Mission Accomplished!

How often do you get presented with a serious problem and have the means to quickly and simply fix it?

Never.

It just doesn’t happen in my experience. It’s always a process. A series of token gestures. Often as not a well intentioned disaster.

I was presented with the problem of Nathan (my nephew), stuck in a £5.60 p/h job, the meagre proceeds of which (save the housekeeping he volunteered to give his mam) he was spending entirely on getting wasted to tolerate the job. He was taking home between £100 -£150 p/w. Unpaid extra hours, flat rate for overtime, fucking disgrace. He was going to get a bike off his mate so I gave him a jacket and such. Then his mate’s bike got nicked.

The solution seemed clear, if Nath was willing to clean his act up, we’d lend him the money to get a bike so he could get a better job.

I say “if”, without emphasis in that sentence. When I was in that situation I simply couldn’t have quit. I would have preferred to have lost a limb. It was my whole life.

The fact that Nathan gave up the same day that Lisa (my sister) put the offer to him I find nothing short of staggering.

Honestly.

Stunning.

Anyway, he immediately got his shit together. So I tracked down a decent learner bike, and we lent him the money to buy it.

He put in for his Compulsory Basic Training, and completed it last Thursday, I went out for a ride with him to get his confidence up, and that was that.

He is a biker.

 

Phase one completed.

 

Being a methodical sort he was waiting until he was legal before applying for jobs. I put in an application form for him for in the warehouse, order picking, at my works. Then I noticed the actual job was being advertised online so I recommended he applied online as well. Yesterday they told him he had an interview today, (Tuesday). I had a surprise day off so I went with him for a ride, to show him the way.

He passed the interview and the drugs and alcohol test, his induction is on Monday!

4 days of training in health and safety, driving a LLOP (Low Level Order Picker), stacking pallets, that sort of thing, then crack on.

More money on basic, with lots of extras on top, better job, better conditions, a real full time job, with a pay rise at the end of the 6 month probation.

He’s got a bike. And within a week, a decent job!

 

Phase two completed.

 

My work here is done.

That was easy.

How I like my good deeds; quick, easy, and involving motorbikes.

Bloody good effort, Nathan.

Right,

later,

St Buck of the Blessed Bike.

Borderline Personality Disorder.

I watched a clip via Twitter last night and they mentioned Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), which reminded me of my army days. I got sent to the shrink due to issues and a panel of them interrogated me. They sent me back to my regiment with a letter for my army doctor. The doctor’s was closed so I had it overnight. Curiosity got the better of me and I steamed it open.

It was 27 years ago but I know it involved Personality Disorder, I think it was Borderline.

Nearly 30 years I’ve dismissed it. Borderline makes it sound like barely a consideration. It turns out that’s just the medical term for an exact condition.

One that is characterised by anger, risk-taking, drink/ drug abuse, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and a lack of self esteem.

Fuck.

27 years.

All the bikes I’ve crashed, the wilful disregard for life and limb, the years and years of alcohol dependency, self mutilation, mental anguish, anger and self loathing.

All. A. Fucking. Condition.

I thought the individual bits were normal.

I thought everyone else was a pussy because they saw a gap that was so tight that if *anything* went wrong they would die and they backed off. I did it anyway.

The bleeding I’ve done to try to atone for the unconscionable deeds of my past.

Slipping into overdose unconsciousness knowing I might not wake up.

If that’s how you are, you rationalise it. Everyone get’s stressed, the self mutilation is a release valve. You’re going to die anyway, why not have some fun on the way? If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention. Etc.

All. A. Condition.

The whole of my life is a lie.

I’m a tad upset, as you can probably guess.

I’m going, in another case of hope over experience, to see the doctor.

Most of it I don’t actually mind, but there are some aspects from which I’d give anything to be free.

Buck.

A Series Of Unfortunate Events.

It’s been eventful.

I said last time that my black bike had blown over.

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A horrifying picture to be sent when you are 5 hours away.

At first I didn’t believe it was the wind, thought it was the kids messing about. But for some reason our house gets the wind howling across the front. We have to bungee the bins to out awning thing to stop them blowing into next door’s car. So OK, wind.

I changed the lowering kit thing, fixed the snapped fairing and carried on.

Then I looked out of the window last week to see my red one on it’s side, which had toppled the black one, which had smacked into the car.

*weeps*

I ran outside, dragged the covers off the bikes and the locks and stood them up. Not easy. The red one got off with a graze to the bar-ends as the black one cushioned it’s fall. The black one had the red one’s handlebars smack it in the fairing.

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Smashing a lump out of the side that hadn’t been damaged last time. Super.

The car too the black one’s handlebar to the (rusty) wing.

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Buggery bugger.

For the time being I’ve stopped using the bike covers which are obviously catching the wind like a sail and I’m putting the bikes on main stand every time (instead of side stand). So far, so no worse.

You can’t get replacement fairings for love or money. Mainly money. But you still can’t get them.

I’ve found this product that you mix up and pour in and it set as plastic. I just have to take off the fairing, tape it perfectly and pour it in. Easier said than done.

I’ve bought a new wing and been spray painting it. I’m waiting for it the clear lacquer final coat to dry. Tomorrow I have to take the grill, bumper and wing off to replace. Super dooper.

It was near dark when I finished but it totally looked the wrong colour. I’m hoping it dries right, because I’m not doing it again.

What else?

Oh yeah.

To deter thieves I put a disc lock on my red bike (on top of the engine immobiliser and alarm). This slots through your front brake disc and locks, making it impossible to ride the bike away.

I forgot to take it off. Rode forward a foot then slammed to a stop, nearly falling off. I thought nothing of it, took the lock off, rode to work down the motorway. And back. Giving it beans.

I stopped outside our house as usual, started walking the bike back into the parking spot, touched the front brake, nothing. What?

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Bad picture, but if you look at the bottom of the brake calliper (black bit with “Nissin”) you can see the brake pad dangling down. That is supposed to be in the calliper.

Part of the calliper where a bolt goes through has snapped off.

I’d just ridden like a dick along the motorway. Twice. I was going to pick Nathan (my nephew) up on it the next morning. 

