Thursday, October 3, 2013

Norton and a Shoestring

I went for a motorcycle ride on Monday. I took the Norton up into the hills on Hwy 9 and Hwy 35 before coming down to meet Don for his birthday.

After enjoying the lookout over Palo Alto, I started back so that I would be in time to meet Don for coffee in Cupertino.  At some point I noticed a change in sound and an odd feeling in the motor. I played with the throttle as I rode and it was fine again. But the bike did sound different. And it felt a little different too. I couldn't identify the difference but it was different. The bike still worked but I couldn't quite accept that all was as it had been. Then, miles down the road I looked down on my left. Shouldn't there be a rolled up piece of slightly weathered and scuffed metal stamped "Dunstall" "Made in England" near my left foot? Yes! The left exhaust can fell off!

A little later, retracing my ride since the lookout, I found it lying in the middle of the lane I had been riding. I new it had to be after the lookout. One thing about always admiring your machine before you get on it is that, even if you can't remember specifically looking at a thing, you can be pretty sure that you would have noticed if a significant thing was different. Like if an exhaust pipe was missing. So, I new it was somewhere between where I stopped with a missing pipe and the lookout point where I had stopped to admire the world and the bike.

Pipe found, I was faced with a problem. It couldn't be reattached properly. I didn't have tools and a tab on the exhaust had broken through causing it to slip off the bike. I would need to work on this a bit to get it solidly on again. But I had nothing to attach the pipe to the bike for a return ride home. I tried the plants around. All broke when bent and would not work as a rope. So, shoelace it was.

Solution found! Exhaust strapped to handlebars with my shoestring.

New problem. The shoe fell off too easily even when I raised my foot. I didn't think it would make it riding down the hill.

Solution part two! I used the leather zipper pulls from my jacket to hold my shoe closed well enough to ride.

Awesome! Don and I got a good laugh out of the story when I made it to the coffee shop with one pipe strapped to my handle bars by a shoestring and my shoe barely held on. I had fun with this. It is really satisfying to problem solve.

Eventually we decided to drop my bike off at home and then Don and I would go to lunch. I liked the sound of the open pipe. It's not much louder than with the pipe on as they appear relatively empty of baffling. Enjoying the sound of the bike, the satisfaction of the day's problem/solution experience, and the humor of it all, I noticed something. A few miles from home my clutch lever came off and was dangling from the bars! The bolt had vibrated out apparently. Without it, how would I change gears or go into neutral to stop? I don't know why I didn't get scared at this but I didn't. It is still a scary thing, though. I reached down while riding, thankfully the traffic was moving and no red light was yet upon us, and I fiddled with it until I had positioned the lever in it's correct place. I realized that it would stay in position when in use as it then pushed up against another piece of metal. So, I was safe when the clutch was pulled in. All I had to do was to hold it in place when it wasn't pulled in so that it would remain ready to use when stopping or changing gears. Riding carefully like this I made it home safe.  

Quite an eventful ride on the Norton.

The exhaust thing still makes me laugh.

The clutch thing still makes me feel lucky. And reminds me that I need to go over the bolts on this vibrating bike more often. But for now, the bike is parked in the garage as is. I think it will take a little brake until I can give it some needed attention. Besides, it looks good with the exhaust on the handle bars.

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