~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Burning: Moto-lust and Otherwise

Aprilia Futura RST 1000. Moto-lust, oh yes

BMW R 1200 ST. German techno cool

This is the longest I've gone without making a post since I started 40on2 last summer. There are reasons for that or maybe excuses but mostly I'm just really feeling the effects of the long Arizona summer. My work keeps me outside a lot in the summer and we've had more 110+ degree days this year than in a very long time. I'm feeling the heat down to my bones the way winter cold chills you northerners to the bone after about three months.

I've not been out on the Aprilia much in the last two months, once to the dealer to get it's 10k service and once just because I HAD to get out before I went bug-eyed from not riding. It was a chilly 105 degrees just before sunset so I decided that was as good a time as any.

Since the 10k service the bike has been running superbly with the low speed, off throttle response very crisp and clean finally. The dealer set the O2 a little higher than zero this time and installed the latest ECU mapping for the Capo and it pulls cleanly to redline in every gear. Read what you will into that.

Despite the heat and non-riding I'm getting semi-serious about buying a second bike. Saturday I'll be visiting a couple of dealers to see if I slip over the edge from temptation to ownership for the 39th time. Bikes under consideration are the BMW R1200ST and the Aprilia Futura.

What I should get what with my aches and pains and advancing age is a Goldwing but I'm not quite that far gone as yet. What I'm looking for is something interesting that can gobble up a lot of miles with a minimum of fuss or fatigue. The R1200ST seems like the techno hot ticket but costs about 50% more than the Futura so it may just come down to money. There are limits to finances even for famous moto-bloggers. ahem..

Common sense dictates that I should just spend $8200 and get another Kawasaki Concours but part of the mandate is that the bike be interesting. I loved my Concours, it was a very competent motorcycle that gobbled miles with a minimum of fuss but it wasn't interesting enough to make me burn with passion for another one. Burning with moto-lust seems to be one of my few pleasures these days as I burn in the sun at work.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Aprilia Caponord: On the Hot Seat

It's summer in beautiful Arizona (or most anywhere that sun shines hot). You ride your bike somewhere, stop for a leisurely lunch and leave your bike parked under the bright sunshine where you can admire it through the window of the air conditioned cafe as you munch your lunch. After lunch, thoroughly satiated by a good burger and an ice tea, you walk out, start the bike, plop your bottom on the seat and "Yeeeyowwwwieeeeeee!!" Hot crossed buns for dessert. Unless you only ride in winter you've had this happen to you and here in Arizona it's just part of the normal fun of riding in warm weather.

As noted in the previous post I brought home a FLIR thermocamera to work on a test fixture and while I was at it made some images of my '02 Aprilia Caponord setting in the sun. It was about 98° - 100° F outside. Initially I was interested in the engine area but also recorded some images of the seat and then tossed my sheepskin cover on it, let it set for awhile and made new images so I could compare the seat surface temps with and without the "Sheepskin Buttpad" I bought from Alaska Leather Company.

Here's the visual image of the seat without the cover and with (wish I'd have bought the black one):

Here's the infrared camera view of the seat without the sheepskin cover:

The white area on the seat is 177°F. Tell me that won't hurt for a minute when you snuggle up against it.

Predictably the sheepskin cover was a bunch cooler than the bare black vinyl seat cover but the amount was interesting and confirms semi-scientifically what sheepskin seat cover users know already.

The hottest part of the sheepskin cover is approximately 137°F, 40° cooler than the bare vinyl, still plenty warm but because of the low mass of the sheep fur the heat doesn't really bite the way the bare vinyl cover does.

For what it's worth: Research with vehicle interiors shows that some bare leather seats left in the sun on a 110° day (say as iconvertibleable with the top down) can reach 240° in some areas. I have no doubt that if I'd left that Capo outside all day long at just the right angle the seat temp would have touched 200°F in some areas. Besides being hard on your bum, those are the kinds of temperatures that ruin expensive seats.

The stock Capo seat is not real comfortable for more than about 100 miles and since I added the sheepskin cover I've rolled up days past 300 miles without undo suffering. The fact that my bum doesn't get roasted each time I hop back on the bike after a fuel or rest stop surely must add to the comfort factor.

