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Bike repairs continue

Posted by --- on Wednesday 29 October, 2008

MY GN125 still seems to be having problems. It doesnt idle evenly, will rev up on its own and cut out too. It stinks of fuel, the plug is sooty black and yet we have turned the mixture screw right down. So far we have replaced the plug, had a new  diaphragm fitted in the carb (£35), had a new carb (£56) and a new inlet rubber (£16). It is gradually improving but still not perfect. It needs a new fuel tap now too – must go and order one – done! As with gardening, I am feeling way too cold to go outside and mess with it though!

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Out n about

Posted by --- on Friday 17 October, 2008

Today was a gorgeous day. Bro came down on his bike with my nephew and wanted DFS and I to join them on a ride. He suggested we invite PP who’s an excellent rider with a fireblade. I felt a bit of a fool going out with them; I’d be on the Lead, they’d have the VFR 800, the CBR 600 and a Fireblade! As it happened I needn’t have worried coz DFS decided not to go and the lads went off alone. My friend J (FNJ) came over and we decided to go for a ride. As she’d never rode on a busy main road we decided to tackle the A5, which is local to us. Keeping the boys sweet, we offered to go and get them a best sarnie (bacon, egg, sausage & tomato) from the local truck-stop cafe! My bro was back by this point (after having a good ride out including a trip to Matlock) and offered to come with us. FNJ was too nervous to ride with him watching so refused. I was

in the house and would have preferred him to come with us. I feel a bit responsible when I’m out with FNJ

although I’m sure she doesn’t want me to feel that way, however, I would have been happy to have my bro follow and give advice or constructive critism on my riding.  I was feeling quite nervous myself as I’d never rode on such a main road either on a bike but as per normal, I put on my confidence “yes I can

do anything” nurses face and got on with it. The scooter does little for my street cred. My son never complained when he was riding it but I’m sure he felt the same. It doesnt help that FNJ rides an X-max which looks huge compared to the Lead. It’s a big scooter! Well we made it to the truck stop without a hitch. Thank you to the rider that tooted us as we were getting back on our bikes – it made our day!

We came home because we had to drop the girls off at guides (during which we were passed by a man who saluted us with his can of beer as he drove past the church!). Then we went back out. We popped through the town centre to FNJ’s uncle’s house. When we came back, the lads had picked the girls up from guides, DFS had finished clearing out his garage and wanted a ride too so we popped out to look at a bike that was for sale by the side of the road. As FNJ was only 10 miles off riding 100 miles in total, we decided to go for another ride. We went to a local village but to get there you have to travel an unlit bendy road. I didn’t feel it was too bad but FMJ told us when we got home that she was very uncomfortable  with the ride and she was very quiet. I suggested we tackle it more often to get her used to this type of road of which she will be mainly riding. Without doing her bike test she has to avoid motorways, this means that most of the roads she can use will be like this one. If she plans to go any further than the local town, we need to get her used to them. While we were out, my bro rang my mobile (which was in the kitchen…) and rang DFS’s mobile twice. We returned the call but didn’t find out till later that he’d rang as he wanted us all to go for a ride. I was gutted again. Three time today he’s asked about us all going out.

DFS popped to see the man who is looking at my bike (the suki or brittea as I call it as the reg is PG UK…) . I’d read on a forum that the problem was probably the diaphragm, DFS had already suggested it and the mechanic confirmed it. The thread recommended NRP carbs so I’ve contacted them today. They think that it will take a week or so to fit and return the diaphragm. I know DFS will be unhappy with this when I tell him; he wants everything done yesterday if not sooner! I now have the carb on newspaper on the kitchen table with a Haynes manual so I can take the spline (?) and diaphragm out to send off.

My parts also arrived off ebay too. They look in good condition too though covered in oil or brake fluid. I contacted the seller before I bought them (they were buy it now only) to request a reduction in the p&p as I’d buy two items. They never responded and I wanted the parts. I ordered them with the  £6 per item he/she was charging and when the package arrived today, both items were wrapped in bubble plastic with parcel tape around it and a postal charge of £3.08.  £8.92 profit ain’t bad is it? I think this will be reflected in the feedback.

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Just to make you think (and look!)

