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Unreliable Character

(Travels with Guido series #285, by Guy 'Guido' Allen, Jan 2021)

Is persistence in the face of adversity (or the bleeding obvious) a sign of character or stupidity?

Yours truly has been up to his elbows in old GSX-R of late and it hasn't always been a pretty sight. It's given cause to wonder just what is it we get out of the challenges of motorcycling?

The bike in question is a first model 1100, which I suspect has led a very colourful life, given it's running a later model engine and has a fair number of battle scars. They're normally reliable, but modded versions of this vintage understandably can need a little TLC to get them back into top running order.

So we've been experiencing little tantrums along the way. It's fouled its plugs, then seen off a battery, then a starter relay, in my vain attempts to fire it up, while we've patiently tracked down the assorted issues. I have at times gained some sense of satisfaction in sorting the various dramas and even analysing what bits came from which model.

It's crowning glory was a few weeks ago, when I took it for a shake-down as part of my regular commute to the salt mine. Now here's a lesson: you should never mix business and pleasure. If it's a shake-down run, let it wait till the weekend and have a back-up plan for getting you and the little monster home again. If it's work, why not take that nice reliable Blackbird that's sitting less than a metre away in the shed?

I had some reservations about how Ghengis the Gixxer was running, but we made it to the factory door okay. For the evening session, the heavens opened up and the world turned cold and dark - welcome to winter in Melbourne.

Of course I didn't have any wet weather gear (it's over-rated and probably leaks anyway, in my view), so we were up for an interesting ride.

Hit the starter...'click'. Err, I was rather hoping for some whirring sounds and then some very angry noises. Try again..'click', 'click'. My verbal tirade involved sex and travel as recurrent themes expressed in terms best not heard by anyone with even the most rudimentary grasp of English.

Great. Now we're faced with either making all sorts of complex arrangements to get it home, which will take hours, or getting it going the hard way. Have you ever bump-started a dead cold GSX-R1100 with dodgy jetting, in the rain? Here's my advice: don't.

Never accuse motorcycles of not having a sense of humour. In this case, the little bastard waited until I'd done enough runs to turn purple, and was fully prepared to give it a Viking funeral in the nearest gutter, before bursting into life. I swear I could hear the sodding thing chuckling.

Of course it hadn't quite finished with me, yet. Thanks to the lousy jetting, it was running rougher the longer we rode, and kept threatening to flame out every time I let the revs drop, which meant more often than not I was sitting at an intersection, with the Micron pipe howling, getting soaked and praying the nice police officer rolling past didn't take an interest in us before the lights changed.

Just to add insult to injury, it finally flamed out for good as we rolled into the driveway. That way Muggins would have to push it in the last 20 metres. Call it a 'stuff you' gesture for having the temerity to take it out in the rain when it would have been far happier sitting in a nice warm and dry shed.

I've since sorted out all the dramas and we're friends again – sort of. Though we still eye each other warily as I walk past it in the shed.

The funny thing is, in a quiet moment I'll admit to quite enjoying the whole episurd with this bike, and overcoming the challenges involved. Though there's still that nagging doubt in the back of the mind – is that a sign a character or stupidity?

See more Travels with Guido here

See our Suzuki GSX-R1100 profile here

See the Classic Two Wheels 1987 GSX-R1100 vs FZR1000 test


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