The School of Hard Knocks is in Session

There’s a trick that gets played on your heart every now and then. A hand being shown, edging you to either do something or not pursue it at all. Your “gut feeling”, if you will. Selling something or doing something, maybe even saying or asking something which may or may not exact some price on either your heart, conscious or your very soul.

Avid readers and even newly-joined, I have made many mistakes in my life, and Monday I nearly made another grave one. Nearly selling my most trusty mount ever, at a price not even half what she would be worth if you take into account all the blood, sweat and hard work it took myself, the Bike Addict and Mechanical MacGyver to get her to a point where she doesn’t even drip… well a drop.

The feeling that made me change my mind? A bullhook knuckle sandwich in my temple, shaking my hands and shaming my heart, making me ask myself “what do you think you’re doing?!”. A retro-fitted poltergeist oil slick making me fall right on my tuckis (a person’s behind, for those who don’t know), slamming me so hard I realize what a mistake I nearly made.

See there’s something magical about a man (or woman) and their machine, when they come to a complete connection, an asphalt coated tri-star spacial heart-throb of a link between machines of both steel and animation. When you get there, why sever it?

Just because your bike is small doesn’t mean you need to get rid of it to go bigger, I say this once again, preaching to the choir (being a hypocrite, to be straight forward). Bigger isn’t always better, and if you need to sacrifice a trusty steed to get to it then maybe you’re following the wrong path.

Go in peace, ride safe and ride respectfully.

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A clean and maintained kitty is a happy kitty.

As I’ve learned since my very first little 125cc Honda, servicing and maintenance of your bike makes ALL the difference. Doing a top to bottom is essential, and skipping even one part can have some draw backs or even worse.

For instance my old beater, Dodgy, used to backfire horribly with engine braking and even made me think I was about to burn valves. After swapping out the old spark plugs (which weren’t even for that bike), she was purring like a kitten again on all 4.

My newest horse has also been horribly neglected for years (service wise), being ridden once every few months and standing between. She had not been serviced for about 2 years or longer, with the logic “hey we didn’t ride her that much so the parts were still good, don’t worry”. For those who don’t know, a lot can go wrong when a bike stands for months on end, such as engine oil escaping from vital areas completely due to obvious gravity, as well as oil in wheel bearings drawing to the lower side. Oil becomes awful when standing for a long time which is why when restoring an old car or bike you drain out the old oil completely and replace it.

Dusty had been standing for a long while, with a tank of petrol more or less half full. Now due to chemistry, this can cause tank rust on the inside with a steel tank like the one our beloved little monster has. This rust became so bad it clogged up my reserve tap, making it seem like I had almost no petrol left when on reserve which made me stall less than a kilometer from a gas station which I should ACTUALLY have made due to simple math and usual petrol usage, but with a strong petrol pump on Dusty it clogged up that reserve flow and made me stall. I changed the fuel filter but not even a month later it got clogged up again to the point where my horse sounded like she had flemgh in her throat.

If you have an old steel tank, make time one day and drain it, and then shake it around and see what comes out. If it looks like you threw Robertsons Spices in your tank then DING DING DING you are the winner. Have your tank religned at a reliable dealer such as I did at TRD Motorcycles in Boksburg here in South Africa, where they clean the tank out and relign it with a coating to stop the petrol and water eating the tank, and believe me it’s worth it. THEN change your petrol filter.

Make sure whatever service parts you buy, they are for your bike model or else you may struggle, waste money or completely just become aggravated.

Tires are another topic all together. Buy tires that suit your needs, not how cool they look. The Muppets I bought Dusty from put on “X-race tires” or whatever that means, saying they are so star-spangled awesome because they’re racing tires, meanwhile it’s a soft compound tire which doesn’t seem to like rain as far as I’ve noted as well as eating away fairly quickly. If I were to start drifting with Dusty then yes, but grip wise with the new exhaust we at The Bike Addict installed the tire literally can’t keep up with me, it’s like putting a turbo Busa engine in an old mini with those tiny tires just spinning the first 40m. So if you want your tires to take you a long way, maybe look at sports touring tires, if you want to look fast then go for a more aggressive road tire and so on.

If you see a problem on your bike, deal with that first before doing any custom beautification such as a spray job. For instance an acquaintance of mine had his bike sprayed, meanwhile his bike doesn’t hold charge and he can’t get into 3rd gear.. So when spending money on your bike, prioritize.

