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.
I finally got around to changing out the open-to-air 4-way connector that feeds the fuel pump and fuel level sensor. In went a nice 4-way Superseal (14A rated) with the connectors crimped, soldered and given a light coat of dielectric grease before sliding home into the waterproof housing.
Hopefully no more erratic fuel level due to oxidation on the pins! While I was at it I pulled the spare fuel pump harness (AP8124664) out of its bag and changed its connector as well. I’d look mighty foolish if I’d pulled that out of my spares kit at the roadside and the connectors didn’t match!
While under the hood, I noticed that the outer coat of the fuel return line (marine-grade ISO 7840 A1) is showing signs of deterioration and kinking near the swaged end at the fuel tank. I’d noticed it back in September, but unfortunately it appears to be a little worse now. Time then to order a new cLCD 170-04 1/4″ barbed quick release connector from Tom Parker (UK) along with suitable Oetiker clamps – I’ll only use clamps that need to be crimped, never ones with screws that can work loose. I’ve no problem doing the return hoses myself, but when it comes to the high pressure side, I leave it to the professionals. Last time that was MF Hydraulics in Oxford and I’ll be happy to use them again come the day.
The marine hose has lasted well (9 years) and that’s to be expected given that hose for marine applications has to meet very strict guidelines, however I think hose rated at SAEJ30R9 with its improved impermeability and tolerance to Ethanol is probably better suited on the Capo nowadays. Either way I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it! The high pressure line and main return line are holding up just fine with no sign of wear or deterioration.
On the eve of another little trip the half-key fuel cap has decided to throw its toys well and truly out of the cot. For the last couple of months the half-key has worked perfectly, but yesterday it just didn’t want to budge but the spare half-key still worked – go figure! Unfortunately I’ve now lost confidence in the cap opening as and when required. So two things happened …. first, out came the security bolt** and second, I ordered a nice silver/silver Oberon keyless cap to meet me at journey’s end. Now at least I can unbolt the whole cap assembly when I need to refuel if I have to ….. tedious but I won’t be left stranded!
**The cap is held on by four screws, three in the top of the cap (the other three are dummies) and one inside the filler neck. So if you can’t open the cap, you can’t remove the fourth screw and you’re stuffed!
We called into a fuel station about 20 miles from home just as a thunderstorm was rolling toward us over the Gran Sasso mountains. It rumbled away as the sky drew ever darker while I filled up a 5l gas can for the mower and topped up the Capo’s tank. All done, time to head on ……. except the ignition wouldn’t turn. One look and my heart sank – 2/3 of a key winked at me from between my gloved fingers. Yes, the other third is still in the fuel tank!!
Long and the short of it, Jan drove over with the spare and I was on the road again. I have to say that 20 miles heading home under a pretty pissed-off thunderstorm is not really much to chuckle about, but it did remind me of the last few weeks in England! Once back in the barn, time to fix the problem. Stripping the cap didn’t help. The barrel looks like it’s fitted once and fitted for life, so no getting the bit out that way. OK, maybe a locksmith can do the job, but at what cost and what state would the lock be in afterwards? A replacement Aprilia cap (AP8104529) then? A quick search shelves that idea – €277 you have to be bloody kidding me! So how about aftermarket? Well it looks like Oberon make a nice key-less cap for £79.99 that fits. It looks good and folks seem to like Oberon quality, so maybe that’s an option. I’ll think about it.
Anyway, for now I’ve refitted the cap and it opens/closes just fine with the broken key. Tomorrow I’ll get a couple of replacements cut from the spare and mull over what to do next. Meanwhile lessons learned:-
- Carry a spare key or squirrel one away somewhere on the bike – Andy (Beasthonda) gave me a good idea on that one – cheers Andy!
- Give the key a once-over every now and then with a magnifying glass … maybe I’d have spotted the cracks starting you never know.
- Replace the key every few years with a new one …. this one was 13 years old, so no real surprise that fatigue had set in by now.
- And no matter how short the journey or how sunny it is when I leave, throw a set of waterproofs in the (empty) panniers. You never quite know!
Oh and as a parting word …. thank-you to whoever was watching over me on the last couple of big trips. Breaking a key then would have been a real ball-breaker that’s for sure! 😕
In 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! 😉