December 2018

Another of our ex-USA 955 Sprint STs has come for a few things. It did sterling service in our care while over there, but has done virtually nothing since arriving in NZ. Seen here during the 2014 BSA International Rally at Petaluma, Northern California.

There were five of these bikes on our 10,000 mile tour following the rally, and this one suffered only 1 puncture in that distance. They proved to be as reliable as all the reviews I read prior to making this model our best choice. Besides that, all of the bikes were purchased from mostly private owners, and there were no problems of any kind with transactions or false misrepresentation. We were totally impressed with the integrity of the biking public in California.

One of our brief stops for refreshment somewhere in America. I do know where it was (day 58) but it hardly matters. Life on the road is about the ride.

There is a most ironic tale regarding this bike post America. The bikes were shipped to Christchurch and we all collected them from the warehouse, mostly by just reconnecting the battery and riding them home with their foreign plates. That is what happened with this bike, but the owner lives in a rather remote area of Banks Peninsula, about a mile along a heavily metalled road after the seal ends. They are not the easiest bikes to ride in gravel, what with narrow bars, restricted steering lock and wide tyres that do not penetrate the loose surface. Unfortunately they left the road and became stuck, still upright, in the ditch at the road edge. Unable to manhandle it out by himself, the owner sought the help of a nearby farmer, who attempted to drag the bike out using a towrope on his vehicle. The geometry of the tow was such that the bike ended up on its side causing a fair bit of cosmetic damage. After 10,000 troublefree miles this was a bit of an insult, and the bike was left to its own devices for this and other reasons.

There is a compliance process for vehicles entering NZ, and it involves a fairly thorough mechanical check. Obviously everything would need to be checked and put right should it be necessary after the event, so having ignored it for some years, it had now become my job. The bike was in the same state that it left the ditch when it got delivered to me, so first thing was to give it a good clean. I removed most of the bodywork and did just that.

It cleaned up well and there were no signs of any damage other than the scratches on the paintwork, so that was a relief. The front tyre was worn below an acceptable level, so I fitted a new Pirelli Diablo that had accompanied the bike home from America. A new battery had already been fitted, and I soon found that the rear chain was also in need of replacement. All these were done and the bodywork left off so that the compliance test would be easier managed with everything visible.

A test ride revealed that the brakes had a little too much lever travel, so I bled all the old fluid out and halved the travel in the process. Looking good.

With the lower bodywork removed these bikes are quite trim, and comfortable to ride like this. For prolonged high speed touring though the added protection and streamlining do make life easier.

Being American imports the speedos are in miles, but there are not many of them on this bike. Barely run in...

Despite being fitted in the latter stages of the tour, this Dunlop tyre has more than half its tread left.

I had a pair of Pirelli Diablos on my Sprint for the final month in California, and they were a delight in use. I had nursed my original Dunlops right around America, and they were already part worn when I bought the bike, so they did very well. However, the first ride with the Pirellis was a revelation, and I discovered that my Sprint was a much better handling bike than I had thought.

With all the preliminaries completed the bike went for its compliance check. It flew through with nary an unfavourable comment, but then came unstuck because the original American title papers were absent. We are now awaiting the arrival of a replacement title from California in order to complete things and obtain an NZ plate, after which the bike will be sold.

I thus refitted all the missing panels and gave it a bit of polish as befit the occasion.

The abrasions on the right side fairing look less evident in the photo than in the flesh, but everything fits up and is totally usable, so it is just a cosmetic blemish that a proud owner would likely have repaired. Not much point in doing so at this point as it would simply add to the sale price and look less attractive financially versus more attractive aesthetically. looks pretty damn good though.

The panniers are not quite the right colour blue, but they are what came with it. They appear to be rather low mileage as all the webbing is still present and in good condition. Only one of the other bikes still had any left at all.

So here we are in full touring trim. Ready for another 10,000 miles without anything needing doing I would think. We will have spent a thousand dollars on it by the time the plate is fitted, but that will hardly allow a higher price to be obtained.

Considering this bike is the same year as mine but has done considerably less miles I seriously considered selling mine and buying this, but then, Mr Green and I have built up a fair bit of history together, so I'm probably staying put.

Excellent machine though.