Oh, and technical stuff

I almost can’t believe I had to do this, but I’m so tired of “spam comments” being posted to this blog that I’ve written a little cron job that’ll erase every comment nightly in the database that contains a hyperlink. So if you’re going to comment, don’t put any links in your posting!

You have been warned :)

Parts and Pieces

Do you know how difficult it is to find parts for a 1991 Honda Nighthawk???? At least, it’s tricky to find parts that usually come stock, and usually last as long as the bike! Finding replacement handlebars for my bike has proven to be a royal bear.

Let me preface this by pointing out that I was very happy with the handlebars on my bike up until my little accident. They were the right size and height to give me a very comfortable seating position that I had no complaints about. However, when I had the accident those self-same handlebars got bent and as such needed replaced. Sure, they could probably be repaired, but they are buckled enough that I’d be constantly worried about a weak point in my handlebars that could potentially break at any time.

So I wanted handlebars that were pretty close to stock. Sounds easy, right? Not so. Honda apparently stopped importing major parts like handlebars for the Nighthawk 750 when they stopped selling them. An unusual occurrence, most manufacturers maintain inventory for years. Anyway, I could order them specially from Japan but they’d cost about $180. Lovely. I didn’t much feel like sinking $200 into a chromed pipe, so I went hunting for parts. Boy was that tough.

My initial thinking was that I could find salvage parts. I tried salvage yards over several states, but nothing. I mean, they only had a handful of 750′s, and even then they were usually lacking the handlebars and/or front forks. Those that did have handlebars, guess what? They were bent!

So aftermarket seemed my only option. Finally found a place that advertised “Reproduction handlebars” for the “Honda Nighthawk”. Excellent, I thought… and at $35 including shipping seemed like a really decent deal. One quick order later and the parts are shipped.

So I receive the parts. In order to protect them before installing, I left them in the packing material and started tearing into my bike. I removed everything… grips, throttle, switches… quite time consuming… and finally got the handlebars off. It was really obvious once the handlebars were off just how bent they were, and at the point they were bent they were also buckled. Definitely not repairable… well, maybe but my concern about weak points would remain. So then I tore into my shipping package containing my new handlebars. It was then I got that horrible sinking feeling. Yep, wrong handlebars.

What I got were handlebars for a Nighthawk 250, not 750. The front forks and everything are totally different… contrary to popular belief the 750 is a lot more than a 250 with a bigger engine shoe-horned into the frame.

So I go hunting again. No-one advertises Nighthawk 750 bars, and in fact finding the stock measurements proved to be troublesome. Yep, the handlebar measurements don’t appear to be in any documentation I can find… not the owners manual and not the maintenance manual that seems to list every set of dimensions except the handlebars. I started to look at my bank account with dread and think that maybe I might have to pay $180 to get my bike back on the road.

Finally, a Google search with just the right keywords turned up paydirt. I put in “Honda nighthawk 750 pullback” (pullback being one of the dimensions of a handlebar), and lo and behold I had a site link for a site that contained dimensions for handlebars from all sorts of bikes. Finally! Now I had something to work with; the stock dimensions of my handlebars.

So out I went on the web again and found a wonderful site called Old Bike Barn that could provide me handlebars in-stock within 1/2″ of stock measurements. Sure, they could’ve custom-made them to exactly stock… but I figured this was close enough for my tastes. $40 including shipping… not bad. Also ordered some chrome polish to polish up the rest of the chrome on my bike so my new handlebars don’t look too out of place…

So here I am, currently installed Fedora Core 5 x86_64 on my main PC, typing this entry on my laptop. My handlebars are due in Monday and unfortunately I get another weekend without riding. C’est la vie.

Good Morning Colorado

Just for anyone who’s interested, I’m in Colorado this week. Two weeks ago I was in Tucson, AZ. Yes, I’m traveling a lot on business these days.

Business trips are sort of cool… sort of suck. This one was a last minute deal, literally. I found out at 2pm on Monday I was coming out here, I flew out at 8:30am on Tuesday. Talk about last minute scramble to plan the flight, book the hotel and book the rental car! Still, I enjoy traveling. It’s one of those things I’ve always gotten a kick out of.

