Ok, so many of my followers know me for the detailed tear down and rebuild reports that I have done on a couple of my bikes in the past, typically posted on forums, so why should this be any different?* Well, itíll be a little different in the fact that they will be published on my own web-site and then linked in many different areas of the internet to ensure I reach out to everyone that might be interested.* Just when you thought I was sat on a beach chilling somewhere in Peru...Ö.
So, where did it all start, well Iíve owned my 450RR since February 2012 and itís done many days as well as the 2012 UK Rally Challenge series and the World Cross Country Rally in Sardinia so itís fair to say that itíd done quite a bit.* From thisÖ.
......a 2012 450RR with over 8000 miles on it and quite a beating to say the least.* So, what would I have to do to get it where it needed to be for the Dakar, the answer, quite simply was to rebuild it from the ground up, every single nut, bolt, fastener and part would be stripped, cleaned, inspected and replaced if required. This process started just 4 weeks before the bikes were due in Le Havre so I had to look sharp about it.* Oh, did I also mention that I still had my foot in a cast so I was hopping around the bike in the garage doing all of this.
The starting point was to list everything that I needed to do with the bike before stripping it down, for exampleÖ.
1)***** Figure out where everything was going to go, tools etc.
2)***** Estimate the weight of the bike so I could get the correct springs ordered
3)***** Make sure all my spare / replacement parts were ready to be installed in the instance that they were required, fairings and fenders etc.
4)***** Measure the correct length of throttle cable I would need in order to work with the bars and risers I was planning to use for the Dakar.* Iíd been struggling with a short throttle cable all year and was determined to get this fixed.
5)***** Many more things, Iíve probably forgotten to mention.
So, it soon became apparent that when I got my list of spare parts and tools I wanted to carry on the bike together, there was just not enough space to carry them all.* Sure, if you are going to win you want to travel light but if you are going to give yourself the best chance of finishing the race, you have to carry quite a few spares and tools so that you can pretty much fix anything. *There was just not enough space so I contacted Kriega (one of my sponsors) to help knock something together that would work and give me some options for the race.
I asked for a couple of strong, rigidly mounted navigation tower bags that were water resistant, easy to access and elasticated tight so that everything inside did not rattle about like tools in a tool box.* In addition to this, for light weight things like flares etc, I wanted the option of a small, low profile rear render pack.* With this in mind, I emailed Dom a few fag packed sketches and he knocked up the moch-up versions pretty quickly to try on the bike.* This is something like what we were both thinking but tweaks had to be made so they went back to the factory for more work.* They would however be here in time for the Dakar as a completed version so Iíll report on those later.
Next up was to get the new and spare fairings sorted.* The original faring that came with the bike was a little bit worse for wear.* It saw a major tumble in Sardinia and had quite a bit of the UK thrown at it over the year so I need new ones.* At £1500+ a fairing to go with the factory Carbon Kevlar ones, I decided to go with fibre glass replicas, this way I could have three for the price of one and take a spare with me ready to install.* The replica fairings are one piece unlike the three piece factory fairings.* Sure, they need a little trimming and holes drilling when you get them but they are an exact copy and only weight a few grams more than the stockers.* For my challenge, they fit the bill, reasonable and purposeful.* Here is Dad preparing the new fairings.
So, with all those essential pre-strip elements done, the final thing to do was to strip the bike.* Without going into too much detail here, this pretty much involved a couple of hours for me and my dad to tear it down, every nut and bolt.* I wanted my dad to be there, with him being my mechanic for the Dakar it was essential that he knew the 450RR inside out and this was going to assist that no end.
Knowing the bike was going to be re-sprayed in the inevitable blue-print colours, we needed to choose the right pantones for the colours so that the paint matched the stickers and my gear etc.* I thought this would be easy but literally there are thousands so it took quite a bit of comparing and discussion before the deal was done.* Pantone blue 072 C was the choiceÖ.done, not get on and paint it.
Iíd also decided that black looks a lot cooler than silver so I was going to have most of the silver anodised parts on the bike changed to black, just to further personalise the bike a little.* Swing arm, engine hangers, foot rest hangers, foot rests and a few other parts that were looking a bit worse for wear were all sent off to be made black. *This involved stripping them completely, even removing bearings and bushes to avoid any contamination.* Bearings and bushes all had to be inspected anyway so it was really just part of the process. *I also had some damage to repair on the swing arm from where the exhaust had been chaffing on it. *This problem has now been fixed and more on that will be shown in a later post.
So, with the bike fully stripped, all the parts needing paint or treatment loaded up and shipped off, I was left with a mammoth task of clean, inspect, rebuild or replace every last little bit.* Oh, and I had to have a few days off as I got my eyes operated on in between all of this work.* Eye operation dayÖ.bed!
Once the eyes were good enough to return to the garage, I fitted a good pair of 3M safety specs and continued with the rebuild.* Next thing on the list before the parts returned from paint was to get the engine squared away.* This was a huge choice, deciding what to do with the engine to give myself the best possible chance of finishing the race.* The engine thatíd been in the bike all year had done quite a bit, including ingesting a load of dirty water at the Ryedale Rally in the UK.* Sure, I had recovered it from that situation but still, it had a lot of hours and miles on it.* I could have rebuilt the entire engine but the complete list of parts for the rebuild was going to be over £2500 (assuming Iíd replace the rod-kit, piston, rings and all the bearings and lifed components in the motor). In addition to this, I was really happy with its performance and reliability so far so I was happy it would make a good spare motor.* In the 8000 miles that Iíve done with it, Iíve only had to adjust one valve shim 0.04mm.* They are pretty sturdy units.
