Sunday, October 18, 2009

It's Tough Getting Old

I've noticed that when I'm experiencing a problem with the Ninja, I neglect my blog. Seems like this year, my machine developed a few more quirks and not those of character building variety. For instance, the computer that controls the fuel injection system will not always initialize the system on the first turn of the key. On occasion, I must turn the key to the off position, wait a few seconds, and then turn the power back on. This usually works and I can start the bike and ride with no interruption in fuel delivery. I enlisted the help of everyone from the dealer to my favorite local bike shop to examine the problem and they just shrug and tell me that the computer does not register any problems. I think maybe I'll try a fortune teller next. Couldn't hurt, right?

Several online 650R forums list fuel pump failure as a "rare but expensive" problem. They weren't kidding. Mine crapped out about a month ago. I figured this to the source of the erratic start up behavior, but I replaced the pump and nothing has changed. I worried that the inconsistent initialization of the fuel system damaged the first pump and now the replacement pump may be at risk. A new fuel pump costs around $250. A new computer sings to the tune of about $500. Here's the dilemma. With 53K miles on the clock of a $6500 bike, do replace these faulty components, or do I cobble the bike together until the engine cannibalizes itself or until I can afford a new motorcycle, whichever comes first. For the uninitiated, the first of the above choices occurs most frequently.

Until the inevitable, I comb the electrical system for shorts in between rides. I hate when a bike's age compromises it's long distance capability. Options at this point include owning a pickup truck, which I do, and purchasing a good roadside assistance service, which I have. However, my pickup is a Chevy, which means it works well about half the time. Fans of the all American automobile won't receive an apology from me. My next truck will be a Toyota. Not all roadside assistance programs are the same. I've learned to be careful and ask questions before buying. For example, AAA's basic programs don't cover motorcycles, not even so much as a tank of petrol should you run your horse dry. Coverage requires the additional purchase of the recreational vehicle subset. I simply tacked roadside assistance coverage to my insurance policy for a small fee.

Perhaps I'm being too much of a negative Nancy. Some postives arise from this point in a bike's aging process. The more riding I do, the more riding I want to do. I closely examine the machine I currently have, not physically necessarily, but with the eye of the mind. What does it have that I appreciate, power, speed, torque, flickability? As my mind wanders over the shaded lanes I imagine riding in the future, I ask myself what do I wish my current cycle had that it lacks? And I begin the long process of sifting through motorcycle propoganda searching for the "next bike", the machine with which I can turn those imagined lanes into twisting highways of reality. Even at this early stage, I can envision myself on something German or Italian, something sensuous that speaks not just to logic and need, but to that passion which ignites the spirit and new possibility.