Where did November and the beginning of December go?

Thanks to Matt for giving me a little nudge to get on with this, so where did the last six weeks go?

As I mentioned in my last posting, I at last moved from the ranks of biker without a bike to biker with a bike with the purchase on ebay of a ten year old BMW motorcycle. A bit of a risky thing to do, but all worked out in the end with a bargain being had and delivery from Yorkshire to West Lothian all arranged.

Being a bargain it needed a little bit of work done, a set of tyres was in order and a service to make sure everything was a known quantity. After a generous gift from my Father In Law, I arranged for a new set of tyres. The manufacturers of motorcycle tyres are pretty much the same as those for cars, Michelin, Bridgestone etc, although the life of a typical motorcycle tyre in miles is about a quarter or less of the equivalent on a car. Even the so-called “touring” type tyres are quite sporty compared to car tyres.

Another interesting aspect is that removing the wheels on a motorcycle is a lot more involved than on a car. To me removing the wheel of a car is simply a case of jacking up the relevant corner, removing four or more wheel nuts and the wheel is off. Refitting is more or less the reverse. Checking the technical manual for my bmw on the removal of wheels talks about moving brake parts, removing mudgards, moving the exhaust if dealing with the rear tyre etc. All of this means that motorbike rapid-fit doesn’t exist unless you remove the wheels yourself (i.e. fit to loose-wheels) and even then the market for motorcycle tyres means a limited amount of outlets in central Scotland, even in the locality of the capital.

After a good bit of phoning around, the “local” options were C&J Wilson, in the next town, Alvins in Edinburgh and Strathearn Tyres in Crieff. National tyres were really good and helpful, unfortunately they are only geared up for complete wheel removal in Yorkshire, but the chap there is really helpful. In the end I went with C&J Wilson, the local Kawasaki dealer in Uphall and an excellent example of a traditional bike dealers. Booked in to the workshop for a Saturday morning, I got a set of new Bridgestone BT-020s fitted to the bike. That was after calling out the AA to start the bike.

The other thing that is different about motorcycle tyres is the shape. Car tyres are pretty square in shape, motorcycle tyres start out very much round (so they can go around corners) rather unlike the tyres on Judge Dredd’s Lawmaster.

In the middle I had the motorcycle serviced by a chap in Queensferry who only works on BMW Boxers, and an excellent job he did too. Not knowing much about the bikes, I was really pleasantly surprised to be able to feel the difference in the smooth running of the bike after he had worked on it. Before heading out to Queensferry I had to call out the AA again, the culprit being identified as a battery, so I got one ordered up on Monday and sent to Queensferry from Sherlocks. The bike also got a once over to spot anything needing attention and got a generally good clean bill of health, apart from the brake bobbins and the paralever bearings. To give a quick idea what these are, there are two discs on the front of the bike and these are free to move on bobbins along the axis of the wheel – floating discs is what I think they are called. These will need new ones to prevent other wear in the disc happening due to excessive movement. The paralever is the device invented by BMW to deal with the torque reactions that happen on a shaft-driven motorcycle. There is an arm mounted to the bottom of the swinging arm at the rear of the bike and a lot of twisting forces go through there, resulting in wear of the bearings.

Unfortunately he also spotted a problem with the new front tyre – the pressure had dropped by half over the weekend. So back to C&J Wilson who attended to it quickly, turned out to be a faulty valve. Sorted free of charge, but I bet that was a bit annoying for them. They did all they could to do it properly.

So everything is pretty much working, the ABS fault it was showing cleared with the new battery so my ABS is operational but I haven’t been in any situation to activate it yet. I’m also getting to know the bits and bobs of the Boxer. The engine is called a Boxer because the pistons fire in opposite directions, in this case two pistons going in opposite directions lying across the bike. The cylinders stick out and are finned as air is one of the main coolants for this type of engine.

There you go then, a wee intro to my bike, took a few of my weekends in November, weather and a cold took most of the rest.