So, it was a tough decision, especially at £5000+20% tax each but I decided to fit a brand new engine, straight from the factory and just freshen up the top end on my original motor and take that as my spare engine.* I figured this would give me the best possible engine for the race (brand new) and also have a good and well tested engine as a spare.* You really need a spare engine anyway, in case anything happens like a gearbox problem, or you see signs of debris in the oil that you donít like and you need to replace it one evening.* So, knowing you need a spare anyway, it lessens the blow a little and I feel comfortable with the decision that I took to go with the new one for the race and a freshened up used one as a back-up.
Time was also a small factor in the engine choice.* I would have really liked to have rebuilt my original engine as my race engine and done some work on the motor too to help it breathe a little bet a push a few more ponies but this year really has been the busiest of my like and to tune an engine properly required time and dedication Ė this is probably something for after Dakar.* Sure, this would have been great but without good testing time, tuning an engine right before a race as big as this is not a good place to be.* Standard is good enough and thatís what Iíll be going with.
The two pictures below were taken as I got both engines up on the bench and was doing the final valve check on the spare motor and the initial Ďjust out of the boxí valve check on the new motor.* I would check the valves again after a few hours of running;* just to make sure they are settled and the clearances are set at their optimum for longevity.* Intakes on the large side of the tolerance exhaust on the tighter side of the tolerance.* This is from my experience with these motors that the intakes tighten up as the valves bed into the seats and the exhausts tend to loosen off as the carbon deposits on the valve and seat.
Spare engine crate built and engine installed ready for it's trip to South America.
With the engine done, it was time for some bone cell enhancement treatment on my foot so off I went to see Brian Simpson for another stint of therapy.* All in the interest of getting the foot recovered in time for the race.
With the heart of the build (the frame) returned from the paint shop first (it was given priority #1) and the silver parts returned from the powder coater now black.* Thanks to Mark from Guard-It Technology for pulling off the powder coating in just two days. Mark makes all the bash plates for Adventure ĖSpec.com. It was now time to start building up the bike.* First thing first was the rebuild the swing arm with all its bearings and linkage.* I knew this inside out as Iíd already rebuilt and greased the linkage a couple of times throughout the season.* The UKís mud and water is renowned for making its way into those needle roller bearings and playing havoc with them.* Sure enough, there w evidence of water in there but I use a water proof grease to prevent it being washed out.* As a result, I just popped them all out, washed everything thoroughly in the parts washer and reinstalled them all with fresh water proof grease and new seals. All the pins were cleaned thoroughly greased and re-installed and everything torqued up to the correct specifications.* Rebuilding the shock linkage and swing arm pivot assembly on this bike is a good few hours to get it done right.* Itís a complicated assembly and is one of the first things to be installed on a rebuild.
Anyone who has done this on a 690 (same linkage) will know that itís a pig of a job as the swing arm pivot holds the engine, mainframe and footrest hangers all together.* Quite literally, when you remove the swing arm pivot, the whole bike falls apart!* Needless to say, Dad and I manufactured some pretty neat little adapters, pins and a stand to facilitate a much simpler engine change or swing arm removal should it be required during the race.
The rear brake assembly was all installed after cleaning and inspection, complete with fresh brake fluid and pads.
The swing arm also got a full set of new rubber chain sliders and guides.
Now the fresh black engine hangers were rebuilt with new bushes and spacers and prepared for the engine install. Before I sent the engine hangers away for powder coating, I had noted a few places where they were chaffing on important oil lines etc.* I had marked these and modified less structural areas to allow the oil lines and wires to pass without chaffing on the hangers, an essential mod for a rally machine in my eyes.
Increased space for oil line to pass through without chaffing.
Now with the frame, engine, swing arm and linkage all lined up, the main swing arm pin was inserted to kick-off the build of the bike.
On the Rally bikes, the footrests are wider and as a result the factory fit a longer perch to the rear brake lever.* A couple of instances occurred throughout the year where my foot would operate the rear brake when I did not want it to, each occasion with bad results.* As a result, I fitted a smaller perch to prevent this from happening.* I also fitted a complete new lever assembly and gear shift lever to reduce the chance of fatigue failures that I have experienced on my 950 Adventure.
With the engine all bolted up and hung in place, it was time to fit the rear shock.* To do this, first the upper mounts have to be installed and torqued into position in the main frame.
My suspension for 2012 and for the Dakar has all been prepared by Chris Byron at On-Track Racing in the UK.* Chris has also been kind enough to offer all my supporters who have purchased support packages from me 10% off their suspension work which many of you have already taken advantage of.* Chris has worked my shock and forks a number of times throughout the year but Iíve typically been running a bike with just a few gallons of fuel in and limited spares and tools.* This makes a huge difference to the weight of the bike so where I have been running 4.8N/mm front fork springs and a 8.0N/mm rear shock spring for the UK rounds, I ran 5.0N/mm fork springs and 8.2N/mm rear spring for World Round in Sardina, for the Dakar I will be running 5.4N/mm front springs and 8.8N/mm rear shock spring for the Dakar.* For Dakar, this is all calculated on the weight of the bike with half full fuel tanks, water, bladder and riding gear and tools / spares on-board.* Sure enough it will be a slightly different animal to ride with the additional weight but compared to the 950, itíll still seem like a baby.* Having the right spring rates for the job is essential.
Changing the shock spring:
To be continued!