Jul 13, 2009

All Dressed Up, Need Someplace to Go

When I was in Nova Scotia last summer, a card table full of old men at a campground were telling Hardly jokes (once they figured out I wasn't riding a Harley) to pass the time during a week-long rainstorm. The only one I remember was, "How are a Laborador dog and a Harley Davidson motorcycle alike? They both like to ride in the back of a 3/4 ton pickup truck and drool."

I have my Sherpa up and working again, after the countershaft seal catestrophe, but it now drools like a Hardly. I replaced the seal, twice, and the o-ring, once, and it's not leaking enough to be able to tell if it's the seal or the o-ring, but every morning there is a spot of oil below the countershaft sprocket. I can't see any sign that I'm losing oil at any dangerous rate, after 100 miles post repair, but I'm obviously losing oil, a drop at a time.

Yeah, I know, all the color-uncoordinated parts make the bike look like it just escaped from a salvage yard. More evidence that I will never develop a sense of style. You should be impressed that I even notice the color clashes at all. Two decades ago, I would have ignored any such comments as "gay eye for the straight guy" piffle. Now that I think about it, I don't feel much different today. I like the way the bike looks. It's obviously mine.

That aside, I'm really regretting not having been able to take the Sherpa to North Dakota. My new seat design is painless for at least a couple of hours on the road between breaks. The larger pegs make standing for extended periods much more comfortable. The luggage works and I can easily carry enough gear for a week camping trip. The 15 tooth sprocket makes crusing at two-lane speeds comfortable (freeway speeds are still a little hectic) and I can still get over logs and rocks without too much bar-yanking. The bike cruises comfortably at about 60-65mph, where the stock sprocket made the engine seem more strained at that speed. On the other hand, acceloration in 6th gear is pretty lame. The new Bridgestone DP tires work well on and off-road. The 3.2 gallon tank gets me at least 250 miles between filling stations. Changing the fork oil to a synthetic mixed for around 16 weight instead of 10 (mfg's recommendation) makes the compression damping rate a little stiff, but the rebound feels much better on really rough terrain, especially when I'm loaded with gear.

With all the luggage space, this is the cool way to travel around town. I can haul a pretty decent grocery trip in all three bags, even without expanding the MotoFizz. I never have to worry about finding a parking place. On a brief trip downtown to school last week, I hopped the curb, rode up the school's stairs, and parked next to the bicycles. If I'd have been there longer, someone would have complained, but I wasn't. Saved myself $0.75 and had fun doing it.

I gotta find someplace to go on the little guy to justify all that work this spring. I'll probably carry a seal and o-ring and a quart of oil with me, just in case. Once burned . . .

1 comment:

  1. Hey Tom,

    Thanks for the update. I hope you don't hold me accountable for the leaking countershaft seal.

    I like your sense of style. My old 79 Citreon use to look and behave as your sherpa. My friends in Israel used to say I am an environmental hazard for the puddles I used to leave wherever I parked. The car was blue with a brown-red front side panel.

    I am on the third d/s bike since the sherpa. I had the DR350 for 2 years and did a big trip to Mexico on it in the winter of 08. Now I own a DRZ400S. I still miss the Sherpa. It is the perfect winter bike.


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