Monday, August 10, 2009

Why I hate motorcycles right about now

This does not concern motorcycles with a capital ‘M,’ but specifically the two-and-a-half lower-case motorcycles of which I am currently the curator/custodian/occasional rider.

About four months ago, I was adjusting the left-side rear view mirror en route when it decided to part ways with its stem and come off in my hand; I was able to secure it by jamming it in a jacket pocket until I reached my destination, and later reattached it with gobs of epoxy and a significant amount of electrical tape. Eventually I discovered the tape was the only thing keeping it on; a hard little lump of epoxy was rattling around inside the housing, just goin' along for the ride.

This was about the same time as the last really cold morning of spring, when I discovered that the switch for my electric jacket had failed, about 5 miles into very chilly 25-mile ride.

Shortly thereafter, I noticed the tiny little drip beneath the front end, and discovered a failed fork seal. On a telelever suspension—IIRC—one fork legs provides compression damping and the other provides rebound damping, and I don’t know off the top of my head which leg had failed, so all I know for sure is that half of the intended functionality of Beast’s front suspension is now compromised. And dirty, because of the grime that has built up on the film of fork oil.

Then this weekend, apropos of nothing, tired and slightly tipsy, I decided to move Beast onto her centerstand so I could perch on her and watch a demonstration of sabrage. For the first time in dozens, maybe hundreds of attempts to put Beast on her stand, the downhill centerstand leg punched through the floor covering into a hollow.

Beast slowly rolled over to starboard as I desperately clung to her, trying unsuccessfully to slow her descent. As she went, she took the Rockster with her; earlier that same day I had mentally noted the precarious list the Rockster had assumed, the result of a slowly deflating rear tire—but of course, trusted fate and did nothing about it at the time.

Like a proverbial domino, the Rockster went over to the right and smashed its right mirror on the workbench. Now with some assistance from the alarmed on-lookers, I righted Beast—and ripped her right hand mirror clean off, mimicking the exact same failure point of the left-hand mirror.

Furthermore, Beast settled down hard on the front right corner of the hard case, right where the plastic is already weakened and stressed from the hinge mounting points; the ABS cracked in several places, including through the hinge points.

Final score: 2 bikes, 1 working mirror, 1 busted hardcase, 1 leaking tire, 1 sheared-off reflector, Dennis 0.

Replacement cost for Beast’s mirrors? About $150 a pop, give or take. For the Rockster? About $50. Saddlebag repairs? Unknown, but probably a couple of hours of fix-it time, solvent welding the damage with acetone and melted Legos. Plugging the tire? Not a big deal. Odds are I will replace the mirrors with generic aftermarket mirrors, which according to some of the forums, will attach nicely using the existing boltholes in Beast’s fairing, cost a fraction of OEM replacements and are available pretty much anywhere.

But all this annoyingly uncalled-for stuff detracts from the simple pleasure of riding, and is money and time spent not advancing or preserving the beauty, utility or functionality of the bikes; it’s all just effort wasted to stay in the same place.

Right now, we've already had over a month of oppressively hot weather. It’s not the least bit conducive to riding the almost 50 miles to and from work. I haven’t tried on the new riding gear I got many weeks ago; I have not looked through the new scratch-free visor I installed on my helmet around the same time, and generally speaking, I’m just not feeling the love.

I know that for the next while, every time I walk out to the shed, I’m just gonna see the shattered mirror, and the empty mirror stalks, and the cracked hardcase, and the leaking fork seal, and I’m gonna remember not that long ago when Beast was new and bright and clean and shiny and crisp, and it’s gonna make me sad and just a little bit angry at myself. Both bikes stand in silent mockery—a pantomime of my own slow aging and creeping decrepitude.

Let’s hope the weather breaks soon.


Madeline said...

i hope the weather breaks, too. it makes me sad that you're down about bikes at the moment. :(

everyman1 said...

FWIW, the leaking fork seal is only a problem if the fluid gets on the brake pads or discs. The forks handle no suspension duties, the oil is only there to lubricate the forks, which is why they take such a volume of oil (nearly half a quart). Although, you can fail inspection for it.