Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tortuga Rolls

Damit III, the Tortuga (Turtle in Spanish) seems to always need a little wrenching done on her. The latest, has been the clutch chattering... or chuddering.  Depending on how you hear sounds.  The bike develops a chattering around 3500 rpm.

According to the world of Vstroms, that sound is the clutch basket wearing loose. Lucky for Damit and I, the number one rebuilder of Vstrom clutch baskets, Werks Parts, is based in the Missouri City, a suburb of Houston.  Drove down and met Terry the owner. After explaining what causes the chattering, he showed me how his precision rebuild process eliminates that problem, forever.
With the Werks basket in hand, I open up the Vstrom engine clutch.

The number one tool for working on any piece of machinery these days, is a laptop computer. So one can watch the instructional video that walks you thru the process. Terry said to just follow the video he made and everything will fit back together. 

One must carefully balance the laptop within eyesight while you work.

Laying out the pieces as they come off the bike, trying to keep them in order, 'cause round things want to roll out of sight.

A special tool is needed to hold the clutch basket in place while using an impact wrench to remove the big black center nut. A tool that only has one purpose, but is the only tool that won't damage any other part when holding the basket tight.

The right side of the engine looks bare with everything off.

With everything removed, your workbench should look like this. Terry's rebuilt basket lower right, is ready to go on.

After scraping pieces of old gasket off, install a new gasket, the basket, then clutch plates and cover. Reconnect all the hoses, refill the oil and antifreeze... ready to roll.

Now to test Damit and all the wrenching she has undergone for the past two months. A 600 mile shakedown ride to a sidecar rally in Bunkie, Louisiana should be the perfect test.


Gear loaded, fuel tanks full, let's roll... 

First, a stop at the Cowboy Church in Cut-n-Shoot, Texas. 
Yeah, there really is a town named Cut-n-Shoot.  
Even has a post office and a constable who can shoot.

Rolling into Louisiana, the ground flattens out, fields open up, the grass is greener. 

There is that eternal springtime question, is the tree dead or will it struggle thru and green up one more time?

Rolling into Bunkie, by following the bayou road. 

The Bunkie High School football stadium is quiet, waiting for another season to start...

Set up camp under the trees near Kent with his hammock. By nightfall there were eight more campers in the small grove.

Next morning after a great breakfast and coffee provided by Barbara and Larry, our rally hosts, 
Lee gives out the riding instructions for the day.

Rigs are lined up and ready to roll...

Princess is anxiously awaiting the ride to start.

A few last minute adjustments made before the word is passed down the line.

Side Stands Up! 
Engine roar to life, helmets are cinched tight. Lee on his blue BMW leads the group.

It's odd that we still use the expression from the two wheel motorcycle world,  Side Stands Up, to signal the start of a ride. Many sidecarists have removed the side stand from their rigs as unnecessary weight.

Out of the yard rigs roll...

Harold on his slower Russian Dnepr sidecar is the last one out, bringing up the rear as the sweep rig.

Damit rode smooth, all the work done has improved her performance. 
Of course that job is never ever completely done. 

I think a new rear shock is needed as the rig scraped bottom several times between Texas and Louisiana..., but... Best of all, no clutch chattering.

Wrenching on the sidecar is what keeps me busy and out of bars.....lol.  
... until I go on a new adventure. See you next month.

Ride safe ya'll.


p.s. Richard, here is photo of the engine lift or shop crane. Makes the job of removing the tub much easier.


  1. Is the sidecar pretty easy to remove for repairs like this?

  2. Richard, six bolts hold the tub in place, then unplug the flat wiring harness. Used an engine lift to raise the tub high enough to get over the fender. The tub is not heavy, just awkward to handle.

    I had the tub off in order to weld a cracked shock mount on the sidecar frame. With the tub out of the way, decided to go ahead and install the Werks clutch basket since I had open access to the right side of the engine. The vstrom clutch baskets are a known to start chattering around 20,000 miles.

    1. I would not have thought about just removing the tub from the frame. Then alignment is preserved. Good thinking! I used to remove the sidecar from the BMW frequently as it was only 4 bolts and alignment is preserved. The Ural isn’t that convenient.

      I’m looking forward to your upcoming adventures.

    2. RichardM, Glenn Peebles, another ural rider, has figured a way to unsecure the rear of the tub and thereby able to flip it onto its nose to get it out of the way....I should look into that as well...

  3. Good writeup Jan, clutch chatter was one of the things I didn't like about the V-Strom DL1000 tub I used to have.....good to see there's an easy way to fix it for good.

  4. Thanks Dom, mine was just starting to chatter so took advantage of replacing it while the tub was off.
    Many times the labor to access the part is a bigger percentage of any repair.

  5. I finally got to meet you, and inspect Damnit III in person. That is quite the rig. I had a great time at Bunkie, and thank you for making me feel so welcome. See ya at another event, soon I hope.

    Later, Bud...

  6. Bud, you'll fit right in. Have discovered that sidecarists are all independent thinkers, no go along to get along folks here. They find their own way in the world, on their terms. Don't much care what others think.


  7. Hi! Im just learning to fix my KLR with a sidecar. I loved sidecar n after so many years of riding two wheelers its time to change into three wheels. My leg getting softer.
    Just wonder if sidecar would make a huge reduction of meantime between failure of my KLR. Im preparing to ride across Africa this Autumn.
    Appreciate your thought. Thanks

  8. Welcome amzah, in my opinion a KLR sidecar rig would make an excellent choice for a ride across Africa. You already know the bike is reliable and easy to work on. Parts are available everywhere. Because it is a simple machine, mechanics know how to fix it and keep it running.

    You might consider 135/90-17 auto tire on the rear wheel. This is the space saver spare tires for autos. It will fit on the KLT rear wheel, are less expensive than motorcycle tires and will last a long time. Because they are wider than a motorcycle tire, they will not sink in as much when riding on soft or sandy soil. Will not be as good as a knobby motorcycle tires in mud.

    Where are you starting your African ride? How many countries do you hope to visit?

    Next week I fly to South Africa to ride a BMW 1200GS for 17 days. Then go on a photography safari in Kruger National Park before returning to Texas.


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