Month: 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.

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:


What it looks like now


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.



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.



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.


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


I amused myself, at least.

Something that’s been making me laugh is Bookcase Credibility


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


Which leads me on to politics, home



And abroad





But there was plenty of whimsy.

Historical whimsy:


IMG-20190908-WA0001 (2)

IMG-20190908-WA0001 (3)


IMG-20190908-WA0003 (2)

Motivational whimsy




Some wit from Forest Fr1ends




Avian whimsy




And the rest




2 months


7 months





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



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.


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.



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!