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The year started off with me still bike less and the shop calling me once in a while to say the bike would be ready maybe in a month, then a couple more weeks then the bike is ready, please pick it up quickly we need the space. My wife shuttled me to the shop, We walked around the bike and I rode it home down the coast. Beautiful out. The bike died a few times on the way, stuff felt weird. On the 21st of February I rode home on my bike after dropping it off at the shop on 18th of September, 2018.

I had to rearrange things in the garage then get some time to look the bike over and make some adjustments. I was in the planning stages of a big trip with friends. But, I needed to get some miles on my new motor, then perform a complete service. Then I got to looking closely at the bike.

I still had house building remodeling work to complete as well.

Looking the bike over more closely I find some major parts of fastenings missing as well as some broken.

On my ride home I’d had some backfiring through the intake that was pronounced enough to smack the underside of the seat. I had to pull the tanks to investigate. What I found were wires routed outside the frame so they were mashed between the frame and fuel tank. Also found the drain line form the airbox was missing along with the overflow lines from the tanks.

The backfiring had blown the throttle bodies off the intake. I thought because the clamps were loose, that was the issue. I reseated the airbox and throttle bodies and assumed I was done.

After getting the motor break-in miles on the motor, I pulled it down to check the valve clearances. The very first thing I found was the spark plugs were wrong. Neither had been torqued and the front plug was wound out a few threads the rear was barely beyond finger tight. They were in fact plugs for a 950, not a 990.

IN the above photo the removed plugs are the two on the bottom and an old 990 spare I had in my tool box is at the top. The 950 plugs use a different sized socket was well. I had to borrow it from the shop ignorer to remove them. The 990 plug uses a 14mm hex while the 950 plug uses a 16mm hex. Also note the bottom most plug sealing washer is not crushed and the middle plug only has the sealing washer partially crushed. That was the source of the backfire coupled with poor shimming of the valve clearances. Once it was all corrected the bike ran great.

While I had the tanks and intake apart I had a chance to inspect all the assembly and found more loose and missing bits.

List of Issues from Rebuild:

  • Missing Swinging Arm Shaft Nut
  • Missing Lower Motor Mount and Spacer
  • Broken Bash Plate Right Rear Screw
  • Incorrect Spark Plugs, and Loose
  • Likely Incorrect Shimming of New Rear Cylinder Head
  • Missing Airbox Drain Line
  • Missing Both Tank Vent Lines
  • Sump Cover Screws Not Tightened Properly
  • Wiring Incorrectly Routed Between Left Tank and Frame
  • Airbox Top Loose and Air Filter Paper Trapped by Cover
  • Airbox Screws stripped out of Airbox Base
  • Engine Mounts Loose.
  • Rear Axel Improperly Torqued
  • Missing Exhaust System Gaskets and Seals

From correcting the issues I also changed the OEM coolant lines for Samco lines and new Samco clamps.

I performed a complete service including changing all the fluids; coolant, oil, brake and clutch. Along with the oil filter and both screens. I found chips of material and debris on both screens.

The oil tank screen had a lot of chips, and sticking a magnet in there found more. Not happy about that. Cleaned the tank then. No metal in the sump screen so that was good. I assumed that the motor was cleaned prior to reassembly but the tank likely was left in the frame. An indication of poor mechanical practice, indeed a lack of understanding exactly what rebuilding a motor from such trauma as this had seen entails. At any rate the bike was now fully serviced and I had confidence in it.

I also replaced, installed the missing or re-used exhaust system seals. Both headers as well as the 2 into 1 pipe and end cans were all removed and cleaned up for this exercise. Patience is key when dealing with the puzzle that is this exhaust system fitment.

But, the deadline for me to say I was a go for the Arctic Circle trip had come and gone. I had ridden to somewhere in LA to see Lyndon Poskitt present a talk on his world travels and racing.

A very cool venue for this evening. I did this while I was still putting mileage on the bike and noticed the poor running in the dark in an unfamiliar area.

If ever there is an opportunity to get to see one of Lyndon’s talks, don’t let it slip away. Entertaining, informative, inspirational and educational. A very well spent evening indeed.

Before heading to Colorado for the KTM Adventure Bike Rally, I fitted a fresh set of Pirelli Scorpion MT 90 A/T tires along with a fresh chain and sprockets.

One of the several projects that was holding up riding was refurbishing and installing some salvaged cabinets in another house and in my garage. I had to sort cabinets and doors there were about six times more doors than cabinets. None were marked as pairs, mates or which went where. That took a good bit of measuring and a couple of spreadsheets. Then more measuring to figure out what cabinets would fit where. I found only three cabinets that would fit at the other house. The combination of a mid-century modern roofline in the garage there coupled with the laundry below with a kegerator fridge and a vintage video game made for the three fitting exactly as if they had been made for specially.

I used four in my garage the rest went into a new storage shed that was built at the other house.

For the rally a cousin was loaning me their condo near the rally, but I had to ride from the coast to Denver where I would pick up the keys. Then I would ride back west a bit to my friend’s house where we were finishing installing a big tank on his KTM 690. Then ride further back to the west to the condo.

My first day on the road was all the way to Grand Junction. There was a time when I could manage the whole ride in one day. That time has passed.

The second day was shorter but long and broken into a couple of rides and stops.

When we got to the condo, dropped off our stuff then figured out we couldn’t check into the rally until early the next morning. So, we walked into the nearby town from the condo and had a long dinner. The next morning was freezing cold. below freezing actually. 22°F and I had only summer gloves along. The Oxford heated grips turned up to 100% were no match. It was too cold for my phone that I was using to navigate and when we parked and shut down the bikes, my phone went black. It was ice cold to the touch and would not turn on. I tucked it inside my tight base layer shirt against my skin. That was teeth chatteringly cold. Once it warmed to where it was no longer freezing my skin, the phone woke up and I could get my barcode scanned and get checked in. Then we headed off to warmth of the inside the hotel and breakfast.

After breakfast we spent the morning walking the rally area of vendors.

We bought stuff. For me a new Big Agnes tent that packed down very small. Paul got a suspension customization set up some lights and heated grips and a tank bag.

The next day after local breakfast we rode out to Gypsum then caught a piece of the COBDR.

I had first ridden this section of the COBDR on my 2018 trip. I’d intended to ride more but didn’t. I can’t remember why.

We stopped at the Rock Creek crossing to get photos and video.

And some video of the crossings was taken.

At Gore pass we opted to head down to Kremmling for lunch. The ride from there past Lynx pass to Steamboat is more back road gravel with a tiny bit of two track anyway. And a long ride back to Breckenridge for dinner.

There were awards for the racing part and end of season things. As well as big donations to Castelli 66 fund. We ended the evening with the 690 not wanting to start. It finally gave in and we found a gas station to use the restroom and top up the tanks. Sunday morning early we packed up a bit and walked to breakfast then My friend headed home as he had an afternoon flight out and I finished the laundry and vacuumed the condo, then rode down to Denver to drop off the keys. I dropped my bike leaving my cousins house and wouldn’t you know it there was nobody around to shoot a photo of me trapped on the ground or help get the bike off me or lift the overloaded thing. Then it was time to turn tale and head for the coast. Which I did. Got to Grand Junction for the night. Beat tired.

The next day was a fast ride through the not that hot and no Vegas stop.

While riding the COBDR, I’d had the rear brake go out. I checked that once home and it turned out to have been the master cylinder sight glass o-ring failure that is common. I had a spare master in the cupboard so it would go on at some point. Meanwhile the bike was packed back into and under stuff in the garage out of the way to await the next adventure. Thanks to several factors this ended up being my last ride and last work on the bike for the year.

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