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.