01 December, 2010

The agony of crap – Day 14

Odo 412

No riding today for the second day in a row but I've found out a lot about the bike and we've bonded even more. It hasn't been smooth sailing, so let me take you on a journey of love and despair.

Well I started to change the tail light globe today. Remembering that your life may depend on a car driver seeing you at night on a slow motorcycle with only one tail light... I've currently been working on this change for 2 hours and it's involved 2 trips to the hardware and one to a specialist fasteners store.

I could bore you with it blow by blow, but here's the highlights. The owners manual says “remove the stop/tail light screws”. That's it for instructions. Even the guy at the fasteners store couldn't tell they were number 2 philips. He had to fit them to different drivers to tell. How am I supposed to tell when they're at the bottom of a deep hole? Answer: I couldn't. I got one out with a number 1 philips and the other stripped. Not good enough mister Zero. People's *lives* depend on this stuff. These are slow poorly lit motorcycles and are very vulnerable to being hit from behind. How likely is it that someone with a blown tail light will try to get home with it blown rather than stop in a servo (gas station) and swap it out when it's so difficult to change? There's no standard tool kit, no guidance from the hand book, and this shouldn't require tools in the first place. Very unimpressed. There could easily be deaths as a result of this sort of rubbish. Ok so you're using cheap off the shelf components to keep the price down. That doesn't excuse the owners manual. I've had a bit of experience in writing documentation. Assuming that the person reading the document already knows how to do it wastes everyone's time. Don't even bother writing it if that's the way you're going to do it. The only reason someone reads the documentation is because they *don't* know how to do it.

Maybe that's a bit over the top. However in my defence I had just finished reading this:

It's a story of a young man (well young compared to me anyway), an even younger woman, a dark night and the end of an adventure.

Well I've just flushed the front brakes and they've returned to their “as new” adequacy. Never a shining example of the brake builders art, but they make the bike slower anyway. Perhaps my expectations are too severe. You know how some (most) motorcyclists live for the roar as the bike accelerates down the straight? Not me. I love the squirmy light delightful feel of mad braking. That really floats my boat. Anyone can turn the throttle. The thrill of shooting past someone while still on full noise as they sit up to brake can't be described. Pull out of their slipstream, bang into a wall of air, watch them slip behind, then squeeze on the front brake. Feel the steering go light as the front begins to lock up, the back wheel hovering slightly airborne. Let off the brakes then flick the bike down and feel your knee scriffing along on the tar as you gradually spin up the back for a drifting exit. Then it's just the dull as dishwater run down the next straight 'till the fun starts again at the next corner.

I don't think the made in Indonesia to a price front stoppers on the Zero are ever going to make me feel like that. However I would have liked to be able to do stoppies at will. Perhaps with this $50.00 for a half litre bottle fluid in it things will improve. (that's more than single malt). It's too wet to road test them now.

I've just swapped out the running lamp bulb (the little front parking light) for an LED. I don't know why there's one there when the headlight is supposed to be always on. Anyway I pull the headlight fuse during the day. Having the headlight on breaks up your outline. So car drivers can see you better but they filter you out. Just another bright, dimensionless light. So the running light stays on as there is no switch or fuse for it. I wanted an LED for reliability and power consumption reasons. The new one is very bright. I've got so many spots in my vision now I'll wait a few minutes before I attempt the back brake flush. I'd take a photo but there's no way to clearly represent the brightness in a picture. It's just, very bright. The headlight came apart easily with a number 2 philips. Again I was on my own about the size of the screw. Getting it back together was not so easy. About half an hour of mucking about to get the screw holes to line up. Not good build. There's also some rust forming in the bottom of the headlight shell already. It's so annoying. Some parts of the bike make you weep they're so lovely. Some parts of the bike make you weep they're so crappy. The wheel speed sensor is a work of art. You could spend (I have spent) 15 minutes just looking at it in awe. Go look at one now. Get the owner to turn the bike on and wheel it around. Crawl underneath with a torch. I've just spent 10 minutes trying to photograph it, but I can't. It's like trying to capture the mountains. Yes you can see an image of rock and snow with some trees. You can never capture what it does to your heart. It's simple, elegant, clever. I wish I'd designed it myself but it doesn't look designed, it looks like it's evolved over millions of years to be the most perfect wheel speed sensor it can be. It's the most beautiful object I've ever owned. Yet less than a metre away is this horrid thing that is surely going to drip rusty water on it in due course. 

Well I've just flushed the back brake. It all went very smoothly but I'm thanking my lucky stars I was flushing not bleeding. They've fitted a right handed brake caliper to the left hand side of the bike. Which means of course that the bleed valve is lower than the banjo fitting. I don't know if they didn't know any better, didn't care, ran out of time to get the right part or did it for cost reasons. It means that bleeding the brakes would entail either inverting the whole motorcycle or removing the back brake caliper completely. Either would be a right pain. Given that they've been building bikes for several years before this one I can't imagine that they didn't know, or ran out of time to source the right part. Which leaves either cost or not caring as the reason.  Does anyone know if a right handed caliper is more expensive than a left hand one?  I can't imagine that it would be.  Hmmm, that leaves "not caring". 

Here is a right hand brake caliper fitted to the right hand side of my KTM.  Note the B logo.  This means it works very well.  I'm pointing to the brake bleed valve.  See how it's at the top?

Here is a photo of the right hand brake caliper fitted to the left hand side of my Zero.  See how the brake bleed valve is not at the top.

That means it's impossible to bleed the brakes as they sit on the bike.

1 comment:

  1. thats all very well but if you had just cleaned the kitchen and thought of something for dinner??????