Posted by --- on Friday 10 October, 2008

I’m not saying motorbike riders are blameless. I’m not saying motorbike riders are good, better, or more aware,  but the fact remains that motorbike riders die more than car drivers and in a car v biker situation motorbike riders are going to lose everytime as they are vulnerable.  If everyone had a little experience on a motorbike, maybe they would be more aware of what it’s like and take that extra second to look. We’ve all seen the adverts but unless you actually try it, you can’t know what it’s like.   I’m not going to get on my soapbox about other road users. I’m far from perfect though I think I err on the side of caution. When I drive/ride you wont find is me stuck on your bumper, you wont find me on a phone, you will find two hands on the wheel most of the time, you wont get me drinking etc and driving, you wont get be slamming my brakes on in front of a lorry that can’t stop (I drive a car that is slow to stop and take off  – no where near as bad for me but just as frustrating!), you will see me use my indicators – and properly! Why do people indicate right to come off the exit of an island? Its a left turn (in the UK before I get swamped in comments).. and a million other things that annoy the hell out of me!

Anyway, here’s the poem.

But you didn’t see me – Unknown

I saw you; hug your purse closer to you in the grocery store line.
But, you didn’t see me; put an extra $10.00 in the collection plate last Sunday.

I saw you; pull your child closer when we passed each other on the sidewalk.
But, you didn’t see me; playing Santa at the local mall.

I saw you; change your mind about going into the restaurant.
But, you didn’t see me; attending a meeting to raise more money for the hurricane relief.

I saw you; roll up your window and shake your head when I drove by.
But, you didn’t see me; driving behind you when you flicked your cigarette butt out the car window.

I saw you; frown at me when I smiled at your children.
But, you didn’t see me; when I took time off from work to run toys to the homeless.

I saw you; stare at my long hair.
But, you didn’t see me; and my friends cut ten inches off for Locks of Love.

I saw you; roll your eyes at our leather coats and gloves.
But, you didn’t see me; and my brothers donate our old coats and gloves to those that had none.

I saw you; look in fright at my tattoos.
But, you didn’t see me; cry as my children were born and have their name written over and over in my heart.

I saw you, change lanes while rushing off to go somewhere.
But, you didn’t see me, going home to be with my family.

I saw you; complain about how loud and noisy our bikes can be.
But, you didn’t see me; when you were changing the CD and drifted into my lane.

I saw you; yelling at your kids in the car.
But, you didn’t see me; pat my child’s hands, knowing he was safe behind me.

I saw you; reading the newspaper or map as you drove down the road.
But, you didn’t see me; squeeze my wife’s leg when she told me to take the next turn.

I saw you; race down the road in the rain.
But, you didn’t see me; get soaked to the skin so my son could have the car to go on his date.

I saw you; run the yellow light just to save a few minutes of time.
But, you didn’t see me; trying to turn right.

I saw you; cut me off because you needed to be in the lane I was in.
But, you didn’t see me; leave the road.

I saw you; waiting impatiently for my friends to pass.
But, you didn’t see me; I wasn’t there.

I saw you; go home to your family.
But, you didn’t see me; because, I died that day you cut me off.

I was just a biker…  A person with friends and a family.
But, you didn’t see me.

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Wrist problems and worries

Posted by --- on Friday 10 October, 2008

Since my CBT on Saturday my left wrist has been very painful. It hurts to twist, bend, lift or put pressure on. I do suffer with an “unusual form of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome”. No idea why its so unusual except that they struggled to get my symptoms and test results to match the criteria! I’m assuming the 9 hours of clutch changes took their toll. I’m not sure if I need to strengthen the wrist or if I’ll not be able to ride a geared bike.  DFS is of the opinion that I wont be riding for long periods so it won’t be a problem and by the time I’m riding more, my wrist will be stronger – quite good logic for him! At the moment it isn’t a problem as I haven’t been out on a bike since Monday and if I do, I don’t have gears.

DFS has been out a couple of times on his. He took it for a ride with my bro a couple of nights ago. I wasn’t impressed as I think he needs some practice and probably solo practice until he’s used to the bike. I think he’ll either try to keep up, or feel that he needs to push himself more so that he doesn’t look the noobie rider. He only passed his test Monday so he is! He came back and said he was nervous while he was out. He also admitted that he’s not sure he’s done the right thing by having and riding a supersport bike as he will be tempted to push his own limits and will hurt himself. I said that he needed to be careful but I suppose it’s easier said than done. It now makes me feel awful whenever he says hes going out. His alarm broke yesterday so he can’t ride it as the immobilser and siren kicks in but that wont take the garage long to repair and he’ll be out and I’ll be clockwatching for his return

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lots of updates, motorbike section

