Sunday, December 10, 2017

Ode to the daily driver - Winter edition.

I haven't done one of these in a while, but I love daily drivers in general (whether they be a beat-up car, scooter or motorcycle), and I think they don't get the respect they deserve most of the time because we're so focused on more exotic and fancier machines. So, here we go.

The Yamaha has been pressed into service while the Honda enjoys some well-earned downtime at the Monolith (that's the codename for the new facilities).

Since it joined our fleet, I haven't done that many miles on this bike, and last time around I have to confess that I didn't really like it all that much; I felt like I got bored of it after a week. Instead, this time I'm beginning to appreciate its virtues; at first it's easy to think "this thing just won't move, it's so slow!" but if you can put that aside as you ween yourself off the brutal torque of something like a 1200S Sportster (just a random example), you realize how light and how small it is and those things are just as valuable as horsepower in the right context. It's just harder to understand, that's all.

This little bike lets you get around with zero stress and zero effort. Even in the worst traffic jam you will never get stuck, there's always a way out and it's just so easy!

Because we are plunged in perpetual darkness (at least until next spring) I have to rely on the Yamaha's lights, and this is another area where this bike shines; pun intended! There's nothing cheap here, the taillight is a classic "enduro" design but made out of very clear, durable plastic with a smooth finish, as opposed to the brittle stuff often found on some offroaders. The headlight is remarkably good, and unlike the Lucas stuff I'm used to on British bikes, there actually is a difference when you switch from high to low beam! The high beam is amazingly bright and makes night-time riding outside of town much safer.

Something else Yamaha have done on the Tricker, I think to emphasize that you're riding a small bike, is to fit slightly scaled down switch clusters on the handlebar; they could have easily picked some full-size controls from their parts bin, but instead what you see here is very tidy and very neat.
Like the gas cap, the speedometer and warning lights, the indicators, the gear lever, etc. it's all a little bit smaller than you'd expect. When it all comes together, you really see that this is a small motorcycle, and I have to think that was deliberate on their part. Clever!

When this bike first came to us it had been abandoned out in the open for a few years, which meant that it had started to rust and just get filthy; I think it got caught in a flood at some point. In addition to extensive servicing of the bike, dad did a great job stripping it down to just the frame and motor, pulling the entire wiring loom out so it could be cleaned: it was caked in mud! Routing it back into the frame was a real pain.
So, why was the bike abandoned and essentially left to rot in the first place? I think something very common happened here: some kind of accident. I think the bike was dropped or crashed, at very low speed, and perhaps the previous owner couldn't or wouldn't ride it again. I say this because the clutch lever is visibly bent (and uncomfortable to operate), as is the handlebar on the left hand side, and the left side orange gas tank panel was cracked. The latter was repaired and resprayed by an auto bodyshop and came out perfect, but the handlebar and lever need to be replaced.

I'll do the handlebar sometime in the future as it'll be an occasion to check out an exclusive new boutique garage as soon as it becomes available (can't disclose more at this time, sorry), I can live with the bent one for now; however, I did change both levers for a set of very flash looking ones from Hong Kong:

They're nicely CNC machined, and the fit was absolutely perfect. They make the bike nice to handle which may not be something you'd think about, but having well sorted ergonomics on your motorcycle can actually make you ride better, faster and safer.

I also scored a really neat luggage rack for this little bike, essential as there is no other way to really carry anything on it otherwise. At the cost of sounding obvious, everybody loves a nice rack:

This thing just promises adventure, don't you think? I'll see about when it makes sense to actually fit it to the bike, I'll probably need it sooner rather than later if I want to carry the rain gear, a lock and whatever else without having to use a backpack or a trendy tote bag on one shoulder.

In the meantime I can strap something to the the standard grabrail, but it ends up being a bit too close to the exhaust and isn't ideally secured:

Actually, speaking of adventure, I've started entertaining the idea of doing something similar to what I did back in August and linked to the yearly Campotosto Mystic Trip: perhaps if I have time next summer I could try a new itinerary to the mountain lake, and I could go on the Yamaha... Please, allow me the reverie, I need something to look forward to, to get through the winter. I hate winter.

Here's something else that was badly needed: a cover for the bike. If I left the bike out in the open all winter, it would be rotten through by the time spring comes again (which cannot be too soon).

I'm using the Yamaha to get around town: getting my meridians re-aligned at the Thai massage place, an aperitivo in EUR, going to get some takeout, Blade Runner 2049 , etc.
One last thing! The original gear shift rubber was probably damaged in the aforementioned suspected crash, so here's a new one:
Thanks to Gianluca for the assist, it's nice to be able to use friends' garages from time to time.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

πάντα ῥεῖ

I think years from now we'll be looking back at this moment and this time as marking the end of an era.

When I first moved my bikes and gear into this garage it was so that I would finally have my own space, with the added advantage of being literally in front of Witold's garage.

Our little group has enjoyed many evenings hanging out together wrenching on our bikes, planning and getting ready for trips, or just enjoying a beer with our friends and our rides next to us. We have all, truly, had many good times around here, in a way that any red-blooded gearhead around the world would recognize.

There's no reason to get into the specifics, but basically the logistics have changed, so those two garages will no longer be our hangout.
My garage is not really conveniently located for me, it was just great to have it near Witold, so now that things are changing it just makes no sense to stay. So, once again, it's moving time!

British bikes are seen exiting the garage... Brexit!

Over the course of a few days I moved all my stuff to a new top secret location with plenty of storage for the bikes as well as shelves and cabinets for spare parts and various chemicals; then there is a heated workshop right next door with a hydraulic bike lift, good lighting, an extensive range of tools, etc. Not bad at all...

The bikes were all loaded up in a van and brought over in a single trip, including the Honda, which will receive some much needed servicing and catch a break from the winter.

Honestly, aside from witnessing a cool situation fade out of existence and into shared memories (which isn't necessarily a bad thing!), I can see no drawbacks from this move and actually quite a few benefits!
For starters, I'll be saving a bit of money, never a bad thing. Ironically, I'll have more time to dedicate to my motorcycles, especially through the long, dark and unforgiving winter that is upon us.

The only slightly annoying thing is that if I need to do anything on the one bike I'll be keeping with me (the Honda mostly), I'll have to go squat at friends' garages, since my new location is still pretty far. I'll keep a small toolkit with me and I should manage with the basics should anything happen.

After that, we'll see what the future brings, and we'll keep very busy at the new place with all the maintenance we have to do. I just hope to have it all ready by next spring, when hopefully I'll be riding out on some cool trips and to new destinations.

Time for one last solitary coffee at the place 'round the corner, and to say goodbye to the garage:

In this moody shot above, Gianluca visits the garage one last time on his freshly rebuilt BSA 350.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Repent!

Daylight saving time ends tomorrow, which means we're in for at least five long months of darkness, cold and rain.
Batten down the hatches, and with a little luck I'll see you on the other side!