Well, bad news team, turn the days without incident clock back to zero! In the thirteen-ish years I’ve been riding I could say I have only “crashed” once, until yesterday. Sure, I’ve tipped over a zillion times, but yesterday takes the prize. I’ll let the video speak for itself, but here is the Reader’s Digest version. It hadn’t rained at home, but fifteen miles away at the trailhead, it must have dumped. The trail was wet, muddy, and slicker than snail snot. This bike cruises the rolling hill trails really well in 2nd and 3rd gear, 15-25 miles per hour, without lugging the engine. I found that there is also an abundance of torque, that if not controlled in the right conditions will loop you out right on your head. I’m ordinarily one to try to ride a mistake out, even if I end up off the trail a little ways, but not yesterday.
Yesterday, I let the motorcycle-sized rock on the side of the trail use love and logic method of parenting on me, and the choices were not good. Choice A, right the bike and center punch it, then fly over the handlebars down the hill fifty feet. Choice B lay the bike down and center punch it, fly over the handlebars and up the slightly inclining trail ten feet into some fist-sized rocks and maybe if I was lucky I’d miss a big tree. I was hoping for a Choice C that didn’t include a center punch with resulting human caber toss, but none came so I took my chances on B and luckily escaped with a bruised side, some broken plastic, and twisted metal. As a result of the impact,I damaged the headlight, number plate plastic, and punched a hole in the front fender. Amazingly enough everything, even the blinkers worked, except the headlight, so up the trail we continued.
The end of this trail spits you out on a gravel road, which we rode to the end and up a single track trail about a mile just to see how low the snow line was. First gear on the single track was great, and I rapped it out a little more than I had before and got enough speed so I didn’t feel so wobbly while maintaining plenty of torque to crawl over the obstacles. We then returned the way we had come. Once out on the gravel road I opened up the throttle a little, and in 5th gear at 5000 rpm I could clip along at 44 mph. If you pushed it I would bet you would top out at about 55 mph,(that will be a test for another day, when there isn’t bad juju floating around).
Once back at the truck I thought I could fish around behind the broken number plate and fix the headlight, but in my hurry to fix the headlight, I shorted out the system and blew the main fuse. While standing there cursing my bad luck, we hear a guy on a 450 hauling up the gravel road to the parking lot, but before he can race into the parking lot, he realizes the hard way, like myself, that in order to ride a motorcycle the rubber side must stay down. He skidded on his backside almost into the parking lot, burning the butt right out of his 501s. Talk about a walk of shame! — Waddling into the parking lot pushing his bike with a busted clutch perch and a full moon hanging out of his once blue jeans. I thought to myself, “Well, things can always be worse!”
You should never say stuff like that, you will only find out a short time later that you were absolutely right. When I got home I decided to unload the bike by myself, which I’ve done a million times without incident, but this time not so. I’ll spare you the gory details and the profanity which ensued, but somehow I ended up with the bike tipped over, me on the ground on my side and the handlebars threaded through the front pocket of my hoodie pinning me to the ground. Good thing it was dark because I had to half undress to get myself unsnarled from the mess.
Upon further review this morning the repair plan is as follows: new fuse, solder and fix the headlight connector, weld the plastic back, and bend the blinker mount back into place and Bob’s your uncle, good as new. As a side note, with the fuse fried you can still kick start the bike and the gauges work once fired. The kick start is an interesting design, you must lift the foot peg up which automatically locks into place so the starter lever can pass by it. I was skeptical as to how well it would work but it fired up second kick. It is a great emergency feature but its design makes the electric start system look even better.
I did take the time to soften the shocks, and it made a world of difference, but I think I’m going to deflate the front tire down to 3 lbs and see if that will improve the control even more. The chain is done stretching, I think — at least it hasn’t started talking to me again. I think an aftermarket o-ring chain would be something to consider. I was excited to test out the headlight a little but for oblivious reasons couldn’t, so that will be a test for a later date. I was very impressed with the way the bike handled on the short distance of single track we traveled. I’m excited to put some serious single track miles behind us and see just how this bike handles on the most complicated trails.