Author Archive RottenRonnie

Campsite chairs

To sit, or not to sit…

The OUTAD folding chair
 

You pull up to your campsite at the end of a long day, swing a leg off the bike and unload your tent and get it set up as the light begins to fade…

A cow pasture along the shore of the Annapolis River NS

 Now do you sit down in the wet grass and dirt, or do you climb back onto your motorcycle’s seat? If you are fortunate you have a picnic table in your campsite and you take advantage of it to set up your stove, relax and enjoy your evening, but if you are me, you pretty much eat standing up or wandering around because you are too cheap to pay for a campsite, and you found something like a cow pasture, or the backside of a community centre or fire hall…

It was getting to me and I started seeing more posts in a group I belong for recommendations for camp chairs, and I came across one for a chair that ticked all the boxes for me:

  • cheap
  • compact
  • lightweight
  • sturdy
  • well reviewed
  • cheap (oops, back to that again are we?)

I’d done a five day ride a couple of weeks ago, and spent a full day at the racetrack to which I hadn’t brought a chair. I got to watch the races sitting on a comfortable cement block, while those around me sat in comfort.

 

Alright, one is sitting comfortably

Anyhow, I’ve packed along a folding metal chair a few times, one that went over 8,000 kilometres to Labrador and Newfoundland and back, and while I got plenty of use out of it, it was so much easier sending it up with the purse (car trunk) rather than trying to fit it on my motorcycle.

Back in 2006 I’m packed up for a weekend

Two days worth of camping, and back in 2006 I’ve got the bike loaded down with far too heavy a load. I’d like to say the panniers were loaded down with the booze and mix, but that would be a lie. I was roughing it and would be leaving the mix behind.

That was a $10 dollar Canadian Tire special that I used for years, but with a steel frame, and it’s long length,  it was just too heavy and bulky. When I tipped in on the twisties, it was like an outrigger and I could see the feet in my peripheral vision, dipping down into the inside corner. I stopped taking it on the bike with me.

My friends would take this up in the purse for me, CSBK Mosport

In 2011 I crossed the Trans Labrador highway and hauled along a three legged “Bass Pro” special that while much smaller and a bit lighter, was still too heavy to be dragging around on the bike as pretty much dead weight.

The Bass Pro three legged chair, and Suzi waiting for her dinner
 

My friends invested in some camp chairs made of mesh and aluminum that made me think that my 245lbs would either have the chair resting on the ground, or the mesh seams ripped apart in no time, plus the price wasn’t appealing, and for some reason all the other chairs got used before it did…

Hey, all the chairs in one shot! How cool is that?
VRRA weekend at CTMP

My trip around the Cabot Trail this past July, and then my Lighthouse Route ride in August saw me do a lot of camping, and at the end of the day I really wanted to sit down with some back support, unlike sitting upright in a tent, for example.

You know, the more I look at it, the more interesting the design of the REI – Trail chair becomes, as it could easily be used inside your tent where most of the others would damage the floor and footprint. In fact, I think some people use this as both and sleeping pad. There are other on the market designed to do exactly that. Think of rainy days where you wait out the weather under the tent… Hmmm.

 
 
Bed, chair. Chair-bed? Bed-chair?
 

Nor do I want to pay $200 or more for chair made in China or Taiwan and resold by REI or MEC, so I did some research and found a compromise in the form of an OUTAD chair sold on eBay.ca for about $40 CDN. It ticked all the boxes for me, and hopefully it will arrive before my next adventure into the great unknown.

 
  
  

Right away I can see the feet sinking into the ground, so a little searching and I found a great hack for that issue in a post “Don’t Let Me Down Big Agnes” By Irv Oslin, 2015

The camp chair feet hack

I’ll be sure and review it for you once I get it on the slow boat from China. Perhaps a trip sometime this fall.

Before I leave you, I’ll pass along some of the recommendations that stand out and suggest you visit Trailspace.com for some excellent reviews of various camp chairs.

 

Kermit

 

Helinox – Chair One
REI – Trail Chair

Obviously there are many more chair styles out there, but these three tend to top the lists. Once again, check out the trailspace.com reviews for many more camp chair ideas.

Personally I think the Outad chair is a knockoff of the Helinox Chair One. I hope I made the right choice.

Cheers!

Update 2017-08-29: 

Mail for you Uncle Ron!

