Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bonneville Black by Plastidip

I bought my Triumph Bonneville on the 12th of October 2007, and I confess when my wife asked why I didn't buy another Suzuki to replace the one that had given me trouble free service for 20,000 miles I was at a bit of a loss. It was with trepidation I paid $8,000 for the brand new motorcycle and set off on a new adventure. 73,000 miles later I can only say it was a inspired choice, led by physical beauty and sustained by perfect performance.

Yet all is not well, every Eden has its serpent, and my Bonneville shows signs of corrosion despite my best efforts. It is inevitable after all that life under my house in essentially open air surrounded at close quarters by salt water will lead to this:

And this:

This bike was sold as a Goodwood Green standard Bonneville, lacking the chrome of the upscale T100 ($2000 extra!) and not equipped with the black powder coated engine cases that I craved, so it came with what they call brushed aluminum engine covers.

I had the thought of buying factory fresh black powder coated engine covers for $375 plus taxes etc...or on my mechanic Jiri's advice I could have taken the cases to be powder coated next to his motorcycle shop for quite likely far less money. That was when I read an entry in the Triumphrat website, for Bonneville owners and fans.

Triumphrat is one if those nerdy websites devoted tI spending money on motorcycles, but not riding them much. It's filled with threads about how to add everything except miles to the bike, not least because resale value is terribly important to people who buy motorbikes, give them cute names and then park them out of fear of wearing them out. I read it periodically to see what I can glean and occasionally I contribute if I have an experience to share rather than simply an opinion to pontificate about. And then I read about something called Plastidip. I surrendered to plastidip - Triumph Forum: Triumph Rat Motorcycle Forums

There was no experience reported using plastidip on the engine so I paid a visit to the ACE shop on Summerland Key and came home with a twelve dollar aerosol (including tax) of matt black Plastidip. Hmm.

Let me say here and now I am a fourth rate painter. I have no patience, no interest in prep work and every interest in getting the job done and going riding. All of which makes me terrible when it comes to paint and brushes and getting the best finish. I did my best, secure in the knowledge if it doesn't work I can peel the plastic coating straight off the metal and all I've wasted is some time and a very few dollars.

So far it looks not too bad at all and the heat generated on my commutes hasn't abused the paint to peel as was suspected by those too fearful to try it.

I cannot say it looks perfect or even close to good but I can say it looks a lot better than the corrosion it covers and in the hands of a proper dedicated painter it could look superb.

Much as I love my Bonneville I spend money to keep the internals perfect and for all it shows signs of age miles and corrosion, hadi the time I would ride it to California to or row without a second thought. It's that solid and reliable a bike.

It looks better in photographs than it does in person and I am sure time and road grit and the scuffs of daily riding will not improve the finish. I may yet do the job properly and powder coat it but for now...resale value is zero anyway, in a world of six year old Bonnevilles with five thousand miles on them (how is that possible?).

There she is, made ugly and cluttered and purposeful by bags and windshield, thus supremely capable and also comfortable with my custom Sargent's saddle, Motorcycle Seats - Sargent Seats - Aftermarket Motorcycle Seats The Bonneville is easy to handle and fun to ride and soon I shall try my hand at painting the exhaust pipes to hide a little more evidence of miles and corrosion.

It's the least I can do for the best motorcycle I have ever owned in 43 years of riding, not named, ridden hard in storms floods and winds mountains and freeways and enjoyed every day of these last six years.