Monday, April 13, 2009

On the road


The Troll overlooking Perth

Having sorted out the starting problem with help from members of the IWL Stadroller forum I've been keen to take the Beast out at every opportunity. I've got a very busy schedule over the next couple of weeks which will seriously eat into my aimless scootering time and any week now the weather is likely to turn and the scootering season will be over for another year. I'm not a fan of riding in the wet. Apart from the discomfort factor, my only real motorcycle accident happened while riding in the rain and, well, once bitten, twice shy. Today I took the Beast on a 50km ride from Fremantle, up the coast to Cottesloe Beach, then along the northern side of the Swan River to Kings Park overlooking the city, then back to Fremantle via the southern side of the River.

The Troll's biggest handling problem remains its lack of stability in the wind and today was particularly windy. It can be a struggle keeping the Troll under control in a crosswind, which meant very cautious handling, especially along the coast. Nevertheless, apart from almost being run off the road twice by impatient car drivers it was a pleasant trip. For comfortable riding the Troll is light years ahead of the Vespa.

Here's a couple of videos of the Troll in action.



Sunday, April 5, 2009

A non-starter and a show stopper



This weekend was the debut of the Troll and all in all I think she's performed well - except for the starting, which remains a frustrating problem. Today there was a general scooter ride for an episode of "On Two Wheels" a cable lifestyle program on Foxtel. It used be called "Riding WA" on the local community station, Channel 31, until that station went under last year. It was popular enough to be salvaged by Foxtel and episodes will be screening later this year (not being a Foxtel subscriber I wouldn't know when).

Firstly a confession - I am an idiot. Having run out of petrol once on the Vespa I should have been a little more careful with the Troll. But I wasn't. Assuming when the guys said "we've filled the tank" meant I had a full tank of gas, I never actually checked in the tank to make sure. So you can imagine my surprise when on the way back from a quick ride into Fremantle on Saturday - no more than a kilometre from the spot where the Vespa failed - the Troll spluttered to a halt. A quick check of the tank revealed it to be bone dry. There is a slow leak in the petrol tap if it is left on. I can't even claim ignorance to the problem as Roberto had made a passing comment that oil from the leaking petrol was staining my driveway. The punishment for my stupidity was having to push the enormously heavy Troll two kilometres ... uphill. No young ladies with bottles of champagne stepped up to save me this time. Lesson for today - THE TROLL IS VERY VERY HEAVY.







Today, Sunday, I joined the run from Fremantle. There were some 30+ scooters lined up outside the L2 cafe, mostly new models but there were a few Vespa PXs in the mix. The Troll certainly made a scene. There was a lot of interest from all comers and lots of photos were taken. I later did an interview for the show - I hope I don't look like a complete twit! Fortunately, the stop at L2 wasn't a long one and the engine was still hot so she fired right up. Embarrassingly though, just as we all began pulling out of the carpark the clutch seized and I couldn't get out of third gear. After a couple of stalls I managed to get the Troll on the road, revving the bejezus out of the engine, and the problem kind of solved itself. I wasn't too comfortable on the ride out Bibra Lake as the clutch was still a bit touchy and I ended up trailing the back of the pack. Ironically I was closely following the trailing pursuit car so they have plenty of footage of the Beast on the road.



At the lakeside I did my interview, we ate lunch and had chat, there was a cooking segment with some celebrity chef that I didn't know. They did a couple of interviews with several other riders and did a feature on a Vespa GTS250 and a Derbi GP1 (both lovely new bikes). After another embarrassingly long struggle to get the Troll to start, I cruised back towards Fremantle, taking the long leisurely route around the river back home. There's one particular stretch of road between Bibra Lake and Fremantle with no intersections for a couple of kilometres so I gently opened the throttle and let the Troll show me what she could do. Pleasingly she reached 80kms quite easily; the only thing holding her back was me. I need more experience with the Troll's performance before stretching it to the limit. The brakes are weak.

All up it's been a great weekend. I've clearly got some more tinkering to do to sort out the issues with idling, the carby, the clutch and starting, but overall I'm very happy with the Beast.


The Troll under the bridge

As a bonus here's a little link to the IWL Rollertreffen in Ludwigsfeld in 2008
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TN6S7w35w08
(You might need to cut and paste this depending on your browser.)

Starting Update
Thank's to the advice from Dinart, Bill, James1 and James2 I've managed to solve the problem with starting. The Beast now fires right up (second or third kick). Still needs a few minutes to warm up, but it's nothing like the trouble I was originally having. Thanks guys.

Friday, April 3, 2009

On the road at last



After a little bit of tuning and the replacement of the temporary mirror the Troll sailed through the vehicle inspection. I'd taken the day off work and Ivo and Roberto bought the Troll around to my house - great service! I rode the bike to the licensing centre and after the usual long wait I finally registered the Troll in my name and was handed the license plates. I then took the Beast for a cruise around the neighbourhood to get a feel for her.