I just got the chair in the regular mail run, and for $36 CDN / $27 USD this is what you get:

  • zippered bag with webbing loops for attachment to straps or bungee cords
  • aluminum and plastic legs/back/seat
  • seat and back
It’s wee, but not that wee. 
  • weight: 873 grams or 1lb-15oz
  • packed dimensions: 350mm x 140mm x 110mm or 14″ x 5.5″ x 4.3″
There goes the famous eBay selling tactic of key words such as ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKING etc. I suppose you could backpack with this for day hikes, but don’t let that ultralight fool you. 
 
All this and no instructions
The frame is certainly decent in quality, with a couple of minor scuffs
It will almost assemble itself if you shake it just right

 It sets up easily, although I was confused at first how the seat went on as it ships without instructions, and I found after one trial run, that I could set it up in 1:45 minutes, and the tear down was just 1 minute!

The aluminum looks durable and think enough for the job
The tolerances could be tighter
Only time will tell how long these will last with my fat arse on it.
It does stow away easily
Assembly in under two minutes

 The legs will sink a tad in hard mowed lawns, and reviews of this type of chair indicate that in softer soil, I’ll need to be prepared as the feet will sink in.

 

It racks around a bit, as the tolerances between the legs and the plastic hub are generous, but I suspect that it is also the nature of the chair and it’s design. I’m just not used to it.At six feet and about 245lbs I find I tend to slouch when I sit in the chair, as the seat base isn’t quite deep enough for my comfort, but I also think that with time, the chair seat will stretch down and I’ll be more comfortable as it does so. The height above ground is more than adequate and I had no troubles getting in and out of the chair, and found it very easy to lift up and set down again to reposition it.  

 
Note that I should have chosen to assemble the chair with the carrying bag slipped onto the poles to provide a wee storage bag and to prevent the carrying bag from flying away in the wind. Easily done with the generous loops provided on the ends of the bag.
 
The bottom.
Want a second look?
I could stuff a hat, scarf, and mittens in there!

The carry bag is spacious enough that you simply disassemble it, fold the legs up, fold the seat back in half then roll it around the legs and stuff into the bag without much of a struggle. I can see myself stuffing extra bits of camp gear into this bag if I wanted or needed to. The material looks to be a waterproof nylon material, with single sewn seams and reinforced stitching for the webbing attachment points.

 

The first thing I looked at were the attachment points where the rods enter the seat back, and they were constructed of a heavy PVC type of material fastened to double thickness material similar to cordura.

Summary:

It definitely a knock off of the Helinox chair that retails for $150 CDN including shipping, so for one quarter of the price, you too can have this well made copy. Only time and use will tell if I got my moneys worth on this deal, but for now, I no longer have to park my butt in the wet grass and that makes me happy.

I’ll be sure to provide an update once I put this to some serious use.

Pros:

  • Price – 1/4 the price of similar camp chairs
  • Performance – easy to set up and tear down
  • Materials – supports my old man lard @ss
  • Size – assembled it works for me, and I’m a 6 footer, packed it will be easy to strap onto the motorcycle
  • Carry bag designed with webbing loops for attachment to packs and bikes

Cons:

  • Weight – I’d be happier if it was lighter, but then I would I would lose the trade off strength for weight
  • Racks, rotates, moves when I am seated in it and I adjust my postion. Not alot, and I think it is the price you pay for the design. A minor annoyance
  • Feet sink into the ground. Anyone who does their research knows this about this style of chair (See the Hack for a fix)
 
 

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The EnduroStar Trail Stand and why I love it

My very first stand was a piece of 2 by 4 with the letters “K.L.R” spray painted on the side for use in the shop for propping up the swing arm so I could lubricate the chain and sprockets. I marked it as it was the perfect height for slipping under the swingarm, and I didn’t care to throw it onto the fire pit in a drunken stupor while regaling friends how to perform the perfect wheelie, or how to pick up your bike properly, and other good stories, fact or fiction. It was a very fine piece of pine almost entirely knot free.

What with the internet and all, I found out that many people made their own trail stands and packed them along with them for assorted reasons, and as I had one or two roadside punctures, I decided that I could make my own out of a hospital crutch that I’d acquired when my Bandit hit Bambi way back in 2007.  It worked! But then I found myself drawn into a discussion on advrider.com with fellow inmates and up popped this dude who put in a shameless plug for his new trail stand. I figured that “Made in the USA” meant that I’d never be able to afford it or justify the expense plus shipping to north of the 54th parallel, so I ooh-ed and aah-ed, then promptly forgot about it.

