Essential Airhead fixes for South America

Discussion in 'Airheads' started by Airhead Wrangler, Apr 22, 2008.

  1. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

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    OK, I know there's another airhead RTW prep thread going right now, but I'm not out to build the ultimate offroad battle bike. I'm just looking for opinions on what the ESSENTIAL fixes are to keep a stock airhead ticking on dirt roads. I'm riding a 1984 R80st with just over 3k miles on it which was given to me this winter. Here's what I've either done already, or am planning to do:

    -Added 6.25 gallon r100gs tank - done
    -Jesse bags - ordered, but still waiting (surprised? no)
    -subframe reinforcement - I might pack light, but that doesn't mean that I'M light.
    -replace the grey coils (still need to do)
    -heavy duty diode board and solid mounts, keep oem for spare
    -some sort of ignition backup (spare bean can or omega, recommendations?)
    -spare cables preplumbed
    -add a few tools to the kit
    -spare alternator rotor (still on the fence about this one)\
    -replace werhle voltage regulator
    -spare Bosche ECU?
    -fab some kind of bash plate. Will probably require switching to the short GS oilpan and less (hotter) oil
    -Avon distanzias (heard they last forever)

    Anything else I may be missing?
    -Spencer
    #1
  2. Solo Lobo

    Solo Lobo airhead or nothing

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    I'd be on the mind to have the cables in your panniers, it's unlikely that you need one, but if you do it would be better to have a clean replacement to go in, and not one that had been riding out in the dust and weather for a while.

    Typically cables are sistered to provide very fast changes, and I'd guess you won't be in a huge hurry. Besides, if it is a throttle cable that breaks, synching the new cables will take a bit of time to get right anyway.
    #2
  3. jb

    jb waystupid

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    GS bash plate/oil pan - on your list. The stock parts do not seem that expensive.

    Would the spare cables fit in the frame tube? I've always thought that would be a great place to store them, if they are not too long.

    What about Motosport panniers instead of Jesse's? I've not seen any reviews on them, but I have always thought they would be great for the ST.
    #3
  4. Beemerboff

    Beemerboff Long timer

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    There is a link in my O Sh-t post to euromotoelectrics.or something.

    For $45- they sell new magnets and housing for the Valeo starter - cheap insurance in my experience.

    Mine were replaced 40,000 km ago but still broke loose and jammed the starter, which in turn broke a tooth of the ring gear.
    #4
  5. Gringo

    Gringo simple by nature

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    If your bike has a Valeo starter I'd swap or fix it right away - mine went at around 40,000 miles with no warning and they ALL go eventually. If you're on asphalt you can bump-start it, but loaded down and on dirt it'd be another matter... I replaced it with a Bosch, which is rebuildable with parts you could carry, but it weighs a ton and seems to draw alot more current... would go with the Toyota starter fm Motorad if I had to do it over - lighter weight by several pounds, faster spin for less amps. Have driven Toyota trucks since 1984 and never, ever had a starter issue...

    Dunno if it'd be worth carrying a spare rotor, but I'd definitely bone up on diagnostics and repair specs on the stock one - you can get 'em rewound fairly easily and cheaply in S. America, so why carry something so heavy and delicate? Even if you have to travel a ways to get it rewound, you can cover alot of ground with a good charge on the battery and everything else unplugged - DAMHIK. Or, I think Rick at Motorad now sells a heavy-duty version of the stock rotor that may be a worthwhile upgrade. Be sure you carry a mini voltmeter, $30 at Radio Shack. Oh, and you'll need to buy or make a rotor puller to carry just in case - basically a long bolt with threads in the right place, tucks into the toolkit nicely...

    Get some real handguards (acerbis or equivalent) - basic, not battle equipment for remote riding as a busted clutch lever from a tipover would really leave you in a bind. Might also think of rotating your rear brake actuator upside down (Touratech or someone sells a cheap kit for this mod), save it from being bashed on a rock.

    Another really cheap mod that may be verging into 'battle bike' territory is rigging a high breather tube to your final drive vent (if your bike has one) to keep water out of there in deep fords. I've travelled alot in Brazil and deep water crossings are not that unusual. Water in the final drive or shaft could ruin your trip.

    If your ST has an oil cooler, carry one of those cheap bypass widgets in case it springs a leak - cost ~$10 and should be in your toolbox always.

    Lucky you to be given an ST with 3K miles on it - treat her right!
    #5
  6. Donmanolo

    Donmanolo Been here awhile

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    Privet Spencer...!

