A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

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A Lesson From The Frozen North

Chill Date 23 Jan 2019

Eeeeee by 'eck it's cowd aaat theer!

And it's the bad kind of cold. Wet cold. After some quite serious snow flurries yesterday I was thankful to find as I left work last night that the snow had not remained on the roads. The temperature had dropped, indicated by the frozen snow and ice on the bike seat. I made sure to follow a busy route home as any lightly used roads could be icy.

Frosy ice and snow atop of the branches in this winter scene
Frosty trees on a frosty morning.

This morning everything is frozen. The lock on the shed, the lock on the gate and the hinges on the doors. The 125 seems happy though as I pull it from the shed and lube the chain. I think I'll stick to the busy main roads once again this morning as my back street has a veneer of thin crispy snow. 

Once off the side street and into the thick traffic the tyres and the surface seem to be in reasonable contact yet I can sense the cold surface against the cold rubber is not offering the level of grip I'd like. Slow and steady Ren, smooth and gentle, we should be fine. Doh! I've stalled it. A 125 does need at least SOME revs to get it going, fool.

That VW has a noisy alternator I think. It sounds like the bearings are really dry. 

I crawl with the traffic then we're released onto a flowing section. Good, the battery will need some charge in this weather. At the next lights the VW with the noisy alternator is gone. But... not the sound of it's noisy alternator. Am I hearing things?

No. No there's definitely a "dry bearing" noise coming from my engine. I rev the engine but the tone does not change. I'm stopped at the lights. OK. Erm. If I'm not moving it's not the wheels or the chain, or the gearbox. If it doesn't change with engine revs it's not the motor. Fuel pump? The bike is running just fine, if the fuel pump sounded that bad surely the bike would be rough too?

I'm in the middle of a busy junction, this is certainly not the place to stop and investigate. I have a long stretch of dual carriageway next and that is not an ideal place to stop either. The bike feels just fine, I figure it's best I ride it to the next safe place and have a look there.

As I approach the next set of lights on the dual carriageway the bike stalls then tries to restart itself. WHAT?!?! CBF125s are digitial but they are definitely not self starting or fitted with anti stall. Aaaaahh, I know what the problem is.

Remember I'd stalled earlier? It seems upon pressing the starter button the starter button has remained frozen in the "start" position. That explains the self-restarting and it also explains the peculiar dry bearing noise. That'll be the starter motor continuously running won't it. Fool.

The starter button on the motorcycle is frozen into a pushed in position leaving the starter motor running
Gosh darn it! Frozen in the "start" position.

I'm forced to pull onto the footpath. It takes a few minutes to defrost the starter button by wrapping my hands around the switch cluster. In this time the key has now frozen in the off position so I have to blow on that for another minute too. I get the bike started and ensure the starter button returns to the normal "off" position. 

Having the starter motor running for 10 minutes won't have done it any good at all. However what is done is done and the starter is still working. Motorcycling is not always easy, but it is at least challenging.

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Reader's Comments

Ian Soady said :-
On the positive side the stater motor probably doubled the available horsepower.

A squirt of ACF50 inside the switches should help (not WD40 unless you have no alternative) and why not wrap a plastic bad round the switches when you leave it overnight?
23/1/2019 11:59:56 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Ooooooh get him!! Cheeky.

I suspect you are suggesting wrapping a plastic bag around the switchgear? The idea is to keep the switchgear dry overnight? The bike lives in a shed and as such it's as dry in there as it can be. I suspect the water got in whilst being ridden the evening before. Within the shed and out of the frost the water remained water. The bike started fine. When I stalled it I presume the water had time to start freezing hence the button being stuck in.
23/1/2019 1:59:07 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Shed? What luxury!

The ACF50 advice would still be valid however.
23/1/2019 4:07:03 PM UTC
pocketpete said :-
Shed Hmmmm. Sort of a shed. Ren was jealous of my garage. I'm even heating it for The royal visit on friday. I don't want my chief Mechanic suffering cold hands.

