Archive for July, 2020

New News!

I’ve stumbled across some YouTube videos about my bike. Specifically, how to check the valve clearance and, if it’s out, how to replace the shims (little spacer type things). It’s a bit of a huge job. But if you watch the videos, it’s actually a series of big jobs, that can be further broken down into tons of small jobs.

Here’s the links if you’re interested.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ri-xJBufe8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46_KWJXTJis

I could watch this stuff all day. It fascinates me seeing bikes broken down and rebuilt.

I wasn’t actually looking for anything specific when I found those videos, but my bike is… nearing it’s 16,000 mile valve clearance check. I actually thought it was on 17,000, and slightly overdue, until I started typing that sentence. I think it’s nearly 15,000 miles at the minute. I was planning on doing it next week, but I can skill up for a while yet. Which brings me to my new news:

I’ve finally decided to stop messing about with bikes and actually learn what I’m doing. I have enough confidence and experience (and optimism in the face of experience) to tackle most jobs. As long as it’s ‘monkey see, monkey do’, I’m fine. I’ll give it a go. That’s what workshop manuals and YouTube tutorials are for. I maintain the thing you pay for is the experience and knowledge to diagnose what the job is that needs doing.

Until now!

I’ve found a brilliant resource. I was searching for motorcycle mechanic training, and came across a recommendation for this guy’s site. He’s a bit “God and Guns, USA! USA!”, which is hugely irksome, but the site is pure gold. A picture glossary of the parts, (in American, bless) a page of fixes for each problem, but most importantly, a logical progression for problem solving.

It’s solid gold. For instance, engine not starting.

I would go with spark at plugs, fuel, and errrr….

He says first things first, compression test. Every time. (Turns out it £13 for the tool, lifetime guarantee, just take the spark plug out, pop this in, turn the engine over. That’s it.)

If the engine isn’t turning over, put a new battery in and connect to the charger. If still not turning over, disable any kill switches. Still not, connect the charger to the lead to the starter motor. If it turns starter motor solenoid is shot. If not put charger directly onto the starter motor, if it turns, it’s the power lead that’s shot. If it clicks but the engine doesn’t turn it’s the starter motor clutch that’s shot.

It goes on. It’s genius. I’m really excited. Unlike all my other obsessions (sax, Russian, martial arts, etc) this isn’t accepting it’s going to be a depressing trudge towards a distant goal. Every thing I learn is improving me right now.  I cycle round, obsessing, mad enthusiasm, dreary donkey work, failure to progress, quitting, wanting that end again, obsessing, mad enthusiasm…

Bike mechanic-ing could be a keeper of a hobby.  A recurrent tip, when I was searching for “how to learn to be a bike mechanic” was ‘Buy a cheap, possibly dead, bike. Buy a workshop manual. Practice.’

I’m up for it!

I had a 7’x7’ space at the back of my shed. When we moved in it was flooded and marshy. Which is why the shed is 7’ away from the end of the garden. Since then trees have grown and I’ve been throwing all my garden waste in the gap. My shed has become full, as sheds do, with a lawnmower, shelving, gardening tools, Wendy’s pushbike, etc etc. I’m reclaiming it as my motorbike garage. So I moved about 5’ high of tree stumps and branches, rose branches and such, out from the space at the back of the shed and burnt it all. Sorry, neighbours.

Then I dug out about a foot or so of what has become the best soil in the garden, to level the ground off to what it was. Now I have to rig a tarpaulin roof between the shed and the fence and clear all the stuff out of my shed, under it. I might go back to B&Q, get some wood and rig up a proper structure, actually. Anyway, that’s just a means to an end. The end of emptying my shed so I can get a bike in there and have enough room to work on both sides. I’ve bought a seven drawer tool cabinet. That will stash all but my power tools. At the moment they are scattered all over the racking.

So that’s all the excitement about the prep, now I need a cheap bike. The guy was saying get something cheap and work on it, that way you’re not scared of breaking it, it’s not your proper bike, so you don’t have to rush to get it ready for work the next day, and even if you don’t make any money selling it on, think of it as paying for your education.

I was looking on Gumtree. There was a 600cc Yamaha, 1990, recently stopped running, still in MOT, the guy wanted £300 for it. Fair enough. A complete bike (missing the fuel cap) for £300.

I rang him yesterday. It all sounded good so I arranged to go and pick it up today. After the Scottish bike nearly left me stranded hundreds of miles from home I’ve bought a ramp and some ratchet straps, so I didn’t worry about it being a dead bike, I just hired a van.

I picked it up at 09.00, back to ours for the ramp and ratchet straps, waited an hour as he wanted me to come at 13.00, then drove to Birmingham. I found the address, knocked on. No answer. I tried again. Finally a girl came to the door and said there was no bike for sale there. I went back to the van and tried calling him. No answer. I text him. No reply. Called him another 5 times. I checked the text he’s sent me yesterday. It was the right address and right postcode. I was at the right place. But he’d sent his sister out to lie to me. In the end I just had to turn around and drive home.

£60 for the van, £19 for diesel, £18 for a workshop manual, £23 for a petrol cap, 4 hours driving, the whole of my day off wasted, all because he didn’t even have the decency to send me a text saying it wasn’t for sale anymore, for whatever reason.  I got back and he still hadn’t replied, so I knew he’d just lied to me and messed me around, so I sent him an email through Gumtree. He didn’t reply but he took the advert down within minutes so I couldn’t contact him again.

I have been having anger management issues.

I text our Lisa and told her the above, and it seems Nathan still has his bike, I can have that to play with.

It’s only a single cylinder 125cc learner bike, and it’s somewhat the worse for wear, but it’s an engine, and the principles are all the same. And it’s free. And the parts for it are dirt cheap.

When he got it:

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What it looks like now

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That should polish right out.

I’m going to go and strip it down a bit and see if I can get it back in the car.

Well, I’ve got that off my chest. Hard to believe anyone would do that. Incredible.

Right, I’m going to bed. I’ve had more than enough for one day.

Later,

Buck

Getting Better.

Things are looking up. We had a day without rain, finally, yesterday so I took my bike for a spin. I was going to go to Snowdonia for some nice bike pics, but I got halfway there, stopped for directions and was a bit too ill to go  on, so turned around. The good news is, although it’s not a direct like for like comparison, on the first ride I did on the bike (fair nippy speeds down the motorway at high revs trying to find the power) I got 90 miles to the tank and was on my last bar of reserve. This time, after fitting the power commander,  I had done a day’s commute (mostly motorway) then rode into Wales, (motorway, fast A roads, then urban slow roads) and back, so a real mixed bag and probably more of a real world test, and I got 122 miles and was still on 2 bars of reserve! I did the maths, the first ride I was getting 28mpg, the second I was on 41mpg!

That will do nicely!

Also, since I’ve fitted the power commander, I’ve been tolerant of the acceleration, but not blown away. It is a *sports*/ tourer, after all. And from Mr Honda. Then I set off from the lights the other day, I hadn’t given it enough revs and nearly stalled. I slipped the clutch, built the revs and dropped the clutch. WHOA! Off like a scalded cat.

Sorry for doubting you, Mr Honda! It’s a hoot!

So that’s the bike totally sorted now. Big yay!

Here’s a snap from Blackpool.

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As I say, I’ve been ill again. This bug seems to go around in cycles. You get a sore throat, it feels like it’s swollen up and you can barely swallow, then the next day you feel weak and a bit lousy. You get through that and you think that’s got to be the last time, I must be over it now. And then a week or so later you start again.

4 days ago I got the sore throat. The next day I felt weak, but it didn’t go away. I went for a fast run the next day, thinking I was fine. I had to stop after 2½ miles, I had nothing. Later on it the weakness hit me again. And yesterday I was so bad I thought I’d caught it again. I was so weak I cut my bike ride short (in the sunshine!), got home and went to bed for a bit. I had the confused panicky thoughts, and was just pinned to the floor.

Anyway, that was yesterday. Today I woke up and I think I’m fine again. On the bright side I had asked to work yesterday, but they knocked me back. That would have been awful.

I wanted to go for a run today, but I was scared of it hitting me while I was out. I did the gardening instead. I say gardening, there’s nothing to buy in the flower section of B&Q, so it was basically weeding. That turned into graft though as I found a problem horsetail grass incursion from next door. I tried digging it out and thought I’d got it and the root things, but then I looked on the RHS website and they said the rhizomes, by which they spread, can reach 6 feet deep! Oh. Got a job on, then.

I’ve done what I can for now. Apparently I’ll need to get some ‘tree stump killer’ strength weed killer and apply over a period of years. Which is super if my neighbour is going to keep infesting my garden.  Ho hum.

I forgot to catch up with Twitter and such when I did my last blog so here it is.

I briefly followed a yank runner, but she loved herself so much that she thought she could be mean to everyone else because of it. I quickly got irritated with her and stopped following her. Her trademark thing was always posting oddly angled “I love me” selfies for every run.

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I did a before and after for one of my runs.

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I amused myself, at least.

Something that’s been making me laugh is Bookcase Credibility

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Screenshot_20200624-064728_TwitterScreenshot_20200713-121042_Twitter (2)Screenshot_20200630-134355_Twitter (2)Screenshot_20200713-135846_TwitterScreenshot_20200713-140151_Twitter

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Which leads me on to politics, home

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And abroad

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But there was plenty of whimsy.

Historical whimsy:

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IMG-20190908-WA0001 (2)

IMG-20190908-WA0001 (3)

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IMG-20190908-WA0003 (2)

Motivational whimsy

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Some wit from Forest Fr1ends

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Avian whimsy

Screenshot_20200623-140909_Twitter

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And the rest

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2 months

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7 months

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Caught up. And I’m still feeling OK. See if I can run tomorrow.

Later,

Buck.

Bikes (revised).

I did a long and boring blog of the trials and tribulations of my recent bike experiences, but the Geneva Convention forbids me from sharing it. Much of this stuff is just note keeping for my own future reference.

So, first things first. I know what everyone’s been thinking: “How much longer is that lad going to keep that bike? He’s had it for ages.”

Fret not! The Triumph is gone!

I had a bit of an ordeal selling it, the guy who bought it had told his girlfriend he was going to spend the money from his previous bike sale on them. Then he bought my bike. Oddly, she then didn’t want to give him a lift to pick mine up. Women, eh? The guy rang me up and said he still wanted the bike, but I’d have to deliver it. Which would have been a 140 mile (country roads, no motorway) round trip. And I’d have had to arrange a lift with Luke to get back. I was going along with it, for the sake of a sale, but then Wendy got all rage-y that the guy was taking advantage of me. “When have you ever asked anyone to deliver a bike?”

It’s true. I had booked train tickets to Dundee to ride my next bike 280 miles home. This guy was making it my problem how he got his bike. I said no, I was going to relist it on eBay. He got a lift.

I was all set to go to Dundee to pick up my new bike, but the night before the guy emailed me through the sale site (Gumtree) to say he’d taken it out for a last test spin and it had broken down, he was pulling the sale. Because of the lag going through Gumtree I didn’t get the email until 4 hours later, by which time the insurance company were shut.

I rang them first thing in the morning, but the policy had activated at midnight so they charged me 43p for usage on the policy. And £63 for cancelling the policy. Out of a £180 annual policy. Legally enforced robbery.

At least I got a full refund on my train ticket, and the consolation of thinking if he hadn’t taken it for a spin I might have been 250 miles from home with a dead bike. That would have been a long push.

I knew the model I wanted, a CBR600F. Someone on Twitter mentioned they were trying to track down one they’d previously owned and were deeply regretting selling.  I looked it up on MotorCycle News (MCN) and they said they were fantastic bikes. Sports/ tourers that did everything. Brilliantly. And had a bulletproof engine. A lot like an updated version of my much loved VFR750, but with fuel injection instead of messing about with carbs. It was the carbs that finally finished me with the VFR.

I tried to buy several bikes, but got nowhere. I worked myself into a bit of a state over which way to go. The cheaper end of the market had some reasonable bikes for good money. The dearer end had some lovely bikes.

I was fretting so much I couldn’t sleep at night.

In the end I found some peace by thinking of it as the bike I wanted for me. There were two at the dearer end, one was pristine condition, low miles, completely standard. Exactly the bike for selling. (But if you ride it every day, the miles go up, the condition deteriorates, and you want to change it to non-standard to make it a better bike.) The other was about the same price, a few more miles (5,000) but had all the upgrades.

For me, to ride, that was the better bike. I got that one.

CBR600F 1

It’s got the better screen for wind protection, full stainless steel exhaust system, with a lighter silencer that is road legal and oddly not too loud, braided brake lines (the original ones swell and lose braking bite after nearly 20 years) new tyres, heated hand grips, crash bungs… It’s the full package.

I rode it home in the rain. Good, steady, reassuring posture and grip. None of the banzai wheelie-ing of the Triumph. As soon as I got it home I drilled some holes and fitted the number plate properly (The seller had had a tiny strip number plate held on with tape) and fitted the topbox.

I took it for a test ride to Barrow in Furness on my day off. The good news is it was a 180 round trip, only stopping for petrol, and my arse was fine, the fairing took the brunt of the wind blast so it was comfy, and made it a lot quieter as well.

The bad news was the acceleration was sluggish through most all of the range. Unless you were right at the top of the 14,000rpm (bike screaming) it was sedate acceleration. And it only got 90 miles to a 13 litre (3 gallon) tank. That’s not right.

I googled it, and it’s a fuelling issue. Someone else getting 25mpg had asked about it . Seems they run a bit rich anyway, if you put a sports exhaust on without remapping the engine it’s basically running flooded. The answer, they said, was a power commander. This is a little box you plug into your electrical system that overrides the fuelling commands from the bikes computer, allowing it to be set to run at optimum for your set-up. It was £364 (!) so I was really worried about it not working, but I couldn’t have kept the bike as it was, so I took the gamble. I’ve ridden it to work a few days and it’s brilliant. A different bike. I’m off tomorrow so I can test the mpg, but I’m happy with it now. Perhaps this is the exact bike I’ve been after. Perhaps.

It will go like stink, handles nicely, is predictable, will chug comfortably at any speed, and you have to work it to ride it. If you’re chugging along at 90 you have to drop two gears for hard acceleration. Not like the the FireBlade where you twisted the throttle at any speed in any gear and instantly made the jump to light speed. That was a pointless bike, 75% of it never got used. I can ride this through the winter without worrying about spoiling the prettiness of the exposed engine unlike the on the Triumph.

 

I forgot to say the front wheel on a motorbike is held on my a spindle running through the centre of the wheel which has a nut on the end. To hold that in place there are two pinch bolts at the bottom of each fork leg.

pigtryingtokillme

Ignore the yellow arrow. Two blue arrows are the pinch bolts, to the right is the nut on the spindle.

I got back from testing the top end of the bike and it’s acceleration, 180 fast miles, and was working on another job when I noticed one of the pinch bolts was sticking out, loose. Not good. I checked the others. All four of them were finger tight. I could literally tighten them with my finger and thumb.

Good grief! I tightened them, checked the nut, adjusted the chain and made sure the rear wheel was properly fitted, and did an oil and oil filter change just to be on the safe side. You just never know what kind of a moron you are buying from!

 

So. It was an ordeal, and I tortured myself over it (which is not like me. I focus, obsess, buy) but I’ve got the bike, got it set up right, and I’m a happy bunny.

Now that’s gone from obsession to transport I can move on. Test the mpg tomorrow, fit some smaller indicators when the arrive from China (just for the aesthetics) and I’m done. Sorted bike for all purposes for years to come. Wendy has issues with me saying that. This is barely my third bike this year, I don’t know why she doubts me. When I tried to list my last one on Gumtree they refused to post my advert. I got in contact, and it was because I’d registered the advert as a private sale and, based on the number of bikes I’d sold, they had me down as a trader. Everyone’s a critic.

 

Now I can refocus on my other boring obsession; running.

My foot feels a whole let better lately. It’s still not perfect, but compared to how bad it got, it’s entirely acceptable. I’m going to return to sub 3 hour marathon training. Not that there’s any sign of any races being held. Ever. But just for me.

I was trying to establish my maximum heart rate (MHR) for heart rate running. The idea is that you run 80% of that time in zone 2 (MHR being zone 5). They say to run flat out for 12 minutes (or something) to get an accurate measure of your MHR.  I decided if I was going to go flat out I might as well attempt something significant so I went for 5K runs. (3.1 miles). It sounds a lot easier than, say, a half marathon, but it’s the ‘flat out’ thing that gets you. I had 3 goes.

My PB was 21.35 from last year when I was fit, just before I injured myself. In May I got a 23.59, which was dire but the best I could do. First attempt I got 21.45, second 21.02! A new PB! And I set my MHR, at a very lazy 166bpm. I’ve had a run since then but only managed 21.07. My next big goal is to try to get sub 20 minutes.

Anyway, my point is, I ran a 100 mile week, and I’ve broken last year’s 5K PB.  Twice. My fitness is back. My hoof seems to be on the mend. It’s time to focus on an actual plan rather than just do whatever daft challenge pops into my head.

That’s where I am now. Bike and running. That’s about it.

Apart from the bug. It keeps hitting us every now and then. Sore throat, weakness, chesty. It passes within a day or two but it feels like it’s never ending.

And I’ve asked work about full time hours. Again. They’ve said it’s not a problem, as soon as the other drivers we’ve got working on our side now (the ones who usually deliver rigid trucks to schools and pub and restaurants) go back to their proper job. So. Piece of string. *sigh*

Right, that’s me.

Still long and boring. Ho hum. 

I’ve caught up now, the next one will be short and boring.

Later,

Buck.

PS, forgot to say. Wendy has had her hair cut for the first time in 5 months. This is the greatest event in human history, apparently. The moon landing is but a footnote to it. I’ve gone the other way. I saw an old guy, thin on top, but still got his long hair. It was a way better look than I’m pulling off, so I’m growing mine again. Yay!

BIKES!

I know what you’re thinking: “How long is that lad going put up with that bike? He’s had it totally ages!”

Fret not. I’ve had a sudden change of heart and sold the Triumph and got a Honda CBR600F. It’s a sports/ tourer, much like the the VFR750 was, but different engine configuration (in-line 4, instead of a V4), newer styling, and fuel injection. The thing that decided me against my VFR in the end was messing around with the carbs.

Obviously the road has not been smooth, it never is. I wrote this earlier this week:

 

“I’m having a really tough time of this latest bike purchase. 

I was struggling with the Triumph, a bit overwhelmed at all the work I was going to have to do just to get an over-the-tank riding position. Then someone on Twitter mentioned they were on the hunt for a CBR600F they’d previously owned and were deeply regretting selling.

I looked it up on MotorCycle News (MCN) and they said it was a fantastic all rounder. A sports/ tourer that did everything brilliantly. Fantastic handling, sporty if you want, comfortable if you just want to cruise. And it’s a Honda. My go-to brand.

I immediately wanted one.

I had issues selling my Triumph. The guy said he’d buy it. Yay! Then said his girlfriend wouldn’t give him a lift to pick it up as he’d said he was spending the money from his previous bike sale on them, then blown it on a new bike for himself. His girlfriend was not amused.

So he rang me and said he still wanted to buy it, but I had to deliver it. I looked and it was 70 miles of country roads away. With the faffing about with the paperwork and such that would have 3 or so hours.

I was going to do it, just to get the sale, but then Wendy got all rage-y that I was being taken advantage of. "When have you ever expected anyone to deliver a bike to you?"

It was a fair point, so I was begrudging doing it. Then he sent me a snotty text "I’m going to need confirmation you’re delivery it tomorrow".

No.

I had seen a CBR600F in Scotland going cheap. I had booked train tickets to travel to Dundee then ride it 280 miles home.

And this guy was giving me grief, making it my problem, how he got the bike he’d just bought.

No and again no.

I said I was going to relist it on eBay. The next day he magically got a lift.

When he came for the bike it was just a matter of starting it up, ‘that’ll do me, here’s the cash’.

 

When I first started looking my first fancy was one in Altrincham.

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It was dearer, but only 14, 000 miles, in top condition, with all the upgrades you want. Full stainless steel exhaust system (the original ones rot), double bubble screen (better wind deflection whilst sat upright, still sporty when you lay down) and brand new tyres (£280 for a set).

But it was full price, £2,995.

Then I saw the one in Dundee going cheap at £1,800 and although it didn’t have the upgrades, and was 20,000+ miles, I thought it would do me.

As I say, I’d agreed to buy it. I bought the train tickets, got insurance, then the night before I was going to collect it I got an email saying he’d taken it for a test spin, prior to me coming up, and the electrics had died. Rectifier. Which is a known weakness. He was pulling the sale and replacing the dead rectifier. With another Honda rectifier. There’s your problem, mate. Fit the upgrade.

