Watson On: A Year Of Promises



Watson On

At the start of a new year I always make myself several promises knowing full well that due to time and money I am never actually going to deliver on them.

I‘m always going to take an advanced riders course because I know I have developed some pretty appalling habits; I am always going to upgrade my old Harley-Davidson with a list of parts that I’ve been mulling over for months and months and I am definitely going to buy that second bike. But, I understand that my long-suffering wife may think that bills and having food in the house should probably be our priority.

I am also definitely, definitely going to stop shouting at other road users that cut in front of me and often make my riding in Southern California in general a daily gamble.

I always begin a New Year with good intentions but along the way get distracted and I find that 12 months fly by and before I know it I am staring at Christmas decorations again knowing that I still have not done what I said I would.

This year it really is going to change. No seriously. I have booked my bike in for a service. I’d have done it myself but sitting in my garage is a battered oil filter with a screwdriver stuck in it. I have it on display on a shelf to specifically remind me why I should not pick up tools and attempt things that are way beyond my technical capability.

Though I have found a number of parts for my bike that I have wanted for a long time. I have stopped sitting on the couch starting at catalogs and writing lists of part numbers only to lose the list or change my mind and then start all over again. I have placed orders for gaskets, suspension parts and cables and am now sitting back waiting for them to arrive. What I do with them all when they arrive I haven’t yet decided.

I have also taken a look at the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) website and have read up on advanced rider courses and what it would entail. My finger has hovered over hitting the button and booking a place, as I know it’s going to be a struggle for everyone involved. The instructor is going to shake his head and question why I have not yet had a serious accident and I’m going to have to face the fact that I am not as good a rider as I think I am.

When my wife has been out of the house I’ve been trawling through websites offering once in a lifetime offers on spectacularly bad old motorcycles for ludicrous amounts of money.

I really, really want a second bike. Something totally different from my H-D and have trawled the Internet looking at Suzuki GS1000’s and Yamaha RD350’s. I’d like something from the 1980’s that will remind me of the stupidity of my youth when we did ridiculous things with motorcycles and heaven knows how, lived to tell the tale.

Or something old and British. I have studied lists of BSA Gold Stars and Norton Dominators and have got all misty eyed over these bikes. I know they will break and bits will fall off them and I’ll rupture myself trying to kick start them, but I’m not a rational man when it comes to motorcycles.

I know they will leak oil and I’ll have a devil of a job trying to find an elusive part, but I have a space that’s been reserved in my garage for several years now specifically for this second bike. Maybe 2014 will finally be the year I bite the bullet and find out what it really is like to live with the bike of your dreams.

I did venture out a couple of times over the Christmas period to ride. I get withdrawal symptoms if I haven’t ridden at least several times a week. It was possibly the worst decision I could have made. Everyone was in Christmas mode all going somewhere too quickly and oblivious of everything apart from getting to the shops or the office party on time. While the traffic and driving in Southern California is some of the worst that I have experienced anywhere in the world, between Christmas and the New Year it revs up to a new level.

When the guy with a cell phone clamped to his ear in the big Toyota truck pulled out in front of me and I had nowhere to go but the middle of the road, I’m embarrassed to say I started shouting vulgar oaths again. In less than a day I had broken one of my New Year’s resolutions. I will try harder this week I promise and keep my big mouth shut.

Out of the four resolutions I’ve made, so far I have kept one. My Harley gets new parts. Give me a break though if I haven’t done the other three by some point this year and then at that time, you have my full permission to shout at me.

What are you planning to do with your bike in 2014?

  • Jon B.

    That’s awesome: “I really, really want a second bike …something from the 1980’s that will remind me of the stupidity of my youth when we did ridiculous things with motorcycles and heaven knows how, lived to tell the tale.”

    • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

      There is an 83 Suzuki gs450e awaiting a partial resto-mod in my barn, for similar reasons.

  • Sean

    Finally take that multi-day trip with no planning..that I’ve been planning to take

  • Jack Meoph

    The long trip to no where. It could happen.

