Thursday, March 31, 2011

A New Low!

Well, two actually, one literal and the other figurative.

The literal one involves the morning temperature. This morning it was 24º F (based on an average of my smart phone's 'native' weather app together with the Weather Channel's app). I wore my heavy Joe Rocket gloves (that also double as my water proof gloves) along with a light-weight fleece cycling pullover under my FieldSheer Adventure jacket. The Tusk Hand Mitts, in conjunction with the heavy gloves, did a yeoman's job of keeping my fingers warm. I've used the fleece pullover together with the Adventure jacket in the past. It works well. Based on the amount of condensation on the inside of my visor, collected while stopped at traffic lights, I may not be able to ride much below 20º F. I do have a neck gator that attaches to the jacket but did not use it this morning (but kind of wish I did). It took the NX a little longer to warm up (naturally) but I didn't notice any issue once it had completely come up to temperature.

The figurative one involves fuel. Twice now I've had the motor quit, in traffic no less, due to lack of fuel. The first time is because I took the previous owner's words to heart in that he had "filled the tank before I put it away for the winter." I should have known better and just topped off the tank when I started riding. That time, I was able to switch over to Reserve, at a traffic signal, and ride a few more miles to the next gas station. Yesterday, I managed run out at a very busy, complex intersection where three roads come together. I found myself in the left turn lane, against the divider whereupon I was able to switch to Reserve and get the NX started again. It must have been on fumes because a few miles later, she quit again. This time I was in a residential area and could swing onto a side street. I had to tip the bike on its side to get the remaining fuel "over the hump". Needless to say, the ride to my 'regular' gas station (which was the closest) was a little harrowing as I wasn't sure how much gas was really left, I was in rush hour traffic and there was no convenient, safe place to pull off. When I got there, the NX took just over two gallons which indicates a 'dry' tank. In addition to my stupidity, I was disappointed with the fuel economy; ~72 mpg. That plain sucks. Last year's ride (2001 Honda Reflex) would get about 68 mpg. That scooter has 250cc (twice as much as the NX) and weighs an additional 100 lbs.  What the hell? I'm still getting hesitation so I'm going to check the carburettor's float height but I wonder if I shouldn't do a compression check as well. I've noticed quite a bit of fluid coming from the crankcase ventilation strainer (the vapors are sent back into the air box, the separated liquid collects in a drain tube). Perhaps the new rings aren't seating?  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cold but Better

I wasn't expecting to ride today but I couldn't argue with the weather. This morning showed a temperature of 34º F and a forecast high of 46º F and sunny. Since this morning's temp was above the "Mendoza line", I dug the NX out from in front of my car, and took off. She still runs better than she did before (I 'adjusted' the carb). I routinely saw 8K rpm on the tach this morning (so much for 'break-in' time). But, I may still have fuel delivery issues. Around 6500 rpm, there's a pretty good hesitation, like it's running out of gas. Stupidly, I did not measure/check the float height when I had the carb out a couple of weekends ago. Either the float height is too low (running the float bowl dry) or the carb is jetted too lean. We're all aware that a manufacturer's emission trick is to jet the carb on the lean side so the bike(s) will pass the emissions inspection. I wouldn't doubt the same is true here (the main and pilot jets are what the shop manual says they should be). However, the spark plug still indicates the motor is running properly based on the tan insulator near the spark tip. So, I'll need to recheck the float height. I'm hoping to do this with the carb still attached to the engine. It was quite a pain to reinstall it last time. I may also consider a slightly richer main jet (100 is stock, jump to a 102.5 or 105?). Let's hope warm weather gets here soon...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Check Everything, Find Nothing, Fix the Problem

OK, remove the side panels, seat, tank fairings and gas tank so I can check "everything". Here's what 'everything' consists of:

Fuel valve: removed, cleaned and replaced. Found some small pieces of debris on the screen but nothing major. Noticed no obstructions, used compressed air to ensure interior passages were clear.

