Tag Archives: Honda

The Adventures of Nazca Boy and the Cuzco Kid

Leaving Lima:

Ah, the Panamericana.

Countless times I’ve heard from other motorcyclists about how indescribably awful the Panamericana is through coastal Peru. Boring they say. Not enough curves they say. The latter part is true as it’s a road through the desert but it’s not boring per se, just straight. This time of year is the Peruvian Coastal winter and it’s marked by mists that roll in off the Pacific casting everything in a perpetual grey. The climate is cool and just moist enough to not be arid and it’s a perfect break from the brutality of the highland summer where a blazing sun turns a body brown during the day and an ice cold moon shocks it with a deep freeze at night; the handover is nearly instantaneous . In the the cool desert air of the Panamaericana while riding the CB on straight, fast roads one can lay back, kick their feet up over the front turn signals and remove their hands from the bars, taking snapshots and receiving thumbs up and squeals of delight from passing motorists. In the eyes of the Sundog the desert will always reign supreme, even if the winter’s garua mists permit few glimpses of that beautiful shining orb and even if the Andes are trying desperately to stake their claim in the heart. Straight roads make for good time and allow one to drink it all in and appreciate the desert’s immense scale and the land where the sand meets the sea. Out there in the seemingly lifeless wastelands civilizations like the ones at Caral, Nazca, and Paracas thrived and flourished in the distant past and then faded away, leaving only grand remnants out on the desert floor to let us know they even existed.

We were growing comfortable in deepest darkest Lima: basking in the perfect climate, sleeping in a bed with a pillow, gorging ourselves on McDonalds and Incan Donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts, and enjoying the fruits of modern man after the Easter Island exodus and return, but a body grows restless and it was time to leave Lima. A farewell was bid to owner Scott at Tambopacaya Hostal and his monkey on the roof that always has a boner which looks like a nail and a course was struck for Cuzco!

Travel Tip: Another place with a bad rap, one can discover the hidden gems of Lima’s dispicable slums if they really want to but in walking, riding the dog, and riding the bike all over the city nothing even approaching the poverty/inbred heroics seen in small towns along the coast and in the mountains was spied or even came close. Lima is a relatively safe, surprisingly clean, quiet, and boring city. Unless one wants to ride the bus, go to museums, eat McDonalds, or walk into a restaurant without the record scratching and everyone staring at you, no one really needs to spend any more time in Lima than they have to to catch the next flight or bus out of it.

Save for quick stops in Huacachina and a cursory glance at the Nazca lines, it was all a straight shot to Puquio, a little Andean town on the road to Cuzco. The first rumblings of the Altiplano are felt as the CB crests a 15,000 foot plain and cruises past an alpaca sanctuary while it gears up for the 300 mile marathon to Cuzco. Leaving Puquio in the cold Andea dawn it was all curves to Cuzco and the CB responded with aplomb, coasting into the ancient Incan capitol cum modern-day touristic navel in thin air and dark night. The greatest motorcycling thus far in over a year on the road. The road from Puquio to Cuzco is a full day’s ride of 300 miles of sinewy Andean tarmac passing trundling trucks on blind corners as you dip up and down and around and around in pursuit of Incan gold.

Yo no soy marinero, soy viajero.

 

Boleto Turistico: For a scant 130 nuevo soles($50), one might lay their grubby lil’ mitts on the Boleto Turistico, an all-entry pass of sorts to some of Cuzco’s, and even a lil’ bit of the Sacred Valley’s, cultural and archaeological gems.

Sacsayhuaman: Pronounced Sexy-woman, this ancient fortress cum ceremonial site cum whatever it was intended to be is the preeminent archaeological site of the Americas and possibly even the world as it squares off against the pyramids in an all-out grudge match to be the be-all get-out megalithic death rattle of a dead and lost culture. Great big ol’ blocks o’ tha Gods(!), some over 20 feet tall and weighing over 100 tons, are fitted together without mortar and so precisely that not even a blade of grass will slip between them, nor even the infintessimilly thin .002″ feeler guage that one must use to adjust the valves on an equally ancient Honda motorbike. Impressive more so or at the same level is that some of the blocks were quarried 20km away and trundled over the Andes before being fitted together like Duplo blocks in God’s crib, fittingly forming the jaw of the puma on which the ancient Incan capital of Cuzco was laid out upon. Indeed, the ancients are still pulling tricks from their sleeves and out from under their colorful frocks, putting even lil’ Criss Angel and his Vegas buffet to shame. Insert Cris Angel photito here.

