Super Adventure Touring Posties (Pt 2)

February 7, 2011

It was decided that a good test for the posties would be to head out of Sydney, over the Blue Mountains and head out the back of Lithgow for an over-nighter.  It was the middle of winter and would be epicly cold on a postie.  This, we thought, was a good thing.

Below is a small photo-essay…

Fuelling up – all going according to plan, we should not have to fill up again!

Govett’s Leap – halfway across the Blue Mountains.  Shot taken right on the lookout, just showing that you can blag a postie bike into any location.

Home for the night – note the classy cargo carrying option.  This was an important test of stability when loaded.

Off-road trials – bush bashing.  I was routinely able to lift the postie over fallen trees and continue on my way.

Off-road trials – speed.

Off-road trials – hill climbing.

Homeward bound…

Super Adventure Touring Posties (Pt 1)

February 7, 2011

A mate and I hatched a plan to assemble a small team of ex-Australian Postal service delivery motorcycles to make an assault on a remote continent somewhere for a grand adventure.  We figured we could make a trip down the Trans-American Highway, across Mongolia or through South Asia – the exact details of where wasn’t important, just stuff them in a shipping container and send them off somewhere.

The bikes themselves are Honda CT110 ex-postal delivery bikes.  They pack a whopping 105cc single cylinder 4-stroke engine, 90kg of kerb weight and an automatic clutch.  As ludicrous as they might seem, they really do go anywhere – they’re mechanically simplistic, weigh little enough you can yank them out of trouble and run on the smell of an oily rag.

They’re also designed to deliver the post, not travel the remotest parts of the world – so a few alterations were in order.

One of the greatest considerations was range.  The postie comes standard with the fuel tank located underneath the rider’s seat.  It only holds a miserly 5L.  This gives the postie a range of around 150km, not nearly enough to take on the world.  The solution, it was decided, was to fit a second tank across the crossbar between the handlebars and the seat.  So I took a (not very quick) blast out to Emu Plains to visit the wrecker’s yard.

I came back with two fine specimens – one tank off a Honda XR125 and one off a 1982 Yamaha Yz125.  Either of these would triple the range of the postie.

So out came the powertools.  First off the ignition key has to be moved out of the side of the cross bar and get mounted on the bracket under the speedo.  Then some brackets fashioned up to attach the tank to the frame of the bike, taking care to keep the plastic tank far enough away from the hot exhaust pipe (this is a challenge to get right).

I plumbed the reserve of the new tank into the ‘main’ feed of the fuel petcock and the reserve of the old tank into the ‘reserve’ feed.  That way you basically keep the old tank as a massive 5L reserve tank.

All that was left was to give them a good test run…

Heated Grips

February 3, 2011


In Australia heated grips actually cost less than a pair of decent winter riding gloves.  Strange, but there you go.

Winter gloves merely insulate your hands, preserving what heat you are already generating yourself and slowing down heat loss.  Heated grips actively warm your hands.

I find that with heated grips I can ride all through winter (or in driving rain) in summer gloves, meaning that I only need to own and carry one set.

What you will need

The Oxford Hot Grips pack comes with the left and right grips, a heat controller, a metal bracket for the controller, zip ties (crap did not use), super glue (did not use), mounting screws and a fused power loom.

In addition to this you will need:

  • black electrical tape
  • small black nylon zip ties (to replace the hopeless ones in the pack)
  • WD40 and rag
  • 5 minute epoxy
  • acetone and plenty of small rag offcuts
  • scalpel or very sharp craft knife
  • basic tools (screwdrivers, spanners, drill etc).

Removing existing grips

First remove your bar ends.

Then the easiest way to remove the existing grips is to insert a long thin screwdriver in between the grip and the handlebar. Squirt some WD40 in the gap.

Roll the screwdriver around the handlebar one revolution to spread the WD40. Pull out the screwdriver and simply pull the grip off the bar.

Wipe off the WD40 from both bars with your rag. Get it nice and clean so that the new grips will stick later. Give the clutch side bar a bit of a rub with some sandpaper to score up the shiny metal surface – this will give the glue something to grip onto (and prevent your grip spinning in the future).

Installing the left-hand (clutch side) grip

I choose to ignore the instructions and opted not to use their supplied superglue. This glue is instant setting and the grips are a tight fit – I suspected that I would have difficulty getting them on and in place in time. Superglue certainly doesn’t leave a lot of margin for error and it means that you can’t remove your grips later.

I decided to use 5 minute epoxy. Because it is a resin it helps lubricate as you push the grips on, give you a bit of time to adjust them into the correct position and then will set hard.