I've got the Bacon and eggs Sausages ready.

The oil filter and bits are on my kitchen table ready for action and Ren's new torque wrench is waiting its unveiling.

See that's exactly what a royal visit does. The queen arrives unveils a plaque or something then goes off for dinner or breakfast. Now wheres that red carpet for rens boots..

I really cant see Ren using ACF50 its far to posh and expensive. Surely he would make something much better from old kitchen fat and some obscure chemicals from aldi.
23/1/2019 10:23:07 PM UTC
NigelS said :-
Reference The Ed.'s previous rude comment about my being in my 'dotage' ('decrepitude' is a far nicer word for old people, doesn't one think?) I choose NOT to ride in the wet/cold/any other form of inclemency. I either go by car or stay at home and drink whisky.
24/1/2019 10:24:56 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Quite right too. One of the few advantages of advancing age (although I generally prefer a nice bottle of Bordeaux unless the whisky is Laphroaig, or even better Lagavulin).
24/1/2019 4:53:50 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
So basically what you're both saying is that my senior readership is essentially pedantic alcoholic.
24/1/2019 7:22:57 PM UTC
Borsuk said :-
Ren - The Ed said :-
So basically what you're both saying is that my senior readership is essentially pedantic alcoholic.

Is there a problem with that? Personally I prefer a nice real ale or Spanish red to that cough mixture they make in my homeland.

24/1/2019 7:50:40 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I think that answers my question then.
24/1/2019 8:12:38 PM UTC
Upt'North said :-
Spooky, I'm sitting here reading this with a glass of Jameson's in my hand. Not sure I'm Pedantic though, no point sweating the small stuff, all you have to realise is everything's small stuff unless it'll kill you or yours, that obviously includes all Batties out there.
24/1/2019 11:45:36 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
"So basically what you're both saying is that my senior readership is essentially pedantic alcoholic. "

I think you mean pedantic *and* alcoholic......

However there is a significant distinction between those of us who enjoy a glass or two and people who are dependent or who use alcohol to escape their dreary lives.
25/1/2019 10:00:30 AM UTC
Borsuk said :-
Well said Mr Soady.
25/1/2019 10:16:16 AM UTC
NigelS said :-
Laphroaig Ian? You must enjoy syphoning petrol then . . . .

25/1/2019 12:55:56 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
If there's nothing better.....
25/1/2019 3:18:56 PM UTC
NigelS said :-
This one . . .

25/1/2019 4:44:20 PM UTC
CrazyFrog said :-
Well I like both, but only for medicinal purposes obviously ;)
25/1/2019 6:45:55 PM UTC
Rod said :-
Welcome To Bikes And Travels...
...It's about bikes...and travels...mostly about pedantic alcoholics!

25/1/2019 7:12:17 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
No, that's for lightweights. If it doesn't have that peaty iodine reek it's not worth the effort.

Mind you, chacun à son goût as they say in some places. I have heard (though find it difficult to comprehend) that some people actually like the industrial sludge that Macdonalds sells under the guise of food.......
26/1/2019 10:50:29 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
McDonalds is hardly the residence of fine food. But. If you're road weary, soaking wet, lost and tired then them Golden Arches mean a cup of tea for one pound, internet access so you can find your destination and contact those who are waiting for you. There'll be a toilet too. McDonalds is not classy, suave or clever but it is entirely predictable. As a student of Pirsig you'll understand that in a situation of too many dynamic values sometimes static value can be most welcome.
26/1/2019 4:59:53 PM UTC
Borsuk said :-
I hope their tea is better than their coffee. One good thing about MacDonalds is they are consistent, and their coffee is consistently disgusting no matter which country or continent I have tried it.

Unfortunately this is also proof of my own insanity, I keep trying the same thing and expect a different result.
26/1/2019 6:11:49 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
The tea at Maccy-D's is acceptable.
26/1/2019 8:46:53 PM UTC

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