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Honda CBX550F2

Is God a practical joker?

(Travels with Guido series #301, by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, Mar 2021)

On weird coincidences...

Suzuki SV650

It all started with a worrying thump, as many good motorcycle stories do. Or was that detective stories? No matter, it was either a thump or sometimes a clack.

Ms M Snr was riding away on her 2005 Suzuki SV650 – the daily transport of delight – and you could hear this god-awful noise just as she cruised over a bump. Not to worry, maybe she had a bag of spanners in the topbox. Why? Buggered if I know – I was busy. (There goes the husband of the year award, again.)

Then I heard it a few days later. She was either hatching the spanners in her topbox, or there might be another more rational explanation. Days or weeks down the track (see award commentary above) I remembered to investigate. It was time to give the SV a general health check and tension the chain.

With the monster propped up on jack stands, I could finally grab the rear axle and give the swingarm a quick vertical jerk or two. Definitely a clunk and definitely wrong. In fact, the whole damned bike must have been handling like a bag of you-know-what.

A little more investigation and the top mount of the monoshock proved to be loose. With the bolt retensioned, there is still a hint of movement, but acceptable on something that’s not trying to break lap records. (Okay, flag the bushes for a refresh.) The noise and 99 per cent of the loose action were gone. It’s no big drama and one of those things you might expect to come across once every blue moon.

Nevertheless, in all these years, across dozens of bikes, this was the first time I’d had to worry about a monoshock mount unwinding itself.

Well, until I pulled out her other motorcycle at the time, the much-loved 1982 Honda CBX550 F2 – her previous daily transport of delight and by then semi-retired. We had this since a little before Moses played fullback for Jerusalem. Or so it seemed.

We were preparing it and the Janettemobile (the 1979 BMW R65) for a couple of visitors to that year’s WIMA (Women’s International Motorcycle Association) world rally, in sunny Vic. And there was this odd action/sound happening on the rear end. So, prop it up on jack stands, do the swingarm jerk thing and sure enough, ‘clack, clack’. Really?

Closer inspection revealed it had actually broken the upper monoshock mount bolt. Again, we’ve never managed this before, on anything we’ve ever owned. What in hell is the woman doing to these bikes? Does she have a secret life as a stunt rider? And, if so, I can think of scads of models that would do the job better.

Ms M, when I mentioned this weird phenomenon of similar troubles on two wildly different machines, started with the inevitable confused reasoning: “But, but, I just ride them – what am I doing wrong? It can’t be me, can it?”

Tempting though it was to wind her up with some made-up theory, I had to go for the only rational explanation: which is there really is a motorcycle god and she decided to mess with your head that week.

For heaven’s sake. Ms M weighs less than the largest cat in our little domestic fleet (don’t ask, but you can rule out weight-related stress), rides as though the police has her under 24-hour surveillance (so forget the stunt theory) and I’m pretty sure you can rule out sabotage by either international terror groups or the CIA. Madame has been known to experiment with bread-making recipes, but I don’t think that gets you on the underground international political radar.

Remember, we’re talking of near-identical issues, on two separate bikes owned by the same person in the same month. And we’ve had nothing like this happen on any of the dozens of other machines we’ve owned across the decades. So I’m sticking with the practical-joke-by-the-motorcycle-god theory. Unless you have a better idea…

See more Travels with Guido


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