Spanish Thruxton

I travel a bunch but I’ve only traveled internationally twice now. Interestingly enough in my short trips to both the UK and Spain I’ve ran into my Thruxton’s foreign relatives. Naturally, the Spanish Thruxton I came across this week in Barcelona is red.

Mosfet R/R on Triumph Thruxton

A while back the charging system on my Thruxton started failing. I found this out one morning while I was a few hundred miles from home in New Hampshire, my bike wouldn’t turn over. Luckily the place I was staying had a battery charger (dumb luck) and a few hours later my battery was back to full power. My battery then began to die slowly but it got me through the rest of the trip.

At first I didn’t get what was going on. Really I just through my battery was dying but after poking around in some forums I got a tip to fire up my bike and check the voltage that my charging system was putting out. It should put out around 14 volts but it was only putting out 11.5V.

This is a sure sign that either the magnets on your stator is bad (this never happens from what I’m told) or your regulator / rectifier (R/R) is dead. A little more research turned up that the stock R/R on Triumphs are rubbish and generally fail after a few years. Replacing the stock R/R is a pretty standard upgrade on lots of bikes.

There’s a number of after market R/Rs to chose from. I found a few guys who had good results with a Msofet R/R. There’s even a guy that sells kits for the upgrade at roadstercycle. The instructions on the roadstercycle site aren’t very detailed so I figured it might be useful to have a detailed howto (aka lots of pictures) for those like myself new to doing electrical work on their bikes.

Installation

The installation has two main parts:

  • First is preparing all the wiring: attaching the connectors from the kit to the existing wires from your stator and the power/ground wires provided in the kit as well as running the power and ground wires to your battery.
  • Second is finding a place to mount your new R/R on your bike. Depending on your bike this may be very easy or very difficult so YMMV.

I started with the wiring because mounting stuff on your bike is usually pretty permanent. This typically involves drilling / cutting and if something goes wrong and the new R/R doesn’t work you’re stuck.

Wiring

So the kit ships with these really fancy waterproof connectors that match up with the connectors on the R/R. There are two of them and they both accomodate 3 wires but one has the center hole plugged. This one is for the power and ground that will attach to your battery. The connector with the three holes open is for the three wires from your stator.

I started with the stator wires. They’re located at the engine casing on the right side of the bike. Follow them up to the connector where they hitch up to the wiring harness. On the Thruxton this is a 3 pronged connector and the three stator wires are bundled together in a black casing.
Sorry for the picture quality (focus is way off). I’m still trying to get the hang of of this new phone.

Cut these three wires right at the connectors to keep as much wire available as possible. You’ll have to run these to the new R/R wherever you decide to mount it. Once the old connector is off, you’ve got to put the new connector on.

The kit provides a bunch of crimp-on connectors:

You’ve got to:

  1. Strip about an inch off the wires casing
  2. Slip one of the provided water seals on the wire. This will be used to plug up the hole in the back of the connector.
  3. Slip on a bit of shrink tube. My stator wires were too thin for a good seal with the plugs so I put on some shrink tube to fill the gap.
  4. Fold the exposed wire in half to give yourself enough surface to crimp the connector
  5. Crimp on the connector, you can even throw a bit of solder on too if you’d like but it’s not necessary.
  6. Slip the shrink tube up over the crimp and shrink it down
  7. Slip the water seal up over the shrink tube

Do this for each wire

Then slip the three stator wires into the back of the connector. Make sure to press each water seal into the connector. If the fit is tight grab some silicon and lube up the rubber plugs.
I’m not sure I put the rubber plugs on in the right direction but the seal will work either way. I switched the direction when I put together the plug for power and ground.

Then do the same thing for the power and ground wires. These wires are much bigger (10 or 12 gauge) so I didn’t use shrink tube this time. Also the rubber stoppers were much more difficult to fit into the connector so keep your silicon handy.

Next you’ve gotta wire the fuse provided in the kit into your new power line and put the provided ring connectors on both power and ground. Nothing special here.

