Saturday, January 28, 2012

Motorcycle lift - final

Finally the lift is done! I powder coated it myself using Satin Black. (oh, and it's not like I LOVE yellow and black, it's a good color combination and all, but things just seem to keep ending up that way in my shop)

With removable rear section out:

With removable rear section in:

Removable ramp, fabricated from scratch using salvaged plate for the top and hooks. I cut the spare rectangular steel down the middle, making two c channel style metal pieces for the underneath support.
With ramp installed:

With bike on the lift!

Another huge thanks goes out to Ron Betossib, owner of Omega Electric, for sending this lift my way. I never would have bought one, but I would spend 40+ hours fabricating a modification if someone gave one to me. Ron is a hardworking and honest professional that I've found to be a man of his word, as well as very generous and forthright. I've had a great time working with you over of the last 8 months, through thick and thin. Much thanks for going above and beyond on all counts.

After working on the KTM last night, using the lift, it's simply amazing how much easier it is to get repairs done when I can move the bike up and down. I can't believe I've done without for so long. What a world of difference. If you have a lot of bikes and like to work on them, I strongly suggest investing in a lift.

Friday, January 27, 2012

2008 Suzuki V-Strom DL650 for sale

FOR SALE - craigslist ad
Fully equipped 2008 V-Strom 650 w/ 25,883 miles. Used daily as a commuter. Maintenance performed religiously, and the bike has never had any mechanical or electrical problems. Selling because I'm no longer commuting and I have 3 other motorcycles. Chain replaced at 20k miles, rear tire with 80% left, registered through April 2012.

In preparation for sale I've done the following:
oil and filter change
new front tire
intake and exhaust valve adjustments
air filter cleaning
new spark plugs

Comes with many aftermarket accessories and extras:
* Custom "road hazard" paintjob. Satin black with yellow stripes on rear quarter panel.
* Givi Maxia E52 - 52l topcase with integrated rear brake light link here to product page
* SW Motech engine guards
* Adventure MotoStuff V-Strom Adjustable Topcase Mounting System V3.0 For Givi Monokey Cases link here to product page
* 3 spare windshields including stock, custom cut down Givi, full size Givi, and full size Cee Baileys
* Madstad adjustable windshield mount brackets
* large LED rear brake light
* Factory service manual
* hand guards from DL1000
* Stebel Nautilus horn
* side case mounting brackets (but no side case)

Please put a name and phone number in your email response and I'll call you back.
Thanks much,

More pictures of the bike:
top view
low side crash damage (minor scratches on handguard and engine guard. Lowside happened at 10 mph when turning left. Got up and rode the bike away with no problems.
Spare windshields - stock (bottom), cut down Givi (top left), and Cee Baileys (top right)
Bike was originally yellow. I painted it black using Hot Rod Flatz satin black, 2K polyurethane. The yellow stripes are the original color that I masked over to create the striped look. Paint is hard as nails and hasn't chipped or delaminated in over 12,000 miles of riding.
In the above picture you can see the rear exhaust shield missing. I tried to have this powdercoated and it caught fire since it was filled with foam! I've never had an issue with touching the exhaust pipe with my girlfriend on the back.

Side bag brackets not shown (they're off the bike, sitting in the garage.)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sorry Ron

I left my card reader at work and can't download the working lift photos off my camera card. I rebuilt the hydraulic cylinders today with the help of Bay Hydraulics in San Jose. There is still a problem with weight distribution preventing the lift from getting started. Not sure what to do about this other than shift the weight to the back until the lift gets past that first inch.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Motorcycle lift progress

Mostly done. Just need to source some scrap plate for the top and sort out the little ramp to get the bike on it. I bought the $89 front wheel clamp and am waiting for it's arrival.

Removable rear section so I can easily remove the rear tire. (requires jack under bike which I haven't sorted yet.)
Rear corner detail showing how the removable section stays in place. You can see the angle iron support for the plate top welded up on this side. Need more angle iron.

Other end is finished but I forgot to take pictures of it. It was removed for convenience of working around the lift when it's raised.

