The Start of It
You know how it is. You get all dressed up. Jacket, helmet, boots, overpants, gloves, scarf, all the ridiculous paraphernalia that we need just to ride a few k’s down the road. Throw a leg over the beast. Hit the button, and it won’t start! Aaaarrggghhh! Not again! Off comes the helmet, the gloves, hurl them at the dog….. does this sound familiar?
Now I’d just sold my 34-year-old car. I couldn’t cope with Joseph
Lucas any more. Or Joseph couldn’t cope with starting the car. In any
case I had a much newer bike sulking in the shed while I had this
fixation for reliving my youth in a 2 seater car. The bike was only 22
years old. Much more reliable. I won’t bore the reader with how to
dismantle Dellorto carbies, or why Italians have red wires going to
earth. Let’s just say that we had starting problems. Again. Hey, I’m
over old bikes now.
The scene was Perth’s finest emporium des motos, The Sons of Thunder, in deepest Bassendean. The Italians still build motorcycles with a round headlight, wire wheels, 2 cylinders and shaft drive. All basic essentials, you’ll agree. And I got a test ride.
Well team, you know how it is. Test bikes are like hire cars, aren’t
they? They exist to be thrashed, viciously.
Shown no mercy. They go faster than regular bikes, and are better offroad too. We are too responsible to subject our own bikes to the sort of abuse that will get you jailed under the new hoon laws. Other people’s bikes are fair game. When they’re not looking.
Mario is shaking his head on my return after 3 hours from my half
hour ride. He knows me well. I can’t erase my stupid grin. It was good.
That good. He checks the speedo which has all these statistics, and
tells me that I wasn’t supposed to do 148kph inside city limits. He
knew he wasn’t talking to someone who cared.
Dotted Line Job
“Best you buy one, my son,” he said. I did. “You can keep my old one too,” I said. “I want a bike that starts first time every time at the press of a button. No more old technology for me!” Mario was still shaking his head. “You’ll regret this,” he said. I did.
In With the New
Don’t you love new bikes that start first time? No stuffing around with chokes or warming up. Fuel injection, electronic ignition. Red lights that flash to tell people not to touch, because it won’t start without a key.
The brakes work too, and the lights stay on. A light comes on
to warn me that my fuel tank is still three quarters full. The horn
goes off whenever I turn on the indicator. It’s the little things that
give so much pleasure when you buy a new bike.
5 Weeks Later
Work can be a major inconvenience to the joys of motorcycling. It was fly out time. On my return, the battery was flat. New bikes don’t start in this condition, apparently. I had to attack it with the Hey Charger. Something called an immobilizer had flattened the battery. A couple of hours later all was ready for the big run to the Elleker Hypermarket for the newspaper. It ran like a charm. For three days.
Déjà vu is a bastard! Here we go again. The midweek ride. Amity Tavern at 1pm. Its 1230. Put on the gloves, the helmet, the scarf. It’s raining, so the clobber is all double checked and properly buttoned up. Wheel the bike out. Lights, camera, ignition. glug, glug…..glug. Whirrr. And then silence! Fffffffffff! (the sound of grown man spitting dummy.) One glove got stuck up a peppermint tree. The other and my helmet ended up further down the paddock.
Quick. How do we start it? I tried pushing. Fat chance. OK, hook it
up to the Feral Rover. Bonnet up, jumper leads. Seat off, clip it all
up. Ahh. Minor problem. It won’t start with sidestand down. What… no
centrestand? We can still do this. No, I’ll hold the bike up, and
not stand astride it in case the battery terminals might fry my gonads.
You can’t be too careful.
It started. Whoopee! Now class. Work out the next step please. I’m
holding up a bike that won’t run on its sidestand. We are on a hill,
and there’s no handbrake.
It was a long reach to the wagon to undo the leads. Gravity came to
my assistance. The bike simply fell over. And guess what, class? New
bikes run on their sides for long enough to disconnect the leads, shut
the bonnet, run and pick up the helmet and shake the glove out of the
peppermint tree. It remained to pick up the bike and put the seat on.
Simple really. Who needs old bikes?
It was suggested to me by My Brother
Bob, that if I ever took the keys out of the bike, then perhaps the
battery wouldn’t go flat. Also I was urged to read the owners manual. I
can’t. I think its in Latvian.
Left is an extract. A sort of Idiot’s Guide to motorbike parts. For example #18 is a “Pulsante Clacson” and #21 is a Poggiapiede.
Richard had written the article the saga continued: "I got a new
battery on warranty, though Mario was at pains to tell me that it was
all my fault. And I had a call from a mate who also works offshore and
bought a new bike only to find the battery was f***ed after his 5 week
swing too. Pathetic, isn’t it?".