75% of a bike’s stopping power is the front brake. You can stand on the back one and it will lock and you’ll speed along with your back tyre sliding. If the ffront had of failed so utterly on the motorway, when I needed it, I wouldn’t be writing this.

Shit.

Wendy thinks god saved me.

I’m an atheist, but fuck me!

 

One bit of good news amongst all the bike tragedy, we have another biker in the family!

I heard that Nathan was in a shite £5.50 p/h, dish washing job that he hates. I had a look online and there are £9.50 p/h warehouse jobs he could easily be doing but they are a bit far to pushbike. (For the yoof of today. I was cycling 22 miles a day a few years back as part of my Tri training. *tuts*)

His mate was going to give him a cheapo Chinese bike but it got nicked.

I said if he was to get his shit together to get the job we’d lend him the money for a bike. Instant transformation! Totally impressed with him. Dropped his vices like a brick and got his head into the Highway Code. Went to town to get a provisional license the next day and posted it ASAP.

I’ve been getting excited searching for learner bikes for him.

He wants to get into bikes, and wants something that will do him for a few years. (I suspect that will change. He’ll either love bikes and want a bigger one or get his car license. I suggested the latter to him, in my defence.)

My criteria was: Japanese (reliability, resale value), low mileage, naked (no stupid expensive fairings to replace if/when he drops it, so easy and cheap to fix) and 4 stroke. I have a loathing of 2 strokes. Temperamental, polluting, hideous sounding things. OK, shit-off-a-stick fast, but just no.

As bleeding usual everything that fit the criteria was a gazillion miles away. Which would have been no fun riding back on a 125cc.

Then someone put one up in St Helens! As it turned out it was way in the sticks on the far side, but still a lot nearer than Devon or the bottom of South Wales.

Nath and I went to look. I checked out the mileage. It’s a 2009 bike, online the MOT records only go back as far as 2012 or something, but it has been putting on 400 miles for the last 4 years, so the claimed 6000 miles is quite possible.

There are a few dings, a dent in the tank, a scrape on the clock, the mudguard has been repaired (just looked on eBay and got him a used front mudguard for £15. Job done.) but the engine is superb. It’s a Yamaha YBR125 Custom. Hilariously underpowered, but that’s a plus for a learner. Apparently the YBR125 road bike (the non-custom style bike,whatever it’s called) is the standard beast of burden for motorcycle training schools. The Custom is the same engine with different styling.

We got it. Lisa (my sister) broke her motorway duck to run me up to collect it. She passed her test about 6 months ago and had never been on the motorway. “I’ve never been in fifth gear.” lol.

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As I said, I rode it home. About 19 miles. It’s a cracking little beast.

I was reading a review saying it costs about £9 to fill the tank, and you get around 214 miles!

Supposed to be about £19 per year road tax.

Top end of 65mph. Allegedly. I had an indicated 55 out of it, but I wasn’t trying to redline the poor little thing.

I’m not so sure about the feel of the tyres. Nath might want to get a new set. £60 for the pair. My back tyre alone was £152!

I’ve given him my (armoured) textile bike jacket, some decent waterproof leggings and gloves. He just needs a lid. He has to attend (no pass or fail) a one day course before he can go on the road. Compulsory Basic Training (CBT). Seems it’s classroom, practical on clutch control, gears, steering and such, then 2 hours out on the real roads with an instructor.

After that, get totally bitchslapped for insurance, (over a grand! For a 125! Ouch!) get the road tax and he’s away.

Wheels and a desperate desire to get out of his current, hated, piss-take job should see him earning big bucks in no time.

As I sent to our Lisa

Bikes drugs

This is the perfect time of year for getting a job order picking. Or that one sorting parcels. Possibly at thrice damned Herpes, but it’s good money, no freezer to worry about, and it would do until he can get better. I was talking to a picker at our place. He said the management leave you alone, the pick target is easy, and you have to request to go in to the freezer! I saw a wage slip a few weeks back and they aren’t on that much less than me, and I paid £5k for licenses. I’ve just looked it up, it’s about 10 or 11 miles from Lisa’s to my works avoiding the motorway, about 25 minutes. That’s a do-able commute for double his money. (At ours it’s not the hourly rate, it the overtime rate, the rate for working past 18.00, the bank holiday rate, etc that make it good money.) Just got to wait for them to recruit again.

Right. That’s Lisa sorted for motorways and fifth gear (lol again) and Nathan’s life sorted.

I’ve offered to give Pam, (Bryn, another nephew’s wife) our car when she passes her test. It’s a scruffy bag of shit but it seems determined to run for ever. If she wants it, it would get her started. That just leaves Robyn (niece) to sort out.

God knows.

 

One other thing. The red bike. The front end has gone from “bit iffy” to “sweet Jesus, I’m going to die!”

I was banked over and accelerating when the bike started to oscillate. That is so not good. I was putting the forks in for a rebuild this winter anyway, but now it’s a necessity. I took the black one out for one day, after months of familiarity with the red one, and I was throwing it down into corners in a way I’d never dare on the red one. It made me realise how bad the front end must be. I’m getting the forks done, but if it still doesn’t have the feel of the black one I’ll be selling it in the spring.

 

In other news, my loss of taste is getting worse. Now I’m getting false tastes. Eggs tasting like garlic, cakes tasting like mad chemicals. On the bright side, I’ve dipped under 11 stones today for the first time in years. I was within a jammy doughnut of 12 stone for a while. And the associated messed up sense of smell isn’t too bad. I’m coping with the minging smells I think I can smell. Such as my leather jacket smelling of rotting meat. As long as Wendy and Lisa assure me they aren’t real. I couldn’t bear to think others were thinking I stunk that bad.

Ho hum, whaddayagonna do?

Later,

Buck.

Funny, not haha.

I got a really shitty cold, back in March, since then I’ve lost a lot of my taste.

I used to love cream, now it is meh. I can sort of taste it, but mostly meh. I warned Wendy off a cream cake the other day saying it tasted like cardboard. She ate one anyway, said it was gorgeous. One of Marks and Sparks special range, apparently.

