Monday, December 27, 2010

K1200GT tyre pressure adjustment technique

Note that this probably also works with other BMW models with the tyre pressure monitoring (RDC) option fitted, but I have only tried it on my K1200GT.

If you need to adjust your tyre pressures and you don't have a tyre pressure gauge with you:

  1. ride the bike until the dash starts displaying the pressures
  2. stop the bike and then stop the engine, without touching the key in the ignition. Use the kill-switch
  3. adjust pressures, noting that as you do so, the dash display changes
  4. ride the bike :-)

This may be obvious to people smarter than me.  RDC is a wonderful feature to have.

End of year roundup

A quick blog post to wrap up 2010...

Work: Happy, challenged, excited. No serious complaints. Learning about AIX and Puppet, and of course Linux sysadmin continues to be my main role. Looking forward to the SAGE-AU conference in Melbourne, in September 2011. Didn't take as much time off as I should have, but riding my bike to and from Hobart for the 2010 SAGE-AU conference was extremely satisfying and gave me a good chance to be out of the office and clear my head.

Not-work: In May I started living and working in Sydney full-time. Have been appreciating commuting by train. I ditched my Nokia E71 for an iPhone 3GS and am loving it; it has been the single most satisfying tech purchase I have ever made. Haven't spent as much time in the gym as I should have, but this sorry state of affairs will not continue. I haven't spent nearly as much quality time with Anna as I'd like (we do live in different cities, after all), but I am hoping that this can improve in 2011.

Motorcycling, overall: I put about equal kilometres on the Dakar and K1200GT this year, and in total, rather fewer than last year. I don't have an odometer figure for the K-bike as of January 1 this year, but I do for the Dakar. A combined total of about 35000km, I think. The K1200GT odometer currently reads 51610km, and the Dakar odometer tells a very similar tale. My BMW Roadside Assistance subscription proved worthwhile as I achieved four punctured tyres in three months of riding.

K1200GT: This year saw a lot of warranty repair work on the K-bike, mostly at the time of the 40000km service, where it was at the dealer for a month or more. It now has a K1300 gearbox and clutch, and this does appear to be a bit better than the old units, but still not nearly as good as your average Japanese bike, such as a friend's Blackbird that I had the significant pleasure of borrowing.

F650GS Dakar: 2010 saw this bike back on the road after a bit of a hiatus, and I still have a deep, abiding love for it, especially the delightful little Rotax engine. 40000 and 50000km services were done, and I with the aforementioned Blackbird owner's help, I finished the Pro-Oiler install. The bike still needs more work, though, needing new chain/sprockets, new tyres and (for the second time) new steering head bearings. Michelin's perennial supply problems caused me to get Pirelli's gimmicky new Angel ST tyres instead of my usual Pilot Road2, and this was a mistake that I won't repeat.

Projects: In 2010 I acquired a Honda XL250 K0 (early 1970s model) and the other day I also acquired (Free! Thanks, Norm!) a Honda CT110 "postie" bike. The XL250 has a long road ahead, as I'd like to fully restore it. The CT110 on the other hand I would like to have registered and ridable as soon as possible. I don't think it will cost very much at all to get there. Job #1 is to transport it to my Sydney garage from its current location.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Corporate acquisitions: a quick survival guide

Almost three years ago, my employer was acquired by its major competitor. Having been through a very similar situation at a previous employer that ended in a fairly nasty fashion, this initially had me rather worried. Now, having had time to watch the intricate corporate dances play out, I can see that the two situations are chalk and cheese, and I'm rather happy about that.

Along the way, I learned a few lessons. I learned them from talking to other people involved, on both sides of the corporate fence and from my own experiences.

Most important, I think, is to embrace change. You're going to get it, whether you like it or not. It can be very hard work to remain positive in times of corporate upheaval, especially if some of your colleagues are incurable cynics and doomsayers, but in the long run it is worth it.

The next most important thing, in my opinion, is to engage with your new peers. Don't just listen passively in interminable phone conferences if you can avoid it. Get over there in person and talk to them! Stop thinking of them as competition. They're people, just like you, and it is extremely likely that each side can learn something from the other.

One of the first serious engagements I had with my new peers was a meeting to talk about the deployment of the acquiring company's standard operating environment for corporate desktop PCs.

I vividly recall attending a phone conference with my manager and a group of tech and managerial staff from the other side. My manager and I were on the receiving end of what seemed like an unreasonably hard sell, and given our relative inexperience with large-scale desktop management, we were actually extremely eager to adopt the desktop standard that was being pushed at us.

