Clutching at straws …..

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid DOT5.1 clutch & brake fluidClutch slave cylinders/seals and brake fluid can be almost as emotive as good old engine oil, everyone has an opinion. Well I’ve just changed brake/clutch fluid after about 15 months, usually I’d do it every 6 months or so, but somehow I’ve ended up getting a bit lax and let it slide. So for what it’s worth, here’s how things have worked out on my own Capo over the years.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid clutch master cylinder DOT5.1 fluidI think everyone will agree that it’s the clutch fluid that takes the most punishment, followed by the rear brake. So here’s a couple of photographs of the inside of the master cylinder straight after opening it and a comparison of the fluid drawn off, with straw colour of new fresh oil from a sealed container. No black residue in the master cylinder and only a slight colour change in the oil with almost no cloudiness. The fluid drained from both front and rear brakes was almost like new, but it’s nice to keep the fluid fresh anyway.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid DOT5.1 brake & clutch fluid In comparison the oil I used to drain at 6-12 month intervals from the clutch was cloudy with black residue in the master cylinder and the rear brake was frequently amber in colour, only the front brakes seemed to show little degradation – all this was while using DOT4!

Todays oil is DOT 5.1 and has done 27,143 miles over 15 months

I’ve been using DOT5.1 now for the past five years and the first (10 year 44K miles) clutch slave seal was replaced in late 2013, not because it failed, but because it seemed to be letting a little air back into the system after long (24Hr+) runs – enough to give an extra 4-5mm or so of free play at the ball end of the lever otherwise it seemed fine in normal day-to-day use. Seal replacement was purely precautionary. The replacement seal has been used with DOT5.1 its entire life (2½ years 45K miles) and is showing no sign of leakage or air ingress. So to date it’s cost me one seal (€17) versus going out and buying a €90 aftermarket cylinder … I know which mast I’m nailing my colours to!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid clutch master cylinder window bubbleAnd finally ….. always ALWAYS make sure the level of fluid in the reservoir is right. It is so damn easy to overfill this one. My prefered method is to drain off most of the reservoir fluid once the system is bled (don’t expose the ports) then refit the rubber bellows and use a syringe to inject fluid back in while watching the bubble. Leave quite a big bubble showing, because when you screw down the cap the volume (and bubble) shrink a little.

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Eighty-eight thousand, eight hundred and eighty-eight!

Disposable_cameraMany years back I started to carry one of these disposable cameras on the bike. Usually ratting around in the top-box with all manner of junk, it was their just in case of …… Well I’m sure you get the idea. Instead it ended up being used to take a picture of the speedo whenever it passed through an ‘interesting’ odometer reading – 12345, 22222, 33333. Sad I know, but it became a habit.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid hits 88,888 milesTaking a photo of these mileages has stayed with me and where possible I still take a snap of the dashboard if it’s convenient/safe to do it and of course, if I remember! This time around it was a biggie, the one that would use up all but one segment of the entire odometer – 88,888 – I wasn’t going to miss this one.

And so on a beautifully warm day with January knocking on February’s door the capo rolled to a halt just south of Penne and the picture was taken. The Capo’s running wonderfully and I’m (slowly) losing a bit of weight and feeling better for it – I have a feeling this year might just be the year we crack that 6th digit!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Abruzzo Gran Sasso

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Trippin’ all the way!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid dashboardSometimes a particular feature of a piece of technology can drive you nuts – that itch you can’t scratch! Here’s my particular niggle with the Capo dashboard ……

Just imagine, it’s a nice day and you’re all suited-and-booted, ready to tear up the countryside on the Capo. You’ve pushed the ‘Set’ button on the dashboard to display the trip meter and all is fine and dandy in the world, later you pull over for a break and when you restart the bike – the dashboard has switched back to odometer! I know it’s not exactly the end of the world, but it is annoying. Why couldn’t Aprilia just code the damn thing to display on start-up what it showed at shut-down, many other bikes seem to do it.

So as part of the long running Mk2 dashboard project, the feature has now been incorporated!

With a little bit more code and a couple of extra wires, the dashboard now knows what was displayed (odometer or trip) at key-off. Then it simply electronically replaces a winter-gloved podgy finger and prods the ‘Set’ line to the old microcontroller a second after the board finishes its POST (power-on-self-test) routine. It also now reads the voltage from the fuel level sensor in the fuel tank, so that if the trip meter is displayed at key-off AND the fuel level changes from less than 15% to greater than 90% (approx. <5l to >20l refuel) at the next key-on, the trip meter will be reset automatically. If you don’t want the reset to go ahead, you simply make sure the dashboard is displaying the odometer before switching the bike off, now the reset is ignored.

