Shock Collar

View of entire shock with remote preload adjuster installed

Nice new preload adjuster (red) for my Husqvarna

I ordered a remote preload adjuster for the shock on my Husqvarna TC 449 from the Husqvarna performance parts catalog. It arrived yesterday. What a pretty piece of equipment it is!

Remote preload adjuster from the Husqvarna performance parts catalog

A beautiful piece of kit

The point of the adjuster is to replace the lock rings that come on the shock so one could adjust the rear sag of the bike with a 8mm t-handle wrench after only removing the seat. The rings that come stock on the shock are only accessible after the right side plastics are removed, and then to adjust the sag, one must use a drift, as there still isn’t enough clearance to use a shock spanner.

OEM lock rings on a KYB shock

Lock rings? What are we, cavemen?

Shock removal went exactly as the Husqvarna service manual said it would, pretty simple. Removing the spring was harder than I expected. The shock body isn’t long enough to allow the clevis to be removed even with the lock rings moved all the way up the threads – I had to use a spring compressor to get the requisite clearance.

The adjuster threaded on easily, and adjustment pin loosened up nicely just from the installation.

Remote preload adjuster installed on shock


Putting the shock back on the bike was a chore – the adjuster fits nicely in the space provided, but doesn’t allow enough clearance to the gas tank to fit the top eye of the shock into its space on the frame. I had to loosen up the muffler clamp and the bottom bolts of the subframe, and then remove the top subframe bolts completely so I could tip the gas tank back far enough to install the shock. That worked, and isn’t too much of a hassle for future servicing.

The adjustment collar fits nicely and works very well. It should make trackside sag adjustments a snap.


Pretty On The Inside

Wiseco standard compression piston for YZ426F


My venerable race bike is going to a new home. I am lending my 2000 Yamaha YZ426F to my little brother, in the hopes that he will come racing with us. To make sure that he can’t weasel out of it with a mechanical complaint, I helped him put a new top end in it.

The plan was to replace the stock piston with a Wiseco standard compression unit, replace the timing chain, and check the head. All the parts arrived a week or two ago.

We started with a valve inspection. Everything was spot on. That’s great, because it saved us a trip to the dealership to get new shims, and because it means the valves haven’t moved at all since the last time I did the top end.

Then we pulled the head, cylinder, piston, flywheel and stator. John did all the work on cleaning up the gasket surfaces on the cylinder while I threaded the new timing chain onto the crankshaft. We had lunch and a beer, and then took the cylinder to Elli’s Cycles for a quick hone.

Back home, everything went together easily. Assembly is harder than disassembly; you have to clean everything before you reassemble it, many parts need to be lubricated before you install them, and everything needs to be torqued carefully in sequence.

Once it was all together, I filled it with fresh coolant and oil, and let John start it up.

It fired right up and ran at a nice idle, with no funny noises, smells, or leaks. Yay! Another oil change, and it will be time for a break-in ride!

Broken spokes

Two broken spokes on the left hand side of the rear wheel of a Yamaha TT-R 230


I planned to go riding with my buddy Walter last weekend, but had to cancel at the last minute. Just as I was about to load my trail bike onto the trailer, I found that I had multiple broken spokes from my last outing. Drat!

I bought a full rear wheel spoke kit from Yamaha last year for my TT-R 230 because, frankly, it breaks a lot of spokes. I don’t know whether to be mad… Dang Brazilian dirt bikes! What are the spokes made out of? Candy? Cheese?

…or be circumspect about it. Since so many have broken, I went through the rear wheel last year and replaced every spoke that couldn’t be adjusted. Now, when another original spoke breaks, it’s a bit like when your kid loses a baby tooth… inevitable, and mildly inconvenient, but just a part of life.

Anyway, today was the first day of “Garagemas” for me… a festival of fixing things. I pulled the wheel off, removed the tire and tube, forced two new spokes in, and put it all back together. About 2 hours of work, I’d guess.

Let’s hope it doesn’t break any more rear spokes for a few rides, eh?

Warm and Squishy

Mud on TC449 front fender

full frontal filth

Today, the high temperature was 53 degrees F – pretty darn hot for late December! I decided to celebrate the great weather with an afternoon of riding at Coyote Trails.

The only problem with Coyote trails is that it’s all clay. When it’s been wet (and it has been) that clay turns into snotty, slippery, sticky mud that cakes everything and makes motorcycling hard. But I only had the afternoon free, and Coyote trails is close at hand, so that’s where I went.

I was worried on the way there, because I could see standing water in the fields along the way. That’s usually a sign that the trails are going to be snotty and rutted. When I arrived, every ATV and bike I saw was brown and drippy. And my new Husky was so clean! Oh well.

I took the bike out on the trails, and was immediately impressed with its handling, traction, easy clutch, and super tractable motor. As crazy tall as the Husky TC 449 is, it was the easiest ride through deep mud I’ve ever experienced. This Husky plain WORKS in ugly situations – no fuss, no drama, just stability and traction, and controlled grunt from the motor. It’s like having one of those “easy buttons” from the Staples commercials.

I met a pair of dads and a pair of sons out on the trail on their bikes. They had spent the whole day riding, and were all pretty dirty. We chatted for a nice while at the end of the day. That’s one of the things that I like best about dirt riding – you meet some really nice people, out there, in the mud.

New and Old

Husqvarna's new style

Husqvarna is going with a new look

I bought a 2011 Husqvarna TC449 yesterday from Gateway BMW/Hsuqvarna. Today was my first chance to ride it. I loaded it and my 2000 Yamaha YZ426F, picked up my little brother John, and went to Saint Joe State Park. It was a beautiful day. Both bikes worked great. The Husky is taller, longer, and stiffer feeling than the YZ. It’s engine is simultaneously powerful and friendly. Where the YZ spins its rear tire and wants to bring the rear artound on the throttle or on the brakes, the Husky is super stable and just drives out of corners with no drama at all. Even when you break the rear loose on purpose,, it just hangs out there, lazily, never threatening to swap.
I had gone for an hour, charging whoops and powering out donuts in the sand before I had my first spill – in the middle of a feet-up power slide through loose sand, I sideswiped an old stump, and launched myself over the high side. No pain and no damage, just a mouth full of sand for my carelessness. All part of the fun.