Ride safe, ride often and for goodness sake greet me when you ride past me.

Negotiations For The Terms Of Your Surrender.. Are Over.

The past while The Bike Addict and myself have been fiddling with my little yellow dust kicker. And… I’ll tell you.. People have had mixed opinions haha. Some have come at me with the “holy cow that’s awesome” and the “oh okay”, but one that just sort of bothers me is the comment our page got about how we’re just stupid kids playing with our tonka toys.

Now in a world where brothers kill each other, men die before their fathers, women lose themselves, presidents steal from the people and evil monsters kill the dog who saved my life over a 125cc Honda, how can people still be cruel enough to put down their biker brothers and sisters?

Life is cruel sometimes, and a lot of the time we bikers take the brunt of it. I got new and interesting/cute/funny patches on my cut last week, and you should see the looks people give me. Reading me like a book, judging me, running through their heads briefly “I wonder how much laws he’s broken, how wrong he’s done.”

Half of the world adores us, my friends. And unfortunately the other half thinks less of us, some more than others. But in an evil-ish age like this, why can’t we stand together? If people in cars won’t look out for us, what else can we do but look out for each other?

One day I was riding with my previous horse Dodgy and I stopped next to the road for 10 seconds to improve my glove feel. 3 bikers going the opposite direction slowed down hastily one after the other and gave me the “are you okay?” finger point. THAT is respect, THAT is why we do what we do.

We are a band of brothers and sisters, fighting for unity and freedom in the chaos of this new world. The “Smiles Per Gallon” doesn’t just apply to the people around you, it applies to the smiles you receive as well..

So ride good, ride safe, and look out for each other. You’re not alone out there, you have a family of 600 thousand PLUS put there, you just need to show them you’re there for them too.

Have Bike? Will ride. Now smile 🙂

Rule number 32, Enjoy The Little Things.

As said in the movie Zombieland, rule #32: Enjoy The Little Things. Or in this case, enjoy what the little things do.

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The previous week I took it upon myself to finally complete Dusty’s service. You know.. Finish what I forgot. Namely I ordered the Petrol Filter and Air Filter. Needless to say we had to remove some things, namely a tank which meant sucking out petrol. After doing so, The Bike Addict and myself discovered a sad fact, my petrol tank was rusting inside as most old bike tanks do. Now for those who don’t know, finding rust in your petrol is pretty bad, like “discovering your car used to be white before it was red” bad. How bad? Well the rust was so built up in the old Fuel Filter that when I turned it upside down it turned into a rust pepper shaker, perfect for outdoor braai’s (barbecue’s for our friends across the lake) and parties.

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Rust gathering at the bottom of our fuel container

After blowing out the muddy-like petrol from the old filter with a disgusted face, we worked out on the new one which had notably bigger nozzles and with some little work and effort it was placed in… well… it’s place.

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Old, cruddy air filter and old, cruddy, fuel filter

During this, the air filter was also replaced, which took minimal effort. A few screws, a few gasps, some air blowing on the old one for laughs and then finally doing what was meant to be done.. The filter was fit, snug as a bug. Looking sharp I might add.

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Old vs New.

Then we put the beastie back together, checking here and there for any problems (of which none were found) and then it was time for a test ride.

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Now, for those who have even ridden an under-fuelling vehicle.. It’s terrible. Splattering if you open the throttle too widely, with a sort of power bleed. When taking the newly sorted mini-monster for a test ride I rediscovered my love for this yellow Honda (YET AGAIN!!). Power feels like it’s increased, as if I have power on demand, it no longer feels like she’s “scraping the ceiling” when I fully open her up too fast and all over performance (and fun) is improved.

Unfortunately, depending on how rusted my petrol tank is, my power will start becoming limited again as the new filter starts clogging up. So to fix this, I need to have my tank lined again on the inside and then replace the filter again along with it, but that I do another day as I’ve just ordered some major parts to continue our custom build for Dusty. But for now, the anticipation is killing me.

Ride safe, ride often and remember (as I’ve said): The little parts make a BIG difference.

Build a Bridge and get Over It. Except Stereotypes, Break Those Down Completely.

Good day neighbors, fellow bike enthusiasts and the like.

People have mowed down this idea of bikers over and over throughout the years. This horrible experience people have uhm.. well… experienced, has left them with this stereotype they are spreading across the country and the world. But come on, no one likes someone who does the stereotyping thing.

