So i came home, locked the bike up, made a coffee, played guitar for a little while and then put the racing on. I don’t know whether it is the comforting sound of engines or the sound of the voices but very sleepy. To far gone to get off the sofa. Attempt snooze, can’t, too quiet. Thumb remote until there is prog metal playing, Dream Theatre to be precise. Out like a light. Now it’s 2am, I’m hungry, mobile and can’t sleep. Frozen lasagne and racing it is.
I’m in the bath. I won’t burn your minds with a photo of my hairy body covered in tesco value bubbles, you’ll just have to use your imagination. This is a rarity. I think i clean a piece of bike or riding kit in here more often than i clean myself. It’s not a problem if I leave a fender or my boots in the bath. I’m a bit boned if i can’t get myself out.
Of course it makes perfect sense to get in the bath after a longer journey as the warm water stops things hurting. I had a busy weekend on the bike, Monday and Tuesday mostly disappeared and this is late on Wednesday.
My bath is not even particularly difficult to get out of. In addition to the little and pointless handles built in to the side, there are some nice big rails i had put in. Still doesn’t stop me being a smelly biker though.
The venerable twin was doing well. I had been racking up the miles having moved out of the city into a small town in the sticks. I’d been changing the oil every 2000 miles. Fresh filter every time. No surprises in there. Using Motul 5000 or 5100 as it is a reasonably good quality semi-synthetic at a price i didn’t mind paying for frequent oil changes. I think i’d changed the oil about 1000 miles previously.
I was on my way back from the dentist, which is in a village on the other side of the city. There is a dual carriageway that is mostly traffic lights. I accelerate away from the lights, into second, accelerate up to 40 (that being the speed limit) change up into 3rd and then there’s a loud clonk and and the back and starts to snake like i jumped on the back brake. I pull clutch in and the bike stops snaking. It’s also not running. I thumb the starter. Clonk! Not good. I throw a left indicator on and let the bike coast.
There are railings along both sides of the road so i can’t pull up safely. I toe the gear lever around until i have neutral. The bike comes to a halt just before a big roundabout that i dont like. I hop off and push the bike off the left exit. More railings each side, single carriageway and now an imparient bus behind me. I finally take refuge in the corner of a bus stop.
I call my local bike shop. They advise me that it’s at least a dropped valve if not a completely lunched engine, but bring it in and they will have a look. I call the RAC, describe problem. They have a patrol out quickly. Apparently their phone monkey understood the symptoms to be a flat battery. Facepalm. Patrolman summons a recovery truck for me. I have much fun with optional RAC survey asking patrolman to check the oil on my bike. He can’t find the dipstick. There isn’t one. I explain the procedure.
There’s a little window there, hold bike upright and look at the oil level. As the bike has been stopped for a while it should be dark which means it’s safe to start the bike. Do so and bring the engine up to temperature, turn off bike and leave for 3 minutes, then check level is between the upper and lower marks next to the window.
He tries to hold bike upright and look in the window which is just in front of the left footpeg. He can’t do both so I hold the bike. He gets a flashlight out and declares the window dark, and the whole procedure insane. He asks me how i manage. I tell him i have a mirror on a stick with a light on it, and that if the window is dark there’s enough oil so long as i haven’t just done an oil filter change, which requires the second check.
The RAC man departs and the recovery contractor arrives, we drop the bike at the shop and he gives me a ride home. I get a phone call the next day. Engine is full of metal fragments as the big end bearing has failed and at the very least it’s new pistons, com rods and cranshaft as it’s a proper mess. Beyond economical repair.
I begin bike hunting. I sold the remains through a web forum. I got more than salvage value, but little more than the new exhaust i’d fitted 12 months previously had cost me. I could have made a little more parting it out on ebay, but my housing contract forbids me from keeping motorcycles indoors and i had nowhere to work outdoors.
It’s been a long time. I’m still alive and still riding. The last year or so has been mad. I’ve moved house, changed bikes, got rid of my 33bhp restriction, changed luggage, started touring 2-up, changed kit and had battles with my lack of mobility. Lots of stories to tell. I’d best write catchup.
So I posted extensively on armour and luggage, and went on a nice little tour. I did touristy things like eat ice cream and take photos in scenic places. Then on my way home, some careless individual decided to drive into the back of my bike as I was stopping for a roundabout.
Damage to the bike was cosmetic, but everywhere, everything shiny on the right hand side scraped, and the rear fender, tail light and number plate took most of the impact. It later turned into a write off, an argument over the value and my keeping the bike as salvage and putting it back on the road after some very careful checks and much replacement of broken bits at my local garage.
Damage to me? Well I killed my leather trousers and the waterproof trousers over the top of them as they received a cut from I think the edge of a jubilee clip on a fuel line. I had a matching bruise. I killed a glove on the shellgrip, but that hand was fine. Damaged the spare visor I had around my waist. Minor soft tissue damage to my back. And I sprained my left thumb. Still in physiotherapy for that, and it’s a lot better, but for such a small injury it was a major inconvenience.
My kit did its job though. If anything on my right side other than my glove hit the road I didn’t notice. The bruise on my left leg is in the gap between the top of my boot and my knee armour. Typical. But the leather that was cut didn’t go through. The damaged seam on my glove didn’t rupture. All is good and both rider and bike are riding again.
I had some Cameron Barker panniers (see header image). They’re now discontinued and they didn’t work so well on the cruiser, the mounting system probably works better on conventional tourers and adventure bikes but I’ve torn the fabric where the eyelets meet the system due to the bungees pulling at an odd angle. They were very waterproof so top marks for that.
My pannier supports met with an unfortunate incident involving my mother not listening and enthusiastically operating a powered garage door. I sought out a cheap alternative.
I tried a Held Waterproof Tail Carry Bag. The 30 litre option is plenty to supplement my 45 litre topbox. It’s really simple, a red PVC tarpaulin bag will a roll top, some compression straps and a shoulder strap for off the bike. I bought some rok straps to secure it to the pillion seat. They fit in seconds and are far more secure than standard bungees. I’ve been using it since the autumn and it’s not let me down. Really simple. Really waterproof.
My leathers are less sweaty than my textiles so I have worn them through most of this year. If it starts raining hard I need to get waterproofs on fast or it will be too late. On an overnight or longer trip I will have a lot of carefully packed luggage, and extracting waterproofs is a pain. On a recreational ride I don’t want a top box. A small tank bag is the answer. I had a little Frank Thomas one. It was terrible, determined to move about and come off. No Headstock strap and the magnets were really weak.
I bought an Oxford X4 based on BCF recommendations. The magnets are insanely strong, and on a removable board. There are Velcro straps so it can be used as a tail-pack if required. The zips have some kind of rubbery shroud so are water resistant. There’s a satnav holder, an A5 map holder that’s just big enough for my Philips Compact Atlas or directions printed on booklet mode. It has a headstock strap too. Most importantly, it stays put really well. Right now it’s carrying my waterproof overjacket, my waterproof trousers, my goretex winter gloves, visor cleaning kit, hand sanitiser, a spare buff, a pen, an tyre pressure gauge, my disk lock and (because I fail at packing) my ledergris and boot brush. My phone and wallet sometimes end up in the top section, and sometimes I use the map holder.
It stayed put during every crazy run I’ve made since I’ve had it and feels really well made. It is quite small at 4 litres, so consider a bigger one from the same range if you want something to carry everything. For the bits of tat that I want straight away, it’s perfect. Highly recommended.