Someone pointed out on a motorcycle forum a while back that you could always spot and old guy's bike by the sheepskin seat cover. I laughed when I read that and it may be true but that's because after riding a couple of decades you learn to value comfort more than style. When you're 6 hours into a day and you do not have a serious case of monkey butt in your jeans you don't give a hang about style.

Worth noting: The Alaska Leather Company is owned and run by motorcyclists and doing business with them was a breeze. If you want a bit more comfort on your next long ride give them a call and spring for the sheepskin. It's genuine old fahrt tested and approved.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Aprilia Caponord: Hot & Cold

The water temp gauge on a bike tells you how hot the engine coolant is but what about the rest of the bike? How hot does the gas tank get? The bodywork? The seat cover on a hot summer day? All are warm to some degree and therefore are emitting infrared energy. "Gosh, Mr. Science..."

No doubt you've often wondered what your bike looks like in the infrared portion of the spectrum. OK, probably not. Humans cannot see infrared energy which is in essence what we call heat or at least some of it is heat if there's enough of it in the right wavelength. Yes, I know you can see the coils glowing on radiant heaters and other sorts of hot stuff glow also. We're talking about seeing low heat here (below 500°F) and temperature differences at low levels. If you can see how hot the body panels are on your bike you've got a serious problem in the works.

So if you want to "see" heat at low temperatures you need an infrared camera and it just so happens I have one at work. It's made by FLIR (same FLIR that makes thermal imaging goodies for fighter jets an such) and can in a single image measure over 70,000 temperature points and turn the temperature levels into pretty colors and those into an image that we can see with our own eyes. Cool. Or hot. I'll spare you the techie stuff about how it's done, it's tedious and involves math that I don't really understand myself; I just use the camera to do research on heat propagation through vehicle interiors and yes, that's every bit as exciting as it sounds. Zzzzzzz.

So I brought the IR (infrared) camera home to do a bit of work here on a test fixture and decided to make some heat images of the Caponord when it was sitting outside "cold" and then after it had been started and allowed to idle up to operating temperature of 168°F.

Below is the Caponord cold. It's Arizona in the summer and the air temp according to the thermometer on the Capo is a balmy 98°F.

In the visible light portion of the spectrum it looks like this:

The heat image (depending on what color palette you chose for the camera) looks like this:

Just out of the garage an into the Arizona summer sun.
Note which part got warmed up first even with the engine off.

The temp scale on the right of the image is in Celsius because that's what I normally work in temp unit wise. 60°C = 140°F just to give you an idea.
From an correct analysis standpoint to read the temps on the bike accurately you would have to know the emissivity of each material in the image and a few other details too. For our purposes here just assume the temps indicated are within about 2 - 5 degrees of accurate. This was fun in my driveway, not a NASA project, folks.
By the way, the aluminum frame spars and brake rotors appear to be cold because the angles and the highly reflective surfaces to some degree reflect "the sky" which is very cold or surrounding temps. No, not the air, the sky...different thing there...outer space as it were but not quite. Never mind. Just enjoy the pretty colors.
Here's the Capo after it has fully warmed up:

Engine coolant temp is 168°F at this point
The temps for the exhaust header pipes and sky are way off the scale hot & cold because the camera is set for vehicle interior temps and not engine type temps or outer space. Even the seat surface is past 60°C. More on that later. Note in the image the heat from the radiator coming through the body panel below the gas tank and the heat of the engine warming the concrete driveway. The camera, by the way, has a temperature sensitivity of as little a .07°C so it's possible to pick out some minute temperature differentials with the FLIR analysis software.

With the FLIR software you can look at specific points and areas in an image and figure out all kinds of interesting things about temperature movement and levels that most bike companies choose not to know or at least care much about. How do I know they chose not to know that stuff?  Because I've owned enough bikes that roast legs when idling and sometimes even when riding to know that no one bothered to test for heat issues as a consideration of rider or passenger comfort. I've heard that Yamaha's sport touring FJ1300 is a leg warmer. The Caponord is a bit too but not enough to be a bother. My old Yamaha 550 Vision was the all time worst here in Arizona. Just riding home from work on the Vision was enough to leave you stunned and dizzy and with 1st degree burns on your inner thighs.

I made a few more images of the Caponord and I'll post them next week for your interest and edification. They will be slightly more useful than the above two but not as picturesque.

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"When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour." - T.E. Lawrence

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