Day 2 III: It Fits

After the oohing and aahing, Day 2 got down to the work of prepping the bike for a 600-mile run up to Vancouver Island and back. Day 2 was Tuesday, June 2, and the idea was to have the bike back in Seattle by noon Friday, , 600 miles older and wiser and ready for the crucial first servicing. Crucial because that 600-mile shakedown would shape some of the engine’s metallurgical personality traits — e.g., the crucial fitting of piston to rings to chamber — while dirtying its first oil-fill with minute metal shavings, disarranging the valve clearances and generally breaking in anything that ought to be broken. As for things that ought not to break, the hope was that the shakedown would reveal any and all problems before the bike and I headed east over the Cascades towards Vermont.

Hoffa copes.

From noon to about 6, I unpacked, packed and tweaked in the showroom, sometimes with help from Moto International proprietor Dave, Doug the parts wizard or head tech Jason, but mostly with the advice and encouragement of Hoffa, the shop dog. He’s a pit bull, rescued from a drug dealer’s cruelty by a fellow who drove the pup around in the truck of his car trying to find a kind owner; Dave, the soul of kindness, is also pretty quick with a pun or a wry cultural reference, and a dog brought to him in a trunk could only be dubbed “Hoffa.” This Hoffa’s a threat to the pit-bull gangsta mystique. The only thing he’s ferocious about is barking his right to a taste of any sandwich unwrapped in the shop. He shared his floor space with me, and sometimes even let me use his dog bed for a kneeler.

Pics in an album on Facebook (look for Day 2) suggest the afternoon’s quandary: how was all that stuff in my two dry bags, plus all the gear I’d had shipped to Moto International — some twenty boxes, large and small — going to fit on the bike? Heads were shaking as Moto folk passed through the showroom, eyeing the bikes and stacked boxes. No way.

But the biggest boxes held boxes: two 40-liter Hepco & Becker side cases, or panniers, to hang on a custom H&B chrome rack, one to either side of the rear wheel, and a 46-liter Kappa case to perch on top of that rack, above the rear fender. One hundred and twenty-six liters of hard-case carrying capacity right there, and I’d brought my old MotoPak tank bag, good for another 18 liters, plus a plan to carry a dry bag on the seat behind me, stuffed with sleeping bag (in the other dry bag), tent and any other awkwardly-shaped camping gear.

Some of what was in the boxes belonged on the bike itself. The tweaking started with electrics. Removing the seat and right side panel to access the bike’s battery, I wired in a bullet-shaped, chrome Kuryakn 12-volt charging port and mounted it on the handlebar. The battery terminals also embraced a lead for my TourMaster Synergy 2.0 heated jacket, and another lead for battery charges and jump starts.

And yes, I was kinda thrilled by this first session of proprietary wrenching. Though I’ve worked on all my bikes, I mostly stuck to maintenance. I lusted after all kinds of farkles, from extra lighting to upgraded upholstery, but I never invested, never quite feeling that this bike or that bike was the keeper. And here I was, snipping and splicing and farkling up a Moto Guzzi I’d just met…

Aftermarket manufacturers like Hepco & Becker make products to fit many, many bikes, and bike owners know that “fit” is often a relative term. I noticed that the chrome luggage rack was actually touching the rear brake light and one of the turn signals. Dave and I scratched heads for a bit, got out more wrenches, and managed to realign the rack so it wouldn’t smash a light when the bike stumbled into its first pothole.

All this modding was highly satisfying, as were the hours of sorting and sizing gear, from the Unifun power bank (a rugged-case, waterproof battery capable of recharging phones and even helping jump a bike) to the surplus French Foreign Legion sleeping bag. But the afternoon’s great moment came when I grunted the last hard case shut and there was no more gear to be seen: just a handsome bike, outfitted for touring with hard cases, tank bag and camping dry bag.

Two pairs of gloves, rain overgloves, rain boot covers, old BMW rain suit, German Army surplus orange safety vest, Swiss Army wool neck warmer, waterproof fleece neck warmer, watch cap, baseball cap, sunscreen, lock knife and multi-tool, 12v to USB adapters and cords, batteries, Canon camera, tripod, phone-to-tripod adapter, Austrian Army zip-neck thermal shirt, Bergolene thermal top and pants, four wick-dry shirts, one pair of jeans, requisite underwear and socks, meds, toiletries, MSR Pocket Rocket backpacking stove, cookware, utensils, two-cup coffee percolator, the aforementioned Foreign Legion sleeping bag, Therm-A-Rest NeoAir sleeping pad, Trek tent, heavy-duty clear plastic ground cloth borrowed from one just-graduated-from-law-school daughter, bandannas, journals, the antique pocket Bible we’d found on Cheever Place in Brooklyn while walking to another daughter’s law-school graduation, flip-flops, Bucket Boss tool roll and no-name tool pouch stuffed with essential wrenches, drivers, lubricants and fasteners, sunglasses, first-aid kit, two cans of Brisling sardines, rope, bungee rope, clothespins, mesh laundry bag, quick-dry microfiber towel, bathing suit, Dell laptop computer in more-or-less-waterproof Alchemy Goods bag made from old bicycle tires, Samsung Galaxy S3 Android phone, tire pressure gauge, Sonic Defender earplugs, three pairs of reading glasses… all out of sight.

The rest — Quiet Ride helmet, armored Joe Rocket jacket and Firstgear overpants, the fifth shirt and the other pair of pants, British Army surplus assault boots — I was wearing.

We were ready. All the planning and buying and shipping and mounting and stowing and wrenching was over. It was time to go.

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