I had a hankering for chips. We’ve not had a chip pan for at least 10 years. I bought a deep fat fryer with a lid and a filter to keep the smell down. My Swedish chum put me on to a top tip, pre-boil the chips. 5-6 minutes pre-boil, drain well, straight into hot oil. I reckon I’m at the peak of my chip game, they are fluffy on the inside, crisp on the outside, perfect. And tasteless. I bought proper salt (as opposed to the grind-it-yourself sea salt rocks) and proper chip vinegar, not the tons of fancy white wine vinegar and such we have in the cupboard. About all I can taste is the butter on the bread.

Butter and chocolate are about the only things I can still properly taste and enjoy. Which is just super for a lardarse.

But now it’s going from irritating absence of taste to false tastes. I had to throw the egg component of the classic British delicacy, chips and egg, away. It tasted of garlic. I know there’s no garlic in the pan, the oil or the egg, but bugger me I can taste it.

And now my sense of smell is getting in on the act. Our washing powder, which we’ve used for years, is starting to be repulsive to me. And my leather jacket. I washed it and conditioned it with leather conditioner. A honey and jojoba thing that makes the leather supple and waterproof. It’s a proper product, as recommended by a proper biker site.

But for the past few weeks I’ve noticed a disgusting smell that has just been getting worse. There isn’t one. I’ve asked Wendy and Lisa to smell it and they say it smells of leather and vaguely of  patchouli oil (I tried to mask the smell but the oil has lost it’s potency). There is no disgusting smell. But when I put it on I’m nearly heaving.

I already had some specialist leather cleaner so I’ve given it all a couple of coats today and I think I’ve got rid of some of the stench. I’ve ordered a conditioner made from other stuff. And some new, very stinky, patchouli oil.

If I can’t sort it I may have to mothball my leathers and buy a new coat. It’s making me gag.

My only consolation is no-one else can smell it. If I thought everyone else was smelling it I’d have binned it already.

Another bloody annoying thing, I think I’m starting to get tinnitus. I use silicon ear plugs at night to get to sleep now I’m off the sleeping tablets. I noticed when I put one in, on top of the usual whine there was an undulating noise. At first I thought it was something from next door, but once again it’s (literally) in my head.

So I googled “quietest helmets”. It’s not the engine or exhaust noise, it’s the wind noise at speed.

Anyway, they had a top 5, all of which were ridiculously expensive. The “Basic” model of one was ‘only’ £270.

Two Hundred and Seventy of her majesties pounds, sterling. About 50 Euros, after Brexit.

I wasn’t happy about it, to say the least, but tinnitus is for life. I bit the bullet and bought the bloody thing. It’s no quieter than my last helmet. *sobs*

It’s all singing and all dancing, great helmet, but no quieter. I googled again. You need to buy an additional velcroed flap that fits under your chin to stop the wind whistling in. From Germany. Another £30. For a piece of cloth with velcro around the edge. Maybe a little quieter. Maybe. I noticed the helmet had an always open vent thing that blows air up the inside of the visor, to de-mist it. Which is going to be bloody nippy in winter. First wet and cool day my visor steamed up!  I had to buy the anti-mist inert. another £27.

So not a happy bunny.

Oh, I forgot. In the high winds lately, I got a message and picture off Wendy, my black bike had blown over. I was in deepest Darn Sarf at the time so couldn’t do shit. Wendy couldn’t lift it. She tried, bless her feeb good intentions.

The arsehole before me had put the lowering kit on the bike but hadn’t shortened the side stand, so instead of leaning over onto the stand the bike was sort or perched on it. Strong wind, bike cover flapping about like a sail, BANG!

I got off fairly lightly. The fairing cracked but I’ve managed to fix that with an internet tip, this glue that actually melts and fuses the plastic at a chemical level. And I dropped and broke a mirror in taking off and refitting the faring.

But here’s where it get’s good.

I took the red bike for a service and brake pads, dicked me about for a week, £310.

I waited for the small garage, took my own brake pads in, got it serviced and brake pads fitted, next day, (by arrangement, he had someone off sick so asked if I needed it back the same day) for £130.

He said he checked the plugs and filter and they didn’t need doing. Anywhere else would have done it anyway and charged you, or not done it and charged you. Top man. He said the only fault he could see was a sticky front brake piston, needs new seals, so he’s doing that this Friday.

While I was there I asked him about the lowering kit. He said it was just two triangular plates that attach the suspension to the frame, held on by three bolts. Undo the bolts, replace the original plates, do them up. I thought it would be a big job as you’d have fit them under pressure from the shock, nope, put it on centre stand, and it just pulls out. I got one off ebay for less than £30, fitted it myself, and job’s a good ‘un.

In other good news, I fitted that hugger (close to tyre mudguard) more or less hassle free, and got the Scottoilers on both bike working. (Vacuum drawn oil bottles that drip slowly on to the chain to keep it lubricated.)

If I’m going to be riding the black one all winter I wanted it to sound a bit better. I did a lot of research and some measuring the red bike. The silencer on that is 450mm long. It is about 77 decibels (I got an app just for that) which is the same as stock. I had my eye on two cheap end cans. One was 450mm, the other was 350mm and was high mounted. It looked really cool, but I was worried about the noise. I couldn’t get the TL1000 to an acceptable noise level even with stock pipes.  I emailed the guy at Delkovic about the cans. He said the 350mm was about 2Db louder, but both would be over 100Db. I have now discovered the Db scale isn’t linear, 30 is not half as loud as 20 again, but double. Does that make sense? Each 10 is double the previous 10. So, roughly 80db for my current exhausts, That means 100Db would be 100 times as loud. That doesn’t sound right. Look, you know I’m shit at maths. The point is, it would be bloody loud.

So I opted for the 450mm and if it was too stupid loud I was just chucking it on ebay and staying stock. It’s 77Db.

Sigh.

Still it does sound lovely, just not ridiculous at tickover. Then you open it up and it sounds gorgeous.

That’ll do nicely. Bit miffed as I reckon I could have got away with lots snazzier high mount one, but still, it was well cheap, easy to fit, good kit, and it is a nice sound.

Getting there.

Later,

Buck.

More of the same.