The EnduroStar.com trail stand in action, Fleur-De-Lis Trail, Cape Breton Island NS

When I had a flat on the first 60 kilometres of a 1600km journey to Prince Edward Island on my fully loaded KLR with my dog Suzi on board, it took a call to a friend and his garage set up to fix the tire and get us back on the road, so a huge shout out to Willie who went out of his way to get us back on the road and to my friend Dan who kindly let me rob him of a rear tire hanging on his garage wall.

Bugger!
Note the stand? You can’t pack that in a top box!

 That stand you see in the shot had to be brought out to me by my friend Willie in the trunk of his car, and if I tried to squeeze it underneath the seat or into a tool tube, I’d still be out on the shoulder today. The sad part is that I already had most of the tools I needed to fix the puncture and get back on the road underneath the seat and in the tool kit. Complete with levers zip tied to the sub frame, and a bicycle pump under the seat. 

If I pissed off Willie or Dan or they didn’t figure that hitting the Trans Canada was worth their while to help a mate in Atlantic Canada as opposed to Ontario, I might be forced to renew my CAA membership!

Right, fast forward a couple of years, and there is my friend Eric manning his booth at the motorcycle show in Toronto with one in the display case, and he lets it go for under $30 dollars. Now I’m totally chuffed and eager to get the elastic bands off of this thing and see how it works.
 

The older TS2 model. Photo courtesy of EnduroStar.com
 

It’s missing that beautiful sticker.
Photo courtesy of EnduroStar.com

What you get:

The design of the Enduro Star Trail Stand is simple, straight forward and ships fully assembled, although the Velcro strap puzzled me at first (more on that later), constructed completely of steel, and with five parts plus the strap to make a total of six bits. You only need to take off two gloves to count this high!  When testing it for first time use, I found that you need to remove the retaining pin, extend the rod to the desired height, and insert the “V” crotch into the top, then lever it up underneath the motorcycle to support the weight, at which point you may find out what that Velcro strap is for as your bike may or may not want to roll forward off and away from the stand. If you are anything like me, then you will need to RTFM to figure out that the Velcro strap prevents that roll by firmly pulling your front brake lever in against your throttle tube. (I find I don’t need the strap when just lubing the chain. YMMV)

 The TS3. Photo courtesy of EnduroStar.com

That’s it, that’s all. The hardest part of using it is finding the right spot to place it underneath the bike where it will securely hold the weight, which is different for all makes and models of bikes. On the KLR I couldn’t use it on the swingarm, so it ended up underneath a foot peg bracket. On the DR650E I was able to use it on the axle nut for light duty, or underneath the foot peg bracket. On my Versys I simply use it underneath the swingarm spool.
 

Action shot! Photo courtesy of EnduroStar.com

With a heavy bike fully (over)loaded for touring, I found that the foot needs to be on asphalt or similarly supported if on dirt with a kickstand plate, rock etc. With lighter bikes such as my KLR, the DR650E or my Honda XR400R, I was able to use it on firm grass or dirt surfaces just with the included foot.

It’s so well constructed that it survived an 8,000 kilometre trip across the Trans Labrador Highway and the only damage was that which it caused to the plastic top case by rattling around in the bottom of it! I initially disassembled it and had to stored away in the tool tube, but found I was using it so frequently that I got lazy and tossed in back with the chain wax. lol.

Photo courtesy of EnduroStar.com

What you don’t get:

  • A garage stand. This ain’t it. Pack it on your touring bike to lube the chain, or haul it onto the trail to fix flats. It’s not ultra light titanium. Think road rage, if someone comes at you with a baseball bat, quickly assemble this and go for the knee caps. 
  • A Canadian retailer. (Feel free to comment if you know of one)

I think I learned my lesson well enough with the KLR, and used only heavy duty tubes from that day forward, and over a few different bikes I’ve been very fortunate not to need to use this on the stand or roadside for flat repairs, but in the garage or out in the motel parking lot for simple chain maintenance, this thing is stellar! I’d throw the bike into neutral, lever up the arse end and slip it under the swingarm or footpeg bracket, and get down to the serious business of lubing the chain. It’s not going to replace your garage stand, but for quick little jobs like this, it has paid for itself in terms of ease of use, availability, durability, and providing me with incentive to spray that chain at the next gas stop.

I contacted the sales@endurostar.com for permission to use some photos on the blog, and he noted that I’ve an older TS2 model, as the “V” crotch slips in and out of the end of the stand, whereas the new and improved TS3 incorporates a threaded design so you spin the “V” crotch into the end of the stand securing it. So you might want to think of the safety wire holding the end of my stand together as the TS2beta. It works for me. 😀

I’ve posted a few close ups of the trail stand in action from my tour of Nova Scotia’s Lighthouse Route that I travelled this summer, and the same stand has been with me for seven years and over 150,000 kilometres of touring, from the Trans Labrador Highway down to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Deals Gap.

