BMW updates – new forks

In general, the little beemer is in very good shape. I’m looking for more in the suspension department, after riding the KTM that has a first class suspension under it. The most cost-effective way to improve the suspension is to replace the dated damper-rod conventional forks with cartridge-type USD forks from a Yamaha YZ125/250/450. All of these forks from about model year 2000 on are the same mechanically – the difference is in the springs and valving which will be replaced anyway.

Off to ebay to find some parts. A few mouse clicks later we have the necessary parts on their way. A set of 48mm forks from a 2004 YZ250F; a set of triple clamps from the same year and model; a brake caliper from a 2006 YZ450F; a front wheel assembly including wheel, tire, brake rotor, axle, and spacers from a 2008 YX450F – these are the main requirements. There will be some assorted small parts, and the forks will need to be rebuilt, resprung, revalved, and the travel limits set for my bike, but swapping the forks is basically a one-day task. Of course, timelines tend to stretch as more things work their way onto the list. Have you ever heard the phrase “Well, as long as we’re in there we might as well take care of the thingamajig?” That is what makes wrenching on a motorcycle take longer than you’d think.

BMW updates begin

Well, I’ve started going over the BMW, and there are some items that need attention. Not everyone would think they need attention, but I will be taking this bike to places where help is many miles away and the nearest bike dealer is many, many miles away. I need to know that everything is ready for the trip, and that spares for the most-commonly needed repairs are with me. To do that I need to start at the front and work my way to the back.

I’ve just ordered a tankbag setup from Twisted Throttle. I like their quick-lock tankbags as I had one on my Ducati. Also, I’ve just ordered new brake pads front and rear. The ones on the bike look fine, but better to have replacements even though they’re not immediately needed. If they aren’t needed before the trip, I’ll probably replace them anyway, just so I won’t have to do that on the road. That kind of work is always easier in the garage than at the side of the road.

I am planning to dissect the cigarette adapter for the DeLorme gps and wire a custom jack on the dash. I’ll hide the 12v to 5v electronics behind the dash, then all I need is to connect the gps to the panel jack and it’s ready. I already have some 2 conductor waterproof panel jacks and line plugs, so this should be a fairly simple project. There is already an SAE connector by the top triple, which could be used for a battery tender, an air compressor, or to run 12v into a tankbag. I may not need any other electrical changes. I am considering changing to a lithium battery from Antigravity Batteries as it saves several pounds and allows easier relocation as the battery pack is much smaller than the OEM battery. It’s not cheap but may be a smart choice in the long run.

I will probably toss the Givi hard bags, but keep the Givi rack and use Wolfman Expedition dry bags. The eastern part of the TAT showed me that hard luggage on an off-road bike is not the best choice, at least for me. I think the combination of the tankbag, the cargo plate, and the dry bags will be more than enough storage and tie-down space for the trip. On the western TAT we’ll be camping, so I’ll be taking a tent, sleeping bag and pad, stove, and some food. All of that should strap on the cargo plate without too much trouble.

I’ll probably replace the wheel bearings front and back, and the steering stem bearings too. I’ve read that they typically need replacement at around 20k miles and that’s how many miles are on my F650. Of course, if I wind up swapping front forks, some of that will be unnecessary, but then I’ll need to get the proper rate springs and valving and the necessary adapters to use the BMW wheel with the USD Yamaha forks. Then I’ll need a new rear shock. And then…

As King Theoden of Rohan said before the battle at Helms Deep, “And so it begins…”