New page added – Rear Suspension Linkage

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - 3D Rear suspension linkageYes, a new page added under ‘Chassis’ in the drop-down menu after installing the Brucaliffo supplied rear suspension linkage overhaul Kit. An excellent and comprehensive kit of parts and tools. I adapted it slightly from the original documented installation procedure (available here in Italian), nothing too radical though.

There is a slight issue with the alignment of one bearing, but it’s not a problem ….. and it’s all explained on the new page! I hope you find it useful.

You are what you are

Someone close to me once said;Birthday card from Giu & family

“You’ll never be riding motorbikes when you’re 30”

A simple statement I’ll grant you, but among the endless conversations that spiralled into arguments, the tone of voice, the inflection and the derisory look, all combined to weld that moment into my mind for eternity.

Today I am 50 …… I first rode a motorbike at 7. I’ve had my licence for 34 years and been lucky enough to earn a living from riding one for over 50% of that time. 7 accidents, over 50 bikes,  and ridden almost 946,000 miles in all weathers and through many wonderful countries.

Today, I think am a biker.

Yep, who would have believed it … I’m 50. More to the point, I’ve made it to 50! It only seems minutes ago I was sitting at home reading ‘On Two Wheels’, a sweaty-palmed teenager eager for life to get a move on. But it was in my late 20’s that the innocuous statement was made ….. what did she mean? As a full-time dispatch rider I wasn’t going to survive? Or that I had no conviction in anything I did? She certainly didn’t believe I was much good at anything. As a rider I was an accident waiting to happen in her eyes, so I took my ‘Institute of Advanced Motorists’ test and passed first time – but the bar was simply raised in her mind.

I think it’s fair to say that praise didn’t come easily, hell, it never really came at all. But I plodded on. Over the years I became a professional rider, earning a living from the one thing I love doing ……. I was still never good enough though. In the end, we parted our ways and life went on. Our paths haven’t crossed in the past 15 years and it’s now 12 years since I qualified as a motorcycle instructor and 5 years that the Capo and I have worked together.

Mother, you were wrong then, you’re still wrong now …….

 I am Karl Robert Bianchini.  Today I am 50.  Today I am a biker, I always was and always will be. I think I’ve earned that right.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - moto-abruzzo January 2013

Dash it all Jeeves…..

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - Dashboard green LCD panelsWell here it is at last ….. the green LCD Caponord instrument panel. A hot brew and an early start on a cold wintery day, had the panel off the bike and in the warm workshop by 8am. While the soldering station warmed up, I separated the cases, eased the needles off and surprised myself that all this only took a couple of minutes – no hassle with the needles at all, which is unusual!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - Dashboard LED's to replaceNext, the six diagnostic panel  and two odometer blue LED’s were replaced with green versions, this isn’t difficult but you need to make sure they go on the right way round or they won’t work! The LED specification I used is:

3.2-3.8v 20ma 1000mcd green PLCC-2 SMD LED

Then I removed the old 24C02 chip and read off the data and saved it. I modified the file and wrote it to a new chip and soldered it in place. Back out in the cold I plugged the board into the bike and got ready to switch on. Would it, wouldn’t it ….. blingy lights or a puff of smoke? Hoorah – we have bling!!! The case was buttoned back together after giving the clear lens a clean and checking the rubber seal was OK. All in all, about an hours work, time for another brew then.

So is it just a bling-thing or is their anything worthwhile about changing the LED’s? Personally I prefer it in green, the contrast between digits and background is better making it easier to read the display on the move – sadly the photographs don’t reflect how good they really are. Also the green LED’s are brighter than the blue and that certainly helps. Keeping the blue LED’s behind the analogue gauges adds a nice touch, balancing out the green.

Who’s bright idea?

Diagnostic panel LED replacementYes I know, I keep fiddling with this damn board …… but my new green LED’s turned up today!

So in one went on the test board to see what it looks like. The pic doesn’t do it justice as the green is a little deeper and more vibrant. The idea is to replace the LED’s under the diagnostics panel (x6) and the odometer (x2) and keep the meter lighting in blue.

I quite like the look of it, so tomorrow the RR instrument panel comes out of the bike and all the work I have lined up for it begins … please don’t let me screw up!

DVLA data

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - DVLA register of taxed/SORN bikesWell here it is …. the third quarter data for 2012. Including mine (August 2012), the UK has a total of 13 registered Caponord Rally-Raids – that’s a loss of three in the last year. Will 2013 see us drop into single figures? For those not familiar with UK registration, SORN means “Statutory Off-Road Notice” ….. in other words the owner has declared the bike will not be used on the highway, so probably garaged, untaxed and stored for winter. Hence the seasonal fluctuation you see on the graph.

So how about the standard Caponord? Well, 293 are registered altogether, 5 more than the end of 2011 …… ‘new’ old-stock or imports? I wonder.

If you want to see how many of your favorite car or bike are still registered in the UK then pop over to:

Chips with everything

And a Happy New Year to one and aAprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid - Test gear switch boxll. Welcome to 2013 ….. and have I been a busy boy over the festive period.

The Caponord/Futura instrument panel simulator-rig thing is built and working, allowing all the functions to be tested and it will plug directly into my main loom/ECU simulator when I get round to finishing it. I also piggy-backed a neat socket for the 24c chip onto the programmer and so now I can test a board and reprogram it all in one location.Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid 24C02 EPROM Programmer

A nice new solder station (thanks Lucy!) with better heat control has made working on the boards a breeze and a ‘Chipquik’ SMD removal kit’ has made chip replacement so easy compared to a couple of weeks ago. Working on stuff this small is certainly challenging!

So what’s left to do with these boards? Nothing much, finish the circuit diagram and replace some of the back-light LED’s as an experiment and trial a built-in  Sparkbright battery monitor. Stay tuned!