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Old 10-15-2009, 04:35 PM   #1
Uncle Mike OP
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The adoption of a funky rat

Hi everyone, I am Mike from Sweden.

Up here we are rapidly moving from late autumn to winter which means shortening days, freezing nights and roads covered by colorful, but slippery leaves. Snow could be falling any day and most riders have stored their bikes for the standard six month utterly depressive hibernation. So I decided this was a good time to get a new bike

I had recently sold my 140+ hp Fazer 1000 which had been a great bike.



Powerful, acceptable suspension and superb brakes. Just mounting the saddle made you grow huge horns under the helmet that obliterated all understanding of speed limits. I took it to a track-day and we had a blast. We toured the city and zig zaged between the daily commuter chaos. We tried the local curvy roads but, after a while, I longed for more flexibility and sold it off. Here´s a short clip of us touring the town this summer.






The decision to change was helped along by the nephews having gotten shiny German beasts that could eat gravel. I also wanted one of those but my budget runs on a different scale. I spent several nights scanning ads for anything within my winter budget. I had almost given up as the days kept getting shorter when I spotted an ad that had “nice pics” and a inviting price. Called the owner who turned out to be in Norway and slashed the price from low to lower. He was obviously desperate. I was desperate too. Done deal, and I boarded the train to Norway to pick it up.



Checked out a street mag on the train from Stockholm to Oslo, while the landscape zipped by. Scandinavia is not heavily populated so there are long stretches of mostly trees and deserted rural landscape between the towns.



Changed to a local train in Oslo and headed off to a remote suburb. Not many people on that train...



Blind-dating is lottery and I spent my time on that train telling myself the “nice pics” would come true. The owner picked me up at the station, chatted about everything except bikes on the way to his home, and introduced me to my new bike.

I couldn't help but chuckle at the 18 year old thumper with the beauty-box white Samsonite-styled panniers, hand painted fairing and faded glossy seat.



Looks a better on pic than in reality – don´t they all? Anyway, I thought it was pretty cool. It is essentially a rat so I won´t be calling it a she or a he. It's an it.

"Want to try it?" I didn't spot any leaks and here I was, having crossed the country on a whim and the day was coming to an end.. "Naw."

So we rushed the paperwork and I packed the boxes and jumped aboard. Managed to get it started by manhandling the rusty choke wire and tried the clutch.

WTF? The bike was slowly sputtering awake from cold sleep but what was up with the clutch?

“It´s a bit stiff” he yelled. “Just give it a good yank.” Right. I finally got a gear in and off we went. During the next 2 days I would yank that clutch with my whole body weight making me wobble over the road at every gear.

The rat has wide and lowered foot pegs (which are wonderful) but the standard foot brake lever remains way too high even when adjusted.



You can´t see it in the pic but the pedal is so much higher than the foot peg that it defeats any human ankle and braking demands a total lifting of the leg and dosage with a hovering foot.

It also turned out to have a serious case of wheezy cough putting it asleep at every slowing opportunity no matter how hard you try to keep it thumping. It doesn't just miss a beat. It goes into a coma. Together with the clutch and the foot brake thing, dropping into towns and red lights was pretty interesting. Don´t ask about the front brake. Let´s just say I wasn't using it. The frame felt ok though, without any major wobbles, and we were on our way home.

Norway has great roads for bikers of all kinds and magnificent vistas, although most of the fancy stuff is on the western side. We were heading east and back to Sweden.



From time to time, it would sputter asleep and I would take that as a sign to snap shots of where we were.



The eastern part of Norway seems to be a lot about farming and the farms probably look like farms in many other places.



We rattled along and if it hadn't been for the cold we would have been having a great time. I stopped to change to winter gloves and noticed that somewhere along the way it decided to shed some parts.



If it had been a she I would have called her a cantankerous bitch.
But it's an it. A rat, and being clunky and dropping parts is what aging bikes sometimes do.
As it was, me and the funky rat were getting along ok.

After some time we reached the Swedish border.



We kept going with frequent stops since the cold was really biting. Why had I not brought the inner liners? Mandatory bike nourishment and hot coffee helped bring some color back into my frozen hands.



I gave up on the outskirts of the city Karlstad and found a cheap hotel for the night and treated myself to some celebration over the day's events. All in all, I was liking the bike.


Uncle Mike screwed with this post 02-16-2013 at 01:28 PM
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Old 10-15-2009, 10:17 PM   #2
panzerrocket
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Congratulations with your new bike.
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Old 10-15-2009, 10:26 PM   #3
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Old 10-16-2009, 03:54 AM   #4
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Let the unpaved road explorations begin, we'll be looking for your reports in the spring showing us Sweden's back country
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Old 10-16-2009, 02:23 PM   #5
Uncle Mike OP
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Woke up the next day and realized why the hotel had been so cheap. We were just west of the city of Karlstad and the paper mills had us surrounded with industrial chimneys and sulfurous, farty fumes.


