MBSR Blog #6 - Musing on mechanical failure

So the other day, the Burgman rig decided that it really didn't need all the welds in the muffler, and that it would be a super fun thing if the baffles were in smaller pieces and rattling around like crazy.

Yeah, fun.

At any rate - while on my way to the annual Barrie-Huronia CVMG swapmeet things got rather loud. After investigating, I found the end pipe was loose in the muffler can - and that things had somewhat disintegrated inside. Since I was almost at the CVMG event, I continued on - muttering to myself about how many lives my loud pipes were saving - and then nursed it afterwards back home.
(With an attempted JB weld patch job on the end pipe, but it didn't hold - too hot)

Fortunately, I was able to get some weld put on thanks to a friend at work and this at least solved part of the issue. (The centre pipe rattling around in the muffler can) It's still louder than normal, but should hold together at least for the short term.

Which is a good thing, as the OEM muffler turns out to be crazy expensive (600 bucks) and while after market ones are available for closer to $300, I've had to order from overseas (so it'll take 4 weeks to get here... meaning it will likely be after the MBSR rally.)

So all this gets me to thinking... about some of the mechanical issues I've dealt with over the years of doing the Mad Bastard rally.

The first rally was on a stock Kymco Bet and Win 150 - and not surprisingly, I didn't have any issues at all. (Kymco generally makes a rock solid machine.)

The Tomos Moped did get bad gas which caused some issues - and I didn't have any tools with me to try and clean the carb at all.
Fortunately it managed to clear itself out (I did buy some carb cleaner stuff at a gas station and put it in the tank.)

The Sachs Madass 125 ran just fine on the rally (despite torrential rain, and a few issues due to a missed PDI - we ended up with a machine right out a crate and it needed a replacement stator as I recall.... but once setup, it was pretty solid.)

The Sym Symba 125 ran beautifully.... up to the point where a loose nut caused the rear swingarm bolt to come loose. (Which made riding interesting.) Not the machines fault really, as I suspect someone had messed up torquing it down... but does show the importance of checking bolt tightness periodically.

My wife rode a Vespa P125 in two rallies... in the first, it died on the starting line. (Turned out the previous owner had kindly spraypainted the motor a nice metallic flake silver/grey... without removing the stator first. Which was full of conductive paint.)

The next rally she rode it in there wasn't a single electrical issue.... though of course the throttle cable started sticking, so we had to disassemble it mid rally and lube things up... which still didn't totally solve things, but turned it from a guaranteed deathtrap into only a possible deathtrap. Plus she did some sick wheelies so I don't know what she was complaining about.

Then we had the Vespa P200 I called the lucky thirteen... which had... well everything on it fail. Over the time I had it it had broken exhaust, wiring, headlight, cables, frame, engine, etc etc etc. Though it did the rally surprisingly well before perishing the next year.

There's probably some other faults in there somewhere I am forgetting, but nothing that was a real show stopper.... but this brings us to the next musing on this topic: Mechanical preparation

What to do to your Bike before the MBSR:

Check the fluids. Do you have enough oil? Has it been changed recently? Coolant (if applicable)? Gear oil?

Check the tires. Make sure you have proper pressures, and that the rubber is in good shape with plenty of tread. Check them for damage as well.

Are your nuts tight? Well then get to the doctor. (Sorry, I had to include that joke somewhere.) Makes sure your bolts, screws, nuts and other fasteners are right, tight, and on the bike. A missing swingarm bolt makes riding very interesting in a not so good kinda way. Trust me, I know.

Are your electicals electricking? Headlight works? Taillight? Brakelight? Turn signals? Does the battery charge? (This can be quickly checked with a multi-meter placed upon the battery)

Bring some basic tools - some allen keys, screwdriver, maybe a wrench or two. What you might need depends on your bike. Some zipties are very handy for holding on broken bits. Take some thought about what is likely to be used versus how much space it takes up.

Get some practice riding it. This will help let you know if your bike is running right, especially if you take it for a longer ride. It can also let you know about comfort issues.... maybe your rear end needs some more cushioning due to primitive scooter suspension and potentially rough roads somewhere in the middle of Nowhere, Ontario.

Most modern scooters should be pretty reliable, and be able to handle even the endurance run that is the MBSR rally just fine - but you don't want to be stuck somewhere with the vultures feasting on your still-warm corpse and fellow MBSR riders stealing parts from your scooter.

Unless they'll work on my Burgman that is, then go for it. I especially need a new seat cover, so if you could perish in such a manner as to spare the seat I would appreciate it.

I'd also recommend a CAA+ plus type roadside assistance membership... while there usually is a sweep truck, it might be a quite lengthy process to get it to you. Which means you might be out there a while if you have to wait for them.

Which means the mosquitoes feast upon you, you perish, and I take the seat from your bike. Err... or someone does anyways. Definitely not me.

We only have a few weeks to go now.... if you are reading this and you're a new signup to the MBSR rally, congrats! You are about to have a truly unique and memorable experience which in no way is likely to lead to your death and the enrichment of my parts stock. Instead, you will be laughing, tired, excited, bored, sunburned and chilled... all in a single day's riding!

Where else can you possibly get that?


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