Time for a new fuel cap!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Oberon keyless fuel capOn the eve of another little trip the half-key fuel cap has decided to throw its toys well and truly out of the cot. For the last couple of months the half-key has worked perfectly, but yesterday it just didn’t want to budge but the spare half-key still worked – go figure! Unfortunately I’ve now lost confidence in the cap opening as and when required. So two things happened …. first, out came the security bolt** and second, I ordered a nice silver/silver Oberon keyless cap to meet me at journey’s end. Now at least I can unbolt the whole cap assembly when I need to refuel if I have to ….. tedious but I won’t be left stranded!

**The cap is held on by four screws, three in the top of the cap (the other three are dummies) and one inside the filler neck. So if you can’t open the cap, you can’t remove the fourth screw and you’re stuffed!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid fuel cap security screw

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Innovv K1 motorcycle ‘dashcam’ system … and a little soap-box time!

bike-close-up1Twitter, Facebook, emails, texts … it’s a fact that the modern driver is ever more distracted and as a consequence, the one thing I hate most – rear end collisions, are on the increase. It’s the one direction I have little or no influence over what the driver is doing. The last incident I was unfortunate to be involved in dates back to July 2005. Sat minding my own business at a roundabout waiting for a gap, when in a heartbeat the day turned to s**t. White-van-man ran into the back of me …… Ripping off the panniers and exhaust of my lovely Triumph Trophy 1200, while at the same time bending the subframe and ruining the body work as it slid along the road. The drivers opening words were: “I didn’t think you were there”.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Sony Video WalkmanThankfully he never contested that he was to blame and the insurance paid out pretty quickly. But it could so easily have gone the other way. None of the vehicles in the immediate vicinity stopped – they had a good gawp, then trotted on. If he’d argued that I’d cut him up or some other sob story, I’d have been hard pressed to prove otherwise and the case would have dragged on for ages. This is of course one reason why cameras make mighty useful tools for our defence!

In reality I’ve been using cameras on bikes for about 13 years now ….. First a 640*480 bullet camera feeding into a Sony Video Walkman (digital tape). Nowadays I use the GoPro 3+ I bought a few years ago, but it’s really not suited to the roll of ‘dashcam’ and of course, running two (forward/rear) is an expensive hobby! So I was interest to read recently about the Innovv K1 system.

inovvThe Innovv K1 uses dual cameras (1920*1080 full HD) that feed into a single recording unit and it is designed to be a permanent installation on the bike. Both cameras are recorded in full frame and can be played back as such or as ‘picture-in-picture’ on the recording unit built in screen. It also has a GPS unit that can overlay information onto the footage if you want. What I particularly like is that the cameras are fairly discreet and can be mounted out of the way of prying eyes and fiddly fingers. It has many more features that I’ll not go into here, but are well worth checking out on the Innovv website. Oh and the price is damn good when compared to many single-camera systems.

I really like the idea of an almost fit-n-forget system that starts and stops at the turn of the ignition key. Other than keeping the lenses clean I should be able to go about my daily business, smug in the knowledge that should something untoward happen, the Innovv K1 will have probably captured it and (if it detects excessive g) will have locked the video file to prevent deletion.


Of course common sense says that if vehicle manufacturers reduced the number of eye-candy gadgets and driver training were improved then the number of distracted idiots might reduce and I wouldn’t have to worry so much ….. but that’s not going to happen any time soon. Unfortunately the same is now happening with bikes, just look at the latest offerings. Colour LCD dashboards with more information, entertainment and interconnectivity than you can shake a very long stick at.

Above is a classic example of the latest sort of offering, also can anybody reasonably explain to me the obsession about knowing which gear you’re in and why it has to dominate the dashboard! It also appears that ‘neutral’ is so important to Ducati they show it you twice…… WTF! 😯

Easy RiderNo siree Bob, none of this information overload for me thank you very much. I’m going to fire up the Capo, fiddle with the GPS for a minute, turn on the GoPro from the wireless remote, plug into the Autocom, kickstart the music and make sure the phone has Bluetoothed itself to the GPS/Autocom just in case someone phones,  then I’m all set to ride around the corner for a nice loaf of bread ……….

