Saturday, January 7, 2006

Pre-Trip 2008


Starting at the beginning (March 17, 2008)

I posted a couple of blogs already just to try this out. I think I was a little premature as I was just toying around. If I want this to be a serious blog i think I need to put a little chronology and structure to it. So let's start this over and call this the beginning...

It all started last year, August of 2007 to be exact. After a year of being with my lovely wife Izabel I finally took her up on an offer to travel to Croatia. She's been going every second year since I have known her and I have resisted. She did have an ace in the hole to get me to go... she threatened to kidnapped my daughter (Olivia) for the whole summer and I wouldn't see them until they returned. So there it was. I had no choice but to get on a plane and get over there.

You're probably asking yourself, "Why wouldn't you want to go?". It's not that I don't like to travel. It's just that Croatia was never on my A-list of places to go. Couple that with the fact that I'm a work-a-holic who doesn't like to take vacations because of control issues and you have your answer.

So I was committed, my plane tickets were booked and I had no choice. I decided to make the most of it and have a small adventure on the way. Because Izabel, Olivia, and Izabel's parents traveled to Munich where they rented a car (cheaper in Germany) and drove to Croatia. Because Izabel wanted me on the same flight home it meant that I needed to fly to Munich and make my own way down to Croatia. This is where the adventure comes in. I decided that what I would do is not make any travel plans beyond landing in Munich. I would land in Germany with luggage, passport, and a small amount of money and I would just have to rely on my instincts to get me to Jadrtovac, a village of about 200 people which doesn't appear on many maps.

Needless to say, I had the time of my life. Taking the train through Austria, over nighting in a prison converted into a hostile in Slovenia, Arriving during one of the biggest rain and lightning storms in Zagreb. My only regret that I hadn't taken longer to get there because once I arrived in my wife's village I was pretty much stuck. That being said Jadrtovac is a very nice place to be stuck and by the end of my vacation I had a tan to be jealous of. The problem? No transportation! We were pretty much at the whim of my in-laws if we wanted to go anywhere.

So that is the lead up to how I made my decision to ship a motorbike to Europe. Since I have a couple of bikes that need to be fixed and parts out my yin-yang I decided to start the adventure early and savour the whole process. I have spent my adult career solving other people's problems I figured it was about time I used my skill set to benefit myself.

Here are the problems I have to overcome:

  1. Germany is a long way away.
    1. how do I get my bike there?
    2. what route do I take to get to Croatia?
    3. what do I take with me?
  2. My transportation is less than reliable.
    1. Which bike do I fix?
    2. How much money can I spend?
    3. who's going to fix my bike?
    4. if I fix it myself, where can I do it?
I'm sure this list will grow, or at least be broken down into a few more parts but right now it's all I can deal with?

Now, with that out of the way, I can begin the whole blogging process.
If you build it they will come (March 17, 2008)

So... I guess all things being equal I will have to do the majority of the repairs myself. I have begun researching my bike a lot. The first thing I need to do before I even remove one nut from my bike is to... OK the first and second thing I need to do is to FIND MY BIKE! The second thing I need to do is to build a workspace to fix my bike.

(this is my carport on Saturday morning. Do you see a bike?

This is a closer look at my 1941 International. Yes it is all original. And yes, it does run. I use it to go to the dump and pickup gravel and dirt and the like.

I think I see a bike in there. Maybe two?

Wow! How did I let it get to this? Lets drag this sucker out a see what we're dealing with.

OK. We have a winner. This is the beast that's going to take me across Eastern Europe reliably. No really! I mean it. Trust me I have my doubts to. Now let's see what space I can make to work in.

The various stages of my Saturday spent cleaning out my carport/soon to be garage. I worked my tail off. New bench and some lights to work by. Then on Sunday I continued again.

Who's going to organize all these parts?

The final product. Sunday at 10:30 PM
(and they said it couldn't be done.)
My First Shipping Quote (March 17, 2008)

The following is an email I just received from a local freight forwarder. If this is indicative of what I can expect then My life just got so much better. According to my calculations Shipping should be in the $775 range and I have a choice of Frankfurt or Munich. Could this be right?

Read the following I have made some notes in red:

Hello Elvis,

Please see the current rate below for March 2008.

Air Freight YVR-FRA/MUC: 2.34/kg My bike is 230kg $ 538.20
(includes - FSC, SEC, NAV)
Dangerous Cargo Fee: 100/HAWB house airway bill) $ 100.00
Export Terminal Fee: 0.16/kg $36.80
Export Declaration (B13A): 45 (if needed) Don’t know what this is? 45.00
Document fee: 55/HAWB
Pick up cartage: TBA (One of those hidden charges. I won’t include it)
Insurance: TBA My bike is only worth money to me 0.00
Subtotal$ 775.00

These above estimate charges should cover you to Frankfurt or Munich
airport. For any other charges occur not included above will be charge at
cost. The airline may change the rates. Please let me know when you are
ready with the motorcycle, I will re-confirm all the rates with you again.

Transit sample:
Carrier: KLM

Usually if a shipment goes out on Monday it will connect Tuesday evening and
arrive Wednesday early a.m.
(Same for any other day.)

Let me know if you have any questions.


Speedy Air Cargo Inc. (since 1985)


This is really good news indeed. Yipee
The Road to Recovery (March 19, 2008)

When I ponder the word 'recovery' I think about 12 step programs and sponsors and "one day at a time"
I think the rehab model applies to what I have to do to get my bike into the condition it needs to be in Where do you begin such a long journey back? At the beginning? No way man! Lets start the A-Team way. Hannibal didn't do anything without a plan. How else can you sit there afterwards smugly saying, "I love it when a plan comes together". Of course I probably have more in common with Murdock than Hannibal. Lord help us!

So here's my plan (I pity the fool who gets in the way):

  1. Drain the gas tank
    1. inspect tank and recondition if necessary.
    2. clean petcock and fuel filter.
    3. remount
    4. new gas
  2. Charge battery
  3. Change Oil
    1. Change oil filter
  4. New spark plugs
    1. or clean up the old ones and regap for now.
  5. Start your engine
    1. Make new plan depending on what happens

Removing the Gas Tank. The lock on the cap is completely ruined. This will have to be replaced.
Look at my bike without the tank. What a mess the years of neglect can leave on a machine.

Here's the petcock. The fuel is flowing well through it. Good sign but let's not push our luck. Hey Look! There's actually a drain plug in the bottom of the tank. My other bike doesn't have this. It must have been added after the fact. Brass plug with Teflon tape wrapped around the threads. You really shouldn't use thread tape around fuel systems - can you say contamination? Like it would make a difference on this rust bucket.

WOW! I've heard about gas 'gelling' but I've never seen it. These little brown spots are like jellyfish swimming around a bucket of gas. Very Cool. It's times like this that I'm glad I didn't take a short cut. Imagine getting that out of your carburetors?

Well charging the battery isn't an option. It's hooped. I'll pick one up tomorrow. May as well grab some plugs at the same time. That's gonna cost me.

Burn Baby Burn! (March 20, 2008)


After the oil change was done I inserted the fresh battery. The leads had been bastardized something fierce so I took the battery connection leads off of the 750 beside it. I found some clean bolts to connect it and Voila! (or is that et voila?) Now to get it running.

I had a heck of a time putting the gas tank back on. There was a time 5 years ago when removing and reinstalling my tank was a daily occurrence. Now? Lord help me if I even know where to connect to the carburetors. Finally got it figured out now lets get 'er going.


oil drained? ---> Check
oil replaced? ---> Check
battery connected? ---> Check
petcock open? ---> Check
ignition on? ---> Check
bike in neutral? ---> Check

Touch the ignition button... the bike cranks? Hooray
Keep cranking....
Give it more gas... choke it...more choke...less choke
cranka cranka cranka

I continue this until there is no juice left to crank. Shoot. Now what?

Connect charger and go watch Survivor on the PVR.
Survivor kinda sucked all I could think about is the bike. Time to go disconnect the charger. It's midnight and I can't leave it plugged in overnight.

So I get out there and disconnect the charger, put a few things away (gotta stay organized), and drink the last bit of wine I left out there (one mouthful). Time to go in. OK...let's give it one more try. cranka cranka cranka...vrrrrrrrrrrr

we have ignition
we lost ignition

OK new lease on life. Lets continue. Play with the choke try again. It starts... Yippee (who really says yippee?). It stays started. OK don't breath. Its starting to warm up. Oh my it's starting to smoke. Quick check... oh right? I sprayed penetrating lube all over every bolt yesterday. It's just burning off. Will it run on its own? Yes. Set the idle a little higher. Sounds good. There's no response on the throttle but I can save that headache for tomorrow. It's 12:30 at night and this bike is sounding very loud in my garage.

What a great day. I can already picture myself driving down some windy mountain road in Austria.
Field of Broken Dreams (March 24, 2008)

So today I come home from work after stopping to pick up a few things to continue on my motorcycle project only to find a 12 yard pile of soil sitting on my front lawn (I use the term 'lawn' loosely as my front yard has the ability to grow rocks and that's about it!). It would seem that because my wife has had to spend the last week and a half indoors because of my daughter's misdiagnosed 'MEASLES' the she has gone completely crazy. Now it looks like I'm not going to be doing anything with my bike this Easter long weekend.