Tambomachay and Pucapukara: Get your boleto punched for both at the entrance to Tambomachay (Pucapukara is just down the road within sight of its bigger bro). Tambo was a ceremonial center and sports an Incan fountain which still pumps out the waters of eternal youth. Pucapukara is a hilltop fort or something which provides 360 degree views of the Cuzco countryside and surrounds. In any other place, Ecuador for example, both would be serious attractions unto themselves but are none too exciting after having laid one’s grubby lil’ mitts on the blocks of the Gods at Sacasyhuaman.

Q’enqo: Pretty cool lil’ site chillin’ out in the hills above Cuzco, replete with ceremonial cave housing naturally refrigerated stone slabs on which mummies once reposed. Q’enqo is basically just a huge boulder outcrop which the Incans, or whoever, carved to their liking. Nobles only!

Monumento Pachacutec: Imposing tower built in modern times using ancient techniques in downtown Cuzco with a huge bronze statue of an Incan of some sort perched atop it. Skippable but worth a walk if you’re determined to get every site punched on your Boleto Turistico, and we are.

Museo Sitio de Qoricancha and the Qoricancha: Crappy lil’ museum (save for the trepanned and elongated skulls on display) in front of the Qorichancha, which ain’t included in your boleto. Regardless, the extra 10 soles needed to enter the former temple of the sun are worth every centimo as it will enable a body to catch a glimpse of more rocks and stonework, which are extremely intricate and amazing. My favorite part was the thumbnail sized stone fitted between and surrounded by much larger blocks, the whole thing perfect and without flaw. The entire site is all haphazardly fitted together around or under a church, built by the Spaniards as to superimpose Catholisicm on and discourage the Incan’s black magic.

Pisac: A huge, incredible ruin reachable only by vintage motorbike or plush tourbus, Pisac is compromised of several different ceremonial sites and oodles of Incan terracing. Pisac contains some of the most impressive examples of terracing in the Sacred Valley and the ancient’s ampitheater-like handiwork extends all the way to the valley floor. Temples abound and even the occasional rock etched Incan seat pops up, upon which weary travllers can rest their magical bums. Lots of little shacks selling chicha on the way up, tambien.

Pikillacta: A refreshing break from the constant barage of in-your-face Incandom, the site of Pikillacta showcases an ancient Wari(pre-Inca tribe) settlement. Pikillacta was built entirely from stacked rocks and is huge. I’m sure it must have taken an incredibly long time to construct. The stonework is crude indeed and really can’t hold a candle to the work of the great ones but I was the only one there and had the run of the place, and run amok I did.

Tipon: A short ride from Cuzco, Tipon is another terraced Incan site impressive for its irrigated canals which still flow and stretch for miles. A cool site indeed which receives few visitors compared to its Cuzco brethren. An opportunity to hike up to the head of the canal and witness yet another temple was dashed when I decided that I was all Incan’d out for the day.

Museo de Arte Popular, Museo Historico Regional, Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporaneo, Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo: These are all pretty terrible and clearly designed to pad the Boleto Turistico. Of them all the most hope was held out for the Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo, which is not a museum or ruin or anything but a show of native dancing and music. It turned out to be really boring and all the dances looked the same just with different outfits and every single song was indiscernible from the last. A lazer light show at the Sacasyhuaman blocks would give much more bang for the buck and I’m sure it is coming. The outfits were cool though.

Chinchero: Ah, Chinchero. Chinchero is sort of half ruin, half functioning modern-day Incan town. More blocks and an impressive cleared plaza overlooking the river below make up the ruins part of Chinchero and Incan Spanish fusion architecture make up the rest with a really cool olden tyme church that is filled to the brim with painting and carvings, nearly every inch of it. Joven, diez soles los guantes, solamente diez solitos, joven.

Moray: Another site that the Cuzco Kid had been wanting to see for some time, Moray is supposedly an old timey agricultural experimentation center, as supposedly the terraced rings that make up the site provide different microclimates for various crops. But no one really knows for sure and it is an impressive site nontheless. Standing all the way at the bottom and in the middle prodces a cool echo effect. Check it off the list.

