New main menu item added

As I write this, the UK is slowly beginning to come out of lockdown and taking our beloved Caponords out to stretch their legs is finally becoming a reality …. before then I have tyres to fit, wheels to deep-clean and a poachers bag full of other little jobs to do – on the Capo and on the website.

To that end I want to bring to your attention if I may, the addition of a new heading in the main menu – PARTS. Currently a work in progress, it contains two sub directories (O-Rings & Hose Clamps) but this will be expanded hopefully to include bearings, seals and hoses. All items that we may (or not!) still be able to get from Aprilia, but which may have cheaper and more easily sourced alternatives available. The idea is to present them in independent sections using graphics and hotspots so you can quickly locate the item you need and get the alternative information if there’s any available.

I appreciate some of this information and other alternative parts can be found in the likes of the AF1 forum ‘OEM manufacturers/suppliers’ thread, however it’s a random collection regarding all sorts of parts and sometimes searching can be very hit and miss. Here, I hope to make the search for a particular seal, clamp or O-ring nice and easy – enter the subsection, click on the link to the parts location – fuel pump, cooling system etc – find the highlighted item in the graphic and hover your mouse over it. There’s the part number and current UK price, click on it and any alternative and size info is given in the field on the right hand side – simple. I hope!

Anyway, to help bring this to fruition, I’ve ordered one of every O-Ring I need to measure where that info isn’t readily available, I’ve also ordered a range of Ezyclick and Zero leak clamps to do the same for particular areas of the Capo oil/cooling system. With any luck all this data will be up on the website in a week or so. After that, bearings, seals and hoses. 

One last thought ………. is there any mileage is selling bags of O-Rings – say a service kit, or engine kit for example ….. maybe oil/coolant clamp kit? Just an idea to throw around, what do you think?

Finally, a huge thank you to folks who have donated toward the website this year. Without your help this little project may well have not happened or been way down the line. Website plugins are usually free, with limited functionality – Pro versions have a price tag but have infinitely more functionality – your kind donations have bought those Pro plugins! Thank you.

E10 ……… no it’s not a boy band!

Did you get around to watching ‘The Last Motorcycle on Earth’? Well this post is about a little of that fiction meeting reality right here, right now.

After much deliberation it looks like E10 fuel got the UK government green-light in February 2020 and will be on a forecourt near you in 2021 … probably/maybe. It’s been on the horizon for almost a decade, but thankfully we’ve not had to deal with the tank bloating, seal destroying gut-rot fuel that’s the scourge of the EU .. but times are a changing as the song says. It looks like the current ‘Premium’ fuel (E5) will become the ‘Super-Unleaded’ and E10 the Premium. Like Europe, it’s  use will be optional unlike some countries where it’s introduction and use are mandatory. One note of concern though …. the proposal only protects E5 supply for up to five years after E10 is rolled out, presumably supply could then disappear from forecourts almost overnight, making refuelling an unmodified Capo awkward to say the least. And five years isn’t a long time!

On occasion I would use it while travelling through Europe, but only one tank at a time, then I’d use E5 fuel to clear it out of the system and always on a journey where I knew I’d burn through it before I arrived at my destination. I never left it stewing in the tank for longer than a couple of hours.  So this looks like it’s  time for one of those other jobs that have sat firmly on the garage shelf for the last 12 months – lining the fuel tank with Caswells Epoxy resin. Even after that’s done, I think I’ll try to steer clear and take the price hike to ‘Super-Unleaded’ on the chin…… while I can anyway.

 

Well I never …. I didn’t expect that!

About six weeks ago Beasthonda pointed me in the direction of a Rally-Raid rider saddle up for grabs – brand new from Greece. Well, a couple of weeks ago it arrived and I gave it a quick once over. Since then it has sat in the corner looking pretty. Until today.

I took it to the garage and was just about to put the box away, when I glanced at the saddle on the shelf waiting to go back on the bike.Something wasn’t quite right, so out of the box came the new saddle, and voila ….. it turn out it’s a low-saddle. Yes, AP8793685 – what a surprise! I’ve always been on tipie-toe on the Raid, so I’m looking forward to at least trying the low saddle just to see what the trade off is. My guess, better foot-to-floor feel but knees getting bent more when riding, which will be the killer as my knees don’t do so well these days even with the standard seat. But for local/commuter riding it might be just perfect, the swap saddles for the long-haul rides.

 

The Last Motorcycle on Earth

Stuck in lockdown and looking for something biker related to watch? Well here’s a real thought provoking treat for you. I found out about this a few months ago and yesterday it popped up on Amazon Prime UK for £2.49 in HD. It’s part one of a trilogy by the looks of it. If you like bikes and worry about what the politicians  may do to our lifestyle in the coming years as they push ever harder to ban fossil fuels and rush headlong toward electric and autonomous vehicles, then you might just like this film. I loved it …. and maybe the back-story sat all the harder as I work in the autonomous vehicle industry!