……… The new breed of riders just don’t have a clue how simple life is with older bikes! 😉

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Bird watching!

Every so often nature throws a little something our way just to add a bit of spice, a touch of zest to what was just another average ride-out. Thinking about it, over the years I’ve tickled a dove, knocked out a sheep and sent a pheasant knock, knock, knocking on Heavens door. In fact the biggest thing I’ve hit is a cow, but that’s a whole other story. So the other day, when this Buzzard and I almost met (intimately!) I don’t quite know who got the bigger surprise.

Bear in mind that GoPro’s and cameras with wide-angle lenses make things look a lot further away than they really are …….. believe me, he was close enough to smell his aftershave!

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Italy earthquake 03:36 24th August 2016

I was alone at home and wide awake when the first vibrations were felt. Deep down inside, a weird sensation more than an actual feeling but in that moment all your senses are wide awake. I’d felt it before in 2009 and now here it was back again. As fast as you’re trying to articulate the word, the event happens. We take the very air we breath and the ground we stand on as absolute, like the sun coming up in the morning ….. when that ground begins to shake and heave beneath you, your entire frame of reference is momentarily lost – you freeze.

I am fine and our home has no structural damage, 45 miles away however it was a different story. Amatrice, Arquata, Accumoli and many other small villages were near the epicenter of the 6.1 earthquake. Today the death toll stands at 284 with a further 388 injured. Today, like yesterday, the rescue teams will be working tirelessly to find others.

Our hearts go out to the victims and families for their loss. Our praise and admiration goes to those emergency services both Italian and International who continue to work tirelessly day by day. In a world made ugly by some, it is wonderful to see what can be accomplished when people truly pull together.

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New closure panel and heatshield

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid headlight/dashboard closure panel AP8168916 in CADI finally got around to finishing off the new closure panel (AP8168916) and seat/tank heatshield (AP8117201 – now unavailable) using the 2mm rubber sheet I bought a few months ago. A single 500mm x 500mm piece is enough to make one each of the panels at a cost of about £4 per panel. Compare that to the list price of Aprilia replacements – £15.58 & £22.48 each PLUS VAT!

Next I’ll have a go at part AP8158254, the shield that fits over the two front lugs holding the airbox to the coil mounting plate. Mine split (at the lugs) years ago and I can’t find it anywhere to make a template from it, so I guess I’ll keep looking for a second hand one on Fleabay that I can use as a template instead ……. unless anyone has a spare they’ll loan me to make a drawing from?

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid closure panel AP8158254

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She’s let me down!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid broken keyWe called into a fuel station about 20 miles from home just as a thunderstorm was rolling toward us over the Gran Sasso mountains. It rumbled away as the sky drew ever darker while I filled up a 5l gas can for the mower and topped up the Capo’s tank. All done, time to head on ……. except the ignition wouldn’t turn. One look and my heart sank – 2/3 of a key winked at me from between my gloved fingers. Yes, the other third is still in the fuel tank!!

Long and the short of it, Jan drove over with the spare and I was on the road again. I have to say that 20 miles heading home under a pretty pissed-off thunderstorm is not really much to chuckle about, but it did remind me of the last few weeks in England! Once back in the barn, time to fix the problem. Stripping the cap didn’t help. The barrel looks like it’s fitted once and fitted for life, so no getting the bit out that way. OK, maybe a locksmith can do the job, but at what cost and what state would the lock be in afterwards? A replacement Aprilia cap (AP8104529) then? A quick search shelves that idea – €277 you have to be bloody kidding me! So how about aftermarket? Well it looks like Oberon make a nice key-less cap for £79.99 that fits. It looks good and folks seem to like Oberon quality, so maybe that’s an option. I’ll think about it.

