Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Long-Overdue Repair

Well, Pancho's clutch finally gave out. It began with a gradually worsening sticky-slippy feeling but then it deteriorated until it finally became difficult -- nearly impossible -- to shift gears in the conventional manner. I was still able to speed-shift once I was moving along at a brisk pace, but getting started from a standstill required accelerating slowly and cautiously . . . totally unacceptable in real-world traffic situations.

The ride to the dealership in DeLand was, to put it succinctly, terrifying. (The greatest obstacle was the steep driveway ramp; if I didn't carry enough momentum through the 90-degree turn to carry me up the incline, I would get stuck since I could not roll on the throttle rapidly. But I made it.) Once that challenge had been overcome, however, the next grim specter to confront was the looming price tag. Doing a complete clutch rebuild was going to cost so much that I seriously considered buying a new bike. Then again, I had already invested a great deal of time and money in getting the Suzuki modified and configured just exactly the way I liked it, so I did not relish the idea of starting that whole process all over again. Anyway, nearly ten years and more than 126,000 miles isn't bad for the factory-original clutch, so I guess it's not such a bad deal.

By the time they were done, I had a new clutch, a new master clutch cylinder, a new slave clutch cylinder and a new clutch fluid line -- all of which look oddly clean and shiny compared to the weather-worn, battle-scarred rest of the bike. Now I'm hoping this fix means I can hang on to Pancho at least into 2012. I know a replacement is ultimately inevitable, but I'm hoping to put that off as long as possible -- maybe even long enough to collect all 48 states.

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