I’m sick and ti… No WE are sick and tired of this horrible image people project onto others, about what bikers act like and talk like and it has left a horrible taste in my mouth. YES there are those who deem themselves the percentage of hooligans that drink and ride, who mod their bikes to hooligan noise status. Those who break all the traffic rules and basically spread mayhem across the roads, leaving little kids thinking “holy cow, that’s what bikers are like” and some even think that’s “so cool”, and even grow up being like that and doing those things.

Honestly I can be reckless, I do take chances but I KNOW my limits and I look at the consequences before I act. Which is where people say how bikers are always the victim isn’t always right.. Hell it’s practically more a matter of the biker tried a risky move and that’s why the person suddenly didn’t see them.

If you ride, when you ride.. Think about the consequences of your actions. Because it’s not just your life on the line on a cleverly placed rocket beneath a tank of gas, because there are other people who can lose quite a lot if you hit them with a flying hunk of metal and rubber.

In all honesty, the biker stereotype is not just because of people over exaggerating the details of their biker encounter. The stereotypes are caused by reckless bikers and unfortunately, that one time you’re reckless or a little thoughtless is the time a group of girls see you doing a wheelie and landing on a windshield and then that image sticks.

When people see me in my gear for the first time, they think I’m probably a guy rolling in a club, drinking and racing with a fast bike. Showing off, revving my engine and all that nonsense (and yes, this has been said to me, so I’m not exaggerating). But people don’t know I’ve studied to be a Medic, that I have a Yorkie named Pepper, that I read Shakespeare and that I’m most days crazy and somewhat odd. That’s what people don’t get, that we’re human frigging beings… That we have jobs, that we have families, hobbies other than bikes, pets and that a lot of us actually do charity work.

So my request today, after my long irritating rant, is that we start breaking down this stereotype and this is something myself and The Bike Addict are discussing long and hard at the moment.

Show the world what bikers really are, let’s show them we are here to stay and that we’re better than the words they use to describe us.

Ride safe, ride often. Be cautious, be courteous.

KNEELING FOR THAT PRAYER EVERY TIME YOU GET ON YOUR HORSE

Wake up, breakfast, brush your teeth, put on your suit, dust off your saddle, ride with purpose.

For a long time I’ve been using my motorcycle, my horse to keep me sane and get me from home to work and the usual trips. But for the next 4 weeks I will be using my horse to not just transport me, but to better my mind.

Both The Bike Addict and myself now use our horses to get to class and back. Only difference is I’m living out-of-town while studying, which further raises the question of what my petrol usage would be if I’m studying and living out of town. Studying about 19km/11miles from where I’m living currently.

But contrary to popular belief it doesn’t matter how far you travel each day. But how many stops you make, how fast you travel taking in consideration what work load your bike can take, and the consistency of your speed DOES however matter.

How many times you stop:
If you stop many times on a trip, there will be a lot of engine working in place, changing gears etc, which results in more petrol usage.
Travel speed: What I’m talking about here is not just how fast you go, but how much speed your bike can comfortably handle. For instance my old 125cc Honda fared better at 40-60km/h(25-37 mph) than pushing her to 80-120km/h(50-75mph), which nearly halved my petrol usage.
Consistency: How you ride determines your petrol usage. If you get up to 80km/h(50miles/h) and then keep it within that range and then gradually bring it down, your petrol usage would be better because of consistency.

As a matter of fact, because of my consistency and amount of stops I make etc when I’m studying, my petrol usage is even better than my long distance petrol usage (for newbies, long distance usage is usually considerably better than in-town usage, because of less stops and constant speed).

To cut through the economic cheese… Despite my bike turning into a jet ski last Tuesday in a pond of water because of the heavy rain I get in this town and the 20km ride in rain, using my horse to study is one of the best decisions about this whole study business I could have made. Nothing calms one down like the sound of your love or a horse ride after a long tenuous day reading medical terms and trying to put the human respiratory system together.

With knowledge comes power, but with horse comes peace.

She’s Still Hooligan, But “Refined Hooligan”

With the first start the garage we were standing in started resonating, the ground we stood upon started to rumble as goosebumps appeared upon our stretched-out arms. Crows shouting their kraa, dogs barking in and hearts beating slower, skipping beats and thumping in our ears. And suddenly all is right with the world, balance is restored. A growling hooligan turned proper. She’s still a hooligan but “refined hooligan”.

