Red Dog and Me

This is an on-going dialog between me and a certain motor scooter, namely a 2009 Piaggio MP3 500 that came to live with me in October of 2009. I've named the scooter Red Dog and as yet have not determined its gender. In the past when I've named boats, bikes, and other like characters I've thought of them as feminine due to their behavior characteristics. Red Dog I'm not so sure about...we'll see. Update: OK, Red Dog's a girl...with an attitude

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August 18, 2010 - Fine tuning the Uni-Go trailer

Today I spent some time messing around with the UniGo trailer and I think I may have finally resolved the occasional fish-tailing issue. It was simple enough to do; when all else fails follow the factory's advice so I removed the shim I'd installed to level the tub up. They claimed they'd built-in a slight offset list to counteract fish-tailing....???

After doing that I carefully loaded my regular camping gear in it and set out for a trial ride into town. Although it never once fish-tailed there still seemed to be a slight swaying present most of the time, not severe but noticeable. It had a familiar feeling and it finally dawned on me that it strongly resembled the way my old Yamaha XS-1 felt the other night when the rear tire was going flat.

I returned home and checked the air pressure all around and although it wasn't low it got me to thinking about what Jerry Smith had observed the other day; that the rear tire seemed low. I looked up the factory recommended pressure settings and found I had it set spot-on for a solo rider at 35 lbs. Considering that the added weight generated by the trailer would be similar to that of a passenger it was woefully inadequate. The recommended setting for two-up riding was 41 lbs; 6 lbs heavier so I moved up to that level and went for the same ride into town and then out to Bullard’s Beach to photo the lighthouse.

Happy little lighthouse

Everything you need to know about our lighthouse

The difference was immediately apparent; there's now barely any noticeable sway and no fish-tailing whatsoever. I rode at regular highway speeds up to 60+ mph which is about where I’d be towing a trailer with any vehicle.

What gravel?
As an added measure of evaluating road worthiness I made several stops along the shoulder of the road including some very rough sandy and gravel surfaces. I also ran over a nasty stretch of weather damaged road twice, the first time hitting most of the deepest pot holes and the second time using sudden avoidance turns.
What Sand?
Red Dog accepted them all without mishap and I never once felt uneasy with her handling or balance.

Son-of-a-gun, I think she's ready for a tour!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Aug 01, 2010 – Tweeking that darn saddle

Yesterday I shimmed the front of Red Dog's saddle up ¼” using spacers under the mounting bracket. The difference in riding position was noticable so today I added another ¼” of spacers bringing the total change to ½”. It was a simple enough operation; I used 3 thick steel washers under each of the 4 mounting bolts and that did the trick.
The saddle shims went under this bracket

I also moved the backrest towards the rear about 3/16th of an inch which doesn’t sound like much but I think it’s enough. Back rests are funny critters, they can take the load off your back while riding but if they’re positioned too far forward they work against you and can cause fatigue or worse.

A friend of mine recently experienced some very painful back problems that were traced to the position of the back rest on his Goldwing. It was too far forward and whenever he hit a hard bump it telegraphed to his kidneys. After five days on the road it was so bad he had to stop riding for several days to recuperate. Until then I'd no idea such a thing could happen.

Once the adjustments were made I was ready for a test run. I rode south on 101 around 20 miles to Port Orford, then on the way back I rode out to the Cape Blanco Lighthouse. Once I left highway 101 and headed west I could see solid fog banks moving in along the cape. By the time I reached the park area it was totally socked in and the temperature dropped dramatically. It was so cold I had to turn the heated grips on.
Freezing cold in August no less! What's that all about?

Choppy cross winds made riding very rough, one moment they hit you hard enough to drive you off the road and the next moment they stopped. By the time I arrived home I’d only logged around 60 miles but felt as if I’d ridden 100. That’s how it is on the coast sometimes, you never really know what to expect.

Time for a repaint Coos County!

At least the saddle issues seem to be improving to the point I probably won’t take it back to Rich’s. The shims raised it enough that I'm not sliding nearly as much and that’s what I was after.

Some time in the next few days I’ll do some riding with the Unigo trailer hooked up and see how that affects things. The last time I pulled it I had it loaded to the point it was overloaded and the handling was affected.

I may get in touch with the manufacturer for some additional advice on loading techniques. Once it’s all sorted out I should be ready for my first outing with it, something I’m very much looking forward to.

Stay tuned...