Fettle the devil you know – motorcycle ownership just gets better

Those who know me if not intimately then at least well enough to keep their distance will be aware that given half a chance I will toss a day or three (and two weeks’ wages) on the pyre of executing cosmetic automotive improvements, or in other words fettling my cars.

Absolutely none of these vehicles has been anywhere near showroom condition, which ought to underline quite how distracted I can become when handed a bottle of trim gel, a hairdryer (for removing unwanted stickers) or a clay bar and detailing spray. In these circumstances my hands are the equivalent of the TARDIS for a faded window seal or a battle-scarred front spoiler, and such accomplishments deliver a hit no drug can rival (you’ll have to trust me on that).

The recent introduction of not just a Suzuki SV650S motorcycle but also a 22-year-old VW Corrado 16V to the family has upset the normal rhythm of my fettling regime, which for a couple of years until last December primarily involved keeping my Saab 9-3 Viggen clean but not so clean that the small patches of tinworm on the rear arches and bootlid would cause sections of the bodywork to break away from the mothership.

No eye-rolling highs there, then. For those I had to turn to cleaning her nibs’ feisty VW Lupo GTI, a fine example whose nick belies its 16 years but which, sadly, isn’t mine. There’s only so much elbow grease you can throw at somebody else’s toy, and I found myself unfulfilled.

Enter the SV and the Corrado. Being a more substantial not to mention older beast with the complex history any vehicle of its age has inevitably accrued, the latter requires the greatest attention. And one day soon I shall bore you witless about that.

Not today. What I want to celebrate is the discovery of yet another gratifying aspect of motorcycle ownership which I hadn’t been prepared for: ease and speed of fettling.

To keep the machine looking its best, on a weekly basis I need do little more than hose it down and give it a wash – the two-bucket method (email me for instructions) using regular car shampoo – before rinsing it and drying the most visible bits with a shammy. Ten minutes and it’s done. The wheels, which are nothing special, get a good wipe with WD40 now and then – a three-minute job. In periods of prolonged bad weather I wash the bike more often and apply ACF-50 regularly during the colder months, but that’s it.

In fact the longest I’ve spent titivating the SV was last weekend, when I borrowed my good lady’s hairdryer (as you can see I have no need for such an apparatus) and finally removed from the frame the original stickers advising me not to wash the bike using turps, to inflate the tyres to the correct pressure and so on. It looks better dirty now than it did than when it was clean beforehand.

Cleaning the SV is a buzz, then, though not half as efficient at ridding the mind of cerebral knots as riding the machine. This malarkey just gets better and better.

Reproduced with permission of Herald & Times Group.