Meet Richard…

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Richard is another one of our techs, and like everyone else here, he is an avid rider. Richard’s personal bike is a Suzuki Gixxer.

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The one you see here is Richard’s street bike and daily driver. Richard had another Gixxer that he raced. Richard enjoys riding Angeles Crest Highway, one of the world’s great motorcycle roads. He’s also an avid cyclist, and he manages to get in something north of a hundred miles a week on a bicycle.

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Meet Derek…

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Derek is another one of the great guys on the CSC team, and like all of us, he has 50W oil flowing through his veins.   Yep, Derek is our kind of gearhead.

Derek has been on board several months now and I have to tell you…I’m impressed with his skills.   Derek is the guy who serviced my RX3 before our recent 2000-mile Baja run, and my bike ran flawlessly the entire time.     He graduated from the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute and this young fellow knows his business.  Derek recently bought the new Harley you see in the photos here, and it’s a cool bike.   Cool, calm, unflappable, and supremely competent…Derek is just the kind of guy you want setting up or servicing your RX3, TT250, or RC3.

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Simon’s new book, the CG engine, and more…

You’ll remember intrepid traveler and good buddy Simon Gandolfi, perhaps the original “most interesting man in the world.”    Simon rode with us on the very first Baja run about 6 years ago, when we rode CSC-150 Mustang replicas the length of Baja and back…

Simon Gandolfi and his CSC-150 somewhere in Baja

I was happy to read this article about Simon’s new book, and I thoroughly enjoyed the photo the story included…

Simon Gandolfi on one of the CG-engine motorcycles used for his world travels

Simon Gandolfi on one of the CG-engine motorcycles used for his world travels

You’ll notice the engine in Simon’s bike above…it’s one of the many variants of the original Honda CG engine.    That engine formed the basis of our CSC-150 Mustang, and it is one of the most frequently-seen motorcycle engine designs on the planet.  The CG engine in all of its forms is manufactured in several countries by several manufacturers, including Zonghsen.   You’ll see them in Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America, North America, and of course, all over Asia.

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In the engineering world, simple designs are elegant designs…and the CG engine is certainly that!

The CG engine is what many would consider old school technology…overhead valves (and only two of them), air cooling, a carburetor, and relatively modest power output.   But folks who would say that are missing the point entirely.  The engine was not developed to win races (although it has done a lot of that, and in fact, CSC took the MSILSF land speed record a few years ago and the CSC-150 has been used in a number of endurance events).

Syl Binau at speed, working to keep the front end down on his LSR California Scooter

TK, Arlene, and yours truly riding our CG-engined CSC-150 Mustangs in the Hell’s Loop Endurance Rally through Death Valley

Bill Murar riding a CSC-150 in the Lake Erie Loop endurance event

The CG engine was developed to take a licking and keep on ticking.   It was specifically designed to keep on trucking with little maintenance and lots of abuse, and it’s done that job very well.

You’re probably wondering:  Why all this information on the CG engine?  Well, it’s because that’s the basic engine design used in our new TT250…

The CSC TT250 engine

The CSC TT250 engine

If you’d like to read the story behind the CG engine click here and take a look at this!

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Gerry’s cool photo of Willie!

This just in from Overland Expo…

WillieWooHoo!

I love it!

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Rhymes with Sunday…

Hey, today is Sunday (Monday if you’re reading this in China, and a lot of folks do), and I’ll tell you what I mean with that title a little further down.

As I promised myself yesterday, I went to the range this morning and I brought two toys with me – the M1A I told you about earlier and a Ruger Gunsite Rifle (aka the GSR).   The GSR is chambered in 308 Winchester, just like the Springfield Armory M1A.  Whew…Ruger, Springfield Armory, Winchester…it gets confusing keeping track of all these manufacturers’ names!

