If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Monday 23 January 2012

Sprint Down!

It's OK, I'm still here ...

Last night I decided to take the Sprint to work instead of the XT. The Sprint has a slight problem with a sticky head bearing, meaning that steering is not as smooth as it might be. Main roads are fine, but roundabouts become threepenny bits (or should I say 50p pieces?) and slow-speed manoeuvring is a bit of a jerky and imprecise affair. No matter: the night was dry and I felt like giving the old girl a run out. Mistake 1: I should have fixed the steering first.

I got to work and, as it was dark, took a naughty short-cut which ended with having to get the bike through a pedestrian gate. It's quite passable on a bike, provided you meet it at 90° - narrower angles don't work. And the surface there is loose earth and gravel. Mistake 2: I should have gone the long way round, on tarmac.

As I approached the gate, I realised that I was at the wrong angle for it and needed to straighten the bike up a bit to get through. Easy-peasy, but the steering decided at that moment to become reluctant to turn and I found I was heading for the gatepost. No problem - stop and realign. But my feet were already down on the floor (I was doing about 3 mph at this point) and nowhere near the rear brake, so I reached for the front one. Mistake 3: never touch the front brake on a loose surface.

The front wheel shot from under me (amazing how quickly it happens) and, when the bike got to 45° from the vertical, I realised that I was not going to be able to hold it, so I stepped off. Sound of scraping paintwork on gravel and cracking plastics as the not inconsiderable weight of the Sprint came to rest on a few square centimetres of flimsy bodywork. I killed the engine and then stood for a while watching petrol slowly dripping onto the ground and listening to the engine ticking in remonstration.

I was totally unable to pick it up. Every time I took the weight and tried to roll it onto its wheels, the wheels slid in the soft surface and the bike just scraped another few inches sideways, causing even more damage. Even the time-honoured method of putting your back to the bike and using your legs (by which an 8-st female can lift a Harley, seen it on Youtube) did no more than displace the bike sideways. In the end, a mate was clocking off the day shift, and with his help we got it back upright. The one bright candle in the surrounding darkness was that I remembered to put the side-stand out before we lifted it. Nothing worse than getting it upright and then doing the damn same thing on the other side!

Looking at it in daylight, it's not so bad. A lot of scratches in the paint like a rash (red over white primer, so it shows), a crack in the side panel which can probably be ignored, and minor scuffs to the mirror and exhaust can.

Looks better here than in the flesh/plastic/metal

Crack and scrapes

That was a lovely curve, once

Decals always take a hit

That bike is going back in the garage until the steering is fixed.

Moral 1: never put off essential maintenance. Moral 2: if in doubt, take the XT.

I am unharmed except for a few aching muscles from my dead-lift exertions. The bike is hardly a wreck, but it has gone from 'ten-year-old bike in remarkably good condition for its age' to 'ten-year-old bike in rather average condition for its age', and that's a big disappointment. It would cost a lot to have it professionally repaired, so I will probably live with it. Sick Transits, and all that.



  1. You're ok. That's what matters.

    It hurts when you have to repair or replace metal and plastic, but at least it's possible.

  2. Aye, you have to be philosophical. It's not as if I have escaped a horrible fate after a three-figure get-off. We're in muppet territory, really. Slow speed, skoolboy error, stepped off, didn't even fall over.

    I used to have a friend who had the opposite view: "bones and skin will heal; repairing a bike costs money!"

  3. "I am unharmed except for a few aching muscles from my dead-lift exertions. "

    And a badly bruised ego.

    All credit though Richard, for sharing the embarrassment with your readership.

    Presumably, a couple of those 'cotton reel' thingies will be on your shopping list.

  4. Crash bobbins? I'm not sure they would have helped here, with the softish ground. But, yes, I am considering :)

  5. Feel for you there: there's nothing more aggravating than an easily-avoided (especially in hindsight) low-speed incident, usually both annoying and expensive out of all proportion to the drop. Classic case of the punishment not fitting the crime. In a weird sort of way, it's less irritating (but significantly more painful and risky) to chuck it at some speed.

    Glad to hear you're largely undamaged, though. And at least the damage doesn't look too dreadful - the one "benefit" of landing on a somewhat yielding surface - but I suspect you're right that it won't make it any cheaper to fix. Proper respray, as opposed to a dab of touch-up, by the looks of it - or keeping an eye out on eBay for some replacement panels. (I'd slap some stickers over the worst of it, meself, but that only works if one starts off with slightly suspect taste and a cavalier disregard for the manufacturer's aesthetic intentions).

    PS: 'I used to have a friend who had the opposite view: "bones and skin will heal; repairing a bike costs money!"'
    ...erm, you still do!

  6. Hmmm. Having had a better look, I think that the fairing panel may have shifted a little. It's touching the engine cover and I don't think it did that before. The plastics all have to come off for the 12k service (including lubing the headstock!) so I will have a rummage around for bent brackets then. You've hit the spot, about the punishment not fitting the 'crime', although I will continue to try to avoid binning it at high speed :) Dropping it on loose earth/gravel has done more damage, I think, than if I had dropped it on a hard surface. At least on tarmac I could have got it upright in one go, instead of pushing it around hearing it get worse and worse.

    I could streetfighter it ...

  7. Very pleased to read that you're okay Richard. Low speed bashes and drops are always doubly bad when you see the scale of the damage compared to the measly velocity of the accident. Still unpleasant though - glad you're in one piece.

  8. Thanks, OI. It's in the garage now, and damn well staying there!

  9. oops.

    Have you considered fitting stabilisers?

    My last off was equally embarassing involving a 270 degree turn up a steep drive with Mrs N on the back. I discovered that at at a certain point my left leg would have needed to be 6ft long to steady the GS.

    1. Stabilisers, crash bungs, an air bag, whatever. Or stick with the XT on shit surfaces. I whizz through that gate every time on the Yam - one wheel, waving at the crowds, smoking a cigar. Horses for courses.

      I had a less-than-6ft-leg moment on the Pan, with an equally embarrassing result, but the Pan was unscathed. And I managed to pull that mother upright, all 300kg of it. I think the Sprint just wanted a lie-down.

  10. Heeeey good going Richard. You drive like a Dane. ;-)


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