Regular Riding

A bit of paint and I can now tell the
ignition key from the nearly
identical pannier key.

Regularly riding is a nice thing in mid-April up here.  It rained yesterday, so I commuted in the box, but today has dawned foggy and damp but with no rain in the forecast, so it’s off I go again on two wheels, hopefully with the actioncam on video this time.

Getting to work after a ride in is invigorating.  Instead of a tedious trundle in a car you’re full of oxygen.  You’ve smelled everything on the way in and you’re switched on because you never ride a bike half aware.


The other morning I was at an all day meeting only five minutes from home, so rather than go straight there I shot past it and went for a ride along the river.  I still ended up being one of the first to arrive, and I was cold but lit up in the way that only a bike ride can do.

At the end of a day of meeting about something I get the sense has already been decided (but we had to talk about it all day anyway – yes, it was tedious), instead of going home I took the bike down the Grand River to the covered bridge and then came back on the north shore.  Even a short, twenty minute ride like that put the spring back in my step and cleared away the Kafkaesque cobwebs in my head from that day of soul sucking, meaningless blah blah.






The foggy and damp ride in this morning.  The smell of earth and new shoots filled the heavy air as the Tiger purred to work…

Riding The Tiger

When you want to start riding in April in Canada
you need to take precautions!

Today saw a 150km round trip down to Ancaster and back; the first ride of the season.  It was 2°C when I left at 7:15am this morning.  No frost, but a cold ride to start.

I stopped in Kirkwall, by the kirk, for a stretch and to remove the balaclava.  By the time I got down to Ancaster for an educational conference it was warming up nicely.

I was out of the conference about 2pm.  By that time the temperature was pretty much perfect for a ride.  I took the main road into Ancaster and then up Sulfur Springs and Mineral Springs Roads, doing a loop before heading back north.

A cold start.

The Tiger was fantastic, feeling more powerful than the Concours with a much more relaxed riding position.  At first the higher riding position felt a bit awkward, but I quickly discovered that the Metzeler tires and taut suspension, even though it’s long, could handle any corners I threw at them.  Any cornering awkwardness had at least as much to do with me being rusty from a winter in boxes as it did with the bike’s geometry.

There were dozens of other bikes out and about in the warm weather.  The Tiger got a lot of double takes.  I know it shouldn’t matter but in a couple of days of riding I’ve already had more compliments than I did in a year of riding on the Concours.  Halfway home I was thinking I could leave for Ushuaia immediately on this fine machine.

Once home I checked over the fluids.  The Tiger barely used any gas, and the oil and coolant was right where I’d left them.  I’ve got an air filter on hand (the previous owner said, “air filter?” when I asked if it had been done recently), but I don’t want to miss a ride while I’m doing it now that the weather’s good.  I’m hoping a mid-week after work change will give me the time to get it done.  To do the air filter means pulling the gas tank – it’s not as easy as it’s been on previous bikes.

A short stop in Kirkwall got the balaclava off (t made the helmet uncomfortably tight)

The twisty road sign is in short supply in Southwestern Ontario –
Sulphur Springs Road & Mineral Springs Road are exceptions.

Riding a Tiger really is a magical experience!

We’ve already got a route planned out for a sunny, warm Sunday  in April:


Motorcycle Carburetor Rebuild Part Eleventy-Seven (airbox boots)

The carburetor rebuild grinds on.  It took the better part of a week to get the airbox boots in, and when I opened the bag they came in I’d been charged for four but only got three.  I tried contacting Two Wheel Motorsports to ask if the fourth boot was sitting around there, but they didn’t get back to me.  

The Concours uses two types of boots to connect the carbs to the airbox and one of the old ones still had pretty good flexibility in it, so I used the three new ones and the best of the old ones.

I tried for the better part of two hours to get the carbs mated to the airbox properly with the stiff, old airbox boots without success.  With my home-made hooked screwdriver (to slip the boots onto the intakes) it took about ten minutes of adjusting to get a good seal on all four carbs.  If you’re doing an old carb rebuild, buy some new airbox boots, it’ll save you a  lot of frustration and swearing.

The old airbox boots look rough, but the real issue is that the rubber has hardened over time and no amount of heat will soften them up.  The new boots were supple and easily went on the carb air intakes with minimal fuss and bother.
I pay for four and get three.  Fortunately one of the old ones was still pretty supple so I could reuse it.
Ten minutes and the carbs are back in place.  Get new airbox boots if you’re rebuilding an old carb!