Monday, March 26, 2012

So Long

The NX125 went to its new home, in Wisconsin, on Saturday. The new owner and his son were a pleasure to meet and to deal with. I wish them lots of fun, enjoyable miles on the NX. Hopefully, they will find it as entertaining as I have. Ride Safely Guys!

Below is a Comment from an anonymous reader (Given). I'm removing it from the Comments section because he provided his email address in the text. I can't modify comments and I don't want web crawlers to pick up his email address (he'll be spammed to death):

Hello my name is Given and I live in central Ohio. I stumbled upon your site here and have read damned near all of it, I too ride an nx 125 and am glad you had a good experience with it. I completely agree with keeping it in a sub urban environment dual sport or not the nx was always geared to be a road bike, I'm sad to hear you never road it with the tighter sprocket ratios it makes a huge difference in top end power. I learned a lot from this site and I am always looking for more actual rider information and unique experiences such as your own. I have to say I truly admire you making a site designated as a very detailed first hand account on riding a nx-125 as a daily rider as I have done the same for the past two years. That motorcycle has done me great the entire way it is an extremely reliable and resilient machine. anyway keep up the great work and keep riding safely. btw i think the vtr commuter blog would be great, I am interested in the same kind of mid range sport bikes and am currently searching for a bike similar if not the same.

 Thanks for the kind words Given. I'm intrigued by your comments regarding the tighter gear ratios. I hadn't really considered that. I figured tighter gear ratios would mean I would "run out of steam" sooner and have a slower top speed. Unfortunately, it's a little late now.

I will be picking up the VTR very early tomorrow morning, in central Indiana. You can find a link to the Commuter VTR blog in the navigation bar, at the right, under the "My Favorite Sites" heading. I would hope to be able to provide the same insight, with respect to bike care, maintenance and riding as I have done here. I'm also hoping that NXChip will continue to provide content (or any other reader that has something to add). I have nothing against small displacement bikes. It just seems that the 250cc motor (either in single or dual cylinder form) is so versatile that it lends itself to almost be a perfect fit in an urban environment. We shall see!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Olympia Bushwacker - Cleaning

I've owned an Olympia Bushwacker jacket for just over a year now. It's hi-viz and I've been pretty impressed by its versatility. One thing I haven't been impressed with is its ability to attract and show dirt. I'm currently using a Seal-Line messenger bag to haul a few things to work and back. The sling conveniently grinds dirt into the shoulder and chest areas with which it comes into contact. Additionally, the hem, cuffs and elbows tend to get dirty as well. I use Nikwax Tech Wash to keep the jacket somewhat water repellant (the liner is what's waterproof). However, that does not do a very good job when it comes to removing dirt. So, this time around, I chose to try SHOUT stain remover on the dirtiest areas. It did a really nice job. I sprayed it on just before throwing the jacket into the washer (manufacturer's recommendations indicate the jacket should be hand washed or use the "hand wash" agitation setting on your washing machine). I add the Tech Wash to the water and then use the 'normal' agitation setting so that the water and detergent are well mixed. Then, I switch to the hand wash setting and put the jacket in the washer. There does not appear to be any fading and the majority of the dirt is gone. The next time I wash the jacket, I'll probably try using a soft bristle brush (like an old toothbrush) on the dirtiest areas. This should keep my Bushwacker in its brightest hi-viz condition for a few years, I would hope.

Sights on the Ride Home

Like the rest of the country, Chicago has been enjoying some seriously warm weather. If feels more like the middle of June than the middle of March. Needless to say, a lot of motorcycles have emerged from winter storage with a vengeance. On the way home last week, I encountered a sport bike rider and his girlfriend. She was dressed similarly to this:

Her pants were so tight (and rather transparent), it was easy to determine that she was riding "commando", if you get my drift. Also, she had a gigantic wad of bright blond hair. I do mean "wad". We were riding 45 mph and the wind was blowing into our faces at around 15 mph. Long, curly hair isn't going to remain in a untangled state, for very long, in those windy conditions. Lastly, she had on so much perfume, I could smell it as I rode 20 yards behind them at 45 mph. I wonder what type of effect she had on people when she entered a room. I'm guessing they were all unconscious, from lack of air, within 30 seconds. I will give the boyfriend props though. He never once rode in a manner that would put him or his g/f in any type of danger. He rode within the speed limit, flowed with traffic, used common sense and used his turn signals. Even though neither one of them had a stitch of protective clothing on, he was a credit to riders with respect to his road manners. I can still smell that perfume though.......

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Eyes in the Back of your Head

This morning's commute reminded me why it's important to constantly scan for dangers. I was taught the S.E.E acronym in my Motorcycle Safety Class; Scan, Evaluate, Execute. In other words, constantly be on the lookout for dangers or threats (to you or the bike or both), evaluate said dangers/threats and execute a (non)maneuver to keep you safe. Too many times, it seems, a motorcyclist is taken out by a threat from behind (it happened to my brother-in-law last year - his bike was totaled by some idiot). You're most vulnerable because you only have two (normally)  small mirrors with which to view things behind you. Don't forget to properly adjust those mirrors and to scan them as well. Fortunately I was paying attention, this morning, while the driver of an SUV, behind me, was not.

