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Monday, April 28, 2008

Everytime I try to get out...They Pull Me Back In!

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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!

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Cafe Racer

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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.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Final Voyage!

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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.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Lone Wolf Rides Alone?

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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.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Global Warming and Icy Beer

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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.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

If at first you don't succeed... Don't try hang gliding

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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.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

That Which Does Not Kill Us - Part 2

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PART 2

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?"

"Yes"

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.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

That Which Does Not Kill Us Probably Really Hurts.

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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.

http://elvisonthemove.blogspot.com/

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.

http://elvisonthemove.blogspot.com/

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...

(continued...)

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Iron Maiden Voyage!

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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!

video

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.


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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!

http://elvisonthemove.blogspot.com/
http://elvisonthemove.blogspot.com/

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.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Not Legal... Just De-Criminalized

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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!

http://elvisonthemove.blogspot.com/

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.

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Black Gold... Texas Tea!

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Eureka!!

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.

http://elvisonthemove.blogspot.com/
http://elvisonthemove.blogspot.com/
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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)

http://elvisonthemove.blogspot.com/

NO OIL (AFTER 1 HOUR)

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:

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RANDY (aka 'the Silverback') FAVARO

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Friday, April 4, 2008

Sweet Sixteen... Again!

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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/

Friday

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

Saturday

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

Sunday


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!
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