Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ural Visits the Airport

My Ural made another trip to the MSP Airport on Monday to drop my wife off for her flight. The weather was nice, so she wanted to ride in the sidecar instead of taking a taxi. I was happy to help!

Ural visits the airport

This is all she needs for a month long trip! (below) The bag and shoes fit in the trunk easily and the suitcase went into the nose of the sidecar. She still had room to sit pretty comfortably with her legs stretched out over the top of the case, but still inside the car (seen above). The luggage rack was empty too. We could have brought more!

Ural visits the airport

The ride to the airport was a bit windy, and full of the usual gawkers on the highway.

Ural visits the airport

The departure lane was very busy compared to last time we were here. This was the only section that wasn’t three cars deep.

Ural visits the airport

The Ural’s tight turning radius and narrow profile made it easy to maneuver around the cars to the curb.

Ural visits the airport

We pulled out her luggage, and stashed her gear back into the sidecar. I didn’t see anyone taking photos of us like last time, but we still got the usual looks. Surprisingly, no one stopped to talk about the Ural for a change (nice!).

Ural visits the airport

We said our goodbyes, and I took advantage of the Ural’s quick turning to escape the blockade of cars.

Ural visits the airport

I scrubbed the Ural some, so it was sorta clean and shiny again before we left. It still had a ton of winter grime on it. It still needs some more scrubbing and some rusty fasteners replaced. Summer tires and and oil change wouldn’t hurt either. :)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

RiderCoach Training: Day 10 – RCPC – Finale

Today was another good day. It was the finale for our MSF RiderCoach Prep Course (RCPC) in Hutchinson, MN. It was also the final day of student teaching the BRC. Finale

RCPC Student Teaching Day 2

The weather cooperated again today with the temps ranging from high 50s to mid 60s and overcast skies. I think the conditions were nearly perfect teaching conditions – not too hot, not too cold, and not wet.

RCPC Student Teaching Day 2

It was amazing again to watch the 11 novices progress throughout the day. I can’t think of another example where you can see someone progress from never riding a motorcycles to passing their skills test in two days.

My highlight on the range was when one novices, who had been rather tentative all day, finally experienced what a good roll on of the throttle feels like in a 135° corner. Her giant smile made my day.

RCPC Student Teaching Day 2

Above: our two very patient RCPC instructors.

RCPC Student Teaching Day 2

Above: getting the cards ready for the under 18 novices, and then stamping permits. Everyone who needed to pass the motorcycle endorsement test did. Very cool.

RCPC Student Teaching Day 2

Above: All of the candidates in my RCPC program (including me).

RCPC Student Teaching Day 2

Above: my MSF Certificate!

Yay! I am officially a #msf ridercoach now!!

Above: some of the goodies from the MMSC for passing the RCPC – a patch, a sticker, another patch, and hat. We also received the hi-viz ANSI2 shirts.

During our graduation ceremony. The instructors had the class vote anonymously on the following:

  1. best classroom coach
  2. best demo rider
  3. Ms. congeniality
  4. Mr. congeniality
  5. leadership

I was surprised that my peers picked me for #2 and #5 – best demo rider and leadership (thanks guys!). I received an extra MSF shirt for the honor. I’ve proud and honored to be part of the cohort of new Rider Coaches in Minnesota. It was a great time and an experience I will remember fondly.

Many hugs, handshakes, and smiles later, we all started parting ways. A number of us commented how this experience was one of the most stressful and difficult thing we’ve done (I agree). One coach commented how this was the most stressful, tough thing she’s done second only to giving birth to her two kids.

My head is still swimming in MSF “stuff”. Thoughts of this weekend were the last thing in my head when I went to sleep and first thing when I woke up. It is amazing to me how the RCPC experience has consumed and muted everything else for May 2011. There is a backlog of chores, cleaning, bike maintenance, emails, regular mail, and phone calls to return. It feels like coming back from a month long trip and trying to re-adjust to “regular” life.

Next steps are to spend a bit more time prepping for teaching an entire course. I hope to mentor a BRC this coming weekend too. Then the following weekend I will be teaching my first BRC with the second (and likely final for 2011) course three weeks after that.

Thanks for following along on my RiderCoach journey! The positive thoughts, comments, and emails helped.


