Tragic loss

Today I mourn the passing of my soulmate, best friend and wife of almost 30 years – Janet. She fought so bravely for two years against cancer, but was finally taken from us yesterday after a sudden and unexpected downturn. Family were at her side at the end as she passed peacefully. Today the pillion seat is empty and the intercom silent …. for over thirty years we travelled together on two wheels. Goodnight my beloved sweetheart.

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!

… and back again!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-RaidAs I rolled off the bottom of Stokenchurch hill with a clear motorway ahead and a remaining journey time of 15 minutes, it was time for a little post-ride reflection. The dashboard temp gauge dropped another degree and sat at 5C – hardly the 20C at midnight when I’d left Italy 19hrs previously! Never mind, the Oxford heated grips were doing their thing, keeping my podgy fingers nice and toasty in my BKS winter gloves. From the front of the bike, the white beams of the Sealight X2 LED’s turned night into day – from hard shoulder to armco barrier a reassuring spread of light paved the way.

With 550 miles of night-time riding under the belt in the last 24hrs, I can truly say these things are awesome and Euro motorway speeds (130Kmh /80Mph) are a doddle, even on tricky motorways with tunnels that sneak up on you and bends that you just don’t expect on a motorway – all in a day’s (or night’s!) work for these babies!

As I approached Oxford, I dipped the back brake to cut the cruise control …….. the cruise control …… I haven’t given it a moment’s thought for a long time. It just does what it’s supposed to, no drama, just smooth throttle control over long tedious distances, up hill and down. The sign then of a cracking piece of kit, when it fades to the back of the mind as it quietly gets on with the job. Without it I’d be stuffed, my wrist just cannot do these sort of mileages anymore …. so I doff my cap in appreciation for a fine piece of kit that keeps me crossing continents – cheers MCCruise!

So everything is happy bunnies in the house of Moto-A’s Capo? Not quite unfortunately …. the fuel sender has decided to sulk and the fuel gauge can no longer be relied upon to be anything more than decorative! My guess is the sender itself needs cleaning or replacing as everything else checks out OK. Not a big issue in the scheme of things and a way of remembering how we used to do things – fill-up, Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally Raid low profile clamp fuel filter pumpreset the trip and ride up to a mileage above which you know you’ll be pushing – and repeat! Happy days ….

So now, 48Hrs on, a new fuel filter (Ducati 42540101), fuel pump (Bosch 0580453427), ‘Zero Leak – Low Profile Ear Clamps’ and Caswells epoxy fuel tank sealer have been ordered to complement the spares on the shelf – large gasket, short section hose (filter to plate), corrugated fuel line (filter to pump) and wiring harness. Hopefully this little lot will keep the fuel tank in tip-top condition for many years to come!

New year, new domain!

Well it looks like 2018 is bringing in changes thick and fast … Not only are we relocating, but moto-abruzzo has also moved! The site has changed to a new domain (see above! 😀 ) but more importantly, it has had an upgrade in security – we’re now https instead of good old http. That simply means that any interaction you now have with the site is encrypted and secure, especially important with the expansion plans that I hope to roll out over the coming year. Meanwhile I’ve a lot of website-tweaking to do as some bits didn’t seem to survive the move too well ….. more midnight oil to burn!

Website upgrade

Not much to post at the moment folks. The Capo has been sitting quietly in the barn for three weeks while my right wrist had a complete meltdown. I’ve only been able to push a mouse or hold a pen for a couple of days, let alone think about riding a bike!

However one thing I have managed to do this week is upgrade the server-side thingumajig from PHP5.3 to PHP7 …….. is that tumbleweed that just wandered by? Yes I know, dull as dishwater – but it’s what ultimately puts my pages on your screen. So as a huge favour could I ask you folks to drop me a line if anything on the site doesn’t work or looks wrong, it would help speed up confirmation that the site is still all intact and not wobbling around waiting to croak at any second.

Oh and one last bit of good news – I have joined the Beta testers for the TuneECU app, which is fantastic and I feel very privileged. Thank you Alain! I can’t wait to see what marvels we have in store ……

And now the dust settles …..

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Yuasa YTX14H-BS batteryWith a hot brew to the left and a warm mouse to the right, I’m ready to reflect on the last ten days as the Capo sits outside soaking up the morning Abruzzo sun. After the hiccup at 138 miles the remainder of the 3,000 miles went perfectly, not one low-volt drama in sight. Mind you, that is with a new YTX14H-BS battery in the bike since last Thursday!

That same morning she’d sailed through her MOT with a clean sheet at 120,861 miles and now reads 122,135 miles at journeys end. Waiting in the panniers is a new Aprilia 150A starter solenoid (AP81129275) ordered online Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid starter solenoid 150A AP81129275from Aprilia performance (UK) and deliver in 48Hrs which is great service, also a beautifully made power/ground cable kit from John Walker who pulled out the stops to make sure the kit reached me before we departed for Europe. More on this later.

