Another FJ09 Oil Pan Bites the Dust

So, as you guys may have read in a previous blog of mine, I did a 12 Step “how to” to replace your FJ09/FZ09/MT09/Tracer oil pan after you crater your shit. If not, you can read it here:

The 12 Step How to Replace the FJ09 Oil Pan

Well, so, yeah…I smashed another oil pan the other day. Luckily, it wasn’t nearly as bad as shearing off the entire bottom of the oil pan like I did last time. This time, I simply put a small hole in it while parking for an epic photo. Yes, while parking. I was doing approximately half a mile an hour. *sigh* I was so livid that I didn’t even get the shot I wanted.

fj09 oil pan cracked fz09 oil pan mt09 oil pan

Long story short, I was at the top of Sonora Pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountains when I cracked it. Kevin and I were screwing around with various photo ops.

fj09 wheelie mt09 wheelie tracer
minutes before FJ09 oil pan disaster #2

I saw this gorgeous pull out with an amazing vista and I wanted to stop for a picture of the FJ09 sitting atop this giant granite slab overlooking the valley below. There was a small bump, maybe 4″ in height that I super slow rolled over top, as I have a CONSTANT fear of cratering my oil pan on this damned bike, and sure enough, it made gentle contact. I mean barely. It hardly even touched the rock. I even giggled to myself thinking that there’s no way that would have damaged it. I step off the bike, walk over to Kevin for a second, turn around….and there it was. The puddle of oil already starting to form.

fj09 cracked oil pan puddle
my FJ09 gets scared every time I pull off the pavement now and it pisses itself.

I let out a LOOONG and LOUUUD string of expletives. Kevin almost looked panicked. I can’t even imagine what he was thinking when I suddenly burst out yelling and cussing. Ultimately, I told him we had to go, and go asap, before all the oil was drained out of my bike.

I coasted down most of the east side down to highway 395. I then alternated between 6th gear—low engine load—and pulling in the clutch and killing the motor for the 17 or so miles it took to go north to Walker, CA, where a store there happened to have JB Weld. I lost about a quart of oil in the 35 mile or so trip.

fj09 fz09 mt09 oil pan tool kit
the “Essential FJ09/FZ09 Oil Pan Tool Kit” ..I think I might start marketing these as a package.

I threw the FJ09 on it’s side in disgust, cleaned up as much of the oil as I could, and JB Welded the oil pan up. I currently have Givi crash bars on it for “just in case” moments… I didn’t realize when I got them that I’d be needing to lay it on it’s side on purpose to fix oil pan issues. Ugh.

fj09 oil pan on it's side jb weld
it looks sad, I know. Because it IS sad.

I left the FJ09 laying there on it’s side for the better part of half an hour, essentially, watching paint dry.

fj09 oil pan jb weld

All in all, it got me home. But now I’ve got to buy ANOTHER FREGGIN OIL PAN. Ugh! So, to prevent any future freggin disasters, I’ve spent a bunch of time researching, and I’ve found higdonion.com

They’re having a group buy right now, so I’m all in. I’m getting the skid plate and crash bars. The group buy is currently sitting at $75 off, with the potential to go $100 off if more people get in on it. Thus far, I’ll have spent over $400 in oil pans…I should have got the skid plate from the get go, and I would have been ahead.

https://www.groupbuyparts.com/hgd_sv/higdonion-upper-cage-add-on-or-full-crash-cage.html

Higdonion has skid plates, crash cages, frame sliders, and other protective products for the FZ09, FJ09, XSR900, and the FZ07.

This is what I’m going to put on my bike:


fj09 higdonion skid plate

You’re Crazy for Putting a Shinko on your Bike

Shinko 009 Raven Radial Rear Motorcycle Tire 180/55-17 XF87-4047

Ha! I bought this tire as an experiment…I’ve always ridden hypersport tires on the street and race tires on the track…and I’ve always steered WAAAY clear of Shinko… but I have an “old man bike” now (Yamaha FJ09/MT09/Tracer…whatever you call it in your country). The tire is good. In fact, it’s GREAT on my bike. I turn TC off every time I get on the bike (how the hell else am I supposed to do wheelies!?) and I run it in A mode (pure, un-ECU-flashed angry A-mode!).