Related Posts:

  • RiderCoach Training: Day 9 – RCPC
  • RiderCoach Training: Day 8 – RCPC
  • RiderCoach Training: Day 7 – RCPC
  • RiderCoach Training: Day 6 - RCPC
  • RiderCoach Training: Day 4 and 5 - RCPC
  • RiderCoach Training: Day 3 – RCPC
  • RiderCoach Training: Day 2 – BRC Completion
  • RiderCoach Training: Day 1 – BRC
  • Saturday, May 28, 2011

    RiderCoach Training: Day 9 – RCPC

    Today was a good day. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been looking forward to this day for many months. Today, we taught real, live novices! I started the morning session in the classroom as taught Unit 1. It went well, but I wasn’t as energetic as I could have been. We divided the material up between the nine remaining candidates and took turns teaching segments.

    We had 15 students in the classroom – eleven full BRC participants and four moped students. The moped students were all 15 and trying to get their moped endorsement while they waited to turn 16 to get their driving license. There was a mix of ages, genders, and riding experience. We even had two students who already had their motorcycle endorsements, but were attending with a friend or spouse.

    RCPC Day 9/10

    The four and half hours of classroom went by quickly, and it was my turn again to finish things up. I went over some relevant Minnesota motorcycle laws such as required equipment, required gear, and the licensing procedure. I turned the review into an open floor review session which really worked great. It turned some pretty dry material (reviewing statute) into something fun and engaging. I administered the knowledge test, and everyone passed pretty easily.

    RCPC Day 9/10

    After a quick break for lunch, it was time to get out on the range. Because of the longer classroom section required for the moped students (one day instead of two), we only finished through exercise 5 of 17. Normally, we’d finish on number 9. Things went well for the two exercises I had on the range.

    RCPC Day 9/10

    I just loved watching the novices learn to ride. It was so great to see them bobbling around in exercise two taking their first shaky steps and riding across the range, and then by exercise five they were actually riding around in second gear negotiating an easy inline weave. I enjoyed watching their faces as they had their “ah-ha” moments when they realized why we stress head/eyes up so much. Tomorrow will be great, as we’ll really hone their basic skills, and give the endorsed riders a real challenge. I’m glad we have such an “experienced” group of novices as our first real class.

    RCPC Day 9/10

    RCPC Day 9/10

    A couple of the other candidates had some surprises as the novices were (are) pretty unpredictable. The novices are also a ton more work than the peer-teaching we had been doing as we all know all the bikes and the paths of travel. The novices are seeing everything fresh. It was a very rewarding day to see all the hard work finally paying off.

    The schedule was much more open today, so I had some chances to finally take photos. All the candidates are in the bright, hi-viz shirts. :)

    RCPC Day 9/10 

    RCPC Day 9/10

    After the class, we all went out to dinner to celebrate a very successful first day of teaching!

    RCPC Day 9/10

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    RiderCoach Training: Day 8 – RCPC

    Another rollercoaster of a day today. With the threat of rain, we started the day on the range to try and make it through as many of the second round of peer teaching exercises as possible.

    Things seemed to start out fine, but went a little sideways on one of the exercises. The two student coaches had to re-run the exercise and it really affected both of them. One nearly quit and walked out. I can only imagine what was going through their head, but I am glad they came around and rejoined the group. We are all pretty stressed out right now. The schedule is very tight and there is a lot of material to cover. It’s pretty much all I have been able to think about for the last two weeks.

    After lunch, the clouds were looming and it looks like the rain predicted was going to appear. During one of the exercises one of the other students low-sided his GZ250 trying to make the S-turn perfect. Luckily he wasn’t hurt; he only had a scuff on his jeans. While I was running an exercise, one of the other coaches had a moment and helped us learn what to do with an errant bike on the range. My co-coach was awesome and jumped into action before I saw it and shut everything down and put him back in line. It feels like a lot of us are on the verge.

    The rain appeared, and most of us put our rain gear. It was a good move as it rained pretty hard for the last exercise and while we were packing up. We finished the skill test exercise in the classroom to avoid the downpour.

    I had hoped we would have taken the MSF RiderCoach written test in the morning, but we waited until the end of the day. Lots of people were stressed out by this test; I wasn’t. I figured we would all pass since we’d made it this far already. We all passed. I was surprised when they announced I aced it.

    My wife drove out and we had a small celebration over dinner with two other candidates. It was nice! For me, the stress level has come down over the last day. I’ve gotten more practice on the range with my exercises. For others, it has gone up as we are teaching real novices tomorrow.

