dear diary


January 1 2006, 23,230km

Happy New Year!

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January 12 2006, 24,000km
While trying to start the bike this wet dark cold evening there came a loud bang out of the exhaust. I guess some unburned fuel mixture must have found its way into the exhaust and ignited there? Afterwards the bike started and ran fine.
I'm going to have the tyres changed asap. Hopefully this will cure the troublesome steering.

January 23 2006, 24,700km
We got some of the Russian cold and temps are a bit below zero Celcius. I thought this was the cause of the somewhat sluggish response of the XJ to the throttle. But it seems the front discs are dragging. Got to fix this asap, but it's too cold now.
I believe a taillight is broken too.

January 29 2006, 25,090km
Replaced the left taillight bulb.

February 11 2006, 26,000km
Today I recieved the Howard Leight Max earplugs I ordered a while ago. These plugs are the first I wore that are really comfortable and I could wear them all day. I've got a box of 200 pair, so that should be enough for this season .
The front discs aren't dragging anymore. So this saves me some work.

February 18 2006, 26,500km
Added some air to the tires. Let's see how this affects steering.

February 20 2006, 26,590km
Yep, that worked. Steering improved quite a bit. Maybe it's just the tires after all that are responsible for the lousy steering. Got to change them asap.
The new earplugs work very good. Today I didn't hear an unmarked policecar that drove with bells and whistles a few centimeters behind me. I finally noticed him because the car in front of me made a strange manoeuvre to get out of it's way, and I checked my mirrors to see what caused this odd behaviour. Maybe I'd better check my mirrors more often.

February 28 2006, 27,060km
Right rear indicator light stopped working (again?). It had gotten loose. Bulb was still ok. Fixed it. Seems the light holder can vibrate a lot, must fix this when the weather gets a bit warmer.

March 7 2006, 27,500km
Right rear indicator light stopped working (again!).
Feels like the rear compression damping is too low again. Dunno if there's room to turn it up a bit more. It's too cold to do any work on the bike right now.

March 11 2006, 27,600km
Fixed the indicator light. I hope this time for good.

March 14 2006, 27,700km
Heated gloves stopped working yesterday. Just when I really need them. It's quite cold now, especially in the morning. Murphy? Must be a loose connection somewhere, or the thermostat is broken.
Nope, it isn't the thermostat, checked that one this evening. So that leaves a faulty connection from the bike.

March 15 2006, 27,800km
Found the culprit: it was the fuse of the gloves. Sometimes when I connect the gloves to the bike I see some sparks, indicating that I'm causing a short circuit. And last Monday the fuse gave in. I must be more careful when connecting the gloves...

March 27 2006, 28,500km
Inceased the rear compression damping one click. It's now turned to the max. Dunno yet if it's ok now.
At last spring has really begun with temps above 10 degrees Celcius.

March 31 2006, 28,950km
I have the feeling the front disks are warped. Braking happens in a pulsating manner. Very annoying.

April 7 2006, 29,450km
Went to my dealer for some new tires and brakepads. They didn't have either. I had them order some Metzlers for the XJ. Seems that they work well on this bike.

April 14 2006, 30,000km
Since my dealer still didn't have the tires I went elsewhere and had them fitted: front a 100/90 Pirelli Demon Sport and rear a 120/90 Pirelli Demon Sport. They did cost in total 250 euro.
While changing the tires I could inspect the front discs and they didn't seem warped to me.
The bike felt very good on its new tires. Although steering still is a bit heavy. But it's much better than it has been.
The dealer did have front brake pads (2 sets Ferodo Platinum of 27 euro each) and I'm going to change them probably tomorrow.

April 15 2006, 30,050km
Cleaned the bike. Well, I hosed it down for the first time in several months. The exhaust seem to have withstand salt and water reasonably well. The rims, in contrary, look awefull: lots of oxidation. But as long as it doesn't harm the structural integrity I don't really care.
Changed the brake pads today. A dirty job, but someone has got to do it. Afterward the brakes feld a littly spongy, so I used the rubberband trick: wrap a rubberbank round brakelever and handlebar and leave it for a while. I'm gonna check tomorrow or the day after if it helped.

