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Finding the right man for the job [2007/03]

 

It was on a fine sunny July day almost a year ago now that I snapped a bungee while securing my tail pack to my VFR400.  I went into my local bike shop to get a replacement…  and came out with a nice, shiny, 2001, red and black R6!  Well, it matched my leathers perfectly and a bit of retail therapy is just what every girl needs to cheer her up when her bungee has snapped.

The bike seemed great to start with, but I soon started having problems with it.  The back end wouldn’t grip on corners so my confidence dropped, especially on roundabouts.  My dealership told me new tyres would sort this out, but it didn’t.  The suspension was wallowy and the steering was vague so it was difficult to make tight turns or to steer accurately round bends.  My dealership told me the bike was fine and that it was just me not being used to the R6, so I accepted that I was just a bad rider and my confidence dropped even further.  The back brake kept binding in spite of my dealership doing a brake service for me… then the front brake bound on quite dramatically, which led to a heartstopping “stoppie” on the M275!  They worked a lot better after the next brake service, but after a few months the back started binding again… “ENOUGH”, I cried! 

So, feeling a little disloyal, I snuck my problem child down to the new Yamaha dealership at Fratton Park in Portsmouth.  Here they fitted a nice new rear disc and pads and cleaned all the gunge out of my callipers and pistons and BY ‘ECK did I notice the difference as I stopped dead and nearly fell off at the lightest touch of back brake when leaving their car park. “At last”, I thought to myself, “I’ve found someone who knows what they’re doing!”  So the next month I booked it in to have its full 24000 mile service, new front tyre, have the race team mechanic look over and set up the suspension for me and generally try to get my poor little machine working the way it should. 3 days before D-Day, I popped round to check they had my tyre in stock…  Shop closed for stocktake, open again Wednesday.   Popped in again on the Wednesday, still closed for stocktake…  Went to drop the R6 off on Thursday morning and found that yes, indeed, all the stock had now been taken and everyone had done a bunk!  The business had gone bankrupt and closed down! Crying into my lid, I called round all the other local bike shops and dealerships but was unable to find anyone who was willing to adjust my valve clearances. 

So I carried on riding my poorly machine with its only-just-legal front tyre and its demoralising handling…  right up until the point where the throttle stuck open at 6000rpm and I discovered that my clutch wouldn’t fully disengage when hot, even with the lever pulled back hard against the handgrip.The next day, a guy on an R6 filtered up next to my car window while I was on my way to work.  Feeling a little embarrassed, I wound my window down and asked him where he got his bike serviced.  Luckily the traffic lights stayed red long enough for him to give me the number of PSI Motorcycle Services before he blasted off like a guided missile! I phoned Paul at PSI the same day and was immediately impressed by his knowledge and his communication skills.  At last, a mechanic who didn’t make me feel stupid and who took my seriously when I asked for help but couldn’t tell him exactly what was wrong with the bike! Within 2 days, my bike had been fully serviced and fitted with its new front tyre. 

Paul had also noticed that the wheel alignment was way out, which had been causing my cornering problem.  The suspension was not only too soft, it was also set unevenly, so that one side was much softer than the other.  This explained why the steering was so unpredictable and vague.  The throttle problem was partly a result of the cable needing lubrication but also someone had previously taken the cover off the carburettors and not reattached it properly, so they were bouncing about all over the place and needed balancing.  He spotted few other minor problems too. Poor riding?!  Not used to an R6?!!  Nothing wrong with it??!!! I was utterly overjoyed!!!!  AT LONG LAST someone had found out how to make my bike handle like a real R6 should and was willing and able to fix it for me! After he’d explained all this to me by phone, Paul did all the work quickly and efficiently, keeping me up to date by text because he knew I couldn’t easily take phone calls at work. 

The cost was less than Portsmouth Yamaha had initially estimated and more was done for the money. How’s the bike?  It’s so happy it celebrated by taking me round Cadwell Park last week for my first ever track day.  The steering was spot on, there were no slips or slides from the back end, the engine purred smoothly round the bends and built up to a gorgeous roar down the straights, the brakes were strong and accurate and as for my riding…  well, let’s just say it wasn’t as bad as my local bike shop had made me think!   

Paul Smedley of PSI Motorcycle Services is at 15 Lily Avenue, Widley, Waterlooville,  PO7 5BQ. Tel 023 9238 4101 or Mob 07760 178178. 

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