The End of an Era

Today I say goodbye to Matilda, my companion of the last 6 years. When I met her in 2007 she was shiney, new and enthusiastic (but, as I later discovered, some baggage from a previous relationship). She was named Matilda by Fish, because "Matilda is a stupid name for a motorbike". She's served me we through wind and rain...I've toured Cornwall on her, done the run to the Mill a few times, and once had her going at 140mph down the M6Toll, while items fell out of my rucksac. Fun times...

She's also been in the wars. I've dropped her (in front of a policeman, after performing a fairly hurried stop when I saw him diverting traffic, only to fluff the U-Turn in a fairly embarrassing way). She's been side-swiped by a chav in a Civic, and she's had her tank filled with diesel. The British weather has not been kind either, especially with the winter riding, and now she has a growing patina of corrosion on all the exposed metal. However, though all that she has never once broken down. Flat battery, yes, but she rode away from the Civic, did a fairly respectable (and smoky) 70 miles on diesel, and has even done a couple of hundred miles with a nail deeply embedded in the rear wheel. In bike-years she is well past retirement age (with about 45,000 on the clock, or 11 services, so roughtly equivalent to 110,000 car miles), and now doesn't like cold mornings, rattles a bit, and the medical bills are starting to go up.

Matilda really is the the machine learnt to ride a bike on. With her I've gone beyond the "fast as you can" mentality, and instead started to enjoy the journey more. There is very little I would have changed with her, and as she demonstrated this morning so long as the temperature is above freezing she's more than happy to still be the super-responsive, fast accelerating was almost if she knew it was her last day, and wanted to go out on a high.

...but it's time that we parted ways, and at lunchtime today I'll be taking her to Blade Honda in Reading, and part-exchanging her for a new bike. I was always planning on a new motorbike this year, and it was always going to be a Honda, for the simple reason that their engines and build quality are normally (and I realise I'm pretty much jinxing any chance of easy running by saying this) bullet-proof...Matilda is testament to that. A recent promotion at work, and the associated company car allowance, has allowed me to instead use the money I had as a deposit on a new motorbike on Finance. Last week I visited the Honda showrooms, sat on a few bikes, and then arranged for a test-ride on a VFR800.

It was very weird riding a bike other than Matilda (simple things like clutch position, and the differences in handling between a faired and unfaired bike), but once I had adjusted a bit the VFR was a great ride. A bit of negotiation later, and Matildas last day was arranged. I'll miss her, shes been a great bike, and has never let me down, even when I've failed to clean her, shown the chain oil about once a month at best, and ridden her in some of the worst conditions the UK has to offer. The new bike will have some challenge living upto her legacy...


How is the handling on the new bike compare to Matilda? How does faring change it?

Laters Matilda, you were a good bike.

Now we need a name for the new one. Let the suggestions begin!

brainwipe's picture

I think a lot of the fairing is visual/mental. With a naked bike like Matilda your field of view is pretty much just the handlebars and front wheel, and these are always pointing where you are going. The wing mirrors attach to the handlebars, and again change relative position as you steer...this is more noticeable at low you go faster counter-steer comes in, and body weight has more to do with changes of trajectory than the handlebars and front wheel.

With the fairing, visually there is a disconnect between the trajectory, and where the majority of the bike in sight is pointing. The bike feels a lot larger, when it isn't's just you are more aware of it. The wing mirrors are on the fairing, so do not change position when you turn the handlebars (consider at junctions, when stationary I could before turn the handlebars to affect my rear view)....the wing mirrors are much better, with a far greater field of view...sometimes I can't even see my elbows!

At speed (as I discovered on the test drive) the fairing removes a lot of the feeling of velocity, and the bike accelerates from about 70-80mph much easier....the added torque of the engine also means that it gets to 40-50mph much quicker (and I'll need to adjust to that quickly, or pick up a lot of camera tickets)....add in the VTEC power jump at 6800rpm and its The clutch bite point is a lot better on this one, and I had not problems getting back into town. The brakes are more effective than Matilda too, so I was pulling up early...simple habit adjustments more than anything.

babychaos's picture


fish's picture

We have a winner!

Nice one, Fish.

brainwipe's picture

(Let's face it, it's a fucking tradition now)

brainwipe's picture

Ooo, very nice mate. I was going to suggest Bruce as a suitably inappropriate name, but Cordelia gets my vote :D

byrn's picture

I keep thinking the new name is chlamydia.

brainwipe's picture

She is still STD's.

As part of the investment in a "big" motorbike I'm also just about to enroll in the IAM Advanced Rider Programme with TVAM. If I can pass the course (which typically takes 6 months - 3 years, depending on ability) then not only is my insurance reduced, but it also means I can then start training to be a motorcycle marshal for cycle and triathlon races with NEG GB. These are the guys who looked after us on JOGLE, and also marshal a lot of local and national races. It seems a good way of combining my hobbies, and also supporting my local tri-club in a useful manner.

babychaos's picture

I've just bought a new motorbike jacket, however the website has a rather fucked up video as it's splash screen...

Furygan Motorcycle Gear

Woman in Furygan gear and inappropriate motorcycle footwear crashes bike, wakes up in immaculate gear lying in the middle of the straight road with absolutely fuck-all to hit, cries over bike before shooting it, and walking off grinning, sniffing said jacket.

Take-home statement;
Never let a woman wearing Furygan near your bike...she can't ride it for shit. Furygan jackets are possibly impregnated with hallucinogens.

babychaos's picture

What the fuck was she doing riding the bike in fucking high heels? Never let a fucking stupid woman near your bike.

brainwipe's picture

Warning Mad Women carry 1911's and shoot bikes.

Dwain's picture