model will bolt right on, but the smallest one I could find in North America, an Earls model, was still to large.  I had to get 1/8" machined off the outside flange, and it fit well.  The Earl's part number was:  514.  This has the m20x1.5 thread.  Anything bigger won't fit, and remember, this required machining to work properly.
Oil lines:  an6 is the proper size -- this is what ducati uses on their machines as well.
Fittings:  I used the following:
     a.  2 an6 to M14x1.5:  this fits the hoses to the oil cooler.  This is Ducati specific -- other coolers will require other fittings.  These use the m14 crush washers to make it oil tight.
     b.  1 an6 straight fitting
     c.  1 an 6 90 degree fitting
     d.  2 an6 120 degree fittings
     e.  2 3/8 npt to an6 fittings:  this fits the hoses to the sandwich plate
     f.  Yamaha Raptor 660 oil filter.  The ex650 filter is too long to thread onto the sandwich adapter and clear the headers.  This is shorter by about an inch, so it works.  However, and this will be a PITA, the header pipes need to be removed for install.  It is a tight clearance, but it works.

One of the big hassles is cutting the stainless lines.  There are lots of ideas out there, even specific tools for the job.  Some suggestions DID not work for me -- the fine metal hacksaw was a distaster, as well as the "electrical tape and dremel tool" -- the end frayed, and as a bonus, there were bits of rubber from the inside casing all over the place.  Before I cut the hose for real, I practiced, and found 2 techniques that actually work:
1.  Masonary chisel:  I bought a smallish one from Canadian tire.  I sharpened it as much as I could on the bench grinder, even finishing it with a sharpening stone.  Then I placed the hose on some alu plate, and after locating the cutting end on the mark, I pounded the heck out of the chisel end.  Surprisingly, the end result was a clean cut, albeit a slightly ovalized hose.  I still was able to put it onto the fittings as advertised.  You can google this and there are some videos demonstrating the process.  I looks pretty cro-magnon, but I can testify it does work well.
2.  Cutting tool.  I was mussing about in my toolkit, and found much smaller versions of this tool:
Note that it has both ends with a concave cutting edge.  I was worried mine were a bit weedy and small to work, but they worked great.  I can't remember where I bought these, or even why -- it wasn't to cut stainless hose, but they do work.  I'd recommend trying to track down or borrow a tool like this to do this project.

In previous posts you have seen the oil cooler and the mounting location.  The following pics show everything attached:

 The sandwich adapter gave me the most headaches... here is the npt to an adapters, and the 120 degree fittings.  Without the tight radius, the hoses bow outwards, and would be damaged in a crash, and also don't allow the lower fairing to be mounted!
 Note tight clearance -- these are arrow pipes, but I think stock headers would have a clearance issue.  Yes, I will safety-wire the filter prior to the race weekend.
 For 8 bucks, I made sure I went ziptie-less. These are proper an6 rubber bushed clamps.
These appear to be close to the header, but there should be enough clearance.
 90 degree fitting on the right in the picture, straight one on the left.
Stay mount is straight, honest!  The pic makes it look crooked for some reason.
 Hole in hotbodies fairing should allow the cooler to get a nice blast of air.
There is the hose clamp for the safety wire.
Sandwich adapter is fitting like an oil filter.  There is an o-ring that you wet with oil, and a center male/female bolt that threads the assembly on and fixes it to the case.  The filter itself then threads onto the adapter.

Upper has been painted, and its ready to go for the weekend!  Note the black wheels... look much better than burgundy!  Email me if you have any questions about the oil cooler install.  This weekend's race will be the true test.  While the forecast is for temps not as hot as round 3, it will be in the high 20s C, so I will keep an eye on the temps to compare.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Oil cooler creeps slowly towards installation/completion -- one part off to get machined.  Fitting the first stainless hose based on a youtube video, and surprisingly, the cutting method works well.  I'll fill you all in later.

On the "mystery gasket" front, they were new exhaust gaskets for my exhaust.  Almost secretive, the information regarding the Arrow Mini Twin Evo was hard to find.  The system was never imported to North America; the Canadian Arrow distributor had never heard of it (and tried to sell me a standard Arrow system for twice the online price), and the US distributor was not interested in trying to get ahold of one for me.  In the spirit of international commerce, I found one online from a UK shop, and purchased it.  I won't go into details about the price, but if it is the system used by racers at the Isle of Man, it must be a quality piece.

The tracking information is always interesting to see -- from the UK to Canada (Toronto) in 36 hours, and from Toronto to Brandon in... 3 and a half days!  Who cares, its here, and I have it installed.  It's a pretty cool looking piece of kit!
These headers are not typical -- note the small tube joining the two pipes near the bend towards the collector -- the newest ex650 has that on the OEM pipes, allegedly to improve torque -- to balance the exhaust gasses?  Note the welds mid-pipe -- the stacks coming out of the cylinder head taper (seamlessly) to a larger OD from the head.  I will get a caliper out and measure the difference -- but it appears to start at 1.5" and widen to 1.75".

The under-engine muffler.  A straight through perforated core... mounts to the OEM bracket, but not on the same mounts.  I earlier debated hacking those off to save weight... thankfully I never bothered.

The tailpipe -- titanium and carbon fibre!  Note the curves to add length -- I think this is why Ryan Farquar's EX650 was making so much power!  So this is the exhaust that has now officially replaced the legendary Arata system that serious racers first bought when they began to race EXs.  Of course, a dyno will be required to properly map the engine to get the most power... as it stands I will likely race it as is until the end of the season, and then coordinate some time to get it mapped properly.

Bold new graphics!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Any Day Now...

Just missed the Canadapost lady this morning... 3 packages to pick up -- 2 sandwich adapters, and a very cool piece... I'll keep you in suspense... as a hint, I had to go buy 2 gaskets from Transcanada for this part... details to follow.

Found some pics of me during this season on facebook, of all places.  Enjoy...
Another shot of the Chris Peris school -- day 2, so we are all looking a bit tired ("we", as in the goofballs behind the 3 at the front).

Working with one of the novice trackday riders, pre-crash.  Note the camera on the crash hat.

Same corner, on an in-lap.  Even though my brother jammed me up about the paint scheme, I thought it looked pretty cool...

Post-crash (Sunday) of Round 2.  In the rain, this is the 3rd Cdn Thunder GP race.  Raining, as you can see (although not a torrential downpour).  I eventually got past Wilson on his TZ to finish on the podium... naked and fairing-less.

This is the new team logo.  Lucky Stroke was getting a bit old, and left me open to some sort of lawsuit from British American Tobacco.  Being a former English minor, I like the double entendre.