Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Hibernating Hamish

This is winter, often referred to as the off season by groups such as surfers, dinghy sailors and of course motorcyclists. While our dinghy is safely de-rigged and sitting on old tyres with it’s keel in the air, my bike doesn't get the same treatment, or at least it didn't used to. Unfortunately, Hamish the WeeStrom will have to go into partial hibernation.

Looking back through old blog posts, you can see Wee Hamish had a hard winter in 13/14. This time last year there were sticking brakes and (unrelated) sliding through the snow, shiny side down. This winter I wanted to ride through, enjoying the comfort and protection offered by the best bike I've ever owned while remaining willing to take the car if there was call for it. After all, now we have the Fiat Panda, driving to work isn't actually all that expensive. It’s just that it doesn't do anything for the soul.

It didn't come as any surprise when the brakes started binding again. For a start, I’m pretty sure I didn't do a great job overhauling them last year. The roads were also pretty heavily gritted, evidenced by the huge build up of crud on just about every part of the bike. I've been using the Scott Oiler stuff to try and protect the bike but there seems to be nothing you can do to protect the brake calipers. Apparently this is a well known problem with these calipers and Bandit and SV owners all suffer the same way.

Having learned my lesson, I decided to park the bike up and book it in with Alan. I've got to the point now where I understand that £60 of his time and lubricants is more valuable than a months worth of me making a mess of things. For £60 Alan was able to free off and tidy up the front calipers, make the stand spring back like they actually mean it, cleaned up the rear caliper, correctly adjust the chain, tyre pressures and the clutch. That’s probably five or six hours of me not quite doing the job right verses £60 and time to sit in a coffee shop reading Ride magazine before riding away on a bike that feel right and trustworthy.  Maybe I’m getting old. Possibly I’m not a real man anymore. Just maybe it’s a no-brainer.

Unfortunately it wasn't all good news. One piston on one caliper has pushed out a dust seal. It’s safe to ride and not the end of the world. Alan packed it with grease and tells me I’ll be fine for a few months. It’s not that I don’t trust him either. There’s just something about those front brakes that attracts crud and I don’t want to not have a working bike when Spring get here.

Thus, Wee Hamish goes onto light duties.My daily commute, once again, falls to Angie’s YBR125. I never saw myself as a man who had a winter hack. Fair play to it though, that YBR never skips a beat. Sure I've had to take bits off to add more grease because Lord knows, Yamaha don’t like getting those moving parts all greasy in the factory. I've also had to tighten just about every nut and bolt up at one point or another. Unlike my bike, which makes it pretty clear when I've done a bad job of something, the YBR is fairly immune to my attentions. With it only sniffing at petrol, there’s an extra few quid to spend on bits for Wee Hamish as well!

Thus I have an moral dilemma on my hands. I was abstaining from unnecessary use of petrol last year during Lent. It was an actual commitment that made a difference in many ways so naturally, I was going to do it again. The problem is, Easter’s unusually late this year. When Lent hits we’ll be looking at bringing Wee Hamish out to run rings around those fair weather bikers still getting their legs back after a winter of riding a sofa.

Can I bring Lent forward? If not, I would be riding the YBR all the way to late April. Tough call! I may need to give something else up for part of Lent.

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