This side up. I wonder if that has changed on the newer TS3? 😛

This side down. Gravity works.

Even the sticker survives the test of time and abuse

I got mine from a Canadian vendor that sold his business, and sadly I was unable to find inventory of the three Canadian online retailers that I checked, but it is sold directly on the Enduro Star website or if you are still not convinced you can read the reviews here on AdvRider.com


While it makes a superb trail stand, it doesn’t work quite as well as a bat. Hey Steve! How about a optional hammer head to pound in tent stakes?! 3/8 drive ratchet adapter? Bottle opener! Back scratch-er! Toe nail clippers and wire cutters! This could be huge!
Disclaimer:
I didn’t get paid to write this, but if you want to reimburse me for my time, or help fund my new wheel bearings, then you know where you can find me…
Look for the loose nut behind the bars! 

Drips, Droops and other disasters

Leaking fork seals, stretched chain, and notched wheel bearings…

I took the V out for a three day cruise round the southern part of  Nova Scotia, ride report here, and over the 1800km ride and camp trip, experienced a few problems with the bike that now has 71,000 km on the odo.

I don’t always follow the sheeple.

First off, I pulled in for a cup of coffee, sat down on the curb to finish it, and noticed that my right front fork seal was leaking.

Yep, it’s leaking.

I still had another 1500 km to go at this point, so I wiped it off and kept on keeping on.

Day 2 it was looking a tad worse, flinging oil and nicely waterproofing some of my plastics…

Later on, I found that I was hearing some noise from the chain, but only when I was on throttle. If the clutch was in on the bike in neutral, the noise went away, so I figured I missed an opportunity to lube the chain, or been riding too much gravel again, so stopped and hit it with the spray.

 Love that Endurostar.com stand!

The noise went away completely, and I thought I had it all sorted, that is until I got it back into the garage and had a good look at the fork seal.

I’d had success in the past using the Seal Mate product to clean and recover my left front seal, so thought to try it on the right leg, now that it was leaking a wee pool down over the brake disc and onto the garage floor.

The first thing I noticed was that the dust cover was not fitting very firmly to the fork cylinder, and of course there was all sorts of grit and grime under it, and the seal mate hauled out more grit than I was expecting. I left the bike with a rag wrapped around the lower fork to see if it would stay dry overnight supporting just it’s own weight now that the seal had been cleaned up, but it was not meant to be, and in only a couple of hours, the fork was damp again with a slow trickle from underneath the seal and down the leg into the rag. Great, now I need to order that fork spring compressor tool up from the states, $40 bucks for the tool, with another $40 shipping clapped on top. I think I’m going to take some measurements and try to make my own out of bolts and plumbing or gas fitting parts from Home Depot, as I’ve seen quite a few examples of DIY jobs on the Versys forums and on the internet.

Now, I might as well adjust the chain while I have the bike up on stands, right? I put my chain alignment tool on the sprocket, give a go on both sides, tighten things up and give the wheel a spin to check to see if it has stretched unevenly. Yep, it’s fine over 3/4 of the chain, then 1/4 is actually tight with very little give! As I rotate the wheel, I’m hearing a rhythmic grinding noise (think 1Hz) at 0 degrees (think of me wiping a bit of oil onto the top of the hub and using it as a reference point). It turns out that whenever the wheel hits 0 degrees, the chain is tight, and I hear that grinding noise again. Bother! I think I’m overdue for a new set of wheel bearings in the rear end, and might as well do the front at the same time.

On the advice of a friend, Jiff, I ordered online at FortNine.ca the new fork seals and dust covers, wheel bearings for front and rear), chain and sprockets (I’m going to go with a 16T up front and the regular 46T in the rear) and a few other bits like a spare air filter and a pair of iridium plugs.

I’ll also be searching for threads on wheel bearing How-To while I’m waiting for the parts to arrive.

What can I say? If you don’t ride it, it will never break down on you. >:)

I read through the Versys forum and watched this series of videos for the forks:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmUfQr3WWv8

Any advice or suggestions regarding the forks or bearings? (“Stop riding” is not the answer I’m looking for. 😛 )

Now that the bike is up on blocks awaiting parts, I should have more time to update my blog. I’d rather be riding.