Toby's Motorcycle Notes
Bike: 1985 Honda VF700F Interceptor, purchased 10/24/97 from Dave Marascio
of Norwood, MA.
Finally got around to having the tail light wiring fixed, it cost around $160 mostly because it took a lot of effort to do. So I got the bike inspected and rode over to Dad's house and it seems to be running fine.
July 21 is Ride to work day
, so I did. Riding on rt128 isn't all that much fun, but rt4 from Burlington to Chelmsford is a pleasant ride.
2003 has been a bad year for the bike. It started up like a champ in April, I didn't even have to get a new battery! Unfortunately I noticed on the shakedown run that the taillight fuse burns out after about 45 minutes. While inspecting the wiring I found that the area under the seat was full of half-chewed acorns, and the wiring had been nibbled as well. Evidently small furry animals were living in the bike (probably when I lived next door and didn't have a garage). It's not going to be a trivial fix so the bike has sat in the garage while I figured out what to do
with the noisy red car.
Another year, another battery. This year the turn signal switch is pretty balky. You've really got to fiddle around with it to make it signal a left turn. Also the left rear turn signal lamp has fallen off and is hanging by the wires. The bike is really starting to look like crap. Unfortunately I'm not drawing a paycheck so I doubt I'll be able to do much about it.
2002-08-07 - rode out to a friend's house is Stow and back. On the way out went rt 128 to rt 2 (boring, boring) then through Stow center, a very pretty town center. One of my friends said "looks like it sat outside for a while" and he's right, it does. Took route 117 on the way back - a very nice ride through Lincoln into Waltham. Mostly two-lane, not too many stop lights.
Bike started up like a champ in mid-April and I rode it into 1030 Mass Ave a few times (I could stash it in the garage!) but riding into Cambridge isn't much fun.
Didn't treat the bike well over the winter. Battery froze so I got a new one at Pep Boys. By that time Milwaukee Iron had run out of inspection stickers. After 6 weeks of waiting for them to get more they failed the bike because it was leaking fork fluid on the front brakes. I had to get the front forks rebuilt and Artie's mechanic quit so I didn't get on the road until July. Did a bunch of commuting to Waltham where I was consulting. The bike does pretty well on 128.
The Halloween ride this year was a lot of fun. It started again at Rt. 128 station but went back through Canton to rt 135 then into Milton, through Readville, Dedham, Needham, and Norwood before ending up in Hyde Park. About 50 miles of riding on a great fall day, but I didn't hang around for the festivities afterward.
lots of commuting to Kendall Square. No problems.
Got a few miles riding under my belt. Weather was clear and not
too cold for February. Ground was very icy but roads weren't. Fired up the
bike, which took a long time to warm up. Then checked oil level (low) and
added some. Added coolant also. Noticed small cooland leak while bike was
warming up. Bought some 80w-140 gear oil and lubricated the chain because
it was making a strange noise.
Rode once around the gay st loop. Caught the orange light on rt 109 and
had to stop pretty short but then got to really punch it when the light
turned green. Missed all three shifts and still took off like a rocket.
Got the bike inspected at Milwaukee Iron on Washington St beyond Forest Hills.
Also bought a pair of riding gloves which had a small cigarette burn on them
so I got a good deal on them ($15 instead of $38).
The ride there and back was a pain in the ass because there was so much traffic
but it was good practice riding in traffic. I almost got run off the road by
an idiot in a Cherokee but got ahead of her. Now I can appreciate why bikers
don't like cars.
The bike seems to run quite hot in traffic, even when it's pretty cold out. It was 3/4 of the way up the indicator when I was stopped for traffic and didn't
get cooler unless I hit a long straightaway. I also heard the cooling fan a
couple of times.
Went for a ride on Sunday morning. The bike warms up a lot quicker when
the temperature's not in the 20's!
Gassed up the bike and then rode out to
Westwood, through the center of town then right, then right again to Dover
center, then up country club road, left on 109. Then went looking for the
Endicott train station (which I didn't find) but I ended up on East street
which runs into Rt 128. Got up to 75 MPH! Very windy.
