ACIM (Aprilia Caponord International Meeting) VI – 2014

Aprilia Caponord International Meeting 2014 - San MarinoAfter thrashing out our diaries for 2014, Jan and I have managed to keep the 11-13th of July free for  ACIM VI 2014 – held this year in San Marino (Italy) …… and so the registration has been duly submitted to the organisers. 😀 😀

So we’re looking forward to plenty of pics, video, laughs and good conversation over the weekend in a spectacular part of Italy. We really hope to meet up with some of you over the weekend and finally put a face to a name!

Tax-idermy … the art of being stuffed

UK tax disksLet me tell you a little story …. Back in 06 I bought an ST1300 and a couple of weeks later while out with students, I got pulled over by Mr Grumpy the police officer with a charisma bypass. It seemed that his ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) had flagged my bike as not having a valid tax disk. So I pointed it out to him – nice and readable on the front fork leg. He wasn’t interested because “The computer says ………”

The nice lady at the DVLA office (now closed) in Oxford verified it was genuine and that it was all just a silly computer error – that cost me time and fuel to go and sort out, not to mention the embarrassment of being pulled over in front of paying students!

Now the same government will be doing away with the printed tax disk in October, no doubt sucking up the extra millions it saves on printing and distribution. Oh of course we’ll get a receipt when we pay, one that we now have to print out ourselves at our own expense and presumably carry around with us just in case we come across ANPR wielding cyber-cop again …. and would he believe you anyway, because “The computer says ……..”

And let’s not forget one thing, this is the very same government department that shoved its collective fingers in its ears and hummed the la-la song in total denial that they were losing the motorcycle entitlement off licenses being returned for address changes etc. Only when this involved some folks with impeccable and verifiable backgrounds (police/paramedic & motorcycle instructors) were they shoved far enough into a corner to have to admit (begrudgingly) that maybe, possibly they were in the wrong …. but “The computer says …….”

So next time you get pulled by an ANPR wielding digital-do-gooder it’s you against the creaky-leaky government database and you know who’s side Robocop is on.

“The computer says ……”

Almost made it to 100K Km

Code 33 - front coilYesterday was a great day, warm and a smooth running Capo to zip about on …… not so today, no siree Bob. Started her up this morning and that dreaded little EFI light started flashing away. Front coil #1 (code 33) had shuffled off to the great coil playground in the sky.

Before swapping it out, I plugged TuneECU in to get a screenshot of the dwell – reading 0.420 in the picture – definitely dead as a Dodo. Not to worry though, a spare was on the Coil #1 reading 0.420 ...... deader than a dead thing.shelf and an hour later the job was well and truly jobbed. Just two things to mention really ….. one, changing that rubber sleeve is a right pain in the proverbial and two, getting the HT lead onto the Amrish coils is even harder! Note to self …. make sure the next spare coil on the shelf is already fitted into a sleeve and has a HT lead attached, that’ll save at least 15 minutes and a book full of swear words! So after 92,413Km the second Sagem coil has been replaced, the first went a couple of years ago, so will the last two make it to the big 100K Km?

Here’s a graphic I keep (laminated) on top of the airbox lid – it just makes it easier to locate the right coil without consulting the manuals. Click for a bigger version.

Coil location, colour and numbering

New ‘Lockwood’ inlay fitted at last

Right indicator repeaterOn 4th February Jan came back home with a suitcase fair groaning with all manner of goodies. The most eagerly awaited though, was the pair of new inlays from Lockwood International Ltd. So first impressions?

Excellent! From the textured material to the bleed-free printing, from the fit to the light-transmission …. everything was exactly as I’d hoped. The first thing I did was pop one onto a waiting chassis/board and turn on the lighting – did the text and colour match the light channels? Again, perfectly. Now I could relax, prepare the new chassis and get ready to fit one permanently to the dashboard. To fix it in place I decided to use a general-purpose spray adhesive and did a trial run on an old chassis/inlay to make sure it would be suitable. Everything seemed fine and it was certainly good experience to do a dummy run.

Making sure the chassis was grease and dust free was essential, then masking off the light-channels, mounting pegs and anywhere else I didn’t want spray glue to go! A couple of thin coats of adhesive were applied and the inlay fitted 10 minutes later to allow time for the solvents to evaporate. Perfect! It was now ready to be fitted to the circuit board, but first a couple of modifications to the board/processor circuits.

First the eeprom file needed to be updated for the Futura speedo/tacho, then the code in the microcontroller needed updating for the different (voltmeter) needle calibration. At the same time a couple of modifications were made to the circuits based on insights I’d picked up about Arduino boards from the Internet, also the auto-dimming circuit was finally added for the variable back-lighting, a bit of tweaking with the code – and it was all ready to be refitted to the Capo.

So there I was …. on a wind-swept but warm Sunday morning, dashboard in hand and about to see the fruits of a few months work finally come together on the bike. No doubt the code for the auto-dimming will need fine-tuning, but that can be done without removing the dashboard again – and that’s the line in the sand, right there. Once fitted, I shouldn’t have to remove them again anytime soon …. and that’s a great feeling!

I think that about now would be a great time to pause and say thanks to a few folks who have helped me keep the momentum in this little project. Firstly Jan for her patience and for lugging stuff across the continent for me, to Andy (beasthonda) for bouncing ideas around with me and his interest in the project, to Arvdee in the USA without who’s generous donation of a Futura inlay I wouldn’t have had a template.  Last but not least, Clive from Lockwood International for putting the proverbial icing on the cake – thank you all!!!! 😀

Multitec, Neotec … what the heck!

Shoei MultitecAfter 8 years the Shoei Multitec is no-more …. Well in truth, more like eased out to pasture rather than to the knacker’s yard. I could wax lyrical all day about how good this helmet is, but what for? Rave reviews and testimonials abound on the internet.

Back in 2006 after an abysmal acquaintance with a Shuberth C1-Concept, the Multitec was a breath of fresh air and for the first few years it was in constant use as my No1 motorcycle-Instructing helmet, fitted of course with the ubiquitous Autocom noise-cancelling headset that matched perfectly. By my Excel spreadsheet (diary), since then we’ve covered a little over 150k+ miles together – and that’s not a bad life-span for a lid! Ok it’s collected a couple of scratches along the way, mostly around the shield release button, but it still fits well enough and a new whisper-kit and visor from Jim at AMI will have it looking as good as new again as it takes on its new part-time role of GoPro camera mount!

NeotecBut the fact of the matter is, it has now been replaced …… by a Shoei Neotec. This is a wonderful gift from my loving wife Janet for my 51st birthday and I’m as pleased as punch, its brilliant – Cheers Jan!!! The experience of the Multitec meant that its replacement would inevitably be a Shoei; the decision was whether it would be a direct replacement with another Multitec or go for the ‘new’ Neotec. In the end, trying to find a Multitec in the right colour/size proved too problematic*, plus they would probably be old stock by now and as such may have a shorter warranty – Shoei say 7 years from date of manufacture or 5 from date of purchase whichever is the shorter. So after scouring the internet for New-Year bargains, a Neotec in white/medium was ordered from From order to delivery in Italy was only 4 days – excellent price & service. Unfortunately the dismal weather we’re having has made it hard to get a good ride-out with it! Having said that, even the few short rides tell me that it was the right choice – think of it this way,  rather than a new piece of kit, more an old friend with an impressive make-over!

Now if the incessant rain, land-slides and generally dismal start to 2014 would just toddle off for a bit ……………

*Although shown on the European website, the Multitec is not in the 2014 Shoei catalogue.