    Things feel a bit surreal as I write this. I’ve been thinking about this day since December, and here we are. I’m first up tomorrow in the classroom.  I’m really excited to finally teach part of the BRC for real! The practical evaluations start tomorrow too, so there are still many chances to fail out of the class. However, the light at the end is getting pretty bright!

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    RiderCoach Training: Day 7 – RCPC

    Day seven of ten is finally over. It was a long day. For me, it started on a low note when I read my email over breakfast. One of the other students dropped out. I was really disappointed to see it.

    We spent the first part of the morning on the range working on our second round of peer-teaching. It was nice to get some more practice, and finally the weather was cooperating – mid 60s and sunny! I was co-coach on two of the exercises back-to-back with two other different lead student coaches.

    It was a lot to do getting the cones ready while the lead coach was reading the cards, and then ride the demo. I rode the first one perfectly. The second demo didn’t go as well. I got the exercise mixed up in my head with another and was shifting when I was just supposed to be riding the perimeter in second gear. Otherwise the rest went smoothly.

    In the later part of the morning, a representative came from the Department of Vehicle Services (DVS) to explain the third-party testing procedures and some of the relevant laws. In Minnesota, we will be trained as third-party examiners. At the conclusion of the BRC, we will be able to give the motorcycle endorsement test and stamp the instruction permits. Then the rider will be able to take the stamped permit and apply for a license. There are lots of little things to protect against forgeries. Lots of chance for mistakes for us too! I’ll be sure to have my manual with me the first few times to avoid making mistakes.

    The DVS rep also gave us an exam to be third-party testers. It was all short answer. We all passed, and the best score was five wrong. A couple of the questions were poorly worded, and all of us got them wrong. I hope they fix the test for the next bunch.

    The afternoon started off covering some administrative procedures – how to fill out different forms and other paperwork, report crashes, report damaged bikes, etc. Another 50 page manual was also handed out, and it was recommended we read it before our first class which is Saturday morning.

    We finished off the afternoon with more range exercises. The other two coaches I am working with and I went to dinner afterwards and quizzed each other for the big MSF RiderCoach test tomorrow morning. The second to last big hurdle.

    After dinner, we went back to the range to practice some more exercises and met up with another classmate doing the same. The four of us worked together for a while and compared notes. It was nice to run the exercises a few times.

    I was away from the hotel for about 12 hours today. I’m exhausted. Time for some sleep.

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    Ameliorated Ural

    Picking up my ural after six weeks of waiting on the final drive repair.

    Four wheels + Wisconsin = three? The ameliorated Ural returns. Monday, both my wife and I took the afternoon off work, and she generously drove me (Thanks!) the 100 miles to Scrambler Cycle (SC) to get my repaired 2009 Ural Patrol. I spent the entire drive studying for my RCPC.

    Back in March, my Ural’s final drive (FD) failed with a large hole in the case: Ural Final Drive Fail. I had it trailered to service to be repaired under the warranty.

    Initially, Ural didn’t have any final drives in stock, and it was on back order waiting for the unit to come from the factory in Russia. After waiting a number of weeks, Kevin had them repair my FD unit instead.

    The lead mechanic at Ural completed the repair himself and built it to the 2011 FD spec which fixes the condition that caused the failure in the first place. There is a service bulletin about the failure on models 2007-2010, but no recall. Sad.

    Apparently, some bolts, even with retainers, managed to back themselves loose and fall off.

    Failed ural fd

    This causes massive damage inside the FD unit destroying everything including the bearings and housing.

    Failed ural final drive

    Here is a photo of another stricken Ural (2007 Patrol) at Kevin’s shop while I was picking up mine. The photos above are its failed FD.

    2007 ural patrol at scrambler cycle with a fd fail

    He was replacing the rear wheel and noticed a small hole in the FD case. Mine probably started like that and quickly ripped apart. (see above pics)

    Failed ural final drive. Notice the hole in the case. Similar to my fd fail

    This Ural (2004 Tourist) was also at Scrambler Cycle. Kevin replaced the alternator with the upgraded model (same I have) and cleaned the carbs. It’d been sitting for the last few years. The rig only has 2400km since 2004! Original owner too. I wish mine was so clean.

