Sometimes the bear eats you… And then, sometime you eat the bear.

Owning a lot of old bikes give you a choice every morning that you want to go for a ride.  Which bike is up for the ride?  Which one is in the condition to take on the ride?  How long is the ride and how uncomfortable will it be (The Parilla I had would do 200 miles in a day no problem, I just don’t know if anyone could survive riding it that far)?  Do I have a passenger?

My current “go-to” bike is a Matchless 500cc.  I have it completely sorted.  It just runs beautifully, and starts quickly as long as I DO EXACTLY WHAT THE START PROTOCOL REQUIRES.

That is…

  • Fuel on.
  • Tickle carb until my thumb has a spot of gas on it
  • Open compression release and hold
  • Switch off
  • kick it over about 6-8 times to get all that wonderful gas in the combustion chamber
  • Close compression release
  • Switch on
  • With the bike on the centerstand, left foot on the peg and right foot on the kickstart lever, rotate the engine until it’s just before compression
  • Push down smoothly and quickly on the kickstarter
  • Bruise inner thigh on the oil sump cap
  • It should try to kick you over the handlebars.  If it doesn’t do that or it doesn’t start, repeat
  • It should start within three kicks.  If it doesn’t, you either skipped a step above or you should just start over

Seems like a lot of stuff, to remember, but when done correctly it only takes about 45 seconds.  I usually am on the road in 2 minutes after a short warm-up.

But then, every once in awhile, you are rolling down the road, big grin on your face, the big thumper slowly taking all the feeling out of the right side of your body, and…

clankity, clank…. clank….

Those of you with the sharpest of eyes will note that the exhaust bracket at the bottom of the pipe is broken.  This happened once before at the beginning of summer, and I welded it up.  This time it broke just past my weld — I cooled it too fast and it got brittle, or it was just crappy steel.  Doesn’t matter which at that moment, I had to get my understanding girlfriend/partner/partofmybrain and get a trailer to get home.  On retrospect I could have let it cool and used some bailing wire, but I didn’t have any bailing wire (now I do…)

90 lost minutes and a couple hours this weekend fabricating a bracket that is thicker, out of known metal…

You just, well, let that stuff go.  It’s a story to tell.