    I've pm'd you, glad you made it back safely from Uzbekistan....but I'm sure there are plenty more stories that I want to hear, hopefully not involving any more local jails.. and exploding Urals from Kyrgistan....! :D

    I 've also had good experience with euromotoelectrics, I have one of their voltage regulators (adjustable output) on my G/S, which I remember was pretty cheap, I also got some spare alternator brushes from them...

    Regarding tyres...Distanzias are good (I never use anything else), they're road tyres but can cope with occasional bad or no roads, for real offroad you might want to consider something else.
    Where are you planning on going exactly?
    Depending on how far you intend to travel you might want to plan getting a spare rear sent to you at some point along the way...(the front might even last all the way to Argentina , they are quite long lasting)

    last question: what shock do you have on the bike?

    See you on the road, if you make it to Chile let me know, I might be visiting my relatives this year sometime.

    Ciao!

    Antonio.
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  7. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

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    SOLO - I see you're also in the Seattle area. Know a good welder to beef up my subframe?

    Starter -
    Fortunately, I have a bosch starter, so hopefully it won't be an issue. A couple of rebuild parts might come along though.

    Handguards -
    Good call. Either those or a spare clutch lever.

    Panniers -
    Yeah, I looked at the motosports, but didn't like their construction. They're made of 6061 T6 which is riveted. In a crash I see rivets creating much more concentrated stresses than welds. Also, once bent after a crash (and strain hardened) the harder 6061 T6 could easily crack when being hammered back into shape. Also, you can't weld 6061 T6 without messing with its mechanical properties due to the fact that it's tempered. Jesse bags (the only other company that still makes bags for the r80st that I could find) uses a softer alloy and continuously welded seams. They can be hammered back into shape with less risk of cracking and can be welded should the need arise. Also, welded seams are probably more water proof over the long term than rivets sealed w/ silicone. Also, I just haven't heard much about the motosports anywhere whereas the jesses are pretty well used and abused. I decided to go the road MORE travelled on this one. Also, for some reason the Jesse bags for the r80 are cheaper than the other jesses at $900. Fine by me. Just my .02

    Suspension:
    Antonio, good to hear from you. I'm getting too easy to find, I guess. Yes, I have stories from Uzbekistan, but I'll PM you about that. I'm currently running the stock rear shock and it creaks like an old rocking chair - RTW or even just around town, it needs to get replaced. There are a few companies (Works, Progressive) that make a stock unit specifically for the ST so I can maintain the stock geometry which is high on my list of priorities because I love the way this thing handles. HOWEVER. On the topic of suspension: This bike is built on a G/S frame and swingarm, and is suitably hefty for my purposes, however the stock forks are basically identical to those of an R65. The top triple tree isn't even machined. It's a stamped steel plate. Doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence. Although I've talked to people that have toured SA on a stock r80st, I'm on the bigger side at 6'2", 210. I'm a fairly conservative rider and don't plan on catching air on this thing, but I also don't feel like having to baby it and still worry about it cracking. I've read a thread on here about fitting dr650 forks to a G/S and they seem to be near bolt-on. Just a custom spacer needed and new stops. If I went with a complete dr650 front end I could solve the weak front brake on this thing too all in one fell swoop, but then where do you draw the line? Before I know it I'll be looking into HPNs. Any input on the stock forks or rear shock? I'm not looking for crazy performance...just adequate. I just want something that won't leave me stranded. Think budget. Thanks everyone.
    -Spencer
    #7
  8. Solo Lobo

    Solo Lobo airhead or nothing

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    Spencer,

    Here is the shop that I used, they have a minimum $25 charge that they hit me with for the light re-welding on my sub, as well as a bit of fab and welding on my side stand ($25 each,not for both). They had a one day turn-around, and were doing a bunch of other motorcycle stuff as well...

    Glenn's Welding
    16515 Alderwood Mall Pkwy
    Lynnwood, WA 98037
    425-743-2226


    On the Suspension question, what do you want? If it is better handling with what's there go with the RaceTech emulators. If you need/want more travel I'd suggest a set of R100GS forks, and a longer rear shock. The R100GS forks with the racetech mod, and the soon to be available HPMGuy adapter to use a Japanese 4 or 6 piston caliper with the stock rotor is a great package. I was runing that combination on the R100GS I sold in February and it work very (IMHO).<!-- / message --><!-- sig -->
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  9. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

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    Sorry, I didn't ask that question clearly. It's not performance I'm after. I just want something that won't break. The stock R80st forks (which are really just R65 forks) don't look like they'd stand up to very much rough going. I'm fine with the way they handle, I just want something that's not going to break and leave me SOL.
    #9
  10. Solo Lobo