At one point I politely interrupted the meeting and made it crystal clear that we were just as interested in it as them, since desktop management was something we'd never really succeeded at to any degree. We wanted them to do it so that we could get on with our real work! The SOE proponents seemed thoroughly shocked, but with that part out of the way, we got down to details that actually mattered. The sailing was much smoother after that, and the end result thoroughly positive.

A nice side-effect of embracing change, as we did with desktops, is that it helps your new peers to see you in a positive light right from the start. You sure don't want to be thought of as that toxic old guy in the corner who hates anything new or different. First impressions are lasting impressions.

That pattern has repeated several times over the last three years, and the learning has continued on both sides. There have been exceptions, of course. There were people (from both sides of the acquisition, it must be said) that appeared unable to fully accept the reality of the acquisition. That's fine --- it was their choice. Just don't let their choices ruin it for you.

Friday, August 6, 2010

K1200GT update

Recently my K1200GT had its 40000km service, and at the same time I asked the dealer to investigate the gearbox and suspension.

The gearbox had been exhibiting three nasty behaviours.

First, it was extremely clunky. BMW bike gearboxes are infamous in this regard, but my bike was notably worse than usual.

Second, it would occasionally pop out of gear while decelerating with the throttle closed, ie. engine braking.

Third, it would sometimes appear to get wedged such that the gear lever had no impact on gear selection. When this happened, the gear display on the dash would go completely dark. Blipping the throttle sometimes freed up the gear selection. This was particularly annoying when pulling up at traffic lights, as I would typically be stuck in 3rd or 4th gear.

The suspension, meanwhile, had become extremely hard and uncomfortable. Unacceptable on the Princes Hwy in Sydney.

The dealer was happy to address these problems. The gearbox was replaced, and while they were in there they replaced the clutch as well. The entire rear suspension damper was replaced, and the ESA wiring for the front damper was also replaced. They also replaced the front brake pads and, somewhat worryingly, rebuilt the final drive unit. All of this work was warranty work and not charged for.

I am somewhat unhappy about the whole situation. The bike, a late 2008 model, only has 45000km on it as of today. I don't expect that it has much resale value left. Will reassess the situation when the 50k service rolls around.

Sydney to Hobart day 1 - Canberra

I left Sydney early today to visit Anna in Canberra. It was a good first test of the Jett heated vest I picked up on Wednesday. The vest exceeded my expectations. Very happy!

Tomorrow I head to Port Melbourne to board the 1930 ferry to Devonport. The Hume route is pretty dull, especially once in Victoria where the conversion to dual carriageway was completed years ago. Am interested in how the NSW Hume upgrades are going, having not been through there in the last 12 months.

Am feeling a bit nervous about the ferry trip across Bass Strait. Lots of people are telling me to expect seasickness...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Delicious thumper vibes

Dakar shadow, originally uploaded by indigoid.

For a few weeks now I've been riding my 2007 F650GS Dakar instead of the K1200GT, due to the latter having its gearbox replaced under warranty, and also its 40000km service. I don't expect to get it back from the dealer for at least another week, possibly longer. The Dakar has been tremendous good fun, so I'm not too worried.

A couple of nights ago I had 15 minutes to kill on the way home, so stopped by the Royal Australian Mint to try an arty shadow shot of my bike. I think it turned out kinda OK, but of course it could be better.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Big Pig's birthday!

Big Pig's birthday!, originally uploaded by indigoid.

Yep, I've had it for a year now.

I celebrated by going for a ride, of course. Went south from Mortdale along Princes Hwy past Wollongong, took the Illawarra Hwy exit to Macquarie Pass, enjoyed the challenging twisty roads therein, and stopped for a couple of chunky-beef pies at Robertson Pie Shop. The pie shop is a well-known friend of motorcyclists, but I'd never been there before. I have now, and am most impressed. From Robertson I continued along Illawarra Hwy through Sutton Forest, then turned right onto the Hume and headed back to Mortdale as if I was travelling from Canberra. About 270km in total, and most enjoyable. Here's a map:

View Larger Map

Later, on the way to Newtown for dinner and bookshops, the K1200GT's odometer ticked over to 40,000km. It has been fun, but now I need to organise another service. Thankfully I am told that this one shouldn't be quite as expensive as the services at 20k and 30k...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Water in Lake George!

Lake George with water in it!, originally uploaded by indigoid.

Yesterday evening a friend and I drove back from Sydney to Canberra in his Isuzu County. While he was driving around Lake George I snapped a couple of pics and some video of the visible standing water. Google hints that this is the first time since 2001 that Lake George has had water in it.

