Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Original Equipment Rear Rack - Sourced

I was able to secure an original equipment rear rack off of a beater 1989 NX125. Naturally, that large on-line auction site was the "source". How do I know the donor bike was a beater? Most of time, when I person parts out a bike, and subsequently offers those parts for sale, they post images of said parts. I reviewed all of the NX125 parts this person had to offer and it was pretty obvious that one bike was the source. It appears as if said bike was also painted with a brush and had seen a hard life. I corresponded with the seller, who was certainly nice enough (this is no reflection on him), but based on some of his statements, that NX was ridden hard and put away wet for most of its life (again, no reflection on the seller). Even as I look at the rack, it appears to be tweaked, slightly twisted in such a way as to indicate it hit a solid surface most likely when the bike was dropped. The rear turn signals, along with the special mounting brackets were not even on the NX when the seller acquired the bike. So much for lucking into some rare and expensive parts.

I found some images, on-line, of a 1989 or 1990 NX125 rear rack. The rack I bought needs a good cleaning and to be powder coated. I have to decide which color; silver to match the frame or black as from the factory.

This image better shows how those distinctive brackets orient the turn signals above and to the rear of the mounting bolt on the side of the rack.

I find this picture to be most revealing; it shows that those grommeted holes, in the rear fender, are not for a rack locating pins (as originally theorized) but instead are for the turn signal wiring.

Here is a quick mock-up of how the rack will look on my NX. I will be using a set of Suzuki DRZ400 turn signals in place of the difficult to find original equipment units. As you can see, the Suzuki brackets orient the turn signals into almost the exact same position as they were from the factory. What I will not be doing is drilling holes into my rear fender (for the wiring). I will run the wires along the main rack support until they clear the main gusset (right above the trailing edge of the tool pouch holder (in this image). At that point the wiring will duck under the rear fender and follow the molded-in channels towards the connection point in the main harness (under the seat).

For fun, I checked to see if the Honda TransAlp rack plate would fit (to provide a larger platform). It snaps right into place. Sweet. That also means I could revert to the Givi Top Case if I wanted. I wouldn't mind using the top case on this rack because it will be more securely mounted to the bike (than my home-made rack is/was).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Derailed by a Derecho

Courtesy of a fast moving storm front that involved a derecho (pronounced "deh-REY-cho" in English), my office was without power for most of the week of July 10, 2011. The storm front actually went through on the morning of Monday, July 11, 2011. Since I worked from home for the rest of that week, there wasn't much commuting (on the NX). The office complex continued to suffer, with the air conditioning failing, on Monday, July 18,2011 (resulting in another day at home). Things seem to be back to normal and power was finally restored, in Chicago-land, on Sunday, July 17, 2011. Naturally, the commute resumes in some blistering conditions. Chicago-land is supposed to endure highs in the mid-to-upper 90s this week and humidity is supposed to be off-the-charts as well. I'm glad I had my home HVAC system serviced earlier in the year. The ride home today should be fun, fun, fun........

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

NX as an Adventure Bike?

As I've owned various dual sports, I've come to the conclusion that I prefer to ride dirt/gravel roads, forest service roads, two track and the occasional well-worn single track. I've never ridden motocross (MX) and really don't have much of an inclination to do so (no offense MX-ers). One of the reasons I sold my trusty DR350SE was due to the fact that it wasn't much of a on-pavement cruiser. Most of the routes that I would prefer to explore are usually some distance from my home. This necessitates transport (a tow vehicle and trailer or a pick-up truck) to the starting point and from the ending point. Sometimes coordinating that is as much work as the trip itself. So, I opted to buy something that can handle the distance involved to/from the start/end points as well as the trip in-between. The TransAlp fits that bill.

My wife indicated she was going to ride her scooter, to work, this summer. That prompted my search for a replacement since I used her scooter, to commute, last summer. Initially, I had a chance at a KLR250 but I was not financially ready to purchase so I decided to pass (ironically, I 'met' the KLR and it's new owner this past weekend). A few weeks later, I was put on the trail of the NX and here we are. After riding it for a couple of months now, I wondered if it could handle being an "adventure" bike in my sense of the word. Well, I had the opportunity to test the NX this past weekend in northwestern Illinois.

The weekend's activities involved an on-highway trip to Freeport, Illinois. That's about 90 miles of high speed pavement. The NX did not like that at all. I believe the gearing and the jetting both are culprits here. The tachometer indicated 7250 rpm @ 55 mph. I know the engine can spin faster than that but I prefer not to run those rpm for hours at a time. Additionally, the NX's 125cc motor doesn't have the torque to pull up (moderate) hills or deal with a headwind. Up hill into a headwind really causes the motor to labor. I wonder if the main jet is too lean because being at WOT (wide open throttle) didn't help much and fuel economy fell into the upper 80s (mpg). Perhaps if the jetting was richer, there wouldn't be the issue with hills and headwinds and , perhaps, the NX could make better use of the lower, numerically, 15/48 gearing. Regardless, those changes won't make the NX the long distance cruiser that the TransAlp can be (125cc single versus 600cc v-twin).

I was impressed by its ability to carry the necessary equipment. I put a waterproof bag, containing a tent, air mattress, light-weight sleeping bag and a few other odds & ends, on the rear rack. Additionally, I had a tool roll attached to the rack but the seat bore its weight. I wore a backpack with more gear inside which included a Camel-Bak reservoir. The NX handled very well considering the extra weight. Another pleasant surprise was my choice of tires; Shinko 705. Not only were they good on the pavement, they were equally as good on the gravel. They didn't handle the small amount of mud they encountered but I did not expect them to. However once back on gravel, the sipes cleared quickly.

The Author puts the NX through its paces on County Divide Road in Jo Daviess County, Illinois
So, back to the original question; Would the NX make a good 'adventure' bike? I think not. It was certainly fun to blast around northwestern Illinois, especially on gravel, but the fact that it won't cruise long distances makes me think it's better off sticking to (mostly) commuter duty.