I’m not slow. And this tire works.fj09 fj 09 mt09 tracer yamaha iowa hill road

Normally, I get around 1000 miles on a Pirelli Rosso 2 rear or about 1400 miles on a Dunlop Q3 rear… so far, I’ve put 600 twisty miles on this tire, and aside from striations and some minor tearing of the leading edge of the tread, it barely looks touched (the tearing is undoubtedly due to the stock shock being undersprung). I wanted to see if I could get a tire that would last me 3000 miles without being made of bowling ball material…this tire looks like it might be it!

I approached grip cautiously on this Shinko 009 Raven…I expected the worst. I imagined high-siding out of the local Starbucks parking lot the moment I turned the throttle even though my old man bike doesn’t really allow me to carry elbow dragging lean angles like I do on my spr0tbiles at the track…Alas no! Thus far, I’ve been pleased! I’ve even purposely spun it up just to see how it reacted and it’s smooth and predictable. It didn’t spin any sooner than a hypersport tire would.

Trust me, guys, I’m just as shocked to be writing this as you are to be reading it.

All that being said, I’ll be buying this rear tire for my FJ09 again (only $97 on Amazon) if it continues to perform as it has been. I will continue to run hypersport tires on the front of the FJ09, as fronts last me about 2500-3000 miles anyways and I won’t compromise front end grip, no matter the budget. I WILL NOT put these tires on my track bikes…and I’d be somewhat hesitant to put them on a street going hyperdupersupersport-leader-bike GSXR 600-750-1000 yut-ugh as well…mostly because of Shinko’s reputation, not because of real-world experience…

I’ll let you know if I end up upside down because of this tire later on. :D

Buy it here for cheap: Shinko 009 Raven Radial Rear Motorcycle Tire 180/55-17 XF87-4047

shinko 009 raven sport touring

Sportbikes are the Problem, Part 2

As I am sure you have read Joe’s letter to the world, “Sportbikes are the Problem”, I am your savior, I am here with the Solution.

Here is where Joe and I differ, he believes that the FJ-09 is an “Old Man Bike”. Listen here Billy, it’s motor is in a naked street bike with oversized dirt handlebars (comparable to hypermotard, speed triple, etc). No matter what hooptie frame you slap in that there engine block in, there is no way it can be a touring bike. That ain’t no old man bike! It doesn’t have massive side storage pockets!

Unlike Joe, I actually went full AARP and bought myself a proper old man bike, a Honda ST1300. It’s this elongated, elegantly bagged and refined piece of Japanese craftsmanship. Straight from the early 2000’s this bike set the standard for long distance, mile munching comfort. What’s the catch? This piglet weighs in at something like 730lbs, its manly aluminum monocast frame and related giblets aren’t light. It’s a good thing that it makes rocketship like power from it’s 1300cc restaurant freezer like engine. Cause she’s hefty.

st1300 wheelie aerostich od man bike
yeah….she hefty alright.
Continue reading Sportbikes are the Problem, Part 2

The life of the Rallement

I’ve had my beloved Honda Element (affectionately known as the Rallement) for 7 years now. I bought it used with 33K miles on the odometer. I now have 330,600 miles on it. It’s dying now. It needs a heart transplant. And I’m sad.

It’s funny how one can drive so many miles, yet never really leave too far from home. The Rallement has visited California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Utah, and Arizona. It’s literally never been any further than those states. Even though I’ve driven enough miles that I could be nearly halfway home on my return trip from the moon. I could have driven the Rallement to New York City and back 57 times. I could have driven around Earth just over 13 times. There’s so many places I could have gone, things I could have seen. Cultures I could have immersed myself in. People I could have met. Friends, experiences, and memories I don’t have because instead of driving around the Earth 13 times, I simply drove back and forth through the 6 states I mentioned.

honda element rallement
Continue reading The life of the Rallement

First Ride on the Yamaha FZ10

EDIT//

Looks like I’m going to have to edit my article later as I just learned some SHOCKING news from Greg Sharp (thanks for pointing it out)… Yamaha has ditched their conventional A, STD, B mode with this bike and effectively reversed it. B mode no longer being the “rain” mode…It’s now what A mode used to be: full power. So I’ll have to ride it again today in B mode.