    2004 ural tourist at scrambler cycle

    Ural has some good language in their warranty:

    “In cases when warranty repair takes longer than 14 days, the warranty time period (see Warranty Time Period) is extended for the time period of repair, during which the motorcycle could not been ridden due to failures.”

    In my case, it was an additional six weeks added to the warranty. A nice touch that sort of makes up for their utter incompetence with inventory tracking and parts shipping.

    IMZ Ural had no idea who they had sold FDs to in the USA or where they might be, and they couldn’t give a straight answer if the FDs were on the boat from Russia or not. No date on when they might arrive either. This parts “issue” is my biggest gripe with owning a Ural.

    I also bought some consumables (oil filters, spark plugs) while I was at SC in addition to adding an extra year of warranty. I am covered now until January 2013. I am still waiting for a new rear brake switch (failed again) and the left mirror that died (again!). I should get those when I see Kevin again at the SKUNK rally in two weeks.

    It was a bit strange to be on three wheels again, but very familiar. It’s good to have the beast back. Next up will be to address the minor rust that formed from this past winter, change the tires and the oil, and remove the fairing.

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    RiderCoach Training: Day 6 - RCPC

    Sunday was day six of ten for the MSF RiderCoach Prep Course (RCPC). We spent almost the entire day outside working on range exercises and finally finished our first round of peer-teaching.

    It rained most the day again, but I was comfortable in my rain suit. In the afternoon, the sun came out between rain showers which made the suit a bit hot. It was pretty easy to take on and off. There were tornados in the area, but we didn’t see any.

    We finished Sunday with a mid-course review/evaluation. My instructors are happy with my performance and progress. I am too. I still need to work on the range transitions and cone layouts, but that will come with more practice.

    Most of us were pretty exhausted on Sunday. The schedule is a bit frantic as there is a lot of material to cover between the MSF curriculum and Minnesota statute. Many of the other students were following a similar schedule to mine:

    • wake up
    • get to class around 7:30ish
    • class until 5-6pm
    • dinner with other students
    • back to the hotel to study and do homework until late
    • sleep
    • repeat

    The ride home was fantastic. I think it was mid 60s and clear skies with dark clouds on the horizon (no rain on me!). Sunset at the back and a giant double rainbow in the direction I was riding. The lilacs smelled so sweet. It was so great to get on the bike and just ride after such a busy weekend.

    While it has been a ton of work, I have been enjoying almost all of it. I head back to to Hutchinson tomorrow for the last weekend of the RCPC. My plan is to leave after work and head straight there like I did last weekend. One of the instructors mentioned they may repaint part of the range Wednesday evening, and I’d like to be there to help (and learn).

    The regular RCPC resumes again Thursday morning at 8am!


    PS: Sorry for the late post. After I got home on Sunday, it was chores (mowing, laundry, etc). Gonna need a vacation after this class is over!

    PPS: I also apologize to my blogging friends as I have been too busy to read your posts. I look forward to reading about all of your adventures after this weekend when I get back to a somewhat normal schedule. :)

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    RiderCoach Training: Day 4 and 5 - RCPC

    Day four of the RCPC was a lot of material again as it was on Day 3. It was also our first chance to peer-teach. Peer-teaching is using the other coaches and students. It’s a great way to get practice with the difference exercises and units since the coaches know what is supposed to happen and can provide feedback on areas you missed.

    The two instructors are also doing a good job keeping us in line and are quite patient with all our questions and mistakes. I didn’t write an update last night as I was working on homework. Our homework is a peer-teaching assignment. I’ve been breaking the recommended action steps down for each assignment into little pieces – noting diagrams in the book, and making little talking point notes.

    The range assignments are a little more complicated as the demo ride needs to be prepared for, cones placed, starting the exercise, reversing (if needed), and then ending or staging the exercise. These are the pieces that I find are the biggest challenge for me right now. Of course, all of this while staying on a tight schedule. It is a pretty rapid fire pace, and at least one of the coaches is always doing something. While one is giving instructions, the other is placing cones and getting ready to ride the demo.

    It will be interesting to try and control a range of twelve moving motorcycles piloted by new riders. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

    Day five was more peer-teaching. I finally was able to give my first in-class unit. I think it went pretty well. I had rehearsed a bit last night, and had an extra handout about helmets which wasn’t part of the MSF material, but I thought it helped drive the point home on using a full face helmet over a half helmet. A few of the other coaches liked the handout so much, they kept a copy for themselves. You can check it out here: helmet crash handout.

