Saturday, April 18, 2009
I'm Ducatista now
So, after 4 years of hemming and hawing I finally closed the deal on a Ducati. The GT1000, a sensible yet powerful bike, with understated beauty and a classic look. I'm come to realize that we pick motorcycles much like we pick our women. I don't like flashy girls, and thus a sleek sports bike isn't for me. My old KTM was a little too uncomfortable, and although she gave me lots of exciting rides, I've come to miss the comfortable, casual cruise of a standard bike with sensible ergonomics. Similarly, I don't like the large presence of Harley's. So draw your own conclusions there. My GT1000 has a strong and feisty heart, simple and air-cooled, has a beautiful purr, and has plenty of excitement when I want it. Just like my ideal girl. Bucking beauty. Shortly after I got here though, I discovered the joy of the 'Ducati Neutral'. For those of you who know, bear with me while I explain to the non-bikers (heck non-Ducatista out there), the ducati neutral is when the light indicates that the bike is in neutral gear, but it really isn't. Apparently this is common in Ducati's. So I parked outside a cafe on a nice and sunny day, had my coffee and relaxed and enjoyed the bohemian lifestyle of Tokyo, geared up, and made the mistake (which I'll never again) of starting the bike while standing beside it, without pulling the clutch. To my horror she jumps and lurches forward, and I catch her in time before she topples herself onto her side. Thanks to the servo-starter on Ducati's, the starter motor continued to turn and turn, trying to jump the engine into starting while I was holding onto her for dear life with my left hand on the left handlebar, and my leg holding her up and keeping her from falling down. As my left hand was busy holding her back I couldn't let go to pull the clutch in, thankfully in the 2 seconds that it all happened, I remained calm, and cool, and managed to hit the kill switch on the right side, before she managed to break free from my grip or burn out her starter motor. After 5 seconds, of calming my nerves, and a breath of relief after I checked her for any obvious damage, I slowly rode away, hoping that this was as close to an accident that I would ever come with her... given that she would be very costly to repair thanks to her Italian heritage. The only casualty was that I managed to loosen the left mirror stalk, and a little bit of pride. (and perhaps did the starter motor no favours as well) Ducati really really needs to fix this electronic hiccup. But after that, I am always sure to start the bike while sitting on her, and with the clutch pulled. Polishing her pipes for 3 hours. Somehow I managed to get some melted goop on her chrome pipes. I was certain that somebody had delibertely slobbered some gum or plastic goop on her while I left her parked in shibuya, but I can't be sure. Anyway, turns out that melted plastic is the WORSE nightmare for chrome pipes. In the past with the KTM, I would have scraped away with my fine grit sanding sponge, but now that the pipes are shiny and chrome, adding swirly scratches struck me as not doing my beauty justice. So I researched and researched on the internet. Apparently (I haven't tried) easy-off oven cleaner works, but to my chagrin, no easy-off is to be found in japan. So thankfully my co-worker who owns a Harley had some good advice. Some goopy solution used for cleaning pans was my salvation. Unfortunately salvation never comes easy. Even with soaking the stain in the solution painted onto the pipes for 1hour, it took a sum total of 3 hours of labour intensive scrubbing with alumninum foil for the stain to finally come off. At the end of the ordeal, I was quite totally shacked and exhausted. The only upside of the whole thing was that I was able to use the term 'I was downstairs cleaning her pipes for 3 hours' in a legitimate fashion. My advice is never ever ever get anything plastic touching your pipes when hot.