So as many, if not most, of you know … I am currently without a bike. I sold my K1200S a couple seasons ago, as I am wrapping up a multi-decades long writing project with which I am hoping to ‘save the world’. Alas, in committing to this most benevolent (but not altruistic) endeavor, I have had to live without an income for as many years, and I am not (nor ever was) a wealthy man.
And, I am much poorer, now. Hopefully one day soon, though, I will be in a position to be able to afford another bike (of my liking), again.
Yet I keep on with/in the community, from time to time, because the friends and connections one makes with people in the sport and community are often of a life-long nature. And that is a wonderful thing. And – sure – you bet – every single time a sport-bike goes wailing past me, my ears perk up and my pulse-rate increases measurably.
Something one never loses, I guess.
Anyway, my phone rings the other day, with a caller whose number I cannot recognize. Who should be on the other end, but a young man who just happens to be my god-son. We haven’t seen each other for a few years, because life gets busy and involved and all that, especially for people in their early twenties. Turns out that the young man, after having dealt with some life-situations and other issues finally went out and obtained his motorcycle learner’s license (at 26) and bought himself a most reasonable/standard Kawasaki ‘500R’ twin as a learning machine, and he was hoping that I would cruise out to White Rock to join him as his licensed escort rider on a few rides, while he learns his basic skills.
Sadly, I had to tell him that I no longer own my bike, and that unless I could borrow a ride once in a while, he would have to settle for me in meeting with him and giving him pointers, and perhaps some basic skills training and lessons in a large, abandoned parking lot somewhere.
Which I did, today.
He was very tentative and shaky at first, on our way to the lot, but as his drills and exercises progressed over the hour, he quickly became more confident, smooth, and solid as he went. Then, after the riding stuff was done, he wanted me to show him how to check and adjust the basics, so we knelt down to carefully look at things a bit more closely, so I could show him what was what with the chain adjustments and such. Alas, he points to the rear brake caliper banjo bolt and asks if the drip of wet/fresh brake fluid should be there, which raises a bunch of questions …
So, we go back to his place and put the rig up on its center-stand, to look-see. The machine was actually quite greasy and dirty, and whoever he bought it from certainly didn’t keep it in a pristine state of cleanliness or maintenance. Anyway, I show him how to lube and adjust the chain, first, which then reveals that the rear wheel was set in the swing arm at a slightly cock-eyed angle, as the little marks for the chain adjuster cages were off by just over one notch on each side. I loosen everything off, straighten the wheel out, adjust it so that the chain is at a perfect tension, and then torque everything down nicely for him (getting all greasy while is semi-dress shorts as I go).
But – now the brake rotor rubs loudly against the pads on one side, and upon closer inspection we find that the whole caliper is twisted out of shape and out of place. BIG problem. Whoever last installed the rear wheel, didn’t ensure that the caliper mounting bracket torque arm was correctly secured on the little tab welded onto the inside of the swing-arm on that side of the bike, and upon the very first application of the rear brake, the caliper spun a 20 degree revolution, to become lodged against the swing-arm surface … and that’s how it has been since whenever that last dolt mounted the wheel in that fashion.
Anyway, I showed him how to remove the securing hardware, drop the wheel, and re-install all the components as they should have been done in the first place, and now other than a seriously misshapen brake caliper and such, things are again somewhat sorted out. That caliper will have to be replaced, of course, and I am hoping that we’ll be able to locate a used one out there somewhere at a reasonable cost.
But there were some lessons to be learned, in all of that: which is, that all too often beginner bike riders/buyers look at the overall shapes and looks of a bike, and become mesmerized by all the bright colors and shiny bits, rather than looking more deeply at the tell-tale (but subtle) signs revealing the true state and condition of the machine.
Bikes just do that, to people … they seduce them with minimalist coverings and oh-so-slender/sexy lines. Yet other than that and a few other things that hadn’t been repaired of left properly set, I think the bike will lend itself as an excellent and practical learning machine. It can tip over, without a bunch of multi-thousand dollar damage occurring to all the plastic little bits!
And watching him taking that bike into straddle, with all the verve and anticipation of a young person in full stride … somehow got me to thinking about Dan (Grendel) and his recent passing, his sons, and their introduction and passion toward the motorcycle sport, as well.
Dan was a wonderful man. Somehow I got to thinking about him today, and I truly do kind of miss him.
He was just pure mensch!
But – I did take my god-son out for a spin on the back of my bike a way back when he was just a wee little tyke, and now … of course … (since way back then, actually) … he too has been bitten by the ‘bike bug’.
To all the good people in the world out there, and all of you who I consider my friends … live life large, fully charged and with passion … and try to never allow an opportunity to make a difference in this world pass you by.
And that’s all I wanted to say.