To bike, or not to bike

1st November 2020 |

It’s been ten weeks since I asked the existential question which afflicts all of us from time to time: Is it me or the bike? Is it my state of mind that is making my bike behave badly, or is it my bike’ s bad behaviour that’s giving me the willies? Today I am happy to announce that it was the bike all along.

If you remember, I had a BMW 650, which I brought from Germany to my house in France three years ago, when I was 86. It was a long ride and I celebrated the fact that I felt really good, and the years fell off me. The bike also ran perfectly well except that every now and again it stopped. To get it going again I had to pull the fuel line off the tap, spill a bit of petrol, shove it back on again and ride until it stopped again. Nobody could figure out why. Then for one reason or another the bike had to sit in the garage for a very long time, and when I got it out again I was 89.

It was still mysteriously stopping and more often, but worse than that it felt really bad, like I could never find the right gear. So that’s when I put the existential question. Was it me or the bike? Maybe I’m just too old to ride a proper motorcycle. Many people had suggestions about the fuel problem. But it wasn’t a vacuum in the tank, and it wasn’t crap in the tap.

Simon de Burton, visiting me, said he thought the fuel filter might be overheating and vapourising the fuel, so the string was to hold it away from the block. But that didn’t help either.

Well I thought of giving it all up, but I’ve become sentimental in my old age. This bike and I have been through some stuff together, and among other things it was seriously twisted up front, so my right hand always arrived at the destination a little before my left hand. I was quite used to riding it like that, but I thought, as a last tribute I’d get it straightened out. Maybe at the same time the shop will figure out what made it keep stopping.

So. I got it back this week. It’s straightened out and there’s a new front disc. I rode it sixty miles to Bedarieux and back and it felt wonderful. And now that I look at that picture above again, it’s obvious what was wrong, because the filter is empty. Before I brought it from Germany I had never had an inline filter. I didn’t know that it was supposed to be full. The mechanic knew exactly what to do. There was a blockage in the carburetor and he sucked it out with a vacuum. Job done. No charge. If you ever get stuck in my area go to Moto Activ in Clermont l’Herault.

So here, looking rather dorky, is yours truly, on the road again for another year, with nothing to worry about except next Tuesday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY MY NEIGHBOUR M. ARNAL

More interruptions next week. Cheers.