Sunday, October 20, 2013

TGB Hook 50 [Quick Ride]

I called it Enzo. 

Rented on the island of Bermuda for about $80 ($50+$30 insurance), the Taiwan Golden Bee Hook is 50cc of two stroke fury.   

The single cylinder motor produces 4.5 HP and drives power to the rear wheel through a covered belt.     Like most scooters, there are no gears to shift or clutch to feather.   It features a continuously variable transmission.  

Just twist the throttle and pick up your feet.   Brakes?  A bit grabby but functional.    The suspension, after 20,000 KM, was noticeably shot and the body showed signs of past encounters with stationary objects.  Still, Enzo was surprisingly fun to ride.    

Leaning forward into the wind, on a slight downhill, I managed a top speed of an indicated 55km/h or about 34 mp/h.    On Bermuda's twisty single lanes, it was thrilling speed on 12 inch wheels. 

Fuel efficiency?  No clue, but I'm guessing about 250-300 km out of the 1.8 gallon tank.    Plus, the smoke from the back will keep the mosquitoes at bay. 

The controls and dash on Enzo are basic, but well laid out.    Despite living in the sea air and humidity, plastic and metal were also holding up well.  The speedometer for example, was sparkling clear.    

Overall, I was impressed.   This scoot is well designed, aesthetically pleasing and reasonably durable.    Believe it or not, it'll even carry two adults.     

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Jnscaggs Slim Rack Installation (WR250R/WR250X)

One of the first farkles you'll probably want to add to your WRR is a cargo rack.      The bike is now in its sixth year of production, so lots of options are available.    

I chose a slim rack made by a WRR forum member.     It's billet aluminum, well designed, and looks perfect on the bike.    It also weighs very little.

Over the years, I've learned that lighter is better with dual sport bikes - especially if you plan on serious off road riding.    Larger racks are available, but they look clunky and they don't really increase cargo capacity.     Remember, anything you're carrying gets strapped down.  

A few days after ordering the rack, it arrived in the mail.    In the box: the rack and mounting hardware, but no instructions.    I'm not sure if that was an oversight or not, but here are a couple of notes for those who follow.

1.  Remove the seat and side covers.   The side covers each have one bolt.    The seat is held on by two bolts beneath the fender.

2.  A single rubber band holds down the computer.

3.  Two black 10mm bolts hold the rear cover in place

4.  Four bolts to remove the tail light assembly from the subframe.

5.  The mounting points are pre-marked on the cover.   They are dabbed with white out in the picture above.

6.  Yamaha uses extremely soft plastic.   I recommend drilling a small pilot hole and then working your way up in size.   The aluminum sleeves are slightly larger than 12mm.    Use a 12.5mm bit.   I only had a 12.0mm bit, so I widened the holes slightly be angling the bit and turning it by hand.

7.  The sleeves go through the plastic and the rack will sit slightly above the plastic cover (pictured above).    This will make it easy to slip hooks or tie downs around the slots in the rack.

8.  Don't forget to use loc-tite on all your bolts when you reassemble.  Oh, and double check to make sure the cover is seated correctly.   There is a small rubber mounting point at the end of the cover that is easy to overlook.  

Additional Resources
Jnscaggs order page
Discussion thread (with lots of pics)

Friday, March 8, 2013

2013 Nissan Leaf EV [First Drive]

Are Electric cars ready for mainstream America?    The 2013 Nissan Leaf brings EVs one step closer to your front door.

Nissan, VW, Toyota, and Chevrolet now have EVs in dealer showrooms and more manufacturers have plans to release EVs in the near future.  Efforts are also underway to create a network of quick charging stations.   Make no mistake, electric vehicles are becoming more prevalent and prices are falling.

The 2013 Nissan Leaf fell into my hands via the Drive Sunshine Institute, a non-profit with a mission to speed the adoption of electric vehicles by staging test drives.   With a base price below $30,000 and tax incentives worth up to 50% of the price, the Leaf is starting to look like a savvy transportation option.

The upside?    Handling and performance similar to any modern, gasoline powered, small car.    It's not exciting, but it'll get you there nicely.   For short trips, the Leaf offers room for four, a couple of sets of clubs, and near silent propulsion.  My initial impression is of high build quality and I'm gald to hear it's assembled in Tennessee.   The price is right and Nissan is even willing to lease you the vehicle for $200 a month.   Now, that's affordable.

The downside?    A range of only 75 miles.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Allegro's New Ride

I was at Whole Foods the other day, and I happened to catch Allegro's new ride.    Check it out.

Now, I don't know much about Allegro Coffee, except that they're local and they make pretty damn good coffee.    Now that I've seen their new wheels, I like 'em even more.    Well done.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Riding in January

The first year I lived in Boulder, I thought I'd winterize my bike.     Oops, rookie mistake.

There is at LEAST one day, every single month of the year, which is perfect for riding.     Today, January 19th,  was just such a day and it started with a double dose of Dizzy's.    Oh, yes!

The roads we took are also a popular cycling route.    It was up 63rd and over to 75th to Hygiene.     Zig-zag north west to Carter Lake.    Continue north to Horsetooth Reservoir,  before dropping down into Ft. Collins.     Return some other creative way, or circle back.    

Nice rolling terrain with some curves, staying low to stay warm (60 degrees today!), and watching for sandy spots.     If you want to wipe the smile off my face, you're going to need a chisel.

Bike Update
As far the K went, it was smooth.   Before the ride, I popped the brake pads out, cleaned them, and applied some caliper lube on the back side of the pads.   I was getting a squeal from the pads and this seemed to do the trick.

The throttle is feeling a little sticky, so it's probably time to lube the linkage.    Since I bought the bike, the throttle has been stiff and doesn't return.    It's not an urgent issue, but it's something I will address soon.  

Otherwise, the bike performed fine.   The new rear shock continues to work perfectly.    

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

VW Westfalia Love

Meet Vincent.

Vincent is an early 80's Westfalia brought over from Germany.    He now sports a Subaru conversion, among a few other tricks.

He was dirty so I gave him a bath.

Note the concentration.  

Vincent was converted by a shop in Boulder called Wild Westy.   It's run by a guy named Lucas Hofgard.

This is what the shop looked like if you happen to randomly swing by in mid-January and start taking photos.   It's very cozy.     I wouldn't even call it a garage, it's a workshop and Lucas is a craftsman.  Yes,  I have a serious case of garage envy.

The Syncro in the shop is undergoing a Subaru conversion.   Let's take a closer look.    

Here's the old engine coming out.   It's a little worn out and consumes oil, a lot of oil.     Like a quart every hundred miles or something outrageous.   I think Lucas said that once upon a time, this motor was modified by Go Westy in California.  

Out with the old, in with the new.    This particular van is heading back to California and that required some special considerations for the new motor to be smog compliant.   More on that later.

Here's the shiny new, modified Subaru engine ready to go in.  

Tell us about the engine, Lucas.

Fair disclosure:   I've driven quite a few buses but I haven't driven any that had the pickup that Vincent has.   The  Subaru conversion is lovely, really.    Sign me up.

I should also note that I have not had work done by Wild Westy (yet).  On my short, more or less unannounced visit, I spent a bit of time with Lucas. I was impressed by the depth of his knowledge.  He also clearly cares about his work.  He's a craftsman and building his rep one van at a time.  

When I'm ready Lucas,  you're doing my Westy conversion.