Update: This is only the first of two soil shipments. Another 16 yards will be arriving tomorrow. Time to nip this in the but and call out the big guns. I got a hold of a rental place and they are going to drop off a Bobcat tomorrow. The one thing I forgot to mention... I have never driven a Bobcat before. How hard could it be? Famous last words.

As it turns out. It's not that hard at all. I knew all those years of playing video games would pay off. Left and right sticks to turn (just like Tank Commander), left pedal up and down on buck, and right pedal tilt bucket up and down. Nothing to it. No weaponry to worry about. No enemies to track on the radar. This is a piece of cake. I should still be able to get some motorbike time in this weekend.

So after distributing to dirt around the yard, my father in law Slavko lent his Eastern European work ethic and came over and helped me level the yard using shovels and rakes. Much harder than the bobcat, but far more effective. Denis, my lazy brother in-law, decided he would be a chick and stay inside playing Guitar Hero. That didn't last too long! I totally freaked on him and his girlfriend and turned off the game mid guitar battle. It was awesome! I felt like an adult scolding his teenage son. Of course Denis is 26... you think he would know better. Anyways I put him on the Roto-Tiller and let him loose. In the end it worked out well. By day two the yard was ready to be seeded. I built some stone planters with the unlimited supply of rock I have at my place (where does it all come from?) Then I finished for the day wishing I was working on my bike.

By noon on day 3 I had the yard mostly seeded and packed down. Would have finished but I had Easter dinner at the in-laws. Gotta love the Croatians. Any religious holiday means a lamb gets slaughtered and made into yummy food.

Day 4 I was finished in an hour and then started working on cleaning the bike up. Here the front yard now.
the next job that needs to get done is widen the asphalt driveway. But that will have to wait until the lawn comes in fully. Thank God!

Now that that is finished I can return to the bike.....
The Shining (March 25, 2008)

So now that the lawn is taken care of (for the time being) I can get back to the important stuff... my bike. So now that she's running I should start working on cleaning up the bike and seeing what I have to work with. I also looked around for the paperwork for the bike and came up short. I can't find the registration anywhere. I guess ICBC (the government run insurance company for British Columbia for all my out of town readers) will be making more money off me to get my registration papers replaced - the communist dogs.


Checked my license plate. As you can tell from the photo I haven't had insurance on this bike since November of 2004. Wow!! That's a long time to be sitting around doing nothing, I'm ashamed.

I'm still leaking a lot of oil every time I take the bike for a ride up and down the hill. It seems to be dripping down from my air breather. There's a tube tat runs from my clutch up to the breather. I must be getting oil overflow from there. How much oil is in this bike? How do I get it out? I drained the oil and barely any came out. I must be missing something.

So I started cleaning and removing the rust off my bike. I feel like I'm in boot camp. My major cleaning tool has been a toothbrush and sand paper. There is so much rust on all of my chrome parts I doubt I'm going to be able to get it very clean without ruining the shine. Oh well! Can't cry over spilled milk. Anyways... I think by the time I'm through with this bike I'm going to have called in a few favors with my guys over at Redi-Strip. I was looking for chroming and powder coating last night and I came across a process called 'ceramic coating' if anyone knows much about it feel free to post a comment here. From what I have seen I could literally coat my exhaust manifold, muffler and engine with it and never have to worry about cleaning again. The finish is impervious to heat and won't 'blue up' like chrome. I'm going to start looking around and seeing who can do this locally for me. Would be much easier than having to sand down all my aluminum surfaces by hand.So I've managed to clean up half my bike. It's not perfect, actually it's not even half way there, but compared to before it looks great... At this point that's what counts. Here's a picture thus far.


Now I just need to clean up the other side. Maybe later!

In the meantime I gotta get down and grab the registration and insure the bike. It's road worthy enough to get me down to the local motorcycle repair shop. I want someone to take a serious look at my carbs (as in carburetor not carbohydrates ->though I should be watching those too). Have them balanced at a shop and see if there is any internal damage that I need to worry about before I disassemble the bike. On a plus note my tires are practically brand new!
Get your Kickson Route 66 (March 27, 2008)

Every well laid plan has a goal. My goal is a tiny little village in Croatia named Jadrtovac (try saying that one ten times quickly). Should be an easy enough goal. Get on plane, catch a taxi, and 'poof' you're there. Way too easy to make a story worth reading about. Could you imagine that blog? It would be about me packing, maybe a little blurb about buy airline tickets, and perhaps a misadventure about bad English and a taxi driver with poor hygiene.That's it... done.

So let's clarify the goal:

My goal is a tiny little village in Croatia named Jadrtovac.

Now let's make it interesting and add some hurdles to achieving this goal:
  1. I have to transform a rusted out piece of crap motorbike into something reliable enough to make a long journey.
  2. I then have to ship the bike to Europe somehow.
  3. I then must travel through at least 5 countries to get there.
OK that's a good set of guidelines to make this an interesting adventure. Especially when you add the fact that I know very little about internal combustion engines, I can barely speak English much less foreign languages, and I have a budget of $29.53 (thanks again to whomever is clicking on the ads) to get there (plane ticket not included in that). There that should make this down right impossible.

So five countries? I'm planning on flying into Frankfurt Germany and there is only two countries in between. I guess I'll have to take the long way. I was using google maps to try and put a rout together but once you get into the Eastern Bloc countries it doesn't work anymore. I got a great link from a European guy on my XJ Bikes forum it's called viaMichelin and it works great! It not only gives you directions throughout all Europe but it calculates how much gas (or as they say - petrol) will cost in many currencies and how much your road tolls will be. It even calculates the gas depending on whether you are driving a car or a motorcycle. How cool is that?

So here's a route I've been thinking about:

Frankfurt (Germany) to Prague (Czech) to Vienna (Austria) to Bratislava (Slovakia) to Budapest (Hungary) to Sarajevo (Bosnia) to Jadrtovac (Croatia)

Frankfurt to Budapest with Stops in Prague, Vienna, and Bratislava:

Frankfurt to Budapest

Time and distance
Time: 11h13 including 07h32 on motorways
Distance: 1066km including 865km on motorways
and 30km on scenic roads

Costs 115.10 USD
Toll costs: 0.00 USD
Petrol costs: 97.97 USD
Road tax cost: 17.13 USD

Then the next leg:

Budapest to Jadrtovac

Time and distance
Time: 13h41 including 01h43 on motorways
Distance: 972km including 206km on motorways
and 30km on scenic roads

Costs 121.96 USD
Toll costs: 2.76 USD
Petrol costs: 107.20 USD
Road tax cost: 12.00 USD

So all in all about 2000km with a cost of $237!!!

I would love to hear some feedback about places you would see along the way or routes you might take. Please use the add comment links anytime you want. I truly welcome the feedback.

I will keep thinking about where I want to go and what I want to see but tomorrow's blog is going to be about some of the rules to driving a motorcycle in Europe.

Until then....

Something Old, Something New... (March 30, 2008)

I was just talking to my friend Dave and I was asking him about the blog and whether he liked it or not. He said, "yeah it's good". As the phone call progressed, I could tell he hadn't read anything beyond the headlines and he had looked at a couple of pictures. Shame on you Dave! Now go and read the blog in its entirety and get back to me.

Now to today's entry.....

It looks like I have my oil leak figured out. When I do an oil change I need to drain the oil from the transmission as well. The engine oil in this bike also doubles as the lubricant for my clutch. I've read a few posting over at another forum and they mention it a few times. So one more thing out of the way. I'm going to get insurance on Tuesday and take it for a few 'fair weather' tests. I found a motorbike mechanic not too far from me and I'm going to see if he can balance my carburetors for me. I think it's asking a little too much for me to try and balance four carburetors at home. You need some special tools and I've never done it before. I'll practice on the two sets I have on my bench before I do anything too mission critical.

After I feel comfortable with the reliability of the bike I'm going to do something really dumb. I'm going to completely disassemble the bike for aesthetic purposes only. Who takes a perfectly fine 1981 XJ650 that was purchased for $400 and dumps more money into the appearance of the bike than the mechanics of it so that I can ride through Europe for a month and than just leave it there? I'm an idiot.

I called over to a local company to get a quote on ceramic coating the exhaust manifold and mufflers. The company is called Kool Coat Ceramic Coatings Ltd. and they are not too far away from me. Sean over there was quite helpful and set me straight on a few things. It will probably cost me a couple hundred bucks to have my exhaust sandblasted inside and out and ceramic coated to a satin black finish that will never discolor, improve exhaust flow, and radiate less heat (up to 500F). They also do thermal dispersant painting of engines. The only problem is they need to be baked and that would require even more disassembly. He recommended only doing the barrels and heads. I would have to remove them from the pistons and do a top end rebuild but it would look great and keep my engine cooler. Looking good and being cool are two things that I think are important in the 40 degree(Celsius) weather that I experienced last year in August.... Here's a couple of pictures of a bike done up with the ceramic coating and no chrome:

Looks pretty sweet

a closer look at the engine.