The morning was cloudy and cold, ...and smelly. We were just limping home and not out on a real adventure, but I just had to scribble the ADV on the frosty saddle like I have seen here in so many other posts


The bike started up just fine with minimal fuss and off we went again. Since it had a number of issues, my main objective was to nurse it home and give it a look-over, so we stayed on the roads at a leisurely pace. After a while, the bike decided to loose another part. This time a little screw on the band that keeps one of the coolant tubes in place.



Such a small and simple problem, but it really showed the inadequacy of the tools I had brought What had I been thinking? A kingdom for a screw, or some wire, or even tape! Ah, what the heck. We had been oozing coolant for a long stretch because the bike was dry. Couldn't hurt to chug along onto the next gas station. About 20 kilometers later we turned into a station only to discover it had shut down. The bike would have to go thirsty a while longer





The Tenere 660 has the same water cooled engine as used today on the Xt660. It will do ok even if dry for quite a distance if the weather is cold and you take it easy with stops to let heat spread more evenly. I could have peed in the radiator but it wasn´t like we were in a desert and dying. And anyway, it would just have passed through. A bit further down the road we found a shopping centre and got ourselves fixed. I filled it up and parked it outside a Wayne's so we could see each other and truly bond while I filled myself with another coffee.








The mall was a weird place, almost seemed like we were the only customers.



The rest was uneventful, the bike sputtered along and we made it home just fine. I parked it overlooking the house and did a quick check. No engine leaks, no oil drips.




Introductions to the neighborhood would have to wait until another day.
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Old 10-16-2009, 03:08 PM   #6
Rhino-1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Mike
Woke up the next day and realized why the hotel had been so cheap. We were just west of the city of Karlstad and the paper mills had us surrounded with industrial chimneys and sulfurous, farty fumes.


The morning was cloudy and cold, ...and smelly. We were just limping home and not out on a real adventure, but I just had to scribble the ADV on the frosty saddle like I have seen here in so many other posts


The bike started up just fine with minimal fuss and off we went again. Since it had a number of issues, my main objective was to nurse it home and give it a look-over, so we stayed on the roads at a leisurely pace. After a while, the bike decided to loose another part. This time a little screw on the band that keeps one of the coolant tubes in place.



Such a small and simple problem, but it really showed the inadequacy of the tools I had brought What had I been thinking? A kingdom for a screw, or some wire, or even tape! Ah, what the heck. We had been oozing coolant for a long stretch because the bike was dry. Couldn't hurt to chug along onto the next gas station. About 20 kilometers later we turned into a station only to discover it had shut down. The bike would have to go thirsty a while longer





The Tenere 660 has the same water cooled engine as used today on the Xt660. It will do ok even if dry for quite a distance if the weather is cold and you take it easy with stops to let heat spread more evenly. I could have peed in the radiator but it wasn´t like we were in a desert and dying. And anyway, it would just have passed through. A bit further down the road we found a shopping centre and got ourselves fixed. I filled it up and parked it outside a Wayne's so we could see each other and truly bond while I filled myself with another coffee.








The mall was a weird place, almost seemed like we were the only customers.



The rest was uneventful, the bike sputtered along and we made it home just fine. I parked it overlooking the house and did a quick check. No engine leaks, no oil drips.




Introductions to the neighborhood would have to wait until another day.
Cool acquisition story! I so love "fly 'n rides!" I just picked up my BRP XRR in the same fashion....
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Old 10-16-2009, 08:52 PM   #7
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Hmmm. Seems to me like you could have ekpt the Fazer AND the thumper. I think this is a result of Socialized Medicine...
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Old 10-17-2009, 04:08 AM   #8
Edmond Dantès
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Quote:
Hmmm. Seems to me like you could have ekpt the Fazer AND the thumper. I think this is a result of Socialized Medicine...


Uncle Mike, yes, I know that you want some off road ability in a bike, but I feel that you are going to miss that 140+hp Fazer when the spring summer time rolls around and you want to ramble on.

Yes, Autumn leaves are falling all around
It's time the FZ1 was on its way
I met a Tenere so fair
But Golem, the evil one
Put only 40hp in her, yeah!

Edmond Dantès screwed with this post 10-17-2009 at 05:44 AM
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Old 10-17-2009, 04:28 AM   #9
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Bring it on.
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Old 10-17-2009, 10:29 AM   #10
Horton
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Great RR.

A week ago I have to travel from Göteborg to Borlänge.




By car.


A wonderfull country


I have to come back some autum. . .
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Old 10-19-2009, 05:15 PM   #11
Uncle Mike OP
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Hi Horton. While Sweden has a ban on offroad driving (sort of like Germany) we do have massive amounts of gravel logging roads. Not much to see perhaps except pine trees but you can easily run a couple of days on gravel only. The area around Borlänge has lots of good roads. As does the northern regions.

--------------

It´s been a couple of days now and I have been touring the rat around the sights. Thankful for having brought me home from Norway I decided to decorate it with a ADV sticker. I thought the Stockholm City Hall and a urban culture tag was a suitable background for the ceremony. It can socialize, but may not want to fit in. Anyway, I took the sunny weather as a good omen.




