Jan 042014

I’ve got a not-so-secret secret…I have two motorcycles, not one. The black BMW R1100RSL has been my steady date for years, an utterly reliable bike that I’m commuting on several times a week now. She’s pretty modern, lots of power and rubber on the road, great suspension, and ABS brakes for those fun days when it rains. But she’s not my love, she’s just a date (carrying the metaphor too far, to be sure!)

The babe in my motorcycle heart is a 1979 BMW R100S, which I bought as a basket case in 1996 and completely tore down and rebuilt. The epic story is more-or-less encapsulated here, and there are photos of her here on this website. Originally equipped with a pair of loud Staintune racing mufflers, she earned the moniker “Mondo Decibels”. For a BMW, she has presence – not obnoxious Harley presence – something louder than the soft purr of a stock beemer. More recently, the mufflers were swapped to something a bit quieter, yet quite a bit louder than stock.

But the uncomfortable truth is, she has been silent for over two years.

I took the carburetors off this bike in 2011, sent them out for rebuilding, got them back…then Nancy became ill, and I have not installed them. My moto-babe has been sitting in the garage for 2-1/2 years, awaiting resurrection. It’s just another part of my life that I have not yet picked up and reclaimed. Now it’s time.

This morning dawned cool but sunny in Fairfax, and I have a completely uncommitted weekend. After liberal dosings of Kona coffee, I swept the driveway, pulled out the babe and tools and compressor and cleaning stuff and rebuilt carbs…and spent three hours putting them back on the bike. If you are a wrench, you know that carb refits are a PITA. Cables have to be adjusted just so, fittings snugged up, plus there is usually spooge (“motorcycle grime”) in the area to clean off: wire brushes, toothbrushes, ChemTool, Simple Green, or whatever it takes. I’ve been doing all those things. And my hands now look like the the “dud guy” from Mystery Date, if you are old enough to remember what that means.

But the babe is looking good. Cobwebs removed, tires back to proper pressure, gas tank drained and refilled with the fresh, high-octane real thing. Fresh oil. Battery on the charger all day. In a few hours, I’ll try to start her. There will probably be more issues, electrical connections to clean, etc. But tomorrow I expect to have her out on the back roads of Marin. It’s time.