    Solo Lobo airhead or nothing

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    Gottcha, I'd say to go with R100GS forks and longer shock, that or ride slow!
    #10
  11. carockwell

    carockwell Been here awhile

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    I have an R 80 ST and am currently installing new forks. The only part of a GS fork that is substantially different is the lower fork slider. The GS puts the axle in front of the slider and that gives room for more travel. The fork tubes are the same diameter and thickness but different lengths, the fork triple trees are exactly the same, and the steering bearings are the same. The GS forks DO come with the rubber gator and you will definitely want that. In short, I don't see how the GS fork would be any stronger or more reliable, but you will have less ground clearance than a GS. If you change that, then you willl also need a GS center stand, blah, blah, blah, your ST front end will be just fine, but get the gators installed. You want to carry a complete spare ignition and charging system including the rotor. Ditch the Valeo starter, I could give you my Bosch if you rode by to pick it up, I use the moto electric toyota conversion thingie, which isn't a fantastic improvement over a proper Bosch starter, but will last longer,not that Tierra Del Fuego is more than 6000 miles away, which any starter should handle. What you really really want is an Odyssey battery, that sucker will get you 100+ miles with no charging system, man has that come in handy. Being a sucker for things exotic, I also have a Wilber's rear shock, which once again is not much of an improvement over the rear shock that I got with the bike which is supposed to be off of a K100. I will see if I can get a part number off the shock for you. You will also need some carburetor gaskets, a few fuel filters, and an extra float/needle valve. Other than that, you need a complete service, replace all your cables, learn how to fix a flat, and take off into the wild.

    Meanwhile, I will be here in the gateway to adventure called Orange County obssesing over how to get my forks within .001 inch of parallel....we all have our sickness....
    #11
  12. Solo Lobo

    Solo Lobo airhead or nothing

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    It's a kind of known bodge to fit the K shock to G/S's (same legnth I think).... TVRLA has done it and said the spring (for the stock shock) had to be changed to the G/S spring as the K spring was too weak...
    #12
  13. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

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  14. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

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    Well, after a good long trip on the R80ST from Seattle up to Prudhoe and back I have renewed interest and some new ideas about what needs to be done to this thing in order to make it work for south america.

    Rear Shock:
    I just put on a YSS shock from Klaus over at Hyperpro and am pretty happy with it so far, especially considering the price of $350. Unfortunately, it arrived after I'd left for my trip, so the stocker got pounded into oblivion. When I got back and installed the new shock I found that the stock shock's damper was bent and was rubbing on the coil as it compressed and rebounded. Good timing on the replacement I guess. The one thing I noticed is that the YSS is longer than the stock shock so my seat height is noticably higher by 1"+ at least.

    Cracked subframe:
    Well, the jesse rack puts far too much weight on only one bolt hole in the subframe and the subframe cracked somewhere in northern BC. It's currently zip tied together. Rather than repair and reinforce the current subframe, I'm leaning towards replacing it with a R100GS subframe as I've heard they're built a little bit beefier. This would also allow me to install the solo seat and rack that fit my R100GS tank. A call to Al Jesse yielded a commitment to send me a new right side rack with a strut extending down to the passenger foot peg as there should have been from the start. Hopefully that setup will work. The jesse racks for the ST are the same units used for the R100GS with a bunch of spacers so fitting my luggage to the new subframe shouldn't be a huge issue.

    Solo seat and rack:
    I'm thinking of getting the Siebenrock repro units to fit the R100GS subframe and tank. Any comments on their quality would be appreciated. Anyone ordered either of these pieces?

    New front end:
    Well, certainly the most expensive and work intensive thing will be fitting a new front end. The stock forks, although having stood up to the Dalton highway at 60mph (up to 80mph), beat me up pretty well. I'd like to fit a DR650 or other dualsport front end ala Elmoreman. Since my new rear shock already jacked up my rear end I'll go ahead and say that's already taken care of. Any suggestions for a front end to install? Any that'll let me use my 19" BMW front wheel that I already have? What's cheap? What's easy (easiest)? Anyone else out there done this? I've only been able to find Elmoreman's "Unholy union" thread.

    Bunch of other smaller stuff (mostly electrical), but I'll leave that for later. This is all the major stuff.
    #14
  15. fat pat

    fat pat Been here awhile

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    cleaning/selling the st and buying a gs? you might end up ahead on the deal.
    #15
  16. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

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    I don't want a GS though. I feel that the ST is a better foundation on which to build the bike that I want. Rather than a paralever I'd prefer the more reliable monolever. I just rode around in Alaska with a guy on a GSPD who destroyed the bearings connecting his final drive to his swingarm. Plus I don't want to worry about my universal joints developing play so quickly. I also am looking for the better fuel economy, more agile handling, shorter wheelbase, smoother and more overengineered engine (uses a lot of the same parts as the R100 engine and puts less stress on them).