This is on the other side of the Old Town district. The ship is af Chapman, which is now a tourist hostel. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Af_Chapman


I live a bit outside Stockholm so we have a few gravel roads in the neighborhood. I have owned a couple of dual sports but mostly ran them as urban bikes and am a noob at dirt riding. The local gravel felt pretty good though after I let some air out of the tubes.


The rat is a good poser.


Joining the German beasts, the rat sort of parked itself a bit off.


Every so often, this bike likes to go its own way and getting it to obey can sometimes be... bewildering. Robin who normally runs the f800gs, tries a maneuver.


We found some wet forest roads and got beaten by the nephews and their ubertech. Robin with the f800gs and David with the 1200gs. Me and the rat, we tried to keep a dignified stance.


I exchanged the old pedal for one reworked to match the lowered footpegs.


So, having normal footbrake, we decided to check out a sand quarry that gets used a lot by dirtriders.




It was... interesting, with the sandy gravel and large rocks doing their best to topple us. The rat seems to specifically target the largest rocks at the wrong moment. Lot´s of fun and we made it without falling down. I need to practice this a lot more.


We also hit what I now see as our private racetrack. It's a small rock quarry with a oval water basin in the middle. It might be 70-80 meters in length. Around it, a track of loose gravel and some ridges and potholes makes the perfect setting for catch-up races when you start opposite each other. The rat was like an old Buick and bounced around like wiggling jelly while trying to tear up some tracks. I was on my way off the track several times which got the adrenalin pumping. Note to self: look at the track not the mirror.


Robin on the f800gs caught us every time but I think we did pretty good and didn't fall. It was great fun and a fitting conclusion of the adoption rites of the Rat.
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Old 10-20-2009, 04:28 PM   #12
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lol i need to go to that gravel pit and get some more dirt on the 12gs
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Old 10-20-2009, 08:38 PM   #13
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Nice job - cool 'rat'
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Old 06-08-2010, 03:57 PM   #14
Uncle Mike OP
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2010. Another season is under way. We have been on a couple of rides and continue to have fun, test each other, and sometimes find it impossible to agree even on simple matters. At the end of the day though, like two old friends, our squabbles are forgotten and we support each other as we limp back to home for whatever servicing we need. No friendship is ever equally balanced though and I often find that the bike keeps being the one getting most of the attention.




I can live with that as long as it takes me where I want.

On our latest trip with the nephews The Rat and I had many great experiences but also many disagreements. As usual, the bike sometimes decided on directions contrary to my own ideas with the usual outcome.



During 4 days we had 2 visits to gutters, 2 lowside dumps, 1 somewhat extreme but incomplete highside tango back-and-forth on tarmac to the great enoyment of Noyah who followed us.

I accept the blame for the idea.. it seemed good at the time. The pavement was wet and we were in a roundabout and I felt we didn´t have much grip so I went "Hey.. we are almost sliding.. on knobbies, but like motard.. awesome.. so if we gas it up some more maybe we can slide through this here curve for real!"

It worked for half a sec on the squared knobbies until the still fresh edges of the tyre got Grip and sent us bouncing back and forth. Highsiders are interesting because they sort of replicate an irritated horse trying to buck you off, sideways

If you get one, the trick to survival is don´t do anything. Don´t brake, clutch, disengage gas or try to fight it because you will only make it worse. Keep the same throttle and it should work itself off unless you get one at very high speed as on a racetrack which will send both you and the bike on a flight.

We had other issues too but what matters is the bike still works and got me home this time too.

Just before this last trip though the seat cover started a mysterious conversion into glue. Seriously, in all y bikes I have never seen this. Sure, the vinyl cover is worn down but instead of being super slippery like it was before, it has now become more flexible and is sweating, what I can only call glue. It even transfers to the pants. I have tried every cleaning method, idea and liquid but the problem persists. If anyone has a tip what might be disolving the vinyl, feel free to comment.

The problem needed a solution. During our last trip the only thing that somewhat alleviated the problem was rubbing the seat with dirt I have a really tight bike budget so I rummaged forth a waxed table cloth, you know, the kind you put on the picnic table. The design didn´t really match but it might work as a seat cover and protect from the glue that was wreckning my relationship with The Rat.



At first we tried the blanket-on-a-horse model. Looked great but Ecce the nephew thought it wouldn´t be any good on the fast roads. In the end I simply covered the existing vinyl, by measuring, taping it, cutting and ultimately stapling it on.



Waxcloth is pretty flimsy so we will have to see how long it lasts. One thing is for sure though. It beats the glue which I actually had to strain to get up off. Every time I wanted to stand and ride required a conscious effort and planning "One.. two.. three.. heave!"

The additional wax cloth bonus.. I am pretty sure we are the only ones with this flower power saddle design this year.



As soon as I tried it, I knew I wanted to ride again. And the bike.. well, it is The Funky Rat for now.

Uncle Mike screwed with this post 06-08-2010 at 04:06 PM
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Old 06-09-2010, 08:48 PM   #15
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Thats awesome! That seat cover is pimp too!
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