Abba Skylift 2

Just to show the lift being used in a simple up and down configuration. It takes the same time to lift it front up (wheelie) or rear up (stoppie) mode.

Love this thing!

A new toy for the garage

For a couple of years now I have used a flat bike lift in my garage. They are rated at 450 kgs which is big enough for just about any bike on the market.

These are produced in China and come with a huge variety of names on them. I did a little strengthening on the front of mine and had it bolted down to the garage floor. It was quite stable.

As I moved through bikes, centre stands seem to have disappeared, so a chock stand was bolted to the front of the lift to make life easier. The trouble is that without a centre stand the rear wheel cannot be easily removed. A new solution was needed.

At the beginning of November I flew to the UK and then onward to Milan, Italy, for the huge bike show called EICMA, with a UK based biker mate. The show was huge and well worth the ticket price, but I could not find anything there that took my fancy in the way of garage equipment.

After Milan I flew to the UK and went to the UK bike show at the NEC in Birmingham. This show is about a quarter of the size of EICMA with a larger entrance fee and disgusting food on sale.

I happened upon the Abba stand and remembered them from last year. They had the amazing Abba Skylift on offer for £399. Delivery to France was a further £35, so I bit the bullet and bought one. If you want to see what this stand can do the have a look at some of the youtube videos for it, it is nothing less than amazing.

The delivery was a bit of a pain, I had been told 10 days, but it was 23, not a real problem, just involved a number of phone calls to Abba in the UK. The stand needs assembling which is a very straight forward job, providing that you have some big spanners. Everything was very well wrapped for transit. The assembly time took about 3 hours, but I was being very careful, and squirting ACF50 inside the various tubes as the immaculate finish of the outside did not stretch to the inside. To be fair, the insides of square tubes would be difficult to paint.

The adaptors that were part of the kit were the same on the swinging arm mount for both the Monster and the Supersport but the adaptors for the rear strap were different, both were included in the kit. My Supersport was on it as soon as I had had my cup of tea.

 Nose up

Fir the first time in her life the Supersport has had the chain properly cleaned and lubed.

This is a great tool for the home user and is so solid the you can sit on the bike while it is in the air. I just hope that brexit does not ruin any European sales that Abba has in the pipe line as I am sure that friends are going to like this when they see it.

LED and HID bulbs in headlights

Many people seem to mess with headlight bulbs looking for an improvement. I did some experiments with different bulbs on the Ducati Supersport. The Supersport has a single filament dip beam which is perfect for my experiments as it is a reflector and not a projector headlight. Any old type of bulb can be put into a projector, but the reflector headlight needs the filament of the bulb to be in exactly the correct place to produce the correct beam pattern and cut off.

The first picture shows the LED bulb that I bought for the experiment.

This is the type with a fan rather than a huge heatsink hanging out of the back, it does not really matter which type you use.

Here is the dip beam with a standard H11 55 watt halogen bulb, the type that nearly all cars and bikes are fitted with as standard:

As can be seen in the back of the very messy garage, the dip beam is very clear with a sharp cut off with virtually no light scatter to blind other drivers. This is a standard set up as designed by Ducati.

The next picture shows the Led bulb fitted:

This might look brighter, but it is not, the camera has compensated for the different amount of light. The nice clean cut off has gone because the LEDs are not in exactly the same place as the halogen filament was within the reflector. Loads of the light is being thrown all over the place rather than where the rider wants it, on the road. There is also far too much being thrown into oncoming drivers eyes. I would not be happy riding behind that.

The bike is in a different position in the next two pictures, but they are a comparison. Again the camera has compensated for the different amounts of light, the bottom picture actually has about 3 times as much light as the one below.

Once again this is a standard 55 halogen bulb with a nice dip beam cut off as in the second from top picture.

This one is the 35 watt HID xenon headlight bulb with a separate ballast. The light is much brighter, but again the nice cut off has been lost. This would seriously dazzle oncoming drivers due to the stray light scattering. That is the reason that these should only ever be used in projector headlights. No manufacturer puts HID xenon into a reflector headlight on any standard vehicle.

Led headlights can be specified as an extra on many cars and bikes these days, but none of them are LED bulbs inserted into normal reflectors designed for halogen bulbs, they are whole units with the LEDs as part of the design.

The halogen bulb is now at the peak of its development and cannot really go much further. Many will tell you that their bulb has 10 or 20% more light output, but that is rubbish, if it were possible then everyone would only make these improved bulbs. What those higher power bulbs are doing is to change the colour of the light to a slightly bluer light and fooling the brain into thinking that it is brighter.

Some people also use 100 or 130 watt halogen bulbs, remember that watts is a measure of electricity consumption and not light output as that is measured in lumen. What happens is that the halogen that uses 100 watts does not turn it all into light, but only a small percentage of it, most gets turned into heat to fry your wiring. Why do you think that the experts have come up with 55 watts as the normal bulb?


Supersport LED rear indicators

Just a short post. I never liked the huge rear indicators on the Supersport, and do not like the fact that they are the only two incandescent light bulbs on the whole bike. So I searched for something different.

To change the indicators to LED, no resistors are needed in the cabling, they just need to be electrically connected and the flash rate will be correct. The small tray needs to be removed from under the tail piece, 5 screws, and the original indicators will fall out. If you want to preserve the original Ducati plugs the an adaptor to bullet connectors is needed, and two indicator blanks are needed to fit the new indicators.


These indicators are sequential, that means that the light flows from inside to outside rather than just flashing on and off. I made a little video with the hazard flashers on to demonstrate. As can be seen from the above picture, the indicators are rubber mounted so are not easily knocked off.


Something new

My wife and I went for a drive today and ordered a new bike to add to the stable. A black 2018 model Ducati Monster 821. We will keep the ST2 for now as it is comfortable with the Supersport, the 250 single and the BMW K100RS in the garage.

The new 821 comes with some interesting updates, the same 110 bhp engine, but things like colour TFT screen and riding modes similar to the Supersport, improve the bike. She is having the higher “comfort” seat fitted due to having long legs.

When Judes niece comes to visit on her red version of the same bike, it will make interesting outings.

Some of the things planned at the moment are: A noisier lighter exhaust which might include elimination of the catalytic converter, perhaps flatter bars to alter the riding position, a small screen to improve the looks of the bike, exhaust flapper valve removal, and other things.

Watch this space.

Test of the R&G heated grips.

Well it is a chilly 8c here in this part of France today, but the roads are almost dry. Time to test the grips.

Togged up with my thermal merino under garments (thank you Trish) and my 15 year old BMW gloves, off I went. I set the grips on four out of five LEDs showing, so not the hottest setting, and was rather surprised that after abut half a mile the heat was coming through. The controller is a push button that goes through the sequence of one to five LEDs and is very easy to operate with gloves on. If you leave them switched on when you turn the ignition off, as I did to refuel, then they will be switched off when you turn the ignition on again. This is a very useful feature as they are not drawing power when you want to start the bike.

In use, with the extra insulation of a pair of hands inside gloves wrapped around them, they are both of about equal temperature.

I took power for the grips from the bluetooth module plug under the seat on the Ducati Supersport as I am never going to have a bluetooth module fitted on my bike. There are four wires in the plug and the black and the red ones are earth and power that is switched with the ignition. I used the inline fuse that R&G supplied with the kit, but cut down the very long cable that came with it.

When fitting the grips the right hand plastic throttle tube needs the bulge trimming off the end as per R&Gs excellent instructions. R&G also supply individual parts such as just one grip should one get damaged in use.

I must say that I am very happy with this modification and am impressed with the quality of the parts.