Tag Archives: motorcycles

Spend Spend Spend – What Some More – Again?

It’s been a while since I lasted reported upon my Back Lane Behemoth…

Of late there seemed to be a indefinable ‘something’ wrong with it. It just didn’t feel quite so smooth and effortless as normal. Something mysterious amiss. Cue Andy – of Earle Brothers Motorcycles (of Warnford, Hampshire) to knock at my door and ask to see the bike. Well it didn’t take long for him to diagnose a knackered final transmission and book the Yamaha in for repairs. That, in itself, would be expensive enough, but sadly your favourite literary and gastronomic genius made the fiscal situation considerably worse when the time came to transfer funds from his account to that of Earle Brothers. My machine was waiting to be returned to me – looking all refreshed and wonderful…

…when suddenly, as I was in the middle of an on-line bank transfer, Windows decided to update. This meant that the system slowed to a crawl – eventually stopping all together mid-transfer. Now my Toshiba laptop – the one I create my Earplug Adventures on – has been known to drive me to distraction before: but this time it over-stepped the mark. It was late in the day: the bike was loaded in the van: the shop was on the phone- wanting to know where the payment was: and my poxy laptop had decided to go on vacation. I couldn’t even use another computer because I was already logged on. Something had to change. I saw only one recourse open to me. I needed to do to this computer what I’ve done to every other computer I’ve owned. It was time for the Toshiba to die! In a split second it was dashed to the floor. As you can probably imagine, laptops and concrete floors are not a match made in heaven….

But at least it logged me off the Internet banking site, and I was able to complete the transaction in the nick of time on another computer. As a result of my impetuosity, it became necessary for me to spend a further £450 (on top of the bike repair) on a new laptop…

But at least I managed to get a fifty pound discount on the new HP, so it wasn’t all bad. But that’s a total of three quarters of a grand up in smoke. It’s expensive – having a temper like mine. I wonder how long this laptop will last.

My Four-Fendered Friend

Okay, I took the title from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but that’s how I feel my ‘modern classic’ Toyota Corolla treats me. Yet again – for the  eighth time in a row – it has passed its annual safety and emissions test, known in Britain as the (dreaded) MOT. Guess it was a “thank you” for all the money I spent on it during the past year. Or maybe it enjoys sitting on the hardstanding beside it’s cousin – the Yamaha XJR1300 – another ‘modern classic’. Yamaha make many of Toyota’s engines you know: maybe their hearts came from the same factory.  Happy Nipponese buddies, watching the world go by through my car port opening…

I Won’t Grow Old Gracefully! Do You Hear me? I Refuse!

In 1985 my wife and I needed a joint temporary passport. I don’t remember why, but we did. Now, generally speaking, passport photos make the passport holder look like either a startled hare; a somnolent zombie; or the ugliest bastard in town. Not so we two, I feel…

I think I might have passed for the drummer in a Californian soft rock band; and she would have been our lead singer, no question.  But the years that followed had the same entropic effect upon me as it did everyone else. Eventually it became so bad that I felt compelled to post my first Tooty’s Fashion For Fogeys on this very site. In that opening salvo I displayed an uncanny ability to wear beige without appearing a doddery old fool who watches re-runs of Judge Judy, but doesn’t realise they’re re-runs and has to get up and go to the toilet every commercial break…

…even if I really do. By and large, I think I almost pulled off a perfect deception. Particularly when I added this sort of thing…

…in later blogs.

But, just thirteen months after posting the original T F for F, my son noted the clothes I’d put on in order to walk the dogs. They included those self-same beige trousers; an olive green jacket; and a pair of brown walking shoes. He said:

“You’re looking very…beige…today. Are you on your way out to buy a grey flat cap so that you can complete the uniform and look like an old fogey?”

