I guess they are called shakedown miles for a reason….
After resolving the concern about the front of the barrels being covered in oil (minor fail, oil filter not done up quite tight enough) I was feeling lucky and brought the outfit to the RV for self, Platonic Road Companion and Rödskägg for a trip to Stratford Autojumble.
It was running brilliantly, the new cut-down screen looked the bollocks, and we even found the missing doo-hickey that means you can start the bike in neutral without the clutch in.
We have an established order, PRC goes first because he knows all the good roads, I go in the middle in case of disaster, and Röd rides tailgunner in case anything falls off the outfit. This normally works brilliantly but today we got to one of the big roundabouts on the way to the Fosse where you lose line-of-sight on the approach. When the roundabout came back into view there were bikes everywhere, it was like the casino scene in Sister Act where the nuns scatter to make impossible for Vince’s goons to find Dolores (Van Cartier!)
I guess it sounds a bit romantic but I always think that, a bit like medieval knights, we get to know each other through the colours that we wear and how we sit on the bikes. Even against a scene of a dozen scooter boys and another ten or so adventure riders I know who to follow.
I got even bolder, sneaked up to 70mph on the motorway (which the bike didn’t used to do at all) and tried a “GLF” at the national speed limit sign after some roadworks, my joy only slightly marred by being overtaken by a Porsche driver who didn’t see the need to wait until we’d actually passed the sign before winding it on. My right-hand mirror went limp in sympathy with the Porsche pilot’s dick, he got 30 yards before I caught him up.
Then disaster 😦 on the outskirts of Stratford the bike suffered a massive backfire and started bunnyhopping around. Maybe I’d underestimated the amount of fuel in the tank? Wouldn’t be the first time. We were just passing a Shell garage so I nipped in, filled up and that seemed to help, the final few hundred yards to the racecourse went smoothly.
Excellent cheeseburger, some good haggling, nice cup of tea.
Oh dear god.
An occasional backfire at exactly 4.5k revs was manageable.
Then it became a frequent backfire.
Then it became almost constant with the engine under any load at all.
Then the throttle began randomly surging.
Trust me on this, when you are wrangling an outfit, the last thing you want is unexpected throttle input. That’s going to plunge you abruptly to the left.
So I’m juggling the clutch, bouncing around nearly as much as the rev counter needle, trying to use as little throttle as possible, fighting the bars, cruising down hills -except of course you can’t cruise round a downhill lefthand bend with a sidecar…. many apologies to anyone who had their peaceful Sunday rudely interrupted by something that sounded like Ukrainian air defence at work.
And when not trying to stay in a straight line I’m wondering what the fuck I’ve fucked up. It feels like ignition. When the Lomax had these symptoms it was condenser failure, but the W650 doesn’t have points and a condenser, it has a black box.
Oh shit – a horse coming the other way, with an HGV behind it. There is NO WAY ON EARTH I can fart and bang my way past. So I pull over, and switch off.
Unwise. Horse safely past, I try and start – nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Now actually this was a massive clue and led to the problem being spotted and sorted. Should I tell you? Best guesses in the comments and I’ll come back and finish the story tomorrow.