By this point you should have your stator wires set up with the new plug, the power and ground wired into the other plug, and the new power and ground wires ready to hook up to your battery.

Mounting the R/R

With your wires done you can start thinking about where you want to mount the R/R. Be sure you’ve got enough wire to reach the R/R wherever you mount it. BUT FIRST you should test the R/R to be sure the thing works.

Plug in those connectors you just put together, connect the power and ground to your battery and fire up your bike. The voltage across your battery should be between 14V and 14.5V.

If the voltage is right get ready to mount the R/R … if it’s not, well you screwed something up. Sorry. Break out your debugging gear and get to work. Hopefully you just screwed up a connection and you’ll find it quickly.

Once you’ve verified the R/R works pick out your mounting location. I installed a fender elimination kit (FEK) from newbonneville.com a few years back. They still sell a kit but it’s significantly different from the one I bought. Regardless the battery box from the kit has a piece of metal hanging off the bottom to act as a sort of mud guard. The inside (toward the engine, away from the rear wheel) of this is just the right size and location to mount the new R/R.

The Mosfet kit doesn’t come with mounting hardware so you’ll need to pick up some up. I got mine at the hardware store down the block. I think the bolts were 6mm but I can’t remember. Just bring the R/R into the hardware store with you and try the hardware before you buy it. I picked up some lock-washers too for good measure.

Next I drilled the holes in my battery box. It’s impossible to get a drill into the right place without pulling off the wheel and going in through the rear. Remember, measure twice and drill once. Then mount the R/R, run the power and ground wires up to your battery and you’re done.

If you want to get fancy you can secure them with some zip ties. In the pictures you’ll see I haven’t got around to that yet.

Clean up

The stock R/R on the Thruxton is mounted on the front of the bike below the headlight on the same bracket as the blinkers. This is pretty much on the opposite end of the bike as the battery and the stator wires. This means that the stator wires run into the wiring harness back by the battery and extend to the front of the bike to plug into the R/R. The power and ground wires then come out of the R/R to the wiring harness and run back to the other end of the bike where they plug into the battery.

This is completely insane IMHO. You’ll notice I didn’t use any of the existing wire in the harness. All I did was snip the stator wire and tape up the old wire leaving the harness alone. Cutting into the wiring harness should be avoided at all cost. You can do the same to the stock R/R on the front of the bike. Just cut it off and tape up the wires.

Good luck.

Icon 7614 shocks arrive damaged

After trying a set of KYBs from a Kawasaki ZRX and finding them too big to fit under my Predator exhaust I started looking for a set of shocks with a lower profile. I found these Icon 7614s on the NewThruxton.com. They don’t have all of the adjustments that the KYBs do but they definitely look thin enough to fit under my exhaust and they’re a lot lighter weight.

They arrived two weeks ago but I’ve been traveling for work and just got around to putting them on today. In the photo above they look great but when I unboxed them I noticed some damage on the springs. The damage is super obvious up close. I can only speculate how they were damaged but it probably happened before they were assembled because the rest of the shock body is perfect. But the plastic coating on the springs on both shocks is scratched down to the metal in a few spots. Here’s what I’m talking about:

The damage looks like they rubbed up against something. The reflection of the lights makes it a bit difficult to see at first but I’ve rotated the shock to the left a bit to offset the reflection. I’ve marked up the place where the plastic coating was stripped down to the metal underneath and provided a good close-up. Looking further down the spring you’ll see other places where the plastic was stripped away and there are a few where it’s gone through to the metal.

What a pain. I was really excited to get these on. Even worse than having to go through returning them is that I probably won’t have them on my bike for my upcoming ride up route 100 through Vermont. Not much I can do now but try to get NewThruxton.com to take them back. Not happy.

UPDATE: Added better photo.