Fuel line (to carb): removed, inspected and replaced. No obstructions found.

Carb: removed, cleaned and replaced. Used carb cleaner and compressed air. Found a little varnish on the valve seat but no obstructions in the passages or in the jets. Double checked the slide action (to ensure WOT) and that the cable wasn't binding.

Air box: Cleaned air sock as well as the underlying screen - a little dirty but not nasty. Removed the internal air horn and inspected the box-to-carb boot. It was clear. Inspected the action of the carb slide (to ensure WOT) and choke butterfly - no issues.

Engine: Removed all inspection ports to check the cam timing. It seems like it might be off 1/2 a tooth. But, there's no way to resolve that. Valve adjustments are within spec. The images show the timing mark and the cam gear marks. The timing mark is very hard to see but it's where it's supposed to be, with respect to the cam timing marks, according to the shop manual. I enhanced the cam gear marks so you can see them with respect to their reference marks (on the engine case).

Exhaust: Removed entire exhaust system to check for obstructions and/or rust. Found nothing. The inside of the pipe is clean and has very little carbon (fuel-air mixture correct) build-up.

After reassembling everything, I started the NX and noticed a pretty high idle (2200 rpm). Since it was pretty cold (35º F), I let it idle at that rpm and took it for a short ride to warm the engine. I came back home and adjusted the idle to 1300 (+/- 100) rpm per shop manual specs. With the motor warm, I revved the motor, in neutral, in the driveway. It went right up to 7500 rpm without issue. I went for a ride and the motor would spin right up to 9K+ rpm (well, there's a slight hesitation around 7K rpm).

So, whatever I did (and I'd like to know what it was) fixed the problem. I'm thinking it must have been something to do with the carb. Perhaps the slide wasn't sitting in the bore properly? I dunno. All I know is she screams now (like she's supposed to). Now, if I could only figure out what to do with 13 hp....ha!

After thinking about it some, I’m going to guess the carb slide was somehow bound up. I noticed when I unscrewed the slide cap that the throttle cable housing spun with the cap. When I reinstalled, I held the cable housing so that only the cap spun. Something was definitely different for the idle screw to be more than one full turn off.

Special thanks to my good friend Russ (who has ridden bikes longer than I've known him) who provided some insight and a list potential things that might be wrong. And, thanks to Joe at Cycle Tech in Summit, Illinois. Cycle Tech rebuilt the motor for the previous owner. Joe was kind enough to spend a few minutes on the phone with me during a busy (for the shop) Saturday afternoon. He pretty much verified the list of things I was going to check.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Old Man Winter - Not Done Yet

I was hoping that I would be able to start my riding season around the same time as I did last year (mid-March 2010). I got about a week's worth of riding in when the weather decided to stop cooperating. This morning finds light snow on the ground and ice on the roads. Temps are supposed to dip below freezing, at night, and only be in the 30s during the day. That, and the fact that the NX has some sort of issue with running above 4K rpm, means the bike will remain in the garage until next week some time. Right now, it looks like Tuesday, March 29, will be conducive to riding.

Now, for that engine issue; it seems that I need to check several things. Fuel delivery; I've already cleaned the carburettor and air filter so I know that's not the issue. But, I need to ensure the fuel valve screen is clear and that the fuel lines are flowing at maximum capacity. Cam Timing; it seems that the cam shaft might be off proper timing and I'll need to double check that. So, this will require quite a bit of disassembly (side covers, seat, tank fairings, tank, rocker covers, cam gear cover, etc.). So, it looks like Saturday will be a busy day. Until the weather improves and I get the bike checked out, posting will be sparse.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Long Ride - More Olympia Bushwacker Feedback

