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Temperamental Beast!

January 6, 2011

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned,
Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”

—Will Shakespeare

If my motorcycle had feelings, she would be the woman scorned, having been ignored by me for the past few weeks. (Rain? Holidays? What else can interfere with the pleasures of riding?) She is certainly behaving as if she was spurned!

She runs smooth and strong when she’s getting ridden daily and weekly, but when left to sit for a few weeks, despite that she is well-loved* and garaged (no less), she simply does not live up to her usual standard of excellence!

As I attempted to ride into town today, the beast was shuddering and spluttering in the lower rpms, threatening to die at every stoplight and forcing me to keep up the revs in a range that I don’t usually even ride in. Upon filling up her tank with fresh fuel, my green beast refused to start again. (This is not uncommon; I’ve been stranded at this particular gas station more times than I care to recount!)

Finally… FINALLY… I got her going, and… nice weather be damned, I took her home because I lost faith in her reliability. I intensely dislike getting stuck and having to call for a tow or help, whether from Tony or AAA, and I just did not trust that big green was going to take me where I needed to go today. Hence, I became the woman scorned.

This sort of behavior has been common for my bike, and I wonder if the carbs of all ZX6e’s are particularly sensitive to lack of use.

I guess next winter, my choice will be to keep the beast drained of fluids and on the center stand, like many of my northern compatriots—paired with subduing all desire to ride until the bike is “unpacked” again at the beginning of spring—or to make sure I turn the bike on daily running through tanks full of fuel keeping her warmed up and operating smoothly.

I’m weighing my options. What would you choose?

*Eek! She didn’t hear me talk about selling her so I could by a sport-touring model, did she?
17 Comments leave one →
  1. Jack Riepe permalink
    January 7, 2011 1:19 am

    Dear Liz Petersen:

    Owning a BMW, I have no idea what it is like to have a bike that is reluctant to start. But my friend Chris Wolfe has an old Triumph, which he calls his “Strumpet,” as it screws him left and right. Following each breakdown, he tows this rig past a junk yard — just to show it what happens to motorcycles that fail to cooperate. Of course, this means attributing human characteristics to a motorcycle. I like to think my machine — Fireballs — is the way it is because I set such a stirling example.

    Would you be offended if I added your blog to the “Destinations” list on Twisted Roads? It means you’re likely to get tarred with the same brush frequently waved at me… But is life without risks?

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads
    (The blog for raw biker adventure and romance like broken glass.)

    Fondest regards,

    • January 11, 2011 8:31 pm

      Jack, this still has me rolling, several days later. I keep thinking: Fireballs and Strumpet? And then I giggle…

      We’re still researching the problem… but more on that in another post.

      And, yes, I would love to be part of your “Destinations” list; I’m honored that you asked. You’re right, that being “out there” both in the broader motorcycle community and the motorcycle blogging community will lead to all manner of verbal flailing from new readers, but I’m strong; I can take it… maybe… 😉


  2. January 7, 2011 4:53 am

    Everytime I “winterize” my bikes and put them on their stands… the weather gets way too good to leave the bike in the garage. I just cant win either!!
    Poor Liz and the beast. Winter will be over soon……

    • January 11, 2011 8:32 pm

      Judy, this is understandable up in Portland, but here, we often have weeks at a time when the weather smiles. Now if only I can figure out how to keep my bike smiling too, and ready for those glorious mid-winter sun days! Thanks for your sympathy… I truly appreciate it! 😀

  3. January 7, 2011 5:09 am

    I would put on some warm clothes; maybe even invest in heated gear, and RIDE!

    • January 11, 2011 8:44 pm

      Hi Mary… I do have a very warm jacket and some overpants. I usually wear two pairs of socks. A heated vest would totally make it for me. I’m working on that. First I do have to get the bike running though! Thanks for checking in… Liz

  4. January 7, 2011 5:27 am

    I’d obtain a spare bike. Just in case.

  5. January 7, 2011 12:16 pm

    Yikes – Never let her hear you might be trading her in! Just go out to the garage and talk to her regularly, start her up and let her purr and feel wanted for short bursts now and then. (But between you and me – Yamaha has a very well received new sport/touring bike on the market – just read a stellar review in December’s Motorcycle Mojo. It’s not my ride, too big, but looks NICE!)

    • January 11, 2011 8:48 pm

      Hi Karen: The Super Tenéré is a fantastic bike, but it’s way too big for me, also. I “test-sat” the bike at the IMS show last November. Granted, it was on the center stand, but still too much bike. I think your suggestion about regular start ups is the way to go, although we still have to solve the current issue first.

  6. January 7, 2011 8:03 pm

    Liz, I keep my bikes on a battery tender when not in use. It keeps the battery fresh and alerts me to charging systems issues early. I also like to run some seafoam through the bike (especially on carburetor bikes) once a month. It helps keep the gunk from the ethanol from building up and causing trouble. It also helps stabilize the gas if the bike sits.

    Having more than one bike is also a great idea 😉

    • January 11, 2011 8:50 pm

      Oh, Chris, you have that same great mind as Stacy. Yes, I’d love to have more bikes in the stable. There are a couple of projects in the garage right now that have to go away, and a few pennies to save up, too. I appreciate your feedback, but battery is definitely not my bike’s issue right now. I’ll keep you all informed as we dig deeper into the bowels of my ride… Stay warm on that Ural!

  7. Santiago y Elena permalink
    January 8, 2011 11:00 pm

    Maybe I’ll send you my red Kawasaki long johns. That way, if you sleep in the garage next to your bike it will understand its wayward ways and shape the hell up!

    • January 11, 2011 8:55 pm

      Brrr… even with long-johns it’s much too chilly in our un-insulated garage to sleep with my bike. (There’s not much room in there now, either, although I suppose I could test-sleep the teardrop trailer that my partner is building.)

  8. January 19, 2011 5:53 am

    Looks like we’re two peas in a pod lately 😉 I just blogged about mine! She went on strike…literally! Her carbs were completely clogged and battery died after sitting for months because I had been too busy to ride this year.
    For me, we don’t have a long enough winter to really winterize a bike. What I need to do is commit to take her for a spin at least once a month when she’s sitting. I’ve just started hooking her up to a battery tender too.


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