I have put the bike through some really punishing stuff over the last few weeks. Lots of muck and a couple of hundred miles over very rough and rocky roads. I have riden through tropical jungle areas, through beautiful alpine environments of around 2500m altitude right up to cold inhospitable mountains top of 3,300m.
Whilst on these roads I have been climbing, a lot obviously, and in first gear for most of it.
As everything goes up, so too it must come down, so I have also been going down hills a lot and most of it on loose stone surfaces and using the breaks, a lot. Its been pretty punishing on Burrito.
I’ve had time to develop my hill climbing techniques recently. First an assessment is made whether momentum is required, and hence, the need to approach the hill at speed. That not been required, I just slow down to first gear speed ( as inevitably I always end up in first gear anyway, plus fishing about for if while bouncing about can be difficult) and then I just climb, slowly, but surely, forever upwards. I usually stand up and lean forward to take the weight off the rear. I found this the best, as approaching going fast and hitting rocks and bouncing from once side of the road to the next is a tad dangerous and does not get you up any quicker really. My back box is now to bent slightly downwards due to the rear end bouncing about so much when climbing over rough surfaces.
In the really high altitudes plus 2000 meters the bike was not operating as good as it should have been, I had put this down to altitute and possibly the air filter again because I had done alot of miles on dirt roads. But the issue persisted back down at 1500m. So I celaned the carburetor and found alot of residue in the float bowl. Once I cleaned it out it worked fine again. I’m just a little disappointed I didnt clean it while I was climbing to see how it would cope at altitude. Well the good thing is I suppose, it still manged to climbed the mountains even though there was dirt in the carb!
Although I did have to push the bike up a couple of sections due to it running out of puff or meeting someone and having to stop.
At the moment there is a slight wobble in the front wheel due to the bushes being knackered, I hope to sort that soon.
But despite everything being tested to limit, the engine, the clutch, the brakes, the luggage everything is holding up really well.
In my time exploring the back roads in Guatemala I dropped the bike twice. Mainly due to going downhill very slowly on loose rock and stone. The white fairing has been great protection the break levers, indicator and to a certain extent the mirrors. Though they have had a rough time of it to.
I bent up a foot peg and lost a rubber but replaced it in Barillas Honda. Where I also treated El Burro to some new oil.
Both my mirrors snapped off within a couple of days of each other recently. I think I was bending them rather than tightening them when they would rattle loose. I spent the day looking for someone who could re-thread the bar so I could just use the old ones, avoiding everyone who wanted to sell me new mirrors or just weld them to the bike.
Eventually I found a guy called Freddy at his workshop near the market in Solola.
I find it hard to trust anyone who does any work on my bike and actually I usually end up doing most of it myself while the mechanic looks on frustration and only I only allow him do what I dont know how to do, or if I’m confident its an easy job.
So when Freddy took out a vernier callipers and then a thread gauge I knew I was in safe hands. He must have owned the only calipers in Central America I reckon. Freddy was a serious man, and a man of few words when it came to the work, he wasn’t interested in me babbling small talk to him while he sized up the job in hand.
I basically allowed him to do what ever he wanted. He an air about him that he knew what he was doing, plus he had a calipers! Never question a man who measures stuff to a thousand of a millimeter! Freddy was engineer, not a handy man. He was a Taller de Torno, which I believe is lathe turner. He cut off the heads of some bolts he had and welded them to the mirror stem and ground them down. It ended up being a real neat job and I was very happy to keep the same mirrors.
When I offered him money despite spending an hour and half of his time fixing and mounting both mirrors, he refused to take any money from me. He said it was a gift. I was very surprised, as this was his business for god sake and I was what would be considered a gringo with a wallet.
He only asked could he write something on my back box . I said “Sure”. He then took out a marker pen and with his rough oil stained hands he very skilfully sketched out Lago Atitlán and the volcanoes. Freddy too it seemed was and artist and had some hidden talents. Never judge a book by its cover! a very nice gent. Thanks Freddy!! Mucho gusto amigo.
So in all the bike is doing real good its just maintenance issues and wear and tear I am dealing with. The breaks will probably need changing soon though and probably some new tyres when I get to Colombia.
I still have the tyres that Timoty Ford’s gave me in Orange County California, 6000 miles ago!
In total the bike and I have covered 13,332 miles (or 22,331 klms) since leaving Alaska in September 2011.
Honestly I’ am so proud of this bike. Everyone who has been following this trip from the start knows well that this bike goes EVERYWHERE and I have brought it EVERYWHERE, never seeing the advice as “its a bad road” as valid reason for not going somewhere. In fact I actively seek out these roads. I have brought it on all surfaces in all sorts of conditions and it has been put through its paces and it just keeps going! and don’t forget either, it is 25 years old this year!!
What a bike, the Honda Cub simply is the best motorcycle ever built.