This past Saturday was a pretty nice day for (almost) Spring. I met up with a few friends and went for a nice ride (~100 miles). I found myself to be severely deficient with respect to cubic centimeters. I think the next smallest engine was 650cc. Needless to say, I was left behind at almost every intersection. Fortunately, a few others rode 'drag' with me which helped keep me from getting dispatched by aggressive cages. What was really frustrating, was to eventually catch up with the group, only to encounter a change in direction whereupon everyone would zoom away from me again. I played catch-up all afternoon. One thing I did realize was that the engine wouldn't rev over 4K rpm. Something is not right. Initially, it felt like fuel delivery issue. Perhaps the carb had become gummed up over the winter. I cleaned the carb, in record time, to no avail. This morning's commute reveals the  issue remains. Some suggestions involve adjusting the camshaft timing. I will look into that this evening.

The Olympia Bushwacker jacket continues to impress me. Firstly, one of the others I rode with had a jacket with Hi-Viz panels. He was clearly visible from over 1/4 mile away. Also, the temperature was 40º F when I began my ride. I also wore a fleece jersey (base layer) in addition to the jacket's liner. I was comfortable all day. I think asking the Bushwacker to keep me warm @ temps near freezing is asking a lot but it's nice to know the jacket has enough versatility to go from 40º F to near 100º F.

FAIL - Fender Flap

As I suspected, the rubber flap was too soft (low durometer) to maintain its shape. I had found it sucked up under the fender earlier in the week and figured that was an ominous sign. It sure was. It happened again over the weekend, during a ride with some friends. This time, I could smell it, ever so slightly, as the front tire wore it to shreds. So, either I find a new source for harder 6" x 6" black rubber sheet or I go with the harder durometer sheet at my local Ace hardware store that's brick red.

Or, I could fabricate a "T" shaped stiffener. The top of the "T" would be pierced by the two center fasteners and the 'run' of the "T" would support the flap. It would have to be made of aluminum so I wouldn't have to worry about (battle) rust.

I can't really figure out how it got sucked up into the fender in the first place. Vibration? Wind deflection? Unlucky bounce? It doesn't really matter, in the long run. Natural selection has run its course and this iteration has become (quickly) extinct. Next!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Not surprised but then again...

OK, I knew that the NX wouldn't have a whole lot of (horse)power or torque. 125cc has a tendency to be 'light' with respect to both categories. But, I wasn't quite ready to experience "how light" it truly is. Yesterday was pretty warm (upper 60s) but overcast and quite windy. While riding to an after-work appointment (dentist, if you must know), I rode thru a local forest preserve. The road thru the preserve is divided with two lanes in both directions. There is a dearth of places for law enforcement to hide (i.e. no speed traps) so the pace on this stretch of road is usually pretty brisk (50-55 mph) even though the posted limit is 40 mph or 45 mph. I was riding so that the wind was hitting me from the "port bow" (hittimg me at a 45º angle from the front/left). It was enough to knock a good 5 mph off my top speed. Try as I might, I could only get to about 50 mph and, if I let the rpm drop, it was a real challenge to get those revs back. Since I'm still taking it easy on the motor, I have another 400 miles, or so, to complete the break-in, sometimes the NX really suffers with respect to speed. I don't think I've exceeded 3500 rpm since I've begun riding. This is way low of the red line (@ 10,500 rpm) and way low of the engine's maximum output (@ 10,000 rpm). Perhaps I'm being too easy on the motor but I'd prefer to not tax it too much until I put a few hundred miles on it.

It was a little cooler this morning than it was yesterday. I'm going to guess that the Olympia Bushwacker, with the liner, will be good down to temperatures of about 40º F. I was hoping that it would be warm enough to possibly replace my FieldSheer Adventure jacket but I don't think that's going to be the case. While it would be nice to have a one-jacket-does-everything, it's not realistic. I'm still thrilled that I'm able to replace three jackets (as mentioned previously) with the Bushwacker.