I checked the mirror. A look of horror stared back at me. Without hesitation I proceeded to a local haberdashery, where I purchased an over-priced tub of colour dye. It accompanied the trousers into the washing machine…

And, several hours later, I’d shed that look of antiquity entirely. Well not entirely, perhaps: but at least I didn’t look like I had a Hyundai i10 or a Kia Picanto in the car port…

And look, matching socks…

And now, judging from the undoubted inelegance I display in this photo, you can see why my wife was the international dancer; and I spent the 1970s pissing about and freezing my bollocks off on motorbikes…

Note the bike: a Yamaha – naturally. Ostend, Belgium, December 1978. So cold that the butane in the gas heater froze and the damned thing exploded. Now that’s something you wouldn’t catch me doing at my age! Talking of which: check out this hair and beard from 1988…

Oh God, I’m so depressed! Where’s that Californian soft rock band when you most need them?

Spend Spend Spend – What, Some More?

The left-hand front indicator on my fabulous Yamaha had always waggled slightly in the 85MPH breeze. I had attempted to attach it more firmly with superglue, but to no avail. So it came as no surprise when this happened…

My first reaction was “Gonna need some better glue.” So I spent a few pounds on some Araldite, which (if you’re unfamiliar with the name) is one of those adhesives that combine two tubes of goo together to make a fast-acting glop that sets like iron. Well it worked: the indicator was back on and not going anywhere. Unfortuately it didn’t work either. Obviously something must have broken inside the indicator whilst it had flapped around like a startled duck as I rode home. Why didn’t I check that the light actually illuminated before I spent money on expensive glue? Duh – stupid old duffer!  

Two days later…

Not the genuine ‘Yamaha’ article, but an excellent ‘pattern’ part that matched the ‘real McCoy’ perfectly. 

But when I placed it beside the right-hand indicator, I realised that the abortionist who had converted the standard XJR1300 into a semi-street fighter had, for some unaccountable reason, swapped out the original indicators for some half-sized inferior kind…

Two days later, and now fifty Pounds poorer, Tooty the Wrench Wielder is happy again…

Fitting them to the machine couldn’t have been easier. One spanner and some cable snips was all it took. But discovering the cables to which they needed to be attached was another story. They were nowhere to be seen. Conspicuous by their absense, I think they call it. The new lights should have been ‘plug and play’. But, as I was to discover, there were no plugs – at all…

But eventually I was able to locate some spindly wires protruding from beneath the fuel tank. So taking some block connectors (that I always seem to have somewhere in one of my tool boxes – don’t know where they come from), I relocated the electrical unions inside the headlight shell. Luckily there was just enough room inside there to allow me to reassemble the headlight and refit it to the bike without stressing or breaking anything. Et voila…

Bigger. Brighter. Safer. So then it was just a matter of chucking some fuel in the beastie’s tank…

…and taking it for a test ride that, somehow, managed to last three times as long as it needed to. But that’s bikes for you: once you’re on-board, you don’t really want to get off again.

Spend Spend Spend – A Hell of a Lot More!

The previous owner of my beautiful Yamaha…

…didn’t use it very much. In fact, in the whole year before I bought it, the bike only travelled twelve miles. Two miles to the dealership: four miles to the testing station; four miles back to the dealership; and two miles home.

“Well,” thought I, “low milage equates to good condition, right?”

Not necessarilly, it seems. Unused, the tyres have hardened (and continue to harden) to the consistency of plastic – requiring immediate replacement. The oil seals on the clutch slave cylinder have followed suit. And the wrong engine oil (his – not mine: I replaced it immediately, but it was too late) has contaminated the clutch plates – leading to slippage at high revs. Result? Set of tyres, slave cylinder replacement, and new clutch. Pain. Booked into the shop – awaiting a slot. Guess I’ll have to get my fun in my other toy…

Come to think about it…I’ve spent rather a lot on that recently too. Perhaps I should take up knitting.

Does Eight Seconds Really Make That Much Difference?