Beautiful Saturday afternoon, sunny and around 50 degrees. Bike warmed up
quickly and headed out to Dover. Warmed up by heading out 1A to Gay Street to
Fox Hill Rd, then right on 109 back to Dedham. Left on ?? then left on Dedham
St into the center of Dover. Got stuck behind a Ford Explorer for most of the
way, which was actually going below the speed limit. Bummer. Anyway, went
through the center of town and then stright through the lights and out through
horse country into Medfield. Into the center of Medfield, then left on 109
and back home again. Nice ride, about 23 miles in total.
I'm starting to feel less awkward on the bike. I still need to think about
relaxing because I ride pretty tense, but I do feel more in control.
Shit!!! I got on the bike this morning and everything looked good to go but
when I pushed the starter I got a click and everything went dead! All the
lights were black and nothing worked. I'm so bummed! I've been riding the
fucking thing all winter and now that the weather gets nice it's dead as a
I poked around with my new Craftsman multimeter but couldn't figure out what's
wrong so I think I'll have to have it towed to a shop. There's just 12v at
the battery terminals when the bike is off but if you turn it on it goes to
zero. But it doesn't look like a short since there are no blown fuses.
Strange. Called a tow shop (Don and Wally's in Norwood) but the guy who knows
how to tow a bike wasn't there so they said to try on Monday.
It was a great day today - sunny and unseasonably warm so I decided to take
the morning off to get some things done (like getting the bike towed to the
shop). I called Don and Wally's who said they'd send someone out but they
didn't arrive until after 11:00 in the morning. The guy indicated that it
was his first tow of the season and I wasn't surprised then to see the knots
which tied the back wheel to the stinger come undone halfway there and the
bike start swinging around.
At least it got there in one piece. Metropolitan Motors is in Readville: if
you go past the train station and then right over the tracks and then left
onto Hyde Park Ave it's about 100 yards on the left. It's kind of a pit but
they've got all kinds of bikes and seem like real motorheads. They said
they'd get the bike back by the weekend - we'll see!
Picked the bike up at Metropolitan. Those boneheads don't take MC/Visa or
checks so I had to run to an ATM machine to get cash ($241.00) to pay for
the work. 'Artie' wheeled the bike out of the shop and fired it up and then
disappeared back into the bowels of the place before I figured out that the
instrument panel was dead. One of the mechanics came out and changed the fuse
for me; he mentioned that he had noticed it was dead but didn't want to fix it
since I hadn't authorized it. Well, anyway, he was a nice guy and it was just
a blown fuse so I was OK and back on the road.
The tab was $241.00 for a new battery, 4 plugs, oil & filter, coolant flush and
replace, and lube and adjust the chain. It's going to cost another $250 to
get the valve train adjusted, but I doubt that it was done at 16k miles like
it was supposed to be.
Ran one loop around Gay St and then Summer to Country club rd to check
everything out and at least the bike is running great. I would have been
extremely busted on Country Club road except that I was stuck behind a slow
car. The cops were sitting on a little side-street down near Rt 109 clocking
people coming down the long straight. I'm usually honking down that stretch
of road so I really lucked out. Pushing that luck I really launched down 109
towards Dedham. The acceleration of even this old bike is awesome, I can't
imagine the power of a modern sportbike.
Temps in the 50's and sunny so I wore long-johns, turtleneck, sweater,
fleece vest, my red slicker and the winter gloves.
A great ride! I didn't get going until 9:30 so the traffic was a little
thicker than I would have liked throughout but it was a beautiful, almost
cloudless day. I started the usual way, down Gay St. to Fox Hill to Farm
Lane to Pleasant Valley. I made a left onto Summer St but got stuck behind a
slow-moving sport-ute (is there any other kind?) so I turned right on
Westfield to make another loop around so hopefully I'd have clear roads into
Dover. I had a nice spin down Country Club road and took it easy at the end
near 109 where the cops lurk. Right on 109 and then tried Summer again, this
time behind an SHO who at least was moving.
