Category: Uncategorized

More of the same.

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

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

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

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

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

That’s it.

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

 

The only other thing is bikes. Glorious bikes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Later,

Buck.

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

Here are some snaps.

 

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View from the top.

I’ve made it.

Full time gig, ideal bike, money pouring in.

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Hmmm.

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

Later,

Buck.

Veefer Victory!

The Honda VFR is sometimes called a Veefer.

I’ll get my coat.

Trial and tribulations, I’ve bloody had them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right. Getting shit sorted, me.

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

Oh dear.

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

For the VFR800 they introduced linked braking.

Oh dear, oh dear.

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

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bought the arms. £70+.

The base plate didn’t fit those arms.

Bought the specific base plate., £30.

You guessed it.

The box didn’t fit on that base plate.

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

Just to stash my lid.

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

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

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

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

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

Later,

Buck.