  • chris ordanez

    I have a pile of parts for adapting newer, twin-piston brake calipers from 90′s Ninjas for use on my ’77 GS750 that I want to get around to installing.

    A suspension upgrade is on the list as well.

  • Piglet2010

    These guys will help you correct bad riding habits.


  • Robert Horn

    Everyone who wants a classic British bike should get one. It is always a good idea. Either you’ll love the experience and be glad that you’re doing it – or you’ll hate the experience and be glad that you got it out of your system. Yes, that comes from experience.

    PS – I did the British bike thing first, and the ’80′s bike thing afterwards. But then again, that’s when those ’80′s bikes were new…

    • Tim Watson

      Is a BSA Gold Star a really good idea though?

      • Robert Horn

        Well, in my opinion, NO. That said, a nice DBD34 Gold Star, or, better yet, a Rocket Gold Star still makes me light headed. I’m just glad that other people spend their own time and money so I can enjoy them at a healthy distance.

      • Davidabl2

        I wish I could still find a memoir i once read about riding one as a teen in 1960′s New Jersey… the things were badass motorcycles in the day.
        A Velo,a Goldstar, or a Matchless A7 racer is probably a very good bad idea.

      • appliance5000

        Well – about the only good thing is if more people rode old British bikes they’d stop complaining about modern engine vibration and performance. They’re not what you think they are – they really aren’t.

  • mms

    Suspension upgrade (Ohlins probably) on my Ducati, suspension downgrade (leaf spring fork) on my HD, and I’m also going to try really really hard to not catch fire this year.

  • Nemo Danneskjold

    “damn, danny…just order the parts. Tim did! Dagny has been down TWICE ALREADY with the same R&G sliders…and yes, your handlebars are slightly bent. That chain isn’t getting any tighter…and your seat cowl, while it’s cute with it’s charming “for your protection, don’t touch my motorcycle” sticker, needs to be replaced, since it cracked in half when that second truck hit you. You deserve it…”—-my brain.

  • Doug Erickson

    Gonna ride to the in-laws in Oklahoma. I’m a relative novice with only 3 years and ~25K miles in the saddle, but I’m embarrassed that I’ve never left the west coast.

    Also gonna get some proper dirt training and do another track day. I feel on the cusp of marginal competence, but I want to scrub any potential bad habits or limitations before they fix.

    Hey, Tim, what are the bad habits that have you concerned?

    • Tim Watson

      Hey Doug – I’m crap at going round right hand corners and blame that on as a kid I rode round and round fields on an old BSA anti-clockwise. I also don’t brake as well as I should… and the list goes on and on. Somehow I seem to keep it the right side up, but it’s only a mater of time.

      • Kevin

        Some folks are so counter-clockwise, they’re anti. ;)

      • Randy S

        Tim, are you right handed?

        Unsure if this is true or not, but I had an MSF instructor in an advanced skills class once tell me that he finds right handers with a natural tendency to f- up right hand turns. As a right hander myself, I’m not an exception.

        • Tim Watson

          Yes I am. I still think that going for hours anti clockwise on a bike probably set me up for not getting it 100% on the road today. Maybe I should just stick to left turns!

          • Randy S

            That’d be a ride report I would read, “No Right Turns.” It even has a double entendre built in.

  • Davidabl2

    Maybe you needs a kick-ass loudspeaker on the bike so the offenders actually hear what you’re screaming…I think I’m going to settle for a air horn. In addition to the”polite horn” that bikes seem to come equipped with.

    Rather than mess around with some more MSF stuff maybe you could do this http://www.streetmasters.info ..and write it up for Rideapart.

    By the way, somebody from Rideapart should also go up to NorCal and do the Alameda County Sheriff’s civilian training course. You get the basic Sheriff’s MotorOfficer training on old beater Kawasaki police bikes. They break a few of your bad habits and you may get a certain insight into the law enforcement mind..$150 for the course plus $50 rental for the 20 yr. old beater..which you can drop as much as you wish:-) And the bike I might as well remind you, Mr. Watson, probably handles better & is faster than your own ride;-) Heh,heh,heh.