I’m still in a transitional phase. Work is long hours so good money, but it’s killing everything else.

I had an upbeat day a few days ago when I decided to get back to my running and sax, but I’ve not, yet.

The only thing I’m keeping up at the moment is my painfully slow learning of the Spanish language. I’ve put all the lessons on my ‘phone so they shuffle up randomly. I was struggling over one lesson and not moving on until I’d mastered it. This way, I’ve found out by accident, is more like natural learning. I think. You are bombarded with stuff, most of which you don’t get the first time around, but by constant repetition you learn it. Which makes other bits fall in to place.

Anyway, I’ve finally finished the introductory course and I’ve just started on the language builder.

It’s not like I’m in a rush. And if Theresa the Appeaser does bollocks Europe up for us I’ll just go back to learning Russian, but with my new approach.

That’s it.

Work, a vague desire to return to saxing and running, and plodding on with my Spanish.

 

The only other thing is bikes. Glorious bikes!

The VFR750 (black one) didn’t sell, even at a £300 reduction. Bugger ‘em.

I’ve stuck a new back tyre on it as the tyre on it, although it still had loads of tread, kept spinning up in the wet. I did it today. The guy at the tyre place said “That’ll be why, this one is from 2005.”

A 12 year old tyre! With tons of tread! What the actual hell is wrong with people? Even running two bikes I’m not expecting to get more than two years out of a tyre.

Once I knew there was a way to find the date of tyres I googled how and checked my other tyres. I’ve only just changed the front one on the VFR800 (red one) the back one is 2014 and quite surprisingly worn. I noticed a small groove in a flat spot on the centre of the tyre. A strut that was supposed to support the hugger (mudguard close to the tyre) had snapped and was rubbing against the tyre! I took the strut out. The hugger is supported everywhere, it obviously doesn’t need it.

I’ll be using the black one as a winter hack to I’ll easily get another month or two out of the red one’s back tyre, then replace it next year. It was £143 for the black one’s tyre so I’m in no rush.

That just leaves the black one, front. It wasn’t alarmingly old (forget exact date) but I’ll be keeping an eye on it. First signs of dodgy front end and it’s getting replaced.

Seeing as I can’t sell it I’m getting the black one ready. I’ve changed the back tyre and the footrest (which had been welded, frightening off one potential buyer) and I’ve booked it in for a service at that local bike garage. It’s not the dear one, and he is letting me supply my own brake pads (which I’d already bought) for him to fit, so that will save me more.

The only other thing is my red one, the front end, I just don’t like it. It feels like it’s really stiff to lean it over to the right, but virtually falls in to the left. Hammer and Tongs said they’d do a service on my forks for £180.

I was looking through the paperwork that came with the bike and I saw the rear shock had been replaced and the front forks upgraded by Maxton Engineering. It seems they take crap front shocks, strip the guts out of them and rebuild them internally with their performance voodoo parts.

This was done in 2001, when the bike was right at the bottom of the country. I thought I’d google the company and see how far they are. For once I got a break. They are near Frodsham!

They’ve said they’ll strip the forks, replace the seals and reset them back to perfect for £145.

They are busy right now (who isn’t?) so it could take a couple of weeks. So I’ll get the black one serviced on the 20th, (he was busy right now, couldn’t fit me in before) then ride that while I take the forks of the red one for a service.  Then, say January, when surely no bike mechanic is busy, I’ll take the red one back to have the valves checked (which will cure what I suspect is a slightly leaking head gasket) then the red one is good for years.

When they stop spreading salt and the red one comes back out, either sell the black one or get the valves checked. Then that one is fully sorted.

Then as I’ve said before, it will take years before I have to have anything else done. Just ride the buggers.

I mean, if I’m keeping it I could upgrade the rear shock and remove the lowering device on the black one. But, apart from your foot grounding out during enthusiastic cornering, it’s still perfectly rideable.

And, before I go for any epic trips on the red one, possibly a seat upgrade and the slightly raised handlebars that 100,000 miles yank owner recommended.

But these are just optional extras. Once I’ve paid for the main jobs there is nothing more should *need* doing for years.

I was thinking if I go for long runs I should do it on the black one to save racking up the miles on my mint condition red one. And don’t throw the red one around too much for fear of crashing it. But that’s just a milder version of those arseholes who buy bikes as a retirement fund and never ride them. It’s a bike. It’s purpose is to be ridden. To do less robs it of meaning. It stops becoming a thing of joy and becomes a worry. You no longer own a fantastic bike, you are owned by a fantastic bike.

And that’s my homespun philosophical cliché for the day.

Later,

Buck.

PS, I took the new back tyre for a spin up around Hardknott Pass and such in the Lake District today to wear it in.

Here are some snaps.

 

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View from the top.

I’ve made it.

Full time gig, ideal bike, money pouring in.

 

The taxman finally contacted me to say as I’m paying them the money my accountant stole from me (instead of paying to HMRC) they couldn’t refund me. After 8 weeks 3 days of sitting on their arse. I had to cancel the direct debits, but then they paid it straight to my bank. So they say, not appeared yet.

The good news is; my last accountant, the not robbing-bastard one, said they’d calculated it  to be £850 HMRC owed me but HMRC made it more, I’d have to wait and see which amount they paid me. I looked online while chasing it all up today, HMRC are refunding me £1.235.59! Ker-ching!  That’s a bit better than £850.

 

If my first week’s wages are representative (my second week was virtually the same hours, so probably) I’m now on £40K p/a. for a 5 day week. Including bonuses and bank holiday pay.

I’ve said it before, but when you’ve walked around with a safety pin in your fly because you couldn’t afford a new pair of jeans, this is minted. Proper rich.

I say that. We’ve still got a big loan to pay off, Wendy is constantly thinking she’s going to lose her job (not her specifically getting sacked, more the whole bureau shutting) and there’s the looming threat of Stobarts, but for right now, things are peachy on the money front.

The trade off is it’s long hours, and starting at 11.00 I don’t see Wendy except in passing, and I have no life other than work and sleep. I’ve not got time to do anything before work, and it’s far too late when I get back.

