Sunday, 13 December 2009


You have got to have milestones. Especially if, like me, you are so lazy that even the stuff you love has to struggle to happen. And, in my defence, if you have a fairly busy life, you know, kids need new phones which then don't work, Christmas is coming and there are a lot of work drinks, family birthdays inconveniently fall at Christmas, the band is supposed to be doing writing sessions, all the guitars need new strings cos they are so knackered they won't intonate, the cats need feeding, the dishwasher blew up, the security light doesn't work, the boiler needs servicing blah blah blah.

So while people on forums cheerfully post how they took their bike to bits last night, I have been carefully removing a component every 300 years or so. And then in the name of research - and basically love - you  read all these really cool blogs about people with the time, talent, material resources, and taste, to build the ultimate cafe racer, old school chopper, race bike, the best Monster special, the best airhead BMW cafe racer ( I am loving these - more of this later ), whatever it's going to be right? Inspirational.....

...and quite psychologically damaging to your cause. You don't have the time, you don't have the money, you don't have the engineering skills, whatever. Sometimes, as happened to me recently, such an icon suddenly becomes available at knockdown cost. It's covered in all that stuff you need for your bike that is way to expensive to buy individually, because it's made out of CAD/CAM turned unobtainium and can only be sourced from Doctor Grand Prix's Emporium in Osaka, or the California Speed Temple's House of Bodacious Billet. And there it all is in the classifieds on a finished special that you admire...

So what are you going to do Chief? Buy it? Go on, it's cheap, these things depreciate like used shaving foam. So you buy it and then what? You cannibalise a fantastic special to bolt the bits on to yours. Or you ride it around and think why am I building another one? Or you sell some parts for a profit and keep, no, no, HOLD THE BUS! What did you start this for man? To do your own thing, and if you are going to come up a little bit aesthetically short on some components, a little sub-optimal performance wise, well sh*t, is that more important than the journey and the pride? Steer clear my friend.

So milestones help you negotiate all this dangerous ground. See, almost anything can be broken down into simpler components, the bike itself is a metaphor for this. Break the task, and our goal, into components, bite-sized chunks. "The 1000 mile journey begins with a single step", oh yeah, I been doing that stuff - that's why I haven't got anywhere yet!

So while you are working the Zen big time with the baby steps, a milestone tells you that you are getting somewhere, even if you don't know where yet. I picked mine - get the frame powder coated. Get the frame powder coated means take everything off, take everything off means drop the engine, so drop the engine becomes a milestone too. So "TA DAA" finally the engine is dropped!

In my earlier post I mentioned a few hiccups with various nuts and bolts and there were some more to come. But finally the other night I had the rear end off completely. All connectors pipes and tubes between engine and frame were unconnected. It was time to undo the two long bolts that run through the frame and the engine joining them at four points. I won't go into the gory details of how we freed a nut in a recess too small for a socket, other than to say that a tool was misused shamefully in order to wedge the nut as the hex was turned at the other end. And then the bit that broke off this tool lodged in the right place to facilitate release with no damage to any part of the bike. Sometimes the Gods are with you, and they do like a bit of drama when they help out a fool.

I had looked at the same paragrah of the Haynes manual for the 20th time, the one that advised getting the help of an assistant. I got my son down from the Eagles Nest (the attic room that used to be my studio until he got tired of me pushing mototrbikes through his bedroom), and we attempted to separate engine and frame.

A few things were then discovered that still needed taking off, a lot of dancing and wrestling took place, someone (my son) had to hold the plot together while I went to the little boys room etc etc - generally Laurel and Hardy. We finally get the engine out but my back was not too happy, even with two of us trying to get the lump on the bench. It is now midnight, and in through the out door walks a vision of loveliness. Mrs. Cutter has returned from a colleague's leaving party. She is wearing a cream coloured sweater, a velver skirt, tights and patent high heels. Get hold of this bit of the motor love...three of us can lift it easy.

A big hearted woman is a non-trivial asset my friends. She was the biggest milestone I ever achieved, and the biggest I ever will. (Yeah and for the sentimental smart-arses at the back saying "what about your kids?", well... where do you think they came from, Halfords?)

Engine's on the bench saying, clean me, paint me, feed me a light-weight flywheel.

Frame still has front-end attached. Is that easy to take off or would it have been easier before the bike looked like a grenade went off in the middle of it? We will soon find out, Christmas allowing......


  1. What the heck are you doing working for the Company of Broken Biscuits? You should be writing for a living - superb.

    So where now for the powder coating? Want me to take it to the excellent David Mayo? (see

    And get that front fender off before you mangle it when you dismantle the front end...

  2. Thanks mate, Well let's get the front end off first and see if amy moneu is left after Christmas for powder coating. Will check out vthe link in the meantime. Re the mudguard - good tip, need to keep it in good nick as will prbably sell it and get carbon one in 916 style.