April 18 2006, 30,150km
Went to work with the bike. Steering felt a lot better, but still not perfect. It's still kinda heavy and I think the front brakes are still dragging. The trick with the rubberband worked, the front brakes are no longer spongy and feel good.
After changing the tires there's a new vibration in the bike. You can feel this especially at low speed. Feels like it's from the rear wheel, but at first glance everything looks ok.

April 24 2006, 30,250km
Bummer, right front fork leg sprung an oil leak. This immediately translates in worse roadholding and could be dangerous in extreme circumstances (e.g. emergency braking or evasive manouevres). I'll call my dealer tomorrow to see if they have the time to fix this asap. In the meanwhile I'll have to use the ZX-12R to go to my work. That's no punishment though.

May 5 2006, 30,333km
Had the leak fixed: 92 euro of which 81 euro for labour. I could have saved myself some money if I weren't afraid of dirty hands. No, replacing a fork seal isn't easy without the proper tools, so it's a job better left to an expert.

May 10 2006, 30,500km
Breaking is kinda smooth now, so I guess the discs aren't warped and this pulsating feeling must have been caused by something else. Worn brake pads?

May 11 2006, 30,600km
I'm hearing some ticking noises when the engine is running. It doesn't get worse when I open the throttle, so I guess it aren't the crankshaft bearings, or big ends. Could be one of the chains in the engine.

June 7 2006, 32,020km
I've got the XJ for eleven months and almost 20,000km now. It's proven to be a reliable bike, fuel economic and comfortable.
At first it felt a bit lazy, but broken in by me it's much better now. Steering still isn't what it should be, but it's kinda ok.
Today I fixed the left front indicator light that had stopped working due to some dirty connections.
The ticking noise is still there, now and then. But an air cooled engine of this age is allowed to make some noise.

June 12 2006, 32,110km
I bought another helmet to keep the Shoei in perfect shape. The other one is a second hand black Schuberth Concept. The guy I bought it from has used it only for his driving lessons. He noticed it was too big, bought a smaller one and sold his old one.
The Schuberth has a build-in dark visor which is very nice. Seems to me that the noise level is lower too, compared to the Shoei.

June 14 2006, 32,200km
Used the Schuberth in the rain today. The visor fogged up very quickly because it's not possible to keep the visor a little bit open at higher speeds. It automatically goes completely shut. I think I'm going to put something between the visor and the helmet to keep it ajar all the time. Just like I always do with the Shoei and other helmets I've had.

I got a message in my guestbook from another XJ owner that keeps a diary. Have a look at:

July 15 2006, 33,420km
Fitted the Garmin Streetpilot GPS to the XJ. Gonna try it asap.

July 15 2006, 33,490km
Tried the GPS this evening. It was great fun and very easy to use. Although it was a bit of a hassle to get the route started, once en route everything went quite well. Up untill the spot where they've changed the roads after the map had been made and I went on the highway where I shouldn't. Because it was too much trouble to get back to the route I went home again. Still, I'm sure I'm gonna have much fun of this toy. Only drawback could be that now I always will be the one to lead the pack when riding with friends.

July 18 2006, 33,580km
The Netherlands are, again, suffering a heatwave. Everywhere in the country temps of above 30 Celcius (86 Fahrenheit) are being reached. It's no fun to ride a bike in this heat. As long as you're moving it's bearable, but when you've got to stop you're slowly melting away. Tomorrow it will be even hotter. The XJ doesn't seem to mind though.

July 19 2006, 33,675km
#$^%%^$%^^%!!! Left forkleg is leaking oil this time. When the right one was being fixed I asked if it would be wise to do the left one as well. No, they said, there's no need to do that. Duh.
Now I know what it's like to ride in a sauna. Temps were above 37 C (99 F) on the highway. Terrible.

