A brew, a battery and a bimble in the boonies.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid & Mike 081Heart pounding fit to burst with sweat dribbling off my chin, I got to wondering quite how I got here. Between wheezing gulps of air I figured there were most definitely better things to be doing, and places to do them. To add a little spice to events, a Carabinieri (police) car had pulled up alongside and they watched mesmerised as I huffed and puffed behind Mike’s Caponord as we tried to bump start it on a three lane exit from the motorway!

Mike had rung that morning from Trieste and asked if he could pop in for a brew and a chat …. no problem matey. You nibble away at the 680Km and I’ll pop the kettle on. I arranged to meet Mike at the Giulianova exit from the A14 Autostrada and everything went tickety-boo until his battery fell off the proverbial perch just as he go to the exit toll booth – a paltry 50m or so from where I stood waiting.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid & Motorbatt batterySo here we are at seven thirty in the evening with two Capo’s stripped while we try to jump start Mike’s bike. After a couple of false starts we get it running, but he can’t use the lights so he follows me home glued to my tail. The poor thing has a battery voltage of 11v and a total lack of charging system. 24hrs later we had the Capo up and running again no problem. A new battery, 30A fuse and a quick tinkle with his mapping has the Capo purring like a fine Swiss watch. We decided that the next day would be a ‘test’ day in the Gran Sasso mountains.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid in the Gran SassoIn the end the ‘test’ covered about 220km and re-established Mike’s confidence in the Capo’s abilities; considering he’s 10 days into a 5 week trip that puts him in Barcelona next week and Morocco a few days later, he needs to have 100% trust in his bike. Although the low cloud was broody and the stiff wind on the chilly side, we had a great day. We even managed a coffee at Castel del Monte and a chat with a group of BMW GS riding Germans!

This morning Mike strapped the last bag into place and burbled off to new adventures. I watch him as he disappears out of sight, finishing my brew and feeling a little sad. I wish I was going as well. Mike called tonight from Civitavecchia, safe and sound as he waits for the ferry to Barcelona, good luck Mike have a brilliant time, keep the camera rolling …..and don’t forget to send a postcard!

Wot’s that switch then eh?

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - 'Service Mode' switchA couple of keen-eyed readers have asked about the switch behind the riders saddle. Well, no mystery really ……. I got fed up with removing the saddles then rummaging around next to the battery to find both halves of the service connector – bloody inconvenient is what it is.

So I dropped a small waterproof switch into the bodywork behind the saddle. Now I just remove the rear saddle, flick the switch and I can reset the ‘service’ indicator and check out any error codes quickly and easily, no fuss, no scuffed knuckles.


Putting the Cat back ….

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - puuting the 'cat' back!The Quill Evo2 cans and link pipes had been on the Capo for a couple of years and sadly, never fitted properly. After spring I gave up waiting for a replacement left hand link pipe from my to-busy pipe bending chappie, so I decided to go back to standard cans. Then realised after 5 minutes – bad move! Way too muted, woolly and heavy! I wanted the best of both worlds!!!

So in August, after much pondering, I went for a hybrid system. The standard cans were cut from the their link pipes andAprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - Mikalor W2 55-49mm stainless clamps the remaining weld ground down to suit the external diameter of the Quill can inlet. An adapter sleeve made from stainless was fabricated to fit the Aprilia 45mm pipe to the internal 54mm of the Quills. These were welded onto the link pipe and the cans held in place with Mikalor stainless steel clamps and a little exhaust paste on assembly ensured a nice gas tight seal. Now the system also has a more robust three point mount compared to the Quill original two point.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - Quill Evo2 exhausts on stock Aprilia link pipesThe Aprilia link pipes are 45mm diameter and have Catalytic converters installed compared to the free flowing Quill ones – straight through 50mm, so generate a little more back pressure, not as much as the standard silencers though. The benefit has been in the sound department, the Quills still have the wonderful base-burble, but have lost the sharp edge … the ‘bark’ that they had before, making them much more pleasant to ride with, especially for the pillion!

So for me it’s been a win-win on this one. Looks, weight, sound and fit.

Map tweaks in the UK were minimal, suggesting the link pipes make little difference; as suspected, the standard cans are the biggest restriction.

Rally-Raid fuel economy – update

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - fuel economyIn the last post I mentioned the improved economy of the Rally-Raid over the recent three weeks continental trot.

Low: 45mpg  Avg: 48mpg Best: 51mpg

Well that wasn’t the whole story, those were the results from the majority of the journey but not the last 250Km. Oh no. I guess the answer starts with a question; do you ever get tired?

