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Thread: Motorcycling Consumed!

  1. #1
    Super Moderator Old Fox's Avatar
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    Default Motorcycling Consumed!

    Motorcycling Consumed!

    I still remember the dark and dank evening from two decades ago as I sat on my haunches beside my black 1983 Escorts Rajdoot AC123, sheltered beneath a huge Peepal tree (the Ficus Religiosa for the purists here) some 40 miles from home. The contact breaker points had given up the ghost and all my efforts and prayers (in tandem) were focused on getting them to work. Magneto cover off (you had to press the rear brake pedal way down to get it off), magneto rotor removed (careful with that woodruff key fixing it on the crankshaft end) and you get to the CB points. There was that tiny Bakelite washer for insulation. Was cracked. The low voltage current from the primary finding its way prematurely to the ‘ground’. None left to fire the secondary for that life-giving spark. Oops! And an answer. Cut two of round somethings similar to the washer from a plastic bottle (that Swiss knife had scissors too you know), sandwich the washer in between, tighten the #8 bolt/nut combo and should be good to go! Prayer on lips again, this time loud enough to startle that owl perched on the branch above and a kick on the kick-starter. It fires! I was happier than the NASA launch control staff when the Jupiter lunar vehicle lifted off safely!


    Those days though are long gone, the inherent reliability of modern day machinery having relegated the triumphs and failures of ‘in the field’ repairs to the cobweb enshrouded past. Unnecessary. Well, mostly. Once in a while even the modernity within breaks down but then usually it is a matter of transporting the stricken sick vehicle to its equivalent of a hospital and into the hands of a mechanic/doctor. The likes of me come from a generation of motorcyclists when technology did not yet have that label announcing ‘no user serviceable parts inside’. We were expected to and would tinker with it to keep it ‘serviceable’. And so the tourers, travellers, racers, rallyists et al amongst us learnt how to. Today it is not just the reliability but also the sheer complexity of the machines that normally precludes amateur spanner twiddling. And that has in an important way turned out to be a loss. More reliability, less uncertainty, more fun and miles with less tension a loss? Yes. The reliability has converted us from partners to mere consumers. The rider no longer needs to know how to change a spark plug, adjust the chain slack or even tighten the brakes, what of changing the engine oil or the brake pads. The service intervals are sufficiently far apart for him to have his fill of touring/travelling/commuting etc before the need arises to get the above listed stuff done on his bike. He pays, they do it. He rides off again. Consumer.


    The detachment of a mere consumer has also relegated motorcycling to becoming more of a disposable pleasure rather than remaining a meaningful pursuit that it was and deserves to be. Of course to an extent the ‘trouble-shooting and tuning’ of the past has been replaced by customizing which is more of a choice and less of a chore and as a bonus involves less of those dirty rags and greasy hands. It is more like entertainment, a movie set and so the shinier the better. But in the bargain the easy simply attainable sense of achievement is practically out of reach, becoming more of another economically affected element of life. No wonder there’s so much of that lure left for the Enfield’s and the Harley’s today. And of course the retro bikes. Huge communities continue thrive on these as there’s loads of fertile ground left for sharing, learning, fixing, breaking, winning and losing. The effort needed to appreciate and understand technology is not just about ‘knowing’ your machine but is also about feeling in control of things intimate with motorcycling. Riding when interspersed with tangling and grappling with the machine has a sense of doing attached to it that feels a lot ‘higher’ than just filling, shutting and riding day in and day out.


    All said and done as above though, the better reliability and performance is still preferable even at the cost it comes. Cause motorcycling is more about riding than anything else and those modern virtues let us do more of that and more often. But letting motorcycling remain a ‘meaningful pursuit’ definitely needs more involvement than as a mere consumer. Get to know her, learn to befriend her, respect her while you ride her – not because she’ll fail upon you otherwise, which usually she won’t. But because the man on the saddle today is the same in spirit as the one who rode those cantankerous fume emitting grease dripping rattle traps and still did find pleasure in doing that. Maybe more. Because a friend beside is always better than a stranger. And yes, by the way, I did make it back home that dark and dank evening and did not have to fix the points for another couple of thousand miles .
    Last edited by Old Fox; 02-02-2015 at 10:50 PM.
    I don't let my motorcycles interfere with my motorcycling...

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    Rusted Ankey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Motorcycling Consumed!

    Dear Old Fox sir,
    Your post reminds me of my childhood memories with my father, from whom I got the biking bug. He owns a 1987 Bajaj Chetak scooter and still goes to office on it. So ever since I was a little boy I used to watch him service the scooter, cleaning air filter, changing engine oil, replacing brake shoes. While the other kids used to play and run around, I used to work with my father on his Chetak, handing him tools and spanners and marvelling the fact that my dad could do such a complex task.

    And now when I ride my R15, I see the contrast between the two machines as well as the contrast between the two owners. One who knows his ride inside out, like the back of his hand, and his son who rides a technologically advanced machine but knows very little about it. In fact I know more about his Chetak than about my own bike.
    I have infinite respect for people like you who actually know how their ride works and are not afraid to get their fingernails dirty.

    Thank you for taking me down the memory lane by such a wonderfully written masterpiece.

    Regards
    Ankit.
    I would like to thank my legs for supporting me, my arms for being always by my side and my fingers; I could always count on them.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Old Fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Motorcycling Consumed!