    So why not trade for an R80g/s then?

    If I were to get a G/S I would probably:
    A) still replace the forks as I hear they also aren't so great
    B) want a tachometer
    C) replace the rust-prone muffler (which is stainless on the ST)
    D) upgrade the subframe. The G/S subframe is exactly the same as that of the ST.

    I also like the fact that I know exactly what has happened to this bike for the overwhelming majority of its mileage. I know how its been treated. That fact alone might not REALLY be worth anything, but it does give you a good feeling.

    I also just prefer the more classic look of the ST.

    Not to diss G(/)Ss or anything, I do like them, they are badass, but this is how I rationalize what I'm planning to do to the ST and why I don't just sell this thing and buy a GS. (Fat pat, you're not the first person to ask me that. I had to justify it to myself a while ago.) I'd also rather build a bike than buy one.
    #16
  17. Beemerboff

    Beemerboff Long timer

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    The bearings on the paralever can be replaced with bronze bushes, and the UJs on the shaft replaced with improved items with grease nipples , and you have a bulletproof rear end for less than $600- .

    The forks and front brake on the GS are a mile ahead of the GS.

    Priced a fork and brake upgrade for your G/S yet?- that $600- could look like small change.

    And my GS has OEM SS pipes and muffler.

    And does a 60 hp engine producing 40hp stress an engine any more than a 50 hp engine producing 40 hp. Some folks might think it stresses it less.

    But the real test comes when you ride them back to back - the paralever bikes are so far ahead there is just no comparison.

    You owe it to yourself to try a sorted GS before you dismiss them out of hand - you will be surprised just how good they are.
    #17
  18. Airhead Wrangler

    Airhead Wrangler Long timer

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    Funny you should mention the bronze bushings. That's what my friend was running. He installed them on Vancouver island and 3500 miles later in the middle of Alaska one of them had worn all the way through. The races were actually kissing. That didn't impress me much. They must've been installed incorrectly to get eaten so quickly, but still. One of the airhead canons applies here - the simplest engineering solutions are the best. In my opinion, and that of many others, the paralever is an overly complex solution to a problem that never really existed in the first place. In my estimation I already have a bulletproof rear end - no $600 necessary.

    No argument there, but I very well might use a GS front end on the ST.

    I'm looking at either a dr650 or R100gs front end which both can be had for under $600 if you know where to look. I know machinists that'll make me spacers free of charge.

    Well, I can't quite agree on this one. An engine making more power with the same components is not as strong. There's no getting around the physics of that one.

    I did. I rode a GSPD with an ohlins rear shock and gold valves up front. Just didn't do it for me. I prefer the ST. I like having a smaller, lighter bike. I like the smoother running engine and better gas mileage as well.
    #18
  19. Beemerboff

    Beemerboff Long timer

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    You will find it hard to get your 19" wheel into GS forks - the spindle , width and brake cause problems which are hard to solve.

    I have a set of K 75 forks which I intend fitting to my R75/7 , and my spoke wheel choices are 18" or 21".

    If your top yoke concerns you some of the R65s had a cast item which fits, but it is not going to solve your spring / damping problem.

    In my experience a harsh front can just as easily be caused by the wrong settings at the back as at the front - try a bit less spring and and damping at the rear

    I have a Ohlins on the rear, and HPN Magnum catridge inserts and springs in the front. These work together just about perfectly at the stock settings for both, and both front and rear can be fine tuned on the move making finding that final sweet spot that bit easier.

    I agree that the paralever is a soloution to a problem which does not exist, but it does perform better than the monoshock when set up properly.

    It isnt a hand grenade - I upgraded mine at 140,000 KM as a precaution - there apeared to be plenty of life in the OEM components, I just dont like waiting on things to break.
    #19
  20. datchew

    datchew Don't buy from Brad

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    Hi Spencer. Sounds like you know your airheads and have your decisions sorted out. Wish I could completely say that (either of them.)

    Your spares leave me thinking of only 1 or 2 things you might want.
    Spare rocker valve cover or something to repair them with.

    You spoke of upgrading the front forks, but also that you rode a GS with a gold valve upgrade. If you liked the gold valve enough, are the GS and ST forks similar enough to put the gold valve in the ST forks?

    +1 on the Valeo. The time involved to rebuild makes just buying a new one easier and worthwhile. They are lighter, crank faster, and use less juice than the bosch style and the new magnets are not glued, they are tension wired inside. Euromotoelectric sells them and also sells the enduralast alternator upgrade. I got the starter and have been pleased with their service.

    I'm jealous of your adventures and am enjoying your smugmug pics.
    #20