BTW, no cavities! And, congratulations to the Michigan Men's Basketball team, who defeated the Tennessee Volunteers in today's NCAA Tournament game. Go Blue.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Commute - Day 2

The weather has certainly cooperated over the last two days; yesterday started out cool (cold from some respects) with temperatures near freezing. The ride home saw temps in the low 60s (Fahrenheit). Today, temps started near 50º F and should be in the mid-to-upper 60s by the ride home. So, I've had a great opportunity to test some of my (new) gear. Yesterday I wore my tried and true FieldSheer Adventure jacket and FirstGear HT II over-pants. I would consider the Adventure jacket to be a "three season" jacket. Those seasons would be Autumn, Winter and Spring. I don't ride much in the winter once snow stays on the ground. But, the Adventure jacket has been prefect for those early Spring and late Fall rides. It has a liner, that I rarely wear, and is waterproof (personally tested). The over-pants have already seen three riding seasons and I like them so much, I would buy another pair right now. Granted, they can be warm (OK, hot) in the middle of Summer but I don't find them to be so miserable that I'll be shopping for something cooler (like mesh pants). Actually, I'm looking to consolidate some gear in an effort to have less items in the closet. This leads me to my newest acquisition; an Olympia Bushwacker jacket. The Bushwacker has been discontinued by Olympia (this version bas been, at least) and I chose the hi-viz yellow color. They come pretty highly recommended (over at Adventure Rider and by folks that sell motorcycle gear). With the jacket being a "closeout" and priced accordingly, I bought one to replace three jackets; a TourMaster Cortech, a Hein-Gerecke mesh and a Suzuki branded rain coat. The Bushwacker has a waterproof liner that doubles as a stand-alone jacket in its own right. But, I'm always concerned about being visible to fellow motorists especially when conditions are poor (rain). It didn't make much sense to put on a blue rain coat when I could have the liner keep me dry and have the hi-viz yellow still on the outside. There are some that don't like a waterproof liner because the mesh jacket soaks up quite a bit of water and becomes heavy (to wear) and, subsequently, takes quite some time to dry. I'm OK with that. If it's raining in the morning, I'll take the car, if it rains during the day, well, then, I'm covered. The jacket was perfect for this morning's ride. I have no complaints (yet?) but I did decide to remove the "utility belt" (the jacket comes with a belt, around the waist, that has three utility 'pouches' on it). I'm already wondering if it couldn't replace the Adventure jacket provided I add a thin cycling fleece vest under the liner.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

First Commute - Initial Thoughts

The first ride actually occurred last night (15 Mar 2011).  I decided it may not be a good idea to jump on the NX and then have a problem half way to the office.  So, I took a 30 minute (13 mile) cruise last evening before it got (really) dark. Interestingly, drivers looked at me either like 1) I had lost my mind or 2) they had never seen a motorcycle before. Granted, it wasn't very warm (approx. 37º F) and looked like it might rain at any moment but, still...the looks. The bike ran flawlessly and was as much fun as I have been suspecting for months.
About fifteen minutes into the ride I (honestly) thought; "I wonder was an NX250 is like, I gotta get one of those!" Could an NX650 be far behind? I may have to adjust the tachometer, the refresh rate is a tad slow for my liking. Fortunately, there's an adjustment setting but it requires that I remove the tach from the fuse box cover. This involves quite a bit of disassembly. Drat. Here are a couple of shots from the office parking lot this morning (16 Mar 2011). I highly recommend the Tusk Hand Mitts! They're a little cumbersome but certainly keep your hands warm and out of the wind stream.  I rode with my mid-weight gloves (Icon Barrier - sadly discontinued) that I normally wear when the temperatures are between 45º F -70º F. This morning's temperature was right around freezing. The tips of my fingers were a little cold when I got to the office but considering what they'd felt like before, with winter gloves no less, I'm thrilled. I'm also wearing my new Arai XD3 helmet. With it's motocross styling, it's a bit more noisy than my old HJC full face helmet. So, I'm also using foam ear plugs. I'm surprised that I can actually hear better with the ear plugs than I could without them. It seems they cut down the high pitched 'hissing' noises which allows sound that "matters" to come through. I could clearly hear all of the vehicles around me as well as the engine's slight valve tick and the howl of the Bridgestone Trail Wing tires. The temperature will be near 60º F by the time I head for home, I can't wait.