When I “do a selfie” I don’t hold the camera at arm’s length: I utilize the camera’s built-in timer. This makes it appear that it’s not a selfie at all, and that someone else took the picture. But sometimes, when I’m not paying close enough attention, I might possibly set it to the wrong time duration before it goes click. Most cameras have a 2 second delay and a 10 second  delay. If the light is bad – or if someone is approaching, and I don’t want to appear a complete narcissist to them – the tiny icons on-screen could look similar enough for a simple mistake to occur. Two could be confused with ten. But does this really matter? After all, it’s just a photo of little old me looking as good as he can, and hoping that he can fool the world into thinking that he might be cool and in full command of his corporeal existence. Well yes it does! This is what I look like after peering myopically into the camera’s sun-drenched LCD screen and selecting the wrong icon…

Then, to compound this error (and after moving to another site because someone became curious at my behaviour and started hanging around) I carelessly set the camera up facing into the Sun…

So, sorry, although I found the right icon this time, you’ll have to imagine how cool and in command of my corporeal existence I actually look.

I Expenda on a Fenda Extenda

Back in late 2020, when I was rediscovering the joys/pains of motorcycling, my boots often looked like this…

And the bike’s engine was even worse. So I trawled the Internet for an answer to my muddy problem. I found (and fitted) this…

My Fenda Extenda (terrible name, but very discriptive) was a Godsend, and it made the bike look nicer too…

So when I stepped up to its replacement, I was ahead of the curve. I didn’t wait until my header pipes and engine casings were all covered in shit: I bought another Fenda Extenda first…

Now if it’s any bloody good I have no idea: but it  certainly looks  nice…

Of course, on a machine this handsome, a rusty bucket would probably look fabulous.

P.S I am in no way affiliated with the Fenda Extenda’s manufacturers – Pyramid Plastics; I just like the product.

P.P.S The magnetic tank bag featured here is the same one on both bikes – made by Oxford (and really neat). It just shows the vast difference in the size of the bikes.

P.P.P.S It may be a coincidence, but don’t you think that the bikes (although very different) look rather similar in their stance and bearing? I must be a fan of modern retro.

 

Impetuosity isn’t reserved for the young 2: Driven by Necessity

When I bought my awesomely ridiculous Yamaha XJR1300 it came with a pair of expensive after-market exhausts (quite nice, but standard would have been better) and a pair of stupid little headlights, which looked like this…

But it wasn’t the aesthetics of the ‘streetfighter’ lights that really bothered me; it was the fact that the resulting beam of light was coloured brown and wasn’t even suitable for a bicycle, let alone a machine capable of 140mph (220kph). The first time I rode at night (in 22 years, I might add) it (to use a local regional vernacular) ‘properly shit me up’. I couldn’t see where I was going!  In an effort to correct the situation, my first port of call (the next day) was a bike breakers emporium, where I was told: “No we haven’t got one, but if we did, we’d have to ask a hundred pounds for a tatty used one.” And in answer to my questioning “Ugh, why so much?” the owner of said emporium informed me that: “You’ve got a cult classic there: prices are going up all the time.”

This news was both good and bad. Good that the bike is worth more than I paid for it. Bad that parts are hard to find and expensive. So, being impetuous I went on Ebay and chose a random 8″ motorcycle headlight and duly paid my £50 to buy it. Three days later this happened…

But, upon reading the label, my impetuosity appeared to have backfired on me. It was a replica headlight for a 1980 Yamaha RD350LC. Oops. So I (impetuously) set to work  stripping the brown pool devices from the XJR and setting about the replica headlight with a hacksaw and file. An hour later…

“Ta-dah!” as they say. And it works too – brightly.