Mix up your epoxy and lay some narrow lines on the handlebar that extend about 1/3 along. Then simply push on the grip. Rotate the grips a bit as you push them on and it will spread the epoxy around a bit. Use an acetone soaked rag to wipe of any excess.

You will need to check your clutch lever doesn’t get fouled by the cable entry on the edge of the grip and same for the horn switch. Again, with the epoxy you have a few minutes to twist it until you are happy with the position.

Once the glue has set you may find that you need to shorten the grips to get the bar end back on. With a sharp knife or scalpel trim off the ridge at the end of the grip (marked with the red arrow). Indeed you can safely shorten the grips all the way to the dashed red line without issues.

Then screw the bar end back in.

Installing the right-hand (throttle side) grip

Before the right hand grip is installed you need to shorten it too. You want to make sure the that the grip is not too long for the plastic throttle tube otherwise it will bind against the bar end – and your throttle wont spring back to idle.

Attach the grip as for the other side with the epoxy. Be careful that you don’t use too much – use the non-throttle side as a practice run to see how much you need. You don’t want any overspill to glue up the throttle tube and stop it rotating as it should. Again, your acetone soaked rag will help you clean up any excess, but prevention is better than cure!

Make sure that you push the grip far enough so that the throttle tube is flush with the end of the grip to avoid the bar end binding issue. Once this is done there should only be a small gap between the grip and the kill switch housing. You may need someone to steady the bike on the other end of the bars, a bit of spirited pushing may be required!

Again orientate the grip so that the brake lever and starter switch isn’t fouled by the cable entry.

Mounting the heat controller

I used the supplied bracket and mounted it to the clutch lever housing, using the bolts and spacers supplied.


Here you have two options.

First option is to rig them up as per the manufacturer’s instructions directly to the battery. Plug it together, tidy up the wiring with zip ties and electrical tape.

Second option: read on!

Switching Grips via the Ignition (optional)

Oxford HotGrips come with circuitry that will automatically shut the grips down if you accidently leave them on. They will turn off just before your battery goes flat, supposedly leaving just enough power to turn the engine over. With a little relaxing soldering, you can avoid this situation entirely by making the power supply to the grips switch on and off with the key.

Installation time is about 30 min

What you will need

  • soldering iron and solder
  • wire
  • wire strippers/cutters
  • heat shrink and electrical tape
  • SPDT Relay (12V coil, and switching contacts rated >4A)
  • Pre-wired relay base (optional, but makes life easy)
  • Scalpel or sharp knife
Relay Base

How to wire the relay

A relay is essentially an electrically operated switch – it has a coil that uses magnetism to close the contacts on the switch. In automotive terms 12V running through the coil will close the switch and allow 12V to run through the switch contacts.

Connect the negative wire of the hotgrips directly to the negative terminal of the battery (1).

Snip the positive wire of the hotgrips between the fuse holder and the ring terminal. Solder the fuse holder wire end to one of the relay’s switch contacts (2) and the ring terminal wire to the other of the relay’s switch contacts (3). Screw the ring terminal to the positive terminal of the battery (4).

Connect one end of the relay’s coil to the negative terminal of the battery (5). The other end of the relay’s coil needs to be spliced onto the wire that feeds the tail-light.

This way when the iginition is turned on it feeds power to the tail-light and the coil of the relay. The coil causes the relay’s switch contacts to close. Power can then travel from the battery to the grips. Check your wiring against this.

Original Circuit

New Circuit

Above you can see the original circuit, simplified to show the ignition switch, battery and tail light. Next to it you can see the additions.

Finding the tail-light wire

To get to the tail-light wire you need to dismantle some of the rear cowling of the bike.

Remove the pillion seat. Then remove the pillion grab handles. Next remove the black plastic cover that houses the lock to the luggage compartment.

Then take off the right rear cowling by unscrewing the two bolts and taking care to remove the nylon clip that connects it to the undertail (push the centre button in to loosen).

Look for the connector that feeds back to all the rear lights and indicators. The wire that you are looking for is the black with tan stripe located in the corner of the plug. You can double check that this is the correct wire by measuring the voltage between it and the frame. With the ignition off it should be 0V, and with the ignition on it should be >12V.

Use your scalpel to strip back the insulation, solder your relay coil wire to it (seen in this photo as bright blue), and cover up the connection with electrical tape.

Reassemble your bike.

Starting up

When you turn your ignition on you should hear the satisfying click of the relay engaging. Your grips should now be able to be turned on. Turn your ignition off and the grips should stop.