Rear Rack - Completion

There really wasn't much more to do to the rear rack except to bolt it on the bike, put the turn signals back on and remount the seat. I did take the opportunity to ensure that the turn signal wiring was in it's proper location. There are obvious places where Honda created 'space' for the wiring. Each side of the rear fender has special "troughs" that allow the wiring to pass thru (to connect to the main harness) yet keep water and dirt at bay.

Additionally, there is a large 'boot' that covers all of the connections into the main harness. This boot had been moved forward, exposing the connection points. After reconnecting the turn signals, I made sure the boot was in place and that the main harness was secured within it's holding channel (which is welded to the frame).

Here's the Givi (E36?, E43? - I forget) Top Case mounted on the base plate / rack. This is big enough to hold a set of light-weight jumper cables, a dry sack, a bicycle u-lock and cable, my laptop, lunch cooler and spare pair of (waterproof) gloves. That's a pretty good load and was one of the reasons I worked so hard to fabricate the rack in the first place. The case is a Monokey model which means one key is used to open it as well as lock it to the base plate. It's a pretty slick set-up and I'm happy it came with the TransAlp (which was a surprise, I wasn't expecting to be included). That top reflector, on the case, has holes to accept lights.  And, the case has a knock out to allow wiring to pass thru the bottom.  I think Givi may have intended to offer an optional "light package" for top cases like this. Apparently, they discontinued this line of cases before that became reality. I would like the added brake light and am going to see what's involved to make that work.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rear Rack - Progress

I managed to complete the rack, drill holes for the Givi E200 base plate, sand it and give it a coat of silver paint.  I spent almost as much time grinding my welds down as I did welding the rack together in the first place.  After I was happy that the welds were presentable, I used a foam sanding block to rough up the surface of the steel tube (to provide some 'tooth' for the spray paint).  I believe the sanding block was 400 or 600 grit, nothing too aggressive.  For paint, I used Rustoleum 7515 High Performance Enamel Aluminum.  It happens to be a very close match for the silver color that Honda uses at the factory.

Here, the Givi base plate has been attached with M6 Allen Head bolts.  For vibration resistance, I used Nyloc nuts as well.

Subtle Touches, Odds and Ends

In an effort to make the NX a little more user friendly, I decided to modify a few things.  First, I decided I did not like the stock shift lever.  It's a little short and does not have a spring-loaded, folding tip.  The folding tip probably isn't a big deal, for the street.  But, I do plan to ride the NX on dirt and gravel roads and perhaps some two-track.  The folding shifter tip will come in handy should the shift lever encounter some solid objects (like, tree roots, rocks and/or the ground).  Luckily, shift levers, from 'big brother' bikes (like the TransAlp, XR600, XR650...) easily retrofit onto the NX.

Here, I've swapped the stock unit for an XR600 shift lever.  As compared to the stock unit, the XR600 unit is slightly longer (additional leverage is a good thing) yet maintains the contours to clear the engine side case (stator cover).  With the spring-loaded, folding tip, it's capable of taking a little more abuse before the lever itself bends.