  • Kevin

    This is the year I really ride the Pace, in a zenlike state of confident exhilaration.

  • Mykola

    Just resolve to keep the shiny side up; everything else is gravy.
    If your bike doesn’t have a shiny side… well then just wear all your gear and stay out of the hospital.

  • Malandro

    I’m going to ride the Route Napoleon from Grenoble to Cannes. Sick of waiting for friends to get their act together and I’m just going to do it solo.

  • http://ericrshelton.com/ Eric R. Shelton

    My wife got mad at me last night when I finally admitted I want to do the Border-to-Border Iron Butt ride, but after talking it through we came up with some goals and timeframes. Baby steps, but I’ve wanted to do it since ’06 and this year I’m finally going to put in serious work to making it happen.

  • Justin McClintock

    Put stiffer springs in my SV1K that I’ve had sitting on the shelf for a year already. Finally get that FCR39 carb for the DRZSM. And then if there’s any money left over, put new springs in the DRZSM as well.

  • 480272

    Wash the bike

    • chris ordanez

      Pffft… Nothing wrong with aero-dirt.

  • DaveDawsonAlaska

    There’s a Moto Guzzi Le Mans near me that’s been sitting in a shed for a decade that needs a new home…

    • notfishing

      Really? I know this fella that would really like to “Heal and Adopt” a Guzzi. He’s rescued many dogs, some from criminally negligent owners and nursed them back to health.

  • Honyock Undersquare

    I am priveleged to be able to take the occasional multi-day solo trip, but I hope to overcome my tendency to press on to the destination, stopping only for fuel or urgent urination. It’s a bad habit developed from travelling with the Cherished Sweetheart, who despite her formidable intelligence has not discovered the distinction between “stop” and “shop”. This Spring will be a ramble through the Sonoran desert, a landscape that takes its own time revealing its beauties. I need to learn to ride a couple of miles down a side road to nowhere, park, and just be there. Especially if my butt hurts.

  • William Connor

    New panniers, check. Tent for camping, still to be done. Some off asphalt riding, still to be done. Ride every day possible, on track but snow is getting in the way. Take a dual sport training, funding dependent. Travel, often as possible, still to come.

  • FricknSasquatch

    save up for a custom buell I want to start building next winter, parts for the zed, take more roadtrips, and of course more riding!

  • Rowan

    California Superbike School. Trying to get good at this motorcycle thing.

  • KeithB

    ” that will remind me of the stupidity of my youth when we did ridiculous things with motorcycles and heaven knows how, lived to tell the tale.”
    Too true….:)

  • The Blue Rider

    WITH the bike: Commute more, and hopefully in mid-year, I’ll be riding it out of Texas for good (the last thing to be moved when I leave will be my bike, with me on it).
    TO the bike (’09 Street Triple), assuming I somehow have the money: Radial master cylinder installed, get the rebound damping in the right fork leg fixed, replace the cooling hoses, add Leo Vince exhaust, MWR filter, and maybe new velocity stacks, and then get it dyno tuned after all the intake and exhaust changes.

  • Andy

    I’ve finally resolved to get Big White (my ’84 VF1000F) back on the road after a three year hiatus. Have all the parts, just need to install them.

    Tim, be careful what you wish for. I have a garage full of ’80s bikes and would trade them all for something modern and reliable, so I can do what I want to do: ride more.

  • Luke

    I’m going to try to remember that a persons SECOND year of riding is statistically the most dangerous and not think that after a whopping year accident free that I’m a “good rider.”

    I also want to rent a bike on a business trip.

  • Justin Henry

    This year I’m NOT going to buy anymore bikes.

  • Slacker

    I’m gonna shoot for a new year record on mileage (since March I did just over 12,500). I’m also going to try to bring as many people into the fold as is possible! My goal is two more new riders by the end of the year. I also need to finish working on getting certified as an MSF Ridercoach… Maybe a MotoMarathon too… So much to do and only twelve months to do it!