Ollantaytambo: A real favorite, the ruins of Ollantaytambo are most impressive for their monolithic stonework, which is much more precise than the work at Sacsayhuaman although there’s not as many blocks. Huge perectly carved stones lay scattered about, having fallen sometime in the distant past or having never made it to their final resting place. Six monolithic stones in the guise of rectangles, all separated by thinly carved columns of smaller rocks, stand as the focal point of what was once an important ceremonial site. Below the ruins lies the hamletito of Ollantaytambo, another modern-day Incan town in which people still live in houses built from stone, albeit polished off with modern tops. Narrow cobblestoned alleyways laid down centuries ago lead one to all sorts of fun and an ancient canal still runs through the town with people still using it to pee in and dump their garbage into. Ruins are everywhere in Ollantaytambo and ancient grain silos loom over the Plaza de Armas. The silos are free to explore on foot by any and all wandering souls, and precarious trails lead to treacherous cliffs all the way up high above the town. Rumor has it that this was the favorite site of Nazca Boy.

Sacred Valley Bonus Track:

The Salinas: Leaving Moray a narrow, steep, and precipitous dirt road leads off to some ancient Incan salt pans(the Incans were busy back then). Impressive indeed both for their ingenuity and scale, the pans are fed by a natural spring which culls salt from the earth and are STILL in use today. Not included in the Boleto Turistico but worth a wink and a nod, the Salinas will set you back solamente 7 solitos, joven.

Peruvian Bonus Tracks:

Nazca Lines: A rickety lookout tower (dos solitos, si yo puedo recordarlo) off the side of the Panamaericana (which was built right through the Nazca lines before anyone even knew they existed) yields a relatively unimpressive view of a couple of minor Nazca figures. Nevertheless, the lines themselves do not fail to impress as their scale is immense and they crop up all over the desert floor as you’re riding the Panamerica at a good clip for miles and miles.

Huacachina Oasis: The sand dunes out in the desert near Ica, Peru stretch as far as the eye can see. A truly surreal scene in one of the most arid places on earth. The Huacachina Oasis is a little watering hole surrounded by an overpriced tourist ghetto and is skippable, although one might want to come just for the dunes, and there’s sandboarding and dune buggy rides also.

 

Coming soon: Macho Pichu: Flex-off on top of the hitching post of the Sun, son.

 

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An American Wereboy in Sudamerica: Year end recap.

One year on the road. Un ano. An excellent adventure and bogus journey. The throttle was turned and old New York was spied in the mirror in June of 2011. Since then we’ve spent most of our time in Latin America, through Mexico, down Central America way, over the Darien and into Colombia, then Ecuador, and now Peru. Patagonia was always the goal, and it still is, but I never really actually thought I would make it this far en serio. And indeed it is far and a long way to come on an old moto and in stinky boots.

Sure, few great truths are revealing themselves, few insights.

But look, it was never that kind of trip.

A great DJ once asked me, “Subcommandante, after all this is over, how will you adjust back to civilian life?”

The truth is that I never really adjusted to it anyway. So it’ll be more or less the same.

I’m just living my life, one peso at a time.

…but never mind that.

We’re in Peru now where the death roads bring new life when you’re staring into the eyes of the beast and crazy, muddy, rocky dirt roads with vertiginous drops blow us away like we’re listening to an old-school Maxwell tape.


On speaking Spanish:
After 8 months in Latin America I can faithfully say that I am a beginner level Spanish speaker. You hear a lot of people throw out the platitude that they can speak Spanish well enough to order food. The truth is that ordering food is one of the harder things to do while speaking Spanish in Latin America. It’s a process that is entirely different than ordering up a cheeseburger in the states. Every country and every different region of each country has different names for everything and, like an imaginary linguistic wall is set up between them, no one knows the words that other places use for different foodstuffs. Menus only exist in upscale joints and sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to get. It’s cool though and I don’t mind. The set lunch is a common thing down here and it’s something that I think we used to have in the states but disappeared a long time ago. It’s like the menu of the day but it’s super cheap, between $1.50 and $4 for the most part wherever you go and it comes with a soup, main dish with meat, starch and vegetable, a glass of juice, and sometimes a little something for desert. It’s really a great deal and it’s enough food for two people. En serio, my spanish is not that bad. It should be better, but I’m lazy. I never study my notes from Xela and I’m a loner man, a rebel, and care little for small talk anyways. And yet, I get by. Here I am.