Anyway, for now I’ve refitted the cap and it opens/closes just fine with the broken key. Tomorrow I’ll get a couple of replacements cut from the spare and mull over what to do next. Meanwhile lessons learned:-

  • Carry a spare key or squirrel one away somewhere on the bike – Andy (Beasthonda) gave me a good idea on that one – cheers Andy!
  • Give the key a once-over every now and then with a magnifying glass … maybe I’d have spotted the cracks starting you never know.
  • Replace the key every few years with a new one …. this one was 13 years old, so no real surprise that fatigue had set in by now.
  • And no matter how short the journey or how sunny it is when I leave, throw a set of waterproofs in the (empty) panniers. You never quite know!

Oh and as a parting word …. thank-you to whoever was watching over me on the last couple of big trips. Breaking a key then would have been a real ball-breaker that’s for sure! 😕

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Motrag radiator guard – UPDATE

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - Northern Italy as day breaks!The Motrag radiator guard has been on the Capo for about 6 weeks/4,600 miles. In that time it has been through driving rain, blazing sunshine and a temperature range of 7C to 35C. Not exhaustive, but a reasonable range of conditions and mileage on which to update the original review.

I don’t know about your Capo, but mine has always had a bit of ‘character’ when it comes to engine-temp versus ambient-temp. Below 25C ambient, the coolant will read a rock-solid 75C day in, day out. But as soon as the ambient temperature begins to rise above 25C, so will the engine-temp. By 35C outdoors, the Capo will run at no lower than 78C AND get hot under the collar when stationary far quicker. Quite understandable and besides, it has done it from day one and never changed – even when the coolant has been!

So how did the guard fare?

  • Quality: Superb! It looks as good now as when fitted. No corrosion or stone damage to the powder coated mesh that I can see.
  • Fit: Adhesive pads are still firmly attached to the radiator after undergoing wide temperature variations and vast amounts of rain!
  • Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Motrag radiator guard / protectionAffect on cooling: With ambient temperatures below 30C no noticeable difference in day-to-day running. Above this temp, a slight increase (approx 1-2C) was noticed along with slightly reduced time to fan-on when stationary. However I’m talking a change that was deliberately being looked for and based on years of experience on my Capo ‘as standard’. The fact is the difference is subtle and hardly noticeable at all and most certainly NEVER causes an issue.

Conclusion: This is a quality product at a good price that does the job intended and (to my eye) looks jolly nice as well. Protection, durability and aesthetics for under €70 can’t be bad in my books …. and if your reading this Manuel, bag up another one please for the second Raid! 😀

motrag.com – Radiator guard €64.95 inc. tax

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Growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional!

It seemed like the remaining miles were clocking up painfully slowly although the cruise control was locked at a solid 80mph (130Kmh). Here we are then, the Capo and I heading back to the UK and currently passing through Verdun, a section of motorway with bends and hills – certainly a touch more interesting than the bland featureless flat-lands of Northern France that’s for sure. Finally the odometer clicks over one more mile and we’ve done it – 100,000 miles!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid 100000 milesI pop the hazards on and roll to a halt on the hard-shoulder. The traffic is light and I’m only stopping long enough for a quick photo, I know I shouldn’t, but this one’s a biggie!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid 100,000 milesWe’re not the first by a long chalk …. Capo’s around the world have hit 100K miles since the late 2000’s. One in Italy did 125K+ and one in the USA 135k+ and there are others most definitely. But the number is low and I’m proud that my Capo and I have joined this small band of owners that have proved the reliability and longevity of our wonderful bikes. As I write this, the Capo now shows 102,698 miles and is all set for a bit of TLC after the ceaseless battering of rain it endured over the last three weeks. Along the way it gained a new MOT, a set of Anakee Wild tyres and a fresh pair of Brembo 07BB2035 brake pads for the rear caliper. In return it ran faultlessly, even in the face of rain the like of which I’ve not come across in many a  year.