Much work had to be done to turn our splattering, seemingly under-powered, rude, LOUD…. And I mean FRIGGING loud, like your neighbors shooting each other with .44 Magnums through fridges loud, so loud my boss stopped talking in a meeting from frustration… But to my point much had to be done to turn the missing link into a gentleman.

Between the exhaust work I must add we changed a headlight, tried to fix my odometer and saved my chain guard with two screws and washers that cost me R1,10c.

 

First of all, THREE holes 4 times the size of some scooter silencers had to be plugged but the metal on the silencer box (muffler for those across the pond) was weakened and here is where it already gets interesting.. We went to “professionals” who told me “that’s toast”, chuck it away.. I’m not touching that” and then we found a fellow named “Alfred” with an oxy-acetylene torch who put some plates over the affected areas and brazed it perfectly. Half an hour later I brushed it down with a wire brush and it looks good as new. All shiny, with some scratches of course.

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Next we needed to keep this most common rust problem at bay. For this we purchased a can of engine enamel in matt black and applied a few coats on either side, nix the chrome bits to keep this weather proof, and then we decided to scrub the inside silencer as well and also give it a few sprays to weatherproof it further.

 

Next we tried fitting the new/old silencer but the wheel and old double-stand spacer bracket was in the way so both had to be removed. Further down the line we also applied our “40-60mm” pipe clamps (which, for effect, we also sprayed matt black) to secure connect between headers and the two into one collector attached to the resonator and silencer.

 

After putting back all te that was needed, all that was fixed.. The first turn of the key and the first kick of the starter again ignited my flame of pride for Honda JDM’s

Bikes get old, they rust, they… Fall apart. The friends I bought my monster from looked after her well but lacked interest and love for her. And now with love she is once more restored, a still faithful beast, a proud HONDA.

Function Over Form… But Sentiment Trumps ALL.

From our tiny little corner at the ass-end of Africa where lions grow mielies (Corn for you English-speaking folk), Jackals sell cars and Hyenas drive taxi’s….. My message, my poem, my song today comes from the hearts of more than one man, or woman. The Bike Addict, my brother with whom I do not share blood, has greatly affected how I view owning a motorcycle.

Engine size, cubic inches, number of pistons, size of tires… That doesn’t always matter. The Bike Addict’s Little Yellow Monster has been somewhat troublesome over the years. Struggling to start, struggling to stay in idle, heating up, too rich, burning plugs, leaking oil (not all at once, but sometimes in combination) and more.. And I’ve heard his cries in anger and his threats.
But NEVER has he even caved to the thought of selling his ‘first born’. SENTIMENT is a bond between man and machine, woman and her monster, a dude and his bike, bro.

I know of a man with a trench coat full of bike jol patches, old and grey or as we bikers call that stage “chrome”. His bike of choice? A 350 motorbike… Not 750, not 1000.. His baby is his little 350.

Every rider’s bike is their own, which is why we customize. Which is why we name, why we appraise, why we get ticked off over one scratch. If you don’t look back at your Bike every time you park her, you bought the wrong horse. Which is true, because every time I walk past the building and come to the corridor where I can see my bike from 20 meters away, I look at her every time, EVERY time.

Also recently for my Basic Ambulance Assistant Course studies, my heart was set in motion on a bigger bike, a 750cc. And the longer I kept on with this escapade the heavier and more stressed my heart became. So The Bike Addict came at me with 3 questions: #1 Do you just want to get rid of her? #2 Do you want the new bike more? And #3 Does engine size really matter?

And then my final sentimental “nail in the wood” was the love of my life, the first girl I ever took on a bike outside town or even to any bike run for that matter.. SHE made me fall in love with my little Japanese harley-sounding ass kicking, dust kicking neighbor-waker all over again. She made me realize finally that YOU SHOULDN’T MESS WITH A GOOD THING.

When I held on to my sentimental feeling for this crazy loud little demon, I fell in love all over again and decided to keep her. So “I want a bigger bike” is not a good enough reason for getting rid of a trusty steed. If you want a bigger bike, and I mean really want it… Make sure is speaks louder to your heart than your current horse.

Ride safe, ride often. If you ride in the rain be sure to enjoy the sound of it on your helmet. Take the scenic route and stop to enjoy the view, but never ride faster than your angel can fly.

This Is Your Moment. Your Bike. Your Life. Your Love.

