Snag finds that motorcycles operate much better with a wheel at each end following a big moment aboard his Norton Commando.
Let’s stop all the bulltwang right here – the plain fact is that we are in the risk minimisation business – big time. Close calls are pretty much a standard phenomenon for motorcyclists.
We can bang on about bike safety, rant that the safety ideologues have it wrong (and they most certainly do), but, if you ride a motorcycle for any length of time, you will have a close call – or many.
We get better at dealing with them, or we get hurt. Okay, most of them are caused by knobheads that shouldn’t be in charge of a game of marbles, let alone a car, but that’s beside the point.
It’s all worth it though. Imagine not riding at all? Yep, shiver….
Well, I had an incident a while back, that can only be described as a potential motorcycle-based-near-death experience (MBNDE) – and I hadn’t even started the bike at all.
‘What the hell?’, I hear you say? Well, pull up the pouf (now, now), get a strong coffee and I’ll explain…
It all started innocently enough. You see, that year, I took the Norton Commando to the Broadford Bike Bonanza. It’s a really cool day, where old battlers like me and the Commando could leather up and fang about like either of us have a clue.
All 65 horsepower of Britain’s worst and all 60 years of ‘no-clue’ me got to gallivant about, feeling like Peter Williams on the John Player at the Isle of Man. It’s huge fun. That was at Easter. I enjoyed the event and put the bike away, happy and tired.
Life, and its scintillating intricacies then took over, I had a bunch of test bikes to ride and the Norton spent a lonely winter arguing with the Villiers mower about whether or not that upstart Chinese whipper-snipper had any damned right to share shed space alongside them.
They must have decided that it would sproing its guts all over the yard soon enough, as had its three predecessors, and arrived at the decision to live with it.
So, with summer coming on, my eldest bloke wheeled the old beastie out of hibernation to give it a clean and fettle. In my usual stringently fastidious manner, I was going to just charge her up, bung in some clean fuel and twisto-throttlo like an old man possessed.
Thank Christ Son One reckoned the bike should look its best for the festive season rubber-neckers (‘I had one of those in the forties mate, got the rest of your life to listen to me prattle on about it?’) and the thrum of petite, short-skirted Euro-giggly girls that jauntily de-bus up there on Arthur’s Seat. Good call, young man.
About half an hour after he started, he called me out to take a look. He reckoned the isolastics were gone, such was the movement of the rear wheel when pushed about a bit. I took a look and concurred. Isos-cacto is the scientific name. Until…
I noted that the rear axle nut was loose. Like half a turn of one thread from coming off! That’s loose.
So, had I done a couple more laps at Broadford, the rear wheel would have almost certainly come off at Creg Ny Baa speed. And, worse, I was about to head out for a blat in holiday traffic.
Oh, My, God. If that ain’t an MBNDE, well my name isn’t Peter Will… Umm, Snag.
See? Risk minimisation.
Rule One: Make sure, before getting an oldie from the shed, that your kid cleans it first. Oh, and see you at the next Broadford Bike Bonanza, set down for Easter 2021.
Snag’s career in motoring journalism spans 29 years with stints at major bike mags Australian Road Rider, Motorcycle Trader and AMCN along with contributions to just about every other outlet worth a hill of beans. He was editor of Unique Cars magazine and hosts his legendary podcast ‘Snag Says’ when he gets off his date.