Wednesday, August 27, 2014

PICTURES: Best Shots From The Road

Alright, I admit, mostly this post is bragging, but who doesn't like to see a single sided frame with a nice bit of windy road in front of it? Also you might get an idea of what I think is the most photogenic angle of the bike.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

MODIFICATIONS: 48t to 44t Rear Sprocket

One of the complaints of my riding buddies with KLRs and VSTROMs is my lack of range on the ATK (~100 miles / tank), but another has been my comfort for running the 494 Rotax at 70 mph on the highway for any lengthy period of time (>20 minutes). I know this thing can go fast (I might have seen 95 mph before I cut back), but I just never liked the feel of running at such high RPMs for a long period of time (not only on the motor, but also on my ass). In looking at things I could do to improve my situation it looked like changing gear ratios might be the easiest and cheapest way to make 70 more comfortable.

As it was I was running 16t countershaft with a 48t rear sprocket. That equates to a exactly a 3:1 ratio. A 17t up front with a 48t in the rear would equate to a 2.82:1 ratio. A 16t countershaft with a 44t rear would be 2.75:1 ratio. A 17t countershaft with a 44 t rear would be a 2.58:1 ratio.

I decided to just go with the 44t rear sprocket to see how that affected low end torque before jumping to the 17t countershaft. From silly internet research and ZERO math I have come to understand that for every tooth increase in the front is worth 3 teeth in the rear. The 44t with my current setup would put me right at 2.75:1 ratio... That I can live with. Plus Lee told me not to mess around with a 17t, and that these bikes can do 90 all day wide open with stock gearing and why go any faster than that?

Artsy comparison of the 44t to the 48t

I will need to remove a link out of the chain since this pushed the rear axle all the way to the back of the drop out, but I am liking the speed in 5th at half throttle. I have not noticed any real change in the lower gears, torque in the corners persists despite the ratio change.

Probably won't be going to 12 o'clock any time soon, but look at that rear sprocket!!!

Rear 44t Talon Sprocket $59.99 + $15 Shipping = $74.99

MODIFICATIONS: New Tread AKA "Goodbye to the supermoto dreams"

Since I got the 490 in 2010 I have dreamed about having two sets of wheels thinking a set of 17's would make road riding that much more awesome. After 3 years of rolling on two sets of 80 / 20 21" / 18" Pirelli MT Scorpions, I decided that I hate the slippage on the washboard sections of dirt roads and that I would give a try to a set of 50 / 50 Mefo Explorers.

I never liked that skinny 21" Pirelli on the Front. The 140 18 looked super beefy by comparison.

Amazing that such a simple frame and motor can bring so much happiness to my life.

Not quite knobbies...

But perfect for the numerous Humboldt County loops.

The thought of spending more on a set of supermoto wheels and tires than I paid for my bike has never appealed to me, but getting to and making it out of tiny corners of the world that the ATK has given me access to appeals very much to me. I have yet to see how the Mefos hold up to lots of road wear, but so far they are holding up to the curvy sections of HWY 36 at the speeds that the Scorpions would tolerate without all the slippage on the washboard.

Monday, August 25, 2014


About 4 months ago I loaded up all the spare bits and pieces I had accumulated and went to a local moto swap meet hoping to rid myself of some shed clutter. I came out of it with a nice set of 24" tire irons and one of THE BEST MODIFICATIONS I HAVE MADE TO MY BIKE!

I was packing up an old set of WP forks from a 560 I had got in a trade (I'm the sucker) and a guy I had been talking with for a while offered me this old KTM Equiptment tank bag off a 990 adventure minus the zippered attachment points for the forks straight up. I said hell yes and it was on.

I bought 6 feet of 1" Nylon Webbing from ACE, some heavy duty nylon thread and got to sewing.

Needle drivers are a great investment if you are planning on sewing nylon. This stuff is TOUGH! These tools can be found at most surgical supply places, but are more commonly found where any fishing gear is sold. The surgical quality ones are better, but anything to give you a good grasp on the needle as you punch it through three layers of thick nylon.

Essentially I just folded the webbing in half and sewed around the existing zipper attachments. I left four straps coming off at four attachment points a the front and back corners. I then put on some ABS strap clips from ACE on the four straps.

I used 18" velcro 1" straps that I could easily take off the bike if need be to clip into the bag. This allows for quick access to fuel up just by undoing the clips and not the whole strap set up.

It does limit forward movement on the seat a little bit, and standing is not as comfortable, but I gladly sacrifice that for carrying 3 liters of fuel, a map holder, a tool roll, an emergency rain suit, and my cable lock.

This bag has opened up a whole new group of roads to me with the extra fuel I can carry. It also sits center mass over the tank so I don't notice the weight as much as I did with saddle bags.

KTM Equipment Bag -$Free although it does resemble this FAMSA bag

Nylon Webbing 6' 1": $1 a foot x 6 from ACE = $6

Strap Clips: $1.49 x 4 from ACE = $6

18" Velcro 1" loops from ACE $3.99 x 4 = $16

Total: $28

REPAIRS: Rear and Countershaft Sprocket Change

Like any good story begins, I was out on a 100 mile Taco run on a Sunday morning last year minding my own business.

I started feeling some slippage in the hind end and the horrific sound of aluminum being eaten away.

Fewer teeth than a Eureka Tweeker, and that chain doesn't looks so hot either.

A quick call to Lee at ATK and I had a nice bright and shiny, yet slightly orange 48t in my mailbox. He was very in kind in telling me that I had my chain WAAAYYY too tight and the three finger rule is one to abide by and the only thing that could shred a 7075 aluminum sprocket is over tightening the chain. He was right.

Got a gold Regina D.I.D. 520x120 to "match" the talons

That Loctite was exactly that!

My countershaft

The countershaft I wish I had.

After trying to source the countershaft part locally I finally came to my senses and called down to Ron Woods shop and got a replacement 16t within a couple of days.

Of course trying to make sure it is "shouldered" and the splines are correct. Looks decent.

A few different shades of anodized gold FTW!

Took the opportunity while the bike was on the stand to take a look at the CRF brake pads....not so good.

Some EBCs popped in and I'll be doing stoppies in no time.

Rear 48t Talon Sprocket 090034 From ATK

Regina D.I.D. 520X120 340582 From Amazon

Rotax 16t Countershaft Sprocket From Ron Woods

Rear 48t Talon Sprocket $59.99 + $15 Shipping = $74.99

Regina D.I.D. 520 x 120 $88.44 Free shipping

Rotax 16t Countershaft Sprocket $34.99 + $16.60 Shipping + $2.80 tax = $54.39

Total: $217.82

Sunday, August 24, 2014


So the stock tail light was working just fine, but the tinkering bug got ahold of me and I decided to replace the stock bulb light with LEDs.

The oldness

The new hotness

Side by side

Super tuck

No tuck

Just right

Well those colors don't seem right

Time to look at some diagrams

...aaaannnddd more diagrams

White to yellow

Black to brown

Red to yellow / green

Mounted up


In the wild
Part #s

Polisport Rear LED Combo 1286080001 (Note this may not be DOT approved)

Polisport Rear Tail Light: $24.99 + $7 Shipping