BLOG (very,very long) My New Guzzi

Discussion in 'UK Motorcycles' started by Pip Luscher, Nov 3, 2009.

  1. Pip Luscher

    Pip Luscher Guest

    This is an unashamed blog. I make no apologies. It may well break the
    cardinal rule of UKRM and be boring. If you are not interested in a
    list of finding fault after fault, of pig-headed stupidity in the face
    of adversity then look away now.

    The Nearest and Dearest reckons that just writing this was a sort of
    catharsis for me. She could well be right.

    Prat the first: But it's cheap!

    Despite enjoying the extra space having sold my R1, the garage vacuum
    didn't last long. I started hankering for something different. Maybe
    a classic, perhaps a Brit single or a more street-oriented Guzzi. The
    cash from the sale of the R1 was burning a hole in my pocket.

    I soon spotted a V11 Sport on eBay, a part-exchange being sold by a
    dealer. As the bidding hadn't got too high, decided to put in a lowish
    bid and see what happened. If I won, good; if not; well I still had
    cash and a roomy garage.

    In the pictures in the eBay listing, the fuel tank looked a bit faded
    but it was difficult to tell for sure; could just have been the
    photography. I also suspected that there was some cosmetic damage: the
    text pointed out that the headlight brackets had been replaced. To me
    that said 'frontal impact repaired on the cheap' and the photo showed
    what looked like scuffs on the bottom of the right exhaust, but the
    rest of the listing was pretty upbeat: just two prior owners,
    alarm/immobilizer, only 13000 miles; serviced only a month ago and
    'some' service history. It was a Guzzi, and Guzzi owners tend to keep
    their bikes and look after them, right? And it was currently cheap.
    Let us not forget the clinching argument.

    To my surprise, I won it. Perhaps this should have told me something.

    I was happy to pay a deposit via Pay Pal, and arranged to collect the
    next Saturday morning. Unfortunately, when I announced this to the
    Domestic Management, she then said that she'd booked something herself
    for that day and hadn't told me 'because you get angry'. I was a bit
    taken aback by this (I'm fairly sure that I'm a pretty mild-mannered
    guy), but I pointed out that holding off and telling me at the
    eleventh hour when I had made my own plans *was* guaranteed to
    irritate me. I figured that I could still do it that day but I
    wouldn't have much time to mess about collecting the bike. So of
    course, the inspection would be a bit hasty.

    Saturday morning arrived and, bright and early, off I trundled with
    the trailer and a big wodge of cash. The bike was located in a village
    deep in darkest Norfolk. My first reaction to seeing it (the bike, not
    the village) was 'Oh.' The bike was lurking between two parked cars by
    the side of the road. If a bike could look world-weary and dispirited,
    this one did.

    The seller looked a little surprised to see me, apparently he'd tried
    to email me the day before to delay me collecting the bike because the
    starter was erratic. Unfortunately I hadn't checked my email after 9PM
    the previous evening. I'm still not sure if this wasn't a deliberate
    ploy. Well, these V11s do suffer from bad relays and I'd had similar
    issues with my Quota. No biggie.

    Initial inspection showed that paint was flaking off various alloy
    bits, most fasteners were corroded, the instrument console had
    mismatched screws and the tank was indeed faded, highlighted by the
    fact that a tank protector had been removed leaving a brighter shadow.
    That was all right though because someone had stuck a different-shaped
    one over the top, one with a picture of Death and his scythe and some
    skulls. Classy. Adding more stylish touches were a pair of blue neon
    spark plug caps and real genuine carbon-effect front mini-indicators.
    Oh well, I decided that I'd better check that the beast approximated
    to the description and get it loaded up.

    Looking closer at the bike, I noticed that the odometer read 14100
    miles, not the 130000 miles indicated on the listing. Ho hum, not a
    huge difference, but still.... The bike had definitely been crashed at
    some time in its life: the lock-stops were asymmetrical and *both* the
    rocker box protectors were scarred. For all that, the frame looked
    straight and the forks were straight with no stiffness, scuffs or
    weeps and the engine started easily enough and idled OK.
    There was no blue smoke when I blipped the throttle. A very brief
    trundle down the road showed that the brakes were OK and the
    transmission seemed to be basically present. I couldn't see the
    indicators working as I rode but the tell-tale flashed at the right
    rate. A cursory glance showed that something about the rear brake
    master cylinder mounting was a bit... crude, but hey, it's a Guzzi and
    it worked OK. Time was pressing.