    After lunch today, we started on the range exercises again. The weather conspired against us as it has been the last few days. We will still teach/learn in the rain, but when lightning, hail, or so much rain as to make the cones float away. We call it. The cones started to move around because it was raining so hard, and we retreated inside. My one-piece tourmaster rain gear kept me dry. My gloves were soaked, but I have a spare pair. The others got pretty wet.

    We ended the day listening to hail, strong winds, and heavy rain. The ride from the college back to the hotel was interesting too. Normally, I’d exit the parking lot to the right and take the back way. As I pulled up to my turn, I watched a red station wagon pushing a large bow-wave of water in front of it. It appeared the water was above the bottom of the doors. I decided against that road as my SV isn’t a very good boat.

    Just as I was turning left, I saw a large, rotund man in shorts, white tank top, and flip flops. He yelled at me asking if I was insane. I replied back if he was the insane one being out in the rain without gear.

    Many of the roads were flooded out on the way back to the hotel. The main road, Hwy 7, was flooded along the sides, so I rode close to the double yellow. The edges looked to be six inches deep which I was able to confirm as I pulled into the hotel lot. The water splashed up to my knees.

    Here is the photo from two days ago:

    View from Hotel in Hutchinson, MN

    Here it is now after an hour of that storm:

    Lots of rain in hutchinson. Some flooding and light hail.

    The sky is starting to clear up again as I write this, and I can see some glimpses of blue sky. Time to go find some dinner and then more homework.


    Related Posts:

  • RiderCoach Training: Day 3 – RCPC
  • RiderCoach Training: Day 2 – BRC Completion
  • RiderCoach Training: Day 1 – BRC
  • Thursday, May 19, 2011

    RiderCoach Training: Day 3 – RCPC

    I’m back in Hutchinson, MN for more RiderCoach training. Here’s a picture from my window. Much nicer than last weekend, I only had a parking lot to look at. The farm buildings appear to be abandoned. The weather is mostly cooperating so far; it looks like it might rain for most of the weekend.

    View from Hotel in Hutchinson, MN

    We finished the first day of the RiderCoach Prep Course (RCPC) today which was day three of the ten days of RiderCoach training. I’m enjoying the experience. The other students are a fun, eclectic bunch.

    We have one different coach this week, Pete has swapped places with Jay to join Steve. Pete, like Steve, is also excellent. His enthusiasm for motorcycling and coaching was readily apparent. He also told an interesting story of riding to Hyder, AK “just for lunch”. Two and half days there, lunch, and then return. Cool.

    We spent most of of the day familiarizing ourselves with the different classroom and range lessons and the objectives laying the basic foundation for us to learn how to facilitate the learning and manage the material/class. We also spent time on the rules of conduct. We covered a LOT of material. I rarely take notes, but I had a full sheet by the end. The day went very fast for me. We took breaks every hour, and it still flew by.

    Minnesota is a bit different than other MSF states as we usually have the classroom section in one chunk on a week night and then the range on a half day both Saturday and Sunday. This allows for running two classes (AM/PM) on the same range over the weekend getting more students on the bikes. The normal MSF is a Sat/Sun with classroom and range on both days.

    Going through the BRC twice now as a student, it was just smooth and seamless -- non-stop learning. Seeing it from the coach perspective is eye-opening. There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes. I see time-management as a potential issue for me. There is a lot of material to cover and the schedule doesn’t have a lot of extra time for deviation – especially in the classroom.

    Tomorrow will be interesting as we begin peer teaching – we each run a section of the curriculum with the other RiderCoach Candidates (RCCs) as the students. This will be our first taste using the material. It should be fun. Time to go study up on my lesson plan for tomorrow!

    Related Posts:

  • RiderCoach Training: Day 2 – BRC Completion
  • RiderCoach Training: Day 1 – BRC
  • Sunday, May 15, 2011

    RiderCoach Training: Day 2 – BRC Completion

    Today was the second day of my ten days of Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) RiderCoach training. The training is taking place in Hutchinson, MN

    Yesterday was the first day of the RiderCoach Candidate (RCC) Basic Rider Course (BRC). The weather today was much nicer than yesterday. It started off cool and with gorgeously clear blue skies. There was a bit of a wind (15-25mph) too. It was a great day to be outside riding a motorcycle.

