Moto Guzzi National Owners Club
Moto Guzzi National Owners Club
Moto Guzzi National Owners Club
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The Mad Scientist - Getting Over the Hump

I just rode a new-to-me Daytona RS from Dallas, Texas, to Los Angeles to the tune of 1500 miles. Since it's a late model machine, nothing broke...not until I was 300 miles from home, alone, and in the middle of the Mojave Desert, that is. One of the worst feelings that I've had on a bike for a long time occurred as my new Daytona sputtered and died on the freeway as I was blasting along at 90 MPH. It couldn't have happened in a worse place, either. I was on Interstate 10 with 40 miles of desert in either direction, and with 40,000 lb trucks whizzing by at 70 MPH only 10 feet away from where I stopped. In a situation like that, frustration doesn't get you any closer to civilization or a solution to your problem. In many such cases, frustration is as much an obstacle to your continued forward progress as an actual mechanical fault. Situations like this are a true test of your mechanical skills.

Sometimes I think that within 5 minutes of touching any machine it will start leaking oil or run poorly. I know that I'm not the only one who has felt cursed mechanically. Things break. People get frustrated. Bikes get put in the corner of the garage for years at a time. While everyone has their limits as a mechanic, one needs to realize that only thing keeping a non-operational motorcycle from running is the mechanic's abilities. Any problem on a motorcycle always has a solution.

The basis for all mechanical motorcycle aptitude can be expressed in three simple letters - RTM (Read the Manual). The Moto Guzzi shop manuals are chock full of information that you need as a basis for your wrenching. The Haynes T/T3/LeMans manual is a great resource for any roundfin Guzzi owners, as is the factory G5/SP1000 manual. The out-of-print Clymer Eldorado/Ambassador/V700 manual and the factory shop manual are the basis for all loopframed Guzzi wrenching. Check with your dealer to see what's currently available. Also, check for copies of out-of print manuals. The Guzzi parts books are also very good for picking and cross-referencing part numbers and looking at assembly drawings. Joe Eish had copies of the parts books for sale the last that I checked. Also, the shop manual companion Guzziology and technical websites such as are great secondary resources for information that the manuals don't cover.

Manuals only get you so far, though. If I were traveling on a motorcycle across a third world country, I'd want Mark Etheridge of Moto Guzzi Classics along in case anything broke. Mark simply has a gift for understanding mechanical things. Even so, Mark occasionally has bike problems that stump even him. At this point, Mark's standard procedure is to call Guzzi guru BJ Schwartz of Hesperia, California for his opinion. Remember - there's always someone with more experience than you - find out who that person is, and keep their phone number handy! Sometimes just talking with other Guzzi folks will get you thinking about the problem in a new way. That's one reason why tools such as Internet mailing lists and discussion boards are so valuable. Even if someone doesn't provide you with any more insight into your problem, they can at least provide you with another perspective, which will keep your brainstorming process moving along.

Sometimes it helps to step away from the problem for awhile - a day's time off from wrenching can often be just the thing to provide you with perspective on your problem. That doesn't help you if you're on the side of the road somewhere, but knowing when to take a short break and "regroup" your thinking is a mark of a good mechanic. The Mechanic's Theory of Relativity states that if you're trying to turn a hard-to-get-to bolt at the end of a day, it will take you two hours. If you try to turn the same bolt the next morning, it will only take you an hour. Know when to call it a day.

So there you have it- got a problem that you can't fix? 1. RTM. 2. Discuss it 3. Give it a rest. All motorcycle running problems have at least one solution. It's up to you to find and implement that solution. By the way, my Daytona stopped running because a snap ring had popped off on the throttle body linkages, effectively transforming the Daytona into the Supermono that Mandello del Lario never produced. I guess the Daytona doesn't run on 1 cylinder as well as my old LeMans IV does...Luckily, it only took a few minutes on the side of the road to diagnose and fix it with a piece of wire and a zip tie.

Every failure on your bike is a chance to learn how one of its subsystems works. Take advantage of each chance to better learn your machine and you will eventually reach the mechanical nirvana of an enlightened mechanic. Then YOU will become the guru that riders call when their bike doesn't run.

Guzzi Power.

Ed Milich