This was long overdue to happen. The cut-off wheel on my angle grinder exploded in my face while cutting the tubing. I got really lucky and only took a small scratch to the nose. I was wearing safety goggles, gloves and earplugs, but not a face shield. And of course, I've removed all the guards from my grinder so that it works better.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Material handling lift conversion

I was given this great lift by a friend of mine. It's an ECOA MYTI-LIFT, electro-hydraulic unit, running off of 120V, that will lift 1000lbs. The current lifting surface is 24" x 36". Next week I'll be converting this to a proper motorcycle lift.
(image shown is the 500lb version)

Here's a photo with overlay showing the structural design of my modification:

The back section (closest, in photo), will be removable, in order to remove and service the rear wheel. I'm also going to make a removable ramp that hooks on to the back section. The extensions will be covered in 14 or 16 gauge sheet metal and made of rectangular section mild tubing.

I need to address the front wheel clamping mechanism as well. I'm thinking of going with one of these two designs:
Or the Derek Weaver W-Vice (, for only $89:$89 is cheap considering the amount of time it would take to fabricate this by hand, plus the materials I'd have to buy.

I'm debating whether to weld the length extensions to the existing plate, or bolt these. The rest will be welded most definitely. Bolting the whole assembly to the existing plate leaves ability to fabricate in place, then remove to powder coat. Breaking strength of any bolt over a 1/4" is so ridiculously high that throwing 4 5/16-18 per side will give me way more than needed. I'll probably go with some Grade 8 1/2" just for overkill.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

trouble with the duke

Rode 15 miles yesterday without a hitch, full tank of gas topped up, on my way to ride with Shon, who's in South San Francisco. Suddenly, while doin' 80 in the #1 lane, the duke coughs and dies like it ran out of gas. I pull over, not switching to reserve since I just topped up the tank. Couldn't get it started until switching to reserve which was really strange. Idled just fine, but wouldn't rev over 3000rpm on the dot, without instantly dying. I screwed around and killed it and started it so many times that the battery died. Didn't have any tools to do carb surgery on the side of 280N just outside of Cupertino so I gave up and got a tow home.

Pulled the carb, checked everything out, no obvious problems. carb looks like brand new inside since i recently rebuilt it. I went back to a 165 main jet from 162.5, and went to needle clip 3rd from top, changing from 4th from top. Put in a new spark plug and renewed a few fuel lines. started right up easier than ever tonight. revs above 3000rpm no prob. I have no idea what that was. Maybe heat soak and not enough oil? I just replaced the oil, but noticed I didn't quite add enough. I'll have to do 15 miles of circles around my house this time instead of getting so far out.

I'm thinking I'm going to pull the tank back off, pull the petcock and examine for any weirdness, before I get back on the road with it...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Brunswick Chair

Found this here chair in a dumpster. Took it home, waxed the fiberglass, polished the aluminum, painted the underneath matte black, and installed new casters from

It's very comfortable and is my new computer chair.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Oak table refinishing

I finally finished refinishing the family kitchen table that I grew up eating at. Much thanks and appreciation to Gary Riddell for custom making the new solid oak top and leaves, and to Jerry Larson for coordinating and covering the costs. Thanks for the good turn, you guys. I hope I've been able do good by you on the job. I really like the 3 different shades of the planks on top. This works great with the different types of oak on the rest of the table.
And thanks, Dad, for giving me this great table and for the refinishing tips. I've ended following in your footsteps with the furniture refinishing knack.

Final product:

There were two previous finishes on this table, the first was dark walnut stain, the second was a painted whitewash. Both were deep in the grain and required extensive sanding to remove. Paint stripper didn't touch it, unfortunately. I ended up sand blasting it out on some of the tougher pieces. I used 220 red garnet sand at the TechShop, and baking soda blasting at home.
I sanded 60, 80, 100 grit with a random orbital.
Hand sanded 120, 220, 320 and even 600 on the top. I only went to 320 on the other pieces.
Apply danish oil - natural and also fruitwood. I used a mix of the two depending on how it pulled out the color and grain.
Wait at least 72 hours for the danish oil to fully cure.
Then I applied General Finishes water based poly urethane, satin finish. Minimum three coats, sanding with 220/320 between coats.