    We started the day in the classroom again finishing the written material. The second half of the material focused on developing a mental and visual strategy to deal with the risks of riding. We finished up with a “Celebration of Knowledge” as one of our coaches put it. The rest of you may know this as a test. Since we are RCCs, we have to pass the test at a higher level than normal students. Each of us needed at least 40/50 to pass. Everyone passed, and five of the ten earned a 50/50, including me. All that studying paid off!

    Then we went out on the range to work on the final eight range exercises with the motorcycles. It was nice to be outside without raingear! Most of the later exercises were focused on cornering and stopping. Which makes sense considering most motorcycle crashes happen in a corner with second place going to a car violating your right of way. We worked on swerving too.

    My favorites today were the swerving and the figure eights. The swerving is making two quick turns by moving the motorcycle independent of your body. Fun stuff!

    The figure eight is one of the skills on the Motorcycle endorsement test. It’s basically two u-turns back to back. I enjoy doing these and have practiced a lot. When I took my endorsement test, this was the hardest for me and nearly made me fail the test. I had fun seeing how tight I could make my turns. The tightest I was to do was about half of the full box. The keys to my success were turning my head to look where I want to go, weighting the outside peg, and steady throttle in second gear. Sliding off the seat a bit helps too. Fun stuff!

    At the end of the day, it was time for the “Affirmation of Skill” also known as the riding test. Again, as RCCs, we have to pass the test at a higher level. Each mistake earns points. We were only allowed 11 points where a regular participant could earn 21 and still pass.

    When I took my original test for my motorcycle endorsement, I barely passed. I think my score was 20. I’ve improved since then, and practice my skills regularly. All of the RCCs passed! Cheers all around as we received the news along with many sighs of relief.

    According to our instructors, it was the first time in a while the entire RCC class passed the skills test on the first try. Four of the ten of us even had a perfect score, myself included. My practice paid off!

    Thursday, we return to Hutchinson and begin the meat of the course – learning to coach the BRC and coaching the BRC. Lots of work ahead, and I’m excited!!

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    RiderCoach Training: Day 1 – BRC

    Today was the first day of my ten days of Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) RiderCoach training. The training is taking place in Hutchinson, MN which is about 75 miles or an hour and 45 minutes from my house, so I’m staying in a hotel. It’s my first time in Hutchinson. It seems alright so far.

    The training starts by taking the Basic Rider Course (BRC) over two days with classroom in the morning and then range work on the motorcycle afterwards. the idea is to see how a BRC is run, and to get some recent experience as a participant. The following two weekends will be learning how to coach/teach the material.

    Our coaches today were Jay and Steve. Both of them are very experienced and have been RiderCoaches for more than ten years. One of the first things I liked is that they broke us into three small groups, each seated at groups of tables. Each of the tables had small 1:12 miniature motorcycles models on the table. Very cool. My table had an FJR (Yamaha), the other tables had an Aprilia and a Ninja. Jay also had a little dirtbike in the back which came in handy when talking about the different kinds of bikes. I’m going to copy him. It is a great excuse to buy some toys!

    Late in the morning, we went out onto the range for the on bike exercises. The weather wasn’t cooperating and was spitting a fine mist at 45F. Over the course of the day, the misting turning into actual rain. It didn’t warm up either. All of the other participants being experienced riders, had rain gear. We all looked like bananas especially me in my yellow one-piece rain suit! Tomorrow should be warmer and hopefully sunnier.

    There were a few different bikes to choose from: Suzuki GZ250, Suzuki TU250X, Suzuki DR200, and a Yamaha TW200. I picked the TW200 as I’ve always wanted to ride one of those and all of the TU250Xs were taken. I think I took my BRC on a DR200. The TW200 is a fun little bike. I wanted to ride it into the dirt at the end of the parking lot, but that wasn’t allowed.

    I was surprised how much I improved over the course of the day. We ran through the first nine of the seventeen BRC range exercises. My favorite parts were the slow speed maneuvers – the swerving, the pause and goes, and the clutch control zones.

    The swerving exercises were going through various offset weaves and inline weaves of cones. I found the trick for me was to pick a good speed and then maintain it as I was going through. It was also helpful to start the turn for the next cone as soon as I arrived at a cone. It was fun.

