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Spring! - column

ER Classics Desktop 2022

Motorcycles today are better and more reliable than ever. But what is more than a bit of an issue is that the rejuvenation in the motorcycle world mainly lies in the engineers and the marketers. Engineers prefer to make everything that is near the limit. Marketers whisper to us that that is exactly what we have always been waiting for.

But every spring I have to get used to the new abbreviations for the even more intelligent electronic helpers. And somewhere in me a thin voice beeps: "Soon you will have to beg to be able to start because your motorcycle says it is not good weather to start driving."


But now it is spring. And spring is always a journey for me into the past. Because they drive all winter. And because that can be done with a doubly funded topper? Well no! So winter is there for the sidecar. In the spring, it begs - and receives - his hard-won attention. To then do his job locally again all summer, plus drive his Annual Long Ride. And then we come to the conclusion that not everything used to be better, but it certainly was much simpler.

Of course, it helps more than a little that this combination was born in the now so tumultuous Ukraine in the proud IMZ - that of course stands for 'Irbitski Mototsikletnyi Zavod' factory. My sidecar came here well before the riots because the then buyer thought he had bought a pre-war BMW. Pre-war BMWs are of considerable value. The value of old Russian motorcycles, on the other hand, was linked to scrap iron prices at the time. In the meantime, the offer to Old Russians has become much better. It is right that prices have also risen above zero. Those prices are also on the rise. But driving a classic Russian remains the pinnacle of slowing down and in comparison with the current price union in the classic country is still very affordable.

So maintenance and TLC: A modern motorcycle workshop looks like the operating room that every African surgeon dreams of. The most important items are the vehicle lift, the diagnostic monitor and the warning notice with the hourly rate on it. And a PIN device. My workshop usually looks like it has just been the direct object of medium artillery bombardment, but I find my way around it. Usually ... The Boxer was stripped of its third wheel and the lift - an indispensable part for those who used to think their backs were invulnerable - went up. The oil was drained and mayonnaise came from the gearbox as usual. Russian gearboxes tend to get water.

Superficial inspection also revealed that a handful of spokes in the rear wheel had decided to start for themselves, the lock clearance of the piston rings provided the same amount of compression under and above the piston. And there is not much margin with a compression of 1: 5,5. The block was lifted out with comrade Ernie. It's even easier on the workbench. And that new coupling had also been waiting for a while. The contact points had to be replaced, the alternator begged for new bearings and carbon brushes. A new 'Made in China' rear tire, including inner tube, cost the full 40 euros.

If the case is stripped down, it is nice to even imagine a new wiring harness on it. After all, it is not a CAN bus system on the KMZ and what can go wrong with only 6 volts? In the meantime, the case is back in the construction phase. This weekend the tricycle must be in top shape again. Then he can take it again until the next turn. The workshop manual states that the maintenance should be done every 1500 km. I look out of the corner of my eye at my old Guzzi waiting outside in disgust. It has to work much more and requires much less attention. Because not everything used to be better. But motorcycling was then, and is just as much fun now!

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6 Comments

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  1. My Russian got rainwater into the gearbox via the speedometer cable connection.
    Easy to fix with a rubber cap or the like
    I have had my MW750 for 18 years now and I have a lot of satisfaction from it. Delicious
    craft motor.

  2. "Motorcycles today are better and more reliable than ever."

    That is quite a statement Dolf ..
    I hope to see the first Fireblade in 50 years, when they are the same age as my old side valve ...
    Of course; maintenance intervals have been reduced, grease nipples have disappeared and you don't see oil filter-free engines anymore….
    Time will tell..

    • 'More reliable' and 'better' in the sense that everything functions well and will continue to do so for a plausible (long) time.
      An average of 20.000 km between full engine overhaul of a classic British parallel twin, a distance often marked with varied intermediate repairs, gives the impression of an unreliable motorcycle, which was also short-lived without major repairs. Friend and foe will agree that the Japanese motorcycle brands have lifted reliability and durability to a very high level, with the rest of the world a trend follower.
      If in a bet on reliability, I would put my money on a Fireblade (not my 'bike at all, by the way), and certainly not on a 60s Triumph (I really like it though).
      But also about 'sustainability', which you seem to be referring to, I will use the piggy bank on a more modern engine, simply because of the (much longer) absence of repairs.

      • Motorcycling is the most important thing in my life and you are right. Certainly not everything was better in the past. At the most a bit more organized. It's just that I have a soft spot for old things that just about keep doing.

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