Now add these effects to a freshly powdered coated frame and new saddle and you have yourself the most beautiful Yamaha xj650 maxim in the world. Not bad for less than $1000 and a couple of months of hard labor.
Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired (April 1, 2008)

So now I find myself at home on a beautiful Tuesday morning, quarantined to a radius of about 25 feet from a toilet. It seems that after my daughter's misdiagnosed measles, her properly diagnosed tonsillitis, strep throat, fifth disease, and ear infections it was her flu that took the big man down. This has been a malady ridden spring to say the least. The moral of this story is, "Get your flu shot!". Izabel got hers and she's as healthy as a horse.

Here's a completely unnecessary picture:

why yes that is vomit on my shoulder!

Needless to say I'm having a tough go of it. During this posting I've had to get up quickly and go to the bathroom three times. So on that note I'm going to have to sign out. And to think I was going to buy insurance for the bike today. I don't think so.
Runway is Cleared for Take-off (April 2, 2008)

So the last few days of crippling sickness have not been a complete waste of time. I managed to get a little XBox time to myself and... oh yeah?


I, of course, had nothing to do with the making of the driveway. Unless you take into consideration the time it took me to earn the money to pay for it. These guys came in and within a couple of hours a brand new driveway was made. Take a look:


Now the only problem is I can't take my motorbike anywhere near this fresh asphalt with the oil leak. I don't even know how quickly my wife would take my life if I was the first person to put an oil stain on the fresh tarmac. Maybe I could make a ramp?
Sweet Sixteen... Again! (April 4, 2008)

So today is the day. After a long beautiful week of sunshine and sickness I’ve decided to go get insurance for my bike today. Now it rains. Oh Lord, why hast thou forsaken me?Ah, what the hell? A little water never killed anyone. Here’s what the weekend in Vancouver is supposed to look like:

10°C | 6°Chttp://elvisonthemove.blogspot.com/


9°C | 5°Chttp://elvisonthemove.blogspot.com/


10°C | 5°Chttp://elvisonthemove.blogspot.com/


It’s not looking so good.

On a plus note, I just checked my driver’s license and I have 20 days until my learners permit runs out. Yeah… you heard right. “Learner’s permit”. It seems that if you are out of the country for 5 years and you hadn’t been renewing your license they make you do your driving tests over. Needless to say it was enjoyable having to take my driving test over again at the age of 31. Not only was it was hard keeping both hands on the wheel, it was damn near impossible not to reach under my car seat for the icy cold beer I could feel rolling around.

So now I have to schedule a day to be sober and go drive my bike around a bunch of pylons. I’ll try to get Ben to come down and video tape the whole thing. That will make for a fun blog!
Black Gold... Texas Tea! (April 5, 2008)


I have figured out why my bike has been the two wheeled version of the Exxon Valdez. It wasn't that something needed tightening or that I needed to replace a few seals. The reason I was oiling the asphalt was because it seems I had about a gallon and a half (6 liters) of oil in my bike. In case you're wondering, my bike needs 2-1/2 liters.

Oil was coming up from the wet clutch to the air filter housing. I pulled out the air filter and it was blanked off with oil. My carburetors must be very well lubricated!

So, I add in the proper amount of oil and start her up without an air filter. After a couple of test runs up and down my hill I can feel the extra pep. Amazing what a little air can do to a combustion chamber. So I took it for a long drive and got the bike up to full operating temperature. When I parked I still wasn't confident enough to park on my fresh black top so I pulled all the way in to the carport. Typically after 5 minutes I would have a huge puddle of oil under me. Now.... (take a look)



Hopefully the weather will be a bit better this coming week. I need to take it for a few rides to work and back and get myself used to the bike again before I take my parking lot test. I think the bike is ready for some road use. Famous last words.

My friend Randy came over and took her for a ride too. I think it's time for him to get a bike. Here's a picture of him on my bike to end today's blog:


RANDY (aka 'the Silverback') FAVARO
Not Legal... Just De-Criminalized (April 9, 2008)

So it's coming down to the wire and I have yet to do my parking lot test. The weather has not been helpful at all. Not that I'm a fair weather rider. I just don't want to have to drive to work and be soggy all day. Also I don't think they will let me take the test on a bike with no insurance.
I've been a very naughty boy test driving my bike all over town without tags on it. I don't even know what the fines would be for that. It's $198 for a speeding ticket, could you imagine what it is for driving a motorcycle without insurance... or a driver's license... and drunk. I'm sure it would be steep. Definitely enough for a couple of tickets to a Policeman's Ball. Oh I forgot... policeman don't have balls!


Well I had a tough time of getting my bike legal again. You would think with modern technology and databases they would be able to just punch in a few keys and they could find the registration for my bike. It's just not that simple. It took almost an hour for them to dig up the information. Fortunately the insurance agency is also a supermarket so I just did some grocery shopping while they earned the commission on my $154 insurance policy. But in the end it all worked out.

Iron Maiden Voyage (April 14, 2008)

So my plan of a Saturday ride went down the tubes. Instead I spent the day with my wife and daughter, enjoying the 21° Celsius (70 F for my American readers) at the Steveston Quay (pronounced “key”) watching the fishing boats and having fish n’ chips and ice cream… what a great way to kill a beautiful afternoon!

I had my maiden voyage pushed off until Sunday. No biggie! The weather wasn’t quite as nice but there were pockets of sunshine. I began the day with an oil change. This was a Drastic mistake! The folks at Canadian Tire thought it would be cool if they put their two stroke oil in the same column as their 4 stroke oil for bikes with a wet clutch. So as I went to put in the last bit of oil I noticed the color of my oil was BLUE! I’m not sure what would happen if I were to run my bike on a mixture of regular oil and 2 stroke oil, but I’m really not ready to find out. So now what? I have to drain this oil out and go purchase the expensive stuff (double the price) from Lordco. Am I ever going to let them have it at Canadian Tire.


I noticed a bit of an exhaust leak from one of the header pipes. My solution for this was to swap out these pipes with my 750 Seca dual exhaust. What a difference it will make to the look of the bike. Unfortunately, the frame of the 650 Maxim will require some modification to the placement of the kickstand before I can put these pipes on. So there was a whole lot more wasted time. The nice side effect of having the pipes off was that for the first time I didn’t have to fight to take the oil drain plug out. Very nice!


Now two hours later than I had planned I finally made the decent down my new driveway and out onto the open road. Now, for those of you who have followed the story from the beginning, you’re probably asking yourself, “When did he get his motorcycle license?” The answer to that question, to quote Judas Priest, is…”Breaking the Law, Breaking the Law!” I’m a rebel. I’m a rebel, living in the suburbs, with a young family, and a mini-van. I’m a rebel living in deep cover, trying to blend in to the establishment I’m rebelling against, until my day comes. To the casual observer I am indistinguishable from “THE MAN!” Little do they know that I’m secretly and silently leading a one man grassroots conspiracy to bring “THE MAN” down. Don’t be fooled by my pro-establishment outer shell.

My ride took me out to the highway where I opened ‘er up. I forgot what it was like to feel 140km/hour winds trying to tear your grip from the handlebars, the feeling of semi-trailer dust peeling away the skin around your glasses, the sharp sting of bugs pelting up against your skin. What a GREAT FEELING! I managed to put 100 clicks on the bike and made my way home. Most of that distance was on the highway but I did put a little bit of city driving on the odometer. I rewarded myself with a half liter of beer when I got home and then did a compression test on my cylinders. Even with all the pep in the bike, I had no problem leaving traffic in the dust; I was still testing out at around 100psi compression right across the board which means time for an overhaul. A fresh engine should be around 150psi and you should rebuild your engine below 120psi. I can’t even imagine how fast and efficient this bike will be after a ring and valve job, I’m really looking forward to it. In the meantime though she seems quite reliable and I’m going to do my motorcycle skills test on her before I rip the engine out. After all the money I spent on miracle cures and oil there really is no way to beat doing things right. I’ve already started buying the necessary equipment to do the overhaul on eBay so I should be able to get this done on the cheap. We’ll see how bad things are when I rip the engine apart… I can’t wait.
That Which Does Not Kill Us Probably Really Hurts. (April 15, 2008)

Its 5am in the morning... do you know where your kids are?

Its on days like today when I need to remind my mother that her son is a fool. It's freezing cold, kinda damp, and windy. Who in their right mind would ride a bike to work when they have a perfectly good car to drive with heated leather seats, cruise control (so I can sleep longer), cup holders for my coffee, and satellite radio. Instead I've got on long johns and a scarf. No coffee on the way to work. And did I mention its 5am? I don't normally wake up until 6. I should clarify, I get out of bed around 6am. I don't wake up until 10:30'ish.

You're probably asking yourself, "what makes this morning different?" What am I saying? You're probably asking yourself, "does this story have a point?". Good news! it does! The point of the story is that today I'm going to take my motorcycle skills test so I can ride my bike legally. That is legally between dusk and dawn and with no passengers. Good enough. Don't want to drive at night anyways and who would trust me enough to get on the back of my bike?