But hey c’mon man, you got your whole life riding around in that rubbermaid top-box. What if somebody looks in there!?

Relax Billy, they won’t even know what it is man, they won’t even know what it is.

Che Guevara. Who was Che Guevara?

I dunno, some dude I guess. Latins and hipsters and gente the world over love their romantic losers, killed on mountaintops and emblazoned on t-shirts the world over. Best to die, but better to die for a cause.

I’m not going to tell you to go out and buy Che Guevara’s biography. I didn’t. I was going to, in a bookstore in Phoenix, but it was like 900 pages and weighed a metric ton. Couldn’t they have condensed it into a 200 page paperback? Louis L’Amour could’ve done it. I just wanted to know why those dreamy eyes are staring at me from a million t-shirts and car bumpers.

I read the wikipedia article and washed my hands of the whole thing. Fidel won his revolution, but there are no Fidel t-shirts and the reason is obvious. What if Guevara had won?

Che Guevara’s first name is Ernesto, but everyone called him Che because he used the word Che a lot. Che is like saying dude, or man, in American English. If Che Guevara grew up in Mexico instead of Argentina, everyone would have called him Guey Guevara. Because that’s what they say a lot in old Mexico.

I don’t care about dead revolutionaries and It’s not my fight anyway and so the mind drifts to other, more important things.


To go on forever, would be ideal.

The Salton and Camp Zero. One of the last great American wastelands which can never be forgotten.

Lusting for the sun on top of old Tajumulco down old Guatemala way, guey.

I was in Xela, Guatemala for nearly two months and everything revolved around the Miguel de Cervantes School of Spanish. They surprisingly had these neatly constructed ramps to get motorcycles up the two feet of steps and into the narrow hallway. I never fell but the thought of being pinned in the doorway with a hot exhaust pipe burning my leg to the bone was always there.

The Mexican experience summed up in this neat little sign, spied in San Cristobal.

Temascal, or Native American sweat lodge, had down in old Mazunte town.

Brain food baby. I miss Mexico…so long ago.

Free waffle breakfasts at the Roadrunner Hostel in Tucson taste alright to the desert drifter. Plans to dip south of the border materialized here. Who opens a hostel in Tucson?

Worlds tallest flag pole (it isn’t) in Calipatria, California. It was well over a hundred degrees that day and I was alright with that.

Saguaro cactus at the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Just south of Why, Arizona and bordering old Mexico, thousands of Saguaro reach and twist towards the sky in all sorts anthropomorphic shapes. I was camped out here, under a million stars, awakened by a Black Hawk border patrol helicopter hovering over my tent.

The Cabazon dinos and the end of the road for the great American adventure.

The Alvord desert. We had finally done it, reached the true West after the Alaskan adventure. A memory never fleeting, the Alvord will always reign supreme.

Dude, the Arctic Circle. Way up North. An incredible day really. I would do the Dempster in the rain and in the mud all the way up to Circle and back without pause. Over 500 miles and skies that stretch forever.

Hyder, Alaska. No small feat indeed. Hyder is this little thumb of America reachable by road that juts into British Colombia off the Cassiar Highway on the way to real Alaska. It felt good to be back on American soil, if only for an hour or so, and out of stinky ol’ Canada.

Ah, the melodious mambo beats of Captain Louis Prima. Who can forget lil’ Kevin and his homestead up in Northern Maine? I can’t, what with all his pianos and what not. This guy was a real surprise. An original.

It’s hard to beat Abi’s Adirondack cabin for a first night’s lodging’s. First day out was cold and wet and awful and my rain pants ripped to shreds, a harbinger of things to come.

This weird tomato from Morelia still makes me giggle and the memory of seeing a little girl that looked like French actor Jean Reno just minutes after purchase will forever be intertwined.

Ceiling of the LA Metro. Thousands of real reels line the ceiling for as far as the eye can see. I thought this was a nice touch. Each station has something different adorning the ceilings or walls.

