Category: Uncategorized

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.

IMG_0636

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

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  • 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.

    TL1000S

    I know, another boring bike entry.

    I want to share the joy and terror that is my new beast.

    IMG-20170520-WA0000(1)

    I’ve de-badged it since that picture. Took off all the stupid ‘Relentless’ stickers and such. It looked like a boy racer’s Subaru. Seems you heat them with a hair dryer which melts the glue and they peel off, then use GooGone to wipe away the residual glue. Gawd bless the internet.

    There is still a problem with tickover. I’ve tracked down and joined a TL owner’s group, TLWorld, and found it’s usually down to to the Throttle Position Sensor (TPS) needing adjustment and the the air mixture in the cylinders need balancing. Something about throttle bodies, I think. The TPS thing is what it says, something that senses where the throttle is and tells the computer to throw petrol at the engine.

    It doesn’t look too big a job, but you have to strip all the fairing off. If I’m doing that I may as well service it as well, so I’ve got plugs, oil filter, air filter, and all the gaskets to the exhaust (which is still too loud, I’ve ordered some –second hand- genuine Suzuki TL1000s end cans as a last ditch attempt to quiet it down).

    I’ll service it, replace the exhaust gaskets, fit the standard end cans, adjust the tickover, set the TPS and balance the throttle bodies (or whatever that bit is called.)

    If it’s still cutting out then I’m taking it to the professionals.

    It’s a hazard to shipping at the moment. I was sat between the cars at the lights, revving up a massively loud bike like a boy racer just to keep it from dying, then I let the clutch out and it stalled. In my embarrassment I hit the starter, grabbed a hand full of revs and dumped the clutch, all in one motion. Wheelied away between the traffic. So not good.

    Another bracing moment was heading over Kingsway bridge. I shot up behind a car, which then put it’s indicator on and braked towards the pavement. Whatever. I swerved past it, accelerating. Police car in the middle of the road heading straight for me! Oops. Hit the brakes and the back end swung right out. The brakes are fierce! In a split second it slewed so far round I thought I was getting spat off. I lifted and straightened up just before, but my arse gave an almighty twitch, I can tell you.

     

    As I say, I’ve joined TLWorld. It’s the first owner’s group I’ve seen that host a list of “Fallen Members.”

    Pretty sure my last Japanese sports machine club, the Micra owner’s group, didn’t have a list of the glorious dead.

    I’m going to leave instructions so I can be added should my luck run out.

    It is such a beast. With the low speed problem at the moment, especially, she’s just screaming “MORE! MORE! RIDE ME, YOU PUSSY!”  the whole time. It’s a six speed box, easily reaches 70mph in 3rd. You can hit a comfortable 140mph and then change up a gear.

    Allegedly. So I’ve read. On the Autobahn.

    In unrelated news I also want an unmarked plod detector. I’ve just looked at the system. It works by detecting police radios which apparently beep every 3 seconds to make sure they are connected to network. Without decoding the signal, which would be illegal, it just registers that there is one. Nearly £800, if it can be fitted to a bike (I’ve asked) but the tories have just changed the law so plebs who speed will have to pay up to 1½ times their weekly wage in a fine. The maximum penalty remains £2k, so the rich are alright. Which is a relief.

    More than the fine worry, there’s the whole ‘losing my license/job’ thing. While I was looking into it I saw that Cheshire police have started fielding unmarked plod bikes specifically for persecuting bikers. £800 is a lot of cash, but it is potentially peanuts.

    Talking of money pit motoring, Wendy has got her provisional license. I’ve added her to my car insurance. I’ve got 9 years no claim’s bonus, we’re in our 50’s, for 6 months they’ve robbed us £504.40! On top of my insurance.

    And they’ve made me take off my protected no claims thing.

    Bastards.

    I had a massive week at work last week. I got the Bank Holiday (double time, and day in lieu) my sixth shift was 12½ hrs long (time and three quarters) plus 36 hours overtime (time and a half).

    And just like that it’s disappeared.

    Still, at least it’s coming in. To rapidly go out. But better to have it going out than have nothing coming in.

    In Cornwall we were so desperately poor I was walking around with a safety pin in my fly because it was bust and we couldn’t afford a new pair. When you can’t afford a pair of jeans, you are poor.

    Right, bedtime.

    Later,

    Buck.

    Teething problems. Still.

    I forgot to say in my last post that my TL1000S has had the rear shock upgraded. That was the problem, apparently. Squirrelly back end, ECU dumping way too much power all at once, and tank slappy front end. I don’t know about the ECU but I doubt I’ll be testing the limits of the bikes performance any time soon. The front end did feel light, but if it scares me I have the steering damper. I can fit that. I saw an advert for one in Dorset, completely original. 6,000 miles on the clock, one owner for the last 20 years, original rear shock, mad ECU, no steering damper. I was tempted by the 6k, one owner, but thought it wouldn’t be worth buying a barely used bike if I was going to put it into a ditch before I got it home.

    So, my TL is quite the responsible choice. Go me!

    Once I’ve sorted the niggles. The new, “road legal” exhaust silencers arrived today. Yay for quickness and relative cheapness! I got them out of the box, looked down them, can see clean through. It’s just a pipe running down the middle with a slight bend at the end. They are slightly less deafening than the ones I want to replace. Super.

    I was having some major issues with that. I emailed the seller to see if they do any additional, actual working, baffles to kill the noise. While I was waiting I was back on ebay. My only other option seemed to be second hand original silencers. If that was still too loud, sell the bike.

    The seller got back to me. He’s said if I send him the baffles (baffles! My arse! It’s a slightly bent pipe that fits in the end of the can) he’ll modify them to quieten the pipes. For free. Really nice of him. I’m sending them off tomorrow, it’s worth a shot. God, I really hope that works. I need a bike I can ride.

    If not, second hand end cans, then …

    Also the number plate light is out. It’s not the bulb (LED’s) so I’m going to try to track down the fuse box (really well hidden), failing that, off to the mechanic. I panic in the face of electrical problems.

    If I can sort the noise and the electrical problem, put a jubilee clip on the air intake manifolds to stop them slipping off, and swap my mirrors when the new ones come, I’ve got a shit hot bike.

    Also I want to spend some time stripping of all the cheap “racing” stickers from the bike. But that’s just cosmetic.

    I can’t wait for it to be fully sorted. It’s an awesome bike to ride.

    I think as soon as the TL is 100% I’ll be selling the Honda CB750. It’s a sterling workhorse, but I can’t see me ever walking past the Widow-Maker to ride it.

    Right, just had to vent.

    Later,

    Buck.