Clutching at straws …..

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid DOT5.1 clutch & brake fluidClutch slave cylinders/seals and brake fluid can be almost as emotive as good old engine oil, everyone has an opinion. Well I’ve just changed brake/clutch fluid after about 15 months, usually I’d do it every 6 months or so, but somehow I’ve ended up getting a bit lax and let it slide. So for what it’s worth, here’s how things have worked out on my own Capo over the years.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid clutch master cylinder DOT5.1 fluidI think everyone will agree that it’s the clutch fluid that takes the most punishment, followed by the rear brake. So here’s a couple of photographs of the inside of the master cylinder straight after opening it and a comparison of the fluid drawn off, with straw colour of new fresh oil from a sealed container. No black residue in the master cylinder and only a slight colour change in the oil with almost no cloudiness. The fluid drained from both front and rear brakes was almost like new, but it’s nice to keep the fluid fresh anyway.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid DOT5.1 brake & clutch fluid In comparison the oil I used to drain at 6-12 month intervals from the clutch was cloudy with black residue in the master cylinder and the rear brake was frequently amber in colour, only the front brakes seemed to show little degradation – all this was while using DOT4!

Todays oil is DOT 5.1 and has done 27,143 miles over 15 months

I’ve been using DOT5.1 now for the past five years and the first (10 year 44K miles) clutch slave seal was replaced in late 2013, not because it failed, but because it seemed to be letting a little air back into the system after long (24Hr+) runs – enough to give an extra 4-5mm or so of free play at the ball end of the lever otherwise it seemed fine in normal day-to-day use. Seal replacement was purely precautionary. The replacement seal has been used with DOT5.1 its entire life (2½ years 45K miles) and is showing no sign of leakage or air ingress. So to date it’s cost me one seal (€17) versus going out and buying a €90 aftermarket cylinder … I know which mast I’m nailing my colours to!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid clutch master cylinder window bubbleAnd finally ….. always ALWAYS make sure the level of fluid in the reservoir is right. It is so damn easy to overfill this one. My prefered method is to drain off most of the reservoir fluid once the system is bled (don’t expose the ports) then refit the rubber bellows and use a syringe to inject fluid back in while watching the bubble. Leave quite a big bubble showing, because when you screw down the cap the volume (and bubble) shrink a little.

Eighty-eight thousand, eight hundred and eighty-eight!

Disposable_cameraMany years back I started to carry one of these disposable cameras on the bike. Usually ratting around in the top-box with all manner of junk, it was their just in case of …… Well I’m sure you get the idea. Instead it ended up being used to take a picture of the speedo whenever it passed through an ‘interesting’ odometer reading – 12345, 22222, 33333. Sad I know, but it became a habit.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid hits 88,888 milesTaking a photo of these mileages has stayed with me and where possible I still take a snap of the dashboard if it’s convenient/safe to do it and of course, if I remember! This time around it was a biggie, the one that would use up all but one segment of the entire odometer – 88,888 – I wasn’t going to miss this one.

And so on a beautifully warm day with January knocking on February’s door the capo rolled to a halt just south of Penne and the picture was taken. The Capo’s running wonderfully and I’m (slowly) losing a bit of weight and feeling better for it – I have a feeling this year might just be the year we crack that 6th digit!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Abruzzo Gran Sasso

Trippin’ all the way!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid dashboardSometimes a particular feature of a piece of technology can drive you nuts – that itch you can’t scratch! Here’s my particular niggle with the Capo dashboard ……

Just imagine, it’s a nice day and you’re all suited-and-booted, ready to tear up the countryside on the Capo. You’ve pushed the ‘Set’ button on the dashboard to display the trip meter and all is fine and dandy in the world, later you pull over for a break and when you restart the bike – the dashboard has switched back to odometer! I know it’s not exactly the end of the world, but it is annoying. Why couldn’t Aprilia just code the damn thing to display on start-up what it showed at shut-down, many other bikes seem to do it.

So as part of the long running Mk2 dashboard project, the feature has now been incorporated!

With a little bit more code and a couple of extra wires, the dashboard now knows what was displayed (odometer or trip) at key-off. Then it simply electronically replaces a winter-gloved podgy finger and prods the ‘Set’ line to the old microcontroller a second after the board finishes its POST (power-on-self-test) routine. It also now reads the voltage from the fuel level sensor in the fuel tank, so that if the trip meter is displayed at key-off AND the fuel level changes from less than 15% to greater than 90% (approx. <5l to >20l refuel) at the next key-on, the trip meter will be reset automatically. If you don’t want the reset to go ahead, you simply make sure the dashboard is displaying the odometer before switching the bike off, now the reset is ignored.

Of course all this is well and good on the workbench, but in real day-to-day use – will it scratch that itch? Hmm, time and a few miles under the Capo’s belt will determine that answer……. maybe I’ll just end up with a nasty little rash! 😕

Muddy Chef Challenge 2016

20140508_143707_Richtone(HDR)As some of you may know, I’m not really one for driving our four-wheeled cousins … I didn’t even get a licence for them until quite late, then I tried a variety of styles and performance and came to the conclusion that they just didn’t do it for me – all except the Land Rover / Range Rover. I had so much fun in a slow old clunky Series 3 hand-me-down that I ended up buying the P38 Range Rover primarily for off-road work when here in Italy. Best buy I ever made, smooth and comfortable on the highway and 95% as capable as any standard Defender when off-road ……. and don’t believe all the press bullshit about reliability either! 😉

So when Eric, founder and event director of got in contact regarding a Caponord matter, I was immediately curious about what Muddy Chef is …. well in short, it’s a marriage between Land Rovers and cooking!

(quote) “off-roading and a vehicle based gourmet cooking challenge (think Top Gear meets Top Chef).”


Unfortunately I’m no cook. I can cook, but I just don’t seem to enjoy it – even the BBC’s Hairy Bikers only got 10 minutes of airtime before I changed channel! But I can appreciate good food, especially the time, dedication and skill required to prepare it from the back of a vehicle in the woodlands! I think this meeting of two different interests is fantastic and truly hope the muddychef challenge goes from strength to strength over the coming years. So if you haven’t already clicked the Muddy Chef link to get away from my drivel – do it now!


Slowly, slowly ……

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid frame / chassis in Solidworks 3DWith the weather hitting an unseasonaly warm 20c (but high winds!) it’s been a fine opportunity for running around on the Capo, but when she’s all tucked up nice and cosy in the barn, it’s been time to work on the stable-mate, NK03 …… or more specifically the chassis! Slowly but surely it’s being measured and drawn up in CAD and some other parts drawn up last year added into the mix. One day a complete digital Capo will exist! 😀

Refering back to the weather …….. here’s a couple of pics taken on the mobile at the end of the day when walking the dog. As the sun sets behind the Gran Sasso mountains it seems to save the best lighting until last.

Gran Sasso sunset January 2016Gran Sasso sunset January 2016