Canyon of the Gods. No great American road trip can ever be complete without visiting the Grand Canyon. Check it off the list dog.

Teacup terrier shots are the thing to do on one’s 29th birthday in Los Angeles.

Why, Arizona. A great campsite under a great tree. The CB looks so cleeeeeean, a handsome ride.

Where’s the beef? The food in Mexico was amazing, inspirational even, the best in Latin America and the best I’ve seen yet in the world. I haven’t seen anything like it since, not even in Ecuador where they gobble down guinea pigs for breakfast. Sure, that’s different, but I don’t really want to eat guinea pigs. I just ate one because it’s the thing to do. But I could eat head tacos everyday. American food is boring, bland even, but the things we do we do well. New York pretzels and pizzas, a cheeseburger at any diner in America, a cheap fat steak, and a good beer are the things I miss most here in Latin America. They sell pizza in Latin America, but it’s universally terrible, and usually expensive because of the price of cheese. Most of it is sort of like Elios type stuff. The pizza place I used to work at on Long Island would cut the good cheese with the cheap to save money, the good sauce with the bad. I don’t want to know what they do here. Beef is expensive here too, and the hamburgers and cheeseburgers are always thin joints, all slathered in sauces and messy, salty, and disappointingly small. They use “super” a lot to describe the ones that come with cheese but they’re never super, and I always feel just a little bit sorry for my latino brethren because their super cheeseburgers aren’t super at all, but sad. Pitiful even. Maybe  as we inch closer to the pampas the beef situation will get better. No se che, vamos a ver.

But yea, I just miss the regular stuff about being an American in America. Bacon and eggs for breakfast, taking a shit in a clean bathroom, being comfortable and warm and snug, and even the law and order of it all I miss at times. Les extrano mis amigos and amigettes.

But I wouldn’t be here in Latin America if I didn’t want to be.

I’m going to miss Latin America wherever I go next. A lot. The people here might be xenophobic dicks sometimes(who isn’t?) but they are unpretentious and you can ride a motorcycle nearly anywhere. On the sidewalk, through buildings, or down one-way streets and no one cares. Motos are looked at here kind of like the way bicycles are in the states. And go ahead and climb a live volcano if you want to because no one will turn you away.

And when all this is said and done, I don’t know where I’ll end up. Probably America. There are no jobs down here in Latin America anyway. You can teach English and make $5 an hour and scrape by, or rent out your abs to washerwomen for less, but neither is a real option; maybe for a little while.

Just remember that wherever you go, people are going to be the same, no matter the tongue.

Predictable.

There are scant originals out there, though it’s been told that but a few hooligans still roam the roads, searching for something that they will never find.

strangers in a strange land

…with thoughts of the West continuously swirling inside their heads.

That’s it yo.

No regrets…well, maybe a few, but the trip isn’t over yet and they will be made up for.

The heat is on and it’s never been hotter.

See you in Patagonia putas.

Meet me across the sky.

Happy Holidays America

Watching Richard with the machine, it was suddenly so clear. The Cb500T, would never stop. It would never leave him, and it would never hurt him, never shout at him, or get drunk and hit him, or say it was too busy to spend time with him. It would always be there. And it would die, to protect him. Of all the would-be bikes who came and went over the years, this thing, this machine, was the only one who measured up. In an insane world, it was the sanest choice…

A busted up spark plug thread can be repaired on the cheap in old Quetzaltenangotown and the CB500T breathes again…

see you in 2012, bitches

-Miguel Noche

CB500T Resurrection update

Know that nothing is more satisfying than hearing a dormant engine come to life, no matter how many kicks.

A recent trip to the parental compound yielded some garage time with the venerable CB500T. A fierce winter has prohibited much face time with the CB, but thankfully we are dealing with a 70’s Honda here, albeit the most cantankerous of the lot, and there is not much fuss to be had. Many kicks and many moons witnessed the CB sputter and start. A tune-up and down will need to be had: the carbs cleaned, points set, and valves checked before she is to roar once again.

She was not properly put to sleep lo so many moons ago and the discovery was made of float bowls full of gasoline, although there did not appear to be any gelatinous deposits; for which the motorcycle Gods can be thanked.

NMBP

She would not hold a throttle, and as such will require some tenderness.

