Rides Like a Big Girl’s Blouse

So its official, I’m going to have to toughen up.
I can’t keep treating this biking malarkey as a cosy pastime. There will be no more sitting around toasting my hands around my blazing hot grips – winter commuting is not for pansies.

I arranged to meet Lynn after work yesterday for tea at our favourite vegetarian caff. I set off for the 2 mile trek with heated grips on full blast and pulled up outside the eatery leaving the parking light on to save my lovely Triumph from any unintended crumple incidents.

A couple of hours later we clambered into and onto our respective modes of transport with me quipping that the only thing that could prevent me arriving home first would be a flat battery from my silly parking light.


By the time I’d removed my disk lock, fiddled with my helmet and managed to get my gloves to sit neatly under my cuffs, Lynn was long gone. By the time I’d gone through the start up process a few times, listening to the usual whir and the most unusual click and die, she must have been at least half way home.


Good job I had my phone and breakdown cover and a girlfriend with a car.
10 minutes later, Lynn was back to rescue me and provide shelter from the rain.
3.5 hours later the breakdown recovery vehicle arrived.

He may have taken quite a long time to arrive but I think he was very good value when he finally got there. As a keen biker himself he had to get in a few digs about my “not a proper” Bonneville, which of course is true but I didn’t want a proper 1960’s bike, just imagine how unreliable that would be.

We all mucked in trying to fathom out where the battery would be hidden, we had both side panels off and it took 3 fine minds to work out the intricacies of saddle removal. I feel like I’ve served a mechanics apprenticeship now.

The battery was flat but he had it turning over in seconds. By the time we had reassembled the pieces he was confident that the machine would start up unaided and he was desperate to switch it off again so he could jump on my bike and show me how to bump start it. For someone full of disparaging remarks he was mighty keen to try the Triumph out for size.

Luckily the starter motor worked fine because he wasn’t going to get it bump started anytime soon. Seems the trick with bump starts is to get the ignition on, put the bike in 2nd gear, roll with it down a hill with the clutch engaged and then just pop the clutch. We didn’t get further than turning on the ignition as it seems the modern Bonneville prevents you moving beyond 1st gear unless the engine is started.

Basically if you can’t get the engine to start via the electric ignition switch you are stuffed. Bet you didn’t get that with those “proper” Bonnies that came stocked with kick starts and centre stands.


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  • I’ve just been on the triumph forum again and it seems it is perfectly possible to bump start a Bonnie.

    It sounds as though there is a bit of knack to getting the bike in gear – rocking the engine back and forth to get things moving helps, and it sounds as though there might be a dangerous edge to the art:

    “When the engine isn’t running, if you rock the bike gently back and forward whilst changing gear (up or down) you should be able to find second or third gear for bump starting.

    If pushing the bike, third is better as there’ll be less torque to wrestle with/rip the bike from your hands when she fires. The trick is to have a hand on the clutch lever and pull it in and blip the throttle as the bike fires.

    It’s much safer to be sitting on the bike rolling down hill when bump starting (in second): get it wrong running along with the bike and you could find yourself being dragged down the road or watching your bike roar off on its own.”

    I might have a practice later, at the very least it should give me something else to blog about.

  • mark

    Also – its a good idea to raise yourself up and then sit down HARD at the same time as letting out the clutch. This will ensure a better grip on the road to stop the back wheel from locking.