An Upside to Everything

Last weekend, me and some friends were at mini track-day with our motorcycles. I ended up in a faster group than them, so I was trying to push myself and the bike a bit. While coming out of a lap, just before the pit entry, my bike seized up and stalled, uh-oh. I immediately rolled off the track to inspect what had happened.

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Turns out the chain lock had opened, which made the chain bunch up around the sprocket and dig into the frame, stopping the engine instantly. I got the chain out and back together after an hour, the damage around the engine case did not seem so bad. When going home however, my bike had a loud rattle in second gear. That was extremely bad news and almost certainly meant a tooth had broken off from second gear…

I now faced a big dilemma:

  • Fix the bike, myself, not very expensive, but due to BMW design choices a very lengthy and tough job, which would take me 2-3 weeks. I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to do that, and I was pretty sure I did not have the time.
  • Get a cheap replacement bike for now and hope it’s any good.
  • Try to find some ultimate deal for a bike that’s proper upgrade from this one.

I compared numbers, thought it over, and after finding a bike that matched option 3’s criteria pretty well, I decided to go for it. On top of that it came with a bunch of  spare parts me and a friend could use.
That bike was in Göteborg though, about 500km from Stockholm. So I made it into a roadtrip to visit my sister (again) in one go.

The drive was about 5 hours, and I’d spend 2 nights there, taking the bike back Thursday morning. We took advantage of the van I borrowed from my friend and visited some of the islands of the coast we hadn’t been to before. Save for a parking ticket due to unclear signage, it was pretty fun and the motorcycle seller was a great guy; he used to race in rallies but just didn’t have the time for it anymore.

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With the bike loaded up, I headed back. I wasn’t in a rush, so when I saw signs towards the Husqvarna factory museum (a well known Swedish brand of motorcycles among other things), I thought “Why not?” and headed for it.

I think it was worth the small detour and 60 crowns entry price, I liked seeing how many different things the company had created in over 300 years: weapons, home appliances, motorcycles and forestry tools are or have been their areas. Even the chainsaws and trimmers were interesting to me since I’d fixed and worked on both of those when in Norway.

On the way there I had spotted a castle ruin along the highway which I didn’t want to miss on the way back.

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The ruin was called Brahehus and was a 17th century manor that had burnt down and been abandoned for ages, until the highway was built along it a few decades ago. Now it’s the most visited ruin in Sweden as they built a gas station and restaurant nearby. Not as interesting as the usual abandoned place I like to visit, but better than a regular boring motorway service station. The view and the castle make for an interesting backdrop!

So what’s the deal with this motorcycle, why did I drop my beloved BMW which I was never going to sell?

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For one, it’s a KTM 690, a bike of which I had a similar version about 3 years ago when I lived in the UK. I had wanted one in Sweden when I moved here, even could have kept the UK bike, but decided not to due to obscenely high insurance costs in Sweden. Instead I opted for the similar, but maybe just-not-as-great BMW X Moto which had insurance at a quarter of the price. Since I’ll be moving from Sweden soon, that didn’t provide such an obstacle this time around for the new bike.

On top of that, this bike has most of the (very expensive) equipment I wanted to add to my BMW eventually. For the price the seller was asking, it made more sense to go with this one instead. It has a bigger tank, a rally fairing, more power and a more comfortable seat, all welcome additions.

I had to make some changes to it since the setup was a bit extreme for me, the bike was almost exclusively meant for riding when standing up and I do tend to sit down a bit more than the previous owner. I also didn’t need the rally-roadbook computer and holder that were mounted on it. The cockpit was almost a spaceship with all the additional buttons and controls mounted!

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Finally the sidestand was too long for my liking, the bike stood very upright and it felt like an accident waiting to happen (me dropping the bike). I cut 3 cm out from between, and welded the bottom part back together. Took me a whole day to get everything sorted out, I was welding at midnight to get the bike good to go for a trip the next day.

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So all in all despite unfortunately putting my original motorcycle out of action, I now have a much nicer, more functional motorcycle while not being too much out of pocket. There’s an upside to every downside I guess!

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