A funny thing happened at the intersection of Westfield and Dedham St. The
car blinked his lights to let me in so as I was turning left I looked over at
him to nod in thanks. The bike straightened up a lot so I had to kind of
wrestle it back into the turn, which I'm sure looked kind of awkward (at
least it felt that way). I guess the guys at the beginner class were right
when they said the bike goes where you look!
Anyway, out through the center of Dover and then I was going to go out to
Wayland but I was stuck behind a slow Lincoln so I made a sharp right onto
Farm St which was very pleasant (and with some huge houses!). At one point
I saw a guy burning leaves and it smelled great. I guess at this point I was
pretty much lost but it was such a nice day I didn't mind and thought I'd poke
around a bit. I ended up on Pleasant street (it's name was accurate) until I
ended up at the 'Eliot Historic District' of South Natick. It looks like it
might have been an old mill town at one point since it's on what looks like a
mill pond, and it's quite charming. I made a sharp left onto Eliot Street which
is also Route 16. That moved a little faster, which was OK since I had been in
traffic most of the way. Eliot Street went into Sherborn where it joined up
with Route 26 (Main St). I was a little concerned about getting too far west
so I hung a right onto 27 North. Along the way I passed Dowse Apple farm
which is probably John Dowse's place. John went to SPC and as I remember it
was an apple farmer in Sherborn.
Route 27 ended up in Natick center, which was all jammed up with cars. At
that point I didn't mind a chance to stand up and flex my legs a little! I saw
a sign for Rt 135 so I took a right which took me past Wellesley College (on
a road with lots of frost heaves) and into the center of Wellesley, which was
also jammed with cars. From there Rt 135 heads into Needham and then into
Dedham which is good because by that point I was starting to keep an eye on
the gas gauge.
All told I rode almost 40 miles today and am starting to relax a little on the
bike. Even a month or two ago I wouldn't have been able to ride that far
without cramping my hands but today I was tired (mostly from the concentration
I think) but not sore. I still have to think about everything that I do since
nothing comes naturally yet but I'm riding smoother than I was and I'm able to
get my head out of the bike and look down the road without obsessing about
looking just beyond my front wheel.
I was just back from Atlanta and a little tired so I took a short ride: out
Gay Street, left on 109 then right onto ???, then right into the center of
Dover. Right on Farm Street then (for the first time) right at the sign for
Dedham and Dover, which takes you back into Dover center. It's a nice loop
but I didn't get out until after 10:00 so the streets were pretty crowded
and I was stuck behind traffic most of the time.
The bike runs a lot cooler than it used to. If you're moving then the temp
needle is down towards the warm-up zone, where before it used to run in the
middle of the range.
When I shut the bike off I noticed that the tail light was still on but not
the headlight or the instrument panel. I checked the key and it turns out that
there's a position called 'Park' which shuts everything off and locks the
fork but leaves the tail light on. I wonder if that isn't how I toasted my
battery earlier this spring? I know that it's very easy to have the lock in
Park and not Off, and I certainly wasn't checking before.
Patriot's day! A quick, fun 20 miles around the Dover loop. Bugs are starting
to be a problem, I definitely need to figure out a solution to not having a
visor. I'd hate to have to buy a new helmet but it's no fun having bugs fly
into the face hole and buzz around.
Lot of riding between now and the last time I wrote, but some bad news too.
I had been commuting to work a couple of times each week. It's a fun way
to get there, takes less time, and it's actually pretty cheap. The "dirt
lot" that costs $8 to park a car only costs $2 for a bike and you can park
right next to the kiosk so there's someone watching the bike most of the day.
There are a few other bikes that I see on a semi-regular basis: a Katana and
a tricky little 600cc sportbike with lots of purple accessories.
In Early Spetember I was riding through Cleveland circle and noticed that
the temp guage was pinned on the top. I stopped pulled over and had a
cup of coffee and let the bike cool off, but then kept riding to work.
It ran hot on the way home, too. Since I was leaving for England in a few
days I parked it in Tom Hart's garage and left it there for two months.