Let’s face it, motorways are mind numbingly dull and the A1/A14 from Milan to Pescara is no exception. The only technical section is the last 200km or so through numerous tunnels that wind their way along the Adriatic coast. After 22hrs and with 250km to go I was bushed, knackered, veritably cream-crackered as they say. Stop the bike and I felt fine, but 10 minutes back in the saddle and I flagged badly – not clever. I needed a pick-me-up, something to fine-focus the concentration and fire up the juices.

Do you ever consider divine intervention or guardian angels?

Well either luck, chance, chaos theory or someone watching over me knew just what I needed ….. and it came in the form of two Moto Guzzi Stelvio’s. As they passed waving cheerily I decided to tag along. And so over the next hour or so these two riders not only brought a smile to my face, but also educated me as to the whereabouts of various cameras as we periodically slowed, then rolled on again as we attacked each tunnel with gusto.

The pace was ‘somewhat velocious’ with the heavily laden Capo handling superbly as we swept through ever tighter tunnels on the approach to Ascoli Piceno, at one point the right boot tickling tarmac as we rolled on the gas in a decreasing radius bend; to say I was loving it would be the understatement of a lifetime! Sadly all good things come to an end and they eventually indicated off the motorway. A tap on the gas brought the Capo alongside and for a fleeting moment we waved and grinned like naughty school kids, then they slid away down the slip road out of sight. I wish I could tell them how much their company had meant to me at that time.

The last kilometres slid under the wheels without incident and home was mere minutes away. The next day I wondered how the exuberance of yesterday’s  dash had affected the consumption of the Capo …. 40mpg? ….. 35mpg?  Now the remorse set in. Dear Dog what had I been doing; while I grinned like a loon the Capo was probably drinking fuel quicker than a ladette on a Friday night binge! The tank was filled, the mileage taken. The clatter of calculator keys …..


I was expecting much worse. Happy days … I can live with that!  😉

Continental blast and re-reg at last!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - Passo del Gottardo

It’s 24hrs since the Capo and I arrived home from our 3,500 mile, three week trip to the UK and bits of me are still aching in new and novel ways. It’s not the Capo’s fault, the day after the trip over to the UK I was up and running around like a spring lamb with a caffeine boost. The return trip was different though, maybe not enough rest prior to the trip, I don’t know. I felt fine throughout the ride, just tired when I arrived. The next day was a different matter. My old right wrist injury, dormant for the past few years, decided to make itself known by swelling nicely and hurting like hell. So I named it ‘Paracetamol Monday’ in honour.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - morning haze ... GottardoThe trip went like a well-wound Swiss textbook, the Capo averaged 48mpg with a gold medal peak of 51mpg and a bronze medal low of 45mpg on the homeward leg – nice.

The tyres (Michelin Anakee 2) are wearing brilliantly, now with 7,500 miles under them, they still have 2.8mm front and 3.6mm tread left to the 1mm wear limit, that’s 25%/45% part worn from new. At this rate the projected life is well in excess of 12k for the rear, unbelievable. The amazing thing is that with so muchAprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - Anakee2 rear @ 7,500 miles profile-killing motorway work, they haven’t started to square-off, only the front shows early signs of ‘cupping’ on the rear edge of the central blocks. On paper, tyres that last this long and hold on to the profile would be so hard as to have sod all grip – not the case with the Anakee’s ……. have I really stumbled on the nirvana of long life and high grip in these tyres? Looks like it!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - back on UK registrationThe trip was for multiple reasons, friends, family, a little rider training and not least because I’d decided to return the bike to UK registration. I couldn’t believe how quick and easy it was. One MOT (cheers Dave Clarke Motorcycles – Oxford), Insurance cover and one simple form. Pop into the local DVLA office and 10 minutes later and just over a hundred quid lighter I had a tax disk and a V948 authorisation certificate so I could go and get a number plate made. I had this done by North Oxford BMW (thanks Matt) as they could do it with the ‘GB’ logo.  The day I was leaving the V5C registration document turned up to complete the set, so FX**G** and I were good to go.

So by the statistics on ‘howmanyleft.com’ there are currently 6 Rally-Raids declared SORN (off road) and 9 taxed and presumably rumbling around our fair green land …….. as of 2012 Q3, make that 10 on the road!

Finally a few thank yous …….. Jan for holding the fort and doing an amazing job, to Jim at AMI who again managed to keep me topped up with some CBT & DAS rider training, to Lucy and Emidio my in-laws who looked after me, the chap who parked the grassy-Smart car and last but not least there was to be a sarcastic ‘thank you‘ but Jan censored it! Damnation ……