I was stopped at a traffic light of a major intersection (two lanes in each direction with a center [left] turn lane). I was in the right lane, third in line. There were more vehicles, behind me, than I could see or count. When the left turn arrow changed to yellow, several cars started moving forward in anticipation of the green light. However, the left turn lane on the opposite side of the light must have had more vehicles in it and stayed green longer. This meant that the red light, on my side of the intersection, stayed red. I glanced in my rear view mirrors, as vehicles started to move, to see the SUV behind me about to hit me. I rolled forward a few feet and spun my head around to look at the driver. That must of gotten their attention because they stopped abruptly, not more than a few inches from my rear wheel. When the light did turn to green, the SUV hung way back which, to me, admitted guilt in being distracted. Eventually, other vehicles filled in the lane behind me. A few miles later, I saw the SUV turn off, to the right, onto a side street. I have compiled a mental list of "idiot drivers/vehicles" and see them all, on occasion. Naturally, I give all of them a wide berth. Don't forget to observe things that happen behind you. Be Safe out there.

NOTE: I was wearing my Hi-Viz jacket. Don't assume that just because you have eye-searing colors on that someone is going to see you. Every vehicle is a potential threat, threat them that way.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Oil Works

by NXChip
I ran to the auto shop and grabbed some 10W-40. The big nut to release the oil was a pain to get loose. I took it down to the local motorcycle shop and they loosened it up until I could get home and release it fully. The oil release nut:

I already knew the oil was going to be black as night as even the repair shop has some trouble getting it loosened. I got home and WOW. I do not think I have seen anything darker than that oil. This baby has been needing it for awhile. Put in the fresh oil and some carb cleaner in the fuel tank for added measure.
The dipstick and the used oil:

After turning the bike on, I immediately noticed a better idle and more responsive acceleration. Sweet. I think my next project is going to be these brake pads/cables, They are not as strong as i want them to be and it seems like I have to use both brakes to stop at low speeds.

Editor's Notes: I believe the oil drain plug hex is 18mm or 19mm. It should not be on so tight that it requires a 1/2" drive ratchet or breaker bar to remove. The plug seals via an o-ring (not by being on super tight). Check the torque spec in the shop manual (see the Resources page) you don't want to strip the hex and have to buy a new drain plug. Also, I find that removing the gear shift lever and skid plate (engine guard) make this job much easier. Additionally, there is no filter, just a screen that's right behind the drain plug. Make sure the screen is clean before replacing it and the plug.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hard Firsts

by NXChip

I picked up my 1989 NX125 early in February from a couple who was selling it on behalf of their elderly parents. The previous owner was an old man who has had this bike since it first rolled off the assembly line. He used it primarily as a trail bike and modified pieces of the bike: removed the front fairing, turn lights, and added a footrest near the front of the bike for his granddaughter to ride along with him. He could no longer ride it because of old age and the couple sold it to me for a mutually beneficial price.

It had been sitting for what appeared to be ages. After cleaning out the carb, replacing the spark plug, just the battery was left. I put the wires backwards on the battery and popped the fuse....why me? lol. [Ed: I've done this as well, in an effort to jump start the bike. I attached the jumper cables backwards and ZAP, goodbye fuse] At this point I was frustrated at the work I was doing and not seeing a bit of success, who else knows what this bike had wrong with it. I ran into NXDave’s blog and got to work on it after finding the resources page, where the shop manuals are.

After a short trip to wally world, I put in the 20A fuse into the battery relay, connected the battery, and the bike came alive! I put the choke on, and cracked the bike. It struggled but the starter turned over and stayed on, YES! I took it out for a spin to see what it can do. Top speed I got on it was about 52, [Ed: I've had mine up to 65 but I think that's max.] and it took a while to get there (I hate problems, but at least the bike runs now). I was expecting a little faster acceleration and a bit more at the top speed [Ed: this is the reason that I needed a few more CCs for my new commute]. I examined the engine oil and it was dark as night. I am currently on my way to changing to the oil and make some more adjustments to get this bike in peak shape. For right now it starts and runs well, I can keep up with any car on the streets here in Arkansas and get a nice MPG to boot.

Hello: NXChip

In an effort to continue the flow of information, allow me to introduce NXChip. He has kindly agree to provide additional content. I still have my NX but what with it being for sale, I don't think it'll be seeing any more miles under my butt. NXChip, take it away!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Not going anywhere

I already had one reader post that he got a lot of information and inspiration from this blog. Rest assured that it will not be removed or deleted. Even if I stop posting here entirely, I will leave it up so some of you can benefit. If there's way to allow others to gain access, without endangering my Google account, I'd be happy to allow guest posting. However, if that's not possible, I'd accept emails with content and post it here. Of course, I'll give appropriate credit to anyone interested in that arrangement. Feel free to let me know your thoughts in the Comments. Thanks.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A tough decision but one that needed to be made...

