Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Sprockets, Chains & Walls of Rain

I thought I could make it down to Guelph to order my sprockets and chain and back before the rain hit.  The weather radar said there wouldn't be rain for over an hour.  I left at 2:30 and grabbed some gas in Fergus before heading down Highway 6.  It sprinkled lightly as I went, but it was just enough to take the edge of some truly oppressive humidity.

I got the sprocket and chains sorted out at Two Wheel Motorsport.  The chain drives on motorcycles are one of the first places people play with their geometry.  If you go to look up sprockets and chains for a 2007 Ninja 650r you're buried alive in neon chains and sprockets designed to look like shuriken.  By messing with the length of chain and number of teeth in the sprocket you can essentially gear up your bike, giving it faster acceleration (though it would also be revving over 5000rpm at highway speeds).  

For my first go-around with motorcycle sprockets and chains I went with quality and longevity.  The steel sprockets I got were Afam sprockets designed and built in Europe, they are very high spec pieces.  I stayed away from anything that's neon.  If you're curious, a 2007 Kawasaki Ninja 650r takes a 15 tooth front sprocket and a 46 tooth rear sprocket (that isn't always obvious as people rush to over gear their bikes so they go 0-60 faster).  I also got an X link chain, which offers a number of advantages over an O link chain, though they are more expensive.  The high quality sprockets (front and back) and a high tensile strength chain cost me about $300 taxes in.  They should be in by the end of the week.

Something wicked this way comes!
After wandering around looking at new bikes in the showroom for a few minutes I jumped back on the Ninja and headed back north.  As I turned on to Elora Road the sky got menacing, then it turned positively apocalyptic.

I've ridden through rain a fair bit, especially last summer when I was commuting on the bike.  This one looked turbulent though.  I stopped to zip everything up and take that picture and then I drove into a wall of water.

One of the nice parts of being on a bike is how connected you are to the world.  As I rode toward the darkness I knew this was going to be more than a sprinkle.  The clouds were scalloped and black/green and the temperature dropped ten degrees as I rode under them.  Then the smell of ozone filled my helmet.  I could see across the valley ahead that cars had their headlights on and the wipers were going furiously, behind them the standing wall of rain advanced steadily.

Hosed but home.
As the first big drops hit me I hunkered down on the tank behind the windscreen.  The wind picked up and I had to lean into it to hold my line, and then I rode into the water wall.  I like riding in the rain.  The bike is surprisingly well planted and if you want your visor to clear just turn your head and watch the rain roll sideways across it.  Of course, I like it better when I'm in rain gear, which I wasn't this time.  In about 10 seconds at 80kms/hr in torrential rain I was soaked to the bone, but I was only 10 minutes from home so I could get wet.  Cars were pulling over, the end was nigh.  Trees were bent sideways and it was night-time dark.  I made it the 10 minutes up the highway and turned on to back streets.  I was in my driveway a minute later.

After getting the bike inside and towelling it off I peeled off soaked clothes.  It was the first time I wasn't hot and sweaty all day.  I love riding in the rain.