So I arise from my coma at 5am and the first thing I do is go outside and see if the bike starts. It does... kinda. It starts then it stops. I try again. Nothing. Again. Nothing. Damn. Should I go back to bed? I think so. Then it dawns on me. Try setting the petcock (I love that word) to prime. Try again. Rumble rumble rumble. OK good enough. It starts. Turn it off and lets go inside and get a coffee before I get geared up to leave.


Coffee tastes wonderful after being out in the cold. It's days like today when I truly appreciate my Saeco automatic coffee maker. One push of a button grinds my coffee beans, puts in into the brewer, tamps it down, and makes a perfect espresso, cappuccino, or Americano depending on what I select. Then the kicker... it cleans itself. Gotta love the Jetsons (except I still don't have a flying car).

Coffee... done. Gear... on. Let's go! I got up way to early so I made a couple of sandwiches for lunch just to kill some time. It's now 6:45am... time to go.


Let's fire this baby up... nothing. I drained the battery a earlier and there's not enough juice to engage the starter. Where the heck is my kick starter when I need it. Whatever. I live on a hill, lets go and hope I don't spend the next hour pushing my bike back up it.

No problems. She started by the bottom of the driveway. I warm her up and go. The trip to work was a breeze. Literally... a 140km/h breeze. I caught up to a group of motorcyclists (not bikers based on their equipment) all sporting BMW's, Ducati, a Yamaha R6 (I believe), a Triumph. There tires cost more than my bike. So I tuck into the middle of the group and show them what life in the post apocalyptic world looks like up close. Too much fun!

I arrive at work after my 15 minute ride (normally 25 minutes in the car) and I'm no worse for the wear. I am wearing the only helmet I own which passes for something legal. Thank God too. It would have been really cold in my beanie. Plus I put in my bluetooth headset and listened to tunes from my mobile phone the whole way. Very nice. 5 songs and I was there.

The plan was originally to go to the Motor Vehicle Branch leaving work early at 3pm and taking my chances but I changed plans half way through the morning...

That Which Does Not Kill Us - Part 2 (April 17, 2008)


As I said in my previous post, I decided to change plans half way through the day. I figured if I left around 11:30am I could get to the Motor Vehicle Branch around 11:45am and wait in line. I could be in and out under an hour. Yeah right!

I get to the Motor Vehicle Branch where I see four other bikers waiting impatiently. I line up in the line where you find out where to line up, and after waiting in that line, I'm directed to the line where I need to line up only to wait in line so I can put my name down for the next Motorcycle Skills Test (another line up). I have decided on a new career path - Government work. My god it must be nice to have no responsibility to please your customers. So far as I can tell, the only thinking these people have to do is what to wear (though it looked like their judgment there was questionable), and what to eat. Because at 12 noon they all decided to take lunch and leave the trainee to fend for herself, which was probably a good thing. I would imagine that being new would probably make you more qualified to get things done there. Could you imagine being at a job where each day you work there brings you one step forward to your supreme qualification of being utterly incompetent. But I rant.....

After the long wait, my name gets called and I report with two other guys to a gentleman who is going to test us out in the parking lot. He assigns us our places in the line and tells us where to meet in the parking lot.

The other two guys look like they mean business. Nice gear, expensive bikes, and their motorcycle road test books gripped firmly in their hands. These guys have studied. Oh no!... are they going to ask me questions? Have they changed the test? No big deal. I'm second in line, I can watch what the other guy does.

The serious man with the beautiful Triumph race bike takes the longest to get ready. I've already put my helmet on, started my bike and drove over to where we were instructed to wait by the time he gets his bike started. Not so much because he's slow but more because I raced to my bike in the off chance that I would have to push start it like I did this morning. That would be embarrassing. But she started up no problem and I let her warm up really good while I waited for the other blokes to join me.

The tester beckons the guy with the Triumph over to the test course while the other guy and I give the process our complete attention. I notice the jacket the guy beside me is wearing. It's the leather Icon jacket I was looking to buy online. Thank God I didn't. It made him look like a complete loser. And he wasn't an overweight middle aged man. Imagine what I would look like in it. Ouch.

So the test seemed to go fine for the first guy. I was quite impressed with how steady and in control he was. Must be the bike! So I see the man hand him his passing papers and I get called over. i start the bike and approach...

The first words out of the guys mouth are, "Is this your bike?"


Then, "What is it?"

"A 1981 Yamaha XJ650 Maxim."

"I have the same bike at home... only I'm missing the front fork plate and my left handlebar switches."

We strike up a good conversation about the bike. I give him my number and tell him to come over on the weekend and I'll hook him up. I bet he didn't have the same rapport with the guy before me. I tell you, the Armageddon bike has an underground following like no other. We walk amongst you... undetected! He asks me to use my turn signals. Left, fine. Right, shoot! (OK don't panic! Maybe he won't notice that I'm toggling the right signal with my thumb on the switch.) OK! Brakes, hand break, fine. Foot break, good. Low beams, yep. High Beams, good. Horn, beep beep. Alright.

So the test begins.

First, walk your bike in a straight line about 15 yards and stop on a red X painted in the asphalt. I miss the red X but no biggie. Then he explains that he needs you to do the same route driving as slowly as possible. No problem. I'm a little shaky but I get down the straight line at a crawl. I would have been better but it was too early in the day to be drinking.

Second, turn your handle bars hard over and do a semi-circle. This is your turn radius. Now he sets the cones for this radius, plus a yard and a half.

Third, he explains the course he wants you to drive. Starting at the far end I need to make a left hand turn, ride slowly down the same path again, make a hard U-turn and then navigate through the slalom course. Easy. Do it again, no problem.

Fourth, accelerate down the lot to 25km/h and turn around and accelerate back. When he lowers his hand, make an emergency stop. No problem. Do it again, screech. My back tire locked up a little bit. Does that fail me? Nope, he just says whatever and hands me my papers.

"Good job, I'll call you tonight!"

Gotta love the power of the XJ. I could trade my abnormally over-sized genitalia for an expensive, shiny bike but I kinda like walking with a limp. Besides, how much excitement is it knowing that your bike will always start?

I take my papers into the training center for Wal-Mart greeters and after waiting in... yet another line!!! Then, I'm told that my learners expires on Saturday. I say I know that, but I figured I would get an extension if I passed the MST. I was wrong. So I say what if I just do the road test today? She says that would be ok. She checks her screen, and no word of a lie she asks me if May 23rd would be OK? May 23rd? It's April 15th. My permit expires on the 20th (of April). What was going through her mind to make her ask that? So basically I showed up for nothing. I ask her supervisor if I can just do my knowledge test again and extend my permit. I get a resounding...NO. She is overqualified for this job. I haven't heard my two year old daughter say no with that much authority. So I give them both a piece of my mind, blow my cool completely, and leave giving them the satisfaction of a job well done.

At least I'm legal until Saturday.
If at first you don't succeed... Don't try hang gliding (April 18, 2008)

I start this story out the same as the last.

It's 5am and do you know where your children are?

Actually it's quarter to five and I have been awakened in the worst way. My day begins with a squeeky voiced, "meeko...meeko daddy" followed by a hammer fist to the nose and, "MEEKO DADDY!"

For those of you who don't speak two year old Croatian I will translate. Meeko is two year old talk for Mleko, which is Croatian for Milk. Last night I put my daughter in bed with me because she wanted to sleep with her daddy and this is the way I'm repaid for my kindness.

So I go to the kitchen to make a bottle. Of course first I have to clean a bottle. Warm it up and hand serve it to the Princess of the Universe. Well no sense in going back to sleep. I go through my morning routine; toilet, brush teeth, shave, shower, hair and clothes. Done. Now what? I have time to kill. Hey! There's my motorcycle handbook. I guess I could have a read through it and go take my learners again. Of course that would negate my 1 day of legal riding. Who cares? Not me.

I have a read through the book. Is it me or have all the road signs changed? I thought school zone signs were blue. I'm in trouble, I think. It says in the book that the number one cause of motorcycle fatalities is riding after drinking and not being able to navigate a turn. I don't believe that for a second. The last time I rode drunk I crashed because I couldn't navigate a straight away. A turn would have been easy.

The morning passes and I arrive at the British Columbia Motor Vehicle Branch around 11:30am. I'm a sucker for punishment so I go to the one in Richmond. I try to find the sign to direct me to the proper line but I don't see any signage in English. Should have payed more attention to the subtitles in all those Kung-fu movies I watched as a kid. Of course one wrong move in this place and I could be in the middle of one of my own. OK, talk to the receptionist, she'll point me in the right direction. Ask her for my learners and she gives me a numbered ticket. Wow! That was easy. My number gets called next... OK... where's the camera? This has to be a set up. I ask the girl for my Class 6 learners knowledge test, she takes my ID and says go to computer 6. How quick was that?

I start the test. I'm a little nervous. You just never know ho these things will go. Forty questions and you're allowed 8 wrong. Good thing I studied the road signs. I wouldn't have passed this yesterday. The drinking and driving question comes up. Good thing I paid attention. I get through the test in about 10 minutes. Forty questions and only four wrong. I don't even remember which ones.