The Bureau of Meteorology says Canberra has had about 56mm rain in the last 72 hours. Hopefully a change for the better. Our passionfruit plants noticed and have started fruiting. Yay!

One thing's for sure --- I sure wouldn't want to be one of those sheep on Lake George right now!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Big props for BMW Roadside Assistance

Warning!, originally uploaded by indigoid.

After yesterday's puncture I called BMW Roadside Assistance to see if I could get the bike and I transported to Procycles today for new tyres. They organised it and early today I got a call from a transport company saying they'd picking us up at 1100-1130. Sure enough, they turned up on time and delivered us to Procycles. This was a thoroughly satisfactory and painless experience. Much better than I've had in the past with other roadside assistance services.

Hopefully the new tyres will last as long as the old ones. Odometer when I picked up the bike with new tyres fitted was 36465 km. Hopefully the next set will be on the far side of 60000 km!

Monday, February 1, 2010

My first motorcycle tyre puncture

K1200GT rear puncture, originally uploaded by indigoid.

Today I booked the K1200GT in for two new tyres at ProCycles in St. Peters. Michelin Pilot Road2 again. The current set have lasted about 26000 kilometres. I am pretty happy with them.

On the way home from work this evening I had to weave between a few bits of glass and other debris on the road, especially in the tunnel that goes under the runway at Sydney Airport. Clearly I didn't miss everything, as the GT's tyre pressure monitoring told me that I was slowly losing pressure in the rear tyre. I am very glad that the leak was slow enough for me to get home. Normally I run about 2.9 bar in the rear, but by the time I made home to Mortdale the display was reading 2.3 bar.

I cannot overstate just how useful the pressure monitoring is. Without it, despite best intentions, I probably wouldn't have noticed the puncture at all until tomorrow morning or until the bike really started handling badly. By that time there could have been damage to the wheel as well as the tyre, and repairs would be far more expensive. Instead, I was able to keep an eye on the pressure and feel confident that I could ride safely home. The system gives you far more than just relief from wielding a tyre pressure gauge. Highly recommended.

Friday, January 22, 2010

GPS not included

Good morning!, originally uploaded by indigoid.

A couple of nights ago I went out to my bike in order to head up to Newtown in search of books again. I was displeased to find that my GPS and its Hornig mounting bar (which, frustratingly, also had my RAM camera mount attached) were missing. I deserved this, I guess, since I had become very lazy about removing it from its cradle, just leaving it there most of the time with the "security" screw preventing its easy removal from the cradle. I knew that they could just remove the whole cradle without any real trouble, but having got away with it for almost a year...

Now looking around for a new GPS. Garmin recently announced their Zumo 220. Here's an article about it. Looks like it might be a good option. I'm not sure if I'll get another Hornig mount bar. It cost $200 and while it was a (much!) more solid mount than a RAM equivalent, it wasn't any more secure. We'll see...

Most of the time I only used the GPS as a more accurate speedometer. Perhaps this hike/run/cycle watch might be a better option while I assess the navigation-capable GPS landscape. Not sure how I'd mount it, but I'm sure something could be arranged.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Flickr / Blogger interoperability could be improved

Flickr's "blog this" option would work better if:

  • Blogger (or Flickr, it matters not) didn't translate newlines to BR tags[1]
  • You could select more than one picture to include in a blog posting
  • You had the option of having all Flickr "blog this" posts be saved by Blogger as drafts for later editing, instead of them being immediately published
[1] When I write a new post in the Blogger interface this seems to be off by default. Not sure why it happens to my Flickr-sourced blog posts. Odd.

A different breed of science fiction

King St., Newtown, originally uploaded by indigoid.

For some time now I'd been on a fairly serious fantasy fiction binge. I'd long had Brian Aldiss' Helliconia Winter on the shelf, but had never read it. Recently I found a second-hand copy of the first book in the series, Helliconia Spring and started reading it. It has been most enjoyable.

Far too much fantasy fiction seems to be about combat and magic, and not enough about the very characters involved in such events. Fun for a while, but it gets dull. Robin Hobb's writing seems to be a pleasant relief from such drudgery. As a general rule, according to a colleague, any fantasy fiction written by a female Australian author is likely to be good. I haven't tested this to a great degree yet, but I have in the past thoroughly enjoyed Cecelia Dart Thornton's work, particularly The Ill-made Mute.

Happily, I found, at Elizabeth's Bookshop in Newtown, a good second-hand copy of the middle book in the Helliconia series: Helliconia Summer. I now have all three and hence no frustrating delays will be experienced. :-)