What I will remember about Marco Simoncelli

I will always remember Simoncelli’s last 30 seconds or so and the amazing battle he had just been having with Alvaro Bautista – some of the year’s best racing and pure Super Sic at his determined best. I hope people will remember those penultimate moments at least as strongly as the awful instant in which he was killed.

There are plenty of people in MotoGP and WSBK who have somehow crashed their way through a career without coming to serious harm, but without achieving much either, other than creating a pile of bent bikes, while better racers missed out on a ride. Continue reading

It’s alive! Here’s what we’ve been up to lately

So thanks for all the emails asking if we’re planning to do more episodes. The answer is yes. We’ve been just been quiet over the (northern hemisphere) winter because it’s just been too bloody freezing to hang out in an unheated garage drinking beer, spannering bikes and waving a camera about.

But we’ve all been busy with our own projects. I decided to paint the ugly front subframe on my Cagiva Elefant 750 and touch up the engine side cases and belt covers, which the dreaded ‘previous owner’ had allowed to get into a horrible state. That snowballed into painting the whole engine, which meant taking the heads and barrels off, so while I was at it I did the valve shims – finally conquering one of the tasks most feared by the Ducati home mechanic. If you have a two-valve desmo Ducati there are videos here and here that break the job down into a fairly simple procedure, complemented by a pretty decent write-up here (read carefully though – it does get a bit out of sequence at one point). Basically you just need to be methodical and stay on top of the measurements. And don’t drop anything down the oil return holes! Continue reading

We have removed our forum for now

G’day Garage Night TV watchers. Just a quick note to say we’re taking down the forum for the moment, just to simplify the site.

It’s still easy to get in touch and discuss bike fixing stuff. Just post a comment on an episode, or if you want to pick our brains you can email garage@garagenight.tv

– Waz

Breaking the bead that won’t

Breaking the bead: Pirelli tyre with wheel cut off

If the bead won't break and you don't need the tyre, there's always the Stanley knife option ...

Changing a motorcycle tyre usually would not involve a Stanley knife, but this was something of an extreme case. I got hold of a spare back wheel for my Cagiva – all it needed was a wipe clean and some sprocket bolts. And some fresh rubber.

I have changed the tyres on my bike several times in the past year and was actually looking forward to putting my skills to the test once again. The more you practice, the quicker you’ll be on the side of the road in less than ideal conditions.

Well. First, Richard and I used his tried the conventional method using the centrestand of his F650. Then we tried the sidestand. Neither worked, and now the sidestand is bent (Richard charitably noted that there was already something wrong with it and he needed a new one anyway).

So I stuck the wheel in the vice and deployed the home workshop method demostrated by Trent and me in this episode. The bead broke nicely on one side, but on the other it stayed stuck. Continue reading

Can’t wait to get spannering again – and maybe do some riding too!

I’m not quite sure what it is, but my nerves are jangling. Maybe it’s the sunnier, longer and marginally warmer days we’re having in these parts as a nasty winter slackens its grip at last. But more likely it’s my inner biker emerging from a gloomy winter of hibernation.

Waz's Dawes King Pin folding bicycle from the 1970s

Waz's way of getting through the winter - a vintage Dawes King Pin bicycle from the 1970s. Lesson learned: 1200 grit wet and dry paper soaked in WD40 is great for removing that fine speckly rust from old chrome

Through the cold months I’ve actually been questioning my biker side – staring forlornly at my partly dismantled Cagiva with lots of cruddy bits that need attention, inwardly lamenting my lack of proper workshop facilities at home, juggling working on the bike with family life, and even asking myself whether the bike thing is worth my time any more.

I ploughed my way through the winter on my folding bicycle, a veteran Dawes King Pin from the 1970s that someone on Freecycle gave me. I’ve been riding it partway to work and back each day, and actually I’m hooked on cycling now. I even got to put some of Trent’s know-how on wheelbuilding into action by replacing five spokes and truing up the rear wheel. All this pedalling must be doing me some good too, because despite my age carving a deep furrow through the upper 30s I just bought a pair of the same size Levi’s as three years ago. Continue reading

What Team Garage Night did next: Autumn Wander 2009

Nick and Pete from Team Garage Night on Exercise Autumn Wander

Nick and Pete from Team Garage Night on Exercise Autumn Wander

Here at Garage Night we’re between episodes at the moment. We nearly filmed one on bleeding Etienne’s DRZ brakes, but we started the night by helping BMW Noel with fitting a rear shock. He’s off riding Africa from top to bottom so the job had to be done.

The shockie job ran late, so we put the camera aside in the interests of getting both bikes finished and out the garage door.

We will get round to a brake bleeding episode. In the meantime, we’ve competed in Exercise Autumn Wander 2009 run by army blokes in the Salisbury Plain area. Here’s a video giving a decent overview by one of the other teams. Continue reading

Motorcycle friendliness

AT on the Shandur Pass Oh my poor Africa Twin (aka XRV 750, or just simply AT). Ever since the KTM 950 came on the scene the Honda has been neglected, abused and reduced to my daily commuter. It wasn’t always like this though; there was a time when it was the best bike I had ever owned and took me to far-flung places many other bikes couldn’t. Good memories, and with 120,000 kilometres on the clock it’s not worth anything to anyone but me.

One of the very few things to ever go wrong on my AT was the regulator/rectifier. It’s one of those electrical components you look at and think “I wonder what that does.” You don’t really find out until it fails. Continue reading

Monster: Bike of the decade?

The previous decade, I mean …

Got together with Pete, Trent and Richard last night, and Pete had the latest issue of Motorcycle News featuring Ducati’s reinvention of the Monster, the 696 (you’ve got to check out this Ducati promo, it’s a giggle).

Riding to work the same morning, I had been thinking of how, for me, the Monster would have to be the bike of the 1990s.

I remember when my mate Dave bought his. It was the year 1997, I think. I had a Cagiva Elefant 900 back then, and riding a bike with the 750 Ducati engine was a revelation.

The pig-headed, snatchy, lumpy low-end, dry-clutched 900 engine is fun in its way, once you get used to it. Dave’s Monster was fun right from the word go – a willing engine that pulled right off the line and a really flickable frame. My arms were splayed out to grip the bars, and my grin was almost as wide. The all-round nicer engine is the reason I have the 750 version of the Elefant these days. Continue reading

The garage door creaks open …

Pete on the Salar de Uyuni, BoliviaSo here it is – Garagenight.tv is up and running. We have been toiling away shooting video, editing, getting our overalls monogrammed (they look trick!), and of course constructing the web site. In the meantime there are motorbikes and parts thereof lying dismantled or in various states of repair all over the garage waiting for spokes, paint, engine repairs, MOT certificates …

Pete is well ahead so far on getting his nifty red overalls filthy. To look at them you’d think he had been rolling around on the garage floor in all the muck. He’s been putting in long hours cleaning up and repairing his KTM950 after his recent trip through South America. He had an amazing time, but we’re glad to have him back in town. Continue reading