I go to the girl and she asks how I did, she looks in her computer and I hear the printer start printing off my new Learner's permit. She takes a look at it and pauses. To her surprise she says, "It says you don't have any restrictions on your Learner's and you can go straight to the road test without taking the MST!" My pulse quickens and my eyes dilate, I try to maintain my composure but I know what I look like. I've been in sales too long not to recognize when a customer thinks I've undercharged him. I reply, "Yes... I know. I took my MST a couple of days ago and they mentioned I would have to do my knowledge test over to extend my time period."

She gives me a blank look. Good, she has worked here a while so there will be no chance of logical thinking or reasoning going through her head. She looks at her computer, then I see her look at the clock... NOON. What timing! No chance she will risk staying through her lunch to do the right thing and reset my license. There is a Santa Claus Charlie Brown! She folds up my license and hands it to me like its a drug deal. I grab it from her quickly and bolt out of the Motor Vehicle Branch as quickly as possible without looking too much like a bank robber. I make it! The heist is complete. I run to my car, get in and unfold the paper. I read through it and it reads like a winning lottery ticket. Restriction Code 10 - Drive unattended between sunrise and sunset; no passengers. I have a year to complete my road test!

I'm legal again. I wish I had my bike right now.
Global Warming and Icy Beer (April 19, 2008)

Today I had to go pick up my bike. I left it at my daughter's grand-parents place the other day because I needed a car to pick her up. I see the sun shining outside and I figure it doesn't get much better than this, considering it was a white-out snow storm yesterday evening. How does that even happen? And what happened to "Global Warming"? I didn't spend all those years burning wood, driving a gas guzzling Cadillac, making sure the house was well lit (and the basement too) to have to deal with a snow storm in April. Like what do I have to do? Start lobbying for the return of muscle cars and dirtier industrial smoke stacks?

I digress. It's sunny out today lets be happy. I am happy. That is, until I go outside and feel the cold bite of 3 degrees and a wind that blows right through you. It's colder than my wife after I've told her she can't have something. And like both situations you can't really dress right for either.

Doesn't matter though. I need to get my bike and today is the only day I can do it. We spent the day at the zoo. My daughter loved it. It's truly amazing to see how a two year old reacts to new things. I wish I could be half that excited to see caged animals but after so many years of looking at myself in the mirror every morning I find myself quite sympathetic to these poor animals.

I get to my bike around 6:30pm and it's starting to get colder. On top of that, my battery is dead! I try the old push starting thing but it just isn't working for me. I try jump starting from the car but I think the cables I'm using aren't very good and I'm not getting any contact. So I give up. I go to turn my bike around and put it back in the garage and I decide to give her one more up and down the back alley. I run-run-run, then jump on the seat as I drop the clutch. I hear life, but it goes away quickly. I'm regenerated! I try again and again. Finally she starts and stays started. I drive around the block with no helmet on (I really hate helmet laws) and park her in the driveway. Give her a little bit of choke and let her warm up on her own while I get geared up to go.

I flee the place like I've committed a crime. Oh my God! It is COLD. The faster I go the colder I get, but even at a slower speed it's too cold. I decide to go as fast as possible. The less time I'm in this Antarctic like weather the better. I do 150km/h (100 miles per hour) all the way down the highway only slowing down for corners. I'm almost home when I see the cold beer and wine store. I stop in. I don't know what I was thinking. I manage to get my stiff body off my bike and walk in to the store. I get my helmet and gloves off and walk into the walk in freezer where they keep the beer. Man it's kinda warm in here. I grab a six pack of miller but it's warm. I guess they must have just restocked. I try the Stella, warm too. The Coronas are warm. I guess it must be all the bottles. I'll try the cans. I grab a six pack of Bud. It's warm. Every effin beer in the place is warm. Oh well, I keep the Bud and go to the cashier. I complain about all the beer being warm and he responds with a puzzled look, "This beer is Icy Cold sir"

It dawns on me. I'm so cold that cold beer feels warm. I explain my cold ride to the kid behind the cash register. I feel he deserves it after the way I sneered when I complained. I gear up and strap the beers to the bike. I feel a little warmer after spending 5 minutes in the fridge and I drive the 12 blocks home. Park the bike, helmet off, and my hands warm up with a cold beer.

Hope it's warmer tomorrow.
The Lone Wolf Rides Alone? ( April 23, 2008)

Alright! I should probably start this blog out with an apology to some of my more avid readers. I have spent the last couple of days reworking the layout of the page and trying to procure some outside content to post on my pages. As well, I’m going to stop truncating the RSS feeds and give the whole story instead of just the first paragraph teasers. I’ve been kinda greedy about trying to get more people to visit the actual site when what I should be doing is just writing for the enjoyment of it. The advertising dollars had me scheming. It’s really not enough money to even worry about it.

Anyways… Sorry! Now for today’s post.

It has come to my attention that some people reading this blog would like to join me for the ride through Europe. Namely Jimmy and Rob (aka Hoover… yes like the vacuum cleaner, and no I don’t know how he got the nickname but when you think about it… it is kinda creepy). So I began the research process and have come up with a pretty good price. Many of the rental agencies in Germany were asking for 800Euro ($1200US) per week but I found this link:

Knopf Tours

Here you can get a BMW R1100GS for $550 for the first week and $500 for additional weeks. Insurance is $70 per week and you have to ask for permission to ride in Eastern Europe. As it turns out this may not be a ‘Lonely Man’ tour after all. If anyone else is interested drop me an email or post a comment to this blog. Perhaps if we had enough attendance we could negotiate a deal with zee Germans.

Not a bad deal when it comes right down to it. As well I have been pricing hotels along the route and you can pretty much keep your hotel budget to under $50/day for a decent place. Sure beats the heck out of camping at the side of the road, which is what I had originally intended to do until I realized my body can barely take 200kms on the back of a bike. I think I would need a hotel with a hot tub every two days.

I’m also starting to compile maps of the regions I’ve been thinking about traveling to. I still have some freebie maps that they give tourists at the train stations from last year but I’m hoping to get more. I love these maps. They are the best for getting around downtown on foot and finding places of interest. A family friend from Prague (Anna) was in town this week and she was giving me names of places that would be better to visit than Prague. I’m going to have to pump her for more information and routes. She named a brewery to go see but I can’t remember the name.

Needless to say I think the route is going to take me through Prague – Vienna – Bratislava – Budapest – Zagreb – Karlovacko – Split – Jadrtovac

I toyed with the idea of going all the way to Odessa and the Black Sea, but then I actually looked at a map. There are some pretty sketchy countries you have to go through to get there and I’m not quite brave enough. Plus it’s over 2000kms to get there and I just don’t have the time… this year.
Final Voyage (April 24, 2008)

So this is it. My last ride on the beast before I tear her down completely and she's unrecognizable. I'm kinda sad at this moment, she has treated me well over the years and with the exception of one crash (when a dump truck traveling towards me threw a stone and hit me square in the chest ripping me off my bike) she has never stranded me anywhere. Yeah, I may have had to push start her a few times, screw with the carburetors, or jiggle the electrical around, but I have never had to do any real repairs to her. By far the best $400 I have ever spent on a bike.

As sad as it may be the emotion that is stronger is fear. What if I can't put her back together? I've never torn down a bike. I have never done a ground up overhaul of a motorbike. I can fix all sorts of industrial equipment, but I've never really had to work on something so small before. I'm more qualified to work on the Space Shuttle than I am on a 650cc Japanese engine.

I'm not too worried though. In my younger years I would never attempt to do this. Not that I'm any more skilled to do the job now. The big difference is my bank account. I know that if it becomes a complete SNAFU (if you don't know what SNAFU means Google it) I can always buy my way out. Of course that may just mean I don't get to eat on my trip and I'll be forced to sleep at the side of the road. Not that I worry about that either. I have never had any trouble feeding myself. If things get bad you can always try this. Get yourself cleaned up and put on your nicest clothes. Get to a chain hotel before 8am and they will usually have their continental breakfast going. When you walk in the lobby if you see stairs, take them. Then wait for about 5 to 10 minutes, walk up to the first floor and take the elevator down and walk into the breakfast lounge. Help yourself to a large breakfast and take as much packaged food with you (cheeses, jams, etc.). In Europe they usually have a good selection of fruit, grab lots. I've done this in many cities I've traveled to. Actually I was hungry on my way to work one day and I just pulled in to a Holiday Inn Express and pigged out on bagels and cream cheese once. As long as you don't look homeless, you don't have to starve like a homeless person.

Back to the story... I charged my battery for an hour prior to my ride and nothing. Barely enough juice to turn her over. So I once again celebrate the fact that I live on a hill with a steep driveway. I don't even have to push. She starts before the bottom of the driveway, I wait a minute for her to warm up, and away I go. It's a little fresh out, but my gear is warm enough. I'm not blasting around like I normally do and just take it easy. I plan on enjoying this ride! I leave the village I live in and head into the back farm roads. I want some privacy and some curves. I'm all alone (or so I think) in the darkness of night when all of a sudden sirens and flashers shock me into action. Oh no! I'm being pulled over. I'm not supposed to be riding at night. What's the fine gonna be? I pull over quickly and prepare myself for what I know is not going to be pleasant. At the very least they're going to call a tow truck. I just had to push my luck. Well I get to keep on pushing. The cop goes past me and starts down the road at break neck speeds. They aren't after me. He must have got a call from dispatch that Tim Horton's was almost of of jelly filled donuts. Thank God!