    Final checks were the key (there was only the one): yep, it fitted all
    the locks, and the numbers: all matched against the document. I forgot
    to check the alarm and immobilizer. As we were signing the documents,
    I asked about the service history. The seller indicated that he'd done
    the service about three months ago for the previous owner, who had
    then strangely sold the bike almost immediately. He said that if he
    couldn't find the original then he'd print it out and send it on. So
    the 'partial service history' was him servicing it once three months
    ago, not one month ago as claimed on the listing. There was, of
    course, no user manual or toolkit with the bike. I was beginning to
    wonder what I'd let myself in for, but it was an eBay auction and you
    'bid to buy, not haggle' as I always put on my own listings.

    So we loaded the bike up. The seller obviously didn't trust my method
    of tying down because he re-did some of them. He did actually do a
    pretty good job. Maybe he just wanted the bike as far away as possible
    as soon as possible. I headed home laden with a bike, seat cowl and a
    cheap aftermarket starter/kill switch unit that the seller had
    intended to fit to cure the starter issue.

    Prat the second: A voyage of discovery.

    Having got the bike home, I had time to wash my new purchase but I was
    busy the rest of the the day so couldn't really examine it in detail.
    The next day, I had a proper look. The first thing I noticed was that
    the front brake lever pivot pin had shaken half out - the nut was
    missing. Bikes are all about excitement and there's nothing like brake
    failure to get the old adrenaline flowing. Then I noticed that the
    front brake light switch wires were broken off. With a view to
    soldering new terminals on, I buzzed it out and found that
    the switch was borked. O-kay. Fine. Let's look at the rear brake light
    switch. Ah. There doesn't appear to be one.

    I had already figured that the bike had been crashed but I found new
    evidence, if any were needed: the clutch & front brake levers were
    slightly different colours and the RHS foot-peg was slightly bent. It
    was, in retrospect, bleeding obvious. The bike had obviously been
    crashed relatively recently; there's no way on Earth it would have
    passed an MOT in the state I collected it in.

    There was still something odd about that rear brake master cylinder
    and I gave it my full attention: all three seconds' worth. What's
    this? Why would its mounting bracket be spaced off the frame with
    washers? The reservoir was there and full of nice clean brake fluid...
    at this point my eyes flicked to the two reservoirs on the handlebars,
    both showing distinctly brown contents. Then it was like a blind man
    suddenly seeing: the reservoir was bodged onto the alloy shield and
    shouldn't be there. The 'bracket' was a strip of steel added to
    accommodate a master cylinder whose mounting holes did not match the
    frame lugs. Oh arse. Okay. Get a grip. After the front brake
    discovery, I checked the pin that connects the lever to the master
    cylinder: it was a simple bolt, with no nut. Again, mere friction lay
    between that and brake failure. The previous owner obviously wanted to
    live life in the fast lane, but die in someone else's boot.

    What else did we have? The left front indicator didn't work: I
    supposed that I'd better open it up and find out what bulb it took. Ho
    hum, they work better with a bulb actually present, don't they? I
    couldn't find an exact match locally but wedged a similar sized one
    in. I'll replace the indicators later.

    Next, I found that the intermittent starter fault was now a permanent
    one and the bike wouldn't start, so spent a couple of hours tracing
    wires and swapping and cleaning relays. I'd found a service manual
    on-line but irritatingly it only showed what a few of the relays did -
    obviously the wiring diagram showed them all but not in which order
    they were in their little sockets, so it took a bit of trial and error
    and pressing buttons and listening and feeling for the clicks. By
    taking the cover off one relay and manually squeezing the contacts
    together, I got a cough out of the starter motor, which made me jump
    as I'd half expected nothing to happen. With that clue I figured out
    quite quickly that the fault was the clutch switch interlock combined
    with dirty relay contacts. Shorted and sorted.

    During this electrical work, I recalled that this bike should have had
    an alarm, but the fob was notable by its absence. As I was working, I
    had also spotted wires that had been rejoined with screw terminals and
    a LED on the back mudguard with a pair of wires that went nowhere.
    Clearly there had been an alarm once. In truth, I don't like the damn
    things anyway, though to be fair the Meta on my old TLR worked well. I
    chalked it up as one less thing to worry about. This mellow moment
    didn't last: while reading the manual, I discovered that these bikes
    come fitted as standard with a steering damper, so I checked. There
    were the brackets, but the damper was long gone. I do have an Ohlins
    floating around somewhere, so if the bike really needs it then I'll
    fit that. One report I read suggested that they're not really needed