Here's the before photos:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Ride report and observations on my design

I just got home from a ~150 mile ride on the VX. 1/3 of that was on twisty roads, mostly empty. I had a good chance to really gas it, take some fast corners, slow corners, do some major down shifting and braking. I put the bike through its paces for the first time. I had my ignition set to limit revs at 6200 rpm. The bike definitely has a lot of raw power. It pulls very hard and it was hard to even get the throttle to wide open without hitting that rev limiter. I'm limiting revs for the purpose of break-in. I'm following my own hybrid break-in procedure based partly on MotomanUSA's style, but a little toned down. I definitely put massive load on the engine, varied the load, did a lot of heavy engine breaking, but also did some freeway miles. I wanted to avoid the freeway, but ended up using the motorcycle ride to see family, which was long overdue, and one thing led to another and I ended up riding home in the dark and on the freeway.
Main observations on my own design:
1. Footpeg position is wrong and is too far back.
a. My crotch was jammed up on the tank the whole time
b. Too much weight on my hands
c. since my bike is so skinny, there's nothing to clamp my knees on to relieve the pressure on my hands.

2. Seat needs more and stiffer foam.
a. Front of seat needs to be higher and I barely use the back 1/2 of the seat.

3. Clutch is not fully disengaging. (couldn't get neutral the whole ride and it was almost impossible to get from 1st to 2nd unless I was power shifting.

4. Front cylinder is running a little too rich. (I was only monitoring the front cylinder with my Innovate MTX-L air/fuel ratio gauge. Front cylinder was at 12.2 - 12.8 at 1/4 to 3/4 throttle. WOT I'm in the 13.2 - 13.8 range. WOT looks good. I probably need to raise a clip on the needle.)

5. Rear shocks were very bouncy. I couldn't get the rear end planted in corners. I exercised about 3" if not 4" of travel on the rear shocks. I've got massive preload on the springs right now and have my rebound damping at 3 out of 4. I probably need stiffer springs.

6. Front shocks were spot on and I didn't notice a thing wrong.

Thoughts on Item #1 and #2:
I went for a racier look and ergo and installed rearsets. The combination of this and the seat change ends up with me humping the tank all the time. I can't take any weight off my arms because the pegs aren't under my center of gravity; they're significantly behind my center of gravity. I'm sure pegs being under my center of gravity is a key design element, here. Pegs are also a bit low. I felt like I could easily lean the bike way over, but was already scraping my boot. I wasn't even trying to corner hard and was dragging peg. The seat is also slanting forward. I thought this was somewhat important in order to provide something behind me to keep me sliding back. This is a concept I came up with based on false information. At no time during my ride was there so much power that I was sliding off the back. Ha! If only. That much power and you're wheelying, not sliding off. I think a flat seat is the right thing. If I put very stiff foam at the front of the seat, raise the front to go up the tank, and flatten it out front to rear, and move the pegs under my center of gravity, the riding position would be majorly improved.

I love the crouched feel, so I need to bring the pegs up a hair. Sounds like a redesign of my rearset mounting bracket since I've moved them as far forward as my current setup allows.

Thoughts on Item #3.
Man did the clutch kill me. I just put in new friction plates and springs. I've rebuilt the exterior clutch mechanism on the engine, and have a new cable and lever. My left hand stopped working since it was so hard to pull in the clutch. I'm also not getting full disengage. I spent 2 hours working on everything trying to get it to disengage and finally went on my ride, hoping to "break-in" the new plates and see some improvement. Nothing improved. Time to pull the clutch cover and mess with the springs. What a pain.

Item #4: To do: Go for a ride and monitor rear cylinder. Adjust clip needle position.

Wow, the VX has some awesome torque!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Gutted the VX today. slightly pulled a muscle in my back getting the engine out and onto the workbench:
Poor beast is stripped.

Had to pull the jug since I ripped the block/jug gasket while pulling the head.

Piston crown with maybe 10 miles on it:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Photos from the past 2 weeks

Surgery on the KTM. Carb rebuild, jetting and modifications, replacing the rear sprocket.
Doing the valves, oil change, air filter change, coolant change, and cleaning the V-Strom, getting ready to sell it:
Lots of bikes in the garage:

Nathan and Shai come over to get the VX running. It was a gathering of the Suzuki v-twins. We've got a SV650, two VX800's and one V-Strom:

Tuning the carbs:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

more RT3 stuff for sale


Chain guard:

Yamaha RT3 parts for sale

battery box:


carb boot:
gauge mount bracket:

stash box:

fork ears: