Month: February 2020


After the debacle with the Triumph Sprint (Triumph leaving a known weak part to fail, and the previous owner selling it on, as it was about to fail) I bit the bullet, bought the part, fixed it, and sold the bike. I say that like it was a doddle. The sale was a nightmare. It was the same noob who broke it. I don’t want to go through it all as it’s boring and infuriating, but after he’s asked me to take the advert off eBay (ie, he’d agreed to buy it) he came around to look at the bike. I had to take him for a test ride, then he wanted his mate to come around and take it for a test ride, then, after several hours of messing us about and winding me up, he finally agreed he was going to have it.

I had already spotted about the cheapest bike going, so I was desperate to sell to be able to buy it before anyone else snapped it up. Happily we’ve had nothing but rain and gales for months, so nobody was stupid enough to buy a naked bike. Except me.

I was in a rush, so once the pushy noob had bought my bike I arranged to go and view/ buy it as soon as possible. I usually start at ungodly o’clock on a Saturday, with an early-ish finish,usually, so I said I’d go down late in the afternoon.

That meant on Saturday I got up a 03.50 hours, went to work, home for 14.00, on the train for 15.30, arrive at 18.10. Then view and get home. Long day.

On the bright side, the train picked up in Warrington, next stop London. So that was good. Then I had to negotiate the tube, easy as it turns out, but worrisome beforehand. Another train and I was in St Albans right on time.

The guy seemed genuine enough and a nice bloke. And he picked me up from the station. As everyone does in these situations, apart from the rip-off copper who sold me the broken bike. Should have known.


The bike has an alarm, starts on the button, sounds lovely and is in great condition. And, surprisingly, is so small I can actually put me feet more or less flat on the floor! Usually I’m on tip toes, which is less than ideal if you’ve got slippy boots or it’s blowing a gale, but it’s just always been the case so I never thought about it.

So I bought it. I’ve not taken any pictures yet, but it does look just like in the advert.


I took a bulging sports holdall stuffed with clothes, waterproofs, and my bar mitts (they are ugly but keep your hands from freezing). I put the lot on and waddled on to the bike. It turns out, with the route I took to avoid all the roadworks, it was a 188 mile ride back.  That was bracing. And it poured down the last 50 miles. Of course it did. A good test ride for the bike though. It didn’t miss a beat. The guy who sold it to me said “good luck riding that far” saying it would kill my arse. I don’t know if it was all the layers, but I thought it was quite comfy. After 120 miles I started getting wriggly, but nothing extreme. I’ve had bikes (2 spring to mind) that after 70 miles you were stood on the pedals because you couldn’t bear any more. The wind smashing into you is a bit of a pain, but that was the plan. And it does slow you down.

I’m still getting used to it, and it’s been nothing but rain and gales for forever now, but it seems a hoot of a bike. On Sunday, coming home from work, I had a VW Golf right on my back wheel. I shot off from the lights to teach him a lesson in humility, (it’s what I do, you’re welcome car drivers) and the front end came up. Just on the throttle. Which is to say I wasn’t forcing a wheelie by throwing the clutch out, it was already out, but as I accelerated the bike began to lift. They said it is a “hooligan bike” but I thought I’d at least have to try. The front end has remained planted since, but that’s something new and exciting.

I had the bike nearly 24 hours before I started on maintenance. It’s a bit stiff to back up, and the back brake disc and one front disc were getting warm, so I took the brake callipers off and cleaned the pistons. They were lovely. Slightest bit of muck on them. I cleaned them anyway and greased them. The discs are cool now, but the bike still feels a bit stiff to push. Not sure what that means.

Tomorrow I’m going to make it a lot prettier by fitting a tail tidy. It’s a custom number plate holder. I’ve been told it’s the law that the back tyre cannot be the furthest thing on the back of a bike. If you look at the picture the number plate is held out on an ugly arm to be behind the wheel. The tail tidy puts the ‘plate right underneath the rear light.

(I’ll take pictures tomorrow to better demonstrate.)

Then, after making it too pretty to bear, I’m going to ugly-fy it with a top box. That way I can stash my lid at work and don’t have to keep knocking on the door of security to stash and retrieve it. Top boxes are really practical, but really, really ugly. And in no way keeping with the look of the bike. Sorry, Striple.

So that’s where I am. I’ve finished obsessing. I’ve got my bike. It seems to be all as advertised and lovely. And it does exactly what I wanted of it. It goes like stink, handles well (I think, the riding position takes some getting used to and it’s not been dry yet) and there is no chance of you accidentally slipping into automatic ban (100mph) territory by accident. And if you get there, you certainly don’t want to hold that speed.

Oh, I forgot to say. Wendy was going on about my ‘forever bike’ dream. “You always say this, then a few months later you don’t like it and want something else. It’s never ending!”

I finally got home from the 188 mile ride back at 22.30 ish, after a very long day. When I got back Wendy said  “What do you think of it?”

I replied “Nah, it’s not for me, that.”




My VFR750 hasn’t sold. I had 34 people watching it on eBay, but no-one pressed ‘buy it now’.

I’ve got options. Some guy is coming to look at it tomorrow. I’ve had offers for less than my asking price. Or I could just wait until the temperature is warm enough to lure the Fair Weather’s out of their Volvos, and try again.




The guy came around to view and was just nit picking trying to get me to give it away. I was in the middle of a frustrating job on the Triumph so I was utterly uninterested. Buy it or go away. He’s gone “to think about it”. Think about putting your hand in your pocket, mate.

I fitted the tail tidy. It was a bit of an ordeal, as the instructions were at best partial. And I had to improvise, adapt and overcome. I ended up having to saw some off the old plastics to make the new one fit.

I got there in the end and it looks loads better.


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The number plate is a bit off kilter, but I can adjust that.

Once that job was done I set to fitting the top box.


Once again the universe proves arbitrary yet vindictive.

The frame for the top box runs inside the exhaust pipes then flattens off just above the seat height. Which means, because I bought the cheap design of tail tidy, it won’t fit.


The frame wants to come up just about where the arrow is.  I thought about taking an angle grinder to my brand new tail tidy, but as I’d have to strip everything off again to do that, thought I’d better do some research first.

I was in the middle of trying half a dozen adaptations and workarounds when the guy came to view the bike.

I went to look for bikes that had a top box and a tail tidy. I found they’d relisted the ugly, but local, bike I was going to get.

tidy box

Indicators coming out of the side of the light. I tracked that down.

tail tidy 2

So, I’m going to have to buy the dearer tail tidy, that gives the top box frame room to pass.


Then sell mine on eBay.

Then I braved the freezing cold and hail showers to wash the road salt off.

Looking good.

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Apart from the pug ugly bar handmuff things. I’ll be so glad when it warms up so I can take them off.

The back brake was a bit sticky so I’ve stripped and cleaned that again. The anti chatter spring was fouling the piston, so I’ve ordered a new one. Hopefully that will be the end of that.

So, that’s where I’m up to on my latest obsession.


I’ve learnt some valuable lessons in the last week.

For a start, my plans are useless in the face of reality. I had planned to sell the Honda VFR750 and part-exchange my Triumph Sprint for a Triumph Street Triple (Striple) at a bike shop. I thought they’d be able to give me a good price for mine as they’d already inflated the price of the Striple. Ha! They offered me £1,700 for my bike. Not even.

So, change of plan, sell both bikes privately and buy a Striple.

I tarted them up, got them listed, thinking one would sell then, buy the Striple, sell the other.

Suddenly I had two people interested in the bikes. Typical, but I could always push-bike for a few days.

A guy came around to see my Triumph while I was at work. I left it chained to the house and left the key with Wendy so he could start it up and see there was nothing wrong with it.

Apparently he did. Then stopped it. Then started it again. After a few goes it wouldn’t start again. I  got home to a dead bike. I thought he’d drained the battery, my initial google said that it’s a big ol’ engine and it drains batteries. Fair enough, I ordered a new battery, while I put the current one on charge. The next day it still wouldn’t run. And it was making a horrible noise. Like something was rattling around in the engine.

I did a lot more google research and found the early 1050cc engines were known to have a flaw, this disc that only allows the starter motor assembly to spin one way. Called the sprag clutch. I found a video of a 1050 with sprag clutch issues and it was the exact sound. The guy who sold it to me knew the sprag was going and sold it on quick. I’d never even heard of a sprag clutch so he got me good.

I had to tell the guy who wanted it that it wasn’t for sale, then text the guy who wanted the Honda and tell him the same as I needed it for work.

I found a video on replacing the sprag clutch, which helpfully listed the parts you’d need and their numbers so I could order them off the Triumph site.

£385 for the parts.

£16 for a workshop manual.

£40 for a battery.

Oh yes, the pain keeps coming.

Today was my day off so I thought I’d strip the bike down. Then I got an email saying my battery and bits were arriving today. Bonus.

It was fiddly getting the fairing off, and a royal pain trying to prize the engine covers off without using any force, but the job itself was suspiciously straight forward.


Stripped it down to there, and didn’t need to go any further.

As the guy on the video said, Triumph have never stated that the replacement is and upgrade, or recalled and refitted what they knew was a faulty part, but look at how beefed up the “not upgraded” part is:

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I should have taken a picture from the other side. There are roller bearings lining the sprag clutches. Presumably it’s for that you are paying the extortionate fee.

Anyway, I was ripped off by Triumph and the guy who sold me the bike, but we are where we are. The job had to be done. The good news is it all went back together and started first time.

This was me starting it up, very nervously:

I turned it off and on a few times to test it, no horrible noise, all working fine.


While I was freezing my arse off and filthy anyway, I had a look at the Honda as well. One of the pipes was cool on tickover. I’d stripped and cleaned, then changed, the slow jets about 3 times. Awful job, you have to strip loads off just to get at the carbs. Today I checked the plugs. Which made no sense, but I thought I’d rule it out. I put new spark plugs in, fired it up and the other pipe was cold. Huh? I screwed the HT leads more firmly into the the spark plug caps, and… Bob’s your uncle. Hot pipes. The amount of work I did on the carbs… Ah well. Working now.

So I’ve relisted the bikes tonight.


I have seen the bike I want. I was getting my head turned by the newer models with ABS. And the upgraded suspension and brakes of the R models. But you start adding thousands of pounds to the price. And the thing is these are naked bikes. The engine is going to take a battering from salt and grit over winter. They won’t stay pristine for long if you use them. And with my riding skills, am I really going to benefit from fancy pants suspension and sharper brakes?

I took a step back from licking the window of the latest and dearest Striples and looked for a “cheap” one I can still enjoy.

Look at this:

Striple 1


2009, 16K miles, I’ve been through all it’s MOTs online, it’s never failed one, and only had two advisories on one of them a few years ago. The current owner has had it for 3 years, doing 2K a year!  It’s had the valves done (a big and expensive job) and has an alarm fitted.

And the 675 Striples don’t have the sprag clutch issue.

The only downside is it’s not red. It’s already been proven that red ones are faster. Basic science.

It’s 173 miles away. Obviously. They are never local. It’s the law. And Wendy can’t drive me. Again.

I’m thinking of trading her in for a car with a tow hook and bike trailer.

If someone would just buy mine before this one sells it would be happy days.


In other, non obsessing-over-Triumphs news, I’ve taken a week off running to try and rest the tendons on the top of my foot. They are a lot better but the still won’t heal. I can tell as soon as I start moving they are going to flare up again.

There. 3 non-bike sentences. Variety is the spice of blogs.



Zen And The Art Of Lorry Driving.

There is a book called Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance. It’s supposed to be expressing spiritual enlightenment through observation of ordinary life with a motorbike. It’s twee, home spun, anecdotal, badly written rubbish.

So, a perfect template for this blog.

It’s just I’ve been trying to make small, but fundamental, changes to my driving attitude. Which has made me reflect on what is wrong in the first place.

The mistakes:

Do not try and impose your will on the universe.

Accept the situation as it is, do not say “should/ shouldn’t”. They should be doing 50mph/ indicate, they shouldn’t get in front of me then brake…

We probably all know someone who spends their life perpetually angry and/or upset because the arbitrary rules they impose on life aren’t respected by people or events. This is bad.



It’s not about me. Remove self from the equation.  When someone dives into the minimum safe gap you’ve left to the vehicle in front, don’t take it as an insult. Don’t risk crashing thinking “you’re not pushing in in front of ME.”

If you remove self, it’s not a personal challenge or a slight, it’s just the gap has been decreased so you need to roll off the throttle for a few seconds until it opens again. Over the course of a whole day it’s unlikely you’re going to lose more than a minute or two but everyone gets home alive and keeps their job. Also, if you accept, and expect, people pushing in you don’t get yourself into a state about it.

You can either spend the whole day angry and tense or relaxed.

The external situation remains virtually the same, but you can choose how you react to it. Instead of being a victim of external forces you are a passive observer of them. Taking control of the situation by not trying to take control.


It’s a work in progress, but it’s definitely the way to go.

Of course none of this applies to motorbikes. I swear, I didn’t even know what road rage was until I got a car licence. On a bike slow traffic is just a mobile chicane. Traffic jams are a stationary chicane. No-one cuts me up or holds me up. They may try to kill me with oblivious U turns in front of me, or pulling out without looking, or changing lanes as I’m overtaking, but that doesn’t give me rage, just wakes me up.

You see what you’ve done now? You’ve got me on to motorbikes.

After my initial reservations, I now concede the Triumph is the better bike. ABS brakes, bigger engine, and now I’m getting used to the gearbox, oodles of ‘go’ on tap. I think I was shifting up too quickly. It has a huge spread of speed for each gear. If you want to accelerate, on the slip road joining the motorway for instance, leave it in each gear longer and it will fly. And although I’ve only had it a few days, it has out-cornered my lovely VFR. I set a new PB through a really tight turn and my foot touched down (still on the footpeg). That pretty impressive. Not for my lack lustre riding skills, but that it could instil that much confidence in the grip and handling in such a short time.

When I rode it home I was thinking I was going to have to spend another £260 on a set of tyres. Nope. These will do just fine.

The Triumph is just better.

My reservation now is that it’s too good. There’s too much top end. It’s good for 160mph, but anything over 100 is an automatic ban. 

I was messing with the VFR today. One jet is still blocked, I’ve ordered a new jet. I’ve got to spend a day stripping it down again, but at least then I know it’s in perfect working order. My thinking at the moment is to sell the VFR when I’ve sorted it.

I spent a few hours cleaning the road muck and accumulated cleggy oil of it (from the chain) with a rag and a toothbrush. Then gave it a good wash and polish.

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Looking too nice to sell.

But the Triumph looks pretty too.

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Hmm, looking at them together I see the similarities. Red, (obvs) single sided swing arm, high level exhaust.

Anyway, my vague plan is sell the VFR, then, later on, trade the Triumph Sprint ST for a Triumph Street Triple. It’s a 675cc, naked (no fairing) triple instead of the 1050cc, faired, triple.

That way it’s a lot less top end and you feel every mph because you are being blasted by the wind with no protection from the fairing. That should totally slow me down. It’s a Triumph triple and it handles just as well, so I can still have all the fun, just without the licence shredding top end. This one hits the ton with two gears left. Allegedly.

Amazingly impressed with Triumph though. Who knew?