Now most people would be happy with that outcome and just leave the situation for what it is. My initial reaction was to turn around and go home but then it started to bug me how fast that cop past me. So lets roll the dice again. I gun the throttle and pop the clutch. My tire goes up to shoulder height and I wheelie the bike to third gear. I put the tire down for the hard left hand turn and I lay the bike right over and rub my foot pegs on the asphalt. Third gear becomes fourth and I'm back up to 9000 rpm before I hit fifth and put those flashers right in front of me. I slow down to keep up with this cop who is driving way to fast and I'm sitting around 3500 rpm when I back off and take the next turn to leave him. I feel good knowing I could have blown his doors off and not thought twice about it. I also feel good about the wheelie, which sounded better when I first described it but in reality was a complete accident. I didn't even know I could get my front tire off the ground on this bike.

I cruise into the next village, a little town called Ladner, and I turn around at the strip mall (Strip Mall? what a poor description that is). I start the slow cruise back when I feel the engine start to hesitate. I know this sound! I switch the petcock (again another poor description) to the reserve tank and she starts purring again. My job is pretty much done. I really wanted to drain the tank as much as possible before I decommissioned the bike. No sense in wasting gas by cleaning my garage floor. At least not at $1.37 per liter of high test.

I get home, park her by the work bench, and just sit on her while she runs herself dry. This is a sad day. It's kinda like sending your gal into the plastic surgeons for a mid life overhaul. It all sounds great before the surgery, but when they come out looking like on over tightened drum skin you just have to shake your head and remember the old days.

Good-bye baby.
Cafe Racer (April 25, 2008)

Most of my posts are about me and what I have been doing. While they are typically bike related sometimes they are more of a rant to keep me out of the clock tower with the bottle of Southern Comfort and the high powered Italian assault rifle.

This posting is about someone else:

I am a regular over at another forum dedicated to the bikes I ride. Although there is a wealth of information over there, like any forum, the problem is anyone can have an opinion and 7 times out of 10 its wrong. There are a few people I trust there and even fewer with good taste when it comes to rebuilding their rides. I have seen some nice rebuilds and some crappy ones but never one that deserved to be praised publicly, until now.

I go through pretty much every motorcycle website that has anything to do with Yamaha Maxims and Secas. Recently, I checked out a build page titled "83 SECA 650 Cafe Project". When I clicked on the link the first picture I saw was this:

the before shot

Looks a lot like my 81 Seca 750 with the exception of the dual exhaust on my bike. Of course my bike has been dismantled for 5 years and until now has not received any attention. Here's my Seca:

can you even see my bike?

I have thought about doing many things with this bike but I have never had much more than my imagination and a few images of other people's bikes to work with. Most of the ideas I've had from other people's bikes consisted of small tidbits. Maybe the handlebars off this bike, the paint off this bike, the fenders off this one, or the seats off this one. A collage of parts from many different bike only tied together in my imagination. When I saw the finished product of this guys bike I was floored. It was basically everything I had imagined in a bike only it was REAL!

I have been staring at this bike for a long time now and I have been busy with the bike I'm taking to Europe. I am so focused on the Europe trip that I don't really have time for anything else. The reason I started this blog was so that I could keep my friends in the loop and not come out of this project looking for new friends. One of the most common comments I get when I explain to people what I'm doing is, "Why don't you just buy a new bike?" or "You're going to ride THAT through Europe? Are you crazy?" Well let me show you what my bike could look like and ask me if I'm crazy.

This bike was built by a guy in St. John's Newfoundland who goes by the moniker 'Ease' his real name is Evan King and he has made one of the best London Cafe Racer inspired XJ650 I have ever seen. Take a look:
Pretty amazing! Tell me this is not an absolute eye turner. Although this is not the look I'm going for on the Maxim I'm taking to Europe, it is the look I have in mind for my 750 Seca. This picture has inspired me to start working on both bikes simultaneously. That and the fact that I'm a sucker for punishment.But seriously I think when I get back from Europe I will work all winter to make my Seca look like this guys bike. Then maybe I will drive it across Canada next year. Whistler, British Columbia to St. John's, Newfoundland.
Everytime I try to get out...They Pull Me Back In! (April 28, 2008)

Well the day had to come sooner than later. I have a lot of work that needs to get done and I'm quickly running out of hours to do it with. I know I said my goodbye's to my bike already but I decided to take her out for another ride for 'one last time'. The big swap meet was in town so my buddy Benjamin rode out and we hooked up later in the afternoon. It was raining pretty hard but I thought what the heck!

I didn't dress well for the rain, blue jeans and a windbreaker. I wasn't going very far so I figured I could tough it out. I really do need to invest in proper motorcycle apparel. It would make life a lot more comfortable.

I met up with Benjamin and his friend at McDonald's and I accompanied them for a piece down the highway. It's been awhile since I've ridden in a pack and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I bid them farewell and doubled back stopping at a couple of places on the way home. Of course I had to push start the beast everytime so I looked quite silly. Soaking wet jeans from the knees down running along and jumping on the bike as I popped the clutch. Riding side saddle until I could get my leg up and over the tank. OUCH! My back hurts from walking around all weekend.

So I get home and I clean up my shop. Time to undress the old girl and rebuild her. I'm taking alot of pictures so my progress is a little slower than it should be but if I have troubles remembering where things go I can go back over the photos.

I got quite a bit done by myself but a little helper came along to lend me a second pair of hands and some direction.

The funny things is, she actually figured out how to use the socket wrench. Unfortunately she spent 15 minutes tightening up all the bolts I loosened but it was very cute. I think I have a future grease monkey on my hands. She definitely has some skills. And, when she got bored of turning wrenches she handed me a beer. Better than any apprentice I've ever had!

I worked on her for a few hours and got a lot done. I'm great at stripping down a bike. Lets see if I can actually put this one back together. I have some plans but everything is mostly by the seat of my pants.

I'm going to start with the exhaust system. Sandblast the pipes and put a ceramic coating on them. Then I will remove the engine, front forks, and wheels. Dismantle all the pieces from the frame and powder coat the wheels and frame and everything attached to it. After that the engine work begins. Rering the pistons, hone or bore the cylinders, lap the valves and replace all the seals after painting the top end with thermal dispersant paint. After that start working an a new electrical system. Change the brake lights and turn signals with LED's and replace the fuse box with something modern. I'm ordering new bars so there may be some modifications I have to make to the control linkages and brake lines. After that its all cosmetic and assembly.

Should be interesting to see how she turns out. Stay Tuned!
Jingle Bells Shotgun Shells (May 2, 2008)

So I stripped the bike down completely! My pipes were rusted to ruin, at least so I thought . I took them to the shop and stuck them in the Shot Blaster. Now look at them! Unbelievable. And i didn't have to lift a finger. Life is good!

Paint me a Story (May 23, 2008)

I checked my email this morning and I'm finding that I'm irritating my readership again. My intention was to publish a blog a day, but I’ve been terribly remiss. So here I am again finding myself apologizing for not being on top of things here. Sorry. Now leave me alone and read the blog damn you.

I’ve been asked how the bike is coming… actually; I’ve been asked if the bike is done. The answer is, it’s not coming together very quickly. I’ve been busy. I’ve still managed to get some stuff done, but I need some uninterrupted time to get right down to it.

I have stripped the bike and removed the paint from all the pieces. What I need to do now is put all the frame pieces together the way I want and then take it all apart again for painting. Then I will put it all back together and add an engine. Here’s a picture of what she looks like right now. I’ve changes the tank and seat and now I need to figure out what I’m going to do with the rear fender.


Since I can’t really get much done on it these days I spend my time buying stuff for my bike on eBay. So far I have picked up new handle bars, mirrors, lights, and an ignition and gas cap that use the same key (as opposed to mine that use a #2 flat head screwdriver). Tomorrow I will be taking my pipes into Surf Tech in Port Moody to have them ceramic coated. A nice satin black finish is going to make them look so nice. At the same time I’m going to discuss powder coating colors

I had moved away from the idea of powder coating but while I was borrowing an air sprayer from Hoover (don’t ask me how he got that nickname), he told me that I wouldn’t be able to do it and that I should pay someone to do it for me. He basically came out and told me how much I suck and that I don’t have the ability required or the potential to ever learn the skills required to give my bike even the crappiest of paint jobs. He then went on to criticize the way I look and dress and mentioned something about my inability to be human. So I have definitely decided to paint the bike myself! And get a new wardrobe too. He was right about the way I dress.