Needless to say from reading the title, I’ve had a pretty good weekend.. Let me elaborate..

This past sunday was the anniversary of my very first day jol (as we call them in Southern Africa). The South African Heritage day biker braai (barbecue for you salties) day hosted by Crusaders South Africa MC.

Many was a first for me on this day. My new girlfriend was my very first lift between towns, and she was the very first girl I’ve ever taken to such an event, or anywhere on a bike for that matter. Now… For those who have experienced this feeling of the girl of your dreams being your first in that area, you’d know the profound sense of pride of telling her that she’s the first. Lifting between towns and cities is relatively easy, but on this day the winds were gusting at around 25km an hour more or less. Plus it was her first time on a bike like mine and probably the longest ever she’d been on an iron horse.. Plus Dusty rumbling like a monster and shaking like a chihuahua hopped up on red bull and steroids didn’t help. Yet it was still my most memorable bike run day jol ever, and the most successful as I’ve decided to keep Dusty and continue with my semi-cafe racer custom build.

A lot to remember on a day jol or for one. One is to bring a frigging hat.. You don’t want to look like a German vienna after a day in the sun when you go home. Another thing is of you can, bring comfortable walking shoes because my watch counted around 10000 steps in those semi-uncomfortable Nexo biking boots I bought a while ago that press the utter crap out of my pinky toes.

Another thing is BRING CASH dammit. There are loads to do.. From shows to buy tickets for at a “discounted price” that would show the next day, to hats and jewelry, to riding gear and leather clothing like chaps, gloves and waist coats. Also the fabric guys are usually there, selling quotes on a cloth like “I Come In Sober Too” and metal badges as well, mine for instance said a quote I cannot repeat on this page, so you can imagine we keep things interesting.

Life is dull enough, do the smart thing but also do the fun things. No matter what you do you’re not going to make it out of LIFE alive, so why not have fun? Take a chance, ask out the girl, go to a rally, go to a day jol or bike run alone and make some lifetime friends. Trust your instincts but learn to wing it to keep things interesting.

Life is a high way, so let’s ride it all night long.

Ride safe, ride happy, ride often and never take a day for granted. And most importantly.. Love your woman and hug your horse and share a brew with your brother.

“Clean….. Well Oiled. Not Bad For A Third World Army”

People always say “It’s not the machine it’s the one holding the bars” but come on.. That is true to some extent but no matter how good I am after riding for over a year and experiencing 3 different riding styles so far, if my bike can’t brake, can’t start, can’t hold the line when I turn, can’t grab the road because the tires are shot it won’t matter how good I am. A rider is only as good as the machine that carries him, the bike you ride is your only restriction.

Coming back to my point talking about your horse’s well-being.. I have been having trouble with my chain. It’s old, worn close to hell and it’s been stressing me out. Lubricating it doesn’t too much and I couldn’t tension it anymore as it was on the limit. So I gathered my ideas and I had 3 choices, either buy a brand new chain and sprocket set which would have cost me around 1500-2300 ZAR depending on the shop or dealer, or buy a second-hand set for an unknown price which is like when you change your dead light bulb with a worn one that burns a faded yellow, which works for a while I mean you have a measure of light but sometime or another you’ll be back in the dark. Which brought me to my simplest and cheapest idea.. Remove one link from the chain and have it tensioned and lubed again. This is a very temporary and risky solution. Just enough to buy you a few hundred kilometers more before you need to swap a chain and sprocket set.

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Old, worn, saggy chain.

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Old, worn chain minus one link.

Today I did that because I had no other option and fearing enough I’m glad I did.

What are the dangers of a laggy, saggy, fruity chain? Well for one I could easily have picked the chain off the sprocket at any time which is a warning sign with red and yellow flags already. Plus a few times when was giving my throttle some torque and letting go over and over while being “windgat” it would partially jump off momentarily, the little sprocket at the shaft would grab it as well as one a little bit at the back, pull the chain into position and buck the whole frame like an angry stallion your grandaddy tried to break 60 years ago.

Look after your bike. Make sure the brakes are good, the tires have enough tread, the lights work, the battery is still healthy, she’s got antifreeze and her oil is topped up, keep gas in the tank and your chain and sprocket lubed and ready for action. Look after your horse and she’ll look after you.

And if I may add, my Honda Bros 400cc VTwin 1988 is in better condition than some modern-day bikes. Proof that age doesn’t always matter.