I have luckily had a pretty slow week, my favorite kind, and the weather is much warmer than it has been, even with the wind (which on sunny days is still usually too brisk for working outside very long in). Yesterday I decided to work on my bike (a 1981 Honda cm200t), removing its winter protection and pushing it somewhere convenient to start on my long list of Spring cleaning and repairs.
Last summer the bike started running terribly, requiring the use of the choke while simultaneously adjusting the idle screw to get it started, not to mention a gas leak it’s had for nearly a year, but it still ran and as long as you didn’t stop, it wouldn’t stall. When it does stall it’s easy enough to get restarted, if you don’t mind getting gasoline all over your hand. Every time you wanted to stop somewhere you had to remove the gas line from the engine and stick a screwdriver bit in the open line, blocking it from leaking all your gas away while you took a photo. It leaked slow enough that I could go a few miles without being afraid of running out but after filling the tank halfway yesterday, it was basically pouring out the weak end of the line at a pace that my gas would be gone in a half an hour.
When we were in New York (and Ross was in Seattle) a guy from a neighbouring RV helped me come up with a couple solutions to get the thing back on the road, the screwdriver bit idea being one of the solutions, carrying a flathead with me everywhere to adjust the idle, another. They were definitively not long-term solutions but would work, and as time went by, I forgot what I needed to do to fix these things permanently and eventually the bike became more of a burden than anything.
I started yesterday by putting in some gas and seeing if it would start after sitting pretty much outside all winter. I expected the battery to be dead in the least but the lights came on as soon as I put in the key. I held open the choke and pushed the start button, and it started right away, as long as I was holding the choke. A few adjustments of the idle screw and it was running on its own. It was at this point that I noticed the gas leak’s rate of loss was much faster than before, so unfortunately instead of a ride, I had to stick the screw back in the hose and start on other things.
I washed the bike, shined up the chrome (rusty chrome) with BlueJob powder, shined up the plastic and seat with Armor All leather cleaner, greased the chain, used tire restorative on the tires and checked the oil (oh and drank Rhubarb soda). Ross asked why I hadn’t gone for a ride and I told him about the hose leak now being worse, and that I couldn’t even remember if that was the main problem or if it was only one of the places the gas leaked from. A new fuel line wouldn’t fix the starting/idling problem but it would mean I could drive it without catching on fire or running out of gas. We bought some new hose at a nearby motorsport shop and after a few recuts, we got it right and the bike was good as used! (“used” being one step up from junk or parts haha – it will never be good as new). I also picked up a new helmet (AFX FX-100S Helmet) because the helmet that came with the bike is pretty much embarrassing - a small black skullcap that sits on top of my head like a riding helmet (equestrian). I wear a large helmet apparently, it’s no wonder both of my previous helmets, both smalls, were painful and annoying to wear. Having a comfortable helmet with ventilation, a sunscreen and clear shield is like night and day and going faster isn’t so uncomfortable when you can’t feel a thing. In the south I was always afraid if I went too fast and one of the many huge bugs hit me in the face, I’d not only be physically scarred but traumatized. I have swerved around many a hand sized dragonfly.
I decided not to check the tire pressure because.. .well… I can be lazy, but they weren’t giving any signs of being low under the weight of the bike so they seemed OK – then I booked to the nearest mountain, which conveniently was about 2 blocks away. Our road and the road up to the fancy mountain houses is dirt but mostly packed. If you’ve ever driven a bike on gravel you know what a disaster it can be, especially since my tires are original from 1981 and bald as hell. When I came back down the mountain the intersection, which was at an angle, was also all loose dirt. You don’t want to brake on that stuff, especially with bald tires and old brakes so I downshifted to 1st and made the slowest and widest possible turn I could make to avoid skidding. I think when I get some new (used) tires, I will also get new brakes and calipers. I also ordered a speedometer cable, hoping that is all I need to get that working because it’s really horrible riding on highways and main roads with no clue as to how fast I’m going.
If you made it this far into the post,
you can now enter the Name My Bike contest!