Motorcycles and Zen Maintenance

Vroom! Vroom! Sputter. Splhhhht! Dang! Now what? Many, many years ago I read the book titled Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It was supposed to be very meaningful and an important book. Maybe because I was still very young, or didn’t care much about either motorcycles or Zen, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I suspect that it was one of those books that was so weird that everyone thought it had to be great. I don’t know. I’m sure people still read it, but it didn’t do much for me. Then or now.

I hadn’t ridden my scooter in a couple of weeks, unbelievably, so I knew there might be some minor issue in starting it up. I had a nice long ride planned. A long ride. And it was a gorgeous Saturday afternoon. Mid seventies. Sunshine. Perfect. Battery needs a jump. Simple.

Fired right up. Let it sit for a while to charge the battery. Anxious anticipation. When I hopped on, ready to ride, I gave it the gas and splrrrrhhhrt. Dead. And now it won’t start. Not even with a jump. So much for todays ride.

Doing a little research on the web, and asking a few biker friends, I concluded that it could be one of any number of things wrong. Battery. Starter, Fuel. Fuel lines. Spark plug. And so on. I’ll admit right here that my expertise as a mechanic on tins thing is pretty much limited to putting gas in the tank. I had the rear tire changed once and recall that it was quite an ordeal.

I left it at the shop and when it was finished the guy who worked on it wanted to tell me all about how he did it. Turns out its not like a bicycle or even a car where you unbolt the wheel and change the tire. Nope. To get to where you can begin to fool with the tire you first have to take off the cargo box. Then remove the seat. Then the cargo rack. Then the rear fender. And the taillight. Then, I think, you are ready for the tire.

Taking it somewhere to get it fixed was proving to be quite a challenge in itself. The place I had purchased the scooter went out of business years ago. A couple of the guys who had worked there each opened their own shops. And both had also gone out of business. There was the Harley place, but they couldn’t do it because they couldn’t get the parts. Or didn’t want some candy ass scooter showing up in their hog showroom maybe. One other possibility. Wait! I can do this. Of course I can.

The manual that comes with the bike doesn’t say anything about how to do anything. It gives specs, but not much else. So I went on line and found a couple of forums and blogs that talked about doing some simple stuff. Lets see, change the sparkplug. That seemed like the most likely culprit so I’ll try that.

Remove trunk. Simple. Remove seat. Not too bad. Remove luggage rack. Three little screws. Good God! They used an air wrench to put these screws in. I have a handheld Allen wrench. I’m just gonna strip the hole. I am not taking this thing to the mechanic because I can’t get a screw loose!

Try another wrench. Bigger, smaller, longer. Then I figured it out. I needed a little more leverage. A handle. I huffed and I puffed and I tried to blow that piggy’s house down and finally, after nearly passing out, I heard that sound made by a screw coming loose. Holy smokes!

I got two of them loose. The third one is under something else that needs to come off. That has a nut that needs to come off. Getting to it means sliding a wrench up under something and trying to turn. Let me be sure, lefty loosy, righty tighty. Most of the time. That’s the next step. And maybe I’ll get to it today. It’s mid January and not exactly like the day that all of this started. But I’m gonna whoop this thing and fix it myself. That will give me some Zen! That’s part of my story. What’s yours?



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