It had to be done ……… but

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid valve service and cam covers replacedAs I sit looking at the vast expanse of white in the WordPress editor window, fingers poised over the keys and acutely aware of the aches in my fingers and wrists and subtle waft of soap barely masking the hint of worn out engine oil clinging stubbornly to the creases  in my old hands, I think to myself ….. aaagggghhhh why did I bother!

Yes, another Caponord service is over – with a valve check. Don’t get me wrong, everything went well, couldn’t have gone better in fact. Air/Oil filters and engine oil, plugs, hoses, fuel tank drain lines etc … are just perfect … but this time I had to fight my way in to check the valves, last done sometime when Crackerjack was on black and white TV’s – or so it feels.

Don’t get me wrong it’s not a hard job, just a fiddly one, especially the front cam cover bolt beautifully obscured by the coolant thermostat, oh and the buggeroo of a screw at the front of the cam cover, behind the radiator and below the finger shredding plastic mount for the front coils … otherwise, all good.

It’s none of that that bothers me in reality. It’s the fact that when you get in and measure the valves after what seems like way too many miles since the last visit, they’re all bloody fine! Couldn’t just one be out, just one require a shim change just to make the whole visit worthwhile – please! Oh well, I guess I had to console myself with fitting the powder coated cam covers and savouring the moment in the golden hour at the end of a beautifully warm day. 

Take the strain out of the drain

Aprilia Caponord Rally-Raid ETV1000 magnetic plug AP0241782 KTM 8030021100I think it’s reasonable to say that Aprilia got it right when they chose Rotax and the rock-solid V990 motor for their range of bikes in the late 90’s. Bullet-proof doesn’t quite do it justice, especially in the de-tuned Caponord variant. But even this wonderful piece of Bavarian engineering has it’s weak points, and probably the one most obvious from a service-by-service aspect is that damn annoying magnetic plug in the crankcase.

Yes, little old AP0241782 can be easy to install, but a stress-breeding mega-monster when it comes to it’s removal. Stubborn is just too understated for how this little sucker can behave! Even with a brand new, high quality hex-key you feel the fear rise in your throat as you apply more and more torque – until finally with a loud ‘crack’ it gives way while your knuckles accelerate toward the floor at light speed. Or as has happened on the odd occasion, the head sheers off!

Over the years I’ve tried removing it with the engine hot, cold and in-between …. with prayer, witchcraft by a full moon and plain old cursing. In the end the best remedy I stumbled upon was a bag full of the little suckers donated by a friend. Spoiled as I was, I could afford to be decadent and change the plug for a new one every three services. By that time the fit between the screw and hex-key was getting a little stretched. But then one day,  the bag ran dry …. oh my!

Aprilia Caponord Rally-Raid ETV1000 magnetic plug AP0241782 KTM 8030021100A little online digging threw up a bit more info regarding Aprilia numbers and options. It turns out that the magnetic plug AP0241782 has now been superseded by 2R000498 AND there is an optional washer offered if you want to use one. The 07-09 RSVR and 07-10 Tuono used the same plug AND also had the crush washer AP0250640 fitted. This washer is now sold listed as a usable option on all engines that use this plug. Does it make a difference? I’ve no idea as I’ve not tried one, but I guess it moves the mating surfaces from the taper to the screw head/crankcase and washer. In the end I went a different route used by many others over the years.

Following the recent footsteps of my old mate Beasthonda, I dipped into my pocket and purchased a KTM mag plug – 58030021100 for the princely sum of  just under £9 compared with the Aprilia part retailing at £32. This saving alone is worth moving away from the Aprilia part! Now the eagle-eyed among you may have noted that the magnet on the KTM plug is longer than on the Aprilia one and be concerned that this could cause a possible oil restriction – fear not. The 10mm magnet (versus 8mm) fits into a cavern …… the space inside the crankcase behind the magnet goes back at least 50mm, so there’s tons of room around for oil to flow by. So, job done ….time to move on with the rest of the lockdown service.

 

Quick update ….

Just updated the heated grips and helmet graphics on the display, much nicer I think. 👍 Sorry about the stripes in picture, it’s a camera v display thing!Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid dashboard improved display graphics

Time on my hands …..

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid When a chicken damages your front mudguard, the day doesn't end so well for the chicken!

It’s fair to say that these strange and worrying times will touch all of us in some  way or other, so may I firstly send each and everyone of you all my best wishes as we each deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. That said, life still moves on and this site is about the beloved Caponord ETV1000 we are lucky enough to enjoy, so it’s content will stay focused to that end. 

