Horseshoe bay on the North Shore was a pretty spot and had several good restaurants, in this one overlooking the bay we enjoyed a nice meal watching the boats with Harri and Judy. This was last calm before the storm of getting the bike out.
Releasing the bike from customs proved to be a more of a mission than we had hoped. Harri was a huge help, it took lots of phone calls and running around to sort things out complicated by the fact that we were dealing with people the other side of the country in different time zones.
This stuff is never easy and something as unusual as a “temporary” personal motorcycle import (we run on English licence plates) always seems to cause some confusion simply because they don’t deal with this sort of thing very often. We know the drill by now having done it many times but each country has its own rules, regulations and departments so it’s never quite the same.
We got there in the end and picked up the bike from a customs bonded warehouse just outside of town. I was cross to discover that customs had torn open the side of the crate using a crowbar rather than just undoing six bolts and removing the end door but at least the bike was here and undamaged. A special thank you to Harri, Case and John for the use of their trailer and tools and help with unloading.
Tyres were considerably cheaper in Canada than Australia so we deliberately shipped our bike with the old worn out tyres that would get squashed down during transit. To my surprise I found I had a new front tyre in the garage at home that I had not had time to fit before we left.
Our luggage allowance was governed by height, width, length and weight, so one of our suitcases for the trip from England to Canada was the new tyre with a bevel box (the original was damaged after the accident and we had a spare replacement at home) strapped inside and odd packages taped inside the tyre wall. Although it raised more than a few eyebrows at the check-in they accepted it as luggage…..
After ensuring the necessary bike insurances were in order for Canada and the USA and with new tyres now on, our very first ride out was fittingly to Grant and Susan’s home for lunch. They are the founders of Horizon’s Unlimited.com a motorcycle travel website which is an absolute must for any motorcycle traveller.
During our time in Vancouver we were contacted by David a Kiwi and ex motorcycle traveller who has now made Vancouver his home. He wanted to meet us and see if there was anything he could do to help. He got some welding done for us and arranged this meet up with Grant and Susan which was a nice surprise. Grant, Susan and her sister treated us all to a lovely lunch at their home. Thanks to all involved it was a great afternoon.
Here we are all enjoying lunch on the deck and a group shot outside with the bikes. Karen and Jeffrey are holding their mascots. Jeffrey is Indonesian and riding round the world for peace.
Techy bit next skip to “On our way into town” paragraph below if this isn’t your thing.
Before leaving Australia as we had the time, good spares availability and the use of a workshop I had done a fair bit of work on the bike in Melbourne.
Partly by Karma and partly by luck I managed to acquire a pair of twin plug, big valve Le Man’s cylinder heads reasonably cheaply and I am very grateful to Richard for his help with this.
It meant I was able to give Mario (from Thunderbikes) back the left hand cylinder head that he kindly loaned us when we damaged ours way back in Queensland. It also was the perfect opportunity to replace my very worn original carburettors which I could longer obtain spare square slides for with some bigger Dell Orto carbs (round slides) from one of the last carburetted California’s, again reasonably cheaply.
This made the bike breathe and run better but one problem persisted in that it didn’t start well especially from hot.
Initially I thought the problem was carburation but over time I came to suspect that it might be ignition related.
My original Lucas Rita electronic ignition had been faultless the whole trip but it was never designed to run a twin plug system. In addition the Rita’s advance is controlled electronically and could not easily be adjusted to suit the twin plug set up. It uses two 6 volt coils rather than the more common 12 volt ones. I found some 6 volt dual output coils which worked but I think the spark was weak and that was causing the starting problems.
By the time the bike was in Vancouver I was 80% there and from our brief trip home I had accumulated the parts necessary to put the bike back to points.
I got some 12 volt dual output ignition coils from Classic Solutions Engineering in the UK who have been super helpful throughout and a Dyna ignition amplifier from MG Cycles in the USA which uses the points as a switch. With this the ignition is still electronic but is able to switched back to a straight points set-up just by swapping a couple of wires around if there is ever a problem with the electronics, perfect !.
At Harri’s I wired it all up and tweaked the timing advance curve to suit the faster burn time of the twin spark heads and the bike ran REALLY well. It made considerably more power for the same fuel economy as the old 30mm carbs and pulled better, climbed better and started much better.
Thank you to Bernt from Stein Dinse Australia for the tips about modifying the distributor for twin spark heads, it was really worth the effort. It had a noticeable extra bark to the exhausts too and a lot of people since have said “your bike sounds really good”
On our way into town we saw this raccoon carrying its baby in her mouth. Harri and Judy took us to the tap house for dinner that night, they had a good offer whereby for $6 you could try three different tasters from their huge range of ales so we could sample some local beers cheaply. Canada makes some good ale. We also had to get used the vast array of choice in supermarkets/cafes/coffee shops etc, this is a row of pick your own flours, sugars, pasta you name it, even the vegetables are regularly sprayed with cooling water to keep them fresh and customers too if you don’t jump back away in time.
We took the bike back through Stanley park at night and were amazed by how beautiful it looked with the city lights in the distance. There was a fountain with coloured lights and nice reflections in the dark water.
The habour was even more photogenic with the reflection of the boats.
Even the Lion’s gate bridge was lit up.
Some members of Harri’s local motorcycle club The Time Travellers had helped us with trailers and assistance with getting our bike out of customs and advice on routes and travel up north so we rode our bike to their next meet in town to say hi and thank you.
One of our last rides before we headed out from Vancouver was to go back up Cypress hill at night and look back down on the city.
We really enjoyed our time in Vancouver it is a beautiful and city by day and night.
We would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Harri and Judy for their hospitality and friendship. Harri was a massive help and we enjoyed our stay with both of them immensely. Rose and Mikey had the grump that we were leaving but we would be back in a couple of weeks after our trip to Vancouver island albeit briefly before we headed north again.
Now we were ready for the start of our Canadian and Alaskan adventure, here are some pictures of the ferry crossing from Horseshoe bay to Vancouver Island our first stop.
Next up – Vancouver Island