    Next, check all the other lights. All OK except for the number plate
    light. As we're now on GMT I figured that I could do with all the
    lights working, so spent a merry hour stripping the entire back end of
    the bike, including having to drill out two corroded bolts. Yes, you
    really do have to undo sixteen fasteners and remove the tailpiece and
    split the double-skinned back mudguard to replace the number plate

    It occurred to me then to check the tyre pressures and check that the
    valve caps were present - these often get left off by careless owners.
    Call me picky but it's little things like this that could let down a
    well-maintained bike such as this one. The front cap was present but
    the back one was missing. How surprising. The valve itself looked...
    whaat? What kind of pea-brained gorilla can chip a ruddy great chunk
    off the end of a tyre valve? Even using my compressor, I couldn't get
    enough air into the tyre. I had one of those screw-on right-angle
    adapters somewhere that might have sealed well enough, but I'd
    no idea where it was.

    Monday came and I sorted the insurance and ordered some spares. There
    wasn't much I could do now until the spares arrived - I felt that the
    bike really wasn't fit for serious use. I had also decided that as
    there was only half a millimetre of legal tread left on the rear tyre
    ('a good few miles' according to the eBay listing) I also ordered a
    replacement BT020 for fitting the following Saturday.

    Skip forward to the the weekend and another disappointment. I arrived
    at the local shop, wheel gripped in my sweaty paws. There was no shiny
    new tyre waiting for me - apparently Bridgestone have gone all
    model-specific and as I hadn't left any contact details, they couldn't
    call to ask what it was for. Double bugger. As I'd heard good things
    about Michelin Pilot Road tyres, I ordered one of those. I also bought
    a cheap rear brake light switch and made up a bracket for it.

    So now we have an engine that seems to start reliably, working lights
    and insurance. Time to actually ride the thing for the first time
    since I got it home, though the back tyre pressure is a bit low. OK,
    just a mile or two up and down a local country lane. A very straight
    country lane. Turning out of our quiet close, I was struck by one
    aspect of the bike's handling: its absence. The bike felt dreadful.
    Out on the lane I opened the taps and the... the vibes, man! But the
    bike accelerated smartly enough and once up to speed, was stable and
    tracked straight hands-off. The brakes took a bit of a squeeze (I
    think they're the same as fitted to my Tuono) but worked well with no
    judder. There's hope yet.

    The next day I thought I'd better check the engine oil. Well, it was
    there. Lots of it. Rather too much in fact, nearly two inches higher
    than it should be. So out came the drain pan to lower the level a bit.
    I figured that the MOT, which was three months old, would have been
    done about the same time as the service. The mileage recorded on the
    certificate suggested that around 2K miles had passed since then.

    You know, it's impressive just how thick and black oil can get in just
    three months and about 2000 miles. It was similar to the tar that
    comes out of my car, and that's a diesel. I sighed and let the sump
    drain completely and Halfords got some more business. While I was at
    it I decided to buy some EP-80W90 for the transmission, too. The oil
    changes went without a hitch, so in a fit of optimism, I decided to
    flush the front brake system. The bleed nipples turned nice and easily
    (aren't Brembo's wonderful?) but one of the screws on the reservoir
    was, you guessed it, seized, resulting in the nut rotated in the
    plastic. I initially drilled the screw head off so I could at least
    get into the reservoir, then thought I'd try drilling the nut off from
    the side. Somehow it worked, and to celebrate I tried to buy
    replacement screws. No-one stocked them locally, so I ordered some
    stainless replacements via eBay. I still have faith.

    Later that week, with the new tyre and a new set of rear brake pads
    fitted, I finally got to ride this bike properly and took it to work.
    Guess what: the low-speed handling was still terrible; with a
    barely-scrubbed rear tyre it was almost frightening, with a tendency
    to flop into slow corners and wobble alarmingly once banked over.
    Higher speeds were fine. Somewhat deflated, I made a mental note to
    check the head races.

    The next weekend I tried out the 'grease inna bag' patent head race
    test jig. Yep, notched in the straight-ahead position. As it was wet
    and windy I wasn't about to go on any joy rides, so contented myself
    with checking the valve clearances and balancing the throttles: both
    jobs are a doddle on these bikes. Which brings us almost up-to-date.

    prat the third: riding it.