So why has the blog been so quiet? Well, at first it was simply that I didn’t have time. Then I started to get time but let’s just say that things happened in my personal life that gave me a very negative impression of someone who I had previously had a positive impression of. This person angered me enough that I decided to let my blog lie for a little while so I would not end up stooping to that person’s level. So that’s all I’m going to say on that subject; this other person decided that it was a nice thing to slander me in a public forum. I am not that kind of person.

Other than travel, I can’t say much has been going on in my life. Had an accident on my motorbike a couple of weeks ago. No, it wasn’t serious… I was riding down a two-lane stretch of highway when a vehicle in front of me slammed on their brakes hard enough that their rear-end fishtailed slightly. I was a decent distance back, but not really far back enough to react quickly enough (my mistake) so I looked at the situation and saw that I had only one real option; the grass. There was traffic coming the other way, and the car that had slammed on their brakes was filling up the lane I was in. I aimed for the grass and slowed down.

I hit the grass at about 35mph… really too fast for going off-road on a bike but I was trying to slow without locking the wheels. I was doing OK until I got down to about 10-15mph, then my front wheel got caught in a gully and twisted, throwing the bike down on its left side. I slid across the grass a little before coming to a rest. I pulled myself upright a little and shut off the engine immediately. By the time I got my bearings the guy who had caused my accident had, of course driven off. I just saw him heading off down the road… dontcha just love Missouri drivers?

Anyway, as I checked myself over a college student from the local community college happened by, stopped and helped me get my bike back upright and onto the kickstand. Damage to me? A few bruises and cuts on my Right leg where it had slammed into the side of the bike as it went down, and a jammed left wrist that had happened when the handlebars hit the ground. Nothing serious, but it DID hurt. I thanked the guy who had stopped… he offered to take me home, to call someone… but I said I was OK and would figure it out when I’d given the bike a once-over.

As he drove off (I could tell he was concerned… there are decent people in the world after all!) I checked the bike over. There was some mud and grass in the cooling fins of the engine, and the left turn signal was smashed. Other than that, it became clear pretty quickly that the handlebars were also bent pretty badly. Up and back… by the force of the impact. Bugger. So I cleaned out the mud and tried to straighten stuff out as best I could. I found the turn signal lens a few feet away so I put it in my saddlebags. Got the engine started and slowly, carefully rode it back up onto the road a little further down where the shoulder started (maybe 250yds). As I got back up on the road I continued straightening stuff out as best I could with the toolkit I had under the saddle. Then I started riding home carefully.

It was weird riding with bent handlebars, but I took corners very slowly and headed to a local Starbucks to grab a cup of tea to calm my nerves. I may be in the USA now, but some things are just ingrained in the British psyche.

Now the bruises have faded and the cuts have mostly healed (only two deep ones, but not deep enough to need stitches). Despite what some of my friends have asked, no I am not afraid of getting back in the saddle. In fact, I can’t wait to get my new handlebar so I can get her fixed and ride again. I know, I’m addicted to riding!

Anyway, it’s 7am in Colorado… got to check out of the hotel and head to the office. I’ll be headed home tonight. We found the problem late Tuesday that we came down here to fix, but we worked with our Corporate folks yesterday to get the problem fixed and ascertain the precise cause. Turns out it was a networking problem that no-one could see from Corporate… it only became obvious when I ran a traceroute from a workstation at the office in Englewood, CO. Still, it has been a valuable trip… but I am looking forward to heading home and sleeping in my own bed.

Speaking of that, I’m less than impressed with the Hyatt in Englewood… they charge you a decent amount for a room, then charge you a fortune for everything else as well. $10 for parking overnight???? You’ve got to be kidding!!! I know it’s on the company tab (love company credit cards!), but that’s not the point! That and the fact that they seem to want to charge for everything else as well (Internet access another $10)… it’s like nickel and diming you to death. I much preferred the “lower-end” Courtyard by Marriott in Tucson, AZ… once you paid for your room the rest was gratis. I think next time I come out to Denver (in about a month from what I’m hearing) I think I’ll stay somewhere else!!