Ugh! My new friends in the Concours Owners Group gave me plenty of advice of what to look for when buying a used Connie. But after I drove 325 miles to pick up the bike I sure as heck was not coming home without it. That doesn’t mean I didn’t plan to take it for a spin when I arrived, but when I arrived I found it on the owner’s porch atop a long, rutted DIRT HILL!
Now, I’ve only ridden a 1000cc class bike on one 600 mile trip a year ago. So the thought of manhandling a big Connie down a relatively steep rutted dirt hill was not my idea of fun. Nor was dumping it right in front of the current owner. So I did the unthinkable, I started the bike, checked it over, evaluated the mileage vs. cost, and went for it.
And now, here it is a week later, and I have yet to take my first ride. Ugh! I don’t know what’s worse, not riding my new Connie, or seeing my wife’s raised eyebrows. Let’s break down the issues.
First of all, the bike starts just fine, just as it did in Tehachapi. It runs a little rough, but nothing that new gas wouldn’t fix. But idling for five minutes, nothing I could do would prevent it from stalling once I put it in gear. And then, starting it became more and more difficult because I was draining the battery. Hmmmm…what to do? I figured I wouldn’t want a battery that was on its last legs (been there, done that) so I bought a new sealed Yuasa YTX20L-BS. Lo and behold, my Connie now started up immediately. So far so good. But it still wouldn’t let me transition from idle with lots of choke to the satisfying “vroom-vroom” of the throttle. Very frustrating.
Knowing that the gas was old, I filled up a can with 92 octane, put in some Sta-Bil additive, and filled the tank. I don’t know if this would help any varnish deposits clear out of the carbs, but like chicken soup, it couldn’t hurt. Unfortunately, no joy, only now my Connie would start right up, but she wouldn’t take off. Clearly I needed professional help. So, what does one do in a situation like this? There’s an App for that!
I pulled out my trusty iPhone, opened the Yelp App. It told me that the few motorcycle repair shops around me were given a three-star “meh” from their Yelp-using customers. Looking deeper into the reviews, what I didn’t find was a mix of five-star reviews from some people coupled with a few irate customers who bring the average down to 3 stars. What I found was ambivalent customers who actually rated the places three stars. Not a stellar endorsement in anyone’s book. There was one shop in Redwood City that stood out with 14 five-star reviews, Autostrada RWC! I’m thinking that this is either a fantastic place that engenders love from their customers, or somewhere that knows how to expertly shill on Yelp. Either way, I’m impressed.
I call Autostrada’s phone and find that they are in the process of moving their business. Arggggg! What bad luck. But then I call their new number and find that they have moved to a location that’s about five blocks from my house! I’m reminded of Humphrey Bogart’s line to Claude Rains at the end of Casablanca, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” David, the owner, was very free with advice over the phone. I tried a few things, but realistically, he needed to work on the bike at his shop. My dilemma was that the bike was at my house, not his shop. I loathed the idea of renting another trailer to haul my Connie five blocks. Although working like a maniac to move his business and get his new shop into shape, David took time out of his schedule to drive his F-150 Ford over to my house and take a look at my Connie.
He schooled me in how having her idle on full choke was like having her run on a mini-carb, but that the main carbs weren’t kicking in. He tried a few tricks to get them to kick in, but again, no joy.
So, he and his assistant rolled her up into the truck bed and took my Connie to the bike hospital. So much for my first weekend ride. I’m hoping against hope that this will be an easy (and inexpensive) glitch in what otherwise will be a long and glorious relationship between man and machine. The saga continues…
So, the weekend has gone by and David at Autostrada tells me that the carbs are completely gunked-up with green stuff. So much so, that they require another night with the parts soaking in carb cleaner. I can‘t tell you how much anticipation I am experiencing not even having taken my first ride. I’ll give you a full update tomorrow evening–hoping against hope that it will be after my first ride!