First test ride: Ride to Eat in Avignon

So it was time to go for a first real long test ride. I had done some minor modifications, trying to fix problems and to do some maintenance. I changed the brake fluid and installed a new chain with new sprockets. The Dispatch 1 gave me same problems – the iPad and the smartphone wouldn’t charge! After a discussion with the manufacturer it turned out that the USB connections supported the USB standard, i.e. 5 V at 0.5 A. However, the iPad requires a 2 A current. So, I had to find another solution: I connected a 2 A USB socket to a 12 V output (normally used for heated garments) – and it works! So this is solved. I had another problem with the new Zumo 350: the cradle wouldn’t work, so I had to change it for a new one – but it didn’t work either.
I was quite worried about the fairing, the upper holders are vibrating a lot and I thought to spot some play in the system. In a short test drive I had to admit that the fairing touched ground way too early and I bent the lower holders to bring the lower fairing closer to the bike. A bit of fairing had to be cut as well. The fairing was slipping downwards and damaged the label with the chassis number. So, would the fairing be stable?
The temperature sensor of the Dispatch 1 that is connected to the oil hose seems to work well and reflects very well the temperature in the oil tank.
So I went on the 3000 km trip to Avignon where the Ride to Eat of the IBA UK was scheduled. I started on Friday afternoon and planned to get to Dijon where I had reserved a hotel. I started in the rain with a full tank and envisaged to avoid a fuel stop. In Luxemburg, heavy rain was bucketing down and I realised that the bike showed some heavy vibrations at 130 km/h?? I continued at 110 to 120 km/h (speed limit in France in the rain: 110 km/h) and tried to forget the nasty rain. After 560 km, I had to stop for the first time: my bladder refused to resist any longer. Anyway, it was the longest stint ever on a motorbike without any stop. In Dijon, I had a problem to leave the motorway: the ticket was wet and I had to call for assistance to be able to pay the toll. Before reaching the hotel, the Zumo 660 started to give me error messages that I still haven’t managed to get rid of (the accessory is not supported). I checked in the hotel and had a small dinner.
The next morning the rain had not stopped. I first had to escape Dijon to ride on the national road through one of the best vineyards of France – Gevrey Chambertin – Vougeot – Nuits St. Georges – Vosne Romanée to Saligny-lès-Beaune where I bagged one location of Grim’s „Motorcycle Museums“ ride.

Savigny-les-Beaune's motorcycle museum - another Grim Trail location

Savigny-les-Beaune’s motorcycle museum – another Grim Trail location

The gate was closed, but I took a picture of the entrance and continued my way to the motorway. Rain, rain, rain. While riding through Lyon, the oil temperature reached only 41°C! I thought I had enough time to stop for lunch in Montelimar, but the situation in the service area was chaotic. The stop took longer than expected so time was running out and I had to push a bit to arrive in time at 4 p.m. in Avignon under the famous bridge. The group was small but we were happy to have reached the destination – not big fun after temperatures around 5°C and all the rain. Michiel made only a stopover and continued to the Pyrenees!

Sous le pont d'Avignon -  Ride to Eat

Sous le pont d’Avignon –
Ride to Eat

After the obligatory picture the remaining 6 riders went to the hotel where we met for dinner after a refreshing shower. We had a nice evening with the usual „petrol talk“. I received a lot of useful information about the Iron Butt Rally from Gerhard, the IBA Germany president. It was so interesting that I didn’t realize how late it was and how many beers I had. Only the next morning I tried to remember and I concluded that the beers were OK, just the red wine was probably the factor in the equation that shouldn’t have been there. So I decided against the planned early start and gave my stomach a couple of hours more rest. When I finally got up for breakfast, everybody was already gone, of course. It was only after 10 a.m. when I hit the road, direction Côte d’Azur. Of course in light rain. The toll booths with its long congestions were a bit annoying, but a slim XBR can pass quicker than an average car….Finally I was in Italy and went on the nice coast motorway to Genova with its tunnels and nice sea views. And the horrible metal slits in the bends where the bike is drifting a bit, releasing some adrenalin into the bloodstream every couple of seconds, woah! I was surprised when I had to turn the fuel tap only after 690 km (429 mls)!! 20 km later I stopped at a service area, after 710 km (441 mls) with one tankful! Another record. As usual, the cashier was flabbergasted when I had to pay more than 35 L of petrol („is this correct??“). As I was in Liguria, I had to eat a pasta dish with some real Pesto Genovese. The rain had mostly stopped, but now the motorway was jammed and I had to filter for about 50 km between the cars, urgh! Finally I could turn north, direction Milano. In the Padan plain, I had some tailwind and the XBR wanted to run faster. As the vibrations at 130 km/h were annoying, I decided to go at 150 km/h. Temperatures were rising and finally I was riding in the sunshine. Time to stop and to take off all the excess winter pants, sweater and winter gloves. The bike liked the high speed and I saw the oil temperature raising to 105°C, still a very good value. At 120 km/h, it was immediately down at 90°C (air temperature 20 °C). I passed the Garda Lake and stopped in Kurtinig in the well known Hotel Teutschhaus that I had reserved in the morning. Bueno, bonito, barato, as the Spanish say. Some relaxing 850 km were sufficient on that day. The next day I continued to my hometown in Germany where I had some issues to take care of. My SRC headset again went nuts and refused to work properly. That’s enough. I had returned it 4 times within the last 2 years.

I arranged a short-notice visit to Mart!n’s garage where he exchanged all the wheel bearings – a preventive maintenance action.

Wheel bearing change by Mart!n

Wheel bearing change by Mart!n

I discovered the reason for the vibrations: I had lost a screw that secures the front axle. Ooops. The next day I went north to Belgium, not without visiting Johannes in Fürth, I had to show him the Naughty Little Rascal in personam. The XBR enjoyed the German Autobahn and I went again at 150 km/h, once I even banged at 170 km/h (105 mph). This would be enough to end up in a county jail in the US.

After 3000 km, I returned well and the bike is in an excellent state. I can’t say this of some electric gadgets. The Garmins…annoying, as usual. The SRC…will be replaced by a deluxe headset from AKE. But overall, this first test ride was successful. In three days, the next test is about to start….R2E Avignon

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