Keeping the postman busy

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 RST Futura hybrid velocity stack 47mm 51mmAfter January’s awful weather – snow, rain, sub-zero temps, earthquakes & landslides, it’s been a very nice balmy February! So much so, that the Capo has squirreled a good few miles under its belt – the last 300 of them with the new snorkel in place. And I have to say, I’m really chuffed at how it performs. No extra induction noise that my aged arthritic lug holes can detect and no detriment to performance even though it’s been nowhere near a dyno to tweak the mapping.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid cam chain tensioner AP0236253As I write, a swanky set of Futura throttle bodies are winging their way here, as are a nice new pair of Mk2 cam chain tensioners – AP0236253. The velocity stacks are now finished and ready to fit to the throttle bodies and so it just leaves the matter of swapping out the Anakee Wild tyres for a fresh set of Anakee 3’s and a DID ZVM-X chain and Ognibene front/rear sprocket set (courtesy of Motrag) and I think she’ll be ready for a damn good thrashing on Dr Dyno! 🙂


You never get a second chance to make a first impression

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid. Metzeler Karoo 3 - about 50 miles of running-in and starting to work.Yesterday the new Karoo 3’s were fitted by a nice chap down at Vulcarapid in Pescara and by 3pm the wheels were snugly back in place. That just leaves a sneaky little test ride!

So the next morning with the thermometer nudging 27°c and not a cloud anywhere in sight, I loaded the camera and a couple of sandwiches in the cases and set off. So the question now has to be, what are the first impressions of the Karoo 3’s?

Before saying anything though, I want to ask a question ……. would you deliberately choose to ride your Capo (or any bike!) on black-ice …. or marbles? My guess is no.

Well, sadly that’s exactly what zero mileage Karoo 3’s handle like and it’s not a pleasant experience at all. As I turned right onto the black-top from our gravel road the steering felt vague and the bike felt as though it was going onto its side. Under gentle acceleration in a straight line the tyres squirmed left and right, exaggerating dips and undulations in the road surface. After about 3 miles I’d all but had enough, the bike just felt awful and I was ready to swing back home ….. but in hindsight I’m glad I didn’t.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid just below Castel del MonteI continued on to Castel del Monte and mile after mile the tyres began to settle down, lean angles slowly increased while acceleration and braking stability began to sort their act out. The mileage slowly climbed as did my progress up the mountain, by the time I stopped for a bite to eat, the trip meter said 52 miles and my confidence levels were a magnitude improved.

Now I quite understand if you’re thinking along the lines of tyre pressures, or tyres fitted the wrong way around, or that maybe I’ve screwed up the wheel installation. Fact is, everything was checked and checked again. The instability could only be the new tyres.

And here is where I hop off this particular pony ……. I’m not getting drawn into a ‘fresh tyre grip argument’ or the myth of ‘mould release agents‘. Knock yourself out on the internet or slug it out with your mates down the pub. I just know what I experienced and can only compare it to 34 years of riding both professionally and socially and having ridden out of a fair number of dealerships, tyre bays and workshops on all shapes and sizes of new tires …….. and never before experiencing this dramatic a start with any of them.

But back to the last bit of the journey …..

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid and dark bends on the East side of the Gran SassoWell the remaining 50+ miles of the day took me back down the East side of the mountains where dense forest smothers the road down to 800m or so, where it begrudgingly gives way to agricultural land. The trees keep most of the road in dense shadow, dappled by undulating patches of bright light that pierced the canopy above. This camouflages the road surface so you can’t read it until it’s almost under your wheels. The problem is, the road is BAD ……. potholes, gravel, tree debris and water to name a few. I guess the constant dark and micro-climate helps nature do it’s worst to the road surface all year round.

Now though, the Karoo’s were starting to work for me, stable and unfazed by the constant variety of surface they needed to work with. Hair-pin bend after hair-pin bend had the Capo tracking like a mountain goat on steroids, each inspiring more confidence. Eventually I left the tree line behind and headed down to the SS80, familiar roads and onward home. The last few miles I road exactly as I would have done on the Anakee 2’s.

The days conclusions ….

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Metzeler Karoo 3 scrubbing in nicely nowDisastrous to start, but at least they continually improved throughout the day, a roller-coaster of a day in more ways than one! But I have to ask myself a couple of questions:

    • If I’d known how the Karoo 3’s would start off, would I have fitted the more expensive TKC80’s again? Yes probably.
  • At this moment in time, with only a measly 100 miles + on which to base an opinion, would I fit them again? The little voice, the one way back in your subconscious answered first …. errr no.

So not exactly a glowing start and one from which the Karoo’s may well struggle to recover, only time will tell. Winter is just around the corner and their performance on our gravel/dirt road over the coming months will no doubt make or break them.


I’m an Anakee-st!!!!

Well, after four years and a steadily deteriorating road, the authorities have seen fit to scrape and widen our road in readiness for a nice topping of something-or-other. For the past three years I’ve been running the Continental TKC80 off-road biased tyres, simply because they were the only sensible choice for such a poor road ……. and it’s the only road I have to reach civilisation!

The downside was a tyre that wears quickly and is expensive for its type. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad tyre …. quite the opposite, it handles far better than its chunky knobbles would have you believe. It just wears away quicker than a kids crayon at motorway speeds!

So the choice has been to replace the worn out TKC80 rear in anticipation of the road improvements and an impending trip to the UK, or add a few more shekels to the pot and change both tyres to something road-biased. Hmmm ……. Michelin Anakee 2 here we come!

For the princely sum of €230 I get two tyres nicely fitted and new valves thrown in as well. I checked the manufacturing dates (2611 & 2911) – they’re so new they’re still hot from the oven! The rims get a spruce up and all the bearings and seals are good to go.

So what is the first impression? Truthfully …… a mix of disappointed and impressed! I guess I was expecting a major ‘wow’ moment when I hit the road, but no, the bike tracked as usual and is no quieter than usual. Frankly it doesn’t feel any different … or does it ….. well it turns in a little quicker and seems to hold it’s line better ( no ‘walking’ on the knobbles!). But I guess I expected more. OK, the tyres are new and need fully bedding in.

But I think I looked at it the wrong way round … it isn’t about how good the Anakee2’s are, it’s about how good the TKC80’s were! That’s the point. I’m sure that as the Anakee’s bed in, they’ll shine through … greater grip at higher lean, a longer life and improved wet-weather grip would be most welcome!

Bottom line, I’m looking forward to the miles ahead and seeing how the Anakee 2’s work out. As for the TKC80’s, would I go back to them at some point in the future? Without a doubt!

Tread depth @ TWI (Tyre Wear Indicator) – 0 miles

Front: 3.7mm              Rear: 6.5mm

After 3,096 miles – still excellent profile.

Front: 3.3mm (11% wear)   Rear: 5.1mm(21% wear)