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Wonkey headlight!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid headlight adjuster screwLast year the tester at the MOT station didn’t like the slightly low headlight beams (set to offset loaded panniers) and wanted to raise them. Unfortunately I think he raised the left-hand to the point of possibly unseating the ball at the end of the adjuster screw from the reflector. Friction alone on the other pivots probably only holding it in place to his satisfaction. About a month ago the same headlight went out of vertical alignment a little, then  finally the other evening, suddenly dropped completely (and very noticeably!) so the low-beam was now tripping over the front wheel!

First check – bulbs out and try to move the reflectors up and down. Right-hand no movement – fine, left-hand very wobbly, plus the adjuster unscrewed completely by hand. So, headlight out as it’s far easier to work on.

Remove the rubber gaiter and bulb and a visual check of the reflector mountings is possible – they looked OK, so I cleaned up the adjuster and applied the lightest wipe Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid headlight reflector adjuster socket and clippossible of grease on the ball to help it seat more easily, I honestly couldn’t have applied less if I’d just shown it a photo of a grease tub! Then screw in the adjuster and kept going (very gently!) a half turn at a time once it had seated against the reflector socket. I also used a little brass-tool to help pull lightly) on the reflector mount to help the process. I guess I went about three full turns before the ball made a loud ‘pop’ and dropped into position. I don’t know which was more relieved – the stresses in the reflector or my pulse-rate!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 headlightOnce the day was at an end, it was time to set the beam height …. the manual quotes 90% of the bulb height from the ground at 10m distance while sat on the bike. I did them one lamp lit at a time, then double checked with both lit and also checked the horizontal alignment at the same time. Total time about 10 minutes and hopefully a happy MOT guy in a few weeks time!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid rubber shield for dashboard lower and headlight 8158255Buttoning it all up went OK, but it was obvious the rubber dashboard lower/headlight shield has finally seen the best of its days with numerous splits starting. So a template was drawn, then reproduced in CAD and some 2mm rubber sheet ordered from Flea-Bay – cheaper than Aprilia, who want over €60 for the same part (AP8168916)!

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The Artful Bodger

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid AMP TE Connectivity Superseal connectotsOK I’ll come clean. I’m a bit of a closet bodger – there I’ve said it. Let’s be fair though, the art of bodging is a skill in itself. A well carried out bodge, with novel and outlandish use of alternative materials to affect a successful repair or upgrade is a beauty to behold. But then again a bad bodge will bite you on the arse quicker than a rabid badger having a rather bad-badger day.

So what did I bodge? Well the LED’s in the Capo’s binnacle might be nice and bright but the wiring behind them certainly wasn’t! Of course a lifetime of working with electric/electronics gives one a certain feel for the bodge to be enacted – why use a decent connector when twisting the wires together and slapping on a bit of insulating tape works just as well …… right?

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid AS7, Sparkbright and dashboard autodimming LED's

To be fair it was a temporary solution until I’d got hold of some connectors, except I kept forgetting and one thing led to another … And in the blink of an eye, a couple of years had gone by! Last week however, good old Motrag came to the rescue (again!) with a box full of 2 and 3 way Superseal connectors. I really do like these – 14A rated and waterproof (IP67) compared to the Molex items dotted around the Capo that are 5A and most certainly open to the elements. The only downside is that they are Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Motrag Superseal crimp toolmore bulky than the Molex so you can’t cram as many into a tight space!

Of course a cunning and artful bodger could fit these without the correct tool to crimp the connectors, but I yielded to common sense – besides Manuel had put a nifty set of crimping pliers in the box as well! Now all the panels are removable with a mere flick of a locking-tab, no longer do I wish for an extra appendage to assist in separating wires/tape while juggling with the panel. Sheer bliss! Here is a copy of the Superseal installation manual.

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