But that isn’t all. When I first showed the ‘new’ bike to my  sister, she eyed my well-worn jeans and said: “Right, you’ve got to get some proper trousers now.” So, once more I cast my gaze to Ebay, but no one selling leather trousers seems to be the same shape as me. But, as desperation set in, impetuosity reared it’s handsome head once more. I spotted a pair of trousers with a 34″ waist. My size! But how long were the legs? Most sellers didn’t mention this, which I thought was extremely stupid. But in the description this seller stated that he was 6′ 5″ (tall – like very). I am six feet and half an inch (still, surprisingly).  But, I reasoned, a lot of my height is in my legs: this guy is probably tall in the body. Logic? No, not really. Impetuous? Yes, probably. I bought them. They arrived whilst I was wiring the Yamaha’s headlights. So, bouyed with success, I tried them on…

Now you could be forgiven to thinking that they are slightly baggy. And maybe they are, a little. But when I place my feet on the slightly rear-set footpegs of the bike, the trousers  fit exactly. They couldn’t be more perfect if a tailor had made them for me. I’m getting rather keen on the impetuosity stuff. I’m even beginning to wonder if I’m not being guided from beyond the veil. Actually I’m convinced I am. And I can’t wait to see what I do impetuously next!

Two-Wheeled Tooty: Confidence Regained

Once upon a time, five years before he was named Tooty (in 1981), a young country bumpkin was talked into switching from Honda motorcycles to Yamaha. Here he is posing  with his mighty steed – a Yamaha RD125DX…

He and the Yamaha gelled instantly and he would become a life-long fan of the brand. But life being life – that is unknowable and often incomprehensible – in time his situation changed, and motorcycling  became a thing of the past. Then, in 2020 (21 years after quitting bikes), he took the plunge and returned to the fold…

Of course his mount was a Yamaha. A YBR125 to be exact. But it wasn’t the best that ever escaped that manufacturers stable. It wasn’t Japanese for a start! But he didn’t know that when he bought it. And he never really forgave the machine, despite the fact that it was totally reliable and never let him down. But he never felt entirely confident upon it – especially in traffic. Poor suspension: lack lustre brakes: feeble single cylinder engine were its major bug-bears – though Tooty had hoots of fun rushing down gravel-strewn, muddy-as-heck, and cow shit-ridden back lanes on it. Look at the picture above: does that really say “Confident rider”? Nah. What he really needed was something that would give him back the two-wheeled exuberance of his long-lost youth. Something with a bit of oomph. Another Yamaha obviously. But one built in Japan.  Regardez vous por favor…

Ten months later. Yup, I’m back – and on a cult classic too! But I think I might pass on the gravel-strewn, muddy-as-heck, cow shit-ridden back lanes for now. Maybe an off-road bike for those. Might have to get some motocross boots though. Hmm, sounds fun…

Impetuosity isn’t reserved for the young.

For the past year I’ve done several things on impulse. My carelessness has reminded me that I was once young and did all the stupid things impetuous young men do – often with regret when they went painfully wrong. So, if I have any sense, you would think that I might have learned something as I’ve grown older. Namely that it’s usually safer if you think something through before acting. But, as I approach the second half of my sixth decade, impetuosity seems to be taking control again. Recently, whilst out walking in the English countryside I was smitten by a sudden thought. An inquiry really. I don’t know why, but I had to know the answer. So I acted on impluse; and now I know that my willy is impervious to the common stinging nettle, but my scrotum is not. It’s not important, and it won’t enhance my life; but it’s good to know. But that paled into insignificance at my latest bout of impetuosity. Bored with the limited performance of my (shabbily-built Chinese-produced) Yamaha YBR125…

…I began trawling through the dreadfully limited stock of my local motorcycle dealers. I was looking for something affordable in the 300-500cc range. Instead I bought this…

Flipping heck it’s a monster. It’s a 2002 Yamaha XJR1300. It has three more cylinders than my 125; ten times the cubic capacity; and, I reckon, weighs more than all my previous bikes put together. What was I thinking? And I’m afraid that it’s going to hurt a lot more than that patch of stinging nettles did. But it’s my dream-bike: with impetuosity in control, how could NOT buy it?