I expected to have to do some daily maintenance on the bikes as they are really a new bike from the 1970s and, like most old bikes I've had, they require a little tinkering (at least the Symbas have a CDI ignition so i don't have to mess with points!). I enjoy working on bikes, and it's kind of nice to get up every morning and spend a little quality time with them. I also like giving every part of the bike a visual inspection daily in order to keep an eye on the tire wear and brake wear, and to look at the underside of the bikes for anything untoward. (I also "ring" the spokes every morning so I am at a loss as to how a spoke broke without me knowing that it was in danger) Plus since I changed the chains, my morning routine is down to about 10 minutes.
I also like the bikes because they need a little "love" occasionally. I started riding on a series of modern Kawasakis, first an EX500, then a Zephyr 750, followed by a Concours. I put 84K on the Concours before Bambi and I had a coming together one night, and all I ever did with the bike was change oil and watch someone else change the tires. I just didn't ever really care about the bikes, they were reliable transportation to take me where I wanted to go. Then I bought a new 1997 Guzzi 1100 Sport, and what a frustrating bike that was. The EPA-mandated jetting was unrideable as delivered, the fasteners grew a beard faster than I did, things just vibrated loose, and I loved it. The Guzzi importer was down the road in Lillington at the time, and Shelby helped me get it better (it was never really "right"
). I spent hours working on that bike, and every time I rode it I felt a connection to it that I didn't feel to my Kwaks. On the right road, that bike was a joy and I helped make it that way. It is one of very few of the 15 bikes or so I have owned that I still miss. At about the same time as the Guzzi, I switched from racing a Honda CB-1 (the 400cc, 4 cylinder from 1989) to reverse cylinder TZ-250s. With the Honda you just showed up for the weekend, check the pressures and oil, put in some gas, and thumbed the starter button. And I never missed it after I sold it, it was a thing. My TZs, however, had names and personalities, and I loved wrenching on them at the track and during the week. Rings every two weekends, pistons every four, and a new crank every year. I knew those bikes inside and out and still get wistful when I hear a two-stroke wailing down the road. As for the Symbas, I like these bikes - they are scrappy little fighters, doing what we ask with just a few teething problems so far.
They also won't ever be as hands-off as a modern bike like a DR or my previous Wee. If I had wanted reliable bike that I just had to hit the starter button on every morning it would have been the choice for me. But my worry about the Wee was that they don't have them outside the first world. If something big went wrong, there would be no parts available (look at the stories of people waiting for many weeks to get final drives for a certain other brand
) and no one who could work on it. I have the shop manual for our bikes on the laptop, and if it's beyond my skill there are mechanics all over the parts of the world that we are visiting who know these bikes. No FI, no ABS, no error codes, just simple and easy.
That said, I was surprised by the fuel issue on Re's bike, but if it happens again, I can strip the fuel system on the side of the road with hand tools. Hell, there is even a cut-out in the leg shields so you can remove the spark plug without removing any bodywork (if I need to pump gas out of the cylinder). And as for my spoke, I am adding a few to my spares kit before we leave the US (Thanks to Micheal the parts guy at Alliance Powersports, the new SYM importer) and I'll just try to keep a closer eye on them. The bikes both have about 4800 miles on them now and I am reasonably satisfied with their service so far.
Finally, the bikes are what makes this trip what it is. If we took different bikes it wouldn't be this trip. I hope we won't have any major problems with the bikes, but won't mind to much if we do. It's all part of the trip. Thanks for your comments, it helped remind me why we chose these bikes. I'm glad you are enjoying our trip so far, hopefully it continues to be as much fun!