It’s like the “dead man’s shift” of 2-10, but with 3 hours tacked on the start and usually a bit on the end for good measure.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still the best job I’ve ever had, and loads of money. But the money is because of all the hours.

 

I’m in a state of flux. I am seriously thinking about selling my sax. And the other one when the HP is clear. I had a bad day a week back. I was struggling with some new-ish tunes and I suddenly thought “I’m just not getting better.” It’s been ages, off and on, and I’m still crap. And it’s a pain in the arse lugging a sax back and to to work.

And the running. I just haven’t got time to train. It’s not that I want to give up running, but if you can’t run regularly you get big injuries when you do. And you are always at the ‘painful/ crap’ stage, never at the level where you are fit and pushing hard and really improving.

Which leaves me with work, the glorious ride to and from work, and sleep.

It’s a nice position to be in financially, but everything else is dying on its arse.

 

I’m not having much luck selling my VFR750. If it doesn’t go this time I’m going to stick it in the bike garage (possibly a different one so I don’t have to die of shame) and get the brake pads changed, get a new rear tyre, then use it as a winter hack as soon as they put the salt down. It’s ideally suited for the gig. Lowered seat, already scruffy, nice and predictable ride. With the exception of the current rear tyre. Oddly it still  has loads of tread but I managed to spin the back end up 4 times in 2 days in the wet. Not my idea of fun times.

I don’t mind having two bikes, especially two VFRs. It would save a lot of winter corrosion on my nice bike, extend it’s life and service intervals, and still give me a really decent bike to ride, without worry, over winter.

 

Whatever the downsides to this gig, it’s bloody nice that I’ve got a Veefer (or two) and can pay someone to keep it professionally pristine. Thinking about it, there are plenty of bike related niggles upon which to spend all this future money. The VFR750 needs brake pads and possibly a service, also I could do with having the valve clearances checked if I’m keeping it. That’s a fair bit of cash right there Also, just for cosmetic reasons, I could do with a new gear and brake lever, footpegs and the engine cover repainting.. The VFR800  steering feels a bit off. Sort of having to push it in to corners rather than flowing in. Hammer and Tongs do a full fork rebuild for £180. Whilst it’s stripped I could get them to powder coat the fork legs, the only signs of cosmetic wear on the bike.

See, there goes the best part of 1½ grand. Easy as that.

The thing is, if I am keeping them both, once the jobs are done, it will be ages before I need to do it again. Oil change every 5 000 miles, valve clearances every 16,000 miles.

If I run both bikes, 6 months each, that’s an oil change roughly every 1½ years, and valve clearances every 5 years. Get the initial hit out of the way and then it’s just fuel up and ride. And I have a bike to ride when the garage fanny about for a week at a time.

Hmmm.

Bugger. I’ve talked myself into this. I hope no bastard goes and buys my Veefer750.

Later,

Buck.

Veefer Victory!

The Honda VFR is sometimes called a Veefer.

I’ll get my coat.

Trial and tribulations, I’ve bloody had them.

I put the VFR800 in for a full service as the back brake was wooden and weird. The advisories on the MOT were for worn brake pads and front tyre. I’ve already changed the tyre.

I thought if the previous owner had let it get in  that state I’d better get everything checked and professionally set right.

I booked it in to a full-on bike garage. I had to wait 2 weeks for an appointment. Then they took the bike off me and held on to it for a week. I got it back and rode it to work.

The back brake was still shite. They’d only changed the front brake pads despite the MOT. They gave me a big list of all the work they’d done. Of which “rear brake, tested, OK”, and “test ride, OK” were but two.

The more I thought about it the angrier I got. If the back brake hadn’t been touched that meant I couldn’t trust any of the other things on the tick list.

I rang them up demanding to know why the hadn’t touched the back brake, the sole reason I’d put it in for service and brake change. The guy said it seemed OK. I said that it’s wooden. You can stand on the rear brake pedal and not lock up the back wheel. “You took that for a test ride and thought it was safe?”

He said to bring it back on Saturday to put it through a brake test.

Right. Getting shit sorted, me.

Then riding it home I really put the brake through it’s paces. Speed up, stand on brake. Nope, still not locking up. Slowed right down though. Tried again. And again. One thing I did notice, the front end was diving under heavy braking. That’s not right, back end should lock and slide, front should remain unaffected.

Oh dear.

I got home and googled it. On my VFR750, the back brake feels normal and you can lock it fine.

For the VFR800 they introduced linked braking.

Oh dear, oh dear.

Under heavy braking the rear brake, rather than lock and slide, activates the front brake to stop you. Virtually impossible to lock the back up. And the MOT advisories were for worn front brakes pads. Not rear.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

I had to ring the bike garage up the next day and apologise. That was character building. Must have given the mechanic a laugh. I have a Cone Of Shame on order. XXXL.

Also, whilst the 800 was in I was riding my 750. And I loved it. I got to thinking it felt a smoother engine with better power delivery. So not good. Just got a pristine version of my ideal bike, bought a stainless steel exhaust system and bloody expensive top box and rack, then decide I prefer the older (not fuel injected) version!

Wendy took it well. When I ‘phoned her from the Ecuadorian Embassy.

Happily I think it was just because I’d been tip-toeing around on the new front tyre before I took it in for service. I took it for a thrash about and I just love it. Got me a fully serviced, less than 18,000 miles, bullet-proof engine, good for 100,000+ miles. Comfy, goes like stink, and will plod about quite happily at 30mph. The W650 was just for posing on, it didn’t handle and it didn’t go. (Though I loved it.) The TL1000S was just too much. There was no pottering around mode. It was flat out or parked. And flat out for that was somewhere way beyond the reach of my license.

My Veefer is ideal. Another review of it in Motorcycle News was pitching it against the competition and marking them each in different categories. They said at the time it was a “nearly perfect motorcycle” and gave it 92%. It battered the competition.

I’ve never had a top box on a bike before, but the one on the 750 was a real bonus. It’s great for stashing your lid and such. I thought, as I was selling the 750 I’d buy the specific frame arms for the 800 and transfer the base plate and box.

Bought the arms. £70+.

The base plate didn’t fit those arms.

Bought the specific base plate., £30.

You guessed it.