    I rode the beast into work yesterday; the vibes seemed less obtrusive,
    the handling less frightening; at least now that I knew what the issue
    was and oddly, just knowing helped enormously. Maybe the fact that the
    sun was shining helped. I found that I could gently 'help' the bars
    turn in; I still had to corner carefully, mind, and the chicken strips
    are currently almost as wide as the scrubbed bit. New head races
    ordered. Kerching. They arrived today, the day after I ordered them.
    Postal strike? What postal strike?

    So: how's it to ride?

    Having finally got to actually ride the thing properly, if not at its
    best, I've found that the gearbox is oddly slick, except when it
    isn't; it doesn't seem to like being up-shifted lazily at low revs and
    will hit a false neutral. At other times it's almost uncannily slick,
    but slow. I can't comment on the handling, of course. Out on the road
    today the engine growled and it felt alive and, and, right. A proper
    motorcycle, whatever that is. The bike really did accelerate when I
    used the revs, too; not in the 'Yeee-haaah! way of a Tuono or an R1,
    but 100mph already? Optimistic speedo, surely? Then I noticed that
    when bimbling in A14 traffic, the speeds look about right. Maybe it's
    non-linear; I'll check it out properly one day. But just maybe it's
    correct.... The headlight diddn't live up to one report and seemed
    quite reasonable, or will be when I tighten the mountings. Yes, it has
    its own preferred aiming position and it doesn't coincide with my
    requirements. Yet another thing to sort.

    Should I have bought it? In retrospect I had plenty of good reasons
    for refusing it and negging the seller. It is definitely more of a
    project than I'd anticipated, but in a perverse way it's been fun.
    When I saw the listing I was looking for something interesting, and I
    don't really 'do' pristine bikes anyway, so I'm not entirely unhappy,
    just a bit peeved at being taken for a ride to the tune of a few
    hundred pounds - I definitely wouldn't have bid as much if the listing
    hadn't been so, err, optimistic. Nor, I suspect, would the other
    bidders. I've given neutral feedback, but then I'm a big softie. At
    least other buyers may get some warning. I figured that I could only
    reasonably neg the seller if I hadn't accepted the bike. Maybe that
    was wrong but I'm sticking by it.

    I've just discovered that a UKRM-er had put his V11 Sport up for sale
    only a few months before I had the cash to buy one. If only I'd been
    looking a few months ago...
    Pip Luscher, Nov 3, 2009
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  2. No, you don't. You bid according to the auction description. Not as
    described, no deal.
    The Older Gentleman, Nov 3, 2009
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  3. Pip Luscher

    JackH Guest

    ....a bit of a result, really. ;-)

    Humm, you bid to buy what has been described. From what you've said
    this obviously wasn't as described... and that's based on what you
    discovered at the time of collection, not what you discovered once
    you'd got it home, so I'd have said you'd have been justified in
    walking away from this one.

    Given the seller was a trader, it might be worth getting back in touch
    with him to politely relate your displeasure at what you've found
    wrong with it vs the description which he'd given and you'd used to
    determine as to how much hard earned you were prepared to bid on it.
    JackH, Nov 3, 2009
  4. Pip Luscher

    eamo Guest

    <snip blog>


    A Great Read.

    A fine and sensitive deposition on the trials and tribulations of a
    committed motorcycle fettlist, resigned and reconciled to his
    condition; and all that that entails.
    <doffs cap>
    Discount thon pernickity persons, up yonder ^^^ or down below [1], go
    forth undaunted and hew that relationship betwixt man and machine
    ( despite the wobbliness and shedness of either) that lifts the
    motorcyclist to that higher plane, regardless of his mission being in
    someway, intrinsically and undeniably, bats.
    <gasps> On topic, an all!
    I concur with 'er indoors, whoever she is, such fine prose is
    undoubtedly of assistance in the reconciliation with The Road to be
    Travelled, and more, tis a beacon to the rest......

    [1] **** nose wherein this thread this will appear.

    eamo, Nov 3, 2009
  5. Pip Luscher

    Donnie Guest

    Pip Luscher said:
    Seems so, **** me, I'd be collecting rotting dog shit, bagging it up in
    a large jiffy bag and posting it to the ****. (I'd use my own but you
    know, these days, DNA evidence etc)
    Donnie, Nov 4, 2009
  6. Pip Luscher

    Donnie Guest

    JackH said:
    ummm if hes a trader and listed on ebay as a business then surely the
    Distance Selling Regs are applicable?
    Donnie, Nov 4, 2009
  7. Pip Luscher

    wessie Guest

    online auctions are not covered by those regs see section 2.16 (buy it now
    *is* included)

    However, the way the sale/contract is concluded is the applicable part as
    far as DSR is concerned.