Seriously though, how hard could it be to paint a tank and a couple of fenders? Any monkey can do it. I mean Hoover made a living at it so it really couldn’t be that hard. We’ll see how it goes. I won’t be painting for a couple of weeks yet. That should give me plenty of time to read about how to paint on the Internet and become a pro.
Curiousity Killed the Catscan! (May 5, 2008)

So how bad do you think I feel? I went over to Surf Tech Coatings on Saturday to get my exhaust coated and the guy wasn’t there. The whole shop was locked up tighter than Fort Knox, and looked more abandoned than the Statue of Liberty in Planet of the Apes. What nerve?!? I mean, I even bought beer and cash to bribe the guy to give me a lower price. I drive all the way there and nothing… nada… nil. I’m so pissed off that I have to drink a beer immediately and then chase it down with another beer right after. That made me feel a bit better so I had to celebrate my mood change with another beer. I vow to take my business elsewhere and I call my buddy Jimmy up. Good News!!! He’s having a barbecue down at his dealership. What a stroke of luck? Barbecue tastes really good with beer. I stop in; have a couple burgers, drink a beer, and leave. Quick and dirty just like me.

Since I’m not getting any real work done I go by the local Princess Auto. They have a paint gun on sale for $15. How can I say no?

Did I mention that I vowed to take my business elsewhere?

This next part of the story is more relevant to the title of the blog.

If I’m going to take my business elsewhere there really is no reason to call the guy up and ask him what the heck went down. I can be the silent customer who just goes to the competitor and doesn’t give a reason. Well, if anybody knows me, silent is not the word to describe me. I call the guy up and give him grief. He apologizes emphatically. Even says that he would have called me if he had my digits. He then explains that he wanted to be there but he had to be with his mom because his dad had a heart attack while riding his bike up to Kelowna… silence.

This is the part of the story where I feel shame. I don’t need to talk about my feelings because I’m a guy. But you can all imagine. It’s a very similar feeling to the one you get when you ask a girl what trimester she’s in and she replies by telling you she’s not pregnant. You vow to never make that mistake again but as time passes you forget what the taste of your foot was like and your inner curiosity subliminally puts you in a position to serve it up cold, shoe and all.

So in the end, I told him I would see him next Saturday and that I hoped his father gets better.

If I find out he’s an orphan fists will fly!
Making a List, Checking it Twice! (May 30, 2008)

I just got off the phone with Ryan from Surf Tech in Port Moody and we’re on! Tomorrow morning at 9am it’s the beginning of the end for the cosmetics on this bike. If all goes well the ceramics on the exhaust and the powder coating on the frame will get done and I’ll be reassembling by Sunday. Not likely but it would be nice. Yesterday I fabricated a couple of brackets to put the new seat on and then I just kind of guessed at where they should be welded to my frame. Until I try to put the gas tank on I won’t know if I got it right or not. That’s just the way I roll though. Take a lot of time and effort to do things twice; the wrong way and then the right way. It’s really the only way to learn as far as I’m concerned. And besides, anything worth doing is worth doing twice. Take a look at a couple of pictures of me in the shop.


So my list of things to do is getting shorter, yet it’s still a long list. Here’s what I have left to do:

  • Buy the new LED tail light and signal lights.
  • Mold the rear seat cowl with fiberglass.
  • Cut the rear fender to match cowl.
  • Reassemble the frame and all the little pieces (ie. center stand, kickstand, foot pegs)
  • Change the front brake pads and grind the rotor.
  • Rechrome the front forks, replace the fork seals, and refill with oil.
  • Clean up the rear swingarm
  • Refinish the rear shocks or purchase new ones.
  • Attach the front forks.
  • Mount the handlebars and mirrors.
  • Attach the rear swingarm and replace the swingarm bearing.
  • Mount the air box and battery holder.
  • Paint the fenders and tank.
  • Mount the lights and route the electrical lines.
  • Attach new fuse panel.
  • Clean up, rebuild, and mount the engine.
  • Connect final drive.
  • Clean carbs and bench synch.
  • Mount Carbs and reattach cables.
  • Finish electrical work.
  • Test drive bike.
  • Fabricate luggage and attach.
  • Go to Europe!

When you write it down it becomes a never ending shopping list. How am I ever going to get all that done? Oh yeah and go get my drivers license needs to be in there somewhere. One step at a time. I really hope I get the painting done tomorrow. Otherwise the rest of this list gets put off even longer.

I got a call from Money (Steve Money not currency) two days ago and he has a friend that can get me all my paint. That will be a real help! Of course I could probably use advice and instruction more than supplies but I will take what I can get.

If anyone reading this blog wants to lend a hand you’re more than welcome to come over and help. Just thought I would put that out there. If I know my readership no one will come out until after the 9th.

I just hope that the guy at Surf Tech doesn’t have anymore unhealthy family members.
Fool me Twice Shame on Me (June 9, 2008)

A great man named George Bush said it best when he said,"There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again."

That's what happened to me. I showed up at the specialty coatings guy's shop on Saturday and what happened? He didn't show up...AGAIN!

Am I a complete idiot? Don't answer that one. To much nodding causes cancer. Really, it does! I swear! OK maybe it doesn't, but I don't need a bunch of people with nothing better to do than reading this blog criticizing me. Besides, I'm pretty bummed out right now.

I waited foolishly at the shop for over two hours and two extra large double-doubles (for my International readers 'double-double' is Canadian talk for 'coffee with two creams and two sugars'). The guys at their other shop that does the anodizing showed up for work so I left my exhaust pipes there and told them how there co-worker screwed me around. They pretended to be shocked but they weren't that convincing.

So another wasted Saturday, and another $20 in gas (about 3.5 liters) gone. I won't be able to talk to the guy until Monday. I can't wait to hear the excuse. I wonder who died this week? Time to drown my sorrows in some imported beer. Part of my training for Europe requires that I get my palette used to the beers I will encounter along the way. I may not be able to speak the language, but as long as I know what beers to expect I can order like a local.

I was going to write this blog much sooner but I procrastinated and by the time I started writing it many things had happened so I may as well just write the whole experience in one shot. SO let's add two days and pretend that it's now the following Monday.

I called Ryan at Surf Tech Coatings in Port Moody and he was a little hesitant to talk to me. I could hear a bit of nervousness in his voice. He was very proactive about apologizing profusely and his story sounded like one that I would have made up so I let my disappointment subside a bit. Apparently on the Friday after I talked to him they had a few beers at work and they got into a yelling match with a bunch of skateboarders (there is a skate park across the street... how lucky) and Ryan took it upon himself to go after one of them, at which point he went over on his ankle and had to go to the hospital. Doesn't that sound like an Elvis story without the dull thump sound I make when I fall? He said he thought about me when he woke up hungover in the afternoon and that he felt bad for me. I was going to give him a bit of grief until he told me that my pipes would be ready to pick up after work. Hooray! OK all is forgiven.

I head out there straight after work and it dawns on me that I may arrive to a closed shop again. I decide to call as I'm driving and make him promise to wait for me. As well, I get his cell phone number just in case.

When I get there I meet my limping friend and I see my pipes hanging there. I belive the kids nowadays use the acronym - OMG!! They are nice! Here's a before and after picture but it doesn't really do it justice.


Now that I have seen the workmanship I realize why he came so highly recommended. Now we can talk powder coating!
Canada Day (July 4, 2008)

Happy Canada Day everybody. And happy Independence Day to all of my American cousins.

So it's crunch time now. The bike is coming together and the cosmetic work is practically done. Take a look at the paint scheme.


The reassembly is coming together pretty good. I'm still a little worried about the electrical and the wiring harness. Oh... and a little thing called rebuilding an engine. You can't forget that. The rolling frame is put together and I just need to reattach the front forks and wheels to get it done. I have been making countless trips across the border to pick up little odds and ends that I have been buying on the Internet. And before you ask I am not declaring any of my purchases to the border guards. How do I get away with this? Well I always have a bag full of cheese, butter, eggs, and milk. Let me tell you, I went across the border 4 times last week so if you lactose intolerant do no come to my house under any circumstances.

I was very excited last night. I ordered a front cowling and windshield and I wasn't sure what it was going to look like in person. It's gorgeous! It's way bigger than it looked like in the pictures. I am so relieved. For $30 I was expecting something flimsy and small. God bless our Chinese sweatshops.

It's the fourth of July today and I have to stay home and work on my bike. I have spent so much time on this project that I have basically wasted half my summer.

Tomorrow I'm taking my engine into work so I can use the shop. It's a much better place to do this kind of work.

  • Clearcoat the paint
  • Reattach the front forks
  • Refill the fork oil
  • Attach the front wheel, fender, and brake.
  • Handlebar controls and handgrips.
  • Fabricate the rear cowling to accept new LED tail-light
  • Reattach the electrical
  • Rebuild the engine and install it.
  • Hope to hell she starts.
  • Test drive

Doesn't sound too bad does it? This is what the progress looks like so far


I'm so not going to make it. I feel like it's the last hour on Monster garage. My crew has abandoned me and Jesse James is going to walk into my carport and take my bike away to be crushed, after mocking me, and having his midget kick me.
Dare to Dream (July 16, 2008)

So I've been hit with some extremely bad news. The guy who was going to ship my bike for me can't do it anymore. So my $300 shipping bill looks like it's going to jump to $1700. After all this hard work I've done there is a good chance that I'm not going to be able to take my trip. I'm so effin depressed I could cry. All the time, sweat, and money for nothing. I'll never know what it feels like to be broken down in Bratislava. I'll never know what unpasteurized Pilsner Urquell tastes like out of a wooden keg. I won't get to surprise the entire village of Jadrtovac as I cruise into town on my Canada bike with 24 liters of Karlovacko Pivo (beer) strapped to the back seat.