Firstly I'll repeat my earlier observation - she's very hard to start. This is certainly a frustration. The Troll is just so big and heavy that it is difficult to hold her steady (and leaning away from you) while reaching over to hold down the throttle AND putting sufficient grunt into the kick. As if the exhaustion of repeatedly trying to kickstart it wasn't enough, I almost dropped the bike several times into the bargin. That said, once the engine was warmed up, it started first time each time.

Once running however, the Troll handles quite well. It is a BIG scooter and you can feel it. The seating position is very comfortable. The steering feels very direct and because you are sitting up and well forward it does feel that bike is pivoting around you and makes for a surprisingly tight turning circle, given the size of the bike.

I found the 'heel and toe' gear changing very smooth, once I'd got the hang of it. It helps to wear appropriate shoes - my fashionable work shoes with their long toe really didn't foot that particular bill. I haven't really had to use the brakes in anger but I suspect the old drum brakes might be a weak point, but this is what you get with a forty year old scooter.

Although 149cc's is not a particularly big engine (hell, the VBB has a 150cc!) it feels like it has power. On a flat straight run it reached 70km per hour without any difficulty. The only thing stopping me pushing it further (apart from the traffic) was vibration in the front wheel. Surprisingly the Troll does get buffeted about by the wind. James in the UK also observed this. It seems strange that such a big and heavy scooter can be affected by wind, but I guess those big flat barn door sides do act a bit like sails.

I've only ridden the Troll for about an hour and she performed very well. I am looking forward to 'debuting' her on this Sunday's scooter run from Fremantle to Bibra Lake. It's not a big trip but it's being filmed for an "On Two Wheels" scooter special so that should be fun.


The Troll and Vespa side by side. The Troll is almost half a metre longer and has substantially more 'body'

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Done! But not dusted


It's been a tense week. While the generator arrived in record time the brake cable is still nowhere to be seen. Given that the cable was apparently the only thing standing between the Troll and the road I was understandably anxious. But late this afternoon Ivo called to say the Troll was pretty much finished and did I want to come over and have a look. The answer was an emphatic yes!

In the end Ivo and Roberto managed to reuse the old brake cable. It'll do for now but I'll replace it with the new one as soon as it arrives. There had been a few other problems. The clutch cable seized up when they took it on a test ride around the carpark, the neutral gear light has stopped working and the horn is broken. The clutch is working now but I might need to replace the old cable with a new one later. The important thing is that the Troll is now running and, with the exception of the horn problem, is now ready for the licensing centre. If all goes well, I should pick up the bike tomorrow afternoon and get it inspected early Friday morning. Woo who!

As you can see, the Troll looks magnificent. The 12 volt electrics are fantastic - the headlight and indicators are very strong and the engine fires up on about the second or third kick each time. I must admit the engine does sound very 'tinny' so I'm not expecting power and speed - but of course, that's not the appeal of odd scoots!

I must compliment Ivo and Roberto for their excellent efforts on the Troll. I originally engaged them to assist with a list of ten mechanical and electrical problems, but soon enought they ended up a full blown restoration on their hands. They did encounter more problems that expected (of course!) but managed to overcome them and the end result is magnificent. Also thanks must go to Dirk and Bert at Powerdynamo for their exceptional service and interest. And also thanks to everyone who wrote to me with suggestions, tips and encouragement. Thanks! Here is a link to their website: http://www.vespashop.net.au/

So, Friday (touch wood) The Beast will be on the road. I'll post a video of the Troll in motion and then finish up with a handling report.

And then it's back to the Heinkel.

Latest News
Today the Troll was finished. I picked it up and took it for the short ride from The Vespa Shop to the Vehicle Inspection Centre. It was only a short trip - possibly less than one kilometre but across a major road that was jam packed with heavy (truck) traffic. I must admit the Troll wasn't a smooth ride. Firstly, I had trouble getting it started. While it turned over for Ivo and Roberto third kick every time it resolutely refused to start for me. Personally I think the kick start it poorly positioned, requiring you to stand very close the machine to get enough grunt behind it, at the same time as reaching across what is a very large bike makes you very unsteady. I almost dropped the bike a number of times. I also found the brake and clutch cables extremely tight, but they are symptoms of our recent mechanical challenges.

So, somehow I managed to ride the Troll safely through the traffic to the Licensing Centre. There I was immediately confronted with blank stares - "What the hell is that?" After a bit of banter explaining the origin of the Troll we started the inspection. Now the Troll decided not to start. How embarrasing! The inspector didn't bother hanging around. "Yeah, you'll need it to be able to run before we can inspect it." And then he walked off to complete his paperwork. Another inspector came over for a look. I asked him if could hold the bike steadly and then she fired straight up, but it was too late. I hopped back on rode back to the shop. Somewhere along the journey the glass in the rear vision mirror (a cheap piece of Viet cr*p we were using as a temporary mirror) shattered. Ivo and Roberto are going to replace it with the proper mirror (now fixed) and adjust the idle to prevent it stalling. Roberto is going to try again tomorrow morning. I expect it'll pass this time.


The Troll awaits inspection