Howdy folks. This blog will be on vacation for the month of January. Matt and I are driving the length of the Baja peninsula in his 4x4 Tacoma. As much as I will miss La Tortuga and the slow pace of travel, the 4x4 will open up new roads and routes into more remote baja terrain than possible on the 50. Hopefully everything works out and the memories don't involve breakdowns and parts unavailability like other past trips. Catch you all in February ready to get some miles in heading back to the east coast.
My buddy Dan from Orange County invited Matt and I to go dirt riding out in the desert. Stoddard Wells is an OHV area with valleys and old mines to explore. Dan let me ride his CT110 and 79' XL250S. The 23" front tire is phenomenal offroad and the powerband quite usable. It is such a capable bike and hard to believe its almost 40 years old.
We ambled about the desert checking out sandy washes and small alcoves, evidence of past mines. The fun part of being in the desert is getting separated and looking for your buddy's dust trail in the distance. The land of joshua trees, creasote bush and yuca was just the break I needed from the pace of the city.
As though my history of flat tires followed me, the Symba I had been offered to ride around lost air in downtown so Scott and Matt rode back for the Sprinter van.
A few days later Matt and I rode across town on Sunset Blvd to Malibu and then up into the Canyons and Mullholland Hwy to meet Wade on his Ruckus. The weather was fabulous and the riding grand...until my bike decided to quit running. It was just a loose connector to the coil but led to a few patches and fixes on the way home. Lanesplitting in the dark through Hollywood traffic isn't for the timid.
PLAN > EXECUTE > ADAPT
Before departing camp, I rigged up a Firestone Walker beer can as a muffler. It sounded like hell amd only lasted about 2 miles befote rattling loose. Good riddance. La Tortuga climbed over 5000ft on Hwy 33 before dropping down into Ojai. The twisty mountain road had very little traffic and I enjoyed the ride, distancing the vehicular woes and focusing on the warmth and beauty of the day. A work zone near Ojai had traffic stopped for over 15 minutes. That worked out fine since 5 minutes of roasting in the sun on the bike was about my limit. The rear tire had gone completely flat in that time so I pulled over into the loose dusty shoulder, patched it, reinflated and was back in traffic before it turned green. Hoping the patch would hold, I made it to Ojai, got some air and cooled off in a freezer section of the grocery store. 96F outside with this late fall heat wave.
On the 126, a 55mph divided hwy, traffic roared past while I struggled to overcome gusty headwinds blowing me down to 33mph. Occasionally the bike would die and I'd pull over to investigate finding nothing afoul. Spark plug looked okay and it woukd start up again each time. Somehow it made it to Castaic where I climbed up into an open hillside on a jeep trail. The Ruckus lost all power and would only idle. Revving it lead to a backfire or two and no power.
I sent a text to Bradley, a local SoCal Ruckus tuning enthusiast asking for some parts. To my surprise, he had everything I needed to fix up my bike. In the morning, Matt agreed to drive me 45 mi to Palmdale to snag the parts. It happened to be Thanksgiving so we stopped in to IHOP, one of the few open establishments, for breakfast. Bradley delivered providing a rear wheel, K&N air filter, stock exhaust and Daytona Drag variator to try out.
After installing the new exhaust, the Ruckus still did not want to run. The desert heat was already nearing 90 and with no shade and many possible causes, I took Matt up on his offer to ride the CT110 to my friend Scott's in LA. It hurt to load La Tortuga onto the hitch but I knew it would likely be an easy fix if I hadn't lunched a valve.
The 7hp of the CT110 made for a faster ride up The Old Rd and down San Fernando Rd into LA. Soon I was greeting old friends and looking forward to what will be called Steaks-giving. It was so nice to have a landing pad in the city and somewhere to soon focus on bike woes.
After some investigation, I found the source of my problem was a broken wire to the coil. This is the second time I have encountered issues with this setup. The engine and swingarm move independently of the wiring harness so the constant movement eventually snaps the small gauge wires and cnnectors to the coil. Not a very robust setup in my book.
In addition to the 6 patches installed in the tire, here is what was rolling around inside. Some of the rubber pieces had worn into balls from the many miles of rolling.
With the new wheel sanded, prepped and painted, I spooned on the new Michelin Reggae. Due to my larger rear shock from a CH150, I ordered a narrower 120/90-10 rather than a stock 130. Now the front and rear tire are the same.
Next post will be some scooter riding and testing of the new setup.
In May 2014 I quit my job to ride a Honda Ruckus over 69'000 mi and counting. Wild camping most nights and cooking most of my own meals, I keep the costs low and the landscape changing.