This is a cruel joke. If this were an 80's movie we would have a bad guy challenging me to a race and everyone would come over and help finish the bike, and someone would be a rat and tell the bad guy what we were doing, and then we would show up at the race and they would try to disqualify us, and then Chuck Norris would kick the judges ass and we would be allowed to race, but the stakes would be raised to include my dying aunts corner store, and then we would lose the race, and the store, but someone would have sold the rights to the movie and made us twice as much money as the store was worth.

Unfortunately, I don't have a dying aunt and Chuck Norris is getting too old to kick anyone's ass. I guess I'll just finish the bike and try not to dream.

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When Life gives you Lemons - Make Lemon Drop Martinis (July 18, 2008)

There's an old saying. Actually, it's not that old of a saying. Like not old testament old or even new testament old. More like Dianetics old (ref. if you are unaware of Dianetics google: operation clambake). One version of the saying goes like this:

"If life hands you lemons, make lemonade."

The version I prefer is a little more optimistic:

"If life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Then, find someone who had life hand them potatoes and make vodka. Then make lemon drop martinis"


The moral of that saying? I'm drunk how would I know what the moral of the saying is. Needless to say I'm going to keep trying. I'm going to pretend like this never happened and I planned to fly the bike over myself anyways. I have learned a lot about air freight over the last couple of days. I know more about dangerous goods, IATA, and transporting items by air than most of the idiots at the freight forwarding companies. Right now I'm getting quote after quote for $1600 but I just found a guy yesterday that may be able to do it considerably cheaper.

Another option is to remove the engine and ship it separately from the frame. Then I would reassemble it once I got to Germany. Doesn't sound like fun but it may be an economical option.

As well, I'm starting to sell anything I don't need for the bike (like do you really need a front AND a back brake?) to offset the cost a bit. Plus, if I don't eat for the next two weeks that will save me a couple hundred bucks too.

Needless to say I'm going to finish my bike this weekend and I should be riding it all week. I'm really looking forward to it. I'll be the guy in the Canada bike driving around Canada. That way people won't have any doubt where I'm from. Of course I will look like a geek here.

I'm starting to compile a list of people who... owe me money. Just kidding! I'm putting together a list of people who have lent their services or helped me in someway make this happen, even if it doesn't happen, I can't thank you enough.
Everytime I try to get out they PULL me back in! (July 23, 2008)

Play the above video to see what I did last night and then read below:

So she started! Yay! I was worried. Boy does she run loud. sounds like the exhaust manifold isn't sealed. I'll have to take care of that right away. I ran her for a good 20 minutes before the engine seized. Boo!

I'm serious, the engine seized. I popped open the valve cover and I was missing one of my cam chain sprockets! She absolutely exploded. I had to pull off the head and the cylinders and then I spent the next 4 hours fishing metal out of my engine. Could anything else go wrong? Don't answer that.

I'm going to try and do another rebuild. I almost got the cylinders back on last night but I found I was short an arm. If anyone wants to come over and help I could use it. Gaskets be damned I'm going to reuse what I have and get her buttoned up. If she's not running by tomorrow I'm calling it quits. My psyche can't take the stress this project has tolled out on me. I'm an absolute basket case. I should have just bought a Beemer and not worried about a thing. What's wrong with me? I take something simple and complicate so much that it becomes almost impossible. It goes hand in hand with my inability to order off the menu when I go out.

"I'll have the lamb souvlaki, but instead of lamb could I get beef, and could the beef be a tenderloin, and instead of putting it on a stick could you grill it medium rare, and instead of the rice and Greek salad could I have a mashed potatoes with garlic, mushrooms, and macaroni salad?"

I'm hating life right now. You'll know where I am if you need me. Come by if you want to help me.
I get by with a little help from my friends (July 24, 2008)

Well we have a new front runner for MVP on this project. After reading my blog I got a call from an old friend Lee whom I haven't seen in years. He could feel the desperation in my writing so he had to call me up and offer his help. The help was very needed. I've basically come to the conclusion that if she doesn't start tonight I'm scratching the tour. I'll get on a plane to Frankfurt and take the train instead. How boring that will be.

So last night we put the cylinders and head back on. It's amazing how much faster things happen with two sets of hands. What took me two hours by myself was finished in 15 minutes. Unfortunately, we couldn't 'button it up' because I didn't have a torque wrench. I'm getting one for tonight and I will torque everything down and give it another go. I think I may add some Loc-Tite to the equation. I can't afford to have anything come undone.

So please pray for me tonight. Make offerings to any pagan gods you may worship. If you're atheist... well become a believer for an evening. I mean seriously, praying to something you don't believe in isn't going to kill you is it?
You Only Live Twice (July 25, 2008)

The dream lives on for another day. I torqued everything up last night and here's the result:

She's running again and she sounds a lot better than she did last time. There are a few things I noticed that I didn't care for. There seems to be fuel leaking from my carburetors and there's a high pitched squeaky sound coming from that area as well. Hopefully I can get the gremlins out of the machine tonight. The plan being to reassemble everything and take her for a small test drive. Tomorrow I want to take her for a real ride. Maybe out to Hope or Merrit, depending on how she feels underneath me. I only have a few more days before she goes on the plane so I better do some tests before. The last thing I would want to have happen is to break down in Bratislava!

I still need to mount the saddle bags and front headlight but I think it's more important to actually get things running properly before I do that. I realize now the mistakes I've made throughout this process and I will never repeat them again. In the future if I were to do something like this I would get the mechanical done prior to doing any cosmetic work. The disassembly and reassembly process is not that hard at all. There's an old saying, "Chrome won't get you home", and it fits this situation. Reliable is better than good-looking. You would think being good looking and unreliable my entire life I would know this but vanity always skews your judgment. I always want the shiny one!

So Dave and Jimmy are coming over tonight to give me a hand with some of the final assembly. I think after finding out that Lee has been fast tracked for the MVP award they have decided to get on their respective horses and get over to help. I'm sure it will be an evening of drinking and criticism but that's just to be expected from anyone that would stoop low enough to be my friend. I will keep the postings going all weekend and I'm going to do a few picture blogs from my mobile phone and see how well it works from the road.
5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1... We have Lift Off (July 31, 2008)

The last couple of months has been a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. I remember getting my frame back from powder coating and being in absolute awe. I also remember being stood up twice and thinking I wasn't going to get my bike coated at all. My emotional state over the last couple of weeks have so diametrically opposed that I don't remember what it feels like to be just "OK". I can now understand how junkies can get hooked on drugs. Going from a completely seized engine to riding through the mountains at 140km/h is way too much to have happen in 3 days. It's like going from freezing cold to scorching hot. I think I've broken something.

So let's take some time to talk about my test run and engine break in. The manual says to drive your bike for 500 miles with as little load as possible. So I figure a ride with a 225lb man through a mountain pass would be ideal. The easy part was the ride from Tsawwassen to Hope. I was so nervous. The first thing to break was the speedometer. Great! How was I supposed to know how far I have gone? I had to switch my tank over to reserve quite early so I gassed up in Aldergrove. Almost 16 liters to fill up!

View Larger Map

I lost my tail light at Hope before getting n the Crowsnest Highway. That will cost me. Not to mention driving at night just got a little bit tougher. From Hope I drove up to the Tulameen River and turned around and retraced my route. Here are a few pictures:

Gassing Up at the East Gate 2
Princeton 2
Manning Park 2
Me and the Beemer
Bridal Falls
World's Biggest Gold Nugget

712kms later and she's running strong. The mixture is extremely lean and because I wasn't working the engine I was getting close to 60 miles per gallon. Boy was my engine hot. I'm going to take here into the shop and have the carburetors balanced.

I'm sore physically but I'm in good spirits. I was surrounded by some gorgeous scenery but all I could see were the streets of Europe. I am so close to that first beer in Plzen Czech Republic I can almost taste it. I have sworn off all beer until I get there (does whiskey count as beer?). It's like a fighter before fight night not having sex... no it's not, it's nothing like that.... It's like a porn star swearing off sex for a week.

To end this blog I will put out my hat and say if you want to buy me a beer click the PayPal Donate button up above and buy me a beer. I promise I I'll drink to your good health when I spend your money on a nice cold half liter of Czech Pilsner.

Buy me a Beer!
So Long and Thanks for all the Fish. (August 2, 2008)

I'm all packed and the house is buttoned up. I checked on my bike and it's in Toronto. It should arrive at least an hour before me but I have been told it can take up to 6 hours for it to make it to cargo for pickup. I don't really care at this point because my vacation started the minute I left my house. Dave picked me up and drove me to the airport. If i see a beer donation by the time I reach Czech we may have a new MVP.


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