The following work will need to be completed in order to right this ship:

  • Clean Carbs
  • Tune up: set valves, set points, set timing
  • True Wheels
  • Fix Headlight/Shore up electrical system
  • Install New Chain
  • Tune Down
  • Square Away Brakes
  • Fix/Weld exhaust flange

Non-essential but important nonetheless:

  • Change fork-oil and toss-on fork gaitors
  • Drill front rotor
  • Remove starter, garner and install block-off plate
  • Source CB450 headers and toss crossover box
  • Tires and tubes

Important spares to garner and carry:

  • throttle cable
  • clutch cable (have already)
  • rectifier/regulator (running one from OMP but best to be prepared)
  • points (have (gl1000 points are the same))

 

CB500T Metal-bit Reconnaissance Mission Vol. 2

As noted in my previous post, if the CB500T is EVER to be considered as a viable candidate for pre and/or post apocalyptic transport, its original design flaws must be fixed and its appetite for self-destruction quashed!
As such, as any responsible hooligan manboy hybrid would do, I am taking the steps to rectify the aforementioned maladies; and restore the CB to its former glory!

To do this, the first step that one must do is remove the left-side crankcase cover. This will reveal the alternator rotor. It is big and round and magnetic and looks you in the eye. You will need to remove this to get to the starter clutch. To remove the alternator rotor you must first loosen and remove it’s bolt, which holds it fast to the crankshaft. Note that this is a normally threaded bolt and follows the age old paradigm of righty tighty lefty loosey. We must apply counterclockwise pressure here, mind you. To get this bolt out you must either put the bike in gear and stand on the brake so that the engine does not turn…or if this doesn’t work, as it did not for me, apply the two penny trick! Of course, this is a pain in the ass and requires the removal of the right side crankcase cover but thoughtful hooligans truly don’t mind because this entails the double benefit of exposing the oil screen which you may now clean.

Fair enough. Get that right side crankcase cover off and place two stacked pennies between the crank pinion and clutch hub gears to arrest the engine.

The rotor bolt will now be able to loosen without the engine turning.

There is one more step now to remove the rotor.
The alternator rotor must be popped off of the crankshaft. You will either need a special “tool” for this step or a 16mm x 1.5 pitch bolt. Of course, this bolt is unobtanium at most any hardware store on earth.
Fortunately, for owners of 1975 Honda CB200T’s, the CB200T axle will fit into that rotor perfectly.
But, not the CB500T’s axle. It is too big.
Sochiro Honda is an asshole at times, but, we forgive him for making otherwise beautiful and reliable motorbikes.

Now, screw the CB200T axle/special tool into the alternator rotor and turn, clockwise. Keep turning, add some pressure, and the rotor will pop off.
Heed this warning: Go slow.

CB200T axle mmmm

If you are elderly or infirm and desire to keep your electric starter mechanism, you must be careful when removing the alternator rotor, for behind it is the starter clutch with all its various bits and pieces. These will fall and scatter and bounce all over your garage floor should you not take care.

Note: Hooligans and boy adventurers care not for electric started mechanisms and prefer to kick start all machines. As such, the electric starter clutch of the CB500T will be relegated to the dustbin of history.

sheared bolts, ovaled holes: no better than scrap!

As it now stands anyway, it is worth less than scrap.

Hudson Valley Chronic

Enjoy these vintage snaps from a little upstate New York shakedown run circa April 2009:

“History fades into fable; fact becomes clouded with doubt and controversy; the inscription moulders from the tablet: the statue falls from the pedestal. Columns, arches, pyramids, what are they but heaps of sand; and their epitaphs, but characters written in the dust?”
-Washington Irving

(Note: due to arcane New York vehicle laws, all motorcycles must be inspected each year to prove their safety. Hey Gov. Patterson, keep your filthy mitts off my bike!)

top secret location in upstate New York near Bear Mountain Bridge: For vintage motorcyclists only!

Saugerties, NY

Esopus Creek and Saugerties Lighthouse, one of the 7 wonders of ancient New York.

1975 Honda CB500T juxtaposed with $million dollar$ Harley. Now ask yourself, just who is winning the Karmic Wars?

Feeling horny? No? How about now? Give it a minute…

Required reading for all Hudson Valleyites.

Never forgive.

Never forget!