July 28 2006, 33,785km
Had the oil seal fixed for 92 €, the same price as I had the right one fixed at another dealer.
Bought some new boots too: Dainese Mig-Touring GTX for 197.00 euro. Just plain black and water resistant (gore-tex). The zippers on my old Dainese boots didn't work too well anymore after who knows how many years.

When the bike was at the dealers I got as a loaner an, as good as new, Honda CBF500 with ABS. Riding this bike reminded me of the fact that a little bike can be a lot of fun too. Of course you miss some (...) power, but you get back e.g. less weight and a lot of riding pleasure.

August 2 2006, 34,000km
Replaced the left taillight bulb which was broken.

August 8 2006, 34,432km
Hmmm, left taillight bulb broken again.

August 10 2006, 34,500km
Yet another anniversary forgotten: the 1 year jubilee of the XJ on July 2nd. So, what can I say about this venerable bike after one year and more than 20,000km? It's reliable, fuel economic, comfortable: everything you need in a commuter bike. Even long vacation trips aren't a problem (see my trip to Normandy, France). When I just had it the bike felt a bit lazy, unwilling to make higher revs. But I seem to have cured that ;).
Main negative points are the flimsy front suspension (even the CBF500 had thicker fork legs), the weak front brakes and the weight. Still it is a nice bike that does the job very good. I hope it will get me though the next winter and next year I'll see what I'm going to do with this bike: keep it or replace it with a more modern one (Pacific Coast?).

August 21 2006, 34,700km
Replaced the taillight bulb again and put an old towel in the back of the seat to kill some vibrations.
Made the bike more or less ready for a trip to France: checked tire pressure and oil level.

August 23 - 27 2006, 38,200km, Tour de France
Because of the lousy weather in The Netherlands and because I wanted to see some things in France I left on August 23 for Clermont-Ferrand, France.

Day 1: Home - Clermont-Ferrand
First it was necessary to get to the South of France asap. So I made this trip of almost 1,000km in one go with speeds between 140 and 160kmh. The XJ behaved very well and was even at higher speeds quite stable. At the end of the trip I had to add more than half a liter of oil, but under these circumstances (riding fast in warm weather) it's something that could have been expected.
I wanted to use my recently bought navigation system on this trip and I had loaded the maps of France the night before. I thought. Although my computer had been busy during almost one hour uploading stuff to the GPS, on the morning of my departure I found that all the maps were gone and hence the GPS useless. Did I do something wrong? I'll have to check...

Day 2: Clermont-Ferrand - Millau
The first thing I wanted to see was the bridge at Millau. To get there I didn't use the highway, but took some smaller roads over large hills and small mountains. At first I had some rain and fog, but soon the weather got better and it was great riding there with the XJ. After almost 500km I finally was in Millau and went to the information center of the bridge. To view the bridge from below was awesome and well worth the trip.
During this fairly slow trip the XJ used no oil and almost no fuel (1 liter on every 24km). That's my kinda bike ;).

Day 3: Millau - Aix en Provence
On this day I wanted to ride to Antibes to be in a good starting position to ride the Route Napoleon and view the Gorges du Verdon. Well, that was a bit too ambitious.
Of course, first I had to cross *the* bridge. Not as big a sensation as first thought, but quite special nevertheless. Then over small roads in the direction of Antibes, i.e. East. At fist the roads were great: curvy and with lots of height differences. Later on I got more or less on the wrong track and the roads got a bit boring. The surroundings of mountains and stuff were still very well worth seeing.
On the map I saw an indication of the Mont Ventoux. I know this mountain by name because they often climb it with bicycles during the Tour de France. So I went there to see wat all the fuzz was about.
It was great to ride to the summit, which lies above the tree-line. Now and then I hardly dared to look down into the abyss. Again the XJ performed very well, even when the air got thinner it didn't complain.
Because it was getting late (and I already rode more than 500km) I decide to ride to Aix-en-Provence and use this place as starting point for the trip to the Gorges and Route Napoleon.