Anyway, because the email came via the sale site (Gumtree) it arrived 4 hours after he’d sent it. Too late too cancel my insurance. I called them as soon as they opened the next day to cancel it. Because the policy had activated at midnight they charged me 46p for usage. And £63 for alteration fees. Out of an annual insurance policy of £180.

Legally enforced robbery.

I got a full refund on my train ticket at least, and drew a lot of comfort from the thought that if he hadn’t taken it out, I could have been 250 miles from home with a dead bike. That would have been a nightmare push home.

So that one went pair shaped.

I saw another about the same price, and was willing to buy it, but someone had arranged a viewing and bought it.

I enquired about a local one but upon closer inspection it was a bit ratty. The seller never got back to me.

Another, someone bought it.

I was just after a bike I could use and enjoy. It didn’t have to be perfect, just do long as it was cheap.

I started looking at the full-on race CBR600RR, which I could get for roughly the same as the dearer CBR600Fs, but which are so much prettier.

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But MCN said they are a track based missile. For road use the F is far better.

Back to looking at Fs.

I saw an immaculate one, only 9,000 miles for £2,850 which was bog standard.

Not a mark on it. I enquired about that.

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And this is where it all gets confusing for me.

That would be an investment bike. It’s exactly the sort of bike people want to buy. Unmolested, perfect condition, low miles.

But it’s not the bike I want to ride.

If I’m thinking of spending that much, the local one has a better screen, heated handgrips, full stainless exhaust system with nicer sounding silencer, braided brake pipes (standard pipes swell and lose braking ability over nearly 20 years) better colour scheme…

The bog standard one is 2 years younger, 5,000 miles less, immaculate, £150 cheaper…

I’ve been vacillating between the two.

I’ve plumped for the local one. Got it for £2,900.

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But I’m still all over the place. I’m not enjoying this at all. I’ve put down £100 deposit on it, subject to it being sound on the road, and I’ve checked it out and heard it running, but he had a private number plate on, so I’ve got to wait 3- 5 days for the amended V5 logbook to come back with the old registration number before I can properly buy it. I’m taking it for a test ride to run it through the gears, but I reckon that’s a formality.

I’m hoping when I’ve got it I can stop making myself miserable second guessing myself.

Should I have got a cheap hack, or the perfect but bog standard and not as pretty one, or a kamikaze full bore, pretty as a picture CBR609RR?

Will I get my money back, paying top dollar for this one?

I’m absolutely ruining the joy of the anticipation of my new bike by fretting over what I could or should have done. This is totally not like me. I’m impulsive and I enjoy the thrill of tracking down my perfect bike. This is just miserable.”

 

That vacillating and fretting lasted for days. I couldn’t sleep at night. I was stressing myself ill.

I finally found some peace when I thought about it as buying the bike for me, not for selling on.

I wanted a cheap “it will do” one, because it was cheap, would still be an adequate bike, and I’d be able to get my money back if and when I sold it.

I wanted the immaculate one because it was pristine, would be just as Mr Honda intended, and in that form would be saleable. The thing is, you start actually riding a pristine bike and the miles go up, the condition deteriorates, and you want the upgrades to make it more useable.

And the CB600RR is not a practical choice. It’s a track based race bike. Not comfy, not soft on real roads, and it would look stupid with a top box.

So, my bike. It’s a bit pricey, I’ll probably lose a few hundred when I come to sell it, but it is the bike I want.

I rode it home last night, in the rain. Mr Honda has done it again. A bike that can be mad as a carrot with the application of throttle, but will commute at legal speeds without any fuss. When you’re riding a new bike home down country lanes in the rain, that is very comforting.

Today I rode it to work. Empty motorway at early o’clock, I thought I’d test the other end of the scale. 6th gear at 90, hit the throttle, sluggish acceleration. Hmmm. Dropped it to 5th, tried again. Still poor. Started worrying I’d been sold a dud. Stopped at the lights then accelerated away, the power starts kicking in quite high in the revs, about 8,000rpm (13,000 redline) so by the time I was wanting to change out of 2nd I was doing 90. Ah, that’ll be why.

I think it’s just going to take some getting used to.

The VFR750

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was like that, plod along quite happily, get it past 7,000rpm and it shot off like a scalded cat. Totally different bikes under and above 7,000rpm.

It’s a bit of an adjustment. The Triumph was a triple, and geared for wheelies, so the power and torque smashed you whenever you twisted the throttle. This one you have to work it.