    As PipL completed the sale face to face then he wouldn't be covered by DSR
    even if he'd done a BIN.
    wessie, Nov 4, 2009
  8. I've bought plenty, and I've walked away from a few, most recently the
    XS250, simply because the description hasn't matched the reality, and
    I've told the seller so.

    I think buying any vehicle on eBay is a minefield, and while I'm
    confident in my ability to step through unscathed, I wouldn't advise a
    novice to try it.
    The Older Gentleman, Nov 4, 2009
  9. Pip Luscher

    Pete Fisher Guest

    Blimey, and there was me feeling a bit guilty about the sticky throttle
    return on the Nordwest I sold to Simon. It is a bit of a liberty for a
    trade sale though shirley? Would it not have been covered by the same
    trade descriptions requirements of any cash sale? Our TSOs (that's
    Trading Standards Officers BTW) often up the cudgels on behalf of
    punters buying from car supermarkets who discover that they are complete
    dogs. Bit late now I suppose and you would probably have had to take it
    back to Norfolk in an attempt to get them to do repairs.

    "If you are looking to reject the vehicle and claim a full refund, the
    onus is on you to prove that there is a problem with it. If you are
    claiming an alternative remedy of repair or replacement, followed by
    full or partial refund within the first six months, the onus is on the
    trader to prove that the vehicle was acceptable when it was sold and
    that it conformed to the contract. This is called the 'reversed burden
    of proof'. After six months, it is up to you to provide evidence to
    support your claim that the vehicle was defective when it was sold."

    Nothing like the satisfaction from resurrecting a forlorn and neglected
    bike though eh?
    | Pete Fisher at Home: |
    | Voxan Roadster [ SPACE ! ] Yamaha WR250Z |
    | Gilera GFR * 2 Moto Morini 2C/375 Morini 350 "Forgotten Error" |
    Pete Fisher, Nov 4, 2009
  10. Pip Luscher

    Pip Luscher Guest

    Do you allow *any* tolerance at all, or if anything's even slightly
    amiss just walk away?

    I've always tended to assume *some* slack in other's listings. Oddly,
    I put everything I know abut an then to agonize over having not
    mentioned something very minor. After all, on a high-mileage slightly
    scruffy commuter, I wouldn't mention every slight scratch. On a bike
    sold as being in excellent condition, yes.

    I did write it as a sort of 'as I saw it at the time' under the
    influence of buyer's fever, stream of consciousness kind of thing.
    Pip Luscher, Nov 4, 2009
  11. Pip Luscher

    Pip Luscher Guest

    I have bought another bike unseen on ebay an R1, and it was fine.

    In this case I guess I went to collect with the view of picking it up,
    with (almost) no possibility of rejecting it in mind, though as I
    wrote, I did check it over briefly.

    At the time I collected it, it seemed that the listing had been
    over-optimistic and there were only a couple of factual errors that
    seemed relatively trivial. Perhaps I should have paid more heed to my
    first impression.
    Pip Luscher, Nov 4, 2009
  12. Pip Luscher

    Pip Luscher Guest

    I did, but by this time I'd pretty much comitted to sorting the bike
    so there was little to be gained by moaning. His answer was just a
    load of flannel, in essence.

    Basically, I fucked up and the seller has his ill-gotten gains. The
    bike was probably still a couple of hundred quid cheaper than a good
    one would have gone for privately, I reckon (I paid £2160 for it) but
    maybe TOG will snort derisively at that guess.
    Pip Luscher, Nov 4, 2009
  13. Pip Luscher

    Pip Luscher Guest

    This is actually why I'm less upset than I might have been. There's
    just the concern that the neglect has done longer-term damage.
    Pip Luscher, Nov 4, 2009
  14. Pip Luscher

    Andy Bonwick Guest

    I bought by K100 off Ebay and didn't even go to collect it myself but
    I suppose on a bike like that you know you're buying shit.
    Andy Bonwick, Nov 4, 2009
  15. Oh, I give some slack, yes. But there are times when people really take
    the piss. The XS250, for example - the seller described the chrome as
    really excellent, just one or two tiny pinpricks, and one fork stanchion
    resembled a cheese grater.

    And then there was the oil leak. "Oh, I hadn't noticed that..."

    Sellers need to remember that buyers are relying on their decription,
    pix and honesty, and saying something like: "Well, that fault wasn't
    mentioned in the description, and it is a 10 year-old bike, so you can't
    complain" is unacceptable.
    The Older Gentleman, Nov 4, 2009
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