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The GSR is a bolt action rifle, so it will shoot just about any load.  The M1A, on the other hand, is gas-actuated, and when you reload for it the loads have to be within a certain range of powder charges and bullet weights.   Too light a bullet or too light a charge, and the action won’t cycle.  Too heavy a bullet or too heavy a charge, and you’ll bend the operating rod.   The loads I assembled last night were just perfect, and they worked fine in both rifles.   Good times.

After a nice lunch with Sue and a bit of shopping, I was out on my TT250.   While we were eating, though, Sue asked if I had bought insurance on the TT yet.   Oops!  I’d forgotten about that!   I guess I was so excited about picking up the bike that little detail got away from me.

I tried to get the bike insured online from Geico, but the TT was not in Geico’s online database yet.  I called them on their 800 number and the guy took care of me.   For another buck a year, my TT250 is now covered.   Geico comes through!

It was a dumb move on my part forgetting to get the insurance last week, but I’m good to go now.   Every once in a while when I do something dumb like this, it helps me realize I’m moving too fast and I have to pay more attention to the details.  Or, maybe I’m just dumb.   I got in a political argument with a buddy once (talking politics is always a dangerous thing to do), and he told me I was so dumb I probably needed an hour and a half to watch 60 Minutes (you know, the TV news show).   That made me laugh so hard I forgot what we were arguing about.

Anyway, before I took the TT out I rotated the shift lever up one spline, and that worked wonders.   The bike shifts a lot smoother now.  It’s easy enough to do…it took all of a minute and all was well with the world.

Today was a glorious day, and after attending to the above details I was up in the San Gabriels on my way to Mt. Baldy…

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The wildflowers are still in full bloom, and I stopped to get a few photos…

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You probably recognize Glendora Ridge Road.  I’ve been riding and writing about it for years.   It’s a perfect place for breaking in a new bike.  The stretch in the photo below is the actual ridgeline.    It’s a great ride.

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There’s a three-way intersection at the western end of Glendora Ridge Road, and there were a few bikes parked up there this afternoon.   You can just barely make out a Suzuki GS500 parked behind my TT…

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That Suzuki belongs to my new good buddy Andrew, who I met up there today.  We chatted about our bikes a bit and then we rode back to Mt. Baldy.  It was a grand ride.

Check out the sign.   This is a road known for its shenanigans.

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Here’s another cool TT photo.  I couldn’t get the colors exactly the way I wanted in this photo, so I converted it to black and white.  I like it.

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The shot below is one of Andrew headed toward Mt. Baldy Village, with me right behind him.   Andrew is a new rider (he’s been on two wheels for about a year), and he was putting his GS500 through its paces.   I stayed right on his tail.  He pushed the Suzuki hard, but when you get in the twisties, displacement is not the determining factor for how quickly you get through.

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I had fun.   We rode the entire length of Glendora Ridge Road with Andrew trying to shake me, but he couldn’t.   When we stopped at the eastern end, Andrew said he was amazed that a 250 could keep up with him.  Hey, this little TT is a torque monster, and it really shreds in the corners.  We chatted a bit more, and Andrew told me he’s a car designer working with a well-known manufacturer.  I can’t tell you the company, but they’re from Korea and the name rhymes with Sunday…

One last shot, folks, taken from the TT saddle in one of the Mt. Baldy tunnels.

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And folks, that was it for my Sunday.   I hope your weekend was as good as mine.

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A note from Twin Peaks Steve…

Here’s another nice note and a photo from our good buddy Twin Peaks Steve.

Joe:

This is about half of what I hauled on this bike to the Sierras last year.

I have no problem with pushing this bike;  I haven’t even found its limits yet!!!

Steve

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Steve, thanks for writing.   We have to get together for a ride sometime soon!

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A note from Fred…

Ryan shared this note from our good buddy Fred in northern California last week…

Ryan:

Thank you to all the staff at CSC (including Gerry for answering all my service questions).   Your customer service should be cloned at many other companies!

I am enjoying my RX3.  Attached below is a photo from my ride yesterday.

Fred

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Hey, thanks for sending that note, Fred!  We’re glad you are enjoying your RX3.   Your red bike sure looks good against that background!