The box didn’t fit on that base plate.

Already committed by that point. Had to buy the specific box. Which cost me another £98.50.

Just to stash my lid.

Anyway, fitted it today. Better be the best top box in the history of overpriced plastic.

Overall though, I’ve got a brilliant bike, fully serviced and checked out, with the replacement exhaust system for when this one rots through, and the added practicality of the top box.  Very happy Bucky!

Also I started my new full time gig last week. It promises to be loads of dosh. a 13 and a 13½ hour shift in the first week. I’ve finished buying stuff for the bike, so now can start making some cash.

Once I get my rebate off HMRC (8 weeks on Tuesday, still no refund) and sell the 750 we’ll be right again.

I got this full time gig and immediately started thinking which brand new bike could I treat myself to, further down the line.Turns out I don’t want any new bike as much as my Veefer. If you’re not lusting after bikes what is the purpose of money?

Later,

Buck.

YAY!

We went to Scotland for a break last week. It was proper nice. We saw wild deer, visited Cawdor castle (Shakespeare or history or some such) and tramped about a bit. Quite splendid.

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So that was all very nice.

I have to own I was missing my bike though.

I was glad to come back to my own bed and my bikes.

Yep, I’m old.

 

Forgot. The VFR750 has a dashcam thing. I left it running, in the rain, and captured this.

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Oops, baldy bastard Bucky.

I explored the options. Try to look cool with a toupee:

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but end up looking like this:

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So it had to go. *sad face*

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Or, in the wild

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The full version of that pic is better, but you can’t see my hair. Which might be a good thing.

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Ho hum, 51.  I’ve had a good innings.

 

I returned to work on Sunday, (12hrs 45), then Monday (12hrs). As I was finishing on Monday one of the drivers asked me if I’d got one of the full time jobs that were going. What full time jobs? I asked the transport clerks and they said they’d asked people about 2 weeks ago. While I was on holiday. Gutted. I’d already asked for full time the last time they asked, 4 months ago.

The clerk said to ring a manager today (Tuesday, my day off) and enquire about it. From the tone of the driver I thought they’d already given the jobs out. I rang anyway. He wasn’t in.

Then out of the blue a senior manager rang me. Which shift did I want?

I was caught on the hop, but tried to catch up with the conversation as it went on. He was talking like I’d put my name down, been through selection and got the job. He offered me 13.00hrs start, Sunday-Thursday, 11.00hrs, same, or 07.00-10.00 on a weird, rolling shift thing. I initially said the 7-10, but he said the rolling thing meant it was 4 out of 5 Sundays, and 2 Saturdays. He said to think of the weekends. Fair do’s. So I said if at all possible I’d like to go for the 11.00hrs,

Right, start next week. If they can get it up and running in time, I’m to have Saturday off and start on Sunday!

Bloody great!

There’s also an unconfirmed rumour that Tesco’s are have had enough of Stobbarts and are thinking of returning to in-house drivers. I wouldn’t mind the buy-out as long as we don’t have to work for the green terror.

 

The other thing of note. I was all excited as I booked my bike in for a full service, change the brake pads, and do the fork seals and oil. I booked it in two weeks ago. This was the first available appointment at this dedicated bike garage I’ve found.

I took the bike in this morning (day off) expecting to pick it up this afternoon. The guy said “We’re really busy at the moment, it’ll probably be ready next Thursday.”

Caught me on the hop so I just took it. It wasn’t until I was on the bus home that I started getting annoyed. They arranged and appointment for a couple of hours job, then say they are going to leave the bike standing for over a week before they even touch it. I could be riding it. And they arranged a date. It’s just not cricket.

The more I think about it the more angry I’m getting. I’m in two minds now, whether to leave it with them this once and never go back, or to go and collect the bike tomorrow.

Hmmm.

I’ve still got the VFR750 to ride in the meantime. Unless someone buys it on eBay in the next 1 hour, 28 minutes. It’s been up for 10 days and I’ve only had one half hearted enquiry, so probably not.

If the 750 sells I’m picking it up.

I’m sure the bike will be perfectly sorted and good for another 5,000 miles (next oil change) when they’ve serviced it. But it grates.

So, mostly great news today.

Later,

Buck.

More bikes!

I know. This is of no interest to anyone but me. I’ve given up imagining anyone but me reads this, so that’s alright, then.

It’s been a rollercoaster ride.

I was trying to be sensible and sell the two bikes to pay for that gorgeous, fully sorted one. But I kept looking at it, then looking at every other VFR750 up for sale, then back at it. None of the others were sorted. Some were tidy, some were low miles, but I would have still had to splash out on fork springs (£118), rear shock (£300), on some of them the stainless steel exhaust system (£300) etc…

I drove Wendy nuts with my obsessing. She told me to get the bike just to shut me up. Win!

I texted the guy, but it was an 18 day old advert. No reply. I was despairing thinking he’s sold it. Tried an email, some people don’t like texts. He replied, still had it! Joy unbounded!

I arranged to go and see it, arse-end of beyond. Got the cash out, bought the train ticket, (£47, nearly 5 hours trip) arranged the insurance, went to bed all full of new bike joy. Woke up to “DO NOT TRAVEL, BIKE SOLD!”

Devastated beyond words.

My perfect bike, sat there unwanted for 19 days, I was on my way to make sure it was as described then hand over the cash, and some bastard snapped it up.

I lost £20 cancelling my insurance, and the £47 for the train ticket because I’d booked it in advance. But that was just salt in the wound. So gutted.

So, as ever, I changed my plan.

I thought, “Bugger it. There is nothing wrong with my bike. It’s a bit scruffy but the engine is solid as rock, I’ll just sort that out on the cheap.”

I window shopped all the prices, it came to over £600 in bits, some of which were hard to fit, the mechanics charge £63 per hour labour, so over a grand. And I’d still have a scruffy bike. I was up for it. But Wendy who is, as I say, (justifiably) heartsick of me fucking about about with bikes, said “Why not just bite the bullet and buy the new (2014, £6,500) one? You won’t have to do anything to it. For ever.”

I was sorely tempted. I want, I want. But it’s so much money.