Posted by --- on Tuesday 7 October, 2008

Yes, you read it right; motorbike section. So where did this come from? Well for me it started just before Christmas after I was 16 some 20+ years ago. I wanted transport. I wanted independence. I wanted a bike! I went to the local shop and set my heart on a Honda H100. I talked to mom and dad and they agreed to be guarantors and pay the deposit as a Christmas present.  In those days it was simple. You got a licence with a motorcycle entitlement and as long as the bike was under a 125cc, was taxed, MOT’d and insured you could get on it and ride it. Christmas morning was cold and the recent snow had turned to semi-frozen, grey and brown slush. Unhappy as my parents were with me riding it, my dad taught me about the gears in the driveway at the back of our house and later that day I was off! I came back cold, wet and happy. I rode my bike for several months in all weathers until some gits stole it in the summer, raced it around and dumped it in a local lake. The police found it, dragged it out and gave it back to me. It was dented, parts were broken or pulled off,  it was scratched, muddy, covered in weeds and the engine, and brakes etc had seized. I kept it on the back yard at the flat I now lived in and did the only thing I could; it was scrapped. I had a minimal pay out from the insurance (as I’d actually still got my bike it was minimal too!) and continued to pay for it for three years.  Up until about 2 weeks ago, I hadn’t sat on a bike since.

Then about three months (might be more, I’m terrible at guessing time) ago, DFS came home with this…

I can’t say I was happy. He hadn’t passed his test, we were supposed to be cutting down and he’d spent all of the money we’d had on fishing gear. Then he goes and gets finance on this! Ok, so it’s a lovely looking machine, it sounds awesome but I’m convinced he has got the wrong personality for a bike. He is too aggressive and impatient. He knows I am really really unhappy about it (its a long story), he thinks it will be great and we’ll be off “cruising”. What about the kids and the dog I think? Plus there is no way I’m getting on the back with him in control. Then there’s my size (and his!), I’m way to big to be a pillion passenger – between us we just about manage to be under the limit to be on it.  I don’t fancy it much. It’s also been expensive so far;  CBT £100, lessons £400, helmet £150, jacket £100, retest £80, retest £80, retest bike hire/instructor time fee £60, one week off work £600 (? hard to say, self-employed). So it hasn’t been cheap. He still needs more clothes (boots etc), the bike was a couple of grand, then the insurance, mot, tax etc and its a summer hobby (in the UK? Summer?!). Then there’s my gear and then the kids too! While all this is happening my brother also gets a bike and passes his test.  DFS and my brother want me to pass my bike test and join them. I have no confidence but to make the effort, I booked my motorbike theory test which I passed last Wednesday (01/10/08) and DFS suggested I book my CBT which I did.

My friend and neighbour bought a bike and passed her CBT on a scooter last year but unfortunately came off it and lost all confidence. To help her I dug DSL’s scooter out of the garage. Now remember I haven’t rode for 20 odd years so I took the bull by the horns (or bike by the handlebars) and took it up the road and back on my own. It was scary. Our reasonable lenght street suddenly became too short to manoeuvre and stop in. I felt I was surely going way too fast to be able to control this machine so tearing my eyes away from the road ahead for the briefest nanosecond, I glance at the speedo – not even 15 mph! And I thought I was speeding! I also felt terrified if a car came close – as in, the same road; I feel exposed on a pushbike! This had an engine too and you have to sit in the middle of the road! So I go up and down a few times and when my neighbour comes out she assumes I’m ready. As she is so scared, I could hardly tell her I’m a wreck too can I? We go out and the next night I follow her around the estate. She is nervous and lacks some road sense but to be honest, I felt she was more confident than I was and I was supposed to be helping her! At least she’d had some tuition on a bike. I just had my dad show me gears in the slush and I taught myself the rest. There were a few things I needed to learn (like how to stop at junctions etc! nothing major of course…!) and she needs practice and confidence. DFS repairs the scooter (replace mudguard (£80), it flies it’s mot, we tax and insure it. The insurance stipulate that I pass my CBT.