Keep those photos coming, folks…we love getting them!

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Breath control, sight alignment, trigger squeeze, and Jim…

A tough day of sorts today was, but in a strange way it was a happy one.   My good friend and long-time shooting and riding buddy Jim Wile died 10 days ago, and today was his funeral.

Here’s a shot of Jim in the mountains south of Prescott when we were riding to the Moto Guzzi National Owners Club rally a few years back…

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Jim was a fun guy.   He went through motorcycles at about the same frequency as I change underwear, and thinking back over the years I’ve known Jim it seems like he was on a new bike every time I saw him.   He had to leave the party earlier than most, but if our time here on this planet is measured by motorcycles and great rides, Jim will have outlived us all.   He was a great shooting buddy, too, and we spent a lot of hours sending lead downrange.

Funerals are no fun, but Jim’s funeral was more of a reunion than a time for mourning.  I met folks I had never met before (but I felt like I knew them from Jim’s stories) and I saw a lot of folks I haven’t seen in a long time.   Jim would have liked it.  It was an upbeat event and Jim was an upbeat guy.  I spoke to Jim just a few days before he passed (when he was in the hospital knowing that things were not going well) and he was still talking about a couple of handguns he was going to buy.

Speaking of guns, the latest is the mighty Springfield Armory M1A.  I bought it just before Jim went into the hospital and he was excited to hear about it.   I refinished the stock (a process that takes a couple of weeks).   I am pleased with how it turned out…

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You might wonder why I wanted to refinish the furniture on a brand new rifle.   The stock was rough looking, even though it had nice horizontal streaks from front to rear.   I liked the wood.  I wasn’t crazy about the way it came from the factory.   The finish was crude, but it was a nice piece of walnut.

I wanted to keep the GI look on this rifle, and I think I succeeded.  10 coats of TruOil, 0000 steel wool to subdue the sheen (my preferred finish for gunstocks), and I was there.   That’s an old school approach…it’s what we used to do in the Army before the world went nuts for plastic rifles.   My M1A (the commercial version of the M-14 I carried before the Army went to the M-16) looks great.  The rifle went from a clunker to a thing of great beauty.   Hell, I’d probably still be in the Army if they issued rifles like this (and if I was 40 or 50 years younger).

I’m going to load some ammo tuned to the M1A’s needs tonight and get out to the range tomorrow.  I haven’t shot my new rifle yet, but when I do, I’ll be thinking about breath control, sight alignment, trigger squeeze, and my good buddy Jim Wile.

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Meet Mike…

From time to time I’ll write a blog telling you about the great folks we have here at CSC Motorcycles. I’ve been meaning to do that and then, this morning, I saw this very cool Ford pulling into the parking lot.  It was our very own Mike!

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Mike is a cool guy who’s like everyone else here at the Motorcycle company….he’s a gearhead through and through.   Mike owns a bunch of cool Suzuki supermoto bikes and he rebuilds vintage Hondas…like the two very intriguing Honda CB160s in the bed of his Ford pickup…

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Chances are if you’re on an RX3 or a TT250 Mike is one of the guys who did the setup.   We have a few other good men (just like the Marines, I guess), and I’ll be telling you more about them in the next few weeks.

And speaking of vintage Hondas, I love them…especially the CB160.  The Honda CB160 was the first motorcycle my family ever owned…my Dad bought one in 1965, when I was 14 years old.   That was a fun summer.

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Later, folks…time to get back on the RX3 and ride!

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A recommended maintenance check…

So, imagine you’re a company with a hard-earned reputation for being super responsive, looking out for your riders’ best interests, and being open and honest with your customers.   Next, imagine one of your customers with roughly 15,000 miles on his motorcycle calls up and tells you that his right engine cover literally cracked open and is spewing oil.  What do you do?   Do you sit tight, cross your fingers, keep your mouth shut, and hope it never happens to anyone else?   Or, do you rapidly determine what happened, let your riders know about it, and tell them how to check their bikes so they won’t have the same problem?