So on reflection, what next for the dear old Capo? Well I’ll install the solenoid and cables over the next week or so and dig out the rear wheel/sprocket carrier bearings and seals, since a dull drone can be heard from the back wheel at about 50-70mph – and is getting steadily louder. There’s Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid power/ground John Walker cable kitno play or sign of rust near the seal, but my guess is that one of the bearings is on the way out, so best do a touch of pre-emptive maintenance I think. 😀 

Highs and lows of the trip …… low, the DVSA. I can’t and don’t want to say anything on that front …… the high, yesterday afternoon, slicing through the late afternoon A14 traffic side by side with a new gen Caponord also two-up. We kept each other company for 20 minutes or so until he peeled off for Rimini, big smiles and waves all round! Great fun!!

And so, waffle over, without further adoo let the spanner twiddling begin! 😯 

MOTRAG cooking set and gas burner – 2.7Kw!!!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Motrag pot and burnerMaybe I’m a tight git or just a fussy bugger, but when I’m on the road I like a mug of tea (or coffee) my way – not some overpriced bucket of gut-wash served up at Costa-Bucks on almost every street corner and in every motorway services. If it’s a short trip I’ll take a flask, if it’s a biggie I take a Trangia … or at least I did!

I’ve been using a Trangia for donkeys years …. they’re reasonably compact, easy to set up and heat predictably although there is a definite knack to setting the flame adjuster if you don’t want cooked fingers as well. The wind shield does a good job and the whole thing is well planted and has a low center of gravity to keep it stable – in other words well designed.

So when Manuel at Motrag asked me to try out the cooking kit and gas burner he sells through his website I must admit to not being 100% enthusiastic. I like my Trangia. Anyway since last summer I’ve used his setup and have to admit (begrudgingly! 🙂 ) it does have some distinct advantages and to be fair the shortfallings are easy to work around.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Motrag gas burnerThe burner is a work of art! Very small and very powerful. Back to back tests between the gas burner and the pre-heated Trangia had the 0.6L kettle boiling in 4 minutes and 8 minutes respectively, so it certainly has some punch to it and of course using a gas canister is far less messy than using Methylated spirit. The gas canister and burner pack away into the two halves of the pot kit (2x pots – 0.4L & 0.8L) and this in turn packs away into a neat bag. Overall the Motrag kit is 155mm high x 125mm diameter – approx. 1.9L volume and weighs in at approx. 540g INCLUDING a full gas canister. In contrast the Trangia 27 (2 x 1L pots, 0.6L kettle & frying pan) is 100mm high x 185mm diameter – approx. 2.7L volume and 880g in weight EXCLUDING fuel, certainly making the Motrag set more pannier/top-box friendly if space is a premium.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Motrag gas burner and canisterWhat are the down-sides of the Motrag kit? well the gas canister is approx. 10cm diameter in comparison to the 18cm of the Trangia, also the height that the pan sits is 14.5cm in comparison to the Trangia’s 11.5 (lowest) making it more unstable and definitely needing firm level ground to work on. Add to this the fact that the Motrag burner is a small diameter with no support means that pans/kettle have to be placed very carefully or they fall/slide off the side – been there, done that! Finally the lack of a wind shield makes it awkward to use on a windy day – most days in Northern France it seems!

However there is a work around for both issues. Firstly it isn’t rocket science to design (and 3D print) a fold-way set of legs to hold the canister base and increase its stability, secondly a cunningly cut tin-can is used as a slide-down wind shield for the pots and seems to work just fine!

So …. bottom line, will I keep using it?

Yes definitely. For solo trips it suits me down to the ground, it’s compact, clean and neat. The burner is just absolutely awsome – I swear you could spit-roast a whole hog with it! 😀

However when two-up I think the added flexibility of the Trangia just pips it and so it’ll still be my stove of choice for those trips. What I really don’t like about my old Trangia is the residue where the raw aluminium rubs together – however they do a nice hard anodised (27-6HA) version with none-stick pan – luxury! So that’ll be on the shopping list this year I recon! 😀 

A huge thank you goes out to Manuel at Motrag for sending the kit for review – cheers fella!

Riding in France this year? Read on ………

As sure as I am that little Gnomes live at the bottom of my garden, it seems that with each passing year there are two things that will happen in France come the start of the holiday season. Air-traffic controllers will go on strike and a new or resurrected motoring law will be ‘policed’ with a view to catching out the unwary foreign motorist. If it isn’t Breathalysers, Day-Glow tabards, wearing gloves or reflective stickers on your helmet then you can guarantee it’ll be something else. This year it’s the ‘Crit’Air’ (emissions zone) sticker. Ever heard of it?

Nor had I until last week ….. but without it you’re in for a fine if you go into the center of Paris, Leon or Grenoble – the fine is currently €68 and applies to motorcycles foreign and domestic as well as cars,  trucks pay a whopping €138 fine. To get the sticker costs €4.80 and that includes postage. You need to visit the website and fill in details and supply a scanned copy (jpg, PDF etc.) of your registration document. Once payment was made I had a receipt within the hour and a certificate that allows me to enter these zones (without a fine) 24hrs later, meanwhile the sticker itself is presumably winging its way to me in the post.

