Monday, March 21, 2011

First Day of Spring

Today, is the first day of spring. This last week has been full of “firsts”. A week ago I rode the SV650 to work instead of the Ural for the first time in 2011. I’ve ridden it every day since, but it looks like snow tomorrow, so it’ll be in the garage for a few days. Back to the Ural.

On Friday, I received my first motorcycle wave in return. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the first bike I’ve seen this year. It also rained on Sunday for the first time. It washed a fair amount of the salt away, but there is still plenty of sand to catch out the unwary.

Today, was the first time I put gas in my R1150GS in 2011, and the first time I’ve started it up this year. I’ve been working on it for several weeks getting it ready for riding season.

I was excited to finally be able to start it today. I had drained the tank when I removed it, so the fuel gauge showed empty. I put a little gas in, turned the key, and pressed the starter. Nothing. The display showed an “E” next to the fuel. I guess it needs more gas. I rode the Ural to the gas station and got a couple gallons. The sidecar makes it an easy task to haul stuff.

Back home, I added two gallons, turned the key, pressed the starter, and nothing. My thoughts started racing. What did I do wrong? Did I forget something when I put it back together? I turned it all off and tried again. Nothing. I checked the battery since I’d been playing around with the electrics. It still had a good charge. I tried everything again, and still nothing.

Oh yea, I had put it into a higher gear when was doing the valves, so I bumped the gears back down from sixth to neutral. Ah, yes, I have a gear indicator on this bike. I only rode it for a week, and I don’t have the owners manual. The display now shows “0” and the green neutral light is on. I guess “E” is sixth. The time is off now too from my battery antics. Hopefully google can sort that out for me. I felt very silly once I realized my mistake.

I turned the key and thumbed the starter. The bike choked and died. Oh right, the choke/advance needs to be cranked open. I did that and the bike roared to life. After letting it warm up for a bit, I took it for a very short ride to celebrate. We did some figure eights in a parking lot, and tested the ABS.

I’ve done a lot on the bike this winter. I installed LED aux lights, replaced nearly all of the auxiliary wiring, installed a fuse block, replaced the spark plugs, alternator belt, air filter, fuel filter, adjusted the valves, replaced some plastics, added a rear rack for my top case, and fixed the throttle grip. I still need to sync the throttle bodies (idling a bit rough), install the engine guards, install hyper-lites, and order a better windscreen. The stock screen makes way too much noise, so I took it off. I’m excited it’s running again. I have some big plans for it this year.

Below is a photo of one of the St. Paul snow dumps. It covers the entire parking lot of midway stadium, home of the St. Paul Saints. All that brown stuff in the background is snow. The little round mound, is also all snow. It is quite impressive.

Massive snow pile at St. Paul Saints Stadium

It was nice to ride three bikes back to back. I think the SV may have some competition from the GS even if they are completely different. The downside of riding three bikes back to back, is it highlighted the Ural’s faults and made it seem more like a Russian lawn tractor than usual with it’s vague brakes and wimpy throttle.

More snow and rain the rest of the week. Spring in Minnesota!


  1. Glad the GS started. That must of been frustrating. At least, it wasn't the kill switch.

    About the snow dump. I hear that dirty snow melts faster than clean snow. If true, looks like the dump should melt real quick.

    Here's to April!

  2. I guess you are still alive.

    Did I hear that right? Were you bad mouthing the Ural? It got you around all winter and that's how you talk about it?

  3. There must be quite a bit dirt and sand on the roads. In Calgary spring time wasn't fun, since they put gravel on the white stuff which makes for a slippery ride even when the snow is gone. Ride safe! (I know you do, but it can't hurt to say it.)

  4. Chris:

    so many firsts, and what a nice Fleet you have. I would have a hard time deciding which one to ride. Our insurance up here would be too expensive for more than a couple of bikes. Everytime I see your SV I wonder why I just didn't keep mine . . . for a spare

    Spring will be here soon enough. I am sure it was nice to be able to lean into and out of a corner once in a while (instead of the Ural).

    Riding the Wet Coast

  5. Well it was a heck of a winter Chris! I enjoyed your videos and adventures. Can't wait to hear the big news! Now get that snow melted! My friend sent me a photo from northern NY of a snowman that had car tires for it's buttons and a street cone for a nose...and I believe a black pond liner for a hat! hahahaha! We had plenty enough snow for me here in Alabama!

  6. Keith: yes, I still feel quite silly about why it didn't start. It's pouring rain right now. I hope the temps hold in the mid 30s, so it doesn't goto snow!

    Kevin: Yup, still alive.

    SonjaM: There is a lot of sand/dirt in the corners and in the middle of the road. It's pretty easy to avoid. Thanks, I will do my best. Ride safe to you too!

    Bob: Thanks. The fleet is nice. It's actually cheaper for me to insure the five bikes for a year than it was for six months of the WRX, even with double the maximums.

    There are lots out there. It'd be simple to get another one. >:)

    It has been nice being able to lean and move around in the lane. The Ural is fun, but the SV is still my favorite.

    Eve: Thanks! I've been drooling on your GREEN pictures of spring in AL with all the flowers. Very nice! The snowman photo sounds very cool! I wonder how long it took to make.

  7. Chris, you are oh so right about riding multiple motorcycles ( I refuse to call them bikes )leading to one noticing all of a Ural's faults and tractor-like behavior....and yet, for now, there's not much out there that can do what it does eh?

    I wonder if the Ural's days will finally be numbered once I hack the V-Strom.


    Redleg's Rides

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

  8. Dom: Yup, riding a Ural and then any other modern motorcycle will show the Ural's faults pretty clearly. For what it can do, the Ural is the best bargain for the money. 2wd with good off-road manners is a hard package to beat.

    I think the v-strom would make a great tug.

    I see you understand why I like the v-twin in my SV so much now :)