I also added a rubber flap, a la the TransAlp, to the front fender.  Unlike the TransAlp, the stock fender exposes quite a bit of the front tire, aft of the forks.  This will obviously lead to quite a bit of spray ('road rain') from the front tire in wet conditions.  I wanted to limit some of that exposure to help keep my feet dry and keep water off of the engine and exhaust pipe.  I used a six inch square piece of black rubber from the hardware store.  I'm a little concerned that the hardness (durometer) might be on the soft side and that the flap won't be able to contain as much spray as I'd like.  In an effort to provide some support, I mounted the rubber, to the fender, with four fasteners (stainless steel M4-1.00 x 16, with fender washers and Nyloc nuts).  As you can see, two of the fasteners are on the sides of the fender, creating a "u" shape.  I'm hoping this shape will provide enough structure to resist wind/water deformation.  If the flap deforms enough, it obviously won't do its job.  I can procure some rubber with a higher durometer but it doesn't come in black, it only comes in a color resembling red brick.

Monday, March 14, 2011

SEE and Be Seen

One of the first things you're taught in Motorcycle Safety Class is the acronym; S.E.E.  That stands for Scan, Evaluate and Execute.  Since you don't have eyes in the back of your head, it also helps to make yourself as visible as possible, especially in the low light of early mornings during early Spring and late Autumn.  And, for those of you who are fortunate enough to ride all year; the low light of early morning and early evening in Winter.  After I had graduated from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course, I received an nice triangle shaped, reflective sticker for the back of my helmet.  However, I retired that helmet after last season.

So, I needed to add some reflective material to the back of my new Arai XD3 helmet.  My local industrial hardware store sells reflective tape, by the foot, in one inch and three inch widths.  I purchased a foot of red and a foot of white in the one inch wide variety.  Even one inch wide tape is too wide to stick to the helmet without wrinkling and eventually peeling off. So, I used a Cutterpede, which my wife happens to own, to make 1/8" strips.  A cutterpede is essentially a straightedge cutter.  An Xacto knife and steel ruler will work just as well (except you're going to have to measure out the strip widths yourself).  I cut a bunch of strips from both the red and white reflective material and proceeded to layout a simple pattern that fit within the markings already on the helmet (courtesy of Arai).  For the most part, I applied most of the reflective strips to the back of the helmet, but I also followed some of the helmet contours and put some material on the sides, too.  This, coupled with the reflective material on my FieldSheer Adventure jacket and/or my hi-viz yellow Olympia Bushwacker jacket should help me to be more obvious to others on the road.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rack and Roll

While the daytime temperature range is just below my riding threshold, I can feel that Spring is approaching.  So, I made significant progress this past weekend.  Previously, I had figured out how to attach the rack to handle the loading.  I had basically used 1/2" square tube to use the same fastener for the seat and oriented the tubing to use the turn signals as support.  So, the 'base' was in place and I needed to fabricate the rack itself and then weld everything together.

This is what I originally envisioned which is pretty much what I ended up fabricating.

It's interesting how close the sketch and the actual rack ending up being.  I didn't have the angle of the support quite right (which prevented it from connecting at the rear of the rack but the triangulation is plenty strong).  This picture is kind of dark, I'll post some better images soon.  I still need to drill the rack base for the E200 Givi base plate.  After that, some light sanding (to provide 'tooth' for the paint) and a coat of silver to match the frame.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I gotta know.....the RPM

I mentioned previously that I was a little dismayed to discover that there is no factory tachometer on the NX's dash.  I decided to procure a digital tachometer (and hour-o-meter) from Trail Tech.  For just under $40 (incl. shipping), I now have a tach for the bike.  The tach is powered by an internal battery which is supposed to last for about 10 years.  Additionally, it displays the hours the engine has been running when the engine is turned off.  While I prefer an analog tach, this is about as affordable as it can get.  I prefer analog simply because it can be glanced it and your mind will register (approximately) what revolutions the engine is turning, based on the location of the needle in relation to the tach face.  With digital, your mind has to see the numbers and then 'convert' said numbers.  It similar to switching from an analog to digital wrist watch.

To begin, here's an image of an unaltered NX125 dash. To the right of the speedometer, you can see a balck plastic 'box'.  On bigger Hondas, like my TransAlp, this 'box' covers a fuse block.  The NX has no fuses under this cover, there's just an open hole in the underlying dashboard.  This is a perfect mounting location for the tach.

