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              honda xbr500

The key conundrum

by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, Feb 2021

Pondering the rampant friskyness of motorcycle keys

To misquote the classic play The Importance of Being Ernest, to lose one key is a misfortune, to lose two suggests willful negligence. Despite all her good qualities, partner Ms M senior is now being viewed with deep suspicion at Chateau Guido.

Why? She lost a key. No big deal if it’s a house key when there’s another hidden under the rock beside the letterbox. Nope. It was out of a motorcycle. While it was being ridden. In the middle of sodding nowhere. And it’s not the first time.

Let me tell you about the first time. It was over a decade ago, and we were riding back from Mount Hope in New South Wales. Having (again) survived the snotty dirt road with its patches of bulldust, we pulled into the nearest oasis for much-needed fuel. That’s when we discovered the key to Ms M’s Honda had jumped ship somewhere along the corrugations. Bugger.

We could leave the bike ignition switched on, but there was the small matter of putting fuel in it, with the fuel cap firmly locked in place. We tried every other key in a 1km radius, without luck.

So there I was, in 40-degree heat, with all my so-called mates standing back at a safe distance, while I chiseled away at the lock with a mallet and screwdriver. Though not usually religious, I was saying little prayers to the god of sparks that this was a really bad time to visit.

Eventually, we broke in, fuelled up and headed home.

Move on to another time when we rolled up to the SR500 Club annual rally, in sunny Bethanga (Victoria). It was a lovely day. Until Ms M snr went to switch off the SRX-6 she was riding, and discovered a little technical hitch: the sodding key had gone AWOL.

Really? I mean how in frog-marching sodding heaven does one lose a key out of a running motorcycle – twice? Again, there was no problem starting the bike, as we could simply leave it switched on and, in this case, it doesn’t require a battery. But again there was the small issue of fuel.

You know what makes it worse? I’ve slowly been ditching some aftermarket bits off the bike and taking it back to original. The night before the ride, I swapped over the alloy screw-cap fuel filler for the original locking item…yep, just call me Custer.

Our downhill run continued unabated. M mentioned her predicament to a few people, and one of the nice folk from the club handed over a key that someone else had lost. Well intended, but a bad idea.

Now instead of trying the key in the fuel cap (it didn’t work) and leaving it there, she also tried it in the ignition, which had been left switched on. So she discovered the key worked but landed us in a new dilemma: because this key did what keys are supposed to do (which is stay in the bloody slot!), we could either have it switched off and give the key back, or on and never return it to the rightful owner.

In the end, I managed to switch on the ignition and, while no-one was looking, shake the key hard enough so the bike fell off it. Ms M then took it back.

Since communication is not the SR500 Club’s best feature, the word got around (when the rightful owner started looking for his key) that M and I had taken it and ridden off into the sunset. Err, no, we had taken off and the key was still at the rally.

Ignorant of this, he pillioned into the nearest town to grab a trailer to take his apparently dead bike home. Understandably, he was heard muttering dark thoughts about bastard key thieves.

That’s it. Next time we go riding together I’m gonna padlock Ms M senior’s key to her bike. Of course there could be strife if I lose the key to the padlock…

(In case you were wondering, we have taken to using a simple safety strap for keys on some of the older machines.)

See more Travels with Guido here



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