I spent hours googling. It turns out the reason the VFR750 is a legend of reliability and bulletproof engine over-engineering is the gear driven cams. There is no cam chain to slap, stretch or snap. But cam chains are much cheaper and easier to manufacture. So after a decade or so of utterly redeeming themselves Honda went back to cam chains in 2002. Cue cam chain issues. It’s Honda, so I expect they quickly got it right, but it was the cam chain model that nearly ruined their reputation, and after they stopped the gear driven cams they had to do a model recall for the cam chain.

The consensus is, the last generation before cam chains, the ‘98-‘01 model VFR800, is the pinnacle of human achievement. Amongst VFR owners at least.

So then it was back to the grind, googling.

I was applying the same criteria. Tidy, low mileage, sorted rear shock, exhaust, screen, etc.

I came up with this:

VFR800i

A 1999 VFR800i. Fuel injection, gear driven cams, immaculate, genuine and provable (by all MOT’s) 17,000 miles, rear shock upgrade, hugger (a sort of mudguard tight over the back wheel. Stops crap flying up and rotting your shock) upgraded ECU so more power, race can and original end can, and RED!

Red ones are faster.

Fact.

‘Cos science.

£2,295.

The only down side is it doesn’t have a full stainless steel exhaust system. But if it’s only got 17K miles after 18 years on the road, I’m guessing it’s not seen much rain. Or winter salt.

I was so chuffed. I rang the guy and we talked about it. He confirmed all of the above. I watched a video of a guy doing a 111, 000 mile review on his 2002 (cam chain! Boo-hiss!) model. He said with slightly raised handlebars and a bit wider seat he’d done loads of endurance events. 1000 mile ride, 24 hours marathon, etc. He’d had two electrical problems since new, but apart from that, he said change the oil every 5,000 miles, the chain and sprocket set every 20,000- 25,000 miles, and (over those kind of miles) flush the brakes, radiator, etc periodically. But he said that was it. Just get on and ride for ever.

Abso-fucking-lutely ace!

So I text the guy for written confirmation of miles, MOT proof, etc. It’s not like I can just nip around and view the bike, it’s in Littlehampton, which is basically as far as you can go down South without getting your feet wet.

OK, “buy now”.

Text him again, saying “OK, I’ve committed when can I come down?”

He text me back an hour later saying someone has made an offer an is coming to view it on Thursday. NO! This can’t be happening again.

I said I’d clicked “buy it now”, 50 minutes ago.

He is an eBay noob, apparently. Away from his PC and unaware of the sale. Who doesn’t have eBay on their ‘phone? Or at least email to get your eBay notifications?

Anyway, he said, somewhat reluctantly I felt, that I had won. The bike is mine and he is in for an awkward ‘phone call today. Tough.

Now I’m waiting for him to tell me when I can pick it up.

That’s me sorted.

Ultra reliable, tiny mileage, smart as a carrot bike, runs forever.

So chuffed.

The CB750 has already been bid up from £100 to £310 with 2 days to go. When we get back from our hols I’ll list the VFR750, and that’s that.

A bike that runs for ever, eats miles, has a good tank range, relatively comfortable, (can easily be made very comfy) will plod about, stable and predictable, but will shoot off like a scalded cat if asked. Perfect.

I’m happy. Wendy will be ecstatic. Life is good.

Buck.

PS I went and got the bike yesterday. Right on the goddamn channel coast. £108 train ticket. Transfer by tube in London. All in all, less than ideal. I had seen one for £800 less, that was in Oldham. I showed it to Wendy, to be fair. It was tidy, same age, none of the desirable upgrades mine has. And it was bright yellow. I had to show Wendy as I was wanting to spend £800 more just for what it looks like. Wendy hated it thankfully. I’ve spent a bit more, travelled the length of the country, paid £108 for a train ticket, but it’s a bike I want. If I’d have bought the yellow one, every morning I would be getting on it knowing I’d settled, and I would have resented it.

So I kept a chipper disposition through the hardship and expense yesterday knowing this was exactly the bike I wanted.

It has every MOT since new, the miles are a genuine 17,000. The original owner was a minted perfectionist. He imported the endcan from Australia,and it is actually useable. Nice sound, not deafening. Then spent £700 getting the rear shock upgraded and the forks fettled.  I wish I’d have got the bike off him. The guy I bought it off, the second owner, Huw, clearly had no idea. The rear brake is wooden. You can stand on it and it won’t lock up. The front tyre had plenty of tread left on it, but the MOT advisory said it was perished. A tyre that had rotted from old age before it had got worn out! Unbelievable. The tyre still looked OK to me, but you don’t want to be doing 140 (not that I ever would, m’lud) and be proved wrong. For the sake of peace of mind I got a new tyre today.

As Huw had let the tyre rot and the back brake go to shit I’ve put it in for a full-on service, (and change the front brake pads, –worn, on the advisory-  and bleed the brakes) so I know I’m starting from a totally sorted platform.

I asked them to check and adjust the valve clearances. It’s 17,000 miles, supposed to be checked at 16,000. He said it was a 2 day, big job, and these bike don’t need one before 25,000 anyway. He’ll have a listen when servicing it to make sure there’s nothing amiss.

Then that’s it. I just have to ride and enjoy it.

The CB750 that I was going sort the back brake, MOT and sell for £850, I put up spares/ repair for £100. It’s already had 31 bids and is currently standing at £510 with a day to go!

Then sell the VFR750 when we get back from holidays and all is well.

Just look!

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Just look at the engine for an 18 year old bike.

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And the view from the cockpit

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Happy Bucky!

Bikes.

My biking obsession is driving Wendy to despair. But I’m sure she’s sharing my joy, really. Deep down inside. Well hidden. Behind a smokescreen of rage.

Anyway.

I got that TL1000S after the Motorcycle News (MCN) review that basically said it will scare the shit out of you and try to throw you into the scenery.  Guess what? It scared the shit out of me and tried to throw me into the scenery. Oddly it’s not as much fun as it sounds.

