Saturday, March 13, 2010

First tracks!

Geese flying north? Check. Sap running? Check. Driveway clear of snow? Check. New motorbike? Oh yeah!

Nothing like a little spring sunshine to stir the loins for a ride. It doesn't hurt when there's a sweet little used CRF70 waiting for my kids to learn to ride on. Just picked it up last night from Powersports Canada in Ottawa. While I appreciate them responding to my online ad for a kid bike, I was annoyed to get the bike home and discover that the $150(?) "dealer prep" I was obliged to pay apparently only covered some gas and an oil change. The body work was missing an important (and obvious) bolt, other hardware was loose, the right hand-guard mount was broken, and the chain was flapping like a sail. Not even a squirt of lube on it! How much would it have cost to just fix those things? Anyway, some tinkering later and the little beast was ready to roll.

This is my kids' first introduction to riding, so they were pretty excited last night when we picked up the bike and shopped for gear. Ottawa Goodtime Centre was helpful (despite almost closing time) with picking out helmets and some body armour for my son, who's almost 8, and daughter who's almost 10. Got a good deal on Fox Tracer DOT MX helmets at $99 each. They seem to fit well, and hold goggles nicely. For body armour we picked a one-piece SixSixNine upper with integrated arm protection and a spine protector. The kids can share it. Given the speed of the CRF70, this combo should be fine. After all, they ride bicycles fast on hard pavement wearing only regular clothes and a bike helmet. Too much protection and the false sense of invulnerability leads to bad judgement and risk taking.

I really wasn't sure how interested my daughter would be in learning to ride. She's the cautious type. But she surprised everyone by being tenacious and really giving it a go. She's hooked. Although my son is the more natural risk taker and quite athletic, he seemed a bit overwhelmed by all the things to learn. Late night last night didn't help. He'll figure it all out soon enough.

So today we all got to give the little '70 a go--my wife included, after some persuasion. She was hooked too. We may have to get her a scooter one of these days. And I suspect the kids will outgrow this bike by the end of the summer. Next step up involves a clutch.

I also exhumed my KLR for its first ride today. Ran into Ottawa on errands, got caught by some rain on the way back. Bike and rider rode like champs nonetheless. Unfortunately, the water pump is dripping at the weep hole which suggest the seals are going. I ordered new seals today and get to enjoy draining the oil and tearing off the clutch side to replace the seals next weekend. Too bad I didn't notice *before* I put the bike together and filled up the oil and coolant. Sigh. I suppose I should be thankful this bike's been utterly reliable. But I'm Jonesing for newer, lighter ride--maybe a EFR450X that's been dual-sported.

Those Honda SH150's sure look attractive for running into Ottawa. Maybe I'm just getting old, but poking along in stop-and-go traffic for an hour is mighty tedious on a regular bike. One of these days I'm going to scratch that scooterlust itch I've had for the past 25 years...

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