Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Vexing Gremlins

There were two reasons I didn't go ahead and get the Ducati I wanted three years ago.

The first reason was the maintenance costs. $70 oil changes? Granted, I'd take care of that myself, but if an oil change is $70, how much is the bi-monthly major service? I understand those costs have been significantly reduced, but I'm going to wait a while longer to see what owners of the new, cheap maintenance Ducatis have to say before I commit to keeping an Italian exotic alive.

The second reason is Ducati motorcycles kind of have a reputation for breaking down or bursting into flames while parked in the garage overnight. I ride every day, and dealing with breakdowns is not my idea of a good time. I understand that motorcycles are not appliances. I also understand most people use them as toys, so performance takes precedence over reliability during the design process. All the same, I'd rather have a bike known for running and running and running, considering my intended use.

So when that glorious day arrived, and I bought my new motorcycle, it was a Triumph instead of a Ducati. After all, every indication pointed towards modern Triumph motorcycles being bullet-proof. Word on the street was that quality control took precedence over everything else, and the new bikes ran every day without a hitch.

And that's been, mostly, my experience. Until last night. When the Triumph broke down while parked in the garage.

This morning I hauled the Speed Four out of the garage, locked up the garage, got my gear on, put the key in, turned it on and... nothing. The lights came on. The display lit up but did not actually display anything.

I've experienced this glitch after rain before, so I just turned the ignition off and flipped the kill switch a bunch of times. Previously, this eliminated the problem and I was on my way five seconds later.

But this morning, it didn't work. Instead of saying "excuse me, guv'nor" and starting right up, the damned thing persisted in it's refusal to run.

This is most annoying. Especially because a British bike - you know, from the land of rain and damp - shouldn't stop running just because it got a little wet. How on Earth am I supposed to trust this machine in the rainy climes of Oregon if it can't handle an occasional shower in the desert?

The good news for today is that I was able to ride Lady Luck's Vespa in to work. Tonight, I'm going to have to deal with the heat in the garage as I try to get my infernal machine running again.