vin_petrol: (honda_wing)
On the way to work this morning their seemed to be something a little odd about my bike. An unwillingness to move away from traffic lights. It felt like something blocking the fuel flow slightly. A few miles on I sensed it might be something to do with the rear brake. It seemed to be slowing the bike down when it shouldn't. "Ah well", I thought, "the brakes seized on a little. I've had that before. I'll get to work (only a few miles) and take a look at it there."

About one mile from the office I was waiting in a queue at traffic lights with a long sequence. I car came alongside, sounding its horn and the driver was gesturing at the rear of my bike. I looked down. My bike was ON FUCKING FIRE! The rear brake assembly was in flames! Not very big flames, but this is not something that is supposed to happen.

I got off the bike, put it on its centre stand, removed my rucksack from the back and pondered what to do next. There was nothing handy to extinguish it with. I had a horrible feeling I was just going to stand there and watch the whole thing consumed in a ball of flames. Fortunately, the woman in the queue in front of me noticed, and she got out and fetched me a small, spray fire extinguisher from her boot. One quick blast from that and I got the fire out.

I then wondered what to do next. The bike was still mobile, and the fire was out, so I took a chance and rode it the rest of the way to the office and parked it there. As it cooled it seems to have seized up, so it's no longer movable.

To be honest, that's probably the end of the bike. It's old and has done 97,000 miles. I said at the start of this year that if I was ever faced with another expensive repair bill for it, that would be it for the bike, and it would go in a skip and I would get another. Years of riding on British roads in the winter take it out of bike. This would be an expensive repair, as the rear disk is mangled, and they're stupidly expensive for my motorbike: I seem to recall the last one I bought was £180.

It's had a good life, so I suspect I'll call some breakers in Leeds and see who'll give me a few hundred quid for it as spares, then get another low mileage example of a VFR (750 or 800). £2-3000 seems to be the price for old bikes of this type that have been used only on sunny Sunday afternoons.

Yeh, I could possibly try to claim "fire damage" insurance, but I've a horrible feeling that that might show I should have stopped sooner rather than ride on, and they would just laugh at my claim. Anyway, I know from experience that any claims on insurance then load your policy for years afterwards. The difference between the excess and subsequent policy loading for five years, and the repair bill is likely to be small.

So I think today is the end of an era...
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vin_petrol: (honda_wing)
Random thoughts on the music that runs through your head when riding a motorbike at speed.

Danger Zone, sung by Kenny Loggins (the song from Top Gun that plays near the start when F-14s are taking off from the aircraft carrier). Likely to pop into your head anytime you've seen Top Gun recently. Fills you with the urge to get a Kawasaki Ninja and race against jet fighters down the side of a runway, like Tom Cruise's stunt double did. You need to remember that motorbikes do *not* come equipped with ejector seats and parachutes.

The Chain by Fleetwood Mac. Theme from Grand Prix on BBC. When I was on The Isle of Man for the TT in 1991, the local radio station would interview all the TT riders, and get their top five favourite songs. Pretty much every single one would choose this as one of their top five. Likely to pop into your head on hot, sunny days, when there's a heat haze rising off the tarmac. The bass line starts up when you're waiting at the traffic lights, and the lead guitar screams in when they change to amber and you take off...

Bat out of Hell by Meat Loaf. A dangerous one this, as it often appears in your head after *ahem* "relationship troubles", and is just a little self-destructive. Although "I'm gonna hit the highway like a battering ram on a silver black phantom bike" is a perfectly reasonable statement of intent, the "I never see the sudden curve until its way too late" part is to be discouraged. "Dying at the bottom of a pit in the blazing sun, torn and twisted at the foot of a burning bike" is right out! Lots of screaming guitars always helps a song.

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vin_petrol

February 2013

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