END EDIT//

So, I got a chance to play on the new Yamaha FZ10 today (MT10 for you Europhiles). It’s a bucket of fun.

And a quick disclaimer: I am not the person riding in these photos…I took these photos of the World Champ, Scott Russell today. :)

The bike looks like garbage. I’ll just lead in with that. I don’t know what the hell Yamaha was thinking when they designed it. That actually seems to be a bit of a trend lately with Yamaha and their new line up of bikes. Like the FJ09. It too looks like a recycled can. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love it! The FZ10, not at all to be confused with the FZ1, because that’s a COMPLETELY different mo-sheen, also appears to be made of post-consumer products.

The FZ10 is a completely new motorbike constructed of…well…recycled cans and Yamaha bits. It’s got the tail light from an FZ09, the controls of the Super Tenere, the motor from an R1, Johhny 5’s face, and who knows what else.

johhny 5 is alive
“NO DISASSEMBLE!”
Continue reading First Ride on the Yamaha FZ10

Sportbikes are the Problem

Okay, okay, okay! Before you get your panties all in a bunch, I’M not saying sportbikes are the problem…I’m just saying that sportbikes are the problem. Allow me to explain:

Over the last 15 or so years, I’ve owned a handful of bikes. All fully faired, “crotch rocket” style bikes as far as the uneducated masses are concerned. The kind of bike where you see assholes doing wheelies up and down the freeways like lunatics with no regards to anyone else, being menaces to society and probably dealing drugs to kids at the local middle school. You know, sportbikes.

Until last year. I bought what I’ve dubbed an “old man bike.” I got a Yamaha FJ09. It’s the first upright, “non-threatening” street-going motorcycle I’ve owned.

Over the last year and 12,000 miles I’ve put on the bike, my habits in the twisties around other cars haven’t really changed compared to how I was on spr0tbiles back in the day. I still roll up on cars and give them a bit of room. I wait em out for a few mins to see if they’re going to use the turn out like they’re supposed. I’ll gently pass them giving them the shakka when they do in a display of exuberance… or blow their doors off in a look-back wheelie-scowl as I pass them—DY be damned—if they don’t move.

grumpy cat wheelie
“I hate everything.”
Continue reading Sportbikes are the Problem

Quick Ride to Grass Valley

I went for a short ride today. 229 miles on the odo. I’ve been so busy since I got home that I wanted to just stop working for the day and GO RIDE. I haven’t ridden my FJ09 much lately, so it had to be done. And it had to be done today, because it’s supposed to rain everywhere all weekend. Meh.

I headed out the door just before 10am. I grabbed my summer gloves… but took pause and stared at my winter gloves thinking that I should bring them, just in case. Afterall, I do live in Reno. Who freggin knows what’s gonna happen with the weather around here. I decided not to take them.

So, off I go. I have a loose plan: 395n, cut across 70 to hwy 49, and ride to Downieville, be back by 4 so that the family and I can go to the movies. :)

I didn’t make it 30 miles before I was literally cursing myself in my helmet… “Joe, you stupid dumb idiot…you HAVE saddle bags. You HAVE the room to carry stuff. WHY THE HELL DIDN’T YOU BRING THE WARMER GLOVES!? God, you’re SOOOO DUMB!” By the time I got around Loyalton, I saw 47 degrees on the ambient temp gauge. So dumb.

fj09 selfie loyalton
“Joe, you’re fired.”
Continue reading Quick Ride to Grass Valley

An Open Letter to Yamaha

I originally wrote this as an email to Yamaha. It was sent off to Yamaha over a week ago, and I haven’t heard a single peep in reply. So, on behalf of myself, and anyone else who’s experienced this issue with their FZ/MT/FJ09 motorcycle who also agrees with me…here’s an open letter to Yamaha:

———————————————————-

I’m pretty disappointed with Yamaha right now. This is only the second motorcycle I’ve EVER purchased brand new, the first was also a Yamaha.