Then DFS surprises me with a bike too! I am now the owner of a 1997 Suzuki GN 125. It has sat for around 2 years and is desperate for some tlc. For starters it wouldn’t run. DFS spent a day or two cleaning bits, taking bits off and putting them back on, charging the battery etc until it did start but it was running terribly.  We stripped the back end for me to treat and hammerite the rusty parts. The rear carrier, suspension etc was brown so thats been rubbed with wire wool. The battery was dead so it’s had a new one (£23), it needed a new mirror and tacho cable which I bought from wemoto whom I’d recommend. It needed a bulb in the rev counter which only cost a couple of pounds and we’re waiting for the new front tyre to come back from the garage (£68). We think that’s all it needs for it’s MOT but it won’t idle evenly at all. In fact after getting it started we found that it often wouldn’t fire so a  neighbour suggested a new spark plug (£4.78) which worked a treat. The old one looked fine but we’ve been told that the ceramic can crack inside and cause arcing. We’ve drained the old fuel and put clean new fuel in, and also taken the air filter out, cleaned that in petrol and re-oiled it. It’s still running rough and it’s very difficult to regulate the revs. Sometimes they’re so low it’s stalling and at others it revs to 4 or 5 thousand on it’s own. We’ve bought a manual but neither of us are confident stripping the carb as we don’t have a replacement so it’s going to a bike mechanic this Friday.

While we’ve been doing this I went and did my CBT on Saturday with Bikewise. I’d recommend them highly as the instructors (especially ours though I may be biased) are patient, understanding and very good teachers. It was a long (9 hours training!) cold day. Every so often it would rain. I was crap! To be honest I was expecting to be better than I was and was really embarrassed at my lack of skills. I could not control the bike. I couldn’t get the hang of the bite at all and stalled almost every time I pulled off as I kept my foot on the brake too long. When trying to stop in a controlled manner (ahem!) I was repeating front brake, back brake, clutch, stop in my head and then not applying enough pressure to the brakes and then putting my feet down in a desperate attempt to stop the bike! Forget gears; I can’t think that fast! How the hell do I get about in my car?! After this fun part came the crazy figure 8’s and U turns. No matter how often I did it I couldn’t get the hang of opening the throttle up loads, getting the bite and controlling the speed with the back brake whilst doing a figure 8. In all fairness I would not be able to do it in a straight line! If I felt like I was losing the bike, I let go of the throttle. I was trying to control the speed of the bike by the throttle and my instructor, bless him with his endless patience, would explain it all again. He’d tell me that the throttle did not relate to speed which was controlled by the clutch and rear brake. I did tell him that I understood what he was telling me to do (he is a good teacher) but try as I might, my hands and feet wouldn’t do it! He (i’m sure to give me confidence) said that he’d been watching me and on occasion I had done it and only needed practice – I told you he was a star. I wasn’t controlled enough for the figure 8’s either and couldn’t get the hang of watching the cone not my hands. I kept almost crashing. We had little time to get through everything so once we knew what we were supposed to do, we had to move on.  I had every sympathy for our instructor as he had 3 pupils to teach for the day. One seemed to me to be doing brilliant but obviously lacked confidence as was proven by his refusal to go out on the road at the end of the day. The other spent most of the time convinced she couldn’t do any of it and on the verge of giving up and me who was willing to give any of it a go but was failing miserably! The poor guy, as I said, had tons of patience and said he would stay as long as we wanted until we could do it or wanted to go home but light would soon be against us and we’d barely covered the CBT criteria.  At the end of the day, knowing it would be dark soon, he gave us the option of going on the road. Scared as I was, I asked if he thought we were capable and he assured me that he wouldn’t suggest it if he didn’t think so.  Although I wanted to avoid it, I knew it would either be a postponement or a waste of his and my time if I didn’t. I agreed. It was a long couple of hours. As I said, one of us dropped out and the other poor student was nervous of any speed. We weren’t really doing high speeds but it does feel quicker on a bike doesn’t it. The problem was the danger of doing less than 20mph on a 50mph road. Anyway, at the end he gave me my certificate to tell me I’d passed. I feel more nervous than ever about being on the road now I know how I should be riding – how many lifesaver looks?! – I’m surprised I had as few encounters as I did all those years ago.  I have been out again (last night) on the scooter as my neighbour was itching to go out but I didn’t really like it. I was thrown all over the place with every bump, I can’t seem to steer properly and over or under steer all the time. I still don’t brake properly and I don’t feel safe at all! Thank goodness it’s an automatic. Considering I normally drive a Disco the same as the one on the right, which is like driving a tank (not that I’d know) it’s not surprising I feel a little exposed! I don’t think I’ll ever get the hang of this throttle, feather clutch, rear brake malarchy and dread going out on the 125. I will though but don’t worry, you’re all safe. I will be taking it to the industrial estate when everyone has gone home and will practice on there.

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