Shootin' the Breeze

by "Bummer"

bummer @ abate

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February 2014

    Well, here we are in that month that is NEVER pronounced the way it’s spelled. To me, the only good thing about February is it’s the shortest month of the year, having less than 30 days. And even then, every 4 years it leaps from 28 to 29 days! All in all, it is a totally weird month. And February is usually the most frustrating of months too: It could at the same time be full of hope for the soon approaching warmer weather, yet it’s also often full of yucky days that are cold, wet, and sloppy. In fact in Old England it used to be called Solmonath (mud month).

    Other than Valentine’s Day which doesn’t really mean too much to someone who suffers from romantic depression (like I do these days), there aren’t even any cool holidays worth mentioning in February. In fact overall, every year I have a hard time finding anything good to write about for this month (and I can usually bullshit about anything). So instead, I’m gonna tell ya about something that happened 7 years ago.

    I originally wrote this column back in 2007, but I never submitted it to this magazine for publication because I felt it was too whiney. But now I’m both single AND retired, so if I can’t vent to y’all, then who can I vent to? Anyway, I tweaked it a bit and here it is. Since this will probably be read on a cold and ugly day in February, it just might be appropriate......

    Good friends, a couple I love as brother and sister, asked me to go riding with them far into Pennsylvania on a beautiful autumn day recently (back in 2007). Buffalo and Bobbi both ride and are probably the finest folks I’ve ever known.

    The weather was absolutely fantastic and the trees were in full Technicolor. The deep blue sky was full of big, puffy white clouds and the air was crisp and clear as we stopped to get something to eat at a steakhouse. After filling up with some Prime Rib I had to have assistance just prying myself outta the damned booth! I usually ask for a table because of my big gut, but this time I just forgot. I hope I never make that mistake again. Round guys don’t fit into (or I should say, OUT of) square booths very well. After we got back on the road it occurred to me that it had been a long time since I tooled around Pennsylvania.

    Back in the 70’s I lived real close to the Pa. state line in Kinsman, Ohio, and the nearest Harley shop was actually IN Pa. (and so was the nearest liquor store or bar). But even then I didn’t cruise over there on the bike very often due to their helmet law. For now, that’s not an issue (notice I said ‘for now’). But I do remember leaving my home and riding to Gary’s HD in Conneaut, Pa. bareheaded and not realizing it until it was too late. I managed to get away with it the few times that happened because it was mostly country riding with few cops on the route. But the point is I never really had the chance to just relax and comfortably enjoy the ride into Pennsylvania back then. I’m just now realizing that the roads deeper into Pa. are absolutely great to ride!

    I bet those of you from the southern part of Ohio would probably say the same thing about the hills and mountains of West Virginia and Kentucky. And like our neighboring states to the south, mid to western Pa. IS rather mountainous and hilly, so the result is there’s lots of winding, twisty cruisin’ to be had. Most of the trip had long stretches of forested roadside, and the constant contrast between warm sunshine and cool shade always makes for a pleasant, relaxing ride.

   The only negative aspect of the whole day (besides getting stuck in that damned booth) happened way later when I was almost home and pulled onto MY road. I noticed a faint, strange and ugly sound emanating from my motor, which I only heard because I’m mature enough to ride a QUIET bike these days (I say this to screw with all my LOUD friends. Kids! Sheesh!!) Anyway, I immediately turned her off and literally coasted into my driveway and on into my garage (I just love electric garage-door openers!)

    Now, to fully explain what happened, I’m gonna go off on a tangent for a few minutes here and bitch about something that is totally wrong on the part of a certain American motorcycle manufacturer and it’s policy regarding how they back up their product.

    My bike, a Road King, was made in 1999. It was the first year for the Twin-Cam 88 engine. All the bikes made with that motor for the first few years’ production were manufactured with a chain that connected the two cams, instead of a gear or direct drive like the “Motor Company” should have done from the very start.

    As soon as it became apparent that THAT was a manufacturing flaw that could leave ya on the side of the road with a MAJOR repair, the flaw was corrected by the manufacturer. They repaired and converted the motor in every case where that happened (the cam chain actually blowing apart) with those early models, but only IF they were still under warrantee. If there was NO cam chain break (even though it was obvious there might, and probably WILL eventually be), the company would NOT do anything about it. In other words, “If it breaks in the first year, we’ll fix it. If it DOESN’T break, we won’t. If it breaks AFTER that, it’s YOUR problem.” I first heard about all this years ago, but couldn’t do anything about it because like I said, the company didn’t actually have a recall for those that didn’t break yet. Sorta like, “Even though we admit our engineer’s screw-up, we’ll fix your car after it explodes, but not until then.”

    Now remember, back then they only gave a one-year warrantee. Although the bike is now (in 2014) 15 years old, that first whole year it sat on its kickstand, because like a damned idiot I lost my license celebrating when I was told my bike was available (yeah, you heard me correctly). Back then there was sometimes a 3 or 4 year waiting list to get certain models because the “Motor Company” couldn’t keep up with orders. I actually had to put my brand new scoot in my brother’s name just to get storage insurance in case of theft because I couldn’t insure it without a license. Since I had two bikes until 2005 or so (and I usually rode the other one), even now (in 2014) she only has less than 60,000 miles on her. But back when that cam chain broke, she had less than a few thousand because except on longer trips I just didn’t ride her that much. Like I said, I usually rode the Shovel.

    The reason I’m making such a stink about this is that the repair cost was over $1200.00! And that didn’t include the new oil pump (a $350.00 part) that I needed because the old one was ruined directly because of the cam screw up. All this because of a manufacturer’s engineering mistake that they themselves recognized! And also remember: This repair involved new technology and wasn’t something that should be attempted without proper know-how. In other words, you should have a dealer or at least a professional bike shop do it because it wasn’t yer average everyday wrenchin’ kiddies. ALSO, if I wouldn’t have caught it as soon as it happened, my whole engine would have been trashed from all the itty bitty metal particles being spread throughout the whole damned motor!! (At least I lucked out on that.)

    Don’t get me wrong…This is the finest bike I’ve ever ridden (I bet a lot of you say the same thing about YOURS). She’s always gotten me home when other bikes wouldn’t have (even the day of this incident) and has never even ridden in a truck or on a trailer except for the day I bought her and had to have her delivered because like an asshole I HAD NO DAMNED LICENSE. And of course on the day I had to have my favorite shop pick her up due to all this happening.

    Now that she’s back to running the way she should she’ll probably last me for the rest of my life. BUT, if you or anyone you know has an early 1999 Twin-Cam 88 (which includes all the FL “Dresser” models), tell them to watch out for this expensive and conceivably dangerous problem. If it hasn’t happened by now, it probably soon will. Nobody needs this crap in heavy traffic, let alone to end up sitting on the side of the road waiting for someone to haul you and yer scoot home.

    Now, enough with all that stuff. Here’s something else completely distasteful for February…..
    Two bikers are sitting at a red light waiting for the light to change. One looks over to a house where a dog is sitting on the front porch licking himself.
    He turns to his buddy and yells, “Boy! I wish I could do THAT!”
    His buddy calls back, “Ya better make sure you pet him first!”

    Talk to ya next month when I hope to have something to say about the Seminar.

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