Of course all this is well and good on the workbench, but in real day-to-day use – will it scratch that itch? Hmm, time and a few miles under the Capo’s belt will determine that answer……. maybe I end up with a nasty little rash! 😕

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Muddy Chef Challenge 2016

20140508_143707_Richtone(HDR)As some of you may know, I’m not really one for driving our four-wheeled cousins … I didn’t even get a licence for them until quite late, then I tried a variety of styles and performance and came to the conclusion that they just didn’t do it for me – all except the Land Rover / Range Rover. I had so much fun in a slow old clunky Series 3 hand-me-down that I ended up buying the P38 Range Rover primarily for off-road work when here in Italy. Best buy I ever made, smooth and comfortable on the highway and 95% as capable as any standard Defender when off-road ……. and don’t believe all the press bullshit about reliability either! 😉

So when Eric, founder and event director of muddychef.com got in contact regarding a Caponord matter, I was immediately curious about what Muddy Chef is …. well in short, it’s a marriage between Land Rovers and cooking!

(quote) “off-roading and a vehicle based gourmet cooking challenge (think Top Gear meets Top Chef).”

muddychef

Unfortunately I’m no cook. I can cook, but I just don’t seem to enjoy it – even the BBC’s Hairy Bikers only got 10 minutes of airtime before I changed channel! But I can appreciate good food, especially the time, dedication and skill required to prepare it from the back of a vehicle in the woodlands! I think this meeting of two different interests is fantastic and truly hope the muddychef challenge goes from strength to strength over the coming years. So if you haven’t already clicked the Muddy Chef link to get away from my drivel – do it now!

 

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Slowly, slowly ……

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid frame / chassis in Solidworks 3DWith the weather hitting an unseasonaly warm 20c (but high winds!) it’s been a fine opportunity for running around on the Capo, but when she’s all tucked up nice and cosy in the barn, it’s been time to work on the stable-mate, NK03 …… or more specifically the chassis! Slowly but surely it’s being measured and drawn up in CAD and some other parts drawn up last year added into the mix. One day a complete digital Capo will exist! 😀

Refering back to the weather …….. here’s a couple of pics taken on the mobile at the end of the day when walking the dog. As the sun sets behind the Gran Sasso mountains it seems to save the best lighting until last.

Gran Sasso sunset January 2016Gran Sasso sunset January 2016

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Accuracy is everything …..

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid calibrated voltmeterWay back when I started playing with the idea of using the dashboard tachometer as a voltmeter, I was aware I had one stumbling block …. I didn’t have a decent workbench power supply to calibrate the software/voltmeter against. In the end just using a battery and resistors the ball-park calibration wasn’t too bad, reading within a needles width of the correct voltage from 13 – 14v but it drifted terribly above and below this range.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Thurlby 30v-2A dual power supplyThen in summer along came a gift from ABSL via Andy (Beasthonda) …. A very nice Thurlby 30V-2A dual power supply, which unfortunately had to languish in Oxford as it was too heavy to transport back by Capo! But patience is rewarded and it finally sits on the workbench, performing brilliantly and its first job has just been to calibrate the dashboard voltmeter once and for all. In the end it required a little code revision to get it just so, but it was worth it – now the voltmeter is accurate to a needles width over the full range of 9 – 16V. Happy Days! One more job to tick off the must-finish list. 😀

I really can’t say how much I appreciate Andy for thinking of me and ABSL for letting this power supply go to a complete stranger, I look forward to putting it to good use and hope that some of the tinkering on the workbench can make its way into other Caponords.

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Busy, busy and busier still!

Calais docks ...... a bit quiter than the war-zone approach roads!3,000 miles, six days, one exam and enough fog to last a lifetime ….. Yes, the last run of 2015 to the UK and back is over! The return bought with it oodles of goodies and an unwanted guest, the dreaded UK winter cold that then turns into bronchitis, oh what fun.
After getting back and between snuffling, shivering and coughing up gunk thick enough to glue shelves up with I managed to give the new Capo Rally-Raid frame a damn good de-grease and inspection. It all looks good and other than the usual wear and tear befitting a 12 year old part (in UK weather!) it’ll be a fine starting point for the bikes rebuild. It also gave me the opportunity to look at the differences between the standard and Rally-Raid frames. Does it really justify a new part number just because of a fresh run of serial numbers? Or is the difference more involved?