Here's a shot of the tach mounted on the fuse cover.  I used 8-32 x 1" stainless steel button head fasteners with Nyloc nuts.  It's hard to see but the wiring exits the unit in the upper right hand corner so I had to drill a third hole, in the cover, so that the wiring can run thru the dashboard.  The cover is held to the dash by the tab at the lower edge and one Phillips screw.  Unfortunately, the screw is only accessible from behind the dash which means the front and side fairings have to come off the bike to gain access.  Note: the tach has a few functions (refresh rate, etc.) that are set by a small button on the backside of the unit.  It's necessary to use the included mounting sticker to affix the unit to the cover.  Why?  This will ensure the vibrations don't change your settings because the button is being "pushed" by the cover when the fasteners are tightened.

In this image, I've run the wiring thru the dash and followed the throttle and choke cables to the spark plug wire.  The coil is just out of view (upper left) and the cap has been removed from the spark plug (seen exposed just behind and to the right of the coiled red wire).  I used a zip tie to hold the tach wiring to the spark plug wire.  I chose a place where there's a wear sleeve which will provide some cushioning.  The red wire runs within a black sheath.  The red coil is what will pick up the electrical pulses to the spark plug.

I wrapped the red wire tightly and secured it with some electrical tape and another zip tie.  I used additional zip ties to hold the tach wire to the throttle/choke cables.  When the throttle cable branches off, the tach wire continues to follow the choke cable where it goes thru the dashboard and the extra wire is contained within the cover.

Finished and ready to go!

Addendum: I forgot to mention that, with a little help, I finally discerned the red line for the Honda 125cc four stroke SOHC engine; it's 10,500 rpm (!).  Maximum horsepower is made @ 10,000 rpm.  I don't know about you but my ear isn't good enough to "hear" that red line, hence the need for a tach.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

And, then again....

Sometimes it just makes sense to stop with the research, postulating, theorizing and planning and just grab some tools and start working.  I recall a teacher or college professor that once said; "just put something down on paper.  You can always go back and edit it but at least start writing."*  Obviously, starting was the hard part (and still is, for me).

I had decided that using square steel tubing was to be easier than to experiment with bending round steel tubing.  There are too many ways to mess up round tube, with respect to bends, and end up with various lengths of unusable tube.  Also, there's a science to creating the flattened tube ends (where the bolt holes are).  You can't just smash the tube flat (with a hammer or vice) and drill a hole.  If you use the brute force method, you're likely to end up with the tubing wall splitting or breaking off as it fatigues from vibration.  Thanks to some shows on cable, I've seen the tooling required to do this right; it involves various die shapes as well as presses with several tons of force.  Honda chose at least two methods, on the NX alone, in which to form 'smashed' tubing ends which will last; one involves the method mentioned above and the other involves inserting smaller diameter tube within the main tube ends and then 'smashing' said tubing.

So, I opted to use 1/2" square tube and was resigned to the fact I would have to experiment with slot cuts to create offsets (to clear various obstructions).  Well, I was happy to discover that by using a 5/16" spacer (at the seat bolts), I could use a straight piece of tube for the load bearing member.  The area in red, in the illustration, is one straight piece of 1/2" square tube and the load is supported by the bolt that holds the seat as well as by the turn signal.  I can use 3/4" square tube to fabricate the rack base plate support.  I may not even need to form a rectangle, I'm thinking a "U" shape will do the trick mostly due to the fact that the (Givi E200) base plate will be bolted on top (this will strengthen the rack assembly even further).  My only concern, with respect to stresses involved, are the attaching plates at the turn signals.  They're only .060" (1/16") thick.  To compensate, I plan to have the 'risers' be only tall enough so that the "U" shaped base just clears the rear fender.  This should keep side loading to a minimum (which, hopefully, won't fatigue or cause those plates to bend).

*(or something to that effect)