Kawasaki ZRX KYB shocks on ’04 Thruxton

I spent some time recently searching for a new set of shocks for my Thruxton. I’ve made a number of performance upgrades but I’ve kept the stock shocks in place even though they’re pretty crappy. There’s a lot of options for this upgrade so hopefully my experience will be useful to someone out there weighting the same decisions.

First a shot of the stock shocks before I removed them. Notice the corrosion showing on the bottom. Luckily it was from the bolt, not the mount.

First I tried used set taken of KYBs taken from a Kawasaki ZRX 1100. These are a pretty common upgrade for Thruxtons even though the ZRX is much heavier. In the end the reports I’ve read indicated the ride was nice if a bit stiff.

The shocks were the right size but the bottom bushings that came in the shocks were the wrong size. Not a hard fix since the stock shock bushing were easy enough to knock out with a mallet and socket. After fitting these in the KYBs they were easy enough to mount on the bike now that I’ve got a lift. Here’s a shot of the bushings taken from the stock shocks, and the KYBs mounted. Check out the super nice dress-up bolts I got from Joker Machines too.

They look really slick but unfortunately I couldn’t keep them. The coils on the KYB shocks are significantly wider than the stock Thruxton shocks. This came into play when I tried to fit my exhaust back on as the final step. I’ve got a set of Predators from British Customs and these cans are just too wide to fit over the ZRX shocks. Damn.

I really like these shocks and I thought about getting a new exhaust to fit over them. Then I remembered how I love the sound from the Predators so I’m still searching. I picked up a set of Icons and I’ll post about that disaster next.

Thruxton ignition relocation

The weather’s starting to get nice and since I don’t have a garage to work in over the winter, I had to wait for nice weather to work on my Thruxton … in my driveway. Joker Machine makes some really nice bolt-ons and they’re pretty spendy so over the winter I picked up a few when I had a buck or two kicking around. A few days back when it finally hit 65 degrees outside I put on my ignition relocation kit.

The ignition location is a common complaint from Thruxton owners. It’s located on the headlight mount which is a bit odd, but really I’ve become used to it by now:

The relocation kit uses two bolts on the front of the frame as the anchor for the new bracket:

Removing the ignition is simple but it does require removing the headlight bracket to access the screws holding it in place:

After removing the ignition the fun begins. You can’t simply attach the new bracket with the existing cable. There just isn’t enough of it.

The ignition wires hook up to the main harness at a plug that’s housed in the headlight bucket. Actually just about everything that hooks up to the harness on the front end of the bike does so in the headlight bucket. So there are basically two options:

  • extend the ignition wires
  • cut into the harness and hope there’s enough wire in there to get the ignition to its new home

I went for the second option because I only needed a few extra inches of wire but it came at a cost: I couldn’t keep the connector between the ignition and the wiring harness in the headlight bucket. Here’s a shot of the harness with the cuts I had to make:

After that, wrap up the harness with electrical tape and stuff the connector up under the frame. Be sure to clean off the harness before you put the tape on it. Dirt makes tape pretty ineffective:

In the end it’ll look pretty cool:

The new location for the ignition isn’t any more convenient than the original if you ask me. Looks cool though.

Thruxton 900 Ceramic Exhaust

It’s a new year. I’m not one for resolutions but something I always aim to do is put up more info on the mods I’ve made to my 2004 Thruxton 900. Last time I posted it was about the chrome T100 engine covers I picked up. In those photos the exhaust was off because it was away getting a ceramic coat from a local guy a buddy of mine recommended. As promised (if a bit late) here are the photos of his work:

The contrast between the two photos above is pretty dramatic. They look even better on the bike:

The exhaust clamp covers had some large blemishes when I picked them up. The guy at Affordable Powder Coating in Cato N.Y. was cool and fixed ’em up for me without any hassle.

I’m very happy with the way this turned out. It didn’t cost much and the pipes run super cool too. After running for nearly an hour I can stop and touch the tail of the muffler and it’s almost cool enough to hold on. I wish I had a dyno run from before and after so I could be sure of the horse power difference but I can really feel it.

