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In Search of Bliss

suzuki gsx1100

(Travels with Guido series #266, by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, December 2020)

sunbeam s7

When they break faster than you can fix them

They were gaining on me, and it was not a good feeling. I had recently sold a bunch of motorcycles to pay for a second Indian, a 1947 model. Even though we had cut back the total numbers of the fleet from 18-ish to more like a baker’s dozen (that didn’t last…), the little bastards seemed determined to swamp me in mechanical issues.

Actually one of the bikes I sold was in pieces, so that was one less rebuild to cope with. That left me with Winston, the sodding 1947 Sunbeam (and no, I don’t have a 1947 fetish – honest), which was stubbornly refusing to allow me to remove the final component I needed from the old (trashed) engine so I could start reassembling the ‘new’ one. We bought a blowtorch to assist in the process, which prompted spouse Ms M senior to check the house insurance. (‘First Sunbeam in orbit’ has a certain ring to it, don’t you think?)

ducati 916

Then Nina the 916 spat a timing sensor – no big deal, just buy a new one and replace it. To prove it was no big deal, the normally bulletproof Rocinante, my Daytona 1200, did exactly the same thing, the same week. Really? So that’s how we play it– I was to be solely responsible for the future income of the ignition sensor industry.

Triumph Daytona 1200

Just as we got those little dramas fixed, Grendel the GSX1100 decided that it was going to redevelop the mystery alternator issue where the thing squealed like a banshee that’s ingested a life-time supply of helium. This one was an absolute lulu. I have no idea what’s causing it, the normally sane and far more capable folk at at my nearest workshop have only the vaguest theories, meanwhile the bike was spending more time on workbenches than on the road.

suzuki sidecar

I had almost got on top of the hassles with Dr Gange (the GS1000G sidecar outfit), though the carburetor membranes were now begging for replacment.

The CB250 was doing this thing where you got a haze of petrol vapour around it, even though there’s no sign of a fuel leak. I was scared to park it anywhere near the house or shed in case someone gets an urge to light a match.

Oh, and by the way, Sam the Daytona Super III has decided to run on just two pots, presumably because one of the ignition coils has gone to lunch. No big deal, we’ll just add it to the list.

suzuki hayabusa

Hannibal the Hayabusa was meanwhile trouble-free, except for the occasional refusal to start, if it had been left sitting for a while. It’s a first-gen bike and the stock lead-acid battery really wasn’t up to the job, particularly now it was running a ‘hot’ engine with higher than standard compression. I got my hands on one of those new lightweight lithium batteries, which had a reputation for being much more robust, so then it was just a matter of finding the time to sling it in there.

Yamaha SRX600

So there I was, riding the Yamaha SRX600 single home from work. I was quietly pondering how all these motorcycles conspire to ensure muggins spends more time with a toolbox than a road map and how life would be simpler if I just owned one motorcycle.

In fact, to take that argument to its logical end point, life would be pure bliss if that one motorcycle had only one cylinder, just like this. Think about the fortune that would be saved in accommodation (I could cancel the plans for building a second shed), fuel (it sips the stuff at a very moderate pace), speeding fines (it’s only got 45 horses, officer) and mechanical repairs (hell, there’s bugger-all in there to break). Life would be bliss.

Then it spat its head gasket. So we ended up limping home on half a cylinder.

Anyone out there got a horse they want to sell?


More Travels with Guido columns here


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