Recently the fantastic company I work for has taken the difficult decision to furlough us until the end of May, but the flip side of this particular coin is that I’ll now have a lot more time to add new material to the website and spend some well needed hours spinning spanners and generally giving the Capo the TLC it so richly deserves. So please, stay safe, and pop back once in a while and see what’s been added! 

First on the list ……. the front mudguard. I’d only had the Capo a year or so, when one fateful day a rather inquisitive chicken decided the front mudguard was a smashing place to perch, but not very grippy. So after lots of slipping around and trying to dig its claws in, it gave up and flapped away in a huff leaving nice scratches in the surface of the mudguard. Since then, a coat of black bumper polish every now and then has gone some way to masking the marks, but it needs applying every few weeks to maintain the effect. Later that fateful day, the chicken mysteriously decided to perch inside a hot oven with some lovely roast spuds ….. and close the door. Who knows what goes through a chickens mind eh!

Last year … yes, last year (the shame of waiting so long!), I got hold of a rattle-can of ‘Plasti Dip’ satin black. This stuff is quite interesting, it sprays like a paint but can be peeled off later like a vinyl wrap. Just do a search, there are loads of YouTube videos about this stuff. So the plan is, off with the guard, a good wash and degrease then when thoroughly dry, a few coats of Plasti Dip – if I don’t like it, simply peel off re-polish and put it back on the bike – nothing lost. That’s the cunning plan anyway …

Next on the list …. another little update to the 4D Systems screen software! An extra page has been added that now allows control of heated grips and seats. Here’s a little video of it in action … again, it’s a work in progress and will have a couple of graphic tweaks and an extra function added into the software, but for now it’s a working prototype with three PWM (Pulse Wave Modulation) outputs (one per heater set) that will drive a high power circuit controlling the heater elements. These circuits are capable of handling 12A each, so more than tough enough for grips/saddle heaters.

It uses the 5-button switch assembly so that the grips can be adjusted on the fly, rather than have to use the smartphone app like the other info pages. The basic functions are:

  • Press and hold OK to access the screen or return to main screen
  • Use the UP and DOWN buttons to select the heater you want to adjust
  • Use the LEFT and RIGHT buttons to adjust the heat settings – a single press adds/removes 1 block (10%) while press and hold a button ramps up or down until released
  • Double click the LEFT or RIGHT button to set all heaters to 0% or 100% instantly. When set to 100% there is a five minute timer, then the grips return to preset values – this is ideal as a pre-heater on wintry mornings!
  • Finally, Double click the OK button to return all heaters to preset values
  • In-built safety cuts all heaters when the ignition is turned off

Updates in the pipeline …… addition of a settings page in the smartphone app to allow some flexibility. For example – a timer when the ignition is turned off, so the grips can remain live for a few minutes (like the Oxford grips do) … and the ability to inhibit the pillion heater completely if you never carry a pillion or feel the need to heat luggage you have strapped on!

New places, new tyres

I’ve just done a quick search of the website and realised that I haven’t mentioned tyres in three whole years. That’s probably because for the past three years I’ve been very happy thank you very much running around on the Michelin Anakee 3’s. But now I have a need once again for something a bit more 50:50-ish to tackle some seriously dilapidated roads, more like tracks across ploughed fields really!

Of course I could just opt for the venerable old TKC 80 or Karoo 3 but I wanted to give another manufacturer a try. I’ve read pretty good things over the years about Mitas tyres, a  budget tyre made in the Czech Republic, so I opted for the Mitas e07+ based on reviews for our wheel size and bike style and ordered a set from Pneus Online – £146 the pair, delivered.

Well they arrived by two different couriers from two different warehouses on two different days – but they arrived! Both were manufactured within the last few months, so no old stock which is nice. I unwrapped both of them and stood back in amazement ……. I guess we’re all used to the hairs/bobbles (vent spews) on new tyres, but Mitas has REALLY gone to town. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such hairy tyres before! These things have never bothered me in the past, but this amount gives me a real urge to reach for a craft knife!

Dashboard – Multi function display screen – 4

First off ….. a bit of code change to the website should mean that all other pages, not just the front page will now display at a greater width than previously. I hope you find the general readability and layout better.

Secondly, I’ve now swapped from an Arduino Uno to an Arduino Mega 2560 to drive the 4DSystems display. This was due to the Uno only having one hardware serial interface, while the 2560 has three. Now I’m driving the display off one and a HC-05 Bluetooth module off another. After a frustrating few evenings playing with the MIT App Inventor, I managed to get a working app on my Note 10 that drives the display. It flicks between screens, resets the two MPG indicators and allows me to change the time of the Real Time Clock.