When I got back I took a short ride and got the same behavior: it runs nice
and cool for a few minutes and then the guage shoots up to the top very
Anyway, the guys at Metropolitan just called and told me the thermo switch
had failed (which was why the fan wasn't coming on) AND I HAVE A BLOWN
HEAD GASKET! I'm waiting to hear whether it's the front or back head
(which evidently impacts the price) but I have a feeling this will be
Just when I was feeling good on the bike and looking forward to doing more
Metropolitan finally got the thing fixed and I picked it up today. The
deal seems to be that the combination of the bad thermo switch and a leaky
rediator plug on the lower radiator conspired to overheat the motor which
cause the gasket to leak. They found that it was the front cylinder bank
and were able to stop the leaking by retorquing the head. They also
installed a switch to turn the fan on. Looks pretty cheezy.
Nice ride around the Dover loop. Got out reasonably early in the morning
so there wasn't much traffic. Bike seems to run well, nice and cool.
In the afternoon I went on a big "ride." The guy who runs the bike shop
had told me about it - evidently they had ~3000 bikes last weekend. It
starts in the parking lot of the Rt128 train station in Westwood. I thought
it would be fun so I took a look. I don't know that there were 3000 bikes
but I'd bet there were 1000 at least. All kinds of bikes were there, mostly
Harleys and sportbikes, though. We started off around 2:00, north on 128 then
off onto East St, down into East Dedham, along High St to Milton St then left
on Milton St all the way to Washington St. There were so many bikes we simply
ran through all of the red lights! It was pretty cool; sort of like a parade,
people were cheering from the side of the street and videotaping as we went
by. We went down Washington almost to Forest Hills, turned right onto
Belgrade St and then right again onto Hyde Park Ave. All in all it was pretty
urban riding, even stop and go at some points. The bike ran pretty well,
though, and I got to test the fan switch. Works well, although it's hard to
get to on the fly since you have to reach across the bike with your left hand
and the switch is on the right side of the fairing.
We drove past the Star Market on Hyde park Ave and then someone had set up a
bunch of Police barriers down the middle of the street. Bikes were pulling
in behind the barriers, down side streets, pretty much anywhere they could
find a space. I drove down to the end of a side street, parked the bike and
then walked around a bit. It was fun checking out all of the bikes: lots of
full-dress Harleys, a few Ducati's, a Buell X1 with Nitrous, a Ural (looks
like a BMW boxer), a couple of Gold Wings, and then a bunch of squid bikes.
There was even a rotary engine Kawasaki!
There were two bars but they were so packed I couldn't get inside so I hiked
up to the Star for a Coke. On the way back I walked down one of the side
streets and found a crown of people watching guys pop their back tires.
Basically, they'd just light up the real tire and spin it around in a huge
cloud of rubber smoke until it exploded with a big bang then we'd all hoot
and holler and pat the guy on the back. Don't know how they got home, though.
At least one of the guys had a pretty new 1000cc sportbike so the tire probably
cost a few bucks but I'm assuming it was pretty well worn out to begin with.
There were a couple of helpful bikers there who would pick up the back of the
bike to help it get started if it wasn't powerful enough to spin the back tire
on its own. The technique seemed to be to rev the bike and let the clutch
go while pushing hard on the handlebars (and holding the front brake tight),
then get the wheel spinning and try to grab 2nd gear, and then hold on until
it blew up. Some of the guys would sit on the bike and do donuts but most
stood up and the bike stayed in one place.
After a few minutes there wasn't much else to see so I got on the bike and
rode home. I'll bet I was the only person there with an LL.Bean fleece
vest, but it was pretty fun. Next year I'd like to go with some people,
though. Doesn't seem like Norty Knox's type of place but I'll bet Loomer
would have a good time.
Spectacular fall day, had a beautiful ride around the Dover loop. Had to
clean the bike off, first, since some kids had covered it with Silly String.
Checked the air pressure in the front and rea shocks and nither one caused the
guage to move, so next time I'll put some air in the back one to see if it
makes a difference in the ride.
At this point I started riding more and writing about it less