Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bonneville Towed

The question came up during Bike Week: why tow your motorcycle? Well, one reason might be if your wife is in California attending Pete's wedding in Santa Cruz, and Jiri has scheduled your bike for a service how are you going to get your bike to Stock Island from Ramrod Key?You could ride the Bonneville there and take the Lower Keys shuttle back. That would take a while and you'd have to leave Cheyenne at home. Using a trailer gets you, the bike and the dog to Stock Island. Drop off the bike, chat with Jiri, walk the dog, come home, shower, put on your uniform and drive to work ( dropping Cheyenne off at her godparents on the way). Nobody said my life was easy when my wife is away.I try to remember to hitch the trailer before I roll the motorcycle up the ramp. That avoids scratching the back of your newish-to-you Ford Fusion. Oh well. I put the motorcycle in gear and lower the side stand, just in case. I have a handlebar attachment that allows me to strap the bars down without hooking the straps directly to the bars.
I have found the bars tend to slide under pressure and turn down so in the future I will most likely attach the frame to the straps as I have two convenient attachment points on the frame. With the motorbike on the trailer I lay out my straps.
I use a couple of shop rags to prevent chaffing on the straps on the edges of the trailer. I use one bungee to strap the front brake and the other to hold the front wheel to the edge of the trailer.
The bungee is also a useful way to hold the strap in place until I can get proper tension on it.
My utility trailer is four feet wide and six feet long, small enough to park easily under the house. However it was a nice fit for my Vespa GTS and is a tight squeeze for the Bonneville so I need to keep the front wheel tight to the front of the trailer.
And up she goes. Keeping tension on the straps with the bungees the motorcycle is now balanced by it's handlebars.
The front brake is on and clamped...
And the bike is ready to go, thirty minutes after staring the process. Phew!

I check the bike out in the mirror before I set off so that if anything changes as I drive I can pull over and see what's happened. Typically the front wheel may settle and the headlight may turn as the bike bounces into a new position.
A half hour later the motorbike is on the ground at the shop on Stock Island.
I don't like to anticipate my projects for fear of jinxing them but I am hoping to get off on an attempt at an Iron Butt 1500 in early October so the Bonneville is getting not only new tires and tubes, which it needs anyway, but an early oil/filter change, new brake fluid and a caliper check, also a new chain and sprockets which Jiri recommended as the original chain is now 42,000 miles old. "That's twice normal" Jiri protested and he was worried that sustained 80 mile an hour riding could be catastrophic. He is impressed by the effectiveness of my Loobman chain oiler as the original chain and sprockets still look like new. I was impressed by this bumper sticker.
"Are you turning into a Bonneville shop?" I joked with Jiri. I appreciate the SE is a much lower bike but I prefer the slightly more upscale T100 which has better components and nicer styling in my opinion. The SE has a thinner seat, the Thruxton style mufflers, smaller (tubeless alloy) wheels and though it does have a tach it uses the spindly switchgear found on the Scrambler. Not my cup of tea, though I am surprised how the few changes make the two bikes look so....different.
Apparently some Key Wester bought the SE for his wife. I hope she enjoys it as much as I do my old work horse.
Jiri hates having his photo taken, so of course I like to piss off my trusted moto mechanic.
He grew up in the pre-1989 world of Czechoslovakia so he has a special fondness for brands of motorcycles i also remember from my youth.
Here's the cause of the towing trouble. If she could ride the bike and the bus with me we'd never have had to tow the trailer.
I'll see Jiri in a few days and I shan't forget to bring him something around $900 for his trouble. I hope the Iron Butt is worth it!