So this isn’t much of a DIY post since removing and replacing the exhaust is just a few bolts and a little grease. Helps to have an extra set of hands to fit the pipes through the frame too. The photos sure are nice though … they’ve got me longing for riding weather in a bad way.

T100 Engine Covers

In my first two years riding my motorcycle I learned a few things the hard way. Long story short I laid my Thruxton down twice, once on each side. They weren’t bad spills but I got a few cool scars out of the deal and so did my bike.

A few weeks ago I purchased new T100 (chrome!) engine covers and today I’m fixing up the last of the damage left over from my wipe-outs. The alternator cover isn’t too bad but the primary got beat up something aweful. Here’s what my covers looked like before:

Removing Old Engine Covers

The first and most obvious step is draining your oil. The primary and alternator covers are wet seals and if you break them you’re gonna leak all of your oil out on to your driveway / garage floor. I’ve planned this maintenance around an oil change anyway so I drained my oil completely and have a new oil filter ready to go.

I started on my primary cover: removed the bolts and started to pull. This thing wasn’t budging so I broke out my rubber mallet. That’s right, when all else fails hit it with a hammer … but not one that will scratch up your new chrome parts! A few good taps around the seams and the seal gave and started dripping oil all over the place. Have a pan ready and set yourself up on some cardboard to catch any stray drips.

The cover should come off easy enough but the seal is likely to break up leaving bits stuck around the edges. You’ve got to get all of this off before you can put the new cover and seal on so break out a razor and carefully scrape what’s left of the old seal off the engine. Be very careful not to get little bits of the seal on any of your engine’s internals. You do not want little bits of plastic floating around gumming up the works.

When you’re done the mounting surface on the engine should look nice and clean. Here’s what the primary side looks like (forgot to shoot the alternator side):

Alternator Cover

On the alternator side you’ll notice some wires that run out from between the engine case and the cover. These connect to the stator and power your electrical. The seals around these are a bit of a pain. You’ll have to transfer the coils to you new cover then worry about the wires.

When you reattach the alternator cover you’ll have to get your new seal in place but that probably won’t be enough. The wires have a rubber housing that you should seal up too. I opted to “borrow” some Form-A Gasket Sealant from my room mate.

This stuff is nasty. Get ready to apply it with your fingers and then spend some time scrubbing it off your hands later. You want to put enough on to fill the cracks but if you put so much on that it oozes out. It’s probably oozing out inside the case too which is not a good thing.

When you’ putting the the cover back on you’ll wish you had a few extra hands. Holding the seal, the wires and the cover in place at the same time is a pain, especially with the seal goop getting on everything. Once you juggle it all into place torque down the bolts to the spec (9Nm if I remember correctly which isn’t much).

The sprocket cover is easy in comparison. No seals no nothing. Just throw it on. Here’s what they look like, nice and shiny:

Primary Cover

The primary side doesn’t have any wires for you to worry about but it’s more of a pain. First off if you’re bike is on it’s kick stand the primary side will be tilted toward the ground which will make putting the cover back on much more difficult. Specifically there are a few metal pins that are seated in the cover and they’ll slide out much more easily if the engine is tilted downward.

Pay attention to the small cog at the lower front of the engine on this side. There’s a funny washer sitting over the pin holding it in place. This pin has a corresponding hole it will fit into on the inside of the primary cover. If you’re not careful while the cover is off this washer and pin may slip out. Be very careful of this.

Also on the primary side is the clutch leaver that you’ll have to transfer from your old cover to the new one. These are held in place by 7 or 8 hex screws that Triumph was kind enough to goop up with red locktite. This makes removing them very difficult and you’ve got to be extra careful to keep from stripping them.

I’ll admit that I stripped one but managed to get it out still. I had to take a trip to the local fastener shop in Syracuse to get a replacement. As much as the locktite is a pain when you’re removing the bolts it’s a good idea to use some when you put them in your new cover. Having one of these come loose in your engine would pretty much be the end of it.

