I always knew buying my own motorcycle would be an interesting experiment for me. When I initially handed over the cash I was certain there would be times when it seemed like a good idea and others when I might regret it completely.
The latter was more the case recently when I unhappily needed to shell out more money, and then get personally involved with some quite serious maintenance to keep my Honda VFR800 in good trim. Philosophical reflection was my mindset when I began the work. I'd accepted jobs like replacing the Honda's rotten header pipes would be a natural consequence of buying a ten-year-old motorcycle. After all, only brand new motorcycles are likely to need nothing more than consumables.
As the matter progressed through, my optimism began to wane more and more. Handing over the money to pay for the stainless steel downpipes seemed fair enough. The exhaust system looked very sturdy and well made, and though it was not cheap, especially by the cost for all the necessary gaskets and clamps, it was significantly cheaper than the official Honda option. My issue started when I wanted to fit it.
I knew all along that getting my hands dirty was going to be all part of the 'fun' of motorcycle ownership in Thailand. And I was also well aware that this particular job might present some extra challenges. But with a cool head, the right tools and enough time to get it done, I started the ball rolling. I soon realized that working on motorcycles needs plenty of patience though, and what seems like a straightforward task in theory can often be far more taxing in reality. One seized bolt initially slowed things down, and though finding a way of postponing the need to remove it until later allowed me to keep going, it quickly became clear that I might not be man enough for the job. Access to the V4's header pope fixing bolts and clamps isn't easy at all, and soon raised my tmper and temperature levels. I have to admit it was good to 'get in there' and have a go mind you. There's plenty of reward in getting under the skin of the motorcycle and seeing what lies beneath. However, there's also lots of frustration and anger if, as was the case in this instance, things start to become a bit too tricky to sort.
So with knuckles bleeding and my language becoming all the more colorful, I bailed out and took the Honda to the local big bike shop to complete the task. There, armed with lots more tools, not to mention a damned sight more skill and experience in such matters the mechanic soon fired up the Honda VFR800 to run much more quietly than the heavily corroded originals had allowed it to.
I had no problem at all handing over the 500 bht it cost in labor, matter of fact I had more something like why I even try it myself.
The whole experience has served as a perfect reminder of the highs and lows of motorcycle ownership in Thailand, and just where my maintenance abilities start and end.