You can guess where this story is going.   This actually happened.  The first thing we did when we got that phone call was to look at an engine drawing.   Based on what the customer told us and our drawing review, it looked like the crankshaft nut loosened,  ultimately came off the crankshaft, and then it (and possibly the drive gear) jammed into the right engine cover.   The next day, our customer disassembled his bike and found that was precisely what had occurred.

We quickly contacted Zongshen, as this was the first time this had occurred in North America.   Worldwide, Zongshen told us they had seen one other instance.   That sounds like this failure might be an unusual occurrence, but you know and we know that here in the US, we are racking up more miles on our bikes than anyone else.

Steve, Gerry, and I talked about this.   My RX3 (with about 12,000 miles) may be the second highest mileage RX3 in the US.  Gerry said he wanted to pull the right engine cover on my bike and check the crankshaft nut.  I rode my RX3 in this morning and we did exactly that.

Here’s what it looks like inside the RX3 engine when the right engine cover is removed…the red arrow is pointing to the crankshaft nut (Gerry had already bent the nut’s locking tab back when I shot this photo).

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The good news is that the nut was in place.   The bad news is that while it was more than finger tight, it came off fairly easily and it had not been Loctited in place from the Zongshen factory.  Chances are if I continued to rack up the miles, it would ultimately loosen and suffer the same kind of failure as described above.

Here’s the bottom line:  We recommend that you pull the right side engine cover as part of your 10,000-mile service, remove the crankshaft nut, replace the locking tab, reinstall the nut with red Loctite, and torque it to 100 ft-lbs.  The tutorial below shows how to do this.

The first thing you need to do is drain the oil and the coolant.   You can see how to do this in our other maintenance tutorials.

Remove the brake lever.  To do this, pull the cotter pin and the brake actuation pin, pop the cover off the swingarm, and remove the locknut on the end of the brake lever pivot bolt.  Unscrew the brake lever pivot bolt and remove the brake pedal.

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Remove the water pump.

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Remove all of the bolts securing the right engine cover.  The two shown below will make you invent new cuss words when you are trying to remove them.  They are the only two Allen bolts on the right engine cover (Zongshen probably did this because they are difficult to get to), but it doesn’t really help.   They are way overtorqued from the factory, and we end up whacking on these two with a chisel to get them started.   When we replace them, we use shorter hex head bolts, which are a lot easier to get on and off.

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Remove the right engine cover.

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With a screwdriver, bend the crankshaft locking tab back, and then remove the crankshaft nut.

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Install a new locking tab, apply red Loctite to the crankshaft nut, and torque it to 100 ft-lbs.   You’ll need to keep the crankshaft from turning when you do this.   The easiest way to do that is to use a drive on the crankshaft’s Allen socket on the left side of the engine.

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After torqueing the crankshaft nut to 100 ft-lbs, bend the locking tab over one of the flats to lock the nut in place.  We start it with a chisel, and then use a channel lock pliers to bend it the rest of the way.  We then gently tap it with the chisel to snug it up against the nut.

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When you do this, take care not to let the channel lock pliers touch the end of the crankshaft.  That’s a bearing surface that seals against a seal in the engine cover.  If you scratch or gouge the crankshaft end, it will create an internal oil leak.

Assembly is the reverse of disassembly, with a few things we’d like to point out.

Use a new gasket.

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When you are installing the right engine over, the water pump drive has a pin that fits into its driver, as shown in the next two photos.  Take care to align the pin with the grooves in the driver.  You can turn the pump’s impeller to allow the pin to find its way into the drive.

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As I said above, assembly is the reverse of disassembly.  Tighten the cover bolts to 5 ft-lbs, reinstall the brake lever assembly, reinstall the water pump cover, replace the coolant, replace the oil, and you’re good to go.

Oh, back to that first question:  What do you do…hope it never happens again or let the people who trust you (our riders) immediately know about it so they know what to check?    Hey, I work for Steve Seidner at CSC.   There was never any doubt about the answer in my mind.

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