Friday, September 4, 2020

Getting back to my Royal Enfield after a long delay

Close-up photo of author wearing cloth mask with motorcycle theme.
Changes in my travel plans kept me away from my Royal Enfield.
Motorcyclists who have to put away their motorcycles all winter long might laugh at me. But I was recently separated from my Royal Enfield —parked in my garage in Florida — for only six weeks, and suffered withdrawal symptoms.

After an unexpected delay in our return to Florida I would now have to do at least my normal checks before mounting up.

I'd filled the tank before going out of town, so I knew there was gas.

I checked the tire air pressure and added a little to the rear.

After any amount of time without riding I always drain the sump (separate from the oil tank on my 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet). I then pour that oil, or the equivalent of clean oil, into the oil tank. This heads off wet sumping (clouds of white smoke on starting), which I was sure to have after six weeks of oil seeping into the sump.

I vaguely recalled cleaning the spark plug after my last ride, so I decided to skip that step.

To my wonder and joy, the Bullet started on the second kick. I guess it missed me and wanted to go for a ride.

I'd forgotten to first unstick the clutch by swinging the kick starter a couple times with the clutch lever pulled. This gave me a heavy clunk when I  first released the clutch in gear with the motor running. Darn, why can't I remember to take my own advice?

Would I remember how to ride? After six whole weeks? The fact is I had gotten rusty.

I forgot how important it is to get down to Neutral before coming to a stop at a stoplight. The Bullet doesn't like to sit with the clutch pulled. You can almost feel the clutch cable wires stretching with the effort.

The Bullet quickly reintroduced me to the prolonged stopping distance cable actuated drum brakes require. Yipes!

I'd also forgotten some of the small joys of riding:

The movement through the air and exposure to crosswinds unfelt inside a car.

The smell of bacon and eggs cooking at restaurants roadside.

The glorious sound of the Royal Enfield as it goes through the gears (my earplugs cancelled out the sound of its valves rattling along).

The Bullet was well behaved. The only adjustment required after the ride was to tighten the stalk of the right-hand mirror, loosened by vibration.

All-in-all, it was delightful to be back on my Royal Enfield. I'll clean that spark plug when it cools off.


  1. Six weeks - yipes! These old beasts certainly do "put you in it" though. The full tank was to ward off the dreaded condensation Juju? About 95% of my life has been lived at MAYBE 10% humidity. How do you survive? ;-)

    1. Yes, a full tank of gas to hopefully resist rust. Humidity is unpleasant physically and rust has many times destroyed my favorite vehicles in front of my eyes. I am happy to say that my Bullet has stood up fairly well. Autos, of course, are worse in this regard, compared to motorcycles, because the rust starts inside body panels that can not be reached.


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