    Hey thanks Ankit. Great to know that you liked what you read and that it stuck a chord within. Riders from my time would perforce need to know their machine well not just because of the reliability thing but also due to a paucity of mechanics/workshops and communication facilities anywhere outside cities and towns. The highways today are a lot better place in that respect too . But then of course knowing your steed has its own charm.
    Saravanan Murdlock and Ankey like this.
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    Default Re: Motorcycling Consumed!

    I just love this place, xBhp...

    Old fox what a great write up, made my day.. Got to go ride now..
    Saravanan Murdlock likes this.
    There is no happiness for him who does not travel!
    The fortune of a man who is sitting, sits; it rises when he rises; it sleeps when he sleeps; it moves when he moves.
    Therefore, Wander!
    - Rigveda, 1500 - 1000 B.C.

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    Rusted krishna77's Avatar
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    Default Re: Motorcycling Consumed!

    Beautifully written article sir. Respect is reciprocated. Be it between a man and a man or a man and a machine.

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    Rusted John P Daniel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Motorcycling Consumed!

    Those old age machines are one of a kind legends. The sense of pride and thrill they give is unmatched by most new bikes. In those days, people try to fix the bike rather than selling them for better one. They found their bike's true strengths along with their own. Bikes have become more of an use and throw stuff which are static nowadays. My uncle had the Rajdoot(a name that strikes a bell in me even now) during the days when transport facilities were unreliable. Though I own a pulsar, my heart truly lies in my dad's caliber. Those engines communicate with the rider. Modern world may not allow such time to study and understand bikes but still, it's a beautiful feeling to actually feel the bike and do what you can when you can. Thank you Old Fox Sir. It's a trip down the memory lane to the beginning of my life..
    Sent from my ST18i
    Last edited by John P Daniel; 02-06-2015 at 08:06 AM.

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    Super Moderator Old Fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Motorcycling Consumed!

    Quote Originally Posted by rusty_mechs View Post
    I just love this place, xBhp...

    Old fox what a great write up, made my day.. Got to go ride now..
    Quote Originally Posted by krishna77 View Post
    Beautifully written article sir. Respect is reciprocated. Be it between a man and a man or a man and a machine.
    Thank you both. Feels good to share when the sharing is not just appreciated but also empathized with .

    Quote Originally Posted by John P Daniel View Post
    T Thank you Old Fox Sir. It's a trip down the memory lane to the beginning of my life..
    Thank you too John for relating so well with what I shared. Consumption is impersonal and just doesn't allow that bond to form. And it is the bond that is the seed crystal for that passion and the fun we derive out of doing things that we love to do.
    I don't let my motorcycles interfere with my motorcycling...

    Join xBhp On


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    Addicted Adilkadri123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Motorcycling Consumed!

    Nicely written! At least for me no matter what I ride or drive I try to make it a point to get to know the basic and usually advanced technical info of the vehicle. The first thing I do is to try and download the Service manual and Parts List which are a great starting point to get to know the vehicle. And when I do have consult a mechanic at least I know when they are trying to fool me or giving me a load of nonsensical jargon.

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    Addicted tripster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Motorcycling Consumed!

    I ride 1998 bullet standard 350. I don't know her inside out but still i have been able to carry out minor repairs on numerous rides else would have been stuck in freaky places. I carry my own small toolkit. The feeling that i can relate to great bikers like you is unparallaled. The frustration when you can't figure out what's wrong and the joy when you solve it. The anger of forgetting the Philips screwdriver at home or the insulation tape and the shine in your eyes of finding an extra fuse in the side boxes. You got to do it to know it. She has never given up on me. Like she knows that if she fails after 3 more kms i would be able to get help. And starting only when i kick her after an hour of deathly silence not the mech who has been sweating out to find the problem. Kicking back when i am rude to her and answering my prayers.

    Your articles are always a delight to read. Keep them coming.

    .................................................. ............
    MOON Ride - http://www.xbhp.com/talkies/showthread.php?t=30340
    sambit likes this.
    One life to ride....

  10. #10
    Super Moderator Old Fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Motorcycling Consumed!

    Quote Originally Posted by Adilkadri123 View Post
    Nicely written! At least for me no matter what I ride or drive I try to make it a point to get to know the basic and usually advanced technical info of the vehicle. The first thing I do is to try and download the Service manual and Parts List which are a great starting point to get to know the vehicle. And when I do have consult a mechanic at least I know when they are trying to fool me or giving me a load of nonsensical jargon.
    No substitute to familiarity with your machine. Always useful though it might be mostly unnecessary.

    Quote Originally Posted by tripster View Post
    I ride 1998 bullet standard 350. I don't know her inside out but still i have been able to carry out minor repairs on numerous rides else would have been stuck in freaky places. I carry my own small toolkit. The feeling that i can relate to great bikers like you is unparallaled. The frustration when you can't figure out what's wrong and the joy when you solve it. The anger of forgetting the Philips screwdriver at home or the insulation tape and the shine in your eyes of finding an extra fuse in the side boxes. You got to do it to know it. She has never given up on me. Like she knows that if she fails after 3 more kms i would be able to get help. And starting only when i kick her after an hour of deathly silence not the mech who has been sweating out to find the problem. Kicking back when i am rude to her and answering my prayers.

    Your articles are always a delight to read. Keep them coming.
    Guess you know her enough to keep her in good humor The trials and triumphs of doing your own thing, be it the choice of a way of life or maintaining your machine, are incomparable as teachers. Glad to be sharing our common joys here.
    I don't let my motorcycles interfere with my motorcycling...

    Join xBhp On


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