It was just an awesome, full-on, loony machine. There was no ‘potter around’ setting. You were either committed or parked. It still sounds fun. In real life that’s great for dry, straight roads, terrifying in the wet at roundabouts.  It’s probably just me, never having had a race bike before, but it was just too much. Being a V twin 1000cc the power didn’t build with the revs it just kicked you in the arse as soon as you touched the throttle. I couldn’t feed it in. I was in two minds about it. I’ll never own a bike that awesome again, but if it’s that bad in summer, imagine riding it to work through winter? I was on riding on eggshells as it was. The tickover problem decided me. The (£60 p/h!) Suzuki specialist mechanics said it would need an engine strip to find the problem, possibly thousands of pounds.

I sold it.

I was going to sell my CB750 as well. Put it through the MOT before the insurance runs out on the 21st, and it failed. Of course it did. Back brake disc worn, pads buggered. Also advisory on chain. I remain in a state of flux over bikes, so I pulled the ebay listing, ordered the disc, (already had some pads) and chain and sprocket set and was going to keep it. I’m finishing off fitting it today when the rain stops.

Then I came across an MCN review of the Honda VFR750 from the 90’s.  “For many, bike journalists included, the best road bike ever built.”

Whoa!

MCN don’t mince their words. (My favourite being a review of a supersports bike “Goes like buggery. Just as uncomfortable.”) That is a breathtakingly audacious statement.

Apparently Mr Honda had the idea that a V4 engine was the future, rolled out the first generation of bikes, but they were flawed, “chocolate cams”, cams kept buggering up. So it was either scrap the whole V4 concept and accept brand humiliation or redesign it as the most wonderfully over-engineered, bullet-proof, benchmark legend ever to be built. Honda. Obviously they redeemed themselves.

MCN: “A Honda PR man once (fairly) famously joked that “I don’t care how much a VFR costs, it’s worth three times as much.” He’s not far wrong.”  “For a Japanese superbike, the VFR is about as good as it gets. Build quality is sublime, reliability… is total. Don’t let high mileages put you off: VFR head over 75,000 with impunity…”

So then I *had* to have VFR750, the ‘94-97 model with the sexy (MCN) “Ferrari-esque louvres on its side panels.”

I was looking to try it out and if it’s as wonderful as they say maybe get the new version (VFR800) some way down the road. Wendy, who is sick to the back teeth of me fucking about with motorbikes, said I should just buy the new one. I priced a 2014 (latest model) bike for £6,500.

http://www.motoplanete.com/honda/galerie/VFR-800-2014/13.jpg

I went so far as to arrange a loan. Then I bottled it. It’s one thing to run old bikes, buy and sell, possibly crash, but £6½ K for a bike I might not like?

I got a ‘94 instead. £1,400. The amount for which I sold the TL.

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After stepping off the TL I was a bit worried I’d bought a dud. Again. You have to wind the revs up and wait, and wait, and wait.

That was just adjusting to the V4 engine. The V twin was instant, uncontrollable power. This one will potter around at 30mph all day quite happily. Then you rev it and away she goes! I’m a convert. The thing about Honda’s is the perceived blandness. They aren’t seen as idiosyncratic, or quirky, they just do the job, quietly, efficiently, safely. After the TL I can now appreciate that. Two days into ownership and I was chucking it into roundabouts lower and faster than the TL. Because the power comes in smoothly and predictably and the brakes work without spitting you off, I can ride it properly. I had to tiptoe around the TL.

I’ve heard lots of tales of 100K plus bikes still going strong.

This one isn’t my final bike. The shocks need sorting front and back, and the previous owner had it professionally lowered. It’s a bit short for me. But this is definitely my final choice for model.

I thought I’d test out the claim that it was a 600 miles a day comfortable bike. On a whim I rode down to Camborne in Cornwall and back yesterday. 700 miles. She’ll chug along at 90-100 for hour after hour, effortlessly, then go like stink for an overtake. The tank is good for nigh on 200 miles before the warning light, (and it has a petrol gauge as well! First bike I’ve had with one. Brilliant for peace of mind.)

I wouldn’t say it was the comfiest bike I’ve ever had, the old Honda CX500 takes that prize, but it’s tolerable. After 700 miles I wasn’t in as much pain as riding the TL 100 miles. Also the TL only had a 90 miles (motorway) tank, about 80 miles commuting. Crap.

I probably did it wrong, to be fair. Here to Cornwall with one stop for fuel, wander around an hour, then one stop on the way back.

I would love the new model, but when you can get a 20,000 miles, fully sorted (shocks upgraded, brakes fettled, pristine condition) 1995 VFR750 for a fifty quid short of  £2k, good for another 80,000 miles, why would you?

So now the plan is to sort the CB750, MOT and sell it. Fit the brake pads for the VFR750, sell that. Buy a pristine VFR750.  Look smug.

Here’s the one I want. Whether it will still be there when I’ve got the cash is another matter. Still, one will come up again.

HONDA VFR 750 FS

  •  

  •  

  • It’s got a full service history, the upgraded shocks front and rear, braided brake lines, the bigger screen and it’s not been lowered. So basically everything I want on mine.

    Pity it’s not red. Much as I love black for everyday things, it’s a scientific fact that red ones are faster. Wendy was unaware of the fact. Basic physics, that.

    Right, this is just me ranting about bikes. I have to tell someone and Wendy reaches for her gun every time the B word comes up.

    Later,

    Buck.

    PS, Fitted the chain and sprocket set (after ordering a new bolt for the front sprocket which snapped off rather than undo) and tried to adjust the brake which was seizing on. No joy. Tried to move the whole caliper across and that bolt snapped off. *blubs*

    I’m selling it spares/ repair. I’ve totally had enough of this shit. Also put the VFR up for sale with the brake pads unfitted. I’m not buggering another bike up up trying to fit them.

    *This* is why Wendy wanted me to get a new bike; so I can never touch it. She may have a point, actually.

    I’ve got both bikes up for sale, the CB750 has already sold, 4 days to go, just got to wait and see how high the bidding goes. Hopefully someone will buy the VFR750 as well. I’ve emailed the guy over the pristine one above. It’s a 19 day old advert, so I may have missed that boat. If so, it takes the pressure off at least. I’ll wait for the next spot-on one and bank the cash.