This is not a bad thing.

The FireBlade

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never felt like it was working. You spent the whole of your ride slamming the throttle shut. It felt like 75% of the bike was being wasted.

On the Triumph

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the front end kept lifting unexpectedly under acceleration, it felt like you were torturing it at higher speeds, and it had a bad riding position. Also, as Wendy has just pointed out, the Triumph was a pretty bike. And naked (no fairing). But in the few months I’d had it, the paint on the front of the engine block had started to peel. If you ride a naked for any amount to time, especially through winter, it’s going to start showing wear, and lose lots of money.

This bike could be the perfect compromise. I need more time to adjust, to find the speed and power. So far though, it handles nicely and feels completely secure and planted. And I’m fairly sure there’s a whole lot of potential I’ve not yet discovered. It keeps you out of excessive wind blast, has hand warmer grips, and the engine is both protected by the plastics and hidden from view. The prettiness of the engine is not a selling point, is what I mean.

I got it home last night, fitted the rack for the top box, drilled number plate holes and fitted screws (the seller had a tiny ‘plate, held on with tape) and had the rear plastics off to check out the rectifier. I’ve bought the upgraded one already to be on the safe side.

So, that’s where I am.

I’m going to take it for a longer spin tomorrow, test the long distance comfort and try and find the performance.

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Bikes.

PS, the actor Sam Neil posted a picture of his pick up truck, some classic from his birth year, which got me looking. There’s always this ugly old thing from 1966 for me.

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That is the perfect example of an investment bike. Never to be ridden.

£8,750.

You would cry every time you got it wet.

But what a beauty.

 

PPS, I thought about doing a new post, but it’s just more bike stuff, so I’ll extend this one.

I took the bike for a test ride today to try and find the power band and adjust my riding. A quick nip up to Barrow in Furness. 90 miles each way.

The good news is it was a 180 mile round trip, I only stopped to fuel up, and my bum was fine by the end. That’s quite respectable. My knees were getting a bit uncomfortable though, oddly. Also with plastics it’s way more comfortable to hold a speed without discomfort. And, an added bonus that I should have thought about before, the noise level is hugely reduced. They say above 40mph all you are hearing is the wind noise, so having the fairing slicing a hole through the wind really makes a difference. I’ve already got mild tinnitus, which is a bit irritating, I don’t want to make it worse.

The bad news: Huston, we have a problem. It’s got tons of top end, and it will scream away when you get right to the top of the rev band, but getting there is painfully sedate. That is not how Mr Honda builds a sports/ tourer. Also, I set off with a full tank of petrol, (13 litres/ 3 gallons), and I was flashing on the last bar of my reserve tank (of 5 bars) 90 miles later. I was in the sticks in the Lake District, I thought I was going to run out and have to walk to a petrol station. On the the way back I didn’t thrash it, kept in the top gear for most of the journey home, and I was still down to 4 bars of reserve.

That is so not good. The Triumph, naked, as aerodynamic as a brick, with an engine that was screaming for mercy over the ton, got 120 miles to the tank.

I googled it and someone else had the same issue. Everyone replying was saying “No, you should get 40mpg, up to 140 miles per tank” . The answer was fuelling. It’s probably running way too rich. It could be the autochoke is staying on (nope, my revs drop), the temperature sensor not working, (nope, starts off without a reading, registers at 34C, climbs to 90s, which is normal) or an aftermarket sports exhaust without the fuel injection computer being remapped. Apparently Honda run them a bit rich anyway, with a free breathing exhaust its way too rich. If so there would be carbon deposits on the end of the silencer. I wiped my finger around, a sooty as a Tory’s child chimney sweep. Ah, that’ll be why.

I’ve ordered a power commander (a plug in device that gives the fuel injection system new instructions for optimum performance.) I was a bit miffed at having to do so (£364!) but the bike would just irritate me otherwise, and 90 mile to a tank is a joke.

I was getting upset with Porcine McPigface for knowingly selling me a dud. Then I did some tinkering. I was trying to swap the clunky, chunky old fashioned indicators for funky new ones. It was a total pain as I had to take the front fairing off just to get at them. While was working on the front of the bike I noticed one of the pinch bolts on the spindle of the front wheel was protruding. There’s a nut on the end of the spindle, you take that off, loosen the four pinch bolts and the spindle slides out so you can take the front wheel off.