I probably don’t have to say this but when you do transfer the clutch leaver over keep an eye on the set-up in the old cover and make sure you get everything in place right. It’s not hard but I’m sure it can be screwed up if you’re not careful. Be sure to keep track of the pin seated in the case that actuates the clutch. Mine kept dropping out of place when I was putting the cover back on.

Speaking of putting the primary cover back on, it’s a pain in the ass! If you’ve got an extra set of hands around you’re gonna need them. Here’s what it should look like when you’re done.

Oil and a Paryer

So when both covers are back on with the seals in place and torqued down, finish your oil change (change your filter etc). It’s not uncommon for the seals to leak a little bit at first until their seated. If they keep leaking after you’ve had the engine running for a bit try tightening down the bolts a little more but not too much. If this doesn’t fix your leak then something more serious went wrong (damaged seal?).

If you were looking at the pictures closely you’ll notice there weren’t any pipes on my Thruxton. I timed changing the engine covers with sending my pipes out to a local guy who runs a paint booth / powder coating shop out of his garage. More to come on that.

Thruxton Sprockets

The chain on my Thruxton was about 6 years old and looking pretty ratty so I decided it was time for a new one. My buddy recently did some homework on chains and he ended up buying an EK X Ring chain so I followed suit. After hitting my Haynes manual to find out the right specs (525, 104 links) I picked one up. Found a good deal on an EK MVXZ 525 through ebay along with a chain tool to break the old one, and get the new one on.

Old Chain

My first mistake was trying to break the old chain off of my Thruxton with a $20 chain tool and not enough of the rivet ground down. So I broke the pin on that one and, surprise, it didn’t come with a spare. I took a pretty good chunk out of my knuckle when the pin broke and I was a bit pissed so I switched over to the cutting wheel and just cut the chain off. Should have just done that in the first place. Glad to have the old chain off too since it had a few links that weren’t flexing right. That’s why it felt funny while I was riding.

Since I was without a chain tool now I took the new one down to Destiny Motorsports and Garry cut it down for me. Great spot if you’re in Syracuse and you need an inspection or service. They’ve always done right by me and this time was no different.

Rear Sprocket

Now that I had the new chain at the right length I had to switch out the sprockets. I figured since I had the chain off it would make sense to upgrade the sprockets with some after market ones from British Customs. I picked up an aluminum rear sprocket and a fancy steel front too. I didn’t change the tooth ratio but I’m tempted to try a smaller front sprocket in the future.

Anyways getting the rear sprocket off was easy enough. Remove the rear wheel, pull the old one, put on the new one. The white stuff on the new sprocket is just lithium grease from the new chain. They come covered in that stuff and you’re gonna want to wipe as much of it off the chain before you ride on it.

Front Sprocket

Getting the front sprocket off was a bit of a trick. First off you’ve gotta bend back a huge washer that is bent down on the nut that holds the sprocket on. I did it with a screw driver but I’m sure there are better ways. This nut is huge by the way. 36 or 38mm and sockets that big get super pricey, not to mention a driver for it and a torque wrench if you want to torque it back down to spec.

After putting the new sprocket on you’ve gotta torque down the nut and flatten out the washer again. Flattening the washer down on the sprocket isn’t something you can do with a screwdriver. A small punch works perfectly if you’ve got one laying around.

New Chain

Pressing the master link on the new chain on is a real pain. I’ve already gone through one cheep chain tool so this time I got the real deal from EK. This tool is worth every penny and makes getting the master link on much easier than it would be normally. They’ve still got the EK chain tool on special at Moto-Chains so if you’re gonna buy one I’d recommend this one. It’ll press on the plates and press out pins. You can even use it for riveting.

So this is what the master link looks like after it’s been riveted. I didn’t take a picture of the chain when it was completely new. The photo below is the chain after 1200 miles through the white mountains. I was rushing to get the new chain on for the trip and forgot to snap a photo when it was fresh.