Long story short, I was riding a fun little section of twisties with my girlfriend, Kinsy, on the back of my new FJ09. I was plodding along around 35-40mph as I crossed a small bridge over a creek. There was a build up of slurry/tar on the transition from road to bridge. Definitely a bump, but nothing so bad to cause for much concern. Until I hit it. And the bike completely bottomed out on the drain plug, shearing off the bottom of my oil pan spraying oil all over my rear tire, saddle bags, undertail, and even all over the backpack Kinsy was wearing.

I didn’t crash. I have lots of experience on two wheels, dirt, track, and street. It was certainly a 500ft death slide afterwards, but I managed to keep it upright in the end.

I’m disappointed because after this happened, I go to research a new oil pan for the bike, I see that I’m not the first person to have this experience. In fact, SO many people have had this happen to them (some in the most trivial of ways), that Yamaha has redesigned the pan and updated their part number to supersede the original design. The originally FLAWED design.

They say recalls are for safety reasons. Like the new 2015 R1, for example. The transmission locks up and causes the rider to crash, as has happened with one of my friends already. Or the o ring on the oil filter assembly does seat correctly, causing oil to spray from the engine, possibly causing someone to crash, as has also happened to another friend of mine.

Well, having the lowest point of contact be the drain plug on a motorcycle isn’t very safe. Decking it out on the ground at 40mph with your loved one on the back, instantly saturating your rear tire with synthetic oil, IS NOT SAFE.

I’m upset because Yamaha has acknowledged that there is an issue without even saying “there is an issue with our original design.” They simply redesigned it and quietly updated their part number to patch over an issue that many of us with the FZ/FJ/MT09 line of motorbikes is having. AND MAKING US PAY FOR IT.

The fortunate ones, such as myself, who don’t actually crash because talent, scenario, or pure dumb luck was on their side are simply left with a:

– $202 bill for an oil pan
– $18 for a new gasket
– shop labor of 2 hours @ $95 per hour
– roughly $400 for a new set of tires (oil was all over both of my tires)
– plus mount and balance fees of $80
– $35 for a new set of rear brake pads
– and 5 hours of their time cleaning up the mess out of the back of their truck they had to tow the bike home with as well as the bike itself.

And sadly, my newly updated how-it-should-have-been-in-the-first-place design of an oil pan DIDN’T EVEN COME WITH A NOTE SAYING “SORRY THAT HAPPENED. HERE’S YOUR FREE OIL PAN CAUSE WE GOT IT WRONG THE FIRST TIME”

I should have waited to buy the Africa Twin.

Sincerely,

Joe Salas
4theriders.com

The 12 Step How to Replace the FJ09 Oil Pan

So, as some of you guys know already, I cratered the oil pan on my FJ09 while riding two up with Kinsy on Carmel Valley Road over xmas. All 3 quarts of yummy synthetic 10w 40 splooged everywhere. On rear tire, the undercarriage, the saddle bags, and even on the backpack Kinsy was wearing. Everywhere. Instant slip-n-slide-deathride.

dead fj09 tracer

So I recently fixed the bike and I took pics throughout the process.

EDIT// here’s the FJ09 FZ09 MT09 updated oil pan part number: B56-13400-00-00

Step 1) Stare at the bike for an incredibly long time, hoping that it will somehow fix itself, only to realize that it will not. And be dissapointed by this fact.

fj09 mt09 tracer oil pan broken
Continue reading The 12 Step How to Replace the FJ09 Oil Pan

Working With The Champ

It’s late in the day at Chuckwalla Valley Raceway. The sun is low in the sky, yet still shining brightly through a thin layer of clouds. The winds are steady, cold, and piercing through my hoodie I’m wearing. Dust is swirling across the track and upwards into my eyes, my nose, and everywhere as far as I can still see on the horizon. There’s grit in my mouth that I’m constantly spitting out. It’s cold. Very cold.

chuckwalla cvma sunset
Where I shall stand
Continue reading Working With The Champ