The Subconscious Destruction of Bike #4

All Ninjas go to hell

The Ninja 500r is a little cunt of a machine. I bought it because it reminded me of my Honda CB500T, a 1975 model. I liked that bike and still have it and it will likely never be sold because it was a gift
(from Marlo, no less!). I like it but don’t love it at all. The CB has character and style, a me-generation machine. It’s got a brown tank, brown seat, and padded sissy bar. No one believes in it still, even after I took it to Florida and to James Bay and rode part of the Trans-taiga Road on it. That’s 6600 miles of non-failure. The appeal of that machine is its simplicity. There is nothing to it, really; two cylinders, two carbs, a couple of wheels, etc. The seating position is perfect. It sounds like a bike and rattles and vibrates like a real bike should. The thing about the CB is that it handles and feels like shit. It is the most non-confidence inspiring motorycle ever built and feels like it is going to fall apart all the time. It is far too maintenance intensive and needs constant readjustment of the valves, carbs, and timing. For some reason, the chain needs to be adjusted every 300 or 400 miles. There are also some other minor and major confidence sapping things about it which I will get to at some later juncture in time.

Therefore, I set out to purchase the modern equivalent of a 1975 CB500T with all the things that I like about the CB but with better reliability and non-spoked wheels because I hate changing tubes.

Getting a flat on a tube tire entails removing the wheel from the bike, removing one side of the tire from the wheel, patching the tube or installing a new tube, and remounting the wheel; which also entails fiddling with the spacers, chain, rear brake, and axle to get everything back together and then adjusting the chain again. Try doing this in the rain or when it’s 95 degrees out and then you discover that you pinched a hole in the tube and you have to do it all over again. Sometimes there are a lot of little parts that make up the whole rear wheel assembly, like little safety clips, nuts, bolts, etc. When I was changing a tire on the James Bay Road I lost a little part of the rear brake in the gravel on the side of the road (this little barrel shaped thing with a hole in it) and would have been fucked if I wasn’t able to fabricate something in its stead. Keep in mind that getting the tire off of and then back on the wheel is worse than Sartre’s verson of hell. Hell is changing tires.


So I sought a bike with solid wheels.

I also sought a bike with a centerstand, which is like a kickstand that pops the rear wheel off the ground. This makes it easier to lube the chain, air up your tires, or perform any needed maintenance. The point is that a centerstand is the most practical thing that you can have on a bike. Most newer bikes do not come with centerstands anymore.

I decided that this bike must be water cooled. I imagined myself riding through the desert with an ambient temperature of 120 degrees. An air-cooled engine is something that I do not trust to do this and survive without any extreme sacrifice to longevity. Although, an air-cooled engine would probably be fine.

I also sought a bike that was cheap to purchase, cheap to maintain, and cheap to insure.

MPG, weight, cost, and reliability were also paramount to my bike search.

The bike of choice ended up being a 2001 Kawasaki Ninja 500r with 5500 miles on it.  This bike fulfilled all of the aforementioned qualities.

However, the bike is purple and is an extraordinarily ugly bike. Despite its model year of 2001, the Ninja 500 has remained virtually unchanged since its inception in the 1980’s.

It’s another bike that no one respects.

Despite all this, it is one of the most reliable, stout fucking machines ever made. It is small and light, extremely cheap to own and maintain and requires relatively little maintenance. Please note however that adjusting the valves on this bike is an awful experience as compared to a 70’s Honda. To adjust the valves, one needs to drain the coolant, remove the tank, peel back the fairing, unbolt a bunch of hoses and shit, and then defty slide the valve cover out through the frame. This exposes the top part of the engine and allows you to drop shit into the crankcase if you’re not paying attention.

I will give the bike credit in this regard because you don’t need to shim anything. You just adjust the valves with a screw and lock washer. Otherwise, you would need to carry around different size shims, and then what happens if you dont have enough shims or one of the shims is not the right size? Then you have to put everything back together and find a shim somewhere. I don’t want to do that.

And it goes without saying that I will be doing the valve adjustments personally, as well as everything else.

Like I said, no one respects the 500.

You know what; neither do I. I’ve always hated that bike and bought it solely for its practicality. I destroyed it yesterday. This was an act of the subconcious. I know this because I subconciously destroyed my 2007 VW Rabbit also. Totalled it.