So that’s it. The new chain and sprockets are great. Not something you really notice when you’re riding but that’s the whole point. My old chain had a few links that weren’t flexing right and I could definitely feel the kinks when I was riding on it. This new one is super smooth which is the effect I was going for.

Chrome Valve Cover

A few weeks ago the seal on my valve cover started leaking a bit of oil. It was very minor at first so I ignored it. Eventually it started leaking out on to my exhaust (headers) so I’d pull up to a light and notice a bit of smoke rising off my front end. That’s about the point when you can’t ignore the problem any more.

Replacing a seal is pretty easy especially a dry seal like the valve cover seal. I’ve been planning some upgrades though so I took the opportunity to blow some money. There’s some back story here though: this was my first bike and I learned to ride on it, the hard way. In my first summer I laid it down once on each side. The bike survived with minimal damage but the engine cover on the clutch side looks like someone went at it with a file. The alternator and valve covers got off easy but still got chipped up. Over time the hard coat on them started cracking noticeably.

Since I had to remove the valve cover I might as well replace it, right? Might as well get a chrome one too 🙂 I even managed to track down the chrome replacement on ebay for pretty cheep so that’s always nice. Now I really screwed this one up though: I didn’t take as many pictures as I should have. With that in mind here’s the before shots with the tank removed.

When the valve cover is off the cam shafts are exposed. It was all I could do to keep from grabbing my laptop and ordering some more aggressive replacement cams. One step at a time. First replace the seal which actually wasn’t in bad shape. It was a bit frayed at the edges but there wasn’t any serious wear that I could see.

This is the point where I got excited, threw the camera to the side, replaced the seal and threw the new cover on without taking any pictures. I’ll learn eventually. I did it by the book (well by the Haynes Manual). I put a bit of grease on the seal, fitted it into the cover and replaced the bolts at the specified torque. Here’s what it looked like after it’s all back together.

Sadly it’s still bleeding a bit of oil. Nothing as bad as it was so I’m thinking the gasket may just need to get seated. Also the grease I applied may be running out a bit. For now I’m just carrying a shop rag with me and hoping for the best.

I ordered the rest of the replacement covers in chrome from British Customs along with a bunch of other stuff. My next post largely depends on what arrives in the mail first.

Thruxton Backstory

I purchased my 2004 Triumph Thruxton back in 2006 (I think). Since then I’ve made minor modifications but all of those predated this blog. Needless to say as a wannabe DIY mechanic a motorcycle modeled after the classic Triumphs is a pretty tempting toy. This post is just some quick back story on what I’ve done before launching into some of the upgrades I’ve been working on.

Up till now I’ve done little more than make the bike ridable. The Thruxton comes in sad shape stock. It sounds like a sewing machine and has a very tame ride. It doesn’t take much to make it much more fun though with the help of a few aftermarket parts.

The first thing I did was pick up a rear fender removal kit. I got it from newthruxton.com just based on a Google search. For the most part the kit worked out great but the quality of the replacement lights that I purchased with it were pretty bad. The tail light burned out because the bulb they had in it was too big and was making contact with the plastic cover. The blinkers were just super low quality (though they were super cheep).

Second I picked up an airbox removal kit and a Predator exhaust from British Customs. Making such a drastic change to the air intake and the exhaust required jetting the carbs which I had a local shop take on for me. With the new exhaust and no air box the Thruxton is a completely different beast.

That’s pretty much all I’ve done up till now but a buddy of mine just picked up a 1972 Honda Scrambler and I helped him to fix up a few small electrical problems last week. After working on his bike I’ve caught myself ordering a bunch of new parts for my Thruxton, it’s contagious. I’ve been telling myself I’d make these upgrades forever so I’m long overdue. This should be fun so stay tuned.

Here’s a quick picture I took with an old phone of my Thruxton and a buddies Street Triple back in 2009. Pretty much hasn’t changed since then but it will soon.