Day 4: Aix en Provence - Lyon
From Aix I rode to the Gorges du Verdon (aka Grand Canyon of Europe). The views, again, were spectacular and I enjoyed every second. From the Gorges I got onto the N85 to Grenoble, the so called Route Napoleon. Most of the N85 is great to ride on, but still I decided to make a little detour: somewhere along the way I left the N85 and got onto the D900 that let me to two col's (hills? mountains?) which I wanted to ride over. Again: great fun! Later I got back onto the N85 that led me to Grenoble.
Because I coulnd't find a cheap hotel overthere (Dutch, you know...) I rode further to Lyon and found what I was looking for.
This day I rode 560km.

Day 5: Lyon - Home
After day 4 I thought that I'd seen enough and rode enough for now, so I decided to go home again.
From Lyon it was 950km to my home and the trip was quite uneventfull, except maybe for the piece of metal I found at the start of the trip in my rear tire. I guess it wasn't all through because the tire didn't loose any air, but still quite discomforting at a start of such a long ride.
Anyway, I made it back home safely and without any problems.
I find it unbelievable how well the venerable XJ did. Without any problems and with very little fuel consumption the bike brought me everywhere I wanted to be. Even on a more than 1,900 meters high mountain! Who needs an FJR or Pan? :)

Pic of this trip

September 5 2006, 38,383km
Noticed that I've lost two nuts of the fork brace. Dunno if that happened in France. I guess so...

October 15 2006, 40,069km
Forgot about the nuts. Must fix them asap, together with the right rear bulb that has stopped working.

October 18 2006, 40,235km
It becomes slowly clear that the XJ needs some attention. Today I saw that the right rear fairing bracket is broken. probably due to vibrations. I'll fix this asap too.

October 21 2006, 40,421km
Gave the XJ the attention it needed and deserved: filled up the oil, added air to the tires, replaced the nuts of the fork brace, glued the fairing (doubt it will hold...), replaced rear bulb. While replacing the rear bulb I noticed the front light had stopped working too, so I replaced that bulb too.

November 2 2006, 41,165km
It was quite cold this morning and I used my Gerbing heated gloves for the first time this (almost) winter.
BTW, just as I feared, the glue of the fairing didn't hold. Got to think of something else to repair it.
The bike seems to vibrate a bit more. Maybe the valve timing or carburation is a bit off. As long as it stays within limits I don't think I'll have it looked after.

November 18 2006, 42,080km
Replaced a rear lightbulb. Again. The XJ sure has an appetite for bulbs.
Now my ZX-12R is sold the venerable XJ is my only bike for some time. I hope I can give it company of a Kawasaki GTR1400 very soon...

December 12 2006, 43,350km
Speedo stopped working today. And, hence, the odometer too.
I've made an appointment for a service job next Friday. So they can fix that as well. Mustn't forget to tell them about the lousy steering, maybe they have a solution.

December 14 2006, 43,350km
There's a living little spider inside the fuelgauge. I doubt it will catch many flies there ;).

December 15 2006, 43,350km
Got the bike back from it's service job. I think the mechanic has really done his best (he should have, he took 6 hours for this job). Not only is the bike washed (the first time in about 8 months, shame on me...) but it run's very smooth now and steering is much better too.
What has been done:
DescriptionAmountPrice €Total €
Sparkplugs Denso W24EPR-U44.5018.00
Oil filter15.275.27
Xeramic fuell additive16.316.31
Air filter121.6821.68
Washer, plug 14mm11.501.50
Castrol GPS 10W40 251.2531.25
Shaftdrive oil12.612.61
Small stuff, lubricants13.403.40
Valve shim13.863.86
Environmental tax14.944.94
Brake fluid31.935.79
Speedo cable123.0023.00

The speedometer has been fixed too. I guess the bike is ready for another 20,000km.

December 21 2006, 43,650km
Short circuited the heated gloves again. With the current connection between battery and gloves this is a very easy thing to do. But this is the only negative thing I can think of of the Gerbing gloves.


January 1 2007, 43,650km

Happy New Year!

Go here for my new XJ900F blog.

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