In fact it turns out the Raid frame is quite different. All the modifications are around the swing-arm pivot points and cross brace/suspension mount. Five reinforcement plates in all …. Making the difference in frame prices work out at roughly £50 per modification! Mind you, that’s chicken feed when compared to the list price – £3,193 (Std) / £3,440 (R-Raid)! 😯
Advanced! The RSGB Full Licence Manual

Oh and the exam ….. Well I took the Advanced (full) Amateur Radio Licence – the last of the three levels in the UK. Thankfully the head-cold wasn’t an issue, it would be a further 12hrs before that little puppy made itself known. So six months of preparation and study boiled down to two hours of pen-pushing on a Monday evening. FACT – did you know tummy-rumbling is catching, just like yawning … I know, I was there!  😳 Anyway, did I do all that studying  justice? Is it an early Christmas present or a can of Gold Label and a cry behind the bike sheds ……..

…….. well say helloooo to the new full licence callsign:

M0ZRX

Unfortunately ‘ETV’ had gone, but to stick with the bike theme I chose my old Kawasaki ZRX1200 Eddie Lawson rep instead! Next stop – let’s see if the Italians will give me a reciprocal licence as well, it would be very kind of them! 😀

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Review – Motrag Garmin 590LM GPS mount

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid with Motrag.com base & micro mount for Garmin GPSFor the past six months the eight year old Garmin 2820 has steadily slid its digital cheese off its cracker, forgetting the date and time and generally making a meal of locating satellites. Add to that an annoying habit of swapping screens at random and it’s easy to see why it’s not my best-buddy it once was! Nope …. time for a change.

Which ties in very nicely with Manuel at Motrag.com loaning me a Capo-specific mount for the Garmin 590LM to try out. Unlike the Mad-Maxesque contraptions that Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid with Motrag.com base & micro mount for Garmin GPSTouratech supply, the Motrag unit is clean and simple …. and pretty uncomplicated. The mount consists of two parts, the ‘Base Mount‘ that bolts to the handlebar clamp (all bolts and spacers supplied) and the ‘Micro Mount’ of choice based on the GPS unit to be fitted. This is attached to the Base Mount via four rubber anti-vibration mounts, again with stainless steel screws supplied.

The 590LM comes with its own bracket for powering the unit and locking it in place, this simply bolts to the Micro Mount which provides the extra support for use in rougher terrain. When the GPS is tucked away in a bag and the ‘Zumo’ cover fitted, the mount is much less in-your-face unlike the Touratech one ……. plus a lot less angular, aggressive and sharp-edged, which is no bad thing.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid with Motrag.com base & micro mount for Garmin GPSFirst impressions are excellent, it holds the GPS perfectly and vibration is virtually none existent, the whole thing is unobtrusive and the powder coating looks like it’ll outlive the Capo. The laser cut ‘Rally-Raid’ is a nice touch and just so no-one feels left out – the mount is available with ‘Caponord’ as well! As always, where possible Manuel supplies stainless steel fasteners that match the look of the OEM Aprilia fasteners – a nice touch. Currently Motrag have Micro Mounts for the Garmin 340/350/390 and 590LM with one in development for the TomTom Rider. Base Mounts are also available for the Multistrada (2012-14) and Hypermotard (2014 on). The cost is €38.95 for the Base Mount and €63.95 for the Micro Mount. The Micro mount in supplied with a plate and clamp so it can also be fitted to a cross-bar or a Ram Mount, in which case you don’t need to buy the Base Mount.GPS-bar-clampAt the time of writing, I’ve done about 450 miles with the mount fitted, some on VERY poor mountain roads and everything is fine. The dashboard is still clearly visible (rider 182cm / 5ft 11inch) and the mount angle goes a long way to limiting screen-glare. I look forward to reviewing the mount along with the Motrag fog-lamp brackets in six months time when the Capo has a good few more miles and a winter under its belt.

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Another bike ….. It was inevitable I guess

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid frame number 075Say hello to Rally-Raid number 075! Yes a little lightweight I grant you …. one or two parts do appear to be missing, but a fully registered bona-fide ETV1000 Rally-Raid none the less. So in anticipation of building up a second Raid, I’ve decided to start a dedicated website …. www.etv1000.eu …. But it’ll be a slow-burner for sure while the bits are sourced! 😕

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Fuse box panel

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid AP8178418 fuse box covering panelOn the Mark 1 Capo there’s a screw-on cover, on the Mark 2 a panel held on by 4 screws but on the Raid it’s just waving in the wind …. staring at you with those half-inch high letters screaming “FUSE”. Quite why Aprilia felt the Raid needed an uncovered fuse box below the dashboard is anyones guess …….. it’s not like I need millisecond fuse changes!

Besides it’s always niggled me that one sunny Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid AP8168770 panelday some light-fingered arse would think it a jolly wheeze to pull all the fuses out when it’s parked up. To remove the temptation I’d been keeping an eye open for a replacement panel for a while. Recently when a panel from an 05 came up on Ebay I was in-like-Flynn and the Capo got a nice little upgrade. I think it looks much better now. 😀

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