It is with mixed feelings that I'm moving on to another commuter bike. I've owned the NX for just over a year and it was an absolute blast to ride (almost) every week day, when the weather cooperated. However, my commute is going to change as my company's office will move. The lease is up on this office space after the first week of May, 2012. The new location will be on the perimeter of O'Hare Airport in the town of Des Plaines, Illinois. I'm sure you're aware that traffic around a major airport, like O'Hare, is heavy and moves pretty quickly. I expect the average speed, of my commute, to increase 5-10 mph. While that doesn't seem like a lot, it will put a bit of strain on the NX and increase my anxiety level. I would really prefer not to get run over by someone who's late for their flight. What's needed is something that is capable of quick acceleration, cruising at speeds up to 60 mph and averaging 70+ mpg. Unfortunately, the NX is not (fully) capable of the first two items on that list.

I was really hoping to find a 200-250cc dual sport (DR200, XR250L, XL250, XT225, DR250SE, TW200, etc.) but they aren't really popular in this area of Illinois. And, when they do come up for sale, they sell very quickly. Either that or they're beaten to death and the owner thinks they're worth a mint. So, I broadened my search to include bikes that were in the same displacement range but were street oriented. Honda's CB250 Nighthawk and CMX250C Rebel were options as were the Suzuki GZ250 Marauder and Yamaha 250 Virago. However, those bikes are not really my riding style (cruiser) and aren't about the "point & shoot" type of riding for which I will need to be prepared. That narrows it down to a couple of bikes with a sport bike appearance but are really more "standard" bikes than anything, The Honda VTR250 Interceptor and the Kawasaki 250 Ninja. The ubiquitous "Ninjette" is very popular and holds its value very, very well. Additionally, there seems to be a lot of available parts and after-market support. They either sell very quickly or the owner thinks they're worth more than they really are. The VTR is more rare (similar to the NX series, sold in the US only for three years, 1988-90), has a V-Twin and comes in some crazy 80s inspired paint schemes. I've seen them referred to as "Barbie-ceptors" thanks to the pastel color palette. The 1988-89 models come with a unique in-board front rotor that's actually part of the front wheel's hub. This must have freaked out some potential buyers because it was switched to a more conventional, external rotor in 1990. I have never owned a Kawasaki, all my bikes have been Hondas or Suzukis. However, that's not a choice, it just seems to be the way things have worked out. After giving it a lot of thought, I decided to stay in my comfort zone and have negotiated the purchase of a 1989 Honda VTR250 Interceptor. One of the previous owners decided the 80s paint scheme was too much. He repainted it and did a really nice job, if you ask me:

So, I'm looking forward to my new "road rocket" but am slightly sad to see the NX go (I can't afford to keep both). I'm hoping to sell it to someone that is interested in teaching their teenager or wife/girlfriend how to ride (not trying to be sexist here but it seems that guys "beginner" bikes are 250+cc) or want a neat commuter on tame roads.

It makes no sense to keep this blog and write about the VTR, it is CommuterNX after all. So, maybe I'll create a new blog (CommuterVTR anyone?) and go from there. A big thanks to all of you who have visited (I review the statistics Google provides =D ) and commented. I appreciate your interest and hope I can contribute some knowledge to the VTR250 riders out there. Be Safe - Dave.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sorry for the Delay

Hi All, I apologize for being away for so long. As you know, winter is (supposedly) here in Chicago. It has actually been pretty mild and I could be riding. But, I winterized the NX and am not super-keen on riding when there has been salt applied to the streets. The weather continues to "roller coaster" between 'real' winter and late Autumn/early Spring. I did get the NX out of the garage last weekend. It was warm enough and dry enough to start it and ride around the neighborhood. The NX seems to like a shot of starting fluid after sitting for a while (a couple of weeks, at least). I did stabilize the fuel with Sea Foam. It seems to be working well as the carburetor is not gummed up in any way (so far).

On a sad note, my mother-in-law passed away a few weeks ago and I've been helping my wife and brother-in-law deal with that. To be fair, my mother-in-law was terminally ill but it seemed as if she would live until the Summer. Her passing was not unexpected but still a shock.

I came across another version of the NX that's available in South America; the NX400 Falcon. I've posted a picture of it in the Honda NX Series - Non-US post.

I have not yet had an opportunity to get the forks rebuilt. I still plan to do this, at some point, but it may have to wait a while. My DR650SE is in pieces right now and I'd like to get that back together before tackling anything new.

Lastly, I'm off to snowboard in Colorado next week. So, another week of inactivity, with respect to the bikes...