things i wish i hadn't done, part three.
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September 8, 2002
There's a CBR for sale across the street from my parents' condo complex. The seller, who has a tenuous grasp on reality at best, wants $5100 for it. My curiosity eventually won over me, and I walked over to see it. It was parked outside a "Tan While U-Wait" sort of place, a tiny little one or two room hut-like building with a palm tree painted on it. Three women walked in or out of the shop while I was looking at the bike; two of them with crusty blonde hair and scary-looking orange skin. The third was a normal-looking young brunette, so I assume she works there. They all glanced at me momentarily as they passed me, the latter more than the others. Probably not many people have taken as close an interest in the poor CBR as I was.
It was a '96 CBR F3 with only 9000 miles on the odometer, and had obviously been down on both sides. The left-side carbon fiber aftermarket flush turn signal was cracked, the bar end scuffed, and the clutch lever way too shiny to be six years old. The right side was a little more banged up -- the red, white, and blue painted fairing was cracked in numerous places. It had been repaired fairly well in places with that fiberglass glue stuff, but other cracks had been left. I'd wager it either had had two owners, or that the owner eventually got sick of repairing the fairing and just let the later scars show. A deep scratch on the exhaust was consistent with the one that'd appeared on mine after my low-speed impact in June. Sadly stereotypically for a low-mileage sportsbike, the cracked plastics also came with brand new Bridgestone Battlax tires, an aftermarket rear shock, and a nice high-mount Two Brothers exhaust.
Hrm. They're selling a six-year-old sportsbike with crash damage, in the middle of rural Harley country, about two months before the roads are snowed in for the winter. I wish them all the best in getting even half their asking price.
this morning's entertainment.
I geared up and strapped Peter's helmet and jacket onto the back of the Superhawk. After a few minutes of truly horrible noises, I remembered Peter mentioning that the bike doesn't like to start when cold, so I yanked on the choke until the feeble little knob gave up and pulled out an extra centimeter or so -- just enough to keep the engine running. Eventually, the bike convinced me that it wasn't going to sputter and die out on me, even with the choke pushed back in. I hopped on, dropped it into first gear, revved the throttle, let out the clutch.......let out the clutch.....let out the -- and the late friction zone finally caught and lurched the bike and I on down my driveway. I reached out for the front brake....and reached...and reached....and finally found the lever about a full second too late. Grumbling, I made the second-to-worst right turn ever and pulled over to the side of the road. I put it back into neutral, climbed off the bike, and adjusted the clutch and brake levers in so that my small hands could actually reach them. OK. Fine. I climbed back on the bike...and realized that I was stuck.
I'd committed the cardinal sin of Short Biker riding -- I'd parked on uneven ground. The Superhawk's sidestand is irritatingly long, so when the bike is parked, it's almost straight up and down. Unfortunately, the street slopes down to the right, so when I sat on the bike, I couldn't find the ground with my right foot. Now I can't get the bike off the sidestand. I sit there for a minute, doing little "treading water" motions with my feet, until I finally just give up and climb off the bike again. After a few close calls, I get the bike leaned over enough to kick up the sidestand, and I push the bike out to the middle of the road where the pavement is flat. The sidestand goes back down, I climb back onto the bike, and I'm pleased to notice that I can once again get both tiptoes down on solid ground.
OK. No problem. Still doing fine. I start the Superhawk back up and we sit there for a moment getting used to each other again. I pull in the clutch and brake, stomp the pedal into first gear, and break into a cold sweat easing the bike the 50 feet or so forward to the stop sign at the end of my street. It occurs to me that I still have no idea whatsoever where the friction zone on the clutch is. Mine's set close in to the handlebar, with a lot of free play in the cable; Peter's obviously isn't. Before I can play with it a little bit, I realize a car is waiting to turn left in front of me, and he's waving me to go ahead with my right turn before he enters the intersection. So, I take a deep breath, rev the throttle, let out the brake, and let out the clutch.....
And promptly execute the worst right turn in the history of the universe.
I'd gone back into autopilot, assuming that the friction zone was close to the bar. As I kept letting out the clutch and it wasn't engaging, my brain stopped engaging as well, and I just kept up revving the throttle. By the time I hit the friction zone, the revs were completely out of sync with the engine's actual speed. Did you know that it's possible to wheelie and fishtail at the same time? Neither did I! Whee! I actively joined about thirteen religions in that split-second, and apparently one of the deities took pity, and I somehow finished the turn (still while fishtailing!) without crashing or soiling myself. I consider both to be an accomplishment.
The next few miles to the freeway entrance were similarly amusing. I don't think I actually wheelied the bike again, but there were many conversations with my savior deity (whichever one it was), imploring her or him to please make that next light stay green so I wouldn't have to stop the bike again. Mostly, the groveling helped.
Once I was on the freeway, the bike was much happier. The handlebar vibrations were pretty painful above 6k rpms or so, but once I'd upshifted to fourth, I figured I was tempting fate, and I just wasn't going to shift again. I happily cruised along at about 6k rpms, which is about 85mph on the SVS. After a few miles, my senses tugged on my brain's sleeve, and it slowly dawned on me that I wasn't riding the SVS. I looked down at the speedometer. 6k rpms on a liter twin in fourth gear isn't 85mph.
I thanked my deity du jour for not putting Officer Friendly behind me on that particular stretch of road, and prepared to exit the freeway. This made me sad, as it meant that soon I would have to shift again. I downshifted to the light at the end of the off-ramp, and came to what can best be described as a rolling stop as I turned right onto the surface street that Peter lives off of. At this point, I'm back in first, and quite tired of the whole mess, so I rode down the street at 40mph in first gear, singing LA LA LA to myself to drown out the bike's indignant protests. When I turned onto Peter's cul-de-sac, I decided against doing the U-turn at the end of the dead end, and instead just parked the bike facing the wrong way in front of the house.
Later on, Peter hopped on the Superhawk to do the U-turn and park it in a slightly different place, and I swear, I could hear an audible sigh of relief from the bike. As for me, I went into the garage when I got home and gave my SVS a big hug.