Two points seem to come to mind here. This may seem irrelevant to you if you have no intention of entering any of these cities – that’s fine – however the word seems to be that this will spread to other towns/cities fairly quickly. Secondly, I really don’t like having to provide the French with my personal and bike details  ……. On what databases will this data end up and who will have access to it? Just makes me uncomfortable is all, then again handing over good hard-earned cash as a road-side ‘fine’ makes me even more uncomfortable! 😀 

Print me a Capo ……

Yesterday, on a rather cold and wet afternoon, moto-abruzzo took a step into the future ……. courtesy of a good friend that I’m doing a project for. A 3D printer arrived! And being the top man that he is, he’s cool about me printing off those odd little Caponord bits-n-bobs.

It was rapidly unpacked and Jan and I stood in awe at this little box of awesomeness, we oooo’d and aaaah’d in all the right places …. then it was time to fire the beast up. But first a good nights rest. Early the next morning I loaded up a model and hit the ‘MAKE!’ button. My heart pounded as it hummed, rumbled and whired into action. For an hour it beavered away – then stopped dead! In fact everything stopped – ANOTHER BLOODY POWER CUT! So on with the coat and off to buy a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) to keep computers and printers running when we get these annoying micro/mini power cuts that last no more than a second or two but mess everything up. Once installed I was away like a whippet on speed ……. by the end of the evening we Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid 3D printed speedometer sensor case AP8124985stood and marvelled at its first creation – A Mk1 speedo sensor case.

 Like any piece of kit it has a bit of a learning curve attached to it, but hey, that’s all part of the fun. Here’s a pic of the first printed Capo speedo sensor main case and cap. The holes print really well even at this resolution and tap to M3 no problem. The sensor is a nice snug fit and (thankfully!) it fits in the brake caliper carrier and even the bolt lines up which is nice! So overall – moving in the right direction. Now I just need to order a couple of sensors, some cable, rubber boots and Molex connectors and the jobs as good as done. Then I can change out the sensor on the bike, run it around for a while and see how the printed parts hold up to life on a motorcycle.

Why bother with all this?

Have a look at the cost of a replacement sensor from Aprilia (AP8124985) ….. currently £112 plus postage from Fowlers and Ultimateparts in the UK and €146 (approx. £127) from wendelmotorraeder in Germany. OK it’s much cheaper from AF1 at £65 but the postage is higher and you may well have customs duty to pay – all bumping up the cost.

So …….. IF (a big ‘IF’ mind you) it tests OK over a couple of months and possibly a small batch were to be made, would anyone be interested in an aftermarket Capo speedo sensor for half the price of an original?

Anyway, until then what’s next ……. hmmmm.

  • Hybrid velocity stacks – Caponord height with Futura diameter (51mm)
  • Hi-Flo airbox snorkel
  • Frame/axle/crash bar bungs (insects use the orifices as nesting sites!)
  •  ……. and maybe even a 1:5 scale model!! 😀 


One last long run before winter …….

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Metz StrasbourgAfter 22 days away on the Capo I returned with a little more than I bargained for, not least a crick in the neck and a stinking cold! On the way up I met Gianluigi at the Italian/Swiss border and talked some serious Capo bling for an hour. Then rode through sunshine, drizzle, rain and freezing fog before reaching Oxford. On the way back we were treated to high winds a stunning moon-rise and some amazing early morning scenes with low-lying mist. All in all, a real slice of what Europe/UK has to offer bikers this late in the season!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Oberon keyless fuel capThe original fuel cap was replaced with the Oberon keyless unit a few days after reaching Oxford …. it took about 10 minutes in all. It looks good, works fine and I’m no longer worrying about getting into the tank! That’s the only work done on the Capo for the whole trip – 3,000 miles – key-in, ride off. No drama, no breakdowns. In fact the last two original Sagem coils are still sparking just fine after 110,503 miles!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid FPE Seals clutch master cylinderWith the panniers emptied, it was a great opportunity to restock on spares for the workshop – front wheel bearings and seals (used the last set 9 years ago!) a clutch pushrod bearing (16004), clutch diaphragm and  a couple of sets of clutch master cylinder seal kits from FPE Seals Ltd. Service parts stock is now replenished with extra oil/air filters, a spare pack of DPR9EIX-9 Iridium spark plugs, red rubber grease and more Scottoil as I seem to be going through a couple of litres a year! A HUGE bag of stainless screws, nuts and washers from Jason helped balance out the panniers (cheers matey!) and last but not least, the remaining electronic parts to finish off the BMW Brake Light System (clone!) that was started in spring.

But undoubtedly the highlight of the pannier contents is the Innovv K1 dual channel Full HD camera kit. This has been loaned for review by Jim smith at AMI (Abbey Motorcycle Instructors) who should be fitting a second kit to one of his Instructor bikes over winter. I’m really looking forward to fitting this kit and putting it through its paces. In fact I’ve already been running the system on the workbench and making a comparison of video quality compared to the GoPro Hero 3+ and power draw etc ……. full review coming soon, watch this space!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid INNOVV K1 full HD dual channel camera kit