I drove it into the side of a garbage truck at 40mph. The Rabbit and I hurtled into the driver’s side door of the garbage truck as it blindly pulled away from the curb and right into my lane. I didn’t see it at all because of the low angle of the sun. The sun was shining directly into my eyes as I drove perfectly straight in the center of my lane doing the speed limit. The impact ripped the passenger side of the Rabbit apart from the hood to the rear wheel and spun the car around 180 degrees so that I was then facing the garabge truck. I was physically unmolested and the garbage truck sustained minimal damage to the cab doorstep. No garbagemen were molested either. A garbageman or myself could have easily been ripped to fucking shreds. A testament to German engineering, the engine never skipped a beat and was still running after this spectacular crash. But get this(!), the week before the aforementioned crash I had bemoaned publicly, to Marlo at least, that I no longer wished to be in debt to that car, that it was a great car BUT I possesed no feelings towards it. No ill will but no real feelings of attachment. I wished that I could get out of that fucking loan somehow, as I did not want to feel indebted to Chase bank to the tune of 12g’s for a car I did not truly love. I wished it would be totalled. I merely said aloud what I had been thinking, but never truly admitting, to myself for some time

The car was totalled the following week and I paid back those gross slimy moneylenders at Chase bank.

Of course, we all buy shiny new things for different reasons. I was tired of buying shitty $500 cars and smashing them up or having them break. Maybe I wanted to celebrate the fact that I was making $10 an hour and living at home.

I should never have shiny new things.

And after my experience with the Ninja, I realized that I should never have purple things either really.

In regards to my destruction of the Rabbit, I wished the same for the Ninja, though I was more outspoken this time. I hated its purpleness, shitty plastic fairing that did not even look cool, and weird seating position. Sitting on that thing always made the back of my knees sweaty, even when it was cold outside. All this was no secret. I treasured its reliability, and that was the reason why I bought it, but was disgusted by its lack of panache. A bike or a car can lack panache and still redeem itself by merely doing something remarkable, like going fast or stopping on a dime or railing around corners. The ninja did none of these well enough to distinguish itself from anything else out there. And so much for its reliability. A motor should not be designed to so easily semi-self destruct.

So fuck it, its done for and I’m not gonna gix it.

Know that I destroyed it subconciously.

I did the valves yesterday and, like I said previously, you have to take half of the fucking thing apart to perform a relatively simple and routine maintenance procedure. The valve cover needs to wrestled out from between the top of the engine and frame. Pressed into the valve cover and/or head are these little steel dowels that occasionally come lose, for instance when your wrestling the valve cover off. This is a stupid fucking design because if one of these things falls out and drops into the crankcase and you don’t notice the engine is pretty much fucked. Well, fucked in the sense that depending on the damage made by this little metal cylinder bouncing around in the engine, you will have to do a lot of work to fix it, ie. dissasemble engine, have shit machined, etc. All this trouble for a little dowel that doesn’t really need to be there in the first palce and should be fixed permanently or semi-permanently to the cover or head so that it doesn’t fall into the fucking engine and destroy it when your doing a simple maintenance procedure. I remembered to keep an eye on the dowels the last time I did the valves, 7,000 miles ago (ahead of schedule, like any Karmic minded mechanic should do with any and all maintenance but more on that later).

With everything else during that valve adjustment I was extra careful this time, deft even. To be honest with you, even though I was being extremely careful, I dropped a screw into the engine and had to go to the store to buy one of those tools with the magnet on the end to fish it ouf of the crankcase. This was while I was being careful and paying attention (as noted earilier, it’s a stupid fucking design).

The fact of the matter is that I willed one of those dowels to drop ino the engine and stop it dead (on the Southern State Parkway) because I hated that bike. Because I am stubborn, I would have taken that bike around the world with sweaty knee-backs. No longer. The motorcycle Gods have spoken clearly it is not meant to be. I knew this and that is why I am not fixing the Ninja.

If you read this and want the Ninja please let me know. The rest of it is in awesome shape.

I am in the market for a new bike…maybe

The bike cost me a little bit. I’ll eat the cost. Fuck it. I’m done with it. It will not be my vehicle of choice when the apocalypse comes.

Therefore I must find a new bike.