Just found this image. Ignore yellow, but two pinch bolts, spindle and nut all present and correct.

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Seeing one loose, after a long and fast ride was a bit worrying. I tried the others. All four were finger tight. I could literally tighten them with my finger and thumb. I’d just thrashed it to the Lakes.  I don’t think the plod knowingly did anything. I think he was a totally incompetent moron.

I’ve tightened them. Now realising I should make sure the nut is tight as well. I put it up on centre stand, cleaned the chain, adjusted the chain tensioners and made damn sure the back wheel was bolted on.

This has made me realise two things. Never deal with the police. Take nothing for granted.

I’ve checked through the paperwork that came with the bike, he had it serviced 700 miles ago, so the air filter and plugs should be fine. Perhaps sooty with it running so rich. I’ll do an oil and oil filter change for my own peace of mind and clean the air filter and plugs when I fit the power commander. After that it’s just the cosmetics of the smaller indicators and job’s a good ‘un for many a year.

I’m still really hopeful this is going to be a great bike. Otherwise I wouldn’t have spent that heartbreaking amount on the power commander. I had a 2003 Honda VFR800Fi (fuel injection) that had an aftermarket exhaust and a power commander and that went like stink. That was a sports/tourer as well, but weighted towards ‘tourer’, the CRB600F is more sports than tourer. Hopefully the power commander will sort it out and I’ll be a happy bunny. 

Bikes, eh?

PPPS, final amendment.

My power commander arrived yesterday(Tuesday). I was going to wait until my day off (Friday) but I needed to know, so I fitted it last night. I took it for a local test ride last night and it seemed to have a load more punch when you hit the revs. I rode it in to work and back, mostly motorway miles, and OH MYYYYYYYYY!

I was really worried before I fitted it. I spent over the odds buying the bike, then had to spend another £364 to try to get it to perform like a Honda sports/tourer should. If that hadn’t fixed it,… well, I just don’t know. It would have been awful, whatever I did.

As it is, it goes like stink! You can race through the gears and the revs until you hit a good speed, then chug along quite comfortably. The thing to remember is: it’s a 600cc sports/ tourer, not a 1000cc hypersports like the FireBlade. So if you’re chugging along at 90 in 6th gear, you can’t just twist the throttle and jump straight to light speed, you have to drop it down two gears, into the higher revs, then scream away. So that’s me a happy camper.

Also yesterday I dug out the baffle for the exhaust. As I’ve been thrashing the higher revs to try to get it to work right, the exhaust has been howling a constant racket. Some people go for that. I wouldn’t mind if it was an old Brit twin or a Harley, they make a gorgeous sound, but this is 14,000rpm of tortured steel. It’s a pain filled scream. You can see the size of the exhaust opening, so a lot of noise gets out of there at revs. I dug out the baffle, expecting something that was going to fill the hole with layers of mesh or something. It was a hollow tube. Slightly thinner than a bog roll tube and a bit longer. That was it. I thought I’d give it a go anyway. It actually works! It turns the scream into a “Vvvwwwoooh” sound. Surprisingly quieter, and a much more pleasant sound. That was a shock win.

After plod trying to kill me with the loose front wheel I thought I’d better make sure the service had been done, so I ordered some oil and a filter. (The service was only 700 miles ago, so the new plugs and air filter should be fine). They arrived today. Again, I didn’t want to wait, so I was lay outside in the rain after work changing that. To be fair to Porcine McP, that was the cleanest oil I’ve ever changed. 

I’ve ordered some indicators with built in resistors (to stop the LED indicators from making the relay flash too fast) that should be a straight swap, when they arrive.

So that’s me. Happy bunny. I’ve got the acceleration to get me out of trouble, the top end should I need it, the handling and comfort, and a strong engine that will happily chug in all day.

It’s been stressful, unpleasant and expensive, but I’ve got a bike that can do it all.

Final bike thing. The guy who bought my Triumph rang me up earlier. “Have you fitted a quick reaction throttle to it?”

Never heard of one.

“Snatchy throttle, front end keeps lifting.”

Yup. That’s the bike. Suck it up, buttercup.

 

Now I can just get on with riding my bike. All  year round. Without worrying about it.

Brilliant.

Now back to my equally boring running obsession.

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