    The pause and goes were a set of cones where you’re supposed to slow, check for traffic, but not stop. No putting a foot down either. I took it as a chance to practice something I like doing on the road which is to come to a complete stop with my feet on the pegs and sit there for a count of at least two. Two things which makes this easier are to relax and to balance the clutch/throttle. Clutch full in, and you’ll have to put a foot down. Same with the throttle closed. It’s fun! You should try it!

    The clutch control zones were a pair of parallel lines and the object was to go as slow as possible while only using the clutch and throttle. I found it best to stop at the beginning and then crawl through modulating the clutch and throttle in the friction zone. No cheating by coasting either with the clutch pulled in or the clutch all the way out. I was surprised how slow I was able to go by the end of the day. I think I could go slower if I dragged the rear brake slightly.

    Despite the pouring rain, I had a lot of fun and learned a lot. The other future RiderCoaches all seem like great people too. I’m looking forward to working with them more. Jay and Steve were also great. I hope I will be half as good as them. There is the other half of the BRC tomorrow and then we’ll be back Thursday for the beginning of the RiderCoach Prep Course (RCPC).

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    Replacing the fork seals or dust seals on an R1150 is pretty easy, and should only take 10-15 minutes. This is how I did it on my 2001 BMW R1150GS without removing the front wheel or forks from the motorcycle.

    Tools I used:

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    The new dust seals on the left and the oil seals on the right. I paid about $15 for each seal on bikebandit.com.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    This is the order of all the parts in the fork tube on the bottom, left to right: washer, oil seal, retaining clip, dust seal, *not shown fork nut 14mm*, fork cap

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    1) put the bike on the center stand to make the front wheel easy to move around.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    2) Remove the re-usable ziptie holding the brake or clutch cable depending on which side.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    Press the tab back towards it to pull it apart.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    3) Remove the cap on the top of the fork with the flat blade screwdriver by inserting it into the slot

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    4) Using the 14mm socket and 22mm wrench, remove the nut on the top of the fork tube. I used a 7/8” as shown below.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    5) Push the fork slider into the stanchion and then pull it out. The front wheel will freely move side to side to make this very easy.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    Have a rag handy as the slider will likely drip fork oil as you pull it out. Wipe it clean, and set it aside in a safe place where it won’t be scratched.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    6) Use the flat blade screwdriver again and remove the dust seal on the top of the stanchion.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    Both of mine were split and cracked (and leaking). I’d recommend replacing them along with the oil seals.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    8) With the needle nose pliers, pull out the retaining clip

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    9) With the seal puller, remove the oil seal.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    If you don’t have a seal puller, get one. It makes this part take five seconds (literally) with no damage to the fork tube versus trying to lever (and bend) with a screwdriver or something else. I bent two different screwdrivers, but didn't get the seal out. I've also read you could screw wood-screws into the bad seal and pull it out with a pliers. The seal puller did the job for me.

    the leaky oil seal aka fork seal

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    position under the fork seal

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    pull up slightly and it will pop right out

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    remove the seal

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    the damage to mine is clear here:

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    new fork seal aka oil seal below:

    this is the top view:

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    this is the bottom view:

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    10) seat the new seal with a socket. A little fork oil on the seal makes it easy to start by hand. Make sure to insert it with the bottom side down.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    Get a socket that is the same diameter as the outside of the oil seal, and that fits inside of the tube. You want to push on the hard outside, not the soft inside of the seal. I used a 3/4” to 1” impact adapter I found at harbor freight. A 34mm or 1 3/8” socket might also work.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    Put an extension on it and pound it home.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    11) reinstall the retaining clip

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    12) install the new dust seal by pressing it into place

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    13) use the 3mm allen wrench and remove the little bleed screw near top of the fork slider

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    be careful not to lose or damage the tiny o-ring

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    14) push the slider all the way into the fork tube and then pull it back up to the top yolk in its final position. Air should rush out the bleed hole. I repeated this twice.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    15) replace the bleed screw and hand tighten until snug. This is a small screw, so be careful not to over tighten.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    16) Replace the nut. Using the 14mm socket and 22mm wrench tighten. If using a torque wrench, tighten to 45Nm.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    17) Replace the top cap and re-usable ziptie.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement

    18) Repeat on the other side.

    19) Go for a ride!


    If you want to also replace the fork oil, use BMW fork oil grade 7.5 and put 15.8 oz. of fluid in each fork.

    R1150GS Fork Seal and Dust Seal Replacement


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