Food coloring

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mikenixon
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Food coloring

#1

Post by mikenixon »

My customer has a collection of the prettiest 50-year old Honda fours you are likely ever to see. They're gorgeous. Perfect in every cosmetic detail. Absolutely so. Lavishly adorned (Honda themselves never painted so beautifully!), richly powdercoated, new chrome, perfectly polished to the nth degree. Rare NOS parts freed from their dusty wrappers to glint blindingly in the sun like time travelers from another epoch. Every part itself a gem. There is an aurora surrounding these machines. So perfect, their visual quality so dreamlike. The bikes from every angle a masterpiece. Well deserving of the spotless, ordered, epoxy-coated floor of its owner's garage.

Gary has acquired these bikes one at a time from legitimate, well-known restorers. But he is reluctant to let me service them. He has learned that bringing the bikes to me for even small adjustments always costs him major money. Because paradoxically, all that shine, all that soul-stirring beauty, inevitably hides potentially shocking horror. Right now it's a CB750K3 that has always run on three and a half cylinders because, it is revealed today, a carburetor jet is broken off inside one of the carburetors. These carbs also have three different float valves, the jet needles set at different heights, Chinese chewing gum gaskets, and float levels so incorrect, so far off, that fuel is puddling in the carburetor's bores and producing grossly fouled plugs. Sigh. Sadly, par for the course for his bikes. Two years ago Gary brought me a freshly-rebuilt, sparkling, immaculate, candy-coated, huggable jewel of a CB350F with even worse carbs and oil pouring out the exhaust like water from a faucet due to badly-machined engine parts. He's beginning to expect these things. 1

Easter eggs. Gorgeous on the outside, rotten on the inside. In more than forty-six years of making a living servicing motorcycles I have made this observation: The prettiest bikes, the ones with the newest paint jobs, the deepest powdercoating, most expensive and rare OEM parts, polishing, fettling, and tons of bling, often-- verging on always-- are guaranteed to have a decidedly above-average number of mechanical oversights, problems, plain and painful evidences of sometimes astonishingly poor, unqualified-- yes, hack-- work. It is so common as to be virtually a sure thing. Like Pavlov's dogs I (mentally) twitch whenever one of these museum-quality machines comes into view. What terrible secrets does this one harbor, I wonder. 2

What's the deal? Call it human nature. We gravitate to appearance. The best-looking political candidate, the most attractive mate, the most perfect-looking, artificially-preserved packaged food. Doritos commercials. Bud Light. Dark cathedral music as backgrounds in dramatic films. We as a species routinely abdicate our innate intelligence, we chuck our common sense, for sparkle, for allure, for titillating. Do our brains never mature beyond 5 years old?

The immaterial (and immature, immoral?) polish of porting. The lavish prettying up of the outside of the carburetor at the cost of the quality inside. "High performance" parts and worn-out drive chains. The many thousands of dollars of a bike's bling, calculated to draw admiring comment, no matter how functional-- or otherwise. All this pizzaz means the rest of the bike just has to be equally fantastic, right? Isn't that the way we think? Surely it is. It is observable every minute of every day.

Food developers add coloring for appearances sake. Have for forever. The truth is, nature's cornucopia just does not run very much to bright, vibrant colors, preferring instead muted tones and pastels. But muted doesn't sell, and appearance, no matter how false, does. From the 1800s when chalk was added to milk, this ploy has been used on we consumers for so long there is no going back. We wouldn't stand for it. Cheese, butter, catsup, fruit juices, frozen foods, snacks-- even fresh fruit and veggies. They all get the paintup job. And what, like my friend's K3, might be hiding under all that! More to the point, do we no longer have eyes-- or even desire-- for the real? 3

1 My customer has a stable of these apparently meticulously but actually poorly restored timepieces.

2 Call it painting with a wide brush, but I know many of them and I'm convinced restorers are incapable of putting sufficient energy and skill into the heart of the bike, making it equal to the shine; but instead camp out in the asthetic, the external. With the result that the engines and running gear of these projects inevitably gravely disappoint.

3 We've been conditioned. Maybe it's media, maybe something else. But the human psyche is waiting, longing, asking to be tricked, to be bamboozled by eye candy. To judge as quality, as worthy, as true, the most shallow and ethereal of realities. It's embedded in us.
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Re: Food coloring

#2

Post by Sagebrush »

I once read somewhere, don't ask where because I've slept since then, that we as a species, to use your phrase, evolved the inordinate attraction to bling because early in our development we focused on the bright patches in the forest for food. The shiny bright red apples, raspberries and strawberries. The perfectly ripe yellow pears and bananas as well as the purple grapes glistening with the morning dew. We can't help it, its bred into us. Please more triple plated chrome and deep lustrous paint jobs so perfect you think you can fall inside it. Its beyond our control, we can't help it.
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Re: Food coloring

#3

Post by Track T 2411 »

As always, a nice read, Mike. I have to say that none of my bikes could be called 'pristine' by any stretch, lol. But they all get regularly maintained, and any of them could tour the US safely and efficiently. They even get a wash here and there...

I browse a lot of 'custom' bikes (of all makes) and often wonder just how rideable they really are. I never really thought the restoration side would have similar issues. But, as you say, it's often about the 'bling'...
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Re: Food coloring

#4

Post by Track T 2411 »

And for what it's worth, I don't ever want to own a vehicle that I'm afraid to drive or ride!
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Re: Food coloring

#5

Post by 5speed »

darn..I thought this was going to be a recipe for cake.. :mrgreen:
for the record..I don't like chrome..hate washing my vehicles but as mentioned above, I like to think I maintain them mechanically..
I won't win best of show but I won't arrive and leave on a trailer..
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Re: Food coloring

#6

Post by CYBORG »

5speed wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 10:24 am darn..I thought this was going to be a recipe for cake.. :mrgreen:
for the record..I don't like chrome..hate washing my vehicles but as mentioned above, I like to think I maintain them mechanically..
I won't win best of show but I won't arrive and leave on a trailer..
I agree with everything above. Function over form .......Well, maybe a little form ;)
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Re: Food coloring

#7

Post by desertrefugee »

Yep. Loved it, Mike. Loved it. “Especially the huggable 350F! “ :-D

Form over function. Perception over purpose. Machismo over maintenance.

But at the end of your engaging narrative, two words were brought to mind. And at the risk of oversimplifying and/or potentially insulting some of the MBS folks among us, those two words are…

Harley Davidson
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Re: Food coloring

#8

Post by 5speed »

CYBORG wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 11:08 am
5speed wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 10:24 am darn..I thought this was going to be a recipe for cake.. :mrgreen:
for the record..I don't like chrome..hate washing my vehicles but as mentioned above, I like to think I maintain them mechanically..
I won't win best of show but I won't arrive and leave on a trailer..
I agree with everything above. Function over form .......Well, maybe a little form ;)
I clean the bugs off the windshield..does that count? :mrgreen:
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Re: Food coloring

#9

Post by CYBORG »

5speed wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 12:50 pm
CYBORG wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 11:08 am
5speed wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 10:24 am darn..I thought this was going to be a recipe for cake.. :mrgreen:
for the record..I don't like chrome..hate washing my vehicles but as mentioned above, I like to think I maintain them mechanically..
I won't win best of show but I won't arrive and leave on a trailer..
I agree with everything above. Function over form .......Well, maybe a little form ;)
I clean the bugs off the windshield..does that count? :mrgreen:
Right there with you lolol lolol lolol
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Re: Food coloring

#10

Post by Whiskerfish »

Very apt description of the 1800 I purchased last year. 11 years old and better looking than it was on the showroom floor. Also had a 11 year old Air filter, 11 year old clutch fluid, 11 year old Brake fluid, etc etc etc......
"Agreement is not a requirement for Respect" CDR Michael Smith USN (Ret) 2017
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and a whole garage full of possibilities!!

Psst. oh and by the way CHANGE YOUR BELTS!!!!
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Re: Food coloring

#11

Post by mikenixon »

Sagebrush wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 9:59 am...don't ask where because I've slept since then...
I have that problem also. :)
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Re: Food coloring

#12

Post by mikenixon »

Track T 2411 wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 10:10 am And for what it's worth, I don't ever want to own a vehicle that I'm afraid to drive or ride!
Me neither! I get pretty nervy around sparkling jewels.
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Re: Food coloring

#13

Post by mikenixon »

5speed wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 10:24 amfor the record..I don't like chrome..hate washing my vehicles...
Same here, on both counts. My daily rider looks like a prop from an apocalyptic movie. But like they say, "chrome don't get ya home..." :)
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Re: Food coloring

#14

Post by mikenixon »

Whiskerfish wrote: Thu Oct 08, 2020 2:22 pm Very apt description of the 1800 I purchased last year. 11 years old and better looking than it was on the showroom floor. Also had a 11 year old Air filter, 11 year old clutch fluid, 11 year old Brake fluid, etc etc etc......
Oh my!
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Re: Food coloring

#15

Post by pidjones